Keith Lewis Keith Lewis 3 3 2003-07-14T17:43:00Z 2003-07-14T17:48:00Z 14 7830 44633 371 89 54812 9.2720 6 pt 2 2 Chapter 9 Labyrinth
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note (1) - At the end of the chapter (see Labyrinth (part 2)), I've placed a link to some more images relating to this chapter, including Ginny's map of the labyrinth.
The morning of the 4th April dawned with a mainly clear sky. As the sun pushed its way above the horizon, the few wispy clouds vanished and a glorious spring day was in prospect. Only Harry witnessed the beauty as he poked his head out of the tent. He breathed deeply; feeling refreshed from his restful sleep, and walked out into the garden to start his exercises.
After an hour, Harry saw a smudge of red poke its way out of the tent and Ron, with bleary eyes, groaned, "What's all this noise? Is there something wrong with you, Harry? Look at the time - it's only 7 o'clock - it's still the middle of the night!"
Harry laughed at his friend. "Why don't you come and join me, Ron? You could do with a bit of exercise."
"No way. Just call me when breakfast's ready," and the unruly mop of red disappeared back into the tent.
Just then, Harry caught another flash of red out of the corner of his eye and turned to see a smiling Ginny approach. "Morning Harry. How long have you been up? Quite a while by the look of you." she drew her finger down Harry's shoulder and showed him the perspiration that dripped from it.
"Got to keep up the training, Ginny. Mustn't let it lapse now - we've still got the Slytherins to play you know."
Ginny flopped onto the grass and beckoned Harry to join her. "Hermione's still sleeping - I heard her come to bed at about 3 o'clock this morning. She'd been reading and making notes for about 7 hours nonstop! I got up at midnight and made her a sandwich and a cup of tea - she hardly knew I was there! I thought it'd be best to let her sleep - if there's one of us who needs to be alert today, it's her!"
"Yes, I think you're right. We can call her at 10.30 - that should give her enough time to get ready and we can travel down to Rennes-le-Chateau at about 11 o'clock. We've got to be there by midday, but we don't want to arrive too early in case Wormtail shows up."
Ginny frowned at Harry's reminder of the ever-present dangers surrounding their quest, then she brightened. "Uh, what do you think about Sirius and Ceri, Harry? They'd make a nice couple, don't you think?" She raised her eyebrows questioningly.
"Oh no, Ginny. Don't go there. I know what you're like - I've seen you trying to get Charlie and Nadine to connect." He paused and then grinned. "But I think you're absolutely right - they'd make a great couple. But there's a lot of painful history there, Ginny. I wouldn't push things if I were you. If anything's meant to happen - it'll happen on its own."
Ginny frowned. "Ok Harry. It's your call. But the Charlie and Nadine project is mine!" She was smiling again. "So watch this space!" Harry rolled his eyes but couldn't help laughing at the infectious optimism of his young friend.
"What the bloody hell is all this noise!" Ron emerged from the tent, dressed only in his boxers, running his hands through his hair. "Can't a guy get some sleep in this place?"
"Oh come on Ron," said Ginny, "you've had about ten hours already. Get dressed - and come on, you and Harry can help me make breakfast. Oh and Ron, we're letting Hermione sleep in until half past ten - she's going to need all the rest she can get before we leave."
Millie and Arbuthnot were pleasantly surprised to see breakfast waiting for them when they came into the kitchen. "This is nice," said a smiling Millie. "We'll have to invite you on our little jaunts more often I think." She looked around the kitchen. "Where's Hermione?"
"She's still sleeping Mrs. Granger," said Ginny. "She was up most of the night doing some research. We're going to Rennes-le-Chateau at about 11 o'clock so we thought we'd leave her in bed for as long as we could."
"How long do intend to be there, today?"
"Oh, I'm not really sure Mrs. Granger," said Harry, "but we could be quite a while. We've got a lot to investigate so don't expect us back before some time this evening. So don't worry if we're late."
"Umm," said Millie frowning, "and if I know my daughter, she won't want to be interrupted by anything as mundane as finding a nice restaurant to have a decent meal. I'll have a nice little picnic ready to take with you. I think I've got just enough time to cook you one of my specialities."
Ron's ears pricked up. "What's that, Mrs. Granger?"
"Pizza Margherita. I picked up this gorgeous recipe in Italy a few years ago. Until you've tried pizza the way the Italians make it, you haven't lived!"
"Ron!" whispered Ginny. "Close your mouth. You're slobbering!"
Everyone laughed as Ron quickly and noisily slapped his lips together. "I can't wait, Mrs. Granger."
"What's all this, Mum?" asked Hermione as she finally made an appearance later that morning. "And where is everybody?"
"They're out in the garden getting things ready for your little trip today. And since you're likely to be late home, I've made you all a little something to make sure you eat properly."
"Little! Mum, how are we going to carry all that food?"
"Easy," said Ron as he came into the kitchen from the garden. He stopped suddenly and put his nose in the air and closed his eyes as a look of pure ecstasy dawned on his face. "What is that gorgeous smell?"
"That's my pizza, Ron," said Millie, looking pleased. Ron opened his eyes and surveyed a huge mound of packages on the kitchen table. "There's sandwiches, some chicken drumsticks, a few pies and pasties, potato crisps, some salad and, of course, the pizza."
"Thank you, Mrs. Granger. That's very kind of you. Now where have you put the food for the others?"
"Ron!" breathed Hermione, laughing. "Tell the others I'll have a cup of tea and a piece of toast and I'll be out in about fifteen minutes."
"Right. Take your time - we won't be leaving for another half hour." Ron piled the packages into his arms and walked gingerly out into the garden, balancing them precariously, to pack them into the four rucksacks stored in the tent.
