Author's Note: The Potter universe and all its characters, places, names, etc. are not my creation, all credit belongs to JKR. I'm only providing my own storyline and using her sandbox to play in.
Chapter 15 - Disappearing Act
An owl was hooting somewhere nearby as Ginny felt a breeze passing by her. She opened her eyes and took in the view of the castle grounds from where she was standing on the long bridge out towards Hagrid's hut. It was just before sunset, pretty much the only peaceful time Hogwarts saw during the course of a day. Most students would already have headed inside for the night, and the Forbidden Forest was still quiet, devoid of the usual nocturnal animal noises.
Feeling a hand on her shoulder, she smiled and looked up towards Harry. "Looks like we're sharing a dream again. Hopefully this peaceful part will stick around for a while longer before we get treated to the dark and cold routine…"
Harry nodded and wrapped his arm around her waist. "I hope so too. It would be nice to share a normal dream with you just once."
Ginny leaned into him and rested her head against his shoulder, listening for the animal sounds that would soon start up. "This one feels different, like a build up to something."
"I feel it," he muttered as he looked around. "It's almost as if we're sensing when something's about to happen, whatever this is."
She tensed up beside him. "Should we wake ourselves up and tell McGonagall?"
Harry frowned. "Not yet, I think. Maybe we can get some clue as to what might happen, like last time."
"Alright, as long as you don't get hit by anything."
They both smiled at each other but those smiles were strained, both of them not looking forward to what they were about to see. Almost as if on cue, a thin fog of darkness started to form on the horizon and make its way towards them. Ginny began running a hand up and down her exposed arm as she felt a slight chill and glanced up to see Harry looking back down at her, a frown etched on his forehead.
"This feels bad Gin'," he said quietly, and they both looked out again to see that the fog was making its way towards them at the center very rapidly. A scream startled them both and they pulled apart to look behind them for the source.
The scene changed rapidly before their eyes, and while Ginny couldn't see Harry anymore she could feel that he was still there with her in the dream. She was floating near the high ceiling of a room in the castle, and it took her a moment to realize that it was a certain faculty member's office. Ginny could see the room's owner then, sitting at her desk and writing out notes on a piece of parchment.
As was usual for a dream/nightmare, Ginny found herself not in control of her movements and circling around the office in an eerily predatory fashion. She was circling her prey more and more rapidly, until she felt an overwhelming urge to attack. Ginny was horrified as she leapt from behind and saw two very thin arms made of black clouds reach out.
Madame Hooch turned to see what was going on and the look of terror on the older woman's face burned into Ginny's mind.
Both Harry and Ginny woke at the same time, trying to sit up from the force of being shocked at the tail end of their shared experience. They had been sleeping with their limbs tangled up in each other so those first few moments of wakefulness were a jumbled mess as the bed frame creaked a little until they sorted themselves out.
Ginny was panting heavily and shuddered a bit at the image that was replaying in her head. Harry shook his head forcefully and then slung a protective arm around her.
She took a deep breath before looking into Harry's eyes. "Did you see that last bit?" she asked with a crack in her voice.
Harry nodded. "Hooch's office, yeah. Do you think that was a premonition like the last time, or did it just happen?"
Ginny shook her head. "I have no idea, but we can't leave it to chance can we? We need to go check," she said forcefully and made her way out of the sheets and comforters around them, grabbing her wand and summoning her school robes to her.
Harry was out of the bed a moment after she was and doing the same thing, bouncing around on one foot as he tried to put on his shoes and slide into his robe at the same time. Both of them made their way out of their room and down the stairs like a bolt of lightning.
Harry motioned Ginny on out the door into the hallway before stopping at a portrait in their common room, waking the occupant. "Find the Headmistress, tell her it's an emergency and to meet us at Madam Hooch's quarters."
The rather rotund wizard looked perturbed at having his slumber interrupted, but left to spread the word as soon as he saw Harry's determined face. Harry left to go catch up to Ginny and caught a glimpse of her red hair flowing behind her as she turned the corner for the main staircase. The Madam's office and rooms were down the long corridor on the first floor, further back than the Defense classroom and the extra Divination room used by Firenze the centaur.
