The Sugar Quill
Author: Galatyn Renner  Story: The Lion, the Dragon, and the Jobberknoll  Chapter: Default
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The Lion, the Dragon, and the Jobberknoll

The Lion, the Dragon, and the Jobberknoll

 

By Galatyn Renner

 

Disclaimer: The characters and setting belong to J. K. Rowling, as does the Jobberknoll. The plot is mine. The use of Jobberknoll feathers is an idea of R. J. Anderson’s.

 

Author’s Note: For Rebekah. And, as ever, S. D. G. Wesa goin home!

 

Harry Potter stirred his porridge, watching the milk swirl, not eating. Ron and Hermione were in an early morning prefect meeting and had rushed off while Harry dressed. Ron seemed to be taking his duties seriously this year, which scared Harry a little. He tried to tell himself that Ron was only trying to impress Hermione, but a lovesick Ron was worse than a responsible Ron, so Harry gave up.

 

He glanced around in time to save his frigid breakfast from a gigantic tawny owl It swooped down at him, dropped a sealed parchment in his lap, and winged out of the Hall. Harry stared after it, then broke the seal and read.

 

Potter,

            If you are at all interested in information concerning the whereabouts of Lord Voldemort and his plans, be in the Forbidden Forest in fifteen minutes. Follow the sparks. Come alone.

 

It wasn’t signed, and Harry did not recognize the spiky copperplate. He squashed the paper thoughtfully, wondering what to do.

 

The note could be meant to lure him into the Forest by Lord Voldemort himself. It could be a joke, sent by one of the Slytherins to try to make him late for Potions, his first class. Or, the letter might be genuine, in which case Harry could not ignore it. He looked at his new watch, a birthday present from Hermione, deciding that speed and a bit of espionage were in order.

 

Harry trotted out of the Great Hall, back up to Gryffindor Tower. He retrieved his Firebolt from his trunk and soared out the window. Harry flew every morning, taking his broom out to the Quidditch Pitch and releasing the Snitch he had bought in Diagon Alley that summer. He felt he could use the practice after not playing half of last year. Oliver Wood would have been proud.

 

Now, however, he pointed his broom west of the castle. Soaring over the trees, Harry’s Quidditch-trained eyes noticed a trail of gold twinkling below, perpendicular to his flight path. He turned his broom to follow them into the heart of the Forbidden Forest.

 

A hundred yards in, the sparks ended at a clearing. Harry could see a figure pacing below, but whoever it was had their hood up. Harry drew his wand and dived, pulling up just before the ground. The person in the cloak, startled by Harry’s entrance, fell over. His hood came down, revealing the ice-blond hair and pallid face of Draco Malfoy.

 

Harry stared at him. Malfoy, however, composed himself instantly and sat up. “Nice Wronski Feint, Potter. Krum been taking time off from snogging the Mudblood to give you lessons?”

 

Jumping off his broom, Harry glared at his rival. “What are you doing here, Malfoy?”

 

“Well. I’m meant to be meeting you, aren’t I?” Draco examined the nails on his left hand, buffing them on his robes. “Took you long enough.”

 

“So the owl was from you. Right, I’m off.” Harry remounted the Firebolt.

 

Draco stood up. “Fine. Your choice. I was serious.”

 

“Not safe to betray Voldemort, Malfoy,” Harry taunted, his feet inches above the ground.

 

“How would you know, Potter?” Draco spat back, but he looked around nervously.

 

“And why should I believe this information of yours, anyway?” Harry crossed his arms, balancing in midair.

 

Draco pulled a fistful of feathery something from the pocket of his robes and held it up. “Know what this is, Potter? Care of Magical Creatures last month ring a bell?”

 

Harry thought quickly, his eyes on the blue speckled bird. “It’s a Jobberknoll, so?”

 

“What do you know about Jobberknolls, Potter?” Draco asked condescendingly.

 

“They scream when they die, every sound they’ve ever heard. You’re having me on.”

 

“I am not. Hagrid neglected to tell us that swallowing a Jobberknoll feather induces one to tell the truth. If I do, will you believe me?”

 

As Hermione had whispered this to him during that class, Harry said, “I suppose. Go on, then.” And, as an afterthought: “Why are you so keen on telling me this, Malfoy?”

 

“I want a promise from you, Potter. I want you to swear on your scar that when Voldemort falls and they bring me in you’ll testify that I helped the Light.”

 

“All right, Malfoy.”

 

Draco pulled out one of the bird’s tail feathers and swallowed it, grimacing. “Tastes like dung.” He stuffed the remainder of the Jobberknoll back into his pocket.

 

Harry waited a few seconds, before asking, “Who’s the better Seeker, Malfoy?”

 

Draco’s mouth worked silently for a few minutes before he decided that he could only say: “You are.”

 

“Thanks, Malfoy. Now, about this information….” Harry dipped his broom lower to listen.

 

“Lord Voldemort is hiding at Durmstrang, fifty kilometers north of Bucharest. He plans to attack Hogwarts next month with a company of Death Eaters, giants, and Dementors. Sturgis Podmore has been feeding him information for a year from the Order of the Phoenix. That’s all I am sure of. Do what you want with it.” Draco stopped, gauging Harry’s reaction.

 

“Again, why are you telling me this?” Harry wanted to know.

 

Draco gave him a long, struggling look. “Because I’m a Slytherin, Potter. I do what’s in my own best interest.”

 

“So which side are you going to be on?”

 

“As if you needed to ask, Potter.” Draco laughed without mirth.

 

But, Harry thought, he’s telling me this. “Where will your wand be pointed, though?”

 

The laugh again. “Now you’re thinking, Potter. Most likely at my father’s back.” Draco looked away. “You’re going to be late for Potions, standing here all morning. Which is fine by me; I’d like to see Slytherin win the House Cup again.” But Harry was already rising above the trees.

 

Draco waited until he was gone to take the Jobberknoll back out. Touching his wand to its throat, he murmured, “Avada Kedavra.”

 

A tiny pop of emerald light, and the bird shrieked. Draco dropped it to the loam and strode back towards Hogwarts to the sound of his betrayal.

 

 

The Beginning of the End

 

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