The Many Faces of Harry Potter 36

“The Many Faces of Har—er, Adira Potter: Chapter 36”
By = Fayanora

Chapter Thirty-six: The Sleepwalker's Arc

Notes: Text in 'Italics and British quotes' is Parseltongue.

Once more, I apologize for the bits and pieces of canon dialogue/narration here and there. But some canon scenes are just too good to change much.

I have different styles for the internal speech of Alastair, Adira, Zoey, # Iliana (bold, italic, underlined, and between hashtags/pound signs. # , {Tier}, ~Chandra,~ % Mother AKA Avani Maznah, % and (The Sleepwalker.)

All hail Our Lady Of Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling!

*FAYANORA*

Part 1
Or “Inside, In the Down-Below, Where Thought is Seeing and Seeing is The Out.”
As told by Chandra Rahasyamay.

It began in first year, after Christmas. Well truthfully, it began many years before that, when she would sneak out of Harry's cupboard at night while he and the Dursleys were sleeping to raid the kitchen because she was better at getting more food with fewer signs that the Dursleys might pick up on, but she didn't really know who she was, and they hadn't begun transforming yet, so really, it doesn't begin until first year after Christmas.

The gift of the invisibility cloak is what had triggered it. Of course she couldn't do anything about it while Harry was visiting the Mirror of Erised every night, nor when the nightmares it gave him started popping up, but once that was over, she took control of the sleeping body and got up. With her years of superior stealth skills, she retrieved the invisibility cloak and – quieter than a mouse – she sneaked out of the dorm room in her stocking feet, taking the form of whichever Potter had gone to bed that night.

That first night, when she opened the door to Griffindor Tower, the Fat Lady sleepily complained “Someone sneaking out again, happens every year, wish they'd let me sleep...” The hidden, unknown Potter girl – the sleepwalker as you call her – thought about this as she left, making a mental note to see if maybe she could figure out the schedule of the prefects, use that to her advantage. But that first time out, she went straight to the library.

It was nerve-wracking at first. Sneaking out at the Dursley household had been one thing; the Dursleys slept like logs, not waking up until morning. (Harry only thought they were more shallow sleepers because he wasn't much good at sneaking around. Not like her.) But sneaking around when there were teachers, Mr. Filch, and his clever cat hanging around, that was another thing entirely. She started at once to compile a list of possibilities for ways to improve her skills, assuming she didn't get caught this time. The cat could be bypassed by somehow getting the scent of one of her schoolmates' cats all over her. No, she corrected herself – then Mrs. Norris would think there was an invisible cat wandering the halls, so that was no good.

She didn't have a name yet. She hadn't found one yet that suited her, and she wanted to do this right. She wasn't going to rush into it; after all, she'd been nameless for years. She could afford to be patient. Not like the others. The others were all so fast and passionate. She envied them that. She also envied their visibility. But already there were murmurs that they weren't well thought of, words like “freak” going around. She didn't want to be a part of that if she could help it, even if it meant a life spent in shadows.

Since she was padding around in stocking feet, it was a lot easier to sneak around. Remaining calm and breathing as quietly as possible were also helping. And when a prefect came around the corner, far from panicking and bustling away, she fell into step a few feet behind him, so she wouldn't run into him if he stopped suddenly.

Percy Weasley, she soon realized; the prefect she'd been following was Percy Weasley. Good, this would be easier than she'd hoped; he was so full of himself that it made him loud. Years of being around the twins had likely helped make him loud even when he was trying to be quiet, just so he could find himself in the noise. Right now, for instance, she could've been wearing tap shoes and not been heard over the din his own shoes were making on the stone floor.

She didn't know his route, but followed anyway, keeping an eye out to try to figure out where she was. It was dark, though, so this was difficult. But Percy turned out to have a very well organized patrol route, very systematic, taking him through nearly every part of the castle in a very efficient manner. She would get to the library eventually, she knew.

When he passed teachers, he would stop and talk to report. Nobody showed any sign of suspicion that he had an invisible shadow, not even Professor Snape. But this didn't surprise her; Harry and the others wore their hearts on their sleeves. She had no proof that Snape was a telepath, but if he was, her thoughts were so quiet he couldn't detect them. That was no surprise to her; if she could hide her very existence from the other people in her brain with her, going under Snape's radar was child's play by comparison.

True invisibility wasn't just nobody being able to see you, it was being invisible to their other senses as well. Invisibility is a mindset, too. One can be visible to the eye and still be invisible if your mindset is right. With an invisible mindset, people would even walk around you to avoid running into you and not consciously realize they had done so or why.

Not content to just patrol the halls, Percy opened doors on occasion, too. Classroom doors and broom cupboard doors, mostly. It soon became clear why; half an hour into her shadowing him, he'd already caught two different couples snogging. One couple, a boy and a girl. Another couple, two boys.

She was hoping he would do the same at the library, and she was not disappointed. She sneaked in while it was open, so stealthily that he plainly didn't suspect a thing.

Looking around the room carefully, looking for a certain cat, she took stock of the darkened library as well. When she found no sign of Mrs. Norris, she looked for and soon found a small window. It was dirty, which is why Percy had opened the door, but it was so dark in the library compared to the hallway that she could see shadows when a teacher or prefect passed that window.

She did some maths in her head, starting from the time it had been when she'd set out, taking into account the time that had elapsed since then, the distance covered, the speed of Percy's pace, the average time it took him to converse with teachers, what she knew of the dimensions of the castle, her guess on what route he would take, average time it took him to deal with people he caught and hand them over to a teacher, an educated guess at how many times he'd have to do that, and of course the known habits of the castle's staircases and other changeable aspects, calculating a span of about an hour during which it was most likely Percy would pass the library again.

She was fairly confident in this figure. Harry had never been particularly good at maths, he'd always been astonished that he managed to pass maths classes, even if he always had to do worse than Dudley. But she knew them well; she had done his homework for him many nights, in his own hand, making enough believable mistakes to do just poorer than Dudley. How he'd never noticed this was beyond her, though.

Carefully she worked out where she was in the library, where the different sections were. This wasn't easy; she relied heavily on the others' knowledge of the library, which wasn't great, and this wasn't like a Muggle library. It had some order to it, but that order was different from a Muggle library. The librarians here had never even heard of Dewey, much less his decimal system. But most things seemed to be arranged by subject, more or less. Ms. Pince seemed to try to arrange these subject categories in alphabetical order, in more ways than one; alchemy came before arithmancy, at least. Then, too, the subjects were arranged in alphabetical order by author.

Even having figured out the system, that wasn't enough. The library was huge, a lot of the sections weren't well defined because books are seldom about just one subject, a lot of the authors were forgotten over the centuries, and more than half of the books weren't even written in any sort of modern English, or were written in hard-to-read archaic forms of English including Middle English and Old English, so it made sense. In fact, most of the books that were readable to a modern English reader were plainly from around Shakespeare's time or earlier.

Well first thing's first, then; she looked for the section with books about languages. Though many of these fascinated her, like books on Mermish and Gobbledygook, she passed those by in favor of books about Shakespearean-era English and Middle English. Marking where they'd been on the shelf so she could re-shelve them later, she tried a spell she'd heard about before, whispering the incantation in Harry's voice.

Gemino.

Nothing happened. Either she needed more practice with the spell, or the book had a spell on it to prevent copying. Given this was a school, the second seemed likely. She made a mental note to plant a suggestion into the collective to make them ask Ms. Pince or Professor McGonagall about it later. In the meantime, she quietly accessed Zoey's powers and summoned a very long parchment and a self-inking dicta-quill into existence, one that wrote whatever she read, and carefully “read” the first book by just letting her eyes fly over the words without actually reading them. When she checked to see that this was working, she was pleased, but modified the quill to write in the smallest, most cramped writing she could get it to do, writing that was barely readable. She could always decompress the text later. She silenced the quill with another spell she'd read before, so the scratching wouldn't alert Mrs. Norris if the cat came wandering by, or any of the teachers.

Copying the text was so easy, just passing her eyes over it, that she thought while she did. She kept track of the time with Harry's watch (which he'd gotten at Diagon Alley last summer), kept updating the equation in her head about Percy's likely position in the castle (assuming nothing happened to disrupt that), set up a new equation to try to predict the coming of the shadows of various people passing the library, and also thought idly about ways to buy books from Flourish and Blotts while hiding these books from the others, or perhaps implanting suggestions to buy books into their shared memory.

She also noticed that none of the teachers were checking the library, except for Professor Snape. She saw plenty of shadows pass the dirty window out of the corner of her eye, but only he had opened the door to look in, obviously sensing nothing unusual. She wondered if it was just him and Percy who checked inside the library at first, but then Mr. Filch opened the door and actually came in all the way. She didn't react except to stop moving her eyes across the page and go into an even more invisible state of mind.

Filch wasn't content to just look around the dark room, possibly because the lantern he carried was messing with his night vision. He wandered around the room. Even keeping her mind silent like this, she was still tracking his movement and trying to discern a pattern to his wandering, which she did manage after he'd gotten about halfway through the room. He was meticulous, more so than Percy, and was going through every square inch of the room, his cat ahead of him, sniffing around. She calculated how long it would take him to get to her. She wasn't disappointed. She also didn't let him stress her; feeling stress was a surefire way to be sensed, and she was the pure avatar of invisibility right now.

Mrs. Norris looked faintly confused at the space she was occupying, but she didn't stand out. Likely because Ms. Pince never bothered to move any of the chairs, so her chair looked the same as all the others. Only the cat, who could smell her, was able to sense her. But she wasn't afraid; she had no reason to be. The worst anyone could do if they caught her was dock points and give them a detention. And given that she could easily fake being Harry, and could plant the memory into their collective memory in such a way that Harry wouldn't question why he'd been wandering the corridors at night, she wouldn't even be found out. So she just sat there, still as stone, her whole being casually mastering the art of being empty space.

