The Golden Flames
Chapter 27: The Golden Flames
After the delightfull dinner, the party had recommenced in full swing. Music was playing, couples dancing, pleasant chatter going on here and there at the various snack-tables. Many had once more eagerly taken the chance to visit the garden or simply roam about the manor.
Though she would´ve liked to do so as well, Ginny found herself to be unable to leave the ball-room for the present moment.
She, Luna and Torie had found themselves in bright spotlight almost the moment they had left the Noble Table. However... thistime, Ginny honestly couldn´t say she minded.
Many had come to congratulate her and Harry upon being admitted into the Top Noble Families. She found the bright attention pleasurable and shared many laughs with Narcissa, Callidora, Parvarti, Amanga Slughorn, Melania and even Cassandra as Harry and Blaise were discussing with Eldrich Macmillan, Ernie (who, following Susan´s wedding had established a formal friendship with them), Daniel Fawley, Lucius and Draco and Rex Rowle.
She herself ended up with Luna as they watched from afar, as Blaise was speaking to the pair of Daily Prophet reporters. Blaise was clearly in his element and was leading the interview in a pleasant and apparently interactive way, much to Cornelius Fudge´s sheer horror.
"My my... poor Cornelius seems to be getting one nasty schooling on communication with the media."came a well-known, troughoutly amused voice behind them.
Albus Dumbledore joined them, his eyes twinkling as he watched the young Zabini in action.
"Your husband seems to have quite the... ah, flair for politics, Madam Zabini."he said, smiling at Luna, who instantly beamed at him.
"He does, doesn´t he?"
She turned her sights back on her beloved, her dreamy eyes turning incredibly gentle.
"He tries so much to do, what Dad couldn´t... "
Albus smiled and nodded, also turning his sights on Blaise.
"I´m sure Balthazar would have been extremly proud. Especially after what he did tonight. It certainly left a big impression on many."
Ginny giggled at that.
"You can say that again. I´ve already heared those two reporters a while ago. The Noble with a golden heart."
"At least they´ll write something right for a change."said Luna in a serious voice.
Her smile however grew even more as she glimpsed the face of the Sinister-Minister.
"Oh dear... I´d best go and take my Black Prince away. A few more moments and he´ll go overboard, which for our poor Minister would be way too many blows for one night."she said, at once moving away, towards her husband.
Albus and Ginny laughed, taking a good look on Fudge´s face.
The man certainly looked as though he were just a few seconds short of a heart-attack - he was sheet-white, his lips trembling, an expression of utter hopelessness on his face.
Ginny snickered. At once an image came to her head - Fudge pulling out that muggle metal wand (whatever that thing is called) and aim it to his head, while Athena Kellen, Deianira, Orphea and the McLaggens all jump on him, wrestling the thing from his hand.
"Amusing idea, Madam Potter."chuckled Albus, his eyes twinkling at her.
Ginny shook her head, fighting down a blush.
"Blame those crazy muggle cartoons my child of a husband insists on watching."she said in a mock-defencive voice, though in fact liking them too.
She could tell by the old man´s chuckle, that he was well aware of it.
Both watched as Luna reached Blaise and whispered something into his ear. He nodded, smiling shyly and swiftly excused himself, putting an end to the interview. Albus watched the Zabini couple walk away to the dance floor.
"Dispite what many would say or believe, Luna does seem to be able to give him just the right balance."he noted happily as they began to dance to the slow, romantic music.
Ginny grinned as she saw Luna give Blaise a gentle peck, smiling dreamily at him as Blaise returned it with a goofy grin. Suddenly her smile faltered as she pondered on what Albus had said.
"I envy her that. I´m not sure I managed to do anything of the sort for Harry at all."said Ginny, finally giving voice to something, that had been troubling her recently, though she did not dare to voice it in front of Harry.
Albus shook his head.
"Ginny... trust me. You have and are doing much more than you realize."
He chuckled softly at the "Yeah,right" look she gave him.
"Look over there..."he said, pointing to a snack-table on the other side of the ball-room.
Her brown eyes found her Harry and at once sparkled in affection as she spied him sitting with Caractacus and Gervaise Ollivander, the three apparently in deep discussion. She felt the familiar purr of her heart as his face once more took on the bright, curious look she had come to know and love so much.
"That would have been competly impossible a year ago."he said happily.
Ginny at once fixed the old man a confused look.
"Come now... You have seen his diary, as I have. You know how he became, since his third-year at Hogwarts began."he said patiently.
Ginny racked her memory for a second - the cold face he presented at Hogwarts (earning himself the title of The Coldest Snake of Slytherin), the way he only kept to his closest friends (only Torie managed to fight her way trough) and family while secretly growing stronger, but still being the same sweet, cheeky, caring person... the person she was presently looking at, the person she had fallen in love with so fast when he...
Albus smiled and nodded wisely as she gasped in realization.
"I had known, Ginny... since your first date in The Hog´s Head. I had known, that you would be the one, who would be able to gently remove his REAL mask."
"He is right..."she thought, as she had realized...
Since they began dating, since they had been married... it was as though The Coldest Snake of Slytherin simply ceased to exist. Even other Hogwarts students were starting to see it, the terror Harry had once inspired in the corridors of the school seemed to have dissapeared almost overnight.
She now realized, that Harry - who had always kept his real self hidden under the image of a cold Slytherin - was now comfortable enough to show his real self not just to her, or her family, but as she saw right now - to everyone around.
Several memories bombarded her at once - Harry showing her the Masked Wizard mask saying that from the moment he put it on before setting out to the Department of Mysteries he had felt miracleously free under it, both Lily AND Alice telling her that she had brought the sweet little boy in him back, or even tonight as Amanda, Melania and Narcissa told her that they were happy about seeing him be so... alive.
"See? You pulled down the walls he had built around his heart over the years and allowed his true self to shine. You did something no one else would ever be able to."said Albus wisely, positively beaming at her.
Ginny smiled back in amazement, shaking her head.
"Each of the Slytherin Squad had something to hide behind that mask, now that I think of it. I can´t help but wonder... if only we became friends, had gotten closer sooner..."
Albus shook his head.
"There is a time and place for everything. I have to say, that I am very happy with how this ended. The walls around one´s heart are the easier task I´m afraid. Sometimes... what lies within is the REAL problem..."
The sad note in Albus´ voice made her look at him, but Albus was not looking back at her. His eyes were looking at Blaise who was dancing with Luna, then at Astoria and Draco who were talking to the Greengrass parents, finally setting on Harry.
"Its very fortunate that this is not the case here. But with Harry... I had been worried sometimes, as I watched him grow over the years. I had been worried, that his power and abilities may dominate his good heart... that he would end up like..."
He trailed off, his eyes flashing in hurt.
"Al?"breathed Ginny, startled by what she was seeing and hoping that Harry´s way of adressing him in private would help.
Albus quickly shook his head slightly and flashed her a smile.
"Luckily, I think we don´t have anything to worry about in Harry´s case. You´ve already done something I wasn´t able to years back."
Ginny bit her lip as she watched him look to the crowd again. She could tell, that he had been on the verge of revealing something personal and painful. She thought about the person he had been reffering to - the person, who apparently allowed his power to overcome his heart. She doubted greatly, that he meant Tom Riddle. She hesitated for a moment, wondering if she should simply ask. On the other hand, her relationship with her Headmaster had grown greatly, especially since her wedding...
"Al...? Who were you talking about...?"
