CHAPTER FIVE: Kisses Forever More
Tuesday, December 19th, 2006
Decidedly sore after a night of serious romping about with Draco, Hermione awoke early and took a hot bath, letting her muscles soak up the soothing balm she'd put in the water. After, she dressed and made her way down to breakfast in the Great Hall. When she arrived at her customary seat, a full-blooming red rose was draped across her plate setting. Surprised with the beautiful and thoughtful gift from her suitor, she brought the flower to her nose and inhaled deeply, intoxicated by its lovely scent. An Orchideous spell, surely, for roses didn't bloom in December.
"Lucky girl," Septima Vector leaned in and playfully waggled her peppery-grey eyebrows. "You've nabbed yourself quite the hunk there in our young Mr. Malfoy, Hermione. I dare say I'm quite jealous!"
Cheeks neon red, she thanked her co-worker, unsure as whether it was safe or not to say more, not wanting to create even more gossip about she and Draco than she knew was probably flying about the castle even then.
"Shouldn't be too surprised, though," Aurora Sinistra smiled knowingly from down the table, picking her goblet up and toasting Hermione in fun. "Yours was a romance written in the stars. Both Mercury ascendants, Venus rising." She leaned over as if making a scandalous confession. "Astronomy and Astrology were once considered the same science, you know, and many of us still practice both for fun."
Next to Aurora, Sarah snorted and struck a smug expression. "You needn't have checked the alignment of the planets, sweethearts. As I told you all then, I foresaw this coming last year in the tea leaves," she flippantly replied, tossing a long, blonde strand of hair over her shoulder. "It was the primary reason I didn't make a play for the handsome Head of Slytherin's House myself. Knowing a man is destined for someone else really killjoys the interest." She winked at Hermione.
Pomona heartily nodded in agreement on the opposite side of her. "We all knew it was inevitable, dear. The way you and our irascible Potions Master have always fought – even when you were children. I recall the rows you had in my classroom well enough. You two always upset the baby Mandrakes! Tut-tut, I dare say that our Headmaster was right: you two are like the sun and the moon, opposites revolving about each other with need. Just like that Pritchard boy and Miss Goodstone."
And there it was – the missing pieces of the puzzle had just been inadvertently laid in her lap.
Wow, that was… How simple the answer seemed to be. Right in front of her nose, almost literally!
Now to find confirmation of her hypothesis.
"Is Minerva to be in the castle all today?" she asked, making her feet and grabbing up the rose Draco had left for her as she sidled around the table to head for the exit.
"I believe so," Pomona sputtered, bewildered by Hermione's sudden move to depart. "But dear, you haven't even touched your toast! I'm quite sure that's not a good start to the day!"
Her gaze moving to both the Slytherin and Gryffindor tables as she hurried out the door, Hermione noted that both Brad and Melly were missing.
A sense of rightness and urgency gnawing at her guts, her female intuition working on overdrive, she thought that now might be the perfect opportunity… "Point Me to Brad Pritchard," she commanded her wand as she stopped in the Entrance Hall. The wand spun on her open, flattened palm for a second before indicating a direction. Following the spell, she marched up the Grand Staircase to the Third Floor classroom corridor, and stopped in front of the room where she taught her Sixth Years the craft of Transfiguration. It was, in fact, her first class of the day, scheduled to start in approximately half an hour's time.
It was no surprise to find Malfoy standing outside the door, his wand trained on it, a Revealing charm showing any on this side of the closed portal exactly what was happening inside the room as if they were looking in with Superman's x-ray vision. They silently greeted each other with their eyes and smiles as she pressed in close to his side to watch the proceedings.
Inside her classroom, Melly and Brad were standing close enough to count eyelashes, both of them clearly terrified to take the step necessary to eradicate the seemingly-inexorable mistletoe spell that currently resided above their heads. Neither said a word as they hovered on the edge of the moment that would change everything for them; it was quite a palpable, powerful few seconds, making Hermione's heart pound with anticipation.
