Note: This is the sequel to "Pride of Ice". If you haven't read that, this fic prob'ly won't always make much sense due to flashbacks and shit. Ah, and... spoilers for the previous four "Harry Potter" books by J.K. Rowling.
Like "Pride of Ice", this is a Draco/Harry SLASH story. If you don't like "gay" fanfiction, don't bother to read this. For those of you who enjoyed PoI, I hope this fic doesn't disappoint you; I have big plans for this fic. ^_^
"The Dark Ring?" Hermione wrinkled up her nose in perplexion as the three friends walked across the lawn for Hagrid's monster class. "I've never heard of that before."
Harry sighed, but surprisingly, it was Ron who had an answer.
"I have," he said with a frown, scratching at his chin. "I think Percy mentioned it a year or so ago. All I know about it is that it's very dangerous and supposedly it was being guarded as well as the Sorcerer's Stone was. I think I heard him mention something about how You Know Who would want to get his claws on it, and that that couldn't be allowed to happen. Father told him to hush, though, so that's all I know."
"That's more than we knew before," Harry said, brushing his wayward bangs from his face. "That doesn't sound good; no wonder Professor Dumbledore was so upset."
"Do you think Hagrid would know anything about it?" Hermione asked. "He seemed to know a lot about the Sorcerer's Stone, remember?"
"He might," Harry agreed. "I just hope we can manage to weasel some information out of him."
"Leave that to Weasley," Draco's voice said from right behind Ron. Ron and Harry jumped.
"Leave him alone, Malfoy," Hermione said tiredly. Ron turned to scowl at the pale boy. Draco smirked at him and fell in beside Harry.
"I thought you were trying to make this, uh, relationship a secret," Hermione pointed out. "You walking by him doesn't really help."
Draco sneered and drapped an arm around her shoulders. "Maybe they'll think I'm trying to pick up you."
Ron glared daggers at him, and Hermione shrugged his arm off. "Taken," she quipped, and moved closer to Ron. Harry rolled his eyes.
"Jealous, Potter?" Draco teased.
"Harry," his lover corrected automatically.
They reached Harry's hut and Draco split off to join a band of Slytherins. Harry and his friends edged closer to Hagrid, who was busy opening a padlock on a sturdy looking box.
"Hey, Hagrid, can we talk to you for a second after class?" Ron asked casually.
"Sure thing, Ron," Hagrid said, beaming up at them. He tucked his keys into his pocket and rose, towering over them. "Don't get too close t' this box, now."
The three of them hastily backed away as the box shook agressively.
Hagrid turned to face his class, big hands clasped behind his back. "There's a pile o' work gloves over there- I want you all t' put them on. Hurry, now, ain't got all day."
There was a small confusion for a few minutes as all the students rooted through the gloves, matching right handed ones with left handed ones, then they grouped around their teacher again, eyeing the rattling cages anxiously.
Hagrid pulled on his own pair of oversized, thick gloves, and bent over the cage, opening the door a crack and reaching inside. He seized something and drew it out, quickly shutting the door behind it. He held up the squirming, screeching creature for all to see.
"This 'ere's a Pigmy Wholloper. See th' bony knot at the end of 'is tail? 'E uses it as a weapon- stuns 'is prey. They's got nasty little claws and sharp teeth; that's why you got the gloves. The females is meaner 'n' the males. You can't tame 'em, you can't be friendly with 'em or nothin'. This 'un's a male, see. These ones ain't so bad. All y'gotta do to calm 'em is give 'em a little pet on their nose, an' they get all calm-like. Watch me do it." He stroked the wriggling lizard-like creature's snout gently with one blunt finger, and the Wholloper immediately went limp in his grasp, eyes sliding half-shut in pleasure. It gave a low hiss of encouragement, and Hagrid continued to stroke it as he addressed his class. "Some say y'can tame 'em- th' males, that is. Don't make good pets, tho. They likes t' chew on the furniture an' chase the dog. Always hungry, too."
"I bet he's speaking from personal experience," Ron muttered to Harry.
Harry grinned. Good old Hagrid, always wanting to baby every monster he ran across.
