P*T*E*N Page is up and running, slightly ahead of FFN and AO3. This pace will change to significantly ahead of FFN/AO3 once we reach the next hiatus point (at the end of the Durmstrang Arc). Visit P*T*E*N / 521dream if interested. Posted stories include A Flaw in Fate and Sacred Sight (A King's Path Rewrite/Remaster).

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The next chapter will be published the Saturday after next.

Harry Potter: A Flaw in Fate

The Desolations of Destiny

XIV. The Silver Spire


Harry crashed into the snow-covered grounds. A flicker of pain rang in his head.

Durmstrang. We're back at Durmstrang.

He pushed himself up, wiping the dirt from his robes. A string of recent memories crashed into his skull.

"'Dueling Extraordinaire Harry Potter,'" he repeated, turning around. A silver-haired girl sat on the floor below, "That's where you knew me from . . ."

His eyes switched to the medallion in her palm. The ribbon was torn now. Harry watched the girl mend it with an idle flick of her wand.

"They could've died, you know," Gabrielle muttered, "Those men from the Quidditch World Cup. We might've killed them."

Harry froze. An uncomfortable feeling settled in his chest.

"No," Harry frowned, "There were loads of Death Eaters around, and the spells we used weren't incurable."

"Maybe," Gabrielle paused, "But maybe not . . ."

She trailed off, eventually turning to face Harry again.

"Do you regret it?"

Harry looked up. Gabrielle was watching him carefully, her expression unnaturally blank. There was a slight heaviness in her eyes.

"No," Harry realised aloud, "No, I don't."

They chose their side.

"I don't either," Gabrielle admitted, "But it still hurts."

Harry nodded, pressing a finger against her bleeding cheek. The blood slowly faded away, the wound sealing itself. Harry struggled to ignore the sudden sharp pain in his chest.

"It was us or them," he said seriously, "I'd rather you lived than they did."

"Thanks," Gabrielle laughed weakly, "I suppose I feel the same."


"You know what I mean."

"Yeah, I do," Harry nodded. He glanced back at the medallion in her palm, "You used that portkey at the Quidditch World Cup, right?"

Gabrielle nodded.

"My father gave it to me," she muttered, "It's meant to keep me safe."

Harry frowned.

"Why'd it take us back to the Durmstrang Grounds? Shouldn't we be at your house or something?"

"That would be a security risk," Gabrielle frowned, "The medallion's laced with a clever enchantment. It'll take me to a safe place I've recently been."

Harry nodded slowly.

"Sounds oddly specific."

And mildly illegal. That thing can definitely tear through wards.

"You'd best keep that to yourself," Gabrielle warned him, standing up, "I'm not exactly supposed to tell anyone, but -"

"I kinda would've known anyway," Harry finished, "Yeah, I got it. My lips are sealed."

"About the medallion, or the Quidditch World Cup?"

"Both, I suppose," Harry sighed, "I'm not in a rush to get myself arrested, believe it or not."

The outline of the Durmstrang castle loomed out in the distance. Harry and Gabrielle slowly walked in its direction, tending to their minor wounds.

"Finite," Harry muttered, waving his wand over Gabrielle's dark robes. They slowly returned back to their characteristic blue, "I should probably do mine as well -"

"Won't that make us more easily recognizable?"

Harry shrugged.

"They're looking for a witch and wizard dressed in black, not two kids in school robes."

Gabrielle nodded slowly.

"You should probably change your face, too," she whispered, "I think they might've seen it."

"It's still different?" Harry asked, surprised, "I thought it would've faded by now . . ."

Normal. Give me my face back.

The slight ache faded from his chest. Harry let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding.

"Are you a metamorphmagus?" asked Gabrielle curiously, "I know it's a Black family trait -"

"What happened to not wasting your time on idle gossip?" Harry asked. Gabrielle glared at him.

"The Blacks originated in France," she said seriously, "Where do you think the motto 'Always Pure' came from?"

"England, probably, seeing as it's in English -"

"What?" Gabrielle frowned. Realisation slowly sparked across her features, "One second -"

She quickly unwrapped the silver amulet from her wrist, holding it by her side.

"Toujours Pur," she said with a heavy French accent. She replaced the Language Amulet upon her arm, "Where do you think that came from?"

"Japan, probably."

