The Vicis Clock
In the midst of the deep darkness and shadows where daunting creatures dwelled, a fourteen-year-old lay huddled upon the damp and muddy ground. The boys' chest rose and fell in an un-normal rate…He almost seemed akin to a corpse for his face was sickly and beyond paleness.
His shivering hands were unconsciously wrapped around himself and his legs were drawn to his chest trying to get a hold of some warmth yet it was of no use, for every intake of breath sent a gust of chilled wind into his lungs, making his teeth clatter so much that his bloody jaw grew weary of it.
The icy current of air coursed through him, stiffening his every limp with frostiness; but if it were not for that chilling blustery weather that pierced through his body, then he might have never stimulated from his sleep.
With a short shuddering intake of breath, Harry Potter's emerald eyes suddenly snapped wide open, as though someone had screamed in his ears. He laid down for a minute or two, gathering his thoughts, and finally, for the first time since he had landed in this place, Harry raised his head feebly to look around at his surroundings, but the darkness barred him from any sight.
Holding his breath, Harry strained his ears, trying to hear a sound that would give him an idea of where he was but all that could be heard was an eerie silence that made this place far more terrifying than it already was. Fearfully, his heart started to beat with a rapid speed as his uninjured arm felt its way blindly across the ground in search for his wand….
"Wand…" he called croakily for it. "Wand! Lumos!"
A few feet in front of him, light flared revealing a muddy path where large roots penetrated deep into the ground. Stretching his arms and using his feet to push himself forward, Harry grabbed his wand and raised it above his head disclosing trees that towered over the likes of Hagrid. But the light he had conjured was meager because it could not infiltrate deeply into the darkness that seemed to be boundless.
Groaning, Harry dropped his head to the ground in defeat and wished that all sentiments would leave him as the problem he had thrown himself into was now way out of his hands. He was alone, weak and wounded, held captive by a stubborn shadowy mist that did not seem willing to raise the veil of night it had draped around him…
Yet if he had looked more closely, he might have noticed a pair of pale, sapphire eyes following him that he knew not of.
"What are you doing?" the first centaur's voice said harshly with rage as he raced towards the white-blond haired centaur, placing his palomino body in front of him. "Leave the boy be, you cannot help him! We are not donkeys to gallop after stray humans in our forest!"
"Have you no eyes Bane? Do you not realize who that boy is!" the following voice replied with frustration.
"Certainly I do—"
"Then step aside! The sooner he leaves the forest, the better!" the second sapphire eyed centaur said edgily as he brushed passed Bane though he knew that the older centaur would not leave him be, and as though to prove his thoughts right, the sound of Bane's hooves could be heard treading heavily upon the ground behind him.
"Firenze, you must turn back--" Bane said as he crossed his path once again.
"Step aside Bane…"
"—Do you not remember the warning Magorian had given you?" he went on as though he had not heard Firenzes' aggressive tone. "He had threatened to banish you from our forest if you break the Centaurs Laws that are as ancient as we are. Think cautiously of what you are about to do for this meager human is not--"
"Meager human?" Firenze hissed with ire. "He is a human in dire need!"
"And if so! What is that to do with us? Humans are not the concern of centaurs for we are a race apart and lately Firenze you seemed to have forgotten that."
"You fool!" Firenze bellowed kicking his rear legs in anger. "You are blinded by your arrogance and pride for you speak as though the planets have not let you in on their secrets! Do you not see how remarkably bright Mars is tonight? Do you not see how Neptune had aligned perfectly behind Uranus? Something terrible has taken place tonight Bane and both you and I know that it is all associated with the Potter boy."
"You are setting yourselves against the heavens when you have vowed not to, Firenze!" Bane thundered taking a step forward so that their faces were an inch apart.
"I set myself solely against what is evil!"
"With a human along your side?"
"If I must Bane then yes!"
The dark haired centaur narrowed his yellow eyes with disgust and took a few steps backward as though afraid that he would catch a deadly disease if he stayed to close to the younger centaur. Firenze was not fazed by this however, and moved passedBane swiftly, ignoring the threats that were being bellowed at him.
"Firenze! Firenze! If you do not turn back then Magorian will hear of this! Firenze! Have you heard what I said! Magorian will hear of this!"
