(A/N:: Update! How exciting is this? - Okay, I'm sorry for the extended period for an update. Many reasons whoch will bore you all to death, mainly with RL getting in the way. I'm at uni now ) So, have to be doing uni work - and I did Nanowrimo! I failed, but I still did it.
This chapter is for the guys at the Reviews Lounge, and for the reviwer who's birthday it was on my last update - Rini08 - I believe. Hope you had a good day hun.
This chapter has not been edited at all, but I wanted to get it out to you guys. I'll go through and edit the entire story at Christmas. Also, it's a mamoth chapter (for me) clocking in at just over 4,000 words. Enjoy RKC x x )
Chapter Seven - No Way Out?
Dumbledore sighed as he sat in his chair, which was becoming frustratingly uncomfortable. There was a reason why he always conjured soft, comfortable chairs, with his growing age he couldn't sustain long periods of time in the same position without a dull ache developing somewhere along the line. The inter-departmental rift was an inconsequential one at best, but the rivalry between the departments had grown so strong, it was almost like watching an adult version of the Slytherin/ Gryffindor rivalry. Dumbledore sighed again, these proceedings had worn him out more than he would liked to have admitted, and it was only the second day of such talks.
Standing suddenly, the bickering parties silenced looking towards him. This really should have been the Minister for Magic's job, but he was somewhat incompetent at doing what he was voted in to do as of late. Perhaps the fear of telling him of Voldemort's return was eating away at him, yet there was little action taken to protect the public.
'In this room, there are representatives of all the departments involved in this… quarrel. Let me tell you this now, you are all acting as children - squabbling as children do. And over what? It is a matter so inconsequential in the long term.,' Albus stated, 'Implore me, put aside these petty differences or I shall treat you all no better than children, and you shall be sent to detention to sort this out.' And with that Dumbledore left the room robes swirling behind in a motion that would make Severus Snape proud, behind him there was an uneasy silence that promised resolution.
Glad at finally able to stretch his aching body, Dumbledore let his feet take him to the Ministry's exit. With a final look at the golden Ministry walls, he disapparated.
Harry knew that they were in trouble as soon as water seeped into his worn out trainers. He walked about the chamber frantically searching for an exit, anything that would take them out of the chamber, his trainers squelching in the water. Glancing around he saw Minerva also looking for an exit, and that Hermione had sat on the steps of the dais, and once again had her head stuck in an old book.
'Hermione! This isn't exactly the time for reading!' Harry shouted over the loud gushing of water, which had now reached his shins. He reached for his wand, momentarily forgetting that it had been taken when they had first entered the building.
'Shh! I'm looking for a way to stop this!' Hermione gestured at the walls, as she shouted back. Minerva returned from the outer edges of the chamber, having examined the outer edges and the grates. The water was almost to Harry's knees.
'Well!? Do you have anything?' Minerva shouting her reply as the water began to lap the steps of the dais that Hermione was sitting on.
'Look for this-' Hermione showed them another engraving from the book, 'There should be four of them, and they all need to be pushed so the exits will open up. It says here that it's timed, so we have to act quickly. They should be near the grates letting the water in.' And with that, they once again split up wading through the water, which now came up to Harry's hips.
The symbol shown in the engraving from the book was not particularly big, and looked a cross between the ancient flowing script that adorned the walls and hieroglyphs. They had to touch them and find the last one before a timer ran out and had to start again. Harry personally hadn't thought that trying to get the bloodstone, which was safely tucked away in Hermione's bag, would have been so difficult. He had no idea that old, even ancient magic was so much more complex than the modern 'wand-waving'.
Harry took the grate furthest from where they were standing. Not seeing the engraving any where each side of the stone opening, he took a deep breath and waded through the water gushing out of the grate. The sheer force of the pounding water almost pushed him under. Seeing the symbol Harry pushed it into the intricate stone work. He watched, mesmerised, as it was swallowed, merging the with very stone work. He tuned everything else out, not even hearing the falling water. There was a loud thunk, and the sound of cogs turning in motion. Pulling back to reality he hurriedly waded back through the water, which was now just deep enough for Harry to swim in.
A loud chime filled the room, causing piles of dust to fall from the ceiling into the water. A sound of cogs moving into action added to the rush of water.
Harry headed to the next grate, the one that wasn't occupied with either Hermione or Minerva. He didn't even turn around to check that they were okay, or even if they had found their symbols. Taking another deep breath Harry dived under the water, once more feeling the force of the water pounding down from the grate. He noticed that the symbol was in the same place as the previous one, and pushed it in immediately. He stayed only long enough to make sure it stayed in.
