Unofficial Portkey Archive

Alice Evans and the Prisoner of Azkaban by hermy_madness

Alice Evans and the Prisoner of Azkaban


Timetables and Talking Hats

"What do you reckon that was all about?" Ron stood on his tiptoes as they watched Harry and Hermione following Professor McGonagall up the marble staircase and then disappearing along a corridor.

Alice shrugged. "I don't know, but we're not going to find out until they come back so let's go and get a seat." Her legs still felt like jelly and if she didn't sit down soon she was worried they were going to give out under her; but she wasn't going to say that of course.

Filing through to the Great Hall with all the other students they quickly located a free spot on the benches next to Seamus and Dean. Slipping into the space Alice gave a customary glance around the Great Hall allowing the familiar feeling of home to sweep over her and banish some of the uneasiness that had been sitting in her chest since the Dementors appeared on the train. As usual there were candles hovering above all the tables and beyond that the steel grey clouds blotting out the stars were echoed in the enchanted ceiling. Across at the Slytherin table Malfoy and his cronies had taken up their normal spot where he was regaling them with some evidently hilarious story which involved a lot of theatrical swooning. She could guess what that was about. The staff were all taking their seats too and she waved when she saw Hagrid sit down in his chair which was three times the size of anyone else's. Further along Professor Lupin was chatting to Professor Flitwick about something or other and she was delighted to see Professor Kreevain sitting on the other side of him surveying the students with measured eyes. Her lips stretched into a warm smile when she saw Alice.

"When are they going to get the food out?" Ron complained loudly, "I'm starving."

"Aren't you always?"

"Not all the -"

"Did you hear there were Dementors on the train?" Seamus leant down the table to ask. "I heard that was why we stopped. Didn't see them though; we thought we'd just broken down.

"Yeah we saw them," Ron looked grim again, "they came into our compartment."

"Oooh really?" Lavender, who seemed to have an invisible antennae permanently attuned to gossip, somehow managed to pick up on this halfway down the table and came scurrying across to listen. "What was it like? Was it horrible?" She asked with ghoulish delight.

"Yes." Alice's curt, monosyllabic response seemed to disappoint her.

"Well, obviously it was," she continued with annoying authority, "but what happened?"

Neville saved her from either a snippy response or bashing Lavender over the head with an empty goblet.

"Harry passed out, Alice nearly did too. It was like drowning in cold porridge really." He shivered at the memory.

"Harry was unconscious?" Dean joined the conversation with a mixture of sympathy and curiosity. "Where is h -"

"Quiet down there!" Percy glared imperiously down the table at them, his chest puffed out to show his Head Boy badge off to full effect. "The Sorting is away to start."

Unusually, Alice was grateful for Percy's bossiness as it meant they were spared from any further questions. Sure enough as she glanced towards the huge double doors she saw Professor McGonagall walk through them followed by a straggly line of scared, awe struck and eager looking first years.

"There is no way we were that small when we first arrived," Ron remarked watching them scamper after the Professor. "Well," he amended with a sideways look at Alice, "you might have been."

"Don't you start too," she shoved him gently, but for the first time since the Dementors had boarded the train she smiled. They were awfully tiny. She watched as they shuffled, scurried, and tripped the length of the Great Hall; some of the first years were gaping in wonder at the enchanted ceiling and the floating candles, whilst others were actively avoiding looking at anything but their shoes. By the time they had all reached the front of the room and the nervous whispering had died down the eyes of every student were fixed expectantly on the Sorting Hat. With a shudder its torn mouth opened wide and it began to sing.

"I may not be the neatest hat,

To rest upon you head,

I'm frayed and torn and all patched up

With multi-coloured thread.

I've seen it all in times gone by,

Observed the Great and Good,

And some who never did behave,

As often as they should.

I've acquired a sort of wisdom

As I go about my day,

That allows me to determine,

In which House you shall stay.

It might be with the brave and strong

In valiant Gryffindor,

Or join the brains in Ravenclaw,

If you've a taste for lore.

Perhaps fate lies with Hufflepuff,

Where they are good and true,

If you're ambitious and you're cunning,

Then Slytherin's for you.

So settle down upon the stool,

And try me on for size,

I'll find the perfect home for you,

See where your future lies."

