Author's Note:

Hello, lovely readers! I've been working hard for months on getting this new chapter out to you. I rewrote it four times, top to bottom, tearing it apart and putting it back together in different ways until I crafted a chapter that I felt was worthy of being presented to you. I admit there were times that I lost my muse for this tale and had to not look at it, but then I remembered my promise to all of you to finish this story, and that kept me coming back. Your kind reviews help prod me on! Please don't stop letting me know what does/doesn't work for you. I do enjoy hearing your thoughts – and your song recommendations, too! I get lovely inspiration from those!

In regards to this chapter, HP canon makes it clear that fairies are a specific species of magical creature (small, glowing, vain flying creatures that Professor Flitwick easily captures every Christmas to serve as the lights for Hogwarts' holiday tree), but in the same breath, it's also implied that they are related to pixies and doxies (both of which are vicious, little magical creatures that like causing problems for humans, even harming them). I expanded on that idea for this fic, utilizing Celtic myth to give Seamus a Fae heritage. In this fic's universe, fairies come in all shapes and sizes, are relatives of the Veela, and like Celtic myth, they're split into two kinds: the Seelie Court (the Day Fae) and the Unseelie Court (the Dark Fae). Basically, Seelie court fairies are prone to lighthearted mischief, but are generally good-natured creatures who don't cause irreparable harm to humans. Unseelie Court fairies are darkly-inclined fairies who love wreaking havoc and even murdering humans (and eating them sometimes, too). Just FYI.

And now…onward and upward we go!


CHAPTER FOURTEEN: REVELATIONS – PART V

(real date and time unknown)

For a dead bloke, 'Eros' was doing a grand job of fucking with them.

After hearing what Hermione and Harry had to say about the wool he'd pulled over them all, in fact, Seamus considered the boyo some sort of evil genius, right up there alongside that Grindewald fella they'd learned about in Binn's class in fifth year.

He still couldn't wrap his head around the whip: Eros had had them all believing they'd been secretly tucked away in some safe spot in the castle, playing naughty games with each other, when all the time he'd cast some sort of charm upon them that sent them to a trippy third-dimension, promoting wickedness and sin, all so he could suck their souls out to keep his own glowing and young-like.

"Chuir na páistí chun suain – he'd put the children to sleep with a magic charm," his grandmother would have said.

It was sodding brilliant in its dementedness, when you considered it. A plan Seamus would say worthy of the Unseelie or Dark Fae, in fact. His ex-lover, that two-faced bitch Maddy Fletcher, would have definitely tried something that twisted on him.

Saying that, Seamus couldn't fathom what purpose this new move served: a moment ago, a pasty-faced Theodore Nott had just run out of the jacks shouting Zabini's name in alarm, and between one blink and the next, Seamus was no longer in the main room and all his friends were gone. Furthermore, the weird darkness that had been hovering at the edges of his vision all night was suddenly wiped away as well, along with everyone else.

He'd been kicked out of the game and back into the real Room of Requirement.

Technically, he knew it to be the Room of Hidden Things, where he and the rest of the students running from Umbridge back in fifth year would, occasionally, take to hiding just to throw off the 'Pink Menace'. Same diff, though.

The shock of the abrupt move reminded him of that one time he'd dreamed of falling off his broom from way high up, and had woken up just before hitting the ground. It was that same kind of dizzying confusion. It took a moment longer for him to get his bearings and quell the panic.

When he finally felt centered and the room stopped spinning, he glanced around at the mountains of broken and scarred furniture, unwanted clothing, worn bedding, and miscellaneous knick-knacks that surrounded him. He'd forgotten how menacing a thousand years of unwanted junk could seem, especially as it teetered and swayed over your head, threatening to topple and crush you to death. He stepped out of harm's way, further down the long aisle.

Far above his head, he realised the cavernous ceiling was designed with the same architecture as the Great Hall, so that had to mean this was the real Room of Requirement, right? 'Cause inside the card deck, the ceiling had been white all the time, even when the room and floors had changed.

What had happened to the others? Where was Lavender? If Eros had harmed her, the rowdy bastard…

"Angel, where are ya?" he called out. His voice echoed in the quiet room. "Lav, me love, are ya out there, too?"

"Sea?"

The relief he felt at hearing Lavender's voice was enough to nearly knock the wind from his sails. She was somewhere nearby, her voice having come from ahead of him.

"Stay where ya are, angel. Just keep talkin'. I'll come ta ya," he told her, and headed off as she began counting numbers loudly. "You're close."

"Lavender, is that you?" someone called from further off in the room, and Seamus thought it sounded like Zabini. The echo made it difficult to discern, however.

What the hell was he doing here?

And where were the others? He didn't hear anyone else call out.

Rounding the corner into the next aisle of trashed goods, Seamus found Lavender there, looking as confused as he felt. He hurried to her and took her back into his arms. "I've got ya," he said, feeling immense relief that at least she hadn't been lost to him, even if the others had. The Fae part of him, deep inside, relaxed at being reunited with its intended mate. "You okay?"

