Chapter 24 : Down Near the Dungeons
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“Can you believe exams are tomorrow?” Art said, plopping down next to Albus and throwing his bookbag on the ground. “I’m going to fail.”
“If anybody should be worried, it’ll be me,” Albus said. “I’m the one who’s had the least amount of time to study, and I’m rubbish with my wand.”
“Yeah, but you suddenly got better when you stayed after class with Professor Fuchs that one day, remember? Now you’re the best in the class.” Albus still hadn’t told anyone about what happened that day. In class during practice, all of the students failed to notice that Albus wasn’t speaking his spells, since the classroom was so noisy with all the students chanting their spells at the same time.
“To be honest, I’ll just be glad when all of this is over,” David said, who was sitting on the other side of Albus.
Art shook his head sadly. “Sometimes I think you want to fail, David.”
“Are you kidding?” David said, sitting straight up. “This place is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. If I’m expelled, I’ll go hide underneath the staircase next year. I have no desire to leave this place.”
“Then study,” Albus said.
“Oh, all right,” David mumbled, sighing and cracking open a textbook. “But only because I want to pass.”
“Where’s Rose?” Albus asked Art.
“Upstairs in her dormitory. She claims we’ll distract her.”
“That’s a good point, I’m distracting myself. Let’s get to studying, shall we?”
They studied silently for about an hour, and then concluded that if they didn’t know the information now, they’d never know it. The sun was setting anyway. After some more last minute studying, Albus went to bed. Exam day was upon them.
Herbology was first. Albus strenuously watered plants, potted them, fed them, and basically acted as though the plants were delicate babies. One touch of bare skin to Wonky’s Ball , and the whole plant dissolved into dust. Albus remembered the hard way during the exam that one touch of bare skin to Wonky’s Ball causes the whole plant to dissolve into dust. Luckily the rest of the practical exam went all right. For the written section, they had to write a short essay on what they did to each plant, and whether they would change any of their methods. Albus rectified his mistake in writing.
History of Magic was rather boring. He couldn’t rest his head on the desk like usual, since it was a test, not a lecture. Maybe Albus would’ve done better if Professor Binns wasn’t so boring in the first place, making him learn little. Anyway, that was his excuse. Rose would probably reprimand him.
Transfiguration wasn’t as good, mostly since Albus was unnerved by Professor Dire’s prowling stare. He had to transfigure a wheel into a spider, which was surprisingly difficult. Albus produced a wooden spider. Professor Dire scribbled many things down during his examination, which didn’t give Albus the greatest self-esteem on his performance. Oh, well. He did reasonably well on the written examination, so that might average things out a bit.
That evening, they had their Astronomy exam. He thought he did okay, although he was shocked by Rose’s and Art’s ability. They both scribbled down names of planets and stars before Albus could even write down one. Impressive, but it angered Albus just a tad. Hopefully he’d never have to know the difference between Venus and Neptune. Even so, Albus was quite proud when he turned in his examination, as there were only three stars he could not locate, and he located all the planets. Not bad.
The next day, Albus seemed to be on a roll. Defense Against the Dark Arts and Charms both went magnificent, all because Albus didn’t say the incantation, but thought it instead. He found himself performing all the spells with surprising ease. His levitating feather flew all the way to the top of the ceiling. The practical bit wasn’t as extraordinary for both of those subjects, but Albus still thought he did pretty well.
The Potions exam was the best by far: he aced it. The questions seemed really easy, and so did the potions they had to make. Brewing a potion a hundred times harder in his free time made potions in class much easier. Albus was one of the few students beaming by the end of the examination, as he felt he achieved over one hundred percent.
The end of all the examinations was a cause for celebration, and the common room became a party room that evening. Most of the sixth and seventh years were suspiciously missing, and the fifth years were partying harder than all the fourth, third, second, and first years combined. Humongous cakes with thick layers of frosting were passed around, and Albus happily took a few slices. Exams were over! There were still a few weeks of school left, in which the teachers would prepare students for summer, but the amount of effort needed would go down.