A little later, the three greeted Hermione as she walked over to the tent. "How are you feeling? And what have you got there?" asked Harry.
"Fine, Harry. Thanks for letting me sleep in. I found out quite a lot about the golden section last night, and I think we'll need these things to work out anything we come across relating to phi." She showed them a calculator, some parchments, a measuring tape and several other instruments taken from her Arithmancy set.
"Uh, I think YOU'LL be the one needing them Hermione," said Ron. "I'll just protect you while you do the calculations."
The four teens grinned and then checked that they had everything before walking into the copse of trees behind the garden.
"Mum made a huge mound of food for us," Hermione told the adults. "Much too much for us four."
"Speak for yourself, Hermione," said Ron with a pained expression as she gave two of the rucksacks to Ceri and Nadine.
"Come on, Ron. Even you couldn't eat all that," said Harry.
"I'd have had a good go, Harry. Uh, Hermione, you've kept the rucksack with the pizzas in I hope?"
"I've split them up, Ron - some for us and some for the others. Ok?"
"Thanks, Hermione," said Sirius. "If we can't finish it all, we'll keep what's left for Ron." He looked at his watch. "11 o'clock. Time to get moving, I think."
They all piled into the Land Rover and Nadine slowly pulled onto the track that led to the main road. As they neared Rennes-le-Chateau, they all had serious expressions on their faces as they thought of what lay ahead.
"What are we going to do about the priest?" said Remus. "It's Good Friday and he's bound to have a service planned for midday today."
Nadine glanced at the others. "I think I know what to do. While you kids are in the church, I'll wait on the path to the church door and intercept him. I'll pretend that I'm in a bit of pain or something and keep him talking. If you, Ceri, go into the church with them, you can come out and signal when they've found the way to the secret and I can then let the priest go."
"That sounds ok, Nadine," said Ceri. "Sirius, Remus and Charlie can keep a look out around the church until we all come out, then the five of us can take up our defensive positions around the kids, as we agreed earlier, as they start on their journey to the secret."
The Land Rover pulled into the main square of Rennes-le-Chateau at 11.50 precisely, and everyone cautiously got out and made their way towards the church. The teens went inside with Ceri while Nadine waited outside, looking up the lane for the priest's arrival. Sirius, Remus and Charlie spread out around the front of the church and started looking for any sign of activity.
From his hiding place behind a large rock, Wormtail was dismayed at the close protection given to the youngsters, but he had a grim expression on his face, if a rat could have such an expression. He silently made his way behind the church to Apparate to the cave where the Death Eaters were waiting.
Just then, Nadine spotted the priest approaching the church. Again, there was no congregation in sight. As he came near, she flopped onto the ground, holding her stomach, and held her hand out, imploringly. "Father, please help me. I just felt a sudden stabbing pain in my stomach. It hurts so much."
The priest rushed over and bent down beside her. "Easy, my child - let me help you over to the bench outside the church."
He gently helped Nadine get to her feet and they slowly walked over to the bench and they both sat down. "Now tell me - exactly where is the pain?"
Inside the church, Ceri watched as the teens spread out around the main aisle, and looked up at the stained glass windows. It was 3 minutes to midday, and they looked expectantly towards the window that showed Jesus instructing his disciples.
"Look there!" exclaimed Ginny pointing to the middle of the aisle. They all looked and saw the image of 3 blue apples slowly moving down the aisle towards the centre.
"What now?" asked Ron.
"We have to look for the sign of the teacher. You keep looking at the floor, Ginny. The rest of us will look at the Jesus window."
It was now 2 minutes to midday and the tension inside the church could be cut with a knife.
Outside, meanwhile, Nadine was making a good job of keeping the priest occupied, while Sirius, Charlie and Remus kept watch. Suddenly, Remus spotted movement about 50 yards away at the edge of the cemetery. He signalled to the others and they looked over to where Remus was pointing. They saw the unmistakable black cloak of a Death Eater disappear quickly behind a tree. Sirius moved immediately over to the bench where Nadine was talking to the priest.
"I'm sorry, father," he said, "but you have to leave here immediately. There's danger approaching." He nodded in the direction of the Death Eaters, who at that moment broke cover and started to run towards the front of the church. The priest had a frightened look in his eyes - obviously, he understood English. But he said, "But this young child is in pain. I cannot leave her like this."
"Don't worry about her father, I'll make sure she reaches safety. Now go before it's too late." The priest needed no further prompting and ran over towards the Villa Bethania to seek cover.
"Nadine - go and warn Ceri and the kids. We'll hold them off as long as we can." The sound of curses and charms filled the air as Nadine rushed into the church and Sirius moved back to his defensive position.
It was 1 minute to midday as Nadine rushed up to Ceri and told her about the attack. They both rushed towards the door, wands in hand, and prepared to hold position there.
It was midday. Suddenly, Hermione and the others saw a bright light within the stained glass window they were watching. Ginny again cried out as she saw another image appear on the front of the aisle floor. The rest looked down and saw a perfect white triangle moving up the aisle towards the image of the blue apples.
"That's a perfect isosceles triangle," said Hermione. "Of course! The teacher will cast 3 - a 3-sided triangle. Look, it's almost reached the fruit - It has to join with it, just like the riddle said."
The triangle and apple images merged at the centre of the aisle, and when the apples were contained exactly within the triangle, both images completely covered one of the white chessboard squares on the floor.
"That's it," shouted Hermione, "that square must be the starting point of our quest."
"But Hermione," said Ron, "where are we supposed to go from there? I can't see anything else that shows the way."
"It must be a portal," said Ginny, "you know - like the one Ron opened when we met the Grand Master the other day."
"I think you're right, Ginny," said Harry. "Come on - let's see if we can open it."
The four stood, two each side of the square and looked down. Harry took out his wand and touched the square at the centre and said, "ALOHOMORA".
