Key: "Speech", 'Thoughts', "Speech laden with magic", 'Thoughts laden with magic', §Parseltongue§, ["Foreign Languages"], [G"Gobbledegook"G]
Disclaimer: I do not own the world of Harry Potter and make no claims of ownership towards it. I do not make any money from this or any of my other fanfiction stories.
The Champions of Lilith Challenge was created by the fanfiction author by the name of Paladeus.
Author's Note: When reading this chapter, please keep in mind that there is somewhere between 250 and 350 students, roughly 28 Professors and Club Advisors, and until Harry and Hermione's Third Year, at least four non-teaching staff members, post third year that lowers down to three non-teaching staff. All told that is between 282 and 382 non-House Elf individuals who reside in the Castle at any given time. I provide this information so you can truly appreciate what happens in the first act of this chapter.
xXx Story xXx
Harry, Luna, and Hermione had just entered the Great Hall for breakfast, and upon entering Harry forced back a groan of agony. He didn't know how she had done it, but the fact was that she had. "Luna dear, would you kindly explain what the meaning of this is?"
Luna responded by issuing forth a statement that to her might as well be the answer to the question 'What is the meaning of life?'
Yes, there was pudding for breakfast. An awful lot of the stuff, and it came in every flavor known to mankind. In fact there was so much of it that there was not a single type of food other than pudding on any of the tables in the Great Hall this morning. Fortunately so far the only teacher who had arrived at the Great Hall was Dumbledore, but he has a notorious sweet tooth and as such seemed at peace with this rather obvious prank.
There was enough pudding here to make people swear off the stuff for the rest of their life. Unfortunately that would not matter in the teensiest bit to Luna Lovegood, who was probably scheming on a way to make this happen EVERY morning from here on out.
Harry's thoughts were interrupted when he noticed that Minerva McGonagall, who he didn't see enter the Great Hall, had just stood up from her seat and was approaching the Gryffindor Table where Fred and George Weasley had just sat down.
"Fred, George, for this level of prank, 50 points each from Gryffindor. You will also each be sitting in detention with Professor Snape for the rest of the week."
Fred and George looked at the Professor in horror, and then got down on their hands and knees and exclaimed, "We swear! We didn't do it! We don't even like pudding! Why would we put ourselves through hell like this just for a few laughs?"
Minerva frowned and then walked back to her spot at the Head Table.
Harry leaned over and said, "Luna, darling, please tell me this was you're doing?"
Luna just hummed a little as she swallowed a mouthful of delightful peppermint flavored pudding, "Sorry Harry, I didn't really get the opportunity to arrange this. Though now that someone has, I plan to make sure it continues."
Harry gave a glare to Hermione, who just smiled innocently at him. Harry harrumphed and said, "You two are going to make winning the House Cup impossible, you realize that?"
Hermione grinned and nodded saying, "You really don't expect us to make it impossible for Dumbledore to rig the House Cup this year without it making him look like a fool for doing so?"
Harry goggled at Hermione, so she continued, "Harry, think about it; we broke about a hundred School Rules rescuing the Philosophers Stone from Quirrellmort last year, and what does Dumbledore do? He rewards us for it by giving us enough points to steal the House Cup from all three of the other houses, Slytherin especially. That is blatant favoritism, not all that different from Snape favoring the Slytherins. The only difference is that Dumbledore favors you instead of Slytherin House."
"Okay fair point," Harry conceded, "But did you really need to ruin breakfast to do it?"
At this point the Slytherins, as well as Professor Snape had finally managed to arrive in the Great Hall. As soon as they saw what was for breakfast they all scowled and started plotting revenge on the red-headed dynamic duo. Snape was mollified slightly when Minerva informed him that he would be overseeing the Twins detention for this prank.
"Judging by the looks the entirety of the Slytherin population, professors included, are sending Fred and George, I hope it never becomes known to them that you are responsible for this Hermione. And Luna, I think it would be wise to arrange for just a single large bowl of pudding to be provided at the Gryffindor table each meal; and ONLY the Gryffindor table from this point on. No need to invite the wrath of the entire school down on our heads, is there?" Harry said in as placating a tone as he could to his two loves.