She nodded. "Confused, but fine. You?"

"Same."

"This is the Room of Hidden Things," she said, glancing around. "How'd we end up here, I wonder?"

"Give you two guesses," Zabini said as he casually jogged down their aisle towards them from the other end.

Barefoot and still dressed in the white robe he'd been wearing earlier, he hurried over to them. Seamus hadn't realised he'd tightened his hold around Lavender as the other man approached until she elbowed him as she turned in his arms to face her ex-lover.

"Have you seen Ginny?" his rival asked, a bit breathless and wild-eyed with concern.

That gave Seamus pause. "So, she didna come across wit' ya, either?"

"Don't know," the big Slytherin replied, looking every which way for signs of his partner. "She was asleep on the bed in our room one minute, and the next, I was here alone."

"Yeah," Seamus confirmed. "Happened like that fer me as well. One blink and…boom. Kicked out."

"Kicked out?" From her shorter height, Lavender leaned her head back to look him in the eye. "So you don't think we're inside the cards anymore, but that this is the real Room of Requirement?"

In response, Seamus pointed up at the ceiling. "Looks like it ta me. It's not white."

His partner's gaze moved to the ceiling and her eyebrow raised. "You're right. Maybe we are out. But…how? Why?"

"Or maybe this is just Eros messing with our heads again," Zabini growled. "He'd been listening in on our conversations. Maybe he knew the ceiling thing gave him away and fixed it."

Seamus weighed several options for testing the theory, but in the end, he went with the simplest solution: to summon Potter's elf.

"Dobby, if yer there, come on out."

With a 'pop' and a small disturbance of air, the little house elf appeared before them. He gave a loud, sobbing cry and threw himself at Lavender's legs, tangling up in them. "Oh, Masters and Mistress, Dobby was so worried! Dobby could hear your calls, but could not come in and answer until now!"

As Lavender tried to calm the small fellow, Zabini glanced down at the creature with an intense consideration. "Well, I think that confirms that we're out." He snapped his fingers in Dobby's direction. "You, Elf, go find Ginny and bring her here. Now."

"Don't speak to him like tha'!" Seamus protested. He was irritated by the callous way many wizards treated the 'little folk'. Technically, house-elves were relatives of the Fae, same as Veela, and it had always scratched him wrong how they were mistreated by wizards. Granger and Potter had the right of it there, he was starting to see. "He's no your servant."

"Technically, he is," the other man stated. "Potter loaned him to us for the night."

"No, actually, he didn't," Lavender jumped in, defending both the elf and Seamus' point of view. "Dobby's a free elf. He comes and goes at his own pleasure. He works for Harry, for pay. He's not a slave." He tone softened a bit, and it was clear she was trying to reach her ex-lover, not bash his head into the wall to get her point across…although the visual did have Seamus grinning like a wolf. He'd pay to see that, actually. "Not even the elves my parents have are treated like that, Blaise."

Zabini glowered at them both. "If Ginny's out, I need to find her. Don't stand in my way."

"Are you threatenin' us?" Seamus countered, rising to the challenge. He'd been itching for a reason to slam his fist into the other guy's face all night.

Stepping in front of Lavender, he met Zabini head-on. They were roughly the same size, with the bloke only carrying a few inches on him. Still, Seamus was confident he could take the Slytherin, if push came to shove. He'd been raised brawling in the streets of his old home town, and he'd been a Beater for years on the Quidditch pitch. Fighting came naturally to him.

In the end, it was the elf that diffused the situation by deciding what to do next.

Dobby wiped his arm across his tear-streaked eyes, so happy to be of service that he didn't seem to care that Zabini was being rude. "Dobby will find the young Miss Weasley, sir. Dobby is sure he can do it." He blew his nose once into a kerchief that he stuffed into a pocket of the elf pants Harry had given him to wear, and with a snap of his fingers, was gone again.

"Stop, both of you," Lavender growled at them, and began pacing, pushing her long hair off her face. "If we're out, we need to figure out why, and if anyone else is, too. There's no time for a show of plumage, boys."

Zabini glanced at her once, sniffed, and turned away. "Just know if the elf finds her, the first thing I'm doing is taking her to the hospital. She's my priority."

"I don't think she's going to like you abandoning her brother and friends to Eros' evil plans."

"Then you run off to Dumbledore and tattle," Zabini told her.

"Can't," Seamus reminded him. "Oath o' Silence, remember? 'Sides, they're yer friends, too, no? Way ta go fer Slytherin loyalty."

Zabini rounded on him, bristling and barreling for that fight again. "The only loyalty I have is to my witch, Finnigan! Of everyone in that room tonight, I assumed you would understand at least that much!"

That took Seamus aback.

"Whatcha mean by tha'?"

