“George wants to firecall,” Ron announced, striding back into the nearly deserted Gryffindor common room and sinking onto the sofa nearest the fire next to Hermione. Harry stirred blearily out of sleep, glancing slightly guiltily at his neglected Transfiguration textbook while Hermione shot him a knowing look, rolling her eyes good-naturedly and spelling it open to the correct chapter. Harry shot her a grateful grin just as the fireplace flared to life and George’s smiling face popped into view.
“Hello, you lot,” George called, surveying them all with a mischievous eye. “Working hard, I see?” he asked, sending a knowing glance at Harry’s sleep-rumpled hair and winking. “I’ve been working on a new product,” George continued gleefully. Harry leaned forward in his armchair, grinning in response; it had been a while since he’d seen George look so happy.
“Take a look at this,” George announced, lifting up a small, circular object with a flourish. It was tiny, just large enough to fill his palm, and shone with a gold lustre. In fact, at first glance it looked like...
“Is that a Snitch?” Ron asked curiously, causing George’s smirk to widen further. “Not just any Snitch,” he replied, tossing it to Ron, who caught it reflexively. The four of them froze for a moment, all watching in anticipation.
“RESTRICTED SECTION OF THE LIBRARY!” shrieked a horribly loud, grating voice as the little ball glowed red. “AISLE TWO!” it added snidely. Ron yelped, dropping the snitch onto the couch, where it rolled quickly towards Hermione, grazing her knee even as she scrambled out of the way.
“RESTRICTED SECTION OF THE LIBRARY!’ ‘AISLE TWO!” screamed the voice again.
“What the bloody hell was that?” Harry asked, glancing up in confusion to see both Ron and Hermione blushing furiously and George struggling vainly not to laugh.
“Tell me that doesn’t do what I think it does,” Hermione pleaded when she could find her voice again.
“It does exactly what you think it does,” George smirked, still looking like he was fighting back giggles. “Tells everyone the naughtiest, most scandalous place you’ve ever had -”
“Ok, we get the point!” Harry interrupted loudly, as he, Ron and Hermione all studiously avoided one another’s gazes. “Honestly George, there are certain things a bloke does not need to know.”
George shrugged unrepentantly, nodding at the innocuous-looking little ball “Squealing Snitches,” he announced proudly, and as Hermione tentatively twisted the ball next to her, Harry could just make out the name written in small, scrawling text between the wings. “Wheezes’ next great prank.”
“That’s horrible, really George, you can’t just invade people’s privacy like that,” Hermione urged him, still rather red in the face, but George ignored her, now turning a speculative eye to Harry.
“Really, Hermione doing it in the library seems only natural,” he mused, and Hermione fell once again into a mortified silence. ‘I am curious about what the Chosen One has been up to, though. Do enlighten us Harry.”
“There’s nothing for it to say,” Harry replied with a shrug. George regarded him curiously for a moment - Harry knew there were still rumours circulating about him and Ginny even though they’d broken up that summer - before acquiescing.
“I’m rather disappointed, Harry - although it’s a relief, mind, to know you never shagged my little sister,” he added, ignoring an inarticulate sputter from Ron. “Anyway,” George continued, rubbing his hands gleefully. “I was thinking that you lot could help me with some product testing. You know, pass off the Snitch to some of the students, see what comes up. It should be rather interesting,” he concluded, schooling his face into an innocent expression.
“George, that’s brilliant!” Ron crowed, his embarrassment forgotten, just as Hermione cried, “George, we absolutely cannot!”
“Come on, Hermione, it’ll be bloody hilarious,” Ron urged. “Just think of all the crap we could find out! We’d finally know if those rumours are true about Parkinson and Snape - and I bet you anything Dean’s been lying about that...thing...” he shuddered “he saw when he ran into Filch and Mrs. Norris in the lavatory. I wonder where Malfoy’s done it,” he added thoughtfully before shuddering again. “We have to do it, right mate?” he asked hopefully, turning to Harry.
“Should be pretty funny,” Harry offered, sending Hermione an apologetic look.
“Excellent!” George declared. “Let me know how it goes!” he finished, giving them all a final wink before disappearing into the flames.
“Wait til Dean and Seamus hear about this!” Ron began excitedly as Hermione returned, frowning slightly, to the book in her lap.
