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“Wait until I say ‘go’,” Ginny whispered, clutching her galleon as she, Michael, Susan, Colin and Terry hid in a secret passageway behind a hanging tapestry.
They had been waiting there for a while, and Ginny was beginning to get impatient. If they kept this up, it would be daylight before they reached the dungeons. She felt the galleon heat up, and then looked at it once it had cooled. All Clear.
“Ok let’s go.”
They crept along the corridor towards the dungeons as quickly and quietly as they could, each clutching a fake galleon. The stairs were dark, though they decided against lighting their wands, as it would draw attention to them. Instead they groped around in the dark, inching down step by step. By the time they had reached the bottom, their eyes had adjusted and they found the dungeons alright.
“Which one was it?” Susan asked quietly.
“I can’t remember,” Michael admitted, turning to Ginny.
“They never mentioned it,” Ginny said, irritated.
She peeked into the first one, pulling her head out immediately at the putrid smell.
“There’s definitely something dead in there,” Colin joked.
Without warning, Susan burst out crying. Michael launched himself at her and covered her mouth, though trying to comfort her at the same time.
“I knew we shouldn’t have brought her along,” Terry muttered angrily, drawing his wand. “Someone is going to hear us.”
“Calm down,” Ginny hissed, heading towards the second dungeon, taking a look inside. “They weren’t in there, don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll be alright.”
Dungeon two was empty, and so was number three. There was a huge hole in the wall where Fred and George’s brooms had crashed through two years earlier when they escaped Umbridge’s reign and Hogwarts. There was rubble still strewn across the ground, and Ginny wondered why they didn’t bother to clear it if they were going to be using the dungeons as frequently as they claimed they would be. She wouldn’t put it past them to use it as a usual punishment.
As the other three dungeons were empty, this left only number four. There were other ‘dungeons’ on upper levels, but they were all a lot brighter and didn’t have quite as much moisture seeping through the walls. The ones on the lowest levels, where they were sure the first years were being kept, had a lot more sinister feel and smell. Still, no matter how bad the rest were, dungeon four was the worst of the lot. Ginny inwardly cursed, remembering from the maps that it was the biggest and had very few places for them to hide should they get caught down there. She suspected that the Death Eaters would prefer this more complex dungeon to the other, simpler three, but she had still hoped.
The door was stuck shut, and both Michael and Terry had to use their combined strength to force it open. It was pitch black inside, so much so that Ginny chanced lighting her wand momentarily to see if Susan’s brother and his friends were in there. With this short flash of light, a large lump right in front of them was illuminated, and they jumped back in surprise. Ginny stood frozen for a few moments before trying again. The smell that reached her nostrils confirmed her suspicions, though it didn’t make it any better.
“They have trolls defending them?” Terry asked incredulously. “That’s absolutely ridiculous!”
“Terry if you don’t keep your bloody mouth shut I swear I will leave you here to keep watch,” Ginny snapped irritably.
“Nah, I want to come,” he whined, and Ginny rolled her eyes.
Thankfully, the troll seemed to be sleeping, though the smell of it was so bad Ginny thought she was going to pass out. She held her breath and kept going, making sure she didn’t trip on the cracking and uneven stone floor. She heard the door slide shut, and she lit her wand again. The others followed suit, and they followed her through the dank and dark dungeon, searching for the first years.
Every sound make them jump, immediately pointing their wands towards the place where the sound was heard. Water dropping on the stone, rats scampering along the cracks and even once Colin stubbing his toe on an unexpected step and swearing loudly. His voice echoed loudly, bouncing off the walls and they all froze, poised to run if need be. They heard voices up ahead, and four of them began to run, but Susan kept going towards the voices, with more determination than before.
“Where are you going?” Michael hissed, skidding to a stop to stare at her. “You’ll get caught.”
“That’s my brother’s voice,” she replied, glancing over her shoulder at him. “I’m not leaving them down here. Are we going to save them or what?”
Ginny personally thought she had taken leave of her senses, but she wasn’t going to leave her down in the dungeons on her own. Ginny followed her cautiously, and the boys came after them; wands pointed out in front and ready to run again. Taking the bend slowly, they saw a light up ahead. Hurrying their steps, they reached the entrance to the chamber. There was a small torch hanging on the wall, casting a dim light across the room. At first, the room seemed to be empty, and then the light flickered across the bloodied faces of three boys hanging by their wrists on the wall across from them. Susan ran over to her brother who was hanging in the middle, but the others just stood and stared, each appalled that those… creatures could do such a thing to children. Colin headed over and started soothing the boy on the right, who was sobbing loudly. Terry was feeling the neck of the small blonde boy on the left, who wasn’t moving or responding, a grim expression on his face.
“L-look after… Keira,” Susan’s brother, Perry, choked out, grabbing the front of Ginny’s robes as he fell to the floor once she had released him.
“Who’s Keira?” she asked, helping the shaking boy to his feet.
