It's that time again. That time when Jade and Teresa decide to watch all three HP movies in a row and then halfway through, Jade is determined to write a humorous little ditty about those characters we all love so. (And also where Jade and Teresa think that Draco's walk-up-check-Harry-out walk right before the hippogriff scene is hilarious.) So…sit back, and have a few laughs, they're on me!

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.

Warnings: Secrets, snogging, secret balls, and…secret snogging at the ball? And don't worry, no first years nor Hufflepuffs were harmed in the writing of this fanfic!

Invitation Only

The students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a whole were a strange bunch, with mixed reactions to events that had come to pass in their lifetime. The current students were still slightly reeling from the final battle, which had taken place in the middle of sixth year, not, as some had supposed, during the seventh year. (The only reason was that certain students didn't think even Voldemort would interrupt preparations for N.E.W.T.s. The intense strain that most of the students were under because of it would have likely caused them to snap and kill whoever interrupted study time.)

The whole student body and the rest of the Wizarding World took a huge sigh of relief, kicked up their feet, and toasted the Boy-Who-Is-Given-Titles-That-Are-Rather-Self-Explanatory. Well, they did until seventh year started and the N.E.W.T.s really werearound the corner.

But not the Slytherins. Oh, good god, no. The Slytherins were swept up in a competitive race for something much more precious than the prestige a bunch of tests could give them. A tradition that had to be upheld, a tradition so old that no one knew when it had first begun.

And all the Slytherins knew about it. If you were born in a family who had all been in Slytherin since the beginning of the school itself, you had heard about this tradition from other members of your family. If you were put into Slytherin without being bred into it, you quickly found out about it. It was written on some big invisible testament somewhere that described the ye olde rules of Slytherin. Things like, 'Gryffindor sucks!' and 'We don't wear discount clothing' are written there. Along with this one tradition.

One might argue that it wasn't a Slytherin tradition, it was a Malfoy tradition.

But the two things are practically the same thing by now. Salazar Slytherin probably taught Trip Jinxes to a Malfoy to get the stupid Gryffindors with. At the present time, it was Severus Snape who was head of Slytherin House. And also, he didn't teach them Trip Jinxes, because he expected them to already know them, he just taught Potions. And right then, it wasn't just any Malfoy in his class, it was Draco Malfoy.

"I still can't believe Potter and Mudblood Granger got in our class." Pansy frowned with pursed lips at the duo who were working in the corner. She had been paired up with Draco for that lesson, or rather, he had selected her for his partner. She was the best witch when it came to Potions. Well, after Hermione Granger, which was no end of annoying to her.

"You've been saying that since sixth year." Draco pointed out, even though he had been ten seconds from saying the same thing as Pansy himself. "Although I still can't believe it either."

"It's because of Dumbledore." Pansy decided for the millionth time.

"It's because he's their precious little hero of the Wizarding World." Draco added on for good measure. He found that he was usually preaching to the choir when it came to this particular topic. "Now, Pansy, after we add the lionfish, I need to discuss the…Leaving Ball."

Pansy brightened considerably. She and Draco were both prefects after all. They knew the most about organization. She could usually keep the Slytherin girls in check. If Draco was going to pick anyone to assist him in the ball, it would have to be her. Nott had brains as well, but he hated social events with a passion. Zabini just wasn't cut out for the job. And as for Goyle and Crabbe…well, they were never accused of being the brightest flowers in the field.

Not to mention that Draco will need a date for the Leaving Ball…he wouldn't dare go without one. It's his big night.

Ever since the Yule Ball in their fourth year, Pansy had harbored something like a crush on Draco. He was extraordinarily pretty for a boy and super rich. But mostly she liked the way that if he needed someone as an assistant, he came to her first. It was like he completely trusted her to do everything. She tried not to look overly pleased as she added the dried lionfish into the potion.

The Leaving Ball was the great kept secret of Slytherin House. Ever since the first Malfoy had gone to Hogwarts, for their seventh year, at the end of the year, they would throw a huge ball in the Room of Requirement, so that the noise didn't cause the whole castle to wake up. It was the grand tradition of Malfoy. Draco seemed to be keeping it on the down low, but Pansy had a sneaking suspicion it was because he was trying to make the Slytherins nervous as a whole. You could only go if you were handed an invitation by a Malfoy. It was traditionally held the day after the N.E.W.T.s were over.

"So, what do we need to discuss?" Pansy took out a piece of parchment and a quill, knowing that Snape wouldn't ask them to explain what they were doing. Blatant favoritism was a great thing. "Of course, we have to make up invitations for everyone you're planning to invite, we have to decide on what food will be there. Oh! And drinks. And music. Hmm…this is going to be a lot of work." She looked up at Draco who had a pleased, arrogant expression on his face, as always. He was holding all the cards. All the Slytherins had been looking forward to this for as long as they realized that they would be graduating with a Malfoy.

"First off, I want to do something brilliant this year." Draco decided, straightening his robes. "I'm open to suggestions." He was feeling generous today.

"Well…" Pansy thought for a moment, tapping the quill against her chin.

"Something that will really get people talking." Draco went on, trying to narrow down what he was looking for. "Something…that will make everyone want to come. And I mean everyone. If we…" He trailed off and Pansy had the sudden idea that Draco knew exactly what he wanted to do already but for some reason wanted her to suggest it.

"What do you mean 'everyone'?" Pansy quirked an eyebrow. "Do you mean…"

"You know…everyone." Draco looked to the side and Pansy's brow furrowed in thought. "As in…everyone in the castle…but not the teachers…"

"Do you mean…tell everyone about the Leaving Ball?" Pansy's jaw dropped open. Non-Slytherins weren't allowed to know about the grand secret traditions of Slytherin! Slytherins endured seven years of bad reputations and general animosity from the other houses to have all the fun that they did!

"Why Pansy!" Draco blinked his large blue-grey eyes in an overly innocent and ignorant way. "That is an idea!"

"Okay, what's going on?" Pansy was rather used to Malfoy's dramatics by now and could usually be a good enough sport to play along on most occasions but the idea that non-Slytherins got to know about the Leaving Ball had shocked her senses.

"What?" Draco looked around wildly. "You're the one who suggested it."

"As a fellow Slytherin, I have to say that you're strategy and tactics were rather good." Pansy patted him on the shoulder with an encouraging look. Then her face soured. "But I'm not a second year Hufflepuff. You can't get me with that one."

"Fine." Draco snapped. "We need to tell the whole school. And by that, I mean all the students."

"But it's supposed to be secret!" Pansy stamped her foot and then realized she was being a bit loud because Hermione Granger and Harry Potter both looked over at them. She lowered her voice. "Why?"

"So that way everyone is jealous of us." Draco told her as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. "And that way, we'll have all the other houses waiting on us hand and foot for an invitation."

"Ooooh." Pansy caught on. She could understand this line of thinking. Somehow though, she almost felt like Draco had an ulterior motive even beyond that and was distracting her with an ulterior motive that she would easily understand. She dismissed that. "Well then. How will we get it out?"

"I've already got that bit figured out." Draco looked especially pleased with himself. "Just you wait."

"I don't know what to wear!" Lavender Brown could be heard squealing to Parvati Patil. "I mean, if we're invited, of course."

"Yes, but Zabini told us personally so maybe!" Parvati nodded fervently. "Omigod, I would just die if I didn't get to go!"

"What are you two going on about?" Hermione Granger sat down next to them at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall. Ron Weasley sat down next to her and Harry Potter sat down across from her. Ron immediately went straight to eating but Harry looked mildly interested too.

"You haven't heard?" Lavender asked incredulously.

"About the Slytherin's Leaving Ball?" Parvati added on.

"Um…no." Hermione answered slowly, looking at them sideways. "What Leaving Ball?"

"Well," Parvati straightened up so she could tell the story the way she had several times already that day. A joke often told about Brown and Patil behind their backs was that it was absolutely no good telling them anything you didn't want everyone else to know. "Blaise Zabini, you know, the kind of short dark haired boy from Slytherin?" Harry and Hermione nodded. Ron continued eating. "He told me and Lavender that for his last year, Malfoy's throwing this ball for a select group of people. You have to get an invitation and the invitation has to be given to you by Malfoy himself. Everyone wants to go!"

"It's going to be so much fun!" Lavender declared.

"Why do you guys want to go?" Hermione looked confused. "Isn't that a Slytherin thing? Don't they hate us?"

"Well, I don't know." Parvati shrugged. "I always kind of thought that they didn't like you three, not really the rest of us. Besides, if Zabini told us, we must be going."

"Wow, thanks Parvati." Harry rolled his eyes at the two girls.

"Oh! There's Michael Corner, we have to tell him." Lavender spotted a boy across the Great Hall. Her and Parvati jumped up and went to go spread the word.

"Those two are completely mental." Ron told Harry and Hermione. "Why would anyone want to go to a party that Malfoy is throwing?"

"If I know the Slytherins, I'm willing to bet it's some kind of joke." Hermione unfolded a napkin in her lap. "Or else they told us all because they think we'll get jealous of some stupid party they're throwing. I don't know how they can think of anything other than N.E.W.T.s myself."

"Malfoy's always been like this." Harry poured himself a glass of pumpkin juice. "He probably thinks we'll come begging for invitations. What an idiot. Like I want to go to some stupid party with a bunch of Slytherins for the end of the year."

"Yeah, really." Ron agreed as he watched the other students buzz about, talking about the exact same thing they were. "Although it does seem like everyone else is getting excited." There was so much excited whispering going on now that Harry wondered if everyone else had gone insane and decided to try and get an invitation. Harry glanced over at the Slytherin table. Draco was sitting on one side of it, talking to Pansy Parkinson, who seemed to be taking a great deal of notes, but you couldn't reach either of them through the thick wall that was Crabbe and Goyle standing on either side of them. Blaise Zabini was acting as receptionist and currying messages from all the people who suddenly just had to have invitations to a ball that wouldn't be for another two months. The other older Slytherins were trying not to look like they were trying to eavesdrop on Draco and Pansy's conversation, except for Theodore Nott who looked incredibly bored as he ate and was staring up at the ceiling as though cursing its existence.

Draco looked up and caught Harry's eye. Harry blinked in surprise, not knowing whether he should look away or not. A smirk spread over Draco's lips and Harry decided now was definitely the time to stop looking at the Slytherin seventh year.

