[Enter Chaos, Stage Everywhere]
Outside, delicate flakes of frozen water drifted to the ground like descending winter angels. The canvas of white covered the entirety of the Hogwarts grounds, and the lake was frozen over.
The crackling of the common room fire accompanied the silence without breaking it, its warm light flicking out across the floor and walls.
“Merry Christmas, Hobbes,” said Calvin quietly, leaning against his furry friend.
“Merry Christmas, Calvin,” responded the tiger. He glanced at the clock above the common room fireplace. “I know it’s Christmas morning and all, but this is early even for you.”
Calvin grinned. “I wanted time to open up my presents before going to prepare for the plan. You know, I used to think Christmas was all about the presents – but I’ve grown, and I’ve learned.”
Hobbes snorted. “Oh?”
Calvin flipped open the back of his trunk and leaned over, eyes sparkling. “Christmas is mostly about the presents.”
“What else is it about?”
“I haven’t figured that out yet. Anyways, you can’t go starting your Christmas day without opening your presents – it’s blasphemy! It’s like…” Calvin grabbed at the air, searching for good analogy.
“Like finishing your homework before watching tv?” Hobbes supplied, rolling his eyes.
“Exactly!” said the spiky-haired boy. He snapped his fingers. “It’s like playing a game of Calvinball that turns into regular baseball! Unnatural.”
“Like taking a bath without flooding the entire bathroom?” added Hobbes wryly.
“Like going through an entire school day without confusing and/or scarring Ron. It just can’t happen. So let’s open these quickly before we have to get ready for the plan.”
Hobbes nodded. “Oh yes, the plan! Sounds like it’ll be fun.”
“You bet. Hmm, should I open the bigger ones first, or the ones wrapped in fancy paper?” Calvin scooped out an armload of presents from the trunk and laid them out on the table, arranging them by size.
Hobbes studied the table surface. “Go with biggest first.”
“That’s what I was thinking. Oh, I almost forgot!” He dove into the back of the trunk and returned with a circular something covered in shiny red wrapping paper. He handed it to Hobbes with a slight bow. “For you, Sir Tiger.”
“Why thank you, Sir Calvin.” Hobbes took the present delicately in his paws, then stripped off the wrapping paper methodically from left to right. He gasped lightly, placing the back of a paw in front of his open mouth. “A plate! You shouldn’t have!”
Calvin shrugged, moving to take the plate. “Fine, then, I’ll just-”
“My plate!” hissed Hobbes, holding the dinnerware to his chest.
“Easy there, fluffernutter. It’s not just a regular plate, anyway. Every mealtime, it’ll fill up with fish – usually tuna, but with some variation.”
Hobbes gasped for real now, gazing at the plate in his hands with new eyes. He looked back up to Calvin. “This is without doubt the most spectaculistic present I have ever received.” He regarded the plate again before adding, “Provided it actually does what you said it does.”
Calvin smiled proudly. “You’re welcome. Now, onto my presents!” And suddenly he was no longer an eleven year old wizard, but instead a whirlwind of wrapping-paper-ripping, ribbon-snapping, tape-slitting, twine-tearing chaos. In seconds, no present was left covered, the ground strewn with the wreckage of their unveiling.
“Well that was…entertaining to watch,” commented Hobbes. “Correct me if I’m wrong-”
“Don’t worry, I will,” interjected Calvin.
“-but is there not a spell that could have done something similar, while leaving less of a mess?”
“Maybe, but what’s the fun in that?” Then he fell upon the presents, examining each one like a jeweler examining a new shipment of questionable gemstones.
From Dean, he’d gotten an adjustable microphone that required no setup and worked everywhere, even outside. From Harry, a book on dueling for beginners. From Ron, an entire bag of different kinds of magical bubblegum.
“Chewing Magazine’s got nothing on this,” Calvin exclaimed, reading the descriptions of the gums’ effects.
