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Return to Prince Manor by Snapegirl
Chapter 11 : Arrivals and Departures
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 16

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Pansy whimpered, a look of dread on her pug-like face, as Snape hauled her down the hallway and up the stairs to the upper levels of the castle. “Sir, please! Don’t expel me, please! My parents would die of shame if that happened.” She started to cry again.

“Quit with that sniveling! Crocodile tears won’t work on me, Miss Parkinson!” The professor growled. “You should have thought about that before you resorted to dark spells and hexed my son because of your pitiful obsession. Now you will face the consequences of your actions. We are going to pay a visit to the Headmaster, Parkinson, for any student caught using dark magic knowingly must be reported to him.”

“Is he gonna . . .expel me?” she whined, making Snape long to shake her till her head fell off.

“I have no idea, Parkinson. Though if it were me in his place, I would have your wand snapped and you sent out of the castle on a rail. Your playing about with dark spells might well have killed or permanently harmed Draco!” His hand closed even tighter about her wrist, and she yelped. He ignored her and half-dragged her to the gargoyle statue.

“Acid Pops,” he muttered, then the gargoyle slid aside and the two stepped up onto the staircase. “You ought to count yourself lucky that Dumbledore is Headmaster, girl. Perhaps he will show you mercy. I, on the other hand, feel like showing you the back of my hand, you conniving little vixen!”

Pansy sniffled, terrified. She had never seen the Potions Master so furious before and all of his formidable temper was directed at her. “I . . .I didn’t mean to hurt Draco, sir. I only wanted to . . .to teach him a lesson.”

Snape whirled on her, looming like some gigantic raptor, his eyes blazing black fire. “Oh really?” he hissed, and the quiet tone was somehow a dozens times scarier than if he had screamed at her. “Lying does not become you, girl. Don’t bother trying to convince me with your pitiful excuses, save that for the Headmaster. For I know the truth. You thought to play the wronged lover, seeking repayment for my son’s refusal of your advances, and when ordinary means failed, you turned to dark enchantments to revenge yourself upon him. You did not care how you hurt him, so long as your pride was satisfied. And that is the truth, Parkinson, and both of us know it! Now you reap what you sow, and fake tears and platitudes will not save you.”

They had reached Dumbledore’s office and Severus rapped sharply upon the door, hoping that the old wizard had not left for a meeting with the Minister or Ludo Bagman or Bartemius Crouch, Senior.

“Come in,” called Dumbledore.

Severus entered, hauling Pansy behind him like a sack of oats. “Good afternoon, Headmaster. I have a grave breach of school rules to report to you.”

“Severus! My, but you look mad enough to spit fire like a Hungarian Horntail. What seems to be the problem?” the Headmaster asked, sensing immediately that Severus’s temper had reached its boiling point and it would not do to act as if this were an ordinary visit.

“Here is the problem, Headmaster. Miss Parkinson has admitted to me this afternoon that she was behind the hexing of Draco, that she knowingly used a book of dark magic to cast a spell to cause grievous harm upon my son.” He withdrew a slender black volume from the pocket of his robes. “Here is the tome of black witchery.” He tossed it to the Headmaster, who caught it and opened it, examining it with a frown.

Pansy groaned when she saw the familiar volume, but stopped at a thunderous look from her Head of House.

Snape’s hands gripped her shoulders firmly from behind, holding her fast like some vicious bird-of-prey, forcing her to stand before the Headmaster’s desk, ignoring the comfortable horsehair stuffed chairs in the front of it.

