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"A Year in the Life of a Hogwarts Student" ~ Contest One Shots



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Old February 6th, 2014, 3:13 am
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"A Year in the Life of a Hogwarts Student" ~ Contest One Shots

This is a collection of my One-Shots from the "A Year in the Life of a Hogwarts Student" contest.

CHALLENGE 1: The Letter

Challenge 1 required contestants to write a story about their reaction on receiving the admission letter to Hogwarts.
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The Secret Spell

The letter arrived just as mum started the seventh song in her step routine.

“RIGHT-KICK-2-3-4!
LEFT-KICK-2-3-4!
Now LEFT-ELBOW - RIGHT KNEE - 3-4.
RIGHT-ELBOW - LEFT-KNEE - 3-4.
FIST-PUMP LEFT - 3-4.
FIST-PUMP RIGHT - 3-4.”


When the owl emerged from the chimney, it connected with her right pumped fist, sending feathers flying. The startled bird screeched, dropped the letter, and darted back up the chimney to escape the Mad Muggle!

When mum saw the emerald-green ink on the envelope, she collapsed in a heap on the floor. “It’s your letter,” she blubbered. “Your letter from Hogwarts.”

She was such a sight that I barely had the presence of mind to run over and rip the letter out of her hands before she smudged the ink with tears!

Mum knew our world. She’d mingled with the witches during promotional tours for the Quidditch World Cup and heard dad do interviews about the fabled Battle of Hogwarts. The Daily Prophet called him a war hero, but he never thought he did anything special (“just what was needed to defend the castle”). Still, he had been the one to cast the secret spell.

Dad was the youngest survivor - the 4th year who snuck back in with Professor Slughorn and hid behind the rubble. When he emerged at the start of Voldemort’s one-hour truce, Professor McGonnagall found eight befuddled Death Eaters lying prostrate beside his hiding place, unable even to remember their names. So she allowed him to remain. Not one of those Death Eaters has since recovered enough of his wits to stand trial, and they are all still rotting in the prison ward at St. Mungo’s.

Dad never told the Ministry what spell he used, and they never asked specifics. He called it “Just something Professor Snape taught me a couple weeks before Dumbledore died, during a detention for casting a JellyLegs on that Malfoy prat in the Common Room.”

That’s why he gets interviewed every year on the anniversary by The Daily Prophet and even got recruited to appear in the first “Battle of Hogwarts Heroes Tour” when he was 17. That was the one where the Wizarding Wireless brought the Castle Defenders together to retrace the steps of Harry Potter in the wilderness and interview them on how it felt to “Walk where Harry Walked on (roughly) the Days that Harry Walked There.” Dad said it was a load of rubbish. Just publicity for the Wireless. But that’s how he met my mum - on the Heroes Tour, on Boxing Day, in a village beside the Forest of Dean.

She was an innkeeper’s daughter. He was a Pureblood Wizard whose family hadn’t spoken with him since the Battle. She taught him about Muggles. He taught her about Wizards. And he’d prepared her for my letter since the day I made the television turn on from two rooms down the hall.

“She’ll get a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry when she’s eleven years old,” he’d declared nearly once every week since then. And then he would turn to quiz me on all the House colors and mottoes before adding proudly: “It’s addressed in emerald-green ink - like the colors of Slytherin House.”

He always found the ink color amusing since his own letter had been addressed in Slytherin-green by the Head of Gryffindor. Mine would be addressed by someone else.

He wasn’t much help, though, when I asked why mum got all teary-eyed over my letter. He’d floo’d in from Glastonbury during an outreach to “At-Risk Pureblood Youth in the West Country” after his Hogwarts contacts told him that my owl went out. Mum’s eyes were puffy when he walked out of the fireplace, and I was in the kitchen with my head down, asking why she couldn’t just be happy.

Dad thought it must be because of something the Muggles called “empty-nest syndrome” (he got that idea from her telly). But that explanation made no sense since my little sister and brother weren’t going anywhere!

Finally, I just asked her.

“Oh, love, I am happy for you!” she replied, getting weepy once again. “And proud,” she smiled through the tears. “And excited!

“I’ll go with you and dad to Diagon Alley for your school supplies,” she added with a kiss. “And to the Platform to catch the school train,” she brushed the hair out of my eyes with her fingertips. “And I’ll try very, very hard not to embarrass you again with any tears. But it’s just that you’re the first to go, and you’ll be gone such a very long time.”

Once mum’s eyes dried, the blonde woman from the Daily Prophet arrived at our doorstep, demanding to interview the “Halfblood girl about how exciting it must be to follow her father’s footsteps.”

No sooner did the reporter start asking if I already knew any secret spells than my dad yelled “Not my daughter, you lying witch!” and disarmed her Quick-Quotes Quill with one of his own secret spells. He was threatening to stomp any beetles found on the property when we heard the pop. Dad said she “just apparated back to whatever rock she crawled out from.”

Dad had sheltered the family from his notoriety since before I was born, but that part of my life was clearly done.

“I’m afraid Hogwarts will be hard on you,” he warned me that night. “People will try to get close to you and learn more about the secret spell. And they’ll ask why Professor Snape entrusted it to me. That’s something I don’t even know! Maybe he used Legilimency, to find out where my loyalties really lay. No matter, though. You’ll be under a lot pressure. Do you still want to go? We could send you to Beauxbatons.”

