Beta love: glittergrrrl05 (If you haven't read her stuff, you should go do that now. Paint Her Black will wait for you.)
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and the HP universe are the property of JKR and her assigns. I receive no monetary compensation from the writing and posting of this flight of fancy.
7th Floor Corridor
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Sirius finally made his move, gently herding Mary backwards towards the wall. He leaned down from his greater height and captured her lips with his. It was everything he'd imagined it would be.
A unwelcome, drawling voice interrupted this most beautiful of kisses. "Well, well, well, what have we here? Two Gryffindors out past curfew."
Sirius broke the kiss and rested his forehead on Mary's. He knew that voice. "Bugger off, Regulus."
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Sirius. I'm a Prefect. It's going to be twenty points from Gryffindor – Each. Out past curfew, snogging a Mud –" His voice cut off abruptly as Sirius struck like the snake he could have been.
"I know you will not be finishing that sentence, brother dear." Sirius growled as he dug his wand into the other wizard's throat.
Regulus's eyes widened as he felt the tip of Sirius's wand bruise his throat. "Sirius, she's just a filthy…."
"No, she is not, Regulus." He pressed his wand even deeper. "And you will apologize for even thinking such things."
"Sirius." Mary MacDonald's quiet voice penetrated the red haze fogging Sirius's brain. "It's fine. Let him go."
"Not until he apologizes." Sirius stared into Regulus's eyes impressing upon his brother just how determined he really was.
"Sirius, please." The witch laid a soft hand on his shoulder. Regulus's eyes flashed with some emotion that may have been gratitude, but it was so fleeting, neither Sirius nor Mary could fully identify it. However, that moment was enough for Sirius to come back to himself. He pushed his brother again, knocking Regulus's head against the wall, but withdrew his wand.
"Take the points, Reggie. But if you call Mary that disgusting name again, I won't hold back." He gathered Mary protectively under his arm and led her down the hall towards Gryffindor tower.
"Wait." Regulus's voice stopped in them in their tracks. "I won't take the points." The pair slowly turned to face him. "Mary, it's Mary MacDonald, isn't it?" At her nod, he continued. "I apologize for casting aspersions on your blood status. That was poorly done of me. It won't happen again." He turned swiftly, his robes billowing out behind him dramatically as he strode towards the staircase to the sixth floor.
The Forest of Dean
"I can't believe he left us, Harry," Hermione sobbed.
"Shh, shh, shh. It'll be alright." Harry turned on the wireless, and a slow, mournful tune poured out. "Dance with me, Hermione." He held her close, and gradually, Hermione felt the warmth of his body seep into her very bones. Harry would never leave her, no more than she'd ever leave him.
"We'll be okay; we'll get through this, Hermione." Harry said no more as they swayed to the rhythm of the music. As the music segued into a more romantic tune, Harry pulled back and looked Hermione in her eyes, asking for permission. At her small nod, he leaned forward and kissed her softly, gently on the lips. His tongue teased at her mouth, tempting her to open, and when she did, he swept inside. Hermione had been kissed before, but Harry was making her forget everything: Ron, the Horcruxes, Voldemort. All of it. Breathing heavily, Harry slowly disengaged and moved back. "Oh Godric, Hermione. I didn't. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to –"
Hermione cut him off. "No, Harry, it's fine. It's fine. I needed that too. We just won't speak of it, again. We have too much to do to be distracted by – us."
Harry's lips tightened. "You're right. Friends?" She was right, but he didn't have to like it. He opened his arms, inviting her to step close for a hug. She hesitated, but then moved into his arms. He held her close. "You'll never lose me, Hermione."
"I know, Harry. And you won't ever get rid of me, either," she teased him, lightening the mood.
"Hermione, I'm so sorry. When the Ministry officials located your parents, they couldn't reverse the memory charm. " Seeing the heartbreak on Hermione's face, Kingsley softened his voice as much as possible. "It appears there is another memory charm in place, and reversing your charm would almost certainly destroy their minds. It – it could even kill them."
Hermione collapsed onto the worn sofa, silent tears streaming down her face. "I can't- wait, what are you talking about, another charm?"
"We don't know, Hermione, but we just can't take the chance. The older charm is very old; the Unspeakables who were there to reverse the spell, they think it's decades old. It's really remarkable that they managed to retain faculties with a second charm placed. They think that your parents must have some magical blood in their families for their minds to be as flexible as they are."
