Chapter 21: Intruders at Yule
Felix paced nervously near the barrels which hid the Hufflepuff common room. He fidgeted with the sleeves of his modern-cut charcoal dress robes, retied his tie and spent the remainder fretting at his appearance in the reflection of some glass. Around him, other Hufflepuffs and their dates were pairing up, chatting and heading out to the Great Hall where the festivities were set to begin. This never gets easier… Felix mused. He and Hannah had gone out to many functions together in the future past, but this was their first as a couple in the present. It wasn't just nerves that were gnawing internally, but genuine worry. He and Evander had discussed the possibility that something may happen tonight, even though it was uneventful in the first iteration. A simple butterfly effect, or the magicks unleashed from whatever triggered the whole time-travel shenanigan could drastically change history – perhaps for the worse.
"Knut for your thoughts?"
"You… look stunning… as always," Felix stammered. Hannah was decked out in a creamy set of dress robes, which were well tailored to fit her body. She had braided her hair, and there was a slight flush of her cheeks that Felix found endearing.
"You are not so bad yourself, Mr. Suave and Handsome." Hannah smiled. Felix thought he might as well die happy at this moment. He gently reached for Hannah's hand.
"Shall we?" Felix had no wish to unburden his worries. Tonight should be a happy and carefree night for at least one of them. Felix could do all the worrying himself.
Things with Hannah always felt so natural. Felix thought. Honestly, he remembered nothing of what happened in the first Yule Ball he attended – not even his date. After the opening rituals, where all the Champions and their dates had been presented, he and Hannah whirled away a bit on the dance floor. Hannah was super hesitant at first, but Felix soon was leading her with ease and a lightness that he had not felt in so long. He knew all the traditional pureblood dances, but he was fond of Muggle dance as well. After an exuberant number curtesy of the Weird Sisters, Felix and Hannah broke apart.
"Quite a workout you got going there." Evander remarked from behind.
Evander was wearing jet black robes with a matte finish. There were a few twinkling luminous stars charmed on his sleeves and the bottom half of the robes – a number subtle enough to break the monotony of black, but not enough to distract. The stars moved as Evander moved. He had a grey waistcoat tucked under, and a bow tie in the similar matte black of his robes. Beside him was Luna, who was busy taking in everything around her. She wore dress robes of bright yellow, with earrings that were in the shape of little hummingbirds whirling madly. There were yellow star-shaped flowers in her hair.
"It's fun though." Felix found himself justifying, "You should give it a go."
Evander chuckled, "Luna doesn't dance."
"He's right." Luna nodded. "We've been blending in with the shadows."
"It's been fun watching Professor Snape deducting points left and right." Evander said with great amusement. "He's in rare form today."
"You say that as if it's a good thing." Hannah observed, while Felix laughed.
"Gryffindor is winning." Luna added.
"Do you think we can eat soon?" Felix asked. He was getting hungry.
"We should grab a table." Evander pointed to the round tables adorned with their fancy tablecloths, cutlery and flowery centrepieces.
"Then we can go to the rosebushes." Hannah winked at Felix. "I've heard good things about them from the upper years!"
Felix felt like he was going to spontaneously combust.
"I did hear some great expletives from Snape about those." Evander said with a grin, "Even some that I didn't know.
"We should go too," Luna looked excitedly at Evander, "I want to see if the Nargles prefer rosebushes or mistletoe."
"A great scientific expedition!" Evander exclaimed, "I look forward to it."
The rosebushes made Felix feel like a teenager again – or rather, more like his biological age. The bushes could hold a surprising number of amorous students. Wisely, Felix pulled Hannah to the bushes located in the opposite direction of a scowling Severus.
"Five points from Ravenclaw and two points from Slytherin, Ms. Li and Mr. Nott."
"Merlin, he's miserable." Hannah whispered to Felix. "Sometimes I think he just needs…"
"Shush…" Felix grimaced, "I do not need these ideas."
Hannah laughed. Felix savoured. They were in a discreet corner of the garden. Felix had cast a strong warming charm, while snow gently drifted from the skies above. Colourful enchanted lights hidden in the bushes illuminated their surroundings.
"I know this is soon." Felix found himself whispering to Hannah in the shadows of the shrubbery, "But you have come to mean a lot to me."
