Harry Potter and the Price of Being Noble

Harry helps Fleur in the second task of GOF and pays the price. HP/Fleur/Gabrielle/Hermione. A Veela bonding fic based on love. T Rated and it will stay that way. Thirteen year old Almost fourteen Gabrielle to start the story. Good Dumbledore.



22. Chapter 22 Scars and Horcruxes

"The soul is split by the act of murder…."

"A complex and powerful spell afterwards is used to take a part of the soul and place it…."

"While a horcrux exists the soul fragment anchors…."

"A Horcrux should be stored where it will never be found, as it can affect those people who…"

These are some of the phrases that were read and mentally repeated between the bond mates as they discussed horcruxes over the next few days. Now that they knew what a Horcrux was and what they were used for, the bond mates understood why Professor Dumbledore was trying to contain the information. The promise of immortality was too much of an enticement for some. Even the wizards who didn't have enough magical power to create a Horcrux, might commit the murders just to try.

The bond mates did speculate on several things such as when Riddle might have created a Horcrux and what he might have put his in. It was several days later when Harry was entering the Chamber with the three young women that a fragment of memory came back to him. As he gazed at that giant statue of Salazar Slytherin, he remembered Ginny lying between the feet. The words a young Tom Riddle spoke came back to him...

"Ginny poured out her soul to me, and her soul happened to be exactly what I wanted…."

Powerful enough to start feeding Miss Weasley a few of my secrets, to start pouring a little of my soul back into her. . ."

"His soul!" Harry thought. "Riddle's soul!" The mental shout made each of his bond mates stop in their tracks and look at him. "Sorry, but I think I know what Riddle's Horcrux is or I mean was," Harry said. "The diary."

"The dia… oh you mean Riddle's diary?" Hermione asked. Suddenly she felt as if her hands were dirty as she remembered holding the book in question when Harry showed it to her after he found it in Myrtle's bathroom. She found herself unconsciously wiping them on her robes.

"Yes! Remember the memory of him talking to me. When he was saying how he possessed Ginny he said he started pouring his soul back into her. Books don't have souls do they?"

"But can a 'orcrux do zat?" Gabrielle asked.

"The book said it can influence those who come in contact with it," Hermione reminded the young witch.

"But if zat's ze case, zen 'e is gone for good?" Fleur asked. "'E 'as no soul anchor so 'is soul should be gone now?"

"I…I don't know," Harry replied. "My scar..." Harry's hand rose to his forehead where the scar that made him famous rested. He could still imagine the pain that had awoken him that summer morning.

"It hurt during the past summer didn't it?" Hermione questioned.

"What is zis about 'is scar 'urting and why is it important?" Fleur asked. She was reminded once again how much Hermione has been a part of Harry's life for so many years. She knew so much about the man, their bond mate they both loved. It wasn't she was jealous of their relationship but only that she couldn't wait for the day she knew just as much about Harry as her bond sister did.

"It sometimes hurts when Voldemort is near me," Harry explained, "but not always. It hurt the first time he was facing me through Quirrell's turban, but when he faced me when I had the philosopher's stone it didn't hurt until Quirrell actually touched me."

"Ow does your scar know when Voldemort is around? And are you saying 'e was around you zis summer? 'Ow? Where?" Fleur was confused. Though Harry had told her of his adventures, and she had relived some of the memories, it was the details like this get left out; and some of these details confused her.

"I don't know. It just does," Harry replied. "As for this summer, I had a dream or something where I saw him and Wormtail. At least that's what I thought I saw and they were plotting to kill…" He looked at Hermione knowing he didn't tell her the whole truth the last time he mentioned it but this time she picked up the thought instantly.

"YOU! You told Ron and me it was just someone! You didn't say it was you they were plotting to kill," She exclaimed as she glared at him. "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US?"

"I didn't tell you because you were already upset and I didn't want to upset you more," Harry replied honestly.

"Did you ever mention it to Professor Dumbledore especially in light of the fact that someone entered you into this tournament?"

