Disclaimer, Author's Notes, & Warnings: SEE PROLOGUE
'Thoughts or Emphasis'
Chapter Eighteen – A Halloween Disaster, So what else is new?
As with all things, the students were fully ready to enjoy the Halloween Holiday at the end of October. Harry was a little wary about this day because Voldemort always has a tendency to do something on this day. He only hoped that no one would be affected by the potential attack at the school, but he just didn't trust that Dark Bastard any further than he could toss him. That day didn't go too well in their classes before the feast either.
Severus saw first hand the evidence of Harry's meddling with the cauldrons belonging to the two young men in the sixth year class. Harry and Draco's were about the only ones that survived intact. "Ten points to Slytherin for protecting their potions correctly."
Hermione had the audacity to demand, "Just how did they know the correct methods to protect their cauldrons when you've never taught the spells for it."
"Yeah," Ron agreed and angrily spat out. "They must have cheated!"
"If you two wish to have detention today, just continue on with your accusations," Professor Snape stated. "Oh and ten points from Gryffindor for you cheek."
Hermione was livid and Ron was turning as red his hair. It looked like he was about to explode, but for some odd reason Neville's potion was also one of the ones that succeeded in being completed properly. He had walked up to the Professor's desk to place his finished potion on it.
The Potions Master raised his eyebrows at the audacity of this Gryffindor, but he only noted that the colour was slightly off. "Mr. Longbottom, next time ensure that you slice roots more evenly and slightly thinner. I believe you will be happier with the result. This potion can still used as it is, but with a minor modification. Can you tell me what modification you need to do in order to make it so?"
Neville looked at the man and suppressed his shudder of fear, as being around that man had never made him comfortable. He looked at the potion and then answered the question with a sure tone. "Another sliver of the Dragon-Weed root and a very small pinch of course Sugar Cane," he said.
Again the Professor was surprised, but he didn't let it show. "You may clean up and go," the Potions Master said. "Two foot essay on the correction you've suggested and another two feet on how the potion can be altered further for another species."
"Which species?" Neville asked, not wanting to turn in something that the Potions Master did not want.
"Surprise me," the man said and then he turned to the other students and barked out. "The rest of you that have not successfully completed this potion will be making it up to this coming Saturday at 8am. No exceptions, be here or you will fail this portion of your class. That does include you Miss Granger, as your potion is in about the same state as you boyfriend's. Now all of you clean up and leave."
There were grumblings among the students and most felt that it was the Gryffindors' fault because they decided to throw the ingredients to Draco's and Potter's cauldron. A couple had been caught off guard, but this was different. Whatever was sent to the boys' cauldrons was immediately 'returned to sender' and into their own cauldrons.
It was as though the boys' cauldrons could not accept anything that hadn't been rendered or added by either Harry or Draco. Everyone could see that they had pooled their work and each had shared in the rendering and preparation for the ingredients in their potion. They were able to add ingredients to each others cauldrons and that was how they were able to complete what they needed to do in order to finish it on time.
There were about only five students in the class that had completed their potions, to which Severus had already graded based on how they all kept their cool and the final results. He was surprised by Longbottom, but the other was Amanda Bones. Hers was perfect and there wasn't anything that he could do about that.
The last one belonged Blaise Zabini and he had to do the same homework as Longbottom, Bones, Potter and Malfoy, which was to find the specific modifications to this potion in order to be able to administer it to another species. They didn't know, but there were infinite modifications and numerous species that this potion could be adapted to.
So when their Professor said, "Surprise me." He meant it because he was collecting this information for a paper he was in the process of writing. He wanted to list the species and species specific modifications for this potion. He would, of course, acknowledge any student who contributed a new species and the species specific modifications, but it's not like they would know about until it had been written.
All of the other students had detention because their cauldrons either melted or their potions had absolutely flopped. None of them were happy that they now had to repeat this class so early on a Saturday morning, but at least it wasn't after the last bell of today. They were all anxious for the Halloween Feast.
