Chapter 1 : The Amazing Bouncing Ferret
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This one-shot is my entry into JRose16’s “Things I Am Not Allowed to Do at Hogwarts Challenge”. Entrants are charged with writing a story inspired by one of the items on this infamous list, which was originally compiled by atlantapendrag at LiveJournal and discovered by the challenge creator on Demonic_angel’s page at kupika.
I was given “Teaching first years to chorus in unison ‘the amazing bouncing ferret’ whenever they hear the name ‘Draco Malfoy’ is just wrong, funny, but wrong.”
With that very humorous image in mind, please enjoy Malfoy’s Worst Memory!
Yesterday was the worst day of Draco Malfoy’s life.
As he laid in his silver and green four poster bed, staring up at a minuscule rip in the curtain above him, one thought filled his mind uncomfortably: I’m not used to having bad days. It was true. Under normal circumstances, life was fairly easy for someone with his surname. Get out of bed, eat breakfast, go to class, that sort of thing. But his privileges went beyond these routine events, which were familiar to any common student at Hogwarts. He also had the power to order his lessers in Slytherin house around, which served the dual purpose of amusing him and getting his more mundane errands done rather quickly. In addition, he had obtained a position on the house quidditch team without a great deal of effort. He wore robes of the finest Egyptian cotton, washed and dried one piece at a time by his family’s house elves, who ensured that the black dye looked as vibrant as it had the day they were tailored to his height and weight and purchased by his doting mother. His schoolbooks were immaculate, mostly because he hardly ever opened them but also due to the fact that Mr. Blotts specifically set aside the first new copies of the year for the young Malfoy at the elder Malfoy’s stern request. His eagle owl, Lancelot, had been imported directly from a breeder in Helsinki; the bird was a very expensive birthday present.
It was good to be Draco Malfoy. That is, of course, until sodding Moody came on the scene.
Out of all of the idiotic things for which Albus Dumbledore was responsible, hiring Alastor Moody was surely the worst. The man was a time bomb, in Draco’s opinion, always peering around with that ludicrous glass eye as if he were about to leap out and attack a potential foe at any moment. If it were only in Defense Against the Dark Arts class, that would be painful enough to endure, but Mad-Eye haunted Draco and the other students during the rest of the day as well. He could hear the man’s false leg stomping about upstairs as he attempted to concentrate in Potions class. Moody also made a habit of staring at him uncomfortably during meals.
But yesterday had brought with it Moody’s worst sin yet.
Insulting Potter was as common as brushing his teeth. All of the other teachers and students knew that, and though all of the professors except Snape sided with the golden boy, no one made an active effort to stop Draco unless things got physical. In fact, Potter seemed to be the only one who didn’t go along with Draco’s taunting. Thus, Draco found it only sensible to blame Potter’s bad mood for the events that followed the round of teasing that had occurred in the courtyard.
Potter was ignorant of many things. You just don’t insult Lucius Malfoy, not in front of his son.
The jinx had barely escaped Draco’s lips when he felt the world growing rapidly smaller, his vision sharpening to a fine point. His view was reduced to a tiny field right in front of his nose, which stretched outward before him, coming to a pink peak. He felt his body growing thinner, and he felt impossibly tall for a split second before he toppled over onto his hands and knees. No… not knees. To his horror, he saw that his fingers had transformed into crude little paws.
Whatever had happened, Potter found it incredibly humorous. So did the other onlookers. The only person wearing a frown was Professor McGonagall, who approached Moody rapidly with her aged hands on her hips. Draco didn’t get the satisfaction of hearing her censure, however, as he was too busy being twirled and flipped around in the air at the mercy of Moody’s infernal wand. He was running back down to the common room almost before he hit the ground, Crabbe and Goyle chasing dutifully after him with verbal assurances that the fur was indeed receding.
Fur. Draco shuddered thinking about it even now, despite the knowledge that his fully human body was safe in bed where it belonged. He couldn’t count the number of times he had checked and double-checked the hair on his arms and legs throughout the night, filling hours he might have spent sleeping with desperate, obsessive second glances to ensure that the fur was no more. He was surprised he hadn’t suffered any nightmares. Still, what sleep he managed was fitful.
He sighed, looking over at the clock on the wall. He wasn’t hungry now, but he would be later.
Don’t be a coward. It’s not like anyone will remember Moody’s fucking kids’ show anyway.
With that, he grabbed a clean pair of pants, resigning himself to another day.
Draco flinched at the sound of his name being called out so loudly, but his shoulders relaxed when he realized it was only Vincent Crabbe, one of his two most faithful followers. The other half of the pair, Gregory Goyle, was sitting at the Slytherin table next to Blaise Zabini and waving stupidly at Draco to come and join them for breakfast.
“We didn’t know if you were gonna show,” Crabbe said, passing Draco the pitcher of pumpkin juice. Blaise sniggered slightly from his place beside Goyle, earning him a glare from Draco.
