Over the next fortnight, the snow and frost seemed to be never-ending. The severity of the winter weather had grown so bad that Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione’s planned trip to Hogsmeade was put on temporary hold; even the simple bubble-head warmth charms that Hermione cast on them were not powerful enough to keep the heat in when going up against the harsh winter winds. Kreacher had taken it upon himself to buy triple the amount of firewood that they would have normally needed which Harry (as it turned out) was very grateful for. The larger fire seemed to penetrate his bones and cure them of their iciness in mere minutes after coming home from the Ministry.
It was this severe frost that Harry was preparing to venture out in to once more. It was a week before Christmas and he was getting dressed for Ginny’s Holyhead Christmas party, debating whether or not one or two pairs of long underwear would be a better choice for under his dress robes.
‘There’s no real need for them,’ Ron said pointing to the long underwear lying on Harry’s bed. ‘Ginny told me we are apparating right in to the reception hall so we won’t have to be out in that mess.’
‘Do shut the door one of you!’ the portrait of Percival the Pompous cried from the landing. ‘I am trying to sleep!’ Ron rolled his eyes as he shut the door, Harry overhearing Percival go on about something to do with a lack of respect as his whiny voice was drowned out.
‘Fudge wasn’t joking... I can’t believe he actually wants to create some sort of army – he’s bonkers!’ Ron said as he pulled on his own dress robes, indicating an edition of the Daily Prophet on his night stand.
‘I thought it would never pass with the public but then I got to thinking – if these attacks on the Ministry continue, many will wonder if it really is the right thing to do. People can be swayed.’ Ron nodded at Harry, pulling his socks up as he sat down on the edge of his bed.
‘You alright mate?’ Ron suddenly asked, catching Harry off guard.
‘Yeah... is – is something wrong?’ Ron eyed Harry curiously who carefully avoided his friend’s prowling eyes.
‘Just seem a little... distant... that’s all. But... knowing you, you’ll never tell me anyway so I’ll just say this – don’t worry about the memory Harry. We’ve got Hermione... there’s no way we won’t be able to get it back from Fudge.’ Ron clapped Harry on the back. ‘Now come on... any longer and the girls will be ready before the both of us... and seeing as how I always complain about Hermione taking hours to get ready... well, I can’t lose credibility on one of my favourite teases.’
Harry was glad Ron did not press the issue any further or mention anything of it to Ginny or Hermione; he was not in the mood to gush about how frustrated he was about losing the memory at the moment. Whether it was intuition or just a piece of Harry’s wishful thinking, he did not know, but (as the last message had stated) he sincerely felt that this memory was the next step in killing any hope of Lord Voldemort’s return.
‘Ah, much better Ron,’ Ginny said playfully as she examined his updated dress robes ten minutes later. ‘No offence, but I don’t know if I’d be too keen on calling you my brother if you were to wear those old dress robes that you used to have.’
‘Shut up Ginny.’
‘Are we all ready then?’ Hermione’s arrival on the landing curbed any further retort from Ron. She was wearing a particularly pretty dark blue dress that had seemed to catch his attention quite well. Harry’s attention was torn away from his friends as he turned to Ginny and her long light yellow dress that Harry thought looked very nice.
‘You’re looking quite handsome Harry,’ Ginny said lightly after she nodded to Hermione.
‘As are you... er, pretty I mean,’ Harry said brightly, returning the compliment and planting a quick kiss on Ginny’s cheek. Harry put his arm around Ginny, bringing her a little closer to him.
‘Oh, completely forgot to tell you! They arranged a connection through the Floo network for the party so no one has to apparate – good for us since it seems as if the cold is going to get worse throughout the night.’
‘Brilliant, Ginny,’ Hermione answered excitedly. The atmosphere and anticipation of the party was apparently right up Hermione’s alley. ‘Where are we travelling to?’
