Ch. Eighteen; Conclusion
~ "Hermione!" Shrieked a very terrified Lavender Brown.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Whimpered the academic.
Both girls looked around, desperate to find Lavender's wand, but they were already out of time before they could truly begin.
Harry stood there, frozen in place, just like the rest of the class. A small part of her was shouting, "I recognise it, I know this thing," but the rest of her was still trying to puzzle out just what the hell it was they were seeing. This bizarre… thing… stood on two legs, though the knee joints were somehow wrong. Wait, no, the knees were normal enough, they were just too high. It was the ankles, the foot bones were so elongated, it made the ankles look like they were positioned closer to where it's knees should have been, but as ankles bend opposite to knees, the overall effect was freaky as hell. Even though the coal black… something… was sorta hunched over, it was still better than seven or eight feet tall! It had a LONG, somehow skeletal tail, ending in a vicious looking, barbed spike. The way that tail was twitching back and forth, it was clearly prehensile, enough so to be used as a fast, deadly weapon! Its torso was cadaverously thin, with ribs clearly visible, and long boney looking protrusions emerged from its back. The terrifying bogart-creature took a single step forward, raising its long, thin, arms; bony, grasping hands, with elongated, but deceptively strong, fingers cast out menacingly. The entire thing was skinned in shiny, rubber-like flesh. Overall it almost seemed biomechanical in nature. It let loose with a shrill, high pitched, animalistic cry from a lipless, even cheekless mouth, displaying a multitude of metallic, predatory teeth.
Everyone flinched back at its shriek. The nightmare lunged forward, blindingly fast. Seeing the brutal entity charging their friends finally snapped Harry out of his haze, and he raced to get his wand up in time to cast a spell, but he knew, could easily tell, he'd never be able to get a spell off in time!
The monstrosity raked its taloned, skeletal fingers forward, with enough speed and power to literally rip Lavender's face completely off, but its forward momentum was abruptly reversed. Just as it was yanked backwards, its cruel fingers swiped by so closely, they savagely raked through a lock of the strawberry blond's bangs. It shot back towards the wardrobe cabinet it had originally emerged from. While the rest of the class had frozen, Professor Lupin had remained on guard, even if the form the bogart had assumed was completely alien to him, he still reacted quickly enough to counter the explosive speed the entity had displayed. However, Lupin didn't take into account the tail. As the wicked being was flying past, its long tail spun out, catching the perpetually tired professor in the stomach. He was sent careening back, wand tumbling from his grip, just as he himself tumbled across the polished stone flooring. Long, clawed fingers dug furrows through that ancient, solid stone as it arrested its own backward momentum. Though it was disoriented, the creature quickly spotted its quarry, the two girls and Harry, still gathered against the far wall. For now at least, it seemed to be ignoring the other students, all of which had already faced the bogart.
Harry noticed that the oddly elongated head didn't actually have any eyes, nevertheless the horror was somehow perceiving its prey. Slimy, wet drool trailed down its mouth, and when it fell to the stone below, there was an odd sizzling sound. It hissed another shrill challenge, but this time a smaller mouth shot forward six inches past it's outer jaw, on the end of a rigid tongue-like structure. The smaller jaws snapped closed, wicked, sharp, chrome colored teeth audibly clicking shut. With another explosive burst of speed, it launched itself at the trio again. Harry, having no clue how to make such a being look… funny… quickly slammed his will through the holy and phoenix wand, shouting,
While the shield charm wasn't really meant to block physical objects, the bogarts itself, and especially the form it currently wore, was very much magical in nature. The beast slammed into a bluish, glittering half-dome, and stopped cold. The rest of their class was finally getting their collective butts in gear, and several started reaching for their wands, but again Lupin proved his mettle. Miraculously, the man had mostly managed to keep track of his tumbling wand, whilst also skidding across the floor himself. It took mere seconds after rolling to a stop for the relatively young, scarred veteran to spot his wand, magically summon it back to his hand, and yet again banish the bogart back to the wardrobe. This time he managed to seal the bogart inside, its own magics compressing it down so that it fit into the small space. The entire thing, from the shiny, black entities terrifying appearance, to it being sealed back in its hidey-hole had taken less than thirty seconds. Climbing back up from the floor, dusting himself off, a smiling Professor R.J. Lupin announced,
"And that, my good children, is an excellent, albeit unusual, example of just how fast an encounter can go from an everyday affair, to a life or death situation. Throughout the year, we will be learning about, and encountering, many magical creatures, and they will not always be so friendly as today."
