Disclaimer: I don't own the characters in this story--the Harry Potter characters--J.K. Rowling does. And her publishers.
A Very Smarmy Valentine's Day
Harry, Ron and Hermione were sitting together in the Great Hall, as usual. They were eating lunch at noon, as usual. They talked about Malfoy and Snape and Quidditch, as usual. But something very unusual was about to happen.
"Attention, students! Can I have your attention!" It wasn't a question, coming from Minerva McGonagall, especially when she was armed with a magic megaphone. "Silence!" Everyone grew quiet. "Good. I have an announcement to make. As you may or may not know, our former Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, lost his memories two years ago in an...er...unfortunate accident. Those of you who have studied Charms extensively know that it is almost impossible to regain one's memories after a Memory Charm has been cast on one."
Hermione nodded her head up and down repeatedly. Ron sighed. "We know you know that already, Hermione, you don't need to break your neck showing us."
Professor McGonagall glared at Ron and cleared her throat. "Well, quite miraculously, Lockhart has regained his memory, at least for the most part. To--" and now McGonagall was looking quite pained, "--to...celebrate this happy occasion, he has requested to visit Hogwarts for a day to promote his new books, Gossiping with Gnomes, and Haggles with Harpies. There is another reason for his visit, though. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and Lockhart would like to throw a party in honor of that...and himself....It should be similar to the memorable celebration he threw last year, except it will be for the duration of the day. Yes, classes will be canceled tomorrow." It looked like someone had just rained on McGonagall's parade. "And Mister Lockhart will have signing sessions for the students. He will also be handing out autographed pictures of himself, like anyone cares--I mean, if anyone cares for a photograph. I would like to state lastly that this idea was approved by Professor Dumbledore and not myself. You may resume your lunchtime activities now."
The Great Hall grew very loud with talk of the day off. Hermione was the only one frowning in the whole room, with the exception of Professor McGonagall. "Why would he come to a school to promote a book? I mean, some of us like books--me, for example--but most students aren't going to buy them."
"If it's got a nice big picture of Lockhart on the front, you will, right Hermione?" teased Ron.
"Of course not! I can't believe you'd think I'm that superficial...anyway, that was two years ago."
"Hermione's right," said Harry. "Why would he promote books at Hogwarts?"
"Well...there could be a reason..." started Hermione.
"If he regained his memory, he must have remembered that you know his secret--that he doesn't write his books himself. Maybe he wants to make sure you don't tell anyone. It would probably be bad for book sales if people knew."
Ron and Harry gulped nervously.
"Don't worry about it! Lockhart's not exactly known for his wizarding skills--well, I mean, he is, but not really." Hermione looked a bit confused.
"You're saying he's a brainless git who pretends to be a genius," said Ron.
"Precisely! Ron, if you're not going to eat that Chocolate Frog, could I have it? They're my favorite."
The next morning, Harry and Ron woke up at about the same time, eleven o' clock. They rubbed their eyes sleepily, looked at the clock, and yelled at the same time, but said two very different things:
"WHAT?! We're late for class! REALLY LATE! Why didn't my alarm go off?"
"Oh yeah, no school! I'm going out to the Quidditch field!"
Ron blinked. "Eh, no school? Why?"
"Remember, Lockhart's back for a day. We got all our classes canceled."
"Oh, yeah. I forgot." Ron was not at his intelligence peak in the morning. "Quidditch? What's that?"
Harry's jaw dropped open. "You don't remember what Quidditch is? Did someone perform a Memory Charm on you?"
"Just kidding. I'm not that daft in the morning...am I?"
"How about we see what Lockhart's up to before we go to the field?" asked Ron.
"Sure. This should be good. Is Hermione up yet?"
"How would I possibly know? Are you saying I've been up already, sneaking into the girls' dormitory?"
"What? Are you saying I've been in the girls' dorm? I haven't been, I just woke up!" asserted Harry indignantly.
"So did I. Never mind. I'll get Hermione." Ron rolled over and fell out of bed onto the ground. "Ouch." He stumbled out of the boys' dorm. Harry waited a long time. Just as he was going to get up and see if Ron was all right, he heard a loud "OY, HERMIONE! ARE YOU UP YET?" There was another long wait. Harry pulled on his robe and walked down to the common room just as Hermione came out.
"What do you want?" she asked.
"We're going down to the Great Hall and then the Quidditch field. Are you coming?"
