A/N: So I lied. This was meant to be the first part of the final chapter but it grew to be much larger than I had originally planned. So I still have one to go.
This part takes place the same day as the last installment...focusing mainly on Daphne, Hermione, and Tracey.
September 19, 1997 10:30 p.m.
As she skulked through the corridors of Hogwarts Witchcraft and Wizardry under the invisibility cloak Daphne gained a new appreciation for her normal cloakmate.
"This is so cool!" her current cloakmate loudly proclaimed for what seemed like the millionth time, seemingly oblivious to the reason they were using the remarkable artifact in the first place.
"I swear if you don't shut up, I'm going to hex you and leave your body in an empty classroom," Daphne whispered in a much quieter voice.
"Stop overreacting," Tracey replied at the same unacceptably loud volume. "I can't help that I'm excited. This thing is amazing. Besides, no-one is going to catch us and even if they do McGonagall will- ow! Is that your wand?"
"I wasn't joking," Daphne whispered back as she dug her wand a bit further into Tracey's side. "Harry and I have never once come close to getting found out. I will never hear the end of it if I get caught with you doing this nonsense after everything we've set up."
"Okay, okay, you made your point," Tracey replied in a much quieter tone, "but the nonsense is going to be fun."
Daphne was glad Tracey did not see the smile of agreement on her face. "Well, we have to make it there safely first. So no more talking and put a silencing charm on those bottles…"
Fifteen minutes later they were standing in front of their destination. She quietly pulled out her coin and tapped out a message.
We're here. Please save me before this loud moron ruins everything.
Seconds later her coin warmed with Harry response.
On my way. Be nice to the moron.
"That is so cool, and I am NOT a moron" Tracey exclaimed loudly on purpose. It was too dark to see Tracey's expression but Daphne was sure she was smirking.
"We are moments away from pulling this off," she grit out. "Please. I'm begging you. Shut up."
Tracey quietly cast Lumos so her face was visible and stuck her tongue out in response. Despite herself Daphne smiled.
To her relief the door opened and they quickly made their way inside. After personally thanking Harry for his quick rescue the trio got down to business.
"She's in our common room revising our N.E.W.T. study schedule again," Harry said in a muted voice. "I've been sitting with her helping for the last sixty minutes while I waited on you lot."
"Aww...poor Harry," Daphne replied as she rubbed his arm in sympathy.
"She was so excited that I volunteered to review it with her...said it was her favorite birthday present. Don't tell her I only did it to keep her from going to bed."
"I'll thank you for your service later," Daphne whispered huskily in his ear, prompting a smile from Harry.
"Let's wait and see if you are still able to string together a coherent sentence and we'll take it from there," he joked as they entered the Heads' common room.
"What are you doing here?" Hermione asked, suspiciously eyeing the pair.
"Happy Birthday," they replied in unison.
"It's well after curfew and you've already wished me Happy Birthday," Hermione replied skeptically.
"We wished you a Happy Birthday but now we are wishing you a Happy Birthday," Tracey responded brightly, holding up the bottles of Firewhisky in her hands.
"Absolutely not," Hermione replied automatically.
"Hermione," Harry responded calmly, "don't you want to have a bit of mindless fun on your birthday?"
"That's beside the point," Hermione quickly countered, doing her best to look serious. She succeeded...for the most part.
"I'm going to take that as a 'yes,'" Harry chimed in as he helpfully gathered up Hermione's things. "You deserve to have a bit of fun. Let us help you have a bit of fun."
"But I'm Head Girl!" she proclaimed indignantly.
"You sound just like Percy," Harry replied in disgust. Daphne remembered when Ron's brother was Head Boy in their third year and had to agree. As uptight as she herself was at the time even she thought the boy needed to relax.
"And you sound like Ron," she retorted. "There is no scenario where a Head Boy should ever sound like Ron."
"I'm Harry Potter," he replied cheerfully, "the normal rules don't apply to me."
Daphne and Tracey snorted. Hermione folded her arms and glared.
"I'm kidding, Hermione," Harry replied before turning his gaze to Daphne and Tracey, thoroughly bemused. "I told you she would be like this."
