Chapter Image by Zephyra. At The Dark Arts
Hermione turned to the whiney sixteen year old boy who pouted at her, as he placed his arms on the edge of the jetty, hosting himself out of the water and into the cool summer breeze.
"No Ronald!" She said for the third time as he frowned playfully at her. Sighing with defeat, he fell back against the water and swam out to join Harry, Ginny and Luna in a game of chicken. Hermione laughed as she watched Ginny attempting to balance herself on Harry's shoulders and push Luna off Ron’s own shoulders at the same time.
Sighing, she flipped her legs over the end of the Jetty and laid her bare back against the hard wood, soaking the warmth from the sun into her body. The last three days of term had approached so quickly that the Sixth year Gryffindors hadn't been prepared. With the end of year exams and the late night party, they had completely forgotten that the last three days where free periods to Fifth year and up.
They had been so preoccupied that when the first signs of summers appeared it had almost escaped them, until Ron had grumbled about it being a nice summer day and everyone’s hangovers suddenly disappeared.
Now All the Gryffindor fifth, six and seventh years, and Luna had invaded the North side of the Black lake, with towels, beach balls, food and drinks, Wizard radios and the blissful sound of laughter and the comfortable conversations of friendship. Hermione squinted her eyes as she accidently looked directly into the sun.
All around her the sound of water splashing against skin or soft sound of squealing as girls unwilling to go in the water where thrown in by secret crushes or friends who were already wet, made her remember that Hogwarts was all about friendship, loyalty and love. Not about the looming war that bared the weight on each of their shoulders.
The Battle for the survival of the Wizarding and Muggle races was drawing slowly to an end. You could see and sense the fear amongst the younger students, who were not a part of Dumbledore’s Army back in Hermione's fifth year. They were frightened.
Hermione couldn't blame the younger students for their fear or weariness of others, they had no experience of fighting or fending off evil, they barely blew up cauldrons on a regular basis or did a wrong charm, so to be constantly thinking of being thrown into a battle that wasn't even your fight to begin with, was disheartening to think about even on days where everything did shine bright and look perfect.
Hearing her name being called from across the lake, she lifted her head too look at Ginny who was pretending to drown even though Hermione could visibly see she was still holding Harry's hand. Making sure her blue bikini top hadn't slipped away from her breast's she sat up straight as Ginny yelled for her assistance.
Standing up, Hermione took her time in adjusting her bathers before yelling across the water at her best friend. "Harry will help you."
Ginny frowned as Hermione watched Luna sneak up behind Ginny and dunk her under the water, her wild blonde wet hair sticking to her face. Hermione wondered where her sudden fear of water had come from. It was almost like she had one day just woke up and decided that she was afraid of water. It hadn't offended or hurt her in anyway, she just purely didn't like swimming in water anymore and apparently Seamus Finnigan didn't know that.
"Hermione! Look out!"
Hermione barely had time to register Harry's desperate warning. Her heart suddenly pounded with unexpected fear as she heard frantic footsteps rushing up the jetty.
Her body went numb with shock as Seamus Finnegan's warm yet firmly built body collided against her forcefully and unintentionally a yelp escaped her as the pair of them went flying into the air. She could hear her blood pounding in her ears, her surrounding turned into an unrecognizable blur and fear such as never before seized her being. Her entire body went rigid as Seamus fastened his arms around her waist yelling something that she couldn't hear, partly because of the whooshing wind around them and partly because her brain had stopped functioning all together.
The water loomed towards them ominously and Hermione closed her eyes desperately trying to push away the terror that seeped in her soul growing with the anticipation of hitting the water, the one and only thing she dreaded. All at once she felt it; the cold wetness of the water washed over her as they plummeted head-first into the lake and her mind blanked.
Not knowing which was up, Hermione felt water clogging her lungs as she opened her mouth for air and water gushed into her without hesitation. She gasped and spluttered desperately trying to breathe. She was numb; numb with cold and fear and this proved to be an obstruction when she tried to move her arms but found them locked into position. Her head was spinning, water was continuously entering her system and she couldn't move her arms or legs. Tears pricked at the back of her eyes and she gasped once more blinking rapidly.
She vaguely felt Seamus releasing her body when her eyes fluttered shut and everything around her went reeling into darkness.
Hermione awoke to the sound of a piercing scream that echoed all through the dungeon and possibly out into the corridors beyond. The fear and panic behind the scream initially triggered Hermione's sense of protection as she gripped for her wand tightly which was hidden under her pillow. Her initial shock to the scream wore off however as she listened to the reluctant groans of her dorm mates as they too awoke from their slumber, annoyed by the boy who was bleeding their ears dry with his shrill painful scream.
This was not the first time the entire Slytherin house had been awoken by the sound of a frightened boy, with demons haunting his every step. Hermione was personally feed up with the boys being plagued with dreams that eventually became reality, but alas she would bite her tongue and go to the aid of those who needed her, as always.
