DISCLAIMER: Since I asked Atana to discontinue the Madwands story (due to the controversial nature of the Madwands themselves), I want to make it clear that several foreshadowing in my previous stories will remain unanswered: 1.) Why the adult Harry/Ron/Hermione were traveling in time. 2.) Why when the Trio played at the Slytherin Victory Party, Ron announced that he was 'NOT the Caped Crusader'. 3.) What Cleopatra the Security Witch was doing at Hogwarts. 4.) What the 'anomaly' Jenny Everywhere and Cleopatra referred to was. 5.) How Martis survived being buried in the snow her first year by the Marauders (and not because Hagrid was conveniently nearby). 6.) Why - when Sev and Martis were reunited as adults - neither of them showed any bitterness about being abandoned by each other. 7.) How Rita Skeeter became a beetle Animagus. 8.) Why Voldemort tried to kill Harry Potter as an infant. AND - most importantly - 9.) Where the heck Lambchop the Inflatable Sheep came from.
I am going to attempt to answer these points as best I can in the next few stories. If confusion remains, my apologies, but is apparently not ready for the world of the Madwands.
PS - To the one who asked why I didn't answer everything immediately - good storytelling does not reveal everything in the first chapter; indeed, there would be no point in writing more chapters if the entire story was told in the first one. There's a difference between quality and hack writing, after all.
Snips and Spirals Fanfic:
Text by Lady Tesser
The end of October was a madhouse at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
For the first time in over a century, there was going to be a Triwizard Tournament!
As a side note, Hogwarts was given the unlucky job of hosting the competition.
House-Elves dashed madly through the halls, not caring if students saw them, as they cleaned the school from top to bottom, from nook to cranny, and everywhere in between. McGonagall swept by as busily, organizing and directing House-Elves and anyone willing to help to gain a few extra House points in return.
Ghosts floated down the halls and talked of the last Triwizard Tournament held at Hogwarts, especially the part where Peeves had been trampled by a dragon during the Second Task. Peeves denied he was ever the crud on the bottom of a dragon's foot (most people did not think that highly of him anyway).
Cleopatra the Security Witch was going around the entire school checking and re-inforcing the security and protection spells, some which had not been checked in centuries. Filch offered to help - especially in the dungeons and the Rose Garden - but he kept ending up in the infirmary with Mrs. Norris-inflicted injuries.
Meanwhile, the duo known as Snips and Spirals were enjoying a taste of freedom from the attention of the Marauders these past few weeks. Things had gone back to normal in relation to Britomartis Vox and the 'Maraudettes', when just those few weeks ago, she had coddled and adored them as infants.
Severus Snape, though, was still confused on that issue, and brought it up to her one afternoon as they sat in the Conversation Room during a rainstorm: "How were you able to separate the Marauders as babies and teenagers?"
"What do you mean?" Martis asked as she slid down on the stone floor and cradled the back of her head with her hands.
"I mean some time back; like when they were babies, you treated them like babies, rather than as the Maraudiots. I don't get why you treated them any different."
"Babies are defenseless."
"They weren't. They were fully conscious the whole time."
Martis sat up. "How did you draw that conclusion?"
"Their throwing up on me when they did was more than coincidence." Sev looked her straight in the eyes.
She stared at him, then lay down again. "Begging your pardon, Snips, but babies do throw up."
"Whenever the person holding them is being politely flirted with?"
Martis turned her head away, not able to keep in the smug smirk ... 'flirted' may be a good description, but some of the things he said danced over into 'propositioned'. "I still think you were jealous that I was holding them more than you."
Sev sniffed. "Admittedly, I did miss being held, but that had nothing to do with it. I still do not believe a six-month-old could have any concept as to how a wand worked. I've never even heard of a child under the age of two years being able to trigger a magical effect of any sort."
Martis thought about it and turned over, her green eyes wide. "Snips ... ??"
Sev licked his lip, continuing to gaze at her. "What was that Muggle expression Ryper said once? 'A little slow on the up-swing'?"
Martis looked back up at the stained glass ceiling, watching the raindrops flow down the glass in sheets as it pattered against it. "How could I have been so dense?" she moaned, turning over on her side. "No wonder they all shut up when I held them against my chest! No wonder you kept freaking out when they played with their blocks - spelling stuff out! No wonder they were able to turn into their Animagus forms! No wonder - "
Sev lay on the floor upside-down to her so that their eyes were level. "Or why I talked Adonia into getting pictures of them to blackmail them with? Why do you think they've left us alone for the past few weeks?"
"I don't know! I've been at Quidditch practice or with you!" Martis made a face. "I feel soiled for letting them lie on me!"
"You don't look it - at least not as badly as when they did soil you."
"You know what I mean, Snape!" She gently touched his temple, then caressed up to his cheek. "I'm sorry I didn't believe you. I really am. I'm so sorry."
Sev held her hand, taking it away from his face, and then he kissed her forehead. "I'm a lot tougher than you think I am." He chuckled. "After all, you were infested with Maternal-Hormones and those overpowered your admittedly-little amount of reason - HEY STOP TICKLING!"
Martis took her fingertip away from his earlobe. "I do have reason, Severus; I just don't exercise it around people because most don't use theirs, either."
"Mm, you have a point, Spirals."
"Why didn't you tell me this after they changed back?"
"Because you were depressed for several days afterward for not having any babies around. I wanted to make sure you were back to normal enough to understand what I had been trying to tell you."
She lowered her eyes. "I really did focus on them exclusively, didn't I?"
"I didn't mean to hurt you."
"I don't expect to be the center of your universe." Sev sat up, flicking his braid over his shoulder. "Stop apologizing - meek and humble doesn't suit you. Smirking and cuddling does."
"You don't trust me anymore."
"Yes, I do."
"You can't. Not after I threw you aside because of them being babies - and still our enemies!"
Sev rolled his eyes. "It's coming upon that Time, isn't it?"
"In another week!"
"Then your being a stubborn, thick-headed girl is excused." He tapped her nose with a fingertip, emphasizing each word with a tap: "And - no - more - roses."
Martis blushed; she had been sending two or three roses up to his room nearly every night. "I just thought you liked roses."
"Roses are nice, but not for everyday. My roommates have this insane idea that we are 'together' in the way that couples here usually are because of the roses you've given me; and the Quidditch team has informed me that if I cause you to cry, they will beat me to death and then resurrect me so they can beat me again."
"Oh, ignore them, Snips. They think they're my brothers, but my brothers were never that protective; in fact, my brother Kyros kept pushing me into Dion's arms during Phaedra's wedding reception."
Sev sniffed again. "Hmph. I thought Kyros and I had an understanding."
"About what?" she asked.
"That you were my personal property and no one else was allowed to make you squeal but me." He was finding it easier to spit these remarks out around her; Martis' giggling and blushing did nothing but encourage it.
Martis grinned, chuckling. "You're sweet, even when being silly."
"If you tell anyone else that, I will deny it extensively." He stretched and looked up at the gray sky through the clear portions of the stained glass above his head. "This really is sleepy weather."
"Indeed," Martis agreed. "I remember I slept a lot during the winters on Crete - that's when it's chilly and rainy and we couldn't go outside to play." She leaned close to him and tugged on his robe. "C'mon, take a nap with me."
"I really need to read that chapter for Transfigurations class."
"Then can I nap on you while you read?"
"Do you snore?"
"If I do, just push me over."
Sev began to object as she cuddled next to him and drew her arms around his waist, but stopped himself. Martis was making an effort of apology to how she treated him weeks ago; she still thought he was emotionally fragile, but he knew with her he never had to be.
