The Sugar Quill
Author: Doctor Cornelius (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Death of the Party  Chapter: Default
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The Death of the Party
The Death of the Party

Author's note: Not-for-profit fanfiction based on the works of J.K. Rowling. Thanks to GinnyPotter for improvements to a couple scenes, and to Magoo, Pack87Man, and Caitlyn for general encouragement.
 

* * *

(October 14th)
 
 

Dear Harry,

I know you asked me to the Yule Ball last year, and I don't know if you were thinking of asking me to the Halloween one this year, but I just can't. After what happened with Cedric-- and I know it wasn't your fault-- I just couldn't. I'm really sorry, Harry.

Cho
 

That's fine, I understand, Harry wrote, and gave the parchment back to Cho's owl for delivery back to the Ravenclaw table.
 

"Cho turned you down?"

"Stop reading over my shoulder, Ron."

"Any idea who you'll be taking, then?"

"No." Whose stupid idea was it to require Prefects to have a date? Harry wondered.

"Might try my sister, you know."

"Yeah… well… I don't know if I like her that way…."

"You don't have to. Just be a gentleman, and she'll have a great time."

"Oh, like you'd know about being a gentleman."

"Hermione's been teaching me."

Harry snorted.

"All right then. Just don't wait too long, mate. Don't want to end up like last year."
 

***

(October 28th, after much mental agony)

"Er… Ginny?"

"Yes, Harry?"

"I was wondering… er…."

"Yes?"

"Er… d'you have a date for the Halloween Ball yet?"

She smiled and blushed slightly. "Thank you, Harry, but I'm going with Colin Creevey."

Colin Creevey. It disturbed Harry how much this felt like a punch in the stomach. "Oh… all right, then… by the way, when did he ask you?"

"Well, actually, Harry, I asked him. It was like, I thought, 'Well, Ginny, time to grow up; can't keep waiting forever for some Prince Charming to come along.'" She determinedly avoided his eyes. "And, let's face it-- it's not like any... Prince Charmings have ever really talked to me or anything." These last words came out in a rush.

"Yeah… all right, then… I understand. Just… well, have a good time, okay?"

Another blushing smile. "Thank you, Harry."
 

***
 

"Well, Harry, it's not like I didn't tell you two weeks ago."

"Yeah, yeah… rub it in, will you?"

"Sure thing, mate. Like I said, it's not like I didn't…"

"Shut up, Ron."

Ron grinned.

"And besides, easy enough for you-- you've already got a girlfriend."

At this Hermione blushed. "Well, Harry, you could try asking Eloise Midgen. I keep telling you guys she's really nice, and…."

"No, you can't," said Neville, who had just come through the portrait hole. Now it was his turn to blush. "She's going with me." He grinned at them and headed up to the boys' dormitories.

"Let's see," said Hermione, getting out a parchment to make a list. "I'm sure we can find somebody for you. Let's see, now, Lavender's going with Seamus… Parvati's going with Dean…."

"What about Padma?" Harry wondered. He didn't really think all that much of Padma, but this was no time to be picky.

"Dean told me she was going with some seventh-year Slytherin," Ron put in. "Bit of a rebellious phase or something, Parvati figures."

Harry sighed. "Is every girl in this entire school already going with somebody?"

"Seems like it," said Hermione, writing Millicent-Crabbe on her parchment and struggling to think of more names.

"Ohhhh!" said Ron, apparently struck by inspiration. "I know who you could take!" he added in a singsongy voice.

"Really? Who?" asked Hermione, puzzled.

"I know of a girl… who's liked Harry ever since the end of second year… and I hear she was giving him advice during the tournament last year…."

"Oh!" Hermione cottoned on. "Yes, Harry, please do, it would be the best time she's had in all these years, down there in the…."

And then the realization hit Harry, leaving him horror-struck. "No," he insisted. "I am not going to the Ball with…."
 
 
 
 

***

"You never come to see me anymore," said Myrtle in her usual morose voice, scratching a ghostly pimple on her nose.

"Yeah, well… I'm here now, okay?"

"And what do you want this time?"

"Well, I… er… need a date for the Halloween Ball, and I was wondering if you… er…."

"Ooooohhh!" Myrtle looked like this was a rare treat (which it was). "I haven't been to one of those in over fifty--" She stopped. "Wait a minute, are you serious? You're not just coming to make fun of me?"

"No. I'm serious. I really need a partner for the Ball." He said this quickly and earnestly, not wishing to take the chance that Myrtle's feelings would be hurt (having past experience with the results thereof).

"Ooh... all right, then..." She stopped again, apparently having thought of something. "Maybe if you asked real nicely…."

Harry sighed. "All right, Myrtle," he said in a resigned voice. "Will you please go to the Halloween Ball with me?"