Harry arrived behind Ginny just as she was pulling open the door to the flying instructor's office and stepped in right after her.
The sight of the office chair turned over on the floor and a mess of parchment around it brought a groan to both of them. Ginny took a few tentative steps further in, then crossed the room to the other door which led to the sleeping quarters, knocking quickly before pulling it open as well.
She came back out after only a few moments to find Harry looking up at the high ceiling of the room, checking to make sure that the black mist wasn't there any more.
"Is she in there Gin'?" he asked, eyes not leaving the ceiling.
"No," she said, biting her lower lip. "It's empty."
At the moment, they heard a commotion in the hallway outside, and they both looked over as Professor McGonagall stepped into the room wearing her tartan housecoat and carrying a lantern. She took one sweeping look at the room and then eyed Harry and Ginny. "Another nightmare?" she asked quietly, as Bill Weasley and Professor Flitwick peered in behind her.
Harry nodded. "We saw it together just a few minutes ago and came straight down Professor."
The aging Transfiguration professor looked pale as she began to understand what was going on. "And Madam Hooch?"
Both Ginny and Harry sighed at the same time and looked to each other before explaining what they saw. It took a few minutes, and by the time they were both done explaining the nightmare to McGonagall, they could see Bill and Flitwick casting unbelieving looks at them.
Bill's going to be on our case later Harry... Ginny said with a wince.
Well, hopefully we can convince him not to tell your parents right away, we're going to have to let him in on everything now.
McGonagall pursed her lips as she went over the information she had just heard. "We'll search the castle top to bottom for Madame Hooch, if as you say she may have been here recently. There is very little chance she could have gone far, or been taken because of the school's wards."
Ginny bit her lower lip. "I hope she's found quickly Professor, I don't know what that thing, or creature was. She could need medical attention."
The older witch nodded and looked out a window at the purple skies that would soon sport the rising sun. "We'll do everything we can Miss Weasley. I'll find you two as soon as we know anything."
McGonagall turned to Flitwick and started speaking quickly as the two left the room. Bill stood in his place by the door still looking at his sister and 'adoptive' brother. With a sigh, he looked at them pointedly and they followed him to his own office just a few doors down.
Harry was the last one into Bill's office and closed the door behind them. Ginny took a look at the two chairs in front of her brother's desk and silently waved her wand at them, forcing them together and doing a bit of transfiguration to make it a comfortable loveseat. Bill raised an eyebrow at seeing that, but couldn't hold back a grin.
"So," he started as the young couple sat next to each other across from him, "you've been keeping some secrets."
Ginny wiggled herself into the crook of Harry's arm and leaned into him for comfort and a bit of warmth; she never did like the chill in the castle in the early mornings. "Guilty."
"I'm assuming the fact that you two are sharing some dreams has something to do with the soul bonding?" Bill asked them.
"Yeah Bill," Harry said with a sigh. "Along with telepathy, shared hearing and a bit of memory sharing."
Way to ease him into this love, Ginny said with a giggle in his mind.
Bill looked astonished. "You two can do all that? Bloody hell... and you haven't told anyone?"
Ginny smirked at him. "We did, actually. Ron, Hermione, McGonagall and Dumbledore all know. Oh, well Professor Flitwick now too, I guess."
Harry could feel Ginny's firebrand temper lighting up inside of her. He knew he would have to keep the conversation low key; Ginny never took any sort of grief from her brothers.
Bill scowled at her. "Funny, Gin'. So Dad and Mum don't know anything yet... I can see why you haven't mentioned it yet; Mum would have baby kneazles."
Harry grinned. "Funny, I think I remember you saying that when we talked about it Ginny..."
She nudged him with her elbow but smiled all the same. "Mum's reaction was one of the big reasons, yes. For the most part we just wanted it to be a secret between the two of us, Bill. Harry and I didn't want to be a big production, especially since it's not hurting us any."
BIll leaned back in his chair. "Fair point. These nightmares though, are they hurting you any?"
Ginny shook her head. "Just some crankiness from getting woken up too early some mornings. We don't really feel much like drifting off again after them. At least we're not getting them when we're away from the school."
