Once Upon a Hogwarts - Chapter Thirty-One
By Lily in a Pond
Disclaimer: If you're actually reading this, be proud to know that someday you'll be a lawyer and reading stuff like this for money. Anyway, I don't own Harry Potter. (Wish I did, the amount of money gathered from the seventh book alone would be enough to keep me and my future prodigy comfortable.)
A/N - ARGH, DH totally screwed this story up…well, at least I can say it's completely AU now…
On a more serious note, this is the last chapter. I know I've said there will be an epilogue, but I just can't think of a better place to end this story but here. So, without further ado, the last and final chapter of Once Upon a Hogwarts.
Thanks to all the reviewers who've kindly taken the time to write down their thoughts on this story! You've been just wonderful to me and I appreciate it so much. Everyone gets cake!
The month flew by in a flurry. Every day, new decorations were put on the castle's walls, floors, and ceiling. Girls were once again walking in packs, giggling every time someone mentioned a boy's name. Boys were looking furtively around, looking away and blushing whenever a girl returned his gaze. The house-elves were serving warm, delicious food, and many girls, reminiscent of Fleur Delacour, and Theodore Nott, reminiscent of a gay man, had sent in a complaint to Professor McGonagall asking for the removal of calorie-laden foods such as turkey and corn chowder. (Professor McGonagall had rejected the two petitions.) The band had been booked, and Hagrid, of all people, had managed to convince Celestina Warbleck to sing at the ball even though she had been previously busy for the evening. The house-elves had been put to work pruning the rose bushes in Hogwarts' gardens to perfect ovals. Rumor was that Professor McGonagall was going to set up a special snogging area there. The dress shops at Hogsmeade had nearly been ransacked as one hundred and fifty people, thirty demanding custom-made robes, stampeded into their shops. Everything had been inspected on arrival, polished till luster, and placed in the most perfect spot.
Everything was ready.
December twentieth dawned fresh and clear. Harry awoke to the sound of birds chirping. Putting his glasses on, he peered out of the window, hoping for snow, and gasped. Overnight, snow had fallen, and now, Hogwarts was covered with a light layer of sparkling snow. The endless mass of blinding white hurt Harry's eyes and he withdrew from the window.
"Ron." He prodded the snoring boy with his foot. "Ron, wake up!"
Harry sighed. "Seamus, wake up!" he whispered to the boy on Ron's other side. "Seamus, it snowed!"
"…………The word of the day is 'legs.' Let's go back to my room and spread the word………" Seamus turned over onto his side. Harry stifled a horrified scream.
A red blur flew into the dormitory. "HARRY! RON! IT SNOWED OVERNIGHT!"
Ron woke up with a start. "Good morning to you, too, Ginny," he croaked grumpily. Ginny dismissed the comment.
"It snowed overnight, it snowed overnight, it snowed overnight! Oh, isn't this just perfect for the ball! We could have a beautiful winter wonderland with all the snow sprinkling outside and the windows covered in frost…icicles dripping down from the ceiling…and a billowing mass of whirling snow everywhere…"
"That's very nice and all, Ginny, but why are you here in our dormitory at five in the morning? It's a goddamn Saturday," Dean Thomas said. "If you look at it logistically, the ball ends at two, and everybody's going to go to the Ravenclaw after-party - we would've spent a full twenty-four hours on our feet!"
Seamus gave up trying to count on his fingers. "How does that work?"
Dean rolled his eyes. "We wake at five today. We sleep at five tomorrow."
"I envy Neville," came Ron's muffled voice from his covers. "He didn't hear you come into the room screaming and kicking up a mess, he didn't hear the very interesting speech about hours of sleep, and he can't hear me yelling my head off!"
"IT SNOWED!" Hermione screamed as she ran into the dormitory. She yanked Ron out of his bed and starting dancing merrily around the room with him. Harry cocked his head to the side.
"I feel so loved."
"Aw," Ginny said and gave him a hug.
"Great," Seamus said. "Now can you hug and dance somewhere else? So we can be awake for twenty-three hours?"
"Nice math work," Dean complimented.
"Thank you," Seamus smiled, looking touched someone had acknowledged his brain's functionality.
