(Author's notes: here's a short update, I must gather my skills once more before writing longer ones. We're nearly there. I love you guys.)
How did this all come to be?
That was the question in Merida's mind as she looked up the tower. The skies were dark, a storm brewing within those clouds that hovered and blotted out the sun. With a breath, she wore her bow over her back, the bowstrings tight against her front; all the better as she grabbed hold of the rocky side of the tower and hauled herself up. This climb should be no more different than the hundred times she had scaled the side of cliffs back home.
But the stone was rough and scratched her pale skin, sure to leave many little marks there later, to redden and bruise and bleed.
Up there, she could hear a muffled screaming.
"I'm coming!" she cried out, "Hold on!"
"Hiccup, hold on." Merida sighed as she sat down beside him, the storm raging outside the castle walls, muffled to their ears through the thick stone and the shut glass of the windows.
She had finally found him after Al sent her off to the common rooms. Hiccup sat in an empty classroom in the hallway past the headmaster's office where Professor Tooth had left him. He looked to be in such a sullen mood that he did not pick up to his feet and rush off to rescue his best friend.
"Jack couldn't change their minds," he said as he sat with head bowed, elbows resting on his knees, "There was nothing the teachers could do, the parents called the Ministry and they want Toothless sentenced."
Merida gnawed at her lips in thought, not even noticing the chill of the air against their damp quidditch robes.
"Then let's go get 'im."
"Merida, we can't," Hiccup looked to her.
"Well, why not!? You've been breaking the rules fer the past year, why stop now?"
"Because that will make them kill him, and me expelled."
"Oh, come on, at thsi point, yeh theink yer still a student?" she huffed and rose to her feet, "We have ter get 'im outta there."
"Where exactly is 'there'?" Hiccup looked up to her.
Jack slammed the door behind him and rushed down the stone stairway and past the eagle statue, wading through the sea of concerned parents and curious students. His brows were knitted in a frown, gripping his frosted staff by his side.
They've really done it now, there was nothing North could do to change their minds.
That dragon was helping, wasn't he? The fire could have just been called collateral damage...if there weren't people on the stands.
Of course they just couldn't tell them about the swarm of shadows or that would shut down Hogwarts for good.
"OW!" Jack yelped as he staggered forwards into a deserted corridor. He gripped the back of his head, looking back, "What was that for!?"
Merida rubbed her palm, "Ter get yer attention."
Hiccup appeared behind her, looking sullen but determined, "Where's Toothless?"
Jack's eyes widened as he looked at the both of them. He knew that look.
"Whoa, whoa, it's dangerous, you know the situation,"
"Do I look like I give a damn, Jack?" said Hiccup exasperated, "Look, you can do whatever you want, you don't need to come with us, but just tell us where Toothless is, you know he's innocent."
"Hiccup, people are injured. At this point I don't think anyone will ever believe us."
"No one ever believes a bunch of fifteen year olds, eh?" Merida huffed and pulled out her wand, "Tell me, Jack, or so help me, I'll wring it out o' yeh."
"What are you gonna do, jinx me?"
"No, I'll shove my wand up somewhere uncomfortable, yeh hear?"
Jack blinked, then looked to Hiccup, "And how are we supposed to get a giant lizard out of here?"
Merida turned to Hiccup, also looking for an answer. Hiccup stood there, thinking, then spoke "...how else? We fly."
"Of course," Jack sighed and took them both by the arm, nearly dragging them upstairs, away from the swarms of people.
"Hey! Let go!" Merida yanked her arm away, "Really, Hiccup!? Even I think that's a terrible plan."
"Don't you see? They won't jinx Toothless if Hiccup's on him," Jack pointed out tiredly, "They can't endanger a student."
"We can't be so sure..." Merida mumbled.
Hiccup was quiet as Jack led them to the empty halls above, torches unlit and the air thin and chilly as the heavy raindrops pattered against the windows.
"The Dark Tower..." he whispered, glancing to Jack, "They put him up there!?"
Jack led them up a spiral stairs, not even wanting to answer that. If Toothless could even escape it, the ower was high enough to be hit by lightning, and it often was. With a storm like this, it could very well be a possibility.