This time however, she wasn't going to budge. She was not usually this stubborn and knew that it would possibly be one of her own friends or even her boyfriend who was making the dreadful l noise, but she lay in bed with the covers pulled over her head, listening as her other dorm mates ran to the boys dormitory, attempting to help where they could.
Hermione had taught the entire Slytherin house the spell to fend off the dreams and bring the boys back down to a calming sort of sensation, with their happiest memory. If it wasn't all so scary Hermione would find the entire situation funny.
After Hermione passed out in the black lake, she had awoken in the Great Hall with her head in a piece of toast. A single tear trickled down her face as she recalled that was when all the trouble began. She had been a Slytherin, apparently that's how it had always been, according to Harry. She was going out with Fred Weasley, Ninth year. Apparently Hermione and Fred had always been an item and Hogwarts had always had nine levels of education, according to Ron. Apparently Hermione was the meanest witch and the most popular girl amongst the entire school, according to Ginny Weasley who hated her more than anyone alive.
Apparently there had never been a person by the name Dumbledore, apparently there was never a McGonagall, Hagrid, Dobby, Buckbeak, No one had even heard of Sirius Black and who was Viktor Krum and The Triwizard Tournament. The Yule ball, Durmstrang, going home on Easter and Christmas breaks, what was all that? It had never been heard of, Hogwarts was under the control of one person, who had always been ruler of the school since Hermione’s first year, apparently.
Hermione had been looked at like she was crazy and talk of sending her to St Mungo’s Institution had brought her soaring back down to reality and so she shut her mouth and went with what was told to her. Even if it wasn't right.
Hermione wondered if any of the other houses boys where plagued by dreams or nightmares that the men of refused to re-live or talk about. Perhaps they where girls from other houses who screamed instead of boys. Hermione sighed as the door to her dormitory opened and the soft sound of footsteps was heard quietly over the sound of the continued screaming.
As her curtains parted slightly, Hermione groaned and looked up into the worried and concerned face of Lavender Brown. Hermione found it odd that Lavender was standing over her with a look of worry as Lavender was the second best person who could perform the calming charm. Hermione frowned and sat up as Lavender averted her gaze to the floor.
Hermione felt her heart begin to pound in her chest. "Lavender what's wrong?" she asked in barely more than a whisper. Lavender bit down on her lips as she looked up into Hermione's eyes, fear etching its way across her own pale shaded face. "The Scream." She said quietly, adverting her eyes back to the ground as if she wished not to say the remaining words.
"Lavender what is it? Is someone hurt?" Lavender shook her head to Hermione's question. The suspense was driving Hermione mad. Why couldn't Lavender perform the charm and why was she here all pale and nervous. Hermione had a bad feeling that she just knew who was it was. "Then what is it Lavender!" She almost yelled, pushing the covers up and standing on her feet, shacking Lavender a little to compose her.
Lavender took a deep breath before replying with the four most heart breaking words Hermione had ever heard.
"The scream, It's Fred."
Meanwhile, half way across the other side of the Castle. Past blank walls and sleeping ghosts. Another Scream was emitting in the early hours of the morning, sending the Gryffindor Dormitory into total Chaos.
Silently watching the horror scene unfold and no longer able to bare it. Two portraits, out of the only four left in the Hogwarts castle, swiftly moved out of sight of the two men attempting to hold down the screaming boy as prefects Blaise Zabini and Draco Malfoy run around rapidly calming down the commotion of the common room.
One of the portraits sighed as they made their ways carefully through the empty portraits lining the soft sand stone washed walls of Hogwarts, wishing to greet all the old Portraits that used to sit in their own frame, issuing them tea and offering them a seat in playing cards of even a bottle of rum. Those were the days when everything was normal though.
Passing through Sir Cadogan’s old Portrait, Helga Hufflepuff quickened her glide, exiting the other side of the frame quicker than first anticipated. Behind her, Godric Gryffindor gave a small sigh at Helga’s eagerness to leave the portrait with such haste and wondered if she would ever get over his and he others disappearance.
Walking through the remainder of the portraits Godric smiled as he saw the light golden frame of his own portrait twinkling just ahead of him passed Helga’s long silky black hair. Godric frowned as he realized how her hair shone from the various shades of lighting she passed and wondered how portraits kept their natural look.
Entering his Portrait Godric was relieved to sit in his high thrown with the back drop of the great hall window behind him and the beacons on his far left filling to the brim before disappearing and beginning the process all over again. Godric smiled at the circular room that their frames where placed so delicately in.
The Room itself was contained behind one of the concealed entrance ways that so long ago was forgotten about and shut off from the world. The Circular room contained a round table and twelve chairs, once belonging to a rich and powerful man himself. He had used Hogwarts castle and the Circular room for many years, In attempts of hiding himself and his kings men from his enemies and sent them far and wide in search of them and their wicked schemes.
