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Published: 09/21/2004
Updated: 01/14/2005
Words: 139,369
Chapters: 38
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Harry Potter and the Goblin Rebellion


Story Summary:
Year 6 - The goblins are threatening rebellion: Now that Fudge acknowledges Voldemort's return, he is pushing wartime policies, which oppress the goblins. Voldemort is seeking the secret in an ancient Egyptian magical site. Harry is being drawn into these two seemingly-unrelated developments. At the same time, he must train students in the schoolwide DA, while the burden of the Prophecy is filling him with visions, which cause Harry to pull back from his friends. But love has a way of arising whether it is welcome or not. For Harry, the course to resolution is never smooth, but if Harry can thwart Voldemort's plot, he can gain access to the secret which could enable him to use the 'Power the Dark Lord knows not.'

Chapter 21

Chapter Summary:
Harry demonstrates to the school the use of the Patronus Charm to fight the lethifold. However, things go awry.

Chapter 21 - Into the Pit

Well before Halloween, the excitement around Hogwarts was palpable. Harry hadn't intended to make a show, just a sort of laboratory demonstration, but there was really quite little entertainment at Hogwarts. A battle against a lethifold was guaranteed to attract attention - part advanced magic show and part gladiatorial contest. The creature was deadly and the only possible defense was very advanced defensive magic. The only thing missing as entertainment was that the whole thing was expected to take less than a half hour, even with explanations and demonstrations.

The teachers were not allowed to continue with their scheduled lesson plans. Hagrid was pestered by the students into giving each class a full lesson on everything he knew about lethifolds. He described in a breathy whisper his own encounter with a lethifold and had silence whenever he did so. Harry was particularly glad that Malfoy was not taking the NEWT-level Care of Magical Creatures class, as he was certain Malfoy would only scoff and disrupt what was otherwise a very grippingly-told tale. Of course the terror of the half-giant who had seemed afraid of no creature only served to heighten the fascination. As Hagrid could not complete a class about lethifolds without getting very shaky and drinking a mug of mead, he was ending the last several days of October with a hangover.

Similarly, in History of Magic, Professor Binns was set off his notes and prodded into telling about the history of wizard interactions with dementors and lethifolds and the use of the patronus. In Charms class, Professor Flitwick needed no prodding to take advantage of the interest to explain everything he could about the Patronus Charm. He demonstrated his own patronus - a Cornish Pixy - and explained that he would be one of the backup wizards to step in if Harry should have a problem. Similarly, Professor Weasley took the opportunity to discuss the warning signs of the near presence of dementors and lethifolds. He also discussed his experience trying to interview a prisoner at Azkaban and being attacked by an out-of-control dementor; he had the class on the edge of their seats describing how he had used the Patronus Charm to ward it off.

"Sir," asked Seamus Finnegan, "what was your happy thought?"

Arthur Weasley's eyes twinkled and he gazed back lovingly toward Molly, who was sitting in, and Ron, "Why, of course, Mr. Finnegan, I thought of my wife and family. They could inspire a million patronuses."

The girls all said "Ahh" and the boys mostly snickered or pretended to gag, except Ron, of course, who pulled his Defense book up in front of himself.

One person who seemed neither excited nor pleased about the demonstration was Draco Malfoy. Whenever it was mentioned in a class they had together, Draco scowled piercingly at Harry. Draco was heard occasionally speaking to his Slytherin friends about Harry being a showboat and saying he was pulling for the lethiform. Neville wanted to intervene, but the other Gryffindors stopped him each time.

Harry tried to act as though nothing was out of the ordinary, but the very air of excitement and anticipation had his stomach knotted. Luckily the only class he had after the double Defense Against the Dark Arts class was double Transformation. Professor McGonagall's brow was knit as tightly as Harry had ever seen it, and she seemed distracted the whole class, even flubbing a transformation herself. After class, she asked Harry to stay.

"Potter," she said, "you have nothing to prove. You don't have to do this."

"How could I ask someone else to face it if I shy away? Nobody in the school has more experience using the patronus than I do, and we need more people who can battle dementors. The people who will use it after me need to see how it is done."

She looked sharply at him, "You're not just doing this as a stunt?"

"What Fred and George Weasley did last year - that was a stunt. Brilliant, but still a stunt. I have no desire to risk my life foolishly, Ma'am. Can you think of a better way to show people how to face something as dreadful as a dementor?" asked Harry.

