Chapter 17 : CHAPTER 14: WITCH-HUNT
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The diary…gone…destroyed by him in an effort to save Ginny…
The ring…destroyed by Dumbledore at a great cost…
The locket…Tears fell from his tightly-closed eyes as he remembered the disastrous trip that has weakened Dumbledore. It was a costly trip to acquire a fake locket.
Something from Ravenclaw or Gryffindor…
The Dark Lord himself…
The Dark Mark…he shivered as he remember landing on top of the Astronomy Tower…
“AVADA KEDAVRA!” Professor Snape snarled
His scream of agony was muffled by Susan’s chest as she cradled him.
“Dumbledore…” He cried as she relives one of the most painful memories of his young life.
“Harry…shhhh….” Susan murmured as she magically pulled the sheets over them. “It is all in the past…”
“We need to do something…” Diana whispered to Jake as they sat in front of the Gryffindor’s fire place. “We can’t just sit around until the Carrows grow tired looking for us.”
“We don’t have any choice at all.” Jake whispered back, looking around for any unwanted listeners. “Somebody snitched on us. It is too dangerous to call a DA meeting. We might get caught red-handed. Besides, the security has been heighted ten folds especially with the failed invasion of the Forest last night.”
“How do you know it is a failed invasion?” Diana asked.
“I heard from the Carrows at the professor’s lounge where Professor Bean of Arithmancy harangued me for setting his class on fire.” He smirked. “Honestly, it was accidental.” He added when Diana glared at him. “Anyway, Alecto was actually shuddering in fear. It seems that Macnair was captured last night during the failed attempt to crush Hagrid and the centaurs. The Dark Lord was furious by the look of it. Amycus mentioned that we now have a new Head of Auror Department since the previous one was unfortunate enough to be in the Dark Lord’s presence when he heard the news. I also heard that there are rumors that the newly-escaped Kingsley and his rebel forces have merged with Hagrid’s.”
“I bet the Dark Lord did not like that.” Diana smirked.
Jake was about to speak when he realized the whole common area has quieted. He turned to see the head of their House, Professor Longbottom standing at the entrance.
“Mr. Roberts, Ms. Chase, you two are coming with me.” He said dead pan before turning away.
Jake and Diana looked at each other before following the Head of the House, most eyes on them.
“Now what?” Diana murmured as they walked behind the silent Professor Longbottom.
“Professor…” Jake tried to say something as they stopped in front of the hospital wing. “Miss Chase, we will leave you here. Madam Abbot has something to discuss with you.”
“Yes, Professor.” Diana looked nervously at Jake who only shrugged before fallowing Neville who is already walking away.
“You wanted to see me, ma’am?” Diana asked as she approached Madam Hannah who was crouched on her desk, her back to Diana. The Gryffindor student was about to speak again when she felt a trace of magic behind her. She turned and gasped when she saw the glowing wall of green light that has enveloped the door. “Madam, I don’t think…”
Diana turned back to the Hannah. Her eyes bulged when she saw the matron in charge of the hospital wing slowly dissolved into a pile of dead vines.
She backed away as the vines turned to beetles that started crawling after her.
“I don’t think…?” She backed away urgently at the same time pulling out her wands. She tried blasting the beetles but instead of exploding, the beetles hit with her blasting curse only divided into to three. She almost whimpered when she felt her back collide with the growing green wall of light. She was about to raise her wand to try a different spell when it was forcibly slammed into the green wall. This time, she couldn’t help but whimper as she realized her whole body, except for her left hand, is glued to the wall. She was about to transfer her wand to her free hand when the beetles stormed her, climbing her robes, some climbing directly on her legs inside her skirt.
“No, no…” She whimpered as she dropped her wand even as she swat away some of the beetles.
She clamped her month shut when the swarm of beetles reached her face. She could only close her eyes as she was fully enveloped in beetles.
“NO!” She shouted before sitting up sweating in her dormitory bed.