"I can't tell Professor Dumbledore, what if it was just a dream? I can't go running to the Headmas…"

"He already knows your scar hurt during the summer," The voice of Harry's godfather interrupted. "I told him when you told me Harry. Though he doesn't know about the dream since you didn't bother telling me that part either," At the look on his Godson's face, Sirius continued, "You can be pissed at me all you want Harry, but my first concern is for your safety. I failed you thirteen years ago. I'll be damned if I let anything else happen to you if I can help it."

"But what if it was just a dream?"

"Then it was just a dream but Dumbledore would want to know the details surrounding the pain in your scar. I am surprised he didn't ask you already," Sirius said. "You need to tell him about what you saw Harry."

The statement by Sirius was immediately echoed by his bond mates and Harry reluctantly agreed.

Fleur was still puzzled about the pain in the scar. "Did ze 'eadmaster explain why 'Arry's scar might 'urt around Voldemort?" she asked Sirius.

"No he didn't."

"Maybe you should ask your Madam Pomfrey," She suggested to Harry. "Or 'ave you already asked 'er?"

"No, this past summer was the first time it hurt since the end of the first year so I really didn't think about it," Harry replied. "I...I really don't want to talk to anyone about my scar. I don't like it. I know you are concerned but understand that when I look in a mirror and see it, it reminds me of my parents dying. It reminds me that people look at it, before they look at me," His voice lowered to only a whisper, "It reminds me of everything that hurts in my life," He sat down at the table and pulled out one of his books and quickly opened it. Not even looking at what page he was on or even what book it was, he started reading.

All three Bondmates looked at each other and all of them had looks of sadness cross their faces. They all had started thinking of the scar as a separate entity and not what it meant to Harry. As they talked silently to themselves, they reminded themselves even though they had had a couple of wonderful months; Harry still had scars that they couldn't see. They hoped that time and love would eventually heal them.

"I'm sorry Harry," Hermione said as she walked over to him. "You're right. We...well we were just thinking of the scar and not what it means to you," She sat down beside him and with a gentle touch turned his face to look at her. "We are sorry love. We won't talk about it anymore; just promise us that you'll tell Dumbledore about the dream and if the scar hurts again."

Harry just nodded then turned back to his book.

The talk about his scar, Voldemort and Horcruxes stopped at that time. Harry withdrew into himself and the women gave him space for a while. Though he never turned the page of his book, he never looked up from it either. As each of his bond mates peeked in his thoughts they could see various things as they ran through Harry's mind. Everything that scar meant to him, the sight of his parents in the Mirror of Erised and in the photo album Hagrid gave to him, the voice of his mother begging for his life, the green light of the killing curse bright in his eyes as an infant, and the people gawking at him. His bondmates sent their love of him and waited. Harry finally looked up as he realized the scar might represent what he had lost, but the love he felt from the three women who were there with him represented what life was giving him. "Thank you," He thought gently to his bond mates. They joined him at the table, each with a hug for him and a small tender kiss.

%%% May 22 1995 %%%

Harry didn't go right away to see the Headmaster as his bond mates wanted. He just wanted to forget about the scar again. So for the next few days he always found a reason to not go. The days slipped by until it was the weekend before Gabrielle's birthday. It was also a Hogsmeade weekend. Harry knew this was the time to get Gabrielle's present.

"Moony, can you do me a favor?" Harry asked.

"Sure, what do you need?"

"I need to get Gabrielle her present and the only way I can surprise her is to take this potion," He showed Moony the vial with the purple potion in it. "Mr. Delacour said it would not allow her to read my thoughts for an hour and I'd forget the hour later," Harry explained. "He said I need someone I can trust to be with me so they could let me know what happened if I get into trouble and well though I do trust you, I really don't have anyone else I could ask."

"Sure, let me clean up a little and we'll head into Hogsmeade."

"Thanks Moony."

An hour later as they entered Hogsmeade, Harry reached into his robes and pulled out the potion. He first told his bonded what was happening and then lifted the small vial. "Here goes," He thought and downed the contents in one gulp. He was pleasantly surprised to find it did not have a bad taste.

The next moment Harry found himself in the Headmaster's office. He shook his head in confusion. He was sitting across from Professor Dumbledore and he was surrounded by Fleur, Gabrielle and Hermione all with looks of concern on their faces. Remus was in a chair off to the side.

