So you might have noticed, this is coming out a little late. School has been pretty all-consuming, and now that I have free time, I find that I spend it all playing video games. I hope to get at least one more chapter up this summer, but I'm going to be holding a full time job-although 40 hours a week is considerably less time than college takes up, I still won't have much time for writing.

Anyway, thanks to the crew at Alpha Fight Club for making sure that my fight scene doesn't suck quite as much as it could have, and here's fair warning-this has only been partially beta'd, and I didn't show the end to anyone before posting it, so there will probably be a few typos/omitted words and I might have forgotten something that I wrote six years ago (Jesus Christ I'm old) in the back story. I would appreciate it if you alerted me to any errors you see in the story, and generally any constructive criticism you can possibly give me. This is my first fight scene, but theoretically there should be more down the line, so please be as harsh as possible so that I can get better at them.

Wit of the Raven

Chapter Fourteen

The actions of his former group made Harry wonder what he had seen in them in the first place. As far as he could tell, they hadn't really done anything for the past few days, since he often saw them around campus in the times when they had usually met to study and share spells. It seemed almost like they were expecting him to go back and apologize. Harry had briefly considered it, but decided it wasn't worth the trouble. In retrospect, some of their accusations were pretty accurate. He had been frequently the last to arrive to meetings, in large part because he didn't really feel like dealing with the drama with Daphne or trying to pretend that Neville's passes at her weren't pathetic.

At the beginning of English class, they cornered McAndrews, and invited him to be their replacement Harry. The group had gotten the top four places in a couple of challenges in September, and had garnered something of a reputation amongst the other kids in the year. Judging by the combination of his facial expression and body language at the time, he was briefly flattered, before he considered the one who had left the group. He glanced at Harry, who stared blithely at a point above his head, and McAndrews' body language expressed a slight concern. Harry wasn't sure what he was thinking. He still wasn't great at reading lips, but he barely had to look at them to see his response, "Thanks, but no thanks." Hannah and Daphne shrugged, and went back to their seats, but Longbottom didn't stop trying to convince him until Wyrner told him to sit down and kindly stop bothering Mr. McAndrews.

Harry could see why Longbottom pursued him. Apparently being the son of "noted spell theorists" made him somewhat of an celebrity amongst intellectuals. Cho had told Harry that the French were currently processing his application to join their ladder as quickly as humanly possible. She had complained bitterly that the Vikings couldn't have two Ravenclaws in Harry's year. Harry had been surprised that Cho was privy to the French ladder's private affairs, and she had promised to tell all before the yearly Hallowe'en feast. With a mental reprimand, he reminded himself that now that he was free of his group, he had an extra hour a few times a week to do whatever he wished. It wouldn't do to waste that time by wondering about his former group's petty power plays.

At lunch, Harry sat by himself at one of the smaller tables, with room for either one or two people. From experience, he knew that they were enchanted to grow a little if a third person sat down, but simply couldn't accommodate four.

The group had decided to sit with McAndrews again for lunch, close enough that Harry was practically forced into eavesdropping. He was unsure whether this was intentional or not. He wondered how Neville had managed to keep McAndrews from running away once they had gotten to the hall, since the kind of table Harry was sitting would have sat four only awkwardly. "Oi, Finn–don't you ever want to go on an adventure, beat some challenges,? It'll be a blast, and we have a crack team of kids, to be honest. Hannah is a fantastic chixor, Daphne and I are genuinely great hunters. We've been sharing knowledge, and it has all been going along very well, especially since Hannah is so knowledgeable in her field, but everything would go so much faster if we had your skill at learning new spells." Neville smiled. "I know I've said it before, but we've always been impressed by how quickly you pick up new spells in charms class."

McAndrews sighed, and Harry resisted a smile, stuffing his mouth with pasta instead. Yes, flattery wouldn't get him very far, even if it was accurate. Neville needed to update the sales pitch. Harry went back to his meal, and managed to zone out of their conversation for a few minutes, but an especially stressed out sigh on McAndrews' part tricked him into listening again.

