I Don't Want to be a Hero - Ch. 24

Wednesday 30 Oct. 1991

Harry had moved back to Gryffindor tower the day he and his friends had been released from the Infirmary. The next morning, the day Draco was released from the Infirmary, Deputy Headmistress revealed at breakfast in the Great Hall that Headmaster Albus Dumbledore was on medical leave until the end of the term. Until his resignation, which her tone implied was expected, Minerva McGonagall would be the new Headmistress. Lucius Malfoy had also been introduced to all the students as a monitor for the Defence Against the Dark Arts class. Professor Quirrell had appeared tense at that announcement but he said nothing against it.

Wednesday was Defence Against the Dark Arts for the Gryffindor and Slytherin first years. Harry and Hermione were both wary of just attending the class. Draco was skittish because his father would be in the class.

The students filed in and all of them glanced over at the elegant looking gentleman with his long white hair braided into a thin braid wrapped with a spiral of leather strips at the nape of his neck. Lucius did not wear his usual jacket over a vest and blouse. For class he wore black teaching robes that he had borrowed from Professor Snape. Beneath his robes he wore a white shirt, with a quilted waistcoat of blue velvet. Professor Quirrell stood at the head of his class and tried not to 'see' Lucius. The aristocrat was not going to settle quietly and when the class was broken up into teams to practice basic shielding spells he was in the midst of the class offering help, and showing students how to move their wands, or to stand. It was Professor Quirrell who was relegated to his desk where he sat, and drummed his fingers annoyingly on the arm of his chair.

Harry was trying to cast a shield spell he'd had moderate success at but this time it was eluding him and he was getting frustrated. Lucius stepped up behind Harry, and held up his wand to keep Pansy Parkinson from casting any spells. Knowing it was foolish to even try, Pansy sneered.

"First of all you need to relax, Mr. Potter. Shield spells are the easiest to cast simply due to the fact that the wand movements do not matter as much as one's intent does. If you are frustrated then that means you have no intent to truly protect yourself."

"Protego!" Harry shouted. There was a spark but no shield.

"One moment…" Lucius looked towards Pansy. "Miss Parkinson, do you know any hexes?"

"A few," she huffed. She figured she knew quite a lot. She had two older brothers who liked to practise on her.

"A Jelly Legs hex, then, on my mark." The girl nodded and prepared to hex her opponent. Suddenly Lucius levitated Harry's glasses, and covered his eyes.

"Hey! I can't see!" he yelled. Professor Quirrell stopped the drumming of his fingers and watched the proceeding with a hawk-like gaze.

"So you cannot. Now, take a moment… draw in a few deep breaths…" he leaned over and whispered, "Know where your opponent is, and that she moves." Lucius gestured for Pansy to take a few steps sideways. "Think of your shield and that you want the most protection to be where your opponent's hex will hit."

Lucius then nodded to Pansy and she shouted, "Crura gelata!"

At nearly the same moment Harry successfully cast his shield. Unfortunately he was only a few inches off the mark of where the hex hit, and he was thrown backwards.

Lucius caught Harry. "Very good, Mr. Potter! Again!" He set the boy on his feet, and Harry's second shield was perfect. It blocked the Jelly Legs Hex and it was strong enough to send it right back to Pansy. Pansy fell with an outraged cry. Draco had turned away from his practise along with several other students to watch, and he laughed.

Lucius scowled at those giggling. "Gentlemen never laugh at young women. Mr. Crabbe, assist Miss Parkinson." The boy hesitated. "Now!"

The class ended well, and needless to say it was enjoyable for the students. Lucius allowed Quirrell to lecture to the class about anything he wished but Lucius took over when the work dealt with magic.

The dinner hour arrived and the Quartet settled themselves at the Gryffindor table. It was not a smart move.

"What's he doing here?" sneered Lavender Brown.

"I said Draco could sit with us," Harry glared at the snooty girl.

Seamus Finnigan looked up from his stew and stated, "He's a Slytherin, Potter. What'chu want with one o' him, 'Arry?"

"He's my friend," muttered Harry.

"And mine," declared Ron sharply. Draco glanced in surprise at the redhead. He had expected the Gryffindor to bow to popular opinion.

"Draco's my friend, too," glared Hermione.

