The Slug Club
Gandalf was just on time, in his opinion; a number of students had already arrived, but there were still many to come. Horace was already there, of course, with an assortment of appetizers, both magical and mundane. He was talking to a house elf when he noticed Gandalf. Gandalf pushed aside the sudden questions that came to mind on the matter of the house elves. It was unlikely that Horace knew of it overmuch.
"Ah, Gandalf, I'm so glad you're here," called Horace. "Come, come, have a seat."
Gandalf leaned his staff on the wall near a hat rack, and put his hat on the rack. The room felt warm and cosy, but there was no fire about. Gandalf's eye's wandered about the room, before coming to the conclusion that this was the result of another spell. Shrugging to himself, he sat down by the potion master.
"Tell me Gandalf, how are you finding Hogwarts so far?" asked Slughorn.
"Well, it is certainly an interesting place," mused Gandalf. "The professors are, for the most part, wonderful people, and the students are quite marvellous. The headmaster is quite an interesting fellow, I must say."
"Oh, yes, he is quite the mystery," laughed Horace. "Yes, in my day he was the transfiguration teacher, you know. Quite a brilliant mind. He found out twelve uses for dragon blood, you know."
"Indeed?" said Gandalf. "It must be impressive. I wonder what he would have managed in Middle-Earth. Dragons are quite different there; they're far more cunning and intelligent."
"Are they? How so?" asked Slughorn.
For a short while, Gandalf explained what dragons were in Middle-Earth, speaking chiefly of their intellect and cruel wit. He was able to answer most of Slughorn's queries, of which there were many. Indeed, by the end Slughorn was rather amazed at the many magical abilities the dragons possessed.
Gandalf was glad indeed, however, for the hosts attention to be diverted to other guests. Slughorn seemed a rather superficial fellow, though there was a true kindness to him, just not one he would readily show for any. He feared Snape's appraisal of the man was rather correct.
'No,' he thought. 'He is no fool. Merely selfish.'
Hermione and Harry soon arrived, and the potion master's attention soon diverted to them. He barraged Harry in particular with questions, wondering about his aspirations, his skills in his other classes, and so on and so forth.
"Harry has quite the skill with potions," Horace boasted to Gandalf once. "He managed to make quite an exquisite draught of living death. He most certainly has his mother's skill. I taught her, you know…."
And so went the better part of the night. Horace appeared to have a never ending supply of questions to ask the students. Gandalf merely listened for his part, and Horace seemed to have forgotten him, if only for the moment.
When the main course came (a remarkable dish, consisting of a brilliant pepper steak pie, chips, and a hearty salad on the side, and some red wine just for Gandalf and Horace), Slughorn turned to Gandalf once again.
"Gandalf, do you have any stories you might want to share with us, by any chance?" he asked. "Any of your adventures in Middle-Earth?"
"Yes," answered Gandalf. "Yes, I have a few. Let's see, there was one instance where I was accompanied by one of the Eldar, named Glorfindel, to the ruins of Carn Dûm, a number of years after it was destroyed. I—"
"What's an Eldar?" asked Hermione suddenly.
Gandalf turned to her with a stern face, annoyed at being interrupted already. But he repented when he saw she looked at him with genuine curiosity.
"The Eldarin, or the Quendi, are an ancient and powerful people," said Gandalf. "They were awoken roughly ten or more thousand years ago. The oldest of the Eldar left in Middle-Earth is Círdan the Shipwright, who is one of the first Eldarin to be awoken."
"Ten thousand years?" gasped Harry. "How could they live that long? Are they immortal?"
"Yes, they are immortal," answered Gandalf. "They do not die, nor do they wither and grow weary with age, unless one grows weary after ten thousand millennia, but they can be slain, and they can lose the will to live. Should this happen, they are summoned to the Halls of Mandos, who is the keeper and summoner of the dead.
"But I have digressed, or rather been digressed," he said, looking with mock sternness towards Hermione. "As I was saying, I was travelling with Glorfindel through the ruins of Carn Dûm, once a mighty and evil land, ruled by the witch-king of Angmar. There were rumours abroad of a—"
"Who was the witch-king of Anmar?" interrupted Harry, who flinched under Gandalf's sudden gaze.
"The witch-king of Angmar," said Gandalf, putting emphasis on the word, "Was once a powerful witch, not in the same sense as those here. Rather, he was a powerful sorcerer, who wielded dark magic. He was once a great king, but of his history little is known. He ruled in the Second Age of Middle-Earth, but was corrupted to evil. He, along with eight other men of power and status, were given gifts: nine rings."
