How to deal with being surrounded by fools, if you don't want to fit in.
Monday morning isn't anyone's favorite time, and the denizens of Harem House were no exception. They got to start with more torture from Snape, followed by finding out what kind of a grudge Lockhart would keep.
Snape, at least, lived down to expectations. The potion that he described needed eight different ingredients, to be added in just the right order and with proper timing. Hermione, Luna and her tablemates were the only ones to get the potion right and thus be spared Snape's biting criticism.
After that, however, Lockhart arrived at the next class in high spirits with a broad smile, and wheeling in something large under a cloth.
"Good morning, students!" beamed Lockhart. "I congratulate you on your efforts during the lesson we conducted last Friday."
Harry did a double-take at this. He was sorely tempted to ask which part of getting humiliated he enjoyed most, but managed to restrain himself.
"Now, I recognize that you may be wondering how your skills will translate to a real-life situation. To illustrate this point, I have brought you, at great care and expense, a foe that will test your skills to the utmost!"
With that, he whipped off the cloth with a dramatic flourish. Under the cloth was a cage, filled with agitated, bluish, vaguely humanoid creatures.
"Yes! These are freshly caught pixies, direct from the fields of Cornwall," Lockhart intoned.
"Those creatures don't look terribly dangerous," said Megan.
"They may look benign, but beware! There is more to them than meets the eye."
"They change into different creatures?" asked Hermione.
Lockhart looked nonplussed at this comment, but quickly recovered, as always. "They are dreaded across the farms and homes of southwestern England, for very good reason. And now you will see why!" While he'd been speaking, Lockhart had backed toward the door to his office. As he reached it, he called, "Alohomora!" to open the lock on the cage.
Harry later tried to block the following incident out of his memory. The pixies shot out in every direction, ripping up parchments, ruining books, soiling the desks, pulling candles from the light fixtures, trying to start fires (fortunately without much success), and generally wrecking the classroom.
Harry and his wives fought back valiantly. Millicent waved her wand in a wide swoop that captured several pixies at once ("Cornwall's not that far from Somerset, so we get these buggers every once in a while"). Hermione used a freezing charm that stopped about half a
dozen pixies each time she used it. Su and Megan were able to leap up and grab a few of the less wary pixies. The other students fired stunners, blinded them with Lumos spells, or did anything else that came to mind. Slowly, the cage began to refill with stunned pixies.
After about ten minutes, Lockhart emerged from the shelter of his office. "Now, you see, there is a simple spell that can cause these pixies to behave in a docile fashion!" he triumphantly announced while the students tried to pay attention to him. "Peskipiksi Pesternomi!" he yelled, waving his wand wildly.
The only obvious effect of this spell was to send every pixie in the area speeding toward Lockhart, which Harry didn't think was the spell's intent. Lockhart yelled "Eep!" before racing into his office, slamming the door (which did at least stun the first wave of pixies to reach it).
"Do you think this is revenge? Ow," Padma asked, getting stung by a pixie.
"Or is Lockhart really this clueless? Ha!" Parvati continued, catching one trying to rip up her Transfiguration book.
"I have no idea. Megan? Your mother's a Lockhart fan. Does anything like this ever happen to him?" Harry asked.
"Not that he- get off me!- ever writes about. Occasionally, he may have his hat fall in the mud, but that's the worst `tragedy' he ever seems to encounter," Megan detailed, while trying to knock pixies off of her before there were enough to carry her away.
After about half an hour, with about eighty percent of the pixies subdued, the kids decided to flee, figuring they'd earned an early start on lunch.
On their way there, they ran into Draco Malfoy, along with most of the Slytherin Quidditch team.
"Hello, kids," Draco drawled. "I just came by to wish you luck in our game next week. You'll need it because we have these!" With that, Draco and his teammates brandished shiny new brooms, each engraved with the gilt name Nimbus Two Thousand One.
"Shame you had to buy your way onto the team, Malfoy. We're all here because of our talent," retorted Lisa.
