Chapter 12: Quodditch

The Potters were once again in the library looking for inspiration for new branches of magic that they could alter to make their own. They had recently discovered the concept of wards, something that they had vaguely thought about before, but not to the extent of what they found waiting for them in the dusty tomes.

"Harry, if this is right, then you or Willow might have accidentally put up some wards at the tree. Remember how Dudley is almost afraid of the park?"

"So our idea about the need for runes to be at the borders of the warded area is wrong?" Harry asked.

"Well, maybe, but I think you just did it a different way. Maybe using the runes will make it stronger or last longer."

"You think so?"

Once Harry had taught Hermione everything he knew, he realized the difference between them: Hermione was a genius and could figure things out much easier than Harry, who had an amazing imagination and almost no self-restriction. If he wanted a spell to work, it worked. Together, there was nothing they couldn't do if they tried.

Neville, on the other hand, had reached a limit. It was almost as if he simply ran out of extra room to learn the Potter magic. His classwork had improved so much that he was in the top quarter of every class except Potions, though that was mostly Snape's fault. Neville's confidence when he was involved had actually gone down since he started succeeding in other classes.

"Anyway, let's ward your house too," Harry suggested. "It's impossible for Willow to put them up at your house, right?"

"Yeah, and that's probably a good idea."
"Why can't Willow ward your house too?" Neville asked. They hadn't told them what Willow was exactly, but he knew that she was Harry's guardian.

"Er… she doesn't get out of the house much. Anyway, we can just do it ourselves once we figure out how." With that, Harry passed two more thick tomes to Hermione and they went back to researching. Neville glanced between the two.

"You know that we're not allowed to use magic outside of school, right?"

They both froze and slowly looked up to meet his hesitant gaze.

"I… I mean, I thought it was common knowledge, or I would have told you a long time ago…" He began to withdraw into the nervous state he was in before he met them.

"Calm down, Neville," Hermione reassured him. "We're not mad at you or anything."

"That's right. We're just a bit stunned and confused."

"Especially since we've been using magic for years without any problems."

"Well…everyone is expected to have accidental magic at that age," Neville began. "They don't really care about that unless you do it in front of Muggles."

"Well, that's not a problem. Harry and I have always been very careful about that," Hermione said proudly.

"That's right! We even go halfway across the world to the middle of the mountains if we need to blow something up!" Harry added helpfully.

Neville was slowly getting used to moments like these, so he nodded and continued as if everything was perfectly normal. "Well, you can't do that anymore. Once you go back for the summer, they're going to expel you if you do magic at home."

"E-expel?" Hermione looked as if she had been sentenced to death twice.

"That's a problem," Harry said seriously.

"Well, you can go for three months without magic, can't you?"

"But I'm a wizard! I shouldn't have to, first of all! And I can't go for a day without! It's how I live!"

"Don't you think you're exaggerating just a bit?"

"Harry's house doesn't have a door," Hermione added with the sort of blunt impact that Neville had come to expect from them.

"Right. Well. That's a bit of a problem…"

"I also conjure all my food."

"That's not going to be a problem, Harry. Even if you could conjure it, you're still going to eat with us," Hermione assured him.

"Well, what about just living? Do you realize how much magic we use without even trying?"

Hermione thought about it. Their bond, their magic sensing abilities, Harry's nature skills, Harry's snake-language ability…

"How come you get all the cool powers!?" she whispered furiously as she began to hit his head repeatedly, still conscious that they were in the library, and the library was a place for peace and quiet.

"Ow! It's not like I did it on purpose!" He defended himself with the closest object, which happened to be a huge, ancient-looking book.

"You! Defiling a tool of learning to avoid your punishment!"

"Er… guys…" Neville pointed towards the other end of the library, where Madam Pince was glaring in their direction and a second away from heading over. Hermione blushed and regained her composure as Harry gently placed the book back on the table, holding it with the tips of his fingers as if it would bite him at any second.

"At any rate, all we have to do is figure out a way to break the rule and not get caught." Harry suggested breaking one of the strictest rules for underage wizards casually and with an almost bored tone.

"This might take all term," Hermione said.

"You both actually think you can do this?" Neville asked. They might be bizarrely powerful and incredibly smart, but they were still less than a quarter of the way through their first year.

