Chapter 2 : Chapter 2
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James switched places with Aidan so that he could see into the room. As Aidan poked his head out and looked inside, he nearly gasped. Most, if not all of the students and professors were crowded into the center of the room. Death Eaters surrounded them. Aidan bit his lip, taking in as much as he could while asking himself questions that, at the moment, didn't matter at all.
How had these Death Eaters gotten into the school? How had so many of them escaped Azkaban and not gotten caught? How had they managed to round up all of those students and professors so quickly?
Rodolphus was no longer looking at the door, otherwise he would have noticed Aidan. He glanced at his brother, Rabastan, who nodded. Rodolphus continued. "Fourteen of us escaped from Azkaban. The rest of us," he said, motioning towards the other Death Eaters in the room, "are new. Most are our children, fighting alongside their parents for a cause they believe is just. We, as small in number as we are, managed to take complete control of this castle in only a few hours. Now, I ask that you do not take my next offer lightly."
Rabastan's eyes began to move from one student to the next, as though he was examining each student carefully. Rodolphus paused, gathering his thoughts before he spoke again. "I will allow any student who is willing to join our ranks to do so."
As there had been before, when Rodolphus had threatened them with death, there was a sudden surge in conversation as students turned to each other and wondered what this man was actually proposing. Rodolphus stood silent for a moment, allowing them a moment to talk, before he asked for silence.
"Some of you may be thinking that to take this offer means you receive your freedom. I'm afraid that is incorrect. To take this offer means to take the Dark Mark as well. If you take this offer, you are a Death Eater."
Those students who had been considering the offer for the very reason Rodolphus had described were no longer considering the offer. Even the Slytherins were reluctant to raise their hands and volunteer. Rodolphus waited a moment longer.
Six hands shot up at once. Not surprisingly, they were all Slytherins. Rodolphus, allowing a small smile to cross his face, called them up to stand with him on the table he was on. They stood in a line, one of them looking like he rather regretted raising his hand already.
"Your name, and then your mark," Rodolphus said, indicating that first they would give him their name and then he would give them their mark.
The first person to go in front of Rodolphus was a girl; a Slytherin seventh year that Aidan and James had grown to dislike. She was fairly pretty, with long black hair and dark brown eyes. Her skin was pale, and she spoke quickly and loudly, making sure everyone could hear her as she said, "Ursula Flint."
Rodolphus nodded, and placed the tip of his wand against her arm. He muttered the spell, and Aidan could see Ursula wince as the Dark Mark appeared on her arm. A moment later, however, and it was over. Rabastan quickly pulled her off of the stage and motioned for the next student to step forward.
Arion Montague, Ivan Goyle, Liam Vaisey and Alastair Baddock received their marks without any incident. When it came time for Octavian Nott to receive his, he looked like a nervous wreck; he was sweating, shaking and couldn't even look at Rodolphus' face. Rodolphus, easily noticing how nervous the boy was, asked him, "Would you like to go and sit back down?"
Octavian shook his head and stuck his arm out for Rodolphus to mark, saying as loudly as he could, "Octavian Nott, sir!"
Rodolphus' small smile returned, and he quickly put the mark on Octavian's arm. The six Slytherin students then followed Rabastan over to a corner of the room and stood silently.
"Any more volunteers?" Rodolphus asked, scanning the crowd of students. "No? Well then, you all will be staying here for awhile. Feel free to make yourselves comfortable."
He stepped off of the table; Rabastan left the Slytherin students, and several other Death Eaters followed Rodolphus.
Aidan turned to James, wide-eyed and scared. "What are we going to do, James?"
James had sat against the wall, closed his eyes and began to think. He opened them and looked up at Aidan before saying, "We should get to the Owlery. We can send my dad a message, and he'll be here as quickly as possible."
Aidan nodded. "Sounds good to me. Let's go."
"Rodolphus, what are we going to do with those Slytherin brats?"
"Calm down, Yaxley. They will serve their purpose."
"Rodolphus, I believe we're missing some professors and students."
"I agree, Rabastan."
"Most notably, Longbottom."
"Set up patrols. Groups of three or four. Have them roam the halls of the castle searching for students and professors; anyone they find, I want to talk to myself."
