This takes place in the amazing world belonging to J. K. Rowling, all recognized characters and events belong to her. And many thanks to Dorkchic for the amazing prank ideas! Only used one but the year is only beginning!
Came Out of the Darkness 60 – Field Trips
Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world. Roald Dahl
It was the end of the first week. Every evening, students flowed through the Suite, talking to their friends, taking advantage of the unprecedented access to explore the other Houses and talk to the professors, all of whom were spending time there.
For the second edition of Hogwarts Happenings, Luna interviewed each of the ghosts while Dean sketched them. They had discovered that including Colin's magical photographs was beyond the ability of the equipment despite Flitwick and Snape's assistance. Each ghost opened up a little about their life, death, and time spent as a Hogwarts Ghost. The paper also described each of the clubs and groups at Hogwarts and who students should contact to join. Nigel and Dennis sold out their copies within minutes of walking into the Great Hall that Friday morning.
Filch grumbled as he stomped into the Slytherin common room. There were a bunch of first and second years watching out the window as schools of fish performed underwater acrobatics for their amusement. Neville was sitting with them, pointing out the various visible underwater plants growing nearby. When the mermaids found out what he was doing, they began bringing samples to the window.
"Have any of you seen my cat?" Filch asked.
One of the boys turned and pointed, "She went up there a little while ago."
Filch walked up the corridor, passing two bedrooms with the Slytherin crest on the doors. Pansy sat in her room with Isabel, Susan, Padma, Parvati, and Lavender. "Hi Mr. Filch," Isabel greeted. "Mrs. Norris went into the Suite."
Filch went through the door into the large Suite. Sprout was holding court at the long table, giving lessons on basic housekeeping and personal hygiene spells. Sinistra was in the Training Room which now showed the night sky and a brilliant meteor shower. Snape was sitting across a small table from Flitwick in front of the fireplace with a wizards' chess set between them and a bunch of children sitting at their feet.
"I've come for my cat," Filch said. Snape pointed without taking his eyes off of the board. Filch turned to find Mrs. Norris sitting in the window staring out over the woods next to Hedwig. "I need my cat. Supposed to patrol."
"What?" Flitwick frowned.
"That woman wants me to patrol the castle. Every night," Filch said.
"So?" Hermione asked as she walked into the Suite from the Hufflepuff corridor.
"So. She wants me to patrol."
Hermione shrugged, "What she wants is irrelevant. Would you like a cup of tea? Neville and Luna received a wide variety of teas as a bond gift from the Chinese ministry."
"Yes," Snape said. "Irrelevant. Unimportant. Means nothing to life as we know it. Check. All of the children are within the walls of the dormitories so there is no reason for you to patrol."
"You're sure?" Filch asked.
"Yes," Snape nodded.
Flitwick scowled at the board then moved, "You should talk to Padfoot and Moony about giving him some assistance. Check."
Snape glanced at the students watching the chess lesson, "I'll look into that." He evaluated the board.
Filch followed Hermione over to a side table set up with the different teas and selected one. She measured the loose tea into an infuser and prepared a cup for him. "There's honey, sugar, lemon, and cream."
Filch took his cup over to the window where Mrs. Norris stared out into the night sky. She nuzzled against him as the beautiful snow owl hooted a greeting. "Mr. Filch, I'm so glad you're here," Luna greeted.
"We are doing profiles of all of the professors for the paper and want to interview you."
"Why?" he repeated suspiciously.
"Because you are as much a part of Hogwarts as any professor. Maybe more since you've been here for over twenty years. I'd bet there isn't a room or passageway you don't know about."
"Never knew about this place" Filch looked around.
"Well, Castle made it special for us this year," Luna replied. "Will you talk to me? And let Dean sketch you?" Filch scowled but nodded. Luna led him to the corner and settled into a chair with her notepad and quill. Dean plopped onto the floor with his sketchbook and charcoal.
