Chapter 8 : Boys (and girl) versus Dragon
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A grey and rainy atmosphere meets the travellers when the scene settles itself. They easily spot the three children, almost alone on the outside grounds, huddled together on the side of the castle. Al leads the way closer to the kids in order to hear their hushed conversation.
“Oh look Hugh,” Rose points at the blue flame in the middle of their small circle. “Mum used to make those when we were afraid of the dark, do you remember?”
“I most certainly do not remember ever being scared of the dark,” Hugo huffs proudly.
“Right,” the three others murmur, remembering how the red-headed boy used to be terrified to go to sleep, believing there were ghosts living in his room and keeping him awake.
“March 15th, dear Ginny,” Ron begins tiredly. “I received your letter and your arguments were convincing enough, so Harry, Hermione and I decided to let you know by writing what we know so far about the mystery. Ok so, first I need to make some things clear. You are to go to your room, alone, and close the door. Before you even start reading this letter, you need to think of a good place to hide it when you’re done so that no one will find it (so not under your bed; not in that shoe box in your closet; nor in that hole in your wall that is hidden behind your desk, yes, we know about that hiding place). You are to promise never to tell anyone about what you will read and, even if you have questions, promise you will keep them to yourself and not go to mum and dad.”
“Wow, they take themselves quite seriously don’t they?” Rose laughs.
“I wonder if mum followed those instructions,” Lily muses.
“I would have,” Al promptly states. Under his sister’s and cousins’ surprised looks, he stresses; “Come on! Uncle Ron worked hard to build up the suspense; doesn’t it give you the feeling of being involved in this great adventure? Wouldn’t you go along with it?”
“Maybe,” Rose nods, clearly not convinced, “but I already know how this ends so, it doesn’t really matter what I think.”
“If I didn’t know how it ends, I would probably be even more into it; Al’s got a valid point. All things considered, I would probably go along with it too,” Hugo admits after a moment’s thought.
“The question stays the same though,” Hermione was telling the two boys. “What do we do with this information?”
“We can’t go to Dumbledore or any of the teachers,” Harry shakes his head, “it would look too suspicious.”
“Plus we are accusing one of their colleagues so we can’t go in there without solid proof,” Ron adds, looking a bit disgruntled.
“Now, it’s all pretty mysterious but we found out that something strange is happening at school. First, we know that someone broke into Gringotts and went to steal something, but the vault had been emptied that day. We also happen to know that Hagrid is the one who emptied the vault when he went to Gringotts with Harry. Now Harry doesn’t know what he took but he saw a small thing in brown paper.”
“You’re right Ron, and right now, we don’t exactly have convincing evidence to back up what we are saying; mostly just random stuff we’ve overheard.”
“Yeah and most of which we heard while going against the rules too,” Ron adds with a grim laugh.
“Yes and we definitely want to avoid being expelled, right guys?” Hermione presses, looking anxiously at the two boys who silently agree with her.
“Then, we learned that a corridor was strictly forbidden so, of course, we found ourselves there when we tried to hide from Filch (remember the three-headed dog? It’s Hagrid’s by the way; goes by the name of Fluffy, although where he ever saw fluff on that thing is beyond me). Hermione was with us at that moment and she, unlike us, noticed there was a trapdoor under the dog (we were more preoccupied with the heads and didn’t notice anything else). That means the dog is guarding something. Could it be something that Hagrid brought from Gringotts? A little brown package maybe? We think so.”
“But we don’t want Snape to put neither his hand nor his nose on it because then we would be in real trouble,” Harry says as they begin to walk to the castle’s entrance.
“Especially if he happens to steal it before we’ve told anyone what we know; imagine how bad we would feel knowing we could have stopped... whatever he is planning to do but didn’t!”
“Speaking of which,” Ron asks the two others, “what do you think Snape is planning exactly?”
“Finally, like I told you not so long ago, we discovered that Nicholas Flamel, the alchemist who made the Philosopher Stone, is involved in all this. So our final conclusion is that in this very moment in Hogwarts, Fluffy is guarding the Philosopher Stone and Snape wants to get his hands on it. We do not know what for yet but truth be told, we don’t want to find out,” Ron’s loud voice declares.
