Chapter 5 : Enigma
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I woke up just as the sunrise was poking it's way through the gaps in the mountains, quite aware of a stabbing pain in my right hand and looking down to find that it was tinged blue with cold. "Not good," I muttered under my breath, disentangling my legs from my sleeping bag and stepping out of the cave, hoping to find Sirius' Bluebell Flames.
It was still snowing and the jar was nowhere in sight, and I sighed, massaging my throbbing, numb-but-not-numb hand with my other relatively unscathed one.
"You're up early."
I closed my eyes briefly. Sirius. "Yeah. My hand..." I trailed off, stepping closer and holding it out to him instead of trying to explain it. He grimaced, immediately taking it into his own hands. They were big and warm and well, manly and I shuddered at the heat that transferred onto my frozen skin from them. "I couldn't find your Bluebell Flames," I explained, my brown eyes flickering up to meet his grey ones briefly.
"Couldn't you make your own?" he asked, thumb rubbing methodic circles over the back of my hand. It felt good. Really good.
"Uh. Well." I laughed uneasily, the heat rushing to my face (though because of the cold climate, it probably didn't make my cheeks much redder than they already were. It turned out there was one good thing about this damn weather). "I've never been good at that charm."
Even without the telltale blush I think he could tell that I was lying, but he didn't press the matters any further, instead removing one hand from mine and reaching into his pocket to pull out a miniature jar filled with flickering blue flames. "Here." I twisted my hand around in his so that the palm was facing upwards and he placed it gently in the centre there. As my fingers curled slowly around it he put his hand back over mine again, stepping closer to me. I inhaled quickly, eyes flashing up to meet his. "Why are you such an enigma to me, Emmeline?"
I shut my eyes briefly, too intoxicated by his hands around mine and his pointless, painful rhetorical question and his eyes boring into what seemed like my very soul. "Why do you want to know about me so much?" I breathed in reply. "I'm just a nobody."
"Nobody's a nobody."
I snorted, opening my eyes and looking at him again—but he was deadly serious. Enough to leave me swaying a little on my feet after just a few seconds. Why did he have to intoxicate me so? Swallowing, I disentangled my hand, pulling the little jar with me and stepping back. I could feel Marlene watching us from the cave, and knew that she probably wasn't pleased. Exes were no-go zones for friends, even if it had been back in school and we weren't even really friends anymore.
"So, what are we going to do today?" I asked, breathing in deeply and glancing between the two as I rolled the jar about uneasily between my hands. Doing that did little dispel the cold, but Sirius had warmed my hand up plenty already anyway.
"It should go simply," Sirius said after a moment. Even being a bloke I think he could sense the who uneasiness of the situation—something, which, for some reason, made me oddly proud of him. I can't imagine that James would have noticed the tension. "We've got to fly over, scout them out, map where they are. That's the easy bit. It'll probably take all morning. And then this afternoon we've got to do the real checking on them part. First we'll do it at a bird's eye view. And then, as long as things look safe enough, we'll go down and talk to them."
I swallowed, nodding slowly. I'd never seen a giant before (and nor did I really want to, but then this was my own damn fault I suppose) but I was pretty sure that if they chose to have us dead we would be dead, no question about it. I mean, all they had to do was step on us. And I didn't really think a killing curse would work on something that size, not that I would ever be able to muster the power to do a spell like that anyway. "Alright." I breathed out slowly, trying to remain calm. "We best get moving, then. Hey, Marlene, have you got any spare gloves?"
By God, they were big. They towered up to twenty feet tall, which perhaps didn't sound so large in essential figures—but I'm telling you, they were big enough that I was sure one could grab me and eat me whole in one simple movement. There were three of them, one slightly smaller than the others, and Sirius and Marlene seemed convinced that they were a relatively peaceful group. I wasn't so sure myself, but then again who was I to have an opinion? The smaller one had had fangs and had been snarling rather viciously at the other two when we'd passed over though, which was enough to make me perpetually terrified, even if beneath those massive teeth they were quite friendly.
We headed back for a lunch of tomato soup and frankfurters, and for Sirius to collect some 'gifts' for the giants.
