Dedicated to njferrel. There is a company called Ferrous Inc. I think.
Diss the Claim: Earning no money, making no bacon, bringing no donuts.
CURRENTLY BEING REWRITTEN UNDER: "SHAKE MY HAND: THE REWRITE"
Nooooooo! Harry could almost hear Hermione's anguished cry as they took in the empty, dusty, and curiously cobweb-less shelves on every wall.
She ran a finger along a nearby shelf and rubbed the dust between two fingers, "It has been over a thousand years. I suppose it was too much to ask for books to keep that long. They must have decomposed quite a while ago." A thick, depressing aura settled over that corner of the hidden library and the other three students (plus a rooster) edged away to the sanctuary of the other side of the room.
"Do you think there's a second exit in this room? I don't really fancy having to go through that maze again," Pansy jerked her head towards the maze they'd left behind, a grimace stretching her young face, "I felt too much like a mime." The rooster she held to her chest with one arm made a weak squeaking sound that appeared to have been squeezed with some effort from its strained vocal cords and Pansy's scowl deepened.
Harry grinned cloyingly at her irritation and the two fell to squabbling as Draco inspected the shelves.
Tall, sturdy, and ordinary stone- yet the shelves showed no obvious signs of decay. They were crudely hewn on the outside, but each shelf was near perfectly flat and level where the books once sat. Draco ran his hand, palm flat and digits spread, along another one, and paused. He shifted his fingers over the indent that had caught them and a great grinding noise broke through Harry and Pansy's "conversation." Even Hermione lifted her head from the dark pool of disappointment she'd been stewing in. A sudden movement from the book shelf had Draco stumbling back and Harry grabbed his shoulders before he could hit the ground. "Thanks," Draco stood and wiped the dust off his hands and onto Harry's trousers.
Harry twitched and brushed at the granules on the front of his thighs, "No good deed unpunished..."
"Actually, that was for leaving me silent when you knew the counter spell," Draco turned to Hermione when Harry moved to protest and continued over the brunette's ineffectual arguments, "Don't think I've forgotten you probably had the spell mastered."
"I'm innocent, sweetie!" Pansy announced cheerily in a tone that gleefully declared the exact opposite, raising her hand for emphasis and rising up onto the balls of her feet.
Draco stuck his tongue out.
Pansy's hand flew to her chest and she gasped, "How plebian!"
She then displayed her own tongue with the addition of crossed eyes.
"Where does this lead?" Harry's wondering with Hermione echoed from just inside the neglected passage behind the bookshelf-turned-doorway. In the midst of Pansy and Draco's arguing, the two brunettes had apparently sidled their way into it.
"Wait for us!" Pansy cried, pushing Draco out of the way ("Hey!") as she bustled past. Draco wasted a full half a second before following suit. Like hell, he was leaving Harry alone with those two harpies in a small, darkened space.
Granted, he liked them well enough, but that was no excuse for dropping his guard!
Belatedly, Draco wondered if there was a lack of air in the Chamber that had culminated in this ultimate paranoia. After all, somewhere deep in the back of his brain, an instinct- nay, a force of nature- known by many was shouting in a deep, gravelly voice while stomping a metaphorical peg leg, "CONSTANT VIGILENCE!"
Harry looked back worriedly as Draco violently and repeatedly shook his head from his place beside Pansy in an attempt to dispel the auditory hallucination. The tunnel (for that's what it was, no way around it) was only wide enough for two average-bulked second years, side by side, to walk comfortably. It was as roughly created as the bookshelves, and just as carefully. There were no smooth edges but it was obvious the measurements of the tunnel walls, ceiling, and floor would come out as a perfect circle (if one ignored the occasional stalactite). It was not really conducive to everyday walking though, so the four dropped down to all fours and, more often than not, climbed rather than walked up the shallow slope.
The echoes of their movements took on eerily similar qualities to voices and it was a space of seconds between that realization and the sudden jump in clarity of the strange voices.
"You horrid brat! Why did we ever take you in?" One voice rumbled like thunder, "Freak!" A resounding thwack filled the tunnel and Harry jumped a foot in the air.
"Uncle Vernon?" He squeaked, face pale and hands shaking.
