Chapter 2 : Petrified
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Muo and Piddel looked up at the stone wall yet again, this time from a much closer position. The two had climbed a tree growing against the stone of the castle. He wasn't worried about getting caught, as he had provided the two with a shield of invisiblity. All they need to do now was scale the wall, and they would be inside.
Muo moved to his left, almost pitching himself off the thick branch. 'Piddel...' he said menacingly, almost boiling over with rage.
'Oh, yes sir.' Piddel said quickly, shifting so Muo could now use his entire chest and legs as a foot softener, as Muo claimed he couldn't perform spells while his feet scraped off the rough bark.
The satyr winced as Muo stomped around near his abdomen, cupping his hands protectively to avoid a serious injury. 'Now,' the little man said, raising his wand. 'Wingardium Leviosa!'
The two floated up the side of the wall slowly, reaching a window near the top. Muo climbed inside and lowered his wand. He heard a short scream and spun around to the sound of Piddel hanging off of the ledge. 'Oh, all right.' the little man said after some time. He swished his wand and the satyr floated into the room, making a loud thump.
'Be quiet!' Muo whispered harsly, reappearing. 'and take off that invisibility! I feel like I'm talking to myself!.
They moved into the room, both visible now, and looked around. 'Ahh yes,' Muo said. 'We must be in a dormitory. The dungeons shouldn't be far.'
As they were about to move for the door, it flew open and a boy stood there, wand outstretched.
'Who are you two?' he asked, a small note of fear sounding in his voice at the sight of the large, horned man.
'Ahh, a student.' Muo said, eyeing the boy in the doorway.
The boy looked down, seeing a wretched, grey little man with large ears, and sharp, poited little fangs. His entire face seemed to be almost batlike, with small, beady eyes and an short, pointed nose. The little man was draped in a dark brown robe, which was much too big for him.
'Finnigan, isn't it?' the little man said darkly, closing is eyes.
'How...how do you know my name?' the boy asked, his wand now quivering.
The little man just chuckled, drawing a short, thin wand from behind his back. He pointed the wand at the student. 'Because, my boy, I need you.' he said with an evil grin.
'What...' the boy started to say, but a flash of blue light blinded him, and everything went black.
* * * * *
Harry sat in the common room some time later, thinking hard about his dream. He could remember all the details perfectly, except the mystery girls' face. He strained, trying to recall any detail about it, but failed. The reason the girl had bothered him so much was that she was not Cho Chang, the girl Harry had been taken with for the past four years. Many times had he had felt that Cho would be the girl for him, but now it seemed different, as if someone else was standing in front of Cho in Harry's mind, but he couldn't put his finger on who it was.
He didn't have long to think about it, however, when Ron came bursting in through the common room door.
'Harry! Why are you just...sitting around!?' he asked excitedly. 'We have the day off, and today was double potions!' Ron said enthusiastically.
Double potions was always a nightmare for Harry and Ron. Come to think about it, double potions was a nightmare for anybody. The fact that they has escaped a full hour and a half of the classes seemed to ease Harry's mind for the time being, and he left the Gryffindor common room with Ron.
'What do you think all this "valse" buisness is about, anyway?' asked Ron. 'I've heard Mum talking about it before, it's in one of her Sorrowful Sorcerer editons,' he told Harry. 'Not that I read them,' he added hastily, going pink around the ears.
'I don't know,' Harry replied, feeling frustrated at his ignorance to the wizarding world.
'It's supposed to be some kind of magical night, or something. People are supposed to act...well, not right.' Ron said worriedly.
'Well, if it's supposed to be a problem, we could ask. Hagrid would have been here more than twenty years ago, let's go ask him.' Harry suggested. 'And we could find out who he's taking.' he added with a wink, starting for the main door.
The two ran down the hallway and out to the main entrance heading for Hagrid's hut. When they reached the front steps, Harry noticed a figure moving towards them. The person was wearing students clothing, but was covered in mud from head to foot. As the student approached Harry saw that it was Dean Thomas, a Gryffindor who shared the same room as Ron and Harry. He seemed fine, apart from the fact that he was covered from head to foot in mud, and had a strange, glazed look over his eyes. Ron looked at Dean, 'Are you alright?' he asked him.
Dean shifted his zombie-like gaze from a spot above Ron's head to meet his eyes. 'Fine, slip..' he mutered, and walked into the front door of the castle, dragging his feet with every step.
'What do you suppose that was all about?' asked Ron, bewildered.
'I don't know.' Harry replied. 'Let's get to Hagrid.'
The two ran the rest of the way to Hargrid's hut, knocking loudly on the door. Hagrid opened the large wooden door, smiling as he looked down at the two. ' 'Bout time yeh come ter see me!' he said as he let them in. 'Been nearly drowned the past few days,' Hargrid told them, sitting down. 'Mind, the rain wasn't as bad as the leaky ceilin', drippin' all night.'
'Hagrid,' Harry started. 'What do you know about the Spring Valse?'
