Chapter 5 : The Trapdoor
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Chapter Five: The Trapdoor
“What’s a trapdoor doing underneath Penny’s bed?” Kat hissed.
“Oh, I dunno Kat, maybe it’s on summer holiday,” I said sarcastically, clambering off my bed to have a better look.
“You’re hilarious, little sister.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” I said under my breath.
Penny, completely ignoring our usual bickering, was examining the trapdoor with round blue eyes. The trapdoor, made from dark wood, looked very out of place between all the grey stone. It had no handle, no latch – as far as I could see, no discernible way of opening it. I immediately found myself wondering what was underneath it – why it was there. And then I wondered if anyone had found it before.
But…if they had, they would have told someone, wouldn’t they? Unless whatever was under it wasn’t very interesting.
“How long do you reckon it’s been there?” Kat asked, as Penny ran her hand gently over the dark wood.
“No idea,” Penny murmured. “A while, I’d say, judging by the state of that carpet. Although that could’ve gathered over the holidays, I guess.”
We all sat in silence, just staring at that trapdoor, thinking. It was a very odd, very random thing to find. Then again, odd things were inevitable at Hogwarts.
When I couldn’t stand the silence anymore, I burst out; “Well, aren’t we going to try and open it then?”
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” Penny said at once. “There could be something dangerous down there – it could be a trap.”
“Oh, don’t be so cautious, Penny,” Kat said and, before either Penny and I could react, she’d grabbed her wand from inside of her robes, pointed it at the trapdoor and said “Alohomora!” in a very firm voice.
Penny let out an automatic shriek and backed away and even I flinched back a little…but nothing happened. The trapdoor stayed closed.
Kat looked disgruntled. “Well, that was a bit of a let-down,” she said, pocketing her wand.
“There must be another way to open it,” I said. “It can’t just be there for no reason.”
“Sure it could,” Kat said. “There’s that door on the fifth floor that doesn’t open, remember? We tried to get into it in our first year, thinking that it was a shortcut to Transfiguration. But then Helena found us and told us it didn’t go anywhere.”
“That’s true,” I murmured, although I was privately hoping this trapdoor did go somewhere – I was getting rather excited about the prospect of an adventure. Maybe it went to a secret room full of treasure. Or maybe only the Heir of Ravenclaw could open it – like the Chamber of Secrets, except without the evil basilisk and general unpleasantness.
“Shhh!” said Penny suddenly. She was now holding her wand in her hand, waving it slowly over the trapdoor and muttering under her breath.
“Erm…Penny?” Kat said. “Care to share what exactly it is you’re doing?”
“Specialis Revelio. Making sure the trapdoor’s safe before we work out how to open it,” Penny said in a sensible sort of tone. “I don’t know about you two, but I don’t particularly want to be attacked in my own dormitory. Homenum Revelio,” she whispered.
Kat raised her eyebrows. “Was that supposed to do something?”
“No,” Penny said, getting to her feet. “At least, I hoped not. There are no human’s down there – no live ones anyway – that’s for sure. I’m also fairly certain we won’t get attacked when we open the door.”
“If we can open the door,” I reminded her.
There was suddenly the sound of quiet voices and footsteps coming up the stairs – Annie and Poppy. I looked at Penny. “Are we going to share what we’ve found with Annie and Poppy?” I asked.
Penny bit her lip, looking uncertain. Kat, on the other hand, snorted loudly and said; “Of course we’re not! Annie and Poppy are nice and all, but they’re awfully dull. And I feel like keeping this secret to ourselves.”
“Alright,” Penny said, nodding. “Quickly then, let’s cover this thing up.”
We hurriedly pulled the old rug back over the trapdoor and then pulled Penny’s bed back over that. As the door opened and Poppy and Annie came through the door, we all leapt onto our beds and tried our best to look natural, like we hadn’t been up to anything suspicious – Kat whipped a magazine out front under her pillow and started to read it upside down.
