Unofficial Portkey Archive

Alice Evans and the Prisoner of Azkaban by hermy_madness

Alice Evans and the Prisoner of Azkaban


A Series of Unfortunate Events

"So you didn't actually see him?" Ron asked her for the twentieth time in as many minutes since they had sat in the corner.

"No," Alice was careful to keep her voice down as they were surrounded by other students, "but Fred and George said the Map is never wrong, so it doesn't make a difference. Besides," she looked significantly at Harry, "they thought something like this was going to happen."

"How did he manage to get past the Dementors though?" Harry was much more interested in the mechanics of the situation than any concern for himself. "I mean they're surrounding the entire school, and they're supposed to be the best guards anywhere, that's why they're at Azkaban isn't it?" He looked to Hermione for confirmation and she nodded. "So how did he manage it then?"

Alice had no answer to this.

"I'm sure the teachers will find him though," Hermione patted his knee reassuringly, "either that or scare him off."

"Yeah, because if he can kill thirteen people at once, escape from Azkaban and break into Hogwarts, the teachers are really going to terrify him," Ron drawled sarcastically.

"I can imagine McGonagall could be quite fierce if she felt like it," Harry jumped in before the two of them could start to argue.

"And Hagrid could be quite terrifying if you didn't know him," Hermione added.

Alice smirked at that. "The only terrifying thing about Hagrid is his cooking." She was pleased to see the others laugh at this; everyone was getting far too tense. Glancing around the Great Hall she could see all the students gathered in little knots, as they were, earnestly discussing, or speculating as to what was going on. By far the noisiest of any of these groups was the one that contained Lavender Brown. She was sitting with Parvati and Sally-Anne, as well as Parvati's sister and a few of her friends from Ravenclaw. Every so often her chatter would become very animated, increasing in volume as she waved her arms emphatically in the direction of the Forbidden Forest until someone laid a soothing hand on her arm.

"I really wish someone would tell her to be quiet," Hermione complained the third time this happened, "she's doing my head in."

"Mmm," Harry answered vaguely; he was more interested in watching Professor Lupin who had just entered the room, whispered something to Professor Vector and then left again. "I wish they would tell us what's going on."

"I wouldn't hold your breath," replied Ron.

They had just settled back into a comfortable silence again when suddenly an echoing shriek sounded from somewhere outside the Great Hall followed by a loud clanging. Every single student in the room sat bolt upright, their terrified eyes fixed on the doorway and their ears straining to pick up the slightest clue from the ruckus outside. What on earth was going on?

"What is it?" Hermione whispered.

Alice had a growing suspicion, which was confirmed as she caught sight of Fred and George at the other side of the room with enormous grins plastered across their faces. She could feel an unexpected hilarity bubbling up inside her and begging for release from her lips. In vain she tried to hold it in; she'd always found it impossible when she got the giggles anyway. What began as a tiny giggle became a snort and before it developed into a full blown laugh she quickly clapped a hand over her mouth to hold it in. All the tensions she had been feeling and the adrenaline she had been running on since she first read that name on the Map released all at once and she rocked back an forth, her sides aching with mirth. Every time she thought that she was calming down slightly an image of the teachers, searching for Sirius Black but being confronted by suits of armour dancing in formation, would pop into her head and that would set her off again. When she eventually managed to calm down and wipe the tears from her face, she saw with a wry grin, that Harry, Hermione, Ron and half the students round about were all staring at her. From the expressions on their faces they were all seriously concerned for her mental wellbeing.

"Err… Alice," Harry eventually ventured cautiously, "… are you alright?"

"Yeah," she gasped trying to get herself back under control. "Sorry." She took a deep breath and concentrated on not laughing again.

"So are you going to tell us what was so funny or should we just cart you off to St Mungo's right now?" Ron quipped.

"It was the twins," she explained quietly so that those students still staring at her wouldn't overhear, "this morning before we spotted Black on the Map I caught them enchanting the suits of armour on the first floor."

