Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Power of Knowledge - Chapter 5

The Power of Knowledge

Chapter 5

Harry Potter was having a very relaxed week. It was one of those rare times in a student’s academic career where they find themselves with a lot of free time, with no assignments that had to be handed in until late next week and no extracurricular activities, such as Quidditch practices, in the foreseeable future. Wood was, all of a sudden, struck ill (though Harry suspected the twins being behind the Quidditch captain’s sudden need to empty his stomach on a regular basis).

Nevertheless, Harry spent his time wisely catching up on his reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix inside one of the castle’s secluded towers. He wasn’t exactly sure if anyone knew the tower actually existed, judging by the state of the room when Harry had found it: a thick layer of dust coated the floors and there were no furniture at all to speak of. There were three small windows that provide air and light, and while the room might seem dismal to the average person, it was like home to Harry.

Well, not home per se… but it sure did help him hide from the rest of the castle’s inhabitants. It would not bode well if anyone caught him reading about an illicit organisation created by Dumbledore way back in the 70’s. As it was, the secluded little tower reminded Harry somewhat of his cupboard back in Privet Drive – not exactly one of the best places in the world but it was safe, familiar.

When they were all seated and quiet, she said, 'You may begin,' and turned over an enormous hour-glass on the desk beside her, on which there were also spare quills, ink bottles and rolls of parchment.

Harry turned over his paper, his heart thumping hard – three rows to his right and four seats ahead Hermione was already scribbling – and lowered his eyes to the first question: a) Give the incantation and b) describe the wand movement required to make objects fly.

Immediately the memory of Ron levitating a troll’s wooden club rushed to the forefront of Harry’s mind, and it seemed that the book version of himself shared the same mind because he was recalling the memory as well. It wasn’t until the book Harry was taking his Astronomy OWLs that the real Harry realised that of course he and the book version of himself shared the same mind – they were the same person, more or less.
The character was based on him, after all, and in the next two years, that could be him.

I’d rather hope not Harry thought idly as he flipped over a page. I don’t want to turn into a self-centred git who yells at his friends. Come to think of it, his current life seemed so much better compared to Book Harry, even if a supposed mass murderer is after him. At least now he didn’t have to care about leading an illegal school club, or worry about passing his OWLs.

Shaking his head for the poor Fifth and Seventh Years working hard to pass their exams, Harry resumed reading.

He was walking along the cool, dark corridor to the Department of Mysteries again, – Harry stiffened and unconsciously held his breath – walking with a firm and purposeful tread, breaking occasionally into a run, determined to reach his destination at last . . . He was having that dream again, and in the middle of an exam no less! Granted it was History of Magic, which sort of guaranteed him falling asleep at some point, but honestly? Why this dream? Why now? He would rather take on the dreadfully boring exam than that blasted bigot.

Sometimes – well, most of the time – okay, all the time – Harry hated being connected to Voldemort the way he was. Yes, it helped save lives like that time when Book Mr Weasley was bitten by the snake but other than that, Harry felt that it was nothing but a thorn at his side. With a resigned sigh, Harry continued reading.

He did not like what he saw.

 'You'll have to kill me,' whispered Sirius.

 'Undoubtedly I shall in the end,' said the cold voice.

“No,” came his strangled cry. His grip on the book tightened, his fingers go white and red from the pressure. His entire body was stiff yet shaking at the same time, as if he was stuck outside with no cloak on or even a hint of a Warming Charm. He might not know Sirius Black as the Book Harry does, but a part of him sees felt the same way he does. After all, Sirius was the only family he had left. He was his godfather and his father’s best friend. While Professor Lupin was a close friend of James Potter as well, he had not offered him a loving home like Book Sirius did in Prisoner of Azkaban.

In other words, he had not been Sirius. Harry didn’t know how he could go on without Sirius Black. If Voldemort does indeed manage to kill him – and judging from Harry’s luck so far in life, that event seemed very likely – then perhaps meeting the man later on in the year might not be such a good idea after all. I mean, Harry thought numbly, his eyes levelled at the jumbled words in front of him, might as well save myself the trouble of getting my hopes up and then having them crushed.

With the temper that Book Harry has got, Harry feared how he will react to his godfather’s upcoming death. He hoped, somehow futilely, that he will not do anything drastic and put everyone he knew in danger.
Heaving a heavy sigh (and then coughing up a fit after he inhaled a large amount of dust), Harry gathered up his courage and picked up where he left off. He was a Gryffindor after all, and he would rather face this problem head on, so to speak, rather than think too much about it.

It wasn’t until well into the evening that a heavy-hearted Harry left his tower sanctuary. A handful of hours had passed since he had read about Sirius being held captive by Voldemort, and now he had finished reading the book. He now knew what awaited him in his Fifth Year, what terrors and utter stupidity… It was his fault, undoubtedly. Book Sirius was dead because of the frantic decisions that the fifteen year old version of himself made.

“I wish could have un-read that,” Harry mumbled quietly as he turned a corner. He was so engrossed in his own thoughts that he did not notice he was not alone in the corridor. Somewhere at the back of his mind, he had figured that since dinner was being served, no one would be around the halls to bother him. Wallowing in misery was something he liked to do in private.

