spent the morning doing various chores in the Morbino house. In truth,
he didn't really mind since Miranda would limp in on occasion and give
him drinks. While Harry was dusting their very large and old stone
fireplace, a pale woman's face poked out of the fireplace mantel, a
"Hello, you must be Harry," the ghost said with a soothing voice. "Miranda told me you were coming."
Harry said awkwardly, having to get over the initial surprise of a
ghost living in the house. While he was quite used to the Hogwarts
ghosts and knew that a ghoul lived at the Burrow, it never occurred to
him that a ghost would populate this cottage.
Ariel; I've known young Miranda for ages," the ghost said with a charm
and smile that quite surprised Harry. Taking a moment to size up the
ghost, Harry eased his guard. Nothing threatening about this ghost, he thought. At that, Miranda walked in and saw the two of them.
"Hi Ariel," Miranda said. "Isn't Harry the charming young man I told you he was?"
Harry could feel his face going red as Miranda set down what would be his fourth glass of lemonade.
"Thanks," Harry said as she turned around and started to walk away.
"Ariel, please don't gossip about me too much," Miranda said as though Ariel was a sister.
I'd never do that my dear," Ariel said as Miranda left. "You seem like
a youngster of stout character; I am so pleased she met you. Miranda
never seems to have many friends in Italy; I worry so."
"Well, I've never been called stout before," Harry said, blushing.
"So I understand you're an orphan like Miranda?" Ariel said.
Harry said slowly. "But it's a long story to go into here." Ariel
nodded. Harry thought about it for a moment. "Why is this house so
"Afflizione Harry. Miranda walks with a brave front, but she is a very lonely girl," Ariel answered with a hint of gloom.
Harry said when Ariel didn't reply. It seemed as though she was
frightened to speak, then a noise caused Ariel to jump, she turned and
flew through the wall.
never heard Miranda walk in. "Ready for some lunch?" Miranda said
sweetly, as Harry turned to face her. "Ariel does that sometimes, just
"Oh, yes I am." Harry smiled following her into the dinning room.
had the most delicious lunch Harry could remember having, a thin meat
called Prosciutto, a light pasta, a light salad with tomatoes in basil
and mozzarella. Prospo seemed to have regained some of his strength and
joined them. After lunch, Harry helped Gonzalo do some simple
gardening, pulling weeds in the courtyard. Before Harry knew it, the
detention hours agreed upon came up. Prospo agreed to write a letter
and send an owl post that night to the castle. While Harry waited in
the main hall for Gonzalo to take him across the lake, as he stood near
Miranda, he found the house quite curious and could not resist what was
on his mind.
"So, is Gonzalo your only servant?" Harry said, as he could not keep his eyes off her.
yes, as long as I can remember," Miranda answered. "All the other
servants left when I was six. Grandfather has never said why; that
seems to happen a lot with us."
Harry shrugged; he didn't know what to say.
"So, you play Quidditch?" Miranda jumped in. "I wish I was better on a broom; I admire the game so."
on the Gryffindor team," Harry said, taking the opportunity. "You
wouldn't, I mean, you couldn't be able to watch practice on Tuesday?"
"I'd love to!" Miranda replied without hesitation. "I'll ask grandfather if it's okay."
Harry smiled; they could hear Prospo upstairs.
sorry Harry; I don't want to be rude," Miranda said reluctantly, "I
think grandfather needs me, he's very sweet, but a little too
protective at times."
At that, Ariel appeared out of the roof.
has been nice to meet you Harry," Ariel said. Miranda smiled and leaned
over to kiss Harry on both cheeks. "An Italian custom," she whispered
helpfully before she walked off. Harry was taken aback, blushing. As
Miranda walked away into another room, Harry looked at Ariel.
"Ariel," Harry said carefully. "Is there something I should know about this place?"
Ariel looked frightened for a moment, hesitant to give him an answer. Then Ariel flew beside Harry and whispered to him.
