Anna Grayson and The Dragon's Lair

The Screams of Verosapt

ONE

“Watch out, Anna!”

Anna ducked as the heat of another spell raced over her head. She looked over at Gabriel who was hiding behind another large stone across the sand-filled pit.

“Thanks,” Anna yelped back. “That was close!”

“We’re not acting very well as a team and the Defenders outnumber us four to three.”

Anna’s eyes widened. “Who’d we lose?”

“Baird! Debbie Dunning took him out with a freezing spell. Our right flank is now exposed and I saw your brother moving over to fill the gap. Be on the look out.”

Anna nodded and then peeked around the stone concealing her. The dueling hall was crackling from the energy of several spells shot by the two opposing teams facing off against one another. What started out an equal number of Defenders and Guardians in the fight now saw the protectors of magic two combatants down, and the Defenders quickly moving in to take advantage.

Anna ducked again as two move spells crashed against the stone hiding her. She looked over to Gabriel.

“We can’t stay here much longer. They’re gonna rush us any second.”

Gabriel peeked around her rock and fired a spell and then ducked back as four more hexes raced over her head from the other side.

“I’m open to any suggestions.”

Anna smiled. “You’re the Guardian Knight — aren’t you supposed to have a plan?” Anna quickly jerked up. “Impedimenta!” She ducked back down as something red streaked back across the pit in response.

“Yeah… well… you’re the little speed-demon on the sand,” Gabriel yelled back. “I’d gladly cover any boldness you have left.”

“Where’s Gwen? Is she still out there by herself?” Anna yelled back, ducking again as the rubble from another hexed blasted over her head.

“Yeah — to your left and a row up; she won’t last much longer out there.”

Anna peeked around the other side of her boulder and saw Gwen huddled low behind another rock. She was being blasted from three different directions.

“I’m going out to help her,” Anna bellowed.

Gabriel ducked again. “I’ll cover you.” She nodded the signal – one, two, three!

Anna stood, fired another spell, and then took off toward Gwen. She halted suddenly as two flashes of red streaked their way straight through her path. She could see her brother Damon from the corner of her eye turning to fire at her.

“Petrificus Totalus!” Damon screamed, and Anna took two more steps before diving behind Gwen’s rock.

Impedimenta Scumbag!” Gwen answered back, firing her own spell at Damon who was already out of sight.

“Hello, friend,” Gwen chimed, wincing hard as another spell smashed into the rock hiding them. “What took you so long?”

“Sorry about that. I thought Baird had your back.”

Gwen scoffed. “The idiot went down in the first minute.”

Anna winced as another hex hit the other side of the rock. “Things are looking kind of bleak here.”

“Yeah — but I’m gonna get Debbie Dunning before it’s over. You mark my words; she’s going down.”

Anna smiled as she looked around them. “That’s my girl. Any idea where Debbie the Dork might be?”

Gwen peeked around the corner again. “Yeah… she’s on your side, two rows back, but I don’t know how we’re gonna get to her with your stupid brother trying to murder us. I can’t believe he’s helping Dunning.”

Anna smirked. “If it were any other Grayson but me he’d probably shoot her in the back.”

They both ducked again as a barrage of hexes suddenly crashed above them.

“Goodness!” Gwen yelled. “They’re trying to kill us.”

Anna looked at her. “No — that was three distinct spells coming from three different directions.

Gwen’s eyes widened. “Somebody’s on the move!”

Anna nodded and then grabbed hold of Gwen as three more spells hit their rock. “They must be getting close. Get ready!” Anna placed a hand on the stone and listened carefully for the voices of magic coaching her again.

“Yep… somebody’s coming,” she said. “They’re close! NOW!”

Anna stood and immediately fired, “Petrificus… to… Artus!” A streak of light smashed into the chest of the Defender boy rushing their position. The boy collapsed into the sand and the crowd watching from the bleachers cheered madly. Anna ducked back down next to Gwen.

“Did you get’em?” Gwen yelled.

“Yeah, Durkin’s out of it.”

“Stephan?!” Gwen looked scandalized. “You didn’t! Is he hurt?” Gwen tired to stand.

