"Severuss," Voldemort hissed, uncurling his hands from their appropriate rests. "It'ss been a while, Severuss."
"It has, my Lord." Snape dipped his head politely. He was kneeling on the floor in front of Voldemort, head held low, in a sign of deep respect. Voldemort liked to have all of his Death Eaters on their knees in front of him at least once a month, shifting uncomfortably and experiencing pains in their legs.
"Severuss," Voldemort let out a low groan, once again clutching his chair. "You may stop now."
Snape sucked in a breath of air, standing up straight and wincing for a moment. Voldemort sat thoughtfully on his throne, gazing at Snape with a curious, yet deceitful expression.
"Severuss, it hass come to my att-att…" Voldemort hissed, clutching his throat for a moment. Sometimes he had trouble pronouncing things and his natural stutter would be shown. The last person to make fun of it was Wormtail, and he was sitting in a dungeon all by himself currently.
"…Attention, my Lord?" Snape offered. He winced as Voldemort glared at him.
"Yess, Severuss." He hissed. "Problem, Severuss?"
"No, my Lord."
"Good, Severuss." Voldemort seemed satisfied, leaning back in his chair. Snape wasn't sure where this was going, and he looked around. Bellatrix was standing in the far corner, throwing a dead mouse against the wall violently. Nothing out of the usual.
"Severuss, it hass come to my attention that there are f-five studentsss at Hogwartsss."
"There are more than five, Lord."
"Hold your tongue, Severuss." Voldemort aimed his wand at Snape and muttered "Crucio."
It didn't work because Voldemort didn't know how to use magic properly, but Snape fell to the ground and writhed around so Voldemort would think himself a really powerful wizard. All the Death Eaters did this and Voldemort never noticed. He let Snape be like this for a few minutes before "reversing" the curse.
"Now Severuss, I must ask why I was not informed that the five studentss that I've been searching for, the oness that I could not kill earlier, the oness that decide my life and death, are attending Hogwartss."
"Sir, I did not think of it as important at the time."
"But why, Severuss?"
"Because they pose little threat. They are all horrible at magic, don't pick up on anything, and never use their head while making decisions. They could not possibly defend themselves against a powerful wizard such as yourself."
The ego stroke paid off. "Very well, Severuss." Voldemort said, smiling and conjuring a glass of wine. "I assk you to keep an eye on them for the time being. Make ssure they d-don't make the connection between themselvess and I."
"Very well, my Lord." Snape turned to leave, but Voldemort let out a soft sigh and Snape turned back, catching the signal that he should stay for a moment more.
"Severuss, on your way out, please tell Bella to s-stop harming Wormtail. He hass paid his debt." Snape glanced over to where Bellatrix was. Looking at the scene more closely, he realized that the mouse was actually a rat, and that it still had a thread of life left that it was hanging on to with tooth and nail.
"Yes, my Lord." Snape turned once again and headed for the door, poking Bellatrix sharply and looking at Wormtail and back at her, nodding his head slightly. Instead of stopping she took this as a sign to hit harder, and Snape grabbed her hand roughly, pulling her sexily to him.
"I meant for you to stop! The Dark Lord has asked me to tell you to stop harming Pettigrew."
Bellatrix pushed herself off of him and ran her long fingernails down his chest, smirking. "Bella no allowed to play anymore?"
"Indeed." Snape said curtly, turning on his heel and walking swiftly out in long strides.
He heard the rat hit the wall one more time before he was out of Malfoy Manor.
"It's snowing again!" Leopard pressed her nose to the glass of the window, looking around excitedly and shaking with energy.
"Obviously." Said Sassy from her bed, trying to read her Transfiguration book. "What'd you think it was, milk?"
Leopard just did a little twirl and fell on her bedspread. "Guys," She said softly after a moment. "Do you think Shad will come to the Snow Ball?"
"No Shad won't come to the fucking Snow Ball. He's a fucking dog."
"What bit you in the ass today Sassy?" Leif asked her, throwing one of his Tempurpedic pillows at her face. She blocked it easily with her hand, throwing it back at him.
