Beta Love: glittergrrrl05

A/N: Thank you for all the positive feedback! It means more than you can possibly know.

As always, Harry Potter and the Harry Potter universe are the property of JKR and her assigns. I make no money from this story.


Ch. 5

Oct. 1981

Flourish and Blotts

"Don't turn around."

Sirius stiffened as he heard the familiar voice behind him. The stacks at Flourish and Blotts were hardly where he expected to hear from his brother again.

"He's going after you and the Potters, Sirius. You've been too public in your disdain. You need to run. Run as fast and as far as you can."

"When?"

"I think Halloween," Regulus hissed.

"I can't leave."

"Then at least send Mary and Catriona away; save them if you won't save yourself."

"Why are you telling me this? Feeling guilty about the shit you've done? I've heard what you did to that Muggle-born couple. I don't even know who you are anymore."

"I'm doing it for you and your daughter. I'm begging you; he's going to come for you and your family. You have to leave. Please."

"And I'm telling you that I can't leave."

"I'm going to try to stop him but I don't think I'll succeed. I need to know you'll be safe when I'm gone," Regulus returned.

"Don't go haring off on a suicide mission, Reggie. We'll figure this out together."

"You can't help me anymore, Sirius. Please, save your family if you want to honor me."

Sirius whirled around to grab his brother, but he was too late. Regulus had disapparated.

"You can't be serious." James was flabbergasted. "Peter's our secret-keeper. You won't give us away, Sirius. But if Regulus is right, then you need to hide your family."

"James, it won't do any good; he'll just track us down. I don't have the resources I once had to hide them."

The solemn conversation was interrupted by the toddlers in the lounge, shrieking with laughter. Even as babies, those two seemed to have a preternatural connection to one another. Harry and Catriona were never so happy as they were when they were together.

Mary and Lily looked up as James and Sirius entered the room. Mary spoke up first. "I have a plan." And that plan was so audacious, so crazy, Sirius allowed himself to hope that it would work.


September 1998

Counseling Classroom

Hogwarts

All twelve eighth-year students reluctantly filed into the classroom for their first weekly group therapy session. There were desks arranged in rows, but also an artfully arranged circle of floor pillows that were reminiscent of the Divinations Tower. Mercifully absent was the smell of incense, but the smell of roses permeated the air. Harry and Hermione sat down on the right with Neville in front of them. As the rest of group moved in, only the empty seat beside Neville remained when Daphne arrived.

After a few minutes, the door opened and an impossibly beautiful witch walked in. Tall, svelte, with curves apparent even under her black robes, the instructor glided to the front and turned to face the class.

"Good afternoon." Her husky voice had all the wizards sitting at attention. "My name is Zoe Trallop, and I hope that we will all be good friends."

Hermione suppressed a snort. Good friends. Ha! And Trallop? What kind of name is that? Sounds like Trollop.

Neville, whose arm had been draped casually across the back of Daphne's chair, pulled his arm to the front and clasped his hands on his desk. Daphne turned and exchanged a meaningful glance with Hermione. If Hermione was reading her correctly, Daphne wasn't happy either.

"Today is merely a getting to know one another session. I will begin." She smiled a perfect smile, showcasing straight white teeth and red lips. "I graduated from Beauxbatons Institute several years ago and lived in France until just last month. However, I am English. My mother was French and married an Englishman, but she wished me to attend her alma mater. So, I do not have any preconceived notions about your Houses or characteristics of such." Her gaze lingered on various students around the room, especially Harry and Hermione.

Hermione clenched her jaw in annoyance. She leaned over and whispered in Harry's ear. "Can you imagine Ron in here? It'd be like Fleur all over again."

Harry looked at her and grinned at the private joke. But when his warm gaze returned to Professor Trallop, it cooled immediately, and he leaned back, draping his arm around Hermione's chair protectively.

Hermione smirked in her direction. Take that, Trollop. She didn't consider why she was so annoyed by the new professor; it wasn't like Trallop had actually done anything wrong.

"So, let's all move from these uncomfortable desks and arrange ourselves on the floor pillows." They all obediently settled themselves on the pillows and waiting for further instruction. "Well, now that we're comfortable, let's have a lovely chat. Who would like to start?" She looked around encouragingly.

