Chapter 5

No More Games

Finally. It’s midnight. Surely everyone is asleep. The thief crept down the stairs from his dormitory. Yes, they’re all gone. This makes my job a lot easier.

The thief was eager to please his master, so much so he would risk anything to do it. He looked around to see if anything was unusual. Of course, this was Hogwarts, everything was unusual. He noticed a sleeping portrait in the common room.

The best witnesses are no witnesses. He took out his wand and did a charm that made a blade appear at the tip of the wand. Simple. He approached the portrait slowly. The darkness of the common room would hide him if the portrait awoke, but he was better off safe than sorry. His master would not like mistakes. Mistakes meant punishment. He did not want more punishment.

He slashed the portrait enough so that it was in shreds. The painting would not be saying anything to anyone ever again.

There was a noise. This was enough. He would be awarded for creating fear among the students, though his orders were to find something else. He, however, could not risk getting caught. Keep them in a constant fear. Yes, until he could find what he was searching for, fear was the best he could do. And the brutal slashing was just enough to do that.

“Why aren’t you in the Slytherin Common Room?” Avery asked, leaning over the top of Donal’s chair. “Isn’t it too nice in here for you?” He was furious, furious with Donal for being gone and furious with him for going over to the evil side of Agatha Swales.

Stupid idiot. Agatha has killed him. His brain is just a glob of pinkish goop.

The sharpness of Avery’s tone made Donal snap out of his reverie. “Huh?” He looked up startled, and his eyes took a moment to focus onto Avery’s face.

Oh boy, Donal thought, things are really bad.

“Avery I don’t want to fight with you, and right now we all need to stick together. Don’t you get it? United, we will stand, divided, we will fall, you, me, Brian, Agatha, Hogwarts, all of us. Don’t you see what’s going on?” Donal knew all too well that the attacks on the common rooms, on the greenhouse, on the students were leading to…blacker things.

“I know you think that Agatha has some kind of sway over me, but please believe me when I say that I am still Donal, I am still your friend, and that I have seen things that…” his mouth began to go dry, and he started to bite on his tongue. Words he wanted to say just wouldn’t come out; a choking sound escaped from his mouth. He would fight this, he would and he could and…damn his father!

“Your point? I’d rather fall than team up with her.” Avery spat, unaware of Donal’s plight.

“And she does control you. You aren’t Donal. You stopped being Donal when you snuck into the Slytherin common Room. I never knew the real Donal. His brain was turned to mush by her evilness.”

He screamed, a scream of rage, and then he began to breath normally again. “I’m sorry, Avery. I really am.” Donal wanted to tell Avery what he had seen, but he couldn’t. His father, Lord Boric, had spelled him before he left home, making it so that Donal could barely speak about his seer abilities, much less most of what he had seen.

“Sorry for what?” Avery asked, looking down at Donal through red eyes.

Donal took a few breaths to keep calm. How could he make Avery understand, how could he make him see? But he wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Being able to See was more of a curse than a gift.

“Avery, there are some things that I cannot explain at the moment, some things,” his mouth was going dry again, “that…I…wish…that…I…could.” The words would come, but only those words, and slowly. His voice returned to normal as he continued.

“Agatha is my girlfriend, we do have quite a lot in common, although I’m not sure you’d believe me, and my brain has not been ‘turned to mush by her evilness.’ Agatha is not evil, not even close, although she may be condescending, uppity, self-righteous, stuck-up, posh, vindictive, even, call it what you will.”

His voice became softer, and wavered as he continued, “But I have seen a glimmer, a tiny spark of what true evil is like. It scares me. And if we are not together, then one by one we will all fall.”

His tone became hard, emphasizing the words, almost spitting them out. “Every. Single. Person. On. This. Planet.” He carried on, emotion strong in his voice. “And the events here at Hogwarts are just the tip of the Iceberg. You know how evil causes people to fall? Through conflicts, through the isolation it causes, through greed, through many, many things. And right now, I need you. I need Agatha. I need to know that I am safe. Can you get that into your head ? Please try, Avery Berke, please, please try.” He hung his head, silent tears rolling down his cheeks.

“Give me a break, Talmorra.” Avery muttered, walking toward the couch and sitting down.

“Evil can mean different things to different people. Evil to me is Agatha. Evil to others may be Dark Wizards and the like. So get off it.” He looked up at the smaller boy, eyes glowing a deeper red.

