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Chapter 8 : The Midnight Escapade
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You build up hope, but failure's all you've known
Remember all the sadness and frustration
And let it go. Let it go.
March came, followed by pleasant, warm spring days. The snow was almost completely melted, and leaves covered the barren branches of the trees.
The weather was nice, but the Wizarding World certainly wasn’t. More people were disappearing, many were being murdered in their own homes by Death Eaters, and in the thick of it all was Hogwarts, the worst place to be. The Death Eaters who patrolled the corridors had resorted to hexing students as they passed to overcome their boredom. During classes, I could see the strain on the professors’ faces, and it was a common occurrence when a student started crying in the Great Hall, because so many were receiving letters from home reporting that a family member had been killed. Everyone knew one thing for sure; the war was worsening.
Thankfully, I still had one thing to look forward to: The D.A. Neville had scheduled more meetings so that there was at least one D.A meeting per week. He said it was because he swore that a battle was coming, and that we had to be ready when it happened. I honestly wasn’t sure if I believed him or not; the thought of battling Death Eaters and maybe even Voldemort himself terrified me.
Maybe it was just me, but things felt very wrong at Hogwarts, as if something big was about to happen soon. Was Neville right? Was there really going to be a battle?
Before leaving the Gryffindor common room, I went to check the notice board. When I got there, I was surprised to see that there was a large crowd forming around it. I made my way through the mass of Gryffindors and got close enough to read the newly framed notice that read: No students are allowed to go to the Hospital Wing unless they have a life-threatening injury.
“So if I break an arm, I’ll never get it mended,” Seamus muttered, who was standing next to me.
“This is so unfair!” I said angrily.
“And since when do the Carrows care about being fair?” Seamus asked.
My temper soared; I was sick of this place, sick of learning nothing this year, sick of the Carrows, the Death Eaters, the worries, the tension. And without another word, I pushed my way back through the crowd and headed for my first class.
It was lunch time now, and I had just returned from another torturous muggle-studies lesson. Once again, I had been rude to Alecto, but that wasn’t anything new. She didn’t even bother to take me to her office anymore; she tortured me on the spot in front of everyone, giving me marks on my stomach and arms and regular pain in my waist.
Today in my Dark Arts lesson, I refused to practice the Cruciatus Curse on a group of fifth years who had earned themselves detention, so Amycus had ordered everyone in the class to practice the curse on me instead. Fortunately for me, my classmates put in no effort, and they pretended that they were struggling with the curse until class ended.
“Lavender, pass the potatoes please, my arms hurt too much.” Parvati groaned.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go to Madame Pomfrey, Parvati? I’m sure we can get in a visit without anyone noticing.” Lavender said anxiously, handing her the bowl of potatoes.
“So we can get even more bruises? No!” Parvati said frantically. Her eyes were red and puffy, and she looked as if she hadn’t slept in ages. Lavender didn’t look any better; her face was covered in scratches and her hair was tangled. It was very apparent that both of them had given up on their appearances.
“Look at those two,” Lavender said, nudging her and pointing at Neville and Seamus, who were both limping towards the Gryffindor table.
“Move over a bit,” Neville said, seating himself next to me.
“What did you two do this time?” I asked, knowing that they had probably gotten mouthy in either Muggle-Studies or Dark Arts.
“I refused to practice the Cruciatus Curse on Terry Boot and Anthony Goldstein.” Neville said simply, ignoring the looks he was getting from the other Gryffindors at the table.
I looked at Neville and Seamus wearily, noticing that Neville had multiple scratches on his face, and his left eye was puffy. Seamus was just as bad; he had a large gash near his chin and a bruise on his forehead. Although I appreciated their bravery, I was worried that they would end up really harming themselves.
I examined everyone at the Gryffindor table—almost everyone was in bad shape, especially the Gryffindor seventh years.
“So, I scheduled a D.A meeting for tonight.” Neville said, as if he was talking about something as simple as the weather.
“You do know they’ve tightened security around the castle, right Neville?” I asked him skeptically. It was true—Alecto had insisted that there should be Dementors roaming around the corridors at night, all because she saw the message that the D.A had left on a wall one night that read: Dumbledore’s Army: Still Recruiting! The Death Eaters’ suspicions about rebelling students had increased, and it was difficult to hold meetings nowadays.
“’Course I know they’ve tightened security—but come on, we haven’t held a meeting since three weeks, and everyone was getting so good at defensive spells!” Neville said, grimacing in pain as he extended his hand for a sandwich.
“Fine—I won’t stop you. But please be a bit more careful.” I said. I was starting to think that Neville’s grandma’s encouragement before she went on the run had gone to his head—Neville was being a little too sure of himself since then.
