A/N: A Bits Box is where modelers and others who work with small fiddly bits put their extras and oddments, so that you can find just that particular screw or little piece that you absolutely must have when you need it. Likewise, this 'story' is for bits and pieces of stories that haven't quite come together, or that need to be thrown out for comments before going any further, or anything else that I decide to dump in it. There is literally NO telling what might wind up here, which is why I've gone with the Teen rating, just to be on the safe side. Don't count on regular updates, or anything like that; it's just a battered old shoebox with lots of junk in it. I probably should have called it an Omake box, but that would only have confused me.
Some of you may recognize this as the old 'Chapter 11' from HP/VoD-good pickup! It was put there as a stop-gap during a particularly busy time, and is moved here until I can get VoD written up to that point. Or, it may NEVER get incorporated into VoD; VoD has a life all of it's own and tends to go haring off in strange directions. Still, I really like this scene, and didn't want it to vanish completely. So, enjoy!
For those of you not familiar with Harry Potter and the Vale of Destiny, here's the quickie summary: Cedric's not dead, he's back from the future to help Harry out, to make sure that the future that pulled him out of the graveyard never happens. Oh, and Cedric and Harry are engaged, and back at Hogwarts for Harry's year 5...
In the Dueling Room
Harry Potter stood on the strip facing his opponent. Hermione Granger glared back at him, still angry over their last confrontation. For the life of him, Harry couldn't remember just what it was that had cheesed Miss Bushy Hair off so badly, but then again, he really didn't care. It's not like it took all that much to send the Gryffindor prefect into a rant these days, and repeated exposure to her tantrums and lectures was quickly giving Harry immunity to their effects.
Of course, the fact that he could always count on his real friends—not to mention his thoroughly snoggable and lusciolicious boyfriend—to support him didn't hurt. He snickered; a little smirk playing on his lips as he compared Cedric to Hermione's Won-Won. Certainly, he had the better of the two boyfriends, that was for damn sure!
Hermione saw his smirk, and misinterpreted it (as she was wont to do) as Harry smirking at her dueling ability. Her temper spiked, and she snarled back at him.
"Come on, Harry…do your worst!" she challenged, just before Professor Flitwick dropped his wand to begin the match.
Harry blinked at the intensity of Hermione's glare, but didn't let that stop him from neatly sidestepping the Expelliarmus that she sent his way. Sighing inside, and knowing that there really was nothing he could do about her temper, he continued to dodge her best efforts with all the grace of a matador. Then, just to change his tactics up a bit (his teachers had been working to get him to do just that) he cast the Longbottom 'bat' charm on his wand hand and started popping Hermione's spells back at her.
The first stunner that Harry sent back at Hermione almost ended the duel, but Hermione managed to shriek, shield and then fume in one jerky movement.
"So, that's how you want to play it, Potter?" she ground out, her teeth clenched. "Well, let's see how you like THIS!" and sent a bolt of bright blue screaming through the air towards him.
Harry didn't recognize the curse, but any spell that made that kind of howl as it passed through the air couldn't be good. Dropping prone, he used his off-hand to cast a reflective Protego at a slight angle to the floor, just over his body. The blue screamer expanded as it came, then hit Harry's shield with a resounding 'gong', careening off to explode on the ceiling in a shower of dust, sparks and debris.
Knowing that someone else would contain the damage, Harry leaped to his feet and smiled at the end of the strip.
"Nice one, Granger. What obscure tome did you pull that one from?"
Hermione's smile would have curdled milk at twenty paces. "Pity you'll never know, Potter," she fired back, then followed her words with a series of rapid-cast spells designed to force an opponent to do nothing but shield while they rained down on him or her.
Harry's Protego was more than up to the task of defending against Hermione's barrage, but he really didn't want to be caught shielding and casting at the same time. Occasionally, he either thought it wouldn't be noticed or he had no choice…like with his defense against the blue screamer. So…since he had to keep up a shield until Hermione decided to try something else, what to do, what to do?