He understood where she was coming from in relation to caring for babies ... it was her own 'cross to bear' so to speak. He was the last person to complain about instinctive actions.
Sev hugged her shoulders, then picked up his textbook and began to read as the rain tapped quietly on the glass overhead.
It felt ... comforting. And Right.
Cleopatra felt the tremors in the air that evening. The Veils were going to thin soon, as they always did on Halloween, and the very air would be host to the beings invisible and ethereal. As well as the procuration of anomalies and general weirdness.
This made her nervous.
After all, considering her lineage, being a Weirdness Magnet was par for the course. For one thing, being brought back to this particular time in her own history - decades before her birth, decades before her parents' births - could alter both Wizard and Muggle histories for the absolute worst case.
As Jenny had said, if she allowed herself to think of the seriousness of her work, she would go barmy. Best to be distracted by something that relaxed her...
Perhaps a visit with Rubeus this evening after she finished her nightly security checks...
The night of October 30th was clear and crisp and slightly windy, and the students of Hogwarts were assembled outside the main gates to greet the students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons.
Martis and Sev were separated into groups due to their years, but they kept glancing back and forth over the shoulders of their housemates by either making faces or pretending to poke each other in the air and mouthing 'Bother!' This resulted in several associates walloping them with umbrellas and other objects of violence.
"What's that noise??" Fallon O'Shanahan asked.
Everyone looked around until their eyes fell upon the lake, the black waters churning violently until the churn swirled into a whirlpool and..
The submersible ship emerged from the water like a cork bobbing up from the depths of the lake.
"Wow!" several of the students breathed.
Martis yawned. "Sail on those thing to get from Crete to England. The ones I take aren't quite as nasty-looking, though."
The anchor fell, the gangplank dropped from the ghostly-looking ship, and the figures moved across the deck and down the plank.
Leading the students was the headmistress: a tall, painfully thin woman with incredibly pale skin and a deep red mouth. She was clad in a black traveling coat with black mink-fur cuffs and collar and a kubanka hat in matching fur.
Headmaster Albus Dumbledore politely bowed to the woman. "Professor Auttenbaum, a pleasure to meet with you again."
She bowed her head even more politely, not bothering to smile as she replied in a thick Eastern European accent, "Professor Dumbledore. My students."
The students wore red military-like uniforms draped with furred robes. Remus Lupin shifted uneasily in his spot as he recognized the fur robes were made from werewolf skins.
Leading the group of students was a tall, athletic Seventh-Year boy with wild blonde hair and piercing gray eyes. Darker-haired students of both genders followed him, although one was hard-pressed to determine if they really were either gender under their fur robes.
"Greetings to the students of Durmstrang," Dumbledore said formally. "Please enter and warm yourselves by the fire. We shall await the Beauxbatons students."
"Hope they get here soon," Artemisia Vox stated as the Durmstrang students entered the Great Hall's antechamber. "It's freezing out here."
"My feet hurt," Phaedra Vox-Patil muttered.
"It's too soon for that," Adonia Vox objected. "Unless you were already baking the naan in the oven before the wedding."
"We're not exactly sure when this pistachio was planted," Phaedra answered. "She or he might be more than ten weeks old."
"Still too soon. You're still not showing."
"Has it occurred to you geniuses that my feet hurt because we're standing on cold dew-soaked ground just three yards south of the Arctic Circle?"
"Can't be that," Artemisia giggled. "We're wearing school-issue Mary-Janes that are as useful as deck-shoes."
"Shush," Phaedra stated. "The Beauxbatons students are arriving."
The great powder-blue carriage sailed over the Forbidden Forest and landed in the clearing between the school and the lake, the large golden horses coming to an abrupt stop.
A footman in blue opened the door of the carriage and pulled out a red carpet, which was stepped upon by an ornately jeweled high-heeled mule-shoe and a leg wrapped up with white stocking.
The person emerging from the coach was a short but well-proportioned man of indistinct years, wearing red satin breeches and a burgundy satin frock coat with a white silk lace-trim shirt peeking out from his collar and cuffs. He held an ebony cane with a cat's head in silver in his right hand, and the hand itself was decorated with garnet rings.
He wore a monocle over one blue eye, and his black hair streaked with white was tied back with a pink bow. A black silk top hat perched at a jaunty angle on his head.
Dumbledore smiled and offered his hand, which the man accepted. "Orlando! Professor Flavert - welcome to Hogwarts!"
"Albus! My dear Dumbledore!" Headmaster Flavert answered in a southern French accent, his voice practically singing. "Good to see you again, my friend!" He grasped Dumbledore's hand in his and smiled; students trembled with cold behind him, their thin, brightly colored silk robes, gowns, and suits barely keeping them warm. "My best students from Beauxbatons Academy - all freezing to death as we speak. May we go inside?"
"Of course, Orlando, of course. Professor Auttenbaum and her students are already here." Dumbledore paused a moment to bow before the woman accompanying Professor Flavert; she had incredibly curly black hair and was shivering slightly in her cream-colored silk gown and robe. "Madam, my apologies - "
Professor Flavert chuckled. "Albus, get this woman inside quickly. We cannot have her freeze her feet off as she is the only qualified dance instructor I have."
Dumbledore apologized and introduced himself, offering his arm to her as they entered the school.
"And I am Madame Chocolat Meringue," she replied, relaxing in the warmth of the antechamber of the Great Hall. "Professor Flavert has a wonderful idea for a mid-winter celebration and he asked me along to help ... pull it off."
"We can discuss it at the head table during the feast, then."
Students crowded into the Great Hall and filled their House tables. Martis and Sev watched as the Beauxbatons students made a beeline for Ravenclaw's while the Durmstrang students seated themselves at Slytherin.
"How cozy," Martis whispered. "I hope they figure out how to disperse themselves within the week."
"A bit crowded," Sev admitted. He raised an eyebrow as one of the Durmstrang-ers near him gawked over the golden plates. In Latin, he asked, "Does Hogwarts seem extravagant to you?"
The boy - the blonde one who led the pack of students - replied in crisp English, "Considering fires are only used for rituals and we live in the eastern mountains, we freeze our behinds off too much to notice anything luxurious." He offered his hand. "Igor Karkaroff, Final-Year, Ice Dorm."
Sev carefully offered his own. "Severus Snape, Fifth-Year, House Slytherin." He cocked his head. "Ice Dorm? What's that?"
"Name of our House." Karkaroff grinned. "Hogwarts was the first and was imitated but never duplicated. We at Durmstrang have our own 'Houses' - Ice, Flame, Gale, and Stone."
"Elemental Houses?" Martis asked, leaning forward. "How neat!"
Karkaroff's thin lips softened. "And you are, miss?"
"Martis Vox, Third-Year, House Slytherin as well." She did not bother to shake his offered hand. "Play Quidditch?"
Martis shrugged, then turned back to have a conversation with Fallon.
Sev kept his face neutral; evidently, this Karkaroff did not pass her 'conversation' test. According to her, people who give short, monosyllabic answers were Not Good and it was best to keep away from them. Sev made sure to keep his guard up.
"Strange girls you have here in Britain," Karkaroff remarked.
"She's Cretan, not British. Different rules." Sev brushed a strand of hair back to his braid.
Karkaroff nodded, and then leaned close. "We expected a Snape at Durmstrang - were you he?"
