A/N - Hello everyone. Here's the next chapter. It didn't turn out quite as well as I hoped it would but I hope you enjoy it anyway.
I don't own either Harry Potter or Dungeons and Dragons. They belong to their respective creators. The only things that are mine are the story itself and any original characters I might come up with. Please read and review; I always appreciate feedback. Constructive criticism is welcome, however no flames please.
"Parseltongue / Dragon speech"
19) AUNT T AND THE TOAD
That afternoon while Umbridge was preparing to come to Hogwarts Harry was sitting on the lawn with Neville and Hermione. Raja was basking in the sun nearby while Voldemort the cat was curled up in Neville's lap purring in a contented manner. None of them were saying all that much but were instead happy just to hang out in a comfortable silence – at least until Hermione noticed a new arrival walking up from the Hogwarts gates.
"I wonder who that is?" she said to the two boys who both looked over to see a woman walking in their general direction. She was an absolute-head turning stunner of woman with a sexiness and voluptuousness that some might call evil. Harry recognized her at once.
"Oh my goodness" said Harry as he stood, "I wonder what she's doing here?"
"Who is that?" asked Hermione.
"It's Aunt T" said Harry as he began walking toward the woman ahead of his friends. Hermione made to follow him but Neville held her back. When she turned to ask why she saw that he had gone pale.
"Neville?" asked Hermione, "are you okay?"
"Yes" said Neville sounding a bit nervous, "I just didn't expect Harry's Aunt T to be here any time soon."
"Hermione" said Neville in a low voice, "Aunt T really is Harry's aunt. She's a dragon and her real name is Tiamat."
Hermione gasped. Ever since she'd heard the stories about Harry and his parents she'd done as much research on the dragon pantheon as she could. She knew who Tiamat was and she admitted to some nervousness and even fear of her own over possibly meeting her, even in a human guise.
"Do you know her?" Hermione asked Neville who shook his head.
"I've heard about her" said Neville, "but I've never met her before."
By now Harry had reached his aunt and after they exchanged greetings and hugs Harry noticed that Hermione and Neville were not right behind him. He turned around and gestured for them to come join him. They did, albeit somewhat slowly, but they did. They both figured that if Harry was around Tiamat wouldn't do anything hostile. Voldemort the cat was displeased at first to have to vacate Neville's lap when the boy stood up but was appeased when Neville put him up on his shoulder where he sat up and surveyed things like a king on a throne. Raja followed along behind them.
"Aunt T" said Harry, "these are Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger two of my friends and fellow Ravenclaws."
"How do you do?" said Aunt T, "Mr. Longbottom, Harry has told me about you although this is our first meeting. I don't believe I know you though Ms. Granger."
"I only met her on the train to Hogwarts a short time ago" said Harry.
"I hope you're treating my nephew well" said Aunt T.
"Isn't that question usually the other way around?" asked Harry.
"Usually" said Aunt T but didn't elaborate. Somehow Hermione got the point anyway because she gulped a bit. Aunt saw this and laughed.
"Relax child" she said, "I'm not here to hurt you. If that were my intention you would have known it immediately."
"So what brings you here today Aunt T?" asked Harry, "something tells me this isn't just a social call or you would have told me in advance that you were coming."
"That's true" said Aunt T, "call it a hunch if you like but I have a very strong feeling that I need to be here today – for your sake."
"Mine?" asked Harry, "is something about to happen?"
"We shall see" was the reply, "I'm not sure if it will be dangerous or humorous. Or both." Aunt T turned her attention to Neville's cat.
"And who is this beauty sitting on your shoulder?" she asked Neville.
"This is Voldemort" said Neville. Voldemort looked up at Aunt T from his place on Neville's shoulder with a regal look that Aunt T took notice of.
"Now that is a high class cat" she said with approval, "and he definitely has more class and poise than his namesake. He's much better looking too."
"You knew him?" asked Hermione sounding impressed.
"I never met him, no" was the reply, "but I do know what he looked like and he was about as ugly as it is possible to be – unlike this little guy." Aunt T gestured at Voldemort the cat who purred his pleasure at the comparison.
"And unless I miss my guess" Aunt T said suddenly switching to Dragon and addressing the Komodo Dragon who was standing by Harry, "you must be Raja."
"I am, your Majesty" said Raja, "I am honored to meet you."
"I hope you're taking good care of my nephew."
"I try." said Raja, "he doesn't always make it easy."
"Hey!" said Harry. Both Raja and Aunt T laughed.
"Ah nephew" said Aunt T speaking in English. "You're still so cute when you get wound up."
