This was done in answer to a challenge – 400+ words about a penguin in the Slytherin common room. I have no idea why it went where it went….my mind is weird on the day before a holiday weekend and I want out of work! Disclaimer – My initials are not JKR – so obviously I don't own Harry Potter!
"What the bloody hell are we doing?" Ron asked.
"Ron, language," huffed Hermione.
Harry rolled his eyes as his two friends continued snipping back and forth as they made their way to the library. Less than an hour ago, they had received a strange note requesting a meeting.
There is a situation developing that will affect both of us, regardless of our opinions of one another. If you would like to arrange a preemptive effort to distract certain parties, meet me in the back corner of the library – near the Witch Hunt section. I will have two companions as I expect you to bring your usual backups. Though you have little reason to trust me, I give you my word as a Malfoy – I intend no harm to you, Weasley, or Granger in this action. This is a temporary truce I am requesting to deal with the current problem.
After they'd read the note, the three of them had stared at each other in silence for a long moment before Hermione had gone to check out the window. When the boys had asked what she was doing, she told them quite seriously that she had just wanted to confirm that the sky was not, indeed, falling.
Entering the library, the three of them took note of Madam Pince lecturing a group of First years on the proper treatment of the books in her care. Moving further towards the back corner, they found three students in green and silver gathered around a table half hidden by shadows. As the Gryffindor trio stepped up to the table, the three Slytherins rose to face them. The quiet standoff lasted for several moments; neither side sure of how to begin. Finally, Harry shrugged.
"I believe you called this meeting, Malfoy," he said.
"Yes," drawled Draco. "I suppose I did."
Gesturing to his companions, he introduced them formally.
A year-mate of the four of them, Blaise Zabini had a quiet, but intense presence. They had seen him knock down fellow students with nothing more than a few scathing remarks. The most notable thing about his actions was that he did not restrict them based on either House or blood. While he did tend to be less critical of Slytherin or purebloods, he did not hold back if he felt they needed to be put in their place.
A younger brunette with dark, curious eyes, Astoria Greengrass had an air of careful geniality about her. Of the three of them, only Hermione had ever spoken with her before. She said that the girl had been cordial and reserved, not using any of the usual Slytherin insults for the Muggle-born Gryffindor. Apparently, the girl understood that irritating and possibly angering the smartest witch in recent Hogwarts history had the potential to backfire dramatically.
Harry nodded to the two silent Slytherins before directing his attention back to Draco.
"Shall we sit down and discuss what would cause you to bring a problem to our attention?" he asked.
With a tilt of his head, Draco and his companions took their seats with the Gryffindor trio mere seconds behind them. When they had all taken a seat, Hermione cast a privacy spell on the table to prevent any curious onlookers from getting too close. Draco actually nodded at her in recognition before turning to Harry.
"While I am aware that we stand in opposition on practically every topic, I believe we can find some points of agreement," he said, formally.
Ron gave a soft snort, but held his tongue when his two friends cast sharp looks in his direction. Blaise raised a sardonic brow across the table at him, but also refrained from speaking when Draco held up a hand.
"Despite Weasley's disagreement," he continued, "I am quite sure that the idea of verbal and physical harassment of First and Second year girls by a figure of some authority may be considered a bad idea? Especially if said authority figure is exceedingly close to being assigned all punishment details for said year students?"
Harry's eyes narrowed as Ron and Hermione exchanged glances behind his head. Although they remained suspicious, the very formality and seriousness of Draco's demeanor argued in his favor. They had become quite accustomed to spotting and seeing through his various lies and deceptions. Whatever was going on, it had angered the blond pureblood greatly.
"Astoria," Hermione said gently to the girl across the table, "may I ask…?
The brunette swallowed and looked down at her hands. Taking a deep breath, she raised her eyes to look across.
"My family is pureblood, but not wealthy. That leaves me at a slight disadvantage in the House of Slytherin. Draco and Blaise are the only ones who were willing to do anything other than my sister, and Daphne has a Charms club meeting right now."
The girl's quiet admission caused all four boys to stiffen in anger. Quick glances exchanged between all of them assured that the truce would hold for however long it took to protect the girls from this particular form of torture.
"Right, then," Ron said. "How do we go about handling this?"
Harry leveled a look at him.
"First things first, Ron," he said, before turning back to the Slytherins. "Who exactly are we talking about?"
