The last chapter ended up being rather big, so I thought I'd split it into two. But what a surprise, hey? No update for over a year, and then suddenly two in fairly quick succession. Just a warning though; that doesn't bode particularly well for the next one. But I'm kind of losing inspiration – I don't really want to churn out the books all over again, even if there are different characters at the forefront of the plot. Any ideas for that? So, yeah, just a warning.
Hope you enjoy this chapter!
Since Harry's chat with the Headmaster, a couple of months had passed. Nothing especially extraordinary had happened; well, nothing out of the ordinary for a school of magic. Exams were coming up, resulting in every year buckling down to study a little more, and what's more, if you were friends with Hermione, you had the chance to study a lot more. Such fun, eh?
It was also something of a shock when Harry suddenly awoke from his deep sleep to find a small goblin standing by his bed when he hadn't heard from said goblin in a couple of months.
"Blargle!" Harry yelped as he jerked upright, torn from his sleep, and automatically reached for his wand. "What in the Underground are you doing here?"
The goblin barely noticed the wand inches away from his eye, but started to talk quickly; "Turban-man has gone past the door and sent big doggie to sleepy-byes, and then disappeared into the floor!"
Blargle even widened his eyes for extra dramatic effect, which was unfortunately not very appreciated by his audience.
Harry groaned. Professor Quirrel just had to pick...he glanced at his clock...half 3 in the morning to attack, didn't he. 'What a horrible person. What kind of person could be quite so evil?,' Harry thought bad-temperedly as he climbed out of bed, and dressed. It was far too early to even contemplate getting up so early, but here he was doing so.
"Right, off to save the world then," Harry said sarcastically. "Cheers for the wake-up call, Blargle." The goblin squeaked, and promptly disappeared back into the shadows. Harry stared at the spot for a moment before setting off to the third floor, grumbling quietly the whole way.
Harry stared for a moment at the snoring mass of Fluffy, before shaking his head and jumping down into the darkness of the trapdoor, landing safely in the Devil's Snare. The key was easy enough to find as it fluttered brokenly about in the next room, and Harry could only stare in disbelief as he looked at the giant chessboard, before shrugging and returning to the key-room to grab a broom that would take him over the chessboard. He landed safely, and glanced back at the undamaged chess board; he did not like the looks of those swords and was really rather glad he'd been able to avoid them.
Stepping through into the next chamber, he recoiled at the smell – it was even worse than the goblins just before they had their monthly wash, and that included having most likely being dunked in the Bog several times! Harry congratulated himself on being able to keep moving despite the smell, but stopped short when he saw what exactly was causing the smell. A troll, much larger than the one he had seen on Halloween, was on the floor, seemingly unconscious. Yep, definitely asleep, Harry decided, as a large snore left the troll's mouth and reverberated around the room. Tip-toeing past the troll, he made his way into the next room, where flames sprung up in the doorway as soon as he had passed through.
Harry looked round, noting the flames in the doorway opposite, and the table with vials of potions placed upon it. A note fluttered in a breeze, and Harry picked it, lips moving as he silently read through the note. A grin slowly took over his face as he realised it was a puzzle. One couldn't grow up in a Labyrinth and not enjoy puzzles! It took only a few minutes for Harry to select the right potion that would allow him to go through the fire unscathed and he quickly downed it, before he stepped through the doorway. He flinched as he felt the cold flames burning around him but came out into a room that strongly resembled a crypt. Candles flickered around the room in the light breeze that Harry was unable to determine the source of. The only furnishings the room had were several tapestries that hung in various places around the room, and a large standing mirror, placed in the centre, along with a turbaned man in front of it, who appeared not to have noticed Harry. This, however, quickly changed as Harry accidentally scuffed his shoe whilst trying to sneak behind a pillar, causing Quirrel to spin around.
"Ah, Potter," Quirrel exclaimed in triumph. "I suppose you wouldn't have thought to find me here! P-p-poor st-stuttering Pr-pr-professor Quirrel."
Harry simply gave him a pitying look. "Quirrel, man, I've been having you followed for the past year. Of course I knew it was going to be you here!"
"Followed?" Quirrel asked confused, before shaking his head and attempting to continue with his obviously rehearsed speech.
