Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Blood's Sacrifice

Hippogriffs and Training

by ShadeDancer 1 review

Chapters 9 & 10

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure - Characters: Blaise Zabini, Harry - Warnings: [!!] [?] - Published: 2006-01-13 - Updated: 2006-01-14 - 3556 words

Disclaimer: Alas, Harry Potter, I do not own.

He had only discovered the secret of the journal the night before, but already Harry was frustrated with his inability to crack the password; it would help if he actually knew something about these Marauders to give him a clue about what the password might be. As it was, he had nothing to go on. He could probably ask one of the professor's, but he was hesitant to do so in case they wondered why he was asking; for some reason he didn't want to let anyone know about the journal yet, he felt as if it was meant for him, he hadn't even told Blaise yet. That last bit irked at him a tiny bit, made him feel a bit odd and guilty, but he just didn't want to share this with her, not yet. So it was that a frustrated Harry made his way out to his first Care of Magical Creatures class with Blaise, Vasile, and Nara and he forced himself to focus on the upcoming lesson; he hadn't forgotten the fact that it had been Hagrid who raised the three-headed dog and dragon he had come across in his first year, and it was Hagrid who had assigned them the biting book currently wiggling around in his bag.

~~ ~~ ~*~

Hagrid was waiting for his class at the door of his hut. He stood there in a moleskin overcoat, with a boarhound at his heels, looking impatient to start. Harry and Blaise exchanged glances of foreboding and Vasile and Nara tensed in case they were suddenly faced with a rampaging creature. The two Guards had done their homework and had discovered that Hagrid had been expelled in his third year for keeping a deadly creature locked up in the castle and would have gone to Azkaban had not Dumbledore spoke out for Hagrid and proved his innocence. Unfortunately, it seemed that even after all that trouble Hagrid still held a fondness for dangerous creatures.

"C'mon, now, get a move on!" Hagrid called as the class approached. "Got a real treat for yeh today! Great lesson comin' up! Everyone here? Right, follow me!"

Blaise glanced over at Harry as they followed Hagrid around the edge of the forest, a bit disappointed they wouldn't be going in, "bets on our chances of coming out of this uninjured?"

Harry smirked, "us, good. The rest of the class, not so good. Guesses on the first person injured?"

"Longbottom," Blaise said without hesitation, "followed by either Crabbe or Goyle."

Harry nodded as they stopped outside a rough paddock that as of yet held nothing. Surprisingly Harry found himself growing even more curious as to what the lesson ahead would entail.

"Everyone gather 'round the fence here!" Hagrid called. "That's it-make sure yeh can see-now, firs' thing yeh'll want ter do is open yer books-"

"How?" The voice was obviously Draco's, no one else could affect such cold and empty disdain in everyday speech like the Malfoy heir.

"Eh?" Hagrid obviously hadn't been prepared for questions this early on in the lesson, especially the one just presented to him.

"How do we open our books?" Malfoy repeated as if speaking to a small child that was having trouble comprehending.

Draco's shuddering book was out in his hand, bound by a length of rope to keep it from snapping at whatever limb was closest to reach. Many of the other students had their books bound in similar ways ranging from belts to binder clips. Only Harry and Blaise had their books out and open in front of them and that was only because Severus had instructed them on the proper way to open them; Trevor had nearly cursed Blaise's copy to bits after it had gotten a hold of his hand one day much to Severus' amusement and the Potions master had delighted in showing Trevor the 'correct' way to handle the books.

"Hasn'-hasn' anyone bin able ter open their books?" said Hagrid, looking crestfallen.

Harry and Blaise exchanged glances, but decided to remain silent as the rest of the class shook their heads. They didn't feel like drawing attention to themselves and possibly becoming actively involved in whatever lesson they were about to have.

"Yeh've got ter stroke 'em," said Hagrid as though this was the most obvious thing in the world. "Look-"

Hagrid took Hermione's copy from her, Harry couldn't help but grin at the though that it appeared Granger had finally found a book she wasn't particularly fond of, and ripped the spellotape off it so he could stroke a giant forefinger down its spine. The book gave a mighty shiver as it stopped trying to bite Hagrid and fell open to lay quietly in his hand. This of course set Draco off on another round of sneering, during which Hagrid escaped to gather up whatever creatures they would be studying. Harry and Blaise tuned the snotty blond out, instead watching the spot where Hagrid had disappeared to. Within moments their newly appointed professor was coming back with a handful of chains, and on the other end of the chains were some of the strangest yet most beautiful creatures. Hagrid had gotten a hold of hippogriffs, both Harry and Blaise had come across references for the animals when they had been searching to discover what the skeletal horses that pulled the carriages were.

