I Once Was Blind But Now I See:Part 1
Another attack. With each next day the Death Eaters were becoming more and more bold.
That was what Harry read in Daily Prophet. And he knew it to be true. He feared what would come next. Right now everything was possible.
Voldemort and the Death Eaters were a real danger. Not only to the Wizarding World, but also to the Muggles.
That meant no one was safe.
-I like your newspaper.
At the sound of someone's voice Harry looked up.
It was the waitress who worked at the cafe he was currently sitting in, at the train station.
-Yeah. The pictures are moving-she pointed to the paper-I saw it once.
He was fairly sure that they weren't talking about the same paper. The girl was just trying to find a reason to talk to him.
Harry just nodded. He wasn't sure what else he could do or say, besides he really wasn't in a mood for company.
The girl seemed nice, but...
-I better go back to work-she finally said. She was disappointed.
With a deep sigh the girl turned around and went to take order from a new customer.
Harry thought it wasn't right. He should tell her something. He should explain.
He got up and was already making his way towards her, when he saw something with the corner of his eye.
No. Was it really...?
What was he doing here ?
No, that thing was obvious. He was here to see Harry. Somehow Dumbledore always knew where he would be.
Better question was:Why he wanted to see Harry.
That was the only thought on Harry's mind when he finally stood next to his Headmaster.
-This train station is exceptionally dingy-the wizard said.
-I have always liked watching trains. It makes me calm.
It really did.
But the train also meant trip, adventure, escape. You could just get into one an go somewhere. Anywhere. For as long as you wanted.
Harry looked over at Dumbledore. His arms were folded, and only because of that Harry noticed that there was something wrong with the man's right hand.
Something terribly wrong.
It was black, as if Dumbledore kept it in fire for too long. Harry literally expected it to just turn into ash with the smallest gust of wind.
The older wizard must have sensed that Harry was staring.
-It doesn't look good, does it ?-he said with a chuckle-It is a curious story, really. But for another time.
Another time ? Harry wanted to hear all of it now. He was intrigued. Did Dumbledore do this to him by accident, or was it someone else ? How ? When ?
-Hold onto my arm.
Harry shook his head.
If he ate something at that cafe he would have thrown up. With all the somersaults that his stomach did, he was sure of it.
-It was Apparition, wasn't it ?
-Oh, yes-Dumbledore said, looking at him with a smile-You did really good. Most people throw up during their first time.
-I'm not surprised.
Harry closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. Fresh air managed to calm his stomach.
When he opened his eyes and looked around he noticed that Dumbledore was already on his way somewhere, without doubt expecting Harry to follow him, so he quickly run up to him.
-Where are we ?
-In a nice village Budleigh Babberton. You're probably wondering what we are doing here.
-After all these years at school, nothing will surprise me.
After a short walk they stopped in front of one of the houses. It looked very much like the others and only when Harry looked closer he noticed what was wrong.
Someone or something broke down the front door.
-Take out your wand.
Dumbledore didn't need to tell him that twice. Harry's hand was already on his wand.
They walked inside. It was completely dark, the only light came from their wands.
The whole place was ruined. Furniture was broken, walls had holes, the chandelier was on the floor, in pieces.
What could have happened here ?
-Horace ?-the wizard whispered.
So, Dumbledore knew the person who lived here, whoever that was. Harry wondered if said someone was still here and more importantly, whether he was alright.
Harry followed his Headmaster slowly, looking around. What for, he didn't know. And that was the problem. He didn't know what could happen.
The broken glass creaked under his shoes, making him look down.
He spotted remains of some paper. He thought it could have been the Daily Prophet. Suddenly a red drop appeared on it. Then another, and another.
It certainly wasn't rain.
Harry looked up and and pointed his wand to the ceiling to get a better look.
One of the drops fell exactly in the middle of his forehead. When he tried to remove it Dumbledore caught his wrist stopping him.
Harry looked at him confused. The old wizard wiped it off and took a look.
A sound came from behind them, something like a spring in an old sofa or armchair.
And indeed it was an armchair.
To Harry there was nothing interesting in it, but Dumbledore clearly thought otherwise.
The way he approached the piece of furniture was a little amusing, as if he expected it to jump at him any minute.
And jump he did. The second Dumbledore's wand touch it.
Earlier Harry said that there was nothing that could surprise him. Well, it turned out he was wrong. Of all the things that he could expect to happen tonight it for sure wasn't that.
There was no armchair. In its place stood a man. Harry never met a wizard who was able to turn into a furniture, he didn't even know it was possible. Animals, yes. But this ?
-Merlin's beard, that hurt !
-I must say you were a very convincing armchair, Horace.
So this is Horace.
