A/N: Hello again everyone! Here we are at the third installment of my fic escapade. This time around we've got a few differences, such as chapter titles in English rather than Latin. The rating is based upon mild slash (homosexual content), some sexual content, future gore and of course some disturbing themes. I don't own any of J.K. Rowling's characters or works; they're hers. Well, enough stalling, here goes.
It was fear, joy, relief and apprehension; it was adrenaline and confusion. After being in the Muggle hotel for nearly a week, the terribly dilapidated group of survivors had returned home. Seven adults and seven children returned from the Muggle's zoo, exactly half the number that had been taken. Fourteen deaths and twice as many near-death experiences prayed on the minds of all of them, "It will be alright, you know." Tonks ensured Snape with a gentle smile, "It's just a bit of reporters and photographers for the papers… they're all glad to have us home."
"They're glad to have their stories." Snape muttered, "We're not returning to a friendly world, Nymphadora, not while we're in the spotlight."
"What would they possibly do to hurt us?" Tonks asked, a well disguised hint of concern in her whispering voice.
"We're all a mess, Nymphadora." Snape said, ignoring Tonks' restrained reaction to her first name, "Potter, Draco, that Goyle boy, Longbottom and half of the Weasleys. Sirius is still wanted for murder and now Lupin's admittedly eaten at least three people, and then there's the very obvious age difference between you and I. These things won't remain quiet for long."
"It's only an appearance." Tonks scolded gently, "Stop being so paranoid."
"I hope you're right." Snape said with obvious doubt as the crowd outside began to grow restless, and far louder.
"Professor Snape, do we have to do this?" Neville whispered; he looked frightened, and Ginny looked annoyed.
"It's the Ministry's way of… welcoming us back." Snape said ironically, with a meaningful glare at Tonks.
Tonks rolled her eyes, wrapping her arms around his as the doors flew open and flashbulbs went off like lightning and the damage was done. Snape sighed and reached down to take her hand, "Let's give them something to talk about then." Tonks said, looking up at him bravely, "Take the focus off of the children."
Snape closed his eyes and took a slow breath before nodding; his normally reclusive nature would have to be cast aside to protect the younger survivors, "What did you have in mind?" he muttered, ignoring the shouts of reporters, "Make a speech?"
They were nearly halfway through the crowd now, and Tonks turned to him, forcing him to stop, "You really don't read the papers much, do you?"
Before Snape could reply she had wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed a kiss to his lips. The roar of questions from the reporters grew deafening and cameras went berserk. Even the other survivors stop to gape at the pair as Snape's hands curled into fists and he managed to shake off the shock and pull back, staring at Tonks. She smiled and he continued walking, pulling her with him by the wrist as she giggled.
"I thought it was just a diversion." Hermione said, "After all, Tonks and Snape are ages apart."
"Literally." Ron said, then smiled with self-pride, "I came up with that one on my own."
"An occasion for butterbeer." Harry said.
"And firewhiskey." Fred added, "And a party in honor of uh… butterbeer and firewhiskey."
"And where would we have this hypothetical party?" Ginny asked doubtfully, Neville nodding at her side.
"Prefect's bathroom?" George offered.
"No way." Ron said, "Hermione and I got the Prefect position out of pity and we're not going to lose it before the first week of classes is over!"
"Speak for yourself." Hermione said, "I got that position because I earned it with quick thinking and good representation of our House."
"Yes, faking pregnancy was ingenious." Ron muttered.
"And ironic." Fred said.
"I'm pregnant!" Ginny shouted sarcastically.
"Ginny," Neville said tolerantly, "It isn't really very obvious that you want us to stop talking about it when you shout it like that every two minutes."
"Back to the party planning." Fred said, waving his hand for attention, "Should we invite the snakes over?"
"Of course." Harry said, standing up, "Hey Draco!"
The entire Great Hall looked at Harry as he motioned Draco and Goyle over; the two Slytherins stood after a bit of hesitation and walked over to the table, sitting in between Ron and Hermione, "What is it, Potter?"
"We were planning a party." Harry said.
"Hogwarts will probably throw something in our honor but we want a real party first." Fred said, "Are you two in?"
"Definitely." Goyle said.
Draco gave him a look before crossing his arms and blowing his bangs out of his face, "So where is it?"
"How about the Lake?" Ginny offered, "We could swim."
"With the mermaids?!" Ron demanded, "Never again, no."
"I agree." Harry muttered.
"Ok so where can we swim that's safe?" Neville asked, wrapping an encouraging arm around Ginny's shoulders.
"With a little magical waterproofing…" George said.
"And a lot of Aguamenti…" Fred added.
"You're looking at it." they finished together.
"No way can you pull that off!" Draco hissed.
"Never doubt the Weasley twins." Neville muttered.
"But there is no way we can all get down here without being caught in the middle of the night." Hermione added.
"Nonsense." Fred said, "We'll just… go in the dark, move some of the portraits around and some of you can use Harry's invisibility cloak."
"You know I'm a prefect too." Draco said.
"Well just keep Pansy off of us and it'll be fine." George said, "Don't let her follow you; not all the Slytherins are like you two."
"Not even we were like us until we almost died." Goyle muttered.
"Right, well… we'll all just have to keep an eye out for Filch and Snape, and whoever's on night patrol duty." Draco said, "Well be able to find that out early, being prefects."
"Tell anyone you don't think will tell any of the Professors." George said, "Fred and I'll take care of the water; Hermione, Draco and Ron? You turn the portraits, and Goyle and Harry find out who's on patrol and figure out how Ginny and Neville can distract Filch. We'll set it for Friday at… midnight."
