Chapter 24 : As the Sand Runs Low
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“Why do you need to know about that dear boy?” Dumbledore asked looking to Draco.
“Hagrid told us about her, that there was no ‘Libra in the Lake’ but a ‘Lady of the Lake’ and he then said you knew more about the olden days then he did, so we came here.” Ginny said.
“Hagrid is back? Well Miss Weasley and Mr. Malfoy would you please take a seat next to Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley. I hate to inform the two of you, but Hagrid has led you away from your search. The Lady of the Lake is but an old fairy tale, and barely true in any aspect. Nonetheless I have read over the copy Harry had made of the riddle and it seems as though the four of you should be in the lake right about now searching for some Buccas.”
“We wasted over an hour with Hagrid and it got us nowhere?” Draco practically jumped out of his own seat.
“Dumbledore what are the Buccas?” Harry asked ignoring Draco’s outburst.
“Well, I’m not positive, but they are quite a lot like Thestrals. Only the Thestral’s power to be seen is not held in the Bucca. They are resembled in only their appearance. A Bucca is much like a horse, only with sticky scales in place of fur. Now the Bucca is a tricky creature. When they leave water they are able to throw their appearance to seem exactly like a true horse, and sound like one. Now there is a tale about a certain Bucca that was born in the beginning of the month of October when all the other Bucca colts had been born in June giving it the name Libra of the Lake. I do not understand why Hagrid would have overlooked that simple fact.” Dumbledore thought aloud to himself.
“So we have to catch one of these things within,” Ron looked at the clock near him, “less than seven hours?”
“Sadly. Now there is one way to make the search quicker for you. But only Harry will be able to carry out this task. You must bring a Thestral over to the banks of the lake and allow it to drink from the water. Then I suggest you run, quickly. The Bucca and the Thestrals are both predators, and compete with each other. So if your lucky a Bucca may come to the surface.”
“Uh, what?” Harry asked shocked. “I have to lead a Thestral to the lake where its most likely going to be killed?”
“Precisely. Either that or the Bucca may be killed.” Everyone looked at Dumbledore like he had completely lost it. “Oh don’t worry, the Bucca should survive.”
“What do we do once the Bucca is caught, it’s not like they can talk.” Draco said.
“Well the Libra will have an Orange Citrine Stone at the base of it’s neck. Somehow the stone had been lodged into the creature at birth, well no one really knows. But that’s the only way you will be able to tell which is the correct Bucca. If and when you find the right one, you’ll need to stun it before any one of you can get injured or worse. Now don’t worry I’ll travel to the lake with you to make sure nothing terrible happens, but please be careful anyway.” The four students look at eachother with unsure glances before the Headmaster shooed them away with himself in tow.
Harry trudged through the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid beside him carrying a large slab of meat.
“Hey Hagrid. Why didn’t you think of the Buccas at first instead of the Lady of the Lake?” Harry asked curiously looking up to his friend.
“Lady of the Lake? ‘Arry I ‘aven’t a clue wha’ you’re talking ‘bout.” Harry had to slow his pace a little at what Hagrid had just said.
“You know, the Lady of the Lake. You were with Draco and Ginny for almost an hour telling them about it trying to help us figure out this riddle about Hermione.”
“’Ermione? Dumbledore ‘as ‘ad me lookin’ fer her these pas’ few days. I ‘aven’t seen any of you lot fer atleast four days.”
“Hagrid? Can you bring the Thestral to the lake yourself? I need to go back and talk to Dumbledore.”
“Nope, you can only see them Thestrals ‘Arry.” Hagrid said throwing the meat down into the same small clearing as he did in Harry’s fifth year. “It’ll only be ‘nother couple minutes.” Harry began to see the familiar black shapes move through the trees and soon one came into clear view and began feasting off of the cow side.
“Eright now just throw ‘dis rope ‘round her neck.” Hagrid tossed Harry a thick rope and he slowly walked up to the skeletal beast and wrapped the rope around its neck without it stopping from its food. “Good job ‘ere! I can walk her if you’d like.” Harry willingly gave the ropes over to Hagrid and tried to quickly get out from the forest since it was already beginning to get dark. At that moment Harry cursed the winter day getting dark early, but atleast the days were slowly becoming longer.
Harry and Hagrid lead the Thestral easily to the lake side and waited for it to walk closer. Slowly it began drinking from the lake and Harry turned to see Draco, Ginny, Ron and Dumbledore further away from the bank watching. Suddenly water splashed over the Thestral, blinding both Harry and Hagrid. When the water fell, Harry saw the Thestral pinned on the ground by a massive creature. The Bucca had shades of blue and green all over it with its mane and tail made up of what looked like seaweed, but much thinner and soft. It was bony and lean like the Thestral, but was almost twice its size and acted as though it wouldn’t hesitate to rip apart anything that traveled too closely. To the rest of them it looked as though the Bucca was floating on air, ripping into absolutely nothing. But Harry could feel himself beginning to feel sick watching as the Bucca tore into the Thestral like it was made of hot butter.