"So that cold and darkness bit Peeves was on about two weeks ago, you're getting that in these nightmares?"
"Yeah, Bill," Harry said with a yawn. "Every bloody time, though twice now we've seen more than that. The first time we saw Isla calling for us to help and then a loud thud, and that was the day I got beaned in the head."
"And then there was the one you had just now."
Ginny shuddered a bit. "That one was horrible. It's as if I was the thing that attacked Madame Hooch. I felt this overwhelming sense of chaos and anger when I was there."
Harry took her hand in his and squeezed it. "That's what I felt too, it was almost like when I was tapping into Voldemort and feeling his emotions. Not as strong though."
All three of them jumped a bit as Kreacher popped into the room with a loud Crack! and set a tray with things for coffee on the desk. "Sorries, Master Harry. Kreacher did not mean to startle, Kreacher wanted to bring Master and friends something to help."
Harry smiled. "Thanks Kreacher, I was going to call for you in a bit anyway."
The little house-elf nodded. "Kreacher knows what Master needs," he said, before snapping his fingers and disappearing.
Bill had an eyebrow raised up as he reached for a cup. "Hard to believe that's the same house-elf Sirius was fighting with whenever I was at Grimmauld Place."
Harry gave a warm smile to Ginny for bringing a cup to him before taking a sip and answering their brother. "Hermione's doing. She figured out how to get on his good side when we were hiding out there last year, but I'm glad she did. I don't know how I'd be getting by without this coffee that he makes," he said theatrically.
Ginny giggled and elbowed him again as she looked over at Bill. "He's just like Ron sometimes, only it's about sleep, not food."
Harry feigned being hurt but brother and sister saw right through it, and soon he was joining in with their chuckling.
Things never really stayed secret at Hogwarts for very long, so of course by lunchtime the whole school knew that a search was underway for Madam Hooch. Harry heard a bunch of Ravenclaw first years as he took his spot at the Gryffindor table for lunch, talking about undiscovered passages and rooms that their flying instructor must have found and couldn't get out of.
If only it were that easy, he thought grimly. He and Ginny had already checked the Marauder's Map for their teacher's dot, but it just wasn't there. It had been hard for him to pay attention in his morning classes, and he wished that he could be searching or helping the Headmistress in some way.
Ginny sat down next to him after a few moments closely followed by Ron and Hermione, who had been filled in on the morning's events as soon as their friends had returned to their private dorms.
"Anything?" Ron asked him while reaching for a platter of turkey sandwiches.
Harry shook his head. "I haven't heard a word, and Bill hasn't gotten any news either."
Hermione had a worried look on her face. "So Madam Hooch just up and disappeared from inside the castle? That's not good guys, it could happen to anyone. They could close the school down like they were planning to when the Chamber of Secrets was opened..."
Harry could feel Ginny shuddering next to him at the mention of the Chamber. "Well, we'll just need to figure out what this thing is then," he said with a steely resolve. "It isn't the first time we've been up against something bad in the castle. When we were talking with McGonagall and Dumbledore, his portrait said something about the Head always getting help from the castle if there was a clear problem. Since they haven't gotten anything yet, I guess we have to assume this is something new."
Ginny picked at the salad in front of her. "Yes, but there's been how many searches of the castle now and nothing like that's been discovered."
Hermione had a thoughtful look on her face. "Maybe it's something a student brought with them?"
Ron winced around what he was chewing and swallowed before speaking up. "Something like Riddle's diary? Ermm, sorry Ginny.."
She waved her hand dismissively. "If it's something like that we're in trouble, it would take forever to search for something that could be as small as a needle, really."
The four sat quietly in thought for a bit, lost in their own thoughts until a second-year approached them with a note. "From the Headmistress," the young witch said to Harry. "She wanted you to read it right away..."
Harry nodded his thanks to the girl and unfolded the note to read it quickly. "McGonagall wants to see all of us in her office as soon as we're done with lunch."
He stood quickly along with Ginny and Hermione. Ron was just a moment behind them, his appetite having been spoiled for now as well.