“Oh daddy!” I cried. “I’ve been waiting for Hogwarts forever! To live inside the castle and learn magic where you learned it! What’s a little pressure? And now I’ve got my letter! Please don’t take it away from me!”

Then I hesitated before continuing, “But there’s still one thing I’d like to know.”

“Yes?”

“Did Professor Snape give you the counter-curse?”

Dad twisted his mouth into a mischievous little grin. “Now, that, my dear, would be telling.”

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Last edited by ccollinsmith; February 6th, 2014 at 3:56 am.
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Old February 6th, 2014, 3:39 am
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Re: "A Year in the Life of a Hogwarts Student" ~ Contest One Shots

CHALLENGE 2: A TRIP TO DIAGON ALLEY

Challenge 2 offered contestants a choice. I selected the task that took me to Ollivander's for wand selection.
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This year, it’s me walking briskly toward the dingy shop on the south side of Diagon Alley. Okay, the dingiest shop. (Most of the shops down here have plaster peeling off cracked façades, showing the dark brown bricks beneath).

Mother and father alternate. That’s our family tradition. The latest letter getter goes off to spend Diagon day with just the one parent (minus entire brood tagging along), while the rest of us wait to hear Diagon tales at the end of the day.

“So did you go to Knockturn Alley and get a Hand of Glory at Borgin and Burkes?” I taunted the over-proper Ruari the year he and Aisling shopped with mother. He forgot all about not using magic in the home and chased me out past the hedgerow, sparks flying from his newly-paired wand.

Father steers me now towards the end of the alley. Wand shopping is up first because there are already plenty of hand-me-downs in the home for other first-year items. All we need now is a wand, a pet, and some potions supplies.

As we approach Ollivander’s, I tick off all the other shop names I’ve heard mentioned before on Diagon day - The Daily Prophet, and Whizz Hard (the Quidditch book company!), and I try to conceal the thrill I feel as we pass by Gambol and Japes.

“Do you think Ollivander’s sold wands to the Four Founders?” I ask, trying to re-focus my mind on our current task. (Can you believe some version of that shop has been on the same spot since really before there even was a London?)

“Probably,” my father guesses. “They’ve sold to almost everybody else in Britain for the past two thousand years.”

As we open the wandmaker's door, a group of boys lets off a cocktail of the latest fireworks concoctions outside the joke shop, but the sound just gets sucked out of the air the moment we move inside. Even the bell telling our arrival can barely find its voice.

In front of the stacks of wand boxes, a bald old man sits in a rickety chair, while a wobbly woman speaks in low tones to the proprietor.

“Doris Crockford!” my father’s voice cuts through the near-silent air.

“Hello Lorcan,” the wobbly woman half-whispers, lurching over to shake my father’s hand. “And which might this one be?” she asks, grasping my shoulder, as if to steady herself.

“Breccan,” says father. “He’s the fifth. So what brings you this far from the Leaky Cauldron, Doris?”

“She left her wand on a barstool” the bald man interjects, “and….”

“Say no more, Tom” my father interrupts with a wink, “Say no more”… and nods his head toward the impatient shopkeeper with the pale eyes.

15 endless minutes later, they’re out of the shop, and it’s my turn. It goes just like everyone else has always said it goes:

Tape measure (check!). Mindless chit-chat about every wand ever sold to my family through the past three generations (check!). Lackluster waves of Alder, Aspen, Hazel, Walnut, Larch, and Cedar wands (check, check, check, check, and check!!!!!).

“So I guess I must not be helpful, martial, considerate, emotional, intelligent, or brave,” I remark with a grin.

“Ah,” says Mr. Ollivander, in a voice creaky as a rotting plank. “You have read my treatise on wand woods, then?”

“Memorized it more like” declares my father. “Brecc is a bit on the studious side,” he adds almost apologetically. Between the eloping sisters and the unruly or brown-nosing brothers, the only thing father has ever noticed about me is that I am never without a book in hand.

“Well, the rejecting wands are not telling you that you possess none of their qualities,” Mr. Ollivander suggests. “They are simply telling you that there are perhaps other qualities more central to your character that require a different wand. Is there is any type of magic you would especially like to perform, Mr. Chandelore?”

“Oh, I’d like to command an army of Inferi!” I blurt out. (I’ve been reading up lately on He-Who-Must-Still-Not-Be-Named, and Inferi-talk is always a sure winner for winding up my sisters).

Father gasps. Mr. Ollivander’s face goes as pale as his ice-colored eyes, which now fix me with a blank stare.

“Breccan!” Father snarls in a low voice. “We do not speak about You-Know-Who in Mr. Ollivander’s presence! Do you know what was done to him during the war?”

I start mumbling apologies, as the color returns to Mr. Ollivander’s cheeks. Then, with a slightly wicked gleam in his eye, he croaks, “I think I may have just the wand for you, young man. Yes, just the wand.”

Mr. Ollivander turns on his heel, officiously rushes out into his workshop, and within moments brandishes an unvarnished wand that starts performing even before it reaches my hand. The wand barks. It growls. It bounces back and forth excitedly as I grasp it.

