Dedication: To the best beta in the world, Amadea X, who spent hours working on this story! I can't thank you enough!
Disclaimer : J.K. Rowling built the castle, brick by brick. I'm just messing around in the kitchens, slipping aphrodisiacs in Draco's and Hermione's breakfast like every evil Dramione shipper should.
The Death Eaters Lay a Trap
These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss, consume
- Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene VI
Hermione could smell the salty sea air as she Apparated with a loud POP outside the cave. She turned behind her to see the faces of her friends: Ron, Harry, Ginny, Luna, Neville, Dean, and Seamus, their hair sweeping in the wind as they looked out at the rushing sea.
Harry's Army, as the eight Hogwarts students called themselves, had returned a year after Dumbledore's death to retrieve the real Locket. It had been hidden again by Lord Voldemort, who had known for a while about the Horcrux hunt.
"Amazing!" Seamus whispered, looking down at the sheer drop of the cliff.
"Careful," Harry said loudly to the others, edging along the rocky precipice, "It's slippery."
"Harry!" Hermione yelled against the roaring of the wind, her bushy, untamed hair sparkling with flecks of sea spray, "Do you see Moody and the others? Have they Apparated yet?"
"No!" Harry yelled back, "Not yet!"
They edged their way down to the opening of the cave and stepped carefully on the boulders precariously set near the cliff's edge.
Suddenly, there was a loud POP behind her. Harry and Ron pulled out their wands defensively, only to put them back in their pockets after seeing Moody waving his hands to them. "Potter! We've got your backup!" Moody growled loudly, leaning back so the group could see the smiling faces of Hagrid, Bill, Lupin, Tonks, Flitwick, McGonagall, and Dobby, along with few others. A sigh of relief spread over Hermione as she saw the Order's best reinforcements.
After a few minutes, they all stood before the fissure, looking into the cave's mouth, with Harry's wand tip illuminating the way.
"What're your orders?" Moody barked again to Harry.
"We've got to get down, swim through here, and then to a tunnel which leads to the cave. Follow me!" Harry yelled, jumping down from the boulder, and began to swim towards the fissure. The water was warmer than before. He turned, waiting for the others while Ginny swam to him quickly, followed by Seamus, then Dean, then Ron, Hermione, and Luna.
Luna was the most graceful swimmer of them all, while Neville struggled against the shallow waters, as if he couldn't really swim. Moody steadied Neville as he followed him, slipping down the boulder into the water along with the rest of the Order behind him.
Suddenly, Harry shouted, from the entrance of the tunnel, "The tunnel's flooded! Use the bubble-head charm!"
"Well, what do you expect, Harry? It's High Tide!" Hermione yelled back at him breathlessly, her hair plastered against her face as she steadied herself against the rock wall.
"Hermione, not the time," Ron chuckled, spitting salt water. In a few seconds, everyone's head was covered by a soft, glasslike ball. Harry dived under, the top of his head grazing the tunnel ceiling as he swam towards the entrance of the cave.
A gloomy procession of wandlight flickered underwater as they made their way behind him. The stairs that led into the cave were submerged underwater as well, and Harry's legs floated up them slowly.
A few minutes later they were all standing in the middle of the cave, soaking wet, their wands aloft, ready for danger. Harry walked forward, remembering the entrance to the inner chamber. He touched the wall as Dumbledore had done, but nothing happened.
Flitwick stepped up, pushing people aside. "You cannot simply touch the wall, Mr. Potter. Dumbledore knew far more magic than any of us. He was a master of wandless magic." Flitwick cleared his throat, "Revelo Portus!"
Flitwick looked around, clearing his throat. "Anyone else want a go at it?"
Bill, his long hair in a ponytail, swaggered over to the wall. "Thought you'd never ask." He felt around the wall much as Dumbledore had on his first trip to the Cave, then lifted his wand, and whispered a charm. Suddenly, the arch blazed white, and the strange writings appeared.
Harry cheered. "Now, if I remember correctly, we need payment—blood, if I'm not mistaken." Harry pulled out the knife from his pocket and touched it to his pale wrist. A spurt of blood emerged and he held it up to the wall. The arch glowed green, but turned white once again. "What's wrong?" He wondered aloud.