Percy the prefect stepped in, "They're right, Harry. Draco's got to sit with his House…"

Fred Weasley interrupted, "No they're not right!" He moved to and squished himself right beside Draco.

George followed his twin and settled beside Harry. "There's no rules that says Draco can't sit here so shut your pie-hole, Perc."

Blushing with humiliation and anger, Percy shouted at his brother, "No he can't sit here! He's a bleeding Slytherin!"

A hush fell over the Great Hall and suddenly mortified Percy dropped heavily onto the bench.

"Prefect Weasley, whatever has you in such a snit that you feel it necessary to shout it to everyone in the Great Hall?" Professor McGonagall had arrived in total silence. She glared darkly at Percy over the rims of her spectacles, and then raked her gaze over the rest of her Lions.

"Draco shouldn't sit here, ma'am," said Percy as he blushed even darker.

"Habit has dictated mealtime, Prefect Weasley." Minerva raised her voice so everyone could hear, "Houses need only sit together during the Feasts, and any meetings that are called. During mealtimes friends are encouraged to sit anywhere they wish." She smiled down at the first year Slytherin. "You are welcome to sit here with your friends during any meal you wish, Mr. Malfoy."

Draco smiled fetchingly, "Thank you, Headmistress." The moment Minerva walked away Draco cast a more smug smile at Percy, then returned his attention to his friends.

Meals arrived and Ron, who had ordered beef with lots of mashed potatoes and gravy, and sweet pumpkin juice, looked askance at the vegetables that appeared rather huge to him on Draco's plate next to his roast beef. "That's a lot of veg, Draco. Do you like 'em?"

"Not especially," he replied as he speared a baby carrot, and popped it in his mouth.

"Then why are you eating them?" asked Harry. He had some vegetables, and his juice was orange juice rather than the pumpkin which was too sweet for him.

"Professor Snape tailors all our meals because he says the elves serve too many sweets and fatty foods," replied Draco with a knowing air. "Of course, I think he drinks too much of that awful coffee."

Hermione intervened, "I think that's a great idea! I think I'm the only Gryffindor to ever eat salad."

"That's cuz you're a rabbit, 'Mione!" smirked Ron.

"And you're a pig, Ronald," she snapped back, and stabbed at a slice of small tomato.

"Yeah, chew with your mouth closed, you barbarian," chuckled Draco.

Ron swallowed his big mouthful of mash and gravy, then scowled, "Shut it, ferret-face."

"Make me, oink oink!" challenged Draco. Harry giggled but it was cut off as a spoonful of Ron's mashed potatoes flew across the table and hit Draco's cheek.

All was silent at the Gryffindor table until Draco picked up a piece of broccoli and threw it at Ron. It would have been a terrible fight but Draco had giggled at the last second before the flying broccoli hit Ron in the forehead. Ron instantly retaliated with a wet spoonful of gravy. Draco ducked this time but Ron's aim was off and it hit Harry. Harry looked appalled but then grinned and picked up a piece of cooked, wet, slimy squash...

Draco nudged Harry to encourage him to toss the yucky piece of food. Harry hesitated, though. He rarely retaliated in kind, and certainly not in anger. Really this was just for fun, right?

Harry slung the unfortunate piece of squash right at Ron. It hit his forehead; flatly and with a squish. That was all it took; the food fight erupted and soon the entire house of Gryffindor was flinging food at each other. The other Houses watched from their tables and either laughed or cheered on the mayhem.

"HOLD!" roared Professor McGonagall from the teacher's dais. "If anyone throws another piece of food everyone in Gryffindor will lose ten points!" Without her having to say so every Gryffindor student knew that that many points would drop their House points into the negative.

"Mr. Weasley, Mr. Malfoy, Mr. Potter," said Professor Snape darkly, "To the Headmistress's office this second." He turned to vanish through the thin door the teacher's used.

The Headmistress glared one last time in disappointment at her House. "Clean that mess, and then everyone go to the common room. Dinner is over for all of you." She then swept away from the teacher's table and through the door Professor Snape had slipped through.


Professor Snape stood in front of the Headmistress' desk while she stood behind it. As the transgressors came through the door into the office he silently counted, one… two… three. Four.

"Miss Granger," noted Snape. "You were not summoned to the Headmistress' office. What are you doing here?"