“Yes. Agatha is all those, and many other adjectives could be used to describe her. None of which I’ll speak to you, you who thinks she’s so great. You really are a Slytherin, you know that? I’m so happy that Ghast wouldn’t let us switch. I’d be stuck with her!”

He took a breath, letting his face cool down, all the while listening to Donal’s long speech. “We’ll all die? Is that what you’re saying? So, if I don’t team up with Agatha, we’ll all die? Interesting.”

He needs me? Ha! He’d much rather have Agatha, her evilness… Of what use am I to him?

“Well I can’t do that. You’re safe. You don’t need me. You’ve got Agatha, Brian, the professors, everyone. One less immature Gryffindor won’t matter much.” He spat, bitterness dripping from his voice.

“And stop crying! You’re twelve now for goodness sakes!”

But I cry… A lot…

He stood and walked over to Donal on instinct and before he knew it, he was standing before the boy, looking down pitifully at him.

How can I be so heartless? He’s only crying ’cause something’s the matter. And I’m too dumb to see it.

And why was I even mad, because he stuck up for his girlfriend? He has a right, kinda.

What was I mad about?

Avery sat down on the arm rest on the chair, never breaking eye contact.

“Sorry…” he muttered, very, very softly.

Donal smiled weakly at him. “Yeah, I know Agatha isn’t perfect. I can see her faults you know, it’s just something that doesn’t seem to come between us. You have no idea of some of my faults…and some of my secrets… I can accept that you don’t like her, but in a crunch I need to know that we would help each other out. All of us, for any one of the others, you for Agatha, and Agatha for you.”

“I would,” Avery said simply, staring into space. “If need be, I’d help her and treat her as if I had no problem with her, but, until that problem arises—” he paused, turning his attention back to Donal, “—I’ll still hate her and wish she’d transfer to Beauxbatons.” He was very serious about his feelings for Agatha.

“I love all three of you so much. Even Agatha, believe it or not. Yeah, we hate each other’s guts and want to stab each other with sharp kitchen objects, but I love her enough to help her when she’s in a jam. I couldn’t not help any of you. You mean so much to me.”

A tear escaped his eye. “So much for me bugging you about crying.”

Donal blew his nose and wiped his eyes. “There are many things worse than death, Avery. And you’re not immature, no more than any of the rest of us. And you’ll understand in time what I mean by safe. I don’t mean physically safe, unhurt and the like, but I mean safe from your choices, from choices others have made, safe in staying who you are…in many ways I hope that you never understand it. But I think that at some point you must. And if you don’t, that’s when you will fall. You will no longer be Avery Burke, but someone else, something else.” He shook his head. “I hope you understand what I’m trying to tell you.”

Avery listened to Donal, trying to understand both what he meant and how a twelve year old boy could be so mature. Avery could act older when he wanted to, but only by a few years. Donal sounded very educated, as if the mind of a fifty year old man had taken over his body.

“I understand, to a point. I don’t know why, but I know one can loose themselves to others, loose themselves to, well, themselves.”

Avery sighed, then stood up. “You wanna go continue this in our dorm?” he asked. He smiled inwardly at the thought of that. The two boys had a room all to themselves.

Donal stood up as Avery spoke. “Yeah. Let’s go. There are some things we need to discuss in private.” He gave Avery a prankish grin, and led the way up to the dorm.

“Now that’s the Donal I know!” Avery ran up the stairs after Donal, a demonic grin on his face.

Donal sprinted after him, just beating Avery into the dorm. He flung himself down onto his bed, and yawned, “It’s so good to be back!”

Turning over and sitting up, Donal said, “So tell me about what’s been going on. I overheard my father saying something about the school, but I didn’t catch much.” Donal looked at Avery keenly for the news.

“Nothing really. I trust you know about the attacks, Brian getting knocked out, and the like? Um, you know that Ghast is gone, a few new staff positions, um—” Avery continued like that, spitting out anything that came to mind.

In the time since Donal had been gone, a lot had happened, Avery realized. He had just got back, so classes had not begun (although for some unknown reason Professor Elionwy kept trying to get him to show an interest in Herbology…that is, and interest in something other than burning the plants). That was how he had witnessed the attack on the greenhouse and Brian.

There had been other attacks though. The Quidditch Hut had been burned down. There was the earlier attack on the Gryffindor common room. No one knew who was doing it, and it was disconcerting.

