Shadow Trolls 1/2
By Raven Dancer
disclaimer: All characters belong to J.K. Rowling except for the Drs. Barnes. I receive no monetary compensation for these works.
Note: This is for HLB, whose tireless work beta'ing my writing and her constant support can't be praised enough. HLB, you are a treasure and I'm glad we found one another in this crazy internet land.
Summary: Another field trip goes awry.
Hagrid smiled as the fifth year class assembled in front of his hut. What a wonderful treat he had for them! A trip into the Forbidden Forest to the marshy land about a mile west of the edge! The Headmaster himself had suggested teaching them about magical creatures through practical experience.
So with Dumbledore's help he'd designed the current task: to collect a wild grindlylow. Neither honestly expected the students would actually catch a grindlylow, much less see one. But the well monitored excursion into the edge of the forest was the actual point to the exercise.
Professor Hootch was on standby, her riding classes had moved to the large field near the point of Hagrid's departure. In addition, McGonagall and Flitwick were aware of the trip and were poised to leave on a moment's notice. Snape was out of the picture, since he was currently ensconced in the Headmaster's quarters recuperating from some accident he'd had over the previous weekend.
Not that any of the precautions were actually necessary. Hagrid had already brought the sixth year classes into the forest the week before without a problem. One group had actually found an abandoned grindlylow nest, but there were no sightings beyond that. Better, both groups had seen Firenze (who'd been just as curious about the students) and had identified a variety of wild magical plants.
Hagrid had been careful not to allow any gathering of said plants; Snape had alerted him to the dangers of collecting without proper equipment. The Groundskeeper himself had collected a lovely specimen of althenas for the Potions Master on the second trip in and received a genuine thank you'. It was rare herb and even dried held its healing properties.
Looking over the students, a mix of Slytherins and Gryffindors, Hagrid gained their attention and handed out a couple cages, nets, knapsacks of useful stuff and water skins.
We're goin' in together. No strayin' off the path or from
the group. You all have looked at the map from last week? he asked with an appraising tone. A few guilty looks, and Hermione's broad smile. He grinned back at the eager girl.
Good. We'll stick to the main path to the marshes then.
Keep up. Fang! Hagrid called his boarhound.
With a nod Hermione took lead. She'd studied the map from class as well and some from the library as well. Harry and Ron stayed close to her and the rest of the class followed, somewhat spread out, with Hagrid prodding the stragglers.
Isn't this exciting?! Hermione grinned at her friends.
Right, nipping into the Forbidden Forest is always top
on my list! Ron retorted. Harry laughed.
Oh, we've been over this! Nothing is going to happen.
We're so loud those grindlylows will be well hidden before
we're within a quarter mile of them! I doubt we'll even see
any common rabbits with the noise we're making! Harry observed. It was true. The students were chatting behind them. They'd been in the forest with Professor Snape once, although that was to a different part of the forest. This route had more trees, but it was a sunny afternoon with a clearly marked path.
Well, this is rather bor-ring! drawled a voice behind them. Turning slightly Harry noted Draco Malfoy and his little group. Setting his mind on he kept on with his friends.
Draco was not happy going unanswered. He nudged Crabbe and continued on the path.
Pretty tame stuff, popping down to the marsh, Draco said.
Yeah, pretty stupid stuff if you ask me, piped up Crabbe.
I hear the 6th years saw Firenze, Harry offered to Ron, who was tensing up with the Slytherins so close behind.
Hermione jumped in, he came down and talked with
both groups. I'd love to see him!
Phaw! Overgrown horse, Goyle scoffed. This drew an angry glare from Ron before Harry could pull him back.
Just ignore em, Ron, whispered Hermione over and over in a continuous litany. This worked most of the way over the path. When they came to a series of rocky outcroppings both groups quieted instantly.
Draco pointed out with some excitement. I saw
them marked on the map. I expect something must be
living in them!
Oh, right, Malfoy, Ron scoffed, although both he and Malfoy had used very soft voices.
It's a well known fact many creatures live in caves, Draco retorted. Then a sly grin crossed his face and he began to whisper to his comrades, ignoring the Gryffindors ahead of him.
