Grace Foster

Truckles

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OOC: This takes place the first month of First Term. :blush:
 

 

It was bright sunny day, unseasonable for September in Scotland, when Jake and Grace made their way from the castle across the wide lawn on their way to the forest. The first leaves of autumn were just beginning to change to gold, and from this perspective the dark forest looked anything but dark.

 

“It was right over there,” Grace said, pointing to a break in the tree line. “See that big sycamore with the broken limb? We were under that, just through those bushes. If you’da shouted from here we would have heard you. That’s how close we were to the castle. It was hardly even in the forest if you think about it. And for that, I lost twenty points and got two weeks of detention.”

 

“Oh but, no! ‘You can’t go in the forest,” Grace said, putting her hands to her cheeks in mock alarm. “It wouldn’t be safe! What if something were to happen to you?’”

 

“I was right there!” Grace said, gesturing again. “But here we are, going much much further into the forest today for these damned bowtruckles. And that’s okay, because we have a permission slip. A permission slip,’ she repeated. “That’s the difference between getting a detention and getting extra credit. A frickin’ permissions slip. Like that’s going to save us from the big bad forest.”

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Ever since they’d found out what their assignment was going to be, Grace had been furious. She had ranted the whole trip over to the treeline about just how insane the rules were, and even though Jake hadn’t answered her he was no happier about it than she was. Sure, he’d been excited at first when he’d heard they were going to be watching the bowtruckles. After all, they had got to see them in class last year, and he had liked them then. He never thought though that the ONLY ones that they could study were deep in the forbidden forest. And even worse, that they were going to be going in alone.

 

“Aren’t you coming too…?” Jake had asked Professor Qin, as she told the two of them their tasks. He had stared back at her, waiting for her to reveal that it was just a test – to make sure they knew the rules and weren’t going to break them, that way she was sure she could trust them. She had assured Jake that it was not. That’s what the permission slip was for.

 

Jake sized up the forest in front of him as Grace continued her tirade. On such a bright and sunny day it didn’t look very special at all…just like a normal forest, without the usual ominous darkness. Still, it didn’t really make it any less scary, even if it was a different KIND of scary. Because even when the forest LOOKED harmless, Jake knew that it was anything but. It was like a happy mask, trying to lure people in, make them feel safe….and then it would get them.

 

“I…I don’t get it!” Jake finally spoke. “It’s the forbidden forest. Forbidden…That means we’re not supposed to go in,” he said shakily. Grace was RIGHT…it didn’t make any sense at all. “Don’t ya know what’s in there? I mean…it’s just like you said! What’s this gonna do when they eat us?” Jake asked, waving around the slip of paper

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Grace stopped fuming and side-eyed Jake. “I think you’re missing my point,” she said. “What I’m saying is that there’s nothing all that scary in there. I mean if there were, Professors would stop taking us in there for friggin field trips, and Qin--well she wouldn’t have sent two fourteen-year-olds into the forest with nothing but a--” She gestured at the signed permission Jake was holding. “--a glorified hall pass.”

 

“We’ve got nothing to worry about, Jake,” Grace said more gently. “That’s what I’m getting at. They make these rules and they give us detentions but then when it’s convenient they ignore them. So obviously, nothing’s gonna eat us. There’s nothing in there Qin doesn’t think two fourth years can handle. They just say it’s forbidden to keep us from wandering in and skipping classes or something. I bet no one even asks to see that thing from Qin. It’s self-policing, see. Get us scared enough and they don’t have to have patrols. I’m not falling for it anymore though, and neither should you.”

 

They had reached the place near the stables where Professor Qin had led the class into the forest. There was no more walking along the tree line. They’d have to go in.

 

“You ready, then?” Grace asked, readjusting the strap on her book bag, so that both hands were free. “We can draw our wands if it would make you feel better,” she told him.

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Jake stared forward, looking deep into the forest as Grace spoke. Any minute now they'd have to go inside...Jake looked at his friend warily, considering all of the things she had said, and not yet answering her question.

 

“So…so you mean all those things that everybody says…ya know…about the monsters and stuff? It’s just to scare us?” Jake asked, feeling a little silly and looking down at the ground as he did. If that WAS what they were trying to do, it was sure working.

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Grace smiled sympathetically at Jake and then shrugged. “How many times have professors taken us into the forest during class?" she asked. When Jake didn't answer immediately she answered for him. "It's a lot, right? And just how many monsters have we seen so far?"

 

"I promise if we see a basilisk or a forest troll we can run," she said wryly. "Is it a deal?"

