1995-05-29: King of Snakes

Participants:

Hagrid_icon.gif Siobhan_icon.gif Mei_icon.gif Ginny_icon.gif

Scene Title King of Snakes
Synopsis Hagrid is teaching the students a lesson! There are SNAKES.
Location Meadow, Hogwarts
Date May 29, 1995
Watch For Basilisk How-To
Logger Holly

It's mid-afternoon, a nice day in May, and not too long before the end of the year. The weather's warm, and it's a good day to be outside, even if there are a few clouds in the sky indicating that it just might rain. That's not now, though, which means today's lesson is on.

Hagrid's out in front of his home, throwing seed on the ground for a small flock of hens and one rooster, who are milling about the area with little concern to Fang, who is idly sniffing at them and licking seed up from the dirt. Every once in awhile, Hagrid yells at the dog to cut that out, but never really does much about it. At least Fang's not eating the chickens.

As students have been told, this lesson is about the basilisk. Oddly, there's no basilisk around. One would consider that 'oddly' in terms of the fact that Hagrid would likely own one, whether it was legal or illegal, and rumours have been going around that he does have one, and he is going to sic it on the students! All that's in the area, though, is a table with a couple boxes on it.

Maybe he put a basilisk in one of those boxes!

As people start to gather, Hagrid throws the rest of the seed on the ground, dusts off his hands, and leans on a nearby convenient fencepost. "We'll be startin' just a'soon as everyone's 'ere," he says.

—-

Tugging at the collar of her school robes, Siobhan jogs the last few steps down to Hagrid's hut. Her hair is pulled back into two French braids lying tight against her skull, and the crisp spring air has brought a flush of healthy color to her cheeks. "Hullo, Hagrid!" she calls cheerily, stopping short at the sight of the chickens. "Um…these're birds." As opposed to snakes, of course.

—-

Mei wanders down across the meadows, before grumbling up at the sky. Idly she fidgets somewhat, but really doesn't do anything else. Just a simple bored, or nervous fidget. Picking a place nice and out of the way, as well as one that provides a perfect escape route, Mei gets comfy and waits to see who dies…or not, as the case may be.

—-

It looks as if everyone's here! "O'course they are!" Hagrid says, as if the very reason the chickens are here is completely obvious. As he steps toward the class, they meander away in different directions, as almost a side-thought. There's food on the ground; there could be a hurricane bearing down on them and they wouldn't care. "Hullo, Noble," he says, as well as greeting the other students who choose to greet him. With a smile, he goes to that table with the boxes on it, and starts pulling things out.

"T'day's lesson's about the basilisk. Nasty thing. Got a temper, untamable, except by those what can speak ta snakes. Anyone know what that's called?" He'll allow anyone who knows to speak the answer as he sets things on the table. A bowl of eggs. A snake skin. Taking an enormous toad out of the second box, he tucks it under his arm like it's a sack of potatos. It croaks, and then remains placidly in its place, looking out at the students while the professor sets the eggs out, one by one, on the table.

—-

Mei blinks and ahs, looking about but keeping her mouth shut for now. The snide little comment is bitten back before she cants her head to one side, raising an eyebrow. After a moment she mutters something to the effect of "Creepy."

—-

"Parseltongue." Siobhan is very matter-of-fact about this. "S'what Harry is, yeah? An' most people think it's a mark of a Dark Wizard, but that's just silly." Eyeing those eggs, Sio steps to one side, putting the large man between herself and them. No particular reason why. Just… Those eggs are creepy.

—-

"Tha's righ'," Hagrid says to Siobhan. "People think it's Dark Wizard stuff 'cuz most Parseltongues a'been Dark Wizards. Aren't true, though, an' it's a handy trick. Would be neat, t'be able to talk to 'em." The last part is stated under his breath. Then again, Hagrid would think it'd be neat to talk to just about any animal.

Noticing how some students are eying the eggs, Hagrid chuckles. "These are chicken eggs, you lot. Well, most of 'em are. C'mon up 'ere. They've been frozen, so they won't hatch. There's no diff'rence between a chicken egg n' a basilisk egg, save one. Pick 'em up. See if you can spot what it is."

