Chapter 6 : Chapter 6
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Seek the answer to this riddle
Chase me - if you can
Keep unraveling, till you find me
The three clues already at left hand.
To those add a sound you often hear
When you cannot find a phrase
Now think upon it very well
And the answer will you raise.
Those clues, no more, are all you need
And different though they are
What makes them close? It is no game
As you will know, but yet another part.
"If I never see another riddle again, it will be too soon. I am prepared to bash my head on my desk after all of these." Harry groaned, "I recognize this part" He said pointing to the beginning of the second stanza. "The answer is 'er'"
Cho looked at him questioningly. "How did you get that so quickly?"
"I have had to answer that one before." He didn't mention that it was similar to one he had to answer for the Sphinx during the maze in the Triwizard Tournament. "What about the first part? 'Chase me' is obviously him taunting us. 'Unraveling' seems like an odd word choice. It could be a hint as to where his next attack will be."
Again he could hear Cho murmuring as she read the riddle over and over again to herself. He glanced up at her the glimmer of light flicker in her eyes as something seemed to click into place.
"Wait this line… "The three clues already at left hand" Why does it say at 'left' hand? It seems to be an odd word choice. The phrase I know is already at hand. It doesn't say anything about left or right." Harry looked back at the paper nodding in agreement. Cho continued, muttering the line again and again. " 'three clues' Wait a minute maybe he means the something in the first three lines…"
"Hold on, 'Seek', 'Chase' and 'Keep'. The first word of each line. They are on the left hand side. Then add 'er' Seeker, chaser and keeper. It is talking about Quidditch. It has to be the Quidditch pitch at Hogwarts. Let's go!" Harry jumped up, knocking the chair back against the wall.
In another moment, the pair was standing outside the front gate of Hogwarts. They began to run towards the Quidditch pitch the moment their feet hit the ground. Harry kept an eye out for anything strange. Anything at all that seemed out of the ordinary. It seemed unusually quiet. The full moon was just rising over the horizon, lending an eerie bluish light to the grounds. Harry maintained a frantic pace as they neared the Quidditch pitch, Cho stayed right on his heels.
"Lumos" Harry's wand lit up and he began to scour the pitch area. He found nothing unusual or out of place. Just an empty stadium. He could see the lights from the castle off in the distance. Harry spotted the Quidditch supply shed and decided to check it out. Old brooms, misshapen bludgers and threadbare Quidditch jerseys littered the tiny shed. There was nothing of interest. Cursing under his breath, he strode back towards the pitch. He looked at Cho who shook her head to indicate that she had found nothing either.
"What did we miss?" Cho asked. She reread the riddle that she still clutched in her fist. "Dammit, Harry we screwed up! Read the last stanza 'It's no game' He is telling us that it’s not Quidditch. What are we missing?"
"Dammit, we are going to lose another victim! He can't win Cho!" Harry looked over her shoulder, "What makes them close? Wait… 'The answer will you raise' Broomsticks. It has to be… It is something that all three have in common and is not a game."
"The Three Broomsticks! We have to get off the school grounds so we can apparate there. We need to hurry!" Cho grabbed Harry's arm and began running back the way they came. The moment they ran through the gate both of them apparated to the front door of the Three Broomsticks. Harry pulled out his wand and motioned for Cho to do the same. The tavern was nearly empty as they entered. Madam Rosmerta came to the greet them
"Harry, how are you dear? We haven't seen you in here in…"
"I am sorry, this isn't a social call. I wish it were. Have you seen anyone unusual in here tonight?" Harry's businesslike tone made Rosmerta look nervously at him.
"Through the back door, someone ran through here about 10 minutes ago." Rosmerta pointed them towards the back door.
"What did they look like? Did you recognize them?" Cho spoke up before going towards the back.
"Sorry, I didn't, they were wearing a long black robe with a hood. Besides they rushed through here so quickly, I didn't have time to see much."
"Thank you Rosmerta, please lock the door behind us and then call the Auror's headquarters and talk to Colin Creevey or Hannah Abbott. Tell them we are closing in on the killer and we need them here as soon as possible. Don't let anyone through that door unless they show you an Auror's badge." Harry turned to Cho, "Actually, you should probably stay here as well. If he is still there it is going to be too dangerous."
"I'm going Harry, I fought in the DA with you in the war. I know how to handle myself." With that she turned away from Harry and headed to the back door.
Harry pulled Cho behind him; she squeezed his hand as he reached for the door. As Harry's hand closed on the doorknob a hazy purple mist began to swirl around their feet. It quickly climbed swirling faster and higher until they were unable to see anything around them. Cho grabbed hold of Harry's arm. Her panic was barely being contained.
Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the swirling mist evaporated. They were no longer standing at the back of the Three Broomsticks. They were standing in a small damp cavern. Flaming torches were affixed to the wall to provide light. There was nothing in the cave but an ancient wooden door at one side. A tattered piece of parchment was attached to it. Harry looked back to see if Cho was alright and then quickly strode across the small space to rip the note off the door. He read it out loud.