Harry looked him directly in the eyes. "Neville," he started, "we're pretty sure we could go to the moon if we tried."

"It might collapse the gravitational field of the solar system…" Hermione continued.

"…But in the end, we'd be on the moon."

"Ron finally sent us an owl for the first time since he got to Hogwarts, and it's all just telling about how he almost got killed fighting a troll. Mum was furious, but didn't say anything back about it because he was so happy that he accidentally won his fight. Plus I guess he saved a couple other kids or something."

Ginny and Luna were laying in the grass outside the Burrow, staving off their boredom by either complaining about the other Weasley children (in Ginny's case) or by drifting through thoughts made of dewdrops, dead leaves, and pine cones (in Luna's case).

"Well, it's not every day that one meets a troll that isn't ill with Clumpworth's disease. He was probably very excited, especially if he beat it."

"Clumpworth's disease? Never heard of it."

"Of course not! Do you realize how many trolls would be found out if people knew about it?"

"Found out?"

"Clumpworth's disease makes an ordinary troll look like a stupid, ugly, yet pointlessly strong human."

Ginny giggled. "Clumpworth's disease? You're making it up! Are you serious?"

Luna leaned forward so that she was looking directly in Ginny's eyes and her usual serene expression turned uncharacteristically serious. "Yes, Ginevra. Always."

They both burst into laughter. "It's not funny!" Luna said through her laughter. "It's a worldwide epidemic!"

Luna collapsed onto Ginny's stomach.

As their laughter died down, Ginny looked at Luna as she began to speak. "Hey, Luna?"

Their eyes met.

"Yes, Ginevra?"

"We'll always be friends, right? You're not going to go make other friends at Hogwarts and leave me behind like the rest?"

Luna showed Ginny her signature serene smile. "Of course not. But wouldn't it be the other way around? I'm no good at making friends, but you've always been very popular." Her smile never wavered.

"Of course not! We'll be friends forever."

They lapsed into a comfortable silence for a while.

"What else did the owl say?"

"Not much. Oh, right! He said he's gotten a bit closer to Harry Potter and his sister. I didn't even know he had a sister."

"Maybe he got a new one," Luna suggested.

"They're the same age. And his parents are… you know…"

"Maybe she's his older sister from the future who went back in time."

"I don't think she's a time traveler," Ginny said skeptically.

"Well, maybe it won't happen for another few years." Luna was confident this time.

"…Anyway, he said they're kind of…weird…but they're good people." What he actually said was that they were 'Loonier than a Lovegood,' but Luna didn't need to know that.

"It sounds like he's a good person. I'm glad he's not like he is in all those books and things."

"Yeah… I still wish he was a cool hero person, though."

X

A few days later, Harry and his friends were sitting at the table in the Great Hall when a long, thin package carried by several huge Eagle Owls arrived on Harry's plate, disturbing his breakfast greatly.

"Hey! What's this supposed to be!?" The Owls ignored him, stole his food, and left.

"There's a letter, Harry." Hermione held up an envelope that seemed to have been partially dipped in oatmeal or something of the like, and Harry took it from her.

"It's from McGonagall," Harry read. "She says it's 'an additional part of my punishment and also the most trying.' What's that supposed to mean?"

"Open it."

"She said not to. I'm 'to proceed directly to her office with the package intact' after I'm done eating."

"What do you think it is, this additional punishment?"

Harry went into thought for a moment. "Maybe this is a punishment stick or something."

"No, I think that's more Snape's style," Hermione said.

"And Filch's," Neville added helpfully.

"Whatever. I'll find out in a little bit."

After he finished eating, he proceeded directly to her office with the package miraculously intact, despite the curious looks Hermione and Neville (and Ron, who had been talking to them a bit more since the troll incident) were casting upon it throughout the meal. He knocked on her door and waited.

"Enter," he heard, and followed the command. "Ah. Potter. Good timing. Did you bring it? Have a seat."

Harry sat down in the chair in front of her desk and waited in silence for her to continue, feeling for the first time in years like he had done something wrong. McGonagall stared at him for a few seconds, and inspected the wrapping on the package.

"I'm impressed, Potter. I was sure that this would be open much sooner than the letter would be."

Harry felt that he had permission to smile. "Well, you know Hermione, Professor. Everything has to be done in order, by the book."