"Oh! I will." Pansy piped up.

"Wonderful. Tell me a bit about yourself," the professor encouraged.

"Well, I'm Pansy Parkinson, of the the Wiltshire Parkinsons. My third great-grandfather was Perseus Parkinson, the Minister for Magic back in the 1700s, and we're all Purebloods. My mother went to Beauxbatons, just like you!" Pansy's voice came out in a breathless rush. "Isn't that a coincidence? And let's see, I'm in Slytherin, but we all live together in the Eighth Tower."

Harry leaned over and whispered to Hermione, "too bad she's a traitorous bitch."

Hermione smirked. Clearly, Harry wasn't over Pansy's attempt to turn him over to Voldemort prematurely during the Battle of Hogwarts.

Professor Trallop turned her gaze to Justin Finch-Fletchley, seated beside Pansy.

"Uhh, my name is, uh, Justin Fi-Finch-Fletchley." The normally confident wizard looked a bit starstruck as he stared at their new professor.

Harry coughed behind his hand while Hermione rolled her eyes, disgusted.

"I'm in Hufflepuff, and, err, I didn't attend last year because of He-Who," Justin caught himself, "Voldemort. I didn't attend last year because of Voldemort, but I was in Dumbledore's Army in fifth year." He seemed to gain confidence with that and nodded definitively, never taking his eyes off Professor Trallop.

"Oh, you must be very brave, Mr. Finch-Fletchley."

Flags rose on Justin's cheeks under the Professor's flattery. "Well, uhh, I don't know about that. But, I, uh, I just try to do what needs to be done. I'm no Harry Potter."

Harry snorted. Way to throw me under the Knight Bus, arsehole.

"I'm sure that's not true. How do you feel about that, Mr. Potter?"

"How am I supposed to feel about that, Professor?" Harry tried to keep the sarcasm of his voice, but Hermione could hear the anger underneath. The rest of the group wasn't nearly as cooperative as Pansy and Justin; Harry's reticence was contagious.

After the painful introductions were finally complete, the professor lit a pearlized pink candle on the table in the center and said, "Now, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to go in turn and have each of you tell me what you smell in this candle. Go ahead, lean forward and take a good sniff."

Hermione thought she recognized that color and sheen and had a nasty suspicion the candle was laced with something. She leaned over and smelled. Sandalwood, leather, sunshine and what was that last note? Ahh, broom polish. It smelled like – Harry. Oh, I know exactly what this is.

"Now, everyone's had a turn. Who'd like to go first?" Professor Trallop looked around for volunteers.

Hermione set her jaw mutinously and looked around the room for any sign that her classmates realized what was going on.

"Harry, I can call you Harry, yes? What did you smell?"

Hermione's stomach dropped; she didn't want to know. What if he smelled broom polish or the Burrow?

Harry glanced over at Hermione. "Err, ahh…well – I "

"Professor, how is it helpful to have us smell an Amortentia candle?" Hermione interrupted. Her comment was greeted with a gasp from the other side of the circle, and a sigh of relief from Harry beside her.

"Why would you think that it is an Amortentia candle, Hermione?"

"Professor, really. We're eighth year students. Several of us are taking Advanced Potions; of course we recognize the color, the sheen, and the effects of an Amortentia candle." Hermione glanced around the room for confirmation. It was clear that if they hadn't before, they certainly understood now. Hannah looked a bit ill, and Daphne was ghostly white. Draco and Blaise wore their Slytherin smirks, but Harry and Neville nodded in agreement. "At any rate, I'm not telling you what I smell."

Trallop's laughter trilled. "Of course. Very clever. And you are the brightest witch of your age, aren't you? Should I take that to mean that you smelled something that would make you uncomfortable to discuss?"

Hermione just crossed her arms on her chest and stared.

Harry recognized the set of her jaw. Professor Trallop would get nothing further out of Hermione today, if ever. "Ah, Professor, perhaps if we understood why you felt this was necessary…." His voice trailed off, trying to lead her to answer him.

"Well, Harry, as I said, this was a getting to know one another exercise. I thought this would be helpful." She looked around the room at the set jaws and guarded expressions. "But I can see that you're not quite ready for that level of getting to know one another. Class dismissed."


That Night

Room #4

Eighth Tower

"Hermione, can I ask you a question?"

