Chapter 5 : Illusions?
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“Two-hundred and four?”
“Two-hundred and – oh, right. I forgot Two-hundred and four has been promoted into the Advanced classes.”
My eyes scanned the room as I searched for this mysterious Two-hundred and four who was missing. Blaise.
“Excuse me, Professor,” Hermione said, waving her hand in the air anxiously. “How do people get upgraded into the Advanced classes?”
The sound of knitting needles clinking together ceased at once and all eyes were on Filch. “Well,” Filch began, petting Mrs. Norris who was resting contentedly in his arms, “It all depends on how well you do in this class, doesn’t it?” said Filch, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
“How is that, sir?” asked Finnegan. “Two-hundred and four couldn’t even knit a row.”
“Nosy children!” Filch roared. “Mind your own business, all of you! Before I get the Carrows in here to take care of you.”
That stunned everyone right into silence as Filch began his lesson for the day, which was, to my horror, a continuation of yesterday’s knitting lesson.
“Crocheting tomorrow!” Filch announced, and Hermione bounced in her chair in glee.
I sighed as I let my hand wander away from my knitting and to my pockets where I felt the stiff handle of the eleven inches of hawthorn wood that was my wand. I doubted I’d ever gone so long without using it. I missed it terribly. What I would give to hex one person … just one … just a nice little hex … maybe send a jelly-leg jinx on someone. Was that too much to ask?
Just then, Hermione walked by me. Without saying a word, she slipped a piece of parchment onto my desk and continued to walk by, pretending to go to the yarn basket for a new color. She watched me from behind the basket of all different colors and assortments as I opened the parchment and read the words in her neat and tidy script:
“I have something to show you later that you won’t believe. Same time and place as last night.”
I looked up at her and nodded my head as the monster of curiosity ate away at my insides. And then there was a low and throaty purring sound coming from under my desk.
I stared at Mrs. Norris directly in those large sickly yellow orb-like eyes, challenging her to try anything.
“Shoo,” I whispered, swiping my hand at it. “Get out, you ugly little –”
“Twenty-seven!” Filch came striding up to me. I rolled my eyes. “Don’t you talk to Mrs. Norris like –” his attention was suddenly set on the cat at my feet. She meowed loudly. Filch smirked. “Well, well, well,” said Filch, “It seems Mrs. Norris has reason to believe that you are up to something, Twenty-seven.”
“Oh does she?” I asked. “And does she know what color my underpants are too?”
The rest of the class snickered.
“Stand up, Twenty-seven.”
“You can’t be serious!” I protested, unmoving from my seat. “Just because your bloody cat was looking at me you’re going to –”
“Up!” Filch bellowed, silencing the class’s laughter at once.
I glared into his eyes for a long moment, the whites of which were extremely blood shot. Not breaking eye contact with him, I slowly rose to my feet.
“Hands on top of your head. Legs spread.”
I shook my head. Surely I hadn’t heard him correctly. “What was that?”
“You heard me, boy,” he rasped in a throaty and sinister grumble.
“What? Fine. Is this what you want?” I asked, pulling Hermione’s note out of my pocket, knowing it was better if he found that than my wand. “Take it.”
Mrs. Norris meowed again from my feet. I suppressed a strong urge to kick her.
“Mrs. Norris seems to think there’s more,” said Filch, flicking away the note.
“Mrs. Norris is a bloody cat! You can’t tell me that you’re going to go by what you think your cat is trying to tell you …”
“Hands on top of your head!” Filch barked.
I stole a glance at Hermione, and from the terrified look on her face, I knew she knew what was hiding in my pocket. What would he do when he found it? The M word does not exist … no one in this school had wands … they’d probably all been snapped in half ages ago …
My arms slowly began their rise upward. Filch’s hand went to my left pocket. He searched inside and came out with a handful of lint. His other hand began its slow and torturous trail to my right pocket. I gulped.
I jumped back. Hermione was standing next to a large pile of shattered glass with a petrified look glazed over her face, her eyes almost as wide and round as her mouth.
“What …” Filch began, his disbelief clearly evident in his hoarse voice.
