It's strange, but all of the other concerns that once figured so largely in my life - Dueling Club, dress robes, even my hopeless crush on Sirius - have all receded to some quiet little place in the back of my mind since the start of term. I'm just so weary these days that it's becoming impossible to focus on everything at once. I haven't even found the time to write in this diary!
I started going to the Forbidden Forest at night almost immediately, even with Dueling Club and lessons. Now I've argued with Firenze, my N.E.W.T. study is going terribly, and I can barely keep my eyes open even during Defense Against the Dark Arts and Care of Magical Creatures. Mum's already sent me a Howler about schoolwork. Said she could sense all the way from home that I wasn't living up to my potential.
I don't think anyone else suspects what I've been up to; at least, no one has said anything to me about it - yet. I was so angry just a few minutes ago at Firenze for refusing to help me, but I know too that I should have expected it. He's always been maddeningly vague for a creature who can See. Like that 'great secret' he used to go on about, something about a rat among the wolf, the stag, and the dog, and all four protected by the halls of Hogwarts, 'even in the Forest bounds.' Firenze would never say more than that, and what little I do have of it only came out in trickles here and there over the past few years.
But tonight he spoke of the coming war, and although a part of me has known it to be true for some time now, I'm still frightened. So few people are truly aware of the scale of what is happening. The only reason Mum told me was because of Great-Aunt Margot's disappearance. How else could she explain it, after all?
One can only imagine what it will take to expose the entire wizarding world to - he calls himself Lord Voldemort, but Mum says his real name is Tom Riddle and that he was a student here at Hogwarts years ago, and Head Boy at that. It seems hard to reconcile the two images (and I guess that's why among those who do know, there are many who refuse to believe), but it's true, and it's terrible. Even in the short time we've been at Hogwarts this term, he has only gained more power and followers - and hurt and killed more innocent Muggles, wizards, and witches; not just Muggle-borns but half-bloods like me, and even some purebloods who stood up to him. With what little the Ministry has been able to discover, that number may include my great-aunt, by now.
Even so, maybe Firenze is right. Maybe I should give up visiting the Forest, trying to fight evil from the confines of Hogwarts, at least for now. Focus on my classes and my friends and make the most of my last year at Hogwarts, like everyone else. But - I know something is happening, something so huge - and Firenze is the only one who could help me. Until tonight, I thought he would. He may still, despite what he said in the Forest. I'll just have to figure out another way of finding out what I need to know. Until then, though, I'm going to concentrate on the most important things in my life right now - friends and school, and hope for the best. Lily's been so quiet with those terrible dreams, and I'm afraid I've been neglecting everyone else as well.
I really must schedule a Dueling Club practice; we're running terribly behind. With Bellatrix and her cronies climbing the team ladder with their almost-but-not-quite-Dark spellcasting at every meeting, the rest of us need all the practice we can get, too.