Hermione could only nod in horrified silence as she realized just how bad it would be if her causing this got out.
Luna congenially smiled at Harry and said, "I still want this to happen at least once a year from here on out. September 19th, would be an ideal day to do it on."
Hermione goggled at Luna and asked, "Why on my birthday of all days?"
"Because September 19th is the National Butterscotch Pudding Day in the Colonies," Luna said serenely.
Harry had to ask, "They actually have a holiday for that?"
"The Colonies also have a holiday for Chocolate Pudding on June 26th, Tapioca Pudding on July 15th, and Indian Pudding on November 13th. Since we are in Exams on June 26th, it doesn't seem like a good idea to do it then. Schools out by July 15th, which means we need to do it on either September 19th, or November 13th," Luna explained.
"Okay, ignoring the fact that you know when obscure food related holidays are in a foreign country, I still want to know why you want to do this on my Birthday each year instead of November 13th." Hermione inquired.
"Oh that should be obvious. This way we can force the entire school, Slytherin's included, to celebrate your birthday, whether they know they are doing so or not." Luna said with a grin.
Hermione blinked, then blinked again, she then looked Harry dead in the face and said, "Please kiss the little genius for me."
Harry shrugged and planted a kiss on Luna's cheek, not wanting the entire school to see him snogging the girl who would become his svelte blond goddess.
Luna giggled stuck her finger into the bowl of pudding in front of her and then dabbed that finger across Harry's nose. She looked at him seductively and brought her face in close to his and proceeded to lick the pudding off his nose.
xXx Transfiguration Classroom xXx
Luna sat in the transfiguration classroom next to Ginny Weasley watching as the rest of the class blundered through the process of trying to turn a match into a needle. No one was really having much success with the exercise.
Professor 'Pretty Kitty' walked up to the table that Luna and Ginny were sitting at and asked "Miss. Lovegood, is there something the matter?"
Luna looked up at the Professor and said, "No professor. I just don't see the point of practicing what I have already mastered."
McGonagall harrumphed and said, "Please demonstrate your mastery of this exercise for me if you would."
Luna casually waved her hand over the match and without her having said any words the match instantly transfigured itself into a perfect needle.
McGonagall gasped in surprise, "My word! Miss. Lovegood, for that most excellent transfiguration, and for that display of advanced wandless and silent casting, please take 50 points for Gryffindor."
"Of course Professor," Luna said in her best dreamy voice.
"Would you care to enlighten me as to where you learned such advanced spellcasting?" McGonagall inquired.
"Oh that is easy; Mummy taught me how to do all sorts of things without a wand. She was a spellcrafter and thought it would be in my best interest if I learned how to cast without a wand early so I wouldn't be handicapped by thinking I needed to rely on a wand when I finally got to Hogwarts." Luna said with a bright smile.
"I see; what else can you cast wandlessly?" McGonagall inquired.
"Oh, I think I would be able to cast just about all of the First Year spells, and a handful of the second year spells. I can also brew most first year potions." Luna said by way of explanation.
Ginny was eyeing Luna with a questioning look, but Luna decided to ignore this. Meanwhile McGonagall looked downright pleased with this information.
"Miss. Lovegood, I would be inclined to test you on this knowledge. If you are amenable to it, would you be willing to sit the end of first year exams early?"
"Oh yes Professor. Then I can be in the same classes as Hermione and Harry! They have ever been so nice to me." Luna said with a bright smile.
Ginny shook her head and turned away with a huff.
McGonagall looked at Ginny with some concern and asked, "Whatever is the matter Miss. Weasley?"
Ginny sighed and said, "I've known Luna for several years now, and I can tell that even before you approached her she had planned this entire conversation, probably to the letter."
McGonagall looked conflicted; it was her duty to advance students who were capable of advancing. However if a student manipulated the situation so that they could advance but weren't actually capable of advancing, that ruined the entire system. "I will take your words under advisement Miss. Weasley."
After the class, while the students were leaving the classroom, Luna skipped up to Ginny and asked, "Can I speak to you for a moment?"
"I suppose," Ginny responded.
"Why did you tell Professor Pretty Kitty what my intentions were? I thought you wanted to be our friend?" Luna asked
Ginny shrugged and said, "I was hurt that you didn't want to stay in first year with me."
