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Harry Potter: The Path of Indifference #2

How To Kill A Troll & Destroy a Howler

Early October

Defense Against the Dark Arts

Professor Quirrell scurried down the hall with his class in tow in the Hogwarts Turris Magnus, just off the Serpentine Corridor, not too far from the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. With a flick of his wand, the door to a classroom opened and they filed in and sat in the circling desks like a college room. Once all inside, he shut the door and extinguished the light, bathing the room in darkness.

“Now we are about to begin a special lesson on Dark Creatures,” the professor said. “This room is normally used for Ghouls Studies, but there hasn’t been enough interest lately to hold the class. It has a special material sprinkled about to make maintaining spectral species easier and the darkness will make it stand out.”

“Why aren’t you stuttering?” A student asked.

“Anti-Stuttering Potion,” he lied. The professor then conjured a pack of ghostly dogs with forked tails and white fog rolling off them in waves and licking the professor’s outfit as they illuminated the area around him before pacing the room.

“What you are seeing are a species of spectral dogs that only come out at night normally called Gytrash. They are renown creatures that have been known to appear on lone roads and help lost Muggles find their way or get them lost further, depending on their mood. Many are drawn to the location of Hogwarts because of the magic and several older students have had run-ins with natural forming ones on the grounds later at night.”

“If they’re spectral in nature, how can they harm us and be considered a Dark Creature?” Isobel MacDougal asked while trying to pet one that passed by. It looked at her and then settled down on her desk, where she could touch it and feel the cold sensation of its body. “Speaking of which, I can’t think of any spells that conjure spectral creatures—illusions maybe, but not these.”

“Actually, it is a spell of my own and most spectral creatures are able to give themselves a minor bit of substance to interact with the living, less than a poltergeist at any rate,” Quirrell said. “One of the benefits of Ghoul Studies was that it covered the theory behind it and other spectral creatures before Peeves drove the Instructor through a wall in madness.”

“Don’t you mean up a wall?” Harry asked.

The professor shook his head. “Literally. In my time, Peeves would pester whatever students attended until participation dropped and no one took it, canceling the class. Then something happened to Instructor, who put themselves through a wall with a spell…pity.”

I wonder if he can do bats, Harry mused to himself. A ghostly version of Albert would rule.

“So, does anyone know how to drive off a Gytrash?” Professor Quirrell asked. When a hand went up, he had one of them sit on the desk in front of the student. “Miss Edgecombe?”

Marietta Edgecombe pointed her wand and cast the spell, “Lumos!” A light appeared at the tip of her wand, driving the darkness of a small area away…while the Gytrash just sat there. “Okay, that’s supposed to work…”

“Ah, my conjurations are more resistant to the basic light spell because of several factors. They can roam around in the daylight should I wish it,” Quirrell added. “Anyone else? I’m not expecting a Patronus or anti-spectral spell, but something just a bit more powerful.”

This time both Harry and Stephen Cornfoot raised their hands and each was assigned a Gytrash.

Lumos Duo!” Stephen went first, casting a charged Lumos that connected his wands end to the blackboard and then ran an intense light through the Gytrash, scattering it into a cloud of vapor. He looked over to Harry and gave him an expression that seemed to say, ‘Beat that!’

Harry narrowed his eyes to and accepted the challenge, casting a spell taught by Sherry during the times she let him practice with her spare wand, “Lumos Solem!” An intense, bright beam of narrow light pierced his Gytrash through the forehead and euthanized it. He gave the other boy a glance with a smug smirk on his face.

“Good show, both of you,” Quirrell tipped his turban slightly to them. “Lumos Duo is an enhanced version of Lumos that can also be used to deal with Hinkypunks and normally taught third year. The other is a variation of the first that draws on a greater concentration of light in a tighter space. Ten points to Ravenclaw.”

The class proceeded with them taking notes on the creatures before letting out, where Quirrell held Harry behind. “Mister Potter, a word?”

Harry stayed put as the classroom emptied and asked, “Yes, Professor?”

“Over the last few weeks I’ve heard you’ve been getting into several arguments with your fellow Ravenclaws…some violent. Is that true?”