"Professors, question," Neville said as he walked in followed by the students he'd been lecturing on underwater plants. "Are we allowed to go into the lake? Specifically use gillyweed to explore underwater?"
Sprout cocked her head, "I don't believe it is against any rules. Most people avoid the lake because of the cold, but it has been an extraordinarily hot summer."
Sinistra came to the doorway of the Training Room, "It is going to be very warm again tomorrow and as it is Saturday we certainly won't be otherwise occupied."
"The gillyweed I cultivated last year has done wonderfully this summer," Neville reported. "There is plenty."
Snape looked to Flitwick who smiled. "I think it sounds like a brilliant idea. A wonderful educational experience for the children," Flitwick said. "One I would love to partake in."
"I will remain on dry land," Snape replied. "Checkmate." He stood, "I will go ensure that I have enough warming potions. Pomona perhaps your next lesson should cover charming towels for quick drying."
Flitwick stared at the chessboard. "That's not checkmate. It can't be. Damn it is."
"That was sneaky," one of the kids said from the floor at his feet.
The next day, the first Saturday of the term dawned bright and warm. The Great Hall was filled with laughter and excitement. Sprout had a list of students interested in the Lake Expedition as they'd come to call it. The others were planning to teach the firsties the new tradition of Color War.
Neville, Luna, and Harry took the first portions of gillyweed along with Sprout. Once they had grown gills and were safely breathing under water, the rest of the groups took theirs and joined them. After a few minutes of leaping and diving, Neville led the excursion into the deep. They were quickly joined by a school of mermaid children and their chaperons. The little mermaids and mermen were especially interested in Flitwick who was denser than the others so sank and could walk across the lake floor. Neville and Sprout led them around the lake pointing out the variety of plants over the hour. Luna followed for a while, then moved off to converse with some of the other residents of the water.
Harry stayed close for a while but once he realized the little ones were fine, he took a few minutes on his own in the peaceful quiet of the deep. He sensed the instant she touched the water and followed the bond to where Hermione sat on the dock with her feet in the lake. He swam up beneath her and tickled her toes. She smiled and kicked her feet. He grabbed her ankle playfully as though he was going to pull her in. She laughed.
Suddenly he felt the probe of Riddle reaching to him. He sighed and focused. The images were still the same corridor. Harry couldn't believe he was getting bored of these visions. He sent back the only thing he could think of, the multicolored fish swimming in a vibrant display. When he was able to relax, he realized that he still held Hermione's ankle. She was staring down at him through the distortion of the water. She smiled. And all was right with the world.
The hour ended all too quickly. Harry helped guide the other students to the shore where Severus and Pomfrey waited with the charmed towels and warming potions. Despite the warmth of the day the water was still very cold. Cedric, Parvati, Isabel, and Pansy came over to help, all covered with various paint colors.
"That was so cool!" one younger boy summed it up as Cedric quickly dried his hair. "We HAVE to do that again!"
"We will," Sprout nodded as her gray curls bounced. "If anyone is interested in extra credit for Herbology, you may pick one of the plants we saw today and write an essay describing it and its uses."
The kids exchanged grins and wandered off chattering about all they had seen and which plants they were going to write about.
The rest of the glorious weekend was spent outside in the sunshine and warmth. Many of the creatures of the Dark Forest drifted close, drawn by the laughter and excitement. Melinda, the Muggleborn Hufflepuff firstie was thrilled beyond words to see her first live unicorn while the young boys were enthralled by the powerful winged Hippogriffs.
Umbridge frowned fiercely. Upon arrival at breakfast that Monday morning, she found that the professors normal tables were gone, replaced by small round tables set for five. And up on a riser with a pink tablecloth was a single table set for one. She realized quickly that this was the last available seat. She walked through the assembly attracting very little attention. Everyone was enthralled with the latest edition of the paper and its profiles of every professor.