“I’m sorry, Professor,” said Hermione at once. “I didn’t mean to; it was an accident!”
Forgetting about me, Filch quickly made his way to the devastated jagged mess. “This … how could you … this was a one of a kind sculpture of a Main Coon from the 1800s! There will never be another one like it!”
“I truly am sorry,” said Hermione, and I could tell the guilt playing on her face was genuine.
Looking as though he were on the verge of tears, Filch’s voice cracked as he said, “We’ll see just how sorry you are in detention tonight, when you are here gluing the statue back together piece by piece!”
Hermione’s eyes were welling with tears as well. I doubted if anyone had ever yelled at her before, least of all a professor.
“Yes, sir,” she said, eyes cast downward in mortification.
Filch dismissed class early that day, claiming he needed time to mourn over his lost sculpture.
= = =
I couldn’t help but find it slightly ironic how Hermione and I had used the time turner in order to get out of a detention, and yet here we were two years into the future, and Hermione had earned herself a detention anyway.
“At least he didn’t send you to the Western Tower,” I told her in hopes to lift her spirits.
Hermione simply groaned and slumped sluggishly out of the common room to serve her detention.
I slipped out after her, and before parting ways, she said, “I’ll see you at midnight.”
As I began my trek down the hallway, I told myself I didn’t know where I was going -- that I just felt like taking a walk and getting a breather away from everyone in the stuffy common room. It was as if they were all afraid to speak or something, with the exception of Loony Lovegood. Her mouth didn’t seem to know how to take a rest. The corridors became darker, with only the lit torches on the wall offering their light, and I wondered how many times Lovegood had been sent to the Western Tower. Merlin, with that mouth of hers always jabbering on about rubbish, she was probably sent there all the time. You’d think she’d learn her lesson or something.
And then I was in front of the chained door leading to the dungeon. Did I mean to come here? I wondered, Perhaps somewhere deep in the back of my mind, I knew what my purpose was that night, but just wouldn’t admit that this was where I was going … even to myself.
Well, I’m not making that mistake again, I thought, with every intention of shuffling my feet away from the door as quickly as humanly possible.
It was déjà vu that stopped me dead in my tracks. Déjà vu that had me with my ear pressed hard against the door, my heart beating as though I’d just run a marathon, perspiration beading on my brow and forming a thin film over the palms of my hands.
There were screams coming from the dungeon. Terrified, anguish filled, human screams. I could practically feel their pain as I pressed my ear up even closer, until I felt as though the cold stone door and my ear had become one entity, melded into each other.
“My God,” I breathed. “They’re being tortured down there.”
I pushed my body away at once, wracking my brains for a solution. There was nothing I could do for them – whoever they were. I couldn’t use magic. I’d already tried that and it got me nowhere. And magic was the only thing I knew. What else was there? What would a Muggle do?
Did I really just go there?
“Think like a Muggle,” I told myself as I pulled at my hair, pacing back and forth. “A key!” I exclaimed in a sudden burst of inspiration, out of breath for reasons I did not understand. “That’s it, there must be a key. Why didn’t I think of it before?”
And then I was sprinting down the hall so quickly the lit torches began to blur into one long line of orange glowing flames.
“Arrghfuck!” I had crashed into something – no, someone, -- and was lying spread eagled across the floor. “Damn it! Watch where you’re going you clumsy thick-headed – who are you?”
The white haired man, after retrieving his books from the floor, held out his hand to me. I did not take it and instead stood up on my own. The man gave a half smile which disappeared quickly.
“It’s probably not wise to be running in the halls,” the man said, then cocked his head to the side to view the number stitched onto my chest with his creepy, grey, cross-eyed stare, “Twenty-seven.”
I wiped off my pants and adjusted my sweater before walking away and sneered over my shoulder, “Yeah, well maybe you should watch where you’re going, old man.”
Arriving at Filch’s classroom where Hermione was serving her detention, I peeked my head around the corner. Filch was sitting at his desk with Mrs. Norris curled up on his lap. They both seemed to be finding more amusement than necessary in watching Hermione on her hands and knees retrieving shards of glass and futilely attempting to fit them together. She would never get that done. It was impossible. Well, at least impossible to do by hand.
