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Halfway To Infinity by Eponine
Chapter 16 : Chapter Fifteen: The Inspection
 
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Author's Notes: Okay so I'm going to try something new this time. I'm going to do chapter dedications because I owe so many people so many things!

So this chapter is dedicated to all of my loyal reviewers! You guys really make my day and help my story grow. Thanks so much!

And of course, what would a chapter of HTI be without thanking TheBird. I don't think you guys could believe how dedicated she is. She went over my chapter not only once but THREE times! She really is incredible.
~ ~ ~


Chapter Fifteen: the Inspection

All students will report to the Great Hall immediately.

Lottie was barely up for breakfast when she had to throw on her uniform and run back to the Great Hall. Chaos ensued in the hall. The teachers were clearly trying to line the students up in an organized manner, but the students were far too frantic to obey.

Lottie ran over to Andrea, who she spotted waiting patiently by the Palmyitor table. “What’s going on?” she asked. “Not Death Eaters again, right?” Realization suddenly dawned on her. “Andrea, please don’t tell me that this is because--”

“I don’t know anymore than you do,” Andrea snapped. “And be quiet. You’re only helping the pandemonium.”

Palmyitor rushed by, tucking her flyaway hair behind her ears. “Organize yourself!” she shouted. “Each House stand by their table and line up by year. First years closest to the door and seventh years closest to the staff table!” Only a fraction of the students heard the demand. Those who actually knew what to do moved slowly and sluggishly.

“Alright come on!” Andrea stepped out of the line. “Palmyitors, line up in order of year! Hurry up!” For such a small person, she could yell surprisingly loud.

The Palmyitors listened. The older students seemed so impressed that a second year would stand up to an entire House that they listened to her. They all shuffled to their spot in line and waited for the other Houses to figure out what they needed to do.

“Well I’m impressed,” Lottie told Andrea when she finished directing. “Move over Stanley! The future prefect is ready to take over.” Lottie was impressed. Every now and then she noticed Andrea, so often reserved, break out and become the leader of the pack. For a split second, Lottie felt a surge of jealousy. She wished that everybody would listen to her.

“Shut up!” Andrea smacked Lottie playfully on the shoulder, suddenly snapping her back to reality.

Maelioric stood in the middle of the hall, patiently waiting for the students’ babble to die away. “Thank you all for cooperating so early in the morning,” he said to the students. “I assure you this shouldn’t take long. We’ll have you to your classes in no time. We are just going to perform a simple spell on each of you in turn. The easier you make this for us, the easier it will be for you. After that we will either tell you to sit down and enjoy your breakfast quietly or follow one of the teachers to a chamber a little ways down the corridor.”

Teachers stood at the front of each line, waiting. “This does have to do with last night, doesn’t it?” Lottie whispered.

Andrea put a finger to her lips.

“You ratted them out!” Lottie shouted and put a hand over her mouth after receiving some nasty glares from the working professors. “Oh you promised me you wouldn’t freak out!”

“I didn’t. I was much more calm than you are. I just did what was right. Now shut up.”

Lottie opened her mouth to retaliate, but shut it when she noticed Breckenridge, Palmyitor, Maelioric, Clynalmoy, Gabaldon and Dyer all standing at the front of the lines with their wands out. They must have been doing Legilimency, Lottie realized. She made a note to avoid these teachers when she had a secret.

Distantly, she heard a professor hiss, “Legilimens!

There was a collective wince from the first years who were being inspected. Lottie grimaced sympathetically; a lot of these first years have probably never experienced Legilimency before.

Lottie craned her neck to see the Clynalmoy line. The prefect she had seen the night before shifted her weight uncomfortably. Smirking, she turned back to the Palmyitor line. All of the students who had been checked were now shakily eating breakfast. Not surprising, since the teachers had just finishing going through the first years and Death Eaters hardly would target first years as spies.

Lottie’s stomach grumbled with hunger. She didn’t want to be the target of Legilimency, but she was hungry enough to comply.

The professors moved steadily down the line. Breckenridge was one person ahead of Lottie and just finishing up. As he turned to her, Lottie took a deep breath and attempted to clear her mind.

Legilimens,” said Breckenridge, pointing his wand at her.

The familiar sensation of a forced flashback ensued. She pulled herself through the tiny corridor; knives chased her through the secret chamber; she examined a bottle in Palmyitor’s office… And suddenly it stopped. Her mind was blank. There was nothing left for Breckenridge to find.

Suddenly, the flashes of scenes started again. Only this time they weren’t her memories. She was tall and muscular, standing in front of Palmyitor’s desk. The actual scene was hard to make out; it was much more blurry than her own memories, but anxiousness ran through her like a hurricane. Lottie could hear whispering from across the desk. This had never happened before… There had never been traitors at the school before – no, they had never discovered traitors at the school before. Who knew how many students had betrayed the school.

The memories stopped. Everything was black again until Lottie was dragged back to the present by Breckenridge’s voice. “Impressive, Rowe,” he said with a chortle. He patted her heavily on her shoulder. “Go and shut up that stomach of yours.”

Lottie smiled sheepishly and sat down at the Palmyitor table, waiting for Andrea’s turn to be over. What had just happened? She had just been Breckenridge, she knew it, but how?

Andrea sat down next to her. “Well that was uneventful,” she said casually. “Why did they have to check me? Would they really think that the--”

“That the person who ratted out the traitors would turn out to be a traitor herself?”

Andrea glared at her. Lottie smirked. “That’d be interesting, wouldn’t it?” she continued. “How clever though. Nobody would suspect you.”

“What are you trying to say?” asked Andrea seriously.

“Oh you know what I mean! Oh.” Palmyitor shushed her on her way down the Maelioric line. Most of the teachers had finished checking the third years and were moving onto the fourth years.

