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 The Mysteries of the DoM, chapter 87

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Anzahl der Beiträge : 55
Anmeldedatum : 25.10.14
Ort : Bodensee

BeitragThema: The Mysteries of the DoM, chapter 87   Sa Nov 10, 2018 2:42 am

Chapter beta: Olivia

Chapter translator: Aivy




I took a step back and looked contentedly at my work, staring at her lifeless, slumped figure, looking at the woman who was now a corpse, trying to figure out what I was feeling.

I hadn't been sure that I would be able to use this spell immediately against a human being; after all, this was the first planned and executed murder I had just committed. I had done it!

I had murdered someone with an Avada!

Of course, I'd been wanting to try this spell for a long time, and I have to say it was much cleaner and less personal than a knife. But well, that woman deserved it. This absolutely evil, unscrupulous and dangerous woman deserved it. It was not a pity she was dead. No one would shed a tear over her, except maybe Fudge!

My decision that I wouldn't let her live had fallen when she admitted to deliberately setting the dementors on Harry. She had purposely, intentionally, and viciously exposed him to the perilous threat these beings posed. That she had wanted to torture him was bad enough, but the smallest evil. No, really, I was glad that I had done that. Anyone who messed with my family had to suffer my revenge too, I thought with grim satisfaction.

The fact that a curse that was regarded as very difficult easily passed my lips once more was a nice confirmation, but nothing more!

I mean, there were so many evil people running around since he came back, so everyone should be happy that one less vicious woman was among us. I had no qualms and turned around, running anxiously to Harry to free him from the root, leaving my cold-blooded act behind me without care. It didn't affect me, not now, we had more important things to do.

"Harry, are you okay?" I exclaimed, running quickly towards him, and pulled on an arm-thick, greyish-brown root. I had wisely hidden my wand from him again.

"Yes, thanks! Woah, what was that? I thought that thing was going to strangle me. But then I thought of what you said in oufirst year about the Devil's Snare: Hold still! And tada, this thing stopped choking me too!" he said, visibly proud, while I released him and I was proud, too, and pulled him to his feet. Harry always seemed to find his mind in dangerous situations, drawing good, logical conclusions.

"Where is the bitch," he asked, looking around, "and where have you been?"

"No idea! I lost track of you and then she was suddenly gone. You know how dangerous the forest is!" I tried distracting him and looked into the darkness of the forest.

"Yes, shit, and we don't even have our wands. Why did you lead us in here?" he complained, overwhelmed, rubbing at the spots that had been bruised slightly by the root.

"Why? We got rid of her!" I offered as he massaged his throat.

"Ah, yes, you're right! Only for how long?" he wondered.

Oh, if you knew! I thought. We got rid of the monster forever.

"Now, what happened at Grimmau-" I wanted to continue talking when we could hear the familiar hoofbeats of the centaurs.

"Crap!" Harry and I cursed at the same time. We were already surrounded and once again faced with the weapons of the angry centaurs pointing at us. Those arrows looked really sharp...

Since I had used the most unforgivable of the Unforgivable Curses, I felt astonishingly little. I was very cold inside and surprisingly clear. Something that fit just perfectly, as I calmly and indifferently looked at the arrows aimed at us in threat.

An ill-tempered Magorian trotted toward us thunderously and stopped in front of us, huffing angrily.

"What are you doing here? Did we not make it clear that you are also not welcome here?" he asked imperiously, puffing out his broad, strong, male and naked chest.

"W... We...," Harry stuttered uncertainly and wiped his sweaty forehead.

"Let us finally make an example! They won't understand us otherwise and won't take us seriously!" cried the black centaur named Bane rabidly. You had to be downright afraid that a werewolf had bitten him into the flank - should I say that to him, his arrow would probably stick out of me - however, it must be allowed to amuse oneself about a hothead such as him.

"But we are foals!" Harry called brusquely, looking agitatedly into the circle of bulky horse bodies surrounding us, shuffling uneasily on the spot like horses that didn't want to get in the starting boxes before the start of a race and were ready to buck.

