Well, even in the time since the last chapter, I still don't own Harry Potter or Halo. Still wish I did. Also: I know that the first class is Defense Against the Dark Arts, not Care of Magical Creatures... but the second level of Halo much more closely resembles CoMC.

CHAPTER TWO: WARTHOGS

The Bumblebee escape pod soared through the atmosphere of the unfamiliar ring, its hull glowing with poorly-animated fire. Exactly where it would land seemed quite certain – no doubt it would touch down dramatically by the edge of a cliff. But it was definitely not going slow enough for a soft landing. "We're coming in too fast!" shouted the pilot, confirming the suspicions of the occupants.

If the extra speed wasn't bad enough, the rear wings – designed to work like a parachute – immediately broke off. The pilot cursed, wondering why she'd ever agreed to fly this pure-plastic pod. "Airbrake failure – they blew too early!" An emergency light flashed in the passenger area, warning all occupants to panic as loudly as possible. The pod crashed headlong into the ground and the screen whited out.

"Harry, Ron, can you hear me!"

Harry and Ron struggled to their feet, and turned in the direction of their friend's voice.

"At last...are you all right? Can you move?"

They'd already struggled to their feet. They could move.

"Yeah, we're fine, Hermione," said Harry.

"Where are you?" asked Ron. "I can't really see. It kinda blinded me when the screen went all white."

Hermione stepped out of the shadows and looked around. There had been several other soldiers with them when the pod had launched, but now, thanks to the crash, they'd all been knocked unconscious. "The others..." She glanced at the pod, with small bits of smoke coming out of random spots on the ship and the ground. "The impact...there's nothing we can do." But a few chocolate frogs would've helped!

The three walked around the outside of the pod and collected equipment – fragmentation wizard crackers, a few jelly beans, and the Carpe Retractum spellbook. Harry – currently under player control – noticed a Depulso tile sticking out of the nearby wall. When activated, the tile opened a secret portal in the nearby rock face, containing what must have been an ancient Forerunner treasure chest. A quick cast of Alohomora revealed that it contained a wizard card...a giant two-foot-tall wizard card that could stand on its thin edge, like the quarter in that one Twilight Zone episode.

Sudo 'Aptgetee

2516-2552

Pioneered the use of overcharged plasma pistols in the making of the Wiggenweld potion, which you can use in every Harry Potter PC game except this one.

Seriously, does anybody ever actually read their wizard cards, or is that just in YouTube walkthroughs? Anyhow, after they'd checked out the Folio Universitas, the trio crossed a long, railing-less bridge over a ridiculously deep chasm. Harry – halo_player_117 – reached the end of the bridge first, and quickly turned to the right. Ron followed in a straight line and made it to the end, but Hermione – lacking the basic intelligence to not cut the corner – walked off the edge of the steel bridge and plummeted 128 feet before disappearing and respawning back on the bridge.

"Warning," she said, oblivious to having just made a sub-amoeba's-intelligence blunder. "I've detected multiple Covenant dropships on approach. I'd recommend moving into those hills. If we're lucky, the Covenant will believe that everyone aboard this lifeboat fainted in the crash." Hey, somebody had to fill in for the AI that had quit her job.

Sure enough, a loud hum soon pierced the air. I guess the Spirit dropships don't know the lyrics. A giant purple spork glided into view and landed near the abandoned drop ship, releasing a wave of Grunts and Elites. Harry tried to target them, but found that even though his wand's range could reach them (he could tell by the little yellow particles way across the gap), it was too far to cast a spell. However, it turns out there is really no point in dealing with the enemies that spawn way back there, so the three continued on through the brush.

Suddenly, they stopped dead in their tracks, their feet not properly parallel to the ground. Up ahead was a squad of three Grunts, led by – no, it couldn't be... the trio collectively gasped in poorly-animated shock. Leading the Covenant squad was a terribly-modeled image of Draco Malfoy.

