Hello, my dears. How was your summers? Mine was great. Save for the part about no computer, obviously. But this worked out in the end, didn't it? I'm sitting at my lap-top writing this. Want to know what this means? This, lovelies, means that I'm officially taking away the On Hold-status. Of course, I'm actually in school now, which I haven't been in for 2½ years. So I'm busy with school. And, it doesn't help that this is my last year before I graduate so I'm overly busy at the moment. But the On Hold is OFF, even though I have my first priority on school now, for the first time. Have understanding with me for that :)
Unbeta'd obviously. Couldn't be so cruel to make you wait when you've waited since July. And Thank You, my sweets! Cookies at the bottom ;)
Directly after Tom had left and Harry had gotten ready for the day, he'd looked up a way to saviour the lily the way it was forever. The stasis charm he'd cast on it could only hold so long. But no such spells could be found anywhere Harry looked. That is until, two weeks before the ball, when both McGonagall and Flitwick saw fit to have their classes on that subject only. And Harry could ask about such a spell openly, without anyone questioning him. The answer he'd gotten was about a charm to crystallize the flower in a complicated way. It even kept the smell there. And now, Harry carried the little flower with him everywhere in a small conjured sphere as he didn't want to damage the fragile crystal.
He knew for a fact all of his friends knowing of the relationship between him and the Dark Lord had seen it, but no comments had been made. Even though Ginny smiled every time she caught Harry looking at it.
Harry missed him, as he'd said he would. But he still refused to dwell on the fact that Tom was away and out of reach, so except for those short moments with the white lily, he kept his mind clear of all thoughts of Tom and focused on his studies and the upcoming capture of one Ronald Weasley.
Which, as it happened, was today.
"...there!" Hermione said, admiring her spell-work. "Complicated, but still easy enough."
Both Harry and Ginny turned to look at each other and Harry couldn't help but gasp at the red-haired witch's appearance. Now, with literally Harry's eyes instead of her own, she looked almost like a carbon-copy of Lily Evans. They looked like they truly were siblings; both from James and Lily Potter. But that wasn't the point of their simple costume. The point was to be James and Lily Potter, on the fifteenth anniversary of their death. Well, James's really but still.
"Wow!" Ginny exclaimed. "You truly look the same. Your dad down to the very last strand of hair almost." The girl took up the newest photo Harry's mother had given him of themselves; one taken one Harry's first birthday and all three of them were in it, and compared. Hermione and Draco also looked at the photo and on Harry.
Hermione nodded. "I agree. It's like looking at you a few years in the future." She took the photo and put next to Ginny and compared there too. "Yes, this will definitely do. It's strange though, how much alike you two are Lily and James. Only switching your eyes and I nearly think we'd be able to fool people you are them, if they weren't dead."
"And Lily is only, what? 21, 22 years old now, isn't she?" Ginny asked, looking at Harry.
Harry shuddered. "Don't say that. It sounds weird knowing my mother skipped a decade and a half and is only a few years older than her son."
"I know," Draco smirked. "One could almost press charges against Severus for child molestation."
"Eww!" Harry said. "Just eww. This is a topic I'll never speak of again. Ever."
They just laughed at him.
"Now, we need to make you look arrogant," Ginny stated. "Perhaps we should ask Snape how James looked?"
Harry shook his head. "No, let's not. I know how he looked," he said and went to the mirror musing up his hair, loosening his tie a bit, button up his shirt and generally looking a bit untamed. In his robe pockets he also had Draco's practise snitch.
Ginny, too, turned towards the mirror and began pulling on the Slytherin robes Selwyn had loaned her. On it, she pinned the Head Girl badge she'd just conjured, as well as giving the Head Boy badge to Harry, who also pinned it lazily on his. As Lily had been a Slytherin, and a self-controlled powerful one at that, Ginny did the opposite of what Harry did, and straightened out everything.
Meanwhile, Hermione politely excused herself and left the Slytherin Sixth Year-boys' bathroom for a while, leaving Draco a package on what he was supposed to wear. Unpacking it, Draco noticed it contained a long, white linen-night gown, white tights, t-shirt and socks, along with two strings of Christmas glitter and a candle. In it was also a note telling him how to put it on.
