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Just Desserts (Gen--PG)
by britt (bribitribbit)
at August 11th, 2006 (08:03 pm)

Just Desserts
There were a few Hufflepuffs, and they all lived in a cellar
And when they were good, they were very, very good,
But when they got mad, they were quite the little hellers.

Yay for that splendiferous beta of wonder, mysticblueside! And also yay for kelleypen, who came up with the name "Bowels-That-Cannot-Be-Tamed."

It took an entire month of lessons for Susan Bones to realize how much she utterly reviled Umbridge. It had taken both Justin and Hannah three days, Ernie two days, and Megan only an hour into class; but Susan liked to give people longer chances just in case they weren't feeling their best when she met them or something. This usually turned out well for the recipients of Susan's mercy, and she rarely ever turned out to hate anyone. In fact, most of the students at Hogwarts--even several Slytherins, to her friends' chagrin--were at least pleasantly acquainted with her.

So it was a surprise to the fifth year Hufflepuffs when Susan voiced her new hatred while they were all in the library one Monday afternoon, struggling through an essay assigned to them by the very object of Susan's passion.

"She's really nothing more than--than a fat cow," grumbled Susan furiously, scribbling onto her parchment at a rate that matched her irritation.

Hannah was more amused than was probably suitable. "Susan! A cow? Really?"

Susan bit her lip. She hesitated before amending, "Well... I suppose that's a bit strong, isn't it? She's just not a very nice lady."

Justin chuckled and looked up from his own parchment to turn affectionate eyes to his friend. "Go ahead, Suze. Call her a 'fat cow' all you like."

"Hem, hem!" Megan said, imitating the unnaturally high pitch of Umbridge herself. Ernie, who wasn't paying much attention, looked around wildly for the teacher. This caused the Hufflepuffs to laugh so loudly they received a particularly rancorous look from Madam Pince.

"But really," said Susan seriously when they had quieted a bit. "She's--did you hear what she did to Harry Potter a couple of weeks ago?"

Hannah and Ernie glanced at each other, looking uncomfortable, whereas Justin and Megan leaned closer. The former couple had spent the summer reading--and sometimes believing--all the articles about the "Boy Who Lived for Fame," as some callous reporter had written. The latter were both Muggle-born, and hadn't quite yet been completely affected by the Daily Prophet and its unfortunate progeny. Susan wasn't sure which place to take. It was hard to believe that Harry, who always seemed so nice, could really be doing all those things for fame. And her auntie said that he really appeared as if he was a very good boy.

"What did she do to Potter?" asked Megan.

"Well--he was just trying to defend his friends, I think, because they were asking why they weren't doing, you know, any practical things... and I'm not sure what happened exactly, but she ended up calling him a liar and gave him a detention."

"Oh, is that all? I thought it'd be something juicy. Or, you know, new."

"Megan! Don't you think it's a little unkind--a little hypocritical--to call him a liar? Now, I've read the Daily Prophet and all, but I really can't believe any of it of Harry."

"So you think You-Know-Who is really back, then?" asked Hannah critically.

Susan lifted her chin. "Yes, I do. If only because Cedric..." But she didn't have to say anymore. Each one of them understood perfectly. Hannah--and Ernie, whom they had thought was working on the essay--looked even guiltier than before. "Don't you think--?"

"Well, of course Diggory didn't drop dead because he was feeling like it," said Ernie, looking away from Hannah and shrugging matter-of-factly. "Of course You-Know-Who had something to do with it. I mean, we were wrong about Potter before, and if he wasn't the criminal then, I'm sure he isn't now."

Only Ernie could declare his side with such pomp.

One of the first year Hufflepuff boys--one of the many whom adored Susan--came rushing in at that moment, flailing a newspaper about. "Hello, you all," he greeted breathlessly. "Have you seen any of my friends? I've got important news."

"Hi, Marcus. What's that you've got?" Susan smiled at him.

"Important news, you wanna see?"

Susan nodded and he gave her the newspaper, lurking near her shoulder to see her reaction. Gasping, she pushed it onto the table, spreading it wide so her friends could see. "Look at this! She's named herself High Inquisitor!"