 


Edited by Grace Foster

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"Um....none?" Jake offered weakly, with a small shrug. When Grace said it that way - with so much confidence - it SEEMED to make sense. Why would Professor Qin let two fourteen-year-olds go in there by themselves if it was so dangerous? Surely she wouldn’t want them to get hurt. And Grace WAS right a lot of the time…seeing things that Jake didn’t always see. She wasn’t always right though…and Jake thought that probably she was right less often than he had used to think that she was.

 

"I promise if we see a basilisk or a forest troll we can run," she said wryly. "Is it a deal?"

 

Jake didn’t know what to believe, but what choice did he have? This was their internship, and Jake wanted to work with magical creatures when he grew up. If he quit now, he might not get another chance. He had to trust Grace. Slowly, he drew his wand, and watched to make sure his friend was doing the same. “Okay…deal," he said finally. "But...even if we HEAR a forest troll we have to run, okay?”

 

When Grace nodded her head, Jake took a deep breath (and ignored the fact that she had rolled her eyes). "Alright, I'm ready," he said, and then cautiously he entered the treeline. 


As they walked, Jake glanced back and watched as the last sights of the open Hogwarts grounds disappeared behind him. Then there were only trees. Lots of trees, in every direction. Jake thought of the story of Hansel and Gretel, who went off into the woods leaving behind a trail of bread crumbs to find their way back. They had no such trail. “Hey Grace…are you sure we’re gonna be able to find the way back out?” Jake asked. “Ya know I read a book once about a magic forest that turns you around until you get lost...” he mumbled, walking a little too closely to Grace.

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Grace tried not to chuckle. If she heard a forest troll she was definitely running, but she didn't want to say anything else that might convince Jake that there might be trolls in the forest. Instead she drew her wand, though she wasn't concerned that she'd need it for anything defensive. It was such a bright pretty day, how could anything go wrong?

 

As they entered the woods Grace's mood improved dramatically and she grew calm even as Jake's anxiety level rose. Being out in nature brought back many fond memories for Grace and she found herself thinking that she needed to do this sort of thing more often and not spend so much time holed up in the castle. 

 

“Hey Grace…are you sure we’re gonna be able to find the way back out?” Jake asked. 

 

"I'm sure," she reassured him. "Me mam and me used to spend a lot of time in the wilderness. She'd leave me alone sometimes and test me finding my way back. I've got an excellent sense of direction. Even if I didn't though, there's a spell. I'll show you how to do it on the way back if you like."

 

"Hey look! I think this is the fairy place she showed us up ahead," Grace said. The undergrowth was thicker and Grace left the path to push through a thicket and sure enough they found themselves in the midst of a cluster of glowing fairies.

 

"You wanna look for some fairy eggs before we go on to the Wiggen Grove?" Grace asked. 

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Jake was relieved to be reminded that Grace was an expert at finding her way out of the wilderness. He should have thought of that before...On the one hand, if the forest was really magic that might not help (had Grace's mum brought Grace into magic forests?). But Grace said she knew a spell, and what better way to fight magic than with magic?  Grace seemed so confident that it kind of started to rub off, at least a little. If anything, seeing Grace with her wand out made Jake feel a little bit better than even having out his own, though he wouldn't tell that to her. "Ok, that's a good idea," Jake said, since he did wanna learn that spell later. He looked around and suddenly began to recognize just where they were. 

 

The good news was that they had to be on the right track. This was where they had gone first in Care of Magical Creatures. The chance to look for fairy eggs was enticing, and though Jake looked up and watched the glimmering orbs of light for a while, there was still something nagging in the back of his head that wasn't gonna go away until they made their way to their destination. "Um....how 'bout we do it on the way back, okay?" he suggested. 'If we make it back...' he thought silently. 

 

Deeper into the forest they walked, Jake counting his footsteps to see how far they had come. The sun still poked through the trees, but the leaves were getting thicker, and there were dark spots where you could no longer feel its glow. There was an evil feeling in the air…but when Jake looked at Grace’s face he saw no sign of fear there, so he tried not to let her see that he wasn’t feeling so brave.

 

It had been a while since they’d talked. Jake could hear Grace's relaxed breaths, and his own sharp ones. He listened to their footsteps in the grass, rustling on fallen leaves. It was just about all he heard. The last time they had come in the forest their whole class had been there. Now with just the two of them, it was quiet…really quiet.