‘Er... one minute...’ Ginny said, fiddling around in her matching yellow purse and pulling out a small piece of parchment. ‘Here it is... Two Twenty-One Whitegate Lane. Seems simple enough. You go first?’
Hermione did not need any more prodding from Ginny. Thrusting her hand in to the small pot of Floo powder, Hermione tossed her handful in to the fire, clearly stating the desired location before entering the emerald flames. After shrugging, Ron followed suit, leaving Harry and Ginny in the drawing room of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place. Ginny raised her eyebrows and began walking to the mantle, but something curious came over Harry. Seeing as how this was the first minute of alone time for the two of them in weeks, Harry could not help but try to prolong their time together, even if it was just for a few extra seconds.
‘Yes Harry?’ she replied, spinning on her heel. Harry noticed that she was slightly scarlet in the face.
‘Er... I’m really happy... excited to go with you. I’ve missed you and – well... just there never seems to be enough time.’ Harry could feel himself getting hot very quickly, not completely understanding what he himself was saying. ‘I guess what I’m trying to say is that I I’m excited to have some time with you... away from work... away from Quidditch...’
Ginny looked at him, her face now matching her hair. She tilted her head to the side and nodded, examining him for a moment before speaking.
‘Oh Harry I am too... I know we don’t spend much time together. I know it’s not an ideal situation for us, but one day it will be. We just have to get through these tougher times before we become what we want to be... I hate to say it but sometimes I just feel... jealous of Ron and Hermione. They get you much more than I do.’ Ginny said through a laugh. She made her way over to him stopping only a foot away from where he was standing. ‘But tonight, you’re mine.’
Ginny looked at Harry very seriously. Almost instinctively, Harry put his hand on her shoulder and softly kissed her lips, holding himself there for what felt like a lifetime. Pulling himself apart from her, he saw her smile, prompting him to do the same.
‘Come on,’ she said slyly. ‘They’ll be wondering what’s taking us so long.’
Ginny guided him over to the fireplace, tossing some Floo powder in to the fireplace for him. Pecking him on the cheek, Harry stepped in front of the fireplace and exclaimed, ‘Two Twenty-One Whitegate Lane.’ In an instant, he arrived at what he presumed was Whitegate Lane.
‘Harry! Over here!’
Before he could gage his surroundings, Harry heard Hermione’s voice calling him from his left. Once he was joined by Ginny by the hand, he fought through a crowd of people, catching his eye on Hermione’s blue dress and steering them in her direction. The place was packed, hot and very loud.
‘It’s mad in here! I’m guessing this is the reception area!’ Hermione cried over the loud ruckus made by the invited guests.
Finally getting a chance to look around, Harry noticed that they were in a small room that was barely larger than the kitchen at Grimmauld Place. To his left was a small window and as he peeked through the curtains, he noticed that the house that they were apparently in was situated along a crowded, narrow and winding street that stretched out in to the darkness. By viewing the house across the street, Harry guessed that they were in a house considerably smaller than Number Four Privet Drive.
‘We should probably get inside – it’s too crowded in here!’ Ginny called from over her shoulder. ‘Follow me – I’ve got the tickets here.’
The foursome created an impromptu human chain, passing through the crowd at a snail’s pace. They passed by the fireplace of the small living room, Harry now noticing that all of the furniture had been crookedly piled against one of the far walls. They came to the end of the room where two wizards dressed in Holyhead green were waiting to receive the guests.
‘Tickets please, for your friends Miss Weasley,’ one of the wizards said cheerfully, Ginny obliging his request.
With a nod of his head, the wizard let them pass, opening the single wooden door and closing it shut behind him, shutting out all of the noise from the crowd. What was in front of Harry left him in wonder; a massive room with thirty foot high ceilings stood in front of him, at least as long as a Quidditch Pitch. Throughout the room were countless number of tables with flower centerpieces of which Harry had never seen before. As they made their way through the hall, Harry could see little green gnome-like creatures playfully jumping around in the centerpieces, their little bodies glowing a fluorescent green with each leap they took. At the far side of the room stood the stage, a wide and impressive array of awkward looking instruments already set up. The walls were adorned with dark green curtains featuring a golden ‘H’, the curtains matching the robes of the waiters who were bustling through the hall at a rapid pace. Hovering above his head, Harry noticed small golden orbs that gave off a faint glow of light that was just enough to illuminate the room. The hall was about half full with many more guests arriving behind them.
