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Chapter Six: All Good Wizarding Families Do It

Viktor and Hermione looked companionable together as they danced with the students in the Great Hall. The tables had been pressed against the walls, and were laden with treats. Albus sat quietly, surveyed the revelers, and sipped his wine.

Harry had been asked to dance almost immediately by Gil Gorechrist, a Seventh Year Slytherin of some not inconsiderable self-importance; he had almost fallen over when she had agreed. After that, it seemed that each Seventh Year male of every house was determined to try for his chance at a turn around the floor with Professor Potter, and Severus was becoming annoyed.

"Ten points from Gryffindor!" he announced sharply to Rhonda Freesia-Slaidon, a Sixth Year currently hanging on a female house mate in a most indecorous fashion. "And twenty points from Slytherin," he thundered across the floor to Miranda Frazier who was oblivious to the festivities as Martin Finch-Fletchley traced a Bertie Bott's Every-Flavor Bean over the blushing shell of her right ear.

Snape was seriously considering neutering Martin when he was distracted by someone crying nearby, and a small voice choking out, "That's all right, Marazelle. There's plenty of better boys to dance with." The small voice belonged to Wenda Watlings, a Third Year, and the tears to Marazelle Zabini, cousin of Blaise. Both girls were in Slytherin. Snape turned abruptly to see a Hufflepuff Fourth Year laughing as he walked away from the girls. Well, Albus did tell me that I had to dance, he thought.

"Now, now, Miss Zabini, it won't do to favor the unworthy with the gift of your tears," he chided gently, "not when there are better boys with whom to dance." He offered her his hand, which looked pearlescent against the blood red cuff of his evening shirt.

Wenda's mouth dropped open as her best friend giggled and placed one delicate hand into Snape's. Marazelle knew her Head of House personally, as his family and her own had enjoyed a long association.

"But Professor," she said more calmly, "I thought you only danced on holidays."

"And is this not a celebration, young lady? Do not argue with me," Snape ordered, beginning to dance a creditable waltz with his young charge.

Harry watched Severus' progress around the dance floor with relief. If he's relaxed enough to dance, perhaps he'll be willing to speak to me, she thought. She nudged Viktor, with whom she was now dancing, and suggested he might wish to cut in on the Professor.

"Mees Zahbeeni, vould you allow me?" Viktor asked, unable to look Snape in the eyes for fear that he would burst out laughing. The poor man had no chance, not with Hermione, Ree, and, he was almost positive, the headmaster plotting against his uncoupled state. Viktor enjoyed his own very much--though it had little to do with the solitude he expected the Potions master to crave--and of late he had been attempting to persuade Hermione to enjoy hers.

"Ooo! I'd love to dance with you, Viktor Krum," the now giddy Marazelle fairly yelled in the direction of the Hufflepuff boy who'd so recently slighted her.

It had the desired effect. Murphy Towson's friends did not let him hear the end of being "passed over" for Coach Krum all night.

Harry laughed gently as the other couple danced away, turning at last to look at Snape. "Professor, would you care to finish this dance with me?" she asked, dropping her eyes and blushing when he did not answer immediately.

Severus found this most encouraging. "Accio Defense Against the Dark Arts professor," he replied lightly, quickly sweeping Ree into his arms and out amongst the throng of amazed and parting students before either of them could change their minds.

They did not dance the regulation twelve-inches apart, as the conventions of both the waltz and most Hogwarts' chaperones demanded.

Hermione, who was sitting with Professor Dumbledore watching the dancers, turned to him, raised her glass, and clinked it against the mug in his hand. "I give them a few weeks to figure it all out," she said.

"I give them a few hours," he rejoined, a gentle leer lighting his eyes.

Hermione blushed and took a long swallow of her wine.

"Albus, stop teasing Miss Granger!" snapped a not-quite-amused voice from a rather crowded portrait just above their heads.

"Yes, dear," that gentleman murmured, sniggering drunkenly into his mug of butter beer.

Hermione, once more joined by Viktor, did not notice the exchange.


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