HARRY POTTER AND THE STICKING BROOM
[Author’s Note: By legal definition, a “certifiable
act of lunacy” occurs whenever an author of any work of Harry Potter fifth year
fanfiction fails to post said work until mid-May 2003. And, yes, M’Lud, I wish to
plead guilty by reason of insanity.
Despite my delusional state, I remain aware
that JK Rowling created most of the characters and all of the settings in this
tale. I thank her profusely. I also
suspect that Mrs. Rowling is about to reveal wonderful events in Harry Potter’s
fifth year, which will bear very little relationship to this story. I am sure she will find her own way of
celebrating the twins’ last few weeks at Hogwarts. Despite Severus Snape’s
dangerous and mysterious mission to thwart the Dark Lord (if indeed there is
any such mission), I trust that JK Rowling will still take time to mock his
greasy hair and yellowish, uneven teeth. And I am ever hopeful that she will
eventually find a way to steer the affections of two clueless, teenage boys in
the right direction.
However, I persisted in writing this story
because my own pet theories, speculations and conjectures concerning Harry’s
fifth year simply would not go away - no matter how diligently I marked off the
days on my calendar until June 21. I
also persisted because Mary, who is nine, demanded a story about Quidditch.
I thank Elanor Gamgee aka Cap’n Kathy for
beta-reading this story, even though at this late stage she must see very
little point in it. At least I do not
feel guilty that I might be preventing her from re-reading all her Harry Potter
books before June 21. Her knowledge of
all things Harry Potter is so extensive that I strongly suspect she already
knows the entire works of JK Rowling by heart!]
Chapter 1: An Idle Few Weeks in June
McGonagall, acting headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,
adjusted her spectacles to stop them slipping down her perspiring nose. The staff room was unusually hot, not only
because it was the kind of late May day that augured an early return to summer,
but because an enormous fire had been lit to allow Rubeus Hagrid to attend the
first part of a weekly staff meeting. He had subsequently returned to
Beauxbatons Academy of Magic via a recently installed Floo network connection.
“Mr. Filch,” said
Minerva McGonagall, “I think we’ll have that fire out now.” The school caretaker doused the blaze,
sending steam whooshing out of the hearth so that the staff room soon resembled
a sauna. The acting principal’s spectacles fogged over as they began to make
their way down the bridge of her nose once more.
Demister,” McGonagall stated, tapping her glasses with her wand. Referring to the gilt edged sheet of
parchment in her hand, she continued. “The next item for discussion is the
International Potions Essay Competition.”
“Surely you are
referring to the Brews-U-Like International Potions Essay Competition?” sneered
Hogwarts’ Potions Master, Professor Severus Snape.
Severus,” McGonagall replied tersely. “And I think your opinions on corporate
sponsorship in education have been noted in earlier meetings. I don’t see that
it makes a jot of difference whether the prizes are donated by the good people
of Brews-U-Like or by Butterbeer, the fact remains that this is a prestigious
contest. Hagrid has just told us that Beauxbatons will be entering - you can
bet Durmstrang will too. I firmly
believe that Hogwarts should be putting its best foot forward on this one.”
“I have provided
contest application forms to four of my best seventh year students,” Snape
seventh years are all dunderheads,” Professor McGonagall retorted. “Half of my N.E.W.Ts class couldn’t
transfigure a block of ice into a puddle.
And I’ve heard you complain about your seventh year Potions students, at
length, often enough. No, I think we
are going to have to look further for our best candidate.”
Professor, the essay topic requires a detailed analysis of pharmacology and a
thorough understanding of the history of Potions preparation. It would be beyond the sixth year students,”
Snape continued in his typical, irritated drawl.
“I wasn’t going to
suggest a sixth year student,” Minerva McGonagall responded curtly. “Hermione Granger
will be taking her last O.W.L. examination at the end of this week. The witch who marked her Potions paper at
the Magical Educational Standards Board has already sent an owl to congratulate
the school. That awful Prawn woman said
they’ve never seen the like of it. They’ve had to change the whole marking
scale to allow results of greater than four hundred percent.”
effused Madam Pince, the school librarian.
Hermione had always been a favorite of hers, since hardly a day had gone
by in the last five years without Miss Granger visiting the library.
“Miss Granger may
have some aptitude for Potions,” Professor Snape conceded begrudgingly,
secretly pleased that once again he had taught the nation’s top student, “but I
doubt whether she would have any inclination to honor the school by
competing. She’s fallen in with a bad
crowd - rule breakers and riff-raff.
There’s not an ounce of school spirit in that lot.” He wanted to
continue, to name Potter and his sidekick, Weasley, and list for the whole room
the abominations those two swaggering boys had engaged in while at the
school. But he knew it would do no
good. Harry Potter, the “Boy Who
Lived,” the Triwizard Champion, was now such a legend in the wizarding world
that it would be futile to even suggest the lad had any shortcomings. He just hoped that Potter’s exam results
were dismal. He contemplated framing
the edition of the Daily Prophet which would publish Potter’s failures
and hanging it on his dungeon wall.
“But the contest
prizes are quite generous,” Professor Sprout suggested. “Maybe that could persuade her? I think first prize is a trip to the
Apothecaries and Alchemists Guild convention at Uluru, wherever that is.”
“Isn’t that where
you’re presenting your werewolf paper?” Professor Flitwick congenially asked
snorted. He was currently enduring a
period of unwelcome celebrity, courtesy of a discovery he had made two years
before. At Professor Dumbledore’s
insistence, he had published a brief paper in The Magical Scholarship
Gazette concerning the Wolfsbane Potion that he had brewed to alleviate
Remus Lupin’s lycanthropic symptoms.