"Perhaps – perhaps one with a lionhearted spirit," Ariel said, puzzling Harry.
do you believe in the power of your convictions?" Ariel continued
before Harry could react. "Then find the truth in this riddle."
'What resides in forgotten waters,
What hides in forgotten desires or dreams,
Its bellow existed when the world was still young,
Yet bellows evermore,
When the servant masters the master,
How will the bellow cease evermore?'
"Perhaps Harry, you could save her," Ariel said vanishing into the wall.
Harry stood puzzled. Soon Gonzalo took Harry to the other side of SecuutusLake.
As Gonzalo vanished, Harry waited for a moment. He had assumed that Mr.
Filch would be there waiting for him. Yet he was quite alone as he
walked back to Hogsmeade. On the walk back, Harry pondered what could make a ghost so frightened?
arriving back at the castle and to the comfort of the Gryffindor common
room, Harry simply wanted to take a rest. Harry walked in to find Ron
dressed and up on a couch reading, and Hermione in a chair. They both
gave Harry a very awkward look. Harry could instantly sense something
was wrong before a word was spoken.
"What?" Harry said bracingly.
"Harry, Filch was attacked right after he left you," Hermione said with alarm. Harry gave her a look, waiting for more.
live," Ron jumped in. "A rock came out of nowhere from the lake and hit
him in the head. I hear he's really spooked; swears he won't go near
that lake for another decade."
"McGonagall wants to ask you a few questions," Hermione said. "Come right back Harry; we need to talk."
went back to McGonagall's office, to his relief, the meeting was brief
and he walked straight back to the common room. Hermione was waiting
"Ron went back to bed," Hermione replied as Harry nodded, "Want to take a walk back to Hogsmeade for a Butterbeer?"
surprised Harry, while there was still under two hours of available
time at Hogsmeade; Hermione rarely liked to stretch things. In spite of
how tired he felt, he agreed. As they made their way out of the
Hogwarts grounds, as they walked to Hogsmeade, Harry could sense that
she wanted to say something to him, bring something up, but was holding
back. They soon arrived at the Three Broomsticks, got their drinks from
Madam Rosmerta, and found a vacant table in the back. Harry soon told
Hermione about what happened in the Morbino house, meeting Ariel the
ghost and the cryptic riddle Ariel had whispered. To Harry's surprise,
he remembered every word of the riddle, the 'servant masters the
master' stanza really stuck out in his mind.
definitely a clue," Hermione said with anxiety. "Either something is
controlling that family, or the reverse. Sounds like something very
old, but I have no idea."
"Hermione, what could frighten a ghost like that?" Harry asked.
"Don't know, Harry," Hermione replied. "Something very powerful."
"So the lake haunting and this family are connected?" Harry said, pondering. "Could it be dark magic? A spell?"
never answered, which didn't settle Harry's concerns. After they
finished their drinks and walked out the door, they were about to turn
a corner when Harry heard voices from the backside of the Three
Broomsticks. He froze, nearly having Hermione bump into him, as he
gestured for her to be quiet. They stood and listened quietly, out of
sight of the voices.
"Rosmerta, it's amazing the Potter boy came back from there in one piece."
"Tom, surely nothing would have happened. The house can't have any connection to what haunts the lake."
how can you be so naïve? Something most certainly wants no one near
there. I don't doubt some dark magic controls that house. You know of
all the strange happenings occurring for years now, especially over the
"But I met old man Morbino once. He seemed so dear, and that poor girl…"
was there when they pulled out that poor girl's parents, Antonio and
Iris Morbino from the lake. That drowning wasn't natural I tell you;
I'll never forget it. Both bodies looked like they were fighting
something underwater, it's unnerving, even in the Wizarding world.
Thank heavens that girl never saw them."
"Tom, didn't the lake haunting start after that incident?"
indeed, but I don't think it's the parents haunting that lake. Who's to
say the Grandfather isn't using Dark Magic, we don't know their
I never met an Italian Wizard I didn't trust. Their servant is a little
odd I admit; the servant could be involved in dark magic, but surely…."
