Harry Potter and the Byzantine Crystal
This story was originally published in September 2004 and published on the now-defunct pottersplace.org.uk
Compared to the previous four years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, this year was turning out to be somewhat uneventful. For Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, three students who seemed to have a knack for ending up in the thick of anything that happened, it was especially quiet, but all of the students felt this year was rapidly becoming rather dull. Fred and George Weasley had been up to their usual shenanigans of course. At one point they tricked Neville Longbottom into eating a Helium Float Chew – sweets, which caused you to keep floating up and up– and he was left banging his head on the enchanted ceiling in the Great Hall. Even more unfortunate, for Neville at least, was that no one could remember the spell to get him down (except Fred and George, but they were nowhere to be found). It took nearly two hours for the effect to wear off.
The inter-house Quidditch Cup was the only thing that broke the monotony of school life. Gryffindor were unbeaten and on course to retain the Cup that they’d won two years earlier. Gryffindor were firmly ahead in the House Cup too. This was due to the fact that neither Harry, Ron nor Hermione had been given the opportunity to get into trouble, so Gryffindor hadn’t lost as many points as usual. And without any disruptions, all three of them were getting good grades, instead of just Hermione.
The lack of news meant that the first years were subjected to endless retellings of the amazing events that had taken place over the previous few years. They made up for the lack of excitement by staring at the legendary Harry Potter, much to Harry’s annoyance (he thought it was like having a whole year full of Colin Creevey’s). Many of the first years had their doubts about the stories because they seemed so at odds with what was happening this year.
It was fair to say that everyone was yearning for a bit of excitement, but no one could have guessed where it was to come from.
The last person to start their schooling at Hogwarts late, was Billy Jameson in 1253. He had been living with his father, a mile underwater, near the mid-Atlantic ridge, but no one knew exactly where. This was compounded by the local Halibut Mail Service being out on strike, due to a misunderstanding about pay and conditions. Even then, Billy was only a month late starting. For someone to start mid-way through the fifth year, was not only unheard of, but was almost unthinkable. Due to an absence of any other news, this rapidly became the talk of the school.
Everyone was trying to guess the reason behind the lateness of her admittance. Amy Patterson then, found herself to be the centre of attention for the whole school upon her entry into Hogwarts.
She fielded the questions about who she was, where she was from, what her star-sign was, and – the one the boys all wanted to know – what Quidditch team she supported, with seemingly inexhaustible patience. The question she was asked the most though, was: ‘Why were you admitted so late?’
The answer was simple: her parents had lived in a remote part of Outer Mongolia and had had no contact with anyone since before she was born. Nobody but her parents knew she existed, hence, no invite to Hogwarts. The first people, besides her parents, to know she existed, were a couple of travelling wizards who happened across the family by chance.
After seeing the uproar that Amy’s admittance was causing, Harry decided that it was his responsibility to make her feel welcome. He painfully remembered what it was like to have people stop and stare at you in the corridors, as many had taken to doing when they saw Amy, and thought that he could help.
Harry was on his way to dinner when he spotted Amy in the corridor, walking alone.
‘Amy–,’ he called.
She turned and saw him, then waited as he hurried to catch up.
‘How about sitting with Hermione, Ron and me at dinner tonight? We’re in the same house, and the same year, so we should be able to answer any questions you have.’ He added: ‘I thought it might make a change from being asked them all the time.’
Amy smiled. ‘Okay.’
They headed into the Great Hall and found Ron and Hermione, who were already seated at the Gryffindor table.
‘Hi,’ said Ron, chirpily, as Amy and Harry sat down. Hermione didn’t say anything, just nodded.
‘I asked Amy to sit with us as I know what being the centre of attention’s like and I thought we might act a little less… peculiar, than the others.’
‘It is a bit unnerving trying to eat while people are staring at you,’ admitted Amy.
Just then, the empty plates before them filled with food of all sorts, so they began tucking in.
‘So, ‘ow are you findin’ schoo’ ‘ife so ‘ar?’ asked Harry, with a mouthful of mashed potatoes.