They were getting to the upperclassmen. The real threat. They had to check the lowerclassmen, just to be sure, but the chances of a first year being a Death Eater were rather slim.

Finally, the first culprit was caught. A burly fourth year Maelioric was escorted (rather roughly) out of the hall. Lottie shivered. Andrea put her fork down and stopped eating.

“What?” Lottie teased. “Feeling guilty?”

“No,” Andrea said shakily. “N-not at all.”

Another fourth year, a Clynalmoy this time, was caught. Another followed. How many traitors could there be? And even if they were using Legilmency, what about the Palmyitors who knew Occlumency?

They were on the sixth years now. Lottie poured her milk into her cereal silently. How did Death Eaters find the students anyways? Wasn’t the school well protected?

Out of all of the Houses, Palmyitor was definitely taking the heaviest blow. It was the smallest to begin with, and now had lost two fourth years, a fifth year, four sixth years and seven seventh years.

Now the entire House had been checked. The Palmyitors settled at the much emptier table to watch the uncovering of all of the traitors. Lottie pitied the first years. They hadn’t even been at Alsemore a week and now had to watch something as traumatizing as this.

From the Maelioric table, Colm smirked at Lottie and Andrea. “Oh look at him,” Lottie snarled. “How can he be so smug during something like this? I’m surprised that he’s not a traitor.”

“Don’t say things like that,” Andrea hissed.

Finally, all (or Lottie hoped all) of the traitors were uncovered. The students sat in silence, waiting for a teacher to say something.

Palmyitor cleared her throat. “I’m sure that was just as unnerving for you as it was for us,” she said calmly. “And I’m sure that you all have heard some form of what’s going on.”

A rumble of nervous whispering erupted in the hall.

“Traitors were discovered in the school. Several, in fact. We never would have found out, were it not for one student.” Another burst of murmuring overtook the hall. Lottie felt Andrea shift uncomfortably in her seat. “The identity of that student will remain a secret, but know that if you happen to learn something like this, you must tell the school or be considered a traitor yourself.”

“Wow,” Lottie breathed. “A bit harsh, isn’t it?” Anxiety flooded her. What if they found out about the robes and the snakeskin?

“Classes will continue as normal today,” Palmyitor announced. The bell for classes rang. “It’s second period now.”

Lottie stood up and picked up her bag. Andrea didn’t move. “Andrea?” Lottie asked. “Are you coming?”

“What?” Andrea looked up. “Oh. Yeah. I’ll be right there.”

It was Andrea’s turn to have a quiet day. She didn’t speak a word, not even in Charms, her best subject.

Lottie sat in the common room alone that night. Andrea was nowhere to be found. All of the other Palmyitors (the few that were left after the purge) shared her melancholy.

Suddenly, Stanley stood up from and clapped his hands together. “Come on, guys!” he said almost desperately. “This isn’t that bad! We can pull through and--”

“Stan,” Langley grunted from the corner. “Do us all a favor and shut up.”

If Stanley was upset, he hid it very well. Blank faced, he collapsed back onto the couch and stared moodily at the fire for the rest of the night.

Suddenly fed up with being alone, Lottie turned to Julianne and Sophie who were both staring blankly at their Potions books. “Hi.”

“Hi,” they echoed dully.

“Have-have you seen Andrea?” Lottie asked, trying to sound casual.

Sophie shook her head. “I saw her in the common room earlier,” Julianne said, picking her head up from her book. “But she left right when a few more people came in.”

Lottie rested her head in her palm and tried to sit silently with her classmates, but only went two minutes before getting frustrated and leaving.

Downstairs in the dormitories, Lottie found Andrea’s bed empty. She must have been in the shower. A folded piece of parchment sat on her neatly-made bed. It was probably just homework, but then where were her books?

Lottie glanced around. Nobody was in the dorm. Nobody would know if she read it. What would be the harm? She picked up the parchment. It wasn’t homework, but a letter. Lottie wanted to put it down, but despite her best intentions, found her eyes glued to the page.

Dear Mum and Dad,

How have you been? School’s been okay. Second year is a lot more challenging than first year was.

I’m writing because I’m in a dilemma and I don’t know who I can tell. Lottie and I found some girls to be traitors. They were working for Death Eaters. We went to the head of our House immediately, of course. Today we had a school meeting, where they uncovered an unnerving amount of people to be traitors as well.

The caught traitors have been taken away. I don’t know where they went, but presumably they were killed because once somebody is exposed to the school, they can’t be let go.

I don’t know what to do now. I know what I did was right, but I have caused the death of several of my schoolmates. I might as well have killed them with my own hands.

I can’t talk to anyone about this problem. The teachers are cold and unfeeling and if I reveal myself to any students, I run the risk of being killed by traitors who were not caught.

The only person who knows what I’ve done is Lottie. I can’t even talk to her, though, because she told me not to tell anybody in the first place. I don’t know. Maybe she was right.

Please write back. I really don’t know what to do and I could use your advice. Send Helen my love.
Love,
Andrea


Lottie folded the letter and put it back on her bed, now regretting her decision to read it. If Andrea couldn’t talk to Lottie, did she even consider them best friends like she did? Lottie changed silently into her pajamas. Whose fault was it? If Andrea hadn’t told, what would have happened?

Lottie fell into bed and closed her curtains. The door opened and somebody walked in, smelling strongly of soap.

“Andrea?” Lottie asked.

“Yeah?”

Now was her chance. All she had to do was apologize and everything would be okay again.

“Er--goodnight.”

Andrea paused as though waiting for Lottie to continue. Lottie heard a sigh through the curtains of her four-poster. “Goodnight, Lottie.”


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