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Chapter 5 : Bravery comes in tiny packages apparently
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When the now normal feeling of parchment travelling appeases itself, Al, Rose, Lily and Hugo find themselves to be in an empty corridor. Looking outside, they figure that it must be around dinnertime, which would explain why there are no students in this corridor. Hurried footsteps can be heard far away in the castle though.
“You guys think we should go and find the source of the footsteps?” Lily asks the others, trying to figure out where the sound is coming from and what they are doing so far away from it.
“Not sure. So far, we always arrived in the right place; either straight in front of the scene or in Uncle Ron’s path,” Al explains, although he too is wondering why it is taking so long for the action to begin. Just as he thinks that, the space is filled with Ron’s voice.
“November 3rd,” Ron’s tired voice says, filling the empty corridor. “Dear mum and dad, message received. You will not accept getting another letter like that from the Headmaster ever again. But you should at least give me a chance to explain! Yeah okay, I did not follow that teachers’ orders but – and I don’t know if Dumbledore told you that – there was a girl in danger! Hermione didn’t know about the troll and we were the only ones who knew where she was.”
“Did he just say ‘troll’?” Lily asks Hugo, clearly afraid he might confirm it.
“That’s what I heard,” the boy coolly says, “and after the three-headed dog story turning out to be real, I feel like we are about to see a real troll.”
“Look!” Rose shrills, pointing at the end of the corridor where an enormous figure slowly turns the corner, growling and trailing an immense club behind him.
“It’s going for the girls’ bathroom!” Ron says loudly behind the travellers, making them jump. They turn around only to find Ron and Harry looking at the troll with determination.
“It was supposed to be in the dungeons, right?” Harry frowns.
“Yeah, but Hermione is in the bathroom, we can’t leave her there with the troll; come on!” Ron tugs Harry and the two boys run toward the bathroom door which the troll had only just walked through. Their future children follow them at the same pace. Inside the small room, they find Hermione literally frozen in fear, her back pressed so hard at the wall it’s almost like she wishes to pass through it.
“Hermione,” Ron shouts, making her finally notice her two classmates’ arrival. “We’ll try and distract him so you can get out!”
“This is mad,” Al whispers, shaking his head in disbelief. His sister takes his hand, searching for some comfort. After all, it is quite disturbing to see a tiny version of your father facing a fully-grown mountain troll. “No worries, we know they all make it Lils.”
Hermione slowly nods, her eyes not leaving the troll’s ugly face. Ron and Harry start throwing random things at the troll, screaming at him to get his attention away from Hermione. The moment the troll turns to look at them; Hermione breaks into a run and dashes out of the bathroom. The troll notices the little girl getting away from him and he completely forgets about the two tiny attackers.
“Oi! Pea-brain!” Ron shouts, throwing a piece of broken pipe at the troll’s head to get his attention back. The troll’s lazy eyes search for the source of the voice and he growls in a low, threatening way when he focuses of the small red-head. Harry uses the moment of distraction to throw a rock at the back wall, where Hermione just was moments ago. Harry achieves his goal and when he sees the troll turning his back to the two boys, they get out of the bathroom as fast as they can, closing and locking the door behind them.
“There was no time, we had to go and let her know about the troll in the dungeons only, well, the troll wasn’t in the dungeon, it was in the bathroom, where Hermione was. What should we have done? Leave her alone with the troll while we try and find a teacher in the huge castle? Of course not! We had to go in and try to get her out of there.”
“Wow, even then, our fathers were very brave,” Rose interrupts, impressed. The four travellers gape at the small version of their parents, breathing hard together in the corridor, trying to get over the evident fear they all feel.
“Thank you,” Hermione whispers to the two boys. They nod and give her small smiles, as if saying that it was nothing, they save other student’s lives every day.