That was a long time ago though and as Godric Gryffindor rested his head in his right arm against the arm of his thrown, he couldn't help but remember when he had once helped the man who was now long passed.
Godric remembered sitting in his chair with the other three Portraits in the room, listening to the men plot against their enemies on the outer wall, defending Hogwarts and the students who sought to learn. Godric had consoled the headmaster of the school some years later though when he had overheard the men's evil Schemes of corrupting the school and banishing all magic from there, forth.
Godric watched as the table had been over turned and verbal words had assaulted himself, the head master and his peers. The men left eventually, however forced. Their memories where erased and their time at Hogwarts forgotten, a lot like things where nowadays really. The room was sealed and the portraits, table and room; along with its magic where forgotten.
"-nd then the blonde boy, Draco Malfoy and his best friend where doing their duty as prefects and aiding those poor scared children around them, Rowena it was horrible." Helga finished, as Godric tuned into the last part of the retelling of the events just past.
Rowena nodded, her forehead giving away her thought pattern. "It isn't the same anymore. I do not understand, for I cannot see the outside world, though I desire nothing less than too see it. I am so tired of roaming day after day through countless, silent portraits, with nobody to greet or talk to, don't you all miss that?" She asked the other three paintings of the room. "Not even you can deny that Salazar."
Salazar snorted at Rowena’s comment, though any creature living or dead, painting or unmoving canvas, would be able to tell that he too was deep in thought. "Be that as it may Rowena. I unlike some do not desire to see what the outside world has become. There is no faith or courage for those of the outside world anymore, the loyalty that lied within the Muggles and Wizards alike has gone. It vanished centuries ago Rowena, we cannot help those who will not listen."
"But we have to try
, Salazar!" Helga pleaded, her painted sapphire blue eyes shimmering with a hint of sadness. "We can help them. You, yourself, said that we are a family, you stated just years ago that the Muggle race had changed, now look at them. Something terrible has happened Salazar. This time we cannot turn a blind eye against the magic that will eventually be cast over the school. Headmast-"
"Contrary to popular belief, on our behalf Helga, the Headmaster does not know everything." Salazar cut in as Helga closed her mouth slowly. "I agree that we must help them this time, that I know of much. But Helga there is no student who remembers, none. They cannot remember being in another house, their true houses, they cannot remember the outside world of Hogwarts, they remember nothing. It will not be long before the outside world breaks through the barricades and protection of Hogwarts and then what Helga? Because we know this room will not stay shut once the secret is revealed. We will perish in flames when found."
He paused and looked sideways at Godric who had stayed quiet throughout their small tirades at one another. It was nothing of new for Godric to hear these sorts of things in the circular room. "You know of this Godric."
Godric nodded as Helga and Rowena gasped at his knowledge. "You dare to only speak of it now?" Helga asked moving swiftly from her Portrait into his own, kneeling beside him and taking his hand in a sisterly gesture.
Sighing, Godric spoke to the three people he loved most. "I have knowledge of this yes. If we cannot stop this magic and reverse it, the spell guarding Hogwarts will be broken and those who withstand the chasers and outsider himself will surely perish along with us. The moment that spell is broken, everything concealed will be un-done. Including us."
He took a deep breath before continuing. "It was said when Merlin sealed this room all those years ago, before erasing his own memory of the place that if this evil ever stirred anyone who remembered the past would have a falter to them. Something unrecognizable and indifferent. They would appear, odd. Which given the circumstances you would assume would be easy to find, but I have found none. None that remember."
The silence splitting through the room was eerie. These four founders often held company within each other and no other as they were very rarely seen drifting through Portraits. Even though the headmaster had allowed them access to every Portrait amongst the school, they were too afraid to venture far, in fear that their portraits may one day be found and them taken away as well.
None of the four founders of Hogwarts spoke at first as they contemplated and retraced everything that had just echoed of the walls in the room. In a way their small talk and cryptic codes was logical to them, but to any human or ghost listening they would be highly confused.
Frowning and sighing heavily Rowena was the first one to break the silence, trying her hardest to push her negative thoughts out of her mind. "On a less unhappier note, what exactly do we do about the screaming? It seems to only be plaguing the boys of Hogwarts, mostly Slytherin house." When saying this she gave Salazar a sideways glance before continuing, she knew it was not his fault and would not blame him for it. Not this time, anyway.
"Rowena's right." Helga said calmly, standing a placing a friendly, firm hand on Godric’s shoulder. "We cannot let the magic seep through into their dreams" She sighed, pinning a loose strand of hair back into her tight plait out of her eyes."We must find a secure charm or form of magic that allows them to sleep easy; this cannot go on any longer." She added firmly eyeing every Portrait in the room.
Godric nodded and in unison with Salazar said. "Headmaster Riddle will know of something."