Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter
The small crowd roared their approval as Hufflepuff scored against Slytherin, regaining the lead in what was turning out to be an incredibly close match. While the Slytherin team did have the faster brooms, the chemistry that the Hufflepuff team were displaying was something straight out of a textbook. In order to combat the difference in broom quality, the Badgers were utilizing some unorthodox tactics in order to make their presence known on the scoreboard.
Needless to say, it resulted in some entertaining viewing despite the cold conditions battering both the players and the spectators.
"You better be watching this closely Harry," instructed Oliver Wood, the captain of the Gryffindor team determined to win their upcoming encounters once the Winter break had come and gone.
"If It's any consolidation, I've already got my eyes on the snitch," said Harry, his gaze tracking the small flicker of light through the air.
"Impressive," stated Wood before his face turned sour. "I really wish all of the team had come down to watch this."
"Oliver, it's cold as," declared Harry. "Half the Slytherin and Hufflepuff students didn't even make the effort to come down and watch their teams play. Not to mention there can't be more than two dozen students from Ravenclaw and Gryffindor combined out here watching. As much as you'd prefer it, you can't beat the elements."
"Regardless, our teammates should have made the effort," pouted Wood.
Little did he know however, two of his teammates currently found themselves tucked away on the third floor near the currently unused Charms classroom, inscribing delicate runes they had spent weeks researching into a suit of armour. While they knew that their work had to be incredibly precise, they knew that they were far too out in the open and vulnerable. Were anybody to come by, it would be difficult to explain what they were doing.
"Hurry up," urged Katie, tossing a cautious glance over her shoulder far more than she liked.
"You telling me to hurry up is not going to make me hurry up," stated Fred. "I much rather this do as we want and not go on a blood thirsty rampage."
"Wait, it can do that?" exclaimed Katie.
"I don't want to think of what happens if I do one of these runes incorrectly," said Fred. "Best case scenario, nothing. Worst case, who knows. Just focus on the map for now."
"But how accurate is this?" asked Katie as she looked down at the parchment in her possession. Fred had politely requested the artifact back from Harry for a temporary amount of time, to which Harry had been more than happy to oblige.
"Katie, that map has more enchantments on it then I'd even dream of; everything going on there is happening in real time. Two people in a small confined space, snogging. Madam Pince stomping through the library, somebody's spoken too loudly. Dumbledore doing laps of his office, while it does happen regularly I can guarantee that it is happening right there and then."
"Wow," said Katie as she realized just how valuable the bit of paper in her hand actually was.
"That map has managed to prevent George and I from getting into trouble so many times that it's not funny," said Fred as he sat back and admired his handiwork. "I reckon that should do it."
"Can we test it?" asked Katie.
"It's time set," said Fred. "Trying to force it to do something when it's not meant to..."
"Will lead to disastrous consequences, got it," said Katie as she handed Fred back the map. After mumbling his incantation and erasing the ever moving ink from the parchment, he tucked it away in his pocket. "It's kind of upsetting though knowing that other people will bare witness to what happens before we even know if it's done what it's meant to."
"I don't think so," said Fred as he started to walk down the hallway, Katie following him stride for stride. "At the end of the day I grew up in a wizarding family. Watching magic on a day to day basis kind of robbed away the idea that magic was special. Heck, my brother works with dragons and I treat that like a day to day occurrence. Hundreds of students at Hogwarts didn't grow up with anything like that."
"So you want them to experience something that you take for granted," summarized Katie. "That's rather mature of you."
"Don't say that," said Fred, giving his fellow quidditch player a gentle nudge. "If word got around then my mother would expect me to be Prefect in two years time."
"Oh no, the horror. Imagine all of those responsibilities."
"Knock it off before I silence you."
The opening round of the chess tournament, as like the prior year, didn't draw too much of a crowd. Many of the spectators of the first game were other participants, entrants who were watching the battle unfolding and making up their own strategies in case they met these opponents down the line. There were other people watching but they had much less vested interest, there to cheer on the friends however they could.
