The first week of December introduced the first of the terrible winter weather, as it stormed sleet down for the whole week. Hogwarts was a naturally draughty castle, but the students were used to it and bundled up accordingly. Lysandra wasn't envious of their guests, because Fleur had arrived at breakfast one morning soaked from head to toe and asking to borrow any warm clothes Lysandra had to spare, and the Durmstrang ship looked like it never sat still.

Lysandra was debating if she should return to Grimmauld for the holidays when Professor McGonagall made an announcement during their class on Wednesday.

"I have something to say to you all," she said near the end of the class. "The Yule Ball is approaching – a traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament and an opportunity for us to socialize with our foreign guests. Now, the ball will be open only to Fourth-Years and above – although you may invite a younger student if you wish-"

Several of the girls in the class were leaning over to whisper to one another, while most of the boys had sullen faces and were sinking into their seats with scowls.

"Dress robes will be worn." McGonagall continued over the whispers. "And the ball will start at eight o'clock on Christmas Day, finishing at midnight, in the Great Hall. Now then, the Yule Ball is, of course, a chance for us all to let our hair down, but that does not mean that we will be relaxing the standards of behavior we expect from Hogwarts students. I will be most seriously displeased if a Gryffindor student embarrasses the school in any way. This also does not mean that we will be relaxing the amount of homework the OWL and NEWT students will receive, so plan accordingly."

That had easily decided for her; she would have to stay. Fleur would insist, and Lysandra had to tease Cassius when he tried to figure out how to ask Ines. Remus would be disappointed if she didn't enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity, even if she didn't go to the actual ball.

The halls were a mess that next week due to all the groups of giggling girls whispering and conspiring in the corners. This was one of the few times that Lysandra was glad she had only one good female friend because Fleur had been busy doing something or another for the past couple of days.

The last week of the term became increasingly boisterous as it progressed. Rumors were flying through the halls about the Ball – for instance, that Dumbledore had bought eight hundred barrels of mulled mead from Madam Rosmerta. It was a fact that he had hired the Weird Sisters, which Lysandra took great pleasure in quietly spreading around the school when she'd caught a glimpse the paperwork during her Friday lesson.

The Hogwarts staff seemed to want to keep impressing their visitors because they were determined to show the castle at its best. Everlasting icicles had been attached to the banisters of the marble staircase; the usual twelve Christmas trees in the Great Hall were bedecked with everything from luminous holly berries to real, hooting, golden owls; the suits of armor had all been bewitched to sing carols whenever anyone passed them.

Fleur was speaking to her in the Entrance Hall, talking about how her designer cousin was coming up with dresses for her to try on, when unexpectedly, Weasley popped up next to them. The Veela peered down her nose at the ginger, pursing her lips at his interruption.

"WILL YOU GO TO THE BALL WITH ME!?" He bellowed. The pair of girls flinched and stared at the ginger. Weasley paled and bolted out of there like there was a Grim on his tail. Lysandra snickered and the pair dissolved into laughter.

"Avez-vous vu son visage (Did you see his face)?" Fleur giggled, clutching her stomach. The raven-haired girl nodded, enjoying his obvious mortification.

"Qu'est-ce qui est si drôle, Mesdames (What's so funny, ladies)?" Someone asked. The girls turned to face whoever had spoken and shared a look. Cassius was leading over the Ravenclaw Quidditch captain, who looked a bit nervous but was determined.

"Weasley's face," Lysandra replied, nodding a greeting to her friend.

"May I speak to you for a moment?" Cassius asked, gesturing to a spot slightly away from Fleur and Rodger Davies, who was introducing himself to the French teen. The Gryffindor nodded, following her friend.

"Lysandra Black," He folded his hands behind his back and straightened. "Would you do me the honor of accompanying me to the Yule Ball?"

Lysandra's eyes went wide, and she stared at the Seventh-Year with her mouth parted. She hadn't expected this. Cassius waited patiently, resisting his obvious urge to rock back on his heels. If he had asked Lysandra, that meant he wasn't going to go with Ines. Lysandra couldn't do that; she wasn't so selfish as to go with the only person who would ask her, despite his adored girlfriend, who was hovering by the staircase with hopeful eyes at the scene. Ines was selfless because she nodded encouragingly at Lysandra when they made eye contact.

