AN: Thanks to InDeMoMalfoy, Dark Angel 101, whimsy, tallaan, Rose, adri13, Lunatic17, =), and Hermione713, who have all reviewed this story. I really appreciate your feedback. Enjoy the chapter!
Hermione was lucky to be the first one awake as the sun rose over the trees of the rainforest the next morning. Not only did she hate to sleep in, she really didn't want Ron to find himself lying ... well, not where he was when he fell asleep. Hermione was not in the mood for awkward questions, and was still embarassed about her encounter with Ginny during night. Also, she was covered in itchy red mosquito bites, and constantly had to stop what she was doing to scratch herself furiously. The others had suffered worse, she noticed, probably because they didn't have her form of protection.
Hermione's stomach growled loudly enough to wake up the whole forest. Uh oh, Hermione thought. I'm starving! The others are going to kill me when they wake up, unless I find something for them to eat. Making up her mind, Hermione grabbed a large stick to use as a weapon if needed. She was going to find something to eat in the forest ... unless she became something to eat first. She was sorely tempted to wake Ron so that she could have a companion, but seeing him curled up on the ground with a small smile on his lips, she couldn't bring herself to do it. His dreams were definitely a lot more pleasant than what he would wake up to.
"Can we come, too?"
Hermione turned. Neville was standing on the leafy bed, scratching his mosquito bites and looking at her with a pleading expression on his face. Luna was beside him, humming and swaying from side to side.
"I don't know." Hermione was hesitant."Do you really want to? I'm going out into the jungle to find something to eat, and it could be dangerous."
"No, I want to come!" Neville said hurriedly, picking up a stick of his own and hurrying to catch up with her. "You're the only one that knows anything about this place! I don't want to be awake all alone."
"Fine," sighed Hermione,"but truthfully, I don't know that much about this part of the world." Seeing the puzzled look on Neville's face, she added,"I know things like what percent of the world's fresh water this river holds, and other useless bits of information, but nothing about survival. I'm beginning to think we won't have as much fun here as I'd hoped." She pushed a branch out of her way and began to make her way between the trees. Neville followed her closely, Luna right behind him.
Neville was puzzled. For one thing, he'd always thought that Hermione Granger had the answer to everything, that she could come up with a life-saving solution whenever he was in trouble. For another, he wasn't even sure why he was here. Yesterday, he had been on his way to the library when he had seen two huge Slytherins from the Inquisitorial Squad grab Ginny from behind and start to drag her towards Umbridge's office. To his own suprise, he had run up to them and tried to free Ginny - and had ended up in Umbridge's office himself, been expelled from Hogwarts, and had ended up in this terrifying rainforest. But why? Neville sensed that his friends had been doing something secret, and very private. Umbridge obviously thought that he was in on it. However, his cowardly side was afraid to ask them what it was, incase they were annoyed with him. But it was aggravating not to know ...
He could hear the sound of running water up ahead, and knew they were getting close to the river. The information didn't make Neville feel very well. There were probably hundreds of scary animals there, just waiting to devour a boy like him. And his Gran had never let him near many bodies of water - what if he fell in and drowned?
Hermione stopped and looked around. Trees surrounded them on all sides. There wasn't anything in sight that looked safe to eat, and Hermione seemed to realize this.
"Hmmm ... maybe you and Luna should look around the river for something edible," she suggested to Neville. "I'll search around here. If you find something or need help, yell as loudly as you can.
"We'll be perfectly fine," said Luna dreamily, grabbing Neville's arm. "Maybe we'll find something interesting there ..."
"Bye," said Neville gloomily as he was pulled alongside Luna towards the river.
Half an hour later, Neville and Luna still weren't having any luck.
"Hmm," Luna said thoughtfully, surveying the plants nearby. "Maybe if we scraped the bark off the trees, and mixed it with water, then heated it somehow ..."
"No! I wouldn't eat that!"
"But it might taste good!" Luna flopped down onto the river bank and removed her shoes. "I'm hot. Want to go swimming?"
"No, I could be eaten by a river monster."
"But look!" said Luna suddenly, pointing to the water. "I want to swim with these pretty fish."
"Pretty fish?" asked Neville dully.
"Yeah. Look at these pretty fish! They even have teeth!"
"WHAT?!!!" Neville stared in horror at Luna's "pretty fish". They had teeth, all right. "Luna, those are piranhas! They'll eat you up!"
Luna moved away from the water, but didn't seem remotely frightened. Apparently the fact that fish typically didn't possess teeth didn't bother her. Neville sighed. He sure hoped that Hermione was having more luck than he was.
"Well, how about that snake? It looks friendly," said Luna. She pointed to a spot further down the riverbank, where a long, thick snake lay basking in the sun. It wasn't moving, but it looked strong enough to crush a person easily.
"I want to go back!!!!" Neville whimpered. "I don't want to die, I don't want to die! Why did Umbridge send us here, anyway?" There, it was out. If there was anybody in the group who was not likely to get angry at him and burst into a fit of rage, it was Luna. As strange as Neville thought her, he couldn't help but trust her; she had so much faith in things that were thought to be unreal that he couldn't imagine her lying.
Luna looked at him with her wide, spooky eyes. "I don't really know," she said slowly. "Harry needed to talk with his godfather, who was in danger ... she caught him ... he wouldn't tell her who he was contacting ... so she sent us here."
"To die," finished Neville.
"Perhaps," said Luna thoughtfully. "I'm not sure why she sent us to this place. But-" Luna's eyes glowed with excitement,"it's a great opportunity to find a crumple-horned snorkack."
Neville laughed. He couldn't help it.
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