Sev's mouth fell into a frown. "My father had attended Hogwarts - "
"But the Snapes have always attended Durmstrang. Confutatis Snape is still renowned for - "
(What?) Sev thought. (Drowning kittens?)
" - Attending only one year of Durmstrang before being shipped off to this place for trying to kill the Headmistress."
Sev glanced at Professor Auttenbaum, seated to Dumbledore's right and looking like a marble statue wearing a tight blonde bun and red lipstick. "Really."
"So, Father was sent away for being dangerous."
"No, for his punishment. If he could not wait for his final year for such an advanced task, he was going to be punished. Ambition is good, but not to excess." The food appeared - the usual feast fare was supplemented with southern French delicacies and eastern European dishes. Karkaroff speared a large sausage with his fork and brought it to his plate, his gray eyes still locked to Sev's black. "We fully expected the next generation to return."
Sev coolly narrowed his eyes. "Well, I am here, not there."
Karkaroff shrugged. "Pity. You do reek of Dark Arts. Feels like I'm sitting next to a fellow student in our own Great Hall." He grinned. "And you would blend in better there than here. After all, all our parents are Dark ... and Durmstrang is better suited for our ... Talents."
Sev curled the left side of his lip up. "Being Slytherin is enough for me."
"A Triwizard Tournament," Martis said. "A Halloween party, AND a Yule Ball! Between all three, forget about mid-semester finals!"
"Why bother?" Sev asked as both made their way through the hallway to the Common Room. "We're too young to enter this tournament, we hate parties, and we abhor school dances. Nothing for us here - move on!"
"Well, we could have entered the last tournament - "
"No we couldn't," Sev replied. "I was negative twenty-one and you were negative nineteen. Rather difficult to enter something at those ages."
They entered the Slytherin common room and plopped down on a couch together. Several other students milled about as they talked or bid each other good night.
"We can still watch the tournament, plus we'll just fly over the pitch while they have the parties - "
"The Yule Ball, anyway," Sev reminded her. "The Halloween Party is mandatory - they're even going to have Flitwick visit the common rooms to teach a Costume Charm and check each student himself. There's no way we can sneak out of that dismal event."
"So, we'll make our own fun there. We'll color the Headmaster's beard green or something. Bring Medusa and everyone can play with her." She drew an arm around his waist and he replied by doing the same, their other hands reaching for the others' and holding tightly. "Karkaroff doesn't smell right," she breathed.
"He all but admitted Dark Wizardry," Sev added in a low enough voice so that only she could hear.
"Is it the same with all Durmstrang students?"
"Evidently so; my family was rather infamous - the students seemed disappointed that I'm not attending Durmstrang."
She shuddered. "My poor Snips!"
"Oh, stop it, you knew my family was Dark."
"Not as Dark as some - and I know you aren't inbred to keep it that way."
"There's damned few Darker, Spirals. But only because we're a relatively young family, merely a thousand-years-old." Sev rubbed the back of her hand. "Meanwhile, I think it best for you to stay away from the Durmstrang students, period."
"Intend to, although I don't care for the Beauxbatons contingent, either. Adonia said she wanted to hit this one girl up-side the head because all she could talk about was how fattening the food here was."
"Like the French should talk - I know what fois gras is made from."
"Southern France, darling Sev; they're more similar to my part of the world than yours. It explains why they showed up without cloaks ... warmer climate and all." Martis turned his hand over and traced her fingertips along his palm. "But I certainly will keep my distance from that Igor character - I don't like his eyes. They're ... cold."
Sev squeezed her tighter; her fingertips playing over his palm heightened the sensitivity of his skin. "Nothing must extinguish the Light."
She smiled, and laid her face against his neck, both holding each other in the common room.
Evan Ryper - Seventh-Year Head-Boy - snorted as he smirked. They think nobody knew. They each think the other does not know. They think they kept it locked within themselves and no one suspected.
Idiots. They would be more discreet if they stuck posters of them kissing each other all over Diagon Alley.
Besides, the betting pool had it five-to-one those two would be applying for emancipation by Christmas for about the same reason that Phaedra Vox-Patil was buying a new wardrobe.
Argus Filch made his way through the hidden corridors behind the walls of Hogwarts late that night, occasionally stepping to the side to allow House-Elves to pass. He listened and peeked through peepholes, seeking students who walked the corridors after curfew. Even though Headmaster Dumbledore was rather soft on students (he did not understand the therapeutic value of a proper flogging on a troublemaker), Filch could still instill in them at least a degree of respect for rules and regulations.
Mrs. Norris ran up to him, still in her cat form. "Miaow!" she stated.
"Trouble?" he asked, not needing to hear human words to comprehend her meaning. "Where? I'll bet it's those pesky Gryffindor boys again - "
Filch frowned. "The Owlery?" He paced behind his feline paramour, following her to the trouble-spot. "Is someone sending a message?"
Filch frowned at that as he opened the door into the corridor outside the Owlery.
Over a thousand owls called the Owlery home, yet there was not a sound from past the door. That worried Filch - a thousand owls on a near-full-moon night, and no sound?
Opening the door, he peeked in. In the light from the ceiling hatches and windows, he could make out the forms of dozens of owls of all types, from the assorted mundane species of owls to the exotics like tiny Elf-Owls and even a couple of huge Eurasian Eagle-Owls. But they were silent. And they all seemed to be staring at one corner.
"Ey now!" Filch proclaimed in his best 'Threatening' manner. "What goes 'ere! You can't hide, whoever you are!" He stepped forward, scowling. "Now come out!"
Huge yellow eyes the size of dinner plates opened up in the shadow. Filch froze at the sight.
From the shadow came a deep, rumbling "HOOOO!!" as the eyes moved forward.
Filch stumbled backwards as he saw the Owl step into the moonlight - a huge black Owl almost his own height, with tufted ears like a Horned Owl and a facial disc resembling a Barn Owl. It looked at him as if mildly amused.
Filch looked around, and finally recognized the attitude of the owls around him - awe. He understood perfectly, because this monster was awe-inspiring. He must have been more triple the size of the Eurasian Eagle-Owls, and more than that of any other Owl in the world.
Mrs. Norris slowly slid out from behind Filch and approached the giant cautiously, sniffing.
In a flash, the giant Owl bent down and snapped Mrs. Norris up, only her tail hanging out of his huge beak.
Filch and Mrs. Norris both screamed. Filch grabbed her tail and yanked, pulling her out of the beast's mouth and slinging her toward the door.
Scrambling backwards, he dove out the door and dashed away, hot on Mrs. Norris's heels.
In Hagrid's hut, Cleopatra involuntarily winced - but not for the reason that Hagrid thought she had.
The anomaly had arrived.
The Hufflepuff photographer (with the embarrassing name) spent all Hallowe'en morning looking for Narcissa Black.
"She wasn't in her bed this morning," a Handmaiden informed him.
He leaned close, a serious expression on his face. "Then whose bed was she in?"
The Handmaiden replied as seriously, "No one's. Perhaps in Hogsmeade - we understand Lucius Malfoy is also missing."
"That explains it, then. We'll probably see them during lunch or so."
"Likely. If Malfoy's pater wasn't on the board, I'm sure he and Mistress Black would be expelled for doing this yet again."
A little further down the table, Martis poked Fallon's shoulder. "Hey, Astral Cadet."
The First-Year refocused her eyes on the Third-Year. "Hm, yeah?"
"If you keep staring at Evan like that, you'll burn a hole in him."
Fallon O'Shanahan blushed and looked back down at her oatmeal. "You're going to tell me I'm too young, aren't you? That I'm still a child."