"Well, I guess we should get back to our dormitory now," Hermione said, letting go of Ron's hands. "It wasn't very fair waking all of you up like that and besides, Parvati and Lavender's day of 'fun' - " she grimaced. " - is scheduled to start at eight, sharp. We should really get some sleep before all that goop is pasted on our faces…"
"Yeah, we'll get out of here before Dean and Seamus blow a capillary or two," Ginny smirked. "Ron, I hope Mum bought you nice dress robes this time," she laughed, running out of the dormitory and closing the door, just as a pillow hit it with a thunk.
"Stupid she-weasel," Ron muttered, sinking back into his covers. Seeing the boys' surprised looks, he shrugged. "If Malfoy can use it with success, so can I."
"She's your sister," Harry said.
"Yeah, well, that only adds to the joy…"
"BOO!" Pansy Parkinson yelled. Draco shot up straight in his bed.
"ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH - !"
"Shut it, ferret!" Blaise threw a pillow forcefully in Draco's direction, knocking the normally well-groomed blond back into his bed. "Pansy, get out, people are trying to sleep here!"
"Pish-posh!" Pansy sniffed. "Anyway, Draco, an owl delivered an early Christmas present from your mum last night to my dormitory." She wrinkled her nose in disdain. "I think she's trying to set us up or something…"
Draco groggily reached out for the package without opening his eyes. Feeling something soft, he grabbed it.
There was silence. And then -
Theo opened his eyes to see Pansy chasing Draco around the dormitory, smacking him with pillows and screaming bloody murder.
"What is the cause of this dreadful commotion at five freaking thirty in the morning?" Blaise moaned, pulling his covers over his head as Draco slipped on a pair of boxers Blaise had left on the floor and fell down in a heap on the floor. Pansy cackled triumphantly and beat him savagely with the pillow. "Pansy, didn't I tell you to get out?"
"I - don't - care!" Pansy laughed in between blows.
"They say Slytherins have insanity in their blood," Morag MacDougal rasped from the last bed on the right, reaching blindly for his water. "That's just been proven."
Theo sighed. "Pansy, Draco, what happened?"
"He groped me," Pansy yelled, pointing to her chest.
"Yeah, so? When people grope me, I don't complain," Blaise said.
"That's because you're a man-whore," Draco, Pansy, Theo, and Morag said at the same time.
Blaise raised his eyebrows. "Hey, Pansykins," he said innocently, "do you know Draco's looking up your skirt?"
Draco's mouth opened and closed as he stared in shock at Blaise. "Oh, no you didn't…you TRAITOR, I'm going to kill you - EEP! Pansy, not the nails! No, not the nails! Noooooooo!"
At precisely six o'clock in the morning on December twentieth, a loud explosion was heard from the girls' dormitories in Ravenclaw Tower.
Mandy Brocklehurst was sitting in a rocking chair, giggling manically as she checked off a list written on, strangely enough, legal paper instead of parchment or Muggle binder paper. Beside her, her ivy wand was smoking slightly.
"Patent, check, infomercial, check, interviews, check, security measures - " here she let out a wild hyena laugh " - product manuals, check, actual product, check, contact information, check, established Floo connection, check…"
As Mandy continued checking off her list, the girls in her dormitory slumbered on. Over the past two months, the girls in the Ravenclaw dormitory and the boys in the Slytherin dormitory had all achieved immunity to loud explosive sounds coming from Mandy or Blaise's rooms. Either that or all of them were now deaf.
"This little bombshell is going to fetch me a pretty penny," Mandy snickered quietly. "Oh, Mandy, you sly dog!" As the sun rose and morning came, the girls continued sleeping and Mandy continued cackling.
The gloomy, tired looks on the students' faces at breakfast contrasted greatly with the glittering snow gently falling down. Except for the Hufflepuffs, nearly everyone that morning wore the same withered expression.
"I hate you two," Ron muttered as Hermione and Ginny sat down next to him. "After you left, none of us could fall back asleep, so we just laid around and played Exploding Snap until seven."
Hermione's eyes were half closed as she listened to Ron. "Lavender and Parvati forced me to put on a facial mask before heading down to breakfast just now."
"Same here," said Ginny.
"How come we can't see it?" Harry asked dully.
"It's been Disillusioned. It's simply too ugly for the naked eye to see," Hermione said, dunking her head in maple syrup. Ginny yanked her out. "…Sorry, did something happen? Urgh, why am I so sticky?"