—-

Mei sighs some, looking about before just stepping forward. The first egg she picks up is cold. VERY cold. With a gleep she puts it back down quickly and shakes her hand. "Bit much on the freezing spell Hagrid…" she mutters, trying to warm her chilled hand before reaching to another. Passing through two, maybe three she pauses and peers. "All chicken eggs right?" Looking back she hmms and steps back, pointing to the one in the middle of the table. "That one" she says, but doesn't explain why. "And hagrid, the first one's cracking…"

—-

Brushing just her fingertips over the eggs, Siobhan passes one that Mei had handled, pauses and then returns to it. Very gently she lifts it into her hands, cradling it between both palms and stroking it softly; there's an expression of wonder on her face as she glances up to her professor. "This one's rougher an' the pits're deeper."

From the depths of her sleeve, there is an agitated-sounding hiss. How'd that get there?

—-

"The'idea was to kill the embryos," he says. No one wants a basilisk running around, especially not after the previous year and what happened to all of those students. So many could have been killed! But in Hagrid's opinion, it's important to educate students about such things. Because basilisks are, when one really thinks about it, pretty darn cool.

"Tha's right. Now why tha' is is pretty simple. Toad skin's a lot different than chicken feathers. Ye'v all read Fantastic Beasts, righ'? Says it takes a frog ter sit on a chicken egg t'hatch it. Toads work a bit better n' my opinion. They cover th' whole egg." Makes it a little easier for the egg to become viable. "Any'ow, a toad sittin' on an egg for long periods o' time causes this pitting to happen." He starts to reach for the egg in Siobhan's hand when he hears the hiss, and while he doesn't draw back, he does look rather surprised. He's sure all those eggs were dead. "What do y'ave in your sleeve, Noble?"

—-

Mei slowly turns, raising a single eyebrow at the sound. Closing her eyes she slowly steps back, just one single step, muttering something about dangerous snakes. "Trouble I'd wager professor…"

—-

Turning to glare daggers at the younger Hufflepuff, Siobhan lifts her lip in an almost animalistic snarl. "Would you shut up about things you don't know nothin' about?" she snaps. "You've no idea about her, so if I were you, I'd keep that trap of yours closed." Turning to Hagrid, she heaves a sigh and straightens her shoulders. "It's a seraph, sir. A water seraph."

—-

"Er… Siobhan," Hagrid says awkwardly, the attempt to chastise her for yelling at Mei falling flat. He never was great at disciplining students. "I'll, er… 'ave t'take a couple points from Slytherin fer tha'." If he remembers. He's more interested in the Seraph in her sleeve. "Let's see it, then, c'mon, I've 'eard it, so's I know it's there." He's got this look in his eye, like he might just steal it. At least Siobhan will know that the creature is in good hands. They'll… get back to their lesson in a moment.

—-

Mei blinks and holds her hands up slowly, backing away. "Thought it was something nasty, given what's been going on recently." Shaking her head, Mei just tries to get away. Something just doesn't feel exactly kosher, and while Sio seems to think it's ok, the lil puff doesn't take any chances.

—-

Ginny arrives, late and flustered. Things had Not been going well today - she'd woken up late, spilled her ink well on some of her notes, broken one of her last quills, and generally had an unpleasant time in classes. She's most decidedly frazzled as she bolts across the meadow to Hagrid's class. "I'mlatesorryHagridwhat'dImiss?" The words come out in a hasty jumble.

—-

"Just stop talkin', please." Siobhan is not in the mood to deal with people and their stupid prejudices today. "Hang on." Thrusting the egg at the out-of-breath Gin, she reaches up her sleeve and draws out a small, pearlescent white snake - with wings. "Hagrid, this is Quetzalcoatl. Q, meet Hagrid." She uses both hands to support the young Seraph, whose clouded eyes stare sightlessly ahead as her tongue flickers out to taste the air. "She can't see very well, but she's sweet as can be, really."