"Now Harry can you tell me one more time what you saw?" Dumbledore was saying.

"Saw? What do you mean?" Harry replied shaking his head in confusion once more. "When? What? I was just going to get Gabrielle's present...with Moony."

"Ze potion Papa gave 'im as worn off 'eadmaster," Fleur said seeing the look of confusion in Harry's eyes.

"What's going on? What happened?" Harry asked very confused as he looked around the room. His eyes fell on Remus. "Did I do something wrong?"

"According to Remus and what you told us before the potion wore off," Dumbledore started explaining. "You had some kind of vision of Voldemort."

"We were coming out of...of a store where you bought a gift," Remus said and Harry started patting his pockets of his robes. "I have the bag safely tucked away," Remus said then continued. "You suddenly started clutching your scar and collapsed as you started saying something about Wormtail. It was several minutes before you were lucid again. After you started telling me what you had seen, I realized it was something the Headmaster should know and I brought you here immediately. We came across the young women along the way and they, of course accompanied us."

"What did I say?" Harry asked as his hand felt the scar on his forehead. Now that Remus had mentioned it, he could still feel a slight burning coming from it but the pain was fading quickly.

"You told me you saw Wormtail and Voldemort," Dumbledore said. "That Tom was punishing Peter with the Cruciatus Curse for letting something escape and he was threatening to feed Peter to Nagini."

"Nagini? Voldemort's snake?" Harry asked as the name came back from the earlier summer dream. "Please tell me Wormtail is snake food."

"You remember the snake's name? I was under the impression that you wouldn't remember anything."

"From my…an earlier dream that I had in the summer," Harry replied hesitantly as he looked at his bond mates.

Dumbledore leaned forward in his chair and stared at Harry over his half-moon glasses. "When your scar hurt? When you wrote Sirius? There was another one of these visions then?"

"Yes sir."

"Tell him Harry," Hermione pleaded. "He needs to know."

Harry looked at her and shrugged, turning back to Dumbledore he said. "In the dream I had in the summer, Wormtail and Voldemort were discussing some kind of plan to kill…kill me and there was an old man there, a muggle at least I think it was a muggle that was murdered."

Dumbledore's gaze sharpened on Harry. "To kill you Harry? Are you certain?"

"I think so sir, but it was only a dream or do you believe these things are real?"

Dumbledore face was a mask of concentration as he looked at Harry then at every other person in the room before he finally answered the question. "It is possible," said Dumbledore. "I would say - probable. You see there was an old muggle who disappeared from a village that Tom Riddle's father lived in. I can't guarantee it was the same person but it is quite possible," He sat back and reflected for a couple of minutes before he addressed the people around his desk again. "There is something that is really troubling me though."

"What is that sir?"

"You said in this latest vision he was performing the Cruicatus curse on Wormtail."

"Why does that bother you?"

"How did he do it without a body for he had to hold a wand to perform that curse?"

"But how?"

"How?" muttered Dumbledore. "How indeed is the question."

"But why am I getting these dreams or whatever they are now? Is he getting stronger?"

"Voldemort?" Dumbledore asked giving Harry the piercing gaze that made Harry feel he could see right through him. "I can only give you my suspicions for I have no proof Harry, but yes I do believe he is," The Headmaster sighed and looked much older, and wearier, than ever.

"The years of Voldemort's ascent to power," he said as he looked again at Harry and the women around him, "were marked with disappearances. Bertha Jorkins, an employee with the Ministry.."

"I remember the Weasleys talking about her," Hermione said then realized she had just interrupted the Headmaster. "Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt."

"That's quite alright Miss Granger, but as I was saying Ms. Jorkins has vanished without a trace in the place where Voldemort was certainly known to be last and then the muggle I just mentioned. His name was Frank Bryce, he lived in the village where Voldemort's father grew up, and he has not been seen since last August. That's about the same time you had that dream wasn't it?"

"Yes sir."

"Two disappearances in places associated with Voldemort. They could be a coincidence but I think not especially now that I know you saw Voldemort kill a muggle about the same time Bryce was last seen. Again could be a coincidence, but very unlikely."

Then, because of mental nudge from Fleur, Harry asked. "And do you know why my scar hurts?"

