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Chapter 18 : The Restricted Section
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“So, I got the decoy detonators,” Rose began, pointing to the odd horn-like things. “I also got some explosive fireworks, and I restocked on Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder for a quick getaway, and I got several dungbombs, and a few silent pellets-“
“-What are silent pellets?” Albus interrupted. He stared at the little balls in the package.
“They’re just little pellets that you eat, and then nobody can hear you within a certain radius. I got the 10-foot radius pellets, so that if David and Art get close enough, Mrs. Umbridge would hear and not Filch, but she might go running off to Filch anyway…”
“And then whenever she’s about to go after Filch, we levitate her,” David said smartly.
“Yes,” Rose muttered distractedly. “I just hope nothing will go wrong…”
“Everything will go alright,” Albus said, but he didn’t believe it himself. Mrs. Umbridge was stealthy and clever. If they got caught, they would be in terrible trouble… and it would all be Albus’s fault.
“Now, Albus,” Rose said. “If a single day comes around when you don’t have Quidditch practice, let me know, and we’ll go that night.” Albus nodded, deep in thought. It would be a long time until he didn’t have Quidditch practice.
Contrary to his previous thought, Albus didn’t have to wait very long. Just a few days later, Chris caught a small bout of stomach flu, and was confined within the hospital wing. Because of this, practice was not held. When Albus heard the news, he sprinted straight to the common room, where Rose was reading a novel.
“Rose!” Albus hissed, as he dashed into the couch in the common room where she was sitting.
“Mmm?” she asked, immersed in her book. Albus shook her shoulders, and she finally looked up.
“There isn’t any Quidditch practice today. We can go tonight.” Rose sat straight up, nearly knocking Albus over.
“Excellent! Let me go fetch some stuff. Meet me in your dormitory in five minutes.” She then dashed up the stairs to her own dormitory. Albus sat up and attempted to press his messy hair down flat. Ignoring the snickers from a few older students, Albus sat back down on the sofa. Art was sitting across from him, reading a book on gobstones, but David was nowhere in sight.
“Where’s David?” Albus asked him.
“He’s in the kitchens, stealing some fudge,” Art responded, without lifting his eyes from the page.
“Oh,” Albus said flatly. “Will he be back soon?” The moment Albus said this, the portrait swung open, and David came strolling in.
“It’s a miracle!” David cried out. “Albus is here!”
“David, sit down,” Albus muttered. Looking slightly confused, David sat. “I don’t have Quidditch practice today,” Albus continued. David’s eyes went huge.
“Does that mean we’re-“
“-Yes,” Albus interrupted. He didn’t want everyone else in the common room to know that they were doing something dodgy.
“Where’s Rose?” David asked, glancing around the common room.
“She’s getting everything ready,” Albus told him.
“Typical,” David grunted. “What do we do now?”
“Get some rest in preparation for tonight, I suppose,” Albus shrugged.
“Are you ready?” Rose’s voice echoed softly in the deserted common room. They had just gone over their plans again, and Albus was anxiously waiting. Now, finally, they were leaving.
Once they were ready to depart, the four of them crammed under the invisibility cloak. It was quite uncomfortable with four of them under it. Albus felt that he was going to trip on Art's feet.
The hallway had students coming up from dinner, so they pressed as close as possible to the wall. Luckily, by inching along the wall, they were able to move without bumping into anybody. They went at snail pace around each corridor, so that they wouldn't bump into others and they wouldn't trip over each other's feet. Finally, after about ten minutes, they arrived at the library.
The library was packed with students doing last-minute homework, or studying for a quiz. There were even a few kids already studying for their O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s. It would normally be impossible to slip into the restricted section. That is, if they didn't have an invisibility cloak.
The four of them slid underneath the rope, still under the cloak, and they went behind a bookshelf in the restricted section that could not be seen from the main library. Albus and Rose slipped out from the cloak. The two of them were no longer invisible, but nobody from the library could see them since they were hiding behind a bookshelf.
David and Art whispered a quick goodbye, and then they quickly departed underneath the cloak. Albus sighed. He would have liked having Art with them, but since both Rose and Albus wanted to search the library, Art agreed to go with David to avoid a row.
Albus and Rose sat down on the ground, and waited for night to fall. It quickly got boring, just sitting and doing nothing. Albus didn't even dare to whisper to Rose. They just sat in silence. Al looked at Rose, and she was twirling her hair nervously. Albus knew why. There was so much that could go wrong with their plan.
One by one, students began leaving the library. Finally, when there was only about five students left, Madam Pince went around, telling the students that they had to leave. Once they were all gone, Madam Pince came and put her protective charms around the restricted section, preventing anybody from coming in or out of the restricted section. Albus knew this already, and they had found a way around this, but he gulped nervously anyway.