Ginny sighed, curling up against Harry's shoulder. "Maybe we should just sleep here…goodnight, everyone."
"Goodnight," Hermione replied facedown on the table. Ron took napkins and folded them to make a pillow-like object. "Goodnight," he echoed, lying down on the bench.
Over at the next table, the Slytherins were fighting the urge to sleep. As tired as they looked, they swore they would not fall asleep in public, like the shameless Gryffindors, and wait until breakfast was over to go to their dormitories and sleep the day away.
"Must. Have. More. Coffee," said Theodore Nott, draining his eleventh mug of the brew he had loaded with sugar.
Next to him, Pansy's head was bobbing up and down, moving each time she almost fell asleep. Draco was also doing this; his head lolling around and hair floating into his eyes every time he started to drift off. Morag was concentrating intently on bright colors, currently staring at the red and gold Gryffindor banner hanging in the Great Hall. Blaise Zabini was the only one actually sleeping at the Slytherin table. He had since long ago mastered the art of sleeping with his eyes open, and he was using it to a great extent.
The Ravenclaws weren't fairing any better. Though none of them had been awakened by the explosion, they still felt unnaturally tired (perhaps it was from the champagne party they held the previous night). Mandy Brocklehurst was continually reaching for the coffee pot as Lisa Turpin swallowed whole packets of sugar. Anthony Goldstein was sleepily staring at the fork he held in midair, jabbing himself in the face when he felt sleepy and his hand grew limp. Terry Boot was drenching his sausages in maple syrup over and over, never noticing that the sausage had slipped off his fork ten minutes ago. Even Orla Quirke, whose snowy-white quill was usually moving across her journal's pages at the speed of light, had resigned to use a Quick-Quotes Quill. The quill was now writing, 'Zzzzzzzzzz…'.
At the Head Table, Professor McGonagall started at her school in shock. She turned to Professor Jocular on her left. "This is what I get? I plan a ball for them and this is what I get! On the happiest day of their lives at Hogwarts, they're sleeping during a meal!" she said indignantly, as if it was his fault.
"…Well, I did it all the time when I was a student here and you never got upset," Professor Jocular offered.
Professor McGonagall smiled and ruffled his hair affectionately. "Oh, I could never get angry at a boy who inherited my traits so obviously…"
Professor Jocular blanched. "Okay, now that is gross," he said in an undertone, turning away from Professor McGonagall. "And in public!" he whined.
"AHEM," Professor McGonagall said very loudly. "Students, some of you may have noticed that today is the twentieth of December. For those of you lucky few who are fourth year and above, or those who have an older date, please go back to your dormitories immediately. Those who will not be attending the ball tonight, please follow Hagrid. You're going to be doing a rather exciting Niffler exercise today." As half the students left the hall in Hagrid's large shadow, Professor McGonagall continued, "The rest of you have all day to prepare for the ball. The ball starts at eight and ends at two in the morning. Don't be late," she finished, gracing them with a rare smile.
"This is going to be rather exciting," Ginny said, looking a little bit more awake.
"I don't know about that," said Ron. "We, men and women, we think differently and act differently. I personally think this ball is going to be pretty boring."
"Don't let Lavender hear you say that," Hermione warned him. Ron scoffed.
"Hey, Ron, want to go play some chess upstairs?" Ginny asked. "We've got the whole day, anyway."
Hermione pursed her lips. "Ginny, we should use this precious time to study."
"No, you go to the library. Besides, I wouldn't want to intrude on your innocent little study session with the Great Albino Git."
"Hey, that spells 'gag'!" Ron exclaimed as Harry cocked an eyebrow.
"Malfoy must really love you to put up with all the obsessive studying, note-taking and book-memorizing, and study sessions in the library."
"Well," Hermione said loftily. "……Yeah."
As they did not share a common room, Draco had agreed to meet Hermione down in the Entrance Hall, where many other couples were waiting for the now sparkling gold doors to open, at eight precisely. Hermione spotted his white-blond head the minute she stepped into the hall. Her eyes swept over his body appreciatively and she giggled uncharacteristically. Ginny smirked before she was whisked off by Harry to a discreet corner.
