Many thanks to everyone who reviewed, even though I haven't seen a lot of them because review alerts are down!!! and I'm sure we all know how bitchy can be about loading things like reviews and new chapters...anyway, I love you all even if I don't know if you love me...
And timydamonkey gets major props for this chap, she was the one who suggested I write the troll, and she came up with some of the conversations and quips Harry, Hermione, and Boot throw around while running away from the troll...and she betaed...and she's just an overall cool person...and um...she's on crack, love her...or something
Anywho, I don't own disney, though I do own disney movies (w00t) and I quote the obscenely rich J.K. Rowling this chapter...I do not own what Quirrel says about the troll...and just because it fits here I also don't own Harry Potter and everyone else in this fic, except for Ruebella and the leader of the cult...who I will only own until I find some random seventh year ravenclaw to name him after
Chapter Seventeen: When I Grow Up
Well, it was only two months since school had begun, three weeks since the cult leader had threatened Harry, and a week and a half since Harry was banned from all Quidditch games for the rest of the year because of a few innocent comments and gestures he'd made. Harry seriously didn't see the problem; it wasn't as if he'd done it where everyone could see!
As reserve/in-training seeker, he was in the stands with the Ravenclaws… cheering for the Hufflepuffs, but really, it was not that big a deal!
And yet, Harry had been serving detention every day since!
These people were so discriminatory.
Snape threw the door open and glared down his long, beak-of-a nose at Harry, which for some reason made him think of vultures in some Disney movie.
"Despite my misgivings, it has been agreed upon by your Head of House and Dumbledore that it would be," Snape sneered, "okay for you to go."
Harry had been expecting this, since he'd whined about never being allowed to do anything on Halloween to Auntie Minerva. Snape couldn't have timed this better; Harry was about to start re-reading the most boring chapter of Hogwarts, A History.
Harry jumped up from the uncomfortable chair that Snape forced him to sit in, and held out the book to Snape, who glared at Harry.
"I personally believe a bit of discipline would do you a world of good, and the same could be said for many of your classmates," Snape declared in his Snape-ish way. "This is why you will be making this detention up come Saturday."
Harry made his best innocent-yet-smug look, and trying to match his voice to his look (he really needed to get a tape recorder or something), replied, "Isn't that what you said about tonight's detention, professor?"
Snape sneered down at him imperiously… and yes; he definitely looked a lot like a cartoon-ish vulture. "Go."
"With great and infinite pleasure," Harry replied with an over-exaggerated salute.
Harry quickly left Snape's office and bounded happily down to the Great Hall for the Halloween feast.
The hallways were silent, which wasn't surprising considering Harry was about thirty minutes late for the feast. Not that it was his fault…
Correction: not that he would admit it was his fault.
Harry picked up his speed so he wouldn't miss any more of the feast, and was soon running; he wouldn't get into any trouble because no one was there. Harry briefly entertained doing something kinda bad, since no one was there to see — but he decided against it. Something told him it wouldn't be the best idea.
Harry skidded to a stop in the Entrance Hall and took distinct pleasure in actually being able to hear the loud noise. And surprisingly, the doors to the school were open; Harry had been under the impression that they closed when it got dark… but whatever.
Harry quickly spun around to look for the poor professor with the speech impediment and the rotten name. Harry seriously felt sorry for the man; he must have been teased more than Harry had ever been before he'd learned that a thesaurus and a few well-aimed insults went a long way on the playground.
"Hello, Professor Squirrel!" Harry greeted brightly, and he couldn't help but notice that the poor man seemed to be developing a twitch — and so young too! "Having a pleasant night?"
"Ye-yes," Squirrel replied. "W-Why are you n-n-not at th-th-the feas-st?"
"On my way now," Harry replied. "I had detention. Why aren't you at the feast?"
Now that Harry thought about it, it was kind of suspicious. Not even Snape had missed an entire Halloween feast, or any other feast. He might have missed it for the first time tonight, but since he had no detention to oversee, he should be along shortly.