"Hopefully someone will turn them in." Hermione opened a book to a certain page and propped it up against a fruit bowl. "Then the whole lot of them will get in trouble."

Harry wondered if the student body really would betray the secret…

Ah yes, everything is going according to plan.

Villains often mutter this sentiment when the whole world seems to be bowing to their superiority and fate has favored them greatly. They say this while overlooking their vast hordes of doom robots after just capturing their adversary and locking him in a dungeon. But this was a silly thing to do. Oh yes, for often, it jinxed things. For example, a certain dark wizard (who shall remain nameless for reasons of privacy) might have uttered this same sentiment upon arrival at a house where two of his enemies were hiding out with their barely one year old baby. Take it from him, things can really fall apart on you when you least expect it.

Draco Malfoy was thinking this as he put on his pajamas two weeks after he had released his plan into the school. Now people were practically queuing up for an invitation. He had already made three invitations and hand delivered two of them. One for himself (because of the special charm you had to put on the Room of Requirement so that only those with an invitation that was given to you by a Malfoy could get in, otherwise it would have been like locking himself out of his own house) and one to Pansy, who was being such a good sport so far. The other one, well, it hadn't been delivered. Not yet.

He had been devising this plan for a very long time. Phase One had been Tell The Whole School About An Exclusive Party. Phase Two would be a bit trickier. He would go to sleep and in the morning, he would be able to, quite naturally, get Phase Two into motion. He had already picked out his cologne for tomorrow (Pansy had helped, with occasional compliments from Blaise and occasional insults from Theodore.) and spent an hour deciding exactly how loose to wear his tie. He would have to make up another invitation as well. Everything had to be perfect for this.

All I really need is the old Malfoy charm…

He already had plenty of that.

Ginny Weasley got out of the Common Room, stretching her hands above her head and yawning. She couldn't wait until summer vacation. Not only did it mean that her twin older brothers Fred and George would make a fake I.D. for her to get her into wizarding clubs and let her stay out till all hours of the night when she visited them, but it also meant she could sleep in as damn late as she wanted to.

It was a fairly normal morning. Or well, it was until Blaise Zabini stopped her in the hall. She was used to boys stopping her and wanting to say things in private. She hadn't really expected Blaise to confess feelings for her since he hadn't really shown any signs of it beforehand, but hell, if he wanted to, why not? As soon as she rejected him, she could go down to breakfast.

"It's not me that wants to talk to you." Blaise explained as he led her towards an empty classroom. "I was just kind of sent as the messenger."

"Great." Ginny rolled her eyes. She had very little respect for boys who needed their friends to act as messenger services. "Let's just get this over with." They stopped outside a classroom, Blaise carefully knocked three times, and then the door opened. Blaise didn't go inside, but merely gestured for the redheaded Gryffindor to go ahead of him.

Now, Ginny wasn't an idiot. Her hand was at the ready in case she needed to yank out her wand and curse everything that moved. After all, Slytherins couldn't really be trusted. The door shut behind her. She was alone.

Or was she?

She sensed movement to her left and turned, only to see Draco Malfoy positively strutting towards her. He wasn't wearing his black robes over his uniform as he was supposed to, his tie was undone a bit and his sleeves were rolled up. An expensive cologne wafted past her nose.


Something really strange had to be going on. As pretty as Draco Malfoy was and as much as Ginny had decided she wouldn't mind a secret snog with him in an empty classroom sometime, this really wasn't what she was expecting.

"Good morning Miss Weasley." Draco leaned a hand against the door behind her, so that their faces were only six inches away from each other. His voice was low and Ginny found herself a bit breathless.

"Good morning." She repeated his words. Something wasn't quite right…what was it?

"It's come to my attention that you, Miss Ginny Weasley, are a very good looking redhead." Draco drawled. "Not only that, but you possess a cunning and intellect I would have thought beyond any Gryffindor. What I mean to say is…I think of you as…" He leaned in even closer to whisper. "Something like a Slytherin."

Ginny was still utterly confused. Draco smirked a little.

"As a woman, you naturally want me to snog you." Draco let his other hand get hold of a lock of shining red hair.

"Oh, how did you know?" Ginny lowered her eyelids, seeming almost demure for the moment. Her hand slid up his arm so that her hand was on his shoulder. She looked straight up into his eyes and leaned forward a little.

"Petrificus Totalus." She murmured and Draco went completely rigid, crashing to the ground. Her wand had gone up the second he began leaning towards her. Once again, she wasn't stupid. She giggled at the sight of Draco, frozen stiff in an expression of surprise. "As fun as that might have been, I have a feeling that you want something from me. And it isn't physical." She put her hands on her hips before sighing and uttering the counter-jinx.

Draco sat up, looking extremely annoyed. Ginny sat down a few feet away from him on the ground.

"I don't understand." Draco shook his head. "My tie was just right and everything…"

"What were you going to do? Seduce me and then get me to do whatever it is you want me to do?" Ginny shook her head a little. "I thought you Slytherins were a little more creative than that. You can organize mass sing a longs but you can't come up with a plan that isn't completely transparent?"

"Alright. I thought it would work." Draco was definitely irritable right then. He had supposed that any woman, even a Gryffindor woman, would drop all loyalties at the moment he offered himself to them, but he should have known that Ginny Weasley would be a bit harder than that.

"Why don't you just tell me what you want? And if it's anything that hurts my brother than you can just forget it right now." Ginny stuck her chin out a little.

"I need you to help me gather information and I need someone on the inside." Draco pulled something white out of his pocket. "It's not really to harm anyone…I just want to invite someone to the Leaving Ball as my date that might…er…be tricky to ask without you're help."

"Really? Who?" Ginny looked interested.

"I'll discus that in further detail when the time comes." Draco held out a beautiful green and white invitation that had been hand written out (because of the spell on them, it had to be) quite painstakingly. Beautiful letters that would have made any calligraphy teacher proud said quite plainly that Ginny Weasley was invited to go to the Slytherin's Leaving Ball, asking her to R.S.V.P., and mentioning the date and time. "If you choose to accept, you can have this invitation."

"That's not…" Ginny read the handwriting carefully. "An invitation?" She practically squeaked. She had heard about the Leaving Ball two weeks ago and had wondered what it would be like to get to go. She imagined the only reason that the thing had been leaked out at all was to invite people who weren't in Slytherin and if Draco wanted to invite someone in Gryffindor specifically to be his date, she could see her way to helping. "Alright then. I accept."

Her fingers curled around the precious invitation.

"Also, if there's anything else I can help you with…" Draco gestured around. "Anything at all, just ask."

"I do need new dress robes." Ginny rubbed her chin, a grin spreading across her face. "And new shoes. And I'll want to get my hair done that day and a manicure and a pedicure and—"

"Oh alright." Draco narrowed his eyes at her. "I'm surprised you weren't put in Slytherin with that attitude." Ginny just continued to grin and Draco found himself smirking in a rather friendly way back at her. Just because she was a Weasley, didn't mean she was useless and stupid.

"So what do you need me to do?" Ginny inquired. It was time to let Ginny in on the plan. Or at least, part of it.

Phase Two: Get Ginny Weasley As An Accomplice is complete. Now for Phase Three.

Now, if Ginny had done her job correctly, and Draco was confident she had, Susan Bones was going to give him the signal any second now. He glanced over at the Hufflepuff who looked up at him and gave him a thumbs up. He supposed the invitation Ginny had promised he'd hand deliver after dinner had something to do with it. Paying people off was almost too easy.

"Now pair off and get to work." Snape had finished his instructions for the potion they were to make that day. Hermione and Harry were about to join up but then, Susan Bones interrupted them.

"Oh, Hermione, would you help me today?" Susan asked, looking worried. "You're the best in the class and today's potion looks really difficult."

"Well, okay." Hermione went pink at being told she was the best in the class. Draco could have kissed Susan right then. If she wasn't a lowly Hufflepuff of course.

"Potter? Do you have a partner?" Snape immediately zoned in on his least favorite student, who was standing by his cauldron, looking around for a partner.

"He does." Draco sat down next to Harry's cauldron on a stool. "I'm his partner." Snape raised an eyebrow at the blonde haired boy but then shrugged, deciding it was probably something to do with their ongoing rivalry. Harry looked a bit bewildered by this. Hermione was glancing over suspiciously but she didn't suspect Susan Bones was part of it. Draco thought it was probably because Hufflepuffs were never apart of anything.

Harry glanced over at Draco, who was busying himself with the ingredients. He supposed he should be helping but for some reason he didn't join in right away. Draco's tie was a bit undone and for some reason, that and the expensive cologne that was one of the few good smells in the Potions dungeon in the room were preoccupying his thoughts. He hurriedly shook his head.

"Well, Potter, I expect you heard about my ball by now." Draco rather smugly brought up the subject. He was waiting for his acknowledgement, Harry could tell. He smiled to himself.

"Nope." Harry shook his head, measuring out crocodile blood. "Can't say I have." This was a downright lie. Everyone had been talking about nothing else, how could anyone not have heard about it? Draco looked downright shocked. That was amusing.

"What…what do you mean?" Draco seemed affronted. Harry decided that it was best to just go with his lie.

"Haven't heard anything about a ball." Harry shrugged.

"I realize Granger isn't exactly the social goddess of the castle and that Weasley has the conversational skills of a Quaffle, but surely you must have heard something…" Draco trailed off incredulously. Harry was not working with Phase Three very well. "Then I'll tell you."

"How about you don't and say you didn't?" Harry suggested as he squinted to read the next line on the board.

"Now look here Potter!" Draco stepped in front of Harry and pointed his finger so that it hovered about an inch from Harry's nose. "I'm going to tell you about my ball and you're going to like it!"

"Excuse me." The icy voice of Professor Snape interrupted. Draco looked around. Everyone was staring at them. Even Susan Bones who was trying desperately to keep Hermione's attention away from them while sending Draco apologetic looks. Never trust a Hufflepuff to do a Slytherin's job.

"Hello Professor, lovely day, isn't it?" Draco felt he had recovered quite nicely and probably successfully headed off the Potions' master completely with his winning voice and smile. He tugged a bit on his tie. It needed to be just a bit looser. Sexy bad boy loose. Not 'I-Can't-Dress-Myself-Properly-Because-I'm-A-Weasley' loose.

"Are you and Potter having difficulties?" Snape asked through gritted teeth, obviously waiting to punish someone for the interruption.