Hermione quickly bade farewell to Ron and Lavender (decked out in gray and purple, respectively) who had met each other in the Common Room. As she walked closer and closer to him, her heard started beating faster and faster.
Hermione took a deep breath and tapped him on the shoulder. "Hello."
Draco spun around. As soon as he saw her, his mouth began opening and closing rapidly. "Her - her - Hermione!" he choked out. He gave her a sort of half-grin, half-gape, half-smirk while stars seemed to be dancing in front of his eyes. "You look……….you're looking good," he managed out, rearranging his gray silk tie.
Hermione sighed happily. "Yes………sixty percent taffeta, forty percent silk, a luxurious cream cloth with accents of gold, white, and pink, pure gold embroidery, nine-hundred threat count, not to mention scalloped edges on the hemline and collar, and leg-of-mutton sleeves adorned with lace," she breathed, dollar signs spinning in front of her eyes. "Not too shabby for 'Mione," she said.
Blaise leaned over and took a good look at the couple. "Hey, Mandy, come over here - you've got to see this - Draco's seeing stars and Hermione's seeing money!"
The Ravenclaw girl, clad in deep cerulean robes, rushed over.
"…The perfect memento for your magical night," Mandy said, offering the photo that her camera had spat out a moment ago to Draco and Hermione.
The two shook away the images floating in front of their eyes. "Well, I don't know about that - "
"It's free of charge," said Blaise smoothly.
" - Oh, well, in that case, we'll take two copies," said Draco.
"Draco, my mate, you are a cheap little man. You've got three vaults at Gringotts for your amusement, and yet you covet free things…shame, shame."
"Why are you giving these to people for free?" Draco asked, abruptly changing the subject.
Blaise winked. "Well, my friend, Mandy and I'll be coming into a lot of money near the beginning of next year, so think of this as a small payoff for all the pranks we've pulled on you. Besides, the photographs cost basically nothing compared to the amount of gold we're going to get…" Now Blaise was the one with dollar signs floating in front of his dazed eyes.
"One for the bookworm," Mandy was saying to Hermione, "and another for Mr. Bookworm," she said cheerfully.
Draco scowled. "The husband and wife jokes are getting old," he sneered.
"Honesty is a virtue," she intoned before Blaise swept her away. Draco and Hermione watched the bundle of blue silk and plum velvet dash around the room, asking people if they wanted their pictures taken.
"Well……I suppose the husband and wife jokes have a shred of truth to them," Hermione mumbled. "Er, not that I'm suggesting anything or……or…" she trailed off. "But I suppose they're not all that ridiculous."
"Yes, yes, they're quite probable, actually," Draco added. "It's…er……it's believable. It's possible."
"It's more likely than Neville and I tying the knot," Hermione said, trying to lighten the mood. Draco laughed nervously.
"Yes………I mean, Mrs. Malfoy does sound quite nice, doesn't? Er…compared to Mrs. Longbottom."
Hermione nodded quickly. "Yes! Mrs. Malfoy has a lovely ring to it! Not that I'm suggesting……anything to do with rings…or marriage…"
Draco nodded as well. The two stood for quite a while before Hermione spotted Giny.
"Oh, look, there's Ginny! GINNY WEASLEY, GET OVER HERE!" She turned to Draco, chuckling nervously. "We can talk to Ginny!"
"Bathroom. Now," Hermione said. Ginny took one look at the identical expression etched on her and Draco's faces, and rolled her eyes.
"Hormones," she murmured scornfully before Hermione dragged her away.
Draco was left standing stiffly with Harry, looking equally uncomfortable, and not because of the tie.
"So, Potter……….how's the dangerous liaison going? Did Weaslette's brothers throw you in the fire yet?"
"What is the matter with me?" Morag MacDougal wailed from a candlelit table overlooking the rose gardens. "I've tried dropping hints, I've tried asking her to the Ball, and I've tried asking her to dance! And I have been denied all of those!"
"Look, it's not your fault," the raven-haired girl sitting across him said gently. "Luna has a little problem with - er -romance. She's a bit clueless about that sort. It's not your fault at all - "
"But it is my fault!" Morag moaned. "Sylvia, I wasn't tough enough to just go and ask her straight-out! Now she's dancing the night away with Neville Longbottom and looking like she's enjoying it! Could it get any worse?"