"A trait that you, among many others, could learn from." Harry's smile disappeared and he remembered that he was there to be punished. "However, I will admit that there is also merit in ignoring that completely and choosing your own path, as your own prowess with magic will attest to. Go on, open it."

Harry pulled open the brown paper wrappings with no little trepidation. "It's a broom."

"A Nimbus 2000," McGonagall confirmed.

"Is the Nimbus 2000 a punishment broom?" Harry asked nervously.

"The punishment is that you're going to be the new seeker for Gryffindor."

Harry stared at her for a few more seconds. "Seeking what?"

McGonagall blinked. "Are you telling me that with all those books I'm sure you two bought, not one of them contained information relevant to Quidditch?"

"Sorry."

"Well, ask a Weasley about it. I'm sure any one of them will be eager to explain in depth. All you need to know is that it is a sport played on brooms, you will play for Gryffindor, and you will not destroy this broom."

"Right." Harry wisely decided not to ask what sort of modifications he was allowed to make to it.

"Well, that's all for now. Go find someone to tell you how to play and get some practice in. The first game's right around the corner."

"When is it?" Harry asked.

"Saturday."

"What!? But then I only have four days to figure everything out!" Harry began to panic.

"Relax, Potter. If there's one thing you're good at, it's figuring things out quickly and destroying everyone's expectations. We don't normally allow first-years to be on the team, so this is a special exception."

"Just because you want to punish me?!"

"My, no, Potter." She chuckled politely. "Because we couldn't find anyone else and you made an amazing catch out there. If you don't play, then Gryffindor automatically loses on Saturday. To Slytherin. Which won't happen, will it?"

Harry shrank back at the look she was giving him. "No, of course not…"

"Good. Now go find out how to play," she said, and Harry practically sprinted out of the room.

X

"RON!"

"Aah!" Harry had appeared from behind Ron and grabbed his collar.

"I need your help with something! Now!"

"Don't take my blood!" he said, starting to cry.

"What? I need you to explain how to play Quodditch."

"Quidditch," he corrected automatically.

"Good! Keep going. I need to be able to play in a game by Saturday."

"What? You're on the team? What position?"

"Er…" Harry thought back to his conversation with McGonagall. "Well…it's on a broom…"

"Right…"

"And I can't destroy the broom…"

"Harry, both of those describe every position."

"And I have to be able to catch things."

"So it's not beater or keeper..."

Harry stared blankly at him.

"A big thing or a small thing?" Ron asked.

"Well, a small one I guess…"

"Seeker? You're going to be seeker?!"

"Yeah! That's the one!" Harry's eyes lit up. "Wow, you do know a lot about this!"

"This is going to take a while…" Ron thought to himself.

X

After Ron took a few hours explaining Quidditch to Harry, he thought he was beginning to understand how the game worked. Then Ron continued to explain, and Harry realized it would keep continuing for a long time unless something changed. Fortunately for Harry, fate was kind enough to answer his pleas for help.

"Oi! Harry!" Harry looked up at a voice that he did not recognize to see an older student making his way over.

"Er…hi." The first few days at Hogwarts, several people approached him as if they were old friends, only to ask him about his personal mythology. After a while, however, the novelty surrounding him died down and he was mostly treated like a normal (albeit unusual and highly talented) student.

"I'm Oliver Wood. Keeper and Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and defender of the beautiful chasers on our te—oof." One of the Weasley twins came up from behind him and hit him in the stomach with his beater's bat.

"Isn't that our job?"

"Yeah, protect them from you," the second twin said as he also arrived.

"Just keep the balls away from us and we'll be fine," a voice from behind Harry said.

Harry turned around to see three girls that he vaguely recognized from sitting around the Gryffindor common room and the table in the Great Hall.

"I'm Angelina Johnson," the girl that spoke before said. "And this is Katie Bell and Alicia Spinnet. We're the chasers."

"Oh. Hi," Harry finally responded. "So has the entire team come to punish me?"

They looked at each other in confusion. "Punish you for what?" Wood asked.

"McGonagall put me on the team just to punish me for breaking one of the brooms…"

Wood stared at him.

"Okay, two of the brooms. But the first one I didn't break. I just took some of the enchantments off to make it work better."

