In this story, the Rune course isn't an ordinary elective course. It can be taken from the second year onward because of the difficulty of the course. Of course, Hermione did so.
This work of fan fiction is based on the novel of J.K. Rowling and will be pulled back as soon as she finds out I did so. I'm that evil.
"Enough of this nonsense! My aura may be thin, but it's more consistent than your predictions!"
After that particularly loud proclamation, Hermione Granger, third year Gryffindor at Hogwarts, got up, grabbed her schoolbag and moved toward the exit. Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter were speechless. Hermione, verbally flipping off a teacher? What was the world coming to? Harry sent a sideways look toward his divination teacher, Professor Trelawney, and saw a familiar glint in her eyes.
"Wait up, Hermione! I'm with you! I totally agree!"
And it was the Boy-Who-Lived's turn to flee the classroom after throwing his stuff into his own bag. Ron looked at them, open-mouthed, only to imitate them without a word. Hermione, in her state of anger, had not yet registered that she had two followers until they caught up with her around a corner.
"Harry? Ron? What are you doing here?" she asked, looking a lot calmer than she should be.
"In case you don't remember,…" started Ron slowly, "…you just closed the door on Trelawney's nose."
"Oh yeah! That insufferable know-it-all wannabe…"
Her two friends could not help but snicker at her choice of words.
"What?" Asked Hermione, not realizing what she had just said.
"Nothing." Harry hid his smile. "And to answer your question, we quit divination too."
"What? No! You can't! Not because of me…" She now had a panic look in her eyes, worried that her rash move caused her two best friends to drop a class.
Harry looked straight at her.
"Last year, you stood by me, with Ron, against the whole school. Now, it's our turn to support you. You were right: she was insulting you. Malfoy does enough of that for everyone."
Hermione seemed a little lost facing such support. She started to walk again, turning her back to them, trying to wipe her wet eyes discreetly.
"Admit it, Harry." Ron said with a smirk. "You just didn't feel like dying for a fortieth time today."
Later, the Gryffindor trio sat in the common room, weighing their options. McGonagall couldn't be partial, but her smile when they said they quit a divination class in the middle and were not going back told them otherwise. She simply gave them sheets with descriptions of alternative courses.
"I don't fancy Arithmancy much," said Ron, looking at the list. "I'd like to take a simple free study lesson but… Mom would go spare."
"She already has enough on her hand already…" said Hermione, looking at the twins who were wreaking havoc with indoors fireworks.
Harry looked at them a moment, shook his head and looked back at his own list.
"That's it!" declared Ron, loudly. "I'm taking Muggle Studies. At least, I'll understand what dad is always babbling about and even be able to show him some. Take it too, Harry! You're muggle raised! This is going to be so easy, we'll ace this!"
"Always the easy way out, isn't it, Ronald?" said Hermione coldly, without looking up from her book.
"What? For once, I won't be asking you for help!"
"Of course not! You'll be asking Harry's! What's the difference?"
"Well… for once we won't make things up to fill our homework!" replied Ron, sure of his argument.
Harry was getting tired of this.
"Anyway, we're not all-brain like you! We're not trying to shine to the teachers!"
Ron realized what he just said a bit too late. Harry's eyes narrowed. He didn't like that assumption at all. Hermione's mouth was slowly opening and her eyes were squinting. Was she going to cry? To yell? Both? They'd never know. Harry's calm but frosting tone beat her to it.
"Hum. Ancient Runes. Could be fun."
Both his friends turned to him in astonishment.
"Mate… Are you all right?" asked Ron dumbly.
"What is it Ronald? Don't think I can do it?" Harry hissed, narrowing his eyes at the redhead.
Ron was anything but stupid.
Okay, he was. But not that time.
"No! I mean, yes! I mean…I've got nothing against Runes, mate! I'm not doubting you or anything! I'm just… I just thought…"
"Ron, shut up for once." Hermione said sharply. Then the news got up to her brain. "Runes… Are you serious, Harry?"
"Yeah. Sure. Why not?" he said, unsure at first, then more convinced.
