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Seamus was drying his hands when golden sparks came shooting up through the washroom floor. At first he was confused; while the D.A. was hiding in the Room of Requirement, golden sparks meant that someone was in distress. But why would anyone send them now? Then he remembered who was supposed to be waiting for him.
“Merlin!” he shouted, rushing back to his dorm. Sure enough, Serena was gone. His nightstand drawer was open, and so was the box of truffles. How….? He hadn’t given her any…. Oh, stars! He had, by touching them! Seamus grabbed his wand and raced downstairs.
As he burst into the common room, he saw the source of the sparks, and thank the heavens it looked like a false alarm. Dean, Serena and Parvati were before the fireplace. Serena, who was pointing her wand at Parvati, had a very satisfied look on her face. Parvati, however, was distressed. She was wearing a ruffled, pale yellow strapless mini dress and a matching pair of heels, and while the outfit was quite flattering, it obviously made her very uncomfortable. She had her arms crossed over her chest and she looked liked she wanted to run away, if only she could figure out how to move in those shoes.
“You look fantastic!” Dean was saying. He noticed Seamus and said, “Tell her she looks great!”
Seamus thought quickly. How could he put Parvati out of her misery without fighting Serena? He had it! “It’s not finished,” he said, “She needs one of those goat-chin-hair things.”
“You’re right!” said Serena.
Parvati stared at Seamus in horror, but she needn’t have worried; a moment later Serena settled a sumptuously soft yellow pashmina throw around Parvati’s shoulders. Parvati wrapped the pashmina around herself gratefully. She said haltingly, “This dress… it’s… it’s very beautiful, Serena, but… perhaps not quite the right thing for dinner with my parents in Hogsmeade.”
Serena looked annoyed, but resigned. “Whatever….” She flicked her wand once in a particular fashion, which Seamus recognized as the way she reversed spells. Instantly Parvati was wearing a gold-embroidered sari of bright pink, orange and blue, which was undoubtedly what she had planned to wear to meet her family. She appeared much relieved, and said, “I really should be going….”
“Wait!” commanded Serena. Parvati looked apprehensive, but Serena merely created a new pashmina, this time in bright pink, and wrapped around Parvati, who was now delighted.
“Thank you!” she exclaimed. “This is perfect! I promise to take good care of it!”
“You’d better!” called Serena after her as Parvati hurried out the portrait-hole.
“Do me next!” Dean exclaimed, “One of those smart suits, like you see on Sloane Street!”
Serena lifted her chin and stared him down in a most critical way. “And do you promise to do something fun in it?”
“Yeah!” said Dean, “This weekend I’m taking Luna to see muggle London!”
“All right then….” And with some graceful movements of Serena’s wand, resulting in shimmering waves of golden light and colorful sparks, Dean’s work shirt and jeans were transformed into a very fashionable and flattering suit.
“Brilliant!” exclaimed Dean, looking down at himself in delight. “Thanks, Serena!”
“And now you….” said Serena, turning to Seamus.
“Oh, hey, whoa!” he said, raising his wand to block her spell. “We’re leaving for Naas, remember? You might want to change.” He knew she wouldn’t, of course.
“Seamus,” said Dean, “Any chance you could help me talk to my folks?”
“Aw, Dean, you don’t need me….” Soon Seamus was so busy conversing with Dean while simultaneously keeping an eye on Serena, who was using her wand to draw clothing designs in the air, that he didn’t notice the portrait-hole open and two people enter. He was startled to be called by name.
“Oh, good, Mr. Finnegan, I’ve been wanting to talk to…. Merciful heavens! How did she…? What is she….? Explain yourself, Miss Serpentia!”
Professor McGonagall was so shocked she looked a little unsteady on her feet. Dean rushed to take her arm, which was fortunate, because Neville, who had accompanied her, stood transfixed, mouth open, staring a Serena. Seamus wondered what surprised him more: Serena’s presence in the Gryffindor common room, or her attire.
