Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Power of Knowledge - Chapter 4

The Power of Knowledge

Chapter 4

“Are you sure you packed everything before we left?” asked Hermione in her usual bossy tone, though as the years passed Harry grew a little bit immune to its effects. In fact, his slight resistance to The Tone was the reason why Hermione was using it in the first place. For all intents and purposes, Harry Potter was tuning her out. He was still listening, of course, but the larger percentage of his concentration was on his inner monologue.

I was sure I’ve got them here somewhere, he thought, absently unloading his Potions equipment and setting them on the ground beside his opened trunk; the slight drizzle of rain coated his things. Maybe they’re next to my Quidditch gear? No, it can’t be… He had had unpacked the scarlet uniform first before everything else, since they were at the very top.

Meanwhile, Harry’s best friend (the one not nagging him about his carelessness), assured the bushy haired witch that everything was going to be fine. “We’re not gonna be late for the Feast, so stop badgering him.”
“I’m not worried about the Feast, Ronald!” Hermione exclaimed. “I’m worried about having to walk all the way up to the castle in this weather, all because Harry,” the boy in mention cringed as he shifted his Charms book to the right, “forgot his Hogwarts robes.”

“For the last time, I did not forget them,” he sighed. “I just… misplaced them. I remember putting them in my trunk before we left the castle last year, and I never took them out. They’re in here. They’re just… hiding from me.”

“Then tell them come out of hiding!”

It was a joke – well, not quite a joke but for sure it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. You simply do not talk to lost items in hope that they’d come running back to you like a long lost lover. However, if you follow the train of thought… Harry fumbled for his wand, thinking of that time in the Goblet of Fire when he called for his Firebolt.

“Harry, mate, what are you doing?” asked Ron.

“Just trying out something,” he said vaguely, preoccupied by recalling that spell. It was a one-worded spell, and he was sure it ended with an o.

“And that something is…?”

The proverbial light bulb suddenly switched on above Harry’s head. He gave a wordless cheer, sending a grin over his shoulder to his two confused best friends and then cried, “Accio school robes!” Said item of clothing came sailing from the depths of his trunk and hit Harry unceremoniously on the face. Not as smooth sailing as he predicted, but it worked out in the end.

Hermione was stuttering out a question, but she was interrupted by Ron saying, “It worked! Whatever it was, it got you your robes, Harry, so hurry up or we’ll really miss the Feast. I dunno about you, but I don’t feel like missing another Sorting.”

Quickly, Harry donned his robes and stuffed all his things back in his trunk. In his haste, he overlooked a small book. At first glance it might be mistaken as a school book, and that was what Ginny Weasley thought when she accidentally stepped on it and painfully grazed her knees. On a closer inspection, however, she found that it was far from a school book – a biography maybe, but certainly not a school book.

“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” she muttered, reading the title. “What in the world…?”

_Page Break_

After Hagrid had walked Harry, Ron and Hermione back to the castle (he even insisted on making sure they reached the Fat Lady’s portrait), the three decided to retire for the evening, despite the earliness of the hour. They’ve had a busy first day, and they were exhausted from the added electives they were taking this year.
“Harry, d’you suppose Hagrid’s going to get the sack because of this mess?” asked Ron as the boy in question came out of the bathroom. “I mean, it wasn’t his fault, but…” He reclined on his bed and sent Harry a worried look. “Malfoy’s a menace.”

“Everything’s going to be all right, Ron,” assured Harry, “I promise.”

Silence filled the common room in which Ron mulled over his friend’s words. Absently, he scratched the side of his nose. “Yeah,” he agreed finally. “The git’s dad might be on the board of governors, but Dumbledore won’t let anything get past him.”

Ron yawned and, as he bid Harry goodnight, closed the curtains of his four poster bed. Minutes later, snores could be heard echoing in the room. Neville and Dean were already asleep, while Seamus was still downstairs doing who knows what, leaving Harry the only one awake in the Third Year Boys’ dorm. His body was tired but his mind was reeling: he was sure Hagrid was going to be all right, but it wouldn’t do any harm just to check, right?