Hermione had gotten him a book on how to handle the most dangerous magical creatures in the world, working with only a small repertoire of basic spells. The twins had gotten him an assortment of pranking-oriented gadgets that he’d have to go through individually later. A curious brown cylinder with no apparent opening was accompanied by a card that said it was from Seamus, and that the cylinder was a puzzle whose prize would come in handy at some point. Lastly, Lee Jordan had given him a record of all the songs they’d made up together for the Ballyhoo Breakfast Radio show thus far – if he tapped it with his wand, the record would rise up into the air and begin spinning, playing the songs for his enjoyment.
“There’s something else down there,” said Hobbes, leaning over the still open trunk.
“What? But this is everything that was at the foot of my bed, I’m sure of it.” Calvin tapped the record, and it descended, the wizarding rendition of Living on a Prayer (Flying on a Broom) trailing off.
“Take a look for yourself.”
Calvin did; a square box wrapped in dark blue, star-speckled wrapping paper lay at the bottom of the trunk.
“Accio strange box that totally wasn’t there when I put my presents in the trunk ten minutes ago!” The box quickly rose up into Calvin’s hands. “Huh. Wasn’t sure it would work like that. Wow, this thing is heavy.”
A moment later the starry, starry wrapping paper was lying on the floor, and a polished wooden box sat on the couch next to Calvin. Its deep brown wood shown in the firelight, the gleaming silver clasp on the front dancing in the reflected flames. As Calvin pressed his finger against the clasp to release it, the wood on the top began to boil and churn, and a letter floated to the surface.
“This is weird, even for wizards,” said Hobbes.
Calvin nodded in agreement. He slit the opening of the letter and withdrew the emerald-inked message from within.
“Dear Calvin,” read Calvin. “Your parents left this in my possession. I believe it is time it was returned to you. Use it well, and in good health. A Really Very Merry Christmas to you.” There was no signature.
“It’s obviously from Dumbledore.” Calvin set the letter down and regarded the box. “What thing of my parents did he have, though?” He pressed the clasp again, and this time the box popped open with a click. Inside he found a small cardboard box, with a store-bought greeting card taped to the top.
The spiky-haired wizard stared at it for a few seconds. “It’s my parents’ Christmas present to me,” he deadpanned. He turned to Hobbes, blinking pointedly. “He took my parents’ Christmas present to me, repackaged it in a fancy, ornate wooden box, wrote a melodramatic letter about it, and hid it at the bottom of my trunk.”
The tiger mulled it over for a bit. “He’s bonkers,” Hobbes concluded. “But with an enviable eye for the dramatic. I approve.”
Calvin rolled his eyes and read his parents’ card. It was a bunch of mushy stuff about them missing him, and being so proud of how he had made friends, and how he was growing up. He skimmed half of it, then tossed it aside in favor of discovering the contents of the cardboard box.
After clearing away the requisite couple of tons of packing peanuts (how did they even fit them all in such a small box, and have room for the actual present besides?) he dumped the object out onto the couch.
“Its!…” He trailed off, unsure.
“What is it?” asked Hobbes, craning his neck over to look.
“I have less than no idea.”
“You can’t have less than no idea,” argued Hobbes.
“You can have less than zero,” Calvin pointed out.
“But there’s no universally agreed system to definitively quantify knowledge,” Hobbes countered.
Calvin paused in the act of opening his mouth to deliver a scalding comeback. “Say what?”
Hobbes plopped down onto the couch. “What? You’re in class all day – you expect me to do nothing but sleep while waiting? I read through all your schoolbooks.”
“I don’t recall my schoolbooks sounding anything like that.”
“Well, your schoolbooks didn’t last me longer than two weeks,” said Hobbes with a shrug. “So I read everyone else’s books as well – at least those that weren’t just copies of yours.”
Calvin furrowed his brow. “No one else has books like that either, unless…” Comprehension dawned on him.
