Harry and Luna sat in the Hogwarts library, huddled
over a stack of books. Luna sat cross-legged on her chair. A thick red-covered
book, The History of Love Tonics, rested on her lap. She nibbled lightly on one
of the butterbeer bottlecaps
that made up her necklace. Harry’s elbows were propped on the table on either
side of the book he was reading, The 25 Most Popular Mood-Altering Elixirs.
Ron, who had managed to briefly escape Parkinson’s
clutches, gave them a brief version of what happened and implored them to help.
"I never thought this would be so
difficult," Harry grumbled as he closed his book with a discouraged snap.
He waved his wand over the book and two others on the table, and they soared
through the air and back onto the shelf. He Summoned
four more books and started reading a slim, green-covered book, Arsenius Jigger’s Book of Quick Fixes for Botched Potions.
"This is interesting," Luna murmured.
"What? You’ve found something?" Harry
"Before Erosin Clout
discovered that frozen Ashwinder eggs were effective
in love potions, wizards frequently used a combination of Tamarisk resin and
the blood of a cuckoo bird."
Harry sighed in impatience. "That’s
interesting, but it doesn’t help us very much."
"The problem was," Luna
continued reading as if she hadn’t heard. "Love potions made with these
ingredients had long-lasting effects, sometimes for a wizard’s lifetime. You
know, that could be a problem if the feeling wasn’t
mutual. That’s why most wizards prefer Ashwinder
"Simply fascinating. Now can we get back to the
matter at hand?"
Luna and Harry continued reading for several moments
"Here’s something," Luna said.
Harry looked up, although with only a little of the
enthusiasm he had earlier. "Yes?"
"Blood-red rose petals are, even today, added
to potions if the maker wants a longer-lasting effect," Luna read.
"Luna!" Harry snapped his book shut and
grabbed another one from the table. "Have you forgotten why we are
"Usually seven or nine petals," Luna said.
"When this tradition started, it was seven for the seven planets because
Neptune and Pluto hadn’t been discovered yet. Now, sometimes a wizard uses
"I’ll try to remember that," Harry said
through gritted teeth.
There was another period of silence as they
"Fascinating," Luna said, again breaking
the quiet. "It says here that wreaths made of rosemary and rue are made and
draped in the coffins of those who have died who were still under the effects
of a love potion so that person wouldn’t become a ghost."
"Cheery thought," Harry said as he closed
his book and sent it and Jigger’s book back to the shelves.
"I wonder if that really works?"
Luna said, more to herself. "I’ve heard of using rue, but not
"Luna, could we please get back to finding the
antidote? Please?" Harry waved his wand to Summon more books from the
shelves. "It’s nice outside, everyone else is having a holiday and…."
"So, where do you want to meet me before we go
down to the ball?" Luna asked without looking up.
"I really, really don’t want to be here all …
what did you just say?" The books Harry had Summoned
hovered in mid-air.
"Where do you want to meet me before we go down
to the ball?"
Harry yelped, for the two books dropped to the table and landed on his arm.
Then he stared at Luna. "What do you mean, ‘where should we meet?’"
Luna looked up at Harry, her silvery eyes gazing
into Harry’s green one. "Well, we really should appear together at the
ball, don’t you think?"
"We should?" Harry croaked out.
"You can meet me outside the entrance to the
Ravenclaw tower," Luna said, and her voice took on a dreamy tone. Her eyes
seemed to stare off into another place, far away. "That’s what my dad did
when he and mum were dating. They had a few dances here when they went to
Hogwarts, and he would meet mum outside the Ravenclaw tower. Then, he told me,
she would come down, in her best robes. My mum was very pretty. My dad would
take her hand, kiss it and say ‘You look divine
tonight, angel.’ He said he always did that."
Harry suddenly felt nauseous.
"So, how about meeting me at seven outside the
Ravenclaw tower?" Luna said.
No way! "Ummm
… sure," Harry said nervously. Now why did I just say that?