“Get down, you dope!” Another blast just missed Gwen as Anna pulled her back down.

“But he might be injured.”

“It was just a freezing spell, he’ll be fine!”

“But he can’t move and he’s out there all alone.”

Anna ducked down as another blast hit the stone again. “Since when do you care about Durkin? I thought the two of you we on the outs.”

“We are…but he’s still the best looking boy in his year.”

“Great shot, Anna,” Gabriel yelled as she ran forward to a new position behind a rock ten feet away. “You got him point blank!”

“Point blank?” Gwen glared at Anna. “How could you?”

“Will you please get your head in the game before…?”

BOOM!

Another blast hit the stone just above Anna’s head. She glowered up at Gwen. “…before we’re all face down in the sand!”

‘Yeah — yeah, I hear you.” Gwen suddenly pulled Anna forward. “WATCH OUT!” A blast of ash burned Anna’s foot.

“OUCH!”

“Are you all right?”

“No! I’m not all right! Who the hell was that?”

“Damon! He’s behind that rock over there. We can’t stay here any longer.”

“Fall back!” Gabriel yelled. “Get out of there, you two!”

“We gotta go, Annie-G. Can you run?”

“Don’t wait for me. My foot is numb, but I’ll make it. Let’s get out of here!”

The two girls jumped to their feet and ran toward another boulder behind them. Within two steps, however, Anna was struck in the back by a bolt of white light. Her arms and legs were immediately pulled together and her body toppled into the sand face first. She could hear the crowd cheer again and Gwen’s far off voice screaming.

“Where’s Anna? Where’d she go?”

Gabriel was yelling back. “She’s down. Stay where you are. The Defenders are rushing us. Watch out!”

There were more blasts, and then Anna felt somebody standing over her. She could hear a familiar voice yelling above her.

“Move right, Damon. To your right! They’re in the back corner now. Pin them down to cover Winston’s approach and we’ll take the last two out.”

Anna’s blood was boiling with rage. She knew that voice very well. She could feel her body, stiff as a board, being pushed over onto its back. Debbie Dunning was hiding next to the boulder staring down at her.

“Hello, Grayson,” Debbie sneered. “You having fun yet?” Anna could only watch as Debbie pointed her wand into her face and then leaned over her to push Anna’s upper lip up. “Hmmm… no fangs yet,” she sneered. “Whelp, I’ve got to go and do my part to wipe out the rest of your Guardian friends.” She quickly stood and then stepped on Anna’s stomach as she took off. The crowd began to cheer again as Anna struggled to breathe.

“HALT!” Professor Bots bellowed. “Wands away!”

Their Dueling instructor whipped out his wand, there was a loud crack, and Anna immediately found herself free to move again. She rolled over onto her side and pulled her knees up in an effort to take in more air.

“Anna! What’s the matter?” Gwen yelled, rolling Anna over.

“I’m all right. Just… give me a second. Debbie gave me a kick in the gut is all.”

“She got Gabriel too, the little winch.” The other three Guardians came over sit next to Gwen and Anna in the sand

“Not a very strong showing, team,” Gabriel observed, as she looked up at the crowd cheering for the Defenders who were high-fiving each other in triumph.

“Very good — everybody,” Bots said brightly. “Another winning mark and twenty points to the Defender Union.”

“Help me up,” Anna said, holding out a hand to Gwen who pulled her friend to her feet. “I’m really started to hate this place. That’s the third time in a row we’ve had our wands handed to us. What am I missing here?”

“I thought we did a little better this time,” said the fifth-year boy named John Baird. “We lasted three full minutes longer than last week.”

Gabriel looked at John and smirked. “If that’s what you call doing better, I’ll be a tenth year before we win a battle.”

TWO

As Anna entered her Care of Magical Creatures class, she immediately saw Eric motioning her to the side. She hesitated. She was still angry with her brother for his part in helping Dumbledore, but the concern on her brother’s face was obvious. Something was wrong.

“What’s the matter?” Anna said, worriedly.

Eric looked around cautiously. “Are we okay? I haven’t seen you since our meeting with father.”

Anna couldn’t hide her lingering disappointment. “Yeah… I guess we’re all right.”