There was a pause. There was rustles in the bushes punctuating the silence. Hannah smiled – rather similarly to when Felix had whispered sweet-nothings in the years of the future past.
"You are such a sap." Hannah smiled larger. "You mean a lot to me too."
The two of them leaned towards each other. Snow continued to drift down slowly – leisurely. Felix brushed his forehead against hers. Hannah leaned further and kissed him on the lips. A quick one – chaste.
They both separated.
"I wish this can last forever." Felix said dreamily.
There was a loud noise from the bushes, and a dark blur bounded in front of Felix and disappeared into the adjacent flora.
"The fuck was that?" Felix whispered, his voice punctuated the syllables harshly. Hannah let out a little yelp in fright.
Hannah clung onto Felix.
Felix drew his wand from his holster.
"It was an animal of some sort." Hannah whispered.
"Shh..." Felix replied. "Let's follow it."
Before they emerged from the last bush in the direction the blur went, Felix saw the dark creature lounging on a rock near the castle's Entrance. Felix could see in the dark that it was a large cat. Carefully, he aimed his wand at the creature and muttered a basic Tracking spell.
"What's going on?" Hannah whispered urgently.
"I don't know." Felix whispered back, "But, I don't like it."
"It's just a cat." Hannah replied.
"I hope so." Felix watched as the cat seemed to stretch itself. In the moonlight, it appeared thin and sleek.
"Someone's pet?" Hannah asked.
"Unlikely…" Felix muttered back. He then said thoughtfully, "It's too cold outside, for someone to let their pet out."
"It's going." Hannah noted, pointing in the direction that it bounded.
Felix watched the cat leap from its perch. In the shadows, hugging the stone walls of the castle, it headed to the Entrance. Other students were out, but no one noticed the feline stealthily move across the grounds.
"Let's behave normally." Felix whispered. "Take my arm and we will head towards the Great Hall."
Hannah did as she was told. Felix felt comforted with Hannah's arm around his, and they slowly made their way to the entrance. Mirth surrounded them as they entered the Entrance Hall; Yuletide décor in the form of Christmas trees and other wintry essentials graced the space. Enchanted snow fell lightly from the skies, feeling no different than the snow from the outside.
"Point the way!" Felix whispered to his wand when they reached an intersection.
The wand twitched, and its tip pointed to the direction leading to a long corridor. Felix repeated the procedure every time they reached a fork.
"I don't like this." Felix muttered. "And I think I know where we are going."
"Where, Felix?" Hannah whispered back, "And is it dangerous?"
"I wish not." Felix replied. "I would never forgive myself if I put you in any danger."
"We should tell someone where we are going." Hannah said with seriousness.
Felix nodded. "Expecto Patronum!"
Felix's falcon left his wand and flew back the way they came.
"I messaged Evander." Felix said as they continued walking. He stopped, and he said seriously, "You don't need to come with me. It might be dangerous."
"Felix Wedgewood…" Hannah started to look furious, "If you think I am letting you go there alone, you've thought wrong."
Felix held up his hands in surrender.
"And where are we going?" The drawl of Draco's voice made them both turn around.
"I thought you weren't going to Yule," Felix looked pointedly at Draco – clad in his regular robes of grey.
"I got kicked out of the lab." Draco said sadly, "Uncle Severus said that if he had to suffer, so did I."
"So, instead, you are wandering around the upper floor corridors," Hannah remarked amusedly.
Draco spread his arms out. "Figured I could find some secret passageway or something."
"Did you see a strange cat go by?" Felix asked seriously.
Draco froze, and looked thoughtful. After a moment, he said, "I may have saw something move in the passageway over there."
"Shit," Felix swore, "Isn't that where Barnabas the Barmy is?"
"I got to go," Felix whispered harshly.
"No, we've got to go," Hannah said insistently, "You will have to Stupefy me to stop me."
"But –" Felix began to protest.
"Aren't we wasting time here?" Draco was already heading for the tapestry.
"Fine," Felix acquiesced. "But if I tell you both to run and hide – you better listen. Swear it!"
Both Hannah and Draco looked at each other. They slowly nodded.
Felix had a theory. He and Evander had discussed potential scenarios many times. It was quite possible that someone – maybe Dawson, would be interested in collecting all of Voldemort's horcruxes before he came back into power. It would be good leverage for any wizard or witch attempting to control the Dark Side. It was possible that these individuals could be from their future time. And therefore, very dangerous. Ideally, he would rather Evander be with him than Hannah and Draco – but he knew that Hannah would never forgive him if he tried something like knocking them both out.