"Harry…"

"Okay, so by better I mean faster, and it probably would have been dangerous if anyone besides me used it, but I was going to put them back on! They didn't have to go through the entire set of brooms checking for—"

"Harry!"

"What!"

"We have practice," Wood said simply.

Harry calmed down. "Oh," he said sheepishly. "All right, then."

As Wood led them down to the Quidditch pitch, Harry began to make his already fast broom faster. He removed some things like the speed limiter and the auto-braking system and replaced them with an enchantment he made himself that worked in essentially the same way but could be released at any time with little effort, and reengaged just as easily so that he could add intense bursts of speed and tight turns. He left some of the other things on because he really did not want his new broom to be destroyed so soon. Or at all.

"Got that, Harry?" Wood asked as they reached the pitch.

"Sure," he replied, without any clue as to what he said.

"Good. Then let's get started."

For the next few hours, they all flew around doing what they were supposed to, and Harry tested the limits of his new broom while lazily looking for what he now knew to be the snitch. Eventually he heard a whistle and everyone landed.

"Alright. Let's call it a day here," Wood declared. "How'd it go, Harry? New broom okay?"

"Yeah, it's pretty good," he said as he held it up and looked at it.

"Pretty good!?" one of the twins shouted. "A brand-new Nimbus 2000 and he says it's just 'pretty good.''

"Well, I made some adjustments to it, but it's obvious that it can still go a lot faster. Though some of the enchantments are twisted around each other like spaghetti and I'd have to take them all off and put them back again, and I don't know what they all are. There's about thirty of them there and I only recognize about six… I'd have to learn a lot more about broomstick enchanting to do it right. Whoever did this mess needs to learn a lot more, as well," Harry explained with an annoyed sigh.

"You are just a first-year, right?" Angelina said while the rest just stared in shock.

"Well…yeah, but I haven't seen a professionally made broom until a few weeks ago. The past few years I've had to make my own."

The shock increased further.

"Harry…" Wood put his arm around Harry's shoulder. "Welcome to the team."

X

After spending the rest of the week practicing and worrying, Saturday morning finally came around and Harry sat at the table in the Great Hall, counting down the time until the game began.

"Don't worry, Harry," Neville said. "I'm sure it'll go fine."

"Yeah," Ron added. "They wouldn't have put you on the team if they didn't think you could do it."

"He's not worried about the game. He's worried about whether McGonagall will notice all the changes he made to his broom." Hermione glared at him as the others looked on in confusion.

"It'll be fine," Harry told himself.

The Weasley twins walked up behind him. "Let's go, Harry."

"Now?"

"Wood wants to go over some last minute plays."

"For that long?"

"Get used to it," they said in unison, and carried him away.

X

"Now, I want a nice, clean game from all of you," Madam Hooch said as she inspected both teams for signs of foul play. Harry thought that if anyone was going to do anything against the rules, it would be the Slytherin captain, Marcus Flint, who looked like a shrunken-down troll. Madam Hooch seemed to think Flint was suspicious as well, as she also kept a discerning eye on him. As she blew the whistle, the players scattered and began to play faster than most of the crowd could see.

Harry flew up high so that he could see the snitch as soon as it came up, and in doing so saw a huge banner held up across the Gryffindor stands that read 'Potter for President.' Hermione must have made it so that the paint changed colors, but (like Harry) she wasn't very good at drawing. Harry suspected Neville had no talent in that area either. It must have been one of the other Gryffindors that painted a huge lion on the banner.

"There's no Dudley here to ruin every friendship I make," Harry thought. "I suppose I should get to know the other Gryffindors better."

"And Spinnet has the Quaffle, a great pass to Bell—not to mention they're both great looking!"

"Jordan! Concentrate on the game!" McGonagall, who was sitting next to Lee Jordan, scolded him for the first of many times.

"Sorry, Professor. Bell passes to Johns—Flint intercepts, and he's getting out of there quick! He shoots…And it's stopped by Gryffindor keeper Wood! Gryffindor takes back the Quaffle! Angelina Johnson with the Quaffle, going straight down the field—impressive dodge there, and—oh, that's gotta hurt! Johnson takes a Bludger to the back of the head, and Slytherin takes the Quaffle after that open assault on our—I mean—on Gryffindor's chaser!"

