This story is discontinued! The first 18 chapters are here on , but I won't continue writing it.
AN: You can be happy, I updated relatively quickly, only 5 days passed :) Only don't think I'll continue to update at that rate – I just didn't want to leave the cliffie hanging in the air :) But I'll try, I promise. Anyway, thanks to those who reviewed: chiliz, Dakana Warrior (You'll find an answer to your question in this chapter), boingbangkerplunk, Carmel March, Elad 271, PrincessSkywalkerOrgana, Hedwig02135, Ainariel-Helyanwe, Lion of Gryffindor. Thank you, and here's the next chapter!
Chapter 18: In Dumbledore's office
"Harry! Harry!" Ron was calling him. Harry snapped out of his trance.
"What happened? What did you see?"
"He was here. Wormtail was here. And – and he disappeared from the map. He must have apparated – one second he was in the middle of the forest, and then – he wasn't there anymore," Harry said, still stunned.
"But –," Ron started saying.
"Yes, I know…. You cannot apparate or disapparate on the Hogwarts grounds," said Harry in a perfect imitation of Hermione.
"Maybe he's dead," said Ron hopefully. "You can't show on the map once you're dead, can you?"
"Hold that thought," said Harry grimly. "Come on, we have to go see Dumbledore."
"Er… Harry –," said Neville hesitantly, "what's going on?"
"No time to explain it now, sorry," said Harry irritably. "Well tell you everything when we get back… Hurry up, Ron!"
They went quickly down to the common room, and out of the painting of the Fat Lady. Harry was clutching the Marauder's Map, feeling nervous and disturbed. As they were striding down the deserted corridors, he couldn't stop thinking about what he saw. What was Pettigrew doing here? What did he want? How could he disappear? Harry had no answers whatsoever to those questions. His only hope was that Dumbledore would have them – along with a nice story, which would explain logically all that happened. However, after last year's events, he wasn't sure that Dumbledore's words would ever be able to comfort him.
They reached the headmaster's office at last, and Harry stopped abruptly. "No, wait… Oh hell, we don't know the password!"
"Speak for yourself," Ron grinned widely. Seeing the bewildered look on Harry's face, he added, "Being a Prefect has its advantages."
Harry smirked. "Well, what are you waiting for?!" he cried suddenly.
"Calm down," Ron looked at him, frowning. "Spinning Socks," he turned to the gargoyle guarding the entrance. The gargoyle sprang aside, and they hurried up the spiral staircase. Harry was trying to understand why this password was so familiar. Then he remembered that it was one of the twins' inventions, and despite his nervousness, smiled inwardly at Dumbledore's choices of passwords.
They reached the door with the brass knocker in the shape of a griffin, and Harry knocked hesitantly.
"Enter!" sounded Dumbledore's voice.
Dumbledore was sitting, as usual, at his desk, and with him was sitting Professor Ostir, who looked up worriedly when they entered. She then looked back at Dumbledore, and he nodded. "Yes, that's all. Don't worry, Athena. At least don't worry now," he said.
She stood up and swept out of the room without a sound. Harry was puzzled, but he didn't have the opportunity to wonder about her, as Prof. Dumbledore reminded him of the reason to their coming.
"So, Harry, Ron, what happened?" he asked pleasantly. Ron looked at Harry, waiting for him to explain.
"Er… Well, at first, Neville told us he had seen Scabbers, Ron's old 'rat'. And then we went to check the Marauder's Map, and I saw Pettigrew's name in the middle of the Forbidden Forest, and then he disappeared," Harry told the story.
Dumbledore's expression became serious at once. He pondered the information for a moment, and then said: "Harry, can you show me the exact place where you saw him? Only if you remember it accurately – it's very important."
"I guess I remember…" said Harry uncertainly. He opened the map, and stared at it for a moment. "It was here," he pointed on the map. Dumbledore looked intently at the spot that Harry was showing him, and closed his eyes, as if preventing himself from saying something. He then went to the corner, where Fawkes the phoenix was perching. "Can you summon Severus?" he asked the bird quietly. With a small 'bang', Fawkes disappeared, and reappeared a minute later. After a while, the door to Dumbledore's office opened, and Snape walked inside. "Albus, what…" he started saying, but then he noticed Harry and Ron, and stopped, a displeased look appearing on his face.