"Oooooooh!" squealed Lavender Brown, pulling the rest of the rest of the students towards the hippogriffs.

"Gee up, there!" Hagrid drove the hippogriffs towards the fence the class had assembled along, causing most of the students to shift back a few paces. "Hippogriffs! Beau'iful, aren't they?"

Harry had to agree with Hagrid, they were beautiful creatures, full of deadly grace and majestic in their own right. The hippogriffs had the bodies, hind legs, and tails of horses, but the front legs, wings, and heads of what seemed to be giant eagles, with cruel, steel-colored beaks and large, brilliantly orange eyes. They possessed gleaming coats that changed smoothly from feather to hair, and the talons on their front legs were half a foot long and deadly looking. They looked as if they could easily snap the chains Hagrid was using to hold them. Beside him, Blaise shifted and Harry could tell she was just as enthralled with the creatures. When the animals weren't trying to take a bite out of him, Harry found he could easily agree with Hagrid's assessment that such dangerous things were beautiful. With half an ear, Harry paid attention to Hagrid's comments on hippogriffs being easily offended and how to approach one, but his eyes were solely on the creatures in front of him; he felt it would be an insult to take his eyes away from the hippogriff that was determinedly staring him down.

"Right-who wants ter go first?" Hagrid asked excitedly.

Most of the class backed away in response, Hagrid's lesson so far hadn't been to reassuring about their safety around hippogriffs. Then there were the hippogriffs themselves, tossing their fierce heads and flexing their powerful wings as their talons dug into the ground. It wasn't a sight that called to eager volunteers. Hagrid was looking crestfallen as his eyes scanned the gathered students until his eyes fell upon Harry and Blaise where they stood leaning against the fence.

"How 'bout you, Harry?" Hagrid was looking much like Harry expected the boarhound did when begging for table scraps.

Harry's sigh was barely audible as he lithely climbed over the paddock fence, he could almost feel the dismay Nara and Vasile were hiding, "sure, why not?"

"Good man, Harry!" Hagrid roared, regaining his cheer. "Right then-let's see how yeh get on with Buckbeak."

Hagrid untied one of the chains and brought forth the very hippogriff Harry had previously been having a staring contest with. Confidently Harry strode forward, keeping eye contact with Buckbeak, but not about to show submission. Harry figured that the rule of dogs was probably applicable with creatures in the wizarding world-don't show them you're afraid and they'll be less likely to see you as prey to toy with. A mere few feet away from the hippogriff, Harry stopped and bowed, waiting as Buckbeak decided whether he wished to bow back. Finally the hippogriff lowered his great head and allowed Harry to approach him and stroke his feathers. Harry was a bit surprise at how soft Buckbeak's feathers were, you just didn't expect such a fierce looking creature to have anything gentle about it.

"Righ' then, Harry," said Hagrid. "I reckon he might' let yeh ride him!"

Before Harry could answer Hagrid, Vasile called out in a low voice, "Harry-" as Nara called to Blaise.

Nara's call was explained a moment later as Blaise appeared next to Harry to bow to Buckbeak as well, saying, "I'm not about to let you have all the fun."

It was clear that the Guards weren't all that comfortable with them getting on Buckbeak's back, but Harry suddenly felt like being contrary and Hagrid was extremely pleased that both of them were willing to ride Buckbeak. Even though he had grown up in a world full of order and training Harry was still a teenager, and when you tell them not to do something they will most likely turn around and do it anyway. That, and Buckbeak seemed to be a combination of two of Harry's favorite things-riding and flying.

Without much further ado Harry and Blaise found themselves on Buckbeak's back, Blaise gripping Harry at the waist while he held on around the hippogriff's neck. Then, Hagrid smacked Buckbeak on the rump and they were airborne. On either side of them huge wings rose and fell, and while the initial start was rough, Buckbeak's flight soon straightened out and became smooth and graceful. Grinning and crying out in excitement, Harry and Blaise reveled in the ride they were getting until it came time to land. The abrupt landing almost threw them off, only a firm grip and years of riding kept them from toppling ungracefully to the ground. Waiting on the ground, Vasile and Nara had a tight grip on their wands; they weren't too happy about their charges going out of the reach of their protection.