"Well, look who it is," he announced. "It's Weasel, Grunge, and Potty."

"You stole that line from Peeves," snapped Harry. "You're supposed to list me first, then Ron, and you don't even mention Hermione, who for some reason isn't in the room when you say this line back in the first level."

"I should've known this pathetic excuse for a rat had something to do with you."

Ron glanced around, and realized that in all the confusion of trying to get to the bridge, they'd forgotten all about Scabbers. He'd probably died when the Pillar of Autumn landed on the ring. Oh, well. He was a bad guy in disguise anyway, so no serious harm done. Malfoy was oblivious, of course, and continued with his pre-programmed lines.

"Well, you're not gonna get past me this time! Right, guys?" The three Grunts agreed.

"Oh, yeah?" countered Harry. "I've beaten you multiple times when you tried to impede my progress in the last two games – why should that change now?"

"I'll tell ya why!" growled one of the Grunts in his deepest voice, the pitch still exceeding that of a decent falsetto. "'Cuz this time, he's got us fightin' for him! And we're the best! We'll bite your kneecaps off!"

One Rictusempra spell later, Flipyap was on his back, groaning and muttering something about a food nipple. Furious, Malfoy cast a spell that produced a red beam – one of those really slow-moving beams that are a piece of cake to side-step, as long as you have the sense to use WASD instead of the arrow keys. (Oh, and I have lots of rants about the HP games' use of the arrow keys.) The spell missed by a mile, and rather than participate in the duel, Hermione ran up and melee'd Malfoy in the face, and apparently it was a terrific punch because he fell on his back, unconscious.

"LEADER FAINTED!" cried one of the two standing Grunts. "RUN AWAY!"

A couple Rictusempras took down the remaining midget Covenant soldiers and left the area clear for exploration. Halo players don't realize it, but the bushes in this area of the level are full of Every Flavor Beans. After collecting all the...er, collectibles, Harry, Ron, and Hermione made their way through a narrow pathway into the next part of the level, stopping along the way to open another magic chest.

"ALOHOMORA!"

Inside were six beans and a Cauldron Cake – which, as Ron commented to no one in particular, "I'll bet they're worth loads more than beans in Fred and George's shop!" Yes, I'm sure there are plenty of things worth more than beans. Apparently, nobody ever figures out the idea that maybe jelly beans, cauldron cakes, and pumpkin pasties are edible.

So, anyhow, after they'd collected everything, the three reached the second section of the map, in which a group of Marines engaged a group of Covenant. They just sat and watched, figuring it best not to get between bullets and superheated plasma. The Marines were winning the fight, but only because Harry Potter PC games always force you to play on Easy, except the boss levels of the first two games, where you're forced to play on Legendary.

They did a great job fending off the alien forces. Almost too great for the Covenant to bear, in fact. Just as a Marine beat the stamina out of the last Elite, the alien growled, "You hax0r n00b!"

After the threats were gone, the trio approached the structure that the Marines were using for cover. Sergeant Johnson came up to them. "It's a mess, Sir," he said. "We're scattered all over this valley. We called for evac, but... until you showed up, I thought we were cooked." Right, after they'd just beat down seven consecutive waves of aliens with no casualties.

Soon, a Pelican dropship arrived to deliver a Warthog and rescue any surviving soldiers. However, since everyone had survived the engagement with the Covenant, there wasn't enough room for all the Marines in the Pelican's passenger compartment, so it had to leave a few behind. Not that they seemed to care much.

The Warthog had exactly three seats, so the three Hogwarts Spartans boarded it. Harry took the driver's seat (or, rather, the "Driver seat"), since he was the current player character, and no AI can be trusted with driving a vehicle. Ron took the back seat with the chain gun turret, simply because he probably would.