"I wish I had such trust, Rosmerta. Hogwarts staff should be on their best guard."
found himself growing angry. How could they know anything about the
Morbinos? He started to walk to face them, to challenge them. Hermione
grabbed him by the arm.
"Harry," she said sternly. "Don't. You already had one incident this weekend. You've got to toe the line, come on!"
Harry stopped himself, nodded and they both headed back. Harry walked with an angry stride.
"How can they even know? They don't know them!" Harry said.
Hermione replied as she followed, "The villagers could be right; they
have their reasons. I've been talking to people today and…." Hermione
stopped herself for a moment, as she couldn't continue. Harry stopped
and faced her.
have a terrible feeling about this. Perhaps you should stay away from
them; you already helped them enough. This could be something you won't
be able to handle," Hermione finished, searching Harry's eyes for an
Harry stood stunned, "Hermione, I can't believe you. You've never run from anything."
done a lot of thinking over last summer," Harry reflectively replied.
"I'm not the same person I was. How many times have I gotten out of
spots because of help from you, Ron or others? I can't count them."
Hermione stood very silent as he continued.
"I've been very lucky; I'm starting to see that. Perhaps Miranda hasn't had that kind of luck."
understand," Hermione replied, head down. "But Harry, if there's dark
magic involved with that family, I mean powerful dark magic."
you know me," Harry reasoned. "If I even sensed dark magic, I would
have followed Neville straight away. But I don't have that feeling. You
should at least meet them."
both continued on to the castle. Monday was uneventful, even if he had
a bad feeling about Professor Umbridge; Harry was busy with his classes
and yet still could not keep his mind off Miranda. By Monday evening,
Harry received an owl post from Miranda, letting him know that she
would come and watch Harry during his Quidditch practice. As Harry left
the owlery, his mind drifted. He never noticed the direction he was
walking as he walked right towards Professor Dumbledore.
Potter?" Professor Dumbledore addressed him; Harry looked at the
professor with a far off look as he snapped back to reality. "Professor
McGonagall has been looking for you at my request. Follow me."
Dumbledore never said another word as they continued to walk. Harry started to wonder if he was in trouble.
"Mr. Padfoot wanted to have a word with you." Dumbledore stated never looking at Harry.
"Sir…, ah,… Mr. Padfoot is here?" Harry said gasping.
Dumbledore said quietly, with what seemed the trace of a smile. "We
have other means to communicate. We must keep such meetings discrete of
walked into what looked like a teacher's common room with a small
fireplace. The fire was lit and Sirius's head was sitting in it. Harry
had seen this before and thought nothing of it.
"I will lock this door for an hour," Dumbledore replied as he closed the door behind him.
and Sirius spoke for three-quarters of an hour, mostly about unrelated
issues, until Harry brought up meeting Miranda, the lake, and the
"Know anything about SecuutusLake?" Harry asked curiously.
little," Sirius's head replied. "When I was hiding near Hogsmeade a few
years back, I heard rumors, but I was never there during the summer
Chatting with Sirius this way was always disorienting, but it was the best way. Sirius gave Harry a concerned look.
I don't know what you're playing at going to that house. Seriously,"
Sirius said. "Don't take on anything you can't handle alone. The
villagers may have grounds to be leery."
"You sound like Hermione now; she said the same thing."
"Harry, she may be right. There are some forces that are so ancient, even the best wizards have few solutions for them."
Harry nodded in frustration. While noble, the concern seemed uncharacteristic for Sirius.
"Harry, don't let your fondness for this girl blind you. Stay vigilant."
In truth, Harry wasn't really sure what his feelings were for Miranda, yet he understood.
"You say the family's name is Morbino?" Sirius asked, and Harry gave a nod.