“It’s wagging for you,” Mr. Ollivander proclaims, the cracks disappearing from his voice. “Go on, then. Give it a wave… but I daresay we have reached the end of our inquiry,” he adds, looking quite pleased with himself.

Sparks fly - obviously - as I wave the wand. And then the wand relaxes in my hand, content.

“Yes, yes, yes. A perfect match, by the looks of it. This wand is…”

“Dogwood and Phoenix Feather,” I finish for him. “Noisy, clever, mischievous, and perhaps with the phoenix feather a bit… excitable. How long is it?”

Father gapes, as if noticing me for the first time. He has always thought me the quiet mild one.

“13 3/4 inches. Quite a long wand for a young Wizard,” the wandmaker beams. “But you will grow into it, I daresay. A most entertaining pairing, Mr. Chandelore. We must expect… curious things from you.”

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Last edited by ccollinsmith; February 6th, 2014 at 3:56 am.
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Old February 6th, 2014, 3:48 am
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Re: "A Year in the Life of a Hogwarts Student" ~ Contest One Shots

Challenge 4: The Sorting Ceremony

I skipped Challenge 3

In Challenge 4, contestants were required to do all of the following: "describe your sorting ceremony, your entrance into your common room and especially your thoughts about your house." Additionally, Slytherin entries were required to use the following set of words/phrases at some point in the story: Professor Snape OR Slughorn, Bloody Baron, underwater views, Merlin. Other houses had a different list.
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The first fortnight’s password was “Bloody Baron.” And once spoken, the concealed stone door slid open, allowing us our first entrance into the Common Room.

I would have said “our first view,” but the place was pitch black, and unnaturally silent. No green lamps illuminated the room. No fire gave off heat. No voices emitted a sound. And believe me, we tried to speak, but our voices died in our own ears.

Then at precisely the moment that we adjusted our eyes to the blackness, a ribbon of words appeared in the air, accompanied by a loud round of cheers:

“Welcome to the Dark Side!” the ribbon proclaimed. “We’ve got bickies!!!”

“Bickies?” asked Ellsworth (the American student who crowded in behind me). The moment he spoke, the lamps and fire combined to create a sudden burst of light, revealing the crowd of older students.

“Er, that’s what you’d call cookies, I think” a low voice answered.

The prefect had warned us on the long-way round to the dungeons that our House had a fondness for Dark-Magic humor. If we would pretend outside the walls of Slytherin House to be Dark-Wizard wannabes, armed with a library of curses, then the other Houses would just leave us alone. It was Slytherin’s oldest inside joke, one that Riddle and his ilk took a bit too seriously.

What the prefect didn’t tell us was that Slytherin’s ability to party outmatched even Gryffindor’s.

As the welcoming party ramped up, some 7th years placed a shielding charm around the edges of the room… not to mention around the group of 3rd years in the center, competing in a game called “The Longbottom.” According to the rules, each student would start the Cure for Boils and then attempt to create the biggest cauldron explosion possible.

A couple of 5th years gathered bets on which combinations of wrong ingredients, wrong heating levels, and wrong stirring directions would yield the best results. One student collected 17 Galleons when she predicted rightly that the winner would add Dried Billywig Stings and Boomslang Skin (after the Porcupine Quills), then turn the heat up high and stir six times counter-clockwise for a quite satisfying KERBLOOM! (Thankfully, one of the older students came from a family specializing in metal charming, so no cauldrons were permanently harmed in the playing of the game).

As the game broke up, I filled my cup with punch as a few 4th years practiced Levicorpus on the unsuspecting. That’s when a dry sardonic voice near the left wall asked if I was having fun. It was the Slytherin House portrait of Professor Snape - smiling widely, nodding his head in rhythm to the beat of the latest Weird Sisters hit, and sipping from a large umbrella-drink.

The entire effect was quite unsettling. I couldn’t help but wonder what he thought about the exploding cauldrons or the use of his signature spell. But now, as a “Famous Slytherins Collection” portrait hanging inside the walls of his own House (and having no serious responsibilities for the future of the Wizarding World), Snape seemed quite relaxed, almost loquacious.

He’d invented Levicorpus, he told me, for Slytherin parties such as these, but the spell had somehow got out to a group of Gryffindors who spread it across Hogwarts.

“That,” said the portrait, “is why what happens in Slytherin stays in Slytherin.”

An hour or two later, as the party wound down, the prefects herded us ickle firsties toward the thick and ornate Common Room windows, to give us our first good glimpse of the underwater views. As we watched, a choir of Merpeople began its annual Slytherin serenade while the King of the Merpeople gazed at length into each pair of new Slytherin eyes - a tradition having its roots in the early days of Hogwarts, when the Merpeople developed an uncommon bond with the young Slytherin student called Merlin.

So now that the party’s over, I’m staring at a piece of parchment, wondering how best to tell everyone that I’m writing to them from a four-poster decked in green hangings while looking out at the green weeds waving in the murky water of the lake.

All I can manage is Hello Mum and Dad and Sally and Emma, and then my mind goes blank while the owl just blinks at me. This is not the letter anyone expected me to be writing.