"You have forfeited this right!" The verdict came coldly from Magorian. I noticed how especially I was targeted by the angry looks and the arrows aimed at us. Oh, they must have sent a scout who had been watching and telling on me. They should be glad that Umbridge hadn't gotten a centaur into her small, thick sausage-like fingers because that would have been no pleasure for these hybrids. As I had said, I was even less sorry for this vile person than I had been for Bole.

Harry seemed more than surprised at their stubborn demeanour.

"What do they mean?" he whispered softly next to me and barely moved his lips, noting that for the moment I had come to the centre of attention.

"Don't be so harsh!" We now heard the melodious and melancholy voice of a sorrel, who also had an amazing amount of red hair on his human body and dared to intervene in the discussion by trotting forward, deliberately placing one hoof in front of the other.

"Oh, Ronan, keep out of it!" Bane hissed at him, prancing uneasily and eagerly on the spot. Well, I would never want to ride on him! Very bad thought...

Well, should they attack us, I would retaliate with my gloves off because it seemed they would not spare us and try to kill us. The situation became noticeably worse.

It seemed to me that the time of tolerance, of mutual sympathy, was over, and that had not only to do with my evil, really evil deed towards Umbridge, but also with the fact that the horsies here in front of me were behaving increasingly wilder, more untamed and unruly.

"Yes, Ronan, Bane is right. These two are no longer foals!" Magorian declared sharply.

"You see, Ronan, even Magorian realises that these young people are arrogant and insolent. They view us as dumb livestock and think that they can presume to do anything in our forest!" Bane hissed hatefully, rearing up angrily. Kicking with his front legs, he yelled accusingly: "They even leave behind the likes of them and eliminate it..."

So, now I was getting positively mad at the horsies. I had just spoken my first Avada successfully and if they wanted, I could test it on them, too. They should keep their mouths! Did they have to rub it so ostentatiously in Harry's face?

Like I said, I had nothing against the centaurs and I was respecting half-beings in principle, but their self-righteous nature was just getting dangerously on my tits. The overbearing fuss was just as annoying as Umbridge had been. She had also been sure of herself and her self-righteousness.

"Hermione, what are they talking about?" Harry asked desperately. I just shrugged my shoulders but didn't look at him, keeping a constant eye on the threat in front of us. Unfortunately, they were also in our backs, the way they had closed a circle around us; we were surrounded.

I was just about to draw my wand in that second, as the first arrows were shot at and hurrying past us, whirring and drilling into the forest floor. Harry immediately grabbed my hand and looked at me fearfully under the onslaught. Suddenly, we felt tremors shaking the ground under our feet and the trees snapped like matches.

Grawp's ugly face appeared over the trees and I had never thought that I would be so pleased to see it. The belligerent attention of the herd immediately turned to the giant invader, who kept shouting:

"Hagga... Hagga... Hagga!"

Apparently, he was looking for Hagrid, spotting us little ones on the ground. Then he seemed to recognise me, twisting his crooked mouth even more, and shouted:

"Hermy... Hermy!" I did the only thing that occurred to me, I waved very excitedly.

The giant really seemed to see this as an invitation to come nearer and shocked me as his big, broad hands, more reminiscent of shovels, grabbed for me. The centaurs immediately moved panically and vigorously against the giant. They shot their arrows mercilessly at him in rapid succession, and the pointed metals pierced the skin of Grawp, who whined in torment and began to bleed. He roared angrily as he pulled back his spiked hand and lunged with vengeance for the horses, who now galloped away, a furious giant trudging after them, crushing everything. I had to snort derisively for a short moment. Idiots, to engage a giant with arrows that did not even penetrate as deep as a bee sting in comparison did human skin. But well, we were rid of them.

As a gift, Grawp had a few drops of his blood rain on us and so we looked pretty speckled in scarlet. Harry sighed in relief.

"Bugger, that has been close! Are they nuts? What's happening here? Everybody is going crazy, aren't they?" Harry dragged me frantically onwards, but ranting all the while, keeping his hand tightly interwoven with mine. Testily, he wanted to know: "What was their problem?"