"Cassius," She turned her silver eyes to meet his brown. "I appreciate your invitation, but I'm going to have to decline."

"You are?" He tilted his head slightly and dropped his hands into his pockets. "But Lysandra… If you don't go with me then – and I mean, I think you're a great person, and you're pretty but-"

"That's fine, Cas." She shrugged, a bit upset, but well-adjusted to this kind of thing by now. She wasn't chosen for partners in class, so who would choose her as a partner to dance. "I think you should go with Ines. But thank you, for the offer. It was kind of you."

"Yeah, well, don't go telling anyone. I've got a reputation, you know." He joked, a grin sliding across his face. He punched her gently on the shoulder and hurried over to Ines, who looked surprised but flashed a smile over at Lysandra, who waved.

"We both 'ave date for the Ball now, yes?" Fleur asked, sidling over with a pleased look on her face.

"No," Lysandra replied quietly, shrugging her shoulders. "But that's fine. I'll come down to see your dress, Fleur."

"Oh, mon cher," Fleur gave the younger girl a sympathetic look.

"It's fine," Lysandra shrugged, though she sounded a bit sad. "Listen, I've got some homework to finish. So I'll see you later, yeah?"

"Oui." Fleur wrapped the Gryffindor in a quick hug and then watched her younger friend head up the stairs.


Snow had begun falling over the castle the next week, and Hogwarts was busier than it had ever been during a holiday. The Tower was rowdier than ever and very crowded despite the homework piled on the upper Years. The Weasley Twins had been handing out a brilliant invention called a Canary Cream, and for the first couple of holiday days, people had been bursting into feathers all over the place. Eventually, everyone learned not to take food without extreme caution, and the number of lingering feathers diminished.

Lysandra had taken to curling up on one of the squishy chairs by the window, out of the way but able to watch anything interesting. She'd wrapped herself in one of the jumpers she'd stolen from Remus and a pair of leggings she'd bought while in the Muggle stores with Sirius over the summer. She'd tucked herself into as small of a ball as she comfortably could without impeding her ability to finish her OWL essays.

She was interrupted from her quiet stupor by the appearance of the Golden Trio in her corner of the room, and they barely noticed her when they sat, and Potter unrolled his letter and started to read it out loud.

"Dear Harry," Potter started quietly. "Congratulations on getting past the Horntail, whoever put your name in the Goblet shouldn't be feeling very happy right now! I was going to suggest a Conjunctivitis curse, as a dragon's eyes are its weakest point- "

"That's what Krum did." Granger hissed.

"-but your way was better, I'm impressed. Don't get complacent, though, Harry. You've only done one task; whoever put you in for the Tournament's got plenty more opportunity if they're trying to hurt you. Keep your eyes open – particularly when the person we discussed is around – and concentrate on keeping yourself out of trouble. Keep in touch; I still want to hear about anything unusual. Sirius."

"He sounds like Moody," Potter complained. "'Constant vigilance'! You'd think I walk around with my eyes shut, banging off the walls…"

"But he's right, Harry," Granger said. "You have still got two tasks to do. You really ought to have a look at that egg, you know, and start working out what it means..."

"Hermione, he's got ages!" Weasley snapped. "Want a game of chess, Harry?"

"Yeah, okay," Potter replied, looking away from Granger's scowl. "Come on, how'm I supposed to concentrate with all this noise going on? I won't even be able to hear the egg over this lot."

"I suppose not." She sighed.

Lysandra stretched as Weasley vanished upstairs to get his chess set, drawing Potter and Granger's attention to her. They both paled slightly and reached for their wands. Lysandra yawned and propped her head upon her hand.

"So," She smirked, watching their un-subtle wand pointing. "He'll reply to you, but not to me. That's rude."

"What?" Potter lowered his wand, looking surprised.