Deciding they had tested their boundaries enough for that day, Harry and Blaise went to stand next to Vasile and Nara as they watched the rest of the class approach the hippogriffs. Out of all the antics of their classmates though, it was Draco Malfoy who caught their attention as he talked insultingly about Buckbeak.

Harry leaned over to Blaise, "make it Malfoy who gets injured first."

Then moments later, as if Harry was a seer, Malfoy was rolling on the ground and clutching his arm to his chest as Buckbeak reared over his head. Within moments Hagrid was there, bodily pushing Buckbeak away and scooping Malfoy up to carry the blond to the hospital wing, calling back to dismiss the class as he went.

Idly Harry glanced at Vasile, "you could have pushed him out of the way, you were close enough."

Vasile shrugged, "he's not my worry. Besides, he had it coming to him."

Remembering the sneers Malfoy had directed at Vasile and Nara about being lowly help the other day, Harry couldn't help but smirk in agreement.

"Again," Manuel danced just out of Bill's reach, unseen signals passing between Trevor and himself as they worked on honing the edge Bill would need to survive within the world of the Daggers.

Trevor gave Bill a quick tap on the back, letting the focused red-head know he had been snuck up on, "you're thrusting too wildly, letting yourself be drawn into the open too easily. Daggers are not meant to be seen when they strike, no matter how much death and destruction they leave behind. Use the shadows, blend in with your surroundings. Be another face in the crowd. Don't be afraid to truly strike at Manuel, if you do manage to hit him then it just proves that he is losing his touch and doesn't deserve his position as Leader of the Clan anymore."

Manuel childishly stuck out his tongue and twisted out of Bill's reach again while simultaneously nicking him. Grimacing, Bill glanced down at his arm where a thin slice cut through the fabric of his shirt and gave tantalizing hints of blood where the knife had cut. He hadn't even seen Manuel pull a knife. Training with Trevor had been one thing, he had advanced enough to hold his own, but he needed to work on taking both his bosses on; if he was to keep his position as a Dagger he had to be able to take on a number of opponents of varying strengths. If he had thought himself well-trained as a Guard, it was nothing compared to what he was now. He also knew now how Manuel was able to hold the respect of so many lethally trained warriors without them trying to rebel and take over the Clan-Manuel had the skills of a Dagger and the training he showed could put Trevor to shame. Bill was seeing a side of the easy-going Mafia King that he hadn't known had existed and was glad Manuel had given him the chance to prove his loyalty instead of simply dealing with him as a threat.

Taking Trevor's words to heart, Bill backed off from attacking Manuel and allowed some space to build between him and his two opponents. He was focusing to intently on Manuel, perceiving him as the bigger threat and allowing Trevor to get at his back. Reassessing the situation allowed him to admit that his current skills wouldn't let him get at Manuel, the most he could hope to do would be to keep Manuel from landing another wound on him, but he could possibly take Trevor out of their little game and even the odds before conceding defeat. He would not be faulted for that, rather his teachers would be proud to know he could gauge his own limits and would know when a situation was too hot and warranted a retreat. Of course putting this plan into action was a lot less easy than Bill would have liked, but Manuel realized his reasoning and called the session to a stop when he finally managed to draw first blood on Trevor.

"That's good enough for today," Manuel's knife popped out into plain view as he noticeably placed it in the sheath at his waist to signal the end of the training, "you realized your lesson today. We do not expect you to become a super warrior all of a sudden, but we do expect you to use the training you have been given and to not overextend yourself by trying to do what is beyond your reach. That leads to a fool's death. It will be quite some time before you will be able to gain blood on me; I began the training of a Dagger when I was just a child while Trevor has only been doing it for about the past six years once Blaise was old enough to start her own training."

"Blaise is being trained as a Dagger?" Bill was a bit disbelieving on this, but had to ask given Manuel's wording.

"No," Trevor shook his head as if to emphasize the word, "and I don't plan on training her as a Dagger either, only in self-defence. It's training a child doesn't need."

