Hagrid's Heart

No one can do Harry Potter like J.K. does Harry Potter, yet still, we all try, and I'm no exception. Hagrid deserves his own happy ending, so here goes: She is a threat to everyone, yet what she needs most is a champion, but who among the wizarding world could ever love a dangerous, magical creature? (Chapter 1)

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1. Indigo Child

Hair and hands and heart, or heartless. If all living things are made up of the sum of their parts, the creature that sat huddled on the cold stone floor did not add up to much.  

As it inventoried its body, it ran a hand over its hair, so severely matted it was indistinguishable from the rags it wore tied around its emaciated frame.  

The creature flexed its fingers, and was momentarily mesmerized by the cracks that appeared in the dirt on the back of its blackened knuckles. Hands. It had hands and they still functioned.  

The hand moved to the thing’s chest and it thumped the protruding ribs that covered the place where a heart should be. And there it was, the tha-bump, tha-bump, tha-bump of some internal organ making the pretense of beating.  

The beast turned its hand over and opened its palm to reveal a thin stone there. Taking it between its thumb and fingers, it gave the stone a flick of its tongue, and proceeded to write with it against another flat stone, “T-E-N-U-O-U-S.” It gave the writing stone another quick lick, “G-R-I-P  O-N  R-E-A-L-I-T-Y.” It meant to continue the missive, but a clank at the door made it freeze.  

The jangle of keys outside the door came through like a gong to the sensory deprived beast. Hastily, it took the stone on which it had been writing and shoved it, writing side in, into a hole in the wall, a hole that fit the stone nearly perfect. The beast scooped up a handful of tiny pebbles from a tin pan on the floor and dumped them into a funnel it had constructed of another tin pan and rhythmically, the pebbles dropped through. That was how long it took the Keepers to open the door of the cell.  

Never leaving its knees, the creature crawled back to the hidden stone letter and from the floor there, it scooped up a mouthful of cement dust and wallowed the chalky bits around in its mouth. It did not have enough saliva to reach the consistency it needed. Crawling back to the corner of the cell, it stooped and sucked from the puddle of water that resulted from a moist trickle down the wall. The creature rolled the paste with its tongue, then spit it into its filthy hands. Its palm served as mortar board and its broken twisted nails, the trowel.  

Another key turned in a different lock. The creature winced at the sound, tipping its head toward its shoulder as if that would somehow dampen the noise. The pebbles ping-pinged into the tin plate, but it was used to that sound.  

The creature crawled back to the hiding spot and there, it daubed the paste into the nearly invisible seam. Rubbing it into the crack, it hid its treasure.  

The third key clanked in the last lock. The pebbles ran out and the creature turned its body against the wall, a sheltering hand over its matted head of hair and the other working hurriedly to hide the seam. Without this one outlet, it knew it would go completely mad, if it wasn’t already.  

The door opened and two Keepers spoke in normal tones that sounded deafening to the creature. It put both hands over its ears.  

“And here ‘tis,” the regular Keeper revealed.  

“Cain’t see a thing in here.”  

The click of a flashlight being switched on preceded the blinding glare. The light was bandied about the cell. “Where is it?” the novice keeper asked.  

“There.”  

The beam was shone on its head and the creature averted its face and pulled the nest of rags around its body.  

“Lawdy! What a stink!”  

The shuffling of rags raised the stench that the beast had long since ceased to notice.  

“Is it ‘live?”  

The novice Keeper jabbed it with a stick and the creature bleated out in pain and distress. The man fell back on his ass. The regular Keeper chuckled under his breath without confessing the last time he had attempted something similar and the creature had wailed, he had nearly pissed himself.  

“Zat answer your question?”  

The younger man scrambled to his feet, taking three steps back, ensuring that he could get to the door before the creature could get to him.  

“This ain’t right!” he complained. “They sent us in here with no protection at all, save a couple of cattle prods, and what’re we s’posed to do with it?”  

“We take it with us.”  

At this, the creature’s heart froze and it turned its head slowly in the direction of the Keepers, squinting and shielding its eyes. Had it heard right?  

“I’m not touchin’ that thing.” The younger man pointed with what must be the afore mentioned cattle prod.  

“Don’t need to touch it. Sheesh. Ifin you did, you couldn’t wash off the stink in a week of washin’s.” The older man pulled out a matching prod and powered it on. The stick hummed to life and the creature felt its hair stand on end from the electro-magnetic strangeness of it.  

“Tell me, one jab of this thing could kill it. Sensory deprived, it is. Its brain wouldn’t know what to make of a jolt like this and it’d keel over dead if we touched it.”  

The beasts eyes followed the prod. It had no inclination to fight its Keepers. The old man was the one that fed it. And as for its Captors, resistence would only give them what they wanted – a performance by the beast. The creature had long since learned to bear whatever came its way from both Keepers and Captors. Torture was easier to bear than the humiliation of a performance.  

“Well, it don’t seem to be in a mind for moving on its own.”  