“Anna, I wouldn’t have gone along with what they were doing if lives weren’t at stake, but…” her brother hesitated, “looking back, I guess I knew it was wrong. I should have been more considerate of the position they were putting you in.”

Anna’s stony facade melted away instantly. “I understand why you did it. In fact, I’m still not completely sure I can say no. I haven’t decided yet.”

Eric frowned. “Listen… I know it’s your decision to make but, given time to think about it more, I would advise that you not to help them.”

Anna was surprised. “But you were the one who told them about the scope.

“I know, I know, but I’ve had some time to think about it since seeing your reaction to the request. Although it might seem logical to tell them where Voldemort is hiding, we have to ask ourselves if doing so would make us responsible for any deaths that might come out of that confrontation. Just because they know where Voldemort’s is hiding doesn’t mean he’ll be easy to capture, and several people might be killed in the attempt, including our father.”

Anna’s eyes widened. “I… never thought of that.”

“We can’t assume our allowing these magical objects to be used in any way will shorten this conflict or make it less difficult. In fact, the whole premise for the Guardian’s existence tells me it most likely would not. It might just as well have the opposite effect we expect. And let’s not forget… using these objects could very well lead to them being destroyed, which is what we’re trying to avoid in the first place.”

Anna thought about it and then reached out to hug her brother. “Thank you for trying to understand what I was feeling and for making my decision easier.”

“So…am I forgiven?”

She smiled and then hugged him again.

“Good. Then I’ll send an owl to father explaining why you won’t be helping Dumbledore.”

Anna pushed back. “Tell him the Guardians won’t be helping them.”

Eric grinned and then nodded. “I have something else I need to tell you. I’m afraid I have some bad news.”

“What is it?”

“It’s about the dragon I was keeping for you.”

Anna frowned. “Taurus? What’s the matter? What’s happened to him?”

“I’m afraid he’s escaped.”

“Escaped? But… how, where?”

“He burrowed his way through the wall and into the next apartment. My neighbor had an open window and, judging by what’s left of the sash, I’m pretty sure he escaped there.”

“You mean… he’s gone?”

“I’m afraid so.” Eric tried to sound upbeat. “He’s a very good climber, so there’s a chance he might stay close to the apartment for a while, but…”

“But… what?”

Eric shrugged. “Anna… I think he can fly.”

“What? You mean… already? Is… that even possible?”

“According to my research, the timing is about right. I never actually saw him do more than jump and flap around the room, but apparently it’s very common for his breed to leave the nest quickly after gaining that confidence.”

Anna fell back against the wall looking dejected.

“I’m sorry, Anna,” Eric said consolingly. “It was just… well, you know, it was his time to fledge.”

Anna looked at her brother woefully. “Yeah, I guess so. I just wish I could have been there to see it happen.”

“That’s why I wanted to tell as soon as possible. There’s still a chance you might see him. According to that new book you bought for me on my birthday, it’s rather common for a fledgling to hang around the nest and its mother for a few more weeks. He might even try and seek you out at some point in time.”

Anna’s face immediately brightened. “Me?”

“That’s right. Intentional or not, I believe this dragon has imprinted on you as its caretaker, you or… maybe Hobbs. He might try and find you, so be on the lookout whenever you’re outside. And if you do see him, try to get him to come to you. With all the dragon hysteria in the city, I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody tried to hex him if he’s seen out in the open.”

The bell rang signifying the start of class and Anna took her seat. She looked over at the empty chair next to her and frowned. Looking to her other side, she saw Tanya Joe trying to stuff an enormous book bag under her seat.

“Hey, TJ. You seen Sarah today?”

TJ looked over to the empty chair and shrugged. “Nope. She’s gonna miss class again. She sick or somethin’?”

“I don’t think so, but she’s been acting really strange lately. I really don’t see her that much anymore. She comes in late after I’m asleep and then she’s usually up and gone before I get up.”

“What’s she been doin’? You know she missed a Potions class last week too.”

“Really? I don’t have Potions with her this year. I didn’t know.”

A poke in the back gave Anna a start. A boy from the Laborer’s Union was pointing Anna’s attention to the front where her brother was staring back at her.