"Well," Sylvia said, smiling gently, "she could be kissing him - "
"OH, IT JUST GETS WORSE, DOESN'T IT?"
"Honesty is a virtue."
"I have a question," Morag suddenly said, slipping out of his shroud of self-pity. "Do all Ravenclaws say that phrase or is it just you, Mandy, Terry, Anthony, Lisa, and Luna?"
"No, it's inscribed on our door," Sylvia said. "Why?" she asked, looking genuinely interested.
Morag stared at her. "…Never mind."
"Well," Sylvia said, standing up and brushing off her sky blue robes, "I have to go. My date is waiting for me at the punch bowl.
"Wait!" Morag cried, grasping onto the soft blue fabric. "Don't leave! You're my only connection to Luna!" Sylvia raised her eyebrows. "Really, it's true! Mandy's gallivanting off with Blaise somewhere, Lisa and Terry are probably snogging the roses off the bushes now, and Anthony's occupied with Princess Pansy and her Perpetually Peckish Problems!"
Sylvia's eyebrows rose higher at the last bit. "All right……I'll stay. Besides, Dominic won't even notice I'm gone; I think he's a little bit preoccupied with talking to the Fat Lady and her friend Violet. Ah, Luna!" she smiled. "Where's Neville?"
"He went off to get some drinks," the blonde said nonchalantly, tucking her sunshine yellow robes under as she sat down. "Hello, Morag. Fancy seeing you here."
"Er…same here. Very, very surprised," said Morag. "Even more surprised to see you with Neville," he added in a more-than-audible mutter.
"Yes, well, he's actually quite brave once you get to know him. Did you know, only two days, he went to me in the library and asked me straightforwardly if I wanted to go to the Ball with him? Sure, it was last-minute and probably because he needed a girl to go with him, but it was just so lovely to finally meet a boy who won't chicken out in those situations," she finished, taking a sip of her Butterbeer and smiling cattily at Morag.
Morag gulped. "…Indeed."
Sylvia stared between the two. "So!" she said brightly, batting her eyelashes at the two unidentified people sitting at the table. "What are you doing here?"
Melody Brocklehurst scowled. "Diana and I just wanted to see what Mandy's been up to with that Blaise fellow," she sneered. "So, chill, Lennox - we're not going to disturb your precious novel-reading time."
"Excuse us for being overly pushy," Diana Greengrass added, sneering in the exact same way as Melody.
"Well, that's just fine," Morag said jovially.
"Sylvia?" Diana said, snapping the sixth year out of her fantasy world. "You might be interested to know your date, Dominic Cortez, is currently dancing to a slow song with that yellow-haired girl from Slytherin...what's her name again? It was something like - "
"Banana Brianna," Sylvia, Morag, and Melody chorused in unison.
"I hate that girl," Melody growled.
"She's such a phony," Morag added.
"And worst of all," Sylvia said. "She hates reading novels! Now, is that a crime or what?"
"Sylvie, are you alright with this?" Morag asked. "They're dancing rather close."
Sylvia waved a dainty hand nonchalantly in the air. "It's fine. I never really liked Dominic anyway, he always seemed a bit…"
"Needy?" Melody and Diana said. "Selfish? Whiny? Babyish? Perverted? Cheap? Egoistic?" they mock-gasped in horror.
Sylvia nodded enthusiastically. "Yes! All of the above!"
"So I suppose this is the reject's table," Luna said, the usual dreamy tone in her voice gone. When they looked at her in confusion (and two in annoyance), she pointed to the Great Hall. "Neville's dancing with Jenna Marie Rose, the tiny potions genius from Hufflepuff," she said, a miserable look slowly creeping onto her face. "They'll probably get married and have brilliant brown-haired, blue-eyed children who'll be Potioneers and Herbologists!"
Morag suddenly grasped Luna's hand. "Luna……….Neville's an idiot! He doesn't know what he's throwing away! You're beautiful - and - and - smart and witty - and - beautiful - talented and funny and - you're just……..perfect," he finished softly. "……..And…I…I love you for those reasons."
The dreamy look was slipping back onto Luna's face. "…And you're a buffoon, Morag, but I love you because of that."
"Luna," Morag breathed.
"Morag," Luna whispered, standing up, their fingers entwined.
"Luna - "
"Oh, just kiss her already!" Melody called, making kissing noises, Diana joining in a moment later.