"While I appreciate the compliment," McAndrews said, his voice slightly strained, "I am still going to have decline your invitation. I'm not interested in adventure, I can learn how to write The Code myself if need be, and the time lost by explaining spell theory to you could be better used just studying it myself. It's simply not to my advantage to take you up on your offer." With a small clatter, he attacked his lunch violently. Harry could imagine the poor roast beef being torn to bits by his cutlery, and barely suppressed a laugh

"Come on," Daphne said with a somewhat peculiar tone, halfway between disheartened and flirtatious. "Harry explained some magical theory to us, it wasn't so bad. We're not complete idiots."

There was another ting from McAndrews, possibly him setting down his cutlery, although it didn't have the clatter that came with just letting silverware fall. "It took me six years of near constant studying to get a decent grasp of magical theory. If Potter is really so good at explaining magical theory, then you should have kept him in your damn group," he said, his voice fairly calm. It trembled slightly as he got to "you", but it had smoothed out again by the time he arrived at "damn". "If you really kicked him out like you said, then you're even more idiotic than I first took you for." McAndrews stood up, and took his plate over to another, unoccupied chair, before returning briefly for his drink. Harry didn't hear anymore words being exchanged, although he could imagine the looks the members of his ex-group were trading.

Fairly amused by the vindication, Harry fought the urge to directly stare at their table. Instead, he moved around his glass of water until he could see his ex-group in the condensation. It looked like McAndrews' change in seat had drawn some attention, and he decided to get a better, less distorted look. He looked over to Longbottom, who gave him an unreadable look until he realized it was returned. Flushing, Neville looked slightly chagrined, and looked away. Hannah wasn't looking at him, and Daphne's eyes were narrowed, although she returned his glance. Her posture was casual, but something seemed slightly off. Altering his lens, he focused on her fingers. The table cloth was slightly deformed by how she was clutching it. Something about his look distressed her.

The thought lost Harry his appetite, since she had seemed only a little weird when they were kicking him out. This was like the metamorphosis from man-killing butterfly to man-cowered caterpillar. Harry didn't really feel like questioning her, but he would keep an eye on her, just in case. If she had discovered one of the things that Snape had advised him to hide, he supposed he had blackmail, but it wasn't really something he wanted to be forced into using. What could unnerve the great Greengrass so? Harry wasn't sure he knew.

He finished up his meal and left. The environment was getting a little chilly for him.

Neville and Co gave up on McAndrews, and Neville just sulked through the rest of the day. After class got out, Harry did his written homework before the Hallowe'en feast, so that he would have some free time for practicing magic afterward.

When it was time for the feast, thousands of kids streamed in, and Harry realized that barely anyone ate during the Great Hall, usually. The hall was expanded, while before it had been easy to find a table, now it was find a needle in a haystack, except the needle turned into hay if you waited too long to claim it. The food had already appeared on the tables by the time he found one, and he took the opportunity to look around the room. It was gorgeous. Gigantic pumpkins lined the edge of the room, and the chandeliers had been converted into massive jack-o-lanterns. The lights were turned down, and an eerie blue color. Everyone seemed paler, and the decor on the walls, which Harry hadn't even thought twice about since the first day, stood out in stark contrast to the white, illuminating the exquisite craftsmanship. He wondered if they had been coated in something special so they behaved that way.

Harry dug in, and was pleasantly surprised to find that everything was pumpkin-flavored, but that it wasn't half bad, even the pumpkin-spiced ham. Midway through the meal, he was interrupted.

Dumbledore strode into the room, and seemed to catch everyone's eye, as the entire room instantly turned to see him. Resounding from all of the corners of the room, clearly the result of some spell, he announced, "There is an impromptu challenge–a troll has been let loose in the dungeons. First and second years, please do not leave the Great Hall, you do not have the requisite experience to combat a troll. NEWT-level students, the prize would be so piddling to you that it's a waste of your time. A prize will only be awarded if you can succeed in knocking him unconscious only. He's a bit intoxicated, but that's no reason that he should be executed. Killing him will result in expulsion."

Immediately, 3rd through 5th years began streaming out of the room, cheering, while 6th and 7th years jeered. It seemed like this was an annual appearance. Harry saw some first years try to follow, but they were stopped at the doors by prefects. Harry didn't even get up–he was pretty sure of his limitations, and figured it wouldn't be worth the expenditure of time, with all of the other kids looking for the troll–besides, he wasn't even sure if he could knock it unconscious, so even if he found it, it wouldn't be that useful. Better was to just eat.

