Chapter Nine

Cartoons Aren't Just for Muggles Anymore

Hermione felt her jaw drop and quickly snapped it closed it, unwilling to display her shock since the Slytherins in the room were doing an admirable job of hiding their own. Instead, she folded her arms across her chest and waited for an explanation.

"I see that you've all learned a valuable lesson," Professor Dumbledore continued, the moons and stars on his robe winking as he stood and rounded his desk so that it no longer separated him from his guests.

"And what, Albus, might that lesson be?" an acerbic voice inquired, and Hermione gave up any pretense of keeping her thoughts and feelings to herself.

"Professor McGonagall!" she exclaimed, and whirled to face her. She looked none the worse for having been trapped in feline form for almost twenty-four hours, but her eyes held a new awareness.

"Miss Granger," she replied, and Hermione was almost certain that her voice caught. Without thinking, she threw her arms around the older woman and buried her head against her shoulder.

"I'm so sorry," Professor McGonagall whispered, her own arms clutching Hermione tightly. "So very, very sorry."

And with that, Hermione knew that it would not be as difficult as she had thought to forgive her professor.

"While this scene is nauseatingly touching," Professor Snape sneered, "I find that I, too, would like an explanation."

"Ah, but you, Severus, sussed out the goal of my little experiment long ago, did you not?" Professor Dumbledore inquired jovially.

Professor Snape merely pressed his lips together and crossed his arms over his chest, hands folded into his robe.

"Oh, very well," Professor Dumbledore continued, his cheerful tone making it obvious that explaining himself was no very great hardship.

"It was obvious from the events of yesterday morning that intervention was necessary if there were ever to be cordial relations between the houses of Gryffindor and Slytherin." He peered over the rims of his half-moon spectacles and Hermione shifted her weight uneasily. It was true, she knew. The fact that there had been an all-out wand fight merely because she'd inadvertently observed a Quidditch practice was proof enough.

"I merely provided an opportunity for you all to become acquainted with each other," Dumbledore explained, waving his arms expansively and smiling, as if expecting to be thanked for his intervention. When he was not immediately inundated with gratitude, his shoulders drooped a little, but he soldiered on.

"Mr Pucey learned that, considerable as his own intellect is, he would do well to listen to the advice of others."

Startled, Pucey darted a quick glance at Hermione, and then shrugged. "Yes, sir," he agreed. In a gesture that had become familiar to her over the past twenty-four hours, he pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose, only to stop abruptly as his fingers encountered nothing but air.

"My glasses!" he said. "What hap—" He blinked several times. "I don't need them!" he exclaimed happily. "My eyesight is back to normal!" He peered around the room, relishing the opportunity to view the world without the aid of thick glass.

Though Pucey was oblivious to anything but his newly recovered sight, Dumbledore favoured him with a benign smile before turning away. "And Mr Flint experienced the satisfaction of hard work, did he not?"

Flint straightened to his full height and nodded once, his eyes shyly flicking to Hermione just as Pucey's had done. "Yes, sir, I did."

"And you, Mr Crabbe, learned a valuable lesson as well."

When Crabbe blinked uncomprehendingly, Professor Dumbledore smile and placed a hand on his shoulder. "You learned that not every female is eager to take advantage of your strength. And that it can be very satisfying to use your strength, as long as it is of your own free will."

Crabbe nodded, and flushed as she looked in Hermione's direction. He was no doubt remembering how he'd scooped her up in his arms and ran as if their lives depended on it, she realized, and she coloured as well. Still, if that terrifying experience had helped him in some way, she supposed it was worth it.

"Yeah, I reckon so," Crabbe agreed, and crossed his arms over his chest, preening just a little. Hermione resisted the urge to roll her eyes and wondered if she hadn't created just a bit of a monster. Crabbe's loosely rolled up sleeves, however, distracted her for a completely different reason than the show of muscles he'd intended.

"Crabbe!" she exclaimed. "Your tattoo is gone!"

He jerked his arm closer to examine it, searching for the bright red heart and arrow. "Huh," he said, sounding mildly disappointed when it was obvious that it had, in fact, disappeared. "I'd kind of gotten used to it," he explained sheepishly, and Hermione expected that he'd be researching magical tattoos and treating himself to one as soon as he came of age.

"And Mr Goyle," Professor Dumbledore continued. "You have, perhaps, learned that to share your poetry is to increase its power, both for you and the person with whom you share it."

Goyle shifted uncomfortably and attempted to tuck his parchment and quill out of sight, only to find that they, too, had disappeared. His panicked expression, quickly schooled, tugged at Hermione's sympathy—she might not write poetry, but she knew how devastated she would be if she lost her notes or essays. Goyle's poetry, she knew, was much more private than her scholastic musings.

"I believe you will find copies waiting for you in your room, Mr Goyle," Dumbledore said softly, and Goyle let out a small sigh of relief. Hermione did, as well.