"I'll look into it," Sirius said thoughtfully. "Perhaps Remus can find something."
minutes Sirius was gone from the fireplace with a pop, the door
unlocked and Harry left quietly. Late Tuesday afternoon, Harry headed
to Quidditch practice with Ron. To his pleasure, Miranda and Gonzalo
were admitted onto the grounds and were waiting by the stands.
"Hi Harry," Miranda said brightly as she approached. Ron gave her a smile and put out his hand, which she took.
"You said she was nice, pretty," Ron mumbled, leaning into Harry's ear. "But I had no idea she was THAT nice!"
nodded, grinning. She introduced herself to Hermione and Ginny, who
kept giving jealous glances that Miranda seemed oblivious to; she
introduced herself to the other members of the team. The boys on the
team seemed impressed, but Angelina, Alicia, and Katie were less
enthralled. As they started to take their brooms into the air, Draco
appeared in the distance, walking forward with Crabbe and Goyle, which
caused everyone to rush to the ground.
"Yes Malfoy," Harry snarled as he landed.
"Just thought I'd watch the competition," Draco replied with his usual drawl. Then Draco spotted Miranda.
Draco said with a glare. "Funny Potter, first it was Weasley, then
Granger, now this girl. Pathetic bunch of girlfriends you collect."
really seemed to be looking for trouble today. He seemed to be
excelling at acting childish at this moment. Miranda overheard this and
walked over to them.
"I thought Harry was just exaggerating," Miranda said glaring. "But you really are pathetic and rude."
I hear a voice?" Draco said raising his head in the air mockingly. "Are
all Italian witches as rude as you? I'll have to tell father; perhaps
the Dark Lord could pay a visit to Italy and teach them some manners."
Miranda gave Harry a puzzled look. "I'll explain later," Harry said.
Draco," Miranda said with a smirk. "You remind me of a famous Italian
from World War II; perhaps your little mind has heard of him,
Draco just glared while Crabbe and Goyle stood near, ready, in case things erupted.
"You know what they did to him?" Miranda replied darkly. "They killed him, strung him up and cut off his…."
please!" Hermione shrieked as she realized where she was going with
this. Draco didn't say a word; he just stared her down as if she were a
water demon. Draco took a few steps back before his wicked smile
But Draco never finished. It was as though he took an awkward
summersault as he flew ten feet in the air before landing on his back
with a sickening thud. Like something lifted him into the air before
dropping him. No wand was out or pointed and they all looked at each
other with curiosity. Draco seemed winded for a moment before he passed
out. Everyone looked shocked, yet Harry gave Miranda a careful glance.
She seemed like the exception, she seemed non-flustered as she glared
at Draco's body. No sign of concern, it left Harry uncomfortable and
he okay?" Angelina asked nervously, Goyle walked over with his dull
expression and leaned down, hearing Draco's breath, he nodded yes. By
now, other Slytherin students were running down and accusing the
Gryffindor team of assault, intending to sabotage the other team. Ron
snorted at that accusation.
"Honestly, like that bloody, stupid git is worth detention," Ron said, snarling to himself.
twenty minutes, Draco was put on a stretcher and carried up to the
school. They continued their practice. Ron still seemed to be getting
used to his position on the team, not quite having a handle on things
yet, as well as still feeling light-headed. Flying wasn't the best idea
today and he had to sit the second half of practice out, Professor
Flitwick approached the Quidditch Field.
was still practicing moves in the air, grabbing a Snitch for the third
time when his broom suddenly seized up. It was as though something
invisible had grabbed hold of the handle. Harry could tell this felt
very different from what happened to him the first year; the broom
wasn't jinxed. Was it in his ear? Harry could swear he heard a low
humming sound from every direction. George was the first to notice that
something was wrong and headed in Harry's direction, flying beside
Harry. The broom started violently shaking as if working against
something. Harry knew he had to get his Firebolt to the ground then
suddenly, it stopped, his broom was back to normal. Harry headed to the
ground with George close behind. Fred, Katie, Angelina, Alicia followed
Ron, Miranda and the others left the stands and ran to the field as Harry landed.