—-

"Oh, no'much, Weasley, jes' learned the difference b'tween chicken eggs and basilisk eggs!" He's one of the few professors who's not really upset about the occasional tardy or two. And it's pretty obvious that Hagrid plays favourites - he likes Ginny. She's a good student, so there's a little leeway there that he might not offer, say, Draco Malfoy, the git.

Aw, aw!! Hagrid just beams when Siobhan pulls Q out of her sleeve. He slowly, carefully, reaches out for her, allowing the tongue of the snake to contact his hand before he touches her, gently brushing large hands down her wings. "Ah, she's beautiful." And not really supposed to be here at the school - in the care of a student, anyway. "You'll see me after class, aye? Got a bit of talkin' I need ter do."

Because if he starts going on about Q now, he's going to spend the whole lesson talking about her. "Ahem, back to the basilisk, then…"

—-

Looking to the…snake's snake, Mei blinks and suddenly goes deathly pale. Stepping back once, maybe twice, she peers at the little thing and then starts to tremble, apparently deathly afraid of the tiny creature. Looking very much like Ron when dealing with spiders, the girl just stands there petrified, muttering in soft chinese under her breath.

—-

Did he say basilisk? "Did you say basilisk?" Ginny had taken the egg without thinking when it was thrust upon her, but now she looks down at the chilly thing with horror. Her features contort, and her grip just… loosens, as if she can't bear to touch the egg a second longer. The egg drops to the grass. Tears are beginning to show in her eyes, and she's trying desperately to catch her breath.

—-

"Yeah, she is inn'she?" Siobhan's smile is soft and indulgent as she watches her little white love. As Hagrid strokes the soft, smooth hide, the little snake hisses and croons in a very…kitten-ish way. "Yes, Hagrid." Sio answers with a sigh; resigned. Draping Q around her shoulders, she rubs her seraph's head, shoots Mei a disdainful glance and in the process notices Ginny. "Hey, Gin… You okay?" Reaching her free hand out towards her younger friend's shoulder, she steps closer - so not in time to rescue the egg.

—-

While Mei's scared of snakes, it's Ginny who was down in the Chamber of Secrets with the thing. It's something that the staff knows well. "No, no, there aren't no live ones," he says quickly, as the egg smashes into the ground and cracks open. Well, at least that's a nice segue into the next bit of his lesson. "Did y'all see what Ginny did there? Tha's exactly what y'all should do if y'ever find a basilisk egg! Y'smash it!" Even Hagrid understands the dangers of the basilisk. See, at least with a dragon, they're nice when they're little, and they can't kill you just by looking at you. "These things can kill ya, just by meetin' yer eyes." Leaning down, he picks up the egg, and then gently taps it on the table to break it open the rest of the way.

Along with the albumen that covers the table, an eel-like thing falls out of the egg, barely developed, looking like some demented cross between a snake and a chick. "This is as close to a basilisk as any o' you'll ever be, with any luck. An' this one's long-dead." Leaving the students to gawk over the infant deadly creature, Hagrid puts his arm on Ginny's shoulder, saying softly, "You dunna have to stay, if you don't want to. Ye can go back ter the school."

Raising his voice, he says to the rest of the class, "Now, 'oo wants t'tell me 'ow a Basilisk is created? Mind, this is all in non-restricted books." Just in case anyone tries to rat him out. It has happened. "But don' go makin' one of yer own. Even th' babies have venom that's really potent. N' only a parseltongue can control 'em."

—-

Mei cloes her eyes for a long time, muttering some repeated chant over and over before slowly calming down somewhat. So long as she steers clear of that EVIL little thing. Why, oh why did it have to be snakes? Shuddering yet, she peers and says softly "Chicken egg under a toad. Couple days I think but I don't remember how long gestation is."

—-

Ginny finally takes a deep, shuddering breath - then another, and another. When she's finally gotten herself under control, she smiles weakly at Hagrid and Siobhan. "I.. I'm okay," she says, her voice quavering a little. However, it gains strength when she adds, "Just got a little spooked." In a low voice, she says to Hagrid, "I'll stay - it's good to learn about these sorts of things. But thanks." Ginny smiles up at the teacher, then turns her attention to the lesson. Q earns a soft smile from her. Kittysnake!

