Chapter Five: The Legends Meet
The next morning, after some last minute checks, Madame Pomfrey declared Harry in perfect health once again and discharged him from the Hospital Wing.
Harry set off down the corridor at a brisk pace, his destination was the Headmaster's Office; he was determined to get answers from Dumbledore one way or another, he wasn't going to stand for being kept in the dark any longer.
He rounded the corner, only to hear an all too familiar noise sound out behind him,
The sickeningly sweet, false cough of Dolores Umbridge sent shivers running down Harry's spine. Not wanting another week's worth of detentions, Harry forced himself to turn around and said in a voice he hoped sounded calm and polite,
"Yes, Professor Umbridge?"
She was dressed in her usual pink cardigan, with her mousy brown curly hair, but it did nothing to improve her toad like appearance, with her bulging eyes and wide mouth, that was stretched into smile.
"I notice that you have been to the Hospital Wing Mr Potter, although for what I do not know, and the Headmaster is reluctant to tell me so." She said in her high pitched, girly voice, her steely eyes boring into Harry's, who tried desperately not to look guilty.
"Perhaps you would be so kind as to tell me why?"
Harry's heart was hammering, she clearly didn't know exactly what had transpired in the Forest, but he couldn't afford to let her know either; not only would she not believe him, but she would just take it as further proof that he was lying or unhinged and use it to further the Ministry's smear campaign against him and Dumbledore.
"I- well I was…."
"Yes? Go on." She pressed.
But before Harry could think of a convincing enough lie, another voice sounded out behind him, it belonged to someone who could only make Harry's current situation ten times worse.
"There you are Potter."
It was Severus Snape, Harry's least favourite teacher. He strode up to Harry and Umbridge, his black robes billowing behind him; making him look like an overgrown bat. His greasy black hair hung in curtains around his sallow skin. He came to a halt in front of them, staring down his hooked noise at Harry with undisguised dislike. Harry stared defiantly back in equal dislike, the mutual dislike between the two had possibly increased over the year ever since the Occlumency lessons Dumbledore had ordered Snape to give him to help shield his mind against Voldemort. Snape had immensely enjoyed making Harry relive his worst memories, and Harry's performance had suffered badly as a result.
"We need to discuss your remedial potions lesson Potter." Snape said coldly, "After your last abysmal lesson I feel that even more extra practise is needed if you are to have any hope of at least scrapping 'Acceptable' in your Potions O.W.L."
Harry gritted his teeth in annoyance; remedial potions were the excuse Harry had to give anyone who asked why he was having extra lessons with Snape.
"We'll start right away, follow me Potte-"
In his anger at seeing Snape he had completely forgotten about Umbridge.
"Please forgive me Professor Snape, but I was just about to question Potter on why he was in the Hospital Wing, the Headmaster has failed to provide a satisfactory explanation, so I thought I'd get the truth from the horse's mouth." She said in her poisoned honeyed tones.
Snape stared at Umbridge in cold indifference, "Well it does not surprise me that Potter has been to the Hospital Wing, given the number of misdemeanours he has gotten up to during his five years here, but I would be extremely surprised to get any version of the truth out of him at all."
Harry had to bite his tongue to stop himself from snarling an insult at Snape; he wouldn't give him an excuse to take fifty points from Gryffindor.
"But I'm sure whatever reason for his being there can wait for an hour, I would like to get these extra classes over and done with as soon as possible, I have no wish to be in the boy's presence for longer than is necessary as I'm sure you'll agree?" He finished with a slight smirk in Harry's direction.
Umbridge's smile broadened even further, "Professor Snape, as Hogwarts High Inquisitor, I'm sure you'll understand that it is in my best interests to make sure that all students are performing to the best of their ability, the Minister wishes to make sure that the students are kept safe and-"
"I'm sure that is why you'll understand why I need to take Potter immediately." Snape said smoothly, cutting across her, "As High Inquisitor, it is in your best interests to address the falling standards at Hogwarts, which I'm sure includes making sure all student's, even the hopeless ones, pass their O.W.L's as best as they can, we wouldn't want the Minister thinking you weren't doing your job would we?"
Despite the obvious jibe directed at him, Harry was mildly impressed at how Snape could be unfailingly polite and yet scathingly condescending at the same time.
Umbridge was still smiling, but harry could see a muscle clenched in her jaw, she was clearly not happy about letting her prey escape.