Just then, two wizards, a stocky, red-haired wizard
of medium height and broad face and a slim, petite witch with bubblegum-pink
hair tied up in a loose ponytail came in.
"Harry," the wizard said with a smile.
"We were looking for you."
"Hi Charlie, Tonks,"
Harry said. Luna stared at the newcomers a moment before returning to her book.
"What are you doing in here?" Tonks said, and she wrinkled her nose. "On
a holiday? You would never catch me in the library on a holiday!"
"Ermmm, it’s a long
story, guys," Harry replied. "So why were you looking for me?"
"We wanted to warn you," Charlie’s good natured grin disappeared and was replaced by a
concerned look. "We just heard…."
Ron suddenly burst into the
room, out of breath and frantic.
"Hide me!" he said in a hushed, desperate
"What the…?" Tonks
started to say, but Ron dashed past her and dove under the table Harry and Luna
were sitting at.
"Ron, what is it?" Charlie asked with a
barely suppressed chuckle.
"Ron? My darling, where are you?" all of
them heard just outside the library. "Please don’t hide from me! It’s
cruel to keep yourself from me, who loves you with every fiber of my
"Oh sweet Merlin," Harry whispered, his
eyes wide. "She’s a persistent one, isn’t she?"
"Yes!" Ron whispered back, his voice
panicked. "This is going to be the death of me… ack!"
He gasped and hid his face in his hands as the girl in question came around the
corner several feet away from them.
"Oh, it’s only you," Pansy said with
obvious disappointment. "I thought I heard voices. Have any of you seen my
Your Ronny? Harry mouthed, and
he choked back a laugh. Luna continued reading her book as if nothing were happening.
"Errr … no," Tonks replied, and the corners of her mouth twitched.
"Really can’t say I have seen him, not for a whi…
"Try looking in the kitchens," Charlie
added as he poked Tonks in the ribs with his elbow.
"He probably went down to grab a snack before tonight. If he heard they
were making cheesecake tarts, he probably went to see if he
could nick one, those are his favorites. Especially those with strawberries."
"Cheesecake tarts?" Pansy said with a huge
grin on her face. "I will make sure my honeyboo
gets some then, as many as he wants." She left the library practically
"Is she gone?" Ron whispered.
"Yes, Ron, you can come out now," Harry
said, and she covered her mouth to stifle a laugh.
Ron’s head peered cautiously above the table.
"Whew!" he heaved a sigh of relief and stood up. "Thanks,
Charlie," he said. "By the way, are they really making cheesecake
tarts? With stra…."
"Ron, even if they are, she will be down
there!" Harry said, and he rolled his eyes.
"So what is going on,
little brother?" Charlie asked in a parental tone. He crossed his arms in front of him,
the scar on his one arm plainly visible. "Why has a snooty Slytherin
suddenly taken such a shine to you?"
stammered, his ears going bright red.
Tonks looked at the titles of the
books on the table. "Hmmm … The History of Love Tonics,
Meddling with the Mind – Greatest Potions for Changing Perceptions, Ah, Amore!
Most Potent Love Elixirs of the World … what are you two doing with this lot?
Making something special for tonight?"
said, and he glanced nervously at Ron.
Charlie’s parental stare intensified. "I heard
McGonagall confiscated some forty bottles of love potion my joke-loving brothers
concocted. Wouldn’t put it past them to have spirited away a
few bottles, though."
"We’re not looking to make more, if that’s what
you are implying," Ron blurted out.
"We’re helping him look for an antidote,"
Harry said, and he nodded his head towards Ron. "Some love potion was …ummm, accidentally swallowed by a couple of parties, one of
them being Parkinson."
"Oh dear," Tonks
said. "That explains a lot. You poor thing!"
She cast a sympathetic glance at Ron.
Harry decided not to bring up Ginny and any details
about what happened with Parkinson, nor the fact that Ron more than deserved
what he was getting from the love-sick Slytherin.
said, his expression lightening some. "Well, good luck. There aren’t many antidotes, though, simply because most love
potions only last a few hours anyway. You may be searching for a while."