Donal listened carefully to what Avery said, ordering the information in his mind despite the fact that Avery said everything disjointed. When Avery had finished, Donal continued to think for a while before he spoke.

“We need to set a watch in each common room, every night. More than one person too, for safety. Could also do with knowing what they were looking for. Have you got any ideas?”

“Good idea, but no, I haven’t a clue. I mean, we could set the thief up with another person. That’d be bad. I’m go for three per House. Unless you and I did it, ’cause I’m almost positive you’re not the Gryffindor thief. You weren’t here when all the attacks started,” Avery said, throwing ideas and thoughts onto the table.

“So… Who should we get? And think about it— we need at least five people. People can’t stay up every night watching. We have classes, and we need sleep.” Avery said, and then added, “Definitely not firsties. They’d wet their pants.” He smirked, but frowned upon realizing what he could be getting himself into.

Donal mulled over what Avery had said. He was right about the firsties; they wouldn’t have a clue if anything did happen, unless there were one or two outstanding ones. He was right about needing sleep too, so that would mean more people…

“Avery! If we can find out who we think it might be, then all we have to do is watch them, not the whole school! But how do we do that?”

“Right.” Avery began. He didn’t want to find the fallacies in Donal’s reasoning, but, if they were going to figure it out, their plan had to be foolproof. “But we could get the wrong one. We could enlist the help of others, but we could choose the thief. Say we asked for Agatha and Megan’s help, but Megan’s the thief. That would get us nowhere. So far, we know that we can do it.”

“We’ll have to work out the rest of the details,” Donal said, listening. “But while we’re doing that, let’s start watching ourselves. Tomorrow night.”

Avery sighed, but agreed. “All right.”

Great, he thought, We’re dead.

After the other students had gone to bed, Donal stayed behind in the common room. Avery and he would do nightly watches when they could, to try and ensure the safety of Gryffindor, and to try and catch the culprit in the act.

Donal let the fire die down somewhat, so that the common room became shrouded in shadows. He moved to a chair in the corner, where it was pretty dark, and waited, a lantern by his side.

Avery quietly crept down the stairs, looking for Donal.

“Donal?” he asked softly, somewhat intimidated by the eerie shadows cast on the walls. “Donal?” His voice came out slightly higher that what he would have liked.

Why the heck did I agree to this?

“Ahh!” he yelled, tripping over a bulge in a rug. “Ouch.”

Donal winced at Avery’s cry. Whilst it was funny, the culprit might have heard that. He whispered, “Over here. And keep it down; everyone needs to think that we’re in bed. If we hear anything from the dorms, then one goes and one stays. Which do you want?”

As he spoke, Donal re-arranged the chairs so that he and Avery could watch each others backs, and be in the shadows at the same time.

“Sorry.” Avery muttered, sitting down in the chair behind Donal. “It is kinda dark in here.”

“Um… I’ll go to the dorms. You cover my back from the stairs.”

Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why up there? Then I’ll be the one to go to the hospital wing, Avery thought.

Donal nodded. “It’s supposed to dark, that way they shouldn’t see us. Okay, you’ll check the dorms. But the main thing is to see who it is, not necessarily catch them. If we can them fine, but if we know who it is and they get away, then at least we’ll know.”

Donal sat in the other chair, tense with excitement, but also aware that this could take time, and it might not be tonight. He tried to settle in for a long wait.

“Wait.” Avery turned around again and looked at Donal. “If I can catch them, you want me to? Heck no! You go up then. I’d probably faint and jam my wand up my nose.”

I’m sooo pitiful, Avery thought.

Donal whispered back, “No, you can go; all we need is to see who it is. Now we’d best be quiet, or they’ll get scared off.” He shook his head; he knew Avery was probably scared, but his friend could do this.

Avery sighed softly. He still had stuff to say, but, not wanting to upset Donal, he said nothing. Then he remembered a spell his dad taught him prior to coming to Hogwarts. “Inporento,” he whispered, pointing his wand at Donal’s ear and then at his throat.

“Better?” he asked in a normal voice. “Now, why the heck do I have to go?” The spell made it so that only Donal could hear his voice.

Donal felt a twinge of magic wash over him as Avery cast the spell.

