Chapter Graphic: sauerkraut_poet
Beta Read By: Rebekka and Wiccan
Rating/Warnings: 15+ (mild violence)
For the Staff: I know Ogg's a character most people don't even think about, but I enjoyed writing him more than perhaps any other character. So I hope that all of you, especially those staff members who sometimes feel annoyed at the general population of HPFF, will enjoy reading about him.
For those of you who are canon sticklers, I have to apologize for
one detail in this fic. On the Black Family Tree which was released earlier this year, Phineas Nigellus' sister Elladora does not have a husband or children. I had originally written the scene in the fic which involves Phineas' relatives using his son Cygnus' family instead, but had to change it when I realized that they were in the wrong generation, and wouldn't be old enough at the time the story takes place. Hopefully you will all forgive me and just enjoy the story. =)
I have now changed this chapter back to the original version using Cygnus' family, because I felt it fit better to use the existing characters on the tree than to make up new OC's just for the sake of the dates on the tree, which are in some cases a little questionable anyway. If you are attatched to the dates on the Black Family Tree, please forgive me for ignoring them.
Thanks to both Wiccan and Rebekka for betaing this story for me. Your advice worked wonders here, and I couldn't have done it without either of you. And of course, another big thanks to the staff for all your hard work. I've singled out specific staff I'd like to thank in the previous chapter, but I'd like to note that this particular graphic was greatly inspired by Violet's artwork and her wonderful chapter graphic tutorial. Thanks so much for all your help, as always!
Apprentices. Bloody useless gits. Don’t know why they’re forcing me to take one. I never had anyone teaching me anything. How’d they expect me to start teaching now?
It’s all Dumbledore’s doing, I know it. Him with his sickeningly cheerful smile. Probably thinks he’s doing me a favor, getting a young lad to help ‘carry my load.’ Well, he’s not. I may be getting old, but I’m not weak. Dippet knows that. Dippet trusts me. Well, maybe not anymore – he must’ve approved the apprenticeship, after all.
Useless – all of them. Can’t they see I’m better off alone? Bloody humans never caused me anything but misery. Spent my whole life trying to escape from them. I remember full well. Not that I want to. I’ve tried so hard to forget, it’s almost as if the memory belongs to someone else now.
After his guardian’s death, the young man knows that he can not remain where he is. Yet, he has no desire to re-enter human society. He has pushed all memories of such a life out of his mind. So he takes his pet thestral, Arimbi, and sets off through the forest.
For a while they survive on berries, fish, and small mammals, but as the weather grows colder, he knows that they will have to find shelter before winter sets in. All through the autumn, he takes animals which Arimbi has hunted and sells them at the village market. The money is just enough to guarantee him a stable to sleep in and one meal a day each for him and Arimbi until spring.
The next year, hunting is good, and the young man makes enough to afford two meals a day during the winter. His new life is hard, but he is happy enough. In the spring, however, Arimbi finds a mate, and soon there are a number of thestral chicks to look after. Much of the hunt must go to them, and there is less time to spend at market. Yet, somehow, they survive.
As the chicks mature, they learn to hunt for themselves, and eventually for their younger brothers and sisters. However, as Arimbi’s brood grows, they become restless. The forest is not big enough for all of them. The young man knows that he must find another place for his herd.
He could simply sell them; he knows that thestrals fetch a high price. Arimbi was actually given to his late guardian in payment of a debt. Yet, his hatred of humans prevents him from doing so. He will not subject his beloved animals to enslavement at the hands of such a foul race.
Although he himself is human, he has ignored the fact for so long that he has almost forgotten it. He does not define himself in terms of species; he simply exists. Yet, this does not stop him from categorizing and stereotyping others. He does not do so consciously; it is just the only way he knows how to think.
As the man, now in his early twenties, sits pondering this by a stream, he fails to notice a lone figure creeping through the forest. Only at the sound of enraged squawks does he realize that something dreadful has happened. Following the noise, he discovers Arimbi’s youngest daughter, Salta, immobilized by a man who is now levitating her through the forest.
“Stop right there!” the young man cries. “What do you think you’re doing?”
The older man, known to the world as Mercurius Lovegood, turns around in surprise.
