Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Rew, Oct 26, 2012.
I stand by my choice.
You must really dislike flash photography.
Quest 1 - Wormtail
You are now Ginny Weasley.
You feel Cormac's eyes upon you, as well as those of your two Muggle friends, and you know they're trusting you to make the call.
Your heart aches for Harry--and even more so now because you know you've already made your decision. Sure, you fear for Harry's safety, but you've grown rather accustomed to that particular fear. As the Chosen One always in the forefront of the fight against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, you know that danger stalks him at every turn.
Just as you also know that nothing has yet to overcome the Boy Who Lived.
Meanwhile, if there is a chance, even the slightest chance, that Peeta is right and Colin Creevey still lives, you must go on. The thought of returning to Harry, Hermione, and your brothers--based on little more than rumors and wild speculation--and without making absolutely sure of Colin's fate, is not one you want to contemplate. Especially if it means the difference between life and death for poor Colin.
You look to your three companions and smile sadly. "A pity. And to think we were so close to getting out of this place." You look back toward the Cornucopia. "We still have a lead we must follow."
Katniss steps forward and places a confident hand on your shoulder. "I think you've made the right decision, Ginny." She lowers her eyes a bit. "And even if we don't find anything down there about your friend, we can at least sabotage these Games enough to release all the remaining Tributes."
"But if we're going to do anything," adds Cormac, "we're going to have to do something about those mutts first."
You suppress a shudder as the four of you march slowly back toward the boundary of your protective enchantments. This is the part that you're dreading the most by far. But if you're going to breach the area underneath the Cornucopia, then the muttations will have to be eliminated.
You have no idea if any part of Colin or Rue still live within those awful creatures, but even if they do, it would only be an act of mercy to free them and grant them the eternal rest that currently eludes them.
You don't see them out there, but you know they're there. Taking out your wand again, you motion to Cormac to do the same and notice that Katniss already has her bow in position.
"We'll split up," you say. "Cormac and I will take care of... of... Rue's mutt. Katniss, you and Peeta, please go after Colin's." Regardless of your justifications, you can't bear to be the one to kill Colin's beast--just as you know Katniss and Peeta could never bring themselves to destroy Rue all over again.
Leaving the shelter of your enchantments, the four of you dart out into the open night, you and Cormac branching off left while the Muggles go right. You're barely out there a full minute before you hear the uncanny snarling and see a dark form heading your way.
It is with some relief that you see you've attracted the attention of the Rue mutt. Focusing all your concentration and power into your wand, you let loose a tremendous blast of paralyzing energy, holding the monster in place--and being sure to avoid her pain-ridden eyes. You knew Rue, however briefly, having met her during your hunt for Tom Riddle's diary. As such, you'll let Cormac land the killing blow.
He utters the Killing Curse, and the mutt collapses into an unmoving heap on the ground. Hardly daring to trust your eyes, you move carefully forward, but Cormac beats you to it, checking its vitals.
"Dead," is all he says, and you find yourself sagging in relief. For all the good Stunning Spells seem to do to these things, at least Avada Kedavra works.
"Come on," you say, "let's check on the others."
You both jog down a hillside, and in the moonlit shadow of the Cornucopia, you see Peeta attracting the attention of the other mutt, his knife glinting in the starlight. Behind and a little to the side of the creature, Katniss stalks forward, her Muggle weapon primed and ready for the attack.
You and Cormac dart in a little closer to the fray when you hear the signature whoosh of an arrow taking flight from her bow. The first finds its mark in the beast's rib cage, and a second one promptly finds its way into the side of its neck.
But still, the beast won't go down. Instead, it lets out a scream--an all too human scream. The muttation is screaming blood-curdling agony in Colin Creevey's voice! Katniss frantically notches a third arrow, but her hurry and distress causes her mark to go uncharacteristically astray, and the arrow misses completely. Colin's mutt continues to shriek unrelentingly.
Unable to bear it anymore, you don't even think. Raising your wands, you and Cormac bellow "AVADA KEDAVRA!" in unison, both of your bright green bolts blasting the creature high into the night air. It skids some twenty yards through the grass before finally coming to rest. It never moves again.
Feeling literally sick to your stomach, you drop to one knee, your wand lazily dragging against the grass.
"Ginny! Cormac!" You hear Katniss running up to you two. "I'm so sorry! I just--"
"It's alright," Cormac reassures her despite the tightness still in his voice. "Forget it. That thing was just nastier than we expected."
Refusing to shed any more tears, you allow Peeta to help you back to your feet. "We need to figure out a way inside now," you say hollowly, as if getting down to business will help quell the memories of this so far horrific night.
"Down by the lake, not too far from here, the Careers were keeping a makeshift base full of supplies," Peeta puts in. "I saw another Tribute--I don't know her name, we just call her 'Foxface'--doing a strange, acrobatic sort of dance in the area while going in and stealing a little bit of food."
"So what do you propose?" Cormac asks, and not without a considerable degree of snark. "Should we nick some bananas and use them as shovels to dig underground?"
"Um, hello?" cuts in Katniss, "Did you miss the part where she had to step in a very particular fashion while sneaking in?"
His confusion only grows. "So this foxy girl fancies a dance before she eats? You Muggles have had stranger customs."
"Land mines," Peeta says simply. "The whole area is booby trapped with explosive mines. You step on one, and there won't be any pieces of you left to bury."
You examine the area around the Cornucopia. "Using a combination of those Muggle mines, and our own magic spells, we should be able to penetrate deep enough into the place where the Gamemakers are pulling their awful strings."
"We'll still need as many mines as we can manage."
"We'd best get going then," you suggest.
Thankfully, the Careers are gone from their base by the lake, but they've left a lookout: a scrawny, ashen-skinned boy considerably younger than the four he's working with, clutching a spear similar to the one wielded by Marvel but with much less steady hands.
"That's the boy from District Three," Katniss explains. "I don't know his name. But his district specializes in factories and technology. I'm willing to bet that he's the one who's wired the land mines and is only being kept alive by the Careers because of his savviness with the machinery."
"He looks scared out of his wits," you remark.
"Are you sure he'll help us transport all those mines to the Cornucopia?" asks Peeta.
Katniss replies, "I don't see any other way, do you?"
"I don't. Let's talk to him then." Putting some swagger back into his step, Cormac walks out to the boy, the rest of you following. "Hey there, short stuff!"
He immediately raises his spear. "Who are you?" He's bewildered by the sight of not only Katniss and Peeta, whom he recognizes, but especially by you and Cormac, whom he certainly does not.
"It's alright," you say, putting as much warmth and concern in your voice as you can. (It's not hard, given the circumstances.) "We need your help."
"Oh, right," he says with a sneer. "I help you, and then the Careers find out and snap my neck. No thanks." His fingers clutch the spear tighter, but you see them trembling.
"We haven't even told you what we're up to yet," Katniss tells him. He says nothing, so she goes on in a conspiratorial whisper. "We know where the Gamemakers' Control Room is, where their base of operations is." She points back to the Cornucopia. "It's right under there. Deep underground. We have to get in."
She looks him dead in the eye and waits until he does the same. "We know you're the munitions expert here. If you help us blow an opening into the Control Room, we can end these Games here and now. No more fighting. No more dying. You can be free of the Careers for good."
"A likely story!" he squeaks, but you sense that his sudden anger is masking a newfound hope he doesn't dare let take root. "How do I know I can trust you? Any of you?"
"Unfortunately, you can't," Peeta says matter-of-factly. "That's the nature of the Hunger Games--you can't trust anyone. But you can choose. Who are you going to take your chances with? Cato, Marvel and them, whom you know for a fact will kill you as soon as your usefulness is up? Or the four of us who are here offering you a way out? A way home?"
"They'll find out, you know," he replies miserably, but he lowers his spear anyway. "I don't think the five of us will be a match for them when they do."
At this, you and your companions actually find yourselves grinning. You and Cormac show him your wands, letting just a few sparks dance on the tips.
"Oh, I daresay we can hold our own," Cormac remarks nonchalantly. The boy looks on, dumbfounded. It's time for a small demonstration.
---The first signs of a deep purple dawn are beginning to show on the horizon, some hours later, once your team is finished packing in the land mines at the base of the Cornucopia.
Your newest companion wipes the sweat from his brow. "That's the last of them," he announces. A small Shield Charm encloses your group and the great metal horn, a radius just small enough to fit the five of you in, along with the horn itself and the spot of ground where the mines jut up from below. You've also cast a Muffling Charm over the place so as not to destroy your eardrums when the explosives detonate.
Standing with your backs against the boundary, you and Cormac now focus a Hover Charm on the Cornucopia itself, trying to dislodge it from its base in order to tip it over on top of the land mines.
You strain and grunt, pouring as much focus as you can, but the huge golden metal structure doesn't give way. You hear several loud popping cracks where parts of the foundation is starting to go, and you see it starting to list over diagonally a smidge. But it's no use.
"Wait," Peeta calls out, "let me help." He's already moving up behind the Cornucopia, preparing to push.
You shake your head. "It's too dangerous. We won't let you get blown up along with the Cornucopia."
"This spot is close enough to the boundary. I can make it out before the horn makes contact with the explosives." You see an intensity in his eyes you haven't yet seen from him. "Let me have this chance. We've only got one shot to hit the Gamemakers where it hurts."
You look to Katniss and see her pained expression. But she realizes, as you do too, that this is the only way. "The moment I say 'run,'" she urges him, "you run. You understand me?"
Your wands blazing with power again, the Cornucopia remains stubborn. But then Peeta gets up behind it and pushes the megalith, his face contorting from the exertion. Slowly, ponderously, the great metallic structure finally gives way and topples gracelessly over.
"RUN!!!" comes the shout from seemingly every voice at once as you and Cormac dive past the boundary behind you, and you see Katniss tackling Peeta, the two of them landing just outside the doomed space.
The sight that greets the five of you next is surreal. Purple shadows dance across the dark scenery in the predawn hour, interrupted only in the center of the Arena, which illuminates the entire biosphere with an incandescent light as eerily silent as if it were happening in a dream.
But your protective spell's power is quickly overwhelmed and begins to crumble apart in large, orange flakes, allowing billowing columns of flame to erupt outward, adding distant booms to the once quiet landscape. But it takes so much destructive energy to overload the enchantments that it's easy enough for you take cover from the weakened remnants of the explosions that actually do make it past the barrier.
Using magic to control the worst of the outburst, your group cautiously moves forward to examine your handiwork. You arrive in time to see the molten slag heap that was the Cornucopia, that monument to child slaughter in both Muggle and wizarding realms, catch on one side of the massive hole that's been created, before sliding forward and down, quickly gathering speed, and finally falling out of sight and landing with a thunderclap of a crash in the abyss far below.
You look down into a massive crater, lined with flames all the way down. You can just make out the bottom where what's left of the Cornucopia lies in pieces.
Cormac comes up alongside you. "So what is it they call you around here, Everdeen? What's that moniker of yours?"
"You mean, 'girl on fire'?" says the boy from District 3.
"Yeah, that's it," Cormac responds, a mischievous glint in his eyes--one that you now share once you catch on to his idea. "Katniss Everdeen, once again the girl on fire!"
Katniss looks at you two, comprehension dawning. "Oh, you have got to be kidding me. Not again!"
Should you:A.) Go in before Katniss?orB.) Go in after Katniss?
Quest 1 - Wormtail
Dead End 7 (Answer A).