Brad made the first move. The ever-present scowl upon the young Slytherin's features melted away as his fingers caressed her cheek softly, moving to entangle in the female Gryffindor's soft, brown hair. Desire was blatant in the fire of his eyes. His other hand hesitantly rested upon her hip, slowly smoothing around her back to draw her in closer. It was Melly, however, who tremblingly leaned up on tiptoe and closed the distance between their lips.
Magic flashed over the two students, bathing them in white as the kiss deepened, and in her very bones, Hermione understood what she was witnessing – the surrender of soul mates to the magic of love.
Her hand reached out blindly to grip Draco's; his did likewise. He tightly entwined their fingers.
The mistletoe charm gave itself up with a pop, but neither participant in the kiss seemed in the least bit interested in moving away. In fact, they only seemed more encouraged by the new freedom… When Brad's hand pressed under his witch's jumper and cupped her breast, it was time for the adults to step in.
Draco released the spell, and both he and Hermione cleared their throats loudly, just outside the door. "So, I was thinking that perhaps we should combine lessons, Professor Malfoy," she spoke in a raised voice so as to give the illusion of approaching unawares of the situation, not wanting to embarrass the children. Reaching for the door handle, she pulled it open. "Perhaps we could teach the students to… Oh!" she faked surprise at the clear interruption, her eyes taking in the scene of Brad and Melly guiltily jumping apart. "Mr. Pritchard, Miss Goodstone – you're quite a bit early for this morning's lesson. Did either of you need to speak with me?"
The two students were red-faced as they quickly shook their heads, neither looking at the other. They took their customary seats across the room, pretending to wait for the class to begin, both fiddling with their satchels to retrieve their books and writing implements in distraction.
"We'll pick back up this discussion at lunch, Professor Granger," Malfoy informed her, an amused smirk taking up residence on his handsome face. "See you then." He turned on a knut and exited the room in a flutter of dark robes, not explaining how and why he'd known to come here to witness 'the infamous kiss.'
Moving to her desk at the front of the room, Hermione retrieved her lecture plan from the drawer where she always kept it, reviewed it quickly to recall the schedule she'd established for her class at the start of term, and then prepared the chalkboard with the title and a bulleted list of salient points for today's lesson with a wave of her wand.
Peeking between her lashes, however, she caught the covert smiles traded between her two students, and finally understood the reason behind the relentless pursuit of the mistletoe spell upon her and Malfoy.
By inferred agreement, she met up with Draco in the Entrance Hall at noon, and together, they went out into the Entrance Courtyard, hooking a sharp left, and down the short enclosure to the statue of the ugly, stone gargoyle that lead up into the Headmaster's Tower. "Fribble Bibble," Hermione recited this month's password, and the effigy moved aside, allowing them passage to the magically winding stair.
As they reached the top of the eight stories, she had to take a moment to calm her wooziness (she hated that spiraling ride, inflicted as she was with a touch of vertigo). When she'd regained her composure, she accompanied her wizard to the Headmistress' door and knocked politely.
"Enter," Minerva offered, and the door opened of its own accord.
The pair held hands as they crossed the threshold, preparing for a confrontation, united in purpose.
Minerva was sitting behind her desk, and looked up at them over her spectacles in that manner that had forever unnerved every student to pass through Hogwarts' hallowed halls. "Professors, how may I help you today?" she required, putting her quill aside and folding her hands before her.
Draco took the lead. "Actually, Headmistress, we're here to speak to…" He turned about, spotted the portrait that interested him, and pointed at it. "Him." Malfoy maneuvered them right under the correct picture and tilted his head back to address it properly. "Good day, Professor."
Dumbledore snorted in what was obviously feigned sleep.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Really, Professor Dumbledore, we know about the mistletoe gag you've been playing on us all month." Her free hand on her hip, she tapped her toe impatiently. "I started to become suspicious when Sarah mentioned having told everyone last year that she'd seen Malfoy and I becoming a couple in the tea leaves, but it was Pomona who accidentally let it slip this morning when she said 'Headmaster,' and not 'Headmistress' when referring to the issue of who on the staff thought Draco and I a fetching pair."