Dumbledore was silent for several minutes, as he perused the slender volume, his frown growing darker and darker as he did so. When he finally closed the book with a sharp snap and lifted his eyes to the irate Head of Slytherin and his misbehaving student, his formally twinkling eyes were dark with disapproval, disappointment, and anger. “Miss Parkinson, you have committed a very serious breach of school policy by having this book upon your person, and even worse, studying it and casting the spell within its pages. As a member of Slytherin House, I don’t think I need to tell you how much your actions have hurt the integrity and honor of your House, which Professor Snape has been trying to improve this year. Your actions reflect poorly upon your Housemates, your Head of House, and especially yourself. Not to mention the school as a whole. Hogwarts was once home to a powerful dark wizard, unknowingly, but I swore afterwards that I would not allow dark magic to be practiced ever again within its walls.” He half rose, his cerulean flashing chained lightning. “And yet I find you casting spells of darkest compulsion and agony upon a fellow student, your Housemate no less! What have you to say for yourself, young lady?”

Pansy began to blubber and weep, but Dumbledore remained firm, for once, not giving an inch, glowering down upon her like a stern inflexible judge of the Wizengamut.

“I’m am waiting for an explanation,” the Headmaster said in a steely tone few had ever heard him use.

Severus gave her a slight shake. “Answer the Headmaster, Parkinson!”

“O-Okay!” She stuttered, then began offering up the same lame excuses she had given to Severus, her eyes wide in frightened desperation.

Dumbledore listened intently to her halting rendition of the night she had altered Draco’s nighttime draft of Nasal Elixir. “I did it to get back at him for going out with a stupid Gryffie! How could he choose Granger over me, she’s not even a pureblood or a Slytherin! He was promised to me since we were kids.”

“A betrothal agreement?” queried the elder wizard. Pansy nodded.

“One that her father broke after it was revealed that Draco was no longer a supporter of the Dark Lord,” Severus interjected. “He severed the agreement, young lady, releasing any claim you might have thought you had on him. But instead of leaving things alone, you refused to accept it, and pursued my son relentlessly, even when he had made it clear to you that he no longer welcomed your attentions.”

“Because he was getting it on with that frizzy-haired bitch!” spat Pansy angrily.

“Parkinson!” Snape snarled. “You will restrain that foul mouth of yours immediately or I shall do it for you!”

“And is that reason enough for you to hurt Draco so badly, young lady?” Albus demanded and there was not a trace of pity in his face. He looked very much like a judge from medieval days, stern and inflexible. “You might have caused him irreparable damage had the curse not been removed when it was. He might have been unable to have children or something worse. You say you loved him? Then how could you bear to see him in so much pain, child?”

“He hurt me too!” Pansy sniffled.

“Two wrongs do not make a right, Miss Parkinson,” Severus snapped. “Or were you absent when your teacher taught that in primary school? I think you do not realize just how much you harmed my son with your little bit of revenge. Perhaps you would sing a different tune were you to see just how that spell affected Draco.”

“What do you mean?”

“Headmaster, may I borrow your Pensieve?”

“Of course, Severus.” Dumbledore gestured and the stone bowl flew out of the cabinet behind his desk and landed in front of the pair with a thump.

Severus placed his wand to his temple and withdrew all his memories of watching his son writhing in agony under that curse and placed them inside the stone bowl. Then he lowered his wand and said coldly, “Part of your punishment, Parkinson, is to view these memories of Draco I have placed here. Then maybe you will not be so quick to use dark magic next time.” He stabbed his wand down at the swirling surface of silvery liquid. “Look!”

Pansy shook her head. “No!”

Severus’s hand tightened like a vise. “Either you look of your own free will, Parkinson, or I shall make you do so, and I don’t particularly care if I drown you doing it.”

“Severus!” Albus protested. “There is no need to scare the child to death.”

“No? I shall not have another Bellatrix LeStrange in my House, Headmaster!”

“View the memories, child,” Albus urged, a bit more gently than his Potions professor. “Sometimes the consequences of one’s actions are not always apparent unless seen through another’s eyes.”

Gulping, Pansy lowered her head and stuck her face into the Pensieve.