The rest of the way to the marsh was more pleasant; Draco's group had fallen back behind most of the class. They easily found the nest the 6th years had discovered and continued along the swampy ground poking a bit into clumps of reeds. They weren't allowed to go any further into the marsh than the clearly marked edges.
Hermione had stopped to pull out her map and share it with several people, pointing out the edge of the marsh and the surrounding area. Harry noted the rocky caves and how the land fell off just beyond them.
That doesn't look very safe, Ron commented, it looks
like it falls off right sharp. Hagrid moved in behind them and glanced at the map.
It does. Land drops off real sudden. Lots of broken ground
and a couple of pits. I had a bad fall there once, he said.
Lucky for me Snape and that Healer Barnes found me. Let
that be a lesson ta ya! Even someone like me can get inta a
heap of trouble right quick! Hagrid moved on to the edge and looked over the abandoned nest.
I think I'd like a look around there, Draco commented just loud enough for the students to hear.
I doubt it could be very dangerous. That lunk could get
in trouble tying his boots, he smirked.
Oy, you leave off! If Hagrid says it's dangerous, then it's
bloody well dangerous. Not somewhere you should be
wandering, Malfoy! Ron snapped angrily.
Oh, right. Weasel is afraid. Figures! Draco and his cronies laughed derisively. You just stay here where it's nice and
safe, Weasley. Let the real wizards go have a look about. He turned and wandered back down the path. Harry grabbed Ron's shoulder.
Let them go, Ron. They aren't going to stray, they just
want to piss you off, he explained. Ron twitched out of his grasp, but didn't leave.
Yeah. I know. But it does tick me! Saying those things
about Hagrid and all, Ron grumbled, irritably.
The group continued along the edge of the marshes as the afternoon passed. As they finally turned back to the path leading to the castle, a centaur stepped out of the woods and moved to Hagrid. It was not Firenze. This centaur was older, a greybearded creature who's flanks were flecked with white.
Hail, Hagrid, the centaur called. Hagrid looked up and did a double take.
Chiron! I haven't seen ya in a long time! I, I am honored, and to the surprise of the students Hagrid bowed as low as he was able.
Well met, Hagrid of Hogwarts. I must hasten you on your
way. It is not safe here, Chiron said. He rested a back leg and twitched his tail, agitated.
Why? I have been here several times in the past week, Hagrid began. Chiron held up his hand.
I am sorry to be hasty, but there is danger nearby. Several
shadow trolls have been hunting in the area and are now
hidden in the broken land. You have just enough light to
get back safely enough. I will go first, the old creature nodded and turned slightly.
Are you sure, Chiron? Fang and me can go first, Hagrid offered, but the centaur shook his head. He moved ahead and waved the students to follow. They moved down the path toward school.
After a few nerve-wracking minutes they passed by the rocky outcroppings. Already shadows were gathering in all the nooks in the haphazard piles. Just beyond, the ground fell off. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as they moved back into the brighter, lightly wooded land.
Hey, do you see Malfoy? Ron ask sharply. Both Hermione and Harry started to look at all the students.
No, and I don't see Crabbe or Goyle, either, said Harry.
Were they there when Chiron came? Hermione asked uncomfortably. Neither boy could recall seeing any of them since before that time.
They were talking about investigating the land beyond
the rocks, Ron said carefully. Harry glanced at his friend.
Oh, no, you two aren't going back! Hermione began.
Just to the rocks, that's all, Harry said.
Not beyond. We'll just go to the rocks and call, Ron added hastily.
Grudgingly Hermione agreed and the trio dropped back, easily avoiding Hagrid and Fang. They moved quickly through the deepening shadows and made it to the rocky piles within minutes.
HEY! MALFOY! Ron called.
CRABBE? GOYLE! Harry yelled. Moving nearer they heard snickering.
Well, well, the baby Gryffindors do have some courage, Draco move out from behind one large outcropping with a sneer.
Malfoy, a centaur came and warned us to leave the forest
before the sun set, Harry began in an aggravated tone. Draco's grin widened.
Oooh, a centaur came! How impressive, Potter. There's
nothing here but a couple rocks, Draco sneered.
Look, Chiron said something about shadow trolls and, Hermione started but didn't finish because that did get a reaction from Draco.
Shadow trolls? Draco asked, his nervousness genuine.
What did he say?
Something about shadow trolls hunting nearby, Ron said.