"The game's up, you sly devil," Draco grinned irreverently. "Severus' portrait tipped me off yesterday. He said, and I quote: 'only meddling, old fools play their hand at matchmaking.' There's only one man I know of whom he'd speaks so fondly, and who matches such a description."
Albus' lips twitched into a smile and then those heavily-lined lids twitched and opened. Twinkling blue eyes stared down at them, a world of mischief contained therein. "Me - meddling and old? How terribly impolite - if not a touch insightful." The old man crossed his legs rather easily, sat back in his chair, opened his hands and spread them apart in the age-old sign of surrender. "So, how will you penalize an intrusive, elderly fool for wanting to see two star-crossed lovers discover happiness together?"
Just like that, her former teacher disarmed Hermione entirely; her ire melted away in an instant. How was it that he always managed to accomplish such a thing with incredible ease? She turned to look at Draco and noticed it was much the same with him.
He met her gaze, a sheepish grin on his face, rubbing the back of his neck. "Well, when he says it like that…" he hedged.
"It's kind of hard to be annoyed with him, isn't it?" she finished the thought. On the tailspin of that, however, her natural suspicions arose again, her brain flashing through the facts and finding flaw with his confession. "Wait just a moment!" She appraised the replica of the Headmaster through narrowed eyes. "You couldn't have altered the spell on the mistletoe yourself, because portraits can't do magic. So who else was in on it?" She turned to cast a critical glance over her shoulder at Minerva, who said nothing, but did nervously adjust her hat on her head. "Were we right in assuming all of the staff was in on the joke?"
The Headmistress cleared her throat primly. "And the ghosts and portraits, yes."
"With so many spies about, it was quite easy to find the both of you around the castle," Armando Dippet, former Headmaster of the school, piped-in from his own portrait nearby. "It required a concerted effort from all of us to assure the plan's success, you understand."
"An effort necessary because you, my boy, are one stubborn mule when it comes to wooing a female," Phineas Black harrumphed from his frame, looking down at Draco with displeasure stamped across his patrician features. Hermione remembered this wizard from her days toting around his portrait while on the hunt for Horcruxes, and knew him to be one of Malfoy's direct ancestors, several generations back. "It certainly doesn't come from my side of the family, though, as we're all prolific lovers. Must be your father's fault." He turned away with a sigh and walked out of his portrait, as if disgusted by the whole enterprise.
There was a moment's speechlessness before Hermione attempted to clarify her understanding of just how truly devious her co-workers and the residents about this place had been by going down the list of incidents aloud. "It had to be Sprout and Neville that first time in the Transfig corridor," she guessed. "No way was it coincidence that they happened by just then."
Draco nodded in agreement. "But any one of them could have been responsible for the event in the Dining Hall entry, as everyone was present then," he ticked off the occasions on his fingers with her. "Sinistra was walking alongside me on the stairs heading towards the Second Floor that day we met in the girl's loo. I thought we'd parted ways as she continued on up, but maybe she'd quickly doubled back to find out where I was going and heard us talking through the door?"
Hermione nodded. "Timing sounds right. You'd come in, we argued for at least two minutes, and then the mistletoe appeared and we argued some more." She considered the next chance. "Entrance Hall balcony? Sorry, but I haven't a clue."
"That was Professors Hagrid and Septima together, actually," Minerva confirmed for them, coming around her desk to stand before it. She seemed the paragon of calm collection, but the way she nervously tapped her wand against her outer thigh spoke of culpability. "He was passing through the Entrance Courtyard on his way inside and had seen you, Ms. Granger, hanging over the railing. Catching sight of Mr. Malfoy's stealthy approach, he hurried inside and informed Professor Vector, who was in the hall below."
