Harry yawned loudly, causing Ron to look up from across the table and
meet his eyes. Harry squeezed his eyes closed and shrugged his
shoulders in apology.
“It’s late, Hermione, let’s go to bed,” said
Ron as he closed the book he was skimming for defense spells with a
dull and dusty thud.
Harry nodded in agreement, his body
aching with fatigue. He sighed and looked at his watch; midnight had
come and gone and the library had emptied out hours before. The only
reason they still remained was that Hermione had asked and received
special permission from Madam Pince before closing.
want to bring it back to the common room?” Hermione asked him quietly,
and Harry shook his head as he shut the book. He handed it to her, and
she got up from the table to place it back on the shelf in the
Once the news of Voldemort’s return and
the rumors of a coming war had slowly entered into the consciousness of
Harry’s classmates, they had been coming to him with different spells
they had heard of or read somewhere. The three of them had been
spending time in the library trying to separate the real spells that
might be useful from the ones that were plain foolishness.
pushed in his chair and followed Ron and Hermione as they walked out of
the library. Pausing behind them, he raked a hand through his unruly
black hair. He pulled a folded piece of parchment from the back pocket
of his jeans and unfolded it. Harry murmured the incantation quietly,
watching the parchment closely to see if any of the teachers or Filch
was out or about. They had no desire to run into Filch or Mrs. Norris,
even with permission to be out. He folded and put it into one pocket
and pulled his Invisibility Cloak from the other.
it looks as if we’ll have to be careful when we reach our hallway.
Filch and Mrs. Norris are on the sixth floor,” he said as he shook out
the cloak. Ron and Hermione crowded close around him, and Ron bent over
so his feet wouldn’t show. He wrapped the cloak around them, and they
walked silently up the stairs; the only sounds were the soft swoosh of
the long cloak and an occasional stifled yawn from one of them.
reached the seventh floor landing and stopped, blinded by a strange,
piercing light coming from around the hall corner. It waxed and waned
and threw out a magnificent arc of green light that illuminated the
stone walls and seemed to stun the portraits. There was a loud thump
and the light disappeared. Immediately an odd sound wafted towards them.
“Do you hear that?” Hermione asked her body tensing as she turned towards Ron and Harry.
“What? Is it crying, you mean?” Ron looked down at her. “It’s probably Moaning Myrtle.”
Hermione whispered as she peered out of the cloak into the gathering
gloom of the hallway. “I’ve never seen Myrtle anywhere near our floor;
besides, it doesn’t sound like her. I think it may have something do
with the odd light we just saw.”
The noise from the other end
of the hall increased in volume and the three of them pulled out their
wands. “What do you think it is?” Harry asked, pushing his glasses
further up on his nose. He took the lead as they walked towards to the
“I don’t know. I can’t imagine anyone using a deserted
hallway as a place to have a good cry; besides, whoever it is, they
sound as if they’re in pain. Oh!” she said breathlessly. “Look at all
the portraits! None of them are moving at all! They all seem to be
paralyzed in their frames, just like Muggle paintings.”
was right. All the portraits were immobilized and looking towards the
hallway as the massive arc of light must have awoken them, but every
single expression was one of surprise and fear.
The few lit
torches flickered in their brackets, the flames illuminating the stone
walls briefly as they passed. Light was scarce through here, as
everyone else in the castle was abed for the night. They walked towards
the darkened corner of the hallway and peered into the gloom and saw a
hunched figure lying beneath a large empty portrait.
Harry whispered, bringing his wand hand out of the cloak. He looked at
the painting curiously. The light was not reflecting off the canvas,
but in fact looked as if it were being absorbed by the blackness. But
then his attention was taken over by what was under the portrait.
before them sprawled face down on the cold marble floor was a girl, her
tattered and shredded robes spreading around her like broken bats
wings. She turned her face towards the floor and rested her cheek on
the cold stone. She tried to pull her arms and legs under her, as close
to her body as possible, but was not able to accomplish it without
moaning in pain.