"Of course."

"Who do you think of when you think about freshly tilled earth, pine trees, and just a hint of water in a tin can?" Daphne paused and thought about her next words. "And maybe wool, like a sweater?"

"Neville," Hermione responded without thinking. "Wait, is that what you smelled from the Amortentia candle?"

Daphne nodded mutely.

"He's really a nice guy, Daph. You should talk to him."

"I'm sure he wouldn't want to talk to me." Daphne caught her bottom lip in her teeth.

"Why not?" Hermione was startled that her normally confident roommate seemed so vulnerable.

"Well, Slytherin and all that."

"I told you, Neville doesn't care about that. If he likes you, he likes you; your House won't matter." Hermione tried to reassure her.

Desperate to take the focus off her quandary, Daphne blurted ,"What did you smell? Do you know who it was?"

Hermione hesitated. She liked Daphne, but she wasn't quite sure that she could trust her yet.

"Come on, Hermione…tell me." Daphne came over to Hermione's bed and sat down next to her. "I swear I'll keep it a secret."

I can't tell Harry, and Ron wouldn't understand. But I need to get this out. "Swear you won't tell?" Hermione relented.

"I swear on my powers I won't repeat or use this information against you," Daphne replied dutifully.

"Sandalwood, leather, sunshine, and broom polish," Hermione whispered.

"Who is it? I'd say Draco, but he smells more like cedar to me." Daphne mused. "But broom polish and leather – that's a Quidditch player."

"It's Harry," Hermione whispered almost inaudibly.

"So it could be any - wait, what was that?" Daphne had continued on and almost missed what Hermione said.

"Harry. It's Harry." Hermione stated more definitively.

"I knew it! I knew there was something between you two," Daphne crowed.

"But there's not; he's like a brother to me," Hermione insisted.

Daphne was skeptical. "Really?"

"No, we've nev…." Hermione stopped. "We kissed. Once." Daphne raised her eyebrows, and Hermione rolled her eyes. "Twice."

"That doesn't sound brotherly to me." Daphne pressed.

"I'm sure he doesn't think of me that way."

"You're sure? Has he said that?"

"Well, no," Hermione admitted.

"And who initiated the kisses?"

"It's complicated."

"How is it complicated? Either you did or he did. It's pretty simple, Hermione."

Hermione sighed. "Last winter, Ron had left us; Harry and I danced to a song on the radio, and we kissed. I guess he initiated it. But he apologized. And we decided to not complicate our lives by trying to build something else than our friendship. And then a last week, we were on our way to meet Molly and Sirius in Hogsmeade and he kissed me. But it was more like a peck, not a proper snog."

"What do you mean? About last week?"

"He was holding my waist and kissed me. It wasn't long and drawn out though, but it was a kiss."

Daphne sent her a knowing look. "It doesn't sound like he thinks about you as a sister to me, Hermione."

"He hasn't said anything!"

"He kissed you, Hermione. I might be a virgin, but I'm pretty sure that's a sign he's interested."


Friday Night

Eighth Tower

Hogwarts

Like they had arranged, Draco and Harry herded their male classmates back to the Eighth Tower after supper and took seats around the fireplace. The six of them sat comfortably talking about Quidditch and drinking Firewhiskey when Hermione and Daphne entered, leading a gaggle of girls including Ginny and Luna. Pansy and Susan had both left for the weekend, but since either Hannah or Padma was the most likely suspect for the mole, Draco and Harry decided to go forward with the plan.

"Ladies, come join us!" Terry called out from beside the fireplace.

"What are you drinking?" Ginny narrowed her eyes.

"This is the Eighths Tower, Head Girl…don't feel like you need to deduct House points," Blaise chided her from his chair. He patted the seat on the two-seater beside him. "Take a pew, and I'll share my…butterbeer with you."

"You're too charming for your own good, Zabini." Ginny made a show of walking slowly towards the proffered seat. Luna followed right behind her and sat next to Ginny on the two-seater.

Padma settled beside Ernie and Terry moved to sit on his ottoman so Hannah could sit in his chair, and Harry did the same for Hermione. Daphne paused almost imperceptibly when she saw the only place for her to sit was beside Neville. Hermione permitted herself a small smile as Daphne arranged her robes carefully on her cushion.

