(All characters and locations within belong to J.K. Rowling unless otherwise stated.)
Back to Hogsmeade
“There are three constants of human life. The most well-known is of course change. Less well-known are destiny and legacy. Both are either rejected or embraced, and both always have their own dangers and rewards.”
General (ret.) Jigme Dorji Wengshuk
Harriet was good on her word to Professor Lupin. As the days went by, she made sure to go sit with Kieran and Marcus at the Hufflepuff table. She was starting to be glad she did as the next couple of weeks went by. The Hufflepuffs (with the noted exception of Zacharias Smith who still seemed to resent the fact that Harriet had not been the Heir of Slytherin after all) were quite welcoming and friendly. Her particular favourites were the McGee twins, Avery and Ellery, and Skye Sutler.
As the next two weeks passed, Harriet was pleased to note that she was finally starting to be able to tell the McGee twins apart, if only by personality. Avery was the quieter of the two, and much more studious. Ellery on the other hand had all the makings of a wild-child. She was loud and flamboyant, and rather excessively concerned with her appearance and popularity as opposed to Avery. Yet despite her otherwise vain nature, she laughed easily and was pleasant to everyone.
Skye in particular seemed more Harriet’s type of friend. She was quiet and very shy, despite this being almost the end of their third year of schooling. She was also a great lover of animals, which combined with her quiet, peaceful demeanour put Harriet in mind of a blonde, much younger, much smaller (and much, much prettier) female version of Hagrid.
If Harriet thought her hard times were over, however, she was mistaken. The final blow to Harriet’s morale came two days before the Saturday of the next Hogsmeade trip. Harriet and her friends were leaving for breakfast that morning. Aurochius greeted them just outside the portrait hole as always, though this time he looked uncharacteristically grave.
“What’s up?” Harriet asked, her apprehension rising.
“Bad news, I’m afraid,” Aurochius said.
“Sirius Black didn’t attack someone, did he?” Harriet asked. “Or Kinney? He didn’t bomb anything else?”
“No, no,” Aurochius said quickly. “Nothing like that. Well, you know we were talking about letting you resume Hogsmeade visits.”
Harriet’s heart sank. Aurochius didn’t need to say more, but he did. “Well, one of the fauns reported catching Black’s scent near the edge of the forest around Hagrid’s cabin last night. We think he’s going to make another attempt at a break in. Needless to say, we’ve decided that it would be safer if you remained here at the school where we can keep a proper eye on you.”
Harriet sighed. “Okay…” she said, trailing off feeling dispirited.
Aurochius did look sufficiently apologetic. The reasonable part of Harriet’s mind knew that Aurochius was probably right, and he did seem sincerely sorry. The less reasonable part recognized that yet again, she was being denied the chance for fun with her friends through no fault of her own.
Harriet’s friends all acted very sorry for her.
“It’s not fair,” Marcus muttered. “You have all of them as guards, they could all go and keep you safe.”
“Yeah, cuz that’d be fun, having a whole herd of minotaurs following us everywhere we go,” Harriet said, stabbing at her eggs with her fork without much interest.
“Well more fun than cooped up in Gryffindor tower hanging out with the first and second years while everyone else has fun,” Dora said.
“Yeah, though it doesn’t matter cuz that’s what I’m going to be doing anyway,” Harriet sighed.
“Well, we don’t have to go to Hogsmeade,” Kieran said.
“Ugh, no, I’m not going to make you guys all miss out on the fun because of me,” Harriet grumbled. “I’ll be fine, I’ll get some homework done.”
“Well, there is the cloak, right?” Dora said.
“Dora!” Hermione hissed from where she was sitting nearby. Apparently, Harriet sneaking into Hogsmeade again without permission was enough to rouse Hermione from her self-imposed exile. “Harriet can’t go into Hogsmeade! If she gets caught she’ll be in so much trouble, and what if Sirius Black’s there?”
“What do you care?” Ronnie grumbled. “You’ve barely spoken to us for weeks.”
Hermione flushed and her lips tightened. Harriet wasn’t sure if she was biting back an angry retort, or trying not to break into tears. Now Harriet saw her, Hermione did look dreadful. There were heavy bags under her eyes and her hair looked even bushier and more unkempt than usual.