“That’s what happened. Hermione was safe and me and Harry were okay too, so no harm done right? Plus, we also discovered that Hermione isn’t so bad; we started talking after and she’s got some good in her. We may not end up as close as I am with Harry but, we’ll see, so far she isn’t too girly but that could be a false impression… ,” Ron gives a sarcastic laugh before going on with a voice so serious, even his children have rarely heard their father use it. “As for apologies, well I’m sorry but I don’t feel that they are necessary. I’m proud of what Harry and I did and if we had to, I think we would do the same again. I hope you understand that we couldn’t let someone put themselves in danger when we knew we could prevent it, Ron.”
“Dad really wasn't afraid of death!” Hugo gushes, whistling, “I think mum would come straight to school and force me to apologize and make me eat my pride!”
“They fought a troll? After two months of magical education, they took on a freaking troll?” Al exclaims, disbelieving.
“They actually did it to save someone they didn’t even like, that’s even more impressive,” Lily adds, looking completely blown away by what she had just witnessed.
“Still, it seemed kind of easy don’t you think?” Rose asks the others, thinking out loud. “The troll didn’t really fight back did he?”
“Yeah, maybe,” Lily agrees although she still has the same expression of awe etched on her face, “You think this might be one of Uncle Ron’s ‘adaptations of reality’, like the mega-Hagrid earlier?”
“Could be,” Al shrugs. Just as he opens his mouth to say more, a small draft blows in the corridor and whisks Ron, Harry and Hermione away, leaving the corridor just like it was before the troll incident.
“November 3rd,” Ron’s excited voice fills the corridor. “Dear Gin, heard about the troll? That was a pretty cool adventure! Mum went pretty wild though; I’m surprised I didn’t receive a Howler! I explained to them what happened and I hope they’ll understand that my intentions were good and my magic awesome! I mean, come on, I knocked out a mountain troll with his own club, not even Charlie can say that!”
“Agreed, Uncle Charlie never did that,” Hugo concedes.
“How do you know that? Lily asks, surprised.
“I asked him what kind of wild creatures he’s faced and he mentioned that he would like to meet a troll for real one day. That’s it.”
“You have weird fields of interest brother of mine.”
“You guys noticed the change of tone in Uncle Ron’s letter?” Lily asks the group, cutting over her cousin’s answer.
“Yeah, I also notice that that’s not what happened, is it?” Al frowns, “we didn’t see Uncle Ron knock out the troll, he only ran from it!”
“It’s going inside that room!” Ron says loudly behind the travellers, making them jump once again. They turned around to find Ron and Harry looking at the troll with the same look of determination and just a little bit of fear too; something that was there on the previous letter.
“Look, the key’s there, we could lock it in that room,” Harry mutters. Ron nods in agreement and the two boys dash to the bathroom door to close it after the troll walked entered and lock it in.
“Idiots! You locked Aunt Hermione in!” Lily shouts at the oblivious boys. At the same time, a terrified scream comes out of the bathroom. The two boys look at each other, realizing what they had done and without a single second of hesitation, they unlock the door and dash into the overcrowded bathroom.
“See this is probably much closer to reality in my opinion; them locking her in with the troll, I wonder why they kept that silent?” Rose wonders as she watches yet again the two Gryffindors try to distract the troll. Hermione looks even more petrified with fear in this version and she stays put when Harry tells her to get out.
“You should have seen it Gin, it was wicked scary but also the coolest thing ever! Harry and I discovered we were pretty courageous actually; we didn’t even think and just went in there.”
“Oi, pea-brain!” Ron shouts at the troll. When it turns to look at Ron, the four travellers hold their breath as they watch the young Harry break into a run, wand out, and jump onto the troll’s back, accidentally pushing his wand into the troll’s nostril at the same time.
“Eeww,” the four travellers chant in disgust.
Ron, following Harry’s example, takes out his wand and with a look of great concentration on his face shouts, “Wingardium Leviosa!” The troll, the three children and their four future children all look at the club fly out of the troll’s hand as if in slow motion, going up in the air and crashing back down on the troll’s head with a horrible crunching sound.
“We distracted the troll by throwing stuff at him, Harry jumped on the troll’s back and stuck his wand in the troll’s nose (his wand was full of troll-bogeys after, it was gross) and I made the troll’s club levitate and crash on his head, which knocked him unconscious,” Ron breathlessly recalls.