“What’s up…?” One of her rooms asked sleepily.
“Nothing…” Diana murmured, falling back on her pillow. She glanced out of the nearest window to see the moon shining. She couldn’t even remember the day ending, much less going to bed.
“What the bloody hell, happened?” She asked herself as she brushed sweat off her brows.
“She is not the snitch.” Neville sighed as he took a sip of tea. “We have delved deep into her mind without prying into her most cherished memories. We have broken down all mental defenses and she isn’t the one. She is not who we are looking for.”
“Why her of all people?” Hannah asked. “I expected you to be more suspicious of the Slytherin Majah Raj, Selena Mitchell with her death eater father or anyone of the Hufflepuff boys.”
“She’s a metamorphmagus. She is more adept with deception.” Neville shrugged, refilling his cup. “I just thought she is a better candidate than the others.”
“The night is still young. Who said I won’t test them all?” Neville smirked before Hannah magically made his cup disappear.
“No more talking of snitches and betrayal.” Hannah said coyly, already starting to unbutton her robe. “The night IS young and the door is already locked, Longbottom! I need some loving now.”
“Yes, ma’am!” Neville smirked as he helped Hannah unbutton her robe.
Jake Robert slept and dreamed that he was walking along a winding road fenced by trees burdened by lush, red leaves. He was walking with his heart thudding with fear and his hand wet with sweat as he gripped his wand.
What strike him odd was that he was aware that he was dreaming. He felt like an on-looker at the same time a player in a show he is watching. It wasn’t what worries him though. This was not his first nightmare. What worries him is that in this dream, he is walking with Selena Mitchell of all people, with her gripping his left arm tightly in fear.
Other than the Slytherin girls, Selena Mitchell and the elusive Princess Adams are the only good-looking girls he hadn’t tried asking out. Princess he knows would reject him immediately. The girl has the hots for only one stupid dweeb. Selena is a little bookish for his taste and he’d rather forgo the experience of being visited by her father as endured by the last guy who tried to ask her out. Plus he has it in good source that she does not prefer boys.
Yet, here he is, consciously dreaming that he was with Selena Mitchell in a very tensed-filled scenario.
He would have loved dreaming about Majah Raj.
“This is just a dream…” Selena murmured beside him. His eyes bulged and he stumbled to a halt as he stared at her. How come she be saying that when it is he who is dreaming this.
“What did you say?” He asked.
“This is all a dream.” Selena repeated as she looked around in fear.
“I am the one who is supposed to say that. This is my dream.” Jake muttered, looking around too.
“No, I am the one…magic.” Selena muttered as realization dawned on her face.
“Magic…someone used magic on us. Someone somehow linked our dreams together.” Selena explained. “You believe you are dreaming. Yet I also believe I am dreaming. It is only logical to conclude that we both are dreaming and our dreams were linked together by somebody who is particularly strong. This is deep magic.”
“I don’t like the sound of it.” Jake cursed under his breath. “If we have been targeted then I am certain who ever did this somehow knows we are part of the DA. Somebody did snitch on us.”
“And this eliminates both of us.” Selena replied, pulling him a long the path. “We can’t stay immobile for so long. We don’t know what this dream is all about except that I am feeling really afraid right now.”
“You and me both.” Jake said as he followed her. “This leaves us with the other five.”
“Princess will never betray us!” Selena remarked. “How about…?” She stopped when they heard a long howl not far from them. “Run?” She asked.
“That’s a good idea…”
They were about to quicken their pace when a massive werewolf jumped in their path, growing menacingly at them.
“How the heck did it got in front of us?” Jake muttered as they slowly stepped back.
“I don’t think it is the same wolf…” Selena murmured when they hear a howl nearing from behind them. “Now, what…?”
“This is just a dream…” Jake muttered stubbornly though he raised his wand against the wolf in front of them, his hand shaking. “This is just a dream…”
“But if they used magic to bring us here…we could actually get hurt here…” Selena almost cried in fear as she too raised a shaking wand.
