Hardly any light spilled down from the Great Hall’s replicated night sky. Though stars winked and yawned, the moon had decided to play hide and seek. It was nowhere to be found. The persistent howling, it seemed, had not been a result of the moon. It was not the work of a werewolf trapped in his animal form, but it was something. The sound of it, at least, was as clear as distilled water. Perhaps it was another creature from the Forbidden Forest. But… No, it couldn’t be… The deep round wailing seemed far too nearby. It couldn’t have been the forest. And to make matters worse, since no one else had been wakened by the howling, it seemed as if Laurie was the only one who could hear it. Laurie was certain that auditory hallucinations often accompanied clinical insanity—even in the Wizarding World. She wasn’t going to get any more sleep tonight, Laurie knew. She might as well satisfy her own curiosity, then. She yanked her blanket off, and crept out of bed, careful not to nudge the pudgy girl next to her. Laurie didn’t get far.
“Is there a problem?” a tall man in an Auror’s cloak asked, stepping before Laurie. She groaned and looked up.
The man stood casually, with his hands in his pockets. His hair stuck out at odd angles, deliberately disobeying the laws made up by hairdressers (though, admittedly, the 21st century had brought about more tolerance for messy hair). Round spectacles rested on his straight nose, unconsciously highlighting bright green eyes that shone with amusement.
“Er,” Laurie said, thinking up an excuse whilst staring at the famous Harry Potter, “I need to use the loo.”
Harry Potter frowned, sensing the lie. “Are you sure that’s all it is?”
Laurie shook her head. “You wouldn’t believe me even if I told you.”
“I would,” he said, making Laurie frown. Harry Potter knelt down and looked Laurie straight in the eye, unfazed by their odd colour. “What’s your name?”
“Laurie Grey,” Laurie said with much more confidence than she’d thought she had in her.
“Harry Potter,” he said, extending a hand for Laurie to shake. “Look, Laurie, strange things happen at Hogwarts in my day—if there’s anyone who will believe you, it’s me.”
Laurie narrowed her eyes skeptically. She had only ever heard stories about Harry Potter. She never expected him to be so… normal. As for whether or not he would think her insane… Well, what had she to lose?
“Someone’s howling,” Laurie said, pressing her lips tightly together. “Can you hear it?”
Creases formed between Harry Potter’s brows. He gave her a curt nod. “What kind of howling is it?”
“Deep, like a wolf, or a husky in pain,” she said. “Do you believe me? Can’t you hear it?”
“No, I can’t hear it. But I believe you,” he said, turning his head to the window then back to me. “Do you know where the howl is coming from? Can you follow it?”
Laurie gave a firm nod. The Auror had his eyes fixed on a single star, as if it could cause him to hear what he could not.
Harry knew, perhaps, how utterly reckless he was being, but this was Hogwarts, and he was known to do very reckless things in Hogwarts.
“All right,” he said, finally. “Lead me to it.”
Laurie grinned. She was so used to grown ups dismissing her—why was it that the Wizarding World seemed to have produce a better batch of adults than the one she’d been used to back in the Muggle World?
“Wands out,” Harry said, smirking at some sudden flash of an old memory. Seven years, it seems, was not long enough a time to grieve all the love that he’d had—all the ones that he’d lost.
Laurie, oblivious to his flashbacks, pulled her wand from her sock. She’d drilled the habit in after Grandpa Darius chastised her for stuffing it in her back pocket.
The pair strode out the Great Hall, past the Aurors guarding the doors, and climbed the stairs to the second landing. Laurie could hear the howling getting more and more desperate, like a trapped soul pleading to be released. Harry heard nothing, but Laurie’s anxious gaze was enough for worry to well up within him.
Laurie led the Auror higher and higher up the castle. Harry felt memory after memory slip into him, coaxing him back to darker times—the girl’s bathroom on the second floor, the Room of Requirement, the prefect’s bathroom. Though the sting of death was familiar by now, it did not get easier. By the time Laurie had stopped, his eyes were glassy and unfocused.
Laurie had never been to this part of the castle—how could she have, after all, when she’d only been in Hogwarts a couple of days—but Harry had. And, as far as he knew, there was nothing in this corridor—absolutely nothing. No classrooms, no secret passages, no portraits, not a single thing existed here besides the golden tapestries that hung from the ceilings.
But Laurie was sure. The howling was just beyond the stone wall, and it was getting more and more desperate.
“It’s here. It has to be,” Laurie muttered, pressing her hands against the tapestry, feeling the stone wall under the thick fabric. The howling receded to a soft whimper, but Laurie could do nothing to help.
Harry Potter didn’t seem angry. In fact, he seemed more detached during the entire walk back to the Great Hall. Laurie was simply frustrated. How could she hear something—or someone—who didn’t exist? By the morning, she had decided to tell the Rogues; and by the time the Aurors had left Hogwarts, the Rogues had decided the howling had nothing to do with Grethel Sparrow’s disappearance.
“I don’t understand how they could just leave,” Sebastian muttered as Edmund gathered the first fruits of winter’s snow in his hands. “They haven’t even found Sparrow yet.”
“It’s been months,” Gabriel shook his head. “They’ve given up.”
“They had to give up,” Edmund said, tossing a snowball in his gloved hands. “Nothing fits. It was as if she’d simply disappeared… Or left voluntarily…”
“And McGonagall wasn’t going to let them hang about forever, now, was she?” Laurie said before aiming a well packed snowball at Edmund. It slammed into his chest with a resounding snap.
Edmund smirked. “You’ll pay for that, Grey,” he said before hurling a Quaffle sized snowball at her. Laurie had successfully evaded it, but Gabriel had whipped his wand out, and had charmed it to do his bidding right before it hit the ground. In a moment, Laurie was covered in snow, and the Rogues had forgotten all about the Sparrows. A two on two snowball war seemed fair—but when it was Gabriel and Edmund against Laurie and Sebastian, Gabriel and Edmund had the obvious advantage of skewed perceptions on snowball war justice. Trenches were dug, and snow barricades were built. Professor Longbottom was the first civilian casualty—Sebastian’s snowball hit his back whilst making his way back to the castle from the greenhouse. Fortunately, Professor Longbottom was young and enigmatic. He’d somehow managed a hostile takeover of Gabriel and Edmund’s barricade, and had began a four on one snowball war. He also had the advantage of advanced magic, and had enchanted snowballs of all sizes to propel themselves at the Rogues. The afternoon ended with the quartet trooping back to the castle completely soaked, noses red from the cold, and Professor Longbottom grinning ridiculously behind them.
Grethel Sparrow was, for a moment in time, forgotten.
Like I said, I broke a single chapter into multiple shorter ones, so here is the next chapter–much earlier than anyone would have expected me to post it.
It's quite an important chapter, but I can't reveal why at the moment.
Do vote or comment or message me about the story–it means so much to me when you do so.
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When Catrina and Laurie move into old Grandfather’s house, the sisters expects it to be their dullest summer ever. But when unnatural things start to occur after a particularly heated row between them, Grandpa Darius reveals a secret that could tea...