“I… don’t think that’s a good idea, either,” Kieran said, looking uneasy.
“Oh come on, Kieran, Harriet deserves a break,” Ronnie said.
“I think I agree with Kieran, actually,” Marcus said. “We don’t know what Black’s planning…”
“Okay, he’s broken all the way into Gryffindor Tower, if he can do that and he was really seriously after Harriet, I think he would have made a real move by now, don’t you?” Dora argued.
“Maybe what he wanted was a weapon or something?” Marcus suggested.
“If that’s the case, why didn’t he just use it while he was there in Gryffindor tower?” Dora asked in a snippy tone.
“Okay, okay,” Marcus said throwing up his hands. “But still what if Harriet gets caught?”
“Last time I went to Hogsmeade I went around without the cloak and no one was any the wiser,” Harriet said. “If I have the cloak with me, there’s no way anyone will ever know.”
She didn’t know what it was, but the thought of sneaking out was even more appealing to her than just the act of going to Hogsmeade alone. It felt pro-active, even natural, like she was meant to do it. She wondered if it had something to do with what Professor Lupin had told her, about reminding him of her father. Harriet also remembered overhearing Professor McGonagall in the Three Broomsticks during the last Hogsmeade weekend before Christmas, talking about how her father had been a troublemaker too, like Fred and George.
Besides, Professor Lupin and Mr Dusk had been in the same group of friends as her father. Now Lupin was a professor and Mr Dusk had a very nice shop in Hogsmeade. Clearly it hadn’t hindered their lives very much, had it? Well, Professor Lupin was often the worse for wear, but his life and health had been increasing steadily as the year went on, hadn’t it?
“Up to mischief, are we?” the all too familiar voice of Fred Weasley muttered quietly in Harriet’s ear.
“What’s it to you?” Ronnie said.
“Everything,” Fred said cheerfully. “George and I love mischief.”
“Too right, Fred,” George added, grinning.
Fred and George squeezed onto the bench, sitting either side of Harriet.
“Well, if you lot want a diversion to get past the minotaurs, there’s definitely ways of making that happen,” Fred said plucking an apple from the table and rubbing it on his jumper before taking a bite.
“Like what?” Harriet asked, feeling a mixture of dread and curiosity. She, Ronnie and Dora all leaned in as Fred swallowed and went on.
“Well, it’ll have to be something well planned out,” George said seriously. “Minotaurs are clever blokes, with a really good sense of smell. You can’t just sneak past them with your cloak, Harriet, they’ll know you’re there.”
“So what, drop a dung-bomb in the portrait hole to cover her scent?” Dora asked.
“Oh no, we’ll need to be more clever than that,” Fred said. “You definitely underestimate their sense of smell. I’m not entirely sure how we’ll work it yet… but if I know one thing, it’ll take more than a dung-bomb to fool them…”
* * * *
“So… tell me how exactly using twelve dung-bombs was that much cleverer than using one?” Harriet muttered.
She was back in the tunnel leading from the one-eyed witch’s hump to the basement of Honeyduke’s. Fred was just ahead of her, and he gave her a disgruntled look over his shoulder.
“Quiet you, it worked, didn’t it?”
Harriet rolled her eyes. She was appreciative of the effort to get her out of the castle and into Hogsmeade, and that it had worked. Fred had enlisted the help of two younger girls from Slytherin house named Lexi Munoz and Lola Flor de Agua. Harriet had never really met either girl, but it apparently took very little for Fred to convince them to stage the dung-bomb attack, pretending to be carrying out just another incident in the long-standing Gryffindor v Slytherin feud. It worked so well the only worry Harriet had now was that even if people couldn’t see her, they would smell the lingering scent of the dung-bombs and get suspicious.
“But we stink now,” Harriet grumbled.
“It’ll be mostly gone by the time we get to Honeyduke’s, and then the smells of the shop will cover it up, you’ll be fine,” Fred said casually.
“You’re speaking from experience on this?”
“Of course! George and I, well…” Fred trailed off, looking uncharacteristically dour and walked on.
