Hogwarts and the Wolf in the Fold

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

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18. More Questions and Coincidences

 More Questions and Coincidences

David was so busy in the next few weeks that he hardly had time to think about beginning his real task. He had mountains of homework to keep up with and it was made difficult because he didn’t have an immediate grasp of many of the subjects. He often had to trawl his way through his memories to find spells that were tucked away.
He knew that the answers to many questions were in there somewhere, but they were not always immediately to hand. It was frustrating for him, but in class it had no real effect. The others simply thought that he had difficulty in understanding what was being said, or that he was just plain stupid.
During one Care of Magical Creatures lesson, Hagrid asked David if he would like to come and visit him for tea and cakes and that he could bring along Dusty. David thought that Hagrid might be feeling sorry for him, but it didn’t bother him at all and he readily agreed.
Later that evening he made his way down to Hagrid’s hut and knocked at the door. There was a loud barking from inside and after a few shouts of ‘Quiet, Fang!’ the door was opened and Hagrid’s head popped out.
“Only keep you a minute, David.” He said.
“I’ll just let Fang go outside for a run. He’s been cranky all day.”
A big brown dog bundled David aside as it raced down the steps and made its way towards the vegetable patch for a sniff around.
“Come in. The kettle’s just boiled and I’ve got a hot batch of rock cakes just out of the oven.” He beckoned to David.
David went inside and took a good look around the room. It was a fairly rickety stonewalled building and was filled inside with all manner of interesting objects.
There were glass cases with small animals inside and cages piled on high in the corner. There was a roaring fire and wooden chairs around a large table. It looked homely enough, but also a bit of a disaster area so far as tidying up was concerned.
Hagrid came over from the kitchen area carrying a tray holding a teapot, mugs and a plate of cakes.
“Help yerself.” He said.
“There’s no need to stand on ceremony here. Sit yerself down and tuck in.”
David shrugged to himself and chose a big cake full of fat brown raisins. The rock cake certainly lived up to its name. It was very hard but also very tasty. The tea was also strong and milky, just as David liked it.
He gave the occasional crumb to Dusty who was standing on his shoulder, making David look like some sort of pirate.
Hagrid sat down on the flowery patterned settee and popped a whole cake into his mouth. He smiled warmly as he chewed on the cake and then after swallowing it, he took an enormous swig of tea out of his mug.
“How is your raven tonight then?” He asked David, while looking closely at Dusty.
“He’s the same as usual, I guess. It’s hard to know what he’s feeling. He never does much other than follow me around and then disappear now and again to get some food.” He replied.
“It’s very nice having a familiar, but having him follow me around all the time gets very tiring after a while.”
Hagrid nodded and tickled Dusty under the beak with his big forefinger.
“Amazin’ creatures they are.” Hagrid said and ran his tongue around his teeth, trying to loosen some of the raisins that had lodged in the gaps.
“It’s nice havin’ somethin’ intrestin’ to chat about.” He said.
“I don’t often get a chance to talk to students out of class nowadays. Not since they all stopped takin’ Care of Magical Creatures.” He added.
“What do you mean?” Asked David.
“Well.” Stammered Hagrid.
“I used to get regular visits from Harry Potter and Ron and Hermione. I don’t know if you know them. But since they dropped my subject I don’t see any point in invitin’ them round any more.”
David grinned to himself.
“Sorry to hear that, but I guess there are just too many subjects to choose from and only a limited amount of time in the week.” David consoled him.
“At least you know that all of us taking the NEWT level exams are really keen on the subject and not just doing it as a soft option.”
“Yer, I suppose that’s true enough.” Said Hagrid and took another big gulp of tea.
“Oh, by the way. I just remembered something that I found the other day that might interest you.”
He reached over to one of shelves beside him and picked up a sheet of paper that he handed to David. It was a photograph of a group of people.
David looked at Hagrid quizzically.
“Order of the Phoenix.” He told him.
David’s eyes widened. He had heard that name a number of times now and he knew that it had something to do with Dumbledore. Hagrid began to point out some of the people in the picture.
“There’s Professor Dumbledore at the back. You can always spot him easy ‘cause he’s so much taller than everyone else.”
“The bloke on the other side there is his brother Aberforth.”
David’s eyes glistened as he took in the information and watched the little figures in the picture moving around and waving at the camera.
