Chapter 40

Like a bat out of hell, I jumped away as a purple bolt came to my way. Turning, I waved my wand and began casting linked spells, only for Violet to dance out of the way, grinning like a madwoman.

She went for a lower stance, highlighting her growing curves even under the Hogwarts uniform. I didn't pay too much attention to that because the real threat was her wand hand. It was whipping in the air so fast that I couldn't fully register the movements or whatever spells she was shooting at me. The way the magical orbs were glowing dangerously, though, told me enough.

Thankfully, the battleground we were in had a lot of cover in the shape of stone pillars. As I hid behind one, some of her spells impacted my cover, and to my shock, I could feel the vibration of the impacts.

Bloody hell!

"Violet!" I shouted.

There was a pause in the spell casting. "Yeah?" she replied in the same volume.

"I thought this was a dodging lesson! Not a duel!"

"Well, we're giving them a good lesson, right?" Violet countered. "You and your traditional dodging against my style. You said you wanted something practical!"

"I think we've moved beyond that!"

"Come on, Weasley!" she shouted. "You're a Junior Champion right? Can't you take on little ol' me?"

Why was she trying to egg me on? I sneaked a look behind me, only to duck back again when a crimson orb flew to my face. Then, I began to feel more and more spells rain down on the pillar, the rhythmic sound of stone breaking apart building to a rather scary crescendo.

Fine, if she wanted to play that way, I was game. Rolling out of the way after two more spell-impacts, I began to march forward. Violet's eyes widened for just a second before her whole expression turned, oddly, to joy. She began to throw more spells at me, her grin widening with every casting.

I kept my my physical profile as small as possible while using small movements to dodge and weave on my approach. I felt the small rush of excitement as I began to walk through her barrage of spells, experiencing a feeling of invincibility as I walked towards my opponent. Violet's expression didn't show fear or confusion at my advance. In fact, it looked like she was on a verge of… well, orgasm, if I had to be honest.

It wasn't exactly a normal sight to see on such a young face, even if she was an adult. There was definitely something wrong with this girl.

Spell bolts whizzed as they passed me, some of them were very close to hitting home. I had planned to take her out like I did with Beyer back in France, but threw that thought away. Violet was surprisingly hard to find a pattern for. A lot of her spells were almost random, used mostly to complement her impressive linking skills. They were far beyond mine, thanks to her blindingly fast wand movements as well as her spells coming out stupidly strong.

However, if there was no pattern of habit to exploit, turn to the natural limitations of her body. As powerful and as fast as she was, she was still human with an accountable range of movement. I countered back with my own fast spells while at times deflecting her bolts. My aim was to limit positions she could dance away to, and it was working. Every time she tried to dodge, she was met with a spell that forced her back to the same position.

She must have realized what was going on because after her third failed dodging attempt, she changed tactics and walked towards me, unflinching.

The closer we got, the faster we weaved our patterns. She had the upper hand on speed, but my defensive movement and spells were more than capable enough to help me keep up.

Then, she surprised me by dropping the last linking. I took advantage of by casting a Carpe Retractum on her extended foot, spun around just enough to unbalance her, and pointed my wand at her head.

"Yield?" I asked.

She looked at me, smiling, before motioning down with her eyes. Glancing there, I saw her wand pointing straight at my crotch with a weak but scary-looking purple-colored light glowing from the tip. My eyes widened, but before I could do or say anything, she replied, "I yield."

I just stared at her for the moment, confused. She seemed rather amused, giving me a wink before she began to walk towards Granger. What was with that girl and her interest with my knacker-sacks? I saw my wife-lookalike giving me a flat stare, but smiled a little too sweetly when Violet was close enough.

Ha! Whipped.

Still, Merlin, what a rush. I hadn't felt like this since my battle with James. I was honestly tempted to just do this in every meet. The fact that Violet was also enjoying that duel was helping in improving our relationship.

"Ron!"

I turned around to see Daphne and the others walking to me, all wearing smiles that ranged from disbelieving to expectant. Daphne had the latter, probably not so surprised to see me in action considering what she had witnessed during my duel with James. The rest of them, however, looked like they were just seeing me wearing my Great-Aunt Tessie's hand-me-downs for the first time.