"Which I assume is what all that racket was a minute ago?" Hermione asked primly.

Alice grinned in response.

"I wish we could have seen that!" Ron enthused after she had explained fully. "Why do I always miss everything?"

"Because you're usually asleep or eating," teased Harry with a smirk. Alice smiled, although it had backfired, the twins stunt had banished much of the tensions the group had been feeling. It also wasn't long before a very flustered Professor Sprout came bustling back into the hall followed by McGonagall who glared reprovingly in the twins direction.

"You don't think they'll get into trouble do you?" Alice asked in concern.

Ron, who had been watching this too, shook his head. "Nah, McGonagall can't prove it was them, although she probably suspects."

"Besides she's got bigger things to worry about today," Hermione added.

By mid afternoon any thrill of excitement they had felt at the school being effectively locked down had long since worn off. With nothing to do and nowhere to go they were becoming restless. "I spy with my little eye…" Hermione gazed half-heartedly around the room for something to choose, "something beginning with… S." She looked at them expectantly.

"Slytherins," guessed Ron. "Unfortunately," he added in an undertone.

"Nope," Hermione shook her head.

"Snape," Harry glared across in the direction of the hated professor who was stalking the length of the hall enforcing discipline as he went.

"Wrong again." Despite the fact that they were all bored out of their brains, Alice could tell Hermione was beginning to enjoy keeping them guessing.

"Students? Staff?" Alice threw in a second guess for good measure.

"What about half-eaten Sandwiches?" asked a boy called Kevin Entwhistle from Ravenclaw who was sitting near them. To emphasise his answer he nudged one of the plates that had magically appeared at lunchtime and were still littering the floor of the Great Hall.

Michael Corner who was sitting next to him ventured his own answer: "Sandstone?" He pointed towards the walls.

"Seats I wish we had?" griped Ron shifting uncomfortably on his beanbag. Hermione didn't even bother saying no to that one.

After another twenty minutes of this Alice really was beginning to get fed up. So, evidently, was Ron. "Oh, for the love of Merlin's woolly underpants!" He eventually exploded.

"Excuse me?" Hermione's eyebrows disappeared up under her fringe.

"I give up, we all give up; none of us has a clue what it is."

Hermione blinked at him owlishly for a second. "Sunlight," she answered pointing towards the enchanted ceiling as though this had been obvious all along.

"But you can't see sunlight!"

"Of course you can, how do you think you can see during the day?!" Hermione snapped back in what was undoubtedly the beginning of another customary argument between the two of them. Rolling her eyes with a sigh Alice sat back, fiddling with the end of her plait, as she tried to tune out their bickering. As Harry caught her eye he shook his head in despair, after several more minutes though he began to get fed up of the griping.

"Hermione," he laid a patient hand on her arm causing her to stop mid-sentence and look at him questioningly. "Does it really matter? It was only a game."

Opening her mouth to retort she suddenly seemed to think better of it and shut it again with a snap. "Alright," she shrugged. Alice had to try and suppress a grin again at the look on Ron's face as she said this. It must be the first time Hermione had ever backed down from an argument!

The upshot of this was however, that once Hermione and Ron stopped arguing none of them could really find anything else to talk about and so lapsed into another bored silence. After what seemed like a year, rather than only just a day, the staff came back into the Great Hall. With his typical eccentricity, and evident relief, Dumbledore informed them that there was no sign of Black and that they could all return to their dormitories.

"If only they'd given us a chance to collect our homework this morning," Hermione complained as they traipsed back up the stairs to Gryffindor Tower.

"Hermione," Harry grinned. "You can go for a day without working you know, and after all we've only had half a week of term. You do all the same classes as us and Ron and I have hardly any homework."

