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Chapter 4 : The Dark Island
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The barrier around the submerged ship did not make the trip to Azkaban any more comfortable. The blue mist which constituted the only visible aspect of the barrier was thick enough that visibility beyond it was hardly ever possible. The ship itself was old, or was at least designed to look that way. It looked like an eighteenth century whaling ship that had been badly patched up in a few areas of the hull. There were no leaks but the place smelled strongly of misplaced water and rotting fish. Hermione walked out onto the slippery deck and slipped. As she was falling she threw out her arms and caught some rope that was tied in a very thick knot at a cleat on the wall.
“Are you alright Mees Hermionee?” said a man who was sitting in the crow’s nest above her and heard her slip. Amusement was very evident in his voice.
“Yes thank you Captain,” Hermione replied once she had regained her footing and began looking over the ship and through the thick mist. They had been underwater for what had seemed like days. They were traveling the most direct route to Azkaban and from what they could tell they were traveling at about thirty knots.
“We should make it to the island by dawn tomorrow,” Harry said as he appeared over Hermione’s right shoulder. This tidbit didn’t really elucidate anything as there was no daylight reaching their depth of the ocean.
The mist barrier began to flicker for a while and then it changed colors. This marked the entry of the Shield of Merlin that was placed around Azkaban. While it was flickering the ocean around them became visible. The Caspian Sea was alive with all manners of sea life. While the barrier was around the ship, the entire vessel remained invisible to all of the creatures but everyone onboard knew that when the barrier let out that was going to change. Luckily they would still be able to breathe. They would just have to go below deck.
“All hands, slowly resurface and bring the speed up to seventy knots!” the Captain called down to the ship. As the ship slowly began resurfacing, the ship jolted forward to about double the previous speed. Hermione fell this time landing on her back and Harry ended up falling after her. Both of them got up laughing away the pain but then stopped because they found it very hard to stand again.
“I think that I will head back below deck to get ready for when we arrive,” Harry said as if he wasn’t feeling very well. He crawled as fast as he could toward the stairs. Feeling sorry for him, Hermione crawled after him so that she could help him.
Below deck things weren’t that much better but at least there were things around to hold onto. After meandering around the hammocks that belonged to the crew, they two of them made it to their own hammocks and retrieved the supplies that they packed before they left the Shrieking Shack.
“Are you ready?” Hermione said while trying to make sure that she had everything that was needed. Harry kept going through things in his bag. Hermione noticed his wand was in his hand. It was probably just a nervous habit.
“I just wish I knew what to expect,” Harry said as he went over his bag yet again. “I wish I knew that Ron is safe.” The ship began to tilt more drastically and soon the sound of waves were heard from outside. The ship had breached the surface of the ocean.
“I know he is, Harry,” Hermione said reassuringly. Outside the window, the stars were abundant and the waves were calm. The moon gave everything an eery glow. Outside, the captain kept giving orders. They were ahead of schedule.
“Lumos,” Harry said as he looked as his wand, there was no beam of light. “So we are finally in the barrier.”
“I think that we should go on deck now,” Hermione said as she took his hand and led him back up. On the horizon, they could see the island and the towers that were now home to thousands of death eaters. This was going to be quite the rescue.
The crew was starting to get more antsy as they got closer to the black island. Even from where they were, Harry and Hermione could make out the entrances to hundreds of caves. Any one of them could house the other side of the veil.
Just as the sun was coming over the horizon, the captain approached the two of them. “We are within one mile of the island, from here you must go on alone.” Hermione was about to object but Harry just nodded and took her over to the side of the side so that he could whisper something to her.
“Don’t forget that many of the inmates of this prison went to school at Durmstrang,” Harry said quietly and then he looked over his shoulder to check for eavesdroppers. “I say, let’s keep the sailors and the inmates as far apart as possible.”
“They are preparing our boat,”Hermione noticed and she brought Harry over to their lifeboat. They jumped in and were lowered into the water.
“Looks like I am rowing,” Harry said with a forced upbeat voice. He gave Hermione a smile and she joined him. “I can’t believe that Sirius has been alive on this island the entire time.”
“Soon he will be eating breakfast with us back home in England, where he belongs!” Hermione said as she looked at all of the crags and crevices on the rocky island. “I see a cove over there with no jagged rocks, let’s pull up there.” Hermione pointed at a dark cove to the right and Harry adjusted his rowing. Eventually they just let the waves bring them to shore and they just prepared for getting off.
When they got off of the boat, the first thing that they noticed was that there was ice covering everything. This usually meant that dementors were near, so they hurried for the nearest hole. They peaked into it and found that it lead to a main tunnel with all of the other holes connected to it.
“I wonder how long it will take to find Sirius?” Hermione asked Harry.
“I am not sure, it could take days, maybe even weeks,” Harry said as he slid into the main corridor. Once she slid down after him, Harry started walking down the corridor. Harry turned a corner and bumped into what felt like a person.
“Welcome to the underworld chum,” the person said to him with a malicious grin.
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