After spending days in preparation for exams, Albus knew he should get back to the potion. He was pretty sure that he was almost done, but he needed to finish it before the year was finished. As Art pointed out over a month ago, they had no idea what would happen once summer came. There still wasn’t any announcement about staying at Hogwarts for summer vacation. Hopefully in just a few weeks, Albus could see his family again. He hadn’t seen them since September. Being around his cousins at Hogwarts had caused him to forget his homesickness, but it was coming back as the year slowly drew to a close.
Albus brewed his potion, happily relieved that exams were finally over. He was nearing the end of the seemingly never-ending potion, which made his day a hundred times brighter. Soon, it would be finished. Very soon.
A few days later, on Friday, Albus brewed his potion once more. He stirred the potion as at last he stirred in the demiguise hair. Five times clockwise, three times counter-clockwise, five times clockwise… there. It looked brilliant. Albus turned to the next page. There were no more instructions. Did he skip a page? No, he turned from page 510 to page 511.
Albus happily looked at the potion. It looked like nothing was in the cauldron, except for red steam rising from the cauldron. He’d done it! He’d really done it! He dropped the book onto the ground, and levitated himself out of the room faster than lightning.
“Rose!” Albus shouted, even though he was flights away from the common room. Once he arrived, he found Rose sitting on the couch reading a novel. Typical of her. “Rose!” he yelled again.
“Shhh, I’m in the middle of a good chapter,” Rose muttered. “You can’t just stop me in the middle of the climax. The death eaters just captured Nicolai.”
“Rose, I finished the potion. Who cares about your stupid book?” Rose threw her book down on the ground in surprise.
“You finished the potion? That’s terrific!”
“Where are David and Art?”
“Your dormitory,” she said, and they quickly sped up the stairs. “David! Art!” Albus yelled. “The potion is finished!”
“Really?” Their two voices chimed in with unision. Albus was half tempted to laugh.
“Yes! It’s amazing!”
Five minutes later, all four of them gathered in their secret room, watching the steam rising from the cauldron. Albus would have stuck his face in in triumph, except it was posionous. He knew it was poisonous only to drink, but Al didn’t want to take any chances.
“Right! I’ve got four vials, one for each of us,” Rose told them, holding up the vials.
“And then we…?” Albus said, trying to remember what they were supposed to do now. He could almost feel the glare from Rose. They must have gone over this at some point.
“Weren’t we going to put a few drops of the potion on the exact spot Zajecfer did and see what happened?” Art asked. Albus breathed a small sigh of relief. Art was a savior.
“Yes, at least someone remembered,” Rose said, grumbling. She dipped the vials into the cauldron. When she lifted them out, Albus saw the small red vapor from each individual one. Rose gave one to each of them.
“So we each have one, in case we have to make a few tries before it works,” Rose explained.
“Should we bring the invisibility cloak?” Albus asked. Rose glanced at the cloak on the floor.
“I don’t see why we should need it,” she said. “It isn’t after curfew, and we’re not going anywhere we’re not allowed to be.”
“Alright.” Once they were back on the stairwell, they took stairs down and down, all the way to the last level that held both the dungeons and the kitchens. A combination of adrenaline and nerves were coursed through Albus. This was it! They were about to do something Albus wanted to do since January! What would happen when those few drops came into contact? What if nothing happened? After all, he wasn’t watching Zajecfer’s lips that day he saw Zajecfer do whatever he did. There might be a secret incantation that they would never know. So that made Albus nervous that everything had been for nothing.
They found the stair that over four months ago David had complained about stubbing his toe. The four of them walked further along, until the reached the point Albus first noticed a figure in the shadows, The area was less erie now in the daylight, but still alive with memories. And at last, they approached the spot on the wall where Zajecfer had disappeared.
