Valentine’s Day arrived followed by the dance that evening. The students wanted to dress up for it so were allowed to go on a trip to Hogsmeade to pick up any gowns and such for the ball a couple weeks before. The Order was there, along with a few select aurors. Harry and Mandy joined them as well, even though they already had their formals for the dance. Even Dumbledore made himself be seen in the all-wizarding town, making sure all was safe for the kids. He had McGonagall stay at the castle while he was out.
The reason Harry and Mandy didn’t need formals was due to the fact Harry had taken Mandy shopping a week prior to the Hogsmeade day so they could buy matching new clothes for the dance. Harry insisted on paying, plus he took them to an expensive part of Muggle London so they could buy nice Muggle attire. Mandy preferred the Muggle gowns and Harry preferred the Muggle men’s suits over wizarding robes.
Harry also took her to Gringotts afterwards so she could pick out some fancy jewelry from his vaults that went with her new dress. Both the Potter and Black vaults had nice ones to choose from – rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, the whole works. In the Black vault, Harry had to do a lot of testing for dark curses before touching the pieces though. Luckily, Mandy found what she needed in the Potter vault.
The night of the dance, they both showed up about ten minutes late. The reason they were late was due to how attractive they both were to each other when they saw how the other one looked all spiffed up. They immediately started snogging but had to break it off before they got too carried away and missed the ball.
They rechecked themselves in the mirror, and then had Dobby take them to the castle entrance.
Draco Malfoy showed up to the ball about five minutes late and he had a seventh year Slytherin on his arm. He wanted to make an entrance. They both were dressed in robes of the highest of wizarding fashion. Draco’s was made of acromantula silk and he was quite proud of his station in life as the son of one of the richest purebloods. He had bought his date’s gown for her so they would look their best and outdo everyone else. He wanted to make sure everyone knew he could afford the best and not question that he was better than them. He doubted anyone would look as good as he and his date.
A few people turned and watched them when they entered, taking in their nice robes.
However, Malfoy was greatly disappointed when Harry and Mandy entered the Great Hall a few minutes later arm in arm. All eyes turned toward them and they heard a few gasps from the crowd as silence invaded the whole Hall.
What they saw was Harry, with a lean but muscular six foot frame all decked out in a black tux with tails. His white shirt was gleaming under all that silky black. Mandy, who was connected at his elbow and stood around five foot seven barefoot, was dressed in a long white strapless gown with a snug-fitting black bodice that accentuated her assets. The dress sparkled all over as it reflected the light. She had on black three-inch heels and thin black silk and sparkly lace gloves that reached to just under her elbow.
However, her dress and gloves weren’t the only things that sparkled. On her right hand was a platinum ring with a large diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds. It stood out against the black backdrop of the gloves and managed to catch the lighting in the room when she entered. On her left wrist, was a shiny diamond-studded bracelet. Around her neck and hanging down enticingly close to her cleavage was a stunning diamond-encrusted necklace that matched the ring and bracelet. It was breathtaking to say the least. Also hanging from her ears were long diamond earrings that matched the set. Her dark brown hair was done up on top of her head with a diamond hair ornament completing the set and helping to hold her hair in place. With her hair out of the way, it left a clear view of the earrings and necklace.
There was complete silence and everyone just gawked at them.
Harry finally said, “Sorry we’re late. Please carry on.”
This seemed to bring people out of their stupor and the noise level went back to what it was before they entered. Most were commenting on the newly arrived couple’s attire and all the diamonds Mandy was sporting.
Hermione and Ron came hurrying over to them. Ginny dragged Dean with her and was coming from further away at the drink table.
“You guys look amazing!” Hermione gushed.
“You and Ron look rather smart yourselves,” said Harry with Mandy nodding.
“Harry, is that all Muggle attire you’re wearing?” asked Ron.
“Yep, we prefer these clothes to the wizarding robes. I like the style better.”
“Well, you both look absolutely smashing!” he said.
“Thank you, Ron,” replied Mandy.