Ginny took Harry's knife, cleaned it in the lapping seawater at her ankles, and pressed it firmly to her own wrist. "Maybe it drinks only pure blood now." She held the bloodstained knife back up to the arch, and this time, the wall fell away to reveal the entrance.
They entered cautiously, it was evident that Voldemort had been back to the cave, and things had changed. Neither Hermione nor anyone else could guess what lay in the cave, patiently expecting them.
The Order lit their wands, throwing light on the dark inner chamber of the cave. There was a massive dark lake, just like Harry had described. The eerie green light from the middle of the lake cast a greenish glow around the chamber, the ceiling so high it was lost to darkness. The banks across the lake looked ominously dark.
"What now?" asked Seamus, his voice echoing loudly around the cave, holding his wand aloft. They looked around; the gloomy silence and peace was unnerving.
Suddenly, a sharp, cold voice boomed from the other side of the lake. "Looking for this?" Lucius Malfoy sneered, holding up a glimmering, golden locket in his hand. Severus Snape, who Hermione hadn't seen since the day Dumbledore died, strode next to him. Lucius dropped the golden locket into Snape's hand.
Shivering, Hermione looked desperately around as a vast army of Death Eaters slowly emerged from the darkness on the opposite bank. The Order was entirely surrounded. They had been trapped! There were about twice the Order's number; they were spreading across the lake front, their reflections rippling in the water. A loud cackle echoed; Bellatrix Lestrange was there. Ginny shivered and stood behind Harry. Seamus edged behind Ginny.
"Potter, haven't died yet, have you?" The sneering voice of Draco Malfoy echoed across the lake.
Harry looked up, a hatred blazing through his eyes. "You first, Malfoy!" He spat.
"Look here," a strangely creepy voice echoed around the cave, "tasty little Hogwarts brats for you to bite," the rumbling voice of Fenrir Greyback spoke. A cold, gleeful howling from the werewolves around him sent shivers down Hermione's spine.
"EXPELLIARMUS!" Moody growled angrily, and Greyback slammed back into the wall, which crumbled around him.
Rodolphus licked his lips. "Alastor Moody, it's been quite a while, innit?" Like a flash of lightning, he whipped his wand, and burst out, "CONFRINGO!"
A loud explosion erupted next to Hermione, and there was the smell of burnt flesh s Moody rumpled on the floor. Hermione felt like retching as the battle erupted. All around her, spells were flying and people were shouting; Harry and Draco were battling fiercely, jets of green and red light bursting from their wands.
"CRUCIO!" Bellatrix roared, coming to stand beside Draco, pointing her wand at Harry as she tortured him. For some reason, Draco lowered his wand. Harry screamed in pain, and Hermione felt as if her heart were being ripped apart. She had to save Harry, she had to—
Hermione wordlessly cast a spell against Bellatrix. The sudden attack surprised her, cutting short her loud laughter. The spell ripped Bellatrix's dress, forcing blood to sprout from her arm like an out-of-work fountain.
Harry turned over, and retched loudly on the floor, panting hard from the pain.
"You little bitch," Bellatrix screamed, aiming a curse at Hermione.
Hermione's body lifted and her breath caught in her throat as she slowly began to spin. Faster and faster she turned 'til everything was a blur. Hermione screamed, her head was pounding, she was going to faint....With a sickening thud, Hermione slammed to the ground as the curse was lifted. She raised her head groggily, and saw Bellatrix yelling at the blurry figure of some Death Eater next to her.
Suddenly, Hermione saw something that nearly stopped her heart. Severus Snape, arching his back, looking straight at Harry, was rising slowly off the ground, but in a more determined way than Hermione. He—he was flying! He spread out his hands wide and pushed his head forward, like a bird, and dove with fierce speed at Harry.
Neville, whose desperately cast spells ricocheted off Snape, screamed, "Harry, look out!"
