More allegiance shifts...for the common good and for the better. Gwen starts turning her plan into action, but how will she deal with this 'giant' undertaking? "Sweet Mary...Mother of Pearl!"
Giant steps and just plain giants
Giant steps and just plain giants
"How are you all doing with your spell work?" Tonks asked, as she sat, cross-legged on the teacher's desk, facing the D.A. She had just returned, after two months, from London and her job at the Ministry.
"We're meeting at every opportunity and we've been working on casting our spells without saying the incantations aloud. No use using the 'Disillusionment' charm if you're going to shout out the spell; kind of spoils the element of surprise," Harry informed her, with a grin and a wink.
"Just a bit," Tonks laughed. "And how's targeting?"
"We've discovered who is dead on, every time, and who are just down right deadly, speed wise. So, we've made up two teams: one for fighting the Inferi with whatever 'secret ammo' Fred and George have concocted and a team for fighting the Death Eater invasion. We've also found out who can cast a 'Patronus' so there will be a third group in case the Dementors also show up. Otherwise, they will join the other two groups as re-enforcements."
The door of the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom opened and Fred and George entered, each carrying a box.
"Speak of the devils," smiled Tonks, who hopped off of the desk to make space for the delivery.
"Hey! We were just talking about you two," called Ron.
"Nothing good, I'm assuming," replied George as he walked toward the front of the classroom.
"Actually...we were wondering..." But Ron stopped in mid-sentence when Draco and then Theo entered, both carrying a box, followed by Dumbledore, who closed the door. "What's he..."sputtered Ron, but stopped when Hermione grabbed his arm and shook her head.
"Good evening everyone." The Headmaster looked around, smiling. "Do you mind if we join you?"
"Sorry I'm late," added Draco, "but something came up. You all know Theo."
"Yeah, we do...so to what do we owe the honor of your presence, Nott?" Neville stepped in front of Theo and took the box from him, setting it down on the desk and then turning to face the obviously nervous member of Slytherin House.
"I've...well, I've decided to follow Draco's example...I'm not going to join ...V...Vol...Voldemort. My old man may be crazy enough to do what his Master orders, but not me. I'd rather stay here at Hogwarts...and help you all...if I can...I ...well...that is, if you'll let me....I ..." Theo stumbled to a halt.
"Why the sudden change of heart?" Hannah Abbott asked, walking over to Theo and gazing at him steadily.
Theo gulped, taking a step back, looking around.
"My...my Mum wrote...it seems Father is determined to take me to be marked....over Spring holiday and join the Death Eaters. I'd wind up fighting against you all and I don't want to do that...I won't do that."
"Was your Father involved in the attack at St. Mungo's?" Neville asked quietly.
Theo turned to face him, and nodded. "Yes. I'm sorry, Longbottom."
"Why? You didn't do it, your father did." Neville shook his head. "Draco is not being held responsible for his father or his insane auntie's activities, so don't worry on that score, mate."
"I just have one question for you."
"When the Death Eaters attack here at Hogwarts, can you...will you, be able to face your own father and do what needs to be done?"
"Kill him?" Theo looked pale.
"No, but stop him."
"Oh..." Theo furrowed his brow and then looked Neville in the eye. "Yes."
Neville stood there, gaze locked with Theo's, for a long moment, and then he put out his hand.
"Welcome to the D.A., Theo."
"Thanks, Long...I mean...Neville."
"The Sorting Hat seems to have gotten it right, once again; all of the Houses, working together for Hogwarts," Dumbledore reflected as he conjured a wing chair and lowered himself onto the plump cushions.
"What about the rest of Slytherin House?" Justin asked.
Theo took a deep breath. "I know I really shouldn't speak for all of them, but I think Blaise, Daphne and Silvia would join, if they were asked. Millie and Tracie...I doubt it; as they're too close to Gregory and Vincent. I don't know about any of the younger ones. Maybe a couple of the 6th years," he added, shrugging.
"Tykey!" Dumbledore called.
"Yes, Headmaster?" The house elf appeared at his elbow.
"Would you be so kind as to locate Mr. Zabini, Miss Greengrass and Miss Goodnite and ask them to join us? As unobtrusively as possible, please."
"Yes, sir. Right away, sir."
Blaise and Daphne jumped apart and looked around guiltily.
"Oh, it's Tykey," Daphne sighed, stepping back into Blaise's embrace.
"What do you want?" growled Blaise.
"Stop being mean, Blaise!" Daphne slapped his arm and then looking down, raised an eyebrow and tilted her head. "What's up, Tykey?"