Hobbes nodded at his expression. “I may have gone through Hermione’s books too.”
“Wait, you were in the girls’ dormitory?!”
“Get up get up get up get up get up!” Calvin bounded through the room, yanking covers from beds. “It’s SUPER SECRET PLAN time!”
“I will use you as a Beater’s bat during Quidditch practice,” Harry mumbled, sliding his head beneath his pillow as Calvin attempted to reflect sunlight into his eyes.
With a few more minutes of none-too-gentle prodding and bellowing, the rest of the boys, sans Neville were up, and for the most part, dressed.
“Now let’s gooooooo!”
“Wait,” said Harry, heading over to the pile of presents at the foot of his bed. “I actually got presents!” He looked around the room. “You guys are the best. Come on, let’s all open up our presents before we go set up.”
“You can do that after!” said Calvin, tugging on his arm. “Besides, what if one of your presents is wrapped with an infinite amount of wrapping paper? WE DON’T HAVE THE TIME!”
“I guess since we’ve waited a whole year, we can wait a bit longer,” said Dean with a shrug.
“Fine. We’ll do presents after the feast then?” asked Harry. Nods were given all around.
Calvin smiled and turned to Neville, the only boy still in his pyjamas. “When you come down, you’re going to need to dress warmer than that.”
“Why?” asked the round-faced boy, looking around the room. Everyone else was bundling up in winter coats, hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, boots, and thick socks. “Does the secret plan you’ve been talking about take place outside?”
“Oh, Neville,” said Dean amiably, laughing.
“Poor, naive Neville,” said Seamus, shaking his head.
“Outside,” laughed Calvin softly, shaking his head with a sad smiled.
Theo skipped down from the Ravenclaw tower, ready for some Christmas-morning breakfast. His mind was elsewhere – as is often the case with Ravenclaws – and so he didn’t notice anything was amiss until he found himself struggling to walk, dragging his legs forward against an unusual amount of resistance.
Then he realized that his legs were rather cold, and not a little bit wet. Then a snowball struck him smack in the face.
“I cannot believe you remembered!” shrieked Emily with glee, clutching her best friend’s arm as they headed down for breakfast.
The long-haired girl smiled. “Of course I remembered, it’s your birthstone!” She rubbed at her arms. “Is it just me, or is it getting really cold?”
“Is that ice?” exclaimed the third member of their group, a short, waifish girl with strawberry-blond hair.
“Look over there, just ahead!”
A perfectly crafted sphere of snow piffed by just in front of them, smashing itself to powder against the wall.
“Hey, who threw that?”
Another snowball hit Emily in the leg from behind. The three girls huddled closer together, peering around fearfully. “Who’s there!?”
The long-haired girl gave a yelp as a snowball impacted the back of her neck, and ice-cold slush dribbled down her shirt.
Two more impacts occurred within the next second. Then five more.
The Hufflepuff whistled as he walked to the Great Hall, noting the large piles of what seemed to be snow lining the halls. As he neared the Great Hall, the snow was present in greater and greater amounts, and he was soon forced to pull out his wand to melt it away, in order to move forward at all.
This was his third year at Hogwarts, and he’d witnessed quite a variety of strange things in his time as a student – but he’d never seen anything quite so marvelous as the view that greeted him upon entering the Great Hall.
Over a meter of snow blanketing the entire room. The tables completely buried beneath the wintry powder; still more fell from the bewitched ceiling, dusting the scene with a fresh coat of white. Students were constructing snow forts, snowmen, snow-woman, snow-wizards and snow-witches, snow-trolls, snow-sandwiches (that would be the Weasley twins’ younger brother, no doubt), and even snow-Dumbledores. A bit creepy, really.
He looked around at the myriad students and realized that there were a lot more people in the room than were even supposed to be at Hogwarts for the holidays. Word hadn’t traveled that fast, surely?
A snowball was launched his way and he ducked instinctively, letting it sail out of the doorway.
