The roar of the sudden thunder was their first warning, followed shortly by the explosion of a harsh rain that pelted them mercilessly. Those students that had already exited the castle to travel to their destinations via the outdoor routes to class scattered and sought shelter as the storm exploded over Hogwarts. They cowered wherever they could find a place to as hailstones began to join the raindrops in their attack on the structure. Shrieks of terror rang though the air as painful reminders of what a speeding hailstone felt like as it hit a person occurred.
Tom glared out through the window in the common room of the Isolation Tower at the tumult that was occurring while his companions felt their gratitude that they had not been caught outdoors. Glass that had withstood storms in the past cracked and broke as the whirling storm punished anything in its path and the residents of Hogsmeade were not immune to the terror as they too came under its assault.
Witches and wizards of all ages did their best to stay away from the unleashed fury that was rumbling over the castle, lake and their village while only a short distance away from the scene clear skies could be seen. Dippet and Dumbledore looked out through one of the windows of the Headmaster’s office at the terrifying storm that was raging outside the structure as they pondered what was happening.
Clearly, they understood, this was not a normal storm as it had appeared far too quickly. This brought them to wonder who was responsible as they believed that none of the students in the castle were capable of such an act. They knew that none of the children in the castle were able to cast such power into the heavens and cause such terror. This meant that someone much more powerful had to be responsible for what was happening.
Molly and Carol were among those who had scurried to find cover from the fury falling from the sky and were huddling in one of the covered walkways along with many other children. They screamed as several of the roof tiles above them fell from where they belonged to crash near the shrieking children. The abrupt opening in the roof allowed a torrent of rain and hailstones to fall upon the previously protected students and more than one of them, Molly included, suffered minor cuts from that tiles that had abandoned the roof.
Clearly the roof was going to collapse and frantic children began to look for another place to be. It was Carol that noticed a much safer area where the wind and flying hazards would be partly blocked by the structure of the castle and she grabbed the hand of her friend to urge Molly to a safer refuge. The girls left where they were and rushed, along with several others, to the pocket where they found the chaos much diminished. A rumble caught their attention and the group looked back to see the place where they had been now in shambles, courtesy of a collapsing roof. Somewhat protected, although soaked to the skin, the children ducked back as far as they could while the fury of nature raged.
The wind outside the castle screamed as it whipped around the castle over and over again, carrying the debris that it had picked up. The massive window at the end of the Great Hall vanished in a rain of shards of ancient glass as a tree, uprooted by the storm and thrown through the air by the gale, was shoved through it and into the chamber. The braziers along the walls and the candles floating above the tables, still lit, went out abruptly as tables and other furniture was tossed about to land sometimes in areas far from their departure point. Slammed shut by the tables, benches, chairs and debris that was unrecognizable, the great doors were pinned closed and those few residents of the castle that were still within the chamber made haste to leave via the only other exit available as the massive roof supports overhead groaned with the effort of remaining in place. The professor and three students who had been kept behind to receive a dressing by the incensed witch rushed through the door which led to the trophy room and kitchen. The sounds of more glass breaking echoed in their wake as the door that they had just used slammed shut, courtesy of a wave of the professor’s wand.
Portia and William cowered under the beds in their rooms while they wondered if the tower, which was much older than some parts of the castle, would remain standing or if it would crumble to pieces and eject them out into the hurricane-like winds that howled. The windows had one by one departed the structure and thus many of the contents had been sucked out of the rooms that they had once occupied to become hazardous missiles to be dodged.
Tom, his fury at the situation unabated, stood in the center of the room while the furniture around him took a battering. He was untouched by all of the chaos other than being soaked by the rain which had been forced into the room in a steady deluge. He screamed out his outrage at what had happened because of his plot and the storm outside the room intensified as the dark clouds grew in size and strength.
Molly and her group, despite their protected location, found themselves in a very real danger of being sucked out of where they were by the wind and becoming missiles themselves. The terrified children clung together knowing that if one of them was pulled out into the storm, they all likely would be. A form appeared suddenly before them with an inaudible POP and they swiftly grabbed the robes of Armando Dippet before he vanished once again, taking them with him to the lowest levels of the castle. Here and there, around the outside of the castle, the scene was repeated as other professors rescued stranded and terrified children.
Tom knew this, somehow he knew that Molly was safe and thus so was Carol, and it infuriated as well as distracted him. The wind outside the tower was growing in strength and would have brought the ancient tower, which was part of the original castle, down. But a small book that had been hurled through the air after being ripped from the hands of its owner flew into the room and struck the boy in the head. Tom collapsed in the center of the room as the storm outside began to subside. Nearly as quickly as they had formed, the storm clouds vanished and the hellish rain of precipitation and debris came to an end. Here and there the surface of the lake was dotted by the splashes of debris which fell into it and wreckage that bobbed on the water.