Harry yawned again as he stood up from his armchair and stretched, trying to ease the ache in his neck from sleeping upright. He bid Ron and Hermione goodnight before making his way up to the dormitory, resolving to stay as far away from the Snitch as possible.
It didn’t take long for George’s invention to create absolute mayhem. Passed around common rooms, stuffed into robe pockets in the hallways, and - if total mortification was the intent - owled to unsuspecting students in the Great Hall, the Snitch began to reveal some of the seventh years’ best-kept secrets. Neville was being teased mercilessly for an apparent house-elf fetish after the Snitch shouted that he had had sex in the kitchens, while there was morbidly curious speculation about Snape’s adventurousness once it came out that Pansy had done it in the Shrieking Shack. Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott were both furious with Ernie MacMillan for apparently seducing them both on the Astronomy Tower on the same weekend. Perhaps worst of all, thought, was the frigid silence between Blaise Zabini and Theodore Nott, occasioned by the news that Nott’s most scandalous shagging had taken place in Mrs. Zabini’s bed.
Bets were being placed on who would have the most shocking location - nearly everyone was sure that Luna would win (“Mid-air on top of a thestral,” Ron had muttered hours later in disbelief. “How is that even possible?”) until Draco Malfoy - who had been suspiciously elusive - was finally cornered with the Snitch three days in. No one was quite sure what to make of the fact that Malfoy had had sex in the Gryffindor quidditch showers, and despite his protestations that he and Pansy had done it on a dare, some remained unconvinced.
By the beginning of the fourth day, Harry and Ginny were the only seventh years who had yet to catch the Snitch, and despite their adamant declarations that they hadn’t slept together before their breakup after the Battle of Hogwarts, nearly everyone assumed they had done it somewhere horribly scandalous.
“Where’d you two do it, Harry?” Seamus pleaded for the third time that morning as they arrived at the Great Hall for breakfast. “Surrounded by merpeople at the bottom of the lake? In McGonagall’s office while the portraits watched? Just give it up, mate” he urged.
Seamus and Dean had tried nearly everything they could think of to foist the Snitch on Harry: they’d attempted to shove it into his pockets only to find them spelled shut, waited to ambush him the dormitory only for him to spend the night elsewhere, and asked Dobby to deliver it only to receive a rather colourful warning about what would happen if Misters Thomas and Finnigan hurt Harry Potter.
Harry just shook his head, grinning ruefully and taking a seat next Ron, who was observing the tense silence at the Huffepuff table with apt fascination. “Susan and Hannah look ready to kill each other,” he muttered as he passed Harry a plate of eggs.
“I think Nott and Zabini might actually kill each other,” Harry replied, nodding toward Blaise’s thunderous scowl across the Hall as he cut into his kippers with a little more vigour than necessary. Though Theo appeared as unruffled as ever, Harry noted that he did look rather pale.
“Honestly, I’m surprised McGonagall hasn’t banned this ridiculous game already,” Hermione added without glancing up from her Ancient Runes textbook. Although about half of the seventh years had been landed in detention for disrupting class time or, in Zabini and Nott’s case, ending up in a fistfight in the corridor, none of them had given her the Snitch. There were far too many bets on the line - not to mention a fair amount of curiosity about Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley’s continuous refusal to be caught with it - to give up the game just yet.
Harry glanced up just as Ginny arrived at the Gryffindor table, taking a seat next to a rather miserable-looking Neville and looking over at Harry guiltily. He raised his eyebrows in silent question, but before she could respond, Seamus’s shout caught his attention.
“Oy Potter! Look out!” he cried, as he sent a small object zooming fast in his direction, headed straight for Hermione. Harry reached out to snatch it a split second before it hit her face, his fist closing around a familiar-feeling circular object. His stomach sank as he closed his eyes in defeat.
“MALFOY MANOR! LUCIUS MALFOY’S OFFICE!” screamed the Snitch, easily heard above the chattering in the Hall. “LUCIUS MALFOY’S DESK!” it added loudly.
The Hall fell silent.
Harry was sure his face was the same colour as Ron’s hair. He took a deep breath before opening his eyes and he turning to face his shell-shocked friends.
“I’ve never seen Malfoy turn that colour before,” Ginny mused conversationally, breaking their stupified silence. The rest of the Gryffindor seventh year turned as one to the Slytherin table, where Malfoy’s normal pale face was stained the brightest pink any of them had ever seen it.
