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The Black Prophecy

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Slughorn chose glitteringly gold cloth and floating red lanterns to transform the classroom into a bright cheerful face. Hermione smiled charmingly as they entered, which was quite the contrast to the grimace on Draco’s face. She felt compelled to write his mother, just to brag about how skilled he was at keeping in character. It was clearly something he learned from the blonde witch. Slughorn found them as they entered the room, commandeering Hermione for a photograph.

“Professor, the party is lovely. Narcissa Black would be envious of such a display.”

“Madame Black, what a lovely compliment. She was one of my favorites too, though not quite like your wife, you understand.”

“I do, sir. There are no others like my wife.”

“Quite right.”

“Sir, I wanted to give this to you before you were occupied by other guests.” With a flourish she produced the invitation and handed it to him. “Narcissa asked me to deliver this in person. She would love for you to attend her New Year's Ball this year. As would I. Honestly, I still know so few people aside from my family. It would be nice to have another friendly face and Bella has been asking to see you as well.

“What an honor to not just have been invited, but to have been invited by you, Madame Black.”

“Then you will come?”

“Madame Black…”

“I know that you feel like a toy that is being fought over, sir. I know that feeling all too well. It is something I too must deal with on a daily basis. Until a side is clearly chosen both will pursue us relentlessly. I am merely suggesting that we, as kindred spirits, stick together.”

“That is the first sense that has been spoken to me in years. I will attend for both of our sakes. Please do tell your wife that I very much look forward to seeing her again. And to save me a place on her dance card.”

“It will be my pleasure, sir.”

“Will it by chance be held at your castle? I’ve heard the garden has some fairly rare plants that I would very much like to see. For academic purposes, of course,” the elderly wizard asked with a glint in his eye.

“Sadly no. In fact, I will be spending the beginning of the holiday at Malfoy Manor,” the young slytherin said with a hint of sadness in her voice. “You understand, Narcissa would allow us to be no where else. But after the Ball, Bella and I will get to spend a week at home. We would be honored if you would come and visit us.”

“Then it is a date, Madame Black. You have entirely made my evening. I hope that you will have a nice time tonight. As much as I would prefer your company alone, I must see to my other guests.”

“Of course, sir. I wouldn’t want to keep you,” she said with a wink.

He winked and turned to greet guests. Hermione suppressed a grin. She had been wildly successful. By the end of the holiday break, he would be in the Dark Lord’s ranks. Whatever the Order brats were planning would never come to fruition. Whatever information they hoped to gain from the old professor would be misdirected by the Dark Lord himself.

The young witch looked about the crowd for friendly faces. There were a number of other Slytherins, though no one she was close to. Predictably there was a strong contingent of Ravenclaws. She steered clear of her former housemates. They’d become so unfriendly after her heritage was revealed. Though they were not nearly as severe as the Gryffindors. On the far side of the room the Longbottom boy was carrying a tray of drinks and glaring openly at Hermione. It seemed rather personal, that type of look. And she would put money on the fact that it was a reaction to something that her wife had done in the first war. She made eye contact with the grimacing boy and smiled sweetly. She loathed being at such a disadvantage. While she was quite skilled at playing catch up, that didn’t mean that it was particularly fun.

She turned slowly looking for a familiar face to spend her evening with. On her sweep of the room, she caught the head of Gryffindor house critically appraising her. The woman started in motion towards her. Hermione simultaneously subtly reached for her wand and the necklace of the Black family crest. Just as she summoned her magic to call her wife, Severus stepped directly in front of the young witch.

“Relax your wand arm, Hermione. We don’t want to draw attention. Please do not call, Bellatrix,” he whispered urgently. “With me here, she will not dare approach. She believes that I am working you on Dumbledore’s behalf. We are almost to the Christmas holiday. There is no reason to start a battle today.”

She took a deep breath and relaxed herself. “The Order brats are chatting on the other side of the room there. They look rather up to something.”

“I agree, Madame Black. And that is my next stop. But where has your nephew gone. Was he not supposed to be at your side this evening.”

