Disclaimers:  I do not own Harry Potter or any of its characters.  I am only borrowing them for the sole purpose of
entertainment and nothing else.  No money is being made from this.

Notes:  The group heads to Hogwarts.



Sordidus Ars Magica
(Sordid Sorcery)



Part Four


Hermione paced nervously in front of her trunk, waiting impatiently for Ron and Harry to arrive at the platform.  Crookshanks
just watched her, as Hermione muttered nervously.  She wondered if Ron had been exaggerating when he had written to her
and told her about Harry’s health.  It just didn’t sound true.  At least she hoped it wasn’t true.

She was just about ready to leave the platform and go looking for them, when she saw Sirius walk onto it.  She gasped, seeing
that he was carrying Harry in his arms, and judging by what she could see of Harry she knew that Ron had not exaggerated his
condition.  What wasn’t covered by his clothes was almost all wrapped in bandages, all of his fingers included.

Harry’s head was resting against Sirius’s shoulder, one arm loosely draped around Sirius’s neck while the other lay in his own
lap.  He looked so tired, half asleep in his godfather’s arms.  However, he still smiled when he saw Hermione, even if the smile
faded within a few seconds and ended with him wincing and touching his bandaged fingers to his cracked lips.

“Harry?  Are you okay?”  Hermione asked, deeply concerned.

“I’m tired.”  Harry replied weakly, blinking his eyes and sighing wearily.

Ron cleared his throat and for the first time Hermione noticed that he was walking right behind Sirius, his mother and Ginny
both accompanying them.  Fred and George were there, but only to carry Harry’s luggage, since they weren’t going to
Hogwarts this year.

“You weren’t kidding in your letter, Ron.  Sorry I doubted you.”  Hermione said, picking up Crookshanks.

“No harm done.”  Ron shrugged, glancing over at Harry once.

Sirius sighed.  “Let’s get Harry on the train before we draw a crowd.”  He said, quickly stepping past them and climbing
onboard.  Hermione and the others quickly followed.  Well, they followed as quickly as they could considering that they had
luggage to bring aboard.  Sirius found an empty compartment in the back of the last car.  He laid Harry down along one of the
seats, letting Harry use his lap as a pillow.  By then, Harry was already asleep, exhausted without having done anything
normally considered strenuous.  Of course in his condition, breathing was probably strenuous to him.

Fred and George left just after they had gotten Harry’s stuff on the train and Ginny went to share a compartment with her own
friends, saying that she wanted to give them room.  Hermione knew this had to be upsetting for Ginny.  She’d had a crush on
Harry for a couple years now, so it was probably rough for her to see Harry all beaten as he was.

Hermione sat beside Ron, setting Crookshanks down on the floor and watching Harry with a deep sense of worry eating at her
heart.  Her eyes roamed over all the bandages on Harry’s thin body, taking note of the bloodstained wrappings around his
fingers.  She felt embarrassed, but couldn’t help but ask the question nagging at her mind.

“Weren’t any healing charms used on him at all?”  She asked quietly.

Sirius sighed deeply, his hand gently weaving through Harry’s hair.  “Yes, Mrs. Weasley did what she could.  He honestly
looks better than when I first took him from the Dursleys.  He’s regained some color.  The fever is gone now.  And his eye isn’
t swelled shut anymore.”

“He looked a lot worse when Sirius brought him to my house, Hermione.”  Ron said sadly, his head bowed.  “You don’t know
how bad.”

Hermione nodded, biting her bottom lip as she watched the steady rise and fall of Harry’s chest as he breathed.  She felt foolish
even as she did so, but inside she worried that perhaps if she didn’t watch, he’d just suddenly stop breathing.

While she was watching him, the train pulled away from the station.  She hadn’t noticed.


*****


Ron watched the passing scenery impassively, his eyes continually roaming without his knowledge to look at Harry.  A few
minutes after they pulled away from the station, he heard Sirius speaking to him.  “I think we should get him to eat something
now.”  Sirius said calmly.  “If he’s this tired, I rather he eat now and just rest for the remainder of the trip.”

Ron nodded, reaching into a bag his mother had given him and pulled out a covered bowl and a spoon.  His mother had made
some soup for Harry to eat on the way to Hogwarts.  He still couldn’t eat solid foods, not with those missing teeth or the cut
on the inside of his mouth anyway.

“Hermione, could you get Harry’s robes out?  We might as well get him in those now as well.”  Sirius asked.

