Long ago, I made a comment about Mel and Linda, and a Love that has lasted more than three hundred years. I have to admit that their story was only a Bunnie growing in the back of what passes for my mind then, and I goofed. Their names are Melinda and Patricia. It has been more than three hundred years though, and they are still as much in love as they were the day Melinda's mother murdered them.

Love Everlasting

Melinda Wellington watched the towers of Hogwarts grow as she crossed the lake. She'd lived in Hogsmeade all her life, and had seen the Castle many times, but tonight it was different. Maybe it was because she was finally going to attend the school, or possibly, it was the deepening night that made it look so different.

She took her eyes off the Castle long enough to look around at the flotilla of boats crossing the lake. A girl with reddish-blonde hair was looking at the people around her, and saw Melinda. She smiled, and waved at Melinda with an infectious grin. Melinda found herself smiling as she waved back

In the Hall, they listened to the Professor explain what they had to do, and followed her into the Great Hall. Melinda looked up, seeing the famous enchanted ceiling she'd heard so much about for the first time.

She saw the blonde girl again, when "Smythe, Patricia" was called up to be sorted. She was quickly sorted into the Ravenclaw house. She frowned at the thought of that House. Melinda didn't think she was smart enough for Ravenclaw, or brave enough for Gryffindor. She had seen some of the Slytherins in town on their weekend visits, and she hoped she was not like them. That left Hufflepuff, a fate that she was resigned to, even if they were, well, boring. She broke off her reverie as "Wellington, Melinda" was called and she walked up to the stool, where the Professor placed the Sorting Hat on her head.

The Hat's voice in her head startled her for a second, until she understood what it was saying. "A good mind here, Ravenclaw would be good for you. Let's see, hmm? Courage, buried deep, and needing a trigger to emerge. You are loyal, but you're not for Hufflepuff, nor for Slytherin. I thinkā€¦."

"Ravenclaw," cried the Hat, and Melinda went to her House table as they cheered her. She saw a couple of empty seats, but one of them was next to the blonde girl. Remembering her smile and wave, Melinda sat down next to her.

Up close, the red tints in her hair were even more apparent, and the gray eyes that examined Melinda were bright with humour and happiness. "Hello, it appears that we're going to be great friends."

Melinda stared at her for a minute. "How do you know that?"

Patricia grinned and gestured at their table. "You may not have noticed, but there are only two Ravenclaw girls this year. Since that's you and I, we had better be friends, or this is going to be a miserable year."

Melinda looked around. She realized quickly that Patricia had been correct. While Ravenclaw had gotten nine students this year, they were the only girls in the House this year. She turned back to Patricia after looking around. "In that case, I'm Mel."

Patricia Smythe grinned at her. "Actually, I believe the name was Wellington, Melinda."

Mel giggled at the accurate imitation of the Professor's voice. "You're good at that, but I prefer Mel from my friends," she said, "that way I know if an adult is calling me."

Patricia smiled. "My friends call me Patty. So does my family, unless I'm in trouble."

Mel looked at the smiling girl, and came to a sudden conclusion. "That's fairly often, isn't it?"

The laughter in her eyes gave the innocent look away. "No, not at all. I never get in trouble."

The Headmaster tapped on his glass, and the Great Hall quieted to hear what she had to say. "Welcome to Hogwarts, or welcome back. I have some announcements to make before we eat. The caretaker has informed me that catching the group of students referred to as the Nightstalkers will be high on his list of tasks this year. I understand he wants to hang them in the dungeons. The Dark Forest is off-limits to all students. I also have the pleasure of introducing the new History of Magic Professor, Professor Binns."

A short man stood up as the students applauded politely. He sat back down and the Headmaster continued. "With the announcements done, it is time to eat. Let the feast begin."

As soon as the food appeared, Patty turned to the older student on her left. "Who are the Nightstalkers?"

The older boy grinned at her. "Nobody knows. They've pulled some bloody good pranks though, and they always manage to avoid the caretaker."

"How do they do that?" was Patty's next question.

The boy took a minute to swallow before answering. "That is one of the questions everyone would like to have the answer to. Rumour has it that they have an enchanted object that can't be seen by most people, and it warns them when people come near."

