(formerly titled 'Oh, the Nifflers You'll Scratch and Sniff')

(not about to be titled 'The Tao of Gilderoy Lockheart')
by His Lordship Chaos

A/N: This fanfic has been rated PG for it's magical ridiculousness, blatant rip-offs and very bad puns. The author would like to apologise in advance and say that he was under the control of the Imperius curse when he wrote it.

No, really...honest.

That's the story he's sticking with.

Ask anyone.

And so His lordship Chaos gleefully unleashes upon a hapless, unsuspecting public--er, what we mean to say is that His lordship Chaos proudly presents his fic.

Oh the weather outside was frightful.

But the fires were so delightful.

Pity the fires were on the student benches lining the corridors near the Great Hall of Hogwarts, and Peeves was the one lighting them. Though in trying to maintain a bit of optimism here, the burning benches did cast a rather pretty amber glow on the snow-covered grounds just beyond the corridor windows. Filch, however, failed to see this optimism and proceded to chase after Peeves. And in chasing after Peeves, Filch failed to see Fred & George Weasley sneaking in a snowman they had enchanted (and who, for some inexplicable reason, could only make drunken proclamations in Hebrew) through the front doors of the school.

Yes indeed, it was a winter wonderland for all the students of Hogwarts. And what could be a better to thoroughly enjoy the $-mas season (aside from waking up on $-mas day and finding that Hungarian Horntail you hadn't asked for wrapped up in paper and topped with a bow, grazing on the contents in your boudoir), than to celebrate it by dressing up and asking dates out to the Yule Ball.

On a brief historical note, the Yule Ball had at one point in time been known as the Yule Dodecahedron, but people got a little dizzy being a room with 12 sides to it. So then it was decided by the officials in the Ministry of Magic's department of Silly Name-Making that it should be called the 'Yule Ball' instead. Of course, it was only after they'd implemented this new name policy did they realize that balls are round, and most rooms are decidedly square or rectangular.

But calling it the Yule Cube just doesn't have the same cheery, romantic ring now, does it?

Anyhoo, with the Yule Ball about to begin in 10 minutes, all fourth year students and up were very excited about attending. Most of their day had been spent primping, showering, doing their hair, cleaning out their navel lint and trying to look as beautiful as possible in their dress gowns.

Harry and Ron, who had been waiting outside the Fat Lady's portrait for Hermione to eventually show, were busy talking about the last Quidditch match that had taken place between Ravenclaw and Griffyndor, and how a rather unexpected development had occurred after the Golden Snitch had inexplicably shot down the front of Cho's uniform. She & Harry had then spent the great part of 3 minutes with their hands down her shirt.

"Look, I'm telling you, that Snitch has a dirty mind," Harry said. "It did that deliberately. Right before it did that, I was watching it. I swear the Snitch was contemplating going down her shirt."

"I believe you, I believe you," Ron agreed, nodding his head. He glanced at his watch and frowned at how long Hermione was taking. "So, are you ever going to give Cho her sports bra back?"

"Was it my fault it came off during the scuffle?"

Finally, with about two minutes to go before the Yule Ball was officially started, Hermione emerged, looking as spectacular as ever. Her hair had been straightened out and pinned behind her head in a stunning la belle époque style, while her dress robes were folds of white and gossamer, making her look near angelic.

"You look beautiful, Herme," Ron said breathlessly.

Hermione immediately narrowed her eyes at him. "What?" she inquired in a very icy tone.

"Oooh, she's going to hurt you now," Harry chuckled. "You know how much she hates that nickname."

"Er, I mean you look radiant, your magnificent gloriousness," Ron hastily added, a look of panic spreading across his face.

Yet Hermione seemed appeased by Ron's quick recovery. She latched one of her arms around his, and started towards the Great Hall. Harry, all alone and feeling very much the odd man out, just walked beside them.

"I'm just surprised you didn't get a date for this," Hermione said to Harry. "I mean, there were a lot of hopeful girls lining up to ask you."