Dumbledore beckoned him to come closer. "Harry has just seen Peter Pettigrew disapparating from this place," he showed him the map. Snape smirked. Harry felt a rush of anger – he didn't want him to see this map. Snape's eyes were fixed to the spot on the old parchment for a few seconds. "Then he found it," he said quietly, raising his head and looking directly at Dumbledore. "Which is amazing," he continued even more quietly, trying to block Harry and Ron from hearing his words, "considering his absolute lack of orientation." If Harry was puzzled before, it was nothing compared to what he felt now. He didn't have a single clue what was going on, and, judging by the look on his face, neither did Ron.
"Boys, can you have outside, please? Don't go away yet, I still want to talk to you," said Dumbledore.
"Trust him not to let us hear anything – why should he tell us what's going on, really…." said Harry angrily the moment he closed the door.
"We can still hear everything," grinned Ron mischievously, and moved closer to eavesdrop. Harry quickly joined him.
"This is our chance to check his trust in you, Severus," they heard Dumbledore saying, not bothering to keep his voice down at all. "Voldemort doesn't know we saw Pettigrew. If he tells you about his success, than he trusts you enough. If he doesn't – then we have a problem… Either way, we have an advantage that we should use."
Harry couldn't hear Snape, who was almost whispering. After a while, he managed to catch a few words.
"You do realize how useful that map can be to us, Albus. I told you before that it was a mistake giving it back to Potter – it was a pure coincidence that he saw Pettigrew on it." That bastard, Harry thought. Ron made a gesture of cutting someone's throat.
"Actually, Severus, it was not a coincidence – Neville Longbottom saw Pettigrew in his animagus form and told Harry and Ron about it," Dumbledore replied. Harry stifled a laugh when he thought of Snape's face after hearing that Neville was the one who saved the day. "Besides," continued Dumbledore, "the map belongs to Remus, and he can give it to anyone he wants to."
"But we won't be able to know whether Pettigrew is here or not," snarled Snape, "and we can't risk him running around freely – it's too dangerous!"
"Sometimes I have a feeling you underestimate me, Severus," answered Dumbledore's amused voice. "Simulotabulus"
"Maybe you are right," answered Snape, and Harry shuddered to hear a malicious delight in his voice. What the hell is going on there?
"Severus… You know you shouldn't be using it for - "
"Don't worry, Albus," smirked Snape, "I will use it for good causes only." Something in his voice made Harry shiver once again. Ron nudged him, mouthing that they should move away from the door. They stepped aside not a moment too soon – immediately, Snape emerged out of the office, tucking something in his robes. If he took the map, thought Harry menacingly, I don't know what I'll do…But as they entered back, Dumbledore handed Harry the map, and he relaxed a bit. "Mischief managed," he muttered, tapping the map with his wand and wiping it blank.
"You are probably waiting for an explanation," said Dumbledore. Harry nodded fervently, and the Headmaster smiled.
"There is only a small part of it that I can explain – because the other part is somebody's secret, which I cannot reveal to you," he sighed. "Both of you must know that Hogwarts is protected, and that you can't apparate in." Harry nodded again, wondering where this led. "However, what you don't know is that there is a small area in the Forbidden Forest, which can be used for disapparition only in times of emergency. Voldemort found out about it, and he must have sent Pettigrew to check if it works."
Harry's jaw dropped. "So basically, Voldemort can apparate inside any time now and kill us all?"
"No. You can't apparate inside, only disapparate out. It is still impossible for him to come inside the school. The security measures this year are extremely high, so you have nothing to worry about."
"But if Pettigrew managed to get in…" said Ron quietly.
"It won't happen again, I can assure you," said Dumbledore seriously. "And now it's really time to go to bed – good night, boys."
Neville was waiting for them when they got back to the dormitory. "So?" he asked eagerly. Harry let Ron do the talking, getting himself ready for bed. He tried not to listen as Ron was explaining about Sirius – it was too painful to think about. He fell asleep quickly that night. In his dreams, he saw rats running in circles, chasing their tails. Then, one of the rats escaped, and tried to jump on him, at which point he woke up, not remembering anything at all. He fell asleep shortly afterwards, without any weird dreams for the rest of the night.
AN: Phew… Finally, it's over… Longer than usually, isn't it? You can go and review now, and please tell me what you think. I have one question to you – Am I writing the characters the way they are supposed to be? Comments on that aspect will be appreciated.
Love you, bye bye!