Harry was just helping himself to a baked potato when Professor Quirrell came sprinting into the hall, his turban askew and terror in his face. Everyone stared as he reached Professor Dumbledore's chair, slumped against the table, and gasped, "Troll- in the dungeons- thought you ought to know."
He then sank to the floor in a dead faint.
There was an uproar. It took several purple firecrackers exploding from the end of Professor Dumbledore's wand to bring silence.
"Prefects," he rumbled, "lead your Houses back to the dormitories immediately!"
Percy was in his element amidst the resulting confusion.
"Follow me! Stick together, first years! No need to fear the troll if you follow my orders! Stay close behind me, now. Make way, first years coming through. Excuse me, I'm a prefect!"
Up at the teachers' table, Snape ignored the noise and confusion as he leaned across the table towards Dumbledore.
"Albus," he hissed. "What are you doing, sending my students to their dormitories? They're in the dungeons, where the troll is!"
"Nonsense!" Dumbledore beamed. "You're assuming that Quirrell is even telling the truth! And even if he is, the troll is likely to be in a completely different part of the dungeons altogether. Your Slytherins will be completely safe."
"All the same," Snape said, standing and pushing his chair back. "I'd feel better if I escorted them myself."
"But Severus, we will need all the teachers together to deal with the troll. It is imperative that you stay here. I really must insist."
Next to him, McGonagall stood suddenly. "Severus is right. Right now, our priority is the students. My Gryffindors will be fine in their tower." She turned to Snape. "I'll go with you." They hurried out of the great hall, hurrying to catch up to the Slytherin students.
"But. . ." Dumbledore said weakly behind them. "My plan. . . What about my plan?"
Still in the great hall, among the other Gryffindors, Harry and Ron passed different groups of people hurrying in different directions. As they jostled their way through a crowd of confused Hufflepuffs, Harry suddenly grabbed Ron's arm.
"I've just thought- Hermione."
"What about her?"
"She doesn't know about the troll."
Ron bit his lip. "Oh, all right," he snapped. "But Percy had better not see us."
Ducking down, they joined the Hufflepuffs going the other way, slipped down a deserted side corridor, and hurried off towards the girls' bathroom. Harry tapped on the door. "Hermione? Are you in there?"
There was a muffled cry from inside. "Go away!"
Harry opened the door carefully, peering inside. "Hermione, you've got to come with us, there's a troll loose in the school. We're supposed to go back to our dormitories while the teachers take care of it."
Hermione gave a watery snort. "Don't be ridiculous. As if I'd fall for something like that. There's no way for a troll to get inside the castle grounds unless someone let it in. There are wards around the school that prevent dangerous magical creatures from entering. It's in Hogwarts a History.
"Really?" Harry blinked, looking over at Ron, who shrugged. "Then someone must have let it in, because Quirrell ran into the great hall and said that there's a troll in the dungeons. And then Dumbledore told everyone to go back to their dormitories. And then we remembered that you were. . . were not there, so. . .so we went to go find you."
Hermione looked at him tearfully. "You- you came back for me? You were worried about me?"
Harry looked down at the floor awkwardly. "Well, yeah. I'm mean, we couldn't just leave you alone with a troll on the loose."
She burst into tears again and threw herself into his arms. Harry patted her back hesitantly, looking over at Ron again for help. He didn't look like he knew what to do either. He just looked awkwardly at Harry, turned, and left.
A few floors below, the Slytherin students were continuing on their way to the dungeons.
"See, this is proof that Dumbledore is beyond his prime and should step down. Imagine, a troll getting into the castle! I would hate to be in his shoes when my father hears about this," Malfoy said pompously.
Behind him, Daphne Greengrass snorted. "Grow up, Malfoy."
He turned to glare at her. "Did I ask for your opinion, Greengrass?"
She rolled her eyes. "I don't care what-" she broke off. "Did you hear that?"
Malfoy sneered. "If you're trying to scare us, Greengrass, you'll have to try harder than that. There's nothing there."
"No," she frowned. "I definitely heard something. And Quirrell said that the troll was in the dungeons. We're almost to the dungeons." She sniffed. "What's that smell?"
"Stinks," Crabbe grunted.