Looking around the thinned room, Harry noticed that there were considerably less students who looked like 6th and 7th years than ones who looked like 1st and 2nd years. He wondered if they usually found somewhere else to eat, or if Hogwarts lost students to attrition as you went up through the years.

A few minutes later, in the middle of a piece of pumpkin pie, an explosion rocked the hall, and smoke billowed up from the center. Harry glanced towards it, then furrowed his brow. It seemed somewhat nonsensical to fill the center with smoke to go and follow the troll, since it simply drew attention, and wasn't near enough to the doors to help some elude the prefects. It must simply be misdirection. Sure enough, the prefects scurried towards the center, to figure out what had happened and to suppress the smoke. A few people coughed. Harry glanced toward Dumbledore, who was looking toward a door on the far side of the hall. A familiarly cropped and frizzy hairstyle was walking very briskly towards the exit. Harry glanced back at Dumbledore, who seemed more amused than anything, and decided to follow her, to see what kind of trouble she got into. He stuffed a couple of slices of ham into a napkin and shoved them into his pocket, and jogged to catch up with her.

He managed to catch her right before she turned down a spiral staircase, and still huffing from the exertion, managed to give her a small military salute.

Granger sneered at him and walked down the staircase, not slowing her pace. After a few minutes of silence, she grumbled as she led them on a brisk walk down the hall, "Just don't get in my way."

"What even makes you think they won't get to the troll first?"

"No one went down this hall, dumbass. I was watching."

Harry shrugged. "Sure, I won't interfere. But I'm not just going to stand by and get killed.."


They walked on, Granger looking both ways at the end of the halls, and Harry just focusing on keeping up with her. After the third intersection, they turned right. Midway down the hall, Granger stopped, quickly followed by Harry. He gave her a questioning look, but she held a finger to her lips, and tilted her head to the side. Harry closed his eyes, and listened. At first he heard nothing, but as his ears got better acclimated to the near-silence, he could hear heavy breathing in the distance, coming from the right. He nodded at her, and pointed in the direction the breathing had come from. She rolled her eyes.

"No shit, Sherlock. Now, listen closely. If it all goes to hell, find cover. I have strengthening potions that should be able to keep us safe until . . . well until the troll batters through them."

"You mean until we escape hell."

"Good paraphrase." She started jogging toward the sound, feeling around in her bag for something as she went. Harry ran to keep up.

When they got there, Granger ducked her head in through the door. She scanned inside for a second, before pulling her head out and nodding to Harry, putting her finger to her lips again. Harry motioned that she should hold up her shoe in the air. After a few seconds of his miming, she got the message and shook her head, turning back to the door. Harry grabbed her arm, and chalked "Perthro" on his right shoe, and stamped his foot. She brought up her shoulders to wince, and raised her hand to smack Harry, before she realized that it hadn't made a sound. She nodded, braced herself against the wall with a hand, and held out her shoes for Harry to chalk, first the left, and then the right.

Granger pulled out her wand, and stuck it in her back pocket. She pulled out a flask filled with grey fog, and pushed the door open quietly. It barely creaked. She crept in, and Harry followed her. They came on little cat feet into the room. Suddenly, everything seemed all at once clearer and more frantic.

The troll smelled of rotting leaves and ammonia. The next thing he noticed was its size. A quick glance around revealed that the room was a bathroom. Stalls lined the wall opposite them, stretching an impossible length. On the wall parallel to the stalls was an enormous mirror, with a row of sinks beneath it. There weren't any windows. Harry hoped that Granger wasn't stupid enough to release a potion that would saturate the air.

The troll was kneeling into a stall, drinking from a toilet bowl. Granger shook as she drew back her hand in preparation for throwing the bottle. Harry drew his wand. The troll gave a groan of contentment. It began to slowly back out of the stall. Granger gave a little gasp. She threw the potion at its back. The bottle shattered. The troll looked over its shoulder in interest. The fog quickly dissipated in the air. Patches of it stuck to the troll's skin, but that too faded.