Harry watched the other players' frenzy from far up above and felt as if he was completely useless. He hovered, floated, did figure-eights, and the snitch still did not show itself. Harry began to wonder if it had even actually been released, when he saw a flash of gold from across the field. Unfortunately it looked like the Slytherin seeker had noticed it just at about the same time, and he was half a field closer.

"It looks like Higgs has seen the snitch! And Potter follows! Can our youngest seeker in reasonable history pull off a miracle? Or will I be out five galleons?"

"JORDAN!"

Fortunately for Harry and everyone that placed monetary faith in him, Harry was someone that pulled off minor miracles daily with little effort. He took off the temporary speed limiter that he put on and shot forward at twice the safe speed.

Meanwhile, a figure in the stands lowered his wand. "It appears someone has already done most of my work for me…" he muttered to himself.

"What's this!? Potter's put out an incredible burst of speed! I've never seen anything like it! He might actually make it!"

Higgs, the Slytherin seeker, looked behind him in doubt and quickly clutched his broom for support as Harry breezed past him to catch the snitch.

"Whoah…"Harry then breezed past the snitch. "I guess my enchantments still need some work," he said to himself as he put them back on for more control.

Higgs saw his second chance and reached for the snitch at the same time Harry did. As Harry reached for it, his broom lurched forward, putting his hand directly around the snitch.

"GRYFFINDOR WINS! One hundred and seventy points to sixty! And I get five galleons!"

Harry did not pay attention to the verbal scuffle between McGonagall and Lee Jordan, as he was concerned about his broom. He put the speed limiters back on, but one of the balancing enchantments was missing, which caused him to accidentally win the game. He restored it easily, but it was a victory that left a bitter taste in his mouth.

X

The day after the match, Harry, Hermione, Neville, and Ron went to visit Hagrid. Ever since Ron saved Hermione and Neville from the troll on Halloween with his random yet effective spell, he had been a part of their group more and more often. The Potters still adamantly refused to teach him their magic like Neville wanted, however. He had average performance in classes and that was as much effort as he was giving, so they saw no need to add any effort of their own.

While the other three had all visited Hagrid before, but it was a first for Ron, so he was treated as something like a guest of honor. Hagrid made tea for them all, and passed around cakes that they each made an attempt to bite into out of politeness.

"Yeah… I knew yer brother Charlie when he was jus' a student here," Hagrid said as he sipped from his bowl-sized teacup. "I'd 'ave loved to have 'im as my assistant or somethin'. 'E was great with animals."

"Well, he's working with dragons in Romania now, you know."

"Izzat so? I've always wanted ter have a pet dragon, myself."

Even Harry and Hermione looked at him doubtfully at that. "Hagrid, aren't dragon's big and…well…fiery?" Hermione asked.

"Well…that is ter say…" Hagrid thought about it for a moment. "Ye'd just have to get an egg an' raise it from birth!"

"And the fire?" Everyone watched as Hagrid struggled to come up with a response.

"Er…well, I'm sure it'd work out somehow! But enough about me. How're yer classes goin'?"

They talked for a while more before leaving to go back to the castle. While Ron and Neville were distracted by talking with each other, Harry opened his link to Hermione.

"Did you notice anything odd about Hagrid?" he asked her.

"Hmm…well, he was a bit quieter than usual," she thought. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, he was worried about something so much that every time I looked him in the eyes he projected his thoughts out."

"Harry! That's legilimency! You shouldn't be doing that, especially on a friend."

"It's not like I was trying to! Besides. I stopped looking him in the eye when I realized what was happening. He's just got too honest of a personality."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, he's worried about some theft at Gringott's. If we went and just asked him about it, he'd probably spill everything about it, no magic necessary."

Hermione sighed. "You might be right. But why do you think he's worried about a bank theft? They said the vault that was broken into was empty."

Harry looked up. "Huh? You know about it?"

"I actually read the newspaper every day, and you should too, Harry Potter."

"I think I read too much as it is." Hermione looked aghast at that. "Alright, so what did it say?"

"Not much. Just that the vault had been emptied earlier that day."

Harry thought for a moment. "Okay, so it wasn't his vault that was robbed. Maybe he's just afraid that someone will break into his vault next?"

"Maybe…" Hermione looked doubtful, but had no more ideas, so they approached towards the castle in silence as Ron and Neville chatted loudly.

