Crossing an unseen boundary, the group were surrounded by golden glows as the Dryads appeared from behind their trees. Their smiles of pleasure quickly turned to dismay when they saw Autumn lying motionless in the arms of Harry.
They rushed to her side checking for signed of life.
‘Quickly follow me’ ordered one of the Dryad witches and as a group they all moved through the woods towards one particular tree, its leaves mostly fallen in stark contrast to the others around, still full of summer green.
‘Put her down, there at the base of the tree’ pointed the leader
Harry did as he was told and stood back as Autumn rose into the air, up higher and higher until she was nestled within the branches of the tree.
Another Dryad, young, lithe, vitality shinning with her, quickly climbed the tree to join her.
The leader of the Dryads turned to the group; we have need of one of your young men Hermione.
‘What, why, I don’t understand’ Hermione stuttered clearly confused
Professor McGonagall stepped forward, casting her eye over the group
‘George, would you be willing to help save Autumn?’
George didn’t pause ‘of course’
George suddenly found himself floating upwards towards the tree, Autumn and the waiting Dryad. Upon joining them, the tree’s branches started to pull inwards, covering them the three of them until they could not be seen.
‘Fred come back down here now’ barked the Professor
‘Fred looked a little sheepish as he joined the others, casting a curious look back to the tree.
‘Come let is feast and you can tell us what happen in the castle’ said the Dryad leader ushering the group away.
The following morning the group awoke to find George sitting by the fire, looking a little wild eyed. Over the other side of the clearing the Dryads were gathered around the young Dryad giggling and casting shy glances over.
Professor McGonagall quickly took charge of the group, issuing the boys tasks to gather their belongings and stored them onto the carpets for the journey home, whilst she and the girls prepared some breakfast.
As they were saying their goodbyes, George stood same ways off with Fred.
‘Time for me to go George. You ready to now, ready to say good bye and move on.’
‘I don’t know Fred, I do feel different, after the castle and, and last night, but I’ll miss you, won’t be the same without you around’
‘I know mate but different doesn’t have to mean bad you know and we’ll meet up again’
There is nothing separate us George except time, we’ll always be together. Besides, you were always better with the girls then me, this way I’ll get a head start on you’
‘Yeh, I always was the better looking one’ George said with a smile
Fred opened his arms for a hug goodbye which George accepted, stepping forward fully expecting to pass right through.
When he felt Fred solid in his arms, this one last time, he had just enough time to squeeze him tight and whisper ‘Love you mate’
George’s armed closed together as Fred dissipated. His misty image faded leaving, just a second a small bright light, that flashed once then winked out
‘Love you to mate’ carried on the air
George stood there, head bowed, tears streaming down his face. His sorrow was still there, but the anger and resentment had passed. The road head once just blackness was light once again. George felt his life returning, started to look to the future, of returning to the shop, ideas and plans forming in his mind.
He returned to the group for breakfast
‘I’m starving what have we got to eat’
The group welcomed him back, Ron first over, gave him a hug
‘Yeh I’m good mate, thanks, you?
‘Yeh’ Ron replied, his voice croaked just a little
Hermione, with tears on her face turned away and simply said
‘Boys’ in a bewildered tone
With that the group sat down to eat and discuss plans for their journey back.
As they finished off loading the carpets and got ready to set off, George hung back a little, glancing over his shoulder at the Dryads indecision clear on his face.
Professor McGonagall walked over to him
‘Come along George, time to go’
‘Shouldn’t I stay Professor, as the father I mean?’ George asked
The Dryads froze as his question carried in the wind; three or four of the young ones looked ready to pounce, with more edging forward, readying themselves, as if for a race.
‘No, I think not George, you’d never survive’ replied the Professor casting looks of concern over his shoulder
‘Get on the carpet, I think we it’s past time we left’
The young Dryads showed a mix of disappointment and fury and the Professor, catching their looks, hurried over to the carpets and scrambled aboard as they started to lift off.
As they flew the Professor insisted lessons resume so high up in the clouds, Ignotus, the Professor and Hagrid took turns giving lectures and supervising any new magic they were trying out. A Dryad, Starlight who was accompanying them as an ambassador to seek admittance for their witches to the School, taught them the old magic they used, harnessing nature, although Hermione was soon banned from experimenting when she made it rain solidly for one hour. The mood was not helped at all by the laughter from the others as it was only Hermione’s carpet that was getting drenched.
Each evening, Ignotus would take the group and practice wand craft, working them individually, in pairs and as a group improving their skills greatly.
Finally on the morning of the fourth day since leaving the Woods, they arrived back at Beauxbatons.
As they stood and stretched they were soon surrounded by the young witches and wizards of the school. Teachers were hurrying over too, all keen to know whether the group had been successful in retrieving the Eye.
Hermione held it aloft like a trophy amidst cheers, clapping and not a few tears from everyone around.
As a group they made their way to the Oracles they were congratulated, cheered and clapped on the back nearly all the way.
Only once they got down into the lower levels of the school were they left only with the Headmistress of the school Madame Maxine.
The Oracle’s room had not changed; the round circular walls were the same dark gray, empty of pictures or hangings. Doors led off to adjoining rooms but these were all closed.
Around the Socket the three Oracles sat, the sightless eyes following them uncannily as they entered the room and took their seats opposite the old witches.
‘You have the Eye’ stated one of the Oracles
In response Hermione pulled the Eye from the bag and placed it on the Socket.
The three Oracles suddenly stiffened and each speaking different words at the same time
They were quickly ushered out of the room as one by one the Oracles fainted, their attendants rushing forward to catch them as they toppled back.
The group never got to see the Oracles again. After a feast in their honour and a night’s sleep in actual beds they were soon on their way back to Hogwarts.
Professor McGonagall wanted to continue with lessons but quickly gave up as the group pondered the Prophecy
The King has awakened to reclaim his crown
De’eath stalks the land
What was hidden has been found
The Queen is at hand
Dark and Light Unite
Riders of the Skies take flight
Warriors and Defenders learn
Dancers of Light return
To Be Continued