The Sugar Quill
Author: Madhuri (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Magizoologist in Training  Chapter: Chapter One
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

 

A/N: This is the first in a small collection of tales I’m planning to write about the various adventures of Newt Scamander, the illustrious and quite fascinating author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This fic might contain spoilers if you haven’t read the book yet.

This story is set in the year 1911, when Newt was in his 4th year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The Magizoologist in Training.

I look back across the years to the seven-year-old wizard who spent hours in his bedroom dismembering Horklumps and I envy him the journeys to come.

I have visited lairs, burrows and nests across five continents, observed the curious habits of Magical Beasts in a hundred countries, witnessed their power, gained their trust, and, on occasion, beaten them off with my travelling kettle.

- Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Chapter 1

"Patrick, hurry up!" cried Newt Scamander. "If we’re late for class Pokeby’ll have our hides!"

"We still have ten minutes before class starts, Newt. And you know that Pokeby’s hardly ever on time." said Patrick Murray. His voice was rather stifled as he was lying on his stomach under his bed searching for his copy of Monstrosities Galore for the Care of Magical Creatures Class.

"Better safe than sorry," mumbled Newt, running a hand nervously through his reddish-brown hair.

"Got it!" cried Patrick as he emerged from under his bed, his usually neat blond hair completely mussed up and his hand clutching a book which was so tattered it looked like it would have preferred to stay under the bed.

Without a word, Newt grabbed Patrick’s arm, and ran out of their dorm, through the Gryffindor common room, nearly knocked down a first-year as he burst through the Portrait Hole ("Watch it!" cried the Fat Lady) and was soon racing down the corridors.

"Why the rush?" panted Patrick as he struggled to keep up with his friend.

"Don’t you see?" cried Newt excitedly, not breaking his pace. "Today’s the day!"

Realization suddenly dawned in Patrick’s eyes and he grinned at Newt as they burst out into the bright sunlight onto the Hogwarts grounds.

Today was the day all right. Newt had been waiting for it ever since his mother had told him over the summer that she might help out their Care of Magical Creatures Professor by lending the school some of her prize Hippogriffs for the students to study for a few weeks. Newt was looking forward to this class. Not only was he going to see the animals he had grown up with, and missed terribly whenever he was at school, but nobody knew more about Hippogriffs than he did. For once, he was not going to look like an idiot in class.

School had never been easy for Newt. He was keen and enthusiastic, but he never could understand the incredibly formal and conventional methods most of the Professors used. For his first two years in Hogwarts the only solace he had was in the Transfiguration classes, where Professor Dumbledore would delight him with his whimsical idiosyncracies and the never ending encouragement he always gave Newt, no matter how many times he accidentally made body parts of the animals he was supposed to be transfiguring mysteriously vanish.

Academics weren’t the only area in which he had trouble. He was quite unpopular in his house for the loads of points he lost for it almost weekly. Newt became rebellious when he was frustrated, and often broke the school rules blatantly, not caring for the consequences. He was wild, rash and adventurous, never comprehending why anyone would want to be cooped up in a stuffy old classroom when they could be out exploring the Forbidden Forest. The only friend he had was Patrick, and Newt treasured him. Patrick was the calm, sensible one, sticking up for Newt and often getting him out of trouble. He was one of the smartest students in their year, and all the teachers loved him. The mere fact that Patrick was Newt’s best friend gave him the credibility he couldn’t earn on his own.

But Newt had been very much looking forward to his third year, which he was determined to enjoy, because of the new class he had chosen- Care of Magical Creatures.

For the first time, for as long as he could remember, he actually felt excited about something. The summer before he returned to school, he spent most his time devouring the various textbooks his mother had lent him. He spent hours in the woody marshland near his house, observing Horklumps and playing with his pet Crups. However, a sore disappointment was in store for Newt.

Professor Pokeby was undoubtedly the last person Newt would have ever wanted to be in charge of his favourite class. Humourless, strict and at times horribly unfair, she looked upon Newt’s passion for the subject with suspicion, and felt rather threatened whenever he displayed his precocious knowledge of Magical Beasts. She felt that he usurped her authority, and the best student in her class quickly became the one she least liked.

