Chapter 43

"There you are," Daphne's voice called out from behind me.

"Hmmm?" I asked absently as I secured the stopper in one of my potion vials. Turning around, I spotted her closing the door of the Slytherin Potion Room behind her. "Hey, Daphne," I greeted.

Returning my attention to my potions, I began to line them up in front of me, making sure I got the sequence correct. Daphne didn't reply, just slowly moving to stand beside me.

"Is there something wrong?" I asked after I finished placing the properly ordered potions into the folds of my leather vial holder.

"What makes you ask that?" Daphne asked back.

"Your silence," I replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

She huffed. "I'm just giving you the same treatment you gave us the whole afternoon."

That got me to pause. What did she mean—oh! I shook my head, softly saying, "Sorry. I was… distracted."

"That much is obvious," she replied, shaking her head. "I am assuming your private meeting with Lady Black went well?"

"As well as one could hope," I replied, stepping back from the table to fully face her. "No, actually, I think it went even better than that."

Daphne crossed her arms, motioning towards my potion pouch with her head. "If it went that well, then why are you preparing for a fight?"

I wondered for a moment on how to respond to that question before finally settling with, "Because I'm not stupid."

That got an unlady-like snort out of her. "Could have fooled me, Weasley."

I rolled my eyes. "Understandable, as you are quite easy to fool."

She glared at me before returning her gaze to the vials. "How likely is it that this is a trap?"

After humming for a moment, I replied, "Low. Granger is currently out of the picture, so there goes the majority of the antagonism. I'm probably on Violet's good side, but—"

"You do realize that the Black Family are notorious deceivers, right?" she interrupted.

"Yes," I said, rolling my eyes again, "That's why I'm more worried about Lady Black."

"Violet is part of the Black Family as well, Ron," she countered. "And dealing with the Black Family necessitate acting with caution, whether you believe them to be friendly or not."

While I disagreed that bit with Violet, I couldn't deny the sentiment. If anything, it was maybe an understatement. Lady Black's offer—her bait if we were being honest—was, for a lack of better term, prefect. I couldn't get it out my head. My mind ran amok with so many thoughts going through it and I was still trying to sort them out.

The advantages, the disadvantages, the offers, the counter-offers—I've imagined multiple scenarios of what would happen if I accepted, if I refused, or if I simply just tried to steal the knowledge from under their noses.

The last one would have been the simpler choice. However, considering what I knew of the situation, I'd rather not be forced to fight on multiple fronts.

Still, it was tempting. I had never heard of magic that would allow one's magical core to mature unnaturally. A wizard that understood the full implication of it would pay anything and kill anyone just to have a piece of that knowledge. Imagine, the ability to mature one's magical core.

Depending on the nature of how the spell worked, one could even surpass the limits wizards and witches were born with!

Yet here it was, being offered for the low price of helping them out.

Those facts alone would've made me skittish of the whole thing. A lesson I never forgot was that power didn't come cheap and that there was always a catch. It wasn't unreasonable to think that this magic, whether a Spell, Ritual, Potion, or even Blood derived, would be of a darker variety. Even if I was somehow wrong, I knew the magics required would most likely be painful or demanding.

I mean, this was about unnaturally forcing a magical core to maturation, for Merlin's sake.

Then there was also the off chance that the whole thing was, as Daphne pointed out, a set up to get me alone once again. This time, with a devious witch from an old Dark Family on their side.

Even knowing all that, though, I felt the risk was acceptable.

For one, Lady Black's offer was basically a way to finally escape my current predicament. Sure, it was nice to be one of the 'gifted' kids, but having an immature magical core was severely restricting my options. I had tried to come up with ways to make up for my current limitations, like Potions and Runes. However, they were pretty restricted in their use, complex, and were very time consuming to implement.

No amount of magical knowledge could subvert the fact that you needed magical power to use it. My fight with Violet at Malfoy's Manor, or even the duelling tournament, proved it. Sure, a generous person could say I got through by outthinking my opponents. A fair-minded one would say I had been underestimated. However, that didn't change the fact that it was mostly due to some sort of Merlin's Intervention that I succeeded only by the skin of my teeth.

If I had a fully mature core… oh, the possibilities. I could use everything I knew in my previous life to fully help Violet out. Imagine, finishing off Voldemort before his resurrection! In fact, I could even hunt and destroy the other horcruxes myself. Fiendfyre could finally be an accessible option!