Patty sat and ate for a minute while she thought about that. "They sound like fun people; I hope I get a chance to meet them."

Mel frowned slightly at her. "Let's try to get through the first year at least without any trouble, OK?"

Patty grinned at her. "I'll try, but somehow, I'm not optimistic."

Over the next few weeks, Mel came to understand why Patty had not been optimistic about her chances of not getting in trouble. Patty was irrepressibly cheerful, and always on the lookout for a prank.

One of her favorite habits was slipping a mildly incompatible potion ingredient into somebody's potion, preferably one that would make immense clouds of smoke or incredibly bad smells.

Mel noticed almost instantly that Patty was smart enough to prank her own potions as well as Mel's, so that the Professor never caught on to her. That lasted almost two months, but any prank can be overdone, and Patty was finally caught. Mel was caught as well, since she'd collected the ingredient that Patty had dropped into the Slytherin's potion.

At detention that night, Patty simply grinned when Mel fretted over the mark on her record. "Calm down, one little detention is not the end of the world."

"No, it's not." Both girls whirled, and Mel gave a shriek. Seven black-clad figures floated on broomsticks. The figure in front shushed her. "You have potential, but you need to branch out more, and be careful to never fall into a rut with your pranks."

Patty was looking at the group with a smile. "You're the Nightstalkers."

"Yes, and we like to see that someone will be taking up the pranks when we leave. Good luck, and remember what I said." He was interrupted by a quiet whirring sound. A black ball came shooting in the door, and the seven people lined up. Mel got a glimpse of the ball when it hovered for a second next to the boy that had been talking. It looked like a Snitch, except that it was black with dark red wings.

Patty smiled. "Why didn't you keep the golden color? It's much prettier."

The leader turned, and they could almost see his smile under the hood of his cloak. "It might be, but it's also easier to see. Not a good thing when you are trying to be sneaky."

The figures flew out the door, and just a few seconds later, the caretaker came rushing in. "Which way did they go?"

Patty gave him her best innocent look. "That way," she said, pointing to a staircase going in the opposite direction of the group's flight, "they ran up those stairs."

The caretaker left as Mel stared at Patty. "You lied to him."

Patty shrugged. "It wouldn't be right to help him catch them after they stopped to talk to us, and gave us good advice."

Patty took the Nightstalker's advice to heart over the rest of the year, and as she learned more, the quality of her pranks grew. She was always willing to try a new prank, and only the presence of the Nightstalkers kept her from being the best-known prankster in school. Her only real problem was in Potions, where she simply could not go a week without doctoring a Potion.

She would accept the detention that Professor Grey handed out calmly. "I just can't help myself."

Mel and Patty did become the best of friends, and Mel usually went along with Patty's pranks, although she drew the line at some that seemed a little too dangerous to the person being pranked.

By the end of the year, neither girl could imagine what the year would have been like without the other. They promised to owl each other faithfully during the summer.

Mel kept her promise, and Patty tried, she really did. Patty wasn't much of a writer though, and Mel got just four owls that summer. Having lived with Patty for the preceding year, she had been fairly certain that Patty wouldn't write, and was pleasantly surprised when she did get a letter.

The next two years went by in much the same manner and their friendship only grew. They had fights, but only one lasted more than a day, and it was forgotten almost as soon as they made up.

Things didn't change until their fourth year. The school had always had a Ball at least once a year, and this year was no different. This year it was going to be a Spring Ball, on the first Friday in April.

The night it was announced, Mel and Patty were getting ready for bed. "Patty, who do you want to ask you to the Ball?"

Patty was quiet for so long that Mel was about to repeat the question. "I really can't think of a boy that I want to ask me."

Mel blinked, and stopped with her nightgown in her hands. "Not even Sam Merrick?"

Sam Merrick was a fifth year Ravenclaw, and it was the opinion of the Ravenclaw women that he was the best eyecandy in school. Patty just smiled and shook her head. "What about you, who do you want to go with?"

Mel shrugged, and then blushed. "Well, since you don't want him, Sam would be nice, but I think I'd prefer Cedric."

