Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Cage and Key

Slug club and New Plans

by faromir 0 reviews

chapt 11

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: G - Genres: Drama,Romance - Characters: Harry,Hermione,Ron - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2015-05-11 - 7550 words

Disclaimer: The Harry Potter Universe and all the characters belong to J.K. Rowling.
Harry stood in front of a large, expensive looking door, his tired eyes taking in the fine details and brown colour it was bathed in. Letting him know that they had indeed arrived at the correct entryway, for the other doors didn't have this kind of craftsmanship.
"Ready, Harry?" Hermione asked from his side.
He nodded and raised his hand, knocking, pretty sure that he would have to be let inside.
Soon enough the door opened and he was caught by Slughorn's arms swinging around him, as if afraid he would run away at the last second, which might have been true. He thought morosely as he was led inside by the potions Professor.
"Come inside, Harry, come inside, we are all waiting for you!" Slughorn said, momentarily forgetting Hermione's existence in his giddiness.
The room was a mixture between a dining and common room, in the back of the oval shaped room were multiple chairs, tables and couches, with a magically enchanted fireplace nearby as the flames formed human shapes in the fire, talking to each other animatedly, performing some kind of play to any onlookers.
The tables held various gizmos, likewise to those in Slughorn's office, surrounded by multiple snacks and beverages in expansive flasks and plates.
The rest of the room too had Slughorn's taste, as intricate tapestries covered the floor and tables, on the walls were various items of success and photograph's of previous Slug Club members.
He was led to a round and smoothly polished table, covered with delicacies that wouldn't be served any other day at Hogwarts.
"Here have a seat!" Slughorn said, planting him next to Daphne in one of the few remaining seats.
"Hey." He said to her, giving a small and quick greeting as Hermione seated herself on his other side. "Does everyone have an predetermined seat here?"
"Evening, Harry, and no, just you." She said, propping her chin on her hand with a gleam in her eyes, telling him that her entertainment had arrived.
"Let me introduce you to everyone." Slughorn began, seated directly across the table from him. "Starting from my left is Blaise Zabini, whom you met on the train ride already." Harry inclined his head this time, not caring that Zabini didn't.
"Onwards from him are the lovely Carrow twins; Hestia and Flora." He said, indicating towards two girls; likely one year below him, looking identical in everything except for their names as both of their hair was styled parallel with the same russet brown colour, wearing green clothes with neutral expressions towards him.
One of them began and ended, instantly reminding him of Fred and George. However they seemed to be more of a polar opposite of their personalities as they seemed calm and reserved.
"Nice to meet you- both of you." He replied politely as they were respectful in their greeting towards him unlike Zabini.
"From there on we mostly have friends of yours, Harry. Next is Daphne Greengrass, potions prodigy and your partner; whom you prove to be exceptionally compatible with." Slughorn said, awkwardly introducing Daphne.
Daphne, however didn't feel that way as she sat up a bit straighter, a smile on her face.
"After Daphne is Hermione, our top class student and your close friend." Slughorn continued, taking no notice of Hermione slightly blushing face from his praise.
"Next is to her is Neville Longbottom, also a new guest for our Club meetings, already having been introduced to the rest of the Club himself."
"Hey, Harry." A voice Harry recognized said, making him look to the direction it came from and indeed saw Neville seated next to Hermione, having remained unnoticed by him throughout the introductions of the others.
"A pleasant surprise, Neville." Harry said, wondering how he had ended up here. Neville hadn't been invited to any others meetings since the train ride, as far as he knew from Hermione at least. He briefly looked at Hermione to see her shrug, truly having had no idea of his coming either.
"Lastly is Cormac McLaggen, whom you surely recognize for being one year above you, and having met in our initial meeting on the train." Slughorn said, motioning to the large youth with short wavy hair.
"Evening." McLaggen simply said, both of them hardly knowing each other.
"Evening." Harry greeted back.
"Let's continue now that we have left the introductions behind. We have various exotic dishes again, courtesy to some of the best cooking house elves of the wizarding world." Hermione shifted in her seat here, likely itching to protest. "Now, enjoy yourselves and dig in, grab whatever fancies your interest!" Slughorn proudly announced.
The whole table began picking food off the dishes, quickly ruining the little works of arts that had been made with it using the shapes and colours of the food.
Slughorn began telling stories to McLaggen and Zabini about the first time he had tasted each of these dishes and how he managed to acquire them from their creators, McLaggen listening in mild interest while Zabini ate his food for the most part, not really listening.