The three of them exchanged a quick look before Blaise leaned forward, placing his forearms on the table and leveling a look at Harry.
Harry and his friends sat back in shock. They knew Snape could be an absolute terror, but they had no idea he was that bad.
"Now," Hermione spoke softly, "we need to figure how what our plan of attack shall be? I take it that complaints have been raised before? Has anyone taken this to the professors or the headmaster?"
"Of course," Blaise sneered, but without real malice. "Unfortunately, it's a child's word against Dumbledore's pet professor's. The student simply must have misunderstood. By the time they are of an age to be listened to, he has them too frightened to speak up – it's their fault and no one will believe that such a respected member of the educational community would do such a thing, or that it could happen under the very nose of the much respected Albus Dumbledore."
Astoria gave a tiny shudder, and Hermione rose to move around the table. The boys watched as she sat down next to the little Slytherin and placed an arm around her shoulders. The younger girl sagged against the offered shoulder, burying her face in the Gryffindor's robes. Eyes snapping with anger, the Muggle-born student pinned the others with a sharp gaze.
"We need to fix this," she hissed. "Now!"
The corner of Draco's mouth hitched in a smile even as Harry rolled his eyes at the others.
"Hermione," Harry said, "we plan to. What we need are ideas on how to do that?"
"First," Draco said, "we set up schedules so the younger girls are never alone if at all possible. Detentions will be difficult, but for the majority of the day, we can keep them safe."
"It's a start," Harry said.
Ron frowned thoughtfully for a moment before looking at the two boys across from him.
"What is he afraid of? Not like You-Know-Who or anything, but like I am with spiders?" he asked.
Draco and Blaise exchanged a long, considering look before turning back to the red-head. Both of them had amused smirks on their faces.
"Would you believe the most feared professor in all of Hogwarts is frightened of…penguins?" Blaise asked, his smirk widening as Harry and Ron's jaws both dropped.
"Penguins?" asked Hermione. "Really?"
Astoria, still sheltered by the older girl's arms, gave a little giggle.
"Yeah," Draco drawled. "He's terrified of the flightless things – goes into absolute hysterics at the sight of one."
All six students snickered for several minutes as they pictured their potion's professor running from a flock of penguins. Ron grinned, eyes sparkling with cheerful malice.
"I have an idea," he said firmly.
Everyone turned towards him, curiosity rampant on their faces. His grin turned into a smirk.
"Well," he said, "the twins have a new product called Speechless that can be keyed to an individual's voice. You key it to a certain word or phrase, and every time that word or phrase is used, it transfigures all the furniture of a room into a chosen form."
In an amazing show of her speed at Charms, Hermione cast a Silencing Charm over the group before they burst into laughter at the idea. Every time they began to calm down, one or the other of them would meet the eyes of someone else and it would begin all over again. Despite the heaviness of the situation, there was just something funny about the whole idea of getting even via the twins and penguins.
"Can't…can't you just see it?" Harry asked, snorting as he tried to stifle his laughter. "He goes to give a detention, and suddenly gets surrounded by penguins!"
"Oh, Hell," said Draco. "there'll be penguins everywhere."
"Especially since I can get unlimited supplies of Speechless since Snape's the target," smirked Ron.
"We'll be able to put some everywhere,"remarked Blaise, actually grinning for once. "It's a start in the right direction – between protecting the girls in public areas and getting him hysterical about even breathing the word detention…."
Astoria started giggling, and Hermione glanced down at her with a big smile.
"I think you three and Daphne better find somewhere safe to sleep. It could get quite uncomfortable in your dorms," she said. "We'll have to change things up after awhile. Maybe see if we could…well, umm… borrow few real ones for a couple days."
Harry started laughing again as the others gaped at the usually rule-abiding Gryffindor.
"Don't mind her," he said, waving one hand. "We've been a bad influence. It's a definite thought though."
"Lovely," Draco snorted, lips twitching as he suppressed a laugh of his own. "Please do try to give us a little warning before you have the migration."
"Oh, my," Astoria laughed even harder. "If we can get the Weasley twins and Hermione to work on it, we could turn the common room in to a miniature iceberg…"
Draco and Blaise choked while Harry and Ron cracked up. Hermione just gave her a hug and sighed, a dreamy expression filling her eyes.