Deep in the bowels of the castle, beneath the dungeons, was a maze of tunnels and catacombs. These catacombs had been built as a last line of defense should invaders from without lay siege to the castle, and offered the wizards a final refuge. Or so it had been once, in the days of the Founders and their children, when Muggles were witch hunters and persecuted magic-wielders without mercy. There were storerooms which contained enough provisions to last a hundred years-food, blankets, pillows, lanterns, and candles. There was a deep cistern of pure water to use for washing and cooking. There were even toilets, and rooms that seemed endless. But the existence of the catacombs had long been forgotten save by a few. One of those was the Headmaster, whose job it was to know the layout of the castle down to the last stone. The Founder ghosts knew of the catacombs and so did the librarians, who had access to the building plans of the castle itself. But other than that, no one else now living remembered they were there.
The revenant used that knowledge to its own advantage, slipping through the walls and the floor to take shelter in the dark depths, where it could rest undisturbed until the time was right to strike and eliminate all those who opposed it. Once it had been a vengeful spirit, summoned by Marlene McKinnon to do her bidding, but it had become much more than that now. After it had devoured Quirrell's spirit and magical energy, it became stronger, faster, and it had merged its awareness with another, far greater, soul. It was this merging that gave it a power beyond the one it had inherited in death, as the dominant spirit had been a magic wielder of great power.
As it hung in the half-life on the border between the living and the dead, the revenant chuckled darkly to itself. In life it had been a master manipulator, quick to anger and quicker to harm those who opposed it. With its untimely death, it became a receptacle of rage and hatred against the living, and had been willing to work with McKinnon to create havoc and fear among the wizards who had wronged her. Her naked ambition and misguided beliefs in her own superiority caused her to misjudge the revenant, and believe that because she had the Codex Magicka, the revenant was hers to command.
In reality, she had little control over what the spirit did. It had obeyed because her goals ran parallel to its own, and it was always happy to cause pain and suffering to living. Now it had a deeper ambition . . . to kill certain people and then to rule over the world with the living as its slaves. It also wanted to revenge itself on those who had betrayed it . . . an old man with a white beard, a witch bearing the sigil of the Society of Ravens, a black-robed wizard who had tricked it into believing he could be trusted, and last but not least, a young boy with green eyes and a powerful magical gift. All of these must die, or else its ambition would never be fulfilled. It had no fear of death itself, as a mostly corporeal spirit, it was practically immortal.
There was one way it could be unbound and destroyed, but it required mastery of a discipline none of his enemies had.
All it had to do was wait for the right opportunity, and take down its enemies one at a time. It drifted in the air, a tattered remnant of a lost soul, waiting for night to fall again.
Severus paced up and down Albus' office, too agitated to sit down in the chair he'd been offered. Quirrell's death had shaken him, though he hated to admit it.
"Severus, do try and calm down," the Headmaster began soothingly. "You remind me of a caged panther."
Severus whirled on him, his black cloak billowing. "Calm down?" he repeated incredulously. "A colleague of mine has been murdered and you want me to calm down?" He fixed Dumbledore with a hard obsidian gaze. "What are you planning on doing about this, Albus? Burying your head in the sand like an ostrich? Do you not comprehend the danger we are all in? Especially the students?"
"Of course, Severus. But going off half-cocked will not help anything," Dumbledore began.
Severus' jaw clenched until a vein throbbed in it. "Albus, I am ready to go off fully cocked unless you tell me that you are going to take what happened seriously. Quirrell was drained of his life force, and I know of only one type of creature that could do that. A revenant. A creature that is practically immortal and well nigh impossible to kill. It is here in the castle, Albus. And it hunts us. Or it will soon." Severus declared menacingly. "We have only a few defenses against it, and if we fail to stop it, there will be more deaths. Now, I ask you again, what will you do? If it were up to me, I would close the school, and send the children home, get them as far away as possible."
Albus looked rather alarmed. "Severus, surely the revenant can be contained?"
"No, Albus. With what could we contain it? It can become incorporeal at will, walk through walls. Some wards will stop it, but even injuries to its body shall heal in time."
"Can we banish it then?"
"I do not know. I know only that it was summoned by McKinnon, but at her death, when it should have returned from whence it came, it stayed. Now it is bound to no wizard's command. Now it is free, and it hates us with a singular hatred of the undead for the living. When it returns from whatever dark hole it is hiding in, it will come to slay innocents. It lives for such destruction, Albus. You need to act now, Headmaster, and save the children. Before it's too late."