You are Ginny Weasley.
Taking a deep breath, you and Cormac both dive into the controlled inferno together.
You immediately realize the problem just as soon as the sensation of heated free fall envelopes your senses--the blaze is too much. You're not able to concentrate on keeping the flames at bay while at the same time controlling your fall or cushioning the upcoming impact with the floor below.
You soften your landing enough so it doesn't kill you right away, but you howl from the pain of the landing. Your injuries are excruciating, but you have little time to dwell on them as the fiery avalanche of the maelstrom above you finally comes crashing down on your and Cormac's bodies.
With you and Cormac McLaggen crushed and your Muggle allies cut off from the Control Room, the Rebellion is at an end!
The story continues with Answer B leading to Scene 8 this weekend.
Quest 1 - Wormtail
You are Ginny Weasley.Slowly, and wreathed in flame, Katniss Everdeen descends into the den of the Gamemakers, a fiery goddess of destruction heralding the end of an era of Muggle-inflicted tyranny. You and Cormac carefully Levitate yourselves down after her.
Upon landing in what was once likely an immaculately blue-tinted room, you see chaos reigning. The Control Room is ringed by what were up until a moment ago two concentric rows of two semi-circles each, descending from the outer perimeter of the room into a depression in the center. At least two of the four total semi-circles now lie in ruins, the Cornucopia smashed on top of them.
Miniature fires are breaking out, and Gamemakers are either fleeing toward the exit in the back, hiding, or crying out for help. Some are already dead.
You realize that this room is too valuable to be destroyed completely. So while Cormac Levitates the other two down, you pour forth cold, pure water onto the flames, extinguishing as much as you can with Aguamenti Charms. Thankfully, it's easier in this mechanical environment than it was in the forest earlier.
By the time you're all together, the damage contained, and you've either freed, healed, or eased the passing of the remaining Gamemakers, the Control Room is empty save you five.
"We need to find Seneca Crane," Katniss announces. "He's the Head Gamemaker." At the look of confusion on Cormac's face, she elaborates: "Basically, the only guy not in white. He also wears a ridiculous beard."
You step out into the adjoining corridor, and the labyrinth of branching hallways is bewildering. "How?" You gaze back at the machines in the Control Room, about half of which appear to still be operational. You know that you and Cormac will be well out of your league with those things. The dumbfounded looks on both the faces of Katniss and Peeta tell you that their lives spent in the backwoods of their district have left them similarly helpless when it comes to Muggle technology.
"Leave that to me," your new friend from District 3 says with a grin.
He finds a console, sits down, and immediately gets to work, fingers dancing across what looks to you like a meaningless array of buttons. Images flash across the screen, and his hands are immediately at work, manipulating each in turn, sometimes resizing, sometimes searching, sometimes causing to disappear and reappear in different variations. Your jaw drops as you watch the Muggle equivalent of magic working right before your very eyes. Even Katniss and Peeta look impressed by what they see.
"Wait until my father hears about this," you mumble, awestruck.
"Capitol technology," the boy heaves a world weary sigh. He sounds almost disappointed by the lack of challenge he's finding so far. "It's pathetically easy to get past their security systems." Shaking his head, he continues his mechanical artistry.
"Well, hurray for the boy from District Three," you hear Katniss mutter, patting him on the back appreciatively. The boy, heedless, plunges ever deeper into the computer's store of secrets.
After a while, you can see Cormac beginning to squirm in impatience when the Muggle boy suddenly hollers in triumph.
"What is it?" you ask.
"There he is. That's Seneca Crane." He first brings up a map, filled with so many rooms and corridors it almost makes Hogwarts look like Hagrid's hut. Then focusing in on one of the rooms, seemingly at random, he zooms in, and you see a moving picture of two men.
One is dressed finely in a long-sleeved red overshirt with a black top. His hair is raven, parted down the middle. He has sharp blue eyes, an aristocratic nose, and as Katniss pointed out, his most defining feature is his close-cropped beard, which he wears with swirls that thrust out onto his face and is pointed underneath his nose.
You barely notice him.
For you're too busy studying the man speaking with him--a man you would recognize anywhere. He wears the same all-white uniform as the rest of the Gamemakers, but you know he's no common worker, much as the disguise may suggest. He's a withered man of middle age, with balding, unkempt reddish hair, crooked teeth, a big nose, watery eyes--and one hand covered in a silver gauntlet.
Cormac notices him too. "Bloody hell," he gasps. "What's he doing here!?"
"I told you," Katniss says, misunderstanding the question. "That's the Head Gamemaker. He's the one behind this whole operation." You know she means Seneca Crane, but you're not so sure Crane's really the one calling the shots anymore.
"No," he tells her. "The other guy. We recognize him. He's a Dark wizard."
"It's like I told you above ground, Cormac," you remind him. "Someone had to know we were here, knew who we are and what we're here for. Now it all makes sense."
You lean back in your seat and put a weary hand to your head--you feel the beginnings of a headache coming on already.
Peter Pettigrew. The one they call Wormtail. You once knew him as Scabbers, Ron's pet rat--and you dearly regret not kicking the creature out of a high window at the Burrow when you had the chance.
It's not lost on you the pain caused by this one man. He was once the friend and confidante of Harry's parents, especially his father. They trusted him. And their trust was met with betrayal--and murder.
The loss of his parents, that one event that, though he was too young to remember them, served to focus so many griefs in Harry's life. Growing up without their love and guidance, he was instead forced to live in the oppressive household of his horrible aunt and uncle. And if even half the stories Harry tells about the Dursleys are true, you have a mind to find them and give them a real reason to fear magic.
It was Wormtail's cowardly betrayal that became the crucible through which the bulk of Harry's hardships have come. But his crimes don't stop there.
It was also Wormtail who is solely responsible for the bodily return of the Dark Lord himself. All the griefs of the previous war, the loss of Dumbledore, as well as this current conflict, the institution of the so-called Potter Games, the likely death of Colin Creevey--all of it can be traced straight back to Wormtail.
And for what? All because he lacked a backbone, because he was so unlike the ones who had called him friend.
Never has there been a person less worthy of the House of Gryffindor.
You get up, clutching your wand tightly. "We have to find him," you announce through gritted teeth.
"Then you'd better hurry," says the District 3 boy. "They're both leaving their conference room now." You seem them departing in opposite directions, Crane toward the north, Wormtail going southward.
Katniss stands too. "No offense, but I think we should focus on Seneca Crane."
"Now listen Everdeen, I'm not exactly saying that Crane's a nice bloke," Cormac cuts in. "But you don't know how dangerous a Death Eater can be running around in a place like this."
"He's right," you agree. "We have to apprehend him. Wormtail is the more dangerous of the two, and he must know what's happened to Colin Creevey."
Peeta joins the discussion. "But Seneca is the key. He's the one who has all the data, the intel. He knows how this place operates, and he's in President Snow's confidence. If we're serious about shutting down the Games for good and making good on our promise to free the remaining Tributes, we can't let him slip away."
"But it won't matter what information or influence he has if Wormtail is the one pulling the strings!" Cormac interjects.
"And what if Seneca goes crawling back to President Snow while we're chasing that Worm-guy?" comes Katniss's heated voice. "With all the information he has on him, do you really want to think what that would be worth in Snow's hands? What do you think will happen to all the Tributes who are left above ground?!"
"Or..." the computer boy interrupts, sounding as if the solution is patently obvious, "you could just, I don't know, split up?" While you've been arguing, he's apparently been tinkering.
Going up first to Katniss, then to Peeta, he slaps a mechanical band on their wrists. "I'll use this to keep in touch." You come over to Katniss's side, where he demonstrates the technological capacity of the gadget. It comes equipped with a miniature map-like function, a smaller version of what you've seen on these computers. He presses another button, and a likeness of his own face shows up on Katniss's watch, at the same time that Katniss's shows up on his screen. "Say hi," he says.
"Katniss, you're with me," you say. "Peeta, you go with Cormac."
"And we'll be going after...?" Katniss quirks an eyebrow at you.
Should you:A.) Go after Wormtail and let the boys pursue Seneca Crane?orB.) Go after Seneca Crane and let the boys pursue Wormtail?
Quest 1 - Wormtail
Dead End 8 (Answer B).
You are Ginny Weasley.
"Good," Katniss replies to your decision to pursue Seneca Crane. You can tell she was hoping you'd say that.
Exploring the whitened corridors beneath the Arena, Crane has a good lead on you, but with some ingenuity on Katniss's part, you're able to find him soon enough. His back to you, oblivious, you see Katniss equipping her bow--and you put out a hand to stop her.
The glare she gives you is mutinous, but you mouth the words, Let's follow him.
The minutes you spend tailing him feel like hours, until finally he boards a very strange sort of vehicle--not at all like your father's old Ford Anglia or even the Hogwarts Express. It's sleeker and looks like it's meant to fly by Muggle means. "Hovercraft," Katniss whispers in your ear, pointing at it. It takes all of your magical skill and her hunting abilities to board after him undetected before the thing takes off. You hide yourselves quietly, hardly daring to breathe.
At length, the hovercraft lands, and Crane debarks, the two of you following stealthily behind. Curiously, you note that you've arrived in a rose garden, a very horribly smelling rose garden come to think of it.
You're just now recognizing the smell--blood!--when a voice from behind startles you: "Good morning, girls. My, you've wandered far, haven't you?"
Turning around, you're greeted by the sight of a man who looks like he could best be described as Father Christmas's cunning, malicious twin. "President Snow!" Katniss yelps. You swallow.
"You know, Seneca," the old man addresses Crane conversationally, who now comes alongside his master, a self-sure grin on his oddly bearded features, "I was beginning to have my doubts about you. But it was a true masterstroke to deliver to me not only District Twelve's vaunted 'girl on fire' but also her mysterious little ally." His eyes glint as he takes you in. "You'll be well rewarded."
In the clutches of President Snow and his lackey Seneca Crane, you can't get back to the others. The Rebellion is at an end!
The story continues with Answer A leading to Scene 9 this weekend.
Quest 1 - Wormtail
You are Ginny Weasley.You admit that you're slightly surprised when Katniss nods her head and offers no objections to targeting Wormtail. This is perhaps due in part to the fact that Cormac and Peeta are already rushing out into the corridor in pursuit of Seneca Crane.
You turn toward your newest ally. "Are you going to be alright here, by yourself?"
"Yup." He barely notices you, so entranced in his technological wizardry is he. (You are managing to keep an eye on the blip on the computer screen indicating Wormtail's position, though.)
"Are you sure?" Katniss asks him.
"Yes, I'm fine." He sounds almost exasperated with your distracting questions. "Someone's got to stay behind and blind the rest of the security system to your movements, right?"
"That's quite brave of you," you remark uncertainly. You mean what you've said, but you still don't like leaving him here by himself, defenseless save for that spear he still has, which he barely knows how to hold properly. "Listen, I--"
"I don't think you get it," he interrupts, finally turning away from the screen to face you directly. "I have to do this. This is our one chance to actually do something that'll hurt the Capitol. This could be our only chance to take down the Games for good.
"You have to believe I'm going to do everything I can to make the most of this chance," he continues, a distant look coming to his eyes. "I have to. I owe that much to Amber at least."
"Amber?" you ask.
But Katniss answers. "She was your partner from District Three, wasn't she?"
He nods, a lump forming in his throat.