Harry's look soured and he suddenly found the ceiling decorations much more interesting to focus on.

"What's he so miffed about?" Hermione asked, glancing over at Ron.

"No idea," Ron replied. "Harry, what is it? Hermione just asked a harmless question."

"I'd rather not talk about it," Harry growled.

"Come on Harry, we're your friends!" Hermione said. "If you can't enjoy being humiliated by us, then who else are you going to let embarrass you?"

Harry was about to answer when he realized that what Hermione had said made no sense whatsoever. But even still, he decided that it was still not time to let loose with a tirade about why he disliked the Yule Ball so much. He continued to head towards the Great Hall, Ron and Hermione trying to keep up with him.

"What, did Cho reject you for a second year in a row?" Ron asked.

Harry shot Ron a glare that could have made a Dementor soil itself.

"I'll take that as a 'yes, she spurned me and if you speak any more of that I'll stuff you up the back end of a Basilisk'," Ron remarked, slowly inching away from Harry.

"She was already going with someone else, okay?" Harry said defensively, feeling himself getting angry and flustered.

"So Cho wound up with someone else," Hermione said, trying to remain optimistic. "Didn't you think to ask Ginny out for this after you found out Cho was taken?"

Ron nodded. "Yeah, my kid sister's had a crush on you for years now. She probably would have gone with you in a heartbeat."

Harry abruptly froze, a dark expression directed at the corridor in front of them. "I did," he muttered.

"And she didn't want to go with you?" Ron said, rather surprised.

"She had already accepted an invitation from someone else," Harry added.

Hermione dared to ask, "Oh, with who? Neville again?"

"No," Harry said, very deadpan but visibly trying to calm himself. "She's going with Cho."

Immediately, Ron and Hermione both got this wistful look on their faces and chorused, "Awwwwww, how cute!"

Harry gawked at them in disbelief. "WHAT?!"

"Well, you have to admit they do make an adorable couple," Hermione said. Ron nodded in agreement.

Harry, on the other hand, had yet to make some sort of coherent response to this. "But...but...but!!!"

"Don't worry," Ron said, grabbing hold of Harry's arm and pulling his friend into the Great Hall. "We'll get you totally pissed drunk on Butterbeer tonight and make you forget all about your romantic inadequacies."

"Gee, thanks," Harry said dryly.

Hermione giggled at Harry's sulking. "Come on, Harry, lighten up. This is the Yule Ball! It's supposed to be fun and romantic! Look at it this way: at least Draco didn't ask you to go."

The colour immediately drained away from Harry's face.

"That is so not funny, Hermione."

Ron and Hermione, on the other hand, couldn't stop laughing as the three of them entered the Great Hall. Near a hundred of fairies were circling the darkened skies of the enchanted ceiling, making it look as if the roof overhead were alive with fireflies. Though the fairies probably would have taken insult being compared to a creature whose butt lights up on a regular basis.

Dozens of small candlelit tables had replaced the long house tables, and were all pushed back closer to the walls to allow for as large a space for dancing as possible. Garland and mistletoe hung everywhere, making for a very romantic atmosphere.

Well...almost, given how someone had enchanted the mistletoe to let out snarky remarks whenever a couple beneath it were just on the verge of kissing, calling out things like, "Aw, you just wasted that on the wrong person!" or "Whaddaya waitin' for, kiss and get outta here!" Just as Harry, Ron and Hermione entered, the mistletoe was heard to proclaim, "No tongue! No tongue!", thoroughly embarrassing Professor Trelawney and Nearly Headless Nick.

"Isn't this great?" Hermione sighed happily, arm in arm with Ron. "Another Yule Ball, making for a perfect distraction of all our fifth-year studies and adventures."

Ron frowned. "Wait a minute. Um...I thought the Yule Ball was an event only held during Triwizard Tournaments, and that was last year. Why are we holding one this year when there is no tournament?"

Hermione immediately smacked him upside the back of the head. "Hush! I will have no more of you discovering any other inconsistencies in this fic."

