Few quick notices about my crazy life: 1) I have a new shop now (ElectrikPinkPirate shop is currently down :P) :D But visit the new one. I make pinback buttons now omg O.O Use code MotWB20 to get 20% off LOL! CustomCuriosities . Etsy . com ...no spaces o'course ;D 2) I'll be applying in November 2011 for a yearlong assistant language teacher position in Japan from 2012-2013 so I'll be crazy in a few months time XD….god I hope they accept me, I want it so damn bad O_O…If not, I'll be hosting another season of our tv show XD 3) I'm currently on my 5th language, STILL job hunting, and back in school for fun, so please PLEASE prod me to write XD Tackling so much I end up letting this fall by the wayside, and even being 'busy', it is a lot of fun to write, but I need motivation D: And honestly, guilt gets me writing better than you realize XD Regular prodding on twitter is the most effective, and it's actually THE reason I sat and wrote this whole chapter this month…Real-time twitter-guilt XD

I know, I'm like totally a horrid person :3

Luv, FireV.

The Misadventures of the Weasley Brothers
by
FireValkyrie

Chapter 59: Queen to Knight

Kara was more nervous than ever with her sister gone. And the closer it got to Christmas, the more agitated she became. It was now Christmas Eve, three days past since Live had literally disappeared before her eyes, and still not a word. Though Fred had continually been pointing out to Kara that Live would in all likelihood not be 'writing' while she was gone, it had taken one well-placed Bat Bogey hex from Ginny to shut him up on that front.

With the amount of internal frustration she was dealing with, Kara's outer focus was surprisingly stalwart. Every day she threw herself fully into the attempted perfection and proper brewing of Live's anti-apparating potion. Hermione's help, while very well-meaning and actually rather informative, tended to put Kara in a bad mood in the evenings. Hermione was a by-the-books kind of girl- at least where actual books were concerned. Rules and other fun she, Ron, and Harry got up to didn't fall into any exact category of recognized science- unless general mayhem and unorthodox escapades were now an elective course. Kara rather thought she'd be at the top of the class if that were the case.

So while Live had left a rather messy but informative cache of notes and instructions, there was plenty still left undirected. Hermione, while she had a mind for the combinations and qualities of different ingredients, took a schooled approach to improving Live's potion. Kara on the other hand subscribed to the Hunter School of Thought, which was mainly "screw with it and take that one-percent odd chance". Being Live's own sister, she knew how the other thought and her style and techniques when brewing. If the book said five minutes, she'd do just under or over that going by her gut. If it called for squeezing, she preferred doing it by hand and not the extracting tools available. A dash and a pinch definitely had varying amounts associated with each, but if you asked her the differences she could never convey it. Largely, Live went by full observation, quick-thinking, and what Kara always referred to as "a whole lot of balls for a lady".

So while Hermione's practical approach to brewing would yield the desired effects in regular brewing situations, it was not the strategy Live employed, and not one always followed to the letter when inventing a new potion. Especially when inventing a new potion. Couple all this with Kara's agitation over what she was still calling her sister's "abduction" and one did not have a very amiable Gryffindor by the end of the evening.

"I know Live has it scrawled down here as 'puncturing over the bowl', but maybe we should do it on the cutting board instead…What if we drop more than we should?"

Kara stroked Henry's fur in the top of her shirt. "Live would just take that chance and offset it with valerian root if that happened…" she replied with agitation.

"But then we've upset the balance inside the whole cauldron."

"So we just fix it and up the amounts."

"That's just so wasteful though….I don't think Live would want us wasting her materials so haphazardly."

"If it gets the potion right then I really don't think she'd care. Besides, we have more than enough of everything."

"Right now yes, but what about later? I don't know if the shops in Hogsmeade will have anything good right after the holiday. For the shops that are open, anyways."

"Well then we really have to make everything count!" Kara affirmed.

"Maybe it's time for a tea break," Lee interjected as the two girls worked. Kara shot him an annoyed look. "You've been at it for a while and most of these things need to sit and properly brew before the next steps."

Hermione agreed that tea would be good, and Kara sighed in aggravation. Lee was keeping track of their progress, taking notes to be helpful as to the steps and every little thing they did for later replication. It wouldn't help if they managed to make the potion in the correct state and couldn't do it again. And while it wasn't part of his official job description, Lee was also keeping the peace as Live's absence was exponentially making her younger sister's mood less than agreeable.

Getting up off the floor, Hermione brushed herself off before giving Kara a tight-lipped smile. "Let's continue after we've had a bit of rest."

Kara nodded begrudgingly as the other girl left the dorm. She was stroking Henry's fur with a thinking frown on her face, mad at herself for being annoyed with Hermione, mad at Live for having had to leave at all, and mad that the past three days of effort hadn't resulted in anything she would have called progress even if they were still only in the setup stages.

Lee's legs appeared before her, but she didn't look up, still petting Henry with that frown on her face. Her tone of voice was one of challenge: "I already know that she's just trying to help, so you can shut up."

"I wasn't going to say anything," Lee told her, extending his hand. Kara took it, frowning, as he pulled her up from the floor.

"If Live doesn't make it back here tomorrow I'm going to be pissed off."

"I don't think that's very much in the Christmas spirit."

"I've got a whole boot-load of Christmas spirit for her right where it counts."

Lee gave her a side grin and put a hand on her shoulder. "Want to get a butterbeer?"

Kara pouted but muttered a begrudged "Hell yeah".

sSs

Christmas arrived but Live didn't. Kara's very visual disappointment was somewhat lightened by the fact that early Christmas morning, George finally regained consciousness.

Fatigued, dazed, and confused, George blinked into the faces of his parents like a kitten opening its eyes for the very first time. His mother's tears threatened to spill down her cheeks and the relief his father felt took away the weary look he'd been carrying about the eyes for the past three weeks. It would have been all well and good if George had been aware that he'd spent most of the month in the hospital, and that no one of any consequence was left in the castle.

But he didn't know these things, that days instead of mere moments had passed. A slightly confused look of apprehension and recognition- like he had just remembered something very important- passed over his face a moment before he was attempting to get out of the bed with sluggish determination.

"George don't try to get up so quick," his mother quickly insisted, putting her hand on his shoulder.

"You're alright. You've been asleep for a long time," his father added with some concern over the look on his son's face. "Take it easy."

"No I-" his voice croaked, throat dry. He felt shaky, his heart rate increasing too quickly for someone who'd spent most of the month dead to the world. "Mgh…Live," he said gruffly, swallowing in trying to wet his throat. "Where's Live?"

"Son take it easy," Mr. Weasley said again, placing his hand on George's shoulder and trying to ease him back into bed. "She's fine. Just relax."

"No it's not," George managed, fighting the pressure his father was putting on him, which wasn't easy. "Dad let me up…"

"You've been in that bed most of the month. You're not going anywhere," he said sternly, concern for his son's well being taking the form of a frown.

George's determination didn't wane before his father's, but the panic in his mind was growing by the second. He could recognize he was in the hospital wing, and he recalled Putterly had hit him with a spell, and after that he didn't know. And if he had been here for as long as his dad said… "I gotta see Live….She….Fred or Lee…"

"It can wait, you'll end up hurting yourself."

As weak as he was, George was putting up a great fight trying to get out of his bed. His rising panic was affecting his mother, further worries about his mental and physical state multiplying in her mind. George was quickly becoming violent and erratic, physically wearing himself out after so long a period of inactivity. It took his father to restrain him with both hands before Madam Pomfrey could sedate him.

"I think he'll be just fine, in my experience," Madam Pomfrey said to a teary Mrs. Weasley as George was nodding off. "I was hoping he'd be calm but his reaction is normal enough with everything considered. I'll check him over when he wakes up but I'm sure that boy is as healthy as a hippogriff."

Mr. Weasley let loose an uncomfortable chuckle, patting his son's leg. "And how long until the next uprising?"

Madam Pomfrey smiled with visible relief that they all felt. "Not too long. He's a strong-willed boy."

Mrs. Weasley wiped at her tears with one hand and stroked George's face with the other. So relieved. This son alone was stressing her into an early grave, not to mention his twin and other siblings. But the weight of worrying for him with each passing day was slowly melting away. He'd be okay. His magic should be fully restored by now, no holes, nothing that would jeopardize his being. That's what Dumbledore had said when he'd been brought into the hospital anyways. Quarantined from Live for the better part of the month and resting, he'd be back in ship-shape in no time. It had been the wait that was maddening.

News that George had regained consciousness was spread by Ginny when she had stopped in that morning to wish her parents a Happy Christmas. If their family couldn't all be in one place for the holiday, then Mr. and Mrs. Weasley decided it would be simple enough for them to stay with their children. That George should choose Christmas Day of all days to finally wake up struck Ginny as something that he must have planned just to be dramatic. She didn't know how and didn't think it was actually possible, but oh, she knew he did it on purpose. And she was never more grateful for it.

Kara went back with Ginny to see George, though he was still sedated at that point. Ron was relieved as well as Harry and Hermione, and had what Hermione thought was maybe too much relief in asking if they could all go home and sample his mother's Christmas pudding now. That had earned a sound smack from Ginny, and the dismissal of the whole lot of them from the hospital wing by an agitated Madam Pomfrey.

Fred had opted not to come with the group, and see his twin later on his own as he didn't trust himself with how he might react in front of everyone. But once he had regained what Lee was calling "manly composure", the two seventh years made their way to the hospital wing and were lucky enough that George had roused somewhat from the stupor Madam Pomfrey had forcefully put him under. It was obvious that he was still out of it, but seeing his twin did wonders for his soul.

"Oi George…You look like hell. Happy Christmas." George managed to pull off a comically 'dead' expression that only managed to half-raise Fred's smile. It might have gotten a rise out of Lee had the healer not been wishing Mr. and Mrs. Weasley a Happy Christmas and assuring them that George was indeed an idiot, but one that was tougher than nails.

"Oi…Fred," George beckoned his twin close, looking tired and still under the effects of Madam Pomfrey's careful skill.

Fred put his hand over his twin's, gripping it with a relieved smirk, and came closer. "How you feelin'?"

"I want Live…Where is she?" George asked dazedly. Fred found it hard to tell his twin that he couldn't have her, but that she was perfectly alright and that he should rest up. George visibly calmed, but didn't blindly accept it. "Where is she?" Fred didn't answer him immediately. "She's not in the castle, is she?"