"If I knew, Harry, I would tell you! But I would say that we have been in their bad books since the last time! Centaurs are weird contemporaries... But now tell me, how was... the Floo talk? What did you learn?" I asked quickly as we continued to dash across the uneven ground. I wiped my damp cheek, resulting in a red hand. Great, I'm pretty sure an arrow had grazed me when whirring past my cheek.

"I met Kreacher in the kitchen and he said that Sirius had gone to the Department of Mysteries and would probably never come back. He was very malicious and spiteful! I kept pushing him, but then the toad pulled me back by the shoulder!" Now he tore his hand away from me and ran it desperately through his wayward hair. Desperately, Harry wanted to hear from me how he should react. "What am I supposed to believe? I have such a bad feeling with Kreacher. He was so, so ... I don't know, so gleeful!"

"I don't know, Harry. I still think that it is unlikely that Sirius, the wanted convict, marches into the Ministry at noon. He has more intelligence than that!" I said thoughtfully, trying to lay open the facts and suppress my feelings or even any concern.

"Well, you see, there you are right again; we had exams when I experienced the vision. However, I'm still worried and if we go back now, they won't tell us anything anyway. And that with Snape...!" He gave me an uncomfortable look and wrung his hands unhappily.

"Harry, don't blame him now... What should he have been showing or revealing around Umbridge?" I asked urgently, waving my hands placatingly.

"Did I say something...? I'm not stupid! But what do I know, what I expected? I even tried to open my mind for him and show him what I saw. I don't think it worked. It was clear to me that he couldn't show any signs in Umbridge's presence, though... I don't know," he shrugged unhappily.

"I understand, but I think he is smart enough!" I tried to give Harry hope.

"Hermione, that may be and I know it's a trap! It has to be a trap. However, I would have... I want to grab this chance, otherwise, I'll never know what it's all about. I want to go to the Ministry, not just to check if Sirius is really okay, but also because I finally want to know what that all means. I want to break out! These constant pictures from him, who wants me to go there, that drives me insane! And they'll never tell me what's there... Either I'll find it out on my own, or never... Will you come with me, please? It doesn't matter anyway. Dumbledore isn't here; Umbridge... That's the question," he paused briefly and didn't dare to look me in the eyes, before he went on quickly in an imploring tone of voice, "...the Aurors at school. I don't want to go back now and do nothing!"

I thought about his request, stopping at a tree stump breathlessly.

"You're right and I'll always come with you no matter where the path leads! But be aware of the consequences. Can you live with it if things go awry and something happens to one of us or the Order? Because I think Snape will organise something from out of the castle!" I pointed out rationally as I was, foresightfully.

"No, never! But then I'll have to live with it. It wouldn't be the first time that people die because of me," he replied bitterly. A very serene expression replaced the grief-stricken look.

"Well, then come on!" I was aware of the consequences. I knew I could easily lead him into the Department of Mysteries, that wouldn't be a problem when I started to laugh: "Hahaha... you know we're totally bonkers, right? To deliberately walk into a trap with our eyes wide open!" I laughed loudly, looking forward to the upcoming adventure.

"I know, but it can't go on like that. I'm going to go crazy if I keep seeing that enticing wooden door and I can't open it. I can't stand this anymore! I think that's the problem. I have become so curious that I almost cannot resist. If only they realised that I would handle and understand the truth better than this secrecy on which my curiosity is based! And Voldemort stokes it even further; he is manipulating me mercilessly," Harry discerned very precisely. I could see very well that under these disturbing and uncertain circumstances it was really hard to close his mind.

"And Dumbledore plays into his hands with all that he does!" I drew my disappointed conclusion. We were silent for a moment until suddenly Harry asked:

"What will we do without our wands?" He looked curiously at me now over his shoulder.

"Free our friends!" I told him, and lead the way, prudently omitting that I carried a hidden wand.