"Sirius, obviously. I knew you weren't the smartest, Potter, but really." She scoffed. "You wouldn't mind telling him to send me a letter, would you? He's probably avoiding replying to me."

"Well, I would." Granger sniffed.

"No one asked you." Lysandra snarled, straightening her back. "He spent the summer in my house, and I asked him to look after Remus. He left, so he knows I'm going to chew him out about it. Mention me in your next letter, Potter. Tell him I'm not mad."

And then she stood and lazily sauntered over to where Lee was agonizing over an essay.

"Remus?" Granger frowned, looking as though she was thinking heavily. "Why on earth…?"


Lee was keeping her company again, ignoring his homework from McGonagall while Lysandra did her own. He was tossing small balls of paper at a couple of third-year girls who were giggling in his direction, but acting like he wasn't.

"They're barmy, you know." He commented. "I wouldn't go to the ball with a twelve-year-old."

Lysandra hummed uncommenting and wrote another sentence for her essay. Lee slumped forward onto the table they were using and groaned, moving his hand at the last second to avoid knocking over her ink bottle. He'd done that once… never again.

"Fred and George keep blathering about it," Lee grumbled, turning his head to stare up at her with a frown. "Fred keeps bragging that he's going with Angelina, and George is pretty happy to do the same about Katie. Not that I have a problem with it… but if they aren't talking about their dates or their new products for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, then they're whispering to each other about super secret stuff that I'm not allowed to know about."

"Maybe they're whispering about something that involves you?" She offered, shrugging. Lee blew out a large gust of air and shook his head.

"Nawh. They'd be poking fun at my face, not whispering about it." He sighed, throwing himself back into his chair. "Oh hey, who are you going with? To the Ball, I mean."

"The Ball?" She asked. "I'm not going."

"What?!" Lee cried. "No one's asked you? Someone had to have asked you, boo! You're gorgeous!"

"Cassius did, but I turned him down so he could go with his girlfriend, Ines. It's not a big deal; I'll hang out here."

Lee's jaw dropped, and he threw his arms up, flailing in a completely dramatic and flabbergasted way. He spluttered, and she raised an eyebrow at his shock. Finally, he stopped and pointed a finger at her, rising to his feet.

"NO!" he cried. "You are going if I have to drag you in your pajamas and we will have oodles of fun, and there's nothing you can say about it 'cause it's happening, and so there!"

Lee heaved a breath and stared at his younger friend, though new she was. Her hair was pulled back into a messy bun, and her silver eyes were wide with surprise, and her pink mouth was parted slightly. She lowered her quill and titled her head like an inquisitive cat.

"But…. why?" She whispered.

Lee grinned, petting her head. "Because you are a wonderful person, Lizzie, and you deserve to have fun."

And in a completely surprising action – there seemed to be a lot of those going around at the moment – Lysandra Black flung herself at Lee Jordan and smothering him with a heavy hug. Lee wrapped his arms around the fourteen-year-old and smiled.

'You did a good thing, Lee Jordan.' He thought to himself. 'You did a really good thing. Go Lee.'


Fleur's surprisingly early breakfast was interrupted by a whirlwind of red, gold, and black – one that she eventually realized was Lysandra. The raven-haired girl looked flustered for the first time, and Fleur's brows lifted as she started to babble frantically.

"Calm down, mon cher." Fleur soothed, placing her hands on the younger girl's shoulders. "Tell me what is wrong."

"I need a dress!" Lysandra cried. "Lee Jordan is taking me to the Yule Ball, but I thought I wasn't going and now I don't have anything to wear!"

Fleur perked up immediately, bouncing on the balls of her feet as she plucked up the raven's hands. Lysandra looked confused as the Veela's face split into a large smile, and she started to herd her towards the Entrance Hall, and subsequently, the Beauxbatons carriage.

"It eez not a problem!" Fleur laughed at the confusion on Lysandra's pale face. "My cousin eez coming today, and she is bringing many gowns to try on. I am sure we will find you something lovely to wear, oui?"

"Really, Fleur?"

"But of course!"