"Glad I'm so amusing" grumbled Harry but there was no heat in his words and his lips twitched upward a bit. Aunt T looked over at Hermione who looked like she was bursting to say something.
"Do you have a question?" Aunt T asked Hermione who nodded.
"Um" said Hermione sounding a bit nervous, "Queen Tiamat – "
"You may call me Lady T if you wish" said Aunt T, "as you're friends with Harry."
"Thank you" said Hermione, "Harry told me that you have five heads when you're in your true form."
"That is true" said Aunt T, "what of it?"
"I was just wondering how that works?" said Hermione "I mean logically it would seem that if a person has two heads they would have two separate brains which would mean that they're really two people who share a body. That same logic would say that you're five people who share a body – but that's clearly not the case at all. You're obviously one person. If you weren't would you be able to transform yourself into a human with one head? I don't mean to offend you and I apologize if my question is too personal."
"I'm not offended" said Aunt T though she frowned a little, "at least you are polite about it. There have been people in the past who said that since I have five heads that I was five people. They didn't ask if that was so nor did they care how that would work. They simply decided that they were right about me and stated that I was five people. I don't like it when people act like that."
"She doesn't" said Harry, "and you really don't want to get on her bad side."
"You don't need to worry" said Aunt T to Hermione in a reassuring manner, "you actually asked me how my nature works and, like I said before, you were polite about it. I don't mind explaining it to you.
"It's not that complicated really. I have one brain. In my true form it is divided up between all of my heads. Each of my heads can act on its own and think for itself but they're all linked together into one overall mind. You could say each one is a different part of me but together my whole is greater than my individual parts. Do you understand?"
"I think so" said Hermione, "have you ever read any of the works of Arthur C. Clarke?"
"I've read 2001" was the answer.
"There was this early story of his" said Hermione, "I don't remember the name of it but in it he described this alien race where each person was an individual but they could all mentally link up with each other and form combined minds that were smarter than the individuals were. When the whole race linked up they were one big super mind that could solve almost any problem. I know it's not exactly the same thing but – "
"It's close enough" said Aunt T, "I'll have to look up that story at some point. You're a very smart girl Ms. Granger."
"Thank you" said Hermione who then asked a bit more shyly, "would it be possible to see the real you?"
"Well now" said Aunt T as she considered the question, "I could turn back to my true form but that might cause a bit of a panic."
"I don't know about that" said Harry, "the school has seen me in my dragon form a number of times already and dad and mum came to visit not that long ago. Everyone saw them in their true forms."
"I did hear about that" said Aunt T, "but none of you have more than one head, do you?"
"No" said Harry, "but I don't know if that will matter too much. This is a magic school after all."
"That is true" said Aunt T, "all right I'll do it – but only if you assume your true form too Harry."
"No problem" said Harry and he quickly assumed his dragon form. Aunt T looked at him with a critical eye.
"Well nephew you've grown some more since I last saw you" she said, "now please have your friends stand back." Hermione, Neville, and Raja all stepped back from where they were even before Harry said anything to them. Aunt T nodded in approval. The next thing any of them knew Tiamat stood revealed in front of them in her true form. She was a massive dragon, roughly as big as Bahamut was however her five heads made her look bigger and more intimidating. There was no denying that she was a magnificent sight.
"Wow!" said Hermione when she saw Tiamat fully revealed.
"People often say that when they see me for the first time" said Tiamat with a chuckle. Hermione was fascinated to note that all five of her heads spoke together.
"Of course they do Aunt T" said Harry, "And why wouldn't they?"
"Why indeed?" said Tiamat as each of her heads dipped down and nuzzled her nephew's head. Then she heard some noise behind her and looked around.
"We seemed to be attracting some attention" she said to Harry, Hermione, and Neville. It was true. The population of Hogwarts was used to Harry's dragon form by now and everyone had seen Bahamut and Daranni but the appearance of a dragon with five heads who is every bit as big as Bahamut would hardly pass unnoticed. Unlike with Bahamut and Daranni, however, while the people in the castle were coming outside to get a better look at Tiamat most of them were keeping their distance from her. It was clear that a few of them recognized her for who she was and were telling other people about her. As a result almost everyone stayed back and didn't approach her.
One person who did approach where Tiamat and Harry were was Headmaster Dumbledore. He didn't show any fear as he approached the dragons but he exercised caution as he came close to them. He knew who Tiamat was and he hoped to find out why she was there without causing any trouble for himself or the school. He was screwing up his courage to speak to Tiamat when Harry spoke first.
"Hello headmaster" said Harry, "may I present to you my aunt, Queen Tiamat? Aunt T, this is Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts' headmaster."