"Um..." Hermione looked down to the floor. "Well, I would, but I have something to take care of. It's kind of important. I'll catch up with you in about an hour or two at the Quidditch field, okay?"
Ron turned to Harry and gave him a look that very clearly said, 'She's getting an autographed picture from Lockhart'. Harry shrugged and turned to Hermione. "If that's what you want to do. We'll be waiting for you."
Fifteen minutes later, Ron and Harry were on their way to the Great Hall. As they got nearer, they heard the strains of loud opera music. The smell of roses was very strong in the air. Just as they opened the doors into the Great Hall, a green Snape ran through the doors, knocking Harry and Ron off their feet.
"Ugh...All the pink, all the roses, all the curls...I'm going to--GHRACKAHCK!"
Ron looked behind his back quickly, then turned back again. "I think I'm going to be sick too. Don't look behind you, Harry, whatever you do."
"What, did he--Oh...that's gross. Come on, let's go inside."
They walked in together and looked around the Hall. Heart-shaped confetti was falling from the ceiling, as well as rose petals. Large pink flowers were blooming on the walls. A table in the center of the Hall was adorned with a statue of Lockhart, carved from pink ice. Chocolate Frogs and other candies decorated the table too. "I really am going to be sick," muttered Ron. "This is disgusting. But that chocolate looks pretty good."
"How can one person be so conceited?" asked a bewildered Harry. "Losing his mind didn't do him much good."
Just then, the man himself, Gilderoy Lockhart (Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defense League, and five-time winner of Witch Weekly's Most-Charming-Smile Award) walked up to Ron and Harry. Lockhart was donning a pure-white robe, decorated with red hearts.
"Well, well, well," said Lockhart. "Well, well, well. If it isn't my two favorite students, Ron Weasley and Harry Potter. Well, well, well." He stroked his beard; well, he stroked his chin where a beard would have been if he had had one. Gilderoy Lockhart was always clean-shaven. "I haven't seen you since that...incident back in the Chamber of Secrets." He smiled coldly; it definitely wasn't the smile that won him the Most-Charming-Smile Award. Then he patted their backs in a very hard way. "Have you come to take part in the party?" Suddenly he pulled the boys aside and stared into their innocent faces. Lockhart's blue eyes narrowed. "You boys haven't been talking about the little conversation we had that day in the Chamber, right?"
"Well, no." Harry crossed his fingers behind his back. It wasn't really a lie anyway. He'd only told Hermione, who told Seamus, who told Dean, who told Neville, who told Parvati, who told Lavender, who spread the tale to every person she knew and some that she didn't.
"Good. Keep it that way." Lockhart smiled suddenly, but it didn't look sincere. "Have you seen the ice statue? Isn't it a wonderful likeness? Of course, it should be more handsome, much, much more handsome...but, still, not everyone gets an ice statue of himself commisioned!"
Ron groaned loudly.
"Something wrong, Weasley?"
"Er, no, frog in m'throat...Chocolate Frog."
Lockhart stared at him suspiciously. "Well then, I must be going. My fans are anxiously awaiting me." He strolled off, humming a song about a pixie that broke his heart. Pansy Parkinson was the only other one in the Great Hall, but she did look anxious: she was holding a pile of Lockhart books that stretched above her head and squealing.
As Harry and Ron left, Ron said, "At least Hermione wasn't there."
"Yes, I wonder what she's doing?"
Lavender swooned for what must have been the seventh time that morning. "It's just so romantic! A letter from a secret admirer!"
Hermione sighed. "It doesn't do much good if you don't know who it's from."
"Look, that's the difference between you and me, Hermione. I get a letter from a secret admirer, I'm happy that I got one! You get one, you're upset because you don't know who sent it."
"That's awfully important. What if it's from, oh, I don't know, Crabbe? Or Goyle?"
Lavender shuddered. "Don't say things like that! I'm just saying you have no sense of romance."
Hermione looked at her valentine again. "Seriously, who could they be from? Let's see..." She pulled out a piece of parchment from her desk drawer, as well as a streamlined quill and a bottle of black ink. "It must be from a Gryffindor boy, because they're the only ones who could get inside our House. And it's almost definitely a boy in our year." She wrote down three names very neatly on her parchment, then, almost as an afterthought, scribbled down two more. "Neville Longbottom, Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan--harrypotterandronweasley."
"Hmm? I couldn't hear that last part," said Lavender, grinning wickedly from ear to ear. "Say it again, more slowly."
