The next morning, Ron and Harry were up before the sun, both of them yawning uncontrollably. They struggled into their clothing in the predawn darkness, trying not to wake up their dorm mates. Quidditch practice was scheduled for seven in morning, so if they wanted breakfast in the Great Hall beforehand, they would have to hurry.
“I should have just slept in.” Ron struggled with his jumper and yawned. “Who needs food when we can just sleep for another hour?”
“We do,” Harry said, stepping into his trainers. “Katie booked the pitch until one, so we’ll miss lunch too if we don’t get something to eat now.”
“Look at them, the sleepy heads,” Ron said, motioning with his hand towards the other beds, their curtains still firmly drawn. “Why’d I want to play Quidditch again?”
Harry reached for his glasses on the bed stand and grabbed his broom. “Come on, Ron. You’ll feel better once you’ve eaten.”
The pair walked down the stairs to the common room. To their surprise, they found Hermione fully dressed and waiting for them in a chair by the fire. She had a pile of parchment and a quill on her lap, which she rolled into a tube as she stood up. “I found some information on her,” she announced as they walked out of the portrait hole and down the stairs towards the Great Hall.
Ron tipped his broom over his shoulder. “What do you mean, you found information on her? What did you do to your hair?”
Hermione threw him an odd look over her shoulder. “Some of us decided not to have a lie in this morning and I was able to do a bit research instead before Madam Pince arrived in the library,” Hermione said with a hint of haughtiness. “It wasn’t in the Restricted Section, so I wasn’t breaking any rules by being there before Madam Pince. And I didn’t find all the information on her, only some. Like I said.” Hermione paused and tucked a stray curl behind her ear. “I only braided my hair, Ron. I wanted it out of my way.”
“Blimey, Hermione!” Ron exclaimed. “The sun isn’t even up yet. If I wanted a lie in, you wouldn’t see me until elevenses.” Ron looked down at his feet on the stairs. “Yeah, your hair looks nice,” he mumbled softly, so only Harry heard him. Harry shot a glance over at Ron whose face had turned quite pink.
“Oh!” Hermione exclaimed, turning up towards the two boys as they reached the landing and started to walk down the marble stairs. “And I have to tell you what happened when I went into the hospital wing this morning to check on her.”
They came to the entrance of the Great Hall and sat at the end of the Gryffindor table out of earshot of everyone else. Above them, ominous clouds formed a dark blanket across the ceiling of the Great Hall in angry shaped formations that faded into lighter shades of gray as the sun rose in the sky.
“Wonderful,” Ron quipped as he looked up. “Just what we need for practice. Rain.” Lucky for them, the Hall was mostly deserted, as their classmates took advantage of the drab Saturday morning to sleep in. Only the other Gryffindor Quidditch players were fools enough to be up this early. Half of the candles normally lit for meals floated above them, adding to the somberness of the morning. As soon as Hermione placed her parchment rolls onto the table, their plates were filled with delicious smelling food.
“Her father was the Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation,” Hermione said, watching with slight aversion on her face as Ron tore into the kippers.
“Whose father?” Ron asked around the food in his mouth.
“You mean like Mr. Crouch’s old position?” Harry asked, ignoring Ron. Harry knew he would catch on quickly who they were talking about.
“Yes, exactly,” Hermione said. “And she didn’t attend Hogwarts at first. She transferred in her sixth year. Originally, she attended Beauxbatons.”
Ron looked up from his meal. “How’d you find all this out?”
“Well. I remembered Madam Pince remarking once she felt it was growing near time to move all the back issues of the Daily Prophet she had in the library to a storeroom. She told me quite proudly she had every single issue since it’s inception in 1432. I simply started looking through the old issues from 1941 forward,” Hermione smiled. “I found information on her family in 1943.”
“Hermione, you’re not using that time turner again, are you? How’d you go through that many newspapers in only a few hours?”
“Don’t be silly, Ron.” Hermione said as she nipped a piece of bacon off his plate. “I simply skimmed the summaries of each year until I found something that looked as if it might concern her,” she swallowed her bacon and sipped her goblet of milk. “Oddly, there were entire weeks missing from the archives in 1944. I only found information on her father’s appointment to the Ministry in November of 1943.” She stopped speaking for a moment to chew another bite of bacon. “There were weeks missing right about the Christmas Holiday and then there were a few weeks missing again about six months later. I wonder if Madam Pince knows.”