When Harry and Ginny were done with their costumes, they sat down on the bench on the far wall, looking at him.
"I still don't understand why you, of all clothes-obsessed people, let Hermione, of all not clothes-obsessed people, decide what you're wearing on a Ball! It doesn't make sense," Ginny wondered.
Draco's first reaction was to freeze in near fear but a quick second's thinking led him to just shrug. He was starting to get uncomfortable with which way the topic was leading. But then again, wouldn't it be easier to get it out in the open?
"I mean, it's almost as if you're asking her to decide for you. Not just letting," the young Death Eater continued. Harry just turned around not give her any clues, having already figured this out weeks ago.
"Maybe I do?" the blonde answered easily, tying the longer string of glitter around his waist.
Ginny frowned. "What do you mean you do? You actually ask...oh...OH!" She gasped loudly. "That's why! That's why you..."
"...scream louder with Blaise than with Pansy?" Draco smirked at her, now at ease with the situation though deep down there was that uneasiness. But he squashed it down, concentrating instead of putting another string of glitter on his head like a halo.
The former Weasley nodded enthusiastically.
"Does this mean the bet's off?" Harry asked lazily with a cheeky shine to his brown eyes.
"Depends," Draco shrugged. "Who won?"
"I did. You gave yourself away when you healed me."
"What do you mean 'healed'?" Harry was just about to answer but Ginny broke him off again, turning to Draco. "No matter. And Hermione agrees to this? She and her damned house-elves and she just... agrees? I assume she agreed or else... The house-elves! From what I know, this is a lot like house-elves and she..."
"You're right, Ginny, it is a lot like house-elves. Not quite, but there are similarities," Hermione stated, having just entered the room again. She was dressed in the same sort of night gown as Draco, but a little bit fancier than his. The flower was still attached to the left side on her chest, now on the snow white gown. Around her waist she had a blood red ribbon, around ten centimetres wide. Her head was decorated with a thicker halo-like crown made out of some green twigs and red berries, all the while carrying six candles in it. The brown, tamed and curled hair flowed easily on her shoulders. In her hands, she had another candle. All in all, she looked beautiful. Like a flawless angel.
"A house-elf submits to his or her master or mistress and serving him or her in a give-and-take-relationship benefitting both parties. It's something they want to do, crave to do, and it's in their very nature to do. It takes enormous strength and self-assurance to do such a thing, which is why they should be highly respected and reworded. The same can be said about what's between me and Draco," she explained. "By the way, you look stunning, Draco."
Overshadowing Draco's 'Thank you', Ginny continued to talk. "And you agreed?" Hermione nodded, smiling. "And the Courting Flower? It was discussed in advance? And you're really doing this?"
"Yes, yes, and yes, we take it as we go along. Both of us have much to learn still."
"We used to play around, occasionally," Draco answered. "Me and Pansy didn't. There's your answer."
Finally, Ginny nodded, satisfied.
"So, are we ready to go then?" Harry asked.
"Soon," Hermione answered. "I need to light the candles and charm them safe first."
"What am I, exactly?" Draco inquired, looking down at the gown, glitter and the tips of his white toes that peeked out from underneath the fabric.
"This is the last thing I will ever do that has to do with Muggles. After this, I'll embrace the Wizarding World fully. And I wanted you to be a part of it," the normally bushy haired girl explained, blushing only slightly. "It's representing what the Muggles would do to us if they found out, even if my parents aren't among those.
"You see, there was once a supposed witch called Lucia - like Lucia Rowle, I know. She was falsely accused and burned during the witch-hunts. Now, in Scandinavia, this is celebrated every year with music, lights, bread and kinds of things. When they do this, the Lucia is dressed like this." The girl gestured to herself. "And her maids are dressed like that." Now she gestured to Draco.
"Oh," Harry said. He hadn't seen that meaning coming at all.
Hermione's smile widened. "The gown represents what all supposed witches and wizards were burnt in. The ribbon represents the blood. And the crown, well, it's obvious that it represents the fire."
Hermione set about lightning and charming the candles, while Ginny corrected her outfit again at the same time Harry practised with the snitch like his father had done so many years ago. Over two decades ago in fact. He hoped James was watching him, was proud him. And Sirius too.
