Reuniting? Dividing? The wizarding world is a Chaotic place. The war is over...or is it? Bit of a AU, featuring Fem!HP/SS
Holly stared out the window, feeling terribly restless. She was on her way back from Hogwarts for another summer with the Durselys. You would think, with Voldemort gone for good, that she would be allowed to stay wherever she liked...but no.
She was going to have to stay with the bloody Dursleys. The Weasleys were rebuilding the Burrow, and didn't have room for guests, especcially with the wedding coming up. Hermione was off to another trip abroad with her parents. And Holly would be stuck in her room...locked up.
She sat in a compartment with her friends- Ron and Hermione were dating now- dating since the day that they had defeated Voldemort. It seemed like a lot of people had gotten together in the last week of term that followed. Holly figured they were all just so damned happy about everything that they naturally started dating too.
It felt like Holly was the only girl who wasn't dating someone in their year. Not without a good reason, of course. She was just 'one of the guys'. She was on the quidditch team, and built like a twig. Of course, she hadn't ever been allowed by the Dursleys to wear her hair long, and she'd never been allowed to wear anything nice. Even her dress for the Yule ball had been rather plain. Not that she had anything to show off.
But that wasn't the only reason for Holly's listlessness. She...felt...lost. Like she had no bloody clue what was going to happen now. What was she going to do after Hogwarts now? Everyone still expected her to be an Auror, but after this past year, she was bloody tired of fighting.
She glanced over as she saw Neville and Hannah cuddling up together. Neville's arm was still in a sling- he was, by far, the nicest boy to her, but she had never felt anything more than friendship for him. He was sweet, and Hannah was good for him.
She glanced to Ron and Hermione. While it was obvious the two had crushes on each other for ages, Holly quietly thought the two weren't suited for each other at all. But she would never say so to their faces. They would figure it out...she hoped, sooner rather than later.
She then looked to Luna and Ginny, who were whispering together with grins- that had been a bit of a suprise to them all. Luna had always been a bit strange, but Ginny had dated boys before...so when the two had been seen kissing each other during the celebrations after the battle, well...
To each their own. Holly thought they were cute together, but she knew others probably wouldn't feel the same, if they knew. Especcially Ginny's Mother. Only the people here in the compartment knew of their relationship, and they all hoped to keep it that way for a while.
She would miss them all over the holidays, but a part of her was glad to get away from it all.
They were soon arriving to the train station, and Holly carried her trunk and owl cage off the train, and said her goodbyes to her friends, and greeted the other Weasleys. The twins hugged her in unison, making her laugh, while Fluer and Bill (who were getting married that summer), took turns hugging her as well. She promised them she would attend their wedding, and soon she was leaving the platform.
She hesitated as she saw her Aunt waiting for her there, looking pissed off. As she approached her Aunt, the woman handed over a fistful of bills. Holly gaped at it.
"That Headmaster of yours sent us a letter. With that...Voldemort character gone, there's no reason for you to stay with us anymore. You're sixteen now, you can go get a job and take care of yourself. I don't want to see you again."
Holly set down Hedwig's cage on top of her trunk, and took the money. "...Well...I guess I'll be going, then." Holly said, pocketing the money in her too-big sweatshirt, and picked up Hedwig's cage. She turned around, and headed for another platform. She had no idea where she was going- but she wanted to get away. Her eyes burned- she felt hurt and angry.
She had left the Dursleys before, but this had felt so final. They didn't want her now either. She got onto another train, not even bothering to look at where it was going.
By that evening, she had taken the Knight Bus from Liverpool to Diagon. She figured she had money to blow in her vault, so maybe she could rent a flat in Diagon?
Upon reaching Gringott's, she learned that she had inherited Sirius' Estate after he'd died, and no one had thought to inform her. Nice. Anyways, she was bloody rich, one of the richest single women in the UK. Only a few could top her- Madam Zabini, Madam Marchbanks, and Susan Bones (Her Aunt had died the previous year, and had left her everything). She also owned a few buildings in Diagon, Hogsmeade, and more than a few in Knockturne. Most of the ones in Knockturne had been empty for years, and were sitting derelict.
Holly decided to stay in one of those. No one would ever look for her there, and it was about time she explored Knockturne. She'd always wanted to, despite the danger. The last time she'd spent the summer in Diagon, that had been before her third year, and she had been too scared to go into Knockturne. But she was older now, and could handle herself.
She was soon dragging her trunk behind her, going down Knockturne. The district was very quiet and still- it looked like all the windows had been boarded up, like many had left in a hurry. It was...rather scary. But something about this place gave off good vibes, and she was hopeful.
She fished out the set of keys that the Goblins had given her, and unlocked the door to Number 33 Knockturne Alley. It was a two story building- a store front on the first level, and an apartment on the upper level. The door creaked loudly as she entered, and she sneezed at the dusty room. She set her trunk down, and locked the door behind her.
She searched for a lamp or a candle- she still couldn't cast spells outside of Hogwarts for another month, yet. She found a lamp, which only had a little bit of oil left. She lit it, and raised it. She looked around the dusty little shop. It was too dark to see much, but she had all summer to check it out. She let Hedwig out of her cage, and then hooked the cage onto the trunk, and dragged it up behind her on the stairs.
The floors creaked and heaved with each step she took, and she finally came to another door. She unlocked it, and let herself in. She set her trunk down, and stumbled about to look for a fireplace. She found one, and lit it, using some trash she'd found as kindling.
Once the fire was roaring, she looked around the flat, lighting the other lamps she'd found on the walls.
It was a small flat- one bedroom, with a tiny loo. All of the wallpaper was peeling and faded, and the kitchen was in horrible condition.
Holly wished she could cast cleaning charms, but... at least she knew how to do everything by hand. Hedwig perched on the top of an empty bookcase- the other furniture was all covered in sheets. She'd look later. She went into the bedroom, and stripped the mattress, and turned it over. She glanced over to see that the bedroom opened to a narrow balcony. She opened the door, peeking out a bit. She glanced down to the alley below...it was so quiet and still. Where was everyone?
It sort of unnerved her. She closed the door once more, and went to the bed. She didn't have any bedclothes or anything- she did have a throw blanket that Hermione had knitted for her the previous year. It was a glorious Gryffindor red, with golden yellow trim. It looked horribly out of place in the dark flat, but it would have to do for now. She put the throw blanket on the mattress, slipped out of her ratty trainers, and climbed onto the bed fully dressed. She'd slept in worse places.
The following day, she was woken by the rattling noise of the street below- she got out of bed, peeking down to the street below. There were people down there, but not many. Most moved hurriedly, like there still was a war on. Holly frowned, and stretched a bit, turning around to get a proper look at her bedroom.
Her trunk was still open from the previous night. She tugged the sheet off of a peice of furniture, and found a chest of drawers. She then took a sheet off another piece of furniture, and found a dressing table, mirror and all. It was actually very nice looking, with engravings on the wood and everything. Holly traced the frame of the mirror with her finger tips, leaving behind a line in the dust.
This just needed a bit of cleaning, is all. She went through the rest of the apartment, and gathered all the sheets that covered the furniture. She opened all the windows, and put the sheets in the tub. She found a bit of soap in the cupboard, a brush, and a bucket, and started to run the water. She filled the tub with water, and the bucket as well.
While the tub was filling up, she was tearing up several of her old muggle shirts into cleaning rags. She then started to scrub the sheets, and then hung them to dry over the top of the tub and over the edge of the balcony.
It was mid-morning when she realised that she hadn't yet to eat, and nor had Hedwig. Taking pity on her poor owl, she gave her some owl treats, and sent her to get an order from the Leaky Cauldron. She'd heard that the pub did deliveries, and had always wanted to try it.
Twenty minutes later, Hedwig arrived with a well-wrapped package of scrambled eggs, bacon, and rashers. Holly fed Hedwig her bacon, and soon went back to work.
By that afternoon, she was feeling...energized. The little flat was coming along nicely- it was good and quiet too- just what she needed. She could see herself staying here after she graduated Hogwarts.
She had other properties too, but this was close to everything. Maybe she'd go to the other properties for holiday, she mused.
As she was taking in the dried sheets, she looked across the way to see a little girl staring at her from across the wa, not ten feet away from her window, on the balcony of a building that looked very similar to her own. Holly gave her a little wave, and the girl ran back inside. Down below, it seemed like the vendors had already packed up for the day- no one was around to buy anything.
Holly did another order from the Leaky Cauldron for dinner, promising herself she'd go out and buy some food, now that the kitchen was clean. She'd do that tomorrow, first thing.
The next morning, Holly got ready for the day. She put on her only skirt- it was a sedate brown thing that Hermione had grown out of- and her red Gryffindor jumper. She slipped into her flats that she normally wore for school, not wanting to wear her muggle trainers. She grabbed a basket she'd found in the empty pantry, and headed down the stairs. She got a good look at the shop for the first time in the morning light. Well...sort of. She tore down some of the boards the covered the shop window, wanting to get a better look at the shop.
She stared, eyes widening as she realised what sort of shop it was. It had once been a clothes shop! She laughed a little at the irony- she knew nothing about fashion, and she owned a clothes shop. Well, it had once been a clothes shop. All of the shelves and racks were empty, even the manniquins had been stripped. The drawer to the till was open, and the hardwood floor was strewn with trash.
Sighing, she left the building, locking the door behind her. She hooked the basket over her arm, and made her way to the food stalls she'd seen the previous day. It was still fairly quiet, yet.
She approached one of the stalls with a nervous smile- the vendors were all looking her way, yelling out their wares all at once, now that it was clear she was there to buy.
"We've got good fresh meat here, a whole chicken for 10 sickles, fresh fish for 15-" "Young lady, would you like some rice? Pasta? We've got all sorts of dried goods here-"
Holly approached the vegetable stall first, haggling over prices- it had actually been a bit of fun for both her and the vendor. She then got some chicken and fish, some dried pasta, and various other goods. All the vendors were looking pretty happy that she'd bought from them.
One lady, after she'd bought some cooking spices, had to ask. "Setting up house, eh? You just graduate from Hogwarts?"
"I bet a pretty girl like you has gotten yerself married, right?" Another lady said, laughing.
Holly shook her head, blushing a bit. "No, no, I'm just here for the summer. I have my last year at Hogwarts coming up soon, though." She motioned just up the street. "I just moved into the building there."
One of the women's brows rose. "That place has been empty fer years- don't the Blacks own it?"
Holly blushed at their stares, patting her hand over her bangs nervously. "I inherited the Black estate from my Godfather when he died." She said quietly, hoping they wouldn't freak out...
"You're...you're Holly Potter!" One of the women exclaimed with wide eyes.
Holly glanced around, seeing more than one vendor glance their way. Thankfully, there wasn't that many customers around.
"What are ye doin' here, Lady Potter?"
Holly blushed at the title. "I'm not a Lady yet." She whispered. "And like I said, I just moved here."
"But...Knockturne? Yer sure you want to live here?"
Holly smiled. "Why not? Well, it was nice meeting you ladies...oh, wait, could you reccommend a place where I could get things like blankets and sheets? And perhaps dishes and things? The flat I moved into has...nothing, really."
"...Yes M'am, just up the street there, the shop on the corner. They sell used stuff there, but if you want ta buy new, I'm afraid you'll have to go to Diagon, Miss."
Holly scrunched up her nose. "Too many crowds- anyways, there's nothing wrong with used things. Thank you for the assistance, ladies." She said with a smile, and went back to her flat to unpack her food. The cupboards and pantry were all spelled with perservation and cooling spells, so nothing would go bad.
She left her flat once more, and saw a few more people on the street, glancing her way, but not whispering. At least they weren't that rude, unlike...other people. Humming, she headed down to the second hand shop. The woman seemed to have been expecting her- apparently word traveled fast. She didn't mind. The old lady was more than happy to help her choose things for the new flat- a set of rather nice dishware, cutlery, and a pretty tea set. A new rug for the sitting room, new bedclothes, and a rather beautiful handmade quilt.
What was more, Holly could have everything delivered to her flat! She was rather happy about this. The woman, Tilda, also sold books, but Holly decided to save that sort of thing for another day.
She then went to another shop and bought some more soap and other cleaning supplies, and a bundle of slow-burn candles. She was cleaning with said supplies when the delivery came- three young boys were at her door. She smiled, letting them in.
They glanced about the shop, but mostly at her. "Are you really Holly Potter, miss?" One of the boys asked earnestly.
"I am. Just follow me, boys." She said with a smile, and allowed them into her flat. They glanced around, looking a bit dissappointed.
"Our flat's bigger." One of the boys whispered to one of the others.
Holly laughed a little at this, and the boys looked a bit guilty. "Sorry ma'am."
"Don't be sorry. Just set everything down on the table. I'd offer you something to drink, but I haven't anything, I'm afraid." She said, and took out some sickles for each boy. "There we are-"
"Wow! Thanks ma'am!"
"Oh please, just call me Holly- I'm not that much older than all of you." She paused, looking at the eldest consideringly. "Are you at Hogwarts, yet?"
The boy shook his head a little. "Nah, can't afford it. Most of us kids here in Knockturne don't go there. That's only for the old rich families."
Holly blinked at this. "Oh. So...what do you do for your schooling?"
"Our parents teach us." One of the younger boys said, approaching her owl slowly. "Your owl is pretty."
"Her name is Hedwig. You can pet her if you like- she really likes the attention." Both of the younger boys instantly started to pet her, while the older boy stood a bit away, looking at her carefully.
"So...why'd you move into Knockturne? No one actually...moves here. Most of us are tryin' to get out."
"It's quiet. There's too many crowds in Diagon...and...well, I like it here." Holly shrugged. "So, you three brothers?"
All three nodded.
"We should be gettin' back, M'am. Let's go, guys."
The boys said their goodbyes, and Holly watched them go. She set about unpacking everything, and as she was putting the new quilt on the bed, she looked over to see the little girl staring at her through the window again, from her balcony. She had dark hair and olive colored skin, and a scowl on her face.
Impulsively, Holly stuck her tongue out at the girl. The girl suddenly laughed, and covered her mouth, as though she wasn't allowed to laugh. Holly gave a little wave, and the little girl gave a little wave back.
Over the next week, Holly was settling just nicely into Knockturne. It was strange- she felt more at home in her little flat than she ever had at the Dursleys, at Grimmauld Place, or at the Burrow. She spent her days going through her old things- she sold off her old schoolbooks at Tilda's shop. More than once, she'd seen some kid reading through them whilst still in the store. Tilda didn't seem to mind.
The vendors loved her, but that was probably because she had money. Still, they knew all sorts of gossip. She learned that Knockturne housed over 350 witches, wizards, squibs, and Others (werewolves and vampires, apparently, and Holly hadn't met any of them so far), the majority of them never having gone to Hogwarts. There were a rare few that had, usually the sons and daughters of the shop owners, never to be heard from again after they had graduated.
Like the boys had said- most wanted to get out of Knockturne, not in. Holly couldn't see what was so horrible about it- yeah, people were poor, but...so what?
It wasn't until another week passed that she had learned about the raids. Random inspections by the ministry, to make sure there wasn't illicit goods being sold or traded...banned books...unregistered werewolves...you name it.
Holly watched from her balcony, seeing how the Aurors had treated everyone, and could certainly see why people wanted to get out. And there, amongst it all, was sweet Arthur Weasley, looking crueler and more distant than she'd ever seen him.
She laid in her bed that night, staring at the cieling, lost in thought, a million ideas pouring into her head. She no longer felt lost- she could help people here. But she had to do it the right way. They would never accept charity, but they would certainly accept work.
The very next day, Holly approached a shopkeeper, who was sweeping up glass. His windows had been broken in, despite all the boards that had been put up. He glanced towards Holly. "We're closed."
"I figured." Holly said, fidgeting. "But you're the barber, right?" He glanced towards her mop of hair.
"Well, as you can tell, I am in desperate need of a hairstyle change. I could pay you well."
He glanced at her, and then at his broken window. "Alright. Just...mind the glass."
She smiled, and carefully followed him into the shop. There was an older woman there, who was picking up things from the floor and putting them into a bin with a scowl. She stopped as she saw Holly enter the shop.
"I'm givin' the young lady a haircut." The man said with a frown, and sat her down at a chair. "Amy, you got that shampoo 'round?"
Holly came out of the shop twenty minutes later, smiling. Both the barber and his wife followed her out, smiling as well. She'd made small talk with them, like it was any other day. She made a few bad jokes about her hair, and the two had gotten a bit happier while they helped her figure out new hair styles.
She wore her hair longer now- it was now shoulder length, and cut in such a way that it wasn't so crazy looking. She'd bought a few shampoos, stocking up for school as well.
She'd bring back money to this community, and make life a little bit better for them. She'd figure it out somehow.
Holly ended up going to the muggle world to get some new clothes. Nothing seemed to suit her right- she was too small in the chest for most of the dresses, her shoulders and her hips too narrow...she really was built like a twig. And she didn't want to get custom things from Madam Malkins- she'd stick out like a sore thumb in Knockturne.
She sighed, looking a bit forlorn- finally a clerk took pity on her. "Darling, if you can't find anything that fits you right, you could just order online." At her perplexed look, the woman also said. "Or you could just make your own clothes."
Holly knew enough about sewing to mend things- hemming, attaching buttons, mending tears, but...making her own clothes? Still, she was tired of wearing boring old sweatshirts, denims, and jumpers. She stuck out terribly in the wizarding world, where most girls her age wore skirts and jumpers, or robes.
She got a number of dress patterns at the fabric shop, falling in love with the old-fashioned looking dresses and things she saw in the pictures. She'd vaguely heard of the brands before, from her Aunt and her prissy neighbors- Dior, Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Calvin Klein...she even found a few patterns for bags, gloves, and things.
She could make an entire wardrobe! Still, she knew she couldn't get ahead of herself- she bought two dress patterns, a circle skirt pattern, and a basic shirt pattern. She bought the cloth, but all the other supplies she would need were already in the shop, in the back room.
Holly was working in the back room of the shop when there was a knock on the door. She'd jumped, not expecting someone to do such a thing. She set her half-done skirt aside, and went to the shop door. She opened it hesitantly, and saw Tilda standing there, along with a couple of the female vendors she was friendly with. They all carried food in their hands, although Tilda had a case of butterbeers.
"We wanted to welcome you officially to the neighborhood, dear. Mind if we come up?"
"...Oh...sure." Holly said, thankful for the company. The place was a bit too quiet for her sometimes.
Tilda spotted the light coming from the back room. "Working on something, dear?"
"Yeah, a skirt, but I'm making a right mess of it." She laughed a little. "But I'll muddle along somehow." The women laughed at this, and followed her up the stairs.
Once they were inside the flat, the women looked about. "What a cute little flat." One of the women, Anne, said, setting her meat pie down on the table.
"Thanks. I've been working pretty hard setting it up. It's hard, since I can't use magic, yet."
"Oh that's right- you're still underage." Tilda said with a chuckle. "Still, it doesn't look too bad."
"I grew up in the muggle world, so I know how to do a lot of things by hand...ah, would you guys like anything? Tea?"
The women took off their coats, settling around the table. "I'll have tea, please." Anne said with a crinkling smile. "So, Holly, you've been here in Knockturne for a couple of weeks now- what do you think?"
"I like it." Holly hummed, setting up the kettle. "It just...feels...right."
She missed the exchanged look that the women shared.
"Did the raid the other night wake you up?"
Holly scrunched up her face, and the kettle was suddenly boiling hot- accidental magic, she supposed. "Yes. I watched from my balcony. I was...kind of shocked, really. I'd...never imagined something like that could happen. It was...an eye opener."
"Well, it happens around here more often than we would like." Tilda said, opening a bottle of butterbeer. "So, if you're gonna live here, you're gonna have to put up with it."
Holly shook her head, pouring Anne some tea, and some for herself, putting the other cups and kettle on the table. The meat pie was divvied up. "I think what shocked me most was the man that was heading the raid- Arthur Weasley." She paused. "I'm good friends with his kids...I've stayed at his house, spent time with him...I've never seen him...like that before." She said quietly. She sighed, trying to ignore her feelings on the matter, but it wasn't working all that well. "It just...makes me wonder why this is all happening. I mean...the war is over, right?"
Tilda laughed harshly. "The war is never over. Don't cha know anythin'?"
"Tilda..." Anne shook her head, and looked to Holly. "The Light and the Dark have been at each other's throats since magic was created! You-Know-Who was just one of many who tried to change things for the Dark side. Now that he's gone, well, the raids will be starting up again- no one can stop them. The Aurors don't have much better to do, right?"
"...But...they just do it to do it?"
"Mostly. If you're going ta find anythin' illegal, you'd go to one of those rich folk's Manors. We don't have much of that stuff here anymore, especcially now You-Know-Who and his lot are gone. We only got the little stuff- nothin' that warrants an Azkaban stay."
"...Thank you for that, by the way." Anne said cheerfully. "That man was insane."
"I couldn't agree more." Holly said, raising her teacup.
"...So, I'm curious to why the poster girl for the ministry and for the Light would be living here in Knockturne, of all places." One of the other women asked shrewdly.
Holly sighed. "Look, I don't represent the Ministry. They keep trying, but they're a bunch of corrupted, bigoted assholes. I will never try to approve of them or anything they do until they make some changes." Holly paused. "As far as the Light goes...it wasn't about the Light or Dark, for me. It was about revenge and survival."
The women raised their brows at this.
Holly looked unrepetentant. "Look, Voldemort killed my parents, and tried to kill me. His followers tried to kill me and my friends more than once. Lestrange killed my Godfather, and Pettigrew killed Remus Lupin, who was like an Uncle to me. And you know what I did? I killed Pettigrew, Lestrange, and Voldemort, not because they were Dark, but because they killed the people that I cared about, and they would have kept killing if I didn't stop them."
Holly paused. "Sorry."
"...Don' apologize, girl, we don't think any less of you fer it." Tildy said with a grin. "So, are you fer the Light, then?"
Holly frowned a little. "You know, no one has actually ever asked me. Honestly, I think it's all about intent. You can either help people or hurt people. I want to help people."
"But would you help people by hurting others- that's the question." Anne said thoughtfully.
"I would prefer to defend...honestly, I would prefer not to fight at all. I just want to live a quiet life- be left alone, you know? I don't want the press and the Ministry to be after me. I don't want rabid fans or anything like that. I just...want to live quietly, work, and maybe have a family one day. People often forget that I...just want to be like everyone else."
"Well, yer not, and there's no changin' that." Tildy said. "Come on, let's eat."
Holly arrived to Bill and Fleur's wedding wearing an outfit she'd made herself. It was a pale green circle skirt with a black belt, and black heels. The skirt was pleated, and it flowed out rather nicely. The hem hit just below her knees. She'd paired it with a white blouse she'd bought from an antique shop in muggle london. She wore her hair up in a rather nice updo, and wore white flowers in her hair. She looked nice, but not too nice. The wedding was held in the Weasley's backyard, after all.
She smiled as she saw Ron and Hermione, hugging them both. They stared at her with wide eyes, disbelieving. "Where has our tomboy friend gone to?" Hermione asked with a smile, hugging her back tightly.
"She's gone- that tomboy was secretly a girly-girl all along. I gave myself a bit of a makeover-" She held out her skirt, turning around. "How do I look?"
"Like a boy in a dress." Ron joked, making both Holly and Hermione glare at him.
"What? There's no hiding that you're built like a twig, even in that getup. At least Hermione's got some...ah..." He glanced at her chest, making the girl's glare ramp up a notch. "I'm going to go find Fred and George." He muttered, and walked off.
"Your hair looks pretty too." Hermione said, looking at her hair. Even with heels on, Holly was still shorter than Hermione in her flats. That was just...sad.
Gabrielle came out of nowhere, and hurtled into Holly, hugging her tightly about the middle, saying something very fast in French that had Hermione laughing.
The wedding had been beautiful. Fleur had looked radiant in her dress, and more than one person had ended up crying. Holly had decided to stay out of the dancing (she was horrible at it), and watched from the sidelines.
She saw that many members of the Order were there, though she noticed with a pang that Tonks was alone, looking a bit out of sorts. Her hair was a mousy brown, and she was sulking by the food table. She was wearing a dark orange dress that definitely in Tonk's usual style, but...it was clear that her usually bright and bubbly personality was no where to be seen. Holly knew that Tonks and Remus had been dating a while before Remus had died- it was clear she was still grieving for him. Being at the wedding probably didn't make her feel any better.
She then spotted Professor Snape, of all people, and did a double take. He certainly cleaned up well- were his shoulders really that broad? The man wore his hair back into a low ponytail, and he wore a black suit and tie with a white shirt. He was currently speaking to Bill and Fleur.
Suddenly, he glanced her way, and whatever he'd been saying had been forgotten about momentarily. Holly stiffened as he looked her up and down in an unmistakable way. He visibly remembered himself, and continued to speak to the married couple.
Holly walked out of the tent after that, shocked at...that.
No one had ever looked at her like that before, much less the Professor! She didn't know how to feel about that, honestly. She admired and respected the Professor for all of his work during the war, certainly, but...they had always disliked each other on principal. She might have thought him attractive before, but his personality had always been a bit too..abrasive for her.
She walked towards the orchard, feeling a bit out of sorts. She sat down on the grass, not caring if she got her skirt dirty. Honestly, she couldn't face Mr. Weasley anymore, not after what she'd seen. And she needed some quiet to think about things. She hadn't told her friends about her living in Knockturne, and she certainly hadn't told them that her Aunt had basically kicked her out. She wasn't accustomed to keeping so many secrets from them- not like this.
Holly turned and looked upward, shielding her eyes from the sun. "Oh...hey Shack. What's up?"
"I wanted to speak with you." The man said awkwardly, as though he wasn't the newest Minister of Magic. He'd just been sworn in a few months before the war had ended, and was riding off that victory to soaring popularity polls.
Holly stood, brushing the grass from her dress. "Oh, congrats on the new job, by the way."
"Thank you. I'd much rather be out in the field, but...anyways, I wanted to speak with you about your future."
"Well, I wanted to an offer you a job for after you finished Hogwarts. With the Auror Department. You'd have to start out at the bottom like everyone else, but I'm sure you could work your way up."
"Thank you, but no thank you, Shack." Holly said quietly, looking down to the ground. "I don't want to work for a Ministry that has so many problems. If you can change things, I might change my mind."
Shack nodded slowly, though he didn't look all that happy. "Alright. Well, I already made the offer to Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger. Both already accepted. Mr. Longbottom is still thinking it over. Why don't you give yourself some time to think about it? The offer will be open to you as long as you need it."
"...Thank you." Holly said with a smile that did not reach her eyes.
"Would you like to head back to the party?" He asked, extending his arm to her. She shook her head.
"You go on- I'm just going to hang out here for a little while longer." She murmured. She watched Kingsley head back towards the tent. She spotted Snape standing beside the tent, and the two men spoke momentarily before Shack went inside.
Snape glanced her way, and even at this distance, Holly's heart sped up a little. What in the hell was wrong with her? She turned away, leaning against one of the apple trees. She reached up, plucking one of the apples from the tree. It was still a bit early in the season, but... she bit into the apple, and chewed. Much better than any fancy finger food that they would offer in that place.
She sighed, staring up into the trees as she munched on her apple. She glanced over to see Snape approaching her. With a grin, she grabbed another apple and tossed it to him. He caught it with one hand, arching his brow.
"Professor." She greeted. "So...I guess you know why Shack wanted to speak with me?"
"Yes. Did you take him up on his offer?"
"Does everyone know about it?"
Holly laughed a little. "No. I said I'd think about it. He was very nice about it, even when I said that the only way I'd work for the Ministry is if the Ministry completely turned around." She took another bite. "I doubt that will happen, though."
Snape did not take a bite of his apple, just choosing to stare down at it, turning it over and over in his hands.
"I heard an interesting rumor that you are living in Knockturne now."
Holly's smile faded. "Does the Headmaster know?"
"No. Not yet."
Holly stared at her half eaten apple, swallowing. "Well...I had to go somewhere. Aunt Petunia kicked me out."
"Why didn't you go to your friends'?"
"I wanted some time alone. Anyways, they had their own things going on." She motioned vaguely to the tent.
"...I shouldn't have to tell you to be careful, then." Snape said quietly, glancing towards her. Their eyes met, and Holly couldn't help but look down. She had always known that Snape was taller than her, but with her heels on, she was just a bit taller, and she didn't feel like such a child. And boy, did he clean up well. While she'd thought him mildly attractive before, in that suit he was...
"Sir...I'm not a child anymore. I'm turning of age in a couple of days, and I know what to do in a fight. I think I'll be alright."
"That's not what I'm worried about. The people of Knockturne have a reputation, no matter who they really are or what they do. If the papers found out..."
"I know. But they won't. Haven't you ever noticed that reporters never go near Knockturne?" Holly said, and took a big bite of her apple with a grin.
"...I suppose that could only be a good thing, for you." The man said dryly. He looked upwards, towards the sky. "But you should be careful. With the Dark Lord gone, many people will soon be looking to you for guidance...as strange as that may be."
"What about Dumbledore?"
"...Dumbledore is getting older. It won't be too long before he's...gone. You must know that he plans on offering you a job at the school sometime this year."
"I'm not suprised." Holly murmured. "...He practically trained me to be the new Defense Professor already, what with his...assistance with the DA last year, and allowing me to assist Remus."
The man frowned a little at this. "I didn't think you noticed that."
"I notice a lot of things." Holly said, her voice knowing. He glanced at her, raising a brow. "It's just a matter of me acting on them then, or leaving it for another day." She paused, looking him over pointedly. "You look nice, sir. I didn't think you would be here."
"Bill is an old acquaintance. He was actually one of my more...tolerable students."
"Hey, you got a smoke?" Bill's voice called out from behind them, making them both jump. Snape turned quickly, as did Holly. Speak of the devil!
Bill was walking towards them with a wide grin. "Hey Holly. Sev- you got a cigarette? Mum found all of mine yesterday and threw them out- I'm just dying for one."
Snape rolled his eyes at this, and he dug into his pocket. Holly watched, fascinated, as Snape opened up a slim metal case, and handed a hand-rolled cigarette over to Bill.
"...You smoke?" Holly asked incredulously.
Bill laughed. "My doing, I'm afraid. I stressed him out so bad in his first year of teaching that he took up smoking. And he got his first ciggy from me." The man lit his cigarette up, and began to smoke.
Snape glanced pointedly at Holly. "You better not say a word."
"I won't." Holly said with a grin, watching the man light up another, and begin to smoke as well. She watched, fascinated. She'd seen people smoke on the telly, and had seen plenty of people use pipes in Diagon and Knockturne, but she hadn't ever seen people smoke cigarettes in the wizarding world.
"So...that's tobacco, right?" Holly asked, making Bill laugh loudly.
"Yeah. Though I wouldn't say no to something a bit extra, if you know what I mean." Bill winked at her.
"So...where are you and Fleur heading for your honeymoon?"
"To France- we'll only be gone for a week, and then it's back to work for both of us. At least we'll be moving into the new house. I don't think I could standing living with Mum anymore..." Bill groaned at this. "I swear, if that woman tries to cut my hair again..."
"Well, you're a married man now...maybe she'll ease up a bit?"
"Bill Weasley!" Bill jumped, handing the cigarette over to Holly quickly.
"Speaking of Mum...gotta go!" And he was off.
Holly stared at the cigarette in her hand, fascinated. "...Am I holding it right?"
Snape raised a brow at this. "You really don't want to take up smoking."
"...I just want to try." Holly tried to adjust her grip to mimick his. "That better?"
Snape approached her silently, his own cigarette hanging from his thin lips as he adjusted her grip. He took a step back, and their eyes met. Holly stared up at him nervous. Why was he so...tall?
Holly cautiously took a drag, and started coughing. Snape started chuckling at this, and she glared at him.
"Fine, fine, I know, I look silly." She huffed, and held up the cigarette, trying not to be shocked that she'd heard Snape chuckling. "...Hermione would kill me if she found out...not to mention Mrs. Weasley..." She muttered. She glanced towards the tent, and moved to the other side of the tree, to sheild her from view. Not a moment later, Snape followed, standing next to her, his back also to the tent.
Holly cautiously took another drag. At least she didn't cough this time.
"Any plans for your birthday?" The man asked casually.
Holly glanced his way, but shook her head. "I don't know, actually. I think there might be something here at the Burrow, but...everyone's been so busy with the wedding. Honestly, I don't really care."
"Seventeen is a rather important birthday."
"Eh..guess so. I'll get to cast magic outside of school." She laughed a little. "I can be called Lady Potter-Black too, if people would ever bother with it. I doubt they will, though."
"Ah yes...your title." Snape looked thoughtful. "Technically, I am Lord Prince, but use my status as a Potions Master for my honorific instead, since I prefer it to be used whilst we are at the school."
"Lord Prince?" Holly asked, furrowing her brow.
"My Mother was the last of the pureblood Prince line." Snape said quietly. "She married a muggle, named Snape. The only reason I was given the Lordship was because my Grandfather died without an heir."
"Oh." Holly said quietly, remembering their Occulemency lessons from so long ago. "I-I never told anyone. About what I saw." She whispered.
"I figured." Snape said, taking a long drag.
"...Are...your...parents still alive?" Holly asked awkwardly.
"No. They died years ago." Snape said, still looking ahead, not looking towards her.
"Were they always like that?" She whispered. She saw Snape tense, and his jaw clench.
"Did the muggles always treat you like that?" He countered.
Holly flinched at this, and looked away. "Touche. I shouldn't have asked."
"No, you shouldn't have."
Holly held up the cigarette with a frown. "So...what do I do, if I don't want it anymore? I don't want Mrs. Weasley to find cigarettes in her orchard and blame it on Bill."
"Hand it over." Snape muttered, and she did just that. He brought up his finger to his mouth, absently licking it to get it a bit wet. He wet the still-smoking end of the cigarette. "There you go."
"...I don't want it. You can keep it."
The man shrugged, and took out the case. He placed it with the other neatly rolled cigarettes inside the case. He glanced up, and saw Holly watching him intently.
"I didn't know I was so fascinating." He said with a smirk.
Holly blushed glancing away. "Ah...um...so..."
"So, if you are not going to take Shack or Dumbledore up on their offers, what will you do after you finish Hogwarts?"
Holly shrugged. "No bloody clue. Maybe I'll just get married and pop out lots of babies." She said with a laugh. Seeing Snape's strange expression, she shook her head. "I honestly don't know. But I have a year to figure it out. I wouldn't mind traveling for a bit, but I want...quiet. I don't want craziness in my life, you know? Working at Hogwarts or with the Aurors would definitely do that."
"You might miss it." Snape said, still with an odd expression. "The...craziness, as you put it."
"I doubt it. But I guess we'll see how this year goes."
Holly gaped at the badge in her hand. She was standing in the Weasley's kitchen for her birthday party. It was a small affair, and they were having leftover wedding cake. It was mostly just the Weasleys, Luna, Hermione, and Neville. The Headmaster himself had delivered their letters.
"...You made Head Girl." Hermione said, her voice strained.
"We actually had to do a vote." The Headmaster said, eyes twinkling. "We've never had such a close contest for Head Girl, before."
Ron frowned. "So...who's Head Boy, then?" Neither he or Neville had gotten it.
"...Ah, that would be telling." The Headmaster said, but he didn't look all that happy, actually. "But we had to do a vote for that as well. We had many talented students in your year. Congratulations to all of you. Mr. Weasley, I do hope we'll have a trophy for your team in Minerva's office again?"
"Of course, Headmaster!" Ron said, brightening up a bit. Next to him, Hermione smiled, but her heart wasn't in it.
Holly slipped her badge into her pocket, clearly seeing that Hermione wasn't all that happy. She really didn't want to be Head Girl, but giving the badge back just wasn't...done. Anyways, Hermione would always think she was just second choice.
The rest of the party was filled with shopping plans, and gift-giving. Holly got a few pieces of clothing, and a pretty haircomb set from the Weasleys. She also got a few books. Near the end of the party, Tonks pulled her aside.
"Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?"
"...Sure. Is everything okay?" Holly asked quietly. The two left the kitchen, away from the others.
Tonks shook her head, looking as though she was about to cry. "Look...the past couple of years, we've gotten pretty close, right? And...you know how Remus and I were together last year?"
"Yeah. Are...you holding up okay?"
Tonks shook her head. "I'm...I'm really not okay." She walked a bit further away from the kitchen. "...Holly...don't freak out, okay?"
"I'm pregnant." Tonks whispered.
Holly's eyes widened, and she looked downward. "But...you don't look pregnant!"
"That's because I've been hiding it- and its still a bit early for me to be showing. My...metamorph skills help that along. Look...I-I wanted to ask you if you wanted to be the Godmother."
"Oh my God...yes...yes, of course, I'll be the Godmother." Holly said, hugging Tonks' tightly. Tonks cried into her shoulder, looking relieved.
"Thank you Holly...I just...it's been so hard...keeping it a secret. I mean, not only am I not married, but...with Remus as the Father...a known werewolf..."
"Hey, it'll be alright." Holly said with a smile, squeezing her arm. "So...when are you due? You have to be what, at least two, three months along, right?"
"Yes. I'm due in Feburary. I figure I have a month, yet, before I have to take a sabbatical. I think I can get away with a leave of absence, right? Like...because I'm grieving or something?"
"...Do you have any money saved up?" Holly asked quietly.
"...A little, but not much. I don't want to live with my parents, though..."
Holly smiled. "Well, tell you what- I've got some properties that are just collecting dust- you could just stay in one of them!"
"Really?" Tonks asked hopefully.
"Yeah, of course! Merlin, I can't believe I'm going to be a Godmother!" Holly said with a bright smile, hugging Tonks again.
Tonks smile, however, wasn't as happy. "...I'm glad. It's just...it's a lot of responsibility, you know? And...I can do a lot with my job- helping people. I-I don't want to give it up. And somebody has to train Granger and Weasley, right?"
Holly stared at Tonks, trying to figure out what the woman was saying. "...You don't want to keep the baby?"
"I don't know, Holly." Tonks whispered. "...I'd lose my job...I'd be alienated...where would I go? My parents don't even know, and they would be furious... here in the wizarding world, unwed Mothers are just a step above whores...I don't want that for me, or for my baby. But...if...the baby was adopted...by you...maybe he or she could have a really good life, you know?"
Holly stared at Tonks. "...There is a big difference between being a Godmother and adopting a child, Tonks. And...I just turned seventeen...are you sure you want me to do this?"
"...But you're not saying no, are you?" Tonks asked worriedly.
Holly sighed heavily. "No...I'm not saying no. Alright- I'll think about it. We have some time, still. But this...adoption and everything will have to wait until after I'm out of Hogwarts, okay?"
"Of course. The baby will be old enough then, and I could go back to work!" Tonks said brightly.
Holly just shook her head. "...Tonks, you still have time to think about this- you might change your mind." She muttered, and followed the woman back to the kitchen.
Holly was comparing cabbages at one of the food stalls when she spotted the Malfoys- that is, Draco Malfoy and his Mother. Lucius Malfoy was now in Azkaban- he'd actually turned himself in at the end of the Final Battle. She cursed silently to herself, but pasted a smile on her face as the two approached.
"Miss Potter." Malfoy said coldly. While he was always...technically polite to her, it was clear that he did not like her.
"Lord Malfoy." She greeted, and looked to his Mother. "Madam Malfoy. Doing a bit of shopping?"
"We were getting Draco's supplies for school." The woman glanced down to the cabbages in her hands. "Grocery shopping?"
"Yes." Holly glanced to Anne, the vendor, who had a strained smile on her face. "I've nearly finished with my school shopping already."
Draco spoke up, looking smug. "I suppose you haven't heard the news yet- I've been made Head Boy." She glanced down, and sure enough, the Head Boy badge was on the lapel of his cloak. He wore a finely tailored black cloak and set of robes. She looked rather...scruffy compared to him. She wore a dark blue skirt and a green jumper over a white blouse. She wore an apron with large pockets- it was white, with a bit of lace trim on the bottom hem. Her hair was covered by a flowery kerchief, and she wore second-hand boots. She looked like just any other girl from Knockturne, although the material she wore was just a teeny bit nicer.
Holly set one of the cabbages down with a grin, and fished out her badge from her apron pocket. Malfoy's jaw dropped at the sight of it. "What luck- I've been made Head Girl." She said, trying to keep a straight face.
Lady Malfoy looked as though she would start laughing at any moment, and Anne wasn't far behind.
"What! But you-you're not even a prefect!"
"It's happened before." Holly said with a shrug, putting her badge back inside her apron pocket. "Anyways, it's not a big deal."
"Of course it's a big deal!" Malfoy fumed angrily. She didn't flinch as he got in her face. "the Head Boy and Head Girl are traditionally offered the best jobs after graduation, and they are more likely to become Heads of their Departments, and much more likely to become Minister of Magic!"
Holly blinked. "I didn't know you had such political aspirations, Malfoy." She turned, holding out the cabbage in her hand to Anne. "I'll take this one, Anne."
"Fifteen Knuts, dear." Holly handed the money over, and put the cabbage in her basket, loving how Malfoy seemed to be so pissed off. This was actually kind of fun. Maybe being Head Girl wouldn't be so bad.
"Well, I'll be sending all the ickle homesick firsties to you, then." Malfoy grit out angrily. "And I'll be in charge of the prefects- you have no idea how they work."
Holly shrugged. "Fine by me." She headed for the next stall, and Malfoy followed her. Behind them, his Mother trailed behind, looking somewhat amused.
"Hey, I'm not finished talking to you yet."
Holly raised a brow at him. "Did you get ruder since you got your Lordship, Malfoy? I'm a Lady, remember that."
