Uric Beaufolle raced quickly around the corner, followed by a strange flapping sound. He pressed himself against the wall and held his breath. A pudding passed by a second later. It had wings.
The pudding passed the wall he was standing against without noticing him, and Uric started breathing again. He was trembling a little. He had always been told that Hallowe'en was a time when even wizards could be scared, but this was the first time he had believed it. Uric was in his third-year at Hogwarts, but he had been afraid of pudding for as long as he could remember.
He frowned as he stared down the corridor after the pudding. Perhaps he should find somewhere safe to spend the rest of the night, or was that day? It was around four in the morning and Uric had been wandering the corridors of Hogwarts for at least an hour as was his custom. He never slept for more than four hours a night, so when he woke up he would wander the castle. Mr. Kurze, the caretaker, had given up taking points away from him.
He considered where to go, and decided to let the castle show him. Hogwarts was an extremely magical place at night. Without the students wandering around and imposing themselves on it, the castle was free to be what it wanted to be. The trouble was that the castle didn't really know what it wanted to be. This was why Uric had to hurry through a door that he saw further down before it decided it was a wall again.
He descended down some stairs, than played a game of hopscotch across some green and yellow flagstones. The stones weren't too happy about that and tried to make him trip so he moved on. Suddenly, Uric froze again. A feather duster floated by, dusting a nearby urn. It dusted him as well before heading for a suit of armour at the end of the corridor.
Uric headed in the opposite direction. The carpet rippled under his feet and he began to contemplate the feasibility of wild carpets. They could roam the forests, warming the bases of trees. During autumn, they would hide under the leaves and perform their secret mating rituals. A wide grin spread across his face at the thought. He resolved to let some carpets free into the Forbidden Forest as soon as possible.
His feet wandered absently down a corridor and he found himself stopping in front of a strange painting. Uric regarded it curiously. The majority of the paintings in Hogwarts were portraits, or at least paintings of landscapes, but this painting portrayed nothing so interesting.
It was a door. A plain, common door. Not even Uric could find anything outstanding about it, except for the fact that he had never seen it before. This was not as unusual as it sounded. There were plenty of paintings Uric had never seen before. He had been delighted just the other day to find an entire painting devoted to different kinds of cheese. Mena had had to drag him away from it after he missed breakfast because he was staring at it.
But this corridor was the one every Hufflepuff had to go down to get from the Hufflepuff common room to the Great Hall. He had even passed this very spot earlier and he was sure there had been a tapestry here instead. He frowned in thought and stared hard at the door within the painting.
There were many types of doors in Hogwarts. There were the kinds that were just normal doors. Then there were the ones that only opened on the full moon, or the ones that only opened to a stone wall. There was even one that opened out over the ocean that a fifth-year Hufflepuff had had the misfortune of finding. Uric had tried many of them in his never ending quest to find the badgers that lived in the walls of Hogwarts.
Slowly he reached out and touched the door. His hand entered into the painting and a warm feeling engulfed his hand. He grinned and pressed down on the black, metal handle. It opened with a soft click and the door swung wide. A soft, flickering light illuminated his face. He glanced around the corridor to make sure the pudding wasn't nearby.
Everything was very quiet and Uric frowned. It was Hallowe'en after all. There should have been a bit more noise as every magical object and creature in the castle felt the stirrings of the old magic. His eyes were drawn back to the door. He heard a faint snuffling sound from behind it and all his misgivings were forgotten. He couldn't turn down the chance of finding the badgers.
He grabbed the edge of the gilt picture frame and pulled himself up. His whole body was surrounded by a rush of warmth as he tumbled through the frame, knocking the door fully open and bumping his head against it. He absently rubbed his head before standing up and brushing himself off.
The door opened into a corridor lined with magically maintained torches. Uric padded softly down it. He was distracted by the dancing shadows on the wall, but after staring at them for a moment, was drawn on by the faint snuffling noises he could hear at the other end of the corridor.
There was a door there as well, but it was open a crack. Uric crept up to it and peered inside. He could see a basket heaped full with different coloured balls of yarn, but no badgers. Uric pouted.