“Hello, guys,” Poppy said as she looked around at us all. She frowned slightly at Kat. “Kat, why are you reading that magazine upside down?”
“Er…” said Kat, quickly turning it round the right way. “I was reading, an, um, poem. In a spiral shape.”
“Oh,” said Poppy, nodding as if that made complete sense.
As our two dorm mates went into the small bathroom that was attached to our dormitory to change into their pyjamas, Penny, Kat and I all gave each other excited, slightly nervous looks. I knew that my two friends were looking forward to getting into that trapdoor just as much as I was.
We told Angus about the trapdoor in Charms the next day. You could always talk freely in Charms without worrying about any eavesdroppers hearing you, as there was always so much activity going on around the classroom that everyone else was too preoccupied to listen. Today we were practising the Disillusionment Charm. Professor Flitwick had told us all that it was a difficult charm to master, but I found it relatively easy. Charms was probably my strongest subject.
“That does sound weird,” Angus admitted, when Kat had finished the story. “Although maybe one of last years seventh year girls just put it there to store her secret diary in or something.”
“Don’t be boring, Angus,” Kat said, giving her wand a lazy flick. The lizard she was charming instantly turned the colour of the desk it was sitting on and disappeared.
“I’m not being boring,” Angus frowned, looking slightly hurt. He flicked his wand and half of his lizard disappeared, having blended in with its surroundings. The other half remained perfectly visible and blinked up at Angus in an annoyed sort of way. “I’m being realistic.”
“Realistic, boring, same thing,” Kat muttered, giving her wand another flick. Her lizard reappeared and began scuttling across the desk to get away from her. Kat pointed her wand directly at its head and said; “Petrificus Totalus!” The lizard froze mid-scuttle.
“It won’t thank you for that,” I said.
“Its lucky lizards can’t talk then, isn’t it?”
“Didn’t you try any stronger spells than Alohomora?” Angus asked, giving another flick of his wand. The half of his lizard that was still visible turned a very vivid shade of purple. “Damn!” he muttered.
“You’re flourishing your wand too much,” Penny told him. “Try holding it stiller, and closer to the lizard’s head.”
“We didn’t use any spells stronger than Alohomora because we didn’t get time,” Kat said irritably. “Poppy and Annie came trundling in and we had to stop.”
“I wonder if there is anything behind that trapdoor,” Angus said thoughtfully. He waved his wand and his lizard went back to its original colour. “We learnt about old Wizarding architecture last year in History of Magic…”
“Wow, that sounds fascinating,” Kat muttered, as someone’s lizard went flying past us, its little arms and legs flailing pathetically – “We’re not banishing our lizards, Miss Tricklebank!” squeaked Flitwick from the other side of the classroom.
Angus ignored Kat. “Apparently old witches and wizards built all sorts of hidden rooms and chambers within their mansions and castles, to hide their darkest secrets from their enemies.”
“Well, we already know that, don’t we?” said Penny, successfully disillusioning her lizard. “Salazar Slytherin built the Chamber of Secrets, after all. Maybe Rowena did the same sort of thing?”
“It’s definitely possible,” Angus said. “I’m willing to bet Rowena kept her secrets a lot better than Salazar. Maybe she did build her own chamber or something, but no-one ever found out about it.”
“But why would she build it in the middle of a dormitory?” I asked. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
“It does, actually,” Penny said, charming her lizard back to normal and turning to look at the three of us properly. “We all know Rowena was the smartest of the Hogwarts founders. If the other three were looking for some sort of hidden place, they wouldn’t think to look somewhere as simple as a dormitory. And anyway,” she turned back to her lizard. “If Rowena was hiding something from Godric and Salazar, they couldn’t have gotten into a girl’s dormitory – boys aren’t allowed.”
“Quite enough chatter over here, you four!” Professor Flitwick piped up suddenly, tottering over to us. “Mr McCullough, let’s see how you’re progressing with the Disillusionment Charm.” Angus gave him a blank sort of look. “Off you go then!”
