Harry, Hermione, Draco and Ron shared a potions table when at last classes resumed. Though the break had been nice, it felt good to return to the routine of school. The students chatted idly until Snape swept into the room with his usual dramatic flair. This was expected; what was less so was when Snape turned around, hands clasped in front of him and asked, "Miss me?"
Harry couldn't help but burst out laughing. Severus raised an eyebrow at him while the whole class stared incredulously. Ever so slightly, he shook his head in resignation then waved his wand at the board.
"Where my, for lack of a better word, substitute was unfamiliar with the finer points of potion making, I am. Therefore, you ought to expect real grading from now on."
A collective groan spread across the classroom. Snape looked like he was enjoying himself. "Well, what are you waiting for? Get started."
Everyone scrambled to gather the needed ingredients for fear of losing house points for dawdling. Once everyone was situated, Hermione raised her hand.
"Yes, Ms. Granger?" Snape asked.
"Sir, what about all of the house points the impostor took and rewarded?" she asked. "Most of those were done unfairly."
The Slytherins protested this last comment loudly. Snape silenced them with a glare.
"All of his changes will be revoked," he said simply. "In fact, I believe they already have been."
"Thank you, Professor," Hermione said politely. He nodded and moved to look over someone's shoulder.
Hermione leaned over to Harry. "You're right, I think he is nicer than the other one."
Severus straightened and spun around. It seemed that his hearing was as good as ever.
"Ten points from Gryffindor, Ms. Granger, for insulting a teacher," he said.
Where she would normally have been horrified, Hermione simply tried to stifle a smile with a nod. Severus gave her a long look then moved away. She looked sideways at Harry and they broke into silent laughter.
"Hey there, Hagrid!" Harry greeted as he and Draco ran into the large man in the corridor after class.
"Hi, Harry. Do you have a minute?" he asked, a little awkwardly.
"Sure," he said. "Go on ahead, I'll catch up," he told Draco who complied.
"I just wanted ter thank you, Harry," Hagrid said with feeling.
"Er, for what?" Harry asked.
"For clearin' my name," he said quietly.
Harry looked confused.
"I was expelled in third year 'cause they thought I opened the Chamber o' Secrets. Only Dumbledore thought I didn'," Hagrid explained. "He let me stay."
"Oh," Harry said, feeling uncomfortable. "Well, you're welcome, I guess. I suppose it's too late to come back to learn?"
Hagrid laughed, easing the tension. "Can yer see me sittin' in a desk with all you li'l ones?"
Harry flushed. "Well no, but are you at least allowed a wand now?"
Hagrid looked thoughtful. "Huh, I dun know. Maybe."
Harry patted Hagrid on the arm. "You should check on that. I could teach you some advanced spells in a few years, if you want. I have to go to class now."
"Go on, don' want you ter be late," he said. "And thanks again, Harry."
"Sure thing, Hagrid," Harry said with a smile as he made his way down the corridor. "Bye!"
Harry had to rush to get to Transfiguration on time. Despite his efforts, he walked in almost five minutes late. He nervously slipped inside quietly. Unfortunately, his seat was almost at the front of the class. There was no way McGonagall wouldn't notice him. He tiptoed down the aisle and almost made it when she finished writing on the chalkboard and turned around. They briefly made eye contact but then, much to Harry's surprise, she proceeded to pretend as if he were not there. Her eyes scanned the room, flitting right over Harry, who stood in the aisle way. Amazed at his luck, he slid into his seat next to Hermione. Even she didn't give him a disappointed look for being late. He grinned. He was beginning to like this hero status.
The next weeks passed smoothly as things settled back into their normal routine. Quidditch practice took up much of Harry's free time as the team prepared for their final match. Wood was training them hard which, under normal circumstances, would have caused Harry stress. Instead, he found the physical exertion a good place to channel the emotions, good and bad, that had resulted from his most recent escapade. Harry could tell the Draco felt much the same way and, together, they looked forward to practice. On one saturday in mid march, Harry and Draco walked up from the pitch, exhausted.
"So what do you think our chances of winning are?" Harry asked Draco.
"Well, it's Slytherin," Draco said.
"Yes...?" Harry asked, wondering if there was more to that statement.
"Anything can happen," he said with a shrug.
"Is Nott a good Seeker?" Harry asked. "Or did he just buy his way onto the team with those brooms?"
"He's pretty tall for a Seeker but he is a good flyer. You'll have your work cut out for you," Draco said.
Harry groaned. "We have to beat them. Then we'll have a chance at the cup, right?"
"Maybe the Quiddtich Cup, but not the House Cup."
"Good enough," Harry said contentedly. They had reached the portrait hole and gave the password. Harry stepped into the common room looking forward to cleaning up and turning in.