Raising an eyebrow at her employer's ingeniousness, Hermione dared to ask the next question. "And it was you, I'm to suppose, who cast the spell in my office when you saw Malfoy sneak in the other day? I'm going to guess that you left soon after that, and then came back later when you thought the coast was clear?"
Color bloomed on the elderly woman's cheeks. "Yes, well… let's just remember that locks were designed with a purpose, Ms. Granger, and to employ them in the future."
"And my office yesterday?" Malfoy prompted the school matriarch, smoothly and casually skipping them right over that embarrassing moment with the on-topic distraction.
Dumbledore coughed delicately. "The Baron informed Poppy that he'd seen you dragging Ms. Granger behind you into the Dungeons. She happened to be on her way past those stairs at the precise moment and was in a good position to take care of matters quickly and efficiently."
Shaking her head in amazement, Hermione laughed, unable to contain her admiration and wonderment over such a herculean effort by the group of co-conspirators. "You wily bunch of troublemakers! You actually worked hard to throw us together! But how did you alter the mistletoe spell?" she asked, burning with curiosity.
As if waiting for such a cue, a rather distinguished-looking gentleman wearing a white powdered wig and layered, expensive-cut robes - a fashion hailing from the mid-1700's - walked into Dumbledore's portrait. He bowed formally and gracefully to all. "I confess to having explained the means by which your colleagues might adequately carry out the deception against your persons."
Hermione definitely recognized this portrait, having studied him at some length most recently. "Professor Vindictus Viridian, what a pleasant surprise."
The man bowed again. "A paramount pleasure, madam." He embarked upon a well-rehearsed explanation then. "Having generated the curse initially, it was mine greatest challenge to work alongside Professor Filius Flitwick this past eleven month to redesign the spell to accommodate Headmaster Albus Dumbledore's requirements – specifically, that the spell might be redirected at a practitioner's will, rather than its own."
"And that took you almost a full year to accomplish?" Draco asked, his tone dry, almost mocking.
Professor Viridian looked astounded to be so challenged.
Hermione felt the need to defend the man. "The mistletoe spell is quite a feat of magic, Draco. The enchantment is almost a living entity unto itself. It resonates in every stone in the castle at the same time and it evolves naturally, combining the magic of Charms, Transfiguration, Astronomy, Arithmancy, and Divination to achieve its goal of…"
"…trapping two compatible bodies during a specific month of the year for the purpose of making a love-match," he finished for her. "I read that book, too, once all of this madness started to smell of a trap, Granger."
She sniffed, not liking being shown up. "Yes, well, I'd dare to suppose that it's probably the most complex spell ever cast upon the castle as a whole – even more so than the wards that surround this place – because it takes into account the fluidity of time, the movements of celestial bodies, biology, chemistry, mathematical probabilities and human psychology when deciding expressly who to target and when." She looked up at Viridian then, her respect for the man's skill as great as what she felt for Hesper Gamp, who was best known for Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration, and Bridget Wenlock, who first discovered the magical properties of the number seven in Arithmancy. "It's one audacious, unprecedented spell."
The man bowed his head in humble acceptance of her compliment.
"So, basically, all of you have been planning to throw Granger and me together since last year when Sarah informed you that she'd seen us having a relationship in the tea leaves?" Draco sardonically cut to the chase.
Albus smiled down on them benevolently. "Can you say our machinations have been a poor waste of time, then, Mr. Malfoy? Do you regret such interference?"
Draco seemed to consider that seriously, and then he shook his head. "I may not like the idea that I was manipulated so easily, but in this case…" He looked down at Hermione and smiled gently. "I'm pleased with the result."
Hermione had to agree. "I hate that it was Divination especially that was the catalyst for our getting together, but it's all worked out quite well in the end, I think."
Dumbledore clapped his hands together. "Excellent, then if that is all-?"
She shook her head firmly, realizing that one blaring detail had been overlooked in the chaos of the revelation. "This wasn't just about Draco and I, though, was it, sir? You wouldn't go to such outrageous lengths simply to get us to start dating. This was about Melly Goodstone and Brad Pritchard, too, wasn't it?"