"Strange." Harry said, swallowing another bite. "I had expected him to immediately pellet me with questions like last time on the train."
"Oh, I may have had a hand in that." Daphne said casually.
"How so? You weren't at the train meeting, how did you know?" He asked.
"I can talk to people, thank you very much, Harry. McLaggen had described his first meeting to me, when I joined here, a while before Granger came. He told me how Slughorn made you and Neville slightly uncomfortable with his questions."
"What did you do to stop him then, did you threaten him with your wand or something?" Harry asked, curious as to what could stop Slughorn.
"I merely approached him beforehand, asking him to refrain from asking such questions in the presence of others. I learned by now that you don't like to elaborate on such things, I let him know that it would put you at ease, making you more willing to attend the other Clubs." Daphne revealed.
"Your devising is scary at times like these but thank you nonetheless." Harry said, truthfully.
"Let me take care of things and everything will be fine, Harry." Daphne said, grinning. "However Slughorn might as well ask when we're alone with him."
"Still that's a lot better than right here." He said, glad for her actions.
He turned his head to Neville and Hermione as the latter began questioning Neville's presence while Daphne turned to answer some questions from the Carrow twins.
"How did you get here Neville? You weren't invited to any new meetings after the train ride, right? What happened?" Hermione asked, rounding on Neville as soon as everyone around the table had entered conversation.
"I'm not really sure why he would do it, but it had been after my fight with Nott." Neville said confused, frowning a bit in thought.
"Fight?" Harry asked incredulous. Surprised that somehow, Neville's reason for being here was for a fight with Nott.
"Yeah, it was a few days ago. I bumped against Nott in the hallway after rounding a corner, splattered ink all over his chest as I had been walking with an open flask." Neville said, looking a bit awkward as he recalled the memory.
"Why were you even walking with an open ink pot from the start? It's not the smartest thing you can do." Hermione said, making Neville look sheepish.
"I know, Hermione. I lost the lid somewhere in the library, I think somebody may have taken it while I hadn't been watching, but nonetheless I wanted to return to the common room to save my bottle of ink by getting a spare lid from my trunk, however Nott happened as you know." Neville said, scratching his neck.
"He got angry after I spilled it all over him, started throwing insults at me as I tried to calm him down. The insults however, soon turned towards me being a squib and my parents. I saw red for a moment and punched him."
"You punched him?" Hermione asked, perplexed at the outburst of the normally shy and withholding boy.
"Yeah, right in the face. Professor Slughorn came out shortly after; I think he had been watching us from the beginning. He prevented things from escalating to spells being thrown around and split us up. He deducted points from both of us and dismissed Nott by vanishing the stain, telling him to go see Madam Pomfrey for the hit, while giving me a detention." Neville explained.
"Afterwards he started going on and on about me taking after my parents and invited me to come here. I didn't want to come at first, but decided otherwise after he told me about you guys being here." Neville said, finishing his story.
"Unexpected to say the least." Harry said slightly stunned, the scenario looking strange in his head.
"Yeah, your changing, Neville. Not in a bad way mind you, although I'm also not trying to say that punching was the best thing to do either, but you get what I mean." Hermione said, rambling a bit.
"Says the girl that punched Malfoy in third year." Harry mumbled, earning a jab from Hermione, making him drop the food that had been on his fork, back to his plate.
"Say how is the food you have there, Harry?" Daphne suddenly said from his right, having finished her own conversation with the Carrows.
"Huh? Yeah it's good." Harry replied, switching his attention to her as she leaned over to him to see what he had on his plate, despite being seated right next to him, being perfectly able to look from her position.
"Really? Don't mind me testing it out then." Daphne said without reserve, picking some of the food from his plate with her fork and eating it.
"Uhm, that stuffs half eaten you know?" Harry said unsure whether or not she knew, and a bit uncomfortable with her casual behavior in front of Hermione's lightly twitching left eye and Neville's puzzling look.
"Hm? Oh that's fine, Harry." Daphne said in a cheerful tone, easily dismissing it and taking another bite from his food, seemingly oblivious to Hermione's eye.
"This is quite sweet isn't it, you like sweet stuff?" Daphne continued.
"It's okay, I'm more a fan of spicy." He said, trying to make it seem a bit more normal by eating some of his food himself, instead of sitting back and letting her eat his remaining food.
"You know, the same dishes are right in front of you. You can take all you want, Harry is perfectly capable of finishing his own plate." Hermione finally said in a polite voice that was a bit forced.