“Hey, watch it!” he yelled to the owner of the arm that had propelled said snowball.
Another ball of powdery ice crystals was thrown in his direction; he backhanded it into oblivion.
“You’ve brought this upon yourself, you know!” he called to the boy, cracking his neck as he simultaneously wrapped a scarf around it menacingly. Yes, he wrapped the scarf in a menacing manner. The way in which he covered up his neck with the scarf, by wrapping it around, just exuded menace. He rolled his shoulders and appraised the contents of the room. Tables, platters, foods. Some students were using the platters as surrogate sleds, sliding across the Great Hall at surprisingly high speeds.
A grin spread across his face, starting at the corner of his mouth and slowly gaining speed, like an epidemic making its way through a particularly susceptible population of weak, elderly people whose immune systems resembled nothing more than a sign saying ‘Keep off the grass. Please?’
He flicked his arm up into the air and snapped his fingers, setting off towards the nearest table. “Jenden!” he shouted, grin now in control of one-hundred-percent of his facial features. “My finest stallion, at once!” With an armful of platters and a smile so foreboding as to be capable of giving an entire herd of thestrals the heebie jeebies, Cedric Diggory laughed. Every student in a thirty-foot radius shivered, whether or not they had heard him. His voice rang through the Hall as he announced, “This morning, we shall fight a glorious fight! TO YOUR BATTLE STATIONS – HUZZAH!”
They stood in the entrance to the Great Hall, neck deep in shining, powdery snow. The torches burning in sconces along the hallway wall cast flickering patches of blinding light rebounding off the snow and into the eyes of innocent passersby. Snowflakes still fell from the ceiling, materialising as if from nothing under the imitation white sky.
Snowballs flew every which way, propelled by arm, catapult, and magic. War cries and calls for reinforcements filled the chilled, morning air. Bands of students struggled to gain control of enough ground to build a fort upon, while being bombarded with icy projectiles from every direction. Wintry chaos reigned supreme.
“Guess what the plan was,” said Calvin, vibrating with excitement.
Neville looked down, his chin dipping into the snow, then raised an eyebrow at the spiky-haired boy. “Really?”
Calvin nodded eagerly.
“Calvin, it’s not as if it isn’t obvious what-”
“Come on, come on, come on!” cried Calvin. “Just guessssss!”
The round-faced boy gave a sigh of resignation. “You filled the Great Hall with sn-”
“We filled the Great Hall with snow!” exclaimed Calvin, flinging his arms in the air and launching a cloud of crystalline snowflakes in Neville’s direction.
Neville shielded his face until the snow cloud settled. “I dunno, I kind of thought it would be something…more, I guess. You oversold it.”
Calvin snorted. “This was hard, Neville. The amount of work that went into this…” He nodded to himself and then glanced at Neville, shaking his head. “The best things in life don’t get handed to you on a silver platter.”
“It’s a great deal more than just the Great Hall that’s snowed over, mate,” said Seamus, sliding by crouched on a silver platter. “Here, have some cider!” He handed Calvin a flagon of warm cider before sledding off down the hallway, propelled from behind by Dean yelling “Depulso!” every few seconds.
“Sled race!” yelled Calvin, downing the cider and rushing into the Great Hall. Since the snow was almost taller than he was, only his hair was visible as he practically swam through it. A seemingly disembodied hand poked out of the snow to grab a platter off the table. The hand beckoned Neville over.
“I am not getting on that thing,” the boy told him determinately, crossing his arms. Well, he probably crossed his arms – the snow shifted, and his shoulders did that thing where it looked like he’d crossed his arms. It was hard to tell with the whole snow-up-to-his-neck thing. “Especially not with you doing the pushing.”