“Oh!” said Angus. “Right.” He looked at his lizard and flicked his wand. Absolutely nothing happened. Angus went a strong shade of pink.
“That needs a lot of work, young man,” said Flitwick.
“Yes, sir,” said Angus.
“I suggest you take some tips from Penelope,” he continued, and Penny positively beamed.
He walked off to observe Radley and Beckett who were sitting near the other side of the classroom.
Angus turned back to us. “We have no choice,” he said. “We have to find a way to get into that trapdoor. The not knowing will drive us mad otherwise!”
“Hear hear,” Kat and I chorused.
“The problem,” Penny said, once again flicking her wand at her lizard. “Is finding the time to do it, without being disturbed.”
We got our chance the very next week. Poppy and Annie both had Muggle Studies while Kat, Penny, Angus and I all had a free period.
“I don’t think I’m going to be of much use,” Angus said, as we hurried up the spiral staircase that led to the girl’s dormitory. “I can’t get in, remember?”
“Nonsense,” said Penny briskly, brushing her curly blonde hair out of her eyes. Today she was wearing a blue ribbon, tied into a bow in her hair. It had been charmed to match the collar of her Ravenclaw robes. “Of course you can.”
“No he can’t,” Kat said. “Boys aren’t allowed.”
Penny sighed and turned around to look at the three of us, just as she reached the door leading to our dormitory. “You three are hopeless,” she said. “Surely you’ve all read Hogwarts: A History?”
“Of course we have,” I said. “But unlike you, Penny, we haven’t memorized every single page. We don’t all have photographic memories.”
“Hogwarts: A History clearly states that the castle can change and develop to suit the seeker’s needs,” she explained patiently.
“Your point?” Kat asked, examining her nails. She’d painted them bright pink during Transfiguration. Unfortunately, Professor McGonagall had caught her and had not been impressed – Kat had been given a detention. Tonight she would be helping Hagrid, the gamekeeper and newly installed Care of Magical Creatures teacher with the pumpkins he was preparing for Halloween. Kat was very annoyed about this (I’ll get dirt all under my fingernails!” she said. “I hate gardening!”)
“My point,” Penny said. “Is that if we want Angus to come into our dormitory, he’ll be able to get in.”
“That makes sense,” Kat admitted. “I suppose the castle can realise, just by looking at Angus, that he’s not the type of guy whose sole purpose is to get into our pants.”
“I know that wasn’t meant as one, but I’ll take it as a compliment,” Angus said brightly.
Sure enough, Penny was right – when was she ever not? Kat, Penny and I all stepped into our dormitory, all thinking in our minds that we wanted Angus to come in to help us out. And, after taking a tentative and very nervous step forward, Angus was allowed in. The stairs didn’t turn into a slide as they had when Jack Connor had attempted to get in to see Kat last year.
“Wow,” said Angus eagerly, looking around the room. “You girls sure are messy, aren’t you?”
Kat snorted. “Because you guys are totally complete clean freaks, aren’t you?”
“Well, we do have Book Boy in our dormitory,” Angus said fairly. “And he gets panic attacks when things aren’t organised enough for him.”
Book Boy’s real name was something extremely boring like David Jones. He was an odd looking kid – he had curly ginger hair, wore very big, thick glasses and had an extremely large nose. I don’t think I’d ever heard him talk before. He carried around a book with him at all times (hence the nickname ‘Book Boy’) and was most commonly found in his natural habitat, the library. Kat had played a very mean joke on him in our fifth year – she’d enchanted several books to bounce off the back of his skull all day. Book Boy wasn’t her biggest fan because of it.
“Enough chatter,” Penny said. “Help me with the bed.”
Together we repeated our steps from the previous week: shifting the bed and rug (which was a little quicker with Angus’s help – not that he was particularly strong or anything) and revealing the trapdoor underneath.
“Wow,” said Angus for the second time, crouching down and observing it closely. “Wow, it’s really here?”
“What, did you think we were lying or something?” Kat said irritably.