"He was beginning to eat a bit slowly, I'm making it easier for him." Daphne said pleasantly, to Hermione's annoyance.
"I like more of the sweet stuff myself, Harry. Pretty much anything Honeydukes sells, favorites would be; Mousse Cakes, Sugar Quills and Pumpkin Pastries." She said, smoothly picking up from where they had stopped.
"Really now, I'll make sure to remember it." Harry absentmindedly said, watching another bite go in.
"That would be the right course of action." Daphne said haughtily, holding her fork lightly between her fingertips.
"Of course Miss Greengrass." Harry said, feeling like a butler again, much like during their potions lessons where he is to retrieve the ingredients at the start.
"So where is Ginny?" Harry asked, remembering that she had also been there on the train ride. "She also came to the Club meetings did she not?"
"Asking about another girl with one in front of you, Harry? You should know better than that." Daphne said, pointing her fork at him, confusing him a bit with her words.
"But no; she wasn't invited to the Club meetings that followed after the train ride. Slughorn doesn't keep people in here for being good in making people's snot attack them." She said, turning stingy.
"There's more to her than that, Harry and Ginny get along well, he would have enjoyed her company right, Harry?" Hermione said, asking him for confirmation, while looking a bit smug.
"Yeah she opened up more during the years, quite funny to have around now." Harry said carefully as Daphne jabbed particularly hard at the food on his plate.
"Say, you guys are organizing the Christmas party right? How are things going along?" Neville said, coming to his rescue with a different topic.
"Yes indeed!" Slughorn said, coming out of his conversation with the Carrow twins when he overheard the two words from them. "How is the organizing coming along? Do you have any ideas for the party?"
"We do." Daphne said, relieving him a bit as he hadn't come up with anything yet for the party. "We plan to invite more guests, multiple bands and expand the rooms to accommodate said expansion of people."
"More guests and larger rooms, why?" Slughorn questioned, turning more business like at the prospect of increasing his costs.
"For the main event which will fit young and old; dancing." Daphne said, making dread settle in on his full stomach at the thought of another Yule ball, another dance, and another hunt for a date. But he kept his calm, speaking up against her now would reveal his lack of involvement.
"Dancing? I must say that I mostly shied away from it, afraid that it would take away too much of the conversations." Slughorn said, voicing his thoughts.
"Which is why the dances that will be held are more traditional and slow, allowing for good one on one conversations between witches and wizards. Besides it also introduces my reason for wanting more room, it's so that people who are not interested or have finished dancing can move to another room, away from the roaming dancers."
"The youngsters here would genuinely like it? I remember some cases from other formal parties where the juniors looked none too happy about it." Slughorn said, swirling his mustache as he doubted the idea.
"Likely because they were forced to, instead of choosing to. People here can decide for themselves whether or not they want to." Harry said, offering Daphne some support, making her smile a bit at him.
"I see; this way only the eager would show themselves on the floor, and move to another room if feeling otherwise." Slughorn said, nodding.
"Hogwarts held a ball not too long ago with the Triwizard Tournament, it contained traditional along with more energetic dancing. People enjoyed it very much and would probably do so again, even without the more powerful dancing." One of the Carrow twins said, presumably Hestia, offering another positive opinion.
"But, there will surely be a good amount of people that won't know the appropriate dances if we invite more people from around the castle, leaving the floor looking empty in contrast to the amount of tenants." Slughorn said, poking a hole in the idea, leaning back in his chair and resting his hands on his filled belly.
"Maybe supplementary lessons can be held for those who don't know? The same was done for the Yule ball." Hermione said, presenting a solution.
"The party is six weeks from now, I'm afraid that searching for an instructor will take too long, not to mention that we still have to sort and invite the extra guests." Slughorn said, turning more reluctant as they were presented with more obstacles.
"Those problems can easily be taken care of, Horace. A list of potential people to invite has already been made, the dance lessons will also pose no difficulties; Harry and I will serve as their instructors. We know the dances that are going to be held at the party, and will offer our help to the students as we invite them." Daphne said confidently, making him snap his neck to her as she was obviously lying about him knowing any of the dances.
"Really!" Slughorn said, perking up at the preparations that had been made by 'them'. "It would indeed be wonderful to have you two serve as public representatives of the party, I could easily provide you with a classroom spacious enough to accommodate your lessons."
"That would be helpful to us, Horace." Daphne said, looking quite pleased with herself.
"But," Slughorn began in a tone that suggested it was his final hurdle to them. ""I must say that while dancing would be enjoyable indeed, Is it going to make up for the effort that will need to be put into it? What else will it offer? Don't forget that this is also meant for senior wizards and witches wishing to lay contacts and forge beneficial pacts besides pleasant conversation."
