Chapter 16: Pre-wedding plan
Ginny woke up feeling absolutely excited.
"Today is the day... THE DAY! In less than twelve hours I will be Mrs Potter..."she thought, and felt that nothing could EVER ruin this glorious day.
They had arrived back to Hogwarts very late yesterday – it was almost bed time. She and Harry went to visit the Burrow along with James and Lily. They had a lovely evening together and spent most of the time talking, discussing possible arrangements after they were married. They all decided, that Ginny would move in with Harry into his room at the Cottage following the wedding (another Potter family tradition)– something Harry whole-heartedly agreed on. The problem with transportation from and to Hogwarts before and after lessons would be solved by side-along apparation with Harry or Fidus – the latter of which would enable her straight into the castle. Though they didn´t tell anyone outside those present at the party about the plan of getting married today (Harry feared complications), she was unsure if they could keep their marriage a secret for a long period of time. She was not sure she would even WANT to in any case. She was so happy and didn´t want to hide it. In fact, her excited state would´ve made it impossible to fall asleep yesterday if not for the special draught that Harry had made for her.
However her final morning in her dormitory room did NOT go without trouble and as she moved to the Great Hall for breakfast along with her fumming roommates, the girls saw a figure standing at its door waiting there. Her roommates - Abbigail, Morania and Patricia all glared the person, but Demelza gave him a small smile, one he returned before his dream girl moved in and gave him a passionate "good morning" kiss.
"Let me guess... the "slimy snake" issue again?"he asked lazily, eying the Gryffindor girls as he lead her by the hand to the Slytherin table.
Ginny grinned slyly at him.
"Yup. Turnes out I´ve had a little stowaway in my backpack."
Harry swiftly put two and two together.
"Oh no... Hazumi..."he goaned – he guessed as much, seeing how much Ginny played with him at the Cottage, the ever-happy little Bouncehop instantly took a shine to his fianceé.
"Sweet little git. Not even my old Pygmy Puff was this adorable."she giggled, recalling her old pet Arnold.
"Where is he now?"asked Harry in mild-exaspiration.
"I sent him back home with Fidus."she informed, putting Harry´s worries to rest.
He gave her an affectionate smile.
"He loves you, Gin. As much as he loves Naja. He told me as much yesterday before we left for the Burrow. I´ve been worried he might do something stupid."
"He loves Naja?!"she exclaimed, completly startled by this piece of news.
He gave a rougish grin.
"I see it coming eventually. For a while now in fact. Haven´t you noticed how close he is to her? I´m sure Naja will notice as well... in time. I think this will be interesting. As far as I know their two species have never lived together. The cross-breeding should produce an interesting offspring – maybe even a new species."he said in a voice that barely concealed his excitement.
"Oh, just say it, Potter. You fancy yourself breeding a new snakie like your ancient hero – High priest Imhotep."
Harry fixed her a surprised look.
"What do you think I did with your dear Mum as we strolled around Godric´s Hollow. She had a milion stories about you for me to hear. Including the bedtime stories she used to read you."she said as they sat down next to Angus and Susan, who were in happy conversation.
"What are you two on about? How was the visit to Lennox Manor, Susie?"asked Ginny as soon as they sat down.
Susan giggled again.
"It has been a ton of fun. I have to say, that I have never met wackier Muggles."
Harry gave Angus a half-curious, half-humorous look.
"We found Pop sleeping in the cellar-lab over his research. Didn´t even know what time it was. He thought it was still midnight."said Angus with a chuckle.
"Let me guess... he said something like "We sure need windows in here. I could see into the soil - moles live there, they sleep during daytime so I´ll know its day.""said Harry humorously.
Both Ginny and Susan laughed.
"That was EXACTLY what he said."exclaimed Susan with a chortle.
"Well... luckily Susie wasn´t too horrified by our manor. With me gone, the place is quite the mess. Pop, Rog and August are too busy with research to clean the house."explained Angus, mostly for Ginny´s benefit.
