A GIFT FOR MADAME MAXIME

By Kimberly T. email: kimbertow at yahoo dot com

Author's note: this vignette was written in response to the Writer's Challenge for the Spring 2002 issue of Avalon Mists. This takes place just after the events in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", which supposedly took place in the school year 1994-1995; in the Gargoyles timeline, Goliath and Elisa have yet to leave on their World Tour at this time, and so have yet to go to London and bring Griff forward in time. For descriptions of the various magical beasties and items described in the story, you'll have to read not only all the HP books, but the booklet entitled "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." (I encourage people to buy said booklet anyway from the nearest bookstore, as it doesn't cost much, and proceeds from the sales go to Comic Relief U.K.) Standard Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters listed herein, they all belong to either J.K. Rowling, the 'Powers That Be' at Disney or the TGS staff, and I'm not making a dime of profit from this, so please don't sue.

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At the Leaky Cauldron, Tom the bartender looked worriedly over at a table in the corner. Rubeus Hagrid was muttering vexedly into a snifter of brandy the size of a small goldfish bowl, looking even more red-faced than usual; Tom decided his old friend was deeply frustrated about something.

In a lull between customers, Tom made his quiet way over to Hagrid's table and pulled out a chair for himself. Knowing full well that Hagrid preferred directness in his dealings, he simply said as he sat down, "What's vexing you today, Hagrid? Problems at Hogwarts?"

"Eh? Ah, no, Tom, no trouble at Hogwarts," Hagrid said as he looked up. " 'Tis actually too quiet there, with all the students on holiday fer summer." Then he sighed heavily, his cheeks puffing out and making his great black beard look wilder and shaggier than ever.

"What, then; problems with a new pet?"

Hagrid shook his head again. "No, Albert's doing fine; he's me new pet Tebo, and I've fitted bells ter his collar so's I can find 'im when he goes invisible. Professor McGonigall's been keeping an eye on 'im fer me, while I've been away on… eh, other Hogwarts business," as Hagrid's eyes flickered about uneasily for a moment, as if wary of saying more within the walls of the pub.

Tom's eyes sharpened, as he kept a frown of concern from his face. (Not about the Tebo; for a man who'd tamed Hippogriffs and once raised a Norwegian Ridgeback dragon from an egg, handling a Tebo was probably child's play.) He knew Hagrid was a good man, never mind what that nasty Rita Skeeter had said about him and his half-giant heritage in that backstabbing column of hers in the Daily Prophet. But it wasn't like Hagrid to keep secrets from his old mates, either… He was about to suggest that Hagrid might be more comfortable in one of the rooms off the back, where he could possibly coax more details out of him, when Hagrid burst out, "The problem is, Olympe's birthday is coming soon, and I can't find her a proper gift!"

"Olympe?" Tom echoed blankly, before he remembered. "Ah, I remember; the headmistress of that Beauxbatons Academy!" He'd heard mention of her, amidst talk about the Triwizard Tournament that had been held at Hogwarts that year. According to gossip, this Madame Olympe Maxime stood head and shoulders above the average lady… literally. It wasn't surprising that Hagrid would find that an attractive feature, all things considered.

"Aye," Hagrid sighed, but this was most definitely a lovesick sigh. Even though they were indoors, Tom could've sworn he saw starlight reflected in Hagrid's eyes as he sighed, "Olympe Maxime, the loveliest figure of a woman that ever waved a wand! With olive skin sweet as a summer's dream, a nose to be right proud of, and dark eyes you could nearly fall into an' drown… And when she decides ter let her hair down, it flows o'er her shoulders like a dark silky waterfall…"

Tom just sat there blinking in shock for a moment, scarcely daring to believe his ears. That was absolutely the most flowery, poetic speech he had ever, ever heard out of Rubeus Hagrid. It was obvious now that the poor soul wasn't just smitten with this woman; he was right over the moon!

Oblivious to his old friend's reaction, Hagrid's lovesick features returned to an expression of frustration as he continued, "And a fine lady such as her deserves a fine present fer her birthday, but I've gone up and down Diagon Alley twice, and I've yet ter find anything she'll like that she hasn't likely already got!"