"God fuck it all," she whispered.

The troll began to turn towards the pair. Granger walked quickly away from its gaze, trying to keep herself opposite its back. Harry stuck with her. He turned his head so that he could see what she was fishing out of her bag as well as keep the troll in his peripheral vision.

"No spells you can use?" His heart hammered in his chest.

"You think a bloody first-year can take down a troll with spells? If I can't outsmart this guy, then I probably deserve to die anyway, y'know. We're going to break for the stalls."

She reached the opposite corner of the room from the troll. She cocked her arm again, holding a second flask, filled half-way with a light blue chemical. The troll pivoted on the ball of its foot and began walking briskly toward the pair. Granger threw the flask. It missed, landing between the troll's legs. She cursed.

She ran for a stall. One hand flailed to keep her balanced, as the other rifled through her bag. Harry could feel the monster in his stomach again, but managed to quell his urges. He went with her into the stall, suppressing his desire to curse the troll to oblivion. He stood on the tank of the toilet. He scrambled over the partition into the next stall. He crouched on the toilet. He breathed as quietly as possible. It was safer to split up.

"Ditching me?" Granger muttered.

"I won't interfere."

"Fu-fuck you." Her voice shivered.

Harry dimly heard a second glass bottle break. Almost as dimly as he registered the pain of a migraine coming on. Soon after, some liquid sloshed to the ground. Granger inhaled quickly. Harry decided that it hadn't had the desired effects. The heavy footsteps of the troll moved closer to their stalls. He heard her slam the stall's door shut. He heard her fumbling with the lock. He realized something. There was pretty much an even chance of something. What was it. Right–that the troll would go for his door, if he was tracking them by scent. Everything was harder to rationalize, but he remembered to draw his wand through the fog of unadulterated aggression that was slowly penetrating his brain. He considered spells that he could use if the troll punched in the door, or ripped it off its hinges, and prepared to overload them; he was in the correct frame of mind already. All it would take was the ability to remember his wand movements. They weren't complex for this kind of spell. He yearned and feared for the troll to come knocking. He stared at the door in anticipation.

He heard the sound of fabric shifting. He glanced over the partition between the stalls. He saw Granger. She took careful aim with her wand. She cast, "Stupefy, stupefy, stupefy!" He saw two thick red streaks of light. They were followed by a pathetic yellowish one. Her breathing accelerated. Harry turned his head a little to see her. With Granger taking up her new job as professional Troll-bait, he felt less anxious and slightly disappointed about the prospects of a Troll arriving at his doorstep, especially since the stunners hadn't stopped the troll, except for what sounded like a small change in direction. Harry had read about the spell, although he hadn't bothered with studying it that closely. He was years away from the level of theory he needed to know to get the proficiency he would need to stun a big man, much less a troll. He doubted her spell had even made the troll drowsy. Granger took a deep breath, and cast, "Kinch, kinch, kinch." She took another breath, aimed again, and cast the same three spells. For each of the casts, a red and silver light streaked away from her wand, first over Harry's head, and then to a spot right in front of Harry's doors. Harry doubted the knife spells had done any damage, and tried to breathe more quietly, even as his heart was beating a tattoo.

He saw the troll's pale legs walk by underneath, and bit back the urge to curse them to high hell. Granger began to whisper a stream of gibberish profanities, and Harry had the distinct feeling that he was trapped on death row. He heard the sound of glass shattering on a rigid surface, and Granger spluttering; she must have thrown a potion at the door in front of her. Probably a strengthening potion. The troll punched the door, with a loud crashing noise, but the typical splintering one didn't follow it. Harry heard Granger scrambling up the tank. The troll repeated its crashing noise. Harry anticipated her next move. He jumped off the toilet seat. She climbed over the partition. She fell down to the tank. The troll made its crashing noise a third time. It ended with a satisfying splintering noise. It groaned. Harry heard an 'un-splintering' noise. The troll carefully extricated its hand from the door.

"Interfere, you fucker!"

Harry shifted his weight. "Stay behind me or a door until I finish this spell."

"What spell?"