"Just be very careful, Potter. I would hate to have an empty chair in my classroom."

Harry smiled gratefully. That was about the most affectionate thing he had ever heard Professor McGonagall say, and he understood it that way. It wasn't just that he was useful. She cared what happened to him.

"With your good wishes, conjuring a Patronus should be no problem."

Harry surveyed the room before the demonstration. It was rather like the teaching surgical theatres he had seen on muggle television - an open central area about 50 feet circular with walls and an airtight door (to prevent the lethifold escaping underneath), and the area above surrounded by stands. However, these stands were enough to accommodate the entire school. After the school had gathered - and Harry didn't think anyone was missing but Dumbledore - Hagrid brought out a large glass box that looked like it was filled with black liquid. Then he brought out an injured niffler that was otherwise going to be put to sleep anyway.

"Good luck, Harry - not that you'll need it," he whispered to Harry, but he was shivering so badly he could hardly get the words out. He left through the side door under the stands.

"The niffler is here so you can see what happens if a lethifold is not stopped," announced Harry.

"Alohamora!" he incanted, pointing his wand at the box. The lid rattled a tad and then the black liquid crept up the sides of the box. It flowed down like liquid nitrogen and spread along the floor seeking the telltale traces of heat and excess carbon dioxide that would lead it to a living thing to consume. It spread across almost half the floor until one edge felt the body heat of the niffler. Then the whole black puddle flowed across the floor toward the source of the heat. When one edge actually reached the prey, it climbed up the niffler's body, as if instead the niffler was stepping into an absolutely black still swamp. The seconds crept by. The niffler showed neither alarm nor awareness of what was happening. In less than a minute, in which not a sound was heard in the room, the lethifold had enveloped the niffler in a mound blacker than any cavern. In no more than forty-five seconds the black mound started to spread again reaching out like a large spill of ink, only as it spread, there was no mound, no carcass, not the slightest trace of the niffler. There were gasps and muffled screams from the audience as the lethifold continued its search for live prey. And everyone knew that the only prey on that floor was Harry.

It was less than a minute before the lethifold felt the heat from Harry's body and began moving his way. He had deliberately held off using his Patronus until it discovered him so that the demonstration would be realistic. The lethifold's forward edge was less than eight feet from Harry when he pulled his wand. "EXPEC ..."

But before he could pronounce the incantation, the side door opened a crack and a disguised voice was heard shouting "Impedimenta! Expelliarmus!" Harry's legs were hindered by the first curse and he was nudged off his feet by the second, with his wand flying to the crack in the door and the lethifold creeping toward him, now less than three feet away.

As he fell, Harry shouted "Expelliarmus" and his wand and another came flying back out the door as a thud and then a very familiar growl was heard on the other side. But Harry was falling, so the wands flew to where his hand had been and he could not reach either. He fell to the floor and the lethifold found his hex-restricted feet and started creeping up his legs. There were screams throughout the audience.

Harry's legs became numb and he had a sense of cold as when he had first stepped into the lake two Februaries earlier for the second task of the Triwizard Tournament. He gasped and then remembered his other wand, even as the lethifold reached his chest. He quickly reached inside his robes for his left hand wand and shouted "EXPECTO PATRONUM" and a silvery wisp shot out of his wand, forming itself into a stag which peeled the lethifold off of Harry and herded the black puddle back into the box. Harry pointed the wand at the box and said "Colloportus." The box was once more sealed shut.

"And that," said Harry casually, picking himself up off the floor and retrieving the wands as if nothing untoward had happened, "is how the Patronus Charm is used."

The auditorium broke into a roar of applause, whistles and stomping. Quite a few witches were crying with fear. Molly Weasley buried her head in Arthur Weasley's shoulder and her whole body was shaking with sobs. While taking a showman's bows, Harry took stock of his condition: he realized that he was numb wherever the lethiform had touched him - all the way up his chest. He also found himself shivering, but he could not tell if that was from the cold of the lethiform or the release of tension in having the demonstration over. However every part of him seemed to be working and he knew Hagrid's feeling had returned in time after his encounter with a lethiform in Africa.

Suddenly the door was kicked wide open and Hagrid backed through it, ducking down to avoid hitting his head. His hands each grasped one of Draco Malfoy's arms as he pulled Malfoy behind him, holding him three feet off the ground, with a grip that threatened to crush his arm bones.