"Hey, Potter," a voice said from around the corner as they entered the castle. "That was a nice win yesterday."

The four Gryffindors eyed Draco Malfoy and his two laughing goons warily. "I'm surprised to hear you of all people say that, Malfoy," Harry said.

"No, no. I meant everything I said." His words were dripping with sarcasm. "It's surprisingly difficult to catch the snitch by accident, you know."

Harry's face turned red as Crabbe and Goyle laughed obediently. Ron and Neville apparently did not notice what Malfoy did during the game, because they leapt to his defense. "What are you on about, Malfoy? Harry won, fair and square!"

"Yeah! Don't be jealous just because Slytherin lost." Ron seemed to take the insult the worst out of all of them, perhaps because he was the one who taught Harry how to play. "We won and that's that."

Malfoy smirked. "Right. Of course you did. Because there's no rule against accidentally grabbing onto the snitch while trying not to fall right off the front of your broom."

"You!" Ron looked like he was about to pull his wand out, but Harry stopped him.

"I'm surprised you actually noticed that, Malfoy," Harry said as he smirked back at him, and Ron and Neville looked at him in shock, with Hermione giving him a look of mild curiosity. While she actually had noticed (because of their bond, not because she cared about Quidditch), she did not expect him to openly admit it, especially to Malfoy of all people. "But does it really matter? After all, there's only one person here who's on a team. Oh… and that was all because of you wasn't it? I suppose I never thanked you properly."

"P-Potter! That does it! Wizard's duel!" Crabbe and Goyle cracked their knuckles as Malfoy ground his teeth in anger.

"Hmm? Why do I have to duel you?" Harry asked casually, only adding fuel to the fire.

"Because you can't refuse a duel!"

"Yes I can."

"You can't! Your honor's at stake!"

"Didn't I just lose my honor when I admitted to winning the match by accident?" The Grffindors chuckled a bit. "I'm still better than you, though…"

That seemed to be his breaking point, as he pulled his wand out right then and there. "You'll duel me whether you want to or not!"

Harry put his hands up to calm him down. "Fine, fine," he sighed. "But not here. We'll all get in trouble."

That seemed to calm him down a bit and he put his wand away. "Fine. The trophy room at midnight. You better be there."

"Alright. We'll be there," Harry promised.

"We?" the other three Gryffindors asked together.

"Well, I'll need somebody to be my second in case I die. And I've got aaaallll night to decide," Harry said pleasantly and began to lead them away.

"Hermione!" Ron and Neville said together.

"What?!"

"Hey, you're going to make a lady fight? How uncouth."

Malfoy watched them argue about who was going to be the second until they were out of sight and turned to choose his own. "Well? It's not like I'll need one, but somebody's got to do it."

X

After dinner, as the Gryffindors were heading back to their tower, Harry pulled Hermione apart from the rest of the crowd.

"We've got something to do real quick," Harry explained.

"Okay, we'll come with," Neville said.

"Er...no, it's…official Hogwart's business. Top secret."

Neville and Ron looked at them oddly. "O-okay then…"

While they kept heading to Gryffindor tower with the others, Harry pulled Hermione in a different direction. "Harry, what sort of 'official business' do we have?"

"You'll see."

"Ooh, I bet you're going to tell McGonagall about that silly duel of yours, right?"

"Close. This way." They came to a stop in the middle of the hallway.

Hermione looked at the wall in front of her. "Hey, there's something here."

"Yeah. We need to figure out a way for you to practice your magic sensing so that you can actually see it."

"So is this that doorway thing?"

"Yeah. The core access chamber or something like that." Hermione watched Harry reach up to a point in midair and turn it like a doorknob. Sure enough, a door opened where the wall was a second earlier.

"C'mon," Harry said as he went into the room.

"Good evening, Harry. And you've brought a visitor."

"Oh…Hello," Hermione said nervously.

"Relax, Hermione," the manifestation of Hogwarts said. "I may be Hogwarts, but I have neither the power nor the desire to change your grades. That's for the teachers to do."

Hermione laughed nervously, but seemed to be slightly relieved. "Well, it's nice to finally meet you. So, what's your name?"

"Name? Why, it's Hogwarts, of course."

"She's right, though," Harry agreed. "There's Hogwarts the castle and Hogwarts the person."

"We are both the same thing, though."