"Look, Quirrel," Harry interrupted. "We both know what you're here for, so let's not pretend we don't know. It is far too early for me to be polite, so just hand over the Stone if you have it and I can go back to bed. This is awfully inconsiderate of you, you know, planning evil at such a time."
Quirrel glared. And then an almost unearthly voice echoed around the room. "Let me face him," it whisped, "let me face the impertinent brat."
"But Master," Quirrel whimpered, "you are not yet strong enough. You should save your strength."
"Let me face the boy!" the voice ordered, and Quirrel obeyed it, reaching his shaking hands up to his head and unwinding the turban before turning to face the mirror, thus presenting the back of his head to Harry. As the turban slowly slid off, it produced an almost distant ache in Harry's forehead, but he ignored it, watching as parchment-white skin was revealed, and then gleaming snake-like eyes that watched him intently.
And Harry gulped a little as he met the coal red eyes of the face that belonged to the man who had killed his birth parents, before recovering his bravado (although some would call that stupidity).
"Dude," Harry said sadly, shaking his head, "I'm sorry, but that is not a good look for you. Maybe a nose would help?"
Voldemort simply glared. "You are truly an insolent brat," he whispered with what strength he had. Putting the idea of Voldemort taking lessons from Snape for his, in all honesty, pretty creepy glares and tones that spoke of danger, even when whispering, out of mind, Harry concentrated on the man in front of him whilst his forehead throbbed evermore strongly.
"But no matter," Voldemort continued, smirking. "It is hard to be insolent when you are dead."
Harry paled a little, before flinching as the being in front of him lifted his wand as if to cast, but no spell was fired. Voldemort only laughed cruelly at Harry's reaction. "Such a scared little boy," he mocked. "Indeed, it only leads me to wonder how you were supposed to be able to defeat me. Me, the most powerful of all beings to ever walk in this world."
And then Harry found the courage to speak. "You aren't the most powerful," he said quietly, eyes meeting the being's in front of him.
"Really, boy," Voldemort chuckled darkly. "Dumbledore is but a weak old fool now; he is no match for the great Lord Voldemort!"
"I wasn't talking about him," Harry said, and there was an almost unearthly silence in the pause. "I was talking about the Goblin King." And he appeared, taking in the scene in a moment. The candles flickered, lightning cracked, and Harry was unable to see much for a moment as the candles went out completely before relighting again.
Quirrel was pressed up against the wall, with a furious Goblin King holding him there by the neck. Shadows in the room had lengthened, and even as Harry watched, rubbing his throbbing forehead, the Goblin King's clothes had darkened as his shirt and breeches hardened into armour. The look of fury on Jareth's face was not something Harry ever wanted to see again; the promise of death and destruction were in his eyes, but only after following a large amount of agony. Those who had crossed the Goblin King were usually begging for death within the hour.
"You dare hurt my heir?" he murmured menacingly. "You dare hurt my son?"
Goblins chittered in the shadows as their King spoke of unimaginable agonies, and Quirrel whimpered and flinched with every vivid detail. Voldemort's commands for action against this being were being drowned out by that most powerful of instincts: self-preservation; Quirrel did not particularly want to be killed in those ways, thank you very much.
The back of Quirrel's head was pulsating as the wraith of Lord Voldemort tried to tear itself free, but his own bonds of possession were too strong for him to leave. The Goblin King continued whispering torments into Quirrel's ear, and the images that his words provoked evidently became too much for the Defence Professor, who rolled up his eyes and collapsed in a faint. Jareth stepped back in disgust upon seeing the pulsating face on the back of Quirrel's head, that attempted to shout threats at him, but due to the state of its host, was unable to do anything more than whisper.
It was easy for Jareth to realise that this was the result of a particularly strong spell of possession and that the poor bastard currently unconscious on the floor would not be able to get out of it in any live form. However, killing the man would only result in the release of the wraith possessing him and that probably wasn't the best idea. So, what to do… There was always the possibility of transferring the wraith into another body – it was certainly the quickest way of getting out of this place. He grinned nastily; there was a rather annoying goblin he'd wanted to get rid of lately.
"Nimpot!" he called. A rather sullen-looking goblin appeared a few minutes later. "What is Kingy wanting from Nimpot?" he asked sulkily.