"You know, you could ask Professor Snape,"
Tonks said brightly. Harry and Ron stared at her.
"Oh, right. You don’t exactly get on well with him, do you?"
"Not really," Harry said bitterly.
"Tell you what," Charlie said. "We’ll
ask in your behalf without going into too much detail."
"Would you?" Ron said, a wave of relief
sweeping over him. "That would be swell, Charlie.
This whole situation is a right mess!"
"You’re a mate, Charlie," Harry agreed,
beaming, then his brow furrowed. "But what brings you to Hogwarts in the
first place? And you said something about looking for us earlier."
"Oh, right!" Charlie said, and he laughed.
"We’re here to provide security," Tonks said. "For the ball.
The headmaster asked us to come."
"As to why we were looking for you,"
Charlie said, again serious. "We wanted to warn you. Dolores Umbridge
escaped from St. Mungo's closed ward and rumor has
it, she has a Dementor or two with her. She’s stark, raving mad, and she’s wanting revenge for that little thing with the
"Oh no!" Harry exclaimed in horror.
"Keep a sharp eye out, Harry," Tonks said, her face serious as
well. "She may be nutters, but she’s
"You don’t need to tell me that!" Harry
"Don’t worry about it too much, Harry,"
Charlie said. "Just keep a sharp lookout and don’t go anywhere alone
"He’ll be with me tonight," Luna said in
her dreamy voice. She looked up briefly. "We’re going together."
and Ron, their jaws gaping, stared at Harry and Luna.
"What’s this?" Ron asked incredulously.
"Umm … we’re going in together," Harry
said, his face bright red.
when?" Ron asked, and he started snickering. "I didn’t know
"Neither did I, until
a few minutes ago," Harry said as he ducked behind a book. "Now
bugger off, or I’ll sic Pansy on you!"
The snickering came to an immediate halt.
"I hope the house-elves don’t miss this
lot," Fred said as he gripped the two bottles of butterbeer
and bag of grapes.
"Doubtful," George said as he looked over
his shoulder to make sure they weren’t being followed.
He was carrying a small blue cloak. "Even if they do, they’ll just replace
They were sneaking back into the forbidden forests
to the brush that was concealing Ginny and the partly-transfigured
Malfoy. It was around four in the afternoon, and the ball wasn’t
due to start until about half past seven or so. Fred thought it might be a good
idea to check on their sister and bring a cloak and snacks down in case an
antidote wasn’t to be had in time.
The twins crept into the woods undetected and went
over to the brush. They could hear a sweet, girlish voice singing as they came
sings the donkey at the break of day
If you do not
feed him, this is what he’ll say…."
said, and his face contorted into a grimace.
"Hee haw! Hee haw! Hee haw hee haw hee haw!"
Ginny was curled up on the
blanket, with Malfoy’s donkey head in her lap. The witch had made several daisy
chains; one was around her neck and one on her head, and there were two daisy
chains around Malfoy’s neck and a third hanging from his right ear. Even the
pigs wore partial flower chains, although they had already half-eaten them.
Ginny held a small bouquet of daisies in her hand.
sings the donkey at the break of day," Ginny sang again. "If you do not feed him, this is what he’ll
say: Hee haw! Hee haw! Hee haw hee
haw hee haw!"
With each "hee
haw," Ginny gently tapped Malfoy’s gray muzzle with her bouquet.
Malfoy responded. He snuggled closer to Ginny.
"All this scene needs is cupids and pink hearts
flying above them," Fred muttered. "Then it will be completely
"Please don’t, my stomach
hurts enough seeing this," George almost whimpered.
"Hi, Ginny!" Fred called out. "All right?"
"I’m just fine, thank you," Ginny said
primly. She obviously wasn’t happy that her peace had
"We … we brought you a snack and your
cloak," George said, and the twins handed over the items they had brought.