What? Are you scared, Malfoy, the red head added derisively.
Damn you Weasley, have you no sense? Think back, don't
you know anything about shadow trolls? Malfoy licked his lips and looked around.
Not really, Ron said, except something about shadows and
not needing night.
GOYLE! CRABBE! COME NOW! Draco yelled. In the distance they saw the two boys lumber out of hiding and begin to move towards them.
Shadow trolls don't need full night; they hunt in the shadow
time: evening and near dawn. They are disgusting cr... Draco said, but his voice cut off.
Ron asked, turning he saw something moving and it wasn't Crabbe or Goyle.
hissed Malfoy. Just run!
They took off at a sprint, scrabbling and slipping over loose dirt and rock. They were slightly off the path and when a large shadow moved near them on the path they bolted further into the forest.
Hagrid was counting heads as they neared the edge of the forest. He was coming up short when Malfoy burst from the trees onto the path, shaken and out of breath.
What, what's got you in such a lather, Mr. Malfoy? Hagrid asked quickly as Crabbe and Goyle plowed their way out and stood quivering against the half-giant.
T-trolls. Ch-chased us. Potter stopped to help Granger, Malfoy managed to get out. Hagrid's face twisted, but he did not panic.
Get on to the castle. Get Dumbledore, NOW! Crabbe, go
on and get Professor Hooch. Tell her I need help now! Get
on with ya! Goyle, Longbottom, Hagrid saw the frightened Gryffindor listening intently,
Get the class back to the castle and count off. If any more
are missin' tell a teacher and send em out quick! RUN!
The four boys headed off at a the run, the class not far behind. Chiron had already melted into the forest several moments earlier, unaware of the disaster in the making. Hagrid whistled to Fang and sprinted back into the forest.
Draco made it to the Headmaster's rooms in record time. His father had been to see the Headmaster recently and had told draco the password. He tumbled into the office area and looked around.
Headmaster? Headmaster?! he called frantically. There was movement on the couch. Professor Snape slowly stood up from where he'd been resting and looked at the frightened student.
Mr. Malfoy? he asked stifling a yawn.
Professor! Hagrid needs help! Shadow trolls in the forest, Draco managed to get out, his words tumbling over one another. Snape rested two hands on the student's shoulders.
Slow down, Draco. What about trolls in the forest? Snape waited as Malfoy collected himself.
There are shadow trolls hunting in the Forbidden Forest
near the marshlands in the rocky area where Hagrid got
hurt awhile back. He said you and Barnes found him, Draco got out.
I didn't know about the trolls. I just wanted to get Potter to
come back to the piles and scare him. Then they told us
about the shadow trolls and I, I panicked a little and
we ran and Granger fell and they're lost in the forest
and the shadow trolls will get them!
This was more than Snape could manage in one go. Malfoy was worried about Potter and his friends being captured by trolls? He was admitting he'd unwittingly lured them into danger? He stared at the boy a moment and realized his fear of the shadow trolls was greater than his hatred for the Gryffindors. Snape would definitely need to talk this out with Draco later!
Sir, Hagrid needs help! He sent me for Dumbledore! Draco tugged urgently on the professor's sleeve.
Right. Dumbledore is down with Professor McGonagall in
her office. Get him. Tell him I've gone on ahead to help, Snape turned and called his wand to him. Draco's mouth dropped.
How'd you do that??! he gasped.
No time. GO! Get the Headmaster! and he shoved Draco down the stairs ahead of him as he scrambled to get out of the tower.
The Potions Master ran the entire length of the grassy field to the edge of the forest. As soon as he stumbled past the border of the school he apparated to a point near the marsh. He knew the area well from gathering plants. He did not like the idea of meeting up with shadow trolls at all, but he had his wand and an arsenal of spells to protect him. Hagrid only had Fang.
Being quiet was not an option. In any event, shadow trolls hunted more by scent than sight or sound.
the wizard yelled into the gathering gloom.
He started up the path toward the rocks.
Rounding a particularly large pile of rock, he heard screams. Blast! Snape moved quicker. Soon he was scrabbling through loose shale near the broken land where Hagrid had fallen. Ahead of him he saw several people.