"It's best to just accept it. Once Harry gets it in his mind to name something, nothing will change it."

They both looked at Harry, who was deep in thought. "Hoggy," he said confidently.

"Harry, you're hereby forbidden to pick names for anything, living or otherwise," Hermione said.

"I don't believe that 'Hoggy' would be an appropriate name," she said with a light blush.

They were silent for a moment. "How about…Beatrice?" Hermione suggested.

She looked at Hermione in doubt. "I believe that is an even less appropriate name. 'Traveller?'"

"Oh…well…education is a journey, isn't it?"

"You just want someone else to have a Shakespeare name. Admit it," Harry accused.

"Just because I didn't know the meaning of the name—"

"Whatever, Hermione…" Harry smiled, confident that he had won.

"I don't mind being called Beatrice. As long as you remember who I really am," the newly christened Beatrice said. "So what brings you two here today. Did you merely come to name me?"

"Oh! Right. Can you lock down the Slytherin common room door after curfew for everyone except the heads of house?"

Beatrice narrowed her eyes. "That is a fairly disruptive action, Harry. I would need a very good reason to do that."

"Well, if you don't, I'll have to duel Draco Malfoy for some stupid reason. Or at least that's what he told me. Knowing him, I'm willing to bet it's some kind of trap. Anyway, I'd like to avoid it."

"I suppose that is acceptable, since the alternative would result in you breaking school rules and your possible injury."

"Great! Thanks."

"See, Harry? Rules are there for a reason," Hermione said pleasantly. "I'm sure she's very strict about rules."

"I suppose you think that if I allow rules to be broken, I will disintegrate or some similar idea?" Beatrice asked and smiled for the first time. "It is merely the job given to me by the founders. If they told me to destroy everyone that was not pure-blooded, like Salazar Slytherin desired, then I would be compelled to kill both of you right here."

The room went silent.

"Well, that's not very nice," Harry said, trying to break the tension.

"I have no free will of my own, but I can decide to choose which rules take precedence over others for the general good, such as how I can ignore some minor rule breaking with no ill effect. Especially with the current headmaster, who seems to think that mischief should be taught instead of divination."

The Potters laughed nervously. "Well… that's good. We better be going then…"

"Please come visit me again soon," Beatrice said as she waved goodbye, and they left.

Harry jumped as the door slammed shut loudly. "Okay, that was more than a bit unsettling…"

"Yes. Let's try to forget that conversation ever happened." Harry nodded his head in agreement.

X

The next day, the Gryffindor first-years were standing outside of the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, waiting for Professor Quirrell to arrive, when Malfoy and his goons walked up.

"Where were you last night, Potter? I guess you chickened out, after all."

"What's he talking about, Harry?" Hermione thought to him. "Why would he try such an obvious lie?"

"Maybe he thinks all the common rooms were locked down. My guess is that he was going to try and tell someone we were out after hours, but he couldn't leave himself, so now he's just going to try and bluff his way into some kind of victory."

"Where were you last night?" Harry countered. "We waited forever."

"Well… it took me a while to sneak up," he lied. "Couldn't get caught, you know. By the time I got there, you'd already run off."

"Is that so." Harry said in a bored tone. "What time was that? I doubt we had left by that point.

"It was…" Malfoy thought quickly. "…Probably around one."

"I doubt it," Harry said instantly. "We were still there then."

"What? How late were you there?"

"Pretty late, I guess."

"Harry wanted to make sure his honor remained intact," Hermione interjected.

"Well then it must have been later than that. Maybe two."

"Nope. We were still there."

"Three, then."

"Sorry. Wrong."

"It doesn't matter! I came after you left!"

"I highly doubt that," Harry said with a smirk. "You see, we brought blankets and spent the whole night there. We didn't think you'd actually come, so we figured we'd make ourselves comfortable. We were there until seven."

"That's ridiculous! You're lying!"

"Aren't you the one who's lying?" Harry asked calmly. "Didn't you say you came? We waited there until morning, but you never showed."

"Sh-shut up, Potter!" he said, and stormed off, with his cronies attached.

"Uh, Harry?"

"Yes, Neville?"

"Weren't you in bed all night?"

"That's right."

"So, just now…"

"It was a bluffing contest."

"Oh."

"We won."

"Good work, Harry."