They never knew that Severus had a sweet tooth and never wanted to miss the Halloween Feasts. He's never give a detention during any of the Holiday type feasts that the school was scheduled to give. He just never showed his pleasure during them or else it could be seen as a weakness. Plus he didn't want to become a target to sweetened pranks from any of the students. Although he was sure that the Weasley twins suspected that he had yen for sweets.
At the last bell of classes the students all rushed to their rooms to put away the things that they didn't want and others only held onto the work that they were planning to complete after the Feast. Many were racing to the Great Hall to see if some pre-treats were set out. Others wanted to see if the charms and baubles that they had made in Transfiguration and Charms Class were set up on display.
The first years had never seen such a display of magics, other then the ghosts or portraits and paintings in the classes, dorms and corridors. This was a display of frivolous magics and most couldn't wait to see how the school or Great Hall would be decorated for the Yule season.
Soon the Great Hall was filled with eager young things waiting for the evening feast to begin. Even some of the Professors…(whispered undertone… Snape) were just as eager to get the candies, toffees and chocolates that have become part of the Festival of Spirits. It was unfortunate that the original Pagan celebrations were taken over by the Muggle version at the school, but it was still fun.
Muggles, Muggleborn and Muggle-raised did not know that after all of their celebrations were done and they were tucked away safely in their beds. There was another more subtle celebration that took place in several secluded rooms of the school. The Purebloods and Wizard-raised celebrated in their own fashion the magical form of the Festival of the Spirits.
However there was still the Dark Lord's plans to contend with before all of that and Voldemort was very eager to have this happen. It was his own tradition and he definitely couldn't leave even one year of Harry's education alone. This year he had something slightly and delightfully (in his own mind) different planned. 'Hopefully,' he thought. 'The little shits in that bloody school will piss their collective pants at the evil that I can do.'
"PETTIGREW," he shouted, calling for the betraying rat of a man to come before him. He watched that fat little man scurry and scramble towards him with a poor attempt to kiss the hem of his robes. He booted him in the face and stated, "Don't bother! Tell me, has everything been set up and ready for their pitiful Feast."
"Yeth, By Loord," he slurred out due to his broking nose. He was used to it, but this was the third time in the past month that the Dark Lord had booted him, period. Usually he was quicker at turning away so that he wouldn't be booted in the face, but he was just not lucky today.
Voldemort grinned evilly in anticipation to the outcome of his plans. He didn't include his Potions Master in this because that man had to act naturally to the events. His only hope was that no one would realize how it was done. He had another little spy in the school, but this time the person was un-Marked, but completely loyal to him.
"Perfect," he said. "Make sure that I get the memories from our little spy. I want to view them as soon as possible."
"Yeth, By Loord," Pettigrew said. He waited until the Dark Lord had instructed all of the other Death Eaters to attack a couple of Muggle Suburbs and then left when they were all dismissed.
The Dark Lord was anticipating on sleeping well after he viewed the panic that was scheduled to be caused in his name at his old school and in those awful card-board Muggle neighborhoods.
Cackling periodically, he waited not quite patiently, but he waited for the results.
The "little" spy in the school was ready for the event to occur. They had ensured that the Dark Lord's plan would go off without a hitch. It was tricky business to re-charm these blasted things, but in the end the camera-like charms and the small pensieve were ready to record the upcoming events in Hogwarts' Great Hall.
The students were all in the Great Hall were waiting through Dumbledore's somewhat lengthy speech.
"Children and Professors," he paused briefly, getting their attention. "Once more the Festival of Spirits is upon us. We give thanks to those that have passed on before us…" blah, blah, blah…
He gave some points for beginning accomplishments and student improvements, which embarrassed the hell out of the ones he named in the Hall. They were not expecting that. He also stated that some students had been disciplined for entering the Forbidden Forest. Therefore he cautioned all once more that the Forest was not a friendly place. The next time a student was caught where they were not supposed to be, specifically without a teacher's written authorization, they would be suspended for the period of one week away from the school.
None of the Professors had been notified of that, but once something like this is mentioned in the Great Hall, no matter the occasion, then it somehow becomes a school by-law for the remainder of the year. The other Professors were noticing an increasing number of these, as the Headmaster was prone to babbling and then, suddenly adding a 'New Rule' in the school's policies.
