nsync in black and white

Fiction by Pen . . . . . not real, made up, purely intended for entertainment

A Hogwarts Christmas

just borrowing a little from the world of J K Rowling's imagination, no intent to steal

Lance was feeling both squeaky clean and particularly smug as he returned to the common room. Two illicit hours in the prefects' bathroom with his very special secret, and now he'd have the place almost to himself since nearly everyone had gone home for Christmas. This was Lance's first Christmas at Hogwarts. Other years, he'd gone home, but this time his parents were on their Grand Tour, and there was nobody there but the house-elf. Lance was not going to admit to a fondness for the tinsel, the tacky decorations, the singing suits of armour, the twelve over-decorated trees... but secretly, he liked them all. Much more fun than the stark halls of his manorial home.

Stifling the impulse to whistle (because after all, he was not quite the only student remaining here for the holidays), he opened the door.

There was a poodle in the common room.

The beast was gambolling about, leaping onto the comfy chairs, nosing the forest-green cushions to the floor, and worrying the fraying fringe of the big rug. Noticing Lance, it frisked towards him and thrust its nose into his hand, licking his fingers and wiggling its comical, pom-pommed rear.

Why was there a poodle in the Slytherin common room?

Absently, Lance petted the ridiculous dog for a few minutes as he surveyed the room. There was a pile of books on one table, indicating that the Spears kid had been here for a while. No doubt she was now enjoying the peace and quiet of a convenient broom cupboard, along with whoever was useful enough, and gullible enough, to fall for her glamours. The remains of the sugary treats donated by Richardson and his Ravenclaw crony McLean were scattered on another table. Lance's lip curled. That bowl had been piled high on the first morning of the holidays. Some people had no self-control. He himself had not touched the sweets. Aside from the fact that sugar was bad for his complexion, he didn't care to be indebted to Richardson for anything, not even a Christmas confit.

The poodle whined. Lance eyed it thoughtfully. He had probably better let it out, before it did what poodles were wont to do, in the middle of the common room floor.

* * *

The great hall, festive under its garlands of holly, with its twelve enormous trees laden with tiny icicles and huge shiny scarlet balls, was strangely empty for lunchtime. Only three of the teachers turned up for the meal, and as for the students, it appeared that most of them had gone into Hogsmeade this morning and not bothered to return. Lance settled himself at the single table, lifted the lids on a few dishes, and helped himself to a mound of shepherd's pie and peas.

He was aware, naturally, that a couple of other students were seating themselves in his immediate vicinity, but concentrated on pouring himself some pumpkin juice and not ruffling his Slytherin calm with a hasty greeting. When he looked up, the unreasonably beautiful eyes of Chasez, his Ravenclaw contemporary, were immediately opposite. Next to him, was Kirkpatrick from Gryffindor, who met his glance for a moment then looked away as though uninterested.

Chasez smiled, and launched into an enthusiastic description of the festive decorations in Hogsmeade at this time of year (apparently the ancient witch in the picture guarding Ravenclaw's commonroom had acquired a boa of mistletoe and ivy), and the fun to be had at Hogwarts over Christmas. Chasez was an orphan: he spent his summer holidays with a distant cousin who had a stall in Diagon Alley, but always stayed here for Christmas. Lance listened politely, noting with approval the cynical smirk on Kirkpatrick's face, but not untouched by Chasez's infectious and unselfconscious delight. Perhaps Lance could permit himself to relax a little. There were no other Slytherins at the table, after all.

The three of them finished eating at the same time, and looked at one another uncertainly.

"Anyone fancy a game of gobstones?" said Lance, trying to sound casual. "We can use one of the classrooms." It was a nuisance, not being able to get into another House's common room, but with the school this empty it was not hard to find somewhere to play.

"The Gryffindor common room probably isn't the best place to go right now, anyway," said Kirkpatrick, eerily answering Lance's unspoken thoughts. "There was a dog in there, right before lunch. Huge hairy beast put its paws on my shoulders and licked my face." His eyes rolled.