Harriet grimaced and kept following. Fred had worked alone on this particular bit of mischief. Apparently Erica had overheard Fred and George planning out the incident and told them off for risking getting Harriet in more trouble as well as putting her in harm’s way. While Fred had not been deterred, George had balked and pulled out of the project. It had become clear to Harriet ever since Erica’s sorting the previous school year, Erica was probably the only person in the world besides Fred who could tell George what to do.
Using the cloak, it was much easier for them to get into the shop this time.
“You know, I almost feel guilty for coming into Hogsmeade without something to bribe those little whipper-snappers with,” Fred whispered in Harriet’s ear as they made it onto the shop floor. “I’ll have to send them something later.”
They exited the shop and headed into a nearby alleyway where Fred slid out from under the cloak. “Right, happy shopping, Harriet,” Fred said smiling at a spot about a foot to the left of Harriet’s head.
“You too,” Harriet said and headed off for the Three Broomsticks where she was going to meet up with her friends.
She managed to sneak into the pub by waiting for someone to open the door and then following them in. Being this well-disguised in such a public place was a bit surreal to Harriet. She had used the cloak to sneak around the school plenty of times, but managing to pass unnoticed by one or two people was a much different situation than an entire room full of people not noticing her.
She spotted her friends sitting in a corner and made her way over to them. She had expected it to just be Kieran, Marcus, Ronnie, and Dora, but she was very pleased to see Scott sitting with them with Atsuko and Tomomi. Hermione was apparently still upset over Ronnie’s rude comment to her the other day at breakfast, and had come into Hogsmeade on her own. Harriet started over but paused. What if Atsuko or Tomomi told on her?
She shifted from foot to foot anxiously, trying to decide what to do. Just then Marcus got up and headed for the restrooms. Harriet moved quickly and caught up with him before he got there.
“It’s me,” she said just loud enough to be heard.
Marcus started at the sound of her voice. “Blimey, I’ll never get used to that,” he said, clutching his chest.
“Sorry, I just didn’t know if it was safe to join the table with Atsuko and Tomomi there,” Harriet whispered.
“Oh yeah,” Marcus said, smiling down at Harriet’s chin. “Don’t worry about them.”
“Ta,” Harriet said. “I’ll head over.”
Harriet made her way over to the table and sank into Marcus’ vacated chair.
“I made it,” she said, causing everyone to jump just as Marcus had.
“Seriously, give us a little more warning than that,” Scott grumbled, rubbing his knee where he had bumped it on the table leg.
Harriet rolled her eyes.
“No trouble?” Kieran asked. He sounded torn between disapproval of the situation and relief that Harriet hadn’t been caught.
“Nope, went off without a hitch,” Harriet said. She was distracted by a tugging on the cloak and turned to see Tomomi holding part of the cloak, inspecting it closely.
“This fabric is amazing,” she said with keen interest. “It doesn’t feel like silk or any other fabric, it feels like… like water,” she went on with amazement.
“Thanks,” Harriet flushed. She looked around, hoping no one noticed Tomomi apparently playing with thin air.
“Where did you get it?” Atsuko asked, moving over to inspect the cloak as well.
“Uh it was my dad’s,” Harriet explained.
“So, where do we wanna go first?” Dora asked, excitedly, changing the subject.
“How about the Shrieking Shack?” Ronnie suggested.
“Ugh, why?” Tomomi asked, letting go of Harriet’s cloak finally. “It’s so creepy.”
“Creepy is cool,” Ronnie replied. “And we never made it the last two Hogsmeade weekends.”
“Yeah, I’d… I’d rather like to see the Shack too,” Scott said. His tone was strange and even though she was invisible, Scott seemed to be determinedly not looking in her direction.
At that moment, Marcus returned, awkwardly pulling over another chair, clearly hoping no one noticed him getting another chair despite there already being a chair there which to the rest of the world looked empty.
“Well, I know I wanna head to Dusk til Dawn’s at some point, too,” Dora suggested.
“Yeah, me too,” Marcus said. “Wanna look at what he has in stock for sports gear for boys.”
“Yeah, I could use some new football socks, mine are getting a bit worse for wear,” Ronnie said.
“Oh, you’re the one pushing the Muggle-sports initiative?” Atsuko asked Marcus.
“Yeah, that’s me,” Marcus said, beaming with pride.