"Settle down." Axle complained, trying to do a tricky freezing charm, his Charms book lying limply in his lap, the pages crumpled and ripped. "Occulto Glacies!"
The tip of his wand let out a small wisp of cold air, but showed no other sign of responding to what he said. Axle looked down at his wand sadly, muttering the same words over and over again to himself.
Bruised was peering at the sheet that was handed to everyone about the Snow Ball. "Dress robes? Are they fucking serious? I'm going in normal clothes, though I suppose a dress might woo the headmaster."
"If he swings that way."
"Which he doesn't."
"Not even a little."
Bruised just snorted at their comments and continued to read over the piece of paper. It was more so a distraction than anything; an eerie memory kept creeping into her brain and she was tired of it. When can I tell them? Will I tell them? It's been a while, they should know, shouldn't they?
It had been a few weeks since she snooped through Dumbledore's office, reading Professor McGonagall's letter that was addressed to the headmaster. At the time it was amusing, but the words flashed through her mind on a daily basis, and it was more troubling than anything else lately. She thought of the most worrying sentence:
Whatever you choose to do, you must remember that it is just too risky to tell the Five at this time.
What could they possibly be hiding from them? It had to be serious; the Gryffindor Head of House was blatantly avoiding putting it on paper in the letter.
I'll tell them at the ball. She decided, and once it was decided, it was done. There was no point to continue to worry about it. It's not like there was much they could do about it, of course, but holding the knowledge by herself made her stomach churn.
If Voldemort wants to kill us, he needs to fucking do it. Kill Leif, for god's sake, and let us sneak away. It's the best choice, anyway. He's the most successful of us all.
"Take anyone," She murmured, slanting her eyes and looking at the other Four suspiciously. "Just don't take me."
They all ended up going to the Snow Ball in their regular clothes, and as they crowded with the rest of the Gryffindors outside the portrait hole, they got more than one dirty look from females dressed in shiny dresses. They watched as many of the students trotted down the corridor to meet their partners from other Houses, greeting them with smiles and locking their arms together.
"This is wrong." Leif sighed, rubbing his eyes. "So wrong. It's almost sickening to watch. I could have made three Greasemonkey scripts by now." He would have gone on more, but as he finished his phrase he felt someone bump against him hard, causing his glasses to fall off. "Oi!" He called, putting his glasses back on and glaring at Axle. "Where they hell are you going and why the hell are you going so fast?"
Axle grinned, pushing his hair out of his eyes. He had put a few enchantments on his face, and the scars on it were less noticeable. "Meeting up with Luna, didn't I tell you?"
"You did, I just wasn't paying attention." Leif responded curtly and Axle's lip curled for a moment before he turned back and jogged the rest of the way to the corridor where the Ravenclaws were waiting.
"He is going to end up marrying a complete psycho." Leopard said casually, messing with the bottom button of her school shirt, the threads fraying. "Loony Lovegood. She's quite insane; I'd never act like that."
Nobody said anything.
After a while the crowd started to move, and Leopard seemed to be searching the crowd for someone. "Neville!" She called out, running up to talk to the pink faced boy with a genuine smile on her face. "Can we go to the Snow Ball together?"
"Uh…" Neville paled at the sight of the girl running up to him. "Actually I'm going with Hannah Abbott-" He motioned to the girl his arm was linked with. "-from Hufflepuff. Sorry Leopard."
A look of enormous rage shadowed over Leopard's face, but the remaining three couldn't hear what she was saying from as far away as they were. She was yelling something, and as she got angrier her voice got louder and they picked up a bit.
"Hufflepuff whore…I'm a nice person…meant to be…destined…bitch probably hasn't completed Trivia…lemon drops…YOU'RE GOING WITH ME!"
After a few minutes of this, and Hannah ripping her grip from Neville's and yelling at him along with Leopard, Neville walked into the Great Hall with Leopard looking around excitedly, linked arm and arm with him.
"Everyone sit down." Said a booming voice from the front, and they all looked up to see Dumbledore grinning proudly from a large stage at the front of the room. The entire Hall was decorated with elegant white drapes, snowy Christmas trees, snowflakes flittering softly from the ceiling, and floating candles. They all settled down around the little tables scattered around the room, looking expectantly at the Headmaster. "Get on with it!" Loudly shouted an annoyed Ron, who was sitting next to Lavender. "Some of us don't have all day!"
