Chapter 20 : When It All Goes to Hell in a Handbasket...
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When I woke the next morning, I glanced over to see Hermione deeply asleep and snoring softly. I briefly considered waking her in order to interrogate her about where she had been, but she looked exhausted and as I looked I noticed tear tracks marring her cheeks. What on Earth had happened last night?
Shaking my head I rolled out of bed and quietly dressed so as to not wake any of my sleeping roommates. I quickly walked down the stairs and headed down to breakfast. I was still pondering what the trio was up to, so I nearly missed what would be causing Harry a whole lot of trouble. I spun on my heel to look at the tall hour glasses outside the great hall that showed house points. And just stared a moment as I saw that Gryffindor's large lead had disappeared overnight. How had we lost 150 points since I got back last night?
I continued to ponder that and the decision I had to make as I sat down in the empty hall with a heavily sweetened cup of tea, but no milk of course just plenty of sugar.
Slowly, especially as it was a Saturday, the hall began to fill and chatter sprung up at every table as to the suddenly vanished jewels from Gryffindor's hourglass. I carefully listened in on the conversations nearest to me, but from what I could discern no one knew anything.
I glanced up a moment later seeing Neville walk in the door, my hand was half raised to give him a cheery waved good morning when I stopped. Something was wrong. Neville had dark circles under his eyes which were slightly red rimmed. I watched him carefully as he slowly walked over to me, and as he got closer I noticed that he looked hurt, not physically of course, but mentally.
I stared silently my head tilting slightly to the side in confusion, but as he sat down I simply passed him a plate of bacon knowing that he would tell me in his own time.
By the end of breakfast I knew everything that was going on and was more than a little pissed. So Neville, Harry, and Hermione were the ones who had lost Gryffindor all the points last night. But that was not what I was mad about, not at all they were just a bunch of stupid points. What I was mad about was the fact that from the way Neville told it the duo had been amused that Neville had fallen for their trick on Malfoy. And that pissed me off.
Harry, Hermione, and Neville were all getting harassed by everyone but the Slytherins for losing all those points, and the trio was getting a bout of the cold shoulder from me. I was angry, and I would not forget it lightly.
To get Neville's mind off things I told him what I had been up to last night, and his woes were momentarily forgotten as he sat in awe. That was before he insisted that I write to Ollivander immediately and accept his offer. I chuckled lightly at his reaction, before I stopped to really think about it.
I went over all the pros and cons in my head, and it seemed that I would find no major reasons not the accept the offer. It would give me a place to stay this summer, I would be under the tutelage of one of the greatest wand makers in our time, and I would get the chance to explore London.
So after breakfast, and dragging Neville along with me so he wouldn't be cornered by any angry housemates, I went and told Professor McGonagall of my decision. She happily told me that she thought I had made a good decision, and then bid the two of us good-day.
I excitedly penned a letter with my acceptance to Mr. Ollivander and sent it off with Beau. And as Neville was still getting bugged around every corner, and even more so in the common room, I took him to one of the hiding places I had found during one of my wandering spells.
It was a lovely little alcove, set back behind a tapestry in a lonely corridor of the castle. There was a large window which let the sun stream in and two stone benches with a table between. I spent the rest of the afternoon teaching Neville how to play chess and playing cards with him. All in all it was a good day.
Over the next few weeks my anger had begun to cool, and as exams approached I did help Harry and Ron some with their studying, but not as much as Neville because I was still irritated at them.
I found each exam I took extremely easy for the most part, but I could have expected that seeing that I both had an eidetic memory and I had read years above the first year materials in several of my subjects. I found it quite interesting that we had exams in both theory and practice, being used to muggle schooling. But I found that I quite liked this system.
Exams were soon over and instead of feeling happy and excited for the coming summer I found myself with a feeling of unease.
As the days passed I noticed the trio were being steadily more secretive, and I tried my best to listen in on their conversations. I rather easily deduced that they still suspected Snape, and were just trying to figure out when he would steal to stone. If only the would listen to my reasoning?
But since they were so determined he was going to steal the stone, I decided to watch Quirrell.
I discretely watched him whenever I could, and one thing in particular stood out. He seemed extremely skittish, even more so than the beginning of the school year. He peered around nervously at every turn and jumped at even the slightest sound. It was like he was expecting someone to jump out and attack him.
It was on an average afternoon that his skittishness jumped up a large quantity of notches on the scale. I noticed that Harry, Ron, and Hermione seemed to be planning something, but they shut up the moment anyone was within ten feet of them so I couldn't get even an inkling about what they were up to. So I decided to go and see if I could con anything out of Quirrell.
