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 Post subject: Harry Potter -- A Tale of Four Houses (PG)
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2009 2:42 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 4:31 am
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The prompt I was given for this one was: 4 couples: Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley, Cho Chang and Michael Corner, Susan Bones and Ernie MacMillan and Pansy Parkinson and Draco Malfoy are trapped in an ancient maze. They have to work out together how to get out and get back home. This is well out of my 'normal' writing zone, so I hope it worked :D It's set in some nebulous time during Half Blood Prince after my favourite couple got together :heart but before the events of the end. These are the first 2 parts, I'm still working on parts 3 and 4 and I will post them as soon as I get them done.

Gryffindor Courage: Ginny

My first thought when I woke up was, ‘What the goddam bloody hell is this place?’ I know for a fact I went to sleep in my bed in Gryffindor Tower. I was thinking of Harry, of course, and I know that I was warm, snuggled into my blankets and had a relatively soft mattress under me. Well, it was soft compared to what I was lying on now, which, after a bit of fumbling, was revealed to be rock of some sort.

I sat stock upright, gasping in horror. Until that moment I was kind of half thinking this was part of a really weird dream. But the feel of the solid rock, firm and cool beneath my fingers, jolted me into reality. I really was in some rocky place. Beside me, wakened by my sudden movement, Harry stirred and looked up. He looked as confused as I felt when he saw me there.

‘Ginny? What? I mean – you shouldn’t be here. Not that I don’t like seeing you, of course.’ He stammered out the last line as he saw my less than ecstatic expression. I temporarily shook off my feeling of ‘what the hell is going on?’ and concentrated on the knowledge that Harry was there too. If he was with me, then no matter what this was all about, I figured it would at least be fun trying to figure it out.

‘Take a look around you, Harry. This is not Gryffindor Tower so I don’t think we’re going to be in trouble for sneaking into each other’s rooms.’

Harry grinned. He was remembering the time we did get caught together, I guess. Not that we were doing anything bad that day, mind, just lying together talking, but we must have fallen asleep and old McGonagall found us when she did her morning rounds. Oh, how the rumours flew around the school over that one. I snorted. It had been kind of fun actually, pretending to live up to the reputation. I figured if we were discovered missing today rumours would be even more … well, I bet they would be salacious to say the least.

‘Stop smirking, Harry. I’m serious. And what’s more, we have company.’


I took his head and turned it to look to his left, where there were six more shapes scattered around the room. It was a room, of sorts. While it was made of rock, it wasn’t solid sheets of rock; on closer inspection, it was made of rough-hewn rock bricks. The room was about twelve feet square and there was one exit from each side. Harry and I were in one corner and the other six people were roughly positioned in the other three. It all seemed awfully – organised, was the best word for it, I guess.

Being a girl of action, I stood up, noticing in passing that I was still in my pyjamas, and moved purposefully off to look over the other people. I saw Harry groping around for his glasses as I moved off. I felt a pang of worry – how were we going to cope if he couldn’t even see? – until I saw them by his legs.

‘By your leg, Harry,’ I called behind me as I reached the first pair. It was Susan Bones and Ernie McMillan. The next two were Cho Chang and Michael Corner, and finally I came to Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson. Merlin! Of all the people we could be shut in here with it had to be them? Carefully, so as to avoid waking them too quickly, I made my way back to Harry. He had finally got mastery of his glasses, and was blinking around at the room.

‘It’s Susan, Ernie, Michael, Cho, Malfoy and Parkinson,’ I whispered to him.

‘Malfoy? Oh great. Just who I want to be shut up with.’

‘Have you noticed one thing about this, Harry? Whatever made us come here has selected four couples – one couple representing each house. This smells like a bad set up.’

‘Yeah, it does, doesn’t it? I wonder if this has something to do with Malfoy’s mission.’

I rolled my eyes at him. Seriously, he was still far too obsessed with Malfoy but I could play that one to my advantage.

‘Could be, Harry, could be. Maybe we should, you know, talk to him, try and figure it out.’

He glared at me. OK, I don’t think I did that one very subtly, but talking to the others was still a good idea. While we had been talking the other pairs had woken up, and were doing the double takes we’d already been through.

‘Hey, Susan!’ I called. I chose her because she was the nicest of the other girls. Plus Cho and Michael were both exes of Harry and mine, and of course Malfoy was, we he wasn’t our favourite person, nor were we his if I was being entirely fair. Susan looked up from the intense discussion she seemed to be having with Ernie.

‘What’s up, Ginny? What’s going on here?’

‘I don’t know, but I think we should go check it out. There’s nothing to be gained from sitting here examining our toes, right?’

Beside me Harry was nodding, but the others didn’t look too keen.

