Author's Note & Disclaimer – I don't own the characters of Harry Potter and I don't even own the situation here, which I think comes from a Middle English ballad. Anyways, this little plot bunny hit me and I had to write the idea down before it got to even more abuse from said plot bunny. The actual story of Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnell is at the bottom, if you hated my version and wished to read the real one. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
By the by, this is set in Harry's seventh year. So it's AU from sixth year on – as in Snape still killed Dumbledore – but Harry's gone back to school and McGonagall lets him go out on his Horcrux hunts, and the first part is during the summer holidays.
The Story of Lady Millicent Ragnell Longbottom
"Has itty bitty Potty come to get his revenge?" Bellatrix cried out in her babyish voice, laughing madly. "Is baby Potty mad that I killed cousin Siri?"
Harry swore silently, increasing his attack on the woman in front of him. She had a near impenetrable defence, he realised, and so stepped up the range of his curses and jinxes, praying that one of them would get through her shields.
He had only come back to Hogwarts to talk with Professor Dumbledore about the possible location of the next Horcrux. The locket, the ring, the diary and the diadem had already been destroyed, but he was still no closer to finding the others. The snake was a possible, and it was likely that a Hufflepuff artefact was also one, but he had no fucking idea where they were! He hoped that Dumbledore would have at least some idea of where the Hufflepuff one could be, and so he had Apparated up to Hogsmeade, since he could not Apparate inside of the wards. And then he had seen her. Bellatrix Lestrange, who was torturing one of the villagers outside of general notice. And he had had to do something! Luckily, no other Death Eaters were present, and he had quickly caught her attention with an Expelliarmus, which she had smoothly dodged, and then proceeded to start taunting him.
"Crucio!" she cried, and Harry quickly avoided the bright crimson light, shooting back a 'Reducto' in return. He cursed silently; it was getting harder to avoid all the curses, which seemed to be getting progressively quicker as she shot them at him.
"Petrificus Totalus!" Bellatrix suddenly shouted, and it was such a change from her Darker, and a hell of a lot more dangerous curses, that Harry simply stared for a moment before reacting. Unfortunately, that moment's hesitation had cost him dearly, and even as he tried to cast a shield, the spell flew straight and true, hitting him squarely in the chest. Harry's body immediately went rigid, and he fell clumsily, striking his head on the edge of a stone that was jutting out of the bracken.
"Let's make a little deal, shall we, Potter?" Bellatrix purred as she approached, conjuring a chair, and sitting gracefully in it.
Harry stared. Why wasn't she killing him? He was completely defenceless, and there was no way she could miss if she decided to shoot a curse at him. Or even place a Prtkey on him and take him to her master.
"You give me an answer to a little riddle of mine, and I shall give you your life," she declared, her eyes shining bright with lucidity. That was the difference, Harry realised suddenly. Her time in Azkaban had brought her to the brink of insanity and thrown her over it, and with her love of the Dark Lord, had obviously warped the love with her insanity so that during her bouts of madness, she was completely loyal to Voldemort. But when she was sane...she was the same old Bellatrix Lestrange who had, according to Sirius, when he talked about his younger years, although that was rare, loved to play games. Games that had very high stakes.
Bellatrix was watching him, twirling her wand about in her fingers, with a small smirk on her face. She could nearly see the thoughts whirling about in his head, and laughed merrily, catching Potter's attention.
"Wh-What do you want, Lestrange?" he tried, struggling for the courage that appeared to have deserted him as he lay defenceless upon the rocky path, his feet and hands bound with invisible ropes.
"Oh dear little Potter, I want many things!" she exclaimed with a nasty smile. "I want you dead and bound at the feet of my Lord, but I want to play a little game first. How about it, hmm? Your life for an answer, say?"
The only movement from Harry was a widening of his eyes, and refused to answer. Was it wishful thinking that if he didn't answer, she would simply go away? Yeah, probably, he thought grimly.
