Hogwarts and the Wolf in the Fold

Voldemort puts a spy into Hogwarts.
Set during the year of the Half-blood Prince.


24. A Fright in the Dark

A Fright in the Dark

David continued with his studies throughout February and he worked alongside Susan, who also kept him company at night in the Hufflepuff common room. On Tuesday evenings the Hufflepuff quidditch team practiced down at the pitch and this provided David with the perfect excuse to be out of sight of Susan and to do a little poking around in the castle.
Susan liked to watch the quidditch matches, but she wasn’t so keen on going out in the cold just to watch the team practice. David took the opportunity and resolved to hide somewhere quiet in the stadium and to enter Dusty for a night-time flight.
There was an upcoming match against Gryffindor and the team needed to get in all the practice that they could, so David told Susan that he was going to watch and she was much happier to stay in the warm castle.
That night he went out with the team and their followers-on and with Dusty dancing excitedly on his shoulder, he dodged off to one side as they went inside the quidditch stadium.
The inside of the stadium was brightly lit with lamps around the top edges of the stands. The goal hoops also glowed eerily green. It was certainly light enough to see the quaffle and bludgers, but David guessed that the golden snitch would be practically impossible to see under the artificial sunlight.
With a thrill of anticipation he walked around the outside of the building until he came across a door that was unlocked when he tried the handle. Through the door was a dark space that looked like some sort of storeroom.
David went inside and put a locking spell on the door. He then lay down and without further ado he closed his eyes and performed the incantation inside his head that would take him into Dusty’s body.
It only took a moment for him to realise that he could no longer get out of the room, so he had to return to his own body and unlock the door. He then opened it wide enough for Dusty to sneak through and entered the bird for a second time.
He hopped through the door and took a quick look around to make sure that there was nobody around to see him. It then struck him that he might have been able to leave Dusty outside the door and to lock it from the inside before entering him.
He stood for a moment debating whether or not he should risk leaving the door open and with his inert body lying on the floor inside. He decided that he would take the risk this time.
He lifted from the ground and headed up towards the castle. His intention was to take a peek through one of the windows of the tower where he now knew that the Gryffindor common room was located.
He soared over the school grounds and revelled in the freedom that flying allowed him, but made sure that he took a wide berth around the whomping willow that stood between the stadium and his route towards the school. The tower that he was looking for was high on one corner of the castle. He flew from window to window, peering in at the occupants.
He had a sudden jolt of fear at the thought that he might be seen, but he thought about it and decided that it was unlikely that anyone would be looking out of a window into the darkness. It was a dark night and he was a black bird, so even if anyone were to glance out of a window they would not be able to make him out.
He passed alongside the highest level of windows and could make out a few people inside the ones whose curtains weren’t shut. His eye was caught by a pair of French doors on the level below that opened up onto a small balcony.
David swooped down and landed on the edge of the balcony and looked in through the doors. Inside he could see a large room with a dining table set in the middle. Sitting at the head of the table and tucking into a plateful of food was Horace Slughorn. Around him were around a dozen students, the only one of whom he could make out was Ginny Weasley. He recognised her shining head of red hair and sat beside her was the bushy-haired Hermione Grainger.
He could see that Slughorn was relating some story or other to them and that they were all amused at one point. There was obvious laughter and clapping from the students and Slughorn looked around happily.
Wishing that he could have stayed and watched the party a little more, David took off and flew upwards towards the corner of the castle. There were many turrets and towers on the roof, at the corners and in the middle. He went to the one that he thought was the Gryffindor tower and spiralled up and around it, peering sideways.
He knew that the tower entrance was on the seventh floor and he was already above that. The first row of windows was indeed those of the Gryffindor common room. Above them were a few smaller windows that showed stone steps inside that led upwards and above these the main tower ended and it became divided into two smaller towers at the very top of the castle.
He guessed correctly that those two towers were the girls and boys dormitories of the Gryffindor students. Seven levels of windows indicated the bedrooms of the students of different years.
He didn’t want to waste time trying to find Harry Potter’s dormitory, so he concentrated on finding the window with the best view inside the common room.
One complete circuit of the tower revealed that only two windows didn’t have closed curtains or furniture in the way, so David perched himself on the one that was to the side of the fireplace and behind the sofas facing towards it.
There were plenty of students inside. Some were playing games of various sorts and others were reading books, chatting together, or just practicing wand movements.