The whole thing is just unfair. Two innocents swiped from their homes, Amber and... you feel the heat of shame rising into your face as you realize that in all your running around so far, none of you have bothered to learn this boy's name yet.
"And what's your name?" you ask him.
"Amber and Ambrose," Katniss remarks, and you see your confusion mirrored in her face. "Even in the same district, that's a pretty big coincidence for two Tributes to have such similar names."
"Normally it is," Ambrose says. "But not when you're brother and sister."
Katniss just stands there, speechless. "Oh no," is all you can manage in a low whisper.
Tears fill his eyes as he continues. "The economy in District Three was booming, but not in every neighborhood. Our community was particularly hard hit by a sudden recession. Amber and I had to put our names in an obscene number of times just so our family could eat. And then we were reaped, her first, then me right after." He looks meaningfully at Katniss. There had been no one to volunteer in either of their places.
"I think she was the first one to die this year," he continues. "In the bloodbath. Her face was the first that was shown in the sky later that night."
Suddenly he turns back to his computer. "You have to go. Your target's going to be off the radar soon. Katniss, stay in contact with me. No matter where he goes, I'll make sure all the doors are open for you."
You want to say something to him, anything to help assuage the grief, but you realize that any words of consolation would only come across trite, even insulting. The way he's so suddenly returned to his work suggests that, for him, this conversation is over anyway. He won't be overcome--he's determined to put his grief to good use.
"Ambrose, thank you," you say. Katniss says the same, then pulls gently at your arm, and together the two of you race off into the gleaming white corridor beyond.
At once, you're greeted by a network of hallways spinning off from the one in which you find yourself, and you're just able to descry an ending to your present corridor on the horizon.
"Talk to me, Ambrose," Katniss says into her wrist piece.
You see a tiny, transparent, blue-tinted replication of his head appear on her wrist, which answers, "Third corridor off to the left. Keep following it until you come to the fourth right." As he continues to relay directions, you try not to gawk at how strange a sight this is, Katniss talking to a miniature specter affixed to her arm.
Thinking about it, you suppose it's not too different from wizards and witches who use enchanted crystal balls to communicate with each other.
"Alright, head into that door there. I'm taking you on a shortcut," announces Ambrose's small voice. "If you're fast, you can cut him off."
You pull out your wand as you and Katniss sprint through a small glass corridor, which runs through and overlooks a much larger room. You think you see a plethora of vats filled with a ghastly colored liquid, but really, you try not to look. You just run.
Coming out into an adjoining hallway, you see Wormtail coming your way at a brisk pace. You aim and shout, "Stupefy!"
He's caught off guard, but only momentarily. Dodging your Stunning Spell, he extracts his own wand and retaliates with hexes in kind.
You fire spells and jinxes, but he either sidesteps or blocks them. You take cover to avoid his hail of bolts, getting in what shots you can in the meantime.
Still preoccupied with you, Katniss equips her bow and steps out, firing an arrow with her customary precision straight for his shoulder.
But Wormtail quickly Transfigures the projectile into sand, which sprays harmlessly against and off of him. Katniss is then barely able to evade a green Killing Curse sent her way, scurrying for cover behind the corner where you've taken refuge, sweat trickling down her forehead.
"You know," she comments, "I think I liked it better when all the magic people were on my side."
"Welcome to the club!" you say, furiously firing a string of Full Body-Bind Curses in quick succession, and just ducking out of the way as a flurry of curses blister the wall that's shielding you. Wormtail takes the opportunity to retreat down a new hallway.
Undaunted, you and Katniss give chase.
"Can you beat him?" she asks you.
"If Cormac were here, I don't think it'd be much of a problem for both of us to overpower him together. On my own, though, we're more of an even match.
"Wormtail is isn't very skilled nor particularly clever. At heart, he's a coward, but he's good at taking advantages of whatever opportunities he can find. Being older, he also has a lot more experience with magic than I do--and most dangerously of all, he's worked a long time directly with You-Know-Who."
Katniss wrinkles her brow as the two of you run. "No, I don't know. Who?"
"Oh, erm," you stammer. "Our great enemy. The Dark Lord."
"You mean Voldemort, right?" Katniss remarks, still confused.
You're not able to keep your eyes from squeezing shut in a reactionary grimace at the casual mention of the name that has haunted your and so many other wizards' most terrifying nightmares since childhood. "Yes. Him." You chide yourself for your irrational fear of that name--Harry and many others can utter it without blinking.
Rounding a corner, you catch Wormtail in a moment of indecision, and the battle is rejoined. But the result is roughly the same as before.
"You alright?" you ask Katniss, briefly examining the burn wound on her collar bone, but she waves you off.
"I'm fine," she says. "I've suffered worse. Come on."
You pursue Wormtail down a long corridor now, and it seems this time he's more intent just on fleeing as fast as he can. You send spells focused on distracting him, hitting nearby objects in front of and to the side of him, but he's proving surprisingly nimble.
You hear a noise a little ahead, and right before Wormtail reaches a small entryway into a narrower corridor, a huge computer console comes flying out of it and directly into his path, bringing him up momentarily short. Immediately afterward, another console of the same size is launched out of the entryway, banging against the other--and thus forming a complete roadblock.
Before either he or your pair can make sense of the new development, you hear a familiar voice utter, "Expelliarmus!" as Wormtail's wand goes soaring out of his hand, ricocheting off the wall in your general direction; you catch it with a Seeker's grace that impresses even Cormac McLaggen, who now swaggers into the hallway, Peeta Mellark following more cautiously behind.
"Katniss!" the latter exclaims, running over to her and wrapping her up in a hug, his arms apparently none the worse for the wear of having just hurled two machines nearly as large as his whole body.
"Peeta," she replies, breathless. "I'm okay." Giving herself over fully to his embrace, she soon disengages and continues, "But what about Seneca Crane?"
"We got him," he says simply.
She looks around. "Um, where?"
"Under an Imperius Curse, darling," Cormac answers. "He's now completely under our control and will be keeping techno boy back there some much needed company."
Ambrose's voice sounds from Peeta's wrist. "Confirm. Seneca's already here. And brainwashed or not, he sucks at computers."
"Well, did you get the data discs from him?" Katniss asks urgently.
"Oh yes! There's some good stuff in here." He sounds as giddy as a Hogwarts first year who's just discovered Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes for the first time. "It'll take me a while to go through all of it, though."
"Take your time."
Your eyes catch an all-too-familiar rat scurrying over Peeta's makeshift roadblock and away from your group at the same time that Katniss raises her bow to fire at it. Pushing the Muggle weapon gently aside, you take your wand and aim a Hover Charm at the creature, its tiny limbs flailing desperately as you Levitate it into the air.
"A word of warning, 'Scabbers,'" you address the vermin. "Standing next to me is Katniss Everdeen, a Muggle whose skill with a bow and arrow rivals that of most wizards with their own wands and is nearly magical in and of itself. Growing up in an environment where food is scarce, she has trained herself on the weapon from a young age and is particularly good at hunting fast-moving, four-legged animals."
His limbs far more compliant now, you deposit him on the floor at your feet. Katniss and Peeta instinctively recoil as the rat morphs back into his human form. "What do you want with me?!" Wormtail asks, his fingers nervously going toward his mouth.
You roll your eyes. "Please, can we skip to the part where you stop playing dumb with us? You know why we're here. You know who we're here for."
He nods his head briskly. "Yes, Colin Creevey. Yes. Very nice boy he is."
You stretch your wand out in his direction, and Cormac follows suit. "You're going to lead us to him--now." You put steel in your voice. "And you'd better pray we find him alive."
"Of course, of course!" he stammers. "I would never harm Creevey. I actually like Colin quite a lot."
You feel the heat rising to your face. "You liked the Potters a lot too, once."
Just as Wormtail is forming a reply, Cormac steps in. "Well, if we're done jabbering, perhaps we can get underway?" He gestures to Wormtail to take the lead and smiles. "Age before beauty!"
---At the end of easily the broadest corridor in the Arena's catacombs, you see a large wall decorated with the insignia of the Muggle nation Panem's Capitol. To the right and left of you are two massive doors, ostensibly locked down tight were it not for your ally in the Control Room.
"The left," Wormtail says. "Colin is inside the left door." Your group is hardly convinced.
Peeta activates his wrist piece. "Alright Ambrose, what are you showing behind both of these doors?"
"Well, there's nothing behind the door to your right," he says. "I mean, there's literally nothing. Could mean it's just off the radar. Could mean it's outdoors or even outside the bounds of the Arena entirely. There's absolutely no data."
"Could also be an entirely top-secret wing of the compound," Katniss mutters.
"That's possible," Ambrose admits.
"And the left door?" you say, a bit too forcefully.
"Quite a lot, actually. That area is filled with lots of little rooms, all adjoined by one main access hall. Could be holding cells. Could be storage rooms. Even suites. Hard to tell."
"Any life sign readings?" Katniss asks.
There's a pause. "No. I've got nothing."
You don't even think. Suddenly you just find yourself grabbing Wormtail with both hands by his collar, a man nearly twice your size, and slamming him up against the Capitol-emblazoned wall. "WHAT DID YOU DO WITH HIM!?" you shout. "What are we going to find on the other side of that door? Tell us, Wormtail. Now! Tell us what you did to him!"
His eyes widened in terror, he squeaks, "He's there! Behind the left door! I swear, I can explain. He's my only friend! Please, let me just go in..."
You release your right hand only long enough to grab your wand, which you promptly press tight against his taut neck. "You will lead us inside one of these two doors, Peter Pettigrew, a door of our choosing. And inside one of them, Colin Creevey had better be waiting for us. And if he is in any condition other than alive and in very good health, then I will personally see to it that your awful cowardice never kills another human being ever again--except maybe yourself."
You keep your gaze locked on his fearfully wandering eyes, your grip unslacking and your wand pressing ever harder into his flesh. "Ginny," Katniss goes to gently lower your wand arm. You keep it up anyway.
"Ginny," she tries again more firmly, and this time you relent.
The Death Eater topples whimpering onto his hands and knees, his entire body trembling. Ignoring him, you step back, examining both doors and weighing your team's options.
Should you:A.) Go through the door on the left?orB.) Go through the door on the right?
Quest 1 - Wormtail
Dead End 9 (Answer B).
You are Ginny Weasley.
"We'll choose the door... on the right," you announce with a significant look at Wormtail--who goes pale.
"But I just told you! It's the left--"
"Ambrose, can you get the right door opened for us?" Katniss cuts the man off, speaking into her wrist piece.
"Stand by," the boy responds.
You, Cormac, Katniss, and Peeta brace, ready to spring into whatever is beyond the door before Wormtail can intervene. He makes no effort to do so, however, but merely sits back and murmurs to himself, the spite in his voice obvious. The metal suddenly slides upward into the ceiling, and the four of you bound forward--
--to find yourselves suddenly plummeting in free fall.
The door you've just entered, you realize belatedly, comes out in the Arena's sheer cliff side. You drop a whopping fifty feet toward the unrelenting sea below. Poor Cormac winds up impaled on a spike-shaped rock poking out of the waters. You and your two Muggle companions are more fortunate in that you land in the water directly, but after falling this distance, you may as well be landing on the stonework of the Hogwarts floors. You're dead before you even have a chance to drown properly.
As you and your team become fish food, the Rebellion is at an end!
The story continues with Answer A leading to Scene 10--and a flashback--this weekend.
