Chapter Five: The Mudblood
The air was brisk, an odd reminder that it would actually get cold soon, in ways that the Forest never did. Harry was familiar with frost—the Forest ground was often covered in the stuff during the winter months—but the Forest floor never got cold enough for ice or snow.
Harry lay on the cool earth, turning the various flowers around him into saucers. He'd mastered clovers, but the puffy white dandelions were proving tougher to change. It didn't help that whenever the wind blew, or he breathed a little too hard, the fluff of the dandelion would change shape, scattering its seeds on the moving air.
Draco was quiet for a few moments when he came upon Harry, belly-down on the muddy grass, wand pointed determinedly at a weed. A small sigh—a whispered word—came from the wizard on the ground and the dandelion shrunk, spreading out into a small white tea-cup saucer, edged in green.
"Ante obliviscoris, canae veni," (fig. Come to dinner before you forget again,) he said.
Harry blinked, looking up at the other boy and then at the sky. Sol was indeed beginning his descent through the lower horizon, so he nodded and pushed himself to his feet. "Ita vero." (fig. All right.)
"Itaque canam hodie omittere nolis." (fig. After all, you wouldn't want to miss dinner tonight," Draco chided him. "Memoriane tenes?" (fig. Remember?)
Harry grinned at the reminder. Draco had told him about the evolution of the feast of Feralia after the decline of the Old Ways; how the feast to honor those who had died and to worship the goddess Mania had dissolved into a celebration of things that were scary and the consumption of lots of candy. Certainly, Harry hadn't expected the wizards to keep with the truly ancient practice of the sacrifice of heads—human sacrifice had been outlawed even when the Old Ways had been practiced openly—but he had been hopeful that there would at least be garlic or poppies decorating the Great Hall to pacify the goddess. (1) There had, of course, been nothing of the sort that morning, though Harry noted that several parents—Draco's included—had sent their children the small, grotesque wooden dolls of the goddess to hang on their bedroom doors that night. In response to his disquiet over the lack of offerings, Draco had pointed out that there had been no other Halloween decorations set out in preparation for the feast either.
The Great Hall was now very different than the one they had eaten breakfast in that morning. A group of live bats swerved down over their heads as they entered, before flittering up to join the hundreds of others that circled the ceiling rafters and walls. Candles sprouted from the stems of pumpkins floating in the air above the tables, the flames of which flickered as the bats swooped by. The tables were laden, almost to overflowing, with mountains of candy and food.
Even though there wasn't a head of garlic or a poppy in sight, Harry reached into a caldron of already-unwrapped chocolate frogs with a grin and pulled one out by a leg. Draco was already sucking on a Blood Lollypop and helping himself to a drumstick. The rest of the students were in high spirits as well, digging into the candy as if it were the main course and the other food just extra.
Harry was reaching for a caramel apple when Professor Quirrell raced into the hall, terror etched on his face, his turban and robes disheveled. The chatter in the hall was so loud that there were many students that didn't even notice him until he had reached Professor Dumbledore's chair. "Troll—in the dungeons—" he half yelled, half gasped, over the din of the chatter that fell instantly silent at his words. "…thought you ought to know."
He then sank to the floor in a dead faint.
Screaming erupted around the Great Hall, a cacophony that took several moments for even Dumbledore to silence. "Prefects," he rumbled, when he finally had the attention of the entire hall, "lead your Houses back to their dormitories immediately!"
Harry shrunk back into a small alcove in the wall as the Slytherins rose to follow their prefect. When Draco moved to follow as well, he grabbed the blond by the arm and pulled him into the alcove with him.
"Num nunc audis?" (fig. Weren't you listening just now?) he hissed loudly over the sound of shuffling feet.
"Aperte plus quam tu; invenire alias corvos ungulas debes!"(fig. Obviously more than you; you should go find the other Ravenclaws!)
Harry nearly rolled his eyes at the idea. "Trollus est in carceribus." (fig. The troll is in the dungeons.)
As was the Slytherin common room. Draco blanched as he made the connection, though he made no move to go inform the Slytherin prefect of it. "Itaque manemus?" (fig. So we stay here?)