"What happened, Harry?" Fred asked curiously.
"Dunno, something had a hold of my broom," Harry replied nervously. "Did anyone see anything?"
brushed me when I got near you," George said. They all looked alarmed
and opted to call it a night for practice. Ron, who didn't look
completely recovered, seemed to be relieved to be headed back to the
warmth of the castle.
"Miranda, if you can wait, maybe I should walk you back to the lake."
"Can you Harry?" Miranda replied as she switched between looking at Harry and the others.
Harry gave a glance at Professor Flitwick.
I suppose so, if I stay close by," Professor Flitwick said. "I have to
stay close to the students," he continued helpfully.
"Be right back," Harry said as he ran to the lockers to change.
"Nice to meet you Miranda," Ron said to her. "I'm heading back to the school."
"Same here, Ciao Ron," Miranda replied kindly as Ron walked slowly back to the lockers with a smile.
"Ciao Ginny," Miranda said warmly.
"Goodbye then," Ginny said rather stiffly as she headed back to Hogwarts.
you join us Hermione?" Miranda asked surprising Hermione who had
considered the idea before being asked. Hermione could not help but
suspect that there was a trace of jealousy in Miranda. Harry reappeared
in no time. Soon Miranda, Gonzalo, Harry, Hermione, and Professor
Flitwick were walking past Hogsmeade village.
Eventually they reached the lake and the boat. Professor Flitwick seemed quite leery about the lake.
"Coming Professor?" Harry asked kindly.
"I'll just wait here," Flitwick replied.
"Well it was nice to meet you Professor," Miranda said sweetly as she reached out and shook his hand.
"Oh yes my dear," Flitwick replied, softening his nerves somewhat.
Miranda said, she was the last one to walk on the boat and sat beside
Hermione. At first, the boat ride was very quiet until Miranda took
"Have you known Harry for a long time, Hermione?"
"Since first year at Hogwarts," she replied.
nearly couldn't believe it, but she could tell that Miranda considered
her competition, a real threat. If the circumstances weren't so odd,
she would have found this quite amusing. They soon reached the island;
Gonzalo and Harry got off first. Miranda seemed to stall, waiting for
Hermione to get off the boat. Once Harry was several feet away, Miranda
edged up to Hermione again.
"Hermione, if you don't mind," Miranda said looking awkward. "I just assumed, is Harry your boyfriend?"
"Harry?" Hermione gave a quiet slight laugh. "Oh no, he's quite sweet and all, but he's just a very dear friend."
gave her a bright smile as she strode over to Harry. Harry could tell
that there was still a slight limp to Miranda's walk; it left him with
a touch of guilt.
you could help me lift a few things for dinner tonight Harry, that
would be wonderful," Miranda said as they walked through the house
entrance. Hermione looked fascinated at the decorum of the old house.
"Miss, let me tend to your grandfather," Gonzalo said with an even tone.
"Harry," Miranda said. "If you could help me in the kitchen for a moment."
Harry replied as he followed her. Gonzalo drifted upstairs and Hermione
found herself standing in the main hall, glancing around.
she started to drift from room to room, she found herself in the main
study. Each wall was covered in stacked bookshelves. She could tell
that many of the books were written in Italian or Latin, a few in
English or old English. She was quite tempted to read them, as she
could see titles on the spines; nearly all of the titles seemed to
relate to Wizardry. Some of them were so archaic that she was certain
they included long forgotten spells or history. She knew better of
course to start pulling anything out, since they would only be there a
few minutes. Something about the silence of the room left her a little
on edge. Just as she turned to walk out, a small book fell from the
shelf and landed with a thud on the wood floor. She jumped, turning
around with her wand out as she spotted the book and walked over to it.