Quest 1 - Wormtail
Flashback: You are Colin Creevey (on the eve of the Rebellion's escape from the Arena).
"Go to bed."
These were Professor Snape's last words to you, and they reverberate through your mind as you shuffle uncertainly through the ornate corridors of Hogwarts Castle back to your--er, Snape's--lodgings. You're secretly grateful there aren't many people about at this hour, given your decidedly un-Snape-like gait.
You look down at your body and don't recognize it. Your hands are much, well, older, your fingers longer. Your hair literally feels greasy, and you have to resist the urge to go for a shower. You shudder to look in a mirror--knowing you will find Snape himself looking back at you.
It would be about as surreal as your last conversation moments ago, taking orders from the same professor from within your own body, staring you down with your own eyes, and using your own voice to chastise you.
You never did care much for Polyjuice Potion, all things considered.
Arriving at Snape's quarters, you enter in relief upon seeing his ruthless protege, Draco Malfoy, already sound asleep.
An hour later, you on the other hand are still wide awake, feeling like your current predicament is even more terrifying than your previous one. At least as yourself inside the Arena, you could count on Harry Potter and other Gryffindors having your back. But now alone amongst the Death Eaters? How can you sleep knowing that this is the final night of your poor, young life?
You bolt upright suddenly as you see a mysterious shimmering of silver light in the corridor outside your room. Slipping Snape's vile boots back on, you creep forward slowly. In the corridor you find a Patronus--a doe! But whose? And why?
As soon as it sees you, it moves slowly, gracefully away, and you get the feeling it's beckoning you after it. Steeling your courage, you open the door as noiselessly as you can, close it behind you, and follow. It leads you down a number of staircases, and just before it descends into the dungeons, it then changes course, rounds a corner, and you see it no more.
Trailing it around the corner, instead of seeing the doe Patronus, you find someone else instead--the most familiar person to you ever, the one who (up until tonight) you've seen in the mirror everyday of your life. It's you, Colin Creevey--or rather it's your body. But the rigid posture and the cold, calculating eyes are not something you often, if ever, see staring back at you from any mirror.
"What're you doing here, sir?" you ask, breathless.
He looks positively bored. "I'm a hapless Tribute who's lost his way." Then he adds with a meaningful look, "And I need a Hogwarts teacher to escort me back."
But you're still confused. "Er, well, I suppose I could fetch Professor McGonagall if you--"
"Walk with me, you dim-witted simpleton," he orders with a tone of command you're pretty sure you've never heard come out of your mouth before. With a squeak, you obey.
"So what are you up to?" you can't help but ask after the two of you begin to walk. "What exactly are you going to be doing in those Games tomorrow?"
"This Rebellion will not long survive without a surplus of allies," he answers. "In point of fact, I intend to recruit allies whom none of the rest of you would otherwise be able to convince."
"Blimey sir, you don't mean the Slytherins, do you?"
He regards you coolly. "Of course, I mean the Slytherins."
"But, but--" you stammer. Isn't it obvious why they couldn't be trusted to join any Rebellion against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?
"But what, Mr. Creevey?" he interrupts. "They're too entrenched in the ways of Death Eaters? Their families were the ones who helped the Dark Lord to ascend to power in the first place? You don't think they can be trusted?"
You nod dumbly. "Something like that..."
"The Dark Lord has overstepped his bounds by including those previously most loyal to him in the Reaping--and that will prove his undoing.
"Make no mistake, Creevey, the so-called 'Careers' and their involvement are critical to this war effort. With their unique traits, their connections, their secrets, the Rebellion will have a very decided advantage with them on your side. Dumbledore himself believed as much."
You turn a corner and quietly pass a series of snoozing paintings before he continues. "The Slytherins have a part to play in this whole thing, and I assure you, their role will be vital to the cause before the end."
The two of you walk on in silence for a while longer. Soon he produces a long object concealed in thick, brown wrappings. "Take this," he says.
As you go to take it, he immediately pulls it back. "Carefully, Creevey. This is not some toy or like one of your pitiful cameras." He instinctively lowers his voice. "I have reason to believe that the object contained within these wrappings is the key to this Rebellion and will be crucial to bringing about the downfall of the Dark Lord himself."
You receive it from his hands and cradle it at a distance as if it's a poisoned snake. "Are you sure?" You've never heard Snape's voice so meek.
He looks up at you, with the confidence of one entrusted with the greatest of secrets. "It was bequeathed to me by Professor Dumbledore himself."
You gasp. "But... But... that's just the thing, though. He d-died!"
Snape nods in your body. "Do not underestimate the late headmaster, Mr. Creevey, even from beyond the grave. Nothing has happened in the wars against the Dark Lord, and I mean nothing, without Dumbledore's cunning and foresight having had a hand in it.
"I daresay that even his own death is but one step in his overall plan to bring down the Dark Lord forever."
Your oily fingers close in a little tighter around your new package.
"Now listen to me," Snape continues, his voice intense. "Between the time that we leave this point and arrive at your bedchamber, I'm going to give you instructions, Creevey. A very specific set of instructions. If you wish to emerge from the next twenty-four hours alive, you will memorize these instructions precisely, word by word, and you must follow them all exactly, down to the very letter."
Your own baby blue eyes shine with an unprecedented intensity at you, and he speaks practically through clenched teeth. "Are we understood, Colin Creevey?"
More precisely, you're not in the Arena itself but at a high point overlooking the Arena. Through powerful and dark magic, when you look up and out, instead of seeing the sky, you see scenes from the Arena, and every Tribute within.
You try not to make it look like you're focusing especially on the Creevey boy from Gryffindor, but then again, his most unexpected behavior toward the Slytherins is drawing not a little bit of attention from those around you.
Those around you, you think--and shudder.
Never before have you been in such vile company. Immediately to your right is the vicious Bellatrix Lestrange, who has been positively gleeful from the moment the Games began, hungering for bloodshed as for nourishment.
The obnoxious Carrows are off to your left, Amycus and Alecto, and every bone in your body aches at the memory of Cruciatus Curses they had students (mostly Slytherin ones) put on you before the Reaping.
And there are plenty of other Death Eaters and corrupt officials from the Ministry of Magic in front of, behind, and to every side of you. But their presence and all others would be preferable to the one you see only a few short paces in front of you.
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Here in the flesh.
You've never seen him before. Not in person.
You figured you'd be terrified out of your boots, and to be sure, you definitely are. But you find along with your paralyzing fright that you simply stare at him in profound fascination. Despite all the merrymaking, hollering, laughing, and boisterous activity of his Death Eaters, their dread master stands rooted, unmoved, the eye in the center of his own storm. He studies the Games, the Arena, seeming to perceive all twenty-four Tributes at once. He never speaks, motions, stirs, or even seems to breathe.
The Dark Lord is a picture of pure, uninhibited focus.
You have to fight to keep your hand from going inside your cloak to ensure the package Snape gave you last night is still there. That was, after all, his first instruction to you, not to give in to the temptation to fidget with it, for that would surely draw attention to the fact that you're hiding something on your person.
Instead, you continue your morbid study of the Dark wizard who has been the source of all the terrors you and your friends have endured for so many years now.
"The Dark Lord is exceedingly powerful," Snape's words come to mind from last night. "But he is also megalomaniacal, which makes him predictable."
The Games are many hours in before You-Know-Who moves for the first time. By this time, the crowd around you has reached the level of outrage. For it is clear that your fellow Tributes have not been cooperating with You-Know-Who or fighting each other. Instead, you see them banding together before your very eyes and disappearing from the Arena in various and (you think) brilliant ways.
"Even more predictable is his pet, Bellatrix Lestrange. He won't immediately be moved by the sight of rebellion in the Arena--but she in particular will lust for vengeance and even request to mete it out herself."
While those around him are on the verge of storming the Arena in a frenzy, You-Know-Who merely gestures with a long-fingered hand. "Bella, my dear?" he calls. His voice alone is enough to quell their clamor.
"Yes, my Lord?" Bellatrix coos, her awe for him as obvious as it is revolting.
"It would appear," he begins in his high, cold and unimaginably cruel voice, "that our friends have not seen fit to honor my newly inaugurated reign with this contest, which I so carefully crafted for them. How do you suggest we redress such treachery?"
"They must die!" she shrieks, her entire body shaking with rage. "They are weak, my Lord. Unable to fight each other, they scurry like rats. They have failed you, Master. If they won't kill each other, then you should be the one to do it." She licks her lips, grinning. "One by one. Painfully. Slowly. Creatively."
Then she gets this uncertain look on her face, like one about to make a request she doesn't dare hope will actually be granted. But she is earnest. "Or you could let me do it, my Lord. You know I'll not fail you!"
"But it won't do for him simply to dole out instant gratification to even his most favored pets. He has to disappoint her in order to keep her hungry. Instead, he will send out a token force that he is confident will fail."
Her master smiles, which alone causes you to freeze in horror. "Patience, dear one. And of course, I've never doubted your loyalty to our cause." A tingle you can't explain travels down your spine.
He turns back to the Arena. You see what appear to be seven Luna Lovegoods swinging their legs over six broomsticks (the seventh settling herself inside the sidecar of Hagrid's motorbike), and you know you're running out of time. It was ensured that your Polyjuice supply last longer than Snape's due to your greater need, but you know it won't be long now.
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named continues. "No, but I think a show of force is in order first. Avery? Perhaps you could assemble some of your people for a little hunt?"
"That will be your chance, Mr. Creevey."
Pouting as she leaves his side, Snape's next set of instructions are ringing through your mind. "Bellatrix," you say as curtly as you can, suppressing the urge to say good morning or something.
"Make it fast, Snape!" she snaps, too distracted to bother with eye contact (much to your relief--your hair is gradually starting to feel mousier, and cleaner).
"Please make my excuses to the Dark Lord. There were eventualities put into place in just such a case as we see now. I must see to them immediately." You feel the sweat trickling down your brow. Everything hinges on what Bellatrix says next.
"Fine, go sneaking and sniveling like you always do," she says dismissively before briskly going her own way. You think you're supposed to be offended, but you've never felt so relieved.
Leaving the enchanted barrier of the Arena, you look down at your hands and notice them looking just about entirely, familiarly, your own. Once you cross the boundary outside the Arena, you sprint toward the discarded shampoo bottle that Snape has designated as your Portkey, hidden under a small copse of bushes. You grab it and immediately feel something like a hook pulling you from behind your navel and find yourself deposited before the front gate of Hogwarts.
Now making a mad dash across the grounds, you enter the castle. Your destination is the headmaster's office where Professor Dumbledore once held sway over the school, but you don't go straight there.
Sure enough, Snape had the Gamemakers' rounds memorized perfectly, and he has led you right around leftover guards, without incident. Arriving at the stone gargoyle on the seventh floor that guards entry into the office, you find that the statue is already sitting passively off to the side, allowing you entry to the circular moving staircase beyond--without the need for a password (which is just as well, seeing how Snape never gave you one).
Entering the office itself, you find numerous spindly tables holding the odd-looking silvery instruments, undoubtedly holdovers from Professor Dumbledore's days here. There is one lone table that's empty, however, directly in the center of the room, and that's where you set your package, in plain sight--per Snape's orders.
Descending the moving staircase, the very moment you cross the threshold back into the corridor, the gargoyle immediately leaps back into place, sealing off the entrance. Moreover, a magical barrier so potent you can literally see the air shimmering between you and the stone beast appears, causing you to take a step back in fright. The gargoyle appears more menacing than you've ever seen it.