Five minutes later the four of them were taking seats in the Head's office; they noticed her grim expression immediately and looked carefully at each other.
"Well, we've done another sweep of the castle," the older witch said quietly but in her usual no-nonsense tone of voice. "Madame Hooch is nowhere to be found. I'll have to make an announcement at dinner to assure the students I expect."
Harry nodded once. "There's already plenty of rumors Professor."
McGonagall rubbed her left temple slowly as she thought; a sure sign of stress that none of them had ever seen from her. "I don't wish to cause any panic, or have students sending owls home saying people are disappearing. As much as I don't like the fib, it'll be best to say that Madame Hooch has fallen ill and has left the school to recuperate."
All four of her students nodded; panic about Hogwarts not being safe so soon after all the trials of the past few years wouldn't bode well.
"I have been having long discussions with my roommates here about this new threat to the school," McGonagall continued as she waved a hand upwards at the many portraits of past school Heads lining the walls, "and we're coming up short on ideas for what's going on."
Hermione cleared her throat. "Professor, the four of us have been talking and our opinion, if you'll listen to it, is that something new to the school might be the cause of the problems. Something that the school has never come across before, which would explain why the school does not know how to help you."
Minerva nodded gently and smiled a bit at her star pupil. "The thought has been in my mind, yes. Nothing was left behind after the battle here this spring, but that does not mean something could have been brought in during the summer or by a student at the start of term. The implications of this are staggering, but as much as this could be a conspiracy against us, it could also just be an unintended consequence."
"Either way," she continued, "the staff and I will continue to search the school and investigate what is happening. Of course, we will accept any help from our Head students, but I don't want the lot of you going off and getting into dangerous situations by yourselves. Am I clear?"
They all nodded their understanding, and Harry could've sworn he saw the edge of McGonagall's lip twitch upward for a brief moment.
"Now, the good Madam's disappearance is going to prove to be a bit of a problem in the case of her classes. Being that it is already well in November, her main flying lessons with the first years are already over but according to her schedule she is still holding sessions every week for those who want more practice or need help overcoming problems with their flying. She was also overseeing a new club that has sprouted up this year; a Quidditch club for younger year students who are playing for fun or wanting practice before trying out for their House teams."
"I know you all have quite a bit on your plates this year, but I would very much appreciate it if you lot would take over the Madam's private lessons and this club until her return. You need not worry about refereeing the official Quidditch Cup matches, I will assign faculty members to assist there. I have no doubt that Professor Weasley will be glad to get some time in the air," she said with a bit of a smile.
"Shouldn't have any troubles there, Professor," Ron said with a smirk on his face.
"Very well. As a thank you for helping me once again in a tight situation, I am excusing all four of you from Transfiguration classes and homework for the rest of the year. Yes, even you Miss Granger; I know of your dislike for broom flying but I'm sure there are other ways you can assist your friends. Miss Weasley, I will make doubly sure to mark down your involvement with this. I'm sure that it will look very good on your CV for any professional team that will come looking at the end of this year."
Ginny blushed a bright red to match her hair, and Harry smiled at the sight. "Thank you Professor," she managed to say quietly.
They remained in the office for a while longer, working in their new flying schedules with their own classes, and brainstorming ideas for what this latest threat to the school was.
Hours later on a small island deep in the North Sea, Auror Lowsley stood on the shoreline just outside the walls of the stone prison that was Azkaban. A large downpour of rain had started just minutes earlier and while he was feeling quite miserable because of it, he was glad it had happened; just one more piece of help for the insane mission he was undertaking tonight.
He was waiting for the arrival of a Muggle speedboat. Earlier that day before reporting in for his shift he had Imperiused two older fisherman in a fishing village on the shore closest to the rocky island, and he could only hope that the curse on them had taken and they would make it here on time. There was only a small window of time in which he could get everything done. Any longer, and any of the other five Aurors assigned with him that evening would start to find things out of place if the alarms didn't go off first. The wards that kept the prison Unplottable and resistant to Muggle prying eyes could only be dampened for so long.
