The B!g G!g
by Lauren Greenleaf (aka Seagull Laridae)

There’s no way known to summarise a METMA challenge - this is my thirteenth, and once again, it’s insane (and once again, I’ll be halfway through writing it before I remember the disclaimer).

I insist that most of these requirements are very open to interpretation...*snerk* I don’t know what the hell is with the title, so don’t ask me if you can possibly help it. My additional personal challenge was to use the word “ quaffing” to make my little brother happy.

Still fifth-year. Still insane.

Characters not mine. J.K.R. own characters. *kisskiss* Me kiss J.K.R.’s feet. Me dribbling idiot, not worthy. Every guest star who comes from real life belongs to themselves, and I apologise if I used you without asking...

Dedicated to the almighty Mandy (aka Gred, aaka B.D.)

The function room off the main bar at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade was packed full of Hogwarts students. A lot of them were moshing, even the purebloods who didn’t know what the word meant. The group overflowed from the function room into the main bar, which was where, as our story begins, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville were standing.

Harry wasn’t quite sure that this sort of thing was his scene, be it in the wizarding world or the Muggle one (not that he had had much experience in the Muggle world, of course), but Hermione had *insisted* on him and Ron coming - for the experience - and when Ron had heard who the performer was, he had begged Harry to come.

“It’s Linden, Harry. *Linden*. I don’t know how you can live even a little in the wizarding world and not know who she is!” Linden was a young witch who was at least half Veela - Ron had a photo of her which he had shown to Harry. Long blonde hair cascaded down her back, wide blue eyes blinked innocently at the camera, and softly pink lips curved into a sweet smile as he watched.

So he’d agreed, and the three of them had joined the rest of the Gryffindor students who were going (Neville and Ginny among them), and together with the rest of the students from other houses, they had trooped down the hill to Hogsmeade, where the Three Broomsticks was ready for their arrival.

The students were chaperoned by McGonagall, who looked most disapproving of the whole venture; Flitwick, who excitedly clutched his autograph book; Sinistra, who looked disturbing in *extremely* tight black robes, with blue sparkles charmed through her long black hair; and Snape, who looked more grumpy than ever with his very prominent bump. Neville kept looking at him and alternating between going white, going red, and trying not to giggle.

As I said, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville were standing in the main bar - they were actually leaning up against the bar itself, right next to the pie-warmer and the hot dog cooker, which for some reason barked when the food was ready. All four of them were holding Butterbeers and waiting for the support band, a little-known group called “Mandy and the METMAs”, to finish up. Ron was jiggling from foot to foot in excitement.

A wet nose pushed against Harry’s ankle, and he jumped. Looking down, he saw a large black dog looking up at him pleadingly, with its tongue hanging out. A grin rose to Harry’s lips. Despite the previous year’s directive from Dumbledore to lay low at Lupin’s, Sirius clearly wanted to stay close to his godson.

“Hermione - Ron - Snuffles,” Harry muttered. Hermione glanced down, nodded, and signalled to one of the barmaids, ordering two hot dogs. Making sure that nobody was watching, she discreetly dropped them both on the floor.

“Woof,” came a low, grateful response.

“That’s perfectly all right, Snuffles,” Hermione said.

“Who are you talking to, Hermione?” Neville asked.

“Myself. Strange, huh? Is the support band finished yet?” Hermione said. Ron rolled his eyes at her and she shrugged. “They seem like weird people, and that lead singer’s a positive nutcase. I want to see what this Linden person’ s like.”

That set Ron off again, dragging his picture out to show her, and Harry turned away, quaffing his Butterbeer. He heard the crowd in the function room roar as the support band finished, and a few minutes later the band came out of the room and went straight to the bar, right next to where the four Gryffindors were standing.

“I’ll have a Whizzbee Crush with extra raspberry,” the drummer said.

“Pumpkin juice for me, I’m driving,” said the lead singer, smiling at Harry as she took her drink. Harry didn’t hear what the guitarist and the keyboardist ordered - they were further along the bar, and besides, Fred and George had bailed them up and were talking to them excitedly about something or other.

“Hi. You’re Harry Potter, right?” The drummer, who looked about eighteen, was standing next to him, pushing bits of brown hair out of her face as she sucked her drink up through its blue straw. There was a little red umbrella in it, and she narrowly missed poking herself in the eye with it. “And Hermione Granger... I remember you from that stupid Witch Weekly column last year.” She had a strange accent that Harry couldn’t place.

“Yes,” Hermione said. “This is Ron Weasley and Neville Longbottom.” Neville looked absurdly pleased to be included. “You guys sounded great.”

