Chapter Thirteen: Hallow's Eve
-- "This isn't a criticism, Harry! But you do ... sort of ... I mean -- don't you think you've got a bit of a -- a -- saving people thing?" Hermione, OotP
Halloween came far too quickly in Harry's opinion. Hermione hadn't yet had another vision, and Draco was starting to relax and truly fit in with the group. Harry had been on the lookout for any odd behavior from Quirrel, but since the match there had been nothing. He'd also been watching the Prophet, and there'd still been no attempts to steal the Stone. That could mean only one thing: it was at Hogwarts already, and his earlier theory was probably correct.
The fact that he'd heard nothing of the troll wasn't comforting at all; it didn't mean that Quirrel wouldn't use it, just that he was good at hiding what he was up to. Seeing as Harry had no clue how he'd managed to get the troll in the first time, he had no idea if it was already here or not.
The only thing he could do, he reflected, was to make sure he was with Hermione at all times on Halloween. He was not going to risk losing her, not now.
October 31st dawned like every other day. The sun rose in the east, the moon sunk below the horizon, the bell rang for breakfast, and classes began. Only Harry knew what was different, other than the festive decorations. No one else knew that a student might die tonight.
The day passed quickly. Harry made sure that Hermione was in his sight at all times, and nothing odd had happened yet. But when they reached the Great Hall for the feast and Harry saw that Quirrel wasn't there, he felt his stomach drop. Oh, no.
Sure enough, right in the middle of Dumbledore's speech Quirrel came rushing in. But then everything changed. "Lethifolds! Lethifolds, in the dungeon!" There was silence. "Just thought you ought to know." Quirrel collapsed, and the Great Hall dissolved into chaos.
Harry swore under his breath and made his way out of the Great Hall with the orther students, just thankful that Hermione was with him. This time, he would let the professors take care of it.
That idea was cut short as Hermione grabbed his arm and stopped him. "Hermione, come on, they're sending everyone back to the Common Room—"
She cut him off, her eyes wide. "But Harry, Mandy's in the dungeons! She forgot her bag after Potions, and she was going back to get it!"
Harry stared. "Shit," he said calmly. He shook his head. "Alright, I'll go, you—"
"I'm coming with you," Hermione said, interrupting him again. Her tone brooked no argument.
"Hermione, Lethifolds are dangerous. The only way to get rid of them is the—"
"Patronus Charm, I know. I have read 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them', Harry. Besides, I think casting a Patronus would be decidedly easier when there aren't Dementors to remind you of unhappy memories, don't you?"
Harry sighed. There was no way to convince her not to do something when she argued like that. Truthfully, he thought it was a great trait—except when she could get herself killed. "Alright. We'll go together, but if anything happens I want you to run, alright?"
She raised an eyebrow. "If anything happens, we grab Mandy, Levitate her if necessary, and we all run."
He rolled his eyes. "Fine. Alright, let's go." It was a testament to the panic filling the school that no one noticed them leave.
They snuck down to the dungeons in silence. Harry felt a cold spot in his stomach growing bigger and bigger as they drew closer to the door to the dungeons. He gestured to Hermione to come closer and gestured to the door, making an opening motion with his hands. She nodded. He held out one finger, then two, then three, and they shoved the door open.
Harry's eyes widened at the sight before them. The dungeon corridors were swarming with Lethifolds. Wedged into a corner, Harry could just make out the shape of Mandy, batting at several Lethifolds and trying to keep them away from her. "Hermione, there!" Herry called, pointing as he drew his wand. He concentrated on the feeling of being told he could go back to save Sirius and Hermione. "Expecto Patronum!"
A bright white Grim burst out of his wand and began to chase down Lethifolds. "Hermione, come on!" he called.
"Expecto Patronum," she said clearly, confidently. A silvery wolf slithered out of her wand. Harry barely had time to think about the change in shape of her Patronus (maybe it was for the same reason his had changed?) before the battle was on.
Guiding their Patroni, they somehow managed to herd the Lethifolds into a corner. Carefully keeping her wand, and therefore her Patronus, trained on the creatures, Hermione edged her way over to Mandy. Keepin gan eye on the Lethifolds, she nudged the other Ravenclaw in the arm.
