Felicity could hear her own scream and the voices of other first years bouncing off the walls of the corridors. She was turning every direction, eyes peeled for a hint of her cousin’s braids. She found herself jogging along with the crowd. An hour ago she had been asleep in her dormitory, crimson hangings closed around her bed. The next thing she knew, her roommate Vanessa Mock was shaking her awake, almost in tears, telling her they had to leave now to go to the Great Hall.
Felicity had barely had time to pull her robe on over her nightgown and slide on her slippers before everyone was out of the dorms, making their way to the Great Hall. She had no idea what was happening. Were they being held hostage? Had the Carrows finally gone too far and killed someone? Was her favorite teacher, Professor McGonagall, okay? It wasn’t until she was seated at the Gryffindor table, finally able to gather herself and observe her surroundings, that she realized the Carrows were nowhere in sight, Headmaster Snape was gone, and Harry Potter was here. What in the world was going on? And was that Neville Longbottom? She hadn’t seen him months but heard he was hiding out somewhere in the school. What were he and Harry Potter doing in the Great Hall?
Questions were rolling around in her head and she could tell she wasn’t the only one. Most of the other first years looked like they were either on the brink of fainting, vomiting, or crying. Felicity was feeling the same way until she saw her favorite cousin, Angelina Johnson.
When Felicity had been terrified at the idea of going to Hogwarts after hearing her parents talk about Professor Dumbledore’s murder, it was Angelina who wrote her letters, telling her that everything would be okay. Whenever she thought about Quidditch and what it would be like to be a Chaser, she imagined herself one day playing on a professional team with her big cousin. Even the braids that she loved wearing in the summer were styled after Angelina. And there she was. Felicity had been worried. It has been weeks since Angelina had answered any of her letters, but seeing her there, confident and brave, made her feel braver.
Then that voice with a deep, cold, lingering hiss carried through the hall. Felicity was having a hard time hearing anything over Vanessa’s sobbing, but the voice sounded like it could be coming from someone sitting right next to her.
“I know you are preparing to fight,” it said. Screams began to echo throughout the hall. She knew it could only be He Who Must Not Be Named. It felt as if his words were going through her.
“…efforts are futile.”
There was her father’s friend Kingsley, standing with other adults whose faces she knew but whose names she couldn’t place.
“…teachers of Hogwarts. I do not…”
Felicity looked from one face to the other, seeing the same fear she felt mirrored in the other students. He Who Must Not Be Named was there when, two years ago, she had been told that he was dead. She was supposed to be safe but she knew that was no longer true, that it hadn’t been true with the Carrows around.
“Give me Harry Potter.”
Felicity’s eyes locked on Harry, seated, near the head table. She had seen him moving past the Gryffindor table, looking for someone. He was now seated near the top of the table, closest to where the teachers usually sat at dinner. She could feel every other face turning towards him too.
“You have until midnight.”
Vanessa had stopped crying. The second-year boy sitting across from her looked like he had been hit with a freezing jinx, his mouth wide open in shock. Then, from the Slytherin table, she heard that bratty seventh-year girl who had teased her about her hair screaming for people to grab Harry Potter. Felicity saw the adults move toward Harry, saw Angelina and two redhead boys move as well, and immediately hopped out of her seat to follow their lead. She could barely see over the taller Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, who also stood in front of the Gryffindors, in front of the boy she knew had the lightning-shaped scar.
Felicity craned her neck to see behind her. She could feel the crowd clearing out in front of her as McGonagall ordered the younger students out of the hall. She climbed up on one of the benches and saw Angelina coordinating with some of the older students and adults. “Angelina!!!” she screamed, to no avail. “Angelina!!!!” She felt hands grabbing her around her waist. Leanna, a fifth-year prefect, was picking her up off the bench.
“Felicity, we have to go upstairs,” she was shouting over the noise of the Hall. “We’re leaving.”
“I’ve got to get to my cousin!” Felicity screamed, fighting back tears. “She’ll tell me what to do.”
“I’m telling you what to do and we have to go.” Leanna set her on the ground and grabbed her hand, pulling her after her. Felicity turned her head, still frantically looking around for her cousin. The next thing she knew she was lost in a crowd of first and second years she didn’t know. Leanna had moved to the front of the pack, yelling directions to students behind her. It wasn’t until they had climbed the last set of stairs that she finally saw Angelina running past the statue of a troll.
“Angelina!” she stopped in her tracks.
“Felicity?” she called back. Felicity broke away from the rest of the group and ran full tilt into her cousin’s arms. Angelina hugged her tightly, then pulled away, holding her at arm’s length. “You have to go with the rest of the first years.”
“I know you want to stay, but you can’t. I need you to go with the rest of the first years. They are heading into Hogsmeade. You all will be safe there.”
“But, what about you?”
“I have to stay. I have to fight. We have to hold Hogwarts.”
“I can help! I can—“
“You haven’t even been taught to fight yet Cece.” Angelina leaned down to look at her, brown eyes as dark as hers, as she to be braver than she was. “I need you to go with the others. That way I’ll know you’ll be safe.”
“What about you? You won’t be safe.”
“No, I won’t be. But I have to stay. I have to fight. The Death Eaters are here and they are trying to get to all of us. I can’t let that happen. Promise me you’ll go into Hogsmeade.”
Felicity pulled back and looked at her big cousin. She knew this battle of wills between the two of them was already lost. What would be the point in making Angelina worry more, worry about her when the battle would be raging in the halls soon? She had to let her fight, even if this was a fight they all might lose. “Promise me you won’t stop fighting.”
Angelina smiled, “I won’t.”
“Then I’ll go,” Felicity said, head held high. She stepped away from her cousin, looking towards the crowd still rushing into the passageway.
“Angelina, we’re stationing ourselves over there, by the south window,” Fred Weasley called as he ran past, out of the room that Felicity was settling herself to walk in.
“Right behind you, Fred,” Angelina called. “I’ll see you when this is all over. Be brave for me. We’re Gryffindors right?”
“If I was really brave, I would stay.”
“Cece, there are different ways to be brave. Staying here when you can’t fight wouldn’t be brave, it would be stupid.” Felicity knew she was right. Staying would mean getting herself hurt. Or dead. And Angelina wouldn’t be able to fight knowing she was there.
“Ok,” she said. “Fight for me.”
“I always will,” Angelina said. Felicity turned resolutely away from her cousin and started running towards the passage, which turned out to be a huge room with hammocks everywhere. She took one last look back at her cousin, who was running towards the window. Angelina turned too and they exchanged one last glance before Felicity followed the last of the stragglers down the passage.