"Really, Potter!" she huffed in annoyance. "Where's that famous Gryffindor courage, hmm? Deserted you, has it? Like you deserted your godfather, leaving him to fall through that Veil?"
At this Harry struggled desperately to get up and hurt her, so that she could know what it was like to feel pain. Abandoning his efforts – it was obvious the ropes would not break – he merely spat at her. "You bitch," he murmured, his voice full of loathing. "Someday your time will come, and I only hope I'm there to see it!"
To his chagrin, the raven-haired woman in front of him only laughed mockingly. "Temper, temper, Potter. Will you answer the question, and I take your life six months from now, or shall I take it today?"
Harry hung his head, thinking desperately. He could only hope that it was an easy question, one that he could answer quickly. "Fine," he said reluctantly. "I'll answer it."
"The question is: what is it that women most desire?" Bellatrix said sweetly, with a smirk adorning her face. "I do not expect you to answer now, but be warned, should you not return to this spot in six month's time exactly, I shall find you, Potter, and I shall take you to my Lord where he will kill you. And to sweeten the deal, Potter, I will give you the location of a Horcrux."
"What?"Harry said, startled. "How do you know about them? And how do I know you'll keep your word?"
"Really, Potter?" Bellatrix laughed scornfully. "I am a Black! We have been dealing in the Darkest of magic for centuries! Of course I would know a Horcrux when I see one. And you shall have my word as a Black that I will honour this deal." She watched the boy stammer for a few more moments before deciding to leave. "Remember, Potter; six months only," was her parting shot before she cackled wildly, and Apparated away, leaving Harry to struggle up to standing as the effects of her spell wore off, before attempting to heal some of the places where the nastier curses had hit him. It was only then that her challenge sunk in.
Bugger, he thought. What the hell did women want? Despite having been with Ginny for over six months now, he felt he was still no closer to knowing her desires than before they had started dating. He paled. This was not going to be good. This was not going to be good at all, he decided. Wracking his brain over what they could possibly want, he started limping up to the castle, hoping Madam Pomfrey was still in the Hospital Wing, and wouldn't mind healing him before he headed up to the Headmistress' office, where the portrait of Albus Dumbledore resided. Hey, perhaps he could ask her?
Harry cursed silently. Six months had gone by rather quickly, with a return to school, and nobody seemed to know what it was that women most desired. He asked every woman he'd seen, 'and every one of them gave him a different answer. Some said riches and some said beauty, some said pomp and state, some power, some laughter and admiration, some said love.' Ginny had given him that last one. He doubted that any of these would be the right answer, since they just didn't feel right, but had written them down faithfully.
He picked at his breakfast, ignoring the sounds from Ron and Hermione as they scanned books, looking for the answer that would save his life. Ginny had refused to come to breakfast, and a roommate of hers had quietly told Ron that she was sobbing in her bed.
Harry didn't think they would find anything in the book, and resigned himself to the fact that he was most likely going to die today. Finally, he felt like he'd had enough of a few pitying stares from those who knew of his situation, and food that tasted like ashes, and glumly stood up. He wanted to leave quickly, and so gave Ron a hearty slap on the back, and a quick hug to Hermione, who clung on for a few moments.
"Can't we come with you, Harry?" Hermione said quietly, letting out a small sob that was muffled by his neck.
"'Fraid not, Hermione. She'd probably think I was trying to cheat her of her game or something, and hurt you guys. But, hey, I'll see you later, right? You never know, I might have the right answer down on the parchment," Harry said hopefully and left quickly before she actually started crying out loud. Give him a Dark Lord over a crying woman any day; at least you knew where you were with Dark Lords – all they wanted was your death.