Severus remained standing over her, the look on his face could have slain a demon, it was so lethal. “Albus, you had better do more than assign her detention with Filch for this, or I swear I shall resign. I will not tolerate attacks upon my children, for whatever reason. This is one place they should be safe, and yet I find they are in as much danger here as if they attended a Death Eater meeting.” He scowled blackly. “Ask her where she got the book, for such a volume is often passed down from mother to daughter, especially in pureblood families. I want it destroyed and her parents informed of her actions, and none of your pussyfooting about either. I want you to tell them exactly what she did to Draco and tell them she is facing expulsion for using dark magic.”

“Very well, Severus.” Albus agreed without argument. “She will not be let off lightly, my friend. She shall be put on probation and face a board of inquiry and I shall take her wand away for the duration of the term. Do you wish to hold detention with her or shall I assign her to another professor?”

“Much as I detest her, I shall be happy to give her very pointed object lessons, though I also think she should serve some detentions with Professor Binns as well. You know he could drive a pixie insane with his droning and his detentions are always writing on some inanely uninteresting topic with no less than five feet of parchment. She should also be made to apologize to Draco.”

“I agree. I hope viewing your memories helps her to see that she was wrong and such behavior is unacceptable.” The Headmaster said gravely.

Before Severus could speak further, Pansy jerked up from the Pensieve. Her face was ghost white and she was crying yet again.

“Well? Do you understand better now what you have done with your meddling?” Albus demanded sternly.

Pansy nodded. “Yes, sir. I am sorry!”

“Too little, too late,” Severus interjected.

“W-What will you do to me?”

“First I shall question you as to where you got this book, Miss Parkinson.”

Pansy bit her lip and did not reply.

“Were you given it? From a family member perhaps?” Dumbledore pried.

Reluctantly, Pansy nodded.

“This is a book of mostly dark spells, child, and not ones you should ever be using. Such spells are anathema to any good wizard, and the use of even one means you shall face a board of inquiry for it. After which, the book shall be destroyed. You shall be on probation as well and your wand will be handed to me, since you have proven incapable of governing your actions wisely with it. I shall also be writing to your parents to inform them of what has occurred.”

At that, Pansy practically threw herself at Dumbledore’s feet. “No . . .no . . .don’t tell them . . .please, sir! Father forbid me to see Draco and if he ever finds out I disobeyed him . . .” she trailed off into hysterical sobs.

Severus sneered and Albus remained coolly inflexible. “In such cases, your parent or guardian is always made aware of your actions. Always. There are no exceptions. In addition, you shall serve detention with Professor Snape and Professor Binns till the end of term and you are forbidden all trips to Hogsmeade and required to be in your dorm by eight o’clock every night, a Monitoring Charm shall be placed upon you to ensure you comply with these terms, Miss Parkinson.”

“You can’t do that! You’re treating me like . . .like a criminal!” she wailed.

“Indeed. For that is what you are, young lady.” The Headmaster said sternly.

“That’s no fair! I said I was sorry!”

“But are you really?” Dumbledore snapped, out of patience with the whining. “I get the feeling that you are not truly remorseful, only sorry you were caught. If the board declares you guilty, you shall be expelled, as an example to any other witch who attempts to use such spells upon a former boyfriend. Until then, Miss Parkinson, you are under house arrest.” He held out his hand. “Your wand.”

She surrendered it, a gleam of hatred blooming in her squinty eyes. “I hate this school! I wish I had never come here!”

“We agree on something then,” Snape remarked sourly. “You have detention with me every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday night, six o’clock sharp. On the weekends you shall serve detention with Professor Binns for half the day, the other half shall be spent scrubbing the Hospital Wing and the Slytherin common room from top to bottom.” He pointed his wand at her and cast the Monitoring Charm.

A huge pocket watch with a large mouth appeared upon the front of her robes and it looked quite ugly and garish.

“Do not even try and remove that. It will remain until your hearing. If you are late, the charm will react most embarrassingly and loudly. And will continue so until you are where you are supposed to be.”

“I feel like I’m in prison.”