‘It’s a bit strange actually. My parents have taught me everything I know so I’m not used to lessons, or teachers, or timetables –’
‘Or other people,’ said Ron, interrupting. He looked at the shocked faces of the others and suddenly realised that what he’d said didn’t convey exactly what he’d meant. He quickly added: ‘Coming from Outer Mongolia, I mean.’ He turned slightly pink. Amy looked at him, smiled and then shyly looked away.
They all chatted away over dinner, trading stories and tidbits about each other’s lives; all except Hermione, who didn’t say a word. Harry raised this with Ron when they were back in the common room, away from the girls.
‘Don’t you think it’s strange that Hermione didn’t say a word?’ asked Harry.
‘A bloody miracle more like! Normally you can’t get a word in edgeways!’
‘Exactly, so why didn’t she say anything, all through dinner?’
‘Blowed if I know,’ said Ron. ‘Amy seemed nice,’ he added.
‘Hmm,’ replied Harry, who was deep in thought, and not really listening.
Harry noticed a trend over the next month: every time they met Amy, Hermione wouldn’t say a thing; as soon as Amy went, Hermione returned to normal. He also noticed something else: Ron had definitely taken a liking to Amy. He never missed a chance to bring her up in conversation. While Harry was contemplating the two different trends, the first Hogsmeade weekend of the year was announced.
Hogsmeade trips always generated immense excitement. It was hard to say whether it was the opportunity to spend all their hard-saved pocket money on the many treats in Honeydukes; on the Butterbeers in the Three Broomsticks; or simply the chance to get away from Hogwarts, that made the trips so desirable. Everyone was on their best behaviour, to avoid getting banned from the trip (some people believed that the only reason there were Hogsmeade trips was in order to get the pupils to behave). Snape was particularly vigilant when the chance to ban someone from Hogsmeade presented itself. When he finally caught someone – Fred and George Weasley – he was extremely pleased. Fred and George acted disappointed, but they visited Hogsmeade regularly via the network of secret tunnels they knew, so they weren’t really bothered. What nobody knew, was that they wanted to stay behind; with so few people in Hogwarts, they were free to set up all sorts of tricks, ready for when everyone else returned.
The weekend of the trip seemed to take an age to come, but the day finally arrived and half the school headed off into the weak winter sunshine for a few hours of freedom (Fred and George, meanwhile, set about laying all sorts of booby traps, ready for their return). Harry was so glad that Sirius Black, his godfather, had given him written permission to go on these trips. He was equally glad Hogwarts upheld it, what with his uncle being on the run, albeit for a crime he didn’t commit. Harry knew there was no way he would have got permission from the Dursley’s, and he would miss these trips enormously.
Everyone was in high spirits as they arrived in Hogsmeade. Amy had asked if she could accompany Harry, Ron and Hermione on the trip, they had all agreed she could; Ron a little too enthusiastically, Hermione thought.
Once they had all stocked up on as many Chocoballs, Fizzing Whizzbees, and anything else they could carry, in both Honeydukes sweet shop and Zonko’s Joke Shop, they headed for the village pub, the Three Broomsticks. Just before they went inside, however, Harry noticed a very shifty looking Snape, who had accompanied them on the trip (somewhat of an oddity in itself, considering how much he hated seeing anyone enjoying themselves), sneaking away from the town.
‘What do you think Snape’s up to?’ asked Harry, pointing him out, somewhat suspicious.
‘I don’t know, but I think we should find out,’ replied Ron.
They headed off after him, being careful not to be seen by Snape, or the rest of the students.
They’d followed Snape for about half a mile when they lost him; it was like he’d just vanished. They all assumed he’d Disapparated, a means of travelling instantaneously from one point to another that could only be used by wizards with a special licence. They were about to head back, when Amy noticed something shiny behind some bushes. It turned out to be a silver button, inscribed with the Hogwarts logo, that must have been dropped by Snape. It lay in front of a cave entrance that was hidden by bushes from the path they’d followed.
Harry and Ron immediately started for the cave entrance, but stopped when Hermione cried: ‘Wait, we can’t go in there!’
‘Why not?’ replied the boys, almost in unison.
‘There’s only one way in and out, Snape’s bound to spot us.’
