Note: The world of Harry Potter is J.K. Rowling’s, not mine.
Apologies should be offered to Monty Python, as well, for borrowing some
of their words.
It was a brisk Saturday morning in September, and Harry Potter and his
friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger decided to take advantage of
their relatively light start-of-term workloads to pay a visit to Hagrid.
They walked from the castle doors to the small wooden hut that was home
to the Care of Magical Creatures teacher and Keeper of the Keys and Grounds
at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry knocked on the door,
which opened moments later to reveal the large, hairy face of Hagrid.
“Harry! Ron! Hermione!” he exclaimed, gesturing them inside, “Yer jest
in time! Come an’ see what I found in the Forest this mornin’!”
Having had first-hand experience with the kind of creatures that lived
in the Forbidden Forest (a nearly-fatal encounter with a family of giant
spiders sprang immediately to Harry’s mind), and knowing that Hagrid tended
to be excited by things that would frighten any right-thinking person
out of his wits, the three young people hesitated at the threshold. However,
a quick glance around the door assured Harry that there were no Acromantulas,
Quintapeds, or Chimaeras waiting just inside the room to attack, and he
ventured cautiously in. Ron and Hermione followed, looking all around
the interior of the hut, clearly on guard in case of sudden attack.
Hagrid was beaming down at what seemed to be a rock sitting on his table.
However, as Harry drew closer (carefully, keeping in mind that small things
still had the potential to be unpleasant- Baby Norbert and the first encounter
with the Blast-Ended Skrewts were excellent examples), he could see that
it was not actually a rock at all; it was a bird, huddled in on itself,
apparently in pain. Nearly transparent, the bird seemed to be made entirely
out of delicately carved crystal. Although each feather was individually
defined, the overall impression was of an angular and crystalline sculpture.
The only detractions from this impression were the facts that the small
creature kept letting out quiet, wheezing coughs, and that one of its
wings had a large smooth spot that looked as if it was eroding away.
“It’s beautiful,” whispered Hermione.
“Certainly better than most of the things you take in, Hagrid,” said
Ron, “What is it?”
Hagrid grinned at them, “It’s a young Pen Goon. Probably wandered away
from its mother and got lost. I found it at the edge of the Forest; some
creature had been licking away the feathers on its wing, so it couldn’t
fly away. But I gave it a mug of treacle, and it ate it right up, so
I think it’s about ready to grow its adult feathers, anyway.”
“Wait a second,” interjected Harry, terribly confused, “A penguin? This
doesn’t look anything like a penguin!”
“No, Harry, a Pen Goon.” Hagrid corrected, “Ye probably don’t
recognize it, still looking like it’s made of sugar, an’ all, but you
just wait till it’s molted and grown its adult feathers. Maybe it’ll
stick around instead of flyin’ away, and we can collect the tail feathers
it drops. I bet you’d like to have some home-grown Sugar Quills!”
Now it was Ron’s turn to interject. “Now just hold on,” he said. “Are
you telling me that Sugar Quills come off the backside of an actual bird!?”
He looked simultaneously disgusted and scandalized.
“That’s fascinating!” said Hermione, obviously pleased with this new
information. “A bird with edible quills . . . and it lives on a diet
of treacle?” She continued in this vein for some time, asking questions
that Hagrid was more than happy to answer.
Harry was more inclined to agree with Ron. But while he didn’t find
the idea very appealing, he wasn’t quite as vocal about it as the other
boy. “Honestly, is nothing safe?!” Ron was saying, “I’m going to start
closely examining every wrapper before I eat anything! I mean,
Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans are bad enough, but then I find out about
Fizzing Whizzbees . . . and now Sugar Quills are ruined for me! What’s
next? Am I going to walk into Honeydukes and find out that Drooble’s
Best Blowing Gum has a sticker on it that says ‘Warning, Lark’s Vomit’?
Or that Chocolate Frogs really do contain actual frogs?”
Harry couldn’t help but laugh at this outburst. “I don’t think you need
to worry about the Chocolate Frogs, at the very least,” he said.
Ron looked at him with doubt in his eyes. “What makes you so sure?”
“No bones. If they were real frogs, they’d be a great deal crunchier.”
Harry grinned cheekily. Hermione suppressed a laugh. Hagrid laughed
aloud. Ron shook his head in mock despair.
And the sun shone brightly on the grounds, wherein, for the time being,
the greatest worry of its occupants was the origin of their sweets.