Chapter 6: What We Fear Most
Almost three hours after the Great Hall fiasco, Hogwarts had settled back into it’s usual mood. Professor Wood limped slowly across the Defense Against the Dark Art’s classroom. He tapped his wand thoughtfully against his hand as he explained boggarts to the assembled Gryffindors and Slytherins first years.
“A boggart,” the professor said,” is arguably one of the foulest creatures on earth. For they take the shape or form of whatever the person facing them fears most.”
I felt myself shrink inside my skin at the thought of the boggart, and looked around at my housemates. My fellow Gryffindors were sitting up straight, looking brave at the prospect of proving that they deserved to be in the house of courage.
Unlike me, I thought. Nobody could believe I was in Gryffindor. My brother James didn’t say a single word during the feast, and although Mom and Dad sent letters of congratulations, I could tell that they were astonished I wasn’t in Hufflepuff or something like that.
Looking to my left I saw that the Slytherins were not as relaxed as the Gryffindors. The bully Peter Nott sat across from me, his face still purple from where it had hit the ground. The Malfoy girl Hazel sat in the very front row, her platinum blond hair still smoking from where Nott’s spell had missed.
I couldn’t see her face, only the tips of her ears, which were beet red. I knew why. Everyone in the entire school knew why. After Nott had insulted the Malfoy name Scorpius and Hazel attacked him, and while Nott defended himself was Stunned in the process. After seeing what the Malfoy girl could do, I was scared of being in the same classroom with her.
Another reason why I shouldn’t be in Gryffindor, I thought.
“Potter” said Professor Wood. He was looking down at me. “What did I just say?”
My eyes widened and I developed a sudden interest in the wooden floor. Professor Wood used to be a world-famous Quidditch player, and even now, when he couldn’t play, you could still see the fire and competition inside of him.
“Five points from Gryffindor,” he said, and turned to the Slytherin side. “Malfoy, maybe you could tell us what Albus missed.”
Hazel turned slightly in her seat to look at the professor. “You said, Professor, that there are three keys to defeating the boggart. One, of course is the spell, Riddikulus. You can’t do anything without that. Another good thing to do is to tackle a boggart with lots of other people. If it gets confused, it could turn itself into half a slug or something— which isn’t scary at all. The final key is laughter.” She looked confused while saying this sentence, and I wondered why. “Laughter finishes off a boggart, because they are meant to bring fear, not merriment.”
Professor Wood nodded. He pointed with his wand to an old, battered desk. “Will you demonstrate how to defeat a boggart?” he asked.
Hazel turned pale, almost as white as freshly fallen snow. “O-okay,” she said, scrambling for her wand. Taking it in her hand, she approached the desk. Professor Wood shouted,” Alohomora!” A lonely drawer opened, and Hazel took a deep breath.
Slowly, a pale hand gripped the side of the drawer. Next came a face, green robes, and limbs. Once the figure stood up there were two Hazels facing each other.
I tilted my head at Hazel’s bogart. Why was she afraid of herself? The real Hazel’s wand jittered, and she said,” Ridic-“
The boggart put a finger to her lips and leaned closer to Hazel. If it was speaking I couldn’t tell, but I could see that Hazel was struggling to break free of the curse that the boggart withheld over her.
“Miss Malfoy,” Professor Wood said. Hazel didn’t respond. “Miss Malfoy,” he said louder. When she didn’t answer, he slid in front of her. She stumbled backwards, and ran out of the room.
Immediately the boggort became a horribly broken bone, floating in mid air. With one sweep of his wand, Professor Wood transformed it into a stick of celery.
Apparently worn out, the boggart burst into tiny grey pieces of smoke.
“Miss Malfoy?” Wood said, turning around. She wasn’t there. “Where did she go?” he asked the class.
I raised my hand. “She went out of the classroom.”
Professor Wood nodded. “Will you please go and fetch her, Potter? We don’t need a student running around the castle right now. Peeves is still in his pranking mood.”
I stood from my desk and shoved everything into my bag.
“Do we come back to this classroom, sir?” I asked, eyeing the books on Hazel’s desk. I hope I don’t have to carry those, I thought.
“No,” he said. “You first-years have two free periods after this one. I turned to leave, and Professor Wood added,” Bring Miss Malfoy’s books, please.”
As I shoveled the heavy books into her bag I thought, this Malfoy better be worth finding.