“Who knows,” Harry shrugs, “but just the thought of that man being immortal creeps me out.”
“Yeah, every wizarding student from now to eternity would have to suffer through the torture he calls ‘class’,” Ron shivers in disgusts.
“That would be horrible,” Hugo agrees.
“No it doesn’t fit Ron,” Hermione disagrees, “it’s not like he’d still be allowed to teach here after stealing the stone under Dumbledore’s nose.”
“So it’s the opposite then,” Ron nods in a conclusive sort of way, “he wishes to save the future generations of students from his teaching. ‘Cause he’s good guy really.”
“Thanks Ron, for getting us nowhere,” Hermione frowns while Harry laughs along with Ron and their four future kids.
“I got us somewhere! We can now be sure it has nothing to do with his actual job,” Ron grins.
“Is it just me or is there something wrong with the story?” Lily suddenly asks over Hermione’s answer to Ron.
“Many things are strange Lils, like why did mum put up with these two for so long? And seriously, this boy here will save the Wizarding world in six years time? He clearly doesn’t look or act the part,” Rose points out.
“No, I mean when dad told us this story of the Stone, Snape wasn’t involved, right?” Lily says as she watches the kids stop and point over to the bushes where another kid is trying - and failing - to hide himself.
“No, it was only Quirrell,” Al agrees with his sister, “but then again, they never said they found the trapdoor because of a set-up and I’d never heard of Fluffy before either, so I have a feeling we only got the romanticized version of the story.”
“Wonder why,” Hugo questions. “The way they told us the story when we were younger, they made it sound like it was all fluke and it really wasn’t such an entertaining story. I would have loved to hear of a story involving trolls and giant dogs and illegal duels.”
“Hey Neville,” Harry suddenly calls when he recognizes the boy behind the bushes, “Is everything ok?”
“Hey guys,” he nervously answers, poking his head over the bush and looking around anxiously. “You haven’t seen Malfoy around have you? He’s been looking for me since the last flying lesson; reckons I hit him voluntarily with my broom and hurt him.”
“He’s lying,” Ron spits disdainfully, “the only thing that got hurt was his ego when he fell on his butt.”
“Don’t worry, we haven’t seen him,” Hermione says as she gives Ron a look full of reproach for his language. “Are you coming inside with us?”
“Ok, thanks guys,” the chubby boy answers happily.
“Well that’s it; I hope you liked to get in the loop a little, even if you’re not with us. I hope you had a good time in Romania; tell me about the dragons ok? Oh and don’t say hi to mum and dad from me, tell them it was a letter from someone else ok? Love, Ron.”
"I did love to get on the loop, thanks Dad for clearing everything up," Rose says.
As Neville gets out of the bushes, the scene blurs itself and the travellers find themselves in the school library; a place they never expected to see come up in Ron’s letters! They easily spot Ron’s distinct hair, sitting with Harry and Hermione and buried under dozens and dozens of books. While they can see Hermione reading from a potion book, it is quite obvious the two boys aren’t studying as hard seeing as they are busy building a fort with the books in front of them.
“April 4th,” Ron’s loud voice resonates in the silent place. “Dear mum, dad and Ginny; how is everything back at home? Here, it’s pretty boring. Hermione has gone a bit mad and makes us study in all the free time we have. Harry and I tried to escape her but found out it’s much less demanding to just comply to the study schedule she made for us. See, aren’t you happy I saved her from a troll? I might actually get good grades thank to her!”
“That is the worst possible reason to be happy someone is alive!” Lily laughs.
“Wait,” Al wonders aloud, “April 4th? That’s what? Ten weeks before exams; a bit overanxious isn’t she?”
“Do you know my mum at all?” Rose exclaims in a derisive way.
“I think it’s more like she knows her two friends,” Hugo remarks, pointing at the boys, “if this is the way they study, they need at least ten weeks to go through all the year’s material!” Ron and Harry have now hidden themselves in their fort and proceed to charm small balls of paper that they send at each other.