If Dumbledore had heard him he did not show it in the slightest. "Welcome," he smiled, raising his arms to air hug them all. "To the first annual Snow Ball. This will be marked as an important day in history, it will. You will be famous!" He stopped for applause, but as there was none, he continued. "You can dance, and dance, and dance some more! There are some refreshments on the right side of the room, my right, but don't think about spiking anything." He looked stern for a moment. "We have some people guarding the punch with their lives." There were a couple of laughs, but Dumbledore looked serious.
"Anyhoo, I must inform you that we will have absolutely no tolerance for any love making in the Hall. Two people got expelled last year for doing it during breakfast, and the Snow Ball's rules will be no different. You may kiss, but that kiss may not last longer than a second and a half, or we will be forced to take points. It's only fair." He stopped at this, and as everyone looked up, the lights dimmed and the podium on which he was standing behind started to sink into the floor.
"With that I say, begin!"
The chairs swooped from under them along with the tables, most of them flying into the wall, though some stopping to flank the dance floor on the edge of the room. Axle and Luna stood up together as their chairs disappeared, Axle looking as if Christmas was really here as he started to dance with Luna.
"Care to dance?" Leif asked a girl that walked by, and the girl looked at him rudely.
"What, with you?" She gave a short laugh and walked away, muttering to herself.
"Man, this sucks!" Complained Leif, and he sat down in one of the chairs, folding his arms across his chest.
Sassy headed towards the refreshments, feeling queasy from all the love floating through the air. It was absolutely sickening, as Leif said earlier. She walked up and poured herself some punch, looking at it with an annoyed glance as flavor powder floated to the bottom. "Fucking perfect." She mumbled before downing it all.
She went to pour herself a glass of the other flavor, supposedly grape instead of just fruit, but a voice behind her cut through her thoughts. "I wouldn't do that if you valued your awareness, Miss Girl05."
Sassy turned and nearly dropped the glass as Snape's grumpy appearance came into view. He was glaring at her, arms crossed over his chest, the same type of black robes he wore every day billowing slightly. As she stumbled with the glass long, pale fingers tenderly pulled it from her grip, brushing against her palm like a cold breeze. She sucked in a small breath of air.
"What the hell are you doing here?" She sneered, copying his posture and folding her arms across her chest. "Guarding the punch with your life?"
"Precisely, Miss Girl05." Snape replied as he poured her glass of punch back into the bowl, waving his wand across it a few times and looking bored. The air was uncomfortable. "This particular bowl of punch seems to have a bit of the Dreamless Sleep Potion in it. Not enough to put you to sleep, obviously, but enough to make you slightly dizzy and hinder your… ability to make decisions, as we'll call it."
"I don't particularly give a shit." Sassy replied sourly, turning to walk across the dance floor; she was just about to step into the throng of dancing couples when he said something that literally broke all of the control she was hanging on to.
"Five points from Gryffindor."
She turned around slowly, eyes flaming. She stomped over to where he was standing, looking around lazily at the students collecting food. "What the fuck did you just say?"
Snape's gaze flickered over to her. "Fifteen points from Gryffindor."
"Your fucking nerve! I can't fucking believe you! After what you fucking did to me during my detention you have the fucking balls to take points from me! Twenty fucking points! I could have you fired, you hardass, Slytherin prat!"
Snape's eyes glowed, and he towered over her, hands clenched. "You foolish child. You're honestly going to report that we kissed to Dumbledore? You initiated it, I pulled away. I could have you expelled for trying to make a move on a teacher, and you're lucky I haven't already. My conscious must have had a lapse of sanity for not reporting you. It's not too late, fortunately."
"You still don't stop, do you? You're going to have the bloody nerve to claim I started it? What stops me from showing Dumbledore my memories; I hear you can do that. What do you think your bloody boss is going to say to that? Surely I don't have the fucking skill to tamper with my memories, I'm a foolish child."