"Um, Harry?" a tentative voice said from behind Harry as he headed to the dorm.
He turned around to find Ginny. "Yeah?"
"Uh, Hagrid asked if you would come see him tomorrow after the game," she said timidly.
"Alright, thanks Ginny," he replied.
She flushed slightly. "Good luck tomorrow."
Harry grinned. "Thanks."
At a loss for what else to say, she stammered, "Bye."
Harry simply nodded and climbed the stairs to his dorm feeling both excited and nervous for the day to follow.
The next morning, Harry sat at breakfast with his friends and some of his team. They were chatting about the match. Harry nibbled on some toast and listened to the conversation around him.
"Hey, where's Fred?" Ron asked George who, for once, sat alone. Harry saw Draco perk up out of the corner of his eye. If Fred were sick, Draco would get to play.
George replied with a mischievous grin and a nod of his chin at the Slytherin table. Harry tried to discreetly turn and look. He saw Nott hovering chummily behind Flint and another Slytherin Quidditch player. He had a hand on each of their shoulders and was talking rapidly. They looked ready to throttle him. Harry turned back to George.
"I don't understand," Harry said.
George lowered his voice. "Remember that vial of polyjuice you guys gave us? Well we decided to use it to sow discord before the match."
"So Nott is..." Harry said, eyes narrowed.
"Fred, yes. And the real Nott is going to wake up in a half hour or so."
Ron reached across the table to give George a high five.
"What made you think of that?" Harry asked. "You could have just potioned him to miss the game."
George looked approvingly at Harry. "Ah, but you see, my young friend, that is illegal and easily discovered. This will make the team hostile towards Nott and they won't function as well without anyone but Nott getting suspicious."
"Technically," Hermione chimed in, "this is illegal too. But of all the situations I played out in my head before giving you the potion, I have to admit, this was one of the better choices. I guess I can't complain."
"No you can't," George said. He looked over at the Slytherin table. He leaned over to Draco. "We're going to let you get even with the Nott, okay?"
Draco nodded warily.
"When 'Nott' comes over here, bugging you, stand up to him. Say whatever you want then whisper something in his ear. Got it?"
Draco nodded again.
"Good. Here he comes," George straightened back up.
Harry and his friends pretended not to notice "Nott" coming up behind them. He walked up behind Draco and shoved him in the back of the head.
"Have another Basilisk on hand?" he asked snidely. "It'd take one to get Gryffindor to win."
"If I had another, I assure you, you would be the first to know," Draco shot back.
Fred grinned. "Was that a threat?"
Draco whispered something into his ear. As he pulled back, George surreptitiously aimed his wand at "Nott" and whispered something. The front of his robe acquired a growing wet spot and he flushed red.
"No," Draco said. "But that was."
The whole of the Gryffindor table stifled a laugh and Harry could see most of the others doing so as well. If anything, the Slytherins seemed even more angry with him for ruining their collective image. Harry couldn't stop grinning as Draco sat down and "Nott" ran for the bathroom. They joked about the situation for several long minutes, spirits high. Before long, they were joined by a familiar red head.
"Sorry, guys," Fred apologized. "Overslept. What'd I miss?"
They looked at him then burst into laughter. Fred joined in.
"Thanks, Fred. That was the highlight of my week," Draco said earnestly.
"Not a problem. If a Slytherin ever needs shaming, I'm your man," he replied. "Now about that Quidditch game..."
Harry's estimation of the Weasley twins' intelligence grew as their plan worked flawlessly. The Slytherin team was disjointed and Nott was ignored for the most part. He looked so confused that Harry almost felt bad. The Slytherins still wanted to win, badly. Their one problem was Nott. He was so concerned about why everyone was mad at him that catching the Snitch before him was easy work for Harry. In fact, the plan worked so well that Gryffindor managed to win by a margin that gave them the Quidditch Cup. Though they had lost (embarassingly) to Hufflepuff, Gryffindor crushed Ravenclaw and with this win, they had just pulled ahead of Slytherin.
"Great job, guys!" Wood said excitedly as they landed. "You're the best team anyone could ask for."
Congratulations flowed around for a good while after the game ended. As usual, the twins excused themselves early to get food for the inevitable party. Eventually, the rest of the team followed, all but Harry.
"I'll be up in a bit," he told Draco. "Hagrid wanted to see me."
"Alright, but don't be too long," he advised. "Everyone will be wanting to see you."
There wasn't a hint of jealousy in his voice. Harry smiled. "Sure."
Harry headed off towards Hagrid's cabin, not far from the pitch. He knocked on the door when he arrived and it opened quickly.
"Hey there, Harry!" he said happily. "Come on in."
Harry stepped inside and sat on one of the large stools at Hagrid's table.
"Congratulations on the cup!" Hagrid said with a large smile.
