Written for the Spellcast Hallowe'en Challenge with Les Dowich. Telling a spooky story to the First-years, Harry unleashes something totally unexpected. Now Featured as the first story on the Spellcast Podcast Hallowe'en show.
Fic Fests > #3 Halloween, Snape Equal Status to Harry > Comrades Snape and Harry Main Characters:
.Snape and Harry (required), Hermione, Ron
8 - Pre Epilogue (adult Harry)Warnings:
Challenges: Halloween Series:
31 Oct 2008 Updated:
31 Oct 2008
The Legend of Sleepy... Hogwarts? by Zarathustra
“… the night was dark; there was no moon. Mist swirled through the trees and muffled the horse’s hoof-beats. Clip… clop… clip… clop…”
A delicious shiver ran through the group of first-years as they listened to Harry Potter tell the old story, his face under-lit by a Lumos spell, the darkness of the dorm lending a spooky air to the Hallowe’en night. Harry fought down a smile as he had the unfortunate Ichabod Crane approach the covered bridge over the deep, fierce river. He hated Hallowe’en these days and had refused to go to the Ball the Headmistress had organised for the third- through seventh-years. Instead, he chose to tell stories to the firsties; babysitting, as Ron so disdainfully pointed out.
“As the sturdy mare’s hooves hit the wooden bridge, the noise of her passing began to sound like a drum. CLIP… CLOP… CLIP… CLOP-CLOP… CLIP-CLIP… CLOP-CLOP. Ichabod stiffened and urged the mare a little faster. CLIP-CLIP CLOP-CLOP CLI-LIP CLO-LOP.”
Suzie Tyler let out a squeal of delicious terror then a shriek as Harry’s words were drowned out by the sound of real horse hooves on a wooden bridge. Screams and squeals erupting from the group of firsties made Harry leap to his feet and turn, his wand held defensively before him. Gone was the wall of the dormitory; instead, a bleached forest of skeletal trees, hip deep in fog, loomed away in the darkness. Their small group was sitting in a clearing beside the road. In the distance, barely illuminated by the starlight, was a large, covered bridge. Greenish sickly light shone from inside the structure, making Harry’s stomach roil at the thought of what might come out.
Motioning the children behind him, he chanced a glance over his shoulder and almost cried out in relief. Not fifteen feet away was the soft glow of a fire, the familiar shapes of four-posters and a door that would lead them to safety.
“Gylanthis, Suzie! Grab everyones’ hands and start backing off toward the door. Don’t run, just walk quickly. When you get there, go out the door and head down to the common room. Then, run like hell and find a teacher, anyone will do; they’re probably all at the dance in the Great Hall. Ready? Go!”
There was a frightened scamper of feet on the dirt road as Harry turned back toward the bridge and cast Protego behind himself in an effort to shield the children. Whatever was inside the bridge was taking its own sweet time emerging onto the road. Suddenly, with a burst of speed, a horse and rider exploded from the bridge, the huge black horse’s eyes flaring red; green light spilling from a jack-o-lantern held above the rider’s neck, high-lighting his distinct lack of head. Harry knew he let out a yelp, which startled the children. They screamed loudly and, as one body, turned and bolted, scrambling wildly toward the door in the dormitory wall. Harry collected his wits and threw a Petrificus Totalis at the rider to no effect, the apparition simply screeched with maniacal laughter as the horse reared and plunged forward again, steam pouring from its nostrils.
Harry tried Stunners, Tanglers and finally an ice spell, all to no avail. He was working his way up to an Avada Kedavra when the horse was upon him, its solid bulk stinking of sweat. An equally solid shoulder slammed Harry aside, spinning him off the path into the dirt as the horseman cantered past. As Harry’s head slammed on the ground, he saw stars for a moment but managed to scramble to his knees, horror coursing through him as the horseman continued on his way, ducking through the doorway the children had left open.
Ron tugged Hermione into an alcove behind a suit of armour, stealing a kiss despite her half-hearted protests of duty. She softened and melted, curling an arm around his neck as he gently pressed her against the wall. The stone was cold and Hermione yipped a little, making them both giggle. The Ball was in full swing in the Great Hall, but, as prefects, it was part of their duties to make sure the younger years were in their beds at a reasonable hour. Since Harry was with the children, they were pretty sure nothing bad would happen, but still, it was necessary to check. Besides, they both wanted to see how Harry was holding up, although they would never actually say so. It was, after all, a very bad day for their best friend: the sixteenth anniversary of his parents’ murder.
With Ron’s arm draped over her shoulders, Hermione gently guided the redhead toward the portrait of the Fat Lady, both seventh-years surprised to find her hiding behind the rock in her portrait, shaking like jelly and warning them not to go in there. Startled, they straightened and fingered their wands whilst Ron gave the password: ‘King Tut’. As the portrait swung open, a wave of screaming, crying first-years tumbled out, fog swirling around them as they knocked the two older students aside and scrambled off down the corridor.
Pulling his wand, Ron surged through the hole, Hermione hot on his heels, her wand almost jabbing her boyfriend in the back as she straightened at his side. Fog rolled heavily down the far stairs, the sound of frogs croaking and trees rustling, giving the common room an air of unreality. It was the shrieking that set them both on the defensive -- maniacal laughter and the unmistakable pitch of Harry yelling spells in the midst of the flicker of hex-light from above. Ron bellowed, charged forward, only to be spun on the spot by a huge, red-eyed stallion that leapt into view on the stairs. Its hindquarters bunched as it sailed over Hermione’s head and through the wall, leaving them both open-mouthed. There was another series of bangs and thumps as Harry tumbled down the stairs, his broom held tightly in his hand.
