Facing The Hell Hound
The week had come, and exams were open them at last.
It was the evening before their first exam which was on Potions.
They were studying the effects of the draught of living peace, when Beth remembered there had been a particularly good book on it in the library.
She ran from the Common Room and up to the library to get it out quickly. On the way back down to the Common Room she heard people arguing in an abandoned classroom.
“What am I supposed to do!” yelled one of the voices, “I just can’t get past that dog! Every time I get close that interfering Severus shows up!”
It sounded like it was Quirrell’s voice, but without the stuttering. The second voice was also familiar in an eery way, it made Beth’s scar ache.
“Keep trying fool!” spat the second voice.
“We must get the stone!” the voice continued, “otherwise I cannot be resurrected.”
Beth dropped her book out in the corridor which landed with a loud thump on the stone floor on the corridor.
“What was that!” yelled Quirrell running out into the corridor.
But Beth had already run down the corridor and out of site leaving the book behind.
She ran back down to the Common Room and leaned breathlessly against the wall as she got back.
“Why have you been running so fast?” asked Justin, “have hell hounds been pursuing you?”
“Don’t joke about Cerberus’” said Ernie.
Beth tried to steady her breathing as she clutched at her scar in agony.
“You ok Beth?” asked Susan looking at her best friend nervously.
“My scar,” she groaned trying to stop herself from being sick.
“Has it ever hurt before?” asked Ernie.
“Nope,” she mumbled trying to head up to her dorm and stumbling.
“Do you want me to take you to Pomfrey for a pain reliever?” asked Susan.
“No,” she muttered heading up to the dorm.
She checked that no one was in the room other than her and Susan.
“It’s Quirrell,” she sighed sitting down on the bed still clutching at the scar, “he’s trying to get the stone.”
“He’s what?” breathed Susan, “Quirrell? Are you sure?”
Beth nodded nervously.
“He’s struggling to get past Fluffy for some reason, and Snapes trying to stop him.”
“So what do we do?”
“We make sure Quirrell doesn’t get the stone, constant guard.”
“How do we keep a constant guard when we’re in class?”
“We recruit our dorms security cat,” said Beth as Guinevere hopped up onto the bed.
Guinevere spent the next week patrolling the third-floor corridor with help from Mrs Norris. Guinevere found out that Mrs Norris was actually quite nice, she was just very worried about the wellbeing of the students. They took it in turns to patrol the corridor and any time Quirrell showed up they were going to run for Beth.
As Beth got further through the week her scar began to ache even more. By Friday, Susan had to take Beth for a pain reliever from Madam Pomfrey.
After the last exam on Friday the three of them were sat around in the Common Room. Susan and Ernie were relieved the exams were over.
Beth was staring up at the ceiling as she lay down on the floor clutching at her scar grimacing in pain.
“Want another pain reliever?” asked Ernie heaving himself off the sofa to go find Pomfrey.
“It’s getting worse,” muttered Beth.
“Are you sure Quirrell’s going after the stone?” asked Hannah, “there’s only a week left.”
“I’ve just got a feeling it’s tonight.”
“And what makes you say that?” chuckled Ernie.
“Oh I don’t know,” said Susan shaking her head, “maybe the frantic cat that’s just charged through the door?”
“Ah,” nodded Ernie, “you’ve got a point there Susie!”
“Gwen?” asked Beth picking up her cat.
“Gwen, is it Quirrell?”
“Has he gone after the stone?”
Guinevere seemed to think for a moment and nodded again.
“When was this Gwen?”
Guinevere blinked twice.
“He’s two hours ahead of us,” said Beth putting the cat down on the sofa.
“You learnt all that from a cat?” asked Ernie raising his eyebrows.
“She’s a very smart cat,” said Beth putting the invisibility cloak in her pocket.
The three friends headed out of the Common Room; it was still a while until curfew, but they were going up to the third floor which was forbidden.
They all piled under the cloak and walked slowly up to the third-floor corridor.
When they reached the corridor they pulled off the cloak and Beth unlocked the door.
“Alohomora!” she called.
There was a satisfying click as the door unlocked.
Fluffy was just as big and terrifying as she remembered from eight months ago. It was snarling at them as they opened the door and tried to bite Ernie’s head off.
“God, I hope this works,” muttered Beth.