‘That’s the way, Gryffin-whores, just go off bull-headed without thinking. Just what I’d expect of a couple of no-brainers like you two.’ Malfoy’s voice came sneering out of his corner. I bristled at the words, but decided to keep concentrating on Susan rather than give Malfoy the reaction he clearly wanted.

‘Until we know what we’re dealing with, we’re never going to work anything out. Besides, we could just walk out one of those exits and be at Hogwarts. We won’t know til we do something.’

Harry was already on his feet and halfway out the nearest exit.

‘No luck with that one, Ginny,’ he called. ‘There’s just a long corridor here with more doors leading off it. Someone check the other doors, but I think this is some sort of maze.’

‘A Maze?’ Cho’s voice finally joined in the commotion. ‘Why would we be dropped into a maze? That just doesn’t make any sense.’

Ernie had leapt up when Harry asked someone to check the other doors, and he finally shouted, ‘Yeah, there’s a corridor out all of these doors. OK, let’s just figure out what we’re going to do here. We don’t need to fight, we need to work together’

I growled in frustration. Enough with the talking, I wanted some doing. I damn well wanted to be out of this place and back home with some sort of hearty breakfast on a table in front of me. Having a happy little chat about what to do was not going to get us any-bloody-where. Harry seemed to feel the same way.

‘No use in talking, I want to get out of here. Let’s just pick a door and walk ... we can talk about it on the way out.’

‘Who died and made you King, Potter?’ Pansy Parkinson said in her slimiest Slytherin way. ‘No-one elected you leader of this bunch, no matter how beloved you are at school. We rational people want to think it through before heading off into who-knows-what.’

I threw my hands up and marched towards the door Harry was still hovering in.

‘No-one asked your opinion, Parkinson. You all can sit here debating the finer points of maze lore all you like, but we are going to get out of this dump.’

Without caring who came too, I grabbed Harry’s arm and went out the door into the darkness of the corridor.

‘Guys! Wait!’ Cho’s voice was anxious, but I didn’t care. ‘Wait up, Harry. Ginny. We’re coming too.’

‘We are not. There was no discussion,’ blustered Ernie.

‘But, in a way they’re right,’ said Cho. We really do have no idea what’s out there; we need to find our bearings. We can be careful.’

By this time Harry and I had stopped and waited for them. I was conscious of his hand, warm in mine. I squeezed it, and smiled up at him. The others were going to do the sensible thing after all. We could get the hell out of here. All that crap about being careful was all very well, but at least we’d be moving, doing something. Harry smiled back, and by that time the others had got to us.

‘Can’t you two keep the googly eyes to yourselves? It makes me ill seeing you all over each other like that.’

‘Like you’re any better, Parkinson. Couldn’t find a real man, so you had to take the slimeball over there, huh?’

‘For Merlin’s sake!’ Susan shouted. ‘Stop with this stupid fighting all the time. You all make me want to crash your heads together. We need to work as a group to get out of this place.’

I blushed. It was incredibly fun to fight with the Slytherins, in fact it was almost compulsory if you were a Gryffindor, especially in my family. But it wasn’t really fair to other people. Cho, Michael, Susan and Ernie deserved better than dealing with our constant bickering all the time. I mumbled an apology to Parkinson, and she muttered one back. We’d called a truce, for want of a better word, just for the duration of course. She was still Slytherin slime, and I’d never be best pals with her, but I vowed to hold my tongue, at least for now.

Impatient to get moving again, Harry pulled on my hand and we started off down the corridor. He determinedly took the first door we came to and we ended up in another room. This one was about half the size of the first one and had 2 doors leading off directly from the wall opposite us. We walked straight towards one of them and found a whole raft of doors all leading off one side. We took the first one and came abruptly up short. This one had led us into a tiny room with no other exits at all.

I was beginning to get a prickly feeling that something wasn’t right and the feeling only intensified when the others piled in behind us. When we were all in there, there was no space for anyone to move and several people stood on each other’s feet. There was a general muttering and cursing and an ‘ouch, get off me’ chaos around me.

‘OK, stop!’ Michael’s voice was firm and authoritative. ‘Whoever is nearest the door, back out please.’

Malfoy began grumbling, but did as he was asked, pulling Parkinson with him.

‘Good. Now the rest of us should be able to get out too. This is obviously not the right way.’

As we got ourselves righted and were getting out the door, Ernie bent down quickly. He picked up a small flat rock which had an inscription on it. He read it aloud: ‘Courage is needed in face of the foe, but courage alone will lead to woe.’

What the hell did that mean? Since when was courage a bad thing? I could see my confusion mirrored on Harry’s face, but the others were nodding. Nodding! As if it was true. I huffed in exasperation.

‘You guys think there’s something in that comment? I think it’s just some stupid cryptic message left by someone. It might not even be for us.’