“Hmph,” the older Keeper snorted. “Not sure it can walk any more. Been locked up in here so long, it prob’ly just slithers around like a snake. Looks like it’s wallowed in foulness. Maybe can’t….”  

But the man snapped his teeth together with a loud click as the creature, the mound of filthy rags and matted hair, shuttered and slowly, began to rise up from the floor.  

The young man stepped back into the open doorway. The older man held his ground, but waved the prod between himself and the beast.  

Haltingly, the creature took a step and the stench that grew from the rags it wore wafted up with it.  Hunched over as it was, perhaps weighted down by the layers of soiled cloth and dirt, it was difficult to tell how tall it stood.  

The creature’s hair, a muddy brown, was matted and hung almost as long as the rags with which it covered itself. It peered out between matted locks, the only sign of intelligence, coming from green eyes that shuttered themselves from the intensity of the flash light beam.  

The older Keeper waved his prod and stepped back, motioning for it to precede him. The beast bent at the waist, indicating that it understood the direction. It shuffled toward the door and the younger Keeper stepped backwards, out into the hall, but never took his eyes from the creature.  

“Cain’t see a blessed thing in this hall.”  

“Orders was not to turn on the lights yet. Save for me, creature ain’t seen a soul in over a year. Lord knows, the sight of your mug could send it over the edge.”  

The creature glanced over its shoulder, keeping a wary eye on the Keeper behind who had the activated cattle prod and despite his preachings to the younger Keeper, would probably use it without much provocation. The younger Keeper walked backwards down the hall, probably afraid if he turned his back on the creature it would pounce on him.  

The creature only worried that it was being taken to a different cell – one without a hole through which messages could be written and received.  

Its days were measured around sleeping, feeding, writing on the rock, feeding, checking the niche for treasures, then roll call, followed by more sleeping. It had no idea how long it slept each night, but the incarceration had gone on for two hundred, seventy-three cycles. Without the link to the writing stone and the person on the other side with whom it communicated daily, it knew it would have gone mad a long time ago.  

On the other side of the stone wall had been housed the office of a clerk within the Ministry. The creature knew very little about the man despite their two hundred, seventy-three written exchanges. It knew that the man was the father of seven children, six boys and one girl. The man had described, in brief, his home life with a robust woman who was as good a mother as she was a wife and the creature was certain, it was to this woman it owed much thanks for her charity. Through her husband, she sent the creature small gifts of food. The creature would accept nothing that couldn’t be destroyed or consumed for fear that its Keepers would discover the conduit to sanity. Only once had the creature seen the man’s face. A ruddy complexion had smiled through the hole made by another stone having been removed by the man behind a file cabinet in his office. His face had appeared only once, a few cycles ago, and his smile had faltered and been replaced by horror at the sight of the creature.

And that had made the creature sad.  

The creature shuffled its rag wrapped feet along the passage and wrapped its arms around its middle in an effort to contain the bits that were surely only being held together by filth. Its senses strained beyond overload as they approached a dim light that shone from around the corner. The beast counted 179 paces.  

“Watch yerself there, Bob. This one moves a lot better than it lets on. Probably been keepin’ itself fit while it was in there. Had a good number of years to train for a break like today.”  

The creature listened, but puzzled over the words. Had it been years – multiple - since its confinement here? That wasn’t possible, was it?  

The younger man winced as though the sight of the creature pained him. “They should put it outta its misery.”  

“True ‘nough. True ‘nough. Didn’t come in here lookin’ this bad, but, not my place to question my betters 'mongst the Ministry.”  

The creature looked up again from under its mat at the young man. He was unpredictable – not like the old Keeper. He was frightened by it. Frightened people, like animals, could not be relied upon to behave in usual patterns. And this man, spooked by the sight of the creature’s face, turned on his prod.  

“Why do you think they keep it down here?”  

The older man snorted. “Danger to society. What else?”  

“Don’t look too dangerous.” The young man paused, glanced over his shoulder to see where he was walking, then turned back to the beast, continuing to walk backwards down the hall.  

“What more do you think they’ll do to the creature?”  

Waiting for the old Keeper’s answer, the beast looked over its shoulder at him. The old Keeper shrugged and, upon noticing that the beast appeared to be waiting for his answer too, he waved his prod to indicate it should keep moving.  

“I don’t know, Boy.” He pinched his nose, grimaced and waved the beast forward. “I sure hope they turn a hose on it though. Stinks worse from behind than from front, I’m sure.”  

The creature’s steps slowed as they approached a turn in the hallway. The light that cut across the hall in a pale wedge, would be blindingly painful when they turned the corner. It put its filthy hand to the wall for support and guidance, knowing that neither of the Keepers would take it by the arm to lead it once blinded. It would have to keep moving or face punishment with a cattle prod.  

The young man in front stopped and held up his prod, indicating that the creature should stop too. They had traversed another thirteen paces, more than twice the depth of the creatures cell.  

“I cain’t do this, Jimmy.” Like the older man, he pinched his nose too. Everyone came to a halt. “This is sick. We could put it outta its misery. Give it a double jolt – from both sides. We could say it tried to escape or something. Nobody’d be at fault.”

