Chapter 3 : Bad moon rising
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Maya removed the paper and took out her coin bag to pay the bird.
"Do you want a little sausage?”
She hooted at her and took off. Maya opened the paper and carefully scanned each page. There was plenty of news of people going missing including a few muggles. She sighed and closed the paper. Adrian asked to see it.
"This always makes me nervous." he said looking through it "I hope no one we know gets hurt."
"Yeah." said Maya privately thinking about her dad and house-elf at home by themselves. She could trust Gili to keep her dad out of trouble but she'd be no match for a dark wizard. She wrote to the little fellow every other day, so she could stay on top of it. Or feel like she was. Half of her was feeling guilty for leaving her father behind in a helpless state and half of her wished her father would want to hear news about her life.
“Let’s go to class, Addy. I want to talk to Professor McGonagall before class starts.”
“Of course you do.” sighed Adrian “Let her have breakfast, for goodness sake.”
She waited patiently till 8.30 and left for class.
“Professor?” She said poking her head into class.
“Come in, Sayre. You’re really early.”
“Yes, professor. I wanted to talk to you about a doubt.”
“Go ahead.” She said smiling slightly.
Maya frequently ambushed teachers after or before class.
“I was reading about Conjuring spells yesterday and I read about how animals may or may not be turned into humans. What does that mean?”
“It means it’s extremely difficult magic - unknown territory, you might say - and the author considers it as a possibility. I’m not going into the moral ramifications, of course, because that’s too vast a topic. However, only an extraordinarily gifted wizard could even attempt it.”
“Has professor Dumbledore tried it? He is unquestionably gifted, right?”
“Not that he has mentioned to me. But my dear child, why would you even want to?”
“What do you mean, Professor? Hasn’t anyone gotten that curious?”
Professor McGonagall frowned at her.
“Even for a gifted which, there is no guarantee of the transfigured being’s mental capacity. There’s just no telling what might happen.”
“But nothing! It’s extremely irresponsible and dangerous to try it! Haven’t you thought about the fate of the human you might create?”
She rose from her chair.
“That’s enough.” She said when she opened her mouth again “Take your seat and I will bring you your dog.”
“Dog?" Maya said distracted “I thought I was vanishing cats?”
“You successfully vanished one last class. You might as well attempt a level higher.”
The rest of the class had arrived now and Maya walked glumly back to her seat.
“You had more trouble than I thought you would, considering how well you did in the last classes.” Adrian said suspiciously as we walked to Potions.
“That was such a cute dog!”
“Urgh. Is that what was going through your head? You looked like she told you to eat it.”
“You trying vanishing a dog when it’s wagging it’s tail at you and trying to lick your face.” Maya sniffed. “Poor doggy.”
“You can’t afford to be that gentle in today’s world. You did what you had to do.” He said sounding amused at having to comfort her like she had done something horrible.
“My dear children, what happened?” Professor Slughorn said appearing right behind them and making them jump.
“Maya had to vanish a dog in Transfiguration, sir.” Adrian said trying not to roll his eyes.
“Aren’t you a gentle soul.” Slughorn chuckled. “Well, settle down, settle down he said as they clattered around, pulling books and quills out.
“Do you all have your essay on the most dangerous potions?”
“About that, sir, we had to write about what we though were most dangerous, right?”
“Yes, that’s right. So the only thing you’ll be assessed on is how well you researched the potion.”
Everyone in the class looked happier as he went around collecting essays.
“Let’s get started on an easy potion. Today, we will be mixing an Invigoration Draught..”
After potions, they had double Herbology. Professor Sprout was in a cheerful mood and Slytherin was awarded nearly 30 points in total making the Gryffindors give the smirking Slytherins looks of varying degrees of ugliness.
“What are they upset about? They won points too.” Maya asked Addy who shrugged and kept smirking.
After dinner, Maya curled up in the common room to read her books.
“Great fort.” said someone peering over the stacks of books.
“Regulus?” She said sitting up.
“Yup.” He said he said carefully stepping over the books and sitting next to the cushion next to me.