“I don’t know,” Rose muses, “they are kind of studying right now; that’s hands on practice!” But their practice stops there when Harry misses and instead of a ball of paper, he gets a book from the pile and sends it straight for Ron’s nose while the fort collapses.
“Boys!” the librarian growls, instantly reaching their table.
“Sorry madam Pince, it was an accident.”
“Yeah we’ll be quiet now, promise,” a very red Harry pleads to the stern lady as he picks books from the floor.
“You better be; this is your only warning,” she whispers angrily before going back to her desk.
“What did you do?” Hermione seethes.
“Levitated a book, killed the castle,” Harry answers in a dismissive way.
“Probably broke my nose with the book too,” Ron mutters, checking if he is bleeding.
“Sorry,” Harry whispers as he picks up the last book from the floor.
“It’s ok. Anyway, do we build it up again? Got something here that is not for Pince’s eyes,” Ron says with a mischievous grin.
“Ron!” Hermione scolds, “do you want to be kicked out of the library?”
“No, I just think we all deserve a break and I’ve got the perfect thing for it,” Ron catches Harry’s eye and the two boys busy themselves with making a new castle without waiting for their friend to answer.
“But seriously, thanks for the Easter egg, it was excellent! We shared it during a night of studying and it made it a lot more fun for the three of us! Lots of love and chocolate kisses, Ron.”
Hermione pretends to ignore what Ron and Harry are doing but when Ron breaks a bit of the egg and pushes it over to her, she can’t seem to be able to resist and sinks under the books to eat her chocolate in hiding.
“Uncle Ron is such a bad influence,” Al laughs, watching his aunt get corrupted by chocolate.
“Mum can’t resist chocolate; apparently Dad figured that out quite early in their relationship!” Rose points out as the three children laugh quietly, hiding themselves under the piles of books to eat their illegal sweet.
A whiff of wind blows away the scene from the travellers’ sights and when the scene materializes itself again, the four teenagers find themselves alone, outside Hagrid’s hut.
“Err,” Lily looks around until hushed voices reach her ears from inside the hut. “I think they’re inside, why are we outside?”
“April 17th; Dear Ginny; Remember all of those stories Charlie told us about Hagrid? Well I now have confirmation that they certainly were true,” Ron narrates while the three children walk out of the hut looking stunned.
“I can officially say that next to Hagrid, my brother Charlie is sane,” Ron declares in a disbeliving way.
“A dragon,” Hermione whispers, “a fire breathing dragon in a wooden house!”
“Oh!” Rose exclaims, “We’ll get to meet Norberta! I had forgotten about that!”
“You remember all about Fluffy right? Well Hagrid’s now got a brand new pet; a dragon. Yeah, you read right, the man got himself landed with a dragon egg and he plans on raising it in his house. Even Charlie who has an unnatural love for those beasts doesn’t actually dream of having one inside his house!”
“So, what should we do?” Harry asks the two others while they walk back to the castle, followed by their future children.
“Steal the egg and make it disappear before it hatches?” Ron suggests.
“But how? We would need to occupy Hagrid while one of us gets the egg,” Hermione begins anxiously but Ron interrupts her.
“Whoa, slow down Hermione, that was a joke. I don’t seriously think stealing it is the right way to go.”
“So we wait until it hatches, kills Hagrid and Fang, and set fire to the forest before we act?” Hermione asks him in a panic voice.
“As far as I know,” Harry muses, “these dragons might not be that dangerous.”
“They are,” Ron grimly answers.
“So this is what we should do first then, we should get information on this breed; it’ll tell us how much time we have before we get burned alive by it.”
“Yeah, and maybe it’ll help calm you down a bit,” Ron smiles. “Hagrid isn’t about to get us all killed with his stupidity. He might hurt himself, yes, but that doesn’t mean the entire student body will pay for it.”
“No,” Harry answers sarcastically, “just us, because we are his friends.”
“They really have a talent for getting involved in odd situations don’t they?” Hugo smiles.
