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Chapter 7 : The First Challenge
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The First Challenge
Autumn came to an end and winter was making its presence known, classes had become harder. Healer training was more advanced and everyone had a secret or two after the legendary room of requirement party that happened last week – even Hermione had been persuaded to let loose and have fun – though no one could work out who her mystery man was (and she wasn’t telling!!).
The turn of seasons bought the arrival of the next challenge set by Professor Shepard. He’d told the vast number of people to ‘expect the unexpected’ which Hermione thought was a bit vague. She didn’t like not knowing what to expect, it was to reminiscent of the war time but Professor Shepard was the teacher and in his classroom his word was law.
Professor Shepard stood at the head of the class looking all stern and important.
‘Right everyone, listen up!’ shouted the Professor, ‘You’ve all had a practise session, now this is the real thing. Two hours, twelve tasks per person, ten minutes to a task, you won’t past the task you get stuck in the room, till the end of the challenge’. The door beyond them opened leaving a spacious hole of darkness. Timidly the students stepped forward, Hermione spared a quick glance in the direction of Lavender, Luna and the others before she descended into the darkness and chose a room.
The room lit up as she entered, it gave no inclination of what was supposed to be done. There was a barrel on the other side of the room but there was no instruction of what to do. Hermione tried to walk forward but was stopped by an invisible barrier, looking down she saw a while line that she was unable to cross. Her mind began to go through all the possible options, all the while conscious of the countdown. Then it came to her, ‘Agumenti’ she shouted pointing her want at the moving barrel. It took some time (and lots of spilt water) but eventually the barrel was full, the clock stopped, the door opened and Hermione was able to move on.
The second room looked equally confusing at first glance, there was a seesaw balanced on top of a large crystal. Besides the seesaw was a collection of potions of varying sizes and levels of danger. This room seemed easier, a simple balancing task but she’d have to be careful not to spill anything – especially the harmful ones. Hermione was beginning to thank the stars she possessed good logical skills, for once again she’d beaten the time and made it to the third room. A part of Hermione was enjoying herself while another part was on high alert for any possible dangers.
The third room seemed quite difficult; there was a set of interlocking and overlapping wires that on first glance looked harmless but looks could be deceiving. Hermione reached out to touch the wire then pulled back hissing in pain – yeah definitely not harmless, they packed a punch! She understood now, she had to make her way through the electrified wires to the other side. It was not a pleasant experience; Hermione was flexible but not that much. By the time she reached the other side she was almost out of time and had suffered many small electrical shocks.
As she passed through the doors, Hermione wished she had time to rest but she was under a time limit, having completed three challenges she still had nine left to do. She wondered how the others were fairing all the while wishing she was anywhere but here – if she didn’t need the grade she most certainly wouldn’t be here voluntarily.
The next room contained a square glass maze and nothing else. Hermione moved towards the maze and noticed there was a ball in one corner and a hole in the other. She immediately tried to move the maze this way and that, thinking of every spell she could before realising that she should be trying to move the ball not the maze itself. This proved to be more difficult than she though as the only spell it would let her use was ‘wingardium leviosa’. It took a lot of concentration and effort to get the ball all the way to the other side and into the hole. It was sheer luck that Hermione made it into the next room with only a minute to spare.
The next room actually seemed more related to magic. There were a group of magical plants on a table in the centre. Behind the main table were three smaller tables with signs, they read: Noise, Dangerous, wands. There was also a pair of gloves for protection, putting her wand back in her pocket, Hermione set about studying the plants and grouping them separately. On the noise table she placed: the mandrake, the honking daffodil and the screech snaps. On the dangerous table she – donned the gloves first – then slowly and carefully placed the venomous tentacular down, the snargaluff, the puffapod, the fire seed, the sneezewort, the devil snare, belladonna, bubotuber, nightshade and a picture of a whomping willow.
Lastly on the last table she placed the pieces of holly, hawthorn, yew, vine, cherry and ash. Finally she was through and with plenty of time to spare. Five challenges down seven to go, Hermione was amazed at the merging of muggle and wizard ideas. She hazarded a guess that those without much muggle knowledge wouldn’t be fairing that well.
When Hermione moved into room number six, she felt sure that this was a totally muggle challenge. There was a grandfather clock in the corner counting down the time limit for her and on the opposite wall there was a series of allan bolts tightened in the wall. Besides them was an allan key. Clearly the objective was to unscrew the allan bolts before the time ran out. It was an easy task for Hermione but would have stumped most wizards.
Room seven looked harder, unless faced with Malfoy or a serious threat Hermione’s aim wasn’t that great. Looking at the great target board Hermione sighed, picked up the archery bow and took aim. The result was appalling. Hermione was terrible, after seven failed attempts Hermione was getting desperate. Then just when she’d abandoned all hope, one of her arrows hit the target and the door opened, Hermione stared open mouthed in shock. She thought she’d have to get a bulls eye to proceed. If she’d had known that all you had to do was hit the target, she wouldn’t have been half so worried.