Dark eyes cut between him and Lavender, and back again. "She's yours. The thing inside you has known it since the first time you met. You've just been too stupid to decide on it until tonight." He stepped closer and tossed Seamus a dark, glittering smirk filled with meaning. "Like knows like."

Seamus felt all the blood drain from his face, was dizzied again by its rushing through his veins. Zabini had somehow guessed what he was! His heart began a war cadence in his chest, as he scrambled for a reply that wouldn't give away his family's secrets.

When nothing came, it was Lavender that called him back from the edge of danger once more.

"Blaise, enough! He told me. You have no leverage here."

Zabini's gaze turned to her and that smirk widened. "But have you told him?"

Lavender blinked, her expression shifting into one of confusion. "Told him what, about you and me? About our past? Yes."

The warning growl that escaped Seamus' throat then was unexpected by all of them, most especially him. It had been instinctual and uncontrollable, just like earlier that evening, when they'd discussed the subject of Zabini's relationship with Lavender this past year.

"See, clearly he already knows," she said with a wave towards Seamus. "You're only provoking him."

"That's not what I'm talking about, darling," Zabini crooned, his amused gaze passing between Lavender and Seamus like he was enjoying a game of ping-pong.

The familiar endearment only infuriated Seamus worse. This time, an animal-like snarl escaped his lips. That only seemed to encourage Zabini, however, whose grin had become downright nasty.

"Then speak plainly," Lavender demanded of her ex-lover. "You know I don't like your Slytherin mind-games."

He looked right at Seamus when he said, "So, lover boy here doesn't know you're a quarter Fae as well, Brown?"

Everything…just…stopped.

Seamus' anger bled away, and in the ensuing silence that followed that verbal bomb, all he could hear was his own heart pounding loudly in his ears.

Fae.

Lavender was part Fae?

Like knows like.

Holy shit on stones, it explained so much, didn't it? Her sweet taste, her pixie-ish looks, why he'd noticed her that first time on the train and felt compelled to be near her ever since... It even explained why he'd allowed himself to release and spill his seed inside Lavender first; he'd pulled out and refused to do so with his first lover, Pansy, afraid to give the Queen of Slytherin any hold over him. Yet, with Lavender, he'd been desperate to fill her, so much so that he'd rushed their first coupling and hurt her.

It explained why her repeated rejections had spun him into a need to take out his obsession on others, fucking without care, sometimes without gentleness, just wanting to feel the high and purge Lavender from his system. He'd failed over and over again to get her gone from his blood and his heart, and now he knew why.

She'd always been meant for him.

Like knows like.

Lavender frowned. "I'm not Fae."

Zabini snorted. "Yes, you are. Why do you think I 'encouraged' you to my bed?" He glanced at Seamus from the corner of his eye. "I tried with you, if you'll recall, but you refused me."

It suddenly occurred to Seamus that Zabini's sex life had been rumoured to be as powerful as his own. "An' you'd know this, how? Are ya admittin' ta being Fae, too? Is tha' why ya know 'bout me and Lav?"

When Zabini turned away and refused to respond, Seamus pressed on.

"Is tha' wha' ya meant about yer loyalty ta Ginny? Didja spill three times inta her? Is she yer Fae mate, then?"

Before Zabini could reply, with a 'pop' Dobby appeared with Ginny Weasley hovering nearby. She was spitting mad and demanding to be put down.

Rushing to Ginny's side, Zabini took his partner into his arms as Dobby's magic released her. Automatically, she wrapped her arms around her lover's neck and snuggled her face into his throat. "I'm fine," she told him, clearly irritated. "Just annoyed at being asleep one moment, and the next finding myself neck-deep in a pile of musty, dusty old towels. Ugh. They really need to get some Doxycide in here. Some Cleaning Charms wouldn't hurt, either."

Watching how Zabini spoke softly to her, his hold upon her protective and careful, Seamus thought he'd been on the right track regarding the big Slytherin's real heritage. Interesting.

But if he was Fae, was he Seelie or Unseelie Court? It made quite a difference, and could explain why Seamus always felt rather uncomfortable, even hostile towards the fella.

"Ginny, are you alright?" Lavender asked, hurrying over to them.

Seamus hung back a few steps, unsure how to feel about everything Zabini had thrown down a few minutes ago. The Fae within him wanted him to snap Zabini's neck for having admitted to intentionally luring Lavender into his bed just so he could have a go at someone part-Fae (not to mention the fact he'd attempted to do the same to Seamus), but it also wanted at the same time to drag Lavender off into a corner and fuck her hard, this time finding completion within her two more times just to make it official.

Jealousy, ire, and confusion warred for first place in his psyche, with confusion winning out at the moment.

His leg started to jiggle with nervous energy. He needed a pixie pop bad.

"I'm taking her up to the hospital wing for a Blood Replenishing potion," Zabini told them. "Don't try to stop me."

With Weasley in his arms, he headed off without another word.

