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         Ginny awoke the next morning to the worst hangover she’d ever had. She groaned loudly as she rolled over into a sitting position.

         Neville appeared at her side with a glass of water and two flat red pills. “Here. It’ll help with the migraine and nausea.”

         Lounging on top of the circular table, Keilana looked ready to take on the world. Nearby, Luna was leaning against the table (looking every bit like an audacious princess), but Ginny vaguely remembered that neither had actually played the game last night. She continued to look around, taking a very slow headcount. Harry and Draco were still missing completely. Ron, who was apparently completely fine, was helping Neville to administer the hangover meds to the three people (including Ginny) who had finally woken. Everyone else was still sleeping it off.

         “What happened?” Ginny groaned.

         “You passed out like half a second before Hermione.”

         “Hermione lasted that long? I have new respect for her.”

         Ron tapped the back of her skull (very) lightly, but the affect felt like a freight train roaring through her skull. Ginny clutched her mouth with both hands and ran desperately for the bathroom.

         “Are Harry and Draco back yet?” Luna asked, playing with the vibrance crystal that hung around her neck.

         “No,” Neville replied. “We’ve looked the facilities up and down, but we can’t find them.”

         “I don’t think they’re in London anymore,” Keilana commented, keenly observing the green center of Luna’s crystal. “But they’re too far away to feel much of anything except that they’re alive.”

         “That’s very comforting,” Ron mumbled.

         “Why is there black stuff in there?” Keilana asked curiously.

         Ron was suddenly right there with them. “How bad?”

         “It’s just simmering up in the bottom,” Luna replied. “If he doesn’t get out of his dragon form soon ....”

         “Can you check Draco?” Keilana asked hopefully.

         Luna cupped her hands around the crystal and whispered something in Latin. When she took her hands away, the center was cobalt blue, flaring up sporadically in a greenish hue of silver.

         “He’s fighting his dragon spirit,” Luna observed. “Does Draco lose himself when he transforms?”

         Keilana waited for Neville to pass them. “Not usually.” Her eyes widened. “But before I met him, he avoided transforming at all costs. He only started working on controlling it this summer.”

         “After the wormhole,” Ron said in realization.

         Luna arched a single eyebrow. “Can he control it without you?”

         “I don’t know. I’m never there when he’s without me.”

         Ron and Luna both shot her The Look.


         Harry shivered violently. “I thought you could transform your clothes with you,” he said, gratefully accepting the wizard robes from Carson Winthrop. They had made it to the Winthrops’ country house without being seen, and fortunately for them, Carson had a long weekend for New Year’s. He had been amazed to find a pair of talking dragons on his front step, but he equally amazed the dragonlings when he took it quite in stride. Surprisingly, he had used some sort of hangover medication to turn them back into their human forms.

         “I wasn’t exactly controlling it last night, was I?” Draco snapped, taking the robes Carson offered him. “Thank you, sir. May I ask who you are?”

         “Carson Winthrop. I’m the director of the N.A.R.”

         “You took us to a Ministry official?!” Draco hissed at Harry.

         Harry shrugged slightly, edging closer to the fire. “He already knows about me. You’re like me, not exactly an animagus, so he doesn’t have to report you either. I think.”

         “I’m closer to it than you are.”

         Carson put his hands up, laughing slightly. “If I don’t hear anything, I don’t have anything to report. Isn’t that true?”

         Draco dipped his head gratefully. “You wouldn’t happen to have a telemirror?”

         “What good would that do?” Harry asked as Carson pointed to a mirror on the far wall.

         “Keilana has a connected pocket mirror. I’m going to let her know we’re all right. Even she can’t use Exerency at this distance.”

         “You won’t tell his parents, will you?” Harry asked Carson, once Draco had a connection and was explaining the night’s events to Keilana’s reflection.

         “This doesn’t fall exactly into my category,” Carson replied thoughtfully, “but then, that’s what my office was created for. I’m the one who deals with the victims of strange spells or weyr venom. Draco, I think, is neither of those.”

         Harry grinned. “Thanks, Mr. C.”

         Draco walked back to them. “They’re going back to Black Moor once they get everyone safe for travel. It seems the Weasleys are throwing their own party tonight.”

         Harry groaned. “Enough with the parties ....”


         “Happy New Year, Harry!” Ginny said, hugging Harry as he arrived in the main foyer of Black Moor. She had evidently been sitting there waiting for him for quite some time. “Why’d you leave all the sudden?”

         “Something came up,” Harry said sheepishly, putting years of avoiding the questions of his professors into practice. “But I took care of it. Any plans for today?”

         “Other than my mum’s party? Not really, but I’ll have to help a lot with that.”