‘Hermione’s right, I don’t think we could get in and out without being seen, and we’ve got no idea what’s inside,’ added Amy.
Ron and Harry stared at the girls for a moment, then looked at each other, before Ron turned to the girls and said: ‘Fine, you stay here.’
The boys turned and headed into the cave; they were about five yards inside when they heard the girls stumbling after them.
It became gradually darker in the cave as they moved deeper inside; they illuminated their wands to help them find their way. The cave became more of a tunnel, which led deeper into the hillside. It wasn’t long before faint noises could be heard from deeper inside. The four of them quickened their pace, trying hard not to make any noise, and strained to see or hear anything ahead of them. Rounding a sharp bend in the tunnel, the group saw a faint glow ahead, which got steadily brighter as they slowly made their way closer. They extinguished their wands and quietly made their way behind a rock outcrop that jutted up from the cave floor. Slowly, carefully, they peered over the top of it. What they saw nearly struck them dumb.
Ahead of them was a large cavern, filled with a collection of test tubes, pipes, beakers and other equipment, all spread out over various worktables that seemed to have grown up from the rocky cavern floor. If that wasn’t enough, bustling about in between the equipment were Death Eaters, recognisable by the long black robes and masks they wore. Harry, Ron and Hermione had all seen Death Eaters before; Harry vividly remembered his last meeting with them at the conclusion of the Triwizard Tournament the previous year.
Two of the Death Eaters were stood around an empty worktable towards the middle of the cavern, where several odd-shaped transparent shards lay. Listening with all their might, they were able to hear what the Death Eaters were talking about, over the noise of the equipment.
‘We must get the last piece soon, we cannot afford to waste anymore time,’ said the one on the right.
‘But we dare not proceed with Dumbledore present.’
‘I don’t care for excuses. Lure Dumbledore away, then grab the remaining shard.’
‘That is easier said, than done.’
‘Would you care to tell Lord Voldemort that?’
The other Death Eater lowered and shook his head. The hearts of the entire group jumped at the mention of Voldemort’s name.
‘I want no more excuses,’ said the Death Eater on the right. ‘I’ve promised to have this elixir ready in two days. Lord Voldemort wishes to be completely immortal before he begins his campaign. We need the Byzantine Crystal, in its entirety, to complete the potion he requires. Now get me that last shard!’
Hermione whispered, ‘I think it’s time we–’
Harry looked over to see why she hadn’t finished her sentence and found her staring, wide-eyed, behind them. Harry looked back to find two Death Eaters approaching them. They’d been spotted.
‘Run,’ yelled Harry.
Ron turned to see what was going on, but before any of them had a chance to move, they heard someone cast an impediment curse. Harry, Ron and Hermione thought they were done for. It was only when the Death Eaters had stopped moving that they realised the curse had come from Amy.
‘Come on,’ she yelled, waving the others towards the tunnel entrance. They weren’t waiting for a second invitation, and began to run back down the tunnel, following Amy.
‘They’re after us,’ yelled Hermione, glimpsing the pursuing Death Eaters while glancing over her shoulder. Amy stopped abruptly.
‘Keep going,’ she yelled to the others. She let them pass her, then raised her wand and muttered something. The roof of the tunnel exploded, causing a cave-in between her and the Death Eaters who were giving chase. She turned and ran after the others.
They didn’t stop running until they were safely in Hogsmeade. They charged into the Three Broomsticks and found a quiet corner in the back. Panting heavily from the exertion, they sat in a stunned silence, looking at one another.
‘Tell me that didn’t just happen,’ said Harry, finally.
‘It happened, it happened,’ replied a wide-eyed Ron.
‘Who are you, really?’ said Hermione, aiming the question at Amy.
‘What do you mean?’ replied Amy.
‘You didn’t panic once back there; you had that binding spell off before those Death Eaters had taken a step; and just how often do you need explosive spells in Outer Mongolia?’
‘What are you saying?’ asked Amy.
‘She’s saying: either tell us who you are, or get away from us,’ added Harry, who was beginning to understand what Hermione was getting at.
For what seemed like an eternity, Amy just sat there, looking at the rest of the group. Eventually she said: ‘Fine, but this goes no further, promise.’
