Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Out of My Hands
In the early hours of the morning filled with family drama and grand reveals, nothing got done. When Snape had reminded everyone of Pucey naming You-Know-Who as our attacker, and his father attributing the past attacks to Quirrell, everyone except Sirius and Harry were reminded of the alarming issue at hand. Time had to be spent to bring the head of the noble house of Black up to date. And then more time was used to allow Sirius to calm down after he interpreted what all that meant for his Godson. During this processing, Mum insisted many times that Harry be sent back to his dormitory and that they, the adults, have this conversation elsewhere. However, the other adults in the room were too focused on the matter at hand to really hear her.
"How do you know it was You-Know-Who?" Sirius had asked Adrian once he had been told the whole story.
In a true Potter fashion, Harry broke in before Adrian could answer. "I think it was Voldemort too". Everyone except for Dumbledore gasped at the forbidden name, and Harry looked around at all of us like we were being silly. But he continued to say "This has something to do with the stone, doesn't it?" After that, there was no chance of sending the first-year from the room. Only six people in the hospital wing were not confused at the mention of a stone.
"Stone? What stone?" Sirius had asked.
"The Philosopher Stone", Harry had answered honestly. "I was with Hagrid when he got it from Gringotts. They're guarding it here, at the school". And that went over just as well as one would expect. Dumbledore and the head of houses wanted to know how Harry knew about the stone. While our parents seemed to have been questioning the logic behind guarding a powerful magical object in a place full of school children. Sirius did not seem to know what he should have thought. Though I suppose, he is a new parent.
Back and forth, back and forth the adults argued. Occasionally, they paused and asked Harry to explain everything he knew. When it was 4:30 in the morning, and the only thing everyone agreed on was that the stone would have to be moved. At some point, Harry, Fred, and George had found their way to spare hospital beds and had drifted off. Despite the bickering, indecisive adults. At 4;30 in the morning, everyone was so done with all the current events, that Dumbledore offered guest suites to Mum and Dad, Pucey's parents, and Sirius with a promise to reconvene after we all had some rest. After all of the adults had left and the lights had been dimmed, Adrian and I had shared a look. "So" I had started to say slowly. "A lot of people know about Regulus Black now, huh?"
Adrian had Sighed. "I have no idea how that happened. Everything just came out". But I don't think he was quite ready to dwell on his slip of the tongue, because he had turned towards me and asked, "Is your middle name really Agatha?" Seems that we had indirectly learned a lot about each other that early morning.
I didn't get a whole lot of sleep. Maybe three or four hours tops. I woke to incessant chatter, sunlight shimmering through the tall glass windows of the hospital room, and the sound of someone awkwardly clearing his throat. Begrudgingly, I opened my eyes. A few things were different than the last time that I closed them. Harry, Fred, and George were no longer in the room. At some point, someone, most likely a house-elf, had delivered breakfast judging by the trays resting on Adrian's and My nightstands. And standing at the foot of my bed was a ruffled Percy holding the hand of an energetic Ginny. Once Percy saw I was awake, he said "Holly".
Slightly groggy, I answered "Perce". Both of us were ignoring Ginny who seemed to be looking around the hospital wing in wonder and sprouting out whatever came to mind. She was still dressed in her nightclothes, and her hair hadn't been combed. Percy was dressed in his school robes, and his prefect's badge gleamed where it was pinned on his chest. But he wasn't looking much better. His face drooped with tiredness and he was looking older than his years.
"Are you well?" He asked me; sounding like he was just proscribing to niceties instead of genuine concern. He must have had a long night.
"I'm feeling better". I answered honestly and concisely as I sat upright. With Percy looking like this, any other type of response probably would have been lost to him.
"I'm glad to hear it". Percy said before he used his head to gesture to our baby sister. "Ginny's been asking questions since she woke up at 5:45 in the morning". If he sounded put out at that last part, I ignored it. "I don't know where Mum and Dad are. I have class and… I need a break". I bit my lip to stay visibly unamused. Percy never likes it when people laugh at his expense. But, oh boy does he sound desperate. "Can Ginny stay with you?" And then Percy gave me his version of puppy dog eyes. It was more painful to look at than adorable. His glasses weren't helping him achieve the look either.