"Oh I believed you," Daphne said with a grin. "I just didn't expect that she would be so passionate about it."
"She is going to bed," Hermione intoned before striding determinedly toward her bedroom.
Harry smiled and waved goodbye as Daphne and Tracey quickly followed Hermione. She had to give him credit. Everything Harry predicted had come to pass. She hoped the rest of his prediction would pan out.
As Hermione moved to shut her door Tracey deftly poked a foot in the gap, stopping her progress.
"Move your foot or I will deduct points," Hermione pleaded.
"Tracey stopped caring about losing points after Gryffindor screwed us out of the cup in first year," Daphne replied.
"We defeated Voldemort!" Hermione replied indignantly.
"By breaking curfew and defying McGonagall's direct orders from what I've heard," Tracey said dismissively. "Color it any way you like...you were rewarded for breaking the rules."
"Fine. I'll deduct double points from you instead," Hermione countered as she forcefully pointed at Daphne.
"She stopped caring about points after she helped slay a dark lord and sent a quarter of Slytherin house's parents to Azkaban," Tracey answered on her behalf.
"But I'm Head Girl," Hermione pleaded once again, the fire now fully gone from her voice. "I have to set an example…"
"Just hear us out, Hermione," Daphne replied as she gently pushed her way into the room and took a seat. "Tracey, Harry and I have covered every contingency so you can let your hair down in a safe, consequence free environment. All contingencies have been planned for," she said reassuringly.
"You couldn't possibly have thought of everything I am worrying about right now," Hermione countered worriedly.
Tracey gently directed Hermione to take a seat on the bed. "You are forgetting that Harry and I had Daphne helping us. She's basically the blonde, pureblood version of you. Go ahead Daphne."
"We are all of age so we aren't breaking any laws," Daphne began. "We didn't invite Ginny because she isn't of age and we didn't invite the girls in your year because Harry said they were blabbermouths. No one is going to know anything that happens in here tonight."
"Slytherin students will see you aren't-"
"Tracey and I pretended to go to bed and snuck out using Harry's invisibility cloak," Daphne interrupted. "As far as everyone in Slytherin knows we are currently tucked into our beds."
"The girls in your year could-"
"Our bed curtains are drawn and compulsion charms have been applied so nobody will even think about snooping," Tracy interjected authoritatively. "Even if they find out they won't know it has anything to do with you or Harry."
Hermione remained quiet and waited for them to continue, seemingly mollified with what she had heard so far.
"Harry threatened the prefects on duty tonight not to shirk their rounds or there would be hell to pay. He's monitoring his map as we speak to make sure they shore up anyone else messing around in the castle."
"What did he threaten them with?" Hermione asked.
"You," Daphne replied, bursting out in laughter at Hermione's offended reaction. "He said their birthday present to you would be making sure nothing happens tonight while they are on duty."
"We are only nineteen days into term. They all adore him and think I'm the second coming of McGonagall. It's not fair," she complained angrily.
"Come on, Hermione. You've got them and Harry terrified of upsetting you. You love it and you know it," Tracey interjected.
Hermione bowed her head in an attempt to hide the smile Tracey's words elicited. "What if Professor McGonagall finds out? She will be so disappointed in me."
"Harry told the Headmistress what we were planning tonight."
"You have got to be kidding me," Hermione said in disbelief.
"We are all of age, she was young once, you and Harry are her favorites and she trusts you both implicitly. Her words not mine, according to Harry," Tracey responded gleefully.
"We are taking advantage," Hermione moaned as she rubbed her forehead, "it's not right."
Daphne continued on..
"If there is an emergency Harry has three potions at the ready in case he needs to sober us up quickly. He is going to monitor the map even after the normal rounds are over to make sure everything is okay so we can have a good time without worrying."
Daphne could tell the steps Harry had taken on her behalf were having an affect on Hermione as her face visibly softened.
"I don't like the taste of firewhisky," Hermione continued half-heartedly.
"Don't worry," Tracey responded cheerfully. "Harry has all of the alcohol that was confiscated during last week's surprise dormitory inspection waiting for us in his room. So you have lots of choices."