When all seven candles were lit, they were joined by Pansy and Blaise; dressed as a Siren and a sailor respectively.
"Hmm... What's Draco dressed as?" Blaise mused, looking over the blonde's appearance.
"Hermione's maid," Harry answered.
"A maid, huh? I guess that means..."
"Yes," Hermione replied. "Are we ready to go then? It starts in five minutes and it takes longer than that to get there."
The others nodded and they left.
For the special night, the Great Hall was decorated in a more festive theme as always, though more classy than Harry had expected from Dumbledore. More magical body armours were placed in the room, each of them greeting the students at odd moments if they so wished. Large banners speaking of victorious moments in history where many or all wizards and witches had been working together for a joint cause hung on the walls. The tables had been rearranged in to round tables of six each with black linen table covers with a small bouquet of flowers in the Houses' colours in a glass-vase as a centrepiece. Surrounding it, there had been six ivory white porcelain plates with matching silverware and glasses but those were gone now as dinner and dessert was through. Also, along on the right, long wall there was a table reaching the entire wall. It was there to serve for punch and other refreshments.
The small tables had moved a long time ago, however, to make room for the dancing. A lot of couples seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely, even if several flowers had already been given back. Most often due to the situations Harry and Weasley had found themselves in with the Patil twins two years ago. Even Hermione and Draco were out in the mists of the dancing couples somewhere.
Harry checked his watch yet again. Almost time. The ball had been going on for quite some time and it was planned to end in an hour and a half. And in about 30 minutes time Weasley was going to make his way to the Great Hall after his detention. Of course, he'd never arrive there. The plan was rather simplistic, or complicated, depending on your definition of the two. A few costumes here and there, an accident, corporation of a certain Dragon Lady and a lot of running would eventually result in a mysterious disappearance in the morning that no one can explain.
As Harry looked up, he saw Selwyn and, to her great dismay, Urquhart leaving the hall in favour of the Hospital Wing. Right on time. He nodded after them so Ginny would see. She nodded back to him. Across the room, youngest in the Macnair clan left his table and his friends. The young boy made his way into the dancing fold and would very soon 'accidentally' bump into Hermione.
Everything was going according to plan.
Not too long after, Hermione's shriek of pain echoed against the walls. It didn't take a second for the two other Death Eaters to move from their place to where the scream came from. People separated to give them space and in the middle Hermione clutched her head desperately. The Lucia-crown lay thrown away, lights still burning and wax dripping on the floor.
"Out of my way!" Pomfrey's voice rang to them and then she was there, tending to her 'patient'. She looked at the Gryffindor's head and shook her own. "I'm sorry, dear, but you will have to come with me. You are burnt quite badly. Why didn't you charm the candles, you silly girl?"
"I did!" Hermione cried. "But I forgot the wax," she whispered. She took the offered hand and stood up to follow Poppy.
"I'm coming with you," Draco said, his own candle suspiciously missing.
"You're not," Poppy argued.
"We are," Harry said and followed anyway. The witch sighed and let them.
They met Severus scolding Macnair for causing such a ruckus. He could also feel Dumbledore's burning gaze follow the group leaving. But he did not mind. He did, however, wonder if Dumbledore knew what was going on. They had been careful in their meetings, as many as they had been lately, but what if it wasn't enough?
"Can you walk on your own or should I levitate you?" the oldest of them asked, sounding concerned.
Hermione shook her head lightly. "No, I'm feeling dizzy." And that was that, she was levitated the rest of the way. The rest walked determined and worried beside the floating, apparently injured witch. No one said anything until they were safely inside the doors of the Hospital Wing. Selwyn and Urquhart were there greeting them.
"How did it go?" Selwyn asked.
Poppy cancelled the levitation and Hermione landed softly on the ground. She cancelled the protections and glamours on her head and suddenly her wax-burn was gone as quick as it'd arrived. "Part one done. We're all gone from there. How much long until detention's over?" she said.
The Slytherin girl checked her watch yet again. "About ten minutes, so we must hurry."
They nodded and began to undress. All save for Draco and Poppy. The older Slytherins were supposed to wear Harry and Ginny's outfits from that point on. And Hermione didn't particularly feel like wearing a Lucia-costume to her Lord's home.
