Harry Gets His Gurg On!
A/N: Hey everyone! I always thought that Harry and Lucius never properly finished the rivalry that started between them in Book 2, while the ending in Book 7 disappointed me in that Malfoy neither died painfully, nor rotted away in Azkaban. So, I thought I'd write this rather A.U. ONE SHOT story where their battle will come to a wonderful conclusion.
I guess I'd best put a small gore warning in too. There is a bit, so be warned!
I do not own anything connected with Harry Potter. A woman named Rowling has it all to herself. I'm just making ikebana out of it for my own amusement.
With a sigh, Harry Potter used the hem of his tee shirt to wipe his sweaty face before uncapping his water bottle for a long drink. The rocky trail he was standing on seemed to wind upward forever and he wondered if he was ever going to actually reach the end.
Glancing over his shoulder, he could see Rubeus Hagrid, bright red in the face, standing a dozen or so paces down-slope, and Olympe Maxime, who was just handing him a water bottle. The Beauxbatons Headmistress appeared as cool and elegant on a trail in the Pyrenees as she ever had during the Tri-Wizard Tournament at Hogwarts.
Harry was not entirely sure how he'd actually ended up here. The recent confrontation with Voldemort and his Death Eaters in the Little Hangleton graveyard and the pointless, stupid death of Cedric Diggory had occupied so much of his thoughts he'd had little time to truly consider all that had subsequently happened.
The whole situation with Mad-Eye Moody, Barty Crouch Jr, Pettigrew, winning the Tournament, almost dying, seeing the ghosts of his parents, facing a reborn Voldemort – it was all still tangled up in a massive, messy ball in his mind. Even the repeated telling of the events to the Headmaster, Fudge and others hadn't helped. Professor Dumbledore had not bothered to arrange any kind of counseling or mind healing after he'd wrung every bit of information out of him, instead once again banishing him to his relatives where he'd languished for three interminable weeks. No-one had been allowed to write to him, not even Sirius.
Then, without warning, Dumbledore himself had appeared on the doorstep one evening and had spirited Harry, Hedwig and all Harry's belongings off to Hogwarts with no explanation, which was par for the course, Harry thought bitterly.
It was only when Madame Maxime arrived that Dumbledore deigned to explain how, during the last confrontation between her, Hagrid and the remaining European giants, the leader of the giants, the Gurg Karkus, had stated he would only consider Dumbledore's proposals if they were presented by the famous Boy Who Lived.
At first, still grieving, Harry had been tempted to tell the Supreme Mugwump to go fuck himself, but had restrained himself at the beseeching look Hagrid had sent him. Instead, Harry had agreed to go on what promised to be a fruitless mission, but at least it got him out from under Dumbledore's thumb and away from the Dursleys and his painful memories.
Pulling his thoughts back to the present, Harry studied his surroundings. He was standing on a treeless, rocky slope somewhere high in the Pyrenees. Everything was dry and dusty, yet, considering the elevation, remarkably warm, and left him slightly short of breath. The trip had been, at first, very rapid, a portkey from Hogwarts to Beauxbatons then a second to a tiny nameless village in the mountain foothills. From there, Harry and his companions had been forced to walk. The subsequent eight days had been, in fact, some of the best of Harry's life, completely against his expectations.
He, Hagrid and Olympe had talked about everything under the sun and then some, Whilst he and Hagrid had known each other for several years, they had never really talked much about each other's day to day lives and Harry had known next to nothing of the French witch. Several nights spent around a campfire, and several days spent trekking along difficult paths, had brought the three of them together, and Harry was, all thing considered, actually happy. He had no illusions as to why Dumbledore had sent him, and he knew this period of apparent freedom would only last so long as the manipulative Headmaster believed was necessary.
Being sent on this mission had also exposed several interesting aspects of his friends, Harry thought ruefully. In spite of his sheepish apology after the first task, and his declaration he'd never treat Harry like that again, Ron, predictably, had gone off the deep end about Harry's supposed importance and that he was gaining all the prestige of such a significant mission whilst he, Ron, merely sat at home and twiddled his thumbs. Harry had been in no mood for Ron's jealousy and had come close to punching the irritating, insecure redhead right in the snoot, only to have been beaten to it by his other best friend.
Hermione, furious at Ron's insensitivity and baseless jealousy, had dealt with him much as she had Malfoy in third year, apparently prompted to such action when Ron had started on about Cedric and the Tournament fiasco. Harry knew she had seen how hurt and betrayed he'd felt by Ron's accusations and jealousy and she had taken matters into her own small, yet capable, hands.
Tucking away his water bottle, Harry smiled to himself; there was something very alluring about Hermione when her temper was up.
He hitched up the magical backpack he was carrying and turned again to face his companions.
"Hey you two, should we stop for lunch or are we close enough to the giants' village to deal with them first?"
Hagrid, who was in the middle of wiping his own face with a bed sheet-sized handkerchief, glanced at Olympe who shrugged eloquently.
"Th' village should be abou' an hour away," the gamekeeper said. "I think it best we stop t' eat now or else we may not get th' chance later."
Olympe nodded. "I agree, zere is a flatter area just ahead, it would be ze easiest place for us to rest."
Harry nodded at this and determinably began marching up-slope, at times struggling to keep his footing as sand and pebbles slithered across heavily eroded rock, making each and every footstep fraught with difficulty and danger.