‘Weasley, if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.’ Malfoy. I curled my lip at him.

Harry leapt in; he never could resist when Malfoy made one of his cracks. ‘Like you have all the answers, Malfoy. If you’re so damn clever, you can get us out of this place.’

Cho stepped in. ‘We were put in this place for some sort of reason. Why else would it be so … so pat? This clue thing is here, where whoever put us here knew you Gryffindors would lead us.’ Cho was being reasonable, damn her. ‘It’s clearly a commentary on not being able to battle through this with just sheer guts.’

I opened my mouth to protest, but she cut me off, saying, ‘I mean, it says courage is a good thing, and that we need it to solve this problem, but that it isn’t the only thing we need to use to get out. I don’t know, I just feel we should take heed and do something else, rather than wander aimlessly around barging into whatever door we get to without thinking through the possible consequences.’

She broke off, looking nervous. ‘I mean, I want to get out as much as the rest of you. But this, what we’ve been doing, hasn’t gotten us anywhere except a dead end. And this thing,’ she waved the stone for emphasis, ‘shows that it isn’t the ‘right’ thing to be doing.’

‘Chang’s right,’ said Parkinson, with a smirk in my direction. I glared through slitted eyes at her. The evil cow was trying to wind me up and make me break the truce, but I wasn’t going to let her win like that. I held my tongue. ‘We need to try something different. Now Draco and I,’ she simpered at him in the most nauseating way, making me glad I’d had no breakfast to bring up, ‘have been using our heads while the rest of you have been blindly following Potter.’

Susan and Ernie both began fidgeting. ‘Get on with it please, Pansy,’ insisted Ernie. ‘We don’t want to be stuck here all day.’

‘Well, those of us who use our eyes have noticed that every single passage way and room in here is made of exactly the same stuff.’ She was right, damn her. The whole place was completely featureless.

‘Yeah, what of it?’ Harry was getting impatient; I could feel his hand shaking in mine. He wanted to be moving again, and so did I. But we’d agreed to let the Slytherins take over – for now. I just wished they would hurry up. Malfoy must have sensed that Parkinson was losing the group’s good will because he butted in right then.

‘Same old Potter, no brains to speak of.’ I wanted to slap the foul little git, but he hurried on, ‘If there are no features in the open, there are probably hidden features. It makes sense. The doorways and rooms are all the same. So the only way to differentiate them is by finding what each one hides.’

‘But, that’s stupid!’ Susan burst out. ‘What could they be hiding? Secret tunnels?’

‘Bingo, Bones. Not as stupid as your average Hufflesquib, are you? Yes, secret passages, and we have an idea where to find one.’

Slytherin Cunning: Pansy

I watched Draco facing down all the other sceptics in the corridor and I knew without a shadow of a doubt why I liked him so much. Unlike the other idiots, he actually had a plan. The Gryffindorks, precious Potter and his weasel, were all for just running off like headless chickens. That was typical of them, but it was never going to solve anything and the others all just wanted to talk. As if talking was going to solve anything either.

No, Draco and I had a plan. We’d been whispering together since this whole thing started, and it was as obvious as the nose on my face that there was only one solution to this problem. There had to be a hidden way out.

The clue thing on the stone just enhanced my feelings. We had to be brave, but bravery wasn’t enough all by itself. What could that mean other than we needed to go into the deep, dark recesses of the maze to find our way out? That would require cunning with a small smidge of bravery. Who could be better than we Slytherins to winkle out the secrets of the maze makers? After all, it was a Slytherin who created the master secret: the Chamber of Secrets that not even Dumbledore had been able to penetrate in all his years at Hogwarts.

I called myself back to the maze itself as the others grudgingly admitted that Draco was right. Well, of course he was. There was no other reasonable explanation for the maze set-up. I looked up at Draco with a smile, ignoring Weaselby’s snarly smirk. He was, for once, not looking drawn and distracted. Whatever had been bothering him all year was clearly pushed aside in the excitement of working this thing out. The lines that had been etched around his eyes, and which had tightened significantly when Weaselby’s brother almost died, were loosened.

I squeezed his hand and looked over at Potter. He was staring at us with a look of disgust on his face. I almost snarled myself. He had almost killed Draco mere weeks ago, and yet he had the gall to stand there looking as if he had been wronged. Potter was dangerous, no matter what everyone who was under his thrall thought. He was stupid and reckless and if we let him take charge of this thing we would never get out and would probably end up dead. It hadn’t escaped my notice that the people who went places with Potter ended up killed unless they were his very best buddies. It was up to we Slytherins to get us all out of here in one piece and ensure that Potter didn’t get everyone with him offed this time.

I tugged on Draco’s hand. ‘Come on, let’s show them what we mean.’