"Well, that was enlightening as ever," Ron gave a bored smirk. "The poetry was hardly inspiring though."

Alice looked at him with amusement, "well if you think about it, it does have to make up a new song every year. You can't blame it if every so often the rhymes are a little…" she searched for the appropriate word, "lacking." They both laughed as McGonagall began reading out the first name on her list. Once Romilda Vane and Walter Waddings had both finished being sorted, to Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff respectively, Professor McGonagall rolled up the parchment and removed both the Sorting Hat and stool from the front of the room. It was at that moment that Harry and Hermione tried to slip imperceptibly into the small amount of space left available next to Alice and Ron.

"Where have you been?" Ron hissed as Dumbledore stood up to speak.

"Tell you later," Harry murmured in response before listening to his Headmaster. He still looked pale and drawn, though much better than he had when he first woke up; Hermione on the other hand was positively beaming. It was really quite odd. She didn't have further opportunity to ponder it though as Dumbledore had finished regarding them all solemnly and was beginning to speak.

"As most of you will no doubt have noticed," he said once he had finished warning them about the Dementors, "Professor Kreevain has returned this year and will be sharing the duties of teaching History of Magic with Professor Binns. She will teach students from fourth to seventh years for the first term and then first, second and third years in the second term." Alice tried to suppress a groan at this. That would mean she'd have to wait a whole term before she was in her class! "The more observant among you may also have noticed that we have a new addition to the staff table; Professor Lupin will be taking over in Defence Against the Dark Arts." There was scant clapping which rippled round the room at this, although Alice and her friends were enthusiastic in their support. She was mildly distracted however by the reactions of the staff. Snape, who usually had a face that could sour milk, was glaring with evident antipathy and venom down the table at the new teacher. It was common knowledge that he wanted the job, but even for that his reaction was extreme. Lupin on the other hand seemed utterly oblivious to the loathing directed at him; he was too busy looking with curiosity, and some other emotion she could not quite identify, in the direction of Alice and her friends. He looked away when he saw that she had spotted him, but flicking her eyes back to Snape she saw that he too had noticed Lupin watching them and his inscrutable black eyes were now switching intently between Lupin's face and Alice's. So focused was she on this bizarre exchange that she nearly missed Dumbledore's next announcement.

"- and so I am delighted to say that the position of our Care of Magical Creatures professor will be filled by none other than our own Gatekeeper: Rubeus Hagrid." He joined in with the much more enthusiastic applause which greeted this statement. After a moment of stunned silence Alice and her friends laughed delightedly and joined in too.

Before long Ron got his wish as the Headmaster sat down and the plates magically filled themselves with food. "Great," he enthused grabbing a handful of bread rolls.

"So," Alice would rather feed her curiosity, "what did McGonagall want?"

Harry pulled a face. "She just wanted to see I was alright after… you know… what happened on the train. Madame Pomfrey checked me over. That was it really."

"Oh," Alice tried not to sound disappointed; she had been hoping it was something more exciting. "What about you Hermione?"

"Me?" Hermione looked up startled. "She just wanted to…" Was Hermione avoiding her eyes? "She just told me to keep an eye on Harry, in case… well in case he passed out again." She finally looked at Alice properly and smiled slightly as though it wasn't a big deal.

"I'm not a baby you know." Harry replied hotly. "I can look after myself."

"I know you can," Hermione gave him a placating smile. But Alice wasn't convinced. Why would McGonagall just ask Hermione to keep an eye on him? Surely they all could? There was a tiny voice that questioned whether she was simply jealous that McGonagall hadn't included her, but she promptly squashed this idea. Hermione hadn't wanted to look at her when she spoke, was this because she knew Alice would catch her out in a lie? No one else seemed to have noticed; she would have to mull this one over.

By the next morning though she had all but forgotten it however; well perhaps not forgotten she thought glancing over at Hermione who was laughing at something Harry had said, but at least put it to the back of her mind. Besides they had other things to worry about.

"Oi Potter!" They all glanced up at the sound of an unpleasantly familiar voice. "You better watch out Potter," Draco Malfoy sneered as he approached the table, flanked as usual by his two hulking henchmen. "I heard there might be Dementors going about somewhere; you wouldn't want to faint again!"

"Shove off Malfoy," Ron's ears began turning red as he struggled to ignore him.

