Disclaimers and other info in Prologue
Sufficiently Advanced Technology…
…is indistinguishable from magic.– Arthur C. Clarke
CHAPTER 19: The Best Offense is a Good Defense
Sitting cross-legged on her desk as usual, Tonks looked at the Gryffindor sixth-years. "I expect most of you will remember the Dueling Club and the Disarming Spell," she began. Tim looked confused. A pained look came over Harry's face. "Later," he whispered.
"Professor Umbridge should have taught you the counter to that last year," Tonks continued. "Yeah, and we all know how well that turned out," Ron muttered under his breath. Tonks went on as if she had not heard him, although a twinkle in her eye proclaimed otherwise. "So we are going to remedy that today."
She turned her head at the sound of the door opening, and a mischievous look crossed her face.
Late again, Lavender and Pavarti came pelting into the room, trying to slide into their desks unnoticed. Unfortunately, they were anything but unnoticeable as they slid right past their desks, all the way to the front of the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom, where they crashed into the teacher's desk. Red-faced, they tried to get up, only to have their feet slide out from under them again...and again...and again. Tonks finally took pity on them, allowing them to reach their desks in one piece.
"Thank you, ladies, for that excellent demonstration of the result of the Slipping Spell, otherwise known as the Banana Peel Effect."
Hermione looked slightly distracted for the rest of the lesson.
Tonks looked up from packing up her things at the end of class. All of the students but Hermione had left the room.
"Can you teach me the Banana Peel Effect spell?"
"Today is going to be different from most of your other sessions." Tonks again sat cross-legged on a desk, this time in front of Dumbledore's Army. "You've been practicing specific techniques to deal with specific Dark creatures and spells. Now I'm going to teach you 'nuisance' spells – small spells which, when applied correctly, can cause havoc out of all proportion to the effort expended to cast them." Her eyes suddenly twinkled as they fell on Ron.
"Mr. Weasley's twin brothers developed many of these spells!"
The Room of Requirement was shortly filled with shouts of teenage glee. Although the students knew they were preparing for an upcoming battle, they couldn't help enjoying themselves as they cast the Slipping Spell at each other with various levels of success. If they had been wearing coats and gloves, it would have looked like a skating party. Some students were only losing their footing for a moment, some were wildly windmilling their arms as they fought for balance, but the majority went slipping and sliding across the floor, their momentum sending them crashing into the piles of large cushions lining the walls.
"This isn't fair!" Tonks looked around for the source of the exasperated twin yells.
"What isn't fair?"
"I can't get this to work! "
"One at a time. Miss Granger?"
"Every time I cast the spell at Smythe here, it slides right past her – even though she says she's not casting a Shield Charm!" Hermione glared at her Hufflepuff partner in frustration.
Ravenclaw Laurie Sundstrom glared at her Gryffindor partner in equal frustration.
"I have the same problem! He runs up, I cast the spell and he just keeps going like I never even bothered!"
"Let me see."
Both girls were right. Laurie cast the spell – correctly, in fact – and Tonks watched Neville Longbottom run past as if Laurie hadn't said anything at all. He tripped at the last second and fell into the pillows, but it was obvious to Tonks that that was simply due to his natural clumsiness. Hermione cast the spell at Keili Smythe, who darted past just as easily as Neville had. Tonks' eyes narrowed as a thought occurred to her.
"Sundstrom, pair up with Smythe. Granger, Longbottom, come with me." Neville meekly trailed after Hermione as she followed Tonks to a less-populated corner of the room.
"Granger, watch. Longbottom, run." Neville obligingly ran past Tonks again and again as she tried different variations of the spell. None of them had any more effect than the original, and after the seventh unsuccessful try she called a halt.
"Bear with me for a little while longer, Longbottom." Glancing around, she scooped one of a pair of jeweled, blunted daggers off a side table and handed it to him. "Now hold that and walk over there..." indicating a painted pillar about 20 feet away, "...and back. I have a few other things I want to try. And don't drop the knife!" She grinned at the panting boy. Neville kept a wary eye on her as he obediently walked back and forth, nervously clutching the hilt while she cast several other spells. Oddly enough, her smile grew as nothing happened with each successive attempt.
"Drake, Potter – over here, please." Harry had just picked himself up from yet another slide. He dusted himself off as he and Tim came over to the corner.
"Boys, I'd like you to act as test subjects for a few minutes, if you wouldn't mind. Neville, give the knife to Potter. Drake, there's another one on the table - grab it. I want both of you to go back and forth between those two pillars a few times. Longbottom here and I have a few things we'd like to try." Neville's eyes widened.