“Then you don’t know what prison really feels like. Pray you never find out!” warned the Potions Master. “Remember, girl, you brought this upon yourself.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Oh and furthermore, you will also apologize to Draco,” Severus told her, then added in an inspired stroke of genius, “In front of the entire Slytherin House.”

“But . . .but . . .sir! Then everyone will know . . .!”

“Yes, Miss Parkinson. That is the idea.” Severus said, a nasty sneer upon his face. Then he leaned down and hissed in her ear, “Nobody hurts my family and gets away with it! No one! Return to your dorm, I shall summon you when it is time for your detention, and you can apologize to my son the following morning, before we assemble in the hall for breakfast. Now get out of my sight.”

Pansy fled, slamming the door behind her.

Severus turned to Dumbledore and said softly, “It is well that you abolished the use of a cane on students when you became Headmaster, Albus. Otherwise I would be hard pressed not to beat her senseless.”

“As would I,” replied the other wizard. Then he offered Severus a lemon drop.

“Do they contain a Calming Draught, Albus?” inquired the professor wearily.

Albus tapped one with his wand. “Now they do.” He held it out to Severus, his face innocent as a newborn lamb’s, but his eyes gleaming with mischief. “Indulge yourself, my boy.”

“What the hell,” muttered Snape, and accepted the Headmaster’s offering.

And that caused all of the portraits in the office to gossip endlessly for a week, telling all the other portraits in the school, who then told everyone else, until Severus threatened to hex them all into silence when he returned to the office the following Friday.

* * * * * *

Harry also happened to be present for Pansy's required apology, since he had gone down to his father’s quarters to ask a question about a potions project due on Monday, he was working with Blaise, and Severus took him along to witness the girl’s punishment. He suspected that Harry and Hermione and possibly Ron were involved in playing some pranks upon Pansy, but he did not inquire outright about it. Sometimes it was best to turn a blind eye, and so long as the pranks did not cross the line, he was willing to overlook them, considering the circumstances.

Harry was happy to witness the humbling of the Slytherin witch, and watched with a certain sense of satisfaction as Pansy admitted to Draco, who had just been released from bed rest, that she had cast the awful hex and then apologized to him for doing so.

Draco looked Pansy right in the eye, actually he had to look down on her since he topped her by a head, and after she had said her piece, he replied, “You’re a wicked nasty thing and I thank God that contract was broken, otherwise I’d have been stuck with you for the rest of my life, which wouldn’t have been too long given you’re nothing but a black widow in human form. Come near me again and I’ll hex you all the way across the ocean, Parkinson.” He gave her a glare that would have done his foster father proud. Then he said coldly, “Apology accepted, now stay the hell away from me.”

The rest of Slytherin House was gathered in the common room to hear it too, and they were not amused.

Especially the girls.

Draco was very popular with his House, even after he had repudiated his parents, even some of the Death Eater children respected him for such a bold move, and it had been quite a shock to discover he had been the victim of a curse of such malicious magnitude. Most of the Slytherin witches considered him quite a catch and were furious that he had been attacked by one of their own.

Unknown to their Head of House, they decided to enact their own form of reprisal upon their erring Housemate the following night, when the professor was absent from the dungeons attending a required staff meeting upstairs. Led by Millicent Bulstrode, they bound Pansy with strips of cloth and put a hood over her head, then frog-marched her into Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom and proceeded to hold a “Casting Out” ceremony—a very ancient ritual that witches had practiced since before the time of Merlin, before Hogwarts had been founded. Every witch of a pureblood family knew of the ceremony, and it was only used when a dire crime had been committed.

Since Severus’s speech at the beginning of the term, most of the witches had been making a concentrated effort to better themselves and redefine their reputation, and they were furious that all their efforts might have been destroyed due to one selfish spoiled girl. So they determined to add their own punishment to those their Head had already given.

Hermione had been returning from the library when the crowd of Slytherins, shepherding the bound Pansy went by, and Millicent turned and spotted her. “Hey, Granger! Come join us!”