"Shove off Malfoy," the blonde Slytherin mimicked in a high pitched voice. "Are you going to make me?" Alice and Neville sitting on either side of him had to grab Ron's robes and hold him in his seat as he struggled to do just that. Malfoy' eyes glittered with barely concealed glee as he watched his efforts with a condescending sneer, then with a slight shrug of his shoulders he dismissed Ron and turned to look at Harry which made Ron's face burn even more. "So Potter I heard you're a bit fragile around our visitors from Azkaban?"

Behind Malfoy Alice could see his cronies at the Slytherin table, especially Pansy Parkinson, staring in their direction and sniggering with childish delight. Back at their own table Harry was clearly fighting to keep his cool.

"Malfoy," he snapped, "if you've got a point to make can you just make it? Otherwise go a crawl back under the rock you oozed out from."

"Oh, big talk for a soppy -"

"Is there a reason for you being across here Mr Malfoy?" Professor McGonagall had approached and was observing the Slytherin coolly through her spectacles.

"Professor I was just concerned about Potter," Alice was mildly impressed with the speed and smoothness with which he was able to lie, "I heard he had been ill yesterday. I thought I'd come and see if he was alright."

"Of course you did." McGonagall replied tersely. "Now get back to your own table before I start docking points from Slytherin." As he scurried off throwing irate looks back at them the professor turned back to the Gryffindors who hastily tried to wipe the enormous grins from their faces. "Now you five, here are your timetables," she passed them out, "and do you think we can avoid any dramas from you this year?" Her gaze lingered on Harry slightly as she looked at them each in turn.

"Yes Professor," they chorused dutifully still trying not to smile as she continued on down the table.

"I think I may actually love McGonagall sometimes," Ron beamed.

"Don't let her hear you say that," Harry grinned across the table at his friend. "What have you two got first anyway?" He looked questioningly at the girls.

Scanning her timetable Alice responded. "First I've got… Arithmancy, and Transfiguration then Care of magical Creatures and History of Magic after lunch. Not a bad first day."

"Oh," Neville looked crestfallen, "I forgot you won't be in all our classes this year."

"Yeah it'll be strange, not all being together all the time," Harry conceded, "it won't seem like Hogwarts."

"Don't be daft," Alice rolled her eyes, "it's only one class. There's no need to be so dramatic."

Hermione elbowed him teasingly in the ribs. "Besides you've still got me in all your classes."

"I don't get how you're going to manage that," Alice frowned at her, "Arithmancy is at the same time as Divination. You can't do both classes at once." She wasn't sure why she hadn't thought of this before; she knew her friend had signed up for all the classes.

"I know," Hermione blushed as they all looked at her curiously. "Don't worry I've sorted it all out with McGonagall."

Alice opened her mouth to say something, but Ron beat her to it. "Well rather you than me. I wouldn't want to have to do any more classes than I absolutely had to."

"Really Ron?" Hermione looked at him sardonically. "That really surprises me about you."

"Come on," Harry stood up before the two of them started bickering again. "I know it's the first day of term, but can we not at least wait until the first class is over before you two start nagging at each other?"

The five of them walked out of the Great Hall with all of the bounce and enthusiasm for learning that comes with the start of a new term. Worries about mass murderers and Dementors seemed less threatening within the walls of Hogwarts where everything was comfortable and familiar. Halfway up the staircase Hermione stopped. "Oh, I've forgotten one of my textbooks," she moaned, rummaging through her bag to try and locate it. "I must have left it at the table."

"Well let's go back and get it then," said Harry, turning round and making to walk back the way they had come.

"No!" Hermione's exclamation seemed rather louder than she had intended so she smiled sweetly and repeated herself more calmly. "No it's alright. You all go on I'll catch up."

"Are you sure?" Alice asked, glancing at her watch. "We don't mind waiting for you, honestly. It'll only take a few minutes."

"No, no, it's fine," Hermione insisted obstinately and Alice noticed that she flushed a little as she spoke. "I'll catch up."

Alice looked at her quizzically for a few seconds before giving Harry a questioning glance. When he shrugged in response she relented. "Fine!" She held her hands up in mock surrender. "If it means that much to you, we'll go."