—-

Taking another step so that she's standing next to Ginny and just a little bit behind, Siobhan turns her attention back to the lesson. "Is that why people thought Harry was the Heir of Slytherin? Cause he could control the Basilisk?" Being so far ahead of the boy in school meant she hadn't heard very much other than twisted rumors. Q, for her part, recognizes Ginny's scent and though she doesn't leave her mistress' shoulder, she does rub her face affectionately on the redhead's shoulder.

—-

He gives Ginny another encouraging look, a smile. Gryffindors are always brave, and he's not surprised that she's chosen to stay, facing her fears.

"Chicken egg under a toad. S'righ," Hagrid says. "Wha' they don' tell ya, is… Well, there's a bit o' magic involved with it. Complicated spells I won't be teachin' ya, 'cuz I don' know 'em. No one else should, either." He make sure to point at aaaall the other students. No making Basilisks. Basilisks bad. "There is one thing - one li'l bit 'o trivia I can tell ya. You're righ' that a Basilisk's born from a chicken's egg, but it aren't the hen y'ave t'get it from. It's the rooster."

As he reaches among the flock of chickens so he can pick up the rooster - who doesn't seem too happy about that - he answers Siobhan's question. "Er - I don' like ter talk - I mean - " He sighs. "'arry can talk ter snakes. An 'andy talent t'ave, like I said. Don' mean 'e's the Heir o' Slytherin." There's defensiveness in his tone there. Hagrid, as always, is very protective of Harry, ever since the boy was a baby. "Noble, I wonder if you'd come 'ere for jes' a sec. I've a favour t'ask."

—-

Mei looks at Hagrid for a long moment, turning over what she just heard in her head before saying rather loudly (at least for her) "Wait…what?" Blinking some she ah's some and then shakes her head, the fear of that…thing momentarily gone. Looking at Hagrid she whistles some before saying softly "uh…Roosters can't lay eggs…"

—-

Ginny looks a bit startled when Q rubs against her, but obligingly rubs a finger over the crown of the kittysnake's head. The rooster's indignation startles a grin out of her - it's small, but it's there. Brown eyes are intent on the lesson, and she doesn't take notes. No, this is the type of thing she'll remember - personal experience has a way of making things stick.

—-

Nodding once, Siobhan moves closer to their professor. "Sure, Hagrid. What's up?" She, too, eyes the rooster strangely. She's not exactly an expert on Muggle poultry, but she's fairly certain that Mei's got a point.

—-

"You're gon' tell me tha' you've been goin' ter 'ogwarts fer five years n' you cannae accept th' fact tha' roosters can lay eggs! Bah." Of course, it only seems natural to Hagrid that roosters would be able to lay eggs. To everyone else… Well. One has to think outside the box, of course. Leaning down, he whispers something to Siobhan, then holds the rooster out in front of him.

—-

Listening carefully, Siobhan nods and smiles up at Hagrid before tapping the inside of her wrist against her thigh - which drops her tiny willow wand into her hand - and waves it in the general direction of the rooster. Well, the hen-formerly-known-as-rooster. For yes, it is now, indeed, a hen. "Talk about ya gender confusion," she mutters to herself. "Anythin' else, Hagrid?" She's not rude about it, just asking. Anyone who shares her fondness for critters - such as the large gamekeeper - is alright in her book.

—-

Mei rolls her eyes, but laughs somewhat. "That's just cheating…" she says, but then sighs somewhat. "And wrong on so many levels."

—-

Ginny looks quite interested. Is this a magical rooster? A rooster with the capabilities of a hen? She watches intently to see what will happen. "I, um. Wow! So you transfigure a rooster into a hen and get it to sit on the egg and /then/ you have a basilisk? That's.. huh!" Ginny peers at the now-a-hen.