“Yeah, it’s a wonder they actually managed to get through their classes and exams with all the external stress they had!” Lily laughs as they follow the three firsts year who are still trying to find the best way to get rid of Hagrid’s dragon egg.
“So anyway, since we found out, I guess we have to keep this a secret right? It’s still an egg at the moment so we still have some time to convince him to get rid of it. So far, it doesn’t seem likely that he will ever comply but that won’t stop us from trying. I guess this is another thing I have to keep you updated about; life at Hogwarts really is entertaining right?” Ron narrates in a disbelieving tone. “On that note, know that the Stone is still safe, Quirrell is still stuttering, but is standing up to Snape, who is still evil. Love, Ron.”
As the children walk towards the castle, wind blows their images away from the travellers, and they find themselves back where they started. Al, Hugo, Lily and Rose still stand next to Hagrid’s hut and, once again, they can hear voices coming from inside.
“April 24th,” Ron’s excited voice blows over the silent grounds. “Hey Ginny, how are you? Well I can now officially say that even though I didn’t go to Romania with you guys, I have seen some dragon stuff you haven’t! Yep, this afternoon, I witnessed the hatching of Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback. It wasn’t pretty; all black, slimy and already producing dangerous sparks.”
“Norbert?” Lily quizzically says.
“They thought it was a male back then, don’t you remember?” Al reminds his sister.
“I still find it hard to believe Hagrid wrongly identified the sex of his pet,” Hugo replies, shaking his head as the three children walk out of the hut.
“Whoa,” Rose exclaims loudly when she spots Hermione’s extremely bushy hair due to the humidity of the hut. “That cannot even be considered a bad hair day! It’s a ‘never should have walked out of your room’ day!”
“That is a shame for womankind that is,” Lily declares in a discouraged voice.
“Has she never heard of hair gel or pins or, you know, a brush?” Rose gestures angrily at the younger version of her mother.
“Guess we know why Uncle Ron wasn’t interested in her sooner,” Al whispers to Hugo who burst out laughing.
“Aren’t you glad we didn’t inherit that hair Rosie?”
“You have no idea,” the girl shakes her head, “I will never complain about my hair being frizzy ever again after seeing what I could have had.”
“I wish I could tell you that it all went well and that things will stay the same but as I have learned this year, things are rarely simple at Hogwarts. You might also have noticed that one person seems to be responsible for making things more complicated and yes, you’ve guessed correctly, the Malfoy git once again managed to get his nose in things that don’t concern him. He saw Norbert’s hatching too through the window. Merlin knows what he’ll do with that information but that does not look good for Hagrid nor for us because we knew about it and kept it a secret. Well that’s it; I’ll keep you updated on our new fire breathing enemy! Ron,”
“How did Malfoy even know there was something to be seen at Hagrid’s?” Hugo questions the others.
“Probably heard them talking about it,” Lily hypothesizes.
“Sounds to me like this boy was constantly on their heels, trying to get involved into their adventures,” Al guesses.
“Yeah, it does smell strongly of jealousy,” Rose nods, “but he certainly wasn’t jealous of this hair!”
“Get over it Rose,” Al laughs along with the two younger teenagers.
“I can’t!” Rose shrieks, “did you look at it? I will never be able to suppress this vision from my mind. I’m scarred!”
The teenagers keep mocking Hermione’s hair until the outside ground gets replaced with a vision of the dark and silent Hospital Wing, where only one bed is occupied. Young Ron lies awake, frowning anxiously, biting his lower lip.
“May 7th, dear mum, dad and Gin,” Ron’s tired voice resonates in the quiet and almost empty Hospital wing. “Just a quick note to let you know I miss you all and can’t wait for the exams to be over. I never was a big fan of studying or crazy girls and now, I’ve got to put up with both when I’m in the presence of Hermione! I got a night off yesterday though and that was sort of great. Ok so it wasn’t all that great since I actually spent the night in the Hospital wing with a badly hurt hand, taking horrible potions and being cared for by a dragon; but it was still better that spending another night following Hermione’s study schedule!”
“Cared for by a dragon?” Hugo notes.