"You are easily the most annoying person I've ever met -"

"Well, you're not a metamorphmagus."

"So you are one, then?"

Harry grinned knowingly at her.

"That'd be telling, wouldn't it? There's no fun in that."

"I'll figure it out," Gabrielle said, her head held high," Just you wait -"

"Sure you will. Same way you'll figure out how I can see through your Disillusionment Charm."

Gabrielle glared at him again.

After a few minutes, the Beauxbatons Carriage sat just before them. Harry stood, watching as Gabrielle approached the carriage door.

"What, are you just going to stand there?" Gabrielle frowned, "It's about three in the morning, you know."

Harry nodded slowly.

"I've got something to take care of before I go to bed."

My precious puppet . . . I still need to find Bella.

Gabrielle shrugged.

"Good night, then," she whispered, pulling the door open.

"Good night."

The silver-haired girl vanished from sight. Harry let out a slow, steady breath.

Bella hunting time.

He prowled around the grounds, moving through the trees. Minutes turned to hours, the clouds above slowly passing by . . .

She wasn't there.


Books lay sprawled across the table. Harry flicked bitterly through countless pages, his fingers pressing tight into the leather cover.

"You'd think a book about the Caledonian mountains would be about the fucking mountains," Harry said dryly, "Completely fucking useless -"

He paused, staring at the passage that sat before him.


Harry let go, the pages falling flat before him. A detailed drawing of a golden temple spanned most of the parchment. His eyes flicked to the inscription below.

'At the top of the Caledonian Mountains sits Solkyss Peak. This sacred point, commandeered by Ancient Slavics, is home to a temple of gold and light. The Slavs once used it to worship the Firebird, their holy creature. It was believed that the temple's location (the point closest to the sun) would bestow upon them the same blessings granted to the Firebird.'

Harry turned the page. A drawing of a rather magnificent bird flapped its wings wildly.

You look like Fawkes if he was painted gold.

"Catching up on school work?"

Harry nearly jumped. His eyes shifted to the girl standing opposite him.

"Not quite, seeing as I haven't got any," Harry muttered.

"You probably don't need it," her blue eyes stared curiously into his, "You're already quite the duelist."

Harry frowned. He watched as the girl's lips curved into a polite smile, pale fingers outstretched.

"Cerise Rosier."

"Harry Potter," Harry said, shaking her hand, "For what it's worth, I'm still sorry about our duel."

"Don't be. The Truest told you to. That's not exactly something you can ignore."

It isn't?

"I don't think that changes anything," Harry frowned, "I still shouldn't have broken into your mind. I'm sorry for that."

"Thank you, Harry," Cerise smiled, "Your mind games won't work on Delacour, though. Her thoughts are far more organized than my own, I'm told."

Harry glanced curiously at her.

"You're told?"

"I'm no Legilimens. It isn't as though I could've done it myself," Cerise laughed, "Besides, I would've gotten in a whirlwind of trouble."

"Then how?"

"She had a tutor back in France. Anaïs Auclair. A friend of her older sister, I think."

Harry nodded slowly.

"Everyone has their weaknesses," he decided eventually, "If not her mind, I'm sure there's something else."

"Got an idea in mind?"

Harry grinned. The pale face of Gabrielle Delacour slipped through his mind, her features scrunched up in hesitation.

"Not one I'm willing to share."

"Shame," Cerise smiled, "I could've reviewed the idea for you -"

Harry snorted.

"Sure. You definitely wouldn't tell Gabrielle, either."

"I likely wouldn't," said Cerise seriously, "We're not exactly close."

"Not a drop of school loyalty, huh?"

"Not a drop," the girl agreed, laughing, "I am only loyal to the few who deserve it."

Her gaze lowered, running across the table and toward the book that sat before him.

"The Firebird," Cerise whispered, "Lucky doves."

"Lucky what?"

"They're birds of luck, Firebirds," Cerise explained. Harry watched as she tucked a strand of black hair behind her ear, "Their feathers make you lucky. A stronger version of Felix Felecis. In France, we call them Lucky Doves."

Her gaze returned to the drawing. She laughed as the bird yawned, wildly flapping its wings.

"They're beautiful."

"They look like Fawkes if he was painted gold."


"Er - Dumbledore's Phoenix."

Cerise frowned.