"Ah… well, now, that is a problem," Tom said sympathetically. He remembered well how hard it had been to find a decent gift for his sweet Phyllida, back when they were still courting. Now that they were married, though, it was a bit easier; Phyllida knew him so well after twelve years of marriage that she just told him to take note of certain items she'd point out to him on their nights out, for possible gifts for her on other occasions. A sweet yet sensible lady, his Phyllida… But that wasn't helping his friend Hagrid any. So he scratched his chin as he mused, "As I recollect, 'tisn't appropriate to buy clothing for a woman you're not married to yet, so Madame Malkin's is out…"

"Not ter mention, they hadn't anything in her size anyway," Hagrid said glumly. It was true, Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions didn't necessarily have robes for all sizes; Hagid always had to have his tailor-made.

Tom didn't even bother to mention Ollivander's as a possible gift source. While everyone knew Ollivander sold the finest wands in Europe, everyone also knew that a wand had to be individually matched to the wielder, or it wouldn't work properly. Instead, he suggested, "How about a good book from Flourish and Blott's? My Phyllida enjoys a good read afore bedtime…"

Hagrid shook his head glumly. "Olympe told me she has a personal library back home in Beauxbatons bigger than my whole cottage. What book could I buy her that she likely hasn't already got?"

"Hm. What about a Lunascope from Madame Astrid's? They're a bit pricey, but they're always a treat…"

Hagrid shook his head again. "She's already got a top-of-the-line Lunascope; she told me once she entertains some o' her younger students with it on special occasions."

"Ah. Well, there's always jewelry. I've seen some nice necklaces in the window at Darcy's…"

But that suggestion was also greeted with a shake of the head. "Yeh never saw Olympe when she's all dolled up. Her family's right well off, and she's got enough jewels ter wear ter outshine a Fire Crab's shell!" He sighed heavily again as he admitted, "There was a piece on display that might be worthy of her, but it cost more Galleons than I'll ever see in a dozen years of working fer Hogwarts."

But the mention of Fire Crabs had given Tom another idea. "Well, what about a new pet? I've heard the Magical Menagerie just got in a few of a new breed of Puffskeins; pink fur, instead of the usual custard color!"

But Hagrid just gave a derisive snort. "Olympe keeps a Giant Crup at home; she told me it weighs ten stone and can bite right through a broomstick when it's feeling playful. That Puffskein'd just be a midday snack fer it, an' a Kneasle probably wouldn't last more'n a day either. I thought about getting her a Hippogriff, after she agreed it were a shame about my losing poor Buckbeak, but you know how those get along with winged horses, and she's got an entire team of Abraxans fer pulling her carriage."

"Hmm… Well, usually I don't refer people to Knockturn Alley shops, but Borgin & Burkes carries some unusual items…"

"Already been there," as Hagrid shook his head again. "Nothing suitable fer a lady of quality like Olympe…"

Tom racked his brains in silence for a moment, then looked up again. "There's a shop I've heard of elsewhere in London that carries some unusual magical items, though I've never been there myself. If Dedalus Diggle was here tonight, he could tell you more about it; he's the one that mentioned it to me. 'Tis a shop that caters to Muggles as well as wizards, if you can believe it, and it's only open at night…"

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Bored, bored, bored. Lucy the gargoyle was bored out of her furry little skull.

Normally, she enjoyed going to see her mum and da at "Into the Mystic", the shop they minded; she never really saw them as often as she'd like, unlike some of her rookery sibs who saw their blood-parents every night whether they wanted to or not. Never mind what her nasty rookery sister Dorcas had said, the clan needed the income the shop brought in from sales of magical and nonmagical items, and Leo and Una had very important jobs in running the place; they were NOT staying in London because the clan didn't want them hanging around the estate! Before this last week, Lucy had always regarded trips to London to see her parents as happy and exciting times, even more so than when they came to the estate to see her and the rest of the clan. But not this time; not when she'd been sent here because the clan really didn't want her around at the moment...

