Meadow spent most of her free time outside by the Lake with Daphne, Theodore, and Terrance, although sometimes she stayed in and read second year books from the library. The break they had was due to the professors grading everyone's exams. The year was slowing down to an end, and soon, Meadow would be back underground, where no one except Severus could find her, Shane, and Uncle Remus.
Chapter Twenty: The Closer, the Worse
Meadow was in a classroom once again practicing spells. "Oi! There you are," Shane yelled, causing Meadow to wave her wand wrong and the effect of that was to have whiskers on her goblet she was trying to create from a mouse. "That looks weird."
She rolled her eyes, "That's because you frightened me," Meadow waved her wand and muttered the reverse spell and the small white mouse appeared standing on its hind legs.
"When did we learn that spell?"
Meadow huffed, "We haven't yet; we learn it next year. Is there something you need?"
Shane grunted in response, but he smiled and grabbed her hand, "Can you take a break? We're going down to Hagrid's hut tonight, Harry asked if you wanted to come with since it's important."
"I suppose I could come along. When are we going?"
Meadow sucked in a breath, "Okay, let me clean up quick," she waved her wand again and said "Wingardium Leviosa!" Her things lifted up and she flicked her wrist, they went in her pack in order. The two looked into the bag and Meadow nodded to herself.
"When did you become so amazing at magic?" Shane asked, as the two walked through the castle.
Meadow blushed, "I'm not; I just study and read, and practice everything."
Shane rolled his eyes and put an arm around Meadow's shoulders, "I'm just glad to have you as a sister."
She shrugged him off and smiled. The two walked over to Harry and Granger, whom were waiting by the courtyard doors. "Come on, let's go!" Harry urged, and raced forward.
"Why are we going to Hagrid's?" Meadow asked.
Harry paused and let the other three catch up, "Don't you think it's a bit odd how a stranger was carrying around a dragon's egg in his pocket? And the dragon is the only thing Hagrid wanted for the longest time?"
He let that sink in as they ran towards the small hut. "Hagrid! The night you got Norbert, did you see what the stranger looked like?"
"Harry, Hermione, Shane, Meadow! Hello, can I get you some tea?"
"No, we're in a bit of a hurry," Harry said, "Norbert, the stranger?"
Hagrid shook his massive head, "No, 'fraid not, he wouldn't take his hood off. It's not unusual at the pub I was at. It's called the Hog's Head."
"Did Hogwarts come up at all?"
"Must of… Yes, it did. He asked if I was able to care fer a dragon. I said I was more than capable of it after caring for Fluffy."
"Was this stranger interested in Fluffy?"
"O'course! You don't see many three-headed dogs around even at Hogwarts. I said, as long as yer know how to calm him down, ya just play a bit of music, and it'll put him right to sleep!" Hargid's eyes got huge as he realized what he just said. "I shouldn't have told yeh that!"
But it was too late, the four bolted from the hut back towards the castle. As they neared the courtyard and darted past all the students that were lounging about in the sun, they ran into Professor McGonagall. "What are you four doing inside?"
"We need to see Professor Dumbledore," Harry said firmly.
"He left ten minutes ago for a very important ministry meeting," McGonagall replied sharply.
"Now? But this is important." Harry whined.
Meadow spoke up, "Harry, Dumbledore is a very important man, and obviously he has duties that he has to do for Hogwarts outside of school."
"Miss Snape is right Mister Potter. Why are you inside on a day like this anyways?"
Harry looked down at his feet before he regained courage "It's about the Sorcerer's Stone."
Whatever Professor McGonagall was thinking, it wasn't that, and she dropped her books she was carrying, "How did you four-"
"It's a really long and complicated story, but we think it's in danger, that someone is trying to steal the stone." Harry replied, and the five started to pick up her books. "We need Dumbledore here, as long as he's here, no one will try to steal it."
"I assure you Potter that it is safe. Off you lot, enjoy this nice weather." And with that the Professor marched off.
The four all hunched together, Harry spoke, "We go tonight, I'll try and get there before Snape does."
Meadow rolled her eyes but suppressed a comment. "Harry that's too dangerous," Granger spoke up.