Suddenly, an inspiration opened in Harry's head like a rose opening into full bloom. Reaching into his pockets, he pulled out a handful of marbles—conjuring them in his pocket with his off hand bracelet while maintaining his shield with his wand. A quick flick of his wrist sent them merrily skittering across the strip towards Hermione, which distracted her enough to make her miss a beat in her casting rhythm.
Grinning, Harry dropped his shield and flicked his wand in a peculiar up-widdershins-twist-thrust motion while subvocalizing 'coconut cream'.
One of the marbles obediently leaped into the air, transformed into a coconut cream pie, and went streaking towards Hermione's face.
The shock of having a cream pie thrown at her was just enough to keep her from reacting until it was too late.
SPLAT! SPLAT! Two more pies landed while Hermione just stood there, gobsmacked.
Her wand went flying into Harry's hand as the observers went deathly quiet.
Slowly, Hermione reached up and wiped the remains of the pies from her face, then casually strolled to the halfway point of the strip.
"You win, Potter. Now, may I have my wand back, please?" she asked in a neutral tone.
"Certainly, Granger," Harry said, smiling. Ever the gentleman, he gave her a small bow as he returned her wand.
"Thank you ever so much," Hermione grinned. Then, fast as a striking cobra, she reached out, grabbing the front of Harry's trousers with one hand and shoving her wand down into the front of his pants with the other.
"Aquamenti frigia!" she crowed, sending a blast of ice-cold water directly onto Harry's crotch.
"AIIIIEEEEE!" Harry squealed, dancing away from the icy torment while Hermione (and many others in the room) burst out laughing.
Drying and warming his chilled privates with a wave of his wand, Harry looked up at the still-laughing girl. "Here, Hermione, let me help you get cleaned up," he said sweetly, before turning his wand into a fire hose and directing the water stream towards her face.
Surprisingly, Hermione just stood there, face turned into the stream of water until most of the pie remnants were washed away. Then, she stepped back and grinned fiercely.
"Why thank you, Harry…but of course, you realize, this means war!" And with that, she conjured her own pie—chocolate meringue, this time—over Harry's head, letting it fall with a resounding SPLAT!
The Boy-Who-Lived just stood there, stunned at the thought that the prim and proper Prefect had just dumped a chocolate meringue pie on the top of his head, while making a Bugs Bunny reference. Reaching up, he scooped a dollop off of his glasses with one finger before bringing the finger to his mouth.
"Mmm, chocolate…very tasty. I don't suppose I could get the recipe, could I?" he asked, a maniac grin appearing on his face.
"I'd be glad to give it to you," Hermione said sweetly. "Or even better, let me make you another one," she said, conjuring another pie in her hand.
"Hermione, you need to think very carefully about what you're about to do," Harry warned, seeing Hermione's arm going back in preparation for a throw.
"Oh, I am," she grinned, then let the pie fly.
Unfortunately for Hermione, Harry was now ready, and not really in the mood to wear any more chocolate at the moment. His frantic duck let the pie sail through the space his head had just occupied, to land….
…right in the face of Neville Longbottom, who had been coming to help Harry clean up.
The Lord Longbottom, the Longbottom of Longbottom, Head of the Most Nobel and Most Ancient House of Longbottom stood there, momentarily surprised to suddenly receive a face-full of a rather tasty chocolate meringue pie. Licking his lips, he grinned, then opened his eyes in a chocolaty face to grin across the strip. Ignoring Hermione's hasty apologies, he raised his own wand and repeated the gesture Harry had used earlier, whispering 'lemon meringue' as he did so.
Neville's lemony missile streaked across the room, barely missing a dodging Hermione to strike a glancing blow to Fred Weasley's shoulder.
The Gryffindor looked at his housemate with an expression that made one think that Christmas had come early, before raising his own wand in a gesture very similar to the one Neville had just made. His pastry, trailing what looked and smelled suspiciously like blueberry juice, went flying across the room, missing Neville by a hair's breadth to strike Cedric Diggory, who was coming to the aid of his friend and boyfriend.
