Johnny the Wonder Muggle (Part 2 of 2)
‘Johnny The Wonder Muggle, and His Amazing Adventures With The Television Set,’ read Snape, slowly and sarcastically. He looked down his hooked nose at Harry with an expression of pure condescendence. ‘Oh Potter, not more of your pathetic scribblings,’ he said, looking at the parchment as if it was a fresh pile of dragon dung. His snide remark caused a wave of stifled laughter from the Slytherin tables, and Snape allowed it to go on for a few seconds before gesturing for silence.
‘I…’ began Harry.
‘Do you honestly think people have the slightest bit of interest in what you have to say about Muggles, Potter?’ asked Snape, still looking at Harry as if he was something unpleasant on the sole of his shoe.
‘Well, people seem to like them, professor,’ said Harry, meekly.
‘What did you say?’ demanded Snape, his harsh eyes flashing, and his expression turning from condescending pity to flustered outrage.
‘I just said that people seem to like my stories, professor,’ repeated Harry. Snape stood there silently for a second or two, before his eyes narrowed once again.
‘I’m sure they are just laughing at the absurdity of Muggle life,’ he said, walking back towards his desk, the parchment still in his hand. He sat back down and placed the parchment in front of him, fixing Harry once again with his withering stare. ‘And rest assured Potter, I will be informing the Headmaster of this.’ His lips curled back again into the familiar sneer that indicated he was truly enjoying himself. ‘I’m sure Professor Dumbledore will be most interested to learn that famous Harry Potter has been distributing such disturbing propaganda throughout the school.’
‘But…’ began Harry, ready to protest his innocence.
‘Disturbing propaganda,’ continued Snape. ‘That falsely glamorises the Muggle world and encourages people of a magical persuasion to seek out and maybe even befriend Muggles; a dangerous business indeed.’ Harry stared at Snape for a few seconds, wondering if he was talking about the same story that Harry had written, as he had certainly not put any of that stuff in his story.
‘Professor, I…’ began Harry.
‘And,’ said Snape, raising his voice over Harry’s. ‘If you continue to disrupt my lesson, I will take fifty points from Gryffindor house and you will find yourself in detention. Is that what you want?’
‘No, professor,’ said Harry, sulkily.
‘Very well then,’ said Snape, satisfied that he had raked Harry over the coals enough for now. ‘So I would ask you to not pedal your seditious literature in my class, and with your kind permission, might I be permitted to continue?’
‘Yes, professor,’ said Harry, even more sulkily.
‘Thank you,’ smiled Snape, nastily.
The rest of the lesson was about as unpleasant as double Potions with the Slytherins could get. Snape took every opportunity he could to make fun of Harry, and Malfoy was always on hand to laugh derisively at each spiteful jibe. By the time class let out Harry could not get out of the dungeon fast enough. He did not even bother asking Snape for his story back, as he knew full well Snape would use it as an excuse to humiliate him further. Once out in the corridor Ron jogged to catch up with Harry, who was storming along at rapid speed.
‘Harry, wait up,’ called Ron, picking his way through the busy corridor. Harry turned and looked at Ron, but kept on walking. Eventually Ron caught Harry up and started walking with him down the corridor. ‘He’s just jealous,’ said Ron.
‘Who is?’ asked Harry.
‘Snape. He just can’t stand the fact that people like your stories.’
‘Well it doesn’t matter now, does it?’ said Harry, as he continued to walk briskly down the corridor.
‘What do you mean?’ asked Ron, trying his best to keep up with Harry.
‘He’s going to tell Dumbledore isn’t he?’
‘So, don’t you get it?’ said Harry, slowing down slightly. ‘You heard what he called my stories; he’ll say the exact same thing to Dumbledore.’
‘Oh,’ said Ron.
The rest of the day passed without incident, save for the occasional sarcastic remark from Malfoy and assorted Slytherins, but at dinner Dumbledore stood up and beckoned for quiet, as the plates were magically being wiped clean. Harry’s heart sank; Dumbledore was going to decry his writing in front of the whole school. He looked over at Snape, who was looking extremely pleased with himself, and Harry instantly knew that he had made good on his threat. He had taken Harry’s story to the Headmaster and accused it of being propaganda, and by the look of things Dumbledore had believed him.