Secondly, the time to pull off my goal was almost gone. Granger was only temporarily out of commission, and I wasn't sure how long the situation would stay that way, especially with the resources available with the Blacks. If there was any time to finally enact a game plan, it was now. Violet trusted me to a certain point. I truly think I read her accurately on that regard, and now was the perfect time to convince them that I wasn't their enemy.

Of course, being Fate's chew toy, it wasn't going to be that simple. Violet was currently mad about this whole situation. No matter what Lady Black said during our after-class meet, I was pretty sure her goddaughter was a little angry at me for basically ignoring her warning of keeping away.

The fact that I approached Lady Black instead of her? Well, I didn't need the vast—though, admittedly, somewhat spotty—experience of my adult life to know how that would turn out.

I closed my eyes, trying to stop from chuckling mirthlessly. Honestly, this wasn't so different from playing a role as an Infiltrator. A high risk, high reward scenario. The uncertainty. The promise of resolution. The prospect of power. The thrill of danger. Should have been easy, right? This was like being back home.

However, I wasn't going in as a either a steward or even an illegitimate scion of a dark family this time, but as myself. That, in itself, was the scary prospect.

My thoughts must have shown in my expression because the next thing I felt was a gentle hand on my shoulder. Looking up, I could see Daphne looking at me with a neutral expression, trying so hard to hide her concern. "Ron," she said, "if you are this… conflicted about this, you can still back away. You don't need them."

I smiled. "So you keep saying, Daphne."

"And I will keep repeating it until it goes through that thick skull of yours," she replied with a huff before frowning. "Ron, my family can help you. I… can help." She glanced away. "I know you may still be a bit leery about France, but—"

I cut her off by gently touching her hand that was on my shoulder. She looked back at me, an odd expression of relief, happiness, and wariness clear in her eyes. "It's not about that, Daphne. Your parents apologized. You apologized. I still trust you and your family. This whole thing? It's not about that." Then, I smirked. "Good try on manipulating me, though. It almost worked."

She pulled back to cross her arms across her chest, frowning. "You could have at least pretended to not notice that."

"It seems poor form to hide things from my unsaid betrothed."

She growled. "I want to hit you for some reason."

That one made me chuckle. "Story of my life." After a moment, I schooled my expression. Looking at Daphne, thinking of the friends I made in this life, it reminded me of another factor of why I wanted to go through with my plan. Whether things work out well for me in the end or not, any additional resources I could gain would be well worth the risks.

That didn't mean I shouldn't have an insurance in case things went awry.

"I'm doing this like last term," I said. "Like the time we confronted Violet and Granger." When she nodded, I inwardly frowned as I added, "However, unlike last time, I do not want you or the others involved."

Daphne stiffened, her eyes boring on mine. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, I don't want you or anyone else coming after me if things go wrong."

She stared at me for a few seconds before her expression shifted to something darker, angrier, which surprised the hell out of me. It was like her veneer of stoicness was shattered completely, showing me an emotional side that not even confronting the veela in France could compare. "You must be insane to think I would agree to that."

I pondered over my next few words, hoping to say something she could at least understand. "For something like this, direct confrontation is not advantageous. What I need you to be is aware of may happen to me if something goes wrong."

"Ronald," she whispered, almost viciously, "if you're asking me to stand by, aware that you're about to be killed, you have another thing coming. I thought, especially with what you might have discovered about my heritage, you would understand that."

I looked down for a moment before asking her softly, "Will you let me explain?"

Her hands formed to tight fists, shaking slightly. After a moment, her calmness seemed to return, but the fire of her eyes didn't disappear. "Go ahead," she replied somewhat coldly.

"They won't kill me," I replied calmly. "The Vow covers that. However, that doesn't mean they won't try to—" I wondered what I could say to not set off her temper before deciding on "—do something." I focused on her reaction, a bit relieved that I got the intended effect. "It doesn't really matter how they try to take me out, because what matters is how they will cover it up. Like the Delacours."

Daphne frowned, though her anger seemed to abate. "What are you saying, Ron?"

"Your family had to compromise with the veela in a disadvantage, correct?"

"Yes," she replied softly, looking away.

"That's because your family was not completely aware of the plot against you and couldn't counteract quickly enough. This isn't the case. We have the edge of moving against Violet and Lady Black the instant they show treachery. Not will that ensure my safety, but it could potentially give you leverage against them. If they try something…" I paused for a moment before sighing. "I need you safe to enact a counter, as quickly as possible."