Before Albus could reply in any way, a small group of people came their way. Bertram Shafiq was in the lead, hand-in-hand with Hestia Carrow. Ernie and Parvarti were there too, along with Melania, Amanda and Horace Slughorn, Daniel and Azrella Fawley, Natalie Thurkell and Basil Bullstrode.
"Ginny, the young Macmillans had just told us, that you and Luna were one of those, who went along with Neville Longbottom into the Department of Mysteries two years ago."said Melania brightly, pointing to Ernie and Parvarti, who of course - as fellow DA members - knew about it, though even they did not know the whole story.
"Er... yes. Yes, I was."answered Ginny uncertainly, not knowing what to expect.
"Cool! That means you saw the Masked Wizard there, right?"asked Bertram happily, excitement rich in his eyes.
Hestia sighed, squeezing his hand tightly.
"Bert, calm down a bit."she muttered, rolling her eyes.
Most of the crowd however shared Bertram´s enthusiasm - especially old Horace.
"Ginny... please tell us about it. Melania tells us, that it had been then, when the Masked Wizard had first shown himself."pleaded Horace, as excitedly as the young Shafiq.
Ginny quickly surpressed the need to look into the distance, where her husband was sitting, still in deep but cheerful conversation. Instead she flashed a look on Albus, who smiled at her, nodding.
She grinned at the memory - though she had also seen it in Harry´s diary, she had no trouble recalling it herself.
"All right..."she nodded, gesturing to a nearby snack-table.
She had been slightly surprised to see, that Albus sat down with them.
As she started to recall the events leading to their departure to the Ministry that night, she also remembered that it had been Harry - as a member of the Inquisitorial Squad - who had left them in Umbridge´s office with only Crabbe, Goyle and Nott to keep an eye on them. Dispite the cryptic message Neville and Alice had desperately given him, he looked extremly untroubled by the idea of his father being in Voldemort´s captive somewhere at the Ministry.
Ginny now knew (as well as anyone who saw his diary), that he swiftly contacted his father trough the Two-way Mirrors he had and made a point to alert Severus. The moment he saw the rest of them run into the Forbidden Forest after Neville however, he ran into his dormitory and it had been then when he placed that mask on his face for the very first time.
- Flashback -
She growled as she felt sharp pain come again from her brocken anckle. Reaching for her wand, she was determined not to give up, no matter what happens.
"Its bad Ginny..."commented Luna in a calm tone as she watched Ron giggling, suffering from some unknown curse a Death Eater had struck him with.
With only a split-second to spare Ginny quickly blocked a curse that came from the doorway. She gasped as she recodnized the twisted face of Antonin Dolohov - one of her uncles´ murderers. Luna sent a Stunning Spell at him, but the Death Eater evaded it.
"Ron, get a hold of yourself!"she roared at her brother, but in vain.
Quickly, she turned herself on the ground, trying to help Luna, who was firing almost any curse she had learnt with Neville this year. Dolohov however blocked a few and was moving towards them while counter-attacking.
He flicked his wand in an odd way, catching her off-guard and sending a curse straight at her.
Suddenly a bright, warm light appeared right in front of her before the curse could strike. She opened her eyes to take a good look at what was shielding her.
"Fire?"she breathed in amazement.
But it was unlike any fire she had ever seen before - the merrily roaring flames were bright GOLD and they were shaped in a form of a small wall. They emitted warmth, but not the unleasant kind. Tentactively, she reached her hand to it, but feeling no unpleasant heat no matter how close she reached to them.
Before she could touch them, the flames moved on their own, changing form and flying to shield Luna from another one of Dolohov´s curses. A second later, they flew straight at Dolohov, sweeping the Death Eater off his feet and into the air in a whoosh. Luna only stared in mild-awe as the flames sent him flying across the room and straight into a wall with powerfull force before vanishing into thin air. Dolohov smashed into the wall and fell onto the floor, moving no more.
"What the hell was THAT?"she breathed as she looked all around the room to see, who cast the spell.
"Huh? Who the hell are YOU?"she heared her brother breathe out, apparently his sanity was back.
She spun her head to see and gasped.
Beside her brother stood a black cloaked, armored wizard with a deep-green mask on his face. His wand moving from Ron, he took a step towards her.
"Don´t move."in a strange, yet strong voice.
Before she could say or do anything, he aimed his wand on her and a split-second later she felt the pain from her anckle dissapear - he had healed her anckle.
Suddenly several blasts and smashing noises were heared from the room on the side. The masked person at once turned on his heel and sped to the room. She exchanged a confused look with Ron, who only shrugged in confusion. A second later, they heared Alice´s screams of pure agony. At once jumping to her feet, she quickly ran towards the source of the screams along with Ron and Luna, but before they could reach the doorway, Alice´s screams stopped and were replaced by the screams of another woman.
They sprinted trough the doorway just in time to see a screaming Bellatrix Lestrange fly trough the air, colliding with two other Death Eaters, all three falling to the ground in a heap. Barty Crouch roared in anger and shot a spell on the masked person, but the spell had already been blocked. The two began to duel, but three other Death Eaters wanted to join in, not even paying attention to Neville, who was helping a shaking Alice off the ground.
"STUPEFY"roared Ron, aiming for one of the Death Eaters.
The Death Eater blocked it and started to fire spells back at them. Those that were on the ground also got up and rejoined the fight, a murderous look on Bellatrix´s face as she ran straight at the Masked one.
She quickly ducked a curse before firing her famous Bat Bogey Hex, but also ended up being blocked. Luna, Neville and Alice also started to fire their curses and the battle raged for a few moments. Neville and Alice succeeded in defeating Rookwood, Luna and Ron were holding their own against Macnair and she suceeded in surprising Rodolphus with her Bat Bogey Hex, striking him straight in the face.
The upper door opened and Tonks, Lupin, Mad-Eye Moody, Sirius Black, Kingsley and Mr Potter were standing there. Rabastan at once set a curse there, but the members of the Order of the Phoenix were already on the way down. Each of them took place, shielding them while taking over their duel. Just then a powefull explosion shook the room, forcing many down on the ground. The spot, where the masked one was standing moments before was again covered in Golden Flames that took the form of an orb. The orb parted a bit, revealing the masked person. Barty Crouch however smirked at Bellatrix, who nodded.
The glass ball, that Neville had been holding as though his life depended on it, fell to the floor and started to roll down the stairs.
"Accio Prophecy"he roared, just as Bellatrix aimed her wand at the masked one.
The flames parted from him just as the jet of green light flew from her wand. While HE jumped to the side, swiftly retaliating with a curse of his own, the flames flew towards the glass ball, reducing it to dust before it could reach Crouch´s hand. With a roar of rage, Barty Crouch turned and followed Bellatrix up the stairs, the masked one at once followed as the flames dissapeared.
She turned her head to see the Death Eaters mostly subdued, only one or two of them retreating while still dueling Kingsley, Mad-Eye, Tonks and Lupin. She saw Alice being hugged by her very relieved father, Neville rushing Sirius Black towards (she gasped) an unconcious Hermione, Ron hot at their heels his face pure white.
"Where is our masked helper?"asked Luna dreamily, looking around.
The older ones also scanned the room, finding that the masked person had followed the two escaping Death Eaters.
Without really thinking about it, Ginny at once sped to the stairs, followed by her brother, Luna and even Alice. Mr Potter and Sirius Black also followed as they ran.
The more they ran towards the Atrium, the more blasts, pounds and blows were heared. All of them came to a halt as they saw the masked one still carrying on the duel with both Bellatrix and Crouch.