“Why aren’t you over there, at the Dark Lord’s Black Court?” Maya said jerking her head over to where Bellatrix was talking animatedly to the people sitting around her.
“Bellatrix has a flair for drama” Regulus said smiling in her direction, annoying Maya no end.
“If you’re selling the same bilge, I ain’t buying.”
“Don’t be so snappy.” Said Regulus “Where’s Brewster?”
“Addy’s gone to bed.”
Regulus, despite his inclinations, was the better ones of the ‘Dark Lord Worshippers’ although the two of them often had heated arguments about the fate of muggle-borns and muggles. He has apparently never mentioned her views to the more aggressive baby death eaters. Else, Maya would definitely know. She hated the part of herself that didn’t argue more loudly against people like them.
“Then, you don’t mind me sitting here?”
“Knock yourself out. How are classes?”
“You tell me. It’s O.W.L year for you, isn’t it?”
“It’s busy. but I’m alright.”
“Clearly. What are you writing?”
“I’m writing home.”
“Want to borrow my owl?”
“No, thank you. I’ll go use a school owl tomorrow.”
Regulus frowned at me.
“Why do you keep pushing people away like that? I know you like being independent, but accept help once in a while. You can make friends that way.”
“I don’t wanna make friends who would support Voldemort.”
“Say You-Know-Who” he hissed, wincing when she mention his name.
“I refuse to sound like a bad knock-knock joke. What are you afraid of? You’ve never met him.”
Regulus looked angrily at her for a moment then gave a huge long sigh like he was trying to breathe the anger out.
“Look, I’d like to be friends so can we not discuss this?”
“How can we be friends when we will be enemies in the future?”
“Will we be?”, he asked quietly.
“Will we?”, she retorted.
Then many people started to leave for bed. Bellatrix had apparently dismissed them.
“If you are always argumentative and grouchy like this, you’ll lose the friends you have.” he said getting up.
He looked at Maya for a moment, then turned around and went to bed.
In an hour or so,the entire common room had emptied and Maya snuck out of the common room. She knew a place in the forest where Dittany grew and she wanted to get it. She could just order it from a good potions shop but she wanted to learn how to brew it and she didn’t want to miss a chance to see the creatures.
Magorian and the other centaurs will get annoyed at her again if they found her but she missed the forest. Maya carefully placed a Disillusionment charm on herself and crept up towards the Entrance Hall. She felt inexplicably better when she reached the hall but kept out a vary eye out for unsavory characters. She paused next to a cabinet and was about to step out towards when she heard quiet footsteps approach from the other end of the hall.
Alarmed, she climbed into the cupboard and quietly shut it. The footsteps grew closer.
“Ouch! Peter, you stepped on my foot.” whispered someone “Just change already.”
Peter? The kid from Hogwarts Express? Was that Black or the others there too just then?
They moved quickly after that.
After she felt sure they had left, she left too. She sprinted towards the Greenhouses and around them, gave Hagrid’s House a wide berth to keep out of earshot of Fang and reached the edge of the forest.
“Easy Peasy. “, she said after checking again for prying eyes.
With that, she walked into the forest.
Maybe I should tell Addy about this, she thought feeling guilty.
Nah, he’ll try to talk me out of it. He would break the rules for a good reason but consistently risking his life to see animals is not his thing. Besides she didn’t want to get him in trouble if they got caught.
She looked up through the trees and smiled. Little beams of moonlight were still beaming through the trees. On a full moon day like today, the Hogwarts grounds was not dark. But tonight, without a single cloud for it to hide behind, it was lit up almost like day.
“Oh yes. It’s a Harvest Moon.” Maya said excitedly. She’d never been in here on a harvest moon. She adjusted her bag determined to see what effects it had on magical plants and to bring as much back as possible.
The path was small and it got steadily darker after that and she had to proceed by wand light. After a while, she heard hissing and in contrast to most people’s reactions, she turned to see snakes crawling after her with a smile.
“Great.”, she said happily “Let’s get to a clearing and we can talk.”
