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HARRY POTTER and the WITCHES' EYE by Simon Hartwell

Format: Short story
Chapters: 12
Word Count: 15,767

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Mild Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature

Genres: Humor, Action/Adventure
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, McGonagall, Draco, Fleur, Fred, George, OC
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 01/22/2014
Last Chapter: 10/27/2017
Last Updated: 10/27/2017

The Witches Eye has been stolen from the BeauxBatons School and call upon Hogwarts for help.
Harry and his friends journey first to Beauxbatons then onto Durmstrangs to retrieve the Eye.

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Harry filed the last paper and closed the cabinet draw, watching the clock as the second hand completed its last cycle, ticking slowly to 5 o'clock.
Yes! Finally, he thought.
He picked up his briefcase, left his office at the Ministry for Magic and walked slowly to the elevator along with most of the other wizards and witches that worked there.
Just like yesterday, he thought. And the day before and the day before that, and just like tomorrow and the next and the one after that, the same thing every day, FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE!
Ever since the battle with Voldemort and the destruction of Hogwarts, Harry and Ron had been working as Interns at the Ministry of Magic and at first it had seemed wonderful and magical, every day something new. That had lasted about a week. Then it was repetition, the same thing over and over. File this, fetch me that, he was Harry Potter, a name that no longer conjured whispers and stares. Now it was just Potter, where are you boy. I need...........
'Hi there, Harry.'
Harry smiled and turned to see his best friend Ron Weasly behind him.
'Hi there, Ron, good day?'
'Not bad, you?'
'Usual,' Harry replied with a sigh. 'Sometimes I think I miss the old days.'
'Are you mad!?' Ron exclaimed. 'We nearly died. EVERY year it was something! Give me the quiet of the office any day. What you need is a holiday, we should go away. We could go to Egypt.'
Every since Ron's first visit to Egypt, he’d wanted to go back. He still carried the family photo and talked about it all the time.
'Not a bad idea that Ron, I'll talk to Ginny.'
Harry and Ron queued up as one after another, a wizard or witch shot up one of the chimneys in a flash of green fire.
'See you tomorrow, Ron.'
'See you, Harry.'
Harry shot up the chimney and down into his home. From the outside, it was an old rundown, abandoned shack on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. Inside it was a large, well-established home with all the modern comforts of magic. Every since his first visit to the Weasly's home he had wanted something similar for his own, much much different from the home he grow up in on Privet Drive with the Dursleys. Here it was warm and inviting, fireplaces ablaze keeping the chill off the sea outside, large comfy sofas and armchairs filled the lounge. In one corner a Wizard's chess set was laid out, pieces dotted about the board as Harry and Ron were in midgame, in fact it was very much like the old Gryffindor common room, where he and Ginny had spent so many evenings with their friends whilst they were at Hogwarts
Large Grandfather Father Clocks tick tocked loudly, each one showing a different dial, one the muggle time, the next the location of family and friends, the next the different chores and tasks that were done or still to be done. Harry's didn’t notice the ‘Buy books and clothing for Hogwarts’ as he went through into the kitchen having heard noises and assumed Ginny had come calling.
Ginny was standing by the stove watching the pots stirring, the chicken in the oven basting and the kettle pouring steaming hot water into an impatient Teapot.
'Come on, come on' it complained. Master Potter is home and I need to let the tea brew, come on come on.'
Harry smiled, it was the same every day, but it eased his worries, calmed his thoughts, and made him warm inside.
It was home.
Ginny turned excitedly towards Harry,
'Harry, you'll never guess. Hogwarts has been rebuilt, it’s finished and they are taking in students again.'
Harry felt a pang of nostalgia and regret. He did miss the old days at Hogwarts and sometimes the bitterness that it had all been spoilt rose up within him. He tried to suppress the feelings and put on a smile for Ginny.
‘That’s great, good for them.’
Ginny wasn't listening she was talking excitedly about the books they would need to buy. ‘ We need to get Dark Art Defences, Spells and Incantations, Potions Level 5, new robes, new cauldrons, new everything. Saturday would be a good day to go to Diagon Alley, don’t you think? It’s going to cost a bit, good thing we never spent that reward money the Ministry gave us.’
Harry still wasn't listening;
‘Ron was talking about taking a holiday, to Egypt, what do you think? We could go in September after the school holidays; it will be cheaper then and cooler’.
Ginny had stopped talking and was looking at Harry with amusement
'Holiday, what holiday? We’re not going on holiday, Harry, haven't you been listening, we're going back. We got our letters today, we're going to Hogwarts!'
Harry was stunned; he hadn't heard it right, He couldn’t have, back to Hogwarts?
Ginny handed him his letter.

MR H Potter
The old Shack
On the cliff
By the sea

Harry turned it over and saw the familiar ruby seal of Hogwarts.
With shaking hands, he slipped his fingers beneath the flap, broke the seal, and took out the parchment inside.

Head Mistress: Minerva McGonagall
Dear Mr Potter
We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to complete your year seven studies and graduation.
Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment
Term begins on September 1st. We await your owl by no later than 31st July
Yours sincerely
Deputy Headmaster Professor Flitwick
'No way,' he breathed.
Turning to Ginny he suddenly let out a loud yell. 'WE'RE GOING BACK TO HOTWARTS!' He grabbed Ginny and spun her around. He read the letter again and again hardly daring to believe it. This list of books was daunting, only Hermione would be happy to see a list that long.
‘Hermione, Ron.’
Harry and Ginny had the same thoughts at the same time.
‘If we have our letters...................,’ said Harry.
‘They must have theirs,’ finished Ginny.
At that moment, an owl flew in through the window and dropped something onto the table.
‘It’s an Exclaimer,’ said Ginny.
Similar to the Howler that gave Ron angry telling off for flying the car to Hogwarts their second year, an Exclaimer was for good news.
Ginny grabbed it first, grinning at Harry in victory and opened it.
‘HARRY,’ it yelled. ‘HARRY, I GOT..... WE,’ Hermione’s voice cut in,
‘WHAT?’ Ron's voice sounding confused.
‘WE GOT,’ Hermione explained in her superior tone she always took when explaining things she thought were obvious to all
Harry and Ginny both turned towards the lounge to see Hermione and Ron arrive in a flash of green fire. They rushed towards each other hugging and talking excitedly when another flash of green announced the arrival of George,
'Hello you lot. I see you got your letters too.'
'You got one as well?’ Ron questioned. 'But you were two years ahead of us'
'But we never finished, Fred and I. We left, if you remember. Well we've been invited back to complete the seventh year and graduate.'
Harry, Ron and Ginny all cheered, slapping George on the back and including him into their plans to visit Diagon Alley that weekend.
'Hang on,' said Hermione. 'You said 'WE'VE' been invited back, surely, I mean, they didn't send .......’
Blushing, Hermione turned away, hoping no one would see her brushing away a small tear.
With a small smile, George said, 'Never could get anything passed you Hermione, come on out Fred.'
With a loud, 'WE'RE GOING BACK TO HOGWARTS!' Fred appeared.
Fred stepped out of George; which would have freaked out anyone in the muggle world but Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny had been around ghosts for many years whilst they were at Hogwarts. They were nevertheless still startled.
'FRED! Ron yelled with glee and threw his arms around Fred, which of course went straight through his middle, pitching Ron face down on the carpet.
'Oowww,' he groaned
'Ron get up,' Hermione said crossly. 'Fred it's wonderful to see you again.'
Fred beamed as he looked around at the surprised faces of his friends and family, tears coursed down all faces even his ghostly face as they all digested seeing Fred again since his death during the battle with Voldemort.
Ginny was in floods of tears.
'Oh Fred I have missed you so much.’ Her hand stroked his ghostly arm.
Ron, having brushed himself of, stood with Harry, both trying to be stoic but still tears glistened on their faces. Only George remained dry eyed.
'Come on you lot, its only Fred' let’s all sit down. Harry I think your teapot is going to have a stroke if you don't pour that tea out soon.'

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The gang used flu powder to get to Diagon Alley. They had agreed out a sense of nostalgia to
meet at the Wesley’s home first and all set off together to pick up their essentials for school.
They still could not believe it was happening. It was like going for the first time all over
again and the excitement was palpable amongst them. As they stood in Diagon Alley, they
were all talking and pointing as one, no one was listening as the exclaimed and nudged each
other, each caught up with the sight of the Alley, once again a thriving hub of magical
mystery and enterprise
‘There’s the Cauldron’s Shop’ exclaimed Hermione

‘Look there’s the Eeylops Owl Emporium’ Ron pointed out

‘Ollivander’s back! yelled Harry

‘Come on’

With that Harry took off down the Alley, the others only a moment or two behind him.

The tattered old sign was back up, looking even worse for wear then usual

Ollivander’s – makers of fine wands since 382 BC

They burst into the shop all shouting greetings, so happy were they to see the shop back up
and running.

‘Good to see you back Sir’ said Harry shaking his hand

‘So good to see you, how are you feeling, you look much better now’ enquired Hermione.

Still shaking Harry’s hand Ollivander’s beamed, laughing along with the gang, as happy to
see them all as they were to see him.

‘All is well, thank you Hermione, very busy of course, very busy, First term at Hogwarts
since, you know when. New students and a few damaged wands from the older ones that need
replacing, Can’t stop to chat I’m afraid, so busy very busy’

Ollivander was ushering them out of the shop as he spoke

‘Come again soon, when I am not so very busy, so good to see you all again, delightful, delightful’

With that he let Harry’s hand go, finally, turned and shuffled back into his shop

‘Who’s next, come along, very busy’

The gang looked at each other a little perplexed; they were in and out of the shop within a
minute, no time at all to catch up with Ollivander, no time at all.

