MuggleNet Fan Fiction
Harry Potter stories written by fans!

Night Terrors by Karaley Dargen

[ - ]   Printer Chapter or Story Table of Contents

- Text Size +

–You have no idea,” I say between two bites of egg on toast, –how glad I am that we have a double free period first thing on Fridays.”

–Do you plan on having breakfast for the next hour then?” Martha asks after she finishes her tomato.

I shrug. –Dunno. Might. I never made it back down to dinner last night. Pass the sausages?”

–I would have woken you, but you seemed pretty far out of it when I got back to the dormitory,” Jenna says, and hands me the dish. –Was practice any good?”

–Mhm. Rickett seems to think we’ve got a real chance of winning this time.” Slowly, I can feel my stomach filling up again.

–Good luck, anyway,” Martha says with a smile. –I can’t wait for the match.”

I know that’s a bit of a lie, but I appreciate it. Martha isn’t really into Quidditch, and I get it -- she just really doesn’t have the time to keep track of points and players. But she’ll come and watch and cheer us on, and that really is what matters when we’re out on the field.

–Anyway, I have to get going. I want to read through an essay on Old English Druids before Runes. Are you coming with, Jenna?” Martha gulps down the rest of her tea and gets up. –When do you want to meet for the Charms thing?”

–Uhm... Are you doing Voluntary Herbology today?”

–Probably not,” she says. –I don’t think there’s much I could do, and I’d rather use the time for other stuff. Maybe you could check my Mandrake seedlings if you’re going.”

‘Will do. See you after then?” I ask.

–Yeah, let’s just meet in the Den, then we can head to the kitchens together.”

I leave the Great Hall just a couple of minutes after Martha and Jenna, feeling slightly queasy from all the food. There’s still plenty of time before I have to go to my Defence class, but Martha’s eagerness has reminded me that I should give my Dementor essay another look. This year’s professor, an older witch called Doyle, isn’t exactly strict, but I’d hate to disappoint her. She’s one of those people that you just can’t bear to let down.

We’re a fairly small group for NEWT Defence. Most people don’t really see the point. Unless you want to go into Law Enforcement, or work with artefacts, it’s not a requirement for any job. And it’s not like you’re going to be jumped by a dark wizard in the streets on any given day. There’s a girl from Ravenclaw who wants to be a Curse Breaker, two Gryffindors who I think just take the class for the sake of it, and a Slytherin who wants to work with artefacts in the Magical Law Enforcement Department. I want to be an Auror, of course. I actually really like it with just the five of us, especially as we all get along.

–Essays on my desk, please,” Professor Doyle says as we enter the classroom. –Right, now that we’ve got that out of the way... What do you want to do today?” She smiles at us expectantly.

–Could we actually practise the Patronus Charm?” one of the Gryffs asks.

–Not before I’ve read your essays,” she says, and pats the small stack. –Don’t worry, you will get to give it a try later in the year.”

–How about tracing dark magic?” the Ravenclaw suggests. –It is part of the NEWT requirements.”

–That’d be cool,” says the Slytherin boy. –We could use that for our job applications as well.”

Professor Doyle waves her wand, and her quill scribbles something on a piece of parchment. –I’ll talk it through with the headmaster,” she says. –We might need someone from the Ministry to clear this for us.”

–How about counter-curses?” I ask. –That’s always good practice.”

There’s a general murmur of agreement, and we divide into pairs. Since we’re five, Joshua, the boy from Slytherin, ends up opposite Professor Doyle. The two Gryffindors team up, as do I and Laura, the Ravenclaw.

–All right, you know what to do,” Professor Doyle says. –Just keep going until I tell you to stop, and then we can have a discussion.”

We’ve done this often enough not to need any detailed instructions. We just take turns throwing hexes and curses at each other, while the other person tries to either block or counter them. Ideally, we’re supposed to find the right counter-curse before the curse hits us, but for our safety, we’re also allowed to use Shield Charms rather than have to go to the hospital wing.

Joshua has easily the best reflexes in our class. He’s the Slytherin Seeker, and he hasn’t missed a Snitch in over a year. When he’s up against Professor Doyle, he needs those reflexes, too. She looks like such a nice old lady, but when she starts duelling, she’s unstoppable, and that’s when we all remember why she’s such a great teacher. In a way, she reminds me a lot of my grandma on my dad’s side. Except my grandma is a Muggle, of course.

I have to stay focussed as well though. Laura is fierce with hexes. She’s particularly good at feigning one curse and then at the last second going with a completely different one, so I never know what I’m up against until it’s almost too late. Also, she knows some spells that I’ve never even heard of before she explains them to me.

–Ready?” I ask as the two Gryffindors behind us start hurling hexes at each other.

–All right,” she replies. –Three... two... one...”

My eyes dart between her face and her wand. I think I know what she’s doing, but we do all our spells non-verbally now, so I have no way of knowing for sure. I take half a breath and try to sense the energy that is building up. When the spell comes flying my way, I cast the counter-curse instinctively. I couldn’t have done it knowingly, as the hex took me completely by surprise.

A Jellyleg Jinx? That’s not Laura’s style at all.

–Sorry,” she calls, –I completely blanked. You go!”

I’ve wanted to try a modified Knee-Reversal Hex for a while, which includes the elbows as well. I conjure the structure of the spell in my mind, then channel it through my wand and throw it Laura’s way. She manages to bring up a shield only just in time.

–Are you all right?” I ask her.

–Yeah, I’m fine,” she replies. –Was that a Knee-Reversal Hex? Try again, okay? I want to get this right.”

It takes five more rounds before Laura manages to zap the hex away before it reaches her.