“I’m sorry,” he apologizes. “I didn’t realize it belonged to you.”
“She belongs to no one,” growls the young man. “She is my friend and companion, and dwells with me of her own accord.”
Mercurius Lovegood blinks in confusion. Like most humans, he sees animals as lesser beings to be controlled. He cannot understand why his fellow man speaks of the thestral as an equal. Yet, he senses the young man’s physical strength, and hurries to release the animal before incurring his wrath further.
Once freed, Salta rushes to the young man’s side, burying her mane in his shoulder.
“The thestrals like you,” Mercurius observes. As he watches them, a plan forms in his mind.
“I breed and sell thestrals,” he begins, somewhat tentatively. The young man shows no sign of having heard him.
“Now that my business has expanded, I’ve been looking for a good trainer. I’d pay good money for someone to look after my thestrals and keep them in good shape. What do you say?”
“I’m not leaving them,” the young man responds gruffly, “and I’m certainly not going to move. I enjoy my solitude. I’ve a good reason for staying away from humans this long. No sum of money’s making me go back.”
“You wouldn’t have to come out of isolation,” Mercurius persists. “I can have a cottage built for you next to the pasture, far away from human habitation. You would only have to see the thestrals. Please? They may grow ill without an experienced caretaker.”
The young man pauses, thinking. As much as he hates humans, he can not bear to think of the poor thestrals suffering from maltreatment by men who care little for their well-being.
“What about these thestrals here?” he inquires. “I’m not going without them, but there’s no way I’m letting you sell them either.”
Mercurius sighs. He can think of only one way out of this mess. “They may come with you and live with my animals. A small amount will be deducted from your salary to pay for their food. I will make it clear to my customers that they are not for sale.”
After another hour or so of persuasion, the young man agrees. Luckily, his new job turns out better than he expected. He no longer has to worry about having enough food, or finding shelter in the winter. The thestrals are happy under his care, and he enjoys their company. Arimbi’s older children are able to find mates.
As much as the young man dreaded returning to ‘civilization,’ he now finds himself less in contact with humans than he was previously, when necessity required him to sell fish and meat at market. Now, he only sees men perhaps twice a year – whenever one comes to inquire about the purchase of a thestral.
True, he is completely dependent on Mercurius Lovegood’s good fortune and generosity, a thought which bothers him to great extent. As is his wont with unpleasant truths, he shoves it from his mind. It is better to be content than to dwell on the inconveniences of necessity.
The man enjoys this life of peace and prosperity for approximately fifteen years. Then, one day, strange men appear at his door. Mercurius Lovegood has died. They are going to sell the thestrals. He will have to find a new job.
The man argues with them. Twelve of the thestrals are his, not Lovegood’s. They demand paperwork. He does not understand. Why must he have a piece of parchment in order to take the thestrals with him? He can barely remember how to read, let alone write. So they accuse him of trying to steal valuable property from his late master. “Filthy Squibs,” they say. “Can’t trust them one minute.” They tell him that he should be grateful they haven’t thrown him in Azkaban. Nasty place, that is.
In the end, it is Lovegood’s housekeeper that saves him from a lifetime of poverty, and rescues half of his friends. Although he has never seen nor spoken to her, she is the only human alive that knows the truth behind his claim to the thestrals. Yet, she herself is a Squib, and knows better than to argue with the authorities. That will just get her into trouble as well as the man she seeks to protect. Long years have taught her to be practical, so she does the most sensible thing she can think of – she contacts her brother.
Herculeha Dippet is luckier than most Squibs, and certainly far luckier than the thestrals’ caretaker. She has not been disowned by her family. Indeed, she is especially close to her younger brother, Armando, who conveniently happens to be Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Somehow, Herculeha convinces her brother to not only buy six of the thestrals, but to employ a certain caretaker for them as well. At first, Armando does not wish to do so, but relents when she insists that the man will be able to care for all the animals in the vicinity. The new Care of Magical Creatures professor has expressed a desire to incorporate a greater amount of hands-on experience into her classes, and Dippet could use a gamekeeper to look after them.