"Welcome to Hogwarts your majesty" said Dumbledore with a bow. Harry saw four other people who had followed the headmaster but were hanging back for the moment.
"Thank you headmaster" said Tiamat in reply.
"May I ask what brings you to our fine institution on this autumn day?" asked Dumbledore.
"I'm simply here to visit my nephew" said the royal dragon.
"I see" said Dumbledore, "well if you don't intend to cause us any trouble then you are welcome here – and I know of at least four of my staff who will be quite happy to meet you."
"Oh?" asked Tiamat who let the implied 'don't cause trouble while you're here' statement slide in favor of the rest of what Dumbledore said, "who would that be?"
"They're right here" said Dumbledore motioning for his followers to come forward, "allow me to introduce you to Professor Filius Flitwick, my Charms Professor, Professor Silvanus Kettleburn who teaches Care of Magical Creatures (not that you're a creature of course, that's just a catch-all name for non-humans around here which I hope you will forgive), my Potions Master Severus Snape, and finally the school Gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid."
"You are truly one of the most beautiful people I've ever seen my lady" said Hagrid coming forward and looking at Tiamat in awe while also giving her a respectful bow.
"Why thank you" said Tiamat, all five of her heads looking smug at the same time while she spoke.
"I must agree" said Professor Kettleburn, "it's truly an honor to meet you."
"So nice to be recognized in one's own lifetime" replied Tiamat.
"I've met your brother Bahamut" said Snape, "you're more impressive than he is."
"Well, he only has one head" said Tiamat.
"I, too, am happy to make your acquaintance" said Professor Flitwick. Flitwick, Kettleburn and Hagrid were soon happily talking with Tiamat while Dumbledore and Harry looked on and Snape stood nearby mostly listening to the conversation. Everything seemed fine until there was an unpleasant interruption.
"How can you lower yourselves to talk to these filthy beasts?!" came a high-pitched shriek from some distance away. Everyone turned and saw Madame Umbridge stomping towards them with a look of fury on her face. She had arrived at Hogwarts just as Tiamat took her true form and it shocked her for a few moments before she regained possession of herself and she remembered what she was here to do. It looked like there were two filthy beasts to deal with rather than one.
"Well now, what do we have here?" asked Tiamat in a distinctly unimpressed voice as she watched Umbridge approach them.
"Don't you mean who do we have here, Aunt T?" asked Harry.
"No" said Tiamat, "I know the difference between a 'who' and a 'what' – at least usually. If that's a who than I have to ask what happened to it?"
"Good point" said Harry trying not to laugh.
"My name is Dolores Umbridge," said Umbridge, "I am the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic himself and you will show me the proper respect."
"You mean none?" asked Tiamat going into 'royal we' mode, "We are a ruling Queen. We outrank you quite a lot. You should be showing Us the proper respect."
Tiamat gestured toward Harry with one of her heads.
"And he is a Prince" she continued, "so you should show proper respect to him as well."
Umbridge looked over at Harry, only vaguely noticing Neville and Hermione nearby. She didn't notice when Voldemort the cat stood up on Neville's shoulder and hissed at her and Raja looked like he wanted to attack her.
"You are nothing but filthy beasts who ought to be put down" said Umbridge, "you're both under arrest and will come with me to the ministry where you will be dealt with."
Tiamat looked at Umbridge with incredulity while Harry just stared at Umbridge wondering if she was quite right in the head.
"Arrest us?" asked Tiamat stepping closer to Umbridge, "you and what army?"
"She probably thinks she doesn't need one" said Harry, "she didn't even bring any aurors."
"Which means one of two things" said Tiamat, "either she's ridiculously powerful and skilled – or she's delusional. Personally I think it's the second one."
"Whether she is powerful or not" said Dumbledore stepping in, "and I happen to know that she's only average in power, she doesn't have the authority to arrest anyone. That lies with the DMLE and no one from that department is here. Tell me Dolores, does the minister know you're here?"
"Of course he does" blustered Umbridge, "he's the one who sent me."
"Somehow I doubt that" said Professor Flitwick.
"I agree" sneered Snape, "if Minister Fudge really approved of what you're trying to do he'd be here with you to oversee things himself. Yet he's not. Interesting."
"It doesn't matter what you think" said Umbridge as she pulled out her wand, "I have full backing for whatever I do. You two dragons must surrender to me. If you refuse you will be killed."
"Dolores, that's enough" said Dumbledore in a stern voice but Umbridge just sneered at him before turning her attention back to Tiamat who was looking at her in silence as if measuring her words. Finally she spoke.