“How’d you know then she went to Beauxbatons?” Harry asked. He leaned forward in his chair, his breakfast forgotten.
“Well, it was published in the article on her father. It mentioned her mother was originally from France and how proud she was when Adria was accepted into her old school.” Hermione’s brows furrowed. “What I found interesting is the article mentioned her older brother attended Durmstrang.”
“Well, hmmm,” Ron said thoughtfully. “I never heard of that before. I mean, a brother and sister attending different schools in different countries?”
“I thought it odd also,” Hermione said, smiling at Ron. “Especially since both of them lived in England and neither of them originally attended Hogwarts.”
Ron’s elbow hit his broom as he was reaching for his goblet and knocked it over. He leaned over to pick it up and said, “I suppose it’s possible, especially if her father was the Head of International Magical Cooperation. Must have wanted to make a good impression with the other Ministries and all.”
Hermione put down her fork and picked up her quill from beside her plate and unrolled her parchment. “Good observation, Ron. I’m making a note here to see if I can find anything else out to go with that. I wonder though, what happened to make her parents pull her out of Beauxbatons and enroll her in Hogwarts. Maybe because of the war?” Hermione asked herself, writing another note before looking up and staring at the windows high above her.
As if she wished it, a gray barn owl swept in towards their table. He dropped Hermione off her damp edition of the Daily Prophet and held out its leg for the Knut she offered before flying back out of the upper windows. Hermione started to untie the twine encircling it and then stopped, laying both hands down on the soggy paper. “Oh! I almost forgot what I wanted to tell you. Before I went to the library, I decided to check on her and when I reached the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey was in a right state.”
Harry leaned forward. “What happened? The girl, is she alright?”
“Well, that’s what was so odd. When I entered the room, she was no where to be seen. Her clothes were still there and the bed was mussed, but she was missing.”
“Where’d she go?” Ron asked as he sipped his milk.
“Wipe the milk off your lip, Ron,” she said before answering his question. “Well, at first we didn’t know. While I was there, Madam Pomfrey summoned Professor Dumbledore. I tried to stay out of the way so I wouldn’t be sent from the room. When he arrived, they walked into Madam Pomfrey’s office and I heard a strange noise near her bed, so I walked over to it and lifted up the bed covers,” she stopped and looked at the two boys.
“Well?” Harry asked, impatient. “Where was she?”
“Under the bed, curled up in a ball, sound asleep.”
“Under the bed?” Ron asked as he put down his goblet of milk, taking care this time to wipe his upper lip on his sleeve. “What was she doing there?”
“Well, hiding, of course.” Hermione looked up at the High Table as Professor Dumbledore sat down at the center. She leaned towards the two boys across from her. “At least that’s what Professor Dumbledore said and I heard him say to Madam Pomfrey he sent an owl to Bill.”
“Bill?” Ron pushed his plate away and the remainder of his breakfast disappeared. “Do you mean my brother Bill? What does Dumbledore need with my brother?”
“Honestly, Ron. Think. Your brother Bill worked in Egypt and now works for Gringotts as a what?”
“A curse breaker,” he said slowly as it dawned on him what Dumbledore would need a curse breaker for. “Oh! Of course!”
If Bill was able to break the curse, Harry wondered just what Adria would say. What could have happened to her fifty years ago to deserve a curse that left her without a tongue? How did she end up fifty years in the future cowering under a portrait, all bloody and bruised? Had she used a time turner in reverse?
Harry scratched the top of his head absently. If he were honest with himself, he would admit the mystery of Adria Thornwood was taking his mind off of the prophecy and the coming war with Voldemort. Looking for new spells to combat Voldemort and his Death Eaters was all they had been doing since returning to school two months ago. His Defense Against the Dark Arts class was still meeting on every other Tuesday evening of the month and now he had the blessing of Professor Dumbledore to continue tutoring the other students.
To everyone’s surprise it was becoming quite popular. The last time he entered the Room of Requirement, there were so many people there from other Houses that it had swelled to half the size of the Great Hall. Harry could still feel how nervous he was to see those eager faces staring up at him, all of them wanting to be useful, just in case a war between wizards and Voldemort came to pass. He specifically asked his classmates who fought alongside of him in the Ministry for Magic last year to help him with the training and they jumped at the chance to practice their defense spells.