The man does not wish to go to Hogwarts. Each and every student serves as a reminder of what he once yearned for, but never achieved. But he does not yearn for it anymore. He has learned to perceive humans as despicable beings. In this too, the students’ presence angers him. There are too many of them, always there. Even in his hut on the edge of the forest, he misses his former solitude. Yet, he accepts the job because it is his only choice.
I’m happy with my job now, though. Got used to the noise. Students mostly just ignore me. I ignore them, best I can. Never go near the castle if I can help it. Only been there three times, when Dippet wanted to see me in his office.
Most of the time, I’m outside. Love the forest. Students are too scared to go near it. Spoiled brats. I don’t have any of their magic powers, but I’m not afraid. What’s there to be afraid of? I like the animals, they like me. Simple as that.
In the evenings, I return to my hut. It’s not much of a place, but it’s all I need. Don’t really use it other than to eat and sleep in anyway. I cook my own meals – can’t stand the fancy rubbish they serve in that dining hall. Too rich.
I know the students laugh and joke about it. But what do I care? What do they know about me, anyway? Bloody humans. They’ve had everything handed to them on a silver platter, haven’t they? Nice homes, nice parents, learning how to do fancy stuff with their wands. Never occurred to them that some people have to fight to survive.
It’s their loss, anyway. Doubt they’d last more than a few days in an old forest with no food, no shelter, no magic. Someone takes their wand, they don’t know how to live anymore. Can’t take care of themselves. They think they’re all powerful with all their fancy spells, but I’m the one with real power. It’s me who lived in that forest for years, with no possessions apart from the clothes on my back and my hunting knife. None of them have the power to do that.
It’s not as if anyone appreciates it, though. Don’t even realize the truth. Wouldn’t care if they did. No point in telling them. Don’t want to talk to them anyway. Don’t want to see them. Why can’t they just leave me alone? Why force me to endure their company?
Bloody apprentices. Invading my solitude. Contaminating my hut with their bloody human-ness. Why can’t they send him off somewhere else? Why dump him on me? There’s a reason I’ve kept to myself. Why can’t they see that? Why can’t they let me be?
What can I do, though? Can’t quit the job now. Nowhere to go. Don’t want to leave the animals; I need them and they need me. They’re all I’ve got in this bloody world. Always have been.
Wish I could be with them now. Instead, I’m sitting on the grass in front of my hut, thinking. Not what I’d like to be doing, but I don’t have a choice now, do I? Got to wait for Dumbledore to bring the ruddy useless creature here for ‘instruction’. Don’t know why Dippet couldn’t have done it. Not important enough for him, I suppose. You’d think ruining my life would be of some importance, wouldn’t you? Guess that shows how much he thinks of me. Not that I think much of him either. He’s a human, after all.
That’s them coming now. Blimey, the boy’s big. Dippet better be giving him somewhere else to sleep – don’t think he’d fit in the hut even if I wanted him there. Which I don’t. They better not be expecting me to cook for him, either. It’s enough work feeding myself without the addition of that mountain of a boy.
“Ogg! How wonderful to see you. I trust you are keeping well?”
Stupid Dumbledore. Why bother with the pleasantries? They just waste time. Maybe if I glare at him enough, he’ll get the point. Doubt it, though. He never has. He’s still waiting for me to say something. Well, I won’t oblige. Got nothing to say to him.
“Well, I shall take that as a yes, then.”
Bloody git. Still smiling, is he? At least the boy looks properly depressed. Maybe he’ll leave me be.
“As you might have guessed, this is your new apprentice, Rubeus Hagrid. Hagrid, I trust you know Ogg, Hogwarts Gamekeeper?”
Boy seems to be fighting back tears. Pretty weak for such a big lump. I’ve never cried. Not since I became Ogg, anyway.
The boy cannot help but scream as he opens his eyes to reveal what looks like a hideously deformed face looming over him, illuminated only by candlelight. Vaguely he is aware of a blanket covering his body, but that does not interest him nearly as much as his surroundings. He lies in one corner of a cavern of dark, dank stone, with not a window in sight. He can make out the outline of a rickety table and two chairs in the dim light, but nothing more.
His first instinct is to wonder whether or not he’s awake, and if he is, how he came to be in this strange and frightening place. As his alertness increases, he begins to recall memories of the previous night: running, always running. He had given no thought to his destination. All he knew was that he needed to get as far away as he could, as fast as possible.