"I have a theory, no more than that," The Headmaster answered after another contemplative look. "It is my belief that your scar hurts both when Lord Voldemort is near you, and when he is feeling a particularly strong surge of hatred."

"But. . . why?"

"Because when the curse failed on that night many years ago, I think it left a connection between you and Tom," explained Dumbledore. "That is no ordinary scar."

Harry's hand again went immediately to his forehead. "Connection to Voldemort?" He looked at his bondmates, expecting to see and feel horror at what they were themselves connected to, but only saw three ladies with looks of concern and love. "So you think because something escaped Voldemort was angry enough for me to feel it?" Harry asked finally.

"Yes." Dumbledore replied. He was silent for a couple of moments and then continued. "I had hoped and still do hope that your bond will protect you from the connection with Tom in some fashion. From what little Miss Delacour said about the potion her father gave you, I would hazard a guess that not only did it prevent the bond from protecting you but might have actually made your mind more susceptible to the emotions of Voldemort."

"How...he wouldn't do anything like that."

"Oh don't think I am suggesting he gave it to you with that intent. I apologize if it seemed that way. No, Alain Delacour is a very good man," Dumbledore smiled at the two Delacours. "Again I must say that I am guessing, but the way Professor Berceau described how your bond would protect your mind I would presume it has taken over the protections your mind had already formed to protect you from Voldemort as well. So when the potion interfered with the Veela bond and the protection it offers, it probably left you very susceptible to that connection," Dumbledore looked at Harry over his half-moon glasses. "I highly recommend you not take that potion again. For Mr. Delacour it does what he needs it to do, but for you Harry, it could be very very dangerous."

"Yes sir," Harry replied softly though he was having a hard time swallowing the lump in his throat. "I just wanted to get you a present Angel."

"And I'm sure you did a wonderful job of eet," Gabrielle replied and he felt a surge of love over the bond.

"Well if that is all…" Dumbledore started as an obvious dismissal.

"Should we ask about ze 'orcrux while we are here?" Fleur asked Harry and her Bond Sisters.

"He obviously didn't want us to know, but we know now," Hermione responded. "Would it get your father in trouble for giving us the book?"

"We don't 'ave to tell 'im where we got ze information. 'E already knows about zem so zat's not a problem."

Harry could feel Hermione's reluctance and was about to suggest just leaving when he felt her resolve strengthen and she replied. "Okay, let's ask."

"Sir, may we ask a question? We 'ave been researching what a 'orcrux..." Fleur started but that was as far as she got as Dumbledore's eyes sharpened and he had his wand up far more quickly than someone his age should be able to react.

Harry bolted out of his chair with reflexes that spoke of his seeker abilities, placing himself directly between Fleur and Dumbledore and was reaching for his own wand. A second later he relaxed as he heard the familiar clicks as the door to the office was being locked. Once he saw the Headmaster put the wand back on his desk, he returned to his seat.

Fleur had been startled as the Headmaster had lifted his wand and had made no effort to defend herself. She looked over at her bond mate as she realized he had instinctively defended her by putting himself between the Headmaster and her. She couldn't help but feel happy at the thought.

Dumbledore's eyes had lost their weariness as he focused on the group of youngsters in front of him with a gaze that was almost cold from his now ice blue eyes. "Where did you hear that word?" He asked curtly. All pleasantries had left his voice. He then remembered the Chamber and he looked at Hermione. "I presume you were the one? You needed to know?"

Near panic was coursing through Hermione as the Headmaster stern gaze was locked on her. "What do we do?"

"We've done nothing wrong sister," Fleur said to Hermione and then to Dumbledore. "Sir, you 'ave no right to take zat tone with 'Ermione. We researched a term zat we 'eard. We are students zat is what we are supposed to do."

Dumbledore's eyes turned to Fleur, all grandfatherly twinkles missing from his blue eyes. "Who else knows about this? Have you told anyone else?"

Fleur held the gaze of the Headmaster. "Why do you need to know sir?" She asked and then was out of her chair in an instant. "And if zat is legilimency I sense, you better 'ave a good reason, or my next destination is Madam Maxime and an owl or floo call to my father."