Harry scrambled off his bed and quietly unlatched the locks on his trunk. Compared to yesterday, it was not as full with the majority of his clothes stowed away in his assigned dresser – that, and also because more than half of his school books were stuffed inside his book bag.

C’mon, where are you? Harry shoved aside some of Dudley’s disfigured hand-me-downs in search for the pile of story books that happened to revolve around his life. Aha! He found them underneath his cauldron, which in turn was happily stuffed with one of Harry’s shoes.

“Hallows, Prince, Order...” Harry ghosted through the titles, checking that all were accounted for. “Goblet, Prisoner,” he fingered the book out the pile, “Chamber, Stone – hold on!” Harry shook his head and leaned closer to make sure. Right there, underneath his shoe-stuffed cauldron and located at the leftmost end, was where Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was supposed to be. But the problem was that it wasn’t.
Instantly, Harry was wide awake, traces of his weariness from just a minute before now gone. There was a brief moment in which his heart thudded loudly in his chest and his breathing had paused, but then that moment passed and Harry uttered some of the best curse words he knew (all under his breath, of course, since he didn’t want to disturb his dorm mates).

The small hardbound book that basically recorded his first year at Hogwarts was missing. Missing! But how could it be? It was safely locked away in his trunk –

“Except for that time in Hogsmeade,” Harry breathed. He had been so caught up in looking for his robes that he must have accidentally unearthed the book and, for some reason, he had forgotten to re-pack it. Basically, he had left a book on the ground at Hogsmeade Station where anyone could see and pick it up.
“Bloody hell,” Harry wheezed, feeling very lightheaded all of a sudden. Anyone could have picked it up! Some random person – or worse, a Slytherin – could be reading about my life right now.

After closing his trunk, Harry collapsed on his bed, his head spinning at the possible consequences of his thoughtless mistake could be. For one thing his secrets could be revealed, such as Hagrid’s former pet dragon Norbert, his father’s Invisibility Cloak and – Harry grimaced – his life before Hogwarts. The words cupboard under the stairs rang between his ears, almost loud enough to give him a headache.

“Are you okay there, Harry?”

Jumping at the new voice, Harry’s head snapped towards the door and saw a slightly concerned Seamus. Harry struggled to work his throat. “Oh, um, I’m fine. I was just… going to sleep.” With shaking hands, Harry slipped off his glasses, and as surreptitiously as he could, slipped Prisoner of Azkaban under his pillow. Seamus was still eyeing him weirdly, but Harry quickly forgot about him as he wondered what he should do about the missing book. It wasn’t until Seamus (who usually took a considerable length of time before falling asleep) was snoring that Harry finally drifted off into slumber.

In view of his recent worries, it was only fitting that Harry’s dreams revolved around the consequences if Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was never found. This dream plagued him nearly every night for the next week, and it wasn’t until he faced the Dementor in Defence Against the Dark Arts that finally banished it. However, a small part of Harry would give all the gold in his vault to have it back again, if only so he wouldn’t hear his mother’s dying voice while he slept.

“Are you all right, Harry?” Hermione asked one afternoon. They were in the library occupied with some homework, which struck to Hermione as peculiar seeing as they were the only Third Years among the sea of Fifth and Seventh Years. While it was more than standard for her to spend time in the library, for her best friend Harry Potter, it was not.

“All right?” Harry repeated, turning his head to face Hermione. “Of course I’m all right. Why wouldn’t I be?”

Hermione pursed her lips and busied her hands by cleaning the tip of her quill. “Well,” she said, “you have been acting kind of odd lately.”

“Odd?” asked Harry.

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” said Hermione slowly, “but you are spending your free time here in the library with me –“

“What’s wrong with that?” interjected Harry. Underneath the table and away from Hermione’s line of sight, he wiped his sweaty hands on his cloak. “You’re one of my best friends, Hermione. I like spending time with you.”

