The small doorway hid itself under a canopy of golden picture frames, nearly camouflaging with the drapery behind. Ron swore. “What's – I mean, where did that even come from? Did you see it when we came round the corner?”
Harry shook his head. “These glasses can't be very good anymore.”
“Yeah, yeah, blame the spectacles,” drawled Malfoy. “Never the prat wearing them. Anyway, even though I happened not to witness the door in that minute, I knew it was there hours before we arrived. I was just testing you.”
“So you can fortune tell as well now, can you?” Ron sniggered. “What a load of rubbish, though I'll give you points for imagination. Your excuses are getting wilder and wilder.”
Hermione walked up to the door, frowning slightly. Then, without warning, ran her hands over the knob. As with the keys, it was made up of Horned creatures – though that was where the similarity ended. “Drestina Capigal?” she murmured in astonishment.
“Bless you,” Ron said.
“No,” Hermione waved her hand. “Drestina Capigal – It is the name of a dark, mythical animal, part hawk, part alligator. It was rumoured that past relatives used these majestic beasts in wars. Everybody was terrified of them. I find them quite beautiful.” She smiled softly at the inscription, watching the bewitched alligator snap its jaws.
“You're barking,” Ron exclaimed.
“How can you think those ugly gits are beautiful?”
Hermione paused. “How can you think Lavender Brown is beautiful?”
“What?” he screamed. “I don't-”
“He does!” Malfoy joined in.
“Guys,” Harry interrupted. “Can we just open the door?”
“Why don't you do it, Potter?” snarled the Slytherin. “Show everyone how brave you really are, cause personally I think it's all a one man show, built from the foundations of an arrogant arse.”
Harry folded his arms. “Whose dare is this? Who is the reason we're here, traipsing up a dark tower in the middle of the night?” He arched an eyebrow. “Oh no, no if anybody should be doing this, it should be you. Wouldn't you agree, Hermione?”
Malfoy scowled. “Why would it be a problem? I could do that in my sleep. Yeah, it won't take much, going up to the door, and you know, standing there before knocking...................”
“Then stop talking,” Ron hollered, “and do it!”
Looking like he wanted very much to punch them, Malfoy tiptoed up, but an inch away from the door, he collapsed. “Ah, I think I've twisted my ankle.....”
“Oh, for goodness sake,” Harry strode forward. “We're not going to get anywhere if...........” Clutching hold of the door knob, a grimace settled on his face. “Right, ready?” They confirmed this, shaking. Even Hermione was a little disturbed. Bracing themselves, he swung open the door. What greeted him was not to be expected. “No, this doesn't make sense!”
“Son of a,” Ron began.
Malfoy didn't say anything. He just stood there, trembling before........... “This might be a stupid question, but,” he said awkwardly, “Why are we at the entrance to the tower again?” For once, neither of them argued, each unwillingly sharing the same uneasiness. Something about 'Devil Tower' (besides the name) was wrong, very wrong. What was going on?
Hermione was the first to regain a hold of the situation. “Ok, let's take a deep breath. Right, I think we've already established that this tower carries more secrets then we would have ever deemed possible.”
“That's putting it lightly,” Ron muttered under his breath.
“......so I think,” Hermione overrode him, “we need to have a look in the visitor's guide. I don't know why we didn't do this before really.” Sitting down, she made sure not to knock over any candles. “First, let's look up staircases............. Right,” the witch said on finding the right section. “Here it is. On ascending the staircase, you will see a little iron door. Open it, and bedroom 531 will greet you. This is where you should sleep for the night....... wait a minute. Bedroom 531? That can't be right. There are that many rooms in this tower, then?”
Harry frowned. “After what just happened, you could say the sky was yellow and I wouldn't even blink. Still, it is a bit weird. I never thought, I'd be the one to say this but I think,” he paused, just knowing that Malfoy was going to laugh out his next sentence, “I want to stop the dare.”
Right on cue. “What? After every sickeningly heroic thing the Chosen One has done, he wants to leave now because a door didn't lead him into the right Bedroom? This is brilliant,” he revelled, “I think you'll find you're the cow-”
“No, I think you'll find he's sensible, Malfoy,” Hermione bit across, “and I don't know about you, but I'm going to agree on the idea and act upon it. Ron, what do you think?” They looked to him.
He frowned at having been asked. “Yeah, it has kind of freaked me out a little.”
“So, we're leaving?” Confirmations passed around the circle. “Ok, let's go.” Hermione reached out, spread her fingers towards the handle and – gasped.
Instantly, Malfoy cowered.
The sixth year Gryffindor made another embarrassing attempt. Nothing. “I don't want to worry anyone,” she whispered with a scratch of tentativity, “but we can't get out.” Silence swallowed. “We're locked in.”
“Say that again,” Ron blurted, really hoping she was joking.
“We're locked in,” she repeated grimly, “I'm sorry. We're going to have to make the best of it.”
Malfoy made a noise like a baby mouse.
“- but, hang on,” Harry said in a skeptical voice, “These doors are like mazes. Surely they'll be another one that leads outside? We just have to wait.”
“It's an excellent reasoning,” Hermione said swiftly. “- but I'm afraid a spanner has already been thrown in the works.”
“Eh? What's a spanner?” a bewildered voice rose.
“It's another Muggle expression, Ron,” she said. “It means, there's going to be more trouble. Harry, I appreciate the plan, really I do, but what if the door never comes? We're going to be here for ages. Well, until the owners return, and that won't be for weeks. Still,” she commented with a strained optimism, “We'll manage. We'll stick together.”
“Probably not the best thing to say,” Harry couldn't help but comment, “given that the only reason we're together is that we hate each other.”
“The main point of all this, (and I know we're going through a lot),” Hermione stressed, “is to relax, calm down, think things through.”
“Mudblood, how can we possibly relax? I mean, not that I'm sc-”
Harry had had enough. “This isn't about the stupid dare anymore, Malfoy – just shut up!”
“Ooh, if my wand worked,” the Slytherin advanced, eyes red as a Demon's.
“Well, it doesn't, that's why we're in this mess, aren't we?,” Harry said, unregistering the colour of his foe's eyes. “If our wands were functioning, we could leave. Stupid – thing!!!” He shook it, as though expecting to see a thousand Cornish Pixies fly out the middle, “Hermione, why would the owners lie to you? I thought they were your friends!!”
“I know,” she said despairingly, her head low. “I'm so sorry.”
“Yeah, you should be-”
“OY!” Ron snapped.
“I never meant to bring all this on you.”
“If it's anybody's fault, it's Malfoy's making us do this stupid dare!”
“Shut up, both of you!” Harry yelled, ecstasy swallowing his tone. “It's another door!” Sure enough, another was there, but this one wasn't iron, it was a shimmering bright blue steel – as though painted today. Instead of a knob, it had a place for- “Great,” he said misreably, “We need-” Looking down, a smile carved onto his features. “Keys,” and in his pocket was a giant, golden pair.
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