"One last thing, Rodolphus."
"Why did you give those kids the Dark Mark? They certainly haven't earned the right."
"No, they haven't. But it's our way of ensuring loyalty."
"They have the Dark Lord's symbol on their arm, Yaxley. Think about it."
James Potter and Aidan Abercrombie were hiding out in an abandoned classroom for the moment, trying to figure out what their next move should be. They had been whispering amongst themselves for about five minutes about how they would actually get a letter off to the Ministry and whether or not that was such a great plan after all. There had been nothing wrong with the original plan until Aidan had asked James, "How are we going to get to the Owlery?"
This had led to James and Aidan finding an abandoned classroom and beginning an argument about whether or not they could actually get out onto the grounds. Aidan argued that they certainly couldn't just walk out of the front doors of the castle and that none of the secret passages in the school led out to the grounds; most, if not all of them, either led to some other part of the castle or out into Hogsmeade, which would do them no good. James then asked what was wrong with Hogsmeade then, and Aidan then posed the question, "If they've taken Hogwarts, why wouldn't they have taken Hogsmeade, too?"
They were unsure as to what to do. James looked around the room; it was fairly obvious that it hadn't been used in years. There were layers of dust covering everything in the room; cobwebs could be seen in nearly every corner; the desks looked as though if you sat in them they would fall apart instantly. He said, "We could always just climb out of a window."
"Did you hear that?" Aidan asked, ignoring James' suggestion.
"Yes, it was me talking."
"No, I mean the other voices," Aidan said, frowning at James. "Be quiet."
James closed his mouth, listening intently for any other sounds. Almost immediately he heard what Aidan had; two voices arguing. It sounded like they were just outside in the hallway.
"Quick, Aidan. We need to hide," he said, looking around the room for somewhere to hide in case the voices decided to enter the room. Aidan pulled out his wand and cast a quick Disillusionment Charm, rendering him almost completely invisible; he would blend into the background, so that no one would be able to notice him there unless they looked extremely closely. James mimicked his friend, casting the same charm, and not a moment too soon. The door opened, allowing them to hear the voices clearly now as two men walked in.
"Yaxley, this won't work," said the one, a short, frail looking wizard who had a thick, gray beard and dark green eyes.
"Be quiet, Travers. We don't need anyone overhearing us and reporting us back to Lestrange," said Yaxley, glaring at his fellow Death Eater. He quickly pointed his wand at the door, which resulted in it creaking shut. He pointed his wand at various places in the room, from the door to the only window, muttering spells, before he addressed Travers once again.
"We shouldn't be overheard now, but I'd rather not take any chances," Yaxley said, quickly glancing around the room. James stood still; he would rather not be caught by Yaxley and Travers.
Travers walked over to the window and replied, "No one will go along with this, Yaxley."
Yaxley watched him for a moment, smirking. "What about you?"
Travers was silent for a moment, and James began to wonder if he was going to respond. Travers stared out the window, as if he were looking for something. "I like you, Yaxley. I believe you could lead the Death Eaters as well as Lestrange."
"What do you mean, as well as? Not better than?" Yaxley asked, looking a tad frustrated.
"Exactly," Travers replied, ignoring Yaxley completely. "Lestrange is old. He's loyal to the Dark Lord, but Lestrange and his brother are loyal to themselves as well, just like the rest of us. Rabastan isn't a leader; Rodolphus knows that. However, he would never just hand over control of the Death Eaters to someone he wasn't certain he could control himself."
Yaxley nodded. "What is your point, Travers?"
"He'll hand over leadership to his son, Adrastos. If not him, then Rabastan's son, Castor. You, Yaxley, are about as likely to be picked as his successor as myself."
"I'm aware of this," Yaxley said, though he looked none too pleased after hearing it from his fellow Death Eater. "That is why I'd like to change things up a bit."
"I know what you want to do, Yaxley, and as I told you moments ago, it won't work," said Travers, still ignoring Yaxley.
Noticing that the other man was ignoring him so tenaciously, Yaxley said, "At least have the decency to look at me while we're speaking, Caesar."