‘It has been brought to my attention,’ said Dumbledore, looking out into a sea of faces. ‘That a certain brand of literature has been circulating around the school.’ Harry watched as Snape’s self-satisfied smirk grew into a wide, evil grin and he shuddered at the thought of what Snape must have said to Dumbledore.
‘The git,’ hissed Ron. ‘He went straight to Dumbledore didn’t he? Just look at him, sitting up there.’ Harry’s intense gaze kept flitting from Snape to Dumbledore and back to Snape, wondering what was about to happen.
‘Therefore,’ continued Dumbledore. ‘I would like to see Harry Potter in my office straight away.’ He did not sit down; instead he walked out from behind the staff table and left the Great Hall. Harry watched him go, and as soon as he had left Snape stood up and fixed his twinkling black eyes on the Gryffindor table.
‘Get going Potter,’ he called, barely able to contain his sense of satisfaction. ‘You don’t want to keep the Headmaster waiting now, do you?’ Harry stood up slowly and began making his way out of the Great Hall. He could hear sniggers and hushed conversation coming from the Slytherin table as he trudged unhappily towards the Entrance Hall. As he approached the door he heard Malfoy cry over the noise of the crowd.
‘Oi Potter, don’t forget to write,’ he shouted, causing uproarious laughter to erupt from the Slytherin table. Harry just carried on walking, determined to not even give them the satisfaction of knowing that he heard them. All the way to Dumbledore’s office Harry’s mind raced with a thousand thoughts at once. He was extremely angry that Snape had ridiculed him and his writing, but now he was more upset that Professor Dumbledore seemed to have believed the no doubt grossly exaggerated story that Snape must have fed him. Harry thought he had a friend in Dumbledore; he had certainly stuck up for him enough times in the past, why turn on him now? It just did not make sense. Without realising it, Harry had walked himself all the way to the stone gargoyle outside of Dumbledore’s office; he was that preoccupied that the journey seemed to have taken next to no time at all.
‘Cockroach cluster,’ he said, gloomily, and watched as the gargoyle sprang to life and jumped obediently out of his way, revealing the staircase that lead to the Headmasters office. Harry climbed each step slower and slower, until he was trudging his way up the staircase as if it were made of treacle. He eventually arrived at the office door, took a deep breath, and knocked three times.
‘Come in,’ said Dumbledore’s voice from the other side of the door. Harry turned the handle and stepped inside the as always impressive looking office. Fawkes the phoenix looked up from its perch and tilted its head at Harry. Dumbledore, however, was not looking at him; he was looking at something on his desk. After an excruciating second or two, Dumbledore looked up and fixed Harry with his steely blue eyes.
‘Ah Harry, do sit down,’ he said, smiling brightly. Harry did as he was told and sat in front of the large desk. Dumbledore regarded Harry over the top of his half moon glasses, his bushy white eyebrows raised. Harry was starting to feel rather uncomfortable, as of he was expected to say something, and Dumbledore seemed to sense this unease.
‘Now Harry, don’t be frightened,’ said Dumbledore, smiling once again. ‘I just called you in here to have a brief chat.’ He picked up a piece of parchment from off his desk and Harry instantly recognised it as his story. All manner of terrifying possibilities stampeded through Harry’s mind as to what Dumbledore was going to say, what he was going to do. Once again Harry dreaded to think what Snape could have told him.
‘This was brought to me this afternoon by Professor Snape,’ said Dumbledore, taking Harry’s pause as cue to continue. ‘He claims it to be insidious propaganda designed to illicit unwarranted relations with those of the Muggle world.’ Harry felt his stomach churn, he had no idea what Dumbledore was going to do about his writing but it couldn’t be good. He sat there, awaiting the inevitable punishment or reprimand that would effectively end his short lived writing career forever.
‘It’s very good,’ said Dumbledore, still smiling. Harry looked up to see nothing but sincerity in the eyes of the Hogwarts Headmaster.
‘I was wondering if you could possibly sign a copy for me,’ said Dumbledore, sounding almost embarrassed. All traces of unease and wariness evaporated from Harry in an instance and a huge smile creased his now happy face.
‘Of course, professor,’ he said, reaching into his bag for his quill.