Sign of the Lion
Chapter 14 - Sense and No Sense
Harry watched as two men argued furiously together. He couldn’t make out their features, only able to see their outlines against a washed out fire. He didn’t know what the argument was about, but was convinced it was something important.
“I need the raven,” snapped the man adorned with a scraggly goatee.
The other countered quickly, “Wanting is not needing, Salazar.”
Harry started in surprise. He squinted against the light and was unimpressed by their appearance. Somehow he had expected Salazar Slytherin and Godric Gryffindor to look a little more likeable. Harry felt a searing pain where his lion mark was and held an arm to it. The next second, the fire roared higher and shot to the roof.
Salazar scowled at it. “You cannot frighten me with your wandless magic.”
“I do believe I have.”
“No matter how hard you try,” Slytherin hissed. “Ravenclaw will always be mine.”
The sight swam out of focus with an unpleasant dizzy feeling which reminded Harry of Floo powder. He tumbled head of heels upon landing on a painfully hard surface, thankful that he didn’t have to worry about any glasses. He just lay there and tried to balance his spinning thoughts.
The stones beneath him were frigid and there was a dull throbbing in his ears. Harry levered himself up into a sitting position and looked around. The room he was in bore resemblance to the courts of the Ministry of Magic, just on a smaller scale. There was an old witch hunched over on one bench, sobbing. Harry said cautiously, “Are you alright?”
She didn’t answer, but threw herself into a fresh wave of tears. Harry got to his feet and walked to her slowly, looking about to make sure the room was empty. The woman continued to sob miserably and didn’t notice his presence in the room. Harry was perplexed.
A squawk announced the arrival of a post bird as it flew in through an upper window. The woman grappled at it and tore the letter from its claws. The bird turned to Harry, eyes of yellow burning into him. It was a raven. Harry wind milled backwards into the waiting dark...
Harry opened his eyes. Above the sky was a painful blue, shot through with clouds. A large Beater’s club appeared over him and seemed to fall in slow motion. For one wild moment, he convinced himself that it was a dream, a dream where he was a Bludger. But a gut feeling told him otherwise. Harry rolled over onto his stomach just as the club thudded into the grass.
“I told you it would wake him!” Siobhan said ecstatically.
Harry heard it whistle past his ear and rolled back onto his back. Framed by the sky was Hermione’s worried frown and Ron’s immensely freckly face. Soon a number of worried people circled one patch of blue sky left.
Alex and Siobhan giggled together when Harry sat up. They each had a club and were beaming, proud of their method in rousing the Quidditch captain. Harry secreted a glare in their direction and heaved himself up onto his feet. Ron asked neutrally, “What happened?”
Hermione stepped on his foot.
Harry massaged his temples. “Headache. How long was I under?”
“Ten minutes,” answered a squeaky voice from somewhere near his waist.
Harry’s eyes shot down to tiny Professor Flitwick. The diminutive wizard was holding his and Harry’s wands, a severe expression on his face. Harry didn’t know what good it would do if Flitwick had taken his wand. There was still the wandless magic to look out for. Just to prove that he wasn’t powerless, Harry set his eyes on his broom on the ground and silently willed it to rise.
Harry concentrated more intensely, the only thing happening a pounding in his head. He felt his knees buckle and staggered sideways into Ron. Hermione said briskly, “We’d better take him up to the hospital wing, then.”
Harry vaguely heard mutters and managed to discern that the Gryffindor students just out of his peripheral vision were wondering why Hermione hadn’t suggested that sooner...
Harry was aware of someone pushing a steaming cup into his arm and reflexively sculled it. The spinning room came into focus and he had a good idea who the main occupant of this study was – judging by the low ceiling and tiny seats.
“Why?” Harry croaked as soon as he could.
He saw Ron examining the windowsill with interest. Upon hearing him speak, Ron stood up, slamming his head on the ceiling.
Professor Flitwick was beside himself. “Mr Weasley! Do be careful!”
Ron grimaced, but got no sympathy from Hermione who merely turned the page of a heavy book disinterestedly before putting it aside calmly. Harry waited impatiently, counting the throbs of his head in the silence.
“Professor Flitwick, I think we’d all like an explanation,” Hermione said at last.
The minute professor crossed his arms elaborately. “It is quite simple, Miss Granger. He has exerted his abilities to the point of physical and magical exhaustion. It would not nearly be a problem, had his guardian been on hand.”
Ron hit his head, this time on a light, and cursed. Harry set aside his cup and watched as his friend sat down in a matching armchair, barely big enough for Ginny, let alone him.
“You could have helped,” Ron suggested hopefully. “Weren’t you pretty boy Diggory’s guardian?”
Harry winced as he watched Hermione’s well aimed book collide with the side of Ron’s head. Ron spluttered, indignantly, “What was that for? Since when you could throw?”
Sympathy moved to amusement as Hermione answered, voice dripping with sarcasm, “Would you like me to kiss it better?”