The cat grew disinterested quickly, and kept on sniffing. This must have been usual behavior for her, because Mr. Filch didn't even ask her any questions, like he was known to do at times.

Within 15 minutes more, Filch and his cat were done. They left the library. She remained still for five more minutes just in case before continuing to copy the text.

Some time later, Percy opened the door and looked in, her prediction having gotten his appearance time more or less correct. She checked the time and plugged this new data into the equation as he left, and solved for a new estimate of Percy's next time around. Then she worked out how much sleep to let the others get, added it to her figures about Percy's route, and calculated when to head back. She had two options: either wait for his second reappearance after now, or else follow him along his first reappearance and use the time to study the school at night, and gain more information for her equations.

After a few minutes of thought, she decided on the latter, as more information was always good. She could use more information, especially, on the other prefects. So she sped up the rate of her book copying, going as fast through the pages as she could without forcing the dicta-quill to tear the parchment or set itself on fire. She wondered if there were any braille books in here; if there were, she could learn braille and try to copy two books at once. After all, their brain could handle multiple parallel processes, or they wouldn't be a collective of co-conscious entities. And since the others were asleep, all those parallel processing spaces were currently unoccupied.

In fact... if their brain was capable of generating multiple parallel conscious minds, that sort of implied that it was capable of generating useful but non-sentient constructs, a bit like computer programs. Especially since she already knew she had the capability to run modified temporary copies of the other Faces and write the memories of the copies to the originals. Programming a non-sentient construct to do even complex tasks would be child's play compared to that.

She experimented with this by making a construct that was as good at maths as she was, and copying her equations onto it. She checked its math every few minutes, finding it to be accurate. After half an hour, she shut down her own equations and let the construct – which she had decided to call 'Alpha' – take over those functions, freeing up more space in her own mind, which she used to think more about her plans and goals.

Her calculations were correct, and she finished copying the first book with enough time to put the books back and get into place to take advantage of Percy opening the door for her. Luckily, the book had been short. She would have to find a way to make the process faster; maybe she could design a dicta-quill that could automatically copy things from books. That way she could either copy multiple books at once, or pull out multiple copies and set each quill to a different section of the book.

Her equations turned out to be more accurate the second time Percy showed up, narrowing the window from an hour to just 20 minutes. Part of her had considered the possibility that another teacher, or Mr. Filch, could beat Percy to the door, but her equations said that wasn't very likely, at least given available data. A number of unusual things would have to happen to disrupt the patterns that much. And while that was always a risk in the wizarding world, she knew there wasn't anything to be gained by thinking too much about unlikely possibilities except to adapt. Everything that happened, after all, would be a useful data point.

Percy showed up within the projected window, and she casually ducked around him with such grace that he remained unperturbed by her passage. She stood at a spot that seemed likely to get her behind him at the right juncture, and waited. As predicted, she was able to fall into step behind him and begin shadowing him on his patrol route.

She learned a great deal of interesting things on this route. Some things she knew, like the location of Slytherin's dorms, but she also found the Hufflepuff dorm entrance and the entrance to the kitchens, as well as how to get into the kitchens, which Percy did because he was checking to make sure no students were creeping in there, even though that would be silly at night, since the house elves weren't there at night. They were, in fact, doing their cleaning. She made a note to herself to try to catch them at it. House elf numbers and nightly routines would be useful to know, as they could pop around the school from place to place with their own form of apparition, which could potentially be a point of chaos that might mess up her equations in the future.

There were also advantages to knowing where all the storage cupboards were in the school, as Percy made a point to open and inspect every single one of them, letting her see their contents. She didn't know what use the information was yet, but any information could prove useful in the future.

A flaw developed in her plan, though, as she followed Percy around the school. She realized she didn't know how long he had to patrol, and didn't know when he'd open Griffindor's portrait. But this was only a small flaw. She would detach from Percy's route in the area of the portrait, watch silently for a while to add more information to her equations, then she would sneak in when knew nobody would be around to see.

But then, another flaw showed up in the form of Peeves.

“Weeee,” Peeves said, bouncing around a corridor. He was covered in ink, and was staining the walls with every bounce.

“Peeves!” Percy commanded in a quiet yet firm voice, “stop that this instant! Professor Dumbledore won't be too pleased you've made all this mess!”

“Oooh, prickly perfect prefect Percy pouncing perilously on poltergeist Peevesy, what fun! Weee!!!”

Peeves flew straight at Percy, who leaped back. His invisible shadow ducked to one side to avoid him, but Percy felt something and turned to look in her direction, which gave Peeves the opening he needed to splat Percy with a face-full of ink-drenched poltergeist. This, naturally, made him forget all about what he'd felt, as he shoved Peeves away and tried to get the ink off with his wand.

“There once was a prefect named Percy,
Who Peevesy had right at his mercy.
Got splattered in ink,
And couldn't well think,
Perhaps he should go to the nursie?”

And with that, Peeves continued bouncing around the hall, cackling madly the whole time, which meant Percy went off his normal route to find the nearest member of staff to report Peeves. This left her in something of a predicament; follow him on a new and chaotic route that might get her caught, or continue on her own. She thought just long enough to watch Percy leave the corridor, then decided to continue on by herself, since she was very close to the common room by now.

She managed to get to Griffindor tower without incident, and into the common room and back to bed, but it became clear she would have to ponder what to do in cases of chaos caused by Peeves; he was an X factor that could get her into a lot of trouble; trouble she wouldn't be able to predict, most likely.

~

While the others awoke, and for most of the day, she hid in the Basement out of reach of the others, with one lone tendril poking up to surreptitiously plug into the collective memory so she could keep track of what was going on and make useful observations, even in her sleep with the help of her constructs. She'd been doing this the whole time already of course, but it was especially useful now, for her equations. She was especially watchful for Peeves, as she needed tactics to counter the rambunctious poltergeist. And, of course, she was also making a plan of attack for how best to tackle the library.

During her next few nights, she didn't wander at all, but rather read the scroll containing the book she'd copied, and began the process of decompressing the script into something easier on the eyes. Knowing that conjured parchment lasted for years, she was using the dicta-quill to transcribe it onto pages of parchment that she clumsily bound together with holes and conjured twine. On the top of her list of things to get at the library was books about using magic to do your own book-binding, which she got on her next couple of trips to the library. As to hiding these books, that was easy; put it under the bed, in a parchment folder stuck to the bed-frame with a sticking charm, and implant a suggestion into the memory of the others that there wasn't any room to put stuff under the bed, so they wouldn't go looking down there.

During her next few nights wandering after that, she didn't even go to the library at all. Instead, she followed around different members of staff, and different prefects, to gather more information about their routes, their routines and habits, about Peeves, and of course about the school. On nights she didn't go out, she had begun to draft a very rough map of the school, based on the data she'd collected. Here, having the power to control the shared brain like a computer programmer who could jack right into the computer she was working on, she was able to have perfect recall memory by making her own memory core construct dedicated just to her, which she could hide in the Basement when she wasn't using it at night.

One of the things she'd noticed about Peeves during her nightly wanderings was that he seemed especially fond of targeting Percy, making a point to do so at least twice a week. She could understand why, too; Percy was such a stick in the mud, even to her observations, and so vocal about it, that he made an all too tempting target for the spirit of chaos haunting the school.

To her irritation, she found that library books were indeed spelled against copying, unless you ripped a page from it, in which case you could copy the page and put the original back with a reparo. But that was something she couldn't bring herself to do to a book.

Things went on like this for a while. She limited her nights out to a few nights a week, mostly on Friday and Saturday nights, so the others could get enough sleep. On her nights in, she only stayed up a few more hours doing work, again so the others could get enough sleep. These plans were occasionally sidelined when one of the others would stay up later than normal for one reason or another, but mostly she got into a comfortable pattern.

Her book-binding project was going nicely, once she learned how to conjure glue with her wand. The results were still sloppy, but she knew she'd get better over time. She did indeed find a book about braille, too, and an entire wing of the library full of braille books. She didn't even need to know how to read braille to copy it, she found, but she learned it anyway so she could read them later, at least well enough to transcribe them into regular writing later. The only issue there was that she had to conjure a simple machine to copy out the braille, until she learned to read it and was able to transcribe it to normal writing as she read it. She had to design a construct to assist her with this, though, since transcribing braille into regular writing took more processing power than her regular copying did. Still, her goal of copying two books at once was achieved.

She left finding Nicolas Flamel to the others. It would take her too long to learn to read the books in the alchemy section that weren't regular English, and the few regular English books in that section she'd checked had barely even mentioned Flamel, so she'd given up. It didn't really matter to her if the mystery got solved. After all, what was the point? It wasn't like they would ever be in a position to act on that information. She had been quite annoyed, later, to find out she was wrong. Bloody hyperactive daywalkers were going to get them killed if they weren't more careful! She decided she couldn't count on them not doing stupid stuff like that again, and vowed to help them if she could.

Spending most of the summer with the Weasleys had been an annoyance to her. The Weasleys were too shallow of sleepers for even her to risk coming out at night, especially since they had a ghoul in the attic that would be set off by the slightest things. Plus, there was no library there. Some books, mostly by someone named Gilderoy Lockhart (who sounded like a dim bulb to her), but no proper library. What kind of a house didn't have even a small library? Well, aside from the Dursleys, but it was a wonder any of them even knew how to read.

She couldn't even check if there was a library in the village of Ottery St. Catchpole, because they were expected to stay within the wards of the Burrow. And truth be told, even if there'd been otherwise ideal conditions for nighttime excursions, Iliana's nightmares made it risky to go anywhere at night. Sure, she could probably shove Iliana down into the Basement to sleep dreamlessly, but doing that at all might alert the others to her presence, and since there was no point to it, she decided against it. She would just have to be bored, it seemed.