David again spotted the flaming red hair of another Weasley. It was Ron and he was playing a game of wizard’s chess with Harry Potter. He could also see Colin and Dennis Creavey sitting nearby and whispering to each other.
There was a sense of satisfaction that he had managed to spy upon Harry Potter, but the fact that he was doing something so mundane was disappointing.
He then remembered that he also had wanted to check the seventh floor corridor again, where he had seen Draco Malfoy entering the secret room.
He wasn’t disappointed this time and he grinned inside with satisfaction as he looked in through the corridor window and saw two girls standing sulkily at each end.
‘He’s in there again.’ Thought David. He had forgotten to tell Voldemort about this part of Malfoy’s behaviour, but now that he had been told by his Master to ignore him, he was torn between his orders and his own curiosity.
‘I’ll just keep an eye on him for myself.’ He decided.
All the flying had given David a bit of an appetite and he made his way back towards the quidditch stadium.
Just as he was getting near, there was a terrifying screech above his head and something huge banged against his body. He just enough sense to roll sideways away from it and to his horror he saw that an enormous beaked head had tried to grab him.
His heart raced and blood rushed to his head as he raced downwards to get away from the creature. He could now see that it was some kind of giant bird like an eagle, but the size of it was incredible. It was as big as a horse and in fact had the body of one.
He swerved this way and that to try to get away, but it was as fast as he was. His only chance was to keep dodging, as it was not as manoeuvrable. He was almost crying with fear.
Just as he was beginning to give up, he heard a shrill whistling sound coming from the direction of Hagrid’s hut and at that sound the bird-creature banked away and disappeared into the gloom.
Tears filled his eyes as he swooped down into the room that held his body and he performed the counter-spell to return him to his body.
He lay there in a cold sweat and trembled at the thought of what had just happened. It was a long while before he had the courage to peep around the door to see if the thing was still flying around outside.
When he was sure that the coast was clear, he placed Dusty on his shoulder and dashed out towards the entrance to the stadium. The team practice was still going on inside so David sat down quietly behind the watchers, breathing a huge sigh of relief.
When the practice was over, he went back to the common room with the others, picking up a few ham sandwiches along the way and a mug of hot cocoa from the great hall supper table.
Alone in his room later, he vowed to be more careful when he was out and about inside Dusty. Meanwhile, Dusty sat at his usual perch on the back of the armchair and glared at David.
A few days after his close encounter, during a Care of Magical Creatures lesson David asked Hagrid what sort of creatures lived in around the forest. Hagrid told him about the centaurs, unicorns, spiders and thestrals. Most of the class knew all about these larger animals, but few of them had heard about the giant arachnids.
It was then that David learned that the creature that had attacked him was probably a hippogriff. The description that Hagrid gave him of his own favourite, Witherwings, was enough to convince David and to reinforce his decision to avoid flying at night in the forest at all costs.
The lesson that day was concerned with mythological creatures that featured in ancient muggle fables from Egypt and Greece.
They were given long descriptions of sphinxes, harpies and chimaera. Hagrid seemed to have an incredible amount of knowledge on the subject. Finally, he surprised them all with a visit to a giant three-headed dog that was kept in a kennel not too far into the forest.
The students gaped with awe at the beast, as it pulled on its chain and barked alarmingly at then.
“Don’ worry.” Said Hagrid.
“He’s harmless really. Just a big softie, aren’t you boy?” He continued and going over to the animal, he tickled it under two of its chins.
Unbelievably, it rolled over onto its back and allowed Hagrid to tickle its belly and ruffle the middle head. One of his hind legs jerked involuntarily with pleasure at the attention he was receiving.
Hagrid asked whether any of the students would like to take a turn, but there were no takers of his offer.
It was a most unusual lesson and David wondered to himself about how many other creatures that muggles didn’t know about were roaming around the world. He didn’t know if he should feel amazed that the creatures existed, or shocked that the majority of the population was ignorant of the dangers lurking in the dark places of the world.
“Sir, why do muggles not know about these animals?” He asked Hagrid.
“Good question, that.” He replied.
“The Ministry o’ Magic has a group of people called the Department fer the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. They issue permits to let wizards keep the useful ones as pets and make sure tha’ the dangerous ones stay in reservation areas around the country.”
“But what happens if one of them gets out of the reservation?” David continued.
“Well, that ‘appens every now and again.” Hagrid chuckled.
“Then the muggles have to have their memories erased, if they saw ‘em.”
David thought that this sounded a bit hit-and-miss and he thought about how stories about things like the Loch Ness monster must have started.
“Right.” Said Hagrid.
“Since none of yer would ‘shake a paw’ with Fluffy, yer can all give me a foot of parchment on the care of ancient magical creatures. That’s yer homework. To be handed in by Monday.”
They all groaned and made their way back to Hagrid’s hut.

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