“Neville!” said Calving loudly, climbing onto the table and pointing straight at him. “This is the chance of a lifetime! Do you want to ride with the Ballyhoo Brigade and our kind, or do you want to sit with the Marshmallows at the table, scared of having fun! Well, except for that guy,” he added as a third-year Hufflepuff shot by. The boy had somehow fitted dozens of platters together to make a life-sized sleigh, and was hooting with maniacal laughter as he rocketed around the room at terrifying speeds, chucking unusually large spheres of snow at anyone who dared challenge him.
“That’s Cedric Diggory,” said Neville as he made his way over, shoulders slumped. “Gran says he got all the crazy daring of his entire house.” Then he mumbled, “Even a Hufflepuff’s more Gryffindor than me.”
“Cedric Hickory Dickory Dock, huh?” mused Calvin, stroking his chin. “Wonder if he’s on his house’s Quidditch team.”
“He is,” Neville answered glumly. “He’s the Seeker.”
Calvin perked up. “So Harry must have played against him, right? And he’s crazy daring? This could be good…I’ll have to talk to Orgeef and Gerd. Anyways, you’re not going to let a Marshmallow out-Gryffindor you, are you?” He waggled his eyebrows and nodded at the platter sitting at Neville’s eye level on top of the snow.
Neville sighed. “I guess not.”
“WOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHH!” yelled Neville, Calvin, Dean, Seamus, Harry, Ron, and an assortment of students from other years and houses. After sledding – or rather, silver-plattering – through every nearby hallway making snowdrifts, so that it was possible to slide around a corner by sliding up against the wall, everyone had come together in a winter conga line of silver-plattering, each person Depulso-ing the person in front of them. Of course, that meant there was someone in the back who was just working to propel the person before them and not plattering themselves, but that was far down the winter conga line, and thus not Calvin’s problem.
Suddenly, a hooded figure in yellow zipped by on Calvin’s left, weaving in front of him to then pass Neville.
“Don’t let him get to the front!” Calvin shouted, launching himself off his platter.
“Ouch!” said Neville as Calvin landed on him before quickly leaping to the next platter along the line.
“Ouch!” said Seamus as the same thing happened to him.
“Ow, stop it, Calvin!” said Dean as he was landed on.
“WE CAN’T LET A MARSHMALLOW BEAT US!” shouted Calvin, continuing his mad dash.
Dean raised his head, surprised. “That was a Hufflepuff?”
“A Puff passed us?” asked Seamus, aghast.
From further up the winter conga line came a cry of, “HEY PUFF, WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING!? GET BACK HERE!”
“That was Ron!” exclaimed Dean, leaning to the left as they rounded a corner. “That means the Puff’s almost at the front!”
“AUTOBOTS, ASSEMBLE: BALLYHOO STYLE!”
There was a moment or two of confusion as the Brigade members, plus Neville, found themselves in a different order than the one they’d trained in, due to Calvin’s jumping ahead. They quickly sorted themselves out, however, and a brief moment later came together into their ultimate silver-plattering formation…
“GIANT TOBOGGAN TIME!” yelled Calvin, standing up on the reflective surface of what was, indeed, a gigantic toboggan.
The rest of them cheered and pumped their fists in the air. “We ride!” shouted Dean, taking the reigns.
“After the Puff!” urged Ron enthusiastically.
“How in the world did we do this!?” screamed Neville, holding on with a white-knuckled grip for fear of being flung violently off and smeared across the nearest wall.
In their larger, more durable snow vehicle, the Brigadiers plowed through the silver-platterers ahead of them. Pun intended.
“Kinda sorry but it’s totally for the good of the people!” Calvin called out as a Slytherin flipped uncontrollably over their heads, shaking his fist and shouting ‘You’ll pay for this!’ before dropping into a couple feet of snow.
They slid beneath a stone archway and through a fluttering curtain. Upon coming out the other side, they were promptly bombarded by an absolutely, ridiculously, incomprehensibly, mind-bendingly, impossible amount of snowballs.