We trudged in silence and brooding over our decision through the forest when we suddenly heard voices engaged in an angry discussion. I quickly put a finger to my mouth and Harry nodded in reply. Hence, we crept quietly towards the group which apparently didn't agree and had a fight when we recognised the voices.

"And you really believe that you saw how they got in here? The forest is dangerous!" Ron hissed at Ginny as we burst out of the thicket and stepped into the small clearing.

"Yes, I did!" Ginny replied sharply and then turned to us as we made a lot of noise, the branches snapping loudly as we made our way.

"Harry! Hermione!" The relieved shouts came from many mouths.

"How do you look? What happened to you?" they cried out when they saw our bloody robes.

"Um, long story. Not important, we are alright," Harry waved their concern away with a smile and the tension eased from the worried faces.

"Psst, be quiet!" I ordered since we didn't want to meet the centaurs again, and they were not the only inhabitants of this magical forest. The faces of our friends brightened rapidly for we stood before them unharmed and I raised my eyebrows questioningly.

"Guys, how did you escape?" Harry asked, clearly pleased that everyone else was safe as well.

"Well, that's how it went: I knocked our wands out of Bulstrode's hand with a quick swipe and then there was a little mess and I grabbed mine and threw some Stunners. Neville was also fast and shot a bloody cool paralyzing spell at Goyle, who collapsed, and Luna is wicked good at kicking. Ginny was fantastic with her Bat-Bogey Curse. So we incapacitated everyone from that stupid Inquisitorial Squad! They won't get up again anytime fast..." Ron professed with everyone looking kinda sheepish but proud at the same time.

"What? That's so cool, guys!" Harry exclaimed happily, and Ron handed us our wands with a bashful grin at the praise. I looked at the four and was happy. Good that Draco hadn't been there; I congratulated us that he got out of the way and left. But Malfoys were excellent at getting out at the right time. Had to be in their blood, I thought wryly.

"Of course you would escape those airheads," Harry stated boastfully and Ginny blushed prettily at his praise. "Hermione, are you coming?" Harry suddenly asked me without context for the others and held out his hand. I went up to him and noticed how they all looked funny at as.

"Wait a minute!"

"Stop!"

"Wait!"

"Where is the Bitch? What are you going to do?" Ron asked urgently, while Harry took my hand firmly in his again.

"No idea, she was suddenly gone! I have my doubts that she will come back. And what we are going to do? Well, we decided to go to the Ministry to finally find out what it's all about. Otherwise I'll lose my mind with this uncertainty!" Harry confessed.

"We'll go with you!" Ron declared quick as a shot from a wand.

"No, you won't!" I countered, glaring at all of them.

I had just killed; it was no joke. That was not the right thing for these children, they had no idea what it was like and I felt sick when I looked into their open, honest and friendly eyes. I was sure, would they look intensely into mine, they would realise that something had changed in me again - one more limit gone. But they didn't have to do that, they still had the choice. I had made mine a long time ago.

It was too late for me. Too late to have regrets. Too late to turn back.

"Hermione, that's still my decision to make!" Ron yelled indignantly and Ginny joined in, fiercely tying her long red hair into a ponytail.

"You can't be serious!" Neville whispered.

"Harry, we'll go with you. You need us!" Wrong, sweetheart. Harry needed me, no one else. That would be the most sensible thing to do. But since Harry didn't know everything, he slowed down a bit.

"Harry, I've been part of all our adventures so far!" Ron caught up and put his hand on Harry's shoulder.

"I know. But we'll run into a trap anyway. Ron, I don't want anything to happen to you!" Harry admitted openly.

"And what about Hermione?" Ginny asked defiantly and stood next to us.

"I'm different, Ginny," I told her coldly and with a curt, very appraising look.

"Aha. And why?" she asked, piqued. I was tempted to answer her: 'Because I can kill and because I'm unscrupulous, you stupid cow!' I really started to get annoyed with her.

"Stop it! Ginny, Hermione knows what to expect," Harry was at my side immediately.

"Me too..." Ron interjected accusingly.

"No, you don't. You don't know what it's like to face a Death Eater!" said Harry. I agreed with him; it was no pleasure, and if they were seasoned men like Lucius or Snape, then doubly so.

