Conspiracies and Riddles

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Harry's POV

The fire crackled in the corner of the room and while it helped to warm the room, it did nothing to warm the chill between the students. News of Professor Elric's collapse had circulated quickly through the students and even staff. Since the end of the day, you couldn't enter a room or walk down a hallway without being bombarded with questions. As soon as we had entered the common room, the other students had erupted into a roar, everyone asking the fourth years what had happened to the new alchemy professor.

To say everyone was frightened was putting it lightly. A professor had never lost composure like that before. I knew no one was perfect, but in the eyes of students, professors were unstoppable. They were skilled in the magical arts, and in this case, alchemy. They were poised and proper. It was unheard of for a professor to just collapse in front of the entire class. It sparked fear among the students. If it had gotten back home to parents, Professor Elric's credibility would be questioned.

"He had a scar on his shoulder," Hermonie said abruptly. I looked up from my potions book that I wasn't really reading. There were too many thoughts rushing through my brain to do much focusing. Her face was pale and her hands were shaky as she flipped through the pages of her own potions book.

"And?" I pressed, not really sure where she was going with this. Nearly everyone had scars. Hell, I had one right on my forehead.

"The scar on his shoulder was huge. By the looks of it, he's lucky he didn't lose his arm," Hermione explained, snapping her book closed and getting more comfortable on her chair. I took this as a sign that I wasn't about to get any work done this evening.

"Bloody hell, Hermione, I knew you fancied the professor, but enough to stalk him while he's half naked?" Ron joked, still looking through one of his books. He didn't see the book Hermione was swinging at him until it hit him over the back of the head.

"Ronald!" she gasped, her face a deep shade of red. Yeah, the comment may have been a little inappropriate, but it was pretty funny. "When I went to ask him about Human Transmutation, he had a tank-top on!" she exclaimed. "He wasn't half naked, and I wasn't stalking him," she snapped, continuing to hit Ron's shoulder with the heavy potions book.

I hid a snicker behind a hand, not wanting to receive that same treatment as my red-haired friend. As funny as it was to watch the two of them squawk back and forth at each other, Hermione still hitting Ron with the book, the brunette genius had brought up an important piece of information.

That scar. I obviously hadn't seen the scar first hand, but I remember Hermione being terribly pale when she had come back from speaking with the blonde professor. I knew he had yelled at her, but knowing my friend, she would have been more embarrassed than anything. Instead, she looked like a muggle who had seen a ghost. When I had pressed, she had snapped at me and gone up to bed. The rest of the evening, the question of what could have frightened Hermione bothered me until I fell asleep that night. We had all seen some terrible things the past three years of being at Hogwarts, and I had only seen that look on her face a few times before.

"You think the scar on his shoulder has anything to do with why he fell?" I asked, trying to get Hermione to stop whacking her friend with the heavy textbook. The girl huffed before settling herself, her cheeks still tinged with a pink flush. She straightened out her skirt and folded her hands in her lap as she turned her attention to me.

"Yes. Even after all these years, I've never seen a scar like that before. From what it looked like, it wrapped all the way around his shoulder," she explained while Ron continued to nurse his hurting shoulder, though he was looking more interested in the conversation now. "It's likely that he was injured elsewhere as well, like his leg," she continued.

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