"I have very few friends that attend Hogwarts, it is true," she began slowly, "but none of them have ever mentioned Fawkes."

"That makes sense, I suppose. I've never really seen Fawkes outside of Dumbledore's office."

Cerise nodded thoughtfully.

"They are equally fascinating," she said clearly, "I would love to meet one -"

"Er - Cerise?"

The two of them looked up. A number of Beauxbatons students stood opposite them, watching them with surprise.

"I suppose that's my cue," Cerise said regretfully, "I'll be seeing you, Harry."

Harry removed his language amulet, grinning.

"Au revoir."

"Au revoir!" Cerise laughed, removing her amulet as well. Harry watched as she left, her friends whispering faintly as they followed.

Someone slid into Cerise's newly vacant seat. A large stack of books fell upon the table.

"I didn't know you knew Rosier."

"Good to see you too, Hermione," Harry grinned, "And for what's it worth, I don't."

I didn't, anyway.

Hermione frowned.

"Then why were you talking to her?"

"International Magical Cooperation, obviously," Harry laughed at the look Hermione sent him, "Think of how proud Dumbledore would be -"

"He'd be glowing, I'm sure," Hermione frowned, "Not that I've had much luck at it."

"Tried talking to someone?"

Hermione nodded slowly.

"I saw a girl from Durmstrang here in the library last week. I thought it'd be nice to talk to someone from a different school."

"And you wanted to test out the language amulet," Harry added.

"That too, I suppose," Hermione admitted, "Not that it mattered. I didn't even get a word out before she was dragged out of the library by Professor Haugen -"

"Professor who?"

"Haugen. She teaches Magical History."

"Right, go on."

"What do you mean, go on?" Hermione frowned, "That's all there is to it."

"Well, what'd she get in trouble for?"

"Oh," Hermione caught her breath, leaning closer, "She snuck into Kalddød."

"Into what?"

"Honestly, it's like you've been here for less than a day," Hermione snapped, "Kalddød. It's the Durmstrang equivalent of Hogsmeade. Students aren't supposed to go there."

"If students aren't allowed then it can't be like Hogsmeade, Hermione."

"Yes, it can," Hermione shook her head, "The oldest students are allowed. They just don't let the younger students go because it's so dangerous."

"It's that dangerous?" Harry asked curiously, "You reckon Dumbledore would let us go?"

It sounds like my sort of place. Theo's, too.

"Absolutely not," Hermione practically scolded him, "Even the oldest Durmstrang students are only allowed to go with a Professor. There's no way Dumbledore would . . ."

She trailed off, staring at Harry with wide eyes.

"What?" he snapped irritably, "Hurry up, you were saying something."

"You're thinking of going," said Hermione firmly. There was a slightly panicked edge to her voice.

"Of course not -"

"Don't lie!" Hermione slammed her book shut, standing up, "Harry, you promise me right now you won't go!"

"Alright, I won't go. Happy?"


"Where are we going again?"

"Kalddød," Harry repeated, yawning, "It's a remote village up north. Some sort of evil Hogsmeade."

"Brilliant," Nott grinned happily, toying with an ebony ring. His breath fogged up in the cold air before them, "I knew these little bastards would be good for something."

"Yeah, yeah, they're alright," Harry yawned, holding up his right hand. His own ring, silver and emerald, glimmered beneath the midnight sky, "Voldemort hasn't tried killing me with them just yet -"

"And she won't. Because they're just objects. She's not the boogeyman, is she?"

"Boogeywomen, more like."

Nott snorted.

"How are you going to get back, anyway?" Harry asked as the two of them approached a village out in the distance, "I didn't really think about that when I summoned you."

Nott held his ring up high.

"Works both ways. I told you they were cleverly designed."

"Voldemort's blushing somewhere, I'm sure."

"Good. She should be - fuck!"

Nott groaned as his foot got stuck in the snow. He freed it with an exaggerated wave of his wand.

"How's Daphne, anyway?" Harry asked, watching as Nott pushed himself forward.

"Not the best," Theo frowned, "She definitely doesn't like me as much as you or Astoria, but I reckon if I was gone too she'd go crazy."

"Sounds about right," Harry nodded, "She's not still worried about Astoria, is she?"

"Nah," Nott waved him off, "That's nothing unusual, apparently. As long as Astoria's alright now -"

"She is."