“A lot of the people in the picture are dead now.” He added and David frowned, disappointed that the Dark Lord wouldn’t be interested in people who were no longer around.
“That man looks like Harry Potter!” Exclaimed David, as he noticed a couple who were arm-in-arm and messing around alongside a laughing dark-haired handsome man.
“Ohh yer, that’s Harry’s mum and dad. Killed by you-know-who. Very sad.”
David humpfed, but Hagrid was too engrossed in the photograph to notice.
“This is the man I wanted yer to see. He was called Arcturus McKinnon. He was the other Hogwarts student who had a familiar. It was a raven, just like yours.”
David looked closely at the man in the picture. He was stood beside a young woman who had her arm through the crook of his own. A slight shiver ran up and down his spine as he watched the woman speak wordlessly towards the camera.
Her eyes were so friendly, so familiar to him but he couldn’t place exactly where from. He looked at her for a long time and then back at the man. The man also looked familiar. In fact, he looked an awful lot like David himself.
David looked up at Hagrid and received a huge grin in reply to his questioning look.
“Heh, I thought you’d be surprised. He must be a distant relative of yours. You’ve got some of his looks alright. Do you have any English relatives at all?” He asked.
David shook his head. He was dumbstruck. The whole situation was as bizarre as anything he had experienced before. Even the raven seemed to have a look of Dusty about it. Admittedly all birds looked alike to David, but there was just a spark of similarity in the way that they both moved.
He had been telling the other students that his mother was English, which was why he could speak the language fluently. However, he felt that he didn’t want to say anything to Hagrid at this point.
“Both of ‘em were killed not long after this picture was taken. It’s a cryin’ shame. So many of the best people were lost at that time.”
“What happened to the bird after he was killed?” Asked David.
“I dunno.” Said Hagrid.
“I read that familiars go back to where they come from when their human partner dies, but I’m not sure if they die too. There’s not much known about them, that’s why I ‘d like to borrow yours a few times if you don’t mind me askin’?” Hagrid blushed deeply.
David wasn’t offended by the suggestion and he readily agreed.
“Sure. I’ll leave him here now if you like and you can keep him for a week or so.”
“Aww thanks so much.” Said Hagrid.
“It’ll be a real treat for me and I promise to look after him for yer.”
They both smiled and helped themselves to more rock cakes.
The evening passed very happily for David and Hagrid enthralled him with stories of some of the creatures that he had owned and cared for. David was particularly interested in the dragon that Hagrid had hatched from an egg and he couldn’t believe that he hadn’t burned down his home in the attempt.
He was also excited because this would give him the opportunity to enter Dusty and to spy on Hagrid without him knowing.
David left Dusty with Hagrid and the bird didn’t seem too happy at the idea. He had pecked Hagrid’s hand when he was first handed over, but Hagrid hadn’t felt a thing and saw it as a sign of affection.
The next day David was already planning in his mind for the visit to Hagrid’s hut, but his concentration was broken during the double herbology lesson. Susan told him about a bit of fun planned for the next morning, which was a Saturday.
Hannah had overheard Harry Potter and Ron Weasley talking about tryouts for the Gryffindor quidditch team, which were to take place tomorrow.
So, the Hufflepuffs were thinking of turning up at the tryouts to take a look at the opposition and to try to sabotage the proceedings. Either that or they would have a laugh at the expense of Harry Potter and the other Gryffindors.
David sniggered with glee as Susan whispered in his ear. He could see Potter and his friends chatting excitedly, as they snipped away at little silvery-leafed trees. The class was trimming a collection of ringing bellflower trees, the leaves of which could then be used in brewing potions.
The bellflowers that the trees produced in spring were used in magical alarm clocks and egg-timers.
David continued with the rest of the lesson, conspiring with Susan and Hannah. They were having a really fun time when suddenly the class was interrupted by the appearance of Professor Flitwick.
“What’s he doing in here?” Wondered Susan.
The little charms Master spoke quickly into Professor Sprout’s ear and she put her hand to her mouth to suppress a cry of shock.
With a shaking voice Professor Sprout then called towards them.
“Hannah Abbot, could you please get your things together and follow Professor Flitwick. Thank you. Quick as you can please.”
They looked at each other in surprise, raising their eyebrows and shrugging their shoulders. Hannah grabbed her books and stuffed them into her bag and with a wave to them she said.