He nodded and we all moved off together. We were heading towards a tiny blemish we had noticed in one of the cracks between the rocks of the corridor wall. Draco expertly curled his long fingers into the small gap and tugged. There was a crunching sound and I felt a moment of deep satisfaction and triumph. We had done it, Draco and I. Using our superior brains, we had found the entrance to our passage out. No need to keep up that truce with Weaselby any more. I turned to give her the lashing she deserved for some of the things she said.

Then the sound stopped and a small section of the rock fell away in Draco’s hand. I felt all the stab of bitter disappointment. Clearly we had found something, but it wasn’t big enough to be a way out. I looked around, trying to avoid seeing the look of smug satisfaction I was sure was on the weasel’s face.

It was bad enough that practically every guy in the whole school fawned over her freckly little face without having her be so arrogantly sure of her own superiority. She was all over Potter, the Chosen One, for the fame and fortune that came with him. But the whole castle seemed to fall all over themselves about how gorgeous she was, as if freckles and a weasel face are attractive. And now, now she was going to lord it over me like she somehow knew better than I did. In that moment I hated every freckle on her horrid little face. Her and Potter both. Ugh, I had no idea what I’d done to deserve being trapped with those two out of all the Gryffindorks available.

I pulled my attention away from them, to avoid being totally grossed out by looking at their arrogant faces. The others we were with were all looking excited and interested in what we had found. Bones and McMillan looked eager to see what was in the gap created by the missing stone, and Chang and Corner already looked like they were processing the data in their massive brains. None of them seemed to be worried about the fact that we hadn’t found a way out. Maybe we could save some face here. I saw a small flat rock in the indentation left by the piece Draco had pulled out.

‘Draco? What’s that? Is that another one of those stupid clue things?’

He slid his hand further in and pulled out the stone. At first glance it was empty, but as he turned it over in his hands I saw that I was right. Something had been scratched onto the surface of this rock too. The hand that had carved the letters used the same curved writing that was on the Gryffindorks’ stone. I sighed; it was becoming increasingly obvious that someone was playing some sort of sadistic game with all of us. I nudged Draco, as he seemed to have drifted away from us while contemplating the message.

‘What does it say? Draco?’

He shook himself, and whispered the words, ‘You will use all your cunning to succeed, but more than cunning you will need. Dammit!’ He yelled, throwing the stone on the ground, where it spun on its edge for a moment or two before coming to rest with its written face up. The words stood there, accusing us from the ground. ‘I don’t believe it. There must be some passageway out of here. There must!’ He began tearing at the hole as if hoping that he could conjure a passage out of there just by wishing for it.

Chang finally spoke up. ‘Draco, I think you’re right, in a way. But I think I’m getting a sense of what this all means.’

He stopped scrabbling at the wall and looked up at her, a snarl on his lips. ‘Yeah? In what universe did you suddenly become the font of all knowledge?’

‘I’m not,’ she said calmly, ‘but I do have pretty good reasoning skills, and this is just a logic puzzle.’

‘All right, then. Enlighten us all.’ I could hear the sarcasm in his tone, but I could also hear the trace of vulnerability. I felt a surge of affection for him. He was so vulnerable and sensitive, and yet most people only saw the outward arrogance he put on to hide his true self. Knowing him the way I did, knowing how broken and sweet he was under all the bravado, I was amazed that every single person alive didn’t fall for him the way I had. But then, if others felt the same I wouldn’t have him to myself. I could feel a tension in him as he listened to Chang, so I surreptitiously rubbed my hand on his arm to sooth him. It didn’t work, he remained rigid with his stare focussed on the wall behind Chang’s head, but I felt a little better for trying.

‘We have two clues now, and both say we need a trait but not that trait alone. The two traits mentioned are both dominant characteristics of Hogwarts houses. Isn’t it obvious what that means?’

Beside her, Corner was nodding enthusiastically and that wretched Potter was looking enlightened too, damn him. The others were all thinking hard while looking as confused as I felt, so Corner sighed impatiently and spelled it out.

‘We have been put here, wherever here is, as representatives of all the houses. The clue things are telling us we have to use all our dominant traits to get out of here. Whether we like it or not we have to work together to find our way out of this mess.’

My heart sank. I was afraid that was the way of it; but now he spelled it out it was obvious what we had to do.

‘No, stuff that! Why would we want to work with the likes of them?’ Potter spat out the words, while indicating in our direction. ‘They just aren’t trustworthy. They were in Umbridge’s Inquisitorial squad, for goodness’ sake. And I certainly don’t trust him. He’s up to something.’ The eyes he turned on Draco glittered evilly.

I opened my mouth, ready to defend Draco, when to my infinite surprise, The Weasel spoke up.

