"You've got to be kidding me." Tigga tore the flyer from the bulletin board, a look of horror etched onto her face. The girls around her, however, were all giggling quite excitedly. None of them saw Hermione walking up.

"What's wrong? What's happened?"

Tigga shoved the flyer towards her. "Look at this!"

Hermione blinked and read over the paper. "A ball? But Dumbledore can't possibly expect to be able to organize a Halloween Ball this late! It's only in a few days!"

Lavender giggled. "Not a proper ball, no dress robes. It's a costume party."

Tigga gave a groan and walked out of the great doors. Hermione shoved the flyer at Lavender and ran after her. "Tigga! Wait up!" Why did her daughter have such long legs? "Antigone!"

The taller girl stopped and turned around, her expression mournful. "I can't dance."

Hermione stopped with a blink. "Pardon?"

Tigga sighed and sat down, unceremoniously, onto a stone bench. "I'm only graceful on a broomstick. The moment I get onto a dance floor, these boats that pass themselves off as feet get all tangled up." As if to emphasize the point, she straightened her legs out, bringing her heels onto the ground with a solid thunk.

Given all the current trials and tribulations in Antigone's life at the moment that she would be upset because she feared making a fool of herself at a dance was quite humorous. Hermione reminded herself not to laugh at the other girl's predicament. She sat down beside her. "Well, it is a clever idea."

Antigone frowned. "How so?"

"If there's a ball, then it would be suspicious if the Slytherins missed it, and Professor Snape will have to remain as a chaperone. This way you don't have to worry about attending the revel."

"I think I'd rather be in detention for doing something against school rules then have to go to a dance." She flopped her feet back and forth a bit, hitting her shoes together. "I don't have a clue what to dress up as."

"Oh, well, I don't either. But, we're two rather intelligent individuals with a grand library at our disposal. I'm certain we can come up with something."

"I was here, I had just come through the doors, and Malfoy was standing over there, about a foot to the right of where Minerva is standing."

"I see." Dumbledore was going over the scene with her. The cold, night air chilled her bony knees, slicing through her robes.

"Albus, isn't it kind of silly to send me right back to where someone tried to kill me?"

The ancient wizard chuckled. "I don't plan to send you back unprepared or unprotected, Tigga. You will be safe. And, since we know about the attack, it is highly doubtful that your father wasn't already on his way to the tower."

She folded her arms, not looking entirely convinced and more than a bit frightened. Minerva smiled and moved to her side, pulling the girl to her. "Don't worry, Miss Snape. We aren't about to let anything serious happen to you."

"I know. I'm just scared." She wrapped her arms around the teacher and indulged in a moment of comfort.

"Only a foolish person wouldn't be." Albus turned towards her with a twinkling gaze. "I think I have a better idea of things. And, now, I think we all need a very large mug of hot chocolate. This wind is too harsh on old bones."

They returned to the Headmaster's office where they all had a large mug of cocoa, with marshmallows for Tigga and a generous amount of schnapps for Albus and Minerva. After that, she left with a half-skip through the corridors. There was just enough time to get another thirty minutes of study time in the library, then a raid to the kitchens to see if she could get a few biscuits from the house elves.


She turned to see Ron Weasley coming out of one of the classrooms with a group of students that were a variety of Gryffindors, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. "Hey! Study group?"

The tall boy grinned and held up his transfiguration book. "How'd you guess?" He walked over to her as the bulk of the others went in different directions. "What brings you out here alone?"

"Oh! I was just on my way to the library."

Ron rolled his eyes. "I think Hermione has been a bad influence on you."

"And then I was going to raid the kitchens."

"But Harry and me have obviously been a great one!" Ron grinned brightly. "I could really go for some more of that pudding we had a dinner. Want some company, Miss Snape?"

Tigga smiled. "I would be honored, Mr. Weasley." They hurried away and made their way to the kitchens. Yes, there was pudding left, and cake, and biscuits and pumpkin juice and even some of the very fine roast beef. She and Ron took a seat at one of the duplicate house tables as the house elves brought them trays of food. Tigga was spearing into a perfectly roasted small potato as Ron chased down a mouthful of roast with a gulp of juice. He must be preparing to say something serious, because he rarely bothered to swallow before speaking.

"Antigone… did you hear about that dance Dumbledore's throwing Monday night?"

"The costume party? Yeah, I saw the flyer. Why?"

Ron pushed the roast around his plate. "Well, I was thinking, if you didn't have anyone… do ya wanna go with me?"

Tigga paused. The questions just seemed… odd. This was Ron-Ron… the goofy guy who used to help her pull pranks on her parents and bought her gifts at his brothers' joke shop. She had always thought he was cute, even had a bit of a crush on him when she was eleven, but be his date?

Her hesitation must have gone on too long, because he began to falter. "You probably have someone all ready."

"I'd love to!" It just came out before she could think. Once she had said it, she felt good about it. "I'd really like that."

Ron looked as though someone had hit him with a beater's club before breaking out in a wide smile. "Really? I mean… that's great! Oh! Let me get that." He topped off her goblet, hands shaking a bit. It was rather… sweet.

"So… what do we go as?"

Ron shrugged. "Dunno. Hadn't thought that far ahead. Not enough time for anyone to really buy a costume, so I guess we'll have to dig something up. Maybe transfigure something."

Tigga bit her bottom lip lightly. "Uhm… do you mind if I did that part? Transfiguration really isn't your best subject."

He looked as though he was about to protest, but stopped himself and gave a shrug that signaled he agreed…albeit with some reluctance.

"Absolutely not! I forbid it!"

Tigga gave a groan of frustration. "But why? Give me one good reason."

"Because I said so!"

"Oh! That's intelligent! You know, this is just like when Max Creevey asked me to the Three Broomsticks. You were a complete idiot then, too!"

"Creevey! It's bad enough that you're sorted into Gryffindor. Do you have to date them, too?"

"I happen to like being in Gryffindor, and Maximillian Creevey is a Ravenclaw, and he's bloody brilliant, and he's a shoe-in for Head Boy next year!" She kicked the sofa as she passed it, her temper raging. "This is just so like you! I can play Quidditch. I can join the Dueling Club. I can even go flying on the back of a hippogriff. But let one boy get the guts to ask out the Potions Master's Daughter and you start treating me like a five-year-old!"

Snape wasn't going to budge. "At the moment you're behaving exactly like a five-year-old!"

"Dad! Dumbledore came up with this idea to fix it so we didn't have to show at that revel. Can't I at least enjoy it? Ron's a really nice guy."

"Who happens to be more than twenty years your senior."

"Not at the moment, and what about you and Mom?"

"That's not the same!" But it was… a bit. "Regardless, I forbid you to go to the dance with Ronald Weasley. End of the discussion. Now, get to bed. It's late." He turned her about and gave her a firm shove towards her bedroom door.

Tigga gritted her teeth, snatched up her book satchel and stalked off into the other room, slamming the door behind her in a last bit of open defiance. She threw her satchel aside yanked off her tie to hurl it into a corner. "Prat!"

Honestly. Fathers could be so stupid!