"Oh, nothing much, old chap. Just try to hold still for a few minutes," Jareth said gleefully. Sarah didn't approve of him making goblins 'disappear,' but this one was for a good cause! How could she argue with that? Chuckling quietly to himself, Jareth started the ritual that would transfer the possessor of the teacher before him to the goblin. The power it required for such a ritual was more than a normal wizard had, but then, Jareth was no normal being.
"Hold still, there's a good chap," Jareth said pleasantly as the goblin started to wriggle in discomfort; Nimpot growled angrily at the King's order, but couldn't disobey it. A glowing link had started to form between the man and goblin, and Nimpot's end grew gradually brighter as the other end faded. Finally, the other end disappeared entirely and the bright light flickered once before appearing to melt into the goblin.
"Right then," Jareth said, raising himself up to his full height, and darkening the room. "Bog, Nimpot. Until I say you can come back."
The goblin grumbled in anger, but did as his King had ordered and disappeared. The Goblin King looked down at the man on the floor - Quirrel was barely alive. Shallow breaths could be heard, but they were growing ever fainter. He was slowly entering into a coma, where his body would try to repair what damage had been done to him by the possessing spirit. It would never be able to fully repair itself - the damage was far too great, and his magic would exhaust itself.
Jareth sighed, almost sadly. He didn't like killing people, however much the legends said he did, but it would be neccesary. He slowly raised a crystal and spun it slowly towards the body. It hit and a light slowly enveloped the body; when it had covered the whole man, it glowed green once and then faded away, leaving only a body.
He turned away from the body, and went to his son.
"Are you alright Harry?" Jareth asked, with a tone of concern in his voice. His armour was shifting back into the clothes he had previously been wearing; a poet's shirt and his customary leather breeches.
"Yeah," Harry said slowly, leaning into his father for comfort. "Just a bit confused; he said something about me being supposed to defeat him?"
"Well, I really do think we should visit the Headmaster," Jareth said, almost offhandedly, but with a note of evil glee in his voice. "He might have an idea about that, and I'd rather like to have a word with him."
Harry grinned evilly. "I quite agree."
It took only a few moments for Jareth to lift Harry up, supporting him with one arm around his shoulders, and transport the two of them to the Headmaster's office with a shower of glitter.
"Ah, Harry! And the Goblin King…" Dumbledore trailed off. "So nice of you to pay me a visit. Is there anything that brings you here?"
"Good of you to ask, Headmaster as there is actually. It appears that my son was attacked by your Voldethingy this morning. It was masquerading as your Defence Professor, who may also have had a little accident in one of the rooms under your third floor," Jareth replied, his teeth bared in what Dumbledore could only describe as a rather threatening manner, but he was sure Jareth didn't mean for it to come across as such…Right?
"You know, Harry," Jareth casually remarked, "I could have sworn I mentioned something about what would happen if someone ever got into danger to a certain someone in his office." He finished, glaring directly at the Headmaster on his second 'someone'. (Perhaps he did then, Dumbledore thought in the back of his mind).
The Headmaster had never flinched. Maybe a few times when he was facing Grindelwald, and maybe a couple of times when fighting Voldemort, but faced with an angry parent? Never. Although in fairness, most parents didn't quite have the stories behind them that this parent did. Or a goblin army. However, despite all of that, he wasn't exactly gratified to find himself flinching when he faced the glare that the Goblin King was currently sending him.
"I do believe you did, actually," Harry replied gleefully. "Something about bunnies and raspberries...?"
Professor McGonagall was getting rather worried about the Headmaster. He hadn't been seen for three days now, and not even on the Tuesday when his favourite dessert had been served for dinner, and he hadn't missed that in years. She decided she'd go up to his office after dinner though – he had a point when he said the lemon meringue was exquisite.
"Albus?" she called, entering his office. A gleeful cackle echoed around the room, and she drew her wand before seeing a couple of goblins dash past her feet to get out of the office and into the castle. The cackle faded with their disappearance down the stairs, and she sighed in exasperation. Really, that Harry Potter was getting to be as bad as his father with the amount of disturbances he had been responsible for, which included the addition of goblins into the castle.
It was only then that she heard the whimpering, and paling, she hurried around the desk only to find Albus in a ball, sucking his thumb and surrounded by a sea of raspberries.