The pair of girls hurried out the powder-blue carriage, and Fleur ushered her friend into the Beauxbatons accommodations. Madam Maxime looked up from where she was lounging on a very large chaise with a curious expression.

"Fleur," She said, gaining the blonde's attention. "Your cousin 'as arrived. She eez in your room."

"Merci, Madam," Fleur called back, dragging Lysandra after her. Despite the last-minute dress situation, Fleur seemed completely at ease. The blonde dragged her friend into her room by the wrist and threw herself into an embrace with another lovely blonde, who was equally as enthusiastic about the new addition.

"This eez Eve." Fleur introduced the pair, gesturing grandly with her hands. "Eve is Janine's older sister. Eve, this is Lysandra Black; she eez one of my best friends!"

Lysandra's mouth dropped open slightly at the announcement, shaking herself out of the surprise to offer her hand to Eve. Eve knocked her hand away and drew the Gryffindor into a hug.

"We will have you two looking beautiful!" she cried. Eve's accent was not as heavy as Fleur's, but it was still there, and every time she got truly excited, her accent would intensify. The blondes threw themselves into the rack of dresses Eve had brought, holding gowns up to Fleur and turning to ask Lysandra her opinion before tossing them away.

Eventually, Fleur settled on a lovely dress made of slivery-grey satin, with detailed silver flowers along with sweetheart neckline and over one of her shoulders and she looked stunning in it. She was twisting her hair up into a knot on the back of her head, while Eve was chattering about hair ornamentation when Lysandra saw the flash of dark purple at the end of the rack of dresses.

Maneuvering around Fleur and Eve's enthusiastic discussion, the fourteen-year-old shuffled to the rack and pulled the dark purple dress out to look. Most of Eve's designs were all pale colors and silky fabrics, which must have been why this particular dress had caught Lysandra's eye.

The dress was a dark royal purple with a one-shouldered lace overlay on the bodice and long flowing skirt of chiffon that would have the most wonderful twirling effect if she'd been wearing it. The high waist was embellished with a lovely silver belt of interlaced vines.

"Oh," Eve said, peering over Lysandra's shoulder. "I forgot that was there. I did not mean to bring that; dark colors are not in for formal wear right now."

"No, Eve." Fleur frowned, looking at her friend and the dress in her hands. "Let Lysandra try it on. I think it would look lovely on her."

"Well….. alright."


Draco Malfoy was heading down from the owlery, having just sent a letter to his mother, when he heard someone mention his sister.

"At this point," the person said, and it took Draco a moment to realize that it was one of the Ravenclaw boys in his year. "I'd take that Malfoy girl."

"Haven't you heard?" His friend replied. "She's not a Malfoy anymore; she's taken up the Black name."

"Does it matter?" The Ravenclaw scoffed. Draco thought his name was Boot or something. "She's right attractive if you can get over the fact she's Malfoy's twin."

"You couldn't ask her anyway," His friend informed Boot. "I heard she's going with an older student."

"You know, Rodger said that Warrington asked her." Boot mused, their voices coming closer to the steps of the owlery. Draco scowled.

"I don't think it's him. Warrington is dating that Edgecombe girl in Seventh Year. Either way, you can't ask Lysandra Black, so you'll have to ask someone else. I heard Granger is going with someone too. Eloise Midgen might not have a date yet; she's not that bad looking."

"Ugh," Boot grumbled as they passed by the owlery. Their voices had started to fade. "Better Black than Midgen. At least, Black's attractive."

"True."

Draco held back the urge to send a hex at the boys and sighed heavily with frustration. He hadn't spoken to his sister for what seemed like a year, despite their last interaction when he was briefly a ferret. She wandered around the castle alone, but he'd seen her speaking with the Beauxbatons champion and Cassius Warrington often. He'd never actually seen Lysandra with someone her age, and despite his annoyance that she was going with an older student, Draco wasn't all that surprised.

He was surprised she was going at all, honestly.


Fred and George Weasley had finally stopped bragging about their dates for the Ball long enough to look at Lee with confusion. Normally, the boisterous Sixth Year would be bragging right alongside them, but he'd yet to even make a peep about who he was going with, and now it was bordering on nine-thirty on Christmas Eve.

