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Vincent Crabbe grinned as he stood proudly before Alecto Carrow and beside his friends as she paced back and forth with her instructions. The last time he’d felt this way was when the Inquisitorial Squad badge was pinned on his chest, but this was far better. Vincent’s wand twitched in his hand as it ached to be used once more against some foolish student. There were far too many of them in the school that still thought that they could stand up against the Dark Lord. Far too many foolish rebels with all their hopes pinned on Harry Potter who hadn’t even shown his face in months.
Vincent knew that there was only one man to put his faith in these days. The Dark Lord had won, he had won, and everyone else was kidding themselves. What chance did Potter stand, after all, against the greatest wizard of all time? What chance did the world stand, really?
On his left stood Greg Goyle and on his right was Tracey Davis, her blonde hair pulled back in a high ponytail. Vincent tried to catch the pretty blonde’s eye, but she was focused straight ahead on Professor Carrow, her big brown eyes unblinking. Tracey had always been a bit pompous anyway, Vincent thought. Much too arrogant for a girl.
Alecto dismissed them with a wave of her hand a few minutes later and the handful of students streamed into the corridor, talking animatedly about their plans to catch the trio. Vincent declared that he’d be the one to catch them loudly with his chest puffed out as he walked past Tracey. She rolled her eyes at the obvious show and continued down to the Slytherin common room with her arm linked with Pansy.
Two days passed and no one had even seen a glimpse of Ginny, Neville, or Luna. They didn’t show up to meals or classes, they were never in their dormitories, they had simply vanished into thin air. Those who remembered Umbridge’s rule were certain that they were in the Room of Requirement, but this time, there was no traitor around to give the secret away. The three rebels of the school were gone and as each hour without their presence passed, the Carrows grew more and more irritable.
The Carrows kept the population on edge as always, but something about missing their three rebel leaders made the foundations shake. Few still dared to speak out, and those who did paid for it dearly. Padma Patil was still hanging in the dungeons for declaring loudly that the Carrows would never win and Seamus Finnegan spent a good amount of his time dodging the Carrows and any supporters, desperately trying to avoid their punishments for being Neville’s only remaining roommate. Crabbe had taken to standing outside the general area of the Room of Requirement for hours at a time, just waiting for them to show themselves.
Tracey Davis sniggered at him posted at the same spot as she strutted on past, her blonde ponytail swinging back and forth and a dirty house elf following her dutifully.
“Professor Carrow?” she knocked on the Muggle Studies professor’s door, her voice a sweet sing song.
“Hello Miss Davis,” the professor said as she swung her heavy door open. “What can I do for you?”
“My grandparents are away on vacation for a few months, you know, escaping the cold weather, and they were hoping that their elf could have a temporary place at Hogwarts,” she smiled sweetly as she roughly pushed the elf forward so that Professor Carrow could see it. “His name is Elbert.”
“Certainly,” Professor Carrow nodded. “Send him down to the kitchens immediately.”
Without another word, Alecto Carrow pushed the door shut in Tracey’s face. A crooked smile spread across the young blonde’s face as she walked away from the office.
“Explain to me again what we’re doing?” Veronica Jemiah asked Tracey. The two girls hurried down the staircase from Ravenclaw Tower to the dungeons with Tracey’s elf in tow. Veronica had a bit of a nervous sweat across her forehead as she followed her Slytherin best friend. Since they were young, Veronica and Tracey had been inseparable, not even differing Hogwarts Houses had forced them apart.
“We’re going to capture the trio,” Tracey explained. “Everyone and their mother knows that they’re hiding in the Room of Requirement, but we just need something to lure them out.”
“House elves,” Tracey nodded. “Remember Malfoy’s old elf? Elbert says the dumb creature is absolutely devoted to Harry Potter. It’s helping Potter’s little posse here, I just know it.”
“So what?” Veronica raised her eyebrow. “If they’re in the Room of Requirement, the elf can’t do anything about it.”
“Potter’s girlfriend won’t let that elf die,” Tracey sneered. “The Weasley brat’s obsessed with Potter.”
“They’ll know the plan right away,” Veronica pointed out. “They’ll know it’s a trap.”
“So what?” Tracey smirked. “They’re Gryffindors. They’ll come on some dumb rescue mission anyway.”