Two sets of blue eyes were locked on each other; Dumbledore's against Fleur's. Harry had to admire his older bond mate. She wasn't afraid of the Headmaster. He thought it must be because she had so much experience dealing with high ranking government people her father worked with.

To Harry's surprise Dumbledore caved first. The Headmaster finally leaned back in his chair again. "My apologies Miss Delacour. Please sit back down. I had no right to do what I did, but your mind is very much closed to my attempts anyway as are all of you. The protection provided by your bond makes Legilimency impossible, at least passively. It was instinctive on my part to do it and again I apologize," Dumbledore's face returned to the look of weariness it had had before. Then he let out a sigh before continuing. "That is a term I've been trying to research for some time now while at the same time remove as much knowledge of them as possible. Understand my concern when four," his eyes flicked over to Remus as he realized he didn't look surprised, "or five people now know about them."

Harry put his hand on Fleur's arm. "It's alright. Sit down please my flower."

"E's still 'iding something," Fleur thought but sat back down and gave Harry a small smile.

"Sir," Harry said to the Headmaster, "We've discussed it only in the Chamber or over our bond. We four, Remus and Sirius are the only ones who know what we know," He decided that Mr. Delacour wasn't about to mention it to anyone and the Headmaster didn't need to know about him anyway.

Dumbledore gazed at the four young people in front of him. They had unraveled a secret that he had tried to bury from the world. He wondered how they knew what they knew. "Did I miss a book in Slytherin's library?" He wondered. He continued to look at them. They all looked so very young, and for them to have that knowledge put them in extreme danger. His mind raced over several possibilities of what to do. "If I dismiss them outright, they will continue to research it I am sure," He momentarily looked at his wand, "I'm not sure what an oblivation spell would do with their bond. It might not work at all or cause issues I'm not aware of," As he looked up he saw Remus's eyes locked on him as if he knew what he was thinking. "And if it failed or if they found out, I would lose all of Harry's trust and never get it back," Dumbledore realized he had very few options at the moment. He brought his fingers up and put them together as he continued to think of the possibilities.

"He's not eleven anymore," That's what Lupin had said while sitting in the same chair he sat in now. "No he's not," Dumbledore's gaze wandered to the young man before continuing his contemplations, "But he isn't ready for the prophecy. That's too much of a burden. Next year or the next will be better, when he's better prepared mentally for it," Finally Dumbledore realized his best course of action was honesty but not necessarily the whole truth. His gazed moved from person to person before he continued. "Please make sure you do not tell anyone else. As I said, I've been trying to remove as much knowledge of Horcruxes as I can."

"Sir we understand your desire to remove the knowledge," Hermione replied as her mind started calming down. "It started out by us only wanting to know what a Horcrux was. Then when we found out, we realized it was possibly the way Voldemort survived that night against Harry. I hope you can understand that anything that concerns Harry now concerns us."

"I can understand your academic curiosity and the need to know for the personal reasons," Dumbledore said as his blue eyes regained their warmth. "At your age I would have pursued the academic challenge as well I'm sure. No, in this case I should blame myself. I should have realized what might occur and done something besides just ignoring your question that day in the Chamber. I should've attempted to dissuade you at that time from pursuing the topic, but alas that is water under the bridge as you might say."

"Yes sir, so we are right in that it was a Horcrux that kept him alive?"

"Yes. It definitely appears that is how he stayed alive that night."

"Do you know if the Horcrux was the diary that Ginny had?" Hermione asked.

Dumbledore had to give them credit. He had immediately suspected the object to be a Horcrux after Harry had described what had happened, but he had been studying Horcruxes for several years. The young people before him had done the same thing in just a few weeks. "What makes you think it was?" He asked wanting to know what had led to their conclusion.

"Riddle mentioned that he gave some of his soul back to Ginny," Harry explained. "He used the word soul and since we were talking about storing part of Riddle's soul, it only made sense."

"Very well reasoned and yes that diary was a Horcrux," Dumbledore replied.

"So why isn't 'e dead?" Fleur asked. "If 'is orcrux was destroyed, why isn't 'e dead?"

"You've done a very good job so far in your reasoning, why would you think he's not dead?" Dumbledore questioned.