“Then we go down fighting…we have been training for this!” Jake replied, trying to add bravado to his voice.
“Daddy would be miffed if I die now.” Selena murmured before the wolf pounced on them and Jake met it with a strong reducto curse. With only a fraction of hesitation, Selena added her own impedimenta spell to that of Jake.
Jake smiled as he saw the wolf falter but his elation turned to fear when he heard the howl now much closer.
“Selena, behind…” He was slammed on the ground as something huge slammed behind him. He heard Selena shrieked as intense pain shot through his shoulder. He tried to raise his wand only see it broken in half. Dimly, he saw Selena being mauled by the first werewolf. Gritting his teeth, he pushed up against the huge mass on top of him, ignoring the pain as the wolf bit deeper into his shoulder. “I will not die tonight…” He murmured weakly as he fell back on the ground and the world turned dark on him.
“I guess they are not the one…” Neville murmured as he looked into a round mirror lying on his desk, kaleidoscope of scenes churning in it. “Interestign pairing though…”
“Come back here…” Hannah murmured sleepily on the mattress on the floor, holding a blanket to cover herself. Most of the student’s chairs were haphazardly pushed away and crammed against the walls to create a small space for their mattress. “Let the kids sleep in peace…”
“Four more…” Neville murmured before walking back toward his lover.
“How did we get here?” Scott asked Matt as they looked around the Quidditch pitch. “Last I remembered was we were goofing around in the common room.”
“I don’t even play quidditch.” Matt remarked. He finds it curious that they could somehow be transported from their common room inside the castle to here in the pitch. Such an occurrence has bypassed all known magical charms and protections of the school…an occurrence that he didn’t thought possible.
“Wands out then?” Scott asked.
“Yes thought it would be more prudent to get back to the castle.” Matt looked at the bleachers surrounding the pitch. “Is it me or the fog is a little bit thick tonight…so thick that I am imagining people seating up there, looking down on us…”
“You’re not the only one.” Scott gulped as he slowly moved toward the entrance to the teams’ locker rooms. ‘I think we need to get out of here...fast!”
“Way a head of you!’ Matt shouted as he run toward the locker rooms.
“Wait for me…” Scott run after him as eerie groans started echoing from the stand. “I don’t like the sound of that!”
The two skidded to a halt when the entrance to the locker rooms banged open to admit into the pitch groaning inferi dressed in tattered quidditch uniforms.
“Inferi!” Matt wracked his brain for a strategy to escape their current predicament. He looked up at the bleachers to see more inferi walking down toward them. Somehow, he never anticipated an inferi infestation hitting the school.
“What now…?” Scott pulled out his wand and tried a blasting curse on the approaching inferi. The curse tore off limps from those it hit but the reanimated corpse still crept toward them; some crawling on the ground after their torso was blasted away.
“Fire…” Matt instructed him. “Our only chance is fire.”
He gestured with his wand, mimicking the action of twirling a lasso, a chain of fire erupted from the wand’s tip to whip the closest inferi. Those hit immediately burst into flame.
Scott followed suite, creating a ring of fire around them.
“They keep coming!” Scott muttered in frustration as inferi kept trying to cross the ring of fire. Those that get passed through it are immediately whipped into smithereens by Matt. “Send a flare toward the school, Matt. We need help!”
“I can’t…do you know how complicated a spell this fire lasso is?” Matt muttered as he whipped more inferi. “I don’t think I can recreate it in a quick again.”
“I am on it, then.” Scott shouted, sending a red flare toward the castle. “Hopefully somebody gets here fast! Until then…”
“We fight!” Matt said fiercely as he looked around looking for ways to escape their predicament, his mind already evaluating every little detail. His eyes narrowed on the goal posts. “We need to go there…”
“Are you crazy?” Scott shouted. “There are thousands of inferi between here and there!”
