Chapter 2: A Visitor

       The next day started out like any other for the Malfoys. Draco took a shower, dressed in his black robes, and went downstairs to breakfast. He was not surprised to see Hermione was already at the table. "Look at this," she said, shoving him the morning's Daily Prophet. "Your little team of Aurors better get their butts in gear."

        Draco took the paper. On the front page was a large picture of a house with the Dark Mark over it, accompanied by this story:

MORE DEATHS ADD TO MYSTERY

GODRIC'S HOLLOW-- A witch and wizard were found dead last night, the third pair of deaths in two weeks. Mr. and Mrs. Amos Diggory were visiting relatives when the inn where they were staying was attacked. However, the Diggory's deaths were the only ones. No one else at the inn was hurt. As in the other strange attacks that have been happening lately, the Dark Mark was found over the inn. "Unfortunately, the murders are so random, it is impossible to trace them. The Dark Mark is our only clue," says Minister of Magic Arthur Weasley. Many are wondering if these deaths are the work of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, like the massive number of people killed by him over twenty years ago.

        "I was not made aware of this," said Draco, frowning.

        "I'm not surprised," said Hermione. "As the paper says, the murders just happened last night. I hope you and your team are working hard to find out who the killer is. I know it's not Harry, no matter what the paper says."

        "Yeah, how can a dead man kill?" Draco laughed. "It's more likely it's one of Voldemort's old followers trying to rebuild his empire. But how? They're all in Azkaban." he added, his brow furrowing.

        The rest of the day proceeded as normal. Hermione sent five stories to the presses, matched six pictures with them, and sent four stories back to their writers. Then, just after lunch, there was a knock at her door. "Come in," Hermione called, not looking up.

        It was the dark stranger she'd seen the day before. Frightened by his menacing appearance, she asked in a shaky voice, "Who are you?"

        The stranger lifted his hood. "What, after five years you don't recognize me?" Harry Potter asked.

       Hermione was stunned for a moment. It was him, it was Harry, but it couldn't be. Harry was dead. Yet, here he was, standing right in front of her. How? But, what did it matter? He wasn't dead. He was alive. Harry was alive!

        The next thing Harry knew he was being swept up in a warm embrace. Hermione was hugging him so tight he felt as if he would soon be suffocated. "Hi, Hermione," he croaked.

        "Harry! How...?"

        "I'll tell you everything if you stop trying to break me in half."

        Hermione reluctantly let go. Harry, with a grin, felt his ribs to make sure none were broken. Hermione gestured to a chair in front of her desk and he sat down. "What brings you here?" she asked, trying to keep her voice calm and casual.

        "A lot of things, actually, but mostly this." he answered, showing her The Daily Prophet. It was the morning's edition, with the murder story on the front page. "I want you to tell me everything about this. From beginning to end."

        So Hermione did. "It started about two weeks ago, as the article says. The first deaths were those of Muggles, at an old mansion in a small village, Little Hangleton. I think that was its name."

        "Did you say Little Hangleton?" Harry interrupted.

        "Yes."

        "The house in which those Muggles were found has a name. The villagers call it the Riddle House. Tom Riddle, the Muggle, and his parents once lived there."

        "Really? How do you know?" Hermione asked, amazed.

        Harry's red eyes narrowed. "How would I not know?"

        "Oh, yeah, I guess you would," Hermione said sheepishly. "Anyway, it's rather obvious that the murders are the work of a witch or wizard, because there is no evidence that the victims had been physically killed. What has the entire Ministry confused, though, there aren't the usual signs that Avada Kedavra was used. That's just part of the problem.

        "The next victims were a witch and a Muggle, the- the-" she broke off.

         "The who?" asked Harry.

        "They were- oh, Harry, they were the Finnigans!" Hermione cried out.

        Harry's eyes went wide. "No," he said softly.

        "Yes!" Hermione half-shouted. "Seamus says he has no idea how it happened. He is the one who found the bodies." she explained, calming down."He says he had just left his parents' house when he heard a scream. He ran back down the street, but when he reached his parents' house, they were already dead. The Dark Mark was over the house. Seamus is very angry. He thinks you might have something to do with his parents' deaths. You don't, do you?"

        "Of course not," Harry assured her.

        "Well, that all happened last week. Last night, the Diggorys died. I'm sure you read all that in the news. The other part of the problem, besides the strange circumstances of the murders, is that they are so random no one can figure out who did it. There appears to be no motive for anyone to kill these people. The Ministry is certain that the killer is the same person each time, since the methods are almost identical. That, and the Dark Mark was found at each murder site."

        "Yes, Arthur did say something about that in the article. I'll be going now. I have some work I want to do today. Good-bye, Hermione." said Harry, standing up.

        "Wait, Harry, do- do you want to have dinner with Draco and me?" Hermione asked. "Tonight?"

        Harry looked surprised by the question. "You mean it? Okay!" his face looked considerably brighter than it had the whole time he had been in her office, Hermione thought. He looked much more like the Harry in the picture on her desk. "Where do you live?" he asked.

        "Number four, Privet Drive, Little Winging, Surrey." came the prompt reply. "Do you need directions?"

        Harry could have laughed out loud. "No, I think I know where it is, thank you. I'll see you tonight then."

        "Right. Around six would be great. Bye, Harry."

        Harry then pulled his hood over his head and left. It was only after the door closed that Hermione realized she had spent the entire time telling him what had been happening, and he hadn't told her anything about where he had been those past five years.

Back *** The Library