A/N: This is a total experiment...I just wrote this on a whim, although I have an idea that could turn out amazing...if I took my time. Read on!
EDIT (1/27/08): my editing project is coming along well...this is the third of a LOT of chapters whose spacing issues I'm fixing.
“GRYFFINDOR!” roared the table in red and gold.
“SLYTHERIN!” bellowed the opposing table from across the hall.
And the two proceeded to shower each other with any food that was in easy reach, which coincidentally most often was mashed potatoes and gravy. Dinner had become a battle, and not for the first time that week.
Albus Dumbledore observed them quietly from the Staff Table, shaking his head in disappointment. In all his years at Hogwarts, rarely had he seen a generation with a House rivalry as strong as it was now. It did not take much provocation for them to start up.
Today, for example, dinner had been generously calm…until a fatefully well-aimed grape had soared across the Hall to strike Hermione Granger in the nose. Squealing in indignation, she of course jumped up at once to see who had thrown the grape. But the source of the disruption became quite obvious as, across the room, Draco Malfoy’s cronies erupted in laughter. Hermione had blushed scarlet and mumbled profanities to herself as she made to sit back down.
Harry, who already hadn’t been having the best of days today, was eager to find an outlet for his temper. And here was an opportunity ripe for the picking. “Hey, Malfoy!” he shouted, leaping up from his own seat.
“Aw, sit back down, Potter,” Draco drawled, waving a hand carelessly. “We were just playing around. Granger doesn’t take it personally. Mind your own business, eh?”
Harry glared back at him. “This is my business.”
Draco rolled his eyes patronizingly. “Potter, you just think you’re all that, don’t you? Just like the rest of you lot.”
The Great Hall fell silent. Malfoy had just brought all of Gryffindor House into this, and everyone knew it. Harry’s eyes were blazing. “I know what I am, Malfoy,” he said dangerously, his voice escalating to a shout. It rang clearly through the room. “I’m a Gryffindor!”
In the silent Hall his shout would have echoed off of the walls. But it was drowned out in a roar of other voices as the entire Gryffindor table screamed, “Gryffindor! Gryffindor!”
Silence fell. Had the Gryffindors won? Across the room, the Slytherins glanced at each other and grinned. Not so easily. Nobody ever won against a Slytherin easily.
“Potter, we all know what unfortunate House you’re in,” Draco said coolly, smirking. The resounding calls of the Gryffindors did not prevent the entire Hall from hearing his cutting remarks. “The fact that you are in it certainly does your House no benefit.”
The Slytherins laughed coldly, and chorused “Slytherin! Slytherin!” in obvious mockery of the Gryffindors.
Harry had had enough. It was time to shut Malfoy up once and for all, he thought. It would be House against House, and Gryffindor pride could settle for nothing less than victory. He looked up and down his table at the people seated there. What should he do?
A sudden burst of inspiration came to him, in the form of a Quidditch rally cheer. Harry cleared his throat, and brought up the confidence he used on the pitch. “Which House is bravery?” he hollered.
His House fell into rhythm seamlessly. “Gryffindor! Gryffindor!”
Harry made the leap from the floor onto his bench, where he stood, towering above everyone and glaring at Malfoy. “And which House is chivalry?” he demanded.
Harry gestured to Hermione, who stood up to join him. She knew the cheer as well as he. “And which House is honor?” she shrieked.
“But which House is influence?” Draco Malfoy’s cold voice cut sarcastically through the cheers.
His mates caught on. “Slytherin! Slytherin!”
“And which House is power?”
“Which House holds the blood of a first Hogwarts founder?” Malfoy roared viciously above the crowd, silencing almost all in the room.
Blaise Zambini leapt to his feet, eager for the approval of Slytherin’s heir. “Which House is the ambition of the genuine and pure?” he called.
“Which House leads its followers, destined for greatness?” Malfoy answered proudly.
Crabbe and Goyle chimed in, “And which House holds—um, the…er…”
They trailed off, and Harry laughed loudly. Once again he demanded of his table. “Which House holds the favor of the earnest and the strong?”
“Which House fights for righteousness and accepts the blood of all?” Hermione shouted.
“Which House is wizardry?”
“Which House is reality?”
And which House will win this next bloody food fight, Harry thought as he stooped down, grabbed the nearest bowl of mashed potatoes, and hurled its contents at the silver and green table.
Albus Dumbledore sighed as the carefully prepared meal came flying past his face. Certainly a food fight every once in a while added a bit of well-needed excitement to dinner, but this was just too much. Something had to be done.
He could freeze the food right in its place, of course. He could even freeze all of the students in the entire Hall. But what good would that do? If they couldn’t throw food, they would find something else to throw. And he would rather not give them that option.
No, he thought. It would have to affect them from inside their ranks, past their established intolerance of each other. Then, it would be permanent.
Dumbledore scoured the students in question with his eyes. His gaze landed on the Slytherin king, Draco. He was slinging gravy with malice at Ginny Weasley, who had just landed a sloppy handful of creamed corn down his robes. It was true that Draco would be the hardest of all, but he had all of the others at his beck and call. After him, it would almost be too easy.
At the Gryffindor table, Dumbledore saw students that would be nearly as difficult as Draco. Harry was the apparent leader there, but Dumbledore feared that Harry and Draco could never learn to get along. There was too much history there: wrongs done since birth, and wrongs done even before that. It was not Malfoy versus Potter anymore. It was the embodiment of Gryffindor morals versus the embodiment of Slytherin’s.
What about Ronald Weasley? He was Harry’s best mate, second-in-command. He held sway over the Gryffindor crowd.