There was another chime, and more thunks and turning of cogs. Obviously Harry must have been doing something right.
Next he swam towards Hermione's grate who was closest to him, and saw her still looking for her symbol.
Swimming quicker he reached Hermione's grate and swam straight under, pushing the symbol. He didn't even stop to see if it had sunk in or not. He now couldn't stand on the floor, and noted quickly that Hermione couldn't either from the way she was frantically trying to stay above the water.
Lastly, Harry swam to Minerva's grate. Two chimes sounded not long after each other, seemingly getting closer together in the frequency they were occurring.
A third chime sounded - but it was cut off before it had finished the resounding note. The sound of cogs could now be heard over the roar of the water. Harry swam as quickly as possible over to Minerva, who had emerged from underneath the water flowing from her grate.
The next thing they heard was the sound of granite on granite as the walls began to change. Drainage openings shifted on the stone floor, allowing the water to empty out relatively quickly. Harry was able to stand of the solid not long afterwards. Minerva and Hermione waded over to the centre of the room where he was standing.
'Well, that was exciting. Didn't expect that,' Harry said humorously, in good spirits that they hadn't drowned in an unknown temple to the rest of the world.
'Err… Professor? Harry?' Hermione said tentatively, 'We can't get out the way we came in… the door hasn't opened…' Hermione was beginning to get a building uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach, wondering what was going to be thrown their way next.
'Lets take another exit then, we can navigate our way out of here using the map from the book,' Minerva suggested, constantly looking around the room, expectantly waiting for something else to happen.
'Well, which one should we take?' Harry asked, inspecting the unopened exit.
'That one?' Hermione asked, pointing at the door directly in front of the one that they used to enter the stone chamber, 'I mean theoretically that one should lead to the beach and the sea. The one behind us took us from the cliffs into the temple, so following it forwards should lead to the sea.' She rationalised, wondering whether to consult her old book once more.
'That sounds like a sound hypothesis Hermione. We shall go that way then,' Minerva replied agreeing with the younger woman, and beginning to walk in the direction of the exit opposite to the closed one.
'Okay then - let's get moving,' Harry said, eager to get out of the temple with the Bloodstone in Hermione's backpack.
They exited the chamber, and with it they left the unearthly silver light of the chamber behind. The unearthly silver light that had lit the way in the hallways and corridors before the main chamber of the temple had now disappeared, leaving them in a fading blackness. Because of this, they had slowed down, to the extent that they were relying on the excellent eyesight of Minerva alone.
It wasn't long before they stumbled into something else. It was not a room, but there was a fiery light coming from somewhere off in the distance of the corridor, rising up from a pit in the ground. It appeared that the temple was built in more or less straight lines, making it easier to walk forwards, however the corridor ahead of them seemed to just stop.
They stepped over the threshold of the pool of orange light, and it soon became apparent that this was another room situated in the middle of the corridor. Once more there were doors closing both in front of them, and behind making the granite on granite grinding noise, giving them more evidence that the temple hadn't been used in at least a millennia, leaving them no option for the moment but just to stand there, to determine what they were going to plan for next to get them out of this situation.
'Um… Hermione I don't suppose you know if there is anything in that book of yours is there?' Harry asked, turning to his friend who was at the back of their little group.
'I don't know Harry,' She replied, 'Let me check.' Once again she sat down on the cold stone floor, opening the small book in front of her. Minerva shifted her stance allowing more of the light to reach the younger woman.
The walls were once again covered in that old, strange flowing script. Harry moved from his position, recognising the text, but unsure from where he had seen it before. He assumed that it was in some of the books that he had looked at in the library with Ron and Hermione. He posed the question to Minerva who had followed him to also examine the markings on the wall.
'This text is familiar,' Harry told the older woman as she stood by him, 'I know it is. Is it in the Library somewhere?'
'This text has never seen the light of the Library Harry,' She put a hand on his shoulder, also wondering where he had seen the these symbols before.
'I'm sure I recognise them - the feeling I get from them though is something else. Like I know what it's supposed to say, but what it's used for I don't want to know.' Harry told her, not making much sense at all, continuing to stare at the carvings.
'Okay - I've got it!' Hermione said suddenly, breaking the strange atmosphere that was building up. She looked over the pages of the book once more, before shutting it with a loud 'snap'. standing up from the cold stone floor, she walked over to the edge of the pit, looking down. 'There!' She exclaimed as Minerva and Harry stood by her side, squinting through the orange light.
'What? What are we looking for? And what is causing the light?' Harry questioned.