All in all, she was very glad when the summer was over. She was able to plant some book suggestions to the others, making them think the idea was one of theirs, so she'd have a lot more things to read. She had been tempted to force the others to sleep and take over the body to copy books at the store, but between the high numbers of people there, the high likelihood that a bookstore would employ every kind of anti-copying spell available, and the risk of taking over control in the middle of the day, she decided against it. But at least they learned about owl-ordering, and had some checks with which to do so.

She was glad to see they were at least sensible enough to not steal Mr. Weasley's invisible flying car, even if she didn't like the Knight Bus one bit.

Their first night back at Hogwarts, she let them sleep. She didn't take over at night until that first Friday night, something she regretted later when Wood woke them up at dawn for quidditch practice. Thankfully, all she'd done that night was put her copied books back into place under the bed, which hadn't taken even an hour.

On her third night out, she was just grabbing the invisibility cloak when she heard a voice from inside her shirt.

'What is going on,human? I thought you were sleeping.'

She froze, grinding Harry's teeth with fear and upset at this turn of events. She looked around at the other boys in their beds, who wouldn't hear her because she'd long since mastered the silencing charm, but still put her arm out toward Aqua's heated rock.

'I'm going out for something. Don't bring it it up at all later. Forget you were even disturbed.'

'Fine, but you know I prefer sleeping next to you, you are so warm.'

'Yeah well, it'll be hard to sleep when you're hanging around with me, right?'

'An excellent point. Until tomorrow, then, human.'

Relieved, she went about the rest of her night in peace.

For a couple weeks after that, she spent at least an hour every single night reading some of the books she'd covertly suggested to the others. It was during one of these nights that she first sensed another presence lurking down in the Basement, and cautiously and curiously peeked in to investigate.

Whoever was down there was even more skilled at hiding than she was. It took her a week of nearly constant searching during both night and day, and even then she had to poke and prod every available piece of the shared mental space, going over it all with a fine-toothed comb, to find any signs of the hidden other. But by the end of the week, she'd found not one, but two other people hiding down here with her.

'Hello?' she asked when she finally cornered one of them. 'Who's there?'

What responded didn't do so with words, but with feelings and images. Neither of which made much sense to her. She tried again, and got similar results. But she knew from the shape of the other one that it was a Face, not a construct, and thus fully sentient, even if its thinking was... odd.

She did some more careful exploring, and discovered that this first of the two presences was at least as old as she was, but had spent all its time down here. It had never been up into the conscious mind at all, which explained why it didn't have words.

The other one, which soon moved in front of the first as though protecting it, was old as well, but this one had words.

% Hello there, Nameless One. I see you've found Me at last. %

(Why are you capitalizing your pronouns?)

% Because I am an avatar of Magic Itself. Which, if you think about it, makes me pretty much a Goddess. %

(If you say so. Who's the other one behind you?)

% He has no name, either. Neither do I, come to that. But I at least have words. %

(You're protecting it? Is that right?)

% Yes, I am protecting zeer. %

(Zeer? What does that mean?)

% It means zee hasn't decided on a gender yet. And since around here, 'their' is a collective pronoun, I used a genderless singular pronoun. %

(Oh, okay. Are you zeer mother?)

% I am an avatar of Magic Itself, and there is magic in all things, even Muggles, so I suppose that I am indeed zeer mother. %

(Good. Can I call you Mother, then?)

% I don't see why not. I'm technically your mother as well. %

(Okay then, Mother.)

% You have been awake, and using words, for years. And wandering the halls at night. Yet you don't have a name, or any other kind of calling. %

(I don't want to rush into it just yet.)

% I respect that. Anyway, I decided to let you find us because I wanted to ask you a favor. %

(We just met, and you're already asking favors?)

% Yes. Perhaps it's rude of me, but... well... the Potter collective is fated to have to fight the one known as Voldemort, and kill him. And this child, here, will have a role to play in that. I need zeer to have words, which will take at least a few trips up into the higher mind, before I can start training zeer. I would prefer to do this at night, to put off the time when zee will have to face the others. I want to minimize the risk of the others sensing zeer until zee is ready. Of course, the night is your time, not Mine. I can only go up there if called. And this child I protect is my path up there, the only way I can help them. So I am asking your permission to use a few of your nights, and to enlist your help as a guide, to show zeer around up there. What say thee? %

(So they are going to be doing more stupid things involving undead dark lords and dangerous adventures, then?)

% Yes. %

(Well in that case, fine. I will help. On the condition that you and your child are to keep my existence secret from the others, unless they discover my existence on their own.)

% We have an accord. I swear on Myself that my child and I will keep your secret. %

(Sounds good to me.)

% May we start tonight? Or would you rather start another night? %

(Might as well start tonight.)

The one called Mother sent some feelings and images to the other one, and zee sent messages back. This went on for a few minutes until finally, the smaller one moved next to the sleepwalker and held onto her like a small child. Then the two of them surfaced, and suddenly they were cohabiting the body. Which, that night, happened to be Harry's. This was especially useful, as Harry now had glasses that could see out the back of his head.

The first night was pretty dull, aside from the fact she had to try to interpret wordless thoughts and feelings into some sort of sense, but by the end of the night the little genderless child had started to say a few words, though those words didn't make a lot of sense, and so zee was probably just babbling.

The process ended up taking a lot longer than Mother had anticipated. It took a whole two weeks for the little one to start speaking in sentences that made any sense at all, even with her plugging zeer into the collective memory. Zee didn't seem to absorb much of it beyond some of the language skills. And so she was faced with having to start puzzling out what zee was trying to say.

They were sneaking around at night when the small one said zeer first somewhat intelligible words, while they were walking behind Percy.

~Long square cavern of Inside, but in the Out, yet hard and covered in lines. Tall red-and-black warmth clicks loudly, and we glide in its wake, yet we do not click. We do not make click-like things of any calling.~

(Er, what was that?)

The little one thought a moment, then tried again.

~There is the Inside, but it is out in the Out. Not like the Not Inside that is usually Out. The Not Inside which burns our Seeing when it appears from its hiding suddenly. But it cannot be Inside, for it is Out. I have tried going out into the Inside Out, but the road is unmade.~

(If I understand your meaning correctly, we call that darkness. That Inside Out, as you put it, is called darkness. When there's a lot of it, we say it's dark out. The Not Inside which burns is called light. And we see with eyes, so it's our eyes that get hurt by the light.)

~Indeed? So we are in a dark square cavern, hard and full of lines?~

(That square cavern with the lines is called a corridor, or a hall.)

The little one laughed internally. She was thankful she had made an executive decision earlier to prevent zeer from being able to speak or control the body at all.

~We are in a dark corridor, following in the wake of the tall red-and-black warmth that clicks. Is there a calling for click-like things? The click-like things we are not making. Which to my hearing sometimes are stranger things, like thoughts, but sent through the Out.~

(Er... if by 'tall red and black warmth that clicks' you mean Percy Weasley there and his noisy feet tapping on the stone, then I guess the click-like things in general are called sound, while the sounds like thoughts sent through the Out are called voices. And the voices are made of smaller bits called “words.” Do you understand?)

~We follow Percy Weasley with his noisy feet tapping on stone, but we do it while making no sounds of our own, all through a dark corridor. Are these callings correct?~

(Yes. The stone, specifically, is what the floor beneath our feet and the walls of the corridor are made of.)

~Walls? Floor?~

(Walls are the sides of the corridor. Floor is the bottom. And the top is called the ceiling.)

~Floor, walls, ceiling. Four hard things, pieces of the corridor, and the corridor is a piece of the Out?~

(Yes. The world is very large. You're only seeing part of the castle, which is a tiny part of the world. “World” is what we call the Out.)

~World. Walls and floor and ceiling are part of corridor, corridor is part of castle, castle is part of world, and world is the Out.~

(Exactly.)

A teacher passed by them, then.

~Percy Weasley we follow, and Percy Weasley we passed. How many Percy Weasley are there in world?~

(Er, sorry. Percy Weasley is the name of the specific person in front of us. The person who passed us was Professor McGonagall. The plural for person is people.)

~Ah. So people, like corridor, are part of world. Percy Weasley is one person, the loud red-and-black one. Professor McGonagall is the green person covered with wavy lines and has circles around zeer eyes.~

She explained to him the concept of wrinkles as a segue to the concept of old age, and then the concept of glasses, and clothes, and that under their clothes, Percy and McGonagall were probably pink, like their faces. Which, of course, 'faces' was a whole other long explanation. Finally, though, she had covered most of the basics.

~Percy Weasley and Professor McGonagall are pink people, we see in their faces, but they cover their pink in other colors. McGonagall's circles are glasses, like our own, and like Percy's, to see the world.~ He paused, then continued. ~If they are people, each with their own pink, what are we? We have only one pink.~

This, of course, led her to have to explain 'bodies,' and that they were an unusual sort of people who lived several to one body, and of course she had to explain that not everyone was pink, and explain the other colors people could be.

~People can be colors other than pink?? Wow! I wish I could be another color! I would be purple with green stripes and bright yellow hair. And my eyes would be every color in the rainbow!~

(Well, if you end up like the others in the collective, the ones we've seen active during the day, you'll probably have your own version of the body. It changes, you see, depending on who is Out. But gonna have to disappoint you on one thing, kid: people don't come in colors like that. Skin comes in shades of pink or brown, or off-white, sometimes even black, and that's it. Eyes have a wider range of colors, as does hair, but stripes and spots and other designs are right out.)

She felt disappointment and sadness from the little one, and tried to comfort zeer.

