Chapter Thirteen ‘True Colours’ By Timothy Wayne Panzid Helyard It was incredibly cold, as Hillary discovered when she ran outside the Warehouse. She hadn’t realised how warm it had being inside until she was thrown out into the bitter freezing wasteland. Muttering under her breath she shrugged it off and walked on. Tim was good enough to let her leave, after some persuasion of course but the others; Avonlea in particular wouldn’t take it so well so she had to get out of the vicinity before they came to their senses. She sidetracked to their tent to get a warmer coat, she wasn’t too surprised to find Solomon wasn’t home; he was probably out chasing rabbits, again. She grabbed anything that would keep the chill off including the strange relic she had obtained from Dumbledore’s Office, if she was lucky and it might work for her and make her search go a lot faster. She searched the town, trudging through knee high drifts of solid snow, muttering instructions into her palm. The pale pink-purple coloured crystal was supposed to find what the heart desired, what ever that meant, well whether that was Daniel or not it wasn’t doing anything for her. Giving up on the fruitless task she stuffed the crystal into her coat pocket; before she ended up doing something stupid like throwing it against a brick wall. It was quite obvious Daniel wasn’t here, Avonlea was right he Disapparated and without knowing where he went she would never find him, she might as well go back home and wait for him to come to her. She was about to do this when all of a sudden something caught her attention in the corner of her eye. When she turned around there was nothing there, just the open plains. Needless to say she was filled with an almost psychotic curiosity. On impulse she drew her wand and disappeared with a loud crack, not even bothering to think where her destination was. This was incredibly dangerous and life threatening when Apparating because the Destination was the key. You could end up 50 feet in the air or buried up to your chin in solid rock that’s how so many Splinching’s occurred each year because of unlicensed Apparating. Luckily she was one of the very few who manage to land on the ground unharmed, though she swore her eyebrows never looked the same again. She was standing on a patch of wet grass where the snow had melted. There were a few dead trees here and there with skeletal branches bare and quivering in the night breeze. The sky was shining with stars and a luminous moon only partially cloaked by the stormy grey snow clouds. She took a minute to take in her surroundings and get her bearings, deciding whether or not to give up, when all of a sudden a spark of light caught her eye, it was much closer this time, behind a tree just a few yards away in fact. She spotted a lean figure, sitting on a tree stump. He was hunched over with his fingers combed through his ash black hair. Though she couldn’t see his face she knew it was Daniel, because one of the hands was a dull brass. Now that she’d found him, she wasn’t sure how to approach him The cold air was gnawing on her senses and she had to clench her jaw to stop her teeth from chattering. She finally plucked up the courage to make herself known. ‘’Daniel, you ok?’’ ‘’Hillary’’ he exclaimed. He bolted up right staring at her, very much surprised to find her standing there. ‘’What are you doing here?’’ ‘’Looking for you’’ she smiled hesitantly. ‘’You disappeared before I had a chance to talk to you. Could I sit down‘’ He moved over so she could sit next to him, he looked a bit sullen about the idea but didn’t protest so she took a seat, crossing her arms and trying to stay warm. ‘’Is… is he dead?’’ Daniel asked softly after a long silence. ’No, he’s ok. You knocked him out cold though if that’s any consolation’’ ‘’Suppose’’ he muttered cracking his knuckles. She winced with discomfort at the sound. ‘’Charlie and George said they were going to take care of him’’ ‘’What on earth possessed you to dance with a creep like that for anyway?’’ his tone was awfully critical and she didn’t like ‘’I don’t know. He seemed nice enough and I wasn’t getting offers of anyone else’’ she replied sharply. ‘’You only need to look at him to know he’s trouble’’ ‘’Well I’m sorry but we don’t all have X-ray vision like you Daniel’’ she simmered. He frowned ever so slightly, combing his metal fingers through his windswept black hair an almost transparent emotion flickered over his eyes like he was remembering something. It didn’t go unnoticed. ‘’Knut for your thoughts’’ she offered trying to be civil. ‘’Believe me, they’re not worth the money’’ he sighed. ‘’Do you want me to leave you alone?’’ she asked. Sometimes we just had to bite our tongue and let them go through their own troubles alone, no matter how much it hurts you to do so. He finally had the courtesy to look her in the eye, like a gentleman should; but his shining blue eyes were dark and foreboding, they sent a cold pang through her soft beating heart. ‘’I will’’ she promised, unwillingly. ‘’If you want to be alone’’ ‘’Why did you really come here Hillary?’’ he asked softly. She blinked. ‘’I told you, I wanted to see if you were ok?’’ He shook his head, seeing past the feeble story. ‘’Why? I’m obviously not in the general vicinity of the Warehouse yet you came out here to find me… just seems a little odd to me’’ He was never one for leaving work unfinished and there was more to this tale. She bit her bottom lip. ‘’I was worried, and a little angry with you’’ she admitted. ‘’You, to put it simply, saved me and walk away like nothing happened, most heroes stick around’’ ‘’I’m not a hero’’ he disagreed. ‘’And I don’t like crowds. I was leaving at the time, I saw what was happening so I intervened but honestly Hillary I just wanted to get out of there’’. ‘’So you do want me to go?’’ ‘’No’’ Her brow creased in confusion. ‘’I’m sorry Daniel your not making any sense’’ ‘’I did want to be alone’’ he shrugged, looking to his clasped hands, struggling with something inside. She smiled in understanding and sighed, men. ‘’Do you mind if I stayed with you? I don’t really want to be alone right now that’s all’’ she said speaking for him, to save him the embarrassment of asking her. ‘’If you want’’ he mumbled uncaring but the strain was lifted. ‘’Daniel can I ask you a question and I want the truth’’ ‘’Ok’’ ‘’Did I… Have I done something to upset you?’’ ‘’No’’ ‘’Maybe it’s nothing but ever since Christmas Day I got the feeling you’ve being avoiding me’’ she explained. ‘’Have you?’’ He didn’t reply straight away and she realised what ever he said next wasn’t going to be the whole truth. ‘’It’s nothing to do with you Hillary, I’ve just being having a hard time sleeping’’ ‘’Do you want to talk about it?’’ she offered. ‘’Its nothing, a lot has happened lately that’s all. I have a lot on my mind’’ ‘’Maybe if you talk about it, the pressure will ease off’’ He sighed loudly staring out at the night sky. ‘’There was once a time when I could name every consolation of stars’’ he told Hillary. ‘’Nowadays I can scarcely point out the North Star’’ ‘’I was never that good at Astronomy’’ Hillary admitted with a soft smile. ‘’I just managed to scrape an Acceptable last year’’ ‘’That’s good. Do you know how many O.W.L’s I received?’’ She shook her head, her emerald green eyes watching his expression change so abruptly. ‘’ None… I failed them all’’ ‘’Your joking’’ she exclaimed. ‘’You’re probably the smartest guy I know. That doesn’t make sense’’ ‘’No it doesn’t doe’s it’’ he agreed. ‘’I suppose when I tell you I failed them on purpose what would you say than’’ ‘’That your nuttier than squirrel poo’’ He laughed. ‘’Describes me fairly well, Dumbledore said something along those lines too. I suppose leaving my test paper completely blank was a little suspicious’’ ‘’Why would anyone do that? You don’t seem like the rebellious kind Daniel’’ ‘’I failed on purpose Hillary, I don’t expect you to understand but being smart isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Dumbledore wouldn’t hear any of it though, he took the case to the board of governors and I was given a special circumstances. They rated my teats scores on the work id done all year instead. Meaning I had to endure another year at Hogwarts’’ ‘’Endure?’’ ‘’You have no idea what its like to be me Hillary, constantly ridiculed for being smart when all I ever wanted was to be normal, to fit in’’ ‘’You Jackass’’ she snapped. ‘’I don’t have any idea. If you’d ever opened your eyes to look past your fat head, you’d see we all have that problem Daniel. Every teenager in that school feels like that’s sometimes but we don’t waste our talents’’ she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. ‘’You don’t have any idea how many people wish they were as smart as you, had an ounce of your intelligence’’ she was really angry; her opinion of Daniel had just dropped immensely. ‘’You don’t know the whole story’’ he muttered, speaking to his feet. ‘’Than tell me’’ ‘’I’ve always being an embarrassment’’ he said, feeling daggers in his back. ‘’I wont sugar-coat it Hillary, you’ve met my little brother. Kyle has a girl for every day of the week he’s one of the most popular kids at that school. Do you have any idea how that makes me feel? Your younger siblings are meant to look up to you, he just finds me a joke like everyone else in my family’’ ‘’Do any of those girls really make him happy though, popularity isn’t everything. I can’t stand people who think they’re better than anyone else Daniel. I liked you not because your smart but because you’re a nice guy; your charming and sweet and funny’’ she explained with a slight blush. ‘’That’s not what Wesley thought, the main reason I tried to fail was to get him off my back, I don’t like being smart Hillary, it only ever gave me trouble’’ ‘’This Wesley sounds like more of a Jackass than you’’ she sighed, giving him some slack for her earlier comment. ‘’More than you’d ever know. He was the golden child’’ he continued with an exhausted sigh. ‘’The perfect example for me to grow into and he took me under his wing. Anything that was deemed fun or extraordinary was banned. That’s the real reason why I can’t fly a broom’’ he told Hillary like it was some deep dark secret. ‘’It’s useless knowledge when I could just Apparate anywhere I wished, he was trying to mould me into something I didn’t want to be, I just cracked Hillary, I saw a way out and I took it… only thing was Dumbledore pulled me back. Wesley told me what to like, what to do, how to dress and of course mother agreed with everything. I was his little pet project on his way to becoming the youngest Minister of Magic’’ ‘’I’m sorry Daniel’’ she apologised, ‘’Your not a Jackass but you can’t think like that, I wont let you. You were given a gift and you have a moral obligation to use it but that’s not to say Wesley’s right. I meant everything I said; you are a great guy and a really good friend. You’re an adult, you have your own mind and your own choices you can choose who you want to be without ruining your future and it’s never to late to learn to fly. No its not necessary but it is fun and that’s something Wesley will never grasp, brains can only get you so far, what we all need is friendship and I really want to be your friend’’ ‘’I’ve never really had a friend’’ he muttered, he knew people but he could never call anyone a friend. ‘’You’ve had friends for over two months Daniel, you just weren’t smart enough to realise it yet’’ she grinned reaching for his hand and pulling him up. ‘’Come on’’ ‘’What we doing’’ ‘’We’re going back, I wont have my friend freezing out here in the dark’’ ‘’Hillary, I really don’t want to go back to the party. I meant it when I said I don’t like crowds’’ he refused. ‘’Well your not going to make me walk back to the tent alone are you?’’ she pouted, looking at him with her big emerald green eyes, they were enough to melt most men’s hearts. ‘’What kind of man would I be if I didn’t’’ he sighed with a slight smile taking over. Pulling up his hood they headed down the hillside, walking side by side; following the faint air of music coming from the distant orange glow of civilisation. The conversation was sparse; not to say Hillary wasn’t trying but Daniel seemed rather withdrawn and lost in his own thoughts. The lights were on but no one was home as they say. ‘’Daniel’’ ‘’Hmm’’ ‘’Strange question I know but when you punched that guy, was your hand glowing?’’ she wasn’t sure if it had being a trick of the light in all the confusion. ‘’You saw it to than?’’ he muttered flexing his bronze fingers. ‘’I thought maybe I damaged it but it stopped after a while’’ ‘’Your seeing Cyrus tomorrow aren’t you’’ ‘’Yeah, I’ll ask him maybe it was just a glitch in the system. Nothing to be worried about’’ ‘’What does it feel like?’’ she asked hesitantly. ‘’Sorry, that’s really rude isn’t it?’’ ‘’No its ok’’ he forgave her. ‘’It’s strange, like it’s not even there some days. I didn’t really pay any attention to my hands you know, they were just there but when I lost it I felt… like I wasn’t complete you know’’ he said with frown. ‘’Like I’d never be complete again, it was really depressing’’ ‘’You didn’t seem depressed’’ ‘’Because I didn’t want you to know’’ he admitted. ‘’I didn’t want you all fussing over me, not when we had bigger problems. Wesley told me that we should keep our own problems close to heart, that its better than making our problem everyone else’s’’ ‘’Your problems are just as important as any of ours Daniel’’ ‘’I tried to laugh it off, make stupid jokes because I didn’t want to admit it was true. Sometimes, I’d forget it was gone and it would just hit me like a sledgehammer to the stomach, I’d lost my hand’’ he sighed staring at the replacement and remembering what it was like. ‘’Did we do the right thing Daniel? Not taking you St Mungo’s?’’ ‘’What do you mean?’’ ‘’I’ve being feeling really guilty these past few days; I was the one who told Tim to fix it himself. I made him heal you; I didn’t even think what you would want. Maybe if we got you to the hospital they might have being able to-‘’ ‘’Hillary, they wouldn’t have being able to do anything’’ he interrupted sharply. ‘’You did the right thing. Taking me to St Mungo’s would only play right into the enemies hands; they’d have all of you for my mistake in trusting my brother. The only person I blame for losing my arm is Wesley and that Psychotic dwarf he calls a boss’’ ‘’Are you sure?’’ ‘’Hillary I’d tell you if I wasn’t. Besides I might just set of a trend, bionic limbs, every kid needs one’’ he chuckled dryly. ‘’How can you just laugh it off? Like it means nothing to you’’ ‘’Because it’s easier that way’’ he said stiffly. ‘’What Cyrus has done for me, it’s strange but that will wear off I just need to get on with my life, I’m not likely to grow another back’’ ‘’You’re the bravest man I know Daniel’’ she told him without a hint of sarcasm. He blushed. ‘’If you say so’’ ‘’Tomorrow, when you go see Cyrus, could I come with you this time?’’ ‘’Id like that’’ he agreed. ‘’It would be mean a lot if you did’’ ‘’You can count on me’’ she promised looping her arm through his and resting her head on his shoulder. He didn’t protest but their walk was decidedly slower after that. When they got back to the tent Daniel called out to see if anyone was home, the fire was crackling merrily but no sign of life. ‘’Solomon’’ he shouted expecting the curious creature to leap out from the rafters. ‘’That’s funny’’ he muttered to himself stamping the snow of his trainers. ‘’Your face, I know’’ Hillary teased childishly. ‘’Ha ha, actually I was talking about the fire’’ he pointed out the danger of an unguarded roaring fire and the very flammable material of the tent. ‘’That’s Solomon for you’’ she sighed, nodding to a pair of wet tracks on the carpet, they were misshapen and only had four toes. ‘’Better clean it up before Elia spots it, she’ll blow her top’’ he chuckled clearing away the tracks with a wave of his wand. ‘’Has she always being …’’ She couldn’t quite place the word. ‘’An overbearing clean freak’’ he suggested with a whimsical smile. . ‘’I was going to say tidy’’ ‘’Sure you were’’ he grinned peeling off his damp hooded sweater and propping it up in front of the furnace. ‘’We could always depend on Elia for a tidy common room’’ ‘’Do you want a cocoa’’ Hillary offered mimicking his actions and warming her hands which were blue with cold. ‘’Maybe a quick one’’ ‘’Do you want whip cream with that?’’ she asked over her shoulder with a devilish smirk, reminding him of their last cocoa together. ‘’Ahh, no I think I’ll pass’ he chuckled following her into the kitchen. ‘’We made a bit of a mess last time if I remember’’ ‘’It was fun though wasn’t it?’’ she argued. ‘’Very much so’’ he agreed sitting at the breakfast counter and watching with calm blue eyes as she laid down a pair of large mugs. Ten minutes later they were both sat on the smaller sofa by the crackling fire, nursing large mugs of piping hot cocoa, partially buried under the many plump cushions. The silence was nice, broken only by the crackle and pop of the fire or the occasional sigh of content. ‘’Hillary’’ ‘’Hmm’’ ‘’Thank you for this’’ ‘’Its only cocoa Daniel, it’s not Broom Science’’ she smiled making herself more comfortable and slightly snuggling up with Daniel. ‘’It means a lot’’ he argued. She didn’t have the heart to discourage him so gave him a warm smile and accepted his gratitude. ‘’Your very welcome Daniel, anytime you need to talk I’m here for you ok’’ she urged giving his hand a pat. ‘’I know’’ ‘’I think you need your hair doing again’’ she said, noticing the patches of sandy blonde hair appearing. ‘’Your roots are showing’’ ‘’Oh’’ he reached up and combed his fingers through. ‘’Guess your right’’ ‘’You know I’ll do it for you if you want’’ she offered kindly, fluttering her eyelashes a little. ‘’If you want me to I mean’’ ‘’Yeah I would really appreciate that, I’m all fingers and thumbs with that stuff’’ he said looking down at her with a soft smile. ‘’Can I ask you something Daniel, something a little personal’’ ‘’I suppose’’ ‘’Do you remember when we left Hogwarts?’’ ‘’I remember it rather well, yes’’ ‘’Do you feel any different?’’ she asked sheepishly. ‘’Different’’ ‘’Yeah’’ she said sitting up. ‘’Do you feel like you’ve changed at all, since leaving?’’ He took a second to consider the question. ‘’Honestly, yeah I suppose I do’’ he agreed. ‘’I think we’ve all changed, considerably, since leaving. Not much has changed in the House rivalry but we’re breaking down barriers. I don’t see Tim and Draco going on any fishing trips but least we stopped the fist fights’’ ‘’I was afraid you’d say that’’ she sighed sadly. ‘’Only I don’t feel I’ve changed, even a little bit. I know the others have; Olivia’s not as sullen as she was and Neville’s a lot more confident since he and Luna started dating, even Draco has grown tolerable even polite when it suits him but I don’t feel different’’ ‘’Well there’s nothing about you I would want to change if that makes you feel better’’ he told her with a shy smile. ‘’Aww Daniel’’ she gushed. ‘’I’m actually rather happy Dumbledore’s ill’’ he said, wincing as he realised what he said. ‘’That sounds really bad doesn’t it? What I mean is I’m glad it meant we got to b friends’’ ‘’Me too Daniel’’ she said laying her head on his shoulder with a happy little yawn. ‘’I’m glad we could do this, I know it’s strange but it feels really easy to talk to you Hillary’’ ‘’It’s not strange’’ she objected closing her eyes for a second. ‘’It’s normal, we’re friends aren’t we, there’s nothing you can’t say to me’’ He nodded softly, knowing in his heart that’s as far as it went ‘’I guess your right… as always’’ he added ‘’You got that right boy-o’’ They settled back into the nice near silence after that watching the fire and waiting for the others to come home. Over time the flickering flames died out and it’s fading orange glow illuminated the pair who had unknowingly fallen asleep. . The next day was rather frosty, the stormy grey clouds were so thick they blocked out the cold winter sun leaving the open mountainside in depressing snow ridden darkness. After last night’s party, quite a few people were waking up in strange unexpected places in all varieties of conditions; including Hillary and Daniel. Hillary never found much fault in waking up usually but this morning she was surprisingly reluctant. She softly opened her emerald green eyes, and blinked in the dim light from a few smouldering ashes in the iron grate. Grumbling about falling asleep in the living room she tried to sit up but was surprised to find a pair of gangly arms wrapped around her waist; they were Daniels arms who was choosing to wake up at that exact time also. ‘’What happened’’ he mumbled sleepily, realising where his arms were and quickly removing them blushing madly. ‘’We must have fallen asleep or something’’ she yawned, trying not to think how comfortable she’d being. ‘’What time is it?’’ He pulled his sleeve back to check his watch. ‘’Just after eight; we must have slept all night’’ he thought aloud scratching at his neck and sheepishly grinning, unsure if it was something they could laugh off. ‘’Trust the others to leave us like that’’ ‘’Do you think they came back?’’ There was a loud animal like snore from above and they both looked up at the same time to see their mysterious wanderer, Solomon, sprawled out in the rafters where he called home. ‘’That answer your question?’’ Hillary chuckled. She stood up and stretched, there had being very little room to sprawl out on the couch and her body was a little stiff. ‘’Oh, sorry, morning breath’’ she apologised covering her mouth. ‘’Trust me I’ve woken up with worse’’ Daniel said without thinking. ‘’Oh, thanks’’ she said waspishly, arching an eyebrow. ‘’No I didn’t mean that’’ he said. ‘’What I meant was- actually I don’t know what I meant’’ ‘’I must look a fright’’ she worried, looking down at her crumpled dress and slightly askew hairstyle. ‘’Not possible’’ he argued. She gave him a gracious smile, it made up for the earlier comment. ‘’I should probably…’’ she indicated her bedroom door. ‘’Oh yeah, sure, me too’’ he mumbled. ‘’See you at breakfast?’’ she asked hopefully picking up her discarded shoes. ‘’I’ll be there’’ he promised. Soon as Hillary closed the bedroom door, she sat on her bed and sighed happily, a huge smile on her face and her heart bursting with unexplained joy. Daniel was in the dining room, wolfing down a bowl of cereal, when Tim walked in with a hairstyle that resembled most 1980’s Glam Rock stars. He scratched at an armpit and dropped in the chair at the head of the table. ‘’Mornin’’ he grunted sleepily sweeping his hand through his giant hair. ‘’Morning’’ Daniel replied apprehensively ‘’I hope you don’t mind but I took your bed last night, someone else was already sleeping in mine’’ Tim said looking up with a dull gaze. He wasn’t a morning person. ‘’Avie threatened to break my fingers if I woke you, I’m still not sure if she was serious or not’’ he mused. ‘’Nothing happened’’ Daniel said defensively. ‘’I never said anything did’’ Tim objected holding his hands up in mock surrender ending in a tremendous yawn. ‘’Yeah well…’’ Daniel shrugged sheepishly, stuffing another heaped spoonful of Owl O’s in his mouth. ‘’We missed you at the party’’ ‘’Yeah, well me and Hillary decided we didn’t really fancy going back so we came here’’ ‘’We’’ Tim muttered reaching for the orange juice. ‘’Hmmm interesting’’ ‘’What’s interesting?’’ Daniel questioned. ‘’Oh nothing, just talking to myself’’ he replied. ‘’Don’t forget we have an appointment with Cyrus; we have to get Luna back. No use in us all going so I thought you, me, Luna and Neville and the others can pack the stuff away, get an early start. We defiantly don’t want a platoon trampling up the mountain when it’s not necessary’’ ‘’And Hillary’’ Daniel added feeling the penetrating gaze from her giant friend. ‘’She asked… last night’’ ‘’Of course she did’’ Tim grinned, standing up. ‘’I’ll go call the troops into action than’’ He left Daniel to finish his breakfast and consider the force of his decision. After much deliberation and a few snippy comments from Draco who found the idea of staying behind and doing some manual work a little bit too strenuous for him, everyone was agreed. Hillary had made it late in to breakfast with Avonlea, apparently they had something else more important to talk about than listen to another of Tim’s boring wake up calls. There were a few giggles and sly glances at Daniel over the table. Iyana had spent the night at Fred’s temporary home in Charlie’s caravan and she was given an excuse having just celebrated a birthday an all, it wasn’t really all that fair. Saying their goodbyes the small team headed up into the mountains making their way up the invisible path, Luna assured them she could find the way to the secret lab this time without spending most the day walking in circles. After the long trek up the mountain, they stood shivering at the secret entrance waiting for the hydraulic doors to open up. Slowly descending into the mesh of rusted machinery there were the same random bursts of fire and steam as last time. Luna led the way through the labyrinth of metal tunnels to the heart of the mountain. Cyrus was sitting at one of his many worktables in the massive hall when they walked in. He was perched on the edge of his stool tinkering with a small silver contraption that buzzed and clicked erratically with flashes of icy blue light. He was unkempt as ever, with his burnt and patched lab coat and frazzled snowy white hair; like he’d being electrocuted once or twice. ‘’Uncle Cyrus’’ Luna shouted for his attention; reaching the bottom step of the winding staircase, she ran off without a thought of her friends. Cyrus looked up from his work; his bulging blue eyes magnified by the odd coloured lens goggles. ‘’Ugh hello Luna’’ he grunted as she threw her arms round his neck. ‘’Hello again Mr Lovegood’’ Neville waved a little glumly, he had made the trip up the mountain with a definite chip on his shoulder and his sluggish pace was even slower than usual. ‘’Neville, it’s nice to see you again’’ Cyrus nodded politely giving them all a warm smile. ‘’Thank you for bringing her back safely’’ ‘’Are you sure I have to leave Uncle?’’ Luna asked, knowing the answer but hoping otherwise. ‘’Couldn’t I have a little longer’’ ‘’I’m sorry Luna; your dad sent an owl yesterday afternoon but if we leave now we can get you back to school in time for pudding’’ ‘’So soon’’ Luna sighed sadly looking to Neville with her big luminous blue eyes. ‘’Sooner we leave sooner we reach our destination’’ Cyrus replied logically. He glanced between the sadly departing pair and sighed loudly. ‘’Though I have something to show Daniel first, so why don’t we leave you two alone for a while, to say goodbye properly’’ Neville smiled. ‘’Thank you Mr Lovegood’’ he took Luna’s hand stroking his thumb against hers. ‘’You must think we’re being pretty silly’’ ‘’Your young’’ Cyrus shrugged. ‘’Your allowed to be silly’’ The other three didn’t have any objections to leaving the pair alone and so they slipped away following Cyrus who was showing off his latest invention. ‘’You don’t think we’re being silly do you?’’ Luna asked once the others were out of earshot and they really were alone. ‘’Luna, I’d never think you were silly’’ Neville argued. ‘’Completely bonkers yes but never silly’’ ‘’You say the sweetest things’’ she kissed his grinning lips and melted into his embrace. ‘’It’s just so frustrating though’’ ‘’What’s that?’’ ‘’Everything’’ she complained erratically. ‘’Surely not’’ he teased playfully giving her a squeeze. ‘’Well maybe not everything,’’ she agreed resting her head on his chest. ‘’But having to leave you… again! I don’t want to go back to Hogwarts not if it means saying goodbye’’ ‘’I don’t want to either Luna but at least I know your safe at Hogwarts’’ ‘’It’s so boring’’ she pouted, stamping her tiny foot. Neville laughed and kissed her. ‘’Your so cute when you get angry’’ ‘’But its not fair Neville’’ she retorted. ‘’This isn’t how I planned things, you were supposed to be at school and we were supposed to be happy together not like this’’ ‘’I wish I was’’ he told her. ‘’You can’t believe how hard it’s being. I thought at one point you’d-‘’ he knew he’d said too much now. ‘’You thought what Neville?’’ She demanded softly, her curiosity flaring. He sighed cursing his big mouth. ‘’I thought… maybe you’d meet someone else’’ he muttered shamefully. It was the first time since their run in with Anneka that it had being mentioned but it was all Neville thought about. He explained to her the power of the hateful cow with the snake mask; how she had got at his heart and placed the image in his mind. He couldn’t look her in the eye when he told her about attacking Tim, seeing his face in the false image was too much even now when he knew it was untrue. This had being one of the things they had glossed over when they revealed the big truth on Christmas Day. ‘’Oh Neville’’ It was all Luna could think to say. She wasn’t angry or ashamed of him; maybe a little disappointed but mostly upset with the fact he could think that of her. ‘’I know!’’ he said sadly ‘’It’s stupid, I don’t believe you would do it but I still worry that you will if that makes sense’’ ‘’It doesn’t but I think I understand’’ ‘’I was scared’’ he said, unable to look at her any longer. ‘’Scared’’ ‘’I’m not exactly on Hogwarts heart throb list now am I? Your amazing Luna and I’ll always be afraid of losing you’’ he admitted quietly. ‘’Without you all I have is manure and shrubbery’’ ‘’You’ll always have me Neville’’ Luna promised leaning onto his back and hugging him from behind. ‘’You’re the only one who truly accepts me as me and your being really silly if you think id ever want anyone else when I have you.’’ He smiled a little and turned around, with a deeply worried expression. ‘’Really’’ ‘’I love you, you idiot, of course I mean it’’ ‘’But-‘’ ‘’Neville if you love me, you wont finish that sentence. I don’t want to talk about this again; you never have anything to worry about with me. As far as I’m, concerned you’re the only man for me’’ ‘’And you, me’’ he smiled embracing her in his large arms and kissing her. ‘’Oh to be young again’’ Cyrus sighed thoughtfully. He was playfully juggling the small silver contraption as they walked off, leaving Luna and Neville to say goodbye. ‘’You really care for Luna don’t you?’’ Hillary asked watching the strange man. ‘’She has a lot to say about you’’ ‘’Well she takes after her mother’’ Cyrus replied a little smugly. ‘’She was my assistant you know before she died’’ he sighed. ‘’Awful day, I owe everything to her, she was the true source of half my inventions’’ ‘’Luna doesn’t speak about her very much though’’ ‘’Wonderful woman, even Grolim never had a bad thing to say about her’’ Cyrus muttered wistfully stroking the silver contraption now. ‘’What is that Mr Lovegood’’ Tim asked curiously pointing at the contraption. It was about the size of a two pound coin only slightly fatter. ‘’Hmm’’ Cyrus mumbled staring at the large man with a blank stare. ‘’Oh this, my latest invention’’ he said proudly snapping out it. ‘’I call it Frost Fire’’ ‘’Frost Fire’’ ‘’Here let me show you’’ he boasted holding out the trinket in the centre of his palm, he pushed down on the smooth silver face and it exploded into a burst of blue flames. They jumped back in surprise and stared in horror as the roaring fire flickered and cracked around Cyrus’ hand without causing any pain. ‘’Cool isn’t it’’ Cyrus said wiggling his fingers. ‘’Touch it’’ Tim reached out and dipped his fingers into the flickering flames, waiting for the searing hot flames to burn him. ‘’It’s cold’’ he exclaimed. ‘’Its freezing cold’’ ‘’Hence the name, Frost Fire’’ Cyrus grinned. ‘’There’s a controlled explosion in the small capsule, all you do is give it a push down and there you have it a roaring fire for those hot summer nights’’ ‘That’s really weird’’ Tim laughed dipping his hand in and out the flames. ‘’Weird is my thing’’ Cyrus replied. ‘’Only problem is-‘’ the flames suddenly started to splutter and choke before dying out leaving Cyrus arm slightly red but otherwise unharmed. ‘’They don’t last to long’’ he concluded with a heavy sigh. ‘’Well it’s better than last time, back to drawing board I suppose’’ ‘’Don’t give up on it, it’s so cool’’ Tim begged. ‘’I love a roaring fire and it’s so much nicer to look at than a fan. Maybe you could issue them out in different colours’’ ‘’That’s a good idea’’ Cyrus mused giving the large man an admiring glance. ‘’I like the way you think, all the colours of the rainbow’’ Tim swelled with pride. ‘’I have being known for my thinking’’ Hillary cleared her throat loudly. ‘’Sorry to break up the brainstorm guys but I thought we were here to discuss Daniel’’ she said glancing at Daniel who hadn’t said anything for a long time. ‘’Oh yes sorry about that’’ Cyrus apologised. ‘’Sometimes I just get carried away. I have something for you, follow me’’ Daniel gave Hillary a gracious smile and followed the strange man, who was muttering about patterned fires for wallpaper designs. A slight giddiness fell over Hillary until she realised Tim was watching her. ‘’What are you looking at?’’ she demanded with rosy cheeks. ‘’Nothing’’ Tim shrugged with a smug grin. ‘’Just nice to see you smiling that’s all’’ ‘’Oh Come on’’ she grinned grabbing his arm and dragging him off. They reached the large white tiled room where they were first introduced to the metal body parts. It had the same metallic taste and smell as before and it was impossibly shiny. They saw somebody standing in the corner and when they got closer they saw it was a House-Elf only he was made of metal. It was the same device they saw Cyrus working on when they first met him. The worktable against the wall was cluttered with pieces of metal and all kinds of strange looking utensils but there was something even stranger- a human hand. ‘’What the hell is that thing’’ Hillary exclaimed staring in horror at the hand propped up on a stand beside a cold turkey sandwich. ‘’My lunch’’ Cyrus replied jumping onto a stool and taking a large bite from the damp looking sandwich. ‘’I think she was talking about the hand’’ Daniel said staring at the limb with a mixture of repulsion and fascination. ‘’This is what I wanted to show you’’ Cyrus mumbled with a mouth full of bread. He swallowed hard and dropped the sandwich on his papers. ‘’Yesterday you said something that got me thinking’’ ‘’Is that thing real’’ Hillary gasped. ‘’Of course not’’ Cyrus laughed. ‘’It’s a glove’’ he pulled at one of the fingers and ripped the flesh coloured glove off a model hand, it was so real looking it made Hillary a little nauseous. ‘’I know you had a few worries about the new hand; after all it’s quite noticeable. I came up with the idea of making a glove that is in everyway identical to a real hand. So here you go’’ Daniel stared at the gift he was being handed and gasped as he felt what it was made off. ‘’It’s like real skin’’ ‘’It’s a super sensitive polymorphic adhesive material or SPAM for short. I had all the information I needed from the tests we performed and the theory was there I just had to put it into practice. The only people who will know about it will be you and your friends, you wont ever have to worry about looking different’’ Daniel couldn’t believe what he was hearing, he could feel tears welling up in his eyes and he was slightly ashamed of himself for being so emotional but he was lost for words. Cyrus hardly knew him and he’d already given him some highly expensive technology for free and to top it all over solved his fears. He didn’t know what he could do or say. ‘’Daniel’’ Hillary said quietly beside him. ‘’You ok?’’ ‘’Yeah’’ he sniffed to hide his emotions. ‘’It’s great I don’t know how I can thank you Cyrus’’ Daniel said to the strange man. ‘’This is amazing’’ ‘’Put it on than’’ Cyrus urged, he was grinning wildly; this was the real reason he was a scientist, to change the world. ‘’I hope it fits ok, you’re a medium I notice’’ Daniel laughed and slipped the glove over his dull brass hand, it was strangely exactly like putting a glove on and he was aware of it at first but than it just kind of melted into the hardware. He couldn’t quite believe his eyes, it looked so real. ‘’It’s like there was never an accident’’ Hillary mumbled with wide eyes. ‘’You took the words right out of my mouth’’ Daniel said admiring his hand, of course he knew it wasn’t entirely real and it never would be but it was a huge benefit to having people point and stare.. ‘’Do the nails grow as well’’ Tim laughed. ‘’That would be seriously cool if you could do that.’’ Cyrus shook his head chuckling. ‘’I’m good but I’m not that good’’ ‘’It doesn’t matter, its perfect. Thank you Cyrus’’ Daniel replied holding out his hand, he never shook hands with his left before but this was rather a special occasion. Cyrus took the offered hand and smiled, admiring his work and the effect it had on Daniel. ‘’You take good care of it, its not real skin so it wont heal. I don’t recommend using it everyday or it will wear out’’ ‘’I understand that’’ Daniel assured him. ‘’Just special occasions right?’’ Cyrus laughed. ‘’Something like that’’ ‘’It looks really good Daniel’’ Hillary told him. ‘’Really suits you’’ Daniel smiled and took her hand, making her jump. ‘’What’s it feel like?’’ ‘’It feels… warm’’ she replied apprehensively, she wouldn’t tell him this of course but she preferred it before the glove, before he hid who he was. ‘’Daniel wasn’t there something you wanted to ask Cyrus’’ she reminded him, changing the subject away from her feelings. ‘’Your right’’ he said remembering the blue light last night, he removed the glove which was awfully strange and put it in his pocket. ‘’Cyrus, I think there’s a problem with the hand, last night it started glowing’’ ‘’I don’t understand?’’ ‘’It happened at Iyana’s party last night, I was arguing with somebody and I ended up punching him and the hand it was glowing a bright blue, like someone had flicked a switch or something. Was it supposed to do that’’ ‘’I don’t think so’’ Cyrus mused scratching at his unshaven chin. ‘’Glowing you say?’’ ‘’Yeah bright blue’’ Daniel expressed. ‘’It stopped after about 10 minutes or so but it was defiantly glowing’’ ‘’And you say it started after you punched someone, not that I approve of fist fights’’ he added sternly. ‘’Well… when I think about it maybe it was before; only by a few seconds and it wasn’t a fist fight, there were extenuating circumstances’’ he declared looking to his side where Hillary was watching him intently. ‘’What were you thinking about at the time?’’ Cyrus asked taking Daniels hand and laying it flat on the table. He took a strange looking silver stick, with a corkscrew in the centre, from his coat pocket and tapped each finger in turn. ‘’I don’t know. I was angry and upset I guess, I mostly just wanted to rip the jerks head off’’ Daniel replied, getting angry just thinking about last night. ‘’We wouldn’t have blamed you’’ Tim muttered. All of a sudden the finger Cyrus had prodded flashed the same nimbus blue light as last night and Daniel pulled his hand back in surprise. ‘’Did you see that!’’ Daniel exclaimed flexing his fingers. ‘’Just as I thought’’ Cyrus mused tapping the utensil against his forehead with a slightly smug grin. ‘’It’s nothing to be worried about Daniel’’ ‘’What was it?’’ ‘’Isn’t it obvious?’’ Cyrus asked but only got blank looks in reply. ‘’It’s you’’ ‘’You lost me completely now’’ ‘’It you’’ he repeated. ‘’That is to say, it’s you in the sense of the magical you. Let me explain’’ ‘’Please do’’ Tim mumbled sweeping a hand through his hair. ‘’It’s a theory I came up with when I was at Hogwarts. I’m Pureblood but my parents were a little isolated, I never knew Muggleborn’s even existed. I wondered how they could have magical ability and yet not have any magical blood’’ ‘’We’re Muggleborn’s’’ Tim replied indicating himself and Hillary. ‘’Well I have an aunt whose a Witch’’ Hillary added if it should mean anything. ‘’Than you’ll know first hand’’ Cyrus perked up. ‘’When your magical abilities appeared for the first time, what were you doing?’’ ‘’With me it was my little brother’’ Hillary smiled. ‘’He’s a wizard too, I was 7 and he was 3. He was throwing his toys around the room and his teddy bear hit me in the back of the head. I remember it hurt because he would store things he liked inside; stones, buttons and pennies and things. There was this loud bang and my brother was thrown across the room and landed in the middle of the sofa. He was begging me to do it again but I didn’t know how I did it’’ she laughed but the laughter soon turned to tears and she started sobbing into her hands and Daniel wrapped his arm around her. ‘’Hillary’’ Tim said with concern. ‘’I’m sorry’’ she wept. ‘’I just didn’t realise I missed him this much’’ she said taking a tissue from the box Cyrus was offering. ‘’It will be ok’’ Daniel reassured her. ‘’I’m sure he’s feeling the same right now and blubbering into Kyle’s shoulder’’ She chuckled a little and dabbed at her eyes. ‘’Thank you Daniel’’ ‘’No problem’’ he winked giving her a small squeeze and giving Cyrus a nod, to continue his theory. ‘’Well that was exactly what my theory entails. Though I’m yet to discover how Muggleborn’s come into their Magical ability, I have discovered that magic is spurred by our emotions. I put this theory into practice and it led to many of my current creations including Daniels hand and my little friend over there’’ he pointed to the robotic House-Elf standing in the corner. ‘’I still don’t quite understand?’’ Tim admitted, thankfully he wasn’t the only one. ‘’When we get angry or upset, these are our strongest emotions next to love because they’re the most dramatic. They have quite the effect on our magical ability, our hormones clash with out magical genetic structure you see?’’ ‘’I suppose’’ ‘’I used the same metal your hand and the House Elf is made off to make a huge tanker. It’s incredibly strong when you put strain to it but light as air otherwise. It makes it a lot more durable. It’s really scientific so I won’t go too far into it but I managed to create the same clash of magical energy and a substitute for hormones. That is what powers your hand Daniel. When I attached it to you, your magic was combined with the hands core’’ ‘’So last night, when I got angry, that’s why it was glowing. It was the core’’ Daniel summed up. ‘’Bingo’’ ‘’How did you do it’’ ‘’Oh that’s a long story for another time’’ Cyrus brushed off, standing up and stretching. ‘’Perhaps the next time we meet, I’ll tell you’’ ‘’I’d appreciate that’’ Daniel said. ‘’Thank you Cyrus, its being… interesting’’ ‘’Well we best break up the love doves before I have to use a crowbar to peel them apart’’ Cyrus chuckled leading them out into the huge lab. They passed by a huge tanker with a few dials flickering. Daniel noticed when he got close, his hand gave a sort of jolt towards it. ‘’What is that Cyrus?’’ he had his suspicions. ‘’That Daniel, is the tanker I just told you about’’ he replied, checking the dial and nodding. ‘’It’s full of concentrated magic, like your hand’’ ‘’I think he wants to go home’’ Daniel smiled showing him the slight pull his hand made towards the tanker. Cyrus laughed and they continued on their way. Neville and Luna were entangled in each others arms, sharing a rather intimate moment. Cyrus never the less cleared his throat and the pair pulled apart, blushing bright red at being caught. ‘’Oh sorry uncle, I was just saying goodbye’’ ‘’So I noticed’’ Cyrus said with a forced disapproving parental look. ‘’We have to go Luna, I’m sorry but fathers orders an all that’’ She sighed and leaned into Neville’s arm. ‘’I know uncle, I don’t blame you’’ ‘’You’ll see him again’’ ‘’Of course she will’’ Neville said. ‘’I’m not going anywhere’’ Neville carried Luna’s bags as they walked hand in hand. Cyrus was leading them down a vacant corridor and through a door into a small hanger similar to his brothers. It opened out to a large metal wall that rose up as they entered. It led out onto a small balcony like runway. There was a smaller version of the ‘Golden Nargle’ waiting for them; suitably sized for two people to fly within, Luna and Cyrus. The runway jutted out to the mountain wall where a huge narrow crack was the exit. An icy wind whistled through, blowing at Neville’s scarf as he carried the bags over. ‘’Your going home in that’’ Tim registered with some sympathy. ‘’You couldn’t pay me to fly with you Lovegood’s’’ Luna giggled. ‘’Your such a softy Timmy’’ He blushed and she swung her arms around his neck. ‘’Please take care of Neville’’ she whispered in his ear, quiet enough for no one else to hear. ‘’I don’t want to hurt him anymore’’ ‘’He’s in good hands’’ Tim replied, returning the hug. ‘’He’s being like a new man and we have you to thank for that’’ She smiled and realised him, giving hugs to Daniel and Hillary and saying goodbye. Cyrus was strapped into the cockpit humming along to the radio that was playing some Romanian girl band. Neville helped her up when she was finished and handed her bags, slotting them behind the leather chair as she put on her seat belt. ‘’Are you going to be ok’’ she asked Neville who was being rather quiet. ‘’No’’ he replied honestly. ‘’Are you?’’ She smiled softly and shook her head. ‘’I’ll miss you’’ ‘’It won’t be long’’ he promised. ‘’We have a lead on Nathanial and we’ll be back to school by next week you watch’’ ‘’I wish I had your faith’’ she sighed, stroking his cheek which was rough and stubbly. ‘’Are you growing a beard?’’ ‘’I was thinking about it?’’ he smiled sheepishly. ‘’Manly you know?’’ She giggled. ‘’I like it, it tickles when you kiss me’’ Cyrus’ humming grew louder feeling very uncomfortable. ‘’I’ll be in touch’’ Neville promised. ‘’I’ll send you a letter when we reach the next town ok, tell you how things are going’’ ‘’Neville is that really safe’’ Tim disapproved awkwardly. ‘’It will be ok’’ Neville argued. ‘’I know what I’m doing’’ Tim stepped back, they could argue about it later. ‘’Luna we really need to be going, or we’ll be fighting against the wind’’ Cyrus interrupted. ‘’Sorry Neville’’ ‘’He’s right, you’ll never leave at this rate’’ Neville sighed. Luna frowned and bit her lip, battling with her own consciousness. ‘’There’s something I need to tell you Neville’’ she started. ‘’I love you too’’ Neville replied. ‘’We don’t need to say anything else’’ ‘’But-‘’ ‘’Luna it’s easier this way, I’ll be in touch’’ She wanted to object but Neville had closed the doors and Cyrus had locked them in. She watched with tears staining her frosted cheeks as Neville walked back to his friends and the engine started up. Tim put an arm around his best friend’s shoulders and they watched in silence as the black steel wings started up, beating at the air. Neville refused to look away, but watched until she was no longer in sight. Numbly he was led back into the warmth of the lab. They were mildly surprised to see Grolim leaning on the doorway, he had his hands in his pocket and as usual he was scowling. His long hooked nose and thinning greasy hair made him look like a shorter, better looking version of Professor Snape Tim thought, keeping his opinion of the Goblin to himself. Grolim was staring out at the closing shutters, where Luna and his partner had just flown off. There was a rather sombre look to his scowl however. Daniel was asking him a question but Grolim either wasn’t listening or he was purposely being ignorant. ‘’Just forget him Daniel, we’ll find our own way out’’ Tim said in irritation. ‘’It can’t be that hard’’ ‘’Its like a maze Timmy’’ Hillary argued. ‘’He only has to point us in the right direction’’ Grolim sighed and blinked, turning his attention to the green eyed Gryffindor. ‘’Follow me’’ he growled and turning around he led the way down the corridor. Slightly bemused by the sudden obedience the four of them followed, in silence, until they reached the heart of the lab which was the huge centre of the hall. It was Grolim who broke the said silence. ‘’Where do you go next?’’ he asked Hillary in an offhand tone. ‘’Oh err’’ Hillary faltered. ‘’I don’t know’’ ‘’None of us do yet, we’ll probably stay at the Sanctuary a bit longer’’ Tim replied giving Hillary a hard stare that spoke volumes; he didn’t like Grolim and the less people who knew about them the better. Grolim grunted. ‘’You’re good friends with Miss Luna?’’ Tim wasn’t sure if it was an accusation but it felt like it. ‘’I like her’’ And the Goblin went quiet again. Tim frowned and turned to Hillary and Daniel who were walking behind him. ‘Weird’ he mouthed. Hillary shrugged and gave him a small smile. ‘’Goblins’’ she whispered so not to give offence. Daniel nodded in agreement; he was more interested in his hand which he was inspecting as they walked. They reached the winding staircase but Grolim walked straight past. ‘’Aren’t we going up here?’’ Neville asked aloud, he thought Grolim was leading them out and they always came in this way. ‘’I know a quicker way out’’ Grolim said indicating his nose to a corridor that seemed different to all the others. It wasn’t like the others in the sense it didn’t have huge iron pipes and steam issuing from it. In fact it had nothing, it was just a roughly dug out tunnel in the rock. ‘’I thought there was only one way in and out’’ Daniel challenged. ‘’The lift’’ ‘’That’s the service Elevator’’ Grolim replied. ‘’There’s an entrance that opens up at the bottom of the mountain, it will save you the walk’’ ‘’Than why didn’t Cyrus tell us about it’’ Tim mused. ‘’He could have saved us a lot of time and effort but he didn’t say a word’’ ‘’Nor did Luna’’ Neville added. ‘’She didn’t know about it and Cyrus doesn’t like it, he prefers to use his own technology, he’s vain like that’’ ‘’Luna told me she spends all her time here, how could she not know about it’’ Neville objected, something didn’t make sense here. ‘’You can stand here and argue all day if you so wish Human, but I have work to do, now if you wish for a way out follow me’’ Grolim hissed, his nostrils flaring dangerously. ‘’Now that’s sounds more like Grolim’’ Tim muttered to Hillary. They gave up and followed the Goblin down the tunnel. There was a lantern hanging from a low hook and Grolim picked it off, its dull orange glow revealed their path. The walls were steel grey and chiselled not by machine but hand, the rough chippings proved this. The floor was dusty and the few cobwebs revealed this tunnel hadn’t being used in some time. The deeper they ventured the colder it got, they supposed all that working machinery kept the place pretty toasty but must run up Cyrus’s utility bills. More tunnels led off at the sides but Grolim kept straight, it was odd but Neville swore he was walking up hill and that just didn’t make sense. ‘’Are we nearly there Grolim?’’ Tim asked making shadow puppets against the wall to pass the time. Grolim didn’t reply. ‘’I’ll take that as a no’’ Finally they reached a huge iron door at the end of the tunnel and Grolim stopped. ‘’There’s a path that will take you were you need to go’’ he said indicating the door. They stopped and looked up at the huge iron door; it was circular and looked thick enough to withstand a nuclear strike. There was an iron wheel in the centre, like in a submarine, that they would need to turn to get through. ‘’Think you can handle that Tim’’ Neville asked, the door looked pretty heavy and the only reason they asked was Tim recently started having bursts of titanic strength. ‘’Piece if cake’’ the arrogant Gryffindor grinned taking hold of the wheel with a firm grasp and twisting, the metal ground against metal as he turned the wheel with little resistance, he mildly noticed the ring he was wearing had a dull light glowing in the stone, less conspicuous than shining like a golden idiot. ‘’Couple more turns’’ he muttered over his shoulder. Hillary was staring at the door, something about it unnerved her, she couldn’t understand why but it made her blood go cold just to look at it. Maybe it was the fact it was so perfect, there wasn’t any sign of rust, no dent or kink in the metal. It was perfect… Grolim was standing back in the shadows, his eyes were hard as flints and burrowing into the back of Tim’s head, waiting on baited breath the Goblin was brimming with suppressed hunger. It was a look Hillary had seen before and she realised in horror why she was so afraid of the door. ‘’TIMMY STOP’’ she shrieked barging past Daniel and throwing herself at her friend but it was too late. There was a definite click and the door swung outwards with such a force it threw the pair into the wall. A humourless laugh sounded from the other side of the door and Hillary screamed. Charlie was suffering from his over exertion of alcohol last night. His head felt like a brass band was sadistically assaulting him with their instrument and his stomach was doing so many flips he felt like he was hosting a Pancake tossing competition in his gut. He was bent over his desk in agony, groaning into the paper work. Fate was there also, she was humming, which to Charlie sounded more like a car engine roaring in his ear. Her footsteps as loud as elephants stamped over to his desk and placed a tall glass of water next to his head. She dropped something inside and there was a surge of bubbles and it started to smoke gently. ‘’Lift your head up’’ she ordered unkindly, she wasn’t going to pamper and prune him. She warned him about this last night and if he was too fat headed to listen it was his own fault. ‘’Come on I haven’t got all day’’ Charlie moaned and slowly lifted his head reaching for the glass. His skin was a pasty white and his bloodshot eyes had trouble focussing on the broad but beautiful young woman. ‘’Be nice to me’’ he slurred. ‘’I’m not very well’’ ‘’You’re hung-over’’ she argued pushing the glass closer. ‘’Drink that, you’ll feel better’’ ‘’What is it?’’ ‘’Drink it!’’ He grumbled something unpleasant under his breath and took the glass, closing his eyes and holding his nose he gulped the concoction down. His eyes bulged and he coughed and gagged, spluttering as he gasped for breath. ‘’You must really hate me’’ he wheezed holding onto his head and rocking gently. ‘’Tastes like something Fred and George made up’’ ‘’Actually it’s my mothers secret recipe’’ Fate replied taking the glass back. ‘’My dad doesn’t know when to stop either’’ ‘’I’m honoured’’ he muttered pulling a face at the aftertaste. ‘’Like Salamander droppings’’ ‘’Perhaps I put too much in’’ she mused ‘’Your joking!’’ Charlie exclaimed, unsure if she was or not but she wasn’t giving anything away if she did. Politely ignoring him she shuffled his papers round and tidied his desk. ‘’Are you going to be ok?’’ she asked showing some signs of compassion. ‘’I’ll survive’’ he replied sitting up and watching her; he was feeling a little better but was it worth it. He glanced over to the corner of his tiny office where there was a large suitcase standing against his filing cabinet. ‘’I could leave a little later’’ she said as she lined up his ink pots. ‘’If you need me to take care of you’’ ‘’As lovely as that sounds, and believe me it does, your father will be waiting for you. Best not keep him here more than he needs to’’ She nodded solemnly and zipped up her leather jacket. ‘’If your sure’’ ‘’Yeah, I am’’ he muttered. It was easier this way, like ripping off a Band-Aid, you do it quickly as possible, less painful that way. She was chewing on her tongue as she took hold of her suitcase handle and wheeled it to the door. ‘’Well I guess this is goodbye’’ ‘’I guess so’’ ‘’Are you going to see me off?’’ It took every ounce of her femininity to ask that. Charlie wasn’t even looking at her; he was busying himself with an invoice on Dragon Sleep Tonic. ‘’I have a lot of work to do Fate, if it’s all the same we can probably say goodbye now’’ ‘’Oh’’ ‘’You know your always welcome to return’’ he said dipping his quill in the ink pot. ‘’I hope your happy working with your dad though, he’s an accomplished man’’ ‘’Yeah well, thanks for everything Charlie’’ she said with a slight catch ‘’Your a real pal’’ He didn’t reply, he was scribbling down numbers on a scrap of paper. ‘’See you round’’ ‘’Hmmm’’ The door slammed shut, with slightly more force than was needed and Charlie stopped writing. He stared at his figures and sighed, 10 minutes later, the brass band were taking a break and his stomach was more a flop than a flip so he stood up and decided to go for a walk to clear his head. He noticed he wasn’t the only one suffering from the exploits of last night and many of his friends and colleagues were stumbling along through the snow going about their day. He decided to check in on his visitors, they were due to leave as well. When he neared the large round tent, it was Olivia who spotted him and called him over. ‘’Morning Charlie’’ Olivia greeted happily ‘’How you feeling?’’ ‘’Bit rough’’ he grunted, shoving his hands into his pockets. ‘’Fate gave me something to drink, feeling a lot better than I woke up’’ ‘’The last thing you need is another drink’’ she chided him. ‘’No it was a remedy’’ he said. ‘’It was her mothers cure to hangovers’’ ‘’Well it must be doing you good. Your colours coming back’’ she noticed. ‘’Isn’t she moving today’’ ‘’Yeah’’ he muttered, finding interest in his finger nails. ‘’She’s a nice woman isn’t she’’ ‘’She’s a good friend if that’s what you mean’’ he shrugged indifferently looking over the small blonde girls shoulder. ‘’Where’s everyone else?’’ ‘’Oh Tim, Hillary, Daniel and Neville are taking Luna to her uncle Cyrus she’s going home as well. The others are inside making sure we have everything for the trip. ‘’Seems like everyone can’t wait to get out of here’’ he said, only half joking. ‘’Oh you don’t really think that do you?’’ ‘’Course not’’ he shrugged. It off as the door opened and the others came trampling out. ‘’Morning all’’ ‘’Merlin’s beard, we thought you’d be held up in bed all day’’ Avonlea said slightly surprised to see him. ‘’What was it a miracle healer specialising in alcohol poisoning’’ She wasn’t one for the drink herself and Charlie defiantly stepped over the mark last night. ‘’No it was Fate’’ Olivia replied. ‘’She gave him the cure apparently’’ ‘’Oh wouldn’t mind a bit of bedside treatment from her’’ Draco sniggered giving Charlie a wink. Charlie ground his teeth but remained silent. Avonlea was less courteous. ‘’You’ll be treating a fat lip in a minute Malfoy’’ she snapped. ‘’Can we get this tent down before it snows again?’’ ‘’I’ll give you a hand’’ Charlie offered. Together they managed to take down the tent and pack it away into the ordinary looking duffel bag. It was strenuous work, mainly due to the packed snow biting at their bare skin. ‘’It will be a shame to see you go’’ Charlie panted, wiping at his sweaty brow. ‘’Do you know where you go from here?’’ ‘’Not really’’ Olivia replied. ‘’The only lead we got is the house in Germany’’ ‘’Well I’m sorry we couldn’t have being more help in your search, I’ll keep a eye out for anything that might crop up in the records’’ ‘’Thank you Charlie’’ Solomon suddenly started acting strange; he was looking up into the sky, his eyes flickering. ‘’What’s the matter Solomon’’ Elia asked her boisterous little friend. ‘’What do you hear?’’ He grinned wickedly and pointed up into the sky where a small black dot was streaming through the snow clouds heading west. ‘’Solomon see Luna in black bird’’ ‘’Black bird’’ Charlie repeated with a frown. ‘’That’s what it looks like’’ Elia explained it best, she was staring up into the clouds, trying to make it out. ‘’I think he’s right you know, it looks smaller though’’ ‘’That’s because it’s very far away’’ Draco said in mocking tone. Elia shot him a dirty look that spoke volumes and he noticeably flinched and found interest in emptying his pockets. Charlie smiled at Elia and gave her a wink, which she shamefully blushed too. They heard giggling behind them and turned around to see Iyana walking up with Fred draped over, whispering Merlin knows what into her ear, what ever it was it making her giggle like a schoolgirl. George was somewhat hanging back, looking bored. ‘’Here’s the happy couple’’ Elia greeted the pair with a twinkle in her eye. ‘’Lets see it again’’ Iyana sighed theatrically and held out her hand where a beautiful ring was shining in the pale sun. ‘’It’s so beautiful’’ Elia whispered, slightly envious of her friend. ‘’I can’t believe your getting married’’ ‘’We’re engaged’’ Iyana argued. ‘’We wont be doing the deed just yet’’ ‘’Are you ok with that Fred?’’ Elia asked. ‘’What ever my woman wants, she can have’’ Fred replied curling his arms around her waist. ‘’Oh you’ll wish you never said that’’ Iyana warned him, kissing his smirk and leaning into his embrace. ‘’What about you George, got your sights set on a making an honest woman of anyone’’ Avonlea asked with a raised eyebrow. ‘’After all don’t twins do things together’’ ‘’I prefer the dishonourable kind’’ George replied giving her sly wink. ‘’Much more exciting’’ She giggled, overly exerting her femininity as she fluttered her eyelashes at the tall twin. ‘’We just saw Luna leaving’’ Olivia interjected, rolling her eyes at the pair. ‘’She was flying in the Golden Nargle so the others should be back soon and we can leave’’ ‘’Oh that’s what I wanted to speak to you all about’’ Iyana said. ‘’Where’s everyone else gone’’ ‘’Up in the mountains, they escorted Luna’’ Olivia replied casting a curious look over the pair. She had an idea what this was about. ‘’Well I have some news’’ ‘’Your not pregnant are you?’’ Draco asked though no sooner had the words come out his mouth than 4 very angry women were glaring at him. ‘’I most certainly am not!’’ Iyana snapped. ‘’I don’t look it do I’’ she worried looking down at her coat. ‘’Of course you don’t’’ Avonlea said, smacking Draco across the back of the head. ‘‘Ignore him’’ ‘’I only said it because they’re getting married’’ Draco muttered rubbing his head. ‘’Anyway’’ Elia pushed on, for Iyana sake more than anyone. ‘’What’s the news’’ ‘’Fred’s joining us’’ Iyana replied. ‘’He’s going to help us find Nathanial’s place’’ ‘’Whoa, just wait a minute’’ Olivia objected. ‘’Fred don’t get me wrong, you know I’d love for you to join us but have you thought this all through?’’ ‘’I agree with Olivia’’ Avonlea said. ‘’It’s dangerous’’ ‘’Exactly the reason why I’m going’’ Fred said. ‘’I already had all this from Iyana last night. When I put that ring on her finger I made an oath to look out for her and hell to anyone who wants to get in my way. I’m coming with you, besides I might just be of some help’’ ‘’I don’t know about this’’ Olivia argued. ‘’What about space, where’s he going to sleep? Not in our room!’’ She wasn’t ok with sharing a room with a boy, unless he had black hair, glasses and lightening bolt scar. ‘’He can bunk up with the boys; we’ll build some bunk beds. We should have thought about it before, Timmy’s being sleeping on that sofa for over two months it’s just not fair on him’’ ‘’Don’t I have a say on this’’ Draco piped up. ‘’No’’ Avonlea said pushing him out the conversation. ‘’I suppose it’s an idea, what about you George are you joining us?’’ ‘’Depends you think you can squeeze me in’’ the twin replied with a devilish smirk. ‘’Oh I’m sure I could find someplace or another’’ she flirted outrageously. ‘’Now I’m definitely got a problem with this’’ Draco said throwing himself in. ‘’Fred is one thing but no way in hell am I having the whole damn Weasley clan. I mean what are we a refuge centre?’’ Fred, George and Charlie stood taller and made a show of cracking knuckles and flexing muscles. ‘’What did you call us?’’ Charlie demanded; he’d being waiting for a chance to knock the blonde pinhead out since that crack about Fate. ‘’Lets see how cocky he is when after a colossal wedgie?’’ George suggested pushing back his sleeves and reaching out for Draco. ‘’Alright that’s enough!’’ Elia jumped in, Solomon was snarling at her feet. ‘’We get it your men! Your full of testosterone now can we please discuss this like civilized people, I mean jeez you might as well club each other with sticks!’’ ‘’Yeah I agree. Draco shut up’’ Avonlea said taking his arm and pulling him back. ‘Not even you can take on three men’’ ‘’Freddie, you can forget this whole arrangement if you don’t sort your brothers out’’ Iyana agreed, folding her arms in front of her chest. ‘’One more crack about the Weasley’s and I’ll feed him to Cyanea’s hatchlings’’ Charlie warned. ‘’There wont be’’ Elia promised laying a hand on Solomon’s shoulder and silencing his threatening snarl. ‘’Now can we talk, like adults?’’ ‘’George won’t be coming’’ Fred explained calmly. ‘’We’ve made arrangements, he’s going to take care of the shop while I’m away and he has the unfortunate task of telling mum where I’ve gone’’ ‘’Yeah thanks again for that’’ George glowered. ‘’Nothing I like better than being yelled at until my ears fall off’’ ‘’I owe you one’’ Fred thanked his brother, truly meaning it. ‘’So he’s coming’’ Draco muttered, a stern look from Avonlea stopped him from adding to the comment. ‘’I guess, he has to’’ Olivia sighed. ‘’Welcome to the team Fred’’ Fred grinned wildly and kissed Iyana. ‘’I promise I wont be any bother’’ ‘’Great’’ Draco cursed. ‘’Say something Draco?’’ Elia asked in a perfectly polite tone, but her hand was resting on Solomon’s shoulder. ‘’Nothing’’ ‘’Than it’s all sorted’’ Elia agreed. ‘’Fred’s coming with us, Draco said nothing and soon as Timmy gets back we’re all leaving’’ All of a sudden they heard Charlie’s name being screamed from down the road and turned to see Fate struggling through the snow. She wasn’t alone, there was a man right behind her who with ease scooped her out the snow and carried her through; leaving elephant sized footprints. He was huge, 10 feet tall at least with rust red hair and the twinkling baby blue eyes of a seven year old. He was dressed in an odd assortment of furs tied together with leather thongs and a leather waistcoat with furred hood and collar. His bulging muscular arms were bare, hairy and blue with cold. ‘’Fate! What happened?’’ Charlie demanded; hurrying to her aid as the man put her back on her own feet. She was swaying drunkenly and Charlie just managed to catch her as she crumbled into his arms. ‘’Is she ill? What’s happening to her?’’ She was as pale as the snow, her dark red brown hair was tangled and wispy in the icy wind and her brow was shining with sweat. She was having difficulty in breathing and her eyes wouldn’t entirely focus, she was clinging to him with such need that he found himself cradling her like a child. ‘’Who are you’’ Elia demanded of the giant man, the last time she saw a man that big he was dragging her into a cell and electrocuting her with a car battery. ‘’The names Barak’’ the man replied in a deep booming voice that made her ears ring. ‘’I’m Fate’s father, but that doesn’t matter right now! She has a message for you all and you’d be wise to listen’’ he warned. Seeing as he was supposed to be her father, he didn’t seem very concerned about her current health. ‘’What’s wrong with her?’’ Charlie demanded, peeling off his coat and wrapping it around her. ‘’She’s shaking like a leaf’’ ‘’It will pass’’ Barak replied, kneeling down and holding his huge hand to her forehead. ‘’Fate’’ Her eyes snapped open and they were shocked to find they were a milky white and devoid of all emotion or sense. They stared blankly at Charlie and he could feel her touch on his heart; it sent a cold chill down the back of his spine. Her mouth opened and the voice that emerged was not her own but so old and rippling with magic it made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. ‘’Take haste children’’ the voice ordered, speaking to them all, but staring still at Charlie ‘’Thy brethren have need of you; the shadows have shown their faces and if you would see them live you must not tarry’’ ‘’Whose in danger?’’ Elia asked, standing next to Charlie. ‘’Fate what’s going on?’’ ‘’There is no Fate’’ the voice hissed, turning to Elia, it really spooked her. ‘’There is no time for questions. Already the hour is late! Take forth into the ice and stone, aback thy enemy’s kinsmen before they succeed in their task’’ ‘’I don’t understand what your saying’’ Elia protested. ‘’This doesn’t make sense’’ Than Fate’s hand snapped around her wrist and she felt the same cold touch on her heart that Charlie felt. ‘’Your time will come when nothing will make sense my child, your task is nearer than you believe. Have faith for you will not be alone’’ she whispered the warning with a clear and precise nature but Elia didn’t make any sense of it but had a feeling the time would come, she wasn’t suppose to know just yet. All of a sudden Fate was screaming and writhing about in Charlie arms as she struggled, the screaming was neither Fate nor the mysterious ancient voice but Hillary’s. It was drowned out by a mans laughter and than Fate just went limp and her eyes closed, who ever or what ever was speaking through her had let go. ‘’We need to get into the mountains’’ Elia started clenching her wand and pulling Solomon off her leg, soon as he heard that laugh he had thrown himself at her but there wasn’t time for that. ‘’They found us! Don’t ask me how but they found us and they have Hillary’’ She turned to Avonlea to verify, if anyone recognise that laughter she would. Avonlea was ashen faced and covering her mouth as tears streamed down her cheeks but she nodded, it was true. ‘’Oh Hillary’’ ‘’Who was that speaking?’’ Charlie demanded of Barak. ‘’What’s wrong with her?’’ ‘’Nothing’’ Barak replied testily and he removed her from the demanding Weasley though he was very stubborn about letting her go. ‘’She’ll be ok but you need to hurry, you heard her, your friends are in great danger’’ he reminded Elia. ‘’How are we going to get into the mountains before its too late’’ Draco asked the obvious, laying a comforting arm around Avonlea who was too upset to discourage him but felt herself breakdown into his so thought cold perverted arms but found them warm and whole. ‘’I may be able to help you’’ Barak offered, brushing the hair out his daughters face, she was murmuring softly. ‘’But I don’t think you’ll like it’’ ‘’If it gets us to the mountains and out of here I don’t give a Gryphon’s beak’’ Elia snapped. She couldn’t explain it but she felt immediate trust for this giant, maybe it was his baby blue eyes or his size but she felt a familiarity that made her feel safe and protected, which was weird because he absolutely terrified at her the same time. How do you plan on getting us up there’’ The giant grinned and placed his fingers to his lips, letting out a shrill whistle that put her teeth on edge and echoed through the compound. The reply was not what they were expecting. The laughter from the abyss was joined by another; only this time it was deep and dull, a simpleton laugh mimicking his superior. Out of the shadows of the perfectly round doorway two men stepped forth, draped in the purple velvet robes of their satanic cult. Their hoods were drawn but the orange glare from the lamp flickered across their cruel faces. ‘’Isn’t this a turn for the books’’ said Archibald pushing back his hood. ‘’You saved us the trouble of coming and getting you, my poor feet do thank you so’’ They were more repulsed than ever at the sight of the boastful dwarf. He still had the same thick rimmed glasses and wispy auburn hair but his face was savagely disfigured by deep angry cuts crisscrossing his cheeks; they were an angry red and almost seemed to glow in the lamp light. Bartimeus was standing behind him in all his glory, with rippling muscles bulging against the purple fabric. His dull vacant eyes were starring at Tim, who had jumped to his feet and thrown himself in front of his friends. His eyes were burning; it wasn’t a reflection of the lamp but literally burning with bright orange flames ‘’You’’ Daniel snarled, clenching his fists. ‘’Me’’ Archibald grinned mockingly. ‘’I must say I’m surprised to see you in such good health’’ he said, registering Daniels two hands and Tim being up and about after their last meeting. Daniel started forwards drawing his wand but Tim threw out his arm, catching him in the chest and knocking him back. ‘’Don’t do anything stupid’’ he snapped turning on his friend. ‘’Do you want to get us all killed?’’ Daniel was about to reply but Hillary took his hand and silenced him. ‘’Wait’’ she hissed in his ear and Tim gave her a curt nod before turning back to their enemy. ‘’It doesn’t take a genius to guess how you found us’’ Tim said speaking to Archibald but looking down Grolim. ’How could you do this? To Cyrus of all people, after everything he’s done for you’’ ‘’Cyrus served his uses’’ Grolim shrugged. ‘’I allowed him and Miss Luna to leave, to live but my master had need of me and it would be rude not to comply’’ ‘’And whose your master?’’ Tim asked. Archibald stepped forward. ‘’Guilty’’ ‘’So all this time, you’ve being his puppet’’ ‘’And he will be greatly rewarded for his loyalty in the coming days’’ Archibald interrupted. ‘’Thank you my lord’’ Grolim bowed. Archibald inclined his head in reply and turned to his friend. ‘’Bartimeus, be a dear and remove any weapons they might be holding’’ The hulking giant man flexed his powerful muscles and bore down on Neville, roughly removing him of his wand. ‘’Don’t struggle!’’ Tim ordered of his best friend. ‘’Do as they say. We don’t want anyone getting hurt’’ ‘’Wise move’’ Archibald complimented. ‘’What are you going to do with us?’’ Tim asked in a stony tone as Bartimeus handed the wands over to his stumpy partner. ‘’Well that all depends on you’’ Archibald replied. ‘’If your willing to return what you stole, we might be lenient enough to let the girls live, we could do with the entertainment and I’m sure Thaddeus would find much enjoyment with their presence’’ ‘’Go to hell’’ Hillary spat. ‘’I’d rather die’’ ‘’Don’t be so quick to speak, my dear’’ ‘’What exactly do you think we stole from you?’’ Tim asked, he was generally surprised by these turn of events and wanted as much information as they could get. . ‘’Don’t play coy with me’’ Archibald said in a deadly whisper, his face blanching of all emotion. ‘’You know exactly what you stole and the power it holds’’ ‘’I honestly have no idea what your talking about’’ Tim replied honestly. ‘’Where’s the beast? Where are there others? There should be others’’ Archibald demanded of Grolim, suddenly releasing they were a few short. Grolim stumbled back into the wall as Archibald charged on him. ‘’Only these four came’’ Grolim replied. Quick as a flash Bartimeus’ huge meaty hand was wrapped around the goblin throat, tightening and cutting of his air. The goblins feet kicked out underneath him, his eyes bulging and tongue lolling. ‘’You were told to have them all here, especially the mongrel’’ Archibald sighed, shaking his head in disappointment. Grolim spluttered and gagged as he tried to speak but they couldn’t understand him. ‘’Let him speak’’ Archibald ordered. Bartimeus grunted and released his hand a little but kept the Goblin held against the wall. Grolim greedily took deep ragged breaths; he wasn’t looking so sure of himself now. ‘’I-I can take you to… the others’’ he panted fearfully. ‘’They’re in a nearby village my Lord, I can take you there.’’ Archibald sighed again and looked up at Bartimeus who was waiting for his orders. ‘’Let him go! He might still be of some use’’ Bartimeus grunted and released Grolim, who dropped to the ground and scrambled as far away from the giant as he could, rubbing at his throat and cowling in the shadows. ‘’Why are you after Solomon? What did he ever do to you?’’ Tim demanded testily, he knew they were running out of time now. ‘’You actually named it?!’’ ‘’He’s our friend’’ Tim replied hotly. ‘’Truly pathetic’’ Archibald spat. ‘’You have no idea what you possess boy. You’re even more stupid than my friend over there’’ he said indicating Bartimeus who clenched his jaw but remained silent. ‘’The only pathetic ones round here are you!’’ ‘’I’ve had enough of this’’ Archibald declared. ‘’We have no need of you and quite frankly your beginning to bore me. Kill them, but keep the girl, I might still find a use for her’’ Bartimeus lurched forward but Tim was too quick for him ducking down he threw himself forwards and grabbed Bartimeus round the middle, slamming him into the wall. ‘’Now Daniel’’ Hillary whispered in his ear. Daniel nodded and swung his arms round; using his metal fist like a hammer he slammed it right into the side of an unsuspecting Archibald’s head. The stumpy little man was thrown into the door, dropping their wands in the confusion. Neville snatched them from the floor and they made a run for it. Grolim jumped out to stop them but Hillary kicked him in the stomach and like his master crumpled into a heap on the floor. ‘’GET THEM YOU IDIOT!’’ Archibald screeched struggling to get back up. ‘’KILL THEM NOW!’’ There was a thunderous roar and Bartimeus gave chase, frothing at the mouth and snarling like an animal; he lumbered out of his daze and was hot on their heels. ‘’We have to get out of here’’ Neville yelled, blasting curses over his shoulder but they just bounced off the raging giant exploding against the rocky walls. ‘’We need to warn the others’’ ‘’Just run!’’ Tim snapped grabbing his friends’ shoulders and propelling him forwards. ‘’Your not doing the blind bit of difference’’ ‘’It’s better than doing nothing’’ Daniel argued. ‘’I’ve dealt with him before’’ Tim rebutted. ‘’When we get to the lab you let me deal with him’’ Hillary opened her mouth to object but the steely look on her friends face silenced her and they ran on. Neville and Daniel continued to fire curses over their shoulders and Tim carried the rear urging his friends on and goading Bartimeus. They saw the exit lay right ahead, they could make it; they just needed to get out into the open. ‘’Blow the entrance’’ Daniel suggested as they entered the lab. ‘’It wont stop them but it will slow them down’’ Soon as Tim got through Hillary, Neville and Daniel aimed and the rock face above exploded; burying the tunnel under huge boulders as big as cars. They could hear the cries of anguish behind it as Bartimeus tried to break through. ‘’What do we do now?’’ Hillary panted, trying to get her breath back. ‘’You run’’ Tim replied, clutching at a stitch in his side, there was a wild fury in his eyes that scared them. ‘’I’ll be able to give you enough time to escape, soon as you get outside Apparate to the tent. Tell the others to get out of here and warn Charlie. Just run and don’t look back’’ ‘’What are you going do?’’ Daniel demanded incredulously. ‘’We’re not leaving you behind, look what happened last time’’ ‘’He’s right Timmy. If Elia didn’t go back you’d be dead! I won’t leave you, not this time’’ ‘’I’m a Werewolf’’ Tim snapped. ‘’He’s a werewolf, he’s the reason I’m a werewolf; there fore he’s my problem’’ ‘’They outnumber you! As strong as you think you are Tim, you can’t take on all three but together we outnumber them’’ Neville pointed out logically. ‘’He’s right. We can do this. We’re not leaving you and that’s that’’ Daniel concluded. ‘’And you call me stubborn’’ Tim sighed at their grim determination They all smiled for a second, savouring the moment. All of a sudden, the rock fall exploded with a white hot inferno that threw them backwards. It didn’t take long for the fire to start; they were so many chemicals and flammable materials to burn. The orange flame licked at the bare rock walls, chocking the air in a thick black smoke that burned in their lungs. Coughing and spluttering Tim was trying to cover his mouth, the acidic smoke stung his eyes, making them water. He was so immersed in his swearing his didn’t hear the thunderous charge behind him. Like a raging bull, Bartimeus stormed out of the cloying smoke, his bald head was shiny with perspiration; his eyes were burning as were hulking great arms. Grabbing Tim by the scruff of his jacket he was picked up and slammed repeatedly into the nearest counter. The words tumbling from the giant’s mouth were, more a series of garish snarls than words but they were gleeful all the same. After he had laid the wooden counter to splinters he let him go. ‘’That the best you got’’ Tim cringed rolling onto his side and receiving a vicious kick in the ribs. ‘’You talk too much’’ Bartimeus spat putting his boot down his neck and cutting off his windpipe. GET OFF HIM’’ Neville yelled running forwards, picking up a stool and slamming it over his shiny head. It was little more than an annoyance for Bartimeus but it gave Tim a chance to wiggle free, gasping for air and getting back on his feet. ‘’I told you he’s my problem’’ he shouted at Neville holding on his chest, he thought he’d broken a rib or two. ‘’Oh so I’ll leave you to suffocate next time than’’ Neville retorted angrily. ‘’Get out of here!’’ ‘’No’’ Before he could argue further Bartimeus charged into Tim and they started wailing into each other. They were a flurry of punches and kicks, trying to cause as much damage as possible. Neville watched with a sick worry as his friend was hit continuously. Magic wouldn’t make a difference but a club to the head might. Scanning the wreckage for a suitable weapon he picked up a sturdy plank of splintered wood and jumped into the battle, wielding his plank and swinging it like a baseball bat against the giant’s fat head. Out of the shadows creeping like the traitor he was Grolim was clutching a long sharp needle like implement with the intentions of causing a great deal of pain. The crude grin on his wrinkled little face, glowering in the firelight gave him a crazed look as he drew closer to Neville’s back. Tim, managing to get a lucky punch in and knocking Bartimeus huge head to one side for a minute saw the Goblin’s intentions. ‘’Neville look out!’’ Neville spun round on his heels, narrowly missing the desperate thrust Grolim had thrown at him. The needle stabbed nothing but empty air, inches away from Neville’s gut. Neville sighed with relief and gripping firmly to his makeshift club he threw it back and slammed the butt of his weapon into Grolim’s face knocking some sense into the thick sculled schemer. Grolim staggered back, his nose broken and bleeding, thick black blood washed the snarling Goblins face as he glowered at the larger man. Shrieking wildly he charged and stabbed. Neville managed to parry the attacks with the club, dodging and weaving the quick little jabs that Grolim threw at him. ‘’DIE HUMAN’’ Grolim shrieked and he succeeded, his long sharp needle cutting through the air, racked across Neville arm and he dropped the stout club in surprise. Grinning delightfully, Grolim laughed as he stabbed and waved the tiny sword. Neville was quick though; he jumped to the side and ran, not out of cowardice but desperation. He was looking for something he could use as a weapon and his gaze was drawn to something in the corner of his eye. Resting against a stack of boxes was the squashed oval shaped board Cyrus had shown them when they met him for the first time. Its 3 foot long body rather similar looking to a surfboard, it was forest green in colour and just what he needed to get away. ‘’Sky boarding’’ he muttered under his breath, remembering the invention. There was an angry snarl behind him and he turned to see Grolim struggling to get through the overturned stools. Neville snatched the board up and threw it flat on the floor. Jumping on, the black metal clamps sprang round his ankles locking him in place. With one quick glance over his shoulder he saw Grolim had managed to get through and he was charging down on him. Without need of instructions Neville willed the board to go and he shot off the floor and into the air. It was an extraordinary feeling; the air whistled in his ear and unlike the broom he didn’t fall off or panic but a rich surprising confidence filled his heart. It was a little wobbly at first but squaring his feet he managed to gain control. It was very reliable turning at the slightest command he gained full control in seconds. It was lucky the ceilings were so high. Looking down from his vantage point he saw the hulking forms of Tim and Bartimeus locked in battle. Daniel, Hillary and Archibald were nowhere to be seen. He was looking for a way out, the metal winding staircase was on fire as where most of the walls, hot orange flames licked at rock with small eruptions and spurts of flame; they were trapped. Neville