Fred returned George's gaze. "No, she's not. She's perfectly safe though."

George closed his eyes and sighed groggily, scratching at some invisible annoyance above his heart. "I didn't think so. But as long as she's safe…" George's eyes quickly sought out the others in the room before looking back at Fred, beckoning him even closer to whisper. "He knows…Putterly knows everything about the prophecy."

sSs

"The end result has to be something she can present to the ministry…As far as she's messed with it right now we can still only keep items from apparating."

"She wants it to work on living beings next, right?"

"Yeah," Kara said in nod to Hermione as they sat drinking warm spiced cider in the Gryffindor common room that afternoon. "That's the idea anyways."

"But wouldn't that create some problems?"

"…also need a solution that can counteract it after it can work on people….probably have to test length of time it'll last before another application is needed…make time-different batches…." Kara rambled off.

"Wait we need to do all that before the new year? Professor Snape expects that much to be done? We're going to need a bloody time-turner to pull that off!"

Kara looked up, wide-eyed at Hermione's outburst. She settled with an apologetic smirk. "Oh no, sorry. Just thinking out loud…"

Live would have her work cut out for her if the ministry accepted her potion. Kara was able to follow the instructions Live had set out and try the things in her notes but it went beyond her own potion brewing skills- and regardless of what Snape might think of her personally, Kara had a knack for brewing herself. But this potion Live had set up bordered on crazy in difficulty. She didn't know why her sister had even set out to create such a thing or if it was just a fluke, but if she could properly get down the right formula she was looking for, the possibilities were endless.

"There's only so much further we can go though," Hermione noted. Kara nodded. "A few of the cauldrons will need supervision but it's going to be up to time relatively soon. Some of those things need a full day sitting and brewing."

"And we have to sit on our hands in the mean time," Kara said with aggravation, worry writ on her brow. Patience was not something the Hunter girls had in spades, and they couldn't spare the time anyways. In one week Live was set to present a good-quality working potion. At best she'd manage it and get an audience with the potions council. At worst, Snape would fail her…Though to Kara that wasn't necessarily the end of the world, but to Live it might as well be where her potions career and record was concerned, not to mention her pride.

Where in the hell was Live? She had assumed "back before the holidays" meant back by Christmas. Well, it was Christmas, and there was still no Live. George was awake, which Kara thought would have made Live extremely happy to know, but she couldn't so much as owl her sister. She wished she could have given her her Christmas present ahead of time now. Live had been very generous this year to Kara indeed even with everything else considered. But it wasn't as fun to have or enjoy without her there. She had picked over the gifts given by her sister but they remained largely untouched.

"How do you think that Brown got out of the castle anyways?" Kara asked for the hundredth time.

Hermione sighed into her cooling cider, knowing where Kara's thoughts were centered. "I honestly cannot wrap my mind around that." And she'd said as much since the day Live had disappeared. Even though they were working together to set up Live's potion, Hermione had been using the time not dedicated to that task at gobbling up every book she could that might give her a hint as to how Mr. Brown had done it. Sure there were ways around certain magic, but to disappear right before their noses from within the castle was something else entirely. So far her search turned up fruitless, though she suspected her answers lay somewhere within the forbidden books section, if they lay anywhere at all.

"She'd better hurry the hell up," Kara grumbled. "If we end up perfecting this thing completely on our own I call authoring credits. Not to mention any cash she's going to get."

Hermione smiled at that, thinking Kara had a legitimate claim there.

Fred and Lee came through the portrait hole. Both girls looked up expectantly knowing where they'd come from.

"George is awake now," Lee spoke as he hopped down. "Awake and chatty."

"OH! Really? I'll tell Ron!" Hermione opted, leaving her cider glass to the mercy of the common room in search of George's siblings. She was fairly certain Ginny was still out and about, but taking the stairs quickly she figured she'd check up on that as well.

"Kara, we need to talk to you," Fred told the blond, taking up the trail Hermione had just tread. He was perched on the stairs looking behind him until she got up, and then the three of them convened in the seventh year dorm.

"So what's all this then?" Kara asked, comfortably plopping down on Lee's bed like she owned it. The seventh year gave her a frown.

"George knows you've been in his bed, Kara." The blond looked like a deer caught in the headlights. "And he said to get bent."

"Pfft, as if," she grumbled, looking away as the statement was as much of an accusation as an affront on her person. She hadn't had any chocolate in that bed for a while after Live had clobbered her last.

"Actually what he really said wasn't fit for lady's ears," Fred told her with a grin. Kara showed him her lady's finger for all she cared on the sentiment. "I think it would be nice of you to ask the house elves to do a really thorough cleaning of the sheets before either him or Live get back."

"I didn't dirty them! I didn't eat anything with fall-off-able sugar in it!"

"All the same," Lee said, wrinkling his nose at where she drew the line as she was currently occupying his own real estate, "I think it would be a nice Christmas gesture on your part."

"That Putterly bloke knows about the prophecy," Fred said, dropping the bomb without missing a beat.

Kara blinked, looking like the deer for a second time. "Who talked?"

"We don't know how he knows. But I think it's very good timing that your sister is out of the castle," Fred said. "And it makes more sense of why he's such a prick." He paused a moment in troubled thought. "He plans on making the prophecy come true…or fulfilling it anyways."

Kara quickly ran through this in her mind. Putterly should still be in St. Mungos if the kind of damage Live did to him meant anything at all…Live herself was currently MIA, George was out of commission, and none of them would have said anything to an outside source. This meant a few very troubling things. How long had Putterly known? How did he know? She wouldn't even entertain the idea that he was bluffing. And just what did he think he had to do to make the prophecy come to pass? Kara found everything about it vague at best, and she couldn't fathom what he'd think he'd get out of it.

"So what's this mean?" Kara looked to the two seventh years for answers. They gave her blank stares right back.

"Well it's definitely not good, regardless of how long he's known."

Kara wrinkled her brow. While she considered the fact that Snape might expel Putterly, she wouldn't put her money on it, and that made things all the worse if he came back to school when and if he got out of St. Mungos. It made sense why he'd been acting weird around Live, though 'weird' was putting it mildly at best. Live was just trying to live a normal life as she and George had decided to up and ignore the prophecy if they could. It didn't look like her outlook was shared on the matter though. What part did Putterly think he had to play in it? Things became too complicated when people focused too hard on prophecies. That's the decision they'd all come to. The attention and heed given to one could make it come true all on its own, and though they didn't know what it would mean if it did, they all rather decided they didn't like it.

"I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it," Kara said with worry.

"At least we're not in the dark anymore," Fred told Kara. But what bothered him the most was that Putterly had told George at all. Why do that? Maybe he thought he'd get away with getting Live out of the castle after that. All of them would be further on guard now. "Just another reason to be wary about Slytherins."

"Mm," Kara murmured in response. They were all silent a moment in thought. Just when they thought they'd been given a break, something new and nasty poked its head from the sand. "Everyone's still been burning their Prophets, right?"

"I haven't seen anything else in it, but yes," Lee nodded.

"Good. Live doesn't need to know about any of that." She didn't impart that she'd kept copies hidden in which to get back at the writer of such nonsense later, but the boys didn't need to know, and frankly she didn't feel like sharing. Were the writers of that damn paper having a slow news week, or what? They needed to keep their noses out of school business in her opinion. Kara sighed. "Well, hell…I guess everyone else should be given a heads-up about Putterly."

"I don't think he'll be returning to school after what Live did to him," Fred imparted. "It's probably alright."

"If she punched holes in his magic, we won't likely be seeing him again," Lee spoke with a nervous laugh. "I don't think I've ever seen someone do that. It was definitely scary."

"You wuss," Kara replied with a wry look.

"Though if what she did was anything like what happened with George," Fred spoke with care, "then Lee's probably right."

Kara exhaled in response, nothing to say on that matter. "So…George is chatty then?"

Fred gave Kara a smirk. "I wasn't kidding about the bed sheets you know."

With a determined frown Kara glanced at George's vacant four-poster. "That bed has seen a LOT worse than anything I could ever do to it."

Fred and Lee both broke out in laughter. Kara's statement likely held more truth than either of them really wanted to spend time thinking about.

sSs

George was in and out of consciousness all night, body and mental fatigue contributing to his restlessness. He was having nightmares about being in the hospital wing, which as he actually was he couldn't distinguish dream from reality. He was trying to get out of bed but couldn't, trying to reach the soul bubble Live was inside but he just couldn't make his limbs work to drag himself off the cot. There were creatures and things approaching and he couldn't get anyone's attention as they all chatted standing about in the infirmary, and Putterly stood laughing at him with a bloody nose, and he tried to call out but his voice wouldn't work.

"Oi, George." A hand on his side, gently shaking him. He roused from sleep to see his father looking down at him. "You were having a bad dream is all."

He blinked sleepily a few times, rolled over with what sounded like "thanks dad," and went back to sleep as Mr. Weasley smirked and returned to his own cot. George's quickly deepening-breathing signaled that he was already returning to restful sleep. Mr. Weasley couldn't remember the last time he'd needed to soothe one of his boys from a nightmare, but he was glad George would sleep soundly now. Tomorrow would be an entirely different day, one that would hopefully see his son better-rested and coherent. He got back into a comfortable position and smirked when he saw his wife looking at him from the neighboring cot, smiling.

sSs

Ginny was aggravated for two reasons. And it showed in the way she was briskly tromping about the otherwise bright but chilly castle.

Reason number one happened to take the form of her elder brother's incessant whining over Christmas pudding and cakes and other treats their mother usually made this time of the year. That he was letting his stomach dictate policy in basic manners when their older brother had just woken up thoroughly irked her. Calling him a glutton only got the argument of "It's a once-a-year thing!"

Reason number two was that Harry hadn't realized her request to bring Hedwig a Christmas treat up in the owlry was actually a veiled invitation for some light-to-moderate snogging, and would he like to come along? That he'd told her to feel free and give Hedwig a pet for him had thoroughly annoyed her to no end. She was currently trying to stomp out the stones she walked on wondering why in the hell boys were so thick and couldn't read between the lines, especially when a girl was in need of a good snogging indeed.