"Ita vero. (fig. We could,) Harry mused. "Sed… de rem considero." (fig. But… I'm wondering about something.) At Draco's curious look he continued. "Quam bonus putas ut Quirrellem trolli aspicere possit?" (fig. How good a look at this troll do you think Quirrell got?)
Draco frowned. "Non puto ut aspectum optimum reaquireat nam scit ut trollum sit trollum." (fig. I don't think you'd need to take a very close look at a troll to know it was a troll.)
"Ita vero, sed aliqui gens trolli paene idem magnitudine pondereque quam aliqui gens orci sunt." (fig.Yes, but some species of troll are about the same size and weight as some species of ogres.)
Draco blinked at the implication. "Gravis non es!" (fig. You're not serious!)
Harry nodded with a grin. "Puto ut Maniam deam se vindicet quod apte non venerrit. Quid sponsionem facies ut omnes discipules qui penati dodantur, simul ac cubiculis sui reddent, in ostiis penatem suspendeant, ut Maniam placearit, per si ut orcus (2) eos visitare statuet" (fig. I think the goddess Mania is getting a bit of her own back because she wasn't worshiped properly. What do you want to bet all the students who were sent little wooden figurines of her hang them on their doors as soon as they get back to their dormitories to appease her, in case she decides to visit them as an ogre?)
"Quomodo trollum in castellum, res exponere potest," (fig. It would explain how a troll got into the castle,) Draco nodded, satisfied with his reasoning, "Propter quam stulti sunt." (fig. Considering how stupid they are.) He looked out at the students still filing out of the Great Hall in barely restrained panic, and then frowned.
Harry followed his gaze, now locked on one figure moving against the tide on the other side of the Great Hall.
"Cur Professor Snape cum ceteri magistres non ibat?" (fig. Why isn't Professor Snape going with the other teachers?) Draco mused, as the head of Slytherin ducked out of the Hall in a direction leading away from the stairs to the dungeons. Harry could almost see the thoughts churning in the wizard's head before Draco turned to him, a fiendish light in his eyes. "Sequamur et cognoscamus" (fig. Let's follow him and find out.)
"Sed tum cenam mei conficere non possum," (fig. But then I won't be able to finish my dinner,) Harry protested, as Draco pulled him out of the alcove and back into the hall.
Snape was far ahead of them when they managed to slip out of the Great Hall, and they followed as quickly as they dared, keeping in mind to be as silent as possible. They followed him down one corridor to the next, though they never seemed to catch up to him. Snape seemed as keen to get wherever he was going as they were to follow him.
Draco finally pulled Harry into the shadowed alcove of an unfamiliar staircase as Snape—already at the top of said staircase—paused to unlock a door on the landing.
"Ubi it?" (lit. Where is he going?) Draco mused.
"Antron in solo tertio," (fig. The third floor corridor,) Harry replied. He'd been that way before already himself.
Draco looked at him in surprise. "Certus est?" (fig. You sure?) His eyes narrowed.
"Certus sum. Scalae illae androni in solo terito." (fig. Positive. That staircase goes to the third floor corridor.)
"Quomodo hoc scis? Discipulis non licet!" (fig. How do you know that? It's forbidden to students!)
"Itaque Silva est." (fig. So is the Forest,) Harry replied, as if that would explain everything.
Draco blinked before nodding in thought. "Ita vero." (fig. Good point.) Obviously the Forbidden Forest wasn't so forbidden to one who had been raised there. If that was the definition of "forbidden", then the third floor corridor probably didn't seem all that foreboding to Harry.
"Cur tam horribiles est, intellego," (fig. I don't see why it's so horrible, anyway,) Harry gripped, as Snape slipped through the door and closed it firmly behind him. "Andron pulvenulentus modo, repletus ostiorum claustorum multorum est-" (fig. Just a dusty corridor filled with a lot of locked doors-)
"Harrius," (lit. Harry,) Draco interrupted him, "olfacerene nonnihil potes? (fig. can you smell something?)
Harry's nose twitched as he sniffed the rank smell, like a carcass rotting on the forest floor, and a little bit like the dirty laundry his dorm mates seemed to accumulate.
