Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling and associates. The stage version of Phantom of the Opera belongs to Andrew Lloyd Webber and associates. Baz Luhrman, as far as I know, belongs to himself, along with all his works. Gaston Leroux's works are in public domain.
Author's note: PWP-ers might want to skip to Chapter 21.
Havoc of the Opera
Chapter 1 - The Announcement
The staff and students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were gathered in the Great Hall, striving to show their heartiest disapproval of the Headmaster's latest folly. Professor Dumbledore had just finished his annual welcoming speech, warning the students of the usual dangers and introducing them to this year's program of studies. The students were not pleased.
'In light of recent events, and in face of the need to improve interhouse relationships, it has been decided that, this year, your ability to work in groups will be evaluated,' the Headmaster had begun, 'As such, several activities have been discussed, according to your respective years, ages and general knowledge. Each group will comprise members of different houses.' At this point, he had pulled out a scroll, listing the activities for which they ought to ready. 'Sixth years: a production must be rehearsed for a mid-December performance. In two days' time, you shall be given a short list from which to choose the text you would prefer to stage. There are, however, a few rules,' he added, as Ravenclaw hands shot into the air, 'Students and teachers shall work together – whether as members of the cast or crew is a decision for each group.'
The scowls of several teachers deepened to match the students', as McGonagall added that, due to their sheer number, they would have to be split in two groups; Gryffindor would work with Slytherin, and Ravenclaw would work with Hufflepuff. She did not look pleased.
Ignoring the subtle groaning everywhere, Dumbledore resumed his speech. 'Should you endorse the aid of someone from outside your group or year, please do not forget that it will be a permanent change and that no project can proceed at the expense of another. As such, you must approach the staff with a formal request for a guest – our word on the matter will be final. All teachers, heads of House included, may join either group, regardless of their own Houses.'
The displeasure was now audible - the Hufflepuffs were intimidated of working with the intellectually superior Ravenclaws; the Ravenclaws feared a lowering of standards for the Hufflepuffs' sake; the Gryffindors would join the Death Eaters rather than the Slytherins; the Slytherins reciprocated the feeling.
Completely undisturbed by the general wariness, Dumbledore described the activity and working conditions assigned to the seventh year, addressing all students with a final statement, 'You may discuss your assignments for a few minutes before leaving for your dormitories, if you so wish. You might also want to be quick in choosing the teachers with whom you wish to work. You heavily outnumber our staff, and some assignments will demand undivided attention. Your decisions on these matters will reflect strongly on your marks. Any questions?'
A few Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws were already dragging the two central tables together to discuss their assignments properly, and glimpses of contentment here and there denounced the hope that this peculiar interaction with the teachers might even be fun. If worst came to worst, there would be equal blames to assign, and that, at least, sounded promising.
But both Gryffindor and Slytherin remained frozen, apparently still registering the news. The youngest members of both Houses looked at their glowering elders for instructions.
Padma Patil, a sixth year Ravenclaw, raised her arm. 'Headmaster, sir, if our play is to take up most of our head of House's free time, how can we -- I do wish to work with him...!' she clarified hastily, earning a thoroughly unoffended wave from Professor Flitwick. He rather liked the idea of working with his children. 'But he'll be supervising the other years' activities, as will every teacher we approach.'
It was Flitwick's squeaky voice that answered her. 'Miss Patil, the heads of House will supervise every single project, of every year, so the sixth years must understand that we're not at your sole disposal. We hope the other teachers won't be forgotten in your requests, for they will surely be more available than us.' Although he sounded supremely worried with the prospect of aiding hordes of students at a time, he added, 'But I'm sure that we'll be able to work around time and schedule constraints.'
Hermione's hand shot up. 'Professor,' she addressed her head of House “Are expected to put on a professional-level show? The Gryffindor and Slytherin schedules clash most of the timer, now, and we spend very little time together...' That, as far as the Gryffindors were concerned, was the best part of their freshly delivered post-OWL schedules.
McGonagall's answer only brought along more laments. 'You shall work on your assignments during your spare time, including weekends, for a minimum of two hours every day.'
