"And that's it! Harry Potter has caught the Snitch! Gryffindor wins!" Lee Jordan's voice rang out over the Quidditch Pitch. The Gryffindor students in the stands had begun to jump up and down while waving the red and gold scarves wildly. The professors in the stands clapped politely and began to make their way back to the castle. No one paid any attention to the Slytherin Captain still circling the Pitch or several of his teammates glaring wildly at the despised Gryffindors. In the end, no one really knows how the fight started. No one saw who threw the first hex that afternoon, but in the end it really didn't matter. Within minutes, the Quidditch Pitch was a blur of varying shades of hexes, screams and flailing limbs.
In what seemed like a lifetime later, the Gryffindor team stood before their Head of House. She wore an expression more dour than she'd ever worn before as she regarded her team. "I have never in all my years seen such a despicable and cowardly act of lunacy! What exactly did you hope to accomplish? Jelly-Arm jinxes against flying students are never funny. Someone could have been killed!"
"Honestly, Professor, I only returned fire after being hit by a Stinging Hex in my arse." Angelina was indignant. She, like her teammates, had not been the first to fire. She resented being reprimanded for defending herself on the Pitch.
"Silence, Miss Johnson." McGonagall commanded in her soft but nonetheless authoritative voice. "There were professors present. Professors with wands, I remind you, who would have been more than capable of stopping this nonsense before it escalated had all of you not been so foolish as to stoop to the level of some of your opponents. I expected more of Gryffindors. I will not have members of my House behaving in such an uncouth baboon-like manner. Do I make myself clear?" She made eye contact with each of them, the stern expression never leaving her face. She seemed satisfied that the team understood.
"What happens now? Will we still be allowed to play Quidditch?" Oliver Wood asked hopefully. It was well-known that Wood lived, breathed, ate, drank and slept Quidditch. The rest of the team looked wide-eyed at McGonagall once he'd dared to ask the question on all their minds. None of them seriously thought the entire team would be banned, though that thought had registered on a few of their minds.
McGonagall looked them over silently for a few moments. "Professor Dumbledore wishes to speak with all of you and the Slytherin team…together. He will decide the appropriate course of action."
The Gryffindor team made their way to the Great Hall feeling somewhat confident that Professor Dumbledore would not be overly harsh in his choice of appropriate punishment. As they filed in, they noted that the Slytherins were all already there and seated at their table. Angry looks, though no words, were exchanged.
"I'll bet Professor Snape didn't lecture them."
"Don't be so sure, Harry," whispered Oliver. "The Slytherins don't look too happy."
"When do they ever?" Someone blurted out, possibly Fred or George.
Dumbledore motioned them all to come closer. "Come, come! There's no need for a Sonorous Charm if we can avoid that!" Once the assembled students had gathered around him, he allowed a few moments to pass in silence as he tried to make contact with each and every one of them. He sighed softly and then began to speak.
"What I saw today on the Quidditch Pitch saddened me to no end. This is not why we play Quidditch or indeed why we host competitions of any kind. The spirit of competition should be healthy. It should make you and your teammates want to seek something within yourselves for the betterment of both your team and your own person." Dumbledore looked sternly at the Slytherin team. "And I remind you that winning isn't everything. It is how you play the game that matters most." Dumbledore considered his words before continuing. "I think it fitting to ask members of both teams to celebrate all that is good about Hogwarts, Quidditch and whatever else strikes your fancy," Dumbledore laughed a little at his own words, "together."
Silence. The Gryffindors grimaced. The Slytherins, after a moment of stunned silence, protested immediately. "Celebrate with them? I'd rather do detention with Filch!" It sounded like Warrington.
"Now, now," Dumbledore raised one hand in a gesture of silence. "A party would give all of you the opportunity to get to know each other better. No books, no competition, nothing that will interfere with your abilities to make polite conversation with your classmates."
"Where will this 'party' take place?" Oliver Wood was ready to take charge of his Gryffindors.
"It would do for the Slytherins to play host to show they are capable of being good sports. I believe we could arrange for the Gryffindors to gain entry into the Slytherin common room for one evening."
