Chapter 10 : The Christmas Ball
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Natalie McDonald was one of the last people to arrive at the ball, but everyone’s eyes were on her when she entered. Lavender had given her a makeover. Her hair was half up in a bun and the rest down in curls. She wore a pale pink dress that matched the pink blush on her cheeks. Neville was gobsmacked. “Natalie!” He ran up and gave the fourth-yeah Gryffindor a big hug.
Hermione smiled at the pair. Natalie was a bit pudgy, but one of the sweetest girls in the school. She looked like a princess.
Ginny hadn’t had a chance to talk to Draco about the previous night and it wasn’t as if she’d have been able to find another date, so she came with him to the dance anyway. Draco didn’t have a clue as to why she was in a cross mood, but shrugged it off as a ‘girl thing’.
One of the Creevey boys approached Natalie asking her to dance with them, but she said, “No, I’m with Neville.” She grinned, pulling her boyfriend onto the dance floor.
After about an hour, it was announced that there was a dance off. “Everyone find a partner,” Dumbledore announced, “Let the competition begin!” he clapped his hands together twice and swing music started playing.
Ron, who was completely inept at dancing normally, had actually learned a few moves since the previous year. Hermione was shocked when he took her by the hand, swung her away and back to him even closer. “Where’d you learn?” she gasped.
“I have my sources…” he grinned, pulling her closer.
Kelly stood up from her chair and grabbed Harry’s hand saying, “Come on!”
“I-I’m not that-I don’t know how to-” Harry stuttered.
“That’s all right!” she said gleaming. “The girls have to do most of the work anyway. I’ll show you.” She spun under his arm, swinging back and then wound up with his arm around her middle.
Most of the time they were in close-contact like a slow-dance even though the music was fast-paced. Harry didn’t mind it at all. He even let her teach him a few steps.
Lavender chose not to join in, but eventually Dean persuaded her onto the dance floor. Meanwhile, Ginny’s best friend Janet sat at a table with some other Hufflepuff girls who didn’t have dates. Dennis Creevey came over to ask if she’d like to dance, but she turned him down.
Siena and Seamus started doing a dance that would have gone better to Rap music and no one had a clue what they were doing. “It’s called the sea-walk foo!” she exclaimed to a frightened fourth-year Hufflepuff. “You don’t know me!”
Seamus laughed, “This is great! Did you learn this over the summer?”
“That I did,” she said in her natural Irish brogue, “Glad you approve.”
Draco and Ginny were participating, but not swing-dancing since neither of them knew how. They slow-danced to the fast music even though Ginny was angry with him. She even allowed him to kiss her.
“Break it up you two,” McGonagall said to the pair, visibly surprised that Ginny Weasley was in Malfoy’s arms. She didn’t think it was appropriate for them to be kissing at a school-sanctioned event.
Natalie and Neville were doing their best imitation of swing-dancing and Natalie tried following Kelly’s moves.
After a few songs, the winners were announced. “Congratulations to our dance-off champions, Natalie McDonald and Neville Longbottom!”
Neville was in shock, “Me?”
“Yes you, silly!” Natalie beamed. The two of them went up to the platform and received the award which was vouchers for Honeydukes.
Everyone except Slytherins clapped for the cute couple before the music resumed.
After a song, Ginny was going to get something to drink when Draco said, “Thirsty, love?” She nodded sullenly. “Allow me.” He suavely went to get them some pumpkin juice from a table set up for the students.
On Draco’s way back over to Ginny, Pansy’s arm went around Draco’s back. She said in a loud enough voice for Ginny and a few other people near them to hear, “You were great last night, thanks sweetie.”
“Sod off!” He pushed her away from him.
Ginny was wide-eyed with astonishment.
“Stupid bint-don’t know what she was thinking-” Draco was muttering to Ginny. He handed her the drink saying, “Here you go, sugar.”
She clasped the cup tightly saying, “Is that how you treat all the girls you sleep with? Just shove them off the next day?!” She tossed the drink at him and stormed off with tears surging from her eyes.
Draco was confused. “What the hell?” He stood in shock, soaking wet.
Pansy slid back to her Slytherin cohorts, all of them laughing at Ginny’s display.
Hermione only caught that Ginny was yelling and saw her toss her drink in Malfoy’s face. Without telling anyone, she went after Ginny.
Ron was over at an hors d’oeuvres table noshing up on some finger sandwiches when he saw Malfoy get a drink thrown at him. He didn’t see who it was, but he found it hilarious that Malfoy was mortified. “Did you see that?” Ron asked the nearest person, who happened to be Kelly Andersson. “Malfoy’s got himself all wet!”
Laughing, Kelly helped herself to an hors d’oeuvre, but the laughing turned to coughing and the coughing became choking.
“Ginny! What happened?” Hermione asked her once she caught up to her in the hallway.
“Draco-he- he cheated on me! I saw him last night with Pansy and Millicent-and then Pansy gloats about how he slept with her last night-and— And I think it’s been going on all along!” Her tears gushed forth and she wept in Hermione’s arms. Hermione had never witnessed Ginny show such emotion before that it was scary.