“You got that right, brother,” said Ginny loudly when she came up with Dean. “You guys are the best looking couple at the ball.” Malfoy heard her remark and scowled. She then began walking around them, all the while dragging Dean by the hand with her. She wanted to see all sides of the couple. She was intrigued by Harry’s tails and the dress on Mandy. She made it all the way around them in a circle. Dean was still being dragged along.
“Very nice,” he said when they stopped circling.
Harry smirked at Ginny’s behavior. She was obviously intrigued by Muggle ball gowns.
The dance was fun, although Harry was reluctant to let anyone dance with Mandy and he wasn’t interested at all in dancing with all the girls that were asking him. Mandy wasn’t pleased with them either. They did switch with Ron and Hermione once, Ginny and Dean once, and even Neville and Hannah once, but that was all. The rest of the dances they enjoyed together, except for the one time Malfoy and his date danced up next to them and complained.
He was just upset that he was upstaged and by Harry, no less.
“Look at you, Potter. All you’re doing is trying to show off. Too bad you were too stupid to realize filthy Muggle clothes won’t cut it.”
Harry slowly turned his head and looked at Malfoy.
“How old are you, Malfoy? Five?” Harry asked him. “Grow up and quit bothering me. You’re nothing but a nuisance, …like a fly buzzing around,” he said waving his hand around. He then leaned toward Draco. “Watch it before you get swatted.”
Harry then danced and led Mandy away from them. While they were dancing, Harry had a precognition. He closed his eyes and drew Mandy closer to him. In the scene that played out for him, he saw Malfoy dance closer to them again and use his wand hidden between him and his partner. He cast a spell that would cause horrible itching.
Harry decided to let him play it out.
While they danced, Harry put up an invisible body shield that covered his whole backside from feet to head. He made sure to keep himself between Mandy and Malfoy at all times. When he felt the spell hit his shield, he stopped dancing.
“Excuse me, Mandy, my sweetheart. I’ll be right back,” he said with an exasperated look.
Harry turned quickly, let his shield drop, and went straight for Malfoy who was trying to put away his wand. When Harry reached them, he tapped on the girl’s shoulder.
“May I cut in?” he asked politely.
The seventh year girl looked confused, as did Malfoy, since normally the man taps on the other man’s shoulder, not the girl’s. However, she did part from Malfoy slightly, wondering what he was going to do. His next move more than answered her question.
Harry grabbed Malfoy by the lapels and practically lifted him off the floor. His shoes did not have much traction as Harry shook him and spoke to the git in a growl. Malfoy’s date backed away. While Harry was shaking him quite hard, Malfoy lost control of his wand and it fell clattering to the floor.
No one could hear clearly what Harry was saying to Malfoy since he was practically growling, but there was no mistaking the intent behind the shaking. The music quit playing and everyone stopped and stared at the spectacle that was being played out before them. A few of the professors rushed over to see what the problem was.
“Unhand him at once, Potter,” warned Snape.
Harry paused from shaking him and talking when Snape said that. Still holding onto Malfoy’s robe, he moved and held Malfoy out of the way for a moment so he could see Snape.
“When. I’m. done, Professor,” he answered slowly and with plenty of menace in his voice.
Harry then easily pulled Malfoy back in front of him.
“Do you understand me?” he growled out a little louder this time so the professors could hear him. He shook Malfoy again while he asked.
The blond-haired, pompous git nodded his head in a stunned fashion as soon as Harry stopped shaking him.
“Good,” Harry growled then let him go.
Malfoy promptly fell to the floor and sat there. Harry raised his hand and Malfoy’s wand flew into it.
“Here’s the twit’s wand,” he said handing it to Dumbledore. “He had the nerve to insult me and Mandy then waited until my back was turned to hit me with a spell.”
“What spell, Mr. Potter?” asked McGonagall.
“I’m not sure. I didn’t see it. I did have a shield up though so it didn’t reach me. I’m just glad it wasn’t an Unforgiveable.”