Hermione squealed, excited, hugging him hard.
Harry looked at Ron, surprised, above his over-exited female friend's shoulder.
Hermione quickly let go, only to grab his shoulder and keep him at arm length.
"We've got to go to Professor Babbling right now! You missed the introductory course last year so we have to find a way to make it up so you can join in with the other third years. Of course I'll help you all I can."
Hermione tugged him to get up, took his hand and dragged him toward the exit of the common room. Harry looked back at Ron pitifully, who looked back smugly, waving his hand in their direction.
'Me and my big mouth.' Harry thought.
A list of books in hand, Harry got out of Professor Babbling's office with an excited Hermione chatting next to him. He was glad that Runes weren't Ron's thing since the books seemed to be horribly expensive. Not that it was a problem to him but even then, Hermione and he agreed it would be better to look for used books. There was no sense in upsetting Ron about his family's financial state by parading around with a bunch of new things.
The Runes teacher was delighted to have him in her class. She said that amongst the ones taking the course, very few actually managed good results and more than one dropped it when they realized they had no aptitude. If Harry showed any talent, the professor would gladly help him to get to level with the other students, even if it took a year. Harry could use his period freed of Divination to catch up. Then, he would join the introductory course of Runes with the second-year students. If all went really well, and he doubled the number of hours the second-year students put on it in his free time he, maybe, could join Hermione's class by the end of the year.
Harry was a little reluctant to join a class full of students a year younger than him, but agreed nonetheless. The professor even lent him the course books until he purchased his own. That evening, Hermione convinced him it would be a good thing to start an introduction to the course. Ron grunted and put back the chessboard in its wooden box knowing they would not get to play that particular evening. Harry didn't feel like saying anything that would start another row between those two. When he saw Hermione starting to spread books all around them, he took a serious tone.
"Alright, Hermione. We'll start this now but it's the first and last evening I'll actually take a 'Rune Class'. Don't make it a habit."
She looked at him, outraged that anyone would refuse taking some free time to get ahead in a class, but she saw Ron's small smile behind Harry. He was trying hard not to look at her. She nodded, not arguing for once, and sat down with Harry at her side.
"Agreed. Let's begin an overview of the course itself. The OWLs goals are to know every runes we work with and their effects. You also have to know their effects when placed beside another. It's like learning a new alphabet and knowing how to make a three-letter word. It's very simple in fact."
Ron, from where he sat, reading "The Rise and Fall of the Chudley Cannons" added his two cents.
"So it's like learning a new language. I'm sorry, but that's kinda hard. On top of that, you have to learn the new alphabet from scratch, not knowing the word that can be formed with it. Maybe it's easy for you, Hermione, but…"
"Oh, hush, you! If you want to discuss it, take the course and come back to me for a study session!"
Ron stuck his nose back in his book grumpily.
"He's got a point, Hermione." Said Harry. "It's a whole new language, the result of which is not to carry ideas or messages, but effects and actions."
Hermione looked down, outnumbered.
"But…" continued Harry, looking back at his books, "It's not something impossible if you study it."
She let a small smile escape her lips. Ron let a huge sigh out and closed his book. He fished in his school bag a new roll of parchment, a quill and a bottle of ink. Hermione looked at him, curious.
"What? If you're going to be talking about work all evening, I'm as well to start my own Muggle Studies assignment."
Hermione looked at him, unbelieving. Ron doing homework? Without being prompted to do it? She turned back to Harry with wide eyes.
"Let's get back to Runes now, shall we?" said Harry, amused.
"Yeah. Let's" she answered, still shaken. "Well, then. The NEWTs goals are…"
"Still a few years away." Harry interrupted. "Let's concentrate on the here and now, OWLs at most."
Surprisingly, they managed to get something done that evening. Even with Hermione always trying to jump a little too far ahead. They covered two Runes extensively. Harry found a trick to classify the particularities of the runes by comparing them to old Viking and Greek gods he read about in a book once. Not that he remembers much about them, but more of their concept. Each of them had a specialty, a territory. Each of them had a personality that fit their specialization. Ron was so much engrossed in his own work he didn't hear any of that. Hermione, on her hand, was puzzled. She never thought of that this way. Runes were runes! They did what they did! They were not alive! She figured that if Harry found it easier to remember them like that, why not?