His speech was nearing the end and everyone was almost ready to hex the man for it.
"…in conclusion, let the Feast begin." He said calling forth the special Halloween meal filled with candies and pies. There were mountains of lollypops, piles of chocolate, licorice of many rainbow colours and all sorts of candy that were mostly found in the Wizarding World.
Cream pies filled the spaces in between with ice-cream treats in ever-chilled bowls, to prevent melting. Tarts and mini-pies were intermixed with cookies and deserts of all kinds. Most of the students were ready for this, as they had asked their parents for anti-sickness potions, in case they ate too much.
The Potions Master had planned for this and made the thirds students years and up make the anti-nausea potion for the infirmary. Of course he claimed that it was a test for all the years and the older students had to create from memory. That was a little tricky, but he was pleased when many turned out acceptable potions.
What they were not ready for was when the clock struck the 19th hour or 7:00pm for you non 24 hour clock folks!
By the seventh bell of the hour and the final gong of the Great Clock, most of the carved pumpkin ornaments, with evil grins and glowing smiles, hovering in the air with charms… EXPLODED IN THE AIR!
Squishing sounds were heard. Drips of slime and seeds were felt as they landed in the student's hair and faces. Several squishy, slurpy thuds were heard, as pumpkin carcasses landed in the plates of many students. These students were most of the known 'Blood Traitors', 'Muggle-Raised', and 'Mud-Bloods' of the school.
Once the goop was removed from their collective faces, the first one to realize that what they were seeing began to scream and shriek in sheer terror. They were looking at the severed head of one of their parents. That set off the rest of the students, as many were looking at what had landed in their plates. Terror and tears were the biggest reactions and many more were just panicking and running from the tables trying to head for the doors of the Great Hall.
The heads looked like they had been removed from the body for a while and preserved until this day, when all the spells holding it together collapsed and the facial features began to melt. Others slowly realized that some of the gook that landed on them was actually blood from the exploding pumpkins.
In front of Draco was the head of his beautiful mother. "I don't believe it," he shouted. "No, no, NOOOOOOO!" Tears started to fall and he turned towards Harry, burying his face in the strong shoulder of his significant other. His tears staining robes of the young man he loves.
Harry was soon assaulted by another clinging form. It was his ward, as the boy noticed the 'head' that was in front of one of his guardians belonged to his Grandmother. "It's not true," he whispered tearfully. "It's not really Gran, is it?"
Harry just gathered them in his arms and held them. He anchored himself with them, preventing them from leaving his side. He then used his 'Tinker Sight' to see what he could see and then he sighed in relief.
"It is for some of them," he whispered sadly to the ones holding him and some of the others at his House table. "Not for us and not for your friend Rose. I'd have to look at all of them to know, but the one in front of us is actually a 'Polyjuiced' pig's head."
The Headmaster was able to calm most of the students and usher them out of the Great Hall. There were some that refused to leave, but that was understandable as it was their parent's decapitated head that they were staring at and crying hysterically over.
Draco waited until most of the students had left. He was disgusted at the thought that some of these were actually real. He stood up suddenly causing the remaining Professors and students to look at him. "This is unacceptable," he said.
Harry stood up and nodded. Coba was still wrapped around him, waiting to see what they would do. Draco turned to Harry and asked, "Can you unmask the fakes?"
"Yes," the ex-Gryffindor said. He gently moved Coba into the arms of his other guardian and moved to the front of the Slytherin table. He chanted a few hissing words and the heads that were fakes were glowing in pink. A few more Parseltongue words that caused many people to shudder also made the glowing heads revert back to their original porcine form. Then he moved onto the next table and the next, until there all the fakes were revealed and there were only 7 real human heads remaining.
"That's the best that I can do," he said.
He looked at the remaining students in the Hall with an air of sadness for them. There were some that were confused about why the head in front of them did not change like the others. Harry turned his saddened eyes to the Professors that had watched his progress.
"Those ones are real," he told them sadly, walking back to his table where Coba and Draco were waiting for him.
