The Sugar Quill
Author: Madaline Fabray  Story: A Midsummer Night's Ball  Chapter: Ch. 3 Act III
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Snape was walking briskly towards his office when sounds from the classroom slowed his footsteps

Snape was walking briskly towards his office when sounds from the classroom slowed his footsteps.

 

"I don’t know, but that doesn’t sound right."

 

"Well, that’s what it says here. See? On this page…."

 

"Are you sure? Some of his old books are so dusty and smudged…."

 

Snape peered into his classroom and saw Tonks and Charlie Weasley huddled over a small cauldron at one of the desks, with various potions ingredients scattered about them. Some of the ingredients had migrated to the desk behind them and to the floor.

 

Tonks, who was now sporting short blonde, feathered hair, was trying to balance one of Snape’s large leather-bound tomes in one hand and a beaker with some sort of liquid in another. She was holding one of the yellowing pages down with the pinkie of her hand holding the beaker. Charlie, whose ruddy face was flushed from the heat, was adding what looked to be shrake spines to the cauldron, which was beginning to boil rapidly … too rapidly.

 

Charlie swore loudly. "Tonks! Turn down the heat, quickly! Snape will have a bird if he sees this!"

 

"Too late, Weasley," Snape said as he entered the room. He glared at both of them as Tonks dropped the book in her surprise. Snape shook his head in exasperation and drew his wand. One flick, and the fire beneath the now overflowing cauldron was doused. Another wave placed the book back on the desk.

 

"Err … hi, Professor Snape," Tonks said, and she gave a nervous giggle. Charlie merely smiled uneasily and turned red to the roots of his hair.

 

"What I want to know," Snape said in his silky tone. "is why the two of you are here using class supplies to make a disaster area out of my classroom?"

 

"Welllll," Tonks said, and she exchanged glances with Charlie.

 

Snape rolled his eyes. "Well, if you are done fooling around in here, clean this up, and quickly. I have to make antidote for a contraband love potion that has infiltrated some of our students."

 

Charlie’s eyebrows raised. "So were we!"

 

Snape folded his arms across his chest. "And who was the dunderhead who gave you license to come in here and make this mess?"

 

"No one told us to come," Tonks explained. "We actually came down here to look for you. We came after we found out that one student was given love potion by accident. When we couldn’t find you, well…."

 

"We decided to have a go of it ourselves," Charlie finished.

 

Snape snorted. "A right mess you’ve made of it, too!" he said as he surveyed the scattered supplies and the burnt cauldron.

 

He turned back to Charlie and Tonks. "When you say you saw a student, did you mean Miss Parkinson?" Two heads nodded. "She wasn’t the only one. One of the centaurs, Bane, ingested some as well."

 

"And that makes three individuals if my math is correct," said another voice from the door. Snape, Tonks and Charlie turned to the doorway and saw Professor Dumbledore enter the classroom, followed by a contrite Fred and George Weasley, a smug Hermione and a stern-looking McGonagall.

 

"Three individuals, headmaster?" Charlie queried.

 

"Yes, three," Dumbledore responded, and he turned and looked at the twins over his half-moon spectacles. "If I have the sequence of events correct," he turned back to Snape, Charlie and Tonks, "Fred and George here were commissioned by a third party, their younger brother Ron, to spike Miss Granger’s drink with a love potion in an effort to humiliate her. But due to an accident, Ginny Weasley wound up getting the bottle meant for Miss Granger. Miss Weasley is now just on the border of the forest with a partially transfigured Draco Malfoy. Miss Parkinson ingested the contents of another laced bottle, and was last seen," and here the corners of the headmaster’s mouth twitched underneath his voluminous white beard, "pursing Ron Weasley."

 

"Poetic justice," Hermione muttered in a self-satisfied tone.

 

"Miss Granger," McGonagall reprimanded gently. But the deputy headmistress, too, looked as if she were trying not to laugh.

 

"Then Fred and George Weasley" Dumbledore continued, "Ran across Dolores Umbridge in the woods, along with a Dementor. They decided to pull one of their jokes and laced a wooden dart with love potion, hoping to strike the Dementor. By the way," Dumbledore again turned to the twins, who were both shuffling their feet nervously. "That was an interesting idea, but it would have had no effect. Dementors have no capacity for love, so are immune to love potions and, indeed, most mood-altering charms and concoctions.