The Quidditch teams rebelled. 'What about Quidditch? And our practice? Don't we matter?'
It was now Madam Hooch's turn to speak. 'On Saturday and Sunday mornings, the Quidditch players are allowed to skip interhouse work in order to practice. I suggest you assign the players smaller parts in your projects, or at least that you find potential replacements among freer classmates.'
Ron's eyes shone, seemingly prompting McGonagall to add, 'Still, we expect the Quidditch players will work as hard as their classmates. Bear in mind that evaluation is individual, and it will focus heavily on the amount of work due and done by each of you, as well as your commitment to the task. Anyone who tries to weasel out of the responsibility will answer to me,' she finished, with a scorching look. This time, no groans followed. Ron's face, along with several others, fell. Draco Malfoy, surrounded by his gang - that is, most of the Slytherin sixth year – had been fuming since the announcement had begun.
Blaise Zabini, the first Slytherin to speak up, addressed Dumbledore. 'Headmaster, how do we deal with this if the assigned groups simply can't manage to work together?'
Dumbledore's eyes roamed all tables before he answered casually, 'Well, the tasks have been devised to help you work together. I'm afraid those unable to “manage” that, even for a better mark, will have to “deal” with losing half of it. Of the mark, I mean.'
Hermione looked so horrified that she seemed ready to befriend Lord Voldemort himself in exchange for her perfect record. Ron followed her as she walked resolutely up to the Slytherins. Harry accompanied them, wondering how a show would help him get along with the Death Eaters In Training. Seamus and Neville got to their feet, and then their whole year followed them across the Hall. The Slytherins, having half-heartedly conjured a longer bench for them, began to welcome their new workmates. Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle didn't budge.
Hermione, ignoring Pansy Parkinson's pointed jibes, had already introduced herself and a few others to a group of sixth years who had been gracious enough to stand.
'...if our classes end at the same time, we could schedule the rehearsals... say, from five to eight every day?' she was suggesting. Blaise Zabini pointed out that three-hour-long rehearsals would leave them no time for homework. She was slightly taken aback.
'Well, we do have a lot to do for the performance, and with detentions and whatnot, we're bound to have people arriving late or leaving early...'
'...and this way we might manage to keep everyone there at least for two full hours, I see. Perhaps if we make it clear that it's a compulsory two-hour rehearsal plus an extra hour for warm-ups and the like?'
As others timidly joined their discussion, Malfoy raised his glare from Ginny – she and Dean Thomas were prattling happily with a third year Slytherin they both knew - and said in a loud, bored voice. 'I suggest you don't forget we need teachers in this thing and they have different schedules. By the way, we want Professor Snape to be part of this, er... this.'
Ron glared at him. 'Do we, now?'
'Also, you'd do well to remember several of us are Quidditch players,' Draco gave Ron a dirty look, plainly showing what he thought of his Quidditch skills, 'and we need time for practice.'
Hermione huffed. 'You've just been given free weekend mornings, Malfoy, and if you think we're about to jeopardise our classes and the performance so that you can play with your broomstick...' An indignant choir of players, which Harry didn't bother to join, drowned her voice.
When they quieted down, Malfoy continued, 'The teachers know absolutely nothing about Quidditch. Two mornings a week is a warm-up, not practice. Madam Hooch will be the first to demand more commitment, as soon as season begins.'
Hermione glared at Ron, who was about to open his mouth, and only did so after backing away a little. 'Erm...you know, he has a point, Hermione. Two mornings is... we'll need a full afternoon, at least, and a few more hours every week. It's the Quidditch Cup, Hermione, that's important for us, too,' he finished, seemingly unfazed by his own defence of Malfoy's point.
Harry, who had been scowling since the early mention of Professor Snape, furrowed his brow even more deeply and remained quiet. Hermione, however didn't. 'And what do you propose to do? Inform the teachers that we can't fit their rehearsals in our tight schedule and perhaps suggest they go bother someone who has more time to spare?'
'It would be amusing to tell them that in those exact terms, with your best regards, Granger, but I happen to treasure my marks. So I suggest we remind the teachers that we have very busy days, and request rehearsals from nine to midnight, and weekend rehearsals from three to ten. That should give us some free time during the week.' Malfoy sat with a smug expression, glaring indifferently at the Weasleys around.