"Oi, git!" Cedric barked. "Now, it's on!" he called out. "Hufflepuffs, to me!" Giving a cry to rally his house, he let fly with a rather messy treacle tart in Fred's general direction. Unfortunately, he was somewhat sloppy with his aim, and wound up landing the tart in the middle of George Weasley's chest. Seeing this, Fred burst out laughing, only to be quickly joined by his twin; both of them began grinning like loons and flinging cupcakes around the room in all directions.
Filius Flitwick, no fool he, paused in his giggling only long enough to stage a hasty retreat to one side of the room. From there, he watched as the room degenerated into a food fight of epic proportions as pies, cakes, various other assorted pastries and other edibles were transfigured, conjured or otherwise coerced from parts unknown to be used in what appeared to be a total free-for-all.
The Charms Professor did note that the instigators on all sides—Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom, Cedric Diggory, Hermione Granger and both Weasley twins—were taking time between volleys to show some of the other students charms and spells to produce different kinds of ammunition. Before long, a mushy peas and shepherd's pie firing line of Gryffindors was formed up under the twin's generalship; while Cedric's Hufflepuffs returned fire with Brussels sprouts and broccoli casserole. One of the twins had conjured up a large ham, which he was using as an improvised beater's bat. It seemed that he was doing as much harm as good, as every strike he scored merely sprayed debris over the entire room—mostly his own troops. Not that anyone appeared to mind….
Flitwick soon found himself accompanied by two of the least likely comrades he could imagine. Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy had somehow managed to avoid being soiled by the flying edibles, and had made their way to crouch on either side of the Professor.
"Well, boys, it seems like we're missing all of the fun," Filius teased, never taking his eyes off the fight for one second.
"Huh," was all that the young Weasley said, while the Malfoy heir had his own opinion. "Barking mad, the lot of them," Draco opined, watching the fight as closely as Flitwick, wand ready to shield himself at the slightest indication of incoming fire.
"Indeed, but still, I'm quite impressed with the magic they're using," Filius said quietly. "Look," he indicated with a nod of his head. "Someone's using a stream of frozen pumpkin juice slurry to make their opponents keep their heads down, while the rest of that small group gets ready to lob a bunch of pineapple upside-down cakes over their barricades."
"Potter called it a 'smoothie'," Draco said absently. Then, seeing the Professor's momentary confusion out of the corner of his eye, elaborated. "Frozen juice slush…it's a muggle thing," he shrugged.
"You don't say," Flitwick answered, not showing any surprise that Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy were sharing muggle drinks together.
"Just when did you and Harry get so cozy over drinks, Malfoy?" Ron snapped.
"Oh, didn't you get that memo, Weasel? It was at last weeks' Junior Death Eaters in Training meeting…we're seducing Harry to the Dark Side, because we have chocolate, ice cream and cookies on a regular basis. Plus, we're just dead sexy." Malfoy rolled his eyes, then snapped his attention back to the battle as a sausage smacked into the wall not too far from him.
Ron growled at his nemesis, but his reply was cut off by Flitwick. "Judging by what I'm seeing here, I don't think Mr. Potter needs any assistance in conjuring his own treats," he observed dryly. He did note that there seemed to be at least one house elf following Harry around, making sure that there was always a pie there when he put his hand out for one.
"Shouldn't you be putting a stop to this, Professor?" Draco asked quietly. "Maintaining discipline, or some such rot…er, reason?"
Filius snickered. "You're probably correct, Mr. Malfoy. However, I think that this is excellent training, in its own way. Observe, if you will," he waved his hand at the room. "Our group has more-or-less divided itself into two factions, which are now well defended behind improvised barricades. There is some 'artillery' fire being exchanged, but otherwise they seem to have reached a stalemate. I'm curious to see just what will happen next. Aren't you?" he said, glancing at both boys, who immediately developed near-identical looks of calculated interest.
"Harry's people are cleaning themselves up a bit," Ron reported in a whisper. "Not that there's a lot they can do without taking the pressure off the other side, but they're planning something."
"Very good, Mr. Weasley. Mr. Malfoy, your opinion?"