He knew this smell. Pushing Draco further into the alcove behind him, Harry glanced cautiously down the hall, toward the arrival of the creature causing the stench. Draco peered over his shoulder, so close that when he exhaled Harry could feel the boy's breath on his neck.
There was a slow shuffling, and a creature crossed into the passage.
Even out of its natural habitat, the troll was an awful sight. A huge body, seemingly made of earth and clay, with a bulbous, bald head, and legs like tree trunks with feet like the sharpened, splayed roots of those trees.
It crossed the hall, pausing outside an open door.
Draco tugged at his sleeve, face ashen, his words little more than a frantic whisper. "Hoc non orcus est!" (fig. That isn't an ogre!)
"Non est," (fig. No, it's not,) Harry agreed, assessing the creature before them.
"Hoc trollum montis est!" (lit. That's a mountain troll!)
Harry frowned as the troll lumbered through the doorway. "Parvus trollo montis est." (fig. It's small for a mountain troll.)
The wild look Draco sent his way clearly questioned the relevance of that comment, which Harry ignored.
"Veni, exeamus." (fig. Come on, let's get out of here.) Harry wasn't about to take on a troll with just his new wand, as he'd been forced to leave his weapons behind with the herd.
They inched toward the door, watching for any signs of movement that might indicate that the troll had decided to return back the way he'd come.
"Para… curre!" (lit. Ready… run!) Harry pushed Draco in front of him as they bolted past the door and down the hall.
Harry'd just reached the end of the hall when he heard the scream, shrill and scared and feminine. "Draco—"(3)
But Draco was long gone, back into the Great Hall, probably heading as fast as he could for the stairs that would take him to the dungeons. Harry was alone in the hall.
With the screamer. And the troll.
He didn't have his bow. Or anything he could use to defend himself, really. Just his wand…
The scream came again and Harry swore, turning on his heel. He cantered back towards the doorway, unsure of what exactly he would even do once he got there, but sure that he had to do something—
—and bumped into another student sprinting, panicked, toward the bathroom from the other end of the hall. He recognized the boy as the one Draco had thrown out on the train.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded.
The boy—Ron Weasley, if he remembered correctly—stuttered out something about an insult and what Parvati Patil had said and how Hermione didn't know—
"Be silent!" Harry ordered, pushing the boy inside the bathroom. "This isn't the time for your life story!"
"What do you care?" Ron yelled back. "Hermione's not even from your house. And she's a—"
Hermione's scream interrupted them as the troll swung his club, smashing across the stalls.
"If you're going to help, then help," Harry snarled, looking around the small room, trying to divine a plan of stopping the troll.
"Um, right," Ron muttered distractedly. Grabbing a piece of broken pipe from the floor, he hurled it a the troll's head. "Oy, pea-brain!"
The pipe hit the troll's head with a metallic thump, and the troll lumbered around to face the boys. Harry pushed Ron to one side as he himself dove out of the way of the massive club that the troll leveled at where they had stood.
Harry glared at Ron from across the room. "Fatuus es!" (fig. You idiot!) he spat. "Quid Furiae potirit-" (fig. What Fury possessed you to—)
"English, mate!" Ron interrupted frantically, under the illusion that Harry had been barking out orders and not insults.
The troll whirled his club around again and Harry rolled out of the way as the stall behind him shattered, shards of porcelain and wood exploding every which way as water erupted from the ruined plumbing. Harry caught sight of Hermione frantically motioning to Ron, huddled beneath a sink.
Harry wanted a bow—his bow. Half-covered in debris, with only the mudblood from class and the boy from the train, who was no help at all—his fingers clenched around the smooth wood of his wand—yes, he really wanted his bow.
Ron, standing behind the troll, mimicked Hermione's motions as if reaching for salvation. "Wingardium Leviosa!" he called as the troll reached back to swing again—
—and stumbled forward as his club rose high above his head. The troll paused to gaze at the club, as if he couldn't quite believe it was still hanging there.
"Was that all you could think of?" Harry yelped, scrambling out of the wreckage. But it was a chance—however slim. If he only had something with which to subdue or—better yet—kill the creature…
He could see it in his mind's eye—what he wanted and what he had. He held the one in his hands while wanting the other.