“Blimey,” Ron exclaimed as they pulled off
the Invisibility cloak and rushed towards her, wanting to help, but not
knowing what to do.
“I’ll run for Madam Pomfrey,” Hermione said, her voice shaking as she noticed deep gashes on the girl’s legs.
“Good idea,” said Harry as he kneeled down next to the girl. “Ron, go get Professor McGonagall.”
nodded. Both he and Hermione ran back down the hallway, their footsteps
gradually disappearing as they headed in separate directions.
watched helplessly as the girl’s breath hitched with silent sobs. She
tried to push herself up on her hands, her forehead still on the floor.
“Hey,” Harry said softly, laying a hand on her shoulder. “Maybe you
should wait for Madam Pom…”
The girl flinched at his touch and
whipped into a sitting position. Her long dirty hair hung in her face,
obscuring it from view. She crab walked backwards until she hit the
corner of the hallway, scrambling away from him. She pulled her legs
close to her chest, her knees scraped and raw. She was shaking her head
as if to ward him away.
“I’m sorry,” whispered Harry, inching
closer as the girl wrapped her arms around her knees, bringing her
forehead down to rest on her scraped kneecaps. She was unbelievably
filthy and bleeding from various cuts and scrapes all along her arms
and legs. Harry winced as he noticed her bare feet; one of her heels
was swollen and oozing a foul-looking yellow liquid. Harry wasn’t sure,
but it looked infected. “I’m here to help you, I won’t hurt you.”
light from the full moon shone through the leaded mullioned windows
behind her and turned the girl’s pale hair an odd silvery color. Harry
was struck by an urge to place his hand on the top of her bowed head,
wanting to take all her pain away.
“Who did this to you?” he
whispered. Harry wished the idea of one of his fellow students, a girl
no less, being viciously attacked at Hogwarts was unheard of, but he
knew it had happened many times in the past.
The girl raised
her head slowly as she took a ragged breath. She brought her hands up
and pushed her palms against her eyes, exposing her broken and
dirt-encrusted fingernails. Her shaking hands continued upwards into
her hair, her body wincing slightly as they caught on tangles, exposing
her face more clearly. Harry fought the urge to cringe again at the
sight of her swollen and scraped cheek. The skin under her eyes was
bruised black with a sickening purple green tinge.
tell me what your name is?” Harry asked softly as he brought the light
from his wand closer to her. “What House do you belong to?” There was
something about her that seemed familiar, but he wasn’t able to place
where or when he had seen her before.
She opened her eyes slowly and looked up towards him. She looked confused, her brow furrowing in bewilderment and despair.
“Henry?” she whispered in a raspy and raw voice. She closed her eyes tightly against the sudden brightness from his wand.
any thoughts of the mysterious Henry were lost as she gasped in sudden
pain, her spine straightening as she tightly squeezed her eyes closed.
She grabbed behind her at the stone walls, trying desperately for
purchase, but failing. An anguished moan escaped her lips and her head
fell forward onto her knees. The sound of the rushing feet on the stone
floor reached them, and Harry looked away from her as she brought her
arms up to cover her head with them. She whimpered pitifully as she
tried to ward off whatever silent demons were plaguing her. Ron and
Professor McGonagall came running towards them, Professor McGonagall’s
tartan slippers flapping against the cold stone.
is it? What has happened?” Professor McGonagall said before she noticed
the girl. Ron stood behind her, his freckled face twisted with worry.
Harry noticed he kept tapping his wand against his robe, still on alert.
my dear Lord,” Professor McGonagall whispered as she rushed over to the
girl’s side. She kneeled down in front of her and asked, “Who is she?”
don’t know, Professor,” Harry said as he moved closer to the girl,
gently placing his hand on her shoulder. As his hand touched her robe,
Harry felt the world shift, and he was plunged into absolute silent darkness.
blackness felt oily and claustrophobic. It was hard to breathe. With a
start, he realized his wand was gone. He put his arms out in front of
him, not sure if there was anything or anyone there. He felt off
balanced, like he could fall to the floor at any moment. He kneeled
down to touch and reassure himself there actually was a ground below
him. His fingers drifted over a gravelly surface next to his trainers,
and he brought it up to his nose. It was dirt. He brushed his hand off
and slowly stood back up. From somewhere to his left came the faint
sound of breathing, and a laugh echoed quietly in the darkness, causing
a tingle of fear to race down his spine.