Snape flew straight into Harry with the force of a bullet. Harry slammed into the wall under Snape's weight and Hermione could feel the loosened rocks of the ceiling beginning to fall. She could hear the shouts of the Order and the whizz bang of the spells. Hermione was still lying on the floor, dizzy from Bellatrix's curse.
"CONGELO!" one of the Carrows suddenly screamed, and the water of the lake hardened to a jelly-like consistency. Amycus Carrow began crawling on the semi-solid water across the lake, leading a small band of hungry werewolves across, who were hungrily licking their lips.
A sudden spell hit Hagrid square in the chest, and he crumpled to the floor close to where Hermione stood, his giant weight forcing the ground to tremble.
A gut-wrenching fear wracked Hermione. She had to get everyone out of there. She had to do something!
Then, suddenly, her eye caught sight of something. A small glimmer of gold. Snape must have dropped the locket when he attacked Harry! Hermione mustered all her strength and ran toward it; if only she could get it back before anyone saw—
"Not so fast, Miss Granger," the calculating voice of Snape sounded behind her, and she turned slowly. He held Harry's wand in his hand, pointing at the locket as he ordered, "Pick that up."
Hermione, fumbling through the rocks, picked up the cold locket with a shaky hand.
Snape looked quickly around. Still pointing the wand at her face, he bent down, and ripped off the cloth from Hagrid's cloak, who was lying limp on the ground. Snape threw the cloth on the floor. "Put it there."
Hermione threw the locket into the soft lump of Hagrid's cloak. She was shaking. Snape had disarmed Harry. Could he have killed him?
Snape, never taking his eye off her, picked up the locket covered by the cloth. His eyes bored into her as if he were reading her mind. Hermione struggled inside, though she looked perfectly calm on the outside. If only she could reach her wand, if something could just happen, some distraction so she could disarm Snape—
Suddenly, the ground began rumbling. She stumbled forward, falling. All around her, everyone was falling to their hands and knees as the earth continued to shake violently.
She looked up from the ground. Snape was nowhere. She couldn't find him. Had he Disapparated?
She looked across the lake. The Death Eaters were falling, too. Steadying himself against the rocks, Draco tried to prop up his father, Lucius, whose face was slightly bloodied.
More and more of the ceiling fell down, dropping boulders large enough to crush giants. Suddenly, someone pulled her back as a large boulder landed where she had fallen moments earlier. She turned to find Luna, the only who had maintained her balance during the earthquake.
"Be careful, Hermione," Luna said dreamily, "those Water Spurts can cause quite a bit of damage."
"Hermione!" Ron screamed, "Hermione!"
She whirled at the sound of his voice and they spotted each other. "Get Harry out of here!" He yelled, " He's unconscious! Get everyone out of here! I'll hold them off!"
Hermione searched frantically for Harry's body, but Luna tugged at her arm, pointing to a crumpled figure near the back, and led Hermione to him. With a quick flick of her wand, Luna levitated Harry's limp body and made her way to the tunnel archway. Hermione and McGonagall levitated Hagrid towards the entrance, and Lupin and Tonks carried Hagrid from there on. Flitwick was levitating Moody. The rocks crumbled all around them; hard stones pelted repeatedly.
Lupin, before escaping through the archway, turned to her frantically. "Hermione, the cave is collapsing—get anyone you can find, but don't stay longer than you can!"
Abruptly, the rumbling stopped. Lupin looked around. There were a handful of Death Eaters on the other side, and a few Order members on Hermione's side.
Suddenly, the water roiled and churned, agitated. Something massive was rising. Hermione swallowed. From the depths of the dark lake, rose the most massive creature she had ever seen. A wild-eyed Basilisk emerged, screeching, from the dark water.
You need to know the following before reading this story: This takes place in the summer of their Seventh Year. Voldemort discovered Harry was after his Horcruxes, and hid them again - the Locket going back in the Cave. Harry's Army, a small part of the Order of the Phoenix, go back to the Cave to retrieve it - but the Death Eaters had laid a trap for them there. Also, in this story, Lucius Malfoy was the Minister of Magic during that year.
Next chapter: Thoughtless Rescues: In which Draco and Hermione save each other.