Angus ran his hand over the surface of the trapdoor, just as Penny had done the previous week. He took his wand out from his pocket and tapped the trapdoor several times with it, muttering words I couldn’t quite make out under his breath. “Curious,” he said finally. “Yes…that’s very strange.”
“Would you care to explain to us what you’re talking about?” Kat snapped.
“It’s made by magic,” Angus said. “And has no visible way of opening it. I think a witch or wizard made this trapdoor…”
“Well, obviously,” Kat said, now sounding very impatient. “We’re at Hogwarts, Angus. Now can we hurry up and figure out how to open it, please.”
“You don’t understand,” Angus said. “In History of Magic…”
“Here we go,” Kat muttered to Penny and I. “This is why he has no guy friends.” Both Penny and I glared at her. Though not a cruel or unkind person, Kat had a bit of a habit of looking down upon people and being very criticising. It was one of the reasons she got on my nerves so often.
Angus ignored her. “In History of Magic we learnt that Hogwarts, for a brief time during the Witch Burnings, was attacked by a group of muggles hunting down the witches – this was when the castle’s protection was at its weakest, obviously. The Muggle repelling charms had filtered away until there was nothing left. This trapdoor looks like the type that was designed during that time to keep muggles and non-magic users out.”
“Thanks for enlightening us,” Kat said sarcastically. “But do you actually have an idea of how to open the trapdoor.”
“I might have an idea,” Penny said, stepping forward and holding her wand in her hand. “It’s a lesser known spell than Alohomora, and tends to open more specific objects.” She cleared her throat, pointed her wand directly at the trapdoor and said; “Dissendium!” Nothing happened. “Damn,” Penny muttered.
We spent the next twenty minutes trying every opening spell we could thing of on the trapdoor, but to no avail. We got so desperate that we even started trying spells like “Reducto” and “Incendio”. All this did, however, was cause the sleeve of Penny’s robes to catch on fire. Angus had to put out the flames with his wand.
“I’m beginning to feel we’re wasting our time here,’ Penny said finally, flopping down onto her bed and looking most put out. “I really don’t think there’s anything down there. And if there is, it doesn’t want to be found.”
I personally agreed with her. But all the same, I was disappointed.
“Hang on!” said Angus suddenly. He was sitting cross-legged next to the trapdoor, frowning at it intently under his mop of blonde hair. “Come and look at this.”
Kat, Penny and I all crowded around Angus and looked at what he was pointing at. Engraved in letters so small they were almost impossible to read, squeezed into the very corner of the trapdoor were the words ‘Rowena Ravenclaw’. The four of us looked around at each other with renewed excitement.
“What’s that doing there?” Kat wondered. “Do you think it means anything?”
“It must do,” I said. “Otherwise why would it be there?”
“Rowena Ravenclaw!” Penny suddenly said, very loudly. Kat, Angus and I all turned to look at her in a bemused sort of way. Penny’s pale cheeks went a little pink. “I thought maybe it was a password,” she said.
“You know, that’s an idea,” Angus said thoughtfully. “Rowena Ravenclaw might not be the password but maybe there is a password used to open it.”
Kat threw her hands up in the air in exasperation. “Bloody brilliant!” she said. “How on earth are we going to figure that out?” I privately agreed with her. We might be Ravenclaws, but there was no way we were that smart.
“What if the words ‘Rowena Ravenclaw’ were a clue,” Angus said, still sounding very thoughtful. “What if the password has something to do with her?”
We all began thinking of things to do with Rowena Ravenclaw at once. We didn’t know an awful lot about her, as she had lived such a long time ago although we knew that she had a daughter, Helena, who was now the ghost of Ravenclaw tower.
“I guess we could always ask her for her help,” Penny said. “I’m sure she’d know more about her mother than we do.”
“No way,” Kat said. “The Grey Lady is a haughty bitch if you ask me. No way I’m asking her anything.”