Alice frowned at this comment; surely Harry had made a mistake? There was no way Hermione could be doing exactly the same subjects as the boys because she had Arithmancy with Alice at the same time as the boys had Divination, not to mention the Ancient Runes classes they both took. She was about to say just that when she saw the flustered look on Hermione's face. It was almost as though… Alice wasn't sure what it meant, but she knew something was wrong; or perhaps not wrong exactly, just off kilter. Whatever it was she kept silent for the moment. Hermione would tell her when she was ready, wouldn't she?

The next day Black's trespass on the school grounds might well never have happened, other than the fact that it was the topic of conversation on everyone's lips. Alice did occasionally catch a teacher casting a beady eye in Harry's direction to make sure that he somehow hadn't vanished out a window since the last time that they had checked, but other than that life at the castle continued in much the same way that it always had. She was also very grateful for the fact that since Sunday Hagrid and Malfoy were no longer the main theme at dinner every night. That is not to say of course that ordinary life was not without its own excitement. At the end of the week they were given another highly unusual lesson in Defence Against the Dark Arts.

"Riddikulus," Alice quietly practiced the spell that Professor Lupin had just taught them as he finished explaining to them all what to do to the Boggart he had brought to class in a trunk. They had all just been treated to a display of Neville dressing Snape up as his grandmother - something both Harry and Ron had much appreciated - and now she was desperate to have a try. As she watched her classmates transform the Boggart into a succession of peculiar entities, she pondered on what her own might be. What was it that she was most afraid of? Failing? No, much as she strove to do well there were more important things than that. Death? Perhaps, but that was more because she would leave everyone behind rather than a fear of death itself. So was it something happening to those she loved then? She tried to think of something tangible and concrete that it might be, like Parvati's Mummy or the severed hand that was currently trying to chase Dean around the room, but if she was honest she couldn't. It wasn't that she wasn't scared of things she was, the Basilisk last year and the Dementor on the train had been terrifying. With those things though it had been the situation as much as the creatures which had frightened her.

Before she had a chance to ponder on her inner-most fears any longer she was suddenly shoved forwards and found herself face to face with the rolling, legless spider which Ron had conjured. Crack! Abruptly she found herself facing Hermione, but it couldn't be Hermione a tiny rational part of her brain insisted because Hermione was still standing behind her. As she watched, confused as to how this was meant to be frightening, Other Hermione spoke. "Help." Alice blinked. "Help me Alice," she repeated, her brown eyes widened in fear as some sort of glass box suddenly materialised around her. "Help;" except this time Alice couldn't hear the words, she could just see Other Hermione mouthing them.

Suddenly the Hermione in the box convulsed and began to scream - or at least she would have if there had been any sound. At the sight of her friend's face contorted and her mouth stretched wide in agony Alice took a step forward and tried to get to her, to help her somehow. No matter which way she tried however, she couldn't get past the translucent wall that surrounded her. Reminding herself that this was just a Boggart she raised her wand and pointed with a shaking hand towards it.

"R-R-Riddikulus," she stammered. Nothing happened so, with the class shouting encouragement behind her she went to try again. Crack! Suddenly the Other Hermione transformed into Harry, still in pain, still screaming, and still impossible to reach. "Riddikulus," Alice whispered. As she spoke she could feel a lone tear trickling slowly down her cheek as though it belonged to someone else. Crack! The Boggart became Ron. Crack! Now it was Neville, then George, then Fred. Alice froze, she just couldn't seem to make herself move to try and banish it any more. The sight of her friends all screaming in agony was too much. Seeming to sense her distress Professor Lupin suddenly leapt towards the Boggart which immediately transformed into a large silvery orb and was duly forced back into the wardrobe from which it had emerged.

"Alice," Lupin turned to lay a concerned hand on her shoulder and looked at her searchingly. "Are you alright?" Behind her the class had fallen totally silent.

"Yes sir," she whispered her gaze still focused on the wardrobe door but in her mind replaying the sights the Boggart had shown her.

