Chapter 18 : The Question
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ISOBEL went through most of the week without realizing that Tristan had left the castle. He skipped a lot of classes as it was, so she simply assumed that his absence had been the result of his most recent indiscretion with Laurel. Isobel would have been furious with her fellow Ravenclaw, as it had been that poisonous relationship that had pushed Emily away from them all. But, in the days since, Isobel had noted a significant change for the better in her friend’s attitude. It was tedious hiding Laurel’s wand every night and recovering it every morning, but far preferable to the alternative.
“Tristan was out again today,” Laurel mused after Defense with the Slytherins.
“Yeah I saw,” said Isobel as Laurel handed back her wand.
They only had Herbology and History of Magic before supper, so Laurel wouldn’t need it again until Monday. Isobel skipped the beginning of History in order to store the wand over the weekend (Binns wouldn’t notice if she arrived late). She was cautious as she moved through the castle, not wanting to be caught skiving. After carefully peering around the corner, Isobel turned into the corridor leading to the Hufflepuff dormitories, and stopped in front of the painting of fruit. After checking again that no one was coming, Isobel tickled the pear in the still life, and was admitted to the Hogwarts kitchens. The little elves scattered as she stepped into their domain, averting their eyes and rushing to various tasks far away from Isobel. Gone were their days of gracious hospitality.
“We is not supposed to be having wands, miss,” an elf had told Isobel when she'd first thought of the kitchens as a hiding place.
“I just need to keep it here, I’ll put it out of your way,” Isobel had pleaded.
“We is not stopping you, miss,” the elf had responded, wide eyed. “But we is having no part in it.”
From that point on, the Hogwarts elves had treated Isobel like she was contagious every morning and night that she visited the kitchens, and they avoided the cupboard where she stashed the wand as if it might explode. Isobel felt bad exploiting the kitchens in this way, but she could think of no safer place (and the elves’ fear of the wand only made them more ideal caretakers).
Isobel pulled the painting closed behind her, guilty, but resolved. Laurel still didn’t know about the kitchens, or how to get in, and Isobel had no other choice. She was distracted, lost in thought, as she climbed the stairs into the Entrance Hall, and found herself face-to-face with professor Sprout.
POMONA looked the young Ravenclaw up and down; their little clique would be the end of her.
“And what exactly are you doing out of class, Miss Mostafa?” she demanded.
“I was—” the girl gulped. “I was looking for you.”
Pomona sighed, and directed the girl to her office. She’d been considering inviting, or demanding, Isobel to guidance for weeks. Pomona had encountered several eating disorders during her time as a guidance counselor.
“How can I help you,” Pomona asked, kindly, as Isobel took her seat across the desk.
“It’s Tristan,” the Ravenclaw responded, throwing Pomona for a loop. “It’s just he hasn’t shown up for classes or meals.”
“Yes,” Pomona recovered, adjusting to the unexpected topic. “Yes it was a very serious incident, but I dare say he’ll be back soon enough.”
“He hexed out,” Isobel guessed, and as she did, her world seemed to collapse.
“No, not at all,” Pomona assured her, startled for the second time. “No that isn’t the reason, dear.”
“Then what?” Isobel asked. “Where’s he gone?”
Pomona considered the situation. It was, she suspected, some violation of ethics to divulge the reason for a student’s suspension. Then again, it seemed cruel to worry the young witch unnecessarily.
“Mr. Bryce has been suspended,” came Pomona’s judicious reply. “I do not know for what period of time.”
“Why?” Isobel demanded, furious, presupposing some injustice.
“Mr. Bryce was selling narcotics to the students of this school,” Pomona replied, more severely than she had intended. Despite her liberal views on marijuana use, Pomona maintained that it was absolutely wrong to distribute the substance to children—and some of the students Filch had caught had been as young as thirteen.
“No he hasn’t!” Isobel insisted. “You got it wrong!”
“A search of his dormitory provided ample evidence,” countered Pomona, curt.
“Yeah I bet,” Isobel rolled her eyes. “But he’d never sell it, he wouldn’t spare it.”