Harry shook his head and drank some of orange juice from his goblet. “Do you think she might have used a time turner?” he asked, remembering Hermione using one in their third year to take extra classes.
“No,” she said thoughtfully. “I don’t think so. Time turners are extremely rare outside of the Ministry and very hard to procure. Think of the consequences if You-Know-Who were to find one. Professor McGonagall said there were only a few authorized for use outside of the Ministry, and the one I used has been within Hogwarts walls for over five hundred years. If I thought she had used a time turner, trust me I would have spoken up before now.”
“So Dumbledore thinks Bill may be able to break the curse on Adria,” Harry said.
“I suppose we’ll have to see,” she said, looking towards the Entrance hall.
“See what?” Ginny Weasley said as she sat down next to Harry at the end of the table. She pulled her gold plate towards her and it instantly filled with eggs and bacon. She smiled at the three of them as she reached for the flagon of pumpkin juice.
“Uh, if Ron gets sick at practice today seeing how much he’s eaten this morning,” Harry said quickly, catching Hermione’s and Ron’s eyes.
Ginny looked up from her goblet and narrowed her eyes at the three of them. She paused in pouring her juice and sniffed at them once to let them know she knew Ron wasn’t what they were talking about before she resumed eating.
“Oh, look. There’s Hagrid,” Harry said, trying to change the subject as he spotted their half-giant Care of Magical Creatures teacher. As he said that, he looked at Hermione, who looked at Ron, who looked back at both of them. Ron slowly smiled around his mouthful of food.
Of course! Hagrid had attended Hogwarts in 1943. He should be able to recall Adria Thornwood. The crest on her dirty, ripped robes was from Gryffindor and that meant they would have been in the same house.
If he remembered, Harry thought ruefully. After all, 1943 was the year Tom Riddle managed to have Hagrid expelled for keeping Aragog, his large pet spider who was originally blamed for the death of Moaning Myrtle. Of course it was Tom Riddle, heir of Salazar Slytherin who opened the Chamber of Secrets and released the Basilisk, which killed Myrtle when she looked into its eyes as she exited a stall in the girls’ loo.
“After practice,” Harry said as he got up from the table.
“Ah, Potter,” Katie said as she walked towards them with Andrew Kirke from the other end of the table. “I see you’re ready for a good hard practice. How about you Ron, Ginny?”
Ron stuffed the last kipper into his mouth and nodded at Katie, taking one last sip of his goblet. He looked up at Hermione again as he wiped his mouth on his sleeve, reddening a bit as she smiled approvingly at him. He stood up, picking up his Clean Sweep and slung it over his shoulder.
Ginny sighed as she looked down at her full plate. “I guess a little is better than none at all.” She stood up and frowned as her food disappeared. She walked towards the double doors, pausing to wait for Ron and Harry.
There was a crash of thunder from above as Hermione gathered her parchment and quill to her chest. “I’ll be in the library,” she said, standing up from the bench. Lightning streaked across the ceiling of the Great Hall, briefly illuminating the nearly empty room. “I want to send an owl to the Daily Prophet.”
“Whatever for?” Ron asked, cringing as the thunder continued to rumble ominously above him.
“I want to get my hands on those missing newspapers,” Hermione said as she came around the table to stand near the two boys. “Once I’m done there, if you’re still having practice, I’ll be in the hospital wing, sitting with her.”
There was another streak of lightning and a crash of thunder which rattled the windows behind Professor Dumbledore. Harry looked up and caught the headmaster’s eye. It might have been a trick of lighting reflecting off of Dumbledore’s half-moon glasses, but Harry thought the headmaster winked at him. Harry gave him a half smile and turned towards the hallway as a flash of lightning briefly lit the Great Hall with a radiant white flash of light.
“Blimey,” Ron mumbled as the five Quidditch players walked towards their changing room. The sound of the thunder followed them down the hallway, echoing off the stone as it gathered density and volume. “I hate storms.
Thankfully, by the time Harry had changed and headed out to the Quidditch pitch, his mind was clear of the mysterious girl and Defense Against the Dark Arts classes. He had no time to concentrate on anything other than flying and once his feet left the ground and the wind and rain were striking him, his only thoughts were of capturing the snitch.