"I could have killed them?" Hermione's voice was small and devastated. In the face of her obvious grief, Kingsley decided to retreat. While he was fond of the witch, he was not equipped to deal with this level of heart-wrenching emotion.
"Let me get Molly, Hermione." Kingsley reached out to squeeze her hand. "I'm so sorry we weren't able to fix this. But I believe that you did what you had to do. Their lives would've certainly been forfeit if the Death Eaters had found them."
Molly bustled in moments after Kingsley left. Taking in Hermione's state at a glance, she called for Ginny, gathering Hermione in her arms. "Ginny, call Harry and Ron at Grimmauld Place. We need them here, immediately."
As Hermione quietly sobbed into Molly's shoulder, she held the girl tightly, making comforting noises.
"Please get Harry and Ron." Ginny was talking to Sirius in the Floo. "Hermione needs them."
Sirius's reply was muffled, but soon Harry and Ron appeared in the fireplace. "Ginny, what's wrong?"
"I'm not sure, but Kingsley just left, and I don't think it was good news. Can you both come over?" Moments later, Harry and Ron were there, brushing soot off their shoulders.
And Hermione cried.
The Burrow & #12 Grimmauld Place
Hermione stared at the letter from Hogwarts. For the first time since Kingsley's visit, she felt a stirring of interest. Headmistress McGonagall was offering her a chance to return for an 8th year and finish her qualifications.
Ron looked at his letter. He didn't want to go back to Hogwarts. Contrary to popular belief, he was a solid student, but he never liked school, and he couldn't imagine going back voluntarily. The letter in his other hand was much more interesting to him. England was inviting him to try out for Keeper in September. The National team! But his mum – she was going to want him to go back to school. Harry would back his play, though. And Hermione? Ha! He knew what Hermione would say. Ron steeled himself for the argument to come.
At Grimmauld Place, Harry considered the letter in his hand. Kingsley had offered him the opportunity to start immediate Auror training, but he'd been putting off that decision. Maybe he should consider returning to school.
"Sirius, I'm going to the Burrow!"
"What's up, Harry?" Sirius came into the room, drying his hands on a hand towel.
Harry paused. He wanted to talk to Hermione and Ron, but Sirius might have something helpful to say. "I just got my Hogwarts letter. I wanted to talk to Hermione and Ron, see what they are doing. I was considering going back."
"You don't want to start Auror training with the Ministry?" Sirius settled into his favorite chair near the Floo.
"I…I don't know. Sometimes, I think so, but others…" Harry shrugged.
Cocking his head to the side in an almost canine fashion, Sirius considered Harry. "I think you should go back to school."
"You do?" Harry was incredulous.
"Yeah, I do." Sirius leaned forward with his elbows on his knees. "Did you ever get a chance to enjoy school, Harry?" At Harry's negative headshake, he continued, "No? Well, here's your chance. Date a few girls. Live a little. Play a few drinking games. Play some practical jokes. Life won't be so carefree once you graduate." Sitting up, he shrugged. "Auror training will be waiting on you when you get out, if you want it."
Harry sat, stunned.
"But, yeah, go talk it over with Ron and Hermione. I think they'll tell you the same thing. Well, Hermione will tell you to go back and study hard, but I'd take my advice." Sirius got up to leave the room. As he reached the door, he turned back and looked at Harry. "But no matter what happens this year, you should take Hermione to the Graduation Ball."
Harry picked up a handful of Floo powder, shouted "The Burrow!" and stepped through into a shouting match.
"I cannot believe he's not coming back, Harry! Quidditch is far from a certain career. He could get hurt. And then, what would he do? He won't have qualifications to fall back on…." Hermione's concerned tone flowed over Harry. Finally, he had to defend Ron.
"Hermione, you knew Ron wasn't going to come back to school. He's not an idiot, but he doesn't like it; if England had asked me to try for a Seeker, I might've tried out as well." He paused for a beat. "Besides, I actually like school and want to go back. But, if Ron makes the team – Hermione, this is his dream. Are you going to begrudge him the chance to fulfill his dream? And Ron will have a job when his Quidditch career is over. His brother owns a store. Trust me, he'll be fine without his NEWTs."
