To Save A Squib
To Save A Squib
a Harry Potter fan-fic
a sequel to "The Way of the Squib"
Chapter 3 of 4: Rescue
Everything in this story really belongs to J.K. Rowling
I was drifting in and out of consciousness, lost in a fog of pain. The Dark Lord had been screaming somewhere nearby. Now his cries had fallen silent. But the terrible sound had not been replaced by the noises common in a small wood in spring. The creatures that dwelled here were still wary, and I knew why. My eyes were shut but I knew that the Dark One was not gone.
He must have been able to recover from the terrible effects of his own double-strength Curse. I could feel his foul magic being used somewhere not too far off. And I could hear sounds coming from the direction of the ruined tower; heavy stones slowly moving and falling against each other.
The noise filled me with fear for myself and my companions, Sirius Black and Callandra Moffitt. Both of them were worse off than I was. Callandra was trapped in the shape of a small, grey stone. And Black was almost certainly dying.
Poor Severus Snape. His plan had worked well enough to free Callandra from the Death Eaters, but he could not help any of us now. The Potions Master could not even help himself. He was buried under the ruins of Lucius Malfoy’s fallen tower. I did not know if he was alive or dead.
Events were occurring elsewhere in the wizarding world; things that I did not know about until later.
In the Gryffindor common room back at Hogwarts Castle, a fifteen-year-old boy had been sleeping restlessly in a chair by the fireplace. Plagued by a persistent pain which radiated from the lightning shaped scar on his forehead, Harry Potter had spent a terrible night.
Unwilling to disturb the slumber of those who shared his room, (especially Neville, who was distraught with worry over the fate of his missing girlfriend, Callandra) Harry had not gone up to bed at all.
Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley had stayed down in the common room to keep him company. When he’d finally fallen asleep they’d taken turns keeping watch over him.
It was Hermione’s turn to sleep. She was curled up in her chair, a book clutched in her hand, her finger still carefully holding her place.
Gangling legs stretched out in front of him, Ron Weasley was troubled as he watched the nightmares scurry over Harry’s pale face.
Helpless inactivity was not in Ron’s nature. Nor was it much to his liking. His hands clenched with sympathy and alarm as Harry cried out in anguish.
In the wee hours of the morning the three children hurried through the Castle corridors, unchallenged by anyone. Harry had told Ron and Hermione that they did not have to worry about meeting me. He knew that catching students and assigning detentions were currently the very last concerns on my mind.
"Pepper Imps!" Harry told the Gargoyle. It came to life and jumped aside.
Harry, Ron and Hermione rushed up the moving spiral staircase. The Headmaster was still out. But as always he had left the Castle in very capable hands.
Minerva had been offered the use of the couch in Dumbledore’s office, if she needed to rest. The children found her awake. She’d been waiting for some word of Callandra, Sirius, Severus and me. Though the source of the news was unexpected, Minerva knew what to do with the information the children brought her.
Past caring, neither Black nor I heard our rescuer approaching on silent cat feet.
A firm, cool hand stroked the side of my face and a soft voice called my name. With difficulty, I opened my eyes. For a brief moment, preoccupied with the pain, I did not recognize the lovely grey-eyed woman who was kneeling between Sirius Black and me. Then I knew her.
Minerva! She must not linger in this dangerous place for a moment longer than necessary.
"The D-Dark Lord... h-he’s still near... his magic... I can feel it," I managed to whimper. "C-Callandra Moffitt. Sirius Black. You have t-to get them away from here, quickly..."
"I know, Argus. And you, too."
Sirius Black was lying so still. His eyes were closed. I hoped that he was only unconscious.
"Yes," Minerva assured me. Her other hand was resting gently on Black’s throat, under his bruised jaw. The Animagus still clung stubbornly to life. To judge by the anxious expression on Minerva’s face, she feared for him.
"Callandra... Black T-Transfigured her. She’s a stone... a small, grey one. Over there, under the leaves." My good arm trembling, I managed to indicate the right direction.
"Thank you for the description. It will make it much easier for me to know her when I find her," Minerva said.
I was not sure how a true wizard or witch went about sensing an object that is really a Transfigured person, but I had faith in Minerva’s ability to do so. Transfiguration is Minerva’s specialty. She had to be familiar with every aspect and application in her area of expertise.
Sure enough, it was not long before she was back at my side, clutching a small familiar grey stone.
"Now, for the pair of you," Minerva murmured. "This is going to be extremely unpleasant. But it’s necessary."
Crouching between Sirius and me, Professor McGonagall turned us both into stones. First Sirius, then me. "Extremely unpleasant" was an understatement.Transfiguring badly injured animate objects into inanimate objects for easy transport via Apparation is a tricky and complex piece of magic. The last time it had been necessary for Minerva to do this to me I’d been unconscious during the entire process.
This time I was awake when she started. Mercifully the pain in my hand and arm made me faint within moments.
With three small stones clutched in her arms as carefully as if they’d been fresh-laid eggs, Minerva Apparated as close to the Castle as she could, into the village of Hogsmeade. Then she dashed into the Three Broomsticks to ask Rosmerta for the use of her fireplace. Rosmerta, another one of the Headmaster’s hidden allies, called to Poppy Pomfrey through the fire.
Both Poppy and Minerva spoke a password as Minerva used Floo Powder (borrowed from Rosmerta) to take her to the fireplace in the hospital wing.