"Not if I used my invisibility cloak, I can sneak past Flitch and Miss Norris. It'll be easy from there, Hagrid gave me a flute for Christmas that I can play-"
Someone cleared their throat from behind them, and Granger gasped. It was the potions professor. "What on earth are you four doing inside on a day like this? People would think you're up to something."
"Enough, why don't you three ever keep your noses out of things?" Meadow ducked her head, and Snape narrowed in on the movement, "Miss Snape, why aren't you with your friends?"
"I am sir," She replied and he glared at her. "They were outside in the sun, I came in for a little while so I could cool down, I don't want to get sunburnt."
The professor accepted that response, "Why don't you run along now." The four grimly nodded and walked outside, Snape than disappeared as well.
They all locked eyes, "Can all four of us fit under that cloak of yours?" Meadow asked.
"Us?" Harry blinked.
"Come off it, don't be stupid mate, we're coming with you," Shane piped up for the first time in a while.
"I'm coming with as well, I should probably go try and find something useful in my books," And with that she headed back inside to the Gryffindor's common room.
Harry sighed, "I hope you know what you're getting into."
"I know bloody well what I'm getting into Mister Harry Potter," Meadow exclaimed, causing the two boys to flinch in surprise. "Now answer me, is there enough room for the four of us?"
"Yes, I'm sure of it."
"Good," Meadow said shortly, "I want you three to meet me by the-" She cut off shortly as she thought about it, it would be more work for those three to come all the way down to the main level, than to turn around and go back up the stairs. "I'll meet you three by the door. Don't give me that look you two, I'm a Slytherin, I know how to sneak around. Besides there's only three things we need to look out for, Flitch, Miss Norris, and Peeves. It'll be a synch. Just be there when I get there. I'll slip under the cloak right away."
Harry and Shane shared a look, the two nodded, and Harry spoke up, "We leave at midnight. Meadow, try and whip up a potion that could help. Since you'll be in the dungeons, maybe you can keep your eye on Snape to make sure he doesn't wander off. Shane and I will be outside for the rest of the day just to get the professors off our backs."
"What should I try to do? I only have a few hours, that narrows it down to pepper-up and or I can try one of mine."
"Anything, it doesn't matter," Harry replied and the three spit up, Harry and Shane going outside, and Meadow raced off to the dungeons.
"Why are you still up?" Daphne asked as she opened her curtains and looked over at the bed next to her. Meadow had a candle lit and she was sitting at the edge of her bed; she was turning the clear potion between her hands. It was one she created, she hoped it would help.
"I couldn't sleep. Go back to bed Daph," Meadow turned, sliding the potion up her sleeve, and smiled sadly at her friend. "I'm just not ready to go back home yet, to lose everything, to not see my friends again."
Daphne looked at her with sad eyes, "I'm sorry…" There was a pause before the brunette pressed on, "Besides you won't lose everything, maybe you can convince Lupin and your dad that you need to come visit me, otherwise I'll come find you."
The two girls laugh, "I'll try to come visit, you get some sleep, I think I'll walk around the common room to wear myself out."
"G'night," Daphne rolled over, her curtains automatically moved to cover the sides of her bed.
Meadow quietly adjusted her potion into her robe pocket with her wand. Bee, her no longer fluffy kitten, looked up at her with yellow eyes. The girl looked at her cat, Bee's fur was still the light-golden color, but her ears looked like they had been dipped in black paint, and Meadow thought of as beautiful. She meowed at Meadow, and the girl shook her head, shushing Bee, and she walked out of the room, shutting her door behind her.
Meadow walked twice around the common room before the clock tower started to ring. After the twelfth ring, she headed out of the Slytherin common room and towards the challenged that awaited. Right away she almost ran smack into Flitch, but she ducked behind a knight, and Flitch carried on his slow pace as he swung his lantern back and forth. Meadow stayed still until she couldn't hear his squeaky lantern. She slipped out from behind the knight and dashed up to the Main floor, where she hid behind the hourglass house points. Nothing moved, and Meadow raced up to the third floor, going down the hallway that she figured was forbidden, soon enough she found her answer. It was dimly lit, cobwebs covered statues, and she heard voices.