Before Hermione could respond, the door to the carriage opened and a familiar blond visage appeared. Draco Malfoy, the pureblood prince. The Slytherin sex god. The youngest Death Eater in history. Hermione felt her hand sliding closer to her bag where her wand was safely stowed.
"Potter, Granger. Could I speak with you both for a moment?"
Wait, he was being polite? Hermione wondered who this wizard was and what he'd done with Draco Malfoy.
"What do you need, Malfoy?" Harry's tone was just short of rude.
Flattening his lips, Draco stepped in and closed the door. He took a deep breath. "I just wanted to thank you for testifying for my mother, Potter. You saved her life; I don't think she would have survived Azkaban. And I'm sorry about what happened to you, Granger. Bellatrix was a crazy bitch. I – I wish I could have done more. If either of you ever need anything from me, let me know."
This all came out in a rush. The silence following it was almost deafening.
"All right then. I'll just be going." Draco turned to leave.
"Wait." Harry stuck out his hand. "You're welcome." Draco shook it. "We," Harry gestured to Hermione, "know there wasn't anything you could have done to stop Bellatrix from doing what she did."
Hermione unconsciously covered her left arm, touching the Mudblood scar hidden beneath her sleeve. She nodded briefly at Draco.
As he turned to leave again, he seemed to realize something was different. "Where's Weasley?"
"Didn't you hear, Malfoy? He's been asked to try out for Keeper." Harry could not resist jabbing at the author of "Weasley is our king."
"For whom? The Cannons? They haven't won a game in 10 years." Draco's contempt for Ron's favorite team seeped into every word.
"Oh, Harry didn't say, did he? For England, Draco, for England." Hermione's tone was so sweet, butter wouldn't have melted in her mouth.
Draco's jaw dropped. Just as quickly, he closed it with an audible snap. "Well, good on him. See you both around."
Harry and Hermione waited for him to leave and the door to close before they dissolved into laughter.
"Can you believe that this is our last September train ride, Harry? I remember the first time we spoke; it was on the train, and you were in a car with Ron."
"Yeah, that's right – you were with Neville, looking for his toad." Just then, Neville came in the car. Harry cocked his head, "Whatever happened to your toad, Neville? What was his name?"
"Uhh, Trevor. Why're you asking about Trevor?"
"Hermione and I were just thinking back. That first train ride. I thought I knew you from somewhere, Hermione. Do you remember that?" Harry hadn't thought about it in years. It really was eerie, that feeling he'd had when he first saw Hermione on the train.
"Actually, I do, Harry. I thought the same thing." Hermione smiled softly in memory. "And I remember I told you and Ron that you needed to get your school robes on."
"And you've been bossing us around ever since." Harry's emerald eyes almost sparked with humor. He turned his attention back to Neville. "How is it, Neville? Glad to be going back?"
"Yeah, Harry, I am. I just don't want my final Hogwarts memories to be those of last year. It was – pretty awful, actually." The two other Gryffindors empathized with him. Their year had been terrible, but at least they weren't dealing with torture on an almost daily basis. "Do you know who's coming back this year? I haven't seen any other Gryffindors on the train. And where's Ron?"
Hermione and Harry exchanged a look. "Well, he's trying out for the English Quidditch team; he didn't come back," Harry volunteered.
"Really? Blimey. That's brilliant," Neville enthused. "But won't that be a bit weird for you?" He looked to Hermione, who stared at him blankly.
"Aren't the two of you -" Neville gestured to Hermione "a, uhh, couple or something?"
"No, Neville, we aren't. We're just friends as we've been for seven years," Hermione sniffed.
Neville settled back on the bench, blinking. "What about you and Gin, Harry?"
Harry pulled a face. "Nope." Then he changed the subject. "Malfoy's back; he was just here, but I don't know about the other Slytherins."
"I saw Daphne Greengrass talking to Pansy Parkinson at the platform." Hermione had noted the two witches, but didn't see many others from their year.
"Malfoy came in here?" Neville was astounded. "What did he want?"
"To apologize, apparently." Harry shrugged, "if he stays out of my way, I'll stay out of his. But he'll never be my friend. Too much water under the bridge."
