Disclaimer: Merry Christmas, everybody!
I pity anyone who hasn't figured this out by now…so I'll say it in code! :)
Soddy Mister Cornflower gambles around toothpicks eating strawberries. Everyone got that? Great! On with the story…
Chapter Thirteen: That's gotta hurt!
The finals at Hogwarts went by without a hitch for the three Slytherins, particularly since Harry and Draco no longer had to worry about Quidditch. The final match had been played the previous Saturday: Slytherin vs. Ravenclaw. Harry had caught the snitch within twenty minutes with a final score of 180-0. The whole of Slytherin house hadn't stopped smiling until their Transfiguration finals. Ron and Neville, however, had to visit Madame Pomfrey because they had both fallen asleep during the History of Magic exam and mysteriously developed a patch of superglue between their faces and their books. The three Slytherins were strolling outside afterward when Harry had a crisis of conscience.
"We should really find some other people to experiment on…"
"Feeling guilty?" Hermione looked amused.
"No, but they're starting to get suspicious."
Draco gave an evil grin. "I recommend we do something to one of the professors!"
"Who?" Hermione looked slightly nervous. "McGonagall will take house points, Snape would kill us, Remus and Sirius would get us back, and Hagrid wouldn't notice. That leaves Quirrel."
"And Dumbledore," Jinx pointed out hopefully. The snake was currently possessed by Loki.
The two boys broke out into identical wicked smiles. Hermione looked panicked.
"We can't prank Dumbledore! We could be expelled!"
"Not if he can't prove we did it," Draco pointed out. "Besides he needs more suffering than perpetually itchy underwear."
Harry grinned. "Yeah…something like…" The three began plotting.
That night the three watched the Headmaster carefully, making sure that he took precisely three bites of mashed potatoes and a long swig of pumpkin juice. Then Harry wandlessly turned him into a large blue bunny. The two potions activated…
"Wow…Dumbledore's trying to bite off Hagrid's head…" Draco was impressed.
"Oooohhhh!" Harry winced. "Smack down!"
"I wonder if Hagrid will feel guilty for that in the morning?" Hermione murmured.
Harry began pointing wildly. "Hey! He's starting to foam!"
Draco giggled. "Rabid Dumbledore Bunny…"
Hermione shushed the two. "The outward changes are starting!" The rabid rabbit slowly began to develop something yellow around its waist…a duck-headed floaty. "Harry, as funny as this is, it worries me that you could actually think of something like this…"
"Shush! Sirius has a tranquilizer gun!" Harry winced. "Do you think once McGonagall wakes up, she'll leave him alive?"
"Considering where he shot her, I doubt it."
Draco began laughing hysterically. "She'll have to stand in line! Did you see where he shot Snape?! It's a good thing he hates children!!"
Remus snatched the gun from his mate before he could do anymore damage and promptly shot the rabid bunny. He, Sirius, and Pomfrey immediately began removing the wounded while the entire school laughed themselves silly.
Once the three had calmed down, Hermione noticed something odd. "Where's Quirrel?"
Harry felt a prickling at the back of his mind from Hades. Someone just got past Fluffy… "He just got past Fluffy," Harry said, eyes widening. The three jumped up and ran out of the Great Hall. Harry pulled Jinx out of his pocket. "Siren! Go get Sirius and Remus! Tell them Quirrel's going after the stone!"
"And for Merlin's sake, tell them in English!" Draco added. The rubber snake took off towards the Infirmary as the three Slytherins began climbing the stairs.
Hermione frowned. "How are we going to get past Fluffy?"
Persephone, now in Rumples, spoke up from Harry's other pocket. "Leave the puppy to me. I have a gift for handling three-headed dogs."
They reached the door in less than three minutes. Hermione alohamora'd it open, and Harry tossed Rumples inside. They could briefly hear the sound of dogs barking and Persephone humming a lullaby…then came three large snores. "Let's go," Harry said, stepping inside. Fluffy was passed out in a corner, hair once more intact, and Rumples was sitting beside the trapdoor. Harry scooped up the mouse and peered into the dark shaft.
"I say we just jump," Draco said.
"You sound like a Gryffindor."
"Ron, specifically," Hermione added.
The blonde glared at her and jumped in. His voice drifted up from below, "There's a squishy plant thing down here! It's perfectly safe!" Draco began giggling madly. Hermione and Harry shared a look and jumped in.