I nodded my head repeatedly to give myself time before I could give a composed verbal response. "Yes". I spoke slowly. "She can".
"Great", Percy smiled as he released Ginny's hand. He ran a hand through his hair in a great flurry of relief. "Ginny," he said to our youngest sibling who had fallen silent because she had taken to staring at a sleeping Adrian. But she managed to look away at the sound of her name. "You're going to stay with Holly." Ginny's eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning and a broad grin took over her face. Suddenly I was regretting agreeing so quickly. Percy seemed to be having similar thoughts as I was, because he added on, "Remember that Holly's resting". And then to me. "If Mum and Dad don't come to get her, I'll return to take her to lunch". Percy would have run out of the hospital wing if running inside the castle wasn't against school rules.
But I couldn't let him go quite yet. "Percy", I called before he could finish his hurried exit. Ginny had come around from the foot of the bed and sat on the edge of the bed on my left. Percy is too well-mannered to ignore me, so he looked back when he reached the doors. "Do you know where Fred and George are? They were here when I went to sleep". Their absence was kind of bugging me. Unless it was prank related, we always had a sense of where each other were.
Percy nodded once. "We saw them at breakfast. They said Madam Pomfrey kicked them and Potter out this morning. So, I am assuming they will be going to class. They also said that Madam Pomfrey said you and Pucey were not to leave the hospital wing anytime soon".
I nodded once. I guess that makes sense. "Thanks, Percy". I said, getting ready to entertain Ginny and her many questions for a while. Maybe I could distract her a bit with random facts about the castle.
However, Percy didn't immediately leave. With a purse of his lips, he looked over at the bed Adrian was occupying. "Holly", he said before pausing.
"Percy", I prompted. It's a good thing we're siblings. If we weren't on a first-name basis I'm not sure how we could communicate with one another.
"I thought we agreed. No boys".
And now Ginny was looking at Adrian and me with more interest. Bloody hell. "Goodbye Percy", I said with my left eye twitching.
"I don't remember Dad picking me up last night". Ginny said as she regaled me with the event from early this morning, from her point of view. "But when I woke up, I was at Hogwarts". She said the school's name with such reverence as if it were Disneyland. She won't be saying that next year when she sits for final exams for the first time… Actually, scratch that. There's a chance that exams will be canceled next year in light of the events in the chamber of secrets. Even though that might end up changing. "It was weird not knowing where I was. And it was weird that I was with Percy". I nodded when it was appropriate to assure Ginny that I was listening to every word. But my eyes were on Adrian. He had started to twitch when Ginny bombarded me with everything that came to her mind. Now that she was going through events in sequence, he was still twitching. I was trying to decide if he was waking up, or if he was feigning sleep so he didn't have to deal with a ten-year-old girl. "But I got to see the Gryffindor common room and Percy's dorm room. Did you know he has all of his textbooks alphabetized in his trunk when he's not using them?" I did not know that, but I also didn't need to know that. "I think I am going to enjoy living in Gryffindor Tower. That is if I get in. Holly, do you think I will be sorted into Gryffindor?"
I looked away from Adrian, to make eye contact with Ginny. She was, metaphorically, on the edge of her seat as she waited for my response. As if whatever answer I was going to give her was fate. It makes me uncomfortable that my opinion matters so much to her. "If you want to be in Gryffindor you will be". I promised her. I think that's accurate at any rate. That had been a whole thing in the books. Harry got sorted into Gryffindor because he chose to not be in Slytherin.
Ginny preened under the assurance and giggled. "When I come here next year, can we share a bedroom like we do at home?"
My initial response was, 'Merlin, no'. But luckily, I reframed from saying that; partially do to suspicious shake of Adrian's shoulders. He's awake, I just know it. "You won't want too", I said diplomatically. "You'll want to share with the girls in your year and make friends". I thought my answer was good, but when Ginny opened her mouth, I had second thoughts. Quickly, I spoke again to change this train of thought. I love my sister, but I also don't want her underfoot. "What were you and Percy doing when you were in the tower?"