-- Hogwarts… 3:30 am
Bartemius Crouch looked down at Alastor Moodys' body (the figure he had taken the form of) checking if it was all concealed behind his invisibility cloak, then he looked down at Potters' map of Hogwarts, just to ensure himself that no one was in Dumbledore's office at all. Feeling as reassured as he could be, Bartemius pulled out his wand and tapped the door knob. As the door creaked open, Bartemius stepped quietly inside Dumbledore's circular office and shut the door behind him with a sharp click.
"Halt!" A voice cried, making him jump. "Who goes there? Show yourself!" A plump, red nosed wizard stared right through him for a moment or two and called out to the portrait beside him without moving his eyes from the door. "Phineas, did you hear the door shut? Phineas! PHINEAS!"
"I'm asleep …" the wizard with a pointed beard said.
"This is no time sleep now, man! Get up! I tell you I heard someone come in!"
"There's no one there," Phineas said with a yawn as he opened an eye blearily.
"But I tell you I heard someone come in!" The ample wizard said, persistent that someone had entered the room.
"For Merlin's sake Hector! Can you see someone there?" Phineas snapped edgily.
"No, but I heard—"
"Then do us all a favor and shut your mouth! It's not of our concern if you are delusional!"
Huffing with indignity, the man in the portrait crossed his arms and stared at the door with narrowed eyes, but Bartemius waited patiently until he grew weary of it, and indeed, after a few minutes or so, his eye-lids started to drop, until finally, his head fell to his chest, followed by the loud snores that filled the room.
As quietly as he could, Bartemius lifted his arm and muttered a delusion charm on each portrait that would fool their inhabitants into seeing this room as it was now--empty, and not an item out of place--- lest a portrait be aroused out of their sleep again.
Now that he was sure not a thing could be a witness of what he was about to do, Bartemius threw off the invisibility cloak, letting it slide to the ground and thus started his search. A search for any indication of where he could find Potter in Dumbledore's office.
-- 4:30 am …
Remus Lupin with a black shaggy dog at his side walked into the castle of Hogwarts and stepped into its hallways which were deserted seeing as it was dawn. All of the students were tucked soundly into bed and Remus knew for a fact that not one student had dared to roam and wander alone in these hallways for Dumbledore had made it quite clear to them all how precarious they should all be…
"It is to my great displeasure to inform all of you that Hogwarts is not safe at these times," Dumbledore had said to his wide eyed students in the Great Hall yesterday. "And if circumstances do not improve then I will be obligated to ask the school governors to consider shutting down the school. But until that decision is made—" Dumbledore said loudly over the anxious chatter that had erupted. "--I implore each and every one of you to be cautious and watchful. No one is to leave their dormitories after six and you are all to wait patiently for a teacher to escort you from class to class. I ask you all once again not take this issue lightly. Murder had been plotted on two of my students thus far…so I beg of you all not to make yourselves a victim to these crimes as well."
-- 4:50 am …
The figure of Alastor Moody that Bartemius Crouch momentarily possessed, limped across the room and sat behind Albus Dumbledore's desk, cursing profoundly under his breath though he made sure that his magical blue eye was trained on the door lest anyone walked into the room only to find him here, rummaging and hunting through Dumbledore's possessions for any hint of Potters whereabouts.
His plan, he had concluded last night, though exceedingly risky could prove to have a rewarding outcome, for he had thought that there had to be something, anything, to lead him on to where Harry Potter was…but hitherto his thoughts had proven to be erroneous for there was not a single sign to even indicate to him that there was a search for Potter taking place.
Moreover, his plan he had forethought so thoroughly, his hours of time he had wasted and the letter he and Dawlish had concocted to lure Dumbledore out of Hogwarts was all in vain. His efforts he had put into making this plan flawless was worthless... The Dark Lord would not---
Leaning forward on his chair, Bartemius stared at a black cabinet that caught his eye…A cabinet that he had not looked through yet. His magical blue eye swiveled to the front. His black pupil contracted so the better he could see the cabinets' contents and what he saw made a wide lopsided grin spread across the scared face.
Behind the small wooden black door that was no longer opaque to his enchanted eye, he could see a small basin with markings encrusted on its rim…and when he contracted his pupil even more, the stone basin too became transparent and now he could see what it held within it…
It was a pensive.