Snape was about to give a scathing reply, but as he opened his mouth to respond a giggling Ron pulled Lavender by the hand in between the arguing pair. Their rudeness broke the atmosphere, and Snape stalked away to the other side of the refreshment table, leaving Sassy with her eyes scrunched and mouth hanging open.
As she stood there, Dumbledore sat in a seat about fifty feet away, his face expressing equal shock. He had used a spell to eavesdrop on their conversation, as he enjoyed doing on all of Snape's conversations, and had watched and heard their entire confrontation.
Dear Merlin…not Severus. She is far too young; he couldn't have…who to believe…
It didn't matter who was truthful and who was not; it was still serious and he would have to confront Snape later. He watched as the Potions master yelled at a Hufflepuff for "taking too much punch" and dropping Hufflepuff's House points by at least twenty percent.
Dumbledore rubbed his temples, the festivities not seeming nearly as fun as they did five minutes before. Problems were multiplying at an amazingly fast rate, his ability to cope with them running thin. This on top of the prophecy could hurt many feelings and even take lives, something Dumbledore was prepared for mentally but not emotionally.
Everything could go so wrong, so easily.
As he thought over everything, someone sat down beside him, and Dumbledore glanced to his right to see Bruised smirking at him. "Why hello!" He smiled nervously, twiddling his thumbs and glancing around to see if there were any ways he could escape. Seeing there were none, he turned his chair to face her and smiled again. "I couldn't help but notice that your friend, Miss Girl05, seems angry at the present time."
Bruised looked over casually to see where Sassy was standing in a corner by herself, glaring at everyone dumb enough to get in a ten feet radius of her. "Oh, her? Don't worry about it. Her panties are just twisted because she digs Snape." Bruised told him, somewhat bored. "It's nothing new."
Dumbledore glanced up at the "digging Snape" part, and wanted to delve into the topic further. Bruised didn't give him a chance, though, and looked at him with for once was a serious manner. "Dumbles, I have a question, and I want a straight answer."
"I can't promise that." Dumbledore informed her, folding his hands on the table and giving her his full attention. "But you can ask me anyway." What she finally said threw him completely off balance.
"What the fuck are you hiding from me and the other Four? I know there's something, and I am pretty sure it has something to do with Voldemort."
"I don't think…"
"I said I wanted a direct answer."
Dumbledore's mind swirled with all the possible consequences of telling them, and he wasn't sure telling them would turn out for the best in the long run. But he thought of Harry, how he had kept the prophecy hidden from him for years, finally only telling him at the start of the term. How Harry had to face Voldemort twice, three times if you counted Riddle's memory, before knowing the truth. Going in blindly. Anything could happen; Voldemort could show up at any moment these days, and it was time Dumbledore stopped hiding.
"Fine." He said, frowning. "Follow me to my office and I will tell you everything."
"Should I bring the others?"
"It would be better, but it would be easier to tell you if I told you alone. You can pass the information along afterwards."
"Let's go, then."
"I personally love dancing; it's a favorite hobby of mine." Axle smiled as he and Luna swirled around the dance floor in an elegant sweep, keeping in time perfectly as he twirled her around a few times.
Luna glanced at his robes, eyes lighting up as she picked a piece of lint off of the black fabric. "It'll add to my collection!" She muttered, excited, as she put the piece of lint on her own clothing. Axle didn't say anything to that, and they continued to sweep around the Hall.
He poked out his tongue, catching a snowflake on the tip. "Isn't this snow realistic? I never knew wizards could make it snow inside. We should have some beaches in the classrooms. In California we had beaches in the classrooms."
Luna wasn't paying attention, instead gazing at his shirt to see if it held any lint. Axle glanced around nervously, seeing a few older couples going to the darker parts of the floor to snog. He purposely danced toward on of these spots, leaning in a little closer to Luna's face.
"I've never been in a serious relationship." He breathed, slowing his dancing until they were just standing. "I once dated this chick, but turns out she just wanted to ride me." His words were meant to impress, but Luna only looked excitedly at a piece of lint she found on one of the pockets of his slacks.
"Wanna go in one of the empty classrooms?" He asked suddenly, somewhat embarrassed. Luna nodded absentmindedly, and he led her out of the Hall happily.