The others all nodded.
‘I am Amy Patterson, but I’m not from Outer Mongolia. My parents belong to a group of wizards called the Circle of Light. It’s an elite group of wizards, who have undergone special training. It was set up so that, in the event the Death Eaters returned, there would be somebody capable of standing up to them, capable of giving everyone hope. As my parents were part of the group, I was automatically drafted, and I’ve been given special training too.’
‘That still doesn’t explain why you’re here,’ said Hermione, determined not to make this easy for Amy.
‘I’m here, because we heard rumours that the Death Eaters were in the area, and it was feared that they might be after Harry. I was sent in, with Dumbledore’s permission, to watch over him.’
The others sat in stunned silence.
‘Now it seems the Death Eaters aren’t after Harry, but the last shard of the Byzantine Crystal instead. Something that would enable You-Know-Who to become completely invincible,’ she paused briefly to let the group take this in. ‘I think we should go to Dumbledore, immediately.’
The others all nodded. They got up and headed back to Hogwarts.
As they walked through the main gate, they saw Snape heading towards them. They were just looking for somewhere to hide when Snape shouted: ‘You four, come here.’
They thought about running for it, but Snape was almost on them.
‘I’ve got a little job for you.’
‘Sir, we really need to see Professor Dumbledore, can it wait until afterwards?’ asked Harry.
‘What is so urgent that it cannot wait?’
None of them answered.
‘Well then, obviously you do have time. Mr Filch is having problems with an infestation of Boggarts. Normally the house-elves would help, but half of them have come down with Romanian ‘flu, and the rest are busy preparing lunch. You’ll find Mr Filch in the Dungeons.’
‘Well, what are you waiting for?’
‘Yes, sir,’ they replied, despondently.
As they made their way to the Dungeons, the conversation turned to Snape.
‘He’s obviously trying to stall us from getting to Dumbledore. I don’t care what anyone says, once a Death Eater, always a Death Eater,’ said Ron.
‘I agree,’ said Amy.
‘But he’s working for our side now. Dumbledore vouched for him personally,’ said Hermione.
Harry said nothing, he was thinking back to the night when Voldemort paraded him in front of all the Death Eaters. Snape wasn’t one of them, but it was easy to imagine him in the dark robe and mask.
It took over an hour to sort out all the Boggarts. When they’d finished, they rushed to Professor Dumbledore’s office.
‘I’m afraid the Professor is not here, he’s been asked to stand in for an absent speaker at the Magic Eye convention. It’s a very prestigious honour. Even if it was because one of the original speakers had dropped out,’ Professor McGonagall told them.
The group headed back down the hall, toward the Gryffindor dorms.
‘It’s got to be a play to get Dumbledore away from Hogwarts,’ said Harry, expressing what they all felt.
‘We need to find the last shard before the Death Eaters do,’ said Amy.
‘But how on Earth are we going to find it in Hogwarts? This place is enormous,’ replied Ron.
They all thought in silence as they walked.
‘Simple,’ said Harry, raising his eyebrows, ‘we’ll ask Fred and George.’
There wasn’t much that went on in Hogwarts that Fred and George didn’t know about, less still were the number of things within its walls that they hadn’t seen. So when Harry and the others found them in the Gryffindor common room, it wasn’t surprising that they thought they had the answer.
‘Well, it was a couple of months ago when we came across a room we’d been in before, and found it locked,’ said Fred.
‘Not just locked mind,’ added George, ‘it was sealed tight with some sort of spell. One so strong that Fred and I have tried everything we can think of to open it, but we haven’t been able to budge it.’
‘What was in the room when you could get into it?’ asked Amy.
‘Nothing much, it was just a storage room. George and I were planning on using it for a little storage of our own.’ A big grin spread across both their faces.
‘I’m not even going to ask,’ said Hermione, rolling her eyes.
The twins chuckled.
‘Can you take us to it?’ asked Harry.
‘Sure,’ replied Fred, ‘assuming it hasn’t moved again.’
The room turned out to be exactly where they’d left it. Everyone stood guard, while Hermione tried all the opening and unlocking spells she knew on the door. When she’d exhausted her supply, she turned to Amy: ‘Do you know any others?’
