Draco dodged the growing crowd of hugging Gryffindors with admirable skill; he had never been so grateful for all those sessions of Quidditch practise.
Pansy relinquished her dance partner without hesitation to avoid a similar fate. Getting close to Charlie was one thing; risking being smothered by a raging hoard of redheads was another. She watched Draco escape with an amused smile. By the time he reached her, he was panting.
"You're a bitch!" Draco gasped, "You could have hexed a few out of the way for me!"
Pansy waved one hand dismissively, "And risk my pending marriage to save your albino hide? Pfft."
Draco staggered toward the buffet table for a drink, "You are a heartless cow," he decided.
Pansy rolled her eyes, "Everybody knows that."
"Would they notice if we ran away to hide?" Draco wondered aloud.
Pansy shrugged, "Once the hysterical crying dries up; maybe."
"A certain dragon-trainer would notice you missing," Draco teased, "He will either come looking for you, or thank his lucky stars. I'm honestly not sure which way he will go."
"Take your skanky, Veela nose out of my face," Pansy replied tartly. Draco could tell she wasn't angry; her voice went very cold and void of emotion when she was truly pissed off.
"So, the seduction is going well? He is still in the room, so that's a plus."
"I'm not trying to seduce him," Pansy pointed out, "I'm looking for a husband, not a fling."
"If you can grow scales and breathe fire, he'll never try to get away," Draco joked, "I bet your Animagus form would be something scaly."
"And yours would be a ferret," Pansy replied in a falsely-sweet voice, "I remember those front teeth before your parents used magic to shrink them. Too bad the beady little eyes were there to stay."
Draco was too accustomed to her barbs to take offence, "If you're really lucky, he'll find your attempts to nag him into submission him rather cute."
"Well, it worked for Granger; though it may have been the dopey expression you wear whenever she looks at you. If her parents had bought her a puppy, you'd be completely out of luck."
"By that reasoning, Charles should declare his undying love for you if you burn him with your breath and bite him. I know it's less violent than your usual mating dance, but castrating him verbally should wait until after the ceremony."
Pansy replied, but Draco wasn't listening. His attention switched to the low, uttered incantation which he had last heard from Vincent Crabbe.
Fred was not worried; the castle had alerted him to the presence of Bellatrix and her motley group of Death Eaters. He used George's body to point upwards.
"Get her!" he yelled, "Don't let any of them escape!"
Bellatrix felt the magic surge within her as the Fiendfyre spell formed. She did not see the gathering of ghosts which descended on her before she could direct the fire.
Bellatrix screamed her anger, only to be tackled by a large, feathery creature who answered her war cry with one of his own.
Hermione only needed a fraction of a second to slip back into war-more, and she was not the only one.
By the time Bellatrix escaped from the clutches of the feathery beast her nephew had transformed into, she and her followers were facing a group of very pissed-off wizards and witches.
Pansy's first instinct was to run and hide. The imagined image of a Death Eater landing the Killing Curse on one of her friends stopped her. Had she been surrounded by Slytherins, they would all flee together and leave the idiotic Gryffindors to die in a blaze of glory. Instead, she reached the shocking conclusion that at least a couple of those Gryffindors were almost, dare she admit it, friends.
Pansy took cover behind one of the tables and aimed for the nearest cloaked moron, while imagining her mother was behind the stupid mask.
Theo was furious, and frozen in place. The Death Eater who had petrified him dragged him into an alcove instead of killing him outright.
Thadius Nott threw back his hood and removed his mask. The angry eyes of his son and only heir glared up at him.
"You were always a disappointment," Thadius sneered, "But this is a new low. Why were you protecting a little blonde twit, rather than watching your own back?"
Theo composed a very vehement reply in his head, even though he couldn't speak a work.
"Never mind," Thadius sighed, "Posy has proven herself to be fertile. The House of Nott doesn't need you anymore. Good-bye."
Theo was sickened by the mixture of fear and fury in his gut. He waited for death at the hands of his own father.
"Stupefy!" Luna cried.
Theo watched in amazement as his father toppled over, his wand clattering to the ground. Luna smiled at him calmly and cancelled the spell holding him in place.
"I love you, Luna!" Theo cried happily, "Marry me!"
Luna beamed at him, "Of course; but ask me again after I graduate; I promised Daddy I wouldn't commit to a wizard until then."
Charlie paused in the middle of the fight to take in an awesome sight. Pansy ducked behind a toppled table in between firing blasting curses at Death Eaters. Her hair was crackling with energy and she laughed whenever she made her enemy cry out or topple into unconsciousness.
Charlie had never seen a witch look so damn attractive.
Ginny finally had her wish; Harry was in danger and she was there to shield his back. The anger at being left behind while he left to hunt horcruxes lost some of its potency. For the first time, she was sure Harry trusted her completely.
The battle spilled outside within minutes. Regulus picked off the occasional Death Eater, but his main target was Bellatrix. Each time she aimed her wand to kill, he threw a spell to throw off her aim. He could see her getting supremely pissed off, and it was rather amusing.