In the darkness, he
heard something or someone whisper his name, and then he slammed back
into himself, kneeling in the hallway. The hand holding his wand
smashed to the floor as he fought to keep himself from falling over.
spell Professor McGonagall spoke to light the flames in the sconces
seemed to come from a great distance. Harry watched her mouth move,
trying to make sense of what had just happened.
prickled with a sharp pain as he grabbed the girl’s hand, and he fought
the urge to pull away from her at the same time the girl winced and
started to pull away from him. Instead of letting go, he squeezed her
hand gently, and she relaxed her grip as if she had no more strength to
fight. Harry felt sorry instantly as he noticed how badly her hands
were scraped and cut. He rubbed at his scar with the back of the hand
holding his wand.
He cleared his throat when his first attempt
to speak failed. “I haven’t been able to get her to speak to me and I
don’t recognize her,” Harry said.
“Where is Miss Granger?”
“She went to fetch Madam Pomfrey.”
if the sound of her name summoned her, Madam Pomfrey appeared next to
Professor McGonagall, her skirts billowing around her as she kneeled
down next to Harry. She exclaimed in horror at the girl’s condition and
pulled out her wand.
“Minerva, we need to get her back to the hospital wing. I can’t treat her here in the hallway.”
“Who could have done this?” Professor McGonagall asked no one in particular, her pinched face ashen.
“We don’t know, Professor,” Hermione said, grasping Ron’s arm. “We were going back to the common room when we heard her crying.”
girl suddenly slumped over onto her side and fainted, her hair sliding
away from her pale face with a hand still firmly held in Harry’s grasp.
“Weasley, go notify the Headmaster, tell him to meet us in the hospital wing. The password for his office is snockering snickerbees!”
McGonagall called after him, but Ron had already started running down
the corridor. The deputy headmistress squared her shoulders as she
stood up and pushed her glasses up on her nose, looking down at the
Harry let go of the girl’s hand as Professor
McGonagall flicked her wand at the unconscious young woman. She rose
off of the floor and hovered prone in the air, her robes brushing the
stone floor. “Come on, Poppy.”
The five of them made their way
slowly down four floors to the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey ran ahead
as they neared the open double doors. She pulled down the sheets of the
farthest bed in the room, the one Harry had spent many nights in since
coming to Hogwarts years before. Professor McGonagall motioned her wand
towards the bed and the girl fell gently onto the clean sheets, still
in a faint.
“I almost don’t know where to begin,” Madam
Pomfrey murmured as she started to examine the girl. She gently pulled
the shredded robes from her and then stopped. “Minerva, look at this.”
Professor McGonagall came up beside the bed,
and Madam Pomfrey pointed towards the breast of the robe. Professor
McGonagall started in surprise at the sight of the Gryffindor crest on
the girl’s garment. “I’ve never seen her before, and I know all of the students in my classes!”
and Hermione exchanged a worried glance, and Hermione inched closer to
Harry and curled her hand around his upper arm. This was getting odder
and odder. Who was this girl?
Behind them the hospital doors
swung open and Professor Dumbledore glided through, clutching his
walking staff and wearing a scarlet robe over his pajamas. His staff
thudded against the floor as he strode towards the bed. Ron followed
closely behind him.
“Professor McGonagall, what has happened?
Only by pure luck was I able to meet young Weasley in front of my
office before he awoke the entire school. He said a student has been
“It’s true, Professor Dumbledore, another student
has been attacked,” Professor McGonagall said, her voice shaking.