“They keep blowing me off when I ask for help because I don’t know something,” Harry said. “As for violent, Morag MacDougal hit me with a Full Body-Bind Curse and Pumpkin-Head Jinx (Melofors) before lighting the top of it with an Fire-Making Charm, claiming I was a new Halloween decoration. I felt spiking her goblet with a Bulgeye Potion and then hitting her with a Conjunctivitis Curse was simply paying evil unto evil…it just so happens that the nurse was out of Oculus Potion then.”

In Morag’s defense, he shouldn’t have laughed when a Devil’s Snare got too handsy. Professor Sprout wasn’t sure if it was trying to kill her or get to second base. Not that her sister didn’t have a good chuckle later.

The professor nodded. “Retaliatory pranks aside, it was much like that during my time in that house. It is a fatal flaw of Ravenclaws to horde our knowledge and lead academically, to the point of competitiveness. Much like Gryffindors are known for rushing in without thinking, Hufflepuffs for being neutral in conflict, and Slytherins for being cunning and occasionally backstabbing. ”

“It doesn’t help that I’m not going along with Ron and Gene managing to get most of the Gryffindors of their year to see me as a traitor in their campaign to isolate the House Slytherin,” Harry added. Just because he found some of the knowledge and families there interesting, suddenly he was going dark. It was none of their business. “They aren’t helping their case by isolating them, which will only lead to the house eventually lashing back out.”

“Kids are cruel,” Quirrell agreed. “Unable to see the big picture in the long run. It is much the same with magic. I once asked myself, what truly separates Light and Dark from each other?”

“What’d you come up with?” Harry asked.

“Nothing,” he answered. “You can pretty it up as much as you want, but even light casts a shadow, and there is always light within the darkness. The two are opposites of the same coin, but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other. After all, the only difference is really just power and power doesn’t take sides.”

“Power is indiscriminate…” Harry muttered. “Yeah, it’s only the intent that drives it that taints it.”

“Power also commands respect. Isn’t that what you want Harry?” He asked. “You want to be respected, to not be looked down upon by your classmates for your interests or not yielding to their standards, and acknowledged as more that than the brother of the Boy-Who-Lived? To receive satisfaction from the fruits of your labor?”

Harry nodded enthusiastically and Quirrell offered him a scroll. “What’s this?”

“It’s the spell I created using some more…questionable sources of knowledge including Ghoul Studies,” he said. “It may be above your skill level, but if you can successfully make it work you can do more interesting things like use it as a method of spying and communication. If you are interested in further studies, I’ll teach you more on the magic and Dark Arts—both defensive and otherwise. Consider it like…an apprenticeship. ”

“With me?” Harry asked. “Why?”

“Because I was in your shoes before, disliked by many and helped by few,” he said. “But this arrangement is meant to be kept secret. You already have enough problems with the other Ravenclaws as is, no need to add fuel to the fire or risk it getting stolen…”

Harry nodded. Snape’s spells were stolen from his copy of a book he wrote as Sirius once mentioned, and they used that very same spell to bully him. Besides, outside of Terry and Isobel occasionally, none of the other Ravenclaws have been too forthcoming with their knowledge. Why should he spread it around?

“I accept!” Harry answered gleefully.


Time skip to Halloween.

Charms Class

“Who can tell me the difference between the Levitation Spell (Levioso) and the Levitation Charm (Wingardium Leviosa)?” Professor Flitwick asked. Two hands darted up, Padma Patil and Hermione Granger, who seemed to have hit it off with their studious nature. Sue Li, Ron, and Gene were next to them. “Miss Patil first, what are the differences in their origins.”

Padma cleared her throat and answered with, “The first was one of the first spells recorded in the wizarding world and created in Ancient England while the second was developed in 1544 by one Jarleth Hobart.”

“Correct!” He pointed his wand to Hermione next. “Miss Granger, what are the limitations of them both?”

“The first requires you to tap the object you want to float, but you can’t move it at all. While the second let’s you control where you float it remotely, but it doesn’t work on humans—just their clothing, which are doing the lifting.”

