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Chapter 6 : Headlines
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Neville, however, had suddenly come into his own. Whenever the mood became too low for his liking he rallied the troops with outbursts of jokes and amusing stories- his favourite being the tale of his uncle Algae dropping him out the window- that one always got a smile (even if it was just one from Hannah when it was retold for the fourteenth time). Neville had also latched onto the idea of Harry's return and never gave up on the dream, even when Seamus dismissed the idea every time Neville spoke of it.
The room of requirement was quiet that evening, as it often was. Neville had decided to keep his views to himself for the night and was partaking in a game of wizarding chess with Ernie. This he appeared to be losing, judging by the cries of his exasperated players- “no don’t move the bishop there, he’s free to checkmate now you idiot!” Colin was watching them, completely in awe. Michael and Anthony had snuck in for the evening to use some of the rooms many books and Terry was supposedly helping them. Padma and Pavrati were doing each others hair and the rest of the girls were watching lavender perform a particularly complicated hair curling charm.
Hannah found herself outcast from the girls conversation, but she didn't mind, she had no interest in the world of beauty. At first, she had attempted to help Neville not lose at chess quite so spectacularly but that endeavor had turned out to be a lost cause. So she now sat peacefully on her bunk watching her patronus- a hummingbird- fly around the room, gleaming blue.
“Hey guys! It’s on!” shouted Seamus from across the room. He had previously been twiddling the dials of the old radio and whispering “phoenix” into the speaker. Hannah and the rest of the room stopped what they were doing and tuned in.
“Hello and welcome to Potterwatch. Before we introduce our contributors this evening, I am pleased to report that Romulus will not be with us tonight as he is required to look after his new bundle of joy, a baby boy!” The voice of Lee Jordan filled the room. Hannah smiled; news of a newborn child seemed remarkable given the current circumstances.
“On a sadder note however, we regret to report the deaths of three muggle families in London. As always, muggle police are at a loss as to how they were killed but Royal here has informed me there is no doubt they fell at the hands of those delightful death eaters.”
The deep voice of Kingsley confirmed the statement.
“We have also just gained information on the murders of around 20 gringotts goblins. Royal has more.”
Hannah closed her eyes, as if that would somehow shut out the grim reality. She heard Neville gasp and nervously swallow from beside her.
“Earlier today, Gringotts bank was broken into. The vault in question is unknown; as is what was stolen. You will be pleased to hear that the thieves probably targeted a vault owned by a death eater. This we can infer from the reception the unfortunate goblins on duty received. The gringotts dragon has also been reported missing.“
Lee Jordan spoke again, seemingly trying to subdue laughter.
“So- If anyone finds a zonking great dragon in their garden- please report it to the order immediately.
And now we move to our regular feature: Pals of Potter. Rodent will be filling in for Romulus.”
“Thank you River. Friends of the chosen one seem to be lying low at the moment: a good idea in my opinion. Angering the death eaters will not help anyone. Hope doesn’t always have to spread in the form of noise. However, I do have news from Hogwarts.”
Every heart in the room skipped a beat.
“We have heard from an inside source that a group of students, including Neville Longbottom, successfully rescued fellow classmates taken hostage by Professor Snape and the Carrows. I would like to congratulate them on their achievement.”
“Wow” gasped Lavender, summing up everyone’s amazement. Pride welled up inside Neville, astonished that they had been recognized for what they had done. Hannah beamed.
“I can also tell you that Harry Potter is alive and well, or at least he was a few days ago.”
“Thank you Rodent. Now to Rapier on rumors surrounding the chief death eater. Rapier, what are your current views on you-know-who being out of the country?”
“As I always say, do not put your guard down. Even if someone’s told you he-who-must-not-be-named is in the North Pole.”
“And what about the new rumors of him having a new weapon?”
“I can guarantee that the stories involving muggle weapons such as tanks and machine gun are complete fiction, the truth is, he is more than capable of causing mass destruction on his own. That being said, he is still likely to have a few tricks up his sleeve…”
Hannah never found out what those tricks might have been. Neville had stood up suddenly, shortly followed by Seamus and Michael, both with quizzical looks on their faces. Slowly, Neville stepped over towards the painting of a field that hung on the passageway door and peered into it. Hannah was confused as to why: the painting had no inhabitants to speak of. But looking closely she saw there was a small figure in the centre that was growing larger. Seconds later, a young girl dressed in sky blue robes with long wavy hair intertwined with daisies, stepped into view.
“Hello” Neville said cautiously. The girl stayed silent, cocked her head to the side for a moment then turned and began walking away. Neville looked around the room, his eyebrows lowered in confusion.
The girl stopped and looked over her shoulder expectantly.
“Neville, I think she wants you to follow her…” Hannah said quietly, appearing behind him.
“Right – err – right, ok” Neville stammered, his heart beating unusually fast. He thought for a moment, after all, he couldn’t exactly go into the painting to follow her.
“The passageway – it goes to the Hogs Head – maybe Aberforth sent her?” Hannah suggested.
How could he have been so stupid, Neville thought. Using the passageway was obvious; the painting was on the door.
“Ok – um – I’ll see you later” Neville mumbled and opened the door, attempting not to look too embarrassed. He climbed up carefully then shut the door behind him.
Hannah stared at the door and listened to the sound of Neville’s footsteps die away. Then something caught her eye. Next to the painted girl in blue was a second, taller and darker figure. Then, as Hannah examined the painting more closely, she found the second figure was wearing a jumper remarkably similar to Neville’s…
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