Harry, in turn, glared at him, and an awkward mood settled, broken by Hermione and a pragmatic group, who analysed Malfoy's suggestion – Hermione disliked the prospect of requesting after-curfew rehearsals, others reminded her that they were old enough to make their way to bed unsupervised – until they were all ushered out.
Between their first classes of the year and assorted meetings, the next day passed quickly. The teachers were delighted with the odd vision of students waiting outside the other houses' classrooms to discuss stray points after class. It was strangely alluring to see Slytherins and Gryffindors talking in a civilised way, although the younger students seemed to be adapting more easily than their elders. Children up to the fourth year were escorting each other to their respective classes, albeit stiffly, but hardly any sixth and seventh years mirrored their behaviour. Only Hermione and Blaise (now regarded by the Gryffindors as a male, Slytherin, version of her) kept the news flowing, transmitting interhouse messages and drafting an official letter, to be delivered to the Headmaster that evening.
So far, it had been decided that both McGonagall and Snape would be part of their project, though their exact capacity was of yet unknown. The Slytherins had unanimously refused to do without their head of House, and the Gryffindors couldn't even think of facing Snape without McGonagall's presence.
This prompted Harry to seriously consider failing the subject, but Hermione set him straight with a glare so scathing that he instead focused on defending the guest spot to which the Slytherins objected the most.
'And why, pray tell, do we need another Weasley?' Malfoy had scorned.
'Our female quota is good enough that we don't need to scour the lower-- years.' Pansy Parkinson had piped in.
'Oh, we'll need to scour them well for girls who won't feel tainted by your company,' Ron snapped back, scribbling Ginnys name on their improvised guest list. Malfoy didn't bother to defend his girlfriend.
Such was the tenor of the day's discussions. By dinnertime, Madam Pomfrey had provided most students with potions and charms to ease the migraines. Some, who had mentioned the possibility of '...being sent to Azkaban', were granted a Draught of Peace. All in all, they arrived at the Great Hall unscathed.
Dinner was uneventful. An enormous amount of letters had been poured by four Houses onto the Headmaster's plate. Dumbledore spent half his meal unscrolling them and pointing out the odd passage to the staff. With Flitwick, Hooch and Sprout as honourable exceptions, the teachers weren't quite as excited as he.
'Very well, then,' he said, 'We're glad to see you taking your tasks so seriously.' Harry squinted and he thought he could see steam coming out of Malfoy's ears. 'As well as enjoying them!' Malfoy was surely trying to kill the Headmaster with a glare. It had to be the first time in his life, but Harry silently wished him good luck.
'Tomorrow night, we shall share our decisions on your requests, and give you new information, such as the list of books for the first years' essays, the list of texts for the sixth years...' Dumbledore rambled on about all that they would be learning the next day, which Harry found a tremendous waste of time, and they were finally dismissed. Barely a day had passed, and the year ahead already looked too long.
The second day, too, was unremarkable. First class was Double Potions, and Neville, whose bravery and mind still ran off together whenever in the same room as Snape, was still aquiver when they entered the Transfigurations classroom. Why Snape had taken him in for NEWTs level was a mystery. The common assumption was that the man needed someone new to vent at, now that he had taken to pretending that Harry was invisible. As for himself, Harry was sure Snape's goodwill wasn't the reason he was still attending Potions. His impeccable 'O' Potions OWL positively reeked of Dumbledore's influence.
McGonagall's lecture rang in his ears long after class had ended. But what fault did he have that his tiny bat had chosen to dive into a cauldron instead of turning into one?
History of Magic provided them with a welcome nap after lunch. Harry only wished Hermione would stop gossiping with Blaise over the windowsill of the ground floor room. It was hard to sleep with Ron swearing every five minutes.
Charms was quite regular. After a dozen tries, everybody was still doeing everything wrong, whereas Hermione had perfected the new charm in her very first attempt.