“Come off it, Potter. Draco wouldn’t use an Unforgiveable,” Snape said with a snarl.
“How am I suppose to know that? He acts just like his father, like a pompous Death Eater git!”
“Why were you shaking him so hard, Harry, and what did you actually say to him?” asked Dumbledore.
“Nothing much. I was just trying to convince the prat to grow up. I also warned him that if he ever attacks me again, I’m going to stop playing nice with him.”
“Potter, where is your proof that Draco actually cast a spell at you?” asked Snape.
“What proof would you like, Professor? We can check his wand, he can confess, or his dance partner here could offer her eyewitness testimony. Maybe even someone else saw the spell. We have a whole dance floor full of people.”
“Did any of you see Mr. Malfoy cast a spell at Mr. Potter before the incident?” asked Dumbledore to the room.
Draco’s date was looking down at the floor.
“Aren’t you going to speak up?” Harry asked the girl quietly.
She just continued to stare at the floor.
“I saw a flash on Harry’s back that looked like a spell hitting a shield,” said Michael Corner.
“Thank you, Mr. Corner,” said Dumbledore. “Anyone else?”
No one else spoke up.
“That proves your shield was hit with a spell, Potter, so we know a spell was cast, but it doesn’t prove it was Draco who did it,” said Snape. “If you had your back to him then you didn’t see him cast the spell either.”
“He was right behind me.”
“You still didn’t see him.”
“Really, Professor?” Harry asked. “This is where you’re going to go with this? You’re going to protect this worthless piece of excrement to your dying breath? Do you not care that he will die an early death because of it?”
“What do you mean, Mr. Potter?” asked McGonagall worriedly, since she was shocked at his statement.
“I can’t believe you guys don’t see this. Draco Malfoy is basically a child, a spoiled, over-indulged child. His parents spoiled him rotten, giving him anything and everything he ever wanted. Then he comes to Hogwarts and still gets away with wrong doings. Why? Because Professor Snape here can’t see the writing on the wall. Not to mention, the Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress have failed to do their duty as well with this overgrown child,” he finished looking at them pointedly.
“Is there a point to this diatribe, Potter?” asked Snape. The Headmaster and McGonagall were shocked at the accusation and were looking back at him carefully now.
“Please explain, Harry,” said Dumbledore patiently.
“Here’s my point, professors. Because Malfoy here has never really had to suffer any consequences for his actions, he believes he’s untouchable. You basically have enabled him, Professor Snape. As long as you make sure he avoids punishment for his wrongdoings then why would he ever learn to stop? Seeing you doing this to the poor child should have alerted the Headmaster and Deputy so they took that responsibility out of your hands. Now, unless he learns otherwise, he’s going to be just like his Death Eater dad and then he’s going to die just like his Death Eater dad.”
Dumbledore and McGonagall were actually thinking it over, but not Snape.
“You still haven’t proven that Draco cast the spell,” Snape drawled.
“Fine.” Harry whipped out his wand and touched it to Draco’s wand, which Dumbledore was still holding. The itching jinx showed as the last spell cast. “Itching spell? Were you just trying to get me and Mandy to leave, Malfoy? You risked your life for an itching spell? You are definitely a child. Care to confess?”
Malfoy shook his head so Harry turned to Malfoy’s date.
“Now, it’s your turn. You were dancing with him when he cast the spell. How about you just tell the truth now?”
“Miss Quintin,” said Dumbledore. “Did you see Mr. Malfoy cast that spell at Mr. Potter?”
“No sir,” she said looking up then back down again quickly.
Snape looked triumphant.
“That’s a lie and you know it,” Harry said real low. “Perhaps a few drops of Veritaserum on your tongue will get some honest answers out of you.”
Her eyes got real big.
“We do not use Veritaserum on students, Mr. Potter,” said McGonagall.
“She’s seventeen! She’s an adult.”
“We still don’t use it on students,” she said.
Irena Quintin looked relieved.