Draco finally pulled himself out of shock and went after Ginny. He approached the sobbing girl carefully. “I don’t get it,” he said simply. “What did I do wrong? She told me she was thirsty!”
Hermione stared angrily at him. “What do you think you hateful, slimy, good-for-nothing son of a Death Eater! How could you do this to her?!”
“Do what?!” He was yelling now too.
“Leave me alone Draco!” Ginny sobbed.
“You cheated on her with Pansy and Millicent the night before the ball!” Hermione screamed at him.
“I did what?!” Draco’s jaw dropped open.
“So you’re going to deny it now too! That’s just great!” Hermione scoffed.
Ginny picked up her head and looked at him; still holding onto Hermione for support.
“I did no such thing! What the bloody hell is wrong with you?! I didn’t do ANYTHING!”
Ginny was even more upset than before because he wasn’t even apologizing. “Don’t lie to me!”
“I’m NOT!” he retorted, approaching her. “I was at a Prefect meeting last night!”
“Stay away from her Malfoy!” Hermione commanded.
“Just go, Hermione,” Ginny said with tears rolling down her cheeks. “This is between him and me.”
“I don’t want him to hurt you,” Hermione told her.
“You should be more afraid of what I’d do to him!”
Hermione wasn’t sure about leaving, so she only backed a step away from them. “I think I’ll stay.”
“Get out of here MUDBLOOD! This doesn’t concern you!” Draco seethed.
If only Hermione had her wand on her; she would have cursed him then, but she didn’t. She looked back at Ginny who nodded in a way that told her she should leave them alone. Once Hermione left, both of them had calmed down a bit even though they were still breathing hard.
“I didn’t do what you said I did,” he told her honestly.
“How can I believe you after this…this PROOF, right in front of me? I saw you last night too.”
“I was at a PREFECT MEETING! Ask Granger! She was there! Your brother was there! They can vouch for me!”
“Don’t give me that bullshit, Draco! I SAW YOU with Millicent and Pansy-and how you made them- and I- I saw you lot walk back to Slytherin Tower together—”
“I was NEVER WITH THEM last night! Why don’t you believe me?!”
Ginny was so disappointed in Draco. If he would have just admitted to his mistakes, admitted to cheating on her, it would take some time, but she probably would end up forgiving him. But he hadn’t. He hadn’t accepted responsibility for it like he had accepted responsibility for everything last year. Why would he deny something like this? Her parents were right all along. She was a Weasley. He was a Malfoy. They were never meant to be together. “…don’t come crying to us,” she heard her father say. Ginny shook her head. “It’s over Draco.”
“What?” He couldn’t comprehend what she was saying.
She was fooling herself this whole time! Come to think of it, he had never said he loved her. She had proven her love for him countless times, but she was reciprocated only with physical displays of affection. She was so angry with him now. It would be a long time before she would be able to look at him again. “We’re through.”
“No.” He went to touch her arm. She moved away from him. His voice choked on the question, “Why?” as tears welled in his eyes. “Ginny…” He could barely breathe as she walked away from him. He couldn’t put a name to the emotion he was feeling, but his chest hurt and he found it difficult to breathe let alone form a coherent thought.
Draco went from distraught and heartbroken to angry at the world. He hated Granger for adding to Ginny’s argument and not backing him up. He hated Ron Weasley for being such a protective git. He hated Potter for not fancying Ginny so he would have never fallen for her. He hated his parents and her parents for not approving of them. He hated everyone in Slytherin who had conspired against him. It all fell together now: That Pansy bitch and Millicent must have been behind this; breaking them up!
Meanwhile Ron had his arms around Kelly trying to dislodge the appetizer. Finally she spit it out. “I didn’t know it was fish! I hate fish so much!” She was overjoyed that Ron rescued her. “You saved my life!” she exclaimed, turning around in his arms and hugging him. She kissed him on the lips quickly to thank him just as Hermione came back into the room.
In that spilt second, Hermione saw her boyfriend’s arms around Andersson and saw her lips on his. She was paralysed in horror.
Ron pushed Kelly away and his eyes fell on Hermione.
Hermione walked directly back where she came from, away from Ron and Kelly.
Draco came back to the ball and hurled the closest chair across the room. It crashed into a table set up with refreshments. If only he had his wand with him…he’d Avada Kedavra the whole lot of ‘em! Those so-called ‘friends’… He wondered if his own parents hadn’t paid them off.
Before Draco could do much damage, Snape interfered and ushered him out of the Great Hall.
Harry hadn’t seen his date choke, but he too saw her kissing Ron. He approached her. “What was that?”
Kelly explained how Ron saved her life. It really appeared to be an innocent kiss. “I meant to get him on the cheek, but he turned his head.”
“It’s OK. No harm done,” he said. He didn’t know yet that Hermione had witnessed the whole thing. “Would you like to dance?”
She smiled at Harry and nodded.