“He confessed,” Pomona offered, hoping to eliminate further doubt. Isobel looked stunned, and groaned something that sounded like 'Emily.'
“I’ve got to tell Emily,” Isobel gulped, looking up. “It’s just,” Isobel glanced around, pained. “She’s been so worried.”
ISOBEL waited for Emily at supper. She should have sat History of Magic with Laurel, but when Laurel appeared at the Ravenclaw table, Emily was nowhere to be seen (probably out, carelessly sharing a spliff with some Hufflepuffs). It was twenty minutes before Emily sauntered into the Great Hall, her face pink with cold, flanked by the entire Hufflepuff team. How long until she shacks up with another seventh year? Isobel thought for a cruel moment.
She kept watch over dinner, but didn’t find an opening to speak with Emily. Isobel had to do it soon, tonight, and she had to do it in person—she couldn’t risk an owl. Finally, Emily excused herself, and headed toward the girls’ toilets. Isobel waited a beat, then followed.
“Oi,” shouted Emily, uncharacteristically gruff, as she emerged from a stall. “What’s with the stalking, then? You know I saw you watching me at dinner.”
“You’ve got to stop,” Isobel said, stronger than she felt.
Emily, who was halfway to a sink, froze and turned.
“What?” she asked, piqued, for some reason.
“With selling spliff, you and the twins both,” Isobel replied, and her voice had the edge of begging. “No more deliveries from Lucas, you’ll be caught. Get rid of what you have, I don’t care how.”
“Yeah, you don’t care,” Emily snarled, approaching the sink and turning the tap. “I swear,” she said, sparing a backwards glance. “It’s like you’re in love with me.”
The accusation came like a slap, and Isobel fought back.
“What’s gotten into you,” Isobel cried, shoving Emily, who looked stunned and wounded. “Can’t you see I’m trying to help?” Isobel pushed her again.
“Bugger off,” Emily yelled back, recovering, and shoving Isobel in turn. “I don’t need you to protect me all the time.”
“Don’t be so bloody dim,” roared Isobel. “They think it was Tristan,” Isobel shouted, then lowered her voice. “They caught on someone was dealing, and he confessed. He took the fall for you.” Isobel saw Emily deflating. “He’s been suspended.”
Emily reached into her robes pocket, and produced a piece of folded parchment. Isobel raised an eyebrow as Emily handed it over.
“Siouxsie delivered this Monday night,” explained Emily, her gentleness restored.
You have to stop doing what you are doing, it read.
“I didn’t know what he meant,” Emily went on. “I thought he was just being an arsehole, really.”
“Well like I said,” Isobel spat. “You’ve been dim. Just do as I said, yeah. Get rid of what you’ve got and stop the deliveries from Lucas, because I won’t help if you cock it all up again.”
Isobel shoved the note back to Emily, turned on her heel, and left the Hufflepuff alone in the girls’ toilets.
Over the next two weeks Isobel and Laurel discussed every angle of Tristan’s suspension, their distance with Emily, and Laurel’s role in their group’s destruction.
“Well it’s not just your fault, is it?” Isobel said again, they’d rehashed this subject several times already. “If Em wanted him, she would have gone for it. It’s not like she doesn’t know how to get a bloke in bed. And if Tristan really liked Emily, then it was up to him to go after her instead of you.”
“But it isn’t like that,” Laurel moaned, picking at a loose thread in the common room carpet. “We didn’t like each other in that way. It’s just once we did it and it wasn’t weird after, we knew we could do it again.”
“It wasn’t weird after?” Isobel countered rhetorically.
“I mean just with us two, it wasn’t. And he does like Emily, he really does a lot, he just didn’t want to hurt her.”
“Yeah shagging you was a great way to avoid that,” Isobel scoffed. “And what about you, doesn’t it hurt you that he liked her?”
“Well, it’s not like I’m properly jealous of her,” Laurel said. “I’d actually be glad of it if they got together. I suppose it’s just that I’d like to be a person who could be loved like that.”