Lavender looked at Seamus, and then at Dobby. "Try to see if you can find anyone else from our game group around here or the castle," she told the little elf. "Find us when you've completed a search or get any indication that you might be able to get to the others, if they're still trapped in that card deck."

She took Seamus' hand and began tugging him after Zabini and Ginny Weasley.

"Oh, and find the 'Eros & Psyche' card deck if you can!" she called back over her shoulder to Dobby. "Bring it straight to me if you do!"

Feeling like a dirigible poked with several holes, Seamus allowed Lavender to drag him about, wondering what had gotten into his witch's head this time.

"Where we goin', angel?"

"Zabini, wait!" she called out. The guy never slowed down, but they did catch up to him with their jobbing stride. "You can't… How're you going to explain Ginny's condition to anyone we run into on the way? The Oath will punish you if you try."

"She's right," Ginny pointed out. "We can't just march into the hospital wing like this. Any teachers we see will ask questions."

"And none of us have our wands to Disillusion ourselves," Lavender pointed out the obvious. "I know Sea and I dropped ours when I was…attacked."

She rubbed at one ear. They'd cleaned up the blood that had erupted from there earlier, but Seamus sensed Lav was reliving the moment of horror, because she shuddered. He wondered what she'd been hearing to have her shout, 'STOP!' at it over and over again. Should he ask, or just leave it alone?

He'd never been very good at determining if it was appropriate or not to cross certain lines to show his concern for another. That hesitation...it's what had gotten him into trouble with Lavender their first time making love; he'd left her to clean up and redress alone, unsure of what to do, and it seemed that had been all the wrong thing. Then he'd spent two years waiting and watching for her to come around again, when he should have been on his knees, begging forgiveness every day until she'd granted it. Staying away had only caused more resentment on both of their sides.

If only he wasn't always doubting himself, at least about certain things—the important things. Maddie had really fucked him up in that regard…

"‒and I dropped mine a long time ago," Ginny said, and Seamus realised he'd missed some of what she'd been talking about because he'd been in his own head. He tuned back in to the present, giving the conversation his full attention. "I can't even recall when or where I last saw my wand, in fact," she said, "which is really bad, because it's supposed to be our most prized possession, but it was like I couldn't really be bothered with my wand at all tonight, except to cast the Contraceptive Charm."

"Which is what Eros was betting on all along, I'm sure," Lavender concurred. "In any case, all our wands are still trapped inside the card deck, I'll bet, which means no magic to cover our tracks."

"Speak for yourself," Zabini replied. "Mine is in a pocket inside the robe. I go nowhere without it."

At that, Seamus and the two girls gave a collective sigh of relief.

"Well, at least we've got something going in our favour," Lavender pronounced. "Still, we have to help the others. If we got out, then they can, too. Right?"

"How did we get out?" Ginny asked. "Did someone break through a wall finally?" She tapped her lover on the shoulder. "Um, wrong way. It's left," she told him, having been part of the group who often used this room as an escape from Umbridge as well. "And have I told you within the last hour that I'm glad I fell in love with you?"

Zabini's chuckle was, to Seamus' surprise, filled with warmth. Usually, the guy was all ice.

"No, so feel free to flatter away at any time," he replied, following Ginny's instructions on how to navigate the maze of junk towards the exit.

As the two of them bantered in sickening love, Seamus turned to his partner. There were many questions he wanted answers to, and he'd decided over the last few minutes that he was tired of letting hesitation get the better of him. He'd made a hillock of mistakes that way, and was determined to grab hold of his Gryffindor-ness for once.

"So…Fae?"

It was a start.

His angel looked sideways at him. "No, Sea, Zabini's got it all wrong. There's absolutely no possibility. My father is the most human of all human politicians on the planet, and my mother, she's‒"

There she paused, her eyes going glassy and far away, and Seamus wondered what she was remembering that had her cheeks going pale.

"Merlin, my mother," she moaned in horror, and her grip on his hand tightened until he thought his fingers would fall off. "My beautiful, vain, vapid, flower-loving, crystallized pineapple-eating mother! She wouldn't have!"

Whatever it was, clearly Mrs. Brown had done, because Lavender became downright furious a second later as that realization hit her hard in the face.

"That bitch!" she screeched, and Seamus thought his ears were going to start bleeding next. "She knew! All these years, she kept it from me! It was right there in front of my eyes, but she never said a fecking word!"

She thundered so hard, Seamus was sure her head was going to explode at this rate. Her footsteps became footstomps, and he had to keep tugging her along as she slowed, seeming to want to stop and kick over a pile of dead furniture nearby.

"I bet she even tricked my father!" she railed. "I bet he doesn't even know!"

"Uh, doesn't know what?" Ginny asked, staring at them both over Zabini's shoulder.

"That I'm part Fae!" Lavender snarled. "My mother's some degree of Fae, and she never told me!"

"Then how do you know?"

Lavender waved at Zabini's back. "Blaise figured it out somehow, with that…freakish Slytherin nose of his that sniffs out everyone's secrets."