"You can say that again. On the other hand, your Dad and Roger seem to take better care of the animals than the house. I understand though... those two little tiger cubs were so adorable."
Ginny raised an eyebrow, but Harry couldn´t help but chuckle.
"They brought their work home again, as per ussual."
Angus gave him a sly grin.
"Pop was celebrating like mad. Apparently the Zoo and the Institute finally prefered him for the project instead of McRushley. Its partly thanks to that, that he agreed on having your wedding on in Lennox Manor."
Susan giggled like mad while Harry roared with laughter.
"Please don´t say that name again, Angus. I´ve heared it a milion times yesterday."she said, shaking her head in good humor.
"McRushley is Pop´s competitor in work. From what I know, they have been rivals since their schooldays. Pop´s a bit obsessed with him in my opinion."explained Angus to a bewildered Ginny.
"That´s an understatement. Heh... anything and everything that ever goes wrong is his fault in your Dad´s eyes."chortled Harry.
"Bingo. Well, we took care of the house and Susie won Pop´s admiration when he saw her feeding the cubs."said Angus, looking at the blushing girl with undeniable affection.
He felt that the image of his lovely fianceé, feeding the tiny cubs with a simple milk-bottle warmed his heart into volcanic temperatures.
"Aaaand I would also hazard a guess, that Pura had enjoyed her company as well, right?"asked Harry slyly.
Angus couldn´t surpress the small chuckle.
"Well...yes. Though he scared her a bit at first..."he started, but felt silent as Susan shot him a mock-glare.
"Of course he did. I was expecting the tiny kitten from the photograph. NOT a full-grown black panther jumping on you the moment we came trough the front door."she said, half-scolding him.
Angus gave her a boyish grin.
"Well... he missed me. But don´t worry, Susie. I´m sure you´ll recieve the very same affection today when we come trough the door again."he said, wiggling his eyebrows.
Now Ginny giggled too.
"I see, that I´m not the only one around here who gets treated to instant affection from her fianceé´s pets."she said, her mind still on Hazumi.
"We all have a LOT to learn from our animal bretheren."said Angus sagely, spreading his arms wide to general amusement..
"Oh... in that case..."said Susan, leaning closer to her precious animal-tamer, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
"...I should take a leaf out of Pura´s book then."
Angus´ eyes went wide as she lay her lips on his, the sweet, gentle, ultimate-level loving kiss once more prompting the volcano in his heart to explode.
Just then, as the owls began to swoop in delivering their post, Draco walked into the Hall along with Torie. Both were in exceptionally high spirits – in fact, they were positively howling with laughter as they sat down. Harry at once greeted the pair of them happily.
"Aaaand here´s our dream-pair. So tell me Dray... how goes the Malfoy-taming?"asked Harry with a mischievous grin.
Draco and Astoria exploded in laughter.
"You should´ve SEEN their faces, Harry... that was priceless..."chortled Draco.
"Apparently the girl was up-the-wall in a few seconds."giggled Torie.
The three plus Angus roared in laughter, but Susan and Ginny exchanged confused looks.
"What are you snakes on about?"asked Ginny, loking from Harry to the giggling pair.
"Shall I tell you, or shall I leave the task to Torie? As I understand it, its not really my secret to tell and I believe that you and Torie quite enjoy your girl-talks."asked Harry, wiggling his eyebrows mischievously.
Ginny gave him a small glare, to which he couldn´t help but give a small chuckle.
"I´ll have you know, Mr Potter, that I expect my husband to be the first to bring ANY news to me."
Torie gave the pair a sly grin.
"I don´t mind, big brother. I have other things to talk about with Ginny."
Harry gave her a mild-curious look.
"Like what, may I ask...?"
Just then a loud shriek rang trough the Great Hall. Fixing their sights at the source – the Gryffindor Table, the gang saw Hermione embrace Ron tearfully, Ron barely holding in his tears as the two letters were laying infront of them.
"What the...?"breathed Ginny, but at the very same time a loud scream rang from the staff table.