Hermione took the side seat, intending simply to cast more spells at the aliens, since she was more skilled no more skilled at spells than anyone else. "You take the, um, spell seat," Ron had told her. "You know more spells than we do." Right, she knew one more spell than the rest, and it was some useless one involving a rabbit and a dragon, which actually sounds like an episode of South Park.

So Harry pushed one of the Warthog's six pedals and the future jeep lurched forward (one of its four directions), triggering the "Flying Buckbeak" music cue even though it couldn't fly. Rather than drive down the safe, friendly downgrade into the valley below, he took the long way around, soon driving right off a roughly-100-foot cliff. "YEEE-HAAA!" shouted Ron, oblivious to the fact that they were all very likely to die in the impact with the ground.

The Warthog, traveling about 28,645 miles per hour downwards, finally impacted the ground with a harmless "bang", and the group continued onwards. As they reached a huge tunnel cut into the rock face, Hermione spoke up with her opinion of the structure. "This cave is not a natural formation," she said. "Someone built it...so it must lead somewhere."

Sick of her Cortana-like commentary, Harry used a secret key combination, jumped halfway out of the driver seat, and, while steering with his left foot, held his hand over Hermione's mouth. Unfortunately, collision detection data did not affect a character's ability to talk, and she continued to drone about intercepting Covenant messages.

The group eventually reached a large underground room containing OVER 9000 Covenant aliens. "There are too many of them!" exclaimed Hermione. "Everyone cast Rictusempra!" shouted Harry, despite there would be only one person doing so, and 'Mione knocked the aliens harmlessly on their backs while Ron epically owned them with the mounted machine gun. Harry also did his part, turning a couple Elites into roadkill. Ahh, forget the fainting part.

Once the room had been cleared, Harry drove the Warthog up to the large gap. It wasn't going to be possible to jump – no ramps or anything. There was a small discolored floor tile just before the gap, and it obviously hid a Spongify tile – but how to get it?

Ron, who had automatically learned the Carpe Retractum spell by crash-landing on Halo, spotted a glowing blue orb high in the air, mounted to a rope. He cast the Ron-only spell on it, pulling and releasing it and triggering a second one to sprout out of the floor on the far end of the ledge. This one was fastened down, and when he cast the spell, he promptly flew through the air and landed on the far platform.

From there, he quickly spotted a pair of Depulso tiles – but it required two people to cast at once. Someone else would have to find a way across the gap – and nobody else knew the Carpe Retractum spell, for some reason.

So, the camera zipped back to the first platform and came to rest above and behind Hermione's head. This was a perfect opportunity for that crappy spell she can use in this game! She located a statue of an ugly dragon and cast Draconifors on it, turning it into a real live ugly dragon that she could now control (badly). She collected the jelly beans and floating pumpkins that were conveniently placed around the Fireball Pickup, and looked for the equally convenient Dragon Platform Thing.

Finding one, she set the dragon down in front of the torch and pressed the LEFT MOUSE BUTTON. The pathetic dragon breathed a burst of flame that lit the torch, and somehow, this caused the aforementioned floor tile to slide away, revealing that Spongify tile. Harry and Hermione used it to bounce across the gap, collecting not only an arc of jelly beans, but a Wizard Card as well!

John Smith 117

2511-2519

Obscure Hogwarts enrollee who mysteriously died of neural problems. Believed to be a clone.

The downside to this bunch of moves was that the three no longer had their Warthog, and now had to walk all the way through the rest of the level. To halo_player_117's relief, the screen narrowed just as they reached the entrance to the next tunnel, and the next cutscene started. A totally boring, poorly written, unskippable cutscene, but a cutscene nonetheless.

"It's almost time for Care of Magical Creatures Class!" exclaimed Hermione, quite out of context. "And Hagrid's teaching this year," added Harry. They (thankfully) time-warped to the end of the tunnel, stepping out into the daylight near another poorly-animated stream. A group of students (and a few Covenant as well) had already gathered in the distance, led by a terribly-designed model of Hagrid.