And so we continued thinking. We knew that Rowena was from Scotland. We knew that she had a diadem which supposedly increased the intelligence of the wearer. We knew that she was one of the four founders of Hogwarts and that she was close friends with Helga Hufflepuff. We were fairly certain that she’d once had a bit of a thing with Salazar Slytherin, although we’d never been able to prove the truth of that story.
“Hang on,” said Angus suddenly. “Go back to Rowena’s diadem. What were the words written on it again?”
“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure,” Kat, Penny and I all chorused. Instinctively I glanced at the trapdoor. My eyes widened. To my great surprise, there was a suddenly loud CLUNK. The trapdoor had opened.
We all stared at each other, lost for words.
“Was that…it?” Kat said finally. “I was expecting it to be something a little more complicated than that.”
“Be glad it’s not,” Penny said, and I could see the excitement bubbling out of her; her blue eyes glowing. “Or we’d have been here for hours.”
Kat huffed. “It was just a little bit of an anti-climax, if you know what I mean. If our life was a book, everyone would think the writer had no imagination!”
“Come on,” I said. “Let’s see what’s inside.”
Now that we’d managed to open the trapdoor, I was feeling a lot more nervous before. As we pushed open the door, which was very heavy, I felt my stomach twist uncertainly, as though it were tying itself into very complicated knots. What if Penny was right and there was something dangerous down there? What if it was something we really didn’t want to find?
Beneath the trapdoor was a dark tunnel that went straight down. We all lit the ends of our wands and peered down into it. A rusty old ladder was attached to one side of the stone wall. It looked as though it had not been used in a long time and had several missing rungs. When I reached out a hand to see how secure it was, it shook violently. The sound echoed all the way down the tunnel. Whatever was at the bottom of it…it was a very long way down.
Kat gulped nervously. “That ladder doesn’t look very secure,” she said. “Maybe this isn’t a good idea.”
“Don’t be a wuss, Kat,” I said impatiently, sounding a lot more certain than I felt. “It’s just an old ladder. You’re just worried you’re going to break a nail.”
“I am not!”
Penny glanced anxiously at her watch. “We have less than an hour before the end of Muggle Studies,” she said. “If we’re going down, we have to do it now.”
The four of us looked around at each other. Silently, we worked it out. It was decided: we were going down. And for some reason, I volunteered to go first.
“Be careful,” Penny said a very worried tone. “I’ll come right after you, okay?”
“Got it,” I said grimly, gritting my teeth. “Lumos Maxima.” As the light at the end of my wand flared up, I stuck in the pocket of my robes so that my hands were free for climbing. Then trying to ignore the fact that I was shivering like a fragile leaf about to fall off it’s branch, I climbed onto the ladder.
It quivered wildly under my weight but, to my immense relief, did not fall of the wall. Inhaling deeply, I slowly began to climb down.
The further I climbed, the colder it seemed to get. Penny climbed onto the ladder after me and then Angus after her. Kat was the last to get on the ladder – as she did so, the ladder creaked and moaned in protest but again, nothing happened.
“It must be enchanted!” Angus shouted from above me. “To hold our weight!”
“Shut up Angus!” Kat said loudly. “I feel like I’m about to vomit!”
It felt as though I had been climbing for hours and hours on end when I finally reached the bottom. As my feet hit solid ground I climbed from the ladder, still shaking slightly and sweating. As I waited for my friends to catch up with my, I moved away from the ladder and cast my wand light all around me. I was standing in a very small area with thick, dark walls that were slightly damp. There was a single door, set into the wall in front of me. There was writing on it but, even in the full light of my wand, I couldn’t read it – it was in a different language. Latin, perhaps.
At long last, the rest of my friends reached the bottom. Kat shivered, and wrapped her arms around herself. “I don’t like this,” she said. “I don’t like this at all.”
“Maybe we should just go back up?” Penny suggested timidly. I turned around and saw that both girl’s faces were pale white and petrified looking. Angus was also pale, although that was probably just his natural complexion, looking almost ghostly in this light.