"He said he turned that in!" Hermione exclaimed. "He is a horrible Head Boy."
"He's turning it in tomorrow, we promise," Tracey reassured.
"McGonagall even offered us something from her private stores if it was needed," Daphne replied, doing her best not to laugh at Hermione's reaction..
"You know, since the inspection was your idea and you've earned so much trust from the Headmistress you really only have yourself to blame for this," Tracey piled on joyfully.
"That is the most ridiculous equivocation I have ever heard," Hermione replied as she stood up and grabbed the firewhisky, briskly filling the three glasses. At their questioning looks she continued.
"I lied," Hermione continued, 'I've never tasted firewhisky so I have no idea whether I like it or not. I just wanted to see if you planned for that contingency. I can't believe you planned for that contingency."
She placed the bottle down and pulled both girls into a hug.
"Thank you," Hermione blurted forcefully, emotion now clear in her voice. "I really appreciate you and Harry doing all of this for me. I know I seem ungrateful but I just worry-"
"I think we're supposed to save the emotional declarations for when we're well and truly smashed," Tracey interrupted before she pulled back and downed her drink, eliciting a laugh from Hermione.
"Well, I have no intention of getting smashed," she said authoritatively before taking a sip and making a slight face at the taste. "But I suppose one or two would be fine."
"Ohhh…" Hermione exclaimed happily before taking a larger sip, "my throat feels so nice and warm now."
Daphne exchanged a knowing glance with Tracey before downing her own drink. Hermione was right...it was rather pleasant.
Sixty minutes and three drinks later Daphne was having the best time. She was currently lying on the floor, her feet on Hermione's bed, staring at the lampshade on Hermione's end table, pleasantly smiling at how well the night was going. She had the best friends. They were so funny. And the lampshade was the loveliest shade of green. It reminded her of Harry's eyes. Harry was the best. Daphne loved him so much. She was broken out of her musings by her best friend in the whole world.
"Time for another drink," Tracey declared happily.
"Yes!" Hermione exclaimed cheerfully as she held out her glass to be refilled, chuckling when Tracey spilled a bit on her hand. Daphne snorted as she watched Hermione lick her hand clean.
With her task complete Tracey plopped back down on the bed next to Hermione. "If you ever got a tattoo what would it be?"
Hermione scrunched her face in disgust and responded. "I would never get a tattoo," she proclaimed.
"Me neither," Daphne joined in. "It's unprofessional."
"And you are stuck with it for life. What if you changed your mind years later?" Hermione added.
"Not to mention the risk of infection," Daphne interjected.
"Exactly," Hermione agreed.
"I'm not sure how but I think the firewhisky is making you two even more uptight," Tracey responded dramatically. "I'm not going to drag you at wandpoint to the tattoo shop...I just want to know what you would get if you had to."
"Lightning bolt," they both replied in unison, causing all three to burst out in laughter. Harry was the best. Tracey and Hermione were the best.
"What about you, Tracey?" Hermione asked after the laughter died down.
"Well I was going to say a dragon but now I want to get a lightning bolt too. Maybe over the Christmas break we could meet in muggle London and-"
"No!" Hermione and Daphne replied in unison again before dissolving back into giggles.
"It was worth a shot," Tracey mused pleasantly as she slumped lazily against Hermione's headboard.
"If anyone has earned the right to get a lightning bolt tattoo it would be me," Hermione stated matter of factly. "I was his friend for years before you Johnny Come Latelys showed up."
"Johnny Come Whatlys?" Tracey asked, looking thoroughly confused.
"It's a muggle thing," Daphne supplied before replying to Hermione. "I would think the fact that I helped Harry end Voldemort using-"
Shit. She'd almost revealed how they did it. She needed to be more careful.
"I almost had you!" Hermione exclaimed in disgust. "Let's have another drink," she abruptly commanded, holding her glass out for Tracey to refill.
Daphne thought that was an excellent idea. She sat up quickly and held her glass out for Tracey as well.
After another round of drinks were consumed Hermione continued on her rant. "I can't believe you still won't tell me how you did it. It's only thanks to me you ended up together after all," she declared as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Daphne lifted her head to look at Hermione. "How did you work that out?"
