Chapter 22 : Darkest Night
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She sat . . . and waited. The long, still silence of the night had yet to be broken but she knew. Somehow, tonight felt different. The energy in the air around her was filled with an emotion long-since felt within the school - fear. The previous months had become nothing but a distant memory to her, hidden amongst the shadows within her very brain. Memories that cried out with hate, anger and pain.
The crackeling of the fireplace was the only sound left in the common room. Everyone else had moved to their own dormitories to sleep . . . or prepare. Prepare for a battle no one was quite sure who would win or which side would prevail. The year had been a difficult one for the House of Slytherin. Their former Head of House was now a murderer and a known Death Eater. Professor Slughorn was placed in charge while, to everyone's surprise, Professor Snape returned to Hogwarts as Headmaster with the Carrow's as his thugs.
The mood of the house, to say the least, was tense. Sides had been taken, followers named and resistors punished. Everyone knew the end would soon come. Those against the Dark Lord were outcasts within their own house, punished along with the other houses and looked down upon by their fellow Slytherins. "Fraudulent Snakes" they were called and teased.
Being a 7th year, she was one of the ones in charge. Many nights were late ones as she was up all hours, trying to retain peace within the house and keeping a watchful eye on Slughorn. She didn't like the way he meddled in.
Things were much better when Snape was in charge. Rumors about him snaked through the entire student body. Many had their doubts of his true loyalties. She just hoped everyone would be proven wrong.
She often found herself in the Headmaster's office, speaking to him (and possibly Dumbledore's portrait) of all that was going on within the house. The division amongst them and who was for who. She still thought him to be a spy. Not serving the Dark Lord but the Order. One of the few who did, she was threatened and often hexed for it.
One of her last meetings with him was a sobering one. "What will happen we cannot stop." He spoke solemly as he sat behind his desk. He glanced to Dumbledore's portrait behind him. "We must be there to fight for the right side."
"Which side would that be, Sir?" she asked.
There was a long pause. "That will have to be your decision."
The clock on the wall chimed. It was now 10:30 p.m. Her clothes and travel cloak still on she stood, with wand in hand, and waited. Slowly, the room began to fill as older students awoke the younger ones and shuffled everyone to the common room.
The first years, she felt bad for them. How awful it must have been to have had such a year as this so young. But then, they all had suffered. She caught the eye of one of the first years and gave a small nod. No one spoke but a whisper as they all waited. A sign . . . or a signal. Something was suppose to happen. But nothing did. Doubt began to creep into the air as the minutes ticked away.
Did something go wrong? Did they win that quickly? All began to question their motives when Professor Slughorn rushed into the room. He was out of breath and held onto the nearest student.
"We're all meeting in the Great Hall," he told everyone, shocked to see that most were already prepared.
The Great Hall? That wasn't part of the plan. She glanced around to the other seventh years. All looked worried. Quickly as they could, they rushed out the common room door and up the twisting and winding stairwells. The other houses were already making their way into the Great Hall, some sending evil glares their way but the Slytherins continued to their table. She half-stood on the bench as she tried to count them all.
Everyone waited as McGonagall addressed the room. She looked around but did not see him. The staff table showed he wasn't there. A quick look about found him nowhere to be seen. Slowly, she stood. "Where's Professor Snape?" she asked, with all of Slytherin awaiting the answer.
Gone. He couldn't be gone. That wasn't part of the plan. She turned and gave a slight nod to her fellow conspirators. They knew. They all knew. As He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named voice echoed thorughout the school, the Slytherins began their next action.
Earlier that week, she accompanied a few of her fellow housemates as they took their concerns to their former Head of House. He was quite distant with them. He only left them with a warning.
"If I should ever leave the school, one way or another, it will no longer be a safe place. Get out quickly. Save as many as you can."
His message rang true to her as they listened to Parkinson speak. Being the first house allowed to leave was perfect. Parkinson glanced back to her and nodded. She had completed her task.
She stood and began ushering the younger students towards the doors. All rushed to the seventh floor Room of Requirement. Slytherin, followed closely (but not to close) by Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor.
They crawled through the tunnel to the Hogs Head upon which they scattered. Children of Death Eaters met up and headed out towards the Forbidden Forrest. The Resistors, as they dubbed themselves, and a few first years stayed behind.
She ran to the floo and quickly activated it. The noise level intensified as the battle outside began and hoards of students from all four houses had arrived through the tunnel. Older siblings and younger ones from different houses found one another amongst the crowd and quickly used the floo to get out of harms way.
The battle had already begun as the final few students exited the tunnel. Gryffindors . . . their biggest school rival. The oldest amongst them was a sixth year. He grabbed his wand from his sleeve and pointed it towards the remaining Slytherins as a few first years hid closely behind him. No words were spoken between the two groups. No one from either side dared to move.
It was a Slytherin first year who breathed first. She stiffled a cough as a loud blast ripped through the night's air. His wand moved towards the young girl when she stepped in front of her. "No," was all she whispered. "We are not the enemy." She stood, firmly planted between the Gryffindor and the Slytherin. Slowly, he lowered his wand and gestured for the first year Gryffindors to head towards the floo. A moment later, they were gone.