“Don’t worry about a thing.” Neville grinned.
Night fell, and I knew that I had to get ready for the D.A meeting. I left the Gryffindor common room when everyone in my dormitory was asleep; the Fat Lady was snoring when I exited the portrait hole, and she woke up with a start, demanding to know who was there. But she was too late; I was out of sight before she opened her eyes.
The corridors were very eerie at night; I became frightened at every small sound, thinking it was a Death Eater or a Dementor. There wasn’t much light except for the moonlight that shone from the arched windows.
I panicked at seeing the silhouette of a suit of armor, thinking that it was a real person. I cursed myself for being so paranoid; how much farther was the seventh floor?
I turned many corners and walked down endless corridors—the castle seemed so big at night.
Finally, I reached the large, stone wall that concealed the Room of Requirement. I remembered the words that I had to recite in my head, and the brass door appeared.
When I entered the Room of Requirement, I was surprised to see that there was a commotion inside. Neville was trying to get everyone to listen to them, but everyone looked worried.
“I warned him—he didn’t listen!” Padma told her friends.
“What if the Carrows find out about the D.A?” Hannah said worriedly.
“Everyone—listen! Please!” Neville said, trying to get everyone’s attention.
“QUIET!” I shouted, and everyone was silenced.
“Thank you, Ginny.” Neville said wearily. “So—as we all should know by now, Michael and Terry went to save first year the Carrows had chained up. Does anybody know if they’ve been caught? Neville asked everyone.
“Well then—we’ll have to save all three of them.” Neville declared.
Members of the D.A were scattered throughout the corridors, their wands ready in case of an attack. A few people looked extremely nervous, but others looked confident.
“It’s getting cold,” Hannah whispered with a slight shiver.
I was noticing the same thing; an eerie chill was engulfing the second-floor corridor—it got colder every step I took forward.
“There’s something really wrong here—let’s go back.” Zacharias Smith said, his voice sounding high-pitched and uneasy. He turned around to leave, but Seamus pushed him forward. What a coward.
Patches of ice appeared on the floor and ceiling, and I could now see my own breath. I was starting to get a bit scared myself, but I had to keep going. I wasn’t going to give up over a little bit of fear.
The corridor got darker and colder, and the floor was like ice. Parvati screamed, pointing her wand and illuminating the way forward, showing dark, cloaked figures coming towards us.
“Dementors!” yelled Seamus.
My breath felt like it was getting caught in my throat—I was losing all the hope and happiness I ever had. I pulled out my wand, wanting to gather the strength to drive the Dementors away.
“EXPECTUS PATRONUS!” Neville yelled, pointing his wand at the Dementors, but nothing happened.
“IT’S ‘EXPECTO PATRONUM’, IDIOT!” Zacharias Smith yelled, trying to conjure his own Patronus.
“Right—EXPECTO PATRONUM!” Neville yelled, putting in as much concentration and effort as he could.
A large, silvery bird came out of Neville’s wand. It was a mighty falcon, flying towards the Dementors with tremendous speed. The Dementors backed away a little, but they didn’t leave.
“I need help!” Neville said frantically.
Since the Dementors were a little farther away, I was able to concentrate enough to preform magic. “EXPECTO PATRONUM!” I yelled, thinking of the time Harry and I had spent at the Black Lake just a year ago.
A silvery and slightly transparent white horse appeared from my wand; it charged at the Dementors with speed, followed by the falcon and other animals such as ferrets, lions, coyotes, foxes, and peacocks. The other D.A members had managed to conjure patronuses too; they now outnumbered the Dementors, who fled quickly down the corridor, far away from us.
A few people had ended up on the floor, shaking and quivering.
“Are they mad?” Anthony Goldstein said angrily. “It was one thing having Dementors outside the castle—but inside?”
“Nothing makes sense around here anymore, now let’s go.” Parvati said impatiently.
We all continued down the corridors with our wands illuminating the way. We were slightly shaken, but otherwise okay.
“There’s Alecto’s office,” I said after about thirty more minutes of walking.
The office used to belong to Professor McGonagall; but since Alecto had taken her place as Deputy Headmistress, she took it instead, leaving McGonagall with the smallest and dingiest office in the castle located near the kitchens.
The light was on and the door was locked. I couldn’t see inside the office because the curtains were closed.
“Let’s go in.” Anthony said with an urgent whisper.
“No! Not with Alecto inside!” Susan Bones said incredulously.
“I’ll make a diversion,” Ernie said. He pointed his wand at the wall near the end of the corridor and muttered a spell under his breath. The wall crashed down, causing a deafening noise that reverberated through the corridors.