“Fine, I’ll take her to the aurors. They won’t have a problem since she’s an adult.” He turned back to the Slytherin, who had really big eyes again now. “Amelia Bones and I are pretty good friends. First name basis actually. You know her don’t you? Director of Magical Law Enforcement? I bet if I asked her real nice, she would ask you all kinds of questions. Not just if Malfoy cast the spell, but how much you were involved as well. Did you go along with it? You know, those kinds of questions. I bet she could even think of some extras to ask you or get her aurors to think up some.” He stared at her for a couple seconds. “I’m free tomorrow. Be ready,” he said then turned to leave. He only made it three steps.
“Wait!” she said.
“Yes?” asked Harry turning back.
“Draco cast the spell. He just wanted to ruin their night so they would leave sooner. That’s why he used an uncommon itching spell that’s difficult to remove.”
Snape now had a sour look on his face. Draco just lowered his head.
“I’m done here then,” said Harry. “I’ll leave the rest up to you two,” he said pointing to Dumbledore and McGonagall. “Please, please, assign Malfoy punishment yourselves. Do not give Professor Snape that responsibility again. He’s proven he can’t do what’s best for Malfoy. The boy is almost seventeen so it may be too late for him. However, I’ve always thought you should keep trying as long as you have the opportunity.”
Harry looked down at Malfoy for a second. He was still sitting on the floor with his nice robes torn and all in a mess.
“Remember what I said, Malfoy!”
Malfoy jumped a bit but settled back down. Harry then walked over to Mandy and asked if she was ready to go since he was no longer in the mood. She nodded and took his arm. Harry turned them back toward Draco before leaving.
“Well I guess you get your wish after all, Malfoy. We’re leaving. Happy now?”
They turned and headed out the doors of the Great Hall and when they were in an alcove where no one or a portrait could see them, Harry faded them to his chamber.
They both changed in their own closets, then climbed into Harry’s bed and snuggled close. Harry was still thinking about Malfoy and all the stupid things he’d done over the years. Mandy, saw how distracted he was so started kissing him on the side of his head and worked her way down his jaw and neck. She then went back up and sucked on his earlobe for a bit while her breath caressed his ear.
She eventually gave that up and moved back down again. She planted kisses all over his face, his neck, his shoulder, and his chest. When she got to his stomach, Harry couldn’t even remember that stupid git’s name. ”What was it again?” he asked himself. Then he gave it up and just enjoyed another perfect ending to a semi-perfect day.
The next morning, after some great nighttime activities, the paper brought some bad news.
While the school was enjoying the dance and festivities, Voldemort, with his small team of followers, attacked Azkaban and released the Death Eaters locked up there. He also released Gus, the assassin, and gave the dementors their freedom from the prison if they would only serve him. They decided that was a better deal and left Azkaban.
The Great Hall was all a buzz about the news. What was missing in the news was the actions Gus took after he was released. He apparated away at the first opportunity. He was good at making getaways so had no problem escaping from the group that broke him out. After a few well placed apparitions, he was good to head home.
He certainly had no wish to work for the Dark Lord again. He saw how that ended the first time. Plus, after what the Potter kid did to him, he had no wish to be on the opposite end of that wizard again. He still had no idea how the boy did what he did. How he knew was the big question. Given the young man’s abilities, he was sure the Dark Lord would have his hands full and Gus had no desire to get in the middle of that.
Of course, the question now for him was what could he do for the rest of his life. He certainly couldn’t be an assassin any longer, not with his hands shaking when he held a wand. He had a lot of savings to help while he figured things out. But, he would need to make additional money in order for it to last for the rest of his life. In the past, he had never been that frugal with his funds. He always had more coming in. Times were changing.
Would he have to make an honest living now? Things were starting to point in that direction, he feared. However, he feared Harry Potter a lot more so he was determined to not run into him again. He always thought all those stories about the Boy-Who-Lived were just made up garbage, that there was no way a kid that young could accomplish all the things they claimed he did in the books. Now, he wasn’t so sure about that. There was definitely something special about this Harry Potter.