She turned back towards the bed as
Madame Pomfrey invoked a spell to change the girl’s dirty, ripped robes
and filthy uniform instantly into a clean white shift. Madame Pomfrey
waved her wand towards the shelf under the bedside cabinet and her
discarded clothes settled there, neatly folded. She then walked to her
office, returning a moment later with a large vial of a smoking purple
“Who is she?” Dumbledore asked as he approached the bed.
don’t know, Albus, she’s wearing a Gryffindor crest, but I don’t
recognize her. Do you think she could belong to another House and is
only wearing –“
She tore her gaze away from the girl to look
at Professor Dumbledore who had stopped a foot from the girl’s bed.
“Albus?” she asked, stricken by the expression on his face.
I suppose you wouldn’t recognize her, would you?” His voice was soft as
he gazed down at the girl. “She was after your time.”
Pomfrey had moved to the girl’s head, almost complete with the cleaning
of the girl’s wounds and removing the dirt and filth that covered her.
“Oh my, oh no,” she exclaimed, causing all eyes to swing to her as the
blood drained from her face. The hand holding her wand started to shake
as the other came up to cover her mouth, masking her look of horror.
three students standing behind the teachers stiffened, and Hermione
grasped Ron’s and Harry’s arms in fear as they moved closer towards the
bed. Professor McGonagall steadied Madam Pomfrey’s wand arm. “Poppy?
What is it? What’s the matter?”
Madam Pomfrey shook her head
and started to mutter different spells and potions under her breath.
She looked up with a stricken expression on her face. “I’ll have to
check my books but I don’t know if we have a potion on hand powerful
enough to heal her, Professor Dumbledore, her tongue is missing! We’ll
have to transfer her to St. Mungo’s.”
Professor McGonagall’s face turned even whiter as she gasped.
“But, but she spoke to me!” Harry exclaimed, and the two teachers and nurse turned to him in surprise.
“Potter, I thought you said she had not spoken,” McGonagall said with reproach.
“And then what happened, Harry?” Dumbledore asked quietly.
looked at the three adults and then back towards the girl. “When I
asked her what House she was in, she looked up at me and said the name
Henry. Then she gasped, like she was in terrible pain and a moment
later when Professor McGonagall arrived, she fainted.”
looked thoughtful as he stroked his long white beard and after a moment
spoke. “I haven’t seen a curse this powerful in over fifty years.”
McGonagall brought her hand up to her throat. “A curse removed this poor girl’s tongue?”
yes, Professor McGonagall.” Dumbledore said as he summoned a chair
close to the bed. He sat down heavily, as if carrying a terrible
burden. He looked at the sleeping girl, his face betraying no emotion.
“The moment she spoke her first word, the curse went in effect.” He
clutched his staff tightly with both hands. “Someone went through a lot
of trouble to keep this young lady silent.” He looked out towards the
windows, deep in thought. “Madam Pomfrey, it is imperative that she
stays here, where we can protect her. I have complete trust in you. I
know you will do everything in your power to cure her of her wounds.”
turned towards Madam Pomfrey, but his face wavered for a moment and
even he seemed shaken. “If you can not, I may be able to assist you.”
“Do you know her, Professor Dumbledore?” Professor McGonagall asked.
Professor McGonagall,” he said as he shifted in his seat towards the
three teenagers standing behind him. Professor McGonagall tsked at the
sight of the three students standing near the doorway of the infirmary.
three, back to Gryffindor Tower immediately, and what the three of you
were doing roaming the halls at this hour, I do not care to know.”
McGonagall said sharply as she closed her eyes, then she sighed and
softened her voice. “Potter, Weasley, Granger? Please keep this to
yourselves until we have discovered who did this to her.”
three of them nodded as they started walking slowly towards the doors,
not wanting to miss the conversation as Professor McGonagall turned
back to Dumbledore.
“Albus? Who is she?”
waited until Madam Pomfrey had walked briskly back into her office
before answering. “She was a student here, Minerva; her name is Adria
“Adria Thornwood? Alazar Thornwood’s daughter?”
asked Professor McGonagall thoughtfully. “I thought she was murdered
along with the rest of her family by Grindelwald.” She stopped speaking
and looked off towards the high windows. “I remember hearing stories
about a student who went missing while attending Hogwarts; however, I
always felt it was a rumor. I never dreamed it was Adria Thornwood.
