Chapter Two: The Shadow of Legend
Harry Potter was in an extremely good mood as he exited Defence Against the Dark Arts with the rest of the class for lunch, even another boring lesson from old toad face Umbridge couldn't damper his spirits. Needless to say things couldn't have been better for him at the moment; Dumbledore's Army was making astounding progress, more or less the whole school now believed that he was telling the truth about Voldemort's return since that Quibbler interview and best of all, Cho Chang was back on speaking terms with him, he wondered if they could consider themselves to be going steady now ever since she had forgiven him for that disastrous first date at Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop. But nonetheless, if this year could come to a close without any more hiccups, ("and hopefully with Umbridge's sacking") he thought to himself gleefully then he could come back next year in much better spirits than when he arrived this year.
Beside him, red-haired, freckled Ronald Weasley and brown bushy-haired Hermione Granger were having one of their usual bickering's.
"For the last time Ronald; I. Will. Not let you copy my History of Magic homework," Hermione said, punctuating her words for added emphasis.
"Oh come off it Hermione!" Ron scoffed, "It's not like I'm going to carry it on next year or anything, and I just want to be able to pass it so I could have at least one more O.W.L to my name."
Hermione snorted in derision, "Honestly, how you are going to be able to hold a job when I'm not there looking over your shoulder to make sure you haven't signed the name Roonil Waslib instead of Ronald Weasley on your CV is beyond me!"
Now it was Ron's turn to roll his eyes, "Whatever, let's just get down to the dinner already, I'm starving, feels like I haven't eaten in days!" He exclaimed as he clutched at his stomach as it gave a particularly loud rumble.
Hermione sighed in exasperation, "Is food all you ever think about Ron? No wonder you need to copy my homework!"
"Only because you're the best witch in our year Hermione," Ron said with a hint of genuine fondness in his voice, "I don't know where I'd be without you."
"Obviously not." Hermione said, trying to sound sarcastic, but looking gratified all the same.
"He's right you know Hermione," Harry grinned, wanting in on the action as well, "and after all Ron, what would the teachers think of 'the best student in the year' if she turned down help to those who desperately needed it?" He asked as he elbowed Ron in a friendly gesture.
"Oh shut up." Hermione snapped, but she couldn't hide the pink blush that appeared on her cheeks.
"I know Harry, imagine what McGonagall would say," Ron added in a mock grave tone of voice, "Goodness me Miss Granger, and I thought you were the sensible one, can you not see that Mr Potter and Mr Weasley would do anything for you and yet you refuse to help them in their hour of need! Five points from Gryffindor!" Ron added in a surprisingly good imitation of the Transfiguration Professor's strict manner causing both himself and Harry to burst into peals of laughter, and causing Hermione, who had gone scarlet with both anger and embarrassment to wrench her copy of Advanced Transfiguration out of her bag and start beating both boys about their heads with it, but Ron seemed to get most of it.
"Ouch!... Hey!...Come on old friend….old friend!" Ron cried as he tried to shield himself from Hermione's blows.
"Old friend!? You stole my idea for showing the Shield Charm in the last D.A. lesson! You cut me out of demonstrating the Impedimenta Jinx entirely!" Hermione nearly screeched as she continued to pound away at Ron having forgotten about Harry completely.
Harry laughed softly as he turned away to head down to dinner; he had found that the best thing to do was when they got like this was to leave them alone. But when he turned around he found himself face to face with the pretty face and long silky black hair of Cho Chang.
"Hi." Harry said automatically as he felt heat rush to his face from Cho's sudden appearance.
"Hi back." Cho said politely with a shy smile.
"We'll be at dinner Harry." Hermione said, ceasing her beating of Ron, seizing him by the arm and dragging him away down the hall, leaving Harry and Cho alone.
Cho stared after then and stifled a giggle, "Did I miss anything interesting?"
"No, no…just…err...Ron and Hermione, arguing over nothing as usual." Harry said nervously. He quickly searched around for something else to say, "How've you been?"
"Oh, very well thank you." She replied, flashing him a dazzlingly smile, that only made Harry blush more as he stifled a giggle of his own. This in turn set Cho off and pretty soon, both of them were laughing heartily; the embarrassing tension in the air finally broken.
"Yourself?" Cho asked once asked once they had finally gotten a hold of themselves.
"Just fine," Quickly he decided now was the best time for a compliment, "You did great last D.A. lesson, your Shield Charm is coming on very well."
This caused Cho to go red, "Only because I had such a great teacher."
Harry grinned; delighted in spite of himself that Cho thought he was a great teacher.
"The reason I wanted to talk to you was because there's another Hogsmeade weekend coming up soon and I was wondering if you'd like to head out with me again." She asked in a rush, looking tense.