Ginny nearly tripped herself in stomping a particular irksome stone, abruptly stopping as something caught her eye out one of the third story windows. Trying to see if her agitation was playing with her vision now, Ginny gaped at the figure in the snow just inside the castle grounds. Her breath fogged up the cold window pane and she quickly wiped it, deciding it wasn't her imagination and indeed a dark-robed blond figure was coming up the path.

Sprinting back the way she'd come over many a well-stomped stone, Ginny bust into the common room out of breath, shocking the occupants therein.

"Bloody hell, you trying to give a man a heart attack?" Fred asked his little sister as she stood there out of breath. "Everything alright?"

"Where is Kara?" she asked in a huff, directing the question to Hermione whose hand was paused in the book she'd been reading.

"She should still be up in the dorm brewing," the bushy-haired witch replied. "Is everything alright?"

"Live is coming up the drive!"

She got two pairs of blank eyes staring at her. "What?"

"Are you sure it's her?"

"She's right outside coming up to the castle main entrance! Come see for yourself!"

Hermione left her book forgotten as she jumped up and mounted the stairs to burst in on Kara and Lee in less than dignified fashion.

"Holy hell Hermione!" Kara shouted at her in shock. "I've got volatile stuff here! You want me to blow the dorm to kingdom come? This is delicate stuff!"

Lee smirked, acting like he hadn't been startled, and picked up the quill he had been just previously taking notes with.

Hermione eyed the ladle the blonde witch had poised over the cauldron she sat in front of, liquid being slowly measured and added. "Is that Erumpet fluid of all things?" she asked. She got a grin in response, and Hermione inwardly cursed at the timing. Kara wasn't kidding. If she didn't pay attention to what she was doing she could very well blow the dorm up in a very twins-esque fashion. "Kara, pay attention to what you're doing-"

"Duh, of course."

"-and listen to what I'm going to say." She got the full attention of both at that. Or at least, the full attention of their ears as both watched the metallic pot she stirred. "Ginny says she just saw Live."

Kara almost dropped the ladle she'd been stirring with into the pot as she gaped at Hermione. Lee dropped quill and jaw. "Live? Where?"

"She's coming up the path to the castle right now."

"Well I- this stuff- I just added- Damn and hell and damn!" Kara stuttered and cursed as she was getting to her knees, her stirring of the cauldron quick and agitated. She gave Hermione a helpless, eager look. "Just go and meet her! I'll be right on your tail!"

Lee was already off his seat on one of the beds. "Kara you can just-"

"No. If I don't get this fully dissolved and mixed in it could set everything back several days and ruin everything for Live!" She looked at Hermione beseechingly, and at Lee, too. "I'll be right behind you, just, make sure it's her!"

"I'll wait with you," Lee opted, staring at the cauldron as if he could hurry the mixture on with will alone.

Hermione waited a moment watching the other fifth year stir furiously. Kara was loyal to her sister. No one could accuse her of ever being less. With an acknowledging nod Hermione left and quickly took the stairs back down to the common room. Ginny and Fred were waiting on the outside of the portrait hole.

"Well is she coming?" Ginny asked, looking behind Hermione as the bushy-haired fifth year hopped out.

"She'll be right behind us, so let's hurry on."

Ginny quickly led the way without further question as they made their way through the castle to the front entrance. Their footsteps echoed on the stone around them as Fred's questions about Brown went unanswered by Ginny. She'd only seen Live. Or at least, who she thought was Live. She supposed Brown could also be down there, but she'd only seen from a snowy third-floor window. Hermione questioned if it really was her or not, but of course, Ginny had no answers.

The three were out of breath by the time they made it to the castle entrance. Wrenching open the door was another matter but they had that settled in a few moments. Scanning the castle grounds quickly produced the form of Live right within sight, but Fred stopped either girl from trudging out into the snow.

"What's the big idea? Let go!" Ginny told her brother with a frown and huffed aggravation.

Walking up the path to the castle, slowly, trudging through snow at a zombie's gait, Live didn't raise her head so much as to see where she was going. She was nearly within shouting distance, and she looked sickly, paler than usual, and even a little thinner in the face. Her robes were filthy and darkened, and looked ripped and ruined in some areas. Overall posture spoke of senses being dead to the world, bodily navigating towards home that was the castle. She didn't raise her head as their voices came to her on the brisk breeze.

Fred was scrutinizing the figure before them. "Just hold on a second. What if it's not her?"

"Oh Fred stop being stupid," Ginny told him, wrenching herself of his grip though not attempting to further proceed.

"I'm not being stupid," he responded resolutely. "We told you lot about Putterly."

"Yeah, so? There is absolutely no way he's out of St. Mungos yet. Let alone that he'd be able to successfully impersonate Live. And Godric only knows why he'd even want to try that."

"Regardless of us knowing she hasn't been about, that doesn't mean the rest of the world is aware of that. The grounds aren't exactly safe just because she's been gone."

"You're being ridiculous," Ginny told him bitingly. "Right Hermione?" she implored as she turned her head towards an odd clicking noise behind them.

He scrutinized the figure before them, ignoring the two girls at his sides. "Oi! Live!" Fred hollered out in one of his rare moments of being overly-cautious.

The girl in question raised her head, no immediate reaction on her face at seeing the three waiting in the doorway watching her progress. In moments her eyes suddenly went wide and face broke into a full, genuine grin. The change in her expression was so immediate it gave Fred enough alarm to shove his hand into his robes for his wand, but he was suddenly knocked over from behind as Lee's voice told him to watch out a few moments too late.

While it was a white wolf that had lunged into the snow and jumped at Live, it was a blonde fifth year that attacked her in a hug.

"Sorry mate, I tried to give you a heads up," Lee huffed as he trotted over, out of breath. "She's damned fast."

"I told you it was fine," Ginny said, leaving arm in arm with Hermione to venture out into the snow as her brother was helped up by the huffing healer.

Kara's eyes teared up as she held on to her sister, nearly knocking the both of them to the snow in her grasp. "How did you get here? Where the hell is that bastard?"

Live toothily gave her sister a tired, wearied grin. "…he made me learn how to apparate…told me to get back on my own…Kara….I need to sleep," she half grumbled, voice sounding weak with exhaustion.

Kara took notice of how much her sister was leaning on her, the circles under eyes which looked almost vacant. Yes, she needed to get in bed pronto. "Yes yes, let's go," Kara told her, linking arms.

Live was shaky, exhausted. "Nope…I'm not gonna make it," she amended with an apologetic grin at her little sister. And shocking everyone else present, Live turned into Kitty-Nimbles and promptly fell to the snow, unconscious to the world thereafter.

Kara hauled up her limp cats' body under the arms, cradling it to take her to the dorm as she had figured Live had intended. Though it disturbed her to be carrying such a limp cat, she didn't know how much time she'd have to get her to the dorm while in that state, but she didn't waste what she was granted. She gave everyone staring at her a quick "What?" moments before sweeping past them in all haste to get her sister in a proper bed.

sSs

"Now I can explain," Kara started at the looks of accusation by association she was getting in the common room.

"Why am I not surprised?" Lee said, looking like he was getting a Kara-induced headache. "Seriously, not surprised at all."

"Bloody Kitty-Nimbles is your bloody sister?" Fred exclaimed for the fifteenth time, his own reactions fueled by the same terror the cat had put them all through. "Now we know why that damn cat only ever liked Ginny…"

"Godric, I think I've undressed in front of that cat," Lee muttered to himself, pacing in thought.

"She's not a legal animagus of course," Hermione intoned, looking troubled by the thought.

"And you'll all have the good taste to keep it to yourselves," Kara threatened pointedly with a glare to Hermione. "What Harry and Ron don't know won't hurt them."

"George is going to bloody-well flip," Fred spoke to no one, but kept his sour look aimed at Kara.

"George already knows," Kara stated matter-of-factly, brow raised in surprise that George had kept such information solely to himself.

"…course he bloody does," Fred muttered to himself in disappointment.

"We learned together," Kara supplied her little audience. "It was summer and we were bored as hell…I bet Live several galleons that she couldn't do it."

"And you lost," Ginny said with a grin, still smirking in Fred's direction because Kitty-Nimbles had always liked her best.

"OH big time," Kara said with a smirk. "And she taught me because I said I'd rat her out if she didn't-"

"Are you sure you were sorted into the right house?"

"-and anyways it was good for spying and playing pranks on the neighbors," Kara finished with a wry look at Lee. "And for infiltration of other houses. We all know what you do on your own time, Lee."

Lee's face got hot. "I don't do anything untoward!" Kara's grin made him continue, "And if you say anything about the Room of Requirement incident I'll make a coat out of your fur and sell it to Hagrid!"

That got a snort from Fred.

While Lee made various demands of Kara in exchange for his silence on the matter, hoping to at least get a Kara-free zoning-promise out of all this, the fifth year reminded him that this was Live he'd be dealing with. Her wrath coupled with an agitated wolf animagus who could sniff him out of any hiding place promptly shut him up. Ginny smirked and promised that of course none of them would say anything, remarking that some things were fun to keep a secret, and she'd personally never done anything to get on Kitty-Nimbles' bad side to begin with. Hermione looked bothered but also promised to keep it to herself.

With a toothy and innocent grin, Kara disappeared back up the stairs and left the four of them to their own. She suspected that they'd be bonding over the experience and exchanging Kitty-Nimbles war stories in no time.

sSs

Live slept for an entire day, not waking up once even though Kara had spent most of that time budged up right next to her in the fifth year's dorm, playing with the bracelets on her wrists and never letting her out of her sight.

Everyone who was left in the castle had been notified that Live had returned. Madam Pomfrey had demanded to see her at once, and it took some finagling but they had temporarily moved the brewing station they'd set up in Kara's dorm into that of the boys'. As far as Kara saw it, even with Professor Snape's knowledge, the mediwitch wouldn't be thick enough to leave unquestioned the kind of large setup they currently had going, and Kara didn't want any interference whatsoever with so much hanging in the balance.

Aside from general fatigue and exhaustion, Madam Pomfrey's declaration that the Slytherin witch just needed a whole lot of rest and some good hearty meals was some of the best news Kara thought she'd ever want to hear. Dumbledore would want to see Live himself of course, so if the fifth year could please advise her sister in that matter when she woke up, she'd appreciate it.

