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Chapter 24: CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR - Identity Revealed

That night at dinner, people loudly whispered about Harry and his shouting match with Umbridge. Most people didn't seem to be on his side, which angered him even further.

The four of them left the dining hall early and returned to the common room. The first reason being that neither Harry or Hermione could stand the gossiping voices any longer. The other reason was that Attuoria still had to explain to them what happened to her after she "disappeared" in year one.

"So what's the deal?" Ron grumbled, slumping onto an armchair by the fireplace. The common room was empty, with all the students still having dinner in the Great Hall.

"Attuoria here isn't human." Hermione announced grandly whilst stroking Crookshank's ginger fur.

Ron immediately straightened up. "I knew it. I literally knew it. You're part Veela."

"A… Veela?" Attuoria blinked a few times in confusion. Veelas were semi-human magical creatures with pearly white skin and white-gold hair. They looked like beautiful women on the outside, but once angered, they turned into fire-throwing bird monsters.

Hermione smacked her forehead at Ron's assumption. "Ron, what part of Attuoria's dark hair looks Veela to you?"

"Her face," said Ron bluntly.

"I said hair Ron -"

"How about we just let Attuoria tell her own story?" Harry interrupted, looking annoyed once again. The two looked like they were about to protest but then quieted down, moving their attention to Attuoria.

"So I'm not a Veela," Attuoria clarified. "I'm a Nightmare Demon."

When no one gave her any response, she continued. "I create nightmares for humans in a different dimension. I guess you could call it the spiritual dimension. I'm in the same realm as many other spirits, such as the Dream Angels, which isn't really what they're called but it's the best I can translate, or the Soulkeepers, who work for someone you guys might know as Death."

Hermione, who had heard the story already, stared at the two boys. They looked dumbstruck.

Attuoria then quickly explained that she left the mortal realm abruptly because she had spent too long without creating a full nightmare, leaving the specific details out. She told them that after the three years without human contact, her emotional gears have completely reset. It would take a long time for her to fully develop human emotions.

"I'm kind of here to understand the ways humans think and feel. I've always been curious about that," said Attuoria, just as students were coming back into the common room.

Ron stared at her with wide eyes. "Are you even real?"

"That would explain why you acted so weirdly when I first met you," said Harry. "Also explains the whole mind-reading business."

"I always thought you just didn't care about anything. Like, I thought that was your personality." said Ron.

"That is kind of confusing. Do I even have a personality?" asked Attuoria, talking to herself.

"So you guys believe her?" Hermione asked the two boys.

"I don't know what to believe anymore." Ron groaned, clutching his head and slumping even further down his armchair.

"We'll take your word for it." said Harry, giving Attuoria a nod.

"Speaking of believing things, how on Earth could Dumbledore let that terrible woman teach us?" Hermione cried, angrily slamming her fists onto her armchair. "Attuoria, you were reading her mind, weren't you? What did you see?"

Attuoria gave her an apologetic look. "Sorry, I wasn't. I just don't know why Umbridge thinks Voldemort's return is a lie. Dumbledore wouldn't hire an idiot, so she's clearly just in denial."

"Even Attuoria believes me and she wasn't in the human world for the past three years!" said Harry, his temper rising again. The students in the common room were staring at him, and it was irritating him a lot. "Do you even know who Voldemort is?"

"I've read enough history books to know," said Attuoria with a shrug. It's only been a few days, but she hasn't received any more news from the Dark Lord. At this point, he didn't seem as dangerous as Harry describes him to be.

Yet once again, he was the most powerful wizard alive, so there's no saying what he would or wouldn't do.

"Umbridge works for the ministry, doesn't she?" Attuoria suddenly said, an idea popping into her head.

"Yeah, she reports everything to Fudge. The Minister of Magic." said Hermione.

"Didn't you guys say the entire Ministry is trying to play off Voldemort's return as a lie?" Attuoria continued, and her friends nodded. "By ignoring the threat, they make themselves more vulnerable to Voldemort's attacks. And look at all the people who work for the Ministry that were also involved with Voldemort: Lucius Malfoy, Corban Yaxley, Augustus Rookwood, Walden Macnair. What if the Ministry is working with Voldemort?"

Her three friends looked absolutely horrified by Attuoria's conspiracy. She realised she probably should not have said that. It did reveal a little too much on how much information she knew about the Death Eaters. But at the same time, if Voldemort wasn't going to fill her in on his major plans, she might as well try and figure it out herself.