Professor Burbage was eying a letter in her hand and at once threw a happy look on Severus, who was staring at HIS letter with a shocked face. In one instant, he set the letter down on the table and fixed a certain Slytherin a look mixed with shock and concern. Ignoring the relieved tears of Professor Sinistra, Albus took Severus´ letter and read it. He fixed an overly shocked look at Draco – the very same look that Hermione shot him, dispite her tears – a look of utter concern.
Before Ginny could even ask what was all this about an owl dropped a fresh copy of the Daily Prophet onto the table. Beating anyone else to it, she grabbed it and instantly a photo of a smug looking Draco Malfoy was grinning at her.
September 26, 1997
Interesting appointment! A seventeen-year-old wizard in charge of The Vigilanteé Task Force
A most ineresting development in the case of the newly formed Vigilanteé Task Force has risen. It seems, that the Minister for Magic had a change-of-heart as it were about the leadership of the Task Force, made to bring the mysterious Masked Wizard to justice. In an enigmatic and some might say – unwise act, the Minister had appointed a new wizard as the Head of this task force instead of the Dark Force Defence League´s Octavius McLaggen.
"I have come across a more... shall we say, better-suited candidate. His help and experience is most appretiated. As is his resolve to end this masked menace, once and for all."said the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge.
Many at the Ministry at once voiced their dissaprooval, as the appointment concerns a SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD young wizard.
Young Draco Malfoy, 17, pure-blood, had been appointed to the position by the Minister after his meeting with his advisors.
"Young Mr Malfoy had proved himself most capable during the second reign of You-know-who, when he successfully worked as a double agent in the Junior Death Eater division. It is thanks to HIM, that the Juniors were all identified and captured. He is also an accomplished duelist and with his inteligence and skill he is the perfect person to lead the Task Force."said Madam Athena Kellen, head of the Repopulation Act Office and one of the Minister´s leading advisors.
The Task Force itself had taken to their new leader with much respect, many knowing him or his family personally.
"We very much welcome his leadership. We are completly sure, that we are in good and capable hands."said Melania Yaxley, 26 – a member of the ten-member Task Force.
"As the new Head of the Vigilanteé Task Force, I vow to do anything in my vast power to ensure, that justice will prevail."said Draco Malfoy with a look of pure resolve.
It is certain, that our charizmatic young hero will definitely have all the backing he needs. His deputy-head is none other than his fianceé - Miss Deianira Kellen, 25, pure-blood. A Ministry insider had informed us, that their relationship is filled with passionate flames. It is now very likely, that this extraordinary pair may surpass the prowess of the Legendary Auror Pair – Frank and Alice Longbottom.
The mysterious Masked Menace would do better to turn himself in to the authorities, for it seems that his days of terrifying the Wizarding Population are coming to an abrupt end.
Ginny set the newspaper down, looking at Draco in shock.
"You... how...?"she stammered.
Before Draco could answer, they heared his name called. As they looked up, they saw Hermione there, tear-stains on her cheeks and a letter in her hand.
"Draco Malfoy... YOU are responsible for this?"she asked, throwing the letter on the table.
Draco didn´t even have to look at it to know what it contained. He shot a smug smirk at her. Torie reached for the newspaper and started to flick trough it, apparently uninterested.
"Why... yes, I believe I am, Miss Granger... or should I call you... Mrs Weasley?."he said, sounding completly proud of himself as she turned beet-red.
With a gasp of realization, Ginny had reached for the letter and read it, with Susan looking over her shoulder.
Dear Miss Granger
It is our duty inform you, that there has been a mistake during your matching-up. The Relationship Counsil had deemed your relationship with Mr Draco Malfoy,17, pure-blood, as UNPRODUCTIVE.
As per clause 7 of the Repopulation Act, this engagement fails to achieve its potential and social worth to the law and is instantly ANNULLED.
As per clause 8 of the Repopulation Act, in such a case a replacement is selected – a better suited individual, aprooved by the Relationship Counsil.