“Do you want to die?” Matt shouted back as he started moving toward the goal posts, whipping inferi that gets in their way. Scott, cursing, followed him, magically moving the ring of fire with them.
After a few minutes of whipping inferi and when his arm was tiring, Matt almost stumbled when he glanced at the goal posts.
It was no longer there. It was if it disappeared in thin air.
“What the heck?” He muttered, lowering his wand in surprise, letting the whip fizzle out.
“Matt!!” Scott shouted when dozens of inferi stepped through the ring of fire, their rotting body aflame. “My fire can’t keep them for long…they are sacrificing some of them to make a bridge over it!”
Matt was about to re-raised his wand when a burning inferi tackled him to the ground, his robe immediately catching on fire.
“Reducto!” He blasted the inferi off him only for it to be replaced by two more. “Scott!” He glanced up to see the ring of fire gone and Scott being dragged away, struggling and trashing. “NO!” He shouted as he too was overwhelmed by the horde of reanimated dead.
“Still not the one.” Neville muttered. Giving them darkest dream possible allowed him to breach their mind with all of their mental defenses down. He used his wand to twirl the scene on the round mirror, looking for the dreams he had given the last two member of the DA.
With a sense of déjà vu, Princess Adams watched the giant octopus plays with the ball. She couldn’t help smile as the octopus splashed water everywhere in an effort to keep the ball in the air.
She followed the ball with her eyes as the giant octopus tossed it up, high into the air. For a moment, the spinning ball floated in mid air, super-embossed in the large full moon before gravity took its course and brought the ball back into the waiting tentacles. Over and over, the ball would rise up into the air, super-embossing into the moon.
“The moon…” Princess’ beautiful face creased with confusion as she stared into the moon. “Is it already night time?” The last she remembered doing was attending a dreadfully boring potion class with Selena.
With a last toss of the ball, the giant octopus sank down into the bottom of the lake. Almost like an instinct, Princess pulled out her wand and transfigured the ball into petals that slowly floated down into surface of the lake.
“This has happened before…” She murmured, looking around, expecting to see Matt Connor leaning against the nearest tree, smiling at him. What she found there was Matt locked in a torrid kiss with Selena Mitchell, her best friend. The two were entangled so much together you could hardly distinguish who the owners of the limbs are.
For a moment, Princess stood there shock, her hands over her mouth. Truth be told, she had considered the possibility of the two hooking up. Both are so alike in every conceivable way. Both are bookish and studious. If you peel off Matt’s shyness mask, you’d discover a personality so alike with that of Selena.
Then it hit her and Princess bit her lips under hands, trying to stem what she was feeling.
This is Matt and Selena she is seeing. She knows both inside and out. The two would never hook up.
No longer could contain it, she allowed laughter to bubble from her lips, her hands cradling her stomach as she giggled out loud.
The Matt and Selena in front of her disentangled themselves and looked at her weirdly.
“Are you not jealous?” Selena asked cruelly. “You could never satisfy him the way I do…the way I just did.” She smiled seductively as she grabbed Matt’s already bulging front. “That is why he left you…”
“Damn right.” Matt smirked as he cupped Selena’s right breast in response. “Now, run a long. Selena and I have much ‘satisfying’ to do.”
Princess only giggled louder.
“This is the strangest dream…” She said between bouts of giggles. She couldn’t believe she almost fell for it. “You two don’t even speak like your real self.”
“Fool!” Selena cursed.
“Oh, what a lark.” Princess wiped tears off the side of her eyes. “I sometimes surprise myself with what I imagine.” Still giggling, she pulled out her wand and pointed it at the two who had stared angrily at her before locking lips together. “Away you two…”
The kissing pair disappeared in wisps of smoke.
“What a weird dream this is.” Princess murmured as she tried to recover her composure. Still smiling, she looked up at the moon, wondering what this is all about.