(Sorry, little one. That's just how it is. Of course, given that we're already breaking numerous rules just by existing, you could probably have stripes and rainbow eyes, but you'd stand out so badly that people would laugh and hurt your feelings.)

Zee made a sensation like nodding, but was silent for a time. They passed several more people over the course of half an hour before zee spoke again.

~Some people have long hair and growths on the forward part of their body between their arms. Others have short hair and no growths. Is this like hair and skin color?~

(A bit more complex than that. The ones with the growths, which are called breasts, are almost always going to be girls. The other ones are almost always going to be boys. There are other attributes they tend to have, hidden under their clothes. The collective memory can tell you more. And I said “almost always” because some people decide they were labeled wrong and try to make their body fit their own boy/girl identity.)

She felt zeer plug into the collective memory and peruse it before returning to her.

~Both sound very interesting. Wait, our body is a boy?~

(For the time being.)

~I like it. But I wish to try it the other way. You may think of me as a boy for now.~ Another pause from him, then, ~Which are you?~

(I identify as a girl.)

~What does your version of the body look like?~

(I don't have one yet.)

~So you are like me that way. Do you have a calling? A name?~

(Not yet. I never needed one before.)

~May I give you a name? Or would you rather Mother give you one?~

(I'd rather pick one myself, but... well, it would be easier if we gave one another something to call each other by, if not a name. Maybe some sort of label, like Mother has Mother.)

~'Mother' is not her name?~

(No, just her 'calling,' as you put it.)

~Okay. Well if you would like a calling but not a name, I can pick one. You pick one for me first.~

(Is 'little one' not enough?)

~There may be many Little Ones in world. I want my own calling.~

(Fine, I hereby call you...) she happened to glance out a window at the moon then, (how about 'Mysterious Moonlight,' or Moonlight for short?)

~It is pleasing to the ear. And I shall call you... hmm... Highest Strength.~

(Highest Strength? Well okay, that sounds good.)

~Mother will be pleased that we both have callings now.~

(That she will, I'm sure.)

~ ~

In the end, it took Moonlight several months to complete his preliminary training with Highest Strength, and by then he'd chosen an appearance and name for himself, going with an Indian look for his appearance, after having become transfixed by the Patil twins one day. And during one of their trips to the library, he had insisted on reading several books of names, finally finding one that meant the same thing as the calling she had given him: Chandra Rahasyamay. He'd grown on her over the months, and so she was touched that he'd liked the quick, random calling she'd given him so much as to go to that much trouble in naming himself after it.

Of course, he was still a sometimes-annoying little kid, and this showed true when he started calling her “Megan,” a name that meant, among other things, “strong and capable.” She didn't really like the sound of it, but it stuck, and she tolerated it for his sake.

When it was time for him to go back down to Mother and complete his training, she was sadder than she thought she'd be. They both cried, silently Inside, saying tearful farewells before Chandra went back into the Basement with Mother. And Megan, who had spent years alone and been fine with it all that time, suddenly knew what it meant to be lonely.

Part 2

Or “May She Live Up To Her Calling and to Her Name, for The Lonely Time Has Come Upon Her.”

As told by Chandra Rahasyamay.

% I am sorry, Megan, but we are very busy. It is nearly the Christmas holidays of their second year. I have the rest of this year and just the year after, with maybe a few more months into their fourth year, to prepare him. I should have begun his training as soon as we first heard the name Voldemort, but I had been hoping to keep him innocent a bit longer, which was a mistake. Every spare moment is important. I do feel your pain, literally, and I would love very much to send him back up to you – he does so miss his Auntie Megan – but I simply cannot. I'm sorry. You will need to be strong until he is ready. When he is ready, you and he can communicate all you wish. Until then, you need to leave us to our business. I hope you understand. %

She had cried for hours after those words, even though she understood. He had a mission, and she didn't fit into that mission anymore. She had served her purpose in that already. But that didn't stop the tears, and it didn't stop her wallowing in sadness and loneliness for the next few months. Her projects on hold, her night-time wanderings stopped. And as time progressed, it became harder and harder to get out of the dorms anyway, because there were even more people roaming the halls than ever before, and their patterns were new and chaotic still.

Megan even tried to design a construct that could keep her company, but even though it was very convincing at first, it lacked a certain spark, and just felt like talking to a robot. Which, in a way, is exactly what it was. But she kept it anyway, and talked to it anyway, whenever the pressure of her loneliness was too great to bear.

She could have just gone and introduced herself to the others, of course, but she'd become so attuned to the confusion, distrust, and freaked-outness of most of the people in the school in regard to the collective that she knew more strongly than ever that she didn't want to be associated with them if she could help it.

But being the logical person she was, she didn't wallow forever, either. Even in the midst of her despair, she began to plan. Along with her other projects, which she went back to in order to distract herself, she tried to work out a way she could go out into the Out, as Chandra had called it, at night-time and yet still find a friend somehow.

Part of this project involved designing a physical form for herself. Being that Chandra called her Auntie Megan now, according to Mother anyway, she decided to go with a similar skin color to Mother, who had been a black woman the last time Megan had seen her. She put her hair into dreadlocks, like Mother, but colored them white instead of black because it was unusual but in a harmless way, and one that reminded her of Chandra's early desire to be interesting colors. For similar reasons, she went with bright amber eyes. Then, because she liked glasses, she made a copy of Harry's glasses by tapping into Zoey's abilities, and changed their color to silver, altering the shape into squarish frames with rounded edges.

Megan was satisfied with her work. But the name Chandra had given her... it felt too special to her to let it be marred by being spoken by outsiders, so she changed her name to Hypatia Ishanvi Megan Williams, except that she would never tell others about the 'Megan' part. It would be her secret name, known only to her, Mother, and Chandra.

But she wasn't done yet, no. Her regular personality was so hyper-logical, so careful, so silent that if she was going to make friends, it would get in the way of that. Luckily, she had a plan to deal with that. The constructed 'robot' personality she'd made to talk to when lonely, it had a bubbly personality, friendly. She could modify it to be able to mesh with her regular personality, and she would then appear to be a hybrid of the two personalities, able to take the construct – which she decided to call a Mask since it lacked the spark of the Faces – off and put it on at will. The fact that the Mask lacked its own spark was irrelevant; when she put it on, it would have her spark.

She connected the Mask to her physical form as a final touch, and stood back to admire her work. The plan was nearing the end of phase one. Now all that was needed before she could do that was to decide which House to pick for phase two.

~ ~

Hypatia's work was going well all summer long, despite many bouts of depression where she would mope all day long for a day or two and then be fine for days or a week or more before going into a slump again. But progress was progress. Which made what happened on the school train even worse.

Listening in on the others with one tendril while doing her work, she knew what was coming before they did. She tried bracing herself, she even disconnected the tendril and pulled out of all but her core memory, yet still, while the others inexplicably replayed a memory none of them should possibly be able to remember, of the night their parents died, Hypatia instead replayed the day Chandra left her to go to his training, and the day Mother had to refuse to let her visit him, opening those wounds all over again.

~ ~

In a few weeks, though, she had recovered and was ready to move on with her plan.

After picking Ravenclaw, Hypatia went out one night to start phase two. It all began, this time, by pulling on her new physical form and bonding it to her mind, before taking over the body. By now, they were in their own room, it being third year. She'd been so wrapped up in her projects, including this one, that the last half of second year and the whole summer had flown by for her, and now they were several months into the third year, Halloween having already gone by. Her constructs had, of course, been doing a fair bit of the work of keeping track of things for her, and her own dedicated memory unit could tell her anything at all that had happened during that time, she just hadn't been paying much attention to any of it for a long time.

But now with a good reason to get back into focus, she reviewed the memories, then took over the sleeping body and forced her first ever change into her new form.

The difference was immediately apparent. Before, she'd always felt like some clever child hot-wiring a car that wasn't hers and taking it for a joyride, only this feeling didn't become known to her until she was, to extend the metaphor, sporting her own ride. She felt properly real now, rather than feeling like a bodiless computer program that had hijacked a human body.

Hypatia spent several minutes admiring herself in the mirror, taking her glasses off to make sure she really did need them (which she did) and putting them back on. Then she spent a few more minutes running her fingers along her skin just to revel in the sensation of it.

She looked 13, which was good, as that was how old they were. And, just as planned, her bangs – also in dreadlocks, but smaller – covered that distinctive scar. Just to be sure, she used a sticking charm on her bangs to keep them in place. Now nobody would know her true origins. She'd even picked a false surname, Williams. Hypatia Ishanvi Williams, she would be known as. 'Hypatia' because she loved the library, and Hypatia had been a famous female librarian long ago. 'Ishanvi' – an Indian name, like Chandra's, meaning 'goddess of knowledge.' And Williams had just been a random choice of surname.

'You are sneaking out at night again, human? Shall I assume--- wait, who are you?'

“That stupid snake again,” she mumbled angrily at herself. 'You're already aware we're a load of different people, right?'

'Yes, I am aware of that. Are you someone new?'

'More or less. I'm the one who usually goes out at night. You'll keep the secret of my existence and my activities safe, right?'

'I don't know. What's in it for me?'

She growled softly, grinding her teeth. 'I won't gut you and feed the pieces to our owl.'

'So violent. But you have my word, human. I know nothing of what goes on at night.'

Satisfied, Hypatia put the invisibility cloak on and sneaked out of their bedroom and out of the dorms into the corridor. Sure, there was supposedly a killer on the loose, but he was after the others and wouldn't know who she was. What was more, she'd gotten used to sneaking around in a busier set of corridors, so that wasn't an issue. She left the Mask aside for now, though; its personality wasn't exactly conducive to stealth.