We are pleased to inform you, that after searching your personal history records and consulting our advisor, we have found you the perfect husband.
You are hereby engaged to Mr Ronald Weasley, 17, pure-blood.
Please be aware of the marriage deadline – 31st December, this year. You are also expected to produce at least one offspring within the next two years.
Please be aware that failiure to comply with this will result in a life-sentance in Azkaban Prision.
If you have any questions, please contact the Repopulation Act Office.
Cassiopeia Kellen, deputy-head of the Repopulation Act Office
Ginny looked up at Hermione, a happy smile forming on her face – her best female friend would become a part of the family. Hermione, though more than happy about marrying Ron, was still looking at Draco and Astoria in deep concern.
"Draco, you... you joined their side for this reason?!"she whispered, almost angry at him.
Dray gave a small snort of laughter.
"Not just for this reason, I assure you. I´ve also had Severus´ and Professor Sinistra´s engagements repaired. Though Fudge and Kellen refused to compensate Ron and Severus for that newspaper article. In any case, I am reaping great rewards for it."he said with a smug, almost snake-like look on his face.
Ginny flashed a look at Torie, who was still immersed in the newspaper.
"Torie... but this means..."she whispered.
Astoria glanced at her from the newspaper and shot her a mischievous wink.
"Oh don´t worry, Gin. Deianira Kellen will NOT marry my Dray. We´ve made sure of that."she said in a sugar-sweet voice.
Ginny turned her head to her fianceé, who seemed to be quite enjoying himself.
"Harry James Potter... did you have anything to do with this?!"she asked quietly, but her tone-of-voice DEMANDED nothing but the pure truth.
Harry shook his head still chortling.
"Not entirely, sweetheart. It was Torie´s plan mostly. I´m just riding along. Its thanks to it, that we were able to conjure up our wedding plans. You see, Kellen is bound to have a few people snooping around, just in case – just what I would do in her place, actually. Why do you think Blaise and Luna aren´t here right now? They are getting married this morning in the Zabini Estate in order to be there for OUR wedding."
Ginny frowned a bit at the news – she wanted to be there for Luna´s wedding. Knowing what was wrong, Harry instantly pecked her cheek lovingly.
"We´ll celebrate it all together, Gin. Well... not ALL of us. ONE person will be missing there, most unfortunately."said Harry, a small frown flashing on his face as his eyes fell on his best friend.
"I´m keeping you guys covered, remember? That´s good enough for me."said Dray, fist-bumping with Harry.
"Thanks a milion, Dray."
Draco grinned at his best friend, eyes twinkling.
"You´ll make it up to me, I´m sure. Besides you´ll be Best Man for MY wedding with Torie."
Ginny and Torie shred a smile as their beloved boys exchanged another hand-gesture (invented by Angus, Ginny was sure), grinning like maniacs.
"Very touching, you two..."came the voice of the boys´ Head of House, most of the Great Hall went silent at the sight of Professor Snape coming to them, for by the looks of him he was less than pleased.
The boys swiftly mustered a look of pure, puppy-eyed innocence as they gazed at him, making Ginny and Torie slap their hands on their mouths to refrain from giggling.
"Return to your breakfast, Miss Granger. And as for the rest of you... my office, you lot... NOW!"he whispered in a deadly voice.
As one, they all got up. Ginny looked at the staff table and noticed, that the Headmaster´s seat was empty as well. Grinning, she had a sneaky suspition where they might find him as soon as they reached the office belonging to Harry´s dear old Godfather.
Blaise had just passed the door leading to the garden Courtyard of the Zabini Estate. Dressed in his best clothes – a brilliant black suit, which slightly revealed the silky, bright green shirt underneath. His trademark black cane was also present and he had spent the last fifteen minutes making sure, that his appearance was nothing short of perfect. He and Luna had spent the night there along with his mother and Xenophilius, who had arrived on her invitation before the two even arrived from Potter Cottage. Callidora had taken to Luna almost from the moment she layed her eyes on her and instantly crushed the pair of them in her vice-grip hug, squealing happily like a schoolgirl. He and Xenophilius had also formed a respectfull relationship and it was shown, when he didn´t even protest on Luna spending the night in Blaise´s room, sharing a bed with him. Their house-elf, Pinky had also overcome some of her innitial shyness and gotten used to Luna in no time at all – affectionately calling her "Mistress".
