The three gave each other a knowing glance, then immediately followed the Ravenclaw seventh year up the stairs. Lando’s camouflaging charm coupled with Tom’s silencing charm allowed the trio to readily maintain their tail on Liddell. They were able to follow so closely that they nearly ran square into their quarry when he suddenly stopped. Standing before an oddly located mirror, Liddell cast a furtive glance up one end of the hallway and down the other before muttering something.
His words were a sibilant stream that had a collective chilling effect on the three sixth years. The jumble of h and s sounds also had something of a commanding effect as the mirror Liddell faced slowly started to shimmer. Liam took a deep breath and stepped through the portal, the surface of the mirror parting as though he’d stepped through a gentle waterfall.
The trio all looked at each other with a certain wonder that was even rare for Hogwarts. Of course the castle and its grounds held secrets galore, but the three of them had uncovered so many in the past six years thanks in no small part to the Marauders and their handy map. They had even known that some secret was hidden behind the mirror, but had never been able to discern the clues as to how to get past it.
“Bloody hell,” Tommy’s eyebrows arched, “is that, parseltongue?”
Orlando was unaccustomed to being dumbstruck quite on this level. “Uh…” He stared blankly at the glimmering portal.
It was Céilidh who moved first. “C’mon,” she said with a hurried whisper. She grabbed both of the boys by the arm and shunted them forward.
The trio stepped through the portal one at a time and found themselves in a brick stairwell consumed with darkness. They each drew their wands and cast Acerbus Aduro to be able to see.
Orlando held his wand up to the wall, his fingers grazing the dusty old brick. He rubbed the gray silt between his fingers. “Nae body’s bin here in ages…”
Tommy checked to make sure the portal would let them back through. “Well, who do you reckon was the last parseltongue at Hogwarts?”
They all shared a look, that said they were all thinking of the same person and dared not speak his name. Turning to the steps they could hear Liam’s footsteps on the stone echoing back up to them.
“How in the bloody hell did he figure out how to get in here, yet we never have?” Tom’s eyes narrowed as he watched Liam disappear into the shadows of the tunnel.
The Hufflepuff shook his head. “Ah dinnaken.” His eyes followed Tom’s gaze.
Céilidh sighed, “If ye twa girls are finished mibbie we shuid follow him afore we lose him?” Céilidh rolled her eyes as she pushed past Tom and Lando, “Boys.”
“I love her,” tommy sighed as he gave Orlando a bemused grin and followed after her.
“Ye hiv tae.”
The three companions followed the Ravenclaw seventh year through the darkened tunnel. What started out as a brick walls, gave way to damp dirt with roots from trees protruding all around them.
Tommy, paying more attention to where Liam was going than to where he himself was going, tripped on one of the loose roots in the tunnel floor and landed hard on the damp, muddy ground. Completely instinctively, Tommy swore loudly as he tried to stand, his left ankle not accepting his weight, he must have twisted it when he tripped.
The fall did something else as well, as Liam turned and stared in utter disbelief at the trio behind him.
Tom looked at his two friends sheepishly as he balanced on his one good leg, “We forgot to recast muffaliato didn’t we?”
Foozle smiled. “Come here aften?”
Liam’s surprise fell as quickly as the satchel hanging over his shoulder, but, with wands already at the ready they were faster chains burst from the end of Céilidh’s wand and wrapped him up tight.
Liam wobbled and fell backwards cursing. His head cracked against a stone and his body went limp.
“Is he alright?” Céilidh helped Tommy steady himself..
Orlando saw to the Ravenclaw. “Aye. Juist bumpit his heid.” Liam’s head lolled to one side. “Oot cold.”
“Since he’s no gaen onywhere.” He looked up and around. “Whit sey we keek about?”
Tommy winced as he tried to judge how much weight he could put on his ankle. He sat down on a large rock and tried to rest his ankle. “Why don’t you two go ahead. I’ll watch Liddell.”
“Ye shuir?” His girlfriend asked, kissing his cheek.
Tommy nodded and pointed to Lando who was already disappearing further into the dirty tunnel.