The Playing Fields of Hogwarts

Author's Note: This plot bunny came from the same litter as Harry Cat and Potter's Luck so you might think of them as variations on a theme. Still, I believe they are all different enough to stand on their own, so see what you think. The title sucks but what can I do?

Again, I have to thank my betas for pointing out where I lost the plot of became too cryptic to follow, and of course, my horrible grammar and punctuation gave them all fits and starts. (Gotta keep these ladies on their toes, you know! Don't hit me, please, I'll be good, sort of!)

As always, all comments and reviews gratefully accepted and if they are signed I will reply as usual.

oo0oo

And it was on the playing fields of Hogwarts that the Dark Lord, Voldemort, He-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named, Tom Riddle, was finally defeated by Harry James Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, the Chosen One, in single combat before the gathered hosts of Light and Darkness. As their brother wands met and melded, both wizards were tossed back, Tom Riddle turning to dust and ashes. Harry Potter was borne away unconscious by his boon companions and lifelong friends, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger to the infirmary at Hogwarts against the advice of the Medi-wizards present on the field at the time. There, Madam Pomfrey…

oo0oo

The isolation room had walls of three feet thick granite and a door of the stoutest oak planks bonded together. Both door and walls were layered and impregnated with wards and holding spells, dampening charms and smothering hexes. No magic, no matter how wild and free, ever escaped the area, and did not now.

As Hermione opened the door and Ron laid Harry's limp body on the simple single bed, the first faint stirrings of uncontrolled accidental magic could be felt. Madam Pomfrey quickly snapped the monitoring spells into place and hustled the two young people out, gently closing the door and locking it. Hermione activated the viewing charm and blinked as Harry's body rose as if lifted by Wingardium Leviosa, rotating very slowly over the mattress in the wind of his freed magic.

Sparkles of light began to appear in the closed, shielded room -- solar systems, constellations, galaxies and nebulae -- circling the ceiling in a celestial dance that suddenly coalesced into a finger of light that stroked and poked at the walls, searching for something, but nothing the watchers could determine. When the light found the floating body, it cocooned it slightly for a few seconds, streamers and ribbons wrapping around and through the limp limbs and torso, caressing wild hair and plucking at glasses to dump them aside as uninteresting.

The bed was explored, bent and changed, the mattress melting and reconfiguring; a boat, a table, a horse, a car, and finally something resembling a cloud with sails. The bed frame fared no better, becoming a low, flowering tree that held the sail cloud off the floor; pretty modern sculpture for all to admire.

The light then turned its attention to the walls, poking and coating and changing the colour from plain granite to purple and azure and shades not seen outside a rainbow or a dream. The watchers were fascinated when the sparkles noticed them, Ron and Hermione flattening themselves back as the light slammed into the clear port and sent probing fingers to try and touch them. When it could not manage that, it created a more solid finger and doodled on the granite, turning parts of it fluid and others of it to sand.

"Oh! It's me!" Hermione exclaimed in surprise as a bas relief of her face slowly floated to the surface of the solid rock as though liquid and fluid and malleable.

"He got the hair right," Ron commented under his breath as strands of wild hair began to spin from the head of the figure, forming books and thoughts, plans and spells. It was beautiful and bizarre and terrifying all at the same time in the amount of sheer power being tossed into a child's amusement.

"There's you!" Hermione exclaimed as Ron's portrait appeared near hers, comprising chess pieces and broomsticks and Quidditch players zooming around him in its own small constellation of planetary thoughts. "That's truly beautiful!" she commented softly, then whipped around with wand drawn, Ron's also, protecting her side and flank as the commotion started with a group of strangers bursting in, bellowing as they came. Only the Healer green and Auror red of their robes stopped both young warriors from immediately unleashing the spells they had instigated to repel the intruders. Madam Pomfrey hurried forward to intercept and protest but she was swept aside.

"Harry Potter needs the best care available and a tin-pot school clinic is not where he will receive it, no matter how good your reputation is, Madam! I have an order from the Minister himself, authorising me to move the boy to a safe location and treat him there." The pompous tones made Ron's lips snarl and Hermione's mouth to purse up tight.

"Harry has lost control of his magic and it's running wild in there. There is no way to contain or control it now that it's free, not until Mr Potter is conscious and in fit state to rein it in again," Madam Pomfrey declared flatly, not moving from her protective place by the door.

Before any of the Hogwarts people could move, one of the intruding Aurors cast a blanket spell over the area. Hermione and Ron felt their limbs turn to lead as the unexpected attack took them down. Madam Pomfrey half turned and landed awkwardly, her head connecting with the edge of the table and knocking her unconscious. Unable to protest or even move leaden limbs, the two young people could only watch in anger and fear as the leading Medi-wizard signalled imperiously for the accompanying Aurors to bring up a stretcher already festooned in chains and straps.

