Chapter 4 : Homebase
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The small bassin's surface rippled gently, causing the little man's grey mouth to break into a horrid, fanged and evil grin. Muo had been bent over the little bowl on the hard, stone floor for ages. Inside the shallow bassin, five faces floated just near the bottom. Three of the faces belonged to Gryffindor students, one of the terrified visages was a Hufflepuff fourth year, and the last was a surly Slytherin girl.
'Soon, Piddel. Soon, I will be returned.' Muo said, still smiling horribly.
The satyr shuffled, obviously disturbed by the little man's behavior. He walked up to the hunched figure still staring into the bassin, and started to say something but recoiled after catching a glimse into the dreadful bowl. He cleared his throat, 'You don't have to do it this way.' he started fearfully. 'There are other ways of turning-'
'Quiet now you fool!' shreaked the little man, hitting the large satyr with a spray of spit. 'You know not of what you speak, stupid animal!'
The satyr's face darkened, but he remained calm. 'Transfiguration, it would work. They don't have to die...' he tried again.
Muo pulled out his little wand. He held it up in the air as if that had proved his point. 'Did you not see me, Piddel?' he asked, his tone deceptively soft. 'I have my power.. I can read minds. Telepathy, Piddel. I am almost whole again.' he told the satyr, emphasizing every important word, to a point where it sounded to the satyr like insanity.
'Yes, the Finnigan boy...but death isn't-'
'Death is here, fool! Death is me!' the little man shrieked even louder this time, his eyes turning blood red.
'Yes,' the satyr said, looking down, utterly defeated, 'master.'
The red in the little man's eyes washed away. The appraisal seemed to calm him immensely. He turned back to the dish, gazing at it once more. 'Their stolen souls will serve me tonight.' Muo said, not looking up. 'These few, loving fools have been the easiest to capture, their hearts open so willingly.'
The satyr shifted again.
'Tonight, when the phenomenon peaks, I will be whole again.' the little man said, still loked to the bassin.
Suddenly, his eyes widened with glee. He gave a small, high pitched laugh and turned to the satyr. 'Come, Piddel! It seems two more will have befallen us by the end of tonight. ..' he said maniacally.
He replaced his wand and ran to the door. 'Come, servant!' he said darkly.
Piddel moved towards the little man, catching a glance into the bassin. Two more unfocused heads had appeared in the shallow water, their faces obscured by a black fog. The tops of their heads glowed a flaming red. Blood? The satyr sincerely hoped the blood didn't represent more death but his spirit sunk as he followed the evil little man out of the room, stepping over a stray rat and becoming once again cloaked in invisibilty.
* * * * *
Harry sat in the infirmary with Ron and Hermione. They had been seated next to Seamus Finnigan's bed for more then twenty minutes, hoping to find a clue to what had happened to him. So far, they had only discovered that he was not petrified.
Madam Pomfrey had told the three that Seamus was merely under a heavy sleep spell. Her and Professor Dumbledore had figured he had eaten a rigged sleeping candy unknowingly, and the spell had knocked him out entirely due to the magical unknowns floating in the air at this time. She had allowed the three friends a half an hour to visit the sleeping Finnigan, but their time had almost drawn to an end.
Harry looked down at Seamus. 'I don't believe for one second that he ate a sleeping candy.' he said determinedly.
'I agree, but what else do we have to believe? asked Hermione, a worried look on her face.
'She's right, Harry.' Ron said simply.
Madam Pomfrey came rushing in, shooing the three out of the infirmary. 'Come on now, you three have a ball to prepare for! No need to be bothering my patients!
'Her patients happen to be petrified, I don't think we were giving them any bother.' Ron said sulkily when they were well out of earshot.
'The ball!' moaned Hermione. 'Even if we get to go, I have nothing to wear, and my hair is a mess!' she said, tugging on her bushy brown locks.
'If all of this keeps going, there won't be a ball to look bad at.' said Harry ominously.
'Were we supposed to ask anyone to the ball? Ron asked, looking nervous.
'I think so, but I doubt I'll be doing that.' replied Harry.
'Well, you could always ask Ginny!'Ron told him laughing, for which he promtly recieved a sharp elbow to the ribs from Hermione. 'She'd be over the moon' he laughed loudly.
Harry started to reply when Ron's face suddenely drained of colour. He turned on his heel and bolted down the long corridor, turning at the end.
'What do you think that was about?' asked Hermione worriedly.
'I don't know,' replied Harry, at a loss for an answer
The two started down the Hallway. After some time, Hermione asked Harry casually. 'So, who were you thinking of taking to the ball?'
To be honest, Harry hadn't thought about it before the last few minutes. 'I wasn't thinking of asking anybody.' he replied.
'Oh, I see.' said Hermione, sounding slightly disappointed.
The two continued walking down the hall, trying to make idle chat despite the events of that day. They had almost reached the common room when Harry tripped over something as he turned a corner.
'What the!?' he said as he hit the ground hard, losing his glasses.
Harry heard Hermione gasp, and then burst into tears. Harry fumbled for his glasses and relpaced them.
As the scene came into focus, Harry thought he was having a particularily bad nightmare. The thing, or things he had tripped over were lying on the gorund before him. Ron and Ginny lay sprawled out on the floor, their faces contorted into expressions of horror, silent and unmoving. Harry looked to Hermione, who had crumpled against the wall and was shaking with sobs.
Harry walked slowly to her side and sat down next against the wall, cradling Hermione in his arms and still staring, trying to absorb the scene that lay before him.
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