"Voldemort –– Voldemort –– Voldemort –– Voldemort –– "

"Quit it!" protested Ron, shrinking back further from Hermione with every enunciation of the dreaded Dark Lord's name, their evening chess game now quite forgotten.

"You have to get over this fear, Ron," lectured Hermione, leaning far forward with arms braced on either side of the chess board. "You're being totally irrational. Voldemort –– Voldemort –– Voldemort –– "

Harry watched them from his chair by the fireplace, trying his best to stifle a chuckle. Judging from Ron's terrified expression it was as though the Dark Lord might suddenly leap right out of Hermione's mouth and smite the redhead as he cowered against his sister's feet.

"Hey, watch it!" protested Ginny, shifting her inkwell from her knee to the table next to her chair. "Cripes, Ron, stop being such a spineless jellyfish, will you?"

"Make her stop," pleaded Ron desperately. "He's going to come if she doesn't stop!"

"Oh, of course he won't," said Hermione in exasperation. "It's all a bunch of silly, superstitious hogwash, Ron –– "

"She's right, you know," pronounced Luna serenely form behind her copy of The Quibbler.

Harry looked at her seated contentedly in the chair opposite his by the fireplace and smiled. Despite their differences, Luna never hesitated to voice her support of Hermione on matters where they happened to agree.

Hermione, encouraged by a supporting opinion, pressed on. "Voldemort –– Voldemort –– Voldemort –– Voldemort –– "

"I'll tell McGonagall!" warned Ron, his face reddening. "I will!"

"Voldemort –– Voldemort –– Voldem –– "


" –– ort.......oh...dear..."

Luna's large silver eyes popped up over the top of her magazine.

"It....it's..." stammered Ginny, dropping her quill.

"SEE?? I TOLD YOU!!" yelled Ron, trying desperately to squirm under Ginny's chair.

Harry stared at the thin, pale figure standing near the Common Room's far window. Its back was to them, one arm rubbing a scrub brush up and down along its skeletal back. Harry shifted near the edge of his seat. Could it be ––

The figure suddenly froze and took in its surroundings. It spun around.

There was no doubt, Harry now realized. Its red, cat-like eyes looked about the room.


It's gaze focused on Harry, slit-like eyes widening.


Voldemort thrust his scrub brush forward and pointed it straight at Harry. "Avada Kedavra!"

All stared at the suds slowly dripping from the tip of the brush, splattering lightly against the worn stone floor.

The scrub brush, evidently, did not an adequate wand make, as not a single spark emanated from its sudsy bristles.

"You''re naked, you know," observed Luna serenely.

"I will –– wha –– "

The Dark Lord looked down at his clothesless form.


Voldemort jumped back and made a desperate grab for the curtains by the window, hastily wrapping himself in the heavy draperies.

"This is indecent!" he wailed, pointing a skeletal finger at Harry. "Showers are off limits! I'm sure there's a rule on that somewhere in the Wizard's Code! Is no place sacred to you interlopers?"

"Excuse me," interrupted Luna, "but I believe you're the one who's interloping."

"Hey, who's that?" said Seamus, emerging through the short corridor into the Common Room and looking at the curtain-wrapped figure.

"It's Voldemort," said Ginny.

Seamus rolled his eyes and proceeded up the stairs. "Fine, don't tell me," he muttered.

"Harry!" exclaimed Ginny, a look of realization coming across her face, "He hasn't got his wand!"

Harry jumped up from his chair, wand leveled. It was his chance!

"Avada –– "

Voldemort shrunk back. "No!"

"Harry, no!" interjected Hermione, pushing his arm back down. "That's an Unforgivable!"

Harry could scarcely believe his ears. "But...it's Voldemort!" he protested.

Hermione put her hands on her hips. "You can't go around casting Unforgivables, Harry," she lectured.

"Listen to the girl, boy!" urged the Dark Lord from behind the curtain.

"Don't listen to her, Harry!" countered Ron from behind Ginny''s chair. "Let him have it!"

"RON!" barked Hermione.