"Step into my den," said Marcus Flint with a wide grin on his face. Already, ideas were forming in more than one Slytherin mind how to make this a night to remember for all involved. Hell, it might even rate a paragraph in a future edition of Hogwarts: A History…the day fire and water came together.
"This is worse than I could have ever imagined." Angelina commented to Katie Bell. Both girls looked at the Slytherins, nervous but determined not to show it. Playing dirty on the Quidditch Pitch was one thing, but spending an evening with the Slytherin Quidditch team in 'their' common room was something entirely different.
"Well, it should certainly be interesting," agreed Katie. She had already noticed the furtive whispering going on between Fred and George Weasley…something about 'what a crapload!' She shook her head with a slight laugh. "This should be good."
The next morning, a flurry of excitement swept the Gryffindor table. Fred and George had decided to unveil their latest invention in honor of the forthcoming party. A colourful advertisement made its way down the Gryffindor table leaving a wave of laughter in its wake.
Have you ever needed to gain entry into the common room of another House?
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The C.R.A.P.L.O. A.D uses the best of Muggle and wizard technology to make this possible! It looks like a normal wizard wireless, but uses what Muggles call "thermal infrared remote sensing" to detect areas where the temperature is higher despite the apparent lack of any reason why it should be, for example a common room full of students hidden behind a wall or painting. Generally, this feature is not really necessary because we believe most students already have an idea of where the other common rooms are anyway. But, I assure you IT DOES WORK! We've also incorporated a "Magic-Detection- Unit" which can detect traces of magical energy. This will also assist with common room location.
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"Do you think they've been in the Slytherin common room already?" Angelina had tears of laughter running down her face.
"I don't know. I guess I wouldn't put it past them." Katie glanced over at the Slytherins. The laughter had caught the attention of all the Slytherins, who stared back defiantly. Marcus Flint, in particular, seemed unusually cocky even for his standards as he met Katie's stare. She looked away quickly when she thought he'd winked at her. 'No,' she thought, 'I imagined that. That's all'.
"Are you all right, Katie?" Alicia finished her juice and set the glass down on the table. "You look like you've just seen a bludger headed right for you."
For a moment, Katie thought that such a description seemed entirely appropriate. Flint was like a Bludger in so many ways. Katie wondered what he had planned for the Gryffindors…or for her. She dared a glance back at the Slytherin table. He was still staring at her. Her face reddened. She quickly gathered her books and hurried out of the Great Hall. She did not see the smile that crossed his face as he watched her scamper away.
The evening of the party came all too quickly. Though all involved were publicly maintaining a strong desire for it to be over, there was nonetheless a certain and undeniable curiosity about the opposing house. Both sides aimed to come prepared.
Flint greeted each Gryffindor as they entered. "Nice you could make it, Wood!" He offered a hand and a smile. "Easy, there! I won't break your hand tonight. Slytherin honour!"
Wood returned the stare defiantly, but shook Flint's hand. "You got off easy, Flint! Don't press your luck."
"I wouldn't dream of it." The smile returned as he caught sight of Katie quietly entering alongside Angelina and Alicia. "Don't you three look lovely tonight?" The Gryffindor chasers sneered in response. Marcus continued undeterred, "Especially you, Katie." That caught her attention and she stopped mid-step before turning around to face him. Flint's expression was as soft as Flint could manage. Katie blushed in response, and then rushed back to Alicia and Angelina. Flint's gaze fell momentarily on Warrington and Montague. They were watching Alicia and Angelina respectively. Flint looked like a man who'd just been given the opportunity of a lifetime. 'This will be the night fire and water come together to make sparks,' he mused.
Fred and George Weasley snuck in quickly, careful to avoid Flint's gaze. Their attention fell quickly on the Slytherin common room itself. They were clearly making notes about everything while furtively whispering between themselves.
"Watch it, Weasley!" Bletchley yelled across the room, having just spotted their actions.
"Which one of us," began Fred?
"Do you mean?" George finished.
Bole and Derrick hovered on either side of them, clearly trying to intimidate. "We're watching you two, so don't try anything!"