Hearing slight sniffing noises after him, he looked around and rolled his eyes.
"I thought I told you to remain in the house, Herbert. I wished for a few minutes alone."he said to his Mum´s pet.
The small, fat, golden-colored pig however decided to ignore that comment and continued sniffing with its snout firmly on the ground as it moved along the courtyard.
"Nevermind..."whispered Blaise, shaking his head – he always felt, that his Mum should excersize some control on the pet she had won years back on a High Society Party in a lucky draw, but Callidora insisted on letting her piggy have its own way.
Taking a few breaths, he looked around the courtyard, which in his ever-so humble opinion had never looked so silly. A small smile grazed his lips as he recalled Mum and Luna rushing into the courtyard yesterday, intent on decorating it for the wedding with Xenophilius not far behind.
"I hope the Wedding Official has a good sence of humor. Otherwise, I´m afraid the poor fellow will have a hard time digesting this..."he thought as he looked around.
He was fairly sure, that his dear friends would positively explode in laughter if they saw it.
The pure white tree in the middle of the courtyard was wrapped in so many colorfull ribbons, that it overshadowed its white-berried friuts, which were always plentifull. The various statues, brought in by one of Callidora´s seven husbands from around the world were also decorated in a silly manner. Blaise amused himself with the thought of Armando seeing what his beloved statues were being put trough – he never liked the man much, but he sure didn´t wish for his tragic death in Africa at the paws of a Nundu. His Mum had the worst love-luck he had EVER heared of – seven husbands, including his noble father Blathazar Zabini (the first husband) all died. True, four of them were murdered by Death Eaters. From what he found out, his father had been murdered by Lord Voldemort in person, being an admirably powerfull wizard, a great wide-traveled adventurer, even competing for the title of Minister for Magic with Barty Crouch senior in his day. It was easy to see, that his sweet Mum still loved him ever so dearly, holding on to her schoolday love with a vice-grip in spite of being determined not to live alone – one could hardly blame her for that. Blaise himself, seeing his father a hero in his own right had decided as a small child to fufill his Dad´s dream and take the office one day, transforming the Wizarding Community.
Though right now, there was a new element in his life now. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the small box intended for his beloved. The ring, he had went to great lengths to provide during the previous week and even resorting to his foreign contacts – a simple gold band, that held a very rare stone indeed, the Crystalized Moonstone, a rarity of extreme value. True, it cost him a catastrophically high price – enough to buy a house of his own, but in his opinion his precious Luna deserved nothing less than the absolute and utter best. He remembered his Mum bursting into happy tears and embracing him tightly when he informed her of this – wailing, that he was truly his father´s son.
Blaise´s look turned to a sombre one as he looked into the ground.
"I wonder... what would you think, Father...? I´m sure you would definitely like my friends... and Luna... father... I´m sure you would love her... I almost feel ashamed to admit it, but... right now... I truly wish you were here for me now."he whispered in the empty courtyard.
He let his imagination roam free for a moment, imagining his Dad there... a proud look, no doubt present on his face, having a last-minute man-talk with him before taking the ever so importaint step in life – like he was sure James Potter would definitely have with Harry, or even Lucius "Super pure-blood" Malfoy with Draco when he will finally marry Torie...
He was aware of the small tear rolling from his eye and wiped it quickly, feeling stupid.
"Come on, Blaise... stopy crying like a sissy. That´s NOT befitting of a future Minister for Magic, is it now...?"
Blaise snapped his head around at the familiar girl´s voice, shocked beyond belief. His eyes were glued on the door leading to the courtyard and more tears leaked. There, as one, stood his friends, grinning at him happily. Herbert at once ran towards Torie, eager to recieve her affection.