“What? What are you doing?”

“Administering justice to the hag who hexed your boyfriend,” she answered.

Curious, Hermione followed.

They dragged Pansy into the middle of a chalk drawn circle, she was whining and sobbing, until Millicent cuffed her round the head and told her to shut her trap. Then Millicent and four other girls called upon all five elements to bear witness against the delinquent witch, Pansy Parkinson.

“She has betrayed the oath of her House, to never do harm to one of its members,” Millicent declared in ringing tones, after having first cast a Silencing Charm about the bathroom.

“ She has betrayed the sisterhood, by using spells of compulsion to force a boy to her bidding!” cried another witch. “We need not such measures in order to get a man to see us.”

“She has dishonored us by lying and ruining our new reputation as Salazar’s daughters!” yelled Avery Blake.

“I declare her oathbreaker and see her not! She is outcast from our company! Traitor! Liar! Get thee hence, woman!” chanted the rest of the girls.

They ripped the hood from Pansy’s face and spit at her feet, one by one, all of them reciting the same words over and over. “Outcast! Get thee hence, woman!”

More than a few of them also sent Stinging Hexes at her as well and when Hermione’s turn came to confront her, she glared at the other girl and then slapped her across the face hard. “That’s for Draco, you evil hag! Get thee hence, bitch!”

After each witch had declared Pansy outcast, Millicent closed the circle, then freed Pansy from the bindings and said coldly, “You are Slytherin now in name only.”

They left Pansy alone in the haunted bathroom then, sobbing, only to have Moaning Myrtle make a toilet explode right in her face. Even the ghost girl had no sympathy for her.

* * * * * *

Hermione ran into Draco, Harry, and Ron, returning from the kitchens, they had managed to persuade the house elves to give them a snack, for all of them found themselves starving at odd times now. They were shadowed by an unseen Smidgen, who had feasted upon honey and milk. “Hey. What are you doing out of the library at this time of night?” Draco greeted jokingly. “You’re finished studying already?”

She smiled at him, where normally a comment like that from Ron or Harry would have made her bristle. “Mostly. I ran into some of your Slytherins on the way,” she began, then beckoned them off into an alcove. She then told them what they had done to Pansy. “I suppose it was rather . . .mean of us, but . . .she really deserved it after that hex she cast on you, Draco.”

Draco grimaced and Ron and Harry winced in sympathy. “Don’t lose sleep over it, Mione. I’m not. Slytherins take care of their own. Always have.”

“I still can’t believe she did . . .that to you, Malfoy,” Ron said, shivering. “That’s just so . . .wrong.”

“And evil,” Harry added.

“I should have expected it,” Draco sighed. “I mean, I’ve known her practically my whole life and she’s always been a spoilt brat and jealous of anyone who has something she didn’t. Plus, her parents are hard core supporters of You-Know-Who, so of course she would know some dark spells.” He shuffled his feet uncomfortably. “We’re taught them right along with proper etiquette.”

“Then you know dark magic?” Ron asked before he could think better of it.

Harry elbowed him in the ribs.

“Yeah. But I promised myself and my dad I’d never use them. And I haven’t. I only learned them ‘cause Lucius made me. I’m no dark wizard.”

“Nobody said you were, Draco,” Hermione soothed, putting an arm about him and hugging him. “I’m so glad you’re okay. I was really scared, you know?” Sudden tears sparkled upon her lashes as she gazed up at him.

Draco hugged her tight. “Shh. Don’t cry, little bookworm. It takes more than a jealous bitch to keep me down.”

Hermione smiled through her tears. “Sorry. I’m being ridiculous, aren’t I?”

“A little.”

“Don’t ever scare me like that again, Draco Michael Malfoy!” she ordered, pretending to be angry with him.

“I won’t,” he whispered, and then he kissed her softly.

“Okay, I’m outta here,” Ron said. “Watching people snogging makes me want to puke. Especially when it’s one of my best friends making out with my other best friend’s brother.”