Felix paced the passageway three times. The door to the Room of Lost Things came into view.
"Merlin," Draco whispered in surprise, "I did find a secret after all."
"One second," Felix interrupted as Draco attempted to reach for the door.
Felix took his wand and muttered some incantations. He tapped Hannah, himself and Draco in turn. A powerful cloaking charm – rendering them invisible to all the senses. He could see an outline of both Draco and Hannah.
"Woah," Draco whispered in awe. "This is –"
Felix shushed him. "We are going in now."
Felix opened the door carefully. The place looked like just as Felix and Evander had visited it last. It was quiet. Draco and Hannah were busy taking in everything – all the junk that had been lost in Hogwarts since who knows when. After a few minutes, Felix could hear irregular noises. He grabbed both Draco and Hannah and hid behind a marble statue of some ancient wizard with a long beard that trailed to the floor. There were two people hunting amongst the trash and treasures of the room. They both wore robes of white, and a mask that reminded Felix of the Death Eaters.
"Where is it?" A dark voice issued from the individual with a large frame. "He said it would be easy to find."
"I don't see it," A higher pitched voice – most likely female. "Could he be wrong?"
Who is he? Felix wondered.
"Accio horcrux!" The man cried out, waving his wand energetically.
"You fool." The possibly female hissed, "You can't summon one of those!"
Felix had to hold his laughter. Draco and Hannah looked perplexed.
"It didn't hurt to try – didn't it?" The possibly male said, "Bloody hell, it isn't anywhere!"
"We can't go back empty handed!" The probable female sounded partially distraught.
"No, you are right." The other replied, "He won't be happy."
"That's an understatement." The probable female sounded bitter.
"I have an idea." The possible male said after a few moments of deep thought. He pointed his wand to a piece of nearby rubbish. It was immediately transfigured into a replica of Ravenclaw's diadem.
"You really are a fool, Amyas," The probable female was disgusted, "He's going to see through that in five seconds."
"Do you have a better idea, my dear?" Amyas sounded sarcastic. He picked up the false diadem.
"Of course, I do," The possible female pulled out her wand from her sleeve. "You see that vanishing cabinet over there?"
"Yes," Amyas looked perplexed.
"It's broken." The possible female stated.
"And?" Amyas did not look any bit more enlightened.
"And… You, my dear, are going to fix it." The possible female continued.
Amyas took a bit to digest what he heard.
"Brilliant, Kat – just brilliant," Amyas exclaimed, "He shall be happy about this."
"He can look for it himself," Kat replied, "At his leisure."
"Genius," Amyas was excited. He dashed over to the vanishing cabinet and began to observe it carefully.
Draco nudged Felix. He looked as if he wanted to tell him something. Felix shushed him.
"I can fix this." Amyas said after a careful examination.
"Yes, you can fix this," Kat sounded impatient.
Just as Amyas was going to wave his wand, a sudden jet of red light emerged from somewhere and smacked into him. He crumpled to the ground, while Kat was immediately on the alert.
"There's someone here!" She exclaimed.
There was another jet of red light, but Kat nimbly dodged it. "Come out, come out, where ever you are?" She cried and pointed her wand in several directions, "Revelio! Revelio! Revelio!"
Felix pulled Hannah and Draco out of her spell range. He had no idea who was firing the Stunning spells, although, it was likely Evander. And in fact, Evander appeared – his cloaking magic was removed by her spell.
"We can't have that." Evander said amicably, "In fact – it was a mistake."
"What is a mistake?" Kat asked. Mockingly she said, "A mistake is not staying at Yule, like the rest of your little friends."
Evander pretended he didn't even hear her threats. He walked closer to her, fearlessly. He lazily pointed at the cabinet with his wand. It exploded into smithereens. Kat had to jump out of the way. Even then, some of the shrapnel had gotten onto her. She let out a shriek of pain.
"A mistake, my dear Kat, is underestimating me." Evander said smoothly. "Now tell me, who is him?"
"None of your business!" She spat.
"And what is the diadem?" Evander asked curiously.
"Ditto," She growled.
"You know…" Evander said invitingly, "I might be able to help you. Accio diadem!"