She found herself rooting for him as she watched him not only hold his own, but slowly and surely driving them back. With a giant flutter the masked one engaged himself in a series of moves, that left the two Death Eaters completly disarmed, their wands flying to the ground.
Bellatrix and Crouch both fixed him a startled look before a jet of green light flew straight at him. He jumped out of the way and fixed the new-comer a glare under his mask.
"Voldemort!"growled Neville under his breath, his hand flying to his scar.
"Master! My deepest apologies. This... this... creature had burned the prophecy to dust before we were able to grab it."said Crouch swiftly.
Voldemort´s face took on a murderous look, his eyes positively burning red.
"Is that so...?! We seemed to have picked up another eyesore in that case."he commented, his voice pulsing with rage as his burning eyes were taking in his new challenger.
"Something which I should rectify right away... Avada Kedavra"he roared, turning his wand on him in such speed, that many were sure, the masked one would be dead right away.
The masked person once more evaded the Killing Curse, thistime by mere inches. With a small flick of his wand, the Golden Flames appeared out of his wand again, dancing around him while shielding him from the Bellatrix´s and Crouch´s curses as he counter-attacked Voldemort before switching his attention to his two faithfull Death Eaters, while the flames at once shielded him from Voldemort´s incoming curse.
In a few swift movements the masked one used the protection that his Golden Flames provided and Voldemort roared in rage as his two Death Eaters fell helplessly to the ground with their robes wrapped tightly around themselves.
"FILTHY PEST! EVASTO"roared Voldemort.
The Golden Flames at once moved to the Masked Wizard, taking a form of a small wall. The curse flew straight into it and for a second she was sure, that Voldemort´s Devastation Curse would burst trough it, a large bulge appearing on the Golden Flame wall, reaching towards the masked one. A split-second later however, it seemed as though the curse bounced back. Voldemort quickly turned on the spot and vanished before he could be struck by his own curse. The curse flew across the room, finally hitting the security guards empty desk, destroying it with a thunderous explosion, that shook the entire Atrium.
The masked person looked around and the flames had vanished into thin air again, leaving him unprotected.
"WATCH OUT!"she screamed as Voldemort reappeared not far from him.
"Avada Kedavra"he roared, his wand falling on his masked foe, certain that he would have no time to evade it.
Before the Killing Curse could make contact with him, one of the fountain´s statues sprang into life and took the curse.
"What...?! Dumbledore..."breathed Voldemort, uttering the name venomously.
She, along with all of them turned, gasping in relief as Albus Dumbledore had arrived, his trusty phoenix perched on his shoulder.
"It was foolish to come here tonight, Tom. The Aurors are already on their way."he said in a calm voice, his eyes on his former student.
Voldemort once more dissapeared, not losing track of his other opponent who tried to catch him off-guard, evading his curse. He reappeared by his fallen Death Eaters, waving his wand and freeing them from their robes.
"By which time WE shall be gone and the two of you will be DEAD."Voldemort growled and his two trusty Death Eaters at once started to fire their curses.
Dumbledore reacted by making the fountain come to life, the centaur, witch, goblin and house-elf taking their positions, trying to shield them dispite the fact that Mr Potter and Sirius Black were Aurors. Both of them nodded at Dumbledore and kept themselves close to them all, Mr Potter turning his face to them.
"Stay close to us and don´t join in the fight."he said.
She only nodded along with the others as a small explosion sounded again.
The masked one had recommenced his duel with Crouch and Bellatrix, while Dumbledore duelled Voldemort.
The duel was quite something. Poor Fawkes even had to take Voldemort´s Kiling Curse and was now on the ground, tiny and chirping in black ashes. The duellists all tensed as they heared the thunderous footsteps moving towards the Atrium. The masked one at once cast his Golden Flames, which covered him as they once more took the shape of an orb. Voldemort looked at it in amazement for a moment, but the arrival of the Aurors and the Minister for Magic in lead made him growl in anger. Turning to his two Death Eaters, he nodded. All three of them turned on their heels and vanished into thin air.
She couldn´t help but sigh in relief - it was over. She turned her sights on the beautifull Golden flame orb, just as the Golden Flames started to dissapear again.
"Where is he?"breathed Alice as they completly dissapeared.
She heared the others gasp as well. The masked person had also dissapeared.
- End of Flashback -
Ginny could not mask her fond smile as she finished relaying the tale. Not that she particuraly needed to - she doubted, that anyone besides Albus paid any attention to it. Bertram, Basil and Natalie were looking starstruck, the Fawleys impressed, Amanda and Horace amazed, Melania and Hestia thoughtfull, and Ernie and Parvarti were grinning at eachother.
She and Albus grinned at eachother, as the group started to discuss what they just heared. Ginny was once more bombarded by memories as she listened on.
Following the Department of Mysteries adventure, Albus had asked her and the others not to say anything about the mysterious masked person and as far as she had known back then, James and Sirius were making a silent Auror investigation.
As Melania informed everyone about Draco getting the investigation file from James, relaying everything she knew about it, Ginny thought back to the scenes she had seen in the diary, as well as the news that were coming home back then almost daily by her brothers or other Order members like Tonks during the summer holidays before her fifth year. She also remembered Alice and Neville´s suspitions, that Harry had become a Death Eater.
Melania meanwhile recounted several cases, about which she didn´t even know about during the school year, before the Battle of Hogwarts.
It seemed, like the Snakey Squad sure had done much more, than they let on - no wonder that some people were (dispite Fudge´s, Kellen´s and The Prophet´s slander) saying only one thing.
"He´s a hero!"breathed Bertram.
Hestia rolled her eyes, but smiled slightly, before her look turned serious.
"Melania... aren´t you going to get in trouble for revealing all this?"she asked neutrally, but her eyes were looking at her in concern.
Melania snorted and shook her head.
"Hardly, Hes. Boss Dray said, that we´re free to divulge any of this to anyone we want, as long as its not the Prophet. Its not like its classified information for one, and its not like it gets us any closer to figuring out who the Masked Wizard is."
"Many foreign reporters have been asking about him as well, you know. But the Ministry refuses to release official stand or any kind of information."said Azrella Fawley, who took over the position of the Head of the Department of Magical Cooperation, following Barty Crouch senior´s death.
"The Boss forsees, that pretty soon it´ll be up to us - the VTF - to make some sort of official statement for the foreign media. There will surely be limits however, as to how much we will actually be able to say."
Ginny had noticed, that many of the other Nobles were really starting to doubt Fudge´s and Kellen´s instances about the Masked Wizard. She grinned at Albus, and could tell from the small wink, that he agreed with her.
It is only a matter of time before another act of heroism will show everyone the truth and not even Fudge and an army of his journalists in the Prophet won´t be able to do anything about it.
Marvolo Flint felt as though he were in paradise at the moment.
The wonderfull garden, the calm sounds of the water flowing behind him and of course, this amazing flower of a girl who was kissing him so deeply.
He had been surprised as she took him here from the Ball-room, and for a moment was unsure what to say to her, but Flora had solved that problem straight away - smashing her lips onto his and kissing him passionately.
He had no idea how long they were there, but as far as he was concerned, he could stay here forever.
"What´s wrong?"he asked gently as she separated from him, looking in the opposite way.
"...n-nothing..."she whispered, deliberately avoiding his gaze and focusing her attention on one of the Living Trees, that was just walking by.
Marvolo turned her face to look at him gently, his hand remaining on her cheek.
"Flo, please... tell me."he urged tenderly.