Albus, are you sure it’s her? The girl lying before us still looks
sixteen. Adria Thornwood has been missing for almost…”
yes, Minerva,” Dumbledore interrupted. “It wasn’t a rumor. Grindelwald
always said he had nothing to do with her disappearance and the murder
of her family, but I never believed him. It’s a mystery, yes? Where has
she been all this time, I wonder?”
McGonagall said as she and Dumbledore’s shadows moved against the
curtain. “She hasn’t used a time turner. We have all three of them we
are authorized to use under lock and key here within Hogwarts. I only
know this because I checked when Miss Granger turned the one she was
using back into me two years ago.”
summoned a chair for herself next to Dumbledore, and she sank into it
gratefully, her hands grasping the arms.
Harry, Ron and Hermione stopped just outside the hospital doors, their faces registering shock as they listened to Professor Dumbledore.
student suddenly returns after being missing for years?” Ron asked, a
bit louder than he meant to. Hermione shushed him as the wooden doors
swung silently shut behind him. Harry stood back, looking at the double
doors in silence, trying to make sense in his head everything that had
happened in the past hour.
“How come we never heard of her
before?” Ron asked as Hermione pulled on both of their shirts to get
them moving towards the common room.
“I don’t know, even
Professor McGonagall said she thought it was a rumor,” Hermione
whispered as they walked up the stairs towards their tower. “I can’t
imagine what the headmaster must have done to keep her disappearance
from the Daily Prophet and from the history of Grindelwald.”
cursed her?” Harry said as he stopped outside of the entrance to the
Gryffindor common room. He said the password, and the Fat Lady snorted
as she woke up to let them in. Hermione shuddered as she walked through
the hole behind the portrait.
“She must be somewhere in the
history of this school,” Hermione said as she fell into one of the
cushy armchairs in front of the fire. “Did you see Professor
Dumbledore? He looked as if he aged a hundred years overnight.”
suppose you would too if a student whom you thought dead returned after
being gone for however many years,” Ron said as he sank into the
armchair across from Hermione.
“More importantly,” Hermione said as she rubbed her temples, “why hasn’t she aged? She still looks young.”
shrugged and played with a loose thread of his jumper. “Are there any
books in here? You know, with pictures from the previous Houses?”
“Do you mean like Hogwarts, A History but
with pictures of past Houses? Hmmm…” Hermione closed her eyes, her head
falling against the back of the chair. She rubbed her temples as she
thought about Ron’s question. “I can’t think of any other Hogwarts
books like that. But are there other books? There are few on the shelf
that may be helpful, but I don’t have the energy to go through them
Harry stood behind them, only half listening to
their conversation. He was still thinking about the girl. Adria. Why
had she seemed so familiar?
“We should investigate the
Thornwood’s,” Harry said, turning towards his friends. “And
Grindelwald. What do we know of him, anyway? We’ve been so caught up in
trying to defeat Voldemort that we’ve forgotten about who came before
Hermione looked thoughtful. “You may be right. I wonder
if there are any books on Grindelwald in the Restricted Section. I
loathe asking Madam Pince for help; she would probably rescind my
approval for being in there in the first place.”
“Ron, do you remember anything about the Thornwood family?” Harry asked his friend, who was staring at the fire.
mate. Wait,” Ron said as he sat forward in his chair. “I think I
remember my father mentioning the name before. Think, Ron. Think.” He
closed his eyes and tapped his forehead. “Sorry, Harry. I can’t
remember. I could ask Mum; she seems to know everyone in the wizarding
world, but then she’d want to know why I want to know.”
Harry felt a pang of acute loss for Sirius. His godfather would have known about the Thornwoods, Harry was sure of it.
about Professor Lupin?” Hermione asked as she stood up from the chair
and stretched, yawning loudly. “Write to him, he may know something,
but let’s not talk about this anymore tonight. My head is spinning.