"What does that mean?" asked Justin, frowning.

"I have no idea, but it doesn't sound like a bowl of cherries for us, does it?"

"It says she's got power to make rules at Hogwarts," said Justin ominously.

"Uh-oh," chorused Megan and Susan, imagining what horrible rules this woman could think of.

Hannah began gathering her books hurriedly. At her friends' questioning stares, she said frantically, "We've got class! Right now!"

Indeed, they only had about three minutes left until Professor Umbridge would close her door on tardy, straggling students. They hurried down several corridors and a hidden passageway, and only made it by a unicorn's hair.

Breathless and red, they took empty seats scattered among their classmates'. Umbridge gave them a cursory glance, before instructing in her as ever-saccharine tone of voice, "Please take out your textbooks. There will be no need for a wand."

It had been a month of lessons already, so nobody had even bothered to take out their wands in the first place. Susan opened her book to chapter nine, and Padma Patil, who was sitting next to her, leaned over with a worried face and whispered, "Susan--do you think we could share? I let Mandy borrow my book, and poor thing's in the hospital wing."

"Of course." Susan held the book in the middle of the desk.

"Thanks," whispered Padma, and they were both quiet as they read.

Someone giggled nearby. "Miss Jones," warned Umbridge. After the professor turned away, a glance from the corner of Susan's eye told her that Megan and Zacharias Smith (whom Susan didn't particularly like) were sitting next to each other, and Zacharias was doing Umbridge imitations that rivaled his companion's. Susan giggled a little herself.

"Miss Bones," said Umbridge darkly, appearing at Susan's side. "Ten points from Hufflepuff. And Miss Patil--where is your book?"

"I--I let someone borrow it, ma'am."

Umbridge tutted. "Silly as your sister. And to think, you were sorted into Ravenclaw!"

The Ravenclaws all began to protest, but it was Susan's angered voice that rang out over the classroom. "Professor, I really don't think that was a fair remark. Anyway, Padma let a friend borrow it because that friend is in the hospital wing--"

Her friends exchanged impressed glances. Umbridge glared at her. "Another ten points, Miss Bones!"

"Why is Susan getting points taken off?" demanded Megan. "I laughed first, and you didn't take any points off me!"

"Miss Bones was being much more vocal--"

"I THINK I'M BEING PRETTY VOCAL!"

Ernie raised his hand. "Susan wasn't the only one speaking, Professor. I think, to be reasonable, you should take five points away from all of the Ravenclaws that were speaking."

The Ravenclaws weren't as averse to this as one might have assumed. Terry Boot, coming to the defense of the girl he had once tutored in Transfiguration, nodded. "We were yelling, too, Professor. Susan shouldn't have to get the brunt of it, especially when she was making a perfectly sensible argument."

"Fine. Ten points and a detention, Mr. Boot."

"Professor--!"

"A week of detentions for you, Miss Bones. Now, if you please, let us get back to the lesson. Miss Patil, you may borrow a book from the closet next to the board. Mr. Boot, Miss Bones, I'd like to see you after class."

Susan was seething as she never had before. The woman had completely and unjustly insulted Padma, her family, and her house; Susan believed that an argument had been perfectly in order. Not to mention, she had rarely ever had points taken away from her, and she had certainly never received detention!

Terry didn't seem to be happy, either. "I hate that woman!" he exclaimed vehemently as they were exiting the class together. "I mean, really, I don't care that I got a detention—but you were only defending Padma and anyway, I can't even imagine you having one, and especially not a week's worth!"

This was rather a compliment. "Thanks. And I don't like her, either. It was just really horrible of her, making such mean comments like that."

Hannah and Megan were waiting for Susan at the end of the corridor. "Hi," the first greeted her and Terry. "Sorry I didn't say anything in there, but you all seemed to be taking care of it. What kind of detention is it, do you know?"

"She wouldn't tell us, of course," answered Terry. "Well, I gotta go. All right, Susan?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Bye, Terry."

He headed off in the other direction, towards Ravenclaw Tower. "Ooh, look at that hottie," giggled Megan. "Anyway, she's a nasty one, that Umbitch, huh?"

