I apologize a thousandfold for taking a lifetime to update! In the meantime, I've made changes to the previous chapter. Remember when Katie was telling Alicia that she would never forgive Oliver for something that had happened in her second year? Well I've done away with that plot bunny because I realized it was going nowhere and would turn out horribly cliched anyhow, so instead, she reveals that Roger Davies fancies her and she thinks she might be fancing him back. If you'd like to, please go back to Chapter 4 and read the revised version. Thank you all, and sorry about the change!
Harry sat atop a sand dune, watching the golden sand disappear through his fingers as it sifted through his hands. With a sigh, he looked the expanse of the beautiful blue ocean before him, then turned to see the enormous cliff that stood to his back. In a sense, he was trapped; either he could make the attempt to climb that enormous giant of a cliff (which would end in guaranteed death, for sure), or swim into the ocean toward a destination he wasn't even sure existed (which would also probably end in death, yippee).
Needless to say, it was a difficult choice.
A child appeared in the path, a beautiful dark-haired, fair-skinned girl with captivating violet eyes. She was dressed in silks and satins of the most lovely shade of lilac.
"Oh, isn't she precious?" Katie breathed, wanted to touch the child.
"Bloody hell!" Alicia shrieked behind her, stifling a cry.
Katie laughed softly, still entranced by the little girl. "I know you don't like children, Alicia, but how can you not be in love with this one?" She leaned down to be on eye-level with the child. "Hello, precious, what's your name?"
"I don't have one," whispered the fairy-like child solemnly. Her eyes spoke of an indescribable sadness.
"Get away from it, Katie!" Alicia screamed. "Get away from it!"
Her friend's cries seemed to fade into nothingness, because Katie could not take her eyes away from the child. "Why do you look so sad?" she said tenderly, wanting to touch the teardrop that slid down the girl's cheek.
"I can't tell," the child whimpered.
"You can tell me," Katie said soothingly.
"No, I can't tell. But I can show you."
"Then show me."
The fairy child smiled. Her teeth were pointed.
"Merlin," Montague breathed, terrified by what he was seeing.
"She keeps walking toward it!" Warrington exclaimed, almost tipping the gameboard over in his eagerness to see the action. "Why does she keep walking toward it?"
"Think about it, smart one," Malfoy drawled, looking bored. "It said beware, for things are not what they seem. Obviously she's seeing something different than we are."
Montague gripped the edge of the board. "What in the world could she be seeing?"
The child pointed away from the path. "It's this way." Katie followed her, as if in a trance.
"Katie!" Alicia screamed, her terror evident in her voice. She clasped her hands together anxiously, knowing somehow that something terrible would happen if Katie left the path.
Paying no attention to the distraught Alicia, the child said to Katie, calmly, "Take my hand." Katie stretched her hand forward.
The two hands met, and the child smiled triumphantly at Alicia. Katie went rigid and her eyes glossed over. She looked as if she were in excruciating pain.
"Does it hurt much?" the child whispered. Her voice was sympathetic, yet she smiled.
Katie moaned, her mind spinning in circles. She saw herself back in first year tumbling off a broom, meeting the ground with a sickening crunch; she thought of her sorrow, her heartache when her dad passed away... All the painful memories of old were coming back to haunt her.
"You think you know pain?" the child murmured. "Can you imagine how much worse mine is?"
"Come and see..."
No! Katie's mind screamed, yet her feet continued of their own will towards that unknown, ominous location away from the path...
A voice cried out in the depths of her mind: Katie, please, it begged, break away from it. Please! Think of me, think of Hogwarts, your family! All our friends... Quidditch! Flying free, without inhibitions, total freedom... do you want to give that up?
A horrific internal battle arose within her; Alicia's voice continued to beg persistently in her head and she wanted so desperately to listen, to be able to break away, but it was so difficult...
With a wrenching scream she broke away from the bond, pulling her hand from the fairy child's grasp, and tumbled backward onto the path.