Hermione growled as black flowers began to sprout out of the plant. "This is a Numbing Nightshade. The flower emits nitrous oxide until the victim dies from suffocation!" She began to grin lopsidedly. "Perfectly safe, eh, Blondie?" She giggled.
Draco grinned widely. "What do we do, oh knowledgeable pumpkin?"
Harry began chanting, "Burn it! Burn it!"
Hermione laughed. "The gas is highly flammable. That would kill us all!"
Harry pouted as he snickered. "Spoil sport! Iuguolo paliurus!" The Numbing Nightshade began to shrivel rapidly, dropping the three to the floor below. It was dead inside of a minute.
"Harry! I told you not to make up spells!" Hermione's attempt at scolding was impeded greatly by her goofy expression.
Draco giggled. "Make up as many as you like, scar-head! I, for one, like being alive." Harry bowed and threw open the doors to the next room.
The room was filled with five large barrels full of tomatoes floating in what looked like water. At the other end of the room was a pair of sturdy iron doors. Hermione tried them, then tried to alohamora them. The spell failed miserably.
"I think the key is in one of the tomatoes…" Harry said thoughtfully.
Hermione frowned. "We don't have time for this. Prosterno!" The iron doors exploded outward into the next room.
Draco blinked. "You're a little scary sometimes, 'Mione." Behind the three, the tomatoes were growing arms, legs, and mouths.
Harry nodded. "And I thought you told me not to make up spells." The tomatoes began pulling themselves out of the barrels.
Hermione turned to face the two and screamed. "IT'S THE ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES!!!" Harry and Draco looked behind them, then grabbed her and ran into the next room.
Draco took one look at the room and groaned. "We really do not have time to play a game of giant chess while being pursued by carnivorous fruits…" The blonde had a sudden idea. "Harry, call Ate and have her make us invisible!" Harry nodded and pulled out Rumples. Draco pointed his wand at Harry and Hermione. "Effingo populus!" Then he pointed his wand at himself. "Effingo quisque." Holograms of the three Slytherins appeared as the real trio vanished.
Hermione hissed in annoyance. "Draco, don't you start making things up as well."
The blonde grinned as he made the three holograms run around the chess board. "I borrowed Harry's pocket dictionary. You should try this sometime, 'Mione. It's great fun!" The tomatoes were swarming over the chess board as the three stood off to the side. When the hoard reached the white pieces, the pawns drew their swords and began attacking, but the white side was no match for the tomatoes. Within minutes, the whites were decimated. Then Draco forced the three holograms back into the barrel room, and the Slytherins slipped through the far door.
"Ate, keep us invisible," Harry whispered. She nodded against his hand.
Inside the room, there were seven bottles in different shaped vials and a piece of paper with writing on it:
Five of these are poison.
Two of these are not.
One will get you through the flames.
One will make you drop.
Suffer, you fools! Suffer!
Draco put on his best wide-eyed innocent look. "Gee…I wonder whose protection this is?"
Harry matched his expression. "I just can't imagine."
Hermione sighed in defeat. "Harry, hand me your dictionary." She began flipping through the pages rapidly. Two minutes later: "Ostendo venenum!" Five of the bottles began to glow brightly. "These are the poisons." Draco pulled them to the side.
She began pouring through the dictionary again. "Ostendo quietus venenum!" The smaller of the two vials began to glow. "That's the sleeping draught." She smiled guiltily. "Actually, this is pretty fun…but that doesn't make it any less dangerous!"
Draco grabbed her arm. "Lecture later, stop Quirrel now."
The three drank some of the final vial and eased open the door into the final room. Harry's scar immediately began throbbing. Inside, Quirrel was standing in the center of what looked to be stair-filled lecture room. There was a large table in front of him covered with different types of rocks, and he was pointing his wand at them and muttering revealing spells. Hades was nowhere to be seen.
Harry reached out mentally. Hades?
I'm under the table, the god responded. Don't worry. I swallowed the stone.
Are you sure you swallowed the right one?
Good boy! Harry paused at the feeling of disgruntlement. Sorry… He glanced at his companions. /Any ideas?/
/Not a clue./ (Hermione)
An eerie voice emerged from the back of Quirrel's head. "Potter isss here… I can sssense him…" Quirrel immediately looked around the room.