Coba's friends had crowded around Rose, while he was with Harry and Draco. "Can I stay with you guys tonight? Can my friends come too?"
Draco nodded, it was his room and it was the biggest in the Slytherin dorms, so there was extra space for them all. It wasn't like they couldn't use magic to accommodate all of them. "Of course you can. Why don't you go and collect them?"
Coba grinned at the thought of getting his friends together in a safe place. "Rose," he said.
She stared at the pig's head that was once her own mother's. "I don't understand," she said looking at them with lost eyes.
"Draco said we can stay with him and Harry tonight," Coba said. "All of us. Just grab whatever kit you have here and let's go. We'll send a house-elf to get your sleeping things."
Nazir and Arianna agreed, picking up their stuff and Rose's too.
They looked at the other students and noticed that those whose parents actually turned out to be pigs' heads were being escorted to the infirmary for calming potions. The seven remaining were being taken by their Heads of House to a secluded office or room in order to privately try to 'Call Home' or get in contact with someone who'd know what happened.
Harry and Draco were waiting for Coba and his friends at the doors to the Great Hall. Remus walked up to them and asked, "Harry could you please stay behind?"
"Why?" He asked, but then he looked in the direction of the Gryffindor table that Remus was facing. Hermione was crying and looking really lost. "Ron left her?"
"Yes," his honorary Godfather said. "He left after he threw up. His Mum was one of the ones that turned back into a pig."
"All right," Harry said. "You guys go on ahead and don't forget to wash up." He hugged Draco and whispered, "I shouldn't be too long."
Draco nodded and then he prodded the first years gently to get them to leave the Great Hall so that the others could be taken care of.
Harry walked over to the Gryffindor table and 'Scourgified' the area around Hermione, plus her clothes. "Hermione," he said gently.
She turned her tear filled eyes to look into his compassionate ones. She didn't see pity, she saw understanding and right now it didn't matter what colour his robes were. "Harry," she choked out, reaching tentatively towards him. "Why?"
"I don't know," he said. He reached to her and hugged her while she cried fresh tears for her loss. "The Order had better have an explanation," he said in the direction of the Headmaster, who was coming to see them. "I thought that her parents were protected."
Remus was there to keep an eye out on them, as other Professors were handling the other students whose parents' heads were still on the dining tables. He waited until the Headmaster arrived. "Albus," he said. "What is going on? Didn't you get anything from…"
The Headmaster held up his hand to stall him. "Miss Granger," he addressed the distressed Gryffindor. "I will be getting to the bottom of this, I promise you. I'm about to go to my office, would you…"
"We're going too," she said. "You had better not hide anything from me." She was now letting her anger at the situation control her, but it was a step in the right direction.
"Very well," the old man said.
Meanwhile, Draco had four little ones that were fussing and settling in his rooms. "Why don't you girls use our private loo first and get changed? Boys you can go to the main ones in the hall or wait your turn."
"We'll wait," Coba said and Nazir nodded his agreement. They didn't want to wander about in the corridors of the Slytherin House, not without some form of protection. They were not stupid.
Draco returned the nod and then he shrank his bed, that he shared with Harry, to tuck it away safely. He pulled out the one that was supposed to belong to Harry, but since they shared the other, they kept the extra in case of an emergency.
He took the mattress from the unused bed, enlarged it to a Super King Size. Then he duplicated it and performed an old sewing spell that sheared the mattress into three equal, but smaller pieces. As with all things magical, there was always the chance to transfigure something or alter, but sometimes there was a price for it.
In this case the mattresses were slightly smaller then a normal Double Size and they wouldn't likely last any another alteration, but because of the way he performed the spell. They were also slightly poofier and more comfortable then just taking a normal mattress and setting it on the floor.
"We'll keep these ones from now on," he said, as he finished his second set of three. "There's one for each of us."
The girl's had just returned and the boys were gathering their things for their turn in the private loo, when Harry walked in. He just walked over to Draco and hugged him, holding on to him.
Draco motioned the boys to continue on. He shooed the girls to continue about their business. As soon as he could he turned his attention to Harry.