‘He’s not quite back to his old self you know’ Explained Hagrid making them all jump.

So surprised by Ollivander they had failed to notice the giant form of Hagrid approaching.


They all yell, quickly forgetting any hurt feelings they had felt at the arrival of another old
friend. They crowded around patting him on the back, shaking his hand, hugs from Ginny and Hermione.
‘Can’t stop now, gotta see a man about a two headed snake, com’on see me when ya get to Hogwarts, we’ll have a nice cuppa tea.’

With that Hagrid was off. Clearly in a hurry as went down the Alley, people just managing to step out of his way.

Ron groaned ‘a two head snake’

‘It’s only a snake Ron’ said George punching his on the arm

‘Only a snake, remember that is like saying Fluffy is only a dog or Aragog was only a spider’

Ron had his arms stretched out wide mimicking the huge size both these creatures had become.

Harry laugh, ‘it’ll be alright, remember when he bought that dragon’

Hermione laugh aloud ‘oh gosh yes, it burnt his beard with its baby fire’
They all laughed and started moving down the cobbled lane, taking in all the sites, new sites in many places, but all familiar.

They entered Flourish and Blotts and breathed in the smells of leather and paper. Books were
piled everywhere you looked, great tall stacks reaching higher than any could reach. But
Flourish and Blotts was a magic book store, you simply stated the book you wanted and it
moved itself from the stack and floated down to the sales clerk, who was ready and waiting to
ring it up in the till. Hermione, of course, bought way more than was on the list declaring
that apart from Hogwarts this was her favourite place to be, before hurriedly including the flat
she was sharing with Ron.

They went from shop to shop, buying their potion ingredients, their cauldrons, scales and of course new robes for all.

Harry insisted on buying them each the latest Nimbus broomstick The Lightening Bolt

The only sad moment was when they passed by the Owl Emporium again, on their way

‘Aren’t you going in Harry’ Hermione asked tentatively.

She knew the loss of Hegwig was still a sadness he carried with him.

‘No, I think I’ll leave that for another time’ said Harry moving quickly on.

‘Come on; let’s get some butter beers at the Leaky Cauldron then head on home.’

With the mood lighten, their smiles and warm glows returned as they drudged up the alley
arm in arm, tired from a long day’s shopping but happy, very very happy.

Chapter 3: PLATFORM 9 ¾
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They all met up outside Kings Cross to a great sense of déjà vu, The Weasly's turning up just in time, all trunks, bundles, cages and chaos. Mrs Weasly fussing over everyone, it was just like old times.
Harry dear, have you got everything, all your books, and all your clothes?
Harry grinned, no matter how old he got Mrs Weasly would always see him as that young boy she first met all those years back. He felt a great surge of warmth and love, and disguised the need to blink away sudden tears pricking his eye by returning her embrace with a fierce hug.
‘Thank you Mrs Weasly, yes, I have everything I need, thank you.’
Mrs Weasly stepped back beaming, tears in her own eyes, appreciating the returned affections from a boy she loved as one of her own.
‘Hello Mr Weasly,’ Harry said clearing his throat a couple of times first, turning to greet the man standing next to her, shaking the offered hand equally as warmly.
‘Hello Harry, everything all right?’
‘Yes Sir, everything is great.’
They held the grip and eye contact just for a second or two longer, conveying as men do their affections for each other, before both clearing their throats and looking away.
Ginny, with Hermione, both pushed their carts passed them all, both unashamedly dabbing their eyes and muttering ‘Men!’ not so quietly under their breaths.
Ron stepped up grinning,
‘Barking mad that one, I tell you, Hello Harry’
‘Hello Ron’

Harry could not remember when he felt happier, light of heart and mind, he wanted to laugh out loud, he was so happy. A whole year at Hogwarts, a normal school year with his only worry the N.E.W.Ts (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests ) the following June. They turned and walked to towards platform 9 ¾.

This must be what it felt like to have a family, a real one, parents that loved you and brothers and sisters that jollied and joked as they walked along. Harry laughed out loud when he spied Fred poking his head out the back of George’s and giving him a cheeky wink before slipping back. Many muggles gave them strange looks; after all they must look quite a sight, but were in too much of a hurry to give them more than a passing thought. Seeing a ghostly head on the other hand would be quite another matter so Fred was keeping out of sight until they got onto their platform.

‘Here we are, platform 9 ¾’ said Mrs Weasly.
‘George you go through first’
George sauntered up to the pillar and with a quick look round, walked straight into it, disappearing from view.

This was the magic gateway to platform 9 ¾ unknown to muggles they had to be careful to not draw attention to themselves, disappearing into brickwork would certainly cause a stir.

Harry and Ginny went next, pushing their trolleys through the gateway first; then standing, savouring the moment they went through hand in hand.

Ron, oblivious to the romantic opportunity, lost in the memory of his first time, went through at a run, Hermione, with another muttering of ‘men!’ Walked through with the serenity and calm she felt a 7th Year student should display, inside however her tummy fluttered excitedly and her mouth could not fight the smile that cracked her serene expression.

On the platform it was all hustle and bustle, the Hogwarts Express was alongside, smoke and steam puffing from its engine, guards were helping out, lifting trunks into the many carriages that trailed behind, getting ready to be off exactly at 11:00.

Crowds of students, parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, dogs, cats and friends, filled the platform along its length, the noise of their general conversation, shouts of recognition as friends met again, shouts of annoyance as dogs chased cats through the legs of all, the cry of owls in their cages, all a hubbub of familiarity that washed over them all.

Harry and co stopped just to breathe it all in, wanting to enjoy every second of their return to Hogwarts.
Harry inhaled the familiar smell,

I am really going back, he thought.

He became aware that it was getting quieter, slowly the noise died away to a deathly silence, all eyes had turned towards them.

Harry, Hermione, Ron, George (with Fred poking his head out alongside his brothers) and Ginny, all looked at each other wondering what they should do, becoming uncomfortable under the silent gaze of so many people. Suddenly one person started to clap, quickly followed by another and another, until soon everyone was clapping and cheering. It went on and on.

‘Better get on the train you lot otherwise this lot will miss it; I doubt anything can stop this train leaving at 11:00’ said Mr Weasly,

Walking down the platform, the clapping and cheering still going on, hearty slaps on the back and shaking of hands for them all. Harry and his friends started to enjoy the popularity, this must be what it feels like to be a star. Spotting Neville hanging out of the window, waving wildly, the gang clambered aboard and walked through to a long carriage with bench seats facing forward and back along its length filled with familiar faces.

‘Thought that must be you lot, with all that commotion outside’ Neville said, greeting them all with handshakes and hugs, ‘come on in, we’re all here.’

They made their way down the carriage seeing all the familiar faces smiling back, shaking hands, hugging, waving to those further away. They couldn’t help but see all those faces that were not there, bringing lumps to their throats, taking the edge off happy re-unions. Everyone had had the same thoughts as they had boarded the train so they all started busying themselves, giving their old friends time to collect themselves and regain their spirits.

The whistle blew, last goodbyes were yelled out the windows to those staying behind on the platform and with a loud explosion of steam the engine pulled forward, carriages began to roll and they were off to Hogwarts.

They heard a loud cheer behind them, from one of the carriages, getting louder and louder as other carriages joined in. Harry looked at Ron and their excited spirits returned, surging up through their bodies as they both let out a cheer, echoed by their friends and fellow students, yelling out all their grief first, replaced with their excitement and sheer joy at returning to school. George let off some fireworks that whizzed around the carriage with sparks and bangs as they started taking their seats for the long journey to Hogwarts.

Chapter 4: HOGWARTS
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The train finally puffed into Hogwarts Station and the students spilled out onto the platform, all eager to get to the castle
First Years this way – a familiar voice boomed out over the hubbub of noise
As one the student body cheered and clapped with cries of
Hagrid! Hagrid! Hagrid!
Hagrid stood towering over everyone, part giant he was the tallest man they had ever met, beaming with pleasure, dabbing tears of joy from his eyes with a table cloth he used as a handkerchief.
Now now, ‘hanks fur that ‘hanks fur that. First Years follow me, 2nd to 6th years to the carriages, 7th Years, your transportation’s in the waiting room’
Spying Harry, Ron and Hermione trying to get through the crowds towards him he called out over the crows
Hi ya ‘Arry, will meet up at the castle, times getting on, can’t be late
Harry waved and tuned towards the waiting room wondering what transportation 7th years used to get to the castle

To his delight, broomsticks were lined up inside, not just any broomsticks either, Firebolts2012s, the latest and fastest model on the market. Eagerly he took the stick nearest to him as the other 7th years crowded round, exclaiming over their good fortune. Most had never had the chance to ride a firebolt, none had ridden the latest model, but most of all, nearly all had not ridden any broom since being at Hogwarts.

Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione held back as the other 7th Years kicked off the ground and flew into the night sky towards the castle. Looking at each other, grins over all their faces they kicked off and with a whoop of joy flew through the air as fast as their brooms would take them. Soon they caught and passed the others, zooming towards the towers and turrets of Hogwarts, every window lit in welcome.

Harry and Ron finally touched down and raced up the main staircase towards the great hall and the banquet waiting for all, they marvelled at the rebuild, it was all exactly the same, like it never had been damaged at all.