"Well, I think you're aiming pretty high - he's Seventh-Year AND Head Boy AND the official Slytherin bookie." Martis drank her pumpkin juice, staring at Fallon through her sunglasses. "You really were born too late."
"Tell me about it," Fallon sighed. "Bridget obsessed about Sirius Black, but she didn't tell me about our own House having a stud."
Martis giggled. "I guess so. I think he looks like one of my brothers, so I'm afraid I don't share the same drool-pool."
Fallon smirked. "No, I think you're the only one in your drool-pool for Snips."
"I thought we were talking about your crush on Evan Ryper?"
"Nice way of avoiding the conversation."
Martis gazed at her. "Are you sure you're only eleven?"
"All the brains in the family had to go somewhere and I happened to be the last one born." She poked Martis' shoulder. "We got a lot in common that way."
"Indeed. So, what you going to do about your crush?"
Fallon shrugged. "Can't do anything for several years yet - and by the time it's all right, he'll be married or in lien to some other girl." She began playing with the end of a long red braid. "I hope to be over this crush when he leaves. Meanwhile ... I'm buying pictures off of Thomas St. Claire."
"What does Thomas have to do with it?"
"Evan's roommate. Fair prices, too. Want any of Snips?"
"No!" Martis answered quickly. "Don't-want-any!"
Fallon beginning singing: "Martis is in de-ni-al, Martis is in de-ni-al - and in heat, too!"
Martis tossed Medusa on her, but Fallon caught her and continued giggling as she stroked the snake's head.
Sev slipped in next to Martis and said, "You missed it, Spirals!"
"Potter trying to put his name in the Goblet. Fifth-Year goit thought writing 'James Potter - SEVENTH Year - Hogwarts' would fool the Goblet."
Martis shook her head sadly as Fallon giggled.
"You know, Snips," Martis said. "Just when I think they can't be any more idiotic, they prove me wrong and do something even more stupid. At this rate, the general intelligence of the human race will drop several IQ points because they lowered the curve."
At this point they fell silent as Potter - his skin, robe, hair, and even the whites of his eyes now a vivid scarlet - stomped past, muttering imprecations under his breath.
Fallon smiled. "What ho, James old bean. Feeling a bit flushed?"
Martis chimed in, "I heard you were caught red-handed."
Potter stared at the Slytherin girls angrily for a moment, then made a sound generally written as "AAAUGH!" before resuming his stomping.
Two seconds later, Martis and Fallon collapsed into giggling fits. Sev pretended to be proper as he helped himself to toast, but could not quite hide the smirk.
Quite suddenly, a House-Elf in appeared out of nowhere and rushed down the aisle between the Ravenclaw and Slytherin tables, brandishing a two foot long wand around like a sword. An orange cape with the Chudley Cannons logo fluttered behind him like a flag in his run.
"Out of my way, foul knaves!" the House-Elf called. "I am the Masked Avenger - come to claim my share of chow!"
Everyone in the Great Hall went silent and stared at the diminutive being with the pointed ears, large tennis-ball sized amber eyes framed by a black mask, long thin nose, clad in a Slytherin robe and a perfectly-cut under-uniform and the cape, and - at the moment - posing dramatically on Sonia Stellamaris' head.
"What is this thing on my head??" Sonia asked.
"It's a House-Elf in a Slytherin robe," her table-mate replied. "OW!"
The House-Elf had swatted him with the wand. "I'm NOT a House-Elf - I am an ELF!" He speared a plateful of kippers on the end of his wand. "I claim this bounty in the name of the Wizard-King and my own gut - URK!"
And just as suddenly, he vanished into thin air, although the sounds of a struggling person were heard all the way down the aisle and out the door; students leaned into the aisle to see where he had gone.
"Well," McGonagall commented in the confused silence. "With students from three schools present, I suppose we must expect some pranking. Back to your meals, everyone. Classes start in fifteen minutes."
Sev, Martis, and Fallon looked at each other.
"They can't blame us," Martis said. "My hands were visible the whole time."
"As mine," Sev added. He was surprised to feel Martis' hand slip into his under the table, but said nothing.
Fallon made a face. "Damn. Wish I'd thought of a prank like that."
While students had dinner in the Great Hall later on that night, Cleopatra took this time to sweep the corridors to look for the Madwands.
The report of the huge owl in the Owlery, the centaur girl in the Ravenclaw robes found in Dumbledore's office last night, and the appearance of the Cavelier-House-Elf were proof enough they had arrived.
She had found Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Black just inside the antechamber of the main floor - both were unconscious and had rotgut on their breath. Taking one in each arm, she hauled them to the hospital wing where Madame Pomfrey revived them and scolded them about going on another drunken rampage.
When Pomfrey left to contact their House Master Professor Penderdandis, Lucius turned to Narcissa and said, "I didn't imagine it - that was our grandson and the others were from the future."
Narcissa snorted, pressing the washcloth to her forehead. "No kidding, darling. And we were held prisoner by our grandson while he tried to 'reform' us. Although Vox and Snape made one nice-looking guy - "
Cleopatra had drawn her wand out and discreetly muttered a Memory-Maker Charm on the teenagers. When she was sure Lucius and Narcissa were open to suggestion, she slipped her wand back into her sleeve. Very few people were allowed to learn this charm, as all the havoc it could cause; but the Lockhart family had specialized in such things for centuries and had finally shared their knowledge after the death of vigilante Gilderoy Lockhart.
"All right," she said in a low voice. "You did not meet your grandson. You did not meet his friends. You were not held prisoner. You had spent last night in Hogsmeade at the Hog's Head getting tanked and doing things that would set off the Protection Spells. You have no idea how you got back here. Understand?"
The blondes nodded and Cleopatra snapped her fingers.
Narcissa's head jerked up. "Gods, what did I drink?"
"The same as I did," Lucius replied, looking around. "Oh, hell, they found us."
Cleopatra folded her arms. "Mind explaining to me why you were missing for eighteen hours?"
They began babbling, just as Cleopatra planned.
Professor Flitwick was standing on top of a pile of books on top of one of the tables in the Slytherin common room that evening.
"The Costume Charm is very simple to perform," he stated to the students surrounding him. "You don't have to think about what you want to wear, since the spell will take care of that. All you have to do is stand before a mirror, swish and flick your wand at your reflection, and say the incantation 'dissimulo'. Try it, Mr. Snape."
Sev blushed, but everyone cleared the way around him and gave him access to the common room's huge mirror. He approached the mirror and drew his wand out; pausing to brush a forelock of hair back into his braid, he made the motions of spell-casting and stated, "Dissimulo!"
He was enveloped in white mist which quickly dissipated, revealing Severus Snape in a set of ornate gold and white enamel armor. The most amazing part of the costume was the pair of black feathered wings folded up against his back, the tips brushing against the floor and the crests curling over his head. His hair was combed back and the top and sides braided nicely, allowing only two forelocks to escape to frame his liquid black eyes.
Martis felt her jaw slack open; true, Sev was slight and more scholarly than athletic, but the overall effect of the dark angel warrior was both gorgeous and powerful. A brief image passed in her thoughts of Sev embracing her, wrapping the wings around their bodies as they stared deeply into each other's eyes ...
The gasp from the girls of Slytherin was the only noise, save for Martis quickly regaining her composure and calling out, "Hey, Snips, do the wings work??"
Sev experimentally shrugged his shoulders and the black lambert wings snapped outward, sweeping students ten feet away from all sides.