The lunch break was pleasant, the food provided by the Hogwarts House-elves was excellent, the friends were entertaining and the view was spectacular. With a bit of a sigh, Harry leaned back against a boulder and looked out and down to the barely visible village several kilometers away, from where they'd commenced their trek, then to the valley spread beyond. The air up here was clear and cool and the visibility excellent. Higher up the mountain, he could see a pair of hawks circling around a high rocky outcrop, and realized they were most likely protecting a nest.
With another sigh, he scrambled to his feet and swung the magical backpack over his shoulders. Following his lead, Hagrid and Olympe also got up and together the three friends continued the slow upward climb.
Some ten minutes later, they'd reached the spot where he had seen the hawks and found they were on a small plateau. Looking around, Hagrid reached out with all of his sensitivity but there was no sign of their quarry there. At Harry's inquiringly tilted eyebrow, Hagrid gave him a small smile and a shake of his heavy head, so the three of them moved swiftly across the oddly flat surface before once again starting their climb.
As the next hour of their journey slowly passed, Harry started to feel nervous. What would he say to the giants when he met them? Was this all a clever trick pulled together by Voldemort? He tried to keep his nerves at bay and went over some of the things the lunchtime talk had consisted of - discussions on the French countryside as opposed to the English and Scottish, the different types of magical creatures found here, and so forth. It didn't help, and so Harry (albeit unwillingly) contented himself with his nerves. What if the magical gifts weren't enough? Would this cause the giants to rampage? Even though Olympe was a powerful witch and he was the Boy Who Lived, he doubted he could live through that. What if the giants simply decided to stay on their own turf and this was a pointless venture?
"Don't look so worried 'Arry," Olympe said, cutting into his thoughts. "As long as we do not use magic against zem, zey will not 'urt us. Just do not get too… emotional and we will be fine."
"That's only half my worries," Harry said as they continued to walk up the slope. For all that he and Hagrid had become closer over the last week or so, Harry had been reluctant to broach one particular subject. But now, with the giants' village almost in sight, he decided it was now or never. "Hagrid?"
The half giant looked at him quizzically. "What's on yer mind Harry?"
Harry fiddled with the straps of the backpack where they crossed his chest, then, taking the bull by the horns, he looked straight at his friend. "Did Dumbledore say anything to you away from me?" At Hagrid's startled expression, Harry rushed into an explanation. "All last year Dumbledore refused to do anything to help me…oh not with the tasks, but with those bloody badges, and the articles Skeeter was writing." Harry's expression became bitter. "Snape and Malfoy were making my life hell, Ron had deserted me, almost nobody believed a word I said, and Dumbledore did jack-shit to help." Harry fell silent and scuffed his toe in the dirt, refusing to look at Hagrid or Olympe.
"By not talking to me, by leaving me open to every kind of ridicule and bullying, and by avoiding me, I really believed that Dumbledore didn't trust me. In the end, he did nothing to help me cope with what happened to me after the portkey activated and Cedric lost his life right in front of me." Harry raised his eyes to Hagrid's face. "In spite of what and others may think, I'm not a child Hagrid. I'm the one who's faced Voldemort more times than anybody else, including Dumbledore! I fought him face to face and I will have to again. All I've ever wanted was to be told the things I needed to know instead of being fed little bits at Dumbledore's whim with him always being the one to decide if I should or shouldn't know things that are intimately tied to parts of my life. I'm sick of being left out of the loop, yet being expected to be an obedient little weapon trotted out at the time and place of Dumbledore's choosing! If he said anything to either of you, I believe I not only have a right to know, but for me to have any chance of fulfilling this mission, I NEED to know."
Hagrid's expression was deeply troubled and he slowly shook his head. "I promised P'fesser Dumbledore not t' say anythin' and now I don' know what t' do," he muttered.
Harry reached out and laid his hand on Hagrid's arm and looked up into his friend's deeply troubled face. "I know how loyal you've been to him Hagrid," he said, "and I respect that, but looking back, please think about this. When you were sent to Godric's Hollow to get me, Sirius was there, yet on Dumbledore's orders you refused to hand me over to him. Because of that, Sirius felt he had nothing to live for and made the fateful decision to chase after Pettigrew. Sirius was my legal guardian, not Dumbledore, and if he had had me to care for he would never have ended up in Azkaban. Dumbledore enforced his choices, his decisions on the situation and it resulted in a fine man going to hell on earth while I spent ten years of my life living in a cupboard, being treated like shit, like a slave by Muggles who not just hated magic, but despised it and so hated and despised me. All of this was the result of Dumbledore's decision. A decision he had no moral or legal right to make. Since then, he's continued to make many questionable decisions about my life and has refused to include me in them. I'm almost an adult Hagrid, yet I know little more about my family history or what it is to be an adult wizard now than I did that night you collected me from the Dursleys. There's one thing that Dumbledore says that I do agree with and I say it to you now, we have to choose what is right over what is easy."
As Harry finished speaking, Olympe put her arm around Hagrid's waist and kissed him on his bewhiskered cheek. "Ma cherie, 'Arry is right. 'Ow can we possibly allow 'im to face ze Gurg without complete information? It is not right for 'im to be denied ze knowledge 'e needs both 'ere and in ze rest of 'is life. We 'ave discussed this you and I, and it is time."
With a heavy sigh, Hagrid capitulated. "You're righ', you're righ', both of ye'," He looked at Harry and he reached out to gently ruffle his hair. "Your Ma and Da were some o' m' best friends. I've bin Dumbledore's man nearly m' whole life but now I think it's time f' me to be m' own man."