“Correct as well!” Flitwick conjured feathers for everyone to work with. “If you want to move a body with little to no clothing, there’s the Mobilicorpus or a similar spell. Now, everyone will try the Wingardium Leviosa and get the feather to float.”

They did so, with Harry struggling a bit. Gene got it down with ease, as did a few others like the MacDougal sisters, Hermoine, and Padma, but they were basically the only ones. Near the end of class, Harry overheard Ron offending Hermione as the class let out. Padma followed her out in hopes of offering some comfort.

After Quirrell came in during the Halloween Feast, Harry pulled aside Terry in order to retrieve Padma to get back to the common room. While he wasn’t really close to anyone barring Terry in the house, they seemed to be the only ones who remembered she had left to go after the Gryffindor. Worst case scenario was just losing points, which weren’t all that important to Harry.

As they turned the corner they bumped into Ron and Gene near the first floor girl’s bathroom. Harry looked at his brother and asked, “What are you two doing here?”

“It’s not in the dungeon, not anymore,” Ron said. “We just locked the troll in the bathroom.”

AHHHHH!” The screams of the two girls sent chills up all four of their spines as they realized that the bathroom was still occupied. They all got their wands out.

Alohomora!” Gene said, performing the Unlocking Charm, opening the door and showing that the girls were hunkered down in the last stall and the Troll had its club raised in the air to smash it.

Spongify!” Terry cast first. A pink bolt vacated the tip and the spell hit the club and turned it into little more than a giant foam bat…at least until the spell ran out.

As the Troll bashed his softened club against the stall it noticed it did no damage, bending back like it was made of rubber. Confused, it scratched its head and tried again. It wasn’t the smartest tool in the shed.

Relashio!” Harry casted the Revulsion Jinx, unleashing a purple burst of light that nailed the troll’s hand and forced it to release the club. He would have to thank Quirrell for the lesson in it. He followed it up with a Stinging Jinx, “Fodio!

It came out as a white flare bolt and stung the flesh, causing what would have been excruciating pain in a human, but against the massive backside it would do significantly less. So he fired a second time…at where he imagined the danglies would be. The troll howled and looked into the direction the quartet of boys were and glared with eyes that screamed bloody murder.

“Think I made it mad enough?” Harry asked, backing away slowly with the rest in a sense of panic at the creature three times his height and more than a bit miffed. It didn’t need a club to bash their heads in as it took a step towards them.

Terry swallowed. “Well, I can imagine I would be if I got hit there be that jinx.”

“Anyone got a plan?” Ron asked.

“Try not to die,” Gene answered.

“Anyone got a good plan?” Terry followed up.

“There’s only one thing we can do,” Harry finished. “Book it!”

The boys did the smart thing…they ran like Hell, screaming as the troll let out a roar and followed like a moving tank that was going to chase them down and crush them like grapes, until Gene used the Trip Jinx to buy them another three seconds. As they ran towards a split the troll continued to barrel after them as they made a turn, where Harry aimed at the floor and cast, “Glacius!

The spell conjured a blast of freezing cold air from the end of the wand, turning the moisture around it into white frost as it froze the floor and the troll slipped and skidded down the path further while they double backed to the direction of the bathroom to get the girls.

Padma waved them over further down the hall, while the troll followed and gained speed. They passed the opening of the bathroom when Hermione used Wingardium Leviosa on the club, now free of the Softening Charm and decided to go on the offense. She sent the club out like a low-beam and it crashed into it headfirst with the sound of splintering wood, a loud crack!

With it briefly stunned, Harry and pointed his wand at the dazed creature, gathering his magic and pushing the spell to the next level as it the orange light became deeper shade of red. “Flipendo Duo!

The red comet hit it square in the chest and sent it back three feet before it hit the ground with a loud thud that trembled across the hall a bit. Groggily it began to raise itself up again when the remnant of the club came down on its head with a final thump and knocked it out. Hermione gave it a huff and ran over to the others.

Terry breathed deeply along with rest, gathering his thoughts and then looked at Harry. He asked, “When did you learn that one?”

“Extra practice…” Harry huffed out the half-truth, not mentioning Quirrell taught him how to power up certain spells with an additional charge time. The adrenaline was still coursing through his veins from the unexpected chase. Good thing he jogged to work on his cardio. “I’ll teach you later, but does anyone know how to bind it before it wakes up cranky?”