"Y...you... but... but..."stammered Blaise, but his friends took no notice.
"Um... interesting decorations, Blaise."grinned Ginny, hand in hand with a chortling Harry.
"Your Mum has really outdone herself thistime, Blaise."snickered Angus.
"Now, Angie... don´t be a meanie. It´s the thought that counts."said Susan, elbowing her fianceé, though she was plainly trying not to laugh herself.
Even Blaise couldn´t surpress the laugh at Susan´s petname.
"Awwww, very cute... Angie... why didn´t WE ever think of that one?"mused Torie, still giggling and fixing a red-faced Angus a sly grin, her fingers still busy scratching Herbert´s ears.
"What are all of you doing here? I thought that for the secrecy of your wedding Harry, all of you were meant to remain at Hogwarts for the lessons in case Madam Kellen would have her eyes and ears out."asked Blaise as soon as the laughter died down.
"Well... it all started when our dear Headmaster and Head of House wished for a word with all of us after breakfast..."Torie started to explain.
"And it turned out, that WE are not the only ones with a plan. Al was of course aware, that the two of you are getting married and he seems to feel, that you should not take this new step in life without your trusty friends to witness it."nodded Harry, grinning like a maniac.
"He and Severus also apologize for not being able to be here in person, but they trust they made up for it by making excuses for the rest of us."nodded Ginny.
Blaise smiled radiantly and shook his head in amazement, his gaze setting on one statue in the courtyard – the ONLY statue that Callidora didn´t decorate, but instead polished it herself (refusing to leave the task to ANYONE) lovingly and so much, that it was literally shining in the bright sunlight.
"See, father...? They are truly the greatest friends I could´ve ever asked for."he thought as another small tear escaped his eye.
At Blaise´s beckoning they all followed him to the statue.
"Your Dad, Blaise?"asked Ginny almost unneccesarily, for the resemblance was too plain to miss.
"He was very much like us, you know... a born adventurer, eager to learn and experience new things in life... and intent on leaving behind great wisedom to guide the young ones..."he said and gestured to the quote written at the base of it.
"The greatest treasure of the world is under one´s nose all along."read Susan aloud.
Blaise smiled happily and nodded.
"Apparently he traveled far and wide eversince he was eleven – over the holidays of course, much like we did. When he left Hogwarts, he went out for a long expedition all around the world. He searched for the greatest treasure of the world. Or so my mother tells me. Only when he returned to Hogwarts for a year as a young, twnty-year old DADA teacher he found it... in a sixth-year Gryffindor student he had known since childhood... Callidora Shacklebolt."he said, his eyes twinkling gently.
The others smiled knowingly.
"Under his nose all along."whispered Harry with a smile.
Harry felt her small hand once more reaching for his. Looking at her, his mind replayed all the times he had encountered her over the years at Hogwarts and out – the little girl in Flourish and Blotts who had rounded on Dray when he sniggered at Neville, the same wee girl in second-hand robes with the Sorting Hat on her head screaming "GRYFFINDOR", the lovely looking girl in her dress-robes opening the Yule Ball with Neville as her dancing partner, the girl panting on the ground restraint by her brocken anckle and speechless at the sight of the Masked Wizard engaging Barty Crouch, the livid-looking girl making cheeky students run for their lives in the wake of her anger...
He could sence Ginny´s mind replaying memories of her own, though he didn´t even bother to use Legilimency – he had a very good inckling what his love might be thinking about.
He let go of her hand and instead reached for her shoulder, squeezing her to himself and laying his cheek on the top of her head, taking in the sweet smell of her hair.
"He was absolutely right... THE greatest treasure of the world."he thought.
"Where HAVE you BEEN?! We´ve been waiting for an hour!"growled a furious Deianira Kellen the moment her new fianceé entered the door of their Office.
Draco´s eyes surveyed the scene. All members of the Vigilantee Task Force were present and accounted, some grouped over a desk studying some papers. Others were merely sipping their morning coffee, apparently enjoying a moment´s calm. His fianceé and deputy Head was apparently stomping around like an angry tiger before he entered – no doubt trying to make a hole into the handsomely woven rug.
