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Fear is a Riddle

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“Constant Vigilance!” Snapped Professor Moody as he stalked in front of his third year class. His fake eye swiveled in his head to grant a view of the assembled Gryffindors and Ravenclaws, who were watching the Auror and rattling cupboard he stood before in complete, slightly terrified, silence.

“When dealing with the Dark Arts, and dark creatures you must always be aware and informed.” He came to a stop next to the cupboard, wooden leg causing a loud thump to echo through the classroom. “Now. Who can tell me what this” he gave a firm smack to the side of the cupboard, causing its rattling to subside slightly “is.”

“Is it an Umbugular Slashkilter?” Luna asked after a few seconds of silence. She’d not seen any this unruly, but her father had once suggested the Peruvian variety to be very aggressive.

“No, Miss Lovegood. It is not.” Moody answered tersely, eliciting a chorus of snickers and a quiet call of Loony from one of the other Ravenclaw girls. Luna steadfastly ignored the taunt, thinking instead on the Peruvian Slashkilters and whether they were so testy due to how itchy their fur was.

“Anyone else?” Moody called, baring his gaze down on the students until one Gryffindor boy hesitantly raised his hand.

“Is it a Boggart… sir?” He cautiously supplied.

“Correct Mister Montblank. This is a Boggart. A shapeshifting creature that reflects a person’s worst fears. Today, you will all be facing it.” He declared.

Nervous whispering broke out amongst the assembled students, clearly disconcerted with the notion of having to be confronted with their fears. Luna absently picked out her wand from behind her ear, assuming a practical lesson was coming. Moody’s eye swiveled over her and he gave an approving jerk of his head.

“Now, wands ready. A Boggart’s weakness is laughter. To defeat one you must make it humorous, prepare an image of your worst fear in your head, and decide how to invert it, visualize it, then cast with the incantation ‘Riddikulus’.” He explained before stopping and taking a deep draught from the flask hanging from his hip. “Fortunately for all of you, we have an advantage here, as the Boggart will have to pick a target to try and scare, we can outnumber and confuse it. You can’t rely on this in the real world, so be always prepared to face such a creature. I’ve seen half a dozen cases of Aurors being scared off a criminal’s pursuit due to Boggart attacks.” He shook his head in annoyance. Many of the students shifting uncomfortably at the thought of facing something that could terrify trained aurors. “Now, any more questions?” Moody called.

“I-“ one girl started.

“Good, no better way to learn than through experience.” Moody slammed the cupboard with his fist and a dark shape which resolved into an enormous and savage looking black dog emerged and began approaching a nearby Gryffindor girl in ominous silence.

The girl took a few steps backwards, her face paled and he whispered “G-Grim.” To herself.

“The spell, Doxley.” Moody snapped, seeming to rip the girl’s attention away from the dog for a moment.

Levelling her wand at the hound she called “Riddikulus!” and a white cone sprung up around the dog’s neck, causing it to whine loudly and try to scratch its ear, only to flail against the slippery cone. The whole group laughed at the display, causing the Boggart to pick a new target.

It swirled but didn’t seem to settle on a definite shape, instead staying as a cloud of darkness and enveloped another student. A shout of “Riddikulus” and the cloud began to light up multicoloured and blare tuba music, seemingly amusing the person within enough to scare off the Boggart.

A car threatening to run someone down “Riddikulus!” Its wheels turned into squares and its engine sputtered as it tried to push itself forward clunkily.

A Griffon shrieked threateningly at a student “RIddikulus!” It transformed into a plump chicken which began pecking at the ground.

A man pointed some strange metal cylinder (Luna supposed it must be a muggle thing) at another student “Riddikulus!” A piece of paper saying ‘BANG’ spouted from the object causing the man to scratch his head in confusion.

With each mockery the Boggart grew more frantic. Jerkily it flung towards a redheaded Gryffindor whom Luna recognized as Ginny Weasley, and transformed once more.

The shape it took left many people muttering in confusion. Moody however coughed on his drink, spitting some foul-smelling liquid on the floor, and Ginny blanched in horror.

Before the girl stood a very handsome young man. His Hogwarts robes were immaculately clean and well fitting, a green stripe and prefect badge displaying him as a Slytherin. His black hair was stylishly slicked and his dark eyes all but glittered with amusement.

“Hello Ginny, it’s been a while since we’ve talked.” The Boggart said, taking a step towards the girl and smiling.

It was the sort of smile Luna had seen many times, one which faked kindness whilst a cruel joke was planned behind her back. Ginny took half a step back and raised her wand defensively.

“Oh come now Ginny, put that down. There’s no need for such hostility between friends.” The Boggart said, quirking an eyebrow. Luna didn’t have much experience with friends but she very much doubted this boy was one of Ginny’s based on her reaction.

“You… you’re not my-“ Ginny began, steeling herself.

“Oh but I am, no one will ever understand you quite like I do Ginny.” The boy interrupted, closing in on Ginny, who seemed to have forgotten it was a Boggart she was facing as she bravely glared at him whilst her legs shook. He was a bully.

“Riddikulus.” Luna called. Her spell caused a great gust of wind to emerge from beneath the boy, whose hair was quickly blown out of order. His robes then flapped up, revealing red and white polka dot boxers and knobbly knees, his arms waved in the air and he let out an ungainly shriek of confusion.

The uproarious laughter from the class was enough to send the creature spiraling away to hide itself back within the cupboard, slamming the door shut.

Professor Moody cleared his throat “Ten points to Ravenclaw for Lovegood’s quick spell work.”

After class ended Ginny hesitantly approached Luna as she packed up her books, Luna looked up and blinked at the other girl. “Can I help you with anything?” She asked.

“I just wanted to say thanks Loony-Luna” Ginny quickly corrected herself. “For the spell.”

Luna smiled easily, not able to remember the last time another student had thanked her like this. “Oh it was no trouble… I suppose we all have things we’d rather not face sometimes.” She mused.

Ginny laughed a little “yeah, you could say that. Anyway… thanks again.” Ginny then rushed from the room to go follow her other friends, leaving Luna still smiling at the appreciation.