Why is it that every dream I ever seem to have is always a nightmare? Would it hurt the universe that much to give me a single dream about… being the first man on Mars or… going home to find that my parents have figured out my big secret and accept me anyway – presenting me with the biggest chocolate cake I've ever seen?
Instead, I get the face of Moody. The face of Moody standing over me as I am trapped in a glass jar, morphing into something… someone else. And then the laughter. Again.
"Gah!" I yelled as I jolted myself awake, sitting upright with such a force that my hammock gave a dangerous shudder. That was horrific. Like… you know those villains you see in cartoons that have that demented, delirious-with-excitement look in their eyes? Their eyelids seem none existent because they are pulled so high, and their grins are unnaturally wide. It was basically that. Only scarier. By a lot.
My heart was beating against my ribs with a strength I didn't know it had. In an attempt to calm my panic, I let my gaze fall on the hut. For such a small place, it sure was a mess. I'll admit, part of it was my fault, but the table was coated in all sorts of plant life and meat. Hagrid's attempts at figuring out what the creatures in his care liked to eat.
My stomach gave a low growl.
I ran a hand through my hair, trying to shake out any droplets of sweat. There was no chance I was sleeping now. Plus, sunlight was already beginning to seep through the curtains. I looked down at the chair that housed my clothes.
That should have housed my clothes.
"Where…?" I could have sworn I'd left my suit on the chair back. My boots weren't by the side of it either. I wouldn't have packed them, surely? I glanced at my rucksack near the door. It didn't look any fuller than usual. Frowning, I pulled myself from the bedsheet and dragged my legs over the side of the hammock. A simple jump down and-
"Eep." The fall seemed to happen in slow motion. I felt the hammock tip, and my body drop inch by inch until I landed directly on top of Hagrid. The giant woke, startled and instinctively sat up, knocking me off and down onto the floor. "Ow."
"Danny? Whaisit? Whashapp'nin?" He garbled, waving his arms around in what looked like a poor attempt at karate chops. I might have laughed, if my spine didn't hurt so much.
"Nothing. Nothing's happening. I just lost my balance, sorry." I stood up, careful not to cause any more damage, and dusted myself off.
Hagrid mumbled something about 'being more careful' before laying back down and rolling onto his side so that he was facing me. He gaze found mine as his lids began to fall. After about a second, his eyes shot open once more.
"Woah," he blurted, slowly pulling himself up.
"What?" I narrowed my eyes, wondering why my room-mate suddenly looked like he'd seen a ghost. Figuratively speaking. The man shook his head.
"Yeh look… different."
"Different?" Sure I felt a little heavier and my mind was still spinning from my nightmare but I didn't think I was being…
My hand shot to my chest. Crud. Crud. Crud. The heartbeat… the heaviness. Almost too scared to look, my head lowered.
Rather than the pjs I'd changed into last night, a white and red T-shirt covered my torso, and the worn jeans that I loved too much to throw away sat on my hips. Not to mention, I was also wearing sneakers. In a last ditch effort to prove myself wrong, I pulled a strand of my hair down in front of my eyes. It wasn't white. "Seriously?"
"I can explain!" I yelped. This wasn't good. Nothing about this was good. Years of hiding my secret and I give it away to a wizard in the space of a single week. I glanced around the room in panic, looking for something – anything that could remedy this. "I can… explain..." Come on Universe, help me out just this once.
"The sedative spell," Hagrid muttered, realisation dawning on his face. His announcement halted my racing thoughts.
"It shoulda put yeh to sleep fer a week."
It had been a week? Crud. I'd been so wrapped up in the whole 'Wizarding Universe" thing that it had completely slipped my mind. When I thought about getting my human half back… I don't know, I just assumed I'd be conscious. More fool me.
"This is yer true form, isn' it?" Hagrid leant forward, face gleaming with what I guessed was excitement. "The spell worked but on'y on this image."
"So yer not a ghost? Or you are and this is jus' somethin' that yer typ'a ghost can do. Do all yer ghosts have a second image? Like… camouflage?"
"No, it's not like that, it's-" My mind struggled to keep up with what was happening.
"And the kid – the one tha' helped yeh in Carlisle. Tha' was you. Yeh changed yer image. There was no kid."
Aaaand I'd had enough. I did the one thing I knew would stop the rambling. I let rings of white light form around my centre and spread across the rest of my body. Within seconds, my heart stopped, and the familiar lightness of my ghost form lifted me slightly from the ground. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted my suit replace itself on the chair beside me.
It had the desired effect. Hagrid's mouth snapped shut, eyes wide and scanning the form he was much more familiar with.
"It's not an image," I began. I could have lied. I could have told Hagrid that he was right and that this was all just some form of disguise. But the more I thought about it, the less sense it made. I was living with this guy. Now that my human half was back in play, I couldn't stay in ghost form all the time. And how would I explain the sudden hunger? The breathing? The heart beat? He'd figure it out at some point. "I wasn't… Not all ghosts… I'm just… Okay."