Umbridge snatched a copy from Nigel and stomped up to the pink table, telling herself that it was the perfect seat for her. Not only her favorite color, but it gave her the ability to see everyone in the Great Hall. She opened the paper as her breakfast appeared. She was anxious to see what was written about her, only to find that nothing was. There was a small box on the back at the bottom, listing her name, her previous position at the Ministry, and that she was now teaching Defense. There was no sketch of her. The entire write up was almost hidden amongst the Weasleys' advertisement.
Before she could think of a suitable response to this reprehensible slight, the owls arrived with the morning mail. Her copy of the Daily Prophet arrived followed immediately by two delivery owls carrying a plain brown package. She smiled. Her contacts had come through as always. She sat the Prophet aside as she greedily ripped into the package to confirm delivery of a new supply of blood quills. She didn't plan on letting these out of her sight, and already had a suitable container in her quarters to ensure their survival until they were needed. She sat the box down onto the table.
Where it immediately burst into flame.
Umbridge shrieked and leapt up, knocking the box over so that the burning quills spilled out and set the tablecloth and all of the contents on fire. She snatched up her glass of juice and tossed it on the flames ineffectively. A gush of water spelled from her wand also had little effect on the inferno.
Flitwick folded down the top of his paper and peered up at the burning table and the woman dancing around it. "Professor Umbridge seems to have set her table on fire."
Snape glanced back over his shoulder, "She should probably do something about that before it spreads to… oh well, too late," he observed as her sweater sleeve ignited. He turned back, "Dean Thomas is an amazingly gifted artist," he remarked as Umbridge screeched and jumped around.
"Should we do something?" Madam Hooch asked. "She's likely to burn the place down at this rate."
"Castle will take care of it," Filch replied as he sipped his coffee.
Suddenly a cloud formed in the sky above the fire and with a sudden clap of thunder, Umbridge and her table were doused in a torrential downpour that extinguished the flames. As soon as the fire was out, the cloud dissipated and a rainbow appeared in its place. The students who'd attention had been drawn by the commotion, admired the rainbow, then turned back to their breakfast and morning paper.
Umbridge straightened her half burnt sweater then walked down from her perch, her soaked shoes squelching with each step. She walked back through the Hall. She paused after she exited and heard a resounding flood of laughter. She stomped back in, determined to punish those who would dare laugh at Dolores Umbridge. Only to find that not a single student was looking towards her. Their complete attention was directed skyward where the Castle ceiling had produced many rainbows and multicolored clouds of various animal shapes that were chasing each other around. As she stood there bright green frogs leapt from cloud to cloud which produced various beeps, boops, and blurps as they landed causing more laughter from the children.
She turned and squelched away, leaving wet footprints on the stone. She never turned around so she never realized that the Castle redirected the water into the shapes of toad footprints in her wake.
An hour later she stormed up the hallway to her classroom. She'd been forced to pay triple the usual rate to have a new package of blood quills shipped overnight owl. She snarled at a few children running late for their class but they were gone before she could identify them. No matter, she would have an entire class of third years under her control. With that thought in mind she kicked open the classroom door to charge through it.
Hitting an invisible shield wall across the doorway. She slammed face first into the barrier, granting the students inside a unique view of a toad slamming into a windshield. She bounced back into the opposite wall and sank down to the floor with blood streaming from her nose and mouth. She looked up to see all of the students still in their seats, staring at her.
"Don't just sit there like imbeciles! One of you fetch the nurse!" Umbridge demanded.
"What?" one of the students replied soundlessly.
Another rose and walked to the doorway, placing his hand against the barrier. He turned and apparently said something to the other students but she could not hear them. He turned back to face her and shrugged.
Umbridge pulled her wand and wrote in the air, "Stay in your seats and read chapter three. No talking!" She stumbled to her feet and leaned against the wall to walk away, trying to stem the flow of blood from her face.
The boy at the doorway watched her walk away, "Anyone else surprised that her blood was red?" Everyone laughed. "Anyone not already read this book cover to cover?" Everyone shook their heads. "Me too, so I'm going to do my Charms homework." And with that each student pulled out various homework assignments and spent the class period working.