That was what Newt concluded anyway, but instead focused on enjoying the one class where he was allowed to be outdoors and sometimes within close vicinity of the Forbidden Forest. Now in his fourth year, Newt was being extra careful not to displease his professors. He would be taking his O.W.Ls in a year, and he was treading on thin ice already. He was looking forward to this class- maybe Pokeby might even relent when she saw how proficient he was in his knowledge of Hippogriffs.

As Newt and Patrick hurried across the grounds, they noticed the group of Ravenclaws they took the class with huddled together near the edge of the Forbidden Forest. They were avidly staring at the group of Hippogriffs tied to the trees. The Hippogriffs seemed to be rather nervous at being inspected like this; some of them were nervously pawing the ground or rearing their heads. Every time one of them let out a grunt, a short Ravenclaw girl shrieked. Professor Pokeby was nowhere in sight.

Newt hurried up to the Hippogriffs and began to stroke them without bothering to bow. After all, he had grown up with these animals. The only one who knew them better than he did would have to be his mother. The Ravenclaws, impressed, gathered around Newt.

"Wow!"

"So these are your mother’s Hippogriff’s, eh Newt?"

"Are they dangerous?"

"What are their names?"

"Yuck! That one just ate a worm!"

Newt grinned, enjoying being the centre of attention in a positive way for once. He was usually the boy who stood out for the hundreds of points he lost for Gryffindor, or the one who sneaked out into the Forbidden Forest every other night, or the one who got detention for releasing dozens of Cornish Pixies into the school grounds on Halloween. The only way in which people usually recognised him was ‘The Son of the Famous Hippogriff Breeder Elizabeth Scamander’ or ‘The Best Friend of that Brilliant-Popular-Perfect-In-Every-Way Patrick Murray’.

Care of Magical Creatures was the one class he was good at, although he barely got recognition for it. Professor Pokeby seemed to be determined to taper down his marks to the lowest degree possible, which luckily, still came to be quite a lot.

Newt started introducing all the Hippogriffs to the Ravenclaws as some of the other Gryffindors lazily sauntered towards the gathering. "That one there is Diamond, and this one’s called Rockhoof, better not get behind her. That’s Brandybuck, Chubb and next to them is Eliza. She’s named after my mother. Those two over there are called Goldy and Bronzy. They had a baby a few months ago, and she’s called-"

"Let me guess… Silvery?" snickered the short Ravenclaw girl.

"Actually she’s named Irony, because my mother always thought that her parents couldn’t stand each other."

The Ravenclaws and even a few of the Gryffindors laughed at this. Newt scanned the group of Hippogriffs until he found the one he was looking for. "And this," he said, his voice becoming uncharacteristically gentle as he stroked a Hippogriff with silvery-grey plumage, "this is Eddy. He’s the first one of his kind in the entire world to be completely tamed."

Eddy was the reason Elizabeth Scamander had attained worldwide repute, and had had her face splashed on nearly every Magizoology magazine in Europe. When Elizabeth had started out on her experiments, Hippogriffs were still classified as dangerous, untameable beasts that no sane wizard would try to domesticate.

However, after over 10 years of research, experimentation and many cuts and scratches, Elizabeth had finally realised how to earn a Hippogriff’s trust and respect, and somehow had turned Eddy, the first Hippogriff she had ever captured, into a completely docile animal.

Elizabeth hadn’t wanted to send Eddy to Hogwarts; he was getting on in years and she was worried on how he might adapt to the new conditions. But Newt had insisted. Newt was closer to Eddy than he had ever been to anyone else in his entire life. He had helped his mother raise him; he’d played with him, flown him and fed him. Newt was fascinated by all sorts of Magical Beasts, including the ones he found and experimented on in the woody marshes near his house, but somehow he and Eddy shared a bond that was hard to explain. Eddy was Newt’s best friend. He was the only friend Newt had ever had before coming to Hogwarts.

Newt continued to stroke Eddy as his classmates gathered around to get a look at the famous Hippogriff. Some of them looked rather disappointed. Eddy was beautiful all right, at least to Newt, with his pure white, almost silvery plumage, but he was very old- Almost thirty years of age. Eddy looked around at the students around him with bleary, half-open eyes and his neck had a definite droop to it.

"Looks rather sick, doesn’t he?" muttered Vincent Thomas, a Gryffindor.

"Like he might drop dead any second," said his friend Molly Took.

"He’s very old!" cried Newt, defending Eddy. "But he’s incredibly strong! I’ve flown him dozens of times!"