While the event hadn't been the target of Potter Club the previous year, a few of the students hypothesized that it had remained under the radar for the sole purpose of allowing it to survive its first year unblemished. Since it was now past its infancy, it made a pretty solid target for the infamous club and multiple students were theorizing that there was one last big act prepared before the school went on break over the Christmas holidays.
Those watching the game however quickly realized that if Potter club did wish to make a spectacle of the game then it would be harder than first expected. It appeared that Professor Lipler had opted to watch over the tournament. Many guessed that it was because the auror wanted to ensure that she caught anybody suspicious red handed.
Truth of the matter was that she was just an avid fan of Wizard's Chess.
Had Harry been interested in targeting the event however it would have been swiftly pushed to the side given the letters that he had received that morning. One had been from Amelia Bones, explaining that if Susan had offered their house over the break period once more than she sadly had to inform him that her home would be unavailable during this time. She did make mention that she would have a lot of work during this break and even Susan wouldn't be returning for the duration of the holidays.
Harry noticed that while Amelia mentioned that she had work it didn't specifically state that she had work at the Ministry. That very well may have been him searching for intel that wasn't even there but he had a right to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity.
That was because the second letter that had been delivered belonged to Sirius. The two letters had been delivered at the same time via the same owl which made Harry assume that Amelia had previously read Sirius' words beforehand. The head of the DMLE likely didn't want Sirius leaking anything confidential to him.
Harry only really considered that a possibility when a vast number of letters on the parchment vanished and then the rest began to shuffle about on the page. While Sirius' original news that he would soon be freed had happened some time prior, the information regarding why was still a closely kept secret and hadn't been made public.
Sirius however decided to tell him straight up that the reason he was being free was that Peter was dead, the one who killed him had been Lucius. Harry could understand just why Sirius had kept this information hidden from Amelia, there was no possible way that the strict woman would want that information reaching his ears.
However that did raise the question as to why Sirius had chosen to leak this intel to him. The only reasoning he could consider was that after having spent years apart from him, Sirius wanted to share every little bit he could with him. It was a possibility but he couldn't prevent himself from considering that there was an ulterior motive.
Harry meanwhile was putting puzzle pieces into play without having a full understanding of just what it was that was happening. He was missing a motive and while he had a suspicion, there was one person who could let slip far more information than they were realising they'd be giving.
"Draco, might I have a word?" Harry asked as the Slytherin student attempted to leave the library.
"I suppose Potter," said Malfoy. Harry couldn't help but make note that Draco no longer spat out his name with bile and venom. It was odd.
"I was just curious as to whether or not you would be returning home for the holidays?" asked Harry, glancing out the nearby window to where snow gently fell from the sky. Said holidays were less than a week and much of the casual discussion around the dining hall revolved around what people would be doing over the break.
"Originally I had planned to do so," said Malfoy. "However my father has informed me that he and my mother will be taking a trip to Europe over the winter for an unspecified amount of time. It seems that one of my father's relatives has fallen deathly ill and has wished for my father to be by his side."
"It is very kind for your father to do such a thing," said Harry. "In which case I imagine that I will be seeing you throughout the castle during the break."
"Indeed," said Draco before he resumed his exit.
Harry meanwhile stood in place as he considered the information that Draco had given him. Considering Draco hadn't mentioned this mysterious relative by name, Harry got the general feeling that he was fake. A swift excuse that Lucius could use without fear of repercussions.
What Harry did learn that was of importance was that Lucius would be heading to Europe for an unspecified amount of time. This was the man that had killed Wormtail in, what he assumed, was cold blood. That wasn't to say that Malfoy had managed to get all of the information that he could from Pettigrew before he had killed him. Information that very well could have included any leads of traces as to where Voldemort could be.
Harry allowed himself to sneer as he figured it out. Lucius wanted to find his Lord and gain all the boons that came with being the one to find him.
Considering the shit that Wormtail had consequently gone through after finding Tom, Harry was aware that Lucius was unprepared for just what it was that he was getting in to. Regardless, it meant that somebody was looking for whatever shevelled remains of Tom's that was located...somewhere in Europe.