"Ahem...Neville Longbottom, Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan, Harry Potter, and Ron Weasley."
"So, what's your point?"
"Well, obviously, it was one of these five boys! I'd like to know who gave me my valentine!" said Hermione, fingering the lace on her card. "We just have to ask the people who were in the common room who they saw sneaking up into our dormitory, and we'll know!"
"Like, we'll collect clues or something?" asked Lavender, who was twirling a piece of hair around her finger and chewing on it.
"EXACTLY!" said Hermione triumphantly, waving her quill in the air. It had always been a fantasy of hers to be a detective, piecing mysteries together like...like...
Lavender groaned. "Sherlock Hermione's at it again. Mind if I tag along? Even though it'll ruin the mystery, I still want to find out who gave me my valentine."
"Yes, you can come if you like," replied Hermione, mentally adding 'Watson' to the end of that sentence.
Suddenly Lavender brightened up. "How about we just go ask Professor Trelawney? She'll know, for sure!"
"I don't think so." Hermione wasn't in the mood to hear mystic mumbo-jumbo.
"Fine. We can do it the hard way," sulked Lavender.
"Well, come on then, let's go!" Hermione dragged Lavender by the sleeve of her robe down the stairs to the common room, where Parvati was talking excitedly to Neville. "Hi, Parvati, did you see...well, did you see a boy sneak up into our dormitory this morning?"
Parvati nodded wisely. "Oh, the valentine. A secret admirer, huh? Well, I don't need one--" She wrapped her arm around a bashful Neville. "--but yes, I saw the person who gave you your valentine. I was in the dorm when he put it on your bed--you were still sleeping--and I was just getting up then. I was still sleepy and I saw him leaving. I screamed, he screamed, and then he ran off."
"So, who was it?" asked Hermione anxiously.
Parvati frowned. "Well...all I saw was his back, and it was still dark. All I remember is that he was wearing a red shirt. That means it must be...let's see...Seamus, Ron or Harry. They were all wearing those 'Gryffindor Spirit' shirts." She turned to Lavender. "Sorry, Lav, but I don't know who gave you yours. I only saw Hermione's secret admirer. But, why don't you ask Fred and George? They were in the common room too."
Hermione made a note on her piece of parchment. "Thank you for your help."
"That's all right, I just want everyone to be as in love as Neville and I are, right Nevie?" Parvati looked down to a furiously blushing Neville, who smiled weakly. "Good luck!" She pulled Neville over to the picture hole and they left together.
"What was that all about?" asked Lavender, grimacing. "I never would have guessed...Parvati and Neville...."
"The heart wants what it wants," quoted Hermione. "At least she knows who admires her. But we got some clues, right?"
"I didn't," muttered Lavender.
"We will from Fred and George. Let's go!" shouted Hermione.
Harry and Ron strolled down to the Quidditch field slowly. While they were passing by a statue of Helga Hufflepuff, they noticed that a strange aroma was filling the corridor. It was quite similar to that of rotting flowers, mixed with the smell of Moaning Myrtle's toilet.
"Ugh, what is that?" moaned Ron.
"It smells like--TROLL?" Actually, it smelled like a troll wearing rose perfume. Harry spun around to see a troll donning a long, silky pink robe, strumming a golden harp, and wearing a wig of beautiful blonde hair. It tweaked out a few horribly high-pitched notes on its harp.
"Is this one of Lockhart's idiotic ideas? A singing troll?" said Ron. "I can't believe he's such a stupid--"
"Hey, there's another troll," said Harry, a little too loudly. And there was another troll, coming up behind the first. Both were staring at Harry and Ron. "Come on, let's go, I don't want a singing valentine." Harry pulled Ron along down the hallway. As they put more distance between themselves and the trolls, Harry's worried mind wandered to other topics, but he was silent the rest of the walk.
"Soooo, can I have a ride on your Firebolt?" asked Ron pleadingly.
Harry turned from Ron. He lifted his head and looked around the hallway.
"That smell, it's back again. The troll smell."
"Ew, you're right...Hey, Harry, are you all right?"
Harry was standing very still and looking a bit pale. "The trolls--look at them."
Eleven trolls were walking quickly toward Harry and Ron. Ron blanched at the sight of the big clubs they were carrying. "Ulp." The trolls began sprinting toward them.
"RUN!" Harry grabbed Ron by the collar and spun him around so that he wasn't facing the monstrous trolls. "QUIDDITCH FIELD! WE CAN'T FIGHT THEM OUT HERE!"