"Ok everyone," he straightened up and addressed the rest of the class. "I think that's maybe enough for the practical demonstration today. If you can all just make your way back to the classroom, I'll have a quick word with Miss Evans and then we can finish up the lesson with some questions." With a frustrated groan the class began shuffling in the direction of the staffroom door. "Straight there mind," Professor Lupin added with a slight smile. "I don't want anyone taking any detours."

Once they had all gone he gently guided Alice towards a chair and sat her down. "Now," he spoke kindly, "do you want to tell me what that was all about?" She looked at him in confusion as she wiped the tears from her face, annoyed at herself that she had cried in front of a teacher.


"We couldn't see what was inside the box the Boggart became Alice, though… I'm guessing you could. What did you see? It's obviously upset you."

Staring at him for a long minute, at his concerned face, which despite the scars seemed kind and gentle, Alice felt herself opening up. "It was my friends sir, they were in pain - screaming - and I couldn't help them. I panicked. It was stupid."

"Not at all," he got up and filled a mug with water before tapping his wand and returning it to her. "Camomile tea," he nodded towards the now steaming liquid, "it's very calming. Drink it. Now," he sat down opposite her, "don't ever apologise for getting upset about your friends. The Boggart's very nature is to make us think our very worst fears are real. Even knowing that your friends were standing behind you I'm sure most people would have had the reaction that you have had. It's nothing to be embarrassed about."

Taking a sip as he spoke Alice could feel the warm liquid instantly refresh her and had to wonder if Lupin had put anything extra into it. Away from the immediacy of the Boggart she found that she was much calmer.

"Not many girls your age would fear not being to help their friends in need as their Boggart you know."

"Well…" Alice glanced up at him and smiled slightly, "we haven't exactly had a normal first few years at Hogwarts."

Lupin laughed at this. "So I've heard." After watching her curiously for a moment, during which time Alice had the strangest feeling that he wanted to say something else, he stood up. "Okay then, drink up your tea and if you are feeling up to it come back to class again. Alright?"

She nodded and once he had left the room gulped down the liquid as fast as she could without burning her tongue. She had already made a fool of herself in front of the entire class and she didn't want Lupin thinking she couldn't cope with the workload on top of that.

As she slipped into the Defence Against the Dark Arts room five minutes later she walked as quickly and unobtrusively as possible towards the free seat next to Hermione.

"Are you alright?" Her friend asked looking concerned as Harry and Ron swivelled in their seats too.

"Of course," Alice waved off their worried looks and tried to appear nonchalant.

"Of course you are," Harry whispered sarcastically. "What was your Boggart?"

"It was silly really, it doesn't matter now." She didn't want to upset any of them by telling them. They would only fuss. "Honestly," she added when they continued to look unconvinced. "I'm just sorry you two didn't get a chance to face it." Harry and Hermione shrugged in response.

"It's okay, as long as you are alright."

"I'm fine," she stressed. "Honestly." There was little else that her friends could do but accept this and turn back to listen to Professor Lupin who was in the midst of telling the class about a thirteenth century witch who had kept a Boggart as a pet and pretending not to notice the exchange going on in the corner of the classroom. When he caught her eye a few minutes later Alice smiled gratefully at him.

When the class finally ended a still slightly shaken Alice made her way from the room behind Ron and Harry who were both chattering loudly about Boggarts and amusing things they could be transformed into. Trying to smile and get over her own encounter with the creature Alice took a deep breath and tried to participate. "It's a shame you didn't get a go Hermione, what do you think your Boggart would have been? Hermione?" She turned to where her friend had been walking behind her not two moments before. "Hermione?"

"Is something wrong?" Neville approached her seeing her stop in the corridor.

"No," she shook her head looking around in confusion. "I just… I could have sworn Hermione was right behind me. Did you see her?"

"No, sorry."

Alice continued to scan the corridor, but even if Hermione had been there it was difficult to make out individual students amidst the throng of pupils milling about. "Oh well," she shrugged. Turning back she realised she had also lost Harry and Ron. "Honestly, you need to keep those three on a leash sometimes!"

"I'll walk up to the common room with you if you want," Neville offered.