Harry kicked open the door. He elicited an undignified squeaking noise from the troll. He muttered, "Reducto!" A red beam of light shot across the room. It shattered the mirror entirely. Granger clambered over the next partition. The troll whirled around as quickly as it could. Harry sprinted out of the stall. Behind him, he could hear the troll laugh with a sick amusement.

After he was well across the room, close to the exit, he took a second to focus on the swirl of emotions circling between his stomach and brain. He managed to push them mostly away, except for bits of rage, and the desire, which he left alone. He concentrated on his wish for lift, and careful performed his spell, chanting, "Shardardia Leviosae," lifting all of the shards up with one fell swoop and flicking them at the troll.

The troll had stopped as soon as Harry has stared casting again, and upon seeing the shards moving towards him, managed to cover his face with his arms. As he lowered them, Harry saw they were peppered with shards of mirror that had slid into them like butter. The troll exhaled slowly, and cricked its neck. It began to casually brush the shards out of its skin–Harry couldn't see any blood, and he wondered how thick a troll's skin really was.

"Granger, get out of there!"

The porcelain shuddered a little bit as Granger leapt from the toilet to the ground, touching down with a running start. Harry hightailed it out of the bathroom as well, and as they ran, they heard the troll, no longer lumbering, but now truly running towards them.

Harry ran out to the right, before doubling back to the left, and indicating for Granger to follow. He panted, "Can you fake the sound of footsteps?"


"With magic!"


Harry thought for a second, before he kicked off his shoes. "Take off your shoes, and after it slows down, throw all of these down the hall, where it thinks we went out. See if you can make them land on the soles." Seeing Granger hesitate, he yelled, "Take off your fucking shoes!"

As she divested herself of her shoes, Harry took off his socks, getting a feel for the smooth stone ground beneath his toes.


"What?" Harry said.

"They're silenced."

"Rub off the chalk."

Harry shifted from foot to foot. He felt the wand in his hand shake a little. He really only had one or two more spells left in him. After that, he'd pass out. He would need to make this count. "Do you know the tripping jinx?"

She nodded. He smiled. "Good. The troll should barrel down the hall before it sees we aren't there, but even if it just walks, even if it barrels down the hall towards us, cast the spell."

"Then what?"

"Its skin is too thick. I'm going to try to cast a spell where it's a little thinner. While I'm doing that, make a lot of noise. Even if I fail, a teacher should come running."

The troll began to slow down as it neared them. Harry's breath caught in his throat. He wasn't sure whether it was because of fear or excitement. It didn't matter. Harry forced himself to breathe. "Throw them," he muttered.

"I'm about to piss my pants," she whispered.

"Me too. Throw them."

"Okay." She lofted the shoes down the hall. They flew through the air, more aerodynamic than Harry had hoped. They landed a good distance away. There were two or three satisfying thuds. He felt like his entire body tense. All of the thought was squeezed out of it. He felt like an orange being juiced.

"Ready," he breathed.

The ruse was good enough, and Harry felt a deep calm settle in over him, the deepest, most enraged calm he had ever felt. The troll came out of the bathroom like a horse from a starting gate. Granger yelled, "Tridia," her tone somewhere between defiant and hopeless. The troll fell like a rock, and Harry sprinted forward, his short legs propelling his frame as quickly as possible, his shoes still silent, although it seemed like his footsteps were punctuated by Granger's "Sonorous" powered screams for help. The monster in his stomach roared in appreciation of the attack, and he ran up the troll's body, even as it pushed itself up. The nooks and crannies between the cords of the troll's muscles worked as serviceable footholds, and he managed to grab the troll's neck before he lifted his enormous mass all of the way. Harry heaved a leg over the troll's shoulder, and dug his fingers into the troll's neck fat. The troll tried to toss him off by flicking his head back, but it only made him dig in more. The troll tried to drag his chin over his shoulder to transform Harry into a bloody smear of bones and muscles, but before he could get his chin over, Harry stabbed upwards with his wand, spearing him in the nose. The troll froze up, and although Harry could feel gigantic troll mucous dripping down his hand, he retracted the wand a little, and as the scaly monster's roar reached a crescendo in his ears, he cast, "Petrificus Totalus!"