"LIKE WE CAN HANDLE THEM ANY BETTER OUT THERE?"
Harry and Ron dashed through the corridors, knocking over Mrs. Norris on their way. The cat snarled at them, then squealed as a massive troll stepped on its tail. "KREOWWW!" Hearing Mrs. Norris' shriek compelled the two to run even faster. They reached the Quidditch field, and the trolls were still in hot pursuit.
"WHAT DO WE DO NOW?" yelled Ron over the clomp-clomp of dainty troll feet.
"GET ON A BROOM!" shouted Harry, gripping the handle of his own Firebolt, then swooping into the air. Ron did the same with Malfoy's Nimbus Two Thousand and One, which happened to be lying out. The trolls barreled at Ron, just missing him as he rose into the air. Then the trolls reached into their pink robes and pulled out large brooms of their own.
Ron swerved sharply away from an airborne troll and flew toward Harry. "Now what? They have brooms too! They're like giant Bludgers! This must be Lockhart's work--TROLLS DON'T FLY!"
"We've got the advantage of size--" Ron started to protest, but Harry silenced him--"because we're a lot smaller and can dodge more easily. We're also quicker and a whole lot smarter. I've got an idea. Fly toward one of the hoops, but let a troll get real close to you before you go through."
Ron grinned. "Oh, I get it! C'mon, trolls!" He dived at one, then turned straight up in the air. The enraged troll followed Ron as he twisted and turned across the field, followed him as he sped toward a hoop, followed him right through the hoop--except he was too big to fit. The troll bonked its head on the hoop, fell off its broom, and plummeted to the ground. Over on the opposite end of the field, Harry was being pursued by three rogue trolls. Just as he would have been hit, he swerved sharply across their flight path, causing the trio to fall back and lose control of their brooms. They fell on top of the first troll down; the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Meanwhile, Ron was trailed by two more trolls. He led them along slowly, then suddenly shot straight up. The trolls, who were too heavy to do Ron's aerial acrobatics, slipped off their brooms.
Six down, five more to go. Harry ascended high, higher than the stands, higher than Gryffindor Tower, so high it made him dizzy and a bit queasy. Down below was a cluster of three trolls, looking clueless. Suddenly he shot down, gaining incredible speed, rushing toward the ground--the trolls looked up, saw him, and shrieked as only trolls can shriek--Harry shot right past them, and the not-so-poor trolls, trying not to get hit, slid off their broomsticks. He cheered as he pulled out of his dive, razing off the grass where he curved back up. Across the field, Ron was darting around quickly, flitting back and forth, taunting the trolls into following him. Two did; they couldn't keep up and were slammed off their brooms. Only one troll was left. Harry and Ron looked at each other, both knowing what the other was thinking. At exactly the same time, they zoomed toward the lone troll. The troll was between them. It screeched and jumped off its broom just before Harry and Ron reached him. Right before they would have collided, Harry reached out and grabbed the tip of the broom Ron was riding. Ron did the same with Harry's broom, effectively stopping them from flying into each other.
Ron took one hand off his broom and gave Harry a high-five. "How many people can say they've faced eleven trolls on brooms and lived to tell about it?" he said proudly. "I can't wait to tell Fred and George, they won't believe it."
"No, they probably won't, because the trolls were after us, for Lockhart, I'm sure--why else would trolls be chasing us down the Quidditch field? Lockhart didn't bring them here just for poetry readings," said Harry grimly.
"But really, how bright is he--remember the Cornish Pixies? D'you think he's got anything else planned?" Ron lowered his broom to the ground, then stepped off. "Malfoy's got a great broom--not as good as a Firebolt, though."
"I think we should talk to Dumbledore," said Harry thoughtfully. "He'd be able to help us." Harry also jumped off his broom, then followed Ron out of the Quidditch field. As they walked through the halls, they noticed the sudden lack of trolls. Perhaps the eleven had been all. But Harry wasn't ready to bet on that; he hadn't been particularly fond of trolls ever since he had stuck his wand up one's nose back in his first year. His wand had never been the same after that.
Strangely, it seemed as if everyone had left the hallways. Ron and Harry hadn't seen anyone on their way to Dumbledore's office. They turned a corner and, suddenly, two gigantic, hairy trolls were only inches from their faces. "ARRGH!" Harry turned, ducked into the nearest doorway, and went inside. He waited a second for Ron, then bolted the doors shut. They were in the Great Hall again, but it was deserted this time. Ron peered out a window in one of the doors and saw a troll smirking at them. In fact, trolls were posted outside every exitway. Harry and Ron were trapped in the Great Hall. It was a bad spot to be in, but at least there was no Lockhart to deal with, at the moment.