"Excellent, excellent, Mr. Snape!" Flitwick cried, clapping his hands.
Martis' image of his winged embrace came into sharper focus - this time, the detail of his mouth descending to kiss hers became the central element of the fantasy. She mentally slapped herself to stop coming up with plans to get him alone outside the party and attempt to play out the images in her mind.
Sev studied his reflection in the mirror and shrugged, the wings folding against his back once again. "I would have preferred black and silver armor rather than white and gold."
"Looks sexy, Snape," Akiko Mori giggled, then winked at Martis. Martis pressed her lips into a thin line of neutrality.
"All right," Flitwick said. "Who's next?"
Martis pushed her way to the mirror and Sev moved away. After performing the spell on herself, the mist faded away to expose her in a tight red leather jumpsuit slit down to THERE and completed by a pair of twisted horns and a red tail.
Sev swallowed; it was incredible how girls looked without their robes, and Martis had the most distinct figure in all of Slytherin even in her robe. The fact that her figure was showcased in something tight, slick, and red with lots of cleavage showing and was causing him to stare obsessively at her curves made his skin flush white. It was not a costume to be taken off, but must be PEELED off ... slowly ...
He wanted to say something appropriately indecent, but found his fountain of wit dry for some reason; he suspected it had something to do with the mental images of trying to peel the costume off her. Gods!
Flitwick squeaked and blushed, realizing that the costume revealed more of a fourteen-year-old girl's body than it should, and in fact the costume made sure to point out the wearer in question was indeed female.
Martis gazed at it in the mirror, wiggled her backend to make the tail swish around, then grinned. "I like it."
"Quite a scandal," Sev commented at last, smirking. "But still delicious."
She raspberried him in reply, draping Medusa around her shoulders. Their roommates were the only ones who noticed how much Martis and Sev gazed at each other while everyone performed the costume charm.
Five minutes later, everyone was in costume and ready to head out to the Hallowe'en Party in the Great Hall.
The House tables and benches had been cleared away from the center of the room. One of the tables held snack foods and punch along one wall, while the rest of the chamber was filled with game booths and spots of chairs or smaller round tables.
The Hallowe'en Party was the first official event of the Triwizard Tournament, and was being covered by several reporters from the Daily Prophet. Minister of Magic Millicent Bagnold was also present along with her constant Auror bodyguards (including Alastor Moody), and Malfada Hopkirk (recently promoted by the Ministry as head of Improper Use of Magic) and Jocunda Sykes (the first person to ride across the Atlantic on a broomstick) as Judges.
The decorations were gorgeous - floating Jack-o'-lanterns, orange and red and gold leaves strewn about the tables and booths, bats flying over the floating Jacks and candles, the costume-clad ghosts mingling amid the students while the Hogwarts pupils called 'Happy Deathday' to Nearly Headless Nick.
Students bobbed for apples, threw darts at bubbles, tossed rings over butterbeer bottles, took turns in Madame von Gruppen's 'psychic' booth, 'ooh'ed and 'ahh'ed over Hagrid's new dangerous pets, or danced in small groups to Slytherin's own house rock band which had not played since Slytherin's victory games last year (attempts to locate the band SPEW for a return engagement met with failure). Madame Meringue from Beauxbatons was teaching a few students how to dance in another corner. Lambchop the inflatable sheep trotted around and accepted treats from the students she did not embarrass.
The Durmstrang students had gravitated toward the Darker students of Slytherin, the students most noted for their opinions on Pure Blood Wizards. Not surprising, among the group of Slytherins were the Lestrange brothers, Sirius Black's younger brother Regulus, Bellatrix Black (looking natural and creepy in a black widow spider costume), Lucius Malfoy's henchboys Nicholas Crabbe and Henry Goyle, their sisters Hazel Crabbe and Bertha Goyle, Oriana Crescent, James Nott, Dennis Avery, and Evan Rosier. Noticeably absent from this group were Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Black who had to serve detentions for going off school grounds for the night once again.
The Beauxbatons students kept to themselves or sat and talked with the Ravenclaws. One Beauxbatons boy was trying his darnedest to sweet-talk Phaedra Vox-Patil (Muggle nurse) until her husband showed up in a Grim Reaper costume and told him the scythe was real. Artemisia (American Southern Belle) was dancing with Fred Holden of Gryffindor (the unsung roommate of the Marauders), and Adonia (European Medieval princess) was beating everyone at the bubble-popping booth.
Sev and Martis sat on the sidelines and people-watched.
"No Maraudiots," Martis commented.
"I heard Loopy was sick again," Sev remarked. "I bet the others are having a fine time making fun of it."
"Too bad. We could have had some real fun." Martis sipped at the sticky-sweet cranberry punch (a gift from the Salem Witches Institute in America) and looked around. "There's Fallon trying to sneak around the edges of Ryper's popularity."
Sev sighed, seeing the First-Year Little Bo Peep practically stalking the Seventh-Year Great White Hunter (who was surrounded by girls in various jungle girl and cat costumes). "He's seventeen and she's only eleven. When's she going to get over it?"
"Probably if he actually does offer."
"In that case, we have to kill him."
"Absolutely," Martis replied. "I'm sure he'll understand." She set her goblet down and turned to him. "What shall we do?"
Sev's eyes immediately glued to her cleavage and he tried to pull them away by looking up at her sunglass-wearing face. There was ... just so MUCH of it! It just made his eyes want to stare, like they were gravity for eyeballs or something. Not to mention he still had those ideas of peeling the costume off her fragrant skin -
"We bre - BEST - come up with something before we bore ourselves to death."
Martis noted what looked like a big purple lizard costume. "Turn the Judges and Headmasters all purple?"
Sev shook his head. "Too uncultured." He pursed his lips. "Change the drinks to unsweetened lemon juice?"
She pondered that for a moment. "No - Headmaster Dumbledore likes the cranberry juice." Another moment of pondering. "Set fire to the Gryffies?"
"This is a formal party - not a weenie roast."
Martis snickered. "Snips! Punning in public! How uncultured." She cuddled him, which caused the blood to rush from his brain as he suddenly became aware of how much of her was touching how much of him and the exact shapes and firmnesses of every part of her.
Stupid armor getting in the way - !
She looked up at Sev's face and noted how pale he was. "Severus? You alright?"
He looked at her and an image popped into his mind of the photos that the Vox twins had shoved under his nose of Martis practicing her bull-leaping in preparations of next summer's Summer Festival contest, wearing the classic attire, and how she (or parts of her) moved when she -
Martis smiled as a smirk came over Sev's face. "Oooo! You have an idea!" she breathed, feeling excitement course through her veins at his intense expression. "Goody! What is it? Who do we kill? What? What?"
He leaned over and whispered in her ear.
Her face went blank, then she began chortling in glee.
"Do you approve, my dear Miss Vox?"
"Oh yes, Mister Snape. Most highly. And when shall the festivities begin?"
"Allow me to cast the appropriate Summoning spells - not my forte, you know - and shall we say ... ten minutes?"
Sev had lied through his teeth.
He was an expert at summoning beasts. After the fiasco involving the dragon his First-Year, Sartoris had pounded safety measures and control spells into his head to make sure that if he did summon beasts, he could control them on his own. This time, he was prepared for what he summoned.
In the main corridor, the scent of magic slowly faded as the great bull pawed the ground nervously before him. Sev slipped his wand back in his bracer and held his hands on either side of the bull's large face.
"You are mine to control, and I am your master."
The bull blinked in obedience.
