The Magic carpets landed just outside the dark forbidding woods and Harry and the others scrambled to their feet, keen to stretch their legs.
'We won't need much, just out wits and our wands' instructed Professor McGonagall
Nicola took the lead and the others gathered behind her, throwing nervous glances at each other and the woods. They had all been in the dark woods at Hogwarts but these felt wrong somehow, the oppressive air was palpable and felt more solid the ethereal.
'Looks inviting' quipped Fred
No one answered as they slowly made their way into woods.
As they went deeper, the trees took on a more twisted form, tortured even and the noise, low at first, but rising in volume the deeper they went. Shrieks, moans and cries filled the cold night air.
Crikey' whispers Ron, 'they do make a racket'
'So would you if you had been entombed into a tree for a thousand years and doomed to a thousand more’ retorted Nicola
‘There are people in the trees' Ron said with horror in his voice.
'I wish you boys would read a book once in a while' Hermione said in exasperation. I read in A History.............'
' of Hogwarts' Both Ron and Harry finished in unison flashing a grin across to each other.
Hermione glared at both
'If I can finish. In A History of Durmstrangs Academy, I read that the Dryad witches were imprisoned in their trees for eternity. Their wailing gives the wood its name.'
'You don't say' said Ron dryly
'Its silly superstition of course, the wind through the branches makes the noise'
Ron looks up at the branches, perfectly still against the dark of the night sky.
'There's no wind' he whispers to Harry.
Nicole, biting off the words as she spoke, ‘
A thousand years ago the Dryads were cursed to spend their lives within the trees they love so much, never to die, to grow old just to exist for as long as their tree remains standing'
'Voldemort' said Harry bitterly.
No, not Voldermort, someone far more powerful, far more evil then he was
'Silly superstition is it’ Nicola stands square on to Hermonie, her eyes wet with unshed tears.
‘Go look then, go look at your silly superstition in the trees'
Nicola points towards one of the trees, her arm, hand and finger one long line, rigid with
anger and sorrow
Hermonie turns her head and looks in the direction and gasps
She rushes to the tree, her hands running over the rough surface, a face clearly visible within the contours of the bark. 'There must be something we can do, some way to get them out?' she pleaded.
'The witches of the Beauxbatons Academy have been trying for a thousand years to no avail. The magic is too powerful to counteract. Come there is nothing we can do here and we have more pressing matters to deal with'
The companions, each standing before a tree, gently caressing the face within, slowly, reluctantly, turned away, their faces troubled.
The wailing which had quietened as they connected with the dryads in side, started up again, sounded the same to all, all but one. Nicola looked up at the trees in wonder, detecting a change in the noise, the hope within the shrilling noise of the captured souls. She looked around at her companions and wondered.
‘No, this cannot be allowed to go on; I will not allow it to go on’
The group turned to see Hermione had not left her tree; she stood with her wand out, her eyes angry as she flicked her wand and pointed it to the ground with a loud cry
A powerful stream of green/blue magic exploded from the tip of her wand into the ground in front of her. Slowly, as the magic continued to pour down, it started to spread out, over the ground, surrounding each tree before spreading further, all across the woods the magic flowed.
The Magical stream slowed from her wand, then stopped leaving an eerie silence as everyone waiting to see what would happen next.
The carpet of green/blue slowly sunk into the ground, disappearing from view momentarily before being seen again within the trees. The roots had absorbed the magic and now it travelled up the trunks, into the branches, to the very leaves themselves, before there a loud ‘pop’ a bright flash and a Witch appeared before the nearest tree. Loud pops and bright flashes came thick and fast as all across the woods as more and more of the trees dispelled their witches back into the world.
The newly released witches looked about in wonder before letting out cries of joy, running and hugging each other. Soon as a group they turned to Hermione and shyly came closer in awe of such a powerful witch
One bolder witch stepped forward and threw her arms around Hermione, crying, mumbling her thanks. This broke the ice and all the witches crowded around, crying their thanks, tears of joy streaming down their faces.
Nicola herself, stood dumbstruck. The most powerful witches of her coven had tried to release the Dryads, for this young girl to have done so, was amazing.
‘She really is the greatest Witch of her generation you know’ Ron said proudly as he stepped up beside Nicola.
Finally Hermione managed to escape the Dryads and rejoined her friends, flushed with success and excitement.
‘That was amazing Hermione, truly amazing’ praised Harry, clearly impressed and slightly in awe of the raw magical power he just witnessed.
The others was equally impressed and praised her, including Professor McGonagall who was as shaken as Nicola at witnessing such power from a fellow witch.
‘They want to throw a feast in our honour’ Hermione explained
‘I tried to explain we had to press onto the castle but they are insisting and offering to show us a secret way in tomorrow, when its light.’
‘Well I for one prefer that idea then tackling the place at night, besides I’m starving’
Hermione looked exasperated, ‘you’re always starving. Harry, Professor, what do you think’
Harry was keen to get the Eye back and return to Hogwarts, he had so been looking forward to an uneventful normal school year but agreed with Ron, if the Dryads know of a secret way into the castle that was more of a plan then they had at that moment. Going during the daytime also had an appeal, not to mention the idea of a feast sounded very tempting.
‘I agree with Ron, a feast sounds good and we could all do with some rest, Nicola, how do you feel waiting a few more hours before tackling the castle and retrieving the Eye’
‘If the Dryads know a way into the castle we should accept their aid, I vote for tomorrow too’ Agreed Nicola.
Professor McGonagall looked around the rest of the group who were all nodding their agreements too.
‘That’s settled then, we’ll accept the kind invitation of the Dryads to feast tonight and their assistance into the castle tomorrow’
As the group followed the Dryads through to a clearing in the woods, Nicola found herself walking alongside Draco 'So you are one of Harry's closest friends, along with the witch.
Nicole indicated Hermonie with a jerk of her head.
With a shake of his head ‘No, that's not me; you are thinking of Ron'
Draco quickened his step and walked ahead as Nicole digested this piece of information. She looked at Draco as he walked ahead, and then followed. Her step a little lighter and a small smile played across her lips.