‘This is us here I believe,’ Ginny said brightly indicating the table in front of them. Sure enough, Harry noticed a small green name tag on one of the plates that read ‘Ginny Weasley – Seeker’ in glowing gold font. Beside hers was Hermione’s and Ron’s, indicating that they were Ministry workers. Sitting down at his seat beside Ginny, Harry noticed his own name plate which simply read ‘Guest #23’ on it.
‘Are you going to dance with me later?’ Harry whispered playfully in Ginny’s ear.
‘Of course – I can’t wait!’
‘Good.’ Harry could not help but smile back.
‘Pretty chic isn’t it?’ Hermione said enthusiastically as she pulled up her chair. ‘Who else are we sitting with?’ she asked, indicating the empty two seats at the table.
‘Mrs. Gallagher is one – she’s one of our seamstresses for our uniforms – and the other is –’
‘Hey! Stop them!’
Harry looked over his shoulder while in his seat to see a pair of wizards dressed in green robes chasing down a couple of figures who were heading towards his table. As they got closer, Harry realized that he knew who they were.
‘Dean? Lee?’ he said surprisingly. ‘What’s going on?’
‘H-Harry? Ron!’ an out of breath Dean said as he came to a stop. ‘You’ve got to help us out here Ginny! We only wanted to get an interview or two that’s all!’
‘Hold on – what do you mean?’ asked Harry quickly, seeing the two wizards catching up to them.
‘We’re Quidditch reporters – commentating for Chudley is not the best paying job, that’s for sure. So Dean and I are trying to get our own column started for the Prophet.’
‘So we snuck in the back door over there – don’t think they appreciated it much,’ Dean said, the two wizards stopping at their table.
‘Alright you two, enough of this. It’s time for you to leave,’ the first wizard said panting but sternly, the second bending over as he placed his hands on his knees. Harry looked to Ginny who nodded, looking from Harry to Dean and Lee and back again.
‘They’re with us,’ Harry said calmly getting up from his seat, the two wizards looking at each other incredulously. ‘All of us here know them – they’re not imposters.’
‘These are uninvited guests Mr. Potter – I’m afraid we are going to have to ask them to leave.’ Harry opened his mouth to protest but was interrupted by another man’s voice.
‘Nonsense. Any guest of Ginny is a guest of mine. Now run along you two, though I admire your focus on security.’ Harry looked to see none other than Davis McCoy beaming at Ginny from across the table, Dean and Lee both silently fist pumping at their acceptance in to the party.
‘Thanks mate, we’ll catch up when the Weird Sisters take the stage,’ Dean whispered, clapping Harry on the back as he and Lee rushed off.
‘Well, it looks like I’ll be joining you at your table – fancy that!’ said Davis, flashing his brilliant smile.
Though Harry was no wizard fashion expert, even he could tell that Davis’ dress robes were of the highest quality, his jacket emblazoned with subtle silver thread. He nodded at Hermione and Ron and for a moment; he did not even seem to notice that Harry was standing beside Ginny. Towering over Harry, his smile vanished for a quick second as he placed a hand to his chest.
‘Oh, I’m sorry Harry! I didn’t even notice you there! How are you doing?’
‘Fine, Davis. You?’
‘Undefeated thus far! Even still, if your friend over there keeps putting up performances in practice like she has lately, I may have no other choice but to give her the starting position!’ Ginny blushed as Davis took his seat beside Harry. ‘I do have some more somber news however... I’m afraid Mrs. Gallagher has fallen ill this evening, so she will not be joining us here tonight.’