"Very well Professor Snape, but of course, you will send him my way once you've finished with him?" She asked in her soft poisonously sweet voice that she used whenever she was furious.
"Certainly," Snape replied with a slight bow, "Come Potter." He said as he turned and swept away.
Harry wasn't sure which was worse: being given the third degree by Umbridge or having extra Occlumency lessons with Snape, he thought as he walked alongside the Potions Master.
But as they reached the Grand Staircase, Snape continued on up the stairs instead of down them towards his office in the dungeons.
"I thought you said you were taking me for extra Occlumency lessons?" Harry asked in suspicion.
"I believed I asked you to address me as 'sir' or 'professor' at all times?" Snape asked without looking at Harry.
"Where are we going then sir?" Harry asked through clenched teeth, hoping Snape would give him an answer.
"The Headmaster's Office." Snape replied coldly.
"Why there?" Harry asked, caught off guard by this.
"Because the Headmaster asked me to bring you there." Snape replied as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.
Harry said nothing more as they continued up the stairs, if Dumbledore had sent Snape to collect him as soon as he was discharged from the Hospital Wing; it had to have been about the incident in the Forest. Although Harry felt gratified that Dumbledore was finally going to give him some straight answers, it still irked him that Dumbledore hadn't thought it important to come and collect Harry himself or sent Professor McGonagall to fetch him instead of Snape.
At last they reached the stone gargoyle that led up to the Headmaster's Office.
"Fizzing Whizzbee", Snape said to the gargoyle, it was obviously the password for the gargoyle jumped aside, the wall behind split open, and the ascended the moving stone staircase. They reached the polished door with the griffon knocker. Snape knocked twice, a voice inside said, "Enter", and Snape strode inside, Harry following closely on his heels.
Dumbledore was sitting in the throne-like chair behind his desk; his fingers were steepled over his mouth as he gazed at Snape. On the other side of his desk sat Ron and Hermione.
"Harry, oh Harry!" Hermione looked like she wanted to rush up and hug him, but she restrained herself. Ron appeared to have been holding his breath, but he now let out a sigh of relief upon seeing Harry.
Dumbledore smiled slightly at them before turning back to Snape, "Thank you Severus, I can handle it from here."
Snape gave a curt nod, before giving Harry a sour look and marching out of the room.
Harry looked up at Dumbledore, and was startled to see that the Headmaster was looking him in the eye again.
"Sit down please Harry." Dumbledore said, gesturing to the empty third chair in front of his desk in-between Ron and Hermione.
Harry hesitated before taking a seat, as soon as he did; Hermione and Ron pelted him with questions and statements.
"Are you alright mate, you're not hurt?"
"When we woke up and say you unconscious we feared the worst!"
"Hagrid came to and we took you back up the castle straight away."
"Have you ever seen anything like those creatures before Harry?"
"Do you really think You-Know-Who sent them?"
"Guys, GUYS! Please, one thing at a time!" Harry nearly shouted, feeling embarrassed but gratified at how much they cared for him.
"Calm yourselves please Mr Weasley, Miss Granger." Dumbledore said soothingly, before turning to look at Harry.
"Ron and Hermione have told me everything about what transpired in the Forest yesterday Harry."
"And you believed them?" Harry asked in surprise.
"As soon as Hagrid carried you back up to castle and your friends showed me the remains of those creatures I knew that my worst fear had been confirmed, and for that I am truly sorry Harry." Dumbledore finished gravely.
Harry raised his eyebrow in confusion, "What for, if I'd only gone and got you in the first place, then Ron and Hermione wouldn't have gotten hurt." A fresh wave of guilt washed over Harry as he remembered how his friends had been knocked unconscious by the huge creature, "Guys I'm so sorry, I should never have just run after you by myself, I should have gotten help!" He stated imploringly, "My selfishness nearly got both of you killed and if that happened I could never forgive myse-"
"Harry, mate it's alright!" Ron said holding his hands up to slow Harry down.
"Ron's right Harry, we would've done the same for you." Hermione added.
"And in case you forgot, you weren't alone; Hagrid and Fang were with you, if they weren't then you would've been creamed by those guys." Ron said with his usual impish grin.
A great weight in Harry's chest was lifted by his friend's statements of loyalty.
"Guys…" Harry could only breathe softly.