Thankfully tomorrow is Saturday and I need to go to sleep. I’ll be able
to do some more research after the library opens tomorrow. Goodnight,
Harry. Goodnight, Ron,” she said as she went up the stairs to her
The boys both said goodnight, and Harry pretended
not to notice Ron’s eyes following Hermione as she walked away. He sat
down in Hermione’s deserted chair, and Crookshanks jumped up on the
arm, purring. Harry scratched his ears and looked towards Ron.
had his feet stretched out before him, his trainers dangerously close
to the fire grate. “I’ve never seen anyone in a state as she was,
Harry.” Ron said quietly.
“I know,” Harry said as Crookshanks
came down off of the arm and stepped into Harry’s lap, kneading his
paws into Harry’s stomach. His purring was loud enough to be heard over
the crackling of the fire. The cat turned towards Ron before settling
comfortably in Harry’s lap.
“The Unforgivable spells I saw
last year in the Department of Mysteries never leave a scratch on you.
She looked as if she crawled out of a grave,” said Ron as he templed
his fingers under his chin. “You don’t think…” he said as an awful idea
came to mind.
“No, I don’t,” said Harry quickly as he
scratched Crookshank’s ears. He stared at the fire for a moment, trying
to find the words to tell Ron of his encounter when he touched the
girl. “Something happened to me when I touched her.”
“What do you mean?”
I touched her shoulder, I was plunged into a dark tunnel or something.
It was black as night and stifling. Even odder, I could hear something
breathing and giggling.”
“Then what happened?”
nothing happened. I knelt down and touched the floor…” Harry broke off
as he looked down at his hand. There was dirt under his fingernails. He
turned it over and examined his hand, looking closely at the dark
smudge on his palm.
“What is it?”
“I don’t know, but my hand is dirty,” Harry said. “Did I leave at all? Suddenly disappeared and then reappeared a moment later?”
“No, you were there the entire time.” Ron shook his head. “Where do you think you were?”
must have been where she was.” Harry shuddered. “It was horrible, Ron.
I was in complete darkness, and it was hard to breathe. I hope she
hasn’t been trapped there for the last fifty years. If it were me, I
think I would have gone insane.”
“Who’s to say she hasn’t?”
“What do you mean?”
The girl, Adria. Who’s to say she isn’t barking? I think I would be
barkers too.” Ron shifted in his seat as he turned back towards the
fire. “It’s a mystery, which I’m sure Hermione will want to solve. It’s
late,” he paused and then yawned loudly. “We’ll think more clearly in
the morning. Let’s go to bed.”
“Sounds good to me, mate,”
Harry said as he stood up with Crookshanks in his arms. He put the
purring cat into the seat he just vacated and watched as Crookshanks
turned round and round, kneading the worn chintz covering with his
claws before finally curling up to go to sleep. He followed Ron up the
stairs, both of them moving carefully to their beds so they wouldn’t
wake Dean, Neville and Seamus.
Harry was so tired that he was tempted to crawl into bed in his clothes.
must have been tired,” Ron remarked quietly as he changed into his
pajamas. “She didn’t leave any knitting sitting around for the house
elves to find.” He rubbed his eyes and yawned again, not even bothering
to cover his mouth as he crawled under the covers.
didn’t answer Ron; instead he watched the moon through the window as he
buttoned his pajama shirt. It didn’t matter anyway; by the time Harry
pulled the covers back, Ron was already snoring.
the full moon. Not a good time to be sending an owl to Professor Lupin.
He would wait a few days, to give Professor Lupin time to recuperate
from the moon and also to see if they could find anything about the
girl or Grindelwald here at the school.
Harry yawned. He
should have been asleep hours ago. Tomorrow morning was Quidditch
practice, and if he was off his game, Katie Bell, their new team
captain, would surely make him aware of it. He closed his eyes and fell
into dreams about snitches with bright green eyes.