"Mr Nott," Professor Dumbledore continued, swivelling to face the quietest Slytherin as he stood in the back of the group of young men. Nott's face hardened, as though he dreaded Professor Dumbledore revealing whatever he had learned.

What had he learned, Hermione wondered? They'd spoken last night, and shared their feelings of disappointment with Professors McGonagall, Snape, and Dumbledore. Remembering her own words, she felt her face flame as she looked at the professors in question. She stood by her words—this whole situation was completely untenable!—but that didn't mean that she didn't feel a stab of regret at both their actions and her feelings.

Instead of allowing Professor Dumbledore to spell out what he thought he'd learned, Nott spoke quickly, fingering his ever present mirror. "I learned that I'm not alone in my thoughts."

Dumbledore nodded. "Quite right," he said approvingly.

"And I learned that attractiveness isn't just physical appearance," Zabini cut in, obviously taking Nott's admission to heart and choosing to contribute his own before it could be wrested from him. "Or something like that," he concluded sheepishly, as if realizing that it sounded as if he had admitted to being attracted to Hermione. Which Hermione suspected wasn't the case at all—Zabini's epiphany concerned his feelings about appearances, not his feelings about her. The mirror he'd been clutching disappeared, causing gasps of surprise around the room.

"If that is quite all," Snape said briskly, "I wonder if you wouldn't mind completing the lifting of this curse?"

How Professor Snape managed to look intimidating while dressed in red trousers and a blue shirt, Hermione didn't know. She only knew that he managed it quite well.

"Ah, but that's not quite all, is it?" Professor Dumbledore challenged, and for an instant Hermione saw his jovial attitude replaced with one of absolute glee. Her eyes widened as she realized that perhaps it was not only the students who had been intended to learn a lesson.

"It is hardly appropriate—" Snape hissed, but was interrupted by the headmaster.

"Oh, I beg to differ, Severus! I beg to differ. You see, here at Hogwarts we believe strongly in leading by example, don't we?" The portraits in the room nodded sagely, though Hermione suspected this was more due to the fact that they wanted to know what was going rather than a belief that professors ought to be held just as accountable as their students.

Severus Snape pressed his lips together in what she suspected was both a gesture of disapproval and a silent refusal to play Professor Dumbledore's game.

"Very well," Dumbledore said. "If you won't speak of it, I will." Turning to Professor McGonagall, who had been uncharacteristically silent since her initial outburst, he said, "Professor Snape, I believe, learned a valuable lesson when he chose to believe that Professor McGonagall would not harm him, even if she was in the form of a predator."

Professor Snape's stone-like expression did not change, but Professor McGonagall's face fell, and Hermione had a bad moment of wondering if the woman would burst into tears. "You… trust me, Severus?" she asked, her words uncharacteristically hesitant.

Snape cleared his throat and then pressed his lips together in a thin, disapproving line. As if realizing that it would be churlish of him to approach the situation with a lesser degree of honesty than the young Slytherins had, he nodded shortly. "Yes, Minerva," he replied. "It would appear that I do."

Hermione's throat grew tight as she watched first one, then several more tears trickle down the older woman's cheeks. When blinking rapidly failed to slow the flow, McGonagall gave up and drew an oversized white handkerchief from her sleeve. "It was close," she admitted. "Too close. In the back of my mind, it felt wrong to attack, and yet…"

"You didn't," Dumbledore said kindly. "Neither Severus nor any of the students suffered any real harm by your hand. Or paw, as it were."

Hermione could have argued the point—psychological harm was just as serious as physical—but seeing the genuine remorse on her favourite professor's face quelled the lingering anger and distrust she'd been scared would follow her into the classroom.

"I apologize to all of you," Professor McGonagall said, straightening her back and tucking away the wet linen square. "Cursed or not, it was in no way appropriate for me to attempt to harm any of you."

Hermione sniffed and hurried to the older woman, throwing her arms around her and burying her head against her chest. It was a foolish, impulsive move, but she didn't care. They'd all been through an awful ordeal, and her relief at making it through relatively unscathed made it impossible for her not to somehow express herself.

It was only when she heard the awkward shifting of the other occupants of the room that she released her grip on the professor, only to have Professor McGonagall give her one last squeeze before setting her away.

"All's well that ends well," Professor Dumbledore proclaimed cheerfully. "Now, I'm sure you would all like to return to your dormitories and perhaps clean up a little."

Hermione shot a glance at her stained and wrinkled frock and grimaced. If she never wore a dress again, it would be too soon.

As if reading her mind, Professor Dumbledore declared, "Of course, you are all welcome to keep the clothes as a reminder of your adventure." Before any of the victims of his curse could protest, he said, "It would be in your best interests. I would, after all, hate to have to provide a similar experience for you again."

