Hagrid and Charlie
A few hours later, Harry was practicing the spell he had learned most recently. He swished his wand through the proscribed pattern, flicked it twice to the correct points, and jabbed at the wooden sphere resting on the table. “Crystefferium!” The wooden sphere wobbled for a moment, then the color began to fade, and within a few seconds he could see straight through it. He grinned – he had done it!
“Oh, well done,” he heard a high, fluting voice say from behind him. Harry turned and saw Professor Flitwick, with Percy, Ron, and the twins in tow. “You began learning that one today, yes?” Harry nodded. “Well, I commend you on a very well done spell. But it is actually very late. I suggest that you adjourn to your dorm room.
Harry blinked. Surely it couldn’t be that late. But when he glanced at the large grandfather clocks which flanked the fireplace, he saw that it was nearly midnight. “Yeah, I probably should,” he agreed as the three older Weasleys began to head upstairs and Flitwick went to his own rooms. “Hey, Ron, how’d it go?”
Ron helped Harry gather up his books as he told about Charlie’s visit. “The professor took us down to Hagrid’s hut, because Charlie was there,” he said, “Charlie had told the Headmaster that he wanted to talk to his favorite teachers, and of course Hagrid is closer to the gate than anywhere else. He had already worked out the egg thing by the time we got there, I think. He talked to all of us privately – I don’t know what he talked to the others about, but Percy looked a little sick at the end of his, and Fred and George were kind of sad afterwards. Anyway, he told me and Ginny that he would sneak back down to Hagrid’s in a few hours and put the egg and hot cauldron in a stasis spell of some sort, and then shrink them so he could hide them in his bag when he left. Pretty simple, right?”
“Yeah, it makes sense,” Harry agreed. “So I guess he’s leaving tomorrow morning?”
Ron nodded. “Yeah, after breakfast.”
Harry sighed in relief as they climbed the stairs. “Oh, good. The dragon will be away this time tomorrow.”
Ron paused at the entrance to their dorm. “Hey… you’ve got that invisibility cloak, right?”
“So why don’t you go sneak down to Hagrid’s and meet Charlie? I’m sure he’d love it.”
Harry considered this for a moment. “Alright,” he agreed. “I’m not tired anyway.”
Harry slipped out of the Common Room wrapped in the Cloak, completely invisible. As the Fat Lady swung shut she looked around blearily, then went right back to sleep.
Harry, meanwhile, climbed two staircases to get to the seventh floor, then paced in front of the wall to make a chute down to the Great Hall. He snuck by Mrs. Norris and trekked down the grounds towards Hagrid’s hut.
As he approached, he saw a tall, thin figure shortly in front of him. As the figure passed through a patch of moonlight, Harry saw that its hair was bright red. It must be Charlie, he thought – that’s Weasley red, after all.
Harry followed Charlie down to the hut, and darted in the door as Hagrid swung it open. Charlie came in a moment later, and Hagrid closed the door immediately.
“Where’s the dragon?” Charlie asked, drawing his wand. Hagrid pointed to the cauldron on the fire, and Charlie flicked his wand towards it. A transparent blue bubble formed around the cauldron, and everything within it slowed to a stop. Tongues of fire licking at the iron halted, becoming almost like a glass statue, and the bubbling liquid within froze like plastic. Charlie swished his wand over the bubble for a few moments, then nodded in satisfaction. “What are you bathing the egg in?”
“It’s three parts water, two parts honey, one part Calming draught,” Hagrid said, watching as Charlie began to shrink the bubble and its contents. “I’m pretty sure that the Calming draught will soak through the egg and keep the beastie, well, calm. And the honey is to keep it thick, of course.”
“Of course,” Charlie agreed. “That’s actually a really good idea – do you mind if I steal it for the sanctuary? Assuming that it does work, of course.”
“Not at all,” Hagrid boomed. “I’m happy to be of help. I just wish…” he sighed. “I wish that I could go with him. But Dumbledore needs me, and no-one else knows how to get past Chnoudotos… “
“Oh, is the big furball finally guarding something?”
Hagrid nodded. “Dumbledore set him up in the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side. He’s guarding a whole series of rooms set up to protect… I really shouldn’t say.”
“Well, whatever it is well protected, with a Cerberus on guard,” Charlie said, dropping the blue bubble, now the size of a baseball, into his bag. “As long as they don’t know about playing music for him, anyway.”
Hagrid snorted. “Sure, he goes right to sleep, but that’s just him. All Cerberi have a unique trigger, you know that.”
“Chnoudotos is almost 50 years old, though. I’m sure I’m not the only person who you told, and they could have told other people.”
Hagrid waved a hand dismissively. “You, Dumbledore, and no-one else. Well, one, but he was on his way to Albania, so…”
“Some fellow I met in the Hog’s Head a few weeks ago. He was the one who gave me the egg. He said that he was leaving and needed someone to do something with the egg, since he couldn’t exactly take it as a carryon in the Floo.”
“What did he look like?” Charlie asked curiously.
“I’m not sure. He had his hood up, so I couldn’t tell much. He’s out of the country by now, so it doesn’t really matter.”
“Maybe you should tell Dumbledore anyway.”
“You might be right there. I’ll tell him tomorrow morning.”
Harry gaped, under the Cloak. Someone knew how to get past the Cerberus! It had to have been Adams. He knew how to get through the corridor, and now must be only waiting for a chance…
Over the next several months, Harry and his friends kept a close watch on Adams. He seemed not to have change his routine at all – he passed by the 3rd floor corridor occasionally, but never paused, always continuing on his way. Hermione insisted on watching Professor Snape too, but he barely left the dungeons.
Neville’s free time shrunk even more as he continued to work with Professor Sprout. He occasionally brought cuttings of the plants he was being shown up to the tower, but these were always dangerous. Before long his bed was surrounded by Venomous Tentaculas, bubotubers, and knotgrass. He managed to keep up with his homework, but only with lots of help from Hermione.
Harry won all of his Quidditch matches handily. His only real competition, surprising Ron, was from Hufflepuff – their Seeker last year had been mediocre, but this year they had recruited a fourth-year named Cedric Diggory. Diggory was surprisingly fast and nimble for his size, and actually spotted the Snitch before Harry could – only the superior speed of his Cruinneas enabled Harry to snatch the golden sphere before the older Hufflepuff could.
Draco never apologized for being glad that Harry and Ron had argued, but eventually that relationship returned to normal. Draco and Harry began to speak once more, and Harry continued to learn about the Wizarding world.
Harry occasionally received letters from Remus. He was always glad when Fawkes burst into flames and dropped a small package into Dumbledore’s hands, because it invariably meant that a letter would be passed on to him the next morning. They were never as long as he’d like – only a few lines – but they still served as a reminder that someone cared.
A few weeks before exams, Adams still hadn’t gone for the Draughts, and Harry was beginning to wonder if Dumbledore had been right and Adams could be trusted.
Harry was revising a Charms essay with Ron, when Fred and George swung by. They were muttering to each other about something, and Harry didn’t pay them any attention until he heard them say “Adams” and “third floor.”
Harry instantly turned to face them. “What was that?” he asked, pulse racing.
The twins looked at him, confused. “We were just wondering why Adams is in the forbidden corridor,” one of them said.
“We can’t tell you how we know,” said the other, “but that's where he is.”
Ron and Harry stood. “We’ve got to go.” Ron said. “Pack up our stuff, will you?”
“Which greenhouse is Neville in today?”
“Four. Ginny and Hermione are in the library, right?”
“Yup. I’ll get Neville, you get the girls and meet me at the entrance.”