‘Maybe one or two, you know most of the ones I do.’
If the situation weren’t so important, Hermione would have allowed herself a moment of satisfaction; happy knowing that Amy didn’t know that much more than she did. When Amy finished trying, the door was still locked.
‘So much for all that training,’ she said.
‘There’s no more we can do today,’ said Harry. ‘It’ll be time for dinner soon anyway, they’ll be questions asked if we miss it.’
‘We need to go to the library and see if we can figure out a way to open that door,’ said Hermione.
‘Okay, we’ll head straight there after dinner,’ replied Harry.
As the group made their way back to the common room, their heads were swimming with thoughts on how to open the door, and what might be behind it. Hermione turned to Amy.
‘Can you teach me some of the extra spells you know?’
‘Sure,’ said Amy, brightening. ‘On one condition.’
‘You teach me how to put my hair into different styles.’
Hermione stared at her in disbelief; Amy looked sheepish.
‘We never really bothered with things like that where I come from,’ she said, by way of an explanation.
‘No problem,’ said Hermione, beaming a smile.
They were all in the library the following day, scouring numerous books for any spells or charms that might unlock the door. Harry was sat at a table with Ron and Amy, flicking through 1001 Useful Spells, when Hermione appeared from another part of the library at a near run. She stopped in front of the group, but was practically hopping from one foot to another, and was gasping so fast that they thought she was having some sort of fit.
‘I figured it out,’ she said, managing to keep her excitement from spilling over into hysteria, but in a voice a little loud for the library. She didn’t say anymore, just stood bouncing about, barely able to contain herself.
‘Well, what are you waiting for, a drum roll? Spit it out,’ hissed Ron, trying to keep his voice low.
‘We were all looking for an unlocking spell, right?’ The others nodded. ‘But it suddenly occurred to me that there is another possibility.’ The others looked on patiently. ‘It could be a reflection charm.’
‘A what?’ said Ron.
‘Well, what if the door was locked, then a spell put on it to reflect any spells thrown at it? The door would appear locked, and any wizard or witch would assume it was locked using magic. When their spells failed, they would put it down to a strong charm.’
The others just sat there for a second.
‘So what do we do, blast it open?’ said Ron, remembering Amy’s spell in the tunnel.
‘No, that would simply be reflected as well, but I’ve found out how to remove the reflection charm,’ said Hermione.
‘Hermione, you’re a genius,’ cried Harry, causing several people nearby to look up from their books. ‘Let’s go try it.’
They abandoned their books where they lay, and headed for the sealed room, trying to make sure that no one had seen, or followed, them.
When they got to the right door, they took a few minutes to assure themselves they were completely alone. Only when they were all satisfied did Harry say: ‘All yours, Hermione.’
Hermione took out her wand and stood squarely in front of the door. ‘Lichtisium Negatum,’ she announced, waving her wand. Nothing seemed to happen. She turned to the others.
‘Now let’s see if it’ll unlock.’ She looked a little tense as she waved her wand again, announcing, ‘Alohomora.’ They were all relieved to hear the satisfying ‘clunk’ of the door unlocking.
‘Hermione, you are a genius,’ cried Ron. Amy grinned at her, and Hermione instantly flushed pink.
Harry opened the door and, with one last look up and down the corridor, the group stepped inside.
They found themselves in a small room, lit by a few candles, lined from floor to ceiling with shelves. The shelves were filled with all sorts of crystals, ranging from the size of a pea, to the size of a bludger. They were all colourless, like a diamond, and they were all odd shapes.
‘Great,’ said Ron.
‘This could take a while,’ added Harry.
They both started towards the shelf on the back wall.
‘Wait a second,’ said Hermione. ‘While I was researching the charm for the door, I had a quick look at some stuff on the Byzantine Crystal. One of its unique qualities is that if you expose it to sunlight, it will retain the sun’s rays for a short time afterwards.’
‘So, all we have to do,’ said Amy, ‘is conjure some sunlight, then switch off all the lights and it should glow?’
‘Exactly,’ said Hermione.