"No, sir." Draco shook his head quickly. "We're having a friendly manly chat. Regular old chums, me and Potter."

"Er…" Harry stared at Draco as though he were something that had occurred in Neville's cauldron back when Neville was still in Potions. "What…?" Hermione was really frowning at Draco now. Granger may be a Mudblood, but she was smart. She might catch on somehow. Susan Bones better distract her if she still wanted that invitation. He hadn't really meant to invite that many people from outside Slytherin house but now he realized that he might have to invite a good deal many people.

Snape was glaring down at Draco now, something Draco had never experienced before. Draco went over his options. He could say something suggestive with a seductive smile. No, the thought of going anywhere near Snape's pants gave him the heebie-jeebies.

"Professor!" Pansy Parkinson cut in and Draco looked up to see that Pansy had some red liquid on one of her hands. "I accidentally spilled something, it burns! It's burning my hand!" Her face was screwed up in pain and tears were starting to flow down her cheeks. Snape bustled away to get her to the hospital wing and Draco sighed in relief. Good old Pansy. The old "I spilt something on myself! Help!" diversion tactic. A classic.

"Hermione, do you think…?" Draco didn't hear the rest of Bones' question because he immediately turned on Harry, who was looking thoroughly baffled as to what the hell was going on.

"Did you just…?" Harry began but then obviously didn't think it was possible. "Did you just head Snape off instead of getting me in trouble?"

Draco went over his options.

"I didn't want us interrupted." Draco smiled seductively. Harry froze in place and tried to work his jaw. Draco knew that he could save Phase Three. "So…" Draco leaned over, which emphasized how loose his tie was, and one of his fingertips trailed over Harry's hand. The sharp intake of breath made Draco desperately want to smirk. "I'm having a ball and only a few students are invited. I'm surprised you didn't hear about it."

"S-so?" Harry tried to regain his calm.

"I just wanted to make sure you heard." Draco smiled sweetly and then went back to making the potion. It pleased him to no end that when the bell rang, Harry ran for the door as though the rest of the room were on fire and someone had tied kindling to his back.

Harry thought he had escaped for the day. But Harry didn't know about the secret weapon.

"Harry? Earth to Harry?" Ginny waved a hand in front of Harry's face. She giggled as he blinked and looked at her.

"Yes? What?" Harry asked jerkily. They were sitting at dinner in the Great Hall, Ginny and Harry across from Hermione and Ron. Harry had spent most of the meal spacing off and not really paying attention. Besides the fact that he seemed a bit jumpy whenever he came to.

"You seem a little…weird today." Ginny observed innocently. "Did something happen?"

"No! Nothing happened! We were just doing Potions!" Harry immediately answered. Ron and Hermione looked at each other with wide eyes.

"Um…" Hermione hesitated. "No one accused you of doing anything."

"Oh…er, so you didn't." Harry tried to laugh and found it didn't really help. "I was just having flashbacks. Horrible flashbacks to my traumatic experiences." He waved his hands around a bit to make it seem more dramatic.

"Did Draco do something to you in Potions today?" Hermione had a disapproving look on her face. "I don't know why he decided to pair up with you like that. If I didn't know Susan as well as I do, I would swear…"

"Susan Bones is in Hufflepuff, like she would have anything to do with anything Malfoy does." Ginny pointed out disbelievingly. Then she turned her attention to Harry. "I heard Malfoy talking about you to Pansy Parkinson before dinner."

"Yeah?" Harry tried not to look too interested. He didn't know what was wrong with him. So Draco was acting a bit differently. So Draco was almost decent today. So Draco wore his tie loose in a sexy sort of way. It didn't mean anything. But try as he might, the feel of Draco's fingertips trailing over his hand kept replaying in his head and made him feel strange. Kind of restless. "What were they saying?"

"Oh, well," Ginny took a moment to pretend to think about it. She recalled Draco's instructions quite easily. "Parkinson said, 'Why did you pair up with Potter today?' and Malfoy said, 'Because he's a lot more interesting than everyone else in that class.'"

"What does that mean?" Ron's face screwed up in something near disgust.

"I bet Malfoy's trying to play some horrible prank on you." Hermione shook her head. "I don't know what it is but something's off here and I intend to find out what. What do you think Harry?"

But it was no good asking him. He was staring off into space again. A rather good day dream about wicked pale blue eyes looking into his and telling him he was a lot more interesting than everyone else in the class had taken over.

Ginny looked at Draco at the Slytherin table and she gave him the secret sign. They had a color coded system. Red apples meant that things had gone badly. (Draco thought one of Gryffindor's colors was most appropriate for this.) Golden apples meant they needed to talk. And green apples…

The red-headed girl selected a juicy green apple and bit into it.

Green apples meant victory.

Phase Four had three parts. It was a lot more complicated than the first three plans, though Draco prided himself so far. Okay, okay, some people think it's wrong to use nefarious plots to get someone to be your date for something but really, he felt like it was perfectly alright. He wasn't doing it to be evil or simply because he wanted to get into that person's pants. (Let it be known for the record that Draco had actually worn a pair of pants worn by his object of desire, although the house elves never reported the laundry mix up, mostly because they were too drunk off butter beer to remember which very nice blonde haired boy kept handing them fresh bottles when they had finished off their old ones.)

He was doing it because he had to do something. Sure, opposite side of the tracks. But it was different now. Voldemort had kicked the bucket and Draco had bided his time. He had been attracted to this one person for a long time, not in a physical way per se, but in a way that made him notice that person always, no matter what. He couldn't keep his eyes off of them.

But since traditionally they were enemies, he needed to shock that out of the person's system. Make them realize that they could be something more. Something quite good, exquisite really. (Since Draco firmly believed that most things that involved him should be described as 'exquisite.')

But the first part, well…he was kind of known for being an arrogant, self-serving bastard. First he just needed to convince a few people. This would mean more invitations. Dammit.

Originally, he was going to use Nott for the job but Nott told him to stick his invitation where the sun didn't shine. Draco had given him an invitation anyways, just because they had a silent agreement that Nott was always invited to things. He somehow added to the party. Besides, if one person was sitting down, the whole group didn't feel like they needed to stand.

Then he thought, 'Ah ha! I'll use Zacharias Smith!', but that didn't work out because Smith liked him even less than he liked Potter. So…it was up to Zabini.

Blaise Zabini was a pretty good actor and was used in many Slytherin plots over the years. Plots not even the Gryffindors had realized were them. For instance, Lockhart didn't think of that horrible Valentine's Day surprise all on his own. That had been a true stroke of genius to torture the masses with. Zabini, like most Slytherins, could act happy or sad, burst into laughter or tears, all on cue. Besides, Blaise wasn't too bad looking.

But Zabini couldn't be told the plot just yet. So, Draco proceeded to tell him he had a hilarious plan for a joke and if Zabini just did what he was told and didn't ask questions, Draco would give him an invitation. Blaise accepted quickly.

Draco waited until people were leaving the Great Hall for breakfast. Ginny had gotten barrier A, also known as 'Harry', away by telling him she desperately needed him to help her with a quick homework question about Defense Against the Dark Arts. Barrier B, as planned, was with Target C.

Barrier B, whom we shall call 'Ron', was walking alongside Target C, whom we shall refer to as 'Hermione', towards the stairs. Zabini smoothly stepped in front of the pair.

"I was wondering if I could have a word with Miss Granger…?" Zabini looked so hesitant and awkward and shy and endearing that Draco felt like applauding. Instead he stayed where he was behind a suit of armor.

"Well, I guess…" Hermione bit her lip and looked at Ron. Zabini led her about five feet from Ron, which was still perfect hearing distance, and Blaise knew it, to talk to her.

"I know this is going to sound odd…" Blaise toed the ground a bit and looked at her hopefully. "But…you've heard about the ball? The one that Draco Malfoy is giving?"

"Yeah." Hermione nodded. "What about it?"

"I know I'm a Slytherin and everything and our houses don't usually get along but well…you're really brilliant, you know?" Blaise smiled hopefully at her. "And really pretty."

"Oh, um…" Hermione blushed, she wasn't used to this type of behavior. She was used to males being a jigsaw puzzle that even when you assembled all the pieces correctly still refused to see the big picture. To put it plainly, Ron had the romantic soul of a pencil box. "Thank you…I…"

Ron was going purple with jealous rage, standing five feet away and looking like he would like nothing more than to push Blaise's head through a wall. Draco knew his moment had come at last. He sauntered over to Ron carefully and leaned forward to speak in a quiet tone.

"Would you look at that? Zabini's going to take Hermione to the ball." Draco commented slyly shoving an invitation to the ball in Ron's hand. This sent Ron right over the edge.

"He bloody well isn't!" Ron snarled loudly, startling Hermione and Blaise quite badly. "If you're going to the ball with anyone you're going with me and that's final!" He told Hermione who could only stand there in amazement. Draco smiled to himself. Blaise somehow cleared off without anyone really seeing where he went.

"Ron! Where did you get an invitation!" Hermione noticed the invitation in Ron's hand. Ron looked down at it. Then back up at Hermione. Draco was back behind his suit of armor.

"I…I don't know." Ron looked absolutely bewildered. "It must've come from Malfoy but…why would he give me an invitation?"

"So you would go you stupid prat." Draco muttered quietly. Honestly, sometimes he really wondered…

Ron had an invitation.

But Harry didn't.

Not that he thought he deserved an invitation by any means. It was really just the principle of the thing. He was sure that the reason for inviting Ron before him was a really good one. Of course it sounded more like Ron had been tricked into being given an invitation. Ron had been rather stubborn afterwards when Hermione tried to bring up the fact that he had that outburst over Zabini asking her but Ron kept saying that it was because she made such a stupid choice last time and obviously regretted that she had gone with the first person who asked her. Hermione was now ignoring him.

What was Malfoy playing at though? He didn't understand this change of behavior, all this ball business. Something was up. And Harry wished he could spend at least an hour without his thoughts wandering back to Malfoy. He supposed he had always kind of thought about Malfoy and tried to predict what he was going to try to get the group with next, but now it seemed more obvious than before. But it was time for Potions again and Harry tried not to look too eager as he entered the classroom behind Hermione.

This anxious feeling that was welling up inside of him confused him greatly. So they were in the same class? Big deal. Harry glanced over at Draco, who was talking to Pansy. Pansy was always with Malfoy now a days. They were probably going to that stupid Leaving Ball together. Harry's face soured at that thought. He was probably just imagining things anyways. Draco was always going to be Draco. He sat down grumpily next to Hermione.