Ron was confused by the kiss and upset that Hermione had seen. He hadn’t done anything besides save Kelly from choking. He ran after Hermione as soon as he cleared his mind as to what exactly had happened.
Siena and Seamus danced next to the pair. Siena remarked about Kelly’s hair, “That’s totally Asian!”
Kelly wore her long hair up in a twist held together by chopsticks. She hoped that Harry would like the Asian aspect to her attire and had practiced eating with chopsticks the night before, so if she felt like it, she could take them out of her hair and use them as silverware.
“I really like your hair,” Harry commented as they slow-danced.
“Thanks,” she said, glad that he had noticed.
Ron was desperately trying to explain the situation, but Hermione didn’t want to hear it. She believed that Kelly had faked choking in order to get her hands on Ron. “Why are you so jealous? Don’t you trust me?”
“And you know what makes this worse?” Hermione continued without even listening to Ron. “I thought it was Lavender because you two always come back together so late, but you’ve been with Kelly the whole time.”
It was true. “I was getting help from Kelly in Potions,” he explained. “Ask Lavender. I was too embarrassed to admit it before. I’m sorry.”
She believed him without needing to ask Lavender. “But why didn’t you ask me to help you?”
Ron blushed a bit. “Because I knew if I had asked you to tutor me, we wouldn’t get much studying done.”
He had a point and he was so cute about it, but for some reason, it didn’t click with Hermione. She didn’t accept it or his plea for reconciliation. “I don’t know…”
“I haven’t cheated on you if that’s what you’re thinking.” He didn’t think he did anything wrong.
“You didn’t tell me the truth.”
“Well I am now, doesn’t that count for something? Come on, Hermione! If I would have told you I was getting help from a cute Ravenclaw girl, you’d have bit my head off!” She really ought to be mad at Kelly, not him!
“She’s cute now, is she?” she retorted.
“You know what I mean!” he contended.
“Well it’s the principle of the thing!” Hermione insisted. “You should have told me. You should have been honest with me!”
“You should be able to trust me!” He felt cut that she didn’t trust him.
“You haven’t been honest with me!” She was offended that he hadn’t told her to begin with.
“This is so immature, Hermione!”
“This. This fight… Why do you always act like you’re the only one in the universe? You think everything has to do with you, but that’s not true. Maybe I was at fault because I didn’t tell you ahead of time, but it’s immature of you to assume something is going on when there’s nothing.”
“You weren’t able to trust me enough to tell me!”
“Fine, just lay the blame on me…”
“Fine! I will!” she said with conviction.
He shook his head. “You’re so stubborn!”
“So are you!” She didn’t want to talk to him anymore so she started walking away.
“Is that it then?” he wondered.
Turning to face him she asked, “What more is there to say, Ron? Hmm?”
He had already apologized, what more could she want? “I guess…nothing.”
She took a breath. “Nothing.” She turned away again and walked away.
He thought she was such a stubborn woman. She would never admit it when she was wrong. He didn’t know if she had broken up with him officially or not, but he wasn’t about to run after her to have her yell at him again. “Fine,” he said to the empty hallway. He surmised they had indeed broken up.
Laura blinked her eyes back into consciousness. She had to be dreaming! When she awoke, she found herself in Dumbledore’s office surrounded by pictures of ancient wizards and witches. “Awake at last,” Madame Pomfrey observed.
“Thank you, Poppy,” Dumbledore said graciously.
“What am I doing here? Am I dreaming?” Laura sat up slowly.
“Not a dream, Laura,” Dumbledore said, smiling. “Your belongings have been moved back into your old dormitory. We can talk more of this tomorrow.”
“What? No, I want to know now. What happened to me?”
“The Ministry and I have been watching your situation carefully and once the Dark Mark appeared in the sky close to the school you were boarding at, the Ministry finally agreed with me that sending you to Salem would not be the best option. They didn’t want an entire town to be wiped out just to get to you, so a few Aurors were sent to rescue you and here you are.”
Laura blinked a few times, still not believing what she was hearing. “But that man- the one who captured me… Where is he?”
“He flew in fear of the Aurors revealing his identity.”
“He told me he worked for my father.”
Dumbledore’s eyes widened from behind his half-moon glasses. He hoped that his decision hadn’t made it worse. He figured the best thing to do was bring her back to Hogwarts so he could keep her safer. He hadn’t realized until then that Laura’s father may be not merely a Death Eater, but a leader of an even darker, unmentionable group. “The price on your head is bigger than I expected.”
A/N: I didn’t want to get into Dumbledore versus Death Eaters or Dumbledore’s ways of getting information because some mysteries are left to the imagination. Let’s just say, Dumbledore has connections on both sides of this war and not all is secure—for example, the letters between Dumbledore and the American Witchcraft Association had been intercepted by people working for Laura’s father, that’s how they found out of her whereabouts, that’s why he was so concerned that he had to let her come back to Hogwarts. Hogwarts is the safest place!
side note-DAMN 3,000 words!!!
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