"Thanks!" Ginny said, with a little more
friendliness. "I think Draco was getting hungry." She started pulling
off grapes and held them just above Malfoy’s head. Like a trained dog, Malfoy
opened his mouth and Ginny dropped the grapes in.
"Ugh!" Fred and George chorused at once.
"Go away if you can’t stand the sight of a
little true affection," Ginny retorted.
Fred and George only too
willingly complied. As they started to leave, another song floated in their
the bee sucks there suck I,
In a cowslip’s
bell I lie.
There I couch
where the owls do cry,
on the bat’s back I do fly
After summer merrily.
merrily I shall live now, under the blossom that hangs on the bough
merrily I should live now, under the…."
George shuddered as they walked through the woods on
another, more roundabout path to the castle. "We have got to find that
"I’m hoping she won’t remember anything,
though. Could be bad for us."
"Very bad, but chances are she won’t remember a
thing. We’ll just have to keep anything from triggering her memory."
"And if she does remember anything, let’s hope
a well-placed Obliviate will work."
Meanwhile, in another part of the dark forest near
the castle, Dolores Umbridge, beady eyes gleaming, crept quietly towards the
"I’m going to get them now," she hissed
between clenched teeth. "All of them! That Potter boy,
especially, and that girl, that wretched girl." She turned to look
behind her. "Come out, it’s safe!"
A dementor came out from behind a tree and floated
over to where Umbridge was crouched behind a rock. Umbridge and the Dementor
looked towards the school, which was still several hundred feet away and barely
visible through the trees.
What now, mistress?
The dementor asked.
"We wait here until the ball starts,"
Umbridge replied. "Then, I take my revenge! They will all wish they had
never crossed me!"
"Ugh! It’s disgusting how they conduct business
here!" Umbridge said, her toad-like mouth twisting in revulsion. "I
tried so hard to get it on track, to make it a school worthy of our kind, and
how do they thank me? By locking me up with the basket cases in St. Mungo’s! Shameful, isn’t
"That Dumbledore has no control over the
school," Umbridge continued to rant. "None!
Look what has happened during his tenure! Do you know what has happened
I do. You’ve told me.
Umbridge continued anyway. "A
Basilisk! A boy who speaks Parseltongue!
A werewolf! Letting an escaped
convict slip through their fingers! Now, they have a centaur and a
half-giant teaching classes! It’s outrageous!"
"Imagine, thinking that creatures have the same
rights as wizards do!" Umbridge said with a sniff. "That is a
dangerous philosophy, dangerous, I tell you!"
This was said in an edgier tone than before, but Umbridge didn’t
seem to notice.
"Half-breeds and Mudbloods
at the school, beasts teaching classes," Umbridge snarled. "But I
will get my revenge! I promise you that!"
If the dementor had eyes, it would have been rolling
them by now. It had listened to this almost non-stop line of chatter from the
short woman since she escaped the hospital three days ago. It considered
lifting its hood and taking the short woman’s life force, putting her out of
its misery. It held up a corpse-like hand. It would be so
easy to do, grab her, overwhelm her … but… did it really want to touch
something that loathsome?
The dementor hastily withdrew its hand.
"I’m going to get even tonight," Umbridge
continued to rant, heedless of the momentary danger she had been in.
"While they are busy having a good time, I’m …."
"What are you doing here?" thundered a
Umbridge and the Dementor turned. Right behind them
was a black-bodied centaur with wild black hair.
"And who do you think you are,
creature?" Umbridge said haughtily, her toad-like mouth forcing itself to
twist into a nasty smile. She balled her hands into fists so the creature couldn't see how they trembled.
The centaur snarled. "My name is Bane," he
said coldly. "And you are trespassing! You and that fell
creature of yours."
Umbridge sniffed. "Trespassing? Are you claiming that you actually own
this land?" She backed away without realizing it.