Sometime after breakfast during what Kara was calling the Official Reptilian Hibernation Period, Live had stirred in bed and blinked tiredly a handful of times before dragging herself blindly into the bathroom, eyes slits with low energy. What Kara had also assumed was one long pee-break turned into one long showering session. Only after the fifth year was fairly certain her sister had used all the hot water in the castle did she disturb her solitude.

"Oi, Live. You develop gills while you were gone or what?"

There was a lowering of shower pressure before Live's voice could be heard through the door. "You have NO idea how filthy I am." Kara grinned on the other side of the door. "Burn those sheets."

"You hungry? Madam Pomfrey said you needed good meals. Want a good meal?"

"I'd eat anything right now," came a clearer reply as the water was turned off. Kara could hear splashing. Apparently Live was going through an amphibian phase.

"How about some pot roast? Muffins and potatoes and all those gross vegetables you like?"

If Kara could have seen her sister's face, she was sure she would have been bug-eyed for her tone of excitement. It made the fifth year smirk. "You bring me something like that and I'll let you do whatever you want to the Slytherin dorms."

Live didn't hear anything else from her sister after that, and spent a good ten minutes scrubbing her body clean for the fifth time. By the time she'd done all she physically could to be and feel clean, Kara had come back and the two had taken up seating on Kara's bed. Though the two girls hadn't exchanged many words thus far, Live's extreme gratitude and pleasure at the hot cooked meal was fully communicated in what Kara would call poetry format through the gusto with which she ate. It made the fifth year smirk and leave her sister to the meal as she checked the various bubbling cauldrons that had been moved back to her vicinity.

Live thought she'd never tasted anything better in her entire life. Kara had to tell her to slow down because she was not going to be giving her sister mouth-to-mouth if she choked, and why the hell was she scarfing like it was her last meal anyways?

"What the hell did you eat while you were gone? Didn't he feed you?" Kara prodded as she watched with morbid fascination. "You've lost weight."

Live paused over her next bite, putting it down in favor for pumpkin juice. "I don't want to talk about the things I've eaten to stay alive," she told her, taking a long drink from her goblet and looking minorly ill. Kara gave a quirk of her lips, wanting to know all the more for that statement. "He made me handle those matters by myself."

"But you were gone for a long time."

"…I'll never hurt another rodent as long as I live."

Her statement silenced the fifth year who'd stopped rocking on her heels at that point, crouched in stillness next to the cauldrons. She chucked another blueberry muffin her sister's way, not wanting to think about it herself, and shoved her hands into her robes in thought.

"You know, George woke up Christmas Day."

Live stopped in her demolishing of the muffin and swallowed with disbelief."…George is awake? Is he alright?" Live's voice was so utterly hopeful it kept any teasing well out of Kara's voice.

"You want to go see him?"

"I…mm. I can't," Live settled, though she looked thoroughly agitated about that, her mind working on problems Kara couldn't see.

"I'm sure you can. He's all better. Dumbledore said so."

"I can't get anywhere near him. Not unless Dumbledore personally says it's alright."

"He's FULLY better. Pomfrey said that Dumbledore said that once George got his strength back he could go back to everything he does normal. He's just a little weak right now so he has to stay in bed."

"He's still in bed, huh?" Live shook her head, though her eyes said different. "No I…That's not a good idea." Kara harrumphed but Live paid it no mind, instead viciously ripping apart more muffin. The fifth year tried not to imagine it as some fuzzy little creature happily frolicking about the forest. And speaking of fuzzy creatures…

"You want Henry?"

Live brightened at that. And producing the purple puffskein from her blouse, the platinum blonde handed him over to her grateful sister. Kara thought at that moment that she lavished a great deal of affection on the puff that she couldn't on George, and if Henry's pleased humming was any indication, he was happy to see her again too.

"Lee almost sat on him once, and I lost him in the covers for an hour the other day but he's been a very good fuzz ball."

Live let the "sitting on" comment slide and pushed away what was left of Kara's procured meal, leaning back and shoving the puffball into the crevice of her neck to nuzzle and scratch it. The only noises in the dorm were Henry's oblivious humming sounds and the bubbling in the various pots. Kara chanced a look at her sister, who was staring up at the ceiling of the four-poster.

"So did you learn much?" Eyes shooting to the fifth year, Live raised a brow. "You've still got those bracelets on."

Live's eyes went to the manacles on her wrists. She offered her sister a smirk. "I have to physically concentrate to take them off-"

"You can take them off?" Kara interjected.

"Yep," Live replied. "It's not easy yet though. I have to connect my thoughts and emotions to my actions. I can do it about three out of four times though." She offered the younger year a grin. "I still haven't managed to get both off at once by myself though, but it gets the job done."

"I thought you said Dumbledore could only remove them."

"That's what I was told. But according to Brown, only someone of Dumbledore's power can remove them. It was a cinch for him to take 'em off. And he made me learn how to get around it. Otherwise he was perfectly comfortable with leaving me as powerless as a muggle for the rest of my life if I couldn't. At least until it ended me," she finished with a grin.

"If you think you're anywhere near as powerful as Dumbledore, Slytherin destructor of all things holy or not, I'll eat Henry."

Live laughed, but it was a heavy, burdened sound. "Not in the slightest. He made it crystal clear that I'm no sorcerer." She stroked Henry's purple fur, deciding she wouldn't be returning him to her cannibal of a sister. "It's not a wand," she spoke, lifting one of her wrists to her sister's vision, "but he helped me figure out how to channel magic around the obstacle of these things in the same way we normally use wands for direction." She put her wrist down, sighing. "I'm going to be like a little kid again in that sense," she said with frustration. "I'll be Seamus: year one," she added, laughing and earning a snicker from Kara. "Though he actually told me that the next step would be to get a new wand and keep building from there."

"So you can actually have one now?" Kara asked without missing a beat. "I thought Dumbledore didn't want you to have one. Pfft, well I'm with Brown on this one."

"Well I can see why now," Live told her, "but after what I've had to go through….Frankly if Brown says I need a wand, then dammit I'm getting a wand."

Kara's grin was wide and pleased. "What in the hell have you been doing all this time?"

Live gave her a side smirk in response. After several moments of unanswered silence, Live sighed. "Surviving."

"And what exactly does that entail?"

The Slytherin witch was silent a few more moments before settling on an answer. "I'm not really ready to talk about it."

Though Kara made a disappointed noise, she made no further mention on the topic, and went about scribbling some notes down on parchment instead.

Live was laying across Kara's bed in the silence, belly sated and body clean. It wouldn't be as easy as drowning herself in the shower to clean her mind. But she'd work up to that as she had had to with everything else. For now she occupied her thoughts with the fact that Kara was working at cauldrons Live recognized as her own. The Slytherin supposed they hadn't had an amazing breakthrough after all then. "Sorry I missed Christmas."

"No biggie."

Live pursed her lips at the nonchalant response. She put her arm across her eyes as she spoke, vision black to the world but ears open. "You know, it's nice that you've been keeping at it but I've already accepted that it's all over; we're not going to get anything after all this time. So you can just stop. Why are you still brewing?"

"What do you mean? I've been at this for days and you're just going to give up? The hell you are."

"I've already accepted that it's over," Live told her from the bed. "And that's okay. I'm okay with it."

"No it's not! Don't say that when we've all worked so hard! And you have no idea what it's like to brew with Hermione for days on end!"

Though Live's arm covered most of her face, her mouth quirked in a smile. "Kara, I have been gone for three weeks. Three bloody weeks. I've counted the sunrises. It's done. I've accepted it. I'll probably be taking potions class with you now instead of George." She started laughing. "Or maybe the three of us will be togther with all the work he's missed. Snape is going to hate that decision. But you know what? I'm okay with that, so don't worry anymore."

"What in the hell are you talking about?" Kara stopped with what she was doing and looked at her sister with very real concern.

"Well if Snape thinks you're trouble on your own, then clearly-"

"No, no Live you've been gone five days. Five."

Live sat up and looked at her sister, Henry tumbling to the bed. "No, three weeks. I have counted twenty sunrises since he took me."

Kara's look went from mild concern to alarm, and her tone was soft, carefully measured and worried. "Live, Christmas was just yesterday."

Live looked lost, wondering if she was losing her mind. She knew she had counted a total of twenty sunrises. She hated sunrises. She wouldn't mess that count up. It didn't make sense. "If you're playing a joke it's not funny."

Kara shook her head. She recognized the expression on Live's face, trying to debate if Kara was having a go at her expense or if some part of her had lost it. She worried for her older sister. "I think we should go see Madam Pomfrey…"

Live's eyes were searching, her mind running over the time she was gone. There was no way she was mistaken. She gave Kara a distrustful look. The fifth year gave her a frown back.

"Don't you think if you'd been gone that long then everyone would be back? You think the castle is normally this quiet?"

Live threw her legs over the bed, needing to be in motion. She wasn't sure what was happening but it meant only one thing. She suddenly looked at Kara, as if renewed. "Holy shit you mean there's still a chance?"

Kara nodded, her frown of concern still in place. Live settled bright-eyed next to her little sister, full of vigor and drive while her pygmy puff hopped forgotten among the bed sheets.

"Well what have you accomplished so far? What stage are we at?"

Kara handed over the notes as she watched her sister quietly, observing for anything out of the ordinary. That Live thought she'd been gone for three weeks irked her. That she'd given up on her potion was bothersome as well. Kara wondered at her behavior overall thus far. "You know Fred and Lee have it out for Kitty-Nimbles now, right? I mean they really, really weren't happy about it."

Live looked up, a haughty expression on her face as if she'd done nothing wrong. "They can go get stuffed." She turned her attention back to the loose leafs in her hand as Kara's mouth slowly broke into a smirk.

There was the sister she knew and loved.

sSs

Distracting her mind with the potion task at hand, still disbelieving that she had time and not all was lost, Live was making several adjustments and writing new notes on the formula. Kara had taken over the job she had delegated to Lee, helping to take notes herself and hopefully make the goal they were shooting for. Live threw herself into the task at hand wholeheartedly the rest of the day and much of the next. She was close to getting it right. She just knew it. And though Kara's wand still did not agree with her entirely, they were able to make satisfying progress to the point where Live was almost ready for field testing.

George had been told the day before that Live had finally returned to the castle, and now that she was up and active, he was getting incredibly irritable and impatient that she hadn't been in to see him yet; something he was quite adamant about vocally, and it was beginning to grate on Madam Pomfrey's nerves.