“Anna… I asked you if you knew where Sarah Bell was today?”

Anna shook her head worriedly. “Um… no, I don’t. Sorry.”

“All right then; we’ll have to carry on without her. Make sure she gets a copy of your notes. She’s going to need them, because we’re starting our discussions today on level three creatures.”

THREE

Over the next few days, Anna made an effort to find out what Sarah Bell was doing in the morning and in the evenings before she went to bed. When she noticed her roommate wasn’t heading in the right direction for her classes, Anna followed her across the drawbridge where she obverted Sarah walking aimlessly up and down the city streets and alleyways. When Anna spoke to her, she was generally cordial, but oddly indifferent about the things going on within the castle. At first, Anna thought there might be something wrong at home, but when she pressed Sarah more on the subject, she would deny there was anything troubling her. Anna could plainly see this wasn’t true, but she couldn’t get her friend to talk about the problem.

Stranger than Sarah missing classes to walk about the city, there were enormous swings in her mood and temper. Then there were days when nobody could remember seeing her at all, followed by periods of normalcy where Sarah seemed her happy self; quiet and gentle, very sweet and interactive. Then, after a time, she would disappear once more and became distant and unapproachable.

Anna’s curiosity about Sarah’s problems was becoming provisional, as she began to fixate on the question she would be allowed to ask the Verosapt on her fourteenth birthday. Night after night, Anna dreamed about the old gorilla and where he might be living in the wizarding world. Despite Sarah’s obvious troubles and her building concerns for her ally, Anna continually found herself wondering if the voice of the hoard really existed at all. Perhaps the creature was just an image brought to life by the magic within the scope, a complex representation of the hoard that see. After considering all she knew, Anna decided the great ape probably did exist and was probably living in some mountainous area in the deepest part of Africa. She wondered if any previous Keepers of the scope had thought to seek him out.

The day before her birthday found Anna was extremely anxious. Leola Grayson was still lost, imprisoned somewhere on Grayson Hill. She had received several owls from Edith Porchdow, bemoaning her inability to find the vessel keeping their friend a prisoner.

To Anna, the situation was now becoming critical. She knew she had to find her ally. Although she didn’t understand why, Anna was certain she was much more vulnerable without Leola’s protection. She was starting to believe they were joined in some magical way that lessened Anna as a Guardian without the magical armor this specter represented, and as her birthday approached, Anna’s mind never strayed far from Leola’s suffering. She had to be freed. It was more important than telling Dumbledore where Voldemort was hiding or, to Anna’s great surprise, finding her own mother.

“Where’s Sarah?” Gwen asked Anna at dinner that night.

Anna shrugged uncaringly. “Don’t know. She’s in one of her moods again; probably in the city somewhere.”

“You okay?”

Anna looked up at her friend and could see her concern. “Yeah, just a little nervous.”

“I would be too, facing a big, ugly gorilla in my bedroom,” Gwen moaned. “Is Hobbs ready to go?”

“Yeah, he slept most of the day in preparation for the flight home. I’ve already written the letter Edith Porchdow,” Anna answered. “All I need to do is write in where the thing is that’s keeping the ally a prisoner.”

“Will Edith be able to free her if she finds whatever it is she’s looking for?”

Anna thought. She remembered what it took to destroy the horcrux in the Hall of Wonders. “I don’t know.” Anna hesitated. She was worried if the vessel were destroyed, what would happen to Leola’s ghost? Would it be destroyed as well?

They spent the rest of the evening in the tower room working on their homework by the fire, as the remaining hours to midnight marched on. Anna wanted to be directly in front of the scope soon after twelve o’clock, ready to send Hobbs on his way to Mrs. Porchdow with the information. Then she would have to wait. Would Edith be able to find Leola and set her free?

“Whata’ youse two doin’ up so late?” asked TJ, who had entered the tower room just before the curfew warning sounded.

Anna looked up. “Oh… just trying to finish some homework. Where’ve you been?”

“Had detention for cussin’ Debbie-the-dork yesterday,” TJ replied insipidly. She shrugged. “It was worth it, but ma-knees are sore as hell from scrubbin’ the entrance wall. The dork took my wand, a’course; no scourin’ charms allowed.” She sat next to Gwen on the couch. “So… wha’s up with Sarah?”