“Talking to yourself, wee Potty?” commented the intruder. “Going ‘round the bend, are you?”

Harry glanced at the Poltergeist. “I’m not talking to myself,” he denied. “Just… thinking out loud.”

Peeves didn’t look like he believed him, but he seemed to have gotten bored by the conversation so he simply blew a raspberry before passing through the walls, leaving Harry alone again. This time, he checked the entire perimeter before returning to his previous musings. Or he would have done so, if his stomach hadn’t reminded him that there was a reason why everyone was in the Great Hall at this time.
“Food,” he grumbled, patting his stomach in compassion. He has barely eaten anything all day, save for those Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans that, quite frankly, did not agree with him.

_Page Break_

Harry tried his best not to let his newfound knowledge concerning the godfather he had not officially met yet get to him, especially as the Quidditch game against Slytherin slowly approached. He felt very conflicted as, if Prisoner of Azkaban was right about how the game will turn out, not only would Harry be overwhelmed by Dementors, miss the Snitch and lose the game for his House, but his beloved Nimbus 2000 would be battered by the Whomping Willow as well. Of course, the chances of the game turning out exactly like the one in the book was very unlikely – there were many factors that should be taken into account such as the weather and the split-moment decisions made during a Quidditch game – Harry still felt queasiness in his stomach.

“It’s going to be a tough one,” said Wood. Like Harry, he wasn’t eating much of anything.

“Stop worrying, Oliver,” replied Alicia in a soothing manner. Harry slowly tuned her out as he mentally prepared himself for the game. It was one thing to accept that his first broomstick would break after a freak accident with the Dementors, but it was quite another to let it happen when he knew that he could prevent it.
Grimacing, Harry followed his teammates towards the Quidditch field. His expression, usually excited at the prospect of a Quidditch game no matter the weather, was stoic and determined. It was out of his hands to control what was going to happen. The best he could do was just do his best. If he catches the Snitch before Diggory, then fine; a win would not affect anything major as far as he knew. If he doesn’t catch the Snitch, then he would have other things to worry about. Trying not to split his head open when he falls comes to mind…

“Hey, Harry!” the twins called as they mounted their brooms. “Mind getting your head off the clouds and joining us for the game?” hollered George.

“Yeah!” continued Fred. “We don’t want to lose to a bunch of ‘Puffs do we now, Harry, me old chap!”

For the first time that day, Harry Potter grinned. There was nothing like a playful banter with the twins to lift one’s spirits, even though technically he hadn’t really participated in the conversation. He didn’t have the opportunity before Madam Hooch’s shrill whistle was blasting in his ear. What he did have the opportunity for, however, was so choke over some choice swear words as the heavy rain quickly soaked him to the bone. He could not see beyond the tip of his broom, let alone hunt for the Snitch, it was raining so hard.

I can’t recall Book Me having this much trouble, Harry thought desperately as he whizzed past the Hufflepuff Chasers and breaking up their formation. Several minutes and two scores for Gryffindor later, Harry was touching ground after the time-out Wood had called.

“I’ve got no chance catching anything remotely Snitch-sized with these one,” Harry said to Wood but addressing the team at large. “I might as well be underwater,” he continued as he tugged his glasses off and wiped them dry with some cloth that Angelina conjured. “Thanks,” he nodded to the girl. “Isn’t there a spell somewhere that can make my glasses waterproof? I mean, I know there’s a spell that can keep water out, but I don’t think we’ve covered it in Charms yet.”

Seeing the blank faces staring back at him, Harry figured that none of the older years have covered it as well. Or they just can’t remember. Bugger it all. Harry ran a hand through his hair, though unfortunately he managed to hit something – well, someone – with his elbow in the process.

“Dammit, I’m sorry!” was his immediate response. “Hermione, what are you doing here?!” was his second followed by a “You know the spell!” as realisation dawned on him. The rest of the team shared looks at their Seeker’s seemingly bipolar behaviour, but these went unnoticed as Harry quickly explained to Hermione the situation.

“Wow, Harry,” commented the bushy haired witch as she took his glasses from him. Her eyebrows were raised in appreciation. “I didn’t know you were aware of that spell. It’s not on the Hogwarts syllabus, seeing as most wizards are unable to expand the charm beyond certain areas. While of course I find it a very interesting spell to learn, the professors think it’s a waste of time to teach students because of its many restrictions –“

Before his best friend could go on a tangent (they do have a game to get back to, after all), Harry grabbed his glasses and propped them on his face. “I might not look it, Hermione,” he smiled, “but I do pick up a book once in a while.”

Hermione paused, started to say something, and then paused again.

“I don’t just hang with you in the library to watch people, you know. I do read sometimes. But right not, I think I should get back to the game. See you later in the Common Room?”

Once Hermione returned for the stands, Fred and George each swung an arm over Harry’s shoulders and praised his skills in handling the fairer sex. He sank into the mud a little because of their weight, but Harry would never dare mention it to the twins. “What do you mean my skills?” he asked. “I was just telling her the truth!”

The twins shared a look.

