Hippogrifs and secrets
Author’s Note: This is the direct sequel to Luna Lovegood and the Dark Portrait Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, J.K. Rowling and Joss Whedon do. Thanks very much to my Betas , Letomo and EllandrahSylver, but all mistakes are still mine. The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. And you can thank Twilightwanderer for the Abbott and Costello. Speech:
“Who’s on first.” Thought:
*What’s on second.
#I-don’t-know’s on third.# Many thanks to Roth for recommending me. Remember, reviews are fuel to the fires of my inspiration. Please leave one if you like, or if you don’t like, leave constructive criticism. 09 Hippogriffs and secrets Early September 1995, Hogwarts
Neville Longbottom rather nervously stood in front of the door to professor Kettleburn’s office, gathering his courage before finally knocking. “Come in!” The old teacher’s voice rang out and Neville hesitantly opened the door and did as he was told. Kettleburn sat behind a huge, scarred desk. The hard, dark wood was gouged by claws and scorched by fire and bitten by acid and had the slick, soapy look of something that had been regularly slimed or oozed as well. A large purple and red snake was lying on it, curled up on one corner. The beast extended its tongue at Neville and the boy swallowed but stepped up to the desk.
“Sir, you said something during class this afternoon…”
“Indeed I did.” Kettleburn smiled at the nervous youngster and rose on his artificial magical legs and walked around the desk towards two large club chairs in front of the fireplace. Numerous weird looking objects stood on the mantle, including at least one skull of a creature Neville did not recognize, a basilisk fang the length of his forearm, and a glass jar filled with what might be various eyeballs or, and upon realising this Neville swallowed, testicles, and wondered if Hogwarts teachers made it a habit to collect things in their offices to unnerve visiting students.
Kettleburn removed a large lumpy thing like a huge, overfed hamster from one, and it gave first Kettleburn and then Neville a dark look before waddling off to a box in the corner and practically falling into it. Kettleburn noted Neville’s questioning glance. “A Mutant Giant Moonhamster. His name is Boricus, Boo for short. The box is his, but he likes the chair better.”
Neville nodded as if this explained everything. If you were Professor Kettleburn it probably did. “Y-You said the Hippogriff knew my mother?” He asked tentatively.
Kettleburn grinned. “Knew? Greywing was her personal mount. Much more useful than a broom in certain types of Auror duties. Of course the old girl can’t abide your Grandmother, so I had to take her in after your mother and father were attacked. She’s acting as frisky as a colt when you are near, so you must smell like Frank or Alice.” He smiled. “Or maybe just like yourself. I remember… Wait a second.” The old man rose from his chair and waved his wand and a tea service flew from a cupboard as he opened a glass-doored bookcase and removed a large album, marked 1980, and opened it. A young couple was standing in a stable, holding a baby up to a large, imposing Hippogriff. The beast was sniffing it and nudging the baby’s belly gently and the baby giggled while the young couple fawned over them.
“That’s my parents! How… how did you get this?”
“I took it. Alice was always one of my favourite pupils. I bred Greywing myself and gave her to your mother.” A gnarled and scarred finger tenderly stroked the child in the picture.
Neville turned the page and flushed in embarrassment at a picture of himself lying naked on a rug, kicking fat little baby legs, in front of a fire. Then he looked again at the carpet below his feet and up at the old man in the other chair. “You did your first magic right here, you floated that very skull down to play with.” The professor’s one good thumb and forefinger turned the page and Neville gasped at the image of his beaming parents looking down at him as a skull floated above him, his little face screwed up in enjoyment and concentration.
“You were very young for such a thing, a sign of your power. Frank and Alice asked me to keep it quiet so you wouldn’t be hounded by lots of Purebloods wanting you to marry their daughters,” Kettleburn said with a reminiscent grin.
Neville looked up, astounded. “But… I’m a near Squib! I didn’t show any magic until Uncle Algie dropped me out of the window and I bounced!”
“He did what
?” Kettleburn grated out.
“D-dropped me out of a window, upside down.” Neville replied, rather gratified at the reaction. *It might have shown my magic, but it was scary as Merlin’s underwear.*
“Algernon Longbottom? Your grandfather’s younger brother? The Herbologist?”
Neville nodded. Kettleburn growled. “Remind me to pay him a visit later.” The old man eyed the boy. “So you thought you were a Squib, eh?” He sighed. “No offence Neville, but your family are idiots.”
Neville blinked. “Err…why?”
“Because lad, Obliviating a young child will arrest his magical development unless the memory breaks through, or until the onset of puberty. And since Filius and I Obliviated you, it is highly unlikely that the memory will return unless you ask us to release it.”
Neville opened his mouth to ask what memory they had removed from him when he realised and closed his mouth. “I saw… that?”