When they were told to pair up, Draco approached them and Harry had a strange hopeful feeling in his chest.

"Granger, we're partners today." Draco announced like a king issuing a new law.

"Hey, Harry, you can be my partner." Susan Bones waved him over towards her cauldron merrily. Harry didn't know why he just abandoned the stunned Hermione but he was feeling kind of numb and his feet just moved of their own accord. Just as he looked up at Draco, Draco did something very unexpected.

He winked.

Harry stared incredulously. Draco didn't wink. He couldn't have. He was probably just blinking or maybe something had gotten into his eye. A speck of dust. Yes, the dungeon was so musty that the explanation seemed so logical. And yet…

It had looked rather like a wink. Harry tried to busy himself with potion making instead of focusing on whether or not Draco Malfoy winked at him. It was an awfully stupid thing to debate about.

Meanwhile, Hermione was a bit apprehensive. She knew something strange was going on. There were too many strange events next to each other for her comfort. Now Draco was her partner in Potions. The boy who had referred to her as 'Mudblood Granger' for so long that Hermione thought that if Hogwarts had yearbooks, they were sure to say Hermione 'Mudblood' Granger. Draco probably didn't even know that she had a first name.

"It occurs to me Miss Granger that we have never really been friends." Draco told her conversationally. Hermione wasn't sure how to respond to this. "Although I think you're a jumped up know-it-all, I'm willing to extend a hand of friendship to you."

"Gee, I'm honored." Hermione muttered sarcastically. "What are you playing at anyways, Malfoy?"

"My dear girl," Draco put a hand to his chest, looking deeply offended. "I am merely trying to be nice. I never thought you would be so unfair to a fellow human being."

Hermione suddenly had memories of a voice lecturing two boys on friendship and inter-house relations and how people needed to set aside their differences for the greater good. That voice had been her own.

Why did I have to be the responsible friend?

"Alright." Hermione still seemed wary. "But answer just one question."

"With pleasure." Draco seemed pleased with himself.

"Just how long have you had a crush on Harry?" Hermione asked him point blank. Draco's eyes widened and he knew he had been caught. Hermione had begun to connect facts right away. She had discovered secretly that Ginny had an invitation. Draco had been partners with Harry for that one Potions class. The ball. The invitation for Ron which had been handed to him while he had been having a cow about Zabini asking her. Zabini was a Slytherin. And if Draco wanted Harry to come to the ball, he would have to invite Ron to go too…

"Clever." Draco pursed his lips. Then he reached into his robes. "I heard Weasley asked you to the ball."

"Well…sort of…I guess…but I can't go without an invitation…" Hermione sighed wearily as she thought of Ron. At least he wasn't just realizing she was a girl again.

"Tell Weasley you'd love to go." Draco handed her an invitation. "And put that away quickly, before Parkinson sees."

"Wait." Hermione looked at it in confusion. "You're inviting me and Ron? Just to get Harry to go?"

"A Slytherin never reveals his plots." Draco wagged a finger at her. "And don't you say a word to Potter."

"Oh, I won't." Hermione looked down at her invitation and went pink as she thought of dancing with Ron. Then her face grew serious. "If you do a thing to hurt Harry, I will curse you so badly that…that…" she tried to think of what Draco might find scariest. "That your hair will always stand up on end for the rest of your life."

"Now you're getting personal." Draco's hand went up to touch the blond hair on his head protectively. "Don't go spreading the word too loudly that you and Weasley have invitations, the other Slytherins…well, I'll take care of it."

"Does this mean you'll stop calling me 'Mudblood Granger'?" Hermione raised her eyebrows.

"Oh alright." Draco agreed. "But I can't promise not to slip up." Hermione shook her head.

"I'll take what I can get." Hermione shrugged. Besides, now she would have an infinitely better day. If she did it just right…

Gryffindors are sometimes very good plotters.

Phase Four's last part was very simple and Draco knew it would work because it was so ingeniously designed. He didn't know that Hermione was going to use his plan to her advantage, but that was okay, because it didn't mess with the goal of the original plan.

"Draco gave me an invitation to the ball." Hermione told Harry and Ron as nonchalantly as she would comment on what they were having for dinner. Harry looked up immediately and Ron stabbed his steak far more ferociously than he needed to.

"Oh, Draco gave you an invitation." Ron leaned on the fork that was skewering the piece of beef. "Didn't know you two were on a first name basis. But then you're friends with all the Slytherins."

"He gave you an invitation?" Harry decided that Draco had not winked at him at all. Definitely not.

"Yeah, I was thinking about going with Zabini since he asked…" Hermione calmly ate a bit of fruit salad. "But I'm not sure."

"No way!" Ron hit a fist on the table. "You said I was supposed to ask you first this time and I did! I didn't know that idiot Zabini was going to ask you! And you didn't even have an invitation then."

"I don't really remembering you asking, Ron." Hermione told him primly. "I remember you demanding…"

"If you're going to get bloody technical about it, fine!" Ron jumped to his feet, putting his hands on the table and leaning over it so that he was eye level with Hermione. "Hermione, will you go to the ball with me?" If Ron hadn't been ticked off, he would have been too embarrassed. But since he was mad, he forgot to be embarrassed.

"Of course." Hermione beamed. "We can go to the Leaving Ball together." Then she glanced over at Harry who was looking incredibly sullen. "Oh Harry, I'm sure you'll get an invitation soon."

"Yeah, if Malfoy invited me, he'll invite you for sure." Ron looked thoughtful for a moment. "I bet he's inviting all the seventh years and he just wants to make everyone jumpy by saying only certain people are getting invited."

"Didn't stop him from inviting you two and not me." Harry glowered as he pushed food around on his plate with a fork. "He's probably just inviting you guys so he can make fun of me for spending the night by myself."

"I don't know." Hermione thought of how much trouble Draco was going to for all this. "He was really nice to me in Potions. I think he's kind of grown up."

"Maybe he wants you to go with him." Harry gave her an accusatory look, as though it would be her own fault that Draco would ask her instead of someone else.

"Now you're just being ridiculous." Hermione took out a textbook. Ron dropped his fork with a clatter, looking horrified. Hermione and Harry both stared at him.

"Blimey…I…I just asked Hermione to go to the Leaving Ball and she said yes!" Ron seemed to forget who he was sitting next to. Then he noticed them, went bright red, and proceeded to get up and walk out of the Great Hall. Hermione prided herself in winning a battle, even if it wasn't the war.

At the Slytherin table, Phase Six was going into effect.

Draco had nervous anticipation fluttering in his stomach that made it impossible to eat. At the right time in the meal (he noted that Weasley had just run out of the Great Hall and wondered what that was about) he suddenly got up on his chair. The teachers were sure to notice and tell him to get down so he had to act quickly.

"My fellow Slytherins," Draco got their attention immediately. They all stared at the Malfoy boy with a large amount of curiosity. This just had to be interesting. "We are ambitious folk and we pride ourselves on that very fact. And now I'm going to embark on something so ambitious that it might be a bit hard to explain. Those of you who don't like it, can't appreciate the house they belong to fully. My next act will demonstrate just how ambitious I am."

The other Slytherins looked at each other. Pansy hadn't been informed of this beforehand and tried to think of what it could be. Draco got down from his chair just as McGonagall was going to tell him to sit in his seat properly and left the table. But he didn't leave the Great Hall.

He walked purposefully towards the Gryffindor table. The murmur of excitement of the Slytherins rose. He probably had some incredible prank planned. This was going to be good.

He marched right up to Harry Potter, his longtime arch-nemesis who looked like he had been Petrified into his place. Draco grabbed both sides of Potter's head and tilted his head up, covering the green-eyed boy's mouth with his own. The Great Hall went dead. No one moved a muscle. Not even the teachers knew what to do about this.

Then a hoot. Then several whistles. Then the cat calls started. Applause broke out. Pansy Parkinson fainted. Hermione was glad Ron wasn't there. Draco pulled away, opening his eyes to see Harry looking completely dazed; clearly he hadn't been expecting that.

Draco stood up straight, smoothed his hair with one hand, and marched triumphantly out the doors of the Great Hall. Take that Potter! All those years of one upping Draco only to be one upped in front of everyone.

In the Great Hall, Harry was in the exact same state that Draco had left him in.

"That was…interesting." Hermione tried. She felt that she lacked the necessary experience to deal with this matter fully.

"Draco and Harry are secretly dating!" Parvati exclaimed in a stage whisper.

"I knew it!" Lavender snapped her fingers. "It makes sense. Malfoy's too pretty to be straight and Harry, well…he's just obvious."

"All that rivalry." Parvati nodded her head in agreement. "They've always been a little too involved with each other's business."

"Harry?" Hermione tried again.

"Did Malfoy just…?" Harry finally uttered, his hand going up to touch where Draco's lips had been only a few minutes before. Hermione nodded. Harry's eyes went even wider.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Hermione asked encouragingly. Harry nodded dumbly and Hermione took his hand and led him out of the castle and down towards the lake. Her and Harry had had a great deal many talks down by the lake. Ron was Harry's very best friend, no doubt about it, but Ron wasn't good at anything emotional. Hermione was.

They sat down on the docks, their feet dangling about a foot above the water. Harry was now looking a bit downcast. Hermione didn't exactly approve of the way Draco had gone about that. Perhaps he just wanted to get the Slytherins to approve because they could make things a bit difficult but Harry wasn't used to this sort of thing. He had very little experience in dating and suddenly being kissed by a member of the same sex…well, it could be awkward for anyone.

"What was that even about?" Harry's hands went to his hair in frustration, mussing it up even worse than it already was naturally.

"Maybe you should go talk to him." Hermione suggested.

"Oh yeah." Harry sounded bitter. "Hey, Malfoy, I just wanted to know why you…you…" He trailed off, a frown taking over his face. "It sounds stupid."

"I think talking about what just happened so you both understand would probably help." Hermione gave her opinion. "I don't know where he went but maybe you can talk to him alone before he goes to bed…"

"He already went back to his common room." Ginny's voice interrupted them. "The password is 'dress robes'."

"How do you know?" Harry asked her in amazement.