Hope they put in some decent heating at least, moaned Ron, and sorted those draughts out’

Later again Mr Potter, Mr Weasly Professor McGonagall, Headmistress McGonagall actually stood at the top of the stairs, the 7th Years arrayed before her on the steps below.

Sorry Professor said Harry

Sorry Professor echoed Ron

Both grinning up at the Headmistress McGonagall until they spotted Draco Malfoy standing just off to one side, trying to look like he wasn’t bothered he stood alone.

What’s he doing here? Ron said in an audible whisper

Harry shrugged not taking his eyes off of Draco, not trusting himself to speak.

Year 7 will go through to the hall first, before the other students arrive and take their seats with their old houses.

As the students filed through into the great hall, Professor McGonagall held back so she was abreast of Ron, Harry, Ginny and Hermione

I was as surprised as you when Draco was invited to return this year.

But don’t you decide who comes to Hogwarts? Questioned Ron

Before the Professor could respond
‘Honestly don’t you boys read’ Said Hermione with extra emphasis on the words Boys and

Flashing a grin at Ron and Harry, who grinned back, recognising the throwback of the old Hermione

I read in the latest edition of A History of Hogwarts that it’s the sorting hat that decides who will be invited to attend the coming year at Hogwarts; It would have chosen for Draco to return.

All thoughts of Draco vanished as they entered the great hall, with its long tables and magical ceiling echoing the night sky outside, candles floating high, providing illumination along with giant candelabra’s dotted around the hall.

As they took their seats they heard the noise of the other students arriving, increasing as they approached and entered the hall.

Quickly taking their seats the buzz of the conversation steadied to a loud din as they waited for the teachers to enter and take their seats at the top table and the first years to be sorted into their houses.

Chapter 5: QUIDDITCH
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School had settled in its routine of classes, feasts, fun and laughter in the common room, everyone was happy to be back at Hogwarts and eagerly waiting the start of the Quidditch season. As the months rolled into November, the weather turned chilly heralding the beginning of winter.

Harry, Ron, George and Ginny walked onto the Quidditch pitch full of confidence. The sun shone in a blue sky, the pennants snapping in the breeze and the grass holding on to its green of summer, a perfect day for Quidditch. It seemed everybody had come to watch the match; the stands were filled with students grouped in their houses, their colours worn proudly and the teachers pavilion was also full. Neville and Luna who had made surprisingly good chasers made up their team.

They were playing a Teacher's Seven to mark the start of the Quidditch season. Professor McGonagall was Captain/Chaser, with Professor Flit (seeker) Madam Hooch (Keeper) Madam Prince (Chaser) and some new teachers Harry did not recognise, Professor Smead, (Beater) who he would later learn was the new Defence against the Dark Arts Teacher, Professor Marks (Chaser) the new potions master and Mrs Jones (Beater) as she preferred to be called, teaching a new class at Hogwarts, Home and Health.

The whistle blew and the quaffle was thrown into the air and everyone rose up high on their broomsticks. Harry hadn't wanted to embarrass the teachers and had instructed his team to take it easy. Within seconds they were a goal down. Professor McGonagall had grabbed the quaffle and flown straight for their goal, Professor Smead had whacked a bludger directly at Ron who was keeping goal, smacking him right in the stomach, knocking him off balance as the quaffle sailed into the open goal. GOAL!!! For the Teachers, Teachers lead by 10points. Very quickly his team were brushed aside again, Mrs Jones barging her broomstick into Ginny's as she went to collect a pass from Neville

FOUL cried the crowd but the referee waved play on feigning she had seen nothing.

Professor Marks now had the Quaffle and was racing downfield; George was knocked off his broom by a solid whack from a bludger sent spinning his way by a fierce whack from Professor Smead

Only Ron now stood between Professor Marks and another goal. As he raced towards him, quaffle under one arm, he whispered under his breath and flicked his fingers up in the air. At the same time, Ron suddenly rose 20 feet higher leaving the Goal Hoops undefended

GOAL!!! Another 10 points for Teachers!!

FOUL!!!! Cried the crowd

The referee was busy cleaning her glasses and waved play on

Very quickly the House team realised whilst they were taking it easy the teachers certainly were not. Harry called a timeout and gathered his team together, most rubbing bruised shins or elbows. OK let's play our game and see if they can keep up with us, we are younger, fitter and faster. Remember our drills and we'll win easily. Kicking off the house team rose together and set off racing down the pitch passing the ball quickly. The Teachers were caught out by this change of pace and conceded their first goal.

'Finally started to play Potter' McGonagall taunted,

‘I was beginning to wonder whether your reputation was all hot air'

The teachers had the quaffle and begun to fly towards the House side. Whilst they may be older they were much more experienced at both Quidditch and flying. The three chasers were flying in formation, McGonagall in the middle with the Quaffle and then she flipped up and over the chaser on the right, who flipped with the chaser on his left, who flipped with McGonagall. Over and over they were flipped up and over each other, the ball passing between them. It was an impressive display of synchronized flying and the ball flew into the topmost goal, leaving Ron weaving right, then left as he had tried to cover all three goalposts.

The house team came on again, running one of their practiced drills, Luna was racing ahead of Professor McGonagall when she felt a drag on her broom, the professor was tugging her broomstick, next thing she felt a painful thud on her arm as a bludger was sent spinning her way by Mrs Jones, causing her to drop the Quaffle. FOUL FOUL cried the commentator and most of the crowd but the Referee again claimed she had seen nothing, sun in her eyes, 'play on, play on’ giving Harry a wink and a grin as he flew past glaring at the injustice. The teachers had the Quaffle and the three chasers begun to spin on their brooms as the tore down the pitch, passing the quaffle between them. It was impossible to see which one had it at any one time as they were spinning so fast. As they approached the goals they spilt each heading to one of the three goalposts. Ron, feeling quite dizzy flew in front of the topmost goal only to see the quaffle fly through the lower left. The Slytherin house were the only ones cheering on the Teachers, but their cheers soon turned to cries of disgust as Ginny and Luna both threw up as they hovered over their stand, having tried to catch the spinning teachers using the same move. This raised the biggest cheer of the day by far.

Suddenly Harry was off, racing towards his own goal, he had seen the glint of gold that could only mean the snitch. This is where his team would win the day; he was fast and would catch the snitch. Suddenly Professor Flitwick past him like he was standing still, leaving him open mouthed as he raced towards the golden globe.

Harry bent low over his broom trying to getting every ounce of speed out he could. He and Flitwick raced after the snitch as it darted and dodged just ahead. Harry was a great flyer as was the Professor and together they put on a fine display of control and precision flying with loops, dives, climbs, twists and turns. Professor Flitwick small lighter stature gave him the edge in speed and his fingers closed over the snitch just before Harry's


Everyone cheered and clapped as the Teachers Team flow information straight up then parted each throwing up sparks and fireworks that exploded with loud bangs and whooshes, painting the sky with the four house banners. Harry's team cheered with along too, a little disappointed but in awe of the teacher's skill and deserved win.

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Harry and his friends were eager to start classes again, once again to learn and practice magic. One of their first classes was the Defence against the Dark Arts with their new teacher Professor Smead. There was nothing particularly striking about the Professor, an average man, average height, average weight, just average. When they thought back to their previous teachers he was a little disappointing. But, Harry thought, he knows how to fly, remembering the Professor from their Quidditch match.

The lesson was an update on one of their very first ones, only this time there were piles of feathers in front of each student.

Professor Smead explained

‘In your first year you learnt to raise one feather with the spell Wingardium Leviosa.

I now wanted them to raise all the feathers in front of you using the same spell but without speaking. Use your wands to indicate the movement and direction you want the feathers to go but only think the spell. Magic is like a second language, your incantations need to come directly from your mind’
The class took out their wands and started to gesture and point at the feathers. The feathers sat their ignoring all the efforts much to the amusement of the Professor. In fact such were the actions and face pulling of his students; he fell off his chair he was laughing so hard.

He did manage to congratulate the only student to successfully manage the spell between hiccups and bouts of laughter. Hermione of course had managed the spell with little effort, her feathers floating above her head in a gently rotating circle.

Before the end of the class, all the students had managed the feat and had thoroughly enjoyed sending the feathers aloft, shooting them at each other, before dumping the lot over the Professor who took it all in great humour and was an instant success with the class.

As they left, all talking loudly and at the same time a cry went up from the courtyard.

As one they rushed down the stairs, through the corridors, joined by other students as they crowded out of their classrooms, pushing and shoving to get outside to see what the commotion was.

A gigantic flying house, drawn by a dozen winged golden horses as large as elephants, flew through the air towards the castle. Its once immaculate powder blue extra was scorched in many places. As the horses hooves touched the ground with a giant crash the courtyard was flooded with magical light and teachers appeared all around the square, along the balconies and grounds, wands at the ready, alerted to the unannounced and unscheduled visit my the castle’s defences, renewed and enhanced during the rebuild. As the carriage landed, its golden wheels showing more signs of damage the horses snorted and pawed at the ground. Hagrid rushed out into the square ignoring the angry shout from Professor McGonagall and quickly calmed the horses, his giant size a match for theirs. As soon as the carriage had settled, out leaped Fleur Delacour, not waiting for the steps to be in place such was her urgency. She looked around widely until she spotted Professor McGonagall. All strength seemed to leave her, her shoulders sagged and she started to shake and sob. Other girls and boys dressed in the Beauxbatons uniform started to emerge from the carriage, all were unkempt and dishevelled, a million miles away from the immaculate image and pose they had displayed during the TriWizard Tournament.

