Through the Trapdoor

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It was sweltering hot, especially in the large classroom where they did their written papers. They had been given special, new quills for the exams, which had been bewitched with an Anticheating spell.

They had practical exams as well. Professor Flitwick called them one by one into his class to see if they could make a pineapple tapdance across a desk. Professor McGonagall watched them turn a mouse into a snuffbox — points were given for how pretty the snuffbox was, but taken away if it had whiskers. Snape made them all nervous, breathing down their necks while they tried to remember how to make a Forgetfulness potion.

Rain did the best she could, trying to ignore the stabbing pains in her forehead, which had been bothering her ever since her trip into the forest. Parvati thought Rain had a bad case of exam nerves because Rain couldn't sleep, but the truth was that Rain kept being woken by her old nightmare, except that it was now worse than ever because there was a hooded figure dripping blood in it.

Maybe it was because they hadn't seen what Rain had seen in the forest, or because they didn't have scars burning on their foreheads, but Ron and Hermione didn't seem as worried about the Stone as Rain. The idea of Voldemort certainly scared them, but he didn't keep visiting them in dreams, and they were so busy with their studying they didn't have much time to fret about what Snape or anyone else might be up to.

Their very last exam was History of Magic. One hour of answering questions about batty old wizards who'd invented selfstirring cauldrons and they'd be free, free for a whole wonderful week until their exam results came out. When the ghost of Professor Binns told them to put down their quills and roll up their parchment, Rain couldn't help cheering with the rest.

"That was far easier than I thought it would be." Hermione said cheerfully, as they joined the crowds flocking out onto the sunny grounds. "I needn't have learned about the 1637 Werewolf Code of Conduct or the uprising of Elfric the Eager."

Hermione always liked to go through their exam papers afterward, but Ron said this made him feel ill, so they wandered down to the lake and flopped under a tree. The Weasley twins and Lee Jordan were tickling the tentacles of a giant squid, which was basking in the warm shallows.

"No more studying." Ron sighed happily, stretching out on the grass. "You could look more cheerful, Rain, we've got a week before we find out how badly we've done, there's no need to worry yet."

Rain was rubbing her forehead.

"I wish I knew what this means!" She burst out angrily. "My scar keeps hurting — it's happened before, but never as often as this."

"Go to Madam Pomfrey." Hermione suggested.

"I'm not ill." Rain denied. "I think it's a warning. It means danger's coming."

Ron couldn't get worked up, it was too hot. "Rain, relax, Hermione's right, the Stone's safe as long as Dumbledore's around. Anyway, we've never had any proof Snape found out how to get past Fluffy. And Neville will play quidditch for England before Hagrid lets Dumbledore down."

Rain nodded, but she couldn't shake off a lurking feeling that there was something she'd forgotten to do, something important. When she tried to explain this, Hermione said, "That's just the exams. I woke up last night and was halfway through my Transfiguration notes before I remembered we'd done that one."

Rain was quite sure the unsettled feeling didn't have anything to do with work, though. She watched an owl flutter toward the school across the bright blue sky, a note clamped in its mouth. Hagrid was the only one who ever sent her letters. Hagrid would never betray Dumbledore. Hagrid would never tell anyone how to get past Fluffy. Never. But...

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