His eyes visibly sparked at this, and his fists clenched at his sides. "Believe me, that is the only reason I haven't drawn my wand on you yet- you got my Father sent to Azkaban." He hissed.
"Your Father got himself sent to Azkaban. I didn't force him to take the Mark." Holly said, and spoke to the fish vendor. "I'll have a bit of the halibut please, Faith."
"What are you doing here, anyways?" Malfoy asked, getting in her face again. "You don't belong here."
"I don't?" Holly blinked at him innocently. "So...I don't own eleven buildings in Knockturne? Oh...well, my ledger at Gringott's must be wrong then."
Malfoy's lips thinned, and his Mother spoke up. "So you inherited the Black Estate, then?"
"Yes, Madam. So...technically, I'm a Lady twice over." She laughed a little at Malfoy's sour expression.
"Right. Well...Mother, we should get going- I still need to find new boots."
"Of course, darling. It was good to see you again, Lady Potter-Black." Madam Malfoy said with a nod of her head.
"You too, Madam Malfoy."
She watched the two sashay away, and the fish vendor handed her her halibut. "Those two...always puttin' on airs. At leas' old Lord Malfoy is in Azkaban. The little Lord is all bark but no bite."
Holly laughed a bit at this. "How much do I owe you?"
Not long before term began, Holly was looking over books in the second-hand shop. She glanced over as she heard someone enter the store, and her eyes widened as she saw Snape. She'd seen him around in Knockturne before, usually haggling with the potions supply vendors, or in and out of apothecaries, but she had usually stayed away. Well...she may have been avoiding him.
People talked about him, sometimes, reverently, as though he was one of the ones who could have 'gotten away', but had stayed, to help them. Holly was rather shocked to find out that Snape was very wealthy because of his potions work- he'd invented a number of potions, getting royalties from St. Mungo's and other hospitals around the world.
He was also apparently known to make the trickiest of potions, for a good price, varying on the degree of importance and how wealthy the family was- so if the family was broke, but desperately needed skele-gro, he'd charge them for just the supplies.
...Apparently he was a good man to the people here, and more than one lady had tried to snatch him, but he had no interest in gold-diggers. Holly did wonder, though, what his type was.
Unbidden, her hand went to her hair, thankful that she'd done something nice with it- wait, what was she thinking? Holly fidgeted, watching the man approach the shopkeep, and the two had a whispered conversation. Holly turned towards the bookshelves, not wanting to eavesdrop, but still heard them when the shopkeep raised his voice.
"I told you, Snape, no more than four!"
"Last time, you allowed six."
"Well, I changed it. Yer only gettin' four fer that price."
"...I will be getting the six." The man growled threateningly. Holly's eyes widened a bit, and she inhaled sharply. Suddenly, her eyes were watering from the dust she'd inhaled, and she let loose a loud sneeze.
"Who's there?" Snape whipped around, and looked around the bookshelves.
Holly turned and looked at him sheepishly. "Uh...hullo Sir."
The man just shook his head, and turned to the shopkeep. "Five. No less."
"Fine. But next time, yer only gettin' four."
The man went behind the counter, and into his back room. Holly clutched the books she'd picked up to her chest, curiously looking on.
The man came back with a small package wrapped in newspaper. Snape handed him a small bag of gold, and each man slipped the new things into their pockets. Holly squeaked as Snape grabbed her arm roughly, hauling her out of the shop. "Wait- I haven't paid-" Snape ignored her, so she quickly set some gold on the nearest table before being dragged out of the shop.
"Ow! Let go." Holly hissed, tugging on her arm. Snape held fast, and he was soon pushing her up against a boarded window nearby. Everyone on the street steadfastly looked away from the two, but it was hard not to see them.
"Forget about what you saw."
"Forget it." Snape said, eyes narrowing. "Do you understand me?"
"But what was-"
"Nothing. You saw nothing."
"...Okay." Holly said in a small voice. "Can you let go of me now? You're hurting me."
He let go of her instantly.
"What were you doing there anyways?" He hissed, snatching her books from her. "If anyone caught you reading these, you would be arrested."
Holly snatched them back, frowning. "They're just books. Anyways, I'm using them to reverse-engineer the spells to make new Defense spells." At his wide-eyed look, she blushed. "What?"
"I didn't think you would know how to do such a thing, Miss Potter."
Holly rolled her eyes, and began to walk away from him, her shoulder banging into him purposefully. He quickly followed her. More than one person glanced their way, but no one spoke to them as Holly headed towards her flat.
"Look, I won't tell anyone, if you won't." She hissed at him over her shoulder, unlocking the door to her building. "Can you just...leave me alone? People are staring."
Snape took a step back at this, eyes hooded. "Do you honestly think anyone will know of this outside Knockturne?"
Holly gave him an odd look.
"The people of Knockturne keep to themselves for a reason- you live here now, and I do as well-"
"Wait, you live around here?" Holly asked, wide eyed.
"I have an apartment here, yes, when I am not being forced to stay at the school."
"There are a few things I need to speak to you about. About the Headmaster. He found out that you are no longer staying with the Dursleys."
Holly sighed, and let him in. The two silently went up the stairs. "I'm hoping you didn't tell him."
"No. He'd actually gone to the Dursleys themselves- you hadn't even told your friends."
"I figured they would tell." Holly muttered, unlocking the door to her flat. "I must be mad, letting you in here...you scared me earlier."
"Eh...look, I figure you've got some illegal substance for some nefarious potion, but it's not really my business, right?" She asked with a grin.
Snape did not smile. He looked around the small flat. Holly motioned to the sofa. "Sit. Tea?"
"Yes. Thank you." Snape said, sitting down. He looked around a bit more, eyes lingering on the books in the bookshelves. "That's quite the collection you have there. Did you get them all this summer?"
"...No." Holly mumbled. "...I might have grabbed some from the Black library." She started the kettle, and got the teacups out. "It's not like I stole them- I own them."
"...If this collection is found, not only would you be arrested, but you would be given a hefty fine and all of the books would be destroyed. Imagine...a Potter reading Dark Arts books."
Holly noisily put the teacups and saucers on a tray, shaking her head. "I bet you've read half of them, at least."
"True...but at least everyone knows I am knowledgeable about the Dark Arts, even if they cannot prove it with physical evidence. I do wonder what your friends would say, if they knew?"
Holly poured the tea, and carried the tray over to the tea table in front of the sofa. "They would probably never speak to me again." Holly said flatly. "...considering they're the only friends I've got, I would appreciate it if you didn't tell them."
"Dumbledore will find out where you've been staying. And once he does, that will be the least of your worries."
"I'm an adult- Dumbledore has no say in where I live." Holly said, sitting down next to the man on the sofa.
"Yet he somehow manages to control everyone's lives so effortlessly." He sipped his tea.
"...So...you came to warn me? Is that it?"
"...I'm going to assume by now that you know that you are Head Girl, correct?"
"...Yes." Holly said grudgingly.
"Then you must be aware that more than one prefect will be angry that you got the position, and they did not. You also should know that Draco Malfoy has been named Head Boy."
"So I've heard. I saw him and his Mum not too long ago. He threw a right tiff when I told him I was Head Girl."
Snape's brow raised. "So they saw you here, in Knockturne?"
"Well, they'd have to admit to being here themselves. I'm not too worried."
Snape just shook his head. "That doesn't keep them from saying things to their...like-minded allies."
Holly was a bit quiet at this, silently cursing herself. She got up from the sofa, setting her tea down.
"Well...I've only got a couple more days until term begins. So...I have no idea what I'm supposed to do as Head Girl...Hermione would know, but I...kind of don't want to make her upset."
Snape looked at the empty grate of the fireplace- it was unlit, as the apartment was rather warm. "The Head Boy and Girl are tasked with leading the prefects and patrolling the school. They are supposed to represent Hogwarts' student body. There is a bi-monthly board meeting, and both the Head Girl and Head Boy are tasked to attend the meetings to represent the students."
"Malfoy said he wanted to be in charge of the Prefects, and he'd send all the homesick first years to me. He's...not allowed to do that, is he?"
Snape frowned a bit. "Traditionally, yes, the homesick students are sent to the Head Girl, but most other tasks are divided equally. If Mr. Malfoy proves to be...too demanding, you will have the other Prefects to back you up- and if there still is a problem, you can speak to a staff member."
"What was Dumbledore thinking, making me Head Girl? Everyone knows Hermione should have gotten it."
"...He has his reasons. Like I said before, he wants you to stay on at the school after you finish Hogwarts. By giving you the Head Girl position, you would be more involved in the day-to-day running of the school, and you would get the respect of the younger students."
Holly made a face at this.
"There are benefits to the position, of course. You will get a private room, as will Mr. Malfoy. Both rooms are on the ground floor, close to the Great Hall and the staircases."
"Well...at least it won't take me as long to get to my classes..." And Holly wouldn't mind having a room to herself all year either. She didn't fancy having to put up with Lavender and Parvati again, but she did feel a bit sorry for Hermione.
"Wait...Malfoy's room is close to mine?" She asked, her thoughts freezing.
"Somewhat. All the staff know the location of the rooms, as well as the prefects. There is also a room close by that you two will share, to hold meetings with the prefects in."
Holly continued to pace, although she hadn't realised she was doing so. She put her hands behind her back, looking to the floor as she walked. "Okay...so...all of this doesn't sound too bad. I mean, I'll have to put up with Malfoy, but he's more annoying than anything."
"I should also let you know that we have a rather...incompetent woman coming in as the Defense Professor this year."
Holly groaned at this. Last year, they'd had Remus again, but he'd died. At least he had been a great teacher, and let her assist him in class.
"Fenny Merrythought. She's an older woman...very traditional. But she's not one of Fudge's sycophants, at least. She certainly knows her stuff about dark creatures and beasts, but she admits it herself that she isn't all that good with dueling. So...technically, she isn't all that incompetent, but just lacking in certain areas."
Holly sighed at this. "Well...I guess I'll keep the DA again, this year."
"Will you have the time?"
"I'll make the time." Holly said, frowning. "I know some would argue that the war is over, but...from what I see here every other night, the war is not over, not at all."
"...You've seen the raids, then."
"Yes." Holly said quietly. "It's horrible. No wonder no one wants to live here."
"Yet you are."
Holly gave him a cheeky smile. "Maybe I do live a bit dangerously...you were right sir, just living quietly might not cut it for me."
Snape downed the rest of his tea like a shot, and then stood. "I should be going. No doubt the gossip is going already." He paused. "It's...not proper for me to be here."
She looked at him confusedly, and Snape rolled his eyes. "You are a young woman, unmarried. I am also unmarried. People could think we were doing...nefarious deeds with one another."
Holly began to laugh at this, blushing a bit. "Merlin...just the way you say it...'nefarious deeds'." She lowered her voice to mimick him, but it came out funny. She let out a little gasp of laughter, and covered her mouth, trying to hold her laughter in. "Come on, sir, anyone who knows us knows that won't be happening, right?"
"...I suppose not." Snape said, and headed for the door. "Still, it's not proper. I shall see you in a couple of days, Miss Potter."
"See you later sir!"
Holly arrived to Platform 9 and 3/4 rather early. She promised her nieghbors she'd be back every weekend, if possible. She was a seventh year now, so she was allowed to leave the school every weekend, not just on Hogsmeade Weekends. It was supposed to be so the seventh years could look for jobs.
She set Tonks up in one of the little cottages she owned, out in Dover. Tonks took a leave of absence, 'for her health', and she'd gotten herself set up with a muggle doctor and hospital. She had yet to tell her parents about what was going on, despite Holly's urging.
Holly was feeling a bit nervous, as she now knew her friends knew she was no longer staying with the Dursleys. They would know she'd lied about using the Knight Bus from the Dursleys to get to Bill and Fleur's wedding, and to her birthday party.
She had arrived a bit early to avoid a conflict with the Weasleys in front of everyone- she managed to find the Prefect carriage easily on the empty train. She'd sent Hedwig along already, and her empty cage was still in Holly's flat. She glanced at the mirror on the door of the prefect's carriage, checking her clothes. She wanted to make a good impression, but she didn't want to come off as intimidating, either. She wore a dark violet colored circle skirt with a matching vest, both made of jersey. She'd paired it with a cream colored blouse with long sleeves and a thick black ribbon that tied just below the peter-pan collar. She'd pulled her hair back in a ponytail, and wore black flats with her white socks.
She'd made the skirt and vest, but had bought the blouse. She fished her badge out of her skirt pocket, and pinned it on the lapel of her vest. Tucking a stray lock behind her ear, she could hear the other students getting on the train now. She went to the window- the prefect's compartment had obviously been spelled to be bigger than other compartments. She saw everyone greeting their classmates and friends, and saying goodbye to their families for the semester.
She smiled a little, but then ducked away from the window as she saw the tell-tale sign of Weasley red hair. She hurried to take some tins out of her bookbag, setting them out and opening them up. She'd made biscuits, baked chicken, and a large salad. She had been too nervous to sleep properly. She also had two thermos' full of hot chocolate and pumpkin juice, respectively, along with some paper cups and disposable untensils and plates. Not a moment after she finished setting everything up on a conjured tea table set up by the window, the compartment door opened.
She glanced over to see Malfoy standing there, with Pansy Parkinson and Blaise Zabini right behind him. Zabini must have been made the boy's seventh year prefect to take Malfoy's place. The three Slytherins glared at her, as one, and Holly stopped straightening everything on the table.
"Malfoy, Zabini, Parkinson." She greeted coolly.
"Potter. You're not trying to poison us all, are you?" Malfoy asked, glancing to the food she'd laid out
"No. I just thought people might appreciate a proper lunch, rather than just having sweets from the trolley lady."
Malfoy motioned to the others casually, and they immeadiately sat off to one side, in the corner. "The Prefects will be arriving in shifts. First, the fifth years, than the sixth, then the seventh years. They will all need to do the rounds and look after the younger students." Malfoy explained, looking bored. "Then we will have a meeting with all of the prefects tomorrow evening. You and I will also have a meeting with the Headmaster afterwards."
Holly nearly dropped her cup of hot chocolate at this. She hadn't planned on having to meet with the Headmaster so soon. Malfoy gave her an odd look at this, but went on. "Of course, you'll be busy with the ickle first years, so I'll take care of the patrolling schedule. I've already drawn one up."
The compartment door opened, revealing a panting Hermione and Ron, looking as though they'd run all the way to the Prefect's compartment. "Holly! There you are!" Hermione cried. "Where have you been? When Dumbledore told us you'd ran away from the muggles again, we didn't know what to think-"
Holly couldn't help but glance at the Slytherins as her friends hugged her tightly- she hadn't wanted anyone to know anything about the muggles, but she knew those Slytherins had picked up on what she'd said instantly.
"Why didn't you tell us, mate?"
"...I just...wanted some time alone, this summer." Holly slapped Ron's hand, making him snatch it away from the chicken. "Wait until the others arrive. Anyways, aren't you supposed to be patrolling or something?"
Hermione frowned a little at this, and Ron got a strange look on his face. "C'mon, Holly, we were just looking for you..."
Malfoy spoke up. "You two know the rules. Seventh years start in the Ravenclaw section, and make their way up. You'll meet with us after we've met with all the fifth and sixth year prefects."
"...Holly?" Ron asked, scowling at Malfoy. "You want us to hang around?"
"...No...it's okay. You two go on. I'll see you in a bit." Holly said quietly. They left...reluctantly, and Holly glanced towards the others. "What?"
"Who are the muggles?" Parkinson asked, eyes narrowed.
Holly looked out the window. "No one. Parkinson, Zabini, you should go on your patrols too." The two glanced towards Malfoy as one, and he nodded. They left not a moment later, leaving just him and Holly alone.
"...Do they know you were hanging around Knockturne?" Malfoy drawled casually.
"No, and it better stay that way. Or do you want to explain to everyone what you were doing in Knockturne to begin with?"
"Touche." Malfoy smirked at her. "So...the Dursleys...they're your relatives, aren't they?"
Holly didn't answer him.
"If I remember correctly, you rescued a Dudley Dursley when you used a patronus spell a couple of years back- at least, that was what you said during your trial for underage magic. Your Cousin. So...your Aunt and Uncle then? They either must be squibs...or muggles, right?"
Holly remained silently, steadfastedly not looking in his direction. Damn it all to hell.
The compartment door opened, revealing some of the fifth year prefects. Suddenly, Malfoy was all business.
Holly was tense and pissed off. Malfoy had bungled things up, like usual. None of the Prefects respected her as their Head Girl. Sure, they might respect the Girl Who Lived, and all that, but they did not respect her authority. It didn't help that Malfoy was so...dismissive of her. What was more, he'd already made the prefect's patrolling schedule and assigned it to everyone without her approval. He also gave everyone the passwords for their common rooms, before she'd gotten the chance to (that information had been in their congratulatory letters from the Headmaster that had been included with their badges).
And Ron and Hermione's pestering wasn't helping at all. She ended up sitting by some of the younger students during the Sorting feast. The younger students stared at her with starry eyes, and she tried her best not to be embarrassed by them.
She accompanied the Gryffindors to the common room, watching Ron and Hermione direct the first years to their rooms. More than one glanced her way nervously, and she smiled at them. Holly stood by the portrait door, watching everyone say their goodnights, distantly wondering if she'd ever feel...included again.
Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Ginny approached her. Hermione spoke first. "So...you'll be staying in the Head Girl room then?" She asked in a tight voice.
Holly nodded at this. "If the first years have any problems, feel free to send them to me." She said quietly, looking down. "Malfoy already took care of everything else already...but I don't trust him with the firsties."
"Yeah, we'll send them along." Ron said with a grin.
"...It's not like you won't ever be hanging around, anyways." Neville said with a slight smile. "You're still a Gryffindor."
Holly sighed. "I'm not just a Gryffindor anymore. I'm supposed to represent all four houses now, so..." She fidgeted, glancing to her robes. It was then that the others noticed that her school uniform was devoid of all school colors. "I figured it would make me more approachable to the non-Gryffindors. Merlin knows Malfoy will be a prat to anyone who's not in Slytherin."
Ginny cracked a smile at this, and hugged her. "Well, don't be a stranger. We won't...pester you for details about your summer- right guys?" She looked at Ron and Hermione pointedly. They both nodded, but Holly wondered how long that would last.
"Well, I should get going. Have a good night guys- I'll see all of you in the morning."
Holly entered the Head Girl for the very first time, and was taken aback by how...garish and over the top it was. Gryffindor colors and symbols were everywhere. Malfoy knocked on the door behind her, making her jump. She turned, and glared at him.
"What do you want, Malfoy?"
"I just wanted to see how horrible your room was- and I was right- it looks horrible."
Holly made a face at the room, rubbing the back of her neck. "...Does it change for the Head Boy and Girl every year? Last year's Head Girl was a Ravenclaw."
"It changes every year. You would have known this if you had been a prefect." Malfoy drawled, and shook his head.
Holly took out her wand. "Well, I can't just leave it like this. It's worse than the common room, and that's saying something." She looked pointedly to him, and the boy held up his hands, grinning smugly.
"Alright, alright, I'll go back to my room."
An hour later, Holly was very thankful she had magic- it would have taken a lot longer to do her room by hand. She'd removed the majority of the Gryffindor decorations and stuck them into a cupboard. She then rearranged all the furniture. The room was big enough that she could split it- in the back of the room, she put her full-sized bed, her dresser, the nightstands, and the dressing table.
In the front of the room, she kept the sofa in front of the fireplace, transfigured the rug into something a bit more...habitable, and arranged for the small table and chairs set to be right behind the sofa. The bookcases stayed where they were, of course, and all of her things had been put away with a few flicks of her wand.
Her intention was to go back to her flat on the weekends, if she was able, so she left her more...questionable texts at home. The floor wasn't changed much, so she didn't change it up, except to transfigure the rug. She also used one of the old Gryffindor flags, transifiguring it into a divider that could seperate her bed and things from the rest of the room.
All in all, it wasn't too bad. While there were touches of dark red here and there, there were no sign of Gryffindor bias in the room. The dark wood furniture was set off rather nicely by the cream colored table cloth on the table, the white knitted throw blanket over the sofa, the white quilt on Holly's bed, and the various other decorations she'd put up around the room. It would do. It wasn't home, but it would suit her just fine for the year.
This way, she could have other people in here that wouldn't be blinded by the Gryffindor mess it once was. She had just dressed for the night, and was about to go to bed when there was a timid knock on her bedroom door.
Sighing, she got up from bed, and went for the door. She stopped as she saw what could only be a first year. She looked like she'd been crying. She had dark auburn hair, pale skin, and pale blue eyes... she wore a rather plain looking muslin nightgown.
"Hello...can I help you?"
"T-the prefects said if I was homesick, I could come to you." She said with a shaking voice. "W-were they right?"
Holly sighed, and let her in. She wondered if the prefects would send all of the firsties to her on purpose just to mess with her. The girl looked around the room, clearly admiring it.
"Why don't you sit down?" Holly asked, and paused. "Winky?" Winky appeared at her side- she was much better now than she used to be. Holly never knew what had caused the change, but she was glad for it. She thought the small elf would have done herself in, after Dobby had died, but it seemed as though she was okay.
"Winky, could you please get us some hot chocolate, and some biscuits?"
"Yes m'lady." Winky said, curtseying to her, and popped away.
"That was a house elf?" The girl asked with wide eyes.
Holly nodded, and she sat down on the sofa next to the girl. "I'm Holly. What's your name?"
The girl blushed. "Sorry- you must think I'm terribly rude. I'm Penelope Merryworth." She paused. "The new Defense Professor's niece."
Holly's brows raised at this. Looking at the girl now, she could somewhat see the resemblance. "Well, Penelope-"
"Call me Penny."
"...Penny, why don't you talk to your Aunt if you miss your family, then?"
Penny made a face. "I don't like her. She's old and she smells funny, and she talks about really boring stuff."
Holly had to hide a smile behind her hands. Winky appeared with the tea tray, with a whole teapot full of hot chocolae. "That isn't very nice, Penny. I'm sure she cares for you a great deal."
"Yeah, sure...when she got this job, she was able to get me in on a discount... otherwise, I don't think Mum and Da could have afforded it." She grabbed a biscuit, looking upset. "...My family isn't all that well off, and everyone seems to know...the girls were teasing me already."
"...Girls can be like that, sometimes. They'll tease anyone who doesn't dress exactly like them." Holly said knowingly. "I was teased terribly about that too. I couldn't let it bother me, though, and I wasn't going to change for anyone else- just me."
"But...you're so...pretty and stylish, and why would any girl not like you? You're the Girl Who Lived! You're like...an example for us all!"
Holly laughed a little. "Well, some people can be a bit jealous sometimes. And I don't know the first thing about proper fashion- I just muddle my way through, like most things." She paused, watching the girl eat another biscuit. "If you feel homesick for your parents, why don't you write them a letter? You can tell them about where you were Sorted and everything."
Penny looked uncomfortable. "I-I'm not sure if they'd be happy that I was Sorted into Slytherin." She said quietly. "...I mean, they didn't get to go to Hogwarts themselves, but everyone knows Voldemort's followers were full of Slytherins..."
Holly sighed at this. "...While many of his followers were Slytherins, there were a number of Ravenclaws and Gryffindors as well."
The girl gaped at her in shock.
Holly winked at her. "I would know, right? That little detail, I guess, has slipped everyone's mind. You see, my parents had been betrayed by a gryffindor, one of their very own friends, leading to their deaths. So...don't assume that all Slytherins are evil, that all Gryffindors are perfect...every House has its' flaws."
"...I suppose so." The girl said quietly. "...You're a Gryffindor, right?"
"I am. But since I'm Head Girl now, I'm going to try to be unbiased about things. Lord knows Malfoy won't be."
The girl paled. "That's the blonde boy, right?"
Holly nodded at this.
"His Father was a deatheater." Penny said in small voice.
"He was. Many students here have been involved in the war in some capacity, or their families have. It may be best to avoid that...subject when talking with people. Some people are...rather sensitive about it, still."
Penny nodded a little at this, and Holly made a bit more small talk. "So...what do your parents do?"
"We're animal breeders- we have a shop. Mostly crups and kneazles, that sort of thing. We don't have a huge operation, like say, the Bulstrodes do, but my parents were hoping I could learn lots more about magical creatures so we could expand one day."
Holly laughed a little. "Well, I know someone who knows more than anyone about magical creatures. Hagrid's been at this school for over fifty years, taking care of the grounds and the Forbidden Forest. He knows quite a bit. He's also the Care of Magical Creatures professor, but he loves company! Would you like to meet him?"
"...That would be great!" Penny said happily.
"There's also a girl named Luna Lovegood that is very knowledgeable about magical creatures. She's a bit...odd, but I kind of like that about her. You'll undoubtedly meet her, should you ever be in the Forbidden forest with Hagrid. She's a sixth year Ravenclaw, and she is very nice."
They made a bit more small talk, and they were interrupted by another timid knock on Holly's bedroom door. Holly winked at Penny, and went for it. Half an hour later, she had a gaggle of first years all gathered around her sofa. Holly told them stories about her years at Hogwarts, because apparently some of them had already heard the stories, but they were all bungled up. Winky was kept busy with the hot chocolate and biscuit supply.
By midnight, she was escorting all of them back to their common rooms- and each of the students had smiles on their faces. Holly went to bed that night, pleased at how everything had gone. Everyone had been dressed in their pajamas- there were no House Divisons, no hatred, no jealousy. Just a bunch of nervous first years, missing their families.
The next morning, Holly dressed for the first day of classes. She'd never been a big fan of the girl's Hogwarts uniform- she was rather self concious about how much leg she was showing, so she'd always worn tights or stockings, depending on the weather. She had also adjusted all of her school shirts. She'd always hated how they looked on her, so she changed them up a bit- trimming the hems, adjusting the sleeves so they actually fit properly, and changing the collars. With her broader shoulders and...lack of chest, she'd always looked too masculine in them, so she hoped with the changes she'd made, she would look a bit more femenine.
With her black skirt, black tights and flats, and her black robe laid open over her white blouse, she thought she looked quite plain without her House colors. She grabbed one of her thick black hair ribbons, and tied it just below the rounded collar. Better. She grabbed her bookbag (which held all of her books, since she didn't know what her schedule would be for the day), and headed out. She met Malfoy in the corridor, as though he'd been waiting for her.
He did a double take of her clothing. "Where's all that Gryffindor crap?"
"Took it off. I'm Head Girl now, I'm supposed to represt all of the Houses." She glanced pointedly to the Slytherin crest on his robes, and the Slytherin colors in the rest of his outfit. Malfoy hesitated for just a moment, before taking out his wand. With a flick, all the green faded to black, and the large embroidered Slytherin crest turned into a small pin of the same thing. Better.
She nodded approvingly, and led the way to the Great Hall. He hurried behind her, his long strides catching up quickly. "So, how was your first night?" He asked knowingly.
"I had about six first years in my quarters last night. I didn't get to sleep until nearly one." She said, giving him a sharp look.
"Well, I slept like a baby." Malfoy said with a smirk. He held the door open for her gallantly, and she rolled her eyes as she entered the Great Hall. She was glad that their rooms were so close to the Great Hall- that was certainly a plus, not having to climb up and down stairs so early in the morning.
More than one first year waved to her as she approached the Gryffindor table and sat down next to Ginny. "Looks like you've got some fans already." Ginny murmured to her with a grin.
Holly grunted, and began to put food on her plate. "Where's Ron and Hermione?" She asked, glancing down the table.
"On their way. They were arguing, last time I saw them." Both laughed a little at this, knowing it would probably be a while before the two showed up.
Holly began to eat her breakfast, but was shortly interrupted by Penny, who'd approached the Gryffindor table.
"Hi Miss Holly!" she chirped.
"...Hullo Penny. How are you?"
"I'm great! I wrote that letter to my parents- do you know where the owelry is?"
"Tell you what, I can take you there today, after classes. I've got a few letters to send out, myself."
"Oh- brilliant! I'm so excited about classes today-" She gasped. "What if I get lost?"
"Ask a portrait for directions, a ghost, or an older student. I do reccommend that you do not ask Peeves, or the painting of the Knight on the fifth floor. They'll try to get you lost on purpose."
"I wouldn't be late to McGonagall's class, that's for certain." Ginny said with a grin.
Penny nodded. "Thanks. See you later, Miss Holly!" And with that, she headed back to the Slytherin table.
"...A Slytherin, eh?" Ginny mused, looking thoughtful.
Holly said nothing about that, knowing other people were looking her way curiously.
Classes began, and they were smaller than ever- Seventh year NEWT classes were notoriously hard. Even with students from all four houses, there were just a handful in each class. A lot of students had free periods in their year, apparently. Still, Holly was still taking Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, COMC, and Defense. She could have still taken herbology too, but she decided not to- that was more of Neville's forte anyways.
Each class had started with a lecture by the teachers, explaining how this year was more important than any other year in their education at Hogwarts. No suprise, there. Holly got the feeling she was in for a lot of studying this year.
In the just the first couple of days of classes, Holly found herself with quite a bit of homework. She was having a bit of trouble finding time in the evenings to do said homework, since the first years were still coming to her in droves- some were repeats. Like Penny. Penny was quickly becoming one of Holly's favorites. The girls in her house (none of which had come to Holly), were still teasing her about not having a lot of money, and for her clothes.
Penny was, however, becoming fast friends with Angela, a quiet first year Ravenclaw. She was a muggleborn, and had yet to talk much to Holly, but Holly got the impression that she was rather lonely, but too shy to say anything. Penny talked enough for the both of them.
On the third day of classes, Holly was attempting to work on her transfiguration homework, while Penny and Angela were sitting on the floor beside her, working on their charms homework.
"Holly, do you have a boyfriend?" Penny asked, making Holly glance up from her work.
"...No." Holly said, returning to her notes, frowning a little.
Holly raised a brow, glancing towards Penny. "Penny, you need to be working on your Charms homework."
"But it's boring!" The girl sighed gustily, flopping back against Holly's legs. Holly was somewhat reminded of Ron by the gesture. Perhaps she would nip this in the bud now.
"Don't your parents use charms while they're working?"
"...I guess so." Penny mumbled.
Angela spoke up hesitantly. "See, Charms are useful. That's why we need to study now."
"Right!" Holly said with a grin.
"But you still didn't answer my question." Penny said, grinning at Holly knowingly.
"...You're going to keep asking me, aren't you?" Holly said, trying not to laugh.
Holly shook her head. Heaven help her from tenacious Slytherins.
"I do not have a boyfriend because I choose not to. Most of the boys I know are...very immature."
Both girls started giggling at this. Angela spoke up hesitantly. "What about Mr. Malfoy? He's a bit more mature, isn't he? Since he's Head Boy?"
Holly laughed at this. "Just the opposite in fact- he's less mature than any other boy my age that I know."
The girl's giggling increased at this. It was true- Malfoy was quite immature, sometimes, especcially when it came to Holly, and her friends. When the two of them met with all of the prefects, and when they had met with the Headmaster, Malfoy had been...very arrogant. Holly didn't know what the Headmaster was thinking, allowing the boy to be Head Boy. Thankfully, he had not said anything to her about where she had been over the holidays, but Holly suspected he would be calling her to his office any day now.
Ron was also pissed off that Malfoy had made Head Boy - he and Malfoy ended up near fist-fights every time they met in the corridor.
Holly was not looking forward to the following day. They would be having Defense with the rest of the students in their year tomorrow- Holly sincerely hoped there would be no dueling.
"So...do you like older guys?" Penny chirped. "Like, my Dad's like...fifteen years older than my mum."
"I suppose I do." Holly mused quietly, thinking of one man in particular. She shook herself out of it. "Alright, get back to work!"
Holly walked into Defense class the following day, feeling a bit nervous. She relaxed, minutely, when she took it in- it was sparse, but practical looking. There were bookshelves at the far end, behind Merrythought's desk. The desks were grouped together in fours, and each desktop had been tinted a color- a house color. Holly found herself smiling as she realised what it was for.
Merrythought herself was dressed in austere grey-blue robes, her nearly white hair pulled back and braided elaborately. She was not smiling, but she hummed a bit as she arranged the desks, looking to the students that were gathering by the door.
"Please choose a desk that correlates with your House color. I know that this class is one of the smallest, and you are seventh years, so I do hope that you shouldn't have a problem with that?"
Holly found herself going to the nearest desk with a red tint, and the others followed. There were five Slytherins- Malfoy, Zabini, Nott, Bulstrode, and Greengrass. Out of the Gryffindors, there was Ron, Hermione, Holly, and Neville. Susan Bones was the only Hufflepuff, and there were two ravenclaws- Su Li and Terry Boot. Apparenlty the Ravenclaws didn't think Defense was important.
Only the Slytherins had not been in the DA, and it showed- not to say that they were incompetent, it was that they had a very different arsenal of spells that they used. More than once, the previous year, Holly had wished that Slytherins had been able to join the DA. She was almost positive that Snape had trained them somehow, but since she'd never seen the man duel, she couldn't be certain.
Merrythought put her hands on her hips, looking pointedly to the Slytherins. Malfoy sighed, and began to smirk as he sat with Holly, Susan, and Su Li. All three girls glared at him coolly, but did not say anything.
Poor Ron was sitting with Greengrass, Bulstrode, and Terry Boot. Hermione was sitting with Zabini, Neville, and Nott- at least Hermione and Neville wouldn't fly off at a moment's notice like Ron would.
The classroom was quiet and distinctly unsettled- it was clear that they did not like this arrangement. Only Holly and Malfoy seemed to be smiling, but most likely for two completely different reasons. Probably. Maybe.
"You will be working in your group for the rest of the year- considering all of you have had classes together for the last six years, you should already know each other, correct?"
No one said a word.
Merrythought still kept talking, her tone brisk and stating that there would be no nonsense. "Now, this class will be very hands-on-" Many perked up at this, and Holly was a bit confused. Hadn't Snape said that Merrweather wasn't into dueling so much?
"Part of Defending yourselves is being Aware. Tell me, what are the ways that one can be Aware?" Before anyone had the chance to raise their hands, she pointed to Ron. "Mr. Weasley?"
How did she know their names already?
Ron jolted up in his seat, looking distinctly nervous. "Uh, well, you can be aware by...um...looking around?"
There were a few snickers at this, but Merrythought did not laugh. "True- by observing your surroundings, you can be Aware of any dangers that you may face. However, what if your sight was blocked by an object or a building? What if it was too dark? What if your vision was impaired?"
She pointed to Nott. "Mr. Nott, what would you do if your vision was impaired, and you were in danger for some reason?"
Nott spoke quietly, but steadily. "I would attempt to cast the counter-curse to whatever spell was affecting my vision. If, for whatever reason, it did not work, I would attempt to find the nearest surface and find my way around. Naturally, in a dueling situation, I would have mapped out the room already when I had entered the room."
"Good, good. But how would you be able to defend yourself, if you were unable to see?" She pointed to Susan. Susan jumped a little in her seat, eyes wide. "Miss Bones!"
"Uhm...you could try to hear what's going on?"
Malfoy rolled his eyes at this, and Merrythought pointed to him. "Anything to add, Mr. Malfoy?"
"If you are observant enough, you could actually avoid the spells by a combination of all senses that are not disabled at the time. You can feel the spells, smell them, and hear them being cast- and if the caster is not casting verbally, you can, at least, hear their breathing and footsteps."
"...Very good, Mr. Malfoy." Malfoy smirked at this, while Ron scowled.
Hermione looked like she was dancing in her seat, eager to answer questions, but Merrythought had avoided her, so far.
The woman smiled, but it did not reach her eyes. "This is your last year at this school, and by next summer, you will be out in the 'real world', so to speak. You will be able to continue your education on your own, of course, should you wish, but it is my job to prepare you for what is to come." She said, crossing her arms over her chest.
"B-but the war is over." Susan said quietly, but apparently not quietly enough.
"The war may officially be over, but there are still dangerous people out there, there are still those who would wish you and your families harm. Also, you need to learn how to work with other people that wouldn't normally get along with. The workplace isn't so nicely divided as this school is..." She said, looking disdainful. "Whoever thought Sorting children was a good idea, I'd like to hex them." She muttered.
There were gasps of suprise at this, except from all the Slytherins, and Holly.
"B-but Miss Merrythought-" Hermione began, but the woman interrupted her.
"Madam Merrythought." She said, arching her eyebrow. Many of the Slytherins seemed to look to Hermione, silently jeering.
"W-well, Madam Merrythought, the Sorting is a tradition that goes back over a thousand years-"
"I could care less how old that tradition is." She said briskly. "It doesn't belong in a school full of impressionable children. The world creates enough divisions as it is, why make one more?"
Holly wanted to clap.
The woman went to her desk, and started handing out papers. "The syllabus. If you miss a class, too bad. I'm not going to play catch-up with you. No make-up work, either. As you can see, not only will we be covering Theory, but we will also be covering Dark Creatures, how to detect and converse with werewolves and vampires, should you ever meet one, how to avoid dangerous situations, detecting Dark Artifacts, and how to use other artifacts, such as the Foe Glass. We will also be learning the Patronus-"
"Madam Merrythought, many of us here already know the Patronus spell." Hermione couldn't help but cut in. Holly sank in her seat a little, just as everyone who'd been in the DA looked her way.
The woman gave Hermione a long Look, frozen. "That may be, but many others do not. Have you actually cast a successful patronus in the face of dementors?"
"Then you are not prepared." She said coolly, and turned around to finish handing out the syllabi. Holly knew what the woman meant- casting a patronus was easy enough, but trying to cast one with dementors around was infinitely harder.
Holly was handed a syllabus, and she gave a quick smile to Merrythought, and then looked down at it. It looked quite interesting indeed- she was looking forward to it. Across the desk, her eyes went to Malfoy, who was reading his own syllabus. He looked bored, but his eyes were lit up, like he was quite interested as well. She did notice, however, there weren't any dueling spells they were going to cover- but there was a dueling section. She wondered about that, and how that was going to happen.
"Now, I don't care whose side you were on in the last war- Light, Dark, I don't care. This is neutral territory. There will be NO fighting in this classroom." She said with a tone of finality. "Now, we are going to take a quiz." With a flick of her wand, the space between all the grouped desks were divided by opaque glass, presumably to prevent cheating.
She went around the room once more, to hand out the papers. Holly idly wondered why the woman hadn't used a spell to do that- Flitwick and McGonagall did that all the time. She forgot about this quickly, and grabbed a quill from her bag.
Nearly an hour later, everyone was packing up, as they were allowed to leave after they finished taking the exam. Holly was still working on hers, as was Malfoy, and Neville. Everyone else was still packing their things up- but a few had already left, like Ron.
The others began to leave, and Holly glanced over to see Hermione lingering by the doorway. Holly waved her on, and went back to work. The exam covered mostly magical creatures, but there were a few essay questions- presenting an example of a dangerous situation, and they were to write how one would deal with it. It was suprisingly tough- how would you figure out how your enemy would act, after all?
Neville got up from his seat, handed over his exam, and left after packing up. Holly sighed, and checked over her work quickly, and got up. She handed her exam over to the Professor.
"Miss Potter, I'd like for you to stay for a moment." Holly nodded.
"Yes Ma'am." Holly nodded, and went to pack her things, waiting for Malfoy to finish.
"And Mr. Malfoy, when you are finished, I would like to speak with the two of you."
"Yes, Professor." Malfoy said, still writing a bit. Not a couple of minutes later, he stood, and handed his exam to her. The Professor looked over both of their papers quickly, brows raising. She looked to the two of them, and crossed her arms over her chest.
"You two have been named Head Boy and Head Girl, for whatever reasons- political, popularity, or otherwise. It does not matter to me. But it does matter to the rest of the school. You two have to show a good example to the other students. More than once, have I found you, Mr. Malfoy, to be arguing in the corridors with one Mr. Weasley, on the verge of dueling. And Miss Potter, you just stand there, not even attempting to stop such behavior."
Both Holly and Malfoy's eyes widened at this. Whatever they had expected, this hadn't been it.
"You two are to come up with the various spells and curses we will be covering the dueling section. You will also be leading this section. Just by glancing at your essays, you are more than competent in your spell knowledge, and if the rumors are true, both of you are rather...well known for your spellwork in dueling."
"Wait...you want us to work together?" Holly asked with wide eyes.
"Yes. As impossible as that may seem, I do. And if you two cannot work together and create a list of spells, and show how to teach them in a reasonable way to the students, then you will fail this class."
Holly stiffened at this, and looked to Malfoy. Malfoy didn't look like he wanted to fail either. "How do you know we'll be able to teach these spells? Not everyone can teach, even if they are a competent duelist."
Merrythought smirked a little. "With the way the staff keep speaking about Miss Potter's little Defense club, they think she might be a shoe-in for my position next year!"
"I have no intention of staying on at Hogwarts." Holly said flatly, crossing her arms over her chest, mimicking the Professor. Malfoy glanced at her in suprise. "I might like to teach, but this place is dangerous for my health. I've been nearly killed too many times in this place."
"...True. And Mr. Malfoy, you have the respect of your fellow Slytherins, so I expect they will listen to you." And then the woman laughed a little. "Oh, I nearly forgot. You two will be doing this for all of the students, not just this class."
"What!" Holly and Malfoy exclaimed in unison.
"It was in my contract that I would have assistance with the dueling section- the Headmaster was happy to oblige me. I can't quite move like I used to- I am nearly 200, after all." She said with a wicked grin.
Holly had the feeling that if the woman had gone to Hogwarts as a kid, she would have been Sorted into Slytherin. Still, she found herself chuckling. "Of course...the Headmaster knows exactly what would happen, if you hadn't taught dueling at all. I would have started up the DA anyways." She shrugged. "Alright, I'm game." She looked to Malfoy. "Malfoy?"
"...Fine." Malfoy said coldly.
