Weighing the Wands
One Wizard Too Many Ch 4
Standards of Behavior
“Mister Potter; you’re late! We were supposed to get started twenty minutes ago!”
Barty Crouch’s admonishment rang throughout the mostly empty Great Hall. The space designed to hold hundreds only contained a dozen or so individuals; now all focused on the two just now joining their little fete.
Harry was unconcerned. “So I was thinking we could emphasize transfiguration over charms as a basis for shielding against incoming spellfire. Like a ‘cast and forget’, rather than having to concentrate on holding a shield charm.” The pair strolled up to the small group, completely ignoring the glares and harsh looks being directed their way.
“That’s not a bad theory, but how are you at inanimate transfiguration? You’ll have to do better than your standard form in class.” Hermione did so enjoy an academic discussion; even enough to try and ignore authority figures when they’re trying to chastise her companion.
“Mister Potter!” Crouch attempted to gain Harry’s attention a second time.
Harry deigned to recognize the Minister for Magical Cooperation.
“What? Can’t you see I’m busy here?” He may have had to attend, but nobody said he had to bring his manners along.
Minister Crouch was unapologetic. “You’re late! What do you have to say for yourself?”
“Um, let’s get this farce started so I can toddle off and do something much more rewarding than jump through hoops for the massive C-F of a Ministry?” Never ask a teenager what they have to say for themselves, it never ends well.
Harry took a moment to glance around at the others present. Besides himself, Hermione (trying to hide a secret smile, any twitting of the ‘house elf abuser’ was just fine in her book), and Crouch (turning a Vernon-esque shade of puce), there were the three champions, Igor Karkaroff, “Vodka and cabbage must comprise his entire diet!” , Madam Maxine, “Damn, that’s a big broad!”, Dumbledore “Twinkly as ever.”, Professor Sprout, “At least Cedric gets some support from his head of house!”, the ever freaky Alastor Moody, “It’s like a race to see what will make me sick first: that spinning eye or that hamburger patty of a face!”, Ludo Bagman, “The wizarding equivalent of a ‘dumb blonde.’”, Percy Weasley, “You have a brown spot on your nose, just there.” , Ollivander the wandsmith, “Should he be allowed around children?”, Some older witch in obnoxious glasses, and a guy holding a camera.
It didn’t take Crouch very long to regain his powers of speech.
“Is that the behavior expected of a Champion of Hogwarts?” He demanded, looking at Dumbledore to rein in the young man.
“Listen Barty, maybe you don’t remember our little meeting on Halloween, but I’m not a champion of Hogwarts. That would be Cedric over there.” Harry nodded to the taller Hufflepuff.
“The Goblet picked you. You go to Hogwarts. Therefore, you are a Hogwarts Champion.” Crouch was trying to stay calm. His statement was delivered in a very strained fashion, however.
Harry turned to Hermione. “Hun, cover your ears a moment.”
He turned back. “Listen, I don’t know what kind of fucked up reasoning you wizards use, but how in fuck’s name can you have four champions in a Tri wizard tournament? The only reason I’m here is because someone must’ve hacked your ‘impressive magical artifact’ in an effort to get me killed. I get the fact I have to compete because somebody screwed the crup when it came to the rules and I get turned into insta-squib if I don’t play.” Harry paused a moment. “Speaking of rules…” He handed Crouch and Dumbledore pieces of parchment with something written in small script upon them.
Dumbledore began examining his intently, but Crouch was less concerned. He balled his up and tossed it in the general direction of Percy. “Listen boy! I’m a minister! I demand respect! You’re a contestant and a student; you have to abide by the standards of behavior!”
Harry put on his best ‘inquisitive five year old’ face. “Why?”
“Because those are the rules!” Crouch’s wizarding cardiologist would have to have a word with him about controlling his blood pressure.
Hermione took this opportunity to speak up. “Actually sir, there are very few stated rules regarding a champion’s behavior in the published regulations. Harry just provided you with the pertinent excerpt, but you wadded it up and tossed it at Percy.”
“What? And who the hell are you?”
“This, Barty, is Hermione Granger: smartest witch of her generation and my confidential advisor.”
Dumbledore entered the fray. “Mister Potter, Miss Granger; would one of you care to explain what exactly…”
The Headmaster was cut off by an angry bellow from without the hall.
“Professor Dumbledore! I demand that the Potter brat be expelled and the Aurors called at once!”
“Enter Snape, stage left.” Harry said to Hermione, sotto voce.
Severus Snape may have an impressive vocal delivery, but no one save Harry was prepared for the appearance of the man when he entered the Hall.
His billowing cloak and oily hair remained as per the usual image of the Potions professor, but his usual pale complexion was enlivened by a heavy layer of makeup. He looked very much like a ‘lady of a commercial nature’, or a chorus girl, and was visibly unpleased by the change.
Hermione suppressed a snort, and buried her face in Harry’s shoulder to keep from laughing hysterically at the altered instructor. Cedric also had to struggled mightily to repress laughter as his head of house Ms. Sprout gave in to a coughing fit. Even Karkaroff couldn’t help but smile a bit at Snape’s new look.
“Professor Snape, showing off your new ‘fall look’ I see.” Dumbledore couldn’t resist twitting the usually dour man. “But being the unwilling recipient of a make-over is hardly grounds for expulsion. Detention may be a suitable alternative, perhaps?”