‘Harry! Would you stop with the Malfoy conspiracy already! You almost killed him, in case you don’t remember, and Cho’s right. We are going to have to team up to get out. That’s far more important than house rivalry.’

‘What she said,’ said Bones, matter of factly. ‘Now, I happen to agree with Draco. We should check each of these rooms for cracks and crannies. There may be more clues and there may be a way out hidden in here somewhere. We just need to be methodical, look in every single room and passageway and we’ll get there in the end.’

I could see the Gryffindorks rolling their eyes, and felt a sudden wash of satisfaction. Hah! The Hufflesquibs were agreeing with us for once. How galling that must be for them. To make things even better, the Hufflesquibs were bent on slowing us down, making a through going over of the place. The Gryffindorks would be fuming about the lack of action and excitement. My day had just got a little brighter.


 Post subject: Re: Harry Potter -- A Tale of Four Houses (PG)
PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 4:17 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 4:31 am
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Here are chapters 3 and 4. It is now basically finished, but there is a short epilogue to come just to round it off

Hufflepuff Determination: Susan.

There’s one thing I really dislike about Gryffindors. I mean, I really like them, Harry especially. I’ve always gotten on really well with him, and Ginny seems nice too, so I wasn’t at all upset to be trapped here with them. But Gryffindors in general drive me up the wall with their stupid feud with the Slytherins. Why does everything have to come out as a pissing competition between those two houses?

Take this maze thing, for instance. Harry was standing there, stubbornly refusing to see sense because it meant he had to work together with a pair of Slytherins. Ginny was even being less pig headed than he was, and she was known throughout the school for her bullheadedness.

“What’s the point in looking at every tiny little detail?” Harry sounded confused as well as belligerent, and it struck me that he really didn’t get it. He actually thought that barging on, looking in random rooms was going to get us out of here.

‘The point, Harry,’ said Ernie, ‘is to make sure we haven’t overlooked anything. The Slytherins are right. There is most likely something hidden here, at least another clue that will help us get out of here.’

Harry scowled, and I huffed in frustration. Michael Corner, who hadn’t said anything much yet, chimed in.

“Look, we need to keep sight of the fact that whoever did this to us clearly knows our strengths, probably knows our weaknesses too, and wants us to work together.” He was almost shouting by the end of it. I looked at Ernie, trying to see how he was taking the discussion. Like me, he looked annoyed by the bickering. I was used to minor disagreements like this being solved by discussion and compromise, by working together. I could see that Ernie felt the same way I did, so I decided to speak up again.

“Look, we need courage, I get that. We need to be cunning to outwit this maze maker, whoever it is, but we also need to be practical about this. Random checking isn’t going to get us anywhere. Only methodical, thorough searching will show us everything that’s hidden in this place.’

“I agree,’ said Ernie in his best ‘listen to me’ way. “We should go back to that first room and start again, checking every exit, every wall, every blemish. That way we’ll know we’ve covered all our bases.”

‘Start over?” groaned Ginny. “Merlin, it makes sense, but that means we’ve wasted so much time.”

“Logically, to regain some time, we should split up,” said Cho.

“But then how would we let each other know if we find anything?” countered Michael. “No, we should stay together, or at least keep each other in sight. The passageways are long, we’ll be able to each search something and still be together.”

‘Whatever,” said Harry resignedly. “Let’s just get going and stop wasting even more time with chattering.” He headed off purposefully, retracing our steps.

I noticed that the Slytherins hadn’t said much since we found their clue. That worried me a little. Gryffindors can be reckless, but they are also pretty loyal, at least to their ideals, so I can understand them reasonably well, and predict how they might act. Ravenclaws are intelligent and logical so they do what makes most sense at the time; I figured since they agreed with me they’d be no trouble. Slytherins, on the other hand, are sneaky and attuned to personal interest. If they decided it was better for them to go off alone, I had no doubt that they’d leave the rest of us to rot.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Slytherins are evil, and I guess they’d come back for us, or send someone back, but the way their minds worked was completely alien to me. Still, looking at Draco, I figured he looked stressed and anxious, and Pansy was trying to comfort him in her own way. They might be docile as lambs even if they felt the need to sneer a bit while they played along. I would hope for the best.

All in all, this maze thing was showing up the negative traits of a couple of houses. But if I had to choose between Gryffindor arrogance and being full of themselves, and Slytherin personal interest I’d go for the arrogance every time. At least I understand that one. I will never understand a group that puts their own welfare above that of others, even others they are close to.

But enough of that. We had got ourselves back to the centre of the maze, and Ernie was directing everyone where to check. For the first part, to make it a bit faster, Ernie had us all take one door each down a long corridor. There were eight doors, some of them led to new rooms and others to other corridors. Ernie explained that we should all check every inch of our allotted space, including the floor and ceiling which were, mercifully, quite low. We were to check for any small inconsistencies or blemishes in the rock faces, then report back to the main room.