Slowly, the residents of the castle emerged from their refuges to take stock of what had happened while the citizens of the village below did the same. Smoke rose from damaged structures in Hogsmeade and the baleful orange of flames licked skyward in places. Several buildings were either badly damaged or completely collapsed and the cries of the wounded echoed through the narrow streets.
The students quietly made their way out of their hiding spots and were quickly gathered and taken into the lower levels where they were divided by years and Houses to take attendance or, more to the point, to ensure that there had been no casualties.
Armando Dippet looked around the devastated area where he stood and realized to his horror that the three students who had been sent to the Isolation Tower were not present. He vanished with a POP and appeared a moment later in the common room of the area to find it just as badly damaged as the rest of the castle. Two thoroughly frightened students, having heard the sound of his apparation, staggered towards him from their bedchambers but the third was nowhere to be seen. He vanished with the pair to see to it that they were accounted for before vanishing once again to return to the ruined room. Albus Dumbledore, having been given temporary rights to apparate within Hogwarts and knowing who was missing, appeared a moment later.
“Have you found him yet, Headmaster Dippet?”
“No, Albus, I have not. We need to double our efforts to locate Mister Riddle.”
Dumbledore drew his wand and watched as, after he had cast a spell, the debris slowly lifted into the air to expose what lay underneath. Nearly immediately a small form that had been hidden by the table which had landed almost on top of it became visible, a nasty mark visible on the forehead of the boy. Casting the debris aside with a flick of his wand, Albus Dumbledore gathered Tom into his arms and the pair vanished to reappear in the temporary hospital that had already been opened. Healers from St. Mungos were already rushing about as they assisted the staff from the school in treating the injuries that had been received.
Dumbledore laid the child onto a bed and was immediately pushed aside by a healer who started the process of examining the boy. The professor could only watch as other students, some in far worse shape than Tom, were brought in and sometimes taken immediately away to travel to London and the hospital there. The storm had done incredible damage to the castle and, he feared, the village below.
He was correct in thinking this and it was not long before the injured from Hogsmeade began to appear. Damaged though it was, Hogwarts was a much more secure place than the smaller structures in the village, some of which were uninhabitable at the moment.
Tom moaned lightly as the healer worked on him and finally managed to open his eyes. He looked up at the healer who was tending to him and relaxed as his headache subsided. What had hit him he didn’t know, but it certainly hurt.
“You are a lucky young man,” the healer announced. “This could have been much worse than it is. A dose of Pain-B-Gone will take care of it nicely.”
Tom opened his eyes wide at the mention of the detested elixir that was often prescribed by the nurse at school. It was awful, even worse than the castor oil that he had sometimes been given when at the orphanage. At least this helped him to sleep afterwards, the Muggle remedy merely made him feel a bit worse.
“What happened?” Tom asked, remembering to sound confused.
“There was a terrible storm and a number of people were injured, but thankfully no one lost their life. Hogwarts and Hogsmeade are in ruins, but can be repaired. I should imagine that the repairs are already underway, given the efficiency of the elves.”
Tom grimaced at the sight of the glass that was being prepared for him and soon was being handed the vessel. He gulped the contents quickly and fought down the shudders that he felt as the potion went down his throat. The healer too the glass from him and watched as the boy on the bed finally closed his eyes and went to sleep.
Molly sat quietly as one of the nurses tended to the cut that she had received when a piece of a roof tile had struck her. She winced as the wound was examined and glanced around the room at the other injured that had been brought here. The girl could clearly see Tom and wondered if he was okay. She hated him at the moment for what he had done to Carol, but didn’t like to see anyone in pain. Molly watched as the boy was given what was obviously Pain-B-Gone and shuddered, she knew that her mother would treat her the same way that Tom was receiving medication. The healer straightened and then drew his wand.
“I think that we can take care of this rather easily. If you will just sit still for a moment, Molly, we can get it handled.”
Molly sat quietly as the wand glowed in response to the incantation used and was relieved when she felt the damage heal itself. A mirror appeared in front of her and she smiled as she saw that the repairs had been done well enough that she wouldn’t have a scar on her face.
“There you are, it looks much better.”
The girl nodded her agreement and hopped down off of the bed that she had been sitting on. She looked up at the healer and then smiled before speaking.
“Thank you, sir.”
“It was my pleasure, Miss Porter, please say hello your parents for me.”
“You know my parents?”
“Certainly,” the wizard replied, “I went to school here with them. Just mention the name Jonas Campbell and they will know who you are talking about.”
“Thank you again.”
“Have a nice day, Molly.”
The girl walked away from the bed and, as she approached the door, found that she was being directed towards an unfamiliar classroom. She glanced at the Prefect that had sent her on her way with a small amount of irritation, but followed his directions. A few minutes later she found herself sitting with the remainder of her class in Defense against the Dark Arts while Professor Lands kept his students busy. He looked up as the girl entered the room and spoke to her.
“Miss Porter, I am so happy to see you. We are merely doing some reading and will be in this room until the normal one is repaired.”
“I lost my books and other things outside, Professor Lands,” the girl answered as she hung her head in sorrow.