"He loves me, he loves me not. He loves me, he loves me not. He loves me... he loves me not. Bummer."
Oliver watched as the last petal fluttered toward the ground from Angelina's fingers. "Those things never work, you know. It depends on whether or not your flower has an even or odd number of petals."
"Oh don't get all Mr. Smartypants on me," Angelina retorted, making a face.
He laughed. "Who were you thinking of, anyway?"
A slight blush appeared on her face. "No one."
"Could it involve someone with a... mischievous nature?" Oliver teased. "Red hair, perhaps? And lots and lots of freckles?"
"I haven't the foggiest clue who you're talking about," she said airily, picking another flower. "Gosh, it's ridiculous talking to you with such a big gap between us."
"It'll probably be your turn to move soon, I expect," he said, furrowing his brow in thought. "I wonder what's going on elsewhere on the board."
"Merlin only knows," Angelina replied, sighing as she looked down at her flower. "He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me..."
The child let out an earpiercing, bone-rattling shriek. In a whirl of violet and black, its delicate features melted away into hard, scaly dark skin. Enormous black, leathery wings sprouted from its sides and a long snout appeared on its face, revealing a vicious mouth with the same pointed teeth it had revealed in its previous form. The beautiful child, in effect, became a monster.
A horror-stricken Katiestumbled backwards, trying to stand. She could hear Alicia, choking back sobs, screaming behind her.
"Your bow, Katie! Your bow!"
With trembling fingers, Katie unslung the bow from her shoulder and notched an arrow to the string. The monster let out another piercing scream.
"I want you to know my pain," the monster's raspy voice echoed in Katie's mind.
Closing her eyes, praying for guidance and deliverance, Katie took aim and released the arrow.
What should he do? In which way should he turn?
Harry bit his bottom lip, unsure of whether he should remain where he was or do something at least. And say he did decide to do something about the situation. Where would he go?
The cliff or the sea? The sea or the cliff?
He turned from one to the other, mentally weighing the options. At least he'd decided once and for all that he wouldn't stay there. It was in his blood - that restlessness, that feeling of needing to move about and do something.
At last, Harry unslung the coiled rope from his shoulder. With a grunt, he heaved the heavy hook at the end toward the lowest hold on the face of the cliff.
He began to climb.
The Slytherins watched, holding their breaths, as the monster let out one last shriek and disappeared in a fog of dark purple smoke. As one, they let their breaths.
"She's alive," Montague whispered.
Katie clutched the bow tightly, her heart palpitating like mad within her chest. "Oh my God," she whispered, over and over.
She turned toward Alicia, who had tears in her eyes. "Alicia. I..."
"Are you all right?" Desperately, Alicia tried to approach Katie, but the gameboard's invisible force held her back.
"You saved me..." Katie whispered. "You... That's what you saw from the beginning, wasn't it? The monster?"
Alicia nodded, tears flowing freely down her cheeks. "Except it wasn't as big before... I didn't understand why you were following it, it was so frightening."
"I saw a child. A girl. A beautiful little girl." Katie shuddered, thinking of the child transforming into that hideous monstrosity. What horrors would she have seen if she had followed the monster to the source of its deepest pain?
"I want to get to you, but I can't..." Alicia said in despair.
Slowly, Katie sank to the ground, feeling utterly alone even though one of her best friends was so close... yet so far. She pulled her knees up to her chest. Hiding her face in her arms, she began to cry.
"This is making me nervous," Derrick said, scratching his head. "It's so dangerous... I mean, think of everything that could happen to them!"
Silently, the others pondered the thought they'd taken so lightly before. It really was a dangerous game, so full of unpredictable outcomes. What if someone ended up...dead?
"We can't do anything about it now," Flint said gravely. He fought to hide how shaken he was.
"Very true," Malfoy agreed. He would never admit it, but even he was having doubts... maybe. But he couldn't end the game before he got to Potter, could he? Especially since it was his turn next.
He clutched the die in his hand and tossed it on the table. The clattering sound it made caught everyone's attention as all eyes saw...