"Lee, mate," Fred dropped onto his bed and stared at his dreadlocked friend. Lee looked over with a small grin. "You haven't said anything about your date."

"Do you have one?" George scratched his head, mimicking his twin's position on his bed. Lee smirked and burrowed himself under his covers smugly.

"Why, yes I do." He replied, crossing his arms behind his head and looking amused.

"Well?" The twins looked expectant. Lee continued smirking and pointed his wand at the lights.

"Nox."

The boys Sixth Year dorm went dark, and the twins protested instantly, bringing the lights back on with the reverse spell. Lee let out an obnoxious snore, and rolled over, holding back laughter.

"Lee!"

"You'll find out tomorrow," Lee finally said, after he got tired of the twins throwing things at him. "But I can guarantee you that you'll be surprised."


Many of the girls seemed to have vanished from existence once five o' clock rolled around. Lysandra and Fleur were no exception, vanishing into the Beauxbatons carriage where the other girls darted in and out of each others' rooms asking for this or that. Fortunately, Fleur and Lysandra remained relatively undisturbed.

Fleur, being as lovely as she was naturally, took much less time to ready herself than Lysandra, who was nervously staring at her hair as she twisted it in a million different styles with a flick of her wand. She used to love watching her mother ready herself for the various gatherings and balls of the pureblood society, but her mother had made this all look effortless.

"Let me 'elp." Fleur said, removing Lysandra's hands from her mane of black hair. Lysandra's hair was a strange mix of straight and wavy, as though it couldn't decide what it wanted to be, but Fleur was a talented witch, and soon she'd managed to style Lysandra's hair into a lovely half-updo. She'd turned the younger girl to face her soon after, and attacked her face with a plethora of brushes and spells.

"Fleur," Cerise poked her head into their room. "It's time to go. Oh! Lysandra, you look lovely!"

"Thank you, Cerise." Lysandra smiled nervously at the girl and followed the Beauxbatons pair out of the carriage and into the Entrance Hall, where went their separate ways. Rodger Davies looked pleased as punch when Fleur slid up beside him and took his arm, throwing a beaming smile down at the part-Veela.

Nervously, Lysandra fiddled with her fingers, looking around for Lee. She saw her brother out of the corner of her eye briefly, a weak smile tilting her lips up at his stiff-collared robes, unamused expression, and the pink poof that was Pansy on his arm. Weasley and Potter hurried their way down the stairs, and Lysandra did a double-take at the ginger's… interesting maroon robes. He didn't look happy about it, and Potter was fighting a smile every time his best friend tried to tuck the lace on his sleeves out of sight.

The arrival of the Weasley twins had the raven-haired girl heaving a sigh because usually, Lee wasn't far behind them. The Weasley twins' dates looked lovely, and Lysandra could suddenly understand why Lee was complaining about their bragging; the two Gryffindor girls were two of the best looking in their House.

"Well," One of the twins said loudly, turning to look at Lee, who had appeared behind them. "Where's your mysterious date?"

Lee's eyes swooped over the Entrance Hall, and he nodded in Lysandra's direction, hurrying over to her with a large grin. He bowed dramatically to her as he came to a halt, snatching up her hand to plant a kiss on her knuckles.

"My dearest Lizzie," He cried, straightening with his usual cheerful grin on his face. "You look ravishing."

"Thank you." She murmured, feeling the blush that spread across her cheeks. Lee tugged her towards him and tucked her arm in his before leading her back to the twins, who looked stunned. She lowered her eyes and brushed her hand over her dress, feeling a bit self-conscious at their sudden silence.

"Lee…." The twin with Angelina Johnson said quietly. "I think you were right."

Lee Jordan looked incredibly smug, adjusting the purple tie around his neck. "I know. And if you'll excuse me, my lovely date and I have somewhere to be."

McGonagall was herding the all the students into the Great Hall so that they could sit for dinner. Lee lead Lysandra over to one of the round tables near where the judges were sitting at the staff table, and once they were seated, and joined by Fred and George, Lysandra let herself take in the decorations.

