Chapter 1 : Elephant
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I hope you enjoy it.
Susan glanced down at her wrist; the second hand ticked quick away. Ten fifty-eight; two minutes til her favorite class that day.
While students filed in, she pulled her wand out as she waited, and cast the spell last mastered; one she'd for years anticipated. A bright white mouse now swam before her; not just a shapeless cloud, but a corporeal patronus. Her Aunt Amelia would be proud. As the critter circled 'round her, she couldn't help but grin, but soon the clock struck eleven and their Professor bustled in.
"Morning, morning, take you seats! I've a great day planned for you! But before we get to that, let's take a moment to review!" His voice was always nasally, his specs always askew, and he always wore the same old pair of high-pitched squeaky shoes. And though we all knew where we were, he had habits as a teacher, so he still wrote on the board, 'This is Protecting Magical Creatures.'
"Now, focus this past month has been on dragons! Yes, indeed! So who out there remembers all 10 of the pure-bred breeds?" Hands shot up like lightning. "Yes, yes, yes, just shout them out!"
"The Swedish Short-Snout!"
Answers continued rolling until all ten breeds were claimed. "Excellent! Now who knows why these beasts are hard to tame?"
Susan's hand raised; Odment pointed. "Yes, you - I forget the name."
Of course he can't remember; I mean, it's only been two years. And in a class of only twenty, why should I stand out from my peers?
She held her tongue back and instead reminded who she was. "I'm Susan Bones, sir. And one reason is their skin because, while some breeds shells are softer, none are easy to break through. Also, Dragons are immune to almost every potion brewed. In fact, the biggest complaint that most dragon trainers voice is that Sleeping Draughts don't work on them, but if they had the choice they'd prefer to knock the dragons out into a sleep that's deeper. It would be easier and safer for both the dragons and their keepers. Er, the last thing I can think of, besides their talons, teeth, and size, is that devices, such as foeglass, will never show their eyes. While Dark Detectors were designed with humans in mind, it's been shown that they can work with species of another kind. But as we learned from activist Sir Barnaby le Pope: a dragon set to eat you won't set off a Sneakoscope."
Professor Odment gave a chuckle as he looked around the room, and with a bounce he did announce "A thorough answer, that, Miss Boone!"
Susan cringed at the mistaken name, but chose to let it be. No point reiterating what he'll just forget next week.
"Now, class, before announcing what this fine day has in store, let's cover dragon's blood and the twelve things it's used for."
The class had learned eleven uses of the blood so far; like when spread on dark magic wounds, it reduces any scar. They also knew it acted as a dirty oven cleaner and, when mixed with green tea leaves, could make a person leaner. It removes spots, unclogs drains, untangles any fur, and... Well, she never could remember what the last six were.
After all the uses learned so far had been repeated back, Professor Odment taught them of the only use that they still lacked. "Their blood, when mixed with leaves and bark from a Wiggentree, can help to heal an illness that otherwise would be deadly. But not all species can survive consumption of the paste, and those who can survive it can't always stomach the taste. However, its been proven that humans may safely drink it, but I promise you it tastes much worse than you'd ever care to think it." The Professor scrunched his nose, removed his specs and gave a sigh. "Well, that wraps this lesson up! If you'd all follow me outside..."
It made sense what they were seeing now; most had figured it out: A large field lay out before them, inside a Portuguese Long-Snout.
Odment eyed them with amusement and adjusted his bow-tie. "Today's task is quite straightforward: Just make it to the other side." To the ear it sounded simple, but as she looked across the way she thought the field looked quite unending; 100 meters to be prey. "You'll be working with the partners you've been learning with all week. But first a word of caution: This challenge is not for the meek. If one person in your duo feels that they are not prepared, you have all week still to do this! We'll push the date back if you're scared."
Susan swallowed hard and thought back to the last challenge they'd had: Removing rings strung round the stinger of some very, very mad Blast-Ended Skrewts. If she'd thought that was such a tough challenge to face, in the shadow of this challenge, that task looked like child's play.
"Now as you make your voyage from Point A to Point B, remember what you're here for: to protect a dying breed. And while of course it is important that you first protect yourself, as big and scary as Bruce looks, he's frightened as an old house-elf! So have we any volunteers?" came the Professors nasal voice.
Most weeks he simply threw them in; it was nice to have a choice.
Susan glanced across the way to the partner she'd been assigned: A Slytherin she knew from school who went by the name Klyde. He lived a very privileged life with his widowed mother, who said if he passed any course, she'd spoil him like no other. He'd told Susan that he chose this class to have some fun, but she knew he really came 'cause he thought this an easy one.
Klyde didn't catch her eye, but when she saw his smug expression, she volunteered the two.
"Miss Banes! Your partner for this lesson?"
"Klyde Stately, sir," she answered.
Then Klyde's head whipped right around. "What? No way!" he demanded, kicking dirt up from the ground. "I mean, I'm not scared, it's just that, well, she's not good enough! I can't survive a dragon partnered with a Hufflepuff!"
It was true that to the eye, Susan wasn't much to see; her frame was unimpressive and her voice was rather meek. She'd always been a bit too small for both her clothes and ears. In fact, when she was young, her mother called her 'Mouse' for years.
She could almost understand why his skeptisism was. Still, his assumption wasn't fair. "What's it matter-"
"It just does!" Klyde cut Susan off abrubtly, both their temperments were rising.
"Now now, you two," Odment said. "The results could be surprising."
Klyde just scoffed and said "No, not when Hufflepuff's your house!"
But Susan quietly reminded, "An elephant's scared of a mouse."