Another boom shook the entire restaurant as spells and fire lit up the night's sky. She took a deep breath before turning to the others. "We all know what to do right?" she asked, glancing out the window. They nodded as they shook hands and headed out into the village. A few were heading to the Forbidden Forrest to search for the spiders. Others were on their way in search of the centaurs and other creatures who would be willing to fight. She was about to head out to begin her task when a small tug on her sleeve caught her attention. She looked down to find four Slytherin first years hiding behind her. She glanced to their faces and knew. Orphaned like she, they had nowhere to go. Their only home was under seige and their school mates were against them. First years, this was definitely not part of the plan.
A loud bang sliced through the stillness. She had no other choice. It was no longer safe there. "Come on," she told them as she grabbed the sleeve of the nearest first year and ushered her to the door. "Stay close to me," she shouted as she stepped out into the street. "Don't fall behind!" She glanced around and spotted the nearest and what looked to be the safest place in town, the Shrieking Shack. "Follow me!" she shouted to them as she lead the way through the caotic street towards the ragged, haunted, run-down place.
The battle at Hogwarts could be seen in the distance as villagers ran about looking for people to fight or a safe place to hide. Diverting her attention for one moment, she glanced behind her to make sure the first years were still with her. Out of breath and frightened but all four were still there. A man from an allyway spotted them. "Hey! Slytherins!"
She turned in the nick of time to avoid a curse thrown at her but not quick enough to dodge the next one. She felt a sharp pain in her wand arm as blood began oozing down her sleeve. The first years stared in disbelief. Another curse was cast their way as others came out to join him. A moment later they were surrounded with at least twenty wands aimed at them.
"Look at what we have here, ladies and gentleman," the man from the allyway spoke. "A bunch of frightened, cowardly snakes!" He forced her to her knees as the first years stood to her side, huddled together. "Where you going, snake?" he asked as he placed her wand to her throat. "Off to find your master?" She spoke not a word as the other villagers began to laugh nervously.
A small voice crept through the tense crowd.
Booms and crashes filled the night's air as those assembled watched the south tower of the school collapse.
"Don't you see what's happening?" the small voice spoke again. Turning she noticed it was one of the first year Slytherins. "We are not the enemy," he stated, repeating her words from earlier that evening. "You call us cowardly," he spoke softly but firmly. "I don't see any of you heading to the school to help!" His voice got stronger as the crowd began to listen. "You stand here ready to fight mere children when there are evil grown ups terrorizing your every move!" A loud bang caught them all off guard as the spells cast from the smoldering school ricocheted off one of the few remaining walls and out to the village below.
"Leave them!" one of the ladies shouted. "Come on!" She turned towards the battle. "We can't let our children die for our freedom." Shouts from the crowd erupted as they rushed towards the school willing to do whatever they could to help.
For a moment, she couldn't breathe. The pain in her arm was too severe. She was loosing alot of blood. She tore her shirt and tried to wrap her wound but to no prevail. She caught the eye of the brave young Slytherin who saved them all. "Let's get out of here," she shouted to all of them. With the battle fully on, there was no way of reaching the safety of the shack. She glanced around to see the Weasley's joke shop. She smirked as she could think of no better place.
Holding her arm close to her, she quickly lead the four first years to the shop and charmed open the door. "Inside," she stated to them as they followed her in. The noise of the battle could still be heard but at least it was a safe place. . . for now. "Is everyone alright," she asked the four first years as she glanced down to her arm. It was getting worse, she may loose it all together but she wasn't about to tell them that. She glanced through the door to see a frightful sight.
The Dark Lord. . . . he was leaving the Shrieking Shack. She stayed hidden behind the door as she watched him head into the Forbidden Forrest. After a moment, she let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. To think of how close they all came to being killed, she shuddered at the mere thought of it. A tug on her sleeve brought her back.
She glanced down to see the brave first year by her side. "Has it always been this way?" he asked quietly. "Against our house, I mean."
She turned to face the others and walked over to them. "No, actually. It wasn't." She sighed as she thought back to her first few years at Hogwarts. House rivalries, yes. But to be an enemy just because of the house someone was sorted in . . . that came a few years later. After He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had fully returned.
She glanced towards the door. "There will come a day when all of this will be over. A mere memory for you," she began. "Painful to remember but difficult to forget." She glanced to each of them before continuing. "Just remember . . . there are both decent and cruel people sorted into all four houses." She looked down and her bleeding arm. "And not all Death Eaters were Slytherins."
"Are you proud to be in Slytherin?" one of the girls asked her.
She thought for a moment. "Yes," she stated quietly. "Proud, as you should be. My years at Hogwarts are all but ended. Your journey has only just begun." She smiled as the other girl in the group looked up at her. "This war will end. And one day we will be able to hold our heads up high again."
The calmness was interrupted by the sounds of war raging on around them.
"Do you think the good guys are going to win?" the brave Slytherin asked.
She looked from one young student to the next. "I have no doubt," she stated strongly. "We are going to prevail and victory and peace shall live amongst us all."
The younger students smiled as they glanced around the shop. One of the girls found five drinking glasses and quickly filled them with water. "A toast," she proposed as she passed the glasses to those assembled. "To Slytherin!"
"To Slytherin!" they stated before being drenched with water. She forgot. It was a joke shop after all. The younger students laughed at the scene causing herself to get the giggles. This was definitely not part of the plan.
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