“Come on, you two! The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow just got loose in the school! We have to stop him!”
Ron let out a whoop as Harry barged through the portrait hole, threw a leg over his trusty Firebolt and kicked off in a flurry of fog.
Severus Snape hated parties! He hated the concept, their execution and absolutely despised having to attend them. Yet, here he was, once again, attending a Ball that Minerva insisted upon ‘for the students’. He was certain that the interfering old portrait in her office had something to do with this – this – fete! He’d rather be where he usually spent most Hallowe’ens since 1981: drunk, in his quarters.
Instead, he was standing in a dark corner, watching the students enjoying themselves as he fingered the wand in his sleeve. He had to admit, Filius and Hagrid had outdone themselves this year; the humongous pumpkins hanging from the ceiling lent a holiday atmosphere to the place, along with the cobwebs blowing in the breeze, the students dressed up in costumes and the enormous spread of party food on the tables along the wall. Even the screaming first-years invading the room added a thrill to the air… Hang on – screaming first-years?
His wand in hand, he pushed his way through the confused crowds gathering around the group of first-year Gryffindors. The little girls were crying, and the boys were babbling about a man riding a horse through their dorm. He scoffed to himself; just foolish children telling ghost stories and scaring themselves silly. He left the group to the mothering influence of their headmistress and was just about to sheath his wand when screaming erupted behind him again!
He whirled to see the students scattering in front of a headless figure atop an irate black stallion, holding a green glowing jack-o-lantern high in its hand as it galloped around the room. Flying in hot pursuit came…
“POTTER! WHAT IN BLAZES IS GOING ON!!!” he yelled over the cacophony as the teen flew past with Weasley right behind him.
“No time, Professor – I’ve got to figure out how to get rid of him! None of our spells are working… IMPEDIMENTA!!” the youth screamed, but the spell just blew right through the figure as it let out a truly evil laugh and tossed its pumpkin head at the Brat-Who-Lived. He missed Harry, but the head smacked upside down atop Flitwick, who began staggering around, unable to see.
Severus groaned, as he rescued the diminutive professor and began strolling over to where he had seen Nick and the Baron. He ducked more flying pumpkins with aplomb as the horseman discovered the myriad of floating heads in the hall and began tossing them at his pursuers, and everyone else who caught his fancy. Minerva and the other teachers herded the students out the doors, as Hagrid attempted to catch the psychotic poltergeist who smashed all of Hagrid’s hard work over the walls and floors.
“Can’t you two do anything about this?” Snape enquired as he reached the ghosts’ location.
“Perhaps,” Nick hedged. “May hap’ only a ghost can truly rid us of this bounder. We will do our utmost.” Nick drew his spectral blade with a flourish, the Baron pulled out his own long sword, and both floated quickly toward the centre of the conflict where Granger had joined Weasley and Potter, attempting to banish the mad horseman.
The Baron gave a truly hair-raising battlecry as he charged at the headless ghost, engaging it in combat. He seemed to be having an effect, where the Gryffindors’ spells had not, drawing ichor from where his blade made contact. Nearly Headless Nick showed why he was a Gryffindor as he fearlessly waded in, cutting at the horse’s hocks while the Baron engaged the rider.
The horse gave an almighty scream, rearing on its hind legs, as Nick pierced its throat. The horse blew apart, as it screeched its last breath, dumping the rider on the slick, pumpkin-smeared floor. The tall, dark ghost grabbed a surviving pumpkin head, plopped it on top of its neck-stump and turned to face the two swordsmen, eyeholes glowing green.
Severus had forced the seventh-years into a corner where they all watched the three-way duel. It took a few moments, but the battle soon came to its inevitable end. As the Horseman attempted to decapitate Nick, who cleverly let his head flop to one side, the Horseman’s blade swished through the suddenly empty space, only to catch on the remaining piece of sinew on Nick’s neck, severing it with a twang. The Baron took the opening provided and skewered the spectre on his sword, causing it to explode in a spectacular fashion, spattering the remaining onlookers with dripping ectoplasm.
Severus and the teens cautiously emerged from their corner to find the Baron handing Nick his head, and the be-ruffled ghost laughing uproariously as he bowed to the little group.
“Harry Potter! Look, I can finally join the Headless Hunt! Thank you! I go forthwith to write to Sir Patrick!” he announced, still chortling as he drifted through the nearest wall. The Baron bowed to Snape before he floated off as well.
Severus turned to the Trio, raising an eyebrow in question.
“I -- I don’t know what happened, sir…” the brat stammered. “I was telling the story when it came to life!” he explained. “That’s never happened before! I swear!”
Snape pinched his nose in exasperation. “Accidental Magic, Potter, from a first-year. Now, clean this mess up, you three – I’m going to go get quietly drunk, and when I come back here in the morning, I expect it to be sparkling!” The three winced at the venom in Snape’s voice, but nodded their heads and began drawing their wands. “WITHOUT MAGIC!” he yelled, as he banged through the Great Doors. Merlin, he hated parties! Especially the aftermath.
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