"You are fortunate to have such dear friends Harry." Dumbledore said, smiling serenely, but then he suddenly became business-like,
"Ron and Hermione have filled me in on most of what transpired Harry, but I need to know what happened after they had been knocked unconscious by the large creature." He said, staring at Harry intensely with his bright blue eyes.
Harry eyed Dumbledore cautiously, he wasn't sure how much Dumbledore knew, but whatever he did know he made sure he was going to spill, it was time to make good in his promise to himself about getting the information he needed.
"One condition, you tell us everything you know about those creatures and why they attacked us." He said firmly.
Ron and Hermione exchanged a look of shock, but Dumbledore seemed to sag in his chair, suddenly looking like the old man he was but Harry had never thought of him as.
"I apologize to you once again Harry. It was my not giving you access to necessary information which resulted in you and your friends being attacked, once you have told me all you know, then I promise I will tell you all that I know." He replied earnestly.
Harry didn't know what to say to this; he had not thought it would be that easy to get information out of the Headmaster, so he nodded instead.
Dumbledore smiled, before gesturing at Harry to begin.
Harry took a deep breath and launched into speech, he told him about how the monster had grabbed him, told him it would bring him back to its master in pieces if that was what it had to do, how the pair of young Dragons had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Once or twice Ron and Hermione showed signs of wanting to interrupt, but Dumbledore would always raise his hand to silence them. Harry told them how the Dragons had fought with the monster and killed it, and how he was sure the purple one had spoken to him before he blacked out.
"And that's pretty much it, I woke up in the Hospital Wing and Madame Pomfrey discharged me just this morning." Harry finished, waiting for Dumbledore to respond.
"That was incredible Harry! Two Dragons appeared and saved you!?" Ron gasped in wonder and amazement.
Hermione clearly wasn't so sure about Harry's story, he could see the doubt written all over her face,
"Are you sure it was two Dragons that saved you Harry?" She asked, clearly trying not to sound sceptical, but failing miserably.
Harry rolled his eyes, "You don't believe me do you?"
"I'm just saying that its highly illogical that two Dragons, much less two talking Dragons just happened to be flying over Hogwarts at the time you were being attacked by that monster. There are supposed to be spells and enchantments around Hogwarts to keep dangerous creatures like Dragons out." She replied.
"I thought the same thing Hermione, but it still doesn't change the fact that I heard one of them speak to me." Harry replied stubbornly.
"You're sure the fight with that beast couldn't have hurt you head in some way, that you just imagined the Dragon talking to you?" Hermione asked with a hopeful edge to her voice.
Harry understood why Hermione was worried about things such as intelligent, talking Dragons existing; if Voldemort got a hold of them for his side, them it would make winning the upcoming war all the more difficult.
"If Harry says he saw them then he saw them Hermione." Ron put in annoyed, "You should have a little more faith, personally I think it's awesome." He finished, crossing his arms over his chest looking smug.
Before Hermione could retort Dumbledore spoke up.
"What you saw wasn't a hallucination Harry."
All three students turned their heads to face Dumbledore who was looking more serious than Harry had ever seen him before.
"The monsters that attacked you are called Grublins. They are creatures created from the Earth itself using dark magic. They come in three forms." Dumbledore raised his wand and waved it over his desk, an illusion of the small spear wielding creatures appeared there, "The standard Grublins that attacked you in the corridor." Dumbledore explained as he waved his wand again, this time a different kind of Grublin appeared, one that Harry had not seen that day. It was distinctly more insect-like in appearance than the others; with insectoid wings on its back and extra insect-like legs sprouting out of the side of its body. "And finally; Hero Grublins." With one more wave of his wand another Grublin appeared, Harry recognised it as the sword wielding one he had fought and that had committed suicide after he tried to question it.
"The other group of reptilian creatures that attacked you are known as Orcs. They also come in three kinds." This time a reptilian monster took the place of the Hero Grublin, it resembled the monsters with the crossbows but this one was significantly bulkier and held a large double bladed axe. "These ones are called Axe Orcs" Dumbledore said.
"Whoa, subtle." Ron sniggered as he examined the monster's huge axe.
"Sssh!" Hermione hissed at him.
A different monster took the place of the Axe Orc and Harry saw that this one was one of the thin, lithe crossbow wielding ones that had kidnapped Ron and Hermione.
"Archer Orcs." Dumbledore explained, before conjuring up the final monster that the three friends recognised all too well.
"And lastly: Hero Orcs." Dumbledore finished gravely, as the snarling form of the hulking, horned, mace wielding monster that had nearly killed The Trio in the Forest appeared before them.