heard it more than saw it, there was a deep angry grunt below him which gave him just enough time to throw himself to the side as Grolim shot up like a rocket riding a similar board only his was black. The goblin doubled back and flew down intent on killing him. Neville kicked out with his mind and flew off with the Goblin right on his tail. He tried to shake him off making sharp turns and flips that would make him an ace chaser if it where on broom but the Goblin was stubborn. Cursing under his breath Neville dived down and flew low, trying to find something that might slow his persistent follower. There was a wooden shelving unit with various coloured liquids in glass decanters. One such bottle caught his eyes, it was half full of a semi-glowing liquid the colour of fresh mown grass and the label read. ‘Quick Grow Lawn Solution – For that lush green meadow in seconds simply add measured amount to water and douse desired area’ The skull and crossed wands at the bottom of the label was tempting him. Grolim was so close now he could smell him, on impulse Neville grabbed the glass decanter from the shelf and threw it over his shoulder. It hit the goblin full in the face, smashing on impact and dousing him and most of the worktops in the green formula. Grolim caught by surprise lost control and dropped, crashing into the wooden worktable. Dazed and confused he stared down at his green soaked overalls in horror. ‘’What have you done!’’ he screeched pointing a wavering finger at Neville who was hovering nearby. His frightened eyes rolled back and he started to convulse uncontrollably, his arms flying out wide, his head flipping back and with his mouth wide open. Neville watched in sick marvel as a lush green lawn suddenly sprouted out of the Goblins mouth, like a wave it washed over the stoat body and across the stone floor, over the tables and stools; anything that had so much as a drop of the liquid on it was suddenly sprouting knee high grass. When it was finished Neville stared in absolute amazement, the worktops and stools, now completely covered had created a kind of meadow with odd shaped hillocks that rose and fell uncontrollably. There was no sign of Grolim but in the centre of the meadow there was a small hill that had an almost humanoid shape. He felt sick in his stomach, blinking in absolute astonishment at what had happened. A howl of rage brought him out of his daydream and he remembered Tim. Casting the goblin and the potion to the back of his mind he kicked out shot off. Daniels head was spinning as got up, the thick black smoke filling his nostrils and mouth, cloying his senses. He had being thrown into the large glass cabinet, broken glass cut at his hands as he struggled back his feet; wincing and cursing he picked the larger pieces out and scanned the area. He couldn’t see anyone else but heard someone fighting off to his right in the distance. ‘’HILLARY’’ There was no answer. The fear welled up in the pit of his stomach, making him sick with worry. ‘’Hillary where are you?’’ he repeated more urgently. ‘’Daniel’’ ‘’Hillary’’ he exclaimed, overjoyed to hear her voice. ‘’Where are you?’’ ‘’Daniel, help me’’ she cried out, sobbing uncontrollably. ‘’Please’ ‘’Where are you? Keep talking I’m coming’’ The smoke shimmered out the corner of his eye and he noticed a shadow slip by. Curiosity spiked he stepped out to investigate, keeping his head down and trying to wave away the smoke, the glass cracked underfoot as walked out. The heat was unimaginable, the crackling fire was nice to look at but this was too much. Keeping his wand low he pulled up the front of his jacket and covered his mouth. ‘’Hillary talk to me!’’ ‘’I’m over here’’ she cried somewhere far of to his right. ‘’Daniel hurry’’ she suddenly started screaming. Spinning on his heel, no thought to his own safety he ran into the burning smoke and towards her voice dodging the various overturned tables and stools. The floor was strewed with broken equipment and inventions which he leapt over almost breaking his ankle in doing so. His heart was beating so hard in his chest he thought it would explode. He found her not far from the tunnel but she wasn’t alone. She had hit her head pretty hard on the floor because there was a large cut just above her left eyebrow. Archibald was standing behind her with his thin bony arm wrapped round her throat, the other had her arm pinned behind her back. It looked like he was trying to drag her into the tunnel, but she was putting up a struggle. ‘’GET OFF HER’’ Daniel roared aiming his wand but not firing, he might hit Hillary. Archibald hissed with annoyance. ‘’Take one step boy and I’ll break her neck’’ he threatened, tightening his grip. Hillary cried out in pain and stopped struggling but sobbed in terror, begging Daniel to help her. ‘’NO’’ Daniel gasped his hand dropping a little. ‘’Don’t hurt her’’ ‘’Drop the wand!’’ Daniel’s hand wavered uncertainly but Hillary gave a little cry of pain as Archibald twisted her hand. ‘’Ok! Ok! I’ll drop it’’ he threw the wand to the floor and held up his hands to show he was unarmed. ‘’Now let her go’’ ‘’Don’t be absurd’’ Archibald snapped dragging her back Daniel took a step forward in anger but stopped himself from charging. ‘’Please I beg you don’t take her’’ ‘’Daniel help me’’ Hillary begged, great big tears slipping down her ashen cheeks. ‘’Please Daniel’’ ‘’It will be ok’’ Daniel assured her. ‘’I promise, I’m going to get you out of here. Everything will be ok. I’ll protect you’’ Archibald laughed, an ugly twisted smile made his scars burn hideously in the firelight. For a moment Daniel thought he saw something, just for a second he saw the true Archibald, the face that haunted the nightmare world. Hillary had also seen it, she screamed and struggled but Archibald was stronger than he looked, with little resistance he cut of her wind pipe and her screams were silence; her emerald green eyes bugging out their sockets as she was suffocated. ‘’HILLARY NO’’ Daniel screamed. ‘’Please’’ he begged Archibald, tears running freely. ‘’Please don’t, I beg of you’’ Considering his options, Archibald smiled wickedly and took his time, savouring the fear and desperation in the young mans eyes, feeding of his heartbreak and taking his fill. Her eyes rolled back and she slumped in his arms. ‘’Please your killing her’’ Daniel wept, his eyes widened in fear. ‘’No’’ he whispered with a dead weight in his stomach, she can’t be. Archibald wasn’t looking so sure of himself this time, he shook the seemingly dead girl but she didn’t reply. Glancing at Daniel, there was a sudden spark of fear in his eyes. She wasn’t moving at all, he’d gone too far. ‘’You killed her’’ Daniel said in a dull emotionless tone, he wasn’t weeping anymore his once sky blue eyes were cold and dead. ‘’You killed her!’’ he repeated taking a step forward and curling his fists. ‘’Don’t come any closer’’ Archibald warned, letting go of Hillary and letting her fall in a heap on the stone floor. He drew his wand but Daniel continued his slow determined pace and his left hand was burning only this time it wasn’t a nimbus blue light but a thick oily black darkness that bubbled and spat like hot tar. ‘’Take one more step and I’ll-‘’ ‘’YOU KILLED HER’’ Daniel roared, ignoring his empty threat. ‘’I’LL KILL YOU!’’ Archibald snarled and shot a curse at Daniels feet but the young man didn’t even flinch. ‘’I warned you’’ The small man said, taking a nervous step back with each of Daniels. His piggy eyes glancing nervously at the body sprawled at his feet and over his shoulder at the tunnel. ‘’She’s dead because of you’’ Daniel had reached Hillary now and the accusation stung him with a cold dread of what he said was true. Kneeling down beside her lifeless body, he reached FOR her hand; it was as cold as ice. The realisation filled his broken heart and he wept with anguish. Lifting her up into his arms and holding her to his chest he wept uncontrollably. Archibald was creeping backwards, lapping up the scene like a dog. He took one last look of the distraught young man weeping and a cruel smile lifted his thin lips. He raised his wand and aimed with a dead accuracy. ‘’Tell her I said hello when you meet her’’ he told Daniel, the killing curse on the edge of his tongue. Daniel raised his tear stained face his cold dead eyes burning with loathsome hate. Without even knowing why or how he lifted his left hand, its putrid frothing shadow that covered it suddenly flared and a bolt of blinding white lightning shot from his fingertips, crackling through the smoke filled air. Archibald’s eyes widened in a sudden surprise as the bolt hit him squarely in the chest with a thunderclap that could rend the earth apart. Archibald was flung like a rag doll, down into the fiery inferno raging from the tunnel and as far away as Daniels magic would permit. Tim and Bartimeus, both sporting bloody noses, cut lips and various over ailments were circling one another. There wasn’t a hint of humanity in the huge giant’s eyes, only burning rage. Tim’s jacket was smouldering, blackened and burnt where Bartimeus had grabbed him with those ignited ham sized fists of his but the young man didn’t give it a blind bit of notice, ignoring the sharp pangs in his chest he kept his gaze level with Bartimeus. The man was an animal and 4 years of Care of Magical Creatures lessons with Hagrid taught him never take your eyes of a wild animal, keep a strong level gaze, never show fear and never let your guard down. Bartimeus was smiling, his huge melon sized head made it hard to show emotions but Tim could see the flickers of happiness in the animalistic nature. ‘’There’s no escape’’ Bartimeus rasped. ‘’Your friends are all dead!’’ Tim kept his guard up, he knew what he was trying to do, tempt him into doing something stupid but for once his mind was clear. He wasn’t paying much attention to himself but there was a faint golden glow about him and the ring’s stone was like a star. Bartimeus growled and swung wildly but Tim dipped and the sparse attack flew over his head. ‘’Give up your not going to win’’ ‘’We’ll see about that’’ Tim muttered, cracking his knuckles. Bartimeus snarled and picked up a counter that had being bolted into the floor and threw it like a toddler would throw his toys. It narrowly missed Tim’s head but he kept his gaze level. Suddenly they heard Daniels voice over the small explosions and crackling fire. ‘’YOU KILLED HER’’ Like a blow to the chest Tim gasped, the golden light flickered and died instantly. ‘’Hillary’’ Tim whispered, her name falling off his dead lips. ‘’No, please god no’’ ‘’I’LL KILL YOU’’ That’s when Bartimeus struck catching Tim under the chin and smashing into the wall. Not giving him a second to recoup, Bartimeus was drawing the fire around him into one final attack that would obliterate his opponent. All of a sudden there was a shout of alarm behind Bartimeus and Neville appeared shooting out of the thick smoke like an angel, his jaw set and eyes as hard as flints. He was going so fast there was no way he would be able to stop in time. ‘’NEVILLE NO’’ Tim screamed but it was too late. Like a rocket the moonfaced young man charged down in defiance. He had spent most of his childhood being bullied and teased, to feel like nothing more than the dirt he so commonly had his hands in but no more. Without any thought to his own life Neville charged on. There was a horrible sick crunching sound as the board hit Bartimeus in the chest, the force sent both man and board hurtling through the air and crashing into a huge bronze vat full of concentrated magic that exploded on contact. In was the most terrible sound, there was a second where everything was silent and the light was divine, a holy white flash that would mean the end of days. It was so powerful that for a second they had a fraction of an idea what the apocalypse would seem like. Than the sound rushed in on itself with a thunderous roar and the flash subsided. There was nothing left but a huge blackened crater and gaping hole in the side of the mountain.
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