The INDIANS

The INDIANS
by Jazz

Disclaimer: No one is mine. Too bad for me.

Harry entered his dorm, face bright from Quidditch practice to find Ron lying on his bed looking angrily at a scrap of parchment in front of him.

"Hey Ron, what's wrong?" Harry asked cautiously. He hadn't seen Ron so mad since the beginning of the year when Malfroy pushed Ginny into the lake.

Ron held out the parchment in exasperation. "Do you know the answer to this?" he huffed.

Harry took the paper and read out loud the words written in a sickly green ink.

"A Big Indian and a Small Indian went into the woods to hunt.

The Small Indian was the Big Indian's son,

but the Big Indian was not the Small Indian's father.

How is this possible?"

He looked at Ron and shrugged. "I don't know." Ron fell back with a groan. "Why is it so important?" Harry wanted to know.

Ron sat up again. "It shouldn't be important, but not knowing the answer is driving me insane!"

Harry gestured towards the door. "So why not ask Hermione to help you?" Ron's eyes lit up. "You're right! Come on!"

Harry followed Ron out of their dorm and downstairs to the Common's Room where Hermione was curled up on one of the chairs near the fire, reading.

"Hogwarts a History again, Hermione?" Harry and Ron asked in unified disbelief.

She grinned and shrugged her shoulders. "It's a good book. You guys should consider reading it someday."

Harry repressed a shudder of horror as Ron held out the riddle. "Do you think you can take a break for one minute and solve this for me?"

"Sure." Hermione reached out for the scrap and read the riddle. A confused look crossed her face and she sat up straighter, reading it again. Finally she looked up, eyes wide with wonder and bafflement. "I really don't know the answer," she admitted reluctantly.

Harry lay awake that night thinking about the riddle. What was the answer?

He and his friends had dismissed Stepfather and being adopted because the riddle seemed to indicate that the Small Indian was the Big Indian's son by blood, but maybe one of them was the right answer. Harry sighed and rolled over.

In the bed nearby he could hear Ron tossing restlessly too. 'He's right,' Harry moaned silently, 'It is driving me nuts not knowing the answer.'

It was almost morning when Harry finally fell into a restless sleep where he dreamed of two Indians in their buckskins pointing and laughing at him from behind some bushes.

Harry nearly fell asleep in his breakfast the next morning. Ron didn't look much better and neither did Hermione. "I couldn't stop thinking about that riddle last night," Hermione admitted with a yawn.

"Riddle?" Fred and George chirped suddenly. "You mean you got it to?"

Harry looked at the dark circles under the twins' eyes and nodded. "Do you know the answer?" Fred pleaded desperately.

Harry shook his head and sighed. "Nope, none of us do."

Fred looked as though he might cry and George patted him gently on the back. "It's got more than half the school," George said morosely.

Harry looked around the room and saw that a lot of the students from all tables did look tired. "You mean they all don't know the answer?" he asked in disbelief.

George nodded and then yelped as Ron's hand slipped out from under his head and knocked a pitcher of pumpkin juice onto his lap.

Professor Trelawney glared as Professor Flitwick came flying out of the staff room muttering something about looking up Indian culture.

She went inside and picked up the textbook she had left there in her hurry to get away from Snape, who seemed to be in worse mood than usual, if that was even possible.

She was about to exit when she saw a sheet of parchment on the table. She quickly glanced around the room. Satisfied that no one else was in the room she crept over and picked up the paper.

Professor Trelawney read the message. It was a note from a sixth year Ravenclaw Kelsey Bramble asking for help with a problem.

"Big Indian, Small Indian," she murmured to herself.

Four days later the unsolvable riddle had captured the entire school. Numerous students were falling asleep in classes, but as the teachers drifted off too they didn't notice. The lack of sleep was making everyone's nerves frayed.

Professor Snape and McGonagal got into shouting match in the hall over whether the fact that the Indians were hunting had anything to do with the answer.

Crabbe and Goyle almost beat up Malfroy when he told them they were stupid to even hypothesize that the Big Indian was the Small Indian's grandfather or uncle.

Professor Trelawney had the Divinations classes do some tea reading and crystal ball gazing in search of the answer. Lavender swore that she saw a grim standing next to a man in her tea leaves.

Even Peeves was affected and started writing the riddle down on every chalkboard he came across.

Dumbledore looked down the table at his staff. They all looked exhausted; Hagrid had even fallen asleep, his beard trailing in his soup. The others seemed to stare blankly into space, mechanically eating their dinner.

Slowly he leaned over to his left. "What's the matter with the staff," he asked softly, "And the rest of the students, for that matter." He had never heard the hall so quiet before.

Professor Snape looked up, somewhat annoyed at being interrupted from his daze-like state. "Riddle," he mumbled as he began to drift back.

Dumbledore sat up straighter in alarm. "Tom?" he hissed with worry.

Snape gave an almost unnoticeable shudder at the name and shook his head, a bit wider-awake now that his heart had skipped a few beats.

"No," he clarified, "There is a riddle going around that no one can solve and it is slowly driving everyone mad."

Dumbledore looked at his Potion's Master and then down the table. "May I hear the riddle?"

Snape sighed, sat up a little taller and repeated the riddle that had been drilling into his brain for the last couple days.

"A Big Indian and a Small Indian went into the woods to hunt.

The Small Indian was the Big Indian's son,

but the Big Indian was not the Small Indian's father.

How is this possible?"

Dumbledore smiled secretively and went back to his dinner. "Well that's an easy one," he said offhandedly.

There was a clatter of silverware as the other staff members sat up with a start, their attention captured. The students were also leaning toward the Head Table, listening with rapture.

"Well?" Professor McGonagal pressed, "What's the answer?"

Dumbledore chuckled. "The Small Indian was hunting with his mother."

THE END

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Authors Note:

Ok, this one came to me when my sister brought home this riddle and asked my mom and I to help her solve it. We couldn't come up with the answer and it was driving us nuts. Finally mom figured it out. And yes, the riddle was the one in the story.

A Big Indian and a Small Indian went into the woods to hunt.

The Small Indian was the Big Indian's son

But the Big Indian was not the Small Indian's father.

How is this possible?

Dedicated to my sister, Michelle Tyler, who brought home the infuriating riddle and to Wolfie who was my patient beta reader.