Nobody ever asked my birthday

Down to the Depths

Harry stepped inside the indicated door, finding the stairwell... dank.

He shut the door carefully, and took a step down, carefully - silently.

The stone was the general Hogwarts greystone, and it felt chill under his hand.

It was the vapors, though...

There was a smell down there...

No! A thousand smells, vivid and bright like a poison frog.

The humidity lay on Harry's skin like the India heat, oppressive and warm.

There was the scent of decay, of organic rot and rank.

Harry inhaled, as he took another step down.

It smelled of dun-green, and moss, and all manner of warm wet things.

None of it made sense for a Castle In Scotland - in the middle of winter.

With each tentative step, Harry could feel his surroundings getting wronger -

as if solid stone walls could fold away, and leave him completely surrounded...

Ten steps down, Harry finished the first circle of stairs.

His downward gaze found hummocks and hillocks, even a mangrove tree -

and everywhere the wet and dank...

Was that something moving?

Harry gulped, not wanting to take another step down.

He shook his head, chiding himself for being so silly. Of course there were living things down here! Snape had asked him to find one of them. His teachers had taught him that all living things were part of a network, that they lived together - and some said could even communicate.

What are you waiting for? Harry thought, the idea not fortifying his stomach the way it normally would.

He took another step, and another, his mind on the dangers of the much and mire.

He could be sucked down under quicksand - he could lose his shoes.

All of a sudden, he wanted his wand. Missed it, the reassuring weight.

Even if Snape was probably right that he'd just lose it forever down here.

In this stifling heat, Harry couldn't help but think that forever would be quite short, here.

Twenty-five steps down, Harry gingerly tested the ground in front of him, unsure if this was solid soil, or just the bones of trees, long dead.

If he stood on their bones, would they hold?

Or would they break, sending him plunging into black, sulphrous mud?

They held. Harry took another.

Goblin's gold moss wasn't aerial.

It lived in water...

Well, there was a lot of water here - all silty and muddy and mucky.

How was he ever going to find it here?

[a/n: Thoughts? Do leave a review!]