 

"However," The headmaster continued to the rest of the group, "A centaur, Bane, wound up receiving the dart meant for the Dementor and he fell for Umbridge…."

 

"Who was last seen clinging to the top of a Quidditch hoop," Snape said dryly.

 

"Ick! Poor Bane," Tonks said.

 

"Have I left out any details, gentlemen?" Dumbledore said as he again turned to the Weasley twins and peered at them over his glasses.

 

"No sir," Fred said sheepishly.

 

"Not a thing," George added, looking meek.

 

"I will leave you to make the antidote, then, Severus," Dumbledore said. "As I show Fred and George Weasley what still needs to be done in preparation for tonight, since they have … volunteered their services."

 

Fred scratched his nose in a nervous gesture while George bit on his lower lip.

 

"I hope it won’t take long for you to make it?" Dumbledore said with a sudden twinkle in his eyes. "I heard a rumor that it might take three hours or more."

 

"Just an ugly rumor, I assure you," Snape said smoothly, but the ridges of his cheekbones turned scarlet. "It should be done in an hour or less, with competent help." He fired a withering gaze at Charlie and Tonks.

 

Dumbledore looked as if he were about to leave along with McGonagall and the Weasley twins, then he turned to Hermione.

 

"A word, Miss Granger," the headmaster said gently.

 

"Yes, Professor Dumbledore?" Hermione responded, her eyes wide.

 

"I hope this unfortunate incident and the hard words exchanged of late don’t sour a longtime friendship," he said softly. "Bitter words and rash actions are often regretted later if amends aren’t swiftly sought." His ice blue eyes locked onto Hermione’s brown ones.

 

Hermione swallowed hard. "I understand. Thank you, Professor Dumbledore."

 

Dumbledore gazed at her a few more seconds, then smiled. "Yes, I think you do. Well, good afternoon then, Miss Granger. Until tonight, then."

 

With that Dumbledore quietly left the potions classroom, leaving Hermione, Tonks, Charlie and Snape. Snape was again grumbling about the earlier botched potion.

 

"My one regret is that I can’t take points from your houses for such careless work," he snarled. "Evanesco!" The cauldron was once again clean, save for a few burn marks on the edges. "What made the two of you think you could make…."

 

"Now be fair, professor," Charlie said. "We were trying to help."

 

"Help?" Snape said and he towered over the shorter Weasley. "Help? This from someone who barely got an acceptable grade in NEWT level potions?"

 

"I received an excellent," Tonks said with a mix of pride and indignation.

 

Snape gave her a nasty smile. "Only because you were lucky and didn’t trip over, ruin or otherwise damage your … final."

 

Tonks’ lower lip came out in a pout while Snape continued to glare at her. Her passing had nothing to do with "luck," and they both knew it. It had more to do with the fact that Tonks’ uncle Mad-Eye Moody interceded for his favorite niece, and "encouraged" the potions master to give Tonks a break.

 

"If you want to help," Snape continued, as he eyed Charlie, Tonks and Hermione in distaste, "Help by cleaning up this rubbish so I can get started. We have work to do, and only two and a half hours before the blasted ball!"

 

 

****

 

"We are going to be so happy together," Parkinson cooed as she gave Ron her eleventh squeeze in thirty minutes. The two of them were outside sitting on a stone bench in view of the greenhouses.

 

"Right, Pansy," Ron replied with a grin frozen on his face. He had the resigned air of a man who had been condemned to a life sentence in Azkaban. He had given up trying to escape half an hour ago due to exhaustion and the fact that he had run out of places to seek refuge.

 

Ron wouldn’t have thought you could run out of places to hide in an enormous castle with seven floors and moving staircases. However, he found out to his chagrin it was surprisingly easy when your "friends," after finding out the circumstances of your plight, took perverse pleasure in ratting you out. Pansy had finally ensnared Ron after Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan "graciously" led the Slytherin to his last and best hiding place – inside a large washroom vat on a dungeon-level floor, where the house elves cleaned the linens. He was still a bit damp from sitting in the warm, soapy water for a blissful, quiet twenty minutes.

 

"Just you and me," Parkinson prattled on. "I can see us now, grand castle estate, acres of flower gardens, hundreds of servants and house-elves…."