“If you think that would help,” Ron supplied and blew a kiss at her.
Harry cleared his throat nosily. “Professor, I hate to say it – but I don’t know who my guardian is. I don’t doubt your sincerity in helping me, but Cedric was your charge. I’m not him.”
Hermione had the available space to look impressed while a pink tinge took up most of her neck and face. She snapped her fingers and managed excitedly, “Professor Lupin!”
Hermione looked at their perplexed expressions for a moment then said rapidly, “It makes sense! He was a friend of Harry’s father and he taught Harry the Patronus.”
“I don’t think that has anything to do with it,” Harry protested, mentally reminding himself to write a letter to Moony.
Professor Flitwick nodded in agreement. “Many can teach, but only one is able to teach Mr Potter properly. I can only guide you, but my words were only for Mr Diggory. As for now, I will advise you not to use your powers without the aid of a wand until your body has grown accustomed to the power you now carry with you.”
Harry’s hand went for his pocket, but remembered he no longer carried it with him. Shrugging apologetically, he said nothing. Hermione made an exasperated noise. “Harry, if you don’t carry your wand don’t you think it would be unusual if you were suddenly able to trip someone up?”
“Like Cho Chang or Arisa Quintly?” Ron asked plaintively.
“I can tell you really don’t like them,” Harry deadpanned but had the decency to give in. “Fine, I’ll carry my wand with me.”
Flitwick looked relieved. He squeaked, “I think you should check in with Madame Pomphrey so that no one will be suspicious.”
Harry was already slouching towards the door and disappeared outside. His footsteps indicated he was going the right direction. Ron, Hermione and Flitwick all let out sighs of relief.
Harry did not go to the hospital wing, however. As soon as he reached the door, he turned and walked purposefully for the Gryffindor tower. He planned to grab his wand, broom and Invisibility Cloak and escape the confines of the castle. He moved almost soundlessly and passed by Mrs Norris who turned lamp like eyes on him before trotting for her master.
By the time Filch got there, Harry was already at the portrait. He cut across the Fat Lady, “Nymphit Toddle!”
The painting swung open. He was confronted with Nymphadora Tonks who began screaming at the top of her lungs. Startled, Harry jumped aside, just in time to avoid being squashed by his DADA teacher who was beyond hysterical. Harry was, however, grabbed by the hem of his robes and pulled down.
“Gotcha!” Tonks laughed.
Harry tried to get his breathing under control. He croaked, “What were you doing in our tower?”
Tonks sat up, grinning. “Oh the usual thing – teaching.”
“Teaching what?” Harry asked suspiciously.
A flitting expression of embarrassment passed over her face. She helped him to his feet. “I’m not a liberty to say. Hey, I didn’t give you much homework yesterday. Do you want some Butterbeer?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “But millions of other teachers did. Besides, even teachers can’t take students to the Three Broomsticks.”
Tonks looked crestfallen. Obviously, someone had omitted to tell her this. Feeling slightly guilty though he’d done nothing wrong, Harry looked around the corridor to make sure no one was in earshot.
“If you’d just let me change,” he said casually. “I’m sure we can go to Hogsmeade.”
“This is amazing!”
Harry did not share Tonks’ sentiment with the passageway. His wand, lit and bouncing faint light along the ground, came across the steps. Tonks made to jump on them but Harry stopped her. “Perhaps I’d better go first.”
It was not an all together feeling climbing the stairs with Tonks trying to startle him with each step they took. Harry was about to give up on ever escaping her and was wondering why he had brought her along when his head struck the trapdoor. He rattled off a list of words he’d heard Ron use over the holidays.
“Harry James Potter!” Tonks said, aghast. “Your vocabulary is not complete.”
She joined in with a much more impressive catalogue. Harry, shaking his head, opened the trap door when she had fallen silent and led her out into the basement of Honeydukes. Tonks looked around cheerfully. “Just as I remember it! I worked part time down here once.”
“I thought they only employed full time,” Harry pointed out.
Tonks batted him on the head. “The other time I was...discussing...work with my colleague.”
They crept past the snoozing store owner and walked into the late afternoon light of the village. Harry breathed deeply – he finally had escaped from his friends’ concern for his wellbeing. He had been able to spell his scar away, but had made use of some concealing cream found at the bottom of Ron’s trunk. He quickly pulled out his wand and tapped his head. Immediately, his hair was a dull brown.
“Come on!” Tonks insisted, pulling him down the road excitedly.
Harry wondered momentarily if he had achieved freedom at all. While he would have been lonely without the random comments Tonk’s made, he could have certainly done without the chatter. But then, he didn’t have to think about fighting Voldemort or Hermione’s overwhelming tirade of support. Gryffindor heir or not, he was going to enjoy himself without Siobhan or Alex jumping out from behind furniture like they had in the 6th year boys’ dormitories.
Harry followed Tonks into the Three Broomsticks.