I fished my shrunken trunk and paper figure out of my pocket before handing it to her. She looked at it for a moment before back at me, questioningly.

"This… is everything I have," I said. "Inside has the evidence of last year as well as the item that I want to dispose of. My substitute can answer your questions if everything goes wrong. If anything bad happens to me, I want you to act in what you think is right. And I trust you to make that sound decision that I can't seem to make."

She stared at my trunk, eyes wary, for what seemed to be an hour before she looked back at me. "I would rather have you safe, Ron."

"Believe it or not, this is probably the best way to keep me safe. In the long run, at least."

"I don't believe that," Daphne replied, shaking her head.

I looked deeply in her eyes. "Daphne, I know I ask too much. Maybe I don't seem to make sense. Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm not acting as smart as I should. But I need to do this. And I need you with me." I lowered my voice a bit. "Please?"

It took a few moments, but her hand took my offered trunk and unactivated clone nonetheless. After a deep breathe, she asked, "What do you need me to do?"

I smiled gently, trying to ignore the gnawing regret of being a right bastard for manipulating her like this. "First, I need a drop of your blood."


Sitting in the common room, I waited until it was time while still feeling that uncomfortable pit that settled in my stomach. Trying to interact with my friends didn't seem to help much, and for some reason, they knew that something was wrong. Or maybe it was because Daphne was silent and still like stone. Tracey didn't appreciate that, not one bit. She kept glaring at me everytime Daphne just grunted at her questions non-commitally.

At least Blaise and Milly were trying to act like nothing was wrong.

"Detention, huh?" Milly asked, eyes darting between me and Daphne.

I laughed softly, scratching the back of my head. "Yeah. I guess I pushed my luck on today's homework. Sorry for being a prat all day today. I just didn't think Professor Black would take it that badly."

Blaise grunted, shaking his head. "Why did you feel the need to antagonize a professor all the suddenly?"

I just shrugged. Casting a Tempus spell, I realized it was finally time. "Have to go," I said, standing up. "I'll be back, maybe a bit late tonight. No need to wait up."

Tracey seemed to want to ask something, but Daphne gently placing her hand on her friend's knee stopped her. I shot Daphne a thankful glance, but she just looked at me neutrally.

Sighing, I made my way towards the exit, only to stop when Snape entered the room. Moving to the side to let him through, I was surprised when he stopped in front of me. "Sir?" I asked.

"I've heard about your detention with Professor Black," he replied steadily.

"My apologies for that, sir," I said. "It won't happen again."

He kept staring at me for a moment before shaking his head. "Weasley, if you needed to consult a professor of something, you can ask me. I am the Head of your House."

Ah, so he knew something was going on. Well, that was expected. Nodding, I replied with, "I shall keep that in mind."

"Try not to stay out for too long," Snape said. "It's dangerous."

"Will do. Thank you, sir."

He walked by me, apparently satisfied with our conversation. Looking back at the common room, I saw my friends looking at me. Giving them one last wave, I made it through the exit and began to walk steadily towards the stairs.

Officially, I was supposed to meet Professor Black at the Defense classroom, but she told me to go straight towards the Room of Requirement. Made sense, as it was probably the only place to use magic without arousing any suspicion. Still, the long climb under the darkened corridors of Hogwarts had magnified the uncomfortable feeling that had been persisting since my talk with Daphne.

I focused my thoughts on the plan, to be ready on whatever I would be facing in the Room. I hoped Violet was present because that would make the whole thing easier. In the off chance I was completely wrong about my assessment of the situation, I was comforted by the fact that I still had the Vow going for me, as well as Daphne being smart enough to know how to deal with a fallout.

Still, that comfort was going to fade fast if things got ugly. Whether it would be the process of maturing my Core itself, or the turnout if those two witches felt I had wronged them, pain was going to be the unpleasant part of my current future.

Then again, that was a universal truth that no one can deny. Animals, magicals, muggles… they all feel pain.

I snorted as I reached the seventh floor. It never ceased to amaze how my mind seemed to comfort and disturb me at the same time.

The hidden entrance was already revealed. I waited a moment, steeling myself before knocking gently on the wooden surface. It took a few seconds before it was opened, and immediately, the room's scent hit me first. It was an odd combination of rosemary, thyme, and other aromatic herbs. I could also smell wooden polish for some reason. Very pleasant. I took a deep breath before shaking my head as I looked at Lady Black.