Malfoy sniffed, wrinkling up his nose. "Ugh, Goyle, can't you save that for when you're alone?" He turned the corner, still leading the other Slytherins, and screamed. The other Slytherins had a rare Gryffindor moment and rushed forward to see what it was. It was a horrible sight. Twelve feet tall, the troll's skin was a dull, granite gray, its great lumpy body like a boulder with its small bald head perched on top. It had short legs thick as tree trunks with flat, horny feet. The smell coming from it was incredible. It was holding a huge wooden club, which dragged along the floor behind it.
Malfoy stared up at it in shock, the other Slytherins crowded up behind him so he couldn't run. He was taking a deep breath to scream again when the troll swung its club. His scream was cut off abruptly as the club hit him with a dull, hollow sound, sending him into the wall with a painful crunch. He collapsed onto his side, breathing raspily through the pain of his cracked ribs, a trickle of blood running from his mouth. The rest of the snakes scattered, the majority of them trying to run back the way they had come, the slower ones trampled underfoot.
A prefect brandished his wand at the troll, screaming out a stupefy. The spell hit the troll and dissipated into its hide. As the prefect tightened his grip on his wand and turned to run, the troll reached out and bashed his head in. As the prefect's body crumpled lifeless to the ground, Daphne edged over to where Malfoy lay. "Wingardium leviosa," she muttered under her breath as she waved her wand over him. His body lifted up in the air and she turned around to face where the troll was, moving carefully around it, trying not to let it see her. The troll didn't seem to notice her, focusing his attention on the slower moving Slytherins instead. Daphne rounded the corner behind the troll, taking a few hesitant steps down the corridor before taking off at a run, Malfoy's body floating in the air behind her.
On their way to catch up to the Slytherins, Snape and McGonagall came upon the fleeing students. Snape grabbed one as he ran past, his thin fingers biting into his shoulder. "What happened?" The boy took a gasping breath as he tried to speak. "Answer me!" Snape shook him. "Why are you running? What are you running from? Is it the troll?"
McGonagall put a hand on his shoulder. "Severus, calm down. Give him time to catch his breath."
"The- the troll- it attacked us. Got Malfoy, and Pucey. I think they're dead." Snape's face whitened. "Where's the troll now?"
The boy pointed back down the corridor that he had run from. Snape released him and started running down the corridor, pushing students aside as he did. Behind him, McGonagall pulled out her wand and sent a patronus out before following him at a run.
Snape cleared the corner and stopped short at the sight of the troll about to hit a second year girl. "Protego!" he cried. A silvery shield appeared in front of the girl as the troll's club glanced of it. It roared in anger, looking around for the source. Snape ran over and pulled the girl up, pushing her out of the way. "Go! Get out of here!" She turned and fled.
McGonagall arrived a few moments after the girl had left, looking around the hall in despair. There were dents in the walls from the troll's club. A few paintings had been knocked off the walls, the inhabitants long gone. Behind the troll, a few bodies could be seen, either the troll's victims or those who had been trampled by the mob. A smear of blood could be seen further on where, unbeknownst to them, Draco Malfoy's body had lain.
"A completely different part of the dungeons?" She muttered. "I'm going to kill Albus."
Snape snorted. "You'll have to get in line. How did the troll even get inside the castle? Albus' wards should have stopped it."
McGonagall's lips narrowed. "I think that it's suspicious that Quirrell was the only teacher not at the feast and was also the one to find the troll."
Snape tightened his grip on his wand. "Do you know where everyone else is?"
She shrugged. "I sent a patronus to Albus. I think he was planning on gathering all the staff together before searching the castle."
"Maybe you should try sending a patronus to someone else. Filius, perhaps. I wouldn't put it past our esteemed headmaster to be too sure that he is right to come to our aid," Snape said dryly.
McGonagall winced at his description, but nodded, and soon they were watching her patronus scamper down the hall.
The troll finally realized that there was something blocking its way and brandished his club over its head, hitting Snape's shield. Snape flinched and tightened his grip on his wand, focusing on his shield. McGonagall added her own shield charm to his.
"So, what now?" Snape asked. "Should we just hold it here as long as we can until help arrives?"
McGonagall nodded. "That would be the best solution. It's too dangerous to try and fight it with just the two of us. As long as we maintain our shield and keep a good distance, we'll be fine." The troll hit the shield again, grunting when nothing happened. It began to walk the length of the shield, hitting it every now and then. As it did so, its foot brushed up against one of the wounded students lying sprawled on the ground. The student groaned, stirring slightly. The troll paused its movement.