He felt the power of the scaly monster running through his body. The troll fell like a rock, as its eyes turned to stone. Harry narrowly managed to avoid getting his leg crushed by pushing off the troll as it fell, and still hit the ground pretty hard, banging his head. He had felt a good deal of backwash from the spell, and the mucous on his hand had hardened–he knocked it against the troll's leg, and it fell into a couple of pieces on his hand. The wand was a different story–he would have to wash it later.

Harry was somewhat surprised when the teacher showed up, and instead of scolding them for not following orders, very calmly asked them how they had taken down the troll, and then awarded them points. They each lost a point for the damage that had been sustained by the bathroom, but over all came out several points wealthier, and then were summarily dismissed so that "the mess" could be cleaned up.

Walking back to their dorms, heart still beating like mad, Harry stopped, and tried to casually offer his hand to Granger. "We make a good team. Want to formalize it?"

"Do you really think I want to interact with the rest of your idiot team?"

"My group is currently only one. If you join, it will be two."

Granger shook his hand once, and then dropped it. "Acceptable," she said, and started walking again.

Somewhat relieved, Harry decided that would be enough for one day. He could talk to her about the ladder later.

"I can't believe those pamphlets. Put your hand on the outline in the book? Fuck that."

"It's actually quite good for learning, much more useful than a simple handbook on the spell would have been."

"I don't need someone to hold my hand."

"It also lets you practice the spell as many times as you want without risking burnout."

Granger glared at Harry, but continued pacing in front of the statue of Barnabas the Barmy. "This is fucking dumb. If you're playing a trick on me-"

Harry glanced at the wall—just as before, when he had been distracted, a door had appeared. "You first," he said, gesturing to the door.

She looked the door, and then glared at Harry again, as if the door was his fault, took a deep breath, and entered the room. Harry hung back for a second, pretty sure of what was going to happen, and was unsurprised when he heard Granger gasp and then start cursing.

Harry walked into the room, where Granger was angrily still cursing Cho, who was casually holding a shield charm. He motioned to Granger to stop, and she did, although she looked mutinous.

Cho looked delighted as she let her shield charm fail. In a flash, Granger cursed her again, with an ingrown toenail charm, but it just bounced off her clothes. "Oh, you're almost out of the textbook," Cho cooed. "She's a darling!" She affirmed to the surrounding Vikings. "She's a hedgehog!" The Vikings nodded, as if that meant something to them, and Mira gestured irritably to Harry to get on with it.

Harry nodded, and stepped forward. "Vikings. I, the Pillager, nominated Hermione Granger to become Madame Hermione Granger."

"For whom, monsieur of the Pillagers?" Mira said, monotone.

"Hermione Granger will become second of the Pillagers, Madame Miranda Biggerstaff of the Marauders." Harry was glad his voice didn't shake. He had practiced. Magical bindings could be dangerous if they weren't properly phrased, even weak ones like these.

"Duly noted, Monsieur Harry Potter of the Pillagers. She shall be moved to the For Review section. By the way, I really don't care if any of you have anything to address."

Harry raised his hand. "I need to drop off a book."

"Fine, just shelve it yourself."

Harry moved to shelve the book. Over the years, the Vikings had collected hundreds of the little pamphlets—one of the Fog and Gof twins had suggested that one didn't really need to attend class anymore with all of the material they had in the room, but Harry had a feeling there was still worth in learning the material in order. The book Harry and Hermione had received for felling the troll had been a girl who seemed to have her head in the clouds, explaining a methodology for applying various fundamental magical theories. Harry had just talked to her briefly, since Snape had shown him nearly the same methodology earlier, but Granger had spent hours with her—they still hadn't learned any magical theory yet in their classes, and she had gobbled it up. Filling in the descriptive sticker that the Vikings' shelving system used for sorting, Harry listened to Granger, sounding only somewhat incensed, answer the questions without hesitation. She had been coached.

As they neared the end of her questions, Harry walked back. "All in favor of membership?" Mira asked.

Everyone raised their hand. "Alright, you're in as a full member, Granger. Potter can brief you on dispositions. If that's all, I'm out." No one had anything else to say, so most of the membership left, going about their business.