It was all Dorcas' fault, it really was! She'd been the one to start the fight, by saying all those nasty things about Lucy's blood-parents. Why did Dorcas have to be so mean, anyway? Lucy had never really liked her much but she'd felt sorry for her last year, when Dorcas' mum had died so suddenly, but now she'd become so hateful to everybody that there was just no living with her. She'd more than deserved the bloody nose and black eye and the deep scratches Lucy had given her in that last big fight, and she'd given Lucy a couple of nasty scratches too, so why was Lucy the one to be sent away for a while "till tempers are cooled"? It just wasn't fair.

At least her big brother Caspian had sympathized with her, as he'd brought her to London three nights ago; he knew what Dorcas had been saying about their parents, although even he said Lucy should try harder to understand her rookery sibling. (But what was to understand, besides the fact that Dorcas was an utter stroppy cow?!) But her parents hadn't been so understanding; they'd told Lucy that they were glad to see her, but not happy about the circumstances, and then they'd put her to work in restocking the shelves after the shop closed at 3:00 a.m.

Now, three nights later, Lucy listened with only half an ear while her big brother and her mum went over his magic lessons, in the kitchen of the living quarters they kept upstairs of the shop. That was another thing that wasn't really fair, although Lucy had grown used to it; Caspian had inherited magical ability to spare from Una, but Lucy had never been able to so much as levitate a feather. But then Caspian had to have lots of extra schooling for his abilities, so he wouldn't blow up the garden shed again like everyone said he had before Lucy had hatched, and having to have all that extra schooling would be really boring too. It certainly sounded boring, at least, from what little of the droning reached Lucy's ears as she idly flipped through the pages of a book she'd already read twice.

The trouble was, there was nothing to do. Part of her punishment for fighting was that she couldn't use the computer and go surfing the Net while she was here (which normally was one of the many joys of coming here for a visit--uninterrupted computer time, with no one complaining about her hogging the modem!), and she couldn't go out alone to explore the city, either. (They all said she was too young, but she was nearly twenty!) She had to wait until Caspian's lessons were over for the night before she could go anywhere, and that seemed to take forever. Until then, she was stuck here watching the telly, which had nothing decent on at this hour, reading books she'd already read and playing solitaire until she wanted to either scream or bite through the cards. If only she had something new to read…

There was stuff to read in the shop, downstairs. When Lucy had been restocking the shelves, she'd seen some books out in the front room, where they kept the nonmagical stuff and the items that her mum said were only minor magical trinkets, basically harmless. The real spellbooks and the really powerful magical stuff were always kept in the back room, which Lucy wasn't even allowed to go into without either her brother or one of her parents present. Lucy wasn't actually allowed to go downstairs at all while the shop was open, but it was a really slow night for customers; she hadn't heard the bells over the door chime since sunset. If she could just sneak downstairs and check the bookshelves, she might find an interesting book to read, maybe something about the old Pagan festivals or rare magical creatures like unicorns. She could borrow a book and read it now, then return it when she restocked the shelves, and her parents would probably be none the wiser.

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"Thanks, Stan! Ta!" Hagrid waved to the conductor of the Knight Bus as he stepped off and onto the curb. The Knight Bus lurched away with a rumble and belch of smoke, as Hagrid looked around to orient himself.

He'd never been in this part of London before; if truth be told, he didn't visit London often at all, except for trips to Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley, and the wizard-friendly pubs near them. He generally found Muggle society too restrictive; a bloke couldn't so much as wave a wand without getting into trouble, let alone Apparate or use Floo Powder to get about. He raised a bushy eyebrow as a Muggle motorcar went chugging past, with two Muggles crammed into the seats like sardines in a can, and shook his head; that car was so small he could nearly have picked it up under an arm and carried it off. That was another reason why he didn't visit often; so much of the modern Muggle stuff was far too small and fragile for his likes. Ah well, if the Muggles wanted to live this way then may they be happy with it; live and let live, that was Hagrid's motto.