Harry was taken aback; after the last trip he was certain she'd never head out with him again. But then he remembered that she'd forgiven him for it,
"Sure I'd love to, same time same place?" He asked, hoping he didn't sound too enthusiastic.
Cho's face broke out into a relaxed smile, "Great! I'll see you there then?"
"Sure." He said, before quickly adding, "I meant it when I said you'd been making great progress in the D.A. I'd say you're one of the best."
Cho blushed again; flattered, "And I meant it when I said you were a really good teacher."
Cho hesitated before headed off again as if there was something more she wanted to say, before she leaned forward quickly and kissed him on the corner of his mouth, but unlike last time, she held it slightly longer before dashing off down the corridor.
Harry touched the spot where she had kissed him feeling slightly light headed, before setting off after Ron and Hermione, whistling a merry tune while he went. Clearly nothing could spoil what was turning out to be a perfect day.
Two thing happened at once; Harry felt like his head had been split open as his scar burned fiercer than it ever had before, causing him to double over in agony, clutching his head, and at the same time two people's screams rent the air, causing Harry's blood to turn to icy: Ron and Hermione were in trouble. Blinking through the pain Harry pelted up the deserted corridor and whipped around the corner, greeting him was a gruesome sight.
Strange creatures were grappling with Ron and Hermione who were desperately trying to shake them off, there were about ten to fifteen of them. At first Harry though they were goblins, but upon closer inspection he saw they appeared to be made up of earth and grass; they had vines twisted together that served as long lanky arms and legs with sharp claws on each, long thorns protruded from the tops of their flat grass-covered heads that resembled horns, and beady insectoid eyes peered out from underneath two small mounds that served as their eye sockets. About five of them wielded long iron spears with which they were poking and jabbing at his two friends with, backing them up against the wall.
Ron managed to shake one of the little beasts off his arm, grabbed his wand and shouted,
"Stupefy!" The bright red light of the Stunning Spell knocked the creature clean off its feet and slammed it against a wall with enough force to cause it to break apart and fall to the ground in pieces. This only caused several of the others to shriek and growl in anger, one of them even hurled his spear straight at Ron. Without think, Harry instinctively grabbed his wand, pointed it at the spear and yelled,
"Impedimenta!" A bright blue, blast of magic shot out of the tip of his wand with the speed of a bullet and struck the spear dead centre, causing it to slow its progress and giving Ron enough time to kick several of the other monsters out of his way so that he could get out of the spear's trajectory. This unfortunately caused the creatures to notice Harry's presence, several of them advancing on him grunting and growling, but Harry was prepared.
"Flipendo!" The whitish-blue jet of light of the Knockback Jinx shot out of his wand and sent one of them flying backwards about ten paces where it also shattered into pieces from the impact.
Two more of the creatures hurled their spears at Harry, but he easily blocked them with a Shield Charm and retaliated with a Reductor Curse which caused both of them to exploded in a blast of earth and vines.
Hermione meanwhile was being assaulted by three the spear wielding monstrosities, but she wasn't going down without a fight,
"Inflatus!" She shouted pointing her wand at one of them which began to swell at an exponential rate before exploding; showering her with dirt, but that didn't slow her down, pointing her wand at the second one she shouted,
"Avifors!" A stream of black energy, tinged with blue that resembled a flow of ravens struck the second one, and in an instant it had reshaped itself into a tiny sparrow which promptly took flight out an open window. The third one made several angry clicking noises before raising its spear to hurl it at her, but Hermione didn't waste a second,
"Glacius!" A blast of ice wind shot from her wand and froze the creature solid in less than five seconds, but she didn't let it get off that easily;
"Little beast!" She snarled as she kicked at the helpless creature with all her might, shattering it into a million pieces. She whipped her hair out of her face as she turned to face Harry and Ron who were finishing off the others.
Harry stood panting as he looked around at the mess the creatures had made of the corridor, but before he could even ask how they hell they were going to explain this to the teachers, the windows above Ron and Hermione's heads shattered and three larger creatures leapt through them. The first two roughly human sized; tall, thin and distinctly more lizard-like than the others, with reptilian-like snouts and tails, they had crossbows strapped to their left arms, and short swords bound to their sides. Ron and Hermione didn't even have time to scream before the creatures knocked their wands out of their hands with a swift whip of their tails, covered their mouths with their hands, and wrapped their other arms around their chests, pinning their arms to their sides.
"Guys!" Harry shouted in shock as he raised his wand at the monsters that had trapped his friends, but the monsters used Ron and Hermione as shields, hissing threateningly at Harry.