Daphne smiled so predatory that he felt a shiver run up his spine. "That, dear Horace, is where our theme for the party comes in."
"Your theme?" Slughorn said, leaning over to them, along with the rest of the people seated at the table, an enticed look written all over his face.
"Yes, you feel reluctant because you're afraid that your party will be just that; a fancy party, nice and simple but forgotten just as easily. Ending up unnecessary in the end, having been nothing out of the ordinary to remember it by." Daphne said, luring everyone around the table in with each word, sparking curiosity in them.
"My idea will make this party unique for everyone, serving to make it memorable for years to come and adding to your own desire of having your guests reach out and contact each other." Daphne continued, eyes blazing in the passion of her drive.
"What we need is a certain flair to it, mystery for the guests, and exceptionality for the memory while staying appropriate for the traditional dances and varying attendants."
Daphne waited for a moment to let them guess, speaking again when no one spoke up.
"..A masquerade." She spoke into the silence, leaning forward a bit. "Imagine the imprint it would leave on everyone, Horace. The mysterious air all around the party, who is that witch, who is that wizard? Guests will seek each other out to learn more about the person they see. Not able to recognize them from face alone, coming forward with little reservations as they are hidden themselves, starting conversations with people they might otherwise have shied away from."
Harry, along with the rest of the table gaped at her, before he turned to look at Slughorn, coming over his own initial surprise.
Said potions Professor kept staring ahead, a million thoughts likely running through his head, having stopped twirling his moustache, holding it still between his fingertips.
"Speak no more, Daphne. You have convinced me.." Slughorn said to them, not realizing she hadn't continued talking in the first place.
He stood up abruptly, his chair screeching as it was pushed back. "This idea is absolutely genius.. Don't worry about the decorations and senior guests, I'll get it prepared. Give me the list of people to invite later, I'll gather more students to help you two invite and organize. Please contact me if there is anything else I can help you both with."
"In fact, I'll be taking absence for some time, I'll be back in a while." Slughorn said, marching to the door, absorbed with the idea.
"Like, right now?" Neville asked, perplexed as Slughorn had already touched the door.
"Oh yes, time is of the essence, I have a few calls to make." Slughorn said, only his head left peeking out of the door to them.
"Daphne, Harry; regarding the masquerade, half face masks will be required as a minimum, no eye masks, they still reveal too much of the person underneath." He said, adding only one condition to the idea before disappearing, closing the door.
Silence lingered for a moment before Hermione spoke out. "Uhm, I'll be taking those lessons, the few dances from the Yule ball are quite some time ago.."
"Me too, I'm pretty rusty after stopping going to the parties my gran made me go to." Neville said.
"Slughorn will probably ask the rest of us to help recruit and organize, we can help with the lessons too if you want. We likely know the dances that will be held." McLaggen said, indicating towards himself, Zabini, and the twins.
"Neville and I can help with the organizing and inviting." Hermione said, offering help where they could.
"Thank you all, we'll take you up on your offer." Daphne said after confirming each of their consents.
"But I didn't know you knew the dances, Harry. Have you been practicing with Greengrass beforehand?" Hermione asked, looking skeptical.
"Ah, yes about that…excuse us for a moment, emergency meeting." He said, grabbing Daphne's wrist, pulling her with him to the area further back in the room where the chairs and couches stood.
"What's up, Harry?" Daphne asked innocently after he rounded on her, out of hearing range from the others.
"Don't 'what's up' me, Daphne. Stop pulling this kind of crap on me! First you have me come here and to the upcoming party, next you rope dancing lessons one me. I don't know if your aware of it, but Hagrid knows more about dancing than I do!" He hissed.
"Minor details, Harry. I've seen you learn from me in our potions lessons, you will pick it up in no time with my help; ready to teach the others before they come." Daphne said, crossing her arms, finding it a small problem.
He, however didn't think likewise, he had his research which was becoming more frustrating every evening along with his training, homework, Club meetings and friends. He wasn't looking forward to combining that with multiple dance lessons in the coming weeks.
"We already talked about this during our detention, where you pulled the same stunt. You're doing it again now; yes I might have said no but that doesn't mean you just work yourself around it and force me into it." He said, her aloof demeanor doing little to calm him.
"Oh, come on Harry. it's a brilliant idea, admit it." She said, frowning as he wasn't anywhere near the positivity she would have liked.