"I think the Weasel's on to something. Granger's still throwing everything they have across the way, but I don't see any signs of a change in their pattern on that side."
Filius nodded. "Nor do I, Mr. Malfoy. Each of you, take 5 points for your observational skills." Then, slyly, he added. "You two really should try working together more often; you'd make a formidable pair if you did." Grinning to himself, he ignored the identical snorts that came from each boy.
Suddenly, the trio was distracted when a white flag went up from behind the overturned table that was Harry's main defense. Cries of 'Parlay' rang out, to be answered from the other side almost immediately. Slowly, the firing tapered off—a couple of the Gryffindors were far gone into battle-madness, apparently—but eventually quiet fell across the battlefield.
Cautiously, Harry's head appeared above his ramparts, followed by Cedric then Neville. On the other side, Hermione and the Twins slowly appeared.
"Parlay?" Harry called out.
"State your terms, Potter," Hermione returned.
"Unconditional Surrender!" Harry smirked.
"Only if you're the one surrendering to me!" Hermione yelled back, to laughter from her lines (and boos and catcalls from Harry's).
"In your dreams, Granger!"
"Then, up yours, Potter!"
"Not with you, Granger!"
"I'm happy to leave that to your boyfriend, Potter!"
"Thank Merlin for THAT!" Cedric added, his somewhat deeper voice carrying well to both sides, making laughter break out all 'round."
"So, Potter, do you actually have anything to say, or is this just an excuse to postpone your inevitable defeat?" Hermione's voice shook with her laughter.
"Well, aside from giving your side a chance to rest and scrape some of the goo off, I was just noticing that there are some people in the room who are much too clean. Why is that, do you think?" Harry teased.
"I blame you, Potter," Hermione immediately fired back.
"Now see here, Granger…it's as much your fault as mine!"
"Well, then…I see only one solution, don't you?"
Uh oh, Flitwick thought, seeing the boys on either side of him tense. This is going to get messy….
"GET 'EM!" Hermione and Harry roared together, boiling out from behind their walls towards Flitwick, Ron and Draco; their armies on their heels, howling like banshees.
The next few minutes were some of the most stimulating and enjoyable of Filius Flitwick's long life. He threw himself into the fight with abandon, finding an energy and thrill that he hadn't felt since leaving the dueling circuit. Any semblance of sides dissolved under a steady stream of fillings and icing (Filius thought that the butter cream was his favorite), and madness and chaos reigned free.
Unfortunately, nothing that good can last very long. Sadly, their fun was ended when Professor McGonagall opened the door into the dueling room. After a moment's shocked silence, she called out, her voice strident.
"Just what in the name of Merlin is going one here?"
It was exactly the wrong thing to do.
Shocked by her outcry, at least six people turned their wands on her without thinking. Even if the Deputy Headmistress had been ready for such an attack, she almost certainly wouldn't have emerged unscathed from the flurry of pies, cakes and entrees that flew her way. In the blink of an eye, she was coated from head to toe with sticky, sweet and savory debris, sputtering as a trickle of brown gravy dripped from her hat onto her face.
The entire room froze. Then, with the courage of Godric Gryffindor himself, Filius stepped forward.
"Hello, Minerva. How nice of you to join us? Can we offer you some refreshment?" Filius tried to make light of his colleague's' predicament.
"I…Filius, what the…sweet Merlin…this is GRAVY!" McGonagall finally managed to get out.
"Why, I think it is, and a fine job of transfiguration it is, too. You should be proud of your students, Minerva. I don't know when I've seen more creative uses of transfiguration and conjuration in a mass duel." Flitwick pressed on, moving close to the Headmistress and beginning to clean the mess from her robes. Taking their cues from him, the rest of the students began cleaning up the disaster area that was the Dueling room.
"Filius, just what the devil were you about here?" McGonagall's burr, normally very faint, was as harsh as a Scottish winter.
"Actually, that's a funny story, Minerva," Flitwick began, only to be cut off by the look in his friend's eyes.
"Save it." McGonagall looked around at the students now busily setting the room to rights. "Dare I ask who started this brouhaha?"