Usually, I would enjoy seeing Hermione in such a state of complete and utter distress, but right now, I needed her brains.
“Excuse me, Professor, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind helping me with my knitting – oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was interrupting something.” Perfect.
“Come in, Twenty-seven,” Filch said, although his voice sounded agitated. “Where is your knitting?”
“It’s er … well, you know it’s just gotten so messed up that I figured I’d have to start over,” I said as I began to walk to the basket filled with different assortments of yarn, then, pretending I’d spotted Hermione for the first time that night, said, “Wow, that looks like one time consuming job!” Near impossible, more like. “Wouldn’t it be nice if there were another way to fix your statue? You know … a faster way …”
“What are you talking about, boy?” Filch asked.
“Yes, Twenty-seven,” Hermione hissed and I could now see small dots of crimson blood spotting her hands from picking up the sharp jagged pieces of glass. “What are you talking about?”
“I just mean,” I shot a glare at Hermione to shut her up and let me handle it, “it was such a beautiful sculpture. I’d hate to see it put back together with paste – paste is such a sloppy thing. Now if there were another way to fix it – to restore its true beauty …”
Filch stared at me open mouthed for a moment as if considering, then shook his head swiftly and said, “There is no other way. Now if you would bring your yarn over here so I could help you …”
“You know what I’m talking about, Filch.”
“There is no other way!” he shouted and towered upright from his chair, causing Mrs. Norris to land on all four paws on the ground. “Do you need help or not?”
“No,” I shook my head and stalked toward the door. This was useless. Even the bloody professors were brainwashed. “But I know you know what I’m talking about.”
And I left him staring after me, longing in his eyes, because he knew the other way I spoke of and desired so desperately to see his precious sculpture put neatly back together again.
He just didn’t want it bad enough.
= = =
Midnight came and went, and Hermione still hadn’t returned from her detention. I lied down on the couch near the fire, with no intentions of actually falling to sleep.
“Draco, help us …” They wailed in my head. “Draco … Draco … Draco …”
My eyes snapped wide open. I rubbed the sleep away and wobbled onto my elbows. Hermione removed her hand from my arm where she’d been shaking me. “What time is it?” I asked groggily.
“A bit after three,” she answered. “You looked like you were about to fall off the couch.”
“What?” I asked, running my hands through my hair.
“You’re whole body was … convulsing in your sleep,” she said. “Were you having a nightmare?”
I closed my eyes and tried to recall my dream. They were screaming my name … all those people in the dungeon were pleading for me to help …
“Come on,” I said standing up and striding toward the door. “I have to show you something.”
Hermione sighed and glanced toward the stairs. “Can’t it wait until morning?” she asked in a whine. “I’ve just spent the last eight hours gluing a statue back together. I haven’t even had a chance to wash my hands yet.” She held up her hands for me to observe the cuts across her palms mixed with streaks of white paste, which she began to peel away in thin strips.
“Disgusting.” I cringed and turned away. “Go and wash up then; there are people being tortured in this castle.”
“Draco,” Hermione began, looking at me with sad eyes. “You were dreaming.”
“Yes, but I’ve heard them before. Tonight. Just before I came to see you in Filch’s classroom.”
Her eyes narrowed into thin slits. “You … you didn’t come to Filch’s classroom tonight …”
I stepped back, unsure of what to say. “What are you talking about?” I asked. “Of course I was there … don’t you remember? I was trying to get Filch to let you use … the M word …”
“No Draco,” she said, shaking her head slowly from side to side worriedly. “No one came tonight. I think you should just go upstairs and get some sleep.”
“But I was there! You saw me! What … what’s he done to you?”
“Filch didn’t do anything, Draco. He just sat in his seat all night. I think this has just been a hard few weeks for you and you need some rest.”
“What are you saying?” I asked, and could feel my voice rising in frustration. “What? Do you think I’m going mental or something? I know what I did last night, and you saw me there too! This school … something is not right with this school … it’s making everyone insane … it’s making everyone –”
My vision went black before I hit the ground.
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