What do I say? Hey, you know all those riddles you taught me so I’d never get stuck in front of the entrance to the Common Room? Or Well, it doesn’t look like I’ll be needing that new blue and bronze cloak for the next family reunion!

I was supposed to land in Ravenclaw. And then the Sorting Hat landed on my head. I had a ready mind, it said, but also a thirst for greatness. I was clever and resourceful, a natural-born troubleshooter who could intuitively arrive at multiple solutions to complex problems and arrange opportunities toward successful outcomes. How, the Hat asked, did I think I would look in green and silver?

Well, despite the nasty rumors about Dark Magic and Pureblood snobbery, it sounded exciting - certainly more exciting than becoming the seventh generation to go uniformly into Ravenclaw. Slytherin was not a place for spending long hours studying the unknown properties of Flobberworm Mucus. There was rebuilding to do, a sense of purpose, a desire to reclaim the ancient legacy of Merlin and wipe away the corruption of Riddle. Naturally, I thought “Yes!”

And now, after my first night in Slytherin, I know the Sorting Hat was right. Here, I can learn to achieve greatness… and enjoy the party. The question is: How do I tell my parents?

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Last edited by ccollinsmith; February 6th, 2014 at 3:54 am.
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Old February 6th, 2014, 3:54 am
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Re: "A Year in the Life of a Hogwarts Student" ~ Contest One Shots

CHALLENGE 5: HALLOWEEN

Challenge 5 offered contestants a choice. I chose the following task: "Write a scary Halloween themed story. It has to involve one of these characters: Peeves / Filch / Hankerton Humble (caretaker during the Founders) / Bloody Baron / Tom Riddle. Or you can use several characters mentioned here."
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“SCELETO ANIMA!” cried a commanding high-pitched voice.

A rib cage shot up through the pliant earth.

Then a thigh bone.

Then an arm bone.

Moments later, the whole graveyard rumbled, expelling calcified parts sufficient to assemble a small army of walking dead. Then the earth above each grave fell inward with a muffled thud.

Little Gavin Zimple watched in surprising equanimity as the skeleton army clicked and clacked itself together. His companion - the tall, black-haired Head Boy - observed his own handiwork with self-congratulatory exultation, smiling at the ease with which the entire experiment had been realised.

Tom Riddle had spent seven months in putting it together - inventing the animating spell, learning to command the resulting army, selecting a test subject, and using the Imperius Curse to bend the boy’s will to his own. Now, there was only one thing left… to release Zimple from the spell.

He waited patiently as the skeletons shuffled swiftly and rhythmically toward the boy, their clickety clack growing ever louder, more alarming.

His own timing, he knew, must be perfect. Bringing the skeletons in too close would circumvent pursuit. Leaving them too far removed would give the boy a false hope.

He waved his wand in a long flat motion, and his army extended skeletal arms. When the bony fingertips of the leader reached within two feet of the boy, Riddle released Gavin Zimple from the Imperius Curse.

At the sight of the pursuing dead, the boy felt the blood course through his body, causing his face to flush and his heart rate to elevate. He twisted himself away from the outstretched arms and scrambled across the broken sod strewn with decaying leaves.

The uneven ground grew treacherous, as Zimple zigged and zagged around tilted and broken headstones, his blonde hair flying while the yellow-and-black tie trailed behind him. Yet the skeletons marched inexorably forward, heedless of the obstacles that the boy sought to avoid.

Determined to outlast them, Zimple quashed his rising panic and aimed his steps toward the large marble monument on the high ground, hoping to climb its pinnacle and escape his skeletal pursuers. But in his haste, he missed a step and found himself lying face-down on top of a half-open grave - his mouth filled with dirt, a piercing pain where his elbow smacked the marble, and the skeletons closing in on top of him.

Riddle watched from the side of the graveyard, noting the unexpected briskness of his army, pleased to find that no obstruction thwarted it from its objective. He noted also the terror that the skeletons’ proximity inspired in the boy. Yet Gavin Zimple fought his fate, spitting out the dirt and using his remaining good arm to seize one of his attackers’ thigh bones. As three skeletons closed calcified fingers on the boy’s body, Zimple nevertheless continued in his fruitless attempt to dislodge the thigh bone from its socket and use it as a weapon to stave off the attack.

Then a high cackle sounded, and Peeves himself floated backwards into the scene.

“Go away, Peeves!” Riddle yelled. “I’ll set the Bloody Baron on you if you don’t!”

Paying little heed to the Head Boy (or the unusual use to which he had put the Room of Requirement), the poltergeist began humming tunelessly a Muggle song that had become ubiquitous of late on the Wizarding Wireless…

“Oh the backbone’s connected to the shoulder bone.
The shoulder bone’s connected to the neck bone.
The neck bone’s connected to the head bone.
“And now Peeves has GOT YOUR CONK!”


With that final sentence, the poltergeist swooped in to the ring of skeletons encircling the boy, pulling the head bone off the foremost and heaving it in to the ring as if the skeletons were bowling pins.

Head bones, neck bones, shoulder bones, backbones, thigh bones, leg bones, ankle bones, and foot bones scattered and shattered as Riddle’s invincible army of walking dead lay in ruins.