“Quickly Harry! Check its neck!” Ginny shouted snapping him out of his nausea. He could only see scales on this Bucca’s neck, no stone, not even dirt.
“There’s nothing!” He shouted back.
“Stupefy!” Harry turned around and saw the dead Thestral and then closer was the stunned Bucca that had begun walking towards him. He looked up to the others and saw Draco putting away his wand and coming down to the bank.
“You owe me for that one Harry. And I think we need another Thestral.” Draco said, but seconds later another tidal wave of water knocked the two over and three more Buccas were on the shore fighting for the already mangled carcass. As two of the Buccas fought over the Thestral, the third and smallest one spotted Harry and Draco knocked over on the bank soaked to the bone. Its large fin-like ears pinned back against its head before it turned with its sharp teeth bared like razors. Draco scrambled for his wand but found it nowhere in his robes. He saw it floating in the lake next to what looked like Harry’s wand from the wave that had hit them.
“Ron….Ron stun the Bucca!!” Harry shouted backing up from the still advancing beast. “Ginny? Bloody hell one of you stun the damn thing!” Draco saw them all in a dazed state barely blinking, even Dumbledore wasn’t moving.
“Harry catch!” Draco tossed a large rock to Harry as he sprinted past him toward the water. “Don’t let it in the water!” He shouted before diving straight into the murky water with the Bucca quickly following. Harry chucked the rock as hard as he could at the Bucca making a sickening crack when it struck the skull. The water began bubbling around Draco moving the two wands everywhere. He grabbed the closest one, but knew it wasn’t his immediately. On shore Harry was still attempting to keep the Bucca out of the water. The water in the lake was still bubbling, but by now it was turning into small waves crashing against Draco’s body disorienting him and making it hard to swim after his own wand.
“Draco get out! Get out now!!” He turned in the water and saw the third Bucca slide into the water like a snake and disappeared perfectly. Draco saw his wand only a couple feet away and began swimming as fast as he could toward it as the waves grew twice as big pounding against him harder with each stroke. He finally reached his wand, but was immediately pulled under by a blinding pain wrapped around his ankle.
Hermione watched as the two broad men roughly grabbed the two people between them and hauled them to their feet. The woman and man stood on shaky legs that swayed to the point of collapsing. They were covered in spots of dried blood and dirt from head to toe. Their features were sunken in making them appear as walking corpses. She could feel the restraints around her arms disappear and Hermione fell with a light thud to the ground.
“Like the surprise mudblood? You get to see your parents one last time before it’s all over.” Lucius hissed smiling manically obviously enjoying the despair caught in the young girl’s faded brown eyes.
“What have you done to them? They look like walking rag dolls!” Hermione cried hysterically freely allowing the tears to flow down her cheeks.
“Your muggle parents,” Lucius spat, “are the only power source running those ancient symbols. Genius isn’t it? I save my strength for later, and two muggles are drained of life in the process.”
“Leave them be Malfoy. You’ll regret it if they get harmed.” Hermione saw him begin to pull his wand from his staff. “Expelliarmus!” In a second Lucius’ wand was on the other side of the room and he was scrambling to retrieve it. “Accio wand!” The anger boiling in Hermione was starting to overcome her senses and was releasing energy that she thought was gone after the first day locked up in her prison. Now with Lucius defenseless all she wanted to do was keep her parents safe. The two men advanced on her with their wands out ready to shoot any curse they had that would put her back into restraints. Hermione threw her hands together and shouted “Mobiliarbus!” and yanked her arms apart making the two large men be thrown into the walls. As fast as she could, Hermione sprinted to her parent’s sides checking them over. “Mum, dad, Merlin I’m so sorry. I have to take you back to Hogwarts, Dumbledore will be able to heal and help you.” Hermione grabbed onto both her parent’s arms when they didn’t respond and apparated them all back to Hogwarts.
Draco woke sputtering water in the dark hospital wing with Harry and Dumbledore beside him. He turned his head to the left and saw the next three beds were occupied by Ron, Ginny and two beds had been pushed together to hold Hagrid’s body.
“They’re here for examination from what happened earlier. Draco, we couldn’t find the Bucca with the Orange Citrine lodged into its neck.” Harry said with a disheartened tone. “You know how everyone was in a daze when we were being attacked? Well Madame Pomfrey thinks it was a barrier that was put up. Dumbledore thinks that someone might have been waiting for us and when you stepped onto the bank the barrier was sort of tripped causing everyone else to see us just waiting for the next Bucca to come. Somebody wants you dead and I think we were getting too close to solving everything.”