Susan laughed at Megan's new nickname. Shaking her head, she exclaimed, "Honestly, though, 'Silly as your sister'!"

"Oh, well, I was talking about your detentions, but is that really what she said?"

Susan nodded, and her friends' mouths gaped in horror.

"How terrible!"

"We'll get her," vowed Megan. "Just you watch."

"Don't I get to help?"

Megan and Hannah giggled somewhat evilly.

~*~

Susan had a new scar on her hand. It read, I will not disrespect my elders. Its appearance had angered her friends more than they had been already. To spite the woman who had forced Susan to put it there, they had concocted a clever plan.

"Operation Badger Revenge, ready to commence."

"Really, Ernie." Hannah rolled her eyes and probably thought something along the lines of "What in the world was I thinking when I agreed to be his girlfriend?"

"Oh, all right. Ready, everyone?"

"Ernie. We're just going to the kitchens. Nothing big. Or else people are going to wonder," Susan added in a singsong voice.

"Right. Well, I'm awfully hungry." Ernie nodded up and down for emphasis at the staring second years sitting in a corner of the room. "Bet those elves know how to make some really great cakes."

Justin, Megan, Hannah, and Susan had already disappeared out the trapdoor.

The kitchens were busy as ever, but even so, several tiny house-elves crowded around them as soon as they stepped inside. "Hello, Ellery!" said Susan, picking out an especially tiny one with a flowered apron and purplish eyes, huge as the rest of the elves' in the kitchen.

Ellery bowed deeply. She was enthusiastic as she squeaked, "Hello, Miss Susan! It is being good to see you! Is you wanting a snack?"

One of the many benefits of being in Hufflepuff was the close proximity with the kitchens that made for some really great midnight snacks, which led to common familiarities with a house-elf or two. Susan had known Ellery for three years, since a night in her second year when she had been in the middle of one of her rare bouts of depression and had wandered into the kitchens. Ellery had proved herself as worthy of her stature by preparing the richest chocolate torte Susan had ever tasted.

"Well, actually, Ellery..." Susan cast a suddenly wary peek at Hannah, who didn't seem to notice. She was being nearly pushed into a chair, where already a small team of elves was offering her tea--two sugars, please--and a plateful of biscuits. A deeper investigation proved that the others were being treated in the same way, and Justin was gorging himself on a plate piled high with every kind of tart available. "We have a bit of a favor to ask. You know Professor Umbridge, don't you?"

Ellery's eyes went, if possible, a little wider, and she nodded vigorously. "She is being--being a very bad person, that Umbridge! She is being very mean to some house-elves!"

Susan was a little taken aback. She'd had no idea elves were the support-the-team type. She'd also thought elves were willing to hurt themselves in favor of the master--though, she reasoned, what Umbridge was planning was certainly not in favor of Dumbledore, not if she was rising to High Inquisitor status.

"I know, Ellery, and the students don't like her at all. She's planning to take Dumbledore's place!"

"She--she--take Master's place?" The elf stomped her little foot angrily. "Ellery and her friends would never let that woman be doing such a thing like that!"

"Well, that's part of the plan, Ellery." Susan laid a hand on one of those thin brown arms. "You see, Muggles have this thing and the Weasley twins..." but she faltered, no matter how expectant and hopeful Ellery's big purple eyes stared up at her.

Oh, how would she explain laxatives to a house-elf? Susan hadn't had any trouble understanding the procedure herself, of course, but she had no idea how a house-elf might react. She fished for the proper words.

"Well, the Weasley twins, they're very good with jokes, and they gave us this… thing for... food. Just to calm her a little bit, you know, and make her see the error of her ways. I promise it won't hurt her, but I think it'll definitely, um, drive out any ideas she has of replacing Dumbledore."

Susan glanced at Justin. His stomach was surely swelling by the moment. Ernie looked as if he was turning sick from his cakes; but Hannah and Megan were both sipping from their teacups daintily. Well, Hannah was dainty, Megan was just drinking. When she turned her eyes back to Ellery, she was surprised to see that the house-elf did not look suspicious as Susan had presumed she would be. Instead, she looked almost eager.

"What is it you want Ellery to do, Miss Susan?"

