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dh2_sockpuppet in dh2_challenge

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Title: Between A Rock And A Hard Place
Characters and/or pairings: Assorted Slytherins.
Word count: ~1,700
Rating: PG13
Highlight for Warnings: *None*
Summary and/or prompt: Rehabilitating the “take the Slytherins to the dungeons” line.

“Come on, come on,” Filch muttered, as he led the Slytherin students out of the hall. “Mrs Norris doesn’t like the dungeons.”

“No one likes the dungeons very much at the moment,” said Theodore. “It isn’t comforting being back in the lair of the Carrows.” He poked Pansy with the tip of his wand, and she turned around warily. No one had touched her since they had left the Great Hall, just glared in her direction.

“What? I only said what everyone else was thinking.” Pansy pulled her robes tightly round her, and set her shoulders.

“Yes, but you said it a lot more loudly than anyone else.” Theodore pushed Malcolm out of the way, and held onto Pansy’s sleeve so she couldn’t wriggle away. “Any reason in particular you decided to yell it?”

Pansy looked at Theodore, and just for a second misery showed on her face. “I want this to be over, Theo. I want to go home. I want to have a home to go to.”

“You think it’s going to be any kind of home?” Theo asked, and grabbed Pansy’s hand. “I’d rather be here, surrounded by avada kedavra and cruciatus. My father’s out there. Somewhere. And I don’t want to join him.” Theo swallowed heavily. “I don’t want that mark, slithering on my skin. I don’t want to hurt people. I want to go home.” He tightened his grip on Pansy’s hand, and lowered his voice so he was whispering, threateningly, in her ear. “But mark my words, Pansy, we can’t go home. For that dream, we’d have to travel in fucking time. So, we need to sort this.”

Pansy leaned away from Theodore, and looked him in the eyes. She could see how scared he was, and how much he didn’t want any of this. “Yes. You’re right.”

Theo looked at her, and widened his eyes in astonishment. “The great Pansy Parkinson has admitted that someone else is right. Today just got even stranger.”

Pansy laughed hollowly. “Don’t go getting used to it.” She approximated a smile, and then held out her hands. “How?”

“I don’t know,” Theodore admitted. “But I think it’s house meeting time.”

“Right, you lot,” Filch grumbled as they arrived at the passage-door. “Get in there. And don’t cause any trouble. I don’t want to have to come down here again.”

Theodore let go of Pansy’s hand after squeezing it, reassuringly, and then pushed past her so he could catch up with Millicent. “Mill, can I have a word?”

“What?” Millicent said, as she flicked her wand at the fire to set it roaring. “I’m a bit busy. Someone needs to reassure the firsties that they aren’t going to die.”

“About that, actually,” Theodore said, and accio-ed the tea tray over to the side of the fire. “We probably are. I mean, not now. The dungeon is safe as … well, a dungeon, but we’re either going to get caught in a load of cross-fire, or our parents are going to kill us.”

Millicent laughed, sharply. “Your father might. My parents are in hiding.”

Theodore inwardly cursed himself. “Sorry, Mill. I always forget.” He patted her awkwardly on the shoulder, and then took back his hand when he saw her looking at it like it might burn through her robes.

Millicent sighed. “Just … go and round up the first years for me. We’ll get them settled with a hot drink, and then I’ll come and talk to you. From the way Pansy’s haranguing Baddock, it looks important.”

“It is,” Theodore said over his shoulder, and then made his way through the common room to the huddle of scared-looking students by the lake window. “Come on, you lot. There’s tea and cake over there.”


“Let me get this straight,” Astoria said, curling her lip. “You want us to leave the safety of the dungeon and go and fight in a war on the opposite side to most of our families?”

“Yes,” Theodore said, and looked pleadingly at Millicent. “I know it doesn’t sound very appealing.”

“Appealing!” Daphne laughed. “You’re right, Theo. It doesn’t.” She turned to face Millicent and held out her hand. “Come on, Mill, you can’t possibly think this is a good idea.”

“I think it’s a rubbish idea,” Millicent said glumly. “We’ll probably all die. But look, Daphne, my parents are in hiding from this war. They sent me back here because they thought it would be safer, and now the war is on our doorstep. I want them to have something to come back to.”