“See you later,” Harry said quickly, turning and walking back up to Gryffindor Tower with Ron, giving the couple some privacy.

“Hey, mate. Want to play some chess?”

Harry shook his head. “I need to find Katie. We need to go over some potions together.”

“Oh, right. I’ve heard that one before.” Ron rolled his eyes. “Harry, you need help. Mental help, I mean.”


“Because you and Malfoy have girls on the brain, seriously!”

Harry grinned. “So? Maybe you should go out with someone, Ron. Then you wouldn’t feel left out.”

“No thanks. Girls are nothing but trouble,” Ron said. “Chess is safer.”

“Whatever, mate,” Harry shrugged, then took the stairs two at a time.

He found Katie studying at a table near the fireplace, and she greeted him warmly and agreed to study potions with him in the library, and if they managed to steal a few kisses inbetween memorizing formulas, no one cared.

* * * * * *

Pansy’s parents were most displeased at their daughter’s continued infatuation with the most unsuitable Draco Malfoy, ward of Severus Snape. They promptly sent their disobedient daughter a Howler to that effect, and threatened to disinherit her if she continued to show such unseemly interest in him. Not one word was spoken about the black book of spells, which Dumbledore had locked away in a cabinet, but Mr. Parkinson had spoken privately to the Headmaster and requested that the hearing be suspended, since it was only a first-time offense. Dumbledore refused, saying that such was Ministry policy and he could not circumvent that.

“You’d do it quick enough if Snape or one of your other lackeys asked it of you,” Parkinson blustered. “It’s partly his fault for not watching out for my girl. I’ll bet that Malfoy boy led her down the garden path.”

“Mr. Parkinson, I assure you, Draco did nothing of the sort. He was the injured party in this, not your daughter, might I remind you?” Dumbledore said sharply. “I am sorry, but I cannot bend the rules for anyone not on a matter of dark magic. Your daughter will have to go before a board of inquiry the same as any other practitioner of dark magic. And if she is found guilty, her wand will be snapped and she will be expelled.”

“Just like that.”

“Just like that.” The Headmaster agreed.

“She told me she’s practically under house arrest, between you confiscating her wand and Snape and that other bugger giving her detention every night,” Parkinson spat. “Hypocrites, all of you! Snape was a Death Eater once upon a time and I don’t see you takin’ his wand away.”

“Severus was never a Death Eater, sir. He was always my agent, working undercover,” Dumbledore said, his eyes flashing dangerously. “He never hexed an innocent boy out of jealousy, using a spell that could have castrated him magically.”

Parkinson went pale. “Merlin’s bloody shorts! I . . .never knew that was what she used . . .”

“Now you do.”

“I’m sure it was a mistake.” Parkinson backtracked, but he sounded lame even to his own ears. That curse was one of the worst in a witch’s arsenal, and every man feared it. “Look, I’ll make a deal with you, Dumbledore. You call off the hearing and I’ll take my kid outta here and enroll her in some other academy on the continent. Beauxbatons Academy in France, Madame Alexandria’s School for Sorceresses in Moscow, just spare me the humiliation of having my name splashed all over the front page. My business will suffer if people think my daughter’s a strega mala, know what I mean?”

Dumbledore’s eyes narrowed. “I cannot suspend the hearing, it is out of my hands. But if you wish to withdraw your daughter from this institution, by all means go ahead. That is your prerogative, Mr. Parkinson. As is the penalty if you fail to show up for your appointed court date.”

“Let the Aurors come for me,” Parkinson sneered. “By the time they do, we’ll be long gone. Tell Pansy to pack her bags, Dumbledore. You can take your fancy arse school and shove it, far as I’m concerned. Oh, and give a message to Snape while you’re at it. Tell him the next time I see either of his sons or him, they’d better look out, because I’ll have their balls for breakfast. Good day, Headmaster!”

