Journey to Pandora - Chapter 1: The Mysterious Plant
At the home of Rubeus Hagrid, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger were marveling at Hagrid's newest pet. The creature was hand-sized and resembled a cross between a vampire bat and a lizard. Hagrid had found him near Hogwarts and decided to adopt it.
"His name is Scaly," said Hagrid proudly. "Normally Batzards don't get any bigger than this one."
The batzard flew up and down and landed in the palm of Ron. It made a noise that sounded like a baby parrot. "Aw, he's a cute fella." Ron took his hand and scratched Scaly's wings. In response, the little creature bit Ron's index finger with its fangs, causing him to retract his hand in pain. "Ow, the little bugger!"
"Aw, he's not dangerous, Ron. He just ain't used to you yet," Hagrid said calmly.
Ron smiled meakly as Scaly flew toward his owner. "So I see."
"Let me take a look at your bite, Ron. Hold out your hand," Hermione said. She examined his index finger and tapped it with her wand. "There, all better." Ron thanked Hermione and had a sip of some hot tea.
Harry was sipping a mug of butterbeer when he felt the lightning bolt on his head throb a bit. It wasn't blinding pain as usual but it was noticeable. He rubbed it, hoping the pain would subside. The pain dulled a bit as Harry sunk into the chair he was sitting in. He breathed a sigh of relief and drank more butterbeer.
As they arrived back at Hogwarts, they went into the medical ward where Ron's sister, Ginny, was sick with some mystery illness. Ron had been on edge all day and the trip to Hagrid's did help his anxiety a little bit. The trio visited with the doctors and nurses to get an update on Ginny's condition, which occurred after she drank an unknown potion, thinking it to be butterbeer.
They all stood by Ginny's bedside, with Hermione rubbing her forehead and Ron holding her hand. The nurse called them together to discuss the sickness that pervaded Ginny's body.
"I have some good news and some bad news," the nurse said. "The good news is that Ginny must've drank an herbal liquid used to grow a certain kind of plant in Herbology. A student accidentally may have left his or her sample in a butterbeer mug. The disease is called heliotrophy so now we know what she has."
"But, but, wha-what's the bad news?" stammered Ron, his face slowly going pale.
"The bad news is that we don't have the formula for the antidote," replied the nurse. "The last case of heliotrophy was a century ago and the formula has been lost. The prognosis is not necessarily grim but Ginny will probably spend the rest of her life with spiral-like calluses growing all over her body. If one is removed, another will grow back."
"How do we find the formula for the antidote?" asked Harry. "There has to be one in the Herbology department."
"The Herbology department did some research and found that the only way to find the formula is to capture a certain plant and then analyze its genetic material," replied the nurse. "It's called the helicoradian. Unfortunately, the plant grows elswhere...on a distant moon."
Ron and Hermione were in a state of shock. Harry was also shocked but he told himself that he would like Ginny for who she was and not for the calluses on her body.
"Where is this distant moon?" Ron asked, sweat pouring from his brow.
"It's called Pandora. But so far, no one from Hogwarts has been able to apparitiate there and come back alive. A herbology professor tried to do that fifty years ago in order to study the plantlife but he died once he got there."
"How did he die?" asked Hermione.
"We don't know."
The three friends shuffled their way back to their dormitories. Hermione, however, was in no mood to give up. She convinced Ron and Harry to make a trip to the library to find some answers.
"Surely Professor Sprout has been here several times to find out about this," Ron said. "It's no use; my sister is going to look like a bloody toad!"
"It doesn't hurt to double check," said Hermione.
"But I think we're wasting our time!"
"Wasting time, Ron? This is your sister, for goodness sake!"
As the two of them argued, Harry left the group and went back into the archives of the Hogwarts library. He dodged the cobwebs that were in his way. After 20 minutes of searching, he found an old, 70-year-old book titled Herbology of the World that was hidden away in a box titled "ARCHIVED MATERIALS: DO NOT TOUCH." Blowing the dust off of the cover, he opened it up and found a chapter titled Herbology of Different Worlds. In the chapter was a comprehensive section of the plant life found on different worlds and planets....and Pandora. He found a wide range of plants that thrived there. He also found the reason why the herbology professor had perished on Pandora; the atmosphere was different than on Earth and without a mask, one could sufflocate to death.
Harry motioned for his friends, who were still arguing, to come and look at his findings.
"I told you Hermione, it makes no difference if she's covered in warts; she's still human!" Ron exclaimed as he followed Hermione into the archive room.
"Stop arguing you two," Harry said sternly. "I found our answers in this book." He pointed out the passages on Pandora as well as the section on the plant, helicoradian.
"That's wonderful, Harry!" cried Hermione. "But how do we get there and where do we get masks to keep us breathing?
"I have an idea. Hagrid has a bunch of masks in his room that he wears while spraying weed killer. If we can borrow them, we can apparitiate to Pandora, get a helicoradian sample, and come back to Hogwarts."
"It's a good idea but how are we going to explain apparitiating to some far off place that may or may not be hostile? Heck, we aren't even old enough to apparitiate!"
"This is a risk we have to take, Hermione," said Harry.
"See Hermione, I told you she was better off with warts," blurted Ron. "It's too dangerous for us to go."
"Ron, she's your sister. You've got to do this." Harry gave Ron a stern look. "Would you enjoy life with your entire body covered in calluses and warts? Would like to spend life alone because everyone avoids you? Would you like it if little children pointed and stared at your grotesque body?"
Ron sighed heavily and shuffled his feet. "No," he mumbled.
"I'm glad you see my point. We will be leaving for Pandora first thing tomorrow."