‘Oh that’s too bad. Who would want to miss a party like this one!’ Hermione said enthusiastically. Davis leaned in before he responded.
‘We are having the most exquisite tenderloin you will ever have this evening,’ he said smiling. ‘Just as good as anything the Flaunting Fwooper and Chef Bouvre has to offer, I assure you. You two ever been to the Fwooper?’ he asked, indicating Ginny and briefly glancing in Harry’s direction.
‘No but I’ve always wanted to go!’ Ginny replied. ‘I’ve heard there’s nearly nothing that compares to it in terms of quality.’
‘You’ve never been taken?’ Davis asked dumbstruck. ‘Does Harry not have a taste for fine dining? I’d expect all you’d have to do is show up Harry and they’d get you a table with no reservation or anything! Nothing like what the rest of us have to endure to get a seat, though being the loyal customer I am, I always seem to be able to find a table...’
‘You ever been to Louie and Gundrike’s Davis? It’s got the best... er... chips in Primpernelle Square,’ Ron asked forcefully, Davis examining him for a minute before responding. Harry could not help but feel some extra admiration for his best friend.
‘No. No I can’t say I have been there Ron,’ he responded smilingly. He shifted in his seat as he attempted to change the subject. ‘So how are your careers going at the Ministry? Lots of tough, long hours I expect?’
‘You don’t know the worst of it...’ Hermione said shaking her head.
‘Ron and I were made Aurors just a few months back,’ stated Harry proudly. ‘Lots of hard work – but probably not as much pressure on us. It’s not like we’re managing a Quidditch team or something.’ Everyone laughed a little around the table, including Davis who nodded his head.
‘Well I am just an assistant,’ he responded cheerfully. ‘Still gives me lots of time to spend with the people who I admire.’ He winked at Harry before glancing over at Ginny, smiling his perfect smile before taking a quick sip of his water. ‘So who were your friends Ginny? The ones I blindly let stay at the party.’
‘Oh, they were just some friends from Hogwarts, Davis.’
‘The tall one was in our year,’ Harry said, indicating Ron and Hermione. ‘Quidditch writers – the other is actually the commentator for the Cannons.’
‘Well I hope they write nice things then,’ Davis said, taking a another sip of his water. ‘Funny. That’s what Ginny wants to do after her Quidditch career is over – a Quidditch columnist, that is. Isn’t that right Gin?’ Ginny fumbled in her seat, looking around the table very quickly before responding
‘Why... why yes that’s right Davis,’ Ginny replied somewhat embarrassedly. Harry quickly looked over at Ginny.
‘I thought you wanted to become the flying instructor and referee at Hogwarts, Ginny?’ Harry asked. ‘Isn’t that what you told me before?’ Harry saw Hermione flash Ron a quick glance.
‘Er... yeah Harry I-I did tell you that... oh, but that was in sixth year... a lot has changed since then and you know... I guess plans change.’ Harry felt his face getting warm, tearing his stare away from Ginny as he noticed the hall was getting very full.
‘That’s the best part about life I believe,’ Davis piped up gleefully. ‘You never know what sort of Snitch is going to be thrown at you!’
‘I think the dinner service is starting...’ Hermione interrupted.
Harry looked up to see that waiters were emerging from all over the place, their wands outstretched as they charmed countless plates to hover above them. The plates were full of delicious smelling food, many of the now seated guests gesturing enthusiastically at the plates that were about to be served. Just as Harry’s napkin magically began to unfold and place itself on his lap, he jumped as a hand was placed on his shoulder, shaking him from side to side.
‘It is him! They were right! Look here, it’s Harry Potter!’ a woman shrieked ecstatically.
Before he could understand what was happening, a thousand hands reaching in his direction blocked out any other view. He could catch snippets of what some of them were saying but most of it was drowned out by the shrieks and yells of those involved.
‘Can I have a picture?! Please!’
‘Just an autograph and I’ll be on my way!’