It was satisfying to mark off the rooms one by one, even though we didn’t find anything. I felt a sense of accomplishment and the sure knowledge of having done a good, thorough job every time we moved on. However, some of the others didn’t seem to feel the same way I did.

“Why the hell did I agree to this?” asked Harry petulantly. “This isn’t getting us anywhere; we’re just getting older and it’s not turning up anything.”

“But we are,” said Ernie, incredulously. “Every time we move through a room, we know we’ve done it. We know what we’re looking for isn’t there. There is no wondering if we missed something, because we are sure we didn’t.”

Draco groaned, and said, “But I’m just getting tired, and so far, out of everything we’ve done, only Pansy and I have actually found anything hidden, anywhere in this place.”

“Ernie’s right,” said Michael reasonably. “We’ve crossed off two of these corridors and all their offshoots. We know there is nothing hidden in any of them. We can move on now.”

“Well, I don’t want to move on,” said Ginny, slumping to the floor and pushing her damp hair back off her face. “I want something to eat or drink. All this searching has made me thirsty and, much as I hate to say it, I’m with Malfoy on this one. We’ve gotten nowhere.”

Cho had been looking around down the far end of the corridor while we paused, and she now called out, with a weird catch in her voice, “There’s something here, guys.”

My heart sank as I looked at her. There was something in her hand, and I was pretty sure I knew what it was going to be. I sighed in resignation. Of course. I had harboured a small hope that, for once, Hufflepuff qualities would be shown to be better than the others. Too often we were looked down on as ‘duffers’ and uninspiring. It would have been so nice to be on top just one time. Still, to be fair, two other houses had been through this already. I figured it was just our turn. I turned and looked at Ernie, who nodded when he saw the look on my face.

“Read it out, Cho,” he said. “We may as well move on to the next phase already.”

While determination is a key to success, more is needed to escape from this mess

So. There it was. Yet another of those wretched messages that told us nothing at all, except that we should use the trait of another house in combination with those we had already been through. I fully expected that we would soon find a fourth one that mentioned using our brains along with the others. Whoever had put us here was likely having a right old laugh at our expense.

The one good thing about it, though, was that we had already seen this happen to the Gryffindors and Slytherins. I had been expecting it, to tell the truth. I still felt that we should cover all the ground in the maze, though. Surely there was something hidden there. The Slytherins were right about that one, and I still thought methodically looking for it would be the best way to find it.

I looked around to reiterate that to the Slytherins, and noticed that they were missing.

“Where are Draco and Pansy?” I asked.

“What? Don’t tell me Malfoy’s slunk off like the coward he is,” said Harry.

“Give it a rest, Harry,” said Michael. “This is no time for house rivalry. We need to find them, since we know we need to all work together to get out of here.”

“Why bother?” said Harry, nonchalantly, almost arrogantly. “All we’ve seen in this place is a lot of blank walls. There’s nothing here that can harm us, so I say leave them muddling around on their own. They’ll run back soon enough.” I wanted to hit him. I knew, of course, that he disliked Malfoy, but he was taking this far too lightly.

“Well I, for one, am quite nervous about the lack of anything menacing here,” said Cho thoughtfully. “We’ve been told we need courage, but so far we haven’t seen anything that could possibly need any sort of bravery. That makes me think that whatever is hidden here will be dangerous.”

I agreed with her. There was something eerie about the way this place was so perfect, and perfectly bare. Now that we had stopped, I felt a vague sense that we were being watched. I didn’t like it.

“I think we need to stick together, and find Draco and Pansy,” I said. “For one thing, we need to work together now more than ever, and for another they could get themselves in trouble. And don’t say they deserve it,” I added, as Harry opened his mouth to speak again. “Whether they do or not, we need to find them and get out of here.”

The others agreed with me and so we set off. There was only one door the Slytherins could have disappeared through without us noticing, so we all took that one. The prickly feeling I had of being watched intensified. I felt like I would catch a pair of eyes staring at me if I just looked to the side fast enough. Surreptitiously, I pulled out my wand, ready to cast a spell if I needed to.

From ahead of us, and around the last corner to the left on the corridor, I heard a shriek. I stopped dead still, running into Ernie, who caught me before we both fell to the floor. Ahead of us I saw Cho and Michael cautiously moving forward, both with their wands out now too. Far in the distance, I could see Harry and Ginny sprinting towards the doorway the noise had come from.

Despite the fear that had hit me, I smiled a little as Ernie and I managed to catch up with Cho and Michael. It was funny how well we all matched with our houses. I mean, Ernie and I are quite different; he is far more practical and focussed on the details while I tend to look at the big picture, and yet we both stopped instinctively when we heard the scream, wanting to take stock before we were attacked, too. Then Cho and Michael were thinking about the situation, weighing it up. I could almost see the cogs turning in their heads. And, of course, the Gryffindors had rushed in headlong, presumably to help if they could.