"Potter!" someone whispered, as he left the Great Hall gloomily, lost in thought and of his impending death. "Psst!" This caught his attention, and he half-turned, seeing a Slytherin staring at him, and making beckoning hand movements. He squinted at her, finally recognising her as Millicent Bulstrode in his year, and infamous for being one of the ugliest girls in school. He looked around to make sure that she was, in fact, beckoning him, and when he was satisfied that it was indeed him, he moved slowly towards her, making sure to tighten his grip on the handle of his wand. She was a Slytherin after all, and if he wasn't mistaken, her father was a Death Eater. As he moved closer, she scanned the surroundings, obviously making sure that no-one was watching them, and he stiffened even more. Voldemort wouldn't want him kidnapped with witnesses, after all.
"I know the answer!" she whispered urgently, her eyes locked onto his as he approached. He raised his eyebrow in a questioning manner. "The answer to the question that Bellatrix Lestrange asked you," she clarified.
Harry stiffened. "How do you know about that?" he asked in a deadly soft voice, making sure his wand was out, and pointed at her. In the back of his mind, he wondered that her voice was so soft for such a large, and well, rather ugly, woman.
"Please, Potter," she said, rolling her eyes. "Everyone knows about it now. You haven't exactly been very subtle about it. Going around asking all and sundry. Why, I hear you've even resorted to asking some of the boys!"
Harry flushed, but didn't respond to her taunt. "So, what's the answer then?"
"On one condition, Potter; I want a favour from you. And I want your word that you'll keep this favour. Understand me! In fact, swear it to me, or I won't tell you," she hissed at him vehemently.
Harry raised his hands in mocking surrender. "Alright, alright. I swear that I shall do my best to fulfil whatever favour Millicent Bulstrode asks of me in return for giving me the answer to Bellatrix Lestrange's riddle." A glowing line of blue magic slowly materialised between the two, linking itself between the hands of the wizard and the witch.
Harry looked up, slightly stunned from the appearance of the magic. Nothing like that had ever happened to him before! He found himself on the receiving end of an odd look from the girl opposite, and it took him a while to realise that it was approval. "Clever, Potter, to cover your bases like that," she said with a warm smile on her lips.
"My Slytherin side," Harry said, shrugging the compliment off. "The Hat wanted to put me there," he added. He wasn't too sure why he was telling her this; she was a Slytherin after all. Although, on the other hand, she had never really done anything to him, unlike Malfoy and his goons who had taunted him throughout their six years at Hogwarts. Luckily, Malfoy hadn't come back this year; Harry thought he really might have hurt him if he had. He was then the recipient of a judging look, as if Millicent was now re-evaluating him, which, to be fair, she probably was. After all, Harry Potter's dislike of Slytherins was almost legendary, and yet here he was, cordially talking to her as if they knew each other well.
"So," he continued. "You give me the answer, and then tell me what you'd like to do."
"Fine," Millicent quickly agreed. "What women most desire is their own choice."
Harry gaped. "I never would have got that," he said after a few seconds. "Go ahead then, Millicent. What is the favour that you want from me?"
She blushed. "Please don't laugh at me, Potter, but there's a boy that I like. He's a Gryffindor, and I would ask him about it, but I barely know him, apart from our Herbology sessions. Because he's so amazing at it, and I'm absolutely awful, Professor Sprout wanted him to tutor me, and he agreed. So I was hoping you could ask Neville Longbottom and see what he thinks about me, and possibly ask if he could ever consider going out with me?"
Harry was smiling. "I'll see what I can do. But if this is a trick, I swear I will hurt you. Neville's a good person and he doesn't deserve to be hurt like that," he finished in a colder tone. He hesitated, and then said, "Thanks, Millicent," before moving away.
"And you're sure that it's correct," Harry asked, wheeling around and pinning her with a stern glare, just before the doors closed
She nodded happily; Harry had agreed to do what he could with Neville and getting him to notice her. The big grin on her face shrunk slightly though as she remembered that her appearance might put him off; she was quite famous for being one of the ugliest, if not the ugliest girl in school, she thought miserably. Well, she could only hope that he didn't judge by looks only, and took the time to actually get to know her.
