Duck . . . Duck . . . Goose!
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Chapter Twenty-One: All's Well That Ends . . . Mostly Good
"For the last time, Albus, I beseech you to cease your foolishness and not tell the student body about the children. You know it will immediately leak to the papers and to the Dark Lord. Have you no care for my sanity or safety? If you are not concerned for me, then, the safety of those also involved?"
"My dear boy," and with those words, Severus knew there was no talking the old coot out of his plans, "it is time we force the issue with Voldemort. I believe that by releasing this information, he will be forced to show his hand. I understand that you have created a sure-fire way for Harry to destroy him?"
"I don't know about 'sure-fire', Albus, but we do at least have hope that it will be the . . . least painful for those involved."
"Good, good! Screaming Orgasm?"
"I –Excuse me?"
"It's this lovely Muggle drink I've discovered. It's got quite a bite to it, but it's very tasty."
"Albus, I hardly feel that this is an appropriate time for your Muggle idiocy When do you propose to tell the students of matters they have no business knowing?"
"On Friday morning. I'll inform the other Heads to instruct their students that breakfast that morning shall be mandatory."
"I see." Severus was highly displeased, but knew there was no way around the issue this time. Albus could not be moved from his 'brilliant' plan. They were stuck. Without another word, Severus stood and swept from the Headmaster's office; no sign of the despair he felt evident on his face.
Hermione was sitting on the small sofa in Minerva's office, gently running her fingers through the older woman's soft hair. Minerva was curled up, much as her animagus form would, head in Hermione's lap. "What are we to do, Hermione? I cannot bear losing you."
"Nor I you, Min. Nevertheless, I cannot in good conscience abandon my daughter and expect Severus to care for her on his own. I have also come to care for Severus; perhaps not as deeply or intensely as I care for you, and I do not know if the intimacy we shared can possibly be the same now that we have our own selves back, but my thoughts stray there."
Minerva sighed. "Severus has sometimes felt like a son to me. I don't know if I could handle being in a polygamous relationship with the two of you, Hermione."
"Are you asking me to choose?"
Minerva shook her head, tears in her eyes. "No, never my love, but I am distraught and I don't rightly know what to do."
At this juncture came a knock at the door. Minerva wandlessly waved it open to reveal the man in question. "Severus," Minerva said, her voice a little cooler than usual. His keen talent as a spy caught the tears in her eyes and he surmised the reason for them and for her slightly frosty tone.
"I came to tell you when Albus was releasing the . . . news," he said tiredly, as he closed the door behind him. Noticing the bassinette in the corner, he checked in on his daughter. She was sleeping and he ran a light finger down her cheek. 'His daughter' – how utterly peculiar the concept still was, so foreign to him.
"Albus is informing all the Heads that their students are required to attend Friday's breakfast for an important announcement. If we want to move out of the country, now would be a good time to do it. I hear Mr. Weasley's brothers have concocted some long-lasting concealment potions. I imagine we could purchase a number of them."
Minerva sighed. "How long do you think Albus would search for us?"
"Min! You can't be serious about running way?"
"Do you want the entire student body to know what went on this year? Do you want them to speculate that your grades were the result of our relationship?"
"I earned my grades fair and square and we didn't start anything until I was of age and no longer taking transfigu-"
"She's baiting you, Hermione," offered Severus, and amused smirk playing across his lips. "We know the truth – but how easy do you think it will be to convince the student body of that? You know how quickly rumours run amuck here."
'Amuck, amuck, amuck!' popped into Hermione's brain, and she shook her head, trying to dispel the goofy image of Sarah Jessica Parker in the film 'Hocus Pocus'. "I see," she finally ground out. "You have a point, I suppose. But think of who else is involved, Severus. How far do you think we'll get from Britain if run away with the 'Boy Who Lived'?"
Severus slumped his shoulders in defeat; an uncharacteristic position for the proud man, but Hermione and Minerva completely understood how he felt.
"Dobby!" Minerva called.
"Yes, Deputy Headmistress, you is calling for Dobby?"
"Yes, Dobby. I need you to fetch Mr. Potter, Mr. Longbottom, Mr. Weasley, Mr. Finnegan, - and fetch Poppy Pomfrey too. She should probably be aware of what is going on."