Ah, there was the shop Tom had spoken of, back at the Leaky Cauldron; Into the Mystic. Curious, that name; he'd have thought the Ministry of Magic would have fined and badgered the shop owners into changing the name into something more mundane, what with them being right out in the open for every Muggle in Britain to see. He finally shrugged, as it was none of his concern, and headed for the shop entrance. All Tom could recall from Dedalus Diggle's description of the shop was that over half of the items carried in the shop were magically worthless, but there were a few real treasures amidst the trash. At this point, Hagrid was desperate enough to consider spending an hour or two digging through trash, to find a treasure worthy of Olympe Maxime…

He automatically ducked his head as he went through the door, though he noted absently in passing that he didn't need to duck nearly as much as he normally did; the door was of a decent size as well as solidly built, which indicated an older building, not one of those modern slap-togethers. The chimes rang merrily as he went through, signaling a customer, and a second after he strode in a shopkeeper appeared through a set of curtains leading to a back room. The fellow had a lion's head and was wearing a voluminous cloak that covered him from neck to toe, and when he saw Hagrid he bowed once and intoned gravely, "Welcome to Into the Mystic, good sirrah. What is it that you seek this night?"

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Trouble, trouble, trouble! Lucy knew she was in deep trouble indeed as she ducked further into the shadows. She'd managed to sneak down the stairs without being seen by her father, when he went into the back room to take care of one of the books back there that was acting up; from the sound of things, it had managed to scoot itself off the shelf to fall on the floor, and was flipping itself open to various pages to entice someone to read it. (Mother had told her once that some of the nastier grimoires contained spells so hair-trigger that even being read aloud by a non-magical being could set them off, and the books knew it, too; that was one reason why nobody was allowed back there without a trained magic-user present, or someone like her da who knew how to handle the grimoires.) She'd sneaked all the way to the bookshelves and was about to grab a book about pagan holidays off the shelf when the hairs on her neck had started to raise, and a quick glance over her shoulder at the door showed a huge shadow looming across it. A customer! HIDE!

The stairs to the flat were in the back, too far to run for it before the customer came in. But just past the bookshelves were a series of four-foot-tall hand-carved wooden statues from Africa, symbols of luck or fertility or something. Her mum had explained the meaning of them to her when they'd arrived from Kenya a few years ago, but just then all that Lucy cared about was that they might be big enough as a group to hide behind. She tucked her wings in as tight as they'd go and scrambled back behind the row, to crouch down just as the door opened and the customer came in.

She narrowed her eyes to slits as she peered between two of the statues, and saw the customer as he came in. Well, she saw his legs, at least; she didn't dare raise her head to see the rest of him. But his legs were certainly big enough, like tree trunks wearing trousers and boots! This human was a really big one, maybe even bigger than the average gargoyle. And he wielded a big umbrella, even though it was clear as a bell outside. (That wasn't really so odd, though, considering how often London was rained on; a lot of people wound up carrying a brolly around from sheer force of habit.) When the chimes rang to signal a customer, her da came hurriedly out from the back room to greet him in that mystic-sounding, hollow-ish voice he always used on customers, talking without moving his lips to make it seem like his face was just a mask.

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Hagrid wasn't duly impressed by the shopkeeper's voice; lots of Slytherin wizards tried to make their voices deeper and hollow-sounding in order to at least sound more powerful than they really were. It was all a load of codswallop, as the really powerful wizards like Dumbledore spoke as normally as you please; they had no need to impress anybody. But rather than disparage the poor foolish shopkeeper to his face, Hagrid just told him, "I'm seeking a fine gift fer a lady of quality. What've yeh got that yeh think is suitable?"

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Leo pondered for a moment, then began suggesting various items on the shelves and in the display cases: a pendant of silver and onyx that resembled a crescent moon against a night sky; a book of ancient poetry about the seasons, translated from ancient Welsh and Latin into English; a rare perfume made from ambergris that came in a tiny bottle carved from a single large crystal. Lucy thought to herself that the pendant was very pretty, and the perfume bottle was a real treasure, but the human shook his head decisively about the first two, and looked doubtful about the third. "I s'pose the bottle's nice, but I don't know if the scent'll be to her liking. Anything else?"

Just then, another thump came from the back room, followed by the sound of riffling pages; that grimoire was really acting up tonight! Her da had to excuse himself and duck into the back room again, leaving the customer to look around a bit. Lucy hunched down behind the statues to make herself as small as she could, squeezed her eyes shut and tried to wish herself invisible.