Joseph and Ginger had made their way over to Harry and his friends.
"If that's a pigmy, I'd hate to see the real one," Joseph whispered.
Harry nodded in agreement. The two foot-long lizard in Hagrid's big hand looked as if rocks would simply bounce off his hard hide, and the great bulb tip of his tail was almost as big as Harry's fist. It looked strong and quick. Needle-like, gleaming white teeth flashed whenever the Wholloper hissed, and Harry shuddered at the thought of those teeth sinking into his flesh.
"Pigmy indeed," Ginger said huffily. "That thing could prob'ly drag me around the lawn."
"Everyone get in groups, an' I'll give each group a Wholloper," Hagrid was saying. "Not enough for everyone, see. Pass it around your group, try calmin' it. Remember- pet 'is nose."
"I guess we'd better sit," Hermione said, "or Ginger could be right. I don't feel like chasing after a big lizard- or being dragged by one for that matter."
The five friends seated themselves on the grass, and waited while Hagrid handed out the struggling Pigmy Whollopers to the nervous groups.
Hagrid finally got to them, and deposited the spitting, wriggling creature into Ron's lap. Ron jumped, startled, and the lizard tried to dart away.
Ginger reached out quickly and snatched it up, gasping. "It's strong!" She quickly began to stroke its nose. Immediately it relaxed in her grip, hissing pleasurably. She continued to pet it, and it flopped against her shoulder, its tongue snaking in and out against her neck. She giggled nervously. "That tickles!"
Joseph laughed at her. "Hey, it likes you."
The Wholloper sniffed curiously at Ginger's golden hair, then suddenly twisted out of her grasp and wrapped itself over her shoulders, nuzzling at her hair energetically. Ginger yelped, and reached up hastily to stroke its neck. "Just don't bite me," she warned, only half joking.
"Looks like you've got yourself a new friend, Ginger," Hermione teased.
Ginger giggled again and carefully unwrapped the Wholloper from her neck, handing it to Joseph. They passed it around, all of them stroking its nose, but it seemed to like Ginger best for some reason, entranced by her hair. As soon as everyone was finished with it, it promptly crawled into the startled girl's lap, begging for more pettings. "He's kinda cute, actually," Ginger said. "Aren't you, Gecky?"
"Gecky?" Ron repeated, raising his eyebrows.
Ginger stuck her tongue out at him.
Joseph leaned back on his hands, smiling at the sight, then suddenly stared around quizzically. "Hey, you guys feel that?"
They looked at him curiously, then stared blankly when he stretched out on the ground, ear to the grass. "Shoosh. Some kinda drumming.. like..."
"Look out!" someone shouted.
Booming thuds- the unmistakable sound of drumming hooves -broke the calm afternoon atmosphere, and students leapt clear with cries of surprise at the small party that went thundering past, leaping almost carelessly over their heads. Whollopers scattered everywhere, screeching.
"Centaurs," Hermione gasped, seizing Ron's arm and gaping.
Harry stared, bowled over by the wind of one that had leapt over him.
They were Centaurs-- five of them, galloping towards the school and ignoring everyone, not bothering to divert their course. They simply jumped over the heads or ducked backs of anyone that didn't get out of their way fast enough.
"Isn't that Firenze?" Ron demanded, pointing at one of them.
"I didn't see," Harry said, accepting the hand that came into his field of vision and hauled him to his feet. It was Draco, looking grim. "Draco-"
"This can't be good," Draco said shortly, looking towards the centaurs. "I thought the things in the Forest never come out."
"It's an invasion," one girl was wailing. Hagrid was trying to calm his frightened class.
"Right, five unarmed horses are going to overrun the school," Draco sneered. "Idiots."
"Let's check it out," Joseph said, and the six of them ran towards the school, ignoring Hagrid's shout. The Wholloper that they had been petting bounded after them and leapt onto Ginger's back, scrambling up to wrap itself around her shoulders again. She shrieked in surprise, doing a little dance in an attempt to dislodge it.
"Come ON, Ginger," Joseph called over his shoulder. "Don't irritate that thing- it might bite!"