"I'm sorry, but protection doesn't come from being 'nice'! Back me up," Klyde asked the class. "She's gonna freeze out there like ice!"
"Puffs aren't good protectors, sir. I agree with Klyde," chimed in his girlfriend, Amabelle. "With her he's gonna die."
Susan yelled, "I can protect myself. I learned the same as you ! I'm not stupid," but their expressions read they thought that wasn't true.
"Then tell me: If old Bruce looked at you like you were a feast, would you kill him to protect yourself? Would you slay the beast?" His eyes were dark and narrow, his voice was low and gruff.
"No," she answered.
He laughed. "Well, dear, that's why you're a Hufflepuff."
The words so condescending aimed to hurt her, meant to sting. He spoke as if compassion was a weak and foolish thing.
"Sir, I don't want her as my partner! We've all seen her spell work fail! She's not a good witch," Klyde accused.
Susan felt her face go pale. "That's not fair!" she snapped, trying to keep her voice below a shout.
Professor Odment cleared his throat. "Perhaps you should sit this one out."
With her disbelief a fuel, she stood with no sway to her stance, and fiercely yelled, "No, I can do this! If you'd just give me the chance!"
Although in war she proved potential, they saw her as inconsequential.
Why was the hieracrchy the same? Would she never be enough? After everything that happened, how could they look at Hufflepuff with that same upturned expression? With their noses in the air? If even war could not persuade them, she knew they'd never treat her fair.
They were still stuck in their own ways, all so terribly blinded. Frustrated, she asked, "How can you be so narrow-minded? You think that only Gryffindor can host someone who's brave! That if you're not in Ravenclaw, you've clearly got no brains! You call yourself ambitious, but us others couldn't be because to you only a true Snake could have great plans to succeed! You look at me and think 'A 'Puff: slacker, dumb and scared'; like there's just no possibility that I could somehow share in those same qualities. But Klyde? You better listen closely, dear..." Susan looked him dead on in the eye, "It's me that you should fear. I'm all three of your Houses."
Klyde paused, but quickly grinned. "Yeah, whatever, Hufflepuff."
"I say you do it. Let's begin!" called out Professor Odment.
Time to prove yourself again.
"You ready, 'Puff?" came Klyde's snide challenge.
Susan whispered, "Just say when."
While gazing through the force-field that kept the dragon centered, she almost missed when Odment told the two that they could enter.
Susan thought back on his words, "Just make it to the other side," deciding that would be much simpler if they had anyplace to hide. But they were right out in the open and, with Bruce's perfect sight, they were spotted as they entered from the corner on the right. From far away, Bruce seemed okay. She wished here they could remain. Instead the gap between them tightened, and more anxious Bruce became.
Still they drew nearer, closing in, and from 10 meters away, Bruce decided they meant danger and finally came out to play.
In the instant that the dragon stood and let out a fiery yell, Klyde U-turned abruptly, but instead of fleeing, tripped and fell. As soon as Susan saw that Klyde refused to stick around, she knew she had to find a way to end the danger now.
Retreating very slowly, hoping Bruce would let her be, Susan saw large groups of pebbles on the ground beneath her feet. She cocked her head and thought of words that made her small feet stop.
"Ah, this one loves Transfiguration and it chose you, so no more swaps. 12 inches, Ash and springy; a brilliant kind to own. With a Dragon Heartstring center. The perfect wand for you, Miss Bones."
With Mr Ollivander's words now ringing through her ears, she whispered 'Avis' to the pebbles, each time low and clear. When finally the pebbles had formed enough birds for a flock, she sent them towards the dragon, thinking thank goodness for rocks! But rather than attacking Bruce, she had a another plan. The birds kept flying round his head, on and on they swam. She hoped the flock would interest Bruce, that the birds would change her fate.
Come on, Bruce, just follow. Take the bait, please, take the bait!
Finally the dragon thought the birds a bigger threat. Susan flew them to the side and Bruce followed where they went.
Although Bruce had hardly made a move, Susan still felt proud. She turned to see Klyde lying fetal on the solid ground. His wand was lying about a meter in front of where he lay, so Susan called out 'Accio' and approached without delay.
"See? I'm all three of your Houses, but more than that, I'm kind. And I'd rather put my pride aside than let you fall behind." Susan offered up a helping hand, but Klyde just looked away. She felt her jaw drop in surprise. With nothing left to say Susan shook her head, shut her eyes, and let her hand retract, but before she could move further, something stopped her in her tracks; the firm grasp of his calloused hand was pulling her right back.
He insincerely muttered, "Sorry." But still, it was enough. They crossed the field, she smiled.
That's why I'm a Hufflepuff.
This one-shot was originally written for the 2012 House Cup First Task, and inspired by these Prompts:
- features your House’s Champion (5 points)
- mentions at least 4 specific breeds of dragon (5 points)
- mentions a Blast-Ended Skrewt (5 points)
- features a dragon (10 points)
- mentions a Sleeping Draught (10 points)
- mentions 2 of the following types of magic: a transfiguration spell, a sleeping spell, the conjunctivitis curse, the summoning charm (accio) (15 points)
- includes mention of at least 5 of the 12 uses for dragon's blood (canon or made up by the author) (15 points)
- mentions at least 2 of the following types of Dark Detectors: Foe-Glass, Sneakoscope, Secrecy Sensor, or Probity-Probe (15 points)
- features a theme of flourishing in the face of adversity (25 points)
- mentions the details of your Champion’s Wand, as provided by your Head of House (25 points)
Reviews are always welcome and sincerely appreciated, but either way, thank you for reading.