Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter...
NOTE: Not proof-read... but FINALLY updated. :) Sorry for the wait.
This story makes me sad because I feel like it's a hodepodge of random things that rarely come together to form complete thoughts. So for the record, this story is technically one big Freewriting session. Lol.
Enjoy my updated ramblings! ;D
"Weasley!" Evans called as he stormed into the underground cavern that served as their hideout. "Weasley, get out here now!"
"Coming!" Percy Weasley called as he ran into the main chamber. "Sir?" he asked with a bow.
"Has Lupin made any progress with the Centaur?" Evans asked as his beloved chimera approached him.
With his head still bowed, Percy answered. "I regret to say he has not. The centaur, Gaufrid is his name, has managed to escape him every time."
Evans stroked Halvor's beautiful mane. "It would be unwise to keep the Dark Lord waiting much longer. We cannot have him taking matters into his own hands." He turned to glare coldly at his red-headed companion. "Find Lupin and don't come back unless you have the centaur."
"Yes, sir," Percy bowed. He turned sharply on his heel and left through the tunnel he had entered.
"Halvor, why is it so hard to capture a young foal?" Evans asked. The large chimera licked his lips on each head, nuzzling his lion's head into his master's chest. "Should they fail tonight, I will have no choice but to send you in their place." As if he understood, Halvor growled his acceptance of the prospective challenge.
From up on the surface, Evans could hear the distinct sound of a clock tower ringing the hour. "Looks like dinner is about to start..."
Harry and Draco were enjoying a pleasant conversation with Pansy, Blaise, and Z'kary when they heard the doors to the Great Hall open. When they saw Andon walk in with Neville, they immediately noticed that Neville was completely changed. His brown hair shone with a healthy glow, his complexion flawless and evenly toned. He even appeared to be glowing. The couple joined the group at the Slytherin table, ignoring the whispers that had sprung up.
"Feeling better, are we?" Pansy teased as she lightly nudged Neville. The brunette's cheeks lit up in embarrassment.
"A lot b-better, thank y-you," Neville smiled. Andon chuckled before starting up a conversation with Draco and Z'kary. Neville was content with drinking from his goblet while they waited for Dumbledore to start the feast. Pansy, Blaise, and Harry all watched the Gryffindor expectantly. He only noticed after a few seconds of awkward silence between them. "What?" he asked nervously.
The trio all raised their eyebrows, leaning closer to Neville. "Is there something on my face?" he asked in worry, feeling his cheeks for any blemishes.
"Neville, do you really want us to say it in front of everyone?" Pansy asked innocently.
"Well, I don't k-know what you're wanting," Neville answered, but even as he said the words, realization struck. They were wondering about the... um... se... His cheeks turned even redder and he buried his face behind his hands. Pansy, Harry, and Blaise all laughed.
"That good, huh?" Pansy giggled. She reached over and tried to pull Neville's hands away from his face.
"There's no need to be embarrassed," Blaise cooed. "Come on, Neville. We're all friends here."
"Nope," Neville answered with a shake of his head. "I don't know what you're talking about." He put his hands down, his cheeks still red. "I, um, stayed in bed the whole time."
"We know," Pansy winked. "I can remember mine and Loro's first time," she sighed dreamily, resting her chin on her hands. "It was so romantic..." Harry smiled at the brunette. He hoped that one day he would be able to recall his and Draco's first time with as much emotion. He thought of how he been willing just about an hour ago, and then thought of Hermione's strange behavior and her warning.
"Guys, I've got something important to tell you," Harry said seriously. Blaise, Pansy, and Neville grew serious at his tone. They got the other's attention and listened intently as Harry told them everything that had happened with Hermione.
"Lucius," Severus called as he finally joined the blonde at the Head Table. He had arrived just in time to hear the end of Dumbledore's usual speech. "Lucius."
The blonde Transfiguration professor turned away from his mate to look over at his friend, finally noticing the other's grim appearance. "Severus, what's wrong?"
"I'm not entirely sure," Severus whispered without making eye contact. "I wanted to tell you that I would be retiring early. I have this awful feeling which I haven't been able to shake all day."
Lucius reached a pale hand over to grab the Potion Master's chin, turning him so their eyes met. "Look at me," he whispered. Severus obliged. "Your pupils are dilated," he pointed out. "You feel colder than usual, yet your heart seems to be beating faster." He put his hand down. "Have you considered that these feelings could be another side effect of Charlie's absence?" he whispered the last part.
"Of course I have," Severus sighed. "It's not that, I'm sure." He looked around the blonde, hoping to catch a glimpse of Fiore or Lustro. "Where are they?" he asked.
"Gathering herbs from the Forest," Sirius supplied from over Lucius's shoulder. He saw Severus's dreary look. "Snape, are you alright?"
"I appreciate your concern, mutt," Severus said lacking his usual sarcasm. "I tried talking to the Aethon, but none of them felt anything amiss. Perhaps, I'm just coming down with something."
"Maybe one of the student potions had a little too much nightshade," Sirius offered as food appeared before them on the table.
Severus and Lucius looked over at the brunette with two different looks: Severus looked pleasantly surprised and Lucius looked amused. "You have information in that thick skull of yours after all," Severus said sounding a bit more like his snarky self.