"Yes, we do," she said firmly, taking his arm. "Get going, boys." She whispered in Neville's ear, and he looked at her uncertainly.
"Professor, you know I won't be able to do that. I'm not very good at spellcasting – I hardly ever get it right."
"Just try it. I think you'll surprise yourself." She wore a secretive smile, the kind that said 'I know something you don't know.' Neville shrugged, gestured, and said, "Adhesio" Then he gaped in surprise as Harry's foot seemed to catch on the floor, sending him sprawling. Tonks smiled in satisfaction.
"I told you you could do it. All right, now try this one on Drake." She whispered in his ear again, and he gestured at Tim. "Maladroit" Tim suddenly clutched at the knife as it began to slip through his fingers. He grabbed for it with the other hand to no avail, and it clattered to the floor. He looked at Tonks with a raised eyebrow.
"Behold the Butterfingers spell," Tonks said smugly. "The first one was the Glue Spell. You can use it to temporarily attach an opponent's body part to any convenient surface – foot to floor, hand to wall or table..." She suddenly snickered. "...bum to seat."
Neville's eyes were wide with shock. "Professor – I don't understand. Those were so easy!"
"It's fairly straightforward, Longbottom. You're – no offense intended – naturally clumsy, right?" Neville flushed in resigned embarrassment.
"Yeah," he admitted painfully. "Always have been. Can't do anything right. Everyone always laughs at me." Tonks looked at him sympathetically.
"You must have noticed by now that I'm the same way," she pointed out. "I mean, knocking over my goblet of pumpkin juice at dinner the first night wasn't exactly the most graceful move."
"But what does that have to do with this?"
"Everything. Your natural clumsiness gives you a couple of advantages – it makes you immune to spells designed to artifically enhance clumsiness, while making you a natural caster of those spells. On the other hand, Granger, here, is so adept at everything, it's almost impossible for her to successfully cast spells of this type." By now, Tonks looked like the cat who ate the canary. "One more," she said smugly. She casually waved her wand and muttered "Accio Decor." Several throw rugs appeared, along with several spindly tables covered with a variety of ornamental items. "Drake, Potter, I'd like you to sneak around this section of the room." She grinned at them conspiratorially. "You should be good at this – you've had enough practice!" They grinned back unashamedly and obeyed.
Neville listened to Tonks intently for a moment, nodded, and exclaimed, "Klutzen" Tim and Harry's silent sneaking abruptly became very noisy. They knocked flower vases over and slipped in the water, sent statuettes crashing to the floor, and tripped on carpet edges. The overall effect was akin to that of a pair of bulls in a china shop.
By now they had drawn the attention of the entire army. Harry started to chuckle at the look of surprised delight on Neville's face. "Looks like you're going to be one of the main leaders of the castle defensive team," he said. Tonks nodded.
"Listen up, ladies and gentlemen," she called. "Longbottom has a few things to teach you!"
When the students walked into the next meeting of the DA, they found a couple of identical redheads at the front of the room. Many of the students looked awed when they realized they were looking at a pair of local legends – the current generation's "bad boys" of Hogwarts. Harry's lips twitched, however, and Ron and Ginny simply rolled their eyes at the sight of their brothers lounging on a pair of ornate thrones.
"Welcome, welcome, ladies and gentlemen," Fred (or was it George?) began with a florid bow.
"To the Hogwart's branch of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes!" continued George (or was it Fred?) with a matching genuflection.
The twins smirked at each other. "Today we have several items for your edification and amusement!"
"Now, if the audience will arrange itself accordingly – alphabetically, artistically or arbitrarily, all are acceptable - we will begin the show with the traditional magic demonstration." Fred waved his wand, and he was suddenly attired in a tuxedo and long red-satin-lined black cape. After the students had seated themselves on the floor, he swept the top hat off his head. "Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" Reaching into the hat, he pulled out a roaring lion's head, which promptly twisted around and tried to bite him. "Oops!" Quickly stuffing it back in, he waved his hand dramatically about and reached in again. This time he came out with a snarling wolf's head. "Rats!" In went the wolf, and out came...a rat.
"Oh, dear!" The rat was a little harder to get back in the hat. It twisted and turned, flipping itself madly through the air as it tried to get to Fred's hand, which was holding the end of its tail. He finally forced it back in, and brought out...a magnificient eleven-point stag – which, of course, immediately tried to gore him. After returning the deer to the hat, he dug around inside, muttering to himself. Then, grabbing something inside, he – finally! – pulled out a large jackrabbit.