"Thanks that would be good," she smiled at him as they started to walk and it dawned on Alice that she hadn't seen very much of Neville since term started and she said as much. "How was your summer anyway?"

"Not bad," he made a face which belied his statement. "Gran was as determined as ever that I should suddenly become brilliant overnight."

"You are brilliant," Alice said defensively.

Neville blushed. "Thanks. I know you're only saying that, but thanks."

"I'm not!" she protested. "Look at how you got rid of that Boggart back in class there. I couldn't do it, I just froze up."

"You can do it when it really counts though, I've seen you. I couldn't do that I'm not brave like you and Harry or my -" He suddenly stopped abruptly, went bright red, then deathliest white so quickly that Alice thought he was away to pass out. For a second his mouth worked as though he was trying to make sound come out and then, giving up on that he suddenly rushed off along the corridor.

"Neville!" Alice ran after him. "Neville, come back!" Catching up to him she grabbed his arm and swung him round. "What on earth was that all about?"

Neville gave her a desperate look as though to implore her not to make him say, but just as she was about to relent he heaved a huge sigh. "Alright then. Can we stop though?" He nodded towards a stone bench set under a high arched window that they were passing.

Sitting down Alice faced Neville and waited, slightly confused, but patient; he was obviously flustered about something but she wasn't going to press him for answers. For almost a full minute she watched him chew his lip, avoid eye contact, nervously smooth his robes and generally anything that delayed having to speak. Just as she thought she might have to end up prompting him he took a deep breath and looked up.

"I was going to say my parents." The words exploded out of him as though they had been bottled up tightly for a long time. Judging by the look of half relief in his eyes as the words came out she suspected they maybe had been.

"Your…" Alice replayed the conversation they had been having in her mind to remind herself of exactly when Neville had clammed up. "You wish you were brave like your parents?" It was with a stab of guilt that Alice realised that she had never asked exactly what had happened to Neville's parents. She knew he lived with his grandmother and that he never talked about them; she had just assumed that they were dead and that it was a touchy subject. It wasn't as though she talked about her own after all.

"Yes," Neville nodded miserably. "They were Aurors."


"When… When I was a baby…" he faltered. "You promise you won't tell anyone I told you this? Even Harry, Hermione and Ron?"

"I promise," she laid a hand on Neville's arm to calm him as he became agitated again. "I won't tell a soul."

Neville sniffed and took another deep breath; she suspected he was trying not to cry. "When I was a baby they were t-tortured. By Death Eaters," he spat the word as though it was poison on his tongue. Alice could only listen, horror-stricken, as he continued. "They thought they knew where You-Know-Who was. First they tortured my Dad, then when he wouldn't tell they started on my Mum. Gran was babysitting me at the time so I wasn't there… She told me afterwards that it was hours before they - before their minds snapped." He looked up at her for the first time since he had begun speaking. His eyes were tortured, but also seeking hers for a response to his outpouring. "They're both in St Mungo's now," he added, a touch defiantly.

Not knowing what to say Alice responded in the only way she could, by giving him a tight hug. "Thank you for telling me Neville."

"It feels good to have finally told someone," he sniffed after a while as she let him go and patted his hand. "I just didn't before because…"

"You weren't ready?" she suggested.

Neville nodded. "I was ashamed too I suppose - not of them," he hastened to add, "of myself. They were so brave, even before that night… and I'm… well."

"I think they'd be proud of you, you know." Alice smiled as he looked at her in surprise.

"What for?!"

"Well you just stood up in front of the entire class and managed to banish your worst fear. It takes guts to do that. I certainly couldn't. Last year," she began ticking these things off on her fingers as she spoke, "you helped Harry and Ron save the school. And the year before that," she had to raise her voice above his protestations, "we would all have been done for if you hadn't gone to get help for us. So, Neville Longbottom," she finished fiercely, "don't ever let me hear you say you're not brave when it really counts. You're in Gryffindor after all."