It was just so weird to think that there really was something in the sorting. It made it all the more imperative that we find Draco and Pansy. I was certain now that we needed to stick together, not just because sticking together is what Hufflepuffs do, but because we needed a mixture of all our qualities to get us through. Cho seemed to share my opinions.

“Guys, I don’t like that we have now lost two houses’ worth of people to their instincts. I really want to think this through, but with Harry and Ginny running off like that I think we need to go investigate first. But … wands out alright? It sounds like Draco and Pansy are in trouble.”

Ravenclaw Brains: Cho

When I heard the shriek, I knew that Pansy and Draco had got themselves in trouble somehow, but I also knew that we needed to use our heads and think things through before we all got into the same sort of trouble. Unfortunately, Harry and Ginny acted before thinking and sprinted straight off in the direction the scream had come from. Logically, I knew they were unlikely to get themselves killed, but they were rushing into a situation we knew nothing about.

Still, while Michael and I and the Hufflepuffs were trying to take stock, the other four were in possible danger, not probable danger necessarily, but we couldn’t afford to lose half our team on the chance that I was wrong. I explained to the others who were still with me that, though I would prefer to think it through, the more reckless among us had forced us into taking swifter, more decisive, action.

I thought about it as we headed down the hallways, with our wands out in case we needed to act fast. The clues we’d been getting in this maze suggested we needed to utilise all the dominant traits of the houses and I’d assumed that meant we had to work as a group with each pair using their special talent to help the whole. Now, I wondered if what it really meant that was each of us had to learn to use the traits of the other houses. I mean, here I was being forced to rush in like a Gryffindor, and I’d already had to think like a Slytherin to try and find Draco and Pansy.

I don’t like moving out of my comfort zone. For example, at school I had tended to hang out with the same group of people until they had deserted me after what happened to Cedric, but I had to admit that being here with this varied bunch of people had been fascinating and strangely exhilarating too. I was used to being around thoughtful, rational people who would immediately understand the import of a given situation and would come up with any number of ideas to solve a problem.

Here, I was with people who used other ways to approach the issue. The way their brains worked so differently to those of my fellow Ravenclaws was so interesting. I could see the possibilities for my future problem solving already, especially in the Slytherins. This was the first time I’d really had to work together with any even though I’d obviously had some classes with them at school. The other four I knew from the DA, of course, but this was a different situation and studying the behaviours between the Gryffindors and the Slytherins was so enlightening.

For instance, I’d noticed that, even though we were four couples, the ones from those two houses had been very lovey dovey with each other while Michael and I and Susan and Ernie had been more focussed on the task at hand than on our romances. I wondered if the reason there was so much tension between Slytherin and Gryffindor was because they were more similar than they wanted to let on.

I shook myself out of my deep thoughts, smiling a little. There was something about learning from a situation that could often take me out of the immediate moment. But we were nearing the end of the corridor and I needed my wits about me. There had been no more sounds from around the corner which I took as a hopeful sign. Surely if something bad had happened, Harry and Ginny would have made some sort of sound when they got there, or we’d hear scuffling or hexes flying. But there was nothing.

The reason for that became clear as we rounded the corner. My heart seemed to skip a beat as I saw that there was no-one there at all. But then, almost immediately, sense established itself. I heard voices (quarrelling voices; I rolled my eyes at that) and saw a flash of colour from something that looked like a hidden indentation in the wall. I edged closer.

‘Squealing like a little girl, were you, Malfoy? What? Did you see a big bad bogey monster hiding there?’

‘For your information, Potter, we just weren’t expecting the wall to fall away that fast. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, we at least found something.’

‘Oh yeah, great work. Go rushing off by yourselves and expect us to bail you out of any trouble you stupidly got yourselves in.’

Michael stepped in to prevent any bloodshed. Honestly! Had those two not learned anything from being here?

‘Let’s just focus on the important thing here. Draco and Pansy, while worrying us all silly, did still manage to find something hidden. Have you guys figured out what it is yet?’

‘No, they’ve been too busy trying to one-up each other with the insults.’ Ginny spoke with an indulgent smile on her face. She, at least, seemed to be learning a thing or two from this experience. She turned towards her boyfriend. ‘Harry, you know you’re just jealous that Malfoy was the one to find this place. Just admit it so we can all move on.’

Harry seemed to shrink a little. A muscle twitched in his throat, but he nodded once, reluctantly. A flush of triumph etched onto Malfoy’s thin features, and he looked almost predatory in his elation, but then Pansy spoke up.