“Every second of it. Your mother had put you in a closet with a Silencio
spell on it, but you could hear what was going on and, well when Filius and I arrived, we found you. We Obliviated you a week later, when you still hadn’t slept.”
“Oh. But I was really quite young…”
“It still made an impression, lad.” He smiled at the boy. “Come on, I’m taking you to Greywing. The old girl could do with a little cheering up, and so could we.”
Neville nodded, and walked beside the grizzled old professor, deep in thought and oblivious to the stares and whispers that followed them.
LLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSD Early October 1995, Hogwarts
“Hullo, Professor Hagrid.”
“‘Ello, Neville. ‘ere to see Greywing?” Hagrid cheerfully called out from the desk in the stables where he was marking essays in a laborious hand, the quill tiny in his great fist.
“Yes, sir, her box needs cleaning and I thought I’d brush her wings,” Neville replied blandly.
Hagrid’s dark eyes twinkled. “An’ mebbe take her for a spin?”
Neville flushed. “If I could, sir?”
“O’ course yer can, Neville. ‘s not like the Old Girl would ever drop you,” Hagrid assured him. “Jes’ be sure to hold on tight like Professor Kettleburn taught yer.”
Neville beamed. “Thanks, Professor Hagrid.”
Hagrid smiled. “A pleasure. The old lady is much more pleasant since you’ve been around.”
Neville looked pleased and took off his robe, revealing a set of hard wearing leather trousers and a simple shirt as well as a pair of large dragon hide boots. Several pairs of woollen socks were visible over the tops of the boots, a clear indication they had either been bought several sizes too large or had once belonged to someone else. Hagrid, who knew the boots’ previous owner, swallowed against a lump in his throat and turned back to his marking. Neville went to the Hippogriff boxes and started cleaning out the large box that belonged to Greywing, after first scratching the Hippogriff’s soft head, ignoring the indignant squawks from the neighbouring looseboxes.
Greywing obediently moved aside when Neville came near with his shovel and playfully bumped him with her beak on several occasions. Neville grinned and checked if there was water and food enough, added a few more dead stoats to the pile from the cold box in the store room and led the silver grey Hippogriff into the fading afternoon sunlight. He gently stroked her neck and then scratched the soft place where her beak and muzzle met and Greywing closed her eyes in delight, huffing a few breaths before settling to her knees to let Neville mount.
The boy mounted, none of his usual clumsiness apparent, and settled on the muscled back, then squeezed with his knees. Greywing rose, flapped her great wings, and boy and Hippogriff flew off into the setting sun. On top of the Astronomy Tower two figures watched the flight.
“It’s far too dangerous. Silvanus. I will not allow it to continue!” Minerva McGonagall stated.
“No more dangerous than Quidditch or broom flying or some of the potions he’s learning, or some of the things you teach, for that matter,” Kettleburn replied evenly.
“Silvanus, he trips over his own feet!”
“He never does with me or Greywing, or Rubeus... and Pomona is full of praise for the boy and how deft his fingers are and how sure his touch.” He looked at the soaring pair and then at the stern-faced Head of House. “As a matter of fact, in all the places where people expect him to fail he fails. Interesting, is it not?”
“I will not be swayed, Silvanus. Broom flying is one thing; hippogriffs are classified as dangerous creatures for a reason.” Minerva was adamant.
“Really Minerva? You will not be swayed? You are member of the Order, you know what happened to Frank and Alice. Would you care to tell me how much time you have spent talking with Mr. Longbottom as compared with talking to Mr. Potter? Or, heaven forbid, your favourite little Griffin, Miss Granger?”
“I have no favourites, Silvanus. And all my students are equal in my eyes.”
“There’s a book I read, while I was fighting Grindelwald. It’s about animals that fight a creature much like him, much like Hitler, the man the Normals fought. There’s a phrase in there that comes to mind, Minerva. ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’
Is that maybe something you’d like to think about?”
Minerva stiffened and glared at her colleague. “In the end it is not my decision, it is Augusta Longbottom’s.”
“And let me guess, you wrote her? I know Neville never would, not about this.” Kettleburn’s eyes flashed with anger. “Write her again, Minerva, and tell her that if she comes here, and watches Neville with Greywing, and still maintains that he may not fly, she can tell him so to his face. And I will take great pleasure then in seeing Lord Longbottom kick the old besom out of Longbottom Castle as soon as he reaches his majority.”
Minerva gasped. “He wouldn’t!”