"Dobby is fetching the Great Mr. Potter and everyone else you is asking for!" He blinked out of site after this statement. Severus seated himself in one of Minerva's armchairs while they waited on the rest of their unfortunate entourage.
When everyone had gathered, Hermione broke the news that Albus would be sharing their private lives to the entire student body and staff of Hogwarts that Friday morning during breakfast.
Utter silence was the reaction, save a quiet, "Bloody hell!" from Ron.
After a few moments, Severus surprised everyone with his own announcement. "As my quarters are the most heavily warded, if the lot of you would like to spend Friday morning there, as long as nothing is broken, you are welcome. I will have breakfast delivered from the kitchens."
Hermione smiled sweetly at him. "That's very kind of you, Severus. I think we should all take you up on that offer, but," she continued, looking squarely at the rest of the crew, "do not alert anyone to where you will be Friday morning."
"If you will leave your children in my care," followed Poppy, "I will see to it that they are well protected from noise and insanity that is sure to follow our esteemed Headmaster's announcement. I know everyone will be clamouring to meet the infants and think it best if they are safely hidden for the time."
There was a general round of consensus to both announcements, another pause, and then Harry ventured, "Why exactly does the Headmaster think it wise to tell everyone what happened? What about the children of Death Eaters who are in line to be Death Eaters?"
"He wants to force the Dark Lord's hand, Potter. He believes we have a sure-fire way to vanquish him and feels that once the Dark Lord hears what has happened, which I assure you, he will hear, than we shall see him march forth on the grounds of Hogwarts to commence what Albus hopes will be the Final Battle."
Harry looked dumbly at Snape. "Has he lost his mind? Did you tell him what the plan consists of?"
"And," Severus ground out, his face tinged with anger or embarrassment, "he offered me a screaming orgasm; claimed it was some bloody Muggle concoction for drinking!"
The purebloods of the room looked dumbfounded.
Hermione, Seamus, and Harry burst out laughing. "Oh, Severus, I'm sorry," Hermione wheezed, trying to gain her breath. "That really is a Muggle concoction – an alcoholic drink, well, shot, really, consisting of Amaretto, Bailey's Irish Cream, and Vodka. I'm surprised he hasn't discovered the Lemon Drop drinks yet."
"Perhaps you should introduce them to him," Minerva suggested. "We certainly cannot have the Headmaster offering such ill-named drinks out to whoever is in the office at the time."
"And here I would have thought you would enjoy a screaming orgasm, Minerva," offered Snape, rather snidely.
"Oh, hush, you. I can punish you just as aptly now as I have before."
Snape paled and moved back in his chair a bit, legs crossed a bit tighter than before.
"This isn't getting us anywhere," Ron interjected after a moment of collective silence. "What we need to do now is get Poppy settled with where the children will be and what their habits are so she'll be ready Friday, although she should have them Thursday evening to be safe," Ron mused, his logical planning side from long hours of tromping Harry at chess showing through. "Then we need to finalize our plans for defeating V-Voldemort."
"For once, Mr. Weasley, I am in complete agreement with you." Ron inclined his head at the Potions Master but voiced no reply.
Despite being quite far away from the Great Hall on Friday morning, the thunderous noise resulting from whatever inane speech The Headmaster had revealed the news with resonated through the dungeon with alarming volume.
"I never want to face them again," moaned Harry.
"You?" sneered Snape, "I just lost my entire reputation this morning!"
"Right. Sorry about that," groused Harry.
Not long after, a hesitant knock sounded on the door. Snape cautiously made his way to it, and on opening, found Draco Malfoy on the other side. The boy looked a bit pale, so Snape shooed him quickly into the room and shut the door again.
Draco looked bleakly at the group before turning to Hermione. "Granger…" he murmured, no hint of his usual distaste. "It was you when I . . . when Filch." He shook his head, as if trying to dispel the memories that lingered. He'd been unable to convince The Headmaster to obliviate him all those months ago. "You helped me. Why?"
"Severus would have done the same for you," Hermione replied cautiously, unsure where the Prince of Slytherin's loyalties lay.
"Yes, because he's my Head of House and my Godfather, and I know you were having to put up a front that you were really him, but you showed me concern and warmth that was unfeigned. Why?"