And trolls. At least three. They were pulling a large something, or someone, along the ground while the screaming people were yelling and attempting to throw curses with their wands. Nothing a student, even the infamous Potter, could throw would hurt a single shadow troll enough. Three would be impossible.
Snape roared, casting a hot, white light over the hollow where the students clustered. The trolls screeched and dropped Hagrid as they scrambled away from the burning light. The Potions Master moved right over Hagrid.
Potter, Granger, Weasley! Come here into the light, NOW! Snape's voice was commanding and the three students came swiftly, clinging to both him and Hagrid. A low moan from the groundskeeper assured Snape he would be all right.
Anyone else out here? Snape asked holding the wand aloft, the light's brilliance destroying the shadows.
No sir, I don't think so. Malfoy went on ahead with Crabbe
and Goyle, Harry began.
They're safe, Professor, groaned Hagrid, trying to sit up.
They made it out. Fang? a whine was heard as the boarhound crawled to his master.
Snarling on the edge of the light's perimeter startled all of them.
Don't panic! Don't leave the light! Snape hissed.
Shadow trolls will stay out of the light. We'll just wait
until the Headmaster gets here and then we can walk
Why don't we just go now? Ron asked, clutching on to Snape's robes.
Because I can't do it by myself. Hagrid is hurt and there
are too many of us to cover with light. We'll be just fine
here, Weasley. Albus will see the light, in his fear Snape slipped and called the Headmaster by name.
The snarling increased; the light had drawn more trolls. Perhaps a half-dozen had been hunting in a loose pack. Fresh meat so close yet out of reach was tantalizing and frustrating.
Hermione and Harry worked on getting Hagrid to sit up. He'd been knocked on the head and was rather woozy. Ron stayed up against Snape watching the shadows. The light remained bright, neither increasing or diminishing. The boy was getting more and more frightened by the noise and movements in the brush. He slowly edged out his wand until it was in his hand and ready. Snape looked down.
Weasley, no! Don't! the wizard warned. Too late. Ron whipped his wand down.
he yelled. His wand, old and cracked, misfired and the spell hit Snape square in the ribs, throwing him back several yards. His wand dropped, still lit, next to Hermione who snatched it up immediately and held it aloft. Snarls and growls increased as they watched something grab at the Potions Master. Hermione made a motion as to cast another spell.
Snape yelled, KEEP THE LIGHT! STAY IN THE
LIGHT! and he was jerked into the inky shadows.
screamed Harry and Hermione together, clinging to one another now as Ron fell, mute, to his knees. Hagrid covered his face.
Tense minutes passed and finally the entire area was bathed in a brighter light as four brooms descended on them, the riders all bearing lighted wands.
Dumbledore. Of course. With him were Hootch, McGonagall and Flitwick. All four adults came forward. Hootch and Flitwick kept upright watching the bushes as Dumbledore and McGonagall bent to see to the frightened group. The snarling had moved a short distance away.
They got Professor Snape! Harry managed to get out, pointing to the drop off beyond and the sound of growls. Without a word Dumbledore strode toward the area where Harry had pointed and out of sight. Howls of pain broke out then screams. But whether they were human or troll could not be told.
Suddenly there was a flash of light that seemed brighter than the sun itself and dead silence. No growls. No snarls. No screams. Long minutes passed. All eyes were glued on the spot where both the professor and headmaster had disappeared. The light dimmed but did not go out.
A rustling of leaves alerted them that someone returning. The students pulled closer to the adults. They might may be safe in the light, but standing with protective arms over their shoulders and the warmth from a bigger body felt much better. Branches were pushed aside and Dumbledore stepped into the light.
The Headmaster had shed his outer cloak; having wrapped it around the person he was carrying. He moved quickly into the light and put his burden down, kneeling next to it.
Minerva, take the children back to the school. I need to
bring Severus to the clinic in Hogsmeade, Dumbledore said gravely. He kept Snape completely covered.
Is he... McGonagall started, but the Headmaster shook his head.
I don't know. Get the students back, Minerva, Dumbledore pulled Snape onto his lap and apparated.
With four brooms between them the four adults and three children headed back to the castle. Hagrid took Dumbledore's broom and grabbed Fang while the students climbed behind the other professors.
Silent, they all moved into the castle and up to the Headmaster's offices. McGonagall listened carefully as each child told their story until she was satisfied. She sent them off to dinner and conferred briefly with her colleagues. It was straightforward enough. Points would be taken and detentions given.