 

Hermione would flip over that last one, Ron thought with an inward grin, which was followed by a guilty twinge.

 

"How many children do you think we should have? One or two? Or more?" Pansy continued.

 

Children!?! Ron gulped. Tomorrow couldn’t come fast enough!

 

"Whatever you want, Pansy," Ron said nervously.

 

"Two," Parkinson said with finality. "A boy and a girl. And we will name them … what are you doing here?"

 

Ron broke out of his half-stupor and gazed up in surprise at Hermione, who was standing before them with a bemused look on her face. She was holding three bottles of pumpkin juice. Ron stole a glance at Parkinson and noticed that the Slytherin had visibly bristled.

 

"I’m here to talk business," Hermione said matter of factly. "I brought something to drink for each of us, this might take a little while." She handed a bottle to both Ron and Parkinson.

 

"Business?" Parkinson said in a dubious tone.

 

"Yes," Hermione replied. "I know you’ve attached yourself to Weasley here, and that’s fine."

 

"You … you aren’t … jealous?" Parkinson said, her eyes wide. Ron was wondering what Hermione was playing at, and he could feels his cheeks turn hot.

 

"No," Hermione said crisply. "But the fact remains that I was elected queen and he king. It would be rather awkward, scandalous even, if Weasley and I didn’t attend this function together."

 

Parkinson clung to Ron’s arm. Ron’s face, meanwhile, turned even more red, and he was hurt. Since when was he "Weasley" to Hermione?

 

"But after tonight," Hermione continued. "He will be yours, free and clear, if you still want him."

 

"But of course I will!" Parkinson declared. "I love him!"

 

"He’s not easy to put up with at times," Hermione stated.

 

"Hey!" Ron protested, unable to hold his tongue any longer.

 

"I don’t care," Parkinson said, and she thrust her chin up in the air defiantly. "He can do anything, I will always love him."

 

Hermione regarded Parkinson for a moment, than looked at Ron. "I’m not sure you know what you are getting yourself in for …."

 

"Now just wait a minute!" Ron started to protest again. "I don’t think…."

 

"Hard words and childish, immature actions have a way of causing more damage than one might suppose," Hermione said, her gaze still on Ron, and her voice was sad. "It would be a pity that if, on a stupid disagreement, a good relationship was tossed away."

 

"Well, that will never happen," Parkinson declared, and she gave Ron yet another squeeze. Ron ground his teeth but said nothing.

 

"So, do we have an agreement?" Hermione asked, her tone once again brisk, as she turned her gaze to Parkinson. "Mine for tonight, then yours for however long you desire?"

 

"I suppose," Parkinson consented grudgingly. "It would help avoid a scandal, I guess."

 

"Let’s drink on it, then," Hermione said, and she untwisted the cap from her pumpkin juice. The others did likewise. "Cheers!"

 

The three of them clinked their bottles together. Hermione and Parkinson then took long pulls from their bottles, while Ron sipped at his. He watched as Hermione studied Parkinson as the Slytherin downed the whole bottle.

 

"Hmmm, that was good," Parksinson said with a lop-sided grin. "I was thirsty. Is there any more…?" Her voice trailed off and she blinked sleepily. Soon, her head fell into Ron’s lap.

 

"Ack!" Ron exclaimed. "What on earth…?"

 

"Shhh! Here," Hermione whispered. She looked as if she were trying to bite back a laugh. She helped Ron sit Parkinson back up, then lay her back down on the bench after Ron got up.

 

"What just…." Ron began.

 

"Shhhh," Hermione interrupted. "You’ll wake her if you aren’t careful, and if you thought she was bad when she was under the love potion, I think it will be twice as bad if she remembers everything. She would  kill you!"

 

"But …." Ron tried again.

 

"Not now," Hermione said as she plucked Parkinson’s pumpkin juice bottle from her hand. "Her bottle was laced with the antidote for the love potion. Hopefully when she wakes up, she’ll remember none of this or, at worst, it will only seem like a distant, fuzzy dream. Us getting back to the castle and out of her sight will help ensure that. Now back inside!"

 

"Hermione, I … I’m … well …. err, thanks. I owe you one," Ron said as they crept quietly back into the school.