Dumbledore lost his merriment from one beat to the next, and sighed heavily. "They are an important part of this tale, yes. As with the two of you, it was necessary to intervene in Mr. Pritchard and Miss Goodstone's relationship, before the damage of blood and House prejudice could not be undone."
Hermione considered his words carefully. "When they kissed this morning in my classroom under the mistletoe, there was an odd flash of magic. It means something, doesn't it?"
Dumbledore patient smile was as enigmatic as his twinkling eyes. "Perhaps."
"It was the same as what happened between me and Granger the first time we kissed under the mistletoe, too," Draco stated, and she looked up at him in perplexity. "I had my lids cracked a bit to make sure you weren't going to pull something devious and saw the same quick burst of light about us," he explained to her with a shrug. "I thought it was my imagination - until I saw the same thing around Brad and Melly today."
She thought back to that kiss. The peck hadn't done anything; they'd hardly touched then. It was the second kiss – the real first kiss they'd shared – that had melted her into a pile of goo. She remembered how aroused that kiss had made her in mere seconds, and now wondered if it hadn't been the work of some strange magic.
"You know something, don't you, sir?" she pointedly asked her former Headmaster.
Albus' gaze strayed to Minerva, and much was said in that silent exchange. "Despite the horrors of a war not a decade past, hateful blood prejudice still exists amongst our society, Ms. Granger. Sadly, we have discovered here at Hogwarts that our House system does much to contribute to aiding and abetting that division. Since education alone does not seem capable of breaching that gap, and since we do not want to dissolve a founding tradition of the school, it seemed only logical to provide examples of successful co-mingling instead."
It took her only a second to put it all together. "Make the uncommon into the common and eventually, the distinctions will blur until they don't matter anymore," she breathed in awe, fully comprehending his plan and seeing the brilliance of it. "You're using the mistletoe to match-make not just individual couples, but to destroy the lines that divide the Houses. You're using love, not war, to change everything."
Albus readjusted his spectacles upon his nose and smiled quite unapologetically. "Not to detract from the importance of your romance, Mr. Malfoy and Ms. Granger, but you two were our test subjects on the matter. And might I say that the experiment was a brilliant success!" His enthusiasm has returned as quick as that.
Unfortunately, his statement deflated Hermione's hubris right quick. She turned to her lover. "Go figure. We were the experiment. Well, doesn't that just make you feel special?"
That mischievous glint was back in Draco's eyes when he wrapped his arms about her waist and leaned his head down close to hers. "Well, since I'm meant to take you on a test run, Granger, what say we indulge, hmmm?"
Grinning with equal impishness, Hermione nodded, sliding her hands up his chest. "I suppose I'll have to make sure I'm getting my money's worth before I buy into the whole 'boyfriend' thing with you, Malfoy. Wouldn't want to make a bad investment, right?"
"Right," he agreed and captured her lips in a lush, wet kiss.
"Mr. Malfoy!" McGonagall gasped from across the room, clearly scandalized by the passionate snogging before her eyes. "This is certainly not the place for… would you kindly remove your hand from Ms. Granger's backside, and…? Oh!" She sputtered, her Victorian sensibilities pushed to their limits by the show she and Draco were intentionally hamming up. "Really, you two ought to be ashamed, groping each other like that with an audience present! Professor Dumbledore, will you please talk some sense into them? This was all your idea, after all!"
Chuckling, Dumbledore sighed good-naturedly. "Now Minerva, young love is not something to be contained." He paused, noting what was going on below him. "Although, I do think that such a display should be reserved for a more private setting."
When they didn't break away, the former Headmaster cleared his throat rather pointedly. Hermione ignored him, too enthralled by Draco's kiss just then. One of the portraits wolf-whistled in encouragement, which set off the others, who began clucking like mother hens, arguing over the atrocious manners from the youth today versus the miracle of blossoming love. The noise of the debate grew steadily until portraits began throwing things at each other through the frames and the discussion became something of a roar.