The fake diadem that Amyas had made earlier flew into Evander's hand.
"You are a fool." Kat hissed, "No one can help me."
A jet of purple light came from Kat's wand, and Evander stepped to the side. She fired several curses and spells at Evander, who simply dodged away or with a simple flick of his wand deflected the magic away. Felix dragged Hannah and Draco further away – away from the flying magic.
"We should help him," Draco whispered urgently.
"No," Felix whispered. "My job is to keep you guys safe. Evander can take her."
Kat aimed another spell at Evander, Evander blocked it with a large table and sent it smashing into her. She screamed in partial agony, and whatever one could make out from the incoherent noise were profanities. Evander kept his wand trained on the white-robed woman. The din eventually died down.
"Do you have anything to say?" Evander said levelly.
"None to you," She snapped, "You should keep your nose out of things that don't matter to you."
Evander simply looked at her. He slowly raised an expressive eyebrow.
"You are young and foolish – like I was." Kat continued, "Stay out of what the grown-ups are playing for."
Felix noticed that as Evander was talking nonsense, that the unconscious Amyas was slowly being slid towards Evander. There were wooden splinters stuck in his body from the previous explosion.
"Ah…" Evander was just simply wasting time. "Everything matters to me."
"I am giving you one last warning!" Kat hissed. She waved her wand and made the destroyed table vanish. "Or you will regret it!"
"I think, in this situation – I have all the leverage." Evander smiled.
"I don't think so." Kat said confidently.
"I know why you are here." Evander lowered his wand. "I know who your master is. And…" Evander trailed off. He looked almost pitifully at her. "I feel sorry for you. For he does not take failure kindly."
"I will not fail!" Kat hissed. "I haven't failed him yet –"
"Well, you certainly aren't going to find what you are looking for here." Evander said nonchalantly.
"It's somewhere in this room!" She was becoming hysterical. "I can feel it calling for me!"
Felix grabbed his charges. "We need to get out of here!"
"But..!" Draco tried to resist Felix's tug but was pulled towards the direction of the door.
A terrible incantation escaped Kat's mouth, just as Evander sent out golden jets of light that encircled Kat and bound her tight in a variant of a body-bind curse.
"We got to run, now!" Felix urged Draco and Hannah towards the door as enormous jets of fire engulfed the room.
"Fiendfyre…!" Draco looked dumbfounded.
"Figures," Felix muttered darkly. What destroys the room the first time around, happens again the second time.
The three of them leapt over debris, while Felix blasted apart all the furniture and statues blocking their way on their mad dash towards the door.
"What about Evander?" Hannah asked as Draco had his hand on the door handle.
"He will be fine," Felix said grimly. "He always is."
"But why did she set that fire?" Draco asked on the way down.
"Let's not talk about that here." Felix said sternly, "We don't know what's going on, and there's no need to spread information."
"I hope Evander is alright," Hannah said worriedly.
Felix didn't say anything else as they descended the steps. The Yule Ball was still going on full-tilt downstairs, but whatever festive mood that he had felt before was all gone. His fears had come true – and he hoped Evander would be okay. Felix grabbed Hannah's hand tightly when they reached the Great Hall.
"You didn't need to see that." Felix whispered. "I am sorry. I should have never brought you in there."
Hannah shook her head fiercely. "No, I made you –"
"We made you," Draco added.
"Hannah," Felix said wistfully, "I know it –"
"Felix!" Hannah exclaimed, "You are trying to be noble, but you don't need to. We are here to help each other. If anything – this night will always be memorable."
"In all the wrong ways," Felix said forlornly, "You shouldn't date me –"
"Felix…" Hannah said fiercely, "It's not your choice – it's mine."
All Felix could do is nod.
Draco added helpfully, "Don't be an idiot."
"And what is going on here?" Severus Snape, in all his black dress-robed glory, walked up towards them.
"We need to talk," Felix said seriously. "But not now, because –"
"Mr. Malfoy," Everyone turned around to see Professor McGonagall in her traditional tartan pattern dress robes. "I am glad to see you join us – although I wasn't expecting such attire from you."
"Are you going to take points off, professor?" Draco inquired rather seriously. He looked down ashamedly at his regular grey robes.