Again, Seamus had to think fast, and he decided that any kind of conversation would just make things worse. Serena had to leave, quickly, and by ordinary means. But how to get her past McGonagall without a word? He had it: Two birds with one stone. He gripped his wand tightly. Serena was going to kill him.
“Sorry, Professor!” he said loudly, crossing quickly to Serena. “Serena was just telling us she’s agreed to open the Slytherin common room.” While he was talking, Seamus silently transfigured all the tassels on the Gryffindor couch cushions into pygmy puffs, which quickly chewed through their tethers and scattered. Before Serena could even open her mouth to protest, she was distracted by a herd of adorable little puff-ball creatures that climbed up her legs. Seamus didn’t know if she would pet them or eat them, but either way, she wouldn’t contradict him.
The others were also occupied with the pygmy puffs as Seamus firmly gripped Serena’s arm and pulled her toward the portrait hole. She was too fascinated by the peeping puffs, which she was trying to gather in her hands, to ask where they were going. They were halfway out the door when McGonagall said, “Wait! Mr. Finnegan….”
“Sorry ‘bout this, Professor!” Seamus called out, as if Serena’s visit to Gryffindor tower were McGonagall’s reason to call him, “Won’t happen again! Heading off to Slytherin now!”
Serena finally realized what was happening and said, “What? No we’re not!” but the portrait of the Fat Lady had already swung shut and her words were lost to McGonagall.
“I know we’re not! And keep your voice down!” said Seamus fiercely, as he continued to pull her along.
“Then where are we going?”
“We’re leaving Hogwarts!”
Serena tried to pull her arm away. “Well, then, slow down and I’ll sift us out!”
“Not a chance! Who knows where you’ll take us?”
“We’re going to Naas!”
“Really?” Seamus stopped.
“Nope!” Serena gleefully pulled her arm away. Seamus aimed his wand, but Serena waved her hand and it went flying, along with some puffs. Stars! He’d forgotten she didn’t need a wand for that.
“Accio that back!” he demanded. Serena just posed with a few pygmy puffs to her cheek and smirked. Seamus could feel the blood rushing to his face. “In Merlin’s name, Serena!” he growled, trying not to shout, “I’m just trying to protect you!”
And just like that, everything changed. It was as if someone had cast a petrificus totalus spell on the entire castle. Seamus had assumed that he and Serena were alone in the corridor; it was until all the paintings, all the ghosts, all the mice, all the pygmy puffs were stilled that he appreciated how seldom anyone at Hogwarts was truly alone. At first he thought the Serena was frozen, too, but she was merely standing quietly, very quietly, with an odd expression on her face.
No, not an odd expression, he realized, just unthinkable for Serena. It was the sort of expression he might expect from Parvati or Lavender after he’d done them a favor and they were about to jump up and down and hug him. Only Serena never jumped for joy, and she certainly didn’t fling herself into people’s arms. Seamus had experienced many weird things while hanging around Serena. The frozen castle didn’t even crack the top ten, but a hugging Serena would definitely be the freak flag at the top of the hill.
However, Serena didn’t jump, or hug, or even move. She just asked, “Really?”
Seamus closed his eyes and let out a long breath. “Really.”
He heard something woosh by his head. When he opened his eyes, Serena was offering him his wand. There was a smile on her face — an openly greedy one. Seamus wasn’t sure whether or not to be relieved. He took his wand.
“Belial said you would become my preasul. I didn’t believe him. This changes everything.”
“What? You’re crazy! It doesn’t mean any such thing! All I meant was…” And then a terrible thought struck Seamus: The castle, the way it froze the moment he’d said….
Serena gripped his arm and he felt himself dissolving. No, this was wrong, it was all horribly wrong! This wasn’t what his mam had planned at all.
NOTE: I know I keep piling on mystery after mystery. Keep reading and it will all unfold! In the meantime, I’ve been dropping hints all along about Serena and her family. Has anyone guessed her secret? You have a few more chapters to guess before I reveal it!
Once again I’m having fun with 90’s trends and fashion. Got a favorite 90’s pop culture trend you’d like me to incorporate? Leave a suggestion in the comments!
I appreciate comments and I will respond to each one!
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