Morag turned around slowly and glared at the two smirking girls. "I really hate you two." And then, without further ado, he spun back around and kissed Luna so hard the tips of her red shoes lifted off the ground.
"Were there Nargles?" Luna asked as they broke apart.
Morag looked bewildered for a moment. "…Sure! Anyway," he said quickly, changing the subject. "Care to dance?"
"True love," Sylvia sighed as the three girls watched Morag lead Luna onto the dance floor. "Now, back to reading!" she cheered as she pulled a well-worn copy of The Secret Garden.
Melody and Diana exchanged looks, and immediately left.
"Harry……do you remember what I said last year about a Hungarian Horntail tattoo?" Ginny asked, green robes swishing as she sat down next to Harry at his table. Harry glanced worriedly at his girlfriend to check for mental instability, and saw Ginny grinning impishly.
"No…" he said apprehensively.
"Well," Ginny began, her grin widening, "I just informed Lavender and Parvati that it isn't on your chest after all - it's on the same place Ron's is."
"Ron's - oh, no. Ginny, you didn't," Harry groaned, putting his head in his hands. "You told them I had a bloody picture of a dragon tattooed there, of all places? How would that even work? First of all, it would hurt beyond belief! Second, I would have to take off my trousers and underwear and - " he blanched, thinking about it.
Ginny laughed. "Kidding, Harry. I just love your reaction to that - you're fooled every single time!" Harry scowled and crossed his arms across his chest.
"Don't be scared, little Ginnykins, but we're sitting next to you," a disembodied voice suddenly said. Harry almost jumped out of his chair, yelping like a little girl.
"Fred? George? Is that you?" Ginny asked, feeling the air around her. Two identical tugs on her curled hair made her retract her words. "I'm sorry, George, Fred, is that you?"
"Spot on, little sis," one of the twins said.
Harry, who had recovered from the initial shock, thumped his chest. "What are you two doing here?"
"Well, this is officially the first ball held ever since You-Know-Poo's been defeated," Fred (or was it George?) said breezily. "All the Pureblood families are hosting their grand balls on the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth, merging it with Christmas."
"We're just popping in to check up on the…things…and see how our favorite sister's holding up with a dead-smoking hot celebrity so close to her!"
"Peachy," Ginny replied dryly. "Now, what are these things you mentioned?"
The twins sighed in unison. "Dear, dear Ginny, you've got a knack for these things - "
"But the only thing we can say is - "
" - Even though we left Hogwarts, our legacy is still being passed down."
Harry and Ginny looked at each other in confusion, then gasped in unison. "MANDY AND BLAISE!"
"Sweet Merlin, kids these days are getting sharper and sharper!" one of the twins exclaimed in mock-surprise.
"Oh, look at the time - it's nine already! Bedtime, Georgie!" Fred said. The tablecloth rustled as the twins stood up and quickly dashed off.
Harry stared in horror at the place Fred and George had recently occupied. "Mandy and Blaise…bloody hell, Fred and George could bring a castle to its knees, but with the Siamese Twins, those four could take over the world!"
Looking like the perfect image of serenity, Ron was sitting with his arms crossed over his chest, a scowl on his face, looking at Harry and Ginny, who was talking in low whispers with their heads pressed closely together, and Draco and Hermione, who were drinking cupful after cupful of punch at the table of refreshments. Lavender Brown, looking quite radiant in her purple robes, was paying more attention to her manicured nails than Ron.
"How's the next generation of Weasleys?" Hermione asked, giggling drunkenly as she plopped down next to Ron. Draco sat down heavily as well, sloshing the liquid in his cup.
"What is in that thing?" Lavender eagerly asked, grateful for the distraction.
"I have absolutely no idea," Draco said seriously. He then burst out into giggles. "Alcohol!" he gasped out, leaning on Hermione for support as he laughed insanely.