He glanced at Olympe, who nodded her encouragement. "You're righ' Harry, Dumbledore di' speak t' us in private. He tol' us 'cause as 'alf giants, we're natural Occlumens, so any secret is safe wi' us. He said he didn't expect fer us t' succeed in this mission, and tha' 'is main reason for sending you was to take your mind off Cedric. We think he's got somethin' planned fer next year, we don' know wha' it is, but with th' increase in Ministry interference, we're real concerned there could be some kind o' Ministry stooge a' Hogwarts, and he's trying to prevent tha' an' get some form o' control over the Minister of Magic."
Olympe nodded. "We 'ave emergency portkeys so zat if it appears ze giants are too dangerous we can get you out of zere immediately. Professor Dumbledore 'as several plans 'e is pursuing that 'e 'as not shared with us,"
Another hour of walking bought them to the top of the mountain, and beyond lay a bowl-shaped depression many hundreds of yards across and perhaps a hundred feet deep. To Harry, it looked as if some god or something had poked the mountain peak with a fingertip. From where they stood on the lip of this oddly shaped valley, they could see several groves of small stunted trees, a number of large rocky outcrops and numerous cave mouths that gaped in the walls of the bowl. More than half of the depression was in shadow, but even so, Harry could see at least thirty giants either moving around, sitting near a couple of large fires or resting near a small lake that took up the right-hand third of the valley floor.
"I don' see 'em all," Hagrid muttered, "there should be at least double th' number there. Where the bloomin' heck are the rest o' them?"
Olympe lowered a pair of Omnioculars and glanced at Hagrid. "I think it likely zey are 'unting," she said quietly, "I cannot see ze Gurg, and zat would be ze only reason 'e would leave ze valley."
"I think we should backtrack a bit so that we don't stand out against the sky here and just wait and see if the other giants return," Harry said thoughtfully. "I can't say I want to go down in there as it gets dark, so we may have to wait until tomorrow."
"Good thinkin'," Hagrid agreed. "Why don' we go back down to that li'l spring we found an' set up there fer th' night?"
Being so close to the giants made for a very restless and tense evening, and none of the three slept particularly well. As the sun rose the next morning, they ate a cold meal and then made their way back to the top of the trail where Olympe scanned the valley below with her Omnioculars.
"Ah ha!" she breathed. "It appears zat our conjectures were correct, I am counting at least sixty giants and ze Gurg is currently 'aving a dust bath in ze first patch of sunlight in ze valley. I think now would be a good time to present ourselves and give him ze first of our gifts."
Harry nodded absently as he studied the layout of the valley, then something caught his eye, a flash of white. "Olympe, look towards the group of trees between the circular cave mouth and the one that looks like a diamond. What is that moving in the area under the trees?"
Olympe fiddled with several of the dials on the Omnioculars, zooming in on the area Harry had described. "Merde!" she snarled. "Death Eaters,"
"That's not good," Hagrid mumbled, earning sharp glances from both Harry and Olympe.
Harry held out his hand to the French witch and without a word she passed him the Omnioculars. Before he looked through them, he gestured they all should lie down on the ground as to not be too visible against the skyline, then resting his elbows on the ground he peered through the Omnioculars, moving carefully across the area between the two caves.
With the twiddle of a knob, it was if he was standing right there, looking into the shadows, and he could see a small Wizarding tent had been pitched there. Even as he watched, a figure in Death Eater robes came out from behind one of the trees and a second ducked out of the tent. The first figure moved into a bar of sunlight and Harry was treated to a clear view of Walden McNair's face as the man wiped sweat from it, before he focused on the one coming from the tent. He had a considerable amount of white blond hair and Harry had no trouble recognizing Lucius Malfoy.
He shook his head. This mission had just become a little bit more complicated. There was one good thing though, Hagrid had been very clear that no magic was to be used around the giants as they had a real hatred and fear of wizards using their wands. Giants loved magical gifts they could use, but given their centuries of mistreatment and prejudice at the hands of wizards, they would not tolerate any wand waving. This at least meant that Malfoy and McNair, if they wished to rally the giants to Voldemort, would have to abide by the same restrictions as he and his companions. He had no doubt the two Death Eaters would do everything in their power to get Harry and his friends killed, but Harry had every intention of doing the same to them.
Quickly, he shared his thoughts with his companions and they agreed with his assessment of the situation. Realizing there was no time better than the present, they got up, and with Hagrid leading the way, began to make their way down the narrow rocky path that zigzagged across their side of the valley wall.
The giants did not seem to notice them until they had almost reached the valley floor, when one, who was apparently patrolling, albeit rather haphazardly, saw them and started yelling his head off, as he took off in a shambling run for the Gurg.
The leader of the giants was currently scrubbing his head with handfuls of sand, an action Hagrid quietly explained was to get rid of the giant lice that affected giants, and were as big as Hagrid's fist.
On seeing the guard running towards him, the Gurg ceased his ablutions, and rising to his not inconsiderable height of more than twenty five feet, began to walk towards the unexpected visitors, other giants emerging from the caves and from around the lake, all moving towards their leader.
Harry watched this large and vicious looking group approach, noting that females were outnumbered five to one and thankful Hagrid and Olympe had taken so much time to teach him about giants, for without their lessons, he would have been hard put to tell male from female.
Even the fact that the majority of them were naked, their skins were so thick and wrinkled and their bodies so hairy, it was not just difficult to tell the sexes apart, but even individuals. The vast majority of the giants were the colors of the earth, browns and grays and dusty yellows.
The Gurg stood out a little as his hair was as black as Harry's own, something that appeared to be a rare trait, as the only other giant Harry could see with black hair was a youngling, maybe twelve feet tall, who would have been perhaps 6 years old. Hagrid had explained that whilst newborn giants were about the size of a three year-old human child, they grew very quickly and were usually adult size by the time they were Harry's age. They would then live for anything up to 300 years, but did not become fertile until they were at least 100.