“You two like Muggle-sports?” Dora asked.
“Well yeah, we’re both Muggle-borns,” Tomomi replied.
“Well, that’s settled then,” Kieran said. “Let’s go to the Shack first, then Mr Dusk’s shop?”
“Perfect,” Harriet said. “Oh, maybe let’s hit up the pet-shop before Mr Dusk’s? I want some owl treats for Hedwig.”
They rose and Harriet followed them out of the pub. Being the one in the cloak it was easier for her to take up the rear rather than risk one of them running into her and giving her away. They were almost to the edge of town when Harriet spotted something that made her pause and tell the rest of the group to hold up. It was Kenley Tyler and Draco Malfoy, standing alone together and apparently in the middle of a heated argument.
“Ugh, just leave them be,” Ronnie said dismissively. “I’ve got better things to do than worry about anything that git’s up to.”
“You know, those two have been spending an awful lot of time together lately,” Dora said scratching her cheek in thought. “Could be worth checking out. Why a bigot like Malfoy and a Muggle-born like Kenley would be hanging out so much is a puzzler.”
“Seriously, you guys have someone with an invisibility cloak and you’re debating using it to spy this much?” Tomomi asked.
Kieran sighed with resignation and seemed like he was about to say something but Harriet didn’t wait. Tomomi was right, and the two were standing in public, it wasn’t like she was trying to listen to a conversation through a window or something. She snuck as close as she dared, and listened.
“It’s not that simple!” Draco said defensively as Harriet finally paused. “My father’s not going to drop it just because I say so. Besides, the stupid thing did way more damage to me than I did to it.”
“You did insult it after being told not to,” Kenley retorted.
“Oh yeah, because that’s a perfectly valid response, ‘you insulted me, so I’m going to slice you open’!”
Kenley rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. “The hippogriff’s an animal, Draco, you can’t expect it to think the exact same way you do.”
“Fine,” Draco said. “I’ll try and get him to drop the case, but I’m making no promises…”
“Good,” Kenley said. “Is Flint still on you about the match?”
“Yeah, but I don’t know how I can get out of that,” Draco muttered. He was talking so quiet now Harriet had to strain her ears hard to hear.
“Growing a back-bone would help,” Kenley retorted.
“I’m the Seeker, and it’s my team!” Draco snapped. “We’re Slytherins, we do anything to win.”
“Even cheat?” Kenley asked, her voice very cool now. “Still says to me you need to grow a backbone, if you’re in that much doubt about your skills you’re going to cheat.”
Draco gave an aggravated grunt and stormed past Kenley towards the Hogsmeade high-street, throwing up his hands in frustration. Kenley sighed looking after him, equally angry and stamped her foot before heading in the opposite direction.
Harriet ducked out of the way as Kenley stormed past. Harriet returned to her friends, trying to process what she’d overheard.
“Well that was weird,” Harriet said.
“What’s that?” Ronnie asked. Everyone leaned in to Harriet’s general direction to listen.
“Well, first they were talking about Buckbeak… I think… I think Kenley is trying to get Malfoy to try and talk his dad out of the case against him.”
Dora blinked. “Wow, from what I know of Lucius Malfoy, if Draco succeeds it’ll be a miracle.”
“Wait-wait-wait,” Marcus said. “Are we talking about the same Malfoy? Draco Malfoy? Draco ‘I’m an evil ferrety git who would drown puppies for fun’ Malfoy?”
“Is he really that bad?” Atsuko asked, sounding sceptical.
“Tell him you’re a Muggle-born and see what happens,” Marcus brooded.
“Hey, I’m just telling you what I heard,” Harriet said impatiently. “Then they started talking about the upcoming Quidditch final I think. By the sound of it, Flint is planning a lot of cheating.”
“Well that’s not exactly news,” Dora said. “I could have told you that.”
“I could have guessed that,” Harriet said. “But still, Kenley was trying to talk him out of it and I think… I think he was listening.”
“Well, didn’t look like that from here,” Ronnie said. “The way he stormed off.”
“I think he’s just frustrated because he doesn’t know who to listen to.”
“Yeah, that’s a pretty big conflict of interest,” Kieran said reasonably.