"Maeve," Zabini muttered, shaking his head.

"That was amazing!" Tracey added, lifting her heels repeatedly in an excited way.

"Some of your spells were cast… silently," Milly muttered.

I winced. Damn, I got into the fight a little too much. I just hoped Violet or Granger didn't notice it too much.

"Potter also casted silently," Zabini said, frowning. He looked at me. "How did you both become so advanced?"

What could I say? "My Instructor was very good," I replied. "As for Violet… well, she is the Heiress of the Black Family, and her godmother is our Defense Professor. So…"

He nodded. "True."

"I'm just glad you were acting more normal," Daphne said with a sigh.

"Don't I usually?" I asked.

"For the past two months?" Zabini replied with a raised eyebrow. "No."

"Come on," I muttered.

"You keep casting privacy spells," Milly pointed out.

"I did that a lot of times last term!" I defended.

"Not as many times since that incident in your dorms," Tracey pointed out.

Crossing my arms, I growled, "Oh, get off my bloody case."

"We will when you can explain why you're acting so… paranoid," Daphne replied. I stared hard at her, but she didn't even flinch. She just sighed. "Look, if you don't want to tell us, fine. I'm just glad you're feeling better now. Even if it is just when you're dealing with your two assassins."

I took a deep breath. Okay, maybe I had been getting a little too defensive after realizing Dobby was around, trying to get back the Diary. My fear multiplied even more when Darius had reported nothing uncommon in Malfoy's movements. Well, other than the whole buying-lots-of-brooms thing, of course.

The news should have given me comfort as it told me that that Malfoy wasn't making any move against me or my family. However, it didn't; it just piled in more questions into my head.

Why hadn't Dobby told? Had he actually been searching randomly, and it was just his rotten luck that he tried to break into my trunk? Everything would have been far simpler if it was just that. However, it didn't explain the pranks that had been continuing. He was my only viable suspect on that one. It also didn't explain why he would even search Hogwarts of all places.

Still, Daphne was wrong about one thing. While I did feel safer here, it wasn't because of Violet or Granger. The nature of the Room of Requirement made it easy to spot any other sort of magic working in it, so even if Dobby was present and hiding, I would most likely feel his presence.

In fact, I could tell that there were three house-elves present, all of them probably waiting for the time to bring out the snacks.

Still, she was also right. It was rather ironic that I felt safer here, in the presence of two dangerous women who had been plotting to kill me just last year. Maybe my priorities were skewed.

"Ron," Daphne called gently. I felt her hand rest on top of my shoulder. "We're just worried."

Looking at her for the moment, I couldn't help but shake my head. She kept her face very relaxed, but I could see minute worry details on her eyes.

"I'm sorry if I worried you," I said softly. Daphne and Tracey brightened up with that, while Milly and Zabini nodded in an understanding manner. I wondered for a moment if I should talk to them about my suspicions, but honestly, getting them involved in a piece of Voldemort's soul was not something I wished.

It was probably better to find a way to frame my worries without clueing them in.

Another time.

"So, what do you guys think?" I asked. "About that… dodging showcase?"

"You mean duel?" Milly asked.

"Whatever," I replied absently.

All four looked at each other contemplatively before Daphne shrugged. "I honestly don't know which style I would prefer," she said.

"Me neither," Zabini and Tracey added as well.

"I like yours better," Milly replied, almost softly. "I don't think I can move like Potter did."

"Well, you can all decide once you guys get some practice," I said, nodding. I turned to Violet and Granger, both apparently talking about something heavy considering the former's expression. The latter seemed to motion to our direction a few times, which made Violet's expression even more grim.

What were they talking about?

"Violet!" I called. She turned to me. While she still had a frown in place, her expression slowly turned more curious.

"Yeah?" she asked as she began walking towards me. Granger hesitated a step before following as well.

When she came close enough, I continued, "Can we have some sort of training dummies? The ones that can move and shoot out mock spells?"

"There is such a thing?" Violet asked, surprised.

"Uh, yeah," I said, quickly thinking. "Auror Lynn showed me a few of them when Dad brought me to the Auror training area. I think she called them level fours?"

When she nodded, I felt a little relieved. As far as story-making goes, that was one of the worst I had ever come up with.

"How many?" she asked.