"Dobby!" Harry called out for the valiant house elf who followed him everywhere.

With a crack, he appeared. "Master Harry called Dobby?"

"Dobby, would you mind bringing us something to drink?" Harry's voice was gentle and polite.

Bowing and tugging at his ears, Dobby responded. "Of course, Master Harry. What you would like?"

"Butterbeer okay?" Harry asked, looking around the room. Seeing the nods, he turned back to Dobby. "Just some butterbeer with a cooling charm, if it's not too much trouble."

"Dobby is pleased to serve Master Harry and Master Harry's friends." After bowing once again Dobby disappeared with a crack.

"Harry, I can't believe you made him come back here," Hermione scolded.

"Don't tell me, you're still going on about spew," Draco mocked her.

"It's not spew! It's S.P.E.W., and yes, I am! Can't you see – " Hermione's diatribe was interrupted by another crack as Dobby reappeared with a tray of butterbeers.

"Thank you, Dobby. I really appreciate your help." Harry thanked the bowing house elf and took the tray.

"Anything for Master Harry." And Dobby disappeared. Harry handed out one to everyone. He was left with a tray of extra butterbeers that needed a resting spot. He looked about for a place to put it, and his eyes lit on his ottoman.

"Hermione, do me a favor. Bring that stool over here." He gestured towards the center of the circle with his foot, keeping the tray steady in his hands.

"Seriously, Harry, why did he come back here?" Hermione asked as she pushed the oversized footstool towards Harry so he could use it as a make-shift table for the platter.

"Do you think I could have stopped him, Hermione? Seriously stopped him? He insisted on coming to Sirius's house with me, and then when I left to come back here, he didn't ask, he just showed up."

"Isn't it sweet? The bickering married couple?" Blaise's mocking tone sent Hermione and Harry's heads whipping towards him and earned him a punch from Ginny. "Ow!" He rubbed his arm. "I was just taking the piss. No need for violence, Red."

"We're neither dating or married, and you well know it, Blaise." Hermione huffed as she plopped down in the chair she had vacated, crossing both her arms and legs. Harry wisely refrained from comment, but sat down on the floor and leaned against her chair, his long legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the knees.

"What say you, Potter?" Draco joined in the fun. "I think the lady protests too much. Something you two aren't telling us?"

Harry laced his fingers and put them behind his head, looking up at the ceiling and avoiding eye contact with everyone. "What she said."

"Uh huh. Okay, whatever you say, Potter." Draco nodded his head slowly, his silver eyes narrowed on the couple.

"So, how are classes?" Hannah asked brightly in a bid to lighten the air.

Talk turned to the new version of the Slug Club, Flitwick's latest invention, and Weasley's DADA class.

The combination of the warm room and butterbeer relaxed them all. Daphne discarded her shoes, drew her legs up, and tucked her sock-clad feet under Neville's thigh. For his part, Neville draped his arm across the back of the couch, surrounding Daphne with his strength without overwhelming her. Closest to the fireplace, Hermione had also drawn her legs up, but Harry had turned to the side, angling to face most of his classmates, and his left arm rested casually across the bottom of Hermione's legs. Justin was nodding as if he was about to doze off.

Draco, smirk firmly in place, looked over at Blaise. "You know what this night needs? We need a game."

"I think you're right." Blaise agreed. "I vote for Twenty Questions."

"Twenty Questions?" Draco glanced around speculatively. "That could be amusing. And I just happen to have a crystal ball in my room."

Hermione straightened from her comfortable slouch and sent a sideways glance of concern to Harry. For a split second he looked equally ill at ease, but then nodded almost imperceptibly. She relaxed somewhat when his hand flexed on her leg, comforting her.

"What are you going on about now, Malfoy?" Terry sat up from where he relaxed against the arm of Hannah's chair.

"A game, Boot. You know, a little competition played for fun. Didn't you Ravenclaws do that?"

"Yeah, but..." Terry's voice trailed off as he looked around the room, coming to rest on Harry and Hermione.

Draco noted that look and challenged his roommate. "Potter, you in?"

Harry jerked his chin up in acknowledgement of veiled dare. "Sure, Malfoy. Sounds like fun."