They blew out all the candles, and Hermione said, ‘Lumos.’ The light from the end of her wand was blinding in the confined space of the cupboard. She said, ‘Nox,’ and the light went out. In the darkness that followed, there was a pinprick of light, like a star in the night sky, in the direction of the far wall.
‘I’ll get it,’ said Ron.
‘No, let me,’ said Harry.
There was a dull ‘thud’ as they bumped into each other in the total darkness and fell to the floor.
‘Lumos,’ said Amy. In the light from her wand she could see the two boys, heaped on the floor, rubbing their heads. ‘Never mind, I’ll get it.’
She stepped over the two boys to get to the correct shelf, extinguished the light on her wand and, for a second, it looked like the star began to float up off the shelf. ‘Lumos,’ she said again, and she showed them the crystal shard.
‘Now, let’s get out of here,’ said Hermione.
As they left, Hermione locked the door and recast the reflecting charm. They headed back to the Gryffindor dorms.
‘So, what do we do with it now?’ asked Ron.
‘We hide it some place safe,’ said Harry.
‘Or we could destroy it,’ said Amy.
The others stopped and looked at her.
She shrugged, ‘It would put it beyond Voldemort’s reach forever.’
Ron cringed at the mention of You-Know-Who’s name. ‘Can it be destroyed?’ he asked.
‘I’m not certain, I think so. I think Hermione and I should be able to find a way.’
‘Do it,’ said Harry. ‘We’ll hide it for now, but we may need to destroy it at some point.’
The girls headed off toward the library.
‘Right, we need to hide this,’ said Harry, gesturing at the crystal shard that Amy had given him.
Suddenly a big smile came over Ron’s face. ‘I’ve got just the place, follow me.’ He started off down the corridor.
After stashing the crystal shard, Ron and Harry headed to the library. The girls were tucked away in one of the far corners of the library. The boys hurried over and sat down.
‘Any luck?’ said Harry, keeping his voice low to avoid being overheard.
‘It took a bit of digging, but I think we’ve found what we’re looking for,’ replied Amy.
‘Good. Ron and I have hidden the shard.’
‘Where?’ asked Hermione.
‘Oh, somewhere no one will ever find it,’ said Ron, beaming with pride.
‘Ain’t that the truth,’ said Harry, looking at him in amazement.
‘So what now, we just wait?’ asked Hermione.
‘We need to keep watch, the Death Eaters are bound to make a move with Dumbledore gone,’ said Harry.
‘But what about classes?’ asked Hermione.
‘I think it’s unlikely they’ll come during the day; the chances of them being spotted are way too high, and there are too many factors for them to contend with. We should keep watch at night though,’ said Amy.
That night, Harry lay in his four-poster bed, fully clothed. They had agreed to meet back down in the common room at midnight, believing it would be empty by then, which would make sneaking out easier. Harry restlessly checked his watch for the hundredth time, but it didn’t seemed to be getting any closer to midnight. All he could think about was his last encounter with the Death Eaters, and how he had only just managed to get away. He wasn’t eager to face them again, but he knew he must.
Finally, midnight arrived and both he and Ron went down to the common room. The girls appeared a minute or so after them, and they all headed out of the portrait hole.
They’d all agreed that the best place to see as much of the grounds as possible was from one of the many towers. They’d decided to use the astronomy tower that Harry, Ron and Hermione had used when they smuggled Norbert the dragon out of Hogwarts in the first year. Sneaking up and back was the most difficult bit; as there were four of them, they couldn’t use the invisibility cloak and had to trust to luck that they wouldn’t run into Filch or Mrs Norris.
They made it up on top of the tower without being spotted. They all stayed awake as long as they could, but they decided to take it in turns to keep watch when none of them could keep their eyes open. The night passed without incident.
The following day was a struggle; all four of them nodded off at various points. During lunch, Harry was talking to Ron, but when he looked up, he found him sound asleep, leaning on his arm, with a half-eaten sausage in his mouth. None of them were looking forward to another night of watching, but they had no choice.
Harry had to wake Ron, who had fallen asleep in his bed waiting for midnight to arrive, before they headed up to the top of the tower. In order that they at least get some sleep, it’d been decided that they would take it in turns to do an hour’s watch each.
