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Chapter 36 : Summer Squall
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“Katie! Hermione! Draco! You okay?” he shouted above the whipping wind and crashing of thunder.
“Harry!” He heard Katie’s voice from close by, and then he saw her, swimming through the rough waves, a line tied to her waist. “You all right? Grab a line and tie it around you, so you’ll stay next to the ship!”
“Got it!” he yelled back, shivering.
“Good! Let me find Hermione and Draco,” Katie called, turning about.
She found Hermione being held by Draco, her friend had hit her head on a spar when the boat flipped over and was bleeding and barely conscious. Blood was dripping down her pale face into the water, and Draco was clinging with one white knuckled hand to the bulkhead. “Draco! Are you all right?”
“I think so!” he called back, coughing as water went into his nose as a wave broke over him. “But ‘Mione needs help! She hit her head pretty bad and I can’t reach my wand without letting her go.”
“Hang on! I’m coming!”
Katie kicked hard through the water. Soon she reached Draco and Hermione. She had her wand in a holder on her wrist. She grasped it and pointed it at Hermione’s bleeding forehead. “Episkey!”
The cut healed and sealed itself in two seconds.
“Wicked spell!” Draco praised. “But why isn’t she waking up?”
“Don’t know. My spell heals wounds and broken bones, but maybe not head trauma. Let me find you a line so you can tie yourselves to the ship.”
“How about calling for help?”
“I’ll shoot up a flare, but who knows if anyone will see. I don’t know if the mirror is still there. I’ll have to take a look.” She didn’t need to tell him that it wasn’t looking good.
The storm was raging and they had little hope of being seen despite the flares she would shoot off. Plus there was blood in the water, and that was a surefire way of drawing sharks. The best she could do was to try and fasten everyone to The Sea Treasure and hope that her father or another Sea Wizard checked the area for capsized crafts.
She cast a Bubble Head charm and dove beneath the surface, swimming under the Sea Treasure. She carefully made her way to where the small shelf was that she stored the mirror on and found it empty. Damn! Dad’s gonna have my arse, that was an expensive piece of equipment! Maybe I can Summon it?
She whispered softly, “Accio magic mirror!”
The sea roiled and churned beneath her. But nothing appeared, which meant the object she wished was not in range of her summoning. The water was cold and the wind was whipping the waves into a froth and she knew that unless she did something soon, she would start to develop hypothermia. And so would her friends. She recalled her father’s advice, “Katie, if you’re ever in a storm at sea and you fall into the ocean, you must do four things quickly, grab a rope and tie yourself to the ship, if the ship is out of commission, shoot a flare from your wand, cast a warming spell upon yourself and the water, and lastly, cast a Bubble Head charm, and if you’re able, call a dolphin to carry word back.”
She dove back under the boat and swam back to where her friends were tethered. Harry bobbed in the wave wash, some three feet from the boat. “Harry! Do you know how to cast a Flare Charm?”
He nodded. He groped for his wand, which was in its holder beneath his life vest around his waist. “Got it!”
“Hurry and cast it!” she yelled, then she chanted the spell. A glittering red ball shot out of the tip of her wand and exploded overhead.
Harry cast as well, but he wondered how anyone would see it through the driving rain and lightning. His teeth were now chattering. He managed to swim closer to the ship. He saw Draco holding Hermione. He saw his brother looking very concerned. “Draco, what happened to Hermione?”
“She’s hurt! She hit her head.” His brother shouted.
Harry could barely hear him. He coughed and choked as the waves broke over him.
He could barely see Draco and Hermione now.
Katie swam up beside him and tapped him on the shoulder. “Harry, I’m going to cast a Warming Charm on you, and also the water, so we don’t freeze to death.”
Soon he felt gloriously warm and the water he floated in felt like bathwater. “Thanks, Katie! Now what?”
“Have to . . .call a . . .dolphin . . .”
“A dolphin!” She mimicked the up and down motion of the famous mammal.
“Oh!” He gave her a puzzled glance. “How?”
“Who cares?” Draco put in. “Hurry up and do what you have to, Bell! Hermione could be dying!” He cradled his girlfriend as close as the vest would allow, pressing her into his shoulder. It’s okay, Mione. I’m here. It’s okay. Please don’t die on me. Don’t die.