The remaining eight members were all around the same age as her – most of them were classmates with her and both she and Draco all knew them personally from the High Society Parties. The closest one in age to him was a short, slightly fat boy in his late teens (a good aquaitance of the Slytherin Squad) – nineteen years old - named Caractacus Slughorn.
The eldest and the tallest was a black-haired man named Algernon Rosier. Then there was a very thin man named Septimus Selwyn. Then there were two other female members of the Task Force – Melania Yaxley and a younger woman named Cassandra Carrow.
The remainder – Billius Burke, Paracelus Parkinson and Alexander Avery were in Deianira´s age and of course, her fellow Slytherin classmates. All of them eyed their new Captain with a measure of respect, the boy´s exploits reaching their ears after the Battle of Hogwarts – a few of them also took part in the battle against the Death Eaters as well. All of them seemed to be completly disregarding his late arrival – except for one person.
"I was enjoying a lovely breakfast at Hogwarts."he replied calmly as he approached her.
Deianira bared her teeth at him and growled like an animal.
"Oh... so our Head of Office feels, that the rules of this Task Force are beneath him?! That our job is a matter of little importaince?! That the position he so rightly aquired enables him to do anything he pleases?! IS THAT IT, MALFOY?!"she exclaimed swiftly, her voice roaring trough the room, making some of the Task Force members cringe.
Her rage was doubled when the blonde runt actually snickered right in her face.
"Feisty little thing, aren´t you?"he remarked in humor and some of the members couldn´t help but hold in their snorts of laughter.
"If you must know..."he carried on quickly, as his fianceé swelled like a bullfrog, obviously catching breath for another wave of angry retorts.
"... I am remaining at Hogwarts for the sole purpose of spying on our targets. As you full-well know Deia, I share a dormitory with a few of them."
Deianira glared him with such intensity, that young Caractacus Slughorn actually gulped.
"For the final time... DON´T CALL ME DEIA!"she screamed.
Draco stood his ground calmly again and raised an eyebrow.
"I would´ve thought you would be pleased, that your fianceé sees it fit to give you affectionate petnames."he challenged silkily.
Deianira blushed slightly, though more from embaressment than anything else.
"Well I´m not!"she exclaimed stubbornly.
Draco couldn´t help but snort again.
"I see that it was most wise to postpone our wedding until you learn to show me proper affection and respect."he said and inwardly smirked like mad.
"Very low risk with this ever-angry cow."he thought with amusement as Deianira, proving his point swelled like a giant red baloon – clearly this woman can NEVER measure up to Torie, who would easily go along and tease back, often practicly destroying him verbally with witty jokes.
"Respect?! Who the hell do you think you are?!"she growled, trembling in rage, having taken his bait.
Draco however ignored the question completly and bypassed her, moving towards the table where some of the members stood.
"Well... sadly I´ve gleamed only so much during breakfast at Hogwarts. It seems our suspects are taking a day off. Either that or they are busy preparing for their NEWTs."he said, looking over the gathered papers on the table.
"Are these the information you coaxed out of the Juniors?"asked Draco, knowing about their yesterday´s visit to Azkaban.
"Yes. And we think Pansy Parkinson´s may hold something for us to start with."said Burke, pulling out a map.
The members all gathered around the table as he pointed to a place on it.
"She mentioned something about them pursueing the Masked Wizard into this house here. She is convinced, that the Masked Wizard is a Slytherin around her age, for only they knew about this place."
Most members looked at eachother in triumph, but both Draco and Slughorn frowned at the map.
"That looks like the Snake Pit, right captain?"asked Caractacus and Draco nodded.
"It used to serve as a place where the Slytherins of our generation hosted the Holiday Parties."he said, recalling the wacky parties Slytherin students had there.
He could remember many fun games over the years and one party in particural when he was thirteen and Pansy cornered him and smashed her lips onto his.