And then they switched. With nothing more than the feeling that something was happening, the wood scraps in his hand shifted and he lifted the bow as he let his wand drop to the floor by his feet. It was instinct to shoot—once, twice—just as the creation of the bow and its arrows had been.
The arrows hit their marks and the troll, howling as the first went in—a jolted, strangled scream—as it fell back, crashing against the wall and slouching to the floor.
The room was oddly still as Hermione rose from her hiding place and Ron gasped in gulps of air like he'd been running for his life, slouched against the wall as if he didn't trust his legs to keep him upright.
Harry looked down at the weapon in his hand, before bending to pick up his wand.
"Is it… dead?" Hermione asked in the stillness.
"Looks that way," Ron replied, eying the fallen lump of troll and the two arrows half embedded in its skull through the eye sockets.
All three of them jumped when the odd, sullen silence was broken by the loud arrival of three teachers; Professor McGonagall burst into the room, followed closely by Professor Snape and Professor Quirrell.
Quirrell took one look at the troll, let out a faint whimper, and sat quickly down on a toilet, clutching his heart. But the other two looked pointedly from the arrows to the bow in Harry's hand.
"What on earth were you thinking?" Professor McGonagall asked, her voice cold with fury, and though she was looking at all three students, her question seemed aimed completely at Harry. "You're lucky you weren't killed. Why aren't you in your dormitory?"
Harry said nothing. But, from the shadows at his side, came another voice.
"Please, Professor McGonagall—they were looking for me."
Hermione looked determined and yet frail at the same time as she met her head of House's stare head on. "I went looking for the troll because I—I thought I could deal with it on my own—you know, because I've read all about them."
Ron was gaping at Hermione as if he'd never seen anything more amazing in his life, but Harry didn't quite get why this lie was so good. It couldn't possibly get them out of trouble, could it?
"If they hadn't found me, I'd be dead by now. Ron distracted it, and then… Harry transfigured some wood splinters into a bow and arrow and shot it! They didn't have time to come and fetch anyone. It was about to finish me off when they arrived."
Ron and Harry tried to look as if this story wasn't mostly new to them.
"Well—in that case…" said Professor McGonagall, staring at the three of them, "Miss Granger, you foolish girl, how could you think of tackling a mountain troll on your own?" Hermione hung her head under Professor McGonagall's glare. "Five points will be taken from Gryffindor for this. I'm very disappointed in you."
McGonagall then turned to Ron and to Harry. "Mr. Weasley and Mr.—" Harry stared stonily at her, "Harry. You are both very lucky. But not many first years could take on a full-grown mountain troll. And this—" she gestured to the bow in Harry's hand, "—is also quite an impressive feat for a first year student, especially in a moment of danger. Five points will be awarded to Gryffindor, and ten to Ravenclaw.
"Now, if you're not hurt Miss Granger, you and Mr. Weasley had better get off to Gryffindor tower. Students are finishing the feast in their houses.
"As for you, Harry," McGonagall continued. "You had better give me that."
Harry handed over the bow with reluctance. He wasn't quite sure he could manage to make another the way he'd made that one.
He still wasn't sure how he'd even made that one to begin with.
But he was distracted from that question by sent which he could only barely detect in the room. Blood. He blinked in confusion. He hadn't thought the troll had actually hit any of them, and if it had wouldn't he have seen—
And then he saw the blood—a dark, oozing gash down Professor Snape's leg, mostly hidden by the Professor's outer robes.
Professor Snape himself was watching Harry with an odd expression, though Harry was sure Snape had seen that he had been looking at his wound.
"You had better return to the Ravenclaw common room, Harry," McGonagall continued, "I will be informing your Head of House and he will take any disciplinary measures he sees fit."
Harry barely held in a snort of contempt as he left. Flitwick(4) didn't care what his students got into as long as they didn't interrupt his own studies.
He was halfway down the hall when Hermione, followed closely by Ron, caught up with him.
"Harry," she said, and he stopped, turning to look at her. "Ago gratiam tibi servanti mei. Sum Hermione Granger.(5)" (fig. Thank you for saving me. I am Hermione Granger.)
