Chapter 1 : Chapter One - Coordinating with Colleagues
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Coordinating with Colleagues
The crisp winter sunshine seeped through the majestic windows, giving the bright and airy office a fresh and cool ambience. The warm fire crackled merrily in the hearth, a welcome protection from the crispness of the air outside. Professor Filius Flitwick rocked gently backwards in his chair. The neatly stacked piles of parchment on his desk gave him a warm sense of satisfaction. With all the essays marked he could now start to think about the preparations for the Saint Valentine's Day feast.
He reached into his desk drawer and retrieved a large metal cake tin. Prying open the lid, he helped himself to one of the delicious little cupcakes that it contained. He grinned and took a bite of the treat; a few crumbs fell unnoticed onto his robes. They really were the most pleasant cakes and they were also a particularly useful tool to help calm distressed students down. In extreme cases, usually around exams, he had even charmed them to do a little dance in the hopes of pacifying the nerves of some of the more flighty members of his house.
A sudden and precocious knock emanated from the other side of his office door. Although he enjoyed these solitary moments, Professor Flitwick was always pleased to have company.
"Come in," he called cheerily. His happiness was momentarily quashed a little as an award winning smile entered his chamber, along with the unfortunate professor to whom it was attached.
"Oh Flitwick, my dear fellow! I received your note. How can I be of service to you? ...Are you are having trouble with anything in particular? Needing some career advice dear Professor? Why, when I was writing my second bestseller, Gadding with Ghouls, I had the misfortune to suffer from overexposure. Thankfully, that was easily rectified... surely your little book on charms isn't causing you such trouble? Professor?" the conceited man questioned.
"Oh no, Lockhart, nothing of the sort! So kind of you to come..." he said despondently.
"Come now, Professor... nobody wants to be overexposed, do they? Not in the current climate... it is rather chilly you know!" Lockhart said with a wink and a swish of his lilac cloak.
"Really Lockhart! Humph! I just wanted a word about the Saint Valentine’s Day feast. I have been made aware of your intentions to decorate the main hall. As holiday decorations are usually left to my direction... I do have some rather good charms for Christmas decoration... the indoor snow is one of mine... you know? Well I thought that... perhaps, you might appreciate my assistance."
"Oh, absolutely charming, my dear fellow. I am sure your little spells are quite adorable. As my assistant, well of course, how could I refuse!" Lockhart replied with a flourish.
He reached into the silver silk lining of his immaculately tailored jacket and retrieved a piece of parchment, which he unfolded with a flick of his wrist. The flamboyant script penned in baby pink ink shimmered and sparkled in the firelight. He handed the parchment to the diminutive professor across the desk. Flitwick sighed as he read the list that his colleague had drawn up. The little pink hearts that were used to punctuate and embellish the lettering were more than a little nauseating.
"Of course," Lockhart continued. "Cherubs are a must! I have this most fabulous idea about employing, say, a dozen or so dwarves and giving them golden wings and harps. They can deliver valentines throughout the day, reciting poems and singing messages of love. Fabulous, just fabulous if I do say so myself."
"If you say so, Lockhart... I am not so sure the teaching staff will appreciate interruptions to their lessons though..."
"Come now, Professor! Surely we all need a little love! Staff included!"
"Well, if you are sure..." Flitwick queried, "perhaps you should... tell them to keep clear of the dungeon classrooms..."
"Come now, if anything will get our Severus in the spirit of the day, a sonnet singing dwarf will surely bring him round!"
"Well, if you say so..."
"And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare; As any she belied with false compare..."* crooned Lockhart, "...what do you say? Perhaps I should pen him a little poem and send it along with a winged dwarf... l am sure that we can melt that heart of his!"
The sceptical look on Professor Flitwick's face went unnoticed by the younger wizard. In a wise attempt to move the conversation away from any musings regarding the state of the Potions Master’s love life, he read out the next items on the pink, shimmering, heart embellished list.
"Balloons... hearts... fairies..."
"Indeed, indeed... we need to add a little twinkle to the day!" expressed Professor Lockhart.
"Well, it is a difficult time for fairies," Flitwick stated. "I released the ones we used to decorate the Christmas trees a good few weeks ago. We would need to collect some more from the Dark Forest. By experience I know how tricky this can be!"