As Harry walked down to the corner of the path where he had encountered Bellatrix, he felt something rise inside of him; something that had nearly died over the past six months as his search for an answer grew ever longer: hope. That women wanted their own choice actually seemed to be an answer that could fit Bellatrix's riddle, and Harry even dared to let a small smile appear on his face, which immediately disappeared as he saw the familiar figure of Bellatrix Lestrange ahead on the path. As he approached, she made no move to rise from her chair, preferring to give him a disdainful look, and then promptly released a mad cackle, making Harry jump, at which she only laughed harder. Unexpectedly, she stopped, and Harry let out a flinch as she rose quickly from the chair.
"You have the answer, Potter?" Bellatrix snapped, pulling out her wand, and twirling it around in her fingers with a pointed look at Harry, who took in a breath and nodded in confirmation. He silently offered her the list of parchment with all the guesses of the riddle's answer, and she snatched it, before checking it with her wand to make sure there were no hexes, jinxes, or curses that could hurt her. Satisfied with the results, she scanned the list, her smirk only growing with every wrong attempt. Reaching the bottom of the list, she smirked predatorily at Harry, before deliberately letting the parchment blow away in the wind.
"Poor little Potty," Bellatrix crooned. "No right answers, and I wonder if he knows what that means for him," bringing up her wand, and with deliberating slowness, aiming it at him.
"Wait!" Harry blurted out. He could see the lucidity fading away in her eyes, and being replaced by the madness that she was infamous for. "Wait," he repeated. "I have another answer."
Bellatrix lowered her wand, looking disappointed. "Well," she snapped. "Tell me. I'd quite like to kill you today, and I most certainly do not want to have to wait for what feels like another six months for you to tell me what you think the answer is."
"What women most desire," there was a long pause, and a slight intake of breath from Bellatrix, "is their own choice."
The black-haired woman in front of Harry froze, until a furious expression made its way onto her face. "Who told you that answer?" she demanded, sweeping across the space that separated them and pressing her wand to his neck. "Who told you?"
Harry was starting to turn blue, due to the hard pressure of her wand on his neck which was pressing into his trachea. "Tell me, Potter!"
"Draco Malfoy!" he finally managed to gasp out around the wand. "It was Draco Malfoy who told me." Harry looked down, as if in shame that he had given up his helper, but really to hide the smirk that was appearing on his face. Hey, he was going to use any chance he got to try and discredit that little ferret. Why not?
"Draco Malfoy," Bellatrix murmured softly, yet with a strong undertone of anger. "My own flesh and blood dares to help a half-blood. He will have to be punished." She pulled her wand away from Harry's neck, and he collapsed on the ground, rubbing at his neck, trying to massage air back into his windpipe. The Death Eater looked down at him, startled, so caught up in her plans that she had quite forgotten that he was there.
"So, Potter," Bellatrix sneered. "I suppose you can go free this time, but be warned, if I ever see you again, I don't plan on playing any games."
Harry looked up at her defiantly. "Nor do I," he said, glaring at her. "I said that I'd be there to see you die, and I mean to keep my word!"
Bellatrix's eyes flared with a momentary spurt of anger, and started forward, most likely wanting to hurt him badly, before she hissed in pain, grimacing as she clutched her left arm to her chest. "Next time, Potter," she swore vehemently, and prepared to Apparate before Harry interrupted her concentration.
"Ah ah ah," Harry chided, with a smug smile adorning his face. "What about the Horcrux you promised me? I gave you the right answer, and you promised, upon your word as a Black, that you would give me the Horcrux. So, I'd quite like it now, please."