Weasley snorted. "Welcome to the club."

Zabini must have pinched her then, because Ginny yelped.

"What?"

Her partner didn't say anything, but he did turn his head a bit and tossed her an indecipherable look. Ginny, it seemed, got the message loud and clear, though.

"Oh. Sorry."

"I'll kill her, Sea!" Lavender raged on. "I'll smash her pretty, little face in if she hurts my father when this comes out! They'll send me to prison for matricide! Get used to seeing me in black and white stripes for the next hundred years! It'll be ugly, but so worth it!"

Okay, someone needed a time-out.

"Go on ahead," he called out to Zabini's retreating back and Ginny, as she stared over his shoulder in wide-eyed shock at Lavender's sudden and loud cursing. "We'll meet ya at the hospital wing in a wee bit."

Ginny waved bye-bye to them as Seamus came to a halt, tugging Lavender to stop with him. When their friend and her lover were out of sight, he turned to his partner. "Get it out now," he told her and let her hand go, giving her the freedom she'd need to let this pain find air to vent. "The room's sound-proof, yeah? I'll not judge, me angel."

As if he'd taken all the guff from her gruff, she simply deflated. "She lied, Sea. She lied to all of us," she whispered in an agonized tone. "Does my father even know? Does my brother? Why didn't she tell us?"

"Does it matter so much, love?" he asked softly, worried that he knew where this fear of hers was coming from, and was suddenly unsure again as to how to tackle it.

For all their stunning beauty and relative harmlessness, and despite the fact they resembled humans in every physical manner and even spoke their common tongue, the High Fae were still considered 'monsters' by most witches and wizards. And like with Squibs, there was a silent undercurrent of prejudice towards such beings as a result. Although it was against the law to discriminate, it was a difficult crime to prove, much less prosecute, especially when the bigotry was done in inconspicuous ways. The pure-bloods had been ace at doing it to Muggle-borns and Muggles for centuries.

Seamus feared Lavender's real issue was with being lumped into the same category. It was fine to love a Fae, but to find out you were one, too… He thought, perhaps, that this might not be an easy thing for her to accept.

"Yes," she said. "It matters, even though it's horrible to say that. You know why it matters as well."

He hung his head. "Yeah, angel, I do." Which was why he couldn't fault her for being resentful and afraid of the information getting out. He'd kept his heritage a secret for the same reason, after all.

"But…there's more to consider than just what other people think," she said, "More about the issue than just my mother lying and tricking me and the rest of my family."

His stomach turned sour in an instant, especially when she got that distant, weepy-eyed look in her eye again, and like clockwork, his self-preservation instinct for 'fight or flight' kicked in. This time, however, there was no one to fight, and he still had no sugar quill available to help him ignore the insistent urge for action. He was forced to simply stand there like a yump, shifting from foot to foot, and wait for the other shoe to drop.

"Your family is from the woodland nymphs, you said."

He nodded. "Of the Meliai tribe. Seelie Court fairies." He hurried to reassure her, "They're the good kind, angel. You'll no have ta worry about me tricking or harming ya, I swear it."

"I know. I told you I trusted you, Sea, and I meant it." She glanced down at her shoes. "But I also remember the differences between the kinds of Fae from our D.A.D.A. and Magical Creatures classes." Shivering, she wrapped her arms around her middle. "Which is what has me worried."

He considered what she wasn't saying, and his heart dropped like a rock into his stomach. "You think‒? No, angel, yer ma can't be o' th' Dark Fae. You're no Unseelie!"

She couldn't be...could she?

No.

NO.

He wouldn't accept such a thing, because then they'd be enemies by accident of birth. No creatures of goodness, who wielded white magic, could ever abide any members of the Unseelie Court, who were made from dark magic and practised black spellcraft.

No, he wouldn't even think on such nonsense! If Lavender was part-Fae, she was Seelie Court all the way.

A small sob escaped his girlfriend's mouth, as if she knew where his thoughts had gone. "But you don't know that. My mother could be Queen Maeve, herself! She certainly schemed well enough to be, tricking all of us as she has. Isn't manipulation something Unseelie Court are known to do? And besides, there's potential proof right here, between us. You know those shocks I feel every time we touch? What if they're meant to warn us that what we are isn't compatible?" she asked in a small, pained voice.

"Angel, you're wrong‒"

He extended his hand to take her in his arms, but she danced out of his reach.

"Don't!" she cried, warding him off with her hands. "I'm serious about this, Sea! We could be unintentional adversaries!"

Firmly, he shook his head, his hands balling into fists. "Yer not! Ya can't be, angel. You're too sweet and caring‒"

"I cheated with Ron, I lied to Hermione!" she argued. "Those aren't the actions of a good person, are they? Those are things a Dark Fae would do!"

He could feel the panic mounting in his chest as she slowly began backing away from him.

"If yer evil, then explain ta me why I was drawn ta ya from th' start," he demanded of her. "Tell me why I can love ya so, lass. Why does my inner Fae want ya this bad if we're meant ta hate each other?"