His eyes travelled to a dark corner of the room, and Ginny followed his gaze to see a small figure lay huddled on the floor, not hung up on the wall like the others. She hurried over to the girl’s side, who had her eyes screwed tight shut. Ginny touched her shoulder, but immediately recoiled.
“Get away! Don’t touch me!” the girl screamed, shuffling into the corner until the chains that restrained her wouldn’t let her go any further.
“Stop yelling,” Ginny hissed. “It’s alright. I’m not going to hurt you.”
Keira opened her eyes, looking quite surprised to hear a younger, kinder voice. She struggled towards Ginny with her hands bound together. Ginny held the girl tightly as she cried into her chest, stoking her matted black hair.
“H-he…he,” the girl tried to stutter between sobs.
“Don’t worry about it,” Ginny soothed her. “We’ll get you out of here.”
Michael collapsed beside them, wand out and already hacking away at the chains. Ginny pulled Keira aside to give him more room to work with.
“Come on, hurry up,” Terry urged them, heaving the unconscious boy onto his back. “I’ve only just got this kid to breathe. I don’t know how long he’ll last if we don’t get him to the hospital wing.”
“But the Carrows will catch him there,” Perry said anxiously. “They’ll know we’ve escaped.”
“We’re not worrying about the bloody Carrows,” Terry snapped at him. “If you value your friend’s life, then he’s going to the hospital wing. Who really gives a damn if a million points are taken from Hufflepuff and he gets a lifetimes worth of detentions. At least he’ll be alive.”
“Fine. You guys go. Susan and Colin, you take those two to the Room of Requirement where the others should be waiting for us to return,” Ginny instructed, pointing at Perry and the other standing boy. “Keep your coins handy. Terry, you get him to the hospital wing as soon as you can. If he is as bad as you say he is, don’t stop for anyone. Michael and I will free Keira. Go!”
Susan nodded, taking the young boys’ hands and running from the room. Terry left as well, except slower as he had the blonde boy’s dead weight on his back and didn’t want to jolt him around too much. Colin watched her, hesitating.
“Colin, GO!” she yelled at him.
“I don’t want to leave you.”
“I’m with Michael. We’ll be fine,” she assured him. “Just go. Susan needs your help.”
He nodded and left as well.
“You do know that we possibly won’t be fine?” Michael asked once Colin had turned the corner.
“Yeah,” she sighed. “I just don’t want him to worry about us. Let’s just do this and get out of here.”
Michael was having trouble with the chains, and had his tongue stuck out in concentration. He had freed her wrists, but the chains binding her feet to the ground seemed to have some kind of charm on them. Every time the chain broke, it would shatter for a few moments before repairing itself again.
“Once I break it, pull her far away,” Michael panted. “Ready?”
Ginny nodded, tightening her grip around Keira’s waist. Michael broke the chain, and she immediately heaved the girl out of the way, putting her down none too gently. A startled cry behind her made her swirl around again, seeing the chains attacking Michael, weaving around his torso. He looked shocked and fearful.
“Relashio!” Ginny yelled, pointing at her wand at the chains.
They stopped entangling him, but didn’t release him. She fell to her knees beside him, yanking at the chains with her hands. Frustration mounting, she used her wand again.
“Sorry, Michael,” she told him, stepping back and shielding Keira with her body.
“W-what?” he asked, fearful. “You’re not going to leave me here, are you?!”
“Reducto!” she cried, hearing the explosion as it reached it’s mark and feeling the sharp pieces of metal piercing her flesh.
The chains were gone, leaving a small crater right next to where Michael lay, hyperventilating. The chain had exploded outwards, which had thankfully left Michael generally untouched. However, Ginny could feel herself going weak in the knees and a little light headed with the pain.
“Please don’t do that again,” he choked, getting to his feet shakily.
“Sorry,” she tried to smile, but failed miserably.
She tried to walk forward, but her feet wouldn’t cooperate and she ended up stumbling into Michael’s chest.
“Are you alright?” he asked, helping her to her feet.
She nodded, but stopped quickly because they room around her had suddenly started spinning and she felt a strong desire to throw up. She inwardly cursed at her weakness. She had faced the cruciatus curse, so this should be a breeze to handle. They heard a low rumble coming from the antechamber, and exchanged fearful looks.
“Come on,” Michael said, gripping Ginny around the waist and supporting her. “Can you stand? You’re losing way too much blood. And I think we just woke up the troll. We’ve got to get out of here.”
They made their way towards the door, Keira leaning over to quickly pick up Ginny’s wand before following them. The journey seemed to be a lot longer this time around than it had been before. Ginny shuffled as quickly as her throbbing body allowed her, which wasn’t very fast. To their horror, once they reached the antechamber, they saw that the troll was indeed awake, and much larger than they had anticipated. It was so big it had to duck its head to stand up. Behind it stood their destination and freedom
“Keira, try to get Ginny across to the door. I’ll try to distract it,” Michael instructed, but Ginny refused to lean her weight on the girl. “You can’t fight in this condition, Ginny,” he told her angrily. “You may want to prove yourself as a good leader, but getting yourself killed isn’t a good start.”