"Good. Mr. Malfoy, you may go." The blonde grabbed his bookbag and left the classroom, slamming the door behind him.
Merrythought shook her head a little, and looked to Holly. "I understand that you're making Penny feel at home, here?"
Holly nodded at this. "Yes ma'am. She came the first night- I hope you don't mind?"
"No. I feared that she wouldn't fit in...what with us not being...alumni and all. But she seems happy."
Holly nodded at this. "Yes. She's becoming friends with a Ravenclaw- shy little thing, but the two girls are already inseperable outside their classes."
"And the Great Hall." Merrythought said, musing.
"I...agree with...the way you did things. People often keep to their own Houses... I stopped wearing my House colors this year. I kind of wish I did it earlier."
"...Hmm. Well, off you go- don't you have a potions class to get to?"
Holly frowned a little. "How did you know that? And how did you know all of our names anyways?"
The woman let out a chuckle. "It's simple memorization- just because my body might not be fit does not mean my mind's been let go."
"That Professor was very strict." Hermione said as she and Holly walked into the Potions classroom.
"I didn't think she was that bad. I'm actually kind of looking forward to the class."
"But- you have to work with Malfoy!" Hermione hissed.
Holly shook her head. "Look, I don't like him either, but I kind of want to pass the class. Anyways, it could be kind of fun." Malfoy must have heard that bit on the end as they passed his seat, because he gave her a rougish sort of smirk.
"Ugh." Hermione grunted. "Don't look at her, Malfoy, she's not your type- far too pretty for the likes of you!" Hermione grabbed Holly's arm, and the two sat down right behind Malfoy.
Malfoy twisted in his seat. "Jealous, Granger?"
"What! No!" Hermione hissed.
"Enough chit-chat." Snape barked as he entered the potions classroom. "Granger, Potter, ten points from Gryffindor. Each."
"B-but-" Hermione glared at Malfoy, who started to chuckle.
"Don't make me take off ten more, Miss Granger."
Holly sighed, feeling strangely happy to be back in the potions classroom for some reason. All was normal, well, as normal as could be.
On the first Friday evening of term, Holly was just finishing up supper when Malfoy approached the Gryffindor table. "Miss Potter, I need to speak with you." He drawled. Ron glowered at him, gripping the knife and fork in his hands tightly. Hermione looked as though she wanted to say something.
Holly stood. "Of course. We have that project to work on, don't we?" She asked, and looked to her friends. "I'll see you guys later."
She followed Malfoy out of the Great Hall, ignoring the whispers that followed- she was sick of it. She let out a sigh of relief as soon as they'd left the Great Hall. "Everyone seems to know that we're supposed to be in charge of the dueling section for Defense- I had no less that six people ask me what we were going to do, and that was just during lunch!"
"...We'll talk about that later, but I wanted to speak with you about your plans for the weekends." Malfoy said, striding towards the Prefect common room, which was between their private rooms. Holly followed him.
"Well, I was planning on leaving the school, maybe every other weekend or so..."
"We'll have to work out a schedule. I'd like to leave the school too, and both of us can't be gone." Malfoy said, opening the door for her. While he was a prat, at least he was a polite prat. She followed him in, and promptly sat in an armchair. Malfoy sat across from her on the sofa.
"I'm looking for work too- I've got more than a few meetings and things that I need to be at the Ministry for as well."
"...Well, maybe we can put up a calendar. I haven't got any meetings, but I can't stay at this bloody school all the time."
"...You didn't use to hate Hogwarts so much." Malfoy said quietly, leaning forward on his elbows.
Holly looked away. "It used to feel like home. Now it doesn't."
"And that little flat you have in Knockturne, does?"
Holly looked at him with narrowed eyes. "What do you know about my flat?"
"I know that it's one of many properties you own- why did you move there? Why Knockturne? Why not Diagon, or Hogsmeade, or hell, why not any of the properties abroad?"
Holly couldn't find the words. How was she supposed to explain that Knockturne felt more like home to her than any other place did?
Malfoy gave her a slow smile. "I know why. The same reason why any other Witch or Wizard would be drawn there, even if they do have the money to live elsewhere. You feel...safe, don't you?"
"I don't know what you're talking about." Holly said stiffly.
Malfoy let out a laugh. "Yes you do. Merlin, this is rich- the Poster-Girl for the Light, secretly living in the Darkest places in the entire UK. So, have you cast Dark magic yet?" He asked, his eyes glittering.
"No!" Holly snarled at him, standing up. "And I'm not going to, either!"
Malfoy stood up as well. "But you've read about it, haven't you? You've thought about it, haven't you? You're secretly dying to try it." He whispered, watching her hand twitch towards her hip, where her wand was in her skirt pocket.
"Shut it, Malfoy." Holly hissed. "You and I both know I'd kill you, if we dueled."
"Oh...I know." Malfoy said with a smirk. "I don't deny that you are powerful. Merlin, no wonder you don't want to face the Headmaster." He chuckled a bit. "If he knew, I bet he'd try to- well...he would try to reign you in, somehow."
"Don't you think I know that?" Holly hissed. "Is there any point to this conversation?"
"Yes. Our project. What better way to learn Defense by having the students defend themselves? I say we set up a trap, one group against another, a free-for all."
"...We can't do that! Someone could get hurt really badly!"
"Well, what's your idea then, if you're so clever?" Malfoy asked snidely.
Classes went on, and Holly found herself getting roped into all sorts of things on the weekends- October was already whizzing by, and she had yet to leave the school. First, it had been McGonagall needing help in her classroom after some poor first year had nearly blown it up. Then, Flitwick had needed her assistance with grading the summer homework, since his usual team of Ravenclaw graders were fooling around instead of grading- then, there was Holly's first Hogwarts Board Meeting, in which neither she or Malfoy had been able to get in a word edgewise.
Then, Hagrid had needed help in the Forbidden Forest, and then- it just went on- and on top of it all, she had her homework and the Defense Project, with Malfoy. If Holly didn't know any better, they were trying to keep her at the school. She hadn't even been able to go to Hogsmeade, despite there having been two Hogsmeade weekends already.
Finally, the day before Halloween, she'd had enough. It was a Friday night, and she was in the middle of doing some homework. Ron and Hermione had been squabbling- the three were in the Gryffindor common room. Ginny was out on a date with Luna (not that anyone besides the three of them knew), and Neville was out in the Greenhouses with Hannah...working on some exotic plants, supposedly.
Holly threw her quill to her notes, not caring if the ink smeared. "Enough of this. I'm going out."
"What! Holly, you can't-" Hermione said, standing up, cutting Ron off from his tirade. Ron's eyes widened.
"Holly, where are you going?"
"I don't know- out. I'm leaving- for the weekend. First, I'm going to tell Malfoy what's going on. He's been able to leave, so should I." She said, shoving everything into her bag. "I'm exhausted, and I've got to get away for a little while."
Her friends followed her out of the common room. "But Holly, the Gryffindors are playing in the Quidditch game tomorrow!" Ron cried, looking upset. "We're up against the Slytherins, and-"
"Well, I'm just going to have to miss it." Holly said, going down the stairs quickly, heading to her rooms. Still, Ron and Hermione followed.
"But what about your schoolwork, what about studying-"
"I can do that at home." Holly said, making Ron and Hermione quickly exchange a look.
"You still haven't told us where that is, by the way!" Hermione called after her, panting with the exertion from keeping up with Holly's quick strides.
Holly just continued on, arriving shortly to the corridor in which her room, and Malfoy's room was. She banged on his door, and not a moment later, he opened it, looking somewhat disheveled. He was glaring at her- he looked like he'd been writing something, but at fallen asleep, judging by the ink on his hands.
"What?" He asked irritably. Holly glanced to Ron and Hermione, who were coming up the corridor quickly.
"I've got to get away from the school." Holly hissed. "I'm leaving tonight- I'll be back on Sunday."
Malfoy seemed to take pity on her, glancing towards her friends. "Some friends you have, chasing you away. Alright. Go. But you owe me. Tonight's a big night."
"Thanks." Holly said, relieved, not registering his comment.
"You better think about that, Miss Potter- having debt to a Slytherin is never a good thing."
Holly rolled her eyes at this. "Well, thanks anyways. I'll see you later!" She said, grinning, going to her room. She shut her door in Ron and Hermione's faces just as they approached. They banged and banged, but she knew it wouldn't open without her permission.
She quickly got some things together- everything she needed to study, some of the books she wanted to exchange out, and her jacket. She threw it on, shrinking her books down to fit into her bookbag, and left her room. She looked to Ron and Hermione firmly- she saw that Malfoy was still there, watching them with an amused look.
"I'm leaving. Don't follow me. I give you guys plenty of privacy when you want to snog- can't you just let me have a bit of time to myself too?"
"But we do! You're always doing stuff with the ickle first years, and-" Ron began and Holly held up her hands.
"Yeah- you're right. In between helping the Professors, helping the first years, studying, hanging out with you guys, working on Defense, when have I had time to myself?"
She left before they could say a word, quickly heading for the foyer. She stopped just short of the Entrance when she saw the Headmaster casually walk in the foyer, eyes twinkling.
"Holly, my girl, I'd like to talk to you in my office for a moment-"
"No, Headmaster, I'll have to take a raincheck on that. I'll be back on Sunday."
She left before he could say a word.
Holly arrived to the Leaky Cauldron easily enough, having taken the floo from the Three Broomsticks. The place was packed (it was a Friday night, after all), so not one person noticed her as she slipped through the pub, and out into Diagon Alley.
Diagon was fairly quiet, the shops were closed, and there only seemed to be a few people out- they all seemed to be heading for the Leaky Cauldron. A man tipped his hat to her as she passed. She gave him a small smile, moving on quickly to Knockturne.
Her eyes widened as she saw it. Paper lanterns were lit in nearly every window, painted and drawn brilliantly- colors were everywhere. Unlike Diagon, Knockturne seemed to be full of people, and they seemed to be...celebrating something.
"Holly!" Someone cried, pulling her into a hug. It was Anne. She was grinning widely. "Knew you couldn't stay away for this!"
Holly stared up at the lanterns. "What is this? What's going on?"
"Three day celebration for Samhain. Our biggest celebration of the year! Where have you been?"
"School. I couldn't get away- seriously. They kept shoving stuff on me. I practically had to run out to get away."
"Will you be around this weekend?" The woman asked hopefully.
Holly nodded at this, grinning. "Yep- all weekend. I won't be going back until Sunday. Tell you what, let me get cleaned up a little, put my things down, and I'll be back down?"
"You got it, girly, and we've got lots of people for you to meet."
Holly was all smiles, feeling herself relaxing as she heard the music playing on a platform that had been set up in the middle of the street- a band played there, playing something that made her want to dance. She approached her building, seeing that the window had been boarded up again. Instead of just plain old boards, though, they'd been painted brilliantly with flowers of all sorts, Holly being the most predominant.
Touched, Holly stopped and stared for a moment, and glanced over, feeling someone staring at her. There was the dark haired girl again- but this time, she wasn't staring at her from the balcony across the way, but standing just a few feet away from her. She was staring at Holly with wide eyes.
"...Hello." Holly said cautiously.
The girl ran back into the crowd, presumably a bit nervous. Holly laughed a little, and unlocked the door to the shop. She went up the familiar creaky stairs, sighing in contentment. She was home.
As soon as she got to her flat, she promptly set everything down on the dusty kitchen table, and went to the loo to wash up. After her bath, she dressed, wearing a black full skirt, black flats, and a black gauzy top that had long sleeves and was nearly transparent. She paired it with a black vest, and let her hair lie loose. She was quickly going back down the stairs again, feeling excited- she'd never gotten to do anything like this before. A party- an actual party.
She came out to the street once more, and said her hellos to everyone- it didn't take long for someone to offer her a drink, and not much longer for her to find her old acquaintances. She laughed and danced, and was introduced to lots more people...apparently people from all over the country were there that night, all the Dark- they even had guests from abroad. There were many werewolves and vampires out too, enjoying the festivities. She was happy to dance with all of them- not caring if she was a horrible dancer for once. She was just having way too much fun!
Somehow, she ended up at a bar, learning how to play poker with a group of hags. She hadn't brought any money with her, but she'd somehow made 300 galleons so far. Someone tapped her on the shoulder, and she glanced up, her eyes widening as she saw Snape.
"Professor!" She gasped. She stood up quickly, her seat being quickly taken by another hag. She grabbed her money from the table, stuffing it into her pockets. "Professor, what are you doing here?"
"I should be asking you the same." He said, leaning forward to speak into her ear, so she could hear him. "The Headmaster is in a tizzy- he'd asked me to search for you, but I reminded him that I had this weekend off for the first time in years."
"...Is anyone else looking for me?"
"Undoubtedly. But they'll not think to look for you here." Snape looked around the crowded bar. He grabbed her arm, the two weaving through the crowd to leave the place. More than one person greeted the Professor, or Holly, as they passed through the street.
"So...you come here every year?"
"This is the first year that I've been able to come, because of the war. Well, this is the first year that many have been able to get together. We would have never gathered so openly, with the Dark Lord around."
She kept hold of his arm, ducking past a vendor that was selling lanterns. "Well, this is great! There's so many people, and the music is fantastic, and the food...are you hungry? I won some money from the game, so it's my treat-"
"Well, I-" She tugged him towards one of the food stalls, buying some popcorn for the two of them to share. As they ate, Holly watched the crowds around them. There were children of all ages- mostly Hogwarts age and younger. And it wasn't just the citezins of Knockturne, either, but Holly spotted Lady Malfoy holding court with a number of other society women on the balcony of a posh cafe, the notorious Lady Zabini was surrounded by men, all of them dancing. She even spotted a few of her classmates- Zabini and Nott were on the curb, buying some candied apples, andshe spotted Greengrass with who could only be her parents- Greengrass actually spotted her, her eyes widening as she saw Holly.
Her parents turned, following her gaze. Holly just grinned cheekily, and waved. Snape rolled his eyes at this, and tugged her towards the Greengrass family.
"Severus, it's good to see you." Lord Greengrass said to the Professor. "I'm glad you've finally showed up. The Headmaster let you get away for the festivities?"
"I doubt he would have let me, had he known I'd come here, but..." Snape looked upwards. "It's a beautiful night. I just had to come."
"And you are escorting the lovely Miss Potter, I see. Miss Potter, is this your first time here?"
Holly grinned a bit. "Well, this is my first time here for the festivities, yes...oh, the Professor isn't escorting me-" The two parted instantly. "We just met up in some pub- I was playing poker against some hags." She waggled her brows. "I was winning too, until the Professor dragged me out. So, you guys having fun?"
Lady Greengrass pursed her lips a little. "Yes...we are having fun. You could be a bit more proper, dear."
Holly made a face at this, and turned to the Professor. "I'm going to go dance some more- I normally hate dancing, but this music is so good!" She waved her goodbyes quickly, and headed to the crowd dancing in the street.
Soon, she found herself linking arms with the notorious Lady Zabini, whirling about in the street, skirts and hair flying as they danced about in circles. The moon, the stars, the lanterns were all watching silently from above, glowing merrily in the night.
The following morning, Holly groaned as she rolled over in her bed. She was...exhausted, but in an entirely good way. She was sore in places she didn't even know were sore. She lifted her head from her pillow slowly, and froze at the sight of something unexpected. Severus Snape lying next to her. They were both fully dressed, except for their shoes, but it was clear that they had somehow...
How had that happened? She closed her eyes, holding her head a little, and then remembered. She had somehow been talked into trying firewhiskey by Tildy. That stuff had quite the kick to it! She somehow ended up getting a bit tipsy, and Snape had dragged her up here. She hadn't been flat-out drunk to the point of embarassment, but enough that she would have had a bit of trouble on the stairs. And she'd begged him to stay...
She looked over at the sleeping man with a small smile on her face. She leant over, brushing a lock of hair away from his cheek. The sun was shining on them from the window- she'd never seen him look so...she leant down slowly, so as not to wake him, and she kissed his cheek.
He grabbed her quite suddenly, his eyes opening, and shoved her away, making her tumble off. He blinked for a moment, visibly adjusting. Holly squeaked as she fell off the bed.
"Well! That's the last time I do something nice for you, then." Holly said, getting up from the floor, dusting herself off.
"...I...didn't know who you were for a moment. I apologize." He looked around, and suddenly got up from the bed as well. He glanced outside. "It's nearly noon already."
Holly groaned. "Ugh, how late did we stay out?"
"Far past midnight. Tonight should be much calmer. I-I should be getting back to my flat."
Holly shook her head. "No- stay for breakfast...er lunch, at least. I'm dying to cook something, and it's no fun to just cook for myself." Holly said, going to her drawers, tugging out some clothes for the day. "Why don't you get cleaned up in the loo, and I'll make us some breakfast?"
"...Very well, then. But after breakfast, I should get going."
Snape ended up staying after breakfast anyways. He ended up reading one of her books, while she worked on her homework. The afternoon was quiet, a very big contrast from the previous night. Holly glanced over at the Professor just as the sun was going to go down. He must have been looking at her right at the right time- their eyes met.
Holly gave him a small smile, heart beating just a little bit faster.
"I guess we should head out, then? What happens tonight?"
"It's basically a parade. We take all the lanterns, which are supposed to respresent all of those we have lost in the past, and walk down the alley with them. Then we all douse the lanterns in the well at the very end of the alley, next to the abandoned warehouse. While we do this, we are supposed to speak their names, to put them to rest."
"And then there's the party." Snape said with a small glint in his eye. "But this one's mostly for the adults. In the past few years, it's been hosted at Malfoy Manor, but this year, it's hosted right here in the Alley. Holly?"
Holly shook the bad feeling off. "It's Halloween." She said quietly. "Something bad always happens on Halloween."
The man looked at her, concerned. "But the Dark Lord is gone- and this is certainly the safest place for you now-"
Holly shook her head. "It's just...a feeling." She stood from the sofa, going to the window. People were just now starting to come out onto the street- mostly parents and their kids. The people who'd been partying the previous night would probably show up a bit later. She sighed. "Maybe I'm just being paranoid." Snape stood, and joined her, looking out the window.
"Tell me." The man said quietly. "Those instincts of yours haven't failed you yet, have they?" She gave him a little smile.
"Oh, so you admit it, then?"
Snape just raised a brow.
Holly looked back out the window. "...It's just...people from the Dark have gathered together from all over the country- far more people than Voldemort ever had as his followers. Together. In one place. Last night had been amazing, the energy, the joy...but tonight..."
"Do you think the Ministry will try something?"
"With this many people gathered together, they would be mad- maybe that's why they haven't tried it before. Maybe I'm just worrying for no reason." She looked down. "It's just...if the Ministry do try to do a raid or something...things could get ugly, very quickly."
"And if that happens, I want you to stay out of it." Snape said, putting his hands on her shoulders tightly. She scowled, looking up at him.
"Like hell I will!"
They stared at each other for the longest time, knowing what was happening, but the two of them too scared to say anything, do anything about it. Snape pulled away first.
"We should get going."
Holly had bought a lantern from a vendor, as had the Professor. She wore a black shawl that covered her head, much like many other women did in the procession. She saw people of all ages gathered together- if she had thought that there had been a lot of people before, there were even more now. There were even people there that spoke other languages- French, German, Italian- it was beautiful. Everything was quiet and peaceful, and Holly felt...connected.
Here, it didn't matter how much money you had, or where you were from, or what you did for a living. Everyone here was gathered to honor their dead, to be together. She couldn't imagine Voldemort ever doing such a thing- perhaps that was why they hadn't gathered so openly in years.
And now, all of these people were free. The procession began, and people began to walk down the street. Halfway through, however, there was a loud popping sound, and a bright blue light surrounded the street on all four sides. Everyone stopped short, looking around.
Holly looked to Severus instantly, frightened. He tugged her shawl down a bit to hide her face a bit more, and grabbed her hand, squeezing it. People began to come out of formation, looking visibly confused. Then...from the rooftops, the spellfire came.
Screams filled the air, and people began to run. Holly, along with many other people, grabbed their wands, and started firing back. But the blue shield blocked their spells, bouncing off. Holly's eyes widened at this. It was like they were fish in a barrel.
"Calm down!" She yelled, letting go of Severus' hand, ignoring his warning look. "Calm down!" She cried. "Our spells are blocked! Get inside!" She yelled. The word was passed quickly, and those who weren't already running inside their homes and shops already were doing so now.
Dead littered the streets- theses curses that were being cast were all killing curses. Holly couldn't imagine who would be doing such a thing- Voldemort was dead, right? This wasn't happening, right?
She looked around frantically while Severus tried to tug her towards the nearest pub. She saw the little girl, the one who was always on the balcony- running towards her, crying. The killing curse just missed her before she threw herself into Holly's arms. Holly carried her inside the pub, and Severus locked the door behind her, and used his wand to cast a number of wards.
Holly turned to look at the crowded pub- there were many people crowded together, all looking terribly frightened, angry, and lost. "Mama! Mama!" The girl wailed.
Out of the crowd, came a man, shoving people aside. "Marie- oh Marie..." He grabbed her from Holly's arms, hugging the girl tightly. "My little girl...thank Morganna you're safe." He whispered.
Holly stared at the two, glad that they had found each other. She glanced at Severus, whose wand was still trained on the door.
Holly could see that no one knew what to do. So naturally, she was up to the task. She grabbed the nearest chair, and climbed on it. "Alright, is anyone hurt?"
Lots of shaking of heads.
"Okay, is there another way out of here?"
"Yeah." A grizzled old man spoke up from the bar. "There's the back door, but they've blocked it somehow with that spell. I figure they did that to all of the shops and things."
Everyone froze as they heard the sound of breaking glass, and yelling. Their attackers were obviously not on the roofs anymore. People began to panic a bit now- the unmistakable sound of flames began.
"Everyone who can cast the freezing charm, do it now!" Holly yelled, and people began to do just that. "Is there any other way to get out?"
"No...no way out, 'cept the front." Someone said. Everyone there knew that they couldn't apparate out- both Diagon and Knockturne were blanketed with anti-apparation and anti-portkey wards. The only way in or out was through the Leaky Cauldron or Gringott's Floos- of which, they had access to neither, because of that spell that was up.
Holly and Severus exchanged a look. Holly adjusted her shawl, wrapping it around her face so that only her eyes showed. Snape flicked his wand, placing a glamour. Then he spoke. "Alright, all children and those who are unable to fight, go to the basement." He flicked his wand, slamming the basement door open. "Do it now- I'll spell the door so no one can open it except for me and Holly here. We'll also cast a spell so that the flames cannot touch it."
"Yes Professor!" Many yelled, and many children and the elderly were ushered into the basement quickly.
"And those of us who can fight, let's go!" The man yelled. Soon enough, everyone was streaming out onto the street. It was chaos. Many buildings were on fire, or about to be put on fire, and people were dueling in the street. Holly started casting curses left and right, with Severus by her side. At one point, the two were dueling eight men all at once- Holly spotted the bright red of Auror's robes, but other men in uniform too-
Severus spoke, after decapitating a man in a blue uniform. "They've got the French, Italian, and Spanish Hitwizards here- they must have been authorized to cast the killing curse-" He gasped, narrowly dodging a killing curse.
Holly was shoved out of the path of a curse by Anne, who laid on the ground, dead, with a grin on her face. Holly didn't have time to react before she was cursing again, cursing with all the spells she'd always wished to use, but too scared to use them before.
She had no problems doing it now. She grimaced as blood splattered onto her face. She wiped it quickly, and Severus grabbed her by the waist, tugging her out of a curse just in time. They held hands, their curses blasting all of their enemies away. Their allies began to shield them, or concentrated on keeping the fires from spreading.
The moon was high over the heads by the time the fighting stopped- the attackers withdrew, bringing their dead and injured with them, leaving them with their own dead. Holly collapsed to the ground, staring up at the firey night sky, just as they saw the last of the men leave.
"Holly...get up..." Severus whispered, crouching next to her.
"...So many...dead..." Holly whispered back. He held her close, helping her stand up.
"...It's okay. They left. We're still alive. Knockturne will get back up again- we always do."
"...Has this happened before?"
"No. Not like this. But...we'll be okay." Severus whispered. He had blood streaked on his face, matting his hair and clothes, and a bruise on his jaw- but he couldn't be more handsome. "You were amazing." He breathed. "I've never seen anyone fight quite like you."
"You were pretty good yourself." Holly said with a small smile. "I wish I could have seen you duel under better circumstances, but..." He cut her off, hugging her tightly. She smiled, trying not to cry and laugh at the same time.
He pulled away from her, grabbing her hand- it was clear that he didn't want her too far away from him. "We need to get those people out from the pub, and see what the damage is." Holly nodded at this, watching everyone start to gather up the dead.
It was nearly dawn before the crowd was gathered together again- the dead were all gathered inside the abandoned warehouse, the survivors doused all the flames in the buildings- things would be repaired soon enough.
Holly spotted a stoic Lady Zabini- that woman was a hell of a fighter. Their eyes met, and the woman gave her a nod of recognition. With her were some of the other society women, their fancy robes and dresses all singed and streaked liberally with blood and grime. They all curtsied to her respectfully.
"That was quite the spellwork, young lady." Holly pulled down her shawl from her face, not missing the surprise on their faces.
"Thank you." She said with a smile. She glanced to Severus, who was talking with some shopkeeps. She looked back to the women, and glanced towards the charred bandstand next to them.
"I'm going to assume someone is going to make a speech or something, judging by how everyone's gathered here together?" She joked.
Lady Malfoy spoke, amusement in her eyes. "Yes. You are, my dear."
"Me?" Holly's brows raised.
"And I shall introduce you properly. Come." She led the way up the creaky steps, the hem of her black robes torn and burned, but she still looked every bit the lady. Holly followed her, glancing to Severus. Lady Zabini shoved him up as well, despite his protests, lowering the glamour on his face.
Holly held out her hand to him, and he grabbed it, and the two stood on the small stage with Lady Malfoy. The sun was just peeking over the tops of the buildings.
Lady Malfoy spoke. "Last night was...a tragic disaster. From what we could gather, the English Ministry of Magic has joined forces with other Ministries in their fight against the Dark. But we are strong! We will get right back up, no matter what they throw at us!"
Holly stared at the crowd below, staring at their gazes, wondering why the hell she was up here. How did she always get into these messes? Severus' hand was grasping hers tightly, his expression closed, but his eyes lit up in a way that made her shiver.
"Last night, things could have gone much worse. Much worse. Many more would have perished, if it had not been for these two standing at my side. Lady Holly Potter-Black, and Lord Prince-" Many began to clap at this. "These two, more than anyone, know the dangers of dancing between the Light and the Dark." More clapping. "These two know what it is like, hiding our true selves everyday, trying to survive when all we want to do is live in peace. Well, I say no more!"
"No more!" People yelled back, fists punching in the air.
Holly's eyes widened at this, and she drew a bit nearer to Severus. He gave her a Look she couldn't quite interpret. All she'd wanted was some peace and quiet...just some time alone in her flat to study.
This was not what she'd planned. People were chanting behind them, screaming "NO MORE!" Her heart was beating in time, faster and faster.
"Severus..." She whispered. "...What do we do?"
His eyes were wild and glittering as he took both hands into hers. Her breath hitched as he drew closer, and began to speak quietly. "They need a leader, Holly. Perhaps...with the way things have gone for so long, the one Leader of the Dark, against the one Leader of the Light...perhaps it is time for two to lead. Together."
"I-I can't...Severus...I'm just..."
"Don't." Severus murmured. "You are more than that." The chanting quieted, but neither noticed. "You know that things need to change- I've spent my entire life, playing nice with the Light. I'm tired of it. And I know you will too. Don't lie to yourself. Don't try to pretend you are something you are not."
"But...I...I don't want to become like Him."
"You won't. Neither will I. Unlike him, we will have each other."
"...You sure know how to sweep a girl off her feet, Snape." Holly said with a small smile. "...Alright."
Severus gave her a brilliant smile- her jaw dropped at the sight- Merlin! He turned towards the crowd, who correctly surmised their agreement. They began to cheer, and Holly couldn't help but smile, hiding her face in Severus' shoulder, while his arm wound around her waist.
She pulled away from him, shaking it all off- it was down to get to business. "We need everyone to rebuild what's been destroyed. If we need to get supplies, I'll help out with the cost. Severus too." Severus shook his head at this, lips quirking. "Just the essential stuff, okay? We also need to figure out what to do with the dead. Our foreign guests, you are welcome to stay as long as you like, but if you would like to leave, I completely understand."
Holly glanced at Severus. Apparently he was letting her do all the talking right now.
"We also need people to spread the word about what happened. I'm sure the press won't print it, but I'm sure you guys can still get the word out...um..."
Severus spoke. "I will speak to all of my students about what happened tonight, and what it means. I will also try to arrange it so that they may make floo calls to you in my office. If you need to contact us, please go through my house elf, Winky. Our post is being watched."
Holly turned to look at him in surprise. Winky was Severus' house elf? Was that why she was so much better now? Why hadn't she ever told Holly? Well...then again, Holly had never asked...
Holly spoke up. "I know people haven't slept yet, so we'll let you go soon. For those of you who lost loved ones last night, they should all be honored for the sacrifices that they had made. While it might be a bit late..." She bent down and picked up a singed lantern that had been on the stage. The spell still made it glow, and the sunlight made it look like it glowed even more.
She reached in, dousing the light with her hand, closing her eyes. Everyone was silent for a long moment, and then they began to whisper the names of those who had died.
By that afternoon, she had still not slept, and she was exhausted. It was officially Sunday, and she needed to go back to the school. There had been nothing in the papers about the attack- not one thing. Holly took a break from helping the others, and went to her flat. Severus followed, and as soon as they entered the flat, he grabbed her, and held her close.
"I told you I didn't want you fighting."
"I still did it anyways." Holly said, her voice muffled in his shoulder. "...We need to get back to the school" She raised her eyes to meet his. "...But I don't want to go back."
"We have to. We need to get cleaned up as well. I don't dare to look upon my own flat- it was in the thick of the damage last night. Do you mind if I..."
"Not at all." Holly said with a nervous little smile. "My Lord." She added with a cheeky grin, as he headed towards the loo.
He bowed gallantly. "My Lady." He said with a smirk.
Holly blushed at this. "Touche. Merlin, is this really happenig? I feel like this is some sort of strange dream..."
He headed into the loo, but he did not close the door behind him. She heard him start the shower, and she stared, hearing the rustling of clothing being removed...
He poked his head out, a glint in his eye. "Are you coming?"
Holly found herself walking forward before she thought twice. Soon, she was in the loo, and Severus- no shirt- hands, arms, he was kissing her, tugging at her clothes. Her thoughts were all a-jumble as they undressed hurriedly, steam filling the small loo.
His lips were thin, his kiss bruising. He was not gentle, or tender. Her skirt ripped as it was removed, and he stumbled out of his trousers, and soon, he was shoving her against the wall, pinning her wrists up with one hand, groping her with the other. She was so...overwhelmed, so...she was shaking, so out of it as he helped her out of the rest of her clothes. He kissed her hard, their eyes meeting as he put her under the shower. She held herself, watching him take off his boxers, unable to hold in her gasp in as she saw his...
Not a moment later, he was in the shower with her, kissing her with abandon, his body pressing against hers. She held on to him tightly as he grabbed anywhere he could reach- her bum, her breasts, her hips- as though he couldn't decide where to go first.
She groaned as his hand went south, and his lips let go of hers, and he kissed her neck and ear. "Someone's wet." She shuddered as he slid a finger into her suddenly, making her arch up. "And ready."
Holly's body was screaming 'yes!', as he kissed her hard, pushing her up, steadying her. He reached down, stroking his cock just a couple of times before he pressed into her. She let out a whimper, holding onto him tightly around his neck. He slid all the way in- it was painful, and her whole body throbbed in a whole new way at the sensation of being filled.
She rested her head on his shoulder, her wet hair sticking to him. "You alright?" He asked quietly, never losing his tight grip on her.
"...My first time. Hurts a bit." She panted. "Just...give me a second."
His hands went to her hips, and he leant back, looking at her. She glanced upwards, feeling suddenly shy, as though he wasn't inside her that very moment.
"...Don't be afraid. I'll take care of you." He mumured, leaning his forehead against hers.
Holly felt her eyes burn- Merlin, she was getting sappy now. She'd never expected this to actually happen...while she had known for a while that she had been attracted to the Professor, and he was attracted to her back...she had never expected them to get to do this.
She tightened her grip on him, and he adjusted his hold on her. "Okay." She whispered. "Just...go slow for now?"
The man only nodded, slowly pumping his hips against hers. They kissed languidly, and his hips began to quicken. Holly groaned, holding on tight as he suddenly withdrew, and slammed into her. She gasped, kissing him hard, tongues mixing as he kept at it- her legs hooked around his waist, and she was grabbing his hair tightly as she began to feel entirely too good.
She could only hold on as he fucked her against the wall- not how she'd imagined losing her virginty...what with other people's blood washing off of them, being the newly-christened leaders of the Dark- she felt him move inside her in an entirely new way, making her shudder.
"Oh! There...there..." She groaned, and he attempted to copy what he'd done, but it was no good. Well...she hoped there would be repeats of the experience. She was nearly dropped as he let go of her bum, and he grabbed her hair tightly. They kissed, nearly bruising from the force. His hips were slamming into hers repeatedly, his skin smacking against hers- she felt sort of hot all over, and it wasn't just from the water, either.
She cried out as his breathing grew shallow, and she felt him cum inside her. He kept going, milking his cock inside her channel- her toes curled at the sensation of his warm cum inside her, warming her in an entirely new way- her body spasmed a bit. He was letting her go now, both of their legs weak. They clutched at each other, kissing and panting for air. Holly leant against Severus, trying to steady herself, but not doing that so well. "...Sev..."
"I know." Severus murmured, kissing her, his eyes brighter than she'd ever seen. He knelt down, and picked her up, bridal style, carrying her out of the shower.
"Severus- what are you-" He nudged the loo door open, and he carried her into the bedroom.
It was dusk by the time they finally came up for air. Holly was curled up against Severus' chest, atop him. He was still inside her, but just. They laid naked on top of her sheets, the blankets long ago having fallen from the bed, as well as the pillows. Holly sat up slowly, looking at the man below her.
Severus gave her a lazy smile, eyes hooded. He reached, hands smoothing down her front and sides, coming to rest on her hips. "How do you feel?"
"...Amazing. I know I'm going to be as sore as hell tomorrow, but I don't care." Holly said with a grin, reaching up to get the hair out of her face. "What I want to know, is if we're going to do this again."
"Most certainly." Severus murured, and sat up slowly. "Holly...I've been attracted to you for some time. And I know you are too. The thing is, I don't play around much...I want to settle down. Have a family. I need to know if you would want the same." Holly stared at him.
She blinked. "...Severus...of course I would." She whispered, hugging him tightly. "But...what about all that happened with...everyone?"
"We can do both- we'll be all the stronger because of it. Not many Dark Lords do the whole marriage and kids thing...that will make us different." He said with a smirk.
Holly kissed him, hard. "You sure move fast, don't you?" She breathed against his lips.
"Believe me, I've been thinking about it long enough." He kissed her deeply. "I'd marry you right now, if you'd let me."
"Why don't you then?" Holly said, jokingly.
He looked her right in the eyes, and looked so solemn for a moment that Holly thought he would actually...
"Get your wand." He murmured. Holly reached over, grabbing it from her bedside table. He did the same, and they brought their wands together.
"We have risked our lives for one another. We have dueled at each other's sides. We have lost and given blood to others, and to each other. I have been in you, and you have been in me- physically, mentally, and emotionally. I am forever yours...and you will be forever mine. Lady Holly Jamie Potter-Black, will you Bond with me?"
"...Yes." Holly whispered, heart racing. Was this really happening? Was she going to wake up tomorrow in her dorm room, and have all of this be a dream? This was all happening so fast!
Their wands connected in a stream of light circling around both wands, coming to their wrists, encircling them in light as well. The circles grew ever smaller, changing color from a glowing white, to a silver, gold, to red, indigo, blue, darkening to a black- finally coming to a close about their ring fingers. The light faded away, and two rings were left behind- unornamented, just plain bands, in what looked like black jet.
Holly stared at her ring, which was just slightly smaller than Severus'. She looked up at him with wide eyes. "...Severus...are we...really..."
"Yes." He said quietly, cupping her cheek. "You are now officially Lady Holly Prince. Your other titles will go on to whatever heirs we may have- in the eyes of magic, we are officially married. I love you, Holly. I always have. I might have acted like a bastard at times, but...I just wanted to protect you."
"I know." Holly hugged him tightly, trying not to cry. "I was a cheeky brat- I didn't make it easy for you. I love you, Severus. Merlin, I don't know for how long, or when it happened, but I think I've always felt something for you."
They kissed gently, holding each other. They stiffened as they suddenly heard laughter- they looked out the window, and saw the little girl on the balcony, giving them a little finger-wave. Holly gasped, falling off the bed in her haste to grab the blankets, while Severus just gave her a Look.
They'd just managed to cover up when her Father came to the balcony door, and colored upon seeing them. Severus wrapped the blanket around him, opening the door to the balcony.
"I am soo sorry- Marie, you know better than that!" Her Father said, shaking his head at her. But the little girl was still smiling.
"Theys be kissy and pretty lights." She said, pointing to Severus' hand.
The girl's Father's jaw dropped as he saw the ring- "...Potions Master...I...congratulations are in order, I think?"
"Thank you." Severus said, trying not to be awkward. Each man gave a bow of their heads to one another, and then went inside. Severus smiled as he saw Holly sitting there, wrapped up in the sheet.
"...He figured it out?"
"Yes. We should be getting going soon." He murmured, bending down to kiss her. She leant into his kiss, and he cupped her cheek. "...If we start up again, who knows when I will let you out of that bed." He said.
Holly laughed a little at this- he helped her out of the bed, and the two dressed. She put on her dark red circle skirt, a cream colored blouse, and her robe. As she tied the black ribbon underneath the collar of her blouse, she glanced over to see Severus putting on his robes. They were the same ones he'd worn during the battle, but at least they'd been cleaned with cleaning charms.
"I am anxious to see the damage to my flat. My more rare ingredients and things should be safe in the cellar, but my books..well, protective spells can only work so much." They walked hand in hand down the stairs, and left Holly's building. She strapped her bookbag across her chest, and the two froze as everyone looked their way, and began to clap and cheer.
The two exchanged a look, and Tildy approached them with a knowing grin. "Everybody could hear you two goin' at it through that window-" She motioned upwards at this, towards Holly's bedroom window. Holly blushed hotly at this, cursing herself silently. "At least somebody's havin' a good day today." She wagged her finger at Snape. "And you, you'll take care of her properly, yeah?"
Snape simply held up their joined hands, and Tildy gasped as she saw their rings. "My word!" That was the cue for the others to crowd around them, wanting to look at their rings.
Holly glanced to Severus, and the man spoke, making everyone go silent. "We need to inspect the damage to my home, and then we must be going back to the school."
"Before ye get back, you might want ta do somethin' about those rings." An older man said, laughing a little. "Even if you are...well, you, people will still frown on it, with you bein' her teacher and all."
"I'm of age." Holly said, lifting her chin a little. "And it's a little late for that now."
The others laughed at this.
Tildy spoke up. "So, ye two are now Lord and Lady Prince, yes?"
Severus nodded at this. "We are." He glanced to Holly, squeezing her hand. "My wife, understandably, cannot go public with the title change just yet, but that will change when she leaves Hogwarts."
Everyone got a bit serious for a moment, exchanging whispers and glances- and as one, they began to curtsey and bow.
"Congratulations, m'Lord, m'Lady." They murmured, bowing their heads. They let the couple pass, going up the street to Severus' flat. The building was charred and blackened with damage- the windows were all blown out. The two stared up at the building, Severus gripping Holly's hand so tight it nearly cut off her circulation.
"...I'll have to inspect the damage at another time." He said with a tight voice. He took out his wand, and cast something at the building. "That will keep it safe from the elements." He put his wand away, and looked to Holly.
"Well, I suppose you'll just have to stay with me, in the meantime." Holly said with a cheeky grin.
Holly and Severus were silent as they headed towards the school in the dark. They didn't dare to even hold hands, though Holly wanted to. Rings would certainly would have been noticed, so Severus fashioned his into a brooch, the ring disguised within the black-on-black design. He wore it on his lapel, over his heart. Holly did hers to match, but her slightly smaller brooch was used to fasten her ribbon tie that she so often wore.
Holly's hand went to her brooch briefly as they stopped just outside the Hogwarts' gates- they stared up at the lights of the castle.
"Remember our story."
"Of course. You found me in the muggle world- quite scandalous." She winked at him playfully.
He leant down briefly to whisper in her ear. "I'll give you something scandalous to think about, wife."
She couldn't help but smile at this, unfastening the gates. "Shh." She tried not to laugh. "Don't look so happy, you're supposed to be mad at me, remember?"
Severus followed her, fixing his expression into a glower, and Holly pasted a rather amused, but bored look on her face.
As soon as they reached the steps of the castle, the Headmaster was waiting for them.
"I found Potter in the muggle world, of all places. The little brat was window-shopping!" Severus declared, waving a hand lazily in her direction. "Now, if you don't mind, Headmaster, I'd suggest that you give her Detention for skipping out on her duties as Head Girl, and-"
"That is enough Severus." The Headmaster said serenely, the twinkle absent from his eyes. "You and I will need to talk at another time. Holly, come with me."
Holly didn't glance back as she followed the Headmaster into the castle. The man spoke as they started to head up the stairs.
"Holly, I'm very dissapointed in you. Not only did you neglect your duties as Head Girl, you refused to tell anyone where you were going. How are we to keep you safe, if we cannot protect you?"