“Come off it, Harry,” they chorused. “You’re the last person aside from Ron who would voluntary pick up a book and learn spells,” added Fred. He ruffled Harry’s soaking wet hair.

“Jinxes and charms to mess with people, maybe,” said George, “but practical spells like that Impervious Charm? We’re thick, but not that thick.”

“Oh, believe me Gred, Forge,” Harry shrugged off their arms and swung his Nimbus to replace their weight, “you guys are not, as you put it, thick.” He thought about the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and how much ingenuity, hard work and dedication the twins are capable of when given the right occasion. “And I do read.”

George snorted. “Yeah, right. If you’re a reader then I’m a saint.”

Fred laughingly shoved his twin and mounted his broom. Time-out was nearly over. “And I’m a bleeding Hinkypunk. Just make sure you catch that Snitch, Harry!”

Harry accepted the light-hearted teasing and mounted his own broom. He sped off without as much as a worry about the game’s ending. For now, he was just going to have fun doing what he does best: Quidditch.

_Page Break_

Muffled discussion permeated through the thick fog that was Harry’s consciousness. The last thing he knew was pushing with all his might for his Nimbus to go faster. The Snitch was so close and Diggory was not that far of as well. He remembered making a desperate lunge towards the Snitch, scratching at the other Seeker’s hands in his haste to get it… Now his head hurts, along with the rest of him, actually.

“Y’know, we wouldn’t have minded if he does read up on practical spells in the library,” admitted one of the twins. Harry was too punch-drunk to bother separating the two.

“Unlike Hermione here,” continued the other twin, “we can totally see ickle Harrikins hitting the books. Maybe not as much as Ginny. That little sister of ours is always disappearing to read those wishy-washy novels of hers.

There was a scornful scoff, presumably from Hermione. “I didn’t say it was a farfetched idea,” she said. Yes, Harry thought, definitely Hermione. “I never said anything of the sort.”

“But you don’t believe him,” someone else chimed it. It was one of the Chaser girls. Katie, maybe?

“Of course, I do –“

“You said so yourself that you didn’t know Harry knew of that spell – what was it called again?” Chuckles and groans erupted from the pack gathered around Harry’s prone form. Was it really that difficult to remember a spell that makes things water repellent? “You were surprised when he mentioned that he reads.”

“No, I wasn’t!”

“Really, could have fooled me,” said Alicia. Harry was certain this was Alicia because the only person who heard her (apart from him) had hissed for her to be quiet else she’d get the wrath of an irritated bookworm.

“Get of her case, guys,” came the reasonable voice of Harry’s other best mate, Ron. “You’re saying things Hermione never said.” Hermione’s thanks were soft and barely audible. “Of course, what she really meant was that she was surprised not by Harry reading because let’s face it, the git doesn’t wear glasses because it’s hip in the Muggle world.”

What on earth was Ron talking about? And since when did he used the word “hip”? Damn, he must have been talking to Dean again. Muggle slang was his thing.

“Hermione’s just mad because Harry’s giving her a run for her Galleons,” finished Ron.

There was complete and utter silence after Ron finished his sentence. Just when everyone thought he had matured even for the slightest bit, he had gone and made a joke out of it. While he couldn’t be blame – the cue was right there for the taking – no one could believe that he could say that. And within arm’s length of the bushy haired witch herself. Harry couldn’t help it anymore.

He snorted. Forcefully peeling his eyes open, he laughed his way to a sitting position until he had grabbed his glasses and settled his sheets comfortably around him. “Hello, everyone,” he greeted cheerfully. “What did I miss?”

“Apparently, not much,” answered Hermione, glaring at him coldly. “If you’re fine enough to laugh in my expense, then I shouldn’t have bothered waiting for you to wake up.”

“C’mon, Hermione,” said Harry with a winning smile. “Don’t be like that!”

When the girl in question refused to meet his eyes (or anyone’s, for that matter), Harry turned to his teammates and repeated his question, adding one about the results of the game. Despite the sense of foreboding Harry had felt this morning over breakfast, things had turned out pretty well. The Dementors still came and he had still fallen off his broom, but they had won the match after Harry barely scraped by in catching the elusive Snitch before Diggory could. There was a party in the Common Room in celebration for their victory.

“What about my Nimbus?” Harry asked. He almost regretted it upon seeing the smiles drop off his friends’ faces.

“Well…” drawled Ron, the only one with enough courage – or stupidity – to brave whatever reaction Harry would have once the news was delivered. What he wasn’t aware of, however, was that Harry already knew what happened to his broom. It was asking too much of serendipity for that to have changed.

After hearing Ron and Hermione (who had gotten over her anger) recount the events that led to his trusted broomstick, Harry didn’t know what to feel. Things had not gone the way they did in the Prisoner of Azakaban, but still the results were the same more or less. The Dementors still flock to him like a drug, he still fell several feet off his broom and into the squelchy mud of the Quidditch Pitch, and his Nimbus 2000 was ruined beyond repair. Only, The Whomping Willow was not to blame. This time, his broomstick had simply been blown into across the grounds before drowning in the Black Lake.

Oh well, Harry mused as he settled into bed later that night, at least I’ll have that Firebolt to look forward to.

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