"Mr. Blaise, sir, Miss Daphne, Professor Dumbledore is sending me to find you and Miss Silvia. You is both to go to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, right away, Miss."
"I is not sure, Miss, but Mr. Theo and Mr. Draco are there, Miss. And the D.A., too, Miss."
Blaise and Daphne looked at each other and then back at the house elf, who smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
"Thank you, Tykey. We'd better get going, then. Oh, Silvia is in the library, I think, Tykey."
"Yes, Miss. I is going there now, Miss."
"What do you suppose is going on?" Daphne wondered aloud.
"Only one way to find out."
Blaise took Daphne's hand and they started up the stairs.
Blaise and Daphne met Silvia outside of the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.
"What's this all about?" Silvia asked, as she approached them.
The other two just shrugged. The door was opened by Justin Finch-Fletchley.
"Come in," he smiled, standing aside, holding the door.
Entering the classroom, they saw the D.A. seated around the room, while Draco and Theo were standing with Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbott next to the teacher's desk. The Headmaster waved them forward.
"Ah," said Draco, grinning. "Here are the rest of the Slytherin House D.A. candidates."
"What?" Blaise stopped, wide eyed, looking between Draco and Theo.
"You'd let us join?" Silvia asked, walking over to Theo. She took his hand and looked around at the assembled group.
"That depends on your reasons for wanting to help," Neville explained.
"I'm terrified of the Dark Lord," whispered Daphne. "I'm afraid that being in Slytherin won't necessarily save me, or my family. Look what happened to Pansy...sorry Draco."
Draco nodded and gave her a small smile.
"Anyway, I think he's insane...totally out of reach with reality...or both. I just don't like the thought of him being in charge of our world." Daphne finished, and then looked over at Silvia.
"What can we do to help you fight Vol...Voldemort?" asked Silvia with a determined tone.
"If it's easier, call him Tom; that's his real name, after all.../and,/ it's a bit of a giggle, knowing it would piss him off if he knew we were calling him that," Neville leaned over and suggested quietly, smiling encouragingly.
"Thanks...Neville, I think I just might do that." Silvia smiled back.
"Draco says you three have been having second thoughts about the whole Death Eater/ Dark Lord follower thing, so...as an alternative, we're inviting you to join the D.A., defend Hogwarts and help Harry defeat old Tom when he shows up," Neville told them.
"He's coming here?" gasped Daphne.
"We believe so, probably after Spring holiday," the Headmaster informed them. "Although we are, as I speak, readying our defenses; to be prepared for the invasion, whenever it happens."
"Ok. What can we do?" Blaise looked around. "We've been practicing our dueling, you know."
"Are you all absolutely sure about this?" Harry spoke for the first time. "There's no changing your mind once you make your decision."
"I'm sure," Daphne said, after taking a deep breath.
"Me, too," agreed Silvia, turning to Blaise.
"Right...if we don't make a stand, who will? Count me in, too."
"I need to borrow your /Invisibility Cloak/."
"My...dare I ask why?" Anna turned and looked at Gwen.
"I need to consult with Hagrid and I have to get to his house unseen. Can I borrow it? Please?"
"Consult? About what?"
"I thought as much. Well, he's the person to talk to. I understand his half-brother, Grawp, is living in the Forbidden Forest. You'll see one up close and personal, if I know Hagrid."
"I don't know about /that/, but working out a way of eliminating the giants from the invasion equation has become my mission, so to speak."
"I've already sent Hagrid an owl and he's keen to help with my idea."
"Ok, well, when do you need it?"
"Why am I not surprised? '/Accio Invisibility Cloak/'." Anna flicked her wand, and then held out her hand as the gossamer garment drifted down the stairs. "Are you going to give me any clues?" Anna asked, with a tilt of her head, as she handed the shimmering cloak to Gwen.
"Tranquilizers...shoot them full of joy juice and it'll be snore city. BUT, I need to calculate size, weight, speed, agility and, most importantly, vulnerable spots.
"Where are you planning to get a tranquilizer gun?"
"Your targeting bow?"
"Yep! I'm going to dust it off and put my old skills to good use."
"Brilliant! How are you going to get close enough, though?"
"Ride on Buckbeak, if he'll help, broomstick, if he's not interested."
"You can't ride a broom!"
"But Draco can, and I've already owled him and he's keen on the idea, so there!"
"I see your mind's been working overtime on this."