“Well, I thought I’d do you lot a favor and let you have first pick this morning. Now I see that was a mistake, though. You lumps have hardly left anything for me,” he growled. A pathetic retort, but he was too busy watching out for Moody to think of anything more clever to say.
Constant vigilance! He hated that fucking tosser.
All of a sudden, his thoughts were interrupted by the voice of one Seamus Finnigan.
“…so Moody transfigured him into a ferret, right there in front of everybody! I damn near died laughing, probably would have if McGonagall hadn’t shown up a couple of minutes later…”
Across from Seamus at the Gryffindor table, Dean Thomas chuckled as he moved over a space to make room for Neville Longbottom, who had just shown up for breakfast. “What’s so funny?” Longbottom asked, setting his bag down and smirking briefly at Thomas’s expression.
“Seamus was just telling us about how Moody turned Malfoy into a ferret yesterday,” Dean replied, chuckling anew.
“Oi!” Draco cried a bit too loudly, causing those around him to pause momentarily in their morning conversations. “Draco Malfoy is right here, you arse!”
“Ooh, that’s him!” Draco’s attention now turned to a small first-year brunette, who was sitting a few feet away from the boys at the Gryffindor table. The other girls around her nodded in unison, and they all spoke at once. “The amazing bouncing ferret.” Draco stared at them, taken aback.
The people who had fallen silent now erupted with laughter. Draco glanced over at Blaise, who was racing the pumpkin juice that spurted from his chuckling lips with a napkin. He wasn’t quite quick enough, however, and a good deal of it dripped down onto his otherwise clean robes.
“Serves you right,” Draco grumbled, and then he stormed out of the Great Hall without eating.
If breakfast was Draco’s entry into this hellish day, Moody’s class would surely be the ninth circle.
Look on the bright side, Draco said to himself. It can’t get any worse than this, and the class has to end sometime. In fact, right afterwards he had Potions, and Snape seemed to adore him. Whatever smiles Potter displayed this period would surely be wiped from his face in the next one.
Then again, Draco’s last bit of advice for himself hadn’t panned out so well, had it?
He avoided Moody’s mischievous gaze as he settled himself into his seat, pretending to be very interested in the assigned reading he hadn’t actually completed for this period. Moody had begun the class with a bang, demonstrating Unforgivable Curses on helpless insects for the traumatized crowd of Gryffindor and Slytherin fourth years, but now he had settled into a more age-appropriate course for the remainder of the year. He glanced at the chapter before him now, wishing unexpectedly that he had paid more attention when the werewolf was teaching the class, as he dimly recalled Lupin giving a rather dreary lecture on Inferi toward the end of the year.
“Simmer down!” Moody commanded, and Draco felt his stomach turn as he watched the man’s grotesque false eye glare accusingly at a couple of stragglers who had just taken their seats. “Now, I’ve been told that your last teacher gave you a briefing on the Inferius, at least as far as how they are created and the details of their behavior.” He paused for effect, and the smile playing at the corners of his sagging lips revealed that he was about to raise his voice once more. “But that’s not enough!” he cried, causing the students in the first couple of rows to jump slightly. By this point in the year, Draco and all the others had taken to keeping on the edge of their seats, ready for Moody’s inevitable changes in volume. The old codger probably saw it as a sign that the students were interested in his every word, an idea that made Draco’s blood boil.
“This is Defense Against the Dark Arts, meaning that you should be able to protect yourself against the creatures we speak of in this class.” Moody’s voice had settled slightly, but his eye rolled about in its glass socket as he glanced around the room, seeking out his first victim of the day. The shadowy blue iris paused as it passed over Potter, who was clearly Moody’s favorite, but it continued on, skipping Granger and her maniacally waving hand. Draco stared down at his textbook, wondering how much time remained before he was freed. Fifty minutes? Forty-five?
He jumped a few inches off his seat, and next to him, Goyle quickly smothered an approaching snigger.
“You’ve read the chapter, haven’t you? I said, which type of spell is most effective in this case?”
“I—I—” Draco stammered, looking for an answer somewhere around the classroom, but his attention was diverted by the appearance of a first-year boy with dirty blond hair. The boy stood just outside the classroom, peering nervously through the open doorway with a friend looking on.
“Malfoy?” he said quietly. “The amazing bouncing ferret?” they both added simultaneously.
“Oi!” Draco shouted, standing up. “You take it back, you—”
“DETENTION!” Moody roared. “One for not reading the assigned chapter, and another for whatever you were about to say there, boy!” He calmed suddenly, and a disgustingly proud smirk lit up his ugly features. “You know, I’d think you’d have learned your lesson yesterday.”
Draco sank into his seat, trying to ignore the laughter that echoed all around him. He had to learn to control his temper, or else he suspected he’d be seeing much more of Moody than he liked.