Picking it up, it was a very old black book, no writing on the spine, but a name was imprinted in silver leaf on the front.
through the book, she could see that is was a hand written diary,
written in Italian. It seemed to be a research journal. She had studied
some Italian in the past, but she wasn't fluent. Certain words she
could make out through the entries, near the final entries, certain
words popped out at her. She knew 'dimenticato' meant forgotten,
'tormentare' meant afflicted, 'antichissimo' meant ancient and
'spirito' meant spirit. The handwriting seemed to become more uneven
near the end, close to the last few entries, She found three words in
plain English, written in a jagged scrawl on opposite ends of two pages.
"Purge," on one corner and, "It's here!" in bolder letters on the opposite page.
footsteps from the hall, she quickly put the book back and left the
library. Upon entering the main hall, Gonzalo stood silently, while
Harry and Miranda walked in. Hermione had to wonder if Gonzalo was
suspicious, yet he showed no sign as Miranda spoke.
"It was nice meeting you, Hermione," Miranda said.
"It was a pleasure," Hermione replied. Harry noticed how anxious she seemed to leave.
While crossing the lake, Hermione seemed so strange, unusually quiet for Harry, which heightened the unsettling atmosphere.
Harry finally had to ask in a whisper, "What is it?"
"I'll tell you back at the common room," Hermione replied, not wanting to draw Gonzalo's attention.
the boat crossed the shore, Flitwick stood by nervously, Harry noticed
that Professor Flitwick looked shifty-eyed as if expecting anything to
happen. Harry and Hermione got off the boat.
"Thank you, Mr. Potter, Ms. Granger," Gonzalo replied as he eased the boat back into the water.
best be off," Professor Flitwick said as they started to walk. Harry
and Hermione took the lead while Professor Flitwick fell behind.
Harry and Hermione walked further, closer to Hogsmeade, they could hear
Professor Flitwick's footsteps grow thinner. Suddenly, they heard a
horrible shout from the professor. Harry and Hermione shot each other a
look as they turned and fully sprinted in the direction of Professor
Harry ran, he could hear a faint humming, like what he had heard
several times before. They gasped when they reached Flitwick, he was
sprawled on the ground; He seemed lifeless for a moment as Harry leaned
down, yet Harry could see the Professor's chest move. He was breathing,
although upon closer inspection, it was shallow. What was worse for
Harry was the expression on Hermione's face: she had lost all color.
"Harry, I'll stay with him, run back to the school!" Hermione said.
sprinted to Hogwarts. Harry was already panting by the time he crossed
Hogsmeade. By the time he reached the school, it was bedlam, as
McGonagall was the first person he ran into. Professor McGonagall
seemed furious that Flitwick allowed Harry to walk to the lake, as much
as it was Flitwick's discretion. Harry was rigid with worry as others
followed him back to Professor Flitwick and Hermione. Soon, they went
straight to Madam Pomfrey.
"Gracious," Madam Pomfrey said as they sat the Professor on a bed.
an hour, Flitwick came to, there appeared to be no physical damage to
him, there were no visible cuts, although there was a slight lump on
the top of his head. Professor Dumbledore arrived within the hour to
survey the situation. Harry and Hermione had remained very silent
during the whole incident.
Dumbledore stepped aside with Hermione, who still looked flustered.
Feeling numb at the moment, Harry glanced over at Flitwick, overhearing part of their conversation.
Granger, Professor Flitwick appears that he will make a quick recovery.
You state that you saw nothing as he fell behind."
Hermione gave him a quiet nod.
"I must speak with Harry," Professor Dumbledore said as he turned in Harry's direction.
"Harry, I must have a word," Dumbledore said with his penetrating eyes. "Ms. Granger, Harry will join you shortly."
Harry followed Dumbledore, wondering what sort of trouble he had brought to all of them. They entered an empty classroom.
"Please sit down Harry," Dumbledore said calmly.
Harry wasn't sure where he was going to start; he wasn't sure what he understood about what was unfolding.
"Quite simply Harry, is there anything you want to tell me?" Dumbledore said.