"What are you doing with all of those?" I had asked him, eyeing the big hunks of meat that he was stuffing into a small pouch (undetectable extension charm, obviously).
"Gifts," he grunted, pummelling a fatty looking piece with his fist in an effort to squeeze it through the pouch's opening. "If you don't come bearing gifts when you talk to giants, it's likely that they'll kill you out of boredom." My eyes widened and my jaw fell slack, and he glanced across at me and snickered at my reaction. "Relax, Vance. These ones seemed tame enough. Even without the gifts I doubt that they would try and kill us." I gnawed at my lip, not so convinced by this.
"All we're gonna do is pop in, ask them if they're affiliated with You-Know-Who or not, and then pop out," Marlene said, scooping her blonde hair back into a ponytail and sending me a reassuring smile. Problems with her character aside, I was discovering that she was handling this entire situation a whole lot better than I was.
Actually going down to the giants' level felt like a suicide mission, but I followed after Sirius and Marlene anyway as they soared downwards, gritting my teeth and trying to not let the terror overtake me. The other two had been perfectly calm about this—why couldn't I be, too? "It's just some friendly giants, Emmeline," I told myself sternly as we hit the ground, though my voice grew in pitch as I caught sight of one giants' foot right in my eye line. One step from them and I could be dead.
They'd caught sight of us by now, obviously (even if we were probably the size of what sparrows or perhaps particularly large insects were to humans) and as Sirius pointed his wand to his throat to help himself be heard I shuffled in closer to his side, trying to avoid the massive green-eyed gaze of the one standing closest.
"HELLO, GIANTS!" he called. His voice boomed around us, echoing from mountain to mountain to mountain, and I winced slightly. "WE HAVE COME TO YOU BEARING GIFTS—" He raised the pouch in demonstration (understandably, the giants looked a little confused. The bag was only the size of a pinprick to them, after all) "—AND WE WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU A FEW QUESTIONS, IF THAT IS ALRIGHT." Still holding his wand to his throat, Sirius passed the bag to Marlene, and from it she pulled a big hunk of meat. As one of the giants bent down and used a big thumb and forefinger to pull it from her outstretched arm I let out a little squeak, hiding myself behind Sirius. I'd no doubt get teased about this later, but for the moment I wasn't in the right mindset to care.
My eyes were wide as they followed the movements of the giant who'd taken the meat, and I whimpered as he ate it whole, not even chewing more than once. And then he turned to one of his companions and said something that sounded a bit like, "Heemu oxif jungbar olf." That was the most accurate way I could describe it—it wasn't in English or any other language like that, for any matter. And then the other giant came forward, each footstep making the ground beneath our feet shudder, and he bent down too and held out his hand towards us.
"Meat, he wants the meat," I said shakily, although Marlene already seemed to have realised that since she was pulling another piece out of the pouch and handing it to him. Just like his friend, the giant ate it in one bite.
"IF YOU COULD JUST ANSWER OUR QUESTIONS NOW, THAT WOULD BE GREAT," Sirius said from beside me, his booming voice making me jump.
"Grodo heemu nu," the first giant said. He was the one with green eyes—the other two, I'd noticed, had brown. He was looking down at us, and I was pretty sure that he was addressing us, too.
"Can giants speak English?" I asked, eyeing the green-eyed one with uneasiness.
"Not always," Marlene replied.
"I don't think these ones speak English," I said after a moment, stating the obvious. They were still all watching us, even the smaller one (who, I'd realised after a bit of examination, was a female—that wasn't hard to see, given that they were all basically nude). And that's when I started to feel the panic set in. "What do we do now?"
"Leave?" suggested Sirius, holding his wand away from his throat for a moment.
"Heemu olf plodge," the small one said. He was looking at us, and I was kind of scared about the emotions in his eyes. He looked half-curious, half-angry (but then, all giants looked half-angry in my opinion. It was just part of all of their genes).
"Can we do that?" I asked, my voice a squeak. We were all still holding our broomsticks.