After watching their friend skip quickly back down the stairs the four remaining Gryffindors continued on their own way. Eventually though Alice had to split off from the rest of the group.

"Have fun in Divination," she called after their retreating backs as she slipped into the Arithmancy classroom. Finding an empty desk near the front she slipped into it and saved a seat next to her for Hermione. If she ever got here that was; several minutes had passed and there was still no sign of her. It shouldn't have taken her long to get the book Alice thought glancing at her watch. If she didn't hurry up she was going to miss the start of the class.

As though on cue Hermione rushed in looking rather frazzled and out of breath. Quickly spotting Alice she dashed across the room and threw herself into the vacant seat. "Phew! What time is it," she checked her watch. "I thought I was going to be late there."

"Where have you been?"

"I told you; I was getting my book."

Alice took in the stubborn set of her friend's chin and the steely glint in her eyes and realised she wasn't going to get any further with that particular line of questioning. "Alright." She decided to change the subject. "So what are you going to do about Divination? I mean, you should be there now too shouldn't you?"

"I told you," Hermione shrugged dismissively, though the stubbornness didn't leave her face, "I sorted it all with McGonagall. It's fine." The finality with which she spoke indicated that the subject was closed. Alice knew her friend too well to argue or probe further; even if she had wanted to all further conversation was cut off by the arrival of Professor Vector.

"Are you feeling alright today?" Alice asked with increasing concern after class as Hermione dashed towards her.

"Of course," her friend responded with the sort of innocent look that usually graced the twins' faces when they had done something they knew they shouldn't. "Why?"

"Well that's the second time today you've gone rushing back somewhere for a book. You're not usually so forgetful."

"I must still be in summer holiday mode. That's all. My brain hasn't quite attuned to being back at school yet."

Alice raised an incredulous eyebrow but didn't say anything. She had never known Hermione's brain to be attuned to anything other than school and work. Still it wouldn't do to push the issue. Hermione would tell her in her own time what was preoccupying her. And if she didn't… well then she would just have to get it out of her.

As they entered McGonagall's class for the first Transfiguration lesson of the term she noticed that a low level murmur seemed to be sweeping the room.

"What's happened?" she asked Harry, walking over to the table he was sitting at with Ron and Neville at the back of the room.

He grunted in response and continued flipping absently through the book in front of him, which he clearly wasn't reading at all.

"Trelawney is mental." Ron offered helpfully when it became obvious Harry wasn't going to answer.

"She saw a Grim in Harry's tealeaves," Neville added looking slightly fearful.

"Oh for goodness sake, there wasn't a Grim in the tealeaves!" Hermione scoffed. When Alice looked at her in surprise she quickly added, "I mean… everyone knows that's a load of rubbish, Grims and tealeaves and things… No one pays attention to Divination anyway."

"So why did you take the subject then?"

"To get a better understanding of what people believe in. You can't disregard something till you've at least experienced it."

Whilst agreeing with her sentiment Alice couldn't help but think that Hermione did this all too often. She had even done it just now. There was no way she could know whether there had been a Grim in Harry's tealeaves or not and yet she had scorned the idea straight away. It seemed that yet again Hermione was correct however as halfway through the class McGonagall was forced to halt her explanation on Animagi - much to Alice's annoyance as she found the subject fascinating - and persuade them all that Harry was not about to die. Alice wasn't sure what was funnier, the fact that their teacher was compelled to do this or watching McGonagall struggle with being civil about her colleague. Clearly she had no time either for Trelawney or her subject.

"I don't know. I still think there might be something in it. I mean she did know I was going to break that cup." Neville reasoned as they made their way across the grounds later that day.

"So you think I am going to die?" Asked Harry, looking much more cheerful than he had before Transfiguration. "Cheers, Neville."

"Oh I didn't mean it like that!" Neville rushed to correct himself. "I just… what I…" He stopped when he saw Harry was only joking. "Oh you know what I meant." His ears went pink as he smiled. "What do you think Hagrid's class is going to be like?" He asked, changing the subject to cover his embarrassment.

"I'm sure it'll be great." Harry's enthusiasm wasn't shared by Alice. Much as she liked Hagrid as a person, she'd seen enough of his dealings with magical creatures and tasted enough of his cooking to question his ability to take a class. Still, she reasoned, it was probably best to reserve judgement until after the class. Perhaps she herself needed to take some of Hermione's advice from earlier, and not judge until she had experienced things.