Holly sighed. "Look, I just wanted some time alone. I haven't had one minute alone since term started- this whole thing is very stressful, what with classes, and trying to get the first years adjusted, and the whole Defense Project...I just wanted some time to recoup, you know?"
"...I suppose. Now, Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley were quite worried about you, and they even tried to write you a letter, but your owl refused the delivery for some reason." Holly hid a smile at this, mentally thanking Hedwig.
"I told them I would be back Sunday, and I did. Sure, it might be a little bit later than I planned, but..."
The Headmaster led the way into their office. Fawkes trilled as soon as Holly entered the room, making Holly smile a little. Dumbledore watched this interaction for a moment.
"Holly...you must know that there are still Dark witches and wizards out there. Not all of them had been Marked by Voldemort, but they still believed in his work. Since you defeated him last year, you would be a main target to anyone who would try to take his place."
"...I don't think that would be happening so quickly...isn't everyone sick of fighting?" Holly asked. She did not sit- the Headmaster had not offered, so she would not do it. Strangely, he hadn't offered a lemon drop or anything yet either.
"You would think so, but some people strive for conflict." The man murmured, looking thoughtful. "I feel as though I should let you know- just last night, there was a big commotion in Knockturne. It turned out to be a fire, caused from illegally-bred Fire Salamanders, and the fire spread from building to building. Unfortunately, there were casualties-" The man sighed. "I don't want you getting hurt, my girl. You mean so much to the wizarding world." He gave her a gentle smile, eyes twinkling.
"You are a beacon of hope, of the Light. Your kindness is known, not just by your fellow students, but the House elves, and many others, even outside our borders. The Dark would surely target you because of this, because you are the antithesis of everything that they represent."
Holly kept her eyes lowered, doing her best not to react. It was all true- she was a symbol to the Light. But now...she was a symbol to the Dark as well. She idly wondered if this had ever happened to someone before.
"And because you mean so much to so many people, you are being watched. You must be a positive example Holly- do not shirk your duties, try your best, and show how rewarding a good, clean life can be."
"Yes sir." Holly murmured, feeling as though she was lying through her teeth- after all, she'd killed innumerble men, and had gotten hitched in the spur of the moment. And let's not forget all the sex. What a weekend!
"Now, on another note, I believe Mr. Malfoy is most anxious to see you about your Project. He was asking about you just as much as Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger were." The man chuckled. "If I didn't know any better, that boy had feelings for you."
Holly couldn't hide her shock and disgust at this. "Malfoy!"
Dumbledore laughed. "I'm sorry, my dear girl. But you must admit, he has a sort of rougish charm. Perhaps you can help him find the error of his ways...he is still young enough to change his Alignment, should he wish."
"...I really don't like Malfoy." Holly said honestly. "I just put up with him because we have to work together."
"Of course, my dear. Now, on you get."
Holly was unlocking the door to her room when Malfoy threw his door open, and Looked at her. "Potter, you-" His lips thinned, as though he wanted to say something, but he couldn't. He glanced pointedly towards the Prefect common room. "Granger and Weasley are waiting for you in the common room. I got tired of them banging on my door, so I locked them in." He paused. "I need to speak with you."
Holly hesitated for a moment before she entered his room. It was decorated quite differently than hers- a white shag carpet, black leather seating- it was all very stylish. She stood just in the doorway, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Make it quick. I'm exhausted- I haven't slept since yesterday." She muttered. "And I still have to face Ron and Hermione, so who knows how long that will take."
Malfoy shoved a packet of letters into her hand. "Read those. Those are notes for the project."
She glanced downward, and saw that they were, indeed, letters. He gave her a pointed look, and then glanced around the room- was someone listening? "Anyways, I want you to look over them, and give them back tomorrow, so we can go ahead and send the lesson plans off."
"...Of course." She tucked the letters into her bookbag. "I'll look at them as soon as possible." She reached upward, fingering her brooch, and she saw Malfoy's eyes lit up. His jaw dropped a little, but he quickly remembered himself. He gave her a little bow of his head, silently giving her his congratulations.
"Once we've got those plans finished, I figure we could tell the others?" He asked, arching a brow.
"Just a select few, if you want. Maybe you can test out some of the spells with Nott, Greengrass, and Zabini. I'll test some out with...maybe Neville and Luna?" She was telling Malfoy to talk to Nott, Greengrass, and Zabini- they had only been there on Friday night, not for the attack.
"Oh...good idea...we'll do that this week, then?"
"I'm not sure if I could meet up with Luna and Neville this week outside of classes that much, but I'll see what I can do." She smiled. "Sorry for the hold-up. I just got...carried away."
Malfoy made a face. "Alright, you can stop it with the stupid grin." And he meant it. "I was thinking that I could talk to the Professor, maybe tomorrow? He might have some ideas about what we could do."
"Of course." Holly said, and nodded. "I should get going back to Ron and Hermione, then."
She left his rooms, wondering if the Headmaster had put charms up in her room too, while she'd been away. Well...at least she'd never said anything incriminating, out loud.
Holly walked into the Great Hall the following morning, feeling refeshed. She'd slept like a baby the previous night, too exhausted for worrying or nightmares. Especcially after Severus came to her room in the middle of the night- after silently telling him that there were charms listening in on them, he quickly deactivated them before...ah, getting down to business. Just sleeping together was amazing, and Holly had loved waking up next to him.
Holly was now walking into the Great Hall with Ron and Hermione- they'd caught up to her just outside her rooms- they'd clearly been waiting for her. They kept asking what she had done, and she gave them sort of vague answers about window-shopping and things.
Again, they asked about where she had stayed. "Holly, come on, you can trust us!" Ron said with a grin, but it did not reach his eyes.
"It's better that you don't know. The less people who know, the safer for me- I don't want the press and everyone else knowing where I live." She said.
"You're sounding like Moody, mate. Paranoid, much?"
"She has a right to be paranoid." Malfoy drawled, passing by them with Parkinson on his arm.
"Shut up, Malfoy, you guys lost the war- it's not like the Dark is still out to get us- and if they were, Holly could kick your ass anytime!"
Malfoy just raised a brow. "And what will you do, Weasley, hide behind her skirts?"
Ron looked visibly angry, while Holly gave a Look to Malfoy. The blonde turned, going to the Slytherin table.
Just as they sat down at their own table, the post arrived. Holly began to put her food on her plate, trying her best not to be angry. Ron didn't know any better, was all. He grew up knowing that the Dark was bad, and that the Light was good. For a while, she'd thought the same, until she put things into perspective. She glanced at Hermione as she buttered her toast- wondering if Hermione would ever open her eyes properly. Hermione was just opening her newspaper up.
Hermione gasped. "Oh, how awful! Some Aurors died over the weekend. Apparently there was a big fire, and they died, trying to save people's lives." She said, eyes scanning the article quickly.
Holly gripped her knife a bit tighter at this, watching both Neville and Ron read the article over Hermione's shoulders. Ron suddenly grinned. "Eh, it was only in Knockturne- they don't say how many of Their Sort died." Ron motioned vaguely to the Slytherin table behind him. Holly looked their way, and saw how quiet they were- none of them were smiling. She wondered if any of their family members had gotten hurt...or worse.
"Those are people's family members you're talking about, Ron." Holly said, before she could stop herself. "Maybe not everyone in Knockturne is that sort."
Hermione and Ron looked up from the newspaper, blinking in confusion. Holly did her best to keep calm and ignore them. She thought about the letters she'd read that morning, while preparing for the day. Most of the letters were letters of thanks, while some were from the wealthier, more elite members of the dark wishing to assist in some manner. Buttering up, most likely. Still, a lot of people looked up to her for some reason, and she wasn't going to let them down.
"You now..." Neville began, looking thoughtful. "An old friend of Gran's lives in Knockturne, with her Daughter. She owns a second-hand shop. She's a pretty nice lady- bit rough around the edges, but I don't think she's dark. And from the stories she told me, I figure everyone there is just a bit down on their luck."
Ron and Hermione looked to him, shocked.
Then Neville hastened to say. "Of course, there are Dark wizards that frequent there too, and who else knows what sort of things lurk- vampires, werewolves...I wouldn't go there if I could help it. But...no one deserves to die."
"But...they're evil. They tried to kill us, Neville, or don't you remember anything that happened last year?"
Neville looked down at his plate, frowning a little. "Look, I don't know about you, but I still have nightmares about that battle. I don't fancy looking for trouble if I can help it."
"Holly, say something." Hermione hissed.
Holly did. "Neville, it's okay if you don't want to fight. Frankly, I would prefer not to fight either." Holly said, giving him a soft smile. "There is a time for violence, yes, but there is also a time for talking things out peacefully." She motioned vaguely to the newspaper. "And we all know how the Daily Prophet is. They'll twist their words in any way to make sure the Ministry looks good."
"I agree." Luna said from behind her, looking strangely solemn. The other Gryffindors near them stopped and stared- Luna slipped into a seat between Holly and Ginny, holding a letter clutched tightly in her hands. "Something else happened that night, something that the Ministry doesn't want people to know about."
Luna caught her eye, and in that moment, Holly knew that Luna knew...somehow. She looked to the letter in Luna's hands- it was folded up, she must have just recieved it. She casually placed the letter into Holly's lap, underneath the table.
"Enough with the conspiracy theories, Luna." Hermione said, shaking her head. Ron grinned a little at this.
"Yeah, you make it sound like the Ministry set fire to Knockturne on purpose, not that that would be a bad thing-"
Holly tensed in her seat, and Luna spoke up, her voice flat, and her usually dreamy eyes hard. "Perhaps you don't realise that there are not only adult witch and wizards that live in Knockturne, but families- children, as well. Squibs that cannot defend themselves. Werewolves and vampires that are not legally allowed to carry wands, what with the new laws that were passed last year. Are you condoing the death of innocent children, Ronald?" She asked frostily.
Ron frowned. "Are you saying you support them? You know an awful lot about Knockturne." He said, looking at her suspiciously.
"My Father is the Editor of a newspaper- more than once, I've acted as a reporter. It's my job to know such things. Things that other people try to hide." She said, her voice getting louder. " People like you only just make their lives harder- no wonder they turn to the Dark! They certainly don't get any support from the Light!"
She was standing now, and Holly was in awe of the furious look in her eyes. Merlin. She glanced to her friends- Ginny's jaw was set, and there was a hungry look in her eyes- she was even breathing a little heavy. Holly's lips twitched at this, and before she could glance to the others, the Headmaster spoke from the front of the Great Hall.
"I know some of you are concerned about the goings-on over the weekend, but please, do not be alarmed. Classes will go on, as usual. Miss Lovegood, I ask that you return to your place at the Ravenclaw table."
Luna just gave the Headmaster a long look, and headed for the doors. Ginny followed after her quickly. Holly hesitated for just a moment before she went after them. She found Luna and Ginny snogging in an alcove nearby, though Luna had tears on her face.
"Ahem." Holly cleared her throat, causing the two girls to instantly part.
"Holly!" Ginny exclaimed- "You scared me- I thought you were Umbridge for a second."
Holly gave the two a small smile, and she hugged Luna. "That was a very brave thing you did there." She murmured into the blonde's ear. She pulled away, and Luna spoke quietly.
"From what I hear, you did a brave thing too."
Ginny looked to the two of them, and then blinked in realization. "Holly...were you...there?" She whispered. Holly glanced to the corridor- they were just a bit too far away from the portraits for anyone to hear them, if they were careful and quiet. Could she tell Ginny?
"I was. It was terrible, Ginny. People were getting killed left and right- that fire was no accident. There is no excuse for killing innocent people, no matter what side you're on. Please don't tell Ron and Hermione- they worry enough about me."
"Of course not." Ginny said, reaching over to squeeze her shoulder. "I figure I owe you one...well, more than one, since you saved my hide more than a few times over the years."
Ginny hugged her girlfriend. "I ought to get my things for class. Are you alright?"
"Yes. I'll see you later." Luna said quietly, looking down at her feet. Ginny left them alone. Holly waited a few moments before speaking to Luna again.
"...Thank you for saying the words I was too scared to say." She murmured.
"You are afraid of losing your friendships." Luna said, looking her in the eye. "I know they mean a lot to you. I understand. But there will come a time where you to make a choice."
"I know. I just hope that they make the right choice when that time comes."
"People will believe what they want to believe. Sometimes, they refuse to change, even when the results of bigotry and hatred are staring right at them in the face. But it will happen- soon." She grabbed Holly's hand, squeezing it. "Congratulations, by the way."
Holly stared at her. "...How...were...you there?" She whispered.
"No. But my Father was. He was going to write an article about the celebrations and things. While he might not be able to get the article out to the general public, he certainly will on the underground circuits, and abroad."
Holly bit her lip. "Luna...would you mind getting the word out on something else?" She asked carefully.
"Sure. What would you like people to know?"
Holly fidgeted. "Well...I got an idea last night. Well, I actually got a whole bunch of them. But...I can't do it alone. We need to find people that are good at construction, wardsmithing, and a whole host of other talents- growing food, cooking, you name it. I especcially need people who have experience teaching others- it doesn't matter what their background is- you know me. I want to build a community that can be self sustainable. Do you think you could get the word out?"
"Of course. The idea has merit." Luna said, her gaze serene. "I will go through the proper channels. I have a feeling that Knockturne wasn't the only place attacked, considering that the attack had contained Aurors from a number of different countries."
Holly's eyes widened at this- she hadn't even thought of that.
"So it may be possible that we could have a rather large number of people seeking to leave their homes to go...elsewhere. If we convince them to come to the UK, perhaps we might actually stand a chance. Strength in numbers, after all."
"I'd kiss you, Luna, but I don't think your girlfriend would appreciate it that much."
"I believe I should be the one thanking you. If you and the Professor hadn't been there, it is quite possible my Father could have died, along with everyone else there." She curtseyed rather cutely. "My Lady. Have a good day. Send my reguards to our Lord."
"I will. Thank you, Luna."
"That is quite the fetching brooch." Greengrass said, as she entered the Defense classroom that morning with everyone else. Merrythought was not yet in the classroom, which was unusual for her. She hadn't been in the Great Hall, either.
"Thank you." Holly said with a grin.
"Back off, Greengrass." Ron said, grabbing Holly's arm. Holly frowned at this, yanking her arm out of Ron's grip.
"Ron, I can talk to whoever I want to."
"She's one of them." He muttered, glaring at Greengrass. Greengrass just looked at them placidly, as though he wasn't acting terribly rude.
"Go sit down. Merrythought should be here soon." Holly muttered.
Everyone began to sit down in their seats, getting out their essays that were due that day. Thankfully, Holly had completed hers the week before- as it was, she was a bit behind on her transfiguration homework because of what had occured over the weekend.
Suddenly, the classroom door slammed open, revealing a glowering Merrythought. She wore a black set of robes, and looked quite austere. Her usually tidy white hair was in a slight dissarray, and she looked rather pale.
"All of you, stand up, on either side of the classroom." She barked, going to the front of the classroom. She snatched their essays from them as she passed, dumping them all on her desk. Everyone hurried to do as she asked- even Malfoy looked a bit nervous at how the woman was reacting.
Merrythought seemed to take a deep breath, and turned to face the class. "I suppose all of you saw the newspapers today." She said, her voice flat. "What you saw there is a lie."
Some of the students glanced towards each other at this, and Holly silently steeled herself.
"That fire was no accident, those fire salamanders were just a cover. It said in the paper that over twenty Aurors had been killed, yes. But it did not mention how many others had died. Fifteen from the French Legion of Hitwizards, Seven from the Spanish Brigade, Eight for the Magical Italian Guard. A total of fifty in all. And do you know how many civilians died?"
The room was deathly silent. "One hundred and three. And they're still finding bodies. Of course, that wasn't mentioned, was it?"
Ron looked like he was about to say something, but Merrythought held up her hand. "Shut it, Weasley, I'm not finished. Out of those one hundred and three, the majority of them were under the age of fifteen." There were gasps at this. "Those innocent children were murdered. Then there were the others- the squibs, the elderly, those who were defenseless in such an attack. Those Aurors slaughtered innocent people, and yet, here they are, being praised for saving the day!" She laughed harshly. "Tell that to the people who have lost their family members today! In one night, more people were killed than during the last war against that idiotic Dark Lord! If anyone is evil, it was those men and women!"
Susan was crying now, hiding her face behind her hands, shoulders shaking. Some of the other girls looked a bit teary-eyed too- and a few boys as well.
"Now, tell me, who particpated in the battle last year in Hogsmeade?"
People began to raise their hands, one by one- every single person in the classroom.
"And which side did you fight on?"
No one answered her.
"Fine. Seperate yourselves, since you're so eager to do it! Come on!"
The students began to seperate themselves, the Slytherins off to one side, and everyone else to the other. Holly stared at the Slytherins across the room from her, feeling more than a little bit guilty. Their expressions were defiant-angry. A part of her wanted to join them, to show her support, but she could not.
Merrythought spoke. "Now that bastard is gone, have any of you learned your lesson? Have any of you thought about what is like, to be on the other side?" She pointed to Malfoy. "Malfoy, tell me, why did you fight last year?"
Malfoy answered immeadiately. "My Father was aligned with the Dark Lord. He expected me to support him and my Family- it was my duty, as Heir, to uphold my family honor."
Merrythought pointed to Holly. "And you, Miss Potter?"
Everyone looked to her expectedly- she hesitated for a moment. "Revenge."
Her friends looked shocked at this. Merrythought didn't look terribly suprised.
"Voldemort killed my parents, and killed many others. I wanted to stop him and his followers. I killed Lestrange because she killed my Godfather. I killed Pettigrew because he killed Remus Lupin, who was like an Uncle to me. It was revenge, pure and simple. I won't lie about it."
"...No political motivations whatsoever?"
"No. People can believe whatever they want to believe, as long as they don't hurt others over it, or force their ideas on them." Holly answered immeadiately. Ron and Hermione looked shocked at this. But it was true- niether had ever bothered to ask.
"...At least you're honest, unlike other people I know." Merrythought said, looking at her thoughtfully. Her eyes lingered, for just a moment, on her brooch, before she looked away.
"Perhaps you all thought that the war was over, when Voldemort was defeated, but I'm not going to lie to you. I am here to prepare you for the world out there, and the world right now is a dangerous place. The war is not over. It is very much alive, and stronger than ever. It will only get worse and worse, until...everyone is dead."
"Madam..." Hermione began hesitantly, as though she really wanted to argue that the war was over. "What brought this on? Why are you so upset?"
The woman looked her right in the eyes. "My nephew was one of those that was killed in the attack."
"He was an Auror?" Susan asked hesitantly- everyone else was quiet, looking at the woman in sympathy.
"No. He was a Shopkeep. He was married, and had four children- his eldest actually goes here. Thankfully, the rest of his family was safe, because of some quick thinking by a brave young woman and her husband."
Holly stiffened at this, trying not to react. Penny's Father...she racked her brain, trying to remember if she'd seen Penny that morning.
Merrythought let out a sigh. "I know that those Aurors probably had their own families, their own children. It was a tragic loss of life. What makes it all the worse was that those in Knockturne had been celebrating one of their most holy of holidays...and that was when they had chosen to attack so openly- that was why there were so many casualties. Now...I will dismiss all of you today, to let you think about what you can do in the future to prevent such a thing from happening again."
People began to grab their things, and left the clasroom silently. Holly lingered behind, trying to ignore her friend's looks. Merrythought sat at her desk, but made no move to look at the pile of essays there. Holly approached her desk silently, lacing her fingers together in front of her.
Merrythought raised her eyes to look at her. "Penny is with her Mother and sisters. I do not know at this point if she will return to this damned place." She said, lowering her eyes. "While...I cannot express my thanks properly, I do hope that you and your...friends will think twice about getting involved in a war again." She glanced around the room, and Holly was more than aware that they could be observed somehow.
"There will be no war." Holly said quietly. "That is the last thing anyone needs right now."
"Well...you will have a long, hard road ahead of you, m'Lady, but I do hope you are successful in whatever you decide to do."
As Ron, Holly, and Hermione walked to their following class, Ron shook his head. "I always knew she was one of Them. I bet if she hadn't been too poor to go to Hogwarts, I bet she would've been a dirty rotten Slytherin." He yelled this last part to a passing Slytherin girl, whose steps quickened as she passed, averting her eyes.
Holly knew that look, knew what that was. It reminded her of herself, when she'd been in primary school. She looked at Ron in an entirely new light for the first time- "Ron, shut up." She said, not bothering to keep her voice down. Several of their classmates, who'd been walking alongside them to potions, glanced their way.
"What? It's true. I figure those Aurors knew what they were getting into- they should be honored! And one day, we'll be fighting alongside them!" Ron said with a wide grin.
Next to them, Susan let out a sob, and fell back. Holly turned to look at her, and remembered that Susan's Aunt had died the year before. She had been Head of the DMLE, and had died in the Battle of Hogsmeade. She was a good woman, strict, but fair. Many had been devastated by her death. She had been a shoe-in for Minister of Magic, until she'd died.
"Susan..." Holly murmured, putting her arm around the girl's shoulders. Susan let out another sob, turning away from her.
"Leave me alone."
Holly shook her head, motioning to the others to go on. They only had a few more minutes to get to Potions, but she didn't think Susan could go to class like this. Merrythought's speech had really gotten to her.
Susan looked at her tearfully, and the two girls sat on a bench in the nearest alcove- no one paid attention to them much, since they were all hurrying to class. "I don't think this would ever happened if my Aunt hadn't died." She whispered, griefstriken. "My Aunt would have never authorized such a thing."
"I didn't think she would." Holly said quietly, taking Susan's hand. "Susan...this doesn't sound like it was just our Ministry- it was probably an international effort. After all, the UK, I believe, has the most known Dark witches and wizards in the world- that is why it is more likely to have a new Dark Lord come from here. Maybe they were just trying to prevent that from happening again."
Susan let out another sob. "But to kill innocent children? Holly, I know you can't agree with this- we have to do something." She buried her face in her hands.
Holly watched the girl's shoulder's shake, thoughts racing. "Well...we certainly can. Between the two of us, we're more wealthy than the Malfoys!"
Susan blinked at her, lowering her hands. "...We are, aren't we?"
Holly winked at her. "And you know what they say- money goes a long way. And it doesn't hurt that we're both heroes from the war, your Aunt was the legendary Amelia Bones, and well...I'm me. They'll be more likely to listen to us. Perhaps we can educate ourselves about what's going on. We're in agreement that this needs to be stopped, correct?"
"...Yeah." Susan said, sniffling a little.
"Well, why don't we just talk to the Minister? I doubt Shack would do something like this willingly- he seems like a good guy."
"That doesn't mean anything." Susan said hollowly. "People change."
Holly stared at her, brows furrowing. "Susan?"
The girl stared down at her lap. "That man...he was so eager to get to my Aunt's notes and papers and things. He and his men came to the Manor and practically cleaned out her study not two days after the funeral."
"I'm sorry." Holly murmured.
"You haven't done anything wrong. I just...don't want to talk to that man if I can help it. I just...is there a way we could reach out to all those people in Knockturne, and...maybe educate them somehow?"
Holly looked at Susan for a long moment. "Well, we are in a school- one of the best in the world." She gave the girl a sad smile. "Did you know this school was meant to hold over a thousand students?"
"...Well..I knew there was a lot of room..."
"There are currently 280 students in this school, and the numbers are dropping every year. Classes have been cut from the curriculum, and more and more people are leaving the country to go to school elsewhere. And you know what? Before the attack, there were over 100 children that were Hogwarts age or younger in Knockturne. None of them could afford to come here. I figure if they were able to come here, that maybe...well, they could be safe."
Susan stared at her with wide eyes. Holly hoped she wouldn't ask how she knew that. "...That's a brilliant idea."
Holly grinned, and stood. Susan stood as well, and the two headed towards Potions. "It'll take some money to do it, but I figure we have more cash to blow than anyone else around here, right? And maybe we can convince some of the other wealthy families to do the same."
Susan nodded quickly at this. "I'll talk to some people- I bet Neville will help-"
"Sure. Come on, let's get to potions before Snape fleeces us."
Holly hung about after potions class, and Snape held up a hand as she approached his desk. She stood there, remaining silent until the last of the students walked out- Malfoy waggled his brows at them quite innapropriately before he closed the door behind him.
With a flick of his wand, Snape canceled the observation spells that held over his classroom, and before he finished casting the spell, Holly was already coming around the desk, kissing him hard.
He pulled away from her, his eyes bright. "Merlin- all I could think about during class was bending you over one of these desks, and-"
Holly laughed, hugging him tightly. "I suppose it's allowed- we are newlyweds, after all." She whispered in his ear. "Maybe one of these nights, when you're not about to have another class walk in." She looked at him coyly as she stepped back purposefully. "...I'll see you later, sir." As she turned to head towards the door, he grabbed her wrist, and tugged her into another kiss.
Holly groaned a little in the back of her throat. "Sev...we really...shouldn't..."
He reached upwards, fingering her pendant, kissing her again. He pulled away for a moment, catching his breath. "This shows that you are mine. I wish I could tell the world."
"Me too. We will. As soon as I get out of this godforsaken place."
"I would go with you, but someone needs to look after these kids." The man said, and Holly really did pull away this time.
"I guess I'll just have to put up with conjugal visits on the weekends, then?" She pouted.
"Every night, wench." He swatted her bum. "You go off now- I have another class coming in."
Holly grinned at him, and then it faded a bit. "Are you going to go back and inspect the damage to your place soon?"
"This coming weekend. I hired some men to start clearing the debris, but to not touch any of my things."
"I'd like to come with you." Holly said longingly.
"You will. I'll sneak you out." He waved her off. "See, you've corrupted me! Go off, brat, before I give you a detention."
Holly laughed at this. "Sounds fun. See you later."
A few days later, Holly was just about to head into dinner when she was approached by Professor McGonagall. She smiled as she saw Holly. "Miss Potter, the Headmaster would like to speak with you." She paused, and then came a bit closer. "I believe Kingsley is with him. I thought you ought to be prepared."
Holly's eyes widened at this. "What?" She croaked, thinking the worst.
"Considering the way those two are so eager to have you working for them, well..." The woman smiled, just a bit. "I must say, I wouldn't mind having you here at the school. I know the students would be safer here, with you around."
Holly's eyes widened at the woman's admission. "Professor...do you really think Dumbledore's going to offer me the job?"
McGonagall nodded. "Oh yes. Merrythought's contract was only just for the year, between you and I. To be fair, there aren't many others as suited for the job as you could be."
"But what about Professor Snape?" Holly asked.
McGonagall smiled a bit, looking amused. "Yes, I suppose he is still after that job. Perhaps he could do it, now that the war is over, and the position is no longer cursed. Unfortunately, there aren't as many who are as talented in potions as he, at least in this country."
Holly looked thoughtful at this. "Well, I still haven't decided, one way or another."
"Well, I just wanted to tell you that all of the other staff agree with me- you would be a wonderful addition to the school. You have been a great help to us all, especcially this year- you've even managed to soften Severus up a bit, somehow!"
Holly's eyes widened at this. Had she noticed? "I have?"
McGonagall nodded, leading Holly toward the staircases. "Oh yes. He's been in a much better mood, this term. At first, I thought it was just because the war is over, but he hardly ever complains at all when we praise you in the staff room." She winked at a blushing Holly. "I say that is certainly an improvement."
"Huh...well, then." Holly mumbled, starting up the stairs.
When Holly arrived to the office, she was fairly suprised to see Mrs. Weasley there in addition to Shack, and the Headmaster. Feeling a bit nervous, she entered the large office.
"Headmaster, you wanted to see me? Hullo Mrs. Weasley, Minister."
"Holly dear, please sit. We wanted to speak with you about your future- don't look so nervous, young lady." The Headmaster said, motioning to the chair next to Mrs. Weasley's. Holly sat down, glancing at the woman she'd once thought of like a Mother. All she could think about was if the woman knew what her husband was like during those raids.
Holly blinked. She'd never been offered tea before- it was sort of a silent rule, that only adults were offered tea, and the students were offered those lemon drops. Still, she took the pretty looking tea cup and saucer when it was offered by a House Elf. Her eyes met the Elf's, and he seemed to be trying to- he kept glancing down at the tea. Ah.
Holly held the teacup and saucer, and took a good sniff. "Ah, Lemongrass. Can't get away from those lemons, can you Headmaster?"
The Headmaster chuckled a bit. "Yes, I suppose so. So, Kingsley, would you like to begin?"
The Minister stood, and Holly noted that the man was wearing a rather impressive set of dark purple robes- fit for a king, almost. On anyone else, they would have looked tacky, but he actually looked good. "Holly, we would like to speak to you about your future. As you know, I asked you a few months ago if you would be interested in working at the Ministry with me."
"Yes sir, you did." Holly said, keeping the tea in her hands, but not taking a sip. It was very likely that there was veritaserum in there, and she wasn't taking any chances.
"And I hoped, my girl, that you would be interested in staying on at Hogwarts, perhaps as the Defense Professor." Dumbledore said with a smile.
"...Wow...you two sure know how to spoil a girl." Holly said with a grin. "Not many other people get these sorts of offers, do they?"
"Too true- that is why the Headmaster and I thought we could come to a compromise. You can work here at the school, and work at the Ministry- mostly at social functions, fundraisers, and public affairs, boosting the morale of the employees and regaining a positive image for the Ministry. Even if the war is over, there is still much more work to be done. We thought, perhaps, if you were working both with the Ministry and Hogwarts, we could prevent them splitting again, like Fudge and his sycophants. We are stronger, united, after all."
Holly stared at the Minister. She gave him a small smile. "Of course- the idea has some merit. But I still have some time to think it over, don't I?"
Mrs. Weasley spoke up. "Too true. Holly, there is also something else you need to think about. You may be the Girl-Who-Lived, but you are also a symbol to young ladies everywhere, and also the last of your line. Have...you ever considered...dating?"
Holly's eyes widened at this. Mrs. Weasley kept talking.
"It's just, you've never dated dear, and people will start to talk. It's different for men, they can remain single all their lives-" She motioned vaguely to both Shack and the Headmaster, who were both lifelong bachelors- "But women, especcially with your...status, are expected to marry. Perhaps if you marry, your husband could help you- respresent your interests, yes? And eventually, you'll want children, right?"
"I suppose." Holly said, looking down, thinking fast. "But I'm afraid I intimidate most people. And most of the guys I know just treat me like one of them."
"Well, that is why I came up with an idea!" Mrs. Weasley said cheerfully. "You and Charlie got along famously at the wedding, didn't you? And he's such a good boy, and he would take care of you! On Charlie's behalf, Arthur and I drew up a contract for the two of you. It is up to you whether you accept it or not, dear, but I really do think he could help you."
Holly's jaw was dropped. "...Charlie?" She croaked. "I- he's a nice guy, sure, but...I barely know him. And he lives in Romania!"
"Yes, and if you married, he could come back home." Mrs. Weasley said, looking very happy about this.
"...Doesn't he have a say?" Holly asked quietly. "Does he even know, yet?"
"We wrote him today. And you're such a pretty girl, I'm sure he wouldn't mind. I know he's a little bit older than you, but with Percy...gone, and the twins doing who knows what...and of course, Ronnie is dating Hermione, well...I just thought you'd want to be a part of the family, dear."
Holly stared at her, and then looked to the Headmaster and Shack. Both men were smiling, but the expression did not reach their eyes. This was crazy!
"Well...perhaps I should write Charlie myself, or better yet, speak with him." Holly said quietly.
"Well, we asked for him to come home this weekend, so maybe you can do it then? A first date, perhaps, to get to know one another properly?" Molly asked with a smile.
"...Sure." Holly said, looking down. Merlin...this was madness. Charlie surely wouldn't want to get hitched with her- she could have sworn he was dating the bloke he'd brought along to the wedding.
She sighed, staring into her tea.
"Holly, don't you want your tea?" The Headmaster asked jovially.
"I'm sorry, sir. I just...have a lot to think about." She looked to the Minister, and then to Molly. "I'll have to think for a bit longer. I'm afraid I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment."
"It is quite alright. Take the time you need. Here, have a biscuit. Molly made them!" The Headmaster handed her a biscuit as she stood. "And have a good night, alright dear?"
"Yes sir." Holly murmured. As she walked out of the office, she glanced at the biscuit in her hand.
Severus scowled at the cauldron before him, a grave expression on his face. "Yes, there was something in the biscuit." They were in the man's private lab, and it was in the middle of the night. Winky had already come and gone, and told them that they had, in fact, slipped a compulsion potion into Holly's tea.
"Well? What is it?" Holly asked.
Severus was frowning deeply, looking furious. "A love potion." He said, his voice dark. "Tied to Charlie Weasley."
"Merlin! We need to write him-"
"You will not contact him, not without me. If they dare to do such things with you, they may do the same on him. I will meet with him."
"...Are you going to tell him?" Holly asked quietly.
"Yes. I'll force him to make a vow of silence, if I have to, but he must know that you cannot marry him or anyone else." He paused. "I also think that we should contact Bill and Fleur."
Holly sighed, flopping back on the sofa that was in the man's lab. "If you want to. I've already got Luna spreading the word through the Quibbler, and Susan is contacting some people-" At the man's alarmed look, Holly hastened to explain.
"Susan doesn't know about us or anything, but she does sympathize with those that were hurt in the attack. She wants to help. She knows a fair amount of people of influence, because of her Aunt, and she has a good amount of money too. We...um...sort of started a petition to change things around at the school. We're going to present it to the next Hogwarts Board Meeting. And if they don't want to change things, well, I guess we'll just have to take my ideas somewhere else."
The man shook his head, sitting down next to Holly. "You know, you should tell me these things before you go off and do them. I'll let some of our...associates know that there is a petition going around. So...what's on this petition anyways?"
On Friday afternoon, Holly glanced at the clock in the library. She was in the middle of studying with Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Neville. Charlie was supposed to be arriving within the hour, to take her out. But she had no intention of staying in Hogsmeade, that was certain. She and Severus needed to go to Knockturne, if only for the night, to check out the damage and speak with some people. Mrs. Weasley had already written Ginny and Ron about the news, and her friends were actually kind of excited for her. It only made her feel bad.
"See, if you start dating Charlie, we'll all be dating somebody!" Hermione had said happily when they had all found out.
Holly hated it. "Well, I should go get ready. Charlie will be here soon." She said quietly.
Ginny spoke up. "You need help getting ready?" Holly hesitated for a moment, but Ginny seemed to be saying something else.
"Yes- thanks Ginny, that would be great. I've never gone a date before, I have no clue what to wear." She said, grabbing Ginny's arm. It was true, technically she'd never been on a date before.
Hermione looked up. "Do you want me to come too?"
Ginny laughed a bit, waving it off. "Nah, I've got this. You can handle my brother and Neville- those two are hopeless at studying without you." Ron groaned a bit at this, burying his head in his arms.
"I was kind of hoping to go flying." He mumbled.
Ginny and Holly packed up their things quickly, and headed for Holly's rooms. They didn't say much to each other as they walked, but Holly could sense that Ginny had something on her mind. They both greeted and waved to students as they passed- Ginny was rather popular too. Holly thought it was quite likely she would be Head Girl next year, if her grades were good enough.
Once Holly had closed the door behind them, Ginny went straight to her chest of drawers. "You and I both know that you aren't going to marry Charlie." Ginny said, not looking her way.
Holly stared at her. Ginny glanced over her shoulder, giving her a grin that reminded her of the twins. "Luna told me. Look, Holly, I figure you have a right to do whatever you want. You risked your life for all of us, time and time again. If you want to pop out lots of Snape babies and take over the world, well, I'll be right behind you." She turned back to the drawers. "And Charlie is super gay. There is no way he's going to agree to this- Mum must have guilted him into coming to see you tonight. I wrote Bill and Fleur, and they think something fishy is going on- they know about Charlie too. Oh, and the twins- they definitely know something is up, but they want to talk to you in person about that." Ginny paused, holding up a blouse. "Maybe you and Char could stop by their shop on your 'date'."
"...When are you going to tell your Mum that you're with Luna?" Holly asked, starting to undress. She'd already contacted Bill and Fleur, and the twins. At least she and Ginny were thinking along the same lines.
"I'm thinking after I'm finished with Hogwarts- that way, if they kick me out, I don't have to worry about paying tuition on my own." Ginny paused. "Maybe it's a good thing that Charlie's come home for a bit. Something's going on, isn't there?"
"Yeah." Holly said quietly. She took the proffered skirt from Ginny- a dark blue circle skirt that was gathered rather tightly around the band. She pulled it on- it was a rather full looking skirt. They paired it with a flowery blue blouse, and Holly had tied her brooch on with a thick white ribbon underneath her shirt collar.
Ginny handed her white stockings, and transfigured her usual black flats into white mary-janes. Holly stared at them, and looked to Ginny, who only grinned. "What? I think you'll cute. You wear too much black, anyways."
Holly pulled on the stockings and shoes, while Ginny did her hair. As they finished, Holly looked at her reflection. "I look far too nice for the place I want to go tonight..." She mumbled, and went through her clothes. She fished out her apron, and pulled it on, and then found a blue striped kercheif, and put it over her braided hair. She pulled on her jacket (a black one she'd gotten from the muggle world), and looked at her outfit approvingly.
"You look like my Mother."
Holly turned and stared at Ginny, who looked unrepentant.
"And I mean that in the best way possible- it's the apron. Sorry."
"Well, this isn't going to be a date, and I will be certain to make that clear to Charlie." Holly started stuffing things in her jacket pockets, apron pockets, and skirt pockets. Shrunken books, her wand, money, her cloak, all that. Ginny watched on, eyebrows raised.
"Yes. I should get going. I'll be back really late tonight, so...I'll see you in the morning." Holly quickly kissed Ginny's cheek, making the girl blush. "Thank you for the help."
"...Put some makeup on, at least!" Ginny called after her when she turned to head out the door.
Holly was dabbing a bit of lipgloss on with her finger as she approached the foyer. More than one person glanced her way curiously as she passed. She didn't pay much mind to them, feeling a bit nervous about this...date.
She entered the foyer, and stopped short as she saw Charlie waiting for her. He was wearing a heavy leather trenchcoat, with boots and other leather gear. His bright red hair was covered in a black beanie cap, and snow was dusted on his shoulders and boots.
He glanced towards her, and his expression changed. "...Oh...Holly. Hi." He sounded more...reticient than she'd ever seen him before. She could feel Severus squeezing her shoulder from behind, letting her know he was there.
"Shall we?" Holly asked, holding out her gloved hand to him. Charlie took her arm, smiling a bit, and the two walked out. She looked upwards, watching the snow fall silently to the ground.
"First snow of the season." She murmured.
"...Are you okay?" Holly asked, as they headed for the gates.
"...I'm just feeling...strange, is all. I'm sorry...maybe it's from travelling. I just arrived to the UK this morning...the time difference is a bit weird for me. So...um, where to first? Zonko's?"
Holly tightened her grip on his arm as they passed the gates. "Nope. Hold on tight!" And then they apparated away. Not a moment later, Severus followed, his own apparation as quiet as the breeze.
The three reaappeared in an alleyway- Charlie staggered back a little. "Warn a guy next time you do that!"
Holly grinned. "Sorry. I wanted it to be a suprise."
He looked at her consideringly. "Not many people can do side-apparition."
"Well, I can." Holly shrugged. "I've never tried more than one person, but I'd be a little nervous about trying." She led him out of the alleyway. He looked around, and seemed to recognize it.
"We're going to Diagon?"
"Sort of. There's a few places I've got in mind. I-I hope you don't mind?"
"No, not at all."
"Good. Now, I thought we might go see the twins first- I know you haven't seen them since the wedding, so-"
Charlie brightened at this. "Yeah, that sounds great!"
"Good. Then I figured we could have dinner, and then go for a bit of a walk." They entered the Leaky Cauldron, which was fairly busy for the dinner rush. They weren't noticed- Holly's kercheif covered her face, partially.
Holly looked around Diagon, and found it actually rather more crowded than she had expected...a lot of unfamiliar faces. Had Luna and her Father spread the word that quickly? There were certainly a lot of foreign accents here...there were groups of people, all carrying bags and packs, looking around excitedly, pointing at the buildings and things.
Charlie's hand went to his head, and he frowned a little.
"You okay, Charlie?"
"...Yeah." Charlie said. "Let's go see the twins."
The two headed towards the twin's shop. It stood out easily on the street, with its lime green paint and lit up signs. They went into the shop- it was empty. Huh. She'd never seen it this empty before.
"Hello?" Holly called out, grinning. "Anyone here?"
The twins both poked their heads out from the back room, grinning widely. "Charlie! Holly! Just the people we wanted to see! We were about to close up."
The twins had already known they were coming- Holly had written them the day before, not that Charlie knew this. Fred and George were soon taking their jackets and setting them up in their back room, lovingly dubbed 'the workshop'.
"Here- we swear it hasn't been pranked!" Fred said, handing tea to both Holly and Charlie. Holly did not drink hers, while Charlie downed his.
He suddenly choked and gasped, dropping his mug to the floor as he clutched his throat. He hacked a bit more, and started to hold his head.
"...Merlin..." Charlie groaned. "What the..." He straightened up, and saw them all looking at him carefully. He suddenly paled, and his face crumpled. "What the hell is going on?"
"What happened, Charlie?" Holly asked gently.
"...I got this letter from Mum, begging me to come home. She does it every so often. She sent me some fudge, and after I ate it..." He paled. "Fuck..."
"Charlie?" Fred asked worriedly.
Charlie scowled. "I broke up with Daniel, quit my job, and I was soon daydreaming about Holly here- what the hell is going on!?" He scowled at Holly.
"They tried to do it to me too, but fortunately, I had some warning." Holly said quietly. "Sorry Charlie, but I don't think I'm your type."