“She is not the one…but then again, I never thought she’d be the one…though I knew she’d be the only one to fend off my dreams.” Neville smirked at Princess’ dream. He glanced at the sleeping Hannah on their blanket. His knees were tired due to their ferocious love-making. He wanted so much to sleep and rest but it is imperative that they discover who the snitch is. Time is of the essence. “Now for the last one… the hardest her being still awake…”
Majah Raj knew she was in danger. The knowledge was based purely on instinct. Tonight, as prefect, it is her schedule to make rounds and check the hallways until the head girl and boy relieves her. She had walked the darkened corridor plenty of times before. Her reputation has ensured that she met no midnight ‘adventurer’ during her rounds. She had owned these corridors since she was appointed prefect. She knows every crevice and hiding places, every shadowy and blind spots. She could walk blindfolded and never get lost.
Most of all, even with the Carrows ruling the school with an iron fist, even with the bullying of the Slytherin house is at all time high, none has threatened her in these corridors, her territory.
“Peeves, these better not be you…” She murmured as she pulled out her wand. She hastened her pace, her pony tail bobbing left and right. From time to time she would looked back and stifle a grasp. She couldn’t decide whether she was imagining it or not. The shadows seemed alive. She even thought she caught a glimpsed of a shape of a man floating from one shadow patches to another.
Gripping her wand tightly, she quickened her already fast pace. She glanced at the portraits on the wall, hoping to find companion. She was disappointed to see that most of them were empty. She even found a portrait with the horse of Sir Cadogan idly munching on the grass. It seems the foolish knight was in a hurry to leave that he forgot his horse.
“What could scare the portrait’s occupants away?” She asked herself as she swiped Goosebumps off her brow. She looked back and she gulped the scream back down her throat. One by one the torches on the corridor were being extinguished by shadows passing them.
Throwing away all sense of composure, she ran toward the direction of her house. Every time, she would pass a room, she would skid to a halt, tries to open it and cursed when she finds that the door is locked.
“Bloody hell!” She half-shrieked after she tried the third door she encountered. Now angry more than afraid, she turned toward the shadows chasing her. She pointed her wands at it. Immediately light bloomed at the center of the dark corridor, chasing away the shadows.
Her sigh of relief turned to a grimace of fear when the light she conjured was swallowed by darkness.
Her anger turned back to fear. Sniffing, she ran away from the darkness. In her haste, she no longer cared where she was going. All that is important is to escape the darkness that seems to be chasing her.
Despite the fear in her heart, she could not help but think that who ever snitched about their organization has now snitched her name to the Carrows. Maybe it is them who sent these shadows against her.
She glanced back to see more torches are extinguished.
Her whimper of fear was cut short when she slammed against something and she fell on the floor, bringing that something down with her on the corridor.
That something turned out to be a guy.
“Hey…” Jake arms snaked around her the moment they fell on the floor, with her on top of him. “Never thought you wanted me this much…”
“Roberts, let me go…” She stammered, trying to wrestle free of Jake’s arm. “You don’t…” She stumbled on her behind when she rolled off him, raising her wand toward the hallway.
All the torches were lit.
The shadows looked normal and weren’t menacing at all.
“What?” Jake asked, sitting up beside her, his wands out too. He squinted at the corridor looking for any threat. After the nightmare he had, he wouldn’t be caught unaware by any possible threat. Not if he can help it.
Except there is nothing in front of them.
“What?” He asked, looking at her scared face. He had never seen the Slytherin girl so rattled before.
“I…” Majah gulped, looking at the now normal-looking corridor. “I thought…”
“There is nothing there.” Jake stood up, offering her a hand to help her up. He wonders what could rattle Majah so much that she took his hand without complaining. “Was the Gryffindor prefect harassing you or something?”
“What?” Majah asked confused, he heart still pounding. She looked around the unfamiliar corridor. It is part of the castle she hasn’t visited yet. A huge round portrait of a sleeping fat woman was behind her.