"But where do them come from Professor? I've never seen or heard of anything like them before." Hermione immediately asked, having examined each of the creatures and listened to their names with rapt attention.
"You said they were created by dark magic, is Voldemort behind them?" Harry asked in earnest, ignoring Ron's wince at the name.
"Yes and no Harry." Dumbledore replied. "Voldemort did send them, but he did not create them; they are not of this world."
Silence hung in the air as the three friends digested this revelation, after a while, Hermione broke the silence,
"But how can that be?" She whispered.
Dumbledore stood up, the suddenness of his movement made the three start.
"Perhaps you will understand better if I show you myself." He said with a smile, but there was a strange, if slightly mischievous look in the Headmaster's eye that told Harry the old man that stood before them was going to thoroughly enjoy himself with whatever it was he was about to show them.
A tongue of flame burst into life before Dumbledore, making Harry, Ron and Hermione yelp in shock. The flames cleared and a single vibrant red and gold feather hung before Dumbledore which he promptly caught.
"Fawkes's warning." Dumbledore said his brow furrowed in concentration.
"Severus!" He called loudly towards the door, which flung open, revealing Snape standing behind it; he had clearly been waiting outside the whole time.
"Professor Umbridge knows Harry is up here with me, she'll likely be coming this way, head her off, tell her any story."
With a swish of his cape, Snape swept down the stairs.
There was still one more question Harry needed to ask Dumbledore, "Sir, why did you send Snape to collect me instead of Professor McGonagall?"
"Professor Snape." Dumbledore corrected, "I knew that Professor Umbridge would want to question you as soon as you got out of the Hospital Wing, so I had Severus collect you instead of Minerva. Dolores knows how loyal she is to me, so that is why I sent Severus in order to avoid raising any more suspicion than was necessary." He added as he swept towards the door.
"We do not have much time; you three must accompany me to the Forbidden Forest immediately." He said, drawing his wand once again.
Harry was taken aback by how Dumbledore expected Ron and Hermione to come along.
"Are you sure Professor?" He asked, looking around at Ron and Hermione uncertainly.
"Normally I would try to keep as many people outside of this as possible, but we have no choice in this particular situation." Dumbledore replied.
"We're coming whether you liked it or not Harry." Ron grinned as he slung his arm over his friend's shoulders.
"We'll go wherever you go Harry." Hermione added, striding confidently up to Harry's side.
Harry tried hard to stop himself blushing.
"Thanks guys." Was all he could muster.
"Come we must hurry." Dumbledore said urgently
"Should I get my Invisibility Cloak Professor?" Harry asked.
"There will be no time to get it Harry, but I can use Disillusionment Charms on you instead, they will work quite adequately." The Headmaster assured.
It was lunch time in the castle, with students from the four houses filing into the Great Hall, chatting animatedly to each other about homework, the next Hogsmead trip, Quidditch and whatnot, they were so engrossed in themselves and their food that no one noticed the huge double doors that lead to the grounds open seemingly of their own accord and close silently again.
It was a beautiful sunny day just like the last, but those that had stayed outside to enjoy the sunshine paid no attention to the four human shaped shadows that streaked across the lawn towards the Forbidden Forest and disappeared into the shade.
They had journeyed quite a while into the Forest before Dumbledore felt it was safe to remove the Disillusionment Charms.
"That was a weird experience." Ron said mildly, as he examined his body to make sure it had all reappeared.
"I found it fascinating; I can't wait to learn that spell myself." Hermione put in ask she dusted herself off.
"Now why would you want to do that Hermione?" Ron asked with a sly grin.
"Shut up Ronald." Hermione snapped.
Harry ignored them; instead he walked up to Dumbledore and looked around. He had never been in this part of the Forest before; they were standing in the middle of what looked like some ancient sort of ruins. It was clearly once a circular building, but now all that remained was the wall circular wall that had been nearly completely demolished, a few pillars here and there, a partially collapsed archway that served as the entrance, and ivy strewn remains of what looked like four statues, standing in a semi-circle at the end wall.
"What is this place Professor?"
"This is all that remains of a rotunda built in honour the four founders." Dumbledore said sadly, "After Salazar Slytherin left the school; the other four founders were too disheartened to keep it looking spick and span. Eventually it was forgotten about completely over the years and fell into disrepair. It was recently discovered some one hundred ago, but was left in its ruined state as a last remaining monument to the founders."