When all were dressed once more, Draco said "We'll see you tomorrow then. We're going down again now. The story is that the injury was better than the initial belief, right? And so we could leave?"
"Yes," Ginny confirmed. The three others left to return to the Ball while the Death Eater-trio grabbed Harry's Cloak, said their good byes to Poppy and left shortly there after.
Weeks after the whole ordeal, Ron still didn't understand how the Dark Mark could just... disappear. It was said to be impossible. He had even researched it for Merlin's sake! Sure, You-Know-Who could've just created something new, something so dark even the books in the restricted section didn't cover it. But the question remained, how did it disappear? And did it disappear right on time or an unknowable time before? Ron refused to believe he'd been seen something that was not there. Especially with Harry's reaction.
The Dark Mark was all that occupied his mind now. It drained his energy to be so focused on something he could find no answers for. He felt like he was missing an important piece of the puzzle and no matter how hard he tried, that small piece was always out of his reach. It frustrated Ron to no end.
It did have its advantages though. Ron's mind was so occupied time just slipped past him while in detention. The curse keeping him from talking didn't even bother him anymore either. He didn't feel like talking about something he didn't understand. No fool would make an important chess move without knowing what the other's plans were and that was what Ron put to action now. For the first time in his life.
Ron sighed. The corridors stretched out before him like never ending roads. Hogwarts felt huge sometimes, especially now when he was tired and still had to make it to the last hour of the ball. Just like he'd promised Dumbledore he would. Just as he was about to turn round a corner...
"Imperio," a soft, male voice whispered directly in his ear.
...his emotions and thoughts slipped from him. They were replaced by a need to obey to caster of the Unforgivable. Ron wanted to give that person absolute control. It felt so nice, so calm. Everything would be alright if he just did what the caster wanted him to. He would even find that last piece of the puzzle if he obeyed... but no. He couldn't. Ron tried to fight the curse but the caster increased the power in the spell and oh Merlin how he just wanted to give in. What damage could it do? Not a lot, part of Ron insisted. Yes it would, the other told him.
"He's strong," a familiar female voice whispered. Yes I am, Ron thought and fought harder. But then... then the amount of magic in the curse exploded and Ron nearly doubled over as the Unforgivable brutally ripped the last ounce of control he had over his body.
Through the spell Ron could see them walking around that corner and in behind a tapestry. He and whoever was with him walked through darkness so thick he could barely see his feet. Feet moving by the choice of someone else. Ron weakly tried to turn back but no muscle in his body obeyed his mind. Overpowered but not broken, he stopped to resist and continued with just following. He had no other choice.
They came out on the third floor from where they continued to another tapestry. This tapestry, Ron knew, led to the second floor. Suddenly, he understood where they were going and who was behind him. Harry and Hermione, leading him to the Chamber of Secrets. Oh, so I will finally get to see what's in there then, he thought sarcastically.
Sure enough, no more than five minutes later, the redhead was standing face to face with the statue of Salazar Slytherin. Briefly he hoped Ginny wouldn't suffer the same fate as he was about to do. Was he going to die? He knew Harry could cast at least two of the Unforgivables and had probably used them on others besides him. And Hermione... well, Hermione had killed in Dumbledore's orders so. It probably didn't help that he was most likely about to brought before You-Know-Who and his circle of coldblooded murderers. Bellatrix would have a field day for sure. Ron saw a mental image of Lucius Malfoy with his jaw dislocated from laughing too much. No, Lucius wouldn't sink so low. Especially not in front of a Weasley. Oh Merlin, he was going to...
"...and lastly I would like to wish you a good night. Sleep tight for lessons continue in the morning as usual," Albus finished with a smile. He continued to watch the students until the very last few left through the doors and dozens of House-Elves popped in to clean. He had hoped to see if Mister Ronald Weasley was amongst them but no such luck. Where could the boy be?
"Good night, Albus," Minerva said before leaving herself, morphing into her cat form as she walked.
"Yes, yes, good night," he answered after the tabby cat. She had obviously no worries for her student. Of course, it could've been that detention that had worn the boy out. The young Weasley was unreliable that way. Always following his body and what it told him. Albus loathed wizards and witches like that. No care in the world for the bigger picture. However, one couldn't cry over it anyways. The boy had his uses and fulfilled them quite satisfactory. Even though, surprisingly, Miss Granger had surpassed him this year. She had gotten past Potter's determination of choosing other friends after all and turned the Malfoy boy to her own personal puppet to play with. And Ronald had not.