However, when she stepped into room eight, she wished she’d failed in room seven. Situated in the middle of the room was a larger round black bomb. It was beeping at her almost mockingly. Though her knowledge as a muggle had helped her this far, she had no idea what to do here. Which wire did she cut? Red, blue or green? She was really panicking now, the time was slowly ticking down and she had no clue what to do.
Then, she heard something, almost thought she hadn’t heard anything at all but it had been clear and distinct. Throwing caution the wind she followed the advice and cut the blue wire. Three agonizing seconds later the bomb stopped ticking and the door opened. Part of Hermione wanted to stop and think on what she heard and who had helped her but the other part just wanted to get out as soon as possible. The latter won out and she hurried into room nine.
It seemed someone had tapped into things that Hermione feared for this room was pitch black, complete darkness now surrounded her, she tried to cast lumos but it only lasted a couple of seconds like something was stopping it. She knew the object of the game was to reach the door through the darkness but she was scared. Not of the darkness but of what could hide within it. Cautiously she made her way through the room, stopping occasionally to cast lumos and then trying to remember where was safe to walk. She only bumped into something twice and when she finally found the door only had a bruised head and knee to show for it. Thankfully there were only three.
Hermione was beginning to think that Professor Shepard had an obsession with muggle game show ideas and she really hoped the obsession didn’t stem from her being a muggle. That wasn’t her being arrogant it was just how things looked based on his behaviour. Room ten had the potential to be dangerous. In the centre there was a long beam that started in front of Hermione and ended at the door on the other side. The beam was surrounded by a pool of water. The beam itself looked slippery like it had been rubbed with soap and water. The first thing Hermione did was take off her shoes and socks shrink them and put them in her pocket. She then climbed onto the beam. It took her a while to get her balance, the beam was far more slippery than she imagined. She walked slowly pigeon toeing one foot in front of the other till she reached the other side. She didn’t bother putting her shoes and socks back on because her feet were still wet. She entered room eleven safe in the knowledge that this would be over soon.
She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw what room eleven contained. Finally she was back to a magical challenge – a potions one to be exact. There were a fair few potions sitting on a large table, with two smaller tables on either side. It was clearly another sorting challenge, like the Herbology one. One table read: potentially fatal while the other read: mostly safe.
It was quick work sorting all the potions. On the potentially fatal table, she placed: amortentia, polyjuice, noxious potion, herbicide potion, garrotting gas, fungiface, and drink of despair, draught of living death, dragon poison, death-cap draught and bloodroot potion.
While on the mostly safe table she placed: essence of dittany, common poison antidote, uncommon poison antidote, veritaserum antidote, blood –replenishing potion, bruise paste, burn-healing paste, calming draught, dragon tonic, draught of peace, dreamless sleep potion, pepperup potion, mandrake restorative potion, revive potion, skele gro and wolfsbane.
It was a challenge Hermione had actually enjoyed. It was as closely related to healer training that she thought she’d get in the challenges, with only one challenge to go she was exhausted!!
Room twelve looked decisively muggle or at least something a mad idiot would think of. There was a moving platform with three large pieces of white wall that had holes in them. When Hermione stepped onto the platform the walls started to move towards her, she panicked and stepped off. The walls stopped moving. Hermione wasted four minutes just standing there trying to work it out before she understood.
Once she understood she thought it was blindingly obvious. She had to position herself so that her body could pass through the holes without touching the walls. It was difficult to achieve and Hermione could feel her heart thumping loudly. She was not a quitter through and in a very determined Hermione like fashion she willed herself to succeed – which she did!
It was with upmost relief that Hermione opened the door and found herself back in the classroom. She sat down very quickly her arms and legs having gone all jelloyed. Not two seconds after Hermione got back Luna returned and made a beeline for Hermione, crushing her in a hug and shook occasionally. Hermione – though surprised – wrapped her arms around Luna and stroked her hair.
After Luna came Malfoy, Lavender, Blaise and Adrian appeared before there was a lull of about twenty minutes. After that people began trickling in. In all that time Hermione noticed that some people were missing, the girl with the blonde hair, the boy with the lazy eye and the girl with bad acne. No one else seemed to have noticed this fact and Hermione had little time to ponder the fact as Professor Shepard and Headmistress McGonagall appeared.
‘If I could have everyone’s attention’ said Professor Shepard waiting for everyone to quiet down, ‘Thank you’ he added when silence reigned.
‘You all did exceedingly well today. I know some of the challenges you faced today were unexpected but you know that’s life. Both Headmistress McGonagall and I were impressed with the level of skill witnessed today. Now I know all of you are wanting to head off so I’ll make this quick’ he paused, ‘the winners of the challenge are; in third place Draco Malfoy of Slytherin, in second place, Luna Lovegood of Ravenclaw and in first place Hermione Granger of Gryffindor’.
‘House points have been awarded directly’ said McGonagall. ‘You may go’.
AN: good or bad? ~Zyii
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