The Headmaster looked suddenly weary and old. "The school has not been closed down in over fifty years. Not since the Chamber of Secrets was last opened. I feel as though I have failed, Severus."
Severus placed his hands on the desk and looked the old man right in the eyes. "You shall feel even worse if students die because you dithered instead of acting. Close the school, Albus. Then we can try and combat this thing as best we can. What did you do with Quirrell's body?"
Albus blinked at the abrupt change of subject. "Err . . . we were going to have a service and bury him on the grounds. Why?"
"Burn the body and scatter the ashes," Severus ordered.
"He was drained by a revenant. Those who are killed that way may rise again, under the revenant's control, or so say the legends. Burn his body and scatter the ashes. And do it quickly. You can still hold the service without a body."
Albus nodded. "I shall make sure it is done. How do you know so much about these creatures?"
Severus snorted. "That should be obvious. As a spy I studied them, in case I ever needed to fight one. I know as much as anyone about what it is capable of. There is little we can do to protect the students, save for locking them in their common rooms and warding them. That is how Lena escaped it. I shall ask Irma and her to help me ward the common rooms."
"And the Hall too," Albus urged. "While you are doing that, I shall arrange the memorial service and contact the parents."
"What will you tell them? The truth?"
"I don't want to risk a panic. So I will tell them a half-truth."
Severus shook his head. "And when the truth finally does come out, you shall look like a duplicitous fool."
The Headmaster chuckled slightly. "There are worse things I could be, Severus. A lying fool is the least of them. I shall make an announcement in the hall tonight that all the students are to stay in their common rooms once you have warded them. Classes will be canceled and the Hogwarts Express will be ready to transport them home within two days."
"Good. I shall send Harry home with the Weasleys and then return to help you fight the revenant. Since the Codex Magicka summoned it, perhaps it has the magic needed to defeat it as well. I will ask Lena to research it."
"Very good, Severus. Well, I shall leave you to your tasks. Angels and ministers of grace defend us."
"And may fortune favor the foolish," Severus returned, quirking an eyebrow. Then he spun on his heel and left the office, going to the library first to ask Irma and Lena for help with the wards. Afterwards he would see how Harry was doing. He walked briskly up the stairs and strode down the corridor to the library, his boots tapping out an ominous rhythm on the floor. He felt the back of his neck prickle in warning and though he could see nothing, he had the feeling he was being watched.
He glanced cautiously behind him, but nothing was there. Yet all his instincts warned of danger.
When he crossed the library threshold, however, he felt the wards activate, and a feeling of peace and warmth steal over him. He saw Irma and Lena over near the Restricted Section, talking softly. He made his way over to them, his boots treading soundlessly on the carpet.
"Forgive me for interrupting, ladies, but I need to speak with you privately. Is there somewhere we can go that we won't be overheard?"
"Severus, great Ceridwen!" Lena squeaked. "You scared me half to death." She put a hand on her heart.
"Sorry, but this can't wait, Lena."
"Over here, in the Restricted Section," Irma said. She opened the door with her key and led the way inside.
The door locked behind them and it had Anti-Eavesdropping charms on it. "What's been happening? Has Dumbledore decided what we should do?" Irma asked.
"He has decided to close the school."
"Thank Merlin! We need to get these children home safe and sound. Then we can deal with this bloody walking corpse!" Irma declared.
Severus nodded. "There are, however, things we must do to protect the children while they are still here. Lena, I know you cast rune magic on the library. Can you teach me how so that I may ward my Slytherins' common room entrance? And teach the other House Heads as well? The students need somewhere to go where the revenant cannot follow."
"I can. And Aunt Irma knows the runes too." Lena agreed.
"I shall work with Minerva and Filius," Irma said.
"And I will help Pomona as well as Severus," Lena told her. "Is there anything else we may do to help?"
"Yes. I need you to do some research on revenants. Specifically, their weaknesses. Can you use the Codex Magicka? Albus and I thought perhaps it may have some information to banish or fight a revenant, as it has spells in there to summon one."
"I shall get to work on it as soon as the wards are up," the librarian assured him.
"Thank you, Lena." Severus exhaled a sigh of relief. "I am sorry for not asking sooner, but how are you?"
The blond woman grimaced. "I'm not hurt physically. The castle and the runes protected me from the revenant's attack. But it scared me, Severus. I have never known such terror before and I pray I never will again. I thought I was going to die." She shuddered. "I know I shall have nightmares from it."