"Are you all right?" He asked. The dark haired teen just shook his head and then he shuddered, as though he had learnt something very bad, indeed.
Harry sighed and just said, "I didn't think I would be surprised at just how manipulative that old man was. I really shouldn't have been that surprised. I'll tell you about it later. I promise."
Draco nodded and soon Harry turned around to look at the changes in the room. "I never had a sleepover as a kid, unless you want to count the times we were all forced to sleep in the Great Hall."
"Poor little Potty," Draco said mockingly, but not in any way to hurt his love. "You were deprived. There's nothing much to a sleepover anyway, other than the chance to stay up late gossiping, eating lots of sugar and having pillow fights."
Harry just shook his head and lightly shoved Draco away, saying fondly, "Prat."
Draco just laughed and then changed into his kitten form and took a swipe at Harry. Harry was not one to let the challenge go unanswered. He changed and soon they were tumbling all over one of the mattresses in the room.
The girls were looking at them in wonder. This was the first time that they had seen Animagusi up close. They were sitting too far away on September 1st to see anything at the time, although Nazir and Coba did tell them about it.
"Oh look," Arianna said. "They're so cute."
"Aw," Rose echoed just the same. She had an equal fascination with all things cute and fluffy. "Aren't they adorable?"
"Geez," Nazir said to Coba. "It's like they've never seen kittens before." Coba just laughed and agreed.
"Is anyone hungry?" Coba asked.
He received several agreements and so he called in his house-elf, Bobbin, to get them something to eat. The food came and was placed on the low table that Draco had conjured, while Harry was in the washroom getting changed.
Once Draco was in his own sleepwear, he joined the kids at the table and they all continued their evening meal. There was less candy on the table, but that was because Winky was the one who made sure that they had something healthy, as well as fun to eat.
They all ate their candy, had their pillow fight, which is a requirement for many sleepovers. Then when they had settled down to talk about things because Rose had been confused about why her mother's head was there.
"I'm not a muggle-born and my family is certainly not known to be blood traitors," she said. "Why would her head be a part of this?"
Arianna had an idea that it may have had something to do the corresponding Howlers that she and her mother had been exchanging ever since Rose chose to be a part of the Ravenclaw House instead of Slytherin.
"Rose," she said. "What about the 'Howlers'?"
"What are Howlers?" Coba asked, shocking all of his friends and even his guardians.
Harry looked over at Draco and said, "Well it's not like we will ever act like Mrs. Weasley and send him those things."
Draco almost looked cross-eyed at that statement, but it was true that he would never consider doing such a humiliating thing. His own parents never did and not many of the Slytherin parents did either. It was a façade though because most Slytherins they hide their anger until it could be dealt with personally. Unfortunately, that kind of anger is known to fester.
"No," he said. "I certainly wouldn't do that either."
Coba was a little annoyed because no one told him what they were. "Well," he said getting their attention. "What are they?"
"I guess that the best description is a vocal recording that screams at you," Harry said. "But it's a paper letter spelled to do that. I never had to send one."
"I never received one," Draco said. "My father said it would be undignified to send or receive one."
"Oh," Coba said. "But what does Arianna mean about Howlers with you, Rose?"
Rose looked pained, but told them. "My mom didn't like the fact that I wasn't sorted into Slytherin. She wanted me there to follow Pansy's footsteps in order to snag an acceptable betrothal match, like the one my cousin has with Draco."
Draco blinked at that and said, "What? Does your mother really believe that Pansy and I have betrothal contract?"
Harry looked at the blond Slytherin, wondering what was going on. He asked, "What's a betrothal contract?"
"Geez, you were deprived," Draco exclaimed. He really didn't want to explain the betrothal contract system of the Wizarding World, but it looked like he had to. "It's a marriage contract that is signed by your parents, agreeing to align their family with another. When you're older, around sixteen or seventeen, the contract can be reviewed and by mutual decision nullified or re-signed by the named parties within. If one party wants to sign, but the other doesn't, then the family that doesn't want it has to pay compensation for a breach of contract."