“That’s not the problem, Harry.” Hermione rolled her eyes at the bespectacled boy for interrupting her. “It’s the fact that you’ve done so five times in a row. I thought you didn’t like the library that much… why the change of heart?”

Harry thought of a reply, but none was forthcoming. How was he to explain to Hermione, the brightest witch of her age, that he was looking for the person who would be reading a storybook about his life? Not only would that lead to a conversation about the book’s sequels, but at the fact that someone somewhere knew what was going to happen in the future. With the amount of proof the books contained, Hermione was sure to believe in ‘foresight’, and Divination class was hard enough without her actually beginning to take it seriously.

“Um…” Harry blinked rapidly. “I really, really needed to work on my essays,” he said, but the lilt in his voice at the end implied that he was unsure of his answer. That was the cause of his undoing. What followed was a very stressful interrogation that made Harry wish he had told the truth in the first place.  Anything was worth not being subjected to the Spanish Inquisition.

Eventually, Harry lost control of his temper. “All right – all right, I get it!” he all but yelled, disturbing the occupants of the hushed library. Standing up, he quickly gathered his books and his pitiful looking essay, saying how he knew “when his company was not wanted.”

This time, it was Hermione’s turn to flounder like a fish out of water. “What – Harry, of course I didn’t mean it like that! I don’t mind studying with you.”

Harry sighed. “Then why are you so eager to get rid of me?”

“I wasn’t trying to get rid of you!” Harry snorted. “Don’t you laugh at me, Harry!” Hermione threatened. “I’ve known you for three years and never in those times have you been this eager to go to the library to study. Besides, all you’ve been doing the past hour was look around at what other people are doing – not once have you added to your Charms essay!”

For the second time, the ball was on Harry’s court. Damn, Hermione was too observant for her own good. She was right, of course. He had been neglected his essay, but only because the real reason he was in the library was not to work on it because if he was honest with himself, he could write a good enough draft in the Common Room with Ron. He figured that if someone had Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, they would certainly be reading it, and where else can someone read peacefully other than at a library?

It was simple logic, though it did not occur to young Harry that the person reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was hiding in the bathroom of the Second Year Girls, specifically in the bathtub with the company of some cushions (kindly conjured by her brother Percy), a glass and a pitcher of pumpkin juice, and a basket of homemade cookies from her mother. Interestingly enough, she was currently reading the ninth chapter. Combining the very interesting subject matter and her above average reading skill, this would be the third time reading the book in two months.

She was so hooked to the narrative retelling of Harry’s First Year that she would have advanced to the next instalment quite readily if it weren’t for a couple of hindrances: the fact that she didn’t have the book and she was too chicken to go up to the boy in question to ask for it, assuming that he has the copy and also, the second book would definitely be about Harry’s Second Year at Hogwarts. That was also her First Year, the very same year that she was possessed by the spectre of Lord Voldemort. Fortunately for her, Harry was there to save the day.

Idly, Ginny Weasley laughed as the First Year version of Hermione Granger admonished her brother and Harry.

“You don’t use your eyes, any of you, do you?” she snapped. “Didn’t you see what it was standing on?”

“The floor?” Harry suggested. “I wasn’t looking at its feet, I was too busy with its heads.”

Finishing the page, Ginny used one of her fingers to flick over unto the next page. It was good to forget the mundane worries of a boarding school girl – missing her parents, not getting along with her dorm mates, etc. – and simply fall into the world of stories, even if the story she was reading wasn’t much of a story as it was a biography told in narrative.

At the back of her mind, at the furthest corner where some thoughts such as eating broccoli and washing behind her ears were stored and not particularly listened to, Ginny wondered how on earth a story book about Harry Potter came about. It wasn’t like Harry to confide in someone, especially an author, about his personal experiences.

No comments:

Post a Comment