Caesar Travers closed his eyes, sighed, and turned to face Yaxley, his eyes open once again. "Very well, Yaxley. What do you have in mind?"
"All we need to do is kill Rodolphus and his brother-"
"Doing that," Travers interrupted, "would only get us killed. Do you think that by murdering them you immediately inherit their status as leader of the Death Eaters? Don't forget, Yaxley, they have children here who would quickly murder you themselves."
Yaxley nodded, about to tell Travers how his plan had that covered, but Travers continued regardless. "I'm sorry, Yaxley, but I will not commit myself to this until you have a solid plan. From the looks of things, your plan is anything but solid. Talk to me once you have everything figured out."
Travers walked right past Yaxley and out the door, leaving it open. Yaxley looked surprised, though after a moment his surprise turned to anger, and he left the room as well, slamming the door shut behind him.
James waited as long as he could bear before he undid the Disillusionment Charm. Once he reappeared, Aidan did as well. Aidan looked pale and a little scared, and James could understand why. They had been within feet of two Death Eaters. James watched the door, almost expecting it to creak open once again. It did not, and Aidan spoke, in a hoarse whisper, "What was that all about?"
James shrugged. He didn't want to think too hard about it; all that he wanted to focus on was getting to the Owlery and sending a letter off to his dad. The last thing he needed to worry about was whether or not the Death Eaters were getting along.
"Let's go," James said, moving towards the door.
Aidan nodded, and James could hear him mumble quietly to himself, "Maybe they'll start killing each other."
James cracked open the door, peeking out through the thin gap. He saw no one and, motioning for Aidan to follow, he opened the door wider and left the room. They would need to find a way to get to Owlery now.
"Yeah, Aidan?" James asked, trying to speak as quietly as possible, in case a Death Eater was walking around the corner.
"What was it you said earlier about climbing out a window?"
James stopped, surprised by the question. "What?"
"Well," Aidan said, "Earlier, before those two Death Eaters walked in, you were saying something about climbing out a window to get to the grounds."
"Are you suggesting we try that?"
"Obviously, James," muttered Aidan. He headed back into the room and over to the window, James right behind him. James stood silently as Aidan attempted to open the window; once, twice, three times. No luck.
Aidan turned to face James and said, "It's stuck. It won't budge."
"Maybe it's one of Yaxley's spells," suggested James. After all, Yaxley had placed spells all over the room.
Aidan frowned at the suggestion. "We'd best forget about this window, then. We have no idea what kind of spell he used; for all we know, casting any random spell on it could mean serious injury. That's the last thing we need."
"You're too cautious about things, Aidan," James replied, though he did not pull out his wand. He knew his fellow Gryffindor was correct; the spell Yaxley had placed on the window could have been any number of things, and they didn't want to take the risk, especially in their situation. They left the room again and began searching, cautiously, for another room.
It took them about three minutes to find another room; in this case, the muggle studies classroom. James had never been in the classroom, and he didn't think Aidan had either, but he wasn't going to check it out right now. Instead, he walked over to the professor's desk, found a decently sized piece of parchment, a quill and a bottle of ink, and quickly wrote a note to his father describing their situation. While James was busy doing this, Aidan went and closed the door behind them, muttering, "Colloportus." He finished, rolled up the note and stuck it in his pocket. He walked over to the window, only a few steps behind Aidan, and stood silently while Aidan opened the window. Once this was accomplished, Aidan looked down.
"It's sort of a long drop, James," he said, removing his head from the window and looking towards the door.
James shook his head, smiling. "Aidan, I've fallen twice as far twice as often while playing Quidditch. This is nothing to worry about."
"We could use a Cushioning Charm, just in case?" asked Aidan, debating with himself whether or not it was worth it to argue. The longer they stood there, the less time the people in the Great Hall would have.
"Whatever you want to do, Aidan," James responded, though he could see Aidan was right. It looked like a short drop, though if he managed to break his leg they would be in serious trouble. He allowed Aidan to go first, stepping away from the window.
Aidan pointed his wand at the ground, mumbled the incantation for the Cushioning Charm and, after a second's hesitation, leaped. James looked out the window to see Aidan standing already, perfectly fine. James jumped out after him, landed safely, and stood.