Something happened that evening but it would be a few weeks before Hermione realized it.
Time passed, as it usually does, with its ups and downs. Harry practised Quidditch, but could not go to Hogsmeade as he still lacked the Dursley's written authorization. Of course, the fact that he practically changed his aunt into an inflated carnival attraction might explain it. He guessed he could try to pass the dementors with his cloak but the Weasley twins thought otherwise. They gave him a special map that was invaluable. Harry mused, once again, how lucky he was to be friends with the Weasleys. Following his friend, he had quite some fun playing the invisible ghost, scarring Draco and his stooges. Still, he was getting tired of the Slytherin always bugging them unprovoked.
Unfortunately, his little escapade to Hogsmeade wasn't all fun and games. Eavesdropping on a private conversation his teachers were having, he found out about Sirius Black, the escaped convict that Ron's father warned him about at the start of the year. He realized, remembering the taunting Draco threw his way on the Hogwarts Express this year, that the story was well known in the Wizarding world, but had been kept from him on purpose. For his own good, of course. He decided right there and then that he would avenge his parents if he had the chance. He could not go against his promise not to chase after Black. Harry respected Arthur Weasley and didn't want to betray the man, but, in a moment of clarity, he realized he would not have to. Black was looking for him. If he was good enough to escape a prison full of dementors, a few of them would not keep him from Harry. When he'd show up, he would be ready.
"Did you get it? I know Ersatz is quite a complex rune, but…"
"It's okay, Hermione." Harry said over his textbook. "It's crystal clear in fact. I guess that's all of 'em."
"Yes. Now, we'll begin the review." She said confidently.
"What for?" Harry asked, confused.
Hermione looked at the ceiling, as if praying the gods to help her. Anyone knowing her would think she's exasperated. To Harry and Ron, it's just a habit she took when studying with them.
"Honestly, Harry. Do you remember all the runes by now? The memory of the first one probably faded by now."
"No, it hasn't." Objected Harry calmly.
"Oh really? Then why don't you tell me which runes we covered in the first two weeks?" she asked, crossing her arms.
And he did. In detail. Spilling all their signification's, known origin and possible uses. After the first one, Hermione looked around to make sure there was not a book open around them, giving him all the answers. After the third, she stopped searching, seeing his eyes looking at her, through her in fact. It's as if he saw the runes right before his eyes. After the tenth one, he stopped. Hermione was speechless, for two whole minutes. Ron was the first to break the silence between them three in the common room.
"Whoa… Harry. That's wicked…"
"Indeed." Said Hermione. "I never heard of anyone learning the first set of runes so fast!"
"Not that!" Ron said, enthusiast. "He managed to shut you up for two whole minutes!"
Harry burst in laughter as Hermione threw a dirty look to Ron. The latter was suddenly looking away, paying great attention at the description of the muggle monetary system in his book.
"You're sure you don't want to revise, Harry?" asked Hermione, uncertain.
"If you insist. It should not take that long." Said Harry, shrugging.
One hour later, they got through the thick textbook describing the runes alphabet. Hermione looked even more flabbergasted.
"Wow. That was intense Harry. You're more than ready to face the second-year class. You're even ahead of them! I'll tell Professor Babbling so you can join the class next week."
Hermione began gathering her own first year books of Runes and stuffed them away. Harry stretched and went to Ron.
"So? Have the muggle accepted you in their secret society yet?" asked Harry, sitting on a nearby chair.
"They have a secret society?" Ron asked , unbelieving.
Harry started laughing and Ron frowned. Having no intention to irk him, Harry started talking about something he was sure his friend would like.
"Sorry there. In fact, they had more than one. They are known to exist, or at least they existed in the past, but the identities of the members, their goals and way of getting to them are mostly a secret. Let me tell you of the little I know about it. Let say… the Stone Cutters."
