|SIYE Time:4:31 on 21st June 2018|
Category: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, All, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, General, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: Harry had never friends, so he imagined one: a red haired girl he kept forgetting to name. Ginny imagined a shy boy with untidy hair and bright eyes, who knew nothing of magic, so she told him. He dreamt of a world of magic and of a girl who wanted to be his friend. She dreamt of a boy who loved to hear her voice, no matter what. Then dreams become a reality when Harry met Ginny.
Rating changed for later chapters.
*Nominated for 2014 November/December DSTA for Best New Story and Best Romance* *Nominated for 2016 January/Feburary DSTA for Best Comedy, Drama, and Romance*
Hitcount: Story Total: 109813; Chapter Total: 1570
Awards: View Trophy Room
I'm really sorry about the mix-up last update; I don't know how why I posted chpt 40 instead of chpt 39. anyway, I've fixed it, here's chapter 40
Keepers and The Art of Necromancy
Ginny was quiet the rest of Saturday evening, and Harry didn’t press her on it. She brushed her teeth, washed her face, combed out her hair and braided it, then slid in between the blankets of her bed in silence, both in mind and mouth. Harry joined her not long later, his arms slipping around her waist and drawing her close to him, tight to his chest. Ginny inhaled deeply the warm scent of him, of broom polish and the woody body wash he used and the faint remnants of her own conditioner. The fact that he smelled a bit like herself was comforting to her. It reminded her that he was hers.
She fell asleep thinking of this. Her dreams were dark and muddled that night, and she could make no sense of them when she awoke the next morning, and with every passing second the memories faded further. It was Sunday, which meant they didn’t have training with Tonks, so Ginny simply went back to bed after relieving herself and curled up under the blankets with Harry. He hadn’t awoken when she had, but he shifted when she rejoined him, draping an arm over her waist and pushing his nose into her hair. She fell asleep again, her breathing falling in time with his.
Sunday afternoon held the tryouts for Gryffindor’s Keeper. As Oliver Wood had graduated two years previous, and the year before there had been no Quidditch, Gryffindor was short a Keeper. Harry was required to attend, so Ginny went with him, as did Ron and Hermione. When they arrived at the pitch, Ron quickly disappeared while Hermione and Ginny found seats. Harry went off to the changing rooms to dress in his gear, and found Ron there as well.
Ginny, Ron’s trying out for Keeper, Harry thought to her.
Oh, is he? Ginny replied, only half paying attention. She was scanning the pitch to see who was out there already. Good for him.
He looks white as a sheet.
If it looks like he’s going to throw up, there’s a spell — Ginny began to think quickly, remembering her brother’s tendency for nausea in nervous situations when he was younger.
I don’t think he’s going to throw up, Gin.
Harry sighed and Ginny shrugged, then settled back in her seat, her head falling onto Hermione’s shoulder. “Ron’s trying out for Keeper,” she said to her friend.
“Is that where he ran off to?” Hermione said, but she sounded unconcerned.
“You already knew, didn’t you?”
“He told me last week.”
Ginny huffed. “So he tells his girlfriend and not his twin? Little twat.”
Hermione flushed red. “We’re not officially dating, Ginny,” she mumbled.
Ginny waved a hand dismissively. “You know as well as I do that Ron is mad for you. It’s just a matter of time now.”
Hermione did not reply to Ginny’s statement, rather she leaned forward and pointed to the exit from the changing rooms onto the pitch. “Look, there he is, and Harry.”
Ginny lifted her head and waved to her brother and her husband — thinking of Harry with that word still made her feel slightly giddy —, giving them the thumb’s up. “Want me to tell Harry to tell Ron good luck from you, Hermione?” she asked.
“Oh, yes, and that he’s going to do great!” her friend said quickly.
Harry, tell Ron good luck from me and Hermione, Ginny thought. Hermione also says that Ron is going to do great.
Ginny saw Harry turn to Ron, and heard across her mind as he relayed the message. She could see even from the top of the stands that Ron had blushed; he turned and waved at them, grinning broadly.
Ron says thanks, Harry thought.
“He said thanks,” Ginny told Hermione.
“He’s welcome,” Hermione said, still looking down at the pitch.
Hermione says he’s welcome.
She felt Harry roll his eyes but he told Ron what Hermione had said. Ron waved one more time and started off to join the group of potential Keepers. Harry started off after him, but moved towards the rest of the team rather than the Keepers.
