Dan and Cissy left Bobby and the library behind and headed off through the castle. As they headed up the stairs, they heard talking from above. Topping the stairs, they saw Professors Snape and McGonagall, Mr. Filch, and an assortment of prefects. The hallway was a mess of debris. Chunks of rock and dust were everywhere. Mrs. Norris was walking around what appeared to be most of a porcelain toilet. Closer to the stairs was what appeared to be several shards of a wooden door or doors.
“What is that paper Professor Snape is waving around?”
Danny looked at Snape and realized he had one of the pantry maps. As they drew closer, they could hear him speaking, shaking the map clutched tight in his fist. “… and these maps, created by two of the worst hooligans that have ever walked the halls of Hogwarts, posses some of the exact same enchantments that were used in this heinous act!”
Professor McGonagall was growing tired of of Snape’s grandstanding. “Severius, just tell us who you suspect!”
“Very well, Professor,” sneered the potions master. “The perpetrators are none other than Daniel DuMorne and Orlando MacFoozle.”
“BUM BUM BUM!” whispered Dan as he turned to Cissy.
She looked at him with concern. “Did you and Lando really do this?”
Before Dan could answer, Snape spotted them. “There’s DuMorne! Come to look over your handiwork?”Snape hissed. “Impress your little girlfriend? Prefects, do your duty! Apprehend him!” The assembled prefects looked at one another, then started toward Danny.
“Uh Danny, what are they talking about?”
Danny swallowed hard. “A’dinniekin. But if Snape’s after me, don’t think I want to stay around.” Grabbing Cissy’s hand, he pulled her down the debris-laden passageway toward the stairs.
Laun was uneasy with all of this. Yes, Dan could be something of a troublemaker but not like this…right? He was filled with confusion but he went off with his fellow prefects if for no other reason than to make sure he found them before the more aggressive zealous mob.
Dan drug Cissy around the corner, toward the statue of Boris the Bewildered. An idea formed in his mind, and he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a monogrammed handkerchief. As they reached the statue, he tossed it down the hall leading toward the Gryffindor common room and then bolted for the stairs. Glancing at the bewildered Cissy, he explained. “They saw you with me. Maybe we kin decoy ’em inta thinkin’ we were hiding out in yuir common room.”
Laun just barely caught a glimpse of Cissy’s hair as she disappeared out of sight before his fellow prefects caught up with him, His sister in particular was hot on their heels; not having had much exciting to do this year, she was all revved up for the chase and eventual punishments. Laun had seen them throw the handkerchief and took a deep breath before giving his best faux vindictive shout:
“THEY’RE HEADED FOR THE FAT LADY!” He screamed and pointed towards the Gryffindor common room. After a moment’s hesitation the other prefects flew down that hallway. He took a breath and ran after Cissy and Dan in the other direction.
Running down the stairs to the fourth floor, Dan pulled a Knut out of his pocket. Cupping it close to his mouth, he whispered “A knut to plot and scheme with Foozle.” He then shoved the copper piece in his ear. Cissy gave him a strange look. “It lets me talk to yuir brother or Lando. A long story. I’ll explain later.”
“Whatever,” she said, with a roll of her eyes and a grin. “Where to now?”
Dan skidded to a halt in front of a large mirror. He grinned. “No one will think ‘o lookin’ here.” He opened the mirror and pushed Cissy in, slipping through the opening right behind her.
“Why do they think it was you,” Cecelia squeaked out as she tried to catch her breath.
“Near as I kin tell, Snape has somethin’ me an’ Lando made, and the explosion used some of the same spells. But we made dozens o’ those scrolls. Someone else could’da figured out how to do the same thing. Or even worked it out from our maps.
“Could it Professor Snape be framing you, he’s the one that “found” the map,” Cecelia made air quotes.
Danny shook his head. “Snape might be a git, but I doubt he’d stoop to blowin’ up a loo jus’ to get at me an’ Foozle.” He pried the knut out of his ear and stared at it. “Lando mus’ be outta range.”
“Out of range of what?”
With a soft chuckle, Dan held up the coin. “This isnae a knut.”
“I know that.”
Seeing confusion cross her face, he continued. “A couple of years ago, Lando, yuir brother an’ me were at a muggle playground. We saw a pair o’ kids playin’ with some tin cans hooked together with string. The three of us got our heads t’gether and decided to make sort o’ the same thing, only with magic fer string and knuts fer cans.”
“Wow Danny, that is so smart.
Feeling himself blush, Dan quickly changed the subject. “Let me check if it’s clear,” he whispered, as he slowly slid the mirror open again. Seeing no one as he peeked through the opening, he slid out with Cissy following close behind. Before they could run off Cissy felt a tapping on her back. She screamed, causing Dan to nearly jump out of his skin as both whipped around to look behind them. They were met with the wide-eyed heavy breathing form of Laun Orris-Whitmoor.