"It was part of my dream/nightmare. Buckbeak swooped down and plucked me out of harm's way and then the thought that the giants were like so many rampaging elephants and BINGO! One thought led to another and I had 'a plan'!" Gwen explained, looking smug.
"IF it works. What do you plan to use for syringes?"
"AH! That will be a little trickier. I dated a guy at university...his brother worked at the zoo in Hyde Park...we got a 'back stairs tour' and I saw them dart a rhino, for medical reasons and it stuck in my brain. I'll get the syringes from him!" Gwen concluded, brightly.
"Oh, you intend to just waltz in, 'Hi, remember me? Could you spare a couple of extra large syringes...I'm going giant hunting...'." Anna stood, arms crossed, eye brow raised in question.
"Yeah, HE!HE!HE! it's/ giant season/."
"What in the world are you two on about?" Severus asked, as he descended the stairs. "And why did your Invisibility Cloak suddenly decide to tour the house?" he continued, turning to Anna.
"I need to sneak a trip to Hagrid's to learn a few things about giants." Gwen piped up, waving the magical garment for Severus to see.
Severus' eyebrow shot up and he opened his mouth to question her, but Anna held up her hand.
"Already asked; will tell you all about it over a cup of tea, dear."
"I see, well, I'm assuming this is an extension of your 'idea' that was mentioned the other morning?"
"Right!" Gwen replied, brightly.
Severus shook his head.
"In that case, I shall hold my inquiries until the 'discussion' phase of your plan is announced."
"He learns fast, doesn't he?" Gwen turned to Anna with a mischievous grin.
"Quite." Anna laughed at the 'offended' look on Severus' face.
"Humph!" Severus crossed his arms.
"Righto; I better hurry or I'll be late," said Gwen as she donned the Invisibility Cloak. / "When I get back, it'll be round table time. And /you/, step-daddy by marriage, are going to be in on that /little brainstorming session in a big way, so don't wander off."
Grinning cheekily, Gwen knocked on the oak door that led to Hogwarts. Cyrus' little peephole popped open.
"Hi, Cyrus. I need to go through."
"Of course, my dear. Password?"
"Splendid. Have a good visit," he replied as the latch clicked and Gwen stepped through the door and into the Headmaster's office.
"I don't think Gwen realizes how serious and deadly a situation she's getting into." Severus looked at Anna, frowning.
"Oh, she knows it's serious; she just doesn't realize how truly dangerous giants can be. On the other hand, I met some of her 'boyfriends' when she was at university... I think she can handle a giant. It should be interesting, no matter who or what she decides to target."
"Merlin have pity on the giants." Severus shook his head.
"Well, she'd determined to be a part of the Hogwarts defense team. However, she's smart enough to know there's no way for her to fight magic, but/, against brute strength and stupidity, she has a good chance. /And she's doing it from a Muggle point of view, which adds an element of surprise that could be just /the edge she needs. And, as she said, she /will come to you for help."
"Yes, she'll use any and all of her resources that she can think of; pulling in favors and generally nailing all of the details, leaving nothing to chance. How do you think I managed to get Cissa moved and everything set up here, last year. Gwen did the majority of the work, with help from Winky. It's her new 'project', since she's not been able to keep up with the work on the 'Wolfsbane Serum'. Now she's got a purpose, a focus...we just have to aim her in a safe direction."
"Safe for whom?" Severus looked slightly taken aback.
"Don't be mean!"
"I thought you were the 'Diva of Deviousness', but I stand corrected." He smiled and shook his head. "If it wasn't all so bloody serious, this coming battle with the Death Eaters would be almost amusing to watch. Reminds me of your defense of Briarwood, only more so."
"Don't you go wasting any pity on those fools!"
"Oh, I'm not, by any means, I assure you. I'm just taking the time to think of what's going to happen and how totally unprepared the Death Eaters will be against your and Gwen's Muggle influences on everyone's plans." Severus replied, and then turned serious. "Do you think the D.A. is ready?"
"Is anyone ever ready for war?"
"Don't avoid the question."
"I think so...hope so. Mad-eye, Remus and Tonks have been doing a wonderful job. I just wish I could work with them, help them finalize their plans. Double check with a fresh eye, so to speak."
"Why don't you? Time is of the essence; use the Passage Door and your Invisibility/ //Cape/ and meet with them behind closed doors; the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom or Room of Requirement."
Anna looked up at Severus and a smile spread across her face.
"I think I will...just to double check and catch up on their progress. Talk to Mad-eye, Remus and Tonks."
"And Filius Flitwick."