“Leave that to us,” a stern voice came from behind them and they turned to see the face of Professor McGonagall, Headmaster Dumbledore, and Professor Flitwick, who all looked less than pleased, along with a few others. Thirty seconds later the troll was bound in ropes, levitating in the air and about ready to be escorted out of the castle as she begun laying into the group in general and asking what happened.

Hermione and Padma lied through their teeth saying they went looking for the troll to beat it and taking some of the heat off of the boys, but you can imagine that the three were less than forgiving with their actions.

Dumbledore covered it best. “Both houses will receive 20 house points for sticking together and looking out for one another. However, while I am proud to see students standing together, your recklessness could have been the death of you. I am sorry, but we will have to give you all detention for at least a week and notify your parents.”

“Mum’s going to kill me…” Ron muttered as both parties were led to their respective common rooms.

“She can only kill you if you’re alive,” his Head of House told him. “You should be glad you will be capable of having such a discussion.”

Once back in the Ravenclaw Common Room, Sue Li went up to her friend and engaged in girl talk to make sure Padma was okay, looking her over. Michael Coroner and Anthony Goldstein took Terry aside to get the details for him, leaving Harry by his lonesome as he sat in front of the fire and stared at his hand. It wouldn’t stop shaking, even now that the high of moment was gone.

It was his first real life-or-death situation and now that things were calming down he could see the various ways they all could’ve been killed. They got lucky and he knew it. He couldn’t release the wand from his grip until Padma laid her hand on him.

He released his grasp in shock and it fell next to him. “What?”

“Why’d you help us?” she asked. “I didn’t help you for your assignment and yet…”

“You didn’t deserve to die like that for simply not helping me,” Harry told her. “Granted, you should thank Terry and the others when you get a chance, but it wasn’t worth letting a student die simply because I was there and chose to do nothing. I had a wand, I saw a chance, and I took it.”

“About that time in Transfiguration…” Padma trailed off as she bit her lips. “Morag’s family has been attending for generation after generation here and has a long history and much wealth, so she has a lot of clot. When she put out the word that no one was to help you, we had to listen among our year.”

“No, you chose to listen,” Harry corrected her. “You could ignore her. What’s the worse she could do—she’s the same grade as you are. At best all she could do would be minor bullying, which I’ve demonstrated time and time again how to respond to that: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and hex for a hex.”

“And if I did, then I would be isolated from the rest of the house,” she pointed out. “The sheep that stands out is the one that gets picked off by the wolf.”

“Professor Flitwick mentioned that House Ravenclaw was also known for individuality a while back, yet how much of that has been seen so far? You have to ask yourself, is it worth being part of the crowd of sheep led by a shepherd and cowing before them in fear?” Harry asked before picking up his wand and heading to get some sleep.

Two days later and the entire school was still abuzz with questions about the Troll and how a couple of students managed to beat it. Most chalked it up to the Boy-Who-Lived while others claimed dumb luck. None of it really mattered when they came:

Howlers—the tools of the devil itself. Born only to bring humiliation and suffering, Harry watched as they laid into his brother and Ron, one from Lily and Molly respectively. How he hated those things…and then Gene’s came flying over to him.

“—AND YOU, HARRY POTTER! HOW DARE YOU JOIN HIM IN MESSING WITH A TROLL RATHER THAN LEAVING IT TO THE PROFESSORS! NOT TO MENTION ALL THE FIGHTS AND DETENTIONS YOU’VE BEEN GETTING! WE’VE RAISED YOU BETTER THAN THAT! WHEN YOU GET BACK WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A LONG DISCUSSION ABOUT—”

As the howler went on, Harry found his eye twitching in annoyance and raised his wand to freeze it when Terry grabbed his wrist and stopped him.

“Howlers are highly resistant to most spells for a reason,” he told him. “It’s pointless. You’ll only make it worse.”

“Well, I know what I’m doing with my free time now,” Harry said with certainty. “I’m going find a way to get rid of Howlers. If spells won’t work, I bet potions will. All the same, I’m not going home for Winter Break.”