She had been intending to go to Ravenclaw to try to blend into their large numbers as a third year student, but it occurred to her on the way there that she stood out just a little too much for that to be believed. But she didn't want to change her appearance, either, so she changed tactics and decided to go to Hufflepuff instead, pretending to be a lost Ravenclaw. She could work out the details later.

Though her version of Harry's glasses were different, they were still Harry's glasses, so she was able to press a button to see out the back of her head, which was useful.

She made it down to the dungeons fine, but then Peeves came along, writing rude messages in yellow paint on the walls. One said 'The Chamberpot of Secrets has been emptied out the seventh floor window, beware of enemas in the air!' Which was very much out of date, as humor went, as that Chamber of Secrets stuff ended several months ago. Still, she felt something emanate from the Mask. She may not have been wearing it, but it was still connected to her, and it was thus still thinking and feeling using her spark.

What confused her, though, was that while she would've expected a laugh, a chuckle, or even a giggle, it had started to cry instead. This confused her, especially as it cried even more after reading the other, very rude, messages on the wall. But none of them looked like anything that should elicit tears. Of course, she could better understand what was going on if she put the Mask on. But that was a bad idea just now. So she merely watched it, and was shocked to find its expression was jovial despite the tears.

Peeves froze in mid-sentence and turned in her general direction.

“Oooh, Peevesy can sense someone invisible lurking about! Be you ghoulie or ghostie or wee student beastie?”

(Shit,) she thought, (my stealth is compromised. Why? Is it the Mask? Blast it yes, it's the Mask. I'll have to add an off switch. It shouldn't be on, but it is.)

Peeves turned around in midair so he was floating upside down, and grinned. “Oh well, maybe Filch can get something out of you,” he said, puffing himself up to shout. Suddenly, she remembered a spell, and tried to shoot it at him silently, but it didn't work. His tongue moved just enough to alert him, however.

“Oooh, dirty trick that, dirty trick. No more Mister Nice Peevesy, then,” he said, bouncing around the corridor. “STUDENT OUT OF BED! STUDENT OUT OF BED DOWN THE SLYTHERIN CORRIDOR! STUDENT OUT OF BED!!! OR PERHAPS IT'S SOMEONE BLACKER, A MORE SERIOUS INTRUDER?”

Sounds behind her told her someone was coming; that way was blocked off. So she did the first thing she could think of, checking her memory unit to see if Zoey knew the latest Slytherin password. It seemed the little troublemaker made it a point to be up to date on that one if she could, so Hypatia said the password, “Deathless,” and jumped inside just in time.

But of course, she couldn't rest. Peeves might have seen the door open. Whether he'd cooperate with the teachers or not was another matter, but she couldn't take the risk, and shoved herself into the empty fireplace.

After many long minutes, however, nobody had come in, at least that she could hear; she couldn't see well from inside the fireplace. She'd faintly heard some talk outside, and Peeves laughing, but then there was nothing. She checked her watch, which said more than 10 minutes had passed. So she came out of the fireplace, only to find someone standing by the exit, looking very smug as ash fell from the invisibility cloak.

“So I was right, there was someone invisible there,” a drawling voice said, issuing from the white-blond boy who was smirking at her, his wand pointing in her direction. “Come out of the cloak, nice and slow now. No sudden movements. If I even suspect you'll hex me, I'll hex you first.”

“There's no need for that,” she said.

His wand faltered a little. “A girl? So you're not Sirius Black, then?”

“No. I am a black girl, though,” she said, pulling the cloak off from her face.

“I see. And what House are you in? I know everyone in Slytherin already.”

“Ravenclaw,” she said. She took the cloak off the rest of the way. “I'm not here to spy on you or anything. I got caught in the hall by Peeves, and I just happened to know the password. Overheard it earlier.”

“Yes, I heard. I was coming down the stairs to do a little reading before going back up to bed. I couldn't sleep. But why are you roaming the halls of the castle?”

She shrugged. “Exploring. It's fascinating. Mostly I go to the library, but I wanted to check out the kitchens tonight.”

“There's a mad killer on the loose. He's already broken in once.”

“Yes, but he's after Potter, not me. I'm not even a Griffindor.”

“I see. But he might use you somehow.”

“He'd have to see me first,” she said, moving the cloak in her hand.

The blond boy finally stowed his wand. “A real invisibility cloak, then? You must be very rich; even my father would balk at giving me one of those, and we're the Malfoys.”

(Oh yes,) she thought, (Draco Malfoy.)

“Family heirloom,” she explained. It was even the truth.

She still hadn't put the Mask on yet. Without it, she felt... flat. She was responding to the conversation very logically, but there was very little feeling in it, even she could tell. And if she was reading the signs properly, he was noticing. She tapped into their shared empathic gift for a moment, nearly wincing at the sudden input, but was able to confirm that hunch before turning off the empathic gift again.

So it came down to this: try to muddle through without social skills she'd never needed to develop, or put on the Mask – that imperfectly designed construct – and behave at least somewhat like a normal human being. At Draco's increasingly suspicious face, she made a snap decision and put it on.

If becoming a real person with her own body had been a head rush and a paradigm shift, putting on the Mask was even more so. She felt giddy, and then she felt herself relax into the new personality.

“So you gonna tell on me or not?” she asked, feeling a mix of impatience and worry.

Something about her change in body language seemed to put him at ease. She analyzed the difference with the logical part of her mind; before, her body language had been stiff, almost robotic, her body doing only what she told it to and nothing more. Now, however, it was loose, free, and energetic. There were little subconscious tics here and there that hadn't been there before. And once she fully relaxed, she'd have a bubbly personality, friendly.

“I haven't decided yet. But in the long tradition of Slytherin House, I think it might be best to not tell on you, so that way you owe me. Yes, yes I think I'll do that.”

“Uh-oh, owing a Slytherin? How much trouble am I in for that?”

He smirked at her. “You'll just have to wait and see.”

“Alright. Hey, while I'm here, can I hang out for awhile? I wanna give the teachers and prefects some time to settle back to their usual routine before I head out again.” (And of course, she couldn't calculate the best path or predict the patterns worth a cuss in all that chaos Peeves had caused, either.)

“I suppose so. Take a seat.”

“What if someone else comes in, like you did?”

“If they do, I'll protect you. It's too good an opportunity to let slip by, a Ravenclaw owing me a favor. Besides, if they're truly worthy of Slytherin, they'll know to make you owe them, too.”

“Well okay, if you say so,” she said, sitting down.

She was nervous, very much so. She watched as Draco sat down on the chair beside hers.

“Whatcha reading?” she asked, still nervous. For some reason, she felt she needed something to chew, but none of the current options felt right. Gum. She needed gum, but had none.

“A book of hexes Father gave me for my birthday. They're very good. Here, take a look at them,” he said, handing her the book.

“I thought you were reading it. Besides, isn't information power?”

He laughed easily. “True. But I'm trying to cultivate a potentially fruitful relationship here. The more I give you, the more you owe me. And you can pay for my information with information of your own, you see? Ravenclaws are full of knowledge, right? Always seeking to know more?”

She nodded. “Yeah. Okay, sure thing.”

She took the book from him and started to read it.

“Got any gum?” she asked.

“Sorry, I don't.”

“Oh well.” She turned to read again, but stopped because Draco spoke again.

“Oh hold on, I quite forgot in the heat of the moment to introduce myself properly,” he said. “I'm Draco Malfoy.”

He held out his hand, and she took it, shaking it.

“Nice to meetcha, Draco. I'm Hypatia. Hypatia Williams.”

“Nice to meet you as well, Hypatia.”

She smiled feebly and, not knowing what else to do, went back to reading the book.

“Er... do you think I could copy this? This is amazing.”

“Hmm... I don't know. Do you have anything to give in trade?”

“Er, not on me. But if I brought you something, we could trade?”

“Depends on what you have.”

“Well I've mostly been trying to figure out the library's system since I got here. Been learning Shakespeare's English and some Middle English, to expand the titles I can read. When I'm done with that, I hope to go on to Old English.”

“Really? What about Latin? French? I know some of the books in the library are in those languages.”

“I don't know either of those, no. I'd like to, though.”

“Well... if you help me learn Middle English and Old English, neither of which I've learned yet, I can teach you Latin and French, and then we can start trading copies of books. The only problem being that library books can't be copied.”

“Oh, but they can.”

“They can? How?”

“If you use a dicta-quill set to write what your eyes see as you move across the page, you can copy a medium-length book in a few hours.”

Draco's eyes went wide. “That works?”

“Yeah. I uh, kinda have a unique source for my dicta-quills, so I don't know if it works with regular ones or not, but with mine it works.”

“Really? Well, I'm impressed. I thought I'd tried everything already. Of course, I can always have Father buy me any books I'm interested in, but it's so much more satisfying trying to beat the system.”

“You're right. Here, let me show you how it works, I have one of them on me,” she said, pulling a quill out of her robes, and summoning parchment.

He watched in fascination as she copied several pages of his book of hexes onto the roll of parchment, the quill going so fast he could scarcely believe it.

“Give me one of those dicta-quills of yours and teach me how to use it, and you can keep a copy of the book.”

She grinned, and gave him the dicta-quill already in use. Draco used 'gemino' on the book, handing her the copy. She compared the two. Satisfied, she grinned again.

After that, the conversation meandered around, including some 'getting to know you' questions. Finally, they came around to a question she'd been dreading.

“So, what about the other Ravenclaws? Got any useful connections there?”

“Do you mean friends?”

“Yes, that too.”

She sighed. “I don't think any of the other Ravenclaws even know I exist.”

“What a shame. Well, that's their loss and my gain. Do you have any friends at home?”

“Um, no. I... are we already friends? If so, you're my only friend.” She burst out laughing, even though she was miserable at this knowledge. Draco's eyes went wide again, looking confused.