"Perfect, then it's settled." Draco got up and headed to their room; when he came back out he had a crystal ball and a vial of potion. He set them on the tray with the butterbeers and looked around the room.

"Alright. Here are the rules. We're playing Twenty Questions, well, there's only twelve of us, so I guess Twelve Questions tonight. Anyway. First and foremost, what you hear in this room, stays in this room. No talking about it outside of this company. And I'm pretty sure someone could come up with an appropriate curse if you do. Isn't that right, Granger?" Draco raised his eyebrows in her direction.

"I don't know, Malfoy. Maybe we should ask Marietta Edgecombe."

"You'll put your question in the crystal ball by holding your wand to it and thinking the question like this." He tapped the crystal ball with his wand and the ball glowed briefly. "That light? It worked. If your question is already taken, then the ball will dim, and you'll need to come up with another question." He glanced at the participants.

"Any questions so far? No? Good." He held up the potion vial. "This is Veritaserum. I'll put a small dose in your butterbeer. But it's not enough to last more than a couple of hours."

"Veritaserum? For a game?" Padma's voice rang with disbelief.

"What's the fun in a game if you don't play it to the fullest, Patil?" Draco flashed a trademark smirk in her direction. "But if it will make you feel better, Potter can put the potion in the butterbeers."

He tossed the vial to Harry to put small amounts in each beverage and hand them out.

"Blaise – you have the Firewhiskey?"

"Drake, you disappoint me. Of course I have Firewhiskey." Blaise drew a full bottle out of a deep pocket in his loosened robes. "Don't worry, folks; it's charmed to refill when it's almost empty."

"Wait, shots of Firewhiskey? I don't…" Hermione started to protest.

"Please, Hermione; it might be fun." Harry nudged her, wheedling her to play.

"Oh, alright," she acquiesced.

"Well, normally, I'd say you take a shot with every question, but since we have so many, ahh, how shall we say, lightweights, we'll just take a shot before we start, and before questions 5, 9, and 12. Blaise, if you'll do the honors."

Blaise handed each of them a small shot of Firewhiskey in conjured glasses. "Bottoms up, ladies and gentlemen." He toasted them all, leading them in taking the drink.

Coughs sounded from around the room. Daphne's splutter prompted Neville to pat her on the back. "You all right there, Daph?"

"Yeah, yeah." Daphne's voice was just little huskier than usual. "I'm fine."

"Blaise, you go ahead with your question," Draco instructed.

"With pleasure, my friend." Blaise pointed his wand at the crystal ball which glowed briefly. His smirk rivaled Draco's.

And when he settled himself into his seat, Ginny couldn't resist asking. "What did you ask?"

Blaise tipped her chin up. "That's for me to know, Red." His eyes dropped to her lips. "But don't you worry, you'll find out."

Everyone quickly began submitting questions, but unfortunately for Justin, it took three tries to get a question to stick.

Draco laughed. "Justin, why don't you go first?"

"What do I do?"

"Just touch the ball with your finger and a question will appear for us all to read." Justin did as he was bid and the first question wrote itself in the air above the center of the room.

Who was your first proper snog?

Justin returned to his seat, and Terry, on his left, took another sip of his butterbeer and mused. "First proper snog? It was Lisa Turpin, third year."

Hannah laughed softly. "Um, Justin. Second year."

Harry was up next. "Fay Dunbar. Third year."

"I didn't know you kissed Fay, Harry." Hermione lightly smacked him on the back of his head.

Harry grinned at her. "I don't kiss and tell, Hermione; you know that."

Hermione nodded. "True. Well, anyway, my first proper snog was Viktor Krum, fourth year."

"Theo Nott, fourth year," Daphne offered.

"Susan Bones." Neville didn't elaborate.

"Pansy Parkinson. Second year." Draco said easily.

"Theodore Nott, I believe his name was." Luna's dreamy voice followed Draco's casual tone.

Draco choked on his butterbeer. "Theo was your first kiss?"

"Well I was looking for the dirigible plums, you see; my shoes had disappeared, then Theo was there and brought them to me. And he seemed like he needed a kiss."

Ginny suppressed a grin at Luna's wandering explanation. "It's no secret. Michael Corner, third year."

"It was one of the Carrow twins. Not sure which one." Blaise looked unrepentant.
"First year."