“You mean he’s not going straight to the Hospital Wing?”  Hermione gasped, incredulously.  “But he’s hurt . . . badly.  He
shouldn’t be going to the feast in his condition.”

“I want . . . to see . . . the sorting.”  Harry’s feeble voice responded, his green eyes glittering like gems as he looked at her.  “I
have to.”

“He’s very insistent on going.”  Sirius sighed, gently helping Harry into a sitting position, then keeping his arms around him to
make sure he didn’t fall over.  “We’ve tried for days to talk him out of it.”

“You know how stubborn he can be.”  Ron said.

Hermione nodded.  “Fine.  I think it’s an awfully stupid idea, but I know you won’t change your mind once you’re set on
doing something.  You’re going straight to Madam Pomfrey the minute the feast is over though, and I won’t take no for an
answer.”  She said forcefully.

Harry smiled a little, and nodded.  “Agreed.”

“Good, now, can we get some food into Harry now that you’ve settled that?”  Ron asked, taking the lid off of the bowl.

Hermione retrieved Harry’s robes, then helped him to put them on before they fed him.  Sirius let Harry lean back against him,
while Ron sat on what little space there was left on the seat beside Harry.  Ron took a spoonful of the soup from the bowl and
held it to Harry’s lips, only to frown as Harry turned away.

“Come on now, you have to eat.”  Ron said, once again lifting the spoon for him only to have Harry turn away once more.

“It hurts.”  Harry whispered, looking down.

Ron turned to Hermione, thinking that perhaps she might need an explanation.  “He lost a few of his teeth and the inside of his
mouth is cut up pretty badly.  This happens a lot, him refusing to eat.”  Ron said, then turned to Sirius.  “You did bring his
teeth so that Madam Pomfrey can fix them back in, right?”

Sirius nodded.  “Of course.  I have them wrapped up in my pocket.”

Ron didn’t say anything further on that subject.  He still wanted to get Harry to eat some of the soup.  “Come on, Harry.  My
Mum made this special just for you.  Plus it’s got some of those herbs in it that’ll dull the pain for you.  If you eat this maybe
you won’t pass out before the feast is over.”

“All right.  I’ll eat.”  Harry conceded, opening his mouth and accepting a spoonful of soup the next time Ron held it against his
lips.

Harry obediently ate until the bowl was empty.  Of course it had only been half full to begin with.  Mrs. Weasley knew that
Harry didn’t have much of an appetite right now.  He was still building up his strength after months of near-starvation.  

Once Harry was finished, Ron got up off the seat and returned to his own, placing the bowl, spoon, and lid back into the bag.  
He watched as Hermione helped Sirius to lay Harry down along the seat, once again using his godfather’s lap as a pillow.  
Harry fell asleep within minutes while Sirius gently stroked his fingers across his scalp.

“I’m going to need you two to take him to the feast and afterwards to Madam Pomfrey.”  Sirius said.  “Dumbledore has to
introduce me as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor and I have to dine at the staff table.”

“I understand.”  Hermione replied.  “We’ll see to it he gets to the Hospital Wing okay.”  She paused for a moment, then smiled.  
“I’m happy you got the position.”  

“So am I, Hermione . . . I get to keep a close watch on Harry here.  And he’ll never go back to those Muggles again,” he said,
his tone betraying his bitterness.

Hermione looked down.  “Not all Muggles are that bad, sir,” she said quietly, almost too low to hear.

Sirius sighed.  “I apologize . . . I didn’t mean it as a random generalization.  It’s just I can’t stand to see Harry hurt like this.  I
lost my temper and I apologize.  I know not all Muggles are bad.  I had several friends who were Muggles, before I went to
Azkaban.”

Ron tuned out the rest of the conversation, deciding to focus his attention on the world outside his window.  He watched as
everything raced by him, losing himself in the passing scenery, the sound of the train rolling across the tracks.  He’d rather not
keep his mind on the events happening inside the compartment at the moment, not when he’d only end up thinking about Harry
and how badly hurt he is.


*****


Harry blearily opened his eyes as he felt someone shake him gently.  He groaned, wincing as Sirius helped him to sit up.

“We’re here, Harry.”  Sirius said, getting up and pulling Harry to his feet.

Harry stood shakily, praying silently that he wouldn’t fall down and break something.  He felt the world spinning around him
and lost track of what was up and what was down.  He was sure that he was falling until he felt Ron and Hermione take a
place on either side of him, helping him to leave the compartment.  Harry looked back at Sirius, confused.