"You are to be leapt like your noble ancestors were on Crete. You are to remain within the central area of the hall and you are not to attack anyone. Feign dangerousness, but remain under my command."
The bull snorted in agreement.
Sev released its face and raised his hand to the Great Hall's double doors, forcing them open with a flick of the wrist. The bull charged through.
Inside the Great Hall, students screamed and parted, pressed back to the walls as the bull leapt into the room.
With an ancient war cry, Britomartis Vox sailed over their heads and landed before the bull who stared her down.
"Ladies and Gentlemen!" she proclaimed as the bull began to lunge for her. "You are about to witness - from my home island of Crete - the traditional Ceremonial Bull-Leaping!"
By the time McGonagall (having Transfigured herself into her cat Animagus form for the party) slipped down from her seat, the students were applauding. Martis took a running start at the bull, kicked off the ground, and somersaulted over the bull's head to land one-handed on its back as it continued to race around the room safely within the confines of the circle of students and reporters.
Martis pushed off its back, twisted half-way around, and landed on her feet behind the bull, her arms outstretched in gymnasts' end-stance.
The Slytherins whistled and screamed their approval. The Durmstrang students stood in gap-mouthed awe while the Beauxbatons students murmured amongst themselves in alarm. The rest of Hogwarts - used to the oddness of the youngest Vox - clapped. The Vox sisters offered war cries of encouragement. McGonagall (still in cat form) stalked to the edge of the circle and Transfigured back into her human form, her face both pale and pinched in outrage.
Sev watched from the doors, smirking smugly and admiring how her golden aura was nearly lighting up the room in her happiness. Gods, that was just as beautiful as her skin and eyes and mouth and curves ...
Off to the side, a sheet full of holes and a Cavelier-style House-Elf were grinning demented grins.
"Your mum's not doing it right," the House-Elf commented.
"You're right," the Holey Ghost agreed. "She needs a - "
And both proclaimed together: "THEME SONG!"
The Holey Ghost jumped up on the stage where the Slytherin band was and pulled a strange-looking device that could have been a Muggle synthesizer from a hole in his costume. The costumed House-Elf hopped up on his shoulders, snatching the microphone from the confused singer onstage.
The band stared in shock.
"HIT IT!" the House-Elf shouted.
The Holey Ghost began to play a hard rock riff with strong electric guitar signatures, and the House-Elf sang 'Ballroom Blitz':
"Well, It's been getting so hard
Livin' with the things you do to me ... uh huh ... "
The bull rounded back and Martis - her back to the bull - held her hands behind her.
"My dreams are getting so strange
I'd like to tell you everything I see ... uh huh ... "
As the bull's nose touched her hands, she hitched herself back and somersaulted backward between the horns and stood up on her hands on the bull's forehead.
The House-Elf pointed directly at Sev, who was still standing by the doors.
"I see a man at the back
As a matter of fact
his eyes are red as the sun - "
He stood on the head of the Holey Ghost while the crowd cheered.
"And the girl in the corner
let no one ignore her
'Cause she thinks she's the passionate one - OH - YEAH!"
It was quite obvious - from the way that the bull ran around the room - that Martis was straining against the openings of her leather jumpsuit while she did handstands on its head.
"Hey, it was like lightning
everybody was frightening
And the music was soothing
and they all started grooving ... "
Several of the less mature boy-students began chanting, "FALL OUT! FALL OUT! FALL OUT!"
Several girls around them swatted them to shut up.
"Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!"
Martis lowered her legs and stood upright on the bull's back. Sev strided up to the boys who were yelling vulgar things and began hexing them. A couple of Slytherin Quidditch players assisted.
"And the man at the back said
'Everyone attack!' and it turned into a Ballroom Blitz
And the girl in the corner said
'Boy, I wanna warn ya, it'll turn into a Ballroom Blitz!' ... "
Martis pirouetted off to the floor, landing before a group of Durmstrang boys who fell to their knees in adulation.
"Ballroom Blitz, Ballroom Blitz, Ballroom Blitz
The bull charged for Martis again.
"I'm reaching out for something
Touching nothing's all I ever do ... uh huh ... "
Martis flipped forward over the bull's head, spun twice, and landed on her feet on the animal's back. Sev made his way over to the Durmstrang boys that were bowing toward her.
"I softly call you over
"When you appear there's nothing left of you ... uh huh ... "
Martis leapt up from the back of the bull, touching the floating Jack-o'-lanterns, and landed back on the bull.
"Now the man in the back is ready to crack
As he raises his hands to the sky - "
Sev slammed his palm out toward the Durmstrang boys and all of them were flipped upsidedown on their heads, their costumes showing off legs and underwear.
"And the girl in the corner is ev'ryone's mourner
She could kill you with a wink of her eye ... "
Martis jumped off the bull and ran across the snack table before vaulting back onto the bull.
"Oh yeah, it was electric
so frightfully hectic
And the band started leaving
and they all stopped breathing ... "
Martis spun multiple times through the air and landed in a handstand on the floor, of which she recovered from by pushing herself back on her feet.
"Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!"
McGonagall finally grabbed Sev's arm, scowling down at him with all the anger she could muster. "Mister SNAPE! What is the meaning of this??"
"And the man at the back said
'Everyone attack!' and it turned into a Ballroom Blitz
And the girl in the corner said
'Boy, I wanna warn ya, it'll turn into a Ballroom Blitz'!"
Sev coldly yanked his arm away. "Shall I banish it, Professor?"
"Ballroom Blitz, Ballroom Blitz, Ballroom Blitz
Sev slipped his wand out of his bracer, flicked it in the air toward the charging bull, and called out, "EXSILIUM!"
"It's, it's a Ballroom Blitz
it's, it's a Ballroom Blitz
It's, it's a Ballroom Blitz
it's, it's a Ballroom Blitz
It's, it's a Ballroom Blitz
it's, it's a Ballroom BLITZ!"
The bull vanished in a shower of fireworks and colored smoke, leaving Martis twirling in the center of the Hall with her arms upraised in victory.
The thunder of applause and cheers made the windows rattle.
The Holey Ghost and the Masked House-Elf scrambled off-stage.
One of the Beauxbatons girls commented, "What wond'ful ente'tainment you 'ave 'ere at 'ogwarts!"
Professor Auttenbaum's chill face remained stonily silent while Professor Flavert clapped daintily and shouted "Brava! Brava!" Headmaster Dumbledore raised an eyebrow, although the smirk threatened to split his beard open on one side. The Minister applauded just as loudly as Beauxbatons' Headmaster.
McGonagall was positively livid as she pulled Sev behind her. "Miss Vox - staff table!"
After a loss of twenty points, an entirely too mild scolding by the Headmaster, glowing praise from the Minister of Magic and Professor Flavert, and a mumbled cussing out by Auror Moody, Sev and Martis were allowed to join the party again since no one was harmed.
The pair had decided to see how Madame von Gruppen would interpret their futures and ducked into her 'booth' of draped cloth in a corner of the Great Hall.
Madame von Gruppen had decided to do readings for those who asked because the confluence of cosmic forces - Halloween on a full moon night, and it being her birthday as well - made her foretellings unusually clear and sharp. Although tonight had been more trying than she expected because a substantial number of students did not appear to have futures. She put on a good show, but resolved to speak with the Headmaster.
"Herr Snape and Fraulein Vox," von Gruppen greeted the students in her native German accent. "Good to see the both of you. I've always wanted to look into your futures."
"I thought you did, anyway," Sev muttered.