"- then Daphne's fine," Theo nodded, panting, "They do snow differently, Durmstrang."

Harry laughed, waving his wand. The snow in front of them melted into nothingness.

"Explains the fur coats, doesn't it?"

"Suppose so," Theo muttered. He slowly straightened up, "What about you? Anything interesting about Durmstrang?"

"Loads," Harry sighed, "They've got this cult called the Scarlet Prophets. They can see the future."

"The name sort of gives that away," Theo admitted, "What are they like?"

Harry thought carefully.

"Odd," he decided, "Especially their leader, the Truest. The way she talks . . . it's like she knows me better than I know myself. Even when she was greeting Dumbledore . . ."


"I don't really remember," Harry frowned, "She asked if he'd brought them their champion, or something."

Nott shrugged.

"She might just be a bit loopy," he said helpfully, "Some foreigners are eccentric like that."

"No," Harry shook his head, "She's not weird. I just feel like she knows something we don't."

"She probably does. She's a lot older than fourteen, that's for sure."

"She's not that old," Harry argued, "In her early thirties, I think. She sounds young."

"You might be right, then," Nott shrugged, "What about everything else? You made any friends?"

Harry paused as a collection of faces passed through his mind.

"I reckon Hermione and Pansy will be sick and tired of me by next spring."

"I meant a bit further from home, you muppet," Nott snapped, "Any foreigners?"

"I hung out with Krum for a bit. He's pretty nice."

"Draco's going to be crying himself to sleep tonight," Nott snickered, "What about the Frenchies?"

"I talked to a couple," Harry said slowly, "Well, only Cerise and Gabrielle -"

"Delacour?" Nott asked. Harry nodded, "What's she like?"

Harry laughed.

"Absolutely barmy. She tries to kill me every five minutes."

"Like she's got a chance," Nott laughed. His smile faded as Harry shook his head.

"She's already gotten close. She's aggressive, too - it's a wonder that someone who never talks can shout that much. Which reminds me . . ."

And he went off, explaining his and Delacour's adventure into the Caledonian Mountains. By the time he'd finished, Nott was staring at him with disbelief.

"And they haven't caught you?"

"Not yet, no. I don't think they will."

Nott let out a deep breath.

"That's got to be the first task, then," he said, "Something to do with the temple, probably."

"That's what I thought, too," Harry nodded, "I did a bit of research on the place. It was used to worship Firebirds millenia ago -"


"Lucky doves. Their feathers make you lucky."

Nott frowned.

"You think they're a part of the task."

Harry sighed.

"They've got to be, don't they? It can't be anything to do with the temple - Delacour and I managed to sneak into it without much effort."

"You did get caught."

"Yeah, but it's not like the Scandinavian Ministry's going to be guarding it during the task - will they?"

"I dunno," Nott frowned, "I'd be more worried about them realising what you and Delacour did."

Faint lanterns glimmered in the night. The two of them came to a stop, now standing before a rather dilapidated and snow-covered village. Jagged wood planks stuck out at every angle, and a windy, glass-strewn path led to an inn near the center of the village.

"Kalddød," Nott murmured. He glanced back at Harry, "You haven't been here before, have you?"

Harry shook his head.

"C'mon," he whispered, stepping forward, "It's not like there's anywhere else to go . . ."

The two of them stared up at the inn as they approached. Light escaped through the cracks in the wooden planks. Above the door sat a large, metal sign that read: The Silver Spire.

"Think they'll turn us away for being too young?" Nott asked.

"Here?" Harry glanced around, tossing his hood over his head, "Not a chance."

He stepped forward, pulling the double doors open with a large tug. A wave of light crashed into their eyes.


The place was jam-packed, every table surrounded by at least a half-dozen patrons. Near the other side of the bar was a large dueling stage. People surrounded it with a frenzy, watching as two young men slowly clambered up the steps and onto the platform.

"Close the blasted door!" an old man barked from the nearest table, "You'll give us all a cold!"

Theodore quickly slid the door shut.

"This place is wicked," he murmured, his eyes wide as he stared at the dueling stage, "There's no way those spells are legal."

Harry turned. One of the two men on the stage was screeching in pain, a severed finger lying limp along the floor. Harry paled.

"Holy fuck."