Isobel crooned appropriately, and assured that Laurel could be loved and everything else a friend should say, but privately the sentiment struck a familiar chord within Isobel. She tried to recover:
“Well it’s not that Em really deserves all that love,” Isobel suggested cruelly. “She’s been a right bitch and a duffer.”
“Oh, Em’s great and you know it. She’s the best, really,” Laurel mused. “I know you miss her too.”
Isobel tried to shoot down the notion, true though it was, that she missed Emily. Emily had, even without meaning to, forced a question—a question Isobel didn’t want, and wasn’t yet ready, to ask.
It was Saturday, almost four weeks into Tristan’s suspension, and he hadn’t come back yet. This close to exams, Isobel wondered whether he’d be able to come back to Hogwarts at all next year. She was still angry with him for destroying everything, and she had no intention of being his friend again, but Isobel wasn’t unreasonable. She didn’t want him to end up destitute or dead.
Laurel, on the other hand, had finally managed to catch up on her coursework, and stood a fair chance at scraping a few O.W.L.s. They’d spent most of the day reviewing practical material like wandwork, which Laurel had been having an easier time of. Isobel wanted badly to finish an essay for Quirrel, even though it wasn’t due for another week (without meaning to, she kept drafting brilliant paragraphs in her head, and wanted to get them down before she forgot). Laurel really only needed practice, so Isobel handed over her own wand, and Laurel got to work transfiguring and charming. Isobel supervised her friend’s wand access as her essay grew to several centimeters of parchment over the requirement.
Around nine o’ clock, Isobel stretched and considered turning in her essay early. They’d barely left the common room all day, and she was happy for some exercise.
“Come on, I’m just getting really good at color changes,” Laurel pleaded, not wanting Isobel to go, taking with her both the wand, as well as the supervision it required.
“Yeah, I think you’re doing ace,” agreed Isobel. “You don’t need any more practice.”
Laurel groaned, and passed Isobel her wand back.
Isobel was glad for having dropped off her essay when she did, because Quirrel invited her in for tea, as she’d hoped. Her mind was on fire with new ideas, and she found her discussions with the Defense professor immensely rewarding.
“Obviously, it’s very crude magic,” said Isobel, an exciting concept almost fully formed. “But I think with some research and experimentation, wizards could absolutely free-fly.”
They had been discussing the possibility of flight, unassisted by broomsticks or carpets. The most serious issue with any theoretical model was landing: the impact would break your ankles.
“Suppose you just s-sort of,” Quirrel mused. “Just, p-patch it up after.”
Isobel balked and gave a nervous laugh. “What, let them break?”
“Sure." Quirrel smiled back. "Why n-not?”
“Well like I said," she went on. "The magic that can create controlled hovering is a far way off from flying, and it would need a lot of rethinking, during which time someone could surely solve the landing issue."
“So do you know what’s in this potion?” Quirrel asked for the second time.
“I don’t know the names of the ingredients, they’re all native to Tibet, but I know it reconstitutes your chest and abdomen to have these sort of air cavities, and it reduces bone mass, to make them lighter. I think someone could figure out a spell to accomplish the same thing, and it would be less destructive, and reversible.”
“Fascinating,” he whispered again, gripping his tea in both hands. “Dear m-me, look at the time. I regret to say I might have kept you past curfew.”
Isobel glanced at the clock, and realized that her professor was right.
“Shall I walk you back to Ravenclaw T-Tower then?” he offered. “It would be a p-pity if you got detention on m-my account.”
Isobel accepted his offer (reminded of Dumbledore escorting Laurel) and continued chatting on as she followed him to the door. Rather than open it, her turned back around. Isobel stopped short, surprised.
"Sorry." She took a step back, dropping her eyes to the flagstone.
Cold fingers came as a shock at her chin. She recoiled with a sharp breath. Quirrel was standing ever closer, face mere centimeters from her own.
"Dear me," he said, drawing back, and any hint of a stutter had vanished. "I believe I may have misread you."
Isobel's mind raced but struggled to catch up. A few confused words spluttered at her lips as her eyes darted between her professor and the door.