‘Mr. Potter, would you mind giving a brief interview for the Stool Pigeon?’
‘Please Harry! Just touch my child! Just touch him!’
‘Alright clear out! Clear out I say!’ a man’s voice sounded.
As Harry’s admirers slowly backed away, Harry could see that a wizard dressed in dark green robes had his wand held out in front of him, indicating with it the direction he wished the admirers to move to. Many other guests sitting at the surrounding tables looked on in a mixture of laughter and disgust while others only wished to catch a glimpse of Harry and the action.
‘Back to your seats at once! This sort of behavior will not be tolerated!’ the man continued, turning to Harry and speaking in a much lower voice, the admirers slowly slinking off to their seats but not before stealing one last glimpse of Harry. ‘Are you alright Mr. Potter?’
‘I’m fine,’ Harry replied shortly, nodding his head to show his thanks.
‘That must get annoying I expect,’ said Davis. Harry had just now noticed that Davis had been knocked over in the scuffle, putting his hand on the table as he sat back down in his chair. ‘Must be terrible to have to endure that every time you go out.’
‘Small price to pay really,’ Ginny replied, smiling at Harry who grinned back. Davis quickly looked between the two of them.
‘Finally!’ Ron exclaimed, eyeing the waiter who was now making his way over to their table. ‘I’m starving!’
Each plate magically set itself down on the table, Ron’s expression changing from excited delight to shocked disappointment in an instant. A moment later and Harry could see why; the plate had such a small portion of food on it that Harry wondered if Kreacher could have filled himself with it. In addition, the food was so nicely presented, Harry felt that eating it would somehow disturb a wonderful piece of art.
‘Lovely!’ cried Davis having now fully collected himself. ‘Before we eat I would like to propose a toast –’ Davis picked up his glass and held it aloft, which everyone else followed. ‘To Ginny – may she have a long and wonderful career playing for the Harpies!’ Everyone took a healthy swig of their wine or water.
For the next twenty minutes, conversation shifted largely to Quidditch and the Harpies’ upcoming tough schedule. Harry, however, was only half listening; for at least the first five minutes, he exchanged continued glances with Ron, trying to wordlessly communicate with him in order to understand how to properly eat his dish. He snuck a few side glances at Davis who easily used his fork to combine the various flavors on the plate. Trying to mimic this, Harry found himself stabbing at the concoction in front of him, a few pieces of a green vegetable flying in to his glass of water. While Ginny and Ron tried to contain their laughter, Davis merely looked on in disgust as if someone had just told him a particularly rude joke.
Once they had finished their dinners (or in Harry and Ron’s case, bluntly consumed their plates) Davis pardoned himself, mentioning something about giving a speech before the dance portion of the evening was to take place. Harry let out a long breath, somehow relieved that Davis had left the table as he could now finally spend a few minutes with Ginny and his friends.
‘Absolutely delicious!’ Hermione said as she leaned back in her seat, looking sideways at the stage where a small podium now stood.
‘Yeah it was... once you learned how to eat the bloody thing! Fell apart the moment you touched it, eh Harry?!’ replied Ron who was looking out longingly at the long desert tables that were now appearing along the side wall of the hall.
‘There is going to be a short welcoming from the Manager and then the dance will begin,’ Ginny whispered over to Harry as the bulbs of glowing light began to dim. Before Harry could respond to her, two fairly burly women appeared beside Ginny.
‘Weasley!’ the one with short black hair whispered smilingly. ‘I thought you said you weren’t going to outdo us,’ she said, indicating Ginny’s dress.
‘Once again you make us look bad – can’t you give us a break?’ the other woman said playfully, brushing her longer brown hair out of her face. Both women were taller than Harry and thicker than Ron. Standing near Hermione, they made her look like a small child rather than a young woman.