Snape was apoplectic. “He tortured a student! And assaulted a professor with a freezing spell!”
“Aaand that brings us back to that little piece of parchment you all seem to be ignoring. My brilliant advisor, who currently seems to have an attack of the giggles, found that in the official rulebook.”
Dumbledore looked at his quizzically. “I know of this rule. It’s archaic, but it’s traditionally been used to exempt the champions from exams during the tournament. How does this justify you giving Professor Snape the ‘Avon’ treatment?”
Harry paused to both gather his thoughts, and marvel that Dumbledore knew the name of a muggle cosmetics company.
“Well, given the unusual circumstances of my entry into this mess, I thought a re-interpretation was in order. The original intent of the rule, as explained to me by Miss Gigglepants here,” earning him a smack on the arm from the recovering Miss Granger, “was to protect the champions from enemies while exposed to the dangers of the competition. It’s tough to beat a deadly magical puzzle if you’re constantly looking behind you for a knife in the back.”
“Headmaster! This boy should be on the next boat to Azkaban!” Snape was still a little miffed.
“There’s where you’re wrong. I can deal with threats as I see fit with a few exceptions, like?” He turned to Hermione
“No killing, castration, or permanent maiming; unless the ‘threat’ tries to do so first.”
“You ripped out Draco Malfoy’s teeth with a pair of pliers!” Snape exclaimed.
The French looked a bit disgusted, the Hufflepuffs were plain astonished, and Karkaroff nodded appraisingly. Krum just looked bored.
“Everyone has their standards, I guess.” Harry couldn’t help but note.
Dumbledore looked grave. “Why did you do such a thing?”
“I was dealing with a threat. Draco is, by his own admission, a threat to me. So much so, that he brags about it to anyone who’ll listen. Besides, having one’s teeth forcibly removed is hardly permanent. He did seem to find the experience somewhat painful though.”
“I’m disappointed in you, Harry. But I see no reason to censure you as you seem to be operating within the ‘rules’, as such; right Minister Crouch?”
Barty Crouch seemed to be on the verge of a headache for the ages, but nodded at the Headmaster’s prompting. “Let’s just get this weighing over with.” He stated tiredly.
Snape, however, wasn’t finished. “What about his curses directed at me? I’m stuck looking like a French tart!”
The Beauxbatons contingent was unamused at the national slight, and glowered threateningly. The effect was far from trivial, given the fact one of its members was seven feet tall.
Harry sighed. “As fun as this is, I just want to get it over with.”
“Hermione, would you like to do the honors?”
“Sure Harry.” She knew immediately what the issue was. “What’s the password?”
“It’s ‘Snape is a pretty little princess’, just seemed appropriate at the time.”
“Password, what do you mean?” Professor Sprout was curious at the by-play.
Harry answered. “My brilliant Hermione has discovered a way to ‘password protect’ a charm from a ‘finite’ spell. You have to say the passphrase before you cast the ‘finite’ to end it.”
Hermione suppressed a snicker as she intoned the passphrase and ended the makeup charm on Professor Snape. Her only thanks was a glower as he stomped away and out of the Hall. Harry most definitely would be hearing about this later! He looked forward to the confrontation.
“Fifty points for Gryffindor, for the innovative use of a security spell-charm pairing.” Dumbledore said. “Now, where were we, Barty?”
The Wand Weighing seemed like a pointless exercise, with each champion holding forth on how great their wands were. The French bird revealed her Veela heritage and Ollivander creeped everyone out with his eidetic memory and strange demeanor. Fortunately, he did keep mum on the fact that Harry’s phoenix feather wand was a twin of Voldie’s; such a revelation would’ve gone down like the proverbial ‘fart in church’, and harmed his reputation still further.
Finally, the folderol was concluding. The witch with the weird specs wanted pictures; but Harry declined.
“Sorry, but I’ve named the Giant Squid as my press agent. Any requests for photographs must pass through him.”
When it was pointed out that no one could communicate easily with the leviathan, Harry was unimpressed.
“Well, if you get a paddle from the boathouse, you can slap the water and send a message to him; I recommend using Morse code. He’ll respond in similar fashion.”
The odd ‘specky’ witch was undeterred. She did finally name herself, though.
“Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet. How about an interview?” She laid a be-clawed hand on his shoulder, large fake nails glinting ominously.
This did not please Miss Granger, as she was familiar with Ms. Skeeter’s body of work and didn’t like seeing anyone touch her Harry.
“Bitch! Get your hands off my man!”
She took up station between Skeeter and Harry and took him by the arm. “Harry, we do have a study appointment in the library right about now. Shall we be off?” She made sure to jostle the reporter with a shoulder as they walked on by.
As the couple left the Hall, Harry took Hermione’s hand.
“That went well, I think. Wish we had pictures of ‘Princess Severus’ though.”
Hermione giggled. “I’m sure he’ll provoke you again soon, dear. I recommend a bouffant with heavy green eye shadow next time, like an eighties prom theme.”
“Sixteen Candles: In the Dungeon.” Harry tried.
“Eh, not bad. ‘Potions Club’.”
“Heh, good one. ‘All The Right Ooze’, like his hair.”
“Better. How about ‘Pretty in Stink’?”
Harry snorted. “You’re better at this than me! ‘St. Elmo’s Hair Fire’?”
Hermione sighed. “Now you’re reaching. What were you saying about transfigured shields before?”
“Yes dear.” As they walked down the corridor to a study session in the library.