“That’s all I want as well,” Pansy said quietly.

“You?” Daphne said, stony-faced. “You’re the reason we’re all locked in this dungeon together. You and your big stupid mouth.”

Pansy blinked rapidly and swallowed. “I know. I wasn’t thinking, Daphne. I just wanted it all to be over. I wanted to go home. Back to my nice, normal, comfortable life.” She ran her fingers under her eyes to catch some tears, and sniffed. “I hoped that it might end everything sooner.”

Harper glowered at Pansy and rolled his eyes. “We aren’t actually locked in,” he said. “Even Filch isn’t stupid enough to lock students in the dungeons. Apparently we have to stay here for honour.”

Daphne sniffed. “Well, that’s something at least.” She rummaged through the pockets of her cloak and found a handkerchief. “Dry your eyes, you stupid sniffing witch.”

Pansy took the handkerchief. “I know everyone hates me right now. I can hear. No one ever remembers that whispers carry in this place.” She wiped her eyes and looked around the dungeon. “But I’m not the only person who wants this to be over.”

“You’re an idiot,” Millicent said, and pulled Pansy into a rough hug. “Are you an idiot with a plan?”

“Maybe.” Pansy sniffled into Millicent’s shoulder. “It’s not a very good plan though.”


“This is possibly the worst plan, in the world,” Graham said, under his voice to Malcolm. “Leave the dungeon, go to the Great Hall and prepare bandages? Not very action-filled, is it.”

Malcolm stared at him. “You know what? I’m okay with a lack of action. If you can’t hear it, that noise is weapon-spelling being aimed at the castle. I’m fine with bandages if I’m not the one in them.”

“Wuss,” Graham sneered, and stomped over to try and reason with Millicent. Judging from the small shake of her head, and shove back in the direction of Malcolm, it hadn’t had any effect.

“That went well then,” Malcolm said, and carried on piling blankets onto the table.

“Shut it, Baddock,” Graham said scowling.


“Madam Pomfrey!” Daphne called. “Madam Pomfrey!” She poked her head around the door to the infirmary, and stomped her foot when she saw it was empty. “Oh good. Now what? Go and get Madam Pomfrey to help they said, she’ll know what to bring they said. Do I look like a nurse?”

“No, but you would look fetching in the uniform.” Daphne jumped in fright and then glared as she saw Vaisey lounging against the doorframe. “You,” she snarled. “Always hanging around, aren’t you.”

“Just wondering what you’re doing,” Vaisey said and peeled himself off the frame. “It all looks very civic-minded of you. But that’s not your general modus operandi, is it, Daphne?”

“Let it go, Vaisey,” Daphne said as she stood in the middle of the infirmary. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. But I don’t think this is the time to be having this conversation.”

“No?” Vaisey said, “I think it’s the perfect time. Nothing like the threat of imminent death to bring the truth to the fore.”

“You want to know the truth?” Daphe said, and whirled around, her hands on her hips. “Okay, here’s the truth, Adelbert Vaisey. You are a slimy, irritating, good-for-nothing idiot. Your family is absolutely nothing special, and you’re only competent at Charms no matter what you tell yourself. And if you aren’t going to make yourself useful and carry things, you can go and put yourself in front of Voldemort.”

Vaisey stepped back, and blinked. “Don’t hold back, Daphs, will you.”

Daphne shook her wand out of her sleeve. “Don’t call me Daphs. If I have told you once, I have told you a thousand times. My name is Daphne. Now, unless you want me to petrificus you and leave you here, you will help me.”


“Excuse me, Professor Sinistra,” Millicent said, and tried to steady herself as the floor shook.

“Yes, Bulstrode?” Professor Sinistra said, as she aimed her wand at the sky. “What do you want?”

“We want to help,” Millicent said, and flicked her wand to stop a bottle of dittany from smashing to pieces. “We don’t want to hide in the dungeons.”

Professor Sinistra turned around, and pushed her glasses back up her nose. Slowly she nodded, “And of course you can’t go and fight for Voldemort, because your mother is Muggle-born, and most of the others can’t go and fight against him because they would be opposing their parents.”