They sat and thought for a few minutes before Hermione murmured "He couldn't do that."

"He couldn't do what Miss Granger? Remember that this is Tom Riddle who is capable of doing most anything."

"Well sir, I thought for a second considering all the people he has murdered, what if he made more than one Horcrux, but that would...I mean it can't be."

"I recently came across something that makes me think that is exactly what he did. How many he might have created is still the question."

"But…but it can't be that many can it?"

"I do not know how many parts a soul can be divided into," Dumbledore replied. "But even if he only made two Horcruxes it means his soul is in three parts already."

"No sir. That's not right," Hermione replied and her eyes flew open wide and she blushed as she realized she had just corrected the Headmaster.

Dumbledore looked at the witch for a second before. "Please explain what you mean by that."

Hermione looked embarrassed but explained what she had thought. "Sir, the…I mean our source said when you murdered someone it splits your soul into two pieces. Left alone they will eventually bind back together, but someone intent on making a horcrux would perform the magic required to remove half of the soul and place it in the container they had prepared."

"Yes that is how it works," Dumbledore said.

Hermione thought her next statement was obvious but she said it anyway. "Sir, if you split your soul into two pieces; then in your first horcrux you would have half of your soul, but in your second one you would put only a fourth of your soul. So I guess technically if you made two horcruxes it would be in three parts, but three unequal parts. He would only have a quarter of his soul left to him."

Dumbledore eyes never gave away the inner thoughts that now started growing exponentially. Now that she had said it, it made obvious sense but not something he had considered before. He immediately started thinking of the transformation of the handsome young man Tom Riddle had been into the 'thing' he had become later in life, becoming more snake than man. Dumbledore had presumed Riddle's appearance change had occurred because of the dark arts he had delved into, but now it was possible if not probable that he became what he was or is because he had so little of his soul left. He then looked up from his musings and realized there were five sets of eyes looking at him.

"I think you may be right Miss Granger," Professor Dumbledore replied. "It is something I had not considered."

Hermione blushed at the praise but had an answer to why the Headmaster hadn't considered it. "Sir, I think it's because advanced arithmetic isn't taught in the wizarding world. Fractions are used in potions but only to represent a portion of an ingredient. How they are used in mathematics is never taught as far as I can tell. If I were to ask most of the students in this school who were not taught in muggle schools, what a half of a half is, most of them would answer incorrectly or ask 'half of what?' as if what you were dividing would make a difference. The only mathematics taught here is Arithmancy, and it's the study of whole numbers and the magic they imply whereas…" Her eyes widen as the question that had popped in her mind came flooding out. "Would Riddle have purposely split his soul into…into a magically significant number of pieces?"

Dumbledore internally smiled at the brilliance of Miss Granger, both in her analysis of fraction usage in the magical world and in the deducing what Riddle might have done, but enough information had been shared. "That's an interesting concept Miss Granger," He stood as if to dismiss the others. "As much as I would like to continue this discussion, I have many things to do. Harry if you have any more of these visions please let me know," His eyes moved from person to person, "Remember what we just discussed cannot be shared with anyone. No friends, no relatives, no one."

A chorus of "Yes sir" responded.

"And again Harry," Dumbledore said. "Please refrain from that potion. I think the protection the bond offers is something you really need to have."

"Yes sir."

With that acknowledgment, Harry, Remus and Harry's bond mates left the Headmaster's office. Many questions had been answered but with those answers came many more questions.

The next morning they were all back in the Great Hall eating breakfast when Hermione received her Daily Prophet. She had just unfolded it and looked at the front page when she spat pumpkin juice all over. Then Harry felt a wave of disgust and anger washed over the bond. Before Harry could look over at the paper, Draco Malfoy shouted across the Great Hall from the Slytherin table.

"Hey, Potter! Potter! How's your head? You feeling all right? Sure you're not going to go berserk on us?"

Malfoy was holding a copy of the Daily Prophet too. Slytherins up and down the table were sniggering, twisting in their seats to see Harry's reaction.

