I stepped hastily backwards, and quicky exited after Hagrid, not really wanting to find other animals or unpleasantly large beasts that could talk. He was rumbling ahead of me, whistling in what he assumed was a quiet sound, but to the rest of us would perhaps be able to shatter glass.

Although I am more often than not annoyed and greatly aggrieved by Hagrid, I could never deny him credit for his infinite capacity and willingness to help others. I couldn't imagine another man (or giant, as are the whispers) that would allow himself to be jerked, rather rudely, from his rocky slumber and dragged about one of the most dangerous forests in England.

But, here he was, swinging his bow in an abominably cheerful manner, cracking his gargantuan knuckles and singing songs too lewd to be put into print.

Alright there, Professor? Don' want yeh to go tumblin' down some ruddy hole and gettin' eaten by some o' them spiders, he said casually. I could clearly tell he was joking, but I still took care to glance down at my feet before taking any further steps.

Tell me, Hagrid, does Sprout know you're cultivating these things?, I asked his giant fur clad back. He turned around, eyebrows knit with worry.

No she don't, and you don't go tellin' her, either, he said warningly.

Hagrid, you underestimate me, I chided, not sincerely annoyed or even offended.

Well....I know that! I was jus' makin' sure, thas all!, he blustered. If the moon was out that night, I'm sure Hagrid's blush would have been in full crimson glory.

Besides trying to avoid these teeth, is there anything else I should know about before we reach the point of no return?, I asked.

Well, the faeries can be somewhat nasty to deal with, but they know me, so thas all good (I hope). Erm....yep....thas all, he said in a nervous and shrill voice. Hagrid is a man whose emotions are kept on an extremely fragile leash, and one tug can send the whole bloody thing on the loose.

Hagrid, I've been teaching for far too many years now. I'm not easily lied to. You might as well get it out before I discover it and before this whole thing turns into a grevious mess, I said petulantly.

He stopped, so swiftly, that it sent me hurtling into his back. For a man of his stature, my impact might have been that of a fly's. He gave an impatient, but nervous sigh, and I knew that a rather huge part of the picture had not yet been unveiled for me.

Professor, you understand these flowers are really valuable, right?, he asked me, another tug of his eyebrows. I nodded, ushering him to continue. Well, them faeries aren't stupid. They have somethin' guardin' them. I haven't been down there in a coupla months, so I haven't seen the new thing they've got, he finished. I was not sated.

This....well, this faceless being...this would not be something along the lines of that vile dog with three heads?, I asked, a bite in my voice. Fluffy, as Hagrid had mistakenly named it, proved to be a painfully watchful guard.

What was wrong with Fluffy?, asked Hagrid indignantly. Obviously his stature had caused his outlook on monstrosities of nature to be somewhat different.

Besides the fact it was hideous enough to behold with one head, having three just made it pitiable, I said dourly. The dog had given me quite a scar on my leg, and I was even more annoyed that Hagrid was trying to justify it.

It were nice as a puppy, Fluffy was, he said firmly. Hagrid was impossible to argue with when it concerned his menagerie of freaks.

So, Professor. About Hermione. How've you and her been gettin' along?, he asked cleverly.

I have no clue, Hagrid, it being that I haven't spoken to her for a dreadful two days, I snapped. I actually did feel guilty for avoiding her in the halls and ducking out of her way as if she were some fearsome bully. But, when I remembered her laughing jovially with Remus Lupin, and linking arms with him when she was sure I was watching, I felt victorious as I glanced at the wounded look in her eyes when I shoved her out of my way at dinner and was able to humble her more abrasively self smug comments.

Oh. Well, no shame in tryin', is there?, he said, embarrassed by this lack of knowledge. Hermione's a good girl, she is. Always carin' for other people and whatnot, though I've noticed she don't tell me about her personal life no more. Why, when she went to that ruddy ball with Viktor Krum, his name came up near every five minutes, it did!.

Ah yes. Our hero, Viktor Krum. I do so hope that she's outgrown the nefarious habit of falling for people whose brains have been addled into bludger pulp, I said viciously, kicking what appeared to be a stone, but upon closer inspection as it scampered away, shrieking indignantly, was actually a stone with legs and one giant eye that blinked woefully at me.

Hagrid snorted, though he refrained from clapping me on the back. I agree, Professor. I told Hermione that Krum weren't no good for her. But, first love I s'pose, and she didn't listen. Learned the hard way, she did.

It suddenly grew chilly in the forest, the sense of damp fog and biting winds were sinking through my robes. I hastily drew mine closer, and wished for nothing more than a thermos of hot tea.