"I, ah," Hermione sounded uncharacteristically unsure of herself, "I think maybe we should give them – the Slytherins - a chance. Be nice to them. See if it helps."
"Seriously, Hermione? You want to give them a chance?" Neville was clearly remembering last year. "Those Slytherins did some pretty fu – messed up stuff."
"I think maybe Malfoy at least learned his lesson," Hermione retorted. "He sounded pretty sincere earlier."
Neville looked at Harry as if to say, "you want to jump in on this?"
Harry looked at Hermione as if trying to make sense of something. "I think she might be right. Give Malfoy and his friends a chance. What's the harm?"
Neville narrowed his eyes. "I'll think about it; it's not like we're easy marks."
The three Gryffindors laughed, but the sound wasn't necessarily a happy one. No, they weren't soft targets. And it wasn't like they'd ever had a chance to be normal teenagers.
Harry decided to tell his friends about Sirius's request. "Sirius told me that I needed to have a fun year."
"Fun?" Hermione raised her eyebrows.
"Yes, fun, Hermione. Date a few people. Go to parties. Maybe play a few drinking games."
"I thought that was what you were doing this summer. If the Prophet was believed, you had a parade of girlfriends."
Harry gave Hermione a disappointed look. "You know most of those stories weren't true."
"Still, I don't think that going back to school for 'fun' is appropriate. We're going to be at school to get our qualifications, Harry." She turned to Neville. "Tell him, Neville."
Harry looked over at Neville, "yeah, Neville. What do you think?"
"Umm, err." He stopped and thought for a moment. "You know what Hermione, I think Harry's right. I think we've earned the right to a decent year. Voldemort's dead. Why can't we be normal teenagers?"
"Neville! Seriously? Ugh." Hermione picked up her book from beside her. "You boys plan your 'fun' year. I'll be revising because I want to have outstanding qualifications."
Harry looked over at the other wizard. "Don't worry, mate. We'll bring her around."
The Great Hall
Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry
"Good evening students, and welcome back to Hogwarts." The Headmistress continued with her expected speech, tossing in a few gems about house unity, a few new rules, and then "I'd especially like to welcome back a few students who have returned here to complete their education: our eighth years." Harry snapped to attention, noting that Hermione, as per usual, was totally involved. "Please remain after the feast, and I will discuss…" Harry tuned out again, but a flash of Weasley red hair surprised him. A familiar wizard made his way down the Great Hall and up to the teacher's table.
"The Head Girl this year is Ginevra Weasley of Gryffindor House," McGonagall paused for a moment to allow for applause, "and Head Boy is Kevin Dorchester of Hufflepuff House." The Hufflepuff table went wild for the most popular member of their house since Cedric Diggory.
McGonagall finally wound down her speech with "I'd like to introduce our new professors this year, Professor William Weasley with Defense Against the Dark Arts…." She could not continue as the entirety of the Gryffindor table rose, clapping, stomping, and whistling. After Bill shook his head, silently urging them to settle down and a stinging admonition from McGonagall, the Headmistress completed her introductions.
"Let us eat!" The food appeared at her bidding and the students tucked in.
"At least we'll have a competent Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher," Hermione was pleasantly surprised by the hire. "I'm surprised the Weasleys didn't mention it, though."
Harry shrugged, "Well, it makes sense, doesn't it? Bill probably didn't let Molly tell us so it wouldn't influence our decisions, but Ron wasn't going to come back anyway, no matter what. And she probably thought it'd be a nice surprise."
Neville gave a short laugh, "Ha! Like you lot need a DADA teacher. I think you've got it covered."
"Oh, Neville, there's so much we need to know. Bill really is quite a good choice…." Hermione launched into professor mode, much to Harry's amusement. It was funny how well she took to teaching. Maybe she'll be a professor one day. Maybe we can both come back to teach. We could be the Professors Potter. Wait - what am I thinking? Sirius told me to play the field, get out, have fun. And Hermione hadn't mentioned anything about dating. Maybe she wants to keep it as friends. After dipping food onto his plate, Harry soon became uncomfortably aware of the number of eyes on him, and, glancing around the room, he realized that not all the eyes were on him; many of the male eyes were on Hermione. Abruptly, he recalled Sirius's advice to escort Hermione to the Graduation Ball. Perhaps he should act on that advice sooner rather than later; the thought of Hermione dancing with with any of those wizards gave him an unpleasant feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Leaning to the side, he addressed the object of his ruminations. "Uh, Hermione, is it me, or are an awful lot of people staring at us?"