It was the middle of Harry’s second watch (having volunteered for the first because he couldn’t stop thinking about the Death Eaters and knew he wouldn’t sleep), and he was having trouble keeping his eyes open. Then, just before his eyes closed again, he thought he saw something. He was suddenly wide-awake. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen something that night, so he stared intently at the spot where he’d seen movement. Then he saw it. There was a lone figure, dressed in a black hooded cloak, quite close to the school. The figure stood, waiting for a second, before waving towards the Forbidden Forest. As Harry watched, another figure appeared at the edge of the trees. It left the forest and, keeping low, walked quickly across the lawn in the direction of the first figure, followed by three others. Harry sat, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, and suddenly the words ‘Death Eaters’ leapt into his mind.
He raced over to the others and shook them awake, trying to be as quiet as possible. When everyone was awake, he said: ‘They’re here.’ The others were suddenly wide-awake too.
‘What should we do?’ asked Hermione.
‘We could just leave them, when they can’t find the shard, they’ll leave,’ said Ron.
‘And keep coming back until they do find it,’ said Amy, shaking her head. ‘We have to try and catch them.’
None of them wanted to go down there, they all knew that, but one by one they nodded in agreement.
Slowly and carefully, they made their way downstairs. They tried to be as silent as possible as they approached the room. Hushed voices could be heard ahead of them; the Death Eaters were in the room. As they got closer a Death Eater was visible in the doorway to the room, but there was no sign of the others. They must be inside, thought Harry.
He felt someone tap his shoulder and he nearly hit the ceiling he jumped so high; it was Hermione, she was gesturing something. It took Harry a moment to realise she was suggesting they lock the Death Eaters in. Harry nodded his agreement. Hermione indicated that she wanted Ron and Harry to push the remaining Death Eater into the room, Amy to slam the door shut, and finally, she would cast a spell to lock it.
Slowly, they crept up to within a few yards of the room, they all looked to Hermione, who nodded, and the plan went into action. Harry and Ron charged forward and slammed into the Death Eater’s back before he had time to react to their footsteps. They barely made it out of the way before Amy shoved the door closed and Hermione sealed it.
‘Do you think that’ll hold them?’ asked Ron.
There was a heavy thump against the door.
‘No,’ said Amy. ‘I think we’d better destroy the shard. Where did you hide it?’
‘Follow me,’ cried Ron, before shooting off down the corridor. The others charged after him and, just as they rounded a corner on their way to the Entrance Hall, they heard a large explosion.
‘I think it’s safe to assume they’re out of the room,’ shouted Amy, as they ran.
Harry looked at the bemused faces of Amy and Hermione.
‘What?’ asked Ron, shrugging.
‘You hid the last fragment of the Byzantine Crystal, something we’ve risked our lives to protect, in the bottom of a Usainade pen!’ exclaimed Hermione.
‘Yep,’ said Ron, puffing out his chest proudly.
‘You’ve got to admit,’ said Amy, staring at one of the pig-like creatures in the pen and raising her eyebrows, ‘it’s the last place anyone would look for it.’
‘Stop worrying about where we hid it, and hurry up and destroy it. Those Death Eaters can’t be far behind,’ said Harry.
‘Okay,’ replied Amy, ‘put it on the floor and form a circle around it.’ They all did as they were told. Amy raised her hands, her wand in one. Hermione, who was standing opposite her, did the same.
They began muttering words that neither Harry nor Ron could understand. The shard started to glow, and a wind suddenly began encircling them, causing dead leaves and grass to swirl around them. Amy and Hermione began to chant louder and louder, but Harry and Ron could barely hear them over the noise of the tempest they were generating.
Harry was looking from Amy to Hermione and back again; he looked like a spectator at a tennis match. Then something caught his eye. There was some sort of movement behind Ron’s head. Harry screwed up his eyes and tilted his head to get a better look. The movement was caused by several Death Eaters, all running straight toward them.
‘You might want to hurry,’ yelled Harry, trying to make himself heard over the noise. He indicated the Death Eaters with a nod of his head. Ron looked over his shoulder, when he looked back his eyes were wide.
‘You definitely should hurry,’ he yelled.