Most of Harry's classmates started shouting over each other, from cries of astonishment, to vehement denials of anything "friendly" concerning what had just happened. Harry couldn't help it, he started giggling, and once he'd gotten going, Lavender stated up too, though she was suddenly enveloped from the side by the tight embrace of her best friend, Parvati. Still giggling, Harry tried to step around the two hugging girls, wanting to check on Hermione, but Parvati threw an arm around her smaller Gryffindor, and pulled Harry into the tight embrace as well. A moment later, Hermione joined in the group hug as well. All of them spent a few moments, caught somewhere between laughing and crying as the adrenalin drained away.
When they had finally broken apart, it as to find that Professor Lupin had come over to enquire if they were all okay. Once assured of their health he asked,
"Well Ms Brown, I believe I can speak for everyone here when I say that we are all exceptionally curious as to the form your bogart took! Would you be so kind as to enlighten us?"
Blushing furiously, Lavender replied, "Right, ah… that was a… well, technically it's not a real creature… umm, so you guys know what a muggle tv is right?"
Other than Neville and Ron, all of her classmates nodded. Ron, Neville, and Parvati were the only purebloods, well, technically Harry was too, but he'd been raised by muggles, so he knew what a tv was. Parvati had stayed with Lavender occasionally, so she knew what one was too. The rest of the class may not have actually owned a tv, but all of them had enough muggle relatives to have at least seen a tv before.
"Ah, okay guys, so, ah.. a tv is, umm…"
Seeing that Lavender was struggling, Hermione jumped in to help, "A tv, or television, is an electronic muggle device that sort of combines wizarding pictures with the "wizarding wireless network." People sometimes watch the news, like you'd get reading the Daily Prophet, but mostly we watch television shows or movies. Imagine being able to actually see it as all the scenes play out on a screen, like a large picture, from your favorite WWN drama stories. Muggles used to use radio waves to broadcast sounds just like the WWN does, but eventually they took those radio dramatizations, and sort of turned them into plays that you could watch from the comfort of your own home. And the best part is, if you don't like that particular show, you can change the channel and watch something else! There are literally thousands of shows and movies. Fictions with action, adventure, comedy, horror; but also documentaries meant to teach you about famous persons, or interesting locations! They can be wonderfully informative!"
A little amused by the depth of Hermione's excitement when it came to educational media, Lavender continued.
"Right, so ah, my dad loves cheesy old horror movies. Most of them are pretty dumb, fun, but silly. But, well yeah, that bogart was from a movie called, "Alien." I think the creature was called a 'xenomorph'. I know it's not real, but that one always freaked me out a lot."
Lupin smiled kindly, "Thank you miss Lavender, perhaps foolishly, it had never occurred to me that a bogart might be able to take on the form of a fictional creature. Ahh, I must admit, you have rather intrigued. I'll have to find a way to watch that one someday. The xenomorph looked… rather capable."
"Uh, yeah I'd say it's pretty capable. Didn't it kill most everyone on the ship Lav?" Queried Harry.
"You've seen it too!?" Lavender excitedly asked.
"Just bits and pieces. My cousin likes to put on scary stuff whenever his parents are out… I don't really like those kinds of movies though," Harry admitted self-consciously.
Lavender just stared, shocked by what Harry had just said. Parvati voiced what the two other girls were thinking though.
"Wait, wait, wait, are you really trying to tell us that you're too scared to watch cheesy old horror movies!? Literally the only one of us to react in time, to a real life horror creature, with an advanced spell by the way, probably saving 'mione and Lav's lives, and horror movies scare you!?"
Trying to fight back his blush, Harry muttered, "Hey! Am not, that's not what I said. I said I don't like them, that's not the same as being scared!"
Thankfully their professor interrupted before Parvati could respond, or anyone could start laughing, as it seemed several of the boys were on the verge of doing.
"Regardless, I'd say Harry has more than proven he can be brave when the moment calls for it."
Turning to encompass everyone, Lupin suggested, "Alright class, why don't we head back to our room before we get too sidetracked."
~ On the way back, several of the students congratulated Harry on his use of the Protego charm. Now that he had calmed down some, he was able to accept the thanks, but pointed out that the real credit mostly belonged to Katie. Ron started out walking back with Harry, but as he, Hermione, and Lavender were all discussing movies and movie monsters, he got bored and joined up with Dean, Neville, and Finnegan. Harry was surprised to find he actually kinda did lament that he'd never watched all of Alien, or really most any movie. When he admitted as much to the group, the four girls began to theorize whether or not it would be possible to actually watch a movie at Hogwarts. Quickly eliminating an actual television, Hermione started to explain the principles of how movie theater projectors worked. By the time the class had finished the nearly ten minute walk back to their classroom, the four had a workable theory on how to make it work.