Umbridge returned just in time to dismiss the class. When they all walked out without issue she tried to enter the classroom but the barrier still stood firm. Her next class was able to file in without any problem, but even holding onto one of the students did not allow her to enter. She monitored the class from the doorway as they read silently, but was unable to see exactly what any of them were reading. As soon as class was over she stalked off to complain to McGonagall.
Umbridge was halfway up a flight of stairs stomping towards the Transfiguration classroom when the staircase began to move. She growled as she grabbed the handrail to maintain her balance. The staircase jerked to a stop. Umbridge looked forward to where the stairs ended in mid-air, then back where they ended against a solid stone wall.
"MOVE! You better move!" she stomped her feet. Nothing. She rocked back and forth. No response. She let out a wordless screech of frustration, drawing the attention of several students. "Bring me McGonagall. NOW!"
McGonagall walked to the edge of the landing and stared down at the stranded woman. "What happened?"
"How would I know?" Umbridge snarled. "The stairs just stopped! Make them move!"
"I can't," McGonagall replied. "The staircases move themselves when they feel like changing. They've never stopped like this before. Well rarely," she remembered her own time stranded on a staircase while hunting for children out creating chaos. "It should move momentarily." She turned and started to walk away.
"Professor Umbridge, I have a class to teach!"
"So do I," Umbridge replied. "But I have been unable to access my classroom. The students could pass through without issue but I could not. This is seriously unacceptable! I expect this problem to be rectified immediately! AND I WANT OFF THIS STAIRCASE!"
McGonagall sighed, "Can I have a Hogwarts Elf report to me please?" Instantly one popped into view next to her. "Please fetch Professor Umbridge and remove her from the staircase."
The Elf nodded, popped over to Umbridge and grasped the edge of her robes, popping again to deposit her on the landing. The Elf disappeared again.
"ELF!" Umbridge screeched. "Come back and take me to my classroom. ELF!" The Elf didn't return and when Umbridge looked around she discovered that McGonagall had also vanished.
On Tuesday, Umbridge was able to access her classroom again, however found that every book that she looked at appeared to be Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard. Even her personal reading material secured in her rooms in a locked cabinet. The size and shape matched what the books were, but once she touched them all she could see was the textbook. She ranted and raved to every professor, demanding to know who did it and why. Three days later, every book she picked up looked normal from the outside. Inside they were completely blank, or had every page stuck together. The following Monday found that every book either disappeared or bounced out of her hand.
She was also enraged that after a week she still hadn't received her 'overnight owl' delivery. She Floo called her contact who advised that the owls that had been dispatched had been tracked as far as northern Scotland, only to suddenly be heading south over France. They turned around and tried the delivery twice more, once ending up in Norway, the second time over Denmark. The owls then returned home. Her contact refused to refund her payment as they had to deal with traumatized owls who had never failed a delivery before. He also refused any further business with her.
She was handing out detentions left and right but without the blood quills she was at a loss. Ordering the students to write even fifty or sixty lines seemed to make no impact on their behavior.
Snape yawned as he walked up the Slytherin corridor to the Suite late Tuesday night the following week. It was well after curfew and all of his snakes were in bed. He stopped at Pansy's door and peeked in to confirm that she was asleep before moving on. The Suite was quiet. Cedric was sitting at the table with several books and scrolls of notes in front of him. Draco was sprawled on a couch with a book propped on his knees, Hermione was at the other end of the couch writing steadily on a scroll resting against a plank of wood on her lap. Neville and Harry were contemplating a game of Wizards Chess. Luna was by herself in the Training Room but she emerged as soon as Severus entered.
"Here to send us to bed?" Luna asked as she walked over and squeezed into the chair with Neville.
"Here to deliver presents," Sev replied.
"You don't look much like Santa," Neville quipped.