“You’re barkin’, Bob. How do you think that’d look to Mr. Weasley? For three years he politics to get possession of this creature and the mornin’ it’s getting’ delivered, it drops dead of a double jolt of cattle prod. You wanna try to convince me wouldn’t nobody think nothin’ of that? Pshh.” He swore under his breath. “I should take a prod to you for such a foolish thought.”  

The young man held his prod like he was still deciding whether or not to attempt the deed on his own, but finally, he relaxed – a bit – and turned a cautious back on the creature and turned the second corner in the hall.  

The creature breathed a sigh of relief. So it was the older Keeper it should keep close. The young one was scared and felt some warped sense of compassion. Best to keep its eyes focused on the one in front.  

And then it rounded the corner and the light was blinding, and the creature clutched the wall and forced itself to push onward. With its free hand, it tried to shield its eyes from the intensity of the light.  

“Almost there, ya beast,” the old Keeper muttered from behind. There was a note of pity in his voice. He recognized the creature’s pain even if he refused to end it for its own sake. “Then the problem is his and I’ll be glad of it. Been feedin’ ya and lookin’ in on your sorry carcass for three years now and I cain’t say it’s gonna be a loss to me to not have that task anymore.”  

Change, any change, was both welcome and horrifying to the creature that had made of study of continuity and cycles, but how, it puzzled, could it have been so wrong about the time? Perhaps, it wondered, the Keeper was mistaken. It could not have been three years ago that it had been brought to the Firm in a cage with an electrified floor. Only its own fear had driven it to perform for its Keepers and eventually, the fear had given way to learned helplessness and it ceased to entertain. That was when it had been thrown into the cell for “observation.”  

Another turn in the hall was marked by a brighter light. The creature could tell through eyes that were clamped shut and its steps slowed to shuffles.  

The young Keeper in the front knocked at a door and the absence of footfalls in front of it was the only direction the creature had to halt. It winced, still keeping a hand over its eyes and tried to receive direction from the Keeper behind it. It did not think it possible, but even more light flooded out of the room as the door there was opened. They had come half-circle and the creature was certain, this door led to the room on the opposite side of its cell wall.  

“Your new charge, Mr. Weasley.”  

“Good God, Man. You didn’t think to warn me?”  

The creature could hear this man, Weasley, scrambling in the room, but the creature relaxed when it felt the lights dim.  

“These was my orders this mornin’ when I come to work. I was to bring the creature to you for further study and de-sen-si-ti….” The man trailed off. The word was too much for him.  

“Desensitization. The creatures been kept in a darkened cell for three years. The shock of all this might have killed it.”  

“I don’t know no more than they tell me, Mr. Weasley.”  

“You don’t know what they do tell you. And put those things away. You won’t be needing those.”  

“I got my orders, Mr. Weasley.”  

“Well, I’m changing the orders.” His tone softened. “You’ve performed your duty well. You can leave us now.”  

“Then you’ll be wanting this, Sir.”  

The creature flinched as it felt the electro-magnetic hum of the prod passing past it.  

“I hardly think so.” Mr. Weasley's tone was horrified, but he seemed to understand the fear that compels stupid animals to behave as they do. “Thank you, Gentlemen. Your services will no longer be required.”  

The young Keeper was more than happy to be out of the close room with its sensory and hygiene deprived occupant. The older Keeper was more reluctant.  

“I cain’t do it, Mr. Weasley. You should have some protection about you. The man upstairs won’t be pleased if we was to let anything happen to you.”  

“Believe me, the man upstairs won’t be all that saddened by the loss.”  

The creature was puzzled by the man’s tone. This Mr. Weasley was not afraid of it and he made jokes about the potential hazard of being alone with a creature such as itself.  

“Well, docile as a lamb it was when we took it outta its cell just now.” The Keeper backed toward the door with his fingers pinched tight around his nose. “Cain’t say I envy you your job, Mr. Weasley. You sure now?” And he thrust out the prod once more in invitation.  

The creature cracked its eyes open just a bit. It could see a dim silhouette that was this Mr. Weasley. He was back lit and washed in light. The Keeper was a dark shadow in a darker doorway.  

“I’m sure. I’ve got things from here.”  

The Keeper backed out, then turned shaking his head. Mr. Blinkers waited a moment and the creature felt, better than it saw, as the unafraid Mr. Weasley moved past it and closed the door on the Keeper’s heels.  

As soon as the door was closed, he moved past again, this time, going to the opposite corner where he turned off a lamp.  

The creature slowly lowered its hand from its eyes and blinked gingerly. It was an office and the only light on in the room came from a flashlight that lay on the desk and pointed away from them. The beast, covered in filthy rags and matted hair, reeking of foulness, stood in a pristine though Spartan office.  

Mr. Weasley rushed about and pulled up a chair to the side of the creature. The beast thought he meant to sit there for its interrogation, but instead, he extended his hand in invitation.

“There now. Sit down if you like, Miss Prince. You’re among friends now.”

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