"Where on Earth did you get all those Death Eaters from?" Ron asked, looking a little scared of Attuoria now.

"I don't know. I just know. Probably read them somewhere. I never forget a name. Or anything, for that matter." Attuoria covered.

Hermione was quick to deny her conjecture. "No, the Ministry would never work with You-Know-Who. That's just not possible."

"Not if they were under intimidation, they won't." Harry pointed out. "I mean have you seen the state of Fudge?"

The four of them grew silent, avoiding each other's gaze.

"Oh come on," Hermione groaned, standing up from her chair. They followed her gaze to Fred, George and Lee Jordan, who were sitting in the corner of the room holding a paper bag to a bunch of first years. "They've gone too far. Come on, Ron."

"I - What? No, come on Hermione, we can't tell them off for giving out sweets." Ron shrunk back into his armchair, clearly playing for time.

"You know perfectly well that those are bits of Nosebleed Nougat or Puking Pastilles or -"

"Fainting Fancies?" Harry suggested quietly, watching the first years slump to the floor unconscious.

"They should make some Drop Dead Dew Drops." said Attuoria. Hermione marched over to the twins and began angrily scolding them. They didn't seem to mind at all.

"I would take one of those right now." Ron said meekly, grabbing the cushion on his chair and hugging it to his chest.

"Which one?" asked Harry.

"Drop Dead Dew Drops, if they made those." said Ron. "I'd take one every lesson. I'd rather drop dead in the middle of class than get a nosebleed, start puking, or faint."

"I don't know how that would work, though. Same with the Fainting Fancies," said Attuoria, watching Lee insert purple sweets into the mouths of each of the unconscious first years. "If the kids fainted, how are they gonna revive themselves with the counter-sweet?"

Ron shrugged. "Someone will help them I guess."

"If you dropped dead in the middle of class, you think someone would instinctively feed you candy? A funeral would be more likely." Harry snorted. "But if it meant skipping Umbridge's class, I suppose it wouldn't be too bad."

They looked at Hermione, who had thrown out the ultimatum and threatened to write to Mrs Weasley if the twins did anymore funny business. She stalked back to her friends, leaving Fred and George standing there looking thunderstruck.

"Thank you for your support, Ron," Hermione said, glaring at the redhead who had basically stuffed himself into the armchair.

"You handled it fine by yourself," Ron mumbled.

Hermione stood in front of the table, staring at the parchment she had laid out for her essay. "Nevermind, I can't do it. I'm going to bed." She snatched up all her belongings and stuffed them into her bag. "Attuoria?"

"You head up first. I'm gonna go talk to Fred and George." Attuoria said, standing up as well.

"Oh great," Hermione said with a sigh. "You'll knock some sense into them, won't you?"

Attuoria exchanged awkward glances with the two boys, who were supportive of her suggestion to implement Drop Dead Dew Drops a few minutes ago.

"No…" Hermione's eyes widened. "No, please don't give them any more ideas. Someone is actually going to get hurt."

"Okay, I won't. I'll just go and ask them a few questions."

"Alright, I trust you."

As Hermione went up to her dorm, Attuoria went over to Fred and George, who were still helping some of the first years stand back up.

"Hey," said Attuoria, stopping next to Fred. He was handing a short blonde boy a couple of bronze coins. Knuts, as she remembered from her first day with Hagrid.

"Hello Ms Knight!" Fred greeted dramatically, lowering his voice and putting on a heavy accent. "Would you fancy one of our Fainting Fancies?"

"Fancy seeing you try to make me eat one," replied Attuoria, glancing at the yellow and purple sweets.

"Is that a challenge?" Fred teased, snatching one out of the paper bag.

"Please don't."

"Just kidding, love! I'd never do that to you."

"I do have a question though," said Attuoria. "If suppose I ate one of your Fainting Fancies, how would I eat the antidote? I'd be unconscious, wouldn't I?"

"Simple, I'd just feed it to you. Wanna try?"

She ignored his comment. "But what if I didn't have any friends around to help me?"

"You have me!"

The two stared at each other, Fred with a cheeky grin on his face.

Attuoria knew he understood what she was trying to say, but he just wasn't responding seriously. She waved it off. "Anyways, Harry, Ron and I thought it'd be cool if you guys made Drop Dead Dew Drops or something like that. Ron said he'd buy it. Although I'm not sure you want to mess with Death and all that."

"I'm sure Granger would be livid."

"Well, I didn't tell her."