"This is the centaur’s land," Bane said,
and he advanced threateningly. "I made a promise to the headmaster of the
school that we would not harm those from the school who came here as long as
they respected our territory. But you are not from the
school. You…." Recognition suddenly hit Bane. "I remember you!"
he said, his voice a low growl. "I have a score to settle with you…."
Fred and George were taking a meandering path back
to the castle, in an effort to hide their trail, when they stumbled across
Umbridge and the dementor.
"Umbridge!" George hissed. "What
in blazes is that woman doing here? And with that … dementor?"
"I don’t know," Fred whispered as both of
them dived behind a large oak. "Maybe they are having a romantic tete-a-tete."
George had to cover his mouth with his hand to keep
from laughing out loud. "Heh. That would be appropriate. She’s evil
"Oh bother!" Fred grumped. "They are
blocking the most direct path! We’re either going to have to wait for them to
leave or go back."
"Let’s go back a ways," George said.
"We could make our own trail. Just hope we don’t run across any poison
"Wait," Fred said, and he snapped his
fingers. "I’ve just had a thought!" He pulled out a small silver
bottle and grinned nastily. "Do you suppose this works on dementors?"
George’s grin matched his brother’s.
"I don’t know, but it might be fun to see, or we can just give some to
Umbridge, make her fall for that thing."
"Heh. The dementor will poison
itself if it Kisses her."
"Goody! That will take care of two problems in
one stroke! You have your blow gun?"
Fred pulled out a small, wooden, cylindrical device
made of wood. It fit neatly into the palm of his hand. Strapped to it were
small, hollow wooden sticks that resembled toothpicks.
"Never leave home without it," Fred said,
his eyes gleaming.
But as they were opening the
bottle to coat one of the darts, they saw a large black-bodied centaur come
into view. They clung closer to the tree.
"Blimey, but he looks cross!" Fred said as
they watched the angry centaur as he talked to Umbridge. "About
ready with that dart, mate?"
"Yes, here," George said, and he handed
the dart to his brother.
Fred placed the dart into the blow
gun, aimed at the Dementor and blew hard. But
just as he blew, the centaur advanced towards Umbridge, fists raised. Bane,
unwittingly, put himself in the line of fire.
"Uh oh," Fred whispered.
"Oww," the twins
heard Bane exclaim in annoyance, and the centaur brushed a hand across his
shoulder. Then he seemed to stagger and sway. Bane’s forelegs buckled, and soon
he collapsed to the ground in a heap.
"You know," Fred said with a sigh.
"If they would have hired us to be cupids, we wouldn’t last a day."
"I don’t think we’ve gotten an intended target
yet," George said. "We’re rusty. It’s all that respectable work, I
Fred nodded somberly in agreement. "We are off
our game." Silence. "You know, should we
warn her not to do that?" Umbridge had started kicking at and shaking the
centaur, all the while shouting in a loud, angry voice.
The twins looked at each other and shook their heads.
"Ouch!" George said as Umbridge planted an
especially vicious kick to the centaur’s side. "That’s gonna
leave a mark."
Bane started to stir. From their hiding place, the
twins started to snigger.
"This is going to be good," Fred chortled.
"Almost wish we had popcorn," George added
as he and Fred sat down to watch the show.
"Get up, you lazy creature!" Umbridge
shouted, and she gave Bane a sharp kick to the back. "How dare you insult
me, then lie down and take a nap! Up, you filth!"
Bane stirred and shook his head groggily as Umbridge
continued to hurl insults at him.
"Useless, worthless pile of dung,"
Umbridge said as Bane slowly got to his feet and stared at the short, squat
woman before him. "It’s about time you got up!"
"My fair lady," Bane whispered, and he
grasped her hand and kissed it.
Umbridge was shocked speechless. Her eyes grew wide
in dread as a smiling Bane grasped her other hand and knelt before her.
"Lovely flower in the wood," Bane said
lovingly. "Speak, oh angel, even if it is just to insult me, for I love
hearing the sound of your voice!"