"I don't know," she said. "Maybe that wasn't polite enough. I could always go to Nearly Headless Nick's Deathday Party instead…."

She's really enjoying this, isn't she? "All right… er… what's it going to take?"

"Down on one knee, Harry."

Harry spluttered. "B-- p-- bw-- it's not like I'm asking you to marry me!"

There was a loud guffaw outside the door. "You shut up, Ron!" Harry called out.

"Do you want a date for the Ball, or not?" Myrtle pressed.

"Oh, all right."  Harry got down on one knee, ignoring the door opening behind him. "Myrtle, will you go to the Ball with me?"

"I'd be delighted to, Harry."

Ron and Hermione broke into applause. "I'm sure you'll be the life of the party," said Ron.

Harry glared at him as the predictable tears welled up in Myrtle's eyes.

"All right, then… 'the death of the party'?"

This did not help matters.
 
 

***

(October 31st)

"Oh, so you're here. I was beginning to wonder if you had forgotten."

"Myrtle, I'm only five minutes late."

"If you say so."

"All right, well, I'm here. And, well, er… okay, what am I supposed to do now?"

"Oh, that's right, you're a boy, aren't you? It figures."

"Myrtle, you're not helping…."

"Well, Harry Potter, you're supposed to offer me your arm." Harry thought she looked secretly pleased, but with ghosts it was hard to tell. (He wasn't sure it would be easy to tell with a normal girl either, but he really hadn't much way of knowing.)

"Okay, then," said Harry, offering her his right elbow. "Here you-- AUUUGGHH!!!! Your hand is like ice!!!"

Oh no, I've done it again, he thought, as the inevitable results followed….
 

***

"Hello, Myrtle," said Parvati as she, Dean, Seamus, Lavender, Ron, and Hermione met Harry and Myrtle outside Gryffindor Tower. "That is so sweet that you and Harry are going to the Ball together."

"Yeah," added Lavender. "From what Professor Trelawney said in class today, Harry should be available to move into your toilet any day now…." She and Parvati broke up giggling, accompanied by snickers from Seamus and Dean. (Ron restrained himself at a disapproving glare from Hermione. Actually, Harry was glaring disapprovingly too, but this probably made less of a difference.)

"Her track record's not that good so far, is it?" Harry reminded Parvati, continuing a fixed stare over his glasses. "Although if Malfoy keeps up his junior Death Eater ways, we might see if Myrtle takes a fancy to him tonight…."

They continued on their way to the Great Hall. "So," said Seamus, "I understand the Prefects and their partners are supposed to open the dancing?" Harry stopped short.

"Is there a problem with that, Harry?" Myrtle asked. Harry motioned for the others to go on ahead.

"I've just realized," he whispered, looking down at Myrtle's left hand, lightly touching the edge of his robes (which had been their compromise solution). "They're going to expect us to… dance."

"And your point is…?"
 

***

Whisper.

Whisper.

Whisper.

A hush slowly spread over the Great Hall. Slowly the volume swelled, the whispers now mixed with snickers, laughter, and a few outright taunts.

"Hey Potter! Couldn't find yourself a real girlfriend, could you? Where'd you pick that one up, a graveyard someplace?"

"No, Draco, that's Moaning Myrtle, from the girls' loo on the first floor. What Potter's been doing there I can't imagine." Pansy and Malfoy both broke out laughing. Harry looked nervously at Myrtle, and was surprised to find her eyes filled not with tears but with determination.

"Excuse me while I take care of something."

...

"AAAAAAAUUUGGHHHH!!!!" Malfoy's yell far exceeded Harry's when Myrtle had touched his arm.

"Myrtle… exactly where did you kic-- er, never mind."

And nobody made fun of Harry and Myrtle for the rest of the evening.
 
 

***

"Okay, so, we still have to figure out how we're going to manage the dancing."

"And whose problem is that, exactly?"

"Yes. Er, well… could you maybe… hold your hands a few inches above mine, or something?"

Myrtle looked mildly offended.

"I mean, I'm sorry, but until we find you a ghost boyfriend, this'll have to do. You sure you don't want me to bump Malfoy off for you?"

"I wouldn't have him," Myrtle replied coolly as the music started.
 

***

"May I cut in?" Dumbledore asked graciously as Harry heaved a sigh of relief.

"Ooh, dear, your hands are cold," clucked Madam Pomfrey. "It was sweet of you to come with Myrtle, and so appropriate for Halloween, but you really ought to stop by the Hospital Wing afterwards…."

"I'll manage," said Harry firmly.
 
 

***

"Thank you for a lovely evening."

"Er… you're welcome. And thanks for coming with me. And… er… well, goodnight."

...

"Aren't you forgetting something, Harry?"

"What's that?"

"Don't I get a goodnight kiss?"

//
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