"No, I already told you; I don't have time for this." He said, putting emphasis and making a small gesture around them.
"Why not, Harry? You don't have to go towards the classroom every night. You could just skip a few nights." Daphne said, turning serious, questioning his reasons for being so devoted and finding that his tight schedule was flexible to her, even wanting him to skip nights altogether.
"Because I don't have a choice. I have to do it." He said, exasperated
"No good will come out of pushing yourself, especially regarding that." Daphne said, warningly.
"I'll be fine. You owe me for this, Daphne, I'll talk to you later." He said, moving towards Hermione and Neville who had left the table and started approaching them at the lounging area. The last thing he heard from Daphne being the huff she let out before plumping down on the couch behind her.
"What's wrong, Harry? It looked a bit heated." Hermione asked, questions written all over her face. Her eyes switching between him and Daphne in the background.
"Same story as with detentions; promises and plans were made without my knowing. I told her that she should have asked me, instead of assuming that I would decline her. Having opted to work her way around it to make sure she got what she wanted." He said sourly, seeing Hermione look disapprovingly at Daphne, and Neville with a mixture of conflicted thoughts for both parties.
"It's safe to say that you don't know any of the dances then? Nor anything about the masquerade?" Hermione asked, indignant. Her face a mixture of surprise and disbelief.
Seeing Hermione face and tone quickly made him stop his irritation from showing, dinner hadn't gone all that smoothly for Daphne and Hermione; mainly Hermione if judging visually. Not to mention that Hermione hadn't been exactly fond of hearing from Daphne's actions during their detention, having a repeat right now didn't do much good either.
It would be better to try and ease Hermione irritations if he wanted to introduce the two of them with some degree of success.
"I didn't know anything about the theme, but It's fine, Hermione. I'll have her pay me back in whatever way I see fit for this." Harry said, speaking honestly to her while trying to drop the issue.
"What about those dances, Harry. You don't know any of them, maybe one, completely rusty from the Yule ball but that's it. you will be teaching the other students soon." Hermione continued.
"Daphne and I will be practicing them beforehand, I'll have it down quick enough." He said, making Hermione pull a face which said that she wasn't done yet.
"Look," He said, before Hermione had opened her mouth again to protest. "Daphne isn't a bad person, just very stubborn, and probably even selfish at times like these." Making Hermione look doubtful at the parts where he had been positive. Conflicted by her own thoughts and opinions on Daphne.
"At least one thing you have in common then.. the stubborn part being what I mean of course." Neville said a bit jokingly, trying to ease the tension.
"Oh, you have no idea." Hermione said, smiling a bit.
"But I guess you're right, Harry. I can see you having plenty of fun during the lessons, giving me some reassurance on her other; more positive personal traits. Anyone you familiarize yourself with can't be all that much of a bad person." Hermione said, relenting.
"Good, because I still want to introduce you to her." Harry said, glad that she was calming down.
"I know, Harry. Dinner… didn't prove to be the right time for it." She said slowly, referring to his and Daphne's little display of finishing his plate.
"Ah, yes.." Harry said, unsure how to respond.
"Let me introduce you two to each other." He said, switching one awkward subject for (likely) another.
They returned to the lounging area. Finding Daphne intently studying the animated fire, a bit of a moping expression on her face.
"Daphne." He said, beginning in a much more neutral tone than he had previously ended, pulling her attention to him, her face quickly morphing from sulking to pleased at hearing him return to her before dimming a bit after seeing the crowd he brought.
"I'm sure that no introduction will be needed for Neville, I have understood that you already know him from balls and parties in the past." He said, remembering Neville's words from the start of the year.
"I do." She simply said, inclining her head to Neville in a small greeting as he did the same.
"You have already heard me speak a bit about my treasured friends, please meet one of them; the smart, brave and loyal Hermione Granger." Harry said, not holding back in the compliments he had for his friends
"Hermione, meet Daphne Greengrass, by Slughorn proclaimed potions prodigy, my partner and soon to instructor." He said, letting her know that he hadn't forgotten.
"Uhm, pleased to meet you." Hermione said, blushing from his words as she held out her hand to Daphne.
"Likewise." Daphne said, standing up and shaking the offered hand while her eyes shifted from him to Hermione, a look indescribable to him on her face.
"It's much like the case you and Harry had, we were too busy with our own friends and business to actually notice each other, despite sharing classes. Not that I didn't know your name before, but you get what I mean." Hermione said, babbling a bit.
"I do and your right, I guess Horace's idea really did help in that regard." Daphne said, briefly meeting his eyes during her words.