"Now, Minerva, before you say anything else, I'll thank you to remember that I am the sponsor of the Dueling Club, not you. I do apologize that you were caught in the crossfire, so to speak, but you did barge in to the middle of a training exercise in group tactics without proper precautions."
"Training exercise, is it? Then why, pray tell, am I tasting beef gravy and coconut cream?" The gaze that the Deputy Headmistress turned on her colleague and friend would have frozen a basilisk.
"Well, er, yes…would you believe improvised munitions?" Filius asked, blushing.
"Not as such, no," McGonagall said, her face severe. Still, Filius thought he saw a bit of a twitch at the corners of her mouth.
"Well, it actually started as a rather unique response of Mr. Potter to Miss Granger's spell-barrage dueling technique…." Filius began.
McGonagall cut him off abruptly. "Filius, I don't want to hear any more. This is your club, and I won't pretend to tell you how it should be handled. Still, I would hope that this is not the typical meeting of this organization." She looked down at him repressively.
"Oh, certainly not," Filius replied happily. "Sometimes they are known to get a bit messy, not at all like today." He smiled up winningly, ignoring the coughing and other sounds coming from the students.
"Hmm," McGonagall said noncommittally. "At any rate, you might want to consider a silencing charm before your next meeting. I was walking past and heard a commotion, and came in to investigate." She paused, her gaze sweeping the room. "You should all be glad that it wasn't the Headmaster, or another Professor who opened that door. Do I make myself understood?"
A chorus of subdued "yes ma'am's" and "yes, Professor's" answered her, and she relented a bit. "Very well. We will speak of this no longer. Good day, all," she said, and then left in a whirl of robes.
Once the door was shut, Filius turned to the students. "Well, that was…interesting. Now, to finish," he said, while most of the students collapsed to the floor in exhausted relief at having avoided the Wrath of McGonagall.
"Despite what some might think, I believe that you all did quite well today in an unorthodox situation. Mr. Diggory, Mr. Potter, Mr. Longbottom; Miss Granger and the pair of Mr. Weasleys, I want each of you to write up an after-action report describing the battle as you saw it. Mr. Malfoy and young Mr. Weasley will review these reports with me, and we'll be discussing them at our next meeting." Filius noted that heads jerked, especially when he mentioned Draco and Ron working together. "As for the rest of you, I want the group to begin working up a book that will contain all of the charms, spells and hexes that were used today." He paused and grinned. "I suggest that you begin by making a list of all the charms that each of you used, then compiling the lists. Mr. Potter, Miss Granger, if you two will be in charge of pulling together the lists from your respective allies, then making the master list. When we're finished, I'll help you edit it, and we'll present copies to the Deputy Headmistress and Headmaster. Who knows? There might be a way to publish it at the end of the year."
"The Hogwarts Handbook of Food Fighting?" a voice called out.
Filius gave up trying to hold back his belly laugh. "Oh, quite!" he said, before allowing himself the release of his laughter.
Later that evening, just before the evening meal was to be served, the Headmaster rose from his chair at the high table to make an announcement.
"By now, you have all heard of the events which occurred during today's meeting of the Dueling club," he began. "While in general, I am supportive of novel and innovative teaching techniques, it would appear that the situation got a bit out of hand. Consequently, there will be no pudding served with the meal tonight, as there have been ample sweets consumed by the students today." He looked around the room, eyes twinkling madly. "You may consider this a punishment for the entire school if you wish…or, as an inducement to join the Dueling club." Taking his seat, he waved his hand, causing the meal to appear.
Harry nudged Neville in the ribs. "Totally worth it," he smirked.
Neville nodded, looking at a grinning Hermione. "Totally."
Hermione smiled back with a look that wouldn't melt butter. "Next time, Harry."
"In your dreams, Hermione."
"Oh, it is so on!"
As the two continued to throw taunts back and forth, snickers and grins began to spread out like ripples in a pond.
Meanwhile, at the high table, Minerva McGonagall began plotting on just how she was going to get Severus Snape to crash the next meeting of the Dueling club….