“They can’t possibly be that daft.”
“You overestimate Gryffindors,” Tracey rolled her eyes and laughed as she linked arms with her friend.
Veronica and Tracey found themselves in the deepest dungeons in the castle, with only a dim torch lighting the dank room. Tracey pulled a knife out of her robes, the sharp blade glowing in the firelight as she commanded her elf to bring the captive. A single dirty elf stumbled out of the shadows, the creature bound up in a straightjacket.
Seamus, Lavender, and Parvati sat next to each other in the Great Hall as they silently ate their dinner – plain mash and soggy vegetables. Seamus poked at his food and daydreamed hopelessly of the extravagant feasts of the previous years with their whirlwind of delectable treats. He knew it was simply a way to crush them even more as he could see Slytherin table across the hall enjoying their smaller than usual, but still hearty meal. Resources in England had been scarce in the previous months and Seamus knew it was only going to get worse in the winter. The new regime refused to import from the muggle farmers and wizarding England had just never had a culture of farming before.
He, like everyone else, had heard the rumours of the people on the outside starving because of the new prices for food. Even worse, Seamus had heard what happened to those who tried to buy or steal from muggle grocery stores instead. It was a cruel world outside the castle walls, but when he looked around at the beaten and tortured students around him, Seamus was reminded that it was a cruel world inside too.
“I’m getting out of here,” Parvati said quietly as she stood. Her plate of mash and vegetables remained untouched, only the water glass was empty. Over the past few months, she’d grown thinner and thinner, her body getting frail and weak from the malnutrition. She always claimed that she felt too sick to eat, that she couldn’t stomach it knowing that her family on the outside was starving. And lately, her sister as well, who was still in Carrows’ dungeon.
Lavender quickly followed her friend out of the hall, shooting Seamus a quick glance as if to ask if he were coming as well. Seamus looked down wistfully at his half-finished plate, but decided to follow the girls out anyway. They really were all he had left at the godforsaken school. Parvati’s ankles shook as she walked, her whole frame slumped over. He didn’t know much about the situation, but from what he gathered, Parvati and Padma’s family had never come from much money to begin with, but now they were getting desperate. Seamus thought of his own mother, safe in Ireland for the time being and felt a surge of guilt wash over him.
As they climbed up the staircase, Parvati found herself resting more and more of her disappearing weight on Seamus as her feet began to give out underneath her. As they finally approached the tower, he was practically carrying her through the portrait hole.
“Parv, you need to eat,” Lavender pleaded with her friend as they set her down on the sofa. “You’re ill.”
“I just can’t,” she mumbled, tears stinging her eyes. “I just can’t do it.”
“Please Parv,” Lavender begged. She reached into the folds of her robe and produced a single slightly moldy roll. Seamus’s eyes widened at the sight of it – stealing food from the Great Hall was a huge offense these days.
“Lav, you shouldn’t have,” Parvati said softly, her voice fading. “They’ll torture you for that.”
“I can’t lose you too,” Lavender shook her head, she held Parvati’s frail hand in hers and kissed it softly. “Please eat.”
“Come on Parv,” Seamus rubbed her shoulder and smiled kindly at her. “Don’t give up now. Don’t you want to see the look on Snape’s face when we finally kick him out of that office?”
“I wish,” Parvati almost chuckled. A weak smile spread across her face as she looked at her two closest friends. Seamus had been an unlikely friend to her this past year, but she couldn’t imagine it without him now. “I don’t know how we’ll ever get out of this.”
“By fighting back,” Lavender said. “By staying strong and fighting back. We deserve justice. We will beat them.”
“I just can’t do it,” her eyelids fluttered as she leaned her head back on the armchair back. Parvati’s hair fell over her shoulders, not thick and shiny the way it always was, but thinning, falling out quickly, all that shine gone. She shivered as she drifted off.
“I wish I could,” she whispered. “But I just can’t do it.”
Lavender stood up again as Parvati fell asleep. She still didn’t take her eyes off her best friend, though Parvati looked less and less like the girl they once knew every day. Lavender pulled her wand out of her pocket, flicking it slowly to raise Parvati up and send her up to her bed. She floated gracefully up the stairs and disappeared around the bend. Lavender followed as Seamus stood in the common room watching them disappear. It happened all too often now. Malnutrition, starvation. Every day, he saw children starve. Children whose bodies were still growing and couldn’t handle it anymore.