It was Patty's turn to blink, and stare at her friend. "Do you mean Cedric O'Neill? The Gryffindor?"

Mel blushed again. "Mel, you do know that he's a"

Mel interrupted Patty. "Yes, I do, and it doesn't matter. He's sweet, kind and the girls that danced with him last year said he was a good dancer. I find that to be far more important than who his parents might have been."

Cedric O'Neill was the ward of one of the Borderers, Patrick O'Neill. He was also a Half-giant, as his size made plain to anyone that looked at him. In his fourth year, he was the tallest student in Hogwarts, and taller than most of the adults as well. His choice of careers was as obvious as his size, since he always wore the mottled green and brown leathers that were the unofficial Borderer uniform. He wore the school uniform when he had to, but as soon as he could get back into his leathers, he did so.

Patty smiled at her friend. "Whichever it is, I hope you enjoy yourself."

Mel finished getting ready for bed, and was soon asleep. Patty climbed into bed a few minutes later, and turned to stare at Mel's bed. She wondered what Mel would say if she knew that the only person Patty wanted to take her to the Ball was Mel.

Patty had become aware that she was different from the other girls only recently. She knew that while Sam did look nice, he had never roused any feeling in her, and that when she dreamed of love at night, the other person was always feminine. For nearly two months now, that feminine figure had been Mel.

Patty sighed, and turned over to go to sleep. Maybe she'd get lucky, and wake up normal in the morning.

A week before the Ball, Mel woke up late one night, needing to use the toilet. She climbed out of bed quietly, and started across the room. A moan from Patty's bed stopped her, and she turned that way, thinking her friend was having a nightmare. She was just about to wake her, when some motions and a soft moan told her just what kind of a dream Patty was having.

Mel rushed to the toilet, her face flaming as she thought about what she'd almost interrupted. She stayed a minute, wanting to be calm when she went back in the room. She smiled as she wondered what boy had attracted Patty's attention that way.

She went back into their room, and was removing her slippers when a sharp gasp and a muttered word told her who Patty's dream lover was. She froze, and at another moan, fumbled for her wand. She cast a silencing spell over Patty's bed, trying to ignore the fact that it had been her name on Patty's lips.

Mel sat on her bed, and tried to think. Anger, embarrassment, mortification, hurt and a dozen more feelings chased each other through her mind, and it was over an hour before she could start to think.

Another hour's thought did nothing to dispel the turmoil in her mind. She was hurt that Patty hadn't told her that she liked girls that way, angry that she hadn't trusted her enough. The thought that she didn't want to know that Patty liked her that way crossed her mind, and she smiled wryly at the vague thought. She wanted to know Patty thought like that, but not about whom.

She finally fell asleep without coming to any conclusions.

The next week was very long for Mel. Patty didn't act any different than she ever had, but Mel watched her, looking for any sign that Patty was doing anything about her dreams.

Her attitude affected their friendship, and by the weekend, the two of them were barely speaking. Ever since they had become old enough to go to Hogsmeade on the weekends, Mel had invited Patty to her house after going through the shops and having lunch at the Tavern or the Inn.

With the tension the two were under, the morning dragged by, and by the time they got to Mel's house at No 8 Quaffle Ln, Mel was nearly in tears.

In the House, they found that Mel's father had gone to work, which was normal, and that her mother was out shopping in Diagon Alley.

Patty turned to Mel. "We're alone, and nobody is going to disturb us. Would you please tell me what's wrong? All week you've been looking at me like I'm growing a second head."

Mel tried to make an excuse, but she'd never been very good at lying. Patty just looked at her. "I'm your best friend, we tell each other everything."

With the secret Mel had been keeping all week, and the stress she'd been under it was not surprising that that comment set her off. Her head came up, and her eyes were blazing. "Sure we do. Just like you told me that you dream about me at night."

Patty stared at her until she figured out what Mel meant. She turned several shades of red and crimson, and sat on the couch, pulling her knees up to her chin and wrapping her arms around herself. Slow tears ran down her face, and she kept her eyes closed as she spoke. "I didn't want you to know. You've never thought of me that way, and I want your friendship more than I want anything like that. You're my best friend, and the only person in the House that I want to do pranks with at night. I would rather have that than anything else you could give me, especially if you weren't interested."