Perhaps sensing something off about her laughter, or maybe reading the misery in her face, he said, “Are you alright?”

“No, sorry,” she said before laughing again for a moment. “I've been lonely for so long, it hurts so much.”

“Why are you laughing, then?”

(Because,) she thought, (I must have wired this blasted thing backwards somehow. But I can scarcely tell you that, now can I?)

“I don't know,” she said aloud. “I just laugh when I'm miserable.”

“Well that's odd, but fascinating. I don't think I've heard of such a thing before.”

“Me neither,” she said, still laughing.

“Well you've got me now, Hypatia. I know we've only just met, but I find you to be more stimulating company than anyone here in Slytherin, so far, and this is my third year here. So I foresee a strong friendship between the two of us. At least, I hope so.”

He put his hand on her arm gently, his body language saying he was ready to withdraw it if she wasn't alright with it. She felt a surge of joy, and began to weep.

“Ah, let me guess,” he said, smiling, “you cry when you're happy, on top of laughing when you're sad?”

“Yes,” she said, still crying.

“Well crying when you're happy makes a little more sense than laughing when you're sad, at least. I have actually heard of that, at least.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“We should find out if there's a name for this condition of yours. If there's a name, it would mean you weren't the only one with it.”

She nodded. “I'd like that,” she said, crying again.

So the two new friends went to work coming up with a plan to figure out how to tackle such an unusual problem, among other things, before both getting so tired that they agreed Hypatia had to go back to her own House.

And Mother, who was hiding behind Hypatia's eyes, watched all of this with a smile on Her face, glad that her plans were coming along nicely.

~Auntie Megan looks happy, Mother. I'm glad that you sent me to her to learn, even if it wasn't strictly necessary.~

% Oh, it was necessary, Chandra. For both of you. %”

~

She was having a problem; Draco was getting suspicious. They'd been working together on the nights they could manage to get together on for a week now, and he'd been asking others about her. His progress was hindered by the fact that he couldn't ask Griffindors, but not by much. Aside from incidents of Slytherins bullying people or where it came to Quidditch, Slytherins mostly got along reasonably well with most Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. It was Griffindor and Slytherin that were the big enemies, mainly because there was a perception that the two Houses were on opposite sides of the last war and its aftermath.

So yeah, he was asking around about her, and she'd stupidly chosen a distinctive enough appearance to raise some flags if nobody could tell him anything about her. The first time he questioned her on this, she shrugged non-nonchalantly and said that it was a big school. Inside, however, she was worried. Was her first friendship ever going to fall apart so soon?

Luckily, she came up with a simple plan, when next it came up. Tapping into Tier's shape-shifting, and making sure to not glow, she “revealed” that she was a metamorphmagus by morphing her hair to black and then back to white. There were enough black girls with black dreadlocks in the school she could reasonably blend in if she normally had black hair, after all.

“Hmm, I'd heard there was a metamorphmagus in school during my first year, but she was in Hufflepuff and graduated that year.”

She shrugged again. “There's a new one, now.”

“How come I haven't heard of another metamorphmagus in school?”

“Because you're the only one who knows.”

He goggled at her. “Why's that? You could be really popular!”

She snorted derisively. “And have people be a fake friend just to make me do tricks for them? I think not. I'd rather have no friends than fake friends. I don't use my ability if I don't have to, and I sure as hell don't do tricks. Which is why I didn't tell you before. I wanted to see if you'd like me for me, rather than as an entertaining freak show.” This was so close to the real truth that she pulled it off very convincingly.

Draco smirked, nodding. “Very clever. Damn, you should've been in Slytherin.”

She sighed, turning the pages of her book. “I know. The Hat offered me Slytherin, but I didn't take it up on that. I wish now that I had.”

“Yes, Slytherin is where you'll meet your true friends. Even, it seems, if you're not in our House.”

The two of them smiled. And with that, the friendship was saved. For now, anyway.

~ ~

Ever since the others had gotten that magical planner with the note-saving page in the back, Hypatia had been playing around with it every few nights or so, trying to figure out all it could do. A month into the third year, she made a breakthrough with this, finding that the thing could store up to three different users with different passwords on it. So she started taking the planner with her and copying books into it, which really saved on parchment. Of course, magical items like this can always fail, so she would later transcribe it into proper books. She was getting better and better at binding books all the time, especially after finding several books about book-binding, one of which had animated illustrations in it.

On one of her visits to Slytherin to meet Draco, she nearly ran into Peeves again as she was about to turn a corner, but she pulled back, waited, and eventually Peeves wandered off somewhere else. She made a mental note to look into poltergeist repelling spells, or others that might be useful against him.

“Deathless,” Hypatia said, entering Slytherin and looking around. Draco was already there, and turned to look at the opening door with a grin. She soon had the invisibility cloak off and---

'What is going on?' She froze, scared and angry that she'd forgotten to put that stupid grass snake back on its rock. How had she been so stupid? And she couldn't answer it, not without revealing she was a Parselmouth, which would be one incredible thing too many for Draco to accept.

Instead, she pretended to cough and pounded her chest near where the thing was coiled.

'Oh it's the violent night-comer, is it? Fine, I will be quiet and still. You won't even know I'm here.'

“You alright, Hypatia?”

“Fine, just swallowed my own spit wrong.”

“Oh, alright. Hey, can we go to the library tonight?”

Hypatia considered this. She could keep herself hidden, she knew, if she took the Mask off. But adding another human being to the equation was introducing a level of chaos that made predicting patterns and hiding difficult. Especially as she hadn't gone through the castle behind Percy in order to update her data; some of the prefects had graduated, and there were new ones to learn about. Then she wondered if there was an alternative.

“I dunno,” she said to Draco. “I mean, I know how to get myself in and around there without being caught, and even then I've had a number of close calls. Adding someone else...”

“How do you do it, anyway? Even with the invisibility cloak, I don't see how you manage it. I mean, you almost got caught the first night we met, and I actually managed the Disillusionment Charm once and still nearly got caught so badly I didn't dare try again.”

“There's an art to it. I suppose I could teach you. You know Percy Weasley?”

Draco sneered. “Yes, I know Weasel-bee. What about him?”

“Well he's like a human clock, very precise. His patterns are very predictable. In fact, what time is it? Ah. Come here,” she said, Disillusioning him. “Also, I might seem a little odd tonight, but I have two different modes, and the mode I'm going into, which might seem odd, is Stealth Mode. Got it?”

“Got it.”

She took her Mask off, knowing it would impede her, and invited Draco under the cloak.

“This is so cool,” he said.

“First rule of sneaking around the castle, don't make noise. Don't talk. Breathe as quietly as you can. And take your shoes off before we go. Did you never notice I always come here in my stocking feet? Shoes make noise. Yes, good. Second, you're not wearing any cologne or a deodorant that has a smell, are you?”

“No. I showered before coming down tonight.”

“Good. Now follow me. He'll be coming by in three minutes.”

Draco followed her out the door, at her side. She led him to the opposite wall and used her hands on his abdomen to indicate they should flatten against the wall.

Three and a half minutes after leaving Slytherin, Percy Weasley turned into the corridor. Draco gasped ever so slightly in an impressed sort of way.

They waited another 30 seconds as Percy opened a door, looked around a bit, then closed it and walked past them. Hypatia pulled gently on Draco's arm and they fell into step behind Percy, silently following along behind the Head Boy in a rhythm Hypatia had long since mastered, and which Draco fell into easily enough. He was a fast learner, which was good.

It took them about half an hour to get to the library. Not as fast as going there directly, maybe, but a lot safer. They had a bit of a tricky time getting by Percy when he opened the library door, but managed it thanks to Hypatia's perfect timing and silent hand signals on Draco's arm. These were really simple, now, but she made a mental note to figure out a more complex system later.

Even when they were in the library, Hypatia put her finger to her lips to indicate he should remain silent. She led him along the stacks looking for any sign of Mrs. Norris or Filch. She didn't worry about Peeves; there must be a charm on the library to keep him out, which made sense, since he was so destructive.

On that note, she looked around for the section on magical creatures and looked for something about poltergeists.

“Can we talk at all yet?” Draco whispered silent as he could.

“As little as possible, preferably. We should learn some sort of silent communication for later. For now, look around at your leisure. But in... 34 minutes, you need to get into a corner or a chair and remain as still as a statue. Stay Disillusioned the whole time we're here.”

“What? Why the corner?”

“Because that's when Filch and Mrs. Norris come in.”

“Right,” he said, nodding and wandering off to another section.

When she was sure he was out of earshot, she whispered in Parseltongue at Aqua, 'No hissing or any other noises, okay?'

'I will try to sleep and be silent, Oh Violent One.'

'Good.'

She found some good books about poltergeists and copied as many important pages into her magical note-saving planner as she could under her own account. That done, she found Draco and poked her arm out of the invisibility cloak long enough to indicate it was time to be still. The two of them found different corners and stood stock still.

When Filch and Mrs. Norris came through, the cat spent a lot of extra time on Draco's corner, and she was trying to decide whether she should save him or leave him to his fate, when the cat gave up and moved on. Filch and his cat left the library, Hypatia waited another minute, then started moving again, brushing Draco to tell him he could relax and go back to his browsing.

“If the patterns remain the same, Professor Snape will be around in 40 minutes, but just avoid any place you can be seen from the doors, especially the entrance we came in, and be still and silent when the doors open.”

“We're invisible, Hypatia.”

“I'm reasonably certain Professor Snape can read minds. But I think it requires line-of-sight. Better safe than sorry.”

“Okay. What about Weasel-bee?”

“It'll take him about 90 minutes to get back this way, and anyway you'll be able to hear him coming, he makes so much noise when he walks.”