Gwen looked over at Anna worriedly and then back to TJ. “What do you mean? Why do you ask?”

“Seen her runnin’ out the entranceway door ‘bout an hour ago cryin’ her eyes out. Didn’t see her come back neither ‘fore I finished up.” She looked up at the clock above one of the fireplaces. “It’s long passed curfew now. She shouldn’t be in the city this time a’night.”

Anna leaned in. “She was crying?”

“Yep. Poor thing. Everythin’ alright at home fer her?”

“I asked her about that, but she wouldn’t tell me anything,” Anna replied concernedly. “I don’t know what’s happening to her and it’s not like Sarah to be so secretive.”

They spent the next two hours waiting to see if Sarah was going to come back before Anna finally got to her feet. “Well it’s almost midnight… I’m going up,” she said, giving Gwen a significant look.

“Yeah, me too,” Gwen replied knowingly, adding a fake stretch. “Could I get that book I loaned you before we crash?”

“Sure. You staying up TJ?”

TJ looked at the tunnel doors. “I think’ll wait a bit to see if’in Sarah makes it back alright. She looked a terrible mess when she left.”

Anna felt guilty for not waiting with TJ, but she knew there were pressing matters at home that needed her attention.

“Don’t stay up too late. I’ll knock on your door tonight when she gets back,” Anna offered caringly.

As Anna and Gwen headed up the staircase, they could hear the sound of chimes signaling midnight throughout the hall. But before she tapped the knob on the door with her wand to enter, Anna noticed a strange smell coming from her room.

“Will that gorilla-thingy be waiting for you?” Gwen asked her nervously, as Anna opened the door and watched the lights brighten.

“I doubt it. I don’t think he likes talking to humans all that much unless he absolutely has to. Why is it so cold in here?” Anna’s pace quickened. She knew something was wrong before she entered the bedroom. There were dozens of chaotic whispers flooding into her mind as she turned up the lamp.

“What the…?” Anna mumbled.

“What’s the matter? Oh — my God!”

As the lights in her bedroom brightened, the scene meeting them was horrifying. The room looked like it had been turned upside down. The window overlooking Spellsburg was broken, the drapes torn, and Anna’s bed ripped apart. Her trunk was toppled over and its contents were scattered about the floor before them. Her dresser was in pieces, her clothing ripped and scattered. And then…

“My scope!”

Her mother’s kaleidoscope lay in a tangled mess of splayed legs and gemstones scattered and strewn everywhere. Anna dashed over to pick up her most treasured gift and could immediately hear the magic within its golden body screaming hideously.

“What happened to it? Who did this?” Gwen howled.

Anna was desperately grabbing up as many of the precious gems she could manage

“Quick! Help me gather the stones. Oh my God… the scope! I think… Gwen, I think it’s dying!”

“It’s what?” Gwen immediately dropped to the floor and began scooping up the rubies, diamonds and sapphires littering the floor and under the bed.

“The magic in the scope is weakening, it’s dying. Hurry — we have to do something to stop it!”

Anna sat spray-legged with the scope in her lap, a siren of screams flooding her mind. She could see the barrel of the scope bleeding a greenish vapor from the many holes where the gems were once mounted. She dug out her wand from out of her robes and then pointed it at one of the open holes.

“Reparo!” she yelled. The scope twitched in her lap and then sat quiet as it continued to scream in an endless array of animal cries that only Anna could hear. She could see down inside the barrel through its many holes and recognized what looked like an inferno burning within. A rush of wind through her mind was interrupted by a terrible crackling sound she recognized.

“My God,” Anna yelled, looking up at Gwen. “The jungle is on fire. It’s burning!”

She could hear them now, the flight of wings and the sound of paws and hooves desperately trying to escape the approaching flames bearing down upon all of them. The sound was a jumbled mix of frightened screams and stampeding footfalls attempting to flee.

“What jungle?” Gwen yelled back, stretching to reach another diamond under Anna’s dresser.