‘Hey Gloria, Glendella,’ Ginny replied cheerfully. ‘As I recall, at last practice I wasn’t so lucky, so I had to up the ante.’ Both Gloria and Glendella laughed a quite deep, manly laugh. ‘This is my brother Ron, his girlfriend Hermione and here is Harry,’ Ginny said quite proudly. Both Gloria and Glendella shook each of their hands as Ginny indicated them, Harry surprised at the firm grip of both women. ‘Everyone, this here is –’
‘Gloria Richards and Glendella Wimbourne!’ Ron interrupted, Gloria and Glendella looking at each other clearly impressed with Ron. ‘You two are one of the best Beater tandems in English Quidditch history!’
‘Not just one of the best, Ron. The best,’ Glendella said through a haughty laugh. Ron did not seem to understand that she had been joking, responding in a very taken aback fashion as if someone had just insulted him.
‘Well... that’s a rather large statement to make... you’ve got Crooks and Bagman of the Wasps... they won way more championships than the Harpies have... and you can’t forget about –’
‘OK Ron, that’s enough...’ Ginny interrupted fiercely. Ron seemed to protest for a minute, but eyeing the look in his sister’s stare, he thought better of it. Still, he continued to babble to himself quietly, the Harpies Beaters eyeing him half seriously, half playfully.
‘We, er... we should be going – speeches are about to start,’ Gloria said, tearing her eyes away from the jabbering Ron.
‘Nice meeting all of you – see you at practice Weasley,’ added Glendella, giving a curt nod to everyone at the table.
Ginny locked eyes with Ron for a moment before breaking her seriousness, shaking her head and giggling to herself. Before any of them could say anything more, the golden bulbs of light dimmed, a spot light shining on the podium situated in the middle of the stage. Harry’s mind was not focused on the following ten minute, rather tedious speech made by the Harpies manager; instead, his eyes wondered over to Davis who was standing beside the podium. He glanced over at Ginny who seemed to be in a sort of bored stance as well, twirling her hair around in between her fingers.
‘Now... it is my great pleasure and honor... to welcome to the stage for your entertainment... the Weird Sisters!’ the manager shouted, the hall erupting in to a rather loud applause.
‘I’m heading over to the dessert bar, Harry – you want to join me?’ Ron asked immediately as many of the guests made their way over to the dance floor.
‘Yeah, but in a minute...’ Harry replied, eyeing Ginny who smiled in to her shoulder.
‘Hold on... where’s the rest of them?’ Hermione asked as she got out of her chair. Harry wheeled around to look in the direction that Hermione was.
‘Er... what are you looking at Hermione...’
‘The Weird Sisters! There’s only three of them on stage... that’s rather odd...’
‘Yeah, you’re right,’ Ron said, standing on his chair to get a better look over the crowd of people that now occupied the dance floor. The bulbs of light were now changing colour over the stage, casting violet, white and yellow shadows over the hall. ‘Where’s Heathcote Barbary? Gideon Crumb?’
‘Or Herman Wintringham?!’ Ginny added who had now stood on her own chair.
‘You guys didn’t hear?’ came the voice of Dean from behind Harry.
‘Hear what?’ replied Harry.
‘About the problems the Weird Sisters are having... there’s been lots of rumors that they are about to break up for good soon.’
‘Looks like they’re more than half way there already...’ Ron replied as the remaining Weird Sisters members lazily picked up their instruments, the lead singer looking quite disheveled as he wore a jaded expression on his face.
‘How’ve you two been anyway,’ Harry asked his two former Gryffindor alumni. ‘It’s been a while since we’ve –’
‘Ginny!’ a panting Davis interrupted. ‘You’re going to miss the first dance – it’s tradition for all the Harpies players and staff to partake in the first dance of the evening! Quick – I’ll be your partner!’ Davis held out his hand in front of Ginny as the Weird Sisters began tuning their instruments.
‘Er... Well, Davis...’ Ginny responded, looking over at Harry.