"I... don't..." Blood pounded in her ears and she felt sure that the world had just lurched violently to one side. "Don't know what you mean, 'misread'..."
Bumping into the chair, she realized she'd been edging backwards. Quirrel's posture straightened, face harder than she'd ever seen.
"Don't play games, Miss Mostafa." His words came sharp. "You've been seeking out these little talks all year."
"But-" She felt helpless. Dizzy. "You're m-my professor, and..."
"Are you now pretending that you hadn't been encouraging this?"
"N-no! I never... That wasn't..." Isobel reeled, feeling sick and foolish.
A wince shuddered over Quirrel's face and his raised a hand to his temple. One muscle twitched under his eye.
"Yes," he said, but it didn't sound like he was talking to her. "Yes I understand."
Wringing the sleeves of her robes, the sound of her own breath rose around her. "I'll just... go, then."
"Not yet!" he snapped and she flinched. Her eyes began to sting. "I can't have you go off and make... Wild accusations about me."
"It would only be your word against mine, and I've done nothing here."
Isobel just nodded, nodded, nodded, vision blurring.
"You're just a silly schoolgirl with a crush."
"I'm not! I wasn't-" The words struggled against the lump in her throat. The tears felt like acid against her cheeks.
"You will say nothing."
There were no longer words with which to reply. Eyes and nose ran while shoulders shook, and the Defense professor just stood, looking.
"Get out," he finally said and the door opened with a groan.
Torchlight flickered in the corridor, casting long shadows along the stone walls. Isobel heard each of her hesitant footsteps. Clack. Clack. Clack. Every detail seemed enhanced and hair stood on end. The sound of the door snapping shut behind her shook her to her bones.
And then, she ran.
Faster, faster through the gloom she tore, propelling herself further, further away. Waves of nausea broke and crashed, and her sharpened eyes saw something in the shadows. Movement in the statue of the one-eyed witch. The firelight dancing over its face made it look almost alive. And it's hump was beginning to open.
A scream tore from Isobel's throat as her heels slid against the floor. She landed hard, feeling grit under her palms as she scrambled backwards away. A dark space was gaping ever wider in the statue.
A sharp pain pierced at her back, followed by a deafening crash. She'd knocked over a suit of armor. The noise continued to echo in the dark as the helmet rolled across the flagstone.
Stumbling frantically to her feet, she looked again at the statue of the witch, and a face emerged. Then another. Red hair, freckles, index fingers pressed against their lips.
"Come on," they urged, tugging Isobel into the secret passage.
“Lumos,” said Fred or George and she held up her hand against the glare. Nerves screamed with everything from fury to fear to shame.
One of the twins hushed her, and what might have been meant as comforting, Isobel took as a warning. She began scrambling up, up through the passage, away from the corridor where she'd made such a racket, and her professor in his terrible office.
“What’s happening, Izzy?” came a voice, maybe George’s, but lacking its usual jaunty air Isobel couldn’t be sure.
“Iz, come on, what’s going on?” Fred asked. It was definitely Fred.
Isobel kept walking, sobbing, not sure what to say.
“Have you been attacked or something?” asked George.
“You were crying so loud we could hear you in here. And why were you running?”
“Word to the wise,” George said, tripping over the rocky floor. “If you’ve been caught past curfew, best not wake the whole school by blubbering and knocking over a suit of armor.”
"He tried to snog me." The words had barely come out before she was overcome again by convulsive tears.
The twins made disgusted noises but Isobel only cried harder. At their insistence, they stopped and sat, and Isobel relived the confused story.
"What a bloody git," George snarled after much comforting of Isobel and condemnation of Professor Quirrel. "You ought to have cursed him."
Isobel's face felt raw and chapped from crying.
“Alright, someone needs a night out of the castle," Fred announced, standing back up and offering her his hand. "It's no place for you in here."
"But... how?" she sniffled.
George just grinned. "You'll see."
When they’d finally reached the end of the passage Fred pressed a finger to his lips and ever so carefully pushed up a trapdoor on the ceiling. George extinguished his wand, and the three silently climbed up into the room beyond. The dark was oppressive against Isobel’s blinking eyes, but she surmised she was in some sort of cellar. Before she could adjust and get her bearings, Fred was leading her up the stairs.