Voices she recognized, "There she is," Shane's voice said as she was covered in a cloak.
"Let's hurry, Snape could already be down there," Harry commented.
The four moved over to the door, "Oh move over," Granger said as she stuck her wand out.
"Wait," Meadow hissed, Peeves came bouncing down, as the four saw them, their feet shuffled.
"Who's there?" Peeves asked. "I know your there, I'll go run off and say a student is out of bed. STUDENT-"
"Peeves," Meadow said in a hoarse voice, "The Bloody Baron has his own reasons for being invisible." He almost fell out of the air, "I want you to stay away from this place. Go bug Flitch."
"Yes, your bloodiness. Anything," Peeves said and disappeared out of the third floor.
"That was bloody brilliant Doe," Shane said and squeezed her hand. "How did you know that Peeves was scared of the Bloody Barron."
"I am in Slytherin house," She replied and Granger had gotten the door open.
"Come on you three," Granger whispered, and stepped inside. Fluffy, the giant, three-headed dog, was snoring. Meadow gasped, not having seen Fluffy.
"He's actually kind of cute," Meadow muttered and Shane gave her a look, "I'm only saying, I can see why Hagrid would like him."
"Snape's already gone past, the door is open," Harry said, and the other three looked down to see the trap door open and exposing darkness.
"Who goes first?" Granger whispered, "I'm certainly not."
"I am, if you three want to take the cloak and head back-"
"Are you nuts? You think I came all this way from the dungeons to turn back around? No. We're with you Harry, start bloody believing it." Meadow snapped. All of the sudden it got quiet, and Fluffy started growling.
"Look what you did," Shane commented, "You went and woke him up. Harry play your flute."
Harry patted his pockets, trying to find it, Fluffy was growling more fiercely and started to stand up.
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray. You never know dear how much I love you please don't take my sunshine away. Get moving," Meadow hissed and restarted the lullaby.
Fluffy gradually laid back down and started snoring, "I'll go first. I'll tell you if it's okay or not, if it's not, go get Hedwig, send a letter to Dumbledore."
The other two nodded, and Harry jumped. "It's okay! You can jump! It's really soft." Shane jumped as soon as he said it was okay, and Granger looked at Meadow. Meadow nodded at Granger, and the blonde stepped closer to the trapped door. Granger jumped and Meadow jumped right after. They plunged down the dark drop and landed on something soft.
"We must be miles underneath the school," Granger commented.
"Lucky this plant thing is here," Shane said patting the plant.
"LUCKY?" Granger leapt up and tried to find an exit. "Look at you three! This is Devil's Snare." The plant had vines around their legs, Harry, since he jumped first, was covered. A vine grabbed Granger and forced her to sit down again.
"Just relax, the more you struggle, the faster it will try to kill you," Meadow said, and the plant dropped her underneath them.
"Meadow!" Shane yelled, and he struggled harder.
Granger than dropped from the plant, "Hermione!" The two boys yelled.
"Just relax! Do what we say!" Granger yelled back, she looked at Meadow and rolled her brown eyes, "Shane won't relax, not after you disappeared, he started freaking out."
"Devil's Snare," Meadow mouthed over, "Think Granger, what can we do."
Harry dropped from the plant, "Are you two okay?"
"Yeah, fine," they responded as they kept thinking.
"Devil's Snare, loves darkness," Meadow said.
"Of course! Devil's Snare will sulk in the sun!" Granger said excitedly, and whipped out her wand. The same blue fire that she had set on Snape, came out and the plant started shrieking and shriveling.
"We'll catch up in a couple minutes," Meadow said, and the two nodded, heading through the passageway that was on the right. Shane dropped out, and Meadow ran to him.
"It's okay, you're fine. Just relax Shane," Meadow whispered, as she knelt down by him, she knew if he didn't calm down soon, he'd have an anxiety attack, and that wouldn't help them get to the stone any faster. Shane draped his arms around her and hid his head in her shoulder, he was trying to slow his breathing. "You're okay. One, two, three, in. One, two, three, out."