Had not Potter's story about Lady Malfoy been confirmed by several of the Order members and other sources, Albus would've thought something was going on that he had no knowledge of. As it was, however, Potter remained quite adamant that Tom had to be gone. And as such, Miss Granger's threats were null and nought.
Albus took one last look on the House-Elves working before leaving. He had to take a quick check in his office before moving on to get his sleep. If he knew subordinates right, however, he'd be there a bit longer than 'quick'. It didn't help that he'd received news from a relatively safe source earlier in the that night that Lily's grave had been plundered and the body was gone. And apparently, it had been stolen quite some time ago.
The uses for her body were endless when dealing with Dark Magic so it was unsurprising that Albus found this highly worrisome. He also wondered how Severus and a great number of others would take this particular news. It was most likely that Tom had taken this course of action after his failure at retaining the prophecy and had decided to guess his way using other methods. Albus wondered for a moment.
They had to discuss what the other methods the wizard could think of and how to best protect them, of course. And he had to make sure that Granger and Weasley, when he thought himself ready to finally present himself, kept a tighter range on Potter. Watch the teen and the others around him. It was, after all, a big school with many threats lurking around. Another would be more lookouts around the Potters' cottage out in Godric's Hollow. Maybe young William Weasley was needed, just to be sure, in Gringotts in case the Death Eaters were sent on another suicide mission to break into the Potter vaults. And the Black vaults as well. Yes, that seemed as a good enough start,
"Announcing Mister and Misses Potter, Granger and Weasley wanting entrance, sir," the small portrait hidden on his desk suddenly called. Albus frowned because of the late hour, but allowed them entry nonetheless.
"Come in," he said before they even had a chance to knock. The door opened and as he'd been told, there they were. Looking distressed for whatever reason. "Take a seat."
Potter chose the seat in the middle with the Weasley girl on his right. "Sorry to bother you, sir," he apologised.
Albus smiled. "No worries, my dear boy. Lemon drop? Miss Granger? Miss Weasley?" Neither of them accepted. "Very well. I'm assuming neither of you want tea this time at night. To be honest, neither do I. We all need our beauty sleep, don't we?"
Miss Granger nodded.
"By the way, Miss Granger, how's your head?"
She smiled politely. "Better, sir. It was only minor but she still wanted to keep me there an hour or two to make sure I didn't sustain any other effects of the burn."
"Yes, I remember a duel when I was younger where I got a small burn on my pinkyfinger and I got terrible queasy afterwards," he told them. Of course, it hadn't been his burn. "But perhaps we shall keep to the subject of why you are all here when you should be safe and sleeping in your beds?"
First of all. I spent almost an hour or so I think, searching for a scene in the story where this about Lily's body is discussed. And I couldn't find it even though I sure I wrote it. If I did wrote it, then, my mistake that it comes up as new now.
Secondly, Yes, Hermione is dominant over Draco. But they're young yet, so they, as she says, have much to learn and discover so nothing will be advanced. It's the same with me, I am still discovering these things about myself. My friend Kitty, who is a switch, have "studied" so to speak, and discovered, for two years now but she doesn't feel ready for proper master/mistress yet. So believe me, these things will take time for Hermione and Draco as well. I might, maybe, write a one-shot purely for them some time. But I'm not sure yet.
Cookie contest: Thank you all for guessing, here are the winners! (Oreos this time, to humour Meikouhaikitsune who has promised to send me a package since I can't buy them here) (Hpfandom) loverlydb, hell's children, Elphaba and goldendragonluvr (FF(dot)net) graypheonix and Tiffany Kleinhans (SilverSnitch III) Angeliss and ceres51892 :D Congratulations, my sweets!
Won't have a new one now, except the one about Ron's punishments. I've got that I really like so far. But I'll need more than that, don't you agree?
Love you! Review if you like or not!
Iivanainen a.k.a Nocturnal Bastard a.k.a Lotesse
Don't forget my LJ, NocturnalB, for info or whatever else :)