“Well, at least that solves why those two have been so cozy lately,” Dora said thoughtfully. “Sounds like Kenley’s picked up a pet project trying to reform him.”
Ronnie snorted. “Fat chance.”
“Well, I don’t know,” Scott said deep in thought. “We have to consider the fact that, whatever else he’s done, he is at least listening to what she has to say.”
“We should probably get going if we want to get to all the shops we want today,” Kieran said, drawing their attention back to the present. They headed off to the Shrieking Shack, and it looked every bit as creepy as Harriet had heard. It was very run down, and all the windows and doors had been boarded up tight.
“Nearly-Headless Nick says a really rough crowd lives here,” Ronnie said, leaning on the fence looking at the shack with great interest.
“Yeah, maybe,” Scott said rubbing his chin.
“What, are you saying generations of people living here in Hogsmeade have been wrong?” Dora asked.
Scott shrugged. “Just saying, when’s the last time anyone actually heard one of the ghosts? The breaking and screaming people used to talk about?”
“I don’t know, I haven’t asked,” Ronnie said. “Why?”
Scott shrugged again but did not say more.
“I wonder what made them decide to haunt just this house?” Tomomi asked. “No one lives here.”
“It could just be very angry ghosts,” Kieran said. “Or the ghosts of mentally unbalanced people. Not unthinkable.”
“No, worth considering,” Scott said, but he didn’t sound very interested. Then, to Harriet’s surprise, Scott actually hopped the fence and started toward the house.
“Scott, what are you doing?!” Dora gasped, her eyes wide with shock.
“I just want to take a look,” Scott said.
Harriet furrowed her brow. Scott was up to something, she was sure of it now. Scott was usually the first to admit that he was not the towering pillar of courage, but he had followed a basilisk at great risk to his life in his determination to find out where its lair was located. This must have been the same kind of determination turned courage that Scott had utilized that night.
He was so determined to prove his theory, whatever it was, he was going to actually walk up to “the most haunted building in Britain” to prove it. The trouble was, Harriet was sure that the question of whether or not the Shrieking Shack was actually haunted was not what Scott had been obsessing over for weeks. What was he up to?
Scott reached the first step of the front porch. He put his foot on it and it creaked and cracked loudly. He tried the second step and it seemed more firm so he stepped up. He moved cautiously across the porch, checking his footing for rotted boards and he finally reached the front door.
“Don’t know what he’s looking for,” Ronnie said quietly. “Fred and George have tried to get in several times now, but it’s boarded up too tight.”
Harriet rolled her eyes. Of course Fred and George would have tried to get inside.
Scott moved to the windows first, trying to peer in through cracks. “Too dark,” he called back. “I can’t make anything out.”
“You’d think if there really were ghosts in there, they would have retaliated by now…” Atsuko said.
“Maybe they’re just trying to lull him into a false sense of security?” Ronnie suggested.
Scott moved off to the side of the Shack. He was kneeling low, studying the ground closely.
“Now what are you looking for?” Marcus called.
Scott didn’t answer. He kept going and finally came around the other side. He apparently did not find what he was looking for, for he climbed back on the porch looking disappointed as he made his way to the front door. He tried the handle but it didn’t budge.
“Think I could get away with trying alohamora here?” Scott asked, fingering his wand in his pocket. “Without the ministry getting too hacked off?”
“I… wouldn’t try it…” Kieran said. Harriet noted an expression of deep concern on Kieran’s face as he watched his best friend investigate.
“What’s he on about?” Harriet asked Kieran in an undertone so Scott wouldn’t hear.
Kieran shook his head and didn’t answer. Finally, after several attempts to budge the door open with his shoulder, Scott gave up and returned to the group.
“Well, maybe the ghosts have moved on?” Dora suggested. “I mean, like Tomomi said, no one lives here. Maybe they got bored and found somewhere else to haunt?”
“Maybe,” Scott said, though he did not seem convinced.
The impromptu investigation over, they now made their way back into town.
“You know, how about someone goes with Harriet to the pet shop while the rest of us go to Dusk til Dawn’s?” Dora suggested as they neared the high street.
“Good idea,” Kieran said. “I’ll go with Harriet, you lot do your shopping and we’ll catch up.”