Neville seemed a little stunned by this outburst. "Ok," he said meekly after a while.

"Good." She stood up and looked expectantly at him. "Now, do you want to go up to the common room and find the others? By the way," she added in a quieter tone as they walked back along the corridor, "thanks for telling me."

After that Alice never mentioned their conversation and she kept her word to Neville by not telling any of her friends about it. When they reached the common room Hermione was waiting for them with Harry and Ron, her earlier disappearance having slipped Alice's mind in the light of Neville's revelation. That night she lay awake pondering his situation for some time. His disclosures certainly went a long way towards explaining why Neville was the way he was, and why his grandmother was so protective for that matter. Initially she had wondered why he would suddenly have brought it up after not saying anything for two years, but on consideration she suspected it may have had something to do with Sirius Black being spotted in the school grounds; after all the mere mention of anything connected to Voldemort and Death Eaters must remind him of his parents fate. In that respect he was rather like Harry. She'd been considering the similarities of her two friends' situations for hours when she realised it must be really late. Pushing aside the thick curtain which hung around her bed she reached for her watch and squinted at it in the moonlight. Two o'clock. She was going to be exhausted in the morning. With a sigh she settled herself back against her pillows and willed her mind to empty. At least it was Saturday tomorrow and she could afford to stay in bed a little longer.

After such a turbulent and eventful start to the term the next few weeks were surprisingly relaxed and crisis free. Their worries about Hagrid were assuaged slightly by the fact that three days before Hermione's birthday Malfoy returned to school as cocky, as arrogant, and as healthy as ever. Two years of practice meant they found it relatively easy to tune out his loud and pointed complaints to anyone who would listen about the state of the school and particular staff, not to mention what his father would do about it. That said Hermione and Alice did have to squash the boys' pleas to be allowed to punch him once or twice.

By the end of September Alice had come to a firm decision about two things. The first was that Ancient Runes was definitely one of her favourite subjects, along with Transfiguration and History of Magic. The second thing she was adamant about was that not only was Hermione hiding something from her, but that something very odd was going on. Her best friend would constantly disappear on her in corridors only to pop up again seconds later looking flustered and out of breath and whenever Alice went to ask her about it she would change the subject or fob her off.

Since that first Sunday of term there had been no further sign of Sirius Black, although Alice made sure she regularly checked the Map for his name. The unanimous opinion of the student body seemed to be that he was no longer in the area and a feeling of normality gradually returned to the school. For Alice and her friends however this was broken one Wednesday lunchtime with the arrival of the twins in the Great Hall. The minute Alice saw their faces she knew something was wrong.

"What is it?" She asked suspiciously. "You look serious; you two never look serious."

"We're not sure," Fred sat next to her and helped himself to a sandwich.

"That is, we know why we look serious," George added following suit, "but not the actual extent of the situation."

"You do know that you're not making sense again don't you?" Ron grumbled sourly. He'd been in a foul mood all morning since a fanged geranium had taken a dislike to him in Herbology. He still had puncture marks on his hand to prove it.

"We were just in Care of Magical Creatures -"

"Combing puffskeins like we've been doing all term now," George interjected with a grumble.

"Anyway, just before the end of class Hagrid got an owl; it looked pretty serious judging by his reaction. It was from the Ministry."

Alice looked up with a start as Harry dropped his spoon, Hermione gasped and Ron stopped chewing mid-mouthful. "Are you sure?" She looked intently from one twin to the other.

"Positive," they answered in unison.

"Do you reckon it's about Buckbeak?" Hermione asked looking worried.

"Must be," Harry asserted, "it couldn't be about anything else could it?"

"This is going to turn into another one of those lunchtimes where I end up missing out on food to go and clear up another mystery isn't it?" Ron asked looking comically forlorn.

"Oh come on," Hermione smiled at him, "it's not as though you don't eat your fill at every other available opportunity." She stood up from the table as Alice and Harry followed suit. "Come on, we better go and see what it's all about."

