A/N: Just something that popped into my mind while I stared at the empty screen that should have been Chapter 75…

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Dialogues with the Desperate

A large, beautiful library, early autumn. Flames in the huge fireplace cast dancing shadows across the room. In front of the fireplace, several armchairs and sofas are occupied by figures in robes. Their faces lie in shadows.

Finally, after a long moment of silence, one of the figures leans forward.

Kayly: Really, people. Things can't go on like this. You have to pull yourselves together.

Hermione: I really don't know why. I like travelling the continent with Severus. You wouldn't believe some of the bookstores I have seen. And Berlin! I always wondered why you decided to live there, Kayly, but now that you've written me there and got stuck, I find I quite like it. Good museums, too.

Kayly: Don't I know it. But it doesn't change the fact that our readers want you back at Hogwarts asap. So could you please move forward with the paradigm shifts? All that angsting…

Draco: Angsting? You're talking about angsting? To her? I'm the one that has been stuck on a guilt trip this past half year! I'd really like to start enjoying my new quarters and all that fancy furniture you never did justice to, but nooo, here I am, lamenting life on the whole. And my one highlight [shields his face and coughs *kiss*, to avoid scaring of the non-slash-readers] got stuck in a sidestory! Why do Severus and Hermione get all the romance?

Harry: Yeah, right. And why do I have to be responsible all of a sudden? I had a really good time there, running around with Hermione to protect me, not really knowing what I'm doing, and now it's like 'harry's leading the Inner Circle meeting' – 'Harry's confronting the aurors' – 'Harry's the one they all look up to' – that's getting really old, you know!

Severus: And considering that intelligence and eloquence are cleary located at Hermione's and my point of view, why do you have Harry telling the story all the time? There's no educational depth in that! No challenge! Why, the readers didn't even get the details of my brilliant deus-ex-machina-potion, and I'm sure that was an interest point for most of them, since they are intelligent enough to value my participation! I can't stress strongly enough…

Kayly: [rubbing her face in utter exhaustion] Yes, thank you, Severus, I think I understand your point. I'm giving Harry the point of view most of the time because you think explaining is something reserved to dunderheads and below you. If you had free reign of the story, we would be discussing security protocols all the time.

Severus: And we should be. Security has diminished considerably since Hermione and I left the castle. And what's that about aurors joining the Outer Circle training? I would never have allowed…

Harry: Oh stuff it, Severus. You're just jealous that your leader-days are over, now that you have trailed into the sunset after Hermione. I mean, not that I blame you, but in comparison to me, your development has been rather stagnant these past chapters, eh? [Strikes a dramatic pose while Draco watches him with lovestruck eyes] After all, I dealt with the terrible challenges thrown at me and came out a stronger man, while you… how did Kayly put it? Had the presence of a dead potted plant?

Hermione: Leave Severus alone! Slytherins are simply more sensitive than Gryffindors! Plus he had that terrible childhood, and not to mention…

Draco: Too much information! Too much information!

Kayly: And off-topic, too. I thought about putting that in a spin-off, but nobody seemed interested – sorry Severus. Now, as to the next chapter – if you all could recapitulate what you were doing when my computer crashed, please –

Hermione: As if it's our fault that you rely on faulty technical support. What is it with you and computer crashes, anyway? Never heard of safety copies? Or is that just an excuse when you're too lazy to write…

Kayly: I am still the one with the power of the quill here, people, so I'd be careful how you talk to me. Otherwise I could decide to add just another twist…hmm, let me see… 'And so Hermione stepped too close to the edge and fell to her death instead of stopping Voldemort – pity'.

Hermione [outraged]: You wouldn't dare! After all, I'm the one who's been keeping the show on the road, even though you've done nothing but torturing me for 74 chapters. Don't you think it gets tiresome after a while, all this angsting and wailing? But no, I kept on, just for you, and you repay me by…

Severus [interrupting her by laying a calming hand on her shoulder]: Be patient, love. [Leans closer and whispers] After all, we can still assassinate her once she's written our happy ending.

Kayly [sharp]: I heard that!

Harry: I want a happy ending, too! And an Order of Merlin! And world peace. And when will you stop bashing Ron? He was the only one I could have a decent Quidditch conversation with!

Draco [decisively]: I want you to finally kill off my father so that I can angst a bit more and then inherit his fortune and the manor, where I can live for the rest of my life making witty remarks about Gryffindors.

Kayly groans in frustration and gulps down her firewhiskey. Then, she turns away from the bickering group and towards the irritated reader who can't believe he's been forced to read this nonsense.

Kayly: See what I have to put up with! I promise the new chapter is coming, but first I have to get them all drunk enough to actually do what I say!

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I thank you all for being so patient! The computer's back, but I have to rewrite the complete next chapter, which means that the next update can take a while longer. I hope this snippet at least amused you and helped pass the time till then!

All the best,

kayly