Bellatrix stopped, an ugly expression of fury on her face, and spun around, glaring at the boy in front of her. There weren't enough methods of torture to really do what she wanted to him; she wanted him to hurt, and she knew that the Dark Lord would see this transgression in her mind, and punish her. And now she couldn't even hurt the boy to make up for it! She stalked colder, and was, in the back of her mind, gratified to realise that the boy had shied away from her, and her obvious fury. She said nothing, but merely waited for a few moments, watching as the fear started to grow, although being a Gryffindor, he tried to hide it, but unsuccessfully.
"Take the fucking Horcrux then!" she spat as she turned and Apparated away, after throwing said Horcrux at Harry's feet. Harry was frozen on the spot for a moment, before letting out a long breath, and started to laugh, almost hysterically. He'd honestly thought that Bellatrix would seriously hurt him, but he'd done it! He'd got the answer, and now he had another Horcrux, which he could almost feel the Dark magic seeping from it. Speaking of which, it was probably best to destroy it now, and he mentally summoned the sword of Godric Gryffindor, letting out a victorious cry as he swung the sword down hard onto the Horcrux and a dark, almost acrid smoke spilled out of it. As Harry watched, stumbling back away from the smoke, it almost appeared to take a shapeless but still a recognisable human form before washing away on the breeze that was lightly blowing across the dusty path and into the dark copse of trees that lay at the side of the road.
"Hey, Neville!" Harry greeted, slightly awkwardly. "How are you, mate?" It was difficult, Harry thought absent-mindedly, to talk to your friend when you were trying to set him up with one of the ugliest girls in school. Although she did seem nice. For a Slytherin, that was. And she had mentioned that she liked Herbology so at least they had something in common. And who knew, perhaps even Neville had a bit of a thing for girls who liked Herbology; not just the lessons but doing extra work for it. Judging by that plant he was nearly fondling, Harry decided that he did, and brightened up. His task looked to be getting a lot easier!
"Harry? Harry?" Neville called. He was slightly worried; Harry had just greeted him, and then spaced out, but it didn't look to be too serious, with that smile at the end. Neville shivered. Why did he just feel that someone had walked over his grave? Actually, that smile of Harry's was starting to make him a bit anxious; it was a smile that said 'I have plans in store for some poor unlucky sod.' And if a smile could laugh evilly, then that smile just did. Neville started moving away from Harry, hoping he wouldn't notice him doing so, and as soon as he'd judged himself to be a safe distance away, he said hurriedly, "Bye Harry! Just got to put this plant upstairs..." and dashed off, away from the Smile, and nearly running into one of the second years on the way.
Later that evening, Harry once again encountered Neville at supper, who had tried to sit as far away from Harry as was decently possible. That Smile was still on his face; Harry was again thinking about ways to get Neville and Millicent together. Everyone had noticed the Smile, but out of politeness, had chosen to say nothing about it. They could only hope that Harry's plans were directed at someone not in Gryffindor, and the majority of the table had resolved to make a run for it as soon as supper was over.
By the time Harry next looked up, nearly half of the table had disappeared out the door. He mentally frowned; normally the majority of the Gryffindors were there until the bitter end of supper, yet they – hey, there was Neville! Time to put the plan into action, he thought, mentally letting out an evil laugh. Ron and Hermione shared a worried look, but did nothing as Harry rose from the table and walked quickly to the door. They'd learnt over the years that it was probably best not to stop Harry when he wanted to do something and was in this kind of mood.
"Hey Neville!" Harry shouted down the corridor. "Neville!" The boy in question only put his head and tried to walk faster but failed. Harry sprinted up behind him, and slowed his pace to walk beside him. "Didn't you hear me?" Harry asked, frowning.
"Um, n-no?" Neville quickly stammered back in reply. Perhaps he would go away now? And take that blasted Smile with him? There was the promise of evil in it.
"So, Neville," Harry said cheerfully, dismissing the stammered reply. "I have a problem, and I believe that you are the man to solve it," slinging an arm around Neville's shoulders. He whimpered in reply. And then it hit him – he was the poor unlucky sod that the Smile had been talking about, and promptly tried to make a run for it. Alas, Harry's arm was holding tightly onto Neville, and he could barely move.
