Down the hall, up the moving staircase as it spun, jumping the last ten feet from case to case, hoping that she was on the right track. Pushing her way through the throngs of students hurrying to their next class, a salmon swimming upstream. The gong chimed, and she groaned. I’m going to be late, on top of it all. No homework, lame story to support why I don’t have it with me, lamer promise to have it in later . . . I should have joined in the exploding strip snap tournament last night. At least I would have been able to show off my new green stockings.
The halls emptied around her. She had no idea which classroom she’d find Philandra in; she hadn’t even finished the basic Transfiguration courses, much less sat for her OWL to move on to the advanced studies. “Carp!!!” It was one of the Forgiveable Curses, and a current favorite in the Dungeon. “Carp, carp, carp!” She stamped her foot. “I need to find Philandra Duntisborn right now,” she announced to the air at large, pacing the hall. You never know, there might be a house elf zooming around in a flowered chair who’d point the way; a flaming arrow might appear labeled “This way to Advanced Transfiguration; or maybe . . . A door appeared in the blank hallway where a door had most certainly not been before. Spike stood and stared at it.
A plain and ordinary door. Not bound in brass bands, not three times a person’s height, not carved with grinning demons’ faces. Just a door, of good serviceable oak, gleaming with oil but hardly polished, with a plain brushed brass knob. If you looked for a picture of an ordinary door, this would be right there in the top ten. Spike was instantly suspicious of it.
She approached softly, as if it were an ill-tempered griffin, warily reaching out to touch the knob. No showers of sparks, no fanged mouth opening, no pit yawning beneath her feet. Cool and round in her hand, turning easily and soundlessly. Unlocked, even. Now comes the trap, right?
She pushed the door open, and was immediately facing not only Philandra but three other students, along with their wands, drawn and ready. Pointed directly at her.