"So how did you come upon the idea to hold a masquerade?" Hermione asked, trying some conversation.
"I didn't, Tracey gave it to me as one of her ideas for the party. I knew that it would be perfect as soon as I had heard the word." Daphne said, giving Tracey credit for having mentioned it.
"Sorry for the delay!" They heard Slughorn suddenly call out, having entered the room again, ending their short exchange. "Everyone please join me at the table for another moment."
They moved towards the table after hearing his words, seating themselves again as he began to speak.
"I have swiftly consulted my expense and decorations organizers in my leave, I will be happy to say that they find it feasible with the help that is offered, promising a spectacle to behold." Slughorn said, telling them what he had been doing in his absence.
"However, just Harry and Daphne will not be enough to sort through the guest list that we now have, which is why I wish to ask the remaining people here for their help, it is not obligatory so feel free to decline, but understand my favor lies with you."
"We have already been decided, Slughorn. The remainder of us will help sort through the guests that are invited and will ask whether or not they require lessons." Zabini said in a rather bored tone. Surprising Harry that he was helping them, even if it probably was more for his own amusement of attending a masquerade than anything else.
"Really? Fantastic! That certainly speeds things up for our meeting then, I trust that asking people from Slytherin and Gryffindor will pose no difficulty with half of our current Club consisting of it. Ravenclaw can mostly be left to Slytherin, you share a good amount of free periods with them. The same can be said for Gryffindor and Hufflepuff." Slughorn said, giving the others instructions.
"Be fast and efficient, I wish to have an agenda ready of everyone who will be coming from the original list along with those who will need supplementary lessons at the next Club meeting in two weeks, alright?" Slughorn asked them for confirmation.
Multiple agreements sounded from around the table, making him look satisfied in response.
"Let's raise a toast to celebrate this sensational turn of events." Slughorn said as small glasses appeared in front of them.
"A toast, to Hogwart's brightest and best!" He said proudly, raising his glass in a toasting gesture, all of them taking their glasses and returning the gesture, drinking the burning liquid in one go.
"I-isn't this a bit strong Professor?" Hermione said, looking to be taking a good amount of effort in not coughing from the spiked liquid. Having not expected the alcohol.
"Horace or Slughorn, Hermione." Slughorn said, reminding her about how he wanted them to address each other. "But it was indeed a bit strong wasn't it!" Slughorn said, laughing as others slowly started conversing with each other again. "It's okay once in a while, seventy years old from Greece, only the best for these kind of occasions."
"You okay there, Hermione?" He asked, raising his eyebrow at her. looks like the few drinks Sirius had introduced to him were helping out now.
"Totally." Hermione said after a moment of blinking her eyes and clearing her throat. "How's your training coming along, Harry. What kind of things have you been learning?"
"Oh you know, practicing my aim, improving spells like Stupefy, Protego and Reducto on their firepower, silently casting while doing so." Harry said, feeling a sting run though him as he saw her nod in belief and appraisal.
"That's wonderful, Harry. But don't wear yourself out too much during those trainings, you go to sleep with Ron and everyone else, but still seem to get up tired. Are you having trouble sleeping at night?" Hermione asked, quietly.
"Yes, I'm thinking about casting Silencing Charms around Ron's bed, his snoring might wake up the whole Forbidden forest." He said softly, smiling a bit despite feeling like a jerk for misleading her from the truth.
"You're not having nightmares then? Ron and I know you've been having them over the past few years." Hermione nearly whispered now, putting her hand on the back of his, looking solicitously at him.
"I'm fine Hermione, they've lessened by now." He said in the same volume, this time not entirely managing to convince her with his easy going smile as she looked a bit sad, maybe even disappointed, her eyes downcast for a moment before coming back to his.
"That's good. Know that we are here for you when you need us, Harry." Hermione said reassuringly to him, giving his hand a small squeeze before slowly retracting.
"I know, Hermione. I know that very well." He simply said, thinking about their loyalty to him; dangerous loyalty.
"Harry." He heard from his other side, catching his attention as Daphne called his name. "Care to move to the lounging area for some conversation concerning the party?" She said, quietly moving her chair back and moving to the area further back, not waiting for his answer.
"Why in private Harry?" Neville said, wondering why it couldn't be in front of them.
"She probably has some extra surprises, can't have too many people know and accidentally spoil it, right?" Harry said, despite having a feeling that the surprises would be about more than just the masquerade.
"But, I'll see you guys in a bit then." He said, not waiting for their answer himself, and moving to join Daphne.