As the previously charm-sealed door was opened, the magic within turned, bringing its interest to bear on the new phenomenon. Then waves of fear, anxiety and hostility hit it. The sparkling constellations reared back, coalescing into a ribbon, as the dense-packed moil of light and intent as the first of the four Aurors made it through the door and tossed a containment spell at it. It reared back in surprise as if stung and shook off the oddly formed substance as a second and a third wizard did the same things. Their actions stung and puzzled the magic; it had not experienced anything like it in all its time free… how long had it been free? What of the faint hint of past? Who had it been before? Had it been something else… before?

Agony coursed through the slowly revolving light show, making it jerk and straighten, its attention fixed on the red things that pointed sticks at it. The sticks were forcing its smaller cousins that were stuck inside the red beings to perform for them under the coercion of the stick and the sounds. Angered, the magic began to swirl, a tornado forming in the room to funnel the sheer displeasure of the magic. The mouth of the magical tornado slammed the door shut to keep its prey close to hand. It then turned to grasp its small cousins and pull them free of the red parasites trying to use them to such a cruel and unnatural ends.

Magic, wild and uncontrolled, blasted through the room, tearing at the three Medi-wizards attempting to cast Stupefy on the floating body of the teenage boy suspended in the centre of the room. Martin Hopstead managed two syllables before the snapping, snarling beast tore out his tongue, the fountain of blood shocking his two companions into a split second of stillness as they tried to pry the door open. That was all it took before both men were slammed bodily into the solid stone walls, the taller with a sickening crunch of skull, the smaller with the dry-stick crack of long bones.

Two of the Aurors, Mardigan and Proudfoot, felt their magical cores being breached but could do nothing to help themselves, their own cores working against them as the wild magic ripped them open and engulfed them. Both men knew they were now Squibs, in the few seconds they had left to know anything. Then their intelligence and essences were ripped free. Unable to support life, their ravaged bodies fell limply to the floor and expired as the celestial magic turned its attention to the three green things that were equally enslaving its small magical cousins. Before it could free its trapped relative, other came in, also holding sticks but not pointing them at it. Noises were made, odd noises that made the magic pause and copy, the newcomers jerking their tops around to see it and make odd impressions.

oo0oo

"That has got to hurt," Ron Weasley said dryly as he stared through the small porthole in the door, where he had been banished by the three pompous men who thought they knew everything about his friend.

"Cold, but true," Hermione agreed with a disdainful sniff. "I suppose we are going to have to rescue them or Harry will be really upset when he regains consciousness."

Ron gave a put-upon sigh but before they could undo the locks on the insanely thick door, a silent figure strode forward and knelt by Madam Pomfrey, long fingers checking the pulse at her neck.

"See if you can contain Potter long enough to get those idiots out alive. You are his friends, his magic should recognise you," Professor Snape assured them as he worked over Madam Pomfrey's sluggishly bleeding scalp and fractured skull.

The magic inside the chamber swirled and a lazy ribbon curled away, eddying around the first one inside the room to explore it, finding a magical cousin trapped inside the newcomer too, but this cousin was contented and purred upon meeting and melded then freed itself, happy to remain with the red-topped one. A second curling stream of light encircled and engulfed the other, again meeting a cousin, this one was fierce and strong and more than happy with its lot, almost throwing the magic out and tapping on its nose for its intrusion. More noise came and the magic withdrew, whirling, sparking and dancing to music it had heard but not recognised as sound. The magic did indeed recognise them and did no more than swirl though them, leaving an impression of joyous freedom behind.

Ron felt the presence of Harry more clearly than he ever had before, the playfulness, the strength, and the sense of right and wrong that characterised his best friend. He saw the lights flow through him and heard the chiming runs of notes that almost sounded like words or a stream, or even a distant waterfall. It made him smile and straighten, wanting to hold onto the vision but not managing to gain more than an impression of wonder. There was peace and friendship between them and he turned to watch Hermione being greeted by the magic, the expression on her face more eloquent than any oratory speech could be.

"Harry," she murmured as the last sparkle flowed from her fingertips. The localised tornado of light and sound swelled and danced by the far wall, then raced over the ceiling, leaving a colourful psychedelic pattern carved and embedded in the rock as it flowed down the walls and into the floor until all three were encased in a world of colour, sound and motion. "It's only missing scent," she murmured and the lights once again orientated on her. "Smell, Harry," she murmured a request, one hand scrambling though her pockets to pull out the mini atomiser she always carried.

The tiniest spritz of Chanel No 5 was enough to set the storm off again, spinning and whirling, making the scent of oceans and flowers, wind and rain, school books and bakeries, potions classrooms and forests complete and all-encompassing until both Ron and Hermione had to hold their noses. It was overwhelming, too much of everything and Ron tried to push it away. Then the invisible hands started touching back, the wind had force, hot and cold, the floor had sound, and the lights had heat and fur and scales and texture and…

oo0oo

As soon as Hermione spritzed her perfume around, Harry's magic went insane, distracted and entertained while Ron and Professor Snape dragged the surviving Medi-wizards and Aurors out and shut the door on the cell again. Professor Snape cast diagnostic and healing charms over the injured men, one with a badly damaged skull, the other with two broken ribs and a broken arm, the third tongueless thanks to his own stupidity.