"You mean you can fly him?" asked Flora Sandydowns incredulously.

"Of course you can fly him! You can fly on any Hippogriff!"

The crowd looked at him in disbelief. The short Ravenclaw girl shrieked again as Diamond suddenly took a step forward.

"Oh, you shouldn’t startle them. You have to bow to them first and…" Newt’s voice trailed off as he heard Professor Pokeby’s icy voice from behind him.

"I believe I am in charge of this class Mr. Scamander. All of you, get away from the beasts, now!" she barked. The class scattered away quickly as Newt blushed furiously and kept his eyes fixed on the ground.

"Although I see you lot were quite entertained by Mr. Scamander’s tall tales, I have to register my absolute shock that you could even think of being in the close vicinity of dangerous beasts without proper supervision! Hippogriffs are brutal, and they will attack with the least bit of provocation-"

"But Professor-"

"Quiet Scamander. 10 points from Gryffindor for talking out of turn."

Newt’s housemates muttered darkly and he barely noticed the sympathetic glance Patrick sent his way. He resolved to keep his mouth shut for the rest of the class. Professor Pokeby went on with her lecture, which Newt tried to block out, as it was so glaringly erroneous it was all he could do to keep himself from shouting out the correct information. He focused on a relatively conspicuous Bowtruckle on the branch of a tree when he suddenly heard his name being called.

"Since Mr. Scamander obviously has so much expertise on the subject that he feels that it’s not necessary to pay attention in class, perhaps he would honour us lesser mortals by demonstrating how to handle a Hippogriff?" Professor Pokeby drawled, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

But Newt barely noticed. He struggled hard not to let himself grin like an idiot, and instead walked stonily straight towards Eddy. Newt bowed stiffly, although it wasn’t necessary, but after all he was supposed to be demonstrating the proper method of approach. Eddy blinked in surprise, and then immediately bowed back. Newt grinned at his old friend, swinged his legs up onto Eddy’s rather bony, but comfortable back, and nudged his sides with his heels.

Eddy walked forward a few steps and then spread his wings and took off. Newt could hear Patrick’s admiring whoops and the astonished exclamations of the Ravenclaws as he soared into the air. It had been over four months since he had last flown Eddy during Christmas vacation, and he was determined to enjoy the ride.

For a few moments, he let the wind wash over him, and forgot himself. This is where I belong, he thought. The familiar feel of the Hippogriff’s feathers seemed to put everything in perspective. It reminded him of home, where he and his mother would roam the marshes with Eddy, using his natural ability to sniff out danger as a warning signal, in case anything really dangerous was out there. Newt often roamed the forests himself with Eddy by his side, and the Hippogriff had saved his life more times than he could count.

Newt continued to relax and enjoy the ride when suddenly, instinctively, he realised that something was wrong. Eddy was squirming a bit under his legs, and Newt’s eyes shot open. And he gasped.

Eddy was heading straight for the Forbidden Forest.

It was the fact that Eddy was heading anywhere it’s direction that got Newt terribly worried. Something was wrong. Although some Hippogriffs might be naturally curious when they sniffed out something interesting, Eddy was extremely shy. The merest whiff of any harmful environment would send him galloping in the other direction. But now he was flying into the Forbidden Forest?

Newt might have snuck into the Forest many times, but he had always stayed within the outskirts. He was no fool. The Forest contained creatures that fascinated him, but he knew his limits. If Eddy didn’t change direction that very instant, they would be within the very heart of the Forest, and God knew what would happen then.

"Eddy, Eddy boy, come on now, let’s go the other way… Eddy, the other way… Eddy no!" Newt cried out in frustration as his pet continued to fly blearily towards the trees. Eddy’s eyes were unfocused, and his wings were flapping slowly. He almost looked like he was going to fall asleep in mid-flight.

"Turn around!" Newt shouted and dug his heels hard into Eddy’s sides. Eddy’s eyes suddenly flew open, and he jerked from side to side. "Whoa!" cried Newt, desperately clinging on to the Hippogriff’s neck. He could hear shouts, but they seemed unreal, as if from miles away.

"Eddy! Stop it!" cried Newt. But this only seemed to frighten the animal more, and with one violent jerk, he threw Newt off his back.

Newt desperately clutched at the Hippogriff’s feathers, but it was too late.

He was falling.

//
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