The third one that had come through the window was of bulkier build than the other two and seemed to be made up of wood rather than earth. It had red eyes, curved tusks jutting up from its lower jaw and strange bat-shaped ears. It had a large metal shield strapped to its left arm and in its right hand it held a sword. It glared at Harry before turning to its comrades, opened its mouth and spoke in such a strange chocked growling voice that Harry had to strain his ears in order to understand it.
"Take them to the Forbidden Forest; I shall deal with this one."
The two creatures restraining Ron and Hermione nodded before somersaulting back out of the two windows they had come in, taking the their two, struggling captives with them, leaving Harry and the other one alone.
The creature began to advance on Harry slowly with its sword raised up to its shoulder, perfectly poised to strike. But Harry was far too angry to be intimidated by this sight, he stood his ground and addressed the creature, "I don't who you are or what you want, but I don't have time to deal with you, and if you get out of my way now, I promise I'll leave you in one piece." He said in a low voice that shook with anger.
At this the creature merely made a gargled noise which Harry guessed was supposed to be laughter and continued its slow advance on the teenager, the blade of its sword glinting evilly in the sunlight.
Harry gripped the handle of his wand hard, "Wrong answer, Stupefy!"
The bolt of red light soared from Harry's wand tip, but the creature just raised its shield and deflected the blast before lunging forwards to slash at harry with its sword.
Harry threw himself out of the way of the swords vertical slice before rolling over and aiming at the creatures exposed back,
White light sliced a gouge in the creature's back, causing it to throw its head back and roar in pain, but as it did so, a shower of dark purple energy erupted from around its body, leaving scorch marks in the floor wherever the blasts hit. Harry rolled out of range of the dark energy but as he straightened back up again the creature was nearly upon him; it slashed at him again and this time the blade just missed his neck. Trying not to panic, Harry quickly aimed at the creatures face and shouted,
A stream of flames shot from his wand and hit the monster in the face, causing it to stumble backwards screeching in agony, Harry thought for sure that a teacher or someone would hear the noise and come to investigate, but then he remembered that they were all at dinner. Realising he was on his own he knew he had to end this fight quick; he had to save Ron and Hermione. Aiming his wand at the writhing monsters shield he cried, "Carpe Retractum!"
A rope made of orange energy shot out of Harry's wand and latched itself onto the creature's shield; Harry seized his wand with both hands and pulled as hard as he could. The creature, having recovered from the pain, saw what Harry was trying to do and pulled back, a tug of war ensued between the two, but in the end Harry won; and wrenched the monster's shield off its arm and hurled it down the corridor where it crashed into a suit of armour.
The creature snarled in fury and charged at Harry with its sword held directly out in front of it, intending to skewer him on its point, but Harry was faster,
A jet of scarlet light from Harry's wand tip hit the monster's sword and sent it spinning out of his grasp, but Harry wasn't done yet; pointing at the monsters legs he cried, "Reducto!"
The brownish-orange light of the curse connected with both of the monsters legs and blasted them clean off, sending wood splinter flying everywhere and causing the monster to tumble head first into the wall moaning in pain.
Harry kept his wand trained on the monster as he walked over to it and kicked it over onto its back, it tried to claw at Harry but he brought his foot down on its wrist and pinned its left arm to the floor.
"Who are you, what are you, who sent you!?" Harry snarled, his wand pointed at the creature's throat.
The creature stared up at him with hate filled red eyes, "The first of many, who will not rest until this world and all others bow at our master's feet!" It snarled as it wrenched a small vial of blue liquid out of a notch in it left arm and swallowed it whole before Harry could do anything to stop it.
"Long live…. The Dark Master!" It gargled before blue foam dribbled from its mouth and its head slumped backwards on the floor; it had poisoned itself.
Harry tried hard not to panic, but his mind was racing; Ron and Hermione had just been kidnapped by some weird monsters that had somehow managed to infiltrate Hogwarts, a feat itself which should have been impossible. Harry's first thought was to run straight to Dumbledore, but then he remembered that the Headmaster hadn't even so much as looked at him all year and raw anger ran through him as he remembered this. Besides, by the time he had reached Dumbledore and tried to explain this absurd story to him it might already be too late for Ron and Hermione who had been taken to the Forbidden Forest of all places.
Just then it hit Harry, and he knew what he had to do, without wasting a breath he sprinted down the hall, flew down the moving staircases, nearly tumbling Filch and Mrs Norris along the way ("Watch where you're going Potter!", "Meow!"), past the Great Hall where the rest of the school was having dinner, completely oblivious to the battle that had just occurred, through the huge double doors and out into the sunny grounds, heading straight for the Forbidden Forest, or more importantly, who lived at the edge of it. After all; who knew the Forest better than Hogwarts' Gamekeeper: Rubeus Hagrid.