The Sugar Quill
Author: Winky and Dobby (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Harry Potter and the Dominus Potion  Chapter: Prologue: The Announcement
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Disclaimer: Harry Potter and co. are the property of J. K. Rowling and Scholastic. We own nothing, though we'd love to get our hands on any or all of the Weasley boys. This story is the product of boredom during a ballroom dancing class, reminiscing about the Yule Ball in Book Four, a bunch of late nights, and a few too many peanut M&Ms.

Prologue: The Announcement

The four tables in Hogwarts' Great Hall buzzed with excitement as the last students straggled in from their classes. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, having just survived another harrowing session with Professor Snape, slid into their usual seats with the Gryffindors just in time to see Professor Dumbledore step forward from the head table.

"Ooh, you three barely made it in time for the big announcement," whispered Nearly Headless Nick dramatically, hovering near Harry's ear. "This is going to be so entertaining!"

Harry looked questioningly at Ron. "What's going on?" Ron shrugged and started to reply but was interrupted by Hermione's elbow nudging him in the ribs.

"Would you two be quiet?" she chided. "We're about to find out."

Dumbledore held up his hands and the remaining whispers died down.

"Good evening, students. Before we begin dinner I have a short announcement which I am sure you will all be glad to hear. I am very pleased to report that last year's Yule Ball was such a success that the staff and I have decided to make it an annual tradition." Most of the students cheered at this happy bit of news, but Harry only exchanged a nervous glance with Ron. Neither had quite forgotten their experience from the previous year.

When the commotion died down Dumbledore continued.

"Much as that may please you, I have another announcement which I think at least half of you will find very appealing." He smiled mysteriously and Harry could tell his eyes were twinkling. "Since some of you seemed to have a bit more trouble than others negotiating the dance floor,"--his kind gaze swept briefly in Neville's direction--"Professor McGonagall has agreed to conduct a course on the finer points of dance. Those of you who plan to attend this year's Ball would be well advised to take advantage of this opportunity. Now, I can see you're anxious to discuss this matter with your friends, so without further ado, let dinner begin."

There was a flurry of noise as the dinner dishes appeared and everyone began talking at once. Harry noticed that most of the girls looked extremely excited, but he gathered that Neville's miserable expression mirrored his own. He turned to Ron with a weak attempt at a smile.

"Well, how bad could it be?" Arms crossed, Ron raised his eyebrow and stared back at him fixedly. "Yeah, that's what I thought," Harry sighed.

Hermione was eyeing them both with a mixture of amusement and incredulity. "What is wrong with you two?" she demanded. "I think this class could be a lot of fun." The boys were unconvinced, and Hermione sighed and turned to Harry. "Don't you see? This is your chance to learn so you don't have to worry about embarrassing yourself. Isn't that what you were so afraid of last year?"

Harry nodded reluctantly. "I guess you're right," he agreed with more optimism than he felt.

"Of course I'm right," Hermione smiled. She noticed Ron's skeptical frown and waved a finger at him defiantly. "You'll see." The redhead made a face at Harry, but wisely opted to keep his comments to himself.

//
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