"A good seer does not pry unless asked." The Divinations teacher tapped the top of the large crystal ball. "Right, Fraulein Vox?"
Martis nodded. "Yes, but why us in particular?"
"One would have to be blind not to see."
"What?" Sev asked uneasily. "What??"
Martis poked his shoulder and stated, "Bother."
Madame von Gruppen raised a fine eyebrow, but decided not to explain the matter; it was obvious neither were ready to acknowledge the obvious. "May I ... touch your faces to get a clearer reading?"
Sev nervously looked away and Martis reached across to link her hand in his. "We'll both do it at the same time, Snips."
Madame von Gruppen gently caressed her hands over Martis and Sev's cheeks, resting her palms under their chins. His dark eyes and her green eyes locked to the teacher's, allowing her access to their souls.
It was not the fact that she did not expect anything to come from it - to the contrary, she fully expected an entwined future of the two Slytherins - but the fact that the images and feelings flooding through her Inner Eye were composed of horrors and anger and death and loneliness and broken souls and all manner of despair and hopelessness ...
It was the underlying current that had woven itself through all the futures she had seen that evening. But here it was clearer, as if they stood closer to the source than any others. A storm of darkness and death was brewing, one destined to claim the lives of almost half the students here, and these two would be near its core and survive it. Maybe. Futures are never written in stone, after all.
Finally ... one name in flaming letters wove its way throughout her Inner Eye ...
Her vision swam with the flaming letters, the letters swirling into figures burning at stakes, of burning snakes, of flaming skulls with flaming snakes pouring out of their mouths -
"Madame von Gruppen?" Martis' voice cut through the visions.
She refocused on the faces of the teenagers. The visions realigned themselves and she pushed the darker ones away, picking through them to find something positive.
She found a few pieces, but they were still interconnected with the coming doom. She desperately needed to talk to Albus Dumbledore about what she saw.
Still, they needed something.
"Eleven children the Priestess will bear," the Divinations teacher began. "When the Dark Child returns from the False Master, four will be gone. Yet none were his, but seven will be, once the False Master is finally destroyed by the One Who Lives."
Martis and Sev wore identical puzzled looks as von Gruppen pressed her fingers to her forehead.
"Ach, children, I am so sorry, but my headache is starting to really hurt."
"That bad, eh?" Sev said quietly. "I knew this was a bad idea."
"Madame?" Martis ventured.
"I'll be fine. Go on."
Martis and Sev left the booth, deciding to shelve analysis of the reading until much later, and headed for the side seats.
Madame von Gruppen got up and unknowingly brushed against an Invisible Cloak. She paused as those under it held their breaths.
"A green-haired girl in a spacesuit?" she murmured in confusion, then shook her head and left the booth.
A second later a girl's voice squealed, "WHAT green-haired girl in a spacesuit??"
"I don't know!" a boy's voice answered.
Martis had left the party to attend to some personal concerns and Sev wandered over to the group surrounding Leonardo di Bozo (Hufflepuff Photographer) and two of Narcissa Black's Handmaidens.
The group around them was comprised of several male students waving handfuls of sickles and galleons around and rewarded with some sort of packet.
Sev rapped Jonas Kennebunk's armored arm. "What's going on?"
Jonas lifted up the helmet of his knight's costume. "Haven't you heard, Snape? Narcissa Black created a swimsuit calendar of Slytherin girls - they're being sold for two galleons each."
Sev narrowed his eyes. "Which Slytherin girls?"
"The prettiest ones, of course. Including you-know-who." Jonas offered his calendar and Sev flipped it open -
Peony Danderfluff as Miss January (skinny blonde in a white bikini), Narcissa Black as Miss February (skinny blonde in a red bikini), Brittany Valkaria as Miss March (strong redhead in a green bikini), Oriana Crescent as Miss April (skinny brunette in a pink bikini), Akiko Mori as Miss May (petite Japanese girl in a gold bikini), Asa Gangreene as Miss June (skinny redhead in a blue bikini) ...
Britomartis Vox as Miss July ...
Compared to the other posed pictures (which either embarrassed or creeped him out), Martis' was quite natural and candid with her clad in the red top and black and white striped bottom that she was wearing when he rescued her from the pervert brigade at the lake last month. She was getting ready to dive into the lake, her golden skin making every muscle stand out as her hair flew around her. The movement also made it clear that she bounced.
Compared to the other Slytherin girls, Martis was the only one whose ... assets ... stood out in stark contrast to everyone else's.
Sev felt his stomach knot. His Martis was not meant to be seen by anyone else!
Damn, she was beautiful ...
He cleared his throat and handed the calendar back to Jonas. "Who's selling these things??"
"The Hufflepuff Photographer and the Handmaidens, of course. I think Black is still in detention." He opened the calendar up to Miss July. "Damn, Snape, why didn't you tell us she's dark all over - URK!"
The 'urk' was from Sev opening his wings and slamming them into Jonas' gut which was not covered with armor. "WHAT - " Sev exclaimed toward the Hufflepuff Photographer and the Black Handmaidens. " - DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING???"
The crowd was swept aside by his large black wings as he approached the group. The Handmaidens yelped and dove for cover while Leonardo - ever the artist - began snapping pictures of the 'pissed off dark angel' (as he would call the subject).
"WELL?" Sev demanded.
"It was Mistress Black's idea!" one of the Handmaidens cried. "We just carried it out! She didn't want Spirals in it but the guys of Slytherin wanted her in it! Don't kill us!"
"Don't turn us into anything!" the other added.
"More sneer!" Leonardo cried, continuing to take pictures. "REALLY angry, man!"
Sev raised his hand and forced the camera to fly from the photographer's hands; Leonardo dove for it before it hit the floor and shattered.
"SEVERUS!" Martis' voice yelled. "WHO DID THIS TO ME?!"
Martis appeared, holding one of the calendars open to Miss July; her aura practically flared golden energy all around her, making the red leather look almost like liquid.
"This," he sneered, pointing to the prone photographer. "And - according to them - " He gestured angrily at the Handmaidens, making them flinch. "- Narcissa Black."
Leonardo hid his face in his hands, squeaking, "I-don't-wanna-die-I-don't-wanna-die-I-don't-wanna-die-"
"You should have thought of that," Severus growled. "Before you violated Martis' dignity."
The Death of Leonardo di Bozo and the Handmaidens was interrupted by a fanfare played on a magical trumpet. All the students turned around to see Headmaster Dumbledore, Headmistress Auttenbaum, and Headmaster Flavert stand up at the headtable.
"The Goblet is ready to make its decision," Dumbledore announced. "When the champions names' are called, I would ask them please to come up to the top of the Hall, pass before the staff table, and go through into the next chamber where they will receive their first instructions."
Sev glanced down at the photographer and the Handmaidens, snarled, then turned away and folded his wings back down against his back. Martis opened her mouth to object to the cancellation of the beating, but Sev placed his fingers on her lips to quiet her. Martis became quite distracted by how his long fingers felt against her mouth and other ideas came to mind, making her turn as red as her costume and distracting her from beating on anyone.
Dumbledore extinguished all light within the Great Hall save for the candles in the floating Jack-o'-lanterns. A great hush fell over the thousand students of Hogwarts, the twenty students from other schools, and the three dozen other odds and ends of officials, staff, and reporters.
The Goblet's flames turned from silver-blue to red, then a slip of burned paper shot up out of the flames. Dumbledore caught it and read, "Representing Durmstrang Institute - Igor Karkaroff."