The Professor quickly took charge

‘Professor Flit, Mrs Jones, take them through to the dining hall and see if we can get them something to eat. Fleur come with me’

As the Professor put her arm around Fleur’s shoulders she spied Harry, Hermione and Ron in the crowd.

‘I suppose you three had better come too, where I can keep an eye on you’
Ushering the four young wizards and witches in front of her, Professor McGonagall herded them through the corridors to an empty classroom, where a big pot of tea and a plate of sandwiches were already waiting on the table. Ron went straight over and helped himself, stopping with half a sandwich in his mouth

‘What?’ he said, his voice muffled by the food

Hermione turned to the others

‘Why is he ALWAYS eating?’

Even Fleur managed a thin smile at her incredulous tone.

‘Bill’s the same’ she said fondly.

Once they were all seated, cups of steaming tea in front of them, Fleur told them why she has arrived in such dramatic fashion.

‘When Madam Maxime learned that Voldermort was gathering his forces to attack Hogwarts she pulled together the strongest of us to join you and fight him. But before we could leave, the Wizards of Durmstrangs, together with Goblins arrived during the night and took us all prisoner. We were unable to come to your aid, we’re so sorry.’

Fleur’s voice broke at the last and she quickly took a sip of tea to regain her composure.

‘For the last year we have been held prisoner within the walls of the Academy then this morning they were gone, and they took the Witches’ Eye with them’

Ron spluttered
‘aww that’s gross, what would that want with a witches’ eye?

‘It’s not that kind of eye’ informed the Professor, her thoughts clearly turning over the problem.

‘I think we should let Fleur get some rest then all meet in my office in an hour, I need some time to think’

She raised her hands to forestall the arguments that tumbled out of lips of all gathered there.

‘I know you are all keen to run off and help but no one, I repeat NO ONE, is to leave the school or do anything other than come to my study in an hour. AM I CLEAR?’

The Professor gave a stern look to each and every one of them, waiting for them to nod their acknowledgement before fixing her stare to the next.

All squirmed under her gaze, with Harry and Ron colouring a little with guilt whilst they tried to look innocent of any such thoughts.

Satisfied the Professor swept out the room, leaving behind a hubbub of noise as they began to ask more questions of Fleur. Ron helped himself to another sandwich.

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Harry, Hermione and Ron walked up to the stone gargoyle that guarded the entrance to the office held by the current Headmaster or Mistress, Dumbledore's office. It still triggered a pang in his heart whenever he thought of Professor Dumbledore.

'Chocolate Frog'

Harry gave the password and waited as the gargoyle sprung to life and slowly started to revolve. Stepping onto the moving spiral staircase they were carried upwards to the polished oak door with the brass door knocker.

He lifted the handle and allowed it to fall, enjoying the loud boom sound it made.

'Come in Mr Potter, Mr Weasly, Miss Granger

Turning the handle, Harry entered the circular room followed by the others.

Harry was pleased to see it was still very much the way it always was. The room had a clutter that was comforting, the walls lined with painting of previous Headmasters and Mistresses of Hogwarts all fast asleep in their chairs. He searched quickly and found the latest addition, Albus Dumbledore, dressed in his usual robes, long white beard down to his waist. Just as his eyes moved away he saw the eyes open, deep blue with a twinkle of humour, a wink then they both closed again, his chest rising and falling in sleep.

'Come in, take a seat we do not have a lot of time'
They each took a seat in front of McGonagall's desk, Harry kept glancing up again at Dumbledore's painting hoping to catch a glimpse of the old man awake again.

The Professor watched from behind the desk, saying nothing, allowing Harry a little time with his thoughts.

'I like what you have done with the place Professor'

'Why thank you Harry, as you will see, I have kept it pretty much the same as Albus had it; a very practical man.

They all took in the room, with its bookshelves and cupboards. On one shelf sat the sorting hat, old patched and ragged reminding Harry of his first day at Hogwarts and the Sorting Ceremony. He wondered as he had before whether events would have unfolded differently had he been sorted into Slytherin House. Next to it was the glass case that held the sword of Godric Gryffindor, the large rubies in its hilt and along its silver blade catching the light from the candles that lit the room making it sparkle and shine. He remembered both the Hat and the Sword coming to his aid in the Chamber of Secrets when he slayed the Basilisk and destroyed the first horcruxes with the Basilisk fang coated in its venom. So many memories held in this room.

Professor McGonagall cleared her throat bringing Harry back to the present and the situation in hand.

'I have gathered you here to discuss the theft of the Witches' Eye. We need to make plans and preparations if we are to retrieve this artefact from the Durmstrangs.'

'If?' exclaimed Hermione,

'The witches Eye is the most important magical artefact we witches have, we cannot leave it in the hands of dark wizards!'

‘I quite agree Miss Granger but we should not underestimate what a perilous journey it will be. We have many obstacles to overcome and the danger will be immense. DurmStrang will not simply hand back the Eye because we ask for it'

'What exactly is the Eye, Professor? Queried Harry

'To most, the Witches Eye is just a clear glass lens which magnifies objects placed in front of it. To the three blind Oracles it is an immensely powerful tool to gaze into the future, they have been accredited to have predicted many events down through the ages'

'Down through the ages, just how old are these witches?' asked Ron

'The current three are very old, much older than I, but there have been many such Witches through the ages'

'And they are always blind, must make them difficult to find, a talent for Prophecy and Blind' mused Ron

'Well,' The Professor shifted uncomfortably, finding the witches with a talent for Prophecy is the hard part, and the blind part comes after.'

It took a moment for this to filter through their thoughts and as usual Hermonie was the quickest to grasp the implications.

'THAT’S barbaric!' she exclaimed 'blinded! Deliberately blinded!

Professor McGonagall held up her hand to quieten the outrage of her students.

'No one is forced any longer, not for the last century at least. The blinded spell used is a self actuated spell, meaning they conjure it themselves, no one blinds them, they blind themselves. Being one of the Three is considered quite an honour. When I was a young girl it was my hope that I would become one of the Three but my talents did not lie in Divination. Now what the Durmstrangs' didn't know, what many do not know is that the Witches Eye is in fact two parts, the Lens and the Socket'

'And the Socket is still at the Beauxbatons Academy’ Ron Interjected, his face beaming as proudly looked around the group

'Precisely Mr Weasly' sniffed Professor McGonagall, slightly miffed he had stolen the moment.

'Now as of two days ago the Durmstrangs Wizards left Beauxbatons so we will need to go there first, check that they have not returned and ensure everyone is safe before we head to the Durmstrang institute to get the Eye., besides we should visit the Oracles.

Professor McGonagall looked around the group as each one nodded their agreement with her summation.

'A small carefully chosen team will succeed where a larger one would not’ explained Professor McGonagall,

‘We’ll need to a good mix of skills and experience’

‘Who do you have in mind’ Said Harry, echoing the others thoughts.

‘Well I have given this a great deal of thought and came up with,

Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid, George, Fred, Nicola, the witch from Beauxbatons, Draco and myself.

DRACO! Exploded Harry

At the same time as

Hagrid? Questioned Hermione

At the same time as

‘You?’ Exclaimed Ron, ‘aren’t you a bit.......well, old for this?

Professor McGonagall chose to answer this question first. ‘Old? OLD! I may be a little more advanced in years then you, but I am every bit as capable Mr Weasly or do you doubt my magical skills. Perhaps you would like to try your wand against mine in a duel.....

Well? No, I thought not?
Professor McGonagall sniffed, muttered ‘old indeed’ and turned to Hermione,

‘Hagrid is half giant, we will need is strength and abilities I am sure of that.’

‘But he is so kind and gentle, he cries over everything; surely this task will be too taxing for him’

‘I agree Hagrid has taken to his human side a little too sensitively but never forget he is half giant and that strength, determination and anger is still there.’

Turning last to Harry, ‘we need Draco. We will be entering Durmstrang, a school that has been training its students in the dark arts for years. Draco has had similar training and who knows what we will face once we are inside the castle. His knowledge will be invaluable and he is the best potions student we have.'

Harry looked accusingly at the Sorting Hat

The Hat stirred and came to life

'Something on your mind Potter'

'I was wondering why you invited Draco Malfoy back to Hogwarts, after all he and his family have done. They all supported Voldermort, Lucis and Draco are both death eaters, they were, are evil'

'Evil you say, evil? I sense great things in Draco, great things. He was led to the dark side but I sense good in him' explained the Hat.

'Oh please' scoffed Harry, 'next you'll be telling me He's my Father!'

'Father, Father? What are you talking about?' puzzled Professor McGonagall,

Ron was looking at Harry as if he were mad, only Hermione was laughing, both at the quip and the confused looks.
'Wizard Folk’ she said, in exactly the same perplexed tone they used when astounded by the acts of Muggles.

Now it was Harry's turn to laugh, breaking the tension. Both Hermione and Harry laughed all the harder as Professor McGonagall and Ron shared looks of amazement, clearly wondering what the joke was.

Wiping away tears, Harry caught his breath,

'God I needed that’ it had felt good, really good, to laugh again.

‘Yes, well if we can move on’ said Professor McGonagall a bit put out by their inexplicable behaviour

Still not clear what had just happened, nevertheless Professor McGonagall was pleased to see the young folk laughing again, it had been too long since she had heard that.