As she looked into his eyes, she found that she could not possibly resist his blue-gaze - it was almost hypnotizing.
"I just... just... I should have acted sooner. Now I realize."she said simply.
She saw his face relax and give her a plain but gentle "Is that all?" look. She however shook her head slightly.
"I have not acted sooner this year... but... I´m worried now. The Repopulation Act - in less than a year we´ll fall under it as well - that´s why..."
Marvolo now knew, what she meant and perhaps why she had been trying to hold back since the start of the term. He moved his face closer again and gave her his most loving kiss. He could tell from the way she kissed back, that this worry was much deeper than she had been letting on. He hugged her close as soon as they parted their lips, his hand strocking her hair in a calming manner.
"Don´t worry, Flo. We´ll think of something. Afterall - my family is one of the Top Six. I´m sure something could be arranged in advance. Heck, if I ask Blaise and Draco for help, I´m sure they would be most willing to assist us."he said soothingly.
He once more felt Flora shake her head.
"But what if our families...?"she whispered.
"Flo, we´re Slytherins. We will have our way, no matter what anyone says."he said firmly, echoing what he heared Draco say a year back.
"... I´m also worried about... everything else, that´s going on now..."she whispered, Marvolo at once knowing what she meant - afterall, members of both their families were Death Eaters.
"I´m not. We have the Masked Wizard afterall. There is nothing to be worried about. And besides..."he said, once more making her look into his eyes.
"Its not like I´d let anything happen to you."he finished earnestly.
Flora couldn´t help but smile. He always had a way of assuring her, that everything will be fine. It was one of the things, that made her love him even more. Deciding at once to let him know just that, she joined their lips again, kissing him so passionately that she heared him let out a muffled moan.
They heared something move behind them and Flora instantly separated herself from him. Marvolo couldn´t help but chuckle - she was always a bit timid and it always shown in situations like this. He however found it very endearing.
"We´re not the only ones in the garden, my beautifull flower."he whispered into her ear as he embraced her from behind.
Sure enough, they could see his older cousin Aurelius walk on the other side of the garden´s section, hand-in-hand with his slightly younger fianceé, along with several other couples that were making their way to other sites of the garden, no doubt wishing for some privacy.
"See?"he whispered, as though making a point.
He felt Flora tense greatly in his arms.
"I hope they did not see us..."she breathed.
Marvolo chuckled and kissed her cheek.
"Flo... they are all here to do essencially the same thing WE are doing."he said soothingly as he turned her in his arms.
Flora looked to the ground, her cheeks bright red.
"Sorry..."she whispered, but hearing that he took no offence to it whatsoever - in fact, just the opposite.
"You´re such a little worrywart."he said cheerfully, making her smile as her blush increased.
"But, you know something...? You´re my little worrywart."he added huskily before kissing her again.
Halfway trough the kiss, both teens felt that there was a sudden draft of cold air. Both shuddered as the air turned almost icy. Separating from one another, they both gasped, even as they saw several of the Living Trees run away.
"W-what´s happening...?"breathed Flora fearfully.
"No idea."said Marvolo, as he was drawing out his wand.
Mist - thick, cloudy, chilling mist was suddenly shrouding the garden, making several plants close on themselved in agitation, others protest against the sudden change of weather - if it were weather. Marvolo wasted not a moment - something was incredibly odd about this mist.
He grabbed Flora´s hand, while waving his wand around themselves.
"Finite"he called, but to no effect - the mist was still there and growing stronger by the second, making it increasingly harder to see what was infront of them.
"M-Marvolo...?"breathed Flora, now positively terrified.
"Wand out, Flo. And don´t let go of my hand."said Marvolo, trying to mask his increasing worry.
They moved silently on the pavement, trying to find their way back in the thick mist. Suddenly however, several sounds pierced the night - a scary kind of intake of breath, a few sounds that were unmistakable the sounds of flying spells and even a muffled scream somewhere on their right side. Flora gripped Marvolo´s hand and let out a startled yelp.
"It - it came from over there."he breathed in shock, at once moving in that direction.
He was however halted back by his new girlfriend.
"N-no... don´t - don´t go there..."she stuttered, positively terrified.
He was about to reply, when they heared something running towards them from the other direction.
"Avada Kedavra"sounded into the night and there was a jet of green light flying and coming in contact with whatever came towards them.
Flora screamed as she pulled Marvolo away, just in time before a large form landed not far from where they were standing. Marvolo let out a startled gasp as he saw, that it had been one of the Living Trees - its bark becoming mouldy and cracked, its petals losing all color, its fruits turning jet-black.
A split-second later, Marvolo had to jump back as another jet of light flew from the mist, hitting the ground where he stood and causing a small, fire cracker-like explosion. Quickly turning, and keeping a death-grip on Flora´s hand, Marvolo ran in the opposite direction, just as another jet of light missed them. They ran together along the pavement as laughter - insane laughter - was heared in the garden.
"We have to get back into the house."he exclaimed, now as scared as Flora as they came to a halt to catch their breaths.
He was chaught off guard as Flora pressed herself to him, trembling from head to foot, and quickly taking in breaths that had nothing to do with exhaustion.
He hadn´t even been able to ask anything before she let out a strangled, weak and horrified yelp. Turning his sights to where she was looking, he gasped and almost screamed in horror.
Not far from them, sitting on the bench was his cousin and his fianceé, obviously unconcious or frozen, but with expressions that would chill the bones of even the bravest Gryffindor. Their eyes were open and almost bulging, their faces looked strained and they had the most sick smiling grimaces frozen on their white faces.
Marvolo could barely comprehend what was infront of his eyes before a series of spells and blocks could be heared farther from them, along with a strangled yell accompanied by the sound of something heavy falling to the ground and someone laughing mercilessly. He quickly looked around himself in the chilly mist, not oblivious to Flora´s trembling. Spying an arbor, he quickly pulled on Flora´s hand.
"C-come on, Flo... We´ll... we´ll take cover there..."he said, but Flora seemed to be frozen by fear.
He switly reached with his other hand for her shoulder, steering her to look at him.
"Come ON, Flo. We have to take cover."he urged.
Another scream in the distance made her jump and she instantly obeyed. Still not letting go of his hand she ran for the arbor as another gust of chilly wind swept trough the garden.
Taking refuge in the arbor, they crouched low with their wands in hand.
"I... I think we´ll be safe in here."he whispered, though in fact had no idea if they would be safe or not.
Flora set her wand on the ground and instinctively grabbed Marvolo in a tight, desperate hug, breaking into terrified tears. Marvolo had never seen her break down like this, but then again... HE had never been so scared in his life either. At once he her returned the hug and tried his best to comfort her.
"Flo... sweetie... shh... shh... I´m... I´m here. I promise... I won´t let anything happen to you. I swear."he whispered into her ear, trying to forget his fears and help her get hers under control.
Flora was shaking and crying in his arms, something that only increaced as another scream was heared, but it only made Marvolo try and comfort her some more.
Marvolo couldn´t help but wonder - as another manic laugh pierced the night, accompanied by another icy gust - how easily could paradise turn to hell.
"... so, they spent a bit more talking about the Masked Wizard´s Golden Flames. Saying something about an outstanding piece of magic. Horace said, that it seemed like some sort of ancient magic to him."finished Ginny, now seated besides her husband at one of the smaller snack-tables.
"Ancient Egyptian, love."Harry whispered into her ear.
"Figures."she breathed happily, positively bursting with pride at her darling husband.