The Dark Tower was the highest place in all the castle, an old prison. During the time when dementors were posted at the school, this was where they put an escaped criminal awaiting the punishment of the Dementor's Kiss.
"Wait-where's Rapunzel?" Merida asked as they ran up the stone steps, feeling their legs grow heavy. Their footfalls rebounded against the cold walls.
"I saw her last in the pitch, she must be in the hospital wing with Scamander" Hiccup told her.
Jack kicked open the door above them and the gusts of wind whipped at them with such ferocity. Merida winced at the sudden cold, and the rain splashing at their faces.
"Be careful!" Jack warned them as he disappeared into the gray haze. Hiccup clambered after him, following the blue of his hood in the blinding chaos.
The top of the tower was slippery with the storm and the winds blowing, enough to knock a child off his feet.
From there, they could see the other towers and the length of the Great Hall, the windows all alight, but their eyes was to the little cell at the end of the tower top, with iron bars that trapped the struggling dragon inside. There were mad screeches and the sharp sound of clawing on stone.
"Toothless!" Hiccup called out.
Jack saw the black blur of him about to fire, "CAREFUL!" he yanked Hiccup aside with the crook of his staff just as a bluish spray of fire was spat out from within the cell. Merida had thrown herself to the other side, against the wall, panting as the rain turned to burning steam.
"Bud, it's me!" Hiccup ran back. Toothless let out a struggling cry at recognizing him.
Merida came forward as the steam dissipated, feeling burnt and freezing at the same time.
"The iron...it didn't budge..." she breathed as she stood by Hiccup.
Jack knelt, eyes squinting against the rain that dripped along his pale face, hand hovering over the red-hot iron cooling down along the side of the whole contraption whilst Hiccup tried to calm Hiccup down.
"It's enchanted," Jack said.
"So how're we supposed ter break it down?" Merida asked.
"Hold on, bud..." Hiccup said and pulled away, "-aim for the hinges."
"Professor...who wants to see me?" Rapunzel asked as she followed Pitch's gangly form.
"You'll see soon enough."
She found herself gripping her wand inside her pocket. She felt danger in the air as he led her away from the crowds, towards the Potions classroom.
Whatever it was, she will not hesitate.
He opened the door and she was about to pull out her wand when...
In a split second, she was pulled into a tight embrace that squeezed the air from her lungs.
"Oh, my flower, are you alright!? You're hurt!" Gothel fussed over her, bouncy black hair with flecks of grey in distress as she checked Rapunzel's arm.
"Mother, I'm alright, really."
"Apparently not," Pitch chimed in, "...you have been attacked by one of the shadows, did you not?"
"No, I-how did you know that?" Rapunzel breathed, looking to him.
"Oh, what does it matter!? I cannot let you stay, it's dangerous out here!"
"Mother, you cna't bring me home, not yet!"
"All the other parents are bewildered at this lack of security, do you think anyone will stay here with that mad dragon and all these shadows attacking students!? And you teachers, they have done nothing to correct it!"
"The Malfoys have already talked of taking their son hom after such an incident." said Pitch.
"You see, dear? There's nothing to worry about, the Ministry will handle the rest of this mess adn everything will be just fine once I take you home..."
Rapunzel drew away from her, "Mother, no one said anything about shadows..."
Mother gothel's expression froze and she quickly cracked a smile to cover it up, "Of course they did, dear! All the parents have been abuzz in disbelief! That Scamander boy...oh, poor soul."
Nobody's said anythign about the shadows. The headmaster has kept it a secret, all the teachers have. She glanced to Pitch who stood a few feet away, hands behind his back, amber eyes watching them almost curiously with a passive expression.
Rapunzel's heart hammered and only then did she realize that Pascal was missing.
"Now?" she said.
"Of course, I can't let you be in any more danger-"
"Of course, but...I have to get something," Rapunzel gave a faulty smile. Mother does not know about Pascal, after all. Dread crept in her heart, "I have to..."
Mother's smile retracted and there was a sharp look in her eyes, "Rapunzel?"
Shadows lingered in the corners of the all too familiar Potions classroom.
Rapunzel turned to her heels and ran as fast as her feet could carry her.