After the humiliation had ended and Harry shot several members of his house dirty looks for their snarking, breakfast wrapped up with Hermione apologizing for him getting in trouble to help her, but Harry simply said to think nothing of it.

That night, a white fruit bat came in through the window, causing some of the kids to panic as it buzzed around, until it clung to the underside of Terry’s bunk. Harry recognized it as Albert and it gave him a minor squeak. Harry took the letter it had attached, before it flew off.

Sherry must’ve promised him an entire pineapple for him to come all the way here, Harry thought. When he noticed the people in the dorms staring he said, “What? Never seen an albino bat before?”

“No…” Anthony Goldstein said. “Pretty sure we haven’t. Who’s the late mail from?”

“Just a friend who would rather remain anonymous,” Harry said, opening the envelope and finding a letter written on notebook paper. It was Sherry alright and read:

Dear Harry,

Mr. Weasley told me about what happened in your school and I have got to say, you seemed to have jumped up on the scale if you’re going from dealing with bullies to trolls. I’m glad you’re alright, but you should be more careful. Anyway, now that I think about it our usual Christmas exchange will be coming around in soon.

Be good and I’ll get you a present delivered since I’ll be out of the country. Is there anything in particular you want?

Sincerely,

~S

Harry proceeded to burn the letter with the Fire-Making Charm so no one else read it, having memorized the contents. He couldn’t think of anything physical he would like, but he’d always wanted to learn the Bedazzling Hex. He’d ask her about later.


Some Time Later

“Miss Turpin, escort Miss Fawcett to the infirmary. I have no time to deal with students that can’t even follow simple instructions on making an Antidote to Common Poisons. Ten points from Ravenclaw and detention for both of you.” Snape said with a dulled tone.

“That’s unfair!” Lisa said. “Someone tampered with our potion!”

“Unfair is that we wasted perfectly good Unicorn Horn when the number of the beasts inside the forest have dwindled,” he responded coolly. “And for that outburst, take another ten off.”

Potions was the same as always, Snape being a hardass on everyone. That included Harry, but at least he wasn’t singled out for humiliation anymore. Everyone suffered in the man’s class, but as long as your potions were decent he rode you less…just a little less.

“Freeze, Younger MacDougal,” he said, coming over to Mandy Brocklehurst and Isobel’s spot since she had paired up with her today. She had berries in her hand. “You failed to stir clockwise twice. Had you of added those Mistletoe Berries it would be substandard.”

“Sorry, Professor Snape,” she said.

He raised his nose slightly and said, “It may be more trouble than it’s worth, but you and your sister seem to be one of the few above the level of dunderheads the rest of your year are, all houses included. Substandard when dealing with antidotes can be fatal and I expect nothing less than Hospital-grade potions from one of your caliber.”

“Wouldn’t be easier to shove a bezoar down their throats?” Mandy asked.

“Yes, but unfortunately that isn’t on the curriculum…now, get to stirring.”

Class continued with Harry and Terry working to make several vials of the antidote. It was barely Hospital-grade while Snape made a comment that perhaps he should split them up to see if they only work at a passable grade with each other. Harry stayed behind to talk to the professor on his pet project.

“You are thinking an Explosive Potion, Ravenclaw Potter and while I am certain it would be useful, it would cause too much collateral damage even at a minor amount and as such the material isn’t taught in Hogwarts nor would it be allowed, although…” Snape trailed off, waiting for Harry to get a pen and pocket notebook out. “Should you manage to actually get your hands on the instructions for such a thing, I would recommend substituting the five drops of venom from a Streeler for the crushed spider remains and Bundimun Solution diluted to about a fifth of its potency per vial for the frozen catalyst…”

“Got it,” Harry said as he finished jotting it down.

“Now, go bother someone else.” Snape said as he kicked him out of the room. He gave him alternatives, but he would still need the potion instruction himself. Not to mention how to harvest the ingredients, as well as store them and brew them.

It was a challenge and Harry accepted.

Bundimun were multi-eyed fungi that fed off the dirt in the lower dungeons in the bottom of the castle, so he could easily get their venom when he had to go to detention later—provided it didn’t burn him—and then keep it in a jar or something after having a teacher charm it to be unbreakable. As for the Steeler, those were on the grounds and he knew Magical Menagerie had sold them as pets since they changed colors hourly.