The unanimous cry of “GAHH!” accompanied the lot of them being almost completely thrown free of their transport. As they sped away, quickly using their gloved hands to shovel off the large piles of snow weighing down the toboggan, a cheery call sounded from behind them.
“Merry Christmas!” announced the twins from the two sides of the arch, smiling widely and waving goodbye as the toboggan careened around a corner.
“They will definitely pay for that somehow,” said Ron, shaking himself free of snow.
Harry scooped a wad of slush out of his mouth. “Brrrbblechhh. I did not see that coming.”
“I was sure they were at the end of the conga line,” said Calvin, emptying a snow-filled boot over the side.
“Speaking of which, how long is this line?”
Calvin grinned a dark grin and said dramatically, “There’s only one way to find out…”
“Um, I’m almost positive that’s not true,” interjected Neville, pulling his head out from under the crook of his arm.
The spiky-haired boy ignored him, stepping up onto the raised front of the toboggan. The wind pushed at his hair. On either side the walls sped by, gray blurs.
He glanced back at Dean, who had gotten into position right behind him. “Ready?”
Dean nodded, crouching low and angling his wand up at Calvin’s backside.
“Oh not this again,” Ron muttered. “There’s no way this is going to work.”
“They’ve been practicing a lot lately,” said Harry. “And the snow makes a good cushion just in case.”
“There’s definitely another way to find out, guys,” Neville said nervously.
“Depulso!” yelled Dean, and Calvin went soaring through the air.
At the top of his arc, Calvin twisted around and yelled, “Accio Dean!”
Dean went soaring through the air. Calvin landed on a platter four people away, then leaned in as the tall boy fell, pointing his wand backwards at Dean’s far side. “Depulso!” Dean popped back up and continued to fly forwards like a stone skipping across the lake.
“I don’t believe it,” whispered Ron back on the toboggan. “They’re doing i-”
“SHH!” Seamus slapped a hand over the redhead’s mouth. “You’ll jinx it!”
As he spoke, his eyes tracked Dean’s path through the air, far ahead of them. The boy was heading, not for any shining platter, but rather a pile of snow. He reached back and Summoned Calvin, who was pulled into the air after him.
Seamus let his hand fall. “See? Now you’ve done it.”
“Oh come on, you knew they weren’t going to last.”
Dean came down and disappeared beneath the snow, Calvin following a moment later. A second later two pairs of arms reached out from beneath the snow, and were grabbed as the toboggan sped by.
“Well, that didn’t go as planned,” laughed Dean, as he and Calvin clambered onto the toboggan.
“And we still don’t know how far ahead the Puff is,” Ron sulked. “We’re not moving fast enough.”
“Anyone know any spells to speed things up?” asked Harry.
Calvin crossed his arms. “If McGonagall let me use the momentum transferring spell, we could steal speed from the other platterers.”
“We could take a detour from the main hallways and try to cut him off,” suggested Ron.
Seamus snorted. “And have the castle rearrange on us or something? No thanks.”
The redhead poked Seamus in the chest. “Well if you’ve got a better idea I’d love to hear it.”
Seamus held up his hands and leaned away. “I’m just saying, I don’t want to-” He cut off and turned around.
A high-pitched whistling sound reached their ears, getting louder every second.
“What’s doing that?” asked Neville, eyes widening.
“It’s coming closer,” said Harry. He calmly got out his wand, setting his feet in a dueling stance.
The whistling vibrated all around them, though they could tell it was coming from behind. The toboggan sped smoothly over the snow as everyone stood to face the origin of the sound, wands gripped tightly in small fists.
Three blindingly sparkling forms rounded the corner into the hallway behind them, and the whistling grew louder.
“BALLYHOO HOO HOOOOOOOOO!” bellowed Fred, George, and Lee Jordan as they rocketed past the giant toboggan, their platters trailing streaks of golden sparkles.
“HOO HOO HOOOOOOOOO!” responded the first-year Brigadiers, fists punching the air.