 

"And don’t you forget it," Hermione replied with a grin and a sideways glance at Ron. "And I’m sorry, too." She stopped and looked ruefully at the red-haired teen. "I should’ve never said those things about you, especially the way I did … and especially in front of everyone like that."

 

Ron blushed and shrugged. "S’alright," he said, then he gave a lop-sided grin. "But you had me going there for a while, with Parkinson and all. For a moment, I thought you were serious about letting her have me." He shuddered.

 

"You honestly thought I would have given you up without a fight?" Hermione said with an uncharacteristic twinkle in her eye. "Even though you are a pain at times…."

 

Hermione gave Ron a squeeze and kissed him on the cheek, but then she sniffed the air with a puzzled look.

 

"Ron?" she asked. "Is there any particular reason why your robes are so damp? And why you smell like rose petals and sandalwood?"

 

Ron smiled ruefully. "It’s a long story. Let’s just say the house elves were kind enough to hide me in with the evening’s wash in the dungeons."

 

Hermione’s mouth made a little "o," then she started laughing.

 

"Har har," Ron said good-naturedly. "Now, don’t we have to get ready for tonight? And you’ll have to fill me in on what we’re doing."

 

"Ooo, you’re right, we better go!" Hermione said as she broke away and looked at her watch. "We only have about an hour! Quickly!"

 

 

****

 

Umbridge was still cursing and muttering about her lot in life, with Bane serenading her from below, when suddenly the centaur stopped mid-note, a perplexed expression on his face.

 

"Ow!" he muttered as he brushed a hand impatiently across his shoulder. "The bees are angrier than usual thissszzzz…." Bane pitched forward and his forelegs bucked, and soon the centaur was out cold. Umbridge stared in disbelief.

 

"You can come down now," Charlie said as he and Firenze appeared from behind the Quidditch stands. Charlie had his wand trained on Umbridge, and Firenze was hauling a large cart behind him.

 

"It’s about time," Umbridge said waspishly as she began to shimmy down the Quidditch pole. "And what is that … thing doing with you, anyway? I’ve had enough of his kind to last me a lifetime."

 

"You’re welcome," Charlie said dryly, keeping his annoyance in check. "And his name is Firenze. He is going to help me load Bane up in this cart and take him into the dark woods to sleep off the antidote and sleeping draught we injected him with." Charlie held up a wooden blow gun similar to Fred’s. "Believe me, you don’t want Bane to wake up here, because chances are he may start to remember what happened. Firenze assures me that he has quite a temper, and his recalling today’s events would do no one good."

 

With that, Charlie cast a Leviosa spell on the centaur, who drifted off of the ground and into the waiting cart.

 

"He’s all yours," Charlie said to Firenze.

 

"I’ll go as deep into the forests as I dare," Firenze said ruefully. "I still am considered banished."

 

"Sure you won’t need help unloading him?" Charlie asked as Umbridge fell gracelessly to the ground behind him with a loud "oof!"

 

"No, I can manage," Firenze said as he started to haul the sleeping Bane off into the forest.

 

"You certainly took long enough," Umbridge snarled as she straightened out her robes. "I suppose I should have expected nothing less from someone whose name is a disgrace to the Wizarding name!"

 

Charlie set his jaw but did not take the bait. "Come with me," he ordered as he pointed the wand at Umbridge.

 

Umbridge’s mouth flew open in outrage. "I do not have to take orders from the likes of you! How dare you point that wand at me, you traitor to your kind!"

 

"Oh, but you do have to listen to me," Charlie said with grim satisfaction. "We are going back to the castle, where some witches are waiting for you to take you back home."

 

"Home?" Umbridge said blankly.

 

"St. Mungo’s. Where you belong. Now come on, I have better things to do rather than listen to you."

 

"I’m not going back there…."

 

"You have no choice."

 

Umbridge started to reach for her wand before realizing she no longer had it with her. So she did the only other thing she could think of – run. She made a break for it towards the dark forest.

 

Zap! Umbridge disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Charlie walked over to where Umbridge had been running.

 

"Oh no you don’t," Charlie muttered as he bent over and grabbed a large toad with both hands. The toad was green with warty brown spots, and in the center of its head was a single lock of curly hair with a small, black bow.