“There’s another unused bathroom can probably be used to brew the solu—” He was cut off when he was jerked into a side hall by one Gregory Goyle.

“We need to talk Potter!” Goyle ordered.

“Hello Goyle,” Harry said, mildly put off by being jacked up. “How can I help you?”

“I heard Professor Snape calling you the Potter with a brain during our last session with Gryffindor. You’re doing my homework for potions, or else…” He let the threat linger.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Okay, first off I don’t deal with threats well. I’m in a perfect position to kick you in the nads if you keep it up. Second, I’ll help you do it because I don’t have a reason not to, providing you scratch my back. I’m not doing it for you because I know Snape can tell if someone cheats. I don’t know how, but I know he does.”

Goyle scoffed…while repositioning himself to avoid a kick to the groin. “What do you want for your help?”

“Well, putting me down for starters,” Harry pointed out and waited until he did. “Second, I know your family is an older one and has access to some books with interesting things. I want to borrow a few to make some notes.”

“Easier said than done,” Goyle said. “My family isn’t a fan of yours and if it gets out, I’ll be the one paying for it.”

“Relax, I know what I’m doing,” Harry told him. “Here’s the deal, get a book on potions that has Exploding Potion instructions for me to copy down and I’ll help tutor you in potions for the next three classes. If you still need help after that, we’ll talk hexes and curses next. Deal?”

“Deal,” he grunted. “But I’d better do better than Vincent, otherwise I’m coming for you…”

“Yes, yes,” Harry waved the threat off again. Well, Crabbe is the more intelligent of the pair of lackeys Draco keeps around. Goyle must feel threatened. I’m going to have think of a way to teach him potions that even a dunderhead can get…

With that said, both went along their way.


Later

“Are you alright Professor?” Harry asked, meeting with Quirrell after his lunch since he didn’t have classes in the afternoon once again. Quirrell was limping after he had an accident during the troll event.

The Ravenclaw graduate merely brushed it off and said, “I’m fine. Go ahead and show me your progress.”

Phasmatis Canis!” Harry casted, pouring his magic into the conjuration as phantasmal fog gathered and condensed to form the Gytrash.

“Well done,” Quirrell told him. It looked more like a puppy, but he still got the spell. That was what mattered. “It is a bit underdeveloped, but advanced conjuration is actually a sixth-year and above course.”

“I stink at Transformation, yet I get Conjuration, despite both being in the same field of Transfiguration,” Harry stated. “How weird is that?”

“That just means you were suited for this after all,” Quirrell answered. “Now try to link to it using the Oppugno Jinx to take direct control of it—imagine your wand linking to it like a leash in this case. While the Jinx normally is used to direct an attack, it works as you will it…like a low powered Imperius curse mostly, but no added bonuses.”

Harry did the spell and led it around by his will, like it was on a leash. “What about getting it to interact with stuff?”

“The Substantive Charm weaved into it will do that, but it will only work on your own spectral conjuring. Once you get that down you’ll be able to have it interact with the living world properly since it will have substance.”

That sounded good to Harry. “Can you change the spell to conjure a different animal?”

“Yes, but you’d need to understand the biology to get the details right.” Quirrell lectured him. “That’s why I included that diagram inside the notes I gave you rather than just the spell itself.”

They continued to work on the conjuring spell and then some more practical ones from his text until Harry had to leave out for supper. He couldn’t maintain the Substantive Charm for prolonged periods and it failed half the time, and his Shield Charm was so fragile that it broke apart on impact or didn’t come out, but baby steps were needed. They were advanced charms after all.

“I have an assignment I want you to accomplish for me,” Quirrell stated before Harry left the room. “In exchange I’ll teach you a physical shield spell, which is something you could benefit from.”

“What about Protego?” Harry asked. “We just spent an half-and-a-hour practicing it?”