George finished paying the last first year and turned towards the two. "Did I just hear say Drop Dead Dew Drops?"

"Quite a catchy name, isn't it?" said Fred, handing his clipboard to George.

Attuoria suddenly realised that she hadn't told Fred and George of her "secret" yet.

"Are you guys free to talk right now?" she asked them.

The twins looked at each other. "Yeah, why?"

"We haven't had time to catch up yet. Come on," Attuoria grabbed each of them by the arm and dragged them over to the armchairs by the fire.

The common room was empty by the time Attuoria was done telling the twins of her true identity as a Nightmare Demon. Everyone had gone to sleep. The common room was dark apart from the fireplace next to them, which crackled every once in a while, it's flame slowly diminishing.

"I'm sorry this took up so much of your time. You probably have homework due tomorrow. I'll do them for you, if you want." Attuoria offered, thinking of the many times Harry and Ron asked her to do their homework for them but was stopped by Hermione.

"It's totally alright," said George, suppressing a yawn. "Like we always say, our future definitely lies beyond the world of academics."

"So that's why you act so different from the rest of us." said Fred, his fingers laced under his chin as his elbows rested on his knees.

"That's why she couldn't take a hint back then." George sniggered.

Fred slapped his brother weakly.

"Take what hint?" asked Attuoria.

"She still doesn't know," said George, pointing at her while looking at his twin.

"You could tell me…? Then I'll understand, right?" Attuoria was curious to know what hint she was supposed to take. Was there some special trick to learning magic that she didn't know?

"Fred will explain to you when he's ready, right Freddie?" George nudged him. Fred just stared at Attuoria. She wondered if she should take a look inside his mind, just to figure out for herself what was going on.

Attuoria decided not to. Fred was always so nice to her, so she should at least respect his privacy. George said Fred will explain when he's ready, so she'll just wait. It can't be that important, because then they would've told her already.

"You two are clearly way too tired," said Attuoria, noticing how quiet they were. "Go to sleep."

Fred mumbled something quietly into his hands.

"Seriously, go to sleep. Or I'll feed you a Fainting Fancy and then levitate you back up to your dorm." Attuoria teased, using Fred's own joke against him. But perhaps he was too tired, because he took it seriously.

"Do it." He said in an almost challenging tone, lifting his face off of his hands and trying to keep his eyes open.

"Fred let's go," said George, standing up and tugging on Fred's arm.

Fred groaned but stood up without further protest. The two were halfway to the staircase that led up to their dorm before Fred suddenly turned around. He ran back to where Attuoria was standing by the armchairs and locked her into a tight embrace.

"I'm glad you decided to come back." He mumbled into her hair.

Attuoria smiled, feeling the warmth of his body around hers. She gently patted his back.

"I'm glad I did, too."

Classes went by the next day without too much trouble. They were given a large amount of homework from every subject: Charms, Transfiguration, Care of Magical Creatures, and Herbology.

Charms and Transfiguration were easy for Attuoria. She had practised both the summoning charm and the vanishing spell to perfection over the summer. Care of Magical Creatures, on the other hand, didn't go too well.

It wasn't anything to do with the magical creatures. Attuoria handled the bowtruckles they were assigned to much better than the majority of the class. It was the drawing part that baffled her.

"What does she mean draw?" Attuoria muttered to herself, glancing down at the blank piece of parchment in her hands. She had never drawn before. "The name of the body parts are in my head already. Why can't I just remember it? Why do I have to draw?" she complained to Hermione, who had her eyebrows furrowed as she rapidly scratched her quill onto the parchment.

"She makes a fair point," said Ron. "Oi you stupid bowtruckle, stay still!"

Attuoria glanced at her own bowtruckle, which she had placed on top of a small rock. It was picking at a piece of grass. At least it was cooperating, which was a good sign.

Harry stomped over, looking very well pissed off. He told them that Malfoy had said something slightly suspicious about Hagrid's disappearance.

"Hagrid's gone?" asked Attuoria. The three of them glared at her. "What? I genuinely just thought he was out doing something."

"I thought so too, but now that Malfoy…" Harry trailed off.

"I'm sure Dumbledore would know if something happened to Hagrid," Hermione reassured, picking up the bowtruckle from the grass. "Malfoy's just trying to get a reaction out of you. Here, hold the bowtruckle for me while I draw it's face."

Draco and his Slytherin friends were loudly conversing nearby. They were talking about Hagrid.