His parents had returned home at his gentle prodding ("Leave me alone already! I'm not an invalid!") and Ginny, Ron, Hermione and Harry had all gone with them to enjoy the remainder of the week and holiday. Live had urged Kara to go with the group, appreciative for what she'd done for her sister thus far, but for several obvious reasons Kara had declined most vociferously as well, and Lee and Fred were damned if they were going to trade a full house for having run of the castle to themselves.

The final stages were set, all that remained was to refine the potion and test, and make changes as needed. It was a hectic and aggravating time just waiting, and when Live's snark had reached an all-time high and Kara had had it with Lee's secondhand commands to get Live in to see George, the fifth year innocently suggested a walk about the castle.

"If you don't take a break and end up messing up all my hard work I'll still cut you out of the company," Kara had threatened. And as the castle was at an all-time low for bodies dwelling within, Live had agreed that a little jaunt would do them both some good. That the destination for their afternoon expedition was the hospital wing Live didn't need to know.

"Neville sent some sap from the aloe plant I gave him," Kara remarked to her sister as they descended stairs.

"Oh? Good or bad?"

"The crystal kind," the fifth year informed. "I haven't thought of a use for it yet, but I think we could do something fun with it."

"Define 'fun'," Live said with a smirk. "You know how hard that stuff is to get."

"Expensive too," Kara input. "Which is also why I gave the plant to Neville. Only he could raise it up to that point successfully."

Live snorted. "You're devious." Kara only offered a toothy grin in response. "Well, as long as it will keep for a while, I think we should save it. That stuff has properties that could be really useful in a pinch."

Kara gave her a wry look at her lack of enthusiasm for experimenting with the unusual substance. Live suddenly stopped, a look of realization on her face. Kara was hoping this would be something fun. "What?"

"I just thought…How in the hell are we going to test my potion when it's ready?" Kara gave her a look like she was stupid, and Live frowned. "I'm not allowed outside of the castle if you recall. And this is an apparating-related potion, as in we can't bloody test it."

"Well you know how to apparate now."

"What part of 'not outside the castle' don't you get? Not to mention I've only done it two times."

Kara looked momentarily pensive. "We can have Fred and Lee take it down to Hogsmeade and test it." Live frowned at that idea, and soon Kara was frowning at that as well. "This is problematic."

"Yeah, ya think?" Live retorted.

"They'd like to tear you a new one for being Kitty-Nimbles."

"Fuck my life," Live muttered, and resumed their walk.

"We could bribe them," Kara suggested. "Though I don't think they'll come cheap."

"No," Live replied, "That's just you."

Kara paused at the top of the stairs Live was already halfway down. "I told you I am not a whore!"

Live smirked at her sister. "I hope you have some good dirt to blackmail them with…It would make the bribing cheaper." Live got a shove as Kara came down the stairs for her "cheap" comments. She snickered and hopped over to her younger sister in a surprisingly lightened mood. "And this will need to be accomplished pretty much yesterday," she remarked.

"I can do it," Kara affirmed with a frown. She turned her focus on Live. "To start with, you're visiting George."

Live stopped though Kara kept walking nonchalantly. "I can't do that."

Apparently Kara's blackmail would start with her older sister. "I'm going to tell him you said that. And other things."

Live frowned, and caught up with Kara. "What other things?"

"I'll come up with something," the fifth year replied darkly.

"I haven't talked to Dumbledore yet," Live argued.

"So? Madam Pomfrey has and she says it's cool."

Live was muttering various profanities and threats as they walked the path she recognized would lead right to the hospital wing. She wasn't happy like Kara would think she should be, but afraid, worried, and anxious. She did not think this would be a good idea, though she figured as long as she didn't actually enter the wing, she could look in from the door. That was the most Kara would get out of her.

Kara muttered that it was going to be costly indeed to get Lee and Fred to help them, and that her potion had best damn work, when Live thought for a moment that she was hallucinating. But standing in the cross-section of the large hallway before them was the sorcerer she'd gotten used to referring to as simply "Brown". He was standing looking at her in the usual way, though she had no idea where he'd come from or where he might be going.

She'd stopped in her tracks without realizing it, felt a tug on her robes from Kara but ignored it, her left hand already removing the bracelet on her right and affixing it to the other. Brown's normally expressionless face quirked in a smirk. Live placed her weight on the leg behind her, already casting a spell as Brown flung one her way completely without warning. She remotely registered Kara's yelp of surprise, but paid it no mind, concentrating on blocking whatever was coming at them.

He didn't say anything, but she heard the words he'd said to her on that first day repeat in her mind as worries about her younger sister behind her began to creep into her mind and unsettle her, threatening her focus.

"You are no sorcerer so you truly cannot best me. Quit retreating to your magic's recess and use your brain."

His words had come so clearly that they'd cleared the fog in her mind as she'd tried to defend herself. She'd felt like she kept being rolled by waves, and whenever her head happened to go under, she began to lose the control, instinct only keeping her head above water.

She didn't know how long they'd been dueling that first time. It could have been only a few minutes or well over an hour, but Brown had been determined to assess her full abilities right from the moment they'd dropped to the snowy wood in the middle of nowhere. Her shackles had enlarged and fallen to the snow without warning, and without a word he'd begun a full assault on her person.

As Brown's magic was on a collision course with her own, Live was watching expectantly as the main force of it broke into two, attacking from different directions. Exposing her back to him but shielding spell already up, Live turned and addressed the second problem with another spell, too late to shield like the first but in time to divert it. She repelled the orange spellfire to curve it right back at him as the first bulk of the spell had already struck the barrier over her shoulder. She'd already turned back at him, keeping track of Kara close to her side gripping her by the arm, to launch a counter-attack as he easily dispersed the magic thrown back at him. Though the spell she'd aimed at him with her own magic was anything but weak or forgiving, he easily diffused that as well.

The grip Live had on Kara's forearm was painful, but Kara was too attentive to the situation to care, let alone do anything about it. Her sister's body was taut, anticipating the next action from the orange-haired man, and while Kara had produced her own wand fairly quickly once the attack had begun, she hadn't interfered both out of shock and in reaction to the death grip Live had had on her the entire time. In the moment that seemed to stretch in eternity, Kara decided to raise her wand against the man in order to assist her sister, but Live forced her hand down with double-manacled wrist, not sparing Kara a glance but keeping her focus on Brown. She was trying to predict what he'd do next, and if she'd be capable of blocking it, or countering, or if she had no chance and they'd have to physically dodge.

Brown did something Live hadn't experienced before, nor did she expect it from the powerful sorcerer before her: he snorted in amusement.

She blinked, unsure, but not relaxing her stance in distrust. Kara tugged her arm slightly in Live's grip, and she unclenched just a bit. But the Slytherin was anything if assuming after having spent so much time in this man's presence. Though he merely raised his hand, palm facing her. Live was ready to spring and pull Kara with her, but he only spoke and then turned his back on the sisters, taking his leave.

"Miss Witch."

It was dismissing, satisfied, and as close to commending in tone as she'd ever heard. He'd never used her name once when she was "training" with him, but had simply referred to her as "Miss Witch" when he wasn't attacking her person. Live knew a caustic remark when she heard it, and the epitaph was meant to remind her how small she was. As this had been her Head of House's method of teaching since she'd been sorted at Hogwarts, the treatment didn't phase her all that much, but she had to admit that perhaps he was pleased with her this time in using his debasing title for her being.

She had questions for him that needed answering, but at the top of her mind was survival even if he appeared to be taking his leave. She wasn't stupid enough to completely relax until he was well out of view and on his way to wherever he may have been going in the first place.

"…will you let go of me already?" Kara asked, giving her arm a tug. Live released her sister with a muttered apology and looked at her a moment before her eyes went back to scanning and observing, wary. "What just happened?" Kara asked as she rubbed life back into her arm.

"A reminder," Live answered, slight frown on her face, still looking around. "…what was he doing back here?"

"Seriously, what in the hell just happened?" Kara repeated, feeling a little shaky from unspent adrenaline in her system. She was staring at her sister with something akin to alarm and awe. So much had just happened completely without warning. It had blindsided her. "What in the hell were those spells?"

"I don't know," Live replied automatically, "but they hurt. They really hurt." Kara was giving her a wide-eyed gape. Live wouldn't be able to put into words the kinds of spells she'd experienced and what they'd done to her physically if not mentally, and she didn't attempt to do so now. "I don't think he'll be back…" She was edgy. "Let's get a move on." It was Kara's turn to grab her sister's arm. Live winced. "What?"

"What. In. The. Hell?" Kara enunciated, not able to articulate just how messed up and weird and surprising and frankly frightening the sudden encounter had been. The fifth year was gaping at her sister, her command of her magic alone not being something she was used to seeing these days. Should they tell someone? Did Dumbledore know the man was here? What was he even doing here? Kara wasn't about to surrender her sister for a second time.

Live looked at a loss for words. "That wasn't anything. It caught me by surprise is all. I didn't expect him to come back to the castle." She thought for a moment. It made sense on some level. The ways he'd messed with her mind, confusing her, making her think her sister and friends had been with her out in those woods. Illusions that for a while she had thought were real. He'd really tortured her mentally, though it had made her realize how serious a lack of control of her magic could be. And now she was back in the familiar and safety of the castle, not some backwater forest. She hoped that if this was a test with the real people themselves, then she'd passed and he'd leave them all be. "I honestly didn't think I'd ever have to see his face again."

"You're going to need to tell me everything," Kara stated flatly, still holding on to her sister's arm.

"Yeah," Live murmured, pulling away to get moving. "Don't worry about it. It was just a test. I'm sure."

Kara let go and Live's left arm was hanging at her side a bit unnaturally. It didn't take long for Kara to notice and draw attention to it as they went warily along. "Did he hurt you?" She hadn't seen them take any damage, but as far as the sorcerer was concerned, that didn't mean much.

"Oh, no," Live remarked casually. Her left wrist was home to two bangles now, and it was starting to affect her. She hadn't replaced the right one on her other hand yet. "It's just hard to move after a while with two on one arm," she said. Her fingers barely twitched as if she was attempting to move them. To Kara it looked like she had intense nerve damage. "There has to be balance while it's restrained. He told me that much, but I don't want to put it back on yet," she informed. "I wouldn't put it past him to show up again unless that really satisfied him, and like I said, I can only manage this three out of four times. And you're no match for the crap he's capable of."