The square shimmered, and then vanished to reveal a hole with steps leading steeply down below the floor of the church.
"We've found the entrance," whispered Hermione and she looked around the church. "Where's Ceri?"
The others looked around and Harry exclaimed, "Can you here that? That's the sound of curses being thrown. The Death Eaters must have shown up. Wait here - I'll go and see what's happening."
He moved down the church and went to the door where he saw Nadine and Ceri crouched on the floor, flinging charms towards their left-hand side.
Ceri turned and saw Harry approaching. "Stay back, Harry. It's Wormtail and about ten other Death Eaters. You keep looking and we'll hold them off."
"We've found the entrance, Ceri. It seems to be a tunnel leading underneath the church. But we can't go now - we'll help you fight them off. I'll go and get the others."
"No, Harry. We'll be ok. We've got our defensive positions worked out and we'll be able to hold them off for quite some time. You go and start the quest - don't worry about us."
"But Ceri …"
Suddenly, Harry heard a loud voice. "ANIMA SUMMA." He jerked his head up and looked around but couldn't see who was speaking. He looked towards Ceri and Nadine, who showed no sign of having heard anything. He moved back inside the church and saw that his friends were looking around with their mouths wide open - they must also have heard the voice. He went over to Hermione. "Did you hear that?" he asked.
"Yes Harry - we all did."
"ANIMA SUMMA. FIND YOUR WAY TO THE SECRET. DO NOT BE AFRAID FOR YOUR FRIENDS OUTSIDE - THEY WILL BE SAFE. TIME WILL BE EQUALISED."
"You all hear that?" asked Harry. The others nodded.
Ron voiced what the others were thinking, "Who was that? And what did he mean by 'time will be equalised'?"
They all shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads.
"All right," said Harry. "We'll go. But hang on until I go and tell Ceri." He ran back to the church entrance and touched Ceri on the shoulder. She turned her head and looked at him questioningly.
"Ceri - we're going down under the church. We heard a powerful voice saying that you'd all be safe out here. We'll be as quick as we can."
"Ok Harry - go. And don't worry about us."
Harry returned to his waiting friends and went to the hole in the floor. He put his foot on the first step and then paused, looking at his friends. "Goodness knows what we'll find down there, or how far we'll have to go. Are you all sure you want to do this?"
The others looked at each other and Hermione said, "Don't be silly, Harry. Of course we want to do it. We've come this far and we want to see it through. And in any case, the Grand Master said that we all have to go."
The four friends grinned at each other, and then Hermione thought for a moment. "The Grand Master said that the way would be difficult and tortuous. And he also said that if we make one false move, we'd be lost forever. Now I get the feeling that we're about to enter a labyrinth - and there'll probably be many twists and turns. The tunnel may branch in different directions, so I think it'll be a good idea if we map our progress. Ginny, will you keep a record on some parchment of the way we go? We'll then be able to follow the map to find our way back out after we've found the secret."
Ginny nodded. "That sound like a very good idea." She took some blank parchment and a pencil from Hermione's rucksack.
"Why don't we just make marks on the tunnel wall - you know, arrows pointing which way we go?" asked Ron.
"No Ron, we can't do that," said Harry. "If the Death Eaters break through and get into the church we don't want to put up a load of sign posts telling them which way we've gone."
"Oh right. Sorry - I wasn't thinking."
Harry grinned at his friend and then took a deep breath. "Ok. Are you all ready?" Everyone nodded with determination.
"Then let the quest begin!"
Charlie ducked as the lethal green light whizzed just above his head. The Death Eaters were flinging killing curses thick and fast - but they didn't appear to be very precise in their aim. He turned to where Sirius was hiding. "These guys are not playing about - tell the others to be very careful."
"I know, Charlie. They seem to be putting down a lot of covering fire - some of them may be trying to outflank us. There's a weak spot over to our right - I'll move over to the Calvery - I should be able to cover it there." He shouted to the others, "Try to keep their heads down for a few seconds - I'm going to change my position."
Charlie and Remus started to send curses in the direction where most of the Death Eater fire was coming from, while Ceri and Nadine aimed at any sign of movement. It had the desired effect, and Sirius picked a lull in the curses aimed at them to race from his cover over to the Calvery. He made it - just. As he dived for the cover of the stone cross, green light started to pepper the ground around him. He let out a loud breath and raised himself into a crouching position, peering around his stone cover. He had been right - he could see two Death Eaters creeping along the line of trees to his right, trying to get into the Calvery. He raised his wand and took careful aim but he couldn't get a clear sight because of the tree cover. He then raised his wand and aimed at a large tree branch under which the Death Eaters were creeping.
"FLIPENDO," he shouted and a ball of energy left his wand and struck the branch at the point where it met the main tree trunk. The Death Eaters were thrown to the ground as a dense bundle of leaves and branches fell on them, leaving them exposed to Sirius' fire. He sent 'Stupefy' spells in their direction, but the Death Eaters' fear lent them a burst of speed as they rushed back to join the main throng of black-cloaked figures.
Sirius grinned and settled down for a long wait.
"Harry's owl - Hedwig - delivered a message this morning, Arthur." Dumbledore sat at the kitchen table at The Burrow, facing Arthur and Molly Weasley, who had worried expressions on their faces.
"Are they all right, Professor?" asked Molly anxiously.
"Yes, yes - don't worry Molly. They're all ok. It seems that when I sent the note giving them your information, Charlie had already made contact with them. It seems that he and a French girl - the sister of Charlie's magical creatures contact in the Langedoc - were in Rennes-le-Chateau at the same time as the kids and their protectors. They've now joined the team and Charlie's keeping a brotherly eye on Ron and Ginny."