The Durmstrang students broke into hard applause while their Headmistress remained silent as she locked her glass-blue eyes to Igor's blond, athletic figure while he sauntered up to the head table and crossed to the back room, a lazy grin across his thin face.
The applause died down as the blue flames turned red again. Martis reached for Sev's hand again, quietly holding hands amid the rest of the students.
Another slip of parchment appeared and Dumbledore caught it again. "Representing Beauxbatons Academy - Michel de Nostradom."
The Beauxbatons students - almost glowing in the candlelight due to their shiny and glittery costumes - erupted into cries of French as they kissed or touched the face of their champion. Michel gracefully approached the table, his dark russet hair and stocky build and dark complexion a direct contrast to Durmstrang's champion.
Beauxbatons' Headmaster shouted praise and approval over the applause while Michel slipped into the next room with a peaceful smile.
The Hogwarts students held their breaths as another piece of paper was spit out of the Goblet. Dumbledore stated, "And representing Hogwarts School - Evan Ryper."
Silence, then every single Slytherin howled, cheered, and clapped in approval. The rest of the students applauded in general shock while a murmur of 'A SLYTHERIN was chosen?' backed up the noise.
Evan grinned broadly as he made his way up to the table, gave a 'thumbs up' to Dumbledore, and entered the chamber behind the table.
Dumbledore turned back to the party at large. "Well, we have our three champions for this Triwizard Tournament. All of you, especially from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons, will support your champions in all ways possible." He smiled serenely to the students. "Now, this evening is almost over, it is time to get back to your dormitories and get some sleep for classes tomorrow and the first Quidditch game of the season on Saturday. Good night, students."
The heads of the three schools, along with the rest of the judges, got up and made their way to the chamber where the three champions waited. The rest of the teachers and staff herded the students out to the halls and Prefects led their housemates back to their dorms.
Reporters stopped students in the halls, asking for their opinions on the event. One young witch reporter with blonde pincurls stopped Martis and Sev on their way out and asked, "Rita Skeeter for the 'Daily Prophet' - What do you think of Evan Ryper being chosen for Hogwarts?"
"Oh, I am just seething with jealousy and am going to stick jelly doughnuts in his underpants," Sev stated in a dead monotone with complete expressionlessness.
The purple dinosaur near them broke into what sounded like a cross between a hiccup, a giggle, and a choke, then ran off, seemingly laughing in hysterics.
"Um ... lovely ... " Rita Skeeter managed to reply. "Names, please?"
"Lucius Malfoy, but my friends call me Lucy. And she's Oriana Crescent."
As Sev turned away from the reporter, Martis added, "You know, you remind me of a blonde version of Betty Boop."
"Who?" the reporter asked.
"Muggle cartoon character with an annoying voice and stupid-looking hair. Toodles."
Martis pulled Sev down the hall with her and into the dungeons, giggling and hugging him around the shoulders.
"Reporters are annoying creatures," Sev commented.
They did not notice the purple dinosaur lifting a translucent wand up and transfiguring Rita Skeeter into a beetle, thereby temporarily eliminating the annoying creature in question.
"They can be useful in starting fires," Martis remarked. "Why am I Ori?"
"Because of how Miss Black will act when word gets back to her that Malfoy was escorting Crescent to the dungeons. Especially since he is supposed to be on detention."
Martis looked around. "Hey, where is everyone?"
Sev stopped and looked around as well. "Damned reporter; we mixed up the entrances to the dungeons."
"Shall we go back?"
"No, I know how to get from here to the common room." He clutched her wrist, and devil and angel walked down the corridors of the dungeons hand in hand. One of the ghosts paused and watched the two figures pass her before she rolled her eyes and muttered something about the veils between worlds being TOO thin ...
There was no reason for it, but Martis suddenly found herself tripping over nothing and Sev catching her before she fell helplessly to the floor.
"Thanks," she said, turning in his arms and hugging him. "Don't know what happened."
"Probably Peeves," Sev growled. "You know what he's like."
"So we should be expecting the spitballs any moment now."
Martis released him and continued on down the corridor and around a corner, where BOTH tripped and fell to the stone floor - Martis first and Sev on top of her.
"What the Avernus is going on??" Martis demanded.
Sev - struggling to regain his balance with the huge folded wings offsetting it - finally slipped his wand out and lifted the costume charm from himself. "I don't know, but if it IS Peeves, I've going to get him exorcised!"
Sev felt something FORCEFULLY push him back down on top of her, causing his face to land disgracefully against her breasts. "Ow! My nose!"
"OW!" Martis cried, pressing her hand down where his face landed. "Is your nose broken?"
"I am going to KILL that poltergeist!" He tried to get up ...
And discovered the front his robe was glued to the front of her costume.
"Spirals, we have a problem - "
Martis looked down, seeing his robe attached to her. "Somebody's making fools of us!"
"They're bloody pillocks then, since there aren't any witnesses to see us being fools." He shrugged his arms into the robe and ducked his head in, trying to wriggle down out of the robe. "And if they think they'll survive this intact, they don't know us at all!"
"Damn straight!" she snarled, trying to pry a bit of robe off her costume. She yelped as he brushed down her hips, making her suddenly and completely aware of how close they were. Damn, if she was not so angry at the moment -
Sev's head appeared from under the robe and he flicked his braid back. Martis sat up and produced her own wand, getting rid of her costume so that Sev's robe was attached to her own robe. She quickly pulled it over her head and held up the glued clothing. "Damn! They owe us new robes!"
"They owe me a robe, period," Sev wheezed, holding his nose. "That was my only one!"
"Are you bleeding?" she asked.
"A little, broke a capillary or something."
"Then we have to have our vengeance on whomever it may be." She pulled a kerchief from her sweater and gently pressed it to his face; he accepted it and held it under his nose. He absently noted how much it smelled like her.
"Not the Marauders," he said.
"Why?" she asked. "They weren't at the party - and I'm sure they couldn't sit still long enough at Loopy's sickbed."
"If it were the Maraudiots, then it would have been during the party, in full view of everyone, and made damn sure they were close enough for us to see them laughing."
"True." Martis sat down next to him and balanced her oak wand on her knee while she examined the robes. "Looks like an adhesive charm - like the one I used when the photographer was getting a picture of the Drooling Menagerie and you used sneezing powder on them."
Sev smiled briefly. "Yes, I remember that."
Her brows knotted. "Snips. No one else at this school knows that charm except for my family. One of my brothers created it for his Seventh-Year charms work and I know it isn't in any books yet."
"Are you sure? There are several adhesive charms - "
"Not like this one. The one Silas created doesn't just make an 'attractant' or 'magical glue' - it rearranges the first several layers of cellular material of two objects and weaves them together." She held up the robes. "If a tailor were to look at this, they'd swear it was one piece of clothing."
Sev narrowed his eyes. "Your sisters?"
"Only explanation." She incanted a word in Minoan and the robes separated. "Here's yours." She pulled her robe on and wondered, "But why would the twins do something like this?"
"Anything in your culture about this sort of thing?"
"No. Odd indeed." Martis smirked. "Of course, for annoying us to no end, they must pay the price."
"Nice. What shall we do?"
The next day, Artemisia and Adonia wondered how their hair ended up glued together during breakfast. Recognizing the charm, they decided to magically embroider 'Miss July' on the back of their baby sister's robe.
Martis blamed that prank on the Marauders and all four ended up with peanut butter on their noses which would not wash off for the rest of the evening.
Things seemed to be back to normal, despite the presence of French and Eastern European people on campus.
PS - What about the calendars? Wait until the next story.