George turned to Bole, patted him on the shoulder as his brother did the same with Derrick. "Don't worry," their voices rang out in unison. "You're not my type, so no more than a peck on the cheek." Bole and Derrick never saw it coming and both failed to move away quickly enough to avoid the kisses that followed. They screamed and fled.
Off to one side, Draco sneered, "I bet you love this, Potter! Being in the Slytherin common room!"
"It's nothing new," Potter drawled with a knowing grin firmly in place. Draco looked at him questioningly, but fell silent.
The older students gravitated to the buffet table that had been set up. "What are those?" Angelina asked as she pointed to an odd-looking item on the table.
Instantly, Montague was at her side. "Don't you have these up in your tower?" He lifted one up and held it close to her face. "It's Bludger Pudding." He offered a bite to her.
"Do you take me for stupid?" She shook her head. "I'm not eating anything you offer me."
Montague rolled his eyes in exasperation. "I'll take you, Spinnet, but not for stupid." He took a bite himself. "It's not poison." She still looked skeptical. "Or spiked with anything," he added. Reluctantly, she took a bite of the Bludger Pudding Montague still held in her face. Almost immediately, her hand flew to her jaw as she grimaced a bit in pain. "Just watch out for the glazed pumpkin seeds. They move around inside it and they're a bit hard. You could chip a tooth if you're not careful." He grinned. "Thatt's why it's called Bludger Pudding!" He reached to massage her jaw. Oddly, Angelina found she didn't mind. Nor did she mind his arm around her shoulder leading her to one of the sofas.
"I'm not having any of those," commented Alicia in disgust as she watched her teammate begin to snuggle with Montague. She could not believe her eyes.
"How about a Quaffle Cake instead?" Warrington towered over her, but his tone was innocent enough.
"A what?" Alicia looked up at the large Slytherin. "I've never seen those before."
"You've never seen a cake before," he laughed as he picked one up. "It's chocolate cake with a bit of yellow marzipan in the center." He finished one off in two bites. "They're really good! Try one!" Hesitantly, she picked one up and took a bite. Warrington watched her every move, breathing a little more deeply as he did so. "What do you think?"
"Mm-mm," she mumbled as she finished the Quaffle Cake. A piece of chocolate cake remained on her lower lip. Warrington stared at it, utterly transfixed. "Is there something on my face?"
Warrington lowered his lips to hers and licked the chocolate off. "Not at all," he breathed, and then kissed her more deeply the second time. Alicia, clearly enjoying his attentions, wrapped her arms around him and returned the kiss.
Harry stared in shock, and then turned on the Slytherin Seeker. "What are you doing to my teammates, Malfoy?"
Draco popped another handful of what looked mixed nuts into his mouth. "I haven't done anything, Potter." He shrugged his shoulders. "I've been sitting here eating Snitch Mix all evening."
Harry drew closer to his nemesis. "Snitch Mix?"
"You Gryffindors really are deprived, aren't you?" He nudged the bowl closer to Potter. "Try some." Potter remained immobile. "Oh come off it, Potter! It's just mixed nuts, pretzels, raisins and dried fruits." A grin broke out across Draco's face. "You'll want to watch for the tiny gold nugget, though. You don't want to swallow the Snitch. I bet I find it first!" He popped another handful into his mouth.
"We'll see about that, Malfoy!" Harry grabbed a handful and chewed carefully. It did taste good, quite good really. A second, third and fourth handful quickly followed. Before long, the two third-year Seekers were sitting alongside each other, the large bowl of Snitch Mix between them, watching their older teammates.
Wood walked over to Flint. "You surprise me, Flint. No fire whisky? You're slipping." The two captains stared at each other for a moment.
"All you had to do was ask." Flint answered with what he considered his most sincere grin. He poured a glass for Wood, then himself. Flint downed his shot quickly and smoothly. Wood followed suit.
"That's not bad fire whisky." Wood eyed the bottle in Flint's hand.
Flint handed it to him. "Here, keep it! There's plenty more where that came from. Knock yourself out, Wood." Out of the corner of his eye, Flint spotted an amused Katie. He held a second bottle up and called to her. "Can I interest you in a drink, Bell?"