"Albus, what on earth's the matter?" she asked, confused. "And why are there raspberries all over the place?" Her only answer was a violent flinch, and she sighed, before levitating the Headmaster up off the floor and into his private rooms, where for some odd reason, there were a few rabbits reclining on the bed.
"Harry!" Sarah yelled. "There are owls here for you!" A small pop sounded behind her, and she jumped in surprise, before spinning around to find Harry lounging on the throne, in an oddly familiar pose. "You know Jareth won't be too happy if he catches you on his throne," she warned, before waving her arm in the direction of the owls, which were perched on the rafters, looking warily at the pack of goblins trying to jump and catch them. It was a reasonably well-thought out plan, but the goblins hadn't quite managed to get their heads around how high they would need to jump to actually catch the owls, not appearing to have realised that 25 feet was really rather high.
The owls, noticing the appearance of their target, took flight and circled round the pack of goblins (and Harry could have sworn he saw one of the owls tauntingly stick its tongue out at a goblin, who promptly jumped at it but missed), and swooped down to where Harry was sitting, landing on the arms of the throne. Harry took the first one, and was easily able to ascertain the identity of the writer from the scrawl he saw on his marked Potions' essays. Another two were just as familiar, and the last was vaguely familiar. It looked official, and he tossed it aside before opening Hermione's and Draco's letters.
I just got your letter. Cool owl. Although it looks more like a parrot. Anyway, thank you for the invitation to visit you over the holidays and for including my parents in said invitation. I mentioned it to them at supper, and Mother seemed happy about it, but then Father started shaking in his chair, and Mother spent an hour calming him down. So I'm not too sure if we'll be coming to visit anytime soon. Hey, maybe you can stay with us! I bet Mother would let you have the suite next to mine. I'll go ask her! ... She said yes! Although Father was shaking his head violently, but don't take it personally, Harry, he does that to quite a few people. So, do you want to come over? We could play Quidditch? Father had the Quidditch pitch built for my eighth birthday, so it's still in relatively good condition.
Harry grinned, before ordering a goblin to fetch him a piece of paper in order to answer, and picked up Hermione's letter to read.
I hope you're enjoying your holiday so far. Mum and Dad have taken me to Madrid for a couple of weeks, and I've already found the wizarding quarter. It's lovely, I have to say. There's such a large mix of different architectural styles, and there's thousands of bookshops! I don't think the Spanish Ministry is quite as strict as ours; I've seen plenty of books here which are banned in Britain. It's a pity, but I'm bringing a few back with me anyway. I can lend them to you, if you'd like? I was also wondering whether you might want to spend some time with me over the holidays? Maybe we could visit some of the nearby wizarding museums – I picked up some information about them when I last went to Diagon Alley. They do sound absolutely fascinating.
Harry grinned, and quickly scribbled answers to them, both including a yes to their questions of asking him to visit. He folded up the replies to both letters, giving them to the recipients' respective owls, before picking up the official-looking letter, and decided to give it to Jareth later. It was probably from school and for his attention anyway. Harry picked up the last letter and tore it open before grinning at the opening lines, and reminded himself to give it to Jareth later at breakfast. Speaking of which, it certainly appeared that breakfast would soon be served, judging by the smells that had recently appeared from the dining room. The black-haired boy jumped up, and ran towards the dining room. Growing boys and all that, you know. Entering the room, he saw Jareth and Sarah already seated, with goblins serving them.
"Hey Jareth, this is from school, I think," Harry said distractedly, throwing the letter towards Jareth before taking his place in his chair and looking at the range of food that was on offer, and finally decided on pancakes and cereal. Jareth looked up, mildly bored at the mention of something from Hogwarts, and caught the letter as it sailed towards him before tearing it open. A few seconds passed before:
"Harry, I'm terribly sorry, but just looking at your report makes me want to hug you in pride. I mean, the sheer amount of detentions you've received. Wonderful. Just wonderful. And this Professor McGonagall – she was even kind enough to write why you received so many. 'His sheer cheek and rudeness to the professors. Failure to turn in homework. Collaboration with the school poltergeist...' And it goes on. The Headmaster has even added a comment. 'Just like his fathers.' How delightful of him," Jareth said, smirking at Harry, who was smirking back at him in return. "You know, I think I've actually done a good job raising you."