"I don't know, Sea. Maybe‒"

"Maybe it's because yer jumpin' ta conclusions, 'cause yer still scared o' committing ta us and what we have, no? Is tha' what yer doing, Lavender? Are ya pushin' me away?" He hesitated, feeling his heart bleeding out onto the floor when we asked, "Are ya tryin' ta get me ta go and leave ya ta clean up this mess all alone, lass? 'Cause I no think I can do tha' ta ya a second time."

Tears fell from her eyes as she stared at him in misery.

"Tell me what ya want, love," he bade in a gentle tone.

Her voice cracked and a sob slipped past her lips when she admitted, "Please don't leave me again, Seamus."

"Then I won't, me angel. Not this time."

He closed the distance between them with a few long strides and took her back into his arms and held her close.

"I'm so scared of the truth," Lavender admitted, trembling in his arms, once again staining his shirt with her sadness. "It will change everything."

"Ah, me lass, ye were scared o' the truth a'tween us when we started this game, yeah, and it's turned out good fer us this far. Have a little faith, yeah?"

When her tears dripped down her cheeks, he gently wiped them away.

"Now that ye've asked it of me, I'll not let ya go again, ya know. So get all this Unseelie-Seelie nonsense outta yer brain, woman. Nothin' will be changin' me feelings fer ya. Ever." He bent his head and captured her honey-flavoured lips with his own to seal that vow. "From th' first time I took yer hand on th' train, I knew deep down ya were fer me, Lavender. Ya were always meant ta be mine. I feel it deep in me bones, witch," he told her around slow, thorough kisses. "I love ya, and no matter what, no matter where yer people come from, that won't change."

After a while, it seemed she began to believe him, for her return kisses became bolder, more assured. Her hands on his shoulders gripped him hard and her nails pressed in, silently demanding more.

When she turned her head and began kissing down his neck, pulling open the buttons on his shirt so she could run her hands over his hot skin, Seamus moaned. Merlin alive, what was it about this woman's touch that drove him mad? She was a leannán sí, surely!

Quickly, that spark of arousal between them grew into a roaring blaze that once more consumed him. Seamus forgot everything about place and time and circumstance, all his senses consumed by the woman in his arms. The spaces between them were suddenly too far, the clothes a barrier to what they both wanted and needed. When Lavender's nimble and naughty fingers reached down to unbutton and unzip his trousers, reaching into his pants to pull out his hardened erection and give it a rough stroke, he could think of nothing else but getting inside her and going deep.

Tugging her dress to her hips, he found she wasn't wearing anything underneath…and that she was more than ready for him again. "Bloody hell, yes," he hissed, and lifting her up with a pull of muscle, he brought her solidly down upon his cock in a single stroke. Her wet pussy slid easily around the length of him at the same time as her thighs went tight around his hips to hold on. "Yeah, angel, that's it. Take all o' me again."

The sex was fast and desperate then, as their need to reassure each other that what they had was explosive and good took precedence over anything else. Seamus fucked his woman hard, slamming her against the nearest piece of furniture—some sort of tall, slim cabinet—until she was begging him for release.

"Come in me," she panted against his throat as he plunged deep and fast into her welcoming body. "I want it, Sea. I want all of you again."

Body climbing towards ecstasy and mind reeling from the pleasure, Seamus had just enough sense to realise that her request might be spurred on by the heat-of-the-moment and tried to do the right thing by her. "God's wounds, I want to, me love, but you said a'fore‒"

She bit him in the lee of his throat, latching on and letting him know not to dare deny her.

"Oh, fuck!" he shouted as his will eroded, slamming harder into her. All protest evaporated from his mind, and his lower body took over then and did its thing again and again.

They were both going to be sore later, but that concern wasn't enough to stop him from taking her as he'd wanted to since that day in Flitwick's classroom, when he'd run his finger down her spine. He held her hips now and plunged deep and true, sinking into her with a hunger he'd never felt before.

Fucking hell, he was going to come so hard in her...

"Take it," he growled in her ear. "Take me."

Lavender chanted 'yes' over and over, getting louder with each stroke he fed her, until finally her body tightened and went cauldron hot all around him. She tipped her head back and screamed as she climaxed in shuddering waves that had her digging her nails into him from the pleasure. Her release triggered his. Seamus roared as he came deep inside her, his body jerking, his hips helplessly thrusting away as wave after wave of pleasurable explosions rocked through him.

When he'd given her his all and was thoroughly drained, he slumped forward, pinning her to the cabinet. It took several minutes for sanity to return and his lungs to stop sucking down air like it was going out of style, but once he was able to talk again he went about setting his lover straight. "Yer mine, angel," he growled into her shoulder, rubbing his sweat-slicked forehead against her damp skin. He wanted his scent all over her, too, so there would be no doubt to anyone after this that he was her man. "Even though tha' was only twice spillin' me seed inta ya, yer still mine. I can wait fer th' third time for years, if ya need, but… They'll be no runnin' from me now, understand?"