"A-a-allergic-c to pu-pu-pum-pk-k-kins." Squirrel replied simply.
Harry wondered what the man drank at dinner then, if he was allergic to pumpkin juice. But he shrugged it off, and declared that he was going to go to the feast.
"I'll talk to you later, Professor Squirrel!"
Harry quickly darted into the Great Hall, and was momentarily awed by the decorations before heading over to the Ravenclaw table, where Hormone and Boot sat.
Hormone didn't blink when Harry all but pushed her out of the way so he could sit down, but she did say, "I thought you had detention."
"So did Professor Snape," Harry replied with a grin. "How's that for a coincidence?"
"How'd you get out of it?" Boot asked curiously.
"I asked," Harry replied. "It's not as hard as you people make it out to be. You think I'm, like, bamboozling everyone, but I'm not… much."
Dinner continued on in that manner, with Squirrel missing — there were a lot of pumpkins around, Harry had to admit — and Snape showing up a while after Harry, not looking the least bit happy to be at the feast.
Then, a little before the feast was scheduled to end, Squirrel showed up looking terrified of something. Harry suspected he'd found a spider in his room and needed someone to kill it for him.
"'Troll in the dungeon!'" Squirrel gasped. "'I thought you ought to know.'"
Then he passed out.
Harry rose his eyebrows and he asked, "Think he was having a nightmare?"
"Why would he lie about something like that?" Hormone demanded. "I can't see a Professor yelling 'fire' without there actually being a fire."
Harry opened his mouth, and Hermione added, "Not everyone's like you, you know."
"Better question," Boot said. "Why wasn't he stuttering?"
Harry had to agree with Boot; it was very suspicious, "Now that you mention it, Squirrel was out in the hallway before I came to the feast."
Boot nodded. "Something weird is going on."
"You're honestly accusing a teacher of letting a troll into the school?" Hormone demanded hormonally.
"No!" Harry and Boot replied together.
"I'm quite sure he just mistook a gargoyle for a troll," Harry replied. "He wouldn't be able to tell a troll from his foot if one bit him."
"Exactly," Boot agreed brightly. Harry figured he might not be so bad… sometimes…
Then Dumbledore called for the Prefects and Head Children to lead all the House members back to their Common Rooms.
"Yeah," Harry yelled loudly. "Let's all go out into the castle where the troll is!"
Everyone froze in place, and turned to look to the teachers to see if they had a good response to that.
"Perhaps," Dumbledore said slowly, "it might be best if we all remained here."
"Right then," Harry declared, rubbing his hands together. "Let's go!"
"Go where?" Hermione and Boot demanded.
"To find out what's up Squirrel's ass!"
"This is insanity," Hermione exclaimed, exasperated. "Let's go back before we do end up getting killed; at least that way they might not even notice that we left."
"Nope, we're going to find this troll… or figure out what's going on — hide!"
Harry grabbed Hermione's arm and they both ran behind a suit of armor.
Snape stalked past their hiding place, clearly heading somewhere rather than wandering aimlessly for a troll… not to mention, he was going the wrong way. Snape was heading upstairs and the troll was supposedly in the dungeons.
"Now do you believe me? Something's going on here!" Harry hissed to Hermione.
"Is Snape behind it?" Hermione asked dubiously.
"No, but I think he knows what's going on," Harry replied. "I swear to God, it's Squirrel."
Once they decided it was safe, the two came out from their hiding place.
"Hey, guys!" a voice exclaimed from behind them, and Harry quickly moved back toward the suit of armor, but then Boot appeared and began jogging up to Harry and Hermione. "I thought I lost you two."
"And for a moment," Harry sighed softly, "I was happy."
Boot shoved Harry playfully. "How could you guys leave me behind?"
"You act as though we'd planned on having you here in the first place," Harry retorted.
"Pssh, you wouldn't have done anything without me and Hermione," Boot replied. "You'd need an audience."