“Right here,” Albus told Art and Rose. “This is where Zajecfer disappeared, isn’t it David?”
“Yes,” David breathed, putting his hand right next to Albus’s, feeling the smooth, empty wall. “I ran up here after Zajecfer disappeared.” Albus and David both felt the wall, trance-like, while Art and Rose stood further back, looking far less impressed.
“Are you sure this is it?” Rose asked.
“You don’t forget the part of the wall you slam into and hurt yourself,” David said. Albus nodded in agreement.
“So that’s where Zajecfer ‘disappeared’, but where did he pour the few drops of the potion?” Rose asked.
“Somewhere on the ground…” Albus said, glancing around his feet. He couldn’t tell this close up. “Let me find out where David and I were standing, and I’ll go from there.” Albus and David both walked around on the opposite side of the corridor, stopping and looking up towards the wall.
“Here,” Albus said at last. “This is where I was standing. This is right, isn’t it David?”
“Yes,” David said, standing next to Albus. “This is where I saw it all happen, and I was to the right of you.”
“Rose, go over next to the wall, and I’ll instruct you where to go.” She stood next to the wall. “Now take two steps foward… yes… put your hands down on the ground, bring them right about, oh, two inches… no that’s too far, bring it half and inch to the left… put your finger on the left… yes, that’s it!”
“Looks right to me,” David said. It was on a spot on the ground less than a foot before making contact with the wall. Rose took out her vial, and popped off the cork. Before she could do anything else, Albus heard footsteps.
“Quick, everyone under the cloak!” Albus whispered instinctively.
“Albus, you didn’t bring the cloak,” Rose said. “Besides, it’s not a crime, standing here. It’s probably just a student.” The footsteps came closer. Albus recognized them… But no, it couldn’t be…
“Albus?” His green-eyed, messy-haired father stood before him, looking completely taken off guard. It was Harry Potter, his dad.
“Dad!” Albus said, throwing himself on top of his father. Dad was here! Albus didn’t have to carry out with anything at all! He’d just explain everything to his Dad, and everything would be taken off his shoulders! This was brilliant! But first… “Dad, what are you doing here?”
“Just having a poke around,” His dad said. “I was just about to visit the kitchens. Flitwick’s been creating excuses for me not to come all year, and I don’t know why. I didn’t even get to do my yearly Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson. So I just, ah, came here without a prior notice.” Albus finally released his father, and they grinned at each other.
“I have so much to tell you,” Albus said. He opened his mouth- but then his father’s expression quickly turned into one of horror.
“All of you, down!” Albus, without even looking or hesitating, fell to the ground and rolled over to the wall, just as a green light sped past him. Once he had a hold of Rose’s hand, with Art and David next to them, he looked.
Lord Zajecfer was standing on the other end of the corridor. His dark eyes drew Albus in, those mysterious eyes that were now flickering all over. Zajecfer’s wand was out in action, with his black cloak billowing around his wand. His pale face was monotonous, and a small chunk of his black hair fell to the ground. A green curse erupted from Zajecfer’s wand, spinning in the air, straight towards Albus- there was nowhere he could go, he was backed up against a wall- and there was a scream.
“NOT MY SON!” was the scream, and in the next instant Albus and his friends were wrapped in a blue, transparent bubble. A shield. A deep sigh of relief escaped from Albus. He was surprisingly calm. There was a near-death experience, but he was now safe and his father had come to defeat Zajecfer. His dad was unbeatable. He’d defeated Lord Voldemort, the most feared and dangerous wizard of all time! He was safe. His biggest worry now was that Rose was gripping Albus’s hand so hard he was starting to lose circulation. He slowly pried a few of Rose’s fingers off, thus loosening her grip. Art and David were on the other side of Rose, watching the duel that was now taking place.