–Are you sure you don’t want a break?” I ask when she gets back into position. –You seem a bit off your game.”

–I told you, I’m fine,” she says, and there’s a definite edge to her voice now. –It was a new kind of hex, that’s all. Just... let’s keep going.”  

It’s probably a good idea not to tell her that it was a new hex for me as well.

We keep going for a while, but I dial it down a bit and don’t use any outlandish spells. I’m not sure if she notices. Either way, she seems to be getting more and more irritated. At some point, Professor Doyle must have noticed as well, because when Laura chooses the completely wrong counter-curse and lands on the floor with a nasty burn on her cheek, Doyle comes over and offers her a hand.

–Tonks, you go and team up with Byrd for the remaining time,” she says, and gestures to Joshua. –Why don’t you sit out for a couple of minutes, Finch? We can work out a Cooling Spell for that cheek of yours.” She tries to direct Laura to one of the chairs that have been pushed to the walls, but Laura wrenches free from her hand.

–I’m fine!” she yells, and storms out of the classroom.

There’s complete silence after the door falls shut behind Laura.

–Go on, then,” Professor Doyle finally says. –I can’t see any spells flying around.”

–Shouldn’t someone go after her?” I ask.

–Miss Finch is of age. I’m sure she’s able to take care of herself.” I can tell that Professor Doyle isn’t entirely convinced of this herself, but she’s right. Laura probably just needs some time to cool off.

Duelling Joshua takes my mind right off Laura, because it requires my full attention. His spells aren’t incredibly inventive, and he draws from a limited pool of counter-curses, but Merlin, he’s quick. By the time Professor Doyle claps her hands and tells us to each grab a chair, I’m nearly as exhausted as I was after Quidditch practice.

We have about ten minutes left to ask questions about spells that people used, and how we can efficiently block them, and what we thought our difficulties were this time. I manage to scribble down some notes on simplified versions of complicated counter-curses, and a book that Professor Doyle recommended on the subject, just in case I don’t have enough reading to do over the weekend anyway.

–All right then, great work everyone,” Professor Doyle says with a wide smile as the bell rings. –I promise I’ll try to work something out for a lesson or two on tracing dark magic.”

I only have a very light lunch, as I’m still pretty full from breakfast. There’s no trace of Laura in the Great Hall, and I wonder if I should be worried. We’re not really friends or anything, but we’ve been getting along well during Defence, and not knowing what’s going on at all does make me slightly uneasy. Since I have no way of finding her right now, though, I decide to head down to the greenhouses. I can still talk to some of her friends if she’s not turned up by dinnertime.

Armed with my gloves, a trowel, and some bean poles from the supplies shed, I start my work. During the voluntary lessons, Professor Sprout usually prepares some plants for the younger students, so she is around if we need her, but she’s not really supervising us. Martha was right; there isn’t a lot to do. As the soil is self-watering, and we can’t use fertilizer on plants this small yet, it’s all about repotting and pruning at the moment. I tie my polestogether in threes, so that they form pyramids, as we’ve learnt last year. Then I put them in the ground where my beans grow - and it’s high time I did, too, since the plants are nearing eight inches in height and some are already drooping dangerously. There’s no one in the greenhouses apart from me, and I never hear anyone enter, but just as I’m digging the holes for my last poles, someone taps me on the shoulder. I almost jump through the roof.

–Nymphadora?” Laura asks.

–Merlin, you startled me!” I exclaim. –I thought you were the Venomous Tentacula!”

–Sorry,” she says, biting her lip. –Your housemates told me you might be here. Look, I’m really sorry about earlier.”

Now that I look at her, I notice that she’s got some gauze taped to her cheek. –Oh, I- I’m sorry about that. Does it still hurt?”

–No, I put something on it. I don’t even notice it now.” She fidgets with her sleeves for a moment. –And anyway, it wasn’t really your fault. You were right, I was completely off my game. So, yeah, sorry.”

There’s a short awkward pause as I stand there clutching my trowel and my bean poles, and she looks around the room with the patch on her cheek. Apparently, apologies are the only conversation we can come up with.

–Do you need a hand with that?” she finally asks, and I gratefully accept. Not because I need the help, but because it breaks the silence.

–Those are some impressive plants,” she says when we’re done. –I never really had a green thumb. Do you need any more help?”

I’m getting the feeling that she really wants to do something, so I show her how to carefully tie the vines to the poles. She does a good job, actually, and it seems to calm her down a bit.

–So, what was up earlier?” I ask while we’re both busy with the plants. Laura seems to contemplate an answer, but then bites her lip and busies herself with a knot. –There’s clearly something going on,” I say, refusing to let it go.

–It’s Morgan,” she says, and when I look up, I can see that she has turned her head away. –He’s my- my boyfriend.” Her cheeks flush. –And they’re still not letting me into the hospital wing to see him.”

–What’s he in the hospital wing for?” I tie a knot around my last bean plant.

–No one knows,” Laura replies. A small sob escapes her lips. –And Madam Pomfrey won’t tell me anything.”

Something inside me stirs. –Hang on, when was he taken to the hospital wing?”

Laura gives a jerk and wipes her eyes. –All I know is that he didn’t show up for breakfast this morning, and when I went looking for him in the break, his friends told me that he was taken to the hospital wing.” Her voice has reached a dangerously high point, and her lower lip is trembling when she finishes speaking.

–So they know what happened to him?” I ask cautiously.

–Not really.” Laura finishes with her side of the beans as well and gets back up from the ground. Her hands and knees are covered in dirt, and her face is blotchy. –All they could tell me was that they couldn't wake him up this morning.”