Meanwhile, back at Hogwarts, Harry was staring at the paper, pondering it carefully. He realized that now that Voldemort had a larger following again, there was likely to be more activity from the Death Eaters. Somehow he needed to locate where they would be and take them out. Looking up and over at the Slytherin table, he didn’t like the smug looks on several of their faces.
He was brought out of his thoughts when Mandy squeezed his thigh. Harry put the paper down and looked at her. She looked so beautiful staring at him that he leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the lips. She smiled at him when he finished.
“Yes?” he asked her.
“You better eat something before we have to go to class.”
“Oh, right. Thanks. Sorry, I got a little distracted.”
“You can worry about those Death Eaters another day. Today you have classes.”
“Very true, my dear. Pass the bacon, please.”
Harry took his mind off the Death Eater problem for a while and just enjoyed breakfast with Mandy and his friends. However, by the time classes were over for the day, he was right back thinking about it. When he shared his worries with Mandy that night over tacos, she was the one that came up with a possible solution.
She suggested since Harry had so much money that he should chat with Amelia Bones about putting bounties on the heads of the Death Eaters. If Voldemort could hire an assassin then why not Harry? If Harry offered to front the money then they should be agreeable. This way trained bounty hunters and assassins would hopefully get involved.
“Plus, if the bounties were dead or alive, then perhaps the Death Eater problem would be solved permanently,” she offered.
“I think I like that idea, Mandy. I’m not experienced enough to know how to track them all down, but those types of people would be. Perhaps you’re right. We just might be able to solve that little problem and keep our wands out of it.”
“What about the dementors?” Mandy asked then took a bite.
“Good question,” he replied looking at her lovely face as she chewed on a bite of a stuffed taco. He thought about it for a second. “I wonder if my library has any information on how to get rid of them, instead of just running them off with a patronus. Surely, there’s some way to do that.” Harry then took a bite himself.
“I guess we’ll be researching in the library after dinner then,” she said.
“I guess we will. Want another one?”
“No. I’ll be good to finish all of this one.”
“Suit yourself,” he said then grabbed some more fixings and made another one for himself.
She smiled at him even though her mouth was full of another bite.
The night before, Harry sent Hedwig off with a letter to Amelia requesting a private meeting to discuss an important matter. He also asked if they could work around his class schedule, which he included. Hedwig returned with a reply at lunch the next day.
When she came through the entry for owls, Harry noticed her right away. He also noticed something was wrong with her. She was flying a little strange and she made a bit of a rough landing, which was very unusual for her. She had the reply for Harry from Amelia attached to her right leg but she was bleeding from the upper portion of her left leg. It looked like she was nicked by a cutting curse.
“HEDWIG!” Harry yelled when he saw the blood. He picked her up and held her close.
“Let me see, Harry,” said Mandy. “I can help her.”
Harry gently turned her over and held her like a baby so they could see the wound better. Hedwig was practically passed out but knew she was safe now in Harry’s arms. Mandy looked at it carefully. Harry removed the letter from her right leg and pocketed it.
“It definitely looks like she was hit with a cutting curse. I’ll fix it but she lost a lot of blood, Harry.”
Harry just nodded. Mandy took her wand and cast a spell that healed the cut. She then cast another spell to clean up all the blood on Hedwig and Harry then checked the cut again now that she could see it better. It looked good.
Many people were now standing around looking on.
“Okay, she’s all healed up but I’m concerned about all the blood loss. She lost a lot.”
Harry stood up with her.
“Where are you going, Harry?”
“I’m righ’ here, Harry.”
Harry turned around and saw Hagrid standing right behind them. He must have come over when he saw Hedwig was hurt.
“What do I do, Hagrid? Mandy fixed her cut but she lost a lot of blood. I can’t lose her, Hagrid,” he said with tears in his eyes.