As he spoke, the table grew quieter, as the guests and the host leant forward to listen.
"Nine rings of power. These rings gave unto them great power and wisdom, according to their stature," continued Gandalf darkly. "With these nine rings, they were able to conquer other lands, to prosper and become fruitful. They became mighty and their lands grew and flourished. But they were all of them deceived, for another ring was made."
Gandalf faltered, and sat back. "But that is not the right tale for this time. I have been waylaid once again. I am beginning to think that I shall have to be more careful with what I say, if I am to finish this tale before winter passes!"
"Sorry, professor," apologised Harry.
"I should think so," muttered Gandalf. "Now, may I continue with my story? Thank you."
Thus Gandalf spoke of his adventure with Glorfindel, telling of how a black Númenórean had travelled to Carn Dûm and organised a rabble of orcs that lingered there. He was preparing to become a nuisance in the nearby lands, raiding and pillaging villages of men. He and Glorfindel managed to get wind of it in time, and went out to investigate. It ended up being a rather close cut thing, and they only just managed to put a stop to his mischief.
"Oh, a remarkable story Gandalf," praised Horace at the end. "I can't imagine going into such a place myself, even with an, um, an Eldar. That must've terrifying. Can I ask though, why did you have to go? What made you go?"
Gandalf faltered at that. What could he say to that? "Now, that is a long, long tale. Far too long for me to tell over a single dinner. No, all I can say now is that I went because that was why I was in Middle-Earth. To look after it."
The table then sat quietly, confused. Gandalf sat back, and after reheating his pie with a quiet spell, resumed eating it. It was still quite delicious.
"Professor," began Harry. "Can you tell me more about these 'Nine Rings'?"
Gandalf stopped eating again. "Maybe, but not now. For one, there is not nearly enough time, and two, it is a tragic tale, and not to be lightly spoken of. Not to mention, it is not over yet. Not yet, I suspect. And not for a while. It would not do to tell a story before it is even finished."
"Can you at least tell me what happened to the nine men?" pressed Harry.
"No!" snapped Gandalf. Then he continued softer, "What happened to the Nine is not something that should be spoken of at a dinner party. It was a tragic turn of events, and a dark and terrible story, which has led to countless horrors."
The table fell into an awkward silence once again, eating quietly, until Horace asked Hermione what her parents did.
"They're dentists," she answered clumsily. "They work on people's teeth."
The partygoers seemed to frown at that. "And is it a— dangerous profession?" Horace asked with what politeness he could muster.
"Uh, no," muttered Hermione. Then chuckling, she added, "But this one boy bit my father's thumb. He need eight stitches."
"Is it difficult to become a dentist?" asked Gandalf, earnestly. It sounded like a rather simple and noble position, working on people's teeth.
"I— I think so," said Hermione uncertainly. "It takes a couple of years to become a dentist. Five, I think my mum said."
"I see," said Gandalf. "It sounds like a noble profession. I cannot understand why a profession must be dangerous to be considered noble, or honourable. Your parents help make other people better, do they not?"
"They do, yes," said Hermione.
"There are few jobs as honourable as that," said Gandalf. He gave Slughorn a glance.
"Well said, Gandalf, well said," remarked Slughorn. "Ah, Ginny, just in time for dessert, if Barnaby hasn't eaten it all, that is."
Gandalf turned and saw Ginny, a young girl with red hair, come in. She looked as though she'd been arguing terribly. When Hermione whispered in Harry's ear, it only confirmed Gandalf's suspicions.
"Sorry, I'm not usually so late," apologised Ginny, taking the last free seat.
"No need to apologise," smiled Gandalf. "None at all. Although you did miss out on a rather delicious pepper steak pie."
"Ginny here is quite talented," said Horace, either indifferent or oblivious to the young witch's emotional state. "She managed quite a terrifying bat bogey hex on the train to Hogwarts, you know. Really quite impressive."
The night went on for another half an hour or so, and at last it was over. The dessert (ice cream sundae was its name, Gandalf learnt, and was eager to try again) now exhausted, people finally began to excuse themselves. Gandalf left earliest, with the excuse of schoolwork to set, eliciting many a weary sigh, to his amusement.
The rest of the night passed rather quickly for Gandalf. Ginny Weasley left soon after him. The moment she was out of the Slug Club, Gandalf pulled her to the side. It was likely nothing, a spat between young lovers, but Gandalf would be remiss if he didn't at least talk to her and ask. True to his guess, it was a simple argument. But he advised her to talk to a professor should anything escalate. He then told her to sleep easy, placing a small, but hopefully useful blessing on her, to help her sleep and have pleasant dreams.
