Summary: There hasn't been a boggart at Hogwarts in months, but that doesn't mean the students can't practice their boggart defense spells.
There was a buzzing excitement around the courtyard. It was the day after the twins had made their valiant escape from the school, and the air was tense with mischief. Harry smirked as he watched Filch turning redder and redder as a group of third years snickered at him from across the courtyard. Mrs. Norris was a violent shade of hot pink. As if drawn to the distress of her one and only supporter, Umbridge came bursting into view, slightly out of breath. She took in the fuming caretaker and his obnoxiously pink cat and gave a haughty wave of her wand. She only succeeded in making the beast glow slightly.
"They're so ridiculous." Hermione said off-handedly, following Harry's line of sight. "This is such a joke."
Beside her, Ron nodded in agreement. Ginny giggled as she too noticed the pink, glowing cat.
"Speaking of ridiculous, do you remember in your third year when Neville made the Snape boggart wear his gran's clothes?" Luna suddenly added dreamily. She was flipping her wand between her fingers and watching said potions master telling off the group of third years.
Neville gulped. "I'm still surprised I survived that."
Luna nodded, a smile making its way onto her face. "Do you think the ridikulus charm would work on the real Snape?"
This was met by silence as all six of them turned to look at Snape, who seemed to sense their interested gaze and shot them a chilling glare.
"I don't know. He's fouler than a boggart by all means, but I don't know that the charm would work on a person." Hermione mused. "And I don't really fancy finding out, either."
Harry nodded in agreement. He was still a bloody nervous wreck from his trip into Snape's penseive, and was in no hurry to try and get even deeper into trouble with the man.
"It would be rather brilliant if it did." Luna sighed. Snape continued to glare at them, causing them to slowly avert their gaze. The bell rang, signaling the end of break and they slowly made their way back into the castle. Filch was screaming at the top of his lungs at anyone who would listen, demanding that his cat be turned back to normal.
Harry smiled as he brought up the memory of the boggart-Snape in the green dress and vulture hat. Ron and Hermione were bickering about something or the rather, and Luna and Ginny had headed in the opposite direction. Neville was watching Harry closely. "You're considering it, aren't you?"
Harry shook his head. "Not on Snape. I think a test run on Malfoy could be in the near future though."
Professor Flitwick was already at the front of the class when they got to charms, so Harry purposefully pushed the Ridikulus charm out of his mind.
By the end of classes that day, Harry had almost completely forgotten about his renewed interest in the Ridikulus spell—until he came face to face with Malfoy on his way to dinner in the great hall.
The blonde boy had barely opened his mouth to spout whatever foulness had come to his mind when Harry acted.
Next to him, Harry heard Hermione gasp and break down into a fit of giggles. Ron let out a whoop, and the smirk fell off of Malfoy's face as he looked down at himself. His robes had been replaced by a flowered nighty that barely reached his mid-thighs, causing him to 'eep' and try and pull the flimsy material lower. Harry smirked as the blood rushed to his rivals' face. Even Crabbe and Goyle were snickering behind their hands. All around him, the corridor was blocked with students who stopped to gape.
"What is the hold up here? Move along." Harry quickly hid his smirk as he heard McGonagall's voice cut through the crowd. "I said move along! Mr. Malfoy! What in Merlins' name are you wearing? Twenty points from Slytherin for being out of uniform! Go put some clothes on!"
Harry couldn't help it. He broke down laughing as Malfoy pushed through the crowd, shooting him a glare as he left.
"Detention, Mr. Potter." McGonagall frowned down at him. She sent a glare at the remaining students and they quickly dispersed. When they were gone, only Harry, Hermione, Ron and Neville were left. "Five points from Gryffindor—for getting caught."
Harry smirked at his head of house, who just raised an eyebrow at him before turning and shooing a straggling first year from the corridor.
"She basically just told you not to get caught next time." Neville whispered excitedly. Hermione's eyes were wide, and Ron was doubled over laughing. "I dare you to do Umbridge next."
Harry cringed. "Maybe."
They made their way down to dinner. Excited whispers followed them as they walked to their table. Luna came from the Ravenclaw table to sit with them. "So it does work on people then."
Harry nodded, glancing up at Umbridge. Her cheeks were puffed out and she was glaring out at the students. Her curls were somewhat limp, and her usual bow was lopsided. Harry snickered and served himself some green beans.
"Seriously mate, I dare you." Ron whispered, taking a massive bite of potatoes.
Harry nodded, slipping out his wand and looking around. "I need a distraction."
Luna smiled, standing up and walking back to the Ravenclaw table. Suddenly, she pointed out one of the windows and screamed. "The crumple horned snorkack!"
Harry carefully aimed his wand and muttered "Ridikulus." He grinned widely when Umbridge turned into a toad.
No one noticed the change for a few seconds. Almost everyone was busy squinting out the window to try and see what Luna saw. Even Umbridge didn't notice at first.