She'd build a shrine to honour the dress, Hermione decided. Anything to avoid being cursed and trapped with the Slytherins again! Though it really hadn't been that terrible, she realized. She might not ever be friends with them, but she no longer despised the boys, or feared them. It was difficult to despise someone who carried you to safety. Or read poetry to you. Or—

She was halfway to the door, in the middle of the eagerly departing group, when she realized that there was one Slytherin with whom she'd had remarkably little interaction. "Wait a moment!" she said, stopping abruptly and causing someone to bump into her from behind. "What about Mal—?"

She stopped abruptly when Professor Dumbledore held up a hand for silence. "Miss Granger, you need not concern yourself." He glanced in Malfoy's direction before saying, "I have every faith that young Mr Malfoy will behave as he ought."

Hermione frowned, trying to understand the look that passed between the headmaster and the student, but the group was moving again, and she was pushed out the door and well on her way down the spiral staircase before she could order her thoughts.

When they got to the bottom of the spiral staircase, however, they were presented with a new problem. In an unprecedented event, the gargoyle guardians required a password for them to leave.

"Whizz-Bang," Flint guessed.

"Lemon drops?"

"Chocolate frog!"

"Step aside," Professor Snape hissed, and the students from his house backed away immediately, retreating several steps back up the staircase. Hermione, however, hovered at his elbow, intent on seeing how he dealt with the problem.

Much to her surprise, he merely crossed his arms over his chest, and then…


The gargoyles covered their eyes and cringed away from him.

"We can't tell you what the password is," one gargoyle ground out, its voice strained, "but it begins with 's' and is thought to be three apples high."

"That doesn't sound like any candy I've heard of," Hermione muttered to herself. "Unless it refers to a candied apple? No, that doesn't begin with 's'…"

A stray memory niggled at the back of her mind. A memory from primary school, when she'd watched cartoons on Saturday mornings while working on extra credit projects. She'd liked the show, she remembered, even though the characters had had dreadfully undeveloped vocabularies and had substituted the word "Smurf" for any other word they felt like.

"Smurf!" she exclaimed. "That's it!"

The gargoyles allowed them to pass, shrinking back when Professor Snape once again smiled in their direction, showing entirely more teeth than was conventionally polite.

Hermione, however, stared back up the staircase. "He turned us into Smurfs!" she exclaimed. "How did he even… Does he actually watch Muggle cartoons?" she wondered aloud.

"Mightn't want to think about it too much," Draco Malfoy said, tugging her past the impatient gargoyles and leading her down the hallway. The others were well ahead of them already, but neither of them made an effort to catch up.

"Dumbledore didn't—"

"I was wondering if—"

They both laughed, and Draco gestured for her to speak first.

"That was quite the experience," she said, suddenly reluctant to ask the question she'd started to blurt out only seconds earlier. After all, out of all of the Slytherins she'd been cursed with, she'd interacted with Malfoy with the least. And they had the most history, the most name-calling, the most injuries, the most wand-fights…

Draco seemed to reconsider his words as well, and merely smiled politely instead of repeating the question she'd interrupted. They walked in silence down to the Great Hall, and then past it as Hermione turned down the corridor that would lead to the Gryffindor tower. Draco should have turned off shortly after the Great Hall if he were heading to the dungeons, but he hadn't, and Hermione couldn't decide what he was playing at. He seemed friendly enough, but…

When she put her foot on the first step of the staircase, he broke the uneasy silence.

"I was wondering if you'd like to walk with me on the Hogsmeade trip."

Hermione's eyes widened and she spun to face him, and he flushed under her intense scrutiny. "You—"

Draco waited patiently for her to continue, but she only waved a hand in frustration.

"You talked to me the least!" she finally said. "While we were cursed, that is." She thought back over their time as Smurfs, and remembered her last, unanswered, question for Dumbledore. "Was there a lesson for you, too?"

Draco shrugged, his composure already restored. "Maybe it didn't take long for me to realize that my hostilities were misplaced," he said, and while she was still trying to work out what that mean, he pressed on. "So. Hogsmeade."

Well, she thought, touching her perfectly restored chaotic hair, why not?

After all, the Slytherins weren't the only ones who'd learned a lesson about themselves.


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Author's Notes

Characters from the Harry Potter series are the property of J.K. Rowling. The Smurfs were first created and introduced as a series of comic characters by the Belgian comics artist Peyo (pen name of Pierre Culliford) in 1958. They are used without permission and not for profit.

Written for my wonderful and crazy DD#2 who requested a crossover between the Smurfs and Harry Potter. Only for you, my dear, would I do this. *grin*

Many thanks to my editor extraordinaire, Miss M. You are a grammar and graphics goddess. *hugs*

Graphics credits: Sparkly blue background from Smurfs images from film publicity stills. Cat is Microsoft clip art.

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