Anna tried forcing one of the cut gems into an open hole, but it immediately fell into the barrel and exploded within. An angry outburst that sounded like a thunderclap could be heard emanating from the barrel of the scope.

“What was that?” Gwen said, quickly turning to look back at the device in Anna’s lap.

Anna looked up at her. “You heard that? Did you hear?”

“A boom, like a thunderclap… yeah, I did.”

Anna dropped a green emerald into another open hole and a rumble of thunder was quickly heard in response. There was a flash within the scope, a bolt of bright lightening, and a white beam suddenly shot from the end of the smashed lens before going dark again.

And then, to Anna’s astonishment, the same green emerald she had dropped inside began growing out of the side of the barrel to fill one of the many holes under Anna’s hand.

Gwen’s eyes widened. “It healed itself, right there. Did you see that? Look!”

For the first time since entering her room, Anna allowed herself a chance to breathe. She turned the barrel on its end with the broken lens up and she could hear the magic within screaming in angry protest.

“My God, what was that?” Gwen complained, covering her ears with her hands.

“Pour them in! The gems! Pour them all in!” Anna yelled at her.

Gwen grabbed a handful of the cut stones and dropped them into the open end of the barrel. Immediately, the gems flashed and seemed to melt away before hitting the bottom. Several flashes of lighting could now be seen within the fire and then they heard something else. The two Guardians listened closely and could hear the distant sound of rainfall inside the scope. A light drizzle at first, Anna heard the stampede within begin to slow.

“Look at that!” Gwen said, pointing at the side of the scope’s barrel. Several of the gems were now reappearing on the outside, filling several of the empty holes again.

“It’s working! Do it again — pour them in, all of them!” Anna yelled, desperately grabbing some of the stones out of Gwen’s hand and pushing them down the barrel. Gwen scooped several more from the floor around them and did the same.

The scope flashed again and again, and as the girls worked they could hear the rainfall inside beginning turn into a downpour. The animals inside were finally quiet as the sirens of magic lessened. The fire was clearly dying.

The gems reappeared again, just like their brothers before, filling the open wounds outside the barrel. Finally, the scope was quiet. Only the whispered moans of pain could now be heard in the back of Anna’s mind and the licking of open wounds.

“That’s it — that’s all of them.” Gwen said, dropping the last of the stones into the barrel. She turned to look for more as she sat next to Anna on the floor.

“Keep looking, there’s still some missing,” Anna said, turning the barrel over to see a few empty holes. The moans she was hearing seemed to emanate from the now darkened wounds.

Anna set the scope to the side and helped Gwen look around the room. They moved what was left of the furniture, the trunk, and her dresser. They ripped through the discarded clothing strewed about the room and then her bedding.

“They’re not here, Anna,” Gwen moaned. “Whoever did this… they must have taken them.”

Anna felt sick. She picked up the legs and tried to fit them together on the dresser before letting out a whimper of shock.

“Oh… no.”

“What’s the matter?”

“The big ruby… it’s gone!”

Anna pointed at the large and now empty claw on top of the scope’s barrel. Sure enough, they could see where the largest stone, the one used to summon the great ape forth, had been ripped away from its mounting.

“Gracious, that’s a big one,” Gwen replied, and she turned anxiously to look around the room once again.

Anna dipped her head as she watched her friend resume the search. “Don’t bother,” she sobbed,” it’s not here. Somebody stole it.”

Gwen looked at Anna in surprise and then around again at the disheveled room. “I guess… you’re right.” She peered up at her friend again. “But who would do such a thing?”

FOUR

Lieutenant Dunning looked surly as he closely inspected Anna’s kaleidoscope sitting on her dresser.

“There are stones missing on the body of this device.” He reached up with the point of his quill and began to scratch at one of the sapphires. “Are these supposed to be real?” He stared back at Anna and then smirked. “They are, aren’t they?” He scowled again. “This scope must be worth millions of galleons. Why in the world would you keep something like this in your room?”

Anna didn’t answer him. She was solemnly picking up her clothing off the floor.

“Don’t touch that,” Dunning bellowed at her. “It’s all evidence.” He turned to face her fully. “Where is your roommate?”

“I don’t know,” Anna answered reluctantly.