"Oh thank goodness," said Arthur. "You've mentioned the protectors before, Professor, who are they? Do I know any of them?"
"Wait a minute, Arthur," said Molly. At the mention of the French girl, her ears had pricked up and a gleam had come into her eyes. "Tell me, Professor, who's this French girl?"
"Her name's Nadine Blanc, Molly," Dumbledore said with a grin, "and before you ask any more questions, no - I don't know if she and Charlie are an item. I gather they're very friendly with each other but beyond that, I don't know."
"Well it's about time Charlie settled down and found a nice girl. I've lost patience with Bill, but I thought Charlie would have been married by now."
"Molly," said Arthur knowingly. "I can see that look in your eye but you don't even know if Charlie and this girl like each other that way. Now don't go interfering!" He grinned slyly at Dumbledore. "Right Professor, you were about to tell us about the support team."
"Yes Arthur. They're the best people I've got - you know, of course, that I couldn't get any Aurors from the Ministry, but these three are right up to the job. Ceri Jones is an American special Auror, seconded to my team from the United States. You both know Remus Lupin, of course - my Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. And finally, my most trusted helper, Sirius Black. He …"
Dumbledore was interrupted by a loud shriek that erupted from Molly Weasley. Arthur had suddenly gone very pale. "Professor Dumbledore - is that Sirius Black the escaped killer from Azkaban?"
"The very same, Arthur." he held up his hands to ward off the expected volley of protests and continued, "I thought you may have heard the odd rumour at the ministry. Sirius Black is innocent of all charges. Indeed, the wizard he's supposed to have killed - Peter Pettigrew - is leading the band of Death Eaters opposing them in France. He was the one who killed the Muggles fourteen years ago - he's a rat Animagus, and you may not believe this, but he was living with you for a long time - Scabbers."
Molly and Arthur gasped and stared disbelieving at Dumbledore.
"Sirius has been working for me for over a year now - he's done some very difficult and dangerous work keeping track of Voldemort. I can't think of anyone better to whom I'd entrust the safety of the four kids."
Dumbledore paused and a grim expression crossed his face. "I won't lie to you both - there has been a Death Eater attack on the kids and I very much doubt it will be the last. It was Ron's quick reactions that prevented any of them getting hurt and gave them the time for the protectors to fight them off."
"Professor Dumbledore," said Molly, "don't you think it would be best to bring them home? I mean, if things are getting that dangerous …" she trailed off at a loss for words.
"I'm sorry, Molly, but this has got to be done. I told you before how important it is that Harry uncovers the secret, and Hermione, Ron and Ginny have been destined to be his helpers. This is the key to defeating Voldemort. Look, even as we speak, your children are helping to write wizarding history. When this whole epic comes to the attention of the wizarding public - and it will - I'll see to that - their names will be held in the highest esteem throughout the world. You should be proud of them - I certainly am."
A tear rolled down Molly's face and Arthur put a protective arm around her shoulders. "We are proud of them anyway, Professor, whether they write history or not. We just hope they'll come out of this safely."
Harry slowly led the way down the steps that fell steeply below the church. After a few minutes, the steps came to an end and the four stood at the entrance to a tunnel. They could see in the dim light that filtered down from the church above, that the tunnel was roughly hewed from the rock, about 6 feet high and four and a half feet wide. Jagged pieces of rock jutted from the ceiling and the sides of the tunnel, so they would have to proceed in single file. Suddenly they jumped as the light from above was cut off, plunging them into darkness. The pitch black seemed to envelope them and sent a shiver down Ginny's spine. She reached out to touch her brother, wanting the comfort of familiar contact in the deathly darkness.
"Ahhhh … Gerroff … Gerroff …" The others jumped again as Ron erupted.
"LUMOS." Hermione held her wand above her head, the light filling the narrow entrance in which they were standing. Ron was dancing about like a crazed animal, swatting at his shoulder.
Ginny was standing a little behind Ron nursing her hand. "Ron," she wailed, "what did you bash my hand for?"
"Ginny! Don't ever do that! I thought it was a spider!" Ron looked sternly at his sister.
"Sorry," she whispered sullenly. Harry and Hermione couldn't help but laugh at their antics, but it served to lift the gloom that had earlier descended on them. Harry looked up to the top of the steps to see that the square hole above had closed.
"Well, nobody's going to follow us now," said Harry. "Light your wands, everybody - and watch that you don't bump your heads on these rocks jutting down from the ceiling."
Harry again took the lead and entered the tunnel, quickly followed by Ron, then Hermione, with Ginny bringing up the rear. The tunnel was fairly straight, but after a few yards started to dip quite steeply. In places, it was so steep that they had to lean back and brace themselves against the wall and hold their balance against the jutting rocks to prevent sliding down to the bottom. They proceeded cautiously as the tunnel wound around to the left, and then the right, levelled off and then dipped steeply once more. Both Harry and Ron had to walk with a stoop to avoid hitting their heads on the tunnel ceiling.
They had travelled for about 200 yards before they came to the end of the tunnel. "Hold on a minute," Harry whispered, "the tunnel seems to be opening out just up ahead - but I can't see anything yet, just darkness."
He edged slowly forwards and came to the tunnel exit. He stretched his arm out and lifted his wand into the space before him. He saw a much larger tunnel, but as roughly hewn as the one they had just descended. He looked down to see that the floor was fairly level and he slowly walked forward, calling to the others to follow him.
When they were all inside, with all four wands casting their illumination, they saw that they were standing in a tunnel about 20 yards in length, about 4 yards wide and 8 feet high. Harry walked towards the centre and peered ahead, holding his wand in front of him. "There's a blank wall straight ahead," he called back over his shoulder.
"There are tunnels leading off to the left," said Hermione walking over to them. She paused briefly as she counted. "There's six of them and they all look about the same size."