"Master," Quirrel's voice was breathy but lacking its stutter. "There is no one here."
"I will ssssee for myssself…"
Quirrel opened his mouth to respond then sighed defeatedly. "Yes, Master." He began unwinding his turban slowly.
Beneath it was a waxen face with red eyes.
That'll destroy your appetite! Ate whispered in Harry's mind.
Draco and Hermione met Harry's panicked eyes, all three thinking the same thing: /We are so dead!/
/That's Voldemort!/ (Harry)
/Once again, the academy would like to congratulate Mr. Obvious./ (Draco)
/What do we do now?/ (Hermione)
/I have an idea./ (Harry)
Hermione and Draco shared a look of mutual resignation. /Bring on the doom…/
Ate, can you make us noiseless, too? Harry asked mentally.
Duh! I'm aGoddess… One day Harry wasgoing to find out how she madefour words sound so snide.
Thanks. Harry ran around to the side of the table opposite Quirrel and crawled beneath it. He scooped up Hades the stuffed dog and began crawling out. Hades, you need to be invisible too.
Already taken care of, the god answered.
Why haven't you taken out Quirrel, anyway? Harry asked.
He's got some sort of magic barrier around him. I can't even get a decent plague through!
Voldemort was looking at the table full of fake gems and murmuring "The koalas are coming…the koalas are coming…"
"These are not real," he hissed. "Where is the ssstone?!"
"It must be here, Master!" Quirrel said desperately. "There are no more rooms!"
Ate, can you subtly suggest that it might have been among the tomatoes?
He felt the goddess give a mental smirk. I'm rubbing off on my little boy! I'm so proud! Harry blushed, not sure if it was a compliment or not. Give me a sec… The goddess slipped herself into Quirrel's mind for a moment.
"Master…perhaps Dumbledore hid it among the tomatoes. He hid the key there, after all."
Voldemort seemed to consider this for a long moment. "Yessss…that would be very like the old fool…darn those koalas! To the tomatoes, Quirrel!" Quirrel left the room quickly, heading back into the other rooms.
"Quick!" Harry whispered to his friends. "Grab the bottles of poison and follow me!" The three dashed silently through the rooms, slipping past Quirrel as they went.
They made it just in time for Harry to dump the bottles of poison into the barrels. The three watched as Quirrel began bobbing for tomatoes, dunking Voldemort under the surface as well.
A few moments later, Quirrel began to moan piteously. "I feel so hot, Master…"
Voldemort's face was filled with dawning understanding. "Quickly! We must find the sstone!" At the last second, Voldemort's spirit made a break for it, flying through a nearby wall.
Then Quirrel imploded.
The three winced in sympathy as Sirius and Remus came running through the door. "Ewwww…"
"Harry?" Remus called, sniffing the air.
Ate, you can cancel the invisibility now. Harry, Hermione, and Draco reappeared wearing identical expressions of disgust.
"That was so gross!" Draco groaned.
"That was so illegal!" Hermione added.
"That was so brilliant!" Harry was literally patting himself on the back, his tattoos clearly visible on his hands.
Sirius blinked, and then scooped up his godson. "Why did you come down here by yourselves?! You're Slytherins! You're supposed to be most interested in self-preservation!"
"We are," Hermione said. "And self-preservation demands that Voldemort (the three ignored the two men's winces) not be allowed to return."
They made their way out of the rooms and to the infirmary, explaining what had happened along the way. Inside, Severus was waking up, and Dumbledore was still a rabid rabbit. Harry and Draco stopped the Potions Master before he could lunge at Sirius and handed him the now unpossessed stuffed dog. His hand closed around it.
He gave the two boys a shocked look. "Is this…?" They nodded.
"We thought you might like to study it," Draco whispered to him.
"And it really doesn't need to fall into the wrong…er…paws," Harry added. Severus smirked towards the blue bunny and tucked the dog safely away into a pocket of his robe.
The End of the Year feast was decked out in Slytherin green. McGonagall was presiding as Dumbledore was still stuck as a rabid rabbit in the Hospital Wing. "It's time to award the house points," she began. "In fourth place with 127 points is Hufflepuff. Gryffindor is in third place with 283 points. In second place with 325 points is Ravenclaw, and Slytherin is in first place with 549 points." She gritted her teeth and smiled at Severus. "Congratulations, Slytherins. Now let's eat!"