Fred snickered loudly, watching his twin brother George setting off a Filibuster by the secret door to Slytherin House. Of course, the location was no mystery to the former owners of the marvelous Marauder's Map. Good old Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs! George gingerly slipped the firecracker under the slight opening beneath the stone door, then...BAM! The door swung open violently.
"What is the meaning of this?!" yelled Draco Malfoy, who had somehow gotten red and orange ashes in his hair. The remaining ashes kept sizzling, and Malfoy hit himself on the head to try to put them out. "Ow!" He looked around to find the evildoers, and there they were, leaning against the adjacent wall, one whistling an innocent tune, the other reading the latest copy of Magical Mischief-Makers Monthly: the Weasley twins.
"Hello, Malfoy. Looks like you've got something in your hair," said George.
"Better not play with Filibusters, they're dangerous," commented Fred airily.
Malfoy hit his head harder. "Wherever there's chaos, there must be--ow!--a Weasley. I suppose you're--ouch!--responsible for the loss of my broom, too. Well, I'll--ow!--be going to--Ow!--Professor Snape about this!"
The twins shrugged simutaneously. "I don't know if that's such a good idea--" started Fred.
"For you, we mean--"
"Because, how would we possibly--"
"Know where the Slytherin House entrance is?" finished George. "Looks pretty suspicious, even if Snape doesn't like us."
Malfoy growled at them, then stormed off toward the restrooms, undoubtedly to check on his hair.
"Heh heh heh...usually thinks up a better comeback than that," laughed George. "It must have been the shock of having his hair messed up."
"So, what now, a Dungbomb, perhaps?" asked Fred, pulling from his pockets ten of the smelly things.
"You must have read my mind. Let's go to it," said a smiling George.
Just then, Hermione and Lavender ran up behind them, panting loudly for breath. "F-F-Fred, G-George, been l-looking...all over school...for you..." stammered Lavender.
"And trolls...dressed in pink...all through the hallways--for that Lockhart--tried to avoid them, not many other students are out," said Hermione, gasping. "What...are you doing...h-here?" She looked from the array of Dungbombs to their mischievous grins. "Oh--up to...the usual?"
"Yes, just livening up those long-faced Slytherins. They need a good laugh, wouldn't you say, George?"
"We just made Malfoy's life a bit more interesting, definitely more lively. Well, what do you have to ask us?"
Hermione took a deep breath, then started speaking. "We've been doing a little investigative work, and we'd like you to answer a few questions of ours, if it's all right," she said, quill poised over parchment.
"Oh, we're totally innocent," assured Fred. "You can be one hundred percent sure that--"
"Whatever it was, we didn't do it," said George, making a show of hiding the Dungbombs behind his back.
Giggling, Hermione continued. "Well, we heard that you two were in the common room this morning, early, and so--"
"Oh, the SECRET ADMIRER," said Fred loudly. "Yeah, we caught the romantic bloke. He was sneaking out of the girls' dorm when we found him, and, of course, we questioned him about his intentions, and he told us everything."
"Did he give Hermione her valentine, or was he my secret admirer?" inquired Lavender.
"Ah, young love. He was your admirer, Lav. Would you like to know who he is?"
"Yes!" squealed Lavender. "Please!"
"Well, we would, but we swore an oath of secrecy. But we can give you a clue, couldn't we, Fred?"
"Most surely we could. The clue is...Lavender, your secret admirer...has brown eyes."
Hermione scratched her quill against the parchment. "That means he must be Ron, Dean or Seamus."
"Clever girl!" applauded Fred. He winked at them. "Now, speaking of young love, Ginny and that Colin--not good enough for her, if you ask me--were in the common room this morning as well. They said something about heading to the Astronomy deck, why don't you ask them some questions and check up on Ginny as well?"
"Sure, we will, thank you!" called Hermione as the two girls ran off toward the Astronomy deck. Fred and George let out a collective sigh, watching them leave.
"Do you remember when we were that young and carefree, George?"
"Oh, just barely. Now that we're adults, we must 'set an example for the younger ones', to quote a certain former Bighead Boy. Now, will it be Dungbombs or Filibusters?"