Tom was once again in the gray fog. He watched as it rolled by him. Off in the distance he could hear the footfalls again. Just as they seemed right on top of him, he was pulled from the fog again and back to the cave floor and the real world. “Bollocks!” He cursed out loud as he slammed his fists against the cave floor.
“Shite, Tommy, Ah wis naur thare!” Céilidh said crossly. She punched him in the shoulder to punctuate her frustration with him and the whole process. Her animal form was so close she could nearly touch it, but something always found a way to distract her at that crucial moment before it would reveal itself.
“Ow,” Tommy sheepishly rubbed his shoulder, “Sorry Céilidh. I was so bloody close though.”
Foozle sat on the couch with his legs tucked up under him. “This is niver gaun tae wirk…” he said, staring at the unburnt cone in the palm of his hand.
Céilidh blew a thick lock away from her eyes. The concentration was leading to a headache. “Tha’s no the kin o enthusiasm tha’s gaun tae git us throu this, Fooze,” groaned the fiery haired Gryffindor.
Tommy nodded. “Remember, McGonogall said that this is where most people fail.”
“Aye. An tha means we need major prattick, Gents.” The Hufflepuff held the cone up between his fingers, “Mair than we’ll git oot o this laist bit smoch-maker.”
“Weel, Tommy coud git mair fer prattick,” he leaned forward, resting his chin in his steepled fingers, “But as fain as she is o ye, she’ll niver gie enouch fer aw o us. No wi oot gittin suspicious.”
“We need mair.” Foozle’s brow furrowed as he stared at the mysterious object. He sniffed it. “We need tae feegur oot hou tae mak oor awn…”
“The only problem, lads, Tom smiled and nodded to the girl sitting next to, “and lass, we haven’t clue one on how to make the bloody things.”
“While I applaud, the efforts are still a joke. Your incense is now up in smoke.” The safe’s green glow filled the room, and its door swung open. “Here’s something you haven’t tried, for more incense, look inside!”
Tommy walked over squatted next to the safe, “Bloody hell,” he pulled out more incense, “where did these come from?”
“A dinnaekin. The sauf?” Danny grinned wide and bent down to look in the metal box. “Oi! There’s papers in here.”
“Thae warn’t in thae afore,” Lando said as he and Céilidh joined the other two.
“A thocht we teuk awthing oot,” Céilidh leaned in placing her hand on Dan’s shoulder to get a closer look.
“Yuir juist lippin-fou o surprises, arena ye, Wirdswirth?” He patted the glowing safe on the side. “Whit ense are ye hiding, mate?”
“What more have I? I cannot say,” chuckled the squat little box. “You’ll just have to wait for another day.”
“It’s a receipt,” The Ravenclaw said, running his finger down the pages as he scanned the words. “Awe the ingredients an hou tae dae it. Dittany, fluxweed, ginger, eye o lionfish, lovage, scurvy-grass…” He groaned at the last piece of the puzzle which had been penned in red. “And powdert Tannis leaves.”
Tom whistled under his breath, “Those are gonna be bloody damn hard to get a hold of.”
“No tae mention juist a wee bit shy o wrangous,” Céilidh said as she stood up and dusted off the knees of her pants.
“Ach…” Foozle smirked, sliding up to sit on Wordsworth, “A dockie trip ower tae Nockturn Alley wi a wee bit o dry siller an thare’s naething short o wrangous ye canna airt oot.”
Tom threw himself into one of the chairs, “And we’re going to get off the grounds and get to Knockturn Alley how exactly?” He cocked his head to the side and gave Lando a lopsided smile.
Foozle shrugged. “Smook aff tae Hogsmeade, catch a floo ower tae Diagon Alley.”
“That could work,”Tom nodded, “or we can try the ones Wordsworth there gave us, and see if they do the trick.”
“Ah dinnaken,” Céilidh’s nose wrinkled up with uncertainty as she took one of the cones up. “Thay’re awfu auld, dinnae ye think? Wad thay stell be guid?”
Tom shrugged his shoulders, “We can always try one,” he smiled at the three scots, “what’s the worst that can happen?”
“Famous last wirds, Tommy,” Céilidh replied as they all moved the scene from around the safe to around the coffee table.
Danny and Lando sank into the couch cushions, Tommy pulled over a chair and his fellow Gryffindor settled in cross-legged at the other corner. Dan took the squat stone plate and slid it over into the middle of the foursome with the tip of his wand, “Inflaparvoot”. The tip of his wand took on a white hot light that within moments gave the stone it touched a soft amber glow. Céilidh reached over and dropped one of the cones down onto the warm surface.
They sat. And they waited. For a bit nothing happened but the exchange of a few slightly disappointed faces. Then the bottom of the incense began to smolder, releasing a strange fume that came with a light purple smoke.
“Weel, tha’s differ,” Foozle said, his left brow perking up.
“Um,” Tommy bit his lower lip slightly, “Think it got old?” his eyes narrowed on the purple smoke.
The smoke seemed to grow thicker around them. First, covered the cave entrance. Then, Wordsworth could no longer be seen. Finally all the four students could see was themselves.
“Okay,” Tommy said as he noticed he, like Danny and Lando, was now standing when they had been sitting on the cave’s furniture just moments before, “this is just plain creepy.”
Céilidh, the only one not on the furniture, stood up from her sitting position and joined the others. “Aye,” she breathed. There was certainly something different about the smoke this time. Headier, spicier, and… was that hops she smelled? “‘Laist we’re all thegither.”
“Tha’s differ tae…”
Tom watched the purplish fog flow around him, “You gotta hand it to Potter and those blokes,” Tom’s lip curled up, “They sure knew their magic.”