"Mandy?" There was a small whimper. "Mandy, Harry and I have them trapped in the corner." A louder whimper. "Mandy, for Merlin's sake snap out of it!"
The other girl lifted her head slowly. "Hermione?" The brunette nodded, and Mandy hugged her tightly. "Oh Merlin Hermione, I thought I was going to die…"
Hermione patted her on the back with her free hand. "It's alright now, Mandy, but c'mon—we've got to get out of here. Harry and I have them taken care of, but I don't know for how long." Sure enough, the Patroni were already having to move faster to keep the creatures disabled.
"Okay, Hermione, Mandy," Harry said calmly. Both of you stand up, slowly," They did. "No sudden movements, or they might act up. Let's back towards the door, slowly again, mind you, on my count. One, two, three."
As one, the three of them moved towards the door to the dungeons, Harry and Hermione keeping their Patroni in place. Mandy got to the door first, and grabbed the handle. Harry grabbed Hermione's arm and they paused. "Alright. Mandy, as soon as Hermione and I are through, I want you to shut the door. Hermione, you and I are going to hold the Patroni for as long as possible, alright?"
Hermione nodded, but Harry was worried. The wolf was flickering slightly, which meant she was having trouoble holding it. He didn't blame her; even with her magic reserves and how powerful she was, she'd never attempted the spell before, and it would surely be taking a lot out of her.
"Hermione, you ready?" She nodded again, determined. "Then let's go!"
Several things happened in quick succesion. They both leapt backwards at the same time, and Mandy moved to shut the door as quickly as she could. Both of their Patroni failed, vanishing into silvery-white sparks, and the Lethifolds made a break for the door, but only managed to ram into it as Mandy finished shutting it and dropped the wooden bar.
"What on earth is going on!" came a screeching Scottish voice. The three of them winced and turned to see Professors McGonagall, Quirrel, and Snape standing behind them.
"Er…" Harry said slowly. Fortunately, Mandy began to speak.
"I-I came down here before the feast because I'd left my bag, but there were all of these creatures… I didn't know what to do, so I got in a corner and I was fighting them off as best as I could when Harry and Hermione came in. They saved my life, Professor McGonagall."
"Is this true, Black? Granger?" They nodded.
"Mandy told me she was going to get her bag, ma'am, so I got Harry to come with me to find her. We managed to grab her and pull her out without getting hurt."
"A spot of blind luck, Miss Granger," Snape said silkily. "Ten points from Ravenclaw each." He swept off, and Harry noticed he was limping. Good; Harry didn't think he had the energy to deal with Quirrel trying to steal the Stone right now. His stores were still recovering, and the prolonged Patronus had taken rather a lot out of him as well.
McGonagall sighed. "Go back to your Common Room," she said quietly. The three of them turned and began to walk down the hallway. "Oh, Black and Granger?" They turned. "Ten points to Ravenclaw each. It's nice to see some of my House's traits in other students." Without another word she turned and made her way towards the Headmaster's office, and Harry, Mandy, and Hermione moved towards the Ravenclaw Common Room.
Halloween was over, and Hermione was fine. Harry allowed himself a sigh of relief.
At 11:47 PM, All Hallow's Eve, Rowena Alyssa Delaney-Black was born to Sirius Black and Josephine Delaney-Black at the Maternity Ward of St. Mungos. She had a curly mass of black hair on her head and ice-blue eyes, both of which belonged to her father.
"It's fitting, isn't it?" Sirius whispered, watching his daughter sleep in her mother's arms. "That one of the best things to happen to us happens on the anniversary of one of the worst."
Josie smiled tiredly and grasped his hand. "It is. James and Lily would be glad, for a way to look past it all."
Sirius smiled back and stroked her hair out of her face. "You're gorgeous," he whispered. "Effulgent." She blushed, and there was comfortable silence for another few minutes before a nurse entered.
"Mr. and Mrs. Black?" the woman asked. "There's a Remus Lupin, an Amelia Bones, and a Nymohadora Tonks here to see you. May I let them in?"
Sirius looked to his wife, who nodded. "Sure, but tell them to please be quiet. The baby's asleep." The nurse nodded and left, and a few moments later Tonks, Remus, and Amelia came in.