 

“Um s-so…bowtruckles are really cool…” Jake said finally. “They’re shy and small…but they protect the trees. If anybody tries to touch ‘em they can attack with sharp claws. So we have to be really careful but they’re actually really peaceful most of the time,” the boy recited, clutching his wand in one hand and their permission slip in the other.  “I-I guess you know that from class…um…but we’ll probably learn more things when we study them, right?” he asked, while looking around and straining to see if there was anything moving, hidden between the trees.

 

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Grace shrugged when Jake didn't want to dally to look for eggs. She supposed it wan't their job to feed the bowtruckles, only to observed them. If the bowtruckles couldn't find their own food they were in trouble. 

 

They continued on their way, the undergrowth growing thicker at this point. Grace could tell Jake was nervous so she made an extra point to seem impervious to any concerns. Truthfully she wasn't too worried. She probably would have been if she hadn't had her wand, but she figured that any animals likely to be in the forest would be cowed by a revulsion jinx or a lightning hex. Had the Fourth Years had better Defense Against The Dark Arts training she might have known better, but all the field trips into the forest had taken away most of her caution.

 

Grace was actually enjoying the sounds and smells of the forest and growing quite relaxed when Jake's voice cut through the stillness, providing a sudden incongruous commentary on the wonders of bowtruckles. Grace couldn't help but laugh. "Jake, I've read the text book too," she said. Grace was less interested in bowtruckes than Jake was. She would have preferred being assigned with something fun like nifflers. Bowtruckles seemed a bit like glorified walking sticks to Grace, but they did have some interesting features. "I think the Wiggen Grove is pretty cool," she said. "If I wasn't scared of getting my eyes scratched out I'd want to harvest some of that wood. It would be hella useful."

 

"Hey," I think this is it," Grace said as they came to a clearing. "We need to be careful now not to spook them. If they think we're a threat it'll take forever to get their trust again."

 

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Jake sighed with relief when the grove came within sight. Jake recognized the sight of the Wiggentrees, and that meant that they'd arrived. They were deep within the forest now...and if anything awful came along, Jake was going to have to trust Grace to get them out...but they had made it. Somehow, they'd made it.

 

 

"Hey," I think this is it," Grace said as they came to a clearing. "We need to be careful now not to spook them. If they think we're a threat it'll take forever to get their trust again."

 

"Don't worry," Jake said calmly. "I got this." 

 

The small boy moved forward slowly into the grove, letting his feet fall lightly upon the grass in a near-silent pace. The oppressive feel of the forest melted away as he walked further into the clearing. It was hard to see bowtruckles, since they were so little and they blended in with the trees, so Jake was careful with each footstep just in case one of them had ventured far from home. 

 

"Look," Jake whispered breathlessly, pointing up towards the tree. He crouched down and motioned Grace to come closer. You had to look really hard, but when you did, and the light caught the tree just the right way, you could see them. Little green stick creatures moving along the bark. They could study them from here - watch them from a distance. Jake slipped off his bag and rifled through it for parchment. Just then, Jake's gaze drifted down. There he saw, frozen amongst the grass, one of the little bowtruckles themselves, looking up at this large stranger in its land. 

 

"Hi..." Jake said softly, lying down onto his stomach in the grass. The bowtruckle eyed him with trepidation and Jake looked back. He felt his heartbeat quicken just a bit as he remembered how sharp the bowtruckles' claws could be, but he was sure he'd be ok. He had met them before. The bowtruckles didn't want to hurt them. They just got afraid. That was why they attacked. But Jake wasn't going to scare them, because there was no way he would ever hurt them or the Wiggentree. "Do ya remember me...? We visited you last year with our class." Jake explained softly. 

 

Resting his elbows on the grass, and his chin on his hand, Jake continued talking slowly to the little creature. "You and your friends let me have the Wiggenbark. You let me keep some that had fallen off the tree. Now I keep it next to my bed, to help protect me from danger. But I guess you guys don't know what beds are, do you...?" Jake asked, looking up at the tree. "It's kinda like my tree I guess," Jake said, smiling a little. "How's your tree doing?"

 

The little bowtruckle seemed to be relaxing at the gentle sound of Jake's voice, but when the boy held out a finger for the bowtruckle to perch on if he desired, the creature drew back. Jake let his finger come back in. This bowtruckle was shyer than the ones he had talked to last time, and smaller too. Jake wished they had brought some fairy eggs after all.

 

"Hey...I know you're scared, I get scared too...but we're not here to hurt you, I promise. We're just here to watch you. My name's Jake and that's my best friend Grace. Will you let us stay? Please?" he asked delicately.

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"Don't worry," Jake said calmly. "I got this." 