It was this late maturity, along with their violent tempers and the unrestricted killing by Wizard kind that had led to the current incredibly low number of giants. In fact, Harry realized, the sixty or so directly before him might well be all the giants left in the whole of Europe!
Through the moving forest of their legs, Harry caught glimpses of Malfoy and McNair hotfooting it across the valley floor trying to catch up with the huge strides of their hosts. Studying the faces of the approaching giants, Harry saw little to encourage him to believe their mission could be a success. Most of the giants had remarkably vacant expressions, their small piggy eyes dull and incurious, several looked vicious and angry whilst any number of them looked either frightened or hungry.
Hagrid noisily cleared his throat and stepped forward, into the Gurg's path. "Hail Karkus, Gurg o' th' Giants! I am Hagrid, an' I 'ave been sent by th' great Albus Dumbledore t' bring gifts t' you an' t' speak of important matters between wizards an' giants." As he spoke, a number of the giants behind the Gurg snarled and grumbled, and several even picked up large rocks. Harry clutched his wand firmly in his robe pocket, preparing to cast the strongest shield spells he could think of.
However, it appeared to be unnecessary, as Karkus spun around and bellowed something in Giant that made all the others cringe back from him as if he had struck them. Harry, watching this, noticed only one other giant appear to be unaffected by the Gurg's anger, a massive brute close to thirty feet tall, who had a rather spectacular hunchback and thick reddish coarse hair over almost all of his body.
Having cowed his followers, Karkus turned back to face his visitors. "I see you, Hagrid," he said, his voice like giant boulders grinding together. "I do not want to speak to you. Where is Harry Potter?"
"He's 'ere!" Hagrid said, and with that, he gestured for Harry to step forward, and at that moment, Malfoy and McNair finally arrived, having dodged between the milling, restless giants without getting trodden on. Both were covered in dust and sweating profusely in their heavy black robes, for even so early in the morning, the valley was exceptionally hot and breathless. Harry simply ignored them, his gaze fixed on the Gurg's face.
"I am Harry Potter, and I am honored to meet Karkus, Gurg of the giants. I come bearing gifts to show my respect and to show that I would deal with you honorably with no lies, or tricks, or magic."
Karkus nodded slowly at Harry's speech, and simply sat down where he was. At this, all the other giants did the same, the reddish colored brute as close to Karkus as he dared.
"What gift do you have for me?" Karkus demanded.
Harry nodded to Olympe, who bought out a sealed glass jar, opened it and passed it to Harry, who reached in and carefully drew out what looked like a burning twig. He looked up at the Gurg. "May I have your permission to touch this gift with my wand to bring it to its full size?" He asked.
This caused a lot of murmuring among the giants, but at a snarl from the Gurg, they all fell silent. "Do it!" Karkus said, pinning Harry with his surprisingly intelligent gaze. So, with great care, Harry drew his wand from within his robes and tapped the twig, which immediately expanded into a large branch upon which danced flames of blue, green and purple.
"Made by the great Albus Dumbledore himself, as a special gift for the Gurg Karkus, is this everlasting burning branch of Gulbraithian Fire," Harry declared. "Never again will you need to make fire, for this one will never go out. You can break off parts to give to others as you see fit, you and your people will always be warm, you will be able to cook your food and fewer of your children will die from cold. Albus Dumbledore wants you to know that he is your friend and wishes no harm to you or any of the other giants. This is the first of our gifts."
At this point, Lucius Malfoy stepped forward. "Great Gurg, why have you chosen to accept this child's gift when you would not allow us to present the great gifts from our master, Lord Voldemort? We can give you so much more than these fools…."
The Gurg cut him off mid sentence by spitting a huge blob of phlegm onto the sandy ground halfway between himself and the wizard. "Little wizard, I knew these ones were coming, the Earth told me, so I was waiting for them. Then was not the time, now is. Present your gift!"
With that, McNair took what looked like a toy from his pocket and without asking any kind of permission, Malfoy pulled out his wand and tapped it, and it expanded up into a huge battleaxe that McNair had to drop on the ground as it became far too heavy for him to hold.
Whilst several of the watching giants had murmured approval at the gift of fire, many more made their appreciation known of the magnificent weapon. Hagrid and Olympe exchanged worried glances then looked at Harry, only to find him smiling ever so slightly, even as the Gurg reached out and picked up the axe.
"This is a weapon fit for a Gurg," Malfoy said. "The Dark Lord respects you as a great warrior and he promises that this is only the first of the weapons he shall give you and your followers if only you will support him. All great warriors should have great weapons and all know that the giants are the greatest warriors of all. The Dark Lord has a place for all of you in his service and he will take oath to arm you and provide you with many opportunities to show your spirit in battle."
"What he says speaks to the heart of the warrior in you," Harry interjected, "and Albus Dumbledore and I know that you are truly a warrior race. We remember Ugrug the Unstoppable and Shishak the Slayer. However, when you go into battle, you are the most obvious targets, and will surely die."
Harry's piercing emerald gaze swept over all the giants, before returning to the shadowed countenance of Karkus. "Albus Dumbledore and I believe a world without giants would be a sad and lesser place. If you go into battle for the Dark Lord, you will die, and then there will be no more giants. Our gift of fire is meant to be shared among you all according to the Gurg's will, so you may once again spread out from this place, back to your own ranges and your own territories where you may live and mate and raise young ones so there will be more giants in the magical world, not less."
