Chapter 1 : The Dream
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Muo moved into the clearing, gazing up at the large castle walls as the heavy rain beat down upon his hooded cloak. The castle was known to the wizarding world as Hogwarts, school for the adept in the art of bewitchment. This school, he thought, was his ticket in. He started to sink into a fantasy of riches and greatness, picturing his tiny, grey head capped with a shining crown, wearing the finest robes in the land when a loud 'snap!' made him come to his senses.
He whirled around in the darkness, seeing a large man, or at least half of a man standing directly behid him. The man's horned head rested on his broad upper torso, which gave way to a pair of goat-like legs, covered in rough, brown fur. A satyr, he knew. The large creature moved towards the little man revealing his moustached face and long, pointed goatee.
'Piddel, you fool!' Muo screeched, hopping off the tree stump he was standing on. He landed with a thud and walked to face the large satyr, barely reaching up past it's knees. 'Be quiet! You're going to get us caught!' he scolded.
'Sorry..' Piddel said weakly, bowing his head as if he had commited a terrible travesty.
'Yes, you had better be! If it weren't for my... well, you'd be out on your bottom faster than you could say "Firewhisky" if I didn't need your bulk for this task, you imbecile!' Muo yelled, spinning angrily, and in the process, tripping over Piddel's large foot. The little man landed on the sopping wet ground with a loud splash, drenching the satyr with a small wave of mud and water.
The satyr heard a gurgling noise, and figured he ought to pull the little man from the puddle. He reached down and grabbed Muo by the head, lifting him easily in the air. Muo hung there, glaring ferociously at the satyr, silently promising to curse all of the large goat-man's relatives, even the ones that weren't alive. 'Put me down!' he screamed, flailing his arms wildly.
Piddel dropped the little man straight down, and into the puddle again. Muo leapt up, large veins breaking on the side of his head with rage. 'You...' he started, quivering with rage, but stopped mid-insult. 'There's no time! We only have tommorrow night to finish the plans, if were to succeed in taking the castle!' he said finally.
'As soon as the sleep finishes, the spell will take hold, and I'll be on the teacher's table with my servants within a week!' Muo screeched excitedly, almost tipping himself into the puddle again.
'Just you wait, Piddel, just you wait...' the little man said quietly, rubbing his grubby little hands over one another and staring yet again at the castle walls.
* * * *
The Great Hall fluttered quietly as the students sat down to eat their breakfast. The school had been hit by a series of heavy rainstorms the entire week, and most of the students had spent the nights trying to ignore the rain pelting down on the hard stone walls of the castle, becoming tired and sleepy during the days. This morning, the bewitched ceiling took on a dewy gold color, as if the sun was peeking lazily through the thin rainclouds.
Harry, Ron and Hermione sat at the Gryffindor table, chatting idly about their next classes, the nearest due dates ('What? Binns wants how many rolls of parchment!?), and the first day without rain in over a week. In Harry's four years at Hogwarts, he had never seen a downpour like the past week's. He figured Hagrid's cabin must have floated halfway into the Forbidden Forest by now, and wondered if he would go and find his half-giant friend after his first set of classes. No sooner had Harry finished his sleepy thoughts, Hagrid had appeared through the door behind the teacher's table. He sat down in his seat and tucked his large, muddy boots under the table, giving Harry a wink.
The whole castle seemed to be under a spell the past week, seeming lazy and unconcerned. Inside, protected from the rain, the students went about their daily activities at a slower pace then usual, and when they were not working, students could often be found snoozing contentedly on pouffy armchairs in the common rooms. Even Harry's Quidditch practices had been cancelled due to the storms, and he was starting to wear down under the blanket of calm placed over the castle.
This morning the teachers talked quietly between themselves and, Harry noticed, kept casting excited glances at Professor Dumbledore. Professor McGonagall was leaning to her side, elbowing Dumbledore playfully, and Professor Flitwick was grinning ear to ear.
'What do you think they're on about?' asked Ron, motioning towards the teachers.
'I'm not certain,' replied Harry.
'Maybe they're thinking of replacing the desks with beds,' Ron offered, 'seeing as how half the students are falling asleep during classes.'
Harry had to agree with Ron, well, for the most part. Just yesterday, Neville Longbottom had fallen asleep in Snape's potions class, slumping headfirst into his Hair Growth mixture. He had spent more than three hours shaving off his facial hair, which had extended up to his eyes and into his nose.
Dumbledore finally nodded, clearing his throat and calling the students' attention by chiming his spoon off of his goblet.