Lupin spent the last fifteen minutes of class further discussing bogarts and their origins, as well as several useful methods of dealing with them, including why Harry's shielding charm worked. He congratulated Harry on saving the day, awarding him fifty points for Gryffindor! He then granted another five points for everyone else that had successfully tackled the bogart.
Just before the bell sounded Lupin called out, "Homework, a full sheet of parchment on bogarts, where they are normally located and why, what triggers an attack, and how to deal with it, as well as your reasoning as to whether or not they deserve to be listed as a dark creature by the ministry. To be turned in when I see you all again on Tuesday."
As half the class filed out, Ron waited by the door while the girls, plus Harry, made their way to the professor's desk.
"Yes? And how may I assist you bright young witches this evening?"
Looking questioning at each other, Parvati reached back and yanked Harry forward, saying, "We've had a thought professor."
Harry was then nudged forward. He glared back at the other girls for a second, but signed, and rubbing the back of his neck, explained,
"Umm, well professor, we were talking about umm," looking at Hermione for a second to jog his memory, he continued, "Creature Feature movies, and thought about how interesting it might be to compare magical creature with some of the things the muggles have thought up. Uh, w-we think we've figured out a way to make the movies work here at Hogwarts, and since you said you were curious to see what that xeno-thingy was capable of… we wondered if we could show the movie in class."
Lupin sat back in his chair, reaching up to scratch the back of his head as he looked toward the ceiling, frowning slightly, he thought it through.
"Hmm, while it wouldn't exactly be Germaine to the defence against magical creatures, I'd be lying if I claimed not to be interested. How do you intend to adapt the muggle tech to work here at Hogwarts?"
Once Hermione had explained the concept, Lupin was all smiles.
"Combining muggle tech and magic like that would be quite the feat! I daresay, you could manage it with spells, but with the right preparations, you could turn it into an excellent extra credit project for ancient runes. If you four can get it working, we will absolutely show a few of these movies through the year. It sounds like it would be a fun way to blow off exam pressures for your classmates."
"Thank you so much professor," started Parvati.
"Yes, thank you professor, and for the runes project idea!" Finished Hermione.
Before they had reached their desks, Lupin said, "Ah, Harry. Might I have a quick word before you go?"
"Oh, umm, yes, of course sir."
Turning to his classmates he said, "Umm, I'll see you all back in the common room?"
Lupin stepped around his desk, and hopped up to sit atop it, legs dangling, as he looked at Harry. Harry, seeing that Professor Lupin intended for this to be casual, figured he might as well sit too.
"First, I wanted to again congratulate you for your quick wits in casting the Protego charm so ably. At the very least you saved those two girls a lot of pain, possibly even their lives."
As Harry contemplated that, Lupin continued, "I also wanted to ask how you were holding up after the train. I stopped back by to check on you, once I was sure the dementors were all gone, but you were still unconscious. Had I realised that the befouled things had attacked in earnest… Well, I suppose I would have apparated with you directly to St. Mungo's!"
Harry could almost feel the anger radiating from his professor as he finished, but oddly it didn't really scare Harry this time. The man was angry on his behalf, further proof that for once, they seemed to have a teacher that genuinely cared about his students. Well, okay maybe Harry wasn't being entirely fair. Snape cared for his snakes, and McGonagall cared about the student body as a whole, though she didn't seem to bother herself much regarding the individuals. Harry couldn't really say one way or the other about Sprout and Flitwick. Sure, they seemed alright, but none of them had come to his aid when practically the entire school had turned on her last year.
He subtly gave his head a little shake to clear those horrid memories away. Harry still hadn't really forgiven everyone for all the bullying last year, but he was bound and determined not to let anyone know how much it had hurt.
Frowning, Harry asked, "Umm, sir, what's St. Mungo's?"
Obviously surprised by the question, Lupin clarified, "It's our hospital, Harry. You haven't heard of it? Did… did no one take you in for your yearly checkups?"
Harry smiled, "Oh, no, uh… I mean yeah? Er, well, I mean, I've had those at the primary school I used to attend."
Smiling back, Lupin said, "No, Harry. Those would have been muggle checkups. And while they are certainly better than nothing, you really should have had annual checkups on your magic as well."
"Oh… umm… I-I didn't actually, uh, know about magic… like, not until my Hogwarts letter anyway..."
Lupin was sporting a decidedly dumbfounded expression at that. After several seconds he finally stammered out,
"You… what!? But, Dumbledore said… Yo- you, that is, he… You really didn't know?"
Abruptly standing, Lupin paced over to the wall, pinching the bridge of his nose. Harry probably wasn't meant to hear it as Lupin softly cursed under his breath.