“Follow me! Quick!” he ordered, running to a corner and hiding behind it. We did the same, watching the door of the office apprehensively.
Sure enough, Alecto appeared at the door, pushing it open with great force. “What the blazes is going on here? FILCH!” Alecto shouted, leaving her office to find the caretaker.
When Alecto was well out of sight, we rushed into her office.
“Michael, Terry! What did she do to you?” Anthony said, untying the rope that was tied around their arms and feet.
“Cruciatus Curse—Veritaserum—’’ Michael said, looking very badly shaken up.
“Veritaserum?” Ernie said, his face turning pale. “She didn’t manage to get any information from you, did she?”
“No, you guys made it just in time—she was about to use it on us.” Terry said, now free from the ropes that were binding him.
“Where’s the first year?” Neville asked.
“He managed to escape, but Alecto caught us right after we saved him.” Terry responded.
“Let’s go already—before Alecto comes back!” Padma said.
So we left, hoping that we wouldn’t be seen as we left for our dormitories.
As I passed by a suit of armor, I thought I heard something shaking inside of it. I quickly pushed the thought away from my wind—what would be hiding inside a suit of armor?
The armor started to rattle and shake, and I backed away from it as fast as I could. Out came Peeves the Poltergeist, smiling wickedly at the sight of all of us.
“Naughty children, wandering around the corridors at night! Peevsie should alert the Death Eaters, he should!” he said, pretending to stroke an invisible beard.
“No, Peeves don’t—’’ Hannah begged him; but that was exactly what she shouldn’t have done.
“STUDENTS OUT OF BED! STUDENTS OUT OF BED AT THE SECOND FLOOR!” Peeves shouted, loud enough to wake the entire castle.
“RUN!” Neville shouted, leading us all away from the sounds of running footsteps. Death Eaters appeared from all directions, their wands ready for attack.
Jets of red light came from everywhere, I heard people yelling and screaming as they ran. The members of the D.A fought back, either attempting to stun or protect.
I dodged the red light that came from each direction, from friend or foe, I didn’t know. When I didn’t have any energy left, I ran blindly in the direction were the Gryffindor common room was.
I tripped and fell to my knees, getting up just in time before a jet of green light hit me. Were they seriously resorting to the killing curse? Angrily, I sent a powerful stunning jinx at the Death Eaters, successfully stunning about three of them.
The Portrait Hole wasn’t too far away—Death Eaters couldn’t get in unless they knew the password…
“Stupefy!” Seamus shouted, managing to stun the remaining Death Eaters.
“GET THOSE KIDS! SOMEONE GET ‘EM!” a Death Eater shouted, followed by more running footsteps.
“There are more of them!” I shouted at the others in front of me.
The Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs had managed to get to their common rooms safely, but the Gryffindors hadn’t yet because our common was so far away from Alecto’s office.
We ran up the revolving staircase that led to the Portrait Hole—we were ahead of the Death Eaters, they couldn’t see us now.
“Gillyweed!” I shouted at the Fat Lady, gasping for breath. She gave us a disapproving glare but let us in.
“That—was—scary.” Parvati said, collapsing onto the armchair near the fireplace.
“We’re safe since they didn’t really see who we were, right?” Lavender asked.
“Yeah, but they do know that the people they were just chasing are Gryffindors, since they lost us right in front of the Gryffindor portrait hole.” Seamus said.
“Let me in, woman!” someone shouted from outside the common room.
“No password, no entry.” said the Fat Lady stubbornly.
“If they manage to get inside they’ll see us awake! We have to get to our dormitories!” Neville said urgently.
So I walked quickly to my dormitory, quietly closing the door behind me. I didn’t bother changing into my nightgown, and collapsed onto my bed. I felt safer under my covers, but I knew that I wasn’t safe—nobody was safe during a war.
Author’s Note: Okay so I know that a few of you readers out there are hating me for not updating for like, a month. But you’ve got to understand that I’ve had limited computer access for weeks. Even when I write this it’s not on my own computer. But I hope this longer and hopefully more exciting chapter makes up for it. :) To be honest, I had no idea what was going to happen in this chapter…it sort of just happened while I was typing. The Dementors were completely random in my mind. Also, we’re only three chapters away from the Battle of Hogwarts! I’ve been so excited to write the next chapter, it’s a very important chapter, where a dark secret is revealed…(also, it happens during Ginny’s Easter break so it doesn’t happen in Hogwarts.) I’ve been getting bored of writing about life at Hogwarts so the next chapter takes place at Shell Cottage. Why Shell Cottage? What dark secret? You’ll have to find out! :P
Please review. I will give you cookies.
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