Headology 101 - Chapter 8 - Keep Your Friends Close (Part 2 of 2)
Harry tried his best to keep a watchful eye on Ron over the next few days but he still did not want to tell his best friend that he had seen him get his throat cut at the hands of Sirius, even if it was in a dream. Ron was so elated to have finally admitted his feelings for Hermione and have them reciprocated that Harry didn’t want to do anything to spoil it, Ron deserved to be happy.
One afternoon in between classes Ron realised he had left the book he needed for his next lesson in his trunk, so he told Harry he would meet him there and went off to fetch it. Upon arriving in his room he found an envelope lying on his pillow, the word Ron written elegantly across the front. Smiling to himself, wondering who Hermione had strong-armed into letting her up to the boys dormitory, Ron picked up and opened the envelope, letting the stunning spell out with it. He instantly froze, the envelope still in his hands, as a hooded figure emerged from the shadows, grabbed the broomstick that was leaning against Ron’s bed and hoisted the immobile form of Ron up before flying out of the window and into the Forbidden Forest.
It didn’t take long for people to notice that Ron was missing; Harry came up to the dormitory to see where he was and found nothing. Both Ron and his broomstick were gone and the window had been left wide open, soon the news was all over the school.
‘Have you heard? Ron Weasley’s missing!’
‘Flew right out his bedroom window, I heard.’
‘I bet You-Know-Who’s behind it.’
The conversation continued as such at dinner, but was muted down somewhat when Hermione arrived, dark rings around her eyes indicating that she had been crying. Harry gave her what he hoped was a reassuring look but he knew it was no consolation. Ron was missing and the general consensus was that Lord Voldemort had taken him.
‘Where do you think he went, Harry?’ asked Hermione at one point during dinner, her voice strained and hoarse.
‘I don’t know,’ replied Harry. ‘I just don’t know.’ Dinner continued with subdued conversations happening here and there, but everyone was preoccupied with Ron’s disappearance. Even Professor Snape looked worried. When everyone had finished eating and the plates and cutlery had disappeared down to the kitchens, Professor Dumbledore stood, a sombre expression on his face, but before he could utter a word a voice cut through the silence like a gunshot.
‘HEADMASTER!’ It was Hagrid, who had not been at dinner, instead volunteering to patrol the grounds in case Ron showed up. His massive voice carried through the Great Hall and bounced off the walls as if he were the hall itself. Dumbledore stood immediately and made his way towards to main entrance, flanked by Professors Weatherwax, Snape and McGonagall, with Harry and Hermione trailing behind.
Out on the darkened lawn in front of Hogwarts Castle, Hagrid stood, lantern raised and his free hand clenched into a fist. Harry had only ever heard Hagrid shout once before, and that was when Uncle Vernon had disrespected his late parents. It was like an earthquake, it did not happen very often, but you didn’t soon forget it when it did. Approaching the enormous groundskeeper was Lord Voldemort, Ron struggling in his cold grip.
‘Ron!’ gasped Hermione, who almost shot forward but was stopped by Harry who caught her by the wrist and motioned her to stop.
‘Let him go, Tom,’ said Dumbledore severely, his bright eyes flashing menacingly in Hagrid’s lantern light.
‘Make me, old man,’ sneered Voldemort, his grip on Ron tightening.
‘If you hurt him I’ll…’ began Hermione before she could stop herself.
‘You’ll what, you filthy little Mudblood?’
‘Why you…’ growled Hagrid as he strode forward, his black eyes gleaming with rage.
‘Ah ah,’ cooed Voldemort as an almost lazy hand gesture stopped Hagrid in his tracks. The momentarily lapse in concentration allowed Ron to break free of Voldemort’s grip and as soon as he was able he ran for the castle, with Hermione in hot pursuit.
‘Now!’ shouted Dumbledore, and before Voldemort knew what was happening he was hit in the chest with three separate spells; a stunning spell at the hands of Professor Snape, a disarming spell from Professor Weatherwax and the deadly Avada Kedavra curse came from the wand of Dumbledore.
The silence that followed was deafening, nobody spoke and the intense quiet was only broken when Professor Snape took the stunning spell off of Hagrid.
‘Well done Headmaster,’ said Hagrid as he got to his feet. ‘Always knew you could beat ‘im.’
‘Yes,’ said Dumbledore distantly. ‘Severus, transport the body to the Hospital Wing. We will meet you there.’
‘Yes, Professor,’ said Snape.
* * *
Dumbledore was silent on their way to the Hospital Wing, and he only spoke in clipped tones as they laid out the body of Voldemort, giving short orders to those around him. Harry could sense unease around him.
‘What is it, Professor?’ he asked tentatively.
‘I think I have fathomed the reasoning behind your dream.’
‘What? What do you mean?’
‘This isn’t Voldemort.’
‘What?’ spluttered Harry, almost laughing at the absurdity of what Dumbledore had just said, but the Headmaster’s face was grim and mirthless.
‘Look,’ he said, as he waved his hand. The prone body of The Dark Lord changed before their eyes to that of Lucius Malfoy. Harry’s jaw dropped and the air in the room changed, the atmosphere going from cautious optimism to cold dread.
‘Well I’ll be buggered,’ said Professor Weatherwax.
‘Lucius,’ said Professor Snape.
‘Professor, what’s going on?’ asked Harry, who thoroughly felt as if the rug had been pulled from under his feet.
‘Voldemort’s still alive and in he’s in this castle.’
‘He’s Ron Weasley.’