But just the mention of the name Weasley, Dumbledore thought, brought to mind a host of other faces. Molly and Arthur, Charlie and Bill, Percy and Fred and George and Ginny. All Gryffindors, and all blood-traitors in the eyes of the pureblood community. What would this family think of Ronald, if he were to be the Gryffindor to finally ally himself with the Slytherin king?
No…it was too much to ask, for Ronald to give up his family’s pride.
Dumbledore felt that Draco would yield more willingly to one of his own year, instead of one older or younger than him. In his year in Gryffindor, there were best friends Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan. But if one were to befriend Draco, what would the other one say? Their friendship would most certainly not survive.
Lastly in that year, there was…Neville Longbottom. Immediately Dumbledore cast him aside. He was not even an option for this particular experiment. The poor boy’s got a fear of the Dark Lord that’s been forced to the surface by what happened to his parents, Dumbledore thought.
None of the boys would do…but the girls?
Dumbledore scanned Gryffindor table once more. His gaze landed on Hermione Granger almost at once.
She was sitting quietly, almost dejectedly, next to Ron; she threw nothing, but was protected from most of the flying food by Harry, who was standing on the table in front of her. It seemed now that the Gryffindor rally cheer was over, all her House spirit had gone from her. She gazed resignedly at the scene in front of her, her eyes wandering about until they finally settled on a blond head at the Slytherin table.
Dumbledore smiled a crooked grin. Despite knowing the consequences, the fact was that he just simply liked to meddle. He thought it was fun, and for the better, anyway.
This would take creativity. This would take finesse. But in the end, it would all pay off, because it would be something the students of Hogwarts would talk about for ages. They wouldn’t know what hit them.
“Ugh, this is gross,” Hermione complained to Lavender Brown through the door of their bathroom in the girl’s dormitory. “I have corn and potatoes stuck in my hair!” she shrieked above the roar of the shower.
“Yeah, well I have corn and potatoes stuck in my hair, too, so hurry up in there!” Lavender replied crankily. The high of the food fight had died down, and all that was left in the Gryffindors was the lingering feeling of animosity, sour like a bad aftertaste. It was what always inevitably happened after a House war.
“All right, all right, I’m out,” Hermione grumbled, wrapping her clean hair in a towel and her body in another. “The drain’s probably all blocked up though.”
Lavender raced into the bathroom the moment Hermione set foot into the dormitory. The door slammed shut behind her. Hermione shrugged, feeling grouchy and dirty still as well. Changing into her pajamas, she looked around the room at the other girls.
“Great dinner, huh?” Parvati Patil commented, sitting contentedly on the floor and grinning. She was too soiled with food to sit on her bed.
“I can’t believe you’re in a good mood. You’re absolutely covered in filth. Aren’t you going to take a shower?” Hermione climbed into her own bed.
“Of course,” the girl replied, “but it’s not even like nine o’clock. Why go to bed so early?”
Hermione shrugged. “I’m doing homework.” And so she was. With books and rolls of parchment stacked around her on the bed, she worked for an hour or so before she gave up trying to concentrate. Stupid food fights at dinner ruin my peace, she thought irritably. Why can’t everyone just leave each other alone already? I’m sick of this ridiculous House pride.
The lights in the dormitory were still on, but Hermione turned away and hid her face partially in her pillow. She was soon fast asleep.
Across the castle and below six floors, the Slytherin boys were far from getting ready for bed.
“And which House is the…er—um—duhhhh,” Blaise slurred playfully while Crabbe and Goyle protested at being made fun of.
“Come on, you idiots, keep thinking,” Theo Nott protested, sitting on his bed with a serious expression and a piece of parchment. “We have to own them next time. We have to blow them out of this bloody world.” He paused, frustrated at his friends’ unresponsiveness. “For god’s sake, you lot are Slytherins! You can’t think of anything better than, ‘Which House is the shield of the green and silver snake’?”
Draco, lounging lazily on his own bed, snorted. “We didn’t think of that, Nott. You did.”
“Well then, it’s high time you thought of something,” Nott snapped bravely at the Slytherin king. “We’ve got to be prepared when they start something again.” He could not risk the remark that it had been the Slytherins that had started it tonight, once again.
“Oh, grow a spine. Where’s your sense of adventure?” Draco drawled. “They’re not going to try the same thing twice, dimwit. You have to be creative. They’re not going to give you time to prepare your insults, Nott.”
Nott snapped his mouth shut. Draco’s dad wielded more power and authority in the Dark Lord’s inner circle than his dad. Therefore, Draco also had more in Slytherin House than he did.
Draco rolled his eyes at the lumbering Crabbe and Goyle, trying to corner the impishly grinning Blaise, who was too quick for them. He leapt from bed to bed, changing course too abruptly for the other two boys, who stumbled over books, trunks, and lamps. There was more than one thing broken in the dormitory by this time.
“Watching you all scampering about wears me out,” Draco commented, yawning and stretching. His shirt slid up to reveal an intriguing stretch of pale white stomach, but of course none of the boys were interested. “It’s like watching two gorillas and a squirrel go at each other at the zoo.”
The three boys froze in place at the remark and settled down almost immediately. Even Blaise, who was one of Draco’s closest friends, did not say anything.
“I’m tired too,” Nott broke the silence. He looked around uneasily before heading into the bathroom to brush his teeth. Draco slid off of his bed and did the same.
When he returned to the dormitory, the remaining boys were in their boxers and undershirts already, claiming and feigning tiredness. Draco shook his head, smiling slightly. He was too smart to take his power for granted, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy it.
A/N: If enough people are interested in this story, I'll write more soon, i promise. Right now my priority's finishing my Sirius story and starting a Marauders one. Please read and review!