kitchen_maid: (Golden Woods)
Amy ([personal profile] kitchen_maid) wrote2012-08-11 09:17 pm

Chimes at Midnight

"Where are the others?" Amy asks, following X out into the small square room between the ballroom and the exit, Bruce close behind them.

"Meg is with the ghost. On the other side of the lake. She is providing a distraction," X says. "Parker and Scorpius -- "

"-- are getting the hell out of here," Parker puts in, as she and Scorpius come all but skidding into the room and stop just short of colliding with Bruce. "Y'all coming?"

While this plan is sheer elegance in its simplicity, they quickly hit a snag. The dock has fallen into to the water and the boats are drifting out into the middle of the lake.

"It wouldn't be hard to swim out and get them," Bruce says, stepping into the lake to do just that.

From the castle behind them, there's another BONG of the clock. The previously still water begins to move, and then swirl, and then to drain, turning the entire lake into a giant, rushing whirlpool.

"Bruce," X says.

Bruce, who had made it as far in as his ankles, steps quickly back onto the shore.

They stand watching the lake for a moment.

"Swimming will be stupid. Now," X says.

"What do we do instead?" Amy asks. "Fly?"

Scorpius looks back to the castle. "I have an idea," he announces. "I'll be right back." He turns and runs back down the path.

"Are you crazy?" Parker yells after him.

"I will go," X says, stopping Parker and following Scorpius.

"What's going on over there?" Meg yells from the other side of the lake.

She's standing on the shore, straining her eyes to see across in any detail. She and the ghost came out to investigate after the first clock chime, and watched the dock collapse.

He's beside her now, ringing his hands, and repeating, "Oh, dear."

"Hush," Meg tells him.

"But they were supposed to wait here," he says, hovering just above where the dock isn't anymore.

"Well, they didn't," Meg says. "Now, if you've got something useful to contribute, let's have it, and otherwise, shut up." She turns her attention back to the group on the other side of the lake. "Parker? Laura? Are all of you all right?"

"We're fine. Amy is, too," Parker yells. "Stuck, but Scorpius has an idea. We'll get back to you!"

Scorpius ignores both the ballroom and the corridor in favor of opening the storage cupboard. Brooms, brooms, where are the -- ah. There are three, which he grabs from in amidst the mops.


The room shakes slightly and one of the candelabra falls into the tapestry behind it.

"We are leaving," X says. "Now."

Scorpius manages to keep hold of the brooms as X propels him out the door.

"The castle is on fire," X tells the others. "It is better not to go back."

Scorpius drops the brooms on the shore, pulls out his wand, and begins casting spells.

"Brooms? You went back for brooms?" Bruce asks.

"We're going to fly out," Scorpius says. He's even better than half sure it'll work!

Parker looks down at the brooms in utter confusion for a second, then grins. "Awesome."

"Right," Scorpius says, setting the brooms in a line on the ground. He holds his hand out over the closest one and orders it, "Up!" The broom jumps promptly to his hand, and he almost sighs in relief. The spell should be working, then. It's not fancy or sophisticated -- no one could use one of these brooms to pursue a Snitch -- but it should be enough to get them across the lake and through the woods.

He hastily gives instructions in Basic Broom Flight and then assigns Bruce and Amy to one broom, and X and Parker to another. The most complicated part of this is going to be collecting Meg on the way out, and as the only person here who has ever flown a broom before, he keeps that job for himself.


Behind them, there's a massive shattering of glass as the fire blows out the windows in the ballroom.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Parker says, "welcome to Air Ambergeldar, with nonstop service out of here."

On the other side of the lake, Meg has been trying to follow the activity of her friends with rather limited success. And now . . .

"What on Earth?"

Three things come zooming across the lake at her, above the surface of the whirling water. It takes her a moment to work out what exactly she's seeing, and another two to believe it.


With a groan and then a crash, one of the trees at the edge of the woods falls toward them, crushing the little building by the lake.

"Hang on," Scorpius calls. "I'm coming to get you."

There are other crashes coming from the forest now as trees fall into each other, followed by the eerie metallic clangs and twangs from their leaves.

"It is better to be quick," X advises.

Right. No time to stop, then, or land. Scorpius steers his broom away from the others, diving a bit and then leveling out just above the ground. He's never tried to pull someone onto a moving broom before, but years of Quidditch mean that he's good on a broom, that he can see how this is going to work even before he does it.

He simply sweeps Meg onto the broom in front of him, and she simply lets him (which is good, because if she hadn't, she could have upset the whole metaphorical apple cart).

"Are you all right?" Scorpius asks, directing the broom back up to join the others.

"I think so. Thank you."

Behind them, the ghost is yelling something about requisition forms and incident reports and running along after them, through the air.

Meg turns, and more importantly leans a bit to look at him and the broom shifts a bit to the side. "Er--don't-- try to just hold still," Scorpius says, correcting their course.

"Sorry," Meg says.


"How many of those do you think we get?" Parker asks. "The chimes?"

"Twelve, probably," Amy says. "Traditionally, spells break at midnight, and everything goes back to the way it was."

"I don't think we want to be here when that happens," Bruce says.

"How many do we have left?" Parker asks.

X and Meg answer at the same time. "Five."



Amy looks down at the crumbling forest before them, stretching as far as the eye can see. "I don't remember the way out." She doesn't think she ever actually knew it.

"I got it," Bruce says. He detonates the the small black devices he attached to the trunks of trees at regular intervals as they'd made their way through the woods.

Just off to their left, there's an explosion, and flames rise from one of the tree trunks. A second later, further on, there's another explosion, and then another, and another, like beacons on hills, until there's a bright path of burning trees leading back to Amber.

"Oh, that is better than breadcrumbs," Amy says, delighted.


The first of the marked trees stands on the edge of the clearing with the large, moving tree in the middle of it. On the plus side, the explosion seems to have taken out most of the biting leaves. The tree itself, however, has abandoned any pretense of allure, and reaches its branches out toward the brooms.

"Climb!" Scorpius yells, directing his own broom further up and out of the tree's reach, and hoping that the spells on the brooms hold.

They stay high, above the tree tops, flying as quickly as the brooms (and their pilots) can manage. Below them, trees continue topple as the spell breaks ever further down.


There are three burning trees left before them when the bird flies up and across their path. It circles X and Parker's broom, with a click-whirr of its wings.

"Go on, shoo," Parker says, reaching out to swat it away.

X maneuvers the broom away from the bird, coaxing just the tiniest bit more speed out of it. The bird clicks its beak twice, and follows them.


"That's eleven!" Meg says.

"And that's the stairs," Bruce adds, as they're coming up on the last of the marked trees. It has, in fact, fallen across the path, either from the explosion or part of the general collapse. This, handily, has created an opening in the trees that they can descended through, with minimal being whipped in the face with tree branches.

"Take point," X tells Bruce, veering to avoid the bird again. "I will take rear guard."

Bruce and Amy descend through the trees and head up the stairs, followed closely by Scorpius and Meg (who are, in turn, followed by the ghost, still ringing his hands and muttering about paperwork).

"Let's blow this popsicle stand," Parker says, as she and X bring up the rear. They fly down through the trees and up the stairs, crossing the threshold of the trapdoor a split second ahead of the final, distant BONG.

The bird, still following them, explodes in a shower of gears and cogs and springs, and the trap door has vanished before they hit the floor.

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