"I'd be a fool to try it," she conceded, snuggling into him, "especially if it's going to be that spectacular all the time. You've worn me out, my Irish."

With a sigh, his lover relaxed in his embrace, giving up the argument for now. Seamus knew it was only a temporary win, though; she'd want answers to the burning questions about her mother and her heritage, and as dogged as she could be, he knew she'd get them eventually, with or without him at her side. And if that information painted them on opposite sides of the hill, he was sure this issue would come up again.

That, he thought, worried him almost as much what they were going to do about the blasted game and that dead git, Eros.

~.~.~.~.~.~

Ginny made a face as she drank down the Blood Replenishing Potion Blaise had 'procured' for her from Madam Pomfrey's medicine cabinet.

"Ugh, ghastly," she hissed under her breath.

"So what now?" Lavender asked the group. "We can't tell anyone else about the game because of the Oath, so where does that leave us helping the others?"

Seamus had been considering what to do the entire way down to the Hospital Wing, as he and Lavender sneaked past sleeping portraits on the Grand Staircase. He'd gotten inspiration when they'd passed the picture of Circe on the fourth floor, and realised that this whole mess was one person's fault, in particular.

"Malfoy said the cards came from a Madam Aset, yeah?" he asked the group. "So…"

Ginny snapped her fingers and pointed at him as if he'd come up with a winner idea. "We find her and make her tell us everything she knows!" she said, a ferocious grin upon her cute freckled face. She turned to her partner. "You know her, right?"

Blaise glared silently at her, big arms crossed over his chest. "Of course I do, and you know the why and how of it."

Wiggling around on the uncomfortable wooden stool in Pomfrey's exam room, Weasley pulled a face, her pert nose wrinkling up with distaste. "No details, please. I'm having enough trouble not wanting to scratch her face off for putting her hands on you at all, even if it was for a good cause." She turned to Lavender. "Is it true she gave the card game to kids younger than fourth year?"

Lavender nodded. "Hermione mentioned that Lovecraft fellow, the Slytherin who wrote famous horror tales. She said his name was down for having borrowed the cards from the Madam, and that he'd only just finished his third year before having some sort of mental break, and‒" She paused and her eyes lit up. "He'd played the game just before that. Do you suppose it was Eros that drove him mad somehow? I mean, Parkinson read off the names of others who had borrowed the game, too, and I recognised some as being insane dark wizards from History of Magic class."

"If so, it means this Madam Aset has been passing around a game that she knows harms children," Ginny said. She flexed her fingers into claws and snarled, and Seamus thought her very much like a female raptor right then, ready to gouge the eyes out of her prey. "I don't even know the witch and I already want to skewer her."

Zabini chuckled. "Sheathe your claws, my lioness. Let's find out what Madam Aset knows first."

She glanced sideways at her lover. "If she's guilty of being a total bitch-whore, can I kill her dead?"

The only Slytherin in the room struggled to keep his expression straight, but his twitching lips gave away his amusement. "Whatever my lady wants."

Seamus looked them all over. Blaise and Ginny were both still wearing the robes they'd donned in the game, and Lavender was missing her shoes, not to mention she was running around without knickers. He was fully clothed, but his shirt had been balled up and used to help Lavender clean up after...well, after. He was wearing only a white singlet tank, his trousers, and shoes. None of them were physically dressed to go outdoors, and a check out the windows of the wing showed him it was nighttime, which meant the temperature would be cooler outside once they left the castle.

"We'll not make it ta th' front gate wearin' what little we are," he pointed out. "We'll need ta change clothes."

Ginny sighed, as she took in her state of undress. "He's right. Transfigured clothing only lasts a couple of hours, and we might be gone to Diagon Alley, or wherever this Madam Aset is hiding out, for longer than that. We'll need to get our regulars out."

"Right, so we split up and meet back down at the Entrance Hall in, say, thirty minutes?" Lavender offered.

Seamus nixed that idea in the bud. "Entrance Hall will be guarded by Filch or another teach, won't it? How 'bout we try a secret route outta the castle?"

His lover seemed surprised by the suggestion. "You mean the ones Fred and George showed us during the Umbridge year, the one behind the statue of Gregory the Smarmy on the fifth floor?"

"It leads to Dogweed & Deathcaps' root cellar in Hogsmeade. Brilliant!" Ginny stated. "That's right next door to Aberforth's pub. We can ask to use his Floo, rather than have Blaise side-along us one at a time." She turned to Zabini and explained, "Aberforth is Dumbledore's brother. He always liked Fred and George, mainly because they caused so much trouble for the Headmaster. I guess there's some rivalry there or something. Anyway, he let them smuggle in all sorts of things when they were here, like fireworks and gag boxes."

Seamus couldn't help but chuckle at that, recalling the twins' farewell party. "Tha' sparkin' dragon that had at ol' Umbridge was total gas."