Jets of light sped across in each direction, rocketing off the walls. Why, if he wasn’t protected with a shield charm, they’d be barbequed in an instant. Both faces, Zajecfer’s and his Dad’s, were narrowed in intensity and concentration. Spells flew out from both wands faster than Albus could count.
“ALBUS!” Rose screamed. Albus tore his eyes away from the duel unfolding. The shield charm around them, keeping them safe, was now flickering in and out! What could they do? Albus, Rose, David, and Art all huddled against each other. One spell came dangerously close to contact with Art.
“DAD! DAD!” Albus screamed as loud as his lungs could take. His dad’s face was narrowed, focused in on Zajecfer’s, not hearing Albus’s cry. Rose’s eyes were staring at the flickering shield in horror. Art was shouting. But David… he looked alive with energy. As though he had an idea.
David pulled out his vial. Of course! They weren’t just backed up against any old wall, they were backed up against the wall! David moved his shaking hand forward, right onto the spot Zajecfer had poured the potion. Three drops fell out, and they sizzled on the ground. Albus stared at the wall that they were all leaning against. Let David be right…
A door transformed in front of his eyes. It was an oak double-door, and round on the top. A huge knocker, the head of a serpent, was on the door, but Albus went straight for the handle. Climbing over Rose, put his hand on the silver handle, throwing all his body weight onto it, and the door opened inward.
He opened the door wider, and ran inside with Rose, Art, and David on his heels. With an echoing slam the door shut.
“Where are we?” Rose whispered.
They seemed to have entered another corridor. This one was narrow, and very dim. Just like Hogwarts corridors, it consisted of various stones, and torches decorated the walls. The corridor twisted slightly, not allowing them to see the end. Part of Albus wanted to explore, but they should just wait for his dad.
“Well, this is what the potion brought us to,” David said. “It was an invisible door back here, all along. I was right! Ha, take that Rose. You’re the one who rejected my theory.”
“David, you idiot!” Rose explained. “We go into this place that nobody knows what it is, Uncle Harry is dueling outside of here, and you choose to be a smarty pants?”
“Shut up!” Art yelled hastily. Albus wheeled around at Art in shock. Art was never rude. “Guys, I think I hear something.” Albus heard it too. Something was rumbling somewhere above them.
“It’s coming from above…” Albus ran forward into the corridor, listening for where the sound was the strongest. It almost sounded like thunder. Then it stopped for a brief moment, and Albus froze. What made it stop? But then from behind him, Albus whirled around right as there was a huge crash. Dust flew up, making Albus cough. Once it cleared, Albus saw three big, huge rocks the size of the corridor. They were definitely in the shape of spheres, although they were roughly cut, as though some poor muggle carved them. Albus couldn’t see Rose, David, or Art at all.
“ALBUS!” Rose screamed. Well, at least she was alright.
“Rose! David! Art!” Albus yelled back. “I’m okay! It looks like there was a rock fall or something!”
“No kidding!” Art hollered back.
“What sort of idiot would keep three huge stones that just had to fall when we were here, and between us and Albus?” David yelled. That was a pretty good point. Whatever happened here was no accident. At least the danger had passed- no, it wasn’t. The rocks were beginning to roll towards Albus.
He took off running, away from the stones, which was also away from his friends and towards the unknown. There was shouting behind him, but Albus didn’t listen. He just ran for his life. The balls sped up behind him. There wasn’t even any sort of change in elevation, so how did the balls start rolling? He thought as he ran, through the convoluted corridor, where there were no doors or anything for him to slide into.
He kept running faster and faster. At the very end of the corridor, with the stones on his heels, there was a door. This one also had a silver knocker, but once again, Albus dived for the handle. He yanked the door open and shut it. Albus breathed a small sigh of relief. They door had shut. He was safe.
It was only then that Albus saw that there was a person standing in front of him. A man he recognized. But it was impossible.
Okay, I'll pretend I'm really sorry for the cliffhanger. It was needed (Not really, I just felt like putting it in there).
Just two chapters left! Hooray!
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