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When the shopkeeper went into the back room, Hagrid glanced around, and noted no one else was about. He was growing a bit impatient, as so far, nothing the shopkeeper suggested was nearly special enough to be a suitable gift for Olympe. But then, nothing he'd suggested had been magical, either, unless magic had been used to carve the crystal perfume bottle. He supposed that the shopkeeper was cautious about mentioning magical items to a customer that he didn't yet know was anything more than a larger-than-usual Muggle, because if the Ministry of Magic caught him offering magical items to Muggles they'd have his head on a platter right quick. But while the shopkeeper was dealing with the noisemaker in the back room, Hagrid decided it wouldn't hurt to use just a wee bit of magic to speed up the search… just to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. After another quick glance around, he hefted his umbrella.

Back in that dark time when he'd been tossed out of Hogwarts, Hagrid had despaired of ever becoming an accomplished wizard, like his mum and da had so wanted for him. His wand had been snapped in two and thrown away when he'd been expelled, and Ollivander had been warned to never sell him another one, and a wizard without a wand to properly focus and amplify his power wasn't good for much of anything! But then Dumbledore had come visiting, to offer him the job of groundskeeper for Hogwarts as he was good with animals, and a nature-lover by heart, and Hagrid had accepted the offer with almost pathetic gratitude. Then after Dumbledore had left to return to his duties, Hagrid had noticed he'd left his umbrella behind. He'd picked it up, intending to return it to the good professor, but as soon as his fingers had closed around the handle he'd felt that familiar tingle in his fingers, and he knew… His wand was embedded in the umbrella shaft! Still broken, aye, not as powerful as before and not all the spells he tried with it worked the same way they used to, but it was better than nothing at all. Though he never spoke of it aloud to Dumbledore, he knew the professor knew he was grateful beyond measure; from that moment on, Dumbledore could ask anything of him, up to and including ripping his own heart out of his chest, and Hagrid would do his uttermost to oblige.

He rarely used the umbrella-wand, as he'd learned how to get by without magic in his everyday life, and he didn't want the wrong people finding out his umbrella's secret. But with nobody about, surely just a little spell wouldn't hurt; a simple revealing-what's-hidden spell, designed to make items with true magic embedded in them glow ever-so-briefly. He hadn't done that one since before being expelled from Hogwarts, but it was such a simple spell, surely nothing could go wrong with it. He briefly flourished the furled umbrella while whispering, "Manifestum!"

He glanced about him quickly, hoping to glimpse flashes of light from various items on the shelves, which he'd then ask the shopkeeper about when he returned. But he saw only one flash of light, though a big one; coming from behind those carved wooden statues…

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I'm not here, I'm not here not making a sound, nobody here but us roaches, Lucy thought hard to herself as she stayed crouched down, trying hard to ignore that sudden tingly feeling she'd gotten very briefly. She was barely even breathing, and keeping her wings from rustling nervously by sheer force of will; even if the stranger happened to glimpse a white bundle behind the statues, surely he'd think nothing of it. She just had to wait him out…

Swift scraping noises; the statues were being moved! And the fear-shot of adrenaline spurred her into movement; Lucy was unable to keep herself from lifting her head and opening her eyes… to look right into the eyes of the human.

She froze again in utter, silent terror, though her mind was running gibbering in circles. What could she do?! It was too late to try to escape; this human was looking right at her, and she couldn't make a run for it without going right past him, and any second now he was going to scream or try to hit her or kick her, and either her Da or Mum would come running out to protect her and then their secret would be up the chimney as well, and, and…

But instead of shouting or swinging his massive fists, the human just grinned at her, a grin of pure delight as he said, "Well, now! Yer a pretty little lass, aren't yeh?"

Huh?!

Then the huge man crouched down to her level, and held out one of those huge hands as he spoke in soothing tones. "There, now; yeh've nothing ter fear from me, lass. Me name's Hagrid; what's yers?"

"L-L-Lucy."

"Well, Lucy, I'm right pleased ter meet yeh. Be yeh here shopping for sommat?" Then those twinkling eyes reassessed her face and form, and he said knowingly, "Or are yeh here ter see yer da? I'd say yeh've got the same features as the shopkeeper…"

Just as he spoke, a horrified gasp was heard from behind him. Still crouching, the huge man turned with surprising speed as Lucy peeked over his shoulder, to see her father coming from behind the curtains. His eyes were riveted on his daughter with the strange human, and his face was paling beneath his fur till he almost looked as white as Lucy. But the huge man spoke soothingly to him as well, "Nothin' ter worry over, mate; I was just havin' a wee chat with yer little one, here. She's quite the pretty thing, eh? So, what else have yeh got fer me?" as he stood up again.