The tryouts lasted nearly four hours. Two hours in, Harry flew up to the stands and took a seat with Ginny and Hermione, and fortunately Angelina did not notice his absence for another half hour. When she did, she flew to their seats and berated Harry for another five minutes, then sent him back into the air. Harry gave Ginny a quick kiss on the cheek before taking off again, and Angelina huffed irritatedly as he did.
“The two of you are too disgustingly sweet,” Angelina grumbled to Ginny. “Otherwise I might have let him stay put.”
Ginny giggled and repeated what she said to Harry, who laughed on the other side of the pitch.
Ron was one of the last people to have his tryout. He saved all but one of the ten goals, and two of them he nearly missed. As he flew back to the ground, Ginny was getting worried about his prospects. He certainly had done better than quite a few other people, but there were two or three that seemed to have performed better than he had. She listened in on Harry’s talking with Angelina, and discovered that at least one of those who had done better than Ron was an absolute prick and not worth the frustration according to Fred, so Angelina wasn’t even bothering considering him. Another of the better Keepers had said to Angelina that Quidditch would end up low on her priorities list, which the Captain later mentioned to Harry meant her value as a player had gone down.
As the last candidate finished their tryout, Angelina blew her whistle, bringing hush over the pitch.
“I’m going to discuss with the team what they thought, and we’ll have the decision in just a moment,” she called. “Wait on the ground until it’s time to leave.”
Ginny closed her eyes and looked through Harry’s eyes, listened through his ears. Angelina was flying over to him, the Quaffle tucked under her left arm, followed by Katie Bell and Alicia Spinnet. Fred and George were already hovering near Harry, having put the Bludgers away just a moment before.
“I want to know what you thought about the performance by these guys, less about how many saves they managed and more about how they acted and responded to their own performance,” Angelina said. “Definitely the best was Amanda Smiths, but she flat out told me that she’d put her other clubs and activities over Quidditch, and I’m not interested in someone who’s going to skip out on practice all the time.”
“That Fletcher bloke called me a bitch when I scored on him,” Alicia spoke first.
“I know, I heard him,” Angelina said with a sigh. “He seemed pretty good, but I don’t want to fight with my players.”
“Ron did well, and he’d get along with the rest of us fairly well,” Harry piped up.
“I realize that,” Angelina answered him. “But he nearly missed quite a few.”
“Better than most of the others though,” George commented. “I’d say he’s in the top five at the least.”
“I agree,” Katie said, looking over at Angelina.
“How’s it going?” Hermione hissed in Ginny’s ear, and her concentration slipped, her mind returning to her own senses.
“Ron’s in the top five,” Ginny said. “And two of the other top five are out because of their behavior and other commitments.”
“So he’s in the top three candidates, then?” Hermione asked.
“Looks like,” Ginny murmured. “Now, hush so I can listen.”
Hermione fell silent, and Ginny gathered her thoughts again, shifting back to Harry’s mind. It took a moment for the words he was hearing to clear up, sounding at first very distant and warped, but soon she was listening in and watching the discussions again.
“I think that third year, Bennet, is worth discussing before we move on,” Alicia was saying.
“He’s so little though, he barely could cover one goal, let alone three,” Katie argued.
“Yeah, but he caught almost all ten shots,” Alicia countered. “He only missed those three because of his broom being so slow.”
“Because it was a kid’s broom,” Angelina said. “I’d say he might be good for a reserve Seeker or even Chaser, but not as starting Keeper.”
“And Williams?” Fred asked. “She did almost as good as Smiths or Fletcher.”
“No, she missed an easy save,” Katie said.
“And she failed to dodge the Bludger,” Angelina pointed out.
“I thought that was Bennet,” Fred muttered.
“Ron is looking like the best for the job, right?” Harry asked.
Angelina gave a nod. “He was pretty good, and I like knowing for a fact that he’ll get along with us fine, but I’m worried about how often he nearly missed the Quaffle. It seemed like he was extremely nervous, all through his trial.”
“He’d get over it,” Fred said with a wave of his hand. “It’s probably because his girlfriend is watching.”
Angelina shook her head. “I don’t like the idea of having a very good Keeper reduced to half-decency because of a problem with nerves,” she said.
“But he’s the only one who did well and didn’t act like a complete git,” Alicia said.