“See this version shows that they are even braver,” Hugo quietly declares, impressed by what his father and Uncle just did.
“And just a tiny bit reckless,” Al sarcastically adds. The four travellers and the three shaken children watch as some teachers make their way inside the bathroom and try to find out what happened in there.
“G-Mum must have been livid when she received the letter from the Headmaster,” Rose chuckles, shaking her head.
“I didn’t think school would be so useful in real life!!” Ron’s voice comes over the McGonagall’s speech to the three children. “Even the simplest, stupidest charm can save a person’s life, I learned that on Halloween and I am passing down my knowledge to you sis. It’s important knowledge really because Hogwarts’ life is much more dangerous and adventurous than I expected it to be. If it wasn’t for attending classes, it would be the most perfect life on earth!”
“Seriously? They only got 5 points each?” Lily growls when McGonagall dismisses the younger versions of their parents.
“I suppose they didn’t want to give too many points, in case it got others doing stupid, dangerous stuff just to gain house points,” Hugo shrugs.
“Still,” Lily frowns at her cousin’s rational answer. “It took some amazing nerves to do that; they should have gotten more than 5 points each I say.”
“They got more than that; didn’t you hear him in the letter? They got the knowledge that learning is important.”
“And yet, from mum’s stories, it sounds like she had to remind them of that every day,” Rose smiles as the scene dissolves in front of their eyes.
The sight that meets them brings smiles to the travellers’ lips. Young Ron, Harry and Hermione are sitting together at a small table in the common room, apparently working on an essay. A couple tables away, a group of older kids laugh loudly, attracting the two boys’ attention. The travellers’ smiles freeze and their eyes fill with longing when they recognize their Uncle George and his late twin, Fred, at the centre of the group.
“This is so weird,” Rose whispers sadly.
“What is? Uncle George having two ears? Seeing Uncle Fred for the first time? Uncle George and Uncle Fred being thirteen years old?” Hugo asks in his trademark dry wit.
“All of the above actually,” his sister answers and the other two nod.
“You should have seen it Oliver, it was hilarious!” Lee Jordan laughs. The four travellers join in with the laughter when they hear his childish, not yet broken voice. Lee being a big-time radio presenter with a deep voice now, they had never imagined him to have such a cute, high-pitched voice.
“So funny it got you two in detention tomorrow night and you’ll miss practice!” Oliver says, annoyed. Fred doesn’t even seem to be listening to the older boy’s rambling. The twins have a box filled with golf ball-sized grey balls in front of them. One by one, they take them out and turn them in their hands before putting them back in the box. Once in a while, they leave a ball out for a reason known only of them.
“Chill out Oliver, we’ll be there for the next,” the twin that the travellers identify to be their Uncle George, says.
“And the one after that,” his brother continues.
“..And the one after that.”
“We’ll miss the other one though, another detention you see,” Fred says in a matter-of-factly way.
“But once again, it will be fully worth it!”
“What are you planning?” a girl the travellers are happily surprised to recognize as their Aunt Angelina, asks the twins suspiciously.
“Can’t tell you that,” Fred winks at her.
“But we can say it will involve Quirrell.”
“And a bunch of crosses.”
“And a Hoover charm.”
“As well as a Following charm.”
“Other than that, its top secret,” George finishes, still not looking up from the balls him and his brother are now done examining.
“Basically you’re going to charm a bunch of crosses so they follow Quirell wherever he goes,” Oliver sighs at his childish beaters’ antics.
“You’re quick on the up-take Oliver,” Angelina laughs, “I knew there was a reason you were made captain.”
“Ok guys, we’re ready,” George rubs his hands together, looking at Lee, Angelina and a girl, unknown to the travellers, with a mischievous gleam in his eyes.
“You want to do it now?” Lee asks the twins in expectation. In one motion, they both nod and give Lee a handful of balls.
“Oliver, in order to make up for the fact that we messed up your practice schedule-”
“And because we feel the need to let you know how much we appreciate you-”
“We will tell you that something will happen in this room in about three minutes.”