"Potter! Longbottom!" shouted a voice. Harry mentally groaned. Trust Malfoy to try and cock up his plan. Just when it was going so well! Well, despite the fact that he hadn't told him anything, but he hadn't fainted even when Harry had started talking. That was progress.
Harry turned around in exasperation. "Is there anything you wanted, Malfoy? Anything besides taunting us with insults that we've been hearing for years?"
Malfoy's eyes flared with anger. "You'll pay one day, half-blood. I'd do it myself if the Dark Lord didn't personally want you."
"Sign yourself up on the list then," Harry mock yawned. "Right behind the rest of your family and your little Master. Oh, but wait. We've fought before, and I won. Shouldn't that tell you something, little Malfoy? Speaking of which, I hear your Auntie Bella's looking for you, Draco," Harry sneered. "I believe she said something along the lines of a punishment for her dear, dear nephew. Ring any bells?"
Malfoy paled. He knew his aunt very well, and therefore the punishment that she would bestow on him would be very painful. But why? He put it to one side so that he could get on with his business of annoying the Gryffindor idiots, except...they were gone. He cursed and stamped his foot on the floor, and then whirled around, storming off. He would complain to his parents about this. Nobody should treat a Malfoy so!
Further down the corridor, Harry was still talking to Neville, who had tuned out all of Harry's words, and was only determined to try and find a way to escape from Harry's clutches.
"So I hope you two will be able to talk about it and sort out your differences," Harry finished, propelling Neville into the room beside him. It was only at this point that Neville tuned back in, after the forcefulness of Harry's shove, and let out a small whimper as he realised where he was: the Room of Requirements.
"Hello, Neville," came a voice from behind him. Neville spun around, and was really quite astounded to find Millicent Bulstrode there.
"Millicent? Did you want me to tutor you now?" Neville asked, confused. They normally only saw each other in classes and when Neville was helping her with her Herbology. He didn't mind bumping into her; he had discovered that she had a wicked sense of humour, and it was really quite refreshing to hear a Slytherin's view on everything. In fact, one could even go so far as to say that he liked her. The scandal of the century!
"Actually Neville, I wanted to talk about something else. You know that riddle that Potter had to solve?" Millicent replied. If she could approach this in just the right way, maybe he would consider dating her. And for that the story was needed. The boy nodded in reply, and wondered where she was going with this.
"Well, I gave Potter the answer," she explained, "and I asked him to do me a favour. He was to help me with a boy that I like and in return I gave him the answer."
Neville still looked clueless. "What does this have to do with me?"
Boys, Millicent thought despairingly. "You are the boy that I like," she said awkwardly. This really was odd, she decided. Normally Slytherins never let anyone get an idea of their emotions, and here she was, telling a boy that she liked him!
Without noticing the two had stepped a bit closer together. She had the most beautiful eyes, Neville noticed dimly. The blue that everyone noticed first was a beautiful sapphire yet had flecks of a cloudy silver-grey, making them seem almost otherworldly. They were filled with hope and trust as Millicent looked steadily at him, with a small smile on her face.
"So Neville," she started. "Would you go out with me?" She looked down at the floor quickly, not wanting to see the look of rejection on his face. She knew she'd taken a chance in asking him out; they were from Slytherin and Gryffindor, she was ugly and she'd heard a few rumours going round about a Hufflepuff liking him. What Gryffindor would ever choose a Slytherin over a Hufflepuff?
"Um, yes?" Neville really hoped this wasn't a trick. He didn't want to be completely ridiculed the next day for saying yes to Millicent Bulstrode, but it didn't seem like a trick. At the moment, she looked much too love-struck to be playing a prank, flicking her eyes up and blushing when she looked at him. It was also perhaps a bit of kindness, Neville thought later on. She couldn't have ever had a date, and she was asking him; he didn't want to hurt her.