Dinner was served in the Great Hall, where now sat two very large tables instead of the usual set of four. Hermione virtually bounced with curiosity and, this time, a few anxious faces mirrored hers. But Dumbledore made them wait until after dessert to tell them all they needed to know, and possibly quite a bit more.
'...Sixth years, we have analysed your requests, and I must say I only recall seeing you so committed to a task when you were disrupting the existence of your former Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers -- which reminds me of this anecdote--' McGonagall coughed lightly. 'Erm... yes, well... let's start with the Ravenclaws and the Hufflepuffs, then. Professors Flitwick and Sprout have accepted your invitation.' The two Houses beamed. 'and Professors Hooch, McGonagall and Binns are at your disposal if further cooperation is needed. Miss Bones, as for your request for magical creatures... due to the uncertainty of their behaviour in captivity, do try to do without them.' Susan blushed crimson and sank into her seat.
'By the way, Professor McGonagall, is Professor Hagrid still having trouble preventing our large host of animal friends from taking a stroll inside the castle? I really don't know how the children can be expected to get rid of them, should they take to a particular room...' Dumbledore heaved a deep sigh and winked at poor Susan, who smiled timidly back and straightened herself a little.
'Mr Boot, I can't see why you are so sure broomsticks will be needed, but should you use them – I now address you all – you must place a protective charm around the audience seats. Every time a student flies in the Great Hall, people end up in the hospital wing with broomsticks stuck in the oddest places. Most uncomfortable, that.'
Now turning to his left, Dumbledore adressed the Gryffindors and the Slytherins, who were stiff in their seats, awkwardly attempting casual conversation. Malfoy glared at Ginny's hair. 'Ahem. Likewise, your heads of House have accepted your invitation, and Professors Flitwick, Sinistra, Hagrid,' Half the Slytherins scowled. 'and Hooch will be at your disposal. We see no problem in inviting Miss Weasley to join you – we can't, however, say the same of young Mr Creevey. I'm afraid he and his ever-present camera,' Colin flushed. 'will be quite vital for the fifth years' graphic exposition.' Colin flushed again, this time with pleasure. 'So far, so good. Now... about those late-night rehearsals...'
'Late-night?!' Pansy mouthed soundlessly. 'Nine o'clock is “late-night”?! That old coot!' Hermione glowered at her with an eerily know-it-all look. Of course the Headmaster wouldn't let them wander around the halls so late.
'We aren't entirely comfortable with the idea of you, any of you, alone in the halls at night. Still, we appreciate your efforts in accommodating all your other commitments and the rehearsals, and we will accept your timetable under a few security conditions...'
He had to stop because the two Houses were cheering too loudly. The younger students gazed at the sixth years with deep envy, and even the seventh years looked slightly jealous. Hermione was thoroughly shocked. They were allowed to break curfew? Ron nudged her, beaming for the first time since the play talks had begun, Blaise winked at her, granting her the second shock of the evening, and even Malfoy put on a ghost of a smile – although his steadfast glare at Ginny gave it a rather disturbing aura.
'A-he-hem,' the headmaster called, 'Such enthusiasm. I'm glad. Now, about those security conditions without which there will be absolutely-no-nightly-rehearsals...' They regained some composure, still nudging each other under the table. There was no memory of students formally allowed to be out of their dormitories at night, let alone of the staff making arrangements for it.
'The corridors and adjacencies can be rather dangerous at night, and those who haven't yet heeded this warning must do so now more than ever. Students are not to wander alone through the corridors. Miss Granger, Miss Parkinson, Mr Malfoy and Mr Weasley have all been made prefects last year and one of them, at least, will accompany his or her colleagues in and out of the rehearsal room.' The latter three groaned. 'So do try to arrive or leave in groups, rather than alone. Ideally, in fact, two of you would accompany your colleagues, but you will soon be in drowining in work, and one might be all you can spare.'
Malfoy crossed his arms and transferred his glare to Dean Thomas. 'No rule can possibly make me act as a nanny for you lot, just so you know.'
Hermione threw him a murderous glance. “Don't worry, Draco, if you're scared of walking people around on your own, we'll all go with you, and make you feel safer.'
'I beg your pardon?'