"You should be grateful," Lance suggested. "How often do you get that kind of attention?"

"Oh, I do okay," Kirkpatrick replied, his eyes bright with challenge.

"That's odd," Chasez broke in. "There were dogs in our common room too. A spaniel, and one of those white ones with the long curved head."

"There was a... poodle in the Slytherin common room," Lance admitted.

Kirkpatrick sniggered. Poodles were inherently funny, Lance supposed.

"Do you think Hufflepuff have the same problem?" Chasez said, uncertainly. "I mean, where are all these dogs coming from?"

"That Carter kid's supposed to be around for the holidays," said Kirkpatrick. "I'll ask him, when I see him. He must have stayed to have lunch in Hogsmeade."

"I certainly can't see him missing a meal," said Lance, rather meanly. He didn't care for the casual affection he thought he detected in Kirkpatrick's tone. Carter was just a Hufflepuff lummox, hardly worth bothering with.

"We can't all be anal-retentive organised types who break off from whatever they're doing in order to get to the meal-table," Kirkpatrick said sweetly.

Lance narrowed his eyes. "It's called self-discipline," he retorted. "I could show you, sometime. If you think you can cope with the concept of discipline."

The argument would have happened, but at that moment a very large, very hairy grey and white animal bounded into the dining room and bounced up to Kirkpatrick, leaped onto the bench next to him, and began licking his face with drooling enthusiasm. Kirkpatrick did his best to fend off the importuning dog, but was in difficulties. Lance enjoyed the spectacle for a few moments, but even the sight of Kirkpatrick struggling to evade the amorous attentions of an Old English Sheepdog palled after a while, so he stood, summoned all his authority, and commanded the animal to Sit.

Trembling, it tumbled off the bench and sat on the floor, where it whined and rested its hairy head on Kirkpatrick's thigh. Kirkpatrick wiped his face with his sleeve, grimacing, and stared at the dog. "You look familiar," he told it. "Dog reminds me of someone..." he went on, looking up at Lance and Chasez. "Uh—I know. The Carter kid."

"So Carter's all over you, is he?" Lance said icily. "How very cosy."

"What I mean is, if Carter was a dog, this is exactly the sort of dog he'd be. And wait! That big black and brown animal that was licking me in the common room," Kirkpatrick continued, suddenly excited. "If this is a Carter dog, that was definitely a Fatone dog."

"And they all like giving you big doggy kisses, do they? Must be your animal magnetism."

"That spaniel," Chasez broke in, "had big brown eyes, just like... and I thought Mathers hadn't gone into Hogsmeade, either."

The three of them stared at each other, and at the dog, its eyes obscured by floppy blond fringe. It did look like Carter, Lance thought. Then he laughed.

"So Timberlake didn't go out after all!"

* * *

They decided it would be only sensible to let the dogs out into the courtyard for an airing, and to do the necessary, while the three of them tried to understand how exactly this could have happened and what they were to do about it. The six assorted canines (they discovered a tiny little Yorkie, its long hair swept up with a dinky pink bow, at which point Lance remembered that the Spears kid had not gone home for Christmas) seemed more than happy to play together—even the white bull terrier joined in when Kirkpatrick found some chewy rubber wands to hurl.

Lance was inclined to think most of his fellow-pupils were markedly improved by being turned into dogs. Kirkpatrick seemed positively envious, and argued strenuously that they should be allowed to remain as they were, at least until one of the teachers noticed. But Chasez was adamant that it would be wrong to leave their peers in canine form, and for someone so sweet and apparently vague, he turned out to have a will of steel, because Lance found himself agreeing to do some investigating in the library while Chasez went magic-detecting around the castle. Kirkpatrick volunteered to remain in the courtyard as dog-herder. He was enjoying the dogs' company, Lance thought sourly. Lance could think of better things to do with their time, but he was committed to the library now.