Professor McGonagall went on to explain that Fred and George would be providing most of the necessary supplies, one or two things they had created and their ingenious minds, not to mention having a ghost along will prove very useful and Nicola is the strongest witch Beauxbatons have in the Defence against the dark arts, Not as strong as Hermione and myself but close. Between the three of us we can tackle most things. With a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth, Professor completed her assessment with, Ron and Harry, along with Hagrid, you are the muscle.

Hermione and Fleur struggled to stifle a grin at their indignant faces, ‘the muscle in deed’

Not happy with the inclusion of Draco, but unable to fault the logic, Harry had one other person in his thoughts, he could see trouble ahead.

‘What about Ginny? She won’t want to be left behind’

Shaking her head, ‘She doesn’t add anything to the team and would just be a distraction to you Harry and to you Ron, not to mention George and Fred, when I need you all focused on the job in hand.

Again unable to fault the logic he was not looking forward to explaining that to Ginny, maybe they could just sneak out he thought.

As they left the Professor’s study Ron remarked how quiet Fleur Delacour had been.
‘It's obvious, they much have spoken before we got there, Fleur knew she was not coming and must have been the one to tell McGonagall about Nicola, how else would she had known about her skills in defence of the dark arts. Hermione explained.

Looking to put off speaking to Ginny for as long as possible Harry suggested they go see Hagrid.

‘HAGRID it’s us let us in’

Harry, Hermione and Ron were standing outside Hagrid’s hut trying to get his attention.

‘Finally’ huffed Ron

‘Sorry bout that’ Hagrid apologised, ‘I was busy gettin some stuff out, come on in’

Hagrid stepped back into this main room and busied himself putting the kettle on.

‘You’re in luck, made some cakes this morning’ Beamed Hagrid

Fang barked in delight at seeing them all again and slobbered all over Ron as he took the sit next to the big dog.

‘Why always me’ Ron whined, pulling a ‘yuk’ face and wiping dog drool of his chin.

Hermione and Harry exchange happy smiles, they missed these times in Hagrid little hut, drinking team avoiding his cakes and just enjoying their time at Hogwarts

In the corner stand two large axes and armour, breast and back plate, greaves for arms and legs and a helm, all in sliver with runes inscribed over every inch.

‘Wow Hagrid where did you get those?’ asked Harry pointing at the weapons.

‘Those’, Hagrid replied, ‘Dumbledore left me those in his will, never thought I would have a use for them, but Dumbledore was a great man, a great wizard, he could see things ‘e could, mark my words, he know these would be needed one day. Great man e wer’

They contemplated his words and debated with Hagrid over the theft of the Witches’ Eye and the journey they were about to undertake long into the evening.

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The following day dawned bright and clear. The chosen few were ready and waiting. George had supplied Magic Carpets which had them all a buzz with excitement. They were used to riding broomsticks and some had ridden on magical creatures such as hippogriffs but a carpet!

Piled with food, change of clothes, Hagrid’s armour and other travel supplies they were soon off into the clear skies over England. As the glittering sea rushed beneath them Professor McGonagall thought some study would not go amiss and began to quiz them on Potion and before the day was out they were landing in the courtyard of Beauxbatons amidst a gathering of Witches and Wizards, all dressed in blue, wands at the ready in fear it was another attack.

Once they saw Fleur they crowded round the group shaking hands and clapping them on the back and were practically carried into the castle where Madam Maxine was waiting to greet them.

‘Many thanks for coming Professor McGonagall, we of course intended to come to Ogwarts aid but were prevented from doing so as I am sure Fleur has explained. The Oracles told us to wait, neither to fight our captors nor to send our own expedition to that school. All would end in failure. Send for elp they say, send for elp from Ogwarts’

It was clear Madam Maxine was far from happy with the events over the last year, held captive in her own school, forbidden to fight or to retrieve what was taken.

As they walked the corridors and down the stairs they slowly went lower and lower into the depths of the castle.

With a small smile playing on her lips Madam Maxine indicating that they should go ahead through the archway and door ahead alone.

They went though in to large circular room, water glistened on the walls and the stead drip drip drip echoed around the room. The floor was covering in a swirling mist which seemed to glow. In the centre, seated around a bubbling cauldron were three old crones, dressed in dark decaying robes, covered in cobwebs, unmoving, still as death, each atop a black stone.

‘I don’t like this’ squeaked Ron who then gave a small cry as the middle crone slowly raised her hand and pointed her skeletal finger directly at him and gave an ice shivering cackle.

Harry and Hermione immediately stepped forward in front of the others just as the old crone on the left started to cough and shake before the middle crone’s cackle crumbled into laughter, which was soon joined in by the one of the right who had been shaking moments before trying to stop herself from laughing aloud.

Still laughing, the middle crone broke the spell with a wave of her hand and the real Oracles revealed themselves.

They were all laughing so hard, tears were streaming down their faces, the one of the left was holding her sides and kept saying

‘Stop stop, it hurts oh# then burst out laughing all over again.

Around the room behind the Oracles were 3 boys and 3 girls of the School, there to attend to the needs of the Oracles. They were all grinning openly and indicating that visitors should take the seats opposite. In the middle, the cauldron was gone, replaced by, what look like a half cup, the Socket, they correctly deduced.

Taking their seats Harry and the others couldn’t help but smile and then chuckle themselves, so infectious was the laughter of the three old women. Just as one or two would compose themselves and start to welcome the guests, another would let out a chuckle sending them all into fits of laughter again.

Once composed the middle Witch welcomed the group, offering them tea and cakes.

Hermione gave Rom a smack on his hand as he immediately leaned forward to help himself making him sit back and wait for the others. Otherwise there would be none left she explained she said, to no one in particular.

George gave Ron a wink and piled 3 cakes onto his plate before settling back into the comfy sofa.

The cobwebbed, black cloaked crones were gone, replaced by three, very old women dressed resplendently in plush robes of dark blue velvet shot through with a sliver thread which flashed as it caught the light of the many candles around the, dry, stone walls. Behind the Oracles was the only other door, which they later learnt led to their sitting rooms and bedrooms all done out according to their individual wishes and interests.

The Oracles took time to compose themselves whilst their guests took tea and cakes and settled into the sofas and chairs. There sightless eyes stared intently at each one.

Ron turned to Hermione and whispered into her ear

‘It’s like they can see us’
‘There are many different ways of seeing young man’ the middle Oracle said making them all jump. This caused a chuckle from the witches.

‘We can see plenty, more than most’

All three Oracles seemed to be looking at Beauxbatons girl that was standing against the wall and then back to one of their group.

‘Nicola, come and join us, it is our wish that she travels with you to retrieve the Eye’

The young witch left the wall and walked over to join the group, her eyes seemed to be searching for someone as they took in the group and for a moment it they seem to stare before she took a seat next to George.

Professor McGonagall cleared her throat

‘Can you give us any information or direction as to where the Durmstrangs might be?’

All three Oracles turned to the Professor

‘Welcome Sister. We have no sight we can share but this, go to the wailing woods; there you meet your guide and an old friend’

The Professor nodded looking at Nicole who confirmed she knew where to find these woods.

The Oracles faced them all and in a single strange ominous voice they said

‘Your journey will be hazardous and your numbers will not be the same coming back as going’

They all looked at each other wondering who would not be returning and what that meant to ones left behind.

The Oracles stiff stance relaxed again and they helped themselves to tea and cakes, tasking one of their attendants to show the group out and back up the levels to the dining halls.

As they left they heard one of the Oracles say

‘Did you see the young Defender, he nearly peed his pants’ followed by a howl of laughter from all three
‘Now look, I’ve spilled my tea’ which seem to set them off laughing again

‘The Warriors though, did you see the way they moved’

‘Ay, strong they will be’

Their voices grew fainter as the moved further along the corridor, the last thing they heard was ‘peed his pants I tell you’ and then sounds of laughter echoing along the hallways.

The following morning the group including Nicole stepped upon the carpets and as they rose a cheer went up from the crowd of Witches and Wizards, young and old that had assembled to see them off. It would take three days for the carpets to travel to the Woods, the magic needed to keep the aloft didn’t last long enough to make it in one single journey so they were forced to stop and camp overnight.

The Professor was quick to organise more lessons along the way, much to Hermione’s delight, though she was the only one, the others grumbled but still knuckled down to the lessons as they were whisked through the air on flying carpets!

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The Magic carpets landed just outside the dark forbidding woods and Harry and the others scrambled to their feet, keen to stretch their legs.

'We won't need much, just out wits and our wands' instructed Professor McGonagall

Nicola took the lead and the others gathered behind her, throwing nervous glances at each other and the woods. They had all been in the dark woods at Hogwarts but these felt wrong somehow, the oppressive air was palpable and felt more solid the ethereal.

'Looks inviting' quipped Fred

No one answered as they slowly made their way into woods.

As they went deeper, the trees took on a more twisted form, tortured even and the noise, low at first, but rising in volume the deeper they went. Shrieks, moans and cries filled the cold night air.

Crikey' whispers Ron, 'they do make a racket'
'So would you if you had been entombed into a tree for a thousand years and doomed to a thousand more’ retorted Nicola

‘There are people in the trees' Ron said with horror in his voice.

'I wish you boys would read a book once in a while' Hermione said in exasperation. I read in A History.............'