"Congratulations, that went smoothly," Harry said with a small smile.

Hermione looked rather pleased with herself, and asked, "Dispositions?"

"Each of the different year of the Vikings is tasked with a specific job. For example, the Marauders are in charge of getting new members. It makes finding new Marauders a little tricky, since we find them after the old ones have graduated, but it's not that bad. We, as Pillagers, are in charge of going forth and bringing back crap, and basically just keeping the Vikings well supplied. We'll each be expected to infiltrate one of the 'real' ladders to steal some of their stuff for our own, and we should probably start trying to find an enchanter to be our teammate."

"You can be part of more than one ladder?"

"Not officially, but we've always been off the books anyway. You won't find us in Hogwarts, a History."

"In what?"

"It's a book about Hogwarts, Neville had one."

"What kind of a pretentious dickwad would read a book about their own fucking school? You fucking go there, you prick."

"Well, that's one way of looking at it. Anyway, our biggest task right now is to keep on winning challenges so that we can keep on getting those pamphlets, and to recruit new members. Do you have any friends who are up to snuff?"

"Don't be stupid Potter, I don't have any friends."

"Acquaintances then?"

She shook her head. "I'll keep an eye out, although I haven't been particularly impressed with anyone I've seen. You're alright, although it would be pretty pathetic for you not to be. I don't know how most of these spoiled kids manage to walk and breathe, they're so dumb. If I had known about magic for the past eleven years I know that I wouldn't be this dumb. At least you don't seem to have been wasting your time."

Harry considered whether to enlighten her, but decided it would be more useful to do it another time. It would be a shock, and she was currently elated-she didn't need to be shocked out of it. "Thank you. Let's go, it's probably time for dinner, and I need to get some homework done tonight."

They walked out of the ladder's room, and toward the great hall. On the way, they ran into the Patil twins, who were both wearing formal robes. "I've heard you're looking for new teammates, Harry," one of the twins noted.

"I was looking for three earlier, but Hermione has filled one of the spots—there are still two left."

The twins looked at Hermione, as if reevaluating her. Hermione glared back, which Harry realized was one of her default looks when she wasn't sure exactly what to do.

"Well I know Harry's in Ravenclaw. Which house are you in?"


The twin on the right frowned. "Well, I'm in Gryffindor and my sister's in Ravenclaw, but if you let us join your team, we can sit out on challenges. It's not a big deal. However, Harry, we would really love if our two teams combined. And since you still wouldn't have a Hufflepuff or a Slytherin, you could add another two to the team, you can think of us joining as two for free."

"Do you know these people, Harry?"

Harry refrained from rolling his eyes, although he noticed that the twins were speaking to each other in the Patil sign language, and they didn't look pleased. "Yes, these are Parvati and Padma Patil, although I couldn't tell you which is which."

The twin on the right grimaced and said, "I'm sorry Hermione-"

"Granger to you."


"You can call me Granger."

She looked peeved, but carefully schooled her face. "Well, I'm sorry Granger, I'm Parvati, and my sister is Padma."

Harry nodded. "Well, we'll consider your offer, but right now we need to get to dinner."

As Harry moved to leave, Hermione announced, "Okay, we're done considering, we don't want you."

Harry narrowed his eyes at her, but the Patil twins just shrugged. They didn't seem particularly phased. "That's fine, we didn't really expect to be able to join Harry's team. Thanks for considering us," Padma said. They walked off briskly.

Harry resisted the urge to bang his head against the wall. "One of them is an enchantress, and the other is a potions specialist. They have both been trained since birth in their specialties, which would have been extremely useful for challenges, and also for keeping the Vikings restocked. Why the fuck did you reject them out of hand?"

"Well, they wouldn't have been able to help with the Vikings anyway, since they're the same house as us, and they just seem like bitches anyway."

Harry nodded. "I suppose you're right. So you're saying we should exclusively consider people from other houses?"

"And who aren't bitches."

"I would appreciate it if you didn't purposefully antagonize people who are trying to befriend or ally with us."

"I'll take it into consideration."

Harry sighed. "I guess I can't ask for anything more."

"You can ask, but I'll just tell you to go fuck yourself."