Tom Riddle let out a savage shriek of rage.

“You’ll regret that Peeves!” he cried. “I swear you will!”

The poltergeist could not contain his amusement.

“Little Tommy Riddle fields an army that’s too brittle?” Peeves called out in his most sing-songy voice, then floated back out of the Room of Requirement, humming…

“Dem bones dem bones dem dry bones
Dem bones dem bones dem dry bones.”


Livid as he was, Riddle knew Peeves had a point. If a lone poltergeist could bring down his entire army with one well-aimed throw, then he needed to consider options more substantial than dry and brittle bones taken from a graveyard conjured out of nothing.

He considered those options as he obliviated Zimple and then added a Confundus Charm for good measure. The boy would remember only getting lost near the Troll Ballet tapestry on the 7th floor before being retrieved by the kindly Head Boy (who even mended Gavin's inexplicably broken elbow before walking him back to where he belonged).

As the scent of tomorrow’s pudding wafted through the kitchens near the boy’s Common Room, Tom Riddle determined that next time, he would animate flesh on top of bone.

Next time, he would command an army of Inferi.

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Old February 6th, 2014, 4:07 am
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Re: "A Year in the Life of a Hogwarts Student" ~ Contest One Shots

CHALLENGE 6: HISTORY OF MAGIC

Challenge 6 allowed contestants to write an essay for Prof. Binns' History of Magic class, defending the inclusion of a famous witch or wizard on the Chocolate Frog Card. Happily, I was allowed to write about my first choice, Beatrix Bloxom, whose Chocolate Frog Card can be found on Pottermore.
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In Defense of the Inclusion of Beatrix Bloxam on the Chocolate Frog Card:
A History of Magic Essay written for Professor Cuthbert Binns, Deceased

Every student of Wizarding History knows the official story. “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart” so traumatized the young Beatrix Bloxam that she later determined to remove all unsavoury elements from Beedle's Tales and rewrite the stories for children. Her stated goal was to “[fill] the pure minds of our little angels with healthy, happy thoughts.” The end result reached a somewhat different goal: Bloxam's treacly-sweet Toadstool Tales induced vomiting, and the book was subsequently banned.

Those unintended consequences, and the less-known magical innovations deriving from them, indisputably earned Beatrix Bloxam her place on a Chocolate Frog Card.

In a rare Daily Prophet interview, Mr. George Weasley (Co-Founder of Weasley Wizard Wheezes) recounts the following story from his youth:
My brother Fred and me… when we were at Hogwarts… the year that old cow Umbridge was Headmistress… we came up with this idea for the Skiving Snackboxes.

Most of our Housemates thought it brilliant. But you want to know where the idea came from? From a story our Aunt Muriel told us when we were kids!

It was at this Family Reunion. And Muriel - who was mostly just an old gossip but who did have her uses sometimes - told us that a couple of 7th Years during her era at Hogwarts nicked a copy of The Toadstool Tales from the Library's Restricted Section and were charging 2 Galleons in the Gryffindor Common Room just for a peak!

Well, the book did in fact induce vomiting, just as advertised. And that gave the 7th Years their next great idea. They started charging 5 Galleons for a hand-copied excerpt that students could take with them to classes. Whoever read the excerpt before (or during) class would - sure enough - puke up a storm and end up in the Hospital Wing. It was the first known attempt at finding a “magical” solution to the problem of how to skive off classes. Ours was the second.

Fred and I never forgot Aunt Muriel’s story. You could say that it marked the birth of the Skiving Snackboxes… the Puking Pastille, in particular.[1]
Extensive research in the Hogwarts Detention Records reveals that the Bloxam Skive-Off did pose hazards. First, the Bloxam excerpt could easily be found and confiscated. Secondly, there was the obvious problem of how to copy the excerpt without puking... or getting caught. Copying Bloxam required a team of five copyists, each taking no more than two consecutive words at a time, lest vomiting occur. Clearly, such a large team of copyists could easily be found out.

Worse still, any Bloxam passage involved would invariably induce vomiting in the staff member or prefect who found it - resulting in some pretty severe detention penalties for the offending student(s). Let’s just say that Bloxam Skiving detentions kept the Argus Filches of the world quite satisfied for a time.[2]

Bloxam Skiving, though, did ultimately have an unexpected pay-off during the 1st Wizarding War. While still a young member of the Hogwarts staff, Albus Dumbledore encountered more than one instance of Bloxam Skiving, and more than once wound up in the Hospital Wing himself. Later, Dumbledore's memories of the experience inspired his most controversial military strategy for the original Order of the Phoenix: "Operation Toadstools."

At one meeting of the Order, Dumbledore unexpectedly announced that he had figured out how to weaponize Beatrix Bloxam (codename: “Toadstools”) and that the Order could use Toadstools' noxious properties in pitched battles at close quarters with the Death Eaters.

When questioned about the logistics involved (such as, how Order members could deliver Toadstools without retching), Dumbledore revealed that he had created a counterspell precisely for Order members. Later, when constant spell-casting proved too cumbersome, Dumbledore had his recently acquired double agent, Severus Snape, invent a long-acting Toadstools antidote for Order members to drink before battle (or, in my case, before researching Bloxam!).[3] Dumbledore sacrificed that recipe at the start of the 2nd Wizarding War to get Snape back into Voldemort’s good graces.

