Harry felt very groggy and lethargic. He struggled to open his eyes and saw what appeared to be two fireballs hovering over his head. He blinked. Fred and George's faces swam into view.
"What happened?" he croaked.
The twins grinned identically. "You passed out," they said together.
"You all passed out," George corrected.
"You were hit the hardest though," Fred noted.
"But Madame Pomfrey says you're the luckiest."
"What d'you mean?" said Harry, confused.
"The spell Snape used was supposed to make your worst nightmare come to life. A bit like the Boggart, but slightly different."
"Hermione could explain it, but she's still in shock."
"Yeah, she thinks she got expelled from Hogwarts."
"What about--" Harry began.
"Ron? Well, he--" started George.
"Keeps rambling on about Hermione transforming into a giant spider and then eating him, you know, like a black widow or something."
"Ginny's been strangely quiet. We don't know how it affected her."
"Dean keeps throwing hexes in his sleep. We think that he thinks that the Death Eaters are after his family or something."
"Seamus has been asking for his mummy."
"Parvati and Lavender are upset because they think the spell made them hideously ugly."
"And poor Neville thinks that Snape has fed him to a Venomous Tentacula."
Harry wracked his brains. He couldn't remember anything. "So what happened to me?"
The twins raised their eyebrows at exactly the same time. "Apparently, nothing."
"Isn't that odd?" said Fred, turning to his twin and pretending that Harry wasn't there.
"I heard the spell bounced off of Harry onto Snape."
"I think that's what happened, George, because Snape is in the hospital wing too."
"He's crying over his hair."
"He thinks it's greasy and limp and disgusting again."
"So why did it bounce off of Harry?"
"Why, it's because he's the Boy Who Lived! Snape must be nothing compared to You-Know-Who."
"Okay, okay," said Harry, holding his head in his hands. "Is everyone going to be alright?"
"Oh, they'll be just spiffy after Madame Pomfrey is through with them," said Fred brightly.
"Good," said Harry, relieved.
"Well, we've got to get going now," said Fred, clapping Harry on the shoulder. "See you when you get out of here."
"Bye," said George cheerfully, following his twin out the door.
After they were gone, Harry looked around the infirmary and saw his teammates in various states of mental distress. Making sure that Madame Pomfrey was in her office, he got out of bed and tiptoed over to Ron.
Ron was mumbling incoherently. Harry looked over and saw Hermione lying on the bed and staring blankly at the ceiling. He was about to go check on Neville when he heard an angry voice coming from behind him.
Harry turned around very slowly but saw no one. Then he noticed that the bed in the far corner had its curtains drawn. The angry voice seemed to be coming from there. He edged toward it.
"My hair!" the voice was sobbing dramatically. "My beautiful, gorgeous hair is gone!"
Harry jumped back as the curtains were suddenly yanked to the side. Before he could flee, he found himself facing an agitated Professor Snape.
"What do you want Potter?" said Snape miserably.
"Er," said Harry. "I wanted to let you know that your hair is still, um, clean and shiny, if that makes you feel better."
"I don't believe you," the Potions Master said sullenly.
"Potter, what are you doing out of bed?" came Madame Pomfrey's voice.
Harry turned to the nurse. "I'm perfectly fine," he tried to explain.
"That may be true, but unless you get more rest you will not be allowed to leave. And kindly do not distress Professor Snape," she said sternly.
"I was just telling him that his hair looks fine," Harry mumbled, looking down at his feet.
Madame Pomfrey didn't hear him and instead directed him towards his bed, forcing him to lie down again. Then she stalked back into her office.
"Professor," Harry whispered loudly, having no idea why he was inclining to have a conversation with his least favorite teacher.
"What, Potter?" snapped Snape.
"Did you hear what I said about your hair?"
There was a lengthy pause.
“Did you mean it?” the Potions Master finally asked, sounding a tiny bit hopeful.
“Er…yeah, I did. Your hair—it looks, uh, nice.”
There was another long, awkward pause.
At last Professor Snape said, “Thank you, Potter. I feel much better now.”
Harry gazed at the ceiling in wonderment. He never thought he would ever hear those two words of kind appreciation from the man he had hated since stepping foot into Hogwarts. And before the whole dueling competition came about, that feeling had been more than mutual.
“What brand of shampoo do you recommend?”
Harry pinched himself to make sure he wasn’t hallucinating. “Er, I dunno,” he said, bemused. “Whatever’s in the dispenser in the boys’ bathroom.”
“Hmm,” said Snape thoughtfully. “Do you know where I can find some conditioner and hair gel, perchance?”
"...No. Why don’t you ask Parvati or Lavender when they wake up? I think they could help you out in the, you know, hair and beauty department.”
"Fabulous idea, Potter. Send them to my office when they awake.”
Harry refrained from leaping up from his bed and shaking the Potions Master back to his senses. Undoubtedly, the clean-haired Snape was a lot nicer than the old Snape, but all the talk about hair care was beginning to scare him.
"What?” he said warily.
"I can’t find my silver hair comb.”
Harry sighed. “I’ll have Hermione conjure one for you.”
Merlin’s pants, thought Harry. The world was clearly coming to an end.