"Well... she told me that they were once persuing him there. In fact they almost got him at that time."continued Burke.
"You can say that again."thought Draco bitterly, shielded by his Occlumency powers.
He swiftly replayed the events of that night. How no less than six Juniors chased him across the streets, Killing Curses left and right. He swiftly took refuge in the old house and was prepared for the final stand when he was saved by a breathless Torie, who rushed to his aid dispite the danger. Dispite the roof-raising scolding he got later on for acting rashly and springing into action when, it was to use her wording "bloody suicidal", he couldn´t help but fall in love with this absolutely incredible girl.
"So let´s start searching Hogwarts records of Slytherin students for the past seven years."suggested Avery, but Draco held up his hand.
"The information regarding the party house wasn´t secret. Not much at any rate. He could´ve got that info off of anyone among us. And there is a chance, that he may have run into the house without knowing about it at all. If Greengrass says that they were persuing him..."
The Task Force members all looked at eachother uncertainly. Deianira actually sniffed.
"Though as it seems we don´t have many leads at the moment. I agree on going there and starting the investigation there. We shall see, where it leads us."
There was general agreement to Draco´s voice and it gave him a sence of empowerment having each his suggestion and idea instantly fufilled. He was greatly looking forward to playing this game with the Task Force and Kellen´s trusty ones.
"All right. Prepare yourselves to leave. I am off to Madam Kellen´s office to inform her of my surveilance of our targets."he said, moving away from the table.
"Oh there is no need for that, Draco. Mother already has her suspitions. That´s why she has that idiot Runcorn and his men up and about, so if your former best-friend makes a move, she will know and take action immediately."said Deianira, her face filled with brutal triumph.
Draco raised his eyebrow.
"Oh. Okay then. I only hope, that Harry Potter will open his eyes and see the light."he said, but still went for the door.
"Where are you going?! I thought we are leaving for this "Den" or whatever its called."exclaimed Deianira, glaring his retreating back.
"If we are to do this... I´ll need a hot cup of coffee, Deia."he said, opening the door while ignoring her angry wail of dissaprooval as he exited the room.
Deianira gave an angry howl of pure rage as soon as the door snapped.
"One day, I will show that blonde-haired brat who´s boss around here."she exclaimed, completly unconcerned about the other teammates there.
"Reading between the lines, I would say, that he is already showing her who´s boss."whispered Melania Yaxley to her fianceé Slughorn, who couldn´t help but chuckle as he agreed.
"I HEARED THAT!"the pair at once jumped and embraced eachother in terror as Deianira shot them a murder-glare.
Draco however wasn´t going for a coffee at all. Well... not directly at least. Moving across the corridor, he swiftly cast a Disillusionment Charm to hide himself fully and raced into the other hall.
"Just in time."he thought as he saw them.
The ten-member team led by Albert Runcorn, who was looking extremly superior.
"All right. You all know what to do. Team one will check Hogwarts castle. Team two will check Potter Cottage – discreetly, remember?! Let´s not forget that Potter is the Head of Auror Office and he still has enough power to make this a punishable offence. Right now, we cannot ask Madam Kellen or the Minister for aid, so watch it. As for Harry Potter, our information tells us that he clings to his friends. Especially that muggle-born filth (Draco gritted his teeth at the insult). It is possible, that they may prepare something at the muggle manor where he lives."
Draco bit his lips now. They were right on target. He could however see in his mind´s eye his best friend´s cheeky smirk and the devilish twinkle in his eye as he would say "If its a fight they want..."... and he agreed whole-heartedly.
Quickly moving into a vacant office, undid the charm on himself and started to write a warning letter to the others.
"Lucky for us, good ol´ SMS is undetectable. Oh... such a pity I won´t be there to see what they will do to them."he thought, already envisioning it.
Detect and do away with numerous undercover wizards while doing it as quickly and quietly as possible, with the danger of being discovered by respective families or authorities - it was a game, the Slytherin Squad held as its most favourite one.