'Well - what normally gives an orange light Harry?' Hermione questioned the young man in response, 'I'll give you a hint, when you throw powder into it, it turns green and takes you elsewhere…'
'Fire? But what would have been able to burn for that long and not go out?' Harry replied.
'Well, we won't know until we go down - which should lead us to the exit.' Hermione said as she sat on the very edge of the pit.
'Wait - we have to climb down? Did you just say there was fire down there?' Harry asked, getting a little frantic. He didn't want to die as a teenager - he had his whole life ahead of him. Besides if they died here, no one would ever find them - it was a well hidden temple.
'If any one is climbing down,' Minerva interrupted the pair before a panic induced argument could ensue, 'It will be me. Hermione you will stay up here and instruct me where to go so I deem it safe for you both to follow. If it is unsafe, it fall to you both to find a different exit.' She stated matter as a matter of fact, as though she hadn't just alluded to the idea that if something went wrong she was going to die for them in trying to find a way out of the temple. She sat down on the edge of the pit next to Hermione looking down into the deep abyss. The orange light was coming from various points on the way down, indicating not of a direct fire but the pools of orange light generated by fire.
'Are you ready Hermione?' Minerva asked the younger women.
'Are you sure you want to do this Professor?' Hermione asked, wanting to make absolute sure that her favourite teacher was okay to do this instead of her or Harry.
'Of course,' She replied briskly, 'I wouldn't have suggested it otherwise,' Hermione assumed it was part of the famous Gryffindor bravery that was shining through the professor, 'Now all you have to do is instruct me on where to go. When I call that it is safe after a certain point, you should both follow me. From the looks of it, we should take this journey down in three main segments.' Minerva instructed, getting back into her teacher role, taking charge of the situation, 'Wish me luck,' She said with a smile in her voice as she lowered herself down, much like Harry had done in the race to get to the Philosophers Stone. Before she completely disappeared into the pit, she said to them, 'There are a lot of ledges to hold on to, it's looks like this is a deliberate method of protecting the temple, rather than a gradual one wrought by the effects of time. Take care, and do NOT let go.' She emphasised, then slowly disappeared, shimmying her way across the first ledge.
When she reached the end of the first ledge, Hermione guided her professor through the system of ledges. There were a couple of close points when she had to drop to the ledge below because there were breaks and fractures in the current ledge. Hermione and Harry tried to keep in mind of where these were so that they could try and miss them when it was their turns to travel down, knowing that if they didn't miss them it would end with them loosing their lives. There was a lot at stake from getting out of this temple, their lives just being one of them. Minerva reached the first point that she had indicted she wait for the two teenagers quite quickly in the scheme of things. She waited for them to catch up.
Harry went first, lowering himself into the pit, straining his arms to keep himself from falling off. It seemed to dawn on him only when he started moving of the magnitude of the place, and how far the exit at the bottom of the room truly was. It took them longer to reach the same ledge as Minerva, Harry would slow down and wait for Hermione to catch up before moving on to the next ledge. They had stopped for a fair amount of time each gathering their courage just to make the drop onto the ledge below them when their current one was filled with cracks and they wouldn't have been able to go further.
'How did you do that so quickly Professor?' Harry gasped as he was helped up on to the small ledge that Minerva had decided for the first meeting point for them.
'I can be quite agile when the need calls for it,' She replied, a smile in her voice.
'Now - it looks like the worst part of this is over,' Minerva pointed across the room, showing them were they had left at the top, and where they were now. They had travelled down the gigantic temple walls by almost a third. It felt like it should have been more.
'I think you spoke too soon Professor,' Hermione said with a squeak in her voice, 'Look over there!' She pointed in the direction of the exit, about half way down the walls.
'What is that?' Harry asked, moving as close as he could to the edge of the ledge.
'Fire traps, by the looks of it,' Minerva answered, 'Timed ones probably. At least we aren't shimmying our way down this time, there are small ledges that we can walk on.' Taking charge she led them on to the small ledges she was talking about, slowly leading them towards the exit of the temple.
Dumbledore had decided almost as soon as he had exited the Ministry of Magic to head to Dover to find his wife and be with her and Harry for a small while. He knew he would have to head back to the Ministry at some point, but he wanted them to stew on what he had told them first. He headed towards the hotel that Minerva had informed him they were going to be staying in Dover during their time there. Ignoring the odd looks the muggle public were giving him because of his current attire, he headed towards the road by the sea front attempting to find the hotel.