I am pleased to note that you have indeed proved smarter than I ever would have given you credit for. Maybe there is a shred of truth beneath all the lies that make up your hero reputation.
I do hope you had as much fun with my riddles and codes as I did watching you struggle through them. If only Chang hadn't shown up, I would have had many more hours of enjoyment watching you struggle. Maybe after you fail here, I will pay her a visit.
Through this door lies your chance to finally face me and if you are as good as you think you are, you may even kill me. You managed to get through my first task, the riddles. Now let's see if you can manage to survive my next challenge for you.
Harry crumpled up the note and tossed it aside. "He didn't expect you here. It was supposed to be a challenge for me. Cho joined him as he opened the door wordlessly. The room on the other side of the door was pitch black. As the door latched shut behind them the torches on the walls blazed to life, illuminating a strange room. The floor was comprised of stone tiles, each marked with different letters. There was a door on the other side of the room about 15 feet away. Harry turned to see that there was another piece of parchment tacked to this side of the door as well. He ripped it off the wall and read out loud so Cho could hear as well.
You have had riddles, codes and ciphers, how about we try some trivia? This should be easy Potter. What was the first name of the first man you m-m-murdered? But be forewarned, one wrong step may be your last.
"Murdered? Voldemort? Is that who he is talking about? His real name was Tom Riddle." He looked at Cho to see what she thought.
"Tom? We could never cross this room with three steps. I don't think that is who he is referring to. Is there anyone else before Voldemort that the killer can be talking about?" Cho asked gently.
"I don't go around murdering people for fun Cho!" Harry snapped at her.
"I know you don't Harry. But the killer obviously is blaming you for things you had no control over. I don't think you are a murderer, I know you aren't."
"I know. I'm sorry…it is just...he is getting to me Cho. I need him brought to justice. I need him to pay." Harry ran a hand through his messy black hair. "Hold on, 'm-m-murderered' he must be talking about Professor Quirrell. I don't know his first name though."
"It was Quirinus ." Harry looked at her in astonishment. "I had to do a research on him for an advanced DADA class I took years ago." She flashed a wry grin at him. He chuckled and stepped forward.
"The tiles are just large enough for both of us to stand if we stay very close. So the first letter is Q." Harry pulled Cho into his arms. Her back to his front. Together they tentatively stepped on the Q stone in front of them.
"U" They took the big step to the U tile. Harry's arms were wrapped firmly in place. She felt safe despite the terrifying situation they were in.
"I" The next step was a larger one than the previous ones. As the stepped Cho's foot slid off the stone and it crumbled beneath her feet. She slid down from Harry's arms, but he quickly tightened his grip and pulled her back to safety. Harry looked down the hole where the stone used to be. Below them was a huge deep hole, at the bottom were blue and orange flames flickering in the darkness.
"Hell" he whispered "He wants me to go to hell."
"Harry," Cho spoke sharply, "Just focus on the task at hand." He nodded briefly before they located the R stone. As one they took the short step.
"'I' Do you see the I stone?" Harry asked distractedly. The pair frantically searched all the surrounding stones.
"There." Cho raised her arm and pointed to a stone that was almost a meter and a half away, her terrified eyes looked up to Harry. "I can't jump that Harry."
"Yes you can… We need to switch positions so that I can jump first. Then, you will jump to me, and I will catch you." His quiet earnest voice told her that he meant every word he said. "I won't let anything happen to you Cho." She nodded almost imperceptibly.
After a few moments of maneuvering, Cho moved back to the R stone so that Harry could jump to the I. He began rocking back and forth bending his knees and swinging his arms for momentum. As his feet left the solid rock, Cho held her breath. Scared to watch but terrified not to, her eye stayed glued to Harry's athletic figure until his feet made contact with stone he was aiming for. Using his arms for balance he turned to smile at her.
"See? Simple as can be." His eyes were alive with the excitement. "Now your turn."
Cho finally breathed a sigh of relief. After a few more steadying breaths she carefully stepped back onto the R stone and began to prepare herself for the jump. Harry's eyes never left hers. He held out his arms to catch her. His eyes signalled that he was ready. With a curt nod, she began to mimic Harry's movements from only moments before. With in moments she was soaring through the air. Mid- jump she knew she wouldn't make it. Her jump was just too short.
Harry's hands caught her under her armpits but her momentum caused her to continue to slide through his hands. He's not going to be able to stop me. Her panic was just barely being held at bay as she tried to grab hold of him. Her fingers scrambling desperately against the nylon jacket he was wearing.
His right hand caught the cuff of her coat and his left managed to grab hold of her right wrist. The floor beneath her crumbled instantly. The warm acrid air blew past her face as she dangled precariously from Harry's hands.
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