Chapter 1 : Task One Challenge: The Ringing Bells
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I slowly twisted my head to the side as I scrambled to my knees, my eyes focusing on the wooden hut just yards from my body. The flames were undoubtedly reflected in my hazel eyes; the only source of light on my blackened face. Hagrid. He wasn’t in his hut; I had to believe that. He was the invincible giant; the man who didn’t flinch as a Blast-Ended Skrewt shot flames because he went too close to one in our old Care of Magical Creatures lessons. Fearless, inspiring and now possibly dead.
It seemed so long since we idly walked through these crumbling walls, where I watched the others with jealousy; knowing I’d never be as brave as them. I was on my feet now, my foot dragging past little Colin Creevey who looked like he’d been hit with a sleeping spell as his adolescent body lay limp on the ground.
My wand was gripped in my right hand, my hand now covering a half of its length. Was it that long ago since my Gran had handed it to me on my eleventh birthday apprehensively with the promise I’d protect it with my life? At the time, she was joking. Now, I think it's more likely to be the reality. The mahogany wood felt splintered under my rough skin and the tip of the phoenix feather peaked out the top. It was 13 inches, throughout my Hogwarts life it had always seemed just that little too large; too big for someone like me. Now, amongst the vicious battle at my safe school, it seemed too small to fight in such a war. My Gran had told me the details with a stern-faced smile. “Inflexible.” She had said. “Good for defensive spells.” At the time, I’d wondered why I would need a wand that was good for defensive spells; now I knew. And I wish it was better.
There was a girl ahead, her dark hair and eyes wide. They shined with hope and joy - or was I just imagining what I hoped she believed? There were dark rings around her eyes and the beginnings of small lines around her full lips and between her two almond-shaped eyes. She'd aged over the last year, we all had.
I stumbled towars her, remembering how she danced and laughed freely with Harry at the Yule Ball, her eyes wide as she hinted that he needed to dance. I’d laughed with Dean and Seamus. Harry seemed more fearful dancing, then when he fought the Hungarian Horntail. The other champions danced in a similar way to how they fought; I was hoping to pick up tips that could help Harry compete. Krum had looked unbothered as he danced with Hermione, calm – like he’d practised for it for years; he’d been the same as he tried to blind the Chinese Fireball. Cedric was straight-backed, smiling and looking for his friends in the crowd; just as he had in the first task, barely noticing as the Swedish Shortsnout prepared to breathe fire. Fleur was graceful, her eyes skimming past the other champions; watchful and careful – the Common Welsh Green never had a chance. As it turned out, Harry didn't need my help - he had his own way to succeed, carefully sculpted by his loyal best friends. It was a pity he didn't trust the rest of us.
Parvati was just yards away from me, her eyes seeming to crease with hope as she recognised that at least one other person was still alive, still fighting. We briefly exchanged relieved glances and I saw her lips form the word ‘Neville’; the bells in my ears covering all other sounds. My brain span as I fought to hear what she shouted; I was too slow to warn her. To point to the man in black robes behind her. To save her from the green unforgivable curse. The Avada Kedavra. She crumbled like a ragdoll. I walked on.
I rounded the corner, a Probity-Probe was broken in two; how long had it been since Filch prodded us on our innocent trips to Hogsmeade? Professor McGonagall sped past, her wand waving at piles of rubble. A Transfiguration spell to turn them into dogs. The dogs yelped and fled; I watched as the stupid trolls on the crumbling bridge followed. A group of students were able to escape. At least some would survive. The Professor looked at me briefly; her lips formed the word ‘Longbottom’ before she disappeared within the walls.
Was I supposed to follow? I did. There was nothing else to do in the ringing silence. The battle was moving away from the open grounds; it was just me and the dead. I was tired, but I wouldn’t give up. I wouldn’t dare let them die in vain. I would carry on.
It hurt to walk. It hurt to speak. It hurt to raise my father’s wand. But I did. Because I couldn’t give up. I would carry on. I listed names to keep me going. The names of the people I knew, who had died whilst I stood powerless. Dennis. Parvati. Jack. Tonks. Remus. Kaitlyn. Jane. I listed those that I hoped were still alive. Harry. Gran. Seamus. Hermione. Luna. Dean. Ginny. Ron. I listed the professors that I didn’t like. The Carrows. Snape. Slughorn. Trelawney. Moody. I listed the lessons. The battles. The plants. The small things. The uses of Dragon’s Blood. To seal cuts. To regrow bones. To soothe tooth ache. To help with colic. To make a Sleeping Draught. The Quidditch scores. The Quidditch teams. Family members. St Mungo’s wards and it’s tired staff. Would there be anyone left to be sent there? Or would it just be the morgue that will be full?
I carried on because if I gave up, then they would win. They’d taken over our government. Our rules. They’d banned our beliefs. Hunted our friends. Ruined our childhood. Stole the lives of the young. They couldn’t have anymore. They couldn’t take our refuge. They couldn’t. They used to sneer at me, the Slytherins, the Professors, the pure-bloods. Neville Longbottom. The failure. They took everything I had. I would die before they took any more. The bells were ringing and this was war.
This entry is for the 2012 House Cup and should include the following prompts:
- features your House’s Champion
- mentions at least 4 specific breeds of dragon
- mentions at least 1 Unforgivable Curse
- mentions a Blast-Ended Skrewt
- mentions a Sleeping Draught
- mentions 2 of the following types of magic: a transfiguration spell, a sleeping spell,
- includes mention of at least 5 of the 12 uses for dragon's blood (canon or made up by the author)
- mentions at least 2 of the following types of Dark Detectors: Sneakoscope, Probity-Probe
- features a theme of flourishing in the face of adversity
- mentions the details of your Champion’s Wand, as provided by your Head of House
I really hope you enjoyed it! It was fun :)
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