You continue on your way--now it's time to look for your contact.
Following another less than convenient path, you leave the castle through a back window and dash toward Hogsmeade. Arriving on the lonely edge of the nearly abandoned town, you find the Shrieking Shack in the distance.
Entering tremulously (you have to use another Portkey to do so, the shack being completely sealed off from the outside), you immediately find that this place gives you the creeps.
The house seems deserted, except for the stray creaking you sometimes hear. At one point, creeping around a corner and looking behind you, you turn your head back but not in time to avoid colliding with another person who's been trying to tiptoe as carefully as you've been!
You both shout in alarm after leaping backward away from each other and pulling your wands out, each trained on the other.
He's a man approximately twice your age--and you can't help but think that his face has rat-like qualities. Hence his nickname: Wormtail.
You put your wand away and release the breath you hadn't even known you've been holding in. "You're Peter Pettigrew, aren't you?"
He nods, putting his own wand away. "Colin Creevey? Yes, so you've been told you everything, right?"
He starts fidgeting nervously with his fingers, half of them human, the other half metallic. "Back to the Arena. I don't like it there, Creevey. Very strange place. Muggles will be taking it over soon, they keep saying."
You say nothing to this.
"Tell me, young Creevey," he goes on, trying unsuccessfully to keep eye contact with you. "How's Potter? Harry Potter? He saved my life, you know. I do hope he made it out of the Arena okay."
You shake your head. "Aw, Harry--I don't even know! I mean, I think he escaped. But I couldn't tell, it was really chaotic toward the end." You shrug, but your own trepidation shows through. "I really don't know how anyone's making out who went in, to be honest."
It depresses you that with all your concern for your own well-being, you've temporarily forgotten your friends like Harry, Ginny, Neville, Luna, the Patils, the Quidditch girls... Now your heart is sick with the thought some or all of them could be dead or hurt. And of course, you worry about your hero Harry most of all!
"Come on," you say, trying to add some cheer to your voice. "You know the rendezvous point, right? Let's get there as quick as we can.
"Everything will turn out alright," you reassure him, and his eyes look down at you, and you think you see a faint ray of hope within this man who's known so little hope throughout his life. "I promise."
"Okay, Creevey," he nods vigorously. "Let's go! But quickly!"
Leaving the dreadful shack behind and exiting Hogsmeade, you see the grandeur of Hogwarts Castle looming ahead of you, but you don't even make it ten paces outside of the village when a sudden screech fills the air.
More than a dozen cracks sound with Death Eaters Apparating in from every direction. Your wand is out instantly, but it's no use--you're horribly outnumbered.
Pettigrew immediately runs from your side up to the nearest Death Eater, pointing back at you. "It's him! There he is, Colin Creevey! One of the escaped Tributes. I have caught him! You must take him away, quickly."
Before you have so much as a chance to reply, you feel arms gripping you and hear spells incanted. You just hope that none of them are Cruciatus or the Killing Curse. You're abruptly shoved by an invisible force straight into the ground, tumbling end over end.
Picking your wand back up from the grass, you push yourself back to your feet and look around in fright as your enemies surround you, poised to overwhelm you.
Snape's words ring out in your mind, clear and uncompromising. It is his last piece of instruction to you. And though every instinct within you is crying out to do otherwise, you know that despite all logic, you must obey if you--and the nascent Rebellion--are to survive.
Did you:A.) Surrender to the ambush?orB.) Stand and fight?
Quest 1 - Wormtail
Dead End 10 (Answer B).
You are Colin Creevey.
"Expelliarmus!" you call out, Harry's signature move the first thing that comes to your mind.
And apparently it's a good move because one Death Eater is not only Disarmed, but his wand flies through the air and lands in the eyehole of another Death Eater's mask, sending the latter sprawling backward and yelping indignantly.
You use the Disarming Charm to part another foe from his wand, but now you're having to move and swerve frantically to dodge the hail of spells being fired your way.
"Diffindo!" you shout, changing tacks--and your spell promptly slices another opponent's wand cleanly in half. "Stupefy!" drops another onto the grass.
Truthfully, you're doing quite well and are becoming not a little bit pleased with yourself for holding your own against such numbers. But all pleasure, feeling, and thought end abruptly when the last thing you notice is the sound of rushing air followed by a burst of emerald green as bright as a camera's flash bulb.
Succumbing to the Killing Curse, you have failed to play your pivotal role in the events to come, so now the Rebellion is at an end!
The story continues with Answer A leading to Scene 11 this weekend.
Quest 1 - Wormtail
You are now Colin Creevey (in the present).
You've fallen asleep again.
You only realize this because a commotion from the adjoining room wakes you up. You strain your ears and are surprised--and even a bit alarmed--to hear more than one voice out there this time. There is familiarity in some of the voices, however.
They're coming fast.
You've managed to get yourself into a sitting position and comb a hand through your sleep-matted hair. And you don't even have time to put your shoes or socks on before Ginny Weasley rushes in and has practically yanked you off your cot to crush you in probably the biggest hug you've received in your life.
Wrapping your arms meekly around her midsection, you fight to breathe properly while she holds you tight, cradling the back of your head; this affords you an opportunity to observe the gathering behind her. You recognize Cormac McLaggen immediately and never thought you'd see him so glad to see you. (You're also a bit puzzled as to why he's fidgeting with his nose like he is.) There are two others with him: a girl with long, dark braided hair, a borderline emaciated frame, and serious disposition--wearing a great bow with accompanying quiver over her shoulder--and the boy next to her has blond hair and piercing blue eyes, a strong if somewhat skinny build, and an earnest face.
Peter Pettigrew comes timorously in last of all, the man who's been your only friend since the Games--and you swear you've never seen him so rattled before!
You don't have time to ask him about it before Ginny suddenly releases you, grabs your shoulders and looks you over, head to toe, and back again. It's unreal how much she's reminding you of your mother right now. "Are you alright, Colin?" she asks breathlessly.
You nod. "Well, yeah."
Her look of concern grows. "Are you sure? We feared the worst!"
"I'm doing great! Honestly, it's you guys I've been worried about. Hi McLaggen!"
He flashes you a winning smile while clapping you--hard enough to elicit an "Oof!" from you--on the back. "Hey mate!" he greets. "Just for the record, I never doubted your survival for a moment." You're guessing that's just bluster, though.
"I'm just glad to see you both made it out of the Arena alright!" You steel yourself to ask the question that's been haunting you ever since that fateful day you left them all behind. "So, erm, who all made it?"
Ginny smiles warmly at you. "Nearly all of us."
But your worry grows even more. "Nearly?"
"Well, Crabbe got offed," McLaggen snorts.
"And there was also a curious incident with Cedric Diggory," Ginny remarks. You raise your eyebrows, but she just says, "We can explain later.
"The important thing," she goes on, "is that those of us remaining are now taking the fight to You-Know-Who."
"After picking up a few of our valued allies, of course," McLaggen says, gesturing at you. You stand there blushing--you're not used to being the center of attention and never were particularly comfortable with it. While the blond-haired boy has been mostly looking around, taking in his surroundings, the dark-haired girl has been studying you intently since they first entered.
"Speaking of allies," Ginny gestures to the two strangers. "This is Peeta Mellark," she says, indicating the boy, "and Katniss Everdeen," the girl. Both give you firm handshakes. "They were Muggle Tributes in the Games that have been going on above your head the past few days."
"It's good to see you alive," Katniss tells you. "But I still don't understand," she continues, seeming to address no one in particular but still scrutinizing you. "Ambrose said you were dead."
Now you're really confused. "Who's Ambrose?"
"I mean, he said there were no life sign readings in here. None at all." She quirks an eyebrow at you. "More magic, I'm guessing?"
"Oh yeah, that!" you say, suddenly realizing. "We put loads of enchantments over my quarters here so that none of the Muggle Gamemakers would be able to track me with their electronic instruments."
You look over to Pettigrew, who is only now daring to join the rest of the group. "It was actually Peter Pettigrew's idea! Brilliant really."
Pettigrew immediately grows sheepish, but Ginny looks at you as if you've got two heads. "You actually trust Wormtail, Colin?"
"And wait," Peeta adds, "you mean you two have been in this together the whole time?"
"Yeah," you say, shrugging. "It's what Professor Snape wanted me to do."
"You trust Snape?" Ginny and McLaggen ask almost in unison.
"I do now," you reply. "Everything worked out fine! He got me out of the Arena away from You-Know-Who, Pettigrew met me right where I was told he would, next there was the Death Eater ambush, and then Pettigrew pretended to turn against me, all just like Snape said."
"Let me get this straight," Ginny responds, speaking slowly. "You were ambushed by Death Eaters, after which you let Wormtail gleefully turn you over, all according to Snape's plan, while you spend a week imprisoned inside the Arena--and we're supposed to be relieved??"
"But he's alive!" Pettigrew protests. "Just like I told you! He's alive and in quite good health, if I say so."
"Your arm," Katniss remarks, and you look down to see the bloody scab going down your forearm. You also catch her cringing a bit. "That's a fairly deep gash. Doesn't it hurt?"
"Not anymore," you say. "That happened when the Muggles first came in and took over. They needed to test my DNA, they said. Pettigrew and I didn't trust them, so afterward, he sequestered me in here under the enchantments while he continued his disguise as one of them."
You watch realization dawn on Katniss and Peeta's faces. "That explains the muttation," he says, but Ginny and McLaggen look like they're still trying to figure out what in the world DNA is.
Not having any idea what a muttation is, on the other hand, you just figure to keep your mouth shut and pull your socks and shoes on finally. (You won't miss these cold floors.)
"What I don't get," Katniss goes on, now focusing her intensive gaze on Pettigrew, "is if you're just Colin's friend, why did you attack us when we came looking for him?"
The man is outraged. "You attacked me! Then you chased me around this place. What was I supposed to think?"
"Please, Wormtail," Ginny cuts across him. "You must've known I at least was here for him. Why the charade?" She stares daggers at him. "And why did you aim a Killing Curse at Katniss?"
"She tried to kill me!" he squeaks. "With that Muggle weapon of hers."
"I shot at your shoulder," Katniss answers, her voice rising. "You would've been fine." Then she adds, just a bit quieter, "Eventually."
"It all sounds like a big misunderstanding, really," you put in, moving toward your Gryffindor scarlet robe, which you then put on over the shirt and trousers you've been sleeping in. "Pettigrew was given some pretty strict instructions about guarding me, and he didn't know Katniss. And Ginny, I don't even think he knew enough about your reasons for being here." You ignore her comment, "Bullocks," and press on. "It's just important we put the past behind us and work together now."
You're ready to head out of these quarters, which you knew would only furnish a temporary home, and look over to Pettigrew. "Oh, where's your wand?" you ask him.
He turns indignantly to Ginny. "I believe someone else has it at the moment."
She turns to him, her jaw agape. "If you think I'm giving this back to you, you--"
"C'mon, Ginny," you say, smiling. "Just give it to him. You can trust him, don't worry!"
"Colin," she says very seriously, "be careful of your new friend here. I know you've grown to trust him--and even have good reasons for doing so. But remember what he did to Harry's parents when it came time to choose sides!" She turns and fixes a damning gaze his way. "He was a coward once, and good people died. I, for one, am not going to let it happen again.
"Where's your wand, by the way?" she asks, turning back to you.
