Author's Note: Not HBP compliant. Reviews and con-crit welcome.
Anti-Litigation Charm: JKR owns it all; I play for my non-profit amusement.
by Silver Birch
Chapter One: The House Cup
"For his courage and strength of character, I award Harry Potter two hundred and fifty points."
Draco rolled his eyes as a mutter went up around the Slytherin table. The setting was the Great Hall, and they had heard this speech from the headmaster, or a speech very similar to it, too many years in a row. Although the reaction was not quite as vicious as it had been in the past, he and his dormmates could hardly be expected to react with joy to their rival's victory. Big bloody surprise that Gryffindor won the House Cup by a landslide.
A few minutes earlier, Draco had even seen the nepotism openly at work: he had caught sight of the Boy Who Conquered gesticulating wildly, angrily, and passionately with the headmaster. They were standing in an alcove off the Great Hall which had previously housed a particularly ugly statue of a goblin, destroyed, if Draco remembered correctly, when some Peeves-inspired plot had gone particularly awry. The blond Slytherin could not hear what they were arguing about, and before he could seriously consider casting an eavesdropping charm (a daft contemplation given that it would have been against what were probably the two most powerful wizards in the world), the argument had broken off. The two had moved to enter the Great Hall, causing Draco to stroll purposefully on his way so that it didn't look as though he had even noticed them. As a result, however, he didn't have the opportunity to determine from body language who had won.
As the applause from the other three tables began, the white-bearded wizard held up his hands to indicate that he hadn't finished, and the students obediently quieted again.
"The eldest of you may recall that six years ago I awarded points to a student who had the courage to stand up to his friends." Draco was not the only one to look at Longbottom – the nearest Gryffindors were slapping him on the back, and Draco narrowly contented himself with a sour expression. Sure, give Gryffindor more points. The headmaster continued, seemingly oblivious to both the Gryffindor's joy and the Slytherin's discontent: "This year it has been brought to my attention that a group of students valiantly stood up for what they had been taught not to believe in. Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle, Millicent Bulstrode, Pansy Parkinson, Blaise Zabini, and Draco Malfoy, for showing your ability to change and grow, for displaying the utmost courage, and for the strength of your new-found convictions, demonstrated by fighting where it was necessary even against your friends and families, I award each of you fifty points. Slytherin wins the House Cup!"
The silence that greeted this announcement was deafening. Even the Slytherins were stunned by this turn of events. Draco barely restrained his own facial muscles when he saw the stupid-looking, slack-jawed expressions on his fellow students. Harry Potter had defeated Voldemort and Slytherin had won the House Cup? No wonder Potter had been exchanging words with the headmaster. The only surprise was that the messy-haired Gryffindor hadn't won.
The stifling silence was broken by the sound of a solitary pair of hands clapping. Looking up at the noise, Draco was shocked anew. There was Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived Twice, standing and facing the Slytherins, clapping for all he was worth and … beaming at them, grinning ear to ear with the kind of incandescence that was normally reserved for his fellow Gryffindorks.
A moment later, Granger rose by his side and joined in his applause; this seemed to spur the High Table into action and, recovering from their own shock, the professors took part in the growing ovation. Slowly and surely, the rest of the student body began to clap as well, many of them following Potter's example and rising to their feet.
To say the Slytherins were flabbergasted would be a gross understatement. Thunderous applause and even the occasional cat call and cheer could be heard in the Hall, and it was all because they, Slytherin, had won the House Cup.
For seven long years, Draco had watched the other three houses gang up on the dungeon-dwellers. He and his house-mates had fought what had seemed like a hopelessly slow, losing battle to show the rest of the world the worth of Slytherin House while the Dark Lord, egomaniacal prat that he was, was busy giving them all a bad name.
Yes, Draco and his friends had chosen to side with Potter, but they were Slytherins, for Merlin's sake – they had all been well aware that the Ministry and the public would be only too happy to Obliviate the lot of them, consign them to Azkaban with their parents, and pretend it had never happened. In fact, it would be very handy for the Ministry coffers if just that situation were to arise.
Yet here was all this applause. Here was Hogwarts, united, even if momentarily, in support of Slytherin House. Here, now, their choice was recognized and applauded. And it had all started with one pair of hands.
Draco Malfoy was left with a stunning and thoroughly confusing notion: Harry Potter had not been arguing Dumbledore out of Slytherin's win, but into it.