Instantly all pretenses of Luna's dreamy persona were gone, this was something that caused Ginny a great deal of anxiety; she had been around Luna long enough to know that the girl housed a severe intellect, and the dreamy persona was just her way of putting the rest of the world at ease with what could be in many ways an extremely scary thing to witness if she really wanted to go full on intellectual.
"Ginny, don't take this the wrong way, but if I told either Harry or Hermione what you just did, they would deny you any chance of becoming friends with us. You just demonstrated a severe lack of loyalty to people that had been giving you a chance to prove you could be our friends. I am willing to give you two more chances. The first chance is a free pass. The second chance will result in me hiring your elder twin brothers to give some payback. You violate our trust a third time, and that's it, no more chances of friendship. Are we understood?" Luna calmly and exceedingly stoically explained to the girl who had been her childhood friend.
Ginny for her part shivered uncontrollably for a few moments realizing how close she was coming to truly losing her most precious friend. "Of course Luna, I promise, nothing like this will ever happen again."
And just like a light had been switched on, Luna's dreamy persona was back in place. The little blond rushed forward and pulled Ginny into a hug, "Oh goody! I would hate to lose such a valuable friend."
And with that the two girls went down to dinner, Ginny none the wiser to the fact that in another future, Luna had been forced to sever that friendship for the safety of her lovers.
xXx Faculty Lounge xXx
Minerva entered the Faculty lounge later that evening to find the other professors of the Hogwarts Core Subjects there as she had requested.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming to this impromptu meeting. I wanted to discuss with you something that I discovered while teaching my First Year Transfiguration Class." Minerva began.
She looked sharply at Snape when he made a derisive sneer. "It has come to my attention that a student by the name of Luna Lovegood has rather advanced knowledge of Transfiguration for a First Year. I wish to have her tested in the various Core Subjects to see if the same holds true for all of her current subjects and to see if it might not be possible to advance her to her second year a little earlier than usual."
"Surely you cannot be serious about this Minerva?" Severus said with a rather cruel sneer on his face.
"I am most serious, Severus, and you will comply with my wishes. Gildroy, as I do not trust your competency in your subject to nearly the extent that Albus does, I will be overseeing your administration of the requisite test in that subject, if it is not satisfactory I will take over the administration of said test and handle it myself. Binns, try to have topics on your test unrelated to Goblin Rebellions if you would. Everyone is dismissed." Minerva chided the more troublesome members of the Hogwarts Staff.
xXx Thursday Evening xXx
xXx Temporary Examination Room xXx
Filius Flitwick entered the assigned classroom to find the delightful Lovegood girl sitting and waiting for him. "Ah, Miss Lovegood, how delightful to see you again. I have been told that you are prepared to take your end of year exams a little bit early?"
"Yes sir." Luna said happily.
"Well then, let us get started shall we. I would like you to make this pineapple dance across the headdesk in this room if you would be so kind?" Filius inquired.
"Of course sir." Luna stated as she waved her hand and caused the Pineapple to do a remarkable approximation of an Irish Jig.
"Wonderful! Wonderful! Well my dear, you pass the Charms segment of these exams. I fear however that the next segment of these exams happens to be the Potions segment. I wish you the best of luck my dear." Filius said as he collected the pineapple and departed the classroom.
A short time later Professor Severus Snape stalked into the room with a sneer on his face. "You will brew a Potion of Forgetfulness from memory and using your own ingredients and supplies. I hope you are prepared for this?"
"Yes sir!" Luna said as she promptly got to work brewing the requisite potion, unbeknownst to Severus, Luna had a good idea what potion he was going to require her to brew, so she had brought the appropriate ingredients for said potion just in case he decided to not supply any.
An hour later Luna had completed her potion and handed the requisite sample to the Professor, complete with an unbreakability charm on the glass vial that it was housed in.
"Acceptable." Severus mused. "Very well you pass this portion, but just barely. See that you are prepared for your second year lessons when you arrive at my class tomorrow."
"Yes sir." Luna said.
Despite Professor Pretty Kitty's best efforts the History of Magic exam did indeed turn out to be nothing more than a review of Goblin Rebellions. Meanwhile the Herbology exam while fun didn't really cover anything important. It seemed to be mostly a review on how to care for Devil's Snare.