Up and down and around the pitch he sailed, loving the feeling of freedom flying on his broom gave him. He could feel the wind and rain in his teeth and realized he was smiling. It felt so good to be back on his broom, and if only the weather would have cooperated, he could have stayed outside all day.
After about twenty minutes, he spotted the snitch zooming up towards the clouds and he pulled up on his broom to follow. From every side lightning broke through the clouds, their electricity burning within the gray clouds with blue and green fire. He had lost sight of the snitch again; the visibility was growing too impenetrable to see.
Harry flew down closer to the ground and to his disappointment discovered the pitch was being invaded by the weather above. He looked towards the school and the turrets of the castle were obscured by the low hanging mist. Fog was settling down over landscape, and Katie gave the signal for them all to land.
Ginny and Ron landed alongside of Harry, all three of them soaked through. Harry looked over at Ginny who was shivering violently. Her lips had a definite blue tinge and he wished he had something dry to drape over her shoulders. She wiped off her brow, sending droplets of water flying towards the ground. She gave Harry a bit of a smile before turning towards the changing rooms.
Harry was glad the three of them were able to practice over summer holiday after he had arrived at the Burrow. Both of them showed obvious improvement since last year. Ron had gotten much better at playing Keeper and Ginny was showing a natural talent as a Chaser. In this practice alone, she had scored at least five goals from what Harry could see flying above them all. Too bad the Slytherins were too cowardly to brave the rain and watch them practice, even in the rain and fog, Harry knew they had a good chance of winning the Quidditch Cup this year. He would have loved to see Malfoy’s face turn purple watching Ron and Ginny play.
The three of them headed into the changing room as the rain and fog continued to pound the grass around them. The insides of their boots were drenched with water from the myriad of puddles quickly forming on the pitch.
When they reached the locker room, Ron and Harry changed quickly, neither bothering to do more than towel dry their hair before heading back towards their dorm room to drop off their brooms. Hermione was not in the library, so they walked towards the hospital wing, talking quietly about the practice today and their upcoming match with Ravenclaw in two weeks.
As they entered the hallway of the hospital, Madam Pomfrey came rushing by them, not pausing to say excuse me as she ran towards the stairs. From up ahead came the sounds of crashing furniture and screaming.
“Hermione!” Ron said as they both ran around the final corner to the double doors. To their relief, she was crouched outside the doors in the corner, flinching as the sounds of smashing furniture increased from the behind the closed doors. Ron and Harry ran to her and she stood up, recoiling at the sound of a massive crash right behind the doors. Her face was awash with fear and worry and she grasped Ron’s arm.
“What happened?” Harry asked.
Hermione was not able to answer right away. She took Harry’s arm in her other hand and led them away from the doors. The anguished screaming they heard behind the door increased and then suddenly stopped just as the sound of glass exploding wrenched the three of them even farther down the hallway. Ron and Harry pushed Hermione in front of them and kneeled down over her, protecting her from the unknown danger. The wooden double doors shook from the impact of the explosion. The silence that followed was even more unnerving then the sounds of the destruction before.
From the other direction came the sound of rushing feet and Professor Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey came up the stairs. Professor McGonagall followed closely behind them.
Dumbledore paused outside of the doors and looked down at the three teenagers huddled under the windows in the hallway. “Are you hurt?” he asked them as they stood back up. Hermione stayed behind Harry and Ron.
They all shook their heads as Bill Weasley, Ron’s oldest brother came running up the stairs. “I came as soon as I could, Professor Dumbledore,” he said.
“Thank you, Bill.” Dumbledore said as he turned towards the wooden doors. “It seems our guest has worn herself out. Let’s take our wands out, for our own protection. We’ll use stunning spells only if needed.”
The adults nodded as they stood in front of the doors. Professor Dumbledore turned to Madam Pomfrey. “Is the door locked?” Madam Pomfrey shook her head, her hands twisting her apron into knots. Dumbledore pointed his wand at the doors and sparks flew from the end as the doors opened before him.
The hospital wing looked as if Neville had badly mixed a potion and it had gone horribly wrong. Beds were overturned, their sheets and coverings shredded and raining down from the ceiling like confetti. The screens dividing the beds were bent at odd angles and one of them lay half in a window and half out. The most unsettling sight was all the glass from the casement windows gone. Rain was pouring through the windows, adding to devastation of the infirmary.