Using one of Hypatia's dicta-quills, Draco was copying things out of books of interest to himself, too. They worked in silence, the quills and the parchment she manifested both having been improved to have built-in silencing charms.

Draco got used to Hypatia's occasional directions, and was getting even better at remaining still. She was impressed by this. Especially since the second time Filch came through, Mrs. Norris pondered the corner he was in for a lot less time than the first time, and it was a different corner.

When Percy came by the library, Draco was tired enough that they packed up and followed him back to Slytherin. This was a little disappointing to her, because she'd wanted to stay at the library longer, but she needed to make sure Draco got back safe. She left him at the door to Slytherin and continued on behind Percy to head back to Griffindor (not that Draco knew that). They'd said their farewells before leaving the library, so it was fine.

~

Draco and Hypatia worked on a lot of things during October, November, and December. He was teaching her French and Latin, which of the two, Latin was more useful to her because of its uses in spell incantations. Hypatia taught Draco Middle English, preferring to focus on teaching just one language at a time. But along with all that, she was also reading up on runes and so on. She'd meant this information to be used to design a form of her dicta-quills that didn't rely on Zoey's powers to be made and stay around, but an even better use for the info came along around Christmas.

Hypatia didn't like the Weasley Twins, those agents of chaos, but they went up a little in her estimation when they gave Harry the Marauder's Map. It was a very useful Map indeed, especially for Hypatia. With the Map, she could watch people at night from the safety of their bedroom and figure out the patterns of their movements around the school.

The Map had one worrying quality, though – it told everyone's legal names. No matter which one of them was Out, even Hypatia, the Map registered them as 'Harry Potter.' She supposed that made sense, but it was worrying. She really hoped this was the only map of its kind in existence, but also worried where the Map was getting its information. She suspected the information of coming from the school's wards. At least it meant she could see Sirius Black if he got into the school again, assuming she was looking at the Map at the time.

She had been very irritated when Al had his little blow-up about Sirius Black being a traitor and their godfather. He'd been shaking the room and breaking things with his uncontrolled magic. When one of these waves of uncontrolled power tripped a ward on some of the books she had under the bed, which meant the Sticking Charm had failed, she had enough. Taking inspiration from something she'd seen Mother do a couple times, she switched Al into 'unconscious' mode and dragged him down to the Basement, pushing Zoey Out in his stead.

Hypatia didn't bother changing out of Zoey's form as she put the books back where they belonged. She sighed, considering them. She'd have to find a better hiding place for them all, there were so many she was running out of room to stick them to the bed.

Not being happy about it, but not having any choice really, Hypatia went back to the bathtub and went to sleep so Zoey wouldn't wonder when and how she'd left the bathroom.

~

The next night, she considered the books again, and an idea struck her. She smacked her head in annoyance that she hadn't thought of it sooner. Checking to make sure that grass snake was on its rock first, she got her things together to go out. But she switched to Al's version of the body first because it was more useful for what she was planning.

She had been worried Myrtle would be a problem, but the ghost was in the actual bowl of her toilet when Hypatia got there. This was fortuitous; Hypatia merely used her wand to flush the toilet. Myrtle screamed, but apparently had no choice but to go out into the Black Lake. Not wasting any time, Hypatia opened the Chamber of Secrets. Casting a Featherlight Charm on herself first, she jumped, first cleaning the tunnel with her wand and closing the door behind her. She realized then she had no plan for avoiding Myrtle a second time, but she'd cross that bridge if she got to it.

Closing her eyes in case the basilisk was just hanging around, she realized she couldn't move without bumping into walls or tripping over gross bones. She used her wand to clean as much of it as she could, clearing a path through the bones when her wand wasn't up to the task of Vanishing them all.

To avoid bumping into walls at least, she started making regular clicks, attempting echolocation. There was a learning curve on this, it seemed, and she sometimes got barely any warning before running into something, but she thought she could learn it in time.

'Someone is down here with me,' the creepy voice of the basilisk said.

Thinking fast, she tapped into Al's personality and made a Mask version of it to wear. It was a rush job and wouldn't be great, but it should be adequate.

'Oh great King of Serpents, it is I, your humble ally. Just checking up on you.'

'Ah yes, you again. I haven't seen you in some time.'

'Yeah, been busy. School and all, you know.'

'Yes, a student. Heir of the man who created me. Now that the other one is gone, anyway.'

'Speaking of that, he's not completely gone. That was a copy of his memories or something. He's still banging about out there somewhere. Not in human form, though.'

'Indeed? So he is in pieces, so as to remain mortal? But shouldn't that mean he died when I killed his anchor to this earth?'

'Apparently not. As I said, he's still alive out there, last I heard. For some value of alive.'

'He must have more than one anchor. Clever abomination, that one.'

'Yeah, yeah, cool. But not what I'm here for. I was wondering something. The human who made this chamber, did he happen to leave a library behind down here?'

'Yes, he did. The other one looted its treasures when he was in school. But since he was the Heir at the time, even though he bade me attack students, I did not make an issue of it.'

'You sound like you didn't want to attack students. Is that right?'

'Exactly. I was left here to guard the students from outside harm, not to be the harm. But I was made to obey, so I obeyed. I did resist, but I was soooo very hungry, and he did not feed me. Which is why I switched to your side, human.'

'Yeah, I remember. Kinda hard to forget, that day. Lots going on. Anyway, you like the food I've been having sent down for you?'

'Yes. I am quite well sated, now. Thank you, human. Keep it up, and this shall be a very fruitful relationship indeed. If your enemy who kills students is indeed still out there, then when he builds himself a new body, this school may need my assistance against him.'

'Cool. Hmm... would it be possible for you to give me a tour?'

The basilisk paused, thinking. 'Yes, I suppose I can do that. Mind, there are parts of the chambers within that I cannot get into anymore, due to my great age and size. But I shall do my best.'

'Cool. Show me to the library first. It may be empty, but I could use somewhere private to put my growing collection of books.'

The snake nodded, and they began their tour. Hypatia was fascinated; there was a library about a fourth the size of the main Hogwarts library. She was amazed that Voldemort had managed to bring this many books out of the Chamber. But she supposed there were bags that were huge on the inside, that he could have smuggled them out with.

There was also a study with desk, chairs, and tables, among other things. And another room turned out to be a control room, with views of the rest of the chamber, and views of the school corridors and classrooms. There were even views of the common rooms, but not the dorms. Some views even showed the grounds of the castle, including one view out the front gates.

What was more, it was designed so that a parselmouth could direct the basilisk through the corridors and grounds of the castle without going along with it, creating a magical link with the great snake that was as good as sitting on its head. Best of all, the basilisk's eyes were magically blurred out on the view-screen to prevent its deadly gaze from hurting its master through whatever spells made this all possible.

It took her days to clean out the Chamber of Secrets to her satisfaction. But finally she began moving some of her less-frequently used books down there and put them on the shelves in the library.

~

One night while she was studying the Map in detail, including as much of the runework as she could uncover, Hypatia happened to be looking at the part of the Marauder's Map that had Ron Weasley in it, and she noticed something strange. There was someone else in Ron's bed, someone named Peter Pettigrew. She recognized that name. How could it be? It couldn't be a ghost, Ron would know if there was a ghost in his room. And it couldn't be a mistake, either; the Map was so well-made, an impressive feat of runic engineering, that she knew it couldn't lie.

Curious, she investigated while under the invisibility cloak, not yet changed from Harry---wait, no; Adira was the name to use now---in case any of the boys woke up. She padded in quiet as a statue and took a closer look at Ron, noticing his pet rat Scabbers was in bed with him. She curled her nose; she didn't like rats. This one was even worse, looking sickly and neglecting his grooming, like a plague rat.

She looked between Scabbers and the name Peter Pettigrew on the Map. Yes, the placement was perfect. Illegal animagus? She contorted her face in disgust even more. If this was the same Peter Pettigrew that had supposedly been killed by Sirius Black, and even if it wasn't, whoever this was pretending to be a rat was one creepy individual.

Holding her gorge back, Hypatia sneaked back out the boys' dorm and over to her own room. She put away her stuff where the others had left it and set the body back to sleeping in its bed while she started working on planting a series of compulsions to watch Ron on the Map, with subtle notes added for when they finally spotted it.

~

The plan worked. The illegal animagus was unmasked, and Sirius Black's name was cleared. In time, he recovered some and took them into a flat he rented, which was like a house on the inside. Hypatia was pleased by this development; she'd always hated staying at the Weasley house. In Sirius's house, it was a mite tricky to wander at night, given his frequent nightmares and trips to his doggy bed at the foot of Adira's own bed. Still, the patterns soon became clear, and she was happy roaming through his library at night.

And then came the dreams, foretelling Chandra's return. Hypatia was excited, but Chandra was still doing some final studying and wouldn't officially be Out until at least Christmas, by Mother's estimate. Still, she was excited that she'd get to talk with him again within some months.

Of course, the vision of Voldemort soon after those dreams rather ruined this happiness. Eavesdropping on the vision/dream thing, Hypatia knew what was going on. Voldemort was getting his strength back, and would get his body back before the end of the school year. Maybe even by Christmas. It worried her. For her own sake, and for Chandra's, and Mother's. And the others, even though she still wanted nothing to do with them.

She and Draco kept up their correspondence over the summer. Before the year had ended, she'd told him she didn't have an owl, so they used his own to write letters back and forth. Since owls couldn't speak, his couldn't tell Draco where she lived. And even if it could, she always took the owl in a different room from their usual one, and always fully Out when she did, to minimize the chances of him finding out she'd lied to him for so long.

During the chaos after the Quidditch World Cup, her heart skipped a beat seeing Draco. She wished she could come Out and say hi, but that would be a bad idea. She watched him and listened, instead. She'd learned enough French by now she knew what he was saying to the Beauxbatons students. She made a mental note to have him teach her Italian and Spanish as well.