The next thing on Gandalf's mind was speaking to Dumbledore. This was not something he wanted to do, but done it needed to be. He had promised Minerva that he would do it today. And although he was glad that he didn't promise when, he felt regret that he must do it at all.
'Perhaps I have been too loose with my words,' thought Gandalf bitterly. The shock of being in a new world must have thrown him off. And, perhaps, the small sense of familiarity he felt.
The headmaster was rather amiable in that regard, and said he'd gather the teachers' tomorrow morning, before breakfast. The headmaster must have noted the distaste Gandalf felt for the upcoming event, for there was a gleam in his eyes, shimmering with amusement.
The next morning, Gandalf rose rather reluctantly. He spent until perhaps one last night reading up on transfiguration, as was his wont. And now it was time to fulfil a rather dismal promise. He donned his hat and left for the professors' lounge, thinking of what he might say.
His staff clacked on the stone floors of the professors' lounge, and he seemed old and bent. There before him sat the teachers; Snape sat in complete indifference, or at least apparent indifference, while McGonagall sat with a curious if stern look on her face. To the western window sat the charms and herbology professors, and the centaur Firenze. There were some more, but Gandalf did not recognise them. To the right sat Dumbledore, reading a book, and Horace, chatting with Mrs. Hooch, and a lady looking into a crystal ball. Dumbledore looked at Gandalf with a frustrating twinkle in his eye.
"Ah, Gandalf," said Dumbledore. "Good, you're here." He stood up and walked over to Gandalf, turning to the room. "Now, everyone, Professor Gandalf the Grey has a rather remarkable tale. I do not know for certain if he will tell you the whole story – in fact, I rather doubt it –, but he will tell you at least a little bit, and I think that shall suffice. I will wholeheartedly vouch for whatever he says. Professor Gandalf has my utmost support."
The anticipation in the room grew steadily, and Gandalf took a breath. Then he spoke, forewarning that, "There is much I can tell you, but my tale is long, and there is much I will not tell. Dumbledore knows much, though not all, but he knows also why I would not tell you all."
He took a deep breath, choosing his words carefully. "I imagine that you have all heard the rumours amongst the students, who claim that I am from another world. These are not rumours at all. I am from another world. It is known as Middle-Earth, or Endor in the Quenyan tongue, and Ennor in Sindarin. It is rather dissimilar to this one, for it is younger. The technology, the history, the people, and 'magic' – as you call it – is all quite different."
"And how exactly is magic different, Gandalf?" asked Severus suddenly.
Gandalf sighed. How exactly was it different? He had anticipated such a question, though he despised its asking, nonetheless.
"It is difficult to say, Severus," said Gandalf. "Magic is not the word used by those who perform it; that is, feats that seem impossible, or outside the ordinary or understandable. It is difficult to explain to those who cannot perform it. It is more an Art, perhaps. It will be easier to use magic, I suppose, as the chief descriptor.
"In Middle-Earth, magic is, in the simplest terms possible, and omitting a great deal, chiefly a matter of one's spirit, or fëa. For the Eldar, magic is easy for them, as their body and spirit, their hröar and fëar, work in harmony, and there is less… separation, in a manner of speaking. But for a mortal like yourself, magic may be nigh on impossible, for thy body and spirit do not work in harmony, and there is a great deal of other important factors that stop a mortal.
"The mightier one's fëa, the easier it is to use magic, and the greater one's creation, I suppose. But I am leaving out a great deal. Magic is chiefly concerned with two things: immediacy, and 'completeness,' in a sense. Whereas here it would seem – and I am once again leaving out much, for there is much that I do not yet know – that magic is a natural force, like gravity."
This time Firenze spoke up, asking, "Who are the Eldar, Gandalf?"
"The Eldar, who are known also as the Quendi," began Gandalf, "Are the firstborn, the first to talk. The word Quendi means 'the one's with voices,' for they did not know at the time that there were any other speaking races. They are the eldest race, and are immortal."
For a moment, Gandalf saw the corner of Snape's mouth twitch in a smile, though it vanished quickly.
He continued for a little, talking of the Vanyar, the Teleri, the Ñoldor, who were the Calaquendi, and the Avari, the Sindar, and the Nandor, who were the Moriquendi. He spoke a little of their cultures and the kingdoms and realms they now inhabited. Then he told of the Second-born, the race of Man. He spoke of Númenor, its glory and its downfall. He spoke of Gondor. He told the teachers of the dwarves, and the lineage of Durin.