"Bah!" Malfoy spat. "What is this weakness? Giants are fighters and warriors, they are not weak, they are not sheep! The Dark Lord will not send you off to hide in the mountains."
Harry had carefully watched the Gurg's face while he and Malfoy had been speaking and had been much encouraged by the clear intelligence in Karkus's small dark eyes. With great care, the Gurg laid the flaming branch and the great axe to one side.
"What other gifts have you brought me and my people?" he said.
Even as Harry opened his mouth, McNair pushed forward, literally shoving him into Hagrid.
"Our next gift, great Gurg," the Death Eater said, "is to give you the strength of ten giants in battle and to help protect you." He lay something small on the ground and then touched it with his wand and it expanded into a massive silver bracelet that would have fitted Hagrid and Olympe together as a belt. It was set with three huge green gemstones, glowing with a soft light, but there was something about it that made Harry feel very odd.
The Gurg reached out his massive hand and picked up the bracelet, turning it this way and that as he admired it. A number of his followers tried to see it better by leaning in closely and he swiped at them with his free hand, growling at them to keep their place.
Before he could put it on, Harry murmured something to Hagrid, who carefully trod on McNair's foot, making him yelp with pain and hop frantically out of the way.
"Before you place that around your wrist great Gurg," Harry said clearly, "Would you allow me to check it for magic?"
"That won't be necessary," Malfoy exclaimed. "We offer this token only to help you and yes, there are spells for strength and protection on it but that is all."
"Then you won't mind me having my companion cast some detection spells on it, will you?" Harry said sweetly, and before the blond aristocrat could say anything further, the Gurg thumped his fist on the ground hard enough to make them stagger from the vibrations.
"Enough! I say who does what." He roared. "You, Harry Potter, test this."
"May I have my companion's assistance?" Harry asked, pointing at Olympe. "I swear on my magic that she will only do what spells I tell her to and none will be done without your permission."
The giant looked over at Olympe, his expression lustful. "If only you were real giant, not half, I would make you my wife," he said.
Harry was rather amused and impressed with Olympe's ability to hide her revulsion.
"I am 'onored great Gurg," she said, bowing gracefully. "And I swear on my magic zat I will only do what spells Harry Potter tells me to and no more,"
There was a rumble of approval from all the watching giants, as they knew by swearing on their magic, the puny little wizards risked losing it if they lied.
"I really don't think any of this is necessary," Malfoy blustered, but quailed as Karkus bent down and fixed him with a rather intimidating stare, especially as his head was several times bigger than Malfoy's entire body.
"I do!" The Gurg said calmly, his rancid breath blowing Malfoy's hair and robes back. He now glanced at Harry.
"The first spell is a simple one to reveal all magic on an item," the teen explained. "These will show up as colors floating in the air that Madam Olympe can read and explain." The Gurg nodded and Harry smiled at Olympe who raised her wand and the Gurg extended the huge bracelet towards her. Murmuring in French, she waved her wand in several complex patterns and a range of arithmantic and runic symbols appeared floating above it.
"Zis one," she said pointing to the first group of figures "is to change ze size of ze gift from small to large and back again. Zis one," she pointed to the next group of figures that were a deep shade of red, "is a spell to increase strength and it is tied to zis," she pointed to the next line, "which is a basic spell of protection zat works by increasing your skin's ability to reflect magic."
"What about that?" Harry asked, pointing at a complex interweaving ball that kept fading in and out of sight.
Olympe frowned. "It appears to be a concealment charm. It is hiding something about ze bracelet. I will need to perform a much more focused and complex diagnostic charm." She looked up at the giant. "Great Gurg, zis shows zere is another spell on ze bracelet zat is hidden. I need to do more powerful magic to find out what it is. Please place ze bracelet on ze ground as I do not want any of zese spells to hurt you or any of your people."
With a grunt of agreement, Karkus placed the bracelet down, but even as he did, Malfoy rushed forward to stand between Olympe and his gift.
"Great Gurg, I can assure you that my Master, the Dark Lord, has only placed spells on this to help you, and to encourage you to accept his offer. Surely there is no need…." He yelped and leaped frantically backwards as Karkus once again slammed his fist on the ground.
"SILENCE LITTLE WIZARD! Can you swear on your magic this gift is safe?"
At that moment, Harry really enjoyed seeing Malfoy's face, as his expression perfectly matched his rather shaky voice. "I am telling you what the Dark Lord told me," Malfoy said.
At this, Karkus grunted and gestured towards Olympe. "Do your spell," he said. "I do not always tell my people everything when I tell them to obey me. You are the Dark One's slave, you only know what he wants you to know."
Harry, Hagrid and Olympe exchanged impressed looks; clearly the Gurg was far more intelligent and insightful than the common run of giants, and Harry's confidence swelled accordingly.
"Please do all the diagnostic charms you need," he said to Olympe, and she immediately began to do exactly that. After several long minutes, she was sweating heavily and grimacing as if she were in pain.
"Great Gurg, zere is another spell 'ere. I cannot tell you what it is but it is causing me pain and it is very powerful. I do not like ze way it feels, I cannot prove zat ze bracelet is cursed, but I am very afraid zat it is and could harm you."
"The witch is mistaken," Malfoy interjected. "All that she senses are the protections my Master placed on the gift so that no other wizard can dispel the magic on it when you are wearing it."
Again the Gurg looked most thoughtful, but instead of putting it on, he placed the bracelet at his side by the axe and looked expectantly at Harry, who, taking the hint, looked at Hagrid.
The half giant reached into his backpack and pulled out what looked like a palm-sized package of dragon skin that he laid on the ground at the Gurg's feet.