“There is that,” Angelina sighed. She checked her watch, then glanced over her shoulder at the potential Keepers grouped on the ground. “Alright. It’s down to Ron and Anna Williams. Which of them performed better overall?”
“Ron,” Harry said at once.
“Ron,” Alicia agreed.
“I’d have to say Williams, but only by a hair,” Katie said.
“I’m with Katie,” George sighed. “I’d love to have my little brother on the team, but the team needs someone who can handle the stress.”
“Ron can handle the stress,” Harry argued. “Give it time, he’ll be as good as Wood and just as confident.”
“Fred?” Angelina said. “What do you think?”
Ginny waited, she and Harry’s minds equally silent with baited breath as Fred thought over his answer. After a pause that was too long for comfort, Fred looked up to meet Angelina’s gaze.
“It’s your call,” he said. “But I think Ron would be better in the long run.”
Angelina gave a nod. “That’s it decided then,” she said. Then, without saying anything else, the Gryffindor Captain pulled her broom around and shot towards the group of Keepers. Ginny opened her eyes, using her own senses again, and watched her move towards the Keepers.
She blew her whistle once more, and all the Keepers snapped to attention.
“You all did very well, and the decision was definitely tough,” Angelina called. “But the team and I agree on the best for the job. The reserve Keeper will be Anna Williams, and the new starting Keeper is Ron Weasley.”
Ginny and Hermione jumped up in their seats and cheered; others in the stands did as well, the team clapped and George gave a whoop, Ginny could see Ron looking gleeful and bashful at the same time. Angelina blew her whistle once more, and the stands and team quieted.
“Weasley, Williams, head up here. The rest of you can head on to dinner,” Angelina said. “Make sure you stick around for dessert and get yourself something good, because you deserve it. Have a good evening!”
The rejected candidates filed out of the pitch, some with stooped shoulders, some with what looked like anger, but plenty looking pleased with their own performance even they were if a little disappointed. Ron and Anna Williams, a thin girl with pale brown hair cut close to her head, mounted their brooms and kicked off the ground.
Is there anything left to do? Ginny thought.
Probably just a quick introduction, Harry thought. Fred and George won’t let Angelina run on too long, I can hear George’s stomach growling from here.
Ginny smiled softly. I can hear your stomach growling from here, mister. Leave George alone.
Harry spun his broom around and stuck his tongue out at her. She laughed and waved a hand with a sweet smile.
She and Hermione waited for the team to finish up, while the rest of the onlookers in the stands started to leave, all but a few boys and a girl sitting several rows away from the two of them. As she and Hermione were waiting on Ron and Harry, Ginny guessed that they were waiting for Williams. Ginny half listened to Hermione talk over how she had been both sure Ron would get starting Keeper and terrified that he wouldn’t while she half eavesdropped on the players still in the air.
“… we’ll bring you out for practices on occasion, Williams, but you can expect that to be only once or twice a month. I’ll have to fill up the rest of the reserve ranks before that, however,” Angelina was saying.
“That’s fine with me,” Williams said.
“I’ll have another tryout for that in two weeks,” Angelina said. “The Ravenclaw and Slytherin team are doing their tryout’s next weekend, so we’ll have to wait until the weekend after.”
“Angelina, how long are we going to sit here listening to you ramble?” George asked the Captain in a whine. “I’m starving.”
“You’ll sit there and listen to me ramble until I tell you that I’m done rambling,” Angelina said, waving a scolding finger at him. “And while you’re listening, you can stuff it.”
George gave an exaggerated groan. “But I’m so hungry,” he moaned, leaning back on his broom and clutching his stomach.
“I said stuff it, George,” Angelina said.
“Hmph,” George said. Angelina faked throwing the Quaffle at him, and he ducked instinctively. She gave a satisfied nod and tucked the ball back under her arm.
“Ron, the next practice is this Wednesday night,” Angelina went on. “I’d like you to come early to practices to do laps of the pitch, say twenty minutes or so early. Williams, if you’d like to do the same, all the better. You can always stay and watch when you’ve finished.”
Ron and Williams nodded. Angelina looked around the group.
“Alright, that’s all for now,” she said. “So your whining was all for nothing, George.”
“I’d like to think it made you wrap up sooner,” said George with a smirk. Angelina rolled her eyes at him and started towards the ground. “Get changed and get to dinner, make sure you eat a good amount, drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep; all that shit. Get out of here now.”