At the end of that free study session, Ron believed that muggles, unmagical as they may be, could do some pretty cool stuff. In the next days, he tried to find books about secret muggle organizations but, for once, at the greatest shock of the resident bookworm, it was one of Hogwarts's library weaknesses.
A few days later, Harry began the second year's books. He had so much fun looking at how some runes affected others! But even then, what he saw in the books was so…stiff. He'd have to find books from different authors to check out if they were all like that. Harry figured that if his progress in runes could keep on going like that, it could be a cool sideline for a job later. Right after professional Quidditch player, of course. When talking with Professor McGonagall about his new schedule, he asked how much he could earn as a Rune Writer or Designer and what kind of work goes with that particular branch of magic. He was surprised by her answer. The rarity of Rune Crafters meant that even the less talented earned as much as an experienced Auror, the wages just got better for talented Crafters. A truly gifted one could earn more than a Quidditch star without the risks of injuries. Harry never was so happy to have left Divination.
He was currently in the empty common room, enjoying the quiet of his free Divination class. Ron was at his Muggle study class on his new schedule and Hermione… Well, he wondered where she was in fact since she wasn't in Divination. She had a weird schedule that showed two classes at the same hour! Something else was bothering him though. He wasn't really alone. Not all that quiet either. The Weasley twins were there, talking, or more like whispering around some gadget that was making some weird lights and smoke now and then. It didn't seem to work as it was planned to by the look on their faces.
What was really bothering him was that he knew they didn't have a free period. They were skipping classes, again, to make some kind of firework. Or at least he hoped it was. It got Harry angry. Harry realized he was a far cry from being a model student. His potions were passable at best, and he slept in History of Magic. But he attended the class. Now here he was, working in a free period on a course he took, more or less willingly, to replace one that was utter crap. Meanwhile, those two were playing. He liked the twins and thought they were really cool and all, but he could not stop himself from adding his two cents.
"You two must really hate your mother." He said loudly, thinking of a way to breach the subject.
"What was that?" asked Fred, frowning.
"Your mother." Harry repeated. "Either you don't like her or you just don't care."
"Are you searching for a beating, Potter, or a lifelong prank?" asked George, growling.
"Neither." Harry answered, barely suppressing a shiver at the thought. Having to choose, he would take the beating: less lasting damage. "It's just that it's the only thing that comes to my mind right now, watching you two. I know that we have OWLs in our fifth year, and I know you're there and yet, here you are, devising a prank on what, I'm pretty sure, is not a free period. At the risk of sounding like Hermione, aren't OWLs supposed to shape the kind of courses we can take in our last two years? Ones that eventually decide what jobs we can get?"
"And where does our mom enter this equation, oh sage one?" Fred asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"I don't know. Maybe because she IS your mother? That she cares about you? That she worries about you two? All she sees is poor school results and a path toward failure."
"Where is it written exactly that what we are doing is purely for fun? That we won't make a living out of it?" asked George seriously, thinking to have nailed him down.
Harry looked at them silently before replying in a low voice.
"Then it's even worse."
"Damn you, Harry! Could you, at least, have a little faith in us? We thought you were a friend! You sound just like our mother, who thinks we can't do anything at all! But our business will work!"
"I don't know if it'll work or not. I'm saying it's even worse… for your mother. Put yourself in her shoes for two seconds. Your sons have poor results at school, and you're at the point of yelling at them to push them to do better. Somehow, your sons fail. How will you forgive yourself? I know she won't. She'll keep on wondering what she did wrong all of her life."
"But…" started George.
"Yes." Harry interrupted. "Let's take the probable possibility that you succeed. A huge success. Your flourishing business earns more money in a month than your father in a year. She'll regret for never having faith in you two, to have doubted you. Not only did she never help you achieving your goal but she stunted your efforts, punishing you for what made you a success. She's going to feel like she was a really bad mother."
Fred and George looked down at what they were working on. It didn't seem so funny now.