"I know everybody's password." Ginny shrugged. Hermione knew better though. If Ginny wasn't helping Draco, than Hermione was getting a D in Arithmancy. Hermione was about to turn back towards Harry before she realized that blur that had passed Ginny was actually Harry.

I hope everything works out.

The Slytherin common room was in a state of pure pandemonium. Zabini was busy reviving Pansy with smelling salts and fanning her so she didn't faint again, Nott was telling people to shut up if they didn't want to get cursed in the middle of the night, and the rest of the general population was talking about their daring leader's most unexpected move that night.

"It's alright Pansy." Zabini had conjured a fan and was flapping it at her as he knelt beside her. She was lying on one of the black leather couches. "Really, I'm sure…"

"I never thought I'd see the day." Millicent Bulstrode shook her head in disbelief.

"I don't see why it's so hard to see." Zabini forgot himself for a moment. "You could cut that sexual tension with a knife." Pansy made a noise and Zabini began fanning harder. "Sorry Pansy…"

"Er, hello." The Slytherin common room fell silent as they realized that Harry Potter was standing in their common room. They didn't know this wasn't his first time there but it really wouldn't have changed anything if they knew. "I'm looking for Malfoy."

There was some nudging and winking among some of the older Slytherins and the younger ones, who felt fierce loyalty to their house didn't know what to think. Pansy fainted again. Zabini got out the smelling salts. Poor Pansy. She had probably gotten her hopes up about going to the Leaving Ball with Draco.

"Why is this entire house so damn preoccupied with who Draco wants to snog these days?" Nott shot a glare that made several people stop whispering at once. "He's up the stairs on the left, first landing you get to." He looked like he had swallowed a lemon, which was generally how Nott looked when he ended up accidentally being friendly or helpful.

Harry just nodded his head and left the common room.

"Wait, how does he know the password?" Millicent Bulstrode asked.

"It's not exactly an amazingly hard system to by pass. Hell, if you stood outside Gryffindor's tower long enough, someone will come by and give the password to get in." Zabini was fanning with one hand and gesturing with the other. "Then you could get in and wreak all sorts of havoc."

There was a pause in the room as everyone considered this.

"Does anyone have any glitter?" Pansy asked, suddenly interested.

Harry didn't know what to do really. He had no plan of action. This was quite typical of him. Usually, he expected things to just make sense when he got there. (An aforementioned dark wizard who shall remain nameless can attest to this.) When he pulled open the door to the dorm where several canopy beds which were hung with green stood, he wasn't quite so sure that barging in guns blazing was the best plan.

Draco had just gotten his tie off when Harry came into the room. He turned, half expecting it to be Zabini, probably needing help with Pansy. But instead, it was Potter. He hadn't really been expecting that. He supposed Ginny must have given him the password.

"I want to know what's going on." Harry spoke plainly, but there was a no nonsense air about him.

"Going on? Nothing's going on." Draco feigned innocence.

"Cut the crap." Draco winced. Harry wasn't in the mood for joking around right now it seemed. "You just kissed me in front of the entire school, something has to be going on."

"What's going on has been going on for quite some time, you've just failed to recognize it for what it was." Draco hung his tie up so that it wouldn't get rumpled. "Now I'm going to have to spell it out for you."

He opened his bedside drawer and took out an invitation. The first one he had made, even before his own. Then he held it out towards him.

"I want you to come to the ball." Draco told him seriously. "With me."

"Like…a date?" Harry hadn't gone for the invitation yet. Draco refrained from throwing a pillow at him.

"Yes like a date. In fact, it is a date." Draco stuck out his arm even further, waving the folded card a little.

"You want to go on a date with me?" Harry still seemed rather confused by this. "Why?"

"It's quite simple really." Draco took a deep breath to calm himself. Stabbing Harry wouldn't solve anyone's problems. "I like you. I've liked you since we met on that bloody train our first year and you, in so many words, told me to go fuck myself. I decided that we had to be enemies and we were. And now that's done with. And now, I want to take you to the Leaving Ball."

"No." Harry shook his head.

"What do you mean, 'no'?" Draco had never really learned the meaning of the word 'no'. It meant such things as, 'I'll buy it for you if you nag a bit more' or 'I mean yes, but I'm trying to get something'. A flat out no was a bit beyond Draco's reach.

"I mean no." Harry said plainly. "You're playing some weird game with my head right now and so the answer is no. You didn't just ask me straight out like a normal person. First you got Ron and Hermione to go, so then I would want to go because they're going. And who knows what else you've done. We have been enemies for a long time and in that time I've discovered that you're not above lying or manipulation, so once again, the answer is no."

"I'm only lying and manipulating people now to get you to go with me!" Draco stood up defensively.

"Oh yeah, that's loads better." Harry shot at him sarcastically. "Good job, now I'm convinced."

"But…what about you? Don't you want to go with me?" Draco could tell this was a last ditch effort. "You liked the kiss, I could tell!"

"So what if I liked it!" Harry was going red in the face, maybe out of anger, or maybe out of embarrassment, but he wasn't going to give an inch. "I already said no so stop asking!"

"Take the bloody invitation!" Draco threw the invitation at Harry, hitting him square on the forehead. "And if it doesn't mean anything to you and you don't want it then throw it in a bin!"

Harry snatched it off the ground angrily.

"I will then!" Harry stomped out of the room. Draco reflected that it was not nearly how he wanted that particular conversation to go. Stupid Potter. He ruined everything. He couldn't even let Draco have one good moment in his life. No, that would just be too much.

Harry had stomped all the way back to Gryffindor tower, not seeing the group of people who were badly hiding behind a statue next to the entry way.

The next morning had started off quite badly.

The Slytherins had completely wreaked havoc in the Gryffindor tower. Well, actually, that was a bit of an overstatement and requires some explanation. For one, the Gryffindors didn't know absolutely for sure that it was the Slytherins but couldn't think of any other house that might throw that much green and silver glitter around. Two, mostly, there was just green and silver glitter everywhere. In beds, on the floor, on tables, in dressers. And as anyone who has ever used glitter can tell you, it is extremely hard to get glitter off. And three, the reason that real horrific vengeance had not been wreaked was because while the group of Slytherins waited for everyone to fall asleep so that they could get up to their dastardly deeds, they needed something to do. No one was exactly sure who first broke out the bottles of alcohol but they were stumbling drunk by the time the glitter was spread. (Although a theory about what happened that night was not so much that they wanted to get glitter all over Gryffindor tower, but one of the Slytherins had started a glitter fight of epic proportions.)

"It's in my hair." Ron moaned as he shook his head at breakfast and rained green and silver down on his bacon. "And scourgify doesn't work on it."

"I guess it doesn't think it's a mess." Hermione tried to reason. She was particularly annoyed with the glitter in her hair. For one, there was an awful lot of hair for glitter to get trapped in. And two, didn't she have enough to worry about? She looked over at Harry who looked like he was in a completely foul mood.

Three guesses why and the first two don't count.

Ron, having the sensitivity of his plate, didn't notice.

"It was definitely the Slytherins." Ron nudged Harry. "I bet it was Malfoy."

"Of course it was." Harry snapped at Ron who looked at Hermione for an explanation as to why. "He's so immature. He thinks if he pulls some dumb prank he can bully me around…"

"Bully you around?" Ron had not been there for the Draco/Harry kiss. No one had told him either because he had gone to bed as soon as he had come back from dinner. Hermione sucked air in through her teeth. "Of course he can't, mate! I reckon if we ask Fred and George, they'll send back some great ideas for revenge."

"Ron…" Hermione began quietly.

"I know, I know." Ron rolled his eyes. "It's against school rules. But they broke the rules first, Hermione. And besides, you've broken lots of rules by now."

"No, Ron, listen—" Hermione was cut off.

"Hermione." Ron leaned in as though he thought he really could whisper to her without Harry hearing. "Can't you tell Harry's in a bad mood? I'm trying to cheer him up." Hermione's hand hit her forehead. This could only end in tears.

"Harry," Lavender had a slightly un-amused twist to her usually smiling face. "Next time your boyfriend wants to celebrate coming out of the closet, tell him to leave the rest of us out of it."

"What?" Ron looked at Lavender as though she had two heads.

"Geez Ron, you are so out of things." Parvati appeared at Lavender's shoulder. "Remember Malfoy and Harry's public kiss last night?" Hermione cringed.

Ron's reaction took several steps to complete. It went something like this:

1) All the color drained from his face.

2) He blinked very slowly.

3) The thought hit home.

4) His face screwed up in confusion and disgust.

5) He turned towards Harry and opened his mouth.

"YOU KISSED MALFOY?" Ron's voice seemed to echo through the entire Great Hall. Hermione shot apologetic looks around to everyone. It was her only defense.

"Shut the hell up Ron!" Harry looked angry enough to actually hit his best friend. "Just shut up right now. I didn't kiss that bastard, he kissed me!" And then he left the Great Hall, whispers echoing from all sides about him. Ron sat down heavily.

Just as Hermione opened her mouth to do something, which probably involved giving Ron a fierce scolding, someone interrupted the entire Great Hall again.

It was a very indignant shout from the Slytherin table.

"I MOST CERTAINLY DID NOT!" Draco declared loudly. Hermione looked over at him and he mouthed a question really fast. She couldn't quite make it out.

"Then…then…" Ron tried to gather his thoughts on his own. "So Malfoy…kissed Harry? He fancies him? But I thought…but then…what about…?"

"Ron." Hermione decided that a scolding was probably a bad approach right now. "Draco has a crush on Harry. He kissed him last night. I think they've had some sort of argument. Now, Harry is very confused and frustrated right now. Remember that time in first year when we had to get across that giant chessboard?"

"Yeah but—" Ron tried to cut in but Hermione went on.

"We let you direct us because you're the best chess player between the three of us. But when it came to other stuff, it was me or Harry directing the others, right?" Hermione felt like a teacher might, trying to explain the simple logical process to the solution. Ron nodded. "Now, Ron, I mean this in the best way possible but if this was a chess game, you would be the person shouting bits of unhelpful advice during the whole thing."

"Like…Percy?" Ron tried to show that he understood.

"Good." Hermione patted his hand. "Why don't you just finish breakfast and I'll go try and find out what's going on."

"How long has Malfoy had a crush on Harry?" Ron went back to completely puzzled. "Since when is he gay?"

"Well, he's always been a bit of a dandy." Hermione thought that was an understatement. All that time on his hair, not to mention the hours he probably spent arranging his tie just so. "Just go back to breakfast, Ron."