Professor Flitwick was the first to notice the new and improved headmistress. He gave a start when he noticed the giant toad and fell off his seat. This caused the other professors to turn and look.
The silence in the hall quickly gave way to deafening laughter, and Umbridge finally took notice of her own affliction. However, when she tried to speak, all that came out was a croak.
Harry could feel McGonagall's eyes boring into him, but refused to look up. Ron had choked on his potatoes, and Hermione was busy patting him on the back. Another croak echoed across the hall, followed by an upsurge in laughter. Even Snape looked amused, though he hid it well when the indignant toad turned towards him, and obligingly turned her back with a wave of his wand.
"Who is responsible for this!?"
The hall fell silent again. No one spoke. Umbridge scanned the faces staring at her, and her eyes finally landed on Harry. Harry met her gaze unflinchingly and smiled wryly when the womans' face turned murderous. She had no proof.
"I think I'll have a look at your wand, Mr. Potter."
Harry felt the blood drain out of his face, and slowly stood up. The toad was marching toward him, her fat arm already held out expectantly. Beside him, he heard Ron curse.
Steeling himself, Harry handed the woman his wand, cringing when she revealed the last spell he had used. He held his breath, waiting for the outburst.
However, the smug look gave way to a frown and she grudgingly handed his wand back. "Very well, Mr. Potter. You are excused. Everyone else will wait here while I examine their wands. Once your wand has been cleared, you may leave."
Harry tried not to let the confusion he felt show on his face, and quickly left the hall.
That night in the common room, Hermione was beside herself with glee. "Don't you see what happened?"
Harry shook his head. "I thought for sure I'd be in detention for the rest of my life."
Hermione's grin only grew. "She didn't recognize the spell! Don't you get it? She's a horrible Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher, but I never figured that she was actually that worthless at it."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "You mean she didn't even know that spell?"
"Exactly. She examined everyone's wands, and is now convinced that one of the teachers hexed her. She was looking for a strong transfiguration spell, I think."
Harry nodded, smile breaking out on his face. "That's brilliant."
Hermione giggled. Ron shook his head. "I guess it's a good thing none of us had Transfiguration before dinner then."
At that moment, Ginny came bursting through the portrait, out of breath. "She thinks it was Snape!"
"I didn't get all the details, but because the other professors weren't 'able' to help her get rid of the fireworks and because the bog is still there, she thinks they're all incompetent. But Snape turned her back to normal, to her he's the only logical culprit."
"That's fantastic!" Harry snorted.
"Not really." Hermione was frowning. "Snape probably knows that it was Harry, and you can be sure that he knows exactly what spell turned her into a giant toad."
This was followed by silence.
Sure enough, first thing the next morning Harry was called into Umbridge's office and given another weeks' worth of detention.
Filch was the next victim of 'ridikulus' as it quickly turned into a craze and yet another way to undermine the new headmistress. No one ever figured out the culprit, though it was generally agreed that whoever did it had to have a familiarity with muggle culture because the greasy caretaker was forced into a white backless dress that kept blowing up on its' own accord, and his lank hair was transformed into voluminous blonde curls.
Luna was rather giddy, getting praise for the ingeniousness of the suggestion in the first place. She was also rather bold with her choice of victims, getting both Crabbe and Goyle in quick succession by turning them into gargoyles. She had to hide from Malfoy for a week when she managed to transform his fathers' cane into a candy cane and dressed the man up like Father Christmas while he was making a brief visit to the school.
Hermione got in on the action by turning Pansy Parkinson into a pug dog, and Ron managed to turn Umbridge back into a toad without getting caught. It took the woman a few hours of croaking to get someone to turn her back.
For his part, Harry was mostly content to watch the ensuing hilarity. His week of detention had reopened the scar on the back of his hand, making the words 'I must not tell lies' stand out in even more contrast. Apparently Umbridge hadn't thought 'I must not turn the headmistress into a toad' was worthy of covering up the previous message. Only once did he break down, under cover of the invisibility cloak. Malfoy was roaming the halls with his fellow inquisitorial squad and Harry was hiding behind a suit of armor. He couldn't resist. As soon as the spell had hit, he had run the opposite direction, only turning once to watch as Malfoy screamed at the group of laughing Slytherins. He was completely naked.
It was Neville, however, who got the prize for most daring. Snape was being particularly vicious in potions, and Neville had completely lost his head when his potion had turned a putrid shade of orange instead of the desired milky white. When the potions master rounded on him, Neville had whipped out his wand and screamed "Ridikulus!" at the top of his lungs before fleeing the dungeons as if his life depended on it. Snape had been forced into the dark green dress and vulture hat the boggart had donned over two years previously. His face had turned a violent shade of red and he had given Harry a weeks' worth of detention for laughing. Neville had hid for three days before Snape finally caught up with him and gave him detention every night for the rest of the term.