Harriet and Kieran parted company from the rest and made their way towards the pet shop.
“So, seriously, what is Scott up to?” Harriet asked.
Kieran worked his jaw uncomfortably. “I… I don’t know if you want to know… I know he doesn’t want you to know…”
“He doesn’t want me to know? Why?” Harriet asked, perplexed.
Kieran sighed. “He thinks you’ll be mad at him if you knew.”
“What?!” Harriet insisted, actually grabbing Kieran’s arm to stop him. He sighed and looked into the alley beside Dusk til Dawn.
“Here, I’ll explain back here,” Kieran said. Harriet followed him into the alley and Kieran ducked between two large bins and sighed.
“Okay… Scott…” Kieran started, thinking hard about how to word what he was trying to say. “He think’s Black might be innocent.”
“He what?” Harriet asked. The absurdity of this statement struck Harriet like a slap in the face.
“It-it’s just a theory!” Kieran said hurriedly. “He just sees a lot of things in the case that don’t make sense, and a lot of things Black has done that don’t square right with the official story, that’s all.”
“Like what?” Harriet asked. She didn’t bother to keep her disapproval out of her voice.
Kieran grimaced. “Well just like, you remember that board he had at Christmas?”
“Well, stuff like that,” Kieran explained. “And then things like his last break-in. Why did he go to Marcus’ bed? You have to admit, at least, that there’s a lot that doesn’t make sense. Just, you know Scott, he can’t let a mystery go unsolved, but you and he got to be such good friends over the summer he’s terrified of how mad at him you’ll be over this. It’s why he’s been hanging around with Atsuko so much lately, she’s helping him with his investigation, and it’s why he and Hermione have been so at odds with each other lately because she doesn’t ag—”
At that moment, Kieran was cut off by a loud, clambering, clanging noise from further down the alley. It sounded like it came from the back of Mr Dusk’s shop. Before Harriet knew what had happened, something very large and black barrelled around the corner heading straight towards them. Harriet just managed to jump out of the way in time as it shot past.
“GET BACK HERE YOU BASTARD I KNOW IT’S YOU!” cried the angriest voice Harriet had ever heard. There was the sound of running footsteps and a jet of red sparks smacked into the side of the bin right in front of Harriet’s face. She shrieked in shock and stumbled backwards, falling against the wall and the cloak slipped off her. When Harriet looked up again, she was looking right into the very angry face of Mr Dusk.
“What-the-hell-are-you-doing-here?!” Mr Dusk demanded. His face was so strained Harriet could see a vein in his forehead.
“Do you have any idea how close you—do you know what that—come on!”
Mr Dusk was so angry he wasn’t forming coherent sentences anymore. He grabbed Harriet’s arm and pulled her to her feet. Harriet just managed to grab up the cloak before he also took hold of Kieran’s arm and pulled them forcefully back down the alley, away from the high street towards the back of his shop.
He pulled them inside the shop without a word and into a small office area. One door read “Mr Daniel Dusk: Owner” while another read “Storage” and another “Inventory.” He pointed to a small row of chairs and Harriet and Kieran sat without needing to be told. They watched as Mr Dusk walked through another door into what Harriet assumed to be the front of the shop, leaving them alone. Harriet had no inclination to move until he returned.
“We’re in so much trouble,” Kieran muttered.
Harriet didn’t say anything. Kieran was right. They were in serious trouble.
Just then the door to the room marked “Storage” opened and the boy they had met during Harriet’s first trip to Hogsmeade, Hyland Stevens, poked his head out looking around.
“Daniel, something wro—oh, hello you two,” he said cheerfully spotting Harriet and Kieran. His smile faltered as he took in their faces. “What happened?”
Harriet grimaced more. “Don’t wanna talk about it.”
“Gotcha,” Hyland said and drew up a chair. “So, you lot are third year, right?”
“Cool, we’re about the same age then,” he said sitting in the chair.
Harriet sighed, resigned to a conversation now that Hyland was clearly not going to go away.
“So, you work for Mr Dusk?” she asked, more trying to pass the time than out of any real interest.