Felix had no idea what to do as he watched the flow of exchanges between Severus and Minerva. He needed to go back to the Room of Lost Things, but without arousing suspicion. He was surprised that the school hadn't wards for intruders – but Animagi had snuck into Hogwarts in the past. There were at least three notable cases that came to mind.
"Mr. Wedgewood," Minerva turned to face him, "It's unusual to see you so at unease." She looked thoughtful for a moment. "Something has happened."
"We need to go to the upper floors." Felix finally said, "But we can't make a big deal out of it."
"Lead us there." Severus said seriously.
"I will take care of the 'can't make a big deal out of it' part." Minerva pulled out her wand and waved it in a complex fashion.
"A derivative of the Notice-me-Not." Felix observed. "Never seen that one before…"
"Filius taught me that one." Minerva said briskly as Felix started leading everyone the way back they came. "It only really falls apart if there's someone looking intently for us."
"Speaking of Notice-me-Not charms," Severus started saying on the staircase, "What is that magic that Evander does when he snaps his fingers? I can never hear anything properly afterwards."
"I think it's his secret to divulge," Felix said, "I don't know much about it otherwise." Felix was being honest. There were a lot of magical things that Evander could do that he could not. Evander had taught him many things over the course of the time they had been together, but Evander was not the type of person who shared everything.
"It reminds me of something I've done myself," Severus mused.
Felix didn't know if he made the right choice in leading everyone back to the Room of Requirement. Before anyone could remark on the seemingly door-less space that they stopped at, Felix paced around, thinking. The door appeared.
First Felix cautiously placed his hand on the handle. It was not hot to the touch. He then opened the door, expecting everything to be in ashes. The debris that he had left was still there.
"Evander?" Felix entered the room, "Where are you, Evander?'
Minerva and Severus followed him, both curiously observing the room's contents. Draco and Hannah followed closely after. Felix found Evander sitting down cross legged beside the unconscious Amyas, whose injuries appeared to have been treated. He was bound with the golden coils that wrapped around his entire body. Evander was staring intensely at a section of area that was roped off with a velvet rope, rather like those seen in Muggle theatres. Felix was horrified by its contents – remaining Fiendfyre burning bright.
"Mr. Murphy," Severus started, "Should you not extinguish that?"
"I was trying to remember the counter." Evander admitted, "I don't remember everything, you know."
"It's this." Felix swished his wand in a complicated fashion, "But I find that difficult to believe…"
The flames vanished, leaving a blackened area covered with ashes. There were a few radiating streaks that appeared to have left the perimeter that Evander had created.
"Ashwinders…" Severus observed, "This fire has burned for a long time – maybe half an hour." He then asked sternly, "What is going on here?"
"I have no idea." Evander said. "Should we talk here?"
"It's as good as any other place." Minerva observed. "But I have many questions that I need answered, Evander. If it were any other student with a Stunned individual and involved with such Dark Magic – I would be a lot more difficult."
"Should Mr. Malfoy and Ms. Abbott leave?" Severus asked.
"Godfather – no!" Draco said urgently, "We were witnesses!"
"Where is Kat?" Hannah asked.
Evander's nonchalant expression hardened a bit. "She's dead."
"Who is Kat?" Minerva asked, "And, why… is she dead?"
"I think," Severus interrupted, "We need to start from the beginning."
"I think," Evander started, "We need to make a few decisions. We should have this discussion tomorrow – maybe in Severus' quarters, or even here. I need some time to think and get my head around everything. This is a handy room, although I don't know if the Fiendfyre damaged it enough for it to malfunction. We need to figure out what are we going to do with Amyas – this man over here. He's working for someone, and it is not You-Know-Who. There's a new power determined to get their finger in some pies, and we should probably figure out what they are up to. Kat was Amyas' partner in crime. I tried to talk her down, but she ended up setting the Fiendfyre. I don't think she could control it well. I had to take control, but the fire had burnt her to ashes before I could stop them."
"But how did they get in?" Minerva asked, "We do have wards."
"As animals." Felix said. "There was a dark coloured cat. And I don't know who the other one came as. I don't even know if they were Animagi."
Minerva shook her head.
"Do we tell Albus?" Severus asked Minerva.
"I don't know." Minerva said after a moment.
AN: Sorry for my neglect of this story. Real life is busy and writer's block sucks. I've sat down and tried to write before in previous months but it never took, nor was I satisfied. Thank you for your continued support, and I will try my best.