Casting the same spell on Avery, Donal replied. “I’ll go if you really want me to, but I think you’d do a better job. And I’m also probably a little better at contingencies than you – no offense – so I’m better covering your back. Anyway, the only way to conquer fear is to face it.” He grinned at Avery. “But we’d better be quiet, regardless of the spell, otherwise we won’t hear anything.”

Avery screamed, loudly, hoping to pop the smaller boy’s ear drums. “Fine then. I’ll go, jerk.” he muttered. “What fear? I’m just not too keen on encountering someone working for Him.”

Him. It was not the only name given to the man they were referring to, but it was the easiest to say. Prince John Paul was not a man whose name was taken lightly. Most knew only vague stories about him, but it was widely known that, wherever there was evil, he was often behind it.

Avery shuddered, and returned to his former half relaxed-half tense position, staring at the dying fire.

From above, a dark figure watched the boys. Once, just this once, she had hoped to sleep, to forget, to be like everyone else was that night. But her sensitive ears picked up the sound of voices, and she climbed out of bed, stirring a few cats in the process. Standing at the edge of her door she looked down. Two figures in the dark. Fear gripped her a moment. Had they come to replace her?

Instinctively her hand clutched her wand, a witch’s greatest weapon, and she felt years of training long forgotten slip once more into place so very comfortably. She searched the folds of her mattress and pulled out two very special items: chicory petals and dried wolfsbane leaves on a long cord, and a silver knife. It was an invisibility amulet.

She sliced off a piece of tasseled rope that adorned a neighboring four-poster, and secured the knife to her ankle with it. If she combined knife and trinket, she could have very well sliced through the cord and broken the power in it. That wouldn’t suit. The corded plant she attached to her other ankle, feeling that peculiar sense she now recognized as magic taking effect. Only then did she walk down the dorms steps.

Stealthily, stealthily. Like the narrator in the Tell-Tale Heart. Always stealthily. Missing that one step that would have caught her foot and given her away. Down. Down. Until she caught sight of the two boys once more.

Donal Talmorra and Avery Berke. She crouched down on invisible haunches like a gargoyle. Watched them. Little soldiers. Little sentries. Little pathetic sentries. They argued, in whispers that generally grew louder. Yet no else stirred, or if they did, they did not bother to come out and look.

They were all alone.

Just the three of them.

To be in His power and back to her old work was intoxicating, drunkenness. She was invisible now too. It was glee bordering on madness. She moved to stand around them, darted back and forth, mimicking their words, whispering in each boy’s ear the same promises of power they had all been given, then dodging just out of their reach, toying with the little mice.

No more innocent acts, he had ordered. No more playful teasing. Begin in earnest.

No more, she told herself over and over in her thoughts, No more.

She reached for the knife. Not yet. Wand first.

He said no more teasing.

Just one more little game.

Her wand was in her hand. She was there, invisible, aiming at her young targets. And she was beside herself, as an equally invisible little child, jumping and clapping with joy at the chaotic events about to occur. The spell placed itself on her lips. She moved to stand on Talmorra’s left side, where the boy’s backs met.

Silence reigned.

Then.

“Inarela tempesta.”

From nowhere, the hailstones came pouring down.

“What the heck!” Avery shouted. He covered his head with his hands, his right hand still grasping his wand. “Who’s there…?” he asked, more softly, though only Donal could hear him.

He turned around to look behind him, searching for the source of the voice, the spell. There was no one there.

Avery looked back at Donal, frowning. “Any ideas?”

Donal ducked and covered his head as the hailstones pelted them. “Block the stairs!” He shouted to Avery, “I’ll do the same at the portrait! That way they still have to be in the room!”

Donal rushed over to the portrait hole, and stood in front of it. Anyone trying to leave was going to have to physically move him. He stood, breathing hard, his wand out and ready.

Avery nodded and stood up, rushing over to the stairs. The doorway was big- too big for him to completely cover.

How the heck can I block this?

“Loliska!” he said, pointing his wand at the stairs. He smiled (despite the circumstances) and nodded at the invisible wall blocking the doorway.

So what if this person can probably break through here… Better than nothing.

The hailstones were starting to hurt. Suddenly, Donal thought of something. “Finite Incantatem!” he yelled over the noise, and flicked his wand at the common room generally. Slowly, the hailstones slowed, and gradually stopped.

“Professor!” he called, “Professor Gates! Come Quickly!”