The team headed for the changing rooms, and Ginny, Hermione, and the other people who had been waiting for Williams finally left the stands. Ginny crossed the pitch, heading for the changing rooms, and after a moment’s hesitation Hermione followed. The others did as well, however when they reached the changing rooms, the boys remained outside while the girl went into the girls’ changing rooms.
Can I come in or are there naked boys in there? Ginny thought.
No one was naked to begin with, though Ron is currently shirtless, Harry thought.
I’ll risk it, Ginny replied. Besides, Hermione’s reaction should be amusing.
Would she even come in? Harry asked.
“The coast is clear,” Ginny said to Hermione, rather than answering Harry. “You coming?”
“Uh, well, are we allowed in there?” Ginny asked.
“Seeing as the only boy in there that is not my brother is my husband, I am,” Ginny said. “And seeing as there is no one out here to stop you, I’d say you are as well.”
Hermione shrugged as Ginny pushed open the door and went inside.
“Warning, warning, cover your junk,” Ginny called, more as a joke than an actual warning. They rounded the corner and moved into the locker room.
“Hi, Ginny,” called George and Fred together.
“Do you have any boundaries?” Ron asked her, bent double as he toweled his hair. Ginny walked over to him and grabbed the clearly visible waistband of his underwear, then yanked upward.
“Nope,” she answered as Ron yelped and jumped away from her. Ginny walked over to where Harry was sitting, tying his trainers, as Hermione giggled and Ron turned beet red at the sight of her. Ginny plopped down beside her husband and kissed his cheek, then wrapped her arms around his waist and leaned on his bent shoulders.
“Hi, love,” Harry said, giving her a smile.
“Ew! Ew eww ewww!” Fred called. “No PDA!”
“Oh, shut it,” Harry said. Then he sat up and, turning to face her, planted a kiss on Ginny’s lips. Fred broke out in invigorated peals of “EW!” and Ginny smiled.
“Harry, your wife is mean,” Ron whined.
“I don’t care,” Harry answered him.
“She gave me a wedgie!”
“I still don’t care,” Harry said, looking over at him. Ron scowled, then yanked a shirt over his head. Hermione looked vaguely disappointed.
“When did you get permission to come in here anyway?” Ron asked Ginny.
“I don’t see you asking Hermione that,” Ginny evaded the question. Ron blushed again, as did Hermione, while Fred and George laughed.
“Never mind,” Ron muttered to himself. Ginny rolled her eyes at him.
When they left the changing rooms, the group of boys that had been waiting for Williams had left, and Angelina, Alicia, and Katie were just leaving the girls’ locker room.
“Good job today, Ron,” Katie called.
“Yeah, you did great!” Alicia said.
“You know, non-team members aren’t actually allowed in the changing rooms,” Angelina said with a smirk.
Ginny shrugged. “I’ll tryout for Reserve Chaser, then.”
“You do that,” Angelina nodded. “That way we can have a team full of Weasleys.”
“Actually, she’s a Potter now,” Harry corrected.
“My bad,” Angelina shrugged. “A team of Weasleys and Potters.”
“Wouldn’t you three have to end up Weasleys or Potters for that to happen?” Ron asked.
“Maybe, are you proposing?” Katie said cheekily.
“I might be,” Fred said as Ron flushed again. It seemed to be Ron’s day for blushing. “Would you say yes?”
“Sure,” Katie said with a roll of her eyes. “As long as you buy me something nice.”
“What qualifies as nice?” Fred asked her.
“Why don’t you ask Harry, he’s been married,” Katie said with a shrug.
“What does she mean by nice, Harry?” Fred asked.
“I have absolutely no clue,” Harry said with a sigh. “My marriage was fairly weird.”
“Hey!” Ginny protested. “We haven’t even had the wedding ceremony yet!”
“Was that why I wasn’t invited?” Angelina asked.
“Yeah, it was,” Harry said. “It’s sometime after Christmas if you’d like to come.”
“Of course I want to come,” Angelina said. “You two will come as well, right?” she added to Alicia and Katie.
“Definitely,” Alicia said.
“Yeah, someone has to shower you in condoms, and I’m fairly certain these boys won’t, seeing as it’s their sister you’re marrying,” Katie pointed out.
Ginny laughed as Harry blushed.