“My God you have healthy lungs.” He said desperately trying to catch his breath.
“Yuir prepared to run when yuir mates with Foozle.” Danny, glad to see the Slytherin prefect, quickly turned serious. “What’s going on, Laun? Why’s Snape after me?”
“Yeah I thought you were one of the good guys Laun,” she said as she pointed her finger into his chest,”What the hell are you and your head of house playing at.”
“Well there was this boom, and a bang I think…and there was a lot of shouting and suddenly there’s like a bounty on your head. It was very hard to follow…” He said still trying to breathe normally, “They think that it was you that blew the bathroom to high heaven basically, though I want you to know that I do not believe that.”
Danny nodded, and looked at Cissy. “Laun, I need you to do something for me.” He cast a flinty stare into the taller boy’s eyes. “We both know I’m innocent. But that won’t help if Snape’s determined to pin this on me or Lando.” Dan paused for a deep breath, then glanced again at the Gryffindor girl. “I want you to get Cissy out of here. Make sure she’s not involved in this, make sure she’s not identified as the girl who was with me. I want her to be completely shielded.”
Laun got a stern look on his face, “Right O!” He saluted, “So we’re dealing with an all out frame job here…madmen plotting and hiding…manipulating events…Oh, I can get into this. I will discover the dark mind behind this! Come on Cissy, the other prefects will have moved on to the grounds by now; it should be pretty clear to get back.”
“Oh really.” Dierdre’s voice suddenly broke in, the Slytherin girl stood behind Laun with her arms crossed.”Give me one good reason why you’re going against Professor Snape’s orders, Laun?”
“GOD! People need to stop scaring the life out of me!” Laun said jumping back, not having heard Dee approach, “Dierdre you need to understand, they are being framed. Professor Snape just gets a little ahead of himself sometimes,” Laun paused with an an eye roll at the scoffs from Cissy and Dan, “He is wrong about this particular matter. You need to help me get Cissy out of the way before the other prefects get back.” Laun said calmly.
Deirdre gave Dan and Cissy a questioning look before turning back to Laun. “What proof do you have that Professor Snape doesn’t?” It wasn’t that she didn’t want to believe Laun or the other two, she just wanted to make sure that if any of them got caught, it’d be easily gotten out of.
“I have their word…and my righteous indignation! …Guys back me up here…”
“We dinnae do it. I was with Cissy. Lando was with Tom somewhere. Still is fer all I know. An’ I only came up t’the fifth floor to see what the commotion was all aboot.” Leaning back against the wall, he sighed and looked Dee in the eye. “Have you ever known Orlando or me t’do somethin’ so boneheaded as come an’ stare at Snape investigatin’ one of our projects?”
Deirdre frowned as she thought back to the boys many other little misadventures from before, and she let out a sigh as she had to agree with him. “You’re right, you two would have hid long ago.”
“Right. So that’s why I need you to take Cissy an’ sort of erase her involvement in it.’
“Alright, but what are you going to do in the meantime?”
“I dunno. I’m making this up as I go along.
“We should go though Cissy…There could be eyes everywhere…” Laun said his eyes twirling around the room.
Cissy nodded, “Be careful Danny,” she kissed him good bye on the cheek and then followed the two Slytherins across the hall.
Dan seemed to float above the stone floor as he watched Cissy leave with Laun and Diedre, then snapped out of his kiss-induced euphoria. He jogged down the corridor toward a hanging tapestry. Pushing it aside, he revealed a stairway leading to the second floor. Dan marched down the stairs, jumping a magically vanishing step partway down and emerged from behind another tapestry. He ducked into Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom to catch his breath.
Peeking out of the room as Myrtle started to cry, he crept back toward a staircase leading up. The castle was eerily quiet as Danny crept up the stairs, glowing eerily in the moonlight. As he sneaked upward towards the third floor, a stair creaked ominously. “How does a marble staircase creak?” he mumbled absently.
Topping the stairs, there was no one in sight. Danny sighed and began to creep down the corridor when a flicker of motion caught his eye. A string of words went through Dan’s mind that he wouldn’t dare say in front of Mrs. DuMorne. Mrs. Norris, Filch’s cat, was staring back at Danny. He panicked. Wherever Mrs. Norris lurked, Argus Filch stalked close behind.
Danny bolted for another staircase and dashed upwards. He tore to the fourth floor, through a corridor, and up another staircase to the fifth floor. He continued his dash to the fifth floor and ducked in a boy’s bathroom near the staircase leading to the seventh floor. Resting against the wall, Dan huffed and puffed until he managed to catch his breath. Glancing at his surroundings, he asked, “Why does everything involve a bathroom tonight?”
With a shrug he left the bathroom and slowly made his way to the owlery. Kneeling in a relatively dropping-free spot, Dan wondered about his pursuers. “I could really use Foozle’s bloody map aboot now,”Danny said, looking up at the owls.