Draco grimaced, trying to convince himself to push on and pretend he hadn’t heard his name. But the voice speaking it belonged to the one person he had a shred of respect for at this school.
“Yes, Professor Snape?” he said, turning around at last. His head of house approached him now in the corridor, apparently oblivious to the fact that Draco had been trying to get down into the safety of the common room and his bed before more first-years had an opportunity to torment him. Snape’s black robes billowed about him ominously as he came to a halt in front of the boy.
“I trust you’ve recovered from yesterday’s incident?” Snape asked, quirking a brow.
“Yes,” Draco said, trying not to grit his teeth but unable to suppress a deep frown.
“Excellent,” Snape said, and Draco thought he saw a smidgen of pity flicker momentarily behind the man’s dark eyes. “Your little altercation with Professor Moody is just another example of the hold Potter’s taken over this school. His reign must be ended once the Tournament is over.”
Draco smirked. He’d always liked the Potions master. “I agree completely, sir.”
“From what I recall, you have been gifted with some talent on the Quidditch Pitch. It would be quite pleasing to me and your housemates if Slytherin could manage to win the Cup next year.”
“Of course, sir,” Draco nodded, shifting his bag as he felt his arm begin to cramp up.
“Good day, Mr. Malfoy,” Snape said, moving past him in the hall. Draco turned down the dungeon stairs, about to breathe a very audible sigh of relief when he saw them waiting for him.
“And if you wouldn’t mind passing the message along to your teammates, Mr. Malfoy?”
Snape’s last-minute addition sufficed. The chorus of voices followed him through the wall.
Draco waited until sunset to exit the common room again, hoping they were scared of the dark.
He put one foot into the corridor gingerly, stepping out from behind the enchanted wall when he saw that the coast was clear. He followed the corridor around several bends until he saw the staircase that led out of the dungeons. After a few more minutes of walking, he stepped out into the blessed fresh air of the cool November evening, smiling as the gentle breeze hit his face.
He stuck his hands in his pockets, happy that the handful of other students who were also outside seemed too absorbed in their individual activities to take note of his presence. He stood still for a moment, taking in the pastel colors that painted the horizon, but then he spotted a large, flat rock over by one of the castle’s many gardens and took the seat before someone else could occupy it.
He had just closed his eyes, thinking about a short nap, when he heard her.
“—stupid French girls, and I told them that he was my boyfriend, so fuck off—”
Draco opened one eye lazily, his blue iris lighting on Pansy Parkinson as she stormed her way across the courtyard in patent leather Mary Janes, Daphne Greengrass and Tracey Davis following diligently at her heels. He smirked, proud of the effortless effect he had on women.
Just then, Pansy stopped, turning and looking him right in the face. Her lashes fluttered.
No, no, don’t. Draco felt a tangible wave of panic rising in his chest. Please—
“DRACO!” Pansy squealed happily, rushing over to greet him like he was a small puppy, or perhaps the latest handbag to grace the windows of Paris’s finest designer shops. Daphne and Tracey smiled, sprinting off after her, both of them looking a bit weak in the knees as well.
But Draco wasn’t paying Pansy, who was in fact not his girlfriend, a lick of attention. His eyes were fixed on the first years, who were coming out of the woodwork like a horde of cockroaches. A couple of them dropped out of a nearby tree, which Draco recognized with horror as the one he’d been sitting in right before Moody had transfigured him a little over twenty-four hours ago. His eyes darted to the castle, where a whole crowd of them had spilled out, oozing onto the grass like a potion gone horribly wrong. Several others looked up from their game of Exploding Snap.
Pansy stopped dead as he jumped off the rock and tore back into the castle, crying like a baby.
A few feet away, Fang laid his head down on his overgrown paws, wondering why his dinner was late. He was always fed by the time the sun went down at night, but now darkness was gathering steadily over the Hogwarts grounds, and his master hadn’t even looked at him.
Next to him, Hagrid sat on the steps, enjoying a glass of brandy and smiling at the scene in progress just down the hill from his hut. Pansy was standing in the courtyard with her hand on her hip, speculating with her friends about why Draco had run from her like she was a banshee. After a moment, Filch came outside and handed out detentions to the girls for being out late.
Hagrid lingered long enough to watch Pansy and the others troop haughtily inside, and then he stood up, tipping back his glass and letting the rest of the rich liquid slide down his throat. He wiped his mouth for good measure, and then he signaled to the beast laying in the grass.
“Come on, Fang, time ‘o eat,” he said, and the dog bounded happily inside the hut. Hagrid moved to follow him, but he paused at the door for a moment, a smile spreading across his ruddy face as he stared up at the sky. He had spent nearly two weeks’ salary at Honeyduke’s, but paying off all of those first-years had been well worth it just to see the look on Malfoy’s face.
“I just wish yeh could ‘ave seen it, too, Buckbeak,” he said quietly, and then he entered the hut.