"Anyone would. Come to me if you need Dreamless Sleep," he patted her shoulder lightly. "You were fortunate, not many survive an attack like that. Your ingenuity and resourcefulness saved you."
"The teachings of the Society saved me," Lena answered quietly. "Otherwise I would be a corpse."
"Merlin and Ceridwen forbid!" Irma said fervently. She hugged her niece.
Lena hugged her back. Then she followed Severus out of the library. Time was of the essence.
Meanwhile, Harry was lying on the couch in Severus' quarters, slowly going stir crazy. He hated being confined and hated more being kept in the dark. He heaved a sigh and said to the raven perched above his head, "Skull, it's been almost an hour and a half. I want to go and talk to my friends, at least. I know they're probably wondering what happened to me."
"Why don't you ask Prissy to fetch them for you? Sev never said you couldn't have visitors while you waited," Skull suggested.
"That's true." Harry brightened. It was almost four o'clock, and so his friends were out of class by now. "Prissy! Could you come here, please?"
The elf popped in. "What does Master Harry need?"
"Uh, can you tell my friends I want them to come and visit?"
"Certainly. What be your friends names?"
"Draco Malfoy, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Neville Longbottom."
"Prissy shall be back shortly." She popped away.
While Harry waited for his friends' arrival, Skullduggery sang "You've Got A Friend In Me."
Harry smiled at the goofy raven, who was parading up and down the couch, his feathered "bonnet" standing up.
Prissy returned and bowed to Harry. "Master's friends have arrived. Would Master Harry like some refreshments?"
"Yes, please," Harry said, just as a knock came at the door. He went and opened it. There stood all four of his friends. "Come on in."
"When did you acquire a house elf, Potter?" Draco asked as soon as he crossed the threshold.
"Did the Society give her to you for arresting Mad Marlene?" Ron asked, as he followed Malfoy.
"I've heard that house elves are treated no better than slaves by wizards," Hermione began disapprovingly. "Harry, I never thought you'd be part of that."
Harry shut the door then went to sit on the couch. "Hermione, Prissy's not my slave. I freed her by giving her clothing and she agreed to work for me, because she had nowhere else to go. She claims I saved her life."
Just then Prissy popped back in with a tray full of snacks and drinks. The elf looked at Hermione. "Master Harry saved Prissy's life by bringing evil Mistress Marlene to justice. Prissy owes Master Harry a debt of gratitude. It is an honor to serve Master Harry." This was the longest speech Harry had ever heard the elf utter since coming to Hogwarts. Prissy coughed, blushed, then blinked away.
"See, Hermione. Prissy likes serving Harry," Neville said.
"Oh. I . . . I didn't realize . . ." Hermione said apologetically.
"It's okay," Harry waved off her apology.
"So, tell us what happened at the trial," Draco said, he was far more interested in that than he was house elves.
Harry launched into a full description of the trial and its outcome. Everyone cheered when they learned of Marlene's fate. They were even more astonished that Viv had come to see Harry.
"She talks!" Ron exclaimed. "Bloody hell!"
"Ron!" Hermione frowned. "You're lucky the professor isn't here, he'd wash out your mouth."
Harry smirked. "Yeah, about as well as a two-year-old."
"That'd be about her mental level right now," Draco said sagely. "Did she mention the rest of us?"
"Uh . . . not really. But then I didn't really have time to talk to her, just a few minutes and then she left." Harry said, now feeling bad that the dragonet hadn't recalled her other caregivers.
"Guess it makes sense she would remember you, Harry. You were with her the most," Neville said calmly.
The others nodded in agreement, but Ron looked disappointed.
But then the redhead asked, "Hey, have you heard what happened here while you were gone? Old Quirrell bit the dust."
"Ron! Have some respect for the dead." Hermione cried, aghast.
"What for? He's pushing up daisies, Hermione, he won't care."
"So? The poor man died of a heart attack right in the middle of the corridor. The least you can do is be polite. After all, he was our teacher."
"Who nobody liked," Ron retorted.
"Still . . ."
Harry bit his lip, wondering if he should correct his friends about Quirrell's death. He knew quite well it hadn't been a heart condition that killed the Defense professor. But he held his tongue for once, figuring Severus would have a fit if Harry blurted out that little secret. "Who found him?"
"I think Dumbledore and McGonagall did," Draco answered. "They must have gotten one hell of a shock. Lucky they didn't drop dead too."
