“Weel…” She looked around, getting her bearings from the way they had come. The tunnel itself had gotten wider and taller since it had become lined with dirt and roots. “A reck we’re…” her lips puckered as if she had been chewing a lemon, “a wee bit intae the ferbiddin forest.”
Not watching where she was going, she ran into the back of the Hufflepuff who had stopped. “Whit?”
“Th’ path forks… ”
He cast lumos to get them a better look. His wand passed between the two options.
“Which wey dae we gae than?”
Foozle scratched at the bit of stubble on his chin. “This wey, ” he replied and went to the right. Hesitating just a moment, his sister followed suit.
They hadn’t gotten far before Céilidh stopped. “Fooze, wait…” She crouched down and poked her wand into a soft mound of dirt. “Uh…” Over the years, Céilidh had spent enough time around her Gran, learning things the elder MacAllister was uniquely qualified to teach her grand-daughter. She only had to get her wand half way back to her nose to confirm what she’d hoped was not the reality that they’d stumbled upon.
“Whit?” He had stopped, but didn’t turn around. A soft hissing sound, like tea kettle nearing boil seemed to be fading in and out just a bit ahead. He stretched his wand forward toward it, trying to see.
Céilidh’s voice got tight and quiet. “We need tae gae.”
“Wait…” He raised his wand higher and found that the ceiling of the tunnel was even higher than before.
“Nae.” She grabbed his arm and pulled him back with urgency. “Now.”
Orlando’s arm jerked up. The light at the end of his wand glinted along several short stalactites of gently curved ivory and over a glassy green orb.
“Och, shite…” His jaw went slack.
Céilidh yanked him, hitting a full sprint. “Tommy!” She called ahead of them. “Tommy! Run!”
Tom looked at Céilidh quizzically, “Um, Céilidh…” He pointed down at his ankle, “Remember my ankle?”
Céilidh pulled Tommy again, this time getting him to his feet. A white hot pain shot through his ankle. “Oi, Céilidh! That bloody hurt!”
“Better th’ ankle than th’ alternative,” Orlando came quickly running up behind. He stopped at where Liam sat and quickly removed his bindings.
“What the bloody hell is going on?” Tommy said getting frustrated.
“We dinnae huv time tae explain,” Céilidh pulled again. “Just run.”
When she said this, the whole cave shook as if an earthquake had just struck.
“What was that?” Tommy said going white.
Orlando pointed his wand at Liam “Rennervate!”
Liam blinked awake. “What the hell did you morons do?” He scuttled backwards from Orlando.
“Liam, ye need tae rin.” Orlando held out his hand to Liam, “We are in serious…”
Orlando didn’t get to finish his thought. Liam pointed his wand at the Hufflepuff’s chest, “Everte Statum!” the spell hit Orlando in the chest knocking him all the way back and into Tommy and Céilidh all three of them landing in a heap on the ground.
“You three fools have ruined everything!” Liam roared maniacally. He pointed his wand, “Avada…” he started but was cut off by the most monstrous roar that any of them had ever heard.
Liam turned slowly, and the wand dropped out of his hand. He swallowed and stared into the dark.
“Th-that sounds like…” Tommy stammered, forgetting the white hot pain in his leg for a moment.
“Aye,” his girlfriend said clearly, “Why fur dae ye think A’ve bin telling ye tae run, ye numpty?”
“What have you three idiots done?” Liam said as he bent down cautiously to pick up his wand.
“Let’s be clear, it was just the two of them.”
“I don’t care,” he raised his wand at the three. In the heat of that moment it never registered to any of the three of them that his accent had inexplicably vanish. “Avada-” But he never got to finish the killing curse.
Fire erupted from the shadows. It enveloped Liam mid-incantation, consuming him in its bright orange flame along with the subtle smell of cooked meat. Even his scream was eaten in the burst.
“Protego Maxima!” All three pointed their wands at the same time, just seconds before the flames reached them.
They watched the fire breath lick their shields, backing away. As the smoke in the fire’s wake curled around, an eighteen foot tall Welsh Green snaked its head through the plumes of char. It’s large, glassy eyes glimmered in the flickering embers that glowed at the ends of the exposed roots around them. It bared those awesome fangs and roared again.
Orlando and Céilidh hurriedly tucked their arms under Tommy’s, and the three sixth years ran back up the tunnel with the dragon uncomfortably close behind them. The idea of Liam’s charred corpse and fire was there on the heels of their minds, knowing that the Welsh Green could burst them any second now. It made every scratching sound of the beast’s feet seem so much closer.
“Ah reck we must hiv fand oorsels tae close tae her neist.” She looked back over her shoulder.
“Weel, she’s a wee bit aff her habitat!” yelled the Scot.
“Please dinnae taunt th’ dragon Fooze.”
Tommy cringed. The pain running up from his foot would have been unbearable, were it not for the alternative to not running. “This is bad.”
“Coud be worser.” He pulled the Gryffindor a little faster.
“We coud be Liam.”
The Welsh green’s angry song called for them with an uncomfortable closeness. It sent shivers right up their spines until the hairs on each of their heads tingled. Their muscles tightened, expecting a jet of fire. “We might still get that chance.”