Harry spoke up at that point. "I don't know what situation you're referring to, Malfoy, but you'll find if you're around Hermione long enough that she's a genuinely nice person and doesn't want anything bad to happen to anyone, no matter who they are."
Draco looked at Harry curiously. "Ah, yes. That explains spew." A slight smirk, or perhaps a smile, touched his lips. Hermione rolled her eyes but did not attempt to correct the name of her ill-fated rescue society. "In any case, I came down to thank you for that, and also to see how much truth there is to what The Headmaster says. He can be, well," he looked cautiously at the two professors there, "a bit barmy at times. I can't believe he would announce something so . . . bloody peculiar, knowing that there will be several students who will send word to their parents to alert the Dark Lord."
Severus reached out and grasped Draco's jaw firmly in his hand, tipping his face upwards until they made eye contact. Draco, aware of what his Godfather wanted, relaxed his mental shields and let the older man gently probe his mind, seeking out intentions.
Several minutes later Severus withdrew and guided his godson to a comfortable armchair, before reseating himself. Legilimency, even gently done, always took a great deal of energy. "Draco is to be trusted," he announced. "And he can dance."
Draco looked confused. "Why would . . . we're not having another formal ball, are we Severus?"
The group looked at each other in amusement. Finally Hermione spoke up. "No, but we discovered how to beat the Dark Lord without serious bloodshed, or perhaps none at all, unless Bellatrix decides to implant a thorny rose in her gums again."
Draco's brow furrowed as he tried to make sense of what Hermione had said. Shrugging his shoulders, he looked at Severus for explanation.
"While Hermione was masquerading in my body, she was called by the Dark Lord for a meeting of the Inner Circle."
Draco's jaw dropped. Rumours of events at these meetings brought terror to many, including the children of Purebloods.
"The rumours are, in fact, just rumours, Draco," Hermione explained, surmising his thoughts. "There was no raping or pillaging. Your Dark Lord is a fan of Riverdance, and it's a bloody good thing Severus' body knows how to dance, and dance well, no matter who's inside of it."
"He's not my Dark Lord," scoffed Draco. A pause. "Riverdance?That's rich! So you're planning to what, challenge him to a danc- Bloody hell, you are! But I've seen Potter dance before, you're doomed!"
Harry, surprisingly, burst into laughter. "You would have been right a few weeks ago, Mal—Draco, but I've been coached by the best. Severus, Minerva, and Poppy – they're all splendid dancers and know the traditional Pureblood dances as well as being able to teach me how to move my body so my movements look natural. I even learned some karate movements in the process!"
Hermione cracked a grin. It had been her idea for Harry to watch The Next Karate Kid as a teaching device.
Still sceptical, Draco asked for a demonstration. He may not be on the Dark Lord's side, but if he was going to 'fight' alongside … Potter, he was going to be damn sure the boy could dance.
An hour later, Draco was glued to his seat, eyes on his former nemesis, amazed at what the boy could do. Draco had no idea how the Dark Lord moved – he wasn't privy to the memories Hermione had placed in a Pensieve – but he had a feeling Harry would be hard to beat.
"At least something good came out of that Potions accident, I suppose," murmured Draco.
Neville, who had been sitting quietly, nodded. "Who'd have guessed that my nerves in Potions would lead to the undoing of V-Voldemort?"
Draco just shook his head.
"Where is that blasted woman?"
"I'm sure she had an emergency, Severus; besides the children are fine."
"Hmph. She shouldn't leave them unattended."
"They have charms on the bassinets, Severus. Poppy would be alerted if they needed anything."
As Minerva and Severus continued to argue, Poppy emerged from a private ward in the hospital wing, looking distinctly out of sorts. "Must the two of you snipe at each other? The children were perfectly fine."
"What was so important that you cast charms to alert you and then wandered off?"
"I always cast alerting charms on patients, Severus, no matter their age. If you must know, Rolanda and Pamona recently learned that during their trysts with the Headmaster, he was giving them his own special mixture of Polyjuice potion."
Severus paled. The Headmaster was a devious sort, decent enough at Potions, but to Severus' knowledge lacked the fine innate qualities that allowed a brewer to create their own potions. 'Who am I kidding?' thought Severus, 'I even view other Masters in that light.' "I shudder to ask, but what he was up to?"
"He polyjuiced them to look like Gellert Grindelwald, and a special charm kept them looking like themselves to everyone else; Albus never really got over his first love," Poppy sighed.
