The Undiluted Truth @lorde_shadowz
Chapter 8

The Undiluted Truth, Chapter 8

After that first eventful class, relations with the surly Potions Master eased up a little, and Harry, for the first time, entertained the thought telling him the truth. He didn't, of course, but every time the wizard gave him a few points or paused to correct his potion-making technique, Harry couldn't help feeling warmed. Even if his father might never be a true father to him, the fact that he was at least trying to be fair went a long way towards making Harry's day.

All of that, however, was suddenly called into question by the first Halloween.

Harry had, on that day, been one of the only students to be subdued. Most of the others were excited by the prospect of the sweets which would be available at the Halloween feast that night, but Harry could not stop thinking of what that night had cost him, ten years ago, and he was one of the few who seemed even to remember his parents at all, remember that terrible night, nothing more than a scream and a flash of green light emblazoned on his memory, and a high, cold laugh that made the hairs rise on his neck and arms even now. But aside from a few of the older Slytherins grumbling about "the Dark Lord" being gone and some of the Hufflepuffs lighting candles, it was all about the celebration!

And the classes! After having had to intercept the third note about the feast, Professor Flitwick abandoned the lesson plan he had made and resigned himself to teaching all the first years how to make orange flashing lights on the ends of their wands and how to conjure black paper bats that really flied, and even Binns stopped droning about the goblin rebellions forty minutes in to class and gave an impromptu history lesson on Samhein traditions before going back to his mindless mumbling about Algork the Third and Lothbrok the Unwieldy. Even the Upper Years were talking about the mad Divination Professor, Sybill Trelawney, predicting "Halloween horrors" and the Ancient Runes Professor having her students translate passages from the Hallows Book.

Harry just wanted to sink into the floor. First the total obliviousness of all his classmates, followed by the pitying or apologetic looks of those who belatedly remembered was enough to drive anyone mad- he just wanted everyone to go about life as normal; well, as normal as was possible on this day, recognizing that it was a day of suffering for him but not pitying him, or worse, trying to sympathize. But at last, after an interminable day, it was at last time for the feast, which promised to be equally interminable. He might actually have stayed in the dorm, if that had been allowed, but unfortunately it was not if you were well enough to go, no matter who you were grieving, and Harry didn't want to have to ask for a special exception for himself. He might have claimed illness, though, but he didn't know any illness-causing spells, and the only other options to get himself into the infirmary would be to do something stupid like jump off the moving staircase, let Jewel bite him, or eat something moldy, so he decided just to put up with it and go.

The food was, he decided, almost worth it. They had all sorts of party snacks on levitating trays and far, far too many sweets to eat at one sitting, and someone had released actual, live bats- not the conjured paper ones- to fly around the hall. Pumpkins the size of Cinderella's carriage in the fairy tale had been carved with grinning or snarling faces, and the backs were cut out so that two or three children at a time could climb inside and sit down on the benches which had been affixed- somehow- to the walls of the enormous jack o' lanterns. Harry almost found himself enjoying it, that is, until a callous remark from another student reminded him that his parents had died on this day- well, his mother had. And she had died for him. Harry was just ruminating dismally on this topic, while a disillusioned Jewel, on his shoulder, tried to cheer him up:

~Your birthgiver would not want you sssubdued, Harry,~ she told him Grieve when you get back; ssssunbathe now~ when suddenly Professor Quirrel burst into the Great Hall at a run.

"Troll! Troll in the dungeons!" he screamed, and then toppled backwards in a dead faint in front of the head table. Wait, backwards? Harry frowned, even as the other students burst into a pandemonium of motion and screaming, and the teachers leapt to their feet. Why would he be falling backwards if he had been running, unless it was an act? If he had really fainted, the momentum of his running would have made him fall forwards, if anything. And why had Dumbledore just told everyone to go to their common rooms just now, when two of the common rooms were in the dungeons, where the troll was? Shouldn't they be staying in the Great Hall, with the doors bolted? Something was definitely not right.

~I sssmell your uneasse,~ Jewel hissed in his ear, shifting to make herself more comfortable against his bare neck. ~What isss the matter?~

~There isss a troll, a nassty, dangerous animal, and it issss loossse in the casstle,~ Harry told her out of the corner of his mouth as one of the prefects shouted for him to come along.

~Then why are you leaving the sssanctuary?~ Jewel asked, and Harry had to resist the urge to laugh. Even a snake knew better to leave the Great Hall with a troll loose in the castle. Granted, Jewel was an unusually intelligent snake, but still!

~I honessstly have no idea~ he told her in return as he began to follow the other Slytherins back to the common room. ~Either Dumbledore isss sstupid, or he hassss an alterior motive.~

~The sssecond one; I could ssmell the desssseit on him~ Jewel hissed, and Harry resisted the urge to repeat something for which Aunt Petunia had washed Dudley's mouth out with soap for. How could Dumbledore do something like that in a school full of children and not get caught? In muggle primary school a teacher who pulled something like that would have been sacked, and Dumbledore was the headmaster.

~Leaf-mold covered sson of a impotent ssslug!~ Harry hissed, unable to stop himself.

Jewel gave him a mild ~Language, Harry~ and one of the other Slytherins shot Harry an odd look, but the boy didn't care at all, not with how angry he was. At last, when they were almost to the common room, they heard a sudden, irate roar.

~Ssso there iss actually a troll!~ Harry said in shock, not even realizing that he was still speaking parselmouth, and he ran along with the rest of the students. And then, just as Harry was going to enter the common room, one of the older students shoved him aside with such force that his head cracked into the wall on the opposite side of the corridor.

When he was able to focus again, the door had already shut behind the rest of the panicked first years. And he could hear the troll lumbering down the corridor behind him, mingled with the clatter of armor that the creature was probably striking on the way. He ran to the stone where the entrance should be.

"Pureblood! Asphodel! Hippogriff! Torjurs pur!" he tried, listing all the passwords he could remember in his panicked state. The door did not open. ~Jewel, do you remember the passssword?~ Harry asked the snake hurriedly. He could almost feel the creature's fetid breath- and he could certainly smell it.

~No,~ Jewel responded after a moment, and Harry could have cried. Instead, he took off running again, hoping his speed could counterbalance the lesser mountain troll's habit of trying to chase anything that moved. Damn it, why couldn't his imbecilic housemates so much as bothered to tell him the password?!

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