"And if you want to know when I became such a smart arse, I'll just say it's when I took Runes to replace Divination. She's going to be glad that I'll have one more string to my bow."
Harry turned his back to them, resuming his reading before realizing he could not concentrate anymore. He threw his book in his bag and exit the common room, slowly making his way for the last period of the day.
The twins laid back on their couch. They looked at each other, synchronized as always.
"You know, I think the shape of this firework is a transfiguration problem. We should ask Professor McGonagall for some catch-up work."
"I quite agree, brother mine. I think it would not be that bad to review charms a little too, for the colours, of course."
As the twin left her office, Minerva McGonagall let out a small smile. What had those two come around like that? Apologizing for the period they missed, and asking for catching up lessons at that! Still, they missed a class. It was not their first time either. She gave them detention for two hours, every Monday until she deemed it enough. They looked quite disappointed, but didn't argue. If only they knew… She would take back their education to the first year and make them understand and master it all up to their fifth year. 'That'll teach them. Literally.' Minerva thought with a smile tugging at the corner of her lips.
The next week, Harry was back in a classroom during his ex-divination period. He was looked at oddly at first, since getting a new student in the school year, after two months or so, it was quite rare. One that wasn't even in your year was unheard of! Professor Babbling explained to the class about Harry changing his elective and that, because of his schedule, he was attending the Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff class instead of the usual Gryffindor/Slytherin one. Harry didn't know any of them very well but waved at the end of the professor's explanations. The open stares were quite unnerving but he learned to put up with them by now. The class began. They worked at the Az rune. Harry followed with rapt attention. He caught a few titbits of insight that were new, but nothing concept-shattering. Then they practised writing them on a sheet of parchment. The teacher reminded them to work precisely since they would get blocks of woods to write on in two weeks. Probably it was more difficult, Harry mused.
Harry took a roll of parchments and wrote a few 'Az' runes on it, doing it like he always did when taking notes. Seeing this, the teacher went to his side and looked at his work.
"No, no, no! Harry! You're not using the Quadrant Case to write them! I want you to write them as you would use them. For a rune to work, it must obey some rules of proportions and size."
"I'm sorry professor. I don't know that method." Harry answered, surprised.
He heard a few students snickers.
"It's nothing to worry about, Harry. Haven't you read 'The Quadrant Bond, first edition?' I lent you?"
Harry smiled nervously, opened his school bag and pulled out all the books the teacher gave him the first time they met. The Rune teacher looked surprised and a little put off.
"I didn't give it to you? It's my mistake then. I'll just show you the basic of the method on theses runes you wrote and I'll lend you a book so you can catch up the rest of this period. However, you'll have to learn it on your own time…"
"It's not a problem, Professor. In fact, I can return those books to you. Mine should arrive by owls tomorrow."
"Excellent!" The teacher took a chair and a quill and began directing Harry where to make lines around the first runes he drew.
"Now see, these lines I just made you draw are the tangent of the curves of the rune. They must join like this. Hum. At first look it's not half bad. Then, by extending them a little, make them cross…yes. And then take the crosses as references for new lines… yes, like that. Then it must be tangent of the inside curves. Now take your compass and draw circles of the diameters of the first line, it should encompass the rune on its border. Yes! Like that! Just… like that…"
Now the professor looked puzzled, and astonished. Harry looked at the gathering of lines and circles and saw the geometry, the perfect symmetry the technique provided. Seeing his rune fit perfectly at the middle of it all was the icing on the cake. It gave him a feeling of perfection and accomplishment.
"Thanks you, professor! This way of checking if your rune is well drawn is fantastic!" Harry thanked her.
When Harry looked up from his sheet, he was surrounded by the whole class. The rune teacher looked up too and smiled.
"Well, that certainly drew attention. The Quadrant Case isn't a way to check out a rune, Harry. It's the only known manner to write them correctly."