“I’ll see you later, Harry.  Ron and Hermione are going to take you the rest of the way.”  Sirius said, giving a short little wave.

Harry nodded, allowing himself to be led from the compartment.  Everything went fine for a while, although Harry was a little
nervous with all the whispering that seemed to follow him, knowing that people were looking at him and pitying him for his
injuries.  Then things went from bad to worse.  Ron stepped down off the train first, taking hold of Harry’s wrist while
Hermione stayed behind him.  However, as Harry was taking a step down, he lost his footing, stumbling.

Harry closed his eyes, thinking for sure that he would hit the ground and crack his skull.  The ground never came though.  
Instead, something a good deal softer, but still painful, caught and held him.  He clenched his eyes shut, yelping in pain as
contact was made with the bruises on his aching body.  

After a moment, where he took several short gasping breaths, Harry opened his eyes and smirked when he saw Hagrid's face
looming above him.  “Hello, Hagrid.”  Harry said, trying to sound cheerful.

“Harry?  Is that yeh?”  Hagrid asked, carefully setting Harry down on his feet.  Ron and Hermione immediately came up on
either side of him, holding him steady as they took hold of either of his arms.  “Those Dursleys did this, eh?”  Hagrid asked, his
tone booming.

“I’m all right, Hagrid.”  Harry assured his friend.  “I won’t be going back to them again . . . I’ll be fine,” he said.

“Yeh sure yeh don’ want me roughin’ them Dursleys up a bit?”  Hagrid asked, a mischievous twinkle in this eyes.

Harry smiled, but shook his head.  “No, Sirius took care of Vernon.  As long as I don’t have to go back I’ll be fine.”  Harry
smirked.

“Righ’ noble of yeh Harry.”  Hagrid smiled.  “If yeh need me, yeh know where to find me.”  Then with one last smile to Harry
and the others, Hagrid walked off to escort the first years to the school.

“Come on, let’s get inside.”  Ron gently urged, getting Harry into a carriage.  When the carriage stopped, he was helped out
again.  “You okay, Harry?”  Ron asked as they walked.

Harry nodded, shuffling his feet as Ron and Hermione led him along.  He didn’t really pay attention to where he was going,
trusting that his friends wouldn’t lead him into a wall or anything.  He rested his tired eyes, raising his feet as high as he could
whenever either of them told him to step up, just trying to concentrate on staying conscious.

“Harry Potter!”  Professor McGonagall’s voice called out rather loudly, a short time after they had entered the castle.  

Harry opened his eyes, noticing that everyone was continuing on ahead other than him and his two friends.  He looked up,
trying not to panic as he saw McGonagall staring down at him.  “Yes, Professor?”  he asked, weakly.

There were tears in the teacher’s eyes as she looked at Harry.  He was sure that any minute now she would break into sobs.  
However, she kept her cool and just yelled at him.  “You get to Madam Pomfrey at once!  You’re in NO condition to be sitting
in the Great Hall.”

Harry sighed, taking a breath as he struggled for words.  “But . . . I have to,” he said, glad that no one but the four of them
could hear anything that was being said.

“HAVE to?  Why ever for?”  McGonagall asked, her hands on her hips.

“Because, if I don’t see it for myself, I won’t believe I’m actually here,” Harry said, his voice choking on him as he spoke.  He
couldn’t stop the tears that fell from his eyes and frankly he was too tired to care if he was crying or not.  “I HAVE to at least
see the sorting ceremony.  I don’t want to wake up . . . there . . . again.”

McGonagall’s face had softened considerably.  “Why will the ceremony convince you?”  She asked.

“The hat never says the same rhyme twice,” Harry replied.

For a brief moment, McGonagall smiled at Harry.  She took a handkerchief from her sleeve and wiped it across Harry’s face,
drying his tears gently.  “Well, go on then, the ceremony should be starting soon.”

“Thank you, Professor.”  Harry said, smiling only slightly, so that it wouldn’t cause him too much pain.

Ron and Hermione once again led Harry.  A few steps away from McGonagall, Hermione spoke, her voice quiet.  “So that’s
why you’re so eager to see the ceremony.  I’m sorry I said it was a stupid idea,” she apologized.