Ron looked towards the opposite wall. "There're no exits on the right side. We've got to go down one of these on the left."
"Yes, but which one?" said Ginny looking doubtfully at the six exits.
Hermione looked closely, and saw that the tunnels were not evenly spaced along the wall. There was one only a few feet from the tunnel they had just come down and one about 5 yards further along. The third was 2 yards further, and so on in a completely random pattern, the sixth tunnel being about 6 yards from the far wall.
"I wonder ..." she said to herself. "Ginny - help me do some measuring please." She eased her rucksack from her back and fished inside for the measuring tape. She walked over to the first tunnel and placed the end of the tape on the ground at the left-hand side of the exit. "This tape is 90 feet long so we should be able to do it in one go," she said to the others.
"Uh, what are you doing?" asked Ron.
"I'm going to measure the distance from the start of the first exit tunnel to the end of the sixth. I think this puzzle can be solved using the golden section, just like the riddle says. This line of exits can be treated as a straight line. And the golden section is a special point on a straight line - the point where the ratio of the total length to the largest segment is the same as the ratio of the largest segment to the smallest segment."
"Uh, right," said Ron doubtfully. "Now in English please Hermione?"
"The ratio of the golden section is 1.618, to the nearest three decimal places. So on a straight line, the golden section point will be the total length divided by 1.618. See?"
"If you say so," groaned Ron.
"Ginny, you hold the end of the tape just here please, and I'll walk to the far tunnel and take a reading"
Ginny dutifully bent down and held the end of the tape to the ground as Hermione walked, tape unreeling, to the far side of the tunnel. When she reached the furthest side of the sixth exit, she shouted, "50 feet exactly."
She then walked back towards Ginny, reeling the tape back in as she went. "Right," she said and started rummaging in her rucksack once more. After a few moments, she found the calculator and turned it on. She started to enter the figures, muttering to herself as she worked, "That's 50 divided by 1.618 equals … 30.9." She looked up at the others, who were watching intently. "So, if the golden section rule is to be applied here, we should find that 30.9 feet from the first exit should land slap bang in the middle of the correct exit tunnel. Ginny, will you help me again please?"
Ginny once more held the end of the tape in the same place as before, while Hermione walked along the line of tunnels, all the while reading the measurements as the tape unfolded. She stopped and held the tape against the floor; unreeling a little more of it until exactly 30.9 feet was shown. She looked up and was shocked to see that she was facing bare rock, in between two of the exits.
"Oh bother!" she exclaimed, her brow creasing in consternation.
"Well it can't be solved by the golden section, then," said Ron. "So what did the riddle say? When the rule of gold cannot be followed, follow the light of the righteous."
"But there's no light here, Ron," said Harry. A sinking feeling started to overtake Harry as he thought that they would fail at the very first hurdle. He looked at Hermione and his spirits started to lift at the look on her face. She was obviously onto something.
"Ginny," she called, "will you move back and hold your end of the tape against the far wall? I'm going to try something else. It may be that the whole length of the wall must be taken into consideration and not just the distance between the two end tunnels."
Hermione walked until she reached the far wall. She looked at the tape and shouted, "68 feet." She walked back down the row of tunnels, reeling in the tape as she went. She then picked her calculator back up and started to enter the new figures. "The golden section lies a fraction over 42 feet along from the near wall. Stay there, Ginny. I'll measure it out"
Hermione repeated the process, and stooped to adjust the tape to measure 42 feet. She looked up and this time saw that she was at the exact centre of the fourth exit tunnel.
"Eureka," she yelled. "Come on, you lot - this way. It must be the right one."
As he passed her to lead the way into the tunnel, Harry leaned over and whispered into her ear, "How could I have doubted you, Hermione. You're absolutely marvellous."
Hermione blushed prettily, and waited for Ron and Ginny to follow Harry before moving into the tunnel herself.
Feeling elated, Harry walked more quickly than earlier. The tunnel was about the same width as the first one, but the floor, sides and ceiling were a lot smoother. After about 50 uneventful yards, the tunnel suddenly opened out into what appeared to be a natural cavern. It was roughly oval in shape and about 30 yards across at its longest point, which happened to be straight ahead of them. The ceiling was much higher than before, about 20 feet above their heads.
They all walked cautiously into the cavern looking around with interest. There were some oddly shaped rock formations on the left-hand side, which appeared to have been formed by running water at some time in the distant past.
"Well I can't see any exits along these walls," said Ron after a while, "only that one straight ahead - it just seems to be a continuation of the tunnel we just came through."
"You're right Ron," said Harry. "There aren't any puzzles for you to solve here, Hermione. Come on, lets keep moving."
As they started towards the exit at the far end of the cavern, they suddenly froze as the most terrible roar filled the air around them. It seemed to be coming from dead ahead. "What the hell's that?" wailed Ginny.
She got her answer a few seconds later as the most hideous monster imaginable emerged from the tunnel ahead of them. It was about 18 feet long with a long bulbous body stretched out behind it, covered in thick black hair. It's heads - there were three of them - were - well - indescribable. The only feature to stick in the memory was the length of the double row of razor-sharp teeth, which dripped an evil-looking purple liquid. It moved fairly slowly, considering the eight legs that it boasted, and to Ron, its movement was strangely familiar.
"Come on," shouted Harry, "lets get out of here - back up the tunnel, quick."
Harry, Hermione and Ginny turned and started to race back up the tunnel. They had gone only a few yards before they noticed that Ron wasn't with them.
"Oh no," breathed Harry. "RON …. RON," he shouted. There was no reply - only the loud roaring of the hideous monster.
"We've got to go back," he shouted. "Ron's still in there."