She cleared her throat. She trawled back in her memory and remembered a very vague memory from when she was a baby.
“Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter,” she sung softly.
Fluffy bent one of its head curiously in her direction.
“Little darling, its seems like years since we’ve been here,” she sung slightly more loudly and his head began to droop.
“Here comes the sun, little darling, here comes the sun, and I’ll say, that’s it’s alright.”
Fluffy fell asleep and they slipped down the trap door.
“A soft landing nice!” said Ernie looking around impressed.
“For Merlin’s sake Ernie,” said Susan, “the reasons its soft is because it’s a plant!”
“Devils Snare,” nodded Beth, “light your wands.”
“Lumos!” they all called.
It worked instantly and the Devils Snare loosened its grasp around them.
“Ok,” said Ernie dusting off his robes, “well we’ve gotten this far, let’s keep going.”
“Alright,” stammered Susan.
They went through to the next room where there were hundreds of miniscule birds flying around the room and another locked door.
Beth looked from the locked door to the flying objects.
“Ernie, Sus, do you think those could be keys?”
Ernie was the best flyer and got on the broomstick and caught the key that had a slightly bent wing from being caught so many times.
“Ladies first,” said Ernie opening the door for his two friends.
“Oh bugger,” muttered Ernie looking at the next room.
It was a chess board, Ernie couldn’t play chess to save his life.
“Yes!” exclaimed Susan pumping his fists.
“I love chess! Aunty Amelia taught me to play.”
Susan managed to play her way across the board with great ease, they lost a few pieces but now as many as the white and she soon had checkmate.
“Well done Sus!” said Beth giving her a hug as she ran across the board to pick her up.
“Thanks Beth,” blushed Susan, “but it was nothing really.”
“Hem hem,” coughed Ernie getting their attention.
“Excuse me ladies, Quirrell, the stone?”
“Oh, that’s right,” giggled Beth putting Susan back down and they all headed for the next room.
Beth’s nose was assaulted by a terrible smell in the next room.
“Merlin,” groaned Susan and Ernie gagged slightly.
There was a dead troll, it was huge, and it stank. Guinevere had been right, Quirrell was ahead of them.
“Come on,” said Ernie, “let’s get out of this foul room.”
They reached the next room and all it had on it was a small table with a variety of potions and piece of parchment on it.
Ernie picked up the piece of parchment and read it out loud.
Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, whichever you will find,
One of us among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here for evermore,
To help in your choice, we give you these clues
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine’s left side;
Second, different are those who stand on either end,
But if you would move forwards neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.
“We are screwed,” sighed Ernie.
“Not if we keep a cool head and concentrate,” said Susan logically.
“Ok so lets see,” muttered Susan, “one gets us through those flames, and another through the door we just came in through.”
“Three are poison,” said Beth, “and the other two nettle wine.”
“So,” nodded Susan, “there’s always poison on the left of nettle wine.”
“Right so, second left, and second right are nettle wine?” suggested Beth.
Susan nodded as she pulled those two out of line.
“Left hand side of wine is poison,” said Susan pulling out the two bottles that had been on the left of the wine.
There was now only three left.
“It’s not the one of the far right,” said Beth she said pointing to a bottle.
“It’s this one!” said Susan holding up the smallest bottle, there was only enough in their for one person to drink.
“How are we going to decide who’s going through?” asked Ernie looking at the tiny bottle.
Beth took a deep breath, she had a feeling she recognised the other voice from last week from her nightmares, if her suspicions were true, Quirrell was working with Voldemort
“I’ll take it,” said Beth taking the bottle, “you two go for help.”
“Why cant we come back another time?” asked Ernie.
“Because Quirrell is trying to resurrect Lord Voldemort,” she blurted out.
“What the!” blustered Ernie his mouth agape.
“We’re not leaving you!” screamed Susan, “we can’t.”
“I have to go,” said Beth giving them both a hug, “go for help, find Sprout.”
“Be careful Beth,” said Ernie, “don’t die in there, we need you!”
“Good luck,” said Susan giving her one more hug.
Beth took the potion and swallowed it in one gulp.
She looked over her shoulder quickly as she walked into the fire which she didn’t feel at all.
Ernie had his hand on Susan’s shoulder and nodded at her.
Beth went through the door and found Quirrell in a chamber with a strange mirror.