11 The Troll
On Halloween morning they woke to the delicious smell of baking pumpkin wafting through the corridors.
Even better, Professor Flitwick announced in Charms that he thought they were ready to start making objects fly, something they had all been dying to try since they'd seen him make Neville's toad zoom around the classroom.
Professor Flitwick put the class into pairs to practice. Harry's partner was Seamus while Arth had Neville to look after. Ron, however, was to be working with Hermione Granger. It was hard to tell whether Ron or Hermione was angrier about this. She hadn't spoken to any of them since the day Harry's broomstick had arrived.
"Now, don't forget that nice wrist movement we've been practicing!" squeaked Professor Flitwick, perched on top of his pile of books as usual.
"Swish and flick, remember, swish and flick. And saying the magic words properly is very important, too -- never forget Wizard Baruffio, who said 's' instead of 'f' and found himself on the floor with a buffalo on his chest."
It was very difficult. Harry and Seamus swished and flicked, but the feather they were supposed to be sending skyward just lay on the desktop. Seamus got so impatient that he prodded it with his wand and set fire to it, Harry had to put it out with his hat.
Arth didn't have such a good time either, every time Neville waved his wand, Arth felt an unexplained feeling of danger.
Ron, at the next table, wasn't having much more luck.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" he shouted, waving his long arms like a windmill.
"You're saying it wrong," Arth heard Hermione snap. "It's Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, make the 'gar' nice and long."
"You do it, then, if you're so clever," Ron snarled.
Hermione rolled up the sleeves of her gown, flicked her wand, and said, "Wingardium Leviosa!"
Their feather rose off the desk and hovered about four feet above their heads.
"Oh, well done!" cried Professor Flitwick, clapping. "Everyone see here, Miss Granger's done it!"
Seeing that Neville was distracted, Arth casted the spell causing the feather to stick to the roof. He watched in relief as Neville clambered around trumping to find it. He didn't think he would live past the class if he let neville continue to practice.
Ron was in a very bad mood by the end of the class. "It's no wonder no one can stand her," he said to Harry as they pushed their way into the crowded corridor, "she's a nightmare, honestly."
Someone knocked into Harry as they hurried past him. It was Hermione. They caught a glimpse of her face and was startled to see that she was in tears.
"I think she heard you."
"So?" said Ron, but he looked a bit uncomfortable. "She must've noticed she's got no friends."
"I will be very surprised if you end up getting a wife, you have no talent in reading the hearts of girls."
"And where did you get that? From a book?"
"Nope, from intelligence."
That shut Ron up for the rest of the trip.
Hermione didn't turn up for the next class and wasn't seen all afternoon. On their way down to the Great Hall for the Halloween feast, Harry and Ron overheard Parvati Patil telling her friend Lavender that Hermione was crying in the girls' bathroom and wanted to be left alone.
Ron looked still more awkward at this, but forgot when he saw where the Halloween decorations. A thousand live bats fluttered from the walls and ceiling while a thousand more swooped over the tables in low black clouds, making the candles in the pumpkins stutter. The feast appeared suddenly on the golden plates, as it had at the start-of-term banquet.
Arth was just about to eat a specifically delicious looking turkey egg when Professor Quirrell came sprinting into the hall, his turban askew and terror on his face.
Everyone stared as he reached Professor Dumbledore's chair, slumped against the table, and gasped, "Troll -- in the dungeons -- thought you ought to know."
He then sank to the floor in a dead faint.
There was an uproar. It took several purple firecrackers exploding from the end of Professor Dumbledore's wand to bring silence.
"Prefects," he rumbled, "lead your Houses back to the dormitories immediately!"
Arth sadly looked at the untouched whole turkey. He tried to save it for later when Ron grabbed him before he could.
"Do you really feel like eating right now? We have a TROLL!"
"Who gives a damn, this is probably the safest place for us so let me at least take a leg."
Alas, it was too late.
"Follow me! Stick together, first years! No need to fear the troll if you follow my orders! Stay close behind me, now. Make way, first years coming through! Excuse me, I'm a prefect!"
They walked back to to the dormitories in a manner that reminded Arth of baby turkeys following a turkey mom.
"How could a troll get in?" Harry asked as they climbed the stairs.
"Don't ask me, they're supposed to be really stupid," said Ron. "Maybe Peeves let it in for a Halloween joke."