Kettleburn laughed, a harsh sound from a throat unused to it, and the scars on the side of it pulsed. “Do you know, Minerva, she never or hardly told him about Alice? Just that she really wasn’t good enough for Frank. Augusta will have to work very hard to get back in that boy’s good graces. Very hard indeed,” Kettleburn looked at the woman from the side of his eyes and noted she bit her lip with her upper teeth. “And for every tear that boy sheds due to your actions, Minerva, I will exact a drop of your blood. Understood?”
Minerva took an involuntary step backwards. “Silvanus!” she exclaimed, shocked.
“Be warned Minerva. That boy is under my protection and for every unfair action against him, I will seek retribution.” Kettleburn’s voice was stern.
“I dare say you won’t tell that to Severus,” Minerva sneered.
“Right after Neville lands. If his head of House won’t stand up for him, I will.” Kettleburn’s eyes were fastened upon the flying pair and a slight smile tugged at his lips as they banked steeply and then dove to the edge of the forbidden forest, Neville leaning far forward over Greywing’s neck.
“You have no right, Silvanus. No right at all.”
“Do you know what Alice Longbottom’s maiden name was, Minerva?”
“What? What has that got to do with it?”
“It was Lemant, and her mother was called Hepzibah Kettleburn before her marriage, and her grandmother was born Venus Enderby, who was married to me,” he leaned towards Minerva, his eyes full of emotions. “He is the last of my blood Minerva, the last memory I have of Venus, the last of Hepzibah. If any of you harm him…”
He grinned, but there was no mirth in it and Minerva swallowed heavily, her eyes wide, her hand within her robe gripping her wand.
“Do you understand what I am saying, Minerva?” Kettleburn whispered into the witch’s face, from less than an inch away.
“Yes. Yes, I do,” Minerva managed to squeak. Then she turned and fled down the stairs.
Kettleburn looked after her, his expression slightly bemused. “Never took Minerva for someone who scared that easy.” He shrugged, and turned back to Neville’s flight. He’d tell the boy tomorrow. The day after at the latest.
Minerva McGonagall stood trembling at the bottom of the Astronomy Tower stairs, her bosom heaving with exertion.
“Are you alright, Minerva?” Myrtle’s soft voice startled the Transfiguration teacher enough that she let out a little yelp and put a hand to her mouth in embarrassment.
That really worried Myrtle. “Minerva? What’s wrong?”
“I-I had a conversation about Neville Longbottom with Silvanus. He was very protective of the boy. It startled me a little.”
Myrtle chuckled, “Oh dear… Don’t tell me that fifth year crush of yours has just made a new appearance?”
Minverva blushed. “Of course not!”
“Really Minerva? You have always had something for strong, protective types. Especially the ones who stand up to you. And the ones you’re not entirely certain if you’d win against…”
Minerva’s flush deepened. “How do you know all that?”
Myrtle rolled her eyes. “Ghosts live for gossip.” She blinked, realizing what she had said and then grinned. “Figuratively speaking. Don’t worry Minerva, I won’t tell.” *It will be far too much fun just to watch you squirm whenever he comes near.*
LLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSD Office of Severus Snape, Hogwarts, that night
“Severus, good evening.”
“Silvanus. Can I help you?”
“I brought the Hippogriff claw shavings you wanted.” Kettlenburn proffered a small paper package.
“Ah, many thanks, I know how difficult these are to get.” Snape carefully placed the package into a box for later processing.
“Severus, I have a request.”
“Indeed? And what might that be?” Snape leaned back, steepling his fingers.
Kettleburn smiled. “I want you to go a little easier on Neville Longbottom.”
Snape snorted. “Mr. Longbottom is useless. He’s clumsy, incompetent and barely able to perform the easiest stirring or chopping actions in the preparation of even the simplest of potions.”
“I agree. Part of that is natural clumsiness, part is his fear of you, and don’t snarl; it was Lupin’s idea to have him face the Boggart, not Longbottom’s. They boy is just that, a boy. And he is quite competent, those shavings are some he gathered and the Fireflower pollen you received from Pomona was partially harvested by him.”
“I shall carefully check it for contamination then,” Snape sneered.
“Severus, don’t for heaven’s sake take out your guilt on the boy,” Kettleburn almost whispered.
Snape stiffened. “Guilt? What guilt?”
“For not keeping them safe. He wouldn’t blame you if he knew. He’s a good lad, Severus. And he has enough trouble growing up without you riding on his shoulders.”
Snape pinched the bridge of his nose. “Why? Why all this interest in Longbottom?”
Kettleburn smiled. “Blood, Severus. Blood.”
The potions teacher gave him a look and then sat for a second or so before relaxing. “I see. Very well. I will draw back, slightly. In return you will stop denigrating Draco Malfoy.”