"Sorry, your worshipfulness," Ron sighed, rubbing where she'd smacked him.

But Hermione still didn't seem entirely satisfied. An evil grin appeared on her face. "As punishment, my cuddly little Niffler--"

Harry desperately tried not to laugh at the nickname Hermione had given Ron, while the look on Ron's face became something akin to the look you find when you catch a Hippogriff in the headlights.

"--you must let me lead in the next dance. And you get to hold the rose in your mouth this time."

"No! Harry, save me--ack!" Ron managed to cry out as he was unceremoniously dragged off to perform yet another tango with Hermione.

However, Harry found himself feeling oddly much more pleasant as he waved bye-bye to Ron, leaving the hapless Weasley to his fate. He picked a spot at one of the tables with a good vantage point, where he could see most of the rest of the Great Hall. For the next half hour he spent his time idly glancing at the various people enjoying themselves.

Hagrid was busy bellowing the lyrics to "YMCA" on a charmed karaoke machine. Sadly, Harry had to reflect, this was a significant improvement since the last faculty member to use the karaoke machine had been Professor McGonnagal, giving the Gryffindors an unusually rousing rendition of "Mamboleo." And even both of those performances had been tame compared to the barbershop quartet of Dementors who had recanted of their soul-sucking ways and not twenty minutes ago belted out the lyrics to "You Are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine."

Harry winced as Hagrid's booming voice proclaimed, "Let's go stay a' ther Y-M-C-A! It's so fun ter stay a' ther Y-M-C-A!"

"That is without a doubt one of the most deranged things I have ever seen in my life," he said aside to the other occupant sitting across the table.

Retorted the enchanted snowman as it played a game of exploding snap solitaire: "Zeh ha peena sheli, zona!"

Harry stared at the enchanted snowman, and then looked down at his half-consumed stein of Butterbeer. "That's it, I'm leaving," he stated, pushing the stein away and preparing to make a fast break for anywhere else in the castle.

Abruptly there was a flash of light behind him.

On guard, Harry spun around, his hand reaching for the wand discreetly tucked beneath his dress robes. However, there was nothing to worry about at all. It wasn't an attack from He-Whose-Name-Must-Always-Be-Hyphenated. It was something much worse. Harry scowled as he saw a camera floating not four steps away from him, the camera jerking left and right as it rapidly took snapshots of Harry.

"Colin, you stupid git," Harry muttered, shaking his head.

For as much as he didn't mind the groupies like Colin Creevey, stunts like this wore his nerves very thin. Harry rose from his chair and tried to escape the shutterbug-charmed camera, but the camera had other plans. Upon locating Harry, it began to follow him around the Great Hall like a lost puppy dog, clicking pictures of whatever he happened to be doing.

There was a photo taken of Harry by the punchbowl. There was a photo taken of Harry sitting in a chair. There was a photo taken of Harry trying to hide beneath the table. There was a photo taken of Harry giving the camera a very rude gesture. There was a photo taken of Harry conjuring an Expelliarmus spell. There was a close-up taken of the wall seconds before the camera was crushed against it, courtesy of Harry's Expelliarmus spell.

Harry found a reason to smile as he watched Colin's camera vanish in a flash of light and a small explosion of small bits of machinery. "That was strangely satisfying," he sighed, strolling over to get himself another stein of Butterbeer.

Perhaps fate was finally going to be kind to him and let him enjoy the Yule Ball. And somewhere across this vast world, fate laughed herself silly. Then she sent in the reinforcements.

"Oh, Harry-poo!" came an eerily cheerful voice booming across the Great Hall.

Harry cringed, closing his eyes tightly and praying it was anything other than the person he was sure the voice belonged to. "Oh no," he groaned. "Please, anything but this."

He turned around, only to see a grinning Draco Malfoy skipping between the tables, heading straight for Harry. Before Harry had the chance to dodge, duck, escape or stab him with the nearest table spoon, Draco had glomped right onto Harry.