"Well my dear fellow, I will have you know that catching fairies is a speciality of mine. Why, after I battled my way through the Bulgarian marshes to save the poor villagers from that terrible banshee, their express wish was to celebrate their newfound freedom. Fortunately, I was able to procure going on 400 of those iridescent little creatures. Lit up the whole village! Goodness, what a night that was; the young witches were quite enamoured with me, I will have you know."
"Well, in that case Lockhart, if you are free tomorrow perhaps we could make a trip to collect some from the forest," asked Professor Flitwick as he peered sceptically over the rim of his glasses.
"Of course, of course my dear chap! Perhaps we could meet at three thirty? The students have a visit to Hogsmeade arranged for this weekend and I have availed my services unto this endeavour–but we should be back by three at the latest!" said Lockhart with an air of confidence.
"Umm, well yes... but perhaps we should wait until nightfall, as it is generally recommended as the best time to collect fairies..." muttered Flitwick to the younger wizard.
"Of course, of course! That is what I meant! Just a little test you see... I had to make sure that you know your stuff, Professor. Plucky little things, fairies. I certainly wouldn't want to take an amateur along, now would I? As I am sure you know, there is no end of trouble out there for the amateur fairy capturer!"
"Oh, indeed Lockhart. I am sure that you have little to worry about in that regard."
"Until tomorrow evening, my good Professor." Lockhart flicked the fabric of his robes dramatically, turning towards the door he exited with a level of flair that surpassed the realm of subtlety, indeed bordering on that of the crass.
As the door closed, Professor Flitwick sank back into his chair and sighed, closing his eyes. After a moment he opened them again; reaching into the cake tin, he chose another small cake. A swirl of chocolate icing formed a perfect little sugary mountain on top of the sponge. He bit into the comforting morsel and tried to let go of the exasperated tension that the younger professor’s presence never failed to induce.
The eager faces of students holding bags emblazoned with the names of various Hogsmeade merchants met Flitwick’s eyes as he entered the hall for the evening meal. The house elves that tirelessly worked in the Hogwarts kitchens had outdone themselves yet again. The quality of the food was just one of the many benefits that came with his job. Although not as fancy as the cuisine provided at Beauxbautons, the homely dishes suited him perfectly. Conversely, the food he had misfortune to experience on a visit to Durmstang had been too fishy and salty for his sweet tooth. He really should have realised that the diet provided by the Scandinavian school would have been influenced by the school's marine origins. The continued tradition of travelling by enchanted ship really should have been an indication of the importance placed upon the school's heritage.
As Flitwick tucked into the large slice of toffee pudding that he had chosen for afters, he noticed that Lockhart was trying to get his attention from the other end of the table. Flitwick bowed his head lightly to acknowledge his fellow professor. A gleaming smile, two thumbs up and a wink were gestured as a response. This little reminder of their forthcoming adventure into the Dark Forest made Flitwick’s heart sink a little; any more than twenty minutes and that man's company became rather taxing. Lockhart had been the same as a boy, probably the most pompous member of Ravenclaw that Flitwick had ever come across during his time as the Head of House. There was a tendency for the charges in his care to be highly strung, but young Gilderoy surpassed anything he had encountered either before or since. If anything, his ego had exponentially grown over the years, no doubt aided by those stupid Witch Weekly Smile Awards.
The Defence Against the Dark Arts professor was unfortunately seated next to the school's Potions Master. Snape had noticed the cheery exchange and was scowling at his canary yellow robed colleague, and his eyes suddenly snapped to meet Flitwick's own. In return, Flitwick let out a sympathetic sigh. Snape's only reaction to this gesture was to raise an eyebrow before returning to grimace at Lockhart. The nauseatingly cheery yellow of the professor's robe was in no way helping to endear him into the Potion Master’s good graces.
It was evident even from the far end of the table that Lockhart was attempting to engage Snape in a conversation about the Saint Valentine's Day feast. Flitwick could just about make out the stony set of Professor Snape's features; the lack of animation was an obvious reflection of his feeling towards the conversation along with its instigator. Fortunately—or perhaps unfortunately for Snape—Lockhart required little encouragement in his endeavour. Every now and then the odd word was audible above the other diners’ munching and murmurs. Flitwick snickered to himself when, for the third time, some sentimental exposition of Lockhart's on the nature of love and romance drifted audibly by.