"I resent that!"
"Anyway, you're going the wrong way; all the teachers are down that way, near the girl's loo," Boot replied, pointing vaguely in the direction of said loo. "I saw them heading that way while I was looking for you guys."
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Harry exclaimed. "Someone to catch us? Let's go!"
He headed off down the hallway, and Hermione and Boot followed… after all, they had their choice: the professors, the troll or Harry… and Harry seemed to be the least dangerous choice… kind of…
Once they reached the loo, which was, thankfully, devoid of teachers, the three students turned to look at each other.
"So, where to now?" Hermione asked, her voice smug, and clearly taunting Harry. Harry wondered if she practiced that tone of voice; if so, she was clearly getting ahead of him in the act-like-brat area, and Harry direly needed to catch up in order to keep from being outdone. Maybe he could steal Hormone's tape recorder and kill two birds with one stone.
That was actually a good idea.
"Hello, Mr. Genius, where are we going to go now?"
Harry quickly assessed his environment and then replied, "Well, duh, down the dark, foreboding hallway."
"Which dark, foreboding hallway?" Hermione sighed. "In case you missed it, there are two."
Harry sent her his 'I'm not impressed' look and replied, "If you want to get snippy, you can go look for the troll yourself."
"Harry's probably right; Quirrel probably thought that some suit of armor was a troll and panicked," Boot replied.
"He was probably high at the time too," Harry agreed; it was appearing that Boot really wasn't all that bad to have around. "It would explain the fainting. In fact, I bet that's exactly what happened! Squirrel got high, thought he saw a troll, went into a drug – and hallucination - induced panic, and terrorized the whole school."
"The drugs would explain the stuttering too," Boot agreed, nodding.
"Probably keeps them in his turban," Harry added.
Hermione looked at a complete loss, and then turned on her heel and stomped down one of the dark, foreboding hallways.
"Hey, Hormone!" Harry called. "If Squirrel was high, then that means there was no troll, so we don't have to look for one!"
"No!" Hermione replied, hands on her hips, head cocked up. "We're going to find the troll, just to prove that you're an idiot!"
"She's acting like we actually have to find the troll," Harry muttered, and then he immediately hoped Boot didn't hear him.
"Wow," Harry commented dryly to Hermione as the three stared into the hall where the girls' loo was. "We should definitely follow you more often."
"On the one hand," Boot said, "we'd never get lost."
"Yeah," Harry replied, staring pointedly at Hermione. "Because we'd end up right. where. we. started!"
Then the three of them heard a strange shuffling noise, and turned around, thinking they'd been caught.
"And here I was thinking it was you that smelled funny, Hormone," Harry murmured, for there before them, scratching its head with a club as big as a horse, was proof that Harry was an idiot.
"That is not helping," Hermione hissed back, apparently frozen in place, not that Harry or Boot were in better condition.
"Well, technically, neither are you," Boot whispered, his voice almost inaudible.
"I'm sorry," Harry hissed, "but isn't there a more pressing issue here?"
Apparently, something in Harry's voice hit the troll's eardrum just right, because it slowly teetered and creaked its way around so that it was facing the three first years. Then it swung its club down from its head and tilted its head, looking at them in a way that made Harry fear for his life… and his virtue.
"Oh. Shit." Boot breathed.
The troll took one lumbering step forward, and Harry took a deep breath, started screaming, and took off running, Hermione and Boot following his example.
They skidded their way down the dark, foreboding hallway — that's what happens when you don't wear no skid soles — arms and robes flying, their voices echoing off the stone walls, past the entire faculty of Hogwarts.
"Get back here!" one of the female faculty members called, and in response the three of them ran around a corner.
They reached the Hogwarts Entrance Hall, and Harry ran straight to the Great Hall.
"No!" Hermione yelled, grabbing Harry's wrist and pulling him in the opposite direction. "Away from the Great Hall!"
"Hell no!" Harry yelled back. "If I die, I'm taking everyone with me!"