Dumbledore's process of weaponizing Bloxam involved 1) enchanting a quill to copy enough Toadstool Tales excerpts to distribute among Order members, and 2) inventing a spell to create a disembodied vocalisation of the words contained in the excerpts. Order members needed only to carry the parchment and cast Dumbledore's spell.

The tales of puking Death Eaters are legendary. So, too, are the tales of puking passersby… and even Muggles.

And this point brings us to the more sinister side of Beatrix Bloxam’s work.

In her Azkaban sentencing hearing, Dolores Umbridge begged for clemency, claiming that she became permanently confunded as a young girl after glancing at a copy of The Toadstool Tales hidden in her maiden auntie’s cellar. A small amount of applied Legilimency, however, revealed that Umbridge did not merely glance at the copy. She curled up with it before bed each night and declaimed passages to her wall kittens… all without ever once retching.[4] The Wizengamot, quite rightly, put her away for life.

So does Beatrix Bloxam belong on the Chocolate Frog Card? Obviously! Without Bloxam, there might be no Skiving Snackboxes! Without Bloxam, the Order of the Phoenix might never have won so many battles against Death Eaters without even having to duel! Without Bloxam, Dolores Umbridge might still be at large!

Any person, at least among the living, who cares to dispute Beatrix Bloxam's power need only attempt this passage from her rewrite of "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot" without first taking the Toadstools antidote:
Then the little golden pot danced with delight - hoppitty hoppitty hop! - on its tiny rosy toes! Wee Willykins had cured all the dollies of their poorly tum-tums, and the little pot was so happy it filled up with sweeties for Wee Willykins and the dollies!
I rest my case.

---------------------

Notes:

[1] “George Weasley (Finally!) Wheezes - A Daily Prophet Exclusive with the Co-Founder of Weasley Wizard Wheezes”
[2]Hogwarts Detention Records, 1901-1918. Located in the Hogwarts Caretaker’s Office.
[3]Minutes of the Order of the Phoenix, 30 June 1977.
[4]Minutes of the Wizengamot, 15 May 1998.

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  #6  
Old February 6th, 2014, 4:17 am
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Re: "A Year in the Life of a Hogwarts Student" ~ Contest One Shots

CHALLENGE 9: DETENTION

I skipped Challenges 7 and 8

Challenge 9 placed contestants in detention. I served my detention with Prof. Sprout.
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Rumor had it that Professor Slughorn’s detentions meant cleaning portraits of old Slug Club members while eating platefuls of biscuits and listening to him boast about connections to Wizards both famous and powerful. Yet here I was, hands deep in the moist compost, sporting hot pink earmuffs. How could I have calculated my options so poorly?

I’d had it all worked out. A Potions infraction should, theoretically, involve detention with the Potions Master, correct? So when I holed up in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom to do some unauthorized brewing, I assumed that (on the off-chance I got caught) I would simply serve out my detention sitting in a nice plush office, being regaled with entertaining stories from the last Voldy War.

I failed, however, to calculate that at Hogwarts, detentions could just as easily be served with whichever staff member most wanted to get her hands on me. I had no idea why that would be Professor Sprout.

Okay, so I had pilfered a dried Mandrake and a handful of Chopped Devil’s Snare from the greenhouse, but it’s not like I actually mishandled the plants. I just wanted to see what would happen if I brewed them together with some Lethe River Water and Dried Valerian Sprigs. I didn’t actually expect the lavatory to explode when I poured out the cauldron’s contents after they emitted a smell of spoiled cabbage and turned a flourescent green.

But Myrtle’s piercing lament got Peeves singing my name through every corridor in the castle, and so I lost all hope of stopping the rushing water before it attracted staff attention.

Soon after, I found myself up the circular staircase, hearing the Headmistress herself call my actions “irresponsible,” “dangerous,” and “foolhardy.” I expected her to toss me out of Hogwarts after that, but she suggested instead that I give her some time to consider an appropriate punishment. And so, nine nervous weeks after the infraction, I received a note to report to Filch.

“She’s giving you to Sprout,” he grumbled. “But I’m the one who had to clean up after your mess, and there’s a lot of work I could put you to.”

The closer we walked towards the greenhouse, though, the more Filch’s expression brightened with malice.

“Feeding you to one of those carnivorous plants of hers, though, will serve you better than anything I had in mind,” he said, nearly under his breath.

I gulped. Carnivorous plants? I was just a first-year. We weren't supposed to handle those!

I soon learned that (Filch’s wishes aside) Professor Sprout had no intention of feeding me to anything. She planned to teach me how to work with Mandrakes and Devil’s Snare… in hopes of giving me a proper respect for the dangerous plants I’d haphazardly tossed into my cauldron.

We devoted the first hour to the famous second-year lesson: properly repotting a Mandrake. And that’s how I found my hands deep in compost and my head ensconced in pink.

My mind, though, was on the Devil’s Snare. I’d read about it, of course, in Harry Potter and the Second Voldemort War: An Eyewitness History, and I figured I’d better have a plan just in case one of those plants wrapped its tendrils around me. I’d already learned to heat my cauldron with bluebell flames, so I just needed to run the spell over and over in my mind in case I needed to use it under more urgent conditions.