Minerva blushed at the revelation from the Mediwitch. It was no surprise that Albus was gay . . . the way he went on, and on about the dark wizard he had been forced to destroy, well, it didn't leave much to the imagination. "How exactly did this come to light, Poppy?"
"Well, they both took up with Filch . . ."
"Filch!" exclaimed Severus in horror.
"I thought you – oh, that's right, Hermione was still in your body when Draco had the misfortune of catching them in the act, as it were," recalled Poppy. "Yes, Filch. He's apparently quite, well, he'd give Hagrid a run for his money, if you catch my drift."
The red blush on Severus' face looked odd against his otherwise pale skin.
"Please get on with the story before Severus' face explodes," whispered Minerva, her hands over her face.
Poppy snickered. "Albus found out about the two hooking up with Filch after Draco asked to have his memory of their interaction obliviated. Albus was furious and, well, did a number of unspeakable things to Rolanda, far worse, I think, than your little bout of transfiguration, Minerva dear. While she was trapped in his private rooms, she happened to look into his Pensieve that had the memories … and of course since they were Albus' memories, she saw herself and Pamona turn into copies of Grindelwald . . . It all unravelled from there, and they've been coming to me for counselling."
Severus and Minerva weren't sure whether they should laugh or cry.
"Is there anyone on the teaching staff that isn't . . ."
"Perverse?" finished Severus.
"Well, up until last weekend I would have suggested Trelawney, but I overheard her talking about someone being 'hung like a centaur,' and frankly I don't know if she meant Filch, Hagrid, or if she really is getting to know the new Divinations professor a little more intimately than Albus had in mind."
Minerva's face was purple and Severus was actually bent over at this point, laughing so hard. As he put a hand on Minerva's back to steady himself, she began giggling and lost her balance, knocking Severus onto the ground.
Which is how Hermione and Harry found them.
"Are they alright, Madam Pomfrey?" asked Harry nervously. And no wonder, Dancing with the Dark Lord was set to premiere (and hopefully end) later that night.
Poppy smiled. "They're fine Harry. Laughter is good for the soul."
"If you say so, Madame," he replied, his brow furrowed nervously.
Hermione turned to Poppy, keeping an eye on her lover . . . lovers . . she hadn't decided yet on that. "We came to retrieve the babies, Poppy. We decided that they'd be safest in Severus' rooms due to the heavy charms and warding. In addition, if there is bloodshed tonight, we didn't want them in the way in the hospital wing."
"No problem, my dear. Let me take the monitoring charms off them so you can pick them up. Do let me know if you need anything. Is anyone going to be staying with them during the . . . dance?"
"Yes, Neville is planning to stay with the children. No matter how much coaching we gave him, he simply has two left feet, and doesn't want to be a risk during the events this evening."
With a few flicks of her wand, the spells were lifted, and Hermione and Harry gathered the children into their arms and headed back to the dungeons.
By this point, Severus and Minerva were laying on the floor, exhausted from laughing so hard, and trying to catch their breath. Poppy offered them each a Pepper-Up potion, and helped them to their feet.
"From what Harry says, it seems it is nearly time, you two. I suggest you get going to do whatever it is you need to do to dance with the enemy."
Severus and Minerva nodded; the tension that had been between them gone after their shared laughing fit. They found the friendship they had for each other was now restored; perhaps things would work out all right in the end. Out of everyone's relationships they had learned about so far, the two of them with Hermione really seemed the most normal.
It was several hours into the dance-off, and Harry was sweating. Not out of nerves, mind you; the Dark Lord only brushed over the more regal, stately dances, before moving into variations of the Scottish Country Dance which required fancy footwork and a great deal of physical fitness. 'Merlin bless Quidditch' thought Harry, 'I'd never be able to keep up, otherwise!'
The dances were progressive; after a repetition of the figure sequence, the paired couples would end up in a different place in the set. This allowed every couple to be the 'top couple,' leading the movements. Bellatrix and Lord Voldemort were perhaps the trickiest pair to follow. He was also glad that Minerva had taught him how to recognize certain types of dances that go through only once such as the Round Reel of Eight and the Bonnie Anne.