The girls didn’t seem to hear them – actually they just ignored them – and carried on with the incantation. Harry kept his eyes fixed on the approaching Death Eaters. He wished the girls would hurry.
He was beginning to think it was too late when both Amy and Hermione raised their wands and flicked them at the shard. What happened next seemed to take everyone by surprise; everything went into slow motion. The crystal shard went dark, it seemed to stay that way for some time (although it was actually less than a second) before it exploded into a thousand tiny, bright sparkles, like distant stars. The explosion sent everyone flying, including the Death Eaters.
Ron was first up. Looking around, he saw Harry and Hermione hauling themselves to their feet. He headed over to Amy, and took one of her arms, helping her to her feet.
‘You okay?’ he asked.
‘Uh-huh,’ said Amy, nodding. She was still a little unsteady on her feet. Her gaze fixed on something. She whispered: ‘They’re still coming.’
Ron didn’t understand at first, but he followed her gaze and saw them: the Death Eaters were up, and headed straight for them. Ron stood as tall as he could, took his wand from his robes, raised it and let loose a curse. One of the Death Eaters fell to the ground. Amy cast her own curse and another Death Eater fell to the ground. Ron was just preparing to cast his next curse when he saw one of the Death Eaters raise his wand towards Amy. He dived sideways, knocking Amy to the ground with him, but the Death Eater had already cast his spell. It hit Ron in mid-air, his world went dark and quiet.
‘Ron– Ron– are you all right?’ cried Amy, shaking his limp body.
Harry looked over at the sound of Amy shouting, he saw Ron lying lifeless. Anger swept through him, he raised his wand, determined to get as many Death Eaters as he could, for Ron’s sake.
‘Haaallt,’ yelled a voice. The word hung in the cold night air.
Everyone froze. Harry knew who the voice belonged to, but he barely believed it. He looked around, and then he saw the owner of the voice standing on the steps of Hogwarts; Dumbledore was standing on the steps of Hogwarts.
But he wasn’t alone, with him were all the other teachers, all of whom had a look on their faces that Harry had never seen before. He guessed it meant trouble for the Death Eaters though, and they seemed to realise that, because before anyone had a chance to move, the remaining Death Eaters split and ran, vanishing into the Forbidden Forest.
Harry felt a wave of relief come over him, then he thought of Ron and rushed over to his fallen friend.
Several days later and the sun was shining brightly over Hogwarts, it beamed in through the windows of the Hospital Wing. Ron woke, blinking hard against the pain the bright sunlight was causing. He propped himself up on his elbows. After his eyes had adjusted to the light level, he realised where he was. Looking around he saw Harry, Amy and Hermione sat at a table across the room from his bed, playing a game of some sort. He almost leapt out of bed with joy to see them all safe. Then he felt the tiredness, mixed with a dull pain, throughout his body.
‘Hey guys,’ he said, weakly.
The others looked over at him; not sure whether he’d said something, or they’d just imagined it. When it registered that he was leaning up, with his eyes open, they all jumped up and charged over to his bed, their game instantly forgotten.
‘Ron, Ron, you’re all right,’ cried Hermione.
‘Of course I’m all right. What happened, what am I doing here?’
‘Don’t you remember, you were hit by one of the Death Eaters’ curses,’ replied Hermione.
Amy leant over and kissed him on the cheek. Ron blushed, but asked: ‘What was that for?’
‘You saved me. That Death Eater was aiming at me,’ she replied, smiling shyly.
‘Thankfully Dumbledore was on hand, not only to get rid of the Death Eaters, but also to help cure you. No one was sure you’d pull through at first,’ said Harry.
‘What, and miss all the victory celebrations? No chance,’ Ron grinned.
‘Now, now children. Mr Weasley needs his rest, off you go,’ said Madam Pomfrey, ushering them out of the room.
‘Amy,’ said Ron, while the others headed off.
She turned and looked at him.
‘Will you go to the Spring Prom with me?’
She smiled. ‘I’d love to.’
As she turned and headed out after the others. Ron felt himself grinning so much that he was sure he’d pull a muscle. Perhaps this was going to be a good year after all, he thought.