Harry gestured towards it. "May I?" he asked, and Karkus nodded.
Stretching out his arm as much as he could, Harry tapped the small bundle and then leapt nimbly backwards out of the way. It unfolded and enlarged to reveal it was in fact an entire Peruvian Vipertooth's skin and it was covered in a huge pile of fresh dragon meat.
Immediately, all the giants were around the Gurg, begging for some of this magnificent treat. With great condescension, Karkus handed out the food and soon all the giants' hands and faces were covered in greenish dragon blood, and they were frantically licking up every last shred of the delectable flesh.
"Great Gurg," Harry said. "It is known to Albus Dumbledore that giants enjoy dragon's meat for it gives them strength and good health. This skin is magical. You can wear it as a cloak to protect you from the weather and from the weapons of your enemies. See here, there is a clasp to go around your neck and every time the clasp glows, just lay the cloak on the ground and another full load of dragon meat will appear. I can't tell you how often this will be, but the magic is linked to three different dragon preserves and whenever they have a death, you and your people will be the first to receive the meat of the dead dragon, so you should expect to have this gift at least three or four times a year to help nourish and strengthen your people. Also, if ever you or your people are starving, simply press the clasp and say Albus Dumbledore's name, then lay the cloak flat and you will be sent food, although it will not be dragon meat. Albus Dumbledore knows that it is not easy, especially during winter, for your people to hunt enough food and while he does not wish for you to become dependant on him, he sends this gift for emergencies or if any of your people are suffering or their young are hungry. We wish for you, your people and your children to have enough food to survive."
The Gurg looked at the bloodied skin and slowly ran his hands over it. He didn't say anything, but he flung the skin over his shoulder and connected the clasp at his throat.
At this, Lucius Malfoy snarled softly, and if looks could have killed, Harry knew he and his companions would be lying lifeless on the gritty sand.
With all the giants talking among themselves and licking up the last of the dragon meat and blood, Harry took the opportunity to talk the Malfoy Patriarch. "So, Luscious, just between the two of us, what other spells were on the bracelet? I'm betting Imperio." Whilst his comment had been facetious, at the sudden lack of expression on Malfoy's face, Harry realized his off-the-cuff comment had been far more accurate than he'd expected.
"Really?" Harry managed to keep the volume down in spite of his surprise. "But Lucy, you can't Imperio a giant. It's the way their brains are wired. Imperio only works on humans. Even I know that!"
Malfoy snarled, spit flecking his chin. "I swear one day Potter…."
"I imagine you swear every day Luscious!"
Malfoy lurched towards his tormentor but abruptly realized he had lost traction as Hagrid picked him up by the scruff of the neck and held him a good six inches off the ground.
"Now, now, Lusc-I-mean-Mr. Malfoy, no need t' be gettin' all physical," the half giant said with a far too friendly smile, then slammed him back down next to McNair, hard enough to make Malfoy's knees buckle. Both Death Eaters were clearly imagining all the horrible and painful things they would like to do to Harry and his companions, even as the Gurg managed to get all of his people settled and silent once again.
"What more did you bring me?" He said addressing his visitors.
With a graceful gesture to the two Death Eaters, Harry grinned. "Please, shit before shovel."
Behind him, Olympe made a very strange choking noise and Hagrid had a coughing fit.
With a curl of his lip, Lucius gestured peremptorily at McNair who drew what looked like a tiny pot out of his robes and placed it on the ground, then tapped it with his wand. It expanded into a huge three-legged, black iron cooking pot with a handle and a long metal spit standing up inside it like a spoon.
"This," Malfoy said proudly, "is Lord Voldemort's reconstruction of the Cauldron of Cerridiwen. All food cooked in it will be magically enhanced to make your people stronger and to help them fight even more brilliantly than they would normally do. Lord Voldemort wishes for you to be strong and to join him, bringing with you this gift so that you may eat and celebrate the victories that you will have in battle."
"So," Harry interjected, his clear young voice cutting through the muttering of the giants. "What you're basically saying is food cooked in there will make the giants stronger and more aggressive and more likely to fight? Giving it to them here means they are more likely to fight among themselves and kill each other. Why would you do that unless you hope they will cull themselves down to a small number that will then join Voldemort to fight Albus Dumbledore and me? I'll bet old Moldy Shorts will make sure however many giants come to serve him, none of them will survive the experience. We have a much better gift for you great Gurg, for you and your people."
From inside his backpack, he bought out a leather flask that had a metal band around its middle engraved with runes. As he placed it on the ground, it grew to the size of a large wine skin. "This contains a potion brewed by Albus Dumbledore himself," Harry said, "from a recipe written by Nicholas Flammel. It's a bottomless flask connected magically to a supply of the potion. It's to help you and your people control your anger while you live close together and to help you have young ones more often and more easily. It's our hope that with this potion, the race of giants will not cease to exist and you will have more young ones. Your people need only to have one mouthful a day from the flask while you all live so close together, when it's easy for any of you to loose your tempers or to fight among yourselves. The potion will only help you to calm down, it will not control you, I swear this on my life and magic. The female giants need only to take one mouthful a year to be more fertile, should they wish to bear children. If they do not, then they simply do not have to drink it. We do not wish the giants any harm; we do not want them to go to war either, for us or for the Dark Lord. We want the giants to not be involved with Wizard kind but rather to have their own lives, to have young and to live free in the mountains and forests as they wish. We ask only they stay away from Muggles, that is all Albus Dumbledore wants of you, if you are willing." With that, Harry stepped back and gestured to Lucius. "There you go, have your say and we'll let the Gurg decide."