Hermione reluctantly handed the paper over to Harry. He found himself staring at his own picture, beneath the banner headline:


The boy who defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is unstable and possibly dangerous, writes Rita Skeeter, Special Correspondent. Alarming evidence has recently come to light about Harry Potter's strange behavior, which casts doubts upon his suitability to compete in a demanding competition like the Triwizard Tournament, or even to attend Hogwarts School. Potter, the Daily Prophet can exclusively reveal, regularly collapses at school, and is often heard to complain of pain in the scar on his forehead (relic of the curse with which You-Know-Who attempted to kill him). Yesterday in the middle of Hogsmeade, your Daily Prophet reporter witnessed Potter collapse in the middle of the street, saying his scar hurt and he started rambling about You-Know-Who. He was in the company of the Werewolf Remus Lupin at the time.

It is possible, say top experts at St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, that Potter's brain was affected by the attack inflicted upon him by You-Know-Who, and that his insistence that the scar is still hurting and having visions of You-Know-Who is an expression of his deep-seated confusion.

"He might even be pretending," said one specialist. "This could be a plea for attention."

The Daily Prophet, however, has unearthed worrying facts about Harry Potter that Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, has carefully concealed from the wizarding public.

"Potter can speak Parseltongue," reveals Draco Malfoy, a Hogwarts fourth year. "There were a lot of attacks on students a couple of years ago, and most people thought Potter was behind them after they saw him lose his temper at a dueling club and set a snake on another boy. It was all hushed up, though. But he's made friends with werewolves and giants too. We think he'd do anything for a bit of power."

Young Malfoy's statement was very much proven since as earlier indicated, the boy in question was in the company of a werewolf at the time of the incident and I can personally attest the relationship appeared to be one of friendship. As for the Parseltongue, the ability to converse with snakes, has long been considered a Dark Art. Indeed, the most famous Parselmouth of our times is none other than You-Know-Who himself. A member of the Dark Force Defense League, who wished to remain unnamed, stated that he would regard any wizard who could speak Parseltongue "as worthy of investigation. Personally, I would be highly suspicious of anybody who could converse with snakes, as serpents are often used in the worst kinds of Dark Magic, and are historically associated with evildoers." Similarly, "anyone who seeks out the company of such vicious creatures as werewolves and giants would appear to have a fondness for violence."

Albus Dumbledore should surely consider whether a boy such as this should be allowed to compete in the Triwizard Tournament. Some fear that Potter might resort to the Dark Arts in his desperation to win the tournament, the third task of which takes place next month.

"Gone off me a bit, hasn't she?" said Harry lightly, folding up the paper.

Over at the Slytherin table, Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle were laughing at him, tapping their heads with their fingers, pulling grotesquely mad faces, and waggling their tongues like snakes.

It was later when they were in the Chamber of Secrets that Hermione vented her frustration at Rita Skeeter, but now Fleur and Gabrielle's ire at the reporter had risen to match their bond sister.

"Why did it have to happen in front of her?" Hermione cried out in frustration. "She just had to be in that spot at that time."

"She wasn't," Remus replied. "After how she attacked me last year after it was revealed I was a werewolf, I go to extremes to avoid her. When Harry first collapsed I looked around for help and she was nowhere around. Of that I am very certain. In fact no one really stopped, well outside of that stupid bug that kept buzzing around us. Every time I tried to swat it away, it'd just return."

Hermione stopped pacing abruptly. She stood frozen for several seconds and then a dreamy expression came over her face. She raised her hand and ran it through her hair.

"Hermione? Are you okay?"

"I think I am more than okay," She turned to Remus. "What type of bug was it? The one that was around you at the time, possibly a beetle?"

"Yes," Lupin replied in puzzlement. "I think so. Why?"

"Because I think I know how Skeeter is getting her stories," Hermione replied. "We just need to do some bug hunting."

"Bug hunting?" Harry asked.

"Beetle hunting to be exact," Hermione replied. "I think Rita Skeeter is an unregistered animagus. Remember when she overheard Krum talking to me? He pulled a beetle from my hair. It was February; beetles are either dormant or dead during the winter months. So how could a beetle have been in my hair then? It had to have been her. That's how she is getting her stories."

Not for the first time, Harry really wished he had the Marauder's map. It would make finding Skeeter much easier.

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