A/N - Once again, enjoy and review!
The pain from my wrist had gone, and no matter how hard I protested, Madam Pomfrey insisted that I stay in the hospital until night.
It was going around the whole school that Harry was going to be Gryffindor team seeker. At least my misfortune brought some good to someone. A few students had been coming and going from injuries either done in class or possible during flying lessons. Some not as bad as mine, but almost. Seamus had been in to give me the homework I've missed and to tell me that Malfoy was still making fun of me. I was hoping it would have died down by now, but apparently not.
"Yeah, he's telling everyone he put a spell on your broom so you'd fall off. I kept trying to say that was rubbish, but one against four isn't effective", Seamus explained.
"Thanks for trying I guess."
"No problem", said Seamus as he swallowed a piece of candy he got out of his pocket. "I heard Malfoy challenged Harry to duel tonight. I was going to watch, but they plan on doing it after curfew, and I'm not going to risk getting more points taken from our house than I already have. During Charms, I may or may not have kept setting Flitwick's hat on fire", he said, his smile was filled with mischief.
We talked about the upcoming Quidditch game, both of us excited to seeing Harry play. But Seamus had to leave, according to Madam Pomfrey, he had overstayed his welcome. That gave me the peace and quiet I've wanted to finish my homework.
The time came for me to leave the hospital and go back to the common room. I caught a few kids staring at me, snickering. It kind of bothered me, but I didn't show it, I was only focused on getting to bed.
I climbed up the stairs greeting the Fat Lady with the password.
"Incorrect", she said. My throat went dry.
"Wrong?", I said. I then remembered Percy had said the passwords would change from time to time so students from the other Houses couldn't get in. I randomly tried out words, but none worked. "Can't you just let me in?"
"Not without the password". I rolled my eyes in frustration. I was thinking hard about what to do, because it was almost curfew and nobody would be wandering the halls, not unless they wanted to get caught by Filch. Maybe there were kids coming down the corridor to get in, I thought.
Walking down the dark hall, I didn't see anybody there. Suddenly, there were spine tingling cackles coming down the hall. Thinking it was Filch, I ran to the end of the corridor and hid behind a tapestry, the cold wall, chilling my skin. The laughter got louder, and as soon as I could see a white figure floating in front of me, I peered out from the curtain and saw the ghost of the Bloody Baron with another ghost talking, and disappeared into a wall.
I let out a sigh of relief. I knew it would probably be safe to sit on the floor, to see if anyone would come by soon. The moment I stuck out one foot, the Bloody Baron had reappeared and I barely had time to hide again. He looked up and down the hall, seeing nothing, he went back where he came from.
I cautiously stepped out from behind the curtains, looked back and forth, then sat on the chilled floor. As I tugged at a loose string on my pants, it felt like hours since I had first sat down. I leaned against the wall, and thought it wouldn't hurt to close my eyes for a few minutes.
I must have been dreaming because I could see myself on my broom flying up into the sky, still not in control, then I began falling, and falling, and falling, but it faded to black. It was still dark, but I could hear a woman laughing, along with a man, laughing like they were having the time of their lives. Just laughing, but I couldn't quite put who the voices belonged to.
Jolting awake, I thought my dream turned into a nightmare when I realized I was shaking when I woke up.
There were whispers coming down the hall that led to the common room. Thinking it was Filch, I froze out of fear, not able to move as fast, because I've been sleeping on the floor.
Three figures came around the corner and it was Hermione, Harry Potter, and Ron Weasley. I relaxed and leaned back, knowing I wasn't getting in trouble by them; at least I hoped I wasn't. They saw me, looking shocked. "Thank goodness you found me!", I said. "I've been out here for hours, I couldn't remember the new password to get into bed".
Hermione glared at me, putting one finger to her mouth, which meant be quiet. "Keep your voice down, Neville. The password's Pig Snout, but it won't help you now, the Fat Lady's gone off somewhere".
"How's your arm?", Harry asked me.
I showed them. "Fine".
"Good, well, look, Neville, we've got to be somewhere, we'll see you later-". Seamus told me they were planning on having a duel. I didn't want to go, but at the same time I didn't want to get caught by a teacher.
"Don't leave me!", I begged, getting to my feet. "I don't want to stay here alone, the Bloody Baron's been past twice already".