Minerva Transfigured Callandra back to her rightful shape first. Physically unhurt, but confused and badly frightened, the girl was comforted by Poppy and Minerva. Then she was given a sleeping draught and tucked into a bed in the hospital wing.
Transfiguring inanimate objects back into badly injured animate objects is equally dangerous and complicated. Fortunately, Albus Dumbledore had returned to the Castle after yet another sleepless night. He was just in time to assist Minerva with the delicate spells involved.
As soon as the Headmaster saw Callandra asleep in the front ward, he wrote a quick note to the Moffitts, telling them that Callandra was safe at Hogwarts Castle. Then he summoned a house-elf, handed the note to her and asked her to send an owl at once.
The Headmaster had spent the evening with Hyacinth and Reuben Moffitt, supporting them while they tried to convince the Minister of Magic to listen to their evidence that the Death Eaters had kidnapped their daughter.
The Minister had been very sympathetic to the plight of the distraught parents. But on the subject of the Dark Lord and his followers he’d remained just as stubborn as ever.
"Now, now. Jumping to desperate conclusions will not help find your daughter. We shall discover the real culprits, whoever they are!" he’d promised. "And we shall return the child to you! Do not give up hope."
Numb with grief and worry, the Moffitts had only just arrived at their home when Dumbledore’s owl had reached them.
Callandra Moffitt and her parents had a tearful reunion in the front ward of the hospital wing. In order to give them their privacy, the rest of us were placed in the back ward.
Sirius Black’s bed was across from mine. The heavily bandaged Animagus was in his dog form once more, to preserve his anonymity. It seemed that not many people were aware of his secret.
The huge beast lay sprawled across his bed with his shaggy head resting on Harry Potter’s knees. The boy, pale with lack of sleep, had dark shadows under his green eyes. Harry was sitting cross-legged on the bed, one hand resting protectively on the sleeping dog’s bandaged back. Hermione and Ron had both pulled chairs over beside the bed. Poppy had known that neither of them would leave Harry or the dog just yet so she had not even bothered asking them to go.
"Do you know who that is?" I asked Harry, Ron and Hermione.
"Yeah," Harry answered drowsily, yawning. "He’s my godfather."
Clearly there was a long story here, but I was in no condition to hear it. Poppy had given me a dose of something incredibly nasty called Skele-Gro.
"Broken bones I can mend in a second, but yours have been completely pulverized," she told me, shaking her head in dismay. "Don’t worry, Argus. Your hand and arm should be good as new, even if the next few hours are going to be rather rough. A pain-killing potion would interfere with the Skele-Gro’s effectiveness." Poppy added sympathetically.
My right hand and arm were now filled with fiery pains. I was curled around my injured arm, trying not to moan too often or too loudly. At least the pain in my arm was thoroughly distracting me from the miserable discomfort in my jaw from my missing tooth and the throbbing wound in my shoulder where Severus had removed a strip of skin.
Professor McGonagall had been glad to hand the responsibility for the Castle back over to the Headmaster. She’d remained with her young Gryffindors, past and present, drawing strength from the knowledge that they were safe.
At the moment, Minerva was sitting beside me. This was a comfort, even though I knew that I was a complete mess. She had seen me looking even worse, after all.
I was able to doze for a bit. When I woke, I discovered that my good hand was clasped gently in Minerva’s. Mrs. Norris had found me as well. My cat was curled up beside me, fast asleep. Mrs. Norris was looking far rounder than usual, heavily pregnant as she was.
The pain in my right arm and hand had eased a great deal. I blushed as I slid my left hand from Professor McGonagall’s. Minerva is the strongest woman I know, but tonight’s waiting and worrying had understandably taken a toll on her. Sometimes it helps to have another creature nearby, just to hold on to.
I wasn’t sure which one of us had reached for the other’s hand first, but I hoped she hadn’t thought me too forward or disrespectful. The Professor smiled down at me when she saw that I was awake, which reassured me on that score.
It was morning. Bright sunlight was streaming through the windows of the hospital ward. Ron and Hermione must have been persuaded to go back to Gryffindor tower to rest in their own beds. But Harry had not wanted to leave Sirius. The boy was curled up, fast asleep in a chair beside his godfather’s bed.
It was then, while the ward was quiet and Harry and Sirius were sleeping, that Minerva finally told me about the most dangerous aspect of her rescue mission.
The Dark Lord had been in her sight the entire time, standing by the ruins of Malfoy’s tower. Leaving Black and me lying wounded, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had been carefully sorting through the rubble, stone by stone, seeking his six loyal Death Eaters (and his seventh very disloyal one.)
Professor McGonagall had seen the Evil One’s unnaturally tall thin body standing in the ruins, still as a statue. His right arm was outstretched, glowing wand clutched in his long, spider-like hand. The air all around him had been filled with levitating stones. He had been painstakingly uncovering the tower’s lower chamber where Malfoy, Severus and the others had been trapped.
Fortunately, the Dark Lord’s back had been towards Minerva and he had been fully intent on his own task. Minerva had been swift and stealthy. The Evil One had not known of her presence in the wood.
"Do you think He-Who-Must- Not-Be-Named is actually concerned about them?" I asked her, hesitantly. "His followers?"
Minerva’s lovely face grew angry. "They’re tools to him, Argus, nothing more. He does not like to see them broken or damaged, at least not by any hand other than his own," she said, grimly.
"No, I did not see him find anyone," she added in a very soft voice, in answer to the question that I’d been afraid to ask.
Both of us were desperately worried about poor Severus, whose fate remained a mystery.
END OF CHAPTER THREE