Ron rolled his eyes. "God, you two are drunk beyond belief! Control yourselves! You're not supposed to be having this much fun - "
"Well, it's better than having no fun at all!" Lavender shouted, knocking over her chair as she stood up. "You have been grumbling to yourself and staring at Harry, Ginny, Hermione, and Malfoy all night! What is your problem? Can't you just put your stupid prejudices aside, and stop lurking? It's their lives, not yours, and you bloody well know it because they've yelled at you a thousand times, but you're never listened! And you haven't paid a single bit of attention ever since I came in! You are so inconsiderate, Ronald Weasley! I now regret my decision to come with you to the ball a hundred thousand times!" she screamed. "You - you're so oblivious! I pity the woman who'll marry you, because she's in for a rough lifetime of ignores and overblown tempers!" Turning on her heel, Lavender stalked off, leaving nothing but a cloud of dust behind her.
As Ron stared at the gardens, where Lavender had disappeared to, Parvati Patil came over and sat down in Lavender's vacated chair.
"You are a stupid, stupid man," she said, shaking her head disgustedly. "What is the matter with you? Are you really so thick you can't accept the fact that your sister is shagging your best friend, and your other best friend is dating your worst enemy?"
"You should be shunned among your peers for this," her date sat, sitting on the other side of Parvati. "First, Padma Patil, now, Lavender Brown? Bloody hell, Weasel, two of the prettiest girls in our year have gone with you to balls and you've done this to both of them! You truly take things for granted, don't you?"
"Spot on, Theo," Parvati said. "And I cannot believe you're actually thinking that just because you tell Lav you love her, she's going to run back into your arms, because relationships are not that easy! Everyone has to lose some. Ron…so far in this sham of what you can barely call a relationship, you've lost nothing, and Lavender's lost quite a lot."
"Why don't we leave you to think about that, and see if it actually gets through your tiny little brain," Theo sneered. "Come on, Parvati, let's show him what a real relationship is."
"Er, we should go, too," Hermione said awkwardly. "But you do need to think about that, Ron. It's very important, and if you ever want Lavender back, you need to think about it a lot."
"Well said, Mrs. Malfoy," Draco said loudly, standing up and clutching Hermione's arm tightly. "Now, if you'll excuse us, we have dancing to do! And you," he looked pointedly down at Ron, "have moping to do."
"Cheers!" Hermione called gaily before she was whisked off into the sea of colors.
Ron was snapped out of his stunned trance when Lavender threw herself unceremoniously onto the chair next to him.
"I'm not talking to you," she said before Ron could open his mouth.
"Oh, I know, but you just look so forlorn," he said, taking note of the rips on Lavender's dress and her slightly tangled hair. "What happened to you?"
Lavender huffed indignantly. "If I were talking to you, I'd say that I accidentally ran into a rose bush when I was trying to find a place to sob."
Ron stared at her and then burst out laughing. "Oh, Lavender, this is why I just love you so much! You get swept into so much trouble, and yet, you still find the time to amuse everyone!"
Lavender looked down. "It's not very funny."
"No, it is! You see, here's the thing. Every single time you say you don't love me anymore, you always find some way to come back into my life. You're like a pepper shaker - you'll always be together with the salt."
Lavender raised her eyebrows, a tiny smile forming on her face. "You are so wrong, Ronald Weasley - I always come back because somebody up there clearly hates me! I mean, you're stupid, and idiotic, and a buffoon, and tactless, and reckless, and thick beyond belief, and dimwitted, and - "
She was suddenly cut off when Ron captured her lips in a burning kiss.
"…Well. Maybe somebody there up there likes me."
Mandy's fingers tapped out a slow, steady rhythm as she waited for Blaise to return. As she took a sip of her Butterbeer, a blonde girl looking almost exactly like Mandy slid into the seat next to her.
"Evening, Mel," Mandy said cheerfully to her cousin as she put her glass down. "How's the ball so far? I'd advise not to drink the punch because you're highly underage, and unlike me, you can't handle your liquor well. Also, you might want to steer clear of the refreshments stand near midnight, give or take a few minutes. And by the way, the beverage you're drinking, Melody, is actually a very diluted and therefore weak Love Potion the wonderful proprietors at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes have recently invented. The results are quite nice; you'll be having a crush on everyone of the opposite sex. And speaking of one, here comes Blaise with more alcoholic drinks," she said in one breath.
"Oh, hello, Melody," Blaise said, only looking a bit surprised to see Mandy's cousin sitting at their table. "Er…want a drink? Oh, wait, no, I see you've already had the pumpkin juice. That's not good for a fourteen-year-old," he winked at her. Melody blushed.
