6.22

216 2 0
                                                  

The tiny vial of Felix Felicis glimmers in Harry's palm as he, Ron, Hermione, and I huddle in the empty dormitory. We exchange glances, then Harry brings the vial to his lips. Taking about half of it, he hands me the rest. The liquid goes down my throat smoothly.

"Well? How do you feel?" Hermione asks us. We both smile.

"Excellent. Really excellent." Harry states and I nod in agreement.

"Now remember. Slughorn usually eats early, takes a short walk and then returns to his office."

"Right. We're going down to Hagrid's." I say as my brother and I stand up.

"What? No, you've got to go see Slughorn. We have a plan-"

"No. I've got a good feeling about going to Hagrid's. I feel like it's the place to be tonight, know what I mean?" I ask.

"Yes." Harry replies.

"No." Ron and Hermione state plainly.

"Trust me. We know what we're doing." Harry tried to tell them.

"Or at least Felix does." I say with a smile and Harry and I leave the room.

A boy with a prefects badge patrols the corridor. Bored, he ponders the progress of his faint mustache in a mirror. Harry and I walk by, unseen.

Filch paces, standing guard while Mrs. Norris sits calmly by. A mouse appears in the open helmet of a suit of armor, washes its face with its tiny paws, then spies Mrs. Norris, who hisses. The mouse makes a quick retreat and the face plate comes clanging down. As Filch wheels, Harry and I stroll past.

Two Aurors, twin silhouettes, patrol the grounds. Harry and I approach, about to intersect their paths when, at the last second, something on the ground catches our eye. We kneel, consider a beetle on its back, legs churning helplessly. Harry extends his finger, letting the tiny bug gain purchase, then tips it upright just as the Aurors' shadows quiver over us and vanish. Rising, Harry and I start off in one direction, then stop, as if compelled by some inner voice, and heads the opposite way.

Harry hums placidly. Up ahead, a figure ripples beyond the steamy panes of the Greenhouse. It's Slughorn, hunched over a plant whose tendrils coil eerily, resisting his attentions. Snip! He stealthily removes a sprig, looks up and jumps.

"Merlin's beard, Harry and Amelia!"

"Sorry, sir. We should've announced ourselves." Harry tells him.

"Cleared our throats. Coughed. You probably feared we were Madam Sprout." I say.

"Well, yes, actually-" he says paranoid. "Why would you think that?"

"Just the general behavior, sir." Harry answers.

"The sneaking around. The jumping when you saw us. By the way, those Tentacula leaves, they're quite valuable, aren't they?" I ask confidently.

"Ten galleons a leaf to the right buyer, not that I'm familiar with such back alley transactions. One hears rumors is all. My own interests are purely academic, of course."

"Personally, these plants have always kind of freaked me out." Harry gives a little shiver of the shoulders, smiles. Slughorn cocks his head, studies us oddly.

"Exactly how did you get out of the castle, you two?"

"Through the front doors, sir." I tell him.

"We're off to Hagrid's, you see. He's a very dear friend and we felt like paying him a visit. So if you don't mind, we'll be going." Harry adds.

"Harry! Mia!" He calls after us.

"Sir?" We both say back with a grin.

"It's nearly nightfall. Surely you realize I can't allow you both to roam the grounds all by yourselves."

"Well, then by all means come along, sir." I tell him.

The three of us walk towards Hagrids Hut. Harry and I stroll happily along as Slughorn is hugging and puffing to keep up.

"Harry, Mia, I must insist you accompany me back to the castle immediately!"

"That would be counterproductive, sir." I tell him.

"And what makes you say that?"

"No idea."

Slughorn frowns impatiently, then stops, blinks. "Merlin's beard..."

Up ahead, Hagrid sits disconsolately upon a stump. Nearby, Aragog's massive body lies legs up.

"Is that an actual Acromantula?" Slughorn asks with wide eyes.

"A dead one, I think, sir." Harry states. Then we approach a sullen Hagrid.

"'Arry. Mia. 'Orace." Hagrid says sadly.

"My god, dear man. How did you ever manage to kill it?" Slughorn asks him.

"Kill 'im!" Hagrid scoffs in disbelief. "Me oldest friend, 'e was!"

"I'm sorry, I..." Slughorn falters helplessly. Hagrid waves his hand.

"Ah, don' worry yerself. Yer not alone. Seriously misunderstood creatures, spiders. It's the eyes, I reckon. Unnerve people."

"Not to mention the pincers." I say and Harry and I make a little claw motion with our hands, while making clicking sounds. Hagrid eyes us curiously.

"I reckon that too... How'd yeh two get outta the castle anyways?" Hagrid asks.

"Through the front doors." Harry states plainly.

"Hagrid. I wouldn't want to be indelicate, but Acromantula venom is uncommonly rare and, well, if you wouldn't mind my extracting a vial or two, purely for academic pursuits..." Slughorn trails off.

"Don' suppose it's doin' 'im any good, izzit?"

"My thoughts exactly! Always carry a few spare ampoules for just such occasions. Old Potion Master's habit, you know..." Slughorn rummages about his pockets, extracts some small vials, all empty except for one containing a hairy worm, then scrambles up close to Aragog. Harry, Hagrid, and I watch.

"Wish yeh coulda seen 'im in 'is prime. Magnificent 'e was. Jus' magnificent..." Hagrid blinks wildly, then takes out a handkerchief and snorts loudly into it. Slughorn looks up, studies Hagrid's sorry expression with empathy and steps away.

"Why don't I say a few words? I trust he had family?" He asks.

"Oh yeah." Harry and I say. Recalling our second year and almost being eaten by them.

"Farewell..." Slughorn frowns.

"Aragog." Hagrid says.

He clears his throat. "Farewell, Aragog, king of arachnids. Though your body will decay, your spirit lingers on in the quiet, web-spun places of your Forest home. May your many-eyed descendents ever flourish and your human friends find solace for the loss they have sustained."

"Tha' was... tha' was... beautiful." Hagrid wipes his eyes, then rises. He walks to Aragog, studies him lovingly, then puts a shoulder to the big beast's body and sends him tumbling into the freshly-dug grave adjacent with a sickening thunk.

"And Odo the hero, they bore him back home..." Hagrid and Slughorn begin to sing.

Harry and Amelia PotterWhere stories live. Discover now