Finally, just as he was about to call it quits and start again another night, he heard the darkened boat land on the gravelly shore a few feet away. As he had arranged through the Imperius Curse, one of the fishermen left the boat and came over to him with a blank look on his face.
Lowsley was relieved, and quickly got things in motion. He took a readied vial from his robes and handed it to the Muggle. "Drink this."
In mere moments, the Muggle changed appearance and grew about 4 inches to look exactly like another Auror on the rotation that night. Lowsley led him to the small and seldom-used door in the stone wall and into a supply room in the basement of Cell Block B. With a fresh change of clothes and a spare set of Auror's robes, the doppelganger was ready to go. His real counterpart was currently indisposed in the toilet of the guard shack near the pier, losing his dinner and lunch to a very strong dose of a Weasley's Wizard Wheeze.
Lowsley smirked at the thought of such a simple prank being used in a grand plan like this.
Knowing how the patrol schedule was set for the night, Lowsley was confident in the route he took up two flights of stairs and down a series of hallways.
Time for Part Two now, he thought to himself. Thanking his lucky stars that this was a minimum security cell, he made quick work of the lock on the metal bars and charms surrounding the cell. The cell's occupant was asleep, and for that he was grateful. This particular prisoner was very talkative and irritating. Casting a silencing charm around the area, he stepped in with the fisherman-turned-Auror guard and used Petrificus Totalus on the prisoner.
Seeing that she was awake but couldn't move, he came closer and whispered to her. "You have very powerful friends on the outside. We're getting you out of here tonight, but I need you to keep quiet once I unbind you. Blink twice if you understand me."
The prisoner stared at him for a long moment, then blinked twice. Once the hex was undone Lowsley started pulling more vials out of his pockets. "I'll need one of your hairs," he said quietly to the escapee as he watched his 'accomplice' turning back into the old and decrepit fisherman. Perfect timing, he said to himself.
Stopping herself from going into a rant about the idiocy of this plan, the prisoner did as she was asked. Soon, the fisherman was the prisoner, and the prisoner had taken on the appearance of the other Auror and they had swapped clothes. Another Imperius curse got the fake prisoner to lay in the bed, where Lowsley carefully took out the last of his vials and administered a lethal dose of the poison that Travers had given him.
A quick diagnostic charm confirmed the killing a few moments later, and Lowsley was quick to leave the cell with his escapee, taking down the charms he had put up and recasting the ones from before. "Follow me," he muttered quietly.
Minutes later, Lowsley let out a sigh of relief when they reached the door that would lead back outside into the storm. "Alright, this is it. I can't leave with you right now; they'd know something was wrong for sure. There's another Muggle in the boat out there and he'll bring you back to the shore. Once on land you'll be met by a mutual friend of ours and he'll get you to a safe place." He opened the door and pointed to the boat, barely visible in the rain.
The escapee scowled. "What about a wand?" she asked.
"Waiting for you on the shore. It would've caused too many problems for me to bring an extra one here. Don't worry, the curse on the Muggle will hold until our friend dispatches him. You need to leave now, they'll be expecting me back from my rounds in a minute or so," Lowsley said. Seeing the hesitance in her, he sighed and pushed her out into the rain and closed the door on her.
Dolores Umbridge turned to look at the door in shock for a moment, then gritted her teeth and shakily made her way towards the boat in the unfamiliar body she currently had thanks to the Polyjuice Potion. As she got into the small craft, she told the Muggle with a blank look to get back to the shore and settled into the wet seats, putting on the robe's attached hood and hunkering down in the rain.
Yes it was miserable and cold, but Dolores was a changed woman for her six months in Azkaban. She was hardened and resolute; a few more hours in this downpour with no one but a lesser being to keep her company was a very cheap price to pay for her freedom. A small grin crossed her face under the hood.
Yes, she thought to herself. Revenge is a dish best served cold.
December snuck up on Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione before they knew it. Between all their regular classes and homework, the constant studying for their NEWTs, their Head Student and prefect duties, Quidditch practice and the classes they were in charge of as Teacher Assistants, they all had a busy schedule that made the weeks seem to fly by.