 

"Now see here," Charlie said, and he brought the toad’s face within inches from his own. He smiled sweetly, but his eyes flashed dangerously. "We are going back to the castle now. If you even think about trying to escape in your present form, I will personally see to it that frog legs are on tonight’s menu!"

 

"Grack!" Umbridge replied in a frightened croak.

 

"Wotcher, Charlie," Tonks called from several feet away. She was again sporting the long, bubblegum pink hair. "Do you have her yet…?" She then saw the toad in Charlie’s hand, complete with its black bow, and burst out laughing.

 

Charlie held the toad in front of him. "Oh yes," he replied. "Frankly, I think she’ll be more tolerable like this. She’s ready to be shipped to St. Mungo’s, and the sooner the better."

 

****

 

Pansy awoke with a start and looked around her in puzzlement.

 

"What on earth am I doing out here," she muttered, somewhat disoriented. "And what a weird dream that was!"

 

****

 

"All right, Ginny?"

 

Ginny looked up crossly at her twin brothers. She was feeding Draco and the pigs some of the fruit that had fallen from a nearby apple tree.

 

"I am fine," she said stiffly. "But I was enjoying some quiet time with Draco, so if you don’t mind…." She then caught sight of Madam Pomfrey striding up behind the twins. "Madam Pomfrey?"

 

The healer glanced at Malfoy and nodded.

 

"Just as I thought," she said. "This will be tricky, but nothing I can’t fix."

 

"What is it?" Ginny asked, her eyes wide.

 

"Nothing major, dear," Pomfrey said in crisp, professional tones. "We just need to turn Mr. Malfoy back into a human."

 

"Oh," Ginny replied, and she watched anxiously as Pomfrey helped Malfoy up and gave him a dark red liquid to drink out of a silver tumbler. The healer then tossed two apples to the pigs, who each grabbed one and started munching contentedly.

 

"Here, Ginny," George said, and he handed her a similar tumbler. "Pumpkin juice. Thought you might be thirsty."

 

"Thanks," Ginny said, and she took the tumbler. "I was getting a bit parched." She drank the contents as her brothers anxiously watched. After she finished the bottle, Ginny blinked sleepily and fell to her side in a light doze.

 

Madam Pomfrey, meanwhile, took the empty tumbler from Malfoy and waved her wand in a circle, muttering under her breath. Soon, a pinkish orange cloud appeared at the end of her wand and enveloped Malfoy.

 

"Hee haw!" Malfoy brayed, his brown eyes looking wildly about and his ears sagging in dismay. The twins coughed at the sickeningly sweet-smelling smoke, which gave off a fragrance of overripe oranges, heavy vanilla and burnt sugar.

 

Malfoy, sans donkey head and tail, emerged from the smoke coughing and gagging.

 

"What is going on?" he snarled, then he looked at the twins. "Is this your doing, then? Couldn’t take a little joke about your sister?"

 

"The smoke was my doing," Pomfrey said firmly. "The smoke was an inconvenience you had to tolerate as part of your cure. Unless, of course, you wanted to have the head of a donkey for the rest of your life."

 

"The head of a what?" Malfoy shouted.

 

"Pity," George muttered. "I thought it fitting…."

 

"Although, really, I don’t notice much difference between Malfoy now and before," Fred added. "He’s still an…."

 

"Boys!" Pomfrey reprimanded sharply.

 

Malfoy’s hands balled into fists as he glared at the twins.

 

Pomfrey rolled her eyes as she waved her wand in an arch over the two pigs, who were grunting and squealing in dismay.

 

The pigs disappeared with a loud bang, and Crabbe and Goyle stood in their place. They stared at each other in surprise and disbelief.

 

"What … what happened?" Crabbe asked as he looked around in bewilderment.

 

"Where are we?" Goyle said. "How did we get here?"

 

"The Weasley twins and Ron Weasley cast a spell that went awry," Pomfrey said, and she looked reproachfully at the twins. "I came by to reverse it. Actually, you were here all afternoon with Miss Weasley."

 

"What?" Malfoy exclaimed, and he wrinkled his nose in disgust. "You mean I was in this god-forsaken spot all afternoon with her???" He pointed at Ginny’s prone form.

 

"You didn’t have any objections earlier," George said, goading the Slytherin. "You were rather enjoying the attentions of our sister. We saw you with your head in her lap, eating grapes and apples not so long ago!"