“Of course!” exclaimed Calvin as the sparkling trio sped off. He smacked his forehead with an open hand. “The friction-reducing spell Fred used during the Hamster Shield Bowling Event!” Then he smacked Ron’s forehead for good measure.
“Hey!” protested the redhead, swatting Calvin’s hand away.
“Alright, hold on to your teddy-bears, boys, we’re upgrading!” Everyone scrambled for a handhold as Calvin pointed his wand down at the toboggan itself. “Citura!”
The toboggan was instantly coated with golden sparkles. Everyone except Seamus – who was holding onto the reins – was suddenly no longer standing on the toboggan, having been left behind by the speedy, sparkling, almost-frictionless vehicle.
As the toboggan and Seamus rounded the next corner, the rest of them looked on in stupidity.
“I should have thought about that first,” Calvin mused, climbing out.
“You think?” cried Ron. “Now we’re never going to catch up to the Marshmallow!”
Calvin smiled and held up a finger. “Not so fast, Ronald.”
The redhead looked up hopefully. “You thought of a better way to catch him?”
“No, you were just speaking too quickly.” Calvin tapped a finger against his chin. “Though now that you mention it, I did just remember something I’ve been wanting to try.”
“Will it help us catch the Puff?” asked Seamus.
“Will it help us forget about falling off the toboggan?” asked Harry.
“Will it be less terrifying?” asked Neville.
“Will it be awesome?” asked Dean.
Calvin rubbed his hands together and chuckled his evil chuckle, the sound starting deep in his throat. “All of the above.” The chuckling paused. “Well, except for maybe the first one. Not sure about that.” He shrugged. The chuckling resumed.
Six translucent Hamster Shields, outside surfaces outfitted with rigid white flippers for traversing the winter terrain, shot down the hallway. Inside each shield was a first-year Gryffindor, wand out and pointed downwards at an angle of about forty-five degrees. Also inside each shield was a coating of golden glitter, covering all available surface.
Calvin curled himself tighter into a ball and shouted again, “Depulso!” giving the Hamster Shield a renewed burst of speed. The shield spun faster than his eyes could track, but inside the practically frictionless cocoon, Calvin could not be dislodged. The walls of the shield slid against him, and he was pressed up against the side as it rounded a turn.
“This is actually – Depulso! – really cool!” shouted Nevilled from behind him.
Seamus whooped. “We’re like a pack of – Depulso! – giant hamsters!”
“I don’t think hamsters – Depulso! – travel in packs!” yelled Harry.
“Giant hamsters – Depulso! – do!” Dean yelled back.
They rolled along, revelling in the speed, in the absurdity. Unfortunately, after a while their magic began to tire, and they were forced to switch back to the toboggan. This time, they made sure to use the counter-charm on themselves and their shoes before glittering the toboggan.
“Sheesh, the line never ends!”
“Hey, you!” called Ron, shouting at a tall Ravenclaw girl using a long platter like a snowboard. She was several people ahead of them.
“Oh, it’s the Ballyhoo Brigade!” she called back. “This is AWESOME! What can I do for you guys?”
“Do you know how far this sled line goes?”
“Gimme a sec,” she answered, pulling out her wand. A flash of blue emanated from the end of the wand, and a ghostly figure about as tall as her hand flew off down the hall, quickly disappearing from sight.
It returned after a minuted, and was sucked back into the wand. The girl looked back at them and shrugged. “It doesn’t end!”
It was another hour before they caught sight of their quarry.
“There he is!”
Their ride knocked into an empty platter, and it was shoved away.
“Move aside!” roared Ron, bumping another and sending it tumbling into the wall. That one had been occupied.
“Ron, calm down, this is just a game-”
“IT’S NOT A GAME!” the redhead growled. “WE CAN’T BE OUTRACED BY A MARSHMALLOW!”
“You really need to calm down, mate,” said Seamus, who they had picked up a few minutes ago.