Now, he wonders how he has ended up in this cave. He does not remember much about his surroundings as he ran; just that he ran into the wilderness, as far away from the city and his former home as possible.
“W-where am I,” he finally asks through chattering teeth. They shake more from anxiety than cold. Because he cannot help himself, the boy adds, “and what are you?”
“My name is Menuk. I’m a goblin. This is my cave.”
“A g-goblin?” The boy’s eyes widen in fear.
“Ungrateful wretch, aren’t you?” Menuk replies bitterly. “I bring you in out of the cold, give you shelter, and this is how you thank me? Humans – I should have known you’d be just like the rest.”
“No – wait!” the boy exclaims. “Please – I’m sorry, I really am – please don’t make me leave.”
“And why not? Clearly you don’t want to stay with an old goblin like me.”
“I-I’m not like the rest. Please believe me. I’ve been shunned by the rest of them, all because I can’t do magic. I can’t go back there. I need somewhere to hide.”
“Well, you’re not staying here free. You’ll have to work for your keep. I’m not rich, you know. Barely make enough to feed myself as it is.”
The boy swallows nervously. He is not used to work; in the past he has had a house-elf to do everything for him. Now, however, he does not have a choice.
“That’s fine. I can work.”
“Good. We’ll start the day after tomorrow then; you could use some time to rest up a bit. Looked bloody battered when I found you.”
“W-where did you find me?” the boy asks tentatively.
“Near the hedges by the edge of the valley. Scratches and bruises all over. Nothing too serious, though. Looked like you’d collapsed from exhaustion.”
“Well, thank you again…sir.”
“It’s Menuk. No reason to call me ‘sir’ around here.”
“Right. Thanks, Menuk.”
“Welcome. What am I supposed to call you, anyway?”
“Er…” the boy falls into silence. He has been forbidden under pain of death to speak his former name, yet he has no other.
“I don’t have a name,” he finally replies.
“Well, then pick one!” Menuk exclaims impatiently. “Boy your size has to be called something.”
The boy thinks for a minute. How can he possibly decide on a name for himself? What names does he even know, besides those of his former family?
“Can you pick a name for me?” he eventually begs. “I really can’t.”
Pausing for a few minutes, Menuk looks the boy over carefully.
“Ogg,” he finally declares.
The boy looks at him in puzzlement. “Ogg is a name for a giant,” he argues, “not a Squib like me.”
“No matter,” says Menuk. “To us goblins, you are a giant. And it is with us your future lies.”
It’s one of my few fond memories; the beginning of my hatred for humans. And I still hate them, to this day. Goblins are much less discriminatory. Much easier to communicate with as well. Often you don’t even need words. Humans are clueless when it comes to facial expressions.
Maybe I’m getting better at glaring, though. Dumbledore actually left without me having to say a word. Still need some practice, though. I guess I can practice on the apprentice – show him who’s in charge. About the only thing he’s good for. Besides, he looks like he could use a little intimidation.
Bloody git. Can’t he learn to keep quiet? Well, the glaring doesn’t seem to be having much of an effect on him.
“No one calls me sir
. Bloody demeaning term – makes me feel human
. It’s Ogg, you hear me?”
The boy looks confused. Maybe I’ve finally scared him.
“R-right. Well, Professor Dumbledore said that you was goin’ ter show me aroun’ the forest and stuff.”
“Did he? Well, that’s news, it is. Don’t know why he’d want me to do that. It’s not as if you’ll be needing to go in there much.”
“Er… won’ I? Aren’ I going ter be yer apprentice or summat?”
“Look, I never wanted any apprentices! Don’t even know what an apprentice does
. Why couldn’t you have just gone home to your parents?”
Bloody hell! Now the lad’s starting to cry in earnest. Pathetic. Well, I guess I’ll have to say something. Boy won’t shut up otherwise.
“What’re you crying for? I just asked a simple question!”
“I-I’m sorry… it’s just… when yeh said parents… it made me miss him, that’s all.”
“My dad. Great man. Died a year ago. Glad he wasn’ around ter see me get expelled, though…”
Now he’s started a fresh wave of tears. Won’t he ever stop? I can’t stand people crying. Bloody irritating, it is.