I stopped, ran a hand through my hair and started again.
"I'm half ghost. Like… a ghost-human hybrid. Or I guess a ghost-muggle hybrid," I added, remembering the term for 'non-magical' people.
The wonder in Hagrid's eyes instantly vanished. I couldn't say what it was replaced with, but it was definitely darker. I gulped, hoping I hadn't made a mistake.
"Yer not dead?"
"I'm half dead."
"How's tha-" His words seemed to catch in his throat as he spoke. "How's tha' then?"
"Honestly? No idea. I had this… accident over a year ago and… well I should have died. Instead," I gestured awkwardly down at myself, trying to ignore the uncomfortable way in which Hagrid shifted on his bed.
"An' exac'ly half, is it?" he grunted.
"Well, I mean… I've never tested it." I probably could if I wanted to. My parents lab tech was expansive enough. But the risk of leaving evidence somewhere was too high. I knew a bit about computers, but not enough to completely wipe off any stored data. What if they had it linked wirelessly to some place else? I guess Tuck would know...
"Right." Hagrid rubbed at his eyes with two colossal fingers.
I couldn't help but chew on the side of my lip.
"Please. Don't tell anyone about this. Not even my parents know and I-"
"Parents?" His voice shot higher, accompanied with something of a bitter laugh.
"You… live with them?"
"They any idea where yeh are?"
I'm not even entirely sure where I am. I sighed, electing not to answer the question. Just the mention of them sent a pang of anxiety and homesickness through my chest. I was supposed to be back any day now. A week or two. I'd been off the grid with Jazz, Sam and Tucker for way too long, no doubt they were worrying themselves witless. I should never have left.
"Promise me you won't say anything." My voice sounded hollow. I didn't like it. Looking so pathetic in front of a guy I'd known for such a short time… Before I was fully aware of what was happening, Hagrid stood, and wrapped his arms around me in what I supposed was intended to be a comforting gesture. Oddly enough, it worked. With his enormity, it was almost like a hug from Dad. After about a minute, he pulled away.
"Wonder why I'm not like any o' the witches or wizards yeh've met so far?" He asked, softly. Recollecting myself, I shrugged. Sure I'd thought about it… but not extensively. I just figured it was a genes thing. "Yer not the on'y hybrid in this hut," the man confessed, using an arm to steer me to the arm chair. Before I could ask what he meant, he'd pulled up his own chair and settled beside me.
"Half giant on meh mum's side. If you was a wizard, yeh'd know tha'… well giants aren' exac'ly the friendliest of folk. They're gen'rly seen as… vicious an' unkind creatures. So nat'rly, mos' people who know abou' me, tend to make the same assumption. But, at least I'm not a werewolf. Lemme tell yeh, those guys get treated horribly." Hagrid shook his head in disgust. "Trust me, Danny. The las' thing I'd do is out you to any witch or wizard. We might be advanced in some ways, but acceptance ain't somethin' we're all tha' great at."
And suddenly Hagrid's sudden change in mood made sense. Half giant. Well that cleared up the size thing. I didn't even want to think about how that happened. I gave him a small lopsided smile to show that I was grateful. He didn't have to tell me his secret, but he had. To make me feel better. It was really… nice.
"Can I see you?" the half giant asked, startling me yet again. A little of his earlier excitement returned. "The living you."
I hesitated, cocking my head slightly in an attempt to tell whether or not he was serious. I mean… I guess it wasn't that odd of a request but…
Shrugging, I called on my human half. I had to admit, the sensation of breathing again was incredible. Strange how you miss the small things.
"Amazin'," Hagrid murmured. "Can I…?" He gestured to my wrist. Cautiously, I moved it closer. His fingers probed at the veins, searching for a pulse. I'm guessing he found it, because an enormous grin formed on his face within a matter of seconds. The situation was made even more uncanny by the fact that my wrist and his fingers were about the same width. Before long, he pulled away.
"Strong as a centaur's." I'm guessing that was supposed to be a compliment, especially after my encounter a few days back.
"Thanks. I think."
"Chin up, Danny. Yeh'll be outta here before yeh know it and yeh can fly home to yer family and tell 'em that yeh've never been better. We'll have to get you a proper good excuse before you head back." Hagrid leant over and gave my forearm a pat. I scoffed. My friend's would probably have come up with an array of excuses themselves by the time I was back. But the thought of Hagrid trying to come up with a good excuse for a muggle teenager to disappear would be fun to watch, so I nodded.
"Don't mention it."
A second later, my stomach gave another loud growl. I raised a hand to the back of my neck.
"You don't happen to have any human food in here do you?"
AN: Hey guys! Oh wow. I am so sorry it has taken so long to get this out to you - but I'm guessing by now you can tell why it was so difficult to write. So many different Hagrid reactions to filter through! So yeah!
Love you guys, thanks for sticking with me on this one.