Hermione giggled, but did not stop kissing Draco until a cherry-cheeked Minerva forcibly magicked them away from each other. "Really," the Headmistress huffed. "You've had your sordid revenge. Now, I'll expect better restraint from the two of you in the future. You may go now."
They both snickered as they exited the tower for the Dining Hall to catch a late lunch, their hands automatically reaching for the other without thought.
Behind them, the Headmistress attempted to calm the rioting portraits down with little success. "Really, Everard, give Newton back his cap already. Heliotrope! What are you doing biting? Headmaster Fortescue, are you quite alright?"
Sunday, December 24th, 2006
Hermione basked in the afterglow of their lovemaking, sweaty, sated and decidedly sore. Draco had the stamina of a champion thoroughbred, and he enjoyed trying out new, kinky positions as much as she did. Spooning against him now in his bed, staring into the glowing hearth nearby, she sighed in contentment.
"Hmm?" she hummed wearily, fighting off the blanket of sleep that threatened to overtake her as the pleasant sensation of endorphins washed through her body.
She froze, her brain fighting off the fuzziness of exhaustion in a nanosecond as everything within her came alert.
"I'm in love with you - have been for a long time. I fancy you love me, too. So… marry me."
She was silent a moment, trying to assure herself that she really was awake and this wasn't just a dream. Had he really just asked for her hand? Seriously?
Draco shifted away, and she thought to herself that, once again, she'd over-thought the moment and ruined it. Turning abruptly to face him, she tried to explain her silence, so he wouldn't be mad. "You don't understand, I want to…"
Abruptly, she stopped as he shoved something sparkly and green and silver in her face. Crossing her eyes, she tried to focus on what it was.
It was a ring.
A fecking huge, antique sweetheart, round-cut emerald and diamond engagement ring.
"Oh, my God," she tremblingly exhaled, tears swimming in her vision. "Oh, my God, Draco!"
"I heard you the first five times you shouted that tonight," he smugly smirked. "Now, just answer the bloody question."
She nodded, crying. "Yes, oh, yes!"
Her hand was shaking as he grabbed it up and slipped the ring onto the appropriate finger, sliding it gently until it could go no further. Magically, it resized itself automatically, fitting her perfectly. "It's beautiful," she sobbed and threw her arm about him, kissing him hard.
Happily ravishing each others' mouths quite thoroughly had the effect of making them both hard with renewed need in under a minute. Slipping her hand between them, Hermione gripped Draco's staff and began stroking it gently. He groaned, nipping her ear, his breath heavy against her neck. "Told you I could make you paw all over me, sweetness," he arrogantly teased, flipping her onto her back and penetrating her slowly once more. "Told you I'd have you."
She raised an eyebrow at him in challenge. "Just get it over with," she mocked, feigning not to enjoy every second of his attentions.
He made her pay for her impertinence with a thorough pounding, gripping her hips and sitting up on his haunches as he took her hard and fast. "At least… I finally put you… on your… knees," she cheekily noted around panting for breath. He thrust into her deep and particularly hard then and she cried out, throwing her head back. "Oh, God!" she screamed, and climaxed around his shuttling cock. He followed her into bliss, coming only a few thrusts later.
In the aftermath, he slumped over her and she struggled to collect her breath. When she finally came around, she opened her eyes…
… and groaned loudly.
"Look up," she sighed, and Draco dropped to her side and flipped around to take a look at their ceiling.
He stared in silence for several long moments, and Hermione took that time to stretch out her senses and to try to feel out the magical aura of another person. There wasn't anyone nearby as far as she could tell, however.
"Who do you think it is this time?"
She shrugged. "Who else is left?"
"I don't know… Hogwarts," he sarcastically replied.
"The castle itself?" she asked, intrigued with the idea, raising her ring finger and staring at it lovely, twinkling gems as the firelight played over them. "It's possible, I suppose. Maybe Hogwarts isn't as 'dead' as we'd like to think. After all, if portraits can come alive, why not the school? There's enough magic and blood soaked into the walls here – over a thousand years' worth, and many of those spells are self-evolving, like the mistletoe charm. With all of the ethereal things moving around here, I'm sure some sort of sentient energy must reside within the stone foundations of this place."