One-by-one, the Death Eaters fell under the wands of the party guests. Regulus transformed into his animagus form and ran toward his target. Once Bellatrix saw the battle was lost, she would flee and pick an easier target.
Regulus saw his cousin reach into her pocket. He pounced on her with the focus of a predator closing in for the kill. She instinctively grabbed him with her spare hand.
They disappeared together.
Severus Snape saw the two Black cousins collide a moment before they disappeared. He had no chance to try to interfere; by the time his mind comprehended what he was seeing, they were gone.
Andromeda had been hit with a curse early in the fight. Severus had managed to counter it before the damage became permanent. Molly and Arthur had swooped in to protect her while she recovered and Severus drew the attackers away.
His status as a traitor to the Death Eaters placed a huge target on his head. In typical detached fashion, Severus was more comfortable being hated than hiding his true loyalties.
As he was free from the tangles politics of the followers of Riddle, Severus did not have to downplay his duelling ability or enjoyment of inflicting pain on those who deserved it. Five cloaked figures were sprawled across the lawn, each incapacitated or dead. Severus wasn't sure which, and he honestly did not care.
Rookwood threw a curse designed to burn from the inside out; Severus dodged most of it; he would have to buy a new formal robe. Just for that, he would make sure the other wizards tiny penis became common knowledge in any trial or obituary.
Severus was almost entertained by the stream of profanities which spewed forth from his opponents. They wasted so much energy on expressing that hate, that they made mistakes. Rookwood was curled up in the foetal position in less than a minute after implying that Eileen Snape was a low-price prostitute born to parents who were siblings.
He sudden silence was oddly soothing. Severus cast a spell to search for signs of life. One of his opponents was unconscious, and the rest were dead.
"I'm losing my touch," Severus muttered, "Ten years ago, they'd all be dead."
Severus cast one last spell to make sure the still-living Death Eater would stay unconscious for many hours to come before turning to return to the castle with a sweep of his black robes. The hole still bothered him.
As the sounds of battle faded, Harry scanned the hall for his friends. Ginny was pressed against his back, hugging him fiercely.
Snape swept into the hall wearing a thunderous expression.
"Where is Andromeda?" he asked loudly.
"Dromeda took an early hit," Molly was saying, "She got back into the fight, buy Poppy insisted on checking her out in the Infirmary. There are a few injuries, but nothing life-threatening."
Harry checked on Ron, who had a gash on his head. He didn't seem to mind; he was cuddled up to Daphne's chest and looked rather content.
Hermione was dragging Draco toward the infirmary when Harry and Ginny caught up to her.
"I'm fine!" the blonde insisted.
"You took a blast from that crazy bitch, while covered in feathers," Hermione snapped, "Poppy is going to look you over, or I'm dragging you to St Mungo's."
"Hey, great work Big-Bird," Harry teased, "The feathers make a great costume for Halloween."
"Glad you made it, Potter," Draco grunted, "Red would be unbearable without you to boss around."
Ginny snorted, "We're glad you survived too, Malfoy. Hermione has always wanted a pet for Crookshanks to play with while she's studying."
"Crookshanks likes him," Hermione assured Ginny as they reached their destination.
"The ultimate approval," Ginny replied seriously, "Are you sure he's not trying to kill the biggest bird he's ever seen?"
Lucius didn't realize how strange he looked to people who had known him before he lost his memories. Teddy was sleeping in his arms; his hair was tied back haphazardly and his pyjama bottoms could be seen peeking out below the dark blue robe he had hastily donned when the House Elves raised the alarm.
Severus had returned from the Infirmary, with Andromeda in tow. Lucius liked his sister-in-law, as she had a sharp wit and was happy to judge him for who he had become without his memories.
He wasn't at all impressed by the Aurors; they were rude to him personally and were openly sceptical of the tale told by Severus Snape. He was not surprised to learn that Andromeda's daughter had often been frustrated with procedures during her employment as an Auror.
"Hello Kingsley!" Fred greeted happily. The dark-skinned man appeared startled by the appearance of the ghost, but regained his composure quickly.
"Mr Weasley; I did not realise you were now a resident of Hogwarts."
"I'm not; I go where George goes. I'm a different type of ghost, so I will age as George does. Tonight was fun; I kept jumping in front of Death Eaters and screaming gibberish to distract them. Severus didn't need me; he took out five single-handedly."
The other Aurors were clearly sceptical, "You're sure Snape killed Death Eaters?"
"Five; and Rookwood was the only one who gave him a challenge," Fred confirmed.
"Did you see Regulus during the skirmish?" Kingsley asked seriously.
"I didn't have to," Fred replied easily, "Hogwarts herself was monitoring him, and kept me updated. He stayed high, and made sure Bellatrix kept missing with some very well-timed stinging hexes. When he saw her reaching for a portkey, he jumped on her to go along for the ride."
"Regulus Black may have joined forces with Bellatrix Lestrange, if she has truly been resurrected," one of them said to Kingsley.
"You are an idiot," Severus declared before the man called Kingsley could reply, "Does the Auror hiring policy require all employees be brain-dead, because that could explain quite a lot."
The discussion went downhill from there.