Patched up and stabilised, the surviving Medi-wizards were dismissed and their own Portkey used to send them back to St Mungo's before the two teenagers and their professor, survivors of the battle for Hogwarts, collapsed onto the nearest hospital beds with sighs of sheer exhaustion. Behind the thick door, the wild magic continued to conjure fantastic landscapes, colours and wild runs of scented sound.

"Well, that was a bit of a bust," Hermione snorted, tucking her hair back behind her ears. "Couldn't they have waited a couple of days before trying to move him?"

"I believe our Minister is terrified of Mr Potter and his power. After all, he did just cause the most powerful Dark Lord since Grindelwald to go 'pop' rather spectacularly," Severus Snape remarked dryly as he flopped back onto the bed's fluffed-up pillows and dragged up his left sleeve. He gave a very uncharacteristic chuckle, almost a giggle, which made both younger people blink in surprise. "It's gone; completely and absolutely gone! Finally, after so many years, I am free at last!"

Hermione sat up and stared piercingly at the place where the Dark Mark should have been but was not. The fact that it had disappeared without trace gave her firm reassurance that Harry had indeed succeeded in finally defeating Voldemort. Even Snape seemed more cheerful as if a dark shadow had been lifted from his soul and he was finally allowed to smile like a normal human being.

"What are you going to do now, Professor?" Hermione asked kindly as the man continued to stare at his left forearm and grin inanely.

"Oh, I have been planning to de-age myself a few years and go have some fun. After all, I thoroughly deserve it! Spending the last twenty years serving two powerful masters is no way to live a life. Now I want to live, instead of merely survive."

"Are you allowed to do that, Sir? Is it even legal?" Ron questioned uncertainly.

"Of course not, but when did that ever stop me!" For once, the man who had kept more secrets than anyone else didn't seem to be able to control his tongue, and even more importantly, he didn't seem to care.

"Can you de-age yourself successfully?" Hermione asked curiously.

The laugh was slightly manic. "Of course I can! If I am perfectly capable of stoppering death, Miss Granger, what's to stop me knocking off a few years when I want to? I have been mucking about with potions for most of my life and I was given as much experimental time as I wanted as a Death Eater and as a member of the Order. Both sides were more than willing to allow my experiments if they thought it would benefit them. If one or two of those experiments were for my own purposes and not theirs... well, who is to know?"

"But you just told us," Ron pointed out in puzzled tones.

"Oh yes, bloody Babble Curse; makes you dribble at the mouth."

"And a touch of the Euphoria Curse too. Wonder what your cursers were trying to achieve? Seems a bit childish for a Death Eater attack," Hermione speculated after a quick diagnostic spell. No wonder their very formal professor was flopping about and acting like… a human being, maybe?

"I assume they, whichever side actually targeted me -- could have been either really -- were trying to make me lose control of my magic thereby becoming an easier target for whichever side got me first but they didn't realise that all it did was to make me talk faster and lose my inhibitions over using any magic I can command, Dark and Light spells and curses. Had too much practice overcoming such curses when the bloody Marauders were plaguing my life; never thought it would come in handy at a later date!"

"Well, it certainly has an interesting affect, Sir." Hermione grinned, as the usually sullen man laughed back. He didn't look nearly as old or as forbidding when his eyes sparkled with mirth rather than malice.

Before this very interesting conversation could get even further out of hand, Madam Pomfrey stirred and groaned, all three younger people turning to survey the downed Medi-witch. "Settle down, Poppy, your Golden Child is safe behind stout doors, the enemy is routed from the gates and you have merely cracked your pate," Severus told her with a shrug. "I fixed it but it will take a couple of days to settle down properly, medical magics not being my best charms nor incantations, I'm afraid. In the meantime, I will take care of Harry's needs while these two are going to be my assistants… aren't you?" He grinned wickedly at the two Gryffindors, who looked slightly horrified.

"Uh, if you wish us to, Sir," Hermione volunteered, elbowing Ron in the solar plexus.

Ron chuffed out a breath and nodded in pained silence as the Medi-witch blinked and slowly relaxed, accepting their assurances before falling asleep again. Severus used Mobilicorpus to move her out of the enclosed area and back into the main staff area of the infirmary. The various Medi-witches and Medi-wizards who had been steadily arriving from St Mungo's to treat the injured were quick to accept her with very few questions asked. There were so many wounded bodies, what was one more?

Releasing his Mobilicorpus charm, Snape stepped back through the door, without drawing any more attention to himself beyond the minimal. It was better that way as he was still a suspected Death Eater in some circles. There were quite a few Aurors amongst the injured and the attendants who had cluttered up Madam Pomfrey's usually quite staid domain. With a thoughtful flick of his wand, he put up a very discriminating ward that would keep out everyone except Potter's friends. Didn't want any more Ministry goons trying to pull a stunt like the last one, it would be disastrous.