With heavy hearts they went down to the Great Hall to wait for news from Hogsmeade.
Shadow trolls were a peculiar lot. They hunted in packs of three to ten, never alone. They did not rip into their prey, but followed an elaborate ritual that was embedded in their genes.
First they smelled their prey (be it alive or dead, although they preferred it alive). Then they ripped off the fur (or clothing) and smelled it again. Then they usually licked off the sweat to taste the salt. Then the let their meal sit a bit before tearing pieces off to eat.
It was not a pleasant process for the prey.
The shadow trolls that grabbed Snape were hungry and frustrated. They'd sniffed him over quickly and were in the process of sampling the salt on his skin when Dumbledore arrived. They were loathe to give up their hard-won meal; but when the Headmaster had revealed the power within him all the trolls froze in the light. The howling ceased, cut off when throats turned to stone. Then it was simply a matter of pulling Snape from out of the statues' grasp and neutralizing the acidic slobber on his skin.
The Potions Master, having decided he was dead: he had choosing the nothingness of unconsciousness over the pain that was sure to follow. He was bruised and some bones were broken from the rough treatment. Dumbledore wondered if the shock had broken the spirit as well.
They apparated directly inside the clinic; rather risky but this was an emergency. He'd surprised the admitting nurse who recovered quickly and wasted no time pulling Jeffrey Barnes from the back. Snape was placed in a tub of treated warm water immediately as both Healer and Headmaster worked over him.
Dumbledore explained what had happened with the six trolls. He did not know how Snape came to be snatched away; that would be for later. Once Snape was thoroughly cleaned and rinsed but still floating in the tub, Barnes scanned him, calling out injuries to his father who had joined them. The elder Barnes assembled the potions needed to heal the broken bones and damaged tissue.
Potions were mixed and then teased down the unconscious man's throat. Once that was done he was levitated and carefully wrapped; shattered arm and shoulder bound tight, ribs strapped. Then the entire body was swathed in warm blankets. Finally, Jeffrey took him finally and sat in a lounge carefully holding him close. After the trolls Snape would need a lot of comfort.
The Healers and the Headmaster looked at one another.
He needs to be in a safe place, the elder Healer started.
Preferably with lots of light, Jeffrey hastened to add.
Can he be moved? Dumbledore asked. Both Healers made a quick visual appraisal.
In eight hours, when the potions have worked on his
physical injuries, Jeffrey decided.
He'll be kept asleep for at least 12, though. Needs to
heal and then be woken carefully, James added.
I will return to Hogwarts and open the floo? Dumbledore offered. Again the considering looks.
No, we will bring him by carriage. The floo would be too
jarring. We can float the carriage, Jeffrey said.
Should I stay? Dumbledore asked, gently running his hand over Snape's lax face.
If you want, but he won't be awake any time soon. It might
be better if you went back to Hogwarts and slept. We'll
bring him over in the morning, James said as he began cleaning up litter and putting away stray ingredients.
Albus, Severus is going to need you when we wake him, Jeffrey added.
He's going to be very upset. Waking up and expecting
to be ripped apart is not pleasant under any circumstance.
Dumbledore hesitated. He wanted to stay and be the one to hold Snape while he slept. But he knew the Healers would trade off throughout the night to accelerate the healing process with their own energy pulses. Really, then, it would be best to go back and talk with his staff. They needed to know Snape was alive and he needed to know exactly how the trolls managed to get him.
Light by itself was all that was needed to keep shadow trolls at bay. He could not figure out how Snape fell out of the circle. Surely he wasn't trying to fight all of them himself? That would be supremely stupid and Dumbledore just couldn't accept the Potions Master would have done that!
If anything Snape would have attempted to walk the group out. That was the simplest thing to do. The Headmaster stopped in mid thought. Trying to guess the reasons without facts would only confuse him more.
I'll go back. I can at least find out how the trolls got
him in the first place, Dumbledore said as he leaned over and gently kissed Snape's temple.
Sleep and be well, child, the Headmaster murmured.
I will be ready for you in the morning, he said to the Healers.
Look for us around 8:30 or 9 then, James replied and offered a clean cloak for the walk back.