"No, he's right!" argued Harry. "This is our chance –– "

He aimed his wand at Voldemort, who tried his best to conceal himself within the red and gold draperies.

"No, Harry, not an Unforgivable!" pronounced Hermione fiercely, her cheeks flushing angrily as they did whenever she was impossibly adamant about something.

"She's right, Harry," agreed Ginny. "There's a reason Unforgiveables are banned."

"That's right, boy!" exclaimed Voldemort, "Goody Two-Shoes, and all that!"

Harry looked at Hermione and Ginny helplessly. "But –– oh for –– all right, I call a vote," he said. "All in favour of using the Unforgivable, raise your hands."

Ron raised his hand quickly. Harry thrusting his high in the air with equal enthusiasm. There was no further show of hands.

"Um...all against?" he asked meekly.

Three dainty hands rose up, as did a pale skeletal one from behind the curtains.

Harry's shoulders sagged. He was outvoted, even discounting Voldemort's dubious ballot.

"So...no Avada Kedavra then?" he said in disappointment.

A bolt of intense green light shot out form his wand and struck the stone wall only inches from Voldemort's skull-like-white head.

"ARRGGHH!" screamed the Dark Lord.

"HARRY!" barked Hermione, spinning around and glaring at him.

"Oops," said Harry sheepishly, "I didn't think –– "

"That was rather undemocratic of you, Harry," observed Luna. "I counted three votes to two, If I'm not mistaken."

"Again, mate," urged Ron, "say it again!"

"Don''t you dare!" warned Hermione, eyes flashing with anger.

"Well, what would you have me do?" asked Harry desperately. "We can't very well just let him walk out of here, can we?"

"Can't you use something other than an Unforgivable?" suggested Ginny. "Turn the curtain into a lion or something..."

"Hey, good one!" said Harry, raising his wand.

"Blody brilliant!" concurred Ron from behind his sister's chair.

"Any objections?" asked Harry, looking to Hermione.

She appeared thoughtful. "Well, I suppose it's not an Unforgivable, so..."

"Right then," said Harry. "Espelio –– "

Voldemort looked horrified.



Hermione pushed Harry's arm back down.

"What are you doing??" asked Harry in frustration.

"He invoked Parley, Harry," said Hermione apologetically.

Harry looked at her, incredulous. "Parley! What in blazes is that?"

"It's the wizard code," intoned Hermione, leaning closer to Harry. "A party can't initiate hostilities while Parley is in effect."

Harry looked to Luna.

"Article One," she confirmed airily, putting away her copy of The Quibbler.

"You're joking," accused Harry.

Luna only tilted her head slightly.

"That's right!" exclaimed Voldemort, "The Wizard Code. Parley's been initiated, boy!"

"Ignore him, Harry!" said Ron, "Fire away!"

Hermione cast him a glare that sent the redhead ducking further down behing the chair.

Harry looked around. "Well...how do I get out of this Parley, anyway?"

"You declare it over," said Ginny.

"Parley is over!" blurted Harry, aiming his wand. "Avada -- "

"PARLEY!" shrieked Voldemort.

Hermione pushed Harry's arm back down.

"Parley is over!" he declared. "Av -- "







"We have a situation here," said Ginny.

Harry dropped his arm to his side, intensely frustrated.

"Blast this bureaucratic stuff!" huffed Harry. "Why do I have to obey the rules? I'm sure he wouldn't!"

"Ah, yes, but that's because I'm an evil, ruthless megalomaniac," said Voldemort, "and that works for me! But I also happen to be unarmed, so you have to be all righteous and noble and so on and so forth. So, we can stand here forever, or -- "

"Blast it!" said Harry, "Well, how do we get rid of him, then?"

"TROMEDLOV!" shouted Luna, startling everyone.


The curtains settled back into their original position; the figure of the Dark Lord had vanished as abruptly as it had appeared.

Everyone looked to each other blankly. All, that is, except for Luna, who plopped back down in her chair, resolutely re-opened The Quibbler back to page twenty-six and disappeared behind a smiling picture of Derwent Shimpling.