"I was starting to think you were avoiding me, Harry-poo," Draco cooed, nuzzling his face against Harry's chest. "But now I see that fate has brought us together at last! Dance with me, you cute, cuddly little Basilisk-slayer, you!"

By now, Harry's eyebrow was twitching so fiercely it looked as if he would twitch itself right off his reddening face. Harry stared down at Draco, and then realized just how many other students at the Yule Ball were giving the two of them really strange looks.

"Draco," he hissed. "Let go of me. NOW."

"Aw, but Harry-poo," Draco protested, giving Harry the biggest Bambi eyes he could muster. "I wanted to sneak you off and show you my own personal Chamber of Secrets, know what I mean?"

It was right about then that Harry accio'd the snowman and let it drop right on top of Draco. "I hate Yule Balls," he muttered, shivering horribly. Stepping over the arms of Draco that were sticking out from beneath the snowman's spherical backside, Harry decided that getting a breath of fresh air would be the better way to spend the evening.

The red and greenery of the rose garden decorating the front lawn looked absolutely incredible contrasted against the fluffy white backdrop of snow covering the ground. Large stone statues and fountains lined the twisting pathways working through the deluge of rose bushes, making for an ideal place for young lovers to meet up for a midnight tryst.

And naturally, where there was blossoming love, there was Professor Snape repeatedly stomping on it for all he was worth. Harry absently watched the spectacle as Snape blasted apart rose bushes and gave demerits out to the students scrambling out.

Snape glared at Harry as they crossed paths.

"What are you doing here?" Snape snarled.

Harry shrugged. "Trying not to gag on the pervading WAFF in this fic."

"Boy, do I know that feeling," Snape muttered in agreement.

"Oh, Monsieur Snape, where a' you! I am coming to fin' you!" drawled a very beautiful young woman's voice.

Snape's eyes widened in panic, a first for him. He whirled towards Harry and hissed, "You give me away, and I will feed you headfirst to a manticore myself," before leaping into one of the rose bushes.

Just as his feet disappeared, leaving behind a very confused Harry, who should come around one the bushes but Fleur Delacour. She scoured the area for a few moments and then walked off, brushing past Harry with very little of a second glance.

"Men," she sighed. "Oh, Snape, where a' you hiding now? When I find you, I shall kiss you a' over your cute li'l face!"

At the risk of stating the obvious, Harry made a mad dash back to the Great Hall, where it was definitely safer. Inside, it appeared that no one had been able to wrestle Hagrid away from the charmed karaoke machine, since he was currently belting out the lyrics to Rod Steward's "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" at the top of his lungs. Not that he was actually singing (or even remotely succeeding at singing), but he was certainly very enthusiastic about sharing his song with everyone else.

"If ye want my body, and ye think I'm sexy, come on, baby, dance wit' me!" he bellowed.

Harry was able to locate Ron up near the front of the hall. Ron was looking a little beleagured, probably because he was wearing Micheal Flatley's sequin bullfighter vest and tapshoes from "Lord of the Dance." Evidently he had said something to spark Hermione's wrath, and this was another of her rather twisted punishments designed to keep him in line.

"What is it, Harry?" Ron asked.

"Snape is really going all-out on busting up romantic getaways tonight," Harry remarked as he sat down next to Ron. He warily watched Snape stalk back to the faculty table, covered in rose petals. "I hadn't expected him to go all Spanish Inquisition on the students."

Suddenly and without warning, a trio of large muggles dressed in funny red clerical uniforms burst into the doors of the Great Hall, enlivening the Yule Ball with their diabolical laughing.

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" the ringleader proclaimed, sufficiently quieting all the chattering students and the band. "Our chief weapon is surprise. Surprise and fear-our...two weapons, yes fear and surprise and ruthless efficiency- er, three weapons, and they are fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency and a fanatical devotion to the Pope--er, four weapons! Now, amongst our weapons...um, amongst our weaponry are such elements as fear and, oh, we'll just come in again."

Before anyone could really figure out what had happened, the trio of Inquistioners dashed back out and closed the Great Hall's doors behind them. Half the students immediately looked to Fred & George, asking just what they'd spiked the punch with.