"Yes, but she doesn't either!" Ginny called heatedly and Ron nodded in agreement. I only thought 'if you knew'. However, I also noticed Harry's short, flickering gaze that contained mild scepticism. Oh my dear, what do you know about me that you haven't told me yet?

However, now was not the right time to explore that.

"We'll come with you!" Ron said uncompromisingly and showed a stubborn expression.

"I'll go too, Harry!" Luna hummed dreamily but the seriousness was written in her eyes.

"Yes... Yes, me too," Neville stammered and I rolled my eyes over this annoying gang.

"And how will we get there?" Ginny enquired now as if we were planning to go shopping and not running into a vicious trap.

"The thestrals," Luna proposed dreamily and pointed with a finger to a dark corner and then I noticed the bony, winged horses between the dense shrubs.

Okay, I'll apparate, come what may. I couldn't care less if this one of my secrets got revealed, but I would not ride on that, er, fly, or whatever. No way, no bloody way! I hate flying!

"Where did they come from?" Neville wondered, blinking into nothing.

"I think they smelled the blood," Luna said completely unmoved, pointing to Harry and my dishevelled looks.

"You can't come, it's too dangerous," I whispered very softly and looked at Harry intently. He shrugged and the others watched us and our communication.

"Harry, if something happens to them, can you live with it? Same question as before, can you do that? If something happens to Ron? Live on?" I held him by the arm, interrogating him earnestly.

"Why do you assume that nothing will happen to you?" Neville suddenly asked very smartly.

"I can take care of myself!" It came impatiently from me and I brushed his question aside.

"I can do that too, after all, we escaped the snakes!" Too sweet, Ginny. Do you compare the babies to Lucius?

Wow. I think that Ginny would probably shit herself in fear if Lucius tried to eat her as a steak and buried his teeth in her flesh in delight. But I would always come out alive, one way or the other; Draco had taken care of it.

"You don't know what you are talking about," I informed her coldly.

"I don't, but you do, Miss Know-It-All? Don't pretend to know everything! How could you?" she snapped and put her hands on her hips.

I was about to hex everyone here. I was livid and then Harry gently took my hand in his again.

"If they want to come..." he said pleadingly and I could see in his eyes how he gave in and was maybe even glad about the extra support. Just because I often preferred to roam around on my own did not mean that Harry did as well.

"You want to take the others with you? Then do it!" I groused angrily and wrested my hand from his grip.

"Good!"

"Finally!"

"Let's go!"

"We want to go with you. That's what friends do for each other!"

All four shouted with exuberant energy and far too naively for my taste. In principle, it was really nice of them, but they underestimated the situation.

Already, Harry was pulling me to the horses. No way! I would apparate, I decided, gazing with pure horror at those winged creatures.

"Where are the thestrals?" Ron asked, confused, and Luna grabbed his hand, put it on the black, smooth skin of the animal and Ron jerked back when he touched something he couldn't see.

"Wow, cool, I can't see anything but something is there," he said and then mounted it without much thought. That was probably the notorious Gryffindor temperament.

Luna led Ginny to one of these dragon-headed horses and helped her up, while Neville mounted safely, seeing that he, too, could see these creatures. Harry came up to me and led me to one of the animals, which of course I could very well perceive in all their glory, although he didn't know that.

"C'mon," he encouraged me, being very well aware of my resistance.

"You, Harry, I'll find another way, truly!" I fought against his grip.

"I believe you, but what should I do without you? Please come, stay with me," he asked so softly that I closed my eyes from one second to the next and let him lead me to the creature.

When I felt the smooth, leathery skin, I opened my eyes and saw the thestral turn its head and fix me with its white pupils. I knew this being felt that not only had I seen death but had brought it, too.

"Come, I'll help you up," Harry said, lifting me up so that I came to sit on its back. I was acutely aware of the bones on which I was sitting now and I clawed at the black mane in panic. Meanwhile, Harry had settled on his own mount and called our destination:

"Ministry of Magic in London!"