"Harry, don't listen to them -"Attuoria tried to warn, reaching forward to stop Harry from crushing the bowtruckle in his hands, but it was too late. As the word "moron" left Draco's mouth, Harry's grip tightened into a fist. The small green creature pulled out it's long, sharp fingers and swiped two deep scratches onto Harry's hand. With a gasp of pain, he let go of the bowtruckle, who scampered away into the forest.

The Slytherins let out a roar of laughter at the sight of Harry's bleeding hand.

Attuoria could feel... anger, bubbling up from somewhere inside of her. Her friend's bleeding hand was not something to laugh about. She didn't like how anger was the one emotion she always learned first. But she supposed hanging out around Harry did contribute to that.

"If he calls Hagrid a moron one more time..." Harry said through gritted teeth, grabbing the handkerchief Hermione handed him and wrapping it around his hand.

Attuoria glared at the group in black and green robes. Their smirks and laughter sounded wrong compared to the laughter she's heard from her friends. The basis of their laughter wasn't happiness, it was sadism.

She didn't like sadism. The human body was precious. Everyone only has one body, even a Nightmare Demon like her. This was her one and only body. There was no second. Any physical harm done to the human body created a lasting, negative effect. In no way should it be associated with happiness or laughter. Neither should mental pain be of laughing matter. The human mind was weak and vulnerable, filled with emotions and irrationality. Humiliation and other mental sufferings were not to be joked about.

Despite not being human herself, Attuoria was curious enough about humans to know their limits. She knew humans liked to make things up about being reincarnated or reborn, just to make themselves feel better about death. But that simply wasn't the case. When humans die, they're dead. There's no coming back.

Even though she was immortal, she still had to fight to stay alive. Every nightmare she created was for survival. Without nightmares, she wouldn't exist. But she was lucky. Her basis of existence only depended on one thing. Humans, on the other hand, were so much more fragile. Yet they joked about suffering, joked about harming one another, and joked about death.

She realised, for the first time in her life, she despised something. She despised the ignorance many humans had of how precious life was.

Attuoria stood up abruptly, letting her parchment fall to the floor. Her bowtruckle hopped onto her arm and clutched the sleeve of her robe.

"Attuoria, no, please sit down." Hermione pleaded.

"At least someone wants to stand up to Malfoy," muttered Harry, who gave Attuoria a slightly encouraging-looking wince of pain. The handkerchief around his hand had turned blotchy with his blood.

"If anyone should go, it's Attuoria." said Ron. "She always shuts him up right away."

Attuoria wasn't even sure what she was going to do. The anger had clouded her head. She tried hard to think clearly through the emotions, but it was no use. Anger was now wired in her mind.

Before she could even realise what was happening, she found herself face to face with Crabbe and Goyle. At the sight of her, the two immediately stopped guffawing.

Fear radiated off of them, and Attuoria's energy for her anger only grew.

Draco pushed himself through between his two cronies, standing in front of Attuoria with a smug look on his face.

"Angry today, aren't we?" He sneered, playing on the fact that he knew Attuoria lacked emotions. But his sentence did nothing to her. Some part of her was proud that she was now capable of being angry. She was one step closer to fully understanding the ways of humans.

"When will you ever learn to keep your mouth shut?" Attuoria managed in the calmest voice she could. "Some day, it's going to bite you back."

"Oh look, Knight here is giving me advice!" Draco mocked, glancing at his cronies, who chuckled nervously. Only Pansy cackled a loud, high pitched sound. "I don't need you to tell me what to do."

But then she heard his thoughts.

"She's always standing up for Potter and his friends. What is she thinking? She works for the Dark Lord now. I'm the one she's supposed to be with. I'll be a Death Eater soon, too. Maybe she'll only talk to me once I get recognition from the Dark Lord. To her, I'm just another stupid Slytherin like the rest of my 'friends'."

Attuoria's gaze softened slightly once she heard what he was thinking. He wanted her respect. He thought that them both being related to the Dark Lord meant they were supposed to be friends. He wanted her to care about him. Except Attuoria wasn't going to give him respect if it wasn't reciprocated. And clearly, as of right now, it wasn't.

Her anger had cooled slightly after all the thoughts that went through her head. The sadistic laughter had stopped as well, which helped to calm her down. Technically, she shut them up, so her job was done.

But she wasn't going to leave without saying anything back, because then the Slytherins, thinking she admitted defeat, were definitely going to start laughing again. An idea flashed through her mind. Attuoria didn't have emotions, which meant others couldn't use it against her. But she could still play with their emotions.

