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The Potter and the Boggart

He never smashed the pots. That’d be no fun at all. The boggart only nudged them. He nudged and nudged until they teetered on the very edge of the shelf. Then he waited in the shadows, giggling like a wolf.

Yet again, the potter would curse his fumbling fingers. Yet again, he sighed and swept up the mess.

Over days and weeks, the Boggart's little mischiefs continued. And the potter began to notice. Not just the pots. But dirty little hand-prints in the clay and half-empty bottles of milk and noises from the shadows, horrible gurgling cackling noises.

In those days, Boggarts were well known by the old men and wrinkled crones of Lancashire and the potter had heard that Boggarts were more greedy than wise. One evening, before heading to bed, he left a bowl of milk in the centre of the floor. Then, turning off the lights, he slipped into the shadows himself.

Sure enough, the greedy little boggart crept across the floor and began lapping at the bowl of milk with his thick grey tongue. He was uglier than even the potter could imagine, half old man, half toad, half festering wound. But holding his breath and closing his eyes, the potter leapt forward and slammed his biggest pot right over the head of the ugly little boggart.

It squealed and yowled but the pot was heavy and the potter held it tight.

Finally, the yowls became growls and then grumbles and at last it was silent.

Then, the Boggart in the pot spoke. It was a voice like bad-tempered mud, like the squelch of a bog pulling at a boot.

“Potter… I’ll give you what you truly desire. I’ll teach you the secrets of clay known to no man. But only if you prove yourself worthy. Only if you can answer my riddle.”

“You have something I want.
You value it greatly yet you can give it freely
You carry it always yet it weighs less than breath.
It’s as quiet as a whisper or as loud as a shout.
When even your bones are dust, it’ll still be yours.

Tell me what it is and I will teach you all the lore of clay.”

The potter pondered. Sitting atop that pot all night, he puzzled the riddle around and around like a lump of clay on the wheel.

As the sun rose in the morning, the potter muttered, “What do I have that weighs nothing? What will be mine even after I die? What is precious to me but can be freely given?
Of course… a name!!”
He jumped up in delight and the boggart immediately darted out of the pot.

Yet, as all the old folk of Lancashire know, a Boggart will not break his word. Sure enough, the ugly little creature taught the young potter all the lore of clay, all the secrets of pottery known to no man.

Bemused and grateful the potter turned to the ugly little creature and thanked him. “You have taught me so much and in exchange, I’ll give you the thing I have that you want, the thing I value greatly but can give freely. I’ll give you a name!”

Once again, the potter pondered the thought patiently and slowly like moulding clay on his wheel. “It must be short and squat and most of all, mischievous. Your name will be Pog! Pog the Boggart.”

And Pog the Boggart cackled like a bog swallowing a horse. Because he knew, what is known by all the old men and wrinkled crones of Lancashire, that you should never ever name a Boggart. For once they are named, they are yours!

To this day, the boggart still lives with the potter. There are still pots which break and horrible noises in the shadows but every so often, on cold winter nights when the wind howls and the water jugs freeze, the potter leaves out a bowl of warm milk for his boggart, for Pog the Boggart.


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