“I guess someone wants to scupper our plans for tomorrow.”
When Hannah was gone and Professor Sprout could see her and Professor Flitwick disappearing around the corner, she turned to the class and in a trembling voice she told them what had happened.
“Hannah is being rushed back home from the school. We just got an owl from the Ministry of Magic Law Enforcement Department saying that Hannah’s mother was found dead.”
There was a scream from Susan and cries of shock and fear from almost everyone else. Susan burst into tears and grabbed hold of David who tried to comfort her.
“Please try to keep calm.” Said Professor Sprout.
“We’ll finish the class for the day. Everyone pack up and make your way back to the school. Please respect Hannah’s privacy if you see her there. Good day to you.”
The splendid dinner that night was eaten in a very subdued atmosphere. Everyone had been looking forward to the morning’s entertainment, but now they just all wanted to get to bed.
Word had already spread to the other houses and David could see students from the other tables looking over at the Hufflepuffs. Hannah was a popular girl and had made many friends in her year. The whole school seemed to be in shock at this sudden tragedy.
After a hurried breakfast the next day, David and the other Hufflepuffs made their way out to the quidditch pitch. David had seen the stadium from the air, but had no idea of what it looked like inside.
He was suitably impressed with the size of it. The pitch itself was longer than it was wide and it must have been five hundred or so feet long. There were tall wooden viewing areas around the outside edges, as well as seating around the pitch itself.
The huge hoops at the ends of the pitch produced shadows in the morning sun that loomed over the seats where a crowd of people had already gathered.
He had a strong urge to grab hold of a broomstick and go for a burnout around the pitch. He wondered if he could fly faster than Harry Potter.
Harry Potter walked out to a round of applause from the Gryffindors and raucous boo-ing from everyone else and there seemed to be a lot of ‘everyone else’s.
David watched him intently and Ernie MacMillan nudged him and said.
“Bet you’d like a broomstick like that one, eh?”
David tried to make out the tiny words on the handle of the broomstick that Potter was carrying.
“It’s a Firebolt!” Exclaimed Ernie.
“Fastest broomstick in the world.” He added.
David’s eyes widened as he took in the smooth lines of the broomstick. ‘Could it beat the Featherlite?’ He wondered to himself.
The Hufflepuffs laughed and hugged each other with glee as the first group of students that Potter had selected tried to show off their flying skills. Hardly a one of them could even stay upright on a broom, never mind fly it into the air.
The only boy who did get up into the air flew straight into one of the goalposts. Everyone howled with laughter and Harry Potter threw his arms up in frustration, ordering the group of wizards and witches off the pitch.
The next couple of groups were just as useless. The first one didn’t even bother to attempt to fly, they just fell about laughing and then got ordered away too. The next group took things a bit more seriously and they all at least could fly. They headed out together and raced around the pitch, but somewhere along the way there was a collision between two flyers that caused them to bounce into many of the others. It was a bone-crunching pile-up that impressed nobody and caused Harry Potter to actually jump up and down and throw his parchment and quill onto the floor in disgust.
Each of the next group were dismissed by Potter because they had no broomsticks. Susan then gave the signal for the Hufflepuffs to jump out and ten of them ran out onto the pitch towards Potter.
He didn’t realise what was happening at first, but when Ernie MacMillan shouted.
“Come on Harry, pick me, pick me!”
Potter recognised the voice and then spotted all of the other Hufflepuffs dancing around and pretending to jump onto broomsticks and fall off them. David and Susan did a fairly passable imitation of the two previous Gryffindor flyers crashing into each other and the others all fell about laughing and jumping on each other to imitate the pile-up.
At the first roar from Harry, they all got up and raced off the pitch. They could just hear him shouting in frustration as they left the stadium and made their way back to the castle.
David had spotted Colin and Dennis Creavey waiting in the seats for their turn to have a go at getting onto the Gryffindor team. He waved at them as he ran past and the two brothers returned the greeting and shouted.
“We’re trying out for the team. We’re going to replace the Weasley brothers as beaters.”
Dennis waved a beater’s bat in the air. It was almost as big as he was and it must have been heavy, because he toppled sideways and clonked Colin on the top of the head with it. Colin didn’t seem too bothered by this and David’s last glimpse was of him showing Dennis how to hold it using two hands instead of one.
“Where did Potter get himself a Firebolt from?” David asked Ernie, as the two clutched their sides and slowed down to a walk.