The professor took the parchment, examining the perfectly straight lines his new student made without the use of a ruler. Not pointing it out, she took out her own ruler and drew lines around Harry's second rune. Her cheeks got a little redder as her lines were as straight as Harry's but lack a certain… elegance, if it was possible. She drew a quadrant case over each of the runes Harry already made. They all fitted in. Some seemed a little different from others, but were still a perfect fit. They all had their own balance.
"Well, then. Hum… You could…"
"The Book?" suggested Harry, wanting nothing more than to get out of this embarrassing situation.
"Yes. I'll get it for you. Now class! Back to work! Practise these runes until you can draw them asleep!" the teacher enthusiastically said.
Students got back at their places, some mumbling something about it being unfair while others were simply amazed. Harry turned his head back on his scroll only to feel long hair brush against his cheek. He jumped back a little in his seat, getting some distance with the girl hunched over his work. The blond girl was looking at it intently. She finally turned dreamy eyes toward him, an enigmatic smile playing on her lips.
"You have a gift, Harry Potter," she said in a soft, lost voice.
"Uh. Thanks… umm"
"Luna Lovegood. Second year Ravenclaw. Don't be shy to ask for help at anytime but…" Then she turned at the perfect set of 'Az'.
"It might be the other way around…" she finally said.
"Hum. Sure! Anytime!" said Harry, glad to have a second opinion on his work, no matter how… special she seemed.
The girl looked at him, a little bit surprised. She gave him a radiant smile before going back at her place, playing with her butterbeer bottle caps necklace. Harry noticed then her wand was tucked behind one of her ears. Ears decorated with radish earrings.
"Don't talk too much to her," a boy whispered to his left. "You'll catch Looney's weirdness."
A couple of other Ravenclaw around snickered. Harry was more than a little angry. He knew what it was to be called weird. He suffered of it quite a lot when people found out he was a parseltongue the year prior. He looked at the boy, doing his best faking a surprised look.
"Weirdness?" He said a little too loudly for the young boy's taste. "You don't recognize this, do you? It's true that you're still a little young…"
"What do you mean?" asked the boy angrily, on the same level.
"It's not weirdness!" explained Harry slowly, smiling to himself. "It's style! She's got her own! Forget it. You're too young to understand."
The discussion was cut short as the teacher came to lend Harry her book about Quadrant Cases. All students got back to their work, not wanting to be caught chatting in class. Professor Babbling was nice, but intolerant of idle hands and minds. She gave a look full of mirth to Harry, handing him the book.
"By the way, Harry. Congratulations. You managed what few, if none before you, had done."
Harry didn't know if he was talking about the runes or the standing up for Luna. Maybe both. Anyway, he was curious about the subtlety of this Quadrant Case and absorbed himself in it.
Things got back on track from then on. Hermione, looking as tired as ever, was ashamed for forgetting the Quadrant Case. When she learned he hadn't needed it, but that he found it was good background knowledge to have, she was silent for a whole three minutes. Ron looked up from his book about non-magical castles in England, then back to it.
"Humpf. Never thought I would see Hermione silent twice in a lifetime. Runes aren't the only gift you have, I guess."
That sent both boys in a fit of laughter and Hermione stomped her right foot once, trying to look angry, and failing.
A few weeks later, Harry was roaming the library on a free evening. He left the second year class with a little regret a few days ago. He was getting to know Luna a little better and liked how the younger blond witch thought. She had the craziest ideas of how to use runes! He just joined the third year class and the teacher saw his progress slow to a normal speed. She was a little suspicious but didn't comment. She was right to be. Harry saw in Hermione's eyes, for the first time ever, the green demon of jealousy that he already spotted in Ron's a few times by now. She was jealous of his innate understanding of runes. So, he downplayed his progress and seemed to study the same things over and over again to understand them.
In fact, he just finished the third year program in runes. He didn't have to really learn by heart the effects of a combination of two runes like they did. He could guess it just by thinking about them, one at the side of the other. Writing on wood was fun but he was impatient to get to carve them. Unfortunately, that would not be before the fourth year. He decided not to stunt his progress and to broaden his learning. He had a nice pile of gold in his vault: it was time to put it to use. He would buy the right books. It took him a whole hour, but he noted the titles of all the rune books which, at first glance, didn't seem to be written by a 'stiff, learned-by-heart' Rune Master. Then, he took his invisibility cape and did the same in the restricted section. His collection would make Hermione jealous! He made sure to ask for evening owls so she didn't notice them coming at breakfast.