"One for each of us, maybe?" I replied, unsure. "Six, I guess. I want to sit down for a bit."

"Did I tire you out?" Violet teased.

"Yes, being the one on top is very exhausting," I replied back with my own grin. Granger's eyes widened and her face turned pretty red. Oops.

Violet snorted. "Five then. I'm also going to take a rest."

"Did I tire you out as well?" I asked with the same teasing tone she used, though I upped the smugness a bit it more. You know, so Granger wouldn't blast my head off.

"No, I think I chipped a nail," she replied dismissively while absently checking out her hand. I snorted.

"Um, can I skip this one for now?" Tracey suddenly said, making me look at her. "I am having trouble with our History homework, and considering it's due tomorrow, I need to work on it."

"Need help?" Granger asked in a surprisingly soft tone.

"Yes, sure," Tracey replied with a nod.

"So, three then?" Violet asked as she looked at the rest of my friends. "Unless you guys got homework to work on, too?"

Milly, Zabini, and Daphne looked at each other before shaking their heads.

"Great," Violet said, and the room began to change before our eyes.

As it was being reformed, I noted that the whole room expanded. Taking half of it seemed to be the practise area, covered with soft-looking green and silver carpets. Three dummies were present as well. From a glance, I could see that the Room understood Violet's request, even if she had only a vague idea to go from.

Honestly, this room needed to be studied. Imagine how more effective Auror training would be if the Department had one of these.

The other half of the room was split to three parts. In the center basically looked like some sort of study area. It had a small wooden round table with writing implements on top of it, low chairs, and its own mini chandelier floating above it.

On one corner, a long table was produced. I didn't quite understand why Violet wanted that, until food and drinks appeared on top of it.

I turned behind me to see a fireplace appearing on the wall, along with lush carpeted floors in dark purple color, and a black love chair near it. Oh, wait. The love chair transformed to two separate couch seats. Glancing at Violet, she looked rather sheepish.

I did not want to think about that and hoped that neither Granger or Daphne noticed that particular slip.

"Looks nice and cozy," I commented, approaching one of the seats. As I sank into the comfortable upholstery, I jumped up when the chair began vibrating. "Wha?"

"Relax, Ron," Violet said as she sank on her own couch. "It'll help out with the soreness."

I looked at her skeptically, but she just closed her eyes and groaned with satisfaction. No, I was not thinking sexual. Not completely, at least. After a second, I shrugged and sat back down once again.

Good Merlin. "I want one of these," I muttered.

"Hm-hmm," Violet agreed.

"Where can I get one?" I asked.

"There's a spell for it," she replied slowly. "I can teach you."

"Thank you."

None of us talked after that, and I just closed my eyes, listening to the others. I could hear a few grunts and thuds, with Zabini and Daphne mumbling something derogatively. The most coherent sound I could make out was Tracey and Granger talking about Goblins.

"No, no," I heard Granger say, almost gently. "Hagar the Horrible wasn't the one that wanted to enslave dragons for Gringotts. That was Drago the—"

I opened my eyes and turned to them. Granger was pointing something in Tracey's notes, while the other girl nodded a few times before she took a quill and began writing.

It went on for a few minutes.

"You watch Hermione like she was a girlfriend of yours," Violet teased, making me turn to her.

"Jealous?" I replied back, wry grin on my face.

"Yeah right," she replied, rolling her eyes. She turned towards the training area, a grin on her face. "Look at that. Zabini and Greengrass prefer my technique over yours."

I snorted, watching the two flop about. "You mean preferring a flashy and an unpractical technique that have them dancing around like headless chickens?"

"Hey! I resent that!"

"Look at Milly," I countered, feeling a really proud of my big friend. That girl was slowly figuring out her combat style. Watching her use my dodging style to close in on the dummy before tackling it to the ground was scary.

A lot of people were going to have a hard time against her when she was ready.

"See?" I continued. "She knows her limitations, works around them, and is breezing through the practise."

"So?" she asked, grinning. "I still say my dodging technique is better than yours. Or do you want a rematch to prove it?"

"No thanks. I have a feeling that you are going to make some sort of ridiculous demand that would humiliate me in the worst way possible if you win. Besides, Granger there would bite my head off if I beat you again. Probably literally."