“Nice touch,” Rose nods, “I didn’t know dad mastered subtlety.”
“Such a bloody idiot,” Ron whispers angrily. He looks up at his hand before putting it back on the bed in a rather loud manner. Within seconds, a younger – though still not quite young – Madam Pomfrey joins the lonely boy.
“Care to let me have a look?” she asks although she grabs his hand without waiting for his answer. “Still infected; here, take this, it’ll help.”
“Arg,” Ron shakes his head in disgust after drinking a dark blue potion.
“Get some sleep now; everything will be back to normal soon.”
“Right,” Ron whispers as the woman walks away, “if only that was possible.”
“Don’t worry about me mum, my hand is fine and McGonagall took it upon herself to test it by giving us an 8 inches essay due in two days!”
“Good old McGonagall, always caring so much about her students,” Rose declares with mock appreciation.
Once again, the boy looks at his hand, moving it through the air and poking it angrily. A muffled noise suddenly resonates outside the room and Ron sits up in his bed, listening intently.
“Merlin that better not be them,” he says in a low, dark voice that reaches the nurse’s ears.
“This is ridiculous, you need to sleep,” the nurse says in a firm way, pushing him back down onto the bed.
“Can you just tell me what time it is? Please, Madam Pomfrey?”
“It’s one thirty in the morning mister Weasley. Now will you sleep?”
“Well I should go; need to do my homework and heal my hand too. Love, Ron.”
As Ron puts his head down on the pillow, the room grows completely dark and the travellers only hear the sound of the scene changing. When the light comes back, they find Ron standing over a large barrel in Hagrid’s hut; a look of utter disgust disfigures his sweaty face as he presses on something the travellers can’t see.
“Hagrid, how many more do you need?” the boy asks as he throws aside what they now identify as a dead rat.
“Eww!” Lily shrieks when the dead and dry rat passes through her.
“One or two will do it Ron. Then yeh add the Brandy an’ his treat will be ready,” Hagrid answers without stopping his careful operation of healing a whimpering kneazle.
“Right,” Ron mumbles as he picks up another dead rat, makes a small incision with a knife and bleeds it dry. After doing the same with one last rat, Ron mixes a bottle of Brandy in the bucket of blood and brings his mix to the table where the dragon sleeps.
“May 7th; hey Gin, just some extra details on last night’s events. First, I was in the Hospital wing because stupid Norbert bit my hand with his apparently poisonous fangs. How did you like the dragon bite in mum and dad’s letter by the way? Did you even understand it?” Ron narrates in a worn out voice.
“Yes dad,” Hugo advises the boy in a disbelieving tone, “prod the sleeping dragon, that’ll turn out well.”
“Here’s your disgusting lunch Norbert,” Ron prods the dragon before passing the bucket under its snout. The dragon instantly awakes and shoots threatening sparks in Ron’s direction. The boy fails to identify the dragon’s warning and goes to grab the bucket. In a flash, Norbert jumps on Ron’s hand and digs his long fangs deep into the flesh.
“Arg!” Ron screams, trying to pull his hand free. “Hagrid! Do something!”
“Careful Ron, yeh’ll hurt him!” Hagrid growls as he gets closer to the scene. Softly, he caresses Norbert’s head and in an instant, the dragon lets go of its prey.
“Bloody crazy beast!” Ron says angrily, holding his hand in a painful way.
“It’s ok Norbert, the mean boy ain’t going to scare yeh anymore,” Hagrid tells the dragon in a sweet, loving voice while Ron bandages his hand with a dirty rag.
“Mean boy? I only did what you asked me to; it’s that thing that’s evil and attacked me for no reason!”
“An animal never attacks for nothing Ron; it is always a way o’ protecting himself,” Hagrid calmly explains. “Now yeh should go; yeh’re making him so nervous he can’t eat! Shush Norbert, he’s leaving now, yeh can calm down.”
“Damn right I’m leaving,” Ron grunts as Hagrid starts singing the first rhymes of ‘Three Little Mice’.
“He’s crazy,” Rose laughs at Hagrid’s tenderdess, “but I still love him so much.”