Ron peeked behind the door as the adults moved further into the room. He motioned to Harry and Hermione, his face white as he pointed to the large shards of glass protruding from the back of the wooden doors. Hermione swallowed hard and pulled Ron from behind the door to stand close to her.
“What happened?” Harry quietly asked again.
Hermione shook her head, motioning towards the adults before them. “I’ll explain later. It’s all my fault this happened.”
To Harry’s dismay, Hermione’s eyes filled with tears. He couldn’t for the life of him figure out how Hermione could have caused the girl to go berserk like this. Maybe Ron was right and she was insane. He stepped around a mangled bed frame towards the adults.
“Do you see her anywhere?” Professor McGonagall quietly asked Professor Dumbledore.
Dumbledore shook his head and then turned towards a large blanket closet near the windows. He stayed the others from him with a slight movement of his hand and walked towards the closet, his wand up and ready. He opened the cabinet door slowly only to find Adria curled around her bent legs, rocking back and forth. She stared unseeingly at the wall of the cabinet with her lips trembling, mumbling silently to herself. Professor Dumbledore lowered his wand and quietly approached her.
“Hello Adria,” he spoke to her gently the way one might to a small child in the middle of a tantrum. “I might say you’ve had a very rough time of it, my dear.” Adria turned her head away from him towards the back of the cabinet.
“I don’t think she poses any more threats to us,” Professor Dumbledore said, turning towards the other teachers. “Please put your wand away, Bill, Professor McGonagall.”
Professor Dumbledore swept his wand over the destroyed furniture and intoned, “Reparo!” and instantly all the beds, metal screens and beside cabinets rearranged themselves back into shape. “Please move to the side, Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger,” he said before he boomed the spell once again towards the glass quivering on the back of the wooden doors and floor. The three of them rapidly moved to the other side of the room as the glass shards flew back into the windows like a Muggle movie played reverse. Professor Dumbledore turned back towards the girl in the cupboard.
“Here now, come take my hand. Let’s get you back into bed.” He had to coax her for a few more minutes before she would allow Dumbledore to lead her back towards the beds.
“A sleeping draught, Madam Pomfrey, is what I believe is needed here. Would you like to sleep without any dreams?”
To Harry’s surprise, she looked at him with haunted eyes and nodded her head once before curling on her side towards the windows, away from them. Madam Pomfrey brought the cup over to the bed and sat down alongside her and helped her swallow the concoction. The nurse showed a rare maternal kindness towards her, sitting with her and petting her hair away from her face until she fell into a deep slumber.
“She’s asleep, Professor Dumbledore,” Madam Pomfrey said as she stood up from the bed. She pulled her wand from a deep pocket in her white apron and used it to send all the shreds of the linens and pillows towards a corner to be vanished later.
Professor Dumbledore turned towards the three students and two adults behind him. “I believe a cup of hot tea in my office is called for. Bill, I can explain what I need from you there, and we can speak without worrying we’ll disturb her.”
Ron and Hermione watched the adults walk towards the door, but Harry was still looking at the sleeping girl. To their surprise, Professor Dumbledore paused and motioned the three of them to follow him.
“I told you, Harry,” Ron said quietly as they walked towards Professor Dumbledore’s office. “She’s barkers. What did you do to her to set her off like that, Hermione?”
Hermione slowed, forcing the two boys to walk at her pace, leaving enough room for them not to be overheard. “It was the stupid bloody newspaper.” Her voice shook with anger. “I don’t know what I was thinking. Just because she couldn’t speak, I must have thought she wouldn’t be able to read or think or anything.”
Ron looked at Hermione with a shocked expression on his face. “Such profanity, Hermione!”
“Knock it off, Ron,” Hermione hissed. “Now is not the time! I’m so mad at myself I could just spit.”
“How could the newspaper have set her off?” Harry asked as they turned the corner and walked down the stairs to the Headmaster’s office.
“It must have been the date. I can not even imagine how I would feel if tomorrow I woke up and someone was reading the Daily Prophet in front of me and right on the front page it screamed at me fifty years had passed.”
“It still isn’t reason enough to trash the infirmary,” Ron said. “Where’s the newspaper, anyway?”
Harry nodded in agreement as they passed Ginny without even acknowledging her.