Then McGonagall asked how he came to be in this world, and not perhaps the very distant future, to which Gandalf informed her that there were too many differences in this world to be the same one.
"Can you give use one example, Professor Gandalf, of the differences between your world and ours? Preferably in regards to magic," she asked politely.
Gandalf frowned. By example, she meant demonstration, that much was plain. "I could, yes. But I have been far too open in recent months, and shall be slow to give an example. No, until the need arises, the only example you shall have is the storm that arose some days ago. And the incident with your poltergeist, Peeves."
"That storm was you?" asked Severus, scepticism dripping from his voice.
"Yes, it was."
Dumbledore cleared his throat, grabbing the gatherings attention. "Excuse me, but may I enquire as to this 'storm' you speak of, Gandalf?"
"On the day you requested I teach the students a little of the 'magic' of my world, I had given Harry, Hermione, and Ronald detention," said Gandalf. "I then decided to teach them a little. I do not entirely know if it will work, but I suspect it might just, if only a little. However, they required a demonstration. Thus, the storm. It was perhaps a little much, I confess."
Then Dumbledore and the other teachers were silent, mulling over the thought. All the teachers looked rather amazed, but Albus seemed to look inwards, much like Gandalf himself did when he examined some memory. He had a ghost of a smile on his face, though.
Then he clapped, drawing the rooms attention back to him once more. "Well, now you've all heard the story, what do you make of it? Do you believe Gandalf the Grey?"
"Well, it seems a rather remarkable tale, but it's all in line with what I've heard from him last night," said Slughorn. Dumbledore thanked him.
"Were it not for evidence I had seen with my own eyes," said Snape, looking briefly to Gandalf's right hand, "And for the duel we had, I would have simply accused him of lying and kicked him out. However, having seen earlier evidence, and having heard Dumbledore, I have to concede that Gandalf is, at least on some level, telling the truth, although I would have preferred he take a dose of Veritaserum."
So on went most other teachers, until at last none could deny that, if people like Snape and Dumbledore believed Gandalf, then the strange wizard must be telling the truth.
"Well then, if that will be all, then I think that we should all head off to breakfast," said Dumbledore.
But as he turned to leave, Firenze stopped him. "Gandalf, there is something I think we have all forgotten to ask. Are you one of the Eldar, Gandalf?"
"No, Firenze, I am not," answered Gandalf, shaking his head. "However, it has been said by many that our two races are quite similar."
"And what race are you of, Gandalf?" inquired Severus, leaning ever so slightly forward. Gandalf made to speak, intending to explain that there were some things he would keep secret, but was beaten to it.
"I think we should let Professor Gandalf keep some secrets, Severus," said Dumbledore, slightly hastily. "Now, I'm not certain about Gandalf, or anyone else, but I for one am quite hungry. And I happen to have heard rumours that some of the fifth year Gryffindors have discovered a interesting tunnel, which apparently leads to a room filled with beakers." He cast a mischievous look towards Snape, who narrowed his eyes momentarily, before they sprung wide open and he dashed out of the room.
Thankful for the headmasters intervention, Gandalf exited the room, heading to the Great Hall.
The rest of the day passed without much excitement. Gandalf continued his class in transfiguration, and went afterwards to the library, studying everything from charms to transfiguration, to complex manuscripts, ancient and modern, on the mysterious nature of "magic".
Throughout the day, one thing nagged at the old wizards mind. The problem of Dumbledore's hand. He had given it little enough thought throughout the week, but now it returned to his mind, and he began to wonder if perhaps he should not do something. His gaps in knowledge of the magic of this world could easily be filled by Dumbledore, or any teacher more knowledgeable in the necessary areas. And he was, quite necessarily, powerful enough in his own brand of "magic". Perhaps the combination of the two worlds' knowledge would succeed where others have evidently failed. He pondered the idea throughout the day.
Finally, when night fell, he decided to pay the house of Ravenclaw a visit.
To be continued…
Hello, and thank you all for being so patient. I hope you enjoy this last piece. I've decided to continue this properly in another chapter. Sorry if it feels a bit off. I just decided that this story needed to get on its way. I hope to get to some more interesting chapters soon.
I hope the scene with the teachers was alright, and that I've managed to talk about "magic" in Lord of the Rings well enough. It's a pain in arse to talk about, since Tolkien didn't really talk much about it. And magic in Harry Potter is also difficult, particularly the creation of spells, which I intend to explore later on. I fear the whole scene might have been a bit rushed.
Once again, thank you for your patience, and please review. Constructive criticism is always welcome.