"Right. I could tell, when we talked at Christmas, that he's itching for a little action. No pun intended."
"He is a formidable opponent, when it comes to hexes and spells."
"Perhaps he's come up with some new ones, or modifications, just for this occasion."
"Oh, dear, I seem to have started something; you have that 'mission' look in /you/r eyes, too, my dear."
"But, Severus, my darling, you're as much a part of this 'mission' as anyone! A secret part, for now, but a big part, none the less."
Anna walked up to her husband and wrapped her arms around his waist. He rolled his eyes and then bent to kiss her, but he pulled back suddenly and looked at her quizzically.
"What?" asked Anna.
"Did you say something about a cup of tea?" Disengaging himself from her arms, he turned and started for the kitchen. "Sounds like just the ticket!"
"Come back here!"
"No, no...tea first, snog later!"
Hagrid was standing outside his hut, cleaning his gardening tools, when he heard footfalls crunching on the gravel path. Glancing up the path, he didn't see anyone, but knew who it must be.
"Morning, Dr. Jones."
Whipping off Anna's Invisibiliity/ Cloak/, Gwen walked up and gave Hagrid a hug.
"Call me Gwen, Hagrid. Somebody says 'Dr. Jones', I still look around for my Dad."
"Alrigh' then, Gwen."
"Should have walked on the grass and not the gravel, huh?"
"Yeah, bit crunchy, them stones," laughed Hagrid. "Well, 'ya ready to meet yer first giant?"
"As I'll ever be; lead the way!"
As they approached the base of a nearby mountain, some fifteen minutes walk into the Forbidden Forest, Hagrid looked back over his shoulder at the Muggle woman marching determinedly along behind him.
"Are 'ya sure 'bout this, now, Gwen?"
"Yes, Hagrid, I really do need to see and meet Grawp; I have to size him up and get an idea of his physical appearance, and where the best place to inject a giant might be."
"They be thick hided, giants, so, maybe in the neck, back of the ear?" suggested Hagrid.
"Or the back of their thighs, if I could get a good shot. We'll see."
"Now, Gwen, 'ya know Grawp ain't met many people...just Harry and Hermione, come to that, but," he continued, "he knows 'bout Hogwarts; knows I live and work there, and all, but I want 'ya to stay close by me, understand? That is, until I can tell him yer a friend."
"Ok, I'll let you do the introductions, while I observe."
'Right, well, we're 'bout there, just around this bit 'o bru...."
With a crashing of branches, Hagrid flew off of the path, a huge shape tumbling around on the ground with him.
"Grawp! Gerroff, 'ya daft bugger!"
"HAGGER! HAGGER! GRAWP 'PRIZ HAGGER!"
The giant sat back on his haunches and laughed, shaking the surrounding trees. Gwen had flattened herself against a big pine tree during this impromptu wrestling match/greeting and was totally gob-smacked by the sheer size of Hagrid's 'kid' brother. Alright, half/-brother, although there was nothing /half about Grawp; double...quadruple, even, but half...no.
"Got me good, didin 'ya, Grawp?'
Grawp nodded, chuckling.
Hagrid picked himself up and swung around, looking for Gwen.
"Gwen? Alright there?"
She nodded, still unable to find her tongue. Grawp followed Hagrid's gaze and his eyes opened at the sight of Gwen standing on the path. Swallowing hard, she gasped, "Fine, fine, Hagrid...Hello, Grawp."
Grawp leaned over, squinting at Gwen. Then he straightened up to his full 18 foot height and pointing at her, turned to Hagrid
He leaned down and took another look.
"NO HERMY! WHERE HERMY? WHO 'DAT, HAGGER?"
Gwen, to her credit, didn't turn and run behind the tree. Hagrid walked over to stand next to Gwen.
"Grawp, Hermione's up at the school. /This/," Hagrid pointed to Gwen, "is another friend of mine. Her name is Gwen."
"GEN?" Grawp seemed to be thinking this over, then he nodded. "GEN!"
Gwen smiled and waved. "Hi, Grawp."
Grawp stood, perplexed for a moment, and then he gave a crooked smile and waved his hand.
Gwen walked over to the mountainous pile of flesh and bones that was watching her, now, with great interest.
"I want to talk to you Grawp, but could you please sit down, you're very tall, you know, and I can't see you properly."
Grawp glanced at Hagrid, who nodded encouragingly. Grawp seemed to consider Gwen's suggestion and then WHOMP!, sat down and put his legs straight out in front of him.