The stairs were a welcome sight. The rushed forward and took the stairs two at a time. Going up was putting an awful amount of weight on Tommy’s sprained ankle. By the sixth set he was howling in pain. Worse was the sound of stone under grasping talons.
Céilidh spun around, “Culpo!” The spell’s jet of light flashed for its target. The concussive blast smacked the beast hard in the face, forcing it back.
Blue light flared with blinding intensity that had the Welsh Green flinching back further. As its head shook back, chains wrapped around the dragon’s muzzle with magical constriction.
It was the lead foray into an blitz of spells. They came fast and furious with the attacks and retreated up the steps as they did. The dragon, muzzled from the chains, grew a fury of its own under the onslaught. The angry dragon shook its head from side to side violently. It spread its wings, but in the confined space slammed against the walls. Massive claws smashed the step and it lurched forward.
In fact, the whole corridor shook. Debris of stone and dirt fell from above. It started as a rain of bits and pieces, but as the dragon advanced into the narrow space the pieces fell larger and faster. Worse still the Welsh Green seemed unconcerned.
Céilidh tucked her shoulder under her boyfriend’s arm and wrapped her arm around his waist. “Ah’m sairy.” She hauled him up off the ground.
Orlando followed suit. “Yuir gaen oan a diet enter this! How far daes yer broom hauld ye?”
Tommy tucked his bad ankle back. “You’re hilarious.”
They ran up the steps on five legs for as long as the stairwell would let them. As fast as their feet could carry them it didn’t seem like it was enough. The stairs shook underfoot. The walls were blurred with falling dust. Cracks crawled up alongside them. It felt like the whole castle was coming down around them.
The three of them dove toward the top of the stairs and the portal back into the castle’s confines. The sixth years thudded against the floor as dust and debris clouded around them. They had made it back, they were safe.
Still laying on the floor; Céilidh, Orlando, and Tommy all three looked at each other, their sweat forming muddy tracks along their faces. It was Orlando that smiled first, then Céilidh, then Tommy. They all started laughing. They had survived an attack from a dragon.
“What the bloody hell have you done?” The Transfiguration Professor’s shrill voice rang through the hall stifling their laughter.
They looked up to see the impressively intimidating professor in her tartan dressing gown staring down at them. Her lips were so thin that they practically disappeared, “Well?”
Tom’s eyes darted from Céilidh to Orlando, praying that one of them would speak first. With a sigh, Tom opened his mouth. “P-professor,” he started, but was now interrupted by another voice much more gleeful.
“I knew it!” Filch screamed out of breath as he ran up to the scene. “I knew it would be them,” he was almost dancing in place now, “Look at the mess they’ve made and out of bed after hours too. Please let me take them to the Headmaster, maybe now he’ll let me use the thumbscrews.”
“Not now, Argus,” McGonagall silenced him with a glare, “I want to know what happened?”
Orlando panted, catching his breath from the laughter, running, and not dying. “Uh…”
He looked back at the portal. The mirror was cracked. A few shards lay around them. Their absence exposed the collapsed stone behind it. All traces of where they had been, gone. It was one of those rare moments where he wasn’t sure just what to say.
They had followed Liam Liddell down a rabbit hole that was opened by parseltongue, only to be chased down a dragon which had killed Liam and nearly caved in the passage as they barely escaped with their own lives. The truth itself seemed almost unbelievable, even by the standards of his stories.
“Ye widnae belie us gif we telt ye, Perfesser,” He replied shaking his head.
It was then he really recognized that Liam was dead. He looked at Tommy, the thought sinking in.
Tommy sighed, he knew this was going to be hard. He didn’t like Liam, not one bit, but what happened to him with the dragon…he shuddered. He could feel a stinging at the corners of his eyes. “Professor we were following…” he coughed, “following Liam Liddell. he opened this passage using what we thought was parseltongue. We found a Welsh Green down there and…and…” he broke off.
“Liddell tried tae kill us.” Céilidh wheezed a little, breathing in the dust. “The killing curse…”
“Micht hiv tae,” nodded Orlando, “cept the dragon wis faster…”
“Professor,” Bill called out as he and Laun turned the corner and joined the now growing throng of people, “I’m sorry but…”
“We just walked Liam back up to Ravenclaw tower twenty minutes ago.” Laun looked down and locked eyes with Tommy.
“This is not helping anything. I absolutely expect better from you Mister Llewelyn and Miss MacAllister.” Her voice was ice cold as her eyes pierced her charges. “Now tell me the truth.”
“We are professor.” Tom Pulled himself up painfully, “I promise if you could go down that hole right now you will find the remains of Liam.”
All the eyes fell on the mirror which, painfully for the three students, showed signs of rubble, but no hole.
“Perhaps, Professor,” Professor Qasim walked up still in his daytime robes, “I should go to get Liam from Ravenclaw Tower to test the story.”
“Go ahead Professor,” McGonagall nodded, “Misters Orris-Whitmoor and Weasley take these three to my office. Mister Filch and I will investigate the area.”