“I heard that he got it from a rich relative of his, a guy called Sirius Black.” Ernie replied.
“Black was put into Azkaban for killing a load of muggles, but escaped and then broke into Hogwarts and tried to kill Potter. But then it turned out that he wasn’t trying to kill him at all. Anyway, he bought the Firebolt for him and that’s why Gryffindor have been winning their quidditch matches. Nobody can match potter for pace when he’s flying the Firebolt.”
David hung around with Susan before lunch and they spent the time with Susan showing David how to play gobstones. It seemed like a pretty pointless pastime to him, but Susan was keen on showing him the ins and outs of it. She told him that she played for Hufflepuff in competitions.
During lunch David thought about entering Dusty again, to see what Hagrid got up to when he was alone. He told Susan that he was going to his room to do a bit of reading and although she appeared to be a bit put out, she still said that she’d call for him later on.
David locked the door of his room and lay down on the bed, his wand clutched tightly in his hand. He closed his eyes and imagined himself inside the strange bird. With a thrill of anticipation, he spoke the incantation inside his head.
Once again there was the now familiar rush and pull, as he left his own body and streamed across the lawns and through the door of Hagrid’s hut.
He was perched on a pole at the far end of the room, away from the fire. Hagrid was bent over, busying himself with something in the other corner. It was only as Hagrid stood up that he saw to his horror that Hagrid was holding a large white maggot.
He brought it over to the table, in order to take a closer look at it under the lamplight. David couldn’t help himself and he let out an involuntary ‘gag’. However, as a bird the sound that came out of his mouth was just a ‘caw’.
Hagrid looked over at him and grinned broadly.
“Hehe, you can’t eat this yer silly bird.”
David froze in terror, thinking that Hagrid would recognise that he was now looking out at him from inside Dusty. But, no! Hagrid turned away and put the maggot back into the barrel that David could now see was sitting in the corner.
Hagrid then wandered out of the room and David heard the front door creaking shut behind him. He took the opportunity to flit around the room and peek into the barrel. The sight was horrible. I t was full of maggots, not just the one that he has seen earlier.
Hearing someone shouting outside, he flew back onto the perch and waited quietly for Hagrid to return. He did come back in, but his mood was completely changed. He seemed angry, or something. He chunnered to himself and then stopped and looked at the door, as someone rapped hard from outside.
Hagrid stood behind the door, peering through the letterbox and after a short exchange of words, he returned and with him were the three Gryffindors: Potter, Grainger and Ron Weasley.
David held his breath and kept as still and silent as was possible, hoping that nobody would spot him and start asking questions.
In the end, there was no need. Their attention was completely drawn by the barrel of maggots. David listened as Hagrid talked with the three friends about the maggots and then about why the three of them were no longer taking Care of Magical Creatures.
‘Pretty boring stuff.’ thought David. However, there was then a mention of them being at the ministry and smashing all of the ‘time turners’. At least, it sounded like that. David wondered what they were and if anyone knew that those three kids had done the smashing of them.
The air in the room then changed completely and Hagrid began to sob and blow his nose. He then proceeded to tell the three about someone called ‘Aragog’, who was very ill and possibly even dying. David listened intently as Hagrid told them that Aragog’s tribe was no longer friendly with him.
David assumed that there were people living in the forest. ‘Wild people’ he thought. He made a mental note to tell Voldemort these little pieces of information.
Before too long, the Gryffindors had finished their mugs of tea and rock cakes that Hagrid had brought out for them. They said their goodbyes to Hagrid and left. As the door closed, Hagrid wiped a few tears from his face and then went over to the fire to warm his hands.
“I knew they wouldn’t have time fer my lessons.” He said to the glowing logs in the hearth.
“Ahh, it’s great ter see ‘em back here though. Best friends I ever ‘ad.”
Hagrid turned around to warm his backside and David saw that he was now smiling happily. For some reason, David found this a little disconcerting. He thought that he should feel jealous that Hagrid was on such good terms with the Gryffindors, especially as he had been invited there for tea himself only the day before.
But, he didn’t feel that way at all. He felt sorry for Hagrid. He was a very kind man who appeared to have a personality as warm as anyone he had ever met before. He was genuinely kind and caring.
With that thought on his mind, he felt himself being drawn out of Dusty and back into his own body.

 

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