I couldn't believe that I was really riding on this thing! Why was I so stupid? For now, all thestrals ascended on Harry's command, rising into dizzying heights. I dug my fingers into the mane and pressed my legs tightly against the thin body. They spread their bat-like wings wide, beating them vigorously to rise up into the vast, much-too-high sky and I felt the tendons and muscles working in that bony body as it lost the ground beneath it and rose into the air.

Slightly desperate, I clung to the horse's torso, leaning forward and swallowing the acid in my throat in panic. I wished myself far way away when I noticed to my regret that we were climbing higher and higher into the sky. We got faster and faster. The acceleration they achieved while flying was tremendous, and the tree-covered ground was getting smaller and smaller below us. The wind blew the hair out of my face and the air became really brisk in the heights we now reached.

They finally completed the climb and chose the straight air route to London. During that time, as I desperately quelled my panic and tried to relax convulsively, I prepared myself for a quick tour of the ministry.

Unfortunately, the fast flight still took far too long for my liking and so I didn't look anywhere but at the mane of my flying mount. My thoughts wandered to Umbridge and I quarrelled over whether I really had to kill her.

And the realisation that I certainly hadn't had to kill her, but had wanted it, didn't sit right with me. I didn't want to be the master of death, deciding high-handedly who was allowed to live. Yet, I had done it, but I also knew that this woman would always have been a danger to Harry and also to Muggleborns like me. Although she hadn't been a woman to shed a tear over, what I had done was not 'nice' either.

Groaning, I hid my face against the leathery skin of the thestral and cooled my heated face through the icy mountain air. As long as I didn't lose sight of morality, I hoped to be able to remain a 'normal person'. Much like the Muggle soldiers; they also had to take up arms and take lives during the war, but it wasn't considered a crime or automatically turned them into murderers. It was recognised as legal, as done in defence.

I know, I know, I was finding excuses. It had just been so easy, so shockingly simple. The Invisibility Spell, which had given me some trouble, had been a more difficult task. The Avada, though, had been a piece of cake. It was staggering, and I vowed to use it, if at all, only with great care. But it was a very clean way to kill someone... I chuckled and then jerked back when my mount turned its head to me, looking at me steadily with those weird eyes. Even though the eyes were spooky, I liked the animal and it liked me. These creatures seemed to have a true affinity for death.

Suddenly, when we started our descent and I again was clinging tightly, watching the earth getting closer at a furious pace, I saw London, its streets and alleys filled with the people backlit by an almost finished sunset. The night and the darkness descended on the city along with us. A perfect time to fall into the trap.

I witnessed Harry giving me a doubtful look from the back of his horse, reflecting the concern and uncertainty we were in. I gave him a reassuring look back as I was looking forward to getting another chance to delve into the hidden secrets of the Department of Mysteries. From the joyful feeling that arose in me, I could sense that I loved the prospect of being able to break in again. The landing was bumpy, but I didn't care, as long as we finally had solid ground under our feet again.

We had landed in a deserted, gloomy and run-down alley, right in front of a broken phone booth that smelled really musty.

"Where are we?" Ron asked perplexed and he slid with relief from his - for him - invisible mount. Since he and Ginny were the only ones who couldn't see the creatures, I took my hat off to them for having the courage to ride on 'nothing' through the air. The two loved flying though, so perhaps that's where their bravery came from.

I too jumped down faster than you could blink, and much more successful than Ginny, Luna, and Neville, who also tried to get off the backs of their animals quickly, but thanks to my training I was very agile.

"That's the visitors' entrance," Harry explained while my horse poked me in the back and smooched me with its pointed dragon's snout, licking the blood from my cloak. The other animals investigated the garbage cans of the surrounding area. That was so disgusting! Apparently, the others thought so too, if the grimaces of their faces were anything to go by.

So we headed for the phone booth and squeezed in all together, something that got pretty crowded with six people. Harry unerringly reached for the keypad and I watched intently as he entered the number:

62442!