She stood, still, a hair’s breadth away from Avery’s ear. “Little Avery,” she taunted, grinning, “Donal forcing you to be brave. But you’re not. Are you?”

Avery gasped when he heard a voice, really close to him. “Donal.” he yelled. “She’s over here.” A female’s voice. The thief was a girl. She was invisible. She was talking to him.

Avery’s body remained tense as he felt the eerie presence next to him remain where they were. Oh boy…

The invisible door to Professor Gate’s office slammed open. From inside her office, a multitude of noises could be heard- from beeps and whirls (from various dark detectors) to snarls and hoots (from various animals).

Infinity emerged in a cloud of dark robes, her hair tied in a long braid down her back. A murderous look was upon her face, as though she had been sleeping and disturbed, though this was clearly not the case.

Donal’s voice grew more urgent when he saw Professor Gates. “Quickly professor! We think the culprit is still in the room, but invisible! Avery blocked the stairs, and I’ve blocked the portrait hole. They didn’t have time to leave! They must still be here! Right with us!”

He hoped that Gates believed him, and that she could find invisible people.

The Gryffindor Common Room was wrecked. Many of the hailstones were still in tact and covered every surface; others had melted and were starting to drip onto the carpet and chairs. Some of the chairs had even been overturned by the force of the hailstones and at least three vases were broken.

Gates scowled eyeing the mess. Producing her wand from nowhere, she pointed it directly upwards. She shouted out a few spells, quickly restoring the Common Room to its normal state.

Staring intently at the two second year boys, she asked, “What, pray tell, is going on here? And why are you two not in your dormitory?”

The thief pouted. Just a bit mind you, anything else would be undignified. She had really wanted to have a little more fun with them. But no. Donal had to start screaming and ruining her fun.

Ah but, wait, here was something interesting. She sidled up beside Talmorra and whispered in his ear.

“Yes, go on boy. Tell her. Tell her that you were out here hunting spooks.”

She chuckled, then made her way towards Avery and whispered to him “Poor Avery, Donal just dragged you into this didn’t he? And you know why don’t you? He wants to get rid of you. He doesn’t like you’ve been talking about little Agatha and he wants you gone.”

Her voice was smooth, the deadly calm of murderers and madmen. It was indistinguishable from her normal voice.

Donal backed up so he was pushed up against the portrait hole. “I can hear you whispering,” he said, “Where are you?” he shouted, looking around the room wildly, not moving from against the wall. He was not going to panic…not yet, not yet…Professor Gates was here, she would sort it out.

“She’s here.” Avery said, sending a somewhat frightened look across the room.

But he was wrong. The thief was…gone.

“Mr. Talmorra, Mr. Berke, please try and stay calm,” Gates ordered. To be honest the situation was a little strange. There was definitely another person in the common room. It was obvious that there was another presence in the room.

Years of being in the presence of Dark Wizards told her this person didn’t exactly have good intentions, either.

Then it was gone. Whoever the person was had left, abruptly and without warning.

To be sure the fourth person was gone, Infinity performed a thorough revealing spell.

Sighing, she turned to the boys. “I’m afraid the person has gone.”

Pointing her wand at the hearth, she said “Inflamari!” and a roaring fire appeared, warming the Gryffindor common room.

“This is not good news. I thought I was getting close to figuring out who was doing this all. Will one of you please go outside and ask the Fat Lady who the last person she let in was?”

Avery nodded, brushing past Donal on his was to see the Fat Lady.

“Erm, Fat Lady, ma’am?” Calling her the ‘Fat Lady’ to her face seemed dumb. But what else could he have called her?

“Um, do you by any chance remember who the last person to enter the Common Room was?”

“Only you, Donal Talmorra, and…well…I am afraid I’m not quite sure who the other was. A child with a cold, certainly. She, perhaps it was a he, was bundled up, and spoke the password almost too quietly for me to hear. Is that all?” The Fat Lady replied, head sunk onto her chest in thought.

“Well, if you recall anything other happenings in this corridor, please make sure to tell us.” Avery began to say the password, but stopped himself.

“Oh! And tell us if you see anyone with a cold leave or come, okay? Thanks. Jellywarts.”

The portrait swung open and Avery stepped in. “No luck, professor… She just said that the last person after us was someone with a cold. She doesn’t even know if it was a boy or girl.”

Donal couldn’t believe it. How could they have escaped? They had blocked the exits!