Of course, there were other things they had on their minds. Hermione had taken to spending more time with her little sister when their schedules allowed. Both Granger girls were at every French club meeting that Fleur Weasley conducted each week. Fleur learned quickly that Hermione had picked up some of the language and culture during the few vacations she had taken before to France, and was very glad for the extra help. Isla was slowly mastering the language and the two sisters would often break out into side conversations in French, much to the amusement of their friends.
Hermione was also spending quite a bit of time doing research each week, whether in the library or in their private common room, determined to find the cause of the school's problems. Her copy of Hogwarts, A History had been read through from cover to cover once again to no avail, and with each passing book she felt herself getting more and more frustrated.
Ron had his own worries; and they were all about Hermione. He could see how frustrated his girl was getting with her research, and with all their other responsibilities looming from every side he was constantly on the lookout for signs of another panic attack. Of course he was doing everything he could to prevent that from happening, right down to going to the French club meetings with Hermione and her sister and assisting with as much research as he could. He was also spending some quality time with Isla, who was constantly asking him for matches of Wizard's chess. While he was glad to play with anyone who asked, he was doubly rewarded by the small smile Hermione had on her face each time they played a game while she read.
Ginny's time was preoccupied with a plethora of things, though the most important to her was Quidditch. She and Harry were working their team into a finely honed machine, even though their next match wasn't until early February. They had cut down practices to twice a week, but didn't deviate from the constant drilling and development of new plays. She was also studying very hard with Madam Pomfrey, and was getting a good chunk of practice as the weather turned colder. There were also more small injuries to take care of than was normal; many of them twisted ankles and broken noses from students tripping over things that they swore weren't in front of them mere seconds before. She had a sneaky suspicion that these 'mishaps' were somehow being influenced by the castle's latest mystery.
She too was worried about her love. While Harry seemed happy on the outside, she knew from their connection that he was in a constant battle of emotions. The constant shared nightmares were taking their toll on him, and he was feeling useless over not being able to fix the situation in the castle. Ginny also knew that he was constantly falling back on the two letters of his mother's that he had read. Knowing that Voldemort had taken yet another member of his family away was eating at him, but the knowledge that he could have a godmother out there somewhere was keeping his outlook positive; as long as he didn't start convincing himself that she too was probably gone from his life.
The four of them were all mulling over their thoughts and worries over breakfast in the Great Hall on the Friday in the first week of December. They were all looking forward to the weekend's break from classes. There was no Quidditch practice or need to supervise a trip to Hogsmeade, so the weekend was free and clear with only a small mountain of homework and essays to complete. There would have been the usual scowl or comment about the amount of work they had, but none of them voiced that opinion; they knew that they had nearly half less work than the rest of their year-mates because of the classes they had been excused from.
Only Ginny looked up as the ports in the high ceiling opened to let the mail owls in for their deliveries, covering a yawn with the back of her hand. Not spotting Enid or any other familiar owls, she went back to her bowl of porridge and looked across the table to Hermione who was idly looking through the morning's edition of the Daily Prophet.
"Anything interesting?" she asked of her friend through another yawn.
"Not really, just another article about the search for Travers. Here's one about the new wing that's being planned for St. Mungo's... and that's about it. Hold on..."
The change of tone in her voice caught everyone's attention, and they all waited for Hermione to speed read the article before she laid it out on the table for them all to read. She pointed to a small article on the bottom of the third page.
UMBRIDGE DIES IN PRISON
The Ministry of Magic announced today the death of former Senior Undersecretary Dolores Jane Umbridge. According to the press release, Umbridge passed away suddenly in her Azkaban cell early last week. When asked about the lengthy amount of time in revealing the news, Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt had this to say:
"With all the escapes from the prison in recent years, the Auror department has investigated every strange occurrence on the island as thoroughly as possible. Prisoner Umbridge was in fair health before her death and showed no signs of illness, so I ordered a detailed investigation to make certain that there was no foul play involved."
Umbridge had been sentenced to Azkaban for life earlier this year for crimes against humanity, as well as harboring wanted Death Eaters shortly after the Battle of Hogwarts. She was Senior Undersecretary under Cornelius Fudge for years before being assigned to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a professor and High Inquisitor. She was also temporarily named Headmistress, though the title was never made official as the school itself never approved of the appointment.