"Yes. I bet you have… talent," Draco said, leering at the girls. Several of the younger Slytherins did so as well. "But not the kind that will do you any good on the pitch." What that last word, Draco strutted away, followed by his teammates.
"We're gonna kick their asses, aren't we?" asked Tracey.
"Yeah," Harry said quietly. "We did it last year, and we'll do it again."
Over the following week, the group settled on Sally-Ann Parks to be their next champion. Sally-Ann certainly didn't look as intimidating as Millicent, standing four feet nine, slim, brown-haired, and very quiet. That, of course, is why she was chosen.
"Not long after I met Harry," she told Luna when the latter had asked why she spoke so rarely, "I started doing accidental magic. The first time I did it, I was watching a children's show, and the kitchen suddenly filled with green slime when it dropped on a character on the show. Then, a few days later, I got a seventy on a math test and wished the teacher would drop dead, and she collapsed. She didn't die, but she was in the hospital for a few days. Then my parents and the school head said maybe I shouldn't talk so much. It's been a hard habit to break."
The beginning of the second lesson looked much like the first, with a dramatic entrance by Lockhart and bombastic introduction. This time, he asked each of the students to select a weapon and then called for a volunteer "other than the Bulstrode girl, since she's had her
turn." Sally-Ann stepped forward and introduced herself, carrying a rapier much like Lockhart's.
"Now, when I give the signal, you are to begin your attack. My signal will be to wave my sword like this," he said, performing a complex pattern of twirls. "Are you ready, Miss Perks?" he queried.
"Yes, Professor," Sally-Ann responded.
With that, Lockhart twirled his sword, and Sally-Ann thrust hers into Lockhart's stomach. Now, the sword wouldn't actually cut him, but that didn't make it pleasant to get poked hard in the gut. When Lockhart doubled over, Sally-Ann swung her sword over her head, whacking Lockhart over the noggin, and sending him to the floor. He was out cold.
"Well, you beat my record," said Millicent.
"Should we wait for him to get up?" asked Harry. "We're not learning anything if he keeps getting knocked out."
"Yes, we are," said Luna. "We're learning what not to do. It's a very valuable lesson. I'll have to include it in my next letter to Dad."
That evening, Harry gave Hermione her birthday present. He knew that she had heard of the Lord of the Rings books but didn't seem to have them around her house, so he bought her a complete set. She hugged and kissed him to thank him; the number of kisses that Harry got from his wives seemed to increase every week. When they went to bed together, Hermione curled up against Harry. This made him feel nice and warm, if just a little awkward from some of his body's responses.
The following day, Harry woke up early and immediately started to panic… he was alone, with several small spots of blood around him on the sheets. He grabbed his wand and charged out of his room to look for the others.
Fortunately, it wasn't a long search, as all of the girls were in their own bedroom, each in her own bed. Most of them were moaning in discomfort.
"What happened?" Harry asked.
"Ohhhh… I'm sorry, Harry, but our monthlies have started," Hermione wailed.
"All of you at once?" Harry asked, puzzled. He had heard of `monthlies' by overhearing Petunia's complaints and from boys on the playground at Muggle school, but didn't know much about them.
"When girls are all connected to each other and live together, their monthlies start happening all at the same time," said Susan.
"It even happens to Muggle girls," said Hermione.
"I don't remember this happening last year," said Harry, sympathizing with them.
"Susan and Su hadn't started yet, and Luna wasn't here. Maybe that was what triggered it," said Megan.
"How long does this last?" Harry asked with concern. He had gotten used to having the girls around him, and he'd miss them if they were gone.
"Usually about three days," said Millicent. "Don't worry. We'll get through this."
The following week saw Lockhart once more in high spirits, but no offers for any further lessons. Harry just didn't understand Lockhart's thought process, and didn't want to. He was more worried about his wives (who had fully recovered by Tuesday) and about the Quidditch game against Slytherin on Saturday.
Sinistra had decided that frequent short passes and quick maneuvers would be the best way to counteract the Slytherins' new brooms. "They've only had them for a couple of weeks, and you should know from experience that new brooms take getting used to. Making them stop and change direction often should neutralize their speed." The girls and Harry agreed. After each practice, however, Harry and the varsity team members could be seen talking among themselves before returning to the House.