As they entered the Great Hall for dinner, Ginny began looking around for Luna. She wanted to ask her about the night before, what spell she had used to make such a lasting flash of light. She also wanted to ask her why she had done it, but as she scanned the hall, her dirty blond hair and radish earrings were absent. Her shoulders sank and she guessed that her friend was stuck in a detention.
Sunday finished with a game of Exploding Snap in the common room, which resulted in a disgruntled Harry losing to Ron and Hermione’s eyebrows being singed. Slightly. They went to bed content with themselves, and trying to ignore the thought of the next day’s work.
Monday morning, as per usual, Tonks Floo called them to wake them up bright and early at 5 a.m. They spent an hour exercising, and another hour mock dueling Tonks and Remus. After more than a month of continuous and belligerent exercising, Ginny found herself out of breath less often and faster than ever; though she was always just a sore after they’d finished. The both of them were benefitting greatly from the training Tonks was putting them through, and Ginny could tell that Harry in particular was shaping up nicely.
Tuesday was back to back boredom; a double period of History first thing, then Divination for Harry and Ron and Arithmency for Ginny and Hermione in which a review of algebra nearly put Ginny and Harry to sleep, followed by lunch where all there was were sandwich materials, and double Potions where Snape told them to quit talking and work numerous times even though all they’d been doing was asking Hermione what the instructions on the board meant, as they were quite helpfully extremely vague. By the end of the lesson, the surly professor had fined them twenty points for talking and another fifteen for the state of Harry’s potion, which was the exact same as Ginny’s and nearly as good as Hermione’s. It seemed that the quietness that had plagued Snape the spring before following the death of his mother had ceased, leaving the Potions Master almost as harsh and critical as he had been before.
As the afternoon ended and evening approached, Harry and Ginny prepared for their next lesson with Dumbledore. They spent nearly an hour in their room, envisioning their little house atop an asteroid guarded by dragons and robots, then taking turns trying to breach the house to get to the memories inside. It didn’t work, however, as each time one of them attempted to be offensive in accessing the other’s thoughts, the barriers they put up immediately retreated.
“Maybe we just can’t block each other’s thoughts except through the door,” Ginny suggested as they left their room at quarter to eight for Dumbledore’s office.
“Maybe,” Harry murmured. “But the door is getting weaker and weaker each time we use it.”
Ginny shrugged. “We’ve always been able to close it after it opens back up.”
“Yeah, I know, but I’m worried…”
Ginny slowed her steps, looking up at Harry’s furrowed brow and downturned mouth. “That it will stop closing altogether?”
He gave a nod. “Yeah. And if that happens, we won’t be able to keep any semblance of privacy.”
Ginny squeezed his hand. “I’m sure it will be fine. If it does start to refuse to close, it probably won’t happen for a while. And I’m sure that eventually we won’t even care anymore.”
He gave a nod. “Yeah, I know.”
Especially after Christmas, Ginny thought.
Our wedding, he replied. He squeezed her hand back before letting out a sigh. Maybe you’re right.
“Of course I’m right,” she scoffed. “Have you ever known me to be wrong?”
“In interest of staying on your good side, I’m going to lie and say no.”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Git.”
“Hag,” Harry replied, smiling now.
Ginny shoved at his shoulder lightly, a smile growing on her own face. “Prick,” she said.
“Nagging wife,” Harry shot back, his grin negating his words.
“Lazy husband,” she said, though this was more than a little true.
“Hey, I do stuff for you,” he protested.
“Like what?” she asked haughtily.
Harry leaned closer to her, then whispered with a smirk close to her ear: “Among other things, I give you the good kind of shivers.”
They reached Dumbledore’s office just a minute or two before eight, and knocked with the brass eagle on the great oak doors twice, just as a clock inside chimed eight.
“Enter,” called the Headmaster. They did, and took the proffered seats by the professor’s desk.
“I trust you have been practicing as best you can since our last meeting,” Dumbledore said with an incline of his head and a soft, fond smile.
“Yes,” Harry answered.
“Very good,” replied Dumbledore. “Then we shall jump right back in. I will give you a moment to prepare, then attempt to breach your defenses, without warning this time.”
So went their lesson. By the end, Dumbledore was pleased with their progress and they’d managed to thwart him more than twice each. The clock showed ten ‘til nine, and Dumbledore finally announced their completion of the evening’s practice.
“Before you leave,” the Headmaster said as they were rising from their chairs, “let me give you a quick summary of what we will be doing next week.”
