The black-clad form of Vincent Crabbe made Millicent Bulstrode look miniscule, and that was no mean feat. He bowed to Hermione, who curtseyed back. There were no questions about who would lead.

Hermione had been prepared to suffer through what she'd encountered with Ron - who was entirely too gangly to know where his own feet were most of the time, and that was without dancing!

Vincent, however, seemed surprisingly... graceful. The grace of a running bull, or an elephant bathing itself. Solid and steady. Sure, he did step on her feet once or twice, but that wasn't... well, she'd stepped on his, as well, hadn't she!?

She would have spoken up sooner, but she sensed Harry and Ron "dancing" towards her (in practice, being oafs that danced on their partners toes - at leas they weren't dancing together.).

Before she could say a word, Vince rumbled, "Here comes trouble..."

Hermione grinned back, knowingly, "Too bad we can't escape..."

"At my lady's command," Vince said, his face warming with a wide grin. They whirled away from Ron and Harry, and Hermione was kept so busy trying not to land on the big Slytherin's feet that she didn't realize where they'd gone until Vince brought her to a halt.

Hermione's eyes looked past Vince's wide shoulder, seeing the grass and roses and the rest of the Hogwarts garden. "We're... we're not supposed to be here."

"Figured you might want to catch your breath." Vince said kindly. "You've been dancing all evening."

Hermione giggled, and they stood there, still in dance position, for about half the dance, only emerging from the garden moments before it was time for the next dance. Ron and Harry had apparently completely lost them, as they came trucking towards her when they spotted her. Unfortunately for them, the dance changed.

Unseen by Hermione or her friends, Draco Malfoy glared cold murder at his dormmate. Where had he taken her? What had he done to her? And why does she look so happy about it?

Tracey Davis, the Slytherin's notorious halfbood (if there were others, and Hermione suspected Millicent, they kept it quiet) grabbed Hermione's hands next. She started off with a salvo, "So, do I finally get to meet the famous Hermione Granger?"

"Yes? I suppose. You've seen me in classes for years."

"You've not said a single word to me."

Hermione looked down, suddenly feeling a bit bad, even if Tracey was Pansy's friend, sometimes. "I'm sorry. I try not to talk with Pansy's friends, because she's mean."

Tracey laughed, "Oh, she doesn't mean a word of it! She's really a lot nicer than Daphne, honestly. Take care when you're dancing with her tonight..."

"What do you mean?" Hermione asked skeptically.

"Snape said that you were to come to no permanent harm," Tracey said, smiling some more. "But Daphne loves to ride the borders of good taste. This'll be no different."

"She- she wouldn't try to poison me?!" Hermione asked, her face paleing.

"Oh, no, dear my, no! She's trying to make you cry, not die! Deaths are such a turnoff to a good party!" Tracey said.

[a/n: Because there are mean people in slytherin. Other than Malfoy. Tracey and Millicent are the two odd ducks, and Mill's really quite lonely. Hence the charm offensive. Having a friend in Gryffindor is better than having none at all.

I suppose I haven't responded to this because I don't understand it. But multiple readers have asked what a Valkyrie is. To put it simply, they were Norse Female Warriors. But the longer explanation includes the words "Choosers of the Slain", and they are a type of holy psychopomp, guiding warriors' souls to Valhalla.

Like most things Luna does, you'll understand in time, just like her "in the story" audience.]