“Yessss.”, said an adder as it glided along the leaves.
She kept the fact that she was a Parselmouth strictly to herself after Gili, her house-elf said they were considered to be the mark of Dark Wizards. But it had only ever helped her. The animals were all helpful to be honest. She was the most informed person when it came to what happened in the forest thanks to that.
The forest opened into a small clearing after that. Maya felt like she was in a spotlight and crouched down to talk to the snakes that were arriving.
“Come on out, you all. It’s me.” Maya said hissing and spitting in parseltongue.
Then she crouched down and talked to the adder first.
“So anything new happen here while I was gone?” she asked.
“A unicorn will give birth in the coming month.”
“Oooh. I wanna see the baby."
Apparently, the birth was going to be deep in the forest near the time of the next full moon. The centaurs were being more careful than last year and have become more reserved. One of Hagrid’s Thestrals was sick and he has been visiting frequently. The Acromantula colony is as unwelcoming as ever. (Well, yeah. They’re not fond of snakes.)
“Alright, I came here to collect a few magical herbs. I have a list and pictures here if you need ‘em. But first, let’s go get the dittany and keep an eye out for Hagrid. He’s not going to be happy if he saw.”
He should be sleeping, but no harm in being careful, she thought climbing over a huge tree root that stood a few feet over the ground while the snakes crawled under it easily.
She wished she could help the Thestral but she couldn’t even see the symptoms or even the Thestral in question. No point in stumbling around when Hagrid can take care of it.
She collected as many as she could in an hour and celebrated her stash. She even found a Bowtruckle in a willow tree.
“Hey, bud. Can you come with me?” she asked. She had Care of Magical creatures tomorrow and this would be a great find. “I’ll bring you back tomorrow.”
The Bowtruckle climbed off the branch and onto my shoulder. Such a friendly little guy.
She conjured a bottle for his woodlice supplies and decided to call it a day.
She caught a bunch of frogs for the adders and said “I’ll leave them here but please don’t eat them in front of me.”
Then she turned to the adder.
"This is pretty deep in. Can you show us a path out?”
“It’ssss not that deep. We’ve just strayed farrr.”
He lead the way towards a path and disappeared into the underbrush.
"I'm sssurprised you came on a full moon. It isss more dangerouss for humanssss."
"Why?" She asked
"I hope you won't ssseeee.."
He was right. They reached the edge of the forest in fifteen minutes.
She started to cross the grounds as carefully as she could. There was just no cover there between her and the castle.
Suddenly, she felt the hairs on her neck rise and turned around to the strangest sight she had seen in her life.
About fifty feet from her, a wolf, a stag and gigantic, shaggy black dog was heading towards the castle too.
Then the wolf turned and looked at her.
Then it hit her. That’s no wolf, that’s a werewolf.
She gasped audibly. As if he was waiting for this cue, it snarled and started to bounded straight for her.
She felt strangely clear headed. She sent a stunning spell straight at it. It missed its shoulder and it kept coming.
“IMPEDIMENTA” She screamed.
It froze in place.
It was only a matter of time before the jinx wore off. But Maya couldn’t move. She could feel her her heart beating and she was afraid her legs would give if she did.
I can’t outrun a werewolf! she thought desperately. If I tried I’ll have my back towards it and be hunted down. Better to be wand-ready. That’s my only shot.
But then the stag and the dog came running around it and turned to face the werewolf, standing between her and it. Then the stag charged forward antler’s down and lifted the werewolf into the air. It hit the ground painfully and it struggled to stand up. The jinx was wearing off just as the dog reached it. It grabbed the wolf by the foreleg and started dragging it away. The werewolf howled in pain and twisted in it’s jaws to try and reached for the dog. The stag hooked his torso in his antlers and kept pushing it away. For the first time, Maya saw a mouse running around the scene. Soon, the bizarre group had dragged it over the hill and went out of sight.
I have to run. They might come back.
But she couldn’t move. After a few seconds she tried to walk and her legs felt like jelly. She ran towards the castle tripping and falling.
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