“I know,” Hugo nods with a smile, “he’s so entertaining; you never know waht to expect with him!”
When the door closes on Ron, the scene gets blown away and the travellers find themselves back in the Hospital Wing, following Ron as he leaves the place. The boy is all dressed up for the day with a freshly bandaged hand and he walks alone toward the Great Hall.
“Now because of this bloody painful, green hand I had, I couldn’t help Harry and Hermione in the task we set upon ourselves. You see, we love Hagrid; he’s a good guy but Norbert, well he’s a growing dragon; a dragon that could threaten our friend’s life. So in order to save Hagrid, we wrote to Charlie and asked if he could take Norbert out of our hands and he agreed. Last night was Norbert’s transfer night so Harry and Hermione went together to hand Norbert to some of Charlie’s friends.”
“That’s nice of them, and Uncle Charlie,” Lily smiles.
“He must have been so happy to receive a dragon for free like that!” Al responds.
Ron stops before entering the Great Hall, taking the time to scan the place, looking for his friends. The boy gives a surprised sigh just as the teenagers behind him do when they notice that Harry and Hermione are sitting with Neville at a respectable distance from the rest of the students.
“Hey guys,” Ron says in a careful way as he sits next to Neville, “what’s going on?”
“Didn’t you see the hourglass?” Harry asks in a dark, hoarse voice.
“No why? What – Did something go wrong?” Ron asks Harry and Hermione while giving Neville a sideway look.
“You could say that,” Harry answers, putting his untouched toast back down into his plate.
“Great job Potter,” a fourth year sarcastically calls when he passes behind the four first years. Ron frowns trying to understand what no one is telling him.
“Come on, let’s get out of here,” Hermione says, getting up.
“But I didn’t have time to eat anything!” Ron cries out.
“Please Ron,” Hermione pleads in a small voice; tears in her eyes.
“From what I heard, everything went great until Malfoy got them caught and now they have to serve detention together and with Neville too for some reason,” Ron narrates in an evasive kind of way as the four kids leave the Great Hall under the older Gryffindors’ dirty looks and mean comments.
“Malfoy again; he’s really getting on my nerves,” Lily mumbles angrily. Rose gives her cousin an apologetic look but keeps herself from commenting on the matter.
In silence they walk back to the practically empty common room. Probably sensing their need to be alone, Neville excuses himself with a shaky voice when the three others sit down and goes up to the dormitory.
“What the bloody hell happened yesterday?” Ron blurts out when Neville is out of sight.
“In short,” Harry answers, “Malfoy.”
“Oh man,” Ron murmurs in a sad voice, his ears growing red. “He showed up to see Norbert for himself didn’t he? Got scared that it was true and got you guys caught with him?”
“Worse; he got caught by Filch who then told McGonagall what we were up to, so she caught us while we were coming down the tower. Took fifty points from each of us plus detention.”
“A hundred and fifty points?” Ron shouts in disbelief. “This is so unfair! We barely got five points each for getting rid of the troll; McGonagall needs to do her maths again because this makes no bloody sense!”
“Yeah, we know.” Harry’s declaration is followed by a moment of silence while Ron takes in what he just learned.
“So, why is Neville involved in all this?”
“That’s actually the worst part,” Hermione says with a teary voice. “Neville heard Malfoy brag about what he was about to do so he went and tried to warn us; obviously getting himself caught in the process.”
“Please tell me at least something went according to plan and that Norbert is finally gone from our lives?” Ron asks in a last attempt to give this story a happy ending.
“Yeah, at least that part worked well,” Harry agrees, “but I forgot my cloak on the top of the tower though.”
“So this is how horrible our plan went and now I will actually be able to let you know what detentions at Hogwarts are like when they tell me more. At least the Norbert thing is over so we can get back to only worrying about Snape, Quirrell and the Stone! Bye, Ron.”
“Talk about a rough night,” Al mutters as the common room vanishes one more time.
So, how was it? What could have been better?? Let me know guys so I can make it even more enjoayble :)
Edited 7/02/10 thanks to my Beta Melissa aka Padfoot28!
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