"Anyway... what were you talking about so intensly with Caractacus and Gervaise?"she asked, though having a snaky suspition she already knew the answer.
"Patronuses."he answered, confirming it.
She grinned at him.
"Aaaand...? How´s your science-project coming along, Harry?"she asked in a mothering-voice, as though she had been asking if he had done his homework.
"Fairly well, Mum."he answered with a straight face, making her giggle.
"Apparently, a LOT of its original uses have been forgotten as the centuries were passing by. Many stupid legends sprang across the years and most of the real theory had been lost. Nowadays, they are only used against Dementors, but it had been Albus, who rediscovered their ability to act as messangers. In any case, some of those legends are fairly intriguing. Like the one about Andros the Invincible, who could cast one without a wand - one as big as a giant. Or the one about the witch that was able to produce a Patronus of a long extinct animal species. If those are true, then there might be no limits as to the form, size or power of them."he said, his voice pulsing with excitement over the prospect.
"Hm... trying to change the form and size, eh?... Long extinct animal species, you say...? You´re not - by any chance - trying to create a dinosaur Patronus?"she asked with a wry grin.
She knew of Harry´s and Angus´ fascination with the long extinct giant lizards and saw as much one night at Lennox Manor as they all watched a muggle movie about them.
"Hmmmm... a Tyrannosaur Patronus..."murmured Harry with a goofy grin, his eyes dreamy at the very thought.
"Love... did I ever mention, that you´re a genius?"he told her in awe.
Ginny giggled again and rolled her eyes.
"Oh no... now I´ve done it."she breathed.
Though... if he would actually suceed in making one, she was sure (as she saw the creature in the movie), that it would be an impressive sight to behold.
"Just please, don´t say this to Angus. Or me and Susie will never be able to get the two of you in bed again."she said with humor, though knowing that along with a very eager Angus, the two boys would certainly be capable of working day and night no matter how many times the would fail.
She was slightly surprised as Harry shook his head and looked at her with a smile.
"Actually... I already thought of a partner for this research and she´s much cuter."he told her with a loving smile.
"M-me...?"she breathed, barely being able to belive it.
"Well, yes... seeing as it was your brilliant idea. What do you say...? Will you work with me on this ground-breaking project, that will probably leave our names written in the books of Modern Magical Accomplishments?"
Ginny was startled. Harry asking for someone, who is not part of the Slytherin Squad to work on his project with - THAT was certainly a new one. She thought back to what Albus had said about her removing his mask. But dispite his Slytherin mask now gone, he still continued to surprise her. However, she grinned as she felt, that she was very much liking this new surprise.
"All right. You´ve got a deal, Harry."she answered, relishing the sunny smile he gave her.
"But NO dinosaurs, you hear?"she added warningly.
The sunny smile slid off his face and he fixed her with a positively begging look - one he often used on his mother and one, that she now found, SHE was powerless against too.
"Oh, all right, all right. Create all the Dino Patronuses you want. Remake the whole bloody Muggle movie park of them, why don´t you."she said in a mock-begrudging voice as she folded her arms and turned in the opposite way.
Out of the corner of her eyes, she saw his face take on a look of utter boyish joy.
"I love you, Ginny."he breathed happily, kissing her cheek.
"That won´t work, Potter."she said defiantly, though her heart was roaring the exact opposite.
"Hm... and this?"he asked innocently as he gave her a long, passionate kiss.
"You sure know, how to win a girl over."she purred as they separated.
Harry once more gave her a cheeky grin.
"Its aaaall in the genes."he said proudly.
She gave him a smirk as she looked him up and down.
"I don´t see you wearing any jeans."
Harry roared in laughter. His laughter was simply music to her ears and she moved in for another kiss when...
"THEY DID WHAT?!"roared both Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, not far from where they were sitting.
Swiftly rising and making their way to them, Harry and Ginny saw that Dray and Torie had returned. Also they saw that Blaise and Luna were also there, both looking furious. But no more furious than Draco, Lucius and Narcissa.
"What happened?"asked Harry urgently, looking from one face to the other.
"We´ve just had a small chat with the... in-laws as they were leaving the party."said Draco furiously.
Both Harry and Ginny narrowed their eyes.
"What did they do?"asked Ginny, looking at Torie who was surprisingly calm.
"They DISOWNED her, THAT´S what they did!"said Draco, completly beside himself with anger.
Both Potters gasped, their anger building up to match that of the others.
"Said that I am a great dissapointment and that I am to never again to set foot in their home."said Torie calmly.
"They also didn´t forget to add, that she is no daughter of theirs and that they never want to see her again."added Draco furiously.
"What the hell is their PROBLEM?!"exclaimed Ginny, stomping her foot.
"I thought they wanted to marry you off to a Noble family. Which DID happen - right into one of the Top Seven!"she exclaimed, now regretting that she stopped Narcissa from cursing them.
"It seems to me, that their problem is, that they wanted to enter the same kind of arrangement the McLaggens have with Orphea Kellen."said Blaise, also looking angrier than Ginny had ever seen him.
"Whatever their problem may be, they just bought themselves a set of NEW problems."growled Narcissa.
"No. Its THEIR problem and let´s leave it at that."said Torie in a strong, determined voice.
Lucius shook his head.
"I don´t want to leave it, Torie. There is a limit as to how far they can go."
Torie fixed him a thankfull smile, but shook her head regardless.
"Look, if they are stupid enough to do the exact same thing like they did with my sister, I don´t need them in my life to begin with."
All of them looked at her in surprise.
"I suspect the reason why Daphne became a Death Eater was precicely because of their... problems. Well, I don´t care anymore. I think its time I heeded all of your advice - they never once looked at my happiness or even bothered to ask if I want something else in life. I have all of you and I refuse to let them ruin any of that for me. I´ve made a choice and if they can´t accept it, too bad."she said calmly, but there was strength of a much older person present in her voice.
Hearing it said like that had certainly calmed the situation considerably.
"You´re a very clever girl, Torie."said Lucius, smiling at her.
"And I´m happy to say, that you´re now officially part of the family."nodded Narcissa.
Torie fixed them with a happy grin.
"Thanks, Dad. Thanks, Mum."she said pleasantly surprising both of them.
"And thanks, Dray."she said as she pulled Draco into a hug.
In that moment, it seemed as though there was absolutely no harm done at all. The rest of them also felt their anger evaporate.
"Well... another day, another crisis solved."breathed Blaise, hoping to lighten the mood a bit.
Suddenly the ball-room´s door flew open and many gasped. One of the Living Trees ran into the room, running towards a startled Amanda Slughorn.
"W-what´s going on?"breathed a shocked Ginny as the party came to a halt.
"B...but the trees NEVER enter the house."whispered an equally shocked Narcissa.
The tree was shaking and moving its branches as though to give a message, it pointed to the large windows outside and even gestured for everyone to follow. Which they did.
The entire party looked out the windows and saw the giant mist in the garden.
"The hell? Mist? On such a fine night?"breathed Daniel Fawley.
"Impossible. The wards around the garden do not permit something like this happening."said Hector Slughorn.
"That means only one thing."noted Rex Rowle.
"THE MASKED WIZARD!"roared Athena Kellen.
"Of course, who else would be so despicable to attack the Noble society?!"nodded Octavius McLaggen.
"Hm... let´s think, McLaggen. How about - Death Eaters?!"exclaimed Eldrich Macmillan angerly.
"Oh please... as if they would have a reason to attack US. Its that Masked Bastard, I know it!"said Deianira Kellen, her eyes shining maliciously.