“What’s happened? How did I end up here? Bloody hell my head won’t stop spinning.” Draco could barely comprehend what Harry had just told him, he could only concentrate on the swirling in his mind.
“The Bucca took you under and you almost got torn to pieces. You’re a lucky git if you ask me. All the Buccas that were in the water started attacking eachother when they saw you. I had to go in after you when I saw you weren’t moving to get away from them all.” Harry answered.
“We have to go back down to the lake and find the Bucca. I don’t care if I can’t see straight we have to keep trying. Hermione depends on us and -” Draco murmured.
“It’s already midnight...we were too late Draco...this came for you while I was still at the lake searching through all the Bucca carcasses that had washed up on shore.” Draco snatched the letter from Harry’s hands and angrily ripped it open with his hands shaking uncontrollably and his jaw clenched tightly. They had been too late and the thought of Hermione being hurt in anyway drove him to the brink and back.
The clock ticks slower with the passing days,
Two last sunsets she will see now
Unless you can find where she lays.
Another lateness we won’t allow
‘I Love You Draco’ she won’t again ever say.
Draco saw the horrified expression on Harry’s face.
“Turn it around...” On the back of the letter was a picture of Hermione with her face dirty with soot and blood and her clothes were torn and the edges. She was on a stone floor in a small room with no light and bars all around.
“She has two more days. That’s all the time we have left to find her. She can’t stay like this any longer.” Draco crumpled the picture in his fist and swung his legs off the bed.
“Where are you going? I know Hermione is in a lot of trouble, but you can’t play the damn hero if you aren’t well!” Draco ignored Harry yelling down the corridor to him. “Get back here you bloody ferret!” Harry thought for sure that he would stop when insulted, but he just kept walking towards the Head’s Tower. ‘Please just let her be sitting on the Common Room couch infront of the fire reading a book. Please let this be a dream. It’s all just a terrible nightmare that I just woke up from. Quidditch concussion that’s all. Hermione is in there right now waiting for me.’ He thought hopefully stepping through the portrait hole.
Hermione opened her eyes to find herself in the Common Room of the Head’s Tower.
“Mum? Dad? Where are you?” She called noticing her parents hadn’t apparated beside her. The thought of finding Draco came over her and soon her feet were quickly carrying her through the tower. She first ran into Draco’s room. Hermione found it only slightly messy, but the sheets on his bed were torn onto the floor and book were strewn across the bare bed and piled onto his desk.
“Draco are you in here?” She called from the doorway. Hermione walked into the dim room and turned the lights on to see better. Nothing else could be seen once light illuminated the large room. Nothing stirred in any of the corners or under any one of his belongings. Hermione let out a disappointed sigh and lightly closed the door behind her while she turned to check her own room.
“Hello? Draco are you there?” Hermione shouted making her way up to her own bedroom.
“Hermione? Hermione where are you, I can hear you somewhere!” A voice called from the portrait hole. Hermione turned on her heel and practically jumped down the stairs. Instead of finding Draco standing there in the Common Room, she saw Ginny with a large grin plastered onto her face. “Herms I can’t believe you’re back!” Ginny ran to meet her missed best friend and swung her into a huge hug.
“Oh Gin it’s so good to see you! Where is everyone else?” Hermione asked excitedly, just happy being back in a familiar place.
“At Hogwarts of course.” Ginny replied with the same huge smile on her face. Suddenly Hermione felt the room shift rapidly and the walls began to melt away along with all the items in the room. The stair case leading to her room trickled down to meet the collapsing floor until it reached around her in a circle. Ginny painfully snatched Hermione’s arm and a searing pain burned through her arm and chest. Hermione felt the horrible sensation of fire all around her until the entire room was swallowed up in darkness and replaced by the same large circular white room from before. The three other women watched from their bindings on the wall as the two appeared and Hermione collapsed hard to the ground. The large man carrying the young girl drug her limp body over to the chains and quickly bound her again. Even the angel Regina could not help the cooling of her blood when the man’s glowing yellow eyes locked with her own. Then he disappeared from the room in a swift cloud of black smoke without a word.
Author's Note: Did yall honestly think it would be THAT easy?!? I mean.. apparating?? just kidding! DON'T BE MAD! I know I am being really terrible to Hermione and Draco and everything but Hey, I tried to make this one longer and get it out quicker?? lol well please review and tell me how the ending is coming along! Thank You!!
p.s. I've been writing ahead so no more month long waits for chapters! You're welcome!! haha
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