“I’m not going to fight, Michael,” she told him, screwing up her face as a fresh wave of pain hit her. “And I'm not going to die, either. I just don’t want to crush the poor girl.”
He rolled his eyes and pulled out his wand, sending a few stunners towards the troll to distract it. Ginny placed a heavy hand on Keira’s shoulder and they made their way towards the door behind the troll. Ginny pulled the girl to the ground as the troll swung its club at them, enraged by Michael’s spells. They crawled along the cold stone floor, avoiding the troll’s heavy feet. Thankfully, the others had left the door open when they left, so Ginny and Keira reached the corridor outside dungeon four without having to winch it open like Terry and Michael had had to do earlier. Ginny quickly dodged one of Michael’s rogue spells, watching as it smashed into the wall just above her head.
“Watch it!” she yelled at him. “Come on, we’re out!”
He made a break for it, ducking underneath the troll’s club and sliding into the corridor, scraping down his side. Ginny helped him get to his feet, still gripping Keira’s shoulder for support. Her legs felt a lot stronger, and were probably getting over the initial shock of the impact. Reaching dungeon three, the stairs were finally in sight, and they hurried their steps to reach it.
Suddenly, Michael shoved Ginny through the hole in the wall, Keira landing on top of her a second later. She was about to yell at him when he jumped in after them and pressed a finger to her lips, silently pleading with her.
Then she heard them. Yells, voices, curses.
She was paralysed with fear as Michael tried to cover them with rubble from the floor. As the voices of the Carrows came closer, Ginny realised that Michael was making such a fuss about hiding her and Keira being hidden, he was sitting out in the open. She shoved him away, telling him silently to hide. He got up and rushed to the other side of the room where another pile of rubble was. However, that split second he was in sight from the corridor, he was hit by a flash of red light and he crashed head-long into the wall, falling to the ground. Ginny muffled her squeak of shock, trying not to move a muscle. Keira, who was hidden underneath her, shifted her weight uncomfortably and a rock rolled out from the pile. She hoped it went unnoticed
“We’ve got one!” someone yelled joyously, their silhouette reflecting in the doorway.
Ginny watched as Crabbe swaggered over to Michael, roughly picking him up by his hair. Ginny stiffened as Crabbe dragged him past the place where she and Keira lay hidden.
“Who is it?” asked a wheezy voice, which Ginny recognised as Amycus Carrow’s.
“Excellent,” he cried happily, clapping his hands together. “He was probably coming down here to rescue those first years. Are there any others?”
“Keep looking, then. He wouldn’t come down here by himself.”
She saw Crabbe nod, and they moved on to the next dungeon, Alecto Carrow and several students following. Ginny was sure that they were all from Slytherin. Once they had passed, Ginny quickly dug Keira out of the rubble before the poor girl suffocated. When she was free, she tried to help Ginny up, but with no prevail.
“Listen, Keira,” Ginny whispered, taking her hand and bringing her down to look into her face. “Do you know what Dumbledore’s Army is?”
The girl’s eyes widened with shock.
“Y-yes,” she stuttered. “Are you… I mean, are you part of it?”
“I’m the leader,” Ginny told her, smiling grimly. “Go to the seventh floor corridor, and wait outside the portrait of a guy trying to teach trolls to dance. Hopefully someone will find you there. Tell them Ginny Weasley sent you.”
Keira nodded and took off up the stairs. Being so little, she didn’t make much of a noise, and Ginny was thankful for that. She hid herself in the rubble again when the screams started. She screwed her eyes shut as she heard Michael’s drawn out cries of pain echoing throughout the dungeons.
They had found out what they had done, and now Michael was suffering the consequences.
She suddenly wanted to run to her friend and suffer as well, because it was as much her fault as his, if not more so. She deserved it more than he did. She half rose from her position on the floor, but her legs wouldn’t move, so she was forced to lie against the wall, listening to his screams over and over again for what seemed like hours. Every fibre of her being was being ripped apart with such misery. She heard feet pounding on the stone floor, coming towards her.
Find me, she thought. Find me and punish me like you are to him.
Shaking arms enclosed her, roughly pulling her into a relieved hug. This wasn’t the kind of reception she was expecting, especially when the person started kissing the top of her head feverishly. She opened her eyes slowly and looked into the grieved face of Colin Creevey. She flung herself into his chest once again and cried as he held her close to him, his own tears flowing down his face. They held each other until the screams stopped, followed by the sound of someone sobbing. Heavy footfalls sounded in the corridor, announcing the departure of Michael’s torturers. As Colin stroked Ginny’s hair absentmindedly, she fell asleep in his arms.
A/N Ok, so this was a pretty packed chapter. Please tell me what you thought of it in the form of a review :) If you've made it this far, you must have some interest in this story. With that said, have a very Merry Christmas!