 

It was all Grace could do not to laugh, not out of any mockery of Jake's words, but out of pure joy in witnessing his change of attitude. It wasn't the first time Grace had seen Jake go into "creature mode" as she thought of it. Jake had a natural sensitivity with animals. However the juxtaposition of his fretting about the supposed dangers of the forest with this sudden calmer more confident Jake was striking in a way that Grace could only wonder at.

 

She let him take the lead, following carefully only once he'd signaled her. She nodded as he pointed out the creatures and chose a vantage point for viewing though her natural inclination would have been to get closer.  She too began unloading her supplies. She'd brought a notebook for her observations of course, but also her omniocculars, and (because she had no idea how long this might take) snacks. 

 

She was tearing into a bag of crisps when she realized Jake was talking to someone other than her. One of the bowtruckles was closer than anticipated. Grace looked about her to make sure she hadn't stepped on or knelt on any of them, because that would be a bad way to start the internship, but no, it turned out Jake's bowtruckle was the only one that had strayed off the bark of the wiggentrees. 

 

Grace watched in some amusement as Jake spoke to the thing. He was very gentle and sweet and Grace was only slightly surprised to witness how unselfconscious he was about chatting with a barely sentient creature as if he were speaking to a person. 


"Hey Jake," Grace whispered, "I don't think they understand English. They aren't owls."

 

 


Edited by Grace Foster

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Grace's objection gave Jake some pause, but 'not speaking English' had never really stopped Jake from talking to things before. The boy had often spoken to his stuffed animals, and they didn't even talk at all. These were real animals, and Jake thought that the creatures understood a lot more than people thought they did...just so long as you talked to them in the right way. 

 

"Sure they do..." Jake said softly, looking down at the bowtruckle. "Just look at him. He can understand me. He's just shy." Jake knew a lot about what that was like.

 

As Grace munched on some crisps, Jake spoke to the bowtruckle, lightly sketching on his notebook as he did. He talked about a lot of things...the castle, their friends, their task. And as he talked, he watched the other creatures on the tree. Here in the safety of the Wiggengrove, it was hard to remember what about the forest had ever been so scary. The area was quiet, but it was peaceful, not ominous like before. There was a feeling like nothing bad would ever happen to you, and maybe, Jake thought, that was true. After all, the wiggenbark could ward off evil. Nothing would touch them here. Maybe their internship wasn't gonna be so bad after all.  

 

"I think I'm gonna call you Trucky," Jake said, looking down at the shy little bowtruckle with a smile. "How do ya like that?" He barely heard Grace's snort. 

 


Edited by Jake Morent

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Four Months Later

January, Fourth Year 

 

“I can’t WAIT to see trucky again!” Jake chattered on the way down to breakfast, taking the steps two at a time. “And the rest of them of course,” he added, not wanting anybody to be left out.

 

Jake was in a bright mood this morning – the day had come to go back into the forest to reunite with the bowtruckles. After the horrors of last term the last thing Jake had wanted to do was go off into the Forbidden Forest by himself, and the prospect hadn’t seemed to appeal much more to Grace either. But time had gone by, and as the months rolled on, things changed. The night-time was still a place of horror, but the days seemed brighter, and the death eater horrors a distant memory as the two friends walked the corridors.

 

Maybe it was the chance to see the bowtruckles again, or maybe it was because Grace was spending a whole lot more time with Columbia lately, and the prospect of getting to spend the day with his friend, just the two of them, had Jake thrilled. But Jake hadn’t felt so excited in a long time.

 

“And ya know what I was thinking? Why don’t we have a picnic?” Jake chirped eagerly. “Ya know it can be fun. My mum and dad and me used to have them in the park all the time. Lots of times I would just lie on the blanket and draw or read or something, but it was really fun being outside on a nice day, just all of us together. Why don’t we take it there? We can bring sandwiches for the bowtruckles too. I dunno if they eat them….” Jake pondered, tapping his chin with his hand, “But…that’s what we can study, right? We can take notes and see if they do. Maybe they’ll like them! I bet ya they’ve never had ‘em before, that’s for sure.” Jake said.

 

“And we can take some games and stuff, maybe play wizard chess. We can just stay out all day until dinner, just us and the truckles, doesn’t it sound fun?” he asked Grace hopefully.

 

“OH yeah, I got something really cool to show you, ready? I worked on it all night.” Jake said, stopping for a moment to leaf through his backpack. “Tada! Here we go,” he said, holding out an empty book. He opened up to the front page and beamed as he showed off his drawing – a perfect little bowtruckle that was charmed to move around, with shimmering text underneath. “Bowtruckles: An illustrated guide,” Jake recited, reading the print. “By Jake Morent and Grace Foster.” He said proudly.