Kettleburn looked guilty. “Have I been doing that? I’m sorry; I keep having nightmares about his father and the Igneous Barkbeetles.” He shuddered. “Those scars never fully healed. Not to mention what happened to Albus’ beard.” He looked thoughtful and then grinned. “Actually, now I think about it, what happened to the beard might just have been worth the scars. Good thing Filius and I took pictures.”
Snape looked intrigued. “Correction, I will draw back slightly more if you tell me every embarrassing tale you have about Lucius Malfoy. And extra for those pictures.”
Kettleburn smirked. “The embarrassing tales with or without Narcissa?”
Snape pulled his lip. “Hmmm…”
“You supply the Firewhisky, and we call Filius. We can all use a night of relaxation.”
Snape grinned one of his rare grins and then rose to go to his liquor cabinet. “Floo’s open, call him over. I do have a broader selection than just Firewhisky as well.”
LLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSD Middle of October 1995, Hogwarts
Augusta Longbottom strode towards the Magical Creatures stable, using her umbrella to help propel her over the uneven ground. The boy was rubbing down the Hippogriff after the flight they had just taken and was oblivious to her approach.
“Neville Octavian Longbottom!” she called out.
Neville whirled around; stumbling and the hippogriff cawed and then surged forward, placing herself between the boy and his grandmother.
Augusta smiled a grim little smile. “I mean him no harm, Greywing. But I do need to have some words with my grandson.”
The hippogriff eyed the old woman, fiercely glaring at her, before grudgingly moving aside.
Augusta eyed the trembling boy. “You fly very well, Neville. But I cannot allow it.”
Neville slumped. “Yes, Gran.”
“The reason is simple, as you and Greywing get to know each other better; you will want to make more and more dangerous and intricate manoeuvres. And you are not skilled enough to use magic to stop yourself falling,” Augusta continued in an unexpectedly gentle tone.
“No wizard your age could be expected to have that skill, so there is no shame. There may be a solution, however,” Augusta judiciously added.
“Yes, Gran.” Neville said despondently.
“You can try and use the harness your father ordered made for your mother while she was pregnant with you. It took some convincing, but Greywing eventually did accept it.” Augusta waited for Neville’s reply.
“Y-you mean I could continue to fly? You don’t mind?”
“Of course I mind. I mind that you did not tell me. I always hoped you would tell me everything. But since I never told you everything…” She took a deep breath. “I blamed your mother for the longest time for what happened to them, to your parents. I was convinced Frank was going for a job in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes and when he became an Auror, a much more dangerous job, I blamed your mother, no matter how proud I was of Frank.” She smiled bitterly. “It was wrong of me, and I regret it. Your mother was a good, courageous woman, Neville, and it was your father’s own choice to join the Aurors, because he felt that was where he could do the most good. He never discussed it with me because he knew I would object. He did discuss it with Alice’s grandfather, who told me.”
“He did? When?”
“About twenty minutes ago, while we were watching you fly, lad.” Kettleburn’s quiet voice interrupted the conversation.
Neville spun round again, this time to face the old professor who was gently scratching the hippogriff’s craw.
“You-you are my?”
“Great-grandfather, yes,” Kettleburn said with a catch in his voice. “Not much of one, I admit. Nor father or grandfather.”
“Why not?” Neville demanded. “I mean, why do you think that?”
Kettleburn smiled a little grimly. “If I were better at it, I would have a daughter and a granddaughter, and a wife, not to mention my son- and grandson-in-law.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Silvanus. Like you they chose their professions. Children grow up and you have to let them go. You are here, now, for Neville,” Augusta scoffed. “I admit that it might have been better had you come forward earlier, but even Alice only mentioned you as a friend of the family.” She tilted her head, a birdlike movement reinforced by the flamingo on her tall brown hat. “Why was that by the way?”
Kettleburn sighed. “I was fairly high on old Volemould’s to-kill list, I didn’t want to risk her and she agreed at the time. Not that it helped, it turned out Alice and Frank were even higher on it…”
Neville blinked at the casual insult to Voldemort’s name. “Granddad? Can you help convince Greywing to wear a harness?”
Kettleburn smiled at the appellation, a smile broad enough to push aside all his scars. “Well, first your grandmother will have to tell her that you are her foal’s foal, and why she wants this. After that, it will be fairly easy. Greywing is a mother after all.”
Severus Snape watched the gangly, slightly overweight boy by the hippogriff and sighed. *Well, so much for the use of Longbottom as a foil. If Silvanus does not kill me if I do, the Dowager Lady Longbottom would.*
Severus smirked slightly. *I wonder if she would be willing to share her memories of punishing the Marauders with me?*
He mused, before wandering away, his Disillusionment firmly in place. It would not do for Silvanus to know he knew the true reason for his colleague’s protectiveness of the boy. Silvanus Kettleburn was an old and experienced wizard and singularly ruthless as well.