With frustration he said, “But Professor! How could they have escaped from here without going past us? It’s not possible to Apparate from here! And we know no one came in through the portrait while we were on watch! We would have seen the door open!”

Biting her lip, Professor Gates tried not to reveal her worry. If not one had left the Common Room and there were no strangers (there were several students with colds at the moment) who had entered, it meant the culprit was one of the Gryffindors.

Who, however, was another matter.

“Mr. Talmorra, Mr. Berke, please go up to your dormitory now. I must go speak with Headmistress Danuliete. She knows a great deal more about the situation than me, and I thought she had seen to it.”

Clearly Drusilla had not seen to these incidents around the school— at least, not as thoroughly as she would have liked.

“I shall instruct the Fat Lady not to allow entry to this Common Room, or exit, to anyone save myself or other staff members until tomorrow morning at seven o’clock.”

“Okay…” Avery muttered, pulling out his wand and removing the invisible wall.

This is great, Avery thought, We’re stuck in here with the thief…Oy.

A little after midnight, when the Ravenclaw common room was completely empty, a dark figure was scouring the common room. Under pillows, behind portraits, anywhere the figure could look it did.

It had to be in there.

It just had to. Neither Headmistress Ghast nor Headmistress Danuliete would ever have had the guts to remove it permanently. Therefore, it was somewhere in the commonroom.

It was small. That much was known. It could be anywhere. And He needed it.

Using her wand to help her search, she quickly grew frustrated. Without meaning to, sparks shot out of the end of her wand and set fire to a vase of flowers. Casting a worried glance over the burning chrysanthemums, she shoved her wand back into the pocket of her wand and quickly ran up the stairs towards the dormitories. The search would have to wait until another night.

This disturbance did not go unnoticed by other members of Ravenclaw.

Emmaline Crystalnite, a first year, awoke with a start. Reaching for her watch, she checked the time; it was well after midnight. With a groan, she fell back onto the pillows. Then it hit her. Something was burning.

Practically jumping out of bed, she raced to the common room and saw a vase of flowers on fire. Whispering a spell grandmother had taught her the flame went out. “Akwtas.” Looking around, Emmaline gasped. The common room was ransacked. She did not see anyone, but a familiar-looking object was lying on the ground. It was a wand. Picking it up, she studied it for a moment, and was about to head back to bed when she heard footsteps on the stairs.

Piper Halliwell appeared and gasped at the sight of the destruction. She was followed moments later by another arrival, Brooke de Black.

“What on earth has happened here?” Brooke asked, primarily to Piper. “What have you two been doing?”

It was a slightly accusatory question, but Brooke was disturbed. Nothing like this had ever happened in Ravenclaw and Brooke was concerned both with the damage and with the reputation of their house.

Piper looked back at Brooke. “That’s the thing; I’m as lost as you are, Brooke. I have no clue what happened,” Piper said honestly.

Piper turned curiously to the blonde first year. “You were down here before me. What happened? Did you see anyone, or find any clues as to who had done this? Brooke gave Piper a sharp look, but then sighed. Piper had always been open and honest with her and she believed her now.

So Brooke now turned to look at the first year, rather sternly. It would make more sense that it had something to do with her. Emmaline was, after all, new to the school and such occurrences had never happened before she arrived. Trying to make it easier for her, Brooke said, in what she hoped was a kindly tone, “So what was it Em? Don’t worry if it was an accident; we can fix it no problem.”

Pulling back a tangle of her long, dark hair from her face, Brooke tried to hide a yawn.

But before Emmaline could answer, another gasp echoed from the top of the stairs. It was Gem, who was now surveying Brooke, Piper and Emmaline, as well as the mess, with a look of horror.

“Brookey. What in the God’s names happened?” she asked, still looking around. But Gem did not wait for an answer, or to question the younger years as Brooke had. Instead she crossed the common room, opening the entrance and talking to the stone angel who normally guarded the Ravenclaws. She returned a few moments later, shaking her head dismally. “She hasn’t let anyone in all night,” she declared. “So how did they get in?”

The four girls looked at each other.

“Whoever it is,” reasoned Piper, “seems to be looking for something.” She halted momentarily. “I mean, look— could any of us have made such a mess, even the worst first year?

“Who would want to? And why?” asked Brooke impatiently. It almost physically hurt to see the common room, her home for most of the year, in this terrible state.