‘Oh, pardon me,’ Davis responded. ‘That is, of course, that Harry does not mind. Which I can’t see happening since there’s nothing terribly wrong with two friends sharing a brief dance.’ Davis laughed at his own joke, though no one else did. As much as Harry did not want to see Ginny dance with Davis, he felt that if he was to show Davis that it bothered him, than it would give him some sort of devious satisfaction.
‘No. You two go ahead,’ Harry responded coolly.
‘Are... Are you sure Harry?’ Ginny questioned. Harry turned his head to look her in the eye.
‘I’m sure. I’ll be waiting here.’ Harry tried to feign a smile but it came off as more of a grimace than anything else. Davis smiled back, giving a sort of half nod as he eyed Harry. He took Ginny’s hand and guided her to the dance floor, Ginny looking over her shoulder and smiling back at Harry lovingly. Ron proceeded to call Davis quite a nasty name.
‘Ronald!’ Hermione protested, Lee and Dean laughing out loud as the chords of the Weird Sisters’ first song started up.
‘What! I’m her brother Hermione – he didn’t ask my permission, now did he?’
‘She’s old enough to make decisions on her own now Ron, no offence or anything Harry,’ replied Hermione sternly. ‘And your her brother, Ron! If she’s not trying to do things that you don’t like then something is wrong, isn’t it?!’ Harry thought he heard Hermione whisper something nasty under her breath as she looked in the direction of Ginny and Davis.
‘You want to come to the dessert table with me before we dance, Hermione?’ Ron asked.
‘Yes. Yes let’s go.’
‘Harry? You coming?’ Harry took a moment before responding, not knowing if that pain inside his stomach was Davis’ fault or the menu’s.
‘You two go ahead. I think I’ll just stay here with Dean and Lee for a bit...’ Ron shrugged as he and Hermione made their way over to the long tables of desserts.
‘They’ve got no passion anymore... no life,’ Dean said disappointingly as he pulled up a chair and sat backwards on it, Lee doing the same beside him.
‘What do you mean?’ asked Harry absent-mindedly as he looked out on to the dance floor longingly.
‘The Weird Sisters. They used to be so lively and full of energy onstage. It’s what they were bloody know for! Now... well, take a look.’
Harry looked at the stage after being prompted by Dean and he immediately knew that he was right. The lead singer stood hunched over, reciting his lines rather than singing them. To his left, the guitar player was shooting looks of distaste over at his fellow band mates, sometimes forgetting to play his instrument for a few moments before resuming his riff. Still, the crowd of Harpies personnel did not seem to being paying too much attention as they continued to dance to the ballad, though a few obvious Sisters fans stood at the front of the stage with a look of shock on their faces.
‘I guess not everything is meant to last,’ said Lee, Harry feeling as if he was going to vomit as he caught a glimpse of a smiling Davis dancing with Ginny. Harry turned away quickly, trying to erase the image from his brain.
‘I don’t mean to be rude guys, but would you mind if I got some air?’ he asked the two of them.
‘Course not Harry,’ replied Dean.
‘We’ll catch you later... we should probably get back to our article anyway...’ added Lee to which Dean agreed. They got up from their chairs and with a pat on Harry’s back, began to depart his company.
‘Hold on,’ Harry said suddenly, Dean and Lee turning back around to meet him. ‘Where’s that door you two came in? I reckon that walking through the front door on this Muggle street wouldn’t exactly be prudent...’
‘Just go to the back there, behind the stage. There’s a back door that I’m sure you’ll have no trouble with.’
Harry got up with a start, not looking back at either Dean or Lee. He purposely took a longer way around the stage as to avoid having to look out at it. For some reason, he was panting heavily, slightly dizzy from the flashing lights above him. To the right of the stage where the Weird Sisters were now playing their second song – an up-tempo, funky number that apparently did not feature any lyrics as the singer was now hunched over, fast asleep – Harry saw the door that Lee had mentioned.