Ginny grinned at him.

Zabini glowered and his shoulders tensed.

Tit fer tat, boyo, Seamus thought, delighting in aggro-ing the slimy Slytherin.

"I'll bet Aberforth will help us," Ginny continued, "if we tell him what we can without breaking the Oath. He's good like that."

They all agreed, and with Zabini waving a Disillusionment over each of them, they split off to head back to their common rooms, with the promise of meeting back up on the fifth floor before old Greg's statue in half an hour.

Seamus couldn't see Lavender or Ginny, which was disturbing, but he could hear them as they hurried up the stairs at his side as they raced for Gryffindor's tower. The Fat Lady was missing from the portrait when they arrived, so Seamus pried it open and the three of them hurried in and headed for their dorms.

Neville and Dean were asleep in their beds when he arrived, and he moved quickly and quietly to grab a clean shirt and a light summer jacket. Before heading back out, he paused with indecision for a moment more, then reached into his trunk and on instinct extracted his family's lucky charm—an amulet made of hardened honey resin with a small spike of iron in its centre.

Seelie Court Fae were immune to cold iron's effects, but dark fairies weren't so fortunate.

Later, when there was time, he'd use the amulet to prove to Lavender once and for all that she was no Unseelie Fae. All she had to do was touch it, and they'd all know the truth.

~.~.~.~.~.~

"Set?" Ginny asked from somewhere off to his left.

Seamus still couldn't see her, and was grudgingly impressed with Zabini's spell work for lasting this long.

There was soft assent from everyone, and then the statue of Gregory the Smarmy was swung on ancient hinges to the side. Behind it was an open hole that led down a flight of stairs into complete darkness.

Seamus reached out to where he knew Lavender stood at his side and took her hand in his, giving it a small squeeze to impart a little encouragement. "Don't let go. I'll get us through this, me angel," he vowed to her.

He felt her lean into him and press her cheek to his chest. "I know you will, Sea."

Her confidence in him bolstered his bravery, and he was right behind Zabini when the man lit his wand and headed through into the unknown.

Tonight, he determined while fingering the amulet around his throat, they were all going to get answers to their questions, one way or the other. And then they were going to save their friends from that dead git, Eros, and send the manipulative, little bastard permanently into the afterlife where he belonged.


TO BE CONTINUED…


Author's notes:

So, the crossing off of names didn't mean death (thankfully), but it did put an interesting twist to the 2 couples who were booted from the game, yes? Why do you suppose Eros would allow such a thing? Hmmm….

Additional: Please keep in mind that this story has the over-arcing plot of the card game and its influence upon its players' lives, but it's also a story about misunderstandings between couples and how they face and overcome them so they can win that 'forever love' that all romance stories strive to reach. It's a tale about people overcoming the odds to be together, and sometimes their decisions aren't rational or are emotionally-charged, because that's just how people react when their control is tested (plus, disagreements are a good angle for drama-angst and character growth in a story).

Also, there really is a secret passageway on the fifth floor corridor behind the statue of Gregory the Smarmy (novel canon). In 1991-1992, Lee Jordan found it, after Fred & George told him they suspected of its existence in that area of the castle (this was before they got the Marauder's Map, obviously). We don't know where it leads out, so I picked a Hogsmeade location at random.

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Translations & References:

Queen Maeve = The Anglicized spelling for Queen Medb, a queen in Irish mythology who was known for her strong and manipulative character.

leannán sí = (also spelled Leanan sídhe) is a beautiful Irish fairy of the Aes Sidhe (Aos si) who takes a human lover, usually an artist (she is a type of muse for their art). Lovers of the leannán sídhe are said to live brief, though highly inspired, lives.

Boyo, fella = Irish slang for "bloke" or "man"

Around the whip = Irish slang for an idea's high level of cleverness

The Jacks = Irish slang for 'the bathroom'

Had at = Irish slang for "attacked/went after"

Total gas = Irish slang for 'extremely fun/funny'

.

Musical selection for this chapter: "I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You" by Savage Garden. Lyrics are as follows…

Maybe it's intuition,
but some things you just don't question.
Like, in your eyes, I see my future in an instant.
And there it goes…

I think I found my best friend.
I know that it might sound
more than a little crazy,
but I believe…

I knew I loved you before I met you.
I think I dreamed you into life.
I knew I loved you before I met you.
I have been waiting all my life.

There's just no rhyme or reason,
only the sense of completion.
And in your eyes, I see
the missing pieces I'm searching for.

I think I've found my way home.
I know that it might sound
more than a little crazy,
but I believe…

I knew I loved you before I met you.
I think I dreamed you into life.
I knew I loved you before I met you.
I have been waiting all my life.

A thousand angels dance around you…
I am complete now that I've found you.

I knew I loved you before I met you.
I think I dreamed you into life.
I knew I loved you before I met you.
I have been waiting all my life.