"Nothing that strong," she answered. Something seemed to be happening to everyone. The antipathy had dropped off sharply, though what little conversation remained was muted.
"A Butterbeer, then?" Flint asked.
"Just a Butterbeer?" Katie looked at him full of skepticism.
"Would I lead you down the garden path?" Flint eagerly awaited her response.
"Would you?" She smiled back; unaware she was blushing in response to his flirting.
"Only if you wanted to go," Flint quipped as he poured her a glass of Butterbeer. He poured himself a glass and drank. "Do you think it's something you'd be interested in?"
Katie began to draw closer to Flint. She was just about to kiss him when Wood called over to them. "Sorry to interrupt, Flint, but I notice that you haven't provided dates for everyone."
Flint's eyes never left Katie's face. "Who do you fancy, Wood? Maybe we could work something out?" Marcus reached a large hand and began to softly caress Katie's face. She closed her eyes and leaned into the caress, sighing softly as she did so.
Wood strode over and hit Flint's arm. "What are you playing at? Not one of the Gryffindors has acted normal since we arrived here."
"And you're saying the Slytherins have," Flint asked. He had one of Katie's hands in his own, holding it to his face and softly kissing her fingers. He tore his gaze away from Katie, though held onto her hand. He looked at Wood. "Take another drink, Wood, and try to relax. Let the magic work its way with you, too." Flint was speaking metaphorically, but unknowingly hit closer to the truth than he could have realised.
"I'm serious, Flint! What are you playing at here?"
"Do you fancy Deirdre?" Flint was now running his fingers through Katie's hair.
"Deirdre Weatherby?" Flint again tore his eyes away from Katie to look at Oliver. "You don't want to be here. That's obvious. I told her she was welcome to come, too, even though she doesn't play, but she obviously hasn't bothered to join us. She's sitting in her dorm room. If you fancy her, maybe you could join her?"
"That's funny, Flint! You know boys are not allowed in the girls' dorms."
Flint smirked. "Gryffindors really are noble."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Wood asked in a huff.
Flint sighed in exasperation. "There's no rule about girls being in the boys' dorms, is there?"
Wood stared silently at the Slytherin Captain before asking, "Why would I take her to my dorm room?"
Flint had turned his attentions back to Katie, but continued talking to Oliver while placing feathery kisses along Katie's face and neck. "Why indeed? It'd be so much more convenient to just use my dorm room!" He glanced at his nemesis. "Slytherins are so much more practical." Katie's hand reached to his face and pulled his attention back to her. With one arm still wrapped around Katie's waist, Flint reached behind the table again and pulled out another bottle of fire whisky. "Go call to her. Tell her you have unlimited fire whisky." Flint smirked. "She'll do anything. Trust me."
"Where is your dorm, Flint?"
"Deirdre can show you. She knows where it is." Flint and Katie walked away towards a darkened corner. Marcus sat first and motioned for Katie to sit in his lap. She willingly did so, wrapping her arms around his large shoulders. His arms closed around her waist. The two looked into each other's eyes wordlessly. Hesitantly, almost as if in slow motion, each began to lean toward the other. Katie closed her eyes first, just before their lips met. Marcus drew back ever so slightly, as if giving Katie an opportunity to refuse his advances. She sighed in contentment at his caresses. Marcus claimed her lips a second time, mere fractions of a second after the first hesitant touch. The two were lost in a world of their own.
The next morning, Katie opened her eyes and was startled to realise she did not know where she was at first. A gasp escaped her when she realised she was not only in the Slytherin common room, but was partially undressed and lying next to an equally disheveled Marcus Flint. Images of a party in the Slytherin common room filtered through to her mind. She glanced around the room. Empty. She looked back at the still sleeping Flint and a fierce anger overtook her. She roughly pushed him away, "How could you do this? How could you?"
Flint lazily opened one eye, then the other. "Are you always so pleasant first thing in the morning, Bell?"