He looked rather pleased after Dumbledore's comment. But then he frowned in confusion.
-So, what betrayed me ?
-Dragon's blood-the Headmaster replied.
Oh, so that's what it was.
-Harry, I want you to meet my old friend, Horace Slughorn. Horace, for sure you know who he is.
Harry nodded with a weak smile.
-Are you expecting someone, Horace ?
-The Death Eaters have tried to recruit me for a year, do you know what it's like ?-he went to look out the window- I never stay in one place for more than a week. The owners of this house are on the Canary Islands.
-Don't you think we should clean before they come back ?
One motion of Dumbledore's wand was all it took. Everything came back to its shape and place.
The broken glass and furniture, the chandelier, the paint and plaster that fell of the walls and ceiling.
No holes, no dust.
Harry looked around with a smile. He was sure that magic will always be able to amaze him.
Dumbledore turned to Horace.
-And done. Could I use the bathroom ?
-Yes, of course. And I know exactly why you are here. The answer is still NO.
When the Headmaster walked past Harry he noticed a smirk on the old man's face. That meant that he wasn't going to give up, and that he knew very well that he would get what he wanted. Horace just didn't know it yet.
Harry looked back at Slughorn, who was now watching him carefully.
-You look just like your father. Except for the eyes.
-My mother's eyes, yes.
Horace nodded with a small smile.
-Lily. Sweet Lily-for a moment Harry thought that he saw something nostalgic in the man's eyes-She was so smart. It is interesting, when you consider the fact that she was Muggle-born.
-My friend is Muggle-born. She is the best in our year.
It happened again. During the whole summer whenever he thought about her, he would feel this incredible warmth in his whole body. He felt so calm, and yet intrigued. He couldn't wait to see her.
Maybe it was because of all the letters they wrote to each other in the past two months. She ended each one with Love, Hermione. She did it before, but this time it was so different, it felt different.
-Don't think that I have something against it-Horace said quickly-No, no. Lily was my favourite student. Look.
Harry shook his head to clear his thoughts. He will have time to think about it later.
He followed Slughorn to a big cabinet in the corner of the room. There was a lot of framed pitures on it, and all were moving. For sure it didn't belong to the owners of this house.
-My children-Horace said proudly-I mean my students. I have taught all of them-he pointed to one of the photos- Barnabas Cuffe, he is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Prophet. He still wants to know my opinion about current affairs. That is Gwenog Jones. She is the captain of Holyhead Harpies, I have free tickets for every game.
But Harry wasn't listening.
All his attention was on the picture in front of him. A Slytherin Quidditch team and next to it Slughorn.
The man who was sitting in front of everyone else, probably the captain, looked familiar. Long, brown hair, those eyes, handsome face. Could it be...?
Horace must have realized what Harry is looking at.
-Oh, yes, Regulus Black.
-Without a doubt you knew his brother, Sirius. He died a few weeks ago.
Harry felt how his hand, the one that held the picture, started trembling. He blinked a few times to block the tears.
Sirius. He thought about him every day since his death. How he could have stopped it, he could have helped.
He was naive enough to think that everything would finally change. That he would have a family, a real home. But everything ended before it even had a chance to start.
-I taught everyone from their family, except for Sirius-Slughorn gave a big sigh-Such a pity.
Dumbledore walked in.
Harry nodded quickly and moved to stand next to his Headmaster.
-You're leaving ?-Horace asked.
He sounded...disappointed ?
-I know when it is better to withdraw. It would have been a great honor if you agreed to come back to Hogwarts, but...You and Harry have a lot in common. Both unpredictable and full of surprises.
Back to Hogwarts ? To be a teacher ? No, there must be more.
-Well, goodbye Horace.
Harry nodded in farewell and without a second glance followed the wizard.
They barely closed the door when Slughorn caught up with them.
Dumbledore didn't look surprised at all. Of course. He knew.
-Fine ! But I want higher salary and better office. Not like last time ! We live in difficult times.
And just like that he went back inside.
For a minute they walked in silence.
-Honestly, why did you need me here ?
Yes, why. Harry didn't do anything special. In fact he did nothing.
-You're famous. You have great power. Slughorn values these features. He will want you in his collection. You would be his crown jewel.
Collection ? Oh, yes. The cabinet with all those pictures. So that is why he kept all of them. Although, Harry wasn't sure if he wanted to end up there.
-It is very important, Harry. Very.
They stopped at the end of the street.
-I hope I didn't ruin your plans for the evening.
Harry frowned. Plans ? He meant the girl from that cafe ?
Well, by the look on the old wizard face, yes, he did.
Harry started to wonder how long Dumbledore was actually standing there. Watching him.
-No. I didn't have any plans.
-Alright. Let's go. Everything is waiting for you-once again he offered Harry his arm.