"Don't worry Ron," George called as they walked away. "We'll make sure we eat plenty in your honour."

They said very little as they made their way quickly down to Hagrid's cabin, each worrying about how he was coping with whatever bad news he had received.

"Surely though," Harry reasoned as they came within sight of the cabin, "they can't do anything yet. I mean they haven't even found Buckbeak."

"Maybe that's what it is, maybe they have found him." Alice shared a worried look with her friends. If the Ministry had found the Hippogriff Hagrid was going to be devastated.

Steeling themselves for whatever reaction was awaiting them they quickly approached and knocked on Hagrid's door. Nothing. Inside they could hear Fang barking madly as usual, but no one came to answer.

"Maybe he didn't hear us?" Ron mused as he knocked again.

"With all the racket Fang's making I'm sure he knows someone's here."

As they waited Alice tried to peer in through the window, but the shabby curtains were pulled tightly over the glass and there were no signs of life. By the time she came back round to the front door to point this out Harry was bent almost double with his ear pressed against the wood, waving at her to be quiet.

"He's definitely in there," he reported after a moment, "I can hear him moving about. HAGRID!" He suddenly straightened up and pounded on the door. "We know you're in there and we want to talk to you. Let us in!" He waited impatiently for two seconds before pounding on the door again. Eventually Hermione pulled gently on his arm.

"He obviously doesn't want to see anyone; maybe we should just -" Her words were cut off as a muffled curse sounded from inside, followed by the stomping of heavy boots, the creak of a rusty lock and finally the door swung open to reveal a very red-eyed Hagrid.

"You better come in then," he croaked in a sore and tired voice. As they all shuffled into the gloomy cabin after him Alice glanced at Hermione with raised eyebrows. Her friend just shrugged in response.

"Hagrid what happened?" Harry asked earnestly sitting opposite him at the table whilst Alice went to open the curtains and allow some light to enter into the situation. "We heard you got a letter from the Ministry."

"Yeah," Hagrid sniffed loudly, but declined to elaborate.

"It's not about Buckbeak is it?" Hermione asked after an awkward pause. "They're not going to punish him for what happened are they? I mean they wouldn't…" she tailed off helplessly looking at her friends for support, not wanting to say exactly what she feared they might do to the Hippogriff.

"No, it wasn't abou' Beaky." Hagrid brushed at his bleary eyes with the back of an enormous hand before shaking himself like a dog after a swim and straightening slightly in his chair. "It was abou' me."

Hermione, who had just opened her mouth to speak again, stopped and gaped at him for one long wordless moment.

"They said tha' I might not be fit ter teach anymore. What with…" He tailed off but they all knew what he was referring to. "There's goin' ter be an inquiry. Whether I can keep me job or not," he finally looked up at them as they gazed at him in appalled silence. Finally Hermione, always the first to regain her voice, spoke up.

"But they can't do that surely. I mean it was an accident, and Malfoy goaded Buckbeak so if it was anyone's fault it was his. There was no lasting damage -" Alice felt that was slightly beside the point but didn't say so, "- and we'll back you up. They can't do that!"

"It was your first day as a teacher anyway," Ron chipped in helpfully, "surely they would take that into account.

"No," Hagrid shook his head forcefully again, looking every inch the wild animal. "You don't understand, it's not jus' my teachin' job I could lose. If the Ministry decide I'm irresponsible or a danger to students or… Well I could lose me job as Gamekeeper too. Lose this house. I'd have ter leave Hogwarts. I don't have anywhere else to go."

"We won't let them do that Hagrid," Harry whispered fiercely.

"Of course we won't. There must be something in the Library, precedents for this sort of thing; we can help you prepare a defence for your case. Don't worry." Alice and Ron nodded in agreement to Hermione's statement. She didn't care what reservations she had had earlier about the advisability of Hagrid's class. If her friend was being threatened they would all make sure they did everything in their power to help him.

A/N: Hope you liked. Please R&R!