Ginny glanced at Harry, then sat back in the chair. It will probably take more than a few minutes.
Probably, Harry thought back as he resumed his seat.
“Next week, we shall be joined by your friend Abraham Vance,” Dumbledore said.
Ginny sat up straighter. “To discuss the book he was using?”
“Partly, yes, but primarily to discuss Voldemort’s pseudo immortality. He will be bringing his wife, Vanessa.”
“The Order found her?” Harry asked.
“Yes,” Dumbledore said with a nod. “In a small village in Norway, with Philip and Aurora Sinestra.”
Harry’s fingers clenched on the arm of his chair. Ginny reached over and laid her hand over his, gently caressing his knuckles with her thumb.
“The Order found them just a few days ago; Philip and Aurora were turned over to the Ministry, and their trial was held today. I expect the Prophet will run an article on the results in tomorrow’s paper,” the Headmaster said. “It turns out that the initial reason that Abraham and his wife were kidnapped was not to translate the Black Book, but because of Mrs. Vance’s skill in voodoo.”
“Voodoo?” Harry said, his eyebrows drawing together. “Like puppet dolls and zombies?”
“Yes,” Dumbledore answered. “There is a lot of magic in the voodoo arts that was inspired by the ancient magicians, many of which regularly practiced necromancy and considered it a gray magic rather than a black.”
“How could necromancy be anything but black?” Harry burst out.
Dumbledore tilted his head backwards, his eyebrows lifting slightly and his glasses flashing as they reflected the light of the candles and torches around them. “This is a very good question, Harry. I believe that the thought was that the dead are good helpers, as they have no mind of their own to perform against the will of their master. If a servant was unable to betray its master or refuse to work, then it would be the ultimate slave, would it not? At least, this is how I’ve attempted to see it the way the old magicians did.”
“But they couldn’t think for themselves, they were stupid, literally,” Ginny said.
“Yes, but I assume that the enchanted dead were capable of performing small tasks, leaving the complex and more difficult ones for their master.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Harry mumbled. “But it’s still a black magic now, right?”
“The art of necromancy was declared a black magic in 1864, by the International Confederation of Wizards,” Dumbledore replied. “During the Muggles of the United States’ Civil War, there were numerous wizards who chose to fight alongside the North or South, and quite a few used necromancy to bring back fallen soldiers to fight as well. Of course, seeing their fallen friends up and moving and fighting again terrified the Muggles, which quickly lead to the Magical Congress of the United States banning it themselves, prompting the ICW to officially declare it a black magic.”
Harry gave a nod. “The dead should stay dead,” he mumbled. Ginny squeezed his hand quickly.
Dumbledore slowly nodded his own head, his gaze fixed on Harry with an expression that was unreadable. “A wise insight, Harry. The dead should, indeed, remain dead.”
There was silence for a moment, broken only when Fawkes let out a soft trill, and Dumbledore glanced at his clock.
“It is nearly nine o’clock, so I shall let you return to your rooms,” the Headmaster said. “I will see you again next week. Please continue to practice what you can in the meantime.”
“Yes, Professor,” Harry said, rising from his chair once again. “Have a good night, sir.”
Ginny gave Dumbledore a wave as they left the office, her hand held firmly in Harry’s.
They didn’t speak on their way back to Gryffindor Tower. They met no one, except for Mrs. Norris, but that was right outside the portrait hole so as she whisked off to fetch Filch, they were unconcerned. They entered the common room, which was still half full of students, studying and laughing and discussing amongst themselves, and parted at the stairs to climb up to their private quarters. They readied for bed, and fell asleep just as the clock on their mantle struck ten.
The fire was burning down to its embers. This was the only source of light in the room, casting long shadows over the room with its tables laden with flasks and crystals and herbs. A gold cauldron sat over a dead fire, its dull blue contents shimmering slightly in the light coming from the dying hearth. Laying on the hearth rug, curled and coiled almost like a dog, slept a massive python.
A single armchair sat before the fire, in which sat the only man in the room. Though this man could barely be called a man, he could barely be called a human. It had been a very long time since ‘human’ was an adjective that could be used to describe this man.
The man spoke, but not in English or any tongue a normal man would understand. However, the python laying at his feet could, and she stirred, her head rising and casting a curious shadow over the man’s lap.
“It won’t be long now, Nagini,” hissed the man. “Not long at all. I’ve waited years to return to power. Now my chance is looming.”
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