They were in Honeydukes! George whispered Alohamora, and they crept out the door onto the high street. Fred locked the door behind them and the twins began up the road.
“Where are we going?” Isobel asked in the loudest whisper she could manage.
“To get pissed, of course." George linked his arm with hers, urging her to pick up the pace away from the shop they’d just broken-and-exited.
Within a few short minutes, they were approaching the Hog's Head. Isobel remembered so many months ago when she and Laurel had had the same idea, savoring for a moment the sting of how much had changed. George wet the cuff of his robe on his tongue and wiped Isobel’s ruined eye-makeup from her cheeks. She didn’t recoil at his motherly gesture, but did wipe the spit off her cheeks with her own sleeve after.
“Alright friends,” called Fred, rallying the trio. “A new frontier.”
The pub was grimy and smokey, exactly as Isobel had pictured. A motley group of warlocks played cards off in a corner, among them the Hogwarts groundskeeper. Isobel and the twins stepped hastily out of his eye line. He was drunk, roaring with laughter and ruddy faced, but likely to notice their uniforms if they lingered in his sight.
“I don’t serve students,” the ancient barkeeper barked as the approached.
“Oh, we’re not students,” George said, their uniforms ever conspicuous.
“Yeah, we’ve just come from a fancy-dress party,” Fred invented wildly.
“Three shots of Bilshen’s.” Isobel dropped a purse of gold onto the bar.
The barkeep looked down at the money then up at the three conspicuously underage students. “Two galleons a piece."
The twins began to splutter in protest at the exorbitant bribe, but Isobel fished out the coins without hesitation. Their shots poured, Isobel threw down a few knuts and a sickle as well.
“And we’d like a private parlor,” she ordered. They were out of sight of the groundskeeper, but the card game in the corner made Isobel wary. Another player had arrived, his face obscured by a hooded cloak. He’d been glancing over to the Hogwarts students, and something about him made the hairs on Isobel’s neck prickle uncomfortably. The bartender led the three teenagers to a private parlor up the stairs where they ordered a round of lager.
Within the hour, Isobel and her third year mates were smashed.
“Tristan went down for it, blimey!” Fred exclaimed at the gossip.
“What a bloke,” agreed George. “A real mensche.”
“We’re not messing with all that again, you’ve got our word.” Fred nodded.
Isobel enjoyed a cathartic outpouring of her anxieties, which the twins listened to and commented on appropriately. They kept it light and made jokes where necessary, but withheld any criticism of Emily, Tristan, or Laurel.
“What's his story then?” Fred asked, and he meant Tristan. “A sullen gent if I ever knew one."
“I dunno, normal middle-class kid, I s’pose.” Isobel shrugged as she drained her pint. “Another round?” She pulled the cord to alert the bartender and heard the bells jingling in the pub below.
“A right enigma though,” George went on. “Muggle dad, muggle born mum, and a Slytherin to boot.”
“And you know, I love the old bugger,” added Fred. “And he’s no Slytherin to me, but he does, you know…”
“Act the part at times?” offered Isobel. “He can be a real twat.”
“Not so much act it,” said Fred. “He looks it.”
George nodded, before adding, “you know all them wankers in Slytherin are third cousins at least, and there’s a real family resemblance among the English ones.”
“We’d know,” agreed George. “Our family’s pureblood, you wouldn’t guess it, but we are. They’re our distant cousins as well.”
Isobel took a step back in her mind, into the half formed thoughts she’d had in the past. She shouldn’t say anything, it wasn’t her business, but she was drunk and she did: “My mum reckons that his dad isn’t his dad.”
Jaws dropped at the suggestion, and the twins were hungry for speculation.
“Yeah,” Isobel went on. “It all fits, right? His mum would have been, what, eighteen when he was born? But then she was at Hogwarts then, and wouldn’t have known his dad yet. And he’s really weird about his middle name, because probably, it’s his real dad’s name. And he doesn’t look a thing like Eddie; I’ve met him.”