"Bloody hell, how do the Weasley twins come up with this stuff?" she shrieked before running off to feed every boy she knew pumpkin juice by the gallon.
"How's it going with the plans?" Blaise asked, smoothing Mandy's hair affectionately.
"Quite all right, actually," she replied, pulling a faded piece of parchment from her cerulean dress robes. "I've already secured the patent and lined up five interviews the day after graduation. How's it going on the test runs?"
"Excellent," said Blaise happily. "The phones are working, the computers are just humming away, and the pagers couldn't beep faster."
Mandy grinned. "We've done it, partner-in-crime." Blaise laughed.
"Now, onto some more important business," Blaise said, the smile disappearing from his face altogether. "The Head of Advertising at the Ministry of Magic has suggested an international tour to promote this. Only one of us needs to go, and I've already told them I'm going. I know you have to stay back and take care of your cousins - you're the only family Melody and Matthew have left, ever since your aunt died. But, er, there's a catch." He grasped Mandy's hands. "The tour will take two years - "
"Say no more," Mandy smiled. "I can wait two measly years. Hell, I can wait a lifetime! Just promise you'll return, alright?"
Blaise's eyes softened. "I promise."
"Then it's settled," Mandy said. "I'll be waiting for you when you get back - right back where we started from...at the beginning."
Celestina Warbleck decided to take a break, so Professor Flitwick slipped a Muggle record into the sound system.
We were strangers, starting out on a journey
Never dreaming, what we'd have to go through
Now here we are, I'm suddenly standing
At the beginning with you
No one told me I was going to find you
Unexpected, what you did to my heart
When I lost hope, you were there to remind me
This is the start -
"There's only six months before graduation. Let's make the most out of these last moments," Blaise said, offering Mandy his arm. "Care to dance?"
"I'd thought you'd never ask."
And life is a road that I wanna keep going
Love is a river, I wanna keep flowing
Life is a road, now and forever, wonderful journey
I'll be there when the world stops turning
I'll be there when the storm is through
In the end I wanna be standing
At the beginning with you
Hermione nearly spilled all of her punch down her front when a familiar song came on.
Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
And think of you
Caught up in circles confusion
Is nothing new -
Draco gently touched her arm. "Hermione……will you dance with me?" It had seemed that all the alcohol had suddenly vanished out of his system. Hermione's eyes suddenly became clearer as she smiled shyly up at him.
Flashback - warm nights
Almost left behind
Suitcases of memories,
Time after -
Warm. Soft. Tight.
Hermione had never felt so comfortable before. Raising her head, she looked into Draco's deep gray eyes. She saw those beautiful eyes flicker lazily open.
"Draco………I love you."
His response was to pull her even closer to him. "Hermione…"
"You don't have to say it," Hermione whispered, as they swayed slowly to the music. "I've known it all along."
If you're lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you I'll be waiting
Time after time
Looking over Draco's shoulder, Hermione's heart swelled with happiness as she saw everyone she had ever loved and everyone who had loved her.
Harry, Ron, and Ginny. Her best friends and her sanctuary. The ones who had never doubted her, the ones who would stick with her until the end, the ones who would always be there for her.
Pansy, Blaise, Theo, and Morag. The Slytherins she would never forget. The Slytherins that had renounced their loyalties, the Slytherins that had allowed the icy exteriors of their shields to be broken, the Slytherins that had proved, over and over again, that they were worthy of their House.
Mandy. The Ravenclaw that Hermione knew would go far beyond what was expected of her and her past. The Ravenclaw that should've been in Slytherin. The one that would put her life on the line and not have one doubt about it.
Luna. The quirky, enigmatic girl that had changed Hermione. The one who had fought past the barriers of Hermione's mind. The one who, above all, believed true love could be tested with a carrot.
And then there was Draco.
Draco…the only one who could not be described in the words of Hermione's immense vocabulary, for words were not enough.
As the minutes passed, Hermione knew that this time around, her fairytale would not go wrong. Here in Draco's arms, the love that radiated from them was stronger than spells and hexes and potions. Magic was good enough to fix objects and charm trolls, but the magic of witchcraft and wizardry was nothing compared to the magic of love. And as long as Draco and Hermione loved each other, nothing was going to get in the way of their love, for love is the strongest magic of all.
The clock struck midnight.