That night, Harry was finally let out of the Hospital Wing for dinner. Before he entered the Great Hall, a pale blonde boy stopped him.
"Malfoy?" said Harry, startled.
"Potter," said Draco. He was looking down at his feet.
"Er, did you want to say something?" said Harry.
"Actually, I wanted you to pass a message onto Her--Granger." He was still studying the floor, as though it was extremely fascinating.
"Sure…as long as it's not offensive."
Draco shook his head at his feet. "No, nothing like that. Just tell her that--" Here he lowered his voice to a whisper and Harry had to strain his ears to hear the rest. "My father found out about my bet with her and that I lost, and that now I have to go through with it like a man. So I am going to do whatever she wants me to for two entire weeks."
Harry did his best to hide his surprise. "Okay, I can tell her that."
Draco nodded to the floor. "Right. Thanks." He hurriedly strode into the Great Hall.
Harry paused for a second before dashing into the Great Hall, grabbing a slice of steak-and-kidney pie, and then ran back to the Hospital Wing to tell Hermione the news.
Harry was sprinting down the corridor so fast that he didn't notice that everyone had been released. He smacked into Ron, tread on Ginny's feet, and came to a stop in front of Hermione.
"You're all well, then?" he said, panting.
They all nodded, grinning.
"What's the matter with you?" said Hermione.
"Oh. Right. You'll never believe what just happened. Malfoy told me, in passing, that he is willing to go through with your bet and do whatever you want him to for the entire week."
Hermione's eyes opened wide. "Really?"
Harry nodded. Ron looked excited. "Wow, just think of all the things we can do to get back at him!"
Hermione gave him an exasperated look, and his smile faltered. "Honestly, Ron, I've had enough of revenge. Haven't you? After the duel with Professor Snape?"
"Speaking of Snape, how is he?" said Harry.
"He's still a little addled in the mind," whispered Parvati, as though Snape could hear them.
"We should get him a get-well basket filled with hair products," said Lavender enthusiastically.
"He would like that,” said Harry, nodding vigorously.
"Ooh, let’s go do that then!" squealed Parvati, and the two of them went off with Dean and Seamus trailing behind them.
"Ginny, how are you?" said Harry, giving her a hug.
"I'm okay," she said, burying her face into his shoulder. "That was a crazy duel."
"It was," Harry agreed. "We'll never see anything like it again."
The next morning at breakfast, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, Dean, Seamus, Parvati, and Lavender were all a little wary of entering the Great Hall. For one thing, Snape was probably back and eviler than ever. In the end it was Neville who pointed out that they had to leave the safety of the common room eventually, plus Ron's stomach was growling ferociously.
They went down to the Great Hall together. As they entered, whispers broke out among the Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs, and Slytherins. The Gryffindor table, however, broke into cheers.
Harry looked up the staff's table and saw that Snape was indeed back. He looked sullen and mean. However, his hair looked deeply conditioned.
"There's Professor Snape," said Hermione nervously. Parvati and Lavender were giggling.
"He's not cursing at us," said Ron, sounding surprised and relieved.
"I think he forgave us because of the hair products," said Parvati. They had reached their usual spots and sat down, across from Fred and George.
"Good morning," said Fred brightly.
"We have news for you," George announced.
"McGonagall's been in a right state," said Fred, getting right to it.
"What--" Harry started to ask.
"She can't believe we allowed this whole dueling competition thing get so out of hand."
"She almost had a heart attack."
"She scolded us for about an hour."
"And then when that dreadful hour was over--"
"She said there will be no more Saturday night duels."
"So You Think You Can Duel is over, then?" Dean clarified.
"Sadly, yes," said Fred, quite mournfully.
"Honestly, I'm glad," muttered Hermione.
"We announced the winner on Saturday night, while you lot were all out like lights."
"Gryffindor won, of course," said Fred proudly.
"There's a giant trophy hanging right above us," George informed them.
"It's so brilliant," sighed Fred.
"You mean it's shiny?" said Ron, tilting his head up and squinting at the golden trophy slowly revolving above their heads.
"Yes, and it shoots spitballs at the Slytherins every other minute."
Harry laughed for the first time since waking up. "Cool."
"Very," said Fred. "And so, we've been dying to ask you this question--"
"--And we finally can," cut in George.
"--So You Think You Can Duel?" they chorused together.
Harry looked around at all of his friends before answering with a statement that summed up the entire amazing, awarding, and dangerous experience.
"We know we can duel."
Oh my gosh, I have reached the end of my first novella-length story! I can't believe it. Okay, I'm going to sound like an Oscar recepient now. :P Thank you to everyone who has been reading this story. Even more thanks go to the reviewers. Thank you to the people at the Harry Potter Forums who helped me out when I got stuck. Thank you all! ^_^
I know there are some of you out there who have been wanting to read about Hermione's bet with Draco. Well, I am considering a spin-off based on that bet, in which Draco will do whatever Hermione wants him to for two weeks. How many of you would like to see a bonus chapter on that? Or would you rather see me write a short story? I don't know what to do, so I'm open to all suggestions. Also, would you hate it if I turned it into a Dramione? :P
Please review, one last time. :)
Yours till the Snorkack's horn crumples,
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