And since I was obsessed with logic and familiar with keypads, I immediately translated the number combination, spelling out the word M-A-G-I-C in my head.

Out of nowhere, an official woman's tinny-sounding voice gave us instructions and asked for the reason for our visit. After a helpless look to us, Harry replied:

"Rescue mission", and then a ping sounded and the elevator that was the red phone booth dropped abruptly under the ground and we arrived in the entrance hall of the Ministry.

It had not changed in the time since Christmas, except that it was completely deserted.

I mean, well, it was after hours, but I couldn't imagine that no one would be there, no security at all. Even the watchwizard's seat was empty! As our mates gazed admiringly at the hall, I looked at Harry and Harry looked back at me calculatingly, giving me an imperceptible nod that he thought it was very strange indeed that everything was so deserted. We went on, fast and hurried.

The uneasy feeling in my gut increased.

The others didn't notice our exchange but gawked at the magnificent hall. As empty as it was, it was quite impressive, with the dark, polished parquet floor on which our footsteps echoed almost like in a cathedral.

The black that prevailed here was fascinating, highlighting the ornate gold used for decoration, and the ceiling in its peacock blue splendour was truly overwhelming! The others even granted the tasteless, golden Fountain of Magical Brethren an overwhelmed look.

"Wow, wicked!"

"Yes, truly impressive!"

"Such splendour!"

These were their understandable exclamations as they followed us.

"Does it feel as weird to you as it does to me?" Harry whispered worriedly while the others still looked around in admiration.

"Yes, we are running into the trap like rabbits. Do you really want to expose Ron, Ginny, Neville and Luna to this danger?" I whispered emphatically.

"No. But you know them, they won't turn around. Are you scared?" he asked worriedly, giving me an uncertain look.

"The truth?" I asked, and he nodded. "No. And you?"

"I'm - curious? That's more like it. Come on, we have to go!" Harry ran like a driven man to the lifts in the adjoining room, opened one of the golden grates in front of the elevators and pushed the button for the ninth floor. Rumbling, the elevator began to move and we slid into the depths. My alertness increased with every second.

Back when I was here for the first time, I had been totally focused on myself, but it found it hard to reach that state with the others in my back, whose nervousness seemed to be reaching new heights.

The filigree grille slid open, revealing the long, windowless corridor I already knew and at the end of which was the plain, dark wooden door that provided access to the Department of Mysteries.

We stepped out of the elevator, hurrying toward the wooden door, while some could not stifle their hectic and nervous breathing, and I cast some non-verbal spells to check for detection or surveillance spells. As I had expected, even the lax spells of last time were gone, which seemed to confirm my and Harry's premonitions.

I tugged at his sleeve and shook my head because I had seen him watch my wand work out of the corner of his eye. Recognition had flashed in his eyes as he tracked the hand movements similar to those I had used for Umbridge's office.

The others followed behind us on soft feet, looking around in apprehension in the gloomy, uncomfortable environment.

And at my permission and request, Harry now opened the door of the Department of Mysteries, which proceeded without problems, as expected. Did the Death Eaters think we were stupid?

Everyone ran into the dark room beyond and stopped in the middle of the circular room illuminated by flickering blue light that cast restless shadows on the black stone of the walls. I hadn't entered yet and held the door open since I knew the pitfalls of the room and smiled. Without me, they would have fallen into the mousetrap of the DoM, but that's what they had me for.


I was just the last, or the second mouse and, as you know, those always get the cheese!

"These doors all look the same," Ron realised as keen as a razor a few crucial seconds too late.

"So many!" Ginny breathed in awe. Luna hummed dreamily and played with her blond curls, while Neville looked around anxiously.

I shook my head, aiming my wand at the door to the corridor that I was holding and spoke a Flagrate, causing the others to turn around as the flaming cross burned into the wood with a hissing sound and marked it.

"What?!" Harry said in wonderment and blinked at me questioningly, perplexed about my deliberate action because he didn't know that I was already familiar with the game we were playing here.

"What? You want to find the right door, don't you?" I replied succinctly and everybody gave me funny looks. With that, I let the door fall close, expecting the room to rotate.