         Draco had just walked into the main foyer from the other door, and Keilana descended upon him in a well-performed outburst. Hermione waved to Harry, and called Ginny up. Harry inclined his head at Ron, who had been close behind Hermione, and Ron came down to where Draco, Harry, and Keilana were now standing.

         “How’d you fix it?” Ron asked quietly.

         “Hangover pills,” Harry replied.

         “You’re kidding.”

         “No, they really were run of the mill  hangover pills,” Draco replied, hiding a smile. “But they weren’t the combination kind. They were a purer kind.” He turned just slightly to address Harry. “Just for the headache, wasn’t it?”

         “Yeah,” Harry said, pulling a box of them from his coat pocket. “The Easy Pill for Headaches.” He snorted suddenly. “Made by Reginald Rayne – I should have known.”

         “Well, we know where to get more if it happens again,” Draco said, smirking.

         “What, from Rayne?” Ron said, incredulous. “He’d know why you really needed them in a heartbeat.”

         “Not Rayne. Henley.”

         There was a pause. “Who’s Henley?” Ron and Harry asked together.

         “Greg Henley?” Keilana said, shocked by their ignorance. “Professor of―”

         “Never mind, we know Greg,” Ron said, laughing softly. “We never call him Professor Henley.”

         “Lucky Gryffindors.”

         “Gryffindors get in the most trouble,” Draco informed his girlfriend. “Consider yourself lucky to be in a house where you’re supposed to be a bad person.”

         Keilana giggled. “Well, we better get back to the manor.”

         “You’re not staying for the party?” Harry asked.

         “We’ve been out of the house for too many holidays already,” Draco said apologetically, although he didn’t look it in the least. “The servants are going to start getting suspicious enough to tell my parents pretty soon.”

         “Oh. Well, bye, Lily-Anne,” Harry said, hugging his sister. “Have fun with the dragon.”

         Keilana laughed and moved to hug Ron. “I’m sure I will.”

         Harry and Draco shook hands, and as the couple left, Harry stared down at his palm. Ron leaned toward him.

         “What’s the matter?”

         “Do you think, if anyone had told me I was going to do that a year ago, I would have believed them?”

         Ron clapped his best friend on the back. “Come on, let’s go see if we can steal some cookies.”


         “I can’t believe you two are so functional,” Luna exclaimed, breaking an egg over a large coffee mug. She lowered her voice to a whisper. “I mean you were both raving drunk last night.”

         “We’ve both been tutored by Greg Henley,” Ginny said, laughing loudly, and hopped onto a stepladder to get a new bag of sugar off the top shelf. “It’s amazing how he manages to turn it on and off though. No one I know can do that.”

         “So you just binge?” muttered Hermione, who still had a terrific headache from all her drinking the night before. “I don’t see why you like the stuff. I’m never doing it again!”

         “That was the first time since after my fourth year,” Ginny said as she stepped down, suddenly depressed.

         “Sirius?” Luna asked quietly.

         “Mm-hmm. I miss him. He was a lot of fun.”

         Hermione snapped upright as Molly walked into their end of the Blacks’ enormous kitchen.

         “How are you doing, girls?”

         “It takes five egg whites for this recipe, doesn’t it, Ma-Molly?” Luna asked, switching over to addressing an adult as easily as Hermione could read runes. “Er, let’s see. One, two, three― Oh, four? Well, I’m good then.”

         “You’re certainly at home in the kitchen,” Molly said, smiling. She looked with loving disapproval at Ginny. “You should take some lessons from her, Virginia.’

         “With six brothers, you should be amazed I even set foot in the kitchen,” Ginny said, covering her depression quite well. “I remember loads of times when I almost got trampled while they were all looking for a snack.”

         Molly chuckled and went back to where she and Cassi were attempting to teach Jackie and Tonks how to bake apple turnovers. Ginny brightened as Ron and Harry stepped in.

         “Hey, handsome,” Hermione said, hugging Ron with one arm. “Lookin’ for a snack?”

         “You know me too well,” Ron chuckled, kissing the top of her head. “You got anything for us?”

         Ginny was looking shyly at Harry, so he came over and wrapped his arms around her. She laid her cheek against his shoulder and closed her eyes. The other three turned toward them, looking somewhat amused.

         “Did you already make her the pill, Harry?” Ron inquired, when neither made a noise.

         “I’m still working on it,” Harry replied with a slight shrug.

         Ginny forced herself to wriggle out of Harry’s arms. “But since we started hanging around each other so much, I haven’t gotten the heat. I mean, I can feel it simmering, but it doesn’t blaze up like it used to.”

         “Did you come to help us, Ronnie?” Molly asked, looking happily in their direction.

          Ron started, but was unable to refuse. “Yes, Mum.” He shot Harry a desperate look. Laughing, Harry reached for the spare aprons.

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