Ginger ran to catch up, muttering to herself as she reached up hastily to stroke the hissing monster's snout. "Dumb lizard. Hagrid's going to think I'm trying to steal you. You bite me and I'll Whollop you, you got it?"
The centaurs had stopped at the school's front doors and were prancing there impatiently. Firenze was there- he was ordering the nearest, quaking student to fetch Dumbledore AT ONCE.
The boy was too terrified to move, and Firenze was getting impatient. "We must see Professor Dumbledore," he shouted in a booming voice for all to here. "Fetch him!!"
Professor Snape came striding from the entrance, his face tight. "What do you think you're doing here?" he demanded angrily, but Harry noticed he kept out of range of the creature's heavy hooves. Harry and his friends edged closer.
"Tell the Headmaster we must speak with him," Firenze repeated firmly. "Tell him it is about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
Snape's mouth twitched, but he turned and went back inside, his robes flapping behind him.
"Don't, Harry," Draco said, holding his lover back when he tried to go up to Firenze. "They don't look like they're here for a chat."
"You might irritate them, Harry," Hermione agreed.
Harry reluctantly conceded, and stood with his friends, watching the skittish stallions pace, looking alert and wary. Something was horribly wrong. Draco was right-- he had never heard of the creatures of the Forbidden Forest coming to the school before. And Firenze had mentioned Voldemort... could this have something to do with the Dark Ring?
A few moments later Dumbledore appeared, looking grave. "Firenze." He nodded to the assembled centaurs. "Come with me to the owlery and we shall talk." He turned to Snape, said something quietly to him that Harry didn't catch, then they all left for the owlery out back.
They looked at each other. "What do you suppose that was all about?" Ginger asked, still stroking "Gecky's" nose.
Harry reached for the Invisibility Cloak hidden in his robes, then dropped his hand reluctantly. Too risky. Someone might see him. Besides, sometimes Dumbledore seemed to know he was there, despite the Cloak.
"I guess we'll find out eventually," Hermione was musing, when a quiet voice interrupted,
"They bring news of the impending War."
They all jumped and whirled around. Iris stood behind them, watching them calmly with her strange golden eyes.
"You!" Ron sputtered.
Iris ignored him, looking directly at Harry. "Not long now, Harry Potter," she said softly. "Are you ready?"
Harry finally found his voice. "Ready for what?" he asked.
"To fight," the girl said simply.
Harry stared at her speechlessly. Fight? Did she mean...
"Voldemort," she said, as if reading his mind. Everyone but Harry and Draco flinched at the name.
Harry took in a quick breath. An unwanted memory came to mind...
Night, in the cemetary. Voldemort, inflicting horrible pain on him, taking his blood for the potion he believed would revive him. Those horrible red eyes...
Draco's fingers closed protectively over Harry's arm, and he glared at the slender girl. "Sod off," he suggested rudely.
Iris's gaze shifted, and the two of them locked eyes.
They stood there, staring each other down for what seemed an eternity. Finally Iris lowered her lashes demurely, as if she had found the answer to some previously uncertain question. "You will need him, Harry Potter," she murmured. "You cannot do this alone." Then she was gone, walking away from them as if nothing had happened.
There was a long, awkward silence.
"WELL," Ginger said huffily at last. "Where are the men in white coats when you need them?"
"Don't be crass, Ginger," Joseph sighed.
Then, because there was really nothing else they could do, they headed back for Hagrid's hut to return the happily hissing Wholloper.
------ Author's Notes: *ducks bricks, rotten eggs, and rocks* Ack! Sorry! X__X I know, I know.. I haven't updated this fic in sooooo long. T__T Forgive me~
I got so caught up in other fics that this one got shoved aside and forgotten. bleh.
So.. yeah. Hopefully will be writing the next chapter much faster. ^_^;;; sorry.
Also.. if Order of the Pheonix comes out before this fic is done... ^^; ..this fic has nothing to do with it. Since.. obviously, I planned this fic before the book came out. So of course some things may turn out different than Mrs. Rowling planned. o_O; yeh. bye. *runs away*