I had to stop for a moment as I saw her clothes. It wasn't tight-fitting or revealing, thankfully, but a loose-fitting and monochromatic robe. It was the first time I ever saw Lady Black in such simple clothing. Even what she wore when she taught in class were more elaborate than the other Professors' in Hogwarts. I was a little unsure how to react with that. The scent wasn't helping my thought process either.

"Good evening, Ronald," she greeted with a tight smile. Something shifted inside me, something I couldn't quite put my finger on. "Right on ti—yes?"

"What are you wearing?" I asked, shaking my head to clear my thoughts.

She blinked for a moment, before looking down on her cloak. After a moment, she gave a more natural smile. "Sorry, Ronald, but I can't dress pretty for you today."

"I wouldn't worry, Lady Black," I said automatically. "You are still quite beautiful."

"Why, thank you," she replied, looking pretty pleased with herself.

I was about to add more when I remembered why I was here. Shaking my head again before entering the room, my eyes began scanning the interior, trying to figure out what I was getting myself into. I noticed one thing first. "Violet?" I asked.

Lady Black frowned before shaking her head. "She can't join us right now. She will come later. I promise."

I closed my eyes, wondering if I should modify my plan a bit. I didn't know how receptive Lady Black would be with my story. She wasn't Granger, but I was pretty sure she was given an insight on who I was supposed to be from the deranged witch.

Still, if she was going to go through with this, did that mean she trusted me a bit? Could I convince her of my past?

I shook my head. One thing at a time, Weasley. Motioning in front of me, I asked, "So, this magic that will give me a fully matured core… it's a Ritual?"

Lady Black followed my gaze. In the center of the room was a small pool of water, surrounded by seven tall stone pillars. Glowing at the edge of the pool were ancient, complex-looking Runes, something I wasn't familiar with. The water itself was multicolored—blue, green, with some sort of sheen to it. It was also somewhat opaque, though transparent enough to show off the white marble interior of the pool.

"Yes," she finally replied. "Does that explain my clothing then?"

I nodded before it hit me. Looking back at her cloak, it was one of those types that could be easily undone. My mind suddenly began going to places it probably shouldn't, but still did. "How intimate does the Ritual entail?"

A wicked grin emerged from her face, though quickly hidden a few seconds later. "Don't worry, Ronald. I'm not about to scare you like I did back in my dear brother-in-law's Yule Celebration."

"You didn't," I replied, straightening my back.

"Of course not."

I looked at the pool once more. "What's in the pool?"

"Water, mixed in with a few herbs and oils," she replied.

"What herbs and oils?"

She gave me a lopsided smile. "Family secret, Ronald. Though if you want to know, I can always make you an official member of the Black Family."

I grinned back. "Violet offered and I refused. I doubt you could be more convincing."

She chuckled. "Oh, I can be."

I was about to reply when I realized I was about to say something a bit risque. Even odder, I felt like I wanted to. That was really strange. I shook my head again, trying to clear my stupid thoughts. Maybe this was me trying to subconsciously make myself feel better. Manipulating Daphne, planning, risking life and limb… the situation was probably getting to me.

Taking a deep breath, I felt myself feeling a bit better. The scent seriously was starting to remind me of mum's cooking and if nothing else, that made me finally start working on my thoughts again.

Clearing my throat, I asked, "So, how does this work?"

"First, we relax," Lady Black said, waving a hand that made two comfortable seats appear before she walked to them. "The process can be painful, so let's get comfortable before I start explaining."

Well, that answered one of my questions. "So, a Dark Ritual?" I offered as I followed her towards the seats, waiting for her to sit down first before I followed suit. When the seat started vibrating, I groaned a bit before sinking in completely.

I really needed to get that spell from Violet.

"Partly," she began, also relaxing, if somewhat sensually. As she stretched her body, her inviting figure began to show up even under her loose-fitting robe. "The Ritual we're about to use need to be taken with two steps. First, Cleansing, which will stabilize your core during the second process, as well as expelling any foreign magic from your body."

I nodded. That sounded pretty tame. It made me fear the next step. "What comes after that, then?" I asked.

"A Potion that will physically age you, forcing your magical core to mature with it."

That had me reeling a bit. "What?!"