Bill saw the look of disapproval that Trevor shot Manuel then and was once again awed at how much trust the two men were willing to place in him by allowing him to see them interact such. The meaning of the look wasn't all the hard to interpret either.

"Harry's getting the training, though, isn't he? He doesn't show it."

Manuel's smile was self-deprecatory. "No he doesn't, not yet, even though he's been doing the training for the past two summers. It's because we provide him with a balance. Trevor, Blaise, and I keep Harry balanced even though Blaise knows nothing of Harry's extra training. It's one of the reasons we go out to the amusement park and theaters so much, we make sure that Harry gets to know how to be a child as well as a warrior. We make sure he still has a heart and a conscious. It's why family is so important, why the Clan is a family in its own right. Blood isn't required to make a family, only the desire to protect and care for is needed. I just hope we never see the day when someone pushes Harry too far that he forgets the balance. It's a hard place to come back from."

Bill didn't know if Manuel was speaking from experience or if he was talking about something he had see, and he didn't want to know. He was more than a little unsettled as he left the training area, his head full of things to mull over. He had to agree with Manuel. Bill had seen Harry go from carefree to holding a bead upon another man, reluctantly ready to pull the trigger if needed; he didn't want to see the day when Harry no longer had thoughts of hesitation before action, it was then that innocence was truly lost. It was a wonder that Harry was childish enough to pull pranks like he did.

~~ ~~ ~*~

"We won't have too long," Vasile pulled Harry into a room he had set up for Harry's training, "I don't know how long it'll be before Nara and Blaise come looking for us, but I wanted to get in a quick lesson so you're not rusty come summer."

Harry waved Vasile's worry off with a wave of his hand and a roll of his eyes, "don't worry, they won't come looking for us anytime soon. Blaise warned me earlier that she and Nara were going to do their hair and nails tonight."

Vasile turned from putting the finishing touches on the room so that he and Harry had objects to slip around and behind, a look of horror on his face.

"Nara's doing hair and nails? Wolf Nara? The same Nara that has at least once slit a guy from nose to nuts?"

Harry nodded, torn between amusement at Vasile's reaction and grimacing at the mental image he had just received. "She is female. They do that sort of thing."

Vasile looked faint and asked again, "Nara?"

Harry dropped his head, shaking it sadly as he realized how oblivious Vasile had been to the fact that Nara was anything but a fellow warrior; he would definitely have to tell Nara about this and see how she reacted to Vasile's reaction. Blaise might have to rethink her matchmaking of these two, or she'd need even more help than she originally thought. Harry shook his head to clear these thoughts from his mind until later.

"I'm going to prowl now," Harry warned Vasile that he was starting the game, hoping to move the Dagger to action, "and you're a sitting duck like that."

Slipping off, Harry glanced back to find that Vasile still appeared to be in shock and hadn't moved from where he stood. Either he had really thrown the Dagger for a loop, or the man was hoping to lure him into a foolish move and take him down easily by appearing to have lowered his guard. Harry wasn't sure which and decided not to take any chances. In fact, he was half tempted to just slip from the room and come back later to see what Vasile had done, but he didn't want to risk falling prey to Nara and Blaise. Shuddering, Harry remembered the one time Nara had been babysitting them and Blaise had wanted to play dress-up. Never again would he let that happen to him, the embarrassment from that one time alone had been enough to last a lifetime. The only bonus was that they hadn't been able to get any pictures and he had enough blackmail on them in return to keep them silent. Mafia Princes just did not do drag, it wasn't good for the image.

Slipping his knife free from its sheath, Harry took a circuitous route around the room to assess the different angles he could attack from. If Vasile was really in shock then this would be a short training session, if he wasn't, the session could still be short but the chances were lessened that Harry would come out triumphant. Either way Harry only had to draw first blood while Vasile had to gain third blood. Of course Vasile had also been a Dagger for almost four years; Harry would be a fool to treat him as anything less than a completely alert threat. Magic wouldn't give him an advantage here either, even if it was allowed in the training session. Taking a deep breath, Harry settled himself into a calm and began to move forward as his father had taught him, low in a crouch and keeping a wall to his back so that no one could sneak up on him. He was determined to get first blood, in a real attack you either got first blood or you most likely wound up dead.
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