"That would have been a real disaster," Hermione commented.
"For you, maybe. The rest of us would have had a holiday," Ron teased.
"Ron, you're terrible!"
"I was kidding, Hermione. Can't you take a joke?"
"Not when you're joking about people dying," Hermione huffed.
"Enough about dying, you're making me depressed!" Skull squawked. "And I'm a black bird, so it's easy for me to be that way. How about we tell jokes? That's always fun!"
"What kind of jokes, Skull?" asked Harry.
"Knock knock jokes. They're one of my favorites." The raven purred. "Here, I'll start. Knock knock!"
"Who's there?" Harry responded.
"Madamn foot got caught in the door!" Skull warbled, affecting a Scottish accent.
The kids cracked up, for the saucy raven sounded like a male version of Minerva McGonagall.
"Your turn, Harry," Skull said.
"Uh . . . okay. Let me think," Harry said. It had been a long time since he had told any knock knock jokes. "All right, here I go. Knock knock."
"Who's there?" Skull cackled, sounding like an old lady.
"Honey bee who?"
"Honey bee a dear and get me a butterbeer."
"Good one, Harry!" Ron said, clapping.
The rest of them were giggling.
"Hermione, do you know any knock knock jokes?" Harry queried.
"Of course. My best friend in primary school and I used to tell dozens of them. Here's one for you, Harry. Knock knock."
"Yacht a know me by now," Hermione said, affecting a country accent.
"I want a turn." Ron said. "Give me one, Harry."
"Okay. Knock knock."
"Huh?" Ron looked puzzled. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Never mind. Just say voodoo who?" Harry rolled his eyes.
"Oh. Uh . . . Voodoo who?"
"Voodoo you tink you are?" Harry growled, using a Transylvanian accent.
That got everyone snickering again.
"Skull, you tell me one," Draco urged.
"Will do. Knock knock." The raven made a knocking noise.
"Who's there?" asked Draco.
"Stopwatch your doing and open this door!" Skull cawed.
"That was really clever, Skull!" Neville grinned. "Hermione, here's one my Uncle Algy told me. Knock knock."
"Alpaca the trunk, you pack the suitcase."
"Brilliant, Nev!" Skullduggery trilled. "Now, let's see who can . . .na-a-me that tune!" Then he began to twirl about and sing part of a popular song. "Bang, bang on the door, baby! I can't hear you!" he began to bob up and down as if to invisible music.
Harry thought the tune sounded familiar, but couldn't place it. Hermione was muttering to herself. The rest just looked blank.
Skull sang another line. "Knock a little louder, sugar!"
As if on cue, Severus came through the door. "Skullduggery, what in Merlin's name . . .?"
"Hiya, Sev! We're having a contest. Can you . . . na-ame that tune?" the raven demanded, sounding like a game show host. "Like a fool, I fell in love with you, you turned my world upside down . . ."
"Bird, please. Of course I know that song." Severus rolled his eyes. "It was one of the most popular tunes of my generation." Though he didn't say so, that had been Lily's favorite song.
"Name it then!" challenged the raven.
"Gold star, baby!" Skull crooned, making smooching noises. "But . . . can you name the artist?"
"Derek and the Dominos. Later re-made by Eric Clapton."
"You're the grand prize winner, Mr. Snape! Woo hoo! You've just won a trip to Hawaii!"
By then the kids were rolling about on the floor, laughing fit to die.
Severus shook his head. "Harry, what is the meaning of this?"
Before Harry could reply, Skull broke in with, "It's a pajama party, Sev!"
"Hush, Skullduggery! Before I send you on a one way trip to Hawaii," Severus threatened. "Harry?"
Harry swallowed, wondering if he were in trouble. Snape had told him not to leave his quarters, he never said anything about inviting friends over. "Uh . . . I was bored in here. so I invited my friends over. I was telling them about Marlene's trial."
"And how she got toasted," Ron put in. "And then we told Harry about Quirrell keeling over in the middle of the hallway, dead as a doornail."
"Mr. Weasley, kindly refrain from speaking so flippantly about your deceased teacher." Severus reproved. "He was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Huh? What's that supposed to mean?" Neville asked, puzzled.
"Now, I believe it is time for supper, so you should all start heading to the hall. The Headmaster had a few important announcements to make. Come, I shall escort you." He opened the door and they all filed out and marched up the stairs to the Great Hall.
Harry felt like he was in primary school again, and almost expected Severus to tell them to get in a straight line and keep together now, children.