' of Hogwarts' Both Ron and Harry finished in unison flashing a grin across to each other.
Hermione glared at both

'If I can finish. In A History of Durmstrangs Academy, I read that the Dryad witches were imprisoned in their trees for eternity. Their wailing gives the wood its name.'

'You don't say' said Ron dryly

'Its silly superstition of course, the wind through the branches makes the noise'

Ron looks up at the branches, perfectly still against the dark of the night sky.
'There's no wind' he whispers to Harry.

Nicole, biting off the words as she spoke, ‘

A thousand years ago the Dryads were cursed to spend their lives within the trees they love so much, never to die, to grow old just to exist for as long as their tree remains standing'

'Voldemort' said Harry bitterly.

No, not Voldermort, someone far more powerful, far more evil then he was

'Silly superstition is it’ Nicola stands square on to Hermonie, her eyes wet with unshed tears.

‘Go look then, go look at your silly superstition in the trees'

Nicola points towards one of the trees, her arm, hand and finger one long line, rigid with
anger and sorrow

Hermonie turns her head and looks in the direction and gasps

She rushes to the tree, her hands running over the rough surface, a face clearly visible within the contours of the bark. 'There must be something we can do, some way to get them out?' she pleaded.

'The witches of the Beauxbatons Academy have been trying for a thousand years to no avail. The magic is too powerful to counteract. Come there is nothing we can do here and we have more pressing matters to deal with'

The companions, each standing before a tree, gently caressing the face within, slowly, reluctantly, turned away, their faces troubled.

The wailing which had quietened as they connected with the dryads in side, started up again, sounded the same to all, all but one. Nicola looked up at the trees in wonder, detecting a change in the noise, the hope within the shrilling noise of the captured souls. She looked around at her companions and wondered.

‘No, this cannot be allowed to go on; I will not allow it to go on’

The group turned to see Hermione had not left her tree; she stood with her wand out, her eyes angry as she flicked her wand and pointed it to the ground with a loud cry

‘Confinement Negato!

A powerful stream of green/blue magic exploded from the tip of her wand into the ground in front of her. Slowly, as the magic continued to pour down, it started to spread out, over the ground, surrounding each tree before spreading further, all across the woods the magic flowed.

The Magical stream slowed from her wand, then stopped leaving an eerie silence as everyone waiting to see what would happen next.

The carpet of green/blue slowly sunk into the ground, disappearing from view momentarily before being seen again within the trees. The roots had absorbed the magic and now it travelled up the trunks, into the branches, to the very leaves themselves, before there a loud ‘pop’ a bright flash and a Witch appeared before the nearest tree. Loud pops and bright flashes came thick and fast as all across the woods as more and more of the trees dispelled their witches back into the world.

The newly released witches looked about in wonder before letting out cries of joy, running and hugging each other. Soon as a group they turned to Hermione and shyly came closer in awe of such a powerful witch

One bolder witch stepped forward and threw her arms around Hermione, crying, mumbling her thanks. This broke the ice and all the witches crowded around, crying their thanks, tears of joy streaming down their faces.

Nicola herself, stood dumbstruck. The most powerful witches of her coven had tried to release the Dryads, for this young girl to have done so, was amazing.

‘She really is the greatest Witch of her generation you know’ Ron said proudly as he stepped up beside Nicola.

Finally Hermione managed to escape the Dryads and rejoined her friends, flushed with success and excitement.

‘That was amazing Hermione, truly amazing’ praised Harry, clearly impressed and slightly in awe of the raw magical power he just witnessed.

The others was equally impressed and praised her, including Professor McGonagall who was as shaken as Nicola at witnessing such power from a fellow witch.

‘They want to throw a feast in our honour’ Hermione explained

‘I tried to explain we had to press onto the castle but they are insisting and offering to show us a secret way in tomorrow, when its light.’

‘Well I for one prefer that idea then tackling the place at night, besides I’m starving’

Hermione looked exasperated, ‘you’re always starving. Harry, Professor, what do you think’

Harry was keen to get the Eye back and return to Hogwarts, he had so been looking forward to an uneventful normal school year but agreed with Ron, if the Dryads know of a secret way into the castle that was more of a plan then they had at that moment. Going during the daytime also had an appeal, not to mention the idea of a feast sounded very tempting.

‘I agree with Ron, a feast sounds good and we could all do with some rest, Nicola, how do you feel waiting a few more hours before tackling the castle and retrieving the Eye’

‘If the Dryads know a way into the castle we should accept their aid, I vote for tomorrow too’ Agreed Nicola.

Professor McGonagall looked around the rest of the group who were all nodding their agreements too.

‘That’s settled then, we’ll accept the kind invitation of the Dryads to feast tonight and their assistance into the castle tomorrow’

As the group followed the Dryads through to a clearing in the woods, Nicola found herself walking alongside Draco 'So you are one of Harry's closest friends, along with the witch.

Nicole indicated Hermonie with a jerk of her head.

With a shake of his head ‘No, that's not me; you are thinking of Ron'

Draco quickened his step and walked ahead as Nicole digested this piece of information. She looked at Draco as he walked ahead, and then followed. Her step a little lighter and a small smile played across her lips.

Chapter 10: AN OLD FRIEND
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In the morning the group work to find a Dryad waiting for them. She was caressing her wand which she proudly flourished ‘my tree gave this to me and a new broomstick, look’

Ron laughter turned into a cough as got a dark look from the Dryad and a dig in the ribs from Hermione.

‘Lovely’ He managed to croak massaging his ribs

The broomstick look crude to their eyes, clearly a branch from a tree, with small branches and leaves still attached at the end, but the Dryad clearly cherished it.

Hermione turned to the group,

‘This is Autumn; she will be joining and guiding us to the castle and the secret entrance’

Ron raised his hand in a gesture of welcome, clearly a little embarrassed,

Autumn scowled at him

‘Hello Autumn, pleased to meet you’ said Harry hold out his hand to shake

Autumn looked at the hand for a moment then deciding it was a friendly gesture stuck out or hand too.

Harry, realising she hadn’t recognised the gesture, gently took her hand and shook it up and down before releasing it.

Autumn let out a little squeal of delight and present her hand to Hermione, who with a smile on her lips, solemnly shook her hand.

One by one Autumn shook each of the groups hands, leaving Ron till last but still she offered her hand to him and he gladly shook it, a big grin on his face which was too infectious and Autumn couldn’t’ help but grin back at him.

They packed up their belongings but agreed to leave the bulk with the Dryads, only taking their cloaks, wands and a little food.
They would either be back before nightfall or not at all.

Autumn let the way through the woods to a stream which cut its way through the land.

Following it they entered a ravine which despite the early morning sunshine was shrouded in gloom and a low mist still clung to the damp rocks and swirled around their feet as they walk.

The sides of the Ravine got steeper as the continued, the gloom deepened but Autumn would not allow them to light the way with magic, quietly warning them that any magic would be detected this close to the castle.

‘Are we close then’ asked George in a hushed whisper

In response Autumn pointed upwards and as one they all looked up to see the ravine walls merge seamlessly with the black rock of the walls of a castle. At first glance it looked huge but after a moment they realised they could see both ends of the wall, stretching off left and right, both ending in a turret of the same black stone.

Suddenly they heard a scrap on stone ahead of them, snapping them round, 9 wands pointing towards a figure as it materialised out of the gloom.
They realised no magic had concealed this man, for man he clearly was; his dark clothing had been enough in the half light.

As he stepped forward they could see him more clearly, a short man with receding hair, and blue eyes. Strapped to his back with two staves, crisscrossed behind his head, the handles visible either side.

‘Hello Minerva’ he said by way of greeting, a smile playing on his lips.

‘Ignotus!! Is that really you?’

‘How are you old friend’ the strange man stepped forward, ignoring the wands pointing at him and engulfed Professor McGonagall in a hug, laughing,

‘It’s been too long Mini’

Ron turned to Harry mouthing the word ‘Mini?’

Hermione, Nicola and Autumn had grouped together enjoying the romance of long lost love

George and Fred were grinning, enjoying Professor McGonagall’s fluster

‘Mini’ they repeated together ‘excellent’

‘Put me now Ignotus, now!’ Professor McGonagall said hitting him the arm but smiling never the less

‘Why are you here, now, where have you been? Have you heard about Albus?’ she queried, questions tumbling over each other in.

‘Not now Minerva, I think we had best be about getting into the castle and retrieving what has been taken, we can catch up later’ Ignotus replied, looking up at the castle walls.

With a nod of recognition and another flashing grin ‘Hagrid’

‘Ignotus’ Hagrid replied clearly delighted to be remembered

‘What, wait, he’s not coming with us, why should he come with us?’ Harry was clearly taken aback by this man’s sudden appearance’
‘You need me speccy’, turning to the Professor, ‘their children Minerva, what were you thinking’

‘When you are over 800 years old Ignotus, we all appear as children to you, these are stronger and older then they look, but I must admit, with you here I am more confident of success’ Replied the Professor

‘You know Professor Dumbledore?’ enquired Hermione

‘Sure did cutie, Albus and I were very close once upon a time’ Ignotus replied with a wink

Hermione blushed at the complement which was not lost on Ron who stepped up beside Hermione, taking her hand.

Ignotus laughed, ‘no need for jealousy Red, plenty to go around, if you know what I mean’

Hermione hid a grin behind her hand, whilst Ron took a step back, speechless.