And so about an hour before curfew I allowed my plan to begin unfolding. The moment Neville had disappeared for a moment I grabbed my bag, slinging it quickly over my shoulder and hurrying out into the corridor before anyone could even notice that I had left. I felt a bit bad about leaving him out of my plans, and about not even telling him that I was leaving but it had to be done.
I walked with purpose towards the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, going over my plan in my head as I went. I was going to get in the door with claims of a question about the final exam, and then I would carefully prod for the information I needed.
Before long I was standing outside the open door of the classroom and walked in peering around. No one was in the class area, but I could hear voices coming from the closed office door.
I waited a moment outside, trying to make out what the voices were saying, but it was a lost cause. So without further ado I raised my fist and knocked.
The second my knuckles rapped against the wood, the voices silenced. I then heard the sounds of quick movements, as if someone was rushing around. I was listening so intently that I was almost startled when a harried looking Quirrell opened the door.
He seemed frazzled, almost as if I had interrupted an argument. But sliding those thoughts aside I let my plan fall back into place.
Putting an ease but slightly nervous look on my face I asked, "Professor Quirrell I was just wondering about some of the questions on the exam," a slightly incredulous look crossed his face so I added in, "but if you're busy I could come back some other time?"
He just stared at me a moment, then what he did next scared the hell out of me.
A creepy sneer crossed his face and he roughly grabbed me by the arm pulling me into his office and slamming the door behind me. I wrenched my arm out of his grasp, trying to figure out what to do, as he was now standing between me and the door and this was not going at all the way I had planned.
As he spoke his voice was full of malice and all trace of a nervous stutter was gone. "You, little miss genius has a question. We both know that you could never attend a single lesson and still pull an O in my class. What are you really here for you silly girl?"
I was stunned momentarily before I decided to play dumb, "Professor I don't understand, I just wanted to ask you a question?"
But the next time a voice spoke it was neither Quirrell nor me, the voice spoke with a hiss and held no undertone of kindness. "We are wassssssting time, take the girl with ussssss. We will find out what sshe knowssss later."
The next thing I knew Quirrell was drawing his wand and I just managed to dodge the stunner he sent at me. I drew my wand quickly throwing up a shield spell which killed the next spell sent my way, as the disembodied voice laughed so cruely I felt a shudder run down my spine as it spoke, "Sssshe isssss a fighter, and powerful for one soooooo young. Ssssshe could be a usssseful ally."
For the next few minutes Quirrell and I duked it out, neither able to completely grab the upper hand. Quirrell knew more spells, but I was faster. However the stalemate would not last.
Quirrell quickly fired off two spells, the first which was a stunner aimed at my torso I blocked easily. I thought the second had gone off course when I fell to the ground as a small area of floor around me moved like quicksand. I struggled in it, noticing to late when another stunner was sent my way.
I looked up just as the red beam struck me in the chest, and fell backwards the floor beneath me settling instantly. And then everything went black as I lost consciousness.
Quirrell stood back to catch his breath a moment. He never would have expected to have such a fight from a student, and a first year no less. He wanted to rest longer but his master demanded that time was of the essence. So he picked up the girls wand and tucked it away in his pocket, before picking her up and tossing her over his shoulder.
Before leaving his office he quickly cast a disillusionment charm over himself and the girl, and then headed for the third floor corridor.
He stepped through the door, only to be greeted by a large and rather irate three headed dog. With a quick flick of his wand a harp appeared and began to play a gentle tune. As Fluffy nodded off he slipped down the trapdoor with Ashley still knocked out and slung over his shoulder.
Soon hitting the falsely comforting Devil's Snare, he made quick work of getting on to the next challenge. He reached Flitwick's keys and tossed Ashley to the ground only to throw a quick Locomotor Mortis her way so that she floated ominously near the door. After a good few minutes of chasing the ridiculous keys about the room he finally got the correct key a shoved it in the door.
The next was McGonagall's transfigured chess set, which he hated to admit held him up a good bit as he was a weak chess player. He briefly considered waking the girl up, recalling that he had seen her playing chess with the youngest Weasley boy, but then recalled how much of a hassle she was so he continued playing by himself.
He passed with ease through his own trap, knocking the large troll out cold before moving on to Snape's. He paused as the flames shot up, sealing him in the room and with a sigh picked up the scroll. He forced himself to read it over many times until he finally thought he had it right. He picked up the tiny black bottle and dripped a few drops in the unconscious girl's mouth before downing the rest himself. He shuddered as a cold fire seeped through his veins and he stepped through the black fire.
In the next room he found himself standing before a mirror with odd writing around the edges. Try as he might he was unable to decipher it. His master demanded that he find the stone so he tossed the student into a heap against one of the walls and began to attempt to find the famed sorcerer's stone.
Just a quick notice this may be my last chapter up for a while because I'm leaving on Sunday for two weeks with no internet. I will try my hardest to get another up but it might not happen.
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