As expected, the walls began to spin almost instantaneously, causing the others to catch their breath and when it ended and my marker showed us which door led back to freedom, I noticed Harry eying me sceptically. I returned his gaze provocatively and shrugged slowly. I sensed he guessed or knew more than he said, but that would have to wait.

I gestured to the doors so Harry would open one and he stepped up to the first door and rattled at it, but it wouldn't open. Hence, I walked up to him and used Alohomora. Now it opened up and I recognised the room that had also revealed itself to me the first time. Was there a system behind it?

"What is that?" Ron pointed to the basin and I answered quickly:

"That's the Room of Thought, also known as the Brain Room," I enlightened them and earned oohs and aahs for my knowledge.

"These are Aquavirius maggots!" Luna said, very determined, and everyone wheeled around in surprise; she was really strange.

"What are those?" Ron asked derogatorily.

"Something secret," she whispered worriedly, looking a little odd and very peculiar.

I had done some research after my break-in here and found out that this room was, as I said, described as the Room of Thought. We looked into the elongated room with the black writing desks on either side and a glass basin located in the centre of the room filled with a dark green liquid and floating, white, wobbly brains that had long tentacles. But all right, Luna, they were maggots, sure!

We were clearly wrong here and so I marked the door to this room, too.

Now came the next one and seeing what was behind it I was sure that the Ministry types had made this too easy for themselves and there really was a system behind it. It was the Death Chamber, which made cold shivers run down my spine. This unreal, sombre hall had access from both sides and an ancient, weathered stone archway with an almost unfathomable, wafting veil on the central pedestal. I saw the others staring into the hall, fascinated, and swung the door shut swiftly after the marking.

"Whoa, what was that? Downright creepy," Ron murmured, rubbing his arms as if he had goosebumps.

"The Death Chamber!" I replied in a whisper.

"Tell me, Hermione, how do you know all this? I mean, I thought, everything is so secret here?" Harry asked, accusation in his voice.

"Well, let's put it this way: I've been interested in this department for a while now."

And again, the round room had turned dizzyingly and Harry resolutely went to the next door. Here the scheme differed for the first time from my last visit and Harry rattled desperately at the door he had chosen.

Even my spells, no matter which, didn't manage to open it, and I mean, no matter which! It refused to open and so Harry pulled out the knife Sirius had given him the year before for Christmas. A magical knife that, when all other forms of magic failed, could cut open the lock and pick any lock. Only when he inserted it, the edge of the magical knife melted with a hissing sound, flowing down the door in a silvery rivulet. Harry pulled the handle back in horror and stared at it in astonishment.

"Woah!"

"Damn!"

"Fierce!"

"Oh well!" I said quite casually after the other astonished exclamations and marked the door.

"What might be behind that door?" Ginny asked uneasily and fearfully while we all just shrugged.

We opened the next door and I stated at once:

"Oh, the Time Room, how fascinating!" and saw how everyone's eyes rolled in reaction to me and my well-read and knowing manner.

"Hold on! Stop, that's it, we have to go through there, I know it from my dreams!" Harry crossed the threshold confidently and we followed without hesitation. I quickly marked the door and then pulled it closed behind me.

We were standing in an extravagant, surreal room full of clocks. The room was full of ticking clocks and timepieces of all sizes and types, including grandfather clocks and small pocket watches. The ticking of the clocks made you doubly aware of the transience of all being.

It sent a strong message: time is running!

We passed sight glasses in which time lapses and evolutions took place, and I also recognised a display case filled with Time-Turners, as I had been allowed to own one for a year myself. It was impressive! From all sides, it shimmered and reflected the light emanating from a strikingly large bell jar. Inside was an egg that evolved into a bird that lived, aged and then became an egg again in quick succession. Wow, I wanted to get to the bottom of it; explore it.

But there was really no time for that! We all walked in amazement through the rather loud room, with the ticking and tocking of countless clocks.

With a pounding heart and a bad feeling, we approached the door at the other side of the room that Harry was aiming for.


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