"Damn it Albus! You swore they would… that he…"
He said more, but Harry could only make out a world here and there. Lupin, still facing the wall, tilted his head up to the ceiling, and sighed. After regaining his composure, the prematurely worn down man turned and made his way back to Harry. Pulling out the chair across from the child that so resembled his parents, Lupin sat, leaning forward, elbows on knees.
Harry still couldn't sense any malice from the da-da professor, even though the man had obviously been upset just a moment ago. The tiny teen was frantically analyzing the last few moments of their conversation, but try as they might, Harry couldn't figure out why Professor Lupin had been so angry with the headmaster over him not knowing about magic till Hogwarts. Even so, Harry was rather amazed to realize that, though he was on guard, he still wasn't feeling any fear.
Smiling internally, Harry fleetingly thought, "Yay! Maybe we finally are getting braver. Wait, we?"
"My apologies Harry, I'm starting this poorly. First, do you feel like you've fully recovered from the incident on the train yet?"
At Harry's nod he continued, "That's good. Did Madam Pomfrey mention whether you had suffered from any magical draining?"
Nodding, Harry said, "Yeah, she did. She didn't really explain it though. I assumed that's why I was so tired?"
"Indeed, and that also indicates that the Dementor really did attack in truth…"
Lupin considered that for a moment, then explained, Anyway Harry, yes, being magically drained, rather from an attack or from using too much of your power will cause physical exhaustion. Depending on the individual, and just how drained they have become, it can take several days of essentially bed rest before the witch or wizard's magic fully recharges. I expect Madam Pomfrey offered you a pepper-up potion?"
"Mmm, no… She gave us both, me and 'mione, mugs of hot chocolate… although… I wasn't sure what it was at the time, but I think she slipped a little pepper-up into our chocolates!"
At Harry's thoroughly impressed expression, Remus set up, laughing heartily.
"The cunning old healer probably did. Pepper-up is one of the few healing potions that can be mixed with another beverage without losing too much of its potency, though even taking a full, undiluted dose wouldn't have sped up the recovery of magical exhaustion by more than half a day."
Remus's smile slowly faded, Harry thought the older man looked like he was trying to come to a decision. Abruptly standing again, Lupin paced back over to his desk. If Harry didn't know better, he'd say the man looked, well, nervous. After finally gathering his nerve, Lupin looked back to find watchful emerald eyes staring intently.
"Harry, I… that is, I thought you may be interested to know that… I attended Hogwarts with your parents…"
The last of the Potters suddenly went stock still, he cautiously asked, "You were… friends with…"
"Oh yes," Lupin answered. He was staring off in the distance, while he explained, "We were all in the same year, and we were even in Gryffindor together. Your father, myself, and two others were practically as close as brothers… and your mother… well, she was there for me at a time when I had very little reason left to continue on. She was quite possibly the singularly most empathetic person I have ever known." Smiling wistly, he added, "Although that's not to say she couldn't hold a grudge."
Harry very nearly forgot to breathe. The grief and longing in his voice was practically a mirror of Harry's own soul. A small part of her brain was screaming that this MUST be some sort of trap, but the naked emotion in Lupin's voice, the pain showing on the profile of his face that Harry could see, was calling to that void that Harry had walled off in his heart.
In a very small voice, Harry asked, "Would you… could you maybe tell me what they were like?"
Turning back to look Harry in the eye, he softly promised, "Yes, I'd… I think I would enjoy that, Harry. Even as painful as it's likely to be."
Looking back to the doorway behind the child of his best friends, Lupin sighed and said, "But maybe not today. Your friends will be missing you soon, and you'll probably want to change into something more comfortable before dinner. I know I would, I don't think they've changed the design of the Hogwarts robes for a hundred years."
Smiling ever so slightly at his attempt to lighten the mood, Harry wiped his eyes while asking, "When can we talk?"
Lupin thought for a moment before saying, "I'm afraid my weekend will be rather busy with lesson planning. Perhaps you could come by my office for lunch, next Saturday? Feel free to bring a friend or two, of course."
"Oh-okay sir… and… thank you professor."
With that, Harry snagged his bag and fled, once out in the corridor, he slowly made his way to the portrait of the fat lady, lost in thought, fighting desperately to hold out against the hope that wanted to balloon up in their small chest.
Unbeknownst to Harry, once he'd left Remus sighed again before firmly stating that he needed a drink, and headed off in the direction of the Three Broomsticks.
Whew, finally. Hopefully an exciting conclusion the chapter. At the moment at least, I'm really happy with how it turned out. Now sleep! At least, I Wish. I'm at work but practically falling over.
But of excitement, Heading to the St. Louis pride this Sunday! Whew!
That's all for me for today. Thanks for reviews! Even the faster ones, most don't even read the first page are amusing to me.