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In Libris Libertum
In Books, Freedom
The Hop-Gobblers Will Get You If You Don’t Watch Out, Part Two By… 
31st-Oct-2004 08:55 pm
Bronze Phoenix
The Hop-Gobblers Will Get You If You Don’t Watch Out, Part Two
By Jelsemium/ Jill Weber
For Jedi-won ;-)

I suggest you read part one first. :-)



Now Hermione was in her element… the Library. The Gryffindors plus Luna had descended on the Restricted Section like the Ride of the Valkyries. Any objections Madam Pince might have harbored died quickly at Professor McGonagall’s severe expression.

“Here!” Hermione said with grim satisfaction. “The Stealers of Children… they favor orphans, especially orphans with no siblings. They go by many names, and are one of the few creatures who are dangerous to name, as their name will draw their attention to you.”

“Their name being?” Ginny asked.

“Starts with ‘T’,” Luna said, not at all dreamily. “Second letter is ‘R’.”

“Ends in ‘ow,’” Neville added.

“Don’t say it,” Luna added. “We don’t want them to know that we’re on to them. Call them Hop-gobblers, or Grey People of the Forest,”

“Or Moss Men,” Neville added.

“How can we defeat them?” Ginny asked.

“We can’t, Miss Granger,” Prof. McGonagall said. “They are far too powerful for us to fight them.”

“Then we have to trick them,” Ron said. “Suggestions?”

“Tam Lin,” Hermione said. “Burd Janet was said to have rescued him from Faery by grabbing him and holding on to him while he went through a series of frightening transformations.”

Much to her surprise, Luna nodded in agreement. “The rescue will have to be in three stages… First, get him from the Hop-Gobblers.”

“Second, survive the transformations?” Ginny asked.

Luna nodded.

“What’s the last step?” Neville asked.

“Escape the Hoppers ourselves,” Ron said dryly.

“That might be a bit tricky,” Luna said mildly.

“According to folk-lore,” Hermione said worriedly. “Once we have Harry, the Hop-Gobblers should have to leave us alone.”

“Much as it pains me to admit it, Miss Granger,” Prof. McGonagall said. “You can’t believe everything you read.”

“Wait,” Ginny said. “Isn’t the first step finding Harry?”

“We will need to wait at the crossroads,” Prof. McGonagall said gravely. “A procession of riders will pass, Harry will be among them. One of us will have to grab him from his steed and hold on to him while he transforms.”

“Us?” Hermione asked in astonishment.

“Us,” Prof. McGonagall said firmly. “I know better than to try to leave any of you behind.”

“Yes, professor,” the students murmured.

“We still have to determine exactly where the crossroads will be,” Neville said. “According to these books, this won’t be an intersection between two regular roads. One of the roads will be a fairy road… Meaning, it will only appear on Hallowe’en.”

“Like I said,” Ginny put in. “Step one is finding Harry.”

“There has to be a hint in here, somewhere,” Hermione said, gesturing at the book stacks. “All we have to do is find the right page.”

“This could take a while,” Ron said.

***

They couldn’t spend all day in the library, much as they wanted to. There was the very real possibility that someone at Hogwarts could inform the Hop-Gobblers that their deception had been discovered. They still didn’t know who had betrayed Harry to the Hop-Gobblers to begin with.

The story that was Harry had fallen victim to an unknown curse. No one was surprised when his friends started spending all their spare time in the library. The Slytherins had a field day with the situation.

“So, how’s Potty doing today?” Draco Malfoy jeered as the red-eyed Gryffindors filed into Potions.

Ron snarled at him.

“Five points from Gryffindor for discourtesy,” sneered Snape.

Those weren’t the only points that Gryffindor lost during that class. Thirty more points disappeared when Neville’s headache potion gave Snape a migraine.

***

Late in October, Ron gave up on the library and decided to try another possible source of information, their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.

“Professor Firenze? Can I talk to you after class?” Ron asked.

The blond centaur gave Ron a curious look. “Certainly,” he said.

After class, Hermione went on to the library, and Ron came straight to the point. “Do you know anything about the Grey People of the Forest?”

“Taker of Foals,” sapphire eyes narrowed. “This is beyond you, Ronald Weasley. I suggest you leave them alone, lest you attract their attention.”

“They have Harry.”

Prof. Firenze’s eyes widened. “This is the ‘curse’ that Harry Potter has suffered under since September?”

“Yeah, only he’s not suffering here. It was a stock that collapsed at Hermione’s birthday party. It turned back into bark and leaves.”

“And twigs?”

“Yes,” Ron cocked his head. “Why?”

“Those twigs may be the key to finding Potter,” Prof. Firenze said. “Do you know how to make a dowsing rod?”

“I will if you teach me,” Ron replied.