“Do you think he knows?”
“I bet he does.”
“Does his dad?”
“He must, right?”
“I think Emily knows,” Isobel thought out loud.
Emily wasn’t sneaky. She seemed to know something about Tristan, and it showed. She behaved sometimes like the caretaker of a secret. Secrets were hard for her, so when she carried one, the stress of it tended to leak out in various, predictable ways.
Once the subject of Tristan’s parentage had been exhausted, and three fresh pints delivered, Isobel discovered a functioning radio on the mantle. She tapped it with her wand a few times until she found a pop station, and after cranking the volume, the Weird Sisters filled the room. Within a short time, Isobel and the twins had devised a brilliant drinking game for the station they were listening to: drink every time someone says ‘baby,’ drink anytime someone says ‘yeah,’ and chug every time a commercial for Gilderoy Lockhart’s new book (“Magical Me, six weeks atop The Prophet’s best seller list”) plays.
Their game was a roaring success, and within a few hours the ancient barkeeper burst into their parlor (where the three students were dancing on chairs) to kick them all out.
The three shivered giddily just outside the threshold to the pub, unable to contain themselves. Isobel had spent a small fortune on the night’s overpriced drinks and the cost of the parlor, but decided it had been worth it. The twins promised to compensate her with the money they raised working for Emily, but Isobel wasn’t bothered; she hadn’t had so much fun in a long time. She rolled a fag and lit it at the precise moment that George was sick on her shoes.
“Not again, little brother,” Fred groaned, as he pat his twin’s back.
“Are you the older twin then?” Isobel asked as she exhaled.
“Can’t you tell?”
“He’s exactly seven minutes more mature,” added George, before heaving again. Isobel ushered the twins up the alley, not wanting another shouting-at from the barkeeper, and helped Fred to settle George down onto a stoop. Isobel finished her fag and began rolling another, then expressed concern about George’s state.
“Oh I’ll be alright,” said George, his head between his knees. “Fred’ll lecture my ear off tomorrow though.”
“They laid him to rest with his hat inside out—hic!” the song rang out from some other drunken Hogs Head patron. “And his wand snapped in twoooo,” howled the voice. “Which was sad.”
Isobel leaned forward to peer down the alley and saw the hulking silhouette of the Hogwarts groundskeeper approaching their stoop. Isobel tried to remain perfectly still, but just as he passed their shadowy hiding place, George retched again. Hagrid took a double take, wavering slightly as he tried to focus his eyes.
“You’re students!” he roared, their uniforms betraying them. “What’re ya doin’ in the village at this hour?”
“Good question,” Fred said, leaping up. “You see our friend here had a bit of a problem, there’s a professor needing firing, and we needed to have something of a do, you see.”
“Weasleys,” Hagrid called, seeing Fred’s face in the light. “How’s your brother then?”
“Just stomach flu, been puking all week—”
“I mean’ Charlie,” Hagrid interrupted, swaying. “But tha’ one too, I s’pose.”
“Oh, he just needs some bread and water and to sleep it off,” Isobel assured.
“Teenage folk wisdom about drink. S’about as useful as a perforated couldron,” Hagrid straightened his posture. “I’ll be having to carry him back then.”
“Oh you don’t have to—” Fred began, but Hagrid brushed him off.
“You, girl, you’ll be carryin’ this,” Hagrid announced, gingerly handing Isobel a canvas bag.
“What is it?” she asked, opening it to look inside.
“Don’ look, and don’ ask questions,” Hagrid growled. “But be very, very careful with tha’.”
Isobel nodded, terrified of the massive man. Hagrid lifted George by his armpits, and slung the younger twin over his shoulder as if he weighed nothing.
“Right then, off we go,” Hagrid directed.
At his command, Fred and Isobel (treating the bag with the greatest caution) followed the mammoth groundskeeper back to the castle. They’d only just made it past Zonko’s when Fred stumbled, and began dry heaving as well. Hagrid sighed heavily, and clapped him on the back hard enough to wind him.