"Don't be silly, Ha –" Hermione stopped. "You're right. They are."
"Harry, really. It's obvious, isn't it? All the 'Golden Trio' nonsense in the papers. They'll get over it."
"I hope they get over it soon. It's bloody uncomfortable."
After the feast, the twelve returning eighth-year students remained in the hall. Harry couldn't help but notice that this group, thankfully, didn't have the staring problem the rest of the school did. But this group was missing some pretty obvious people. He counted, three Gryffindors, four Slytherins, three Hufflepuffs, and only two Ravenclaws. He turned to Hermione to get her opinion. "Why didn't more Ravenclaws come back? I'd have thought most of them would."
"Most of them sat their NEWTs last year, Harry. I talked to Padma earlier on the train about it. She said that several families pooled resources and had tutors for intensive training. She just decided to come back rather than get married, like Parvati did."
"Holy shit, Parvati's married?" Harry couldn't believe it.
Hermione shrugged. "Yes, Harry, it's traditional in Pureblood society to marry young. I imagine several of our classmates will be getting married soon. Ask Malfoy; I'm sure his wedding is already arranged."
Harry snorted at the thought of asking Malfoy anything that personal. "Ron never said anything about that. And Bill just got married."
Hermione sent him an arch look. "The Weasleys are hardly standard Purebloods, despite being part of the Sacred 28. Ask Sirius; he'll tell you. And your parents got married right out of Hogwarts, remember, Harry?" Just then, McGonagall called for their attention.
"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I'm so glad to have you all back this year. We have several new policies in place for your year. First of all, you'll not be rooming with your Houses." Everyone exchanged uneasy glances. "Your tower is off the fourth floor, overlooking the Quidditch Pitch. You'll have your own common room and restrooms to yourselves. You are all of age, so you'll be allowed to visit Hogsmeade at the weekends, and you'll have no official curfew, except in extraordinary circumstances. In exchange for these privileges, you will be expected to set an example for all students to follow. Professors are authorized to ask any and all of you for your assistance with their classes and grading. Finally, you will be rooming with one other student, and your rooms have been assigned. Please do not make any protest as these assignments are final."
"Excuse me, Headmistress, what about Quidditch?"
"Mr. Potter, you are still Gryffindor Quidditch captain, if you'd like to retain the position. Mr. Malfoy, the same applies to you for Slytherin House." At their nods, she continued. "You both should be planning try-outs for the coming weeks. If you have any questions, please see Madame Hooch. Any other questions for the good of the group?"
Hermione was still slightly confused. "Are we still part of our Houses, Headmistress?"
"Yes, Miss Granger. Your actions will earn or cost your House points. However, you'll not room with your Houses, and you'll sit with your fellow eighth years at evening meals. Other meals will be with your Houses. Also, each House will be in charge of one social event for the year. As eighth years, I expect you to take the lead in planning. The fall events are a Halloween Masque and the Yule Ball. In the spring, we'll celebrate the spring renewal in March and the traditional Graduation Ball."
"Which House will plan which event?" Pansy Parkinson had been silent up to that point.
"I'll leave you all to decide that, Miss Parkinson. Please submit that information to me by Friday at lunch." McGonagall looked around. "If there are no other questions, please follow me."
Hermione walked between Harry and Neville to the new eighth year quarters. When they arrived at their portrait entrance of a Knight and his Lady, she turned to face them. "Your password for the month is Ollivander. Please keep it to yourselves."
The door opened to a large, circular common room with doors opening off of it; names were emblazoned on bronze or pewter plaques with the House emblems on either side of the names. Two restrooms were situated to the left and right, one for witches and one for wizards. A huge fireplace was directly opposite the main door and large comfortable chairs with ottomans and two-seater couches were grouped about it.
The group spread out, looking for their rooms. Out of the corner of her eye, Hermione saw Harry and Malfoy both stop in their tracks at the first room.
"Oh bloody, buggering hell!" Harry was not happy.
Malfoy spat, "Like I want to room with you, Potter." Their door opened, apparently of its own accord.