They both hurried off, now sprinting in an effort to reach the Owlery as quickly as they could. James was certain that the Death Eaters would not be looking outside, and even if they were, the two of them had to get this letter off to the Ministry. If they didn't, anything could happen. Who knew what the Death Eaters were planning?
It took them ten minutes to reach the Owlery, and they quickly bounded up the stairs to reach the owls. Once up the stairs, James picked out an owl and quickly strapped the note to it. "This is extremely important," he told it, "and it goes to the Ministry. Auror Department. Harry James Potter."
The owl gave a little nod and took off. James watched it fly until he could no longer see it, and then sat down against one of the walls of the Owlery. Aidan joined him, and said, "Do you think that's it, then? Just an owl to the Ministry and we've beaten the Death Eaters?"
James shrugged. "I hope so."
It took them another ten minutes to find the window again. They had left it open on purpose; without it, they would have been forced to enter through one of the doors on the ground floor, which was likely not the best idea. Both of them were sure that the Death Eaters were guarding the entrances to the castle, and they did not want to get caught. Once they found their window, they stood silently, staring up at it as though they were waiting for someone to throw a rope down to them for them to climb up.
"How are we getting back up there, Aidan?" James asked, frowning.
Aidan shrugged. "We could try Mobilicorpus."
James nodded, and Aidan quickly cast the spell. James held back a yell as he was jerked off the ground and thrust a few feet into the air, where he remained as Aidan stood concentrating. As slowly as he could, Aidan rose his wand upward towards the open window; James levitated higher as the wand moved upwards, until he was next to the window. Aidan moved his wand a bit to the right, sending James inside. As soon as he lost sight of James, he heard a loud noise that likely signified James hitting the floor. James' head poked out, and he pointed his wand at Aidan. Aidan watched as his friend muttered the same spell, and he too began levitating up to the window. Once he was safe inside the room, they closed the window behind them and walked over to the door.
They opened the door; once they were confident that there were no Death Eaters out in the hallway, they proceeded down the hallway. Not once did they see or hear a Death Eater walking by; the halls were silent.
"Maybe they know what we've done?" Aidan suggested, the silence unnerving him.
"Or maybe they're fulfilling their promise and killing some of the students and professors," James replied.
Aidan glared at him. "Is it really that hard for you to be optimistic, James?"
"Wondering if they've figured out we sent a letter to the Ministry isn't all that optimistic either, Aidan," James retorted, shaking his head. "Let's hurry up and see what's going on."
Privately, James was sure that the Death Eaters did know what they had done, or at the very least, they knew that James was in the castle and that the idea would certainly be in his head. Why had Rodolphus not sent some of his Death Eaters to quickly capture him and get rid of any threats he may have left in the castle? Why had he let him walk away? He didn't know, and he more than likely didn't want to know.
They arrived at the Grand Staircase and began their descent to the ground floor. Their Transfiguration professor's body still lay on the ground; James could see the man's wand poking out from beneath his robes. He looked away; he didn't care for staring at dead bodies.
They stood inside the room that contained the Grand Staircase, their backs against the wall so that they could look out the archway and see what was going on in the Entrance Hall. James could see three Death Eaters standing in the hall, only one of which he recognized; Rookwood and two others, who appeared to be brother and sister. It appeared that the woman was telling a joke to her brother, while Rookwood stared at the door, obviously not finding the joke at all funny.
It was then that they heard a knock on the door. James frowned, as did Aidan. Why would anyone knock on the door? If it was a Death Eater, surely they would let themselves in. If it were the Ministry, they would simply come in and take care of the Death Eaters. Who in the world would knock? Rookwood seemed to be thinking these very same questions, as he glanced into the Great Hall and motioned for someone to come over.
Rodolphus Lestrange and five other Death Eaters appeared to back up Rookwood and the two siblings. Rodolphus pointed at the door and said something to Rookwood that James could not hear. Rookwood nodded and walked to the door, pulling it open. The other eight Death Eaters stood, their wands ready.
What unnerved James the most about who walked through the door was not who they were, but how many there were. They were Aurors, which made him feel a little better, but then again, there were only two of them.
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