Lady Black grinned. "Think of it as an Aging Potion. With a bit of Black Family Secret added." She winked. "If you want to know more, my offer still stands."

"It's becoming more welcoming by the minute," I quipped, pondering on what I just heard. I wasn't an expert by any means, but to force a body to age and making the core mature in turn sounded quite painful.

After all, growing pains was not just a statement for muggles going through puberty. Wizards and Witches had them too, doubly more as we didn't just have to contend with our bodies maturing, but also our cores. Forcing both to speed up?

"How painful would it be?" I asked, turning a bit serious.

The question and tone seemed to wipe the smile out of her face. "I can't say. Documented cases said that it ranged from mind-numbing to a simple tingle. It really depends on the of wizard or witch."

"Were they successful?"

"Those that underwent a ritual?" she asked, in which I nodded. "Yes. All of them."

"All of them?" I repeated in disbelief.

"Well, they relate the success thanks to the Cleansing. Apparently, they tried to do that without it, and… well, the consequences were never written. For good reasons, I suppose."

I winced before taking a deep breath and sinking a bit deeper in the seat. "That's… wow."

"You're a man, aren't you?" Lady Black asked with a wide grin. "You can take a little pain, right?"

I rolled my eyes before taking another deep breath. "What age will I be after this Ritual?"

"You'll be, physically and magically, twenty," she replied.

I frowned. "Not seventeen?"

"Safer to put it around twenty," she replied. "After all, every wizard and witch is different. If you're afraid of not being able to attend classes, don't worry. A normal Aging Potion will make you look at the right age again."

"Won't the Headmaster notice?" I asked.

"Oddly enough, no one will know," she replied with a shrug. "Though it was suggested that anyone undergoing the Ritual still attending Hogwarts to stick to basic spells taught."

I nodded, though a part of me wondered why I asked such a stupid question. Violet, maybe even Granger, probably had gone through with the Ritual, which spoke of its effectiveness. The Headmaster hadn't caught on, right?

Yet…

I shook my head. I couldn't describe it, but I felt like I was missing something. I tried to focus my thoughts, but for some reason, my mind was muddled. Probably too many confusing thoughts. Thank Merlin that the seat was comfortable and the room smelled so relaxing.

"I'm sure it's a lot to take in," Lady Black continued, her face becoming serious. "However, Ronald, know that I will be with you all the way. If anything goes wrong, it will potentially be a disaster that not both of us could walk away from unscathed. Violet would never forgive me if something happened to you on my watch." Then, she winked. "Be at ease knowing a powerful, beautiful witch will be by your side."

I chuckled. "That comforts me more than you know, my Lady." I took another deep breath before asking, more seriously, "How bare should I be for the cleansing ritual?"

"I would say being completely naked would be the best, but I understand if that makes you uncomfortable. Hence the reason I prepared a robe for you."

I watched her carefully as she took out her wand and summoned a set of robes from one of the darker areas of the room. Carefully receiving it, I noted it was the same thing she wore, if a bit bigger. I gave her a questioning glance.

"At least we match," she said, her grin widening.

"You seem to overestimate my size," I said, raising an eyebrow.

She laughed gently, which sounded really nice. She should laugh like that more often. "I needed to take to account on what your potential height must be when you're twenty. I think I have a good estimate."

Looking at the robe once more, I realized it was more than a good estimate. In fact, I could see my twenty-year old self fit almost perfectly in this robe. Then, the thought finally hit me. Not only was I going to be almost naked for this whole thing, but I would probably have to be stripped of my weapons. The potions I prepared would most definitely interfere with the Cleansing. Not only that, but I would also be in the presence of an almost naked and beautiful Bellatrix Black.

"Do you really need to be with me in the pool?" I asked, unsure whether I wanted a confirmation or denial.

She looked at me for a moment before replying with a solemn tone that comforted me, "Don't worry, Ronald. I'll keep you safe."

Another deep breath. "Can I keep my wand?" I asked.

"Of course," she replied with an understanding smile. "It is part of you now, so the Cleansing won't be affected. And if it makes you feel more comfortable, I'll leave mine behind."

Well, that settled it. Looking at her, I said, "Where can I change?"

Another wave of her hand, a wooden, foldable separator appeared beside me. After inspecting it and finding it suitable, I went behind it and began removing my clothes. As I was beginning to unstrap my vial holder, I asked, "How long will the Ritual take?"