“And although it will be quite a show, we know you, Oliver Wood, might not like it,” Angelina finishes the speech under the twins’ looks of disbelief. She and the unknown girl grab some balls too and with evil smiles, they walk away from the table, passing behind the three first years’ table.
“Wonder what they are doing,” Ron frowns, looking over at his brother’s table.
“Nothing that concerns us I imagine,” Hermione answers not even looking up her essay.
“You don’t know them like I do; most of the time, just being in the same room as them means you have something to be concerned about.”
“Are they that bad?” Harry asks Ron curiously, looking at the third years taking different spots in the common room.
“It’s not that they’re bad really, it’s more like you never know what or when they’ll hit. And they often feel the need to share their fun; share it with unsuspecting and uninterested people,” Ron explains, his eyes fixed on his brothers, trying to figure out what to expect.
“You guys should really get back to work, we need to hand in this essay tomorrow and Harry, you haven’t even done half of it!” Hermione scowls at Harry’s parchment and the two lines it contains.
“I had quidditch last night when you worked on it!” Harry defends himself.
“Still, you can’t say you’re working hard tonight, and neither are you Ron,” she adds, annoyed.
“Oh I’m working, don’t worry,” Ron whispers cautiously, his gaze still following Fred.
“Now!” Fred shouts. Angelina, Lee, George and the unknown girl, under Fred’s order, begin a furious hunt in the common room, trying to shoot the balls at each other amongst the students.
“Duck!” Ron yells at his friends as he jumps in front of the table to take a hit for them. Upon touching his chin, the ball explodes, leaving his entire head and shoulders covered with brilliant blue paint.
“Damn, Lee,” George shouts at his friend, “I know Ron’s hard to miss, what with being so tall but still, I’m three feet to his left, how can you have such a bad aim?”
“See?” Ron asks Harry and Hermione when he meets them, hidden under their table like the rest of the students in the common room while the five older kids continue shooting paint balls at each other in a very loud and messy way. “This is a perfect example of why you should always expect the twins to be up to something. And sadly they seem to have found other partners in crime here.”
“Got to go, I have an essay to finish (see why life would be so much better without classes; there wouldn’t be homework either!) but Hermione’s giving me a hand and with a brain like hers, I think it will help improve my grades!” Ron’s voice comes over the racket the group of third year is making. “Oh, I forgot to tell you. Fred and George threw a bunch of dungbombs at Filch and they have to clean the Great Hall by hands while Filch lists the types of physical punishment he wishes to give them. They already know what to expect since they’ve had similar detentions with him many times but according to them, it was worth it just to see his face; I wish I had been there to see it too. Oh and I want to hear about your ‘play date’ with the Lovegood girl. Dad always said the Lovegoods were weird, is she weird too? Love, Ron.”
“I had almost forgotten we were in a letter, this is so good,” Hugo laughs.
“Those two really were something else!” Lily chuckles.
“Freddy and Roxy are exactly like that; it’s impressive the mess these two can make in so little time,” Al points out, thinking of the many times George and Angelina’s children have caused a similar mess in the common room.
“Mum still had play dates at 10?” Lily sniggers. “I always wondered how mum and Aunt Luna met.”
“Mum says she used to be a right laugh back in their school days; they didn’t really get along,” Rose points out with a knowing smile.
Suddenly, the multi-coloured common room vanishes and the four travellers find themselves at the top of the stands, behind hundreds of cheering students.
“Quidditch, awesome!” Rose and Al shout happily.
“I can’t believe we are going to see dad’s first match! It’s the one he caught the snitch in his mouth!” Lily jumps on the spot when the two teams walk on the pitch. Easily recognizable in his bright red robes, Harry is, by far, the smallest player; looking especially tiny next to the muscular Slytherin players.
“November 10th, dear Ginny, I laughed so hard reading your letter; that Luna girl sounds like a right laugh! My letter will be short, I really just wanted to tell you that we had the first quidditch match at school and it was wicked. Really, the players are awesome; the game is much faster than what we usually play at home and much more brutal.”