"I completely under- wait, what?" Millicent asked in disbelief. She couldn't have heard what she thought she'd just heard, could she? Did Neville Longbottom actually say yes?
A huge smile broke out on her face, and it transformed her. The smile lit up her face, taking attention away from her skin and nose.
"And there's also something else about me that you should know. It should happen right about...now," Millicent added, and Neville looked on in amazement as his new girlfriend's features almost seemed to melt, and then reform into one of the most beautiful faces he had ever seen. Her once stringy and greasy black hair had become long locks of raven that shone brightly under the candlelight as they fell down Millicent's back. Her once spotty and pockmarked complexion had now became smooth, and leaving it as white as milk in colour. Her mouth was small and sweet, and a quick thought ran through Neville's mind of how lovely it would be to kiss those cherry red lips. Her nose had straightened, and appeared to have shrunk slightly, bringing out her large, dark eyes, which still shone brightly under the flickering candle-light, and if they had changed as well, he felt that he would not have recognised her, so transformed had she been. But there was a change of emotions in them; fear and devotion seemed to be dominant though.
Before Neville could ask why those emotions were present, Millicent spoke. "I was cursed at birth by a woman who had expected to be named godmother. She was not, and in her anger she threw a curse at me that turned me into one of the ugliest babies ever seen. It made me hideous by day and beautiful at night, and only someone who was kind of heart and loving could release me from it. So Neville, 'now it is for you to say, whether you will have me fair by day and foul by night, or fair by night and foul by day.'"
Neville considered this for a few short moments. "Well, I could ask that you be ugly by day, and beautiful for me alone. But that would be selfish of me, to have the others mock you for being with me, and still so...well, ugly. And it would make you happier to be beautiful by day, and you wouldn't have to listen to the others mocking me for liking you. I wouldn't mind listening to your lovely voice in the dark."
"That was a lovely answer, but do you see no other option?" Millicent questioned softly.
Neville looked blank for a good few minutes, before it dawned on him that there was indeed another choice. "You mean-of course!" he exclaimed. "Her riddle! Millicent...actually do you mind if I call you Millie; it rolls off the tongue a lot easier," he explained.
The woman in front of him looked slightly impatient for a moment, before acquiescing to his request. "Of course you can; we are dating after all."
Neville puffed himself up proudly. "I think it should be your choice as to which appearance you have. And you are a woman; you probably have a lot more expertise in this area anyway."
Millicent ran forward and hugged him. "You broke the curse! You broke it! I can't wait to show my parents. And I have to introduce them to you." In her excitement, she looked up, smiling, and found Neville's gaze focused on her eyes. Tension seemed to suddenly grow and fill the room, and she licked her lips nervously, which Neville's eyes shot to. There was a pause, and then, as if by some unspoken agreement, their faces moved closer until their lips connected. It was a short, sweet kiss, yet both were breathing rather heavily as they broke apart, both blushing. The tension was still in the room as they met each other's eyes, until Neville broke the silence. "Can I – that is to say – may I," he blushed, "do that again?" Millie simply smiled and lifted her face up to his again.
Neville and Millie both stood in front of the doors to the Great Hall, holding each other's hand. They had only woken up a short while ago, since they had no sort of alarm in the Room of Requirement, and the movements of their dorm-mates usually woke them. They had both slept on different sides of the bed, but had woken to find themselves curled around each other. Don't worry, readers, they had clothes on. Both blushing, they quickly separated themselves before dressing in their outer robes, having been taken off the night before. Millicent looked down at her clothes in slight dismay – she had always prided herself on her diligently clean appearance with hardly a crease out of place, and now her shirt was absolutely full of creases, and she had no time to change before breakfast. She put it out of her mind, though, but quickly pulled it back in when she realised that the shirt was too big for her. Her eyes opened wide and she squealed with delight, hugging Neville, as she silently asked the Room for a mirror. She clung to him, peppering kisses over his cheek, and saying her thanks many times as she looked at her new face in the mirror.
