Girls' Night at the Hog's Head

In attendance:
Gryffindor: Lavender Brown, Hermione Granger, Parvati Patil
Hufflepuff: Hannah Abbot, Susan Bones, Megan Jones, Sally-Anne Perks
Ravenclaw: Mandy Brocklehurst, Su Li, Morag McDougal, Padma Patil, Lisa Turpin
Slytherin: Millicent Bulstrode, Tracey Davis, Daphne Greengrass, Pansy Parkinson

Chapter 1: The Nerds' Duel

"Hear ye, hear ye!" Millicent Bulstrode sang out in a mezzo that could have carried to the back of the Royal Opera House. "Girls' Night at the Hog's Head is officially called to order, Toastmistress Pansy Parkinson presiding."

The shrieks and laughter of over a dozen sixth-year girls filled the cramped pub, and Aberforth considered the utility of earplugs. He hated these regular gatherings of NEWT-level girls, despite the good liquor sales. Eight times a year, four with the sixth-years and four with the seventh-years. Thank Merlin the boys had no such custom. The serious drinking hadn't begun yet, and three empty bottles of ice-vodka had already been removed from the table.

Pansy Parkinson stood up and raised her shot glass. "Welcome friends and foes, to an evening of games, gossip, and spirits. We begin our activities with a salute to the hostesses of our last meeting, Hufflepuff House, Hogwarts' own working class." She downed her drink.

"All power to the People." Sally-Anne Perks said mildly. Hermione—who, unlike most of the girls present, had actually heard of Marxism—raised her fist in salute, a private joke between the two Muggleborns.

"Secondly, a toast to our beloved rivals, the lionesses of the Scottish moors, whom we pity for having the dorkiest boys in all Hogwarts—"

"Well, she's got that right," said Hermione.

"—Gryffindor House!"

They all drank, Pansy already swaying just slightly. As hostesses the Slytherins had arrived early, and Pansy had gotten a good head start on her vodka. Millie had been more moderate and was careful to move their gaming supplies—particularly the magical microphone and two glass jars filled with scraps of parchment—out of the way of Pansy's wide-swinging arm.

"And most important—importantly—your hostesses for this evening—"

"Hey, you forgot us," Mandy Brocklehurst yelled. "Ravenclaw's next!"

"—Slytherin House!" Pansy knocked back her drink while the other Slytherin girls shouted "Slytherin!"

Over the laughter, Lavender Brown called out, "The sneakiest, slimiest—"

"Sexiest—" Daphne Greengrass interjected

"But not the smartest!" Padma Patil added.

They all broke into giggles, and Pansy tried to recover from her blunder. "That leads us to our third—fourth—toast…" Millie got out another bottle. "…to the biggest nerds in all Hogwarts, Ravenclaw!"

"What?" cried the Ravenclaws. "Yes!" shouted everyone else.

Parvati Patil waved both hands for attention. "No, no, no. Everyone knows the biggest nerd in Hogwarts is Hermione Granger."

Hermione gave a mock bow from her chair. She was aware—and quite proud—that her nickname in the House of Eagles was "The Lost Ravenclaw." She was not aware that since last year's incident with Marietta Edgecombe the House of Snakes had begun calling her "Godric's Serpent."

Millie leaned forward and refilled Hermione's glass. "Take another shot, nerd," she said, leering slightly. They didn't call her Millicent Bulldyke for nothing.

Hermione winked at Millie and reached for the glass, but Su Li stretched a hand across the table, forestalling her. "No Gryffindor ever beat a Ravenclaw for nerdiness."

"Except Hermione," said Parvati.

Padma asked, "So why didn't the Sorting Hat put her in Ravenclaw with the rest of us?"

"Actually, the Hat told me why," Hermione said. "It said I'd study hard and use my brains in any house, but Gryffindor would bring out characteristics that I wouldn't develop otherwise."

"Gryffindor guts and Ravenclaw brains," said Lavender smugly. "So keep your hands off the glass, Su."

Su and Hermione continued to hold the glass on the table unmoving, each trying to stare the other down.

"I think we have our first contest," Pansy broke in. As Mistress of Ceremonies it was her job to keep things running smoothly. "Millie, take possession of that shot glass. Li, Granger, you get to ask each other questions. The first one to stump her opponent gets the shot."

"Don't leave it wide open," said Daphne. "They'll be at it forever. Make it quotations. The philosophy of magic."