“Are you kidding?” I said. “We did not come all the way down here for nothing. We are going through that door, even if it kills us.”
“Great,” Kat muttered. “Really comforting, thanks Dani. Well, you can go first in case a giant Chimaera jumps out at you or something.”
“Alohomora,” I said, pointing my wand at the door. With a very loud and painful creak, it swung open. Walking slowly, my footsteps echoing dimly on the cold, stone ground, I tip toed forwards. Kat, Penny and Angus followed, forming a sort of triangle. Their wands were all drawn, just in case.
Lights suddenly flickered, and there was a great whooshing sound. Kat let out a gasp. The lanterns that were hung on the walls around us had suddenly flared to life, and were glowing bright blue. We were standing in another room. It was completely bare apart from an empty picture frame hanging from one of the walls. There were no doors, other than the one we'd come through.
Kat frowned. She was holding her wand just above her chin. The light was casting strange angles on her face, making her look quite sinister. “Is this it?” she said. “We climbed all the way down that stinking ladder for this?”
Penny went marching across the room, covering every inch of the floor. I knew immediately what she was doing – searching for another trapdoor. But there wasn’t one. There was nothing. I was feeling extremely disappointed. And I wasn’t the only one. “I was so sure there was going to be something down here!” Penny said. “I thought…I thought we were going to solve one of Hogwart’ greatest mysteries or something. It sounds silly, but…” She paused, looking a little embarrassed.
“But what?” Kat demanded. She didn’t seem scared at all now that it had been revealed there was nothing down here at all. Nothing but a bare, boring room.
Penny had gone a bit pink again. She pushed her hair behind her ears. “I was imagining Professor Dumbledore congratulating us in front of the whole school,” she said. “And giving us so many points that we secured the House Cup for Ravenclaw. I know it sounds stupid…”
“No, it doesn’t,” Angus said firmly. “It just seems…unfair, somehow. That little third years like Harry Potter and that red haired friend of his…”
“Ron Weasley,” Penny said. “He’s Percy’s little brother.”
“Yes, him. It seems unfair that a couple of third years get to have all these adventures while we’re stuck doing homework and going to classes.”
“What are you doing, Dani?” Kat suddenly asked sharply. Angus and Penny paused their conversation and both turned to look at me. I had been slowly walking across the room, towards the empty picture frame.
“I…I just wanted to check the frame,” I said. “Just in case.”
“There’s nothing there, little sister,” Kat said, rolling her eyes. “Can we just go back up to the dormitory please? I’ve got the creepy crawlies – and I am in desperate need of a shower. Have you seen the state of my hair?”
But I ignored her, and kept walking towards the picture frame. There was something funny about it, I was sure of it. It just didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the empty room.
“Dani,” said Penny firmly. “Dani, come on, let’s go.”
I carefully put my hand into the frame…and closed my fingers around something narrow. Something narrow, and very cold. With a faint gasp, I pulled the object I’d discovered out from the frame. It was a mirror. Very plain, with a silver handle. There were rough etchings around the rim. They looked as though they might be Ancient Runes.
“Dani,” said Kat sharply. “Dani, what are you doing? Did you find something?”
For some reason, I found myself sliding the mirror into the inside pocket of my robes. “No,” I lied, my mouth forming the words before I could register what I was saying. “No, I didn’t find anything. Let’s get out of here. This was all a big waste of time.”
I didn’t quite know why I wasn’t telling my friends about the mirror. All I knew was that this was a secret I wanted to keep to myself.
I'm back! And so is Dani and her friends - sorry that this chapter took a little longer than usual, I had to go several days without internet which was VERY difficult for me. But anyway, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Has anyone got any predictions about this mirror or anything else? What about your favourite characters or quotes?
If there's anything you'd like to say, even if it's just to tell me what your favourite ice cream flavour is (mine is Half Baked, by the way) then leave a review in that little box down below - yay! Chapter Image by easterlies @ TDA.
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