The walls of the Hall were all covered in sparkling silver-blue frost, while hundreds of garlands of mistletoe and ivy crossed the starry black ceiling. The House tables were all replaced by about a hundred smaller, lantern-lit ones, which each sat about a dozen people. Long icicles decorated the corners of the room, and the tables were covers with shimmering silver fabric. The usual golden tableware had been replaced with glass goblets and twinkling silver plates.

The champions paraded themselves into the Hall, heading up to join the judges. Viktor Krum had Granger on his arm, dressed in a periwinkle blue dress that fluttered around her feet, and she had tamed her hair – which must have been a feat – and looked stunning; Fleur was leading her stunned partner along, looking pleased with herself; Potter was being pulled along like a show dog by one of the Patil twins, who was adorned in eye-killing pink; Cassius Warrington looked completely at ease in his dress robes, leading Ines beside him with a soft look in his eyes and he threw a discrete smile at the younger pureblood as he passed. Ines was grinning ear to ear, wearing robes of rose-gold and her hair caught up in a net of sparkling gold flowers.

Once the champions were seated, Dumbledore cleared his throat as he picked up the silver menu in front of him, and then very clearly said to his plate, "Pork chops!"

And steaming pork chops appeared. The Hall filled with chatter at once, each person eyeing the menu and telling their plates. Lee enthusiastically asked for pork chops too, while Lysandra debated over steak or fish, before deciding on a rare steak. And she thanked the house-elves when it appeared because it was done exactly the way she liked it.

"Rare meat?" Lee asked around his forkful of mashed potatoes. Lysandra eyed him but nodded.

"I prefer it." She replied, daintily cutting off a bite and placing it into her mouth. Lee nodded, looking deep in thought for a moment before he returned to his food.

"Do you want to try the pork?" He asked, lifting a fork with a bite of his meal on it. Lysandra nodded, lifting her hand to take it from him, but Lee shook his head with a cheeky smirk. "Open up."

"Lee," Lysandra whined quietly, pouting when he lifted an eyebrow and went to put the pork in his mouth. She sighed and then leaned forward to take the pork from his fork. Lee looked smug, shooting an eyebrow wiggle at his identical friends.

"Well?" He asked her. She nodded thoughtfully.

"My steak is better, and I'd offer you some, but rare steak is an acquired taste." She teased. He laughed, nodding.

The table made polite small talk, laughing occasionally, and when all the food had been consumed, Dumbledore stood up and asked the students to do the same. With a wave of his wand, all the tables zoomed back along the walls, leaving the floor clear, and then he conjured a raised platform into existence along the right wall. A set of drums, several guitars, a lute, a cello, and some bagpipes were set upon it, and the Weird Sisters trooped up onto the stage to enthusiastic applause.

The champions made their way to the empty dance floor, and when the Weird Sisters stuck up a slow, mournful tune, began to dance. After a couple of minutes, and after Dumbledore had joined in on the dancing with McGonagall, Lee offered Lysandra his hand.

"Care to dance?"

She took his hand with a wide grin, and he pulled her onto the floor, sweeping her easily into a complicated waltz.

"I didn't know you could dance, Mister Jordan." She teased, sweeping past an awkward Potter and Patil. Lee nodded, turning her easily as they went past Snape, who was lingering in a corner. He looked surprised to see Lysandra but nodded sharply at her.

"Why, yes, I do, Miss Black!" He crowed, picking up the pace as the song change. "My father taught me for a cousin's wedding a couple of years ago."

"Well, he did a good job." She remarked, swinging under his arm and twirling outward, narrowly missing a Hufflepuff prefect and his date, who smiled good-naturedly. Lee tugged her back, grinning, and swept her around the room again, calling out greetings to the twins, who were dancing rather dangerously with their partners. The Weird Sisters drew their song to a close, and Lee stepped away from Lysandra to bow, receiving a low curtsy in return.

The next song that the famous musicians struck up was much faster paced, and Lee rubbed the back of his neck.