And Ginny was off. Again. "I got to meet Ron's friends; Hermione and Neville, and they told Percy and me about what happened in the Forbidden Forest. It's so exciting to hear about all the adventures you've had here". She exclaimed without connecting the dots that said adventures landed me in the hospital wing. Oh, to be ten-years-old. "Oh!" Ginny suddenly gasped as she leaned closer to me. "I got to meet Harry Potter!" Dear Merlin, spare me. "It's so wicked that he's best friends with Ron. And he's cute". The fake sleeping lump that is Adrian Pucey abruptly coughed, and I was half tempted to throw my pillow at him to force him to end his faux sleep. At least then, he could take part in this conversation too and I wouldn't have to endure this alone. "He told us the whole story over breakfast. About how you fainted in the forbidden forest". I shook my head but bit my lip. I did not faint. But I also do not know how much Mum and Dad had told her about what has been going on this school year. There's a good chance that she may not know the difference between fainting and have a seizure. "and how he tried to help you before that centaur arrived. Harry's so brave", Ginny gushed, dreamy-eyed. Honestly, all my brothers, except maybe Ron, are worried about me having a romantic interest. But this is the sister they should be concerned about. "What was it like?" Ginny asked. "What was it like being rescued by Harry Potter?" My little sister is asking me what it felt like to be saved by someone two years my junior… and I'm not sure what version of events Ginny was told, but she twisted something around because I was not rescued by Harry Potter. If anything, the real hero of last night was the centaur that I have no recollection of.
"You know, I don't actually know". I settled for saying. "I mean, I had fainted after all. But you should ask him". I nodded over to Adrian's direction; feeling some joy when I saw his form flinch under his blankets. "If I was rescued by Harry, then he was too. He might know more about it than I do". Ginny looked wistfully from me to Adrian and then back at me. Was her curiosity enough for her to bug a stranger? "Go on", I encouraged. "You can wake him up".
Ginny looked over at Adrian again, who was trying his hardest to appear dead asleep. But he wasn't fooling me. When Ginny looked back over to me, her eyes were no longer gleaming with the excitement of her first crush. Instead, she had adopted an expression of shy inquisitiveness. What caused that change, I asked myself? "Holly, is what Percy said true? Is he really your boyfriend?" Bollocks. That backfired.
I let my eyes wander over to Adrian's form. He hadn't moved. But I knew he was listening to every word. I could feel my face heat up, and quickly fixed my line of vision back to my sister, who was waiting for my answer with fidgeting patience. "Hey, did you hear about how Harry made the Gryffindor quidditch team as a first-year?" I asked; anything to change her to a different topic.
The lump started to laugh. And he didn't try to disguise it as coughing this time. Sitting, up Adrian turned towards Ginny and me, but he only had eyes for me. The git. "Don't change the subject". Adrian interjected. "I want to hear your answer to that question."
A moment passed of just Adrian and I staring at each other. Leaving the ten-year-old to interpret what she could from our body language. Adrian was smirking as his grey eyes connected with mine. For someone who had his greatest secret spilled a handful of hours ago, he is looking mightily unconcerned. Meanwhile, I was trying to think of a rock that I could crawl under and die. "Of course, we're not a couple". I said. My voice shook, but I was trying to not draw attention to that fact. "We haven't even gone on a date". That felt like sound logic to me.
"We went to Hogsmeade together". Adrian rebuttals, sounding smug. Was he trying to back me into a corner?
"Oooh!" Ginny piped up as she leaned into me. "You've been to Hogsmeade! What was that like? Was it romantic? Did you hold hands?" Unbelievable.
Ginny was only looking at me, but Adrian decided that he should be the one to answer. "We didn't hold hands. But I loaned her my scarf". Adrian said the word scarf in a very solicitous manner. His tone of voice went over Ginny's head, but it had me burning red. I looked at the Slytherin with the intent of expressing my displeasure through my eyes. But that was a mistake. Despite the last night's ordeal and the little amount of sleep we had received, Adrian was glowing. His grey eyes were bright and focused on me. The smirk on his face spoke of pure amusement, and his lips looked oh so inviting. Hurriedly I looked away. Damn it!
Ginny leaned in closer so that she could whisper to me. But the brat whispered loud enough that Adrian would be able to hear too. "I think Percy is right. You two are dating". She was practically squealing. Bloody hell. My little sister and my… my…. My special friend were teaming up on me.