"Where is everyone? Why am I still here? And where are the rest of my clothes?" Her voice was rattled. She was indignant. "You bewitched me, Flint! I know it! There's no other reason I'd have spent the night with you." She found her blouse and hurriedly put it on. She looked for her robes, found them kicked into a corner. "I can't believe this happened." She commented more to herself than Flint, whom she appeared to have forgotten for the moment.
"You don't need to leave so quickly," Flint spoke softly. He looked pensive, if not a bit dejected at Katie's actions.
She looked in his direction. "My wand? Where is my wand?"
He ignored her question. "You don't have to leave, Katie." He spoke her given name.
"Why would I stay? I'm not under any kind of spell anymore!" His reaction surprised her. Katie could not fathom why Flint was not being his usual gruff and rude self. He didn't strike her as a morning person and so she doubted the early hour had anything to do with his unlikely almost pleasant mood.
"Stay." He whispered. She stared at him open-mouthed. She had not expected that. His next word shocked her into continued silence. "Please." He stood to walk over to her. His gaze held pleading.
Katie did not know what to think. "What happened last night?"
Flint shook his head, but the thoughts remained muddled. "I don't know." He made eye contact with her. "I know only I'm glad you came and that I don't want you to go."
"But…we were bewitched last night. I'm sure of it." She turned her head away from him.
"We're not bewitched now." He hesitantly reached over to place his hand under her chin and turned her gaze back to him. "And I still want you here." She looked up at him. He pulled her closer, taking her into his arms, kissing her once more. Katie returned the kiss, hesitantly at first, but then with more emotion.
Finally, pulling apart, she asked, "Does this mean you won't hit Bludgers at me anymore on the Quidditch Pitch, Marcus?"
Marcus ran his hands along her side. "Not a chance, Katie." Both laughed.
"What's going on here?" A new voice startled them out of their reverie.
"Sod off, Malfoy!" Flint commented. "Or I'll let it out that you nodded off with your head on Potter's shoulder!" Malfoy glared at Flint for a few seconds, but then stormed off out of the common room with no comment. "Now, then, where were we?"
"I think…you were about to show me where your dorm room is?"
Her words both stunned and thrilled him. He leaned over to pick her up into his arms and carried her to his dorm room. Neither of them made it to breakfast that day, an absence that did not go unnoticed by the teachers at the Head Table.
"I told you it was a bad idea, Albus!" Professor Snape was visibly annoyed that several of the Slytherins had failed to show for breakfast. "What sort of example are we allowing them to set for the younger students?"
"Many students miss breakfast on the week-end, Severus. I doubt anyone is the wiser."
"Such a blatant disregard of school rules is unfathomable, Headmaster. You know as well as I what is going on in the Slytherin dorms."
"Your Slytherins are corrupting the morals of my Gryffindors," quipped McGonagall. Her words were belied by the grin on her face.
"Your Gryffindors are flaunting the fact that they clearly lack moral integrity." Snape responded in a very terse voice.
"And you both are missing the point!" Dumbledore's voice interrupted the verbal sparring match between the two Heads of House. Both Heads looked at the Headmaster. Dumbledore finished a piece of bacon, and then quietly sipped at his tea. He pretended to be startled that the two professors were staring at him. "A few days ago, these young wizards and witches were hexing each other with malice on their lips and a growing hate in their hearts. I thought, quite simply, that there was already enough hate in the world. We could do with a little love."
"And so you have them all unknowingly bewitched and then look the other way when they indulge in such…frivolities." Snape was incredulous.
"Oh no, not at all, they knew they were bewitched last evening. The paintings in the Slytherin common room confirmed that those exact words were uttered by at least two-thirds of the students present." Dumbledore sipped at his tea again. He appeared completely unconcerned by the turn of events. "And again, this morning, they were aware that they were no longer seeing the world with clouded eyes. And yet, they 'chose' to remain together for as long as they possibly could." Dumbledore stood, looked around as if not quite sure what he was searching for, but satisfied that nothing was there. "I'll be in my office should any of you have reason to speak with me." He took his leave. Snape and McGonagall glanced at each other.
"We'll never speak of this again," Snape asked?
"Speak about what?" McGonagall responded, a hint of a grin still on her face.