"Lord Voldemort," Lucius began, "wishes to offer the giants a chance to do battle, to be what they are meant to be! All of this talk of young and not wanting you to fight for them is a lie. What they really want is to make sure that you do not fight for us. They are weak and deserve to be trampled beneath your feet as Lord Voldemort leads you and the rest of his army to victory. When he rules the Wizarding world, he will make sure that those of you who are left will be treated with all the respect you deserve, and will be dealt with according to how you have served him."
"Oh that's just great," Harry broke in. "Karkus, did you notice how he said 'those of you that survive'? Look at the gifts he's given you. There's that huge axe most of the other giants would want, so owning it and being the new Gurg will be on every other giants' mind, leading to more of you killing each other. Then there's that bracelet which has some sort of curse on it so we don't even know what that could do to you. And a corrupted Cauldron of Cerridiwen that makes food that makes you more angry and more violent? If you accept his gifts, by the time he calls you to join his army, there will probably be maybe six of you or less left, and who will be the first targets our side would be forced to attack? The giants. If you accept his gifts, you are dooming your people and then the magical world will never again know the presence of the Children of Stone."
Many of the giants appeared to be thinking about what Harry had said as their faces were all twisted up and their brows furrowed. The Gurg, meanwhile, looked extremely thoughtful, his eyes flicking from Harry to Lucius and back again. He looked at the gifts and slowly shook his head.
"As Gurg of all the giants, I must think of what is good for all my people. Going into battle against wizards would be wonderful…" and at this, Lucius Malfoy strutted forward and Harry felt a twinge of concern. "…but," the Gurg continued, "what Harry Potter says about us dying is a bad thing."
He looked around at all the other giants. "It is not good that we are all here in this valley. We are not a race that likes to be so close; usually we only come together to mate or to fight over territory. Living like this is not our way. Already two hands' full of giants have died in the moon we have been here, we cannot all be together and not fight. If Harry Potter's gifts help keep us fed and calm and help our females have young, so the giant race will not die out here, then that is a good thing. Albus Dumbledore does not ask us to fight for his wizards against the Dark One, he asks only that we live, have young and be free. Why would I make my people fight and die for wizards who hate us when other wizards want us to be free? I do not accept your gifts, little black wizards, I do not accept what your Dark One wants, I do not accept the death of all my people. I will do as Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter ask. I will give my people this potion and our females if they want it, and then we will all return to our home ranges. I will not be a weapon in the hands of wizards, so leave or I will kill you."
At this, Hagrid and Olympe grabbed Harry and practically hugged the stuffing out of him, all three of them grinning like fools. Harry barely managed to stay upright when they put him down as Hagrid patted him on the back, which almost put the slender teen flat on his face. Even as he staggered forward, a glimpse of movement caught his eye and, horrified, he saw Malfoy and McNair whip out their wands and point them at the Gurg's massive chest.
"CAEDO CILICIS VIR!" The two Death Eaters bellowed in unison.
Harry was moving even before his mind had fully comprehended what was happening. "NO!" he screamed, and with that, he leapt up onto the Gurg's ankle and, just as he had when being chased by Dudley and his gang, he managed to Apparate himself right in front of the Gurg's chest, simultaneously casting the strongest Protego spell he could manage.
The glimmering shield of magical blue energy snapped up in front of him even as the sickly gray beams of the Death Eaters' spells struck it. The shield rippled then exploded in a shower of sparks, deflecting the majority of the spells, but the trailing end struck Harry and hurled him back against the Gurg's body like a broken doll.
The muffled sound of bones breaking was horrifying, and both Hagrid and Olympe cried out in fear and agony, running towards the Gurg to try and catch Harry as he fell.
Distraught as she was, Olympe still managed to fire several stunners, petrification jinxes and binding spells at the two Death Eaters who, having been very drained by the powerful magic they'd cast, were not as nimble on their feet as usual - and both went down in a heap.
Before either of the half giants could reach Harry, the Gurg simply cupped his hand and gently caught the boy's tumbling body, holding him as carefully as he would a soap bubble. Seeing this, Hagrid barely managed to avoid plowing into the Gurg's legs and Olympe, who was to his left, glanced up to see the hairy red giant behind Karkus reaching stealthily for the axe lying on the ground beside the Gurg.
"LOOK OUT!" She screamed, and Karkus whipped around far faster than anyone of his size or bulk should have been able to, Harry clasped protectively to his chest, and in one smooth move, he picked up a boulder bigger than Hagrid and with deadly precision, hurled it, striking the red-haired giant right between the eyes.
He went down like a pole-axed ox, and the Gurg grunted in satisfaction. He turned back to the two half giants and lowered the hand in which he held Harry.
"Oh Merlin," Hagrid groaned, seeing how terribly hurt the boy was. The spell which had clearly been designed to kill a giant had not pierced through Harry, but it had smashed into him and then hurled him with great force against what amounted to a rock face, shattering his arms and legs, most of his ribs and probably his back. Hagrid wasn't even certain he was still breathing. The Gurg snarled something at all the other giants who backed away, leaving him, the gifts, the two paralyzed Death Eaters and the two half giants alone.
"Harry Potter saved me," Karkus rumbled, "now I shall save him," and before either Hagrid or Olympe could say or do anything, Karkus, still holding Harry Potter protectively against his breast, sank into the earth as if it were water, the two half giants left standing and staring in horror as the rocky soil closed over the giant's head.