The three ran back to the cavern entrance and looked inside, fearing to see the worst. What they saw shocked them. Ron stood in the middle of the cavern, immediately in front of the monster, with his wand raised.
"CONFUNDO," he shouted, and the charm hit the monster squarely between the eyes of the middle head - or what appeared to be eyes - only the gaping mouth could be seen clearly.
The monster stopped and started swaying from side to side, obviously disoriented. Then, much to the amazement of his three friends, Ron laughed out loud, again pointed his wand at the monster, and yelled, "RIDDIKULUS."
The monster looked at Ron in disbelief, and then disappeared with a 'POP,' leaving behind a boggart, which quickly crawled away into a dark corner.
They walked up to Ron and, slapping him on the back, Harry said, "How did you know it was a boggart Ron? It frightened the living daylights out of us three."
"It was the way it moved, really," answered Ron. "I knew I'd seen that gait before and then it struck me - a Dementor. It moved exactly like a Dementor. I know that's your worst fear, and mine is a spider - it had eight legs and the body of a big fat hairy. I don't know what Hermione and Ginny's worst fears are, but there wasn't really any time to ask them - even if they'd stayed here long enough for me to ask." He grinned at the two girls, who both looked back at him sheepishly. "But those two things told me all I needed to know. It must have picked up on all of our worst fears and changed into an amalgam of all four. Once I realised it was a boggart, it was easy to just confuse it and then dispel it with Riddikulus."
"That was a very brave thing to do, Ron," said Hermione.
"Yes - that it was," agreed Harry. "You were the only one to stand up to it Ron."
Feeling embarrassed, Ron dismissed their praise and pointed at the tunnel up ahead. "Come on. We've still got some work to do. Let's go."
They entered the tunnel, still in single file with Harry in the lead, and walked down it more cautiously than they had the previous one.
They followed the tunnel straight for about twenty yards, and then it bent in a dogleg towards the left. They walked on for another 40 yards before entering a very unusual cavern. It was obvious from first glance that this was not a natural cave - there were too many straight lines. They walked to the middle and looked about them. It was only about 8 feet high, and there were three sides. The smaller side was behind them, which held the tunnel out of which they had just come, and the ones to the left and right of them were about the same length, and ended in a point, about 20 yards in front of them.
"This is odd," said Hermione. "It's in the shape of a triangle - like the one we saw cast from the stained glass window in the church. Look - there are six exit tunnels on each of the longer sides of the triangle."
"That's twelve to choose from," said Ginny. "Got any ideas Hermione? Is it the golden rule again?"
Hermione thought for a few minutes. "I think so. But this is different. I'll have to look at my notes." She took off her rucksack and rummaged for the notes she had made the night before. She pulled them out and sat on the floor to read.
"Can we do anything while you read?" asked Harry.
Hermione looked up. "Yes - you can measure the lengths of the three walls - that should be a help."
"Come on, Ron," said Harry as he pulled the tape measure from Hermione's rucksack. "You grab the end and hold it in the right-hand corner."
While the two boys measured the dimensions of the cave, Hermione flicked through the pages of parchment looking for her notes on the golden section and triangles. She found them quite quickly and started to read. After about five minutes, she stood up and saw that Harry and Ron had just finished measuring the smallest of the three walls. "Well, what have we got?" she asked.
Harry looked at the notes he had made on the back of his hand. "The two longer walls are exactly the same size - 60 feet, and the shortest wall is a little over 37 feet."
"Great," said Hermione. "That sounds like a golden triangle - it's a special type of isosceles triangle, but I won't know for sure until I measure the angles."
She pulled out a fresh piece of parchment, a ruler, a pair of compasses and a protractor from her rucksack and sat back on the ground, placing the blank parchment on top of the pile already on the floor. She looked up at Harry. "How much over 37 feet is the smallest wall?"
"Uh, just over an inch," he replied.
Adjusting the scale to fit the parchment, Hermione drew a line to represent the base wall. Then she took her compasses and measured, again to the same scale, the length of the two side walls. She placed the compasses on each end of the base line and drew 2 arcs, which intersected at the top of the parchment. She drew in the other two sides of the triangle and measured their lengths with the ruler to make sure she hadn't made any mistakes.
"Right," she said, "this should tell me if it's a golden triangle."
Using the protractor, she measured the 3 inside angles of the triangle she'd drawn on the parchment. "Yes," she exclaimed. "It's a golden triangle - the two larger angles at the base measure 72 degrees, and the angle at the top is 36 degrees."
"So what does that tell us?" asked Ron.
"It means I can use this drawing to calculate where the correct exit from this cavern is. But there's a problem. You see, if you draw a line from the larger base angle onto the opposite wall, and you make sure that the base angle is exactly bisected - that's 36 degrees, then the point that it hits the opposite wall is the golden section point of that wall. The problem is, there are two base angles of 72 degrees. Which one do we use?"
"There's got to be something here to tell us," said Harry. "Let's look at the two corners and see if we can find anything."
Ron and Hermione went to the left-hand corner while Harry and Ginny went to the right. They looked at the floor all around the two corners and brushed away the small amount of dust and debris that had accumulated over the years, but neither pair could find anything.
Ginny looked up and turned around to call to the other two, and something caught her eye in the corner of the wall about 7 feet from the floor. She raised her wand and looked closely at what she'd seen. "It's here," she shouted. "Look - it's a cross drawn on the wall."
The four teens clustered around and saw, illuminated in the light from Ginny's wand, a cross paté - the symbol of the Knights Templar.
"That's it," said Hermione. "It's too much of a coincidence for it not to be. That's got to be the sign for which base angle to use." She walked back to her drawing and carefully placed the protractor on the bottom right-hand angle, and drew a line at exactly the 36 degrees angle and extended it to intersect the left hand wall. "That's where the correct tunnel is," she said pointing to her drawing and then looking up at the left-hand wall. She measured the distance along the wall in her drawing and then adjusted the scale back up to actual.