"Did you have a contract like that set up for you?" Harry asked his dragon, slightly worried about what that would mean.
"No," Draco said. "I asked my mother this summer and a contract of this nature has to be signed by both parents without coercion and she never signed one. My father didn't push for it either. When we went to Gringotts to settle the accounts this year, I made sure that there was nothing sitting in the vaults regarding anything of that nature."
"Can a contract of that nature be for anyone?" Harry asked curious about same sex pairs. "I mean are they only for a man and woman or can they be for same sex pairs?"
"Well, let me think," Draco said. "The only time that I heard anything about a same sex contract of this kind had occurred because the Healer made a mistake about the sex of the baby. When the time came the girls agreed to not become betrothed to one another."
"Could they have if they wanted to?" Coba asked. He was curious about that because in the muggle world in looked there was more female to female couples in the homosexual community that he knew about in his city.
"I suppose they could have," Draco said. "They could have gotten pregnant by other means. There are different methods for that to occur in the Wizarding World through spells and potions, but I don't that is an appropriate subject to discuss at this point in your lives."
The little ones agreed because they didn't really want to know about such things. They wanted to have fun, like they're supposed to and talk of betrothals was too serious an issue for right now.
The older years didn't have trouble bedding the little ones down, as they made sure that they were tuckered out from an exhaustive pillow war. Harry lay next to Draco and basically wrapped his arms around the blond in order to comfort the shakes that the other youth was feeling.
Draco's thoughts returned to his reaction of seeing his mother's decapitated head and he was still shaking because of it. He turned into the arms of the one that held him and basically tried to hide under the larger frame.
He did notice that sometimes at night, Harry's body was longer and broader in the shoulders. He wasn't about to bring it up. It was obvious that the Boy-Who-Lived still had to maintain a weaker image for the Wizarding World. He was secretly glad that it wasn't so.
"Harry," he whispered. "Can you tell me what happened to Granger's parents?"
The dark-haired youth sighed. Then he slowly explained that Hermione's parents had been each kidnapped at different times. The Order never knew and neither did her father, as apparently her mother was caught first.
"Polyjuice," he said. "Her father knew nothing had changed because of polyjuice. Neither did the Order, until her father was taken too and by then it was too late. They were taken on the 23rd of last month and the Headmaster didn't even let her know. No hints, no notes, nothing from him to let her know. He claims that he didn't want her to be too upset as to be unable to complete her school work."
He chuckled and then told Draco that she hexed the meddling old man, but good. "His glasses are now tinted dark. He can't see through them and his damnable twinkle is evil looking now," he said chuckling. "His trademark sparkles of white have changed to other colours, none of which make anyone feel good. He'll lose the trust from the students because of it."
Draco chuckled too. "That's a bloody good hex," he commented. "I wonder where she found it."
"She probably made it up," Harry said. "She's brilliant and understands the meanings of words. If she never followed the rules like she feels she must, then she'd be quite the troublemaker."
The two slowly fell asleep whispering about this and that. They moved from topic to topic and they could even hear the first years having their own hushed conversations. It was obvious to both of them that Rose was going to have problems with her family, if that family continued to believe that Pansy was a proper young lady, when in fact she was known as the slut of Slytherin.
Such stories were never told outside of the school. Therefore Rose's parents only thought that they knew best, when they instructed the young girl to follow the footsteps of her older cousin. Of course, they never once asked her how she felt about it and when Rose brought it up, they ignored her concerns.
Harry knew that there had to be a way for Pansy's less than stellar activities to make news outside of the school. The question was how? What would be the best possible way to make it known, that the Slytherin girl was not what she portrayed to her own family.
He looked at the one that he loved and then thought, 'Severus and Remus will know the best legal way to expose her lies. Draco says that they have no contract and I believe him. So let's see if that is reason enough to challenge her claims.'
Draco drew a shuddering sigh, breathing the scent of his chosen one. He rolled in closer and fell asleep. He had a plan and that was enough to settle him. Harry sighed too and was soon sleeping soundly to the whispers of four intrepid youths making their own plots and plans for that sixth year female Slytherin prefect.