Pushing through it hard, he was instantaneously hit with a wall of cold, but he did not care. There was a forest about twenty feet away from the back door that slammed shut behind him. Harry took a few steps out on to the pathway, stopping just before the snow overtook the path completely. He shook his head quickly as if doing this would somehow remove the image of Ginny dancing with Davis from his mind. He felt guilty at the fact that he was upset about the situation, knowing that it was such an insignificant thing. Still, something about Davis just rubbed him the wrong way, making him feel uncomfortable about the whole thing. He knew that if anyone else wanted to dance with Ginny, he would surely have no problems with it.
Harry let out a deep sigh, crossing his arms as he was now beginning to realize how bitterly cold outside it really was. Looking from his right to his left, he saw that this house was the furthest back on the street and the nearest to the forest, small fences plotting out the properties a fair distance away from each other. He could hear the faint echo of the Weird Sisters’ music, deciding that it would be best if he re-entered the party.
However, something caught his eye as a sharp gust of freezing cold wind rushed by his face. Coming from somewhere in the forest was a faint, blinking blue light that stood out in the darkness like a star in the sky. It grabbed Harry’s attention as if it was calling out to him. Instinctively, Harry took out his wand, looking back at the door to the house before stepping out in to the snow. His curiousness overrode his good judgment, entering the shallow forest in pursuit of the light.
The snow was quite deep, swallowing Harry’s foot up to his ankle. He paused for a moment before continuing, ducking under a few branches that jetted out at an awkward angle from a nearby tree. Harry fought through a few more branches, his interest in the light driving him through the narrow opening. The light was not getting any brighter, Harry standing up as he reached an area where the trees were larger. He glanced back at the door that was barely visible through the branches before pressing on in to the forest.
He continued on through the forest for a few minutes more, Harry illuminating his wand with a Lumos spell so he could see his footing. Harry could feel his excitement increase as he saw the light get brighter. He increased his pace, carefully watching his step as the snow crunched loudly below him...
Harry whirled around so fast that he almost lost his balance. There was something moving to his right, he was sure of it. Pausing for a moment, Harry stood stock still as he listened carefully for another sound. A few seconds later, he heard it again; a rustling of the branches and the snow crunching loudly as if someone was running. He aimed his wand in the direction of the sound but only saw a few low branches swaying back and forth.
‘Harry...’ a bone-chilling voice whispered.
Looking all around him for the source of the voice, Harry began to breathe very heavily. There was something moving around him; there was something alive.
Then, a strong gust of freezing wind slashed his face and as he shielded his watery eyes, he heard a faint pop. Standing quite still, the only noise he could hear was the rustling of the branches in the wind. After not moving for many moments, Harry did not hear the whispery voice nor did he have the feeling that something or someone was accompanying him in the forest.
Gulping loudly, Harry looked around, not exactly sure of the direction that he had come from. However, interrupting his search was something quite bright that distracted him; it was the bright light that somehow was now sitting at his feet. Looking down, he could see that the light was actually a piece of rolled up parchment held inside a glass vial that was giving off the eerie blue glow. Seizing it, Harry un-stoppered the vial and dumped out the piece of parchment in to his hand. He hastily unfastened it and saw that the message written on it was very brief.
The memory currently out of your position is the key. It is imperative that you re-obtain it in order to continue. Retrieve it before the year’s end or risk losing the information necessary to defeat the Death Eaters and most importantly, the knowledge needed to stop Lord Voldemort from returning once and for all.
Harry flipped it over to check if anything was written on the back. Realizing there was not, he re-read the message once again before looking around, wishing that whoever was sending him these messages would present themselves to him. Quickly, he stuffed the message in to his robe pocket, setting off in what he thought was the right direction back to the party. Luckily, Harry guessed right, as the cold was beginning to make his toes and fingers go numb.
Ten minutes later, after re-entering the warmth of the party, Harry paid no attention to the dance floor or the stage. Not even the Weird Sisters hurling plums at one another on stage to the jeers of the crowd could un-focus him from finding Ron and Hermione and showing them the message that seemed to open up more questions than give answers.
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