As the light began to fade over the lake, Flitwick stood outside at the main entrance of the castle waiting for his insufferable companion to arrive. A large silver cage sat at his side on the stone floor of the castle steps. Although generally he considered himself to be a fair-minded wizard, he couldn't help but feel slightly put out due to the Lockhart's lack of punctuality.
"Probably still putting the finishing touches to his hair," he thought wryly to himself, "or perhaps, still trying to choose the appropriate shade of puce cravat for fairy catching..." Flitwick chastised himself mentally for his unspoken comments. The nature of his thoughts were almost worthy of the acerbic wit usually attributed to the Potions Master. Then again, perhaps Lockhart just had that effect on any sensible person in his vicinity. "Goodness!" he thought, "I have to work alongside the man; at the least I should attempt to rein myself in from thinking such unpleasant remarks."
Looking truly vexed, he glanced back at the doorway. A rustle of dark fabric emanated from the shadows as the Potions Master stepped forward to make his presence known.
"Waiting for someone, are we?" questioned Snape in his rich voice.
"Severus, oh, hello. Yes, yes indeed. Lockhart appears to be a little... ummm... well, he is meant to be helping me collect some fairies to decorate the hall for the Saint Valentine's Day feast," said Flitwick.
"Indeed," replied Professor Snape, "his enthusiasm for the holiday seems to know no bounds."
"Yes, well... I thought I heard him mention it to you at dinner," Flitwick said hesitantly, "Did he, umm... mention the dwarves?"
"Indeed," he stated. "I felt it necessary to inform him that should any harp-bearing creatures interrupt my lessons, then it might be wise of him to take precautions before sipping his tea."
"Oh, Severus, you wouldn't! Would you?" he asked grinning at his colleague.
"If my hand were to inadvertently slip while holding a vile of the calvitium solution, and his mug just happened to be underneath…" Professor Snape paused as a smirk grew across his face. "Well, I could hardly take the blame if he finds that his rather extensive range of hair care products becomes somewhat redundant."
Flitwick chuckled quietly. "Now, that would be rather unfortunate for him..."
With that, the large wooden doors opened and the subject of their conversation popped his cheery head around to greet them.
"Oh hello there! Sorry to keep you waiting, Flitwick, I had to find my outdoor muffler. Tricky things, mufflers; it is as if someone casts a memory charm on me whenever I put it down!"
Lockhart then turned his attention towards Professor Snape. He flashed the Potions Master a broad smile that was not returned.
"Ah Snape, my dear fellow," he continued. "Are you planning to join us? Perhaps, I could teach you a thing or two about the dos and don'ts of fairy catching." Lockhart paused to grin at his colleague. "I would always be glad of another assistant!"
With that, Snape exchanged an exasperated look with Flitwick and stalked off back into the castle.
"Right, well, we really should get things underway," said Flitwick, trying to diffuse the sudden tension in the air.
Lockhart, who was now clad in the most obnoxious shimmering mauve muffler and matching cloak, pulled another of his award winning smiles as he looked down at the charms professor.
"By all means, Professor, please do endeavour to lead the way," stated Lockhart, gesturing with a sparkling smile and a small bow. He flipped his hair with a shake of his head and strode off in the direction of the dark forest. Quickly, Flitwick gathered himself, picked up the large silver cage and ran off after his colleague.
- The verses that Lockhart recited (indicated by * ) are actually from Shakespeare's Sonnet 130. I think that Lockhart would be quite content to plagiarise in such a blatant way. On youtube you can listen to the sonnet as read by Alan Rickman (it is a really great recording). The sonnet is about a man being in a relationship with a 'real' woman not a mythological goddess - even mentions her stinky breath (yuck!) and yet somehow it still sounds romantic.
- Calvitium – Latin for baldness (hehe)
- I have tried to get a lot of references to things that went on in the books to contextualise the story a little. I hope that you find it funny! Reviews will be much appreciated!
- A huge ‘thank you’ to academica for being such a wonderful beta for this story!
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