She seated herself next to the fireplace on a couch that allowed them to keep the whole room within sight. He joined her, being too paranoid to sit in the armchair with Slughorn around.
"What is it you wanted to talk about?" He asked after a moment of sitting next to each other.
She mumbled something after crossed her legs arms and arms, sounding to have great trouble with speaking the unrecognizable words, her head turned away from him.
"What was that? I'm over here, Daphne, I didn't hear what you were saying." He said in response to her behavior and unheard words.
"I said that I'm sorry, okay?!" Daphne quickly said, whipping her face with red tinged cheeks around to look him in the eyes. "I shouldn't have dumped those things on you without your knowing or consent.."
He sighed, "It's okay, Daphne. Just promise that you will ask me from now on, and accept my choice in the matter even if it doesn't meet your wishes or expectations."
"I will." She said gloomily, uncrossing her arms and resting them on her lap.
He took a moment to gaze at her morose mood, how she quietly stared downwards at her fiddling thumbs, with her eyes seemingly trying to hide themselves, her usual boastful nature having turned docile and awkward. She wasn't used to giving apologies.
"The masquerade really was a good idea you have expanded upon though. You made good use of it to fit everyone's wishes, you covered all the problems beforehand to make it work." He said smiling a bit, seeing her perk up at his words.
"W-wel of course, I knew it was perfect from the start. You're just been acting negative about it because you botched up your own night at the Yule ball." She said, quickly coming back in full swing.
"Oh shut up, will you. The Christmas party will be different." He said, after being reminded of the Yule ball.
"It better be, for you and I will be the representatives for the party. I'll chain you to my wrist if I have to." She said, looking seriously at him.
"Please don't, I'll be good." Harry said before gears began to work. "Wait, you mean to say that you and I will be going to the party as a couple then?"
"Of course, we are the representatives and will be giving the supplementary lessons, it would be senseless for us not to be so at the party itself." Daphne said, speaking as though it should have been overly obvious to him.
Harry closed his eyes for a moment, girl is impossible, it was a good thing he had asked.
"Anything else that I ought to know?" He said, raising an eyebrow.
"Yes, but it regards a completely different topic." Daphne said, turning serious, taking a quick look around with her eyes to see that everyone was still at the table.
"It's about the Dark Arts. You are practicing them, whatever your reasons for practicing, be it for stomping Malfoy or upping your grades; it is not worth it." She said, boring her eyes into his as her volume lowered.
He looked back just as easily. "I wouldn't practice them for such petty reasons, Daphne. I know that my reasons are worth it."
"The Dark Arts can be addicting, Harry. It's one of the reasons why it is shunned. People who dive too deep will drown, unable to reach the surface again." She said unconvinced of his words.
"Oh come on, that's just talk to scare people off from using it. They require darker intent and emotions but that's all, they're a polar opposite from the Light spells. It's your morality and what you decide to do with it that defines you." Harry said, disagreeing with her.
"It's more than just talk, not everyone, but a good portion of people who practice and look too much into it, become absorbed in it. On more than just a mental level; physically as well. It seeps into their very own bodies, changing people through its use." Daphne said in response.
"..I see, this way morality will be changed in turn. Which explains the saying of people 'going Dark.'" Harry said, absentmindedly. "Still this changes nothing, I'll control it if the unlikely situation occurs at all. Although I thank you for the warning and your concern."
She pursed her lips. "..Do your friends know?"
"No, and I intent to keep it that way."
"For what reason do you keep it from them, Harry, what reason do you have for practicing it at all?" Daphne asked, intrusively.
"To protect, Daphne. People who associate themselves with me often end up unfortunate, the same can be said to you; you should be careful about showing your allegiance yourself. Trouble will find me, and I'm doing what I can. Telling my friends won't help them in any way, might even endanger them later on." Harry said, listing some of his reasons and giving her a warning.
"Are rumors from your previous school years true then? I could certainly qualify that as trouble." She asked, leaning forward, completely ignoring his warnings to her.
"I don't know what is said exactly, but at least a small portion of it should be correct." He said, thinking about how the rumors from each of his years were somewhat correct.
"When you came back with Cedric did you-" She began, questioning the most controversial rumor.
"- This is not the time nor place for that, Daphne." He said cutting her off, uncomfortable with the memory.
"Sorry.. and everything that is being said about the 'Chosen one' is there some kind of truth in that?" She said unhindered, opting to change questions instead of stopping.