Josie smiled at them. "Meet Rowena Alyssa Delaney-Black," she said quietly. "Remus, we're unfortunately not legally able to make you Godfather, but you are in every way but paper, alright?"
Remus' eyes widened and he nodded. "I'm honored." Sirius could understand; he'd been shocked when Lily and James had asked him as well. Being a godparent was huge in the Wizarding World; a godparent had nearly as many rights to the child as the parent did, so they were carefully picked.
"Amelia and dear Nymphadora," he said. His niece-of-sorts scowled at him. "It's been a tough contest for who will be Godmother, but eventually we decided on Amelia, because since you and Remus are together, it would be more likely that custody wouldn't have to go to just one of you. Tonks, we are naming yoou next in line if anythign happens to all of us."
Remus wrapped his arm around Amelia, and Tonks made a step forward. "Thanks," she said quietly. "She's beautiful. Are Harry and Hermione going to come up to see her?"
Josie nodded. "We've written Dumbledore, asking for them, and Draco if he wants to come, to be let out of school on the third." Tonks nodded, and the next hour was spent in quiet conversation before Tonks, Remus, and Amelia left to go stay at the house and Sirius fell asleep in the armchair next to the bed.
On November 1st, a tawny owl flew down to where the group was sitting at breakfast. "Who's it for?" Fred asked.
Harry looked at the letter. "Me, Hermione, and Draco," he said, a sense of unease growing in his stomach. There was only one thing that could connect the three of them through a letter in the Headmaster's writing, and that was Sirius, Josie, and the gang.
He and Hermione shared an uncertain look and Draco frowned. Please let them all be alright, he thought quickly before opening the envelope. He read through it twice in quick succession, and a wide smile broke out on his face.
"Mr. Black, Mr. Malfoy, and Miss Granger," he read aloud. "On November 3rd you are permitted to miss classes and Floo to visit Mr. Sirius Black, Mrs. Josephine Delaney-Black, and newborn Rowena Alyssa Delaney-Black. If you are interested, report to the Headmaster's Office at 9 o'clock AM on the 3rd."
He looked up to Hermione and Draco, beaming. "I have a little sister." Nothing could ruin that moment, and he felt as though he could hold off every Dementor there was.
Draco awoke at six thirty on the 3rd and sat in the Gryffindor Common Room for about an hour, just thinking.
He wondered if it was Sirius and Josephine's idea to invite him, or if the Headmaster had insisted upon it. Somehow, he thought the first, which made him feel unusually happy. He had been confused, at first, that Hermione was going too, but then he remembered Harry mentioning when he'd introduced them for real that Hermione lived across the street from them and practically lived at the house; she even had a room of her own there.
Thinking of Hermione made him think of the other morning at breakfast. He had been horrified when she'd collapsed, and he and Harry were permitted to go with her to the Hospital Wing… now that he thought about it, it was probably because of the fact thaat they would all be living in the same house over the winter and summer breaks (winter at the least for Hermione, as her parents would apparently be on a business trip).
He'd never seen the house before. He wondered what it would be like. It had to be large, because Harry had said they had more than enough bedrooms for all of them, even with the newborn. Would it be cold and impersonal, like Malfoy Manor had been, or would it be something else entirely?
He looked up at the clock and was startled to find that it was already seven thirty; he had half an hour to get breakfast and get to the Headmaster's office. Picking up the cloak he had thrown haphazardly ont eh chair next to him, he made his way down to the Great Hall. It would appear that Harry and Hermione had already gone and went, because they weren't there when he arrived. He quickly ate a bit of eggs and toast and hurried out of the Great Hall towards Dumbledore's office (insturctions and the password, Cockroach Clusters, had been included in the note).
In the hallway outside of the office, he caught Hermione and Harry about to go in. They turned at the sound of his footsteps, and both smiled when they saw it was him. He marveled for a moment; just a month before, they would have ignored his presence. "Hello, Draco, " Harry said. "We were about to go up to the office. You coming?"
Draco gave a hesitant smile and nodded. "If you don't mind."