Charlie smiled at this, still looking a bit sad. "So..why would my Mum be crazy enough to do this? I knew she wanted me to come home, but- this is crazy, even for her!"
"She and your Father apparently wrote a marriage contract for the two of us. I'm lucky that I'm of age, I suppose, or I wouldn't have a choice about accepting it or not." She paused. "I think this was all more about political influence and...stuff like that, than us actually liking one another."
"But...I was neutral in the war. I wasn't even in the country." Charlie said cautiously. "Hell, just this past week, there was some pretty crazy rumors going around..."
"The attack in Knockturne?" Holly asked carefully.
"Yeah, and the Ministry's involvement in the attacks in Romania, Bulgaria, and Germany. There was probably more, but I haven't heard about them."
They all stared at Charlie with wide eyes.
"...Is this true?" Holly whispered. "That they are all attacking Dark-aligned families abroad too?" She hadn't heard any confirmations yet, and she silently cursed at being stuck at school. If she'd been home, she would have undoubtedly heard about this already.
"Yeah." Charlie said, looking down. "And from what I gather, the UK had the worst of it. Why the hell would I want to come back here?" He fidgeted a little in his seat. "Alright...maybe there was another reason...for...me leaving. Besides the whole...being gay thing, and wanting to get away from Mum. I cast Dark magic pretty regularly, especcially in my line of work. Hell, most of the guys I work with are the same." He tugged off his beanie. "No wonder they all looked at me so strangely when I up and quit like that."
"...Could you still go back?" Holly asked.
"...Maybe, but...I dunno. Fuck, that really messed things up for me. Holly, I'm sorry, but this...ah, marriage thing is absolutely mad. We can't get married."
"Good, because she's already married." Severus said, taking off his invisiblity spell. All three Weasley boys grabbed their wands, but Severus was too fast for them- all three were disarmed in less that three seconds.
They all looked wide eyed at the Professor, and then at Holly. Holly just smiled, and stood. "I guess I have my own share of secrets as well." She held out her hand to him. "Charlie, meet my husband."
Charlie stared at the two of them in shock, and the twins looked floored. "You and Snape?" George sounded like his voice was choked. "...When did this happen?"
"Last weekend." Holly said, waiting for it all to click.
"Oh fuck!" Fred cried,, stumbling backwards into his work table. "Y-you're Lord and Lady Prince!"
Charlie took a step back. "...No way...you two are the only reason Knockturne is still standing?"
"Well...not the only reason. There were a lot of other people fighting too." Holly said with a little grin. Wow- word spread quickly. She'd have to thank Luna and her Father.
Severus tapped his wrist, and Holly gasped. "Oh, right! We've got to keep going- we'll be going to Gringott's next, to see Bill and Fleur. They're waiting for us."
Holly hugged Fleur and Bill tightly, and Charlie soon followed. The twins were closing up their shop for the night, and would be meeting up with them for dinner. They stood in a private office they'd gotten for the meeting. The Goblins were 'officially' neutral, but they certainly frowned on anything that damaged property and lost money for them. Like large scale attacks.
Two Goblins stood at the door, watching them, but said nothing.
"Merde! Marriage agrees with you, M'Lady." Fleur said, kissing Holly's cheeks. Holly's jaw dropped at this.
"How did you know? We haven't told you guys yet." She hissed.
Fleur only smiled at this. "We were there that night, but in disguise. You two were truly a sight to behold. Is your husband around?"
Holly glanced to the corner, as did the two Goblins- they all seemed to know Snape was there. Merlin, her luck...was Bill and Fleur dark too?
"Yeah. He'll join us for dinner. We...ah, have some um...financial business to attend to first- I hope you lot aren't too hungry."
"Some date you are." Charlie said with a small grin. Bill clapped him on the shoulder.
"Be fair to the poor girl, I don't think she's ever been on a date before. Old Snape didn't even bother with that, from what I hear."
Holly blushed at this.
About an hour later, Holly and Charlie left the bank with Fleur and Bill, Snape silently following them. Bill quietly explained to them that many people were arriving from other countries this past week- the bank was doing a booming business- they'd opened a record number of accounts that week. According to Fleur, many were refugees from Dark-Aligned families.
They had come to the UK, because that was the only place that had been attacked, and it was still standing. The other places that had been attacked had all been razed to the ground, with large numbers of casualties, but still smaller than the UK. From what the couple gathered, all of the attacks had occured on Samhain, while they were all celebrating the holiday- no warning, nothing. Nothing in the papers.
Bill guessed that the ICW was certainly involved in this, and this was a global-wide thing. They didn't know any more than that, at this point.
Holly called it genocide. Even Voldemort hadn't caused this widescale of damage, during both wars. They still didn't know the exact numbers, but nearly every country had participated in this attack. Durmstrang was even getting threats to be closed, or change their curriculum. Fleur said that Viktor had written her, and she told them that Viktor would be coming to the country as soon as he could- not to stay, but to meet with her and the Professor.
They all sat down to dinner in the pub that Holly had played poker in the previous week. People stopped and stared as they passed- Severus had taken off his invisiblity spell when they had entered Knockturne.
While they ate, people spoke to them about what was going on. Dozens of families had arrived already, and there would be more following soon enough. The wealthier elite were already looking to purchase property in Knockturne- it would definitely be on the cheap, because of the damage.
That was another thing. With winter fast approaching, and all the refugees, people were terribly worried that there wouldn't be room. Holly took out a large piece of paper with a listing of her properties.
"Fluer, Bill, I want you two to be in charge of this. This is a listing of all the properties we own-" She motioned to herself and Severus. "I've got cottages scattered around the country. None of them are damaged, and are ready to be moved in now. I want you two to figure out how to put families in those homes. Some of them are big enough for multiple families, especcially the farmland. I'd say Grimmauld Place too, but I think the Order still has access to it, so let's keep that out of the picture for now."
The couple looked over the list silently. "What about all the properties here in Knockturne, Hogsmeade and Diagon?"
"I want all the buildings here in Knockturne to be rebuilt from the ground up. I need to hire people to do this-"
"You be needing workers, ya?" A man asked suddenly from nearby, his accent strange. It was clear he'd been listening in. Holly looked over to see several men at the bar, looking right at them. Holly squirmed in her seat a little.
Severus spoke up. "Yes. We need quite a few people- these properties need to be rebuilt and repaired before winter really sets in, and right now, I don't think there's enough room for everyone, with the way it is. Spread the word, if you like, the more the merrier."
Holly spoke up, turning to the group. "I also had a fantastic idea." She grinned. "Expansion runes. I don't know that much about runes, but I have heard of those."
Bill gasped, eyes lighting up. "Merlin, that would be fantastic! It'd be terribly tricky work, but I know just the guys for that sort of thing. It would be very handy if we could fold space- I've heard of people adding entire floors to buildings that way."
"Well, it's going to have to be permanent." She tapped one building. "We just bought that abandoned warehouse down at the end of the Alley. As it's all the way down at the end, it's nearest to the edge of the wards that surround Knockturne and Diagon. Is it at all possible to open an entrance to the muggle world there?"
The group stared at her.
"...Are you saying...like...build another Leaky Cauldron?" Charlie breathed.
"Sort of. Instead of a pub, it'll be an apartment building with a school on the lower levels. If Hogwarts won't bother to educate kids properly, then we'll do it ourselves. And if they agree to the changes I propose at the Board Meeting next week, we can make it a primary school."
They all stared at her, still.
"Fucking hell, you're brilliant." Snape breathed, and kissed her hard. The twins started to make faces at this, while the people nearby started whistling at them.
"Still, it's going to be a tricky bit of magic." Bill said, making the two part. "But I think my guys could handle it. We've worked on all sorts of wards, after all. So...the question is, can we afford it?"
Holly glanced to Severus, who silently slid another piece of paper across the table at them. "This is a list of confirmed financial supporters. I believe it will only grow. Also, with the small sum we could make from renting out all those properties, we should be okay. If I must, I can sell off the rights to the potions I invented, and make a hefty sum."
"...Severus, you can't..." Holly whispered.
"Nonsense. I have many more potions that I haven't yet revealed to the public yet. There are many more where that came from." He tapped his head.
"What bothers me is that there will be so many Dark-Aligned in one place." Charlie spoke quietly. "What if they attack again? There would be even more casualties- if that...apartment building caught fire-"
"We'll take the proper precautions. Every property in Knockturne will be warded off from fire and damages...The reason why I want another entrance to be opened for Knockturne is...well, I want to close off the two Alleys from one another, even putting wards up that could protect us from the skies."
Everyone thought that over for a moment.
"Is that even possible?"
"I think so. Anyways, I have another idea." Holly grinned. "Tunnels. Underneath the ground. Connecting all the buildings underneath the street, leading past the wards, and into the muggle world, and into Diagon. And I figured we could buy the muggle buildings by that entrance too, if we can afford it- that will give us a bit more protection, and a way out in case of emergency."
"Bloody brill- we could have an entrance in our shop!" Fred said with a grin.
"Exactly. And I figured that we could do the same for the other properties I own in Diagon, the ones that I know are owned by people we can trust. We can have...employees in the shops that could also guard the entrances, and put protections on those buildings too. I figured this would help if we were attacked."
Severus shook his head. "If you ever showed this sort of ingenuity in your potions class, you'd be making a much better grade."
Bill laughed aloud at this. "You're still failing his class?"
Holly scowled at Bill. "Shut up. I've never been all that good in potions...I still don't know how I ended up passing my Potions OWL."
Snape smirked a little. "Dumbledore practically begged me to allow you into my class. I rather enjoyed that."
The others laughed at this.
As they left the pub, more than one person bowed, or shook their hands- the crowd parted, watching them with wide eyes- even the refugees were quickly realising who they were. Charlie looked more than a little lost, trailing behind Holly and Severus, walking alongside his brother. "Is it always like this?" He asked quietly.
"No." Bill said with a small smile. "The thing is..I'm not a Dark wizard, but I still support Holly and Sev wholeheartedly. I think they really have what it takes to make a difference. Look at everyone here. Look at their faces. Don't you see that hope? Holly might be a symbol for the Light, but the two of them definitely mean something to the Dark as well. I don't think that's ever happened before. If anyone can stop the fighting between the Light and the Dark, well...they can."
"I sure hope so." Charlie murmured.
"So...are you sticking around, or are you going back to Romania?"
Charlie sighed, looking up at the night sky. "I don't know. I mean...the way I left was just so...I'm never going to forgive Mum for doing that. I can't go back."
"Well...you can help us. And there is a plus in all this, little brother..." Bill said, wrapping his arm around Charlie's shoulders. "You can be the alibi when Holly needs to get away from Hogwarts. As long as you two play nice until she gets out of Hogwarts, no one will ever know what's really going on. You never know...you could find some great guy here." Bill said, motioning to some men that were hanging around on one of the street corners, talking in Bulgarian. The street was crowded with people, barely enough room to walk around- but there was a sort of excitement in the air that was certainly palpable.
Charlie just smiled a little. "I can't live with Mum and Dad again- it'll drive me mad. You think I could rent a flat out?"
"Eh, talk to Holly and Snape about that- I hear they've got plenty of places." Bill winked at him.
Charlie ended up staying in the twin's flat for the night, and Bill and Fleur went back to their cottage. Holly walked hand in hand with Severus, to her flat. The group had taken a look at Snape's building. It would have to be completely rebuilt. Thankfully, the lab in the cellar hadn't been damaged too horribly, and the protective spells around his bookcases managed to save...most of his books, but everything else was pretty much gone. Thankfully, most of his rarest supplies and books had been stored in his vault.
After their meeting with the Goblins, they had decided to keep their vaults seperate for now, but all of the accounts had been combined- making them one of the most richest couples in the UK. The Goblins were now aware of their marriage, officially, and recognized them as such. Severus didn't own many properties, most of it had been sold off long before he'd been born.
He only owned his flat, and Prince Manor, which had been empty for over a hundred years- according to Severus, he'd only visited the once, and that was more than enough. It was not a welcoming home- completely devoid of furniture, and so...cold looking. He did not envision himself living there. But he would open the Manor to anyone who wanted to live there. It certainly had strong enough wards, and plenty of land.
As they approached her building, a familiar face ran towards them, throwing herself at Holly, hugging her tightly. "Holly! Merlin, I can't believe you're really here-" Penny pulled away, smiling, and looked to the Professor. "And married to Professor Snape!"
Holly and Severus exchanged a look, and then spotted the girl's Mother not too far away. "Penny! Get back here, you and your sisters have stayed up long enough!"
"I'll be right there, Mum!" Penny yelled back, and hugged Holly again. "It's good to see you- did...did you hear what happened? Auntie said she spoke to you."
"Yes, she did. I'm sorry for your loss." Holly said quietly.
"...It's okay. I've still got Mum and my sisters...there's lots of other people around here who lost more than that. We've got new neighbors- they're these really loud people with funny accents- but they make yummy food, so it's okay. They're talking about opening a restaruant, if they can get the money together."
Holly smiled at Penny. "So...you and your family are okay?"
"...Yeah." Penny looked down. "I don't think I'll be coming back to Hogwarts."
"What?" Holly gasped, though Severus didn't look too surprised.
"We just can't afford it. Anyways, I don't want to leave my sisters behind...and Mum needs someone to help her out. She can't do it on her own. Even if we had the money, I don't want to leave them." Penny glanced back towards her family, which were clearly waiting on Penny so they could go inside. "So...what are you two doing here?"
"Checking the damage on my building. Unfortunately, it will have to be rebuilt completely." Snape said with a sigh. He knelt down, so that he could look at Penny properly.
"Miss Merrythought, if you and your family need any assistance, please don't hesitate to ask. You are one of my Slytherins, and I always take care of my Slytherins, yes?"
Penny smiled at this, but her heart wasn't really in it. "Thank you sir...I'm going to miss Angela."
"You could still write each other." Holly said. "And you can still learn magic, you know. You have a wand, you have your books, and I'm sure there's somebody around here that would be willing to teach you a few tricks..."
"But they're not you." Penny mumbled, looking sad.
"Well, tell you what, I'll be around here for Yule- I'll teach you a few things when I come back. And when I finish up at Hogwarts, I'll be around all the time. How does that sound?"
Penny hugged Holly again, and then Severus, who looked a bit awkward at this. She pulled away. "Thank you. I-I should get back to my Mum." And she ran off.
Holly and Severus watched her go, and Severus straightened up, an odd look on his face. "...A child has never hugged me before. That was...odd."
Holly hid a smile at this. "You just intimidate them, is all." She wound her fingers in between his. "Come on, let's go up. We don't have much time before I have to return to the school."
Holly returned to Hogwarts later that night with Severus, brimming with ideas. Even on their way out of Knockturne, they met many of the refugees, and she learned that Luna had gotten the word out- many people were looking for places to stay, and for work. For now, they needed to concentrate on expanding enough to make more room for people, and allocating property for everyone.
She knew there was a lot of work to be done, and it frustrated her terribly that she was stuck at Hogwarts while all of this was going on. But as she headed towards her rooms, she stopped short as she saw Malfoy waiting for her.
He motioned for her to follow him. She looked to her bedroom door tiredly- she really wanted to get some sleep. But she followed him down to the dungeons, towards the Slytherin common room. She then realised that she may actually get to talk to the Slytherins about the attacks, finally, and see what they thought of it all.
He allowed her entrance to the common room, where it seemed like everyone was waiting for her. Every single Slytherin was gathered there, from her year-mates to all the first years. They all stood as she was led to the center of the room.
Malfoy silently gestured to Zabini, who took out his wand, as did Greengrass and Nott. In unison, the three disabled the observation charms in the common room.
"Now we can speak freely, if only for a little while." Malfoy said, raising his chin. "Lady Prince has just returned from Knockturne. While we have all gotten letters from our families, describing it, perhaps you can tell us in your own words."
It was then that Holly realised that these students were trapped just as much as her. She doubted they would be able to go to Knockturne, not if they were being watched enough for spying spells to be cast in their common room.
"There is still a great deal of damage." Holly said quietly, opening her jacket. "But the mood is...hopeful. While the debris has been cleared, there are many shops still destroyed, as well as homes. I am not sure if you are all aware of this, but there are refugees coming in from other countries. Apparently there were attacks abroad as well, and now they are all coming here, since they have no other place that can welcome them."
Zabini spoke. "My Mother told me. We have some friends and family staying with us-" He motioned to some of the other Slytherins. "Those of us who have the space, all have guests staying in our homes, or will, by the next couple of weeks. With magic, everyone can pack up rather quickly, and they don't want to stick around."
Holly's eyes widened at this. "Do you think we could get an estimate on how many people have already come here? And how many more we expect?"
Greengrass spoke. "We have people coming in by international portkeys, apparition, flying, even muggle transportation. There are many that have lost everything they have- their homes, their businesses, their entire families..." She took a steadying breath. "Many of our family friends and relatives were lucky- they were able to hide behind the protection of their wards, just long enough for them and their families to escape. But those who don't have the luxury of wards, well..."
Malfoy spoke. "Mother believes that we have approximately 500 people that came in this week, so far. If this keeps up, we're not going to have room for them all."
"Nonsense." Holly said with a grin. "I own quite a few properties, and I plan on letting them out to people in exchange for working for me. They were sitting empty anyways. I'm sure a fair few of you have already thought to do the same, if you have the property." Some nodded at this.
"What I want is a self-sustaining community. I spent the evening fleshing out my ideas with some people in Knockturne, and hopefully the word will spread."
She took off her jacket, and was offered a seat on a sofa. People gathered around her as she explained what she wanted to do in Knockturne. The others kept offering out ideas, and some people even started sketching things out- Holly was quite glad that she'd talked to them all.
It was nearly midnight before she quieted. Only the seventh years remained, although a few sleepy younger students were sleeping in various places around the common room.
Malfoy was sitting at one side, while Zabini was on the other. The others were on the sofa opposite her, and in the armchairs.
"These plans are...amazing. We could house thousands of people, potentially." Zabini said, holding up the sketches all the students had drawn out.
"We could. We could make a city." Holly said with a grin. "Knockturne City."
"...We could make an army too." Malfoy said quietly.
Holly shook her head. "You didn't see what I saw, Malfoy. These people were in no shape to fight. And I don't want them to. There's a lot of families that came here to get away from the fighting. If they wanted to fight back, they could have stayed home. It is our responsibility to keep them safe."
"..True. This is going to be terribly expensive." Greengrass said, practical as ever.
"Well, in the long run, this could make us a lot of money." Holly said with a small smile. "Think about it this way. It sounds kind of bad, but all these refugees coming in could be a very strong workforce. They could rejuvinate our economy- I've heard some are already seeking to purchase property, open their own shops and things. I figure...we give them a place to stay while they settle in, get their feet on the ground properly. In return, they can work for us."
Bulstrode spoke up. "Everyone?" She asked, frowning a little.
"Everyone, and I mean it. I don't care if they're a squib, or a werewolf, a halfblood, or even a muggleborn. If they can work, I don't care. They all need our help, and I'm going to give it to them. There's plenty of work to be done, and we've got the space, at least, outside Knockturne. Potentially, I want Knockturne to be a proper town, a city that can stand on its own. We'll have the farms, our own suppliers- all from the properties that are scattered all over the UK. But they will be most protected in Knockturne. I heard a chant once, and I was a bit too shy to say it during the war, but I'm not now."
She took a deep breath, knowing she had their attention. "The People United Will Never Be Defeated." She looked at all of them carefully. "All of you are going to have to get rid of your bigotry and prejudice. It doesn't belong here, and it's not helping anyone. With this many people involved, we all need to work together. There's too much at stake for it to fall apart because of petty bickering. Do you understand?"
There were nods at this.
"Good. Now, there is a Hogwarts Board Meeting next week. Malfoy and I will be presenting a petition to the Board that could possibly present some changes to the school in the future. I doubt they will listen to what we have to say, but we have to try. If they refuse to take our plan, we will use those plans and make our own school."
"A Dark Arts school..." Greengrass breathed, and the others looked very excited at this. Malfoy did not react one way or the other. He knew what the changes were.
Holly held up her hands. "Not just a Dark Arts school. Yes, it would be some of what could be taught there, but there will be other things as well- practical things, about how to make things with your hands, about how to cook-" At their stricken looks, she glared. "Not everyone can afford a House Elf, you know." She paused, trying to calm herself down. "Art, Music, science, mathematics- things that aren't taught here..." She yawned, covering her mouth absently. "It's late. I should really be getting to bed."
She stood up, and so did the others. Holly was a bit unnerved with the way that they looked at her.
Greengrass spoke quietly, lowering her eyes. "M'Lady, I wanted to say...thank you for helping us and everyone else. You could have run away during that attack, hidden yourself easily, but you stayed and fought. If you had been caught, you would have surely been found out. So...thank you."
She watched the girl bow her head a bit. It was then that she noticed that Greengrass wore a small necklace with a jet pendant. Looking around, she saw that some of the others wore something similar, in various styles and shapes, almost unnoticeable if you weren't looking for it. Chokers, necklaces, brooches, pins- her bonding pendant had even become a symbol, somehow, and she didn't know what to think of that.
Malfoy spoke, coming to her side. "Mother is planning a large gathering in the Manor, at Yule. We would like for you and Lord Prince to be there. It seems as though the invite list grows larger and larger, but it will be a gathering of the most powerful and elite Dark-Aligned families in the world. While we all have our own strengths, we must confess that you and your husband have a gift that not many are able to harness."
Holly raised her brows at this.
Malfoy looked her straight in the eye. "I'm ashamed to admit that I am envious of your skills as a leader. You come up with plans and ideas, even whilst in the thick of danger. Your selfless bravery and courage is only something a Gryffindor could pull off, but your sneakiness and well thought out plans are something only a Slytherin could admire. Severus has been a leader in the community for many years, but with you at his side, you will both be unstoppable."
He knelt before her. "My Lady. I would be honored to serve you."
The others soon followed, and Holly found herself floored. "...Please..don't." She whispered, taking a hesitant step back. "I'm not...like...him."
Malfoy's face turned up. "Why do you think we would be so willing to follow you?" He asked quietly. When had he become so serious? He hated her, right?
"Please stand." She said, trying to keep calm. They all stood, and she grasped her hands tightly. "You bow before no one. Not you, not any one else. While I...may be a leader, of sorts, I will not be that kind of a leader. I expect all of you to have your ideas, your own plans. I expect all of you to challenge my own plans, to make them into even better ones. If you bow to me in such a way...I...I don't want you to fear me, or my h-husband. While we may be powerful, neither of us want to hurt anyone. If you are to help us, help us to help others- not because you think it would please us. If you must serve, stand by our side, not behind us, or beneath us."
They all stared at her strangely.
"You truly are one of a kind, princess." Malfoy said with a smirk, his eyes amused. "You've come a long way from the tomboy I knew back in first year." Now he sounded a bit more like himself.
"Well, you were kind of a prat back then too. And don't call me Princess." Holly said with a grin.
The morning of the Board Meeting, Holly was feeling a little nervous. In the previous meeting, neither she or Malfoy had been able to get a word in, so she hoped to do so this time. She was dressed a bit more 'grown up' as Severus had called it. While he was a big fan of her cute homemade circle skirts and things, they both agreed that there was a time for something a bit different.
Holly was wearing full skirts that fell all the way to the floor, in a dark red color, a reminder of her Gryffindor roots. She paired it with a long sleeved fitted white shirt with an open neckline that revealed just the tiniest bit of clevage. Over it, she'd put on a fitted jacket to match the skirts, something that acentuated her tiny, but lithe figure. Of course, her Head Girl badge was on, pinned to her jacket. She hardly ever wore it, unlike Malfoy, but she did think it was important to wear it to this meeting. She'd put her brooch on a ribbon, and tied it about her neck like a choker. She'd put her hair up in something a bit nicer than usual. Because of the length, she really couldn't do something all that fancy- she briefly thought about lengthening it again.
She grabbed her file folder, which had a stack of parchment inside. Susan and Luna had been working with her the previous night on this particular stack. She left her rooms, and saw Malfoy just warding his door. Their eyes met, and he gave her a slight nod. He had a briefcase in his hands- a handsome black leather one with the Malfoy Crest.
"Malfoy." She greeted. "...Do you think they'll actually listen to us?"
Malfoy made a show of looking her over. "Well, with you dressed like that, you're at least going to get the attention from a few of the old geezers."
Holly smiled a little at this, and the two walked towards the meeting room- it was on the other side of the Great Hall, in the atrium that Holly had met her fellow Champions in back in fourth year.
Malfoy opened the door for her as they entered the room. More than one person did a double take as they entered- some of the men even stood. It looked like it was a full board meeting this time- all fifteen members were present. Holly gave a small smile to the Headmaster, who was grinning at them.
"Well, well, Holly my girl, you are looking lovely today."
"Thank you, Headmaster." Holly said, as the two of them sat in their seats.
The Headmaster stood, and looked to the group at large. "Now that everyone is here, we can begin. Thank you for all of you being here today. It is time for our annual budget review of the school."
The group began to review the budget, and Holly found herself quickly getting bored with the monotony. Malfoy took diligent notes, even doing the arithmicancy on the side of his paper. She used that time to silently study the other members of the board. She just hoped this would work. And if not, they would have to do the backup plan.
Then the Headmaster concluded. "As all of you have gathered, the school is losing money because we are losing hope to change that, now that the war is over. Does anyone have any ideas about encouraging more students to come to this school?"
Holly looked around, and saw that no one was going to speak up. Her gaze met Lady Zabini's, who was sipping her tea casually. The beautiful woman was looking at her over the rim of her teacup, and she gave a slight nod of her head. It was time.
Holly glanced to Malfoy, who set his quill down, and he cleared his throat. "Headmaster, Lady Potter-Black and I came with a few ideas. We are both aware of the dwindling numbers here at the school, and we've asked around the student body to see if they have any ideas." He took out a slip of paper. The Headmaster looked a bit interested.
"Oh? Go on, Mr. Malfoy."
Malfoy's lips thinned at this- he should have been referred to as Lord Malfoy in this situation, but it was clear that the Headmaster was not recognizing that.
"Very well. We have a list here that proposes all of the changes we would be interested in making here at Hogwarts to encourage more students to attend here." Holly took out the stack of parchment and put it on the table. People stared.
Malfoy cleared his throat again, standing up. He kept his list on the table, but did not have to read from it as he spoke- apparently he had memorized it.
"We are calling for a complete restructuring of the school. We would like to add new courses, and trim down on some of the ones we currently have." He saw that he had their rapt attention.
"First, we would like to let Professor Binns pass on. All of you here were even taught by the ghost, and as you all surely know, there are generations of witches and wizards that now know quite a bit about Goblin Wars, but hardly anything else of our history. I propose that we get a new teacher- but they wouldn't just be teaching history of magic, but the history of muggles as well."
Some looked visibly suprised at this, and Malfoy glanced to Holly. Holly stood.
"Many witches and wizards are woefully unaware of the technological strides that muggles have made in the last one hundred years. Muggle-studies is terribly out of date, and that would be another class that would have to be restructured. By teaching magical and muggle history together, we could do a comparison of both worlds, and present a 'complete' history of the world, rather than just partial. Muggle studies will be absorbed into this course, and it will no longer be an elective- it will be a requirement. I suggest that we hire a muggleborn or a halfblood that has lived in the muggle world for at least the past ten years or so, and they would need to live in the muggle world during the summers as well, to keep up to date on things."
Malfoy spoke again. "Also, we want to get rid of Divination."
The Headmaster had to speak up at this, but it looked like he was the only one who dissapproved of this notion. "Mr. Malfoy, Miss Potter, we cannot get rid of an entire branch of magic."
"We won't. Professor Trelawny can stay on at the school as an advisor to those who want to know more about Divination, or possibly have the Gift. She could still stay at the school, but offering classes to people who won't have the Gift is a waste of their time, and the school's money."
Malfoy spoke before anyone else could get a word in- they had to get it all out before the arguing undoubtedly began.
"Also, we would like to introduce other electives. Healing- a very needed skill, and we have less and less qualified healers every year. We thought that we could introduce a basic first aid course- and the students would also learn about the human body- using muggle science applications as well. For perhaps older OWL and NEWT students, we could get into more advanced healing."
Holly then spoke. "We would like to introduce an elective on the Arts- music, art, dancing. This course used to be available here at Hogwarts, but it had been gotten rid of a long time ago. I also think we should introduce a course that focuses on how to take care of your home- cooking and cleaning charms, mending and repairing, that sort of thing. Not everyone can afford a house elf, and those sorts of skills could be very useful."
Malfoy then said "Also, we believe that all first and second years should be required to take courses in basic reading and writing, science, and math." Malfoy said. "There are far too many who enter Hogwarts that do not have those skills, and it slows down everyone else in the class."
Holly paused for a moment, letting that sink in- these people looked a bit shocked. She then spoke again. "We also believe that the Professors are taking far too much on, and are spread too thin. We believe that there should be an additional Professor for each course- one to teach fifth, sixth, and seventh year students, and one to teach the lower years. That way, each can concentrate on that age group, and they all have more time to assist students outside of their classes."
Malfoy then added "It would also be a good idea to hire a new Groundskeeper. Hagrid is already the teacher for Care of Magical Creatures, and he can't do both on his own. Hogwarts is a big land, and there is more than enough work to be done."
They both paused, glancing at one another, silently gathering themselves. No one had said a word so far- some people looked a bit overwhelmed, others looked angry, while some were somewhat amused.
Holly then cleared her throat. "Now, these are just the changes we propose for the classes. There are other changes we would like to see as well." She paused. "We want to abolish the House System."
That got people's attention. Many started speaking at once, looking angry.
"Silence!" Malfoy yelled, scowling. "This is just a proposal. Hear her out, at least."
"Thank you." Holly said quietly. "Now...I feel as though that with the House system the way it currently is, it creates division and more than a little bit of bigotry. Instead of having Houses, we will divide the students by year. Now, having asked around, this is what we came up with."
Malfoy glanced to the paper before him. "First and Second year students would be living together in the Hufflepuff dorms with the Head Girl to look after them. Third and Fourth year students will be in Gryffindor tower, with the Head Boy. Fifth and Sixth years will be in Ravenclaw tower, and the Seventh years will be in the Slytherin dorms- a single set of prefects for each year will be chosen for all of them. We will still honor the Four founders, and we will still have House points. However, it will be comprised of yearmates instead of pitting House against House. We believe that this will create ties between all of the students, not just part of them."
Holly then spoke. "This re-arrangement allows for more room for everyone. There are currently 279 students that attend this school, when we could easily hold over a thousand. We have numerous abandoned classrooms that could be used, so we have the space for the new classes."
"We certainly have dwindling numbers, and not just because of the wars- more and more students are leaving Hogwarts because some simply can't afford it, and others aren't simply interested in what we have to offer."
"We propose a scholarship program, available to academically gifted students, and another scholarship program available to those who do not have Hogwarts alumni in their family. As some of you may have heard, we recently had an influx of immigrants come to our country. Many of those families have children that need to be taught. I believe we could learn from them just as much as they learn from us." Holly said.
"...Is that all?" The Headmaster asked cautiously.
Malfoy and Holly nodded in unison. Malfoy motioned to Holly, and both he and Holly got out the parchments, handing them out. "Here is a complete listing of our propsal- all of the names attached to these lists are of those who approved." Malfoy said, smirking a bit.
The group was silent as they looked over the proposal, and the rather long list of names that followed.
"...Aberforth?" Dumbledore said, brows raising. He looked to Holly, who could only grin. Even Dumbledore's brother was on the list.
"Also, the names that are written in red signify those families that would be willing to lend a financial contribution for this venture. As you can see, myself and Holly are included on that list." Malfoy said a bit formally. "We know that changes like this will take a lot of money, and we are willing to assist."
The two looked expectantly to the group, feeling a little hopeful. No one said a word, reading over the list once more.
Holly kicked the sofa in the prefect's common room, coming quite close to having a full blown tantrum. "Ugh! They make me- they make me so angry!" She yelled. Malfoy was sitting on the sofa, watching her, a closed expression on his face. He was angry too, very angry, but he was just better at hiding it.
"They didn't even talk it over or anything- they just said no!"
"I figured that would happen." Malfoy said flatly. "Their loss is our gain. We can build that new school, and when they see that our students are much more capable than Hogwarts, well...too bad for them." Malfoy said, leaning back and closing his eyes. "Now we can concentrate on other things."
Holly sighed at this. "You're right."
"Of course I'm right, princess."
Holly growled at him- "Didn't I tell you not to call me that? Now all the firsties are calling me it- you're a bad influence."
Malfoy's smirk only spread. "Don't I know it? Anyways, it suits you, M'Lady." he stood, and bowed gallantly. Holly threw a pillow at him.
Time passed. November turned into December and more refugees kept arriving. Thankfully, with Holly opening her properties to them, as well as some of the other wealthier Dark-Aligned families, people weren't so crowded in Knockturne while everything was being rebuilt.
It was the worst, trying to do construction in such horrible weather, but Bill and his ever-growing team of warders really came through for them and had applied expansion charms to the entire area, not only to each of the buildings, but to Knockturne itself. On Yule, they would be changing the outer wards to close off the Diagon Entrance, and opening a new one. They figured it would be the least noticeable then, and the magical power of that night would lend strength to the wards.
People were working overtime to rebuild- Holly had sent on all of the students' sketches to the teams that were constructing the new buildings and things. She desperately wanted to see it all, and be involved, but she couldn't get away. Her 'duties' as Head Girl kept her at the school more often than she liked, even with the 'dates' she had with Charlie.
Speaking of which, Charlie had found work with one of the Creature breeding teams, and was constructing a way to keep such animals safe and out of the way. He'd rented a flat in Diagon, much to his parent's displeasure. He was renting the flat with four other guys, but he didn't seem to mind too much.
Holly had allowed Bill and Fluer access to her own building, so that they could increase the security and add the needed changes to match the other buildings. She was really looking forward to Yule, to see all the changes.
She and Tonks had been writing each other all term- she had mentioned nothing to Tonks about what was going on, and she hoped to keep it that way. She wasn't sure if the woman would approve of what she was doing. Tonks had made a rather nice life for herself in Dover. She was working in a shop, and had made lots of muggle friends. None of them knew she was a witch, but they all supported her and her pregnancy. She had a few muggle boyfriends, even.
She'd finally told her parents about what was going on, and they agreed it was best that she stayed in the muggle world for now, and they had helped talk her into retiring from the Auror force completely- far too dangerous a job for a single Mother. Still, Tonks' mum, Andromeda, was looking forward to be a Grandma, even if the circumstances were a bit unusual. Holly couldn't wait to visit Tonks during the Yule Holidays- Tonks had sent a picture of herself- she was grinning cheekily, her wierd sisters t-shirt stretched across her growing stomach, her bright purple hair sticking up all over the place. Her current boyfriend- a man with green and blue streaked hair with lots of piercings and tattoos was smiling at the camera, his hand on her tummy.
Holly was very glad that Tonks had decided to keep her baby, and that she was happy. There were far too many children in the world that didn't have parents, and she didn't want another one happening, if she could help it.
Speaking of which, a makeshift orphanage had sprung up in Knockturne. Many children had arrived unnaccompanied to the country, or had traveled with friends. Work and schooling would be arranged for them, if they wanted it.
Also, Holly's properties in Diagon had all been sold off for rather good sums of money. Some of the wealthier immigrants had bought the properties, and were planning on opening their own businesses. The twins were acting as liasons between the new shop owners and Knockturne- all of these immigrants were from Dark-Aligned families, and were more than happy to assist with the safety features Holly and the others had thought of.
But not everything was fine and dandy- Ron was becoming impossible to deal with, and he and Holly were arguing a lot more than they used to. She put her foot down when he began to openly bully the Slytherins, and some of the other boys began to join him- more and more of the Slytherins began to leave the school- some quite happy to do so. Holly and Malfoy's school was already being planned out for construction in the old warehouse- everyone hoped that it could be completed by the following year.
Holly hated the divisions that were happening here, but she could not stop it, no matter how many fights she broke up, no matter how many points she took. The Ministry wasn't helping much, or the Daily Prophet, with their propoganda. They had not yet connected the arrival of the immigrants with the attacks abroad, but Holly knew it was only a matter of time.
She and Severus were doing wonderfully. It was a bit of a strain, having to hide their relationship, but it was sort of exciting too. The couple managed to sleep together nearly every night, but they couldn't spend much time together outside of that- they simply just didn't have the time.
Holly looked forward to the day she left Hogwarts- she never thought she would be so eager to leave.
Holly was packing up for Yule, the day before the holidays, and there was a knock on her door. She glanced around, making sure nothing incriminating was out. She opened the door, and blinked as she saw the Headmaster.
"Headmaster." She greeted, making no move to invite him in.
"Holly- could we speak about your holiday plans?"
"..Of course." Holly said, but did not move from her spot blocking the door.
"...Yes, well, both you and Mr. Malfoy will be going home for the holidays. While I know Mr. Malfoy has his Mother to look after, I was thinking that you could stay on at the school, since you do not have any plans to stay with the Weasleys, and thus, you will be alone for the holidays."
Holly's grip on the door tightened- she tried to hide her anger.
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Headmaster." She said quietly. "And this is rather last minute's notice, isn't it?"
"Yes- we've all been rather busy, haven't we? Anyways, I wanted to use the holidays to speak with you- about your future here at the school. I also thought we could use the time for you to review the wards with me."
Holly stared at him. "The wards?"
The Headmaster gave her a small smile. "Yes. Perhaps that is why I'm so eager to have you here at the school- I want someone strong enough to protect the school after I'm gone. I may only have a few years left- who knows, but I believe that you are the best option to protect this school from the Dark forces." The man paused. "I know it is a great responsiblity, but I believe you can carry it."
"...If you want me to be a part of this school, why did you and the Board refuse my propose changes?" She whispered.
"...It was far too much, my girl, some of those old fogeys would have never agreed to such change. Maybe, years from now, when you are Headmistress, you could implement those changes."
"...I see." Holly lowered her eyes. To the Headmaster, it was only a matter of 'when', not 'if'. Of course he would assume that she was going to take the offer.
She was going to have to say it now.
"I'm afraid, Headmaster, that I'm going to have to decline your offer."
The man actually looked shocked for once. "What?"
"I want to see the world for a bit, travel, meet new people, experience new things- I can't do that if I'm here all the time. I want to have a family, to have kids of my own one day. There's so much I haven't been able to do, and I'd like to do those things before I get to be too old. And maybe then, when I want to settle down, I'll come back here and shake things up a bit." Holly gave him a grin, but the Headmaster did not return it.
"And...Shacklebolt's offer?" He asked cautiously.
"I'm going to turn him down too. I'm afraid we just don't see eye to eye on his policies." She said quietly. "Anyone who condones killing innocent people, no matter what their Alignment is, is..well, wrong."
"...I do agree that things could have been done differently." The Headmaster agreed quietly. "There was no need for anyone to die. I'm afraid, however, the damage has already been done. I believe that warning will allow peace, for a time. But you must keep in mind that they will come up again, and you must be prepared."
"I will, Headmaster." Holly said with a smile. "But in the meantime, I must live my own life. I hope you will allow me this."
"...Of course my girl." The Headmaster said with a small smile. A twinkle entered his eyes. "And how are things going with Mr. Weasley?"
"Charlie? Oh...he's great. He's a really great guy- he's smart, funny, and he's good with kids-" She gushed purposefully, watching the Headmaster's smile widen.
"Good, good...well, I shall leave you to your packing. Have a good holiday, Miss Potter."
"Thank you sir."
Holly sighed happily as she entered Knockturne- she was home. She looked around the street, and saw that many people were out and about. She was pleased to find that most of the outside repairs had been completed, and teams of people were coming and going, working on various projects.
For one thing, Knockturne Alley was wider. It took her a moment to realise it, but it was. She had no idea how they'd managed that, but they had. It looked like all the buildings had been pushed back on both sides- she guessed it was to allow people to walk on the street easier. She wasn't recognized as she headed towards her building- she had her hood raised, and her scarf covered her mouth. It was rather cold out.
She smiled as a group of kids crossed her path, laughing and talking to one another- she could tell that they were using translation spells- their accents were all a little different from one another. She approached her building, and stopped short at the front window.
The window was covered with posters and signage- she looked at the board, reading some of what was there. Help wanted ads, recruiting posters for warders, healers- ads for renting out the cottages (specifically asking for families or individuals that would be interested in farming, potion suppliers, and breeding animals). She jumped as the door to her building opened, revealing Fleur, who was wearing a pretty blue coat, her wite blonde hair shining brilliantly in the winter sun.
" 'olly!" She gasped, hugging her tightly. "When did you arrive?"
"Just a litle while ago. I was reading all the posters here." Holly motioned to the signs.
Fleur grinned. "Good- did you see the rules?"
Holly shook her head, and Fleur pointed to the list. "Some of us put it together- we only need you and Severus to confirm it."
Holly read the list, smiling a little.
Knockturne City Rules:
No Fighting, except for in Designated Dueling Zones
No Drinking, Smoking, or Gambling in public areas, except for the pubs
No one under the age of 15 is allowed in any pub- no drinking is allowed under the age of 17.
All Children under the age of 15 will report to The Classroom from 8am-2pm - those who cannot attend must have a written letter from their parents.
All Children under the age of 11 have a curfew of 6pm, 9pm until they are 15.
Anyone who breaks these rules will be given a fine, the amount depending on the crime. If you cannot pay the fine, you will need to do community service.
Everyone must be Registered in the Office within one week of their arrival, so that they may have access to our services.
Assistance in finding a home
Assistance in finding work
Assistance in protecting your home or business
This is a tentative list, which has yet to be approved by Lord and Lady Prince. These rules will be up for review on an annual basis.
Holly looked to Fleur, who was smiling. "We put that together...it was needed. I hope you don't mind?"