Skullduggery flew overhead, like a black harbinger of doom.
Once in the hall, they all separated to sit with their Housemates, and Severus walked up to the staff table.
All the professors were already there, and when everyone was seated, Dumbledore banged on his goblet and stood. "Attention, ladies and gentlemen! I have an important announcement to make. The memorial service for Professor Quirrell will be held at dusk today on the lawn and you are all invited to attend. There is another announcement I shall make when supper is ended." He waved his wand and food appeared on all the tables. Then he sat down and began to eat his pork chops with apples.
More muttering rose around the hall as everyone was talking about Quirrell's death again. Some of the students were rather upset, while others were indifferent, and a few were openly scornful.
Harry concentrated on eating, even though he wasn't very hungry after eating the snacks Prissy had brought. Still, he made himself eat half of the roast beef, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.
After the sweet course, Dumbledore rose to his feet and addressed the students again. "Attention, everyone! I'm afraid I have some sad news to deliver. In two days time, Hogwarts will be closing due to an unprecedented incident that occurred last night. It was brought to my attention by our assistant librarian, Lena Rosario, that the castle has been invaded by a dangerous creature. In order to ensure your safety, I have decided to close the school for a time, sending you home to your families until this creature has been subdued. I regret this course of action is necessary, but I can take no chances with your well being. The train will arrive at Hogsmeade in two days. Until then your classes have been cancelled, as it no longer safe for you to roam the halls. I ask that after you attend the service for Professor Quirrell, you all return immediately to your dormitories and remain there until further notice. Your common rooms have been spelled to repel this creature and you are safe there until you go back home. Please do not attempt to leave your common rooms unless you are accompanied by a professor, for any reason. Or else you might well die a horrible death. That is all."
The Headmaster resumed his seat.
The hall erupted with shocked whispers and murmurs.
"What kind of creature is dangerous enough to make the school close?"
"Maybe it's the one locked down in the Chamber of Secrets."
"I think this creature was what offed Quirrell."
"But he died of natural causes."
"Yeah, like being scared to death. That's a natural cause."
"I wonder if our parents know?"
"Mine are away in France. What do I do?"
"Have a party, dolt!"
"I'm scared. I want to go home now."
"It's probably a load of dung. You know how Dumbledore exaggerates."
Harry winced at all the noise. It was starting to give him a headache. He had forgotten how loud the students could get when they were all talking at once. He supposed that if the school were closing, he would go with Severus to his home, wherever that was. But then he thought of something else. Who was going to fight the revenant? How did you even kill one?
He looked at Ron. "Are you going to the service?"
Ron shrugged. "Are you?"
"Yeah. I didn't really care for Quirrell as a teacher, but I should pay my respects. Uncle Severus would make me anyhow."
Ron winced. "I feel sorry for you sometimes, Harry."
"Why? Severus is a good guardian, Ron."
"But he has so many rules! I'll bet he has a rule about going to sleep."
Harry snorted. "He thinks I need more of it, but he hasn't given me a bedtime, if that's what you're getting at."
"Whatever you say, Harry. I guess I'll go to the service," Ron sighed.
"I think everyone should go," Hermione stated. "No matter what you think of Quirrell as a professor, he's dead now, and deserves a proper memorial."
"I agree. It'd be terrible if no one went," Neville said.
"Well, we're all going, so don't worry about it," Ron frowned. Gripe though he did about the Defense professor, the youngest Weasley son would not have dared not to attend. Molly would have had a conniption at his lack of respect, and he knew better.
Everyone was still discussing the closing of Hogwarts when they filed out of the hall and through the double doors. Or most of the students did, Harry amended. Some chose not to attend and they made their way to their common rooms, to pack or contact their parents, though most of them knew already about Hogwarts closing.
The students attending the memorial gathered in a circle on the lawn. Dumbledore and Minerva spoke the eulogy, saying what a shame it was that Quirrell had been taken from them so suddenly. Dumbledore explained that this service was meant to honor the late professor and there would be no viewing for the body had been cremated.
That piece of information caused another stir, as the students speculated why that would be so.
"Maybe he died of a deadly disease, like the plague."
"Don't be an idiot, Thomasina. The plague's been wiped out."
"I think he was possessed. Don't they burn possessed people to keep them from rising from the dead?"
"That's vampires, idiot!"
"What if Quirrell was a vampire?"
"Yeah, right! If he was, he was the sorriest vampire ever."