On the day of the game, the Haremites who weren't going to play made their way out of the locker room and down to the bench. As they reached it, they saw Ginny waving to them from the nearby Hufflepuff tower, and ran over to its base asking her to come down. A minute later, Ginny had climbed down the stairs to the field. She was still moving with some care from her injuries, but there was a big smile on her face.
"Great to see you again!" Ginny beamed. With Ginny a year behind them, the Haremites had little chance to see her during the school day.
"Are you doing alright?" Susan asked quietly.
"Much better. I have to stop by the hospital wing every day to take some new potion for the next couple of weeks. I think Madam Pomfrey is trying new recipes."
"What kind of work is she doing with them?" asked Hermione.
"I think she wants to create potions that taste as bad as possible. When I told her about it, she laughed and said that maybe they'd keep me from coming back," Ginny replied. She chuckled until she started to groan from some new ache.
"Well, we appreciate your coming down here to see us," beamed Su. "Take it easy. Is there anything we can get for you?"
"No, thank you," said Ginny. Just then, the Harem team took the field in their bright orange to confront the Slytherins in their green livery.
As the game started, the strategy suggested by Sinistra showed its strengths and its weaknesses. The short passes made it more difficult for the Haremites' green-clad opponents to block them, and allowed them to move up the field consistently when they had the Quaffle. If they couldn't get it quickly, however, the Slytherins would be able to move up the field almost unimpeded, despite the best efforts of the Beaters.
Slowly, the Slytherins begin to stretch out their lead. An hour into the match, with the Haremites down by fifty, Mandy asked Harry to use the secret weapon they'd discussed.
"I can't use it yet, Mandy. It'll only work once, remember?" Harry responded. Mandy still looked concerned, but agreed.
Thirty minutes later, the deficit was up to ninety points. "Harry, you've got to use it soon!" Millicent demanded.
"Not yet, Millie," Harry cried. "The opportunity's got to be just right."
Another thirty minutes passed, and the Slytherin lead was up to 120. Lisa flew up to plead with Harry, pleading "You've got to use it now!" and this time Harry agreed. Besides, he thought he saw something shining low and to the right. It had to be done now.
Harry flew up to face Draco, who happened to be facing the other way. "Hey, Malfoy! Can I talk to you just a second?" Harry yelled.
"What's on your mind, Scarhead?" Draco cheerfully replied. "Wondering how fast we'll get our 500-point win?"
"No," Harry continued, still smiling. "It's just that I had a question for you."
"Get to the point, dammit!" Draco hollered.
"Do you have any naked pictures of your mother?" Harry queried, smiling wider than before.
"WHAT?" Draco thundered.
"You wanna see some?" With that, Harry reached inside of his robe.
With a wordless scream of hatred, Draco lunged forward to try to strangle Harry. Fortunately for him, Harry slipped just to the right before Draco reached him, and he verified that he had seen what he thought he'd seen.
The crowd saw Draco arc downward and crash into the turf just a few seconds before Harry started his own much more controlled descent in the other direction to catch the Snitch and give the Harem the first win of the season.
After he was mobbed by the rest of his team, Harry walked over to where Draco was being helped off the field by Professors Hooch and Lockhart, the latter of which was burbling over "the proper treatment of Quidditch injuries- I should know, having nearly flown for England and all."
"Sorry about your fall," Harry said, grinning from ear to ear.
"HE INSULTED MY MOTHER, THE LITTLE S…" Draco screamed.
"Five points from Slytherin!" called Professor Hooch.
"I did nothing of the sort," Harry said smoothly, with his teammates
gathered behind him.
"Your mother is a very beautiful lady," Millicent added.
"We can't wait to see her again," continued Padma.
"I'm sure we'll have fun together," concluded Parvati.
With another wordless screech, Draco strained against the professors holding him. Harry simply laughed and walked away, followed by the rest of his team.
All in all, it was a great game for House Harem.