Harry and Ron exchanged confused glances. "As I was saying," Harry resumed. "I hadn't expect that sort of Spanish Inquisition at the Yule--"

Suddenly the doors were once again dramatically flung open and the three Inquisitioners charged in.

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" the lead Inquisitioner proclaimed. "Amongst our weaponry are such diverse tools as fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, a fanatical devotion to the Pope and nice red uniforms--oh, damn! I can't say this anymore, we'll just skip right to the sentencing."

They immediately turned around, their eyes fixed right on the pale, terrified form of Neville Longbottom, who happened to be sitting right in between Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil.

"There he is!" the head Inquisitioner said. "Cardinal Biggles, read the accused the charges."

Cardinal Biggles pulled out a small scroll and unrolled it. "Neville Longbottom, you have been charged with heresy against the Harry Potter fanfictional canon. How do you plead?"

Neville looked so startled and frightened that all his brain could handle was the motor skill of making his mouth open and close without actually saying anything.

"Ha!" the lead Inquistioner cackled. "We'll soon change your mind about that."

"But he hasn't pled anything yet," the other Cardinal said.

The head Inquisitioner frowned. "That doesn't matter! He's guilty and must confess! Now then, Neville Longbottom, you have been accused of three acts of heresy: heresy by deed, heresy by thought and heresy by action. Do you confess?"

"Wh-what are you talking about?" Neville stammered.

The head Inquisitioner rolled his eyes as if the answer were obvious. "You are charged with being in a stupid Yule Ball fanfic. Furthermore, I note you are getting it on with not one, but two young ladies when this fic is only rated PG! How do you plead?"

"Innocent!" Neville squeaked, looking more terrified now than ever. "I just sat down, and then Lavender and Parvati showed up! I came to this ball without a date!"

"That does not matter, you are guilty anyways," the Inquisitioner stated. "But since you plead innocent, we have no other option but to ruthlessly torture you until you confess!"

"Isn't that our only option?" one of the henchmen asked.

"Shut up, Cardinal Biggles." The Inquisition leader then pointed dramatically to Neville. "Cardinal Fang, take this big hunk of burning love to...the Comfy Chair!"

Neville's eyes widened as he let out a long, horrified, "NOOOOOOOO!"

"Oh, yes!" the Inquisition leader stated. "There you shall sit in that very comfortable chair for hours on end, only getting hour-long breaks at breakfast, lunch, dinner and a mid-afternoon teatime! Now confess, lest we thusly start to poke you with soft, cushy pillows!"

The students of Hogwarts were then present with the most surreal sight of Neville being stuffed into a very comfy chair indeed and dragged out of the Great Hall, his cries drowned out as Hagrid began to croon the music of Tom Jones: "It's na' unusual ter be loved by anyone! It's na' unusual ter have fun wit' anyone!"

And over at the faculty table, Professor Snape slowly turned his head and stared at Dumbledore. "That's the last time I let you watch Monty Python."

However, he found himself talking to an empty chair, as Dumbledore was busy hopping around the room, clacking two halves of a coconut shell together and shouting, "NI!" to any bewildered students he came across.

If you're reading this, then somehow you have defied the laws of nature and survived the rest of the fic. Much rejoicing! All of your therapy bills can be forwarded to the Email address of: hislordshipchaos@hotmail.com Kudos has to be given to METMA Mandy for giving me such fertile cannon fodder to work with. This challenge would have been left unmet if it hadn't been for the required inclusion of the comfy chair. Visit her site at: www.oocities.org/metmamandy/ Surf the insanity, read the fics, and discover how Basilisk meat actually tastes just like chicken. Harry Potter and all the related spells, places, people, spells and so forth are the property of J.K. Rowling...who is bound to hunt me down and avada kedavra me if she ever gets wind of this fic's existence. The "Spanish Inquisition" sketch belongs to the world of Monty Python's Flying Circus. All hail the insane goodness of Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and Terry Jones!

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