“Thanks,” said the singer, gulping half her juice in one go. Her voice sounded husky, and she too had a strange accent, but different to the drummer’ s. “I think I was a little off on that last song.”

“Oh, come on Mandy, you sounded fine,” the drummer protested. She held out her hand to Harry. “Rabies. This’s Mandy, as in Mandy and the METMAs.”

“*Rabies*?” Hermione said.

“Nickname. Long story. Our other two are... oh, where are they?” Rabies did a slow pivot on one foot, scanning the room. “Ah. Talking to... that man?... Man? Is he a man? Fairdinkum, he’s ugly. Why’s he so fat? Gland problem?”

“Er, actually, he’s pregnant,” Neville said, then blushed when Rabies roared with laughter and shook his hand.

“How did that happen?” Mandy asked.

“No idea,” Neville mumbled.

“A spell backfired,” Hermione said diplomatically, saving Neville any embarrassment. “Come on, Linden’s bound to be starting soon, and I don’t want to miss her.”

“Well, you wanna get close to the stage? We’ve got VIP passes... we can probably get youse backstage, if you want,” Rabies said.

“Yeah. Sound cool?” Mandy asked.

“Absolutely!” Ron said, turning pink as Mandy noticed the photo of Linden and scrutinised it before handing it back to him. “Thanks!”

“Let’s go in then,” Rabies said.

Neither she nor Mandy noticed the black dog that followed them through the door.

***


Just inside the doorway, Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan were having a fight of some kind.

“Yo’ mamma!” Dean snapped.

“Tu madre!” Seamus retorted.

“Din mor!”

“What?”

“Norwegian.”

“Oh. Vester mater!”

“Huh?”

“Latin. Duh.”

“La tua madre!”

“Tu madre!”

“You already said that!” Dean sighed. “You’re pathetic.”

“You’re *both* pathetic,” Hermione said. “What *are* you doing?”

“Nothing,” Dean and Seamus said in unison.

Rabies shook her head and grabbed Neville and Hermione by the hand, dragging them towards the front of the restless crowd. As they went, Hermione heard Seamus start again with “Tu madre!” and Dean rebuff him with something that sounded French.

Linden came on stage just as they reached the front of the room, and the crowd ’s noise rose to a roar.

Just as in Ron’s photograph, she looked perfect. White teeth gleamed out of her wide smiling mouth, her long blonde hair hung freely and reached her waist, and her blue eyes seemed to dazzle everyone there (or maybe it was the strobe light behind her). She strode to the front of the stage, clad in dark green robes that swept the floor but were tight around the top, and took the microphone in one perfectly sculpted hand.

“Heya, Hogwarts! Are you ready to ROCK?”

“Yeah!” most of the room shouted back.

“I can’t hear you!”

“YEAH!”

Hermione noticed that Malfoy was close by, staring at Linden as if he couldn’ t take his eyes off her. Crabbe and Goyle also had their eyes riveted to the singer as she launched into her first number, “Smells Like Potions Class”, and Hermione giggled and tugged Harry’s sleeve to point it out to him.

“They’re dribbling idiots, aren’t they,” she said.

Unfortunately, Crabbe heard her. Being Crabbe, it took him some minutes to figure out that it *was* actually himself that Granger was talking about, but as soon as he did, he nudged Goyle.

“Granger’s badmouthing us,” he growled.

“Gedder,” Goyle grunted.

Both of them were holding hot dogs, which as soon as Linden had started performing had been forgotten. With one accord, they heaved them at Hermione, who saw them coming and ducked.

“Flying hot dogs. Impressive,” Mandy said. With a flick of the wand that nobody had even seen her pull out, she sent the hot dogs flying back towards the Slytherins, and with a second flick the food began trying to force itself up their nostrils.

“What do you think you’re doing, Granger?” Malfoy thought it was Hermione casting spells, and within a second had his own wand out. The two stood facing each other over a space that was now miraculously clear of people, both looking very ready to fight.

“Woof,” Snuffles said at Harry’s ankle.

“What *can* I do?” Harry asked.

“Woof.”

“I’m *not* getting in the way!”

“I am,” Rabies said. “Come on, Harry... talk Hermione into backing down and I ’ll tackle the one that looks like an albino ferret, all right?” Ron doubled over with laughter. Up on stage, Linden was still singing, oblivious to all of this; she had moved into her second number, “No Squibs”. Harry gulped and nodded, and he and Rabies moved between the sparring pair.

With *very* bad timing.

Hermione was incensed enough to fire off a spell at Malfoy, and Malfoy was casting his first spell anyway, and Rabies and Harry got caught in the crossfire. With twin shrieks, they went hurtling towards the domed ceiling.

“Oops,” Hermione said.