“So what about your mother? Why can’t she look after you? Is she dead too?”
“N-no… dunno where she is. No one knows, really. Dad said she went back ter live with the rest of them.”
Darn it. I’m starting to get curious.
“Rest of who
He’s starting to look around nervously for some reason. Now he’s leaning towards me, like he wants to whisper something. Why can’t he just bloody well say it?
“The g-giants, sir.”
The fact that he called me sir
again doesn’t even register. Giants?
So the boy isn’t fully human. Well, that’s a nice change. Maybe he won’t be so bad after all. Sure, he’s been crying, but I suppose I cried more than I’d care to remember, before I began my life as Ogg.
A boy of eleven years sits on an ornately carved bench, gazing pleadingly out the window. His parents have started to worry. It is already the seventh of August and no letter has come. Cassiopea’s letter came on the first; so did Pollux’s. Why not his? Has it taken longer than usual to compile the book lists, as there are two new teachers? Has the owl died in mid-flight? The boy does not know. He just wants the owl to come.
All his life, he has dreamed of going to Hogwarts. He will sit at the Slytherin table with his brother and sister and learn Potions from his grandfather, Phineas. In his spare time, he will join his housemates in their favorite pastime of taunting Mudbloods and blood traitors. In his fifth year, he will become a prefect, and in his final year, Head Boy. Then he will get a nice job at the Ministry like Father. But none of this will happen if his letter does not come.
Three days later, an envelope bearing the Hogwarts crest finally arrives. However, it is addressed not to him, but to his father.
Do not bother me with such mundane enquiries. The reason Marius did not receive a letter should be obvious. The boy is a Squib, and you shall deal with him accordingly. Any sane parents would have done so ages ago. I expected better from my son.
– Phineas Nigellus Black.
Scowling, Cygnus thrusts the letter in his son’s face. Rising from his seat in the drawing room, he declares, “As of now, Marius Black ceases to exist. Pollux is my only son.”
Cygnus then points his wand at the family tapestry. The boy, once Marius, watches in silence as his name disappears with a single blast, leaving only a small round burn mark in his memory. His younger sister, Dorea, begins to cry.
Suddenly, an elderly house-elf throws herself at Cygnus’ feet, begging, “Please, Master, please let Murli go with him! Murli cannot bear to think of Young Master out there all alone with no one to help him!”
“Silence!” Cygnus commands, looking at the elf with disgust. “This boy is no longer your master. As far as you are concerned, he is dead!”
The house-elf cannot help herself; she breaks down, sobbing.
“You want to go with him that much?” Cygnus roars. “Fine, then!”
With a single blast of his wand, Murli’s head is severed from her body. The room falls into silence as all four children stare blankly at the corpse.
“Yarrol,” Cygnus calls, summoning another house-elf, “take Murli’s body and dispose of it. Her head I will mount upon the wall to serve as a reminder to the rest of you of what happens when my servants disobey me.”
The boy, once Marius, shakes in fear as Cygnus turns his eyes towards him.
“Go,” he says, “and do not come to this house again, lest you wish to meet the same fate as that pitiful creature. Neither shall you tell anyone of your former identity; if you once speak the name of Marius Black, I shall seek you out and kill you.”
The boy does not stay to listen any longer. Immediately he turns and flees, not once pausing to think of where he is going and how he will get there. It does not matter. All he knows is that he must get as far away from the house as possible.
The giant’s finally stopped crying now. Strange, that I actually wanted to comfort him. Suppose it all started when he said he wasn’t all human.
Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if I’d gone east rather than west that day. Would someone have taken me in besides Menuk? What if it had been a human? A Muggle human, at that. Would I be sitting in a comfy chair in a cramped office building, staring at one of those strange Muggle ‘konputar’ gadgets and making lots of money?
Doesn’t matter, anyway. This is what’s real. Two outcasts, alone in this world with naught but animals to turn to. And perhaps each other. The young giant deserves my friendship. He needs a new father, someone to look up to, and he’ll never find anyone better than me. Bloody humans are good for nothing. As Menuk cared for me, so I’ll care for Hagrid. Who knows? Perhaps an apprentice will do me good in my old age.