“Severus,” she hissed. “Don’t call him that. It is creepy.”

The dark wizard grinned broadly.

“And,” she continued, “I am not sure. He gave me a bit of space so that I could talk with our host in private. I haven’t seen him since.”

“Very well,” he drawled. “I am going to address our trouble makers for a few moments. If you could please go look for Draco.” He stalked away in the way only he could to address Potter and the red head’s girlfriend.

Hermione retreated to a small circle of Slytherins where she would be able survey the room without unwanted interruptions. As always she was welcomed warmly by the group. She still could hardly believe that they were so fond of her. Having friends was still unsettling. She looked about furtively for the young blonde wizard. He was not meant to have been gone for so long. They didn’t tend to go off script without at least hinting to one another. They were each other’s back ups. It simply wasn’t safe to go off alone. She was both relieved and concerned when she saw Draco being drug in by the castle squib. Their appearance silenced the room.

“Let go of me you filthy squib,” the blonde slurred.

“Professor Slughorn, I found this young man rather intoxicated and roaming around outside of the door.”

“I will take care of him, Horace,” Snape said. As the words came out of his mouth, Draco doubled over emptying the contents of his stomach on his godfather's shoes.

Hermione recognized the moment for what it was. Severus was protecting the boy in accordance with the vow made to Narcissa. As he guided the young man out of the party, he looked briefly over his shoulder. When their eyes met, she realized that he wanted her to lower her walls. She did so immediately.

This was not planned. I believe that Potter may have orchestrated this. I will take care of Draco. See what you can find out from your Transfiguration partner. He said in her mind. She nodded in response as they walked out the door.

The young witch spotted Lavender Brown acquiring a small pile of sweets for herself. Hermione breathed deeply and walked over to her.

“Lovely party, isn’t it?”

“Hermione, what a surprise. Yes, it really is. Have you tried any of these,” she asked holding up a chocolate.

“I haven’t.” Before she could react, Lavender was feeding her one of the sweets. Shocked by the action, she could do nothing but consume it. The girl grinned widely at her. She fought to swallow and smile in return.

“It's good, right,” the enthusiastic Gryffindor asked. Hermione nodded still trying to clear her mouth.

“It is. Do you happen to know where someone could find something a bit stronger? I don’t want to go quite as far as certain people just did. I just need something to take the edge off.”

“Oh no. I don’t think there is anything innocuous like that. The blonde didn’t consume anything willingly.”

Hermione paused in an attempt to suppress her anger. She lowered the volume of her voice in an attempt to sound conspiratorily. “Was it one of the Weasley’s concoctions?”

“Of course,” she answered equally quietly. “Brilliant isn’t it. It looked just like he had been drinking. Not to mention how disgraced he will be. What do you think his mother will say?”

“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.” The Slytherin attempted not to think of how beautiful the blonde Malfoy matriarch was when angry or how satisfying pissing her off could be. She shook her head to clear her thoughts. “Why would the Weasleys want him drunk?”

“They didn’t. You know Harry harbors some serious dislike for the little git. I think he really just wanted him out of the party. A little discomfort was just an added bonus.”

“Why did he want him gone?”

“Hermione, you know I want to tell you. I like to think of us as friends. Join us and I will tell you everything,” Lavender said leaning far too close.

Hermione panicked slightly. She hadn’t planned on something like this tonight. She had no answer for the question that had just been posed. She wanted to know what the Gryffindor had to say, but the Dark Lord had specifically instructed her not to become a double agent. That was Severus’ job. She was only to flirt with the possibility. She had no idea how to politely decline such a straightforward request.

“Forgive me for interrupting,” Pansy Parkinson said approaching the pair. “Hermione, it's getting late. We are walking back to the dormitories. I thought you would like to come with us.”

“I had no idea it had gotten so late. Yes, that would be good,” she responded gratefully. She turned to the annoying lion. “It was good to see you, Lavendar. I’ll see you in class.”

“Have a good night, Hermione. Miss Parkinson.”

With more than a little gratitude, the young witch walked arm in arm from the party with her housemate.