"Oh that's right – I remember that. Good times." Draco laughed at the aghast expressions from a few of their classmates.

"What? The Carrow twins were fun." Blaise grinned at Ginny's narrowed gaze.

"Kevin Entwhistle." Padma named a fellow Ravenclaw.

"Well, you already know, don't you? It was Hannah." Justin finished the round for them.

Terry touched the ball and above it appeared the next question.

What kind of knickers are you wearing and what color?

Hannah rolled her eyes. "So juvenile. White lace bikini style."

"Boxers." Harry thought for a second. "Some kind of plaid. I think."

"You don't know what kind of pants you have on Potter?"

Harry shot Draco a droll look. "No, Malfoy, but I'm just not so self-absorbed to match them to my trousers." Snickers sounded from behind butterbeers as Draco sent Harry a lazy two finger salute.

Hermione tugged her skirt down over the bottom of her drawn up legs. "This is so embarrassing. Red silk boy shorts."

Harry turned and looked at her with widened eyes before he slowly turned back around, slightly flushed.

"Daphne, you go. Please."

"They're pink. Ouvert style." Daphne tried to brazen it out.

"What the hell is ouvert style, Daphne?" Terry spluttered.

"Oh, look it up. Can we move on? Neville, it's your turn."

Blushing, Neville confessed, "Uhh, Y-fronts. White."

"Green silk boxers, of course." Malfoy didn't hesitate.

"Well, I find lace itchy. So I wear silk too. Mine are boy shorts." Luna turned to the wizard beside her. "We have something in common, Draco. Perhaps you'd like to see?"

Draco choked on his butterbeer.

"Alright there, Malfoy? Something get caught in your throat?"

"Bugger off, Potter." The quiet giggles turned to full-fledged laughs at the exchange.

"I'm wearing a black lace thong." Ginny interrupted the hilarity.

"I don't believe you, Miss Weasley." Blaise leaned over to her. "I need to see to make sure you're telling the truth."

"Oh, hardy har har. You know I'm telling the truth. It's your turn, Zabini."

Blaise gave her a small, promising smile. "I'd be happy to show you my black silk boxers, Red." He reached up and lightly chucked her chin. "Just name the time and place."

Across the room, Hermione and Harry exchanged a speaking glance.

Padma made show of fanning herself. "Is it hot in here? I think it's hot in here. And my knickers are blue bikinis."

"Mine are white y-fronts too." Justin grinned. "Sorry, all the questions I came up with were taken!"

"That's all right, Fletchley. I don't care if everyone knows I'm wearing red and white polka dotted boxers," Terry said around his next drink.

Hannah reached out and touched the ball, and the new question appeared.

What did you smell in the Amortentia candle?

Harry froze and closed his eyes briefly. Fuck.

"Wait." Neville interrupted before Harry could say anything. "No comments on this round. No taking the piss." He looked around and after he got nods, he turned back to Harry. "Sorry, mate. Didn't mean to interrupt."

"No, it's fine. Old books, parchment, sunshine, and a hint of honeysuckle." Harry's glare dared anyone to say anything.

Torn between fascination at Harry's answer and mortification at what she had to say, Hermione looked down at her hands twisting in her lap and forced them to be still. Oh my Godric. There was nothing for it but to brazen it out. "Umm, leather, broom polish, sandalwood, and a sunny day."

Daphne, silently cursing Draco because this was the kind of question he'd ask, answered next. "Freshly tilled earth, pine trees, smell of water that's been in a tin watering can, and wool."

"It was like all the smells of winter, the snow, the pines, all of it, and there was just a hint of citrus." Neville paused. "It was clean, and crisp, and – just gorgeous."

Draco paused to consider his answer. "It was a flower I've never smelled, really exotic, moonlight, a freshly printed newspaper, and beneath that was freshly cut grass."

"I didn't get to smell the amortentia candle. It's a shame, really." Luna looked at Ginny. "Did you get to smell an amortentia candle?"

Ginny shook her head negatively.

"I guess Trollop, I mean, Trallop didn't try to get your year to spill your guts to her the first day?" Hermione asked them.

Ginny giggled. "Did you just call her Trollop? No, we just introduced ourselves to her. Was it the same for the Ravenclaws, Luna?"