Hermione looked so pleased with herself. "Harry just casually mentioned you were pretty one day. It was me who checked on you and your family to make sure you weren't dark. It was me who encouraged Harry to get to know you. If I hadn't encouraged him, Harry would have never talked to you. So...you know...you're welcome."
It was all Daphne could do to not burst out laughing at how hilariously wrong Hermione had gotten it. The five drinks she had consumed weren't doing her any favors. She was suddenly struck with an idea.
"I'll be right back," she exclaimed as she stood up and bolted out of the room so she could talk to Harry.
She found him sitting in his bed awake, looking at the Marauders Map. Just like he promised. He was the best. She quickly joined him, plopping her head in his lap.
"Hi," she said, giggling like a loon.
"Having a good time?" he asked, thoroughly amused by her behavior.
"The best!" she exclaimed excitedly. "But I want you to give me permission to share something under the oath!"
"Uh oh," Harry, replied worriedly. "We talked about this Daphne. Maybe you've had enough-"
She quickly put a hand over his mouth to stop him talking. Unfortunately due to her dulled reflexes it turned out to be a bit more of a punch than she had intended. Harry didn't seem to mind though. She could feel him smiling under her hand. He was the best.
She furiously shook her head in disagreement. "Hermione is taking credit for getting us together. I just want to tell her how you set her up! About the fake romance!" She started giggling at the thought before she caught herself and tried to look serious. She needed to look serious if she was going to convince Harry she could reveal that part safely.
Harry gently pulled her hand from his mouth. "You promise that is all you will share?"
She smirked to herself at how splendidly she had pulled this off. She nodded her confirmation soberly and sincerely.
"Okay," he said warmly, leaning down to kiss her on the forehead. "Even as ridiculous as you look right now I trust you."
Daphne ignored the bit about her looking ridiculous and focused on the other bit. She trusted him too! She loved him so much. She was so lucky.
"Aren't you meant to be going back in there?"
"Oh, right," she mumbled as she reluctantly got up. Harry's lap had been really comfortable.
"I'll be back soon, Hare Bear," she said with a wave as she made her way back to Hermione's room.
Tracey seemed genuinely surprised when she returned. "We thought we'd lost you!"
Daphne scoffed as she poured herself another drink. "I said I would be right back!"
"That was thirty minutes ago, Daphne," Tracey replied, causing Hermione to laugh and point at her.
"Think that's funny do you?", Daphne replied, trying to ignore the fact that the five minutes she thought she'd spent in Harry's lap was actually thirty. "Fine. Harry said I could tell you a secret but if you're not interested-"
"No!" Hermione exclaimed as she snapped to attention, the desperation clear in her voice.
"You asked for it," she smugly began.
"Harry mentioned me to you on purpose. He wanted to ask me for help with his idea but needed to know I was trustworthy. He knew you would look into my family and report back."
Hermione looked dumbfounded. "So you're saying...Harry had a plan the whole time?"
"Yes!" she enthused. "We weren't even dating for the first few months...we were just pretending to date so we could work on the plan together." If she could remember this in the morning she wanted to save Hermione's reaction as a pensieve memory.
Daphne wasn't sure how it was possible but somehow Hermione's look of astonishment grew even larger. "I- we- you-" she mumbled incoherently before holding out her glass for another drink. She downed it immediately then continued to stare into the distance.
After a few moments Tracey burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?" Daphne asked. "We fooled you to."
"The look on her face," she gasped. "It's just...too...funny."
Daphne suddenly realized there was something else she could share. Something not covered under the oath.
"Tracey, do you remember when I started talking to Harry? When we were joking about our first meeting?"
"Your first date in the Chamber of Secrets?" Tracey said with a laugh. "That was hilarious!"
"You told her about the basilisk?" Hermione exclaimed, finally coming back to her senses.
"That was real?" Now it was Tracey who wore the gobsmacked expression. "You made up the bit about the sword though, right? Right?"
Daphne folded her arms in triumph and slowly shook her head no.
"Where is the other bottle?"