 

“I figure we can turn in our research as a book like this. So, we can draw what we see – or I can – and we can write about it on the page next to it. Cool, right? Im really getting the hang of the drawing charms. I wish I could’ve practiced over Christmas…but it looks good right?”

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"You wanna have a picnic in January?" Grace asked, cracking up. Well why not? It wasn't the first time she'd planned an outing in the Forbidden Forest in the middle of winter, and at least this one wasn't a sleepover. "Sure. Let's do it," she agreed happily. "Though I don't even know if the bowtruckles will be out today. Do they hibernate?" she asked. "I guess that's something we need to know. And also I bet you're right that they've never had sandwiches. Let's bring a lot!"

 

She smiled at all his plans. Jake was a wonder when it came to animals. She imagined that the games and stuff he planned to bring were not just for the two of them either, any more than the sandwiches were. Jake probably thought he could teach the bowtruckles Wizard Chess. Who knew? He had such a way with animals Grace wouldn't have been too surprised if he could. Trucky would probably be beating her before the day was over if Jake had anything to say about it.

 

"It sounds great, Jake," she said. "There's nothing I'd rather do."

 

But Jake wasn't done with his surprises and the thing he had to show her was every bit as cool as promised.

 

"Merlin's balls!" Grace exclaimed. She covered her mouth with her hand, remembering belatedly that Jake didn't like her swearing. "Oops. I mean... did you really do this? This is bloody brilliant!" She gingerly ran a finger over the text where he'd included her name along with his.

 

"It looks wonderful," she assured him. "Your animation charm is so good now. You should show Professor Quayle. She'd be impressed. Aw, but you better not let me draw in your book. I'd just mess it up."

 

"I'm not sure what good I bring to the project," she said honestly. She caught herself and laughed self-consciously. "I mean maybe I can fight off lions and tigers and bears or something, while you draw the bowtruckles. Or, I know! I can be the official sandwich carrier. You just point and tell me what to do, Jake. I'll do all the heavy lifting while you direct." 

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"It sounds great, Jake," she said. "There's nothing I'd rather do."

 

"Nothing...?" Jake repeated, wiping a hand over his mouth to hide a stupid smile that stayed longer than it should have. Did she really mean that...? It wasn't the point of course. But sometimes Jake didn't know if she...well...it was just really nice to hear that, that was all. Things were kinda different now that Columbia and Grace were getting along a lot better. Jake was happy that SHE was happy (wasn't he...?), it was just...sometimes he missed when it was just the two of them. Today was gonna be the best...!

 

As proud as Jake was as he presented his drawing, his eyes still searched Grace's hopefully for a reaction. And when Grace's eyes lit up at the sight of it, Jake felt so good that he didn't even mind the swearing.

 

"It looks wonderful. Your animation charm is so good now. You should show Professor Quayle. She'd be impressed."

 

Jake's jaw was hurting...was he smiling again? He really had to stop. It was just that it was so great having Grace at school. He was proud of himself, but it meant a lot more that he could share it with her. Especially after what had happened last term...

 

"No, no. You're not supposed to do heavy lifting after what happened, and anyways the sandwiches won't be so heavy," Jake said, not quite picking up on the expression in his excitement. "You're a lot more than a sandwich carrier anyways...It's our book. We're a team." he said firmly. Sure, Grace wasn't the best drawer. OR the best speller...but she was good at lots of things. They just had to find the right job. Hmm...

 

Suddenly Jake brightened up. "Hey...I hereby deem you Research Manager Grace Foster" the boy said with a grin, poking her shoulder. "You're good at organizing stuff, and I bet ya can think of a lot of cool things to investigate. Like the hibernating thing! Ya know, you can figure out what we're missing, and the kinds of things we're gonna need. And if we have to present our findings to Professor Qin besides just the book, then you can talk. You're way better than me at talking to people..."  

 

"I'm Lead Researcher and Lead Artist Jake Morent. This is my expedition," Jake said, pointing to himself with dramatic flair, and grinning playfully. "Oh hey, ya know what? If you bring your omnioculars, you can be Lead Photographer too."

 

Satisfied with the division of labor, Jake finally reached the bottom of the staircase.

 

"After breakfast, I'll get the sandwiches. You can get the games, and a blanket. Hm....We'd better bring a lot of different sandwiches, so we can figure out which ones they like the best. That might be important..." Jake said thoughtfully, as they walked off down the hall. 


Edited by Jake Morent

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