Kara huffed in agreement and thought that was a good idea. To her understanding, Live had full access to her magic at the moment, and it would be a good idea to keep it that way if he came back. "Make's sense," the fifth year said. "Does it hurt?" she said, looking at her sister's limp arm with perplexment as they walked.

"Yes," Live replied with a smirk. Kara's brow shot up. "It's not fun to be me," she tried to joke. They were silent several moments as they walked. Live sighed, tired and strained. It would take concentration to put things right again. She'd like to kick Brown's ass for that, though she knew that compared to him in power, she was an easily crushable bug. She only hoped that he was satisfied with whatever that was supposed to have been.

"You need to get your shit together," Kara remarked with wisdom. That earned a surprised laugh from Live.

"You don't even know the half of it."

They were largely silent as they continued on path to the hospital wing, but the closer they got, the more Live dug in her heels, literally and figuratively. Kara kept telling her to shove it and that she was going in, and Live kept arguing against it, and by the time the two girls stood before the doors, Live held her ground firmly rooted in place, refusing to go in.

sSs

"I'm not joking, mate. There will be hell to pay for this," Lee remarked.

George grinned. "I didn't think it was any of your business about the things my girlfriend can or can't turn into."

"This is a matter of security! I'm nearly positive I've undressed in front of that cat," Lee affirmed with a glower, not amused. "Not to mention all the scratches and other tortures we've endured."

"And that means retribution," Fred informed his twin solemnly. "On you."

"What? Why me?" George asked as he tried to look faultless. "Kitty Nimbles got me a bunch too!"

"Because we can't exact our revenge on her," Lee informed him, looking troubled.

"Why not?" George asked with a smirk.

"Well first off, because she's a girl," Lee said as if it were obvious.

"That's never stopped anything before," George informed, his smirk growing.

"And also- Wait, what do you mean 'why not'?" Fred backed the conversation up distrustfully. "She's your girlfriend. You'd allow us to get revenge on her?"

"Go for it if you think you can," George said with a grin.

Lee and Fred were both giving him distrustful, disbelieving looks. "And what's that supposed to mean?" George was silent, trying to keep the smirk on his face from growing any larger.

"So you think we wouldn't succeed then?" Fred posed to his twin.

"I never said that."

"Or he thinks she'd wipe the floor with us instead," Lee proposed, giving George a betrayed look.

"Wait, do you think we'd fail or that she'd get us?"

"Isn't it the same thing?" George questioned, trying to keep the genuine amusement off his face.

"No. No it is not the same thing," Fred said with a frown to his twin, a very mock-insulted look upon his face.

"But the end result would be the same," George murmured with the straightest face he could manage without bursting into laughter.

"You traitor."

George did start snickering then. "Maybe you should just let it go," he suggested with a laugh.

"Not bloody likely," Lee said crossly, wondering what else he might have done with that cat in the room when he'd thought he'd been alone.

There was a creaking and some aggravated, high-pitched tones before the door to the hospital wing opened. The three seventh years looked up expectantly, and Kara marched her blonde way over to them looking disgruntled. Her body language matched Lee's tone and own stance.

"Speak of the devil," he murmured.

"You'd better not be referring to my sister," Kara said crossly, though her joke had been spot on. She gave Lee a dirty look when he looked surprised and caught. "Oh shove it, Lee."

"Where's Live?" George asked expectantly.

"Yeah, I thought you were attached at the hip," Fred intoned.

"She's outside," Kara informed them. All three had the decency to actually look shocked. Kara herself looked bothered and insulted. "She won't freaking come inside."

"What?" George looked insulted at the idea itself. "Tell her to come on in!"

"Yeah, what's the deal?" Fred asked. "He won't bloody shut up about it until she does."

"Oh bugger off," George told his twin. He was flinging back the covers as Lee tried to stop his evident intent.

"And what do you think you're doing?" Lee asked, the healer in him taking over.

"If she won't come in then I'll just go out."

He was smacking Lee's hands away from him when the other boy put both hands on his shoulders and looked him right in the face. "You ain't gettin' out of bed, mate." Not after all the worry and nonsense he'd put Lee through in trying to watch over Live for him. His ass was going to stay put proper for once.

Fred agreed. "Why won't she come in? Pomfrey says it's fine."

Kara looked even more aggravated. "That's what I said. She's scared to." All three boys regarded her with quirked looks. George's face took on a frown. "It was all I could do to get her this far."

Fred let out a bothered huff. George tried to get out of bed again when Lee threatened him and looked to Kara for answers. "You told her it's absolutely safe now?"

"Yes, especially with all things considered." She looked pointedly at Lee. "I tried dragging her in but frankly that didn't go too well." She also took threats to root-beer devastation and candy-stash burning very, very seriously.

"Doesn't she want to see me?" George asked, starting to get concerned. Kara gave him a look like he was stupid, and turned back to Lee, waiting.

"Well what do you expect me to do about it?" he asked. She shrugged as if it wasn't her problem. "Oh for Godric's sake…" Lee decided to man-up and left George's bedside to tackle the problem outside the wing. He tried to put matters relating to Kitty-Nimbles and sensitive information out of his mind, though it was obvious that he was not happy about it.

Kara smirked after him, hoping he might have some success where she didn't. Live needed to see George. She knew that. And after the nonsense they'd just had to deal with, and everything else up to that point including the stress of an experimental potion, and Kara really thought that George was the only answer for her sister's peace of mind.

"Why'd you have him go and not me? Not that I'm especially complaining," Fred asked Kara as they waited on Lee.

"Because you have no tact," she said matter-of-factly, earning a huff and a glower.

George would have laughed at that, except all his attention was on the hospital wing doors. He wanted to know that Live was alright, that nothing had happened to her. While he'd been fully informed by his twin about the goings-on while he'd been out, and the assurances by Lee that she was just fine even after returning to the castle, George wanted to see it with his own eyes. He found everything that had transpired without his knowing hard to swallow, but his main concern was over her state of being.

"She does know Dumbledore is the one who okayed everything, right? What's taking so long?" Fred complained.

"She's stubborn and she's scared," Kara informed him. He huffed again in annoyance. "And we were attacked by that sorcerer just short of getting here, so she's being all difficult to boot." Both twins regarded Kara with slack-jaws, shocked silent by her nonchalant statement. While it hadn't been the blonde's intention to say anything on the matter, this was taking longer than she'd expected, and Live's mood wasn't exactly in the best of states at the moment anyways.

She raised a brow as she realized both seventh years were still staring at her. "She's alright," she added to her previous statement. "According to her, 'nothing happened'," she finished sorely.

George was halfway off the bed before Fred fully sat on him to keep him in place. "What the- What do you mean you were attacked? What's that man doing in the castle?" Fred asked as he was shunting George's attempts to forcefully move him off. He remembered the sorcerer quite well, and could have done without knowing he was back inside the castle. One could count on gunpowder and fireworks to get you if you weren't careful, but where honest-to-goodness sorcerers were concerned, Fred thought he rather preferred the company of explosives.

Kara shrugged. "No clue. Live said he was testing her. Frankly I don't like that man."

Fred started to threaten his twin as George was promising bodily harm of his own if he didn't get up. Kara told them both to shut up with an aggravated yet thinking look on her face. She hoped her sister would just come in on her own power. She really didn't want to risk Live destroying the root-beer stash just to get her in here, but she knew that this was something the Slytherin witch needed to just get over with and do.

The door creaked back open and Lee stood to the side, trying to coax Live inside the hospital wing. While it was mercifully free of people or general activity, she was still hesitant to enter. As far as she had trained herself, she was not to go into the wing under any circumstances. Staying away from it was beat well into her, and this was the closest she had come in so many weeks. She was still unsure of how her presence would affect George's health regardless of the assurances she got from others. She didn't want to accidentally hurt him.

As she wouldn't enter of her accord, and Lee was getting impatient and huffy, he wrapped an arm about her back and moved her through the doorway. She was inside the hospital wing for the first time in a very long time, and stood rooted to her position, nervous and observant. Meeting eyes with George as he and his twin were tangled in what looked like an uncomfortable wrestler's position, the boys stopped whatever they were doing, and Kara smirked, glad Lee had come through.

Live saw George mouth her name and smile, but she couldn't make herself get any nearer than this. While it didn't feel as if she'd violated any barriers or anything, she didn't know for certain and didn't feel right being in the vicinity.

Lee, however, had had enough of her stubbornness, and brought it upon himself to get her where she needed to be. He took both of her shoulders behind her and just started moving forward until she gave.

She was being forcefully propelled towards George, her heart rate increasing dramatically, and she was scared and stayed rigid as a board as she was being moved forward by a very determined Lee. George didn't have to press Fred too hard to get off of him, and the other twin went to stand by Kara with a smirk at the healer's obvious bravery in this matter. Lee steered Live right to the bedside to deter George from moving from his bed.

Kara muttered under her breath how stubborn Live was, though she was smiling at the situation. But finally being close enough to touch, Live still didn't, and kept her distance.

George sighed, though his annoyance was feigned as his eyes quickly studied her, bright and happy. He gave her a placating look and quirked his brow. "Honestly." He held out his hand to her, and very tentatively she brought hers to him. As her fingertips brushed his palm, he hissed at the contact and she immediately jumped back, retracting her arm as if she'd stung him. "Haha I'm only joking!" he laughed with a wide grin, holding his arms open to her invitingly.

She frowned, unable to find words, and knocked him one while Fred laughed at his twin. Live was muttering under her breath at him, various profanities, and it made the other boy snicker.

"It's what you get, you worrisome arse!"

"I suppose you're right," George said and grinned at his twin, grabbing Live's hand (and Fred gave her a shove from behind for good measure) sending her right into George's waiting arms. He wrapped them around her and made to drag her further off her feet as she fumbled and struggled to regain her balance, scared and shocked and worried and just so, so glad to be near him. His face was in her neck and his hand in her hair, wondering how he'd managed without her in his arms. It felt like a missing piece of him had been returned. "I've missed you, Live," he whispered.

She hadn't counted on what his closeness would do to her after a month of pining for him. His scent, his warmth, his embrace. She'd resigned herself to pushing the memories of it all down so she could cope better and focus on the difficult tasks in front of her mechanically. But she was shaking. She couldn't hold back the tears.