Some time later, St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
had commenced clinical trials of the potion, with good results. Two months ago, Rita Skeeter of Witch
Weekly had printed a heartwarming tale of the cure of Euphemia Peebles,
mother of five, who had been bitten by a werewolf while on a seaside holiday to
Torquay. “It’s just such a blessing,”
Mrs. Peebles had been quoted as saying, “not to be chained up in our dog kennel
every full moon.”
The Mrs. Peebles
story had been such a hit with Witch Weekly’s readers that Rita Skeeter had
decided to follow it up with a feature on the brilliant inventor of the
anti-werewolf potion. Severus Snape
vividly recalled the night her curly haired, bespectacled head had appeared,
unannounced, on his bedroom furniture while he was marking essays. He nearly spat out his Bovril as the grating
voice asked him for a quote on his reaction to Euphemia Peebles “miracle cure.”
His exact recollection of his entire statement to the media had been, “If some
mad old witch is fool enough to get herself attacked by a werewolf, I consider
her treatment to be a waste of good lycapods.
Now remove your repellent features from my armoire.”
Rita Skeeter, since
her involuntary and publicly unexplained absence from journalism, had been
pursuing a policy of only writing flattering things about the folk at
Hogwarts. Therefore, she was not able
to use Snape’s exact words. However,
she wrote a piece which made many references to his “dark good looks,” to his
students’ “devotion to their inspiring teacher” and to his “compassion for the
werewolf cause.” For a longstanding
lycaphobe such as Professor Snape, the last distortion of the truth was
particularly irksome. The Witch Weekly article painted Hogwarts’ Potions
Master as a cross between wizardry’s most eligible bachelor and St Francis of
Assisi. Within days of the magazine being published, Severus Snape had received
a flood of fan mail, including several owls bringing marriage proposals from
witches whose enclosed photos revealed an abundance of facial hair.
McGonagall’s mouth twitched into a small smile. “I’m certain that Professor
Snape’s Wolfsbane potion speech is going to be very warmly received, but I
don’t think that alone will be much of an incentive for Miss Granger to enter
the competition. Perhaps I should have
a talk with her. I’ve a fair idea how to bring her around.”
She checked the
agenda. The parchment was automatically crossing off the penultimate item for
discussion with a ray of silver light. “It seems the last thing we need to talk
about is Cruciatus Curse sufferers’ research.
Poppy, I think you wanted to bring this up.”
nodded. “The topic came up a little
while ago when Gladys Longbottom was visiting the school.” Several staff members shifted uncomfortably
in their seats. Mrs. Longbottom was the
mother of Frank Longbottom, who together with his wife had for many years
resided in a catatonic state at St Mungo’s. “She told me that there’s a mediwizard
at the hospital who is trying some new techniques to revive victims. It’s costly work, some of the ingredients
he’s using in his potions are quite exotic.
She was hoping we could donate herbs, but Professor Sprout tells me we
don’t grow the types he needs here.”
“The stuff he’s
after only grows in the tropics, Poppy,” Professor Sprout explained.
“I feel awful
telling Mrs. Longbottom there’s nothing we can do,” Madam Pomfrey said.
reflected sadly for a moment. Frank
Longbottom had been such an affable boy and she always felt a pang of grief
when she spotted his son Neville in the school corridors. He was so much like his father. “Maybe we should raise money instead,” she
suggested. “This time of year, most of
the students have nearly finished their exams.
We seem to always have an idle few weeks in June. Perhaps we could plan something, a
fundraiser, to raise a few thousand Galleons during the last week of term.”
“A fete would be
fun,” Professor Flitwick said enthusiastically.
“But would require
too much organisation at such short notice,” McGonagall countered. “And we have to consider
the problems we might have with the fortune teller’s tent,” she warned. The last time Hogwarts held a school fete,
more than a decade ago, Professor Trelawney set up a stall to divine the
future. Many of the parents, students
and good citizens of Hogsmeade who visited Sybill Trelawney’s tent were so
depressed by her predictions that they spent the rest of the day quietly
sitting and sobbing by the tom bola. The Divination teacher, who had been in a
trance since Monday afternoon, was not present at the staff meeting to offer
any defence to her acting headmistress’ criticism.
“We could run a
second hand book stall down at Hogsmeade Markets,” Madam Pince volunteered.
“Not a bad idea,
but it might not raise much money,” the acting headmistress said tactfully.
Minerva McGonagall thought to herself that Irma Pince couldn’t make two Knuts
from a bookstall if she tried. The librarian would sooner sell her only wand
that part with any of Hogwarts’ precious books, no matter how dilapidated they
might appear to the untrained eye.
“What about a
flower show?” asked Professor Sprout.
The reaction around the table made it clear that none of her colleagues
shared the professor’s enthusiasm for Herbology.
“Got it!” exclaimed
Madam Hooch, thumping the table. “What about a Quidditch tournament? Staff versus students. It’d be a hoot.” There was an appreciative buzz around the staff room.
“It might be a
possibility,” Hogwarts’ acting principal agreed. “Since Oliver Wood’s made such
a name for himself, there’s been a lot of public interest in the Quidditch we
play at Hogwarts.”
“We could ask
Oliver along to sign a few autographs,” Professor Flitwick suggested.
“And I’m sure some
of our ex-students would be keen to come and see the teachers’ team,” the
flying instructor continued, her yellow eyes twinkling.
“Well, a Quidditch
tournament it is to be then. Madams
Pomfrey and Hooch can organise things, but obviously we’ll all have a part to play,” said Minerva
McGonagall, wiping her moist brow with a linen handkerchief as she looked
around the staff room table. “Especially if we’re selected for the teachers’
team,” she added.
“Oh, I think I
already know the team I want, Minerva,” Madam Hooch said as she winked across
the table. “I’ll bet there isn’t an
ex-student alive, who wouldn’t pay good money to see the Sticking Broom again.”