"Um, don't you think we should probably go down to breakfast, Millie?" Neville asked, his stomach making a large grumbling sound as if it had heard Neville's words.
"Of course, of course," Millie nodded, still dazed from the sight of her new face. Thank Merlin Neville hadn't been pushy about how he wanted her to look and that he had listened to her. She barely noticed where she was going as she took the mirror with her after leaving the Room of Requirement with Neville, who was gently guiding her throughout the halls and corridors. Finally, however, they were outside the Great Hall, and she had to reluctantly vanish the mirror.
"Ready?" Neville asked, looking down at her happily, but with
"Ready," she murmured softly, and taking his hand, strode into the Great Hall before kissing him on the cheek and walking off to the Slytherin table, whilst he moved back towards the Gryffindor. The short silence that had been afforded to the couple broke as students turned to each other to see what their friends made of this new relationship. A Gryffindor and a Slytherin! Whatever next? A couple of the younger and more gullible students were looking out the roof to see if there were any pigs visible.
Neville shook his head in slight amusement as he registered all the people staring at him, and Snape's reaction was truly something to laugh at. He looked absolutely horrified, and kept whipping his head between the Gryffindor table and the Slytherin table in disbelief of this new couple, the likes of which had never been seen before. Professor McGonagall had a small smile on her lips, which was echoed by many of the other teachers along the table.
Harry winked at him from where he was sat with his arm around Ginny, and silently raised his goblet to toast him. Neville returned the wink, and mouthed 'Thanks,' knowing he definitely wouldn't be heard over this din, before turning back to face Millie who had taken a seat opposite him at the Slytherin table. This way, they could pretend to be sitting opposite each other and eat together. Neville glared at the few members of the Slytherin House who were sending faintly lecherous glares in the direction of his girlfriend, and then smiled sweetly at the girl in question, who sent him a beaming smile in return.
Author's Note – So I hope you enjoyed, and please review! And I hope that everyone who received exam results on the 19th did well, and got what they were hoping for. And I hope those who received their GCSEs this week also did well.
Here's the story of Sir Gawain - Gawain is known to have had many lovers - at least 21 are named in literary sources - and is given different wives in various tales: Amurfina, the daughter of Sorcha or of the Carl of Carlisle. His most famous marriage, however, was to the loathly Lady Ragnell. While staying with King Uriens at Carlisle, King Arthur was overpowered, outside the city walls, by a local knight who spared his life on the condition that he return in a year with the answer to the riddle:
What is it that women most desire?
If he did not answer correctly, his life would be forfeit. A year passed, but Arthur was unable to find a satisfactory reply. Solemnly, he travelled to Carlisle once more; but, on the way, he met a hideous old hag sitting by the side of the road. Hearing of the King's plight, she promised an answer to his riddle, if he would find her a husband. King Arthur eagerly agreed, and was immediately told that what all women desire most is their own way! Arthur delivered his message, and returned to court in triumph. However, he now had to find someone willing to marry his saviour, the loathly lady. Gawain eventually stepped forward to save the King's embarrassment and the two were wed among little celebration. Then came the wedding night, when the old woman revealed that she was, in fact, a beautiful maiden cast under a spell. She could be hideous by day and beautiful at night, or vice versa, the choice was Gawain's. Torn by the selection, Gawain suddenly remembered King Arthur's riddle and told his wife she must have her own way and choose herself. Delighted, the lady declared that Gawain's answer had broken the spell, and from then on she remained beautiful forever. .
Also, the bits that are in quotes come from King Arthur Stories by Rosemary Sutcliff. That has a really good version of the story, and loads of other tales about King Arthur, if anyone is interested.
And yeah, the story of why she was cursed is very Sleeping Beauty-ish. I just couldn't think a good reason as to why she would be cursed like that.