She brought her arms up to hug him around the neck, her face buried in his shoulder. He sighed with a smile and pet her, keeping tight hold on her. He wasn't going to let her go for anything, so relieved she was indeed alright. And judging by how she nestled up to him, she wasn't opposed to the idea. It relieved him of the worry Kara had been spouting before.

"I'm sorry, George! I'm sorry!" Live told him fervently as she cried into his neck. She couldn't stop her tears, and her whole body shook as she held on to him. How she'd missed him so much. Everything she'd crushed down came bubbling up to the surface and she couldn't stop any of it.

"Don't apologize," he told her. He felt her move to look back at him, but he let his face meet hers before she could look at him. He kissed her cheek, and then her lips, and brought her back against his chest to embrace her. "There's nothing….there's no reason."

"Geez, get a room you two," Kara said with disgust, though she was grinning.

"Oi, don't say that!" Lee turned on Kara. "That's our room!"

Kara's lips quirked in disgust yet again. "Ew. Pervy. You and Fred need all the privacy you can get," she said, deciding to leave on that note as she was confident Live would be there for quite some time, and it would be safe to let her be.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Fred hollered after her.

She turned around to look at each boy for the same measure of time. "I've seen the things you two get up to when left alone…"

"Oh do not even, Kara," Lee started, face getting hot.

"Yeah, bugger off. Though that was kind of funny," Fred stated, though his frown said otherwise. They still owed George for that little prank.

"That reminds me…I have a bone to pick with the two of you," she said with a grin, her words chosen for the exact looks they incited in both seventh years. "Step into my parlor," she said before taking leave of the hospital wing.

Lee was frowning, looking to Fred for choice if they should follow or not. With one look at the way George was carrying on with Live though, the choice was obvious. "I guess we follow the lesser evil," Fred said with a smirk.

"Are you sure she's the lesser?" Lee said not without doubt as they left the wing.

"I'd rather not ponder that," Fred decided. With a last look into the hospital wing, they followed Kara out, worry and perhaps just a little curiosity as to what she had planned that required their presence.

The wing doors creaked closed and George looked up in surprise. He hadn't noticed the three had gone. He smirked and held Live close, kissing her cold cheeks as she still wept.

Live couldn't imagine how grateful she'd be to be held in his arms again, to smell his scent, to feel his warmth. It was all real and all right. He was really okay. Her magic hadn't done irreparable harm leeching his from him. "George…I've missed you so much," she told him again, tears still flowing and voice full of pain. "I didn't know if you were going to be okay or not and because of my magic-"

"Don't worry. You're hardly going to be the death of me," he said with a smirk. He realized that she didn't think that was funny, and he wiped the grin off his face and wiped at her cheek with his thumb. "Everything's all right. Okay? I can't stand to see you cry."

Her hand was over the one he had on her face. She closed her eyes on the sensation, so relieved she couldn't do anything but cry. If not for the clarity of her mind she thought she might be dreaming. She hugged him again and kissed his skin. "It was close, George. This time is was really, actually close."

"I'm sorry I worried you," he said softly. He stroked her hair for the few moments they were silent, her hitched breaths becoming more relaxed, though she wasn't sure her tears would ever stop at this point. "I love you."

"Love you too," she said into his shoulder, holding tightly to him.

George's hands were roaming about her person, but not for their usual intent. "Are you alright? Fred- and the others- mentioned some things."

She met his eyes, and they were full of concern, underlying worry writ deep within. "I'm fine," she told him with a smile.

"You've lost weight," he stated, tone safely neutral. His statement caused her eyes to look troubled.

"Kara says it's only been a few days since I left…" she paused and looked him in the eyes, as if asking for him to believe her, "But I swear George, I've been gone for three weeks. I don't know how, but I have. Brown definitely had me for three weeks."

He pulled her against him at that, not believing she could have been gone from the castle so long and be perfectly fine. He was grateful, though it drove him nuts to have been out of action for so long. "Did it help?" She nodded into his chest. "Sorcerers can perform magic we can't without the use of a wand. I know that much.…Maybe he reordered time."

She looked up, mind working quickly. "Is that possible?"

He shrugged, drying the remainder of tears from her face with his palms. "We can do it with time-turners, so I don't see why he couldn't do it without. Though from what I've heard about them, that's not magic you wouldn't notice."

Live looked troubled, and he hugged her again, kissing the side of her face. "…maybe he did it when I slept," she proposed, not having come to a conclusion to account for the lost time. "Though I didn't ever sleep for very long by my account."

George pulled back until she looked up at him, worry writ on his face. "What did he do to you?"

She was silent for a long time, long enough that anyone else might have thought she'd decided to answer the question with silence. But George was patient if not on-edge, giving her the time she needed to order her thoughts.

"It was a lot of surprises," she told him ponderously, tone disturbed. "The first day he dueled me till I passed out." She felt George's grip tighten on her, but he remained silent. "He's powerful, George. Too powerful."

"That's usually how they are," he said, tone carefully measured.

"He told me three things: If I didn't get food and shelter, the elements would kill me; If I didn't anticipate his attacks, he'd kill me; And if I didn't utilize my magic for the first two, my magic would kill me."

She could feel George's heartbeat strong and fast in his chest, his body uncomfortably rigid and grip on her very firm. "And Dumbledore's the one who said this guy was going to help you?" he asked in a too-soft tone that made her frown with worry.

"He helped me in ways that I don't think Dumbledore was capable of, George."

"Damn right! Dumbledore wouldn't have put you through anything near that crazy!"

"Exactly," she said matter-of-factly, and then just looked at him in the silence that followed. His frown was etched deep into his face, thoughts of the harm he'd like to do the man evident in expression. She sighed, but knew he wasn't stupid enough to pick a fight with a very real and very powerful sorcerer. "It was very practical, George. It was a good method."

"Good?"

"Well I don't want to say 'good'," she countered quickly, "but it was effective."

George was silent, thinking on the matter, and she didn't say anything herself until he spoke again. "So, you think it was all just to teach you, then?"

"No, I'm sure he would have left me to the elements, and while I don't know just how powerful he is, he didn't go easy on me with his spells. I recognized what some of them were, and the other ones I now know to dodge under any circumstances."

She'd opted for her true opinion on the matter, though the result of it wasn't what she'd hoped for. George looked murderous. Live buried her face in his neck, inhaling his scent and trying to make his stiff body respond to the pliancy of her own. "The Death Eaters didn't show me mercy. Putterly….Well I don't think he knew what mercy was. I'd thought Brown might've gone easy on me since he's an acquaintance of Dumbledore, but he didn't either. And I'm glad. I need to be able to defend myself properly under real circumstances, George. And that was as safely real as it could have gotten. Dumbledore might have been able to create similar circumstances but deep down we all know he wouldn't be able to hurt one of us. With Brown, I was desperate." She looked up, catching his eye and trying for a smile that came out pitiful looking. "You know when I get that way I can end up hurting people…and I don't even know I'm doing it. That's the worst of it, but I have some control over that bit now at least. And he wants me to get a new wand."

He didn't smile, still frowning, and while she wasn't happy about what she'd been through either, she was just grateful she'd come out the other side with a little more control over her magic. Given the option to do it over, she wasn't sure she would take it, but she was glad that she was more stable now. She hugged him around the neck, pressing her lips to his throat and his jaw, then his cheek and his lips, and he kissed her back.

She needed this. She needed it so badly after so much worry and isolation and separation. He was devouring her mouth, making her gasp and sigh, and there were silent tears running down her face again. She loved him so much, and needed him after so much pain and mental anguish. Though it may have only been a few days for him, she'd had to go without being near him for what seemed like months, and feeling guilty about it the entire time. She'd forgotten how warm he was, the feel of his lips or the breadth of his hands on her back. It made her incredibly lonely even though she was right there with him.

He stopped what he was doing to wipe her face with his hands, and kiss her lips once. "Don't cry, Live. I'm just glad that everything's turned out alright."

"Please promise me you won't go off and secretly do anything dangerous anymore," she pleaded. "I know it's a little selfish, but you have no idea how much I've needed you these past weeks."

He held her against him apologetically. "I'm sorry, Live. I really am." He pulled back so she'd look at him, and he gave her a half-cocked smile. "I promise anything even remotely dangerous I have planned, I'll do it all out in the open."

She didn't looked amused like he thought she might, but troubled. She looked away, inwardly sorting out her thoughts. "I mean it, George. If I've ever meant anything before, I really mean it now." She turned her eyes back to him. "If I had to watch you die again, I think it would break me. Completely break me. So just please…please don't."

He quirked a brow. "Again?"

She heaved a sigh at the thought. "Out in the woods, Brown cast illusions. Only they weren't just illusions. I could touch them, and they had flesh and blood. I don't want to say that he was reading my mind; I think everything considered I would have noticed something like that. But it was more like he could see into my heart." She looked pained at the memories, fresh but silent tears dripping down her cheeks. "I had to watch every one of you die because I couldn't keep it together. I wasn't able to hold him off or get my magic under control."

George looked utterly shaken. "That's sadistic."

"That's life. Or it very well could be. I know what could happen if I don't keep it together. My magic could manifest in ways I'm not aware of and I never want to be out of control or helpless again. And though at some point I realized it wasn't real, I could never take the chance that it might not really be one of you. Watching an illusion die is still just as painful."

The memories were fresh and painful too. She'd wanted to go home. By the fourth day, tired, hungry, and sick of running, hiding, and dodging, she was begging for him to take her back, but her cries fell on deaf ears. And like some godsend she'd come across Kara in the woods. Live had been confused, bewildered, but never more grateful. She'd wondered how far they'd been from Hogwarts after all and if Kara had sniffed her out in wolf form, and did she think she could get them back? Was she alone? Were the others here? A slow nod had told her 'yes', but as to the location of anyone else she didn't say.

She'd shaken Kara, asked what was wrong, moved her head side to side checking for injury or other reason she was acting so odd. Then Brown had attacked out of nowhere.

She'd managed to hold him off a good ten minutes, struggling with her manacles, struggling to manifest her magic and keep track of Kara around the volatile, unpredictable man. Her sister wasn't acting normal, but dazed, not herself. Brown got in a good shot, something that paralyzed Live with ice-hot pain, and she could barely move in the snow. Kara wouldn't run as Live yelled. She couldn't deter Brown from his course. She had tried so, so desperately to move, to get off a spell that could do something, but like a lamb at slaughter Kara had stood there as Brown had delivered a spell she herself had used before to similar ends: Esclicier. She felt part of herself die as she watched her sister drop to the snow, convulsing in a spray of blood, and then cease to move.