* * *

The house-elf nudged timidly at Lance's elbow.


"Oh, sir, sir did ask that sir be told when it was time to get ready for dinner, sir, and dinner will be served in half an hour, sir."

"Ah. Yes. Very good. Thank you," Lance said absently. House elves were useful little creatures, much more reliable than magical alarm clocks and the like. He closed the fascinating little book he was reading and looked carefully round for Madam Pince, no, no sign of her. Good. Nonetheless he tucked The Boke of Fecretf, by Mistress Ophidia Leaginous (obviously a Slytherin) into the capacious sleeve of his gown, just in case. It had been in the Forbidden Section, after all.

He was almost certain he'd found out what had caused the metamorphosis. But it was not clear how to reverse the enchantment. In any case, he had better check his hypothesis before revealing it to Kirkpatrick. And Chasez.

He didn't see the other two—or, mercifully, any of the dogs—on his way back to the Slytherin common room. But the mess on the table had not yet been cleared, there were several of the sugary white blobs still there. Lance eyed them distrustfully. Trust Richardson to set havoc in play for the holiday season. He'd bet that Ravenclaw crony of his was in on the job, too, and they must have had someone in Gryffindor and Hufflepuff too, to get the sweets in place. Richardson's cousin Littrell was a Gryffindor, but who could the Hufflepuff have been? Slytherins did not commonly associate much with Hufflepuffs.

Lance could, however, imagine Carter's innocent little face lighting up at a gift of sweetmeats from, well, not Richardson, but McLean or Littrell, definitely.

They really ought to test the sweets, just to be certain that they were the, hm, doggiforming agent. Lance spotted a pile of clothing on the floor in the corner. Excellent. Fastidiously, he used the sleeve of Timberlake's discarded robes to pick up three of the sweets and drop them into a teacup.

Chasez was already in the dining room when Lance arrived with his cup. But there was no sign of Kirkpatrick.

"He's not still outside with the dogs, I checked. I think he must have brought them in when it got dark," Chasez told Lance. "Maybe he put them in a classroom, or something?"

Lance shuddered to think what might be the result of half a dozen lively dogs let loose in the Charms classroom, or the Transfiguration room. McGonagall would be livid. Assuming she wasn't skipping around the staff room on all fours as a, what, a deerhound? Kirkpatrick shared the natural Gryffindor aversion to Potions, but he wouldn't have put them in there. Too many sinister things they might eat.

Besides, Lance had a shrewd idea where the dogs were now. He didn't like it much, but it would be sensible. Hah. Kirkpatrick being sensible. There was a novel concept.

"I expect he's found a good place for them, with dog baskets and bowls of delicious doggy meat and things for them to chew, and everything," he told Chasez, rather crossly. Last time he'd been in there himself, there had been candles, and a huge, comfortable sofa. Seemed like only yesterday—oh wait, it was.

Only one teacher had bothered to turn up to dinner in the Great Hall tonight. Professor Sinistra sat on her own, carefully not looking at the students, and they in turn ignored her. Though Lance was aware enough of her presence not to bring forward his cup of evidence until she had left the hall.

"Have you tried these?" Lance showed JC his teacup, after they'd polished off roast lamb and apple pies.

"Uh, no," Chasez said, reaching for the cup. He took one of the sugar-laden blobs between finger and thumb, said, "Thanks," and popped it into his mouth before Lance could stop him.

Oh, well.

Resigned, Lance set the teacup back down on the table. Seconds later, he encountered the slightly reproachful gaze of an elegant red setter, slender and beautiful, sitting uncomfortably on the bench opposite him.

And they said Ravenclaws were smart.

"Better get you to the Room of Requirement," he said, standing up and snapping his fingers.