"Ho, Ho, Ho." Snape handed out the duplicates of the Marauders Map. "Ah Filius, just in time. They finally found Sirius' notes from when they made the first one. There's one for each of us, plus Filch. Argus' will only work for him, if anyone else touches it, it will go blank. I don't need to tell you how important it is that Umbridge never discover that these exist."
Luna got up and went over to fix Flitwick a cup of his favorite tea as Flitwick examined his copy of the map. "I can't thank you enough for this. Pass my thanks on to Sirius, Remus, and Alastor," he said.
Snape nodded, "Of course. We only ask that you keep it a secret. To the point that if need be you destroy it to avoid it falling into someone else's hands."
"You have my word," Flitwick gave a little bow.
Severus sighed, "Maya? Do you remember first year?"
She frowned with a glance at Flitwick, "Yes."
"Sorry, I'm tired, I meant do you remember some of the lessons from first year? Specifically the uses for Dragons' Blood?"
"Yes," she repeated.
"Would you be willing to review the first years' essays?" Snape pulled a thick roll of scrolls from his pocket. "I would never ask but I have fallen far behind in grading. Thankfully I have very few NEWT levels to read. I assigned them a total of seven scrolls in the last two weeks."
Hermione nodded, "I can do that. How far behind are you?" she asked as she accepted the scrolls.
"Seven years, two weeks. You do the math," Sev replied. "I don't plan to sleep tonight."
"I can take second and third years as well," Hermione said.
"I couldn't ask you to do that," he sighed.
"I'm only going to offer once," she said and he quickly handed over two more batches of essays.
"I'll help you," Draco offered. "I've studied Dragons' Blood intently, especially since the first task last year. I'm sure I can handle the firsties essays."
Flitwick was watching them, "Are we allowed to have students grading other students?"
Snape shrugged, "I have no idea, nor do I care. Between these mandatory meetings that Umbitch keeps insisting McGonagall hold so she can rant about books and barriers. Plus time spent up here when I should be working. Don't look at me like that, I want to be up here, but I also need to manage my time better."
"I am doing no better," Flitwick admitted. "I had planned to spend the entire weekend working on grading. Instead I was with the kids outside. So I hereby draft Mr. Diggory and Ms. Lovegood… sorry Lady Longbottom."
"Lovegood-Longbottom," Snape corrected.
"Really?" Flitwick asked, everyone nodded. "Nice. Neville, Professor Sprout could definitely use your assistance."
Harry sighed, "It sucks that I'm not good enough to help anyone."
"Your strength is always going to be Defensive Tactics," Snape reminded. "But as you have no real professor you have no one to volunteer to help."
Hermione smiled, "Which is why he's going to start a training program to teach defense."
"I wondered what the Training Room was for," Flitwick said. He sighed heavily, "How much of what is coming are you already aware of?" Every set of eyes went to him. "My Goblin ancestry allows me to see the bonds between people. When you two arrived," he looked to Harry and Hermione, "the bond was almost blindingly bright. It was the same once Luna joined Neville but was more obvious as the two of you supposedly had just met that morning. Then as things progressed, I could also see the bonds you began to form with Draco and Cedric. With Severus. The seven of you share something extraordinary and I suspect there are more of you. Last year after the Yule Ball I went to Gringotts and spoke to Griphook."
"You know Griphook?" Harry asked.
Flitwick nodded, "We are family. Linked through our great-great grandfather. He didn't share any of your secrets Lord Potter, but he did tell me that the Goblins had noticed the bonds between you immediately and he mentioned their suspicions as to how many times you'd lived this life."
"We only remember the last time," Luna reported.
"They do," Cedric pointed, "Draco and I only know what they've told us. I know that they changed my fate since my life was supposed to end with the final task of the tournament."
"Not supposed to," Hermione corrected. "If it was supposed to happen, nothing we changed would have kept it from happening. As to what is coming," they exchanged looks.
"So much has changed," Neville said. "We think some things will still happen, but we can't be sure." They fell quiet.
Flitwick nodded and realizing they were growing uncomfortable so he changed the subject, "Severus have you done any planning for potions to use during the next Mischief Night? I think we may be overdue for one."