"No, this is terrific!" Holly said with a grin. "Maybe we can check out these Designated Dueling Zones and things?"
"Of course." Fluer then motioned to the line of rune that decorated the page, and all of the other pages on the notice board. "These all have translation spells written in- currently, we have refugees from sixteen different countries here-" Holly gaped at this, and Fleur smiled a little, taking Holly's trunk, and the two went inside.
Holly looked around at the ground floor of her building- it had been completely changed over, and it was much larger than it used to be. There were desks set up, and people sat at all of them, talking and doing paperwork.
Fleur spoke quietly. "This is The Office. It's basically becoming the first stop for every refugee when they first come here. We help them get situated into a temporary living space until all the construction is complete. We also help them find work in the meantime."
"I...wasn't expecting this." Holly murmured. "When you guys said you needed the space. You're so organized!"
"We have to be- there's a lot of people here. Knockturne alone now houses nearly 900 people, and we've got over 200 more in the cottages and farmland- there will be more once spring arrives and we can do proper construction on the land. Once Severus opens up Prince Manor, which we're hoping to do during the Yule holidays, since you two have a bit of free time, we can start putting people there."
"Well, I know there was a warding team there, right?"
"Yes, they expanded the Manor quite a bit, underground too. Oh! You should see what we've done underground here in Knockturne- I think you'll-"
"Miss Fleur?" A young woman approached in clipped English.
"Oh, Miss. Petrovich-" Fleur said with a smile. "Did you need something?"
The woman looked to Holly, and Fleur tugged Holly's hood down. Fleur spoke quietly. "Hoods down inside all public buildings. It's sort of one of those unspoken rules. We can never be too careful, at least, until we close off the Diagon entrance. Ms. Petrovich, this is Lady Prince."
The woman's eyes widened, and she immediately went into a deep curtsy. Everyone else looked over, and stood from their seats quickly- many began to bow, while others curtseyed.
Holly fidgeted where she stood, glancing to Fleur, who looked a little amused. Holly then spoke tentaively. "Fleur was just telling me about all the work that you have done here- I wanted to say that all of you are doing a fantastic job- keep up the good work!" She said with a smile, and many looked pleased at this.
Petrovich said something quietly to Fleur in another language, which caused Fleur to chuckle a bit. Holly glanced at her, and Fleur spoke with a grin. "She said that you looked a bit younger than she'd imagined, and she said that you didn't dress like a princess."
Holly flushed at this. "I guess Malfoy's nickname for me spread?"
"Oh yes." Fleur said with a smile. "Now, m'lady, you should get upstairs and get settled in. I'll take you for lunch, and then we can go see everything. When is Severus coming?"
"Good- good. We were...sort of hoping to speak to you two about your flat."
Holly blinked. "...What's wrong with the flat?' Holly asked, leading the way up the stairs.
"There's nothing wrong with it." Fleur began. "But it is right in the middle of things, and we thought that you two may want a bit of quiet."
"That's easy enough to solve with a few spells." Holly said, letting the two of them into her dusty apartment. It looked exactly like she had left it. Holly sighed at this, setting her things down on the kitchen table.
"Would you like some tea? I'm pretty sure I still have some."
"Oh, no thank you." Fleur said, looking around the small sitting room/kitchen. "...Have you thought about applying expansion charms here as well? To add a few more rooms?"
Holly blinked, and Fleur gave her a slight grin. "In case you decide to have children?"
Holly flushed at this. "Erm...I'll talk to Severus about it. We don't need anything fancy, but...maybe we could have two other rooms- like...a lab or something." She mumbled, trying not to be embarassed at Fluer's Look. Holly went to her room to change her clothes- from her uniform to a comfortable dark green linen dress with her winter boots and stockings. She'd put her braid back into a bun, and grabbed a colorful scarf she'd gotten as a Christmas present from Ginny before she'd left. She wrapped it about her neck and atop her head, keeping her face uncovered, but covering her hair. She grabbed her black jacket, and left the bedroom.
"Let's go see the underground!" She said to Fleur excitedly.
Men stopped and stared at the two as they walked through the tunnels- many even stopped working, and bowed. There was a tunnel that ran directly underneath the main street, just as wide and 20 feet deep. Individual tunnels, about eight feet wide each, led from the various shops and buildings to the main tunnel. There were signs already up so that people could naviate it. Some vendors had even set up carts so workers could buy food whilst on their breaks.
They headed through to the Diagon Alley side- even there, the street followed the main street, directly underneath, even some a team of Goblins were down there, putting up an elaborate set of doors to make another entrance to the bank. Fleur explained to Holly that the Goblins had decided to do this of their own volition, and had sworn to keep knowledge of the tunnels to themselves, in exchange for the entrance- they stood to make more money, by doing this. After all, once they closed off the entrance to Diagon, people would have a harder time of getting to the bank. Also, vampires needed money too, and before, they had always been restricted to coming to the bank at night.
Speaking of which, the local coven had grown enormously, and were loving the tunnels- they lent a bit of style to the tunnels, and were already starting to decorate them- putting dense brickwork on the walls, and cielings, and pretty ceramic tiles on the ground. The various shopowners in Diagon that they had entrusted had underground entrances to their shops, but they were few and far between.
Holly and Fleur made their way back to Knockturne. Fleur explained that some of the people had gone a bit further, and had added levels of underground chambers underneath their buildings- for more storage. There was talk of putting housing down here, especcially for the vampires, but that was still in the planning stages.
Holly and Fleur came up from the underground entrance to a small cafe that had been set up- they sold French foods and pastries- Fleur and the baker spoke in rapid French, and the two were quickly sat down in the little shop.
"The owner is an old family friend of mine.' Fleur said with a grin. "He makes the most amazing cakes- they practically melt in your mouth."
Holly grinned at this, looking forward to it. "Everyone has set things up so quickly- I'm rather shocked that they managed it!"
"Well, it 'elps that we 'ave magic. What we do in a week could take ze muggles months!"
Holly smiled, and a girl came by, giving them both coffees in little cups.
"Be careful, these are espressos-" Fleur warned. "They're quite strong."
Holly nodded at this, and took a sip. She blinked, eyes widening. "...Wow."
Fleur laughed at this. "Do you like?"
"Yes. I like." Holly said faintly. "...So..." She took another sip. "I know Bill isn't Dark...he told me as much, so..."
"Ah, you want to know if I am Dark as well?" Fleur asked with a grin.
Holly nodded at this.
"Non. I am not. But I do sympathize with many here. I do not agree with what they are doing."
Holly smiled a little at this. "I'm glad. You and Bill have been lifesavers. You guys know how to get your hands dirty, unlike all those snobby society people. I'm just glad that you guys are giving up your free time outside of work."
Fleur let out a tinkling laugh at this. "True. Strange- I feel happier than I ever did while I was at any party back 'ome, or even at Beaubaxtons. People actually...respect me, strangely enough- my good looks are secondary to them. I am more than happy to 'elp."
Holly smiled a little. "Well, we've got a couple of busy weeks ahead of us. Severus is arriving tonight, but we will be starting work first thing in the morning. I'd like to take a look at the progress on the wards, and see how close we are to completing them- do you think they will be finished by Yule?"
Fleur grinned at this, eyes glinting. "We are ahead of schedule, but casting the wards will be at their most powerful at midnight, on Yule."
"Then we will do it then. How many?"
"Twenty five, with you and Severus as the ward-holders, making it twenty seven."
"I'm going to assume that number was chosen on purpose."
"Yes. Now, the Fidelis will need to be activated at the same time, and that will be yours and Severus' job- you two will hold the Secret. Will you be able to handle that?"
Holly's eyes widened at this. "We're doing the Fidelis too?"
"Yes...Severus came up with it, just a few days ago. Is that okay?" Fleur asked quietly. "He wrote Bill and I about it- no one else knows yet. If you don't think you can do it-"
"No- I think I can, if Severus is helping me." Holly said quietly. "...So...just the Fidelis over Knockturne?"
"The under ground entrances, the tunnels, the entireity of Knockturne, even the muggle Entrance building."
"...That's quite a bit to cover. It's usually just one house, not an entire area."
"It is the only way we can be completely protected. All citezins of Knockturne will need to be told of the Secret, as well as those living in the cottages. Eventually, we will have the Cottages under Fidelis as well."
Holly grinned. "Merlin...that's a fantastic idea." She paused. "But what if something happens to Severus and I?"
"You two will have to make arrangements." Fleur said quietly. "We have a bit of time to decide, but I do think we should do it. It is the only way to keep everyone completely protected. Entrances can be broken, if people know what to look for."
"You're right." Holly murmured. "Alright. I'll talk to Severus tonight."
Holly was cooking dinner when Severus arrived to the apartment. He'd barely had time to set down his bags before Holly was kissing him hard, and he was pressing her up against the wall.
"Silencing spells." She gasped against his lips. "...And let me finish dinner, first."
He flicked his wand, casting the silencing spells, but did not let go of her. He shoved up her skirt, kissing her roughly, carrying her to the kitchen table. He sat her on the edge, and they continued to kiss. She groaned as he shoved her legs apart, and undid the front of his trousers.
"Sev...dinner..." She panted, but did not fight him as he tugged her knickers to the side, stroking himself, looking at her hungrily. He was soon sheathing himself inside her, making her arch up against him.
Holly could only hold on while he pounded into her, the kitchen table shaking under the force. Thankfully, the table had not yet been set, so there was nothing to impede them when Holly laid on her back, wrapping her legs around his waist. She cried out as he came inside her, both of them spasming, holding each other tightly, sweat sticking to their necks and clothing.
Severus laid on top of her, holding her close to him. Holly smiled into his hair, kissing his temple. "Welcome home." She whispered, feeling a little sappy. He made a slight noise of contentment in the back of his throat, and pulled back a little. The two kissed, and Holly found herself not caring for once that the food was burning.
Holly and Severus laid in bed much later that night, curled up together. Both were naked, sheets and blankets pushed down about their feet, and pillows already having fallen off the bed. Holly was half-lying on top of Severus, their legs intertwined. His hand was in her hair, playing with it.
"...I want every night to be like this." Holly whispered with a smile.
"While I would like that too, it's not quite realistic." Severus murmured, looking amused. "I don't think everyone would appreciate us doing such things whilst at a party and such."
Holly raised her brows. "Do we plan on going to lots of parties?"
"...No. But we are needed at one, on the night before Yule. Narcissa invited us."
Holly sighed gustily. "Oh yeah. But we need to do the wards that night."
"We will sleep that day, go to the party for a few hours, make an appearance, schmooze with all the rich folk, and come back here in time for working on the wards."
"Okay." Holly murmured. "But only just for a little while. The wards are far more imporant. So...did you write Bill and Fleur about the Fidelis spell?"
"Oh, yes, I did. I just thought about it a couple of days ago. I thought it might give us a bit more protection. Of course, the trickiest part will actually be telling everyone who needs to know where Knockturne City is, whilst they are still in Knockturne."
Holly grinned sleepily at this. "You're clever. You'll figure it out." She rubbed her face into his neck. "So..." She pressed a kiss there."Fleur also mentioned that we should think about putting expansion charms here."
"We can do it ourselves. I don't want people triapsing about."
"Of course." Holly kissed down his shoulder. "Should we add an extra room? Perhaps a lab?" She murmured.
"No." Severus said quietly. "I've been working with some of my associates- potions masters, other academics- we're building a workshop here in Knockturne. Our home will be...just a home, and I will work there."
Holly turned her face to look up at him. "So...a study, then?" She asked quietly, wanting to ask, but too scared to say it.
"...We could...for now. But...I do hope to need that room for someone else, one day." He whispered, looking at her knowingly.
Holly grinned a little. "One day." She flushed a bit, snuggling into his side. "Considering the way we're going at it, I think you might want that day to be a bit sooner, rather than later."
He held her just a bit tighter. "Perhaps. Do you mind?"
"No. Not at all." Holly said with a grin.
The following day, Severus worked on their flat, while Holly went out to Knockturne and see what work there was for her to do. That morning, she helped in The Office, getting to see what paperwork was involved, and how the registering process worked. She and Severus then had lunch together in a Chinese shop, and she went back out, while Severus continued to work on their flat- he didn't want her to see it until he was finished.
That afternoon, she went from shop to shop, speaking with all of the shop owners, and introducing herself to the ones she didn't already know. Most hadn't believed her, at first, that she was Lady Prince. It didn't help that she was just wearing one of her usual dresses, apron, and jacket, looking like almost any other young woman on the street. She also inspected the Entrances, watching the warding teams working on both of them. Both teams would be working with them at Yule to close one Entrance, and open up the other one. She also looked at the old warehouse. The expanded space was filled with tents- many of the refugees were staying there while construction was going on. All of the floors had been mapped out and were being put together.
She looked at the designs with the architect- he had been eager to show every detail. He was a very well known Japanese halfblood architect, who also happened to be a Dark Arts user that was sympathetic to their cause. While he and his family had not yet been found out, he knew that others were not so lucky.
Takamoto had designed both the magical and muggle buildings that the Entrance to Knockturne was to be on. On the magical side, the building was now ten times bigger than it once was, allowing for fifteen floors of apartments to be added, and the school on the bottom two floors. Each apartment would house a family of up to four, and each floor held 10 small apartments- up to 600 people could live comfortably in the apartments. Right now, just the framing and floors were up, but in just a month's time, the building would be completely ready.
The school would also be able to house up to 400 students- this included 10 dorm rooms for children who did not have families of their own. Each dorm would house up to five students- older students would be given the option of renting out flats in the building at a cheaper rate. The school had a small kitchen, classrooms for the magical arts, and a gymnasium.
Holly took a little trip to check out the building on the muggle side of the wards . She hadn't seen it since they had purchased the building. A team were working there too, but not nearly as big as the one on the magical side. The team there were building what looked to be labs and workshops- Holly learned that this was the lab Severus had been talking about.
Apartments for the academics had already been set up on the top two floors and were being lived in- they would eventually be the teachers at the school, and would also be working in the labs and workshops on the muggle side. The building was entirely muggle in structure- not expanded in any way, and even electricity was available. One floor was reserved for muggle academic classes for the students- so that they could have a well rounded education that included mathematics, the sciences, and the arts. It would help to have electricity available to these classes, especcially if they ever decided to teach classes in computers and other technology.
On the bottom two levels, there was an enormous library, full of ancient tomes and literature- apparently the collective works of all the academics and various other magical families that were willing to part with their books and tomes. The students and every other citezin of Knockturne would be allowed access to it- a proper magical public library- something that hadn't existed since the legendary Alexandria Library.
Holly was in awe of the sheer size of it- it looked like it was going to be even bigger than the Hogwarts library. What made things a bit more interesting was that a computer lab had been set up by a group of squibs, and they were eager to get the rest of the building 'connected' to the net. Holly had never been allowed to use her Cousin's computer, and she was quite eager to get to use those, one day. The squib she'd spoken to also mentioned that they would be transferring data from the ever-growing collection that they had in the library, and putting them onto what they called a private server, allowing them to have access to anything in a moment's notice. She couldn't wait to see it in action.
It was dark by the time Holly came back to Knockturne, and she saw more people out on the street than earlier- colorful lamps had been lit up, and all the restaurants were making dinner- the whole place seemed so...vibrant. She was just staring up at one of the shops, wondering what she could bring back to Severus for dinner when she heard someone call her name.
Holly turned, and saw Penny. "Penny!"
Penny grinned widely, hugging her tightly. "Holly, it's so good to see you."
"It's good to see you too." Holly looked over to who could only be the girl's mother, and Penny dragged her over.
"Mum, this is Holly..er...Lady Prince. Mum, meet Lady Prince."
The girl's Mother looked at her with wide eyes, and then curtseyed. "Lady Prince."
"Mrs. Merrythought. How are you and your girls doing?"
"...We're doing okay. My Mother is living with us now- she's looking after the little ones. Penny and I were just going to pick up some things for dinner."
Holly grinned. "Mind if I join you? I was just about to pick up something for dinner too. I'm afraid things have changed a little from what I remember- even the vendors moved their carts around."
Penny tugged her towards the vendors, and Holly greeted her old friends, making small talk and getting things for the flat.
"So, Penny, how are you doing with learning magic?" Holly asked, placing some apples in her conjured basket.
"...Alright. The teachers at the new school sure are different than the ones at Hogwarts." Penny said quietly, and looked up at her hopefully. "Are you going to teach me stuff over the hols?"
"I'd be happy to. Are the children around here on break as well?" Holly asked her Mother.
"Just for Yule. Things have been a bit hectic around here- I'm sure things will settle in properly once the school is finished."
"Well, they're trying to get that building finished this coming month- it's high priority, but a lot needs to be done."
"Yes- from what I understand, a lot of people will be living on the upper levels."
Penny spoke up. "Some people will be leaving to go to the farms, once the weather gets better, though."
"Very true." Holly said with a smile. "Have you gotten to explore the tunnels yet?"
Penny pouted at this. "No, not yet. Mum says it's not safe yet."
"Well, I went today. It's true, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done, but they're doing a very good job. Even the Goblins are putting an entrance to Gringott's down there on the Diagon side."
Penny grinned at this. "You think they wish they'd thought of this first?"
"Probably. Knowing them, they'd probably charge people for having access to the tunnels." Holly paused. "The vampire coven was thinking about building some housing down there. What do you think?"
Penny's mum shivered visibly a little at this, while Penny's eyes widened. "...That would be nifty. I mean, it's not like they can come out during the daytime anyways. At least, this way, they'll be able to go out and about from shop to shop during the day too."
"Too true. Hmm. I'll speak with some of the others about it. But that is a low priority thing, as the coven already has a home. Of course, it's growing quite a bit. I believe one of them told me today that it is becoming one of the largest covens in the world! Isn't that something?"
"Isn't that dangerous?" Penny's mum asked quietly.
Holly frowned a little. "Not...really. I mean, the vampires haven't drunk human blood in over 300 years, since they made a truce with our kind. Anyways, they are more than eager to play nice, since we're letting them have freedoms that other places do not."
"I've always wanted to meet a vampire.' Penny said with a little grin. "Are they really scary looking?"
"...Hmm...not really. A bit pale, and...a little distant, and all of them seemed quite attractive-" Holly winked. "But that might be because they remind me a little of Severus."
Penny giggled at this, and her Mother smiled a little. Holly glanced at a clock that was affixed outside a shop. "I should get going- Severus is probably wondering where I am."
"Wait-" Holly turned, looking to Penny once more. "...Are you and the Professor going to have babies as soon as you leave Hogwarts? 'Cos I-I'm really good at babysitting, you know?"
Holly laughed a little at this. "I'm not quite sure...that's really up to the Fates to decide, isn't it? While I wouldn't say no, I think we have quite enough to be dealing with at the moment. I'll see you around, Penny. Mrs. Merrythought, have a good night."
Holly approached her building, and entered the ground floor. The Office was fairly quiet- only one clerk was at her desk, with a family, while it looked like everyone else had gone home for the night. Holly went up the stairs quietly, stopping short as she saw the door. It was different.
Instead of the creaky wooden slatted door that had been there before, it was now a handsome dark wooden door with a brass knocker. She allowed herself in, thankful that her keys still worked. Her eyes widened as she saw that she had a foyer now- what the? She looked down, and saw it had warm brown tiles, and there was a bench, coat hooks, a small table, and a mirror. She slipped out of her flats, and quietly walked out of the foyer, into the sitting room. She blinked a little- it looked nearly the same, but a bit nicer. The bookcases were just a bit bigger, allowing for more books. It looked like Severus had added his own collection.
A couple more chairs had been added to the sofa- all quite comfortable looking. What was most noticeable was that there was a wall where the kitchenette used to be, and it had a swinging door. Cautiously, she went through the door, and gasped at the sight of the kitchen. Cabinets were laid out in an L-shape, and the kitchen table sat in the middle of the room, with chairs surrounding it. The table and chairs had been changed...or replaced, and now sat six, instead of two.
And at the stove,was Severus. He glanced casually over his shoulder, and set the pan on another burner.
Severus just raised his brow. "That's all you have to say?"
"I-it looks lovely, Severus."
"Have you seen the other rooms?"
"...No." Holly said with a grin. He took the basket from her hands, and tugged her towards the door.
"I was able to expand the space enough to include this kitchen, the foyer, and another bedroom. The foyer is spelled as a security measure- should someone somehow get into the building and past our door, they will be unable to get past the foyer without our consent- if they try, they will die- if they have malicious intent. Otherwise, they will just have to wait in the foyer for us."
Holly laughed a little at this, but Severus did not. "I want our home to be safe." He said quietly. He took them towards their bedroom first. It looked pretty much the same, except another dresser had been added. He motioned vaguely to the loo. "I didn't change the loo, I liked it as it was."
"Me too." Holly said, and they walked hand in hand to the other room. Holly stopped short in the doorway, eyes widening. Instead of the dark colored walls that the rest of the flat had, this had a pale green color, with white waiscoating. There was a darker green plush carpet, and there was a small twin bed in the corner. But still, there was no denying the small shelf of old-looking toys that laid just above the bed. There was also bookshelves that had been built into the far wall, and a rocking chair.
Holly turned to Severus with wide eyes. He was looking a bit nervous, for the first time she could really remember. "...Severus..."
"Is this okay?"
"Yes." Holly said, hugging him tightly.
"Right now, it can be a guest room, but I thought...anyways, the rocking chair had been my Mother's, and the toys, well, they had once been mine when I was small. I know they're not much to look at, but-"
"They're important to you." Holly said with a smile, never moving from his embrace. "This is lovely, Severus. It feels very...peaceful in here. I love it."
"I'm glad." They stared at each other for a long moment. "...Holly, my childhood was horrible. While I'm terrified at the thought of not being a good Father, I know I will try my hardest. I certainly know what not to do."
"Well, you didn't turn out all that bad. I think you'll be a great Father- you took care of your Slytherins, didn't you?"
"...Well, yes, but I don't have much experience with children younger than Hogwarts' age. Even Draco, and he's my Godson."
Holly scrunched her nose up at this. "Don't remind me." She paused, and blinked. "Oh...um...did I ever tell you about Tonks?"
Severus frowned a little. "What about her?"
Holly blushed a bit. "...Um...Tonks is pregnant."
Severus' eyes widened at this. "What?"
"Yeah. That's why she took a leave of absence last fall. Um...she's having Remus' baby."
"Oh." Severus said quietly. "...And she's keeping it?"
"Obviously. She's living in the muggle world now. I put her up in a cottage months ago- she's giving me rent now, since she can afford it. She...she doesn't know anything about us, or about...what we're doing." Holly paused. "...I'm going to be the baby's Godmother." She said quietly.
Severus' eyes widened at this. "What? Why didn't you tell me?"
Holly glanced away. "I don't know. I just...wasn't sure how to bring it up. Tonks actually asked me if I would be willing to adopt the baby when she had it...but I told her to think about it for a bit. She's changed her mind since then, and she's keeping it. She's actually alright now...she's living a pretty good life in the muggle world."
"...She's not an Auror anymore?"
"No. They'd fire her in an instant if they knew she'd had an illegitimate child with a known werewolf- hell, if they ever found out, they'd probably try to take the poor baby from her to see if it was infected or something." Holly paused. "But...since I'm going to be the baby's Godmother, I need to tell Tonks about...us. She should know." At Severus' alarmed look, Holly hastened to say- "Of course, I'll make sure she says a vow. We've made arrangements to be together a couple of days before Yule. I would really like it if you were there."
"...She's not going to like it, that we're together."
"But I can't keep it from her, especcially if she wants me to be the Godmother."
"...Okay. I'll go with you." Severus said quietly, looking to the bedroom. "...I am not a very optimistic person, but I truly hope that what we are doing works. If everything goes as it should, every Dark person will have a safe haven to go to if she are in need of help."
"I just hope it doesn't create stronger lines of division." Holly murmured.
"We should have dinner, and get to bed. We have some big days ahead of us."
Tonks was having a good day. She hadn't managed to fall on her face so far, and she was getting ready for Holly to come to visit! She hadn't seen Holly since the previous fall, when she had given her the keys to her new home.
Since then, Tonks' life had changed completely. While she missed the magical world, it was sort of freeing, not having to worry about anyone knowing her, or her family history, or look at her with disgust if they saw her growing belly- an unwed mother wasn't so scandalous in the muggle world.
She'd made friends, which wasn't so hard, and they had fantastic taste in music. She worked in a record shop, and had saved up a bit of money while she hadn't had to pay Holly rent. After a while, she had insisted upon paying rent- it wasn't right. She'd had a few guys come and go, none of them really eager to stay with her with a baby on the way. Still, she was okay with that. She had a piece of Remus always with her, and she would cherish what little time that they had together.
She'd finally had the courage to tell her parents what was going on. They didn't freak out as much as she thought they would, and her Mum was helping her prepare for the baby- they were excited about getting a new grandson. It also helped that Tonks was going to name him Teddy, after her Father, and Remus as his middle name. Teddy was going to know his Father, the war hero, he was going to know everything.
Sometimes she wondered how everything was going over there, in the magical world. She'd stopped all communication with it, besides her parents. It just hurt too much. Even Shack had written her a few times, Moody too, and some of her old friends. She'd only written Shack and Moody back, and told them that she'd gone away for her health- she had no interest in fighting a war anymore. They'd begged and pleaded for her to return- her! And told her that she was needed.
But no, she wasn't going back to that. Her baby needed her. She wasn't going to risk her life, not again. It had taken her a while to realise that she'd been pregnant during the final battle- it was a miracle that she'd survived, and that the baby had too. They'd survived, together, for a reason, and she couldn't argue with that.
So she decided to keep the baby. Holly would just have to get her own babies. As Tonks attempted to straighten up the sitting room for the fifth time, she idly wondered how Holly was doing. Holly was such a serious girl, no interest in boys, only interested in helping people. But she guessed that was what made Holly...Holly.
She perked up as she heard the doorbell ring. She grinned, and started for the door, stumbling a bit as she went for it. She breathed a sigh of relief, catching herself, and opened the door. Her grin faded into an uncertain smile of confusion as not only did she see Holly, but Professor Snape on her doorstep.
In Holly's letter, Holly had written that she was going to bring a friend, but she had assumed it would be Hermione, or maybe even Ginny. But...Snape?
She looked at him, and frowned, taking in the black muggle suit and tie, and the way his hair was loosely pulled back. And then she looked to Holly, and did a double take. Holly was smiling, and looking happier than she'd ever seen her.
"Tonks!" Holly hugged her. "It's so good to see you!"
Tonks held Holly, looking over the girl's shoulder. "Not that I'm not happy to see you too, but...what is Snape doing here?"
Holly pulled away, and glanced to Snape. "Um...well, could we come in?"
"Of course." Tonks said, allowing the two in. She knew it couldn't be a trick of some sort- Holly would have never brought him here if he intended to hurt her.
She led them to the sitting room. "Here it is, home sweet home." She watched Holly taking everything in- all the band posters, the funky colorful furniture, the baby toys and clothes her mum kept bringing over- and Tonks looked at her as she opened her jacket. Holly was wearing a pretty dress, in a peach color. It was very cute, in a sort of muggle style, but just slightly...different. It looked a bit feminine, but still very...Holly.
"You look good." Tonks finally said, thinking of something quite suddenly. "Do you have a boyfriend?"
Holly gave her one of those guilty little smiles. "Uh...well..." She glanced to Snape, and Tonks' eyes widened. No way! Holly fidgeted. "...The thing is...we have a lot to talk about. And I'd like for us to take a vow."
"...Alright. I'll bite." Tonks said, too curious to resist.
Once the vow was complete, Holly spoke quietly, taking the brooch from her dress collar, took a part of it off. Tonks' eyes widened as she saw the slim black ring, and she watched the girl hold it out.
"...I don't have a boyfriend. I have a husband. I got married." Holly said quietly. She looked to Snape. "To Severus." At this, the man motioned to his own brooch. Holly put the ring back onto the brooch carefully, and pinned it back onto her dress collar.
"...But...married? How? When? And...no offense, but why Snape? I thought you guys hated each other!" Tonks cried, putting a hand to her stomach as her son kicked her quite suddenly, as if warning her.
"...We got married on Samhain. And things have changed quite a bit." Holly paused. "...Have you had any contact with the wizarding world besides me and your parents?"
"No. Shack and Moody begged me to come back to work, but I told them no. Why? There...isn't another war, is there? His Deatheaters aren't still making trouble, are they?" Tonks asked worriedly.
"...Not exactly." Holly murmured.
Snape spoke up. "There was an attack. The Ministry worked with the ICW and many other foreign Ministries to attack known Dark population centers around the world, one of the biggest attacks in Knockturne Alley. They had been authorized to use killing curses on innocent people, many of them children."
Tonks' eyes widened at this. "I-I'd heard things...rumors, but I didn't think they would actually do it! They said it was a last resort! If Bones were alive, she'd never let that sort of thing happen! What is Dumbledore doing? Did he get the Order back together?"
"No." Snape said, frowning. "He refuses to acknowledge the devastation of the attacks, as do many other countries. They are doing nothing to help."
She looked to the two of them carefully, and shook her head. "But you are. Holly, you just can't help yourself, can you?"
Holly did not smile. "We were there that night, when they had attacked Knockturne." Holly murmured. "We managed to save some people's lives. People heard...about us...even from abroad, and refugees have started to pour in. We-we're attempting to seperate Knockturne from the rest of the magical community, to create a safe haven."
"...But Holly...it sounds like you're on their side." Tonks then looked to Snape. "I always knew you were Dark, Snape, everyone sort of... knew, but...Holly?" She looked to Holly, who looked unrepetant.
"Tonks...it's all about intent. While I do dark magic here and there, that doesn't make me a bad person. I want to help people, so I do. We could have attacked the Ministry back, but we haven't, and we aren't planning to. Many people look to us for leadership- what sort of example would we make if we killed people without a second thought? We've seen enough war, enough death- the whole world has. We have no intention of continuing that."
"...You know...I can actually believe you." Tonks said with a little smile. "Damn it, Holly, you're making it hard for me to yell at you. So...you still have time to be a Godmother if you're intending on saving the whole world?"
"Of course I'll have the time. I wouldn't miss it." Holly pulled out a package from her bag. "We got you and the baby a present."
"Gimme!" Tonks snatched from her playfully, and opened the bright purple package- her favorite color. Inside was a pendant, and a small bracelet. The pendant was simple, and rather pretty, made of black jet. The small bracelt had a small stone made out of the same material.
"These will keep you safe. They're portkeys. To activate them, all you have to say is 'Safe Place'. They're for you and the baby. If...if the Ministry ever comes after you...if they ever find out about Remus being the Father...it will take you to us. Okay?"
Tonks sniffled a little- oh boy, the waterworks. "Thanks. I-I'd been worried about that. Thank you." She hugged Holly first, and then Snape, who'd tried to pull away, but she wasn't having any of that.
Then she reached over and smacked Holly on the arm. "Why didn't you invite me to the wedding?"
Holly blushed at this. "Eh...there wasn't a wedding. We Bonded...in bed." She mumbled this last to her lap.
Tonks began to laugh. "Merlin...only you! So..." She looked to Snape, arching her brow. "You knock her up?"
Snape's jaw dropped, and Holly blushed brilliantly. "No!" They both said in unison.
Holly flooed into the Malfoy's foyer on Severus' arm- he kept her upright as they walked out. She'd never quite gotten the hang of flooing, despite all of her practice. They were running fashionably late- Severus kept pawing at her while she attempted to get ready. Thankfully, the couple looked tidy and well put together. Severus wore a black set of dress robes, while she wore a slinky black muggle dress. The dress was long, and trailed behind her, and made of black satin- the neckline and front were modest, but her back was mostly bare. It was obvious she was not wearing a bra, and she looked very different than she normally did. Her hair was swept back into a tidy updo- it wasn't terribly ornate or anything. Holly wore her pendant on a choker about her neck, while Severus wore his on his lapel, like usual.
Not a moment after they entered the foyer, Draco arrived, and stopped short upon seeing her. "...Woah." He did a double take, and then visibly shook it off, and bowed to them. "Lord Prince, Lady Prince. It is an honor to have you in our home." He said formally, and smirked as he straightened up. "Sev, you certainly got lucky, didn't you?"
"I certainly did. Holly, do a turn for him."
Holly just grinned, and turned, and heard Malfoy make a choking sound. Severus looked very pleased- he'd helped her pick out the dress. She normally wouldn't have worn something so revealing, but she really did look good in it.
"Where on earth did you get a dress like that?"
"The muggle world. This is actually pretty conservative." Holly took her husband's arm once more. "Malfoy, you should probably stop staring now- Sev here might not be too happy."
Malfoy abruptly turned, and motioned for them to follow him. "You two should know we've got mixed company. Shacklebolt invited himself- considering who he is, we couldn't turn him away. He didn't bring his men with them, though, so I suppose that's a good thing."
Holly's eyes widened at this, and she hung back. "He's going to see me."
"It'll be fine. Just tell him that I invited you, and you were just trying to be polite, and you just happened to arrive with Sev. None of the other guests will say anything." Malfoy gave her a tight expression. "He's probably here to do a bit of snooping. We might have to keep him busy- you might be the best option for that."
Holly sighed at this, and the two followed their Host into the ballroom, where the rest of the guests were gathered. Many looked their way as they entered- Lady Malfoy approached them, looking quite elegant in a silvery blue gown.
"Lady Potter-Black, it is so good to see you again!" The woman said, her voice carrying. She leant in, kissing Holly's cheeks, whispering quietly. "I expect Draco told you about our univited guest?"
Holly nodded at this. "It is nice to see you again, Lady Malfoy." She said, bowing her head to her. She then spotted Shack coming out of the crowd, looking a bit shocked at the sight of her.
"And Severus dear, you're late- you should have come ages ago." Lady Malfoy said, her voice still carrying, kissing the man on both cheeks.
"I apologize- I was caught up with some work. I ran into Lady Potter here on the way- I was a bit shocked to see that she was coming."
"Well, Draco invited her, didn't you dear?" Narcissa led her away, towards some of the society women Holly had fought alongside in Knockturne. Lady Zabini was looking resplindent in a ruby red gown with a plunging neckline that showed off her...assets. The woman looked Holly over with a grin.
"My, my, don't you just look delicious, dear? Do a little turn for us, darling."
Holly laughed a little, turning for the women, showing off her gown. "And how are you, Lady Zabini?"
"Oh, I'm doing just fine." The beautiful woman said with a wicked grin. "And how are you doing? You were fashionably late to the party, I see, and you've got this flushed look about you...are you feeling well, darling?"
The other women chuckled at Holly's blush. "I'm doing just fine, thank you very much."
"Well, that lover of yours has a voracious appetite- other women have tried to keep up with it and have failed." The woman said with a playful whisper and wink. "But perhaps a nubile girl like you can keep up where others could not."
Lady Malfoy took pity on her, and took her around the room, introducing her to various people. Holly could see Shacklebolt staring at her the entire time, his gaze a mixture of angry, shock, and not a little bit of...interest.
Severus had already ingratiated himself with a group of older men, probably talking about his eventually got caught up in a conversation about Hogwarts, Beaubaxton, and Durmstrang- She was pleasantly suprised to see Viktor approaching the women she was speaking with.
He was...different than Holly remembered. Older, darker, somehow. More jaded. His hair had been grown out from the buzz cut he'd had years before, making him look older. His impressive physique was swathed in a snug dark indigo robe. The man was fairly quiet while the women spoke- one of the women there was apparently his Cousin. Holly hadn't heard that he'd come to the UK, so she was a bit suprised to see him.
His eyes lit up as he saw her, and the two hugged. "Merlin, Viktor, when did you get here?"
"Just a couple ov days ago." The man said, his accent clipped. "There were problems at Durmstrang."
One of the women spoke up, frowning a little. "Yes, I heard that they closed the school down just a couple of days ago, for 'restructuring'?"
Viktor's eyes darkened at this. "Yes. The school was the last place zat was safe vor us, in Romania. Many of the students already lost their families in ze attacks."
"Where are they going to go?" Holly asked softly, eyes wide.
"Some are wit friends, others, not so lucky. Those of us who are confirmed Dark wizards haf been arrested already." Krum looked around the room warily. "Some vill be coming soon, to the UK. The Malfoys and a few other families are kind enough to give us some room, when we arrive, even if they already have guests. I hear you are starting new school, yes?"
Holly nodded at this. "Yes, but it won't be ready for a while yet- we're working on it as fast as possible."
"I vill send some men, then. Ve have a couple of staff members too."
"Well, there is plenty of work. When the spring arrives, we hope to construct more homes on the various properties we already own- it's a little crowded right now, but we'll manage."
"Thank you." He took her hand, smiling gently. "You seem happy. You are married now, yes?"
Holly nodded. "Yes. I can hardly believe it, sometimes."
Krum gave her a small smile. "Fleur and you are both married-" He chuckled a little. "I vill be an old bachelor, compared to the two of you." He paused. "How is Hermione doing?"
Holly lowered her gaze. "She is...alright. She doesn't know about...anything. I just can't...trust her."
"It is understandable. No one can be trusted, not completely. I haf been fired from the team, for speaking out about ze attacks. I haf nothing to lose, anymore. I vill be helping here, okay?"
"Thank you, Viktor. I know we could certainly use the help."
The man glanced over her shoulder, expression darkening.
"Ze Minister is staring at us. You should probably not be seen talking with me... people are already suspecting that I am wit ze Dark."
"To him, I'm just talking to an old friend from the Triwizard tournament." She paused. "You take care of yourself, Viktor. I'll see you around- I should speak to the Minister now."
The man squeezed her hands, letting go. "It was good seeing you, 'olly." He said quietly, and walked away.
Holly turned, passing the group of women she'd been speaking to previously, her gaze meeting the Minister's. She approached him with a smile. "Good evening, Minister." She greeted. She saw his eyes go up and down her form, raising a brow.
"Miss Potter- I'm suprised to see you here."
Holly laughed a little, taking his arm, plucking a glass of champagne from a nearby House Elf's tray. Kingsley grabbed one as well. They began to walk. "Well, I was invited by Malfoy- couldn't say no and look rude, could I?"
"Still, it is dangerous, you being here." The man said quietly. "You know Lucius Malfoy was-"
"Lady Malfoy and his son aren't Deatheaters, Minister. And they've been perfectly hospitable to me." Holly bowed her head a little as they passed by the group of men that Severus was speaking with. "Hullo, Professor."
"Miss Potter." Her husband greeted with a cold expression. She knew he was just putting up a front for Kingsley, but it was still pretty good acting.
She and Kingsley kept walking, leaving the main ballroom, and into the corridor. Portraits stared at them with lidded eyes, saying nothing.
"Miss Potter, I must say, you look quite...grown up, this way."
"Thank you, Minister." Holly said with a smile, and took a sip of her champagne. "I got this dress in the muggle world, do you like it?"
The man made a show of looking her over again, and smiled a little. "I do. Very nice. You know, there is a Ministry party coming up, perhaps you would like to join me?"
Holly raised a brow. "Sir..."
"I mean, just as...ah, friends. I know you are dating Mr. Weasley, so I wouldn't try to interfere with that." Kingsley said quickly, but his eyes were saying something else.
Holly led the way towards an alcove, where there was a window seat. A small portrait sat on the wall closeby, but the old occupant was fast asleep in her chair- pretending to be asleep, more like it. Holly sat down, arranging her skirts, not replying to him. Kingsley sat down next to her, knocking back the rest of his champagne.
"Holly..." He glanced around. He took out his wand, and cast a silencing spell around them- ten feet, she thought the radius was- the portrait behind Kingsley was now watching them with slitted eyes. "I want to say something, but I'm not sure how to say it. I'm usually so well spoken, but when it comes to women, I'm kind of hopeless..." He cleared his throat, and Holly's brow arched. " I think you look beautiful." He took her hand, making her eyes widen. "Perhaps...we could come to some sort of arrangement. I-I know people would frown on me being with someone so...young, but...I have a lot to offer, perhaps-"
"Kingsley..." Holly said, leaning in close. "I'm afraid I will have to turn down your offer. I'm happy with Charlie, and I've never been a big fan of infidelity. I know I've only been seeing him for a little while, but it would look a little bad if I dumped him for you." She paused. "Thank you, though."
The man sighed, looking away. "You're too good, Holly. Too innocent for your own good. You'll see that, once you leave Hogwarts, things aren't so...clean cut." He looked down for a moment. "Holly, I feel as though I should let you know...there will be a raid on Malfoy Manor...1AM tonight. It would be best if you were not here. It's likely that some people may get hurt."
Holly's eyes widened at this. "I see."
"I shouldn't have told you- it's a major security breach, but I know I can trust you to keep this quiet, right?"
"...Of course." Holly murmured, knowing she wasn't going to keep quiet about this at all. "Would you...perhaps, want my assistance?" She asked, trying to fish for information.
"No, no, this is no place for you. I've got 150 men staked out around the property, just outside the wardlines. At exactly 1AM, we'll be cutting off the floo network to the property, and with the wards on this place, it'll be easy to get what we need done." The man frowned at this. "Many of the foreign guests here are Dark wizards, from abroad, some of the more influential ones. This raid is really important to the cause, and we can't afford any mistakes. If we ah...arrest everyone here, then it is likely that the Dark will be dealt a major blow that they have no chance of recooperating from."
Holly saw it in his face- Kingsley really believed that this was the right thing to do. And she knew that they weren't planning on arresting everyone, but killing them. It was murder. Genocide. Whatever you wanted to call it. "I wasn't aware that you had 150 men in your Auror Department, especcially ones who would be available to work on Yule."
"Oh, well, we've borrowed a few Hitwizards and Aurors from here and there- they're helping us out. If all goes well tonight, maybe we'll target some of the other Manors of associated Dark wizards in the area. These rich bastards have gotten away with shit for far too long."