Harry quirked an eyebrow at the Latin, rushed and unsure but clear and without accent. "Cute," he declared it, this child's form of the language. "Cute but utterly meaningless." He turned and was off towards the Ravenclaw common room, leaving the Gryffindors in the corridor.
"You shouldn't have bothered."
Hermione had almost forgotten Ron was walking with her back to the Gryffindor common room. "What?"
"Trying to talk to him. Did you expect him to treat you differently if you used Latin?"
Hermione looked at Ron with a puzzled expression. "Shouldn't I have?"
Ron shook his head. "It's not like going to another country and learning the language to fit in. The only wizards who speak Latin like that these days are the ones who hate muggleborns. They blame muggleborns for degrading-" he punctuated the word with his tone, showing exactly what he felt of this argument, "-our society. They say it's the fault of muggleborns that we aren't still in the golden age of wizardry, when everyone practiced the Old Ways."
"The Old Ways?"
"Yeah. That's the term for the laws that wizards followed, supposedly back to the inception of wizardry—if you believe those tales. They were very detailed about a lot of things and very strict, so over time these rules were replaced by newer laws."
"They were that bad?"
Ron shrugged. "I don't know if they were really bad or not. It depends who you ask, I guess. But they were very specific."
"A lot of things. Take muggleborns for example. If a muggleborn appeared in the roster of Hogwarts, before that muggleborn could come to school he or she had to enter into a contract of sponsorship with a member of an upstanding wizarding family. Sort of like a pact, that stated that the mentor would teach the muggleborn how wizards act in society and that the muggleborn would learn and act accordingly."
Hermione was very quiet, so Ron hastened to add, "Or that's what my dad told me."
"So these wizards see muggleborns as forcing their views of the world on the wizards because they in turn wouldn't bother to learn all of the wizarding social values," Hermione mused.
"Only the ones that follow the Old Ways," Ron was quick to point out.
"Those like Harry Potter."
Ron snorted. "Yeah, like him."
To be continued
(2)"ogre" translation—The word "ogre" comes to English from it's French derivative, which is believed to have come from the Latin word for the king of the dead, "Orcus". As I am not referring to Pluto himself, but to the monster, I'm using the word but not capitalizing it.
(3) Draco—No, Harry did not speak English here, per say… but does this really need a translation?
(4) Flitwick—Yes, Professor Flitwick is the head of Ravenclaw house. I thought it was odd—but potentially useful and/or funny—too.
(5) Ago gratiam tibi servanti mei. Sum Hermione Granger.—Hermione's Latin is, compared to that of Draco and Harry, much more "Englisized" in word order and choice of phrasing (note the verbs/subjects are in the wrong place, and the—in the Latin—rather stilted use of the participle), to emphasize the fact that she only recently started to work with the language (see Chapter 4).
Footnotes:(1) Mania—The Romans adopted one of the first forms of the "Halloween holiday" after Julius Caesar began conquering Celtic peoples. Mania (pronounced in classical Latin as "may-nee-ah") was originally a Celtic goddess, a woman who would scare little children on the Compitalia and Feralia festivals as an Ogre. Also on this feast, children would hang wooden statues of the Maniae—grotesque little things representing the dead—on their doors. Mania was also worshiped on these feasts. The very first traditions had a human sacrifice—usually one young boy from every family—to fulfill a prophesy that "heads should be sacrificed on the behalf of heads". This form of human sacrifice was outlawed by the consul Junius Brutus, and heads of garlic and poppy flowers were substituted.
1. Continuity—As is hopefully now apparent, I've begun my great divergence from cannon ("begun" is key here… it doesn't get really different for a while). So Harry has no idea yet about Fluffy, he will in time, just not in the order you're all expecting! (Hey, I've got to keep the plot new and exciting somehow!) Also, I'm sort of picking and choosing between the book dialogue and the movie dialogue, though I lean mostly (like 90% of the time) towards the book. If any readers have any specific questions about the continuity, do email me or drop the question in a review.
status: beta'd by Ayeshah Harvey-Lomas