"Wha … What???" Umbridge croaked out in horror.
"Do not be afraid of me," Bane continued
earnestly. "I adore you! I will worship the ground you walk on, I…."
He suddenly pulled her closer and bent his face over hers.
"Hey!" Umbridge shouted. "Don’t get
fresh with me! We were arguing, remember?"
"What between the heavens and the cosmos,
between the earth and the sea, could we have argued about?" Bane said, his features rapturous.
"Help me out here!" Umbridge gasped out to
the Dementor. But the Dementor just stood there as
Bane tried to kiss her. "Why are you just standing there???
No, said the dementor, an
amused tone creeping into his mental voice.
Umbridge shrieked as she struggled to break free from Bane’s grip. "You
can’t do that! I gave you an order! Now get over here and do something so he
leaves me alone!"
You are the
almighty wizard. I’m not even considered a beast. You
can take care of yourself.
Umbridge looked ready to explode. "I’ll ask you
one more time, get….urgh! Mrrrph!" Bane covered
her mouth with his own. The dementor, meanwhile, flew
Umbridge managed to break free from Bane’s kiss long
enough to watch in horror
as the dementor disappeared through the trees….
The twins started laughing uproariously as they saw
Umbridge finally break free of Bane’s grip and bolt through the woods.
"That was excellent!" Fred wheezed out.
"Most excellent," George said.
"Brother, this restores my faith in our skills. Well done, Fred!"
"Well done, George," Fred replied and the
two shook hands.
"Yes, boys," said a stern third voice.
"Well done, indeed."
The twins blanched and turned to see Professor
McGonagall towering over them, her arms folded across her chest and with a
glare that told them that they were in deep trouble.
The brothers looked at each other and sighed
"It looks like the jig’s
up," Fred said.
"Alas," George said. "And we were
just hitting our stride."
"Tell me again why the headmaster thought this
bloody ball was a good idea?" Professor Snape groused
as he and Professor Urania Sinistra walked out of the
Great Hall down the corridor. "That is the fourth dispute we had to
resolve between the river trolls, goblins and house elves today!"
"Now, Severus," Sinistra said placatingly. "I think it’s nice to see the students
laughing and enjoying themselves for once. This has been a rough year for
"Yes it has!" Snape said, and he scowled.
"But why is it when the students get a holiday it means more work for us?
I have confiscated four Bleeding Hearts, twelve Dungbombs
and have given out five detentions for illicit spellcasting
in the corridors. I know the headmaster has twice been to the dark forest to
make sure the centaurs and other beasts don’t cause
trouble tonight, but heaven knows if they’ll keep their word or if … Mr.
Weasley! How dare you behave like that with a young lady!"
Ron managed to pry Parkinson enough away from him to
look at the Sinister potions master in horror.
"But …." Ron started to protest.
"That will be twenty-five points from
Gryffindor, and if you don’t learn how to control yourself, I will give you a
detention!" Snape said in a threatening tone.
Snape!" Parkinson said pleadingly. "Don’t be too harsh on Ronnykins … he doesn’t mean to be a bad boy." She
giggled and planted another kiss on Ron’s lips, muffling his protests.
"No…mo…rmph!" Ron continued to struggle against the Slytherin
witch’s tight grip.
Snape’s eyebrows shot up as he watched two students
from opposing houses snogging right in front of him –
one of them rather reluctantly from his continued protests and his squirming.
The corners of Sinistra’s
mouth twitched. "Oh my," she said.
"We should go find Dumbledore," Snape said
in a hushed tone. "I suspect someone’s been toying with love potions. Again. This happens nearly every time they hold these
"I’m not sure why you are complaining,"
Sinistra said with a twinkle in her eye. "I heard you were quite the love
potions brewer when you were a student here, and used it on more than one
occasion to get …."