“Oh no,” he said smiling. “Well, not like full time employee or anything. Hogsmeade’s my home. I work a little bit for Ab at the Hog’s Head and he gives me a place to stay. I work a bit for Rosie at the Three Broomsticks and she makes me food. I work a bit for Daniel and he gives me clothes. It’s all around a quid-pro-quo thing.”
“Quid pro quo?” Harriet asked, blinking.
“Yeah, it’s Latin. It means “something for something,” Hyland explained. “I do work for others and they give me the stuff I need. It’s why I love this place, I always get something for something.”
“But you’re only thirteen or fourteen?” Kieran asked. “Can’t they just take care of you as is?”
“Fourteen, and I don’t mind it,” Hyland said waving a dismissive hand. “Besides I get a lot more than I give if you ask me. Like Daniel, he gives me clothes but he also teaches me stuff. Just wish I could go to Hogwarts too…” he said trailing off, sounding morose.
Harriet and Kieran shared uncomfortable looks.
“Sorry,” Hyland went on. “Just gets lonely. It’s why I look forward to Hogsmeade weekends so much. All the other kids my age, but that’s why I like the refugees who live here in the summer. Some of the first real friends I’ve had, like Antoinette…”
He trailed off again but looked back up at them with wide-eyed interest. “So, what does the castle look like?”
Harriet blinked. “The castle? You mean Hogwarts?”
“You’ve lived in Hogsmeade your whole life and you’ve never seen the castle?” Kieran asked, perplexed.
“Nope, just the ruins,” Hyland said, shrugging.
Harriet and Kieran exchanged another glance.
“Ruins…?” Kieran asked.
“Yeah, all they look like to me,” Hyland said as though this was perfectly normal.
Kieran shook his head. “So, um, what kind of work do you do for Mr Dusk?” Kieran asked, changing the subject.
“Oh this and that. Whatever he needs me to do. I was just looking around for boggarts.”
“Boggarts?” Harriet asked. This very odd day was getting odder and odder by the minute.
“Yeah, I like them,” Hyland said as though this was the most normal thing in the world.
“But, don’t they—”
Mr Dusk had returned. He did not look quite as angry, but his expression was very cool as he looked down at the three teenagers. Behind him, Dora, Ronnie, Marcus, and Scott were looking at Harriet and Kieran with nervous, worried expressions.
“Would you mind the shop for me for a bit? I have some things to take care of,” Mr Dusk said.
“Oh sure,” Hyland said, jumping up eagerly. “See you two around,” he waved back to Harriet and Kieran as he left for the shop floor.
“Yeah,” Harriet said unenthusiastically. She was sure she was going to be expelled now, or at the very least suspended.
Mr Dusk sighed and sat in the seat Hyland had just vacated. He summoned four more chairs for the rest.
“Right, you lot… Aurochius knows you’re here now… He’s on his way now and I’m not going to lie, he’s bloody livid. As am I.”
Harriet winced. “Are we gonna be expelled?” she asked before she could stop herself.
Mr Dusk’s face relaxed and he leaned back in the chair.
“No, fortunately I managed to get the message to Aurochius without it being intercepted. I sent a message to Remus too and he’s ready to be your alibi, Harriet.”
Harriet didn’t find this to be very reassuring. She was pleased that she wasn’t going to be expelled, but she was sure that Professor Lupin was going to be just as disappointed in her. She didn’t think she could stand to see disappointment in his lined, weary face.
“Now, I have to say, as disapproving as I am of this whole event, I might have expected this of you, Flamel, and you Weasley, but definitely not you two,” Mr Dusk said turning his gaze on Kieran and Scott. The two boys flinched as though Mr Dusk had bellowed at them, though he barely raised his voice.
“Coming in to Hogsmeade, even with your dad’s old invisibility cloak, was incredibly dangerous, especially without your guard, Harriet,” Mr Dusk said. “It was simple luck that you weren’t—well, suffice it to say you were lucky I was the one who found you.”
Harriet blinked. She was very sure that was not what Mr Dusk had been going to say first.
“You’re really not reporting us for Harriet sneaking out?” Marcus asked, his voice full of stunned disbelief.