Ron ignored him, instead pulling out his wand and pointing to a hooded, yellow-clothed figure about eight people in front of them. “There’s the Puff! Criceta Arma!”
A marble-sized sphere of condensed yellow light shot out of the end of his wand and collided with the hooded figure’s back.
“Ron, no! You’ll ruin the integrity of the race!”
The hooded student was thrown off his platter, a translucent yellow bubble instantly ballooning into existence around him. He slowed to a stop as the Hamster Shield bore down into the snow. In quick succession, the eight platterers behind him collided with the mostly-buried yellow bubble and took to the air, flying almost to the end of the hallway before touching back down, just in time to speed along the wall and around the turn.
The Ballyhoo Brigade’s enormous toboggan drifted up beside the Hamster Shield-encased Hufflepuff, and they all hopped off.
“Finite Incantatem,” said Harry; the shield disappeared with a pop.
The angry Hufflepuff pushed himself to his feet, turning to face them. “That was unsporting and hurtful,” he said briskly, brushing snow from his robes. He flung back his hood and dumped out a clump of snow that had gotten in.
“We’re sorry about that,” Seamus apologized, giving Ron a nudge.
“Mmmyeahsorry,” mumbled Ron, staring at the packed snow underfoot.
“Not yet you are not, though by my efforts you shall be so before the minute is up,” said the Hufflepuff. It appeared he had been trying to dramatically withdraw his wand from his pocket in a dramatic, theatrically appropriate fashion, but was now fumbling with it and cursing under his breath.
“STOP RIGHT THERE, UNDERLING!” boomed a voice from behind. And up rode Cedric Diggory on a gleaming, shining, dazzling, awe-inspiring silver sleigh that inspired much awe and may even have invoked some slight vestiges of fear, in a less well-lit hallway and under different, scarier circumstances. “There will be no retaliatory magicking performed by a housemate of mine during a day such as this!” the Hufflepuff declared, leaping from his sleigh down to the snow-covered ground of the hallway.
“But Cedric, sir, one of them-” protested the smaller, hooded Hufflepuff, before Cedric stopped him with a mere tilt of his head.
“We will fight by the rules, or we will be fought by them, Smith! It is the way of the world,” he continued, nodding gravely. Then he whipped around and hauled himself back up onto his sleigh. “Hup! And I’m off!” The sleigh headed off around the next corner, a demented humming echoing in its wake.
Calvin lifted a finger as the yellow-clad Hufflepuff seemed about to pull out his wand anyway. “Now, now, Smith,” he gently admonished. “We wouldn’t want to go and disobey Mr. Hickory Dickory, would we?”
The boy glared at him, audibly grinding his teeth. Then he turned on his heel – or rather, gave it a valiant effort, instead simply losing his balance for a moment before straightening up again, this time facing away from them – and stalked after Cedric, throwing a last look of venom back at Calvin.
“This isn’t the last you’ve seen of me!” he yelled, pausing a moment. “This isn’t over, not by the longest shot ever taken in any situation, period. Your skullduggery acts of, of…” He licked his lips, staring at them. “…of skullduggeriness, shall be repaid in kind! Just you wait! For I, Zacharias Smith of the House of Smith and the Family of Smith and the Name of Smith and the Essence of Smith and the unfortunate future Occupation of Smith -” Here the Hufflepuff boy was forced to stop and gasp for breath awkwardly, holding a hand up to show he was not yet finished. He caught his breath – or at least got a passing handful – and continued. “- will not rest until you have suffered as I have! I will not rest!”
Then he continued around the corner, breathing heavily and sounding like he was trying his hardest not sound like he was.
Ron opened his mouth, a decidedly baffled look on his face, but Calvin interrupted him, screaming and waving his hands.
“Wait, don’t say anything! He just dramatically declared himself my rival – he just issued a challenge! Cut the scene, cut the scene!”
“You’re bonkers, mate.”
“CUT THE SCENE!”
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