“You’re in front of the entrance to the Gryffindor House.” Jake explained. “I was just about to sneak into the kitchen for some food when you bumped into me. What rattled you so much?”
“I don’t think the school is safe anymore…” Majah murmured, trying to catch her breath and composure. Fear and adrenaline was still coursing through her veins. She knew she wouldn’t reach her House alone tonight without panicking. She fears that the shadow might comeback if she is alone again. “Ah…Jake…”
Jake only raised an eyebrow at the girl who now couldn’t look at her.
“My house is half way across the castle…Do you might if…you…er…accompany me there?” She asked almost in a whisper, her hand clammy as she gripped her wand.
“For one condition.” Jake smirked, all thoughts of his own bad dream has disappeared, as Majah turned toward her glaring. “Now, the girl I know is back. Don’t worry… I was just joking. I just wanted you to forget what ever scared you back then. Come on, I’ll accompany you until your House’s entrance in the dungeon.”
“Thank you…” Majah murmured, her momentary anger disappearing from her eyes.
For quite some time, they both walked in silence, still gripping both of their wands. Jake broke the silence when they were going down the stairs, telling her to avoid a step that seems solid but actually it is like a quicksand trap.
“Uh…Jake…” She turned to him as they reached the last step.
“Yes…?” Jake asked as he used his wand to light up a particularly dark corridor.
“Do you think everyone suspects I’m the snitch?” She asked almost in a whisper, looking everywhere but to him.
“Probably…” Jake shrugged. He looked around as they descended steps he hadn’t traversed before. He never had any reason to visit the Slytherin house. Until now…
“Does everyone include you?”
“Yes.” Jake replied honestly.
“Then why are you here with me now?” Majah couldn’t deny to herself that she felt hurt of his mistrust. It is a feeling she never expected and it caught her by surprise, making her eyes water. She turned away from Jake to hide it. Damn this guy for always catching me by surprise! She muttered to herself.
“We suspect you not because we personally believe you are the snitch. We suspect you because you are Slytherin.” Jake tried to explain it as best as he could. “Old prejudice is hard to shake off, Majah. I am here not just because I am totally in to you but because I think it is time we, everyone of us move pass this stupid everyone else versus Slytherin nonsense.”
Majah only nodded as they reached the entrance to the Slytherin house.
“Thank…” Majah murmured before pushing the door open, surreptitiously wiping tears off her eyes.
“No password? No challenge?” Jake asked surprise.
“Who would dare enter our House?” Majah finally looked at Jake, fully composed.
“You have a good point.” Jake saluted her with a lopsided smile. “Well…I guess this is good night…”
Majah watched as Jake walked away, twirling his wand while whistling. The guy is infuriatingly overconfident, a known butterfly when it comes to dating girls, a Gryffindor and he represents everything that her House is not. Associating with him is tantamount to social suicide in the current regime. She wouldn’t be caught dead with the guy if she could help it. In fact, she had made it a rule that she wouldn’t be caught dead with any guy at all. Period.
Crap! She muttered as she finally made a decision she knows she will surely regret later.
“Jake…” She called as Jake was about to ascend the stairs leading out of the dungeons.
“Yup?” Jake turned around.
“If you can manage not to date anyone until next visit, I’ll go out with you to Hogsmeade.” She smirked at his open-mouthed expression. Inside, her heart was hammering hard.
“I…” Jake stammered.
“Goodnight, Jake.” She gave him one last tentative smile before she turned and closed the door.
It would be a long time before Jake finally managed to close his mouth and ascended the stairs with a spring on his steps.
“Not her too…” Neville shook his head in confusion. He had used the strongest fright curse he knew. He had even succeeded in affecting her while she is awake. Her mind has been wide open for him to look into. He found no indication of treachery. In fact, he was only inundated with thoughts of Jake Roberts. “If not her then who…?”
Only one last person left.
He turned around suspiciously at the sleeping Hannah Abbot.
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