Harry was floating. The pain had been all consuming but was now a distant ache, and he felt as if he were being cocooned with warmth all over, a gentle pressure on every square inch of his body, comforting rather than confining. He remembered clearly what had happened up until the point where the spells had impacted his shield…then the world had exploded.
All around him he had a sense of a Presence, an Awareness that was both part of him and separate, that knew him, that recognized all he was and could potentially be, that assessed him yet did not judge him. Whatever this Presence was, It was ancient and immense.
Even as he registered all of this, Harry felt himself being carefully moved through wherever he was, and within moments, he found himself drifting into what he could only describe as an artery of magic. Pure glittering power flowed through and over him, healing his injuries, then moving beyond them to infuse his entire body. He could feel it in his eyes, in his muscles and bones, in his scars and finally, flowing through his magical core.
It was the most remarkable feeling.
As he floated in the current, he had flashes of his life pass before his minds' eye - all the times he had faced Voldemort or his Death Eaters, the cruelty of the Dursleys and Snape, the love and support of his friends and his godfather and then flashes of what he somehow knew was the future. A short toad-like woman in pink, Dementors in what he knew was part of Little Whinging, Grimmauld Place, strange dreams that were in fact carefully placed visions, an echoing chamber with a dais in the centre with an archway and veil, Sirius's laughing face, Bellatrix and Voldemort near the Fountain of Magical Brethren in the Ministry of Magic….
Harry realized that wherever he was, it was allowing him to catch glimpses of the future, if only he could put them together and understand what they meant. He knew he would need to speak with Hermione and oddly enough, Luna Lovegood…whoever that was.
His inner vision then shifted to show him where he was. He was in a leyline, and as his minds' eye floated above the earth he could see these lines stretching in all directions, crossing and creating nodes, he could see how seven leylines met beneath Hogwarts, five beneath Beauxbatons and he understood that these were what gave the schools their great pools of magical energy.
He could see Little Hangleton and how the land and lines there were sick and twisted things, deformed by Voldemort's very presence, and he began to understand something of the nature of the spells and rituals the Dark Lord had performed upon himself and he began to understand how he could undo these things.
In that moment Harry realized what he was being given was, in fact, the power the Dark Lord knew not. As he realized this, he felt a wave of love and pride and respect and he realized what he was sensing was the Earth Herself. Voldemort was so unnatural, so much an abomination that he was an offense to Nature and Life, and he, Harry, was being granted this knowledge so as to expunge Voldemort's unnaturalness from the face of the earth.
As all of this passed through his mind, Harry again felt himself moving, and he blinked frantically as brilliant light assaulted his eyes as once more in the Gurg's hand, they rose up out of the earth in front of a still panicking Hagrid who was being restrained by Olympe from trying to dig down after them with his bare hands.
The Gurg carefully slid Harry onto the ground in front of his friends, who were amazed to see not only was he completely healed, he had grown a good six inches, his glasses had disappeared and he had gained a remarkable amount of muscle mass, so instead of the scrawny undernourished boy he'd been, he now looked like a healthy robust sixteen year old athlete.
"Mon Dieu, 'Arry!" Olympe exclaimed. "Look at you! You are so grown and so 'andsome, what 'appened?" Her piercing gaze shifted to the Gurg. "What did you do to 'im?" She demanded, while Harry tried to fend off Hagrid who appeared to want to check each and every limb and every nook and cranny of his person, much as he would one of his creatures, had they been injured.
Karkus smiled, a not altogether prepossessing sight. "I am the Gurg of my people, I am closest to the Mother, I can take myself into Her Heart for healing. Harry Potter saved me, so I saved him."
Olympe wasn't entirely sure she understood, but had no intention of looking a gift giant in the mouth. "You 'ave our deepest thanks," she said, but the Gurg waved away her comments, instead turning to look down at the two Death Eaters, his expression thoughtful.
The other giants were all slowly returning to see what was happening, and with a few barked orders, two males and two females trotted off to the caves and came back with various foods, including a couple of large deer, which they proceeded to peel like oranges and rip up into chunks, which at Karkus' direction, were dropped into the Cauldron, along with a large skinful of water and numerous vegetables.
As a final part of the stew, Karkus picked Walden McNair up with his thumb and forefinger, pulled off all his clothes and proceeded to tear the paralyzed Death Eater apart like a wish bone, before dropping the dripping segments into the Cauldron.
Needless to say, this revolted Harry and his friends and they all winced as they thought Karkus was about to put the stew over the Gulbraithian fire. Before he did that however, he turned his attention to Lucius Malfoy, carefully picked him up and repeated the undressing process, then, taking up the iron spit that had come with the Cauldron, he impaled Lucius with it, before placing the feebly wriggling and screaming man directly into the fire.
Feeling rather sick, Harry watched this then looked up at the Gurg as he cleared his throat, a sound not dissimilar to a small avalanche. "You are a friend of giants Harry Potter, and as soon as I and my people have eaten and drunk of your potion, we shall all return to our home ranges. In the next few years, many of our females will bear young and the race of giants will not die out. Tell Albus Dumbledore that none of us shall go to war. We shall not be the tools of wizards. Thank you for our gifts, but it is time for you to leave."
With that, he turned, picked up the spit, prodded Malfoy's corpse to see if it was done, then turned it over and placed it back in the fire. Clearly, he was not as cooked as the Gurg liked.
Olympe pulled a hairpin out of her hair, touched it with her wand and murmured "Portus" then held it out for Hagrid and Harry to touch.
As the hook behind his navel pulled Harry away, the last sight he had of the giants was of Karkus taking up the spit and chewing on its contents whilst placing the Cauldron over the fire.