"What sluts!" Leopard gazed at Axle and Luna leaving, clutching on Neville's arms with a death grip. She looked at him, grinning, her hat tipping over her eyes. "You're an amazing dancer," she told him proudly, not noticing how clumsily he waltzed. "I could dance with you forever."
"Uh, Leopard…" Neville trailed off, wincing slightly at her tight grip on his arms. He looked as if he had wanted to say something for a while, and was only just now collecting the courage to do so. "Your obsession with me…I don't really understand it…and uh, it's kind of creepy…I'd like it to stop…"
Leopard wasn't paying attention. "The hall is so pretty."
Neville just stuttered some more and tried to dance better.
They were in the middle of doing a semi-complicated waltz when a flushed Bruised hurried towards them, her eyes bloodshot and looking very serious, something she rarely seemed to be. Something was wrong.
"Leo, you need to stop dancing and come with me to the common room. Find Axle, I'll get Sassy and Leif. I need to tell you all something."
Leopard looked at Neville's relieved face a few inches above her and then back at Bruised. "Is it important?"
Bruised glared at her from above her glasses. "Yes, it's fucking important and you better damn do what I say."
Leopard gave a dramatic sigh and detached herself from Neville, who nearly collapsed from the pressure being lifted. "T-Thank you…" He stuttered, glancing at Bruised while breathing heavily and leaning against the back of a chair. "So much…"
Leopard walked out of the Hall and down the corridors, calling out "Axle!" as she did so.
Luna bit her lip and looked around the room curiously, the desk she was sitting on becoming slightly uncomfortable. Axle had kissed her, it felt rather odd, and he tugged at her clothing a bit for some reason. It was all so weird.
Dust coated most of the room, but she had cleaned the desk with a spell before she sat on it. "What are you doing?" She asked Axle curiously, looking down at him.
"Oh nothing," Axle replied from between her legs, tugging at a piece of clothing that someone not her definitely hadn't tugged on before. "I'm just looking for Nargles."
Luna looked confused. "But I have my radish earrings on…though I guess you know best."
Axle was just about to continue when he heard a familiar voice ringing down the halls, calling his name. He thought about ignoring it, but as it became closer he heard the loud creak and bang of doors opening, and he knew he would have to face it. Sighing and standing up, he walked over to the door and opened it before Leopard could. "The fuck you want?"
Leopard looked at him, eyes narrowed as she took in the scene of Luna sitting happily on the desk and his flushed cheeks. Her lips pursed, and she looked like she was about to comment disapprovingly, but Axle raised his eyebrow, so she just continued. "It's Bruised, she wants to talk to us. It's important, apparently."
Axle was about to protest, but Leopard grabbed him by the wrist and dragged him away, Luna calling "Bye!" cheerfully, looking curiously at a pile of lint in one of the corners in the classroom.
"What the hell is it, Bruised?" Leif glared at her, sitting in one of the poofy chairs in the common room. It was deserted, as expected, and they all sat or stood around the fire with some form of annoyance on their faces.
"Don't fucking talk to me like that, you prat!" Bruised snapped at him, equally annoyed.
"Then spit it out." Sassy growled from her right, tapping her foot and twitching ever so often.
Bruised rounded on her, hands on her hips. "Not you, either, you Slytherin loving bitch! I could fucking ruin you if I wanted to, and you'll never know why unless you shut the fuck up."
"Neener, neener, I know something you don't know!" Leopard mimicked Bruised, the glare on her face glowing in the light of the fire. It flickered ever so often.
"Nailed it, Leo." Axle rolled his eyes, leaning against one of the chairs.
"EVERYONE JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
The severity of her voice did, in fact, shut them all up, and they all turned to face her, waiting for some answers. "Now," Said Bruised, sitting down. "Now that I have everyone's fucking attention, I want you to all sit down."
They all reluctantly sat in a chair or on the floor, as Leopard chose so in-character to do. Bruised looked at them all, preparing herself for their reaction. She took some sick pleasure in that moment for being the only one of them to know what she was about to say, and for a second she thought about keeping it to herself.
But it was too late.
"We have a prophecy."