"...Oh." Holly sighed, reaching up to straighten her hair a little, watching Shack watching her. "Well, honestly, I've had enough of fighting from the war...maybe it would be best for me to sit this one out. I do hope that you'll tell me how it went?" At the man's nod, she spoke a bit more. "I'll go home as soon as I can, make my excuses. Thank you for telling me."
"Maybe you could spare just one dance for me before you leave?"
"I don't see why not." Holly said with a little smile that she did not feel. Kingsley stood, holding out his hand to her. As she accepted it, she noticed that the portrait that had been listening to them was gone. Good. They walked down the corridor, and back into the ballroom.
Kingsley made a show of sweeping Holly out onto the dance floor- there was a photographer there- most likely for the society pages of the Daily Prophet. No doubt, they were taking pictures now. Holly had a smile on her face that she did not feel, looking over Kingsley's shoulder as they danced. How many men were waiting here? How many would die tonight? She hoped...none. Her mind raced, trying to figure out how to solve this problem- how to get everyone out, without alerting the Minister she'd tipped them off.
She spotted Lady Malfoy dancing with her son, the woman's eyes dark, looking to her for confirmation. Holly gave a subtle nod of her head, and the woman said something quietly to her son. The boy left his Mother's side, and Lady Malfoy approached the two of them with a smile on her face. Her son started speaking quietly to some of the other guests, just off of the dance floor. She had to hand it to all of these rich folk- their lives were in danger, and none of them even flinched.
"Minister, I would love to dance with you." Lady Malfoy said charmingly. "I'm sure Miss Potter wouldn't mind, would you dear?"
"Oh no, it's quite alright." Holly said with a smile, stepping back a bit. Kingssley's expression did not change as he began to dance with Lady Malfoy.
Not a moment later, Severus was taking her hand, and dancing with her. Their eyes met, and Holly could see the questions in his eyes. "Raid." She whispered, just as she could confirm that Kingsley had his back to them. "1AM, here."
Severus' hand tightened on hers, and he turned them around. "I see."
As he twirled her about, and brought her back, she asked. "What do we do?"
"I will come up with something." The man muttered, his lips barely moving.
Holly excused herself as soon as she could, going to the loo to powder her nose. No suprise, Lady Zabini and a few other women were in there already, looking pissed off. "Is it true?" Lady Zabini asked heatedly. "That...man is planning a raid here tonight?"
"Yes. He's got over 150 men staked out just outside the wards. They're planning on cutting off the floo network. They say that if all goes well tonight, they plan on raiding the other manors." She whispered, glancing towards the door. "Severus is trying to come up with a plan."
Lady Zabini looked thoughtful. "Those of us who are hosting guests in our home have already made preparations for something like this. We were planning on waiting to raise the Fidelis on our homes until after Yule, but it is obvious that it cannot wait." She motioned to herself and some of the other women there.
"Severus and I have to go back to Knockturne tonight, to do the wards there- we have to be there, but I don't want to leave you guys on your own, either."
"Dear, we can handle ourselves just fine." Lady Zabini stated, pulling out a long golden chain from her corset. On it, was a piece of jet at the very end. "We all have portkeys prepared, just for an emergency such as this. We will all go to our homes, taking our guests with us, and raise the Fidelis tonight. We will have to wait until shortly before 1AM, so as to not alert anyone of what is going on. Those who are unable to fight will leave earlier, slowly, in shifts-"
The loo door opened, revealing Lady Malfoy- she looked visibly relieved when she saw Holly.
"Lady Prince, good, you haven't left yet. My son and I have spread the word about the Raid- the elves have already started transporting some of our youngest children from the drawing room to Knockturne." She looked to Lady Zabini and the other women. "Ladies, do you have your portkeys prepared?"
There were nods at this, and Lady Zabini held out her long chain.
"Good. Now, we can't use them until midnight. They are working on the wards now- I checked on them. We have approximately two hours until they attack. They could be early, or late, but we still need to be prepared. Lady Prince, I know you and your husband are needed at Knockturne within the hour- we can handle this on our own."
Holly gave the woman a thin smile. "I don't want to leave- are you sure you will all be alright here? What if they attack early?"
"I will know when they break the wards. We plan on getting everyone out straight away, and raising the Fidelis before anyone can actually reach the property. We will be just fine, Lady Prince. Now, go, before that...Minister figures out what's going on."
Holly nodded quickly at this, and she reached over, squeezing Lady Malfoy's hand. "I will see you soon, then?"
Holly left Malfoy Manor just after 11PM, taking the floo to Gringott's. The Goblins didn't look at her twice as she headed for the 'downstairs entrance', as they had taken to calling it. The general public didn't know of it yet, and it would stay that way. She gave a quick nod to the guards as she passed- and a few wizards too. More than one turned their heads, looking after her.
Holly took off her shoes, not caring if she got her feet or the hem of her dress dirty- the tunnels weren't paved completely yet, so the stone and dirt was cold and rough against her feet as she began to walk quite quickly.
"Lady Prince?" She heard someone ask- she turned, and out of the shadows came a very pale man. A vampire.
"I'm sorry- I'm in a hurry- I have to prepare for the wards."
"I know. Is something the matter?"
"There's a raid happening at Malfoy Manor tonight. We're trying to get everyone out before it occurs- thankfully we got some warning this time. I wish I could be there when it happens, but I've got to be here." She gave him a thin smile- "What is your name?"
"Donato. You look cold."
"I left my cloak behind. I'm sorry, I really must go. It was nice meeting you, Donato."
She hurried towards her property, through the underground entrance. She wanted to change her clothes, and check on the kids before she started working on the wards. She silently fretted all the way while she changed her clothes for the evening. Trousers, boots, a sweater, her heavy coat (it was rather cold out), and her kercheif- and she was ready to go. She was sprinting down the stairs, taking two steps at a time- just as she reached the door, it opened, revealing Severus.
"How'd everything go?"
"All of those who cannot fight, in case there is trouble, have left the Manor. All that remains are the more capable duelists. They will be taking portkeys out, just before 1AM. Kingsley was still there when I left. We've got fifteen minutes to get prepared for the wards-"
"I know, I know..."
At 12:59AM, a great many things occurred.
At Malfoy Manor, Portkeys began to activate, taking large groups out of the ballroom, all at once. Kingsley, who'd been just by the entrance to the ballroom, fingering his wand in his pocket, trying to mentally prepare himself for the battle, was shocked at the sight. They had known. Somehow, they had known. It did not even occur to him at the time that he himself had divulged the information.
Within the next minute, the groups spread out amongst the various Manors of other well-to-do Dark wizards, and they quickly worked to raise the Fidelis on the properties. With such large groups, and earlier preparation, it was quite easy to do.
In addition to the Fidelis being raised on these properties, the Fidelis was now raised in Knockturne Alley. Suddenly, thousands of witches and wizards had no knowledge of where the notorious shopping district was. Also, in that moment, the entrance to Knockturne from Diagon Alley was forever more sealed, and the other Entrance was opened. A wall sat at the end of Diagon, right across from Gringott's, and no one even knew what laid beyond.
At 1:00AM exactly, Aurors crashed into the Ballroom of Malfoy Manor. The only person there was Narcissa Malfoy, who was sipping Champagne casually. She knew she would be unable to raise the Fidelis on her own, and she refused to allow anyone else to get hurt. And she certainly wouldn't leave the Manor. Even her elves had left, accompanying her son to Knockturne, along with six expanded trunks full of rare books and artifacts. That was what mattered to her- Draco, those priceless books and artifacts, and the thought that she'd managed to keep everyone safe and calm in the face of danger.
At 1:01AM, Draco Malfoy no longer had a Mother. And Lord and Lady Prince were collapsing to the ground, exhausted from the ritual they had just done. The twenty five around them quickly rushed to their aid, a happy, jubilant feeling in the air.
Holly was awoken by a loud hammering noise. She groaned, pulling her pillow atop her head. She ached all over, in places she didn't even know could hurt. "Make it stop." She said, her voice muffled.
"I'm afraid I can't, Holly." Severus said, sitting on the edge of the bed. "You've been asleep all morning. How do you feel?"
"Exhausted. And sore." Holly sighed, pushing the pillow off of her, sitting up slowly. She was still dressed in her clothes from the night before, though she noticed Severus was not. "How long have you been awake?"
"A couple of hours." The man said, and they both looked out as the hammering began once again.
"What are they doing out there?"
"Rooftop work, to reinforce the wards from up above. Remember the beams I told you about?"
"Oh yeah." Holly mumbled, holding her head. "Any word about the raid?"
Severus looked away, frowning a little. "Yes."
"Well? Did everyone get out safely?"
"...Not everyone." Severus paused. "Lady Malfoy remained behind. They managed to get everyone else out, even the elves. They also raised the Fidelis on the others' properties without a hitch. Lady Malfoy...unfortunately, remained behind with her home-"
"...No...tell me she isn't..." Holly breathed, sitting up on her knees.
"She's dead. The official story, according to the Daily Prophet-" His mouth thinned at this. "Is that she committed suicide."
"Is in our guest room. I hope you don't mind."
Holly groaned, flopping back into the pillows. "Well, we can't turn him away, can we? He's your Godson."
"Thank you. Everyone obviously noticed that they did not know where Knockturne was, any longer, or any of the Dark Wizards that lived within. I'm sure it will be in the evening paper, talking about how we're all a bunch of cowards. I...must return to the school. Albus will undoubtedly want some answers."
"What are you going to tell him?" Holly asked.
"That I do not know anything...that I left the party before midnight, and got smashed in a pub, and woke with a hangover in a rented room- which is why I arrived so late."
Holly smiled a little at this. " ...I guess I should go make some breakfast. You think Malfoy will want some?"
"...Perhaps. Though I doubt it."
The girl sighed. "Yeah, I guess you're right."
Holly side-apparated to the front gates of Prince Manor with Severus. Severus had already raised the Fidelis on the property, and construction was about to begin. The Space had already been expanded inside the Manor, making it large enough to hold about 500 people.
It was snowing out, and cold- Holly shivered inside her coat, burrowing against Severus' side. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and the two looked up at the home on the large hill, which was surrounded by barren farmland and snow. The gates were quite tall and oppressive looking, much like the house.
"...It looks kind of scary." Holly said quietly.
"Yes, well...hopefully, that will change. Come on, let's get inside."
Holly nodded, and the two walked up the pathway, using magic to push the snow aside. Severus spoke. "I've already been talking to the architects- they're planning on putting small cottages around the farmland, and around the Manor. I could care less what they do, but they want to be able to have quite a few people living here."
"I know- I spoke to Fleur- apparently we've got a huge waiting list for housing now. I would really like everyone to get situated as quickly as possible." Holly murmured.
They entered the Manor, and Holly looked around a bit at the foyer.
"The doorways have been widened quite a bit, and the Foyer has been enlarged, much like many of the other rooms." He said, walking the two of them through the sitting room, and then the parlor. They were both devoid of furniture and things. "These will be communal spaces, much like the kitchen and the dining hall. The library will be converted into a small nursery and school room for those children that will be too young to attend the school in Knockturne."
He showed her the library, and she nodded at this. "I hope that this place will be brightened up a little- it's rather dreary."
"You and me both." He showed her a room which had been converted into a pantry, and the kitchen. It was huge. They looked into the dining hall- it was just a little smaller than the Great Hall in Hogwarts, and not nearly as welcoming looking. Holly hoped to change that. Maybe instead of longer tables, they could have a lot of smaller, round tables...something a bit more intimate.
"The cellar will be converted into basement apartments- as will the bedrooms upstairs." The man said, as the two headed up the stairs.
"How big will these apartments be?"
"About the same size as the ones in Knockturne. We would be able to fit a family of four comfortably. Any larger than that, they would have to be put up in one of the cottages." They went up the stairs, exploring the rooms a little more- indeed, all of the bedrooms had been expanded quite a bit, blank canvases for the workers to build apartments in.
There were three floors of this, up above, and one floor of apartments in the cellar- 25 apartments were on each floor. On the highest level, which used to be the observatory, there were to be six larger loft apartments, reserved for larger families. That was a total of 106 apartments in the Manor, easily giving enough living space for 500. Holly marveled at the magic involved- without those expanding runes, there would have been a lot less space available.
As they headed back downstairs, Severus stiffened as he felt the wards accept new visitors. "Ah, the others have arrived to the foyer. Let's go talk to them." Holly nodded at this, smiling. The two of them walked down the staircase, seeing three different groups of workers talking to one another. They all looked towards the staircase as they saw Holly and Severus walking down.
"We were just touring the house." Severus said, keeping his arm around Holly's shoulders. "Wanted to make sure everything was ready for your arrival."
Holly then spotted Draco, who was still looking a bit pale, but very business-like. Last she'd seen him, he was in their guest room, buried in paperwork, not wanting to talk to anyone. He was wearing black robes, and had a briefcase in his hands, along with some file folders.
"Lord Prince, Lady Prince." The blonde greeted curtly.
"Good morning, Lord Malfoy, what brings you here today?" Holly said as the two stepped off the staircase.
"I wanted to assist the workers in getting this sorted out. This is Gustav, Hendrik, and Lars, they'll be leading the teams today, putting the framework up. I'd like for this property to be ready for habitation by the end of January, so I thought that I could keep them on a timetable-"
Holly's brows raised. "Of course, the sooner the better. Fleur was just telling us this morning that there is a long waiting list on housing." She glanced to Severus, who clearly wanted to speak to his Godson privately. "Tell you what, gentlemen-" She spoke to the men, who were all looking at her avidly. "Why don't all of you get started- I'll make some tea and coffee in the kitchen, for those who want some."
The men quickly went their seperate ways, taking their equipment and supplies with them- many of them bowing to Holly as they went- Severus quickly took Draco aside, speaking to him privately behind a silencing spell.
Not a few minutes later, Draco was cancelling the spell, looking irritated. "Look, Sev, I can handle it, okay? I have to have something to do, I just can't sit around moping about Mother. She knew what the risks were, she knew what she was doing, okay?"
"...If you are sure, Draco. I just don't want you pushing yourself too hard." Severus stated quietly.
"I won't. I'm going to go upstairs." And off he went.
On the last day before term started up again, Holly was meeting up with a large mixed group of people in the underground chamber in Knockturne. Holly didn't know about the meeting until the last minute, until Fleur told her and Severus. The two of them had been terribly busy throughout the holidays, but Holly liked keeping busy when it came to something she loved doing.
Despite the attack in Malfoy Manor, the arrival of the Durmstrang students had given a fresh jolt of energy- many of the younger children had been put up in the Greengrass' Manor, until construction could be completed on various projects. Most of their parents had either remained behind in Bulgaria or in Romania, or had already been arrested (or killed). Hence, there were numerous more children without parents- they were a bit frightened, but were welcomed warmly.
There was talk of doing something similar to the Zabini, Greengrass, Bulstrode, and Nott Manors like that had been done to the Prince Manor. Malfoy Manor remained unoccupied, as the Property had been completely trashed the night of the raid. Draco had not returned there since his Mother's death, and probably wouldn't return until after the school year was completely over.
The Fidelis was raised on all of the Potter and Black cottages and farmland, and many other properties were doing the same. With new people pouring in everyday, Knockturne was becoming quite crowded- everyone was eager for winter to be over so that more properties could be built.
Which led to this meeting.
Holly, who'd been working with a rather large group of children that day, was already feeling rather tired, but jubilant. She had been working alongside a group of other young women- older sisters, mothers, and other volunteers, trying to look after the kids and keep them busy (and out of trouble).
Severus had spent the morning with some of the staff for the new school as they were trying to work on curriculum. They were eager to have the school up and running by the upcoming fall- the influx of new children and new staff members were welcomed, but it required some changes. So he was a bit harried as well, having spent the morning arguing over supply costs and things.
So when Fleur dragged them to an Important Meeting, they went...reluctantly. Holly was wearing a plain black dress, with her apron, jacket, and boots- she had charcoal and paint on her apron, and her hair was rather mussed. She also had a few small toys in the pockets of her apron and jacket. Severus looked the same as always- impressive looking in his black teaching robes.
The room that they arrived to was just under the main tunnel- a single table sat there, with people sitting on either side. Holly recognized some faces, while others she did not.
Fleur took her arm, taking Severus' other arm, leading them to the Head of the table.
"What is this?" Severus asked, looking around.
"We decided to make a Governing Council, of sorts." Bill said from his seat. Fleur sat next to him. "We've been in the planning stages for a while, and everyone you see here has been chosen to represent various facets of Knockturne City and our Allies."
"Oh." Holly murmured, sitting down. Severus sat down next to her- they were both at the Head of the table.
"Let's do introductions, shall we?" Fleur began, and stood. "As many of you know, I am Fleur Delacour, and I am Bill Weasley's wife. I work in ze Office, placing families into their new homes and getting them the assitance they need when zey first arrive here."
She sat down, and Bill stood next to her. "I'm Bill Weasley, and I work as a cursebreaker and warder for Gringott's, Knockturne, and our Allies. I am representing the Warder and Cursebreaker Guild."
Bill sat, motioning to the elderly woman at his side. She did not stand up, though, probably not wanting to move- she looked positively ancient. "I am Hope Monroe. Even though I'm a relatively recent transplant here to Knockturne City, I'm pretty well connected with the Squib community here in the UK, and in the USA. Yes, I'm a Yank-" There were some chuckles at this. "But I wholeheartedly support what you guys are doin' here. I represent many of the Squibs that are coming to settle down in this place."
She motioned to Lord Greengrass, who pursed his lips a little as he stood and spoke up. "I am Lord Greengrass. My Family is one of the major Greenhouse and Potions Suppliers in the country. I will be representing the local suppliers and their needs."
Lady Zabini spoke, not even bothering to stand. "I'm sure all of you know who I am." She laughed voraciously. "I am Lady Zabini, and I am but one of many of the more wealthy wizarding families that have offered their homes to our guests. I represent our interests." She said with a little smirk. She turned to the young man next to her, winking at him. "Your turn, darling."
Viktor stood, smiling nervously, not batting an eyelash at Lady Zabini's flirtation. "Many ov you probably know me if you follow ze Quidditch Leagues- I am Viktor Krum, and I used to be Seeker for the National Bulgarian Quidditch Team. I am an Alumni of Durmstrang, which currently closed down for...restructuring. I was fired from my job when I spoke out about ze attacks. I represent all of zose who have recently come here from Durmstrang, and wish to be involved in ze making of the new school here in Knockturne."
A rather pale man with dark hair stood smoothly, adjusting his hair a little. Holly thought he looked a little familiar. He was rather handsome looking. "I am Donato Von Ciccio, and I have been chosen to represent the Vampire Coven that is growing exponentially under Knockturne City. All of you have been very welcoming to all of us, and we are eager to assist in any way we can. Currently, we are working with the Goblins-" He motioned to the Goblin who sat across from him- " On the underground tunnels and chambers, so that they will be accessable to travelers, and for habitation. Our coven is mostly self-sufficient, and usually like to be left alone, we will not cause any problems for any of you."
The man next to him stood, frowning a little. He was rather tall and looked to be older, but not as old as Monroe. "I am Lord Escobar. I am one of the leading authors on magico textos on the Continente...or I was, anyways." He said, his accent heavy. "I am going to be working with all of the staff in our research facilities. We have staff from all over the world, and I believe we have some of the best and brightest minds gathered here in our little cuidad. I represent their interests."
Holly glanced to Severus, who gave a respectful nod to the man as he sat down once more. She assumed that Severus knew him, then.
Winky, who was next to speak, stood up in her chair, tugging on her apron a little. "I am Winky. I is being chosen to Represent House Elves in the Council. We is being very honored to be allowed on the Council. We is having lots more elveses now, lots of work to be doing. We are very happy with how everything be going so far." She paused at this, tugging on her ear a little. Some of the others looked somewhat amused at this- though both Severus and Holly took the little elf seriously. "I is Lord and Lady's Personal House Elf. All communication with them is through me." She puffed her chest out at this. "And if anyones be wanting to hurt Lord and Lady Prince, they is being dealing with me first!" She thumbed her chest at this.
Escobar chuckled at this, and Holly spoke, glaring at him slightly, and softening her gaze on Winky.
"Thank you very much, Winky." She spoke to the group at large. "The House Elves are an integral part of our society, and should be given the respect that they deserve. One of my friends, Dobby, gave his life for me during the war. I will be forever grateful to him, and to all of his friends."
Winky nodded tearfully at this, and plopped back down into her seat.
A young woman stood, adjusting her glasses a little. She had brown hair that was pulled back, and she wore muggle clothing underneath her robe. She was a little mousy looking, but Holly...kind of liked her. She gave off a good vibe.
"I am Anna Ostrovskaya . I am part of ze tech team that is in charge of bringing our leetle city into the 21st century. We have equipped ze muggle building with tech and internet connections, and are researching a way to allow magic and technology to work together. We are also in charge of ze library, and are putting a research database together." Holly looked to be really the only one who was not completely lost.
She couldn't help but speak up. "I'm very excited about this, Ms. Ostrovskaya- I know that the muggles have made some amazing techonological breakthroughs, and I can't wait to learn how to use a computer properly."
The young woman looked pleased with this. "We will be teaching ze computer classes when school is starting. I know we would be happy to have you. You knowing muggle technology?"
"I grew up in the muggle world, and so did Severus. We're both halfbloods." Some looked a bit suprised at this information, especcialy those who had known Severus. The man confirmed this with a nod- he'd never been really open about his heritage before- Holly refused to let people believe that she was pureblooded, lying like Voldemort had.
Fred Weasley cleared his throat awkwardly, breaking the silence. "Speaking of innovation, I am one of the owners of WWW, over in Diagon. I represent our Allied shopkeepers over there. George, my twin brother, and I, hope to work with both the muggle-style techs-" He motioned to Ostrovskaya at this, who smiled a little. "And the researchers over at the school-" And he motioned to Escobar, who didn't look so happy. "To invent some new gear to make everyone's lives a little easier."
"Well, if anyone can do it, you two can." Holly said with a little smile.
Fred then motioned to the man next to him. "Kavi and I represent all of the shopkeeprs- both in Diagon and Knockturne, and because there are so many of us, we usually have meetings once a week to keep on top of things. Mr. Rana?"
The Indian man next to Fred spoke up. He seemed middle-aged, and rather on the portly side. "I am Kavi Rana. I have been chosen to represent the Shopkeepers in Knockturne. I am honored to have been chosen, and I will do my best to work with the Council. My family owns the Indian restaurant in Knockturne, though we hope to expand when we can. Thank you for being so welcoming."
The Goblin next to him spoke up, not moving to stand. "I am Flintaxe. I have been chosen to represent Gringott's interests in Knockturne City, and in her Allies." He said curtly, but did not elaborate.
The man next to him raised his brows, leaning forward a little. "...Alright, I guess I'm last, then?" He laughed a little. "I'm Lucas Mueller. I'm the Beta for one of the many werewolf packs that have arrived to the UK. Our numbers were decimated during the attacks, but a good number of us still remain. While we aren't living in Knockturne, we certainly shop here, and we hope to have our cubs attending the school here as well. We're still trying to figure out who the main pack leaders are, since the dynamics have been changing around a lot. Either my wife or I will be attending the meetings here. I know we're all grateful for the space you've given us, as well as the wolfsbane supply." He nodded to Severus at this. "Not many would be willing to help us out, but you guys have, so...thanks. We'd really like to give back to the community that has helped us so much."
Severus stood, holding out his hand for Holly. "Thank you, everyone. Holly and I have been very busy with what little time we have here in Knockturne. We both return to Hogwarts in the morning, and I know that things couldn't run smoothly without all of you."
Fleur spoke up. "We plan on having an annual election, so that other people will get the chance to be a part of the council. We want this to be a sort of...soverign democracy." She said with a little smile.
Winky hopped in her chair at this, while Holly and Severus glanced at one another.
"Lord and Lady Prince, while we may be the Council, it is you two that are the ones that truly represent us." Lady Zabini said, grinning a bit. "Even the children think of you as some sort of royalty, and we certainly aren't stopping them. Whatever happens with this council, everyone knows that you two will have the last say. We know the both of you have level heads, and will lead us in the right direction."
Holly's eyes widened at this, and she looked to Severus. Severus spoke. "Thank you, Lady Zabini." He said, looking a little uncomfortable. "All of you must remember that we're not just...Lord and Lady Prince. I am a Potions Master, a teacher; while Holly is still a student. While those things may change in time, we hope to persue other things as well- like having a family."
Holly blushed a little at this, looking down.
Severus continued to speak. "So while we are looked at as Leaders of this community, we certainly cannot do it on our own. Thank you all, for your time, and for volunteering. We could not do it without you."
Everyone stood, clapping politely. Holly spoke up, raising her hand to quiet them a bit. "Let's end this meeting here for now- thank you, all of you, for organizing this today. I know we all have a lot of work to do. Should any of you need to get a hold of us while we are at the school, please contact Winky-" The elf bounced a little at this, looking eager. " Let's get to work, shall we?"
The next day, Holly was riding on the Hogwarts Express, feeling a little off kilter. She'd gotten her period that morning. She'd actually been a little late in getting it, and she'd actually hoped...well, it didn't matter anyways. She was looking out the window, watching the countryside zoom by.
She was alone, for once, and was relishing in it. The last two weeks of the holidays had been quite hectic. She hoped that things would calm a bit, but she knew it probably wasn't likely. Draco was understandably upset about having to go back to the school- neither of them really wanted to return, but they had to. If only to finish out the year, and to look after the students. They had a good amount of other work going on, and it was...hard to concentrate.
Her compartment door creaked open, and Holly turned to see Angela poking her head in. "May I sit with you, Miss Holly?" the girl asked quietly.
"Of course, Angela." Holly said, motioning to the seat across from her. Instead, the girl went to her side, hugging her tightly, starting to cry.
Holly's eyes widened at this, and she held the girl. "Angela, what's wrong?"
"I don't want to go back to Hogwarts. Ever since Penny left, I-I haven't any friends, and-"
"Shh, shh, it's alright." Holly rocked the girl, letting her cry it out. "You two are exchanging letters still, right?"
"Yes. I just...miss her, is all." The girl said, sniffling a little. Holly held her close, and sighed.
"I'm sure you do. I miss some of my friends too, from time to time- it's nothing to be ashamed of."
"I just...when I first came to Hogwarts, I was so excited about learning magic, and seeing the magical world, and learning all that I could about it- and...now...everyone teases me, and I just...miss her, is all. She would always stand up for me when the others teased me..." She looked down, wiping a tear away quickly. "The only reason why I haven't begged my Mum and Dad to send me back to muggle school is 'cos you're here. What am I going to do next term, when you've graduated?"
Holly brushed the girl's hair back a little, giving her a small smile. "I'll still be around, Angela. Even if I'm not at the school, you can still write to me- maybe we could even visit on the hols or something. I make time to see Penny, and I'll make time to see you. You know..." She dropped her voice, whispering playfully. "I''m supposed to have favorites, but I think you two are my favorites out of all the first years."
"Really?" Angela said, looking up at her with tearful eyes.
"Yeah. Here." Holly took out her hankercheif from her pocket, and wiped her tears away. "Let's get you all sorted out, hmm?"
Holly smiled as she saw Luna and Neville waiting for her on the front steps of Hogwarts, along with Ron, Hermione, and Ginny. The rest of the students who'd left for the holidays (not many), passed by them silently. Ron glared at Malfoy, who ignored him, and passed on by.
"Holly!" Hermione hugged her tightly, dislodging Angela from Holly's arms. The first year stepped aside quickly, so as not to get crushed. "It's good to see you again- how's the muggle world?"
"Hmm, it's alright. I was mostly catching up on my reading, actually. It was nice and quiet." Holly said, lying through her teeth. She hugged Ron, who frowned a little.
"You were in the Daily Prophet." Ron said stiffly.
Holly blinked at this, and Hermione spoke up, her lips pursing. "I guess you took a break from all that reading to attend a ball at Malfoy Manor?"
Holly shifted uncomfortably. She did remember seeing a glimpse of her picture in the Daily Prophet, but she'd been too busy dealing with other things to pay much attention to it. "I was invited- I couldn't say no, that would have been a bit rude. Angela, let's get you inside- it's cold out here." The girl nodded quickly, sensing the tension around them. The group headed into the foyer, and Ron spoke up.
"What were you doing there, Holly?" He hissed, eyes narrowing. "Malfoy and his lot are bad news- did you hear that his mum committed suicide the day after? I bet she was all mopey 'cos old Lucius wasn't there-"
"Ron, shut it." Neville said, his tone angry. Holly was a bit taken aback by this, not expecting it.
"Well, it's true."
Luna spoke serenely. "I don't think she would do such a thing. I bet the Ministry conspired to kill her." She said, making Ron laugh- even Hermione looked as though she didn't believe her.
Holly knew better, though. Ginny and Neville did not join in on Ron's laughter- they were silent as they headed into the Great Hall. Holly squeezed Angela's shoulder. "Angela, come see me if anyone gives you trouble, alright?"
"I will. Thank you, Miss Holly." Angela whispered. Luna exchanged a look with Holly, letting her know she'd watch over her too. She followed the girl to the Ravenclaw table.
Holly followed her housemates to the Gryffindor table, not feeling all that happy. She sat down across from Neville and Ginny, with Ron and Hermione on either side of her. She felt...claustrophobic, all of a sudden.
"So, what did you lot do during the hols?" Holly asked them.
Ron spoke up, looking a little smug. "Kinglsey talked with us again. We're going to start training as soon as school lets out, isn't that great?"
"That's great, Ron." Holly said, but didn't sound so enthusiastic.
Ron motioned vaguely to Neville. "Course, this one had to be a party-pooper and turn Shack's offer down! No matter, it'll be the three of us again, like old times. You think they'll let us all team up together, rather than just the two-"
"I'm not going to be an Auror, Ron." Holly cut in, making the boy's jaw drop. Hermione, on the other hand, didn't look all that suprised.
"What? But...why?" Ron asked, eyes widening.
Hermione spoke instead. "She's going to be teaching here at Hogwarts, of course. I'm not suprised, Holly, you're so good at teaching, and with kids-'
"I turned the Headmaster's offer down too." Holly said, starting to put food on her plate, feeling a little irritated. Now both of her friends were staring at her, looking a bit aghast.
Hermione then spotted Ginny's expression- "Ginny, you knew?"
"Well...I kind of figured it out." Ginny said, looking a little sheepish. "Anyways, it's not that big of a deal- you know Holly, she'll figure something out." Holly gave the girl a thankful look.
"But...I just don't understand- what are you going to do, Holly? I mean, what else could you possibly be good at?" Hermione asked, looking confused.
Holly frowned at this. "Hey, I'm good at other things besides dueling and teaching, you know."
"What, cooking and cleaning muggle style?" Ron snorted, rolling his eyes. "I guess after living with the muggles, you'd make a pretty good house elf, eh?"
Holly glared at him. "As a matter of fact, Ron, those skills are very useful to anyone."
"It's just, you aren't that terribly bright, Holly, everyone knows I have the best grades in our year-" Hermione prattled on. Holly's hand twitched at this, wanting to hex the girl. She raised her eyes to Neville, who was looking her straight in the eye, looking as though he completely understood.
Holly stood abruptly. "I'm going to my rooms. I'm tired- I think I'll turn in early." And she left the Great Hall. She headed for the doors, glancing over her shoulder to see Neville convincing Ron and Hermione to stay behind. She'd have to thank him later.
Term started up again, and Holly was still as busy as ever. On top of her duties as Head Girl, she was facing her upcoming NEWT classes, and the upcoming DADA project she and Malfoy were working on. They had already done the Dueling Units for the second, third, fourth, and fifth years. In the spring term, they would have to do the first, sixth, and seventh years- some of the tougher ones to accomplish. The first years were tough because they were so inexperienced, and neither of them were quite sure how to teach Defense to somone so young- Quirrel had been their Defense Professor, after all, and his boring lectures filled with inaudible stutters was hard to understand.
And the sixth and seventh year students would be hard to teach because they were closest in age, and they had fought in the war. There were certainly some...trust issues at play, here.
Holly began to avoid Ron and Hermione- they were pestering her more than ever now. An unfortunate side affect was that she could not spend as much time with Ginny, Luna, and Neville- though she really wanted to. She missed them.
It was just...so...frustrating to be around them, Ron especcially. More than once, she barely kept herself from cursing him.
Late one night, Holly and Severus were snogging in her room- they had both been quite frustrated and annoyed with...everything else going on that they were kind of snappish with each other. It had led to a brief argument something stupid, and now they were making up.
Holly and Severus were griding together underneath the sheets and blankets, trying their best to keep warm. Holly was underneath Severus, and he was rubbing his dick back and forth against her slit teasingly.
"Fuck, Severus, please..." She groaned.
He kissed her hard, reaching down to guide himself into her- Holly hummed as she was filled, toes curling in pleasure as he slowly slid in all the way to the hilt. They kissed again, and he groped her chest, pinching her nipples. She arched up a little at this, letting out a groan.
He kissed and nibbled on her neck- Holly began to feel a little warm. "Sev, please...faster?"
He began to thrust in and out of her a little faster- she pulled her legs up, changing the angle a little. She gasped as she saw stars. "Yes, yes, yes...oh fuck, don't stop..."
Severus kissed her again, stopping her begging and pleading. His hips slammed into hers, making the bed rock a little. She gasped, and they kissed again- Severus pulled away, and whispered quietly.
"I want to knock you up."
Holly felt her orgasm appraching at these words...oh wow. She nodded, feeling a little breathless. "Yes. Do it." She whispered.
He put his weight atop her even more, hips jerking faster and faster. He was breathing heavily in her ear, and Holly clutched him tightly, desperately. "Yes...please...please...knock me up. Make me a Mummy...oh...oh fuck..." She twitched as her orgasm came, shuddering, toes curling. "Oh...sir, please?"
His breathing began to grow rougher, and she could feel his thrusts getting erratic. The bed was shaking now- her legs were feeling kind of limp, her head fuzzy- he let out a soft groan as he came inside her. "Yessss..." He groaned.
Holly turned her head a little, smiling a bit, feeling his semen filling her up- it was so warm. He'd done it so many times now, and it never got old. A tear slipped from the corner of her eye, her breathing shallow- she felt Severus pull out, his cum dripping out of her, and onto the sheets. He rolled off of her, after kissing her again. She put her hands on her tummy, imagining that she really could be getting pregnant right then.
It was a really nice thought. Severus laid beside her, breathing heavily, draping an arm over his eyes. "...Wow." He murmured.
He glanced at her, his eyes going down to her stomach. Holly turned to face him, smiling a little. "...Sorry. Just daydreaming, I guess." She whispered.
"No...it's nothing to apologize, for."
There was a sudden brisk knock on her door that had the both of them freezing. They sat up abruptly, quietly panicking. Severus got off the bed, grabbing his clothes quickly, and going to the loo. Holly grabbed her dressing robe, used a few cleaning charms, and yanked the covers up on her bed. She attempted to straighten her hair, just as there was another knock on the door.
"I'm coming!" She heard the loo door lock quietly.
Holly made sure that everything was covered up as best as possible, hoping this was just a first year or something, and not a staff member...
She opened her door a crack, peeking out. It was the Headmaster, and he looked quite serious.
"Um...Headmaster. It's...kind of late. What's going on?"
"You are needed at St. Mungo's." The Headmaster stated. "Nymphadora Tonks requested for you."
Holly gasped. "Is...she..."
"I will allow you to get dressed, but we need to move quickly."
Holly nodded. "Excuse me. I'll be right out." And she closed the door.
She ran to go change her clothes- she pulled on an oversized sweater and one of her skirts- she yanked on some knickers, socks, and shoes. Severus poked his head out of the door, fully dressed.
"I have to go to St. Mungo's. Tonks is having the baby."
"I'll be back soon. Love you." She whispered, kissing her husband. "Try not to get caught sneaking out?"
Severus shook his head. "Slytherins don't get caught."
She stuck her tongue out at him as she threw her jacket on, slipping her wand into her jacket pocket. And she headed out the door.
Holly followed the Headmaster down the corridor- she frowned a little as she saw Shack there, and Moody, talking quietly to each other. Where were Andy and Ted?
They heard a loud scream coming from the hospital room- Holly gasped, wanting to go in, but the Headmaster held her back.
"She'll be fine, don't worry." The Headmaster said.
Shack and Moody looked at her, frowning. "You know about Tonks gettin' knocked up?" Moody grunted.
Holly fidgeted, but did not answer him. She glanced away.
"Holly, please, tell us the truth. Why would you hide such a thing?"
"Tonks was...ashamed, okay? You know how old fashioned the wizarding world is. I wanted to help her." Holly said, keeping her gaze lowered to the floor.
"Still, you should have told one of us! We've been trying to contact her for months, thinking she's been kidnapped or killed, and-" Moody growled, looking sincerely distressed. "And you've kept it secret all this time!"
"It makes me wonder what other secrets you're hiding." Shack said quietly, staring right at her.
Holly sighed, ignoring Shack's statement- she would freak out privately later. "Look, I just wanted to help her out. I mean, she's our friend, she was with us in the Order."
"Did you know it was Lupin's baby?" Shack asked, eyes narrowing.
Holly knew she couldn't lie about this. "Yes." She said quietly.
"It's illegal for werewolves to reproduce for a reason." Moody growled.
"Where is Andy and Ted?"
"Mr. And Mrs. Tonks are at the Ministry for questioning." Shack said. Holly rounded on him angrily- he held up his hands before she could speak. "And you are very, very lucky we haven't taken you there either." He said, eyes narrowing.
There was another scream. "Please! Let me just go inside!" Holly cried. "I'm supposed to be the baby's Godmother-"
She was cut off with a wail of a baby. She headed for the door, shrugging off the Headmaster's hand from her arm. Shacklebolt grabbed her arm now, grip tightening on her wrist. Holly glared at the Minister, just itching to curse him, and he knew it too.
"Really, Kingsley, there's no need for such violence." The Headmaster said, shaking his head. "Holly, come here. You'll see Miss Tonks when the Healer says it is okay to see her."
"You're going to take the baby, aren't you?" Holly snarled at Shack, hating him.
The man did not answer her. He just let go of Holly. Holly grudgingly returned to the Headmaster's side, doing her best to control herself. She shrugged off the Headmaster's hand on her shoulder. He looked understanding, he really did, but Holly didn't care.
The Healer came out, looking strangely at Holly for a moment, and then looked to the Minister.
"You may see her now."
Holly did her best to get in before the others, hurrying to Tonks' side. Tonks laid on the bed, her hair cycling through a number of wild colors. She looked completely exhausted, and she was holding a small bundle in a blue blanket in her arms. She was looking down at the baby with a sad smile.
Holly went to her side, and Tonks looked at her. "Wotcher."
"Hey...how are you feeling?"
"Awful." She halfheartedly glared at Moody and Shack. "Moody cornered me at the grocery, scared me half to death. Went into labor a bit early." She looked down at the bundle. "Holly, meet Teddy Remus Tonks." She whispered, handle the bundle to her, a tear falling down her cheek.
Holly held the bundle in her arms, staring at the small red-faced baby there. He had a dusting of hair on the top of his head- it was green. She let out a small choke of laughter. "His hair is green."
" 'ey, just like his Mum." Tonks said, letting out a sigh. Holly could see Dumbledore trying to look at the baby now.
"Is he infected?" Shack asked the healer, turning away from the bed. The healer paused, looking kind of awkard.
"...Twenty percent. Just enough for him to be a little irritable on the full moons, but nothing more."
Holly held the baby tighter to her chest, protectively. She watched the healer go to Tonks' bedside, checking her vitals. "Miss Tonks?"
"Hmm?" Tonks asked tiredly.
"What is your decision?" Shack asked, making the Healer glare at him a little.
Tonks opened her eyes, looking down to the baby in Holly's arms, and to Holly. Holly felt a little fear creep in.
"...I can't." Tonks whispered, turning away. "I don't know anything."
Holly's fear grew. Were they using this to get Tonks to tell them something?
"It's okay dear." the Healer said, glaring a little at the Minister. "Maybe we can sort this out later, when you're not so tired."
Tonks gave a small nod. The Healer went to Holly, taking the baby from her- Holly was reluctant to let go. The Healer didn't meet her accusing gaze as she took the baby, lowering it into a small basinette.
"Holly, it's quite late. We should get back to the school." The Headmaster said softly.
Holly shook her head, sitting on the edge of Tonk's bed, taking the woman's hand. She squeezed it a little, and she began to hear the woman cry, her shoulders shaking a little. Tonks turned to face her, and she looked so...distraught that Holly was really worried for her.
"...You should get going." Tonks whispered, tears falling from her eyes.
"I don't want to leave." Holly said, tightening her grip on Tonks' hand. "I'm staying right here."
Tonks shook her head. "You should...really...really go." She said, looking at her pointedly. What did that mean? Tonks wanted her to leave? Holly glanced towards the Basinette worriedly, and then to Tonks. Tonks gave her a small smile. "We'll be alright. We'll see Mum and Dad soon, don't worry about us."
"Okay." Holly said, standing up.
The Headmaster gently grasped Holly's shoulders. "Come on, we should get going."
Holly nodded, giving one last look to Tonks, who gave her a weak smile. Holly looked to Moody and Shack...neither looked very happy. Holly left the hospital room with the Headmaster, feeling very...sad.
"What's going to happen?" Holly asked quietly, as they began to walk back down the corridor.
The Headmaster sighed. "A number of things, really. I'm not sure. I do know that they will not seperate Miss Tonks from her child, wherever they go."
Holly stared at the front page of the Daily Prophet two days later, horror filling her.
HERO AUROR FOUND DEAD.