There was no way that he could give chase across an entire continent chasing the smallest of leads that could result in him ending up in an entirely different country. At this time of his life he had neither the resources, nor the contacts, to be able to unleash a full scale manhunt across Europe.
For now he could do nothing but sit on the information. If he was lucky, Malfoy would misinterpret whatever intel he had gathered from Wormtail and Tom's malformed figure would...
"Rictumsempra!" cast Luna, Harry reacting swiftly and taking several swift steps to the side to avoid the attack. "Oh phooey, I thought I'd caught you napping."
"Nearly," admitted Harry as he braced himself for any sort of follow up attack. When Luna had taken to her role as his opponent, she had seemingly interpreted it as assaulting him with spells at every possible moment. If nothing else, it did keep him on his toes.
"Did you hear about the dancing statue outside of Charms class?"
"No?" replied Susan as she suddenly became far more interested in what her friend was talking about.
"I heard about it from the fourth years," said Hannah Abbott. "Apparently they came out of their class to find the statue right outside dancing. Even Professor Flitwick was surprised by it all."
"That sounds incredible," said Susan, wondering if she would have the chance to see it. "Do you reckon it will dance when we finish our class tomorrow?"
The sour look that Hannah gave her informed her that something was wrong. "No," she said, her voice lowering slightly. "Apparently, the statue wouldn't stop dancing and was making it difficult to get into the classroom. So Flitwick had to put a stop to it and got the Runes Professor over to fix it before it ended up hurting someone."
"That's a shame," said Susan as she allowed her eyes to drift across the Great Hall. From the hushed whispers going about she could imagine that most of the discussions taking place was in regards to the rogue dancing statue. She found it particularly peculiar when somebody whispered into the ear of one of the Weasley Twins on the Gryffindor table, only for them to drop the head so fast that their face collided with the dining room table.
Perhaps he'd just been given some rather distressing news as opposed to what everybody else was talking about.
"Heading home for the holidays Hermione," stated Harry as he leant against the wall of the Gryffindor common room. A vast number of students had already made their exit past him on their way down to the Hogwarts Express.
"My, whatever gave it away," said Hermione sarcastically as she carted her suitcase down the stairs. "You do know that a real gentleman would assist a lady in need."
"A wizard however would tell you to levitate it down to the train," said Harry with a cheeky grin across his face.
Hermione had no response for that.
Harry meanwhile wasn't surprised that Hermione would be going home this time around. The last time this year had come around they were doing their best to figure out who the Heir of Slytherin was and Hermione was needed in order to complete the Polyjuice Potion. Since no attacks had happened and there was no reason to break into the Slytherin common room, there really was no practical reason as to why Hermione shouldn't enjoy this time with her family.
"I'd ask for you to save me some Christmas dinner but..."
"But I'm sure that you'll be fed more than enough here," completed Hermione.
"Yeah but it's just not the same," chuckled Harry.
"On a...different note," said Hermione as she looked about to see if anybody else was listening. "Do you intend to get up to some extracurricular activities these holidays?"
"With Lipler around, not likely," said Harry. "She's probably already got a list of every student who will be spending the break on campus and will likely be more than happy to interrogate each one of us if something goes amiss. Anyways, I have something else to worry about."
"What's that?" asked Hermione.
"Flitwick's set my execution date," said Harry, lowering his head.
"It's just a duel, I'm sure you'll be fine," said Hermione figuring out just what it was that Harry was talking about. A few weeks prior he had come to her asking for some help in learning some offensive spells that could bewilder even a Hogwarts Professor. A little bit of probing had given her more than enough information as to what was going on.
Harry didn't feel the need to explain that Flitwick wanted to see more than what any other second year was capable of given the fact that he was meant to be preparing himself for a future confrontation with a Dark Lord. "Probably, I mean I'm just a twelve year old kid at the end of the day. I'm sure he'll go easy on me."
"Absolutely," said Hermione with a smile, fully believing that the Charms Professor wouldn't go all out against her peer. "I'm sure it will be fine."
She had no idea about how chaotic the upcoming battle would truly be.
Hope you enjoyed.