* * *

So where on earth was Kirkpatrick? He hadn't been in the Room of Requirement with the dogs, who seemed to be enjoying themselves in there. The Bernese Fatone Dog was playing tug-of-war over a ratty blanket with the Carter Sheepdog. The Spears miniature was sleeping between the paws of the outstretched Timberlake poodle. The Chasez Setter had made instant overtures to Dorough's big-eyed Cocker Spaniel, and only the bull terrier in the corner seemed unwilling to be friendly, it had taken a slipper under the table and was shredding it methodically. That was Mathers for you, Lance thought, as he closed the door with some relief.

Only to meep with horror as the edge of his robe was seized between the tenacious teeth of a small brown dog with a frenzied tail, which tried to bark without releasing the fabric from its jaws.

* * *

This was not how Lance had planned to spend his evening.

However, diligent re-reading of the recipe had given him a fair idea of how to proceed with the antidote. He'd need to raid the Potions store-cupboard, but that was no problem.

Lance summoned a house-elf (all you had to do was clap your hands and say 'House elf! I require service!' in a suitably imperious voice, but apparently most of the students here had no idea of this, possibly because they were half-bloods and Muggle-borns who had not grown up with magical servants) and required it to open the doors to the Potions classroom and cupboard. Extracted the supplies he needed. Returned quietly to the Slytherin common room.

He'd have to soak the whortleberry root overnight. Nothing to be done right now, then.

Well. One thing.

Lance slipped along to the Room of Requirement. The dogs were mostly asleep, curled in their baskets or snuggled affectionately together in a hairy heap on the dilapidated sofa. But the Border Terrier pricked up its ears at the sight of him, and trotted over to the door, whining for affection.

"You," Lance told it severely, "are a dope." But he scratched its head and along its spine, reducing the creature to grovelling ecstasy. "You coming?"

The small dog trotted eagerly next to him, off to the Slytherin dormitories. The barking echoed in the stony corridors.

* * *

Fortunately, Lance had the Slytherin's natural gift for potion-making. But this one was particularly important. He checked his recipe meticulously at every stage. It would not do to concoct something else by mistake, something whose effects could not be predicted.

It took most of the day, what with steeping and simmering various items. This was not altogether inconvenient, as it gave him the opportunity to let the dogs out. They still seemed to be enjoying the four-legged life. Kirkpatrick barked happily and joined them in the bright chill of the courtyard. Lance watched the small black-and-brown shape hurtling about in the snow, apparently having the time of his life.

He did not wish to be turned into a dog. Even if it did look like fun.

After a solitary lunch, Lance wandered outside, and to his great glee spotted Hagrid's oversized form shambling down the hill to his hut, followed by a motley collection of canine shapes. Plainly the staff were going to be looked after, though he was charitable enough to hope that Hagrid did not have any of his usual 'pets' too close to home. It wouldn't do to find that Professor Flitwick the dachshund had been devoured by a hungry hippogriff.

Lance could not but admire Richardson's nerve, if he'd presented the staff with a bowl of Ophidia Leaginous's Doggy Treats before he went home for Christmas. Perhaps he didn't care about the possible consequences, as he was in his final year, like Kirkpatrick. Lance wouldn't be leaving for another year.

He considered approaching Hagrid to ask for a staff dog for his experiment, but decided reluctantly that there were disadvantages to that scheme. True, it was less risky to try the antidote out on the staff (what kind of a dog would Trelawney be? A chihuahua? Or a whippet? Because the world would not be a markedly poorer place if his antidote proved flawed...), but he was pretty confident that his potion was as it should be, in which case it would be a great pity to restore to humanity someone who would then start telling him what to do.

All things considered, there was really only one choice.

The Border Terrier followed him up to his dormitory quite happily. Getting it to drink the potion was another matter. All right, so it was purple, but it smelled perfectly palatable to Lance, and even though he understood the canine nose to be more discriminating, he was a bit put out when the dog refused to take it from the saucer provided, and scampered round and round the room, claws skittering on the polished floor, until Lance had the happy thought of dipping his fingers into the mixture and letting the dog lick them clean. Which, perversely, it was quite happy to do.