Ron looked annoyed, it was clear that he didn't want Hermione and me there.
"If either of you get us caught, I'll never rest until I've learned that Curse of the Bogies Quirrell told us about, and used it on you", he threatened.
We followed Harry through the empty halls to a trophy room. I guess this is where the duel was happening. We were there for a while. Harry and Ron stood next to each other whispering, while Hermione stood next to me, rambling about how much trouble we'd be in, and I couldn't help but agree with her.
"Sniff around, my sweet, they might be lurking in the corner", came a voice, Filch's voice. Panic filled me as I looked at Harry, not knowing what to do.
He motioned for us to leave from the door we came through.
Our little adventure through the torch lit castle wasn't fun for me at all. There were a few incidents, I accidentally caused Ron and me to crash into a row of knights armor, banging as they hit the floor, Peeves made an appearance and began shouting that there were students out of bed.
The moment we stopped in an empty classroom, Hermione was scolding Harry and Ron about how Malfoy tricked them into a duel so they could get caught by Filch. I wasn't too shocked, it was wonder with all the racket we're making, I was surprised that no other Professors were searching for us.
With Filch and his cat still on our trail, we ran towards a door that was locked, but Hermione grabbed Harry's wand, said 'Alohomora', and the door unlocked itself.
We hurried into the room, and quickly closed the door behind us. I looked into the room, which turned out to be a large corridor, and at first saw nothing, but as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, what I saw made me freeze out of fear. There, standing before us was a very, very big dog. It wasn't a normal dog either. It was black, and didn't have just one head, but three giant heads, all looking equally angry at seeing us.
I tugged on Harry's bathrobe. He clearly didn't see the beast yet, because he kept telling me to stop. He finally saw the dog, growling and drooling. Thankfully, Harry reopened the door, and the four of us ran through, closed it, and seeing that Filch was no where to be found, we ran all the way back to the fat lady's portrait. She asked where we were, but Harry gave her the password, making her swing open.
The minute we reached the common room, I was out of breath from running and decided to sit on a chair before going up to our dorm. I could hear Harry, Ron, and Hermione talking as they went to bed.
Hermione was saying how the dog was standing on a door. I didn't catch the rest as I was relaxing, making a note never to go near that door ever again.
The next morning, at breakfast, Sarah sat across from me, and I told her everything that happened. Her eyebrows were so high, they almost were hidden under her bangs. She was about to say something when the mail arrived. Her pet owl swooped above her and dropped a letter in her lap. She quickly opened it, read it, and nodded. After putting the letter back in the envelope, she rested her elbows on the table and looked at me.
"Why would Professor Dumbledore allow a creature like that to be in his school?", Sarah said, biting her lip as she thought.
"I heard Hermione said she thinks it was standing on a door. Maybe guarding something?"
"Or maybe Quirrell has it for a Dark Arts lesson?", she suggested. "Either way, it isn't safe."
"I don't know. Quirrell doesn't seem brave enough to handle a three headed dog", I said.
She started laughing, and started imitating his constant stuttering; I burst out laughing, too. "Speaking of Quirrell, when I asked him a question at his desk, I understand what George Weasley meant by his turban smelling funny. It smelled like something died."
The day after the scare from the huge dog that I'm pretty sure tried to eat Harry, Ron, Hermione and me, was pretty relaxing.
Classes like Charms, Transfiguration, and Herbology were really fun. Darks Arts was interesting too. Quirrell started to get annoying from his constant stuttering, but once he showed us a spell to keep away bats. Most of the kids got the hang of it, but my wand didn't want to work for me, probably because it wasn't mine in the first place.
Potions was the class I dreaded most, because Snape seemed to single out Harry and me the out of everyone else.
Since it was Friday, we had afternoons off, meaning we could catch up on homework, or take walks around the grounds.
The sun was shining, and we were allowed to put on our regular clothes, seeing this opportunity to get out of my warm, itchy robes, I put on my red tee shirt, but kept my black pants on.
I planned on spending my day off down near the lake and near the woods, just for some fresh air. Seamus and Dean were coming with me, I wasn't sure it was because they liked me or just because they needed a break as well.