“I am quite certain that they will be recovered, until then you may use one of these books.”
Molly nodded and walked quietly to an empty chair where she settled down to begin to read.
The students would find their routines severely altered while the castle underwent repairs. Through the use of magic, the elves soon had piles of books and other belongings ready to be reclaimed by their owners. The items swiftly sorted themselves according to owner and any damage was quickly repaired so that the students received their things back as they had been before the storm had exploded over the castle.
Armando Dippet stood in the middle of the Great Hall as he watched the damage done to the chamber repair itself. Several elder elves, some of them among those that had helped assemble the castle in the first place, were busy using their abilities to set things right. The tree had vanished to be replanted where it had been while the giant window knitted itself back together and the smaller ones did the same. Tables, benches and chairs moved back to where they belonged and, in some cases, repaired themselves. After several minutes, the braziers and candles relit themselves and the large doors at the end of the room reopened as the last of the wreckage that had held them shut vanished to travel to its needed location where it reassembled to what it had been in the first place.
The headmaster looked with satisfaction at the progress although he knew that it would be at least a few days before the castle was completely repaired. Armando Dippet walked to the entry foyer to glance up the debris strewn stairs as repairs continued there, although at a greatly accelerated pace. The stairs and corridors were needed to facilitate passage to and from different areas of the castle, especially to those Houses that were in towers. As it was, those students who lived in the towers were going to have to be relocated to some of the lower areas that had once been classrooms. It would be inconvenient for the children, but necessary until the stairs were safe and the common rooms and dormitories were repaired.
He walked out through the front doors of the castle to survey the wreckage that had once been a grand entry courtyard. Smoke rose from the village and he knew that things must be as bad, if not worse there, than they were at the castle. Certainly the disaster would have long term effects and Hogsmeade would also be under repair for an extended time while the affected residents wondered just what had happened to cause the disaster. He drew his wand and cast a spell at one of the shattered sections of the covered walkway.
Instantly, the damage began to repair itself with missing pieces of stone and tile reappearing from seemingly nowhere. The aging wizard slowly turned from one section of damaged wall to the next repeating the incantation until the stonework was repaired far more efficiently than an expert team of Muggle stonemasons could have done. There was no sign of the damage that had occurred and, as he watched, a bench that had been knocked over stood upright and moved back into the position that it had occupied for generations.
Above him, the tinkling of glass knitting itself back together caught his attention and Dippet stepped out to watch as windows frames mended themselves and then reclaimed their contents. Books and parchments and other things that the students had dropped in their frenzy fluttered past him to rejoin the neat stacks that were appearing on the tables in the Great Hall to wait for the owners return. Yes, Hogwarts would rise again, but first something needed to be done to determine just what had happened in the first place.
Albus Dumbledore stood in front of his Transfiguration class while he too tried to restore normalcy to students who largely appeared to be dazed by what had just occurred. The courtyard outside his classroom was littered with debris which had fallen from above and so he had been moved to a long unused room and had had to cast a charm which would lead the children to the new location. All of the professors had employed this charm and it was not uncommon to see glowing footprints on the floor in different colors, with each color denoting the location of a certain professor.
Throughout the castle, nearly silent children did what was asked of them without question, they were all too shell shocked to even consider defiance. Barriers to prevent them from going into dangerous areas of the castle rose and they soon realized that they were going to have to live with the inconvenience and learn new routes to class.
The elves fought a mighty battle with the most heavily damaged and therefore most dangerous areas of the structure. Here and there, there were echoing rumbles as overtaxed structures gave up and collapsed, usually in a cloud of dust. It was a student who noticed that the heavily damaged Isolation Tower had assumed a dangerous tilt and the elves quickly moved to stabilize it before it could fall. The team of elven elders used their formidable powers to not only straighten the tower, but also to repair the damage that it had received. If one could have looked inside the seemingly mortally wounded tower they would have been stunned to see the shattered supports coming back together and torn framing moving back into place. Gradually, strength returned to the ancient structure and the danger that it represented to the rest of the castle abated as the possibility of its collapse diminished.
Children would eat their meals in the Great Hall as normal and it was not long before the first post-storm meal was being consumed. Here and there, joyous reunions took place and hugs were given as the children encountered people that they had feared for. Tom would receive very few of these hugs when he too entered the Great Hall, his suspension lifted until it was certain that the Isolation Tower was safe to be occupied.
Molly and Carol did their best to avoid looking at the dark haired boy and their concentration on that fact was painfully obvious to him. Tom could only watch as Molly rebuilt the circle of friends around her and knew that he would be a long time in wiggling his way back into her thoughts.
Holiday break was coming soon and he would have to return to the orphanage. This meant that the girl would travel to her own home and the counsel of her parents. He knew, after the meeting in the office of Professor Dippet, that Molly’s father would not tolerate any contact from him with Molly and the mother of the girl would likely feel the same way. He had made a terrible mistake and now he had to figure out just how to make it all right again.
That was, of course, if he could.
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