"Well that's too bad," Attuoria said, lowering her voice but keeping her tone confident. She leaned in closer to Draco. "Because I will."

Satisfied with the silence of the crowd, she turned around, ready to leave.

Draco grabbed onto her arm. Before she could even react, the bowtruckle on her sleeve beat her to it. A flash of green shot up Draco's arm and headed straight for his face. He let out a shriek of panic, waving his arms wildly to try and hit it off.

The entire class was attracted by the commotion, and Professor Grubbly-Plank let out a yell to the students.

Attuoria knew exactly what the bowtruckle was trying to do. It was trying to gouge out Draco's eyes. Sure she was annoyed at Draco, but she didn't want him to come to any physical harm. If anything, she actually cared about him.

In hopes of stopping the angered bowtruckle, Attuoria rushed forwards and grabbed onto each of Draco's arms. She pressed them behind his back before quickly, using her other free hand, scooping the bowtruckle off his face, which had thankfully not gotten to his eyes yet.

Draco, shaken from the attack, gingerly opened his eyes once the creature was no longer on his face. Attuoria still had her arm around him, trapping his arms behind his back.

"My goodness!" Professor Grubbly-Plank shouted, finally pushing her way through the crowd that had gathered around them. She glanced at Attuoria and Draco, blinking awkwardly at their intimate position.

Attuoria let go of Draco's arms and he quickly pushed her away from him, smoothing out his hair and standing up straight. "Her bowtruckle attacked me!" said Draco, immediately bringing the blame to her.

Professor Grubbly-Plank looked at Attuoria, who's bowtruckle stood on her palm, looking ready to fight anyone who comes close.

"How did you manage to form such a close bond with the bowtruckle in, what, twenty minutes of work time?" said the Professor, a look of shock on her face.

"Sorry?" Attuoria asked.

"Your bowtruckle. It thinks you're its tree. Mr Malfoy must've attempted to get close to you, so it attacked, thinking he was a threat."

"I'm not a tree." said Attuoria, blankly stating the obvious.

"Exactly…" Professor Grubbly-Plank stared at the bowtruckle curiously.

The bell rang, and all the students immediately dispersed from the crowd to grab their bags.

Attuoria tried to place her bowtruckle back on to the table, but everytime she turned around to leave it would just jump back onto her sleeve. She glanced at Professor Grubbly-Plank for help.

"This has never happened before," the professor said. "In normal circumstances, I would never let you take a magical creature to another class. But at the same time, I can't force it off you, because it'll attack me."

Seeing that even the teacher didn't know what to do, Attuoria sighed. "It's okay. It's not the first time something like this has happened to me. I'll deal with it. Is it okay if I just keep it?"

Professor Grubbly-Plank nodded. "Don't try to cast a spell on it, though. It'll just dodge it."

"Yep, I won't." Attuoria dropped the bowtruckle into the front pocket of her robe before picking up her bag.

After Herbology lessons, Attuoria asked Professor Sprout if she had a tree sapling that could be brought up to the dorm. Professor Sprout, upon understanding her situation with the bowtruckle, gave her a pot containing a young Wiggentree.

"You'll be protected from dark creatures now that you have that," Professor Sprout said, watching Attuoria place her bowtruckle onto one of the branches.

"Thank you, Professor." Attuoria slung her book bag over her shoulder and picked up the pot with two hands.

"No worries. I trust you'll take very good care of both the tree and the bowtruckle." Professor Sprout gave her a kind smile and returned to her work in the greenhouse.

Attuoria headed back to her dorm and put everything in place on top of the dresser next to her bed. She stared at the bowtruckle for a bit, watching it climb around the tree. She stuck her hand out to the creature, and it nimbly jumped onto her palm.

"Don't worry about me, okay? If someone touches your tree, you can attack them, but don't actually hurt them. We both might get in trouble." Attuoria said quietly to the bowtruckle, simultaneously projecting her thoughts into its mind. It gave her a little bow before jumping back onto the tree.

Satisfied with the bowtruckle's response, she went down to the Great Hall for dinner.


CREATORS' THOUGHTS
sayhellotohanna sayhellotohanna

~

published 22/11/2020

A/N: Sometimes I wish I could just be like Attuoria and not give a crap about emotions. But unfortunately, I'm just as human as Harry. Oh well! Hope you enjoyed this chapter :)

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