He plopped down on the sofa and stared at the dying fire. At least he could always count on that to be burning, even if the common room never did seem as warm as before. He was the only one there, everyone else still eating their meager meal. He was alone often these days, either alone or with Parvati and Lavender, there was no one else left.
Out of the corner of his eye, a house elf appeared from the shadows of Gryffindor common room. It wore the fluffy white towels that all Hogwarts elves wore and carried in his little hands a bit of parchment. Seamus watched curiously as the creature made his way out from the shadows towards him, his big bug eyes downcast, his ears almost flat.
“Can I help you?” Seamus asked the pathetic looking creature. The elf said nothing, but still walked towards Seamus. In his hands, he held a crumpled up piece of paper. The elf held out the paper to Seamus and as soon as he had it, the elf disappeared without a single word.
Seamus sat dumbfounded staring at the spot the elf had just disapparated from. He’d never paid much attention to the house elves at the school before, but they usually didn’t allow themselves to be seen, let alone deliver cryptic messages to the students.
“What’s that?” Lavender asked as she came back down the stairs.
“I dunno,” Seamus shrugged. “This house elf just appeared and gave it to me.”
“Weird,” Lavender came and perched on the arm of Seamus’s chair. She took the paper from him and unfolded it. Her eyes went wide, her mouth dropping open as she read the messy scrawl.
We have Dobby. Bring the trio to the last dungeon, or the elf dies.
“We can’t,” Lavender breathed as she passed the note to Seamus. He scanned it quickly and turned back to her, panic on his face. “We can’t give them up!”
“Well we can’t let Dobby die!” Seamus protested. He jumped to his feet, pacing back and forth in front of the fire, ripping at the edges of the note with her nervous fingers. He thought of the kindly elf, the one Harry had introduced to the other boys in fourth year. He’d never cared much for the creature before, but that elf had helped them in their time of need. He shuddered to think what would have become of Parvati already if Dobby hadn’t brought the potions for her health. And all the other young students. The supplements and nutrients they needed but the Carrows wouldn’t give, it all came from Dobby.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Lavender tugged at her hair as she slid into the recently vacated armchair. She tucked her knees into her chest, rocking gently back and forth as she let out her string of rude words.
“We have to go save Dobby,” Lavender exclaimed. She pulled her wand out of her boot and held it in both her hands. “We have to go!”
“Calm down, calm down!” Seamus grabbed her arms on both sides. Lavender’s breathing was heavy, her hands beginning to twitch, her mind racing over all the possibilities.
“We have to go!” Lavender cried. “I can’t, I just can’t have that blood on my hands! I can’t Seamus, we have to save Dobby! It’s Dobby, he… he’d save us in a heartbeat.”
“I know, I just… what if…”
“What’s going on here?” a timid voice asked from behind them. Lavender whipped around to find herself face to face with Parvati again. She leaned against the wall, her wand in hand, though her legs still seemed to shake under her weight.
“It’s nothing Parv,” Lavender said, her voice trembling. “Go back to sleep. Rest.”
“Something’s going on,” Parvati shook her head. She started towards Lavender and Seamus, standing straighter somehow, the shine in her eyes returning as she registered the worry on their faces. Dark circles still lined them, but somehow, she seemed to come alive again.
“It’s nothing. I swear,” Lavender pleaded. “We’re dealing with it.”
“Dobby right?” Parvati crossed her thin arms over her chest. “Sound carries around here.”
Author's Note: Hello readers! I know it's been an incredibly long time since I've last updated, but a lot of stuff got in the way and I really lost my muse with this one. I've been spending a lot of time planning and plotting it again, so hopefully the next updates will come sooner. Anyway, I hope you liked this chapter!
The chapter title, Glavlit, refers to the USSR entity that dealt with censorhip and state secrets. I sort of wanted to show a little about the almost police state that Hogwarts, and the UK beyond the castle, had become, so that's where this title came from.
Edit March 5: Edited for some grammar and I added how Lavender and Seamus know Dobby and why they care so much about him. He sneaks them potions and vitamin supplements for the younger children and Parvati.
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