What ? Waiting ? Where ?
The confusion on his face must have been very obvious.
-You will see.
He should have expected that.
On the other hand he learnt the disadvantage of Apparition. Because the Burrow could mean the house or the grounds around it, like the swamp. Unfortunately, in his case it was the second option, and that is why he was currently standing ankle-deep in a very big puddle.
-Great...-Harry muttered under his breath.
You have to be very focused and precise while you're thinking about the place you want to go.
And Dumbledore clearly wasn't either of those things, or he decided it would be funny.
Luckily Harry remembered the spell for drying and he used as soon as he stood on the solid ground.
He was planning on visiting Ron and his family, he even had it in mind to write to him tonight. Well, right now he didn't have to. He would surprise them all.
When he was walking towards the Weasley's house he looked up and spotted someone sitting by the window.
Hermione. So she was here, too. He hoped she would.
Harry was smiling so widely he was surprised that his face didn't break yet.
He could see her clearly but she wasn't looking outside. She was talking to someone, either Ron or Ginny. Whoever it was must have said something very funny because Hermione threw her head back laughing.
He didn't know what cause that reaction but he laughed too. He couldn't help it. He loved her smile. It was so carefree.
If someone saw him right now they would think he's insane. He was just standing there, watching her. And in his mind appeared the same question that have been with him during sumer:What is happening to me ?
While he was at the door for a moment he wanted to knock, but no. He would just go in. That would be even better.
The Burrow was like home. It was always so comfortable, warm and full of love. He wanted for his future home to be like this.
He moved through the kitchen to the living room where he found all of his belongings. His bags, trunk, Hedwig who gave a happy hoot when she saw him.
-Mrs. Weasley ?
Harry's heart sped up.
-Yes, dear ?
It sounded like they were both in the hall.
-When did Harry arrive ?
She knew ?
Harry smiled. Of course she did. It's Hermione.
She must have been in the room seconds before him and saw his things.
-Harry who ?
Hermione rolled her eyes. He didn't see her but was sure of it.
-What ? No. I would have known if he was here.
He heard some very loud steps. Very excited steps. Was it...?
-Harry ? Is Harry here ?
Yes ! Ron.
-Stop it. Is he with you ?
-Of course not. Don't you think I would have realized if my best friend was in my room, Hermione.
-Very funny, Ron. But I just saw his owl in the living room.
Harry knew he wouldn't be able to stop himself from laughing anymore. It was time to put them out of their misery.
A second of silence and then:
-He's here !
As he hoped the first person to appear in the room was Hermione.
Before he could as much as blink she threw her arms around him, giving him one of her famous hugs. He wraped his arms around her waist to hug her closer.
Merlin, he missed her. It was so good to have her in his embrace.
-It's so good to see you...-she whispered in his ear sending a shiver through his whole body.
-It's good to see you, too.
She moved away a little to look at him.
God, they were so close to each other now. There was something new in the way she was looking at him, or maybe he just didn't see it before.
Were her eyes always so beautiful, so deep ?
And her lips...God, it would have been so easy to just lean in...
-Hi, mate !
They jumped apart. To be honest Harry completely forgot that they weren't alone.
-Ron, hi-he returned his friend's hug.
Ginny welcomed him with a hug, too. He was glad that she wasn't so shy around him anymore. It certainly felt better.
-Harry, dear !
Mrs.Weasley's hugs were always so warm, so mother-like.
-Why didn't you let us know you're coming ?
He knew she would understand. And she did because she laughed.
-Oh, what a man ! Come on, you must be hungry.
-Honestly, so am I-Ron said following his mother.
-You're always hungry. You're like a walking stomach.
He could still hear Ron and Ginny's bantering even when they were out of the room.
Only then he realized that he was alone with Hermione. She was looking at him, smiling.
She moved to stand closer to him.
-Nothing...-she raised her hand to brush some of his hair from his forehead.
Once again his lost his breath. How was she doing it ?
-I'm just happy you're here.
And at that moment he knew the answer to the question he kept asking himself in the past few weeks. He knew what was happening to him.
He was falling in love with his best friend.
Later, when he was in bed he realized that Ron's snoring finally stopped bothering him. At first it was unbearable, but it was probably due to the fact that before Ron he never shared a room with someone else.
After dinner he, Ron and Hermione stayed in the living room for a while to talk.
Everybody knew something was coming.
Hermione said even her parents felt that something was wrong. Ron surprised him when he said that Mrs.Weasley wanted for him and Ginny to stay home this year.
People were scared and he couldn't blame them. The worst thing was that they weren't sure what they were affraid of, and it was driving them mad.
Harry closed his eyes.
Whatever would come he would face it. They all would.