Violet frowned. "She wouldn't." I stared at her for a moment before she amended, "Okay maybe."

I chuckled.

"I have to admit, though," she continued, "the way you taught them is impressive."

"Well, I did get a very able teacher to train me for the tournament."

She snorted before looking at me in the eyes. "I mean, even before that."

I kept still and calm. "What are you talking about?" I asked, hoping Violet wasn't suspecting that we knew of this room before she showed it to us.

"Remember last year? In that abandoned classroom?" she replied. "They behaved like they knew what they were doing. Even right now, individually, they don't need much directing. You taught them well. They are really skilled."

"Tell them," I suggested. "Privately if you can."

"Is that smart?" she asked. "I mean, sure we've been meeting constantly for a month now, but…"

"Violet, they aren't jittery around you anymore. Give them an honest opinion, and they'll respect that."

Violet sighed before looking at me. "Thanks to you. After that first disaster, I didn't think this whole thing would succeed. You encouraged me and gave really good suggestions. Sometimes, I wonder if I should even consider myself the leader of this group."

"You are," I replied.

"Yeah right."

"Look, while I have given suggestions and may have blackmailed my friends a bit, have you not realized how hard you worked at it? You were open to my ideas and made sure to get our inputs before setting a meeting time. And the food… Merlin, you kept us fed. That's good enough in my book."

"Always thinking with your stomach, as usual."

"Best way to be friends with anyone," I replied. "I mean, you do remember how we first met, right? Lots of candies?"

A small chuckle escaped her lips. "Yeah, I do." Then, her face turned somber. "Ron… I'm sorry about—"

"Merlin's beard, Violet, please don't apologize for that again," I muttered. "I don't need to be reminded of it constantly. We're here and we're working it out. Let's leave it at that, okay?"

Violet just nodded slowly. After that, we went silent again for a few more minutes.

"Can I ask you something?" Violet suddenly asked.

"You already did."

She smiled. "Prat."

I grinned. "Fine, fine, ask away."

"Ron, why aren't you in the Slytherin Quidditch team? I thought with the broom you got for your birthday, you would have joined them."

I shrugged. "Our team captain is an idiot. I offered my services and made a list of plans and tactics that could improve our chances. Hell, I even showed him my broom and promised to lend it to our seeker, so even if he didn't find my plays effective, he would still have a good broom for his team."

"Do you not like the broom?" she asked, frowning.

"You're asking another question?" I questioned back easily, looking at her. "Trade?"

She rolled her eyes. "Fine. What do you want, you sneaky Snake?"

"I have a question as well, oh mighty Lioness. Fair deal?"

"Yeah, yeah. So?"

"I do like your broom. It's just that I'm not much of a Chaser or a Seeker, and the Nimbus is pretty much built for those. Besides, Flint said no. Apparently, he got a better deal."

"Malfoy," Violet said, nodding.

"Yeah," I agreed. "The little shit bribed his way into the team with the newest Nimbus brooms. His conditions were basically: make him a Seeker and bar me from being involved with the team."

"What an ass."

I grinned. "Well, he hates us both, so, yeah."

"I can understand why he hates me. Why does he hate you, though?" she asked.

"Should I consider that a another question?" I asked, which earned me a gentle slap on the shoulder that made my eyes widen. Violet seemed to be taken aback as well, her own shock clearly showing in her face.

"Oh, God, sorry, Ron," she declared, looking at her hand. "I—"

"It's fine," I said gently, raising mine. I wondered if that was some sort of reflex she had, probably something she did a lot of times to the Ron she knew when they were together.

Was it some sort of curse? Would every Ron Weasley get that kind of reaction with the girls he knew? Hermione had done it to me, Daphne the same, and now Violet.

I shook my head. Now was not the time to think about that.

"Anyway," I began, "he hates me because our House respects me, a Blood Traitor, more than his lordship. Apparently, having better grades does impact your standing in the snake pit. He probably got told off by his father about it."

"The same father that would easily spend a small fortune to buy brooms for the team," Violet concluded, "just to block you out."

"Yup. As well as increasing the chances of my Quidditch team to win against the Gryffindors. Money is a very efficient leverage."

"It's disgusting."