Soon Shane got his breathing back to normal, and the two caught up, to see Harry and Granger staring up at little objects that were flying around. "What are those?"
"They look like birds," Granger said, "But those can't be just for decoration. That's too easy."
Harry squinted, "Those aren't birds. They're keys!"
"It must be for this door, it's locked," Meadow said, turning the other's heads towards her, "It's bound to be an old-fashioned one, and silver, like the handle here."
"Harry, catch," Shane said as he tossed him a broomstick and he looked at Meadow, "There's two more for you and Hermione."
"Right," Granger said and hesitantly grabbed on.
Meadow grabbed the other, mounted and headed towards the door, just in case. Harry circled as the wings chased after him, "We need to split up, Hermione say at the bottom, Shane go further than me, but not to the ceiling, and Meadow, you're good where you're at. The key is that one- the one with bright blue wings." Harry dogged a couple keys that turned to jab at his eyes, "On my count, Hermione pull up towards it, Shane, dive down, I'll catch it. NOW!"
The other two did as they were told as Harry streaked after it, he caught it and dropped down to toss it to Meadow. Harry than zoomed away keeping the other keys from pecking at Meadow as she pushed the key in the door and turned it. "Come on! Quickly now!"
Granger was already on the ground running. Harry and Shane tried to go through with their brooms, but the brooms stopped short of the door, the two boys flung off and hit the pavement hard. Granger slipped through the door and Meadow slammed it shut. They could hear the other keys pound on the door.
"Now what do we do?" Granger whined as she looked ahead. The other three turn to look at what Granger saw.
"Isn't it obvious?" Shane said, receiving quiet peers, "We play our way across, we have to play chess, and be chessmen." He walked up to a black knight, "Is that right?" The black knight nodded. Shane turned to the three, "Right then, Meadow unless you got good at chess this last year, no offence but none of you are actually good."
"We're not offended," Harry cut it, "Just tell us what to do."
"Take the place of that bishop, Hermione, go next to him instead of that castle."
"And what about me?" Meadow asked looked up at Shane as he took his spot where the knight was standing.
Shane looked at the knight again, "Can we have one sit out?" The knight froze for a second before nodded, going over to Meadow, and picking her up so she couldn't help her friends if they needed help.
"Shane this is ridiculous! I can help!" Meadow yelled and tried to struggle against the knight whom held her. She looked so small in the arms of the knight. "I can help!" She tried again, but her voice cracked and tears leaked out of her eyes.
"Meadow, I'd have to place you as a pawn or queen, both positions are deathly dangerous, I'm not going to do that if you can sit out." Shane said before he started the game. As the game went on, Shane made sure just as many white pieces were taken out as their own black. He saved both Granger and Harry from danger twice after neglecting to watch them. Shane also darted around the chess board, taking out pieces and nearly getting taken out himself.
"That's it… it's the only way," Shane muttered to himself as the white queen turned to face toward him.
"NO!" The other three yelled.
"Oh shut it!" Shane yelled back, "That's chess. Harry, you'll be free to check the King. We'll win, you can go forward. I'll be fine, they can't honestly let these chess pieces kill me. Dumbledore would want the person knocked out to see who would be going to Azkaban."
His logic made sense, and before they could protest any further, Shane took one shaky step forward. In one quick flash the white queen pounced, hitting Shane on the head with her arm, and she dragged him off the board. Granger screamed, and Harry yelled "Stay in your spot!" Meadow sobbed and wrapped her arms around the black knight that held her from entering. Slowly Harry took three steps forward and to the left.
The white king his crown off and threw it at Harry's feet. They won. The two raced over to Shane as the black knight set Meadow down. She took off towards her brother, she slid and placed his head on her lap. Meadow smiled slightly and looked up, "He's just knocked out. He's still breathing." She took her wand out as well as the clear potion she made, and took her robe off, placing it under his head. "Let's go. We have a stone to get."
With new energy, the three raced off past the white chess pieces. Little did they know the black knight walked over to Shane and knelt by him, acting as a protector to the boy.
"What's next? In the professors?" Harry asked.
"The Devil's Snare was Sprout's," Meadow said.