Well, jus' a few more miles to go, said Hagrid thoughtfully, peering over the tops of the small hills over which we stumbled.

A few miles, Hagrid? Dear gods, we're not going to make it until tomorrow, I blanched. My legs were sore from the combined weight of the crossbow and the awkward and crude path which was carved out in front of us.

Oh, Professor, it's just a few miles! Six, at most. Anyways, you're having a good time, right?, his question actually held a tone of genuine concern, and I felt the compulsion to pacify him.

Yes, Hagrid, a splendid time, I replied sullenly. I shifted the bow over, the strings harping me on my back, and probably tearing through my robes.

There was an odd sound, a muffled rushing of what sounded like hooves. We both stopped simultaneously, and I gripped the crossbow with silly tenacity. Hagrid eased his own off his back, and lifted the lantren over his head. It sent out a beam of scattered light, illuminating thing I would have rather not seen.

And pray tell me what that was, Hagrid, I asked sarcastically.

I duno, honestly. Maybe it was Rex and his minions. Oh well, we'll have off , then, Hagrid shrugged, and brought the lantren back down. I, however, was not so reassured.

Are there Centuars in this part of the forest?, I asked. I had never taken a liking to the creatures, finding the silly and avoidant stargazers would rather have their legs broken off then give a straightforward answer.

Nah, too much darkness. They don't like travellin' this deep, he said in a low voice.

And the spiders?, I was determined to mine out what exactly Hagrid was planning on delving into.

They're burrowed away. Generally, Aragog and them don't like harmin' or eatin' no one, unless they're stupid enough to go into the hollow. Other'n that, I duno what's makin' that noise, he mused.

There was a sudden and wild thrashing ahead of us, and out of the bushes and clearing, jumped the most ridiculously clad thing I'd ever seen. It stood, most likely not three feet in height, its brillaint blue eyes glaring in glassy annoyance. It had stubby legs that were clothed in finely tailoured boots, with a silver buckle. Its hair was an almost sickening shade of magenta that seemed to illuminate things without the aid of Hagrid's lantren. It had a top hat on, as well as a matching coat with tails.

Ay, you there, both of you stop this instant!, the voice was shockingly deep for something that most likely did not reach my knee. Hagrid stopped obediently, but I was not put off by the ugly little house elf.

Aren't all house elves supposed to work up at the main castle?, I
asked dryly. The thing gave a shriek of offense.

Why, how dare you! A house elf, I never. Well, if I am required to tell you what sort of creature I am (fine wizard you are, not even knowing what other magical things besides humans exist). I, good sirs, am a Nor'eastern Leprechaun, the thing was obviously proud of its heritage, for it drew itself up in full height.

Hagrid chose this moment to go into a sputter of coughs and sneezes, though I knew he was poorly disguising his laughter. I let out an amused snort. Its face went purple with fury.

Are both of ye good sirs laughing at my pedigree?, it shrieked. I noticed that anger and provocation caused its voice to become a high pitched squeak.

Well....honestly, we din't know there were more than one type o' leprechaun, Hagrid said haltingly, biting back more laughter. I sniggered into my robes, not wishing this thing further degredation.

Perhaps I can show you where our differences lie. I shall challenge on of you to a duel!, it said, gallantly bringing out a tiny wand, perhaps the size of my index finger. I stared at it, not knowing whether to take it in seriousness.

A duel? With a quill tip?, I asked, gesticulating towards the thing it grasped in its hand.

Absolutely. I am the finest dueler of my family. Three time champion. I know any curse, counter curse and hex, it strutted.

I glanced at Hagrid, who was regarding me with amused eyes. I knew that he would most likely proffer me as its dueling partner. I shook my head violently.

Well, this one here can. He's a right fine dueler too, Hagrid said, shoving me forward.

Hagrid, considering your fondness and considerable kindness towards all the thing that roam this land, I insist you do it. I may actually do harm, I was feigning concern now, and he saw through it.

That wouldn't be fair, Professor. I don't have no wand, remember?, he tapped his head. The bandy legged thing hopped up and down in glee, but then regained the somber composure that is assumed by all those who duel with wizardry.

Fine. I'll do it. Be forewarned that I am not very merciful, I snapped, stepping into the clearing.

We strode up to each other, and concluded the custom and general mannerisms that accompany a proper duel. I could not believe that I was wasting my talents on a nicely dressed house elf.

As I raised my wand, preparing to utter expelliarmus in my most indifferent voice, the thing raised its wand and uttered another incantation, which, before I was able to even blink, sent me hurtling off into a tree, and hence, into blackness.

A/N: ahaha...silly diversion tactic....anyways, good for a chuckle. Not particularly deep.