“You too then,” he called, scooping Fred up in his trash-bin sized hand. “Up you get.” With a Weasley on each shoulder, and a mysterious package (Isobel was beginning to suspect it was some kind of egg), Hagrid and the young Ravenclaw continued their journey out of Hogsmeade. The cold air was sobering to Isobel, and Hagrid (as if responding to some sense of duty) no longer appeared drunk.
“So why are you out of the castle?” he asked, as they lumbered down toward the shadowy fortress in the distance.
“I—” Isobel gulped. “I dunno if I sort of lead him on or something…” her voice was brittle and high.
“Did some bloke not like the word ‘no?’” Hagrid swung around to face Isobel, causing the Weasleys over his shoulders to groan.
“I don’t think he liked the words ‘you’re my professor,’” Isobel said, with a fleeting sense of strength.
“Wha’ professor? Wha’ professor’s done tha’?”
Isobel crumpled, again sickened and ashamed—hadn’t she sought him out in the first place? She hadn’t wanted that sort of attention, but she had been looking for some kind of attention... What did she think was going to happen?
“It’s no’ you’re fault,” the groundskeeper said, placing an assuring hand on Isobel’s shoulder and forcing her feet a few centimeters into the mud. “No teacher should go after a student, s’no right.”
Isobel wiped a stray tear.
“You won’t tell anyone, please, I just don’t think I can bear it,” she pleaded.
“You should tell someone,” said Hagrid seriously. “You don’ have to keep that ruddy secret for him. Dumbledore should know.”
“Yeah,” Isobel said weakly. “Yeah, I will, just not this moment.”
“Sleep off the drink, then go to Dumbledore straight away tomorrow,” Hagrid advised.
Hagrid looked at Isobel, and there was a remarkable gentleness to him. She wiped another escaped tear, and he turned, giving her some privacy. Isobel took a few steps, and Hagrid joined her.
“So what kind of egg is it?” Isobel asked, now sure of the bag’s contents.
“Dragon,” Hagrid replied, nonchalant. Isobel laughed, then stopped in her tracks, considering the massive parcel.
“‘Course ‘s not,” he laughed. “You think I’m mad?”
Hagrid helped Isobel as far as the Entrance Hall, and set the twins down. They were all right to walk once they had railings to grasp.
"Will you tell?" Isobel asked, guiltily. "About our sneaking out?"
Hagrid seemed to consider for a moment, and eyed Isobel sympathetically. "Nah, no' this time. But don' let me catch you again. Tah now," Hagrid said, patting Isobel on the head, before turning back toward the grounds.
Isobel made it up to Ravenclaw tower after escaping a near miss with Peeves. After getting caught in the village after hours, she wasn't particularly bothered getting caught out of bed in the castle. She almost wished that Filch might discover her, and bring her to Dumbledore at once. She was certain that, come tomorrow, she still wouldn't yet have the resolve to speak out against the Defense professor.
But Isobel made it back without incident, and knocked the bronze knocker once.
“What distinguishes good from evil?” the metal eagle asked.
“Not being an arsehole,” Isobel huffed.
“Define your terms,” pressed the eagle, as Isobel had expected.
“The difference between good and evil is, I guess…” Isobel rephrased. She found it easy to define evil in her current state of mind, and surely she could rattle off a list of what good wasn’t. But what distinguishes good? ‘Doing good things’ didn’t seem sufficient. Surely intentions matter. You could do things that ended up hurting people by accident, and still not be evil. Isobel sunk deeper into her thoughts, before an answer emerged. If evil intentions are borne from hate, she thought, then…
“Good is distinguished by the presence of love.”
“Succinct,” the eagle agreed, and the heavy door swung open. Isobel ascended the stairs to her dormitory, swung through the doors, and climbed, fully dressed, into Laurel’s bed.
End Note: The lyrics to "Odo the Hero" were written by JK Rowling, and first listed in Chapter 22, "After the Burial," on HBP (not sure of the page number because I used the HP wiki for reference). The song was likely a reference to a character in Beowulf.
A/N: "ear off"--too soon?
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