"Hey Potter!" They were all so used to being yelled at by the owner of that smug, self-satisfied voice that none of them either bothered to turn around. "Oi Potter!" A twinge of annoyance had crept into its tone as it was forced to repeat itself.

"Go bother someone else Malfoy," Harry shouted in reply continuing to walk towards the paddock which had come into view by Hagrid's cabin.

"Is your life really so empty that you haven't got anything better to do than annoy us?" Hermione asked archly as the Slytherin chased after them and circled them so that they were forced to move to the side to try and pass him.

Ignoring her he motioned Crabbe and Goyle, who were shadowing him as usual, to cut them off so that they had no choice but to stop. "Are you sure you'll manage to cope with this class Potter? You don't cope too well round Magical Creatures, or so I've heard. You will let us know if you feel faint won't you?" He sneered and Alice could see Harry's hackles rising in response. "Come on," he commanded his enormous bodyguards when he saw he wasn't going to get a response from the Gryffindors, "we wouldn't want to be late for the useless oaf's class."

"He's not useless!" Harry spat at his retreating back once Malfoy was out of earshot.

"Just ignore him," Hermione advised loftily. "He's not worth bothering about."

"Still I hope he gets eaten by a Manticore or something… horrible," Alice couldn't think of a fate fitting enough for the repugnant Slytherin. "What?!" she asked as her friends turned to look at her with incredulous amusement.

"Nothing," Harry grinned crookedly at her, his anger of a moment before abating. "Come on, we don't want to be late for class… especially if we're doing Manticores today," he added slyly causing Alice and the rest to chuckle.

As it turned out they weren't learning about Manticores. The subject of Hagrid's first class was in fact the equally dangerous Hippogriff. Hagrid as usual however seemed oblivious to this fact. "Beau'iful, aren' they?" He beamed at the astonished class as he paraded the creatures before them.

"Well it wasn't the first word that sprang to mind," Ron muttered to his friends, "but I'm willing to run with it." Alice stifled a giggle.

"Ev'ryone come a bit closer now," Hagrid beckoned them forwards, "get a good look." No one seemed inclined to move within range of the deadly looking claws, razor sharp beak, and calmly predatory eyes that comprised the beast; Neville even took a large step backwards. After glancing warily at each other however, Alice, Ron, Hermione and Harry all took careful, shuffling steps towards the fence that separated them from the Hippogriffs.

"Righ' now, tha''s it, they won' bite," cooed Hagrid. Alice wasn't sure if he was talking to them or the Hippogriffs - in fact she suspected the latter. "Now if one of yeh want to jus' hop into the paddock there and introduce yourself." The four of them looked at him in alarm. "How abou' it Harry?" Hagrid seemed not to have noticed their reactions.

"I - I - Well," Harry's brain was clearly racing to come up with an excuse as his mouth worked like a fish out of water.

"Tha''s the spirit Harry," Hagrid came up behind him and lifted him bodily over the fence as Alice struggled to decide whether the situation was funny or worryingly dangerous.

"Now Harry, this one's called Buckbeak," the giant explained as he clambered over the fence after him and grabbed the halter of one of the waiting Hippogriffs. "Now what you got to do is stand in front o' him, not too close, tha''s it, and look him in the eye. It's really important," he raised his voice so the whole class could hear him, "tha' you're always respec'ful to a Hippogriff. They're proud. Easily offended, Hippogriffs are. Don't never insult one, 'cause it might be the las' thing yeh do."

Alice looked round in irritation as Malfoy guffawed loudly behind her. He, Pansy, Crabbe and Goyle were all giggling uproariously at something and clearly not listening to a word Hagrid was saying. Hermione, who was watching them as well, tutted loudly. Their teacher however, didn't seem to have noticed anything amiss.

"Now Harry, wha' yeh got to do is bow to him slowly. Tha''s it."

Alice watched with awe, tempered by not a little trepidation, as Harry obeyed. Emerald eyes fixed on amber as he carefully bent from the waste, barely blinking. An unexpected, vice-like grip, abruptly latched on to Alice's arm and she glanced to her left to see Hermione, sheet white, gazing fearfully at him. Reaching up she gave her friend's hand a reassuring squeeze. Hermione's eyes never left Harry, but her grip did loosen slightly.