Food appeared on the tables, and Harry grinned as the Weasley twins turned into leprechauns and everyone else from the other houses developed lime green beards. Sirius and Remus gave him jaunty waves from the teacher's table. He couldn't wait for the summer…
Here's a list of the original spells used in "The Lesser of Two Evils: Year One" (on the off chance that anyone wonders about them or wants to use them in another fic):
Nopilosus Totalus- (direct translation: totally without hair) causes victim to become completely bald
Crocinus Lubricus- (direct translation: saffron oil slick) causes a puddle of saffron oil to appear on the floor
Ligocum Catena- (direct translation: to bind with chains) causes victim to be bound with large iron chains
Inluminare Conclave- (direct translation: to light up a room) causes room to be filled with light.
Iuguolo Paliurus- (direct translation: to destroy a plant) causes plant to shrivel up and die.
Prosterno- (direct translation: to destroy; ruin) causes target to explode outward.
Effingo Populus- (direct translation: copy people) creates holograms of people in a ten foot radius
Effingo Quisque- (direct translation: copy person) creates hologram of a person
Ostendo Venenum- (direct translation: reveal poison) reveals poisonous substances
Ostendo Quietus Venenum- (direct translation: reveal sleeping potion) reveals sleeping draught
A big thank you to everyone who's reviewed and/or added me to their favorites list! You guys are so great!! Hopefully, my insanity hasn't driven anyone away from reading the next year when it comes out… :) Merry Christmas to all, and avoid duck-headed floaties worn by rabid blue bunnies!
Nahirta: I'm so happy you liked rapper!Draco. I'll let you in on a little secret…I knew just enough slang words to write those few sentences. :) I wonder if there's a slang dictionary in print somewhere? I'm not sure if there's a massive conspiracy for stuffed animals to take over the world, though. I think they're probably like cats; they want to, but they don't like anything that labor intensive. –Gives out pecan pie-
athenakitty: One large hex on Dumbledore fresh from the press! I just couldn't end the school year without doing something else to him… :) -Gives out pecan pie-
hi: Thanks! Merry Christmas to you, too! -Gives out pecan pie-
Lady FoxFire: Nope. I never had it. That's okay, though. Life is way more interesting without it! :) Hmmm…Draco the surfer dude…that would make for a very interesting 'What I Did on My Summer Vacation' essay. –Gives out pecan pie-
evil manda: Actually, that's the interesting thing. Even if they were Santa's little helpers, they would still be alien elves because the North Pole isn't part of America. Of course, they could always apply for citizenship, but I digress. –Gives out pecan pie-
Signeus: Thanks! Incidentally, the hot cocoa was home-made using melted Hershey's bars, milk, and little marshmallows. It's actually my grandmother's recipe. The pecan pies are also home-made. :) -Gives out pecan pie-
Saetan: Too much sugar, too much caffeine, and way too much Three Stooges! -Gives out pecan pie-
Camarts: Wow…that's a whole lot of pleases… I'm glad you like the story! -Gives out pecan pie-
Drake Smythe: An excellent point, but Harry and Hermione both grew up in the muggle world, so they are more likely to see things from that standpoint. Draco however… I loved your suggestions, but I don't publish a chapter until I have the next one written, and I was a bit too enamored with the attack of the killer tomatoes. Thanks, though. I've actually got an idea for adapting the flying rubber ducks for later use. (grins evilly) –Gives out pecan pie and shortbread cookies-
silver: Thanks! Caffeine highs are the greatest! Nice ideas, by the way. I'm thinking instead of Erised, why not do it in real life (or the story's world, anyway)? Hmmm…a Death-Eater dance-a-thon including the Hokey-Pokey and The Dance of the Sugarplum Faeries with Voldie rapping out an original song… So many possibilities! -Gives out pecan pie-
crazy-lil-nae-nae: I read your review, and I needed to buy a new keyboard! That was great! How 'bout we just call it mutual admiration? :) -Gives out pecan pie-
Elle: Thanks so much!! I just love when people tell me things like that! -Grabs prop as ego swell to the size of a hot-air balloon- -Gives out pecan pie-
Zerostrike: Harry sane? Well, we can't have that! I do hope the rabid bunny with the floaty eradicated any traces of sanity that may have been present! (Incidentally, it's quiet.) Thanks, and Merry Christmas to you too! -Gives out pecan pie-