Moving like an automaton, Leo stepped forward another pace. Then he finally said, in a hushed and disbelieving voice, "You know what we are…"

Hagrid actually looked somewhat offended, as Lucy edged out from behind him to see their faces. " 'Course I do! Anyone who'd read their ruddy schoolbooks would know; there was an entire chapter about yer kind in me old Nonhuman Beings and Their Cultures textbook, with pictures of Gargoyles plain as pikestaffs in with the text!" Then he tilted his head in consideration as he added, "Though the British variety they pictured had a stag's head, mind yeh; I s'pose someone who didn't read the text aright might think yer breed should all have antlers or sommat."

Leo just stared goggle-eyed at him for a moment longer, silently mouthing the word 'textbook' to himself; then he seemed to snap out of it, and eyed Hagrid knowingly, though still warily. "You're a wizard."

Hagrid made a low bow with a flourish as he doffed his hat. "Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of the Keys and Grounds at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, at yer service."

Leo eyed him keenly as he echoed, "Hogwarts…" Then he demanded, "What House?"

"Gryffindor, o'course!" Hagrid replied, as if surprised and a little offended that Leo had even had to ask.

Now Leo finally relaxed, and gave Hagrid a cordial nod. "Then you are truly welcome in this shop. And I think I know now just what might suit your fine lady; give me a moment," as he ducked into the back room again. He came back out a moment later with something in his hands, a small box with an inlaid design of seven different flowers on the lid. "If this item proves unsuitable for your lady, you're welcome to follow me into the back room, as well," as he proffered the box in his hands.

Hagrid accepted the box, and while looking it over he said almost absently, "From yer question, I'm assuming yeh've had problems in the past wi' other Houses, eh?"

"Definitely," Leo said with a trace of grimness. "Your Wizards' Council declared gargoyles to be fellow Beings instead of Beasts over four centuries ago, but every Slytherin wizard that has ever entered this shop has regarded us as little more than spell fodder; providers of stone skin for their potions and such. The last encounter our clan had with one of them, back in 1831, ended in the shop nearly burning down with the gargoyles in it. While the Ravenclaw wizards aren't nearly so bad, they tend to think they're too clever for us non-humans, and usually try to cheat us. That's largely why we've never moved the shop to Diagon Alley, or advertised in your wizardly periodicals; we may make little profit from wizards and true witches in keeping a low profile, as we scarcely get more than one every other year, but we have less trouble from them as well."

Hagrid flicked his eyes up from the item to regard him wryly as he said, "An' what about trouble from Muggles, then?"

Lucy had been listening to all of this in largely uncomprehending, wide-eyed silence, but now she echoed puzzledly, "Muggles?"

Leo gave her an extremely stern look, letting her know that she was in deep and hot water for sneaking down to the shop and for being seen by a human, even if this one was evidently okay; the look promised a very long talk and a severe punishment after their customer left. But he still answered her, "The human wizards and witches refer to non-magical humans as Muggles." Then he turned back to Hagrid to finish, "And we've had a few problems in the past, but so long as we keep the cloaks on most of them regard us simply as humans wearing masks; it's as if they don't want to see any other possibility."

Hagrid snorted in agreement. "Most Muggles like ter keep their heads in the sand about magic, true enough. A Jarvey can bite one on th' ankle an' give 'im what-fer while hunting Gnomes in the Muggle's own ruddy back yard, an' he'll likely just think he's hallucinating hearing it talk!" Then he waved the whole matter aside as he opened the box and peered inside. After a moment he said in a hushed and almost reverent voice, "Be this what I think it is…?"

Leo smiled wryly. "That would depend; what do you think it is?"

"The… the bulb of a Septimarium?"

Leo nodded and smiled. "Then you are correct; that's exactly what it is. Let me get my mate down from upstairs; she knows the activation spell. Be right back," as he turned away to trot up the stairs.

