Lion, the Dragon, and the Jobberknoll
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.
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.
wasn’t signed, and Harry did not recognize the spiky copperplate. He squashed
the paper thoughtfully, wondering what to do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Draco stood up.
“Fine. Your choice. I was
“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?”
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.”
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
“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