And with that, Jarvis Parkinson took the Floo back to his estate in Somerset. Dumbledore summoned Pansy to his office soon after and informed her of her father’s decision. She did not seem to care one way or the other, and so it was that the next day Pansy Parkinson departed Hogwarts forever.

* * * * * *

Things grew rather quiet after that, and classes continued and so did Quidditch practice, where Harry finally got his head together and managed to stop looking at Katie and focus on the Snitch. Gryffindor played Hufflepuff for the first match of the season, and Harry and Katie both played brilliantly, and Gryffindor won. Harry and Katie and the rest of the team went out for butterbeers at Hogsmeade afterwards, visiting the Hogs Head. Some of the older players managed to get hold of a bottle of firewhiskey, and offered Harry some, but Harry refused, recalling that long ago night at Prince Manor when he had drank summerdew and gotten sick as a dog the morning after.

Plus, he knew that with his history, he shouldn’t touch alcohol, and so he wisely declined. So did Katie, who said they didn’t need alcohol to have a good time. They left when it appeared half the team was going to spend the night on the barroom floor, flying back to the castle leisurely.

They flew so closely that Harry reached out and grabbed Katie’s hand.

“Hey! What are you doing?” she gasped, not expecting that.

“Holding your hand,” he replied, grinning roguishly. “D’you mind?”

“If I did, you’d be off your broom, hotshot.”

“Oh? Then you think you could take me down?”

“I don’t think. I know.” Her knee bumped his.

He eyed her askance. “You couldn’t knock me off if I did this.” Then he reached out and pulled her into his arms, so that she was straddling her broom and his at the same time, and then he kissed her.

It was a brief kiss, but no less passionate for all of that, and it left her momentarily breathless.

But only momentarily.

An instant later, she was half-glaring and laughing at him. “Hells bells, Snape! Are you crazy?” She gestured to the way they were sandwiched together. “You’re lucky we didn’t crash.”

“We were far away from the castle,” he said sheepishly. “Besides, I’ve always wondered how it felt to kiss a girl while flying.”

“Idiot!” she scolded, giggling. She mock-cuffed him along the ear. “Help me back on my broom, won’t you?”

“As my lady commands,” he said gallantly, then did so. “By the way, it was wonderful.”

She smiled. “I still think you’re insane, Snape. But I like to live dangerously, so I guess I can put up with it.”

They flew the rest of the way with their hands clasped, parting with a good night kiss in the common room.

Harry crept up the stairs and found Ron still awake, reading a Quidditch handbook.

“Have a good time, Harry?”

“Yeah. It was the best,” his friend replied, and got undressed, still grinning like a fool.

* * * * * *

On October 30th, the students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons arrived. Durmstrang arrived first, while Harry was in Herbology, gathering gillyweed for an assignment along the shore of the lake along with the rest of his class.

Suddenly, the lake began to froth and bubble like a cauldron about to explode. Girls screamed and boys backed away with wands drawn.

“What the hell’s happening?”

“Are we under attack?”

“Why’s the lake swirling like that?”

“Is it a sea monster?”

“Professor Sprout! The lake looks like it’s about to explode!” cried Terry Boot.

The water spun faster and faster, like a giant whirlpool and then it erupted like a geyser, spraying all the students with water. More shrieks followed the impromptu ducking.

The prow of a huge black ship emerged from the depths, Harry gasped, rubbing his glasses upon his shirt tail and then jamming them back on his head. The ship was vast, built like a cross between a Viking warship and a pirate corsair, and it nearly filled the lake.

“Holy Merlin! Look at the size of it!”

“Where’d it come from?”

“Settle down now, children!” came Professor’s Sprout’s voice. “Don’t panic, it’s just the ship from Durmstrang. Igor Karkaroff always did like to make an entrance. Finish up your gathering, you’ll be called to the Great Hall soon to meet our new guests.”

Never had her students completed an assignment so quickly.