The next morning began as all the others did. Harry was deep in concentration in the only book he borrowed at the library the day before, Hermione was in an Arithmancy one and Ron was stuffing his face. But every quiet morning has to come to an end. Not with a potion master this time, but still a greasy git.
"Acting smart, Potter?" drawled Malfoy. "Trying to impress the little Mudblood at your side, maybe?"
Harry was pulled from his deep trance he got when working on rune on the breach of good progress. He was pissed. But Malfoy wasn't done yet. Oh no.
"Maybe you want to carve yourself a nice little hole to hide yourself from Sirius Black? Or the dementors! Maybe they'll try to get you in the Quidditch changing room to give you a nice little kiss! It would be great if they could take care of you bushy friend at the same time…"
"Malfoy." Harry growled in barely contained anger. "Leave before I deal some lasting damage here."
Malfoy was about to say something but saw that Harry had an arm straight, probably pointing him from under the table. His wand arm.
"You wouldn't dare. Even to defend your mud…"
Harry had enough. Despite his threat, he knew cursing Malfoy in the middle of the Great Hall with a majority of the students watching wasn't a good idea. However, he didn't care. And something really weird Luna said to him once gave him a sick idea.
The spell hit Draco on the leg and the result was… unexpected. His robe all but disappeared, leaving him in a tight, outrageous leather suit. Or, at least, what Harry could imagine what an outrageous leather suit would be like. He now sported a shiny black leather harness with tight shorts, spikes and a whip at his side. The best part was the leather mask with a zipper that kept his mouth shut. If Draco had been a boggart, he would have been instantly dissipated from the laughter that erupted in the Great Hall.
"Sorry, Malfoy. I don't swing that way. Please, refrain your urges." Harry said, smiling, while Ron was spilling food everywhere so hard he was laughing. Hermione drew her book close to her eyes, covering her face.
Draco wanted desperately to say something but choose to run away instead. Harry got up from his chair and whispered to the twins, who were howling and whistling at Malfoy retreating form.
"We need to talk. Before dinner, outside the gates." Harry said simply.
The twin looked at him oddly. His eyes were serious. Someone would be in pain. They didn't want to be at the place of that poor bloke.
"What is it you want?" asked Fred, as he and his other self got to Harry. He was sitting against a low stone wall leading to the entrance gates of Hogwarts.
"I need… pranks." He said.
"Pranks?" asked the twins in stereo.
"Yes. I want you to prank Malfoy. Not once or twice. Every day. Multiple times per days if possible. I'll help. I'll purchase whatever stuff you need within reasonable limits. I'm willing to fund research for trying new stuff on him. I want to give him hell."
The twins looked at each other before asking, "Why now…" began Fred
"All of a sudden?" finished George.
Harry had a determined look on his face.
"He called Hermione a Mudblood. Again. He's done that for the last three years. He keeps saying he wants both of us dead and he keeps saying it loud enough for everyone to hear but no-one does anything about it. All I ever really did was to tell him to back off. And now he wants to interrupt my study time? How much of my time will I let him waste? I'm finally sick of it. He started a war back in the first year and I'm sick of fighting it battle by battle. I've only just realized how big a blow I took. It's time for some retaliation."
The twin grinned and went to Harry's sides, each putting an arm around his shoulder.
"Harry, mate, you're…" began George.
"...finally…" pursued Fred.
"...growing a pair. It's going…"
"...to be a pleasure, even had it…"
"...been for free. But with your…"
"...funding, it's going to be grand."
An alliance formed, and the twins went back to work, harder than ever. Some people would say later that, during that week, you could sometimes mistake the fumes coming from the fifth year dormitories for ghosts so thick they were.
Two weeks before Christmas Break, hell was unleashed at the Malfoy Heir.