Speculation and rumor swirled about like hornets, and Harry remained still, knowing all of them were wrong. He alone knew the truth, and it sent shivers down his spine. The memorial service lasted for about half an hour, and all the professors came up and said something kind about their lost colleague.
When it was Snape's turn, he said, "Quirinius might not have been the most courageous man, but he tried hard and was good in defeating mountain trolls."
"And he was a great orator!" Skull added impudently.
That sent the students and even the professors into gales of laughter.
Severus was furious. "Skull, one of these days I'm going to hex your beak shut!"
"Aww, c'mon, Sev! Knock 'em dead with laughter is my motto."
Severus gave the raven a death glare. "You're incorrigible!"
"That's my middle name, don't wear it out."
"Someone ought to wear you out, all right. With a willow switch."
Skull pretended to sniffle and whimper like a small child. "You're mean! I'm reporting you to the Society. Then you'll be sorry! They'll take away your membership."
"Humph! You're not fooling anyone with that drama queen act." Severus snorted, reaching up a hand to scratch the mischievous bird on the chest.
"Oooh! That feels good, Sevvy! More please! I forgive you." The raven leaned into the Potion Master's hand.
The service ended soon after that, and the professors escorted all the students there back to their common rooms.
Harry hesitated, unsure whether he should go with the other Gryffindors or with Severus. Then Skull called, "Bran- boy, come on. It won't do to keep his Royal Snarkiness waiting, he's in a pet today."
Harry hid a snicker behind his hand.
Severus sighed. "Harry, a word with you. And ignore the talking quill stand on my shoulder, he's in rare form today."
Harry grinned, the familiar banter was soothing to him. "What did you want to talk to me about, sir?" he asked, falling into step beside his guardian.
"When you all leave the school, I will be sending you to the Burrow with Ronald. I feel it is better if you stay there than alone at my house."
"But . . . where will you be?"
"Here, helping the Headmaster and the other professors hunt down the creature. It will need careful planning and skill to find it and take it down."
"How can you kill it?"
Severus held up a hand, then continued walking towards his quarters. Once they were behind the closed door, the Potions Master answered Harry's question. "It's very difficult, and there is no permanent way to destroy a revenant, save one. Otherwise the best one can do is banishment for a period of time."
"It's said that in order to fully destroy the spirit, you must fight and kill it in the Place Between Worlds. And to do that you have to be able to Travel there. Or know one who can."
"Yes. Which is why he is staying with me."
Harry suddenly felt afraid for his guardian and for the sassy familiar. "Be careful, Uncle Sev. Don't let it get the jump on you."
"I shall try my best not to," Severus said, sounding more confident than he felt.
"Me too, bran-boy. Fear not, I shall return!" Skull promised, hopping onto Harry's shoulder and nuzzling him.
Severus put an arm about his ward and hugged him. "Enjoy your time at the Burrow, Harry and don't worry about me. I have survived much worse and lived to tell the tale."
Harry tried to think positively, but still, there was a strange foreboding in the back of his mind and he had a feeling that all would not go well. The revenant was an opponent unlike any other and Harry was afraid that not even Severus and Skullduggery could stand against it.
The clock in the Great Hall struck midnight. A shadow detached itself from the mass of them clustered along the wall and glided along, cold, dark, and hungry. It could smell the warm bodies that had passed down the corridor earlier and it hissed and thought about consuming them.
But it could not find where they had gone, and when it trailed the scent to a locked door, it tried to pass through.
But the runes hidden along the frame flared to life, and repulsed the dark creature violently enough to send it flying down the stairs. Burned and aching, it hissed in frustration. The runes would not let it pass! They were too strong for it to break. It knew the children were behind the door, the scent of magic was strong in the air. But it could not reach them.
It traveled unseen about the castle and tried to get to the others behind locked doors to no avail. It would get no food here tonight, and it threw back its head and wailed, a high twisted sound that froze the ones who heard it into statues. Angrily, it descended back down through the floor and into the catacombs. It would have to wait, and so it would do so. It did not mind the waiting, for the dead care nothing for time. All that mattered was the ones who crossed it be killed, by whatever means necessary.
A/N: Finally back to writing this after two months or so. I had this on hiatus since my mom passed away, as I didn't feel like doing much writing after she was gone. Hope you like what occurred here. Thanks for being so patient. I will try and update as soon as I can.
Trivia question: Who can name the first tune Skull was singing to Harry & co? Bonus points for naming the artist too!