"Alright." Ron resigned to have his breakfast. Then he stopped and looked at Hermione. "Wait, does Harry like him?" Hermione groaned and Ron decided to start eating.

Hermione Granger, feeling a bit weary, because she had to study for N.E.W.T.s so vigorously and because something was clearly wrong with Harry and now Ron was in the middle of a nervous breakdown and it was all Draco's fault. All this business with that stupid Leaving Ball. She could strangle the Slytherin boy right now if she thought she'd get away with it.

As she was leaving the Great Hall, she was aware of Draco suddenly coming up to walk beside her. It was probably best that she had left Ron to eat, he probably would have done something to complicate matters further.

"I would like it known to all that I had nothing to do with any glitter that might be in the Gryffindor tower." Draco declared importantly and regally, as though issuing an edict.

"You didn't?" Hermione raised her eyebrows.

"No. I just told Creevey that I had nothing to do with it." Draco looked especially peeved all of a sudden. Hermione wasn't sure if it was the false accusation or the fact that he had to talk to Creevey. "After Potter completely ruined my whole evening, I went to bed. But Pansy and Zabini were looking awfully glittery this morning and apparently have terrible headaches."

"What happened with Harry last night?" Hermione questioned him.

"I need to find Ginny if I'm to have any chance of salvaging this plan." Draco went on, ignoring Hermione's question. "That's what I tried to ask you back there."

"Yes, but what happened?" Hermione reiterated.

"I asked him to go to the ball with me and he told me no because apparently I'm lying, manipulative scum." Draco threw his hands up in the air. "What kind of answer is that? You don't suppose he's playing hard to get?" Draco bit his lip hopefully.

"Hmm, well…" Hermione was a nice person. She couldn't help it. On the one hand, she didn't think it was right to lie. On the other hand, it seemed somewhat mean to crush Draco's hopes, even if they hadn't been friends until very, very recently.

"He implied I should have asked in a normal way." Draco continued, having lost his last train of thought. "What the hell would have been the bloody normal way? We weren't even on speaking terms!"

"Maybe I should go talk to Harry." Hermione decided that she knew Harry better and that there had to be someone more equipped to deal with Draco. "He thinks you're responsible for the glitter."

"Oh, just great!" The sarcasm was as thick as cement. "That's just bloody super! I'm going to go find Ginny, this is just depressing." And with that, Draco turned and walked off. Hermione sighed a little.

Better you than me, Ginny.

And now, Mr. Potter, you're going to talk to me and like it!

Hermione was always a big fan of solving complicated problems faster than anyone else.

Harry went outside, feeling it would be easier to avoid people there. He kicked a rock rather hard with his foot, which didn't really make him feel better but he was a boy and boys had to do that sort of thing.

He thought he could just scowl and walk around the grounds that morning but noooooooo, he had to be interrupted! Couldn't he have a moment to himself without someone coming to him and being like, "Oh, Harry, let's talk about your feelings!" or "Oh, Harry, let's go play chess!" or "Oh, Harry, Voldemort's attacking the world again, go stop him!"?

But it wasn't Hermione or Ron or Draco or anyone else he had expected to see at that moment. It was Seamus Finnigan. Seamus didn't have the greatest bad mood detector in the world. Seamus was a little clueless at times, but not really a bad sort of chap in his own way.

"Hey, Harry." Seamus smiled at him.

"Hey." Harry greeted him in a sullen fashion.

"I just wanted to say." Seamus glanced around. "I think you're really brave you know, coming out in public like that."

"What?" Harry stared at him in confusion.

"You know," Seamus leaned in a bit. "I just wanted you to know that you aren't alone. It's so cool that you and Malfoy are gay! You guys should come hang out with us sometime."

Harry was completely frozen as he had no idea how to react to this. Seamus was…gay? He hadn't really thought about it before. Then again, he hadn't really thought about whether or not he was gay.

"Oh, there's Dean." Seamus noticed someone over his shoulder. "See you around Harry!" And then Harry turned to watch Seamus run over to Dean Thomas. Something suddenly clicked in Harry's head.


That makes sense. Never do see one without the other, do you?

Of course, now that Seamus and Dean had left, Harry was wondering whether or not he was gay. He might be. It was terribly possible. The only girl he had ever had a crush on was Cho, who was the type of girl who made you want to swear off women altogether. He hadn't really ever been attracted to any guys though. Well…except…

But that didn't count. He was in fourth year when he met the oldest Weasley boy. Harry thought Bill was so cool and well…good looking. But he just assumed everyone noticed! How could you not? And did it really matter? Draco and him weren't dating. Draco just kissed him. And was sexy. But that didn't mean anything!

"Stupid ball…" Harry cursed the Leaving Ball. He wasn't going to it. He should just throw away that stupid invitation. He didn't know why he hadn't done it last night. He had just put it in his trunk, determined not to look at it.

"Harry!" Hermione called out and he stopped, waiting for her to catch up. Maybe Hermione would know whether or not he was gay and then he would stop debating about it. "I've just been talking to Draco—"

"I don't care." Harry interrupted. So Draco was going to talk to everyone but him now and throw glitter around the tower. That just proved his point!

"Oh yes you do!" Hermione shook her finger at his face in a very good imitation of Mrs. Weasley. "We're not doing the 'Mr. Misunderstood Angst' routine. Now you listen here Harry, Draco didn't throw that glitter around our tower, it was the other Slytherins."

"Oh." Harry didn't know what else to say when Hermione was like this. It was no wonder that Ron was sometimes terrified of her.

"And Draco is very upset right now." Hermione went on. "I think you should talk to him."

"Fat lot of good that did us last night." Harry looked stubborn. "I'm not talking to him again."

"That'll solve all your problems. Way to go Harry." Hermione's voice sounded of eye-rolling. They walked along for a few minutes in silence.

"Do you think I'm gay?" Harry broached the subject.

"Why are you asking me?" Hermione looked puzzled. "That's the sort of thing you've got to figure out for yourself. I don't ask you whether or not I like Ron."

"If Ron was here, he would have just fainted." Harry smiled a little. "So you're saying that I am gay?"

"No, I was just pointing out how I didn't need any help to get to my conclusion so I don't think you'll need any help getting to yours." Hermione shook her head. "Why are you asking?" She fixed an eye on him.

"Er…well…" Harry wasn't sure how Hermione would interpret this. "I was just thinking. Did you know Seamus and Dean were…?"

"Harry, everybody knows that." Hermione patted his back with one hand as though he were a very small child. "Even Ron does."

"Someone could have bloody well told me." Harry muttered.

"So, why do you think you might be gay?" Hermione prompted him.

"I don't know…" Harry looked around, hoping somewhere, for some reason, a suitable speech would be written somewhere on the lawn. Hey, anything was possible. "I mean…I liked the kiss and Malfoy knows it…and I keep noticing him—I've always kind of noticed him. But we were enemies. But it was fun being enemies, because it kept me from thinking about lots of things other things. I mean, think of all the stuff we've done because of him…"

"We almost got caught out of bed by Filch. He turned us in about the dragon…" Hermione began listing off things. "There was that time you and Ron took the Polyjuice Potion to see if he was the Heir of Slytherin…"

"Yeah!" Harry nodded his head. "We've done a ton of stuff and it was all fun. And now there's the Leaving Ball and we all noticed right away because it had to do with Malfoy."

"So you think you might…like Draco?" Hermione posed tentatively.

"No, that's not what I meant." Harry shook his head quickly.

"I can see why you and Ron are such good friends now." Hermione sighed a bit. "So, what happened last night? Draco said he gave you an invitation to the Leaving Ball."

"I'm not going." Harry said flat out. "He couldn't just ask, he had to be, well, him."

"But by what you were just saying, doesn't it make it more fun?" Hermione inquired.

"Well…a bit. But it's the principle of the thing." Harry knew he had a point somewhere in there that had made perfect sense before, but was now slipping away from him.

"Yep, definitely Ron's best friend." Hermione concluded.

There comes a time in every plotter's life where they realize that the idea they've come up with didn't work. And they need to regroup and think and surround themselves with other people who wanted to solve the same problem. Many a time, the Slytherins have all sat in their common room and tossed ideas back and forth.

But not this time. Draco had been about to enter the common room when he had been stopped by Pansy and Blaise.

"Ah, the Glitter Conspirators." Draco shook his head in a disappointed fashion. "What do you have to say for yourselves?"

"Shut up, you're the one going around kissing Potter." Pansy snapped at him, her headache was still a problem. "And I heard you were looking for Ginny Weasley. I suppose you don't need the rest of us now that you're such good friend with all the Gryffindors."

"Yeah." Blaise added on quite helpfully.

"I can go around kissing anyone I want." Draco drew himself up to his full height. "I don't remember either one of you having the last name 'Malfoy'."

"If you think—" Pansy began.

"Pansy, Pansy." Draco put a hand on her shoulder. "Look, I know why you're upset. I understand completely."

"You…you do?" Pansy looked perplexed.

"Of course. You're a girl." Draco looked up at the ceiling, looking quite thoughtful for a moment. "Which means you've always wanted to jump me in an empty classroom. So, I have the perfect solution." Pansy frowned and was about to say something but Draco rushed on. "Do you still want to go to the Leaving Ball?" Pansy's jaw dropped.

He's…he's going to ask me…no way!

"Yes." Pansy blushed.

"Great." Draco gave her shoulder an affectionate squeeze before releasing it. "Zabini, you're taking Pansy to the Leaving Ball."

"That was your solution!" Pansy asked incredulously.

"What?" Draco looked as though this was perfectly reasonable. "Zabini doesn't have a date and I'm pretty sure he likes you."

"Hey! I…" Blaise went a furious shade of red.

"With my blessing." Draco smiled generously. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm looking for Ginny Weasley." And with that, he turned on his heel and left the two Slytherins stammering in his wake.

"I can't believe him!" Pansy shrieked. "What did he mean by all that?"

"Come on Pansy." Blaise tugged on her arm. "We've got work to do for the Leaving Ball."

"But—" Pansy started but she saw the look on Blaise's face. "Well, alright. I suppose going to the Leaving Ball together wouldn't be such a bad thing…and we do have lots of work to do."

"That's the spirit." Blaise beamed. He would never doubt Draco's leadership qualities ever again.

