The Sugar Quill
Author: zzzFF Luminous Marble  Story: Two of a Different Kind  Chapter: Default
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Two of a Different Kind

"I don't know why I tolerate your existence."

In a deep hollow at the heart of the Forbidden Forest, an aging arachnid scratched his companion with one long, bristled leg. He was getting too old for this, but the repetitive motion loosened his joints (even if it did not relieve the pain resulting from long years of hanging upside-down and sideways in the endless quest for food). By virtue of founding a colony Aragog had earned the right to be waited on foot and foot and foot and foot and foot and foot and foot and foot... So why was he catering to the whims of another?

"The conversation is rather one-sided."

Hagrid was the only reason that he knew anything of conversation in the first place. It had been Hagrid who had beamed with pleasure when Aragog finally managed his first word. Hagrid who had read his textbooks aloud -- well, under his breath, as he moved his lips when he read -- and given Aragog a broader worldview. Hagrid who taught him what a pet was. They’ll keep you company. Keep you from feeling lonely in the end.

Aragog had been alone for years before he realized he might have a pet rather than be one, settling for watching his cross-bred eggs hatch and acting as both mother and father in the hopes that one of his children would have the magic spark of intelligence. Not one had ever uttered so much as a syllable. Strangely enough, his pet, though mute, showed more pluck and more brains than any of his offspring.

"You always make a mess of things."

As an extraordinary beast, Aragog had an extraordinary relationship with nature. Only trees of remarkable size, like those within the copse where he made his home, could have supported the web and harbored the wildlife required to feed him and his progeny. He needed space to spin exact, symmetrical patterns between ancient trunks. No uneven and patchy web would do. Neither wind nor water was allowed to mar the gauzy creations. Even the fluffy clouds the surrounded the latest kill had to be positioned just so.

And yet he allowed the presence of one who would stain the forest floor. Puddles of orange and green and black, noxious and repellent, soaked into the earth and Aragog had to mop up the puddles with bundles of silk. New trails crisscrossed the clearing and ran out into the brush. He would never allow one of his own children to act so irresponsibly, but it could be tolerated in a pet.

"You beg for food."

That wasn't quite true. For the most part, his pet fended for itself. However, there had been one remarkable moment seasons ago when it had stolen a meal intended for his sons and daughters right off the table, so to speak. It had gobbled them up in three greedy gulps. The memory still rankled, but Aragog forgave.

"I ought to drive you away from here."

Aragog needed neither friend nor pet in the strictest sense. He could live his life alone and never bother with any creature that had fewer legs than he did but there was something about this creature that could not quite be tamed, some mirror into his own soul. Something about the feeling of camaraderie generated by the simple fact that each was the only one of its kind within the bounds of the forest. Something about scratching something else with one leg and hearing a low, rusty purring.

"But I wouldn't trade you for anything."

The Ford Anglia wagged its tailfins and sounded its horn softly in agreement. With a contented sigh, Aragog gave it one last rub before curling up next to his friend and falling fast asleep.

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