—-

And Hagrid chuckles, shaking his head to Siobhan, and holding up the hen. It still looks much like a rooster, but appearances can be deceiving. "And 'ere we 'ave a rooster 'oo can lay eggs," he says. "Only way t'get 'em.

Now, back when th'basilisk was… 'discovered,'" and he uses the term loosely, since the basilisk is a product of magic, "toads became a popular pet t'ave. This were, oh, I dunno, years'n'years ago. Anyway, wif the ban on experimental breeding, toads became a bit less pop'lar, I think." Who knows if that's true or not? Hagrid would likely know, and it's why he's got that toad still stuffed under his other arm. Setting the chicken down, he holds up the toad. "'course, findin' a toad ter sit on an egg fer weeks straight is no easy task. Ya can see why basilisks are so 'ard ter make. Not ter mention all tha' magic." For awhile, he trails off, describing the maximum size of the basilisk, the age they can live to, and other miscellaneous facts.

After putting the toad back in the box, Hagrid arranges the shards of the broken egg shell on the table. "I want y'all ter feel the egg. Look at it. Memorise wha' it looks like. After wha' 'appened las' year, we don' want anymore of these around." By the tone in Hagrid's voice, he might actually be afraid of the large snake. Maybe. "If y'ever see one o' these eggs, it's a far better thing ter smash it an' 'ave ter pay 'ooever's sellin' it, then to let one o' these things hatch."

—-

Siobhan's already felt the thing, and since Q didn't much care to be so close to the thing, she falls back to let the others in first. No hurry. Q, however, has other ideas. She's getting a bit squirmy and - rather than risk her little pet trying to fly in the open air - Siobhan reaches into an inside pocket for a few scraps of meat from lunch and feeds the little seraph one bite at a time. This is perfectly sufficient in the manner of distractions.

—-

Ginny listens intently to Hagrid, stopping at one point to scribble down a few notes, just in case. "Smash at all costs. Got it, Ha - Professor Hagrid. I think I can manage that." Her grin is genuine, and only the slightest bit wobbly.

—-

Hagrid's completely sure that Ginny won't let him down. And perhaps smashing the egg helped her a bit. Even if it was a small step — that's what he's here for, to help the students. "Righ', well, no homework today, I'm afraid." He knows they'll all be so disappointed by that. "Make sure y'all check out th'shell. 'ere's some basilisk skin…" He indicates the bit of snakeskin on the table. "When yer all set, y'can go on ter yer next class. Miss Noble, I'll 'ave that word with you now."

—-

"Siobhan," Sio offers gently, stepping forward to stand near the half-giant while the rest of the class starts to meander back towards the castle. "It's only Miss Noble when I'm in trouble." She grins up at him, her usual, cheeky-yet-contagious grin, and reaches up to rub at one of Q's eye-ridges, her face growing serious. "What d'you want me t'do with Q? I mean, school's almost over an' I've managed to keep her a secret since Christmas already…"

—-

Hagrid reaches up, scratching the back of his head as he looks at the winged snake. He has no idea what to do about it. "Well, y'aren't s'posed ter 'ave them at the school, strictly speakin'. Er— Cats, owls, toads… Rats recently, too, I guess, but no' these. But I aren't gonna take 'er away from yer. Not gonna break th'rules, either. I want'cher ta promise me you'll go straight to Dumbledore. 'e'll be fair. N'yer a seventh-year, I don' know why e' wouldnae let ya keep 'im 'til yer outta 'ogwarts. Is tha' a deal?"

—-

Ginny takes a few moments to study the shell intently. There's a conversation going on nearby, but she barely hears it - no, she's engaged in a staring contest with the egg shards. Her expression grim, she takes a piece of basilisk skin and tucks it into a pocket in her bag, along with an egg shard. Ginny doesn't intend to ever forget.

—-

"I'll…" Heaving a sigh and swallowing hard, Siobhan braces herself and plunges onwards with an almost Hufflepuff determination. "I'll speak with Professor Dumbledore." She had a few things to ask him anyway, and someone was bound to find out anyway. Really, it's a wonder she managed to keep the little creature secret this long.

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