Hagrid continued to peer into the box with a look of astonishment on his face as he muttered, "A Septimarium! Professor Sprout'd give her teeth for one of these for the Hogwarts greenhouses…"

Lucy edged closer to peer into the box, her uneasiness over this strange human set aside in favor of curiosity. All she saw was an oddly-shaped flower bulb, nestled in a bed of velvet. "What's a Septimarium?"

Hagrid gave her a slightly pitying look. "Not a magic-wielder, eh, lass? So yer parents haven't taught yeh much about magical items and plants. A Septimarium is a very rare magical flower. Ye plant it in the fall, by the light of a full moon, and it'll sprout the next spring. If yeh don't plant it on a ley-line, or speak the right spell over it during the first full moon of spring, it'll jus' come up looking like a fancy tulip, an' stay that way all year. But if yeh plant it right, or know the spell to cast in the spring, it'll be sprouted and giving its first blooms by the next full moon after. The flowers last three weeks on the stems, then wither while new buds come out behind 'em. An' those'll bloom come the next full moon, but they'll be of a different shape and color, and their petals will have different uses in potions and spells… Yeh get seven different kinds of flowers from just the one plant, afore it goes dormant 'till the next spring. Professor Sprout said once that her grandmother had one of these in her garden, but she hasn't ever seen one blooming with her own eyes; the plants only seed once every seven years, an' if a Gnome gets into the garden afore then, it'll see the Septimarium as a right tasty treat and chew it to bits afore it even looks at any other plant." He shook his head as he concluded, "That's why Septimariums are about as rare as Gargoyles…" Then he very lightly touched the flower bulb with a small, wry smile on his face as he said, "An' this'd be a fine gift for Olympe. But the next question is, how much does yer da want fer it…"

When Una came downstairs with Leo a few moments later, the glare she gave Lucy told her in no uncertain terms that her mum had been told of what had happened, and she was going to be in serious trouble once their customer had left. But she greeted Hagrid civilly enough, and assured him that she could write down the spell to use if the Septimarium wasn't planted on a ley line, and that the spell would be included in the price of the bulb. "And as this is such a very rare specimen, shall we say… two hundred quid even? Plus tax, of course."

Hagrid furrowed his brow for a moment in thought. "Er… how much is that in Galleons?"

Leo had to regretfully inform him that Into the Mystic didn't accept Galleons as currency, as the gargoyles had no account at Gringott's for exchanging them into pounds. But they would be happy to put the item on reserve for him, while he made a trip to Gringott's and exchanged his Galleons for the common British currency.

"Right, then; I'll be back tomorrow night with the money fer yeh. 'Till then, ta!" as Hagrid went whistling back out the door of the shop, with a spring in his step at finally finding something suitable for his fine lady.

Which left Lucy to face the combined glares of her parents. "Well, young lady, what do you have to say for yourself?" Leo asked sternly.

"Um… I'm really, really sorry…"

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The next evening found Hagrid whistling just as merrily as he debarked from the Knight Bus again and headed for the shop. Two hundred pounds sterling plus tax, by the calculations of the goblin tellers at Gringotts, had turned out to be forty-two Galleons, eleven Sickles and a handful of Knuts. And a right bargain, if the Septimarium brought a smile to sweet Olympe's face!

He found the lady gargoyle—Una, that was her name, and it was quite a pretty horn she had, though it didn't have the inner glow of a true unicorn's horn—at the counter, dealing with a Muggle customer. Hagrid politely waited until she'd finished with him, and after the Muggle had paid for a book about dragons (ah, Norbert! He still missed the dear little tyke) and a packet of incense and gone on his merry, clueless way, Hagrid stepped up to the counter and politely enquired about her charming daughter.

Una frowned heavily, and told him, "Lucy is confined to the upstairs flat, and is currently occupied in cleaning every last speck of grout out of the tiles in the water-closet. And after that, we've a few more chores for her…"

"Ah, don't be too harsh on the lass; youngsters will always go poking about and getting inter mischief, it's in their nature," Hagrid said wisely. "Now there are a couple lads I know at Hogwarts that have been inter their share and more of mischief in the last few years, and a lass that's in it with them more often than not. Let me tell yeh a story er two about Harry, Ron and Hermione…"

THE END