From across the room, Hermione giggled, until she had a horrible thought. What if she had to room with Pansy? She quickly found her name; to her relief, Daphne Greengrass was at the same door. Daphne had always been polite to her, at least.
As they walked into their room, which also opened at their presence, the witches let out audible gasps. The beds were covered with cream comforters, but Hermione's bed had red and gold trimmings while Daphne's bed had silver and green. Each of them had a wardrobe, a desk, and a chest of drawers. Their trunks were already situated at the foot of their four-poster beds. The window, as promised, looked out over a portion of the Quidditch Pitch.
Hermione debated a moment, should she go check on Harry? Besides, she wanted to see their room. Decision made, she turned to Daphne. "I'm going to go check on Harry and see where everyone is roomed. Do you want to come with?"
"I need to talk to Pansy, but let me know what happens." They left, Daphne towards Pansy's room and Hermione across the common room. When she arrived at the boys' door, Hermione lifted her arm to knock and managed only one brief tap before the door was wrenched open.
"What the fuck do you want, Granger?" Malfoy snarled.
Before Hermione could open her mouth to formulate a reply, Harry jumped into the fray. "Oi! Malfoy, don't talk to her that way. You can be an arsehole to me all you want, but fuck all if you're going to speak to her that way."
Malfoy opened his mouth to fire back at Harry, but when he looked into the other wizard's eyes, he re-considered. Jerking his chin up at Harry, he acknowledged the other wizard's statement.
Taking a deep breath, Malfoy turned back to Hermione. "Granger, I apologize; I shouldn't have been so rude. Can I help you with something?" His tone was strictly controlled, but polite. Hermione briefly considered taking the mickey, but given the apparently thin thread of control Malfoy had on his temper, she decided to be polite rather than antagonistic.
"No, thank you, Malfoy. I was just coming over to see Harry." He swept his arm around in a "welcome in" manner. Hermione stepped forward into the room. It was a virtual clone of her own, except the bed coverings were more masculine, and the window showed a wider view of the Pitch. Before they could get comfortable, a voice called them to the common room.
"We need to decide which Houses will be sponsoring the socials this year." Pansy and Daphne had apparently appointed themselves the social chairs of the group. The eighth years situated themselves comfortably on the chairs and couches before the fireplace.
"We," Pansy gestured to Daphne "thought that we could draw for the events."
"Do we have to do this now?" Neville sounded exasperated that this was even a concern on their first night back.
"Get over it, Longbottom. It'll be less painful to give them their way. We'll be hearing about it until they do." Malfoy's tone was dry.
At Neville's resigned sigh, Daphne took over. "Hannah, you can draw for Hufflepuff, Hermione for Gryffindor, Padma for Ravenclaw, and Pansy for Slytherin." She dropped each event into a bowl. "Everyone draw, but don't look until we all have one." Each of the girls went forward and pulled a paper. "What did you get?"
"Graduation Ball!" Pansy was ecstatic. Blaise and Draco rolled their eyes. It was going to be the biggest Graduation Ball the school had seen in twenty years with those two witches in charge.
Daphne looked quite happy that result. "Right. Who got the Halloween Masque?"
Padma spoke up. "I did."
"Gryffindor for the Yule Ball." Hermione did not sound nearly as excited as Pansy had.
"So, Hufflepuff for the Spring Revival?"
"Very good. I'll let McGonagall know, and get our budgets. This is so exciting!" Daphne was already in planning mode.
"Right then, can we go back to our rooms?" Harry was feeling out of sorts; he wanted to get settled and think about something other than balls and socials. And he needed to talk to Sirius.
A/N: We find out why Harry wants to talk to Sirius in the beginning of the next chapter. Have you ever noticed that sometimes there are people out there who know us better than ourselves? That they often have insights that we lack because maybe we are too close to a situation?
I appreciate the encouragement that reviews afford, so if you have something positive to say, by all means, please tell me.
I'd also like to say "thank you!" to LJ Summers who essentially wrote the summary. You should check out her Casting the Stake, which is a Hermione/Weasley story written in the Bespoke Witch (glittergrrrl05) AU. Very fun.
This story is about a week ahead on Bewitching Fiction and will remain so. Ch. 2 goes up there this week (it's currently read to beta), but FF won't get it until next week. So, if you want the story updates more quickly, you'll have to join us there.