Our parents made a reappearance around lunchtime. After, Percy had already come to collect Ginny. Luckily, enough. I am not sure I could stomach Ginny blurting out my relationship with Pucey to Mum and Dad. They were calmer than they were earlier this morning. They probably got a few more hours of sleep that Adrian and I had. "We've worked it all out". Mr. Pucey declared as he nodded in satisfaction at his son. "The stone will have to be moved, but I have guaranteed Dumbledore that our family business is the best way to protect it moving forward". He sounded so pleased with himself. Mrs. Pucey rolled her eyes as she sat next to Adrian's bedside. A family-style lunch had been delivered a few minutes after our parents had arrived, and she was currently placing more salad on Adrian's plate. My mum was of similar mind, as she was currently trying to get me to eat more soup.
Out of curiosity, I asked. "What do you do, Mr. Pucey?"
Mr. Pucey looked at me and smirked. It was identical to his son's smirk. "Nothing important, my dear. I am a locksmith". His answer felt anti-climactic. I didn't think the wizarding world even had a need for locksmiths.
"Marcellus", Mrs. Pucey complained at the same time that Adrian snorted.
"Father's being modest". Adrian explained further. "We own a security firm. Father makes locks that can't be opened by common spells or brute magical force". Adrian sounded proud. Well, at least that explained who Adrian managed to lock us in the trophy room.
From his spot next to Mum, Dad added, "The Ministry has an account with the Puceys. Generally for the department of mysteries, but some colleagues and I have been trying to get funding approved to commission some locks to keep the misused muggle artifacts from being tampered with while they are in evidence". I feel like all of that is information I should seal away for the future. Especially that bit about the department of mysteries.
"So you're going to protect the stone?" I asked.
"Yes", Mr. Pucey agreed. He seemed excited by the prospect. "Our stock is sure to go up once it is learned we have a new contract with Hogwarts".
"But that doesn't solve the concerns we have about Adrian's safety". Mrs. Pucey reminded her husband with a certain edge in her voice.
Mum shook her head. "I don't understand how they can still allow that man to be loose in the castle with all the children".
"Quirrell?" I asked for confirmation.
Mum nodded, bristling slightly. But it was Dad who spoke next. "Remember that it is still speculation at this point. They can't just accuse a man of being You-Know-Who". Mum huffed in disagreement but didn't voice it. I suppose that would be a hard argument to win.
Deciding that his mum would be the one to make the final decision, Adrian looked squarely at her. "Please don't pull me from school," he said. I had never heard him sounding so young before.
Mrs. Pucey placed a manicured hand on his shoulder but remained firm. "If this doesn't get sorted soon, you are coming home with us. You can take your finals via owl, and we'll see how things play out during the summer before making a decision about next year". Adrian sighed but didn't argue. I think his mum might be similar to my mum in that aspect.
"Quite right" Mr. Pucey agreed.
Mrs. Pucey glanced over at my parents. Her voice was well-intended but unwavering. "I suggest that you do the same". Following her line of sight, I looked at my parents as well. It never occurred to me that they could take my siblings and me out of school.
Now, my parents are staunch Gryffindors. They believed in autonomy and did not appreciate people telling them what to do. Except when it was Mum telling Dad what to do. So, I expected them to say something along the lines as; 'we trust Dumbledore', or 'Our children are safe at Hogwarts'. Instead, looking only at me, Mum said: "We're considering it".
I don't know if I should call it fortunate or unfortunate, but it never came to that. As we were wrapping up lunch, McGonagall's voice started to echo throughout the hospital wing. I can only assume it was echoing throughout the entire school. "Attention Students. Afternoon classes and all extracurriculars have been canceled. Students are to return to their common rooms at once". It was reminiscent of the last time we had a school-wide announcement; when Pettigrew was exposed. "Prefects are to take attendance and follow all lockdown procedures. All staff members are to report to the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side at once". The muscles in my stomach tensed. The third-floor corridor on the right-hand side! Absolute nightmare. "To our students and guests in the hospital wing, stay where you are. Someone will be around shortly". I think it's official. I no longer have control over anything.