Mr Dusk rubbed his eyes clearly torn between his anger and exasperation. “No… first of all, I’d be the biggest hypocrite in the world. Second, honestly, all I care is that we found Harriet before Black found her first. To be honest, I don’t even want to know how you got out of the castle, even with the cloak… now… to make this more convincing, I need you five to head back into the school first. That way Aurochius can walk back with Harriet and just say he went out for a quick drink in the Three Broomsticks and leave no one the wiser as Harriet goes with him under the cloak. Alright?”
Harriet’s friends nodded. They rose as one and Mr Dusk led them to the door.
Kieran paused on the threshold, looking back at Harriet. “We’ll uh…”
“See you at dinner,” Harriet said, still sounding and feeling quite miserable.
Her friends left and Mr Dusk walked back over to her, sitting back down in the chair.
“Sorry…” Harriet managed to say in a very small voice.
Mr Dusk sighed and flicked his wand. The door to his office opened and a tray with a teapot and two cups on it floated into the room. He set the tray down on the seat next to him, tapped the teapot with his wand and instantly steam began billowing out of the spout. He poured two cups of tea and handed one of them on a saucer to Harriet.
“You don’t have to try so hard, you know?” Mr Dusk said as he picked up his own teacup and saucer.
“Sir?” Harriet asked.
Mr Dusk waved a hand. “You don’t have to call me “sir,” Harriet, or “mister” or anything. Just Daniel, alright?”
“And I mean, well, Remus said that you’ve started showing tendencies more in line with your father than before lately. In fact, he said he was worried that after having pointed it out, you would start acting even more like your father than normal.”
Daniel sipped his tea and gave Harriet a raised eyebrow. “As we can see, he was correct to think so.”
Harriet felt her sense of shame grow. “I’m just… so frustrated… things keep happening to me and I have no control over them and I just have to accept them…” she admitted. “Why is it so wrong I wanna, you know, go shopping and take trips and things without worrying about some nutter or other wanting to kill me all the time?”
Harriet’s shame was starting to bleed off into anger, now. Daniel sighed setting down his teacup and leaning forward, resting his elbows on his knees and looking Harriet straight on.
“I get that, Harriet, I really do. But at the same time, you’re not a normal girl. Horrible things happened to you, things no one deserves. But that being said, you’re going to spend your already difficult life being even more miserable if you spend all of it obsessing over how different it is, you see? If you spend your whole life worrying about what everyone else gets to do that you don’t, you’ll miss a lot of the wonderful things you can already experience.”
“Like what?” Harriet muttered, unconvinced. Daniel’s mouth twitched, almost smiling.
“Well you’re gonna have to find that out for yourself, aren’t you? Another thing you won’t be able to do if you spend your time worrying about what you can and can’t do.”
Harriet slumped in her chair. Daniel had a point. Harriet fished around for something else to talk about. She looked at the steaming teapot and something she hadn’t thought about for a while floated back into her mind.
“Mister Du—I mean, Daniel, I have a question about Professor Lupin.”
Daniel had been reaching back for his teacup but froze and gave Harriet a cautious look. “Oh yes?”
“Yeah, well, it’s about him and Professor Snape…”
Daniel seemed to relax. “Ah, I see. What’s on your mind?”
“Well, Professor Lupin’s always nice enough to him, but Professor Snape doesn’t seem to like Professor Lupin much, more than he usually doesn’t like other Defence Against the Dark Arts professors.”
“Ah,” Daniel said, taking a sip of his tea and thinking. “Well, I’m not going to lie, Professor Snape went to school with us, me and Remus and James.”
Harriet noted that Daniel omitted Sirius Black from the list, but overlooked it.
“Long story short, we didn’t like each other much. He disliked James the most, but he was definitely not overly fond of Remus either.”
“Yeah, I heard he didn’t like my dad very much,” Harriet said. “But I can’t imagine why he’d hate Professor Lupin too.”
“Well, old grudges die hard sometimes,” Daniel said evasively.
Just then, the door opened and Aurochius ducked through the door. He certainly did look very angry. Harriet felt her shame come welling back up inside her.
“Thank you, Daniel,” Aurochius said, his voice very cool.
“A pleasure,” Daniel said rising. “Right, cloak back on Harriet.”
Harriet nodded and slipped the cloak back over herself. She thanked Daniel for the tea, and followed Aurochius back out of the shop and back up to the school.