Harry felt a twinge of sadness of his own, it seemed such a shame that such a place built in honour to the four greatest witches and wizards of the age could have come to this, and all because Slytherin couldn't accept Muggleborns.
"Why did you bring us hear Professor?"
"To meet the one who will help you save both our world and his own." Dumbledore said, turning to Harry, looking completely serious.
Harry felt mystified, "What do you mean profess-"
But Harry had no time to ask that question, for out of the corner of his eye he saw six shapes emerging out of the darkness behind the rotunda, the were huge in size, so tall that four of them were almost the same size as the trees. Harry gripped the handle of his wand underneath his robes; his heart beating madly, even Ron and Hermione stopped their bickering to gape up the gigantic silhouettes that were marching towards them. Dumbledore however seemed perfectly calm and relaxed a tiny smile on his face as he bounced back and forth on the balls of his feet, twiddling his thumbs underneath his beard.
Harry strained his eyes to try and make out the shapes and his breathe caught in the throat as he found himself looking at the two Dragons that had saved him from the Hero Orc yesterday. The purple one strode towards them confidently, but the black female held back somewhat as though afraid to approach. But behind them walked an even more magnificent and terrifying sight: four full grown Dragons as large as the Hungarian Horntail Harry had faced in his fourth year loomed out of the Forest gloom.
One was a vibrant red, with fiery oranges and sun coloured yellows dominating his iron hard scales, another was a vibrant yellow, with pale blue curved spikes, the third was an icy blue, with pointed purple horn spikes that nearly resembled icicles, and finally there was an enormous green one, with muscles the size of boulders bulging in its arms and legs, and brown curved ram-like horns on the side of its head. They all radiated the power and strength of warriors, but with the grace and wisdom of philosophers, nothing on Earth was their equal, and they were the kings over all that was proud.
They stood staring down at the assembled party with smiles on their faces, but they did not come any further than the rotunda wall, but the smaller purple and black Dragons clambered over it easily and continued on towards Harry and Dumbledore.
Harry wasn't sure what to say or do in response to these approaching colossi, for although they were half a small as the four adults, they still towered over Harry and Dumbledore.
Harry shot a glance a Dumbledore for advice on what to do; the Headmaster was smiling down at Harry.
"I think it would be polite to say hello to the ones that saved your life Harry?"
Harry turned back to face the Dragons who had now reached him and were staring down at him, the purple one had a content smile on his face, with the black female's face remained impassive, but not aggressive. Harry cleared his throat, and addressed them.
"Hi." He said simply, hoping he didn't sound as nervous as he really was.
The purple one opened its mouth and responded.
"Hi." He replied, his voice was deep and soft, but still carried with it the ring of youth and sounded surprisingly musical; completely unlike the growl Harry had expected.
The female Dragon also responded,
"Hello." Her voice was lighter and softer than the male's, so much so that Harry had to strain his ears to hear her; despite her fearsome appearance, she was clearly shy. Harry almost laughed at the thought: a shy Dragon.
Harry quickly remembered Dumbledore's advice,
"I never got a chance to thank you for saving my life yesterday." He said, scratching the back of his head awkwardly.
"Don't mention it." The purple one said with a wink.
"From what your Headmaster Dumbledore has told us, you would have done the same for us Harry." The black one added, seeming more confident in herself now that she had seen Harry was as nervous as she was.
"Don't mention it." Harry replied mirroring the purple Dragon's statement, he glanced at the purple Dragon who just grinned, and Harry grinned back in spite of himself; here he was having a conversation with two Dragons, the situation was so laughably absurd, and yet here it was happening right before his very eyes.
"We haven't been formally introduced yet have we Harry?" The purple one asked.
"No we haven't. I, err, sort of….passed out before we could get to that part….didn't I?" Harry said embarrassed.
The purple one gave a small laugh and even the black one allowed a giggle to bubble out of herself.
"I'm Spyro." The purple one said proudly.
"I'm Cynder." The black one added.
There was a loud thump behind Harry, and everyone looked around to see what had happened. In the shock of the moment Harry had completely forgotten that Ron and Hermione were also there, and what Harry saw made a laugh burst out of him as well.
Ron had fainted.
I hope that I got The trio's reactions to seeing Spyro and Cynder, and hearing about their enemies spot on. Next chapter "Destiny Revealed"