The wizard grimaced, his teeth spattered with blood. A stream of violent magic flew from his wand.

"Let's find a table, quick," Nott suggested, "A bunch of people got up to watch the fight."

They hurried over to a booth in the corner. Harry frowned as Nott waved his wand through the air, muttering under his breath. A strong burst of magic covered his senses.

"Protective wards," Harry grinned appreciatively, "I thought you were rubbish."

"Kiss my arse," Nott snapped, "I got better, believe it or not."

"Someone's been busy these past few weeks."

"Someone named Harry Potter," Nott yawned as he slid into the booth. Harry followed, "So you and Delacour both have a pretty good idea about the first task, huh?"

"I suppose so," Harry frowned. He sighed as his stomach grumbled loudly, "For fuck's sake."

"I'm hungry too," Nott said, standing up again, "Do they take Galleons?"

"How the fuck would I know."

Nott shrugged.

"Only one way to find out."

Harry watched as the boy disappeared into the crowd. His gaze slowly returned to the two duelists. His eyes widened as one of the men reflected a spell with a lazy wave of his wand. The violet beam of magic flew back around the room, burning a hole into the closest wall.

I've got a lot of work to do.

"Good, aren't they?"

Harry looked up. A cloaked, hunched-back man stood before him. Harry could barely make out his dark, sun-kissed skin.

"I'm Nagel, boy," the man said, hobbling into the booth. If he had noticed the wards surrounding them, he didn't mention it, "I'm just visiting."

"You're not from around here?" Harry frowned.

"Oh, no," Nagel smiled toothily, "Just staying in a little shack on the village outskirts. I'm from South Africa. The Great Azania! Oh, take me home, take me home . . ."

Harry smiled weakly as the man sung, sloshing a large mug of beer back and forth.

"How long will you be here?" he asked curiously.

"Until the first task, of course!" Nagel smiled, "Oh, how I've wanted to see it since I was a boy! For decades I've been counting the days until the tournament was brought back!"

"You're a fan of the Tournament?"

"Oh, yes!" the old man clapped his hands, "And this will be one for the ages. I watched the champion selection from this very bar, you know. Those Looking Glasses are quite the invention!"

"Here?" Harry frowned, "I thought they only set up Looking Glasses in - well, in Ministry approved areas."

"That's right," Nagel grinned, leaning closer. His voice fell to a whisper, "A few of the duelists manage to steal one from some underground bar in elite France. Gave the French Ministry a hell of a headache, but better us than those scum, eh?"

"I suppose so," Harry laughed. The old man took another swig of alcohol, breaking out into song once more:

"Oh, take me home, take me home . . ."

The man bent over, wobbling slightly. Harry watched as he pulled out a small photograph.

"That's my home, you see," he said, handing the photo to Harry, "Oh, how I miss the place!"

Harry glanced at the image. A small cottage sat atop an island, surrounded by what could only be dementors.

"You live in Azkaban?"

"What? No, no," Nagel shook his head drunkenly, "I'd never live in such a dreary, British place . . . though I suppose that means you're British, eh?"

Harry bit back a curse.

"Where is that then?"

"Home, of course!"

Harry shook his head.

"And the dementors don't attack you?"

"Of course not!" Nagel slurred, "After all, it's their home too. They know better."

Nagel let out a loud burp, reaching for his mug. Harry pulled it away.

"N-Not nice," Nagel mumbled, "I'm telling on you . . ."

"Nagel, you're not in school anymore. You can't tell on me."

"Can too," Nagel argued. Harry sighed as the man's head nearly dropped to the table, "I'll tell that Gandalf 'bout your little escapade -"

"Gandalf?" Harry asked sharply. His eyes narrowed, "You mean Dumbledore, don't you?"


"You think I'm a Hogwarts student."

"I don't think, I know," Nagel waved a finger at him, "Why else would a British kid be hanging 'round here?"

"I'm not a kid," Harry frowned.

"Uh huh," Nagel seemed unimpressed, "You should've changed your voice. Too high."

His fingers snuck across the table, reaching for the mug. Harry batted them away.

"That's not a bad thing, you know," the man said eventually, "Being young. Wish I could do it all again. So much time ahead of you . . ."

He shook his head.

"What do you want to do?" he asked curiously, straightening up, "You've got so much time ahead of you - what secrets will you discover?"