“Yes,” Millicent said. “But … we have enough emergency first aid equipment to stock St. Mungo’s in our common room, and Daphne’s gone to go and get more from the infirmary. Having the Carrows around has made us all better at healing spells.”

Professor Sinistra smiled sadly. “I imagine it has. Believe me, we never wanted to let them loose on anyone.”

“We know,” Millicent said, and turned to face Professor Sinistra head-on. “So, are we allowed to help?”


“Quickly, quickly,” Professor McGonagall half-ran into the Great Hall, “we need to get the portable beds ready. There are injured people out there.” She stopped, suddenly, and looked around. “Oh, Poppy, I didn’t know you were already on with this.”

“I wasn’t.” Madam Pomfrey gestured at the Slytherins who were dashing around behind her. “They were.”

Professor McGonagall sniffed, and smiled softly in the direction of Millicent, who nudged Pansy’s shoulder. Pansy looked across and smiled, apologetically. And then Professor McGonagall was heading back out of the Hall, and Pansy returned to practicing the correct flick for a mass tergeo.


I love this.

The "send them to the dungeons" moment really bugged me in the movie, and here you've made something wonderful from it.
Fantastic. Usually I adore McGonagall, so I was terribly disappointed by her tarring all the Slytherins with the same traitorous brush in the film. It was lovely to see this showing how the various Slytherins really felt, and that they would not all have had the same reactions.
Canon has always taken too black-and-white a stance toward the Slytherins, and I was sorry to see Minerva do so in the film. This story makes me feel much better! Of course everyone's reactions would be complex and varied, as you show here.
Thank you so much! This has been the most annoying line in the movie for me - completely against the spirit of canon... and then to come from Minerva *sigh* I am so glad you could come up with a satisfying follow-up on it!!
This is exactly what happened! *loves* :D
Thank you for redeeming the Slytherins. I hate that they were all given such a bad rap in the movie. At least in the books they're allowed the chance of vindication :)
There were two lines in DH2 which really bothered me: Minerva's 'take the Slytherins to the dungeons' and Dumbledore's 'help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who *deserve* it.' Neither of those two lines had any place in this film and I was so glad to see at least one of them addressed. Thank you for taking a moment which was far too simplistically dealt with and painting it in realistic shades of grey and in a way that is so much more satisfying than the easy Gryffindor = good, Slytherin = bad trope the filmmakers chose.

Edited at 2011-08-05 11:49 pm (UTC)
Interesting film missing moment - after all the trait of cunning doesn't have to be a bad thing, it's what you do with it that matters.
Wonderful! Thank you for writing it. After all, the "bravest man we've ever known" (the hero of the story) was a Slytherin.
I'm sure there were many in other Houses who were thinking the same thing. How terrifying for anyone, let alone children, to be in the middle of any war, but one in which family members were on the other side must have been doubly horrible.

Excellent story - thank you!
This is lovely, thank you so much!
Brilliant missing scene - thank you - and for helping Pansy redeem herself in a very believable manner.
Such a great and utterly believable take on that moment - one of the most annoying from the whole movie.

Very well done. And I love the wry, snarky style of your Slytherins.
And thank you for portraying the Slytherins as real people with real hopes and fears instead of as two-dimensional cardboard cut-out thugs. *sigh*
I was very disappointed with movie!MInerva for that.
Nicely done. :)
You've done a wonderful job redeeming the Slytherins, and turning them into full fledged and distinct characters. But I think my favorite fix-it moment in the story is the fact that Filch leaves the dungeon unlocked. Phew! Of course they were placed down there for safety and not as captives. It all makes sense now.
Excellent! They wouldn't be Slytherins if there wasn't bickering, a few threats, and plenty of self-interest, but I love this longterm POV on what self-interest means in wartime.
YAY, I'm so very glad someone fixed that line!
Apparently we have to stay here for honour.


This is such a gorgeous, varied look at a much maligned group of people. You make me want to know more about all of them. And the ending is lovely!
Very, very good!
That line annoyed me a lot, in the movie.
I'm putting this in my summer favorites list.

August 2011



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