Piper continued, “But if someone was looking for something, and they were pretty desperate, well, wouldn’t they would be more likely to tear our commonroom apart? And you can’t disapparate, so whoever did this still has to be in the school.”

Gem looked at Piper, and then added, “The Stone Angel hasn’t let anyone out or in. So they still have to be in Ravenclaw somewhere. I suggest we wake Professor Mayvero. If this desperate person is looking for something, there’s no telling what they would do to get whatever it is.”

Calmly, Gem studied the burns. “We should leave these here; they might be evidence, or something. I’ll go get Mayvero.”

Gem knocked on Mayvero’s door loudly, hoping to wake her up without having to go in. There was a mumble from inside and someone opened the door.

“Yes?” Professor Mayvero opened the door, yawning. Her white night gown whispered around her, its hem not covering bare ankles and feet. Flattened curls hung limply around her face, a testimony of slumber. “What is it, Gem?” she asked.

Then her eyes traveled behind the seventh year, to the ransacked room and the black remains of the flowers. Professor Mayvero noticeably tensed. Stepping out of her room, she closed the door behind her. The lock clicked in place and she turned to study Gem again. “A better question. Do you know what has happened?”

“Good question.” Serenity stood at the bottom of the stairs, her hair in a messy braid down her back and rubbing sleep from her eyes. She surveyed the mess with an inquisitive look. Her eyes lighted on something in Emmaline’s hands.

“What are you doing with my wand?” she demanded shrilly, grabbing the piece of ebony wood and holding it protectively against her chest. She was very attached to her wand. “I’ve been looking for it for hours! I was beginning to think someone had stolen it!”

“Ach, what confusion. We shall get this sorted out.” Mayvero touched her door again, which promptly swung open. It was clearly enchanted with coded magic, which would recognize only her hand or wand. For a moment sounds could be heard as she rummaged around, apparently looking for something. A small cry of triumph echoed out as she found it, then appeared back in the doorway carrying a tray with steaming mugs of cocoa topped with whipped cream.

Gliding over, she set the tray on a small table, then pointed her wand at the dying fire in the grate.

“Accendium.” The fire rekindled, merry flames lighting up the common room. A few more quick flicks of her wand, and the charred flowers disappeared, a few items of overturned furniture righted themselves, and most of the mess moved to one corner.

“Now, shall we discuss this comfortably? Cocoa anyone?” Mayvero smiled, taking a seat in one of the chairs herself, and folding her feet under her for warmth. The smile was not real, however. This was not the first attack on the school, although everyone hoped it would be the last.

“Has anyone asked the Angel if she let anybody in?” Mayvero asked suddenly, with a glance towards the door. She had that look you get when a horrible thought has just occurred to you.

Gem answered, “Yes, I asked her if she’d let anyone in or out.” She shook her head. “No one.”

Mayvero looked relieved at the news, but her fears soon caught back up with her. This meant that the criminal was not an evil outsider, some unidentifiable enemy. If nobody outside of Ravenclaw had entered, it meant that the perpetrator was a Ravenclaw.

“Then think that this must have been done by someone from Ravenclaw,” she said hesitantly.

Everyone looked around nervously. It was not a pleasant thought.

“A Ravenclaw, Professor?” asked Gem. She thought for a moment. Who in Ravenclaw would do such a thing of their own free will?

“I don’t think it’s someone from Ravenclaw, Professor. I don’t think anyone could…” She trailed off, hoping against all hope that she was right.

“I don’t either, Gem. That’s the problem.” The Professor sighed. She allowed her gaze to wander around the common room, trying to imagine who could have done it.

In her mind, Elionwy sifted through the Ravenclaw student list. Brian Limey liked pranks, but she doubted very much that he was responsible for this much destruction. Gem, Brooke, Ariella and Serenity were obviously excluded, as the older and most responsible members of Ravenclaw. Piper was too concerned with the issue to have done it herself. Then there were the first years, being new to the school made them obvious suspects. Yet this type of thorough search seemed beyond a joke, and would they even know enough magic to do this? Surely not. How could it be anybody from Ravenclaw? As Gem had said, no Ravenclaw would do this of their own free will.

“We don’t know enough to judge momentarily,” Elionwy said finally, “Just keep your ears open. Perhaps this was only a mistake, a spell gone wrong. It is possible. Right now the only thing we can do is go about business as usual.”

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