At once she turned and yelled for the entire room to hear.
"TASK FORCE, LET´S MOVE OUT!"
"Excuse ME, Deianira... but I am STILL the captain of this Task Force."said Draco in a cold voice.
He turned and looked out the window again before turning to his teammates.
"Hm... based on the fact, that several other guests have left the ball-room, we can easily say that they are down in the garden right now. There´s no way, they could have made it back trough that mist."
Hestia and Bertram gasped in shock.
"Draco... Flora and Marvolo are down there."breathed Hestia fearfully.
Several other members of the Noble families expressed their worries, for their family members must be down there too.
"All right. Calm down people. Seeing as we don´t have any real inckling as to what´s going on - let US handle the garden, the rest of you do NOT leave this ball-room. There are many skilled people here in case we get bypassed. If something happens, Professor Dumbledore can let us know."said Draco, swiftly organizing everything.
There was a murmur of general agreement. Even Athena Kellen agreed as she glimpsed at Harry for a second. Ginny growled, remembering that she was still suspecting him. Most of the party turned for their respective tables.
"We are counting on you, Draco."nodded Eldrich Macmillan earnestly.
"Time to show just how good you really are, boy."noted Octavius McLaggen sneeringly.
Ginny saw her husband´s eyes move across the garden before he moved away from the window, Blaise, Torie and Luna by their sides.
"Okay, guys... we have to act fast. Operation Decoy."he whispered, Blaise and Torie nodding.
"I´m the least suspitious - I´ll do it."said Torie at once.
Ginny saw him pull out both the Invisibility Cloak and the small bottle of Polyjuice Potion. With a nod to Luna, both girls diverted the attention from them (which was no mean feat in the small chaos that ensued) as Harry and Torie dissapeared under the Cloak. A few moments later Harry had emerged alone and moved closer to Ginny as all of them sat down at one of the snack-tables and fully-aware, that both Kellen and Fudge will have their eyes on them in a matter of moments.
"You snakies have done this before, I take it."whispered Ginny to him - or rather HER.
She saw the cheeky look appear, but it looked different on Harry´s face.
"Trust me, Gin. You have nothing to worry about. I´m just thankfull, that Mum and Dad Malfoy are sitting at the Noble Table."
True, the Malfoys were sitting besides the Macmillans, Shafiqs and Fawleys and were by the looks of it in serious conversation, not even bothering to register Athena Kellen and Cornelius Fudge.
"He went dispite the fact, that Kellen suspects him?"she asked evenly, unsure if she should be angry with him or not.
"That mist may prove to be a trickier obstacle than it appears."said Blaise sagely.
"And since he´s the only one capable of casting the Golden Flames."added Torie.
"How much time does he have?"asked Ginny, now slightly worried - the bottle of Polyjuice Potion could not possibly held the full dosage for an hour.
"Judging by the small bottle... about twenty minutes, I´d say."answered Torie, now making the thoughtfull look on Harry´s face match the original.
"Do not worry, Ginny. That´s more than enough time for him."said Blaise calmly.
"And if not..."said Torie, looking at the departing Vigilante Task Force.
"...dissapearing is my speciality."
Marvolo knew very well, that the arbor could not keep them safe for long. Just as he managed to get Flora to calm down a bit a figure, a cloaked, masked figure jumped into the arbor.
"There you are."he laughed cruelly, before turning his wand on Flora.
The wizard however blocked and retaliated. Marvolo blocked, but the wizard persisted and the tiny Flint was clearly on defence.
"Protego"he roared instead of blocking, catching the wizard off-guard and leaving him unprepared to block or dodge his own curse.
Flora gasped as the wizard fell to the ground, clearly unconcious.
"Harry taught me and Bert that one only a week ago."he said to her proudly, shooting her a big grin and making her smile a bit in appretiation.
"Is that the masked...?"breathed Flora as she looked at the unconcious figure.
"NO! Whoever this person is, he´s NOT the Masked Wizard."he said firmly.
Flora only nodded weakly.
"I suppose... but why would he...?"
Wasting not a second, he ran to him and removed his mask. He let out a sound of disgust as he saw his face oddly twisted with a sick frozen smile.
"Serves you right, you scum."he muttered in mild-anger.
Another gust of wind, coupled by the scary intake of breath sound made him swiftly turn to his girlfriend, reaching for her hand.
"We have to get out of here, Flo."he exclaimed urgently.
Her fears now largely under control, she nodded, grabbing her wand with her free hand. Hand-in-hand, they ran out of the arbor. However... where they were running, they had no idea in the thick icy mist. Suddenly they both heared a small explosion right behind them and the footsteps of someone running at them. Flora steeled herself and aimed her wand directly behind her as they ran.
"Nice one, Flo."cheered Marvolo in mid-run as they heared a muffled yelp and the sound of someone falling to the ground.
She couldn´t help but break into a tiny smile at her dear boy´s praise, feeling some of her fears evaporate. Just then Marvolo came to a halt, grabbing her and pulling her out of way of another curse.
"Petrificus Totalus"he roared, his wand instantly going to the source, but his curse had been blocked.
Turning away, he swiftly pulled Flora to his right side, the pair of them taking cover behind a giant oak tree. No sooner they have, another curse hit the tree, shaking some of its leaves off in the process. Marvolo at once retaliated from behind the tree, but he had as much success as with the first curse and had to duck back as another curse struck. The young Flint however had yet to give up and once more shot a curse from behind the tree, that now served as their temporary shield. Flora quickly looked infront of herself, desperate to see a way to escape. But there were only more trees ahead as far as she could see in the mist. But another blast into the tree told her, that they HAVE to move.
"Protego"roared Marvolo, making their attacker retreat for a moment as he dodged his own rebounded curse.
Flora swiftly tugged his arm and Marvolo obeyed without question. The pair of them ran, changing directions and hiding behind one tree after another as more curses followed them. Marvolo used his chance and retaliated with curses of his own, each time they took cover. He however failed to notice in the mist, that another one of the masked figures was fast approaching, his wand already aimed at him.
"STUPEFY"she roared unexpectadly, catching both Marvolo and the new attacker by surprise.
"Woah."breathed Marvolo as a powerfull Stunning spell had blasted the person to the ground.
Flora herself was surprised by the sheer strength of her own spell - never had she been able to stun anything before.
Suddenly there was a bang of explosions from the opposite side, to where they were aiming. It sounded like a serious duel was going on somewhere. It however did little to discourage the attacker that was behind them, who fired another curse, once more hitting the tree. With a nod to his girl, the pair of them moved again, making their way trough the trees.
At the door to the garden, the Vigilante Task Force was fighting. Though they were already separated into pairs and tried to take different routes to the garden the moment they crossed the door, it was apparent that the attackers had been waiting for them. Aided by the thick mist and changing their positions while attacking from it, they were slowly pushing the Task Force back to the door.
"Bloody mist, can´t see a ruddy thing!"exclaimed Algernon in frustration as he blocked another curse that came from the thick mass.
"INCEDIO!"roared Cassandra, but her spell seemed to have vanished in the mist without any effect.
"Don´t bother. Fire magic doesn´t work on it."exclaimed Melania as she and Caractacus made their way to them.
Suddenly a curse flew from the mist straight at her, catching her off guard.
"PROTEGO!"roared Caractacus, jumping infront of her with speed quite surprising for such a chubby person.
Melania´s eyes sparkled with affection as her sweet husband retaliated with a curse, however it once more dissapeared into the mist.