They were sitting in the common room, trading chocolate frog cards. As soon as they saw me, they picked up the cards and shoved them into their pockets. Seamus, wearing a Gryffindor sweater and tan khakis, Dean was wearing the same Gryffindor sweater we all were supplied with, and black shorts.
"It's boiling out guys", I said, as we exited the Fat Lady's portrait, and down the main staircase.
"I don't mind it. I just want it to be clear we're in Gryffindor is all", explained Seamus, even though he began tugging at his collar.
"Yeah, what's wrong with a little school spirit?", asked Dean, following us.
I shrugged. "If you say so". We passed the Great Hall, and out the doors, into the warm air. After walking down the path to the Black Lake, we started picking up rocks and trying to see who could throw them the farthest. We did this for a while, but got bored and started walking around the edge of the water.
"You know, I've heard there's a giant squid in that lake. That giant told me about it. I asked him if it would kill us if we fell in, but he said it's really gentle. Rubbish, I thought", said Seamus, sorting the cards he had in his pocket.
"Me too", said Dean. "A beast that size could kill all the men he wanted."
"Then I guess it was a bad idea to come down here", I said, getting nervous being this close.
"I'm sure its a myth. I've asked a few people here, they said they never seen it", informed Dean.
"Well", said a voice behind us. Sarah walked up beside Seamus, her jean overalls the same color as the lake, and her hair in two braids, kept swinging back and forth as she tried keeping up with us. "I wouldn't be surprised if there was a squid in that lake. There's all kind of creatures here. And after what you told me, Neville, about that dog, I don't think Care of Magical Creatures will be all too entertaining."
I gave her a look that told her to be quiet. Seamus and Dean saw what I was doing.
"What kind of dog?"
"A big one, with three heads", said Sarah, smiling still finding it amazing, even if she wasn't surprised. As they began asking me questions, I told them everything I told her.
"Promise you guys won't tell anyone else", I pleaded. They promised, but Seamus got the same mischievous smirk he always had. Dean suddenly looked really annoyed, and whispered to me, "Does she really need to hang out with us?". He tried to say it so only I could here. It obviously didn't work, because Sarah glared at him. I realized her and Dean haven't talked much. "Of course she can, she's my friend", I said. "What do you think, Seamus?"
"I don't have a problem with her", he admitted. "So far, she's the only girl in our year who likes Quidditch. That's good enough for me". I looked at Sarah to see how she took that, and was surprised to see she was blushing.
The rest of the time we spent outside, was pretty decent. We took our shoes off and walked in the water, and tried to look around the edge of the Forbidden Forest; Dean could have sworn he saw something move.
"I gotta go", Sarah said, putting her shoes back on.
"Where are you going?", I asked. She looked as though she couldn't think of what to say.
"It's kind of a secret."
"I told you about the dog, so you can tell me about what you're doing", I said, frustrated. I made sure Seamus and Dean weren't listening, they were too busy throwing more rocks.
Looking defeated, she came closer to me. "Fine. Hannah, Zacharias, Ernie, Justin, and me found a way into the kitchens". She was telling me about a portrait with a bowl of fruit on it. There was a passage behind the picture, it was like getting into the Gryffindor common room, but instead of saying a password, you had to tickle a pear and the picture would open and you could get in. "Ooh! Also there are Elves down there! Here I thought it was the staff here that made our meals. They let us eat as much as we want. There's one elf I really like, he wasn't given a name, so I call him Monty, after my father. You can come with me if you'd like!"
"Sure", I said, putting my shoes on and followed her back to the castle.
I wondered if Seamus and Dean would notice if I was gone or not, I doubt it.
Being in a cold part of the castle didn't help me, especially since my shoes were soaking wet. I followed Sarah up to the portrait with the pear that needed to be tickled. Once she tickled it, the large picture swung open, revealing another tunnel and a lot of commotion echoed through the tunnel. A tug at my sleeve made me walk into the dark which led to the kitchens.
A warm feeling rushed over me, as I realized just how hot it was in here. The next thing I saw were little creatures, cleaning the floors, pots, pans, dishes, and preparing meals. The elves looked like little bats almost, except they couldn't fly. They were all wearing what looked like pillowcases; I guess they couldn't afford clothing. I got distracted by the small, fragile looking creatures to notice the loud crash of teacups next to me.