"Yes, we just had a chat. I told her she had nargles roaming about her head, but she didn't believe me. I think that's why she was so cranky," Luna responded.

"Well, I smelled cinnamon, broom polish, lavender, and sugar cookies." Blaise looked like he'd rather do anything than say that aloud.

Hermione swallowed a snicker. I know the smell of Ginny Weasley when I hear it described.

Padma looked around. "Leather, tobacco, thyme, and cloves."

Justin considered his answer. "It's kind of hard to describe. It was like flowers and fruit, all mixed together, but with this hint of chocolate. It was beautiful."

"I smelled freesia and clean clothes," Terry said. "I swear. That's all it was. Freesia and clean clothes. Who the hell could that even be?" He sounded a little indignant. "I mean, all of you have these really specific smells, and I get freesia and clean laundry. It's bollocks."

Hannah patted him on the hand. "It'll be okay, Terry. She'll turn up. And her clothes will be clean. If it makes you feel any better, I smelled leather and broom polish too, but green grass and ginger of all things. I have no idea who that is."

Harry cleared his throat. "It's me, then?" At the nods, he leaned forward and touched the crystal ball and waited for their question.

Who have you done the most with?

Hermione's head tilted to the side in thought. "Whose question is this?"

"Mine, why?" Padma asked.

"I'm just wondering – how do you mean 'done the most'?

"How do you think I mean it? I mean, like, sexually." Padma's blush betrayed her embarrassment.

"I just – wanted to make sure, that's all." Hermione paused before she answered. "I'd have to say Viktor Krum."

His back pressed against her chair, Harry rubbed his forehead. There's a mental image I could have done without forever.

"Theo." Daphne named the wizard she had dated for most of third and fourth years.

"Tabitha Churche." Neville's answer prompted a face vault from Draco and Blaise.

"Tabitha Churche? Slytherin, finished a couple of years ago? Hot blonde? Half-blood who rode for the British Olympic Equestrian team in the Muggle Olympics? That Tabitha?" Blaise asked for clarification.

Neville smiled. "I answered the question."

"I wish I could call you a liar, Longbottom." Draco shook his head. "But I can't. Fuck. Sorry, ladies. Fine, there have been several, but I guess you want the first. Girl from Beauxbatons. Adelaide Leclerc. I can't believe you, Longbottom. Tabitha? Do you know how badly – argh! I hate you right now."

"Well, I only kissed Theodore. He seemed like he would be fun to kiss some more. I hope you don't mind, Daphne. It was my fourth year," Luna's dreamy voice sounded. "Draco, you should really try to get rid of the crinkled nargles around your head. I think they're making you jealous." She waved her hand beside his ear, as if brushing off flies. Draco sat, mouth slightly ajar. "But I'm sure you kiss quite as well as Theo did.."

The rest of the room dissolved into laughter.

Ginny, wiping tears from her eyes, answered the question. "Dean Thomas."

Blaise, his shoulders still shaking with mirth, confessed, "Adelaide's older sister, Marie was first."

"It was Kevin, actually. We dated for over a year." Padma took her turn.

"Gayle Pocklington." Justin named a Hufflepuff a year ahead of them.

"Well, I guess it would be Mandy Brocklehurst. We dated for all of fifth and sixth year," Terry explained.

Hannah, on the other hand, didn't elaborate beyond a name. "Roger Davies."

Harry, who at this point was picking at the label of his butterbeer, looked up a bit sheepishly. "Cho Chang, umm, fifth year."

Across the circle, Blaise stood up to pour out the shots for the group. "Bottoms up!"

After a brief bathroom break, Hermione took her turn. The question that hovered sent titters around the room.

Would you rather have sex on a broom in the air or in a broom closet?

"Broom closet." Daphne was definitive.

"I feel like I'm supposed to be all daring and say on a broomstick," Neville's mouth kicked up on one side in a grin, "but I have to admit I think a broom closet."

Draco decided to go for the shock factor. "Well, I think I'd like to give it a shot on a broom. Broom closets get kind of passé after a while."

"I think if you get the crinkled nargles away from you, then sex in the air would be fun too." Luna considered the possibilities. "But if you still have them, then they may upset your balance and the broom closet would be safer."