Hermione looked surprised. "Why would we mind? Cockroach Clusters." The last two words were directed to a gargoyle, which jumped aside to reveal a moving staircase.The three made their way up and knocked on the office door.
"Come in!" came a jolly voice. Harry snorted, but opened the door. They filed in to see Dumbledore sitting behind his desk, smiling benignly. "Ah, Mr. Black, Mr. Malfoy, Miss Granger. The fireplace is there. I presume you all know how to use Floo Powder?" Draco nodded, as did Harry and Hermione. "Right then. For Mr. Malfoy, the adress is 'Fuzzy Wuzzy's Place'."
Draco made a slight choking sound and turned to look at Harry and Hermione, who were both giggling. Harry explained, "Sirius' Great-Uncle Alphard, who used to own the house, had a really, really weird sense of humour. By the way, unless you like the scent of burnt turkey, I'd suggest not using the bathroom in the basement."
He raised an eyebrow, and Hermione snickered before throwing some powder on the fire, stepping into the fireplace, and calling out "Fuzzy Wuzzy's Place!"
Hermione tumbled out of the fireplace and managed to bump into Remus. "Oof," she said. He laughed and helped her to her feet, bringing her into a hug.
"Good to see you, Hermione."
She smiled at him and was about to say it was good to see him, too, when Harry flew out of the fireplace and landed on his rear end. "I hate Flooing," he muttered. Hermione laughed and offered him her hand, which he took and stood. "Moony, Amelia! Hello! Where are Dad and Mum?"
Harry had taken to calling Sirius and Josie that about a year after they adopted him. They had made it clear that while they were in no way trying to replace Lily and James, they loved him like a son—and on his side of things, they were the only parents he had ever known, and he loved them as such.
Remus was cut off from answering when Draco stepped through the fireplace perfectly neatly. Harry and Hermione both scowled at him. "I don't see how you can do that so gracefully," Harry muttered, and Draco gave him a hesitant smile, which he returned.
"Sirius and Josie are upstairs," Amelia informed them. "Tonks is with them, and so is Rowena. They're in the Master Bedroom."
Harry grinned. "C'mon!" He took off up the stairs, followed closely by Hermione. Draco went after them, trying to concentrate on keeping up with them and not be distracted by the house. It truly was amazing, better than he could ever have imagined. There were shelves on the walls filled with books and random knicknacks, several of which lay in dusty broken pieces.
It was the exact opposite of Malfoy Manor, and it was brilliant.
They reached the top of the staircase and Harry and Hermione turned right, knocking on the second door on the left. "Come in," a voice called, and Harry opened the door. The sight inside gave Draco a funny tingling feeling in his chest, and with some surprise he recognized it as elation.
Josephine was sitting up in the bed. Tonks was sitting on the end of it, smiling at the three of them. Sirius was in the chair next to the bed, cradling a baby in his arms. When the door opened, Sirius stood up, ahuge grin on his face. "This, Harry, Hermione, and Draco, is Rowena Black.'
And if anyone else had walked into the room then, they would have been able to physically feel the joy and love emanating from it.
AN: Okay, a couple of quick things:
I had someone question me on Mabriel's name; all will be revealed in later chapters, I swear. Really. Yes, her house is French, and yes, there's a reason for that. Also, no, we haven't heard her prophecy yet, though it has been mentioned before, if you look back.
I was asked what, in a previous chapter, HVSC stood for—it's an abbreviation for my completed long fic, "Hero, Villain, Saviour, Conqueror". SRFW stands for the sequel, "Subject, Ruler, Finder, Wanderer" (which I really, really need to update. Heh. Hehe. Oops?)
Several plotline questions that I want to hear review response on but have almost definite ideas for anyway:
--Should I include Mark Evans? (I know JK said he wasn't anyone important, yes.)
--When should Remus propose to Amelia?
--Should I have Charlie and Tonks meet again when the Order starts, or should something bring them back together sooner?
--When should Snape and Herry develop a tentative and unwanted (on Snape's side, at least) friendship?
So, tell me what you think! Oh, and:
--What house should Ginny be in? (Luna's staying a Ravenclaw.)
Once again, I'll have to go back and edit this later; I barely had the time to finish it.