"Monty, are you okay?!". I heard Sarah yell. I quick looked to see her comforting a rather tiny house elf in her arms. He was shaking and his eyes were as wide as biscuits. I walked over to her sitting on the floor while two other elves cleaned up the mess.
"Y-yes, Miss. Monty is fine. Just clumsy is all, Miss", he said, his voice trembling. I couldn't really blame him, I'm a klutz once in a while.
"It's okay, just calm down", she whispered to the pathetic thing. A few seconds later, she got him to his feet. He was really skinny like the others, but he wasn't as dirty. "See? You're okay", she said, when she smiled at him, he returned the smile.
"So, uh, you come down here often?", I asked, sitting beside her, as she fixed his filthy pillowcase and Monty played with her fingers.
"Yeah. This is where Justin, Hannah, and the others and I come down whenever we have free time. They mostly just come down for the food, but I like talking to these guys". I noticed she wasn't looking at me. I tried to catch her eye, but she seemed determined to not look at me.
"Why haven't you invited me along?". Silence. "Sarah?"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, Neville", her voice was steady, as if silently asking me to stop. But it's when I did stop talking that she finally looked at me, her face was pleading. "It's just, Ernie doesn't like you. And he keeps bugging me and telling me I shouldn't be friends with you. I tell him to shut up, but he won't leave me alone about it."
I didn't know what to think, let alone say. "Ernie and I never talk. Why doesn't he like me?"
"He says you annoy him because you're his neighbor and you won't leave him alone. That's all he said", she said.
"That's ridiculous. I never want to talk to him. Only because his dad and my Gran want us to get along". Monty obviously didn't like this confrontation, so he hid behind Sarah.
"He didn't tell me that. And if I did invite you to come with, I didn't want them to gang up on you. Hufflepuffs don't seem like the mean type, but some are."
"If they're so mean, why are you friends with them? I thought you said you never had friends. How come all of a sudden you have a whole group of them?", I said, surprised that I was starting to get annoyed with her.
"We're in the same House, so we're supposed to get along", her voice started getting louder.
"Well, we're not in the same House. Why are you my friend, then?!", I shouted before I could stop myself. Her expression changed from angry to shocked.
"Because we were friends before we got sorted. Houses shouldn't matter if you want to be friends with each other, right? And at least I try and make friends instead of just not talking to them. That's your problem, Neville. You don't talk to anyone else besides me, THAT is a problem!", she shouted back at me.
I was really angry now. I stood up and took a step towards her. She did the same so we were face to face. "I never asked you to talk to me. I don't need you to be my friend, so just leave me alone!", I yelled.
Immediately I regretted what I said, the minute I saw tears run down her face. Before I could say a word, she pushed me aside and ran out the passageway. As I started to go after her to apologize, I felt a little force hit me on my leg; Monty kicked me. He stared at me with a disapproving look and shook his head at me. Ignoring him, I walked out of the tunnel into the now busy corridor. Closing the entrance once more, I began walking down the hall looking for Sarah.
Doing my best to avoid a bunch of sixth years, I saw Seamus and Dean sitting on a bench, still barefoot, trying to dry their shoes.
"Hey guys. Did you guys see Sarah come through here?", I asked, already knowing the answer.
"Yeah, don't know why she was crying, though", said Dean.
Seamus felt his socks, to determine they were still wet. "She didn't strike me as the crying type. Must have been a Slytherin."
At least they didn't know I was the reason she was probably sobbing in her dorm.
"Yeah", I said, more to myself than to them.
"Only jerks make girls cry. Oh well. Let's go back to the common room. I want to sort through my cards again, make sure I don't have any doubles", Seamus said, as he and Dean gathered their sopping wet shoes, and the three of us started walking to the Fat Lady Portrait, still discussing their cards. "Oh, yeah, where'd you run off to? We looked for you around the lake, but you were gone", he asked as we climbed the stairs.
"Oh, um. Talking to Professor Sprout about what we're planning on doing next year", I lied.
"Why are you thinking about next year, mate. We're barely surviving this year, with all the homework", said Dean, giving the Fat Lady the password. We climbed through the portrait hole and walked over to the fireplace so they could get warm.
"I just like that class is all. It's really fascinating."
Dean rolled his eyes. "If you say so."