"True in a sense, you can say that Voldemort-" She stiffened a bit at the name. "-has a bit of a personal grudge for me. He came after me in the past, and will do so again in the future." Harry said, giving something.
"Do you know why he came after you, Is there any special reason?" She asked, likely thinking about the multiple dots surrounding it, but unable to make something solid out of it with the information she had.
"Just that my parents were in a resistance group against him, he found out and came to take them out and..well you know the rest." He said, keeping it short and simple.
"I see." Daphne said, taking a moment to look at him.
"Have you been following my advice, Gotten some sleep? No, never mind, don't answer; I can see that you didn't. What else are you doing, Harry? You should not be tired If things are as Granger mentioned." Daphne asked, answering half of the questions herself in the progress.
"You overheard us then?" Harry asked in return to her knowing of his and Hermione's silent conversation just before.
"Only about you going to sleep with Weasley at the same time, and your answer to her, but only because you were talking too loud! You two started whispering after that.." Daphne said, making it sound like it was his fault.
"You- argh, never mind." He began and ended, not even beginning the discussion on how she had been intently listening in on them. "it's the same as I said to Hermione; Ron sn-"
"Don't pull a Ron on me too, Harry. that's bollocks. You are either spending your time on something or find yourself unable to properly sleep." Daphne said, this time cutting him off.
Both, Harry thought, glad that she hadn't overheard the rest and replied otherwise,. "Sometimes things aren't all that complicated, Daphne. I'm a light sleeper and a busy person, it's true that I might get worn out a bit by it."
"Fine, be that way." Daphne grumbled.
"You might talk about me but are you ok yourself? You've been a bit red for some time now." He said, taking a closer look at her slightly red face, which couldn't be from blushing anymore.
"You don't have to make excuses for wanting to take a closer look at me , Harry." Daphne said lightly, even turning her head more to him, so that he got a better look.
He lapsed for a moment, seeing her red tinged cheeks glowing defiantly in contrast to her white skin. The warm light of the fireplace giving the rest of Daphne's skin a soft and inviting look.
"Sure, Daphne. Now back to the question." He said after a moment, reminding himself. Her blue eyes staring back at him, flames from the fire dancing inside.
"I'm just a bit bad with alcohol, that's all, the glass was quite strong for me." Daphne said, offhandedly.
"Really? Better watch out with the drinks at the masquerade then." He said, imagining a drunk and wobbly Daphne, thrashing about on her own party.
"I'm the perfect example of self-discipline, there will be no problems whatsoever." She said, confidently.
He heard the scraping of chairs and turned to see everyone at the table standing up. Slughorn addressing them one last time.
"I once again thank you all for coming and wish you good luck with your tasks. Don't overburden yourself and go see your fellow organizers or me if you come across hard to solve problems. I'll see you at the next potions lesson otherwise." Slughorn said, looking at all of them fondly.
Harry rose out of the couch turning to look back after finding his side empty, seeing Daphne look up at him from the couch, her hand outstretched.
He took her hand in his; warm and soft like it looked earlier, feeling a natural smile on his face as he guided her up. Was this meant to become a habit now?
"Promise me you won't dive too deep, Harry." She asked seriously, her eyes looking into his for reassurance.
"I can't make that promise without the chance of having to break it later on, I will do whatever necessary. I can promise you however; that I'll always keep others in mind." Harry said, unwaveringly.
"You should keep yourself more in mind." Daphne said sadly, despite the small smile on her face.
"I'll see you soon, Harry." She said, moving towards the door.
"Yeah, see you around." He called back, looking at the fire for a moment, seeing two flaming figures hug each other before molding into a single flame, signifying their union.
He turned away from the flame, squinting to see Neville and Hermione waiting for him at the door, through his heavy feeling eyes.
"So any surprises?" Neville asked after Harry had reached them.
"Yes actually; Daphne apologized, and can't seem to hold her liquor." He said, suppressing a yawn as they moved out of the room into the hallway.
"Surprises indeed." Neville said as the door closed behind them.
Harry moved with them to the common room, already mentally preparing himself for another long night.
Maybe he should spend some time learning more about the Dark Arts instead of Voldemort's survival technique? His research had begun to reach a dead end anyway with all the information in Hogwarts's nearly searched through.
The things Daphne had told him were actually new to him despite briefly having looked into multiple books already regarding the nature of the Dark Arts. The information must have been either vague or omitted as he hadn't come across it during his readings.
But then again it would scare your readers away to begin your book with such a forbidding message at the start.
In any case it would be a nice change from his frustrating research while still being an interesting topic he ought to learn more about.
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