"May we please stick with the present
situation?" Snape said nastily. "I have no interest in bringing up
"Touchy touchy!" Sinistra said with a grin. Then her brow furrowed
as they continued walking down the corridor. "But I thought McGonagall
confiscated some forty-odd bottles of the stuff from the Weasley twins three
"Obviously, our deputy headmistress missed a
bottle or two," Snape replied sourly. "Those two Weasleys
are more trouble than chizpurfles. Where is
Dumbledore supposed to be at this time, anyway?"
"Last I heard, he was
in the greenhouses consulting with Sprout on the topiaries they are going to
The two professors rounded a corner and down a hall which led to a small wooden door leading to the
grounds. But they took no more than six steps out into
the late afternoon sun when they both stopped and looked around.
"You heard it, too?"
"It sounds like it’s coming from the Quidditch
pitch!" Snape said, and he held his arm out to his side, palm down. "Accio, broom!"
Sinistra did likewise, and within seconds
two Nimbus 1500s zoomed into the waiting professors’ hands. They mounted the
brooms, kicked off the ground and soared through the air towards the pitch.
As they drew near to where they could see the
Quidditch hoops, Sinistra gasped and stared wide-eyed at the sight before her.
"What on earth…." She whispered, and her broom slowed in the air.
Snape’s broom slowed too. "Merlin’s
"Is that actually someone up there? On that middle hoop?"
"It’s about time someone came! Help me!!!" the tiny figure clinging to the ring of the hoop
"Doesn’t that sound like Umbridge?" Snape asked, his brow furrowing. "How did she get up
"What I want to know is why she is up there," Sinistra said, and they flew over
cautiously. Both wizards drew their wands as they approached.
Why became apparent as they flew closer and heard a
booming baritone voice singing from below the hoop.
bird, little biiird, in the cinnamon treeeee…."
Snape’s jaw dropped. "If someone had told me
about this, I would have thought them mad!"
"I think you were right about the love potion,
"Little biiird little biiiiird, have pity
"Nothing else could explain this," Snape
said. "My, my, but Fred and George Weasley have been especially active
"How do you know it’s them?"
bird, little bird I love you sooooo!"
"Do you know anyone else who would pull such a
stunt?" Snape made a sweeping gesture with his hand. "It looks like,
as I suspected, the rubbish duty wasn’t strict enough punishment. I warned the
headmaster and McGonagall, but no, they wouldn’t listen…."
"HEY!" Umbridge shouted. "Stop
flapping your jaws and help me! Get rid of this mad creature!!!"
Sinistra sighed. "What the Weasleys
did was wrong, but frankly I can’t think of a more deserving target!"
"Where’s your wand, Umbridge?" Snape said, his tone velvety. "Why don’t you take care of the
big, bad centaur yourself?"
Even from the distance they
were at, Snape and Sinistra could see Umbridge’s face
turn purple. "I dropped it while the brute was chasing me! Now stop asking
stupid questions and do something! Knock him out! Kill him, even! Just get rid
"Kill him?" Sinistra queried mildly.
"That seems rather harsh."
"Quite," Snape said, his eyes glinting
evilly. "In fact, I would think you would prefer his behavior now. Especially after what happened last year, when he tried to kill
said with a thoughtful nod. "But it doesn’t seem very fair to Bane now,
does it? He had no choice in the matter."
"EXCUSE ME!" Umbridge hollered. "But
what part of ‘get-rid-of-that-stinking-beast-and-get- me-down-from-here’ do you
"Hmmm, we could Stupify
Bane, I suppose," Sinistra mused. "But aren’t centaurs resistant to
"Yes, they are. I have a better solution,"
Snape said, and his lip curled into a sneer. "Stupifying
Umbridge is tempting…."
croaked in alarm. "But I would fall to my death! And I’m not the problem
"That is a matter of opinion," Snape
replied, and he scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Wherever you go, you
seem to create problems for others to clean up, so the thought of getting rid
of you is an appealing one. But the paperwork would be such a bother, the Ministry is such a stickler about unexpected
"Yes, they’d expect everything in
triplicate," Sinistra added. "It would take hours, even days. I’m not
sure it would be worth it."