He washed his hands in the basin.

"It's not so bad, being a dog."

Lance relaxed. It really did work.

Chris was sitting on the floor, bright-eyed and intent.

"Did you do it on purpose? Or could you just not resist the sugar?"

Chris shrugged. "It was there," he said unapologetically. "If I'd been in the common room during the morning I'd have had some then."

"Good thing you had something better to do," Lance said, grinning at him. "If you'd turned into a terrier before Carter licked you all over, we might never have realised where all the dogs came from. And while we're on the subject—"

"No, Carter never licked me before he turned into a sheepdog, not on the face or anywhere else. Course, after, there was a whole lot of butt-sniffing."

"I don't care," said Lance, firmly, "what you did when you were a dog. In fact I'd probably rather not know."

"You mean, like, the way I could lick my own balls? 'Cause that was special."

"I expect I could take care of that for you."

"So you could!" said Chris, brightly. "Well. We are in your bedroom, apparently." Chris glanced around at the mahogany four-posters with their rich green brocaded curtains, the thick rugs embroidered with snake motifs, the intricately carved panelling above the fireplace. "I'm disappointed, I thought Slytherin dormitories would be all cobwebs and snakeskin."

"Oh, we like our creature comforts, same as you Gryffindors."

"Even a fire, I notice. Though it is kind of chilly in here. I spose that might be 'cause I'm naked."

"I noticed that," said Lance. "Are you cold? Because I could probably help with that, too. "

"I hope you're not being insulting."

"Wouldn't dream of it," said Lance, his mouth twitching. "Just wondering if you'd like to get warmed up."

"You offering me clothes? If we're going to wander the corridors of Hogwarts, I'd rather be dressed. Peeves can be lethal with holly."

"You're in my bedroom. You'd rather be somewhere else?"

"Well," said Chris, reasonably, "if we're going to restore the others to human-ness..."

"I don't see why that shouldn't wait until tomorrow. They're perfectly comfortable in their baskets. But you can share my bed, if, you know, you're cold just standing there. Naked."

"As a concession to inter-house relations," Chris said, getting into Lance's bed, "I am willing to sleep in the Slytherin dormitory. Just this once."

"No, no," Lance told him. "You slept here last night, right there." He pointed to the foot of the bed, where a scarlet and green rug had been spread over the eiderdown. "No sleeping tonight."

Chris heaved a put-upon sigh. "You know, I could have been annoying the hell out of that bull terrier," he pointed out, as Lance got between the sheets.

"Never mind. You can annoy the hell out of me instead. You're good at that."

"It's a gift," said Chris. "Now, about that balls-licking thing..."

* * *

"How long does your antidote keep?"

"Indefinitely, according to my research. What, you don't think we should restore them yet?"

Chris looked rather wistfully at the dogs as they tore about the courtyard, chasing and tumbling over one another. "They look as though they're having fun."

"I suppose it could wait until Christmas Eve." Only three more days, and they did seem to be perfectly happy like that. The staff were probably enjoying themselves, too, and no doubt Hagrid was in his element. And it did mean another two nights with Chris.

Lance took his two carefully wrapped specimens out of his pocket. "Here." Chris looked at the offering, and looked up at Lance, startled. "I've got plenty of antidote," Lance said calmly. "Go on."

Chris grinned at him, planted a quick, hard kiss on his lips, and took a sugary blob. Moments later, the Border Terrier yipped a greeting to his four-legged friends.

Lance rolled his eyes, but watched the dogs play, and threw balls for them, until he shivered suddenly and decided to go inside. One of the house-elves could fetch him hot chocolate. Also, he needed a nap. After which, he intended to spend the rest of the day having a proper look through The Boke of Fecretf.

Richardson was not going to get away with this.


A visual aid.

There was a remix of this story, which you can find here.


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