“I’m trying, Malfoy!” Katie snapped back. “You ever try and concentrate during a bloody summer squall?” She took several deep breaths and then submerged herself beneath the waves once more. In order for the dolphin to hear he call, she had to send it underwater, where sound traveled quicker than above through the air.
Though the Bubble Head charm allowed her to breathe underwater, it did not illuminate the darkness, and she felt as if she were blind and deaf. She was scared to pieces that they would all drown here, in the unforgiving sea, and no one would know until weeks later. The sea never gives up her dead. That morbid line from a sailor’s sea chanty made her shiver worse than ever, despite the Warming Charm. Why didn’t I keep an eye on the sky? Dad always taught me to look at the clouds for warning when the weather would change. But I was too busy fishing and showing off my boat. And now look at the holy mess we’re in. She would have cried for the loss of her beautiful clipper, but she was too busy trying to save her friends and herself from the wild ocean to shed tears over her boat just yet.
Calm down, Bell, and concentrate! You know how to call up a dolphin, Dad made you practice till you were waterlogged all last summer. She had thrice called a dolphin to her while with her Sea Wizard father, but that had been in calm waters, not a storm.
Doesn’t matter. Dad said they’ll hear the call if it’s loud and true, no matter what the weather’s like topside. It’s all the same down in the depths. She spoke to herself sternly. You’re a Bell, you have seawater in your veins, now concentrate and call!
She forced her breathing to slow, to relax, and then she called upon the magic she had inherited from her seagoing ancestors, who had been masters of wind and wave and had an affinity for things that swam and crawled in the sea. Though she had not inherited the full-blown talent of a Sea Witch, she had enough to use to summon a dolphin.
Slowly, she sent out a slow pulse of magic, which echoed like a sonar through the water. Help! Help! This is Katie Bell, captain of Sea Treasure! Request emergency aid! Ship capsized in storm, bearings unknown! Repeat! Request emergency aid! She sent that over and over, making the water echo with her plea, loud, clear, and true.
Then she waited for five minutes.
Up above, Harry stared down at the spot where he’d last seen Katie. She had not come up in over five minutes and he felt his heart start to seize. “Katie!” he screamed. “Katie! Where are you?” She couldn’t have drowned. She had a charm on her. Oh, Lady Bright, I wish Duncan were here. But he’s with Luna, I’ll bet, and she lives . . .hell, I don’t even know where she lives . . .”Katie!” he shouted again, while lightning crackled and lit up the sky. Had anyone at all seen the flares? And even if they did, would they known where to find them. He wished they had that green dye to throw into the water like they showed on all those rescue programs on the telly. The dye stained the water blue or something and was easy to spot from the air.
How long does it take to call a bloody dolphin? The waiting was driving him crazy.
He drew in a breath to shout again, when Katie surged to the surface. “I did it!”
“Is it coming?” Draco wanted to know.
“Yes. How’s Mione doing?”
“The same.” Draco replied, trying to avoid getting smacked into the side of the ship.
“How long will the dolphin take to get here?” asked Harry, he swam close to Katie and wrapped an arm about her.
“Don’t know. Depends on how far away it was when it heard me,” Katie said. “Hopefully it’ll arrive in ten minutes or so.” She hugged him close.
It seemed like an eternity before Katie felt something nudge her foot. She nearly jumped out of her skin, but then a smiling face and a rounded dorsal fin broke the surface, and the dolphin’s happy chatter filled the air. It began to speak to Katie in weird whistles, squeaks, and groans.
“What’s it saying?” Harry asked, thinking it was too bad Hermione was knocked out, she would have loved to see a dolphin and hear it too.
“I’m not sure. I don’t speak dolphin that well, I’m not a full Sea Wizard. But it’ll understand me.” She began to speak rapidly to the dolphin. “Hello, Waverunner!” she greeted, for one of the things she had understood was the dolphin’s name. “I’m Katie Bell of the clipper Sea Treasure and I need you to relay a message to the Sea Wizard Edward Bell, onshore at Misty Mount. Tell him we’re in trouble and need emergency assistance! It’s a Code Red! Understand?”
