Everyone stopped what they were doing as they watched these people barricade the door. No one seemed to know what they were. They seemed more tangible than ghosts, yet nowhere near human consistency.
“I’m thinking we should probably get out of here,” Kristen mumbled, already looking for an escape route, but Sirius grabbed her before she was able to.
“I thought those people were from your imagination Kristen, what are they doing here?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered frantically, her breathing coming shortly as they began to move further into the room.
“You know them?” Remus hissed, looking frightened as well.
“Sort of,” Sirius told him quickly, looking only at Kristen. “Why are they here? How can they even come out of the room?”
“I don’t know Sirius,” she moaned, really wishing he would let go of her arm so that she could run. They were getting closer; people were giving them a large berth, allowing them easy access to her. It wasn’t until they were getting close that they began chanting.
“Protect the girl, protect the heir. Protect the girl, protect the heir.” Their voices were hollow, so unlike what she had heard when they had the birthday party a few days prior. They had always been her source of comfort and safety, and now she wanted nothing more than to get away from them. But Sirius held onto her protectively, not letting her run away.
“Leave, you’re job is done.”
The ballroom people turned their heads in a fluid motion to the great headmaster. “She is safe. You’re job is done.” He told them firmly, standing between the large group of people and the rest of his students.
“Protect the girl, protect the heir,” they murmured, almost as if they were confused. One thing was apparent though; they were not ready to leave.
“Everyone, back to your dormitories this moment. No one is to leave until further notice,” He announced loudly. Even though there were several disappointed students, no one objected. They all wanted out of there as fast as possible, especially Kristen. As she tried to pass the people with her head bowed, something caught her eye. It was the little boy, the one that had just had a birthday. He looked so familiar, she knew him, from some where besides the room.
And then it clicked; he was the boy she killed. The one whose death she’d seen over and over again in her mind. Sampson, that was his name: little Sampson, who had cried and screamed as he begged her not to kill him or his little teddy bear. She remembered the feeling of laughter at the boy’s pathetic attempts before she killed him, easy as that. Sirius kept trying to pull her away, but she stood rooted to the spot, transfixed at this boy. Without knowing what she was doing, she walked closer to him. He simply looked up and said, “Protect the girl, protect the heir.”
“I’m safe,” she whispered to him. “They’re protecting me.” She motioned to her friends who were refusing to leave without her.
At her words the boy smiled. He began to look wispy and transparent, as did the others. Soon a breath of wind swept through the great hall, and remnants of these people disappeared.
Kristen suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder. It was Dumbledore. “Go up to my office. The password is Bertie Botts. Don’t stop for anyone, get there as quickly as possible.” He looked nervous, and Kristen felt her throat become very tight.
“Yes sir,” she responded quietly, rushing past her friends upon the familiar route to his office. She didn’t know what was going on and, in all honesty, she didn’t want to be with her friends. Alone, that was best.
She passed several people on her way there. They looked and pointed. She wasn’t sure if they knew those people were there for her, but she guessed there would at least be rumors. ‘Bertie Botts,” she said breathlessly when she reached his office. The gargoyles sprung apart and the spiral staircase began to go up, Kristen in tow.
She collapsed into the armchair as soon as she could. Her face was pale and her eyes glistened threateningly. She hated this! Why did those people have to come for her? Why not for Sirius, or Jason, or Gwen?
“You looked troubled dear,” she heard the hat say from atop a shelf. “Why has Albus sent you here?”
She’d never had a conversation with the hat, save from her sorting. “You know, I have no idea. Probably has to do with the people from the ballroom that I used to think were just a part of my imagination storming the dance.”
“Ah,” The hat said slowly, obviously finding her tale very strange. After that he refrained from speaking to her, making her feel more cut off than ever.
Kristen watched as the portraits flitted to and fro, whispering to each other as they stole glances at her. She walked under the only one she knew, desperate for the company of anyone.
“Headmaster Black,” she called meekly, trying to gain the attention of the prominent man. He looked at her with a start, as if he hadn’t even noticed she had been in the room. “Please sir, I…I just want your company.”
“Well if it isn’t little Miss St.Claire. What are you doing in here so late, and on Halloween no less?” He asked her cheerily.
Kristen sighed, knowing he had heard her explanation to the hat. But, for time’s sake, she simply repeated it for him, though in a much less harsher way than she had to the sorting hat. “Well, you never do stop being weird, do you?”
Kristen didn’t quite no what to say about that assessment of the situation. “You know, I think I understand why my great-grandson is so taken with you. When you’re around, there never seems to be an end to the fun! Oh yes, Sirius does have a penchant for dangerous and exciting things, and you obviously top the list.”
“You’re as bad as Remus, James, and Pete!” Kristen huffed at him as the old man chortled, despite her predicament. “Look, I need your help! Dumbledore must have spoken to someone in here about why I have to go through all those meetings and why I’m so ‘weird’ as you put it.”