 

"Shhh!" Fred warned. "We don’t want to wake…."

 

"That is revolting!" Draco shouted. "Slanderous!"

 

"Boys!" Pomfrey declared. "Take it back to the castle! I’ll bring Miss Weasley…." The healer suddenly stopped and stared, a look of horror on her face.

 

For Ginny was wide awake and on her feet, and she was looking murderous.

 

"H … Hi sis," George said weakly.

 

Ginny didn’t even look at her brothers. She had all her focus on Malfoy, who continued to look as if someone had force-fed him a tumbler of Skele-Gro.

 

"What’s wrong, Weasley?" Malfoy said mockingly after a moment. "The truth hurt?"

 

"Mr. Malfoy!" Pomfrey reprimanded.

 

Ginny didn’t say a word. She calmly walked up to Malfoy, looked him in the eyes … then backhanded him. Malfoy went sprawling to the ground. Crabbe and Goyle gave pig-like squeals of amazement, after which they clamped their hands over their mouths and looked around, embarrassed.

 

"Miss Weasley!" Pomfrey said, shocked.

 

"Way to go, sis!" George hooted.

 

"Yeah, way to…." Fred started to echo, then the words died in his throat as Ginny turned to her older brothers. There were angry tears streaming down her face. She stared coldly at them for a moment, then turned and stormed back to the castle.

 

"Ginny! Wait," Fred said placatingly. He started after his sister.

 

"Oh dear," George muttered as he followed his brother. "Mum’s going to have our hides for upsetting her."

 

Malfoy picked himself off of the ground and felt his cheek, which was beginning to swell a bit.

 

"I can’t believe she had the nerve to do that," he said with a scowl. "Women!"

 

"If you ask me, Mr. Malfoy," Pomfrey said coolly, "You more than had that coming!"

 

Malfoy stared after her in shock as Pomfrey headed back to the castle.

 

"Wait until my father finds out …." Malfoy said, then he remembered. His father couldn’t exactly help him since he was indisposed at Azkaban.

 

"I dunno," Goyle said. "I don’t think your dad would be too happy to hear you were beaten by a guuurl." Crabbe snickered, but stopped hastily as Malfoy cast a withering glare at both of them.

 

"Oh, shut up," Malfoy muttered as he turned and started for the castle. Crabbe and Goyle followed, making occasional grunting sounds along the way.

 

****

 

Bane awoke with a start to find himself alone in a small clearing deep within the woods. He couldn’t remember how he arrived at this place, but he did remember the dream….

 

"By the stars," he croaked out. "That was the worst nightmare I’ve had since I was a foal! Me, in love! With … a human! Oh horrors!"

 

He shuddered, then rose to his feet and cantered back deeper into the forests, casting occasional glances behind him as he went.

 

****

 

Harry paced nervously in front of the entrance of the Ravenclaw tower. Why did I agree to do this? He thought nervously. What are people going to say when they see me with Looney Luna? And when was she going to get down here?

 

A quick glance at his watch told Harry that they were already fifteen minutes late. Harry sighed. Women! Luna Lovegood was normal in this regard, it would seem – she would insist on arriving fashionably late.

 

Then he thought back to what she had told him earlier, about her parents, when they went here….

 

"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 knew what it was like to lose a parent, and he wondered what her mother had been like. He remembered Luna saying that she watched her mother die. Blimey, but that would have an effect on anyone! Harry remembered what it was like to watch Cedric, then his godfather die before his eyes. Perhaps that was why she was so … different. Harry began to feel a pang of sympathy for Luna, and a little regret for his earlier thoughts about what people would think ….

 

The entrance to the Ravenclaw tower, a large portrait of a rather dandified-looking young gentleman wearing colorful velvets trimmed with lace, opened and Luna stepped out. Harry’s jaw dropped at the sight of her.

 

Merlin, Cliodna and Morgana! Harry thought, his eyes as round as saucers. Any thoughts of pity disappeared, although he no longer wondered what people would think of him ….

 

They’re going to think we are both stark raving mad! Harry thought.