The Astronomy Exam, a class that Luna, Hermione and Harry had all agreed should be renamed to Astrology after Hermione explained the difference to Harry and Luna, consisted primarily of explaining the astrological correspondences relating to Luna's date of birth and plotting out any major astrological events that the stars predicted for her life. All told it was remarkably easy for her to conclude that as her father had a huge love for that subject.
Finally Professor Pretty Kitty walked into the classroom and began the setup for her own portion of Luna's examination. "Miss Lovegood, for this test, you will be required to turn this mouse into a snuffbox. I will award extra points depending on how well decorated the snuffbox happens to be. You may begin."
Luna screwed up her face in concentration for a moment, but then relaxed and jabbed her finger into the mouse. She then retracted her finger and looked up at the Professor and smiled.
The Professor blinked as she hadn't seen anything happen other than Luna jabbing her finger into the mouse. She looked at what still looked critically at what still looked remarkably like a mouse. Gently she picked it up and looked very closely at it. "My word, you transfigured a living mouse into a taxidermy snuffbox made from a mouse?"
"Yes ma'am." Luna chirruped.
"That is incredible. I don't think even I have the expertise necessary to pull off such a transfiguration!" Minerva exclaimed.
"Well my family's magic sort of centers around animals, so it is really easy for me to do spells that involve them in some manner." Luna explained.
"I see." Minerva stated. "Well now all that is left is for us to await your Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor so that he can give his own examination. I will be overseeing this exam as I do not really trust him to give a proper exam on his own."
After another hour of waiting Minerva McGonagall was getting irritated. "That man is late. Miss Lovegood, if you will excuse me, I will be back in a few minutes after I track down our wayward Defence Professor."
"Of course Professor." Luna said with a nod.
xXx Professor Lockhart's Office xXx
xXx A Short Time Later xXx
Minerva arrived in the office assigned to Gilderoy Lockhart and frowned at what she had discovered. The office, which up until yesterday was festooned with portraits of the braggart was now completely bare of any sign of such portraits. On the abandoned desk there was a hastily scribbled note:
"My sincerest apologies, but a horrendously foul Dark Creature was sighted over in the Colonies and I absolutely MUST hurry over there to deal with it. I am sure you can deal with the education of these delightful children without my assistance. You needn't look for me as I have already left the country!
Order of Merlin (Third Class)
Honorary Member of Dark Force Defence League
Five Time Winner, Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award"
"Albus! Damn you! You didn't make him sign a magically binding employment contract, did you!" Minerva screamed at a volume that seemed to make the very foundations of Hogwarts shake in fear.
xXx Exam Room xXx
Upon returning to the examination room Minerva sighed and said "I am very sorry to inform you of this, but you will not be able to take the end of year examination for Defense Against the Dark Arts at this time. That said, based on the words of your other professors, including Professor Snape, I am absolutely certain that you would do fine on them. So I am pleased to inform you that as Deputy Headmistress I am approving your advancement to Second Year. Congratulations Miss Lovegood."
"Thank you Deputy Headmistress." Luna said in absolute delight. "If you would excuse me, I need to go give the news to my Housemates."
"Yes of course dear, you are excused." Minerva said with one of her rare few smiles.
"Thank you ma'am." Luna said as she packed her things and left the room in a hurry to return to the Gryffindor Common Room where she promptly found and tackled both Hermione and Harry in a flurry of hugs and kisses to the ruckus catcalls of the rest of the room.
"Guess what? I made it into second year! I am going to be in classes with the both of you from now on! Isn't that wonderful?" Luna cheered to Hermione and Harry.
"Yes dear, that is absolutely wonderful." Harry said with a smile.
"You will enjoy spending more time with us won't you?" Hermione asked as she stroked Luna's golden locks.
"Well of course." Luna said as if that were a stupid question.
"And you will help me prevent Hermione from doing something foolish like taking all of the electives next year, won't you?" Harry asked.
This resulted in Luna and Hermione giving Harry an 'Are you crazy' look. Harry sighed and said "Well I suppose we could use a Time-Turner. Oh well, it was worth a try."