“Harry,” Ron managed, sounding strangled. “Please tell me that you...and...and....Malfoy...didn’t...oh God,” he trailed off.
“How did that even happen, Harry?” Seamus inquired, somehow looking both horrified and amused.
“it was when I went to give his wand back this summer,” Harry began resignedly. “And when I got to the Manor, he was acting strange - turns out he’d been drinking Firewhiskey. It was the day his dad had been sent off to Azkaban, and he was a bit sloshed - it felt wrong to just leave him there,” he added with a touch of defensiveness. “So I stayed and had a bit of a drink with him, and we ended up getting completely plastered and...” he trailed off, feeling his cheeks redden again.
“You shagged him on his father’s desk,” Seamus concluded, shaking his head and looking rather impressed in spite of himself.
“And that was it? You two just had sex and forgot the whole thing?” Dean ventured skeptically.
“No, they didn’t,” Hermione put in suddenly. “The Snitch said that Malfoy had been in the Gryffindor showers, remember?”
Harry’s friends all turned to stare at him in unison as he fought a sudden urge to bang his head on the table.
“Harry,” Hermione began finally. “Are you and Malfoy, um...together?”
Harry glanced over at the Slytherin table for the first time since the Snitch’s announcement. Although his cheeks were still pink, Malfoy seemed to have recovered himself and was calmly eating his breakfast and responding to an animated-looking Pansy Parkinson with a resigned look on his face. He looked up, sensing Harry’s gaze, and their eyes met for a moment before Malfoy broke into his trademark smirk. Harry grinned, feeling suddenly lighter before the Snitch’s voice startled him out of his reverie.
“HOGWARTS KITCHENS!” it yelled from its position on Ginny’s palm. “TABLE TWO!” Blushing slightly but determined, she leaned over to kiss a startled-looking Neville on the lips as the Gryffindor table was shocked into its second silence in as many minutes.
Hermione sighed, taking pity on them. “Isn’t it obvious? Harry and Ginny both wanted to keep their relationships secret, so they just let all of you think they’d done something together.”
“So, you two?” Ron nodded in Ginny and Neville’s direction, sounding slightly strangled. “And...you two?” he asked, gesturing from Harry to Malfoy in disbelief.
“Yes, Ron,” Ginny muttered, rolling her eyes, as Harry nodded, shrugging slightly. Hermione reached over to squeeze his hand for a moment, a knowing expression on her face, before she reached over to pile more kippers onto Ron’s plate, muttering soothingly about how eating more would make him feel better.
Harry was just about to tuck back into his own breakfast when he noticed McGonagall sweeping towards them from the High Table, wearing a rather formidable expression. “Mr. Potter, Ms. Weasley,” she began in a tone of utmost severity. “You were both aware that such disruptions would not be tolerated. I have no choice but to give you both detention. And I will be confiscating that object immediately,” she continued, reaching for the Snitch, and for one heart-stopping second Harry was sure she was going to pick it up.
But, at the last moment, she Levitated it with an effortless flick of her wand, turning elegantly back to the High Table. Though her expression didn’t change, Harry could have sworn he’d seen her glance between him and Draco and mutter, “Finally”.
After that, it didn’t take long for things to quiet down again. Theo Nott finally broke down and told Blaise about his long-standing affair with the Zabinis’ perpetually shirtless gardener, François, Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott buried the hatchet once they’d had a good laugh about Ernie Macmillan’s rather lacklustre “stargazing abilities”, and the Harry/Malfoy revelation was scandalous enough that everyone forgot to gossip about the possible (and, honestly, true) Pansy/Snape affair.
But even that didn’t take long to blow over. Half of the castle was too scared of either Harry or Malfoy to comment on it (especially since Malfoy had taken to rolling up his sleeves to display his Dark Mark whenever someone so much as looked at Harry funny), and the other half swore they’d known it all along. As for Ron, extra kippers had done wonders to soothe his nerves, and George had had such a good laugh when he’d found out that Harry had been afraid he’d break something.
They never did find out who had been with Luna on the thestral, what exactly Dean had caught Filch doing with Mrs. Norris, or just what the Snitch would have yelled if McGonagall had touched it - but then, some things really were better kept secret.