Hagrid looked down at the two, eyeing them suspiciously. 'What do you two want teh know 'bout that fer?' he asked them.
'Just curious.' Ron replied.
'Well, in that case,' Hagrid said, 'Wouldn't hurt teh tell yeh...The Valse is a strange time, it is. No one's sure how teh explain it, but they know that strange things start happenin'...people get all, strange.'
'What do you mean, strange, Hagrid?' asked Harry.
'They do things they wouldn't normally be doin', and it happened right 'ere, a long time back, 'round forty years ago.' Hagrid told them, thinking deeply.
'What happened?' asked Ron.
'Well, people started actin' all funny, and some boy and girl were caught in the bathrooms, well..yeh know..' Hagrid said, looking embarassed.
The boys nodded.
'The two of 'em got real mad at the student that caught 'em, and ended up gettin' in a great big fight. One of the students got, changed, he did. Tried some magic on the other student, but 'cause of the funny air durin' that time, it backfired. No one saw the lad again, just vanished. The prefect that caught 'em was hit too, got scared out of his wits, he did...he never got put right, either. S'pose they're still alive, but I don't know fer certain... Strange thing is, I knew the both of 'em, prefects they were, and they were as good as gold...' he said.
'Now, every twenty years, somethin' odd seems teh happen.' Hagrid finished. 'Jus' strange, that's all.'
The two left Hagrid's cabin talking about what Hagrid had said. 'But how does that have anything to do with Dean?' asked Ron.
'I don't know, but I know somebody that would help.' he said.
'Hermione' they both said at once.
* * * * *
As the boys walked back to the school, they talked quiely about what Hagrid had said, wondering about the 'strange air' he was talking about, and who the unlucky prefect was.
'Maybe the Valse isn't going to be any trouble this year,' Ron said hopefully.
'Unless Dean looks like he's just drunk four tankards of Butterbeer all of the time, I'd say something odd will happen just like it did fourty years ago,' Harry said ominously.
The two made their way up to the library and moved to where Hermione sat with her books spread out covering the entire tabletop. She had been in the library all morning, and looked up at the two as thay sat down next to her.
'Just finished a hard spell of homework, did you?,' she said dryly.
'You bet! Eight rolls of parchement just written between the two of us.' Ron said with a grin.
Hermione eyed them narrowly. 'I've just finished my fourth roll for Professor Flitwick's paper on the Amplemento charm.' she told them. 'You do know it's due tomorrow?
Ron and Harry looked at each other. 'Yeah.' they lied.
'We just came from Hagrid's.' Ron said. 'He was talking about the Spring Valse.'
'Oh? What did he say?' Hermione asked.
They leaned forward and started to tell her about the incident. Harry noticed a faint smell of strawberry coming from her hair, which smelled strangely familiar, but he shook it off as Ron finished.
'So we were trying to figure out what might be wrong with Dean.' Ron finished.
'That is odd.' Hermione said, thinking. 'Lavender Brown has been acting odd, too.' she told them. 'She rarely comes to the library, but she's been standing in the row behind me for the past hour. I just figured she was looking up some complex beauty charm or something.'
Harry looked over, and sure enough, Lavender was staring blankly at the wall of books in front of her.
'Odd,' said Ron. 'She usually never shuts up, that one.'
'Ron, it isn't funny!' Hermione scolded.
'What do you think it is?' Harry asked her.
'I'm not sure.' she said. 'The Valse is supposed to affect the minds of people, who are...' she trailed off.
'Who're what?' Ron asked impatiently.
'Who are in love.' she said, blushing.
'Dean Thomas?' said Ron, doubtfully. 'And Lavender likes a different guy every week.'
'Well, it could happen to anyone!' Hermione said, blushing even more.
'But who...or what is doing it? Harry asked her.
The three of them sat in silence, unable to think of any answers to the questions.
* * * * *
Some time later in the Great Hall, Harry, Ron and Hermione sat talking quietly about the day's events. Dean and Lavender had both come to dinner, but they were acting strangely, not talking why they absent mindedly poked at their food. Two seats at the table were empty, which George Weasley had considerately stretched out across, snoozing quietly. The teachers seemed to be less enthusiastic as they had been this morning but they were, none the less, happy.
After some time, the three friends were about to get up to return to their common room when Neville Longbottom came rushing in, red in the face and yelling. 'Harry, Ron! Come quick, somethings happened!'
Harry and Ron bolted after him, going straight to their dormitories. They came in and saw that the room looked entirely normal. Seamus Finnigan was lying on his bed, asleep. 'Neville! Why did you rush us up here?' Ron asked him.
'Look at Seamus!' Neville said, pointing. He was still red-faced and wheezing.
Ron moved over to Seamus, and prodded him. 'Seamus! Wake up, Neville seems to think sleep has gotten the worst of you!'
'Seamus?' he said, sounding a little more worried.
Harry walked over, and the both of them rolled Seamus onto his side. They gasped.
'He's...petrified.' Harry said.
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by James Potter