Somewhere in the distance they heared Deianira´s voice roar "EXPULSO" and a powerfull blast, accompanied by a scream were followed by the sound of someone falling to the ground.
"Are you MAD, Deianira?! That person could have been under the Imperius Curse for all we know!"exclaimed Draco in anger.
"Tell it to someone who cares, Malfoy!"she retaliated.
"Its a wonder you didn´t kill him! That could have easily been one of the people we´re trying to save in here!"
The four other members sighed as they saw another fine display of Deianira Kellen´s brilliant teamwork - Draco had ordered them not to use any potentionaly lethal curses.
"I think the Boss should replace her from the Task Force as well."muttered Cassandra darkly.
"That makes two of us, Cass."nodded Melania.
Suddenly a curse flew straight at the four of them, but was blocked by Algernon.
"No offence girls, but I think this conversation should be reserved for later."he said, already blocking another curse before retaliating.
"You´re right of course, Algie."nodded Cassandra and started to assist her fiance.
"Any idea what this bloody mist IS?"asked Melania as she blocked a curse and Caractacus returned it.
"It not ordinary mist, that´s for sure."noted Cassandra.
"The way it acts, could be Dark Magic... similar to that miserable barrier the Death Eaters use, I mean... I don´t see them having any problem seeing US."growled Algernon as he pulled Cassandra out of the way of another curse.
Melania quickly looked at her husband as she felt him tense.
"S-sweetheart?"she asked, startled by the blank look on his face.
"I wonder..."he breathed, before looking at her.
She saw his eyes turn gentle before he closed them, a strange look appearing on his face - as though he was trying to recall the happiest moment of his life.
"Expecto Patronum"he exclaimed and instantly a large, long slug with a pair or horns at the top had taken its silvery shape.
"Woah... its´s bigger than it ussually is."breathed Algernon curiously.
Caractacus grinned as the slug turned its head towards him.
"Try it."he said, sharing a nod with his Patronus.
The slug moved infront of them and instantly started to shine more brightly. Melania, Cassandra and Algernon gasped as they saw, that the light Caractacus´ Patronus was emitting was affecting the mist - it was growing clearer and clearer, they could see outlines of the nearby arbor, the trees and even, though still a bit misty, the forms of seven figures standing at different positions with their wands aimed at them.
Sharing a giant grin, the four Task Force members instantly started to fire their curses. First two of the figures fell instantly down, whereas others had either blocked or evaded before retaliaitng. However, now that they could see properly, the Task Force members had no trouble in turning the duel around - the figures falling to the ground one after another, all stunned.
"WAHOO!"all four of them exclaimed as the last figure fell to the ground, rejoicing over their victory.
Caractacus barely had the time to exchange a hi-five with Algernon (something their Captain had brought into the squad), before he had been squeezed strongly by his overjoyed wife, his Patronus shining even brighter as it watched her give him a passionate kiss.
"I´m married to a genius."she exclaimed happily as they separated, Caractacus´ face sporting a goofy grin as he let out an even goofier sort of chuckle.
"How did you come up with this, Caractacus?"asked Cassandra, her voice a mixture of awe and happiness.
Caractacus blushed under all the praise, but cleared his throat.
"Thanks to the discussion I´ve had with Harry and Gervaise about Patronuses. You see, since its an ancient protective charm, we theorized, that they are capable of much more than just ward off Dementors. I mean... can´t you feel the air around us?"he asked excitedly.
The three looked at eachother and realized - the air, that was cool and chilly just a moment ago, was once more warm and pleasant.
"This mist is obviously dark and as Gervaise had told us, a Patronus´ main point is to protect against darkness."
Cassandra, Algernon and Melania shared an awed, happy look as Caractacus whooped in joy.
"Wait until I tell Harry. He´ll be thrilled."he exclaimed happily.
Melania giggled and placed a kiss on the top of his head.
"You boys and your science-projects."she said affectionately.
Cassandra and Algernon chuckled too, but just then a loud explosion sounded from the nearby place, followed by Deianira´s ragefull "Why you...!" and Draco´s "Deia, DON´T...!"
Sharing a startled look, the foursome quickly nodded at eachother.
"We´ll go reinforce the Boss."said Melania quickly, gesturing to her husband.
"We´ll bind these and continue to search the garden."nodded Cassandra.
"Expecto Patronum"called Algernon, a silvery moose appearing instantly, its light shining as brightly as the slug´s.
With a nod, Caractacus urged his Patronus to go ahead of them, slightly surprised that Harry´s theory about Patronuses obeying the deepest wish of their caster was correct.
"But now is not the time for theories..."he reminded to himself, as he, his dear wife and Patronus were racing towards the place where they heared their Captain´s voice cry "Speculum Reditio" and a person deep in the mist gasped before falling to the ground.
"Woah... he defeated him without even seeing where he was?"breathed Melania in awe just before they reached him.
"Boss, are you allright? Where´s Deianira?"asked Caractacus urgently.
Draco shook his head in annoyance.
"She decided to persue, dispite my direct order NOT to. I´ll be having a long talk with her mother."he said before his eyes fell on the Patronus.
He was about to ask, before he noticed the change in the air and saw, that some of the mist had dissapeared.
"Expecto Patronum"he called, waving his wand and a large silvery peacock appeared.
Melania couldn´t help but giggle at the sight of it.
"Cute Patronus, Boss."she commented with a grin.
Draco fixed her an appretiative smile.
"Thanks, Mel. But right now, compliments of any sort can wait, please. Let´s go, guys. We have a situation to wrap up."
The Slughorn couple at once salluted him good-naturedly.
During the small few minutes, Marvolo and Flora were able to evade most of the curses that followed them from not one but several attackers - they had no idea how many there were even. With a gasp, Marvolo had recodnized one of the curses that followed them, right before they took cover near a small waterfall.
"M-Marvolo?"she breathed as she saw his startled face and felt him try to hide her at any cost.
Her worries had only increased, as he fixed her with a serious look.
"Flo... I want you to stay hidden here. I will drive them off."he said determinedly.
"No... NO! Marvolo... don´t..."she exclaimed, shaking her head.
"Look, I just recodnized one of the curses - I´M their target... I..."
"Cousiiiin... what´s wrong? Come on out an plaaaay..."came the taunting voice of Marcus Flint.
Marvolo steeled himself before looking at Flora before kissing her deeply.
"Please, Flo. Please stay hidden. I don´t want to see my lunatic cousin EVER harm a hair on your head."he pleaded desperately.
Flora shook her head in anguish, but Marvolo placed a finger to her lips.
"Hey... don´t count me out just yet."he said with a wink.
Thistime SHE gave him a desperate kiss.
"Just stay hidden."he breathed as they separated.
Before she could say or do anything, Marvolo had quickly left their hiding place and moved trough the plants, that gave him small cover. He could see, even in the thick mist, that there were no less than five masked people around.
"Hey, Marcus... what are you waiting for?"he called as he moved to a larger clearning, that was overlooking the waterfall near which his girl was hidden.
Instantly a curse flew from one of the masked figures and though Marvolo had blocked it, it sent him flying to the ground. He fixed his glare on the masked figure that was coming closer to him, removing his mask to reveal the face of his hated cousin.
He ginned at him, showing off his long molars.
"Finally coming out to play, have you...? CRUCIO!"he roared.
Marvolo jumped out of the way, retaliating with a curse he swiftly blocked.
"Leave him to me! He´s MINE!"he roared maliciously as he counter-attacked with another curse.