I shrugged. "Get used to the idea, Violet. You are also a powerful and rich figure in this country. Take advantage of it."

Violet groaned. "You mean, act like Malfoy?"

"Yeah," I replied with a nod. "Using your fame and money is not really wrong. What you do with it, though? Now that is a different story."

"Maybe," she said. "I never liked fame, you know, and it's gotten worse since Bella named me her Heiress. Apparently, I have to be more active in the political arena. That's the only thing I hated about the whole business."

"Well, future Lady Potter-Black, strap in tight because the ride is just beginning. And it will never end."

"What if I want to get off, though?"

Oh, come on, Violet. Don't make this too easy. "Well, I'm not sure if I'm the bloke that can help you there, though I'm willing to try."

She nodded for a moment before suddenly looking at me with a raised eyebrow. I just gave her my most innocent smile before she slapped my shoulder again, hard this time.

"Hey!" I protested, rubbing out the pain.

"You deserve that, you perv."

"What's a perv?" I asked, hoping I did a good Luna impression.

Her eyes narrowed before scoffing. "You're impossible."

"Daphne said the same thing once." I smirked. "See? You're on your way to becoming a proper Heiress."

She laughed. "Yeah." After a moment, she gently punched my shoulder. "Your turn, Ron."

"Hmm?"

"You said you had questions?" she clarified.

"Yeah," I replied, looking back towards Granger and Tracey. It seems the latter finally was getting getting the hang of that particular point of Goblin History. "It's about Lady Black's presence in Hogwarts. Daphne brought it up first, and it stuck to our minds. We couldn't help but wonder the true reason why she is here."

"You mean, other than to teach?"

I nodded. "Now, don't get mad, but it's a little suspicious having your powerful godmother close to you this year. Not that I don't like her or the way she teaches."

She narrowed her eyes. "You think I'm planning something."

"Basically, yeah," I replied.

"Why do you want to know?" she asked.

I frowned. "Don't take this the wrong way, but after last year, my friends are still worried. I guess I'm asking to… to put them at ease, so to speak."

She blinked for a moment before realizing what I had meant. Her expression hardened for a moment before softening up. "I… guess that's fair."

I waited for a moment for her answer, but for some reason, she seemed rather hesitant. "You don't have to answer," I said softly. "I'm sorry for even bringing it up."

"No, wait, you deserve one," she interjected. She blew out a breath. "How am I supposed to explain this… yeah, I am planning something. Hermione, Bella, and I."

Okay. "Hope it doesn't involve me in any way," I joked. When she didn't react, I stared at her. "Right?"

"It won't," Violet replied sharply. "I won't allow it."

"What do you mean by that?"

She replied by taking a hold of my hand, her eyes boring into mine. "Ron. Don't worry about it. You will never be involved in this mess. My mess."

I had no idea what to think about that. From the way she worded it, it seemed like there was a plan that either Lady Black or Granger wanted to embroil me in. There were so many ways to interpret that.

However, the fact that Violet openly admitted something like that, as well as insisting she didn't want me involved—probably because it was dangerous—meant that my plan was succeeding; I was earning her trust. There was finally a foundation laid out. Soon, we might actually build more on it.

So, I took a risk.

"If you need my help, Violet, you can always ask," I said.

She gave me a smile, though I was a little surprised that it looked almost reluctant. "You're sweet, you know that?" she replied softly as she squeezed my hand. "Please, don't ever change."

Huh, her mood sank rather quickly. She really ought to stop comparing me to the Ron she knew. Still, it was not a good idea to end a conversation on a bad note, so I snorted. "Change? Why? I'm awesome. No way I'll ever change that."

That got her laughing. "Maybe you can deflate that ego of yours a bit." She paused, looking over my shoulder. "Don't look, but it seems Greengrass and Hermione are staring."

"Yikes," I said, overdoing my shivering. "If I go missing in tonight's Samhain Feast, you have two suspects."

"Well, I'll keep an eye on Hermione," Violet replied with a grin. "Greengrass is your problem, though."

"Hmph, such a great leader you're turning out to be."

She just grinned, and I couldn't help but smile as well. This was turning out to be a very good investment. My friends were slowly coming around to this whole plan and Violet had been slowly depending on me more and more.

Everything was turning out perfectly.