Harry nodded, finding it too much to try and speak again.  He merely concentrated on walking, keeping his feet moving.  He
didn’t want to stumble, especially once they stepped into the Great Hall.  Harry could feel everyone’s eyes turn to him, knew
that the entire student body and probably all of the staff were watching him.  Draco Malfoy was probably joking with his
cronies over Harry’s condition.  And Snape probably wasn’t all that upset either.

A number of their fellow Gryffindors parted, to give the three of them room to sit.  Harry had to bite his bottom lip to keep
from crying out in pain.  It was a strain on his injuries to sit there at the table.  When he was sitting, Ron and Hermione took
their hands away from him and sat on either side of him, apparently trying not to stare at him constantly.  Harry set his arms on
the table, not caring about proper manners at the moment as he leaned forward a bit, not trusting his body to stay upright for
too long.

Not a word was spoken at the Gryffindor table.  While the other tables had gone back to having various conversations, the
Gryffindor table was oddly quiet.  Thankfully, Dumbledore broke the unbearable silence that was making Harry nervous.  The
Sorting Hat was brought out, and Harry gave his complete attention to the ceremony, listening carefully.

After the first few sentences, the adrenaline started to seep away.  It was different.  The song was different.  He was really at
Hogwarts.  It wasn’t just some delusion conjured by his mind to torment him.  He cast his glance up at Sirius, and when he
saw him at the table with the other teachers, a flood of euphoria filled him.  He really wouldn’t have to go back to the Dursleys.

With that thought firmly set in his mind, he became quite lightheaded.  He swayed a bit, almost falling from his seat, only to be
caught by Ron and Hermione.  He inhaled sharply as the contact set off numerous pains in his body.  After a few moments he
was able to regain his balance and Ron and Hermione let go of him.

“Are you okay, Harry?”  Neville asked.

Harry looked up and smiled a little.  “I’ll be fine,” he replied quietly.

A few minutes later, after all the new students were sorted into their houses, the food appeared on the tables in the Great Hall.  
Harry was a bit hungry, although the prospect of eating didn’t thrill him.  His mouth still hurt a good deal.  However, he did
make the attempt, picking out only soft foods so that it would hurt less.

Seamus started a conversation about his summer, drawing the attention away from Harry.  It felt good not to be the center of
attention for a change.  Harry was grateful to Seamus for bringing up a topic to discuss and for the fact that they were treating
him as if nothing were wrong.  He knew they were all trying to make him feel better, to keep him from getting self-conscious
and it was working beautifully.

When the feast was over, everyone started filing out of the room.  Ron and Hermione helped Harry up, carefully moving
through the crowd of people on their way to the Hospital Wing.  Just as they got outside the hall, they were forced to stop.  
Draco Malfoy was blocking their path, his two lackeys on either side of him.

Draco’s face held a smug expression and knowing Draco this wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience for Harry.  “Looks like
Potter finally got his comeuppance!  The Muggles finally beat him down to the ditch where he belongs.  I guess he’s not so
great after all.”  Draco smirked, his arms crossed over his chest.  Crabbe and Goyle both laughed at the comment.

Ron and Hermione weren’t all that pleased however.  If he weren’t busy holding Harry up, Ron probably would have punched
Draco right in that arrogant face of his.  And Hermione, she’d probably help Ron to hold him down.  Harry didn’t react at all.  
He merely stared down at the floor, too tired to care about Draco or his insults.

“Mr. Malfoy, I am sure that your time can be put to more constructive uses than to stand there and insult someone who is
injured,” a voice from behind Draco said.  Harry looked up, only to see Snape’s sneering face looking down on them.  “Five
points from Slytherin for obstructing their path.  Now, would you be so good as to move out of their way?”

Draco looked shocked, his mouth hanging open.  Of course this was a very surprising situation, since Snape never took points
from Slytherin.  It was so unusual.  If Harry could, he would have smirked at the expression on Draco’s face, watching as the
blonde moved aside and left the area, Crabbe and Goyle following him.

Snape turned his attention to the crowd.  “Clear the way,” he said, the students parting almost immediately.  He looked down at
Ron and Hermione.  “Bring him this way,” he said, then strode away, his robes flowing behind him.

For a moment, Ron, Hermione and Harry just gaped at Snape’s retreating form.  Harry wondered if the Potions teacher had
been hit with a curse or something.  It certainly wasn’t normal behavior for the man.  However, the moment passed and Ron
and Hermione once again began leading Harry down the corridor, taking him to the Hospital Wing where he could get some
help and rest.



To Be Continued . . .