In the morning the group work to find a Dryad waiting for them. She was caressing her wand which she proudly flourished ‘my tree gave this to me and a new broomstick, look’
Ron laughter turned into a cough as got a dark look from the Dryad and a dig in the ribs from Hermione.
‘Lovely’ He managed to croak massaging his ribs
The broomstick look crude to their eyes, clearly a branch from a tree, with small branches and leaves still attached at the end, but the Dryad clearly cherished it.
Hermione turned to the group,
‘This is Autumn; she will be joining and guiding us to the castle and the secret entrance’
Ron raised his hand in a gesture of welcome, clearly a little embarrassed,
Autumn scowled at him
‘Hello Autumn, pleased to meet you’ said Harry hold out his hand to shake
Autumn looked at the hand for a moment then deciding it was a friendly gesture stuck out or hand too.
Harry, realising she hadn’t recognised the gesture, gently took her hand and shook it up and down before releasing it.
Autumn let out a little squeal of delight and present her hand to Hermione, who with a smile on her lips, solemnly shook her hand.
One by one Autumn shook each of the groups hands, leaving Ron till last but still she offered her hand to him and he gladly shook it, a big grin on his face which was too infectious and Autumn couldn’t’ help but grin back at him.
They packed up their belongings but agreed to leave the bulk with the Dryads, only taking their cloaks, wands and a little food.
They would either be back before nightfall or not at all.
Autumn let the way through the woods to a stream which cut its way through the land.
Following it they entered a ravine which despite the early morning sunshine was shrouded in gloom and a low mist still clung to the damp rocks and swirled around their feet as they walk.
The sides of the Ravine got steeper as the continued, the gloom deepened but Autumn would not allow them to light the way with magic, quietly warning them that any magic would be detected this close to the castle.
‘Are we close then’ asked George in a hushed whisper
In response Autumn pointed upwards and as one they all looked up to see the ravine walls merge seamlessly with the black rock of the walls of a castle. At first glance it looked huge but after a moment they realised they could see both ends of the wall, stretching off left and right, both ending in a turret of the same black stone.
Suddenly they heard a scrap on stone ahead of them, snapping them round, 9 wands pointing towards a figure as it materialised out of the gloom.
They realised no magic had concealed this man, for man he clearly was; his dark clothing had been enough in the half light.
As he stepped forward they could see him more clearly, a short man with receding hair, and blue eyes. Strapped to his back with two staves, crisscrossed behind his head, the handles visible either side.
‘Hello Minerva’ he said by way of greeting, a smile playing on his lips.
‘Ignotus!! Is that really you?’
‘How are you old friend’ the strange man stepped forward, ignoring the wands pointing at him and engulfed Professor McGonagall in a hug, laughing,
‘It’s been too long Mini’
Ron turned to Harry mouthing the word ‘Mini?’
Hermione, Nicola and Autumn had grouped together enjoying the romance of long lost love
George and Fred were grinning, enjoying Professor McGonagall’s fluster
‘Mini’ they repeated together ‘excellent’
‘Put me now Ignotus, now!’ Professor McGonagall said hitting him the arm but smiling never the less
‘Why are you here, now, where have you been? Have you heard about Albus?’ she queried, questions tumbling over each other in.
‘Not now Minerva, I think we had best be about getting into the castle and retrieving what has been taken, we can catch up later’ Ignotus replied, looking up at the castle walls.
With a nod of recognition and another flashing grin ‘Hagrid’
‘Ignotus’ Hagrid replied clearly delighted to be remembered
‘What, wait, he’s not coming with us, why should he come with us?’ Harry was clearly taken aback by this man’s sudden appearance’
‘You need me speccy’, turning to the Professor, ‘their children Minerva, what were you thinking’
‘When you are over 800 years old Ignotus, we all appear as children to you, these are stronger and older then they look, but I must admit, with you here I am more confident of success’ Replied the Professor
‘You know Professor Dumbledore?’ enquired Hermione
‘Sure did cutie, Albus and I were very close once upon a time’ Ignotus replied with a wink
Hermione blushed at the complement which was not lost on Ron who stepped up beside Hermione, taking her hand.
Ignotus laughed, ‘no need for jealousy Red, plenty to go around, if you know what I mean’
Hermione hid a grin behind her hand, whilst Ron took a step back, speechless.
Fred and George were in fits of laughter, ‘looks like you pulled again Ron, you old charmer you’
‘Leave them alone Ig, this is not the time or place or century for that matter’ scolded Professor McGonagall
‘arhh but those were the times Mini’ looking around the group, ‘I can tell you some tales about your professor here, together with Albus and me that would make your hair curl
‘IGNOTUS! You will do no such thing! The past will stay in the past, am I clear?
‘Of course Mini, I was only playing’, Ignotus cast his eye over the group, his grin never leaving his lips ‘well let’s get going before we lose the day, I don’t fancy wondering around a Dark Castle in the dark’
Laughing at his play on words he indicated to Autumn to lead the way then took up position behind her.
The others looked at the Professor ‘trust me, he’s an asset we could do with’
That was enough for the others, though they still was not sure they particularly liked the man, he seemed too cocky by half and had a way of looking at them that was almost a leer.
Autumn led them further in then stopped in front of a flat rock, dark, damp, covered in lichen. Turning and searching beneath overhanging roots of a thorny bush she sought and discovered a round rock just proud of the surrounding rocks. With the heel of her palm she pressed hard and turned to see a black square opening where the flat rock had only moments stood before.
‘Open sesame’ Ignotus quipped at the same time as,
‘Open sesame’ Fred Quipped
‘Open sesame’ George Quipped
All three laughed as they stepped into the void, Fred’s ghostly image merging with the two men as they led the way into the dark.