Dunning looked at the clock on Anna’s bed stand. “It’s one in the morning. What do you mean you don’t know? Does she make it a habit to stay out this late?”

“Of course not. Sarah has never broken curfew.”

“So why do you think your roommate tore up your room and damaged this device?”

Anna was shocked at the question. “Sarah didn’t do this. She would never…”

“Look around you, Grayson. Only your belongings have been touched; it’s your property that’s been damaged here, only your trunk overturned.” He unrolled an empty scroll on the dresser and began to write. “Did you and this, what is it …Sarah Bell… have a fight?”

“No — of course not. We never fight…”

“Don’t say never, Grayson. You seem to forget — I had to break up a fight between you and another student just a couple of weeks ago. Isn’t that what happened here as well? The truth!”

“That’s ridiculous! Sarah and I are very good friends.”

“Then where is she? If you’re such good friends, why would she do this and then disappear?”

“I told you; Sarah didn’t do this.”

“No one else could have entered your room without you being present. The enchantments within Castlewood won’t allow it.”

“Then… somebody must have come in through the window.”

Dunning looked at the damaged window and then pushed what was left of Anna’s bed to the side so he could inspect it properly. He looked at the floor under the sill and then stuck his head carefully through the broken glass outside.

Lumos!” he bellowed, pointing his wand downward. “Well?” he yelled.

“Glass from the window, sir,” yelled a guard back from the ground. “The frame too.” Dunning frowned suspiciously before looking back at Anna. “The window was broken out, not in. Where is your roommate, Grayson?”

“Don’t you dare try and blame this on Sarah Bell.”

“Either she did this — or you did it to put her on the spot. Now which is it?”

“I never!”

“WHERE IS SHE?”

“She’s in the hospital,” came a voice from Anna’s doorway. It was Captain Hayman.

“The hospital!” Anna yelped. “Is she all right? What happened to her?”

“We’re not quite sure yet. Doctor Pearl and Professor Thordarson are with her now. Miss Grayson, the Chancellor wants to see you down on the hospital floor right away.”

Anna hesitated before glancing over at Dunning. The look on his face told her he was satisfied he had all the answers that mattered to him, and she was sure his suspicions would put her in the middle of anything that might have happened to her roommate as well.

Anna looked back at Hayman again. “Of course… right away.”

As she passed the captain in the doorway, he stopped her. “These were found in her pocket.” The captain opened his hand and showed Anna a small quantity of gemstones. Anna gasped before looking back at her scope. Dunning had already crossed the room to look down at the terrible evidence.

“Are those the missing gems from your scope, Grayson?” Dunning barked.

Hayman poured the stones into Anna’s open hand as she looked up at the captain.

“Answer me! Are those the missing stones?”

“No… they couldn’t be,” Anna replied, unwilling to admit the obvious. She returned to her dresser and turned the barrel of the scope up. “They can’t be.”

She carefully poured the remaining gems in and then, just as they had done before, the stones flashed and disappeared. Anna held her breath and then groaned as the stones resurfaced again, growing out of the sides of the barrel to take their proper place. The remaining moans within Anna’s mind emanating from the scope finally ceased, and the lens in its front glowed blue as the glass clicked and crackled and was magically made whole again. Anna bowed her head sorrowfully.

“Did Sarah… have anything else?” Anna looked up at the empty mounting on the top of her scope. The Ruby of YU was still missing.

“No… nothing more. Your roommate was pulled out of the moat this evening before she was taken to the hospital floor.”

Anna looked surprised. “What? Pulled out of the moat? How did she…?”

“If some of the stones are still missing,” Hayman continued, “we’ll have some of the guards check under the drawbridge for them. The waters are shallow there, but…” his voice trailed off.

Anna frowned. “But what?”

“Sarah… was attacked by some of the grindylows in the moat. Doctor Pearl says she’s all right physically, but if she dropped something else in the water it’s most likely those creatures have it now and are rarely willing to give something they’ve taken back again.”

Anna peered up at the empty mounting. How would she find her ally now? She looked back at Hayman again and could see the hope in his eyes fading. He had expected her to tell them where to find Voldemort. She turned to join him again.

“I want to see Sarah.”


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