Fred and George were in fits of laughter, ‘looks like you pulled again Ron, you old charmer you’
‘Leave them alone Ig, this is not the time or place or century for that matter’ scolded Professor McGonagall

‘arhh but those were the times Mini’ looking around the group, ‘I can tell you some tales about your professor here, together with Albus and me that would make your hair curl

‘IGNOTUS! You will do no such thing! The past will stay in the past, am I clear?

‘Of course Mini, I was only playing’, Ignotus cast his eye over the group, his grin never leaving his lips ‘well let’s get going before we lose the day, I don’t fancy wondering around a Dark Castle in the dark’

Laughing at his play on words he indicated to Autumn to lead the way then took up position behind her.

The others looked at the Professor ‘trust me, he’s an asset we could do with’

That was enough for the others, though they still was not sure they particularly liked the man, he seemed too cocky by half and had a way of looking at them that was almost a leer.

Autumn led them further in then stopped in front of a flat rock, dark, damp, covered in lichen. Turning and searching beneath overhanging roots of a thorny bush she sought and discovered a round rock just proud of the surrounding rocks. With the heel of her palm she pressed hard and turned to see a black square opening where the flat rock had only moments stood before.

‘Open sesame’ Ignotus quipped at the same time as,

‘Open sesame’ Fred Quipped

‘Open sesame’ George Quipped

All three laughed as they stepped into the void, Fred’s ghostly image merging with the two men as they led the way into the dark.

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‘Wow that is dark, I cannot see my hand in front of my face’ complained Ron.

Suddenly a golden glow surrounded them, faint but enough for them to be able to see who’s next them.

‘Nice Autumn, up you come to the front, lead the way’

With that Autumn led the way through the dark dunk tunnel before stopping short at a dead end.

She glided her hands over the surface of the wall, pushing and probing until there was a faint ‘click’ and as section of the wall swung open.

As they stepped through they found themselves in a large room with stairs leading up at the far end.

Coming down those stairs were eight goblins, dressed in black armour. Each worked with gold and silver filigree, no two the same.
‘Now that’s just unlucky’ quipped Ignotus as he stepped to the fore.

Reaching behind his head to grasped the staves in each hand and faced the goblins, who, upon seeing the group, had started to spread out.

‘They’ve got wands! Exclaimed Hermione, ‘Goblins are not allowed to have wands, it’s part of the treaty’

‘Well give me a moment and I’ll go and chastise them’ replied Ignotus his ever present grin flashing wider.

Harry took out his want and stepped up besides Ignotus, the others quickly followed suit except Professor McGonagall who, whilst hold her wand had not ventured forward.

Ignotus swept out his arms to stop the others ‘Stay here, I’ll handle this’

‘There are eight of them’ Harry pointed, out exasperated by this man. A man who claimed to know Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall intimately and that grin, as if there was a joke only he got going on all the time.

‘You think I should let them go get some more?’ Ignotus queried

Harry was a taken about, that appeared to be the first serious thing Ignotus had said since they’d met.

‘Stop wasting time Ignotus, go deal with them and we can get on’

Ignotus gave a small bow and stepped out into the room. As he did, he brought together the two staves and they become one staff which he begun to twirl.

‘I wouldn’t mind seeing him lose, just to wipe that grin off his face’ grumbled Nicola

‘Forget it’ replied Professor McGonagall

‘Is he that good?’ Harry asked

‘Just watch’ was all the Professor would say

Ignotus walked slowly towards the Goblins, his swirling staff weaving a shield of magic, which started out blue, then green, then red, the orange, the colours switching from one to another.

‘The colours Professor, is that some special kind of defensive magic?’

‘No’ the Professor replied with a nostalgic sigh ‘he can never decide what colour he likes best, now hush, you’ll do well to pay attention’

The goblins flung curses towards Ignotus all of which bounced off his shield as he continued to walk towards them.

Suddenly Ignotus broke into a run, his hands twisted, making the one staff into two staves again. Then he was dancing, there was no other way to describe it. He pirouetted, his body spinning on one toe as both starves spat curses, taking out the first two Goblins, with a high kick and twist he spun over, then rolled, then dipped, then jumped and somersaulted, all the while his starves spat curses at the Goblins.

And then it was over, Ignotus stood before the stairs, the eight goblins lay around him, unmoving.

‘A bit rusty Ignotus?

Teased Hagrid

‘Just a bit Hagrid, just a bit’

Ignotus flashed him a grin then basked in the praise of the girls as they crowded round.

The boys hung back a bit, awed by the display of wand craft they had just seen.

‘Ok lets form up, I’ll take the lead Hagrid you follow behind, the boys, Minerva and Autumn in the middle, Hermione can you bring up the rear with Nicola.

‘Oh I suppose we are at the back because were girls, is that it. Hermione said angrily

‘Well let me tell you...’

Ignotus held up his hand, instantly cutting off Hermione before she got into full flow.
‘Cutie, next to me you two are the strongest magic users we have’ then with a look towards Harry he continued ‘at the moment. If the enemy get past me, Hagrid can offer the best defence with that armour of his, giving the Minerva and the boys time to use their magic. I need your strength to guard our rear.’

Finally unable to restrain his annoyance at having to explain himself ‘really Minerva are all the students at that school of yours incapable of following orders without argument.’

‘Most are Ignotus, but these, well, where do I begin’ Professor McGonagall said.

Ignotus nodded and glared at the young witches and wizards, ‘to as I say, when I say and you may come out of this alive. What is it now boy?’

Ron had timidly raised his hand

‘Well, I was wondering, you said outside not to use magic as it would trigger the defences and alarms, why haven’t they gone off now?’

Ignotus looked up, trying to picture what was happening on the floors above them

‘First and foremost this castle is a school of witchcraft and wizardry, the alarms would be sounded all day and night.’ Explained Hermione, keen to redeem herself

Ignotus nodded, ‘good point, ok let’s go. We’ll move quickly, try to be in and out without the whole castle knowing’

Ignotus still looked up, his face blank as his mind searched

‘I sense only a few’ he muttered ‘20 or so, no more. ‘Why so few?’

Turning towards Nicole ‘how many would you say attacked your Academy doll face’

With a stamp of her foot, ‘My name is Nicola, and there was at least a hundred’

Completely unaware of her annoyance ‘so where are they now?’ he mused

‘OK, to our advantage, let’s go’

With that Ignotus led the group upstairs and into the main hall.
With a look at Nicola

‘Which way?’

Nicola closed her eyes and turned her face left to right slowly

‘That way’ she pointed upwards ‘two stories up and over to the left’
Without a word, Ignotus led the group up the main flight of stairs to a landing which stretched out to his left and right, a gallery really with doors leading off, and stairs at each corner.

Ignotus went left and stopped at the base of the stairs.

Hagrid, Minerva, Autumn, lads you stay here, Doll face and Cutie with me.

Without waiting for their indignant retorts, Ignotus bounded up the stairs forcing the girls to scramble after him.

‘WAIT!’ yelled Draco
Everyone froze where they stood.

Draco moved up ahead of Ignotus and spoke an incantation and swished his wand.

The way ahead suddenly was barred by streams of black and above them a web of black waiting to ensnare them.

Ignotus looked questioningly at Professor McGonagall

‘Draco here has had some dark magic training’ was all she said by way of explanation.

‘Excellent’ said Ignotus ‘Lead the way’

With that he indicated for Draco to take the lead, who first removed the trap with another wave of his wand.

Reaching the top of the stair they had uncovered no further traps.

‘Odd that the Eye would be so lightly guarded’ mused Ignotus, more to himself then to the others.

Ahead of them stood a wooded door, stout but with magical locks or guards that Draco could detect it was a simple matter of


And the door was unlocked.

Ignotus twisted the handle and pushed open the door slowly, expecting something to be waiting, guarding the Eye.

Nothing, nothing was there. The Eye stood on a pedestal in the middle of a circular room waiting to be claimed.

‘To easy, to easy’ mumbled Ignotus, ‘has to be a trap, has to be.

OK, Draco check the Eye for any magical traps, then let’s be off’

Draco closed his eyes and ran his hand over the Eye, detecting nothing.

He picked up the Eye and handed it to Nicola

‘OK let’s go rejoin the others’

A quick dash back down the stairs, they met up with the others.

‘This is to easy Minerva, keep a look out for a trap’ Ignotus called ahead

‘I think we have found it Ig’ called back the Professor.

Ignotus found the group, wands drawn behind Hagrid, who had as axe in each hand, facing a whole load of dark wizards and witches advancing down the length of the balconies.

‘OK now we’re talking, Hagrid you clear the way, Central Staircase, main entrance, across the courtyard and out the main gate. I’ll be behind you, Ron, Harry take the right, Draco, Nicola the left, Hermione, Autumn the rear, George and Minerva the centre.’

With a cry of ‘just like old times Hagrid’ they moved.

Hagrid charge forward, his natural immunity to magic, thanks to the giant within him, combined with the goblin made armour made Hagrid the perfect shield going forward.

Behind, Ignotus flowed; his twin starves firing curses right and left.

Hagrid made the main stairs easily; all before him were cast aside.

The main body dealt with the rest, leaving Hermione and Autumn bringing up the rear.

As they rushed the main entrance Hermione let out a cry of exultation, finally able to join the fight. Her wand spat curses, whilst Autumn used her wand very much like she was conducting an orchestra, punctuated with flashes of lightening. Each bolt turning its target into ash.

As they reached the main hall Hermione froze one of Autumn’s lightning bolts and threw her arms wide. The lighten bolt throw out branches of bright sliver, stretching across the stair case, blocking the way of the remaining Dark witches and wizards as the raced down the stairs.
The first three sought to tear through the curtain of sliver only to be burned to ashes; the others managed to stop and started incantations to dispel the barrier.