Biting her bottom lip, Ginny made a valiant effort to suppress her grin. "Ah, well, I'd be willing to try just about anything once. So, maybe in the air?"

"Brave girl. Want to ride my…broom?" Blaise winked at her. "I'm up for either place."

Padma shook her head. "Broom closet, no question."

"Yeah, I'm not quite that brave. I'm going for a broom closet too," Justin said.

Terry jabbed at Justin's arm. "Where's your sense of adventure? I think a broom in the air would be fun."

"I think you've lost your mind, Terry," Hannah piped up. "Broom closet all the way."

"Heh. I'd say – I'd like to try it on the broom." Harry looked off in the distance, nodding, as if calibrating the vectors and distances. "Yeah, I think on the broom in the air."

Hermione interrupted his ruminations with a slap to the back of his head. "Have you lost the plot? Harry Potter, if you did that, I swear to Godric, I won't bother saving you from the fall."

"Aww, don't be like that, 'Mione. You know I wouldn't fall off." Harry tried to cajole her into a better mood, rubbing the back of his head.

"And the unfortunate witch on your lap?" Hermione asked.

"I guess she told you, Potter." Draco grinned in Harry's direction.

Harry responded by sending Draco a two finger salute of his own and looked back at Hermione. "I wouldn't let yo - her fall either."

"Umph. Whatever. Obviously, a broom closet, while unsanitary, is the better choice."

Daphne uncurled from beside Neville on the two-seater couch and touched the crystal ball for the next question. And when it appeared, a collective groan went up from the witches.

Which professor would you not mind spending detention with?

Neville grinned. "Professor Trallop is…." He quickly straightened his expression when he saw the look on Daphne's face. "Yeah, umm, I guess Professor Trallop."

"Trallop is hot, Longbottom. I think I'm with you on this one." Draco agreed.

Luna, as usual, interpreted the question in her own way. "Well, I personally enjoy talking to Professor Trelawney. She has a great deal of insight on the hallucinogenic properties of the dirigible plums and non-dirigible prunes."

Ginny had been thinking about the various professors and drew a complete blank for anyone she'd like to spend extracurricular activity time with. "Well, honestly, my favorite subject is flying, so I'd rather spend time working on my flying skills. So, Professor Hooch, I guess."

"Huh. Well, upon due consideration, I have to agree with Drake and Longbottom. Did you see the cur –?" Blaise cut his answer short at Ginny's narrowed-eyed glare. "Yeah. Okay. So that's my answer."

"Well, I personally very much enjoy Charms, and Professor Flitwick is an excellent teacher. So, I'd spend time working on my Charms." Padma said primly.

Justin looked vaguely apologetic for his answer. "Sorry ladies. It's Trallop. She's hot."

"I hate to be predictable, but Trallop." Terry closed his eyes in memory of the new professor. "Those curves…."

Hannah exchanged a look with Hermione. "I'd like to spend some extracurricular time with Professor Weasley. You want to talk about hot? Those scars…Umm, umm."

Hermione shocked everyone by high-fiving Hannah. "I'm with you. Those scars, and he's handsome anyway. Whew…." Hermione fanned herself when she spotted the revolted look on Ginny's face. "Sorry, Ginny; he's hot."

"Ahem, it was my turn, I believe." Harry interjected.

"Oh, yeah, sorry, Harry. But Bill, you know, he's really good looking."

"No, I don't know, thank you very much." Harry's disgruntled tone set off giggles. "I guess I'd say Trallop too."

Hermione crossed her arms over her chest. "What do you lot see in the Trollop? I don't trust her."

"Why, because she's attractive?" Terry asked.

"No, Terry. I don't trust her because she tried to trick us on the first day of class. And she insulted my intelligence!" Hermione was clearly still indignant.

"I can't believe it. Granger just called a teacher a trollop again. Blaise, what did you put in these drinks?" Draco looked over at his best friend.

"Nothing, Drake, just Firewhiskey."

"All right, then, it's my turn, right?" Neville interrupted before Hermione exploded. "I'll just pull up the next question." He touched the crystal ball and the prompt appeared.

Who did you tell about Hermione's nightmares?


Yes, I left it there. I'll be posting Ch. 6 on Bewitching Fiction directly. It will go up here next Sunday or Monday! As always, I appreciate it very much when you say nice things.