"Drop the meat, Marlene," Sirius said gruffly, pushing his wand into his pocket and straddling his broom. After a second or two delay, I did the same—but as Marlene dropped the meat and mounted her own broom quick as a flash, something about the dynamics between the three giants changed. And that's when I started to feel the terror set in. It seemed like all at once they were all lunging at us, all three, and I screamed out loud, kicking off in synchronisation with Sirius and Marlene.
"Heemu! Heemu! Heemu!" they were yelling as I put my old seeking skills into practise and swerved around them. For a moment I tried to imagine that all they were were Quidditch stands that I had to swerve around to catch the snitch, that their fists were only bludgers sent my way by mean Slytherin beaters with big burly figures and bad hair. That vision, however, was violently interrupted when something hard collided with my chest, knocking me off of my broom with one clean sweep—and wrapped it's fingers around me. I screamed again, this time with even more terror before because I was pretty sure that I was in the clasp of lady giant.
Through the haze of terror I was aware of Sirius' head turning and his gaze locking with mine, of Marlene swerving around on her broom too even though in my imaginings of any situation like this I hadn't expected her to risk her life for mine. And then they were firing spells at the giant holding me, jets of green and red and gold and white and blue coming from what seemed like all directions. Some hit and some didn't, but there was little or no effect on lady giant. Meanwhile her fingers were still wrapped tight around me, and I pummelled at her skin, knowing that it was no use but feeling like it was the only thing I could do to try and help my cause.
And then all of a sudden she was moving me around a lot, and I clutched onto her hand tightly as her arm arched back. As my eyes focused on what was happening in front of me I was startled to find that she was holding me away from the other two giants, her fangs bared and her eyes threatening. What was she doing?
"She wants to trade you for the meat!" Sirius called, and I turned my head with a start to find that he wasn't that far behind me. I was a little disappointed that he hadn't tried to act the hero and come to pull me out of the madwoman's grip, but I supposed he must have realised what was happening long before I had—that my safety in this situation was guaranteed, though, I wasn't sure. Obviously he was sure (or else he didn't give a damn about my life, and I was really hoping that that wasn't true).
The male giants were staring at lady giant like she was crazy, and I let out a squeak as they all started shouting at each other in giant language and snarling, feeling utterly defenceless and utterly vulnerable clutched in her hand like this. Just like I'd imagined she could stuff me in her mouth and eat me whole in the blink of an eye, and as another vicious snarl erupted from her lips I didn't doubt that it was something that she would do.
And then the green-eyed giant tossed over the meat. It landed with a thud at lady giant's feet. And that's when I foresaw what was coming and squeezed shut my eyes like the world depended on it, a silent scream shaping my mouth into a perfect 'O'. And then she let me go—no, she didn't even do that, she threw me. I was sailing through the air, except it wasn't as graceful as that. My arms and legs flailed and kicked and my hair whipped out if it's ponytail, flying in my face and in my mouth and my eyes and I was quite aware of the impending ground that was coming up closer and closer to meet my body. I was numb and I was terrified and I was not ready to die and no matter how much I wanted my eyes to stay closed I couldn't stop them from opening wide and staring, staring at the ground—
—Staring at Sirius who'd suddenly appeared out of nowhere and was wrapping one arm tight around my waist, his breath quick and shallow in my ear as I finally figured out how to use my arms again and grabbed a hold of the front of his jacket, tucking myself in closer to him and squeezing my eyes shut. We were sailing through the air, except this time it was different because it was we not I and because he was on a broom and because the giants were getting smaller and smaller as we left them behind.
"Tame enough, huh?" I breathed shakily, thumping him in the chest. He laughed aloud, just as shaky as me. I could feel it reverberate through his chest and I moved myself even closer, unafraid because I was safe.
A/N - I am so, so sorry that it's taken me so long to get this up. In truth, I wrote it all in the span of one evening and it's just taken me two whole months to find the time two write it. I hope that the content makes up for the wait, though! I wasn't really sure whether it'd be classed as overly dramatic to have this happen, but I decided meh why not, life is short and this is a fanfiction. XD
I'd love to hear what you think in the comments. Add to faves if you like it, too! ^_^