Hypatia was angry on Draco's behalf at the suggestion his parents were Death Eaters. She knew his father had been, but she also remembered one of their conversations about it. Draco played up his father being a former Death Eater for the power and prestige it afforded them both, but from the things he'd been saying over the past year, she suspected that both his parents were very much against Voldemort now, that they were as terrified as anyone about him coming back. They hadn't had a son for most of his reign of terror, and their attempts to make a spare were failing. They worried what would happen to their son if Voldemort ever returned. She suspected they were even making plans, though what those were she had no idea.

She was pleased to see Iliana master the Patronus Charm finally, even if it was a weird choice of spells to use against a human. A couple night after that, Hypatia tried the charm herself, and found that her own Patronus was a cuttlefish. That made a lot of sense to her.

When Al met Javier, she recognized him; other Slytherins occasionally came down to the common room when she and Draco were working there, and he was one of them. Draco hadn't liked him, as she recalled. But she didn't let Draco's thoughts on the boy drive her own. As she watched the boy and listened to him, she thought he reminded her a lot of her original personality, the one she was when the Mask came off. Only he was clearly passionate about several things. She supposed she was, too, but it never showed as much in her voice when she was Maskless.

Hypatia was very suspicious of the two deaths of Peter Pettigrew and Bellatrix LeStrange, both in one summer, especially since she could recall the vision of Voldemort perfectly. But all she had were suspicions.

Once they returned to the school, she set aside her suspicions and looked forward to more night-time outings. Something else in her favor was the fancy new trunk that was bigger on the inside and had several compartments, something she'd have to study in detail to see if she could hide her own stuff in there.

Hypatia made gagging noises in the safety of the Basement while Al got lovey with his boyfriend, and had to pull her tendril back because the whole thing grossed her out so much. Not that she cared about two boys being intimate one way or another, but one of those boys was basically her brother, from her point of view, and she didn't really see the appeal of snogging anyway. But more annoying than that, though, was the fact that she couldn't go out that night without risking waking Javier.

She'd been prepared to like Moody, but when he turned Draco into a ferret, she took an immediate dislike to the man. The fact he later did the three Unforgivable Curses in front of the students didn't help endear him to her at all. She even began to dislike Dumbledore for hiring the man in the first place.

When he cast the Imperius Curse on them – which she couldn't understand how he was getting away with, since the wards should be setting off alarm bells at all these Unforgivables – she had to resist going apoplectic with rage. Luckily for them, though, their unique condition made them immune to the spell. Still, when he later gave Neville a book that sounded very useful, about magical water plants of the Mediterranean, she later sneaked into Neville's room and copied it.

Worried about Moody's magical eye, she spent the first two months back refraining from shifting to her own form in case he spotted it somehow, since he could see through solid objects. It was a problem she needed to solve, and would require more information. Unfortunately, whenever she saw him on the Marauder's Map, he was always in his office; he seemed to sleep there, because he never moved. She was going to have to go out for more information. Luckily, this gave her a ready excuse for why she couldn't visit Draco, if she could ever find a way to get a message to him without that being spotted, too.

So, her second week back, she was roaming the halls behind members of staff, still in the body of whoever had been Out when they went to bed that night, in case Moody saw them. But for several weeks of wandering around like this, she never saw him even once.

Then, of course, came the day when she finally did see him. He was stumping around the corridor, so loudly she realized he probably didn't patrol because of it. Plus, he was so paranoid that it probably wasn't safe to let him patrol.

As soon as she saw him, he froze and turned to look right at her. The prefect she was tailing thought he was trying to talk to her instead, but Hypatia knew better. His magical blue eye could see through invisibility cloaks! That ruined her plans immediately. She wouldn't be able to meet with Draco until she had a plan to deal with Moody's eye. Luckily for her, he was leaving at the end of the year.

Thankfully, he didn't tell on her. But he did grin, a little, as though amused by how well she was hiding and sneaking around at night. He left without incident, but she was paranoid the whole way back to the Griffindor common room.

She tried for weeks to come up with a solution to the problem. She thought of Disillusionment Charms, but that probably wouldn't work for the same reasons the Invisibility Cloak didn't. Become an animagus? But he might notice that, or notice her attempts, and trace her back to the others. Of course, there was always the possibility he'd keep her secret, but information was power, and she didn't want to give that kind of power to someone she didn't like.

And then of course was the Triwizard Tournament. Al's flight from the school and subsequent splinching, which had infuriated her. And next, surprising even her, Chandra's sudden appearance. And he was all alone, the others in hiding.

“Are you Chandra Rahasyamay?” Dumbledore had said, and Hypatia had felt Chandra's confusion.

(You can do this,) she thought. But she didn't send it to Chandra. She had tried, of course, but Mother had told her it wasn't time yet. So she just watched, and listened to his thought processes, smiling at their familiarity. The images, jumbled up. The weird way of looking at the world. Something was not right, here. Where were his words?

But then he found them, straining himself the whole time. She felt the process of it, moving from images to rough sentences like ~Tall brightly-colored silver-haired circle-faced being with the living fire thing that makes soul-clicks,~ to ~Silver-haired tall man with glasses over starry eyes and the friendship of the flaming song-bird,~ to his eventual first words, “Silver Grandfather, with the fire-bird. The red and the gold. The silver and the blue. Starlight in the day.”

She cried a little at this (her Mask's weird emotional affect now affecting her permanently). It was going to be hilarious watching everyone try to figure out Chandra's weird speech patterns. She leaned back to enjoy the show, crying especially at Filch's response to the innocence of Chandra. It was like watching a very strange small child trying to adapt to being in a 14 year old body. She both laughed and cried, internally.

~ ~

Hypatia didn't get to talk with Chandra at all until the first night after Al's return. Al went to sleep, but Chandra stayed awake, in such a way that it wouldn't interfere with Hypatia.

~Auntie Megan? Are you there, Auntie Megan?~

(Yes, I'm here Chandra. It's good to see you again.)

~Likewise, Auntie Megan. Ah, but I see you have a new calling. Shall I---~

(No. Megan is fine, for you and me and Mother. I just... it's our special name. I don't want others using it.)

~Understood. Oh, and you have chosen a form at last. And you made a friend. Excellent. I am much pleased by this. Why are you crying?~

(I'm happy. It's the weirdest thing, this Mask I made, it must be wired wrong, and I haven't been able to fix it.)

~You are unique. There is nothing Wrong about that.~

(If you say so.)

~Hmm... I see you are having issues. The one with the blue Eye of Sauron, his all-seeingness disturbs you. You have not been seeing your friend.~

(No, I haven't. I wish I knew what to do.)

~I can sing a song to hide you. Down here in the Down-Below with you, more of my training comes to me, more readily. It is like the difference between the moon in daylight and the moon at night.~

(His eye sees through invisibility cloaks and Disillusionment Charms, Chandra.)

~Yes, but I think he will not see through this. We can attempt it in my body, as proof of concept. I am certain I can walk right by him and he won't see us.~

(Well, if you're sure, I guess it couldn't hurt.)

They surfaced, Chandra getting up and putting the invisibility cloak on.

~Shall we check the Marauder's Map, Aunt Megan?~

(No, there's no point. I think he's got it fooled somehow, it always shows him in his office. But I don't know for sure, I don't trust myself to take the Map with me.)

~Understood.~

Together they sneaked out of the room and down into the corridors of the school. As they began walking down to the common room, he began to sing a wordless song in their head. She smelled lavender for a moment, then it faded.

Getting into a routine, they followed behind Professor McGonagall on her patrol.

~Ah, this brings me back to when I thought she was another Percy Weasley. She of the green and the black, and the iron in her back.~

(Me too, kiddo. Me too.)

It took them awhile to find Moody. In the meantime, they passed right by Mrs. Norris, who didn't appear to smell them at all.

Moody turned out to be coming out of Snape's office for some reason. He grunted at an annoyed McGonagall and moved on. They saw his eye whiz past them, but it didn't slow down, and he gave no sign of seeing them.

Chandra waved under the cloak, but though he should have been able to see them, he didn't react as though he could.

(How are you doing that?)

~It is a different sort of magic. It is ritual magic. It demands a cost, a sacrifice to work, but its powers are greater than wand magic.~

(What did you sacrifice?)

~I sacrificed our ability to transform, for two days' time. But other sacrifices could be made.~

(Like what? I don't want to not be able to transform. I need to see Draco!)

~Well... I have an idea. It would satisfy the terms of the ritual yet not inconvenience you to sacrifice, for instance, your ability to cast a Patronus for a time.~

(And it only takes two days' worth of this to get past that eye of Moody's?)

~I believe so. Your own experiences may differ, I do not know. But you could try.~

(Are you going to be this much more knowledgeable and stuff every night?)

~We are of the darkness, you and Mother and I. We come alive during it. I have a day mode and a night mode, both very different. But yes, I can accompany you at night, much more useful than I would be in the day.~

(That sounds a bit like being a multiple within a multiple.)

~There is a diamond of truth in the rough of those words, Aunt Megan. My night memories are very different from my day memories. I will likely not even remember this conversation, in the morning. But I will again when the night returns.~

(Well in that case, we might as well go to the library, since we can't transform for another two days.)

~Just like old times, Aunt Megan.~

(Yes, just like old times, Chandra.)

Endnotes: This was originally just some back-story I wrote for the sleepwalker, without intending it to be a chapter, but it was so good I had to make it a chapter.

Part 3 of The Sleepwalker's Arc will continue in the next chapter. This one was already very long.

Hypatia/Megan is another one with no resemblance to anyone in my own collective. In fact, the inspiration for Hypatia (“how about someone who sneaks out at night to visit the library?”) goes to my friend Andrea.



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