The dolphin bobbed its head and whistled sharply. Then it burbled a short farewell and it leaped up and dived beneath the waves again.
“Is that dolphin going to get help?” asked Draco, half-floating in the water.
“I hope it finds someone right away.” Draco said. “Before we drown.”
“We’re not going to drown, Malfoy,” Katie said sternly. “Think positive, okay?”
“What’s positive about this damn situation?”
“You’re still breathing and so’s Hermione,” Katie replied promptly. “Keep doing it.”
Draco would have answered her back with a smart remark, but he found his rapier tongue had deserted him in the face of such terror. Funny, but he had always loved the sea and being near water, and now all he wanted to do was get back home. But another part of him was very annoyed that their fine catch had just gone down into the drink. All those hours—and delicious fish—wasted! Bloody damn summer squall!
Just then, a huge CRACK! split the air.
Draco almost came right out of his shorts. I’m sorry! God, I’m sorry! You can have the fish, but don’t kill us! He didn’t know who he was babbling to—God, the storm, the ocean—but he prayed it heard him. Because he really didn’t want to die at fifteen. He wondered where his father was, where the Captain was, and why no one had noticed that they were late getting back. Didn’t they know they were in trouble?
* * * * *
Severus had just sat down upon a wicker lounger to read a novel he had started back in May and had never finished, thinking how pleasant it was to just be able to relax. He had no tests to grade, essays to endure, or homework to decipher with students’ abysmal handwriting. For once, he could read for pleasure, and he intended to take full advantage of that fact while the children were out sailing.
Until a cloud scudded across the sun and he looked up to see a bank of black clouds looming offshore. Looks like a nasty storm is arriving, he thought, and rose to go inside the house. Then he recalled that the children were out in a sailboat and his overprotective instincts went into overload. He checked his watch. Two hours and they still weren’t back yet, and a storm was brewing on the horizon.
Fear swarmed up the back of his throat and crouched there, taunting him like a starving black beast.
He walked into the house and called, “Edward? Might I ask when you heard from the children last?”
Edward Bell looked up from the block of balsa wood he was carving into a seahorse, flicking the shavings from his lap. “A few hours ago. Katie contacted me on her mirror to tell me they were going fishing. What’s wrong?”
“There’s a storm brewing and they should be back by now.”
Edward set down his unfinished project and tools and Summoned his mirror wandlessly. “Katie? Come in, Katie, it’s Dad. Are you aware there’s a storm brewing? Katherine Elise, answer me!”
Nothing. The mirror remained unresponsive.
Edward swore a few blistering oaths and Marissa frowned severely at him.
“Really, Edward! You’re not on your ship, you know!”
“I’m sure Severus would be swearing too if he couldn’t contact his daughter when there’s a squall brewing.” He shook the mirror and tried again to contact his daughter. Still nothing. “Something’s wrong. She would never ignore a hail from me.”
Now Marissa looked alarmed. “Ed, maybe you’d better take Sea Lady out and go look for them.”
“My thoughts exactly, love.”
Severus gazed out the window. “I’m coming with you. Just in case.”
Edward looked at the other wizard and saw from his obdurate expression and clenched jaw that nothing short of death would keep Severus Snape on dry land. “Very well. Hope you have a strong stomach, Snape, because we’ll be sailing right into the teeth of a fierce little squall.” He began pulling on his oilskin coat and boots.
Severus gestured and his clothes Transfigured themselves into rain gear. “I’ve not done much sailing, but I’ve never gotten seasick, Bell. And I’m not about to start now.” He looked again at the darkening sky and heard thunder boom out in the distance. “Can’t you use your Sea Wizard power to calm the storm?”
“Yes, but not without expending tremendous magical effort. Tampering with the weather is not as easy as you think, and we who roam the sea try and do so very little, for it requires a delicate balance. Changing the weather without regard for anyone but yourself could result in disaster. Shift a storm off its natural course and you could cause a draught in a different part of the world, or a hurricane, or typhoon. You have to study the weather patterns carefully to avoid all that, and it takes time we can’t afford. Trust me, Snape. I can sail through it.”