"Yes, well," Sirius started around a bite of chicken, "some things you never forget. I may have accidentally added a bit of nightshade to a sleeping draught in first year. And-"
"Let me guess," Severus sighed, "nightmares?"
"Dreadful ones," Sirius said with a shiver. "You were the star." Sirius laughed while Lucius gently pointed Severus's wand at the floor before he could hex his mate into oblivion. He was glad he noticed the quick movement in the first place. Severus was a master duelist. Sirius was lucky to have such a preceptive mate.
"Do you think this first stage will happen tonight?" Blaise asked after Harry had finished explaining his and Draco's encounter with Hermione.
"I would be willing to bet it happens before the feast comes to an end," Draco replied. "Granger said the evils were surrounding the castle as we speak. Why not attack now? We're all together in one large place, perfect targets for a swarm of enemies."
"Have the Aethon gone to search the grounds?" Andon asked. Draco nodded. "Shouldn't we be helping them then?"
"Well, Hermione said that not even the Aethon could sense what the dangers were," Harry said. "Professor Snape is the only one, according to Hermione, that sense anything is wrong."
"He seems to be alright to me," Blaise said nodding up to the Head Table. They all turned to see their three professors behaving the same way they usually did at feasts.
"And this first stage is supposedly a death?" Z'kary asked next. "Who would make the best target?"
Harry closed his eyes in thought as the others debated on who the aforementioned victim might be. "If we can find Death," he started, "then persuading him to spare the victim's life shouldn't be too hard." The longer they were able to put off the Dark Lord's plan, the better. No more innocent lives needed to be lost.
"Where do we even start looking for 'Death'?" Neville asked as he leaned heavily against Andon. "We can't just start asking people."
"Well, let's think for a minute," Draco said. "We know- well we can safely assume, that Hermione is Fate. Furthermore, it may be safe to assume that Death is probably someone else that's connected to Hogwarts. We should also prepare for the any other wraiths as well, like Life. I read once that the five Soul Wraiths: Fate, Death, Life, Discord, and Peace, cannot survive separately. Since this is the first I've heard of them taking a tangible form, we cannot rule anyone or anything out."
"Five?" Harry asked. "There are hundreds of students and faculty. It may be nearly imp-"
But before Harry could finish his sentence, a large rumbling could be heard from above. Several students gasped and looked frantically to the magicked sky above their heads. It portrayed a clear, starry night. The rumbling grew louder. "Students!" the headmaster called. "Do not worry! Just follow your prefects back to your respective houses!"
In a large, mad rush all the students stood to flee the Great Hall, all except Harry, Draco, Neville, Andon, Blaise, Z'kary, Andien, Pansy, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Sirius, Severus, Lucius, Hagrid, and Dumbledore.
The rumbling grew louder and louder as students and faculty ushered themselves from the Hall. The sky above them began to tremble, the magic slowly beginning to crack.
"Dumbledore, what's going on?" Hagrid asked in worry as the rumbling grew even louder.
"I haven't a clue, Rubeus," Dumbledore answered with a sick twinkle in his eyes.
And at that precise moment, a large chunk of the ceiling fell as a large, dark mass crashed through it. Draco pulled Harry and Pansy away just before a piece of debris would have crushed them. "Look out!" he yelled to the group. Debris and dust were flying everywhere as the large mass hit the tables and ground with a loud thud.
It was only then that Severus knew precisely why he felt so uneasy. His feeling of dread was indeed justified. There, lying in a crumpled heap was a familiar blue dragon, his rider no where to be seen. It took mere seconds before Severus was running into the debris, his heart falling deep into his stomach as he imagined the worse.
"Arbutus?" Ron asked in shock as he wiped dust from his eyes. He knew that dragon from his last trip to Romania to visit his brother before the family had cut him out. He ran forward, followed by everyone besides Dumbledore- who had seemingly disappeared into thin air...
"Hurry!" Severus yelled as they continued pulling and pushing debris from the wounded dragon. It was not hard to tell that the wounds were far more serious and had not all been caused by the fall. With passing second, Severus felt his heart breaking into more pieces than the rubble around him. Charlie was still nowhere to be found...
And finally, a head of red hair could be seen poking from beneath one of Arbutus's massive wings. Severus and Ron immediately flew over to Charlie, neither concerned with the fact that they hated each other. All that mattered was making Charlie was alive, and Severus could sense that he was, but only barely.
"Charlie?" he called gently, tears welling in his eyes as he carefully turned the red-head onto his back. There were several fresh cuts and bruises accompanying the old scars.
Ron grabbed his brother's wrist, checking for his pulse. "It's too low, he needs to go to the Infirmary!" He jumped up and bent back to try and pick his brother up.
Z'kary grabbed his shoulder firmly. "We cannot move him in this state; it would only make matters worse..." As Ron, Severus, Sirius, Lucius, and Z'kary started arguing about the safest course of action, Harry pulled Draco off to the side, Pansy, Blaise, Neville, Andien, and Andon following suit.
"We need to find Death right now," Harry said with a sad look over at the fading Charlie. "If we don't persuade Death in time, Charlie will die..."
"Looking for me?" giggled an eerily chanting voice that had two harmonious tones to it. "You cannot cheat Death, but I am definitely up for a... bargain."
They all froze, turning their heads towards the voice. Luna Lovegood was smiling innocently down at them from her place on a tall pile of debris...