You shrug. "The Death Eaters took it when I surrendered to them." Seeing her mouth open in retort, you quickly add, "Not to worry. Pettigrew talked them into letting him have it, since they believed he was one of them. I've had him looking after it for me ever since.
"Tell you what, Ginny," you suggest. "If he finds and gives me my wand back, you give him his back. That's only fair, right?"
While she's still thinking of a proper objection, Pettigrew has already left the room. Moments later he returns, your wand in hand. Even though armed now, nobody raises their defenses, and even Ginny keeps her wand at her side. He promptly gives it over, and you feel its familiar weight in your hand again.
"Thanks, Pettigrew!" you say. "Alright, Ginny."
"Here." She holds out the wand to him, and as he takes it, she says in a low voice, "But we'll be watching you, Wormtail. All of us." She indicates McLaggen, Katniss, Peeta, and even you.
"Now what I want to know," McLaggen addresses you, "is what you've been doing here all this time. What's Snape's grand plan for locking you up in the Arena for the Muggle Games?"
"Hunger Games," Katniss amends.
You're about to begin your story when suddenly the lights go out, and a horrible mechanical buzzing sound starts repeating over and over. The lighting is replaced by flashing red lights as the two Muggles exclaim, "A security alarm!"
"How's that possible?" demands McLaggen. "Ambrose is supposed to be on top of this sort of thing!"
Katniss starts frantically speaking into a mechanical band on her wrist. "Ambrose, do you read me? Ambrose! Ambrose, answer me!!"
"We've got to get out of here!" Peeta yells.
As one, you all dash into the corridor. You come alongside Pettigrew. "What's going on?" you ask him.
He looks more worried than ever. "No idea! This wasn't in the plan!"
You come upon the huge metallic door that forms the entryway into this main corridor, which is now closed down tight. Four of you bring out your wands and blast it, moving out into the main compound over the debris.
The klaxons blare even louder here, and the previously white-polished hallways are now flashing red as if the entire place were covered in blood.
"How do we get back to the Control Room?" someone yells out.
"Follow me," McLaggen answers. "I set a Tracking Charm on our way here. My wand'll point the way back."
Your group follows a winding course, but it's not long before uniformed officials with helmets and shields block your way, focusing their Muggle weapons on you.
"Stop or we'll shoot!" one of them commands. "Hands in the air, now!"
"Like we're going to listen to you gits," McLaggen grumbles, then aims his wand. "PROTEGO!" A great invisible shield emerges from his wand, and McLaggen charges forward. You cast a similar Shield Charm and are relieved to see their bullets can't penetrate your team's protective spells. Pettigrew and Ginny then Stun your foes, and Katniss and Peeta run along behind the group and take care of any leftover resistance.
The six of you come up short at the entrance to the Control Room, however--as you see a trickle of blood falling from the ceiling just on the other side of the entryway. "No, no," you hear Katniss muttering. She dashes in first, Ginny fast on her heels.
The rest of you follow them in and look up behind you to see a grisly sight: a man impaled on the wall above the door by a great spear, blood nearly matching the color of his shirt, which falls over his white pants and collects in a pool some eight feet below him in the doorway. There is no life in his pale blue eyes, and his mouth hangs open dumbly inside the wildest designed beard you've ever seen.
"Seneca Crane... dead," Peeta whispers.
"With Ambrose's weapon?" Katniss's statement sounds more like a question.
"But he wouldn't!" Ginny objects. "And where is he anyway? He was--" but she comes up short when she looks at one computer terminal in particular.
As one, your group slowly moves in that direction, and you find a large knife embedded deep within the computer screen, the myriad network of cracks flowing out from it looking like a crystalline spider web.
Katniss fingers the knife, and you see her go cold. "Clove," she whispers. "The Careers have done this."
You gasp. "The Slytherins?!"
Ginny shakes her head. "No, other Careers. Muggle ones." She looks back at the knife. "But deadly nevertheless. Come on!"
You retreat with the group to the back of the room, which is mostly char and dust--you also see the remnants of a great metal structure lying across a semi-circle of crushed machinery.
But what draws your attention are four ropes dangling out of a ceiling that opens to the early morning sky far above you.
McLaggen speaks. "Thankfully they were dumb enough to leave us a nice trail to follow." He inspects the once burned wall, now rocky and pocked. "There should be enough footing to climb out if the ropes fail."
Peeta looks up. "I don't trust those ropes to hold me for a minute. I think I'll haul myself up the hard way."
McLaggen walks up to one of the inner ropes, Katniss taking the far left one and Ginny the one on the other side of him. You step up to the outer rope on the right, next to Ginny. "Mellark is right," McLaggen goes on. "We'll need to test the strength of all four of these ropes before we trust them enough to go up." He shrugs. "If they're no good, we can just use wands of course.
"Right, so on the count of three, we grab them together... and pull!" McLaggen counts you off, and once he hits three, you grab--
--and suddenly you're ascending faster than thought, straight up, and you're relieved when the rope knots around your hands automatically as you're sped toward the sky, so you don't fall all the way back down as your ropes retract farther and farther upward. Still, you can't help but let out a yelp and notice the others sound just as alarmed as you.
At the end of your ride, you jerk to a halt so suddenly, your whole body nearly flips over the contraption, but instead the four of you swing slowly back and forth before coming to a stop. You notice Katniss's Muggle bow has flown off of her person and into the dirt nearby. You look around and find that you and your three companions are hanging by your hands from a contraption built over the large pit in the ground leading down to the Control Room.
That's when you notice three strangers approaching you: a tall boy with brown hair wielding a large spear similar to what you'd seen in that Crane bloke's belly, a dark-haired girl with what appear to be very recent scars on her face, and finally a handsome muscular boy with blond hair--he carries no weapon that you can see but doesn't seem to need to. All three are looking very pleased with themselves.
"Bloody Muggles!" McLaggen exclaims.
"Marvel, Clove, and Cato," Ginny whispers, pointing them out to you in turn. "The Careers of these Games." She makes a sour look. "We sort of angered them earlier."
"Only one thing to do then," you whisper back. You go to reach for your wand--and can't. You look up to your hands, confined by a tight knot of rope high above your head, as your wand rests futilely inside your robe. Your panic rising as realization dawns, you look back to Ginny and McLaggen, who are looking at each other and at you--you've all come to the same conclusion.
"Well, look what we have here!" the Muggle girl called Clove teases with mock sweetness. "Not so tough now without your magic sticks, are you?" Your eyes are transfixed on the knife that she now handles so casually.
Marvel, the boy with the spear, smiles without mirth. "Hey Katniss, you know the nice thing about being from the top two districts in Panem?" He then gestures to the apparatus from which you hang. You see mechanical gears within, which you figure explains the rapid ascent. "We have the best, most wealthy and committed sponsors."
"As well as the muscle to put together prizes like this in such a short time," adds the other boy, Cato.
Continuing to run through your dwindling options, you consider Disapparition, but just as quickly discard the idea. Even if you and Ginny were old enough to have learned how, you again look up to where your hands are knotted above your head. Granted, a wizard with exceptional skill, expertise, and years of experience would be able to Apparate out of something like this without splinching both their hands off in the process--but it would take a wizard with the skill level of a Professor Dumbledore to pull that off. And that's definitely not you or your classmates at present.
"Where is he?" Katniss demands, her hands still fighting the rope that binds her. "Where's Ambrose?"
Marvel gestures carelessly to a point behind your group. "As your luck would have it, the little traitor is being escorted even as we speak. Glimmer?"
Straining your necks to see behind you, the four of you see a girl walking forward, her blonde hair divided into two braids. Whereas her three companions have been wearing looks of smug triumph, all you can see on her face instead is a cold fury. You shudder; with her twin braids, she looks like a cruel, warped version of Hannah Abbott.
Meanwhile, the young boy she's escorting is in a terrible state: His hair mussed, he has a black eye as well as swelling on other parts of his face and arms. He's cut and bleeding from numerous places, including from his mouth, and he hobbles so badly on one leg that the girl is practically dragging him along behind her. Your mouth is agape at just how young he must be--he looks like a child still!
Coming along in front of your group, Glimmer throws Ambrose to the ground so roughly that he almost rolls into the massive pit below you. The boy lays there quietly sobbing, otherwise barely conscious.
"Glimmer," Katniss calls out with an eery calmness in her voice. She's no longer fighting her bonds, you notice. "You don't have to do this. Remember what you told us before? I know you didn't kill Rue. I know you didn't want to have anything to do with that. Please, remember how we let you go the first time. Help us!"
After Katniss finishes her plea, all is silent. Slowly, Glimmer walks over and picks up Katniss's bow, her face inscrutable. She studies it for a time, running a finger along the silver curve, then the string. Reaching the place where Katniss hangs, she finally looks up--but now her eyes show hatred almost to the point of tears. With unthinkable strength, she snaps the string apart with her bare hands and throws the broken weapon into the gaping hole beneath you.
"Go to hell," she snarls.
Katniss's face shows no reaction, but McLaggen's has turned completely red. "YOU SODDING LITTLE COCK-UP!" he roars. "After we just let you go last night? This is how you repay us!?! I'll throw you in that hole next, you blood-sucking, no-good, fork-tongued, beastly..." And so McLaggen keeps on like this, throwing in a few wizard swears at her that might make Crabbe or Goyle blush.
"Who's Rue?" you whisper to Ginny.
She shakes her head. "Later."
Instead, Ginny gestures to the pit, and you look straight down. Nearing the top of the wall and coming out onto the grass is Peeta, and after him scurries out of the hole a familiar brown rat once known as Scabbers. Not even giving the rodent a second glance, the Careers focus their attention on Peeta, who--after seeing Katniss's position--suddenly looks ready to take on all four of them by himself.
Clove looks positively delighted. "Oh, hey guys! It looks like Lover Boy finally decided to show up after all. I'm afraid we're just hopelessly outnumbered now, isn't that right?" Her voice drips sarcasm, but her eyes are full of malice.
"Let them go," Peeta says without preamble. "All four of them. Right now." He pulls out a pocket knife--and Clove literally laughs.
Then, faster than thought, she launches her own knife at his knife hand, which strikes his weapon, knocking it out of his hand and into the pit below.
Wow, you think, it's like the Muggle version of Expelliarmus! You're genuinely impressed despite how horrible all this is.
Clove quickly has another knife ready. And just when Peeta makes like he's going to come after her, he abruptly turns and lunges at Marvel instead, who'd been trying to sneak up on him.
Clove is about to intervene when out of nowhere Katniss comes flying out of her bonds with a swing that clears the gap below and sends her into Clove's vicinity, where she connects with a flying kick to the side of the Career's head, sending her sprawling.
"How did she get loose?" you ask in amazement, and you see Ginny and McLaggen shaking their heads, wearing the same bafflement on their faces that you are.
Meanwhile, Peeta is in a wrestling match with Marvel, both combatants vying for the latter's spear. But apparently, Peeta has some strength in him you hadn't guessed before, because he rips it from Marvel's hands so hard that he yanks the taller man through the dirt before he wrests it from him completely. The Career is on his feet at once, but Peeta is ready, sweeping his legs out from under him with the shaft of the spear. Cato and Glimmer keep their distance from him for the time being, seeming to formulate a plan.
Katniss grabs Clove's knife from the ground and tosses it up to Ginny, who catches it smoothly and begins cutting away at her bonds while Peeta comes up to McLaggen, spear in hand, and asks, "Will you be able to save yourself if I cut you down?"