“Never. But even if he had, I couldn’t tell you. Us portraits are bound to secrecy, bit of a nasty bargain if you ask me.”
A snooty looking woman suddenly perked up. “You didn’t think like that when you-”
“Ah, ah, ah Mildred!” He shushed her quickly, looking flushed. “We agreed to never speak of that!”
Kristen rolled her eyes, realizing that as much as she liked to talk, she didn’t really want to talk to him. If all he was going to do was tease her about Sirius and avoid giving her answers, then there really was no point in it.
She went over to the window at the back of his office. The stars were twinkling merrily, though the show below them hardly reflected their joy. Though Hogsmeade was a good half an hour walk away she could see the spells flying as their light lit up the town. There was a battle going on, and she would bet anything that Voldermort was there, and that was why she had been sent up. She thought she could even hear his voice; perhaps even make him out in the town that seemed to be so close. He was there; close enough for her to touch…
“How are you feeling Miss St.Claire, any headaches?” Madame Pomfrey swooped in, surprising Kristen horribly.
“Um no, just a little nauseous,” Kristen told her truthfully, eyeing her wearily. Her sudden jolt back to the confines of Dumbledore’s office was unnerving, and left her feeling completely disconnected from herself and everything around her.
“Oh, well the headmaster told me to check in on you, said you might have an ailment.” She shuffled over to her and put a hand against her forehead.
Kristen didn’t complain, knowing it’d be harder to get answers if she put up a fight. “The headmaster? Have you seen him?”
The healer hesitated for a moment before answering. “Yes, he came by to tell me to tend to you.”
“What’s going on in Hogsmeade? Why did he send me here? When’s he going to let me go back to my friends?” She asked in quick succession, moving irritably as Madame Pomfrey checked her blood pressure.
“Dear, your guess is as good as mine.” She answered. She then stepped back, appearing to be done with her check up.
“You have to know something!” Kristen reckoned, looking at her with pleading eyes.
Madame Pomfrey shiftily looked at the door and then came very close to her and whispered, “You-know-who is attempting to seize Hogsmeade and is very close in succeeding.”
“The Dark Lord is approaching?” One of the portraits who somehow overheard yelled in horror. Suddenly, there was uproar in the headmaster’s office as the previous heads flitted from one frame to the next.
“Oh Merlin,” the young woman sighed, realizing her error. “Stay here Kristen. Professor Dumbledore did at least tell me that he would be up soon as possible.” She then departed in a hurry, leaving Kristen alone once more.
She strolled back over to the window, curious to see what had happened since she had last been there. All was quiet and dark, just as the night should be. There was still unease floating across the grounds though, as if the silence was unnatural. The stars didn’t seem so joyous anymore; perhaps they had realized that their demeanor was startlingly out of place.
Quickly, the stars and silence became the farthest thought from her mind. Kristen shut her eyes tightly, pain searing through her skull. Without thinking, she put up her barriers and sat on the ground against the wall. She had to keep him out! She didn’t want to go through it again. No matter how wonderful the sensation was after he possessed her mind, let him have control; she couldn’t let him in! The pain of getting away outweighed the bliss of succumbing.
Soon her hands were wet with tears as her head pounded away. Her ears were filled with the sound of screams and people begging for mercy. She wanted it to stop, she begged with Voldermort to get out, but he simply laughed. He showed her how he was torturing Dumbledore, his blood pooling around his shaking form. Kristen felt that she was the one being tortured as she was forced to watch, for no matter how tight her eyes closed, the image refused to disappear. Dumbledore was dead, now there was absolutely nothing standing in the way of her and Voldermort. She didn’t know if she should try and hide, and she really didn’t think it would do much good.
There were hands on her shoulders and she thrashed against them, knowing it was Voldermort. He’d come to finish her off; it was payback time for that fateful day in Hogsmeade. “Kristen! Kristen, look at me, it’s alright!”
Her eyes snapped open to see Dumbledore. She threw her arms over his neck, so utterly thankful that he was alive as she sobbed uncontrollably. “Get him out!” Kristen begged him, her head still pounding furiously as she continued to be fed images of the destruction in Hogsmeade. “Please Dumbledore! Help me!”
“Shh, Kristen. Just sleep. It will end, I promise you.”
She wanted to yell at him even if she was euphoric that he was alive. Sleep? He wanted her to sleep? Voldermort was in her mind and he wanted her to sleep? And yet, as the images of burning buildings and lifeless bodies swirled inside her head, she was already beginning to lose conscience. Slowly, every so slowly, she fell into and uneasy slumber, Voldermort’s cackle ringing in her ears.
* * *
Okay, just a heads up. If you do have guesses as to the major picture, or what you might think the clues mean or don't mean, I ask that you don't write them in the reviews. Tell me that you've figured it out, scream about it, dangle it in front of their faces, but feel free to ask me by e-mail at MrsBloom1991@hotmail.com I'm thinking you guys are probably getting some good ideas by now, and I can't wait to hear them!
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