"Peeves isn't that much of an idiot, he wants to cause chaos for sure but he wouldn't go overboard like this. Dumbledore would expel him out of the castle if he did."
They passed different groups of people hurrying in different directions. As they jostled their way through a crowd of confused Hufflepuffs, Harry suddenly grabbed Ron's arm.
"I've just realized that Hermione-"
"Doesn't know about the troll." Arth said groaning. "Why is it that every time something goes bad, the worst situation happens around a you two."
"We need to go warn her,"
Ron bit his lip.
"Oh, all right," he snapped. "But Percy'd better not see us."
Ducking down, they joined the Hufflepuffs going the other way, slipped down a deserted side corridor, and hurried off toward the girls' bathroom. They had just turned the corner when they heard quick footsteps behind them.
"Percy!" hissed Ron, pulling Harry behind a large stone griffin while Arth hid in a dark and gloomy corner.
Peering around it, however, they saw not Percy but Snape. He crossed the corridor and disappeared from view.
"What's he doing?" Harry whispered. "Why isn't he down in the dungeons with the rest of the teachers?"
"Dumbledore must have sent him on a mission, it's none of our business. Let's hurry up and find Hermione and get back to our rooms before we get caught."
Quietly as possible, they crept along the next corridor after Snape's fading footsteps.
Ron held up his hand.
"Can you smell something?"
Arth sniffed and recognized the foul stench, a smell that was like a mixture of old socks and the kind of public toilet no one seems to clean.
"God damn, I swear that one of you is cursed."
They shrank into the shadows and watched as it emerged into a patch of moonlight.
Twelve feet tall, its skin was a dull, granite gray, its great lumpy body like a boulder with its small bald head perched on top like a coconut. It had short legs thick as tree trunks with flat, horny feet. It was holding a huge wooden club, which dragged along the floor because its arms were so long.
The troll stopped next to a doorway and peered inside. It waggled its long ears, making up its tiny mind, then slouched slowly into the room.
"The keys in the lock," Harry muttered. "We could lock it in."
"Good idea," said Ron nervously.
Arth took a glance at the room and froze. Without a moment of hesitation, he ran into the room and let out a yell.
"HERMIONE, IF YOU ARE IN THERE, STAY PERFECTLY STILL! THERE IS A TROLL IN THE RESTROOM! IT REACTS TO SOUND!"
He ran out immediately after screaming as the troll lumbered after him into the hall. Seeing that Ron and Harry were standing there, dumbstruck, Arth couldn't help but want to scream in frustration.
"STOP STANDING THERE! RON-"
Arth dodged the incoming club with a lunge to the side.
"GO FIND A TEACHER! HARRY, YOU GO SEE IF HERMIONE IS IN-"
The troll swung again.
Ron immediately took flight while Harry snuck into the bathroom. Seeing all of this, Arth let out a sigh before dodging the club once more. He whipped out his wand and screamed, "LUMOS!"
A bright light radiated from the end of his wand as the troll screamed in pain. While it was blinded, Arth tried to remember any spells that could potentially defeat a fully grown troll.
Sadly, although he knew the spells that could, he couldn't perform those spells quite yet.
It didn't work.
Seeing the wooden club, Arth had an idea.
The whole club burst into flames and burned the trolls hand. The troll screamed an earth shattering cry of pain and threw away the club before turning around to glare at Arth.
Both of them stood still facing each other.
Arth let out a wry smile.
"This is why I hate being a hero. Ahhh, I want to read a book."
The troll gave a snort before charging towards Arth with its arms open.
Arth attempted to slide under it, but the troll accidentally slipped and fell causing Arth's leg to be caught in between the troll's arm and the floor.
As the troll attempts to right itself, its arm grinder into Arth's leg causing excruciating pain.
Suddenly, a spell came into his mind and Arth pointed his wand at the troll's face.
A thin black projectile erupted from his wand and pierced through the trolls eye and exited at the back of its head.
Arth sighed as he put his arm down and lied on the cold floor gasping for air. The pain from his right leg could no longer be ignored and Arth could slowly see his vision starting to darken. He could see a worried Harry running towards him with a crying Hermione following along.
The last thing he could remember was tell Harry, "You... Idiot... next time... let's leave... it... to... the... teach..."
Arth saw darkness.