Umbridge was the Head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission during You-Know-Who's takeover of the Ministry last year, and was sentenced based on her despicable actions. While not a proven Death Eater, Umbridge was certainly supportive of their cause. She leaves behind no relatives.
"Well, the hag finally got what was coming to her," Ginny mumbled as she finished reading the article.
"Good riddance," Ron said in agreement. "Bloody mental she was."
Harry looked lost in his thoughts, and Ginny was about to ask him what he was thinking about when he stood suddenly with a smile on his face. "I feel so bloody stupid Gin'," he said as he looked down at her. "It takes a newspaper article about Umbridge of all people to give me a clue on how to find my godmother."
Ginny, Hermione and Ron looked up at him with blank looks on their faces. With a sigh, he leaned over and pointed at a word in the article. "Registration. I'm willing to bet that this mysterious Evie was a student here along with my mother and father. Even if Mum met her after she graduated, there should be some sort of record at the Ministry if someone left to work on the continent for a long period of time, like a work visa right?"
Hermione was nodding and smiling at the same time. "Might not be the same system that Muggles use but you're right Harry, there probably is. Maybe the Headmistress can look into the student records for you, or she might even remember who this 'Evie' is."
Ginny had a bright smile on her face. "McGonagall's already been here and gone; we can try to catch her tonight after classes love."
Right after their last class of the day, the young couple made their way hand in hand to the Head office after dropping off their bags in their private dorm. Harry had his mother's letter tucked away inside of his loosened robes and was walking quickly with a noticeable spring in his step, nearly pulling Ginny along with him. She was smiling both on the outside and inside, glad to see that her boyfriend's mood was much improved. Hopefully he wouldn't be disappointed when the two left McGonagall's office.
Harry stopped in front of the stone gargoyle that guarded the office's entrance and looked at it. "We'd like to speak to the Headmistress if she's available."
The gargoyle's head angled upward as if to look at Harry, and then set itself back to its original position. A few moments later it jumped aside to admit them as McGonagall's voice came down the stairs. "Come on up, please."
The Headmistress looked up as they came in, a frown crossing her face. "Another dream?" she asked them worriedly.
Harry shook his head and smiled. "No, thankfully. We… ermm, well we had a question if you aren't too busy Professor."
The older witch waved her hands towards the chairs in front of her desk. "Sit sit, ask away."
Harry and Ginny got comfortable in their chairs and Ginny looked over at Harry with a supportive smile as he figured out how to frame his question. "Professor, you were Head of Gryffindor when my parents were here right?" A quick nod from her had him continuing. "I know about the Marauders, my father's friends, but do you remember anything about my mother's friends? I ask because I recently came across this letter that my Mum wrote and never got a chance to send."
He handed the small roll of parchment over to McGonagall across the desk, and watched as she unfurled it. Both Harry and Ginny saw a small smile draw itself across the Head's face. "This brings back some memories, Harry," she said quietly, looking up at him warmly.
Harry smiled back, partly because this was one of the only times his Head of House had ever called him by his first name. "So this Evie came to school here?"
McGonagall nodded. "I had no idea that your mother had picked her to be your godmother, only that Sirius was to be your godfather. Your mother and Genevieve were very close in their years here; they were in the same year and both in Gryffindor. I believe they met on their first train ride here, just like Miss Granger, Mr. Weasley and yourself."
Ginny smiled widely and looked over at Harry before speaking up. "We're trying to see if we can locate her, Professor. I think it would be brilliant if Harry could meet her at least." Feeling Harry's anxiousness through their connection, she thought about some happy moments and sent those feelings back over to him in support.
Minerva smiled warmly. "Yes, it would be quite wonderful. I suppose we could try and find some information for you Harry. Albus?" She turned in her seat towards the empty frame near her desk and spoke to it. "Albus, are you there?"
"Minerva? Oh, one moment please if you would my friends, I'll be back as soon as I can," the three of them heard Dumbledore saying from somewhere in the portrait, but faintly, as if he were across a large room or down a corridor.