“You’re doin’ righ’ good with her now, Harry, and she trusts yeh. See how she’s restin’ in yer arms without any worries?”
Harry looked down at her and nodded.
“Folla me, Harry. We’ll get’er all setup and all comfy like and she’ll be good as new in no time a’ tall.”
Harry nodded again. He was afraid he couldn’t speak without crying. Hagrid took off at a slower pace then normal with Harry right behind. Mandy left as well after she grabbed their bags and shrunk them. She caught up with them and put her hand on Harry’s shoulder to give him comfort.
They walked all the way down to Hagrid’s cabin where he quickly made up a soft bed for Hedwig in a large hanging basket and had Harry lay her down in it. Harry gently placed her in the soft bedding and stroked her head, neck, and back a little bit.
“Are you sure she’ll be okay, Hagrid?” he asked.
“She’ll be fine, Harry. She just needs to get her strength back after losin’ all that blood. I’ll watch after her. I’ll hang her basket up out the way and check on her a lot.”
Harry went back to petting Hedwig and saying good-bye for now.
“Thanks, Hagrid,” said Mandy. “We really appreciate it. Harry is very attached to Hedwig and I understand you were the one that gave her to him.”
“I did. It was for his eleventh birthday. He weren’t no bigger than nothin’ when I took him to Diagon Alley. He’s growed a might since then.”
“Yes, he was mighty cute back in first year but he is one handsome devil now.”
“I seem to recall you were cute as a button in first year, my dear,” said Harry joining the conversation. “Now you’re so beautiful, I can barely take my eyes off of you.”
“Harry’s handsome like his father James an’ Mandy’s beautiful just like Alison, her mum,” said Hagrid.
“Thank you, Hagrid,” replied Mandy.
“You two make a fine lookin’ couple.”
“Hagrid, I really appreciate you taking care of Hedwig for me. I wouldn’t trust her with anyone else.”
“Glad I could help. Don’t ya worry none now. I’ll take great care of her and you can come by anytime you want to see her, Harry. No worries ’bout that.”
“We’d better get to class, Harry.”
“Right. Bye Hagrid.”
“Bye, you two.”
Harry and Mandy walked together back to the castle. Mandy was holding his left hand and she had her other hand on his upper arm so she could be closer to him. They walked in silence in the cold February air. Harry was looking down as they walked. You could tell he was deep in thought. Mandy would glance at him periodically.
They made it all the way to class before she remembered shrinking their bags and pocketing them before they left the Great Hall. Harry never even noticed he didn’t have his books are supplies until she handed them to him.
Turns out they weren’t late for class. They actually never got enough to eat for breakfast. Most of the students were waiting outside the Charms classroom before it was time to start. They were asking about Harry’s owl and if she was going to be alright. Mandy answered the questions and did most of the talking. Harry would just nod in agreement sometimes.
“I hear Potter was starting to cry over his stupid owl,” said Goyle.
Harry had been looking down this whole time but his head shot up when he heard that.
“I heard he was all misty-eyed about it,” said Crabbe.
The other Slytherins were slowly moving back away from the two knuckleheads. Harry was leaning against the wall but stood up straight and walked over to in front of the two idiots. Even though Harry was six foot, the two bookends were about four inches taller than him, twice as wide, and quite a bit more muscled.
They just looked at him dumbly when he stopped in front of them. Harry just stared at them for a few seconds at first.
“Are you boys sure you want to do this? So far it’s been rather childish and nothing really bad has been said or done. I’m willing to drop it right now if you are. Unless of course, it was one of you who tried to kill my owl. …I will kill whoever did that.”
Everyone started looking at everyone else when he said that.
“Why would we want to hurt your owl?” asked Crabbe. Goyle looked just as confused, although they usually looked that way.
“That’s what I thought. So, can we just drop it? I’m not in the mood.”
They both looked at each other.
“Sure,” said Goyle.
“We’ll drop it,” said Crabbe.
“Great!” Harry said then turned to go back to Mandy.
As soon as he turned, he had a precognition.