"I'm no Squib, mate--cut away!"
With one powerful thrust, Peeta slashes through the rope with the tip of his spear, and you watch anxiously as McLaggen plummets into the darkness. But his bound hands are now able to reach within his robes, bring out a wand, destroy what's left of his bonds with a spell, and Levitate himself back skyward at an uncannily fast speed. On his way up, his wand is in motion again, firing a blast that undoes your bonds while Ginny catches you with a spell of her own, dropping you on the grass gently.
The gentleness ends right there, for no sooner do your fingers finally clutch your wand than you feel as if you've just been run over by the Hogwarts Express itself. Cato tackles you to the ground, seeking your wand, which you're amazed to find you've still managed to hold on to. With daunting ease, he's able to drag you through the dirt and pull you nearly to a standing position, as you wriggle desperately in his grasp.
Out of the corner of your eye, you see a similar struggle going on between Ginny and Glimmer, her wand lying tantalizingly on the ground, the both of them clawing for it. "Give it up already!" the former shouts at the latter. "Not like it'll work for you anyway."
"Doesn't matter," Glimmer snarls. "Just as long as I keep it away from you!"
Meanwhile, bereft of a spear, Marvel uses the element of surprise to ambush McLaggen as he completes his ascension out of the pit, the two young men coming to blows, Marvel just able to keep his opponent's wand aimed away from him. Peeta attempts to intervene with his spear, but Clove is on her feet by this time and yanks back on the butt of the spear, pulling Peeta flat onto his back, caught off guard. Her leverage would've made for an even contest of tug-of-war for the weapon, but she opts instead to shove Peeta into the pit, the spear falling in end-over-end, while the boy hangs precariously over a drop into darkness.
Katniss is already charging in, but Clove is ready with a knife that she throws right at her heart. Katniss comes prepared, though, throwing up a bright orange backpack as a shield, then letting the pack drop to the ground. Similarly, Clove's second knife winds up lodged in Katniss's quiver that she immediately brings out in front of her next. Dropping it into the grass as well, she takes out a handful of arrows to use as makeshift daggers now that Clove is down to her last knife.
By this point the two girls are on each other, but you're no longer able to see the melee, though you continue to hear their grunts and shouts.
You're able to take in all this action briefly during your own struggle with an impossibly powerful Cato. Still holding on to your wand, he quickly begins working on your wand arm, bending it back, back, back...
You look over to Peter Pettigrew, standing, frozen with apprehension. If the Careers have noticed the transformation into his human form, they give no indication. Instead they ignore this unarmed lab coat Gamemaker in order to deal with the bigger threats. But you know that he's armed and the magic he's capable of.
"Pettigrew!" you shout. "Please, help us!"
But he doesn't seem to hear you. Instead, his fingers fidget ever faster, natural on the left and silvery on the right. He keeps muttering to himself, his eyes ever shifting.
"AAAAAAIIIGGGGGGHHHHH!!!" you scream, the agony now well beyond your meager threshold. You can literally feel the tendons in your arm stretching and starting to break apart. Off to the side of you, Glimmer has beaten Ginny to her wand, and farther away still, Marvel body slams McLaggen. You swear you see Clove thrust her knife downward in a prone Katniss's vicinity.
But you keep your eyes fixed on Pettigrew. He's nattering on faster, and now his eyes are shut to your suffering and that of your friends. Despair begins to mix in with the physical agony as Ginny's warnings replay in your head. When the chips are down, it's as if it's Pettigrew's destiny to fulfill the coward's role.
But you simply can't believe it. Not here. Not now.
"PLEASE!" you shriek through your tears. "Peter! Do something!!"
As his eyes close even tighter, and his rambling becomes even more pronounced, you see his human hand going toward his lab coat--and as you think you hear the word "patronum" somewhere in his ramblings, you realize he's not rambling at all.
He's been incanting.
Bringing out his wand, it's as if the light darkens, all sound ceases, and even time itself slows down. Suddenly, a blast of purest white energy bursts forth from his wand tip, and a herd of silver rats, as large as dogs yet somehow as majestic as steeds, rush out. Your arm released at last, you drop to your knees, cradling the ruptured joint.
The Careers stand to fight back but are overwhelmed at once, their weapons incapable of harming the Patronuses and their physical strength counting for naught against the specters.
Glimmer waves Ginny's wand in a vain attempt to cast a spell, but a Patronus makes contact with the wand, which blasts the girl backward. Rats pull Clove off of Katniss, while still others leap onto Cato and Marvel in such numbers that they're immediately knocked onto the ground while ghost-like rats dogpile them to the point that you can't even see the boys underneath anymore.
Waves of powerful magical energy flow through seemingly the entire Arena, and you feel instantaneous relief come to your arm. A heavy updraft bears Peeta out of the pit, and on its other side, even Ambrose raises his head and begins to regain some semblance of control.
Meanwhile, more spectral rats run up and down the mechanical trap upon which your group was hanging, seeming to eat away at it until the contraption collapses in on itself and crashes into the massive hole underneath and out of sight.
Just as the Patronuses themselves begin to fade into nothingness, the power of this present surge only increases in intensity. As the Careers regroup and now begin to rush Peter as one, the surge concentrates itself into one very focused elemental force. The final blast launches all four Careers into the air and sends them crash landing flat on their backs, skidding some fifty feet away and kicking up a grass-ridden cloud of dust in their wake. There they lie, all four silent and unmoving.
But before you can celebrate your newfound freedom, you look to Peter and see him recoiling in horror as his own steel gauntlet is suddenly making its way toward his throat! His wand lying on the ground now, the three of you wizards rush to his side (while Katniss and Peeta run over to Ambrose).
You have only seconds before his metallic hand will start strangling the life out of this man who has just saved all of yours. "What do we do!?" you wail.
"I'm thinking, I'm thinking!" McLaggen stammers, furiously rubbing his nose in thought. "Does anyone know how to counteract a curse like this?" He seethes in desperation. "Of course no one knows!"
Then his hand stops, and he mutters, "Knows... Nose... Nose--that's it!"
"What's it!?!" demands Ginny, looking as miserable as the rest of you.
But it's too late to explain. "Quick, Creevey!" McLaggen orders, pointing at Peter while he grabs the cursed man's good arm.
You don't completely take McLaggen's meaning, though, but you have no time!
Should you:A.) Interpose yourself between Peter's gauntlet and throat?orB.) Pull back on Peter's cursed gauntlet?
Quest 1 - Wormtail
Dead End 11 (Answer A).
You are Colin Creevey.
You have just enough time to squeeze yourself between Peter Pettigrew and his deadly gauntlet. What you were hoping to accomplish by that you'll never be able to tell because the monstrosity ends up strangling you fairly quickly. You don't live to find out if it takes Peter afterward too.
Your friends and allies have come after you for naught. Thus dispirited, the Rebellion is at an end!
The story concludes with Answer B leading to Scene 12 this weekend!
Quest 1 - Wormtail
You are Colin Creevey.
Grabbing hold of the silver gauntlet, you pull until you're straining from the effort, but it's no use. At the same time, however, McLaggen has seized Peter's good arm, and in a blink the two of them compress and vanish with a pop, sending you backpedaling, still clutching the gauntlet which is now bleeding all over the place. Quickly you drop it and watch as it futilely grasps the blades of grass around it.
You pick up Peter's wand before the silver hand can reach it and promptly blast the gauntlet--but it's unaffected by any spell you can conjure. So you aim a desperate kick at it instead and watch as it sails into the gaping pit.
Suddenly, about thirty feet away, you hear an anguished moaning sound and swiftly run toward where McLaggen has Apparated Peter, away from the uncanny gauntlet. Blood is spewing forth from the wound where his cursed hand was splinched off.
Ginny, having already picked up her own wand, comes in at a run. Grabbing his arm, she immediately gets to work but yells out to the rest of you, "Do we have any bandages?"
"I think I have some in here," Katniss replies, picking up her orange backpack (and removing Clove's knife from it). She brings out some bandages, which Peeta quickly helps her apply to the arm stump while healing energy continues pouring from Ginny's wand.
Peter continues to groan in agony. "It's alright, you're alright," Ginny repeats soothingly to him, almost in a gentle sing-song voice, keeping a comforting hand on his shoulder while continuing the healing process. Soon he relaxes, though continuing to breathe heavily.
Ginny, for all her downplaying of her healing skill in recent times, continues making her rounds. She removes a gash from Katniss's forehead, the result of too close a call with Clove's knife. She mends the tendons in your arm. She relieves McLaggen's bloodied nose and restores to wholeness a couple of his cracked ribs.
Ambrose's injuries, on the other hand, are too severe for an amateur healing. She does what she can for him, though, while Katniss supplies what's left of her bandages and holds the boy's hand while the others work on him.
He'll need a long stay in a hospital somewhere, but for now he looks considerably better, and his spirits are certainly much higher. "Thanks!" he says cheerfully, raising himself to a sitting position. "I didn't think I was going to make it." He looks toward the pit, where the Careers' trap once stood. "You guys neither, no offense."
"None taken," McLaggen responds, sounding uncharacteristically devoid of bluster. "By the way, Everdeen, smooth move with those ropes. How did you manage to free yourself like that?"
She shrugs. "During training, most Tributes focused on weapons stations. I spent a lot of my time at the snares station--knots, tying and untying, I taught myself all the tricks. I figured it'd come in handy."
McLaggen then looks to Peter. "And I'm afraid if it weren't for our mate Wormtail over here, I think the lot of us would've been taking a one-way trip right down that hole there--or worse."
Peter remains sitting, his legs tucked close in to his body. Far from looking jubilant or vindicated, he appears on the verge of tears.
As your group moves over to him, his eyes fix on Ginny. "They were my best friends, Ginny Weasley. James and sweet Lily. Sirius and Remus, too. I thought I would do anything for them, but I... I..." He leaves that thought unfinished.
Taking another breath, he continues. "All these years, it's haunted me. I couldn't stop thinking about it, still can't. I wasn't there, but I see their deaths in my mind's eye."
Now he turns his attention to you. "Not since James and Lily's deaths have I been able to conjure a Patronus--not until I met you, Colin Creevey. Only now have I been able to summon a thought cheerful enough to cast it again. To regain something I thought I'd lost forever.
Ginny kneels down on the grass beside him. "I think I owe you an apology," she begins. "What you did today, that was... it was brilliant, there's no denying it. While I won't be able to forget what you've done in the past, I don't think you should either. I can't forget--but I can forgive you."
She rises and takes his remaining hand to help him to his feet. "You've proven yourself a true Gryffindor, Pettigrew. You'll still need a Healer to be sure, but once you're healed up, I for one would be honored to have you as an ally after your actions today."
Katniss and Peeta come up alongside her. "He and Colin are going to have to take our place, I'm afraid," Katniss says.
Instead of showing surprise or disappointment, Ginny merely smiles at the two. "Things are starting to heat up in your home country, aren't they?"
Katniss nods. "After what's happened here, being watched by everyone in Panem, there's no doubt now that districts are going to be rising up in rebellion against the Capitol."
"Just as the Capitol will now be fighting back harder than ever to crush that rebellion," Peeta says, genuine fear showing in his eyes.
You see the same anxiety mirrored in Katniss's features. "We have to return home to District Twelve. Our families, our friends, our allies--they need us now. Moreover, they need a symbol to rally around," she says, and you notice her idly fingering a golden pin on her jacket in the shape of some bird you don't recognize. "Just like you guys have Harry."