'Well, you seem incapable of taking a step without your cronies, so we figured you'd feel better with us around. Everything for your comfort,' she added acidly, turning her back to him.
Before he could retort, Dumbledore spoke up again, listing the texts that the staff had selected for them. Predictably, the Gryffindors found the list too short, and the Slytherins thought it was too Muggle-infested. It included a political play, Manuel Puig's Kiss of the Spider Woman, a musical, the stage adaptation of 'the French wizard Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera, and a number of works known only to a very select group.
'And lastly, one for the courageous only,' Dumbledore chirped, in a tone that boded nothing good. 'A former student of ours, who chose to forgo what would doubtlessly have been a brilliant career in the Department of International Magic Cooperation for a new and exciting life as a film maker among the muggles, has recently informed me of his newest project. I found it very interesting, and he graciously allowed us to use his text for this specific endeavour. Therefore, those of you who are sufficienly brave might want to tackle the script for Moulin Rouge!'
Hermione pointed out that the list was of a rather adult nature, but no one paid attention to her; the muggleborns were attempting to introduce the purebloods to the concepts of 'musical', 'script' and 'film maker'.
After a short discussion, Malfoy informed them that they were performing The Phantom of the Opera, and that the matter was closed.
'Why?' Ron grumbled. 'You like it? Then I don't want it.'
'Never heard of it,' Malfoy smirked, 'but a wizard who didn't desert his own kin wrote it, so we're picking that one.' He crossed his arms and looked around defiantly.
Ron's mouth was open already, but Harry put a hand on his shoulder and gave his very first input for the project. 'Let's just get this over with. Whatever keeps them happy. Who cares which text we stage, anyway? Can't get much worse than this.' He gazed grimly at the staff table, from where Snape was surveying their discussion, looking almost as sour as Harry. They locked glares for a moment.
Hermione rubbed her temples. 'Ok, then, if everyone agrees, we're staging Phantom. Personally, I think it's the best option, I just hope the other group doesn't choose it, too.'
'What if they do?' Malfoy asked, now glaring at the other table over the top of Ginny's head. 'They'll just have to unchoose it.'
In the meantime, the Ravenclaws and the Hufflepuffs were excitedly discussing their choices.
'We can't choose this one, there are babies in it--'
'We could de-age people--'
'Really large cast--'
'We could use holograms...'
'What's that?' a pureblood asked.
'It's a bit like a hallucination...'
'There's a dwarf in Moulin Rouge!, Professor Flitwick could play him!'
'What if they choose it first?'
A few minutes later, Dumbledore made himself heard again. 'Have you all made your choices? Miss Brocklehurst?' he demanded, turning to the table on his right.
Mandy Brocklehurst stammered for a moment, surprised to be addressed by the headmaster, and Lisa Turpin shouted excitedly, 'Moulin Rouge!', lowering her voice immediately, 'Erm. We would like to stage Moulin Rouge!, if there's no problem, headmaster.'
'None at all, Miss Turpin.' He turned to the left. 'You?'
'We have decided to stage The Phantom of the Opera, sir.'
'Very well,' he beamed. 'If my memory does not trick me, tomorrow there are no classes in the afternoon . I suggest you use it for your first auditions. You have chosen two character-heavy plays, and I dare predict many headaches ahead.'
A few students exchanged worried looks, but the general mood was now of optimism and defiance.
'I imagine that by Friday night you'll have a clearer idea of the materials you will need. We will provide you with them,' Avid looks were exchanged, 'within reason, of course.' Faces fell. 'Material will be brought in from outside of the school only if absolutely necessary. We don't want to dampen one group's ambitions due to the other's better resources,' he concluded, looking intently at a certain blond Slytherin.
'Now, seventh years...'
Fifteen minutes later, they were dismissed. Blaise walked the Gryffindors upstairs, chatting with Hermione on the way, until the Gryffindors let him know that from a particular flight of stairs up, no non-Gryffindors were allowed. Blaise stopped and waited for Neville, who had walked a few Slytherins back to the dungeons, along with Seamus and Dean. Meanwhile, in the common room, Ron was telling Harry about how he really, really didn't like Blaise.
Return to Archive | next