"But think, though," Snape
said thoughtfully. "Only a few days worth of hassle for a lifetime of
"But the again, we just had the turf on the
pitch redone at great expense," Snape continued, and he gave an
exaggerated sigh. "She would mar it horribly if we let her fall. I guess
the only alternative is to acquire an antidote."
"I didn’t think they made antidotes for
insanity!" Umbridge shouted, and she cast a withering gaze at the centaur
"No, they don’t," Sinistra said, and she
rolled her eyes.
"Alas," Snape said. "You would have
been my first test subject, Dolores."
"Bane is not insane," Sinistra said as
Umbridge visibly bristled and turned an even deeper shade of purple. "He
seems to be merely a victim of some sort of love potion. We’ve already seen
another example of a love potion being used today."
"Love potion!" Umbridge shrieked.
"I don’t know and I don’t care," Snape
said. "And who is asking silly questions now? Come, we'd
best leave, Urania. I have a potion to make, and it
will take me a while."
Umbridge shouted, her eyes bulging. "What do you mean, make it? Don’t you
already have some on hand???"
Snape fixed Umbridge with a cool gaze. "No, I
do not. If I kept a supply of every antidote and cure that
could come up, the castle wouldn’t hold all of the bottles. We don’t often see love potions in use because it is against
school rules to make them here, and the effects seldom last more than a few
hours anyway. We will be back when the potion is ready … in about three hours."
"NO!" Umbridge said. "It can’t take
"Are you questioning my knowledge of
potions?" Snape said, his lips turning up into a sneer. "Very well,
if you aren’t satisfied with what I can do, I can only reassure you that the
potion should wear off by tomorrow morning." He turned his broom and
started heading back to the castle, with Sinistra following behind.
"Nooooo! Wait! Don’t leave meeee!"
"I imagine the sunrise will be particularly
striking from your vantage point, Umbridge," Snape fired back over his
Bane, meanwhile, started another song, with Umbridge’s crying and cursing making a strange
first I saw thee, thou didst sweetly play,"
You will pay….!"
gentle thief and stolest my heart awaaaay…."
"You can’t leave me up here! I forbid it!"
"Rend’r it again, or else give me thine own…."
The singing and swearing became more distant as the
two professors flew back to the castle. Sinistra heard another, unexpected,
sound and she turned and stared at the Potions master.
"Why, Severus!" She exclaimed. "Was
that a laugh I heard from you?"
"I think you are hearing things, Urania," Snape said. But he
couldn’t quite hide the almost mischievous gleam in his eyes and the trace of a
smile on his lips.
"You really aren’t going to leave her there all
night?" Sinistra added, her voice taking on a slightly scolding tone, then she sighed. "Although it is sorely tempting, after
all she did last year…."
Snape sighed as well. "I suppose we
shouldn’t," he agreed reluctantly. "Dumbledore would be inclined to
let her go, even if we had the best of reasons for leaving her. He is far too
Sinistra gave Snape a knowing look. "I won’t
say anything about your shady, colorful past, nor mention the number of times
Dumbledore forgave you as a student."
said sulkily as they both touched down to the earth once more.
"By the way, does an antidote for a love potion
really takes three hours?" Sinistra asked after
they Banished their brooms and started for the door.
"It depends on the potion," Snape said,
and the corners of his mouth again turned up slightly. "I’m reasonably
certain that the Weasleys only used the Brevamare formula, which is the weakest type of love potion
and the easiest to make in large quantities. Once I find the proper potions
formula, the antidote itself should take less than an hour to make."
Sinistra laughed heartily. "You do have a sense
of humor, despite rumors to the contrary!"
"If you try to tell anyone that, I will deny it
emphatically. Such idle gossip could ruin my reputation."
"Ah, no one would believe me anyway."
"Hah hah, you are
very amusing. Now, go find Professor Dumbledore. I’ll be down in my lab working
on the antidote."
End of Act II