He stood up and stared at the door for a moment before slowly pushing it open. The room was well lit by the brilliant sunlight despite the night outside. A fountain stood off to one side, the water feeding the yellow flowers that wreathed its sides. The air smelled like a mixture of flowers and wool. Uric took in the large loom that filled part of the room and the various tapestries that lined the walls before focusing on the only occupant of the room.
A lady sat at a spinning wheel to one side of the fountain. Her robes were elegantly, yet plainly cut and looked white under the sun's rays. Her golden hair shone, despite being pulled back into a business like bun. A few hairs had escaped to surround her pretty face. She was frowning in concentration as she stared at the thread. The wheel spun at a dizzying speed and the amount of green thread on the spindle at the top multiplied. The Lady gave one last push of the peddle, and the wheel spun slowly to a stop.
She looked up at him, her grey eyes meeting his hazel ones. She frowned.
"How did you get in here?" she asked, though it almost seemed like she was asking herself and not him. Uric thought about her question for a moment.
"The door was open," he finally said. He looked down at the colourful rugs lining the floor. They looked particularly healthy. Perhaps he should chose two to let go into the forest this very night? Or perhaps he should chose three? He didn't know which were boys and which were girls and it was better to err on the safe side.
"Child!" said the Lady sharply. Uric focused on her again. She was very pretty, though there was a slight hint of sadness in her eyes as well.
"This room is private. Students aren't allowed here," she said with a touch of exasperation.
"But I heard the badgers," said Uric as if this explained everything. The Lady blinked. She stared at Uric for a moment before turning to one side. There was a large pile of folded tapestries and blankets. She selected one from the top and handed it to him.
Woven into the thick wool in a black and white pattern were the forms of badgers. They were in various states of existence. Some were young and frolicked about the part of the blanket that Uric could see. Others munched contentedly on apples and blackberries. A few were asleep. Uric watched as an older badger was woken up by one of the younger ones. It snarled at the youngster before going back to sleep.
Uric looked up from the blanket and grinned in delight at the Lady.
"It's wonderful," he said. "The badgers must love you." She laughed.
"I suppose you could say that. I've always had good luck when a badger is around." Her eyes fell on a tapestry across from her. Uric turned to look and saw that it depicted Hogwarts. "They're not around as often as I'd like," she said softly.
"The badgers are always around," said Uric. "You may not see them, but they're there." The Lady bent down so that her face was level with his. After a moment, she smiled gently and pulled him into a fierce hug that crushed the badger blanket between them.
"I hope you always see them, child," she whispered in his ear before letting him go. She smelled like the flowers that wreathed the room. She walked back over to her spinning wheel and sat down. Uric stood there, the blanket still clutched in arms. The Lady started the wheel again.
"You may keep the blanket," she said suddenly as the soft whir of the wheel filled the room. "Consider it a gift." Uric's grin was threatening to take over his face it was so wide. On impulse, he bowed to her.
"Thank you, my Lady," he said. With one last look around, he walked out of the room. Behind him, the door closed again so that only a crack was showing. He walked slowly down the torch-lit corridor and jumped out of the painting into the outside world.
His feet hit the ground and suddenly he felt cold. He hugged the blanket closer to him. Turning around he looked once more at the painting. The door was gone.
A lady sat in the painting, her golden hair pulled up in a bun. Across her lap lay a tapestry of Hogwarts. She was smiling, ever so slightly.
Uric bowed once more, than continued down the corridor.
Disclaimer: Much as I want him to be, Uric is not mine. Nor is the rest of Hogwarts. They belong to Rowling. Mr. Kurze and Mena are mine though:)
Much thanks to Ozma for letting me use Helga's room:) It's been awhile since I saw a spinning wheel in action so please forgive me if I got any of the details wrong. I found this site while I was writing and thought I'd share it. http://www.badgers.org.uk/brocks-world/index.html - It's a children's site devoted to badgers;) Don't even ask how long I spent playing capture the badger there…