"Ginny - hold the end of the tape measure in the left-hand corner while I measure out along the wall."
Hermione walked along the wall and placed the tape measure on the ground at her calculated distance from the corner. She looked up to see that she was directly in front of the third tunnel from the left-hand corner. "This is it," she said.
Ron had looked on, thoroughly bemused, while Hermione had completed her calculations and measurements. "Are you sure this is the right one? That looked pretty complicated to me."
"I'm sure, Ron. Come on, let's go."
Harry again led the others into the tunnel, which was roughly 7 feet high and 4 feet wide. It was a quite roughly hewn hand-made tunnel, but not as rough as the first tunnel under the church - it could well have been built by the Romans nearly two thousand years ago. After about twenty yards, the tunnel started to arc around to the right and slope downwards. It continued like this for the next seventy yards or so.
Harry put up his hand to stop the others. "Listen," he whispered. "Can you hear that?"
They could all hear a feint roaring sound which seemed to come from somewhere up ahead. "Oh no - not another monster," groaned Ginny.
"No I don't think so, Ginny," said Harry. "Come on, let's go on a bit further."
They walked slowly on, still bearing to the right and angling downwards, until, after another fifty yards, the tunnel straightened out and Harry called another halt. All the while, the roaring sound had become louder, and when they stopped it was very loud.
"What is that?" asked Ron. "I've heard that noise before somewhere."
Harry gestured the others to follow as he slowly walked forward. The roaring noise was deafening as Harry stepped out of the tunnel and looked in horror at the scene before him. The others quickly followed and looked about them with trepidation.
Harry had to shout to make himself heard to the others. "What are we going to do now?"
They had entered a fairly narrow cavern - just over twenty feet wide - and about thirty yards in length and twenty five feet at its highest point. It looked to be a natural cavern, with a lot of natural rock formations. They could see an exit tunnel opposite them - about twenty feet away. Although the tunnel was quite near, it was also quite far - because in between was a raging torrent of ice-cold water. They could see where the underground river entered to their left and exited the cavern to their right, through two very low tunnels. The torrent made the most horrendous noise as it frothed and boiled as it made its rapid way over the myriad sharp rocks that protruded from the surface.
"There's no way we'll wade or swim through that," shouted Ron. "We'll be swept away by the current before we go three feet."
"Spread out along the bank and see if we can find a crossing point," shouted Ginny.
Ron and Ginny went to the left, while Harry and Hermione walked to the right. After a few minutes, they met back at the entrance tunnel and both pairs shook their heads.
"So what now?" shouted Ginny.
The four looked at each other blankly and then gazed forlornly at the raging underground river.
"I've got it!" shouted Harry. "Why didn't I think of it sooner?"
The other three looked at him expectantly.
"I'll fly you over," he shouted. "I'll transform and take you one at a time. You first, Ron."
Harry transformed to his golden eagle form and stooped to let Ron climb onto his back. Then he spread his wings and pushed off from the ground. He flew slowly over to the far bank and landed just at the entrance to the tunnel, where Ron climbed down and waited. Harry went back and fetched Ginny next, and then returned for Hermione, who nearly strangled him as she held onto his neck for grim death.
After he'd transformed back, Harry led the others into the tunnel, which became very narrow after only five yards or so. It then cut sharply to the left and continued straight on into the darkness ahead. It appeared to be a natural tunnel, which had probably carried a tributary stream into the underground river many years ago. It was still very narrow and the floor, although smooth, was littered with small rocks.
The four's progress was slow as they made their way along, keeping watch by wand-light for over-head rock projections and loose boulders on the floor. Harry entered the cavern before he knew it - he was surprised that the walls of the tunnel suddenly disappeared and before him stretched a large natural gallery. It was quite low, only about fifteen feet high, but was fifty yards long by thirty wide. It was roughly oval in shape.
As they all walked towards the centre of the cavern, they saw that there were a number of exit tunnels on both sides. They counted ten exits on each side of the gallery. "We're spoilt for choice this time," quipped Ron. "But I'll tell you one thing - I'm not moving another inch until I eat something. I'm bloody starving!"
The other three laughed, and realised that they too were hungry. Harry looked at his watch. "It's a quarter to two," he exclaimed. "No wonder we're hungry!"
Ginny delved into one of the rucksacks that held Millie's food parcels and she handed them around to the others. Ron immediately went to the package that contained the pizzas. "I've been waiting all day to have a go at these," he said with relish.
"Hang on a minute, Ron - I'll warm them up," said Hermione. She pointed her wand at the exposed pizzas and muttered a heating spell. Soon the cavern was filled with the glorious mouth-watering smell of Millie's special Pizza Margherita recipe.
Ron was the first to grab a piece, which lasted about twenty seconds flat. "This is bloody wonderful," he mumbled as he reached for another piece with a look of ecstasy in his eyes. "You'll have to tell your mother to give my mum this recipe, Hermione."
After fifteen minutes, they washed down the food with a steaming hot cup of tea, again heated by Hermione, and loafed pleasantly on the floor for a few minutes. They were shaken from their stupor by a loud belch, which reverberated through the cavern for a full ten seconds.
"Ron - honestly," exclaimed Hermione.
"Blame your mother, Hermione - not me," he replied.
"Come on, back to work," laughed Harry, "goodness knows how much further we've got to go."
Hermione looked around the cave at the exit tunnels. "This is another golden section problem, I think," she said. "But which side is the right one?"
After a few minutes thought, she sighed, "We'll have to measure both sides and work out the golden section point and see what we get. Come on Ginny, same as before - you hold the end of the tape while I measure."