When Professor Sprout finally had me remove my earmuffs, I was somewhere near my 700th repetition of the spell. That’s when she had me go over - and over - and over - the protocols for handling Devil’s Snare: I should hold it at arm’s length, not letting its tendrils anywhere near my throat or vitals, and I should keep my wand at-the-ready in case I needed to cast a flame-creating spell.

Finally, she led me to the corner of the greenhouse, where she said I would find some small Devil’s Snare plants. I should move them - one at a time - to a small clearing at the other end of the greenhouse.

I looked at the plants. I looked at Sprout. I looked at the plants again… and deduced that the rumors were true. The dumpy white-haired witch had gone a bit dotty in her old age!

These plants weren’t Devil’s Snare! They were Flitterbloom! I played along with the Devil’s Snare protocols, though, and moved a few of the plants as she checked my work on the Mandrakes. Then I got my next brilliant idea.

In some old movie I saw once on my Muggle cousin’s telly, this heavily-accented actor grabbed the tentacles of a giant rubber octopus and wrapped them around himself to create the impression he was being crushed.

What if I could elicit Sprout’s sympathies by deploying a similar tactic with her Flitterblooms? If she was mad enough to think her plants were Devil’s Snare, perhaps she’d be just mad enough to think those tendrils were wrapping themselves around me!

“Help!” I gasped a moment later, pushing the Flitterbloom into my face. “It’s got me! Come quickly! If you don’t, I’ll die!”

Professor Sprout turned towards me with a quizzical look on her face, and let out a guffaw.

“It’s a Flitterbloom!” she said, between laughs. “You didn’t think I’d let you handle a real Devil’s Snare at your age, did you?”

I lowered the plant.

“You knew it wasn’t dangerous, didn’t you?” she said matter-of-factly.

“Yes,” I replied, the red rising to my cheeks.

“I suppose you were hoping to unnerve me enough to shorten your detention.”

I lowered my eyes, grasping the gravity of my situation, and prepared myself to beg her not to let me be expelled.

“I used to use the Flitterbloom joke against my own dorm mates, you know,” she said, a broad smile crossing her face. “They never looked closely. Thought I was in real danger. I can’t tell you how many times I teased bluebell flames out of them! Yet you can already tell the difference on sight.”

She gave me a sly half-grin, pulled off her apron, made me promise next time to ask when I had need of one of her plants... and then for the next hour patiently fielded at least a hundred questions as she fed me biscuits in her office and told me the real stories behind her unconventional uses of Devil’s Snare, Tentacula, and other dangerous plants in the last Voldy War.
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  #7  
Old February 6th, 2014, 4:26 am
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Re: "A Year in the Life of a Hogwarts Student" ~ Contest One Shots

CHALLENGE 10: DADA Class

Challenge 10 had contestants create a Defense Against the Dark Arts Obstacle Course, as Prof. Lupin did at the end of Harry's 3rd Year. The requirements for this challenge were to: "pick your DADA teacher, use at least four different spells, show off your knowledge of creatures, [and make the challenges] be on a first year student level."
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From the Hogwarts Journal of Gilderoy Lockhart, 1992-1993

November 2, 1992
No point in standing on fame when it’s possible to help out, I always say. That egalitarian attitude has now won me the admiration of even the Headmaster!

After observing my readiness to assist in examining the groundskeeper’s cat, Professor Dumbledore has tasked me with building an obstacle course to test First Year students’ practical skills in Defense Against the Dark Arts. It is the first such obstacle course at Hogwarts, and Dumbledore has chosen me! I feel so honored.

I do suppose, though, that the owls must have been banging at the Headmaster's windows for the past couple of days. He delivered his message to me through Professor Snape.

December 2, 1992
Professor Snape inquired again today about the progress of the First Year obstacle course. I have only begun to consider which creatures to include. It’s not exactly easy, I told him, to keep up with the high volume of fan mail the owls bring each day.

Snape gave me a tight-lipped smile and observed that Dumbledore has great faith in his staff’s ability to juggle multiple responsibilities.

I suppose that if I had Snape's teeth, I would keep my smile tight too. But when I offered him a friendly tip about the densalba tooth-whitening spell that I discovered in a remote Near Eastern village during my Voyages with Vampires days, his tight-lipped smile progressed into a sneer. You’d think the man would show some gratitude. It’s not every day that the most frequent winner of the Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile Award offers such hush-hush tooth-whitening advice without charging so much as a single Galleon!

December 15, 1992
Dumbledore’s errand boy approached me YET AGAIN! This time, he wanted a detailed timeline for completion of the obstacle course. We shall meet in five days. In the meantime, he informed me that the Headmaster has asked him to assist me in my presentation before the Dueling Club.

December 20, 1992
“I’m known for handling Hags, not Horklumps!” I said to Snape when he suggested that the final challenge of my proposed obstacle course would not fulfill Dumbledore’s requirements. All I had suggested was that we import a Yeti and have the students watch as I cast a Fire-making Spell to neutralize it.