No sooner had they finished and dried themselves off with Drying Charms, then they heard a a loud neigh and Luna Lovegood pointed at the sky and yelled, “Look! It’s Abraxans pulling a huge blue carriage. They’re beautiful, aren’t they?”

Everyone’s eyes were drawn upwards, to an enormous carriage that looked as if it could hold ten Hagrids, pulled by giant palomino winged horses.

“Now that’s what I call a horse!” exclaimed Seamus Finnegan. “I’ve never seen any horse so huge. Or so beautiful.”

The Abraxans coats were the color of molten gold and their manes and tails a brilliant silvery white, as were their wings.

I have, Harry thought, watching the steeds circle for a landing near Hagrid’s hut. The elvensteeds of the Seelie Court were just as magnificent. He recalled the gorgeous Moonheart, the sleek silvery white steed that he had ridden in the Deepwood, who had fought so gallantly to save him from the Unseelie that had ambushed them on their first ever hunt in the fae realm. These horses are beautiful, but I’d take Moonheart over them any day of the week. I doubt if they can match her for brains or for courage.

The carriage landed with a thump that caused Hagrid’s chimney to shake, and a large woman dressed in fancy peacock blue robes stepped out of the carriage.

Ron’s eyes went wide. “Blimey! She’s near the size of Hagrid! That’s one big woman!”

Hermione elbowed him in the ribs. “Hush, Ronald! She’ll hear you.”

“Oops!” Ron gulped and shut his mouth.

Hagrid was shaking the large woman’s hand enthusiastically. “Welcome to Hogwarts, Madam Maxine. Name’s Hagrid, I’m the gamekeeper.”

“ ‘ello ‘Agrid!” she boomed, kissing him on both cheeks. The big man blushed and the students tittered. “Pleeze take my ‘orses and give them a good rubdown and some single malt whiskey. They only drink the finest.”

“No problem, Madam! I’ll see that they get the best care. Beautiful animals, Abraxans!”

Hagrid looked pleased as punch as he helped the tall witch unhitch the winged horses, whose names were Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan.

Glancing back at the ship bobbing gently upon the lake, Harry saw a long gangplank being extended down the side of the ship and onto the shore. A tall bearded man wearing a large Russian style beaver hat and a black greatcoat with fur about the collar and carrying a long black walking stick came marching down the gangplank, followed by several tall young men swathed in long fur coats of marten, mink, and beaver.

Before Harry could finish looking, Professor Sprout was tugging on his sleeve and saying, “Time for you to go into the hall, Mr. Snape. The Headmaster wishes for the whole school to welcome our guests there and the Goblet of Fire will also be put on display too, for the Tournament is now officially begun with the arrival of Durmstrang and Beauxbatons!”

Harry allowed himself to be shepherded indoors, joining Katie, Ron, and Hermione at the Gryffindor table.

He caught Draco’s eye across the hall, and his brother gave him a half-smile.

Sliding onto the bench next to Katie, Harry looked towards the staff table and saw Severus sitting in his usual spot, next to Moody and MCGonagall. Dumbledore was standing up on the podium, beaming like a jack-o-lantern. The hall was filled with twinkling lights and festive paper lanterns across the ceiling. The Goblet of Fire-or as the fae called it, the Cup of Wonders—was on a platform just to the side of the podium, glittering with otherworldly splendor.

The doors opened and Igor Karkaroff strode in, strutting like a bantam rooster.

Harry noted that his father frowned when he saw the other wizard and wondered why Severus would dislike someone he had never met. Little did he know that soon his father would have more than that to frown over. Much more.

Well, there you go, a nice long chapter for you! Did you like what Severus and Dumbledore decided?

Sorry there wasn't any Phil and Smidgen in this one--they'll be in the next one!

Thanks for everyone who has read and reviewed this story.  I'm excited at the responses I've gotten.

Review and let me know how you liked this one please!

A Golden Snitch to the first one to review this chapter!

Next: Phil explains to Harry and Draco about the Cup of Wonders and the drawing of names takes place.

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