Beneath the headline was a picture of Tonks in her Auror robes, grinning and waving. She was standing next to Shack, who was also in his Auror robes- this was probably taken the previous year.
Late last night, the body of Auror Nymphadora Tonks was found in Diagon Alley. Her body had been mutiliated in an obvious Dark Ritual of sorts, probably as some sort of retaliation for her involvement in the war with You-Know-Who.
Minister Shacklebolt, one of her closest friends, has put out a statement:
"Nymphadora Tonks was one of my closest friends. We fought alongside each other during the war, working together against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. She was a cheerful sort of girl, very talented, with a bright future ahead of her. She was funny and kind, and almost everyone who knew her, loved her. It is terrible that she would die in such a horrific way, but it goes to show you that the Dark will stop at nothing for revenge.
Miss Tonks had been on a long-term top secret mission for the Ministry, which was why many of her collegues and friends had not seen or heard from her in such a long time. Her abilities as a metamorph made her uniquely capable for this very important mission. Unfortunately, she was still found out, and murdered.
She was a good friend, someone that you could always trust and count on. May her sacrifice not be in vain- we shall investigate this matter throughly, and punish the culprits of such a horrific act."
Miss Tonks was only 23. She graduated Hogwarts in 1991, a Hufflepuff. She played Chaser for the Hufflepuff team, and she was very well liked. She went straight into Auror training after she completed Hogwarts. She was trained under Mad-Eye Moody and Minister Shacklebolt, when he was Head Auror. For such a powerful, talented witch to be killed in such a way, many of us are wondering if another Dark Lord is rising again, to replace You-Know-Who.
Everyone has noticed of course, the complete disappearance of Knockturne Alley. Some speculate that the people must have raised some sort of complex Fidelis to hide such a large area, but most think it impossible. Perhaps this was what Auror Tonks was investigating?
There is also the dissappearance of properties, people, and lands throughout the country, under similar circumstances. Many at the Ministry are worried about what the Dark may be hiding. Another army? A sinister force of evil? Surely they have something to hide, to retaliate so thoroughly.
If anyone has any information about the death of Auror Tonks, please contact the Auror Department post-haste.
Holly lowered the paper slowly, only to see Ron and Hermione reading their copy of the paper, looking devastated. "Merlin! Can you believe it? That's horrid." Hermione whispered, looking like she was about to cry. "Tonks was so nice."
"Just you wait, Hermione, we'll show those Darks when we get out of Hogwarts." Ron said, glowering a little. "We'll make them pay."
Holly stared at him, glancing to Ginny, who was crying openly. She looked to Holly, sniffling, silently begging her that it wasn't true. "We'll talk later." Holly whispered. "Go get Luna, meet me in the Room of Requirement."
Ginny nodded subtly, and left the Great Hall, wiping her tears away hastily. Luna quickly followed.
Holly looked across the Great Hall, glancing towards Malfoy, who was reading his paper with a frown. He glanced up over the top of his paper, and she glanced towards the doors. She grabbed her teacup casually, tapping her finger on the rim seven times.
Malfoy gave the smallest of nods as he folded his newspaper, bending down a little. Holly watched him murmur something in Zabini's ear, and he left the Great Hall.
Holly waited until the end of breakfast, not wanting to be obvious as she left with some of the younger Gryffindors. She went through the back passages under a dissillusionment spell, and headed towards the Room of Requirement. The door was already there- she went in, and lifted the spell. The room was small, Ginny was crying, sitting on the sofa, Luna rubbing her back. Malfoy was pacing restlessly.
Holly approached them, looking grave. "Two nights ago, I was called by the Headmaster to St. Mungo's. Tonks was giving birth to Remus Lupin's child."
They all stared at her with wide eyes. "Only Severus knew, because I had promised Tonks I would not tell anyone, and Tonks was going to name me Godmother."
"...Merlin...what happened? Did...did she die during childbirth?" Ginny asked, looking horrified.
"No." Holly said, sitting down across from the girls. Malfoy sat next to her, his expression stony. "I had hidden her away, at the start of term. She had been cornered by Moody while she was at the grocery. She started labor early. She asked for me, so I went."
"...Moody?" Ginny asked, looking confused.
"Moody and Shack had been looking for her, begging her to return to work. They didn't know about her...condition."
Malfoy spoke up, looking grave. "They killed her and the baby, didn't they?"
"I think so. They were both still alive when they forced me to leave. I...I think they were trying to force Tonks into telling about...us." Holly began to cry, looking down, the tears she'd cried the past couple of days suddenly welling up again. "Tonks refused. She...she could have...told. She could have saved herself and the baby, but she didn't."
"...Do you want anyone to know?" Luna said solemnly. "I can spread the word."
"I don't want the paper to become a target. But I would like the word to get out."
"I'll spread it through the usual ways, then." Luna said vaguely, her gaze sharp. "Who was there, that night?"
"Me, Shack, Moody, the Headmaster, and the Healer. The Healer refused to look at me nearly the entire time. I think she knew what was going to happen."
"And when you left?"
"Shack and Moody remained behind. The Headmaster escorted me back."
Luna looked lost in thought. Ginny spoke. "...Moody and Shack...you don't think...they could have done it? I mean, Tonks was so close to them!"
Holly shook her head. "They...were not happy. Not happy at all. Especcially when they found out I'd been keeping it a secret for so long. I think Shack is starting to suspect me."
They all tensed. "What's the plan, then?" Draco asked, his voice very quiet.
"We stay here, and try to figure out what's going on. I need someone to see what's happened to Tonk's parents. They told me that they were at the Ministry for questioning, but I really doubt that now. I also need someone to see if we can get the records from the...scene. It could be a fake- Tonks may still be alive, maybe the baby too."
Draco spoke up. "I'll contact a few people in Diagon, see what they know about the crime scene, see if there were any witnesses."
"And I'll look for Mr. And Mrs. Tonks." Luna stated, standing up. "And I'll start spreading the word straight away."
Ginny spoke up, looking sad. "What do you want me to do, Holly?"
"Distract Ron and Hermione. You know them- they'll probably try to do a bit of investigating themselves. Try to...hinder them where you can, and if they find out anything we don't already know, let me know."
"I can do that." Ginny sniffled.
Holly sighed. "Alright. We should get going before class starts."
The Graffiti began less than a week later. It was a big, lurid D painted on the Slytherin portrait. The portrait had stated that the vandal had been dressed in a black school robe, with no signifying markers, hood raised. No one seemed to know who did this, but it was certainly scaring the Slytherins. After the news about Tonks' murder came out, everyone was bullying the Slytherins even more.
Holly had to break up quite a few fights, but it seemed to get worse and worse. After investigating quietly, they were able to find out that it was, in fact, Tonk's body. There was no replicating her Metamorph DNA, after all, and they had even used muggle techniques to make sure. Because the baby's body had not been found, they were quite hopeful, until a connection at St. Mungo's revealed that a baby had been recorded as 'stillborn', and his birth coincided with the time of birth as Teddy's.
It was...devastating. Holly cried herself to sleep more than a few times over it. She swore to get her revenge, somehow, on Shack. Moody, she was uncertain if he was involved. But Shack most definitely was.
Just before Easter, the Vandal had struck again, tearing down all of the Slytherin Banners in the Great Hall, taking a blasting curse to the Slytherin points globe, and painted D's all the way down their table, and at Severus' and Merrythought's spots on the table.
Everyone had come into the Great Hall, stopping short by the doorway, staring at the destruction that had been caused. The Slytherins' expressions were quite closed off, though some looked quite angry.
The Headmaster spoke, picking up one of the torn banners from the floor, looking very dissappointed. "Alright...who did this?" He asked, looking at the students, his expression grave.
Of course, no one came forward.
Malfoy spoke up. "Whoever did this should be expelled!" He yelled. It looked like he'd finally reached his tipping point. Unfortunately, Holly was standing on the other side of the crowd, and could not calm him down. "Who did this! Weasley, was it you?"
"No!" Ron yelled, his ears going a little red. Holly stared at Ron, frowning a little. She had seen him lie enough times before to know when he was lying or not. And he was.
"Ron..." Holly said, moving to face him. The other students backed off a little. "Ron, did you do it?"
"No! Why are you guys blaming me anyways? I didn't do it! I was on patrol, with Hermione. Right Hermione?"
Hermione, who'd been staring at the destroyed Slytherin globe, nodded slowly.
Holly stared at her- Hermione wouldn't look her in the eye. Holly felt devastated that Hermione was lying to her now too.
Holly turned away from them, frowning. She pointed her wand towards the banners, and flicked them- they raised up into the air, repairing themselves, hanging back up with the others. The Slytherins broke from the rest of the students, going to repair the damage at their table silently.
The Headmaster spoke, looking rather furious. "This has gone on long enough. I will not allow the school to be damaged like this."
Holly stared at him, as did Draco.
He was more worred about damages to the school?
"Everyone will stay here in the Great Hall and make sure that all of the damage is repaired." He motioned to the staff members, who all looked rather grave. "We will be at our table, watching you, making sure you are doing what you are supposed to."
And they silently went up to the staff table. It was then that they discovered the painted D's at Merrythought's and Severus' seats. The two Professors looked furious at this. Merrythought finally exploded.
"Alright, that is IT!" She drew her wand. "I'm going to fucking kill the little shit that did this! I've let this go on far enough!"
Ron looked quite pale now, Holly noticed.
The Headmaster spoke. "Professor Merrythought, let's chat, shall we?" He asked, beckoning her close. The others hurried to start the clean up.
Holly stared up at Severus, feeling a little worried. Severus was staring at his Slytherins, frowning slightly. His dark eyes met Holly's, for just a moment. He hated this too. Soon...soon, they would be out of here.
Holly's attention was caught by Ron's quiet voice. "It's just a couple of tapestries. It's not a big deal. They can repair it all easily enough."
Holly glared at him, and Ron looked confused. "What is your problem?" He picked up one of the emeralds that had scattered on the floor from the Slytherin's point globe. He tossed it up in the air a little, catching it. "Now that you're all Head Girl and everything, you got all buddy-buddy with Malfoy- don't tell me you like him or something?"
"There is no excuse, Ron, for doing something like this." Holly whispered, eyes hard. "And if I find out that you did it, you will regret it."
She began to walk away. She could hear Ron whispering to Hermione. "When did Holly get so scary?"
"...She threatened you."
Holly went to Malfoy's side, helping him clean up their table with their housemates. They worked in silence, scrubbing off the paint from their table. She could hear a couple of the younger students quietly sniffling. This was awful.
Holly yawned, feeling kind of exhausted. She kept reminding herself, just a few more weeks, just a few more weeks. She'd been so stressed out, lately. The vandalism kept happening, despite all the Headmaster's threats. Mostly empty threats. Even with the portraits watching for vandals, they still hadn't figured out who did it.
Still, Vandalism was the last thing that Holly was worried about at the moment. On top of her upcoming NEWTS, she was trying to keep on top of everything that was going on in Knockturne, the farms, and her other properties. Winky was giving her and Severus daily updates every morning, but they itched to go out there and be a part of it.
Many had moved out onto the farmlands- those who weren't working on the farms were building more cottages on the land, in sort of small communal villages. More refugees had come, and the apartment building was nearly at full capacity.
The school would definitely be ready for operation in the fall, and the data transfer for their library was underway. Construction had been complete on most of the buildings in Knockturne, Diagon, and the main underground tunnel. The work was still coming, though- they would need a huge harvest to get everyone through the winter, so people were working their magic in the fields as much as possible.
Holly could tell Severus was getting quite stressed out too- he was snapping at the students quite a bit. They were both fearful that they would be caught out. Still, they kept pushing along, just working as hard as they could so that once term was over, they would be prepared to leave for good.
Hermione and Ron, and many other people for that matter, kept asking Holly what she was going to do once she got out of Hogwarts. The daily speculation in the papers was driving her crazy too. Holly was also a little worried about her period- she was late again, but that was happening more often than not, these past few months, because of stress. Still, she was nearly two weeks late, and she was thinking about maybe going to Severus to see if they could get her tested. They couldn't go to Madam Pomfrey, of course, so she hoped that they could figure it out. Most of the seventh years were going a little mad, she noticed, especially Neville, who had become more and more withdrawn as the Semester wore on.
It wasn't until a couple of days before their NEWT exams that she had noticed something was dreadfully wrong with Neville. He hadn't been in class all day, which was quite unlike him. She glanced around the table, getting that...feeling something was wrong.
"Hey, where's Neville?"
No one answered her- Hermione was immersed in studying, and Ron was stuffing his gob- Dean and Seamus were talking about something.
"Where is Neville?" She repeated, just a little louder.
Ginny poked her head from around Seamus. "Last time I saw him, he was headed towards the Greenhouses. I think that was this morning."
Holly stood, and headed out of the Great Hall quickly, feeling a little worried now. She walked out towards the Greenhouses, silently summoning her cloak. She pulled it about her shoulders when it came to her- she saw the Greenhouses in the distance. The sun was just setting.
Holly walked faster, wondering when the last time she'd really talked to Neville was. It'd been a while. She'd just had so much going on, though.
She peeked into each of the Greenhouses, frowning as she saw that they were empty- she paused as she saw Neville in Greenhouse six, sitting at one of the work benches, head buried in his arms.
Holly came into the Greenhouse, feeling a little concerned. "Neville?"
He jerked up, looking at her with wide eyes. It was then that she noticed the blood on his hands, and the blade that was sitting on the table in front of him.
"I...I couldn't even kill myself properly." He croaked.
Holly began to cry, taking his hands into hers, healing him up. "Neville...oh...why? Why would you do this?"
"I just...felt overwhelmed, I guess." Neville said quietly, watching his skin knit back together with her healing spells. She began to wipe at the blood, cleaning it off. "...Hannah cheated on me."
"No...it's not just that, though. Gran...she...keeps writing me, asking me if I'm going to join the Aurors, do this, do that...I...I just can't." Neville shook his head. "There's so much...pressure, you know?"
"Yeah, I know." Holly whispered. "I'm sorry I...couldn't help you sooner."
"No...I know you've been busy. Being Head Girl and all."
"I wish that was all." Holly said quietly.
Neville wiped his tears away quickly on the back of his sleeve. "What do you mean?"
Holly sat next to him on the bench, banishing the blade. "The Headmaster and the Minister. They keep wanting me to work with them. I can't."
"...So what are you going to do?"
"...I have plans, but I can't tell you. I can't tell anyone." Holly whispered.
Neville gave her a long look. "...It's something to do with Snape, isn't it?"
She looked at him, and the boy gave her a sad smile. "Look, I know it's not my business. I overheard McGonagall and Sprout whispering the other day that Snape may be retiring this year. And...well, you two don't seem so pissed off at each other anymore...and I know you haven't been going out with Charlie Weasley as much as you say you are."
Holly stared at him. Severus hadn't told the staff anything about retiring. Where would they get that?
"Why do you think that?"
" 'Cos I saw Charlie Weasley hanging around in Hogsmeade with a guy during the Easter Hols, looking pretty cozy."
Holly sighed. "...Alright, Charlie and I are just friends. But that doesn't mean anything is going on between me and Snape. I mean, c'mon, he's old."
"So are you."
Holly's eyebrows raised. Neville tapped his head, and she knew what he meant. She looked away, not answering that one way or another.
"I'll be glad when this year is over."
"...I never thought I'd be so eager to get away from Hogwarts."
"Yeah." Neville sighed. "...I was thinking about running off and going to this place I'd heard about from Nott. Apparently it's some fancy greenhouse that's like mass-producing all sorts of things."
Holly stiffened a little. "Really? What's it called?" She asked casually.
"...Yeah. You should check them out." Holly said casually. "But let's get through our NEWTS first, alright?"
Neville sighed, standing up and stretching. "Yeah. Merlin, I didn't study at all today."
"Eh, everyone needs a bit of a break. Wanna go to the kitchens with me? You're probably hungry."
"Sounds good. Let's go."
The first morning of the NEWTS arrived with a bang- Holly had woken up ill and ran to the toilet. Severus was soon at her side, holding back her hair, rubbing her back.
She nodded, and stood- she went to wash her face and mouth out. She could see Severus looking at her speculatively in the mirror. "When was the last time you had your period?"
"I'm late. By two weeks." Holly said quietly, looking at their reflection. She bent down to spit out a bit of toothpaste, missing Severus' eyes widening a little.
"I don't know yet. We should probably get it tested." Holly said, and sighed. "NEWTS are today. Just this week and next week, and we'll be free!" She said with a little smile.
Severus caught her about her middle, holding her close. His hand went to her flat stomach, looking very serious. His dark eyes were sparkling. "I hope you are."
"I'll get the potion prepared. We'll test it tonight." He kissed her temple. "I love you."
"I love you too." Holly whispered back, holding him close. She sighed. "If it's a boy...can his middle name be Teddy?"
She pulled away with a sigh, giving him a sad smile. "Alright, we have a lot to do today- we'll talk about all that tonight. Now shoo, you should get going."
He gave her a kiss on the cheek, and he left the loo.
Her first day of NEWT exams were exhausting. It was all theory work that day, but all she could really think about was that potion!
Finally, she went to dinner, feeling rather antsy, eager to be finished with it and go to the potions lab. Hermione must have noticed it, and spoke up. "Hey, it's okay, I'm sure we did fine on the exams."
"Oh? Oh yeah." Holly said distractedly, pushing her food about her plate.
Ron leant in, grinning a little. "Hey, I heard that Snape might be retiring this year."
"I heard that too- I overheard McGonagall and Sprout talking about it." Neville said, looking curious.
Ron glanced up at the staff table, smirking. "It's about bloody time. Too bad we couldn't have gotten rid of him sooner."
Holly gripped her knife tightly, glaring at Ron.
"Holly, what's wrong?" Hermione asked, looking at her strangely.
Ron frowned, looking at her. "First Malfoy, and now Snape? Have you gone soft on all the Slytherins? C'mon Holly, this is a reason to celebrate- you hate Snape!"
"I don't hate Snape." Holly said, her voice tight.
"He's a complete bastard, and he's been really unbearable lately- he docked me fifty points because he heard me breathing too loudly in the library the other day."
"Ugh, that is kind of awful." Hermione said, shaking her head.
"Well, maybe he did it because he knows that you're the one that's been vandalizing the whole school, and the Headmaster won't punish you." Holly said, looking at Ron with hard eyes. "Excuse me." She stood, and headed out of the Great Hall. Ron and Hermione followed, and Holly sighed.
"Hey now, I said I didn't do it!" Ron cried.
"I don't believe you. I know when you're lying Ron." Holly said quietly, starting for the dungeons.
"But I was with him!" Hermione cried. "So Ron couldn't possibly have done it."
Holly glared at her. "Honestly, I don't think Ron could have caused that much destruction on his own." She started down the stairs.
"Just what are you implying?" Hermione screeched.
"Nothing. Just...nothing. Leave me alone." And Holly slipped into the dungeons, leaving her two...friends on the staircase. The two stared down at her, frowning.
"We should follow her." Hermione whispered.
Ron nodded at this. Hermione flicked her wand, casting dissillusionment spells on the two of them. The quietly went down the stairs, following the sound of Holly's footsteps- she had already rounded the corner.
"I think she's heading for Snape's. You think she has detention?" Ron whispered.
"Maybe." Hermione whispered back.
The two crept along carefully, watching their friend Head towards Snape's office. They took a shortcut, managing to go around, watching invisbly as she entered the lab- Hermione caught a glimpse of a potion on the table before Holly closed the door behind her.
Hermione gasped a little, reaching for Ron's arm. She managed to find him, and she dragged him away quickly from the lab, and up the stairs. "Bloody hell, Hermione, I wanted to try to listen in."
Hermione dragged Ron into an empty classroom, and the two cancelled their spells. Hermione's eyes were wide. "Did you see the potion on the table there?"
"Uh..yeah. So? It's Snape's office. There's potions all over the place.
"That potion is...special. Usually Madam Pomfrey would have something like that. Holly must have not wanted her to know."
"What is it? Some...girly thing?"
Hermione looked heavenward for a moment. "It was a pregnancy test."
Ron's jaw dropped. "Bloody hell. Wait! She's going out with Charlie, so..."
"I guess she and Charlie really got on well, then." Hermione concluded. Ron looked a little green at this.
"Ugh...I don't want to think of my brother like that...do you really think she and Charlie...did it?"
"Well, he is older than her, and ahm...more experienced. And you know Holly, sort of feet-first into everything. It...would explain why she's been so...quiet about her plans."
Ron blinked. "Oh...wow. So like, Holly's going to be a Mum. Wow! I'm going to be an Uncle!"
Hermione held up her hands. "Hey, hey, don't count your eggs yet. She's just doing the test. She might not be, you know? Anyways, she and Charlie aren't married, remember? So we can't tell anyone we know."
"Man...Mum's gonna kill Charlie." Ron laughed a little.
"Ron! We can't tell anyone, okay? It's up to Charlie and Holly to tell everyone."
"...Alright, fine." Ron said, rolling his eyes. "But I hope they bloody do it soon."
Holly was humming as she walked into the Great Hall that morning, feeling very...happy. She and Severus had ended up making love for half the night, but she didn't really feel tired at all. She just hoped it didn't catch up to her while she was taking her exams.
She was pregnant! She was elated, and so was Severus. They were going to be parents! Holly sat down at the Gryffindor table, and began to put some food on her plate. She hadn't woken up ill that morning, so she was actually feeling kind of hungry. She glanced up to see Ron and Hermione studying her closely, strange smiles on their faces.
Holly furrowed her brow a little, glancing around. It was still rather early, so no one else was sitting next to them yet.
"So...anything interesting happen last night?" Ron asked casually. Hermione nudged him, rolling her eyes.
Holly stiffened. "What do you mean?"
Hermione sighed, shaking her head. She leant forward. "...Look, we saw you. So...you and Charlie? Any good news?"
Holly's eyes widened at this. They must have seen the potion, somehow. She couldn't...answer. She just looked down, twitching a little, putting more food onto her plate.
"Hey, that's a lot more than you usually eat. Guess that's a good sign, eh?" Ron asked.
"I'm not going to talk about this." Holly hissed, glancing around. "We've got enough to worry about right now, with the exams, okay?"
"Oh...oh right!" Hermione gasped, picking up her book once more. Holly sighed. Disaster temporarily diverted. Bloody hell...how had they seen the potion?
With the NEWTS finally over, everyone breathed a little easier. Well, everyone except for Holly. Now that the exams were over, Ron and Hermione were quietly pestering her about you-know- what, they had taken to calling it. Holly refused to talk about it, but she feared that they would resort to drastic measures soon if she didn't talk.
As everyone entered the Great Hall for the Leaving Feast, they all looked kind of puzzled to see the Minister sitting there next to the Headmaster, talking quietly to him. There were Aurors lining the sides of the Great Hall, standing tall in their red uniforms.
At the sight of all this, Holly silently panicked. Oh...shit. What was going on now? The staff entered from the back door as the students began to silently sit at their tables- the whole mood was tense, no one spoke. What was happening?
The Headmaster stood, eyes twinkling. "Another year has passed, it seems, all too quickly. Some of you may be wondering about our guests tonight- well, we have a few special announcements! Minister?"
The Minister of Magic stood. Kingsley was wearing red robes that were remiscent of his Auror robes. "Thank you, Headmaster. Now, this past year, we were given a proposal by our Head Boy and our Head Girl to make some changes to the school." People began to whisper at this, smiling a little. Holly could only feel dread. The Slytherins were completely silent, and unbeknownst to the entire student body, they were silently preparing their portkeys beneath the table...just in case.
"Miss Potter and Mr. Malfoy made some very interesting points. For far too long, this school has been divided by House, creating division when there should not be. We should teach new courses, and change things around. Maybe a little breath of fresh air is what we need!"
People began to clap at this, though Holly did not. She only stared up at Shack, starting to feel scared now.
"This past year, we at the Ministry have been making plans of our own. We would like this school to be truly the best school in the magical world. After all, you are our future!"
More clapping at this, and people's whispering began to grow louder.
"We want to keep you all safe, happy, and healthy, and learning from the very best teachers that our community has to offer. We will be adding new courses like Dueling-" Ron and Seamus traded a high five at this. "Writing-" Hermione squealed. "As well as a few electives too, like Swimming, and a other sports teams." People were really getting excited now.
Holly was just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"However..." The Minister said, lowering his hands a little. "We need to make room for all of these new changes. The new swimming pool will need to be put in the lower levels, and with so many of our students withdrawing from Slytherin House this year, I'm afraid we're going to have to abolish the Slytherin House."
Holly's jaw dropped. Three of the tables in the Great Hall burst into cheers and applause, high fives were traded- people were actually dancing around with joy.
Holly felt dead inside as she looked at the Slytherins, whose normally calm composures looked absolutely devastated. She didn't dare look at Severus. He must be furious.
"Now now, kids, let me finish my speech." Shack said, raising his hands again. "I know there's been quite a few reports of bullying and hate crimes at this school, and I hope that will soon change. Now, there will also be a few replacements in the staff in the coming year-"
"Please, please, let him fire Snape." Holly heard Ron whisper, watching the boy cross his fingers.
"One will be Professor Merrythought-" Holly looked to the woman, who didn't look all that shocked. Her lips were thinned, and her arms were crossed over her chest. "Another will be Professor Sinastra-" The woman looked completely shocked at this- she actually began to cry. Holly then remembered that the woman was actually a Slytherin Almuni...how terrible! "and Professor Snape!"
The Great Hall was thrown into Chaos- the other students made no effort to hide their glee.
Holly stared silently at Severus. The man's face was expressionless, though his grip on his goblet was quite tight, judging by his white knuckles.
Holly looked to the other staff members- McGonagall, Flitwick, and Sprout honestly didn't look that pleased at all, and it looked as though they had no idea about this either. They were whispering with the Headmaster, who was shaking his head, holding up his hands.
"Now, now, one more last thing to say before we can dig into our delicious looking feast. Now, there have been some...safety concerns here at the school these past few years." There was some scattered laughter at this. "Which is why we will have a team of Aurors posted here at the school next year. They won't bother any of you, I can assure you, but they make sure that all of you are safe and well cared for."
"Finally, a Minister that's doing some good." Ron said, grinning widely. Holly wanted to punch him.
The Headmaster stood, and smiled. "And now, to announce the winners of the House Cup! At 213 points, Slytherin is in last place, at 473, Hufflepuff is in third, at 521 Ravenclaw is second, and in first place, with 698 points, Gryffindor wins the House Cup!"
The Gryffindor table roared. Holly remained seated, looking down at her plate.
"C'mon Holly, don't be such a downer! This year couldn't get any better!" Dean said with a grin.
The Feast began, and everyone began to chow down, though Holly did not eat a thing. She stared at her empty plate, wondering how people could be so cruel.
"Holly...you need to eat." Hermione said quietly, giving her a pointed look.
"Yeah, you wanna make sure the baby gets plenty of food!" Ron said, stuffing his face. Unfortunately, he did not say it quiet enough. Everyone surrounding them turned and stared openly. Holly glared at him, and Hermione swatted Ron on the arm.
"...Merlin...is it true?" Neville asked, eyes wide.
Holly looked away, feeling miserable. This was...this couldn't get any worse.
But it did.
As the meal ended, and people began to leave the Great Hall, Holly saw Aurors subtly approach Merrythought, Snape, and Sinastra up at the staff table.
Hermione gasped, obviously noticing it too. "Wait...you don't think they're going to get arrested, do you?" She asked, sounding a little worried, actually.
"Does it matter? They're just a bunch of Dark wizards." Ron muttered, eating his pudding merrily.
Holly's eyes met Draco's, and she gave him a small nod. He gave a small nod back, and glanced around pointedly to his housemates. Not a moment later, the entirety of Slytherin House vanished from the table with a loud crack as all of their portkeys activated.
It served as the distraction that they hoped for- the Aurors were now looking towards the table worriedly, as were the rest of the students.
Holly looked towards Severus- the Minister was in his face now, talking with him heatedly, pointing his finger in the man's face. Accusing. Holly stood.
Holly ignored Hermione's query, leaving the Gryffindor table, casually heading towards the staff table. Instead of going towards Severus and the Minister, like she wanted, she headed for the Headmaster. He looked down at her, eyes twinkling sadly.
"Hullo, my girl."
"Headmaster. What's going on here?"
"It's chaos, that's what it is." McGonagall said, scowling. "I can't believe you're letting this go on, Headmaster."
"It's for the greater good." The old man said with a sigh. "For far too long, there has been a dark stain at this school...we must get rid of it. Even if we do not like it. At least the Students were able to get out unharmed, but I fear..." The Headmaster's eyes went to Merrythought as she threw off the Auror who was trying to arrest her.
For an old lady, she was suprisingly strong. Unfortunately, they took her down to the ground, and began to put her arms behing her back. Sinastra was crying as the Aurors began to lead her away, cuffed. "I'm not Dark!" She wailed.
"Albus! You have to stop this!" Minerva cried. She shook her head, seeing the man just...sitting there. She then looked to Holly, silently begging her to do...something. And that was when Holly acted.
Holly leveled her wand at the Minister. "Let them go." She said, eyes narrowing. "NOW!"
The entire Great Hall went completely silent, staring at her. The Minister raised his hands, backing off a little. Hermione and Ron got up from the Gryffindor table quickly, drawing their wands, heading over now too.
"Holly, you don't want to do this." Shack said, giving her a small, knowing smile. "We're friends, remember?"
"No we're not. You were there that night. When Tonks had her baby. I left her there, with you and Moody, and two days later she was dead! SO DON'T FUCKING LIE TO ME!"
"Holly!" Hermione gasped. "Calm down."
"No. I've had enough. Aurors, help Merrythought to her feet, uncuff her. Uncuff Sinastra too."
"Or what?" Shack asked, staring into her eyes.
"Or...I will cast a blasting curse right at your head."
"Holly...please don't do this. You know this has to be done." The Headmaster said, quietly pleading with her. "Perhaps we could talk about this in my office-"
"I'm through talking!" Holly said, her voice firm. "You're going to let them go, Minister, and then you won't even bother them, or anyone else ever again! You've hurt so many innocent people, and you blame it all on the Dark wizards!"
Shack stared at her. "What about you, Holly? Are you willing to hurt an innocent person?"
"I would never, ever hurt anyone that was innocent. Good thing you aren't." Holly said, keeping her wand on the man. "Let them go. I'll let you live."
"...Just because you happen to be the Girl Who Lived does not mean you have the right to boss me around. You're just a girl...what can you do?"
Holly gave him a wicked smile. "Do you really want to know?"
He stared at her...realization in his eyes. "You warned them...at Malfoy Manor."
"I certainly did. And you just handed all the information right to me." Holly said, smirking a bit.
The Aurors paused looking reluctant. "...But...she's Holly Potter." One of them said.
"NO! SHE'S PREGNANT!" Hermione cried. For one shocked moment, everyone stared at Holly.
"Yeah, I'm gonna be an Uncle!" Ron said, raising his wand a bit.
Holly rolled her eyes. "It's not Charlie's, you idiot. It's Severus'." Ron looked horrified, and Hermione looked a bit shocked too. Everyone kind of stood there, unsure what to do.
Using that moment of distraction, Severus used his butter knife to slice the Minister's throat, making Shack's blood spurt all across the staff table, and he jumped over the table in a feat of athleticsm that not even Holly knew he was capable of- what students that were left in the Great Hall began to scream hysterically, running about. Hermione and Ron could only stand there in shock.
Because of the students running about crazily, the Aurors didn't dare cast killing curses at Holly and Severus. Stunners bounced off their sheilds effortlessly, and all the while, Headmaster Dumbledore sat in his chair, looking lost in thought.
Sinastra and Merrythought managed to escape in the chaos, running alongside them as they were chased out of the Great Hall.
"You killed the Minister!" Sinastra yelled, sounding hysterical.
"He needed to be stopped." Severus said, the four of them still running. Now that they were out in the open on the grounds, the Aurors began to shoot killing curses.
The first to fall was Sinastra- she had never been much of a duelist.
Just before they reached the gates, Merrythought was caught with a killing curse to the back. Holly and Severus barely had time to slip past the gates before they clutched each other tightly and apparated away.
SEVERUS SNAPE KILLS MINISTER OF MAGIC!
In a wild turn of events last night, Kingsley Shacklebolt, our Minister of Magic, was brutally murdered in front of dozens innocent schoolchildren last night. The Minister had been at Hogwarts to announce some changes to the school for next year (turn to page four for those changes).
In his effort to eradicate the Dark, the Minister attempted to arrest Severus Snape, the Potions Master. Anyone who knows Severus Snape knows that he is a sadistic dark arts user but somehow escaped imprisonment when he was accused of being a Deatheater in 1981.
In the chaos, Professor Auror Sinastra and Professor Merrythought were also killed. What is more, the entirity of Slytherin House vanished from the Great Hall by portkey. Obviously, their Head of House organized this entire plot with them ahead of time. The students have not been located.
The Slytherins were not the only students to run off into the night, no, accompanying them was one HOLLY POTTER!
Yes! Holly Potter, our savior of the Light, ran off hand in hand with the Dark professor, making many wonder if that man somehow imperioused her or doused her with a love potion. Her two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, were utterly devastated.
"I just don't know what happened. I thought...she was just stressed out this year, 'cos of her being Head Girl and all. And then, just a couple of days before exams begin, me and Hermione find out that Holly was preggers! She refused to talk about it, though. But right before she left, she told me that it was Snape's baby!"
"I was quite shocked that Holly would do such a thing. Not only did she threaten the Minister to let Snape go, she didn't look at all suprised that the Slytherins up and vanished like that! I know she's a good person, she's not Dark, but why else would she help them? I think that Snape somehow tricked her, and he forced her to come with him, because she's carrying his baby."
We are not sure if the news about Miss Potter carrying Severus Snape's baby is true- it is only speculation at this point. We are not sure if Snape would even be capable of doing such a thing. The man is twenty years her senior, and her Professor. If they were in such a relationship, it would be quite illegal...not that it would stop either of them.
Is there a new Darkness rising in our land? Is Severus Snape the new Dark Lord? The man had influenced hundreds of students, had countless connections through his work throughout the world- and with Holly Potter as his follower, many fear he could be unstoppable.
However, Headmaster Dumbledore has a few words of wisdom for us all in these dark times-
"I am saddened by the events of last night. I truly do believe that Miss Potter's heart was in the right place. I do not think she would want to hurt anyone. Severus Snape has been a trusted collegue of mine, but I suppose every strong man has his breaking point. When faced with evidence of Severus Snape's and Holly Potter's alleged relationship, I honestly wish them the best of luck. I have not once heard of a Dark Lord that had a wife and a child- they just did not have the capacity for such love.
If they are indeed behind the events of great swaths of land vanishing from our country this past year, it does make me wonder what they are planning. To be honest, such things require quite a bit of people at their disposal. They could have attacked the Ministry long ago. They could have taken over Hogwarts. But they did neither of those things. I truly do think that they simply wanted to be left alone.
Miss Potter is a good girl. I trust her judgement. She is strong, and she knows right from wrong. I have every utmost faith that she will do what is best for our future."
Holly sighed, staring at the front page of the Daily Prophet. Their exit...could have happened better. She was sitting in their bed, with Severus half asleep next to her. They were both exhausted. Last night, they'd had to look after the Slytherins and make sure their arrival to Knockturne had been smooth, and were calming the young ones down. They'd also worked with the house elves to quickly grab everyone's things before they could be 'investigated'.
Holly tossed the newspaper aside, looking out the window. She saw the little girl sitting on the balcony, her tiny legs swinging. She gave a little wave to Holly, and Holly gave a little wave back.
Epilogue (Because everyone is asking for it XD )
The wall that divided Knockturne and Diagon was built in front of, and no one ever bothered to investigate what was beyond. Knockturne City flourished, becoming a proper city, a bright and shining melting pot of what was to come for the wizarding world. Knockturne became one of the biggest and busiest magical areas in the world, their exports becoming the best and greatest that the magical world had to offer.
Diagon Alley, as well as the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, were thrown into a depression after the Minister had been killed. Many had feared for some years that the 'Dark Lord Prince' and his followers would come after them. But he did not. Eventually, the Ministry recovered, as did Hogwarts...but it took quite some time.
Headmaster Dumbledore died just a couple of years after Severus and Holly had fled the school, knowing that wherever they were, they must have been happy. He left Hogwarts to Minerva McGonagall, who reinstituted Slytherin House, and made some changes to Hogwarts that made its students a bit happier. She became one of the most well-loved Headmistresses in the history of Hogwarts.
Hermione Granger worked with her boyfriend at the Ministry of Magic for two years before calling it quits. After seeing that everyone (even Ron) but her was getting a promotion because of their blood, family connections, and corruption she kind of got fed up with it. She broke off her relationship with Ron when she found him cheating on her, and she left for the muggle world, never to be seen again. She ended up going back to muggle school, and became a dentist like her parents.
Ronald Weasley ended up working at the Ministry of Magic for the rest of his life. Starting at the Auror Department, he transfered to his Father's Department when he got into trouble way too many times. After Hermione had left, he became listless, and lived a rather humdrum life. He was the only Weasley child that remained at home. His parents were not pleased about this.
Neville ended up working for Viridi Growers, which was associated with Knockturne City and her Allies. He ended up being one of the biggest names in Herbology in the country, and he eventually taught at the Knockturne City School. Viktor Krum made a new life for himself, teaching Transfiguration at the Knockturne City school, and eventually Founding the Knockturne City Quidditch Team. He and Neville were often seen together, eventually going public with their relationship when they were hairy old men.
Angela ended up going to Knockturne City school with Penny, in the very first year of its Founding. Angela eventually became a teacher at the school, while Penny took over her Family's business. The two women were life long friends, and never forgot the kindness that Holly showed to them.
Ginny went to play for the Holyhead Harpies straight out of Hogwarts, much to the displeasure of her Mother. When she had enough money saved up, she came out to her parents. Luna traveled with her to her games, and the two traveled all around the world. They acted as unnofficial 'ambassadors' to Knockturne City, spreading the news wherever they went. The Quibbler became one of the most widely-read publications in the wizarding world, and eventually had a station on the WWN.
Charlie Weasley eventually moved out of the flat he shared with four other guys, and moved into a nicer one with a boyfriend, a Dragon handler from Japan. They eventually went abroad, traveling to various dragon sanctuaries and lending their help and expertise. When they grew too old to travel, they came back to Knockturne City and worked in their research facilities there.
Draco Malfoy ended up being on the Knockturne City council for quite some time. He eventually opened Malfoy Manor and turned it into a Bed and Breakfast and Day Spa. He ended up growing to be a ripe old age, and became a lifelong bachelor. However, he had lots and lots of lovers, and never wanted for company. He never married, wanting the cursed Malfoy name to die with him.
The Dursely family of Number Four Privet Drive was not given a second thought.
Fred and George became some of the richest self-made wizards in the world. They opened more shops in Paris, Tokyo, NYC, and Australia (apparently the Aussies loved their stuff to bits). They invented quite a bit of goods that become regular household items, and other goods that served as pranking gear for generations to come. They made people laugh, all of their lives, and had a good number of apprentices to carry on their work. They never married, always choosing to live in the tiny flat above their shop in Diagon Alley. And while their shop had gotten bigger, it wasn't moved because of a certain little entrance in their cellar.
Bill and Fleur became one of the most well known and well loved couples in Knockturne City, just after Holly and Severus. Bill continued to work with Gringott's for a good majority of his life, and eventually became Head of the Knockturne City Warding Guild. Fleur continued her work with Gringott's as well, but she became more and more invested in the Council and the day to day running of Knockturne. They had three children.
The vampire coven became one of the largest in the wizarding world, living completely underground in a complex system of tunnels and chambers. The London Branch of Gringott's had to add on to their bank just so that they would have room for all of their accounts. They were very happy about this- about as happy as Goblins could get.
Many of the magical immigrants that came to their country stayed on and built a life for themselves in Knockturne and her Allies. Some eventually returned, but many stayed. This was a place that they could really be themselves and feel safe without having to worry about politics.
It had taken over a year and a half, but Teddy Tonks was found being taken care of under a Top-Secret Ministry project. He was far too young to remember the horrors of that time, but he would never feel very comfortable in hospitals. His death had been faked by the Ministry, to cover up the program. But after a bit of investigating by Luna, they found out the truth and stole the baby in the middle of the night, along with the other children they had found in the facility. The young man grew up knowing all about his parents and was well aware of the sacrifices they had made so that he could live. He eventually worked for Fred and George, in their shop in NYC.
And what of Holly and Severus? For the longest time, the couple resided in their little flat in Knockturne, being quite busy with the day to day aspects of their burgeoning little city. Holly had their first child, Rosemary Eileen, and she was pregnant with their second child when Teddy had been found. The little boy was happy addition to their family, and was raised just like he was their own.
Their little flat wouldn't be enough for the growing family, so they moved to one of the larger apartments at the top of the Takamoto Building, not wanting to leave Knockturne. Severus worked in the Research Facilities there, his work instrumental in a number of potions that would one day cure a great many magical and muggle diseases. Holly taught Defense and Dueling at the school, inspiring a great many of her students. The couple would end up having six children, including Teddy. They were a bit of a handful, but the Prince's never wanted for babysitters.
To the people of Knockturne City, the Prince family was practically royalty. They were well-loved and respected. Their birthdays became holidays, counting down to midnight just like Holly had done all those years ago when she had just been a child, sitting in the dark in her little cupboard. She had all the friends she could ever ask for, a husband, children- family and friends that loved her and accepted her for all that she was. What more could she ask for?
For real this time.
Whew. Long story, there, but I'm finally finished! Sorry about the super long one page, but it would have taken forever to split it up. I hope you guys liked it, and I hope you guys liked the Epilogue.