Malfoy hadn’t even noticed. “Come on, Granger... or are you too chicken?” he challenged.

Hermione had had enough. “*Poultrius*!” she shouted, and with a flash of light and a noise that sounded like a loud squawk, Malfoy was transformed. A plump white bantam hen was suddenly in his place, looking as disgruntled as it ’s possible for a chicken to look.

“Woof.”

“Thanks, Snuffles.”

While this was happening, Rabies had managed to arrest herself and Harry mid-air with a simple Stopping Charm (very dangerous when used at train stations...), and was slowly bringing them back down again. Mandy caught Harry’s ankle when he was close enough, and Hermione helped reel him in, but the weight change broke Rabies’s charm and she fell the rest of the way, Ron and Neville managing to break her fall. The three of them lay in a tangled heap on the floor.

“Where’s Rabies?” Mandy asked, still looking up.

“We caught her,” Ron and Neville groaned in unison.

“You caught Rabies...” Mandy snickered.

“That’s not funny,” Rabies said. She levitated Ron and Neville off her, stood up, and dusted her black and silver performance robes down. “Hey, what’ s going on?”

“Excuse me?” Linden was crouched at the edge of the stage, leaning perhaps farther forward than was necessary, and Ron’s eyes nearly dropped out. “If you people are quite finished, I’d like to get on with this set.”

“Sorry, my dear.” Snape had materialised beside them. “Harry Potter does like to cause trouble,” he purred, putting a hand on Harry’s shoulder.

Linden looked, then shook her head. “That’s not Harry Potter,” she said.

“I am!” Harry said.

“You haven’t got his scar.” Linden stood back up - Ron groaned with disappointment - and went back to her microphone. The rest of the crowd were getting restless.

Harry’s hand went to his forehead and his fingertips rubbed lightly over the skin. The slight ridge of his scar wasn't there. He saw Hermione staring at him.

“Is it gone?” he asked. “Is it really gone?”

“Yes - oh, Harry, it’s vanished,” Hermione said.

“How did that happen?” Rabies asked.

“It must’ve been the combination of spells,” Harry said, still dazed.

Rabies pulled up the sleeve of her robes and looked at her elbow. “The one I did during that gig in Romania’s gone too, Mandy. The one where the dragon distracted me and I fell off the stage? Gone.”

“My God.” Mandy sounded impressed. “What spells were they?”

“Well, we can’t ask *him*,” Harry said, gesturing at Malfoy, who was still feathered and looked rather upset about it. “Hermione, what spell did you use? ”

“Oh, Harry, I can’t remember,” Hermione said. “I just shouted the first thing that came into my head.”

“Use Priori Incantatem,” Mandy suggested. “It shows you what the last spells cast were.”

“You’ll do no such thing,” Snape said. All this time he had been standing there listening and they’d forgotten about him. “Back to the castle. Now. The performance is over for you six. Someone pick up Malfoy and bring him too. ”

“Us *six*?” Rabies rolled her eyes. “Listen, dumbarse, we’re not your students. Get real.”

There was a whooshing sound as Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville inhaled sharply. Snape looked ready to go nuclear. Rabies looked at his red face and raised an eyebrow.

“Um, Rabies... that may have been a bad idea,” Harry muttered.

“Why?” Mandy asked innocently. “If he doesn’t know the difference between the support band and his own students, it’s a wonder that his own students didn’t run off years ago to join the circus.”

Snape’s face turned from purple to red.

“Go... castle... now...” he managed to say between pursed lips. “Even you two!” he added to Rabies and Mandy.

Rabies just rolled her eyes again. “C’mon Mandy. The other two are probably wondering where we got to.”

“Yeah. Nice meeting you guys,” Mandy said to Harry and the others.

“Yeah... nice meeting you too,” Harry said back. The others were still frozen in terror at the look on Snape’s face, and only managed a wave.

The two band members disappeared out of the room, and with their absence, Snape seemed to snap out of it.

“Up to the castle *now*, Potter. I believe I’ve made myself quite clear,” he snarled. “You three as well. Weasley, go and get Malfoy before he lays an egg, and hurry up.”

With Snape lumbering like a pregnant overgrown bat in front of them, the four Gryffindors and Malfoy trudged out of the Three Broomsticks, Ron casting one last look over his shoulder at Linden before they went out.

Rabies was standing outside the Three Broomsticks and threw something to Harry. “Use it well,” she said in an undertone. Harry hid it in his robes without looking, but Snape didn’t turn around.

“Thank you,” he said.

“Get going,” Rabies said, waving at him.

The group made their way back towards the castle, not knowing yet exactly what punishment Snape had in store for them....

TO BE CONTINUED

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