Hermione linked arms with him just as the smell of a vanilla-mint perfume wafted into the tunnel. Her grip on Harry's arm tightened and a feminine voice cooed, "I heard from school. Correcting the teacher again, Hermione?" Something garbled rent through the four's minds like an audio scribble before the voice continued in an altogether less controlled tone, "I don't care if what they're teaching you is wrong! You're sent to school so you can learn it! Go to your room immediately and think about what it means to show respect to your betters!"
Hermione and Harry seemed almost related to Draco with their matching skin tones. "That's my mum," Hermione related in a small voice.
"Oh," A cold drawl slithered into the small passage, "So this is what you've been up to."
Draco's eyes widened dramatically in the gloom and Pansy hesitantly took his hand. The four had stopped dead at the first voice anyway.
"Hardly befitting a Malfoy heir..." It mused speculatively and the scraping sound crawled its way up the second year students' spines asit echoed and re-echoed in the tight space. "A snake would have been forgiveable. This is just... Weakness." A whipping of air, a squelch, a yelp and an earsplitting scream sounded in order. The scream retained that same audio-scribble-like quality as the pause in the Hermione's mum's monologue. "And that's how you deal with mutts, Draco..."
Draco stilled entirely and refused to meet anyone's eyes. When the last echo of Draco's father subsided, Harry felt Draco's free hand clutch the middle of the back of his shirt tightly in a fist as the blonde rested his forehead on the nape of Harry's neck. Harry could feel his quick breaths on his back and the body heat from the other two girls (and one rooster), but barely made out their shapes in the darkness.
As a male tenor voice started up ("How could you be so thoughtless! You stupid girl!"), Harry finally got it.
"It's a trap!" His shocked exclamation broke the spell of silence hanging around them, "We have to keep moving!"
Three incredulous protests met his words but he hushed them impatiently, "Look how dark it's gotten! The tunnel was bright when we started out!" He struggled to meet their eyes in the haze of shadow, and spelled out ominously, "The voices are meant to delay us." ("You numbskull!")
"Until what?" Hermione voiced timorously.
Harry shifted uneasily and two out of the three others' nervousness increased exponentially as they felt it, "I don't know."
"All the more reason to get out of here," Pansy asserted furiously as the masculine voice escalated into a tirade against her. Draco squeezed her hand.
"I-I agree," Hermione's wavering concurrence clashed with Vernon's booming voice's sudden reappearence.
("One shalt not suffer an idiot to li-" "-and put a roof over your head, boy!")
As they hastened their pace the voices came faster and faster, overlapping and growing in volume until they couldn't hear individual words anymore, and it became a chaotic roar of hatred and scorn slung from all directions. Despite the way it hampered their scrabbling escape, the four didn't think once of letting go of one another, and were, instead, sure to have bruises from each other's hold the next day- providing they escaped to see it, of course.
"I see a light!" Hermione cried, tugging on Harry's arm as she stumbled ahead with a sudden burst of energy.
"Light?" Pansy and Draco echoed a second off from one another, adding to the tumultuous confusion of sound throwing itself blindly about the narrow cavern.
The four scurried forward, tripping and falling all over one another in their haste before they finally tumbled out the cavern mouth into the late afternoon sun's last rays of light. The rooster, accidentally freed from Pansy's imprisoning arm, made a loud croaking noise reminiscent of a strangled bullfrog and viciously attacked Draco's shoe-covered toes.
"Stupid rooster!" Draco burst out in frustration and disgust, kicking the air next to its head to scare it away. (Or possibly due to poor aim).
The rooster cocked its head quizzically and gave one more half-mocking, half-probing peck to Draco's shoe.
"AERGH!" Draco threw up his arms and fell back onto the grass, catching Harry's eye from where he sat, panting heavily.
The two stared at each other in silence for a few seconds and suddenly broke into hysterical laughter. The two girls unsteadily joined them, gripping each other as closely as they physically could while the boys merely clutched their own stomachs. The sun set as they laughed out their fears and uncertainties and pain in the middle of a clearing in what had to be the Forbidden Forest, by the exit of a talking tunnel, that led to a secret chamber built under, of all things, a girl's bathroom. The sun disappeared as they trudged towards the light of Hagrid's cavern, just scarcely visible through the thick underbrush and ancient tree trunks wider than their arms could stretch around. Finally, the moon rose as they entered the castle, reluctantly going their separate ways, and watched them kindly as they slept.