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A loud scream is what I heard when we Apparated into Hogsmeade with the Invisibility Cloak on. We clutched closer together as tons of Death Eaters came running out of the Three Broomsticks, holding our breath.
"Where have they gone?" someone cried.
"Spread out!" other said.
The four of us continued to try and stay out of the way of the search Death Eaters. I was glad we had thought to wear the Cloak because we certainly would have been in for it if we hadn't.
"They couldn't have gotten far," someone nearby said. "The enchantments will keep them from leaving. We've got them trapped."
"Send out the Dementors! Flush them out!"
A shiver ran up my spine and I knew the Dementors were on their way to get us. "We have to move," I said in a horrified whisper.
"Where can we go?" Ron said.
The next thing I realized, Harry had pulled out his wand. "Expecto Patronum," he hissed.
The stag burst forth from his wand, frightening off the oncoming Dementors, but it also alerted the Death Eaters.
"It came from over there!!"
"Now what do we do?" Hermione whispered, frantically.
We turned to see a man peeking out of the Hog's Head. He motioned to who he thought was outside and quickly we moved towards the old shop, into a semi-state of safety.
I stared at the man who Harry pointed out must be Aberforth Dumbledore, the man who played such a big part in rescuing us from the Manor and saving us now. It was weird, knowing that this whole time, he had only been a little way a ways from the castle. I wonder if Dumbledore ever knew that.
"Don't know what you kids think you're doing," Aberforth said. "The war is over. Voldemort has won. There's not much else you can do. And you," he added looking to Harry. "Not to smart for you to still be an England. You should skip out of the country before it's too late. Wouldn't you, any of you, to meet the same fate as Albus."
"How could you say that?" I asked, surprised. "How can you have such little faith in your brother?"
"Need I remind you, Miss Malfoy, of the secrets and lies my brother was known for keeping. Many people, including the ones he so called 'loved and cared for' would have been much better off if he had just left them all alone."
We were all silent for a moment before Hermione said in a soft voice, "You're talking about your little sister aren't you. Ariana."
When the man didn't answer she continued, "What really happened to her? All we know is what we heard from Rita Skeeter."
Aberforth snorted. "Though I can't stand the bird, she was sadly not far from the truth. Ariana was not a Squib, as Rita Skeeter claimed. When she was six years old, her magic was beginning to manifest itself but – she couldn't control it. One afternoon, she was observed doing magic by three much older Muggle boys. . . . They attacked her."
He didn't specify how they had attacked her but by the grim look on his face, I knew it was bad. "How horrible," I gasped.
"It was horrible," he continued. "It left her permanently unhinged. Our father went on a rampage when he found out what happened and was imprisoned in Azkaban for attacking the three boys. Albus would have never started with the idea of wizards dominating Muggles if not for that incident. It was all stemmed from anger at what had happened to our sister and father. He dreamed of creating a world in which Ariana would not have to hide.
"Albus came home when our mother died and took responsibility for Ariana. But then he met Grindelwald, and the two began hatching grand plans to change the world, wanting to set off as soon as possible. I confronted them one even, pointing out that Ariana was in no fit state to travel or be left alone, so they had no way to do whatever it was they wanted to do. I yelled at him, told him he would be a bad brother if he left. Grindelwald just laughed, telling me that my brother had better things in store for him than watching after a 'little brat'.
"The argument grew heated. I drew my wand, and Grindelwald used the Cruciatus (torturing) curse on me. I think that was when Albus jumped in. Ariana, the innocent thing she was came to intervene. There were curses flying everywhere. . . . I'll never know which of our spells hit her, killed her. It could have been me, it could have been Albus. But Grindelwald left immediately, and Albus was free to leave, free to embark on his career."
The silence was deafening in the small room. Hermione was crying, I knew, and I was close to it.
"He was never free," Harry said suddenly. "Last year he took me to get one of You-Know-Who's Horcrux. In order to get to it though, he had to drink this potion; it made him go out of his mind. He kept crying out 'don't hurt them; hurt me'. He was obviously thinking about you and Ariana."
"We can't give up, Mr. Aberforth," I said, wiping tears from my face. "If we do, then there's no one else to keep going."
"I intend to defeat You-Know-Who," Harry said. "Will you please help us get into Hogwarts."
Aberforth stares at the four of us for a long while before turning to an old oil painting. It is a picture of Ariana, I can tell. She was such a pretty little thing.
He gave her a slight smile. "You know what to do."
The little girl smiled, rushing back into the picture, becoming smaller and smaller. But then she returned, bringing along a very happy Neville.
Soon we were in the Room of Requirements with twenty or so students, members of the DA who had been forced to go into hiding.
But I couldn't help but admire Neville when he had told us all he had done and I had seen the many bruises he had obtained from standing up to the Carrows. I had kissed him on the cheek, I was so happy, causing him to blush.
Luna and Dean were there too, Aberforth having gotten in contact with them.
Now, though, most of the students were made because we wouldn't tell them what we had been up to. And to top it all off, Hermione and Ron had run off somewhere.
"Well, I can't just tell them," Harry whispered to me.
"Maybe – maybe we don't have to tell them, tell them," I said softly. "We don't have to be as cryptic as Dumbledore was. And maybe they can help."
I smiled at him and he smiled back slightly, turning to the other people. "We're looking for an object. We're not entirely sure what it is but we think it might have something to do with Ravenclaw."
The other students mumbled amongst themselves, confused and thinking.
"Well," Luna said, suddenly, "there is an old legend about the Diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw."
A hush descended among the Ravenclaw students.
"Do you know where it is?" I asked.
"No, but it's supposedly still in the castle. You can see what it looks like. There's a statue in the Ravenclaw common room. I'll take you."
Harry, Luna, and I left quickly with a quick reassurance to the other students that we'd be back soon.
We hurried with the invisibility cloak over us to the Ravenclaw tower, where the knocker said, "Which came the first, the phoenix or the egg?"
I was incredibly surprised when Luna answered, "A circle has no beginning."
Harry and I looked at each other in amazement as the door swung open. Luna led us inside. "There's the statue," she said, smiling at us.
Harry moved up the stairs, motioning for me to follow. I ran my fingers over the diadem. "Shouldn't be too hard to find, right?"
"Well, well, look what we've got here."
We all spun around to see that evil hag Alecto Carrow as she pressed her Dark Mark, summoning the beginning of the final battle.