"All right, quotations then. Ravenclaw goes first."

Hermione turned to Pansy. "She goes first? Why?"

"No arguing with the learned judge," Millie proclaimed. "You can run the meeting when Gryffindor hosts. Tonight Pansy's the boss."

The brief exchange had given Su plenty of time to come up with her first challenge. "Ban al-Greb on magical logic," She demanded.

"The best magic always results from ecstasies of logic." Hermione flashed her usual superior smirk. "One of my favorite quotations, actually."

Parvati Patil echoed the smirk and snapped her fingers at her Ravenclaw twin Padma, despite the fact that she didn't know Ban al-Greb from Gilderoy Lockheart.

"Phillipa Eden-Potts on sharpness of wit." came Hermione's challenge.

Su hesitated for a few seconds, then answered, "The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper."

"Yes!" the Ravenclaws exclaimed. Padma gave her sister a two-finger salute.

Su didn't let it distract her. She thought for a long moment, then said. "Ko Li on magical errors."

Ko Li! This was getting tough. Hermione didn't know the Chinese magicians nearly as well as she felt she should. The Ravenclaws—and Slytherins!—were practically slavering in anticipation of her defeat as she sat there unspeaking.

"Ready to give up, Granger?" Pansy snickered.

"Oh, wait," Hermione began hesitantly. "Magic is one of the… subtlest and most difficult of the arts—the sciences and the arts. There is more…opportunity—" Her voice became more confident as she remembered the rest of the quotation "—for errors of comprehension, judgment and practice than in any other branch of physics."

She then returned to her normal lecturing voice, "Except magic isn't physics, really. The standard translation of Ko Li is widely recognized as unreliable."

"We win again!" Lavender crowed, while Parvati made rude gestures. No sneers of know-it-all now. Hermione hadn't gotten this much support from her two dorm-mates in her entire six years at Hogwarts.

Hermione realized that Su now knew her weakness and would probably be hitting her with more Chinese quotations. It was time to get ruthless. She gave her rival a calculating look, trying to remember if Su was half- or pureblood. Fullblood but not pureblood, she thought. Like Harry. She leaned back in her chair and smirked. "Arthur C. Clarke on technology."

Sally-Anne slapped her hands together and burst out, "Ha! Arthur C. Clarke!"

"Arthur who?" Su gaped. The rest of the girls stared at one another in confusion.

"You ought to know this, Su," Hermione said condescendingly. "Don't you have Muggle grandparents?"

"Wait a minute…" Light was beginning to dawn on Tracey Davis's face.

Pansy broke in, "No help from half-bloods, Trace."

They all waited while Su visibly searched her memory. Arthur C. Clarke? There had once been a wizarding family of Clarkes in Somerset, but they were known for producing Quidditch players, not scholars. And technology? Muggle technology? Gran and Grandpa Wang weren't here to ask.

Finally Pansy asked, "Concede, Li?"

Su hesitated, then sighed, her shoulders sagging. "Concede." She gave Hermione a wry salute as Lavender and Parvati high-fived each other.

With a nod to Su, Hermione stood, raising the disputed drink. "Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction writer extraordinaire, said—" She looked over at Sally-Anne. "Would you like to do the honors?"

Sally-Anne filled her own glass and rose, grinning almost as broadly as Hermione. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

"To high technology," Hermione said.

"To science fiction," Sally-Anne answered.

The two clicked glasses and tossed off their drinks.

Author's Notes:

All quotations are real.
Ban al-Greb = Alban Berg
Phillipa Eden-Potts = Eden Phillpotts
Ko Li = Aleister Crowley

The distinction between pureblood and fullblood is my own. A pureblood is a descendant of two magical families, like Draco. A fullblood is the child of two magical parents, like Harry. In the canon Harry never seems to count as pureblood, even though he is born of magical parents and would have been reared in a wizarding household had they lived. I posit that the former Miss Wang, Su Li's mother, was Muggleborn.

Hermione's nickname "The Lost Ravenclaw" I borrowed from Excessivelyperky, but "Godric's Serpent" is my own idea. Hermione would make a superb Slytherin.

Yank Alert: I do my best, but I fear my language is irredeemably American. I apologize to all natives of the British Isles for my many barbarisms. I humbly strive to correct them when I can. Americanism must always be forgiven, you know, because there is no hope of a cure.