"Well, Megan has some, um, pills for you to put into Umbridge's dessert. She comes down here every night for cake, doesn't she? About ten o'clock?" A week's worth of study had proved this.

The elf nodded. "Yes, miss, she likes chocolate cake, especially."

"That's good," encouraged Susan. "Now, you have to make sure she eats all of her cake, all right?" Ellery nodded even more fervently. "Um, Megan, do you have them?"

Megan reluctantly left her troupe of admiring elves to stand by Susan's side. She pulled four little brown capsules out from her pocket. The price she had paid for them was not actually very high: the Weasley twins, from whom she had before bought several Skiving Snackboxes, were at first hesitant to give their precious capsules (tentatively named "Bowels-That-Cannot-Be-Tamed ") to her, since they were the first of their kind in the Wizarding world. But after Megan had quickly explained to them her intentions, their only lament was that they hadn't thought of such a thing first.

Ellery took the tablets as if they were sacred. She bowed deeply. "Ellery will not fail, Miss Susan and Miss Susan's friends!"

Susan smiled graciously. "Thank you so much, Ellery." She stopped herself from adding I owe you big, since Ellery probably would not appreciate that as much.

"Ellery is happy to do what Miss Susan asks her! Ellery is happy to save her master and his position as the best headmaster Hogwarts school has ever seen!"

Susan and Megan had trouble tearing Justin away from the pile of crème brulé he was starting, and Hannah didn't want to leave her third cup of tea, but Ernie only looked too happy that someone had saved him from his apparent lack of willpower when it came to food.

"Operation Badger Revenge, mission completed," he mumbled weakly.

~*~

The next day brought another class with Umbridge. Even after a week, the class was still bitter about their last lesson. But while the Ravenclaws moaned and groaned as they lined up to go into the classroom, several of the Hufflepuffs only eyed each other surreptiously, grinning mysterious grins.

"Good morning, class," Professor Umbridge greeted them. They were all of them morose as they replied perfunctorily. "Please take out your textbooks. There will be no need for a wand."

Susan wondered vaguely why the teacher insisted on saying that every lesson, when it was clear nobody took out their wands in the first place.

"The notes are on the board. You will be reading chapter ten of Defensive Magical Theory." There was near-silence as the students, already bored, turned to page one hundred and three and began reading. And then the best words Susan had ever heard out of Umbridge's mouth: "Excuse me for a moment, class, won't you?"

Umbridge hurried out of the classroom. Susan caught Megan's eye and burst into giggles. Justin, Ernie, and Hannah were all practically falling over with laughter, as well. The rest of the class looked at them bemusedly.

Susan regained her composure first. She leaned forward conspiratorially and told Terry and Padma, who were closest, what had happened, and it spread quickly through to the students. There were quiet, sparse giggles that were interrupted with a curt "Hem, hem! Why do I hear noise? Get back to your books!"

Padma, looking completely passive and not as if she had been clutching her stomach laughing just a moment before, raised her hand. "Professor--"

"Did I call on you, Miss Patil?"

Padma rolled her eyes and thrust her hand back into the air. Professor Umbridge smiled sweetly. "Yes, dear?"

"I don't understand what the author is saying here. 'Though the three notorious Unforgiveables are just that, unforgiveable, there may come a time in a wizard's life in which one of those curses are needed.' Why would he say such a thing when Unforgiveable curses are clearly inexcusable? He even agrees with himself!"

Umbridge took the book from Padma's hands and dangled it between her fingers. "This book was not written for you to question--" a pained look clouded Umbridge's face-- "the--author's--motives--excuse me, class--sorry--" and she all but ran out the door once more.

This time, the entire class got the joke. The laughter was so loud it attracted the attention of three passing sixth years heading to their next class. Unfortunately, Professor Umbridge felt it appropiate to ruin their fun and reappear. So many snickers and giggles were scattered throughout the next hour, however, that by the end, twelve detentions had been assigned out of nearly twenty students.

Nonetheless, whenever Susan looked at the shiny I will not disrespect my elders on her hand, and recalled that Umbridge had left twice more during that hour, she decided that the punishment was rather worth it.