Having no choice but to trust the expert, Severus merely nodded. Then he felt his Amulet of Inheritance start to burn, signifying that members of his family were in danger. He clasped the amulet and it warmed to almost searing at his touch. He got a picture of Harry and Draco bobbing in a storm-tossed sea. “Bloody hell, Edward! They’re in the ocean! Possibly drowning!”
“How do you know that? Do you have the Sight?”
“No. I have an amulet that’s attuned to my son Harry.” Severus panted, feeling his chest squeeze painfully. “Sometimes it warns me if they’re in mortal danger, like now. Hurry!”
“Can it guide you to them?” asked the Captain.
The two Apparated down to the dock where Sea Lady was tied. In two minutes, Edward had cast off and they were underway. But they had barely made it out of lagoon when a dolphin leaped in front of the ship, chattering loudly.
To Severus’ everlasting shock and anger, the Captain slowed the boat and leaned over the side. “What the blazes are you doing, Edward! We don’t have time to chitchat with a bloody dolphin!”
The Sea Wizard ignored him, continuing to commune with the grinning mammal.
Severus considered trying to scare the smirking nuisance away with a loud noise, but then the Captain straightened and said, “That dolphin was sent by Katie! Her sailboat’s capsized, but they’re all okay, and they’re requesting assistance from anyone available. Waverunner here has offered to guide us to them.”
“Dolphins are extremely intelligent. He can find his way back to them without a problem.”
“Echo location and a very good memory.” He waved to the dolphin, who turned and leaped forward. “Sit down, Severus. I’m going to put the wind in her sails and let her out.”
Hands glowing, Edward Summoned the wind and let it fill the Sea Lady’s sails. The sleek craft leaped ahead and kept right on the dolphin’s tail.
Severus gripped the rail and prayed they would be in time.
Harry’s throat burned and he coughed up salt water for the hundredth or maybe thousandth time. He couldn’t seem to avoid getting water up his nose or in his mouth, which felt like cotton. The warmth of the water couldn’t obliviate the exhaustion sweeping through him, as he fought to stay awake, because he had a feeling that sleeping was very bad right then. He had wrapped a small line about his wrist, tying him to Katie, who was floating next to him. His hand found hers and they clung together like a pair of barnacles.
The rhythmic slap-slap of the waves against the boat lulled them all into a stupor, until Hermione woke suddenly. She gasped as she looked about, and the first thing her eyes saw was Draco. The second thing was a large dorsal fin circling them.
She bit back a scream. This cannot be happening. I’m having a bad dream. There cannot be a shark circling us in the middle of a storm. That’s just plain nonsense.
“Draco?” she whispered. “What’s that?” she pointed to the rapidly circling fin.
Draco looked and went pale as snow. “It’s . . .bloody flaming shit! Katie, look over there and tell me if you see a sharl circling?”
Katie blinked and peered off to the right. There was a fin out there, of the wrong shape entirely to be a dolphin. She froze. “Nobody move. Stay very very still.”
“What is it? A real shark?” Hermione quavered.
“Yes. He was probably attracted by the blood in the water.”
“What blood in the water?” Hermione whimpered.
“You hit your head and were bleeding,” Draco elaborated.
“Oh God! What do we do?” Hermione cried. She did not wish to end up on a fish lunch menu.
“Stay still and wait.” Katie replied. “Don’t kick your feet, don’t start crying and screaming, a shark is attracted to movement and he can smell fear. So you have to be calm.” She reached out and grabbed Hermione’s hand. “Understand?”
The razor-sharp fin with its vertical tip continued to circle ever closer, following the blood trail in the water effortlessly.
Harry felt as if he had fallen into the set of JAWS. Only this time it wasn’t a mechanical shark.
The fin circled and circled, while the four friends struggled to remain still and calm and not panic, though any minute Harry expected to feel razor sharp teeth chomping down on his leg.
Who thinks the shark will attack them? How would you react in this situation?
Will Sev and Ed get there in time? Or should Katie be the one to save them all from being a shark snack pack?
Who likes JAWS, or any of its sequels?
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