Harry stared at him.

"I don't know -"

"'Course you don't," Nagel barked, "No one does. Guess."

"I like magic, I suppose," Harry sighed, his fingers fiddling with the photograph Nagel had handed him, "I'm pretty good at it."

"You want to be a duelist?" Nagel asked, "I saw the way you were looking at them duelists over there."

"Everyone was looking at them."

"Not the way you were," Nagel said, "I've seen that fire in your eyes. You'd best not let it die out."

Harry nodded thoughtfully.

"I want to get better at fighting, yeah," he admitted slowly, "Got any wisdom on that?"

"Practice. There's not a fighter in the world who's never lost. They just do so in private. You can, too."

"Fair enough," Harry sighed. He frowned at Nagel's gaze.


"Keep going!" Nagel said loudly, "You can't just have dueling, you've got to be more -"

"I don't have many other interests, Nagel," Harry sighed.

"Then think of one."

Harry thought. His vision blurred as he concentrated. So lost in thought he was, he failed to notice as Nagel's hands wrapped tight around the mug of beer, bringing it back to his lips.

Learn . . . what do you want to learn . . .

Astoria's pale skin pressed against his mind, panic setting in her eyes.

"I know what I want."

"Go on."

"I have a friend," Harry said faintly, "She's . . . she's sick. There isn't a cure."

"And you're trying to change that," Nagel surmised, "You looked into Blood Magic?"

"I've dabbled."

Nagel grinned.

"'Course you have . . . you made any progress?"

"I told you, I've only ever dabbled," Harry frowned. Nagel let out a heavy sigh.

"You seem clever - at least for your age. Got any ideas you'd like to look into?"

Harry shook his head.

"It's a Blood Curse," he murmured, "A very powerful, very old one. I have a few ideas on how to remove it from their bloodline, but . . ."

"Not a clue how to remove it from your friend."

Harry nodded slowly.

"Perhaps there isn't a way," Nagel sighed, "Perhaps death is the only option -"

"It isn't," Harry said firmly, "It doesn't have to be."

Nagel stared at him.

"You ever snuck into the Scarlet Tower?"

"I - what?"

"Have you ever snuck into the Scarlet Tower?" Nagel repeated more loudly this time, "The one those hags use all the time, over at Durmstrang?"

"No," Harry frowned, "No, of course I haven't."

"There's a room in there, hidden even to the hags," Nagel whispered, "It's like you said - death doesn't have to be the end. The room agrees . . ."

Something hopeful swirled in Harry's chest. Harry forced it calm, staring at the man opposite him.

"Say for a moment I actually considered sneaking into the Scarlet Tower," Harry frowned, "How am I supposed to find the room?"

"You'll know," the old man murmured, spilling beer again, "In here."

He reached across the table, tapping just over Harry's heart.

"And the room?" Harry asked desperately, "What's inside?"

"No idea," Nagel shrugged drunkenly, "I've never been."

Harry stared at him, gritting his teeth. He forced his anger away with a heavy sigh.

"It's not your fault," Harry murmured, sinking back into his seat, "You're drunk . . ."

"Doesn't mean I'm lying," Nagel frowned, "Beer's like Veritaserum, really - the truth potion of the Ancient World!"


Harry watched as Nagel's frown grew. The man held his empty mug over his head. His eyes watered when nothing came out.

"Goodbye, friend," Nagel cried, pawing at his eyes, "Take me home, take me home . . ."

The old man hobbled back up.

"I do hope you listen, you know," Nagel said sagely, "Have a bit of faith. You'd be surprised how much it would help you."

"Is that why you think the room will help?" Harry asked, "Simple faith?"

"I wouldn't call it simple," Nagel sighed, "But he hasn't been wrong yet."

The man slowly moved away. Harry watched as he left, toying with the photograph once more -

"Shit. Nagel!" Harry called, holding out the photo, "Your home!"

Nagel turned. His dark, beady eyes blinked furiously, squinting through the bright lights.

"Keep it," Nagel said kindly, "It's both our homes, in a way. Go on, check the back."

Harry turned it over. A crude drawing of two gravestones covered the paper.

"Been a long time since you've gone back home, hasn't it?" Nagel asked, "Oh, take me home, take me home . . ."

And with that, the old man hobbled through the double doors and out of sight.