"I knew it was hare somewhere!"
Replacing the rabbit, he turned to George, who obligingly waved his wand. The top hat disappeared, and Fred was again dressed in ordinary wizard's robes. The two grinned at each other and said in unison:
"And now for our next trick..." They conjured up a table with the Weasley's Wizard Wheezes banner on it. George laid out a bottle, a brightly colored box, and a small bag.
He waved a pair of sequined glasses at his audience. "When using these next few items, you should wear our exclusive Guardian Goggles for protection." Putting them on, he picked up the delicate bottle.
"This is a Flash Flask." He tossed the bottle on the floor in front of the students, and a blindingly bright light erupted from it. He waited until the students had blinked the spots away from their eyes.
"Or, if you prefer, you can use the Blackout Box. Open the lid and voila!" The room went totally black for a few moments.
"Rather simplistic, you must admit. Our true genius was in mixing the two. We call it..." Fred dramatically produced a drum roll. "... the Strobe Sack!" He picked up the bag, pointed the mouth at the students, and squeezed. Blackness boiled out. After a minute or two the questions of "Yeah, so?" and "Now what?" began to erupt, as the students strained their eyes to see through the dark.
"Wait for it..."
BOOM! An intense white light flashed throughout the room, followed by cries of pain.
Tim, who had instantly covered his eyes at the word strobe, looked up cautiously as the room lights came up to reveal the students with tears streaming out from beneath hands covering eyes. He was in time to see the twins smirk at each other again.
An hour later, Tim looked at Hermione. "This is starting to resemble the wizard's version of Batman's utility belt!" he whispered. Hermione managed to turn her giggle into a cough just as George walked over to lay a hand on Ron's shoulder.
"Now I need a victim – ahem, I mean volunteer..." Ron glared at George. "Who said I volunteered, you great git?" His brother rolled his eyes. "Mum did, of course. She said we could torture you whenever we want. So stand up, you're keeping everyone waiting!"
Wrapping strips of paper around his hands and over his shoes, Fred began to climb the wall. "No one ever looks up when they walk into a room. Fly-on-the-Wall-paper lets you spy on any activity, and eavesdrop on any conversation!" Reaching the top, he crawled across the ceiling, dangling from his hands and feet, until he was directly above Ron.
"It also allows you to ambush your enemies with the Spider Tangle!" He dropped a small object, which burst to cover Ron in a net. Moments later, Ron was thrashing on the floor, hopelessly entangled in the sticky threads. George let him struggle until Fred had dropped back to the floor, before dismissing the net with a wave of his wand. Ron climbed back to his feet and lunged at Fred, who flung a box down a few feet in front of him. Two ends of a cord sprang from the box and wound themselves around Ron's knees, sending him sprawling. "Useful things, Trip Wires." Ron had barely time to unsnarl himself when another box flew towards him. This one unfurled to reveal a blanket, which promptly wrapped itself around Ron, leaving him neatly rolled up on the ground. "Of course, the Bug-in-a-Rug Charm isn't half bad either."
As Ron worked his way free, George became serious. "I'm not going to actually demonstrate the next item, because I don't want to incapacitate you for the next several hours. This squeeze ball contains Habañero Horror. It's oil from the habañero chili, the hottest chili pepper in the world. You know what hot pepper sauce does to your mouth – imagine a squirt of this in your eyes." Everyone winced.
"We've saved the best for last - the Seven-Years-Bad-Luck Charm. You've sat still long enough – you need some exercise. Everybody up!!" Fred commanded. Warily the students got to their feet. He threw a small cosmetics mirror into the middle of the group. The tinkle of breaking glass chimed and the students found in a maze of mirrors. Fred's voice cackled from somewhere nearby. "We offer you this chilling challenge – to find a way out!"
Hermione was reminded of a fun house she had visited at a local fair. All she could see were multiple reflections of herself and the others. Some were normal sized, some were tall and thin, some were short and fat, and some were upside-down. Even the floor and ceiling were mirrored. The students began to bump into mirrors and each other as they tried to find an exit. Some even tried – with woeful lack of success - to break the mirrors. The more claustrophobic students were beginning to panic, and the rest were extremely frustrated by the time Fred cast the countercharm. The mirrors dissolved to reveal Fred and George reclining on their thrones again, this time with large bejeweled crowns on their heads. George waved a languid hand. A large gavel appeared in the air and hit the floor with a loud thump.
"Court is dismissed for the day."
TO BE CONTINUED...
A/N: I know it's been on hiatus for over 2 years, but I plan to have the last 3 chapters up in the very near future – finally!