The sea breeze was calm and salty. The waves gently crashed on the pebbly beach, slowly heading closer to the shops and residential areas, the tide was coming in. The sun shone high in the sky, reflecting the cloudless blue sky in the depths of the sea. There were many people out and about, children, their parents, old men and women enjoying the happiness and joys of the beech. Looking around, Dumbledore saw something that made his heart soar - a muggle sweet shop. He headed in a smile on his face, still ignoring the odd looks from the muggle public. He didn't realise that he had been followed in by a pair of muggles.
Hermione jumped past the last of the times fire traps, and was held by Harry. Getting out of the temple was far more exhausting than any of their adventures in Hogwarts had ever been. They opted to take a small break there, drinking what was left of the water, hoping that the exit wasn't too far away now. They had come far, and would not be able to back up should anything untoward happen down here. One of the last jumps that they had had to do meant that they were trapped at that level. It was moments like that that reinforced the notion of how big and deep the temple was. It must have been built right into the cliff.
At the level that they were at now, the orange pools of light that had previously lit their way down were slowly starting to disappear, once again leaving them in darkness. The air had changed a little as well, it seemed as though it was heavier, damper, and the smell of the salty sea could be just about picked up upon. These were good signs, it meant that they were getting closer to the exit of the temple. Harry had a feeling that they would sleep for a week after this to let their bodies recover from the strain of the climbing down. The only one who didn't look too affected by the amount of energy they were expending was Minerva herself, and the few signs that she was making for running low on energy was the more frequent breaks they were taking, and the slowing down of their pace to reach the exit.
'Do you think we're nearly there?' Hermione asked her Professor, the exit had disappeared from their sight where they had stopped.
'Nearly Hermione,' Minerva replied, 'We've nearly completed the journey down at least. Look -,' She pointed downwards, 'There is the floor of the temple.'
'Wow,' Hermione replied, then looked upwards. Were they had started seemed little more than a speck of dark light in the ceiling. It was smaller than the postage stamp sized hole of light after they had knocked Fluffy out with music in their first year, 'We've come a long way.'
'Yes we have, we should finish - we are nearly there now. Harry?' Minerva turned around, looking for the young man who was once again staring at the curvy, old flowing script of the walls. She walked over and touched his shoulder, and he responded with a jump.
'Sorry Professor!' He said somewhat automatically, 'Sorry - you made me jump. These writings are going to bug me, I just know it…' He followed Minerva, falling back into the line, Hermione following him.
It was some time later when they hit the floor of the temple, in almost complete darkness. In the distance, near where they assumed the exit was, was a small bright white light. It seemed even lighter in the pressing darkness. Looking up, the entrance to the huge, deep room was not visible anymore through the fire and flames of orange. It was a strange feeling, that it had taken them longer to get out of this room than it had to find and get the Bloodstone itself. Hermione rationalised to herself that it was probably better that way to stop thieves from getting away with loot, should they have stumbled upon the temple. How they wouldn't have done was a different matter, with all the security measures on the place.
'Come on,' Hermione said, 'Let's get out of here.' She had an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach - it has been relatively easy to get to where they had, there was nothing that they hadn't been able to handle so far - would something come along, like in those games she used to watch her dad play when she was little? The difference between the three of them, and the computer character was that the character had weapons, guns, and they didn't even have their wands. Her hand had an itch that needed to be relieved with her wand back where she knew she could access it if she needed it.
They began the walk to the little patch of daylight that they could see, and it slowly became bigger and bigger , relieving the uneasiness in Hermione's stomach. As they stepped into the pool of light, a strange tingling swept over them, forcing them to the ground. It got to a point where it was almost painfully unbearable, then stopped just as soon as it started. Staying on the floor and gasping for breath, they each got into a sitting position. Shifting her hand, Hermione realised that she her wand had been returned to her. Before she had time to really comprehend the fact, there was more of the granite on granite sound, which hadn't boded well for them in the past..
They all got to their feet almost immediately as they heard it. There was small sand and dust particles falling form the ceiling of the small tunnel they were now in, catching the light as they feel. Behind them was a rush of hot air, and the group starting running towards to the exit, hoping that they really were at the exit of the temple. The hot air forced them to speed up their exit, almost as though it was helping them in their quest to get out of the tunnel. The daylight quickly got brighter and brighter, almost blinding them.
As they neared the edge of the temple, a big gust of the hot air forced them off their feet, landing just outside the temple in a shallow section of the sea, Harry idly though they were just destined to get wet today. At least they were out of the temple. Next step would to be finding the hotel they were staying at.
(A/N:: Hope you enjoyed that, not by far the best chapter, but one none the less. Please leave a review, whether you loved it, hated it or thought it was somewhere in between. Reviews make an authors day. RKC x x )