“The Shield Charm is the standard defensive spell but it has limits,” Quirrell said, having received the whisperings of his master of a suitable spell and made a movement while muttering ‘Cotego Argenti,‘ causing a shield to gleam with silver and appear before him. “Take for instant the Killing Curse. It cannot be blocked by a Shield Charm, but a physical presence could and the Silver Shield could stop nearly anything your opposition could throw, physical or magical.”

“Is that so?” Harry asked.

“Indeed,” Quirrell said. “The main downside is that it can’t deflect spells, only block them, and the range is limited. It’s not something I would normally expect a first-year to pull off, but since you’ve got talent for conjuration I figured why not? All I ask if for you to do this assignment discreetly…”

He went on to give Harry the assignment to go through during the winter break, where it would be the best time to act.


Time Skip to Winter Break – Hagrid’s Hut

The sound of Fang barking as Hagrid opened the door shook Harry’s bones as he greeted the giant. “Hey Hagrid!”

“Harry! What are yeh doing here at this time?” Hagrid asked as he invited him in.

“Is it wrong to want to spend the Holidays with someone interesting?” Harry asked, taking a seat in the hut and trying not to grunt when Fang placed his head in his lap. “Hagrid, have you considered something lighter…like a bob cat?”

“No cats. Allergic to ’em,” the Keeper of the Keys said with a sniffle. “I haven’t seen ya since the sorting, but you’ve gotten bigger. I heard yeh were being a handful this year. Must be hard on yeh parents.”

“Not really,” Harry said. “Hagrid, when was the last time you saw me together with my parents or brother?”

“Erm…I know this,” he scratched his head. “It was that day the Percy Weasley had to be escorted to Hogwarts after he missed the train because o’ his brothers an’ the underwear thing!”

“That was two years ago,” Harry told him. “Since then, you would be hard pressed to find me with them. Between their own tasks and my brother, they have no time for me and rarely notice when I’m gone for long periods of time. Otherwise they would have kicked up a fuss about me not coming home for the winter. I’d rather spend it here, where I can make up for lost time and get some practice with my wand.”

“Not really in the spirit of the holiday, ’tis it?” Hagrid muttered.

“I know,” Harry said, before changing the topic. “Say Hagrid, if you could get a Christmas gift, anything in the world, what would it be?”

“A dragon, I think,” Hagrid said. “I raised many a critter, but never one of ’em. What about you?”

Harry mulled the thought over. “I don’t know…I really don’t. Normally I’m just happy getting a new spell and preparing for the future. I met someone who got me interested in what I wanted to be when I became an adult and I’m trying to look at the big picture ahead of all these years, but it’s not the clearest thing around.”

“You’re stretching yourself thin Harry,” Hagrid said. “Trust me, from the perspective o’ someone who technically never made of the end of their education. These are the best years of yeh life. Don’t waste them getting into trouble like I did.”

Harry tilted his head at that. “Trouble?”

“Nevermind,” Hagrid said, taking another sip of his drink. “On a bit o’ good news, I’m thinking about taking on the role of Care of Magical Creatures soon. The professor there is thinking about retiring soon. I say a year or two…”

“That job is all but a given for you,” Harry told him.

They went on to chat about mild things before he departed the hut to report back to Quirrell. He didn’t know why Quirrell needed the information about Hagrid’s most wanted desire, but it was actually nice spending time with the big guy. He also noted Hagrid getting dodgy after muttering something about giant dogs liking music when he wondered if he should take up a relaxing hobby, but he dropped it.

The days went on after he left and Christmas came about in Hogwarts.

Harry received an pendant ocarina from Hagrid as a thanks for his visit, his parents sent cash since they didn’t know what to get him, Sherry sent him a small pouch with a charm on it that would let it hold more on the inside and a copy of the page for the bedazzling hex, the Weasleys sent a sweater, and a violet scarf from Quirrell.

He also received the notes for the Silver Shield spell, handwritten by Quirrell for telling him about a Dragon that was Hagrid’s greatest desire, but sadly, the new spells were going to take a while to get down properly. Still, as long as he still had practice with the Ravenclaw graduate he would learn more spells, gain more knowledge, and therefore more power.

And with power came satisfaction and respect.

He looked up to Quirrell in a manner of speaking. A role model. Someone he could trust.

What could go wrong?

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