"Unfortunately, he never taught me how to tango." He laughed. Cassius swept in between the two Gryffindors with a cheeky smirk, swooping Lysandra into the proper hold.

"Allow us to demonstrate then." He teased, throwing a wink at his girlfriend who looked on curiously.

"I'd like to see those pureblood lesson come to some use. Shall we watch over there, Jordan?"

"This will be most interesting." He agreed, leading Ines to a spot on the edge of the dance floor.

Most of the students and teachers had vacated the floor, the teachers with amusement and the students with confusion. Dance classes had been offered to the Gryffindors, Lysandra knew, but they only covered the basic waltz. The tango, on the other hand, was something that all pureblood children were taught, along with a plethora of other ballroom styles. Lysandra had enjoyed her lessons far more than her brother, who she caught a glimpse of as Cassius snapped her around. He was sulking next to Pansy, who looked very pink and put out.

"You ended up coming," Cassius commented with a small but kind smile. She smirked back, leaning over his supporting arm and tossing her leg around his in a move that added an Argentine flair.

"Apparently, I didn't have a choice in the matter. He threatened to drag me down in my pajamas." She replied, pivoting quickly. Several of the more Muggle-orientated students were watching the pureblood dominated floor with stunned awe, nudging their friends. There were a few students who weren't taking the dance seriously and were marching with stiff arms to-and-fro.

"I'm glad you came." He chuckled, switching directions. The pair breezed past Fleur and her date, who was keeping up rather nicely, and they nodded in greeting.

The Weird Sisters brought the song to a close, and the lead singer leaned into the microphone as the purebloods exited the floor. "Let's speed things up a bit! Move your body like a hairy troll, learning to rock and roll-!"

Lee dragged Lysandra back into the fray the second Cassius handed her back, yelling about how he loved this song. It took a couple of seconds for Lee to help her get into the swing of things, but soon she was grooving with the rest of the Gryffindor Sixth Year Boys and their dates.

Angelina yelled something about punch and dragged off her twin shortly afterward, and Katie and her twin vanished into the throbbing crowd seconds after her. Lee laughed, tossing his head back and forth. Lysandra rolled her eyes at his hilarious movements and threw her arms above her head.

"I think," Lee shouted to her over the music a couple of songs later. "That this is the most fun I've ever seen you have!"

"It probably is." She replied loudly, her large smile dimming slightly. Lee slid his arm around her waist and maneuvered her through the crowd and out into the garden outside the Entrance Hall. Both were breathing heavily, and Lysandra's hair clung to her damp neck and temples. The cool air outside was rather pleasant compared to the stifling dance floor, and Lee led her over to a bench just off the path.

"Lysandra," he said quietly, placing one of his hands on hers. She glanced at the gentle touch with surprise before meeting his sad gaze. "Why don't you have more fun here? Hogwarts is amazing."

"It is." She sighed, dropping his gaze in favor of the lake, which was easier to stare at. "Hogwarts is amazing. I love it here. I just…. I've been told my whole life that I'm to be seen and not heard, that to be a Slytherin was going to be my greatest achievement, and that I would someday be the wife of some other pureblooded Slytherin and that because I was a Malfoy, everyone would love me. Look at me now, Lee: I'm the Gryffindor disgrace, I have no friends, and my greatest achievement is that I skipped a year in three classes. I'm-"

"Amazing." Lee interrupted, his hands gently cupping her cheeks so that she would look at him. "You are an amazing, brave, wonderful person, Lysandra. You're so smart, darling. You are smart and beautiful, and you're the Head of an Ancient House, and Lysandra, girl, you do have friends! You have Warrington and Ines and Fleur! And me. You have me."

"Lee…" She breathed, her eyes wet and her mouth quivering. Lee ducked his head close to her and smiled. Maybe it was the music, or maybe it was the atmosphere, maybe it was the glittering fairy lights that cast twinkling patterns in Lee's dark eyes, or maybe it was the way he held her face, but something fluttered in Lysandra's chest, and she sucked in a breath

"I'm going to kiss you now." He said, and then his lips were on hers.