Draco laughed at the absurdity of the idea. "Yeah, right, maybe the castle has really been behind everything, and it's tricked every one of us by dangling red herrings all about so we won't pay attention to the fact that it actually has a brain."
With a pop, the mistletoe was abruptly gone.
In the intervening silence, Hermione dropped her hand, reaching for Draco, her sensible anchor in a sea of insane thoughts. "So… um… this is certainly… awkward," she murmured, recalling she'd said those exact same words at the beginning of the mistletoe fiasco.
Draco cynically huffed, his body molding into hers as she pulled the covers over them. "This time, Granger, I wholeheartedly agree."
"Albus, do you think we should have told them?"
"No, Minerva, there seems to be little call to make them anxious for what is to come. They will find out naturally, in due time."
"But Sybil predicted before she left that in two years they would have their only child - a half-blood daughter. If this girl is truly destined to marry the half-blood son of Brad Pritchard and Melly Goodstone, wouldn't that mean the absolute conclusion of the Malfoy family line?"
"Perhaps it is for the best, Minerva. Many similar families have disappeared from England over the ages – the Slytherins, the Prewetts, the Peverells, the Gaunts, the Maxes, the Gamps, the Crouches, and the Burkes. The Blacks ended their chances with Sirius. Rosier and Yaxley were both killed in the war, and neither had children, so their tree is cut as well. Vincent Crabbe was the only son of his father, and Crabbe Sr. is currently in prison for life. There will be no opportunity for an heir there - nor will there be for the Lestrange brothers, as they are also behind bars for the duration. When Ms. Parkinson, Ms. Bulstrode, Ms. Brown, both MacDougal and Greengrass girls and Dolores Umbridge marry, their lines will end with them as well. The Malfoys will be in good company. It is the end of an era, I dare say."
"Yes, I suppose you're right. Although, I must confess that it feels odd to think that a Malfoy heir – even if she does change her last name to Pritchard - will have my job someday, and that her husband will be Minister for Magic. Will their union really bring about the end of pure-blood segregation once and for all? Are you sure Sybil is never wrong?"
"I'm quite sure, my dear. Now, what will we do about Mr. Longbottom? Sarah tells me that the tea leaves show his future divided."
"Yes, either he's to marry the Abbott girl within the next year, or he's to live alone until his death."
"Oh, no, no. The latter simply won't do. We'll have to come up with a plan to assure his marital success. Perhaps a reintroduction of the couple at a staff Valentine's party held at Ms. Abbott's establishment?"
"You mean, The Leaky Cauldron?"
"Yes, that is exactly what I mean. Perhaps a game of 'Cupid in Cups' might be just what the medi-witch ordered."
"Ooh, Albus, I must say that I prefer changing the world two hearts at a time over fighting any day! I haven't had this much fun in years!"
"Me either, Minerva! If only we'd thought of doing this when Tom had been a student…"
To see pics for the characters and the ring that accompany this story, go here: http:/ / s905 . photobucket . com / albums / ac260 / RZZMG / A%20Mysterious%20Case%20of%20Mistletoe%20Fever (remove all spaces from that URL to make it load properly).
According to the Black family heritage tree (as constructed by JKR herself), Phineas Black (1847-1925) is actually Draco Malfoy's great-great-great grandfather, and married Ursula Flint (who is related to Marcus Flint). You can find a picture of the family tree here: http:/ / harrypotter . wikia . com / wiki / House_of_Black (remove all spaces from that URL to make it load properly).
A list of the pure-blood families can be found here, in case you're interested: http:/ / harrypotter . wikia . com / wiki / Pure-blood (remove all spaces from that URL to make it load properly).
Cupid in Cups = A made-up game for this fic. I envision is being a drinking game of some sort.