"Depends on how long the process can take," she replied. "Maybe an hour, maybe more." After a moment, she added, "Ronald, if you are having doubts, you should clear them before we enter the pool. Once we go in and activate the Runes, we'll be trapped until the Ritual is finished."

"Okay," I replied simply. After fixing my clothes, hiding the vial in between the folds, I wore the robe, trying to tie the flaps of the robe securely. I felt a bit awkward, showing myself to her in an ill-fitting garb. I shook my head, realizing how stupid that sounded. Walking out slowly to make sure I didn't trip, I saw Lady Black standing up, a small smile on her face. I steeled myself, gripping my wand low on my right hand, before saying, "I'm ready."

She offered her arm. "Come then, Ronald. Let's get started."

I looked at her offered limb for a few seconds before taking it. The feel of her skin, her warmth, on my left hand was comforting. Her careful, deliberate movements also relaxed me. She wasn't forcing me in on this, but guiding me gently towards the pool. I stepped a bit closer, hoping she didn't mind.

As we came to the dip, I took another breath. The scent so inviting, strong but not stifling. Welcoming. It was all perfect.

Until my feet touched the water.

It wasn't a sudden discomfort, but I felt my body beginning to heat up. As I made my way deeper, my eyes began to travel towards Lady Black's form, drinking in her curves as she took careful steps to enter. The water made her robe cling to her shapely legs, traveling up towards her hips. Blood began to rush from everywhere.

Something was wrong. It was as if I were back in France, in Fleur's presence.

"Wait," I said.

Lady Black looked at me for a moment before touching the Runes. Magical energy suddenly sprang around the pool, glowing in ethereal light. I looked around me, fear beginning to seep in, as I realized a barrier was raised, and I was trapped. I immediately raised my wand at her direction. The only reaction I received was an amused expression.

"Do you know that before the discovery of diagnostic spells, old families would bring a young child as a food taster when visiting a rival Family?" Lady Black asked.

I shook my head. "Lady Black, what—"

"The food taster was there to check for poison," she interrupted as she faced me. My spine began to shiver as my body seemingly was awaiting for something. "Horrible as that sounds, there was another reason to use a young child for such things. One of the more common ways to undermine a Family was to have a illegitimate child from them. As you can guess, Amortentia was the potion of choice."

My eyes narrowed before examining the pool around me. Was I standing in Amortentia? No, couldn't be. It needed gold material to contain it's liquid form or it would become useless after a short time. There was also no presence of the spiraling smoke.

Mixed into the water? No. Water would imbalance and ruin that particular potion. So how?

"The reason why a young child was so important was because those that haven't or were still in the early cusp of puberty would react rather violently. First, the the lingering scent makes them agitated, uncomfortable, destructive. Interestingly enough, those that passed it show an opposite reaction. They become more trusting, playful, and relaxed."

"Oh?" I asked, gritting my teeth. "I'm not feeling any of those, Lady Black."

"Of course not," she replied, hands moving towards the folds of her robe. "Now in contact with Amortentia, as diluted as it is, it produces a more immediate effect. Lust."

Before I could react, it fell off her, revealing her naked form. My body began to heat up completely as my eyes roved around her curves, her luscious and full chest, the shapely form of her waist. I looked at her for a moment, wanting to close in on her, to partake in her.

"Yes, there it is," she said, her lips spreading to form a wicked yet sensual smile. "The lust of a grown man desiring a beautiful woman. Its presence is natural and very telling."

I growled, twirling my wand for a Stunning spell, only for my wand to fly out of my hand, making its way to Lady Black, who took it gently. She turned to look at her left, nodding. Glancing at that direction, I saw the disembodied form of a smiling—

Hermione? I almost took a step back before realizing that my wife would never smile as evilly as that—the grin of pleasure that promised pain and suffering.

Granger. She was cured. Also, was that Dobbie riding on her shoulders?

That suddenly explained a lot of things.

"We got you, we got you, we got you," Granger began singing as she skipped in place. A light, transparent material seemed to fall off her, landing lightly on the floor, revealing both her adult form and the house-elf completely.

The Invisibility Cloak.

"Do you know what your desire tells me, Ronald Weasley," Lady Black asked, making me look back at her. She was walking towards me, stroking my wand gently with her free hand, sending shivers down my spine.

I clenched my fists. "What?"

"You are like my goddaughter and Hermione. An adult in a child's body."