Snape suggested two problems with this scenario:
  1. Importing a Yeti would be an extravagant investment of time and money - and involve a considerable amount of paperwork at the Ministry’s Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
  2. Watching me cast an Incendio spell would do nothing to test the students’ abilities.

The Board of Governors, Snape told me, would never sign off on such a plan.

“Not even if I donated the money from my book earnings?” I asked.

“No.”

“How about a banshee, then? Or a werewolf?”

“The purpose of the obstacle course, Professor,” said Snape with a chill in his voice, “is to test First Year students on First Year Defense skills.”

Perhaps it might be best if I held off for a time on suggesting that a CoifGlo Hairnet could give his stringy black hair more body and sheen.

January 14, 1993
There is no need to import a Yeti after all. The gamekeeper has informed me that a herd of Centaurs resides next door in the Forbidden Forest. The Headmaster could not possibly object to our obstacle course taking a detour into the forest terrain. I can already see my face smiling down from a tall display case in Flourish and Blotts:

Sashays with Centaurs, by Gilderoy Lockhart

The spelling may not quite work, but the alliteration should make my editor happy.

February 14, 1993
I have still not spoken directly to Dumbledore about this project. Snape, though, nixed the Centaurs. And after that, the Unicorns. I've spent the past month scouring Scamanger for beasts rated X and XX that possess at least some personality. Judging by Snape’s comments, these seem the only beasts appropriate for First Year students.

Here is my list from Scamanger:

Augurey (too shy)
Bowtruckle
Chizpurfle
Clabbert (too many Ministry restrictions)
Diricawl
Fairy
Flobberworm (does it even move?)
Ghoul
Gnome
Horklump
Imp
Jobberknoll (more along Snape’s line than mine)
Mooncalf (too shy and only comes out at night)
Plimpy (makes a good soup at least)
Porlock (I think not!)
Puffskein (most students grow up with one of these in the home. I know I did)
Ramora (too hard to get and too much a protected species)

With options like these, how do they expect me to make this obstacle course work? I suppose, though, that I’ll have to leave that question for later. The more pressing matter at the moment is to charm the Great Hall pink.

March 19, 1993
“I could infest the vegetable garden with Horklumps,” I suggested. “The Garden Gnomes would come running, and there is plenty of useful de-gnoming information in my bestselling Guide to Household Pests. Then, I could have the students proceed into Greenhouse Three, where they would don earmuffs to drown out the Mandrake screams when I tear the little blighters up by the roots.

Snape sat stone-faced.

“Professor,” he said, “neither de-gnoming nor Mandrake protection is part of the Defense Against the Dark Arts curriculum. Professor Sprout quite capably has both those matters in hand.”

May 29, 1993
The obstacle course, I learned earlier this week, will proceed despite Dumbledore’s departure from the school. The only difference is that now Professor McGonnagall is also inquiring into its progress.

I will propose the following plan tonight, when I meet with the Headmistress and her sullen lackey:

LOCATION: I intend to use the Quidditch Pitch.
  • The Pitch is nowhere near the Whomping Willow, so there is no danger of students getting pulverized. (McGonnagall’s key concern)
  • The grass on the Pitch has plenty of space, so we can create Stations to house different magical creatures.
  • A ghoul, it so happens, lives in one of the locker rooms! This makes the Quidditch Pitch a perfect location for our First Year obstacle course.

MAP: Here is a map I have drawn of the different stations, challenges, and spells, followed by a more detailed description of the obstacle course:


STARTING POSITION will be just ahead of the goalposts on the left-hand side of the Quidditch Pitch. Students will be instructed to send up Red Sparks if they get into trouble at any one of the stations.

STATION 1: Staff will create a small wooded area on the grass next to the Starting Position and fill it with fairies. Fairies are not dangerous but their quarrelsome disposition could frighten young students. Recommended Spell: Smokescreen Spell (Fumos) to confuse the Fairies and allow students to pass unhindered.

STATION 2: Staff will create a small marshy area on the grass and fill it with imps. Imps can prove troublesome - tripping and pushing those who pass by. Recommended Spell: Knockback Jinx (Flipendo). Students should send up Green Sparks once they have cleared this Station.

STATION 3: The obstacle course will use the ghoul’s locker room. At this station, students should unlock the locker room (Alohomora), light up the room (Lumos), and give the Ghoul a runny nose (Mucus Ad Nauseum). Even though there’s nothing dangerous about a ghoul, ghouls do react the way humans react to most spells, so this station would give students good practice in using the Curse of Bogies on a creature that cannot curse them back. I should enter the room after each student has exited to deliver the counter-curse that will end the runny-nosed ghoul’s misery.

ENDING POSITION will be just behind the goalposts on the right-hand side of the Quidditch Pitch.

I do think that this latest plan will satisfy even Professor Snape, particularly since I have addressed his concerns about the Flobberworm Levitation station by replacing the flobberworms with the small forest of fairies.

A few hours later...

Now that's odd.

Professor McGonnagall has just amplified her voice and called all teachers to the staffroom. Could it be that one of the house elves has tipped her off to my newest plan for the obstacle course? Perhaps she wishes to share my triumph with the entire staff! Should I meet with them in my lavender ensemble or my periwinkle blue?

For Merlin's sake, I do hope my hair is in order!
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