"Actually no," Severus smiled, "I drafted someone else to work on that."
"Who?" Luna asked.
"Who do you think?"
Fred and George proudly set their creations out on the table. Bottles of brightly colored potions and a large box of balloons ready to be filled.
"So the yellow potion," George pointed, "Will coat your victim like the regular color war potion. But this one won't fade away and the color will change according to the person's emotion. Red is anger, yellow is fear, green is jealous, etc. The effects last for twenty four hours exactly."
"The bright green one contains stink sap," Fred continued. "That one lasts until the person takes a shower or bath, soap cancels it out. And yes it really stinks."
Lee Jordan grinned, "The real pale blue one is my favorite, wherever it touches turns invisible!"
"As in clothing?" Snape scowled.
"No," Lee chuckled, "the whole body part. Arm, leg, chest. Though the clothing thing would be interesting."
"What are these?" Neville lifted a fat round bottle that obviously contained some kind of vapor.
"We're not sure about using that one since it has to be contained in a glass bottle," Fred said. "And shattered glass isn't the best thing to have around kids playing."
"What does it do?" Flitwick asked.
Fred uncorked the bottle and inhaled the vapor. The bottle started to fall but George snagged it and recorked it. With a massive shudder, Fred turned into a giant toad. They all laughed as Toad-Fred jumped around the room croaking and flicking out his long sticky tongue. After a full minute, his skin oozed bright green slime and he turned back into Fred.
"That was amazing!" Harry laughed.
"Croak," Fred replied. Everyone froze and looked at him. "Kidding. Just kidding. We can inject the vapor into candies too. Like the Canary Creams. We're still working on some others. We can do anything we can get a sample from. Canary feathers, toad saliva, which we have thanks to Trevor, and we've also successfully tested owl feathers, cat and dog hair, and snake skin."
"You have found a way to temporarily change a person into all of those animals?" Snape asked. The twins nodded. "That is remarkable."
"I vote for Friday night," Flitwick said as he judged the flexibility of one of the balloons. "Give us a few days to fill the balloons. And so we can play late without having to get up early the next day."
"Works for me," Snape replied. Everyone else voiced their agreement.
"What does this one do?" Cedric asked as he uncorked a bottle of neon orange potion.
"NO!" Fred, George, and Lee chorused reaching for him.
They were enveloped in a putrid orange cloud. Cedric gagged and quickly recorked the bottle but the stench lingered. "What is that?" Cedric said from behind his hand.
"Swamp gas mixed with freshly laid, unfertilized toad eggs loaded with pheromones," George explained as Trevor came leaping up the hallway as fast as his legs could move him. "But the smell is too strong, and there are side effects." He coughed and groaned.
Flitwick flicked his wrist and both windows opened, another spell sent the entire cloud out into the night.
Where it immediately enveloped a beetle, who was trying to find any window not guarded by an animal. Rita dropped out of the sky like a rock and crawled under a bush. She had no idea she could vomit while still in her Animagus form. A small mouse saw her, then its nose twitched and it fled. After a few minutes rest, she took flight. And crossed paths with a flock of owls. One of them swooped towards her then squawked and barrel rolled away, hooting and taking deep breaths to clear its lungs. The others caught the odor and scattered.
When she reached the edge of the grounds, she took the risk to transform back into human form, caught the scent of the cloud still on her skin and hair, and was sick again. She cast multiple hygiene charms both before and after she apparated to her home in London. She went straight inside to the shower, burning her clothing as soon as she took it off. She was under the water for over an hour, scrubbing with soap, strong potions, and more charms.
When she finally emerged, she wrapped herself in a thick fluffy towel and stepped in front of the mirror. People in a four block radius woke up to the sound of a woman screaming. Many called emergency services reporting that a woman must be being slaughtered in their neighborhood. In reality it was just a reporter who had discovered that her hair had turned a bright, glow-in-the-dark orange.