"Are you threatening us?" asked Tiamat, a hint of anger in her tone, "I am the sovereign ruler of my own realm. Your ministry has no authority over me. My nephew is the son of another sovereign ruler that your ministry also has no authority over. I can see from your face that you know this. Why should we surrender ourselves to you? You are nothing but a petty bureaucrat who thinks far more of herself than she should and doesn't understand that she isn't above the rules and isn't really much of anything in the grand scheme of things except a brown-nosing toadie."
"AVADA KEDAVRA" yelled Umbridge pointing her wand at Tiamat. The green killing curse shot out of her wand and hit Tiamat in her chest – and did nothing whatever. The five-headed dragon looked down at where the curse had hit her and then looked back at Umbridge with an expression of rage on her face.
"You thought that in my true form your killing curse could affect me?" roared Tiamat, "you foolish mortal! Let this be your just punishment!"
All five of Tiamat's heads took deep breaths. For a second it looked like she was mouthing something and fire came out of all five of her mouths and completely engulfed Dolores Umbridge who hadn't been able to get out of the way fast enough. A bunch of people screamed and looked away but the fire only lasted for a few seconds before dissipating. When it was gone everyone looked to where Umbridge had been standing.
Within seconds a roar of laughter began making itself heard. Hermione, Neville, Harry and all of the other onlookers had expected to see nothing but a pile of ash. Instead they saw a huge brown toad standing in the spot that Umbridge had been standing in. The toad was roughly the same size as Umbridge and it was looking at itself in dawning horror as it realized what had happened to it.
"You turned her into a giant toad?" asked Harry.
"It seemed more fitting than killing her" said Tiamat, "I see no reason to start a war. After all since she tried to kill me first I was justified in responding. Unlike her I didn't try to kill her. I decided to give her something that she would really hate. She seems like the type of person who can't stand to have people laugh at her."
"How long will it last?"
"It's permanent" said Tiamat smugly, "only three people can break it. Me, your grandfather Io (but I doubt we'll see him around here any time soon), and you."
"Me?" asked Harry in surprise.
"Call it a gift from me to you" said Tiamat, "if you're feeling merciful you can reverse it. You know how. But I'd advise you not to do so unless you think she's learned her lesson."
"Does she still have her mind?"
"Oh yes" said Tiamat, "she knows exactly who she is and what's happened to her. She just can't do or say anything about it. Isn't that right Madame Umbridge?" This last was said to the toad itself which looked up at Tiamat with fearful eyes and opened its mouth.
"CROAK!" was all that came out of the toad's mouth and if a toad could look mortified then this one did.
"That's a very convincing argument" said Tiamat with a laugh before turning to her nephew, "well Harry it's good to see you and it was nice to meet your friends but I must be off. Take good care of Madame Umbridge."
"Okay Aunt T" said Harry, "but before you go why were you immune to the killing curse just now but mum and dad weren't back in 1981?"
"Ah but they were fully mortal at the time" said Tiamat, "with no knowledge of what they really were. The killing curse could kill their mortal bodies and it did. It couldn't kill their real selves, however. It could only send them back to Mt. Celestia. Understand?"
"Yes Aunt T" said Harry, "thanks for visiting. Until next time."
All of Tiamat's heads nodded at Harry and she took off. Once she'd gained a considerable height above Hogwarts she made a portal and flew through it with the portal closing up after her. Harry watched her go before looking down at the Umbridge Toad.
"Well now" said Harry, "what should we do with you?"
"If I might make a suggestion Harry" said Dumbledore, "we could send her to the Department of Mysteries and let the Unspeakables try to break the spell – unless you want to reverse it now?"
Harry considered this. His aunt was right. He did have the knowledge of how to reverse the spell and wondered if he should do it. When he looked over at the toad he saw that it was glaring at him with a murderous expression.
"I don't think so" he finally said, "she tried to kill my aunt. If I end the spell now she won't learn anything. Besides, she makes an impressive toad."
"That she does" said Dumbledore trying (not very successfully) to restrain his laughter. Umbridge gave off an indignant croak which just made everyone else laugh even more.
(To Be Continued)
A/N - Lesson of the day: Don't cross Tiamat. It won't end well for you.
I've known this confrontation was coming for a long time but until very recently I didn't know how it would end. Originally Tiamat was going to incinerate Umbridge but it seemed to me that Tiamat wouldn't find Umbridge to be worth killing and would do something else that some might think is worse. Also, as she said, she didn't feel like starting a war although the ministry probably wouldn't declare war over Umbridge's death. More likely they'd be relieved that she was gone. Something had to happen though and this is what I finally came up with.
The Arthur C. Clarke story Hermione mentions is called Rescue Party and it first came out in 1946.
And that's all until next time (whenever that is).