That was it! That was all he needed. His efforts were not futile after all, for this….this was the key to Albus Dumbledore's mind! Oh how the Dark Lord will pleased. Oh how he will be praised above all of his masters followers!
But as excitement overwhelmed him, and as he started attempting to unlock the cabinet that was magically sealed with the most complicated enchantments he had ever encountered, Bartemius seemed to have let his guard down. His magical eye was no longer keeping watch and thus he did not notice a dog and man approach Dumbledore's office and nor did he notice the two dots labeled "Sirius Black" and "Remus Lupin" draw closer, closer and closer to the stone gargoyle guard outside…
Meanwhile, up in the Hufflepuff dormitories, a handsome young man with grey eyes pulled back the yellow curtains with one swift movement of his wand and pulled open the window letting a breeze of cold air sweep through the room. As he felt a shiver run down his spine, the Hufflepuff draped his cloak tighter around him and grabbed his broom that was hovering at his side.
Quickly, he checked that all his dorm mates were fast asleep. They would be furious at him if they knew he was sneaking out when he knew he ought not to. Their snores however reassured him that they were all deep in their sleep so he mounted on his broom, kicked off the ground and flew out of the window, then swiveled around in mid-air and shut the window with a soft click.
The young man, Cedric Diggory, had been doing this every night since the incident, for he had often found that he could not find sleep, or if he ever did find sleep then it was a restless one, plagued with haunting dreams filled with screams, red eyes, and a horrible cold, high pitched voice.
As the ground drew closer, Cedric drew up the lever of his broom, puling up form his descent and landed with a swift whoosh on the damp grass. When he finally came to a stop, he swung his left leg over the broom and closed his eyes to find a moment of piece which he often found in this place…then he slowly sat down on the damp grass, trying as much as he could to not think at all, for he often found that his thoughts these days made his heart grow weary…
The cabinet door creaked open letting a silvery light seep out. He grinned. It had finally granted him access, and if it were possible for the smile to spread further across his face, then it would have, for a flame of exhilaration roared inside of him as he reached into the cabinet with the hands of Mad-eye Moody, and took the pensive.
Holding it carefully, Bartemius limped across the room, placed the pensive upon Dumbledore's desk and raised his wand high above his head. With a swish of his wand, all misplaced items in the room moved back into place. Papers stacked themselves as they were stacked before he went through them. Open drawers and cupboards shut softly, and many other objects flew across the room, going back to where Dumbledore had last placed them.
He let his eyes wander across the room one last time and concluded that not a thing appeared to have been touched in the room. Dumbledore would not suspect a thing. Satisfied, he turned to the pensive and tapped it, making it shrink in size until it was so small that he pocketed it. He then hastily grabbed Potters map of Hogwarts and shoved it into his other pocket, summoned his invisibility cloak and---
The door swung open.
He swiveled around, his wand ready to attack whoever it was behind him, only to find the werewolf, Remus Lupin, and a black shaggy dog behind him.
"Lupin," he said, almost with a sigh (he had thought it was Dumbledore) as he lowered his wand and shook the werewolf's outstretched hand. "What are you doing here?"
"Dumbledore wanted a word with me. He said he'd be waiting for me here. And you?" he asked, eyeing the invisibility cloak in his hand.
"Well I—" he fanned a cough. "I just came here to drop this cloak. Albus asked me if he could borrow it for a while. I wanted to have a word with him too, but he doesn't seem to be here…"
"He'll be back soon," the werewolf said slowly, looking at him in what he thought to be a shrewd and calculating way. "Why don't wait for him with me?"
"No, no," he said quickly, placing the invisibility cloak grudgingly on a chair. "I've waited too long as it is…I'll be seeing you later then."
He gazed at the piece of vermin with distaste for a moment, then nodded a curt nod before leaving the room as he silently cursed himself at his own foolhardiness and stupidity. How could he have let his guard down? He thought as he descended down the stairs. How could he have not noticed the werewolf behind the door? But no matter … He had found what he seeked for and he was sure that the werewolf would not deduce a thing. And why should he? Bartemius had covered for himself well, had he not?
This chapter was meant to be longer but I thought you'd waited long enough...I hope you enjoyed it, and thanks a heap to any reviewers. It's much appreciated! So thanks again and please review!
Oh and next chapter is definitely titled "The Appearance." I think you can guess what that means ;p ...