The following day dawned bright and clear. The chosen few were ready and waiting. George had supplied Magic Carpets which had them all a buzz with excitement. They were used to riding broomsticks and some had ridden on magical creatures such as hippogriffs but a carpet!
Piled with food, change of clothes, Hagrid’s armour and other travel supplies they were soon off into the clear skies over England. As the glittering sea rushed beneath them Professor McGonagall thought some study would not go amiss and began to quiz them on Potion and before the day was out they were landing in the courtyard of Beauxbatons amidst a gathering of Witches and Wizards, all dressed in blue, wands at the ready in fear it was another attack.
Once they saw Fleur they crowded round the group shaking hands and clapping them on the back and were practically carried into the castle where Madam Maxine was waiting to greet them.
‘Many thanks for coming Professor McGonagall, we of course intended to come to Ogwarts aid but were prevented from doing so as I am sure Fleur has explained. The Oracles told us to wait, neither to fight our captors nor to send our own expedition to that school. All would end in failure. Send for elp they say, send for elp from Ogwarts’
It was clear Madam Maxine was far from happy with the events over the last year, held captive in her own school, forbidden to fight or to retrieve what was taken.
As they walked the corridors and down the stairs they slowly went lower and lower into the depths of the castle.
With a small smile playing on her lips Madam Maxine indicating that they should go ahead through the archway and door ahead alone.
They went though in to large circular room, water glistened on the walls and the stead drip drip drip echoed around the room. The floor was covering in a swirling mist which seemed to glow. In the centre, seated around a bubbling cauldron were three old crones, dressed in dark decaying robes, covered in cobwebs, unmoving, still as death, each atop a black stone.
‘I don’t like this’ squeaked Ron who then gave a small cry as the middle crone slowly raised her hand and pointed her skeletal finger directly at him and gave an ice shivering cackle.
Harry and Hermione immediately stepped forward in front of the others just as the old crone on the left started to cough and shake before the middle crone’s cackle crumbled into laughter, which was soon joined in by the one of the right who had been shaking moments before trying to stop herself from laughing aloud.
Still laughing, the middle crone broke the spell with a wave of her hand and the real Oracles revealed themselves.
They were all laughing so hard, tears were streaming down their faces, the one of the left was holding her sides and kept saying
‘Stop stop, it hurts oh# then burst out laughing all over again.
Around the room behind the Oracles were 3 boys and 3 girls of the School, there to attend to the needs of the Oracles. They were all grinning openly and indicating that visitors should take the seats opposite. In the middle, the cauldron was gone, replaced by, what look like a half cup, the Socket, they correctly deduced.
Taking their seats Harry and the others couldn’t help but smile and then chuckle themselves, so infectious was the laughter of the three old women. Just as one or two would compose themselves and start to welcome the guests, another would let out a chuckle sending them all into fits of laughter again.
Once composed the middle Witch welcomed the group, offering them tea and cakes.
Hermione gave Rom a smack on his hand as he immediately leaned forward to help himself making him sit back and wait for the others. Otherwise there would be none left she explained she said, to no one in particular.
George gave Ron a wink and piled 3 cakes onto his plate before settling back into the comfy sofa.
The cobwebbed, black cloaked crones were gone, replaced by three, very old women dressed resplendently in plush robes of dark blue velvet shot through with a sliver thread which flashed as it caught the light of the many candles around the, dry, stone walls. Behind the Oracles was the only other door, which they later learnt led to their sitting rooms and bedrooms all done out according to their individual wishes and interests.
The Oracles took time to compose themselves whilst their guests took tea and cakes and settled into the sofas and chairs. There sightless eyes stared intently at each one.
Ron turned to Hermione and whispered into her ear
‘It’s like they can see us’
‘There are many different ways of seeing young man’ the middle Oracle said making them all jump. This caused a chuckle from the witches.
‘We can see plenty, more than most’
All three Oracles seemed to be looking at Beauxbatons girl that was standing against the wall and then back to one of their group.
‘Nicola, come and join us, it is our wish that she travels with you to retrieve the Eye’
The young witch left the wall and walked over to join the group, her eyes seemed to be searching for someone as they took in the group and for a moment it they seem to stare before she took a seat next to George.
Professor McGonagall cleared her throat
‘Can you give us any information or direction as to where the Durmstrangs might be?’
All three Oracles turned to the Professor
‘Welcome Sister. We have no sight we can share but this, go to the wailing woods; there you meet your guide and an old friend’
The Professor nodded looking at Nicole who confirmed she knew where to find these woods.
The Oracles faced them all and in a single strange ominous voice they said
‘Your journey will be hazardous and your numbers will not be the same coming back as going’
They all looked at each other wondering who would not be returning and what that meant to ones left behind.
The Oracles stiff stance relaxed again and they helped themselves to tea and cakes, tasking one of their attendants to show the group out and back up the levels to the dining halls.
As they left they heard one of the Oracles say
‘Did you see the young Defender, he nearly peed his pants’ followed by a howl of laughter from all three
‘Now look, I’ve spilled my tea’ which seem to set them off laughing again
‘The Warriors though, did you see the way they moved’
‘Ay, strong they will be’
Their voices grew fainter as the moved further along the corridor, the last thing they heard was ‘peed his pants I tell you’ and then sounds of laughter echoing along the hallways.
The following morning the group including Nicole stepped upon the carpets and as they rose a cheer went up from the crowd of Witches and Wizards, young and old that had assembled to see them off. It would take three days for the carpets to travel to the Woods, the magic needed to keep the aloft didn’t last long enough to make it in one single journey so they were forced to stop and camp overnight.
The Professor was quick to organise more lessons along the way, much to Hermione’s delight, though she was the only one, the others grumbled but still knuckled down to the lessons as they were whisked through the air on flying carpets!