Speaking in a low tense growl that even scared Harry, Hagrid explained, "I couldn' bear to watch, so I didn' see THIS sneakin' round behin' me to the door. Then I heard the spells bein' shouted and then Harry's spell, and THIS came flying back agin me. One o' you other professors better take 'im off my hands, er I'm liable to feed the lethifold again!"

Hagrid was shaking as much as he had before, but clearly this time it was rage, not fear. Harry hadn't seen Draco so scared since he had to do detention in first year going through the Forbidden Forest looking for a dead unicorn. Professor McGonagall stared through narrow eyes first at Malfoy and then toward Professor Snape, who visibly quailed under her glare. Harry had to suppress laughter.

Professor McGonagall snarled toward Snape, "I believe he is one of yours!"

Professor Snape swallowed and said, "Since this involves the safety of one of your students, Professor, I would prefer to defer to you in selecting appropriate disciplinary measures."

What little color there was in Malfoy's face had left, just as surely as if he had in fact been given to the lethifold, which perhaps would have been more merciful than Professor McGonagall seemed intent on being. Hagrid tossed Malfoy over the railing like a rag doll and Professor McGonagall seized the collar of Malfoy's robes, barking "Come with me!"

When the room had settled a bit, Harry asked "Would anyone else care to practice their patronus now?"

Hermione came forward. "Yes, Harry," she said firmly, "I'm ready."

She came down to the main floor and Harry went up to the upper level. Several arms reached over to pat Harry on the back, but all eyes remained watching the floor. Hermione released the lethifold and allowed it to spread to within five feet of her before pulling her wand and shouting "EXPECTO PATRONUM." The silvery otter erupted from her wand and chased the lethifold back into the box and Hermione sealed it again.

Emboldened, Ron, Cho, Marietta, Ginny and Justin Finch-Fletchley all handled the lethifold in turn. By then it was time to assemble for the Halloween Feast, so the students and faculty filed out, except for those who had faced the lethifold, Hagrid (who was returning the lethifold's box to its storage cabinet, and Professor Weasley who was trying to comfort and prop up a thoroughly shattered Molly Weasley. All the students came up to where she was to reassure her that all of them were fine. Ron and Ginny came up and hugged her, and then Harry tried to talk to her.


Harry jumped back. His shivers turned more severe, in fear and sorrow, shaken by her far more than he had been by the lethifold. Arthur Weasley helped his sobbing wife out of the auditorium, while trying to explain to Harry that she was just overwrought by the situation. Harry nodded, but felt sickened at the way this evening had shaken Professor McGonagall and Mrs. Weasley - the only mothers he had really known. Harry turned to the others.

"Was it too much? I thought we needed to show everyone how to do it. Did we make too much of a spectacle?" he asked.

"Naw, mate," said Ron, "she's just a worrier. You know that. Thinks she's got to take care of everyone."

Harry nodded doubtfully - that could describe him as well, he thought.

Marietta then took both his hands in hers and looked him in the eye "Harry - any one of us students might have to face dementors. Are they any less scary than the lethifold? No! So we must all be prepared to face fear and I don't think anyone who understands the situation likes that. When we have to use a Patronus, it won't be just a game to see who can make the prettiest silver thingy. It will be for keeps."

"Marietta's right," said Ginny, "Mum's always thought she needs to protect us from facing things like that, and here we are jumping down there to face them. I think the worst of it for her is knowing that we really did need to be able to do this. It's not games - it's war."

Harry breathed deeply. "Well, I'm sure I'll have another chance tonight or this weekend to square things with her. Let's head on up to the Feast."

As they approached the door, Justin asked "Did everyone else have the same happy thought I did for their Patronus?"

Hermione started grinning, "You mean Malfoy's detention?" And they all laughed and agreed.

Harry and the others who had faced the lethifold had only gotten up two flights of stairs when Harry started shaking violently and collapsed. Hermione and Marietta, both healer trainees, started checking him and quickly discovered that the lethifold had begun dissolving his body everywhere it had touched him, A couple of Ravenclaws coming from their dorm toward the Great Hall saw the raw open flesh of his leg, which was the worst affected, and screamed. The whole school erupted from the Hall and saw what the others had as Cho pulled her wand and levitated Harry.

"To the Hospital Wing, quickly," she said.