Snape watched with bated breath. "Do you think it heard that?"
The troll turned, looking around. McGonagall bit her lip. "I think it did. If I distract the troll, do you think you could get the student out of here?"
Snape snorted. "Don't be such a Gryffindor. I'll distract it. You get Miss Farley."
McGonagall hesitated, then nodded. "Very well. But be careful, Severus. You know how resistant trolls are to spells," she cautioned. "Ready?"
They lowered their wands together, dropping the shield. Snape dashed off to one side, yelling at the troll. He sent a spell at it, opening up bloody cuts all over its body. The troll roared in pain and stumbled to the side. McGonagall took the opportunity and ran forward, crouching over the girl. She cast a few healing spells to stabilize her condition before levitating her and moving back.
"I've got her!" She yelled at Snape. "I'll be fine! Go get the other students!" he yelled back.
She nodded and set the girl gently on the floor, casting a simple protection charm over her before running back. The troll saw her moving out of the corner of his eye and started moving towards her. She dodged its grasp, flicking a quick spell at it. Snape sent an incarcerous at it, wrapping its upper body in ropes. The troll roared, struggling to break free of the ropes. While it was restrained, Snape sent a sickly looking green spell at it. It hit the troll's knee, shattering it and sending a splatter of blood, flesh, and shattered bone everywhere. The troll screamed in pain and collapsed onto its side.
Snape wiped his face with the sleeve of his robe, trying to get the troll's blood off so he could see. While his vision was blocked, the troll caught sight of him. It reached over to him from where it lay the ground, the club still in its grasp.
McGonagall, helping a student to rise, gasped, "No!"
Snape looked up in time to see the troll's club coming straight at him. He managed to dodge to the side, but the club hit him with a glancing blow in the middle of his back. There was a loud crack. Snape collapsed to the floor, his face grimacing in pain. McGonagall reacted quickly, pointing her wand at the troll. "Avada kedavra," she said grimly. The green bolt hit the troll directly in the chest. It died before it had a chance to make another sound, its head thudding onto the ground.
Lying unmoving on the floor, Snape smirked slightly. "Playing with unforgivables now, Minerva?" he gasped.
"Shut up," she snapped at him. She set the student she had been helping on the ground and hurried over to him.
"No!" he gasped. "The other students! Help the other students first."
McGonagall shook her head solemnly. "No need. Mr. Jones is not in imminent danger, and the other two are already gone."
She bent over him, waving her wand in a diagnosis spell. Her face whitened.
"It's bad, isn't it," he rasped.
"What makes you say that?"
He snorted. "You would have made a terrible Slytherin. It's written all over your face. And there's also the fact that I can't feel my legs."
They heard the sound of running footsteps coming down the hall. Snape moved his hand desperately around on the floor, searching for the wand he had dropped, while Minerva stepped protectively in front of him. They collectively sighed in relief as Flitwick came into sight.
He skidded to a stop next to the pile of unconscious or wounded students and gaped at them. Snape lay on the floor, groaning in pain while Minerva kneeled next to him. His robes were splattered with blood, both his own and that of the troll's. The back of his robes were positively drenched in his blood. The troll carcass lay next to him, its left leg completely destroyed. A few students were still scattered around the scene, most of them not moving.
"What?" he gasped. "What happened?"
"Is anyone else coming?" Minerva asked.
"No," Flitwick shook his head. "Dumbledore has everyone else searching elsewhere in the castle. He's convinced that Quirrell lied about the troll."
"As you can see," Minerva said dryly, "he didn't. Go fetch Pomona and Poppy, then floo for St. Mungo's and the aurors."
"And Dumbledore? Should I get him as well?"
She almost growled. "No. If he gets near me, then I won't be responsible for anything I may say or do to him."
He stepped closer. "Is Severus all right?"
"He's stabilized for now, but he desperately needs medical attention, as do numerous other students. So get moving!" She yelled the last bit.
Flitwick squeaked in surprise and turned to scurry away. McGonagall sighed, leaning forward to rest her head in her hands.
Portions of this chapter were taken and adapted from The Philosopher's / Sorcerer's Stone.