'As you all may know,' he began, 'the castle has been at the centre of a very nasty storm this past week, and today has been the first rain-free day for quite some time. The teachers and I have been hoping the rain would die off as it has, for it is a sure sign of great things to come.'
'I wonder what he means?' asked Hermione.
'Once, every twenty years, a rather splendid event takes place.' Dumbledore went on. 'The day after a vicious storm is said to posess strange powers. On that day, chemistry is altered, minds become calmed, and the senses are felt more keenly than any other time of the year.' he elaborated. 'This day is called the Spring Valse, and this day has now come upon us, and we will be celebrating the occasion with a small dance, to be attended by third years and above,' a loud groan escaped the younger students, 'tonight.' he finished.
'Tonight!?' shrieked Pavarti Patil, a Gryffindor fourth year, 'but I haven't anything to wear!'
'Surely we'll be given more time?' cried Lavender Brown, another Gryffindor fourth year.
'Clam yourselves, Miss Patil and Miss Brown,' chuckled Dumbledore, 'to accomodate the ball tonight, classes will be cancelled for today.' he explained. 'And if any student wishes to bring a partner to the ball tonight, they may.' he finished.
A murmur spread through the Great Hall as students talked excitedly about the night's events, the girls at the tables seeming rather giggly.
'Well, that leaves me three hours to finish my homework.' said Hermione promptly.
'Homework? For heaven's sake, Hermione, take a day off!' Ron said, exaspertated.
Hermione looked as if she'd just been insulted. 'I have work to do,' she told him. 'See you at lunch.'
She stalked out of the Great Hall as Ron sat and shook his head, 'Not right in the head, that one.' he said, bewildered.
Harry sat silently, watching Hermione walk out of the Great Hall, thinking deeply about the events to come.
* * * *
Harry walked into the Gryffindor common room some time later. He had been deep in thought ever since Dumbledore's announcement at breakfast. His thoughts were heavy, as if a great weight had been placed upon his shoulders, and Harry felt a strong urge to lie down.
Seeing no one in the common room, Harry curled up on a large armchair near the fire. He sat looking into the dancing, orange flames. The flames took on an almost hypnotic pattern, the tongues licking in and out around each other, sending brilliant jets of yellow into the air above them. Harry wondered if the air of the Spring Valse carried any truth, if people's actions did indeed, change in some way. Harry lay with someone on his mind. That someone had been a bother, not in an annoying way, but in another Harry could not quite put his finger on. Harry closed his eyes and fell silent in front of the blazing hearth. The waves of heat rolled over him like a blanket, and as he lay there pondering in front of the fire, he slipped into a deep sleep.
Harry looked around. He was still in the common room, but there was another person standing against the wall opposite to him. She was standing perfectly straight, her hands placed in one another in front of her stomach. Harry couldn't see her face, but knew from her figure that she was indeed female. She was wearing something that looked like a silk dress, which caught the fire in it's reflection, looking a brilliant shade of red and gold. The dress hung on her every curve, and, as Harry noticed, seemed to accentuate her formidable body. A haze hung around her head, clouding Harry's vision and preventing him from identifying her.
The girl turned around, and Harry seemed to become warmer. He still couldn't see her face, but her bushy hair hung noticeably around her shoulders. Harry flailed his arms in an attempt to scatter the heavy cloak of haze. As he was swinging wildly, the girl put her hands on his, and he stopped, feeling unusually calm. The only time Harry had ever felt this way was when he was gazing at Cho Chang, the girl who palyed seeker in Hufflepuff house. He had felt like he was in love with Cho, but now, standing in front of this mystery girl, he was starting to think otherwise.
Harry started to say something, but the girl put a finger to his lips. She leaned towards him, whispering something into his ear that he couldn't make out, then placed her lips tenderly against his, and the both of them became absorbed in a long kiss. Harry felt relaxed, but excited at the same time as a faint smell of strawberries washed over him. He put his hand gently around the back of the girl's head, knowing this was entirely impossible, but hardly caring. The two stood, kissing for longer than Harry had thought possible, not caring who or what walked in on them. In Harry's mind, it was just him and this mystery girl.
He was about to place his hand on the girl's hip, when he heard the girl issue a large 'croak!'
Harry awoke with a start, and looked right at Trevor, a toad belonging to Neville Longbottom, who had taken it upon himself to sit on Harry's face. Harry sat upright, wiping slime off his lips, as Trevor hopped off and up the staircase.
'Well, at least it wasn't Crookshanks,' said Harry aloud, knowing fully if he had tried to kiss the tempermental cat in his sleep, he would have ended up in the hospital for the rest of term.