Granger added, "And Flitwick must've charmed the keys. That was just McGonagall, transfiguring the chessmen to act alive."
"So what's left is Quirrell and Snape," said Meadow, "Ugh, gross, what's that smell?"
The three had come into another room and found a giant troll out cold with a bump on its head. Meadow froze for a second before Granger tugged on her sweater; they moved quietly over it and to the next door, hoping nothing as frightening as that was through the next door.
It was nothing frightening at all, it was seven different shaped bottles with liquid in them. Meadow smiled, "Leave this to me," she walked over to the table and picked up the roll of paper. Fire sprang up behind them, trapping them in the room. "Don't worry, if there's anything I got from my father it's his potion abilities, I'll get us out in a synch:
Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, whichever you would find,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in the line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
First, however slyly the poison tries to hid
You will always find some on nettle wine's left side;
Second, different are those who stand at either end,
But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.
"Granger, I need your logic as well," Meadow said at the end as she moved up and down. "Three are poison; two are wine; one will get us through the black fire, and one will get us back through the purple. The second in on each side are twins: I'll assume either the wine or the poison, however, one wine is on the left side of the poison. Which lets me believe the twins are wine." Meadow rambled on as Granger took the parchment from her and read it over.
"I've got it!" Meadow said excitedly, she bounced up and down, and pointed to the tiny bottle on the end, "This gets us through the black fire."
"There's hardly any in there," Harry pointed out but Meadow smiled.
She waved her clear potion in the air, "That's why I have this,"
"What is that?" Granger asked perplexed.
"It's a potion I made just in case this happened, if poured into another liquid it will take the exact properties as the liquid. It's like an expanding potion," Meadow replied, thrilled with herself.
"I've never heard of such a thing," Granger said.
"Talk about it later. We have to get the stone. Hermione, go back, get Shane. Grab the broom sticks and send a letter to Dumbledore with Hedwig. Those broomsticks will get you past everything again. Meadow can help me with the stone," Harry cut in before the two had a logic conversation.
"But Harry – what if You-Know-Who is with him?"
"I was lucky before wasn't I? And I'm planning on taking one of the poisons with me. Maybe we can surprise him with Meadow under my cloak."
Granger pulled the invisibility cloak out from her pocket when they were up by Fluffy. Her lip started to tremble and she threw her arms around Harry. "You're a great wizard Harry."
"Hermione! I'm not as good as you," He said embarrassed.
"Me?" Granger let go of him, "Books and cleverness? There are more important things, like friendship and bravery. Be careful!"
"I will be," Harry said blushing.
"And Meadow," Granger said without hesitating, Meadow blinked, Granger had called her by her first name. "You be careful as well. You'll the closest girl to me as I've got as a friend. You're a brave, witty Slytherin."
Meadow blushed as well, "Thank you Gran-Hermione. I'm glad I can help out."
"You drink first," Harry said.
"Which one?" Hermione asked, and Meadow pointed to the round bottle on the right. Hermione nodded and picked it up. Nervously, she tipped the bottle back and took a long drink. She shuttered.
"It's not poison is it?" Harry asked, panicked.
Hermione shook her head, "Just like ice."
"Go, before it wears off."
"Be careful you two!"
Hermione nodded and walked through the purple flames to go back.
"You're sure of this Meadow?" Harry asked as he held the small bottle up.
"Crystal," She grabbed the bottle with careful hands and poured some of her potion into it. Immediately the clear potion was suffocated by the blue potion. "It should be the exact same as before. I know my ability, dad taught me from a young age. I've been making my own potions for a while now."
Harry nodded, "Pour some of the poison into that, if he only sees me, you can sneak around behind him and throw it on him, and it'll distract him enough for me to grab the stone. Can you do this even if it's your dad?"
"IF it's my dad, I will, because that means he's bad, if it's not, I'll do it anyways," Meadow promised.
"Let's do this," Harry said and took a glop of the blue potion, he shuttered. Meadow picked up one of the twins and poured it into her clear potion, next she grabbed the blue potion from Harry and drank the last of it. Ice spread through her veins. Harry threw his cloak over Meadow, she reached out and grabbed his hand, and the two walked into the black fire.