“Uncle Harry really is a good flyer, especially considering he just learned to fly,” Hugo says as he watches his Uncle perform a tight loop to block a Slytherin chaser in his path.
“Agreed,” Lily says. She chuckles when they see a Slytherin player clearly pushing one of the Gryffindor chasers off course. “Man, do you think the Slytherins practiced how to be foul even then?”
“Yeah, it looks like it’s traditional for them to be rude and to play dirty; they apparently did back then just like they do right now... Err, in our time I mean,” Rose answers with difficulty. Making herself clear isn’t very easy when talking about the ‘now’ of their real lives and the ‘now’ as they watch it in the letters.
“Hey look. Hagrid’s coming over,” Hugo points out, watching the giant make his way through the full stands and sit next to Ron and Hermione.
“We’re a bit far to hear what they are saying,” Lily says, a bit put off. She sees Hagrid point at the sky and follows his gaze to watch her dad struggling on his broom. “Guys? What’s with dad’s broom?”
“I have no clue,” Rose mutters, squinting her eyes to look at her Uncle’s struggle. “This is not normal broom behaviour though. I mean you can’t jinx a broom to behave like that.”
“What are you suggesting it is then?”
“I think someone is controlling it right this moment; they would need to be in contact,” Rose slowly says.
“Dad’s the only one in direct contact with the broom and we can be pretty sure he’s not doing this voluntarily. Are you thinking it’s one of the Slytherin players?” Al wonders, his eyes not leaving his father.
“No, like I said it is not jinxed, it’s controlled; there’s a difference. The controller must be keeping eye contact with Uncle Harry and a player could hardly do that during the game.”
“It’ll be kind of hard to find the culprit then; almost half of the spectators are looking at him give one hell of a battle!” Looking around him, Hugo notices that people are beginning to point and comment on what is happening. He picks up some bits of conversation and is very surprised to hear what the students are saying.
“He wanted to flash with his new professional class broomstick,” a Hufflepuff boy says to his neighbour, “I say he fails, the Nimbus obviously has fabrication defaults.”
“One galleon says he falls,” a Slytherin boy says.
“Two galleons say he breaks something,” a girl pipes up.
“Three galleons say he dies!” a tall boy smirks.
“Still, he’s been holding on for a while already, it’s quite impressive,” a small Ravenclaw girl tells the nodding boy next to her.
“Hey, where did mum go?” Rose suddenly asks the others. They all shrug, none of them having noticed her leaving the stands. Then, just as strangely as it began, the broom stops bucking and Harry gets back on it, flying directly to the pitch, having apparently spotted the snitch.
“Gryffindor won because Harry nearly swallowed the snitch; it was pretty hilarious but also quite impressive. I got to say, Fred and George are good players too; I had never really seen them play with real bludgers and they do a good job. Don’t tell them I told you that though!” Ron’s voice carried over the shouts of celebration coming from the Gryffindors in the stands since Harry just spit up the snitch. “Yesterday, they received detention because they had bewitched a bunch of crosses to follow one of the teachers. The man is quite weird and terrified of vampires. Okay, he is scared of everything really and he stutters you see, so it was pretty funny to see him stutter angrily at them! Well that’s it really; I’ll have some pretty interesting stuff to tell you when I get home for Christmas. Just a tease: We – that is Harry, Hermione and I – are working on solving a mystery… Can’t wait to tell you more, Ron.”
“Do you think the mystery has anything to do with Hagrid’s dog?” Hugo asks the others.
“Could be about the troll, we never did find out how it got in the school,” Lily suggests.
“Could also be something he hasn’t mentioned yet,” Rose supplies, closing the debate. The others silently agree as they watch the Gryffindor students hug and congratulate young Harry on his catch. Ron, Hermione and Hagrid reach him and together, the four of them make their way toward Hagrid’s hut, before the scene is blown away from the travellers’ eyes.
Edited 27/01/10 : Thanks to my beta, Melissa aka Padfoot28 for the great help!
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