All things not Allosia belong to JKR.

To see the hat referenced before and pivotal to this chapter, please go to http://www.fear.net/~reive/sia.jpg

This is the end of Ghosts. It is cute, it is cliched, come on, you know you love me anyway.

I'll begin its as yet unnamed sequel soon.

Thank you to all my reviewers and to all my friends who put up with this thing eating my life for a few weeks.


The impending winter holidays were something of a strain on everyone. Preparations for the Yule Ball were making everyone insane. Students panicked about dates and wardrobe, teachers groused about chaperoning duties and everyone was busy with last minute travel arrangements.

Everyone except Severus Snape, that is. He lived at Hogwarts year round, and was able to put up with the chaos of December only because he knew he would have relative quiet as soon as the students and most of the faculty left for holiday.

He and Allosia had fought about it. He didn't think she was safe leaving Hogwarts, nor did he want to complicate her life by coming with her to visit her parents just yet. And she certainly didn't want him along for the ride as she tried to find a subletter for her flat. She suspected strongly that he would manage to scare them all off. They had settled, both somewhat reluctantly, on his staying at the castle and her shortening the duration of her trip.

He had asked her to the Yule Ball then, probably as a peace offering.

"I know we both have to go anyway," he said, "but would you be so kind as to attend with me?"

Allosia had smiled and agreed, making a mental note to wear the hat she had purchased on their long ago trip to Hogsmeade.

Historically, Snape had always volunteered to wander the grounds with Hagrid during the Ball. Catching students up to mischief was always far better than trying to put off McGonogall and Hooch who always asked him to dance on stupid bets with other professors.

This year though, for Allosia, he decided to stay inside. It would be easier and it was a small enough gesture to make her happy.

Deciding to be a true and formal gentleman about the matter, he offered to retrieve her at her rooms. When she appeared at the door he groaned inwardly. She was wearing that damn hat and while she looked lovely in her black and purple dress robes, the thing had enough personality that he fully expected it to start speaking and he had quite enough of that from the sorting hat, thank you.

Although she had seen him grimace at the hat, she refrained from comment, since he had managed to as well, and they walked, arm and arm to the Yule Ball.

As they entered the Great Hall, they got more than a few second glances. Albus beamed at them, and Hooch ran up to them immediately, playfully insulting Snape and then gushing over Allosia's hat.

The couple separated then and attended for a time to their duties as chaperones. Snape occasionally snuck up behind Allosia and muttered something scathing about a particular student's choice of formal wear before departing again. Allosia almost doubled over in a fit of laughter when she saw him compliment the Granger girl on her attire. The girl handled it with some grace and a knowing look. She knew what he was playing at and Allosia felt glad for her. That overeager and unsure child might just become a very strong woman one day.

She noticed Draco Malfoy then, sitting by himself, watching the spectacle with both sadness and annoyance. He reminded her of Snape at that age, and she couldn't help but go over to him.

"Not as much fun as your father's party, huh?" Allosia asked, feigning disinterest.

He looked at her then, searching, trying to figure out just how much she knew. He could not decide. "No," he said. "Thank god."

Allosia noted the answer with interest. "Why so glum then?"

"Familial obligation," he said sharply as if it were a subject she'd know nothing about.

"You'll be alright," she said, and patted his back before walking away.

He stared after her, still wondering if she were incredibly ignorant or not.

Allosia startled as she felt Snape's hands at her waist. He bent, and whispered in her ear, "come outside with me for a moment," and so she followed him, out onto the main landing of the castle.

They leaned against the low stone wall, feeling the chill and the wind for a few moments. He spoke then, without looking at her. "Do you remember, what I told you about Lucius' party?"

"Which part?" she asked.

"About the lights." She heard a faint annoyance in his voice. Embarrassment.

"Yes, I remember."

"What do you think about that?"

"The lights?"

"No, Allosia, not the lights."

"About nighttime weddings then?" silently, she was cursing herself for being so intentionally obtuse.

"About marrying me," he said, still looking out over the grounds.

"I think it sounds about right," she said, before adding, "and I think it would be very pretty at night."

He smiled then. "Good, now I can tell you why I hate that unholy hat of yours so much," and he turned to her, and took hold of its small brim and removed it from her head. "It makes it absolutely impossible to kiss you."

He bent then, and did exactly that.