Finally, Madam Pince turned off all of the torches, and the library was pitch black. Only one source of light remained: the yellow, gazing eyes of Mrs. Umbridge.
There was an eerie silence on the whole library. Albus could scarcely see anything, just the dimly lit torches in the corridor beyond the library. And, of course the bright yellow eyes, flickering every second. David and Art should be making their move soon.
There! He heard it. The tiny blare of a horn in the distance. Mrs. Umbridge jumped up and left her spot, searching for the source of the noise. Albus watched her long, dark shadow go out into the corridor. Decoy Detonators worked very well.
"Quick!" Rose hissed. "I don't know how long David and Art can distract her. Lumos!" A little bit of light shone from Rose's wand. Now that she was visible, Albus noticed that Rose was slightly pale.
"I'll start from the right side of the section, you start from the left," Rose told him. "Look at the spines for the title, but if you need to, you can take the book out to look at the title on the cover. Whatever you do, though, do not open any books. These books aren't regular library books, they're extremely dangerous."
Albus nodded, lit his own wand, and tiptoed past the shelves. Once he got to the very left of the restricted section, he lifted his wand up and examined the titles of the books on their spines. A few times he had to pull a book off the shelf, since the name wasn't on the spine, or it was too tattered.
Since the restricted section was smaller than the regular section of the library, only fifteen minutes passed until Albus heard Rose say, "Got it."
"Really?" Albus said, excited. He walked over to Rose and held his wand above the book. It was extremely old and beat up, and Albus could see potion stains on it. But in fancy, cursive gold lettering, it said, Dark Potions for the Dark Potioneer. It was obvious that the book had been beautiful and lavish once, but it was not now.
"Can we look for the potion?" Albus asked eagerly.
"No, let's wait until the morning, once we are back to the common room and David and Art are with us." Albus understood why Rose said this, but he couldn't help feeling a little annoyed. He wanted to look at it now. He wanted to see how complex it was, what ingredients were used, and he basically wanted to look at it. It was agony to have it right there, but not able to lean over and pull the pages open.
"Wait- I hear something," Rose whispered hurriedly. "Nox," she whispered, and Albus whispered the same thing. The light was extinguished from both of their wands.
A few moments later, a pair of yellow eyes entered the library. It was Mrs. Umbridge. Albus held his breath. The cat settled down right by the rope of the restricted section, and stared, unblinkingly, right at them.
Albus and Rose both froze all of their muscles. Albus stared defiantly back at Mrs. Umbridge. For a few minutes, the atmosphere in the room was very tense. Then finally, Mrs. Umbridge broke her gaze. Albus and Rose both let out a few shaky breaths. Al stood there for a few moments, and then Rose quickly nudged him. She dragged Albus behind a bookshelf, and quickly whispered to him.
"Where are David and Art?" she hissed. "I know we're done, but we finished a lot quicker than we had thought."
"How am I supposed to know?" Albus said irritably.
"Well, I don't," Rose said bluntly. "Come on, let's sit down and wait until morning." They both sat down, their backs leaning against the bookshelf. Albus felt exhausted, yet he could not bring himself to rest on the hard bookshelf.
"We can stretch out a little bit," Rose whispered. "We just have to stay behind the bookshelf." Albus sighed and lay down on the ground. He would like to sleep, since they had a few hours to kill, but the ground was so hard.
"Can't we summon a pillow or something?" Albus grumbled. "Or at least use a cushioning charm?"
"We haven't learned those spells yet, stupid," Rose hissed. "We're first years."
"Sorry," Albus muttered angrily. He sighed on the hard flooring. Al supposed he should at least try to sleep, even if he couldn't. To his great surprise, Albus found that his eyelids were beginning to droop. He shut his eyes, and he felt as though he was floating away...
Albus woke to soreness. His neck was sore, his back was sore, it was all sore from lying on the floor for- how long had he been asleep?
"Rose?" Al whispered. It was still just as dark as it was when he fell asleep, so he couldn't really see her.
"You're awake?" Rose enquired. "I couldn't tell. You are so quiet when you sleep. I could barely hear you breathe! Dad and Hugo snore really loud, so I wasn't used to you being so quiet. Mum says I snore a little bit though."
"Rose?" Albus whispered rather hastily. "Er-Can you lower the volume a little?"
"Oh, right, sorry," Rose muttered. Al's eyes flickered over to Mrs. Umbridge. They were wide and alert, but she hadn't done anything all night, so he doubted she would do anything now.
"I just haven't talked to anybody all night," Rose quietly added.
"You didn't sleep?" Albus said, surprised.
"No," she sighed. "I couldn't sleep on the floor. It was too hard." Albus nodded in sympathy; his neck and back were still sore.