"Thanks," Harry replied. "Ginny said that you wanted to see me."
"I did," he said. "I wanted ta tell you that I'm 'lowed a wand now!"
Harry smiled. "Really? Hagrid, that's great!""I know. I wanted ter see if you would come with me to get it."
"Now?" Harry asked, a little surprised.
Hagrid nodded. "I'm a little nervous goin' down there. Ollivander really creeped me ou' when I was younger."
"Uh, sure," Harry agreed reluctantly. "But I'll have to be back before dark. Snape's rules and all." That was a plausible lie and it would be dark in about two hours. Since the party usually lasted well past curfew, Harry figured that he would be back in time for most of it.
"'Course, I understand. We'll go to Hogsmede and take the Floo from ther'."
"Hogsmede?" Harry asked. "How far away is that?"
"It's a li'l ways on foot, but it'll be faster if we take the bike," Hagrid said. "Come on."
Harry followed Hagrid around the back of his house where he pulled aside a tarp to reveal a large motorcycle.
"Wow. That's really cool, Hagrid. Where'd you get a motorcycle?"
"Oh, uh, Sirius Black gave it to me before... never mind," he said. "Hop on."
Excited, Harry climbed on behind Hagrid and held on to his coat. Hagrid started the bike with a roar and Harry thought that he probably should've asked Snape before agreeing to this. The problem was that Snape probably would've said no.
"Ready?" Hagrid asked.
"Ok," he said and the bike lurched forward.
They had only gone a few feet when Hagrid pulled some sort of wheelie. Harry clung tighter and was ready to tell him to stop when he realized that they were no longer touching the ground. The bike leveled out and soared through the air, much like a broom. From this vantage point, Harry could see the vast expanse of Forbidden Forest and the small village in the distance. They were in Hogsmede within minutes and Harry swung his leg off the bike.
"Wow," he said again.
"I hope you weren' cold. I thought yer Quidditch stuff would keep you warm," Hagrid said.
"That was great!" Harry said, not disturbed by the cold at all.
Hagrid smiled. "In here," he said, gesturing towards the Hogs Head.
They went inside a dingy and shady looking bar where Hagrid waved familiarly at the owner and stepped to the fireplace. He produced a package of Floo powder from his pocket and offered it to Harry.
"To Diagon Alley," he said.
Harry nodded and took a handful. He Flooed successfully to Diagon Alley where he waited for Hagrid. He came along within a few seconds and then they were off to Ollivanders.
"Here we go," Harry said, walking up to the entrance. He opened the door and stepped inside, Hagrid following close behind.
"Ah, Mr. Potter," Ollivander said in greeting. "Back again so soon? Hope you didn't break your wand."
Harry smiled uncertainly, unsure of whether or not he was creepy or friendly. "No, my friend here needs a wand."
Ollivander looked at Hagrid. "A moment."
"See, not so bad," Harry said encouragingly. Hagrid nodded. Harry still found it almost amusing that a man as large and formidable as Hagrid would be intimidated by the odd wandmaker.
He returned quickly with a few boxes in his hand.
"English oak, weren't you?" Ollivander said briskly. "16 inches?"
"Here, try this. It's English oak, 15 3/4 inches, firm." Ollivander handed Hagrid a dark wand.
He gave it a wave and exploded a glass bottle on Ollivander's desk. Harry took it upon himself to repair it.
"Interesting," Ollivander said as he took back the wand. "It seems you have changed since you were younger. Here, cedar, 16 1/2 inches and slightly pliable."
He handed Hagrid a thick, sturdy wand. Hagrid gave it a tentative wave and it glowed softly from the end. "I'll take it," he said, handing over the coins.
Harry smiled. "Great, let's go. Thank you Mr. Ollivander."
He merely nodded and watched the pair step out. They walked back the way they had come as Hagrid examined his new wand.
"Like it?" Harry asked.
"It's beautiful," he said emotionally. "They snapp'd my old one in half when I was expelled."
"That must have been hard to watch," Harry said. He almost considered his wand a friend. To see it broken would be horrible.
Hagrid nodded sadly. "Thanks fer comin' with me, Harry. I appreciate it."
"No problem, Hagrid."
"We best get you back befor' Dumbledore yells at me," he said. "He told me I couldn't take you fer too long."
"Or before Snape yells at you," Harry said with a grin.
"That'd probably be worse, huh?"
Luckily, with the help of the flying motorbike, they were back at Hogwarts before dark. Harry excused himself quickly, said goodbye to Hagrid and hurried up to the party. When he stepped in, cheers sounded as people raised their butterbeers to him. Harry grinned. He went to get himself one, then joined in the party, talking and having a good time. He had a great night and went to sleep smiling.
AN: Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope you all had a nice holiday :)