Ginny stepped out of the Astronomy tower, which was empty at this time of day because Astronomy was hard to do during the day. She combed some fingers through her red hair and smoothed it so it didn't look messed up. She straightened her collar and made sure that she didn't look like she had just come out of the 'Snogomy Tower', which is what students called it during the day. (And some nights.)

"I thought I'd find you here." Draco Malfoy stepped away from a window he had been standing in front of. "Who were you in there with?"

Ginny grinned but didn't say anything.

"Are you taking them to the Leaving Ball?" Draco walked alongside of her.

"Nah." Ginny shook her head, wrinkling her nose. "He's fun for a snog every now and then but he's not really much fun to talk to."

"Hmm…" Draco made a noncommittal noise. "I don't suppose you've heard—?"

"Yes, I have." Ginny looked down at her feet for a moment. "I've been trying to think of what you should do."

"I've got several diagrams of plans drawn up." Draco started to dig for a paper napkin that he had drawn on but Ginny stopped him.

"No." Ginny shook her head. "Hermione told me what was going on. I don't think this is the time for plans."

"It…isn't?" Draco didn't know what to think of this. Every time was the time for plans. "What's it time for then?"

Ginny looked around conspiratorially and then leaned over and whispered something into Draco's ear. The blonde boy's eyebrows shot up. Then a smirk began to spread across his face.

"I…I think I can manage that." Draco decided after a moment. "What would your mother say, Miss Weasley?"

"Knock 'em dead!" Ginny exclaimed. "You do remember your promise about the dress robes and all that, right?"

"Of course." Draco tapped her nose with one finger. "I've got a day booked at the beauty shop in Hogsmeade just for you and I've picked out new dress robes for you."

"You did?" Ginny's brow furrowed. Then she brightened. "I'm sure you did a good job. Now I just have to decide who to bring as my date."

"Actually…" Draco rubbed his chin craftily. "What if I could promise you a date?"

"With who?" Ginny leaned in interestedly.

"I don't want to ruin the surprise." Draco spoke tauntingly. "Someone that desperately needs to meet someone like you, Miss Weasley."

"Oooooooh." Ginny glared at him, but was still smiling. "Fine, I'm trusting you though. I better not end up with a troll."

"After the advice you just gave me? That would be cruel." Draco told her.

"No." Theodore Nott walked around Draco on his way to class on Monday.

"But Nott, I promise, you'll like it!" Draco turned and put his arm around Nott's shoulders. Nott gave him a look that immediately made him take a step back from Nott. "You'll be the only one there without one."

"I heard Potter turned you down, so it looks like I won't be the only one." Nott spoke scathingly.

"Minor detail, he'll still be my date!" Draco waved his hand dismissively. "Have I ever steered you wrong before?"

"Yes." Nott didn't need to elaborate, nor would he have.

"We-ell," Draco looked defeated for half a moment. "I didn't want to have to do this but…" He pulled a few pictures out of his robes and handed them to Nott, who took hold of them and stopped dead when he saw what they were.

The ferocity of the glare that Nott was now giving Draco made Draco feel like it might be possible to perform Avada Kedavra just by looking at a person. "You…you bastard..." He was almost seething.

Draco just gave him his most charming smile.

"Fine!" Nott practically threw the pictures at Draco's head. And then he turned and stomped off. Draco gathered the pictures together and put them back in his robes. It wasn't his fault that the pictures had been taken, it all had to do with Slytherin tradition.

And Slytherin tradition said that if you slept with a stuffed animal of any kind, you better make damn sure that no one could ever find out about it, let alone get blackmail photos.

Draco strode confidently into a group of Gryffindors who were walking and talking as they went towards class. He smoothed his hair with one hand, even though he knew it was already perfect, and tapped the leader of them on the shoulder.

Harry turned and started to say something, because he was a bit surprised that Draco had just walked up to him after the last time they had talked, but was cut off by the way Draco grabbed his arm and began dragging him off.

"Where are we going?" Harry asked in bewilderment as they went along. "I've got class!"

"Shut up Potter!" Draco didn't say this angrily, more trying to get him to cooperate. "Just come on!" And then he opened the door to an empty classroom and turned around immediately, shutting the door behind Harry.

"Draco…" Harry's brow furrowed for a moment but Draco just ignored him and pressed his mouth against Harry's. The green-eyed boy stiffened in surprise and though he struggled a bit and seemed to want to say something, Draco just ignored him because even through that, Draco could tell he was enjoying it.

Ginny's plan was a very good one.

"It's time to snog him." Ginny whispered conspiratorially.

But even so, he did wish Harry would stop trying to say whatever it was. It wasn't quite in the mood of things. Draco moved his mouth away to attack Harry's neck.

"Draco!" Harry yelped.

"What?" Draco pulled away from him. "Can't a guy just snog you in an empty classroom without you interrupting?"

"That's the thing." Harry looked around. "This classroom isn't empty. This is a first year Charms class." Draco turned around very slowly and saw to his dismay that Harry was not putting him on. There was Professor Flitwick who looked a bit astounded and rows of astonished little faces.

"At least they're learning something." Draco smirked.

"Where were you today?" Hermione questioned Harry over lunch. "You didn't show up for Care of Magical Creatures." Then she glanced over at Ron. "I didn't see Draco either."

"Er…well…" Harry tried to think of something to say as his face grew hot.

"Were you and…and Malfoy," Ron looked a bit pained. "Skipping together?"

"Ron." Hermione spoke warningly.

"I mean…" Ron trailed off a bit. "It's got nothing to do with you, er, liking another guy. That's fine. I mean, I've never had a problem with that kind of thing…not that you can and live in the same house as Fred and George…I'm just saying, it's a bit weird because it's Malfoy and I always thought you hated him."

"Fred and George are gay!" Harry's jaw dropped.

"Goodness, Harry, really." Hermione shook her head at Harry's lack of observation. "Didn't you ever notice that they were a bit…er, close?"

"But they're twins!" Harry interjected.

"Yes, but you don't see Parvati jumping Padma in the Snogomy Tower." Hermione snorted.

"So, do you like Malfoy?" Ron questioned. "Because if you do…I mean, I understand that you er, you know, are capable of making your own decisions," Harry had the funny feeling that Ron had been told what to say by Hermione. "But it's gonna be kind of, well, it might take a little time getting used to it."

"Congratulations, Harry." Ginny slid into the seat next to him. "I heard a bunch of first years got a free show today." Harry went red and tried to hide in his water goblet.

"What happened?" Hermione turned towards Ginny.

"Apparently Draco and Harry showed the Charms class how to charm the pants off each other." Ginny winked and Harry groaned. "Oh, come on Harry, its funny." Hermione burst into laughter and Ron sniggered a bit.

"I know what happened," Hermione tried to smother her laughter with a hand. "That Charms class didn't take place in the regular classroom because of the water everywhere."

"Busted water main?" Ron guessed.

"No, Creevey used some sort of Flood Charm…but they can't work out what it was." Hermione shrugged. "So they hadn't done the counter curse yet."

"How do you know all that?" Harry frowned.

"Head Girl." Hermione reminded him.

"So are you and Malfoy dating now?" Ron inquired, before eating a bit of steak.

"No." Harry shook his head. "And this doesn't mean I'm going to the Leaving Ball with him either."

"Whatever you say." Ginny replied in a disbelieving tone.

"I'm not!" Harry protested indignantly.

The day that the N.E.W.T.s were finally over was a great day indeed. The younger Gryffindors referred to it as the 'Reign of Terror' because Hermione had taken to putting a Silencing Charm on anyone who made too much noise (by inference, anyone breathing too loudly) while she was studying. In the Slytherin classroom, Draco was nursing his hand which had gone numb after writing out so many invitations over the past few weeks and doing his written exams.

The next day was a Hogsmeade day and for the seventh years (including the lowly Hufflepuff ones, amazingly) the Leaving Ball. Draco had actually decided to invite all the seventh years and a few sixth years (including Miss Ginny Weasley who had a delightful time at the beauty shop).

Not only had studying and the testing taken place, but Harry and Draco had a few more rather spontaneous snogging sessions in empty classrooms (they first made quite sure they were completely empty after the Charms' debacle) that while Harry could not quite explain why he was all for it, he did know that it did not count as giving in to Draco's schemes.

I'll show him. He can't get me to do anything.

At the same time, he knew he desperately wanted to go to the Leaving Ball. Ron could not even hear the phrase without going quite red and Hermione seemed a bit gigglier now that N.E.W.T.s was over with. (Though this might be due to hysterics as she was almost positive she really did get question fourteen b wrong.) Not only that, but all the seventh years were talking about it. It was a wonder that none of the teachers had caught on.

(It should be noted that in fact, the teachers did know. They weren't stupid. Most of the teachers had years of teaching the Weasley twins under their belt. They could smell student plots from a mile away. The thing was that the grand Slytherin tradition was practically a school tradition and thus, all Headmasters let it be, as long as everything was kept in the Room of Requirement and things didn't get too out of hand. (What counted as 'too out of hand' wasn't quite clear—for instance, at Lucius Malfoy's Leaving Ball, there was quite a bit of…er, streaking going on. I will not name names, but let's just say a certain Potions' professor may have answered the famous "boxers or briefs?" question at that ball.))

Draco's day had started at eight thirty a.m.

Pansy and Blaise had come into his room and set off Muggle confetti guns. After Draco finally muttered the counter-charm for the Tickling Charm (he had learned it from his second year, when Harry had gotten him with it at the Dueling Club), Pansy and Blaise had tears streaming down their faces from laughing too hard.

There were reasons you didn't sneak up on a Slytherin while they were sleeping.

After dressing for a short trip to Hogsmeade, the three went down to breakfast, Nott in tow, though just enough behind to make sure everyone knew he wasn't walking with them. They all sat at the table together and although most of breakfast consisted of Draco peeking over at the Gryffindor table and preening in between, it was relatively pleasant.

Draco sent Pansy to go relax at the beauty shop with Ginny, feeling that she deserved a break after seven years of being something like a secretary, confidante, and co-conspirator all rolled into one.

"I just have a short shopping list to attend to." Draco told Blaise and Nott, who was still trying to look as though he wasn't with them and was glaring at the world. The short shopping list consisted of practically cleaning out Honeydukes and a dozen or so barrels of pumpkin juice and butter beer from the Three Broomsticks. They bewitched it all to float and to be invisible, even though they were pretty sure Filch was not fooled by the way Draco was walking in front and Blaise and Nott several yards behind him. They still got it up in the Room of Requirement, which was already decorated for that evening.