“Aye.” nodded the two Scots.
Back to back they turned around. The thick heavy fog’s color increased to a deep, royal purple. Flashes of light crackled through it silently like a deaf thundercloud. Each streak of light left a trail of colors That trickled out from the source. Blues and reds. Golds and silvers. The occasional, almost imperceptible black.
“Whoa…” added the Gryffindors.
“Right,” Tom cleared his throat and tried not to act too freaked out, “so, now what?”
As if on cue, the fog seemed to almost part into what looked liked two solid walls.
“Tha’s diff’rent,” the boys said in unison.
“It almaist leuks like an entry,” Céilidh said over her shoulder as she walked toward it.
“Hold on,” Tom caught up to her and placed his hand on her shoulder, “this is so different from all the other times.”
“Aye, an all tha mair better tae splore aboot,” The red head winked, slipping from Tommy’s grip and plunging into the gap in the fog.
“Céilidh!” Tom yelled out and dove in after the red head.
The two other gents gave each other a meaningful look, smiled, and then dove in as well, “Wait for us!”
Tom fell forward but caught himself on the palms of his hands. Tommy stood up and instinctively wiped his hands and knees. “Céilidh!” Tommy yelled out as he looked around, but there was no answer. He scanned the area again, but still no sign of the fire haired Gryffindor. Well, he thought to himself, maybe if I follow this trail I can find her. Before he started down the trail he looked back behind him again, Where are Danny and Lando?
The cries of her friends were cut short as Céilidh stepped through the portal. In fact, the silence was so abrupt that she turned to see what would have happened to bring them up short. There was nothing but dark behind her.
“Ach! Wit hae ye gotten yoursel intae nou, MacAllister?”
Orlando couldn’t see two inches beyond his nose, the fog had gotten so thick. What was once an opening had collapsed all around them. “Ach, Danny,” he said, waving his hand in front of his face in a futile attempt to clear his vision, “whit in heckleburn is gaun on in here? Fuirst Céilidh than Tommy.” He was beginning to wonder how good of an idea this had been. Clearly the Marauders had experimented with the recipe.
It was eerily silent around him. “Dan?” He turned around, feeling in the thick smokey fog. “Danny?” Seconds ago the two Scots had been side by side chasing after Céilidh and Tom. Now Orlando had lost the last of his group. “Shite.” He was all alone.
Cautious but undeterred, Foozle pressed on into the haze, feeling his way in the dark. After seemingly getting nowhere fast he stopped and closed his eyes. Concentrating, as they had learned to do with the incense Tommy had gotten from Professor McGonagall he listened for the footsteps he used to hear. There weren’t any. Focusing harder he began to hear the whistling of a breeze. He swore he felt tall leaves of grass against his bare feet.
“Whit the…” Opening his eyes, the smokey fog had cleared out, but he wasn’t in the cave anymore. It wasn’t even hogwarts. “Ah must be seen things…” He stood at the edge of a massive forest. The grass was massive, rising up to almost his knee. In fact as he turned about, it seemed that nearly everything around him was incredibly oversized. The grass. The trees. Across the long stretch of grass was a home that looked as if it had been built by a giant.
Foozle stumbled backward toward the wood and tripped over his own feet. As he fell to the ground everything around him swirled about in a blur.
“Och, craip,” Danny sighed as he looked around in the inky blackness. He was alone, and could not see Céilidh or his brothers. “Ah’ve gat an ill feelin’ aboot this.”
Danny walked around for a couple minutes, hand extended in front of him to avoid running into some unseen obstacle in the smoky dark. Periodically, he would call out the names of his mates, hoping that one of them would hear him and respond, but he heard nothing but the sound of his own voice.
As he wandered, the smoke began to sting and burn his eyes. The Ravenclaw lad closed his eyes tightly, since they weren’t doing him any good in the cloud. As he moved forward, he felt something brush against his leg. Opening his eyes, he looked about and found himself in the cave, seated in his chair.
Right next to him, Tommy rubbed his eyes, “What the bloody hell…”
All four of teens stared at each other, “That was different than last time.”
“Aye… lat’s dae it again!”
Tommy rubbed his eyes, “We don’t have the first clue what just happened. That was so different from anything we’ve been through before.” Tom looked at the three Scots who were all giving him a sideways glance. A smile crept across Tom’s face, “Okay, it was pretty wicked.”
“Tha wis wierd.” Foozle leaned against the green safe that was beside him. His brain tried to process what it could remember. “Tha’s whit it wis.”
“Lat’s wirk yont this then,” Céilidh began, “We all lapt intae tha rouk. Wit did ye see?”
“Looked like a bloody forrest,” Tom stood up and grabbed the open bottle of firewhiskey from the table and took a swig, “anyone else see different?”
“A hoose. Lie, a giant’s hoose.”
“Treetaps, wee things on tha ground. Lie A wis flyin…”
“A saw a bunch o’ clouds. From the inside.”
“Hmmm,” Tom sighed as he handed the bottle over to Orlando, “So each of us saw something different. That’s interesting.”
Orlando rubbed his chin. “Hmmm…” The Hufflepuff picked up one of the unburnt cones they had retrieved from Wordsworth. “Gif this is a puzzle, this is showin a wee better picture than stummling aboot in smoch. Weel, cept fer ye, Danny.” He gave a sympathetic smile to his fellow Scot. “But ee’en tha haes tae mean something, richt?”
“Aye, but Ah dinnae kin whit.” He sat down on the floor, leaning against the couch.
“Mebbes the next time ye’ll see mair.”
Tom nodded, “Well lads,” he winked at Céilidh, “and lady, we need to figure out where we can get more of that incense.”