She looks you all over in turn. "You have your war against Voldemort, and we have ours against President Snow."
You nod in satisfaction. "So the plan worked out after all, didn't it?"
Everyone turns to look at you. "What plan?" McLaggen asks.
"Well, Professor Snape's plan, what else? Dumbledore told him everything of course." They continue watching you, waiting.
You take a deep breath. "The war wasn't going well, you guys know that. Dumbledore, through McGonagall, found out about a Muggle nation called Panem, and he heard all about the terrible Hunger Games where teenagers are forced to fight to the death.
"He knew that if You-Know-Who ever got a leg up in our war, that he'd love nothing more than to institute their Games against us, the Hogwarts students whose families had resisted him the most.
"So he let You-Know-Who win."
Ginny picks it up from here. "But Dumbledore knew his mind. He knew not only that he'd put together a horrible wizarding version of these Games, but he also knew that he'd grossly underestimate the Hogwarts Tributes, didn't he?"
You nod your head enthusiastically. "Dumbledore knew we'd rebel!"
McLaggen looks around at your surroundings. "So... So what? So he set up his Games, which proved a laughable failure on only its first go. And for what? For the Muggle Games to come in right after?"
"Of course!" you exclaim. "Doesn't it make sense now?"
Everyone stares at you dumbly.
You sigh. "Professor Snape had to get into the Games himself in order to get the Slytherins on our side, as you know."
McLaggen interrupts. "Yeah, I'm still not sold on that, mate. You can't trust a Slytherin not to come crawling back to their Death Eater kind when things start getting nasty, I'll bet any amount of Galleons on that."
"Isn't your Mentor a Slytherin?" you ask McLaggen in genuine puzzlement.
He's taken aback by this. "What, you mean Slughorn?" He laughs uproariously. "Oh, but old Sluggy is different!" You and Ginny both arch your brows at his use of such a casual nickname. "He's like the Slytherin who isn't really a Slytherin if you catch my meaning."
You don't, but you decide to move on anyway. "So Snape has to infiltrate the Arena to recruit the Slytherins, whom he--and Professor Dumbledore--feel will be needed to help us against You-Know-Who. But it was also necessary to get one of us, a Gryffindor no less, left behind to be imprisoned during the Muggle Hunger Games afterward."
Ginny looks baffled. "But why? What purpose does such a move serve?"
In response, you look back to the gaping crater where once the Cornucopia stood. "Look around you," you say.
Peeta seems to catch on first. "The end of the Hunger Games."
"For good," Katniss adds.
You beam at them. "The affairs of the Muggle world have always been a concern to Professor Dumbledore, Snape said. It was a gamble, sure, but Dumbledore hoped to knock out two dementors with one Patronus: first, to put an end to the ghastly Hunger Games of the Muggles; second, to bring all the wizarding families together in rebellion against You-Know-Who in the process.
"That's why Dumbledore told Snape to Polyjuice with a Gryffindor if the Games ever became a reality. By making sure it was a Gryffindor in captivity here..."
"...then it would be members of Gryffindor House who would be most likely to come to that one's aid," Ginny finishes, the light of realization shining in her eyes.
McLaggen picks up her line of thought. "And it would take the courage of a true Gryffindor to walk into a death match and brave even the worst setbacks in order to save one of their own."
Ginny creeps up to the edge of the great pit. "He knew that it would take Gryffindor courage to bring these Games to an end for good."
"Just as he figures it'll take the Slytherins to sabotage You-Know-Who's plans from within," you explain, then look over to Peter. "And I think Dumbledore also knew that some Gryffindors just needed a second chance."
"Um, out of curiosity," Ambrose says, speaking up for the first time, "I don't suppose these professors of yours had anything to say about taking care of those Careers over there?" He nervously gestures over his shoulder.
Your group looks over to where the four remain in an unceremonious heap, finally beginning to stir. Approaching them, McLaggen shoots rope out of his wand to tie them up together, the four of them leaning against each other's backs.
It's merely a precaution, though, as none of them are in any state to fight. All four have suffered concussions of some sort or another, and in fact, Marvel remains completely unconscious. The other three gaze around in bewilderment and fatigue, struggling with chronic physical pain from fractured bones, plus the usual headaches, dizziness, and disorientation from head injuries.
Only Glimmer seems to show any real signs of alertness, a single tear of despair trickling down her cheek.
"In case you didn't get our message last night, the Hunger Games are over," Katniss addresses the fallen group. "The fighting is done. Peeta, Ambrose, and I, along with our allies, are leaving the Arena. We aren't going to kill you, but we're not taking you out of here with us either.
"So what's going to happen is this: We're going to leave you here. Then your plethora of well-connected sponsors are going to get you out of this place and back to Districts One and Two. There you'll be hospitalized and receive the best medical care that money can buy in all of Panem outside the Capitol. All four of you will make full recoveries."
"That includes you too, Scarface!" McLaggen winks at Clove. She's too dazed to answer his taunt.
"Why, Katniss?" says Glimmer through gritted teeth. "Why not kill us now? Just get it over with."
"Because this isn't the war, Glimmer. It never was. After your recoveries, there will be war in Panem--and then you're going to have a choice to make.
"You're either going to side with the Capitol that's oppressed you and put you into these Games for the fun and sport of self-indulgent idiots with ridiculous makeup, a regime that'll sooner kill you than feed you. Or you'll join the growing Rebellion to overthrow the tyrant who's enslaved us all."
"You're full of it, Katnisss..." slurs Cato, struggling to keep his head from bobbing. "District Two is a benefissssh--a beneficiary of the... Capitol. They'll always have our backs."
Ambrose lets out a low whistle. "That's not what I saw on Seneca Crane's data discs."
Katniss kneels, putting herself at eye level with Cato. "It's all about the greater glory of your district, isn't it, Cato?" A pause, but he manages a nod. "Good. Then join District Two and all the others in bringing down the Capitol." She stands. "Bring real glory to your district, and you'll share in greater honors than any Victor in Panem's history."
You can't tell if Cato is thinking it over or just no longer able to keep up a coherent conversation.
"Of course," continues Katniss, "in the event that any of you do side with the Capitol and fight against us, there won't be any mercy left--I'll kill you where you stand."
Her eyes take in the whole group but focus particularly on Glimmer. "Don't think you'll be able to cross us a third time and come out of it alive."
A sudden thought occurs to you. "Is this it then?" you ask the others. "Are there any other Tributes left who are alive?"
Ambrose responds. "Besides me, Katniss, Peeta, and these four lugheads, there were two other Tributes still alive when I was monitoring the system.
"One was the girl from District Five--the same one you said snuck in and stole from the Careers' food supply."
"Foxface," Peeta answers in recognition.
"Yeah, her. Anyway, I took a look at the recordings, and not long after you guys came in through the hole you made in the Arena, she noticed the anomaly and went to investigate it. Anyway, she climbed up a tree at the boundary of the Arena, used some rope on the nearest tree outside to connect with her tree and made her way out." Ambrose shrugs. "Once outside the Arena, who knows where she went after that."
"Who's the other?" Katniss asks.
"The boy from District Eleven."
"Thresh!" Peeta exclaims. "Rue's partner; I remember her mentioning him while you were gone, Katniss. Where is he?" he asks, turning back to Ambrose.
"That's the weird thing," the boy responds. "The whole time I monitored the Arena, Thresh never moved more than a few paces from this one spot. It was just inside the forest--" he says, pointing to what appears to be an arbitrary point in the treeline, "--over there. No idea the significance of that area. There are certainly better hiding places."
You look over there, trying to puzzle it out, but you're quickly out of ideas. Looking to the others, they seem just as clueless. Even Katniss shrugs.
But Peeta doesn't. "I know exactly why he's there," he says, emotion filling his voice. "Come on."
The grass and soil have been skillfully and perfectly molded in the form of a young girl, who looks as if she's lying in the ground of which she is a part, sleeping an eternal sleep. The soil composes her peaceful face, eyes closed, while the vegetation flows down in curls from her head as hair. Makeshift blankets and cloth have been transformed and recolored to form a burial gown, but leaving her hands and feet--the compacted soil making up the skin and pebbles her nails--exposed to view. Upon arriving, Katniss insisted on laying flowers across the soil sculpture.
You stand subdued with Ginny, McLaggen, and Peter on the memorial's left, while Katniss, Peeta, and Ambrose stand across from you on her other side, the first two holding each other, helpless to stop the tears.
At her head stands a mountain of a young man. His skin dark and his hair jet black, he's at least as tall as Marvel and more muscular than even Cato. Though he sheds no tears, his eyes betray how deeply moved he is.
"Peeta, right?" he speaks in a hushed voice. Peeta can only nod.
"Thank you," Thresh says. "Thank you for doing this for the little girl. I'll make sure my district never forgets it."
Katniss slowly disengages from Peeta and wipes her eyes. "The Hunger Games are finished, Thresh, as I'm sure you've figured out. We're getting out, and we're fighting back against the Capitol."
Intensity shines in Thresh's eyes. "Then count me in, and I think all of District Eleven will be behind you. For Rue!"
"For Rue," Katniss whispers. Her face contorts with grief anew, and she buries herself in Peeta's shoulder, her frame wracked with sobs.
A short while later, the time for saying goodbye has come, not only to Rue, but to each other, Muggles and wizarding folk parting ways. Katniss and Ginny share a particularly long, teary embrace. Nothing is said between the two; nothing needs to be said.
Coming next to Peter, Katniss both thanks him for saving your lives and apologizes for nearly impaling him with an arrow.
When she reaches McLaggen, he spreads his hands, palms up. "Well, this is it, isn't it, Everdeen?"
She actually smiles at him and surprises all of you when she puts her arms around him in a hug and gives him a small peck on the cheek. "You know, Cormac, you're alright after all." Disengaging, she finally turns to you.
Having said goodbye to the two with whom she's bonded the most during this adventure, you content yourself with simply putting your hand forward for a handshake. She smirks at this gesture and astonishes you when she rejects it and enfolds you in a hug too! You blush the same shade of your scarlet robes when she kisses your cheek as well.
"I'm glad I got to meet you, Colin," she tells you. "And I have to admit, you gave us quite a scare there for a while." Gesturing to the rest of your group, she says, "But take care of these guys for me, will you? One of these days, after Snow and your Dark Lord are done for, I'm hoping we can all meet again."
"And under happier circumstances," Ginny agrees, stepping forward. "And now we Disapparate out of here--sorry, Katniss," she amends upon seeing her Muggle friend wince. "--to District Twelve, is it?"
"Actually," Peeta cuts in, "it might be better to take us all to the Capitol. We need to meet up with Haymitch, Effie, and the others. Then we can find transportation home."
Thresh and Ambrose agree. "I'll need to see my mentor too," the latter says. "We have a lot of data to go over."
"After you're out of the hospital, that is," Katniss retorts protectively.
"The Capitol it is then," Ginny says as everyone links arms. "Afterward, the rest of us will rendezvous with Harry and the others," she says to you, McLaggen, and Peter. "Alright, Cormac, get us out of here!"
She grabs your arm tight with one hand, the other clutching Peter's. "After all, we have a lot of news to share."
And compressing yourselves in the blink of an eye, you're finally gone from the Arena for good.
Congratulations! Your team has successfully completed its mission and even won over a new ally to the cause:PETER PETTIGREW