But a more interesting issue at hand was the action coming from the right. People were running out of the woods through a trail and screaming, chased by the Covenant's air soldiers. A slim brunette with a face full of freckles, seeming to be animated better than the main characters, ran up to the trio. "We've got a Drone infestation on our hands," she said.

"What can we do to help?" asked Hermione.

"Provoke them into attacking you, then fend them all off," replied the girl. "You'll earn a Collector's Card each time you can beat the swarm. But that's no easy feat!"

Just then, a previously camouflaged Elite materialized behind her, grabbing her around the waist and drawing an energy dagger. Just as he was about to make her lose consciousness, she squirmed out of his grasp, drew a combat knife, and stabbed him in the neck, making him faint. After taking a second to recover from the surprise, she hijacked a nearby Ghost, and made herself scarce before the UNSC could arrest her on suspicion of being a Mary Sue.

The trio decided to come back to the Drone infestation later, and continued instead to the large group of students (five, to be exact). When they arrived, Hagrid spoke up.

"Wel'ome to Care of Magical Creatures Class," he said. "I'll be teachin' ya this term. I'd like ter introduce yeh ter Buckbeak. He's a Sentinel. Today, you'll be learnin' how ter ride him."

Floating in midair next to Hagrid was a metal contraption resembling a bird. The students gaped at it with second-class facial expressions of curiosity and fear. "You first, Harry. Just walk up ter Beaky, and give him a bow." I will assume you read "bow" as the act of bending down to show respect, not the thing you find on a present.

Harry walked up and bowed using the first half of his "fainting" animation. The Sentinel nodded with its entire 100,000-year-old metal body, and allowed him to climb onto it. "Hello, Buckbeak," said Harry. "There's a good Sentinel!"

Malfoy, who had apparently awaken since the previous encounter, took a step forward and sneered in a rather lame way. "You won't catch me bowing to that rusty beast," he commented.

The Sentinel turned itself around, aiming for the open areas out in the air. "Your goal," explained Hagrid, "is ter fly through enough bats ter beat the top number on the coun'-er. As soon as yer ready, just click the RIGHT MOUSE BUTTON ter make Beaky fly."

This, of course, was the most completely irrelevant mission ever made for a game, but sure enough, a bunch of groups of bats formed themselves into circles to fly through. Harry launched into the sky atop the ancient machine, and started flying through the circles. He soon found that it was impossible to fly in the wrong direction, and thanks to the inability to turn even 45 degrees off course, he couldn't even hit half the rings he was supposed to be able to reach. However, he remembered the critical order in which to fly through them, and was thus able to unlock the IWHBYD skull after he landed.

"You did epic, dude," applauded Hagrid, his speech now affected by the famous Halo 3 skull. "Have a floating pentagon!" Harry walked through the wizard card he dropped, and added another entry to the essentially useless Folio Universitas.

Robin

2537-present

Slim, freckly, brown-haired Mary Sue who survived an attempted Assassination and escaped this story in a hijacked Ghost before she could be arrested as a Mary Sue.

Malfoy could care less. "You won't catch me bowing to that filthy beast," he said. Furious, the metal creature lunged towards him. "IMMA FIRIN MAH LAZOR!" it shouted, and blasted him with a laser beam. "AAAGH!" he screamed. "I'm dying! Look at me! It's killed me!" Reminds me of when Caboose said, "I am dead!"

"Yer not dyin'," said Hagrid. Malfoy got up, showing no signs of injury, and walked off screen with him.

"Do you think he'll be all right?" asked Ron.

"Of course!" replied Harry. "See how badly they animated that? It looks like he's completely fine!"

"You can bet Malfoy will make something out of this," commented Hermione.

And that was EA's idea of a cliffhanger.

I'm kinda running out of ideas for this story. I could definitely work the Shrieking Shack level into the level "The Library" (and I have a number of plans for that part...), but that's about it. Expect an abbreviated version of the game... and then expect a patronum.