Marvolo steeled himself, dispite his fears. He knew he had to draw as much attention away from Flora as possible. Plus there was the thing with Marcus...
His next curse was expected and blocked instantly.
Marvolo at once fell to the ground screaming as an incredible, all-consuming pain fell over him. Marcus laughed as he tortured his brat-of-a cousin.
"Don´t think I don´t know you aren´t here alone, idiot cousin!"he sneered as he ceased the curse, relishing the moans and cries coming from him.
"I know that your "little flower" will not bare to hear you scream - CRUCIO!"
Marvolo once more roared in pure pain.
As expected, Flora could not possibly bare - dispite the clapped hands on her ears - to hear Marvolo in such pain. Instantly she scrambled out of her hiding place, wanting to come to his aid. At once she realized, that it had been a trap as another masked figure jumped to her side.
However with a small, silent blast... the person fell harmelssly to the ground right before her feet.
Upway Marcus faced to notice it as he felt extremly content on torturing Marvolo. No sooner, than he ceased the curse again, a murderous look came over his face.
"Impedimenta"he roared, blasting his shivering and moaning cousin away and towards the water, that was flowing beneath them.
"ACCIO!"roared a much different voice.
Marvolo´s body was pulled as though by an invisible hook, drawing him to a form that had jumped from the small side of the clearing, opposite to where Flora was standing.
With a small summersault, the figure gripped the young Flint´s body under his right arm, pressing him to his shoulder as he flew trought the air, landing on a clearing next to where Flora was.
"Marvolo!"exclaimed Flora, at once moving to her boyfriend as the person dropped him gently to the ground.
Marvolo winced a bit as Flora´s arms came around his shoulders. But dispite the fact that he was in his beloved girls´ arms, he couldn´t help but give out an awed sound.
Flora turned to where he was looking and gasped as well.
Standing beside them was a tall, armor-clad person with a deep-green mask on his face. There was no mistake as to WHO this person was...
"T-the... the Masked Wizard..."breathed Marvolo, pure awe silencing the aches he felt all over his body.
The sheer sight of him told them, that it was indeed the case. More so, he turned and aimed his wand to one of the forms that were closing in on them - the person flying to the ground in an instant.
At once, several of the figures around, surrounded them.
"GET HIM!"roared Marcus in anger.
The Masked Wizard flicked his wand and at once, bright and warm Golden Flames appeared from his wand, surrounding all three of them. He already retaliated to a few curses that went their way, sending two attackers to the ground as others retreated into the mist.
Marvolo and Flora could barely believe what they were seeing, especially as they saw the mist evaporate around the places, where the Golden Flames were burning.
"Jump on! They´ll deliver you to safety!"said the Maked Wizard and the flames turned to them, taking the form of a large hand.
"What about you?"exclaimed Marvolo as another curse flew past them.
"Don´t worry about me - I´ll be fine. GO!"
With a nod to his girl, both young teens jumped onto the flaming, giant hand. At once they felt pleasurable warmth grip them as the hand rose up into the air. Marvolo even felt the small aches subside completly. The hand was rising up, above the mist and both could see, that they were not so far away from the house. Levitating them gently, the hand moved to the window of the ball-room, where several people inside already rushed to the windows in the wake of the golden light.
"MARVOLO!"screamed his mother as Amanda Slughorn opened the giant window with a flick of her wand, the two teens jumping inside, looking quite all right.
Wasting not a moment, she swiftly grabbed her only little boy in her arms, relieved that he was alive. The same held true for the Carrow parents and Hestia as they all gripped Flora in a bone-crushing hug.
Many other Nobles were looking awe-struck at the Golden Flame hand, that delivered the young teenagers to safety, having no doubt as to who could´ve cast it.
Marvolo swiftly wrestled out of his Mum´s reach and turned back to the window, just as the flames surged and switched their form, flying away.
Ginny (along with a fair few people at the window) gasped as she saw the flames set down towards the garden, instantly making the mist evaporate as soon as they reached it. Everyone at the windows gasped as they saw the flames going trough the garden line-by-line, making the mist dissapear completly.
Many of the younger ones at the window (Marvolo and Bertram in lead) cheered as they saw the flames and Ginny Potter had to refrain herself from doing pretty much the same.
"Outstanding."breathed Gervaise Ollivander in awe, as the entire garden came into view again.
"Look there!"exclaimed Marvolo, pointing out of the open window to the place, where he knew he and Flora were levitated from.
Once more, many gasped as they saw the lights and flashes caused by spells and saw the small number of figures attack the masked, cloacked figure.
Ginny couldn´t mask the grin on her face as she was reminded of their wedding day, when she had seen him fight - she knew those losers down there didn´t stand a chance, not next to her...
"Go Masked Wizard, GO, GO, GO!"roared Marvolo happily, most of the younger witches and wizards there cheering along loudly, even the Carrow twins doing so dispite their ussual quiet nature.
Ginny spied many of the adults also being torn over cheering for him, as they all watched him take on no less than four opponents at the same time, all four falling to the ground in one moment.
"Truly magnifiscent."breathed Daniel Fawley.
Marvolo and the other teens, save for Corvin McLaggen, cheered at the sight. The Masked Wizard had moved in on the un-masked person, stricking him with the Cruciatus Curse and sent him, screaming in pure agony, straight into the water below with a crash.
"YEAH! THAT´S EXACTLY WHAT YOU GET FOR TORTURING PEOPLE, MARCUS!"roared Marvolo.
"TASK FORCE, CAPTURE THAT LUNATIC!"roared Fudge, seeing that the VTF members were not so far from where he was.
Deianira Kellen, the Task Force member who was the closest at once started to run towards him, sending out a number of curses that made the ground around him explode as he redirected them. Engaging him in a small duel, Deianira tired in vain to defeat him, but in a combination of swift movements Deianira fell to the ground, bound by her own dress-robes.
The Golden Flames closed in on him just as the rest of the Task Force were closing in on him. Encircling him, they wrapped him in a vortex of golden fire.
"Okay, Kellen... scratch two-zero. You´re getting a really painfull three-zero in this game."thought Ginny happily as the flames shone brighter, illuminating the entire surrounding in their warm, golden glow.
She saw the awe-struck looks of the teens there, the astonished looks of the adult Nobles, the small twinckle in Albus´ eyes and most importaintly, the shocked and ragefull looks of Athena Kellen and Cornelius Fudge.
Ginny´s grin could not possibly grow larger as she saw the flames rise into the air from the spot they were - the spot, where no one was seen right now - and circled in the air before exploding and dissapearing into the once more calm and starry night, as the teenagers in the ball-room cheered again.
A/N: Aaaand here we go... the finale of the High Society party is done. :) Okay I will try and update ASAP, though the time has come for me to come back to the main project, but unlike after last Christmas, I´ve decided on working on both equally. Though it may take me more time, it will certainly NOT be a few months before you see another chapter.
Anyways... two things regarding this chapter - Harry and Ginny´s Dino Patronus joke: It was merely playfull teasing, there will be no Dino Patronuses. Although Harry, as any other who had spent his childhood liking Dinosaurs would certainly love to have a T-Rex Patronus, but NO. :D
Second - if any of you are wondering how did the Masked Wizard navigate trough the Mist to Marvolo and Flora, as well as dissapear completly, bear in mind, that the Invisibility Cloak has many protective powers :)
Well... I hope I can post the new chapter soon and I´m - as always - very eager to hear your comments, thoughts and feelings on it.
Till next time.