‘Draco, you know very well that we only found this place because I insisted that we do what the Hufflesqui – I mean Hufflepuffs – suggested. If we hadn’t been so very thorough, we would have passed it by.’

Draco looked as though he’d been caught in a trap, but he too nodded reluctantly. Well, I guessed it was a start. Knowing Harry as I did, I knew he was never going to do more than give a surly nod to Draco, but at least the girls seemed to have mellowed a bit.

Susan and Ernie, who had puffed up a little bit under Pansy’s comment, were taking a good look around the indentation we had found ourselves in. At first glance, after I had gotten over my joy that we had found something in this place, it seemed uninspiring and I thought we had merely found yet another featureless room, just a hidden one this time.

However, when I looked more closely, following the Hufflepuffs’ actions with my eyes, there was something different about this room. It was just as featureless, yes, but the blocks it had been made from seemed to be a different size to those we had seen in the rest of this place. Just as I reached this conclusion, Ernie bent down and picked up another of those clue stones. This one had been wedged into the rock at the bottom of the back wall. It was made of the same stuff as the earlier ones so it was pretty obvious what it was going to say.

Ernie read it aloud: ‘You’ll need your brains, oh yes, you’re right. But brains alone do not have might.

Michael looked resigned and said, ‘but we really didn’t need to find this one. It was pretty obvious what it was going to say. We’re really no further forward than we were before.’

Susan, who had been holding onto all of the stones we had collected, took it from Ernie, ready to put it away with the rest. As she dropped it into her other hand it spun over and we all saw that this time there was writing on the other side too.

All together you have to look
To find what’s hidden in the nook
Your goal’s end is very near
Your way out should be coming clear.

‘What? But, that’s just saying what we already know,’ Ginny said in a puzzled tone.

‘Yeah, we know we have to look ‘all together’ – we worked that out very early on.’ Draco’s voice was calm for once, devoid of any sneer and with a trace of puzzlement. He sounded much more pleasant that way.

Michael was muttering to himself, I could tell his mind was spinning, trying to reason out what we needed to do. Then, as my eye drifted over the stones Susan was still nervously turning over in her hand, I had a sudden insight into what we had to do.

‘Guys, I think I have it. We need to put the stones together; I bet there’s something there that we’ve missed because we weren’t thorough enough when we looked at them.’

Susan squatted down and placed the stones next to each other in a row. There was nothing immediately obvious about them, but then she began to methodically change the position of each one until they had all been in each combination possible. As she placed them into the last configuration I noticed something. The first two had what seemed to be a tiny drawing scratched into the corners. We had missed it when looking at them individually because they looked like random cuts and scrapes on the stone. Together, however, a pattern emerged. The bottom middle of the two was a tiny picture.

Harry was looking at them quizzically and when I pointed out the picture, he suddenly grabbed the other stones and placed them under the first two. Now, in the order in which they had been found, the stones circled clockwise from the top left. In the very middle was a small picture. Ginny cast an engorgement charm on the stones and we were able to see clearly that the picture showed the back wall of the room we were in.

‘But, what does it mean?’ Pansy asked petulantly. ‘Yay, we have a picture of the room we’re in – big deal.’

But Ernie had the answer to that particular question. He pointed to the details of the tiny picture wall. And there, etched carefully in amongst the bricks that were shown in the picture, were several that had been scratched completely out. There were eight of them, scattered at different levels across the wall. It was immediately obvious that one person alone could never reach all of them at once, even if he or she had eight arms. The designated blocks were too far apart. Again this indicated that we needed to work together.

Ernie finally voiced the idea we all had. ‘I guess we need to assign one of those bricks to each person.’

‘Looks like it,’ agreed Harry. ‘So first let’s decide who will tap each one. Obviously either someone very tall, or someone being lifted, will have to take that one.’ He was pointing at a brick in the top right corner of the picture. I counted the bricks carefully and located the one he meant on the real wall. It was clearly too high up for any of us in the room to reach alone. I sighed. One of us would have to be lifted up. I didn’t relish the thought at all.

‘I’ll take that one,’ said Ginny. ‘No, don’t argue, Harry. You can do levicorpus on me; I trust you and I’ll be fine. You tall people are needed for the other high bricks.’ She smiled at him impishly. He agreed reluctantly, and we all assigned the other bricks one to each person. Harry swung Ginny upside down in the air, making my stomach clench in horror but she just joked about her orientation and asked him to swing her closer to the wall.

‘OK, on the count of 3, everyone. We each press our wands onto the brick we’ve been assigned and that should hopefully do it.’

Draco took charge, and began the count down. We all pressed our bricks, Ginny beginning to go purple in the face. For a heart stopping moment I was worried that it hadn’t worked. Then, with a deafening crunch, the wall swung around and we were blinded by sunlight. We were finally outside.


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