"Some hero you are!"
"Hey! That's my forehead you're talking about!"
They retreated into another hallway, and found themselves face to face with Squirrel.
"Wait," Boot said, out of breath, tilting his head. "Aren't you supposed to be unconscious?"
"Or high," Harry muttered under his breath, getting elbowed by Hermione for his efforts.
"Sir, the troll's still loose," Hermione gasped. "You should go and help the other professors!"
"Get their fix — ouch!"
Sounds of battle came from behind them.
"Oh, shit, we're all going to die!" Boot whimpered.
"Actually…" Harry muttered, looking at Squirrel appraisingly.
"No! I cannot believe you!" Hermione yelled.
"Shut up!" Harry hissed to her. "You'll leave it to us! Besides, we're young, we've got our whole lives ahead of us!"
"Yeah, he just smells like garlic," Boot agreed.
Hermione stared at them in growing shock and outrage.
"And it's his job to take care of us anyway!" Harry continued. "Besides that, how stupid is it for them to let a troll into a school, anyway?
"They didn't let the troll in!" Hermione all but shrieked.
"That's beside the point!" Harry turned to Squirrel, who was staring at him like he was a giant amoeba - which Harry thought would be kinda cool - in an effort to try to convince the professor. "You're not a good teacher unless you'll take a troll for your students! Look at all the other professors!" As if on cue, one of them was thrown across the floor just outside of their hallway, and the troll lumbered forth, sniffing loudly.
It turned to them and headed down the hallway.
Hermione looked decidedly green; Harry wasn't sure what turn of events made it so, but he was pretty sure it was the troll's reek.
As the troll slowly trudged forward, Harry realized rescue was not coming, not even from Squirrel. It appeared he had to take matters into his own hands in order to save his own ass.
"Sorry, Professor!" Harry exclaimed as he fumbled for his wand. "This is going to hurt us more than it's going to hurt you!"
"This is true, considering we're not going to be learning crap about defense, and we'll be expelled — if we don't go to jail!" Hermione muttered, but Harry couldn't help but notice she wasn't actively protesting.
"On the bright side, at least we're only first years so we won't be too far behind when we go back to Muggle school," Harry said as he pointed his wand at Squirrel, who was an interesting shade of grey, and yelled, "Wingardium Leviosa!"
Squirrel flew straight up and then was jerked toward the troll as Harry whipped his wand around.
The troll was knocked back a little, but took its anger out on Squirrel.
Harry, Boot, and Hermione watched in horror… and then began screaming again, running away as best they could considering the floor was slowly becoming slick with blood.
Unfortunately, they ran right into the teachers.
"Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god…" Boot chanted.
"What are you three doing?" Auntie Minerva demanded coldly.
"The troll has Professor Quirrel!" Hermione blurted out, looking more scared of this than she did of the troll.
"It's horrible!" Harry yelled, horrified at how high pitched his voice was. "You have to go save him!"
"Wait, one minute, how did you three get out of the Great Hall?"
"Left it unlocked," Harry suggested blearily. "I swear to god, you people are trying to kill us! A troll! A fucking troll in the dungeon! Leaving doors unlocked! And oh my god, it's killing Professor Squirrel!"
"Professor Squirrel?" one of the professors demanded. "Mr. Jamesonhumperdinkel!"
"You know," Harry yelled, "for every minute you chide us, Professor Squirrel is losing a body part!"
That seemed to get the message across… well; it might've been Professor Squirrel's scream…
"We'll discuss your disrespect later, young man," Auntie Minerva told Harry as she ran down the hallway along with the other teachers.
"Poor man's probably having his fingernails pulled out one by one," Harry muttered.
"And whose fault is that?" Hermione demanded.
"The man's clearly incompetent!" Harry replied defensively. "Can't even fight off a troll!"
"We are so screwed," Boot muttered, sounding traumatized… Harry and Hermione probably were too.
"You're welcome," Harry replied empathetically.