 

Luna was wearing a white robe that almost looked like a toga, which was tied together and decorated with numerous plaid and paisley ribbons. Underneath her robe she wore what looked like white pantaloons trimmed with yellowing eyelet lace and pink ribbons. Locks of her hair were intertwined around a grapevine-like wreath in such a fashion that a Medusa would have been envious, and she had entwined blinking blue and red Christmas lights within the wreath and her hair. From her dark eyeliner and eye makeup, one might have thought she was about to perform the role of a psychotic Cleopatra. Luna was wearing a necklace of colored tissue paper that was glued together, along with her butterbeer cap necklace, and she had seven bracelets of butterbeer caps on each arm to match. On her feet she wore ankle-high red boots that looked as if they were made of plastic and appeared as if a 6-year-old dumped a box of glitter, glue, sequins and rhinestones on them.

 

"What do you think?" Luna said as she approached Harry.

 

"Ahhh … you will turn heads tonight," Harry said lamely. It was the most tactful thing he could think of to say.

 

"I can’t decide between these two pairs of earrings, though," Luna said thoughtfully as she held up her radish earrings she often wore, and another pair of earrings in the shape of yellow ducks. The ducks’ bills opened occasionally to make little quacking sounds and their little wings flapped up and down.

 

"The … radishes," Harry said. They were the lesser of the two evils, he thought with an internal shudder.

 

"Ok," Luna said mildly as she clipped the radish earrings on. She then attached the duck earrings to the grapevine wreath in her hair. Harry made a strange, choking noise as he watched the ducks flap and quack from Luna’s wild tresses.

 

"Yes, that will do," Luna said, then she turned to Harry. "Ready to go?"

 

Harry managed a weak smile as he extended his arm to her, and they both proceeded down the stairway to the Great Hall.

 

"I’m glad things have returned to normal for tonight," Luna said in her wispy tone.

 

I don’t think you know what normal means, Harry thought, but he only nodded in response. They walked in silence the rest of the way to the Great Hall.

 

Harry was right: the two of them entering the Great Hall did turn heads. It also elicited several guffaws, a lot of whispers and more than a few fingers pointed in their direction. Harry flushed but smiled bravely as he and Luna walked through the crowds of people and went to find a table.

 

He noticed Malfoy, with Parkinson on his arm and Crabbe and Goyle flanked at either side. He saw and waved to Ron and Hermoine, who were on a small raised dais in the far right hand corner of the room. The two, elegantly decked out in royal-looking robes and wearing regal crowns, smiled and waved back. Harry saw Fred and George, dressed in matching jester outfits, entertaining the crowds by conjuring flowers and having them explode into a shower of petals and glitter. He saw Ginny at a table, chatting up Seamus Finnigan and occasionally casting scathing glances in Malfoy’s direction.

 

Oh yes, Harry reflected. Things were back to normal.

 

"I knew I forgot something," Luna suddenly said, and she extracted her wand from her hairdo and tapped each of her nails in turn. When she was done, her fingernails had grown to two inches long and glowed a neon blue. "There, much better, don’t you think?"

 

"It’s … different," Harry said as he battled hard to keep a straight face.

 

Well, Harry reflected, it was as normal as things would get, anyway.

 

---Finis---

 

***************************

Notes:

 

Sweetly Sings the Donkey – children’s song. Not sure of the date or author.

 

Little Bird – From the musical "Man of La Mancha"

 

Where the Bee Sucks, So Suck I - by Robert Johnson (c. 1611) Public domain.

 

When First I Saw Thee - by Walter Porter (1632). Public domain.

 

Tamarisk - (from The Continuum Encyclopedia of Symbols) A tree or shrub. In China, a symbol of immortality. Its resin was used as a drug to prolong life.

 

Cuckoo -(from The Continuum Encyclopedia of Symbols) according to some folk belief, the number of cuckoo calls indicated the number of years a marriage will last.

 

Red rose - (from The Continuum Encyclopedia of Symbols) often a symbol for love and affection.

 

Rosemary and Rue - (from The Continuum Encyclopedia of Symbols) Both herbs were, in old days, used as funerary flowers, particularly rue.

 

Urania - (Bulfinch’s Mythology) Urania was the Greek muse for astrology.

 

Brevamare - Comes from two Latin words, brevis - brief, and amare - love. Amare, with different accents I can’t duplicate here, also can mean "bitterly."

 

Thank you, Shellebelle for beta’ing!

 

//
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