“Then meet me here after dinner,” Prof. Firenze said.

***

“This dowsing rod will lead us to the Fairy Path,” Ron told the others.

“Great,” Ginny said. “Now we need to find the human path that will intersect with it.”

“I have an idea,” Neville said. “If Firenze knew about the Crossroads, then maybe Hagrid will, too.”

“There’s not much that happens in the forest that Hagrid doesn’t know about,” Hermione agreed.

“Well, what are we waiting for?”

Ginny and Luna were the next to have Care of Magical Creatures. After class, they volunteered to help Hagrid clean up after the Great Spotted Beeblebrox.

“Sorry abou’ the smell,” Hagrid said apologetically. “He got a little over-excited at the sight of … of…”

“All those fifth-year appetizers?” Ginny asked dryly. She rubbed at the sucker marks on her arms.

“Erm, well, so… what can I do ter repay yeh?” Hagrid’s rather clumsy attempt to change the subject fit right into Ginny’s plan.

“Where are the Crossroads in the forest?” Ginny asked.

“The… I dunno what yer talkin’ abou’,” Hagrid said uneasily.

“The Crossroads in the forest where the fairy path will intersect with a mortal path so the Hop-Gobblers can process to their altar and sacrifice to their deities,” Luna said grimly.

Luna’s uncharacteristic behavior shocked Hagrid into blurting – “Yeh don’ want ter get involved with them sort!” He wrung his oversized hands. “They’re dangerous! Yeh don’ know…”

“They’ve got Harry,” Ginny said flatly.

“I’ll draw yeh a map,” Hagrid finished.

Comments 
1st-Nov-2004 01:40 am (UTC)
Some more! Great!
I love the breathless pace and the urgent momentum. It conveys the feelings of Harry's friends very well as they search for ways to rescue him. How aware is Harry of what is happening to him? I s'pose I'll have to wait for another slice.
*Makes big puppy eyes*
Cara
1st-Nov-2004 07:08 am (UTC) - Thanks!
Thanks for the kind words on my Halloween story! :) I'll try to have the next slice posted after work today. (The way this story has been acting, I can't promise anything. :( )
13th-Nov-2004 08:47 am (UTC) - Hi! from Ozma
I came over to your journal to thank you for the lovely postcards you sent to everyone in my family, and found the first two parts of a neat Halloween story! What a great surprise! My favorite bit in the first two chapters was "They've got Harry." "I'll draw yeh a map." As always you handle the characters perfectly. It's especially good to see how well Hermione and Luna can work as a team. I'm looking forward to reading more...

Ozma
13th-Nov-2004 03:08 pm (UTC) - Re: Hi! from Ozma
You're welcome for the postcards! Glad you liked them!

This story is unfortunately on hold as I participate in NaNoWriMo -- National Novel Writing Month. 50,000 words in 30 days doesn't leave me much time for other writing. (I'll have something done for Wapa, though.)

The good news is that I'm working on A Sirius Situation for NaNoWriMo, so this looks like it's got a good chance of getting finished!

After A Sirius Situation and the Halloween story, I want to get back to work on Squib Fall. (What say? It's far too good a story to abandon!)
14th-Nov-2004 04:41 am (UTC) - Re: Hi! from Ozma
Hi again!

I've been seeing references to NaNoWriMo around the net but had no idea what it was. Thanks for clearing that up that mystery for me.

"A Sirius Situation" is a worthy choice for you to work on for NaNoWriMo. It's also good to know that you're going to finish the Halloween story too!

I'm sorry, I'm all tapped out on "Squib Fall." Ever since OotP came out, I haven't been able to write any Potterfic at all. The time that I used to spend writing is now usually filled up with beta-reading. But if you want to, you're perfectly welcome to finish the story without me... you're wonderful at handling all the characters and the story couldn't be in better hands than yours.

Just read your other message... you're very welcome for the kind words on the Halloween story!

See you in Wapa!

13th-Nov-2004 03:10 pm (UTC) - Re: Hi! from Ozma
PS -- Thanks for the kind words on my Halloween story!
2nd-Dec-2004 07:56 am (UTC) - part 3?
Anonymous
Hey Jill, did NaNoWriMo push this to the back burner? It's really well done. So far. Not to imply that the rest won't be, but it's fun to tease.

thanks!
...art
22nd-Dec-2004 08:42 pm (UTC) - Re: part 3?
Nice seeing you again, Art!

Yes, NaNoWriMo did push this to the back burner. I'm hoping to get back to it this week. Maybe. With any luck.

Good luck, I mean.

22nd-Dec-2004 01:04 pm (UTC) - OK on to chapter 3!
Very good Jels! Now get busy and write more!
22nd-Dec-2004 08:43 pm (UTC) - Re: OK on to chapter 3!
Hi! Glad you like this!
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