Hermione pushed with her arms and the barrier started to float up the stairs, breaking their concentration, their spells uncast as they scrambled amongst each other, trying to get up the stairs, away from approaching death.

‘Don’t get left behind Cutie’ called Ignotus,

Hermione looked behind and saw the main group leaving the castle through the main entrance.

‘Come on’ she yelled to Autumn

They ran to catch up with the group and as one they exploded into the courtyard.

Nicola and Draco were performing their own dance, always touching; they glided around each other, covering each other as well as the group.

Ron and Harry on the other hand, whilst just as effective were a little more brutish, yelling
‘On the right’ and ‘left, left, left’

As they pushed and jostled each other out of harm’s way.

In the middle George and the Professor calmly dispatched any threat they saw, mostly highlighted by Fred. His ghostly image floating above the battle calling down targets.

The Professor’s calm was one of experience and wisdom; George’s calm was of icy fury.

He saw all dark wizards and witches as the cause of his brother’s death and his bolts were sent with such force, even near missed took out the threat with an explosion of rock from the castle walls.

Up ahead ugly small dragon like birds suddenly took flight high up from the battlements.

‘Wyverns!’ Yelled Hagrid

Ignotus again showed his experience in battle, seemingly aware of everything that was occurring despite being in the middle of a pitch battle.
‘Draco, move to the centre and take out the Wyverns’ Mini take the left with Nicola. Hagrid the portcullis if you would’

Draco and the Professor smoothly changed places and Draco fired a black bolt from his wand and a Wyvern simply exploded.

‘Nice shot’ called Ignotus satisfied that Draco’s dark magic training was sufficient to take out the new threat.

Hagrid rushed forward, scattering any in his path to get to the portcullis.

With his prodigious strength he lifted the heavy metal gate high over his head so that he could manoeuvre himself through, then was able to hold it as the others fought their way across the courtyard and through the gate.

Ignotus took stock as he took out a Witch from high in one of the towers. This group of young folk impressed him immensely. From the centre Draco was exploding Wyverns from the sky and threats from high on the battlements were destroyed by George, The others working in their pairs as if they had been fighting together all their lives covering the flanks. He had the front, alongside Hagrid.
Hermione and Autumn, following up the rear continued to protect the group from being overrun. Autumn had switched her defence. Now, where she pointed roots shot up from the ground swirling and entangling a witch or wizard then pulling them slowing back under the soil. Hermione was using the lighten bolt spell, able to strike even those that thought they were hidden and protected behind Caskets and Barrels that were stacked along one wall.

Suddenly Autumn gave a cry and went down. A wizard being drawn into the soil had managed to cast one last curse, hitting the retreating girl squarely in the back.

Hermione spun around to see Autumn fall and sent a bolt with such anger the roots and wizard burst into a huge fireball.

Ignotus also saw Autumn fall

‘Harry, get Autumn, keep moving, don’t stop’

As Harry rushed to Autumn, Ignotus smoothly moved to the right alongside Ron to maintain the ring of defence that had been working so well.

Harry scooped up Autumn and nearly fell backwards, her lightness of weight taking him by surprise. As one, he and Hermione ran to catch up with the others as they rushed through the main gate. A loud crash sounded the decent of the portcullis behind them, cutting of pursuit for the moment as they moved quickly down the road, towards the waiting Dryad woods.

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Crossing an unseen boundary, the group were surrounded by golden glows as the Dryads appeared from behind their trees. Their smiles of pleasure quickly turned to dismay when they saw Autumn lying motionless in the arms of Harry.

They rushed to her side checking for signed of life.

‘Quickly follow me’ ordered one of the Dryad witches and as a group they all moved through the woods towards one particular tree, its leaves mostly fallen in stark contrast to the others around, still full of summer green.

‘Put her down, there at the base of the tree’ pointed the leader

Harry did as he was told and stood back as Autumn rose into the air, up higher and higher until she was nestled within the branches of the tree.

Another Dryad, young, lithe, vitality shinning with her, quickly climbed the tree to join her.

The leader of the Dryads turned to the group; we have need of one of your young men Hermione.

‘What, why, I don’t understand’ Hermione stuttered clearly confused

Professor McGonagall stepped forward, casting her eye over the group

‘George, would you be willing to help save Autumn?’

George didn’t pause ‘of course’

George suddenly found himself floating upwards towards the tree, Autumn and the waiting Dryad. Upon joining them, the tree’s branches started to pull inwards, covering them the three of them until they could not be seen.

‘Fred come back down here now’ barked the Professor

‘Fred looked a little sheepish as he joined the others, casting a curious look back to the tree.

‘Come let is feast and you can tell us what happen in the castle’ said the Dryad leader ushering the group away.

The following morning the group awoke to find George sitting by the fire, looking a little wild eyed. Over the other side of the clearing the Dryads were gathered around the young Dryad giggling and casting shy glances over.
Professor McGonagall quickly took charge of the group, issuing the boys tasks to gather their belongings and stored them onto the carpets for the journey home, whilst she and the girls prepared some breakfast.

As they were saying their goodbyes, George stood same ways off with Fred.
‘Time for me to go George. You ready to now, ready to say good bye and move on.’

‘I don’t know Fred, I do feel different, after the castle and, and last night, but I’ll miss you, won’t be the same without you around’

‘I know mate but different doesn’t have to mean bad you know and we’ll meet up again’
There is nothing separate us George except time, we’ll always be together. Besides, you were always better with the girls then me, this way I’ll get a head start on you’

‘Yeh, I always was the better looking one’ George said with a smile

Fred opened his arms for a hug goodbye which George accepted, stepping forward fully expecting to pass right through.
When he felt Fred solid in his arms, this one last time, he had just enough time to squeeze him tight and whisper ‘Love you mate’

George’s armed closed together as Fred dissipated. His misty image faded leaving, just a second a small bright light, that flashed once then winked out

‘Love you to mate’ carried on the air

George stood there, head bowed, tears streaming down his face. His sorrow was still there, but the anger and resentment had passed. The road head once just blackness was light once again. George felt his life returning, started to look to the future, of returning to the shop, ideas and plans forming in his mind.

He returned to the group for breakfast

‘I’m starving what have we got to eat’

The group welcomed him back, Ron first over, gave him a hug

‘Alright mate?’

‘Yeh I’m good mate, thanks, you?

‘Yeh’ Ron replied, his voice croaked just a little
Hermione, with tears on her face turned away and simply said
‘Boys’ in a bewildered tone
With that the group sat down to eat and discuss plans for their journey back.

As they finished off loading the carpets and got ready to set off, George hung back a little, glancing over his shoulder at the Dryads indecision clear on his face.

Professor McGonagall walked over to him

‘Come along George, time to go’

‘Shouldn’t I stay Professor, as the father I mean?’ George asked

The Dryads froze as his question carried in the wind; three or four of the young ones looked ready to pounce, with more edging forward, readying themselves, as if for a race.

‘No, I think not George, you’d never survive’ replied the Professor casting looks of concern over his shoulder

‘Get on the carpet, I think we it’s past time we left’

The young Dryads showed a mix of disappointment and fury and the Professor, catching their looks, hurried over to the carpets and scrambled aboard as they started to lift off.

As they flew the Professor insisted lessons resume so high up in the clouds, Ignotus, the Professor and Hagrid took turns giving lectures and supervising any new magic they were trying out. A Dryad, Starlight who was accompanying them as an ambassador to seek admittance for their witches to the School, taught them the old magic they used, harnessing nature, although Hermione was soon banned from experimenting when she made it rain solidly for one hour. The mood was not helped at all by the laughter from the others as it was only Hermione’s carpet that was getting drenched.

Each evening, Ignotus would take the group and practice wand craft, working them individually, in pairs and as a group improving their skills greatly.

Finally on the morning of the fourth day since leaving the Woods, they arrived back at Beauxbatons.

As they stood and stretched they were soon surrounded by the young witches and wizards of the school. Teachers were hurrying over too, all keen to know whether the group had been successful in retrieving the Eye.

Hermione held it aloft like a trophy amidst cheers, clapping and not a few tears from everyone around.

As a group they made their way to the Oracles they were congratulated, cheered and clapped on the back nearly all the way.

Only once they got down into the lower levels of the school were they left only with the Headmistress of the school Madame Maxine.

The Oracle’s room had not changed; the round circular walls were the same dark gray, empty of pictures or hangings. Doors led off to adjoining rooms but these were all closed.

Around the Socket the three Oracles sat, the sightless eyes following them uncannily as they entered the room and took their seats opposite the old witches.
‘You have the Eye’ stated one of the Oracles

In response Hermione pulled the Eye from the bag and placed it on the Socket.

The three Oracles suddenly stiffened and each speaking different words at the same time

They were quickly ushered out of the room as one by one the Oracles fainted, their attendants rushing forward to catch them as they toppled back.

The group never got to see the Oracles again. After a feast in their honour and a night’s sleep in actual beds they were soon on their way back to Hogwarts.

Professor McGonagall wanted to continue with lessons but quickly gave up as the group pondered the Prophecy

The King has awakened to reclaim his crown
De’eath stalks the land
What was hidden has been found
The Queen is at hand
Dark and Light Unite
Riders of the Skies take flight
Warriors and Defenders learn
Dancers of Light return

To Be Continued