Hermione and Ginny went through the same process as in the first cavern, and after a few minutes they had the measurements of both sides of the cave. Hermione got out her calculator and shouted out the two measurements for the golden section of each wall. She and Ginny again took each end of the tape and walked to the left-hand wall.
When she had reached the required length, she saw that she was facing the bare rock wall. "This isn't it," she said, "let's try the other side."
This time, Hermione looked up to see that she was facing the seventh exit tunnel on the right-hand cave wall. "This must be it," she said.
"Come on then," said Harry as he led the way into the tunnel.
Remus ducked behind the cover of the church wall as a Flipendus curse blasted a piece of stone where, a few moments ago, his head had been. "They don't seem to want to give up," he shouted at Sirius.
"No - they're pretty determined this time," he shouted back as he sent a 'stupefy' towards the spot where the last curse had originated.
"How long have they been gone now?" shouted Nadine.
Ceri looked at her watch. "Only about fifteen minutes," she said.
"It seems more like an hour," Nadine replied. She was then sent tumbling to the floor as a killing curse hit the church door and sent a large splinter of wood crashing into her forehead.
"Nadine," cried Ceri as she rushed to her friend, "are you all right?" She looked at the French girl, who was getting groggily back to her feet. As she straightened, she saw that there was a large cut just above her hairline, and blood was running down into her eyes.
"Hold still," said Ceri. "I'll stop the bleeding." She held her wand against the cut as she muttered a spell, and the flow of blood eased to a trickle and then stopped all together. "You'll need some expert help to heal that cut properly, Nadine. But it should be ok for now."
"Thanks, Ceri. It feels a lot better now."
"Are you two girls all right?" shouted Charlie. He had seen how close the curse had come to them."
"We're ok, Charlie," shouted Ceri. "Nadine's got a cut, but I've stopped it bleeding."
Charlie growled angrily and sent a series of curses at the Death Eater positions, quickly followed by a volley from Sirius. "Eat that, Wormtail," he shouted.
The flurry of activity was followed by a lull in the fighting as the Death Eaters took stock of their assault.
"This is getting us nowhere, Wormtail," said Travis. "They're too well dug in. We'll be here all afternoon and we won't make much impression on them."
Wormtail looked nervous. "We've got to keep trying, Travis. Do you want to be the one to tell Lord Voldemort that we failed?"
Travis grunted, "We won't fail. We can't. Brackton - come over here. Let's do a bit of thinking - we've got to wheedle them out of there somehow."
"That's the best thing you've said all day, Travis," said Wormtail. "We've got to think up a plan to break through into the church."
The tunnel sloped gently downwards and swung to the right after they had gone thirty yards. After another twenty yards, Harry stopped. To his left was a narrow entrance - a large fissure in the rock wall - while the tunnel they were walking down continued on ahead. He called to the others and they looked at the fissure dubiously.
"Do you think this is anything worth looking at?" asked Harry. The others just shrugged, not knowing what to make of the fissure.
"Hang on - I'll go and have a closer look," said Harry as he moved towards the fissure, his lit wand held before him. The other three saw Harry suddenly stop and back slowly towards them. They sucked in their breath as they saw what had caused Harry to retreat.
Out of the fissure came a tall ghostly form. It was a man of about forty-five years old, and he was as white as a sheet. He stopped about five yards in front of the teens and raised his arm towards them. He pointed his index finger at each of them, and then pointed back up the tunnel in the direction from which they had just come.
The ghost spoke in a low, but authoritative voice, "I am the guardian spirit. Your quest has been terminated. You are too young for such an awesome responsibility. A new Anima Summa will be chosen, one who has the experience to complete the task. Go back to your friends and leave this place. Go and enjoy your youth."
Ron and Ginny immediately turned around and started back up the tunnel. Hermione watched them turn, but hesitated - torn between leaving and staying with Harry, who was rooted to the spot. Her brow creased, deep in thought and confusion.
Harry made no move to follow his two friends - he just stood and stared at the ghost, deep in concentration. He then shook his head sharply, as if trying to clear it, and he detected the unmistakable overtones of the Imperious curse.
"Who are you?" he challenged the ghost. "What gives you the right to interrupt the quest of the Anima Summa and his helpers? I am the true Anima Summa, chosen by one greater than you. I will not be deflected from my task - go now and let us proceed."
At the sound of Harry's voice, Ron and Ginny stopped. Hermione still stood where she had been, listening intently.
A sudden transformation came over the ghost. He lost his grim expression and a smile broke out on his ghostly white face. "You are indeed the true one. Proceed to your destiny."
The ghost again raised his arm and pointed to his left, down the main tunnel. He then pointed at the other three and muttered a charm, which lifted the imperious curse he had placed on them all earlier - he had no need to lift it from Harry, of course. Harry had already done that himself.
The ghost then drifted back to the tunnel wall and went back inside the fissure in the rock.
"Thank goodness you know how to resist Imperious, Harry," said Hermione.
"You didn't do a bad job of it yourself, Hermione," grinned Harry.
"Oh not really," she replied. "I only stayed because you were still there …" She trailed off, getting flustered. Harry looked at her quizzically, and then called to the others, "Lets carry on down the tunnel."
The tunnel still sloped gently downwards, and twisted both to the left and the right for the next 150 yards or so. It became very narrow in places, so narrow that they had to turn sideways to squeeze through. In other places, the ceiling dropped to only two feet above the floor, so they had to crawl on their stomachs to get through.
The tunnel then turned sharply to the left and after another twenty yards they entered a low, circular chamber - about ten yards in diameter. There were three exit tunnels, one straight ahead and one on each side, exactly opposite each other.
See Chapter 9B - Labyrinth (part 2) - I've had to split the chapter up because it seems that the upload software can't handle the full chapter in one go.