For about an hour, Rose and Albus sat in silence, while the first rays of dawn shone through the window. He just stared at the book, and its golden lettering. The words echoed in his head over and over... Dark Potions for the Dark Potioneer... Dark Potions for the Dark Potioneer... the title was not very appealing.
At last, Albus saw Madam Pince enter haughtily into the library. Albus nudged Rose in the shoulder, and she instantly became alert, her eyes following Madam Pince. Rose had been in a half-asleep state for the past hour, but now she was wide-awake.
Albus and Rose breathed in nervously as they saw her take down the charms on the restricted section. Madam Pince then walked stiffly back to her desk, where she sat, her gaze narrowed.
"Come on..." Rose muttered. "Any minute now..."
But nothing happened. For the next five minutes, and next ten, nothing happened except for the first few students trickled in, bleary-eyed as they cracked some books open.
"We did tell David and Art to come right after Madam Pince took the enchantments off, right?" Rose whispered nervously.
"Yes," Albus whispered back.
"What do we do?" Rose whispered urgently. "We can't stay in this library forever!"
"Shh!" Albus hissed. "I'm sure David and Art will be here any minute, they probably just got held up." Albus sighed. He didn't believe his own words. Was he crazy to trust David and Art so much?
He had only known them since September. Just about six months. And when he confided in them about Zajecfer, he had only known them a few short weeks.
It was different with Rose. He had known her his entire life. Their parents were best friends. The two families visited each other so often, it sometimes felt that Rose and Hugo were his siblings, along with James and Lily. There could never be any doubt whether to trust Rose.
Albus sighed. More students were coming in, right after a good breakfast made by the house-elves in the kitchens. His stomach was grumbling. Unless David and Art were going to rescue them anytime soon, it looked like Albus wasn't getting breakfast. Albus stared at the books lining the bookshelves longing to do something...
Quite abruptly, a terrible smell filled his nostrils. It smelled like dirt and filthy things and rats and rotting fish and everything bad he had smelled his entire life... Albus's mind finally put a name on it. Dungbomb!
The other students were quickly streaming out of the library, holding their noses. To Albus’s great delight, David and Art appeared around the corner, poking their heads out.
“Albus! Rose!” Art quickly hissed. “Come on, while nobody is here!” With a quick glance at Rose, Albus scooped up the book and sprinted out of the restricted section. Rose followed.
“Thanks goodness,” Albus muttered.
It was not very long before they heard the footsteps of Madam Pince, so the celebration did not last long. All four of them turned pale.
“She’s going to kill us,” David exclaimed, clapping his hand over his mouth. Rose, meanwhile, snatched the book from Albus and shoved it onto the shelf, right as Madam Pince came around the corner. Her face was steaming with fury.
“Out!” she screamed “Out, out, OUT!” Terrified, Albus and the others ran for the door. “You are banned from the library for a month, and fifty points from Gryffindor! If I see so much as a glimpse of any of your faces in the next month, you will regret it!” With that, Madam Pince stormed away.
“Why’d you put the book on a random shelf?” Albus scowled at Rose. “Now we don’t have it any more, and we are banned!”
“She would have seen the book in your hand, taken at least two hundred points from Gryffindor, put it back in the restricted section, and assigned you a lifetime’s worth of detention!” Rose exclaimed. “At least now it’s in the regular section of the library.” When Albus didn’t do anything but scowl at Rose, she sighed and turned to David.
“What happened?” Rose asked urgently. “You were supposed to come back right after Madam Pince took the spells off, and you were supposed to come from under an invisibility cloak, not set off a dungbomb! And you were supposed to distract Mrs. Umbridge for much longer.”
“A change of plan,” David muttered. “We got caught by Filch.” Albus gasped.
“What happened?” Albus asked urgently. David groaned and sat down, smell and all, so Art answered for him.
“We were doing pretty good so far. We let off a decoy detonator. But then Filch heard all the commotion, and came to investigate. We managed to evade him for a few minutes, but then we tripped and the invisibility cloak fell off of us. We got a week’s worth of detentions with Filch, and we got sent back to the dormitories until morning.” Albus sighed. There was still something he couldn’t quite put a finger on, something he felt was really obvious…
“Why did you fetch us using a dungbomb?” Albus asked abruptly. Al jumped when David gave another groan and banged his head on the wall. Albus glanced back at Art. There was a guilty look in his face.
“Er- the cloak… well, we don’t have the cloak…” Albus felt himself go pale. He didn’t want to be hearing this… this couldn’t be true…
“When it slipped off of us, Filch was able to find it,” David whispered, staring at the floor. “Filch confiscated it.”
They were doomed. How could they do anything without the cloak?
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