"Good Grawp. Thank you."
Grawp cocked his head and stared at Gwen, then smiled again.
"Grawp," said Hagrid, stepping into Grawp's field of vision, to get his attention off of Gwen for a moment. "We, that is, my friends and I, will be needin' yer help."
"GRAWP HELP HAGGER...DO WHAT?"
"Well, ah, it's like this, see, ah." Hagrid hesitated and then turned to Gwen. "How am I gonna tell 'im about...'ya know... the other ones coming here?"
"Let me try."
Gwen walked over to Grawp and pulled on his pant leg.
"Grawp, can I sit on your leg and talk to you?"
Grawp started to reach for Gwen but she held up her hand and then pointed.
"Put your hand right here, Grawp, by your knee."
He blinked, and then put his hand, palm up, on the ground by his leg.
"Good boy, Grawp! Now, don't move your hand, Ok?" Gwen smiled up at him.
He nodded and watched as she stepped up onto his palm and walked over to his leg, scrambling up, settling herself as if she were riding on a draft horse.
"There! Now we can talk." She patted his leg and smiled at him.
Hagrid came over and sat on a fallen tree trunk, close enough to catch Gwen if she fell, without looking too anxious about her precarious perch.
"Grawp, Hagrid says you are a very good giant."
Grawp nodded his head, grinning.
"And you like living here, near Hagrid."
Another enthusiastic nod.
"Well. I think you are a very good giant, too and I like you, Grawp. I also know Hagrid loves you, because you're his little brother."
Grawp considered this for a long minute.
"GRAWP LOVE HAGGER. GRAWP LIKE HERMY AND GRAWP LIKE GEN." He nodded decisively, and then smiled. "GRAWP LIKE FOREST AND CAVE." He pointed toward the nearby mountain.
"You want to stay here, don't you?"
"STAY!" More affirmative nodding ensued.
"Grawp, do you remember the giants where you were living before Hagrid brought you here to Hogwarts?"
Grawp frowned, nodding slowly, this time.
"BAD GIANTS...HIT GRAWP...HURT GRAWP...MEAN TO GRAWP."
"I know," Gwen patted his leg. "And there are bad people, too Grawp; Wizards who don't like Hogwarts and the students, like...Hermione and Harry and the teachers and...Hagrid." She watched closely as he absorbed this information. She could see he was thinking hard and getting a little upset.
"HURT HAGRID? HURT HERMY?"
"Yes, Grawp, they are going to try."
He frowned and she saw his temper rising in the clenching of his jaw.
"GRAWP!" she yelled, feeling him starting to shift his position, preparing to stand up. Hagrid did jump up, prepared to catch her if Grawp shifted suddenly. "That's why I'm here, to ask you to help us stop them!"
He looked down at the tiny woman sitting on his leg and his eyes opened wide.
"/Yes/, Grawp! You and Hagrid can help us stop them. Will you sit still and listen to me?"
Grawp visibly settled down and concentrated on Gwen.
"Good Grawp. Now, we know that some of those other giants are coming."
His eyebrows shot up but Gwen held up her hands.
"Grawp.../they/ don't know you are here. We can SURPRISE them. I saw how good you were at surprising Hagrid today, so you'll be really good when it comes to helping us surprise them, OK!?"
"GRAWP 'PRIZ BAD GIANTS! HELP HAGRID!"
"Tha's right, Grawp, yer going 'ta help me get them nasty old buggers that was mean to 'ya!"
"And Merlin help them giants," Hagrid said to Gwen, out of the side of his mouth.
She looked over at him and laughed.
"That's what I was just thinking! Now, does Grawp know about Buckbeak?"
"That went well, don't you think?" asked Gwen, as she and Hagrid approached his hut.
"I'll have to make sure he don't give us away, when everythin' starts happening, but I think he'll get it, alright. Having Arthur Weasley and another helper or two will make a big difference. Now, let me introduce 'ya to 'Beaky'," replied Hagrid, heading toward the back paddock, where Buckbeak, the hippogriff, was kept.
"What do I do?"
"Don't come up to 'im unless yer bowing to 'im, and don't lose eye contact. Stop and wait when yer about ten feet away. He'll let 'ya know if 'ya can come up to 'im; if he bows to 'ya. He's a good hippogriff, Beaky, so he'll be ok with 'yau being a Muggle and all."
"He would be able to tell?"
"Oh, sure, but as long as I'm there, he'll accept 'ya."
"Ok. If you say so."