Mel froze at Patty's next words. "I know you don't think of me like that, and if you don't want to be friends anymore, I understand."

Mel looked at her friend. Patty was curled up, holding her legs up close to her body, with her head down on her knees, and her body shook with silent sobs.

Mel stared at Patty, the events of the last three years flashing through her head. Pranks, lunches, giggling confidences, studying, detentions, all the things they'd done together. She tried to imagine school without Patty trying to get her to do new things, or anything.

Mel stared at Patty, and slowly thought about everything they'd done, and been through. It wasn't the good times that made up her mind for her, but their arguments. When they did argue, it had usually been Patty that started the making up, and Patty that apologized. Patty had always been there for Mel, when her parents were too busy, or simply didn't care about whatever they were doing.

Mel might not think of Patty in the way Patty wanted, but she did love her.

She got up from her chair, and knelt in front of Patty. "If you can accept me the way I am, how could I do any less for you?"

Patty looked up, staring into Mel's eyes with eyes gone red and swollen from crying. Mel smiled at her, and held her arms out. Patty leaned forward and rested her head on Melinda's shoulder as Mel hugged her gently. "I can't promise you that I'll be the way I was, but I can try."

Patty's voice was muffled as she spoke. "I don't care. As long as you're my friend, I can make it. I just wouldn't know what to do if you didn't want to be my friend anymore."

Melinda held her for a minute longer, and then got up. She offered Patty her hand. "Come on, you have to wash your face, and suddenly, I'm hungry. I think we need to eat the lunch we didn't eat earlier."

Patty smiled weakly, and took her hand. Melinda helped her up, and shooed her toward the bathroom while she went into the kitchen to make some lunch.

They had an occasional fight, but by the end of the year, their relationship was back to the way it was before Melinda found out Patty's secret.

The only thing that changed was not Patty's fault, and Melissa never even told her about it. Mel had thought about what Patty felt for her, and then forgotten it. At least, she tried. Sometimes, when she wasn't thinking about anything in particular, she'd wonder what it would be like if she did like Patty.

It wasn't a regular thing, and Mel just assumed it was normal when you knew a member of the same sex liked you, so she didn't worry about it.

This summer was much like the ones before it, with Melinda owling Patty regularly, and Patty responding occasionally.

Two weeks before the new school years, Patty came to spend the rest of the summer with Mel. Patty's parents were going to Turkey on a job, breaking a particularly nasty curse found at an old castle. Since the job was going to be particularly dangerous, Patty couldn't go with them, and was going to stay with her uncle. She didn't like that idea, so she talked Mel into asking her parents if she could stay there.

Mel's parents were hesitant, but finally allowed it, and Patty arrived early one Saturday morning. Mel and Patty had a lot of fun over the next week, running all around Hogsmeade, and even seeing how close they were willing to come to the old Parsdon Mansion at the northern edge of town. People had been claiming it was haunted for over a hundred years, and there were some truly gruesome stories about it. The old castle was falling apart, and that, more than anything else was what kept most young people away from the place.

Three days before the term started, Melinda woke up one morning with a start. She'd been dreaming about being on a picnic with Patty, and the dream had taken a definite erotic turn. When she woke, she was mortified to find that her body had responded to the erotic images her sub conscious mind had been playing in her mind. She went to the shower, and took a quick shower. It wasn't quite a cold shower, but it was definitely cool enough to contain the ardor her body was feeling.

She spent the hour before Patty woke up thinking about what had happened. She was changing a lot of her assumptions, and in the end, as Patty began stirring, Melinda came to a decision.

She watched Patty wake up and when Patty was sitting up, Melinda said something she'd been thinking for a while, but never had the courage to say.

"I love you."

A/N: Don't go away folks, there's another chapter to the story, and it will be arriving soon. Until then, I would like to remind you all that writers, even strangely warped ones like myself are prone to write more and faster if they get some feedback once in awhile. In other words my friends, Read (Which you have already done, or you would not be looking at this part of the page.) and review.