Within moments he walked into his portrait and smiled upon seeing who was there. "Ah, Harry and Ginny! Wonderful to see the both of you. Not another round of dreams, I hope?"
"No sir," Harry said quickly. "Nothing like that."
McGonagall adjusted her glasses and looked at the portrait of her predecessor. "Albus, I wonder if we can impress upon your excellent memory for a moment; we need some information about a good friend of Harry's mother."
"Ah yes, you'd be talking about young Genevieve then am I right? Those two were as close as your father and his friends Harry. What brings this up if I might ask?"
Harry quickly relayed the contents of the letter to Dumbledore. "I'm hoping to see if she can be located, or at least a clue to where she went, Professor. If she's still alive, then she's almost family to me."
Portrait-Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, I can see how important it would be for you. If I remember correctly, her full name is Genevieve Taylor. Her family moved here from across the pond as they say from Canada, a job transfer for her mother you see. After she and your mother finished their schooling here she did start a job on the continent but I don't believe it was with the Ministry."
Harry smiled a bit. Well, a last name is better than we had... he mused to himself.
Yes, it is love. Don't get discouraged, he heard Ginny say.
Looking over at her, he did a mental smirk. Sorry, didn't realize I was broadcasting that.
She smiled back at him. "Is there anything else that you can remember, Professors? I know that House Heads have meetings with outgoing students to help them with their careers. What did Genevieve want to do?"
McGonagall nodded a bit. "Miss Taylor was very good at Potions and Charms, as your mother was Mr. Potter. I believe she was looking into finding a position somewhere that would enable her to continue her studies in those fields but work at the same time. I'm sorry that all the information we have is very vague; we usually rely on alumni to keep us informed of their own lives and those of their friends."
Harry nodded and sighed. "I understand. Does the school have a record of where my godmother lived here during the summer? I know it's a long shot and that she probably hasn't returned there, but we might be able to find another clue or something."
McGonagall thought for a moment and nodded. "I will look back through the student files for that information Mr. Potter. It may take a day or two, however."
"Of course," Harry said with a smile, "whenever you can Professor; I know there are more pressing problems for you to deal with at the moment."
The Headmistress looked over at Harry with a small smile. "Pressing, yes, but after all that you have done for the school, Harry, I believe I can find the time."
Before Harry could respond the door to the office opened and the room's occupants could hear someone climbing the stairs quickly. A frown crossed McGonagall's face as Bill Weasley came in, a pale look on his own face.
"Err, sorry to disturb but I had to tell you immediately Professor," he said quickly. "A prefect found Dennis Creevey unconscious in a fourth floor hallway."
The bonded couple felt each other tense up as they heard that. "Another one?" Ginny asked quietly. "We didn't feel or see anything..."
Bill shook his head. "I don't think this had to do with the mishaps we've been having; Madam Pomfrey was able to find traces of a spell hitting him in the chest, at nearly point-blank range."
The Headmistress stood up quickly and walked around her desk making her way to the door. "A duel then? I thought we had seen the last of that with all the Slytherin students who didn't return."
Harry and Ginny were obviously dismissed, but the way Bill motioned at them to follow him peaked their curiosity. "I was hoping we wouldn't see any of it either, Headmistress," Bill said as he walked alongside her. "I do have another theory though, one which I very much hope is wrong..."
Minerva glanced over at him as they made their way up the main staircase. "And what would that be Professor Weasley?"
Bill gulped at the tone she was using; it reminded him of the tone she reserved for students who had gotten into mischief. "I've heard from a few of my students that Dennis has been uncharacteristically quiet since the start of term this year, shutting himself away in his dorm for long periods of time or not talking to his friends. He's also been very quiet in my classes with him."
The older Weasley sighed as they reached the door to the Hospital Wing. "Professor, we went over the Unforgivable Curses in his class earlier this week..."
It took Harry, Ginny and the Headmistress a moment to understand what he was saying, but it sunk in quickly after that. The look of sadness on McGonagall's face was exactly what the bonded couple was feeling at that moment.
I know Gin', I know. I'm really hoping that your brother is wrong about this...