They approached the wooden railings and Gwen had her first look at what she considered a truly 'magical' creature. Fawkes was, after all, just a large, beautiful bird, magical powers aside, and a giant was a giant, and Severus' Pigmy Puffskein was just a magical 'Tribble'. But THIS...this was different.
Standing in the middle of the paddock was a magnificent animal; the back half, for all intents and purposes, a horse's rear end but the front legs and head...and wings/...was an eagle, proportionate in size to the back end. Which meant Gwen was staring at the biggest, sharpest set of talons and curved beak she could imagine. But she /wasn't imagining this; with a nod of his head and stomp of rear hoof, he became /reality/!
"/Sweet/ Mary...Mother of Pearl!"
"Ta Da! This...is Buckbeak," said Hagrid, as he walked over to the Hippogriff and tossed him a snack of a dead ferret he'd plucked from a wooden box hanging on the railing.
"He's beautiful, Hagrid."
"Ya really think so, Gwen?"
"I really do, Hagrid."
"I wasn't sure exactly how 'ya react to 'im, seeing as how some of the students are scared to death of 'im, at first sight."
"Really? But they know these animals exist, why should they be afraid?"
"Well, some hippogriffs gets a bad reputation, 'ya see."
"AH, sounds like what happened with Draco and 'Beaky' in his third year, right?"
" 'Ya know 'bout, then?"
"Yes, I've heard a lot of what's been going on around here over the last few years, from Anna and Cissa and in letters from Remus."
"Shoulda known. Well, anyways, how about comin' over here and saying hello?"
Gwen bent forward slightly, bowing to the animal, who was now watching her, unblinkingly, as she approached. Stopping about three or four yards away, she bowed even deeper and waited. Buckbeak tilted his head and studied her, then slowly lowered his head and bent his leg to bow to her.
"Good, good; now come and pet him, Gwen." Hagrid was grinning and patting Buckbeak on the neck.
Gwen walked up to the huge beast and patted the feathers on the neck. Buckbeak lowered his head and Gwen scratched behind his 'ear' feathers, causing Buckbeak to trill in a low rumble, obviously enjoying the attention.
"You are beautiful, Buckbeak," she said to him, looking him straight in the eye. "I've heard all kinds of stories about how brave you are and how you've helped save people and been good friends to Harry, Hermione and Draco. And Sirius, too, of course."
Buckbeak nodded his head.
"I know this is being pushy of me, having just met you and all, but we need to ask for your help, in the near future. Would you be willing to carry Draco and myself on your back and fly us around the grounds. We need to get close to some giants that will be coming here, trying to get into the castle, but if you can get me close enough, I can stop them. Would you please think about it and let me know if you'd be willing to do something that dangerous. It's ok to say no, if you'd rather not; we can use a broomstick, but I think we'd stand a better chance with your help."
"Don't sugar coat it, Gwen, just tell 'im what 'ya want," Hagrid chuckled
"I know I'm being slightly rude and rushing this a bit, but we really don't know how much time we have and it's important to be ready," Gwen replied, tuning to Hagrid. "And you know it's true, too, don't you?"
"Yeah, I do." Hagrid nodded, agreeing.
Buckbeak looked from one human to the other and then nudged Gwen and nodded. He turned and held out one wing.
"What's he want, Hagrid?"
"He's just said yes and is inviting 'ya to go for a ride."
"You're joking? ME?"
"Here, let me lift 'ya on."
"Whoa! Oh, jeez, Hagrid, I don't know if I like this. I'd thought Draco would be with meeeeeeee!"
Buckbeak took off galloping the length of the paddock and then lifted into the air with powerful beats of his wings.
"Hold on tight, Gwen, but /don't pull out any 'o them feathers/!" Hagrid shouted to the fast disappearing forms.
"Oh ,my God, oh, my God!" Gwen had her arms around Buckbeak's neck but after a minute or two, she relaxed and tentatively sat up straighter. Looking around, she got her first long distance view of Hogwarts and the surrounding mountains and forests. The lake shimmered below her and she laughed out loud. She patted Buckbeak on the neck and scratched his 'ear' again.
"Good boy, Buckbeak. This is great! Is having Draco and me on your back going to be too much weight?"
Beaky shook his head, as if to say he thought it would no trouble at all.
"Well, if you don't mind, Draco and I would like to practice with you a bit and explain what we're going to be doing, ok?"
An affirmative shake of Beaky's head and then the hippogriff started a big banking turn, to head back to Hogwarts.
"Anna is going to be SO jealous! HE!HE!HE!"