Most of the rest of the day for Malfoy was spent grooming and whenever he stopped for a break, he would check in on the Slytherins who were diligently spreading out the refreshments and drinks. Pansy would be so pleased when she saw it was already done.

Harry meanwhile, spent most of the day in Hogsmeade with Ron and Hermione, still determined not to give in.

"Oh, Harry." Hermione rolled her eyes. "Don't be stupid, of course you're coming!"

"It's the principle of the thing." Harry said stubbornly.

"If Harry doesn't want to go…" Ron didn't seem to understand what the problem was.

"He does want to. He's just being a boy." Hermione pursed her lips. "What time is it, anyways?"

"Three." Harry had just checked his watch for the millionth time. He wasn't going. He was just checking the time.

"Hmm…" Hermione thought for a bit. "I should probably think about getting back up to the castle soon."

"The Leaving Ball doesn't start until nine! What are you going to do for six hours?" asked Ron, who thought that grooming was an eight letter word starting with 'G'. In other words, he felt that preparations consisted of putting on some dress robes and maybe combing his hair.

"Maybe I'll stay here longer if Harry agrees to stop being silly and just goes and tells Draco that he will be coming tonight." Hermione offered. "Draco is a little sad about this, Harry. He really does like you."

"Likes snogging you." Ron snickered but was cut off when Hermione hit him in the side.

"No." Harry folded his arms.

"No?" Hermione raised her eyebrows. "Why?"

"Because." Harry answered after a bit.

"I'm sick of this, I'm going back up to the castle." Hermione announced. "Where do you want to meet Ron?" Ron looked a bit startled by this.

"Er, um…how about, in the common room?" Ron tried, hoping that he had hit upon the right answer.

"See you in a bit." Hermione smiled and stood on her tip toes to peck Ron on the cheek quickly, and then went off, waving. Ron waved a bit dazedly for a moment before he saw the sullen look on Harry's face.

"You really aren't going to go?" Ron nudged him.

"Would you?" Harry questioned him.

"Well, if I liked Draco as much as you do." Ron answered without thinking and then clamped his hand down on his mouth.

"What does that mean?" Harry turned on his friend. "I didn't say anything about liking Draco."

"If you don't, then what's the problem?" Ron looked very wise for a moment. "Besides, I would go to the Leaving Ball no matter what."

"Because of Hermione?" Harry guessed.

"Actually, I was just thinking there's bound to be loads of food there." Ron admitted sheepishly. "But er, Hermione too."

There was a moment of silence.

"Harry?" Ron licked his lips nervously.


"You won't tell Hermione, will you?"

At nine o' clock, the doors to the Room of Requirement were opened, er, well, to those with invitations, obviously. Nothing worse than having an open party. Hufflepuffs wouldn't completely ruin it, because they were all a bit boring, but Ravenclaws, in the grand tradition of Cho Chang and Luna Lovegood, had a way of making any social gathering suck.

This is exactly when Hermione met up with Ron in the common room. She had gotten her old dress robes lengthened so that they fit her correctly and done her hair (which had taken quite some time, and at one point, Parvati and Lavender's help). Ron was pretty sure his stomach was located in his feet somewhere and that he should discover the counter curse for that, as soon as he could keep his eyes off Hermione, and make his heart stop feeling like it was going to have a heart attack.

Harry was sitting on his bed. He wasn't going. He would go to sleep. That's right. Didn't get too much sleep over the past few days on account of the N.E.W.T.s so now was the perfect time to catch up. He even put his head down on his pillow, before Ginny Weasley, whose hair was perfectly done, her nails were sparkling, and she was wearing brand new lavender dress robes that suited her red hair perfectly, came in.

"What on Earth are you doing?" She asked, her hands on her hips. "Why aren't you ready?"

"I'm not going." Harry told her.

"Yes, Hermione said something about that." Ginny looked as though this had as much to do with her question as the price of tea in China did. "But you are going. Draco doesn't have a backup date you know, he's gambling completely on you."

"Then he sucks at gambling." Harry turned over irritably so he wasn't facing Ginny.

"You better hope I don't suck at gambling because I let Draco find me a date for the Leaving Ball." Ginny sat down on the edge of his bed. "He went through so much trouble to get you as a date too…"

"Well no one asked him to!" Harry sat up angrily. Then he realized he shouldn't be yelling at Ginny just because he was feeling glum. "Sorry, Ginny. Just go down and have fun, okay?"

"Argh." Ginny got up and started to walk out of the room before turning to look at him. "I used to think you were really brave Harry. Now I think you're kind of stupid. If I liked someone and they were waiting for me at a big ball that he invited me to specially, well, I certainly wouldn't be sitting up here and whining about it."

And then she left.

Harry moaned and covered his face with his pillow.

Stupid Leaving Ball.

"It's the most glorious Leaving Ball that ever was." Draco pretended to wipe a tear from his eye. The Room of Requirement had turned into a huge ballroom with tables along one side and green and silver decorations with a huge banner that said, "Slytherins Do Everything In Sevens" (courtesy of the Room of Requirements' strange abilities). Pansy and Blaise were dancing and Bulstrode had volunteered for DJ duty (they had the magical equivalent of a large Muggle stereo system) as no one had asked her to the Leaving Ball.

Hermione and Ron were also dancing, though Ron hadn't quite the hang of dancing…ever, so there was a lot of wincing on Hermione's part, but mostly she was enjoying herself.

"Draco." Ginny tugged on the sleeve of his black dress robes. "Where's my date?"

"Ah, Ginny, let me just direct you to him." Draco took her hand and kindly led her over to a row of chairs that a few of the seventh years were sitting in, talking amiably with each other. He led her to the very end where Nott was sitting all alone and had a look on his face that suggested anyone who sat next to him was going to discover that their chair was actually made of acid.

Nott didn't even look at Draco and Ginny.

"Nott, this is Ginny Weasley." Draco introduced them. "Ginny, this is Theodore Nott." Nott looked up, his mouth opened to let out an insult, but he stopped short and choked when he focused on Ginny. His eyes bugged out a bit and Draco let himself smirk triumphantly. It was hard being right all the time. "I'm sure you two will get along famously. Play nice Miss Weasley." Ginny gave a wicked giggle and then Draco left the two of them.

But as fun as the Leaving Ball was and the whole thing about it being his ball was very satisfying to his over inflated Slytherin ego, there was something missing. A piece of the puzzle that had not quite fit in.

Where is Potter?

It couldn't be the perfect ball until it happened!

Many people would just shrug their shoulders and try to make the best of things. Those people are pushovers and their house is Hufflepuff.

Charms are a very complicated business and the nature of which and why exactly Charms work at all is an area of study so advanced that whatever classes you can take on it usually end in the word 'theory.' There's many theories about charms and rules about charms that already exist and even ones that don't.

One rule, or, shall we say, guideline of Charms has something to do with whether or not a certain charm works on people. Or, whether or not you should perform it on people. It might have bad effects and even if it didn't, no one appreciate you performing the charm on them. It was a bit of a difficult charm, depending on who you were. Some people were quite bad at it, because they had a hard time focusing on exactly what they wanted, but Draco had never had any trouble in that area and it had taken exactly three tries to do it.

Three tries to master the Summoning Charm.

No, it didn't work.

It seemed like it might though. After all, it was about time for the big ending, where everything came together! It would have been hilarious to hear "Accio Potter!" and Harry come immediately down to the Room of Requirement. This is what we call 'suspenseful build up'.

No, instead, the hours ticked slowly past. It was to end at one and at eleven thirty, Draco was moping on a chair with a glass of butter beer, barely even noting Ginny and Nott, making out behind a rather convenient curtain. (And by 'barely noting' I mean, he only got three secret blackmail photos.) Hermione had come by and patted him on the back and even offered to dance with him, but he waved her off. Pansy and Blaise discussed funny pranks they could pull in the now empty common rooms now that they had the perfect distraction, but mostly they just wanted to cheer him up.

A slow song came on and Blaise (he assumed because he didn't look up) sat down next to him. Draco sighed melodramatically and thought about how he wouldn't get another chance to get Potter to go on a date with him. This was it. This was supposed to be the big night.

"Well, aren't you going to ask me to dance?" Blaise questioned. Except of course, that it wasn't Blaise. It was Harry.

How was that for suspenseful build up?

"What the—!" Draco jumped a bit when he realized he was sitting next to the Gryffindor object of his affection. Then he straightened up a bit. "Took you long enough, didn't it, Potter? Nice to see that after seven years of education you still can't read an invitation properly."

"I was busy being an idiot." Harry grinned. Then he looked a bit more serious. "That's what everyone was telling me. It just took me a bit to catch on."

"Was it Granger or Ginny that set you straight?" Draco guessed immediately.

"Nah, it was Ron." Harry stretched his arms out a bit.

"Weasley?" Draco looked incredulous. "Ronald 'I-Can't-Tell-That-Granger's-Been-After-Me-For-Seven-Years' Weasley?"

"Yeah." Harry nodded. "He said that if I didn't like you, I wouldn't have a problem with coming. And he was right. It's only because I did like you. If I didn't like you, I would have gone with Hermione and Ron the minute we all had invitations."

"Let me get this straight," Draco's brow furrowed. "You liking me, deterred you from coming as my date?"

"Something like that." Harry agreed.

"No wonder Voldemort wanted to kill you." Draco sympathized with the dead dark wizard for a moment. "Now come on." Draco stood up.

"What?" Harry looked confused.

"It's my bloody ball and I want to dance." Draco offered his hand towards the green-eyed boy, who took it with a smile. Everybody was laughing (or, as in the case of Ginny Weasley and Theodore Nott, snogging) and having a great time.

The Leaving Ball really was brilliant that year.

And, in case you were wondering, the glitter never fully came out of Gryffindor tower. Fifty years later, Gryffindors would wake up and be a bit glittery. But then, Slytherins really were good at wreaking havoc.

And also, terrific at throwing balls.

This is sooooooo long. I think I wrote this partly out of watching the Harry Potter movies and partly because I love Draco! And Harry! And Nott! And pretty much everyone. It's okay if no one else likes this story, because it was so much fun to write! And I know that Teresa was dying to hear the rest of it, since she only got to read the first twenty pages. (Hope she likes it!) Cheers!