"That's the day before the ball." Fred added.
They all made various noises of agreement and fell silent once again as the Minister of Magic rose to speak, "Anyone else up for skipping this?" Ginny asked.
"Yeah." they all said in unison, all except for Hermione.
"I'm not missing the opening speech." she said, "I'll let you know what was said."
They dispersed slowly, a few at a time to avoid being caught, as Hermione joined the other Gryffindors for the less than moving speech from the Minister of magic and some words from Snape.
Draco smiled to himself as he walked to his bed, collapsing onto it with a loud sigh, "Thank Merlin."
"Tired?" Goyle asked quietly from his spot across the room.
"You have no idea; I think having the Headmaster as temporary Head of House just makes everything more complicated when you're a Prefect. Snape expects a lot out of us, especially me."
"I thought about you today." Goyle blurted, then after a moment of silence he hung his head, "Sorry, that was strange." Goyle said quietly, opening his trunk and rifling through it before pulling out a small box with a curious look.
"What is it?" Draco asked, pulling off his sweater and rolling on to his stomach to watch the boy.
Goyle opened the small box as he shrugged his own robes off and onto the floor, "My ring."
"Your family ring? You still have it?" Draco asked, sitting up on his knees.
"I didn't have it on when we were taken… I never remember it."
Draco stood, "Well mine's long gone." he said, walking over.
Goyle smiled bitterly, "I suppose mine should be… there isn't really a family to have a ring for is there?"
"I wish I still had mine." Draco said with a shrug as Goyle pulled his ring off, "It was… important to me."
"Yeah well we're not the same people anymore." Goyle muttered, tossing his ring on the floor.
Draco bent and picked the ring up, surveying it closely, "I don't see why you're so upset about who you are… the people our families hated are the people who did this."
"No." Goyle said, sorting through clothes in his trunk roughly, "The people our families hated are good people… like Potter and Granger and Tonks."
Draco walked to Goyle and placed the ring back into his hand, placing his own hand over it, "Then keep this and change your family. Don't just run away."
Goyle locked eyes with Draco and, to his surprise, received a smile; he leaned forward slowly, closing his eyes. Draco met him half way and their kiss was not the emotional, desperate, fumbling mess that the kisses before had been. It was innocent and brave, quiet and deafening all at once, and it drained all of the noise from the room, sending things around the boys into slow motion. That is, until the dormitory door swung open. The two boys parted instantly to see Blaise Zabini standing in the doorway, "We missed you at the feast." he muttered.
"Oh… we had unpacking to do." Draco said, "Haven't had a chance to look over our textbooks either."
Goyle stood silent with his arms crossed and his gaze fixed on the tops of Draco's shoes; the blonde nudged him and he nodded quickly, "Reading, yeah."
Draco took a few steps back and any sort of romantic afterglow was swept away by the loud thud of Draco's legs against the heavy wooden bed frame. Draco winced but coughed to cover up any sounds of pain, "So, Zabini… how was your summer?"
Blaise smirked, "Better than yours… but not wonderful. The Ministry is blaming what happened on Voldemort and I expect that will only bring us trouble."
Goyle tensed and Draco looked up, "Why is-"
"Look, I won't tell anyone your father won't look at you., or that you were sitting with a bunch of Gryffindor losers, though that'll be hard to cover up. I won't even tell them that I caught you two snogging. I won't tell any of your stupid secrets but don't pretend like we didn't share a few ourselves."
"I'm going to the library." Goyle muttered, leaving the dormitory and the two boys in awkward silence.
Blaise studied his own fingernails for a moment before speaking in a casual tone, "Listen, Draco, I'm sorry about what happened to your mother."
"Neville, wait up!" Ginny called as she spotted the boy heading for the Herbology greenhouse.
Neville ducked his head and continued but was forced to stop when Ginny stepped in front of him, "Oh… hi Ginny."
"What's going on?" she asked, her hands on her hips.
"I'm… late for class." Neville said, "I really should hurry."
"Neville you're always late for class… are you avoiding me? Are you ashamed of me?!" she demanded.
"No!" Neville whispered, "It's just… you wouldn't understand, Ginny. Everyone already knows… you know."
"Yeah, so?" Ginny asked, "It's not like I'm going to let you run off on me and have a fatherless child! We're too young to get married what do they want from us?!"
"I don't think it's you they want anything from." Neville said as a group of Ravenclaw girls passed.
Cho Chang smiled and waved, "Hi Ginny." she said, before looking over her shoulder to lead her friends in a group scowl at Neville as they passed.
"What did you do to them?" Ginny asked.
"IT'S NOT…" Neville stopped himself and shook his head, "We'll talk about this later; I'm really late."
Ginny hesitated but nodded, "Alright." she said, grabbing Neville's arm as he tried to pass her, "Hey!"
Neville turned back to her with a look of restrained misery and she leaned up to kiss his cheek, releasing his hand and watching him race off. She too was late for class, but as Ginny found herself alone in the empty hallway she couldn't bring herself to walk, and simply sank down to the floor, sitting against the wall.
A/N: Ok so sorry that was so full of emo madness. It all needed to be said yada yada. So I guess everything that was foggy in this chapter will be touched on. Also to let you all know, the release of the seventh book has given me the idea to postpone my next update. With all of us reading the book and still going to see the fifth movie there really isn't a lot of time for reviewing or writing. I'll put the second chapter off for ten days at the longest, but less time if I see some of the readers returning. I just know there is no need for you all to come back to five or six chapters to read once you've just finished a huge book. I'll keep writing of course, but I will hold onto the second chapter until everything is less hectic.