It was probably only a few seconds, but to Alice it felt like an age, before the Hippogriff eventually bowed back and she released a breath she didn't even know she had been holding.

"Good," Hagrid clapped his hands like an oversized, excited child, "now I think yeh might even be able to fly him." Once again he hoisted Harry up under his arms and deposited him casually onto the Hippogriff who, much to Alice's surprise, stood stock still throughout. Harry looked much less calm about the entire scenario as with a single strong flap of steel grey wings Buckbeak launched himself into the air.

"Oh Merlin," she heard Hermione whisper next to her as they watched the Hippogriff, with Harry clinging to his back, soar high above the paddock and then swoop rapidly towards the nearby treetops. "Will he be ok?" She whispered urgently to Alice.

Hearing a distant whoop of pure joy carried on the breeze Alice grinned. "Yeah," she glanced towards her friend with a smile, "I think he just might be."

As they watched Harry and the Hippogriff turning high above them and then using the air currents to climb and glide, Alice felt a twinge of envy and wondered how different, or not it would be to flying a broom. She didn't suppose there would be the same smoothness or agility in a beast that big, but she hoped that she would get the chance to find out.

As she pondered and marvelled at the Hippogriff Hagrid let out a piercing whistle and the creature abruptly dropped back towards the earth. At the very last moment it spread its wings wide to act as a brake, though it still landed with an uncomfortable looking thud.

"Ok," he addressed the class, "who else wants a go?"

The class, buoyed up by Harry's success and the elated grin he was wearing, were now much less reluctant to approach the paddock. Soon Alice found herself face to face with an impressive tawny Hippogriff, whose plumage reminded her distinctly of Archimedes. Everyone was chattering away happily as she slowly began to bow.

Suddenly there was a terrified, high pitched scream; the sort that shattered the peace of the forest and sent nearby birds rushing from their treetop roosts. The noise was urgent and pain filled and sent every head in the class swivelling in the direction of its source. Alice felt her stomach lurch as she took in the scene before her; each image imprinting itself on her mind. Curled up and cowering on the ground was a blood soaked body, with very distinctive blonde hair. Rearing above him about to take another swipe with those deadly talons was the Hippogriff Harry had ridden earlier. A flash of sunlight glittered along the point of the Hippogriff's claw as it came scything through the air. Another scream, this time in horrible concert with those from onlookers. Then Hagrid was there forcing himself between the boy and the beast, shouting a flapping his arms. For a split second Alice thought he was going to get the creature under control, then without warning Buckbeak spread his enormous wings and with a single beat he was airborne, students scattering in his path, and vanishing into the depths of the forest.

For a long moment nobody moved; all Alice could do was gaze horror stricken at the crumpled and bloodied body of Malfoy as Hagrid turned, white as a ghost and knelt beside him. Then suddenly it was as if a spell was broken and the class came whirling back to life. Several girls began wailing hysterically, Lavender and Pansy Parkinson amongst them, everyone was shouting and bunching together in groups away from the remaining Hippogriffs who seemed to be the only ones unaffected by the kerfuffle and stood quite calmly to the side of the paddock. More concerned for Hagrid than for Malfoy, Harry sprinted across to them closely followed by his friends.

"Oh Merlin," Hagrid could be heard muttering to himself as they got closer, "don't let him be dead, please don't let him be dead."

Alice careered to a halt as she took in all of the blood and Malfoy's face, which if possible was even paler than Hagrid's. He wasn't moving. "Hagrid…"

"Hagrid!" Hermione instantly took charge. "You need to get him to the Hospital Wing! Now!"

Her words seemed to galvanise the giant. After blinking at her for a moment he stood up quickly, scooped Malfoy into his arms and took off in the direction of the castle leaving the class staring after him. Alice however was looking at the pool of blood staining the grass a muddy brown. She could still hear Malfoy's screams ringing in her ears… And that was an awful lot of blood. Her earlier comment about hoping he was eaten by a Manticore came back to her; and she had the horrible feeling that it had been a premonition of sorts. For everyone's sake, she hoped not.

A/N: Cue dramatic, suspenseful ending music! Hope you enjoyed! Please R&R!