It was during the Nighean Donn that Harry truly began to shine. The Death Eaters, despite their Lord's coaching, had a difficult time dancing with non Death Eaters. This being a dance that required you to switch partners on every new turn of the dance, and Harry, with the glow of Fatherhood and his regular devil-may-care attitude, performed with ease. It soon became obvious to the Dark Lord that Harry was in fact, going to out dance him and his chums, and in a moment of rare insight, conceded to The Boy Who Danced.
"So, how does it feel to be the Boy Who Out Danced and Defeated the Dark Lord, Potter?"
"Back to Potter, then, are we Snape? Given that you've got a child with one of my best friends, I would think we could move beyond that."
"I . . . Fine. Harry. My question still stands."
"It's quite peculiar, really, Severus," Harry mused. "I've been conditioned all my life by that bloody prophecy that one of us had to die for this whole mess to be over. Never in a million years did I imagine Riddle would have a dance-off, and then voluntarily imprison any Death Eater who refused to be redeemed in Wizarding Society."
"I must agree, it is all rather odd. I really cannot imagine what lead to this change of, dare I say, heart, in the Dark Lord." Severus shrugged, carefully repositioning his daughter in his arms. "This year has been full of peculiarities. I must remember to thank Neville one of these days."
Harry cracked a grin. "What did the three of you decide to do?"
Severus paused. "Hermione loves us both. I don't quite understand it; no one ever loved me, and Minerva is so much kinder than I am. Well, except when she gets her knickers in a twist and starts hexing first and asking questions later . . . but Hermione wanted us both, so we came to an amicable agreement." He tickled his daughter, eliciting a sweet babyish giggle. "I am. . . happy, it would seem," a small smile decorated his face for a moment before he pulled his lips into their usual straight line."
Harry nodded, and then ducked, suddenly, as a stream of owls flew into the room, garishly wrapped boxes clutched in the talons. The rest of their odd group followed the owls into the room.
"What is the meaning of this?"
"I'm sorry Severus," Hermione said, "they showed up in the Great Hall during breakfast and refused to release their packages. We followed them down here."
With the door now firmly shut, the magnificent owls set their packages down and took off again, obviously not in need of a response.
Cautiously, Ron approached the packages, and with recently found confidence, checked the packages quite thoroughly for Dark magic.
"They seem to be safe," he murmured as he checked the last one. "Let's see what's inside."
There was a package for each new child, and the respective parents gingerly opened the gifts, still worried that something less than enchanting would be inside.
They looked in the boxes and each other in amusement. It was Harry, of course, from his frightening experience in second year, whom identified the material the tiny shoes were created from – "They're Basilisk skin dancing shoes," he giggled, his grin growing wider yet as he plucked a silver and green baby rattle from beneath the shoes.
He gave it a shake. There was no doubt about it. Lord Voldemort was the culprit, for the rattle shook merrily to the strains of Riverdance.
Author's Note 1: Yes, it's really, truly the end. We hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as we've enjoyed writing it. MysticSong has received a LOT of alerts for people who have added this story to their favourites, so we really hope to see a lot of reviews for this chapter. It would really make our day.
Author's Note 2: For all our faithful followers who are of-age, you can find the non-cut version on our website's fan fiction archives. Check out the homepage link in Mystic's profile and head into the archives from there.
Author's Note 3 (Dec 16, 2007): After this chapter was posted, several folks on various sites the story is on asked, "But what happened to Voldie?" Some people offered suggestions of what happened to him. So of course, I created artwork.
Author's Note 4 (July 24, 2011): I just realized that the artwork links for this story are no longer valid. No one ever mentioned it in reviews, so oops! Someone pointed out an important typo in chapter 20, and when I went to fix it, noticed the artwork link was to a dead site. You can view all 3 pieces of artwork for this story at this site (be sure to take all the spaces out, or the URL won't work!):
http: / s291 . photobucket . com / albums / ll307 / mystic-song /FanFictionArt / Mine /
Also, we've had several reviewers here and on other sites we've posted Duck Duck Goose ask if we'd ever consider writing a sequel. I tossed the idea out to Slave4Severus and we've taken it under consideration. We're not making any promises. We don't live in the same town any more, so getting together is far difficult; our work schedules even make on-line communication times hard to manage. But we are thinking about it. And if nothing else, perhaps I will eventually convince her to finish her one Severus/OC story that so many of you also loved.