It had destroyed her. She couldn't move her body. She couldn't get to her sister. Her magic wasn't obeying her. She'd cursed Brown, degraded him, tried magic that couldn't work on him, begged him to take her life too. He'd regarded her with a look as if she wasn't worth his time, and wandered off, simple as that. When she had finally been able to move again, all out of tears and dead inside, her sister's body was gone. Nothing was left but blood on the snow. Soaked through, freezing, murder pumping through her veins, she'd tried to find Brown but that has resulted in nothing. Further trekking through the snow, following the footprints Brown had left behind had resulted in another set and treaded paths. It was the beginning of the slaughter of her friends. Ginny had been next. Hermione after that. Lee had followed suit, and it all lead up to George.

When she had been exhausted, barely able to stand and the spells she'd been able to manage barely effective, Brown had taken the last thing she'd had left. Looking back in her mind, she found it obvious that Brown had saved George for last. She also thought she should have known by that point that it wasn't possible or any of it real. But that didn't change the fact that the robes she'd returned in still had blood stains on them that shouldn't have belonged to a phantom, and his illusions had been more than real enough for her at the time. Looking back now, safe in the castle, it all seemed almost too obviously-crazy to have been the least bit believable. But after four days, alone, tired, and pushed beyond limit, Live was right where he'd wanted her.

She rubbed her eyes dry, so tired of crying, and then buried her face in George's neck. She wanted to burn that set of robes when she next had the chance. She would have nightmares for a long time, she knew. But at the very least, with George on the mend, and putting the ordeal with Brown behind her, she could get back on track with her life. At least, she hoped so.

"Just, please don't do any secret dueling anymore, George," she said softly in his ear. "Putterly or not, just…don't."

"I promise," he said, stroking her hair and trying to contemplate what it was like to watch everyone you loved die before you, even if it wasn't real. He decided he hated Brown right to his core. How she was handling it without being a bigger mess than she was outright astounded him. "I won't hide anything from you anymore. I'm sorry. I'm just glad everything turned out alright."

"Yeah, this time." Her tone was troubled. She held fast to him, worried over the effect the things she'd told him would have on him. She hugged him firmly. "Putterly is a lot more powerful than I gave him credit for."

George frowned. "Didn't seem like it to me."

She shook her head. "It wasn't just because I didn't have a wand. But he knew what he was doing. He was determined. Just…Don't underestimate anyone, okay?"

"Bastard." George pet her once, and looked down. There was still trouble they had to deal with. "He knows about the prophecy."

She nodded, bothered. "Kara told me." She didn't like knowing that he thought it was his duty to see it fulfilled. It made her shiver.

"I don't know how long he's known, but it would explain a lot." He tightened his grip on her. "I'll protect you against anything, Live. You won't have to go through anything like any of this ever again."

"Just no more doing it secretly, okay? Fred and Lee knew but I sure didn't." Her tone wasn't worried so much as it was offended. He had the decency to smile sheepishly.

"I didn't want to worry you."

"Well you ended up worrying me a lot more by not doing so." She sat up and looked him in the face, a lot more calm and composed than he thought she might be. Her face looked determined. "I may be your girlfriend but that doesn't stop me from being one of your friends, and I'm just as powerful as either of them. I would have liked to have been there. Not that that's an OK for you to go around dueling everyone."

He grinned, incredibly pleased with her words. He grabbed her against his chest with a smirk as she uttered a surprised cry. "You're my best friend, you crazy Slytherin broad. It's why we work so well together," he said in her ear. She nodded into his chest and exhaled as if relieved. No more secrets. Then one of his hands snaked inside her robes and under the back of her shirt. Her sharp intake of breath gave his grin a wicked edge as he attempted to undo her bra.

"George are you crazy?" she whispered as she tried to back away, looking around nervously as his hand fidgeted with her clasp.

"Maybe a little…" he said with a wolfish grin as she grabbed his forearm. "I have a lot to make up for I think…And we don't have the time to put that off."

"…you…this is the hospital wing! You can't do that!" she tried to point out with wide eyes, nervous. "It's the middle of the day!"

He leaned forward to lick her neck, causing her whole body to shudder. "Fred says everyone's gone home, Pomfrey's not here right now, and as far as I see it we've got the entire wing to ourselves for awhile. This will be good for the healing process."

Her breath was coming hitched as he'd successfully undone her bra, and his hand was sliding up her stomach to delve underneath. Her heart hammered in her chest and suddenly she was too hot. She swallowed as he held her bare breast in his large hand, and clasped her own hands to the front of her shirt to still him. "George." Her mouth had gone dry. She wanted him. Oh she wanted him. Or maybe needed was more correct, but her still-functioning brain disagreed with time and place. "This is the part where someone walks right in and bans me from the hospital wing, and I already have trouble looking enough people in the eyes for this kind of thing!"

He just grinned, completely undeterred by her argument- which was, he had to agree, a valid point. "Maybe a little activity will help me to heal faster," he whispered gruffly before kissing her neck. "And I know for a fact Live, you need this."

"I…No, you need rest…ah." He was snaking his other hand up her inner thigh, and she clasped it quickly in her own. He gave her a wicked grin. "No way," she choked out, but it sounded breathy, craving. She wanted him too much and the stranglehold she was putting on her desires wouldn't last much longer.

"I haven't been able to touch you in far too long," George murmured against her ear. "And though my mind might think otherwise, my body definitely knows it's been far far too long, especially for you…"

Her breath was shaky. She loved his hands on her. It had been far too long. She was a few threads of restraint away from climbing right into hospital bed with him, and let anyone who wanted see for all she'd care. "George…someone might…the castle…"

"We practically have the castle to ourselves," he told her wolfishly, and kissed her lips once. Then he looked like he was about to have an epiphany. Live gave him a thinking frown, worry about how his next thoughts would affect her sense of restraint. "We-." He stopped, giving her an enlightened look, wondering how the thought had eluded him before now. "We could do it in your common room," he stated as if surprised that he'd just come to that revelation. An empty castle meant a world of possibilities.

Live's face took on a horrific look. Frankly, George was surprised at her expression. "George do you have any idea how many people have done it on the couch in our common room?" His expression suddenly took a turn. "If you ran a black light on it that thing would glow brighter than the sun. I don't want to think about what the house elves had have to go through…"

George snickered and roved his hands shamelessly over her skin. Though the thought of any Slytherins getting it on in particular had somewhat cooled his jets, he wasn't completely deterred in action by the one he currently had his hands on. He kissed her neck again right in the spot that drove her nuts. She made a sound between a whine and a gasp that made him grin extra wide. Yes, he'd left her alone unwillingly for far too long indeed.

She clung to him, whispering in his ear as she quickly came over to the idea of messing around. "I still haven't given you my Christmas present."

His brows shot up. Christmas? Hell, he'd forgotten about Christmas. This whole hospital stay had really put a stop in what he'd need to do for his Christmas gift to her. But he supposed he could still manage it proper if he just set his sights on it harder than before. Though at the moment he was more preoccupied by the idea of what pleasures lay in store with her gift. He realized he was breathing hard, not saying anything as his mind went wild with fantasies. He kissed her lips, swallowed her sighs as he let his hands do as they pleased.

"…George….get better fast," she managed to get out. She got a grunt in reply, and smiled with amusement. "…George…I have an idea…Where's your wand?"

His eyebrow shot up, and his mind went right to the spot where hers was. "Nah-uh…No cheating….this is best left to good old-fashioned hard work," he said with pride as his hand snaked up her inner thigh again. Her breath hitched and she caught him in a death-grip while she still had control of her senses.

"No….I mean…" Her eyes still went to the hospital doors, worry still evident that they'd be caught, but no longer deterred by the idea to fool around. She surprised him as her hands were doing their own exploratory journey of the greater expanse of his crotch. "We don't have time. To do what we want," she added thickly, brain addled by the lusty look on his face. "But if we were to….half and half it…." she trailed off, cupping him beneath the sheets. "…you know…"

He grinned widely at the idea. Half and half eh? He could live with that. "It's probably in the drawer…" he muttered of the bedside table. Thankfully Madam Pomfrey had indeed stored it there along with the clothes he'd been wearing when he'd been brought in. He grinned wolfishly, holding it up. She immediately snatched it from him with a smoldering look.

"Since you started this, you're first," she told him, kissing and biting his neck while her left hand kept itself busy. She whispered a warning into his ear as his breath came in huffs, "And I have more control now, George."

While a specific spell is supposed to normally have a singularly desired result- that being the very nature of a spell- the caster doing it can have a direct effect on the degree of just how successful it's pulled off, not to mention smoothness of execution. And apparently with the removal of a bracelet and a smoldering look of focus, Live had become quite proficient in the enhancing of Mortuua Petit.

George was fairly certain that if he already wasn't in the hospital, that this encounter with her would have put him there from extreme pleasure overload.

sSs

Long chapter cuz I felt guilty. Yeah yeah, what a way to end a chap :P So shoot me.…this chapter was going to end a LOT sooner…Like, right after reuniting them. But I felt I owed you guys something at least for putting you through the long wait, not to mention having kept George out of action for so long D: It will be a VERY eventful homecoming O3O Here's to another update in a year and a half? AHAHAH ~is shot~ My update rate is shameful, I know.

seriously, I only got this done (started and finished) all within this month because I was successfully harassed and guilted daily on twitter. You know who you are O_O Make my day, bitches XD

Much love, FireV.

Much-needed addendum: 01/22/14 Believe it or not, I still live, still care about everything i've left unfinished, and still read reviews and get notifications for stuff (if you send me messages and such with a username, I DO get back to folk; guest accounts it's impossible to get back to you T_T) and I'm actually working on getting shite done. I've been massively depressed since one of my students got killed last year, so I haven't much been in the writing spirit when I actually had time. But I am currently working on getting things on paper and then out. You can always check my profile bio for current updates and such (at the bottom) or any notes I have. I am trying to finish this story with the next two chapters I release, and that is stressing me like crazy because there's so much I'd still like to do with these characters! But all good things must come to an end and that is taking a crazy amount of planning xD Much love and hugs~!