"And he's kept his grades up, which is also wonderful, isn't it Jareth," said Sarah warningly, as she looked at Harry's report after snatching it off Jareth.
"Yes, very clever, tra la la," the Goblin King said absent-mindedly, his attention from the report quickly disappearing as a goblin appeared in the doorway of the dining room.
"Sorry to be disturbing your majesties," it squeaked, "but there's being a...incident in the throne room with the vampire." The pause it took for the goblin to say 'incident' induced a rather apprehensive feeling in everyone in the room, and when it got to who was involved, well, the feeling only worsened.
"Bugger," Jareth groaned, and immediately disappeared, with Sarah sighing in annoyance at the glitter that had been sprinkled over the breakfast table. The food now liberally glimmered with it. Harry only grinned at her, and ran off to the throne room, following his father. Sarah sighed again, a mixture of acceptance and annoyance, and followed him; someone could clean that up – preferably Jareth – and besides, she rather wanted to see what trouble Riley had caused. Hey, the Goblin King was hot when he was angry.
"Sparky?" Jareth had long ago given up calling Riley by his own name, and had decided to give him a more fitting name for a vampire. Something that would spark fear in anyone he crossed; that would make anyone tremble at the mere name. Names like "Bloodgusher" and "Ironfangs" ran through his mind. Then he promptly gave up on that idea and called him 'Sparky' instead. It suited him far more, Jareth thought, and he was also, of course, aware of the rage this name evoked in the vampire.
Said vampire snarled and made as if to lunge towards the Goblin King before remembering that most likely wouldn't be the best idea, before dropping the goblin he'd been about to throw out the window. Jareth looked around the room, noticing the splinters of furniture all over the place, and it looked as if his throne had taken a rather severe beating. Several chickens were clucking in disapproval from their perches, safe up on some of the higher window ledges.
"You know, Sparky," Jareth said casually, examining his fingernails, "you really do need to behave more. Otherwise...things...happen. Bad things."
Several goblins nodded in agreement. They knew those things; the Bog, the oubliettes, and then there were things that they didn't dare speak of; such as...'teatime.' Whenever the king's goddaughter visited, well, only the stupidest goblins were out in the open. Otherwise they'd find themselves in frilly dresses, and attempting to drink tea out of cups that were much too dainty for their rather large fingers. And if you dared even mention 'wash,' you'd find yourself talking to an empty room.
Riley only glared before explaining. "They were annoying me."
"Yes, I can imagine how the tables must have been taunting you," Jareth said dryly. "And the curtains must have really hit a sore spot." Said curtains were in shreds. The vampire only shrugged and put his hands in his pockets before leaning casually against the wall.
"Why did I even bother getting out of bed today?" Jareth asked no one in particular, before returning to the vampire, who merely stared at him blankly. "Very well," the Goblin King sighed. "You shall receive a week in the oubliette. I expect your destructive tendencies will be rather reduced for a while when you lack sustenance," and with a gesture, Sparky disappeared.
Harry stared at the space where the vampire had been, before shrugging, and turned to get back to his breakfast, shoving his hands in his pockets and then being rather bemused by the paper rustling before he remembered. "Hey, Jareth! This came from Snape", and handed the letter to his father.
Goblin King & Potter.
As requested, I am sending you information that may require your attention. You asked that I report the actions of teachers and what happens in the meetings but I took it upon myself to add some more information about the Malfoys. As much I may find you both extremely annoying, you do provide some rather amusing entertainment at times.
I believe Lucius was hoping that Draco would dislike Hufflepuff, so that he could push for a re-sort for his son at the next School Governor's meeting, but that idea was rather spoilt by Draco saying something complimentary about the house. Lucius then promptly went into his study and didn't re-appear until the day after, copiously smelling of alcohol. Narcissa only seems to be amused by the whole thing, and has several times mentioned an invite to invite your family over; in front of Lucius, who then again disappeared into the study. Although, frankly speaking, that was nothing compared to the Divination Professor's reaction, who – at the first meeting after the Sorting – started wailing about doom and the end of the world approaching, and then dived into the bottle.
I expect a new supply of goblin blood soon, as I have nearly run out.
Harry was reading over Jareth's shoulder. "She's a pretty good Divination Professor then, predicting the future," he said, smirking. "Maybe I should take that class."