"They're my friends, sir," she replied as bravely as possible.

"Ah. So that gives you carte blanche to participate in any activity they deem necessary to initiate," he purred darkly, "and to evenly partake in any retribution that is imparted to their… unruly… carcasses."

Hermione glanced uneasily at each of her friends. Ron grimaced, and hissed, "Don't look at me, 'Mione. I don't even know what he said."

Draco hissed, "I told you to stay."

Hermione glared indignantly at Draco, "I'm not a dog, you… ferret!"

"Stop calling Draco a ferret!" huffed Harry.

"She called me a pig!" retorted Ron.

All four fell into a shouting match that devolved into a bout of name-calling. Snape observed that Harry tried to stop the argument, and also stood a bit away from his friends.

"Enough!" declared Minerva. "And, be silent. Miss Granger, unless you desire points loss and a detention I suggest that you take your leave now."

Hermione blanched. "Go on, Hermione," said Harry quietly. "We'll be okay. Professor Snape is here."

Hermione nodded in agreement. She looked at each of her friends, and then left the office.

Percy had removed thrown food, and stains from the boys so they would look marginally presentable. Likely he hoped the points loss would not be too bad.

Professor Snape glared at each of the boys. Harry seemed to shrink beneath his teacher's disapproval. He startled Snape as he stepped towards the tall man, and looked up at him. "Mr. Potter?"

"Sir," said Harry with all the politeness he had, "please don't hit us." He was worried that Professor Snape had looked so angry with them that he would hit all three of them.

Ron leaned worriedly towards Draco, "Is Snape gonna hit us?"

"Quiet, weasel," hissed Draco.

"Mr. Potter," replied Snape carefully as he weighed Harry's request with what he knew of the child's home life. "No student ever gets hit, or spanked at Hogwarts. And I," he captured the boy's wide, green-eyed gaze, "will never have cause to strike you, or any child." He lowered his voice. "Now, go stand with your friends."

"Yes, sir," Harry replied with a bit of relief. He moved swiftly back to stand between Ron and Draco.

"Normally I would inquire as to what precipitated this war waged with food products," began Snape, "but in this particular case a food fight's conception does not even begin to matter. Fighting is never allowed at Hogwarts. There is no excuse… ever. Each of you ought to know this by now." He was met by three affirmative answers that were bare whispers of 'yes, Professor Snape.' "In order to make certain that neither of you forget this simple rule you will each lose 30 points, and none of you will be allowed to attend the Halloween Feast since you will all be busy in my classroom writing an essay."

Ron and Draco who knew of the sweet indulgent reputation of the Halloween feast gasped, and their jaws dropped in incredible disappointment. Harry knew nothing about the well-known feast of delicious foods and abundance of sweets and pastries. He had also never taken part of the Muggle holiday since he was always locked into his cupboard on that night.

To him, a 30 point loss was almost fair (and even though he had not started it - which he was definitely not going point out now), and as to the essay? Well, that would be in Professor Snape's class and his teacher would be there. That would not be bad at all.

They were dismissed and sent to their common rooms.

"Dragon."

"Father?" Draco glanced in fear at his father who had been waiting for him near the gargoyle that blocked the stairs the the Head's tower.

"A food fight," Lucius dropped with disappointment that fell on Draco's heart like lead.

"Yes, sir?" Draco shuffled a bit closer to Harry.

"You are a Malfoy, young man. Your mother and I raised you better than to take part in such mischief," Lucius' voice purred with malice as he strolled closer to the three young boys. "Were you aware that whilst I am here I am able to take points, and to set detentions?" Draco shook his head woefully. "20 points from Slytherin added to whatever Professor Snape gave you." He then glared at Ron and Harry who both cringed towards Draco. "As for you two miscreants. I expect you both to clean the owlery this saturday. Dragon, Professor Snape will provide you with an additional detention while they clean." He then nodded. "Good day, gentlemen."

"No Halloween and working on saturday?" moaned Ron. "That's so unfair!"

"I think I'd rather clean than do a second detention with Professor Snape. He's probably going to have me gut snails," Draco grimaced.

Harry said nothing. Again, cleaning an owlery was probably no worse than cleaning Dudley's toilet every saturday. At least he would finally get a visit with Hedwig.