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I don’t own Harry Potter. I don’t own Mara either.

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Chapter 6 – Prelude to the Yule Ball

It had been almost two weeks since Harry had retrieved the golden egg from the dragon. Of course, Harry already knew the next clue, but because it would not be in his best interests to reveal that he was from the future, he feigned ignorance as to how to approach the artifact. He made some halfhearted attempts to muffle the skull-rattling screech that emanated from it to make it look like he was trying to figure it out, but his mind drifted elsewhere.

Harry had eventually remembered that, even though it had been two years since it had been slain, the basilisk carcass deep within the Chamber of Secrets still had fresh venom. He then proceeded to mentally and almost physically kick himself for forgetting that important detail.

Harry changed his mind about going to dispose of the senior Riddle’s bones on the Hogsmeade weekend; people would probably wonder where he had went, as well as the rather conspicuous sight of a teenager desecrating a grave. He instead decided to sneak to the edge of the school wards under cover of night and Apparate from there. He would still look strange digging up a grave, but at least he had the cover of night to his favor.

Hedwig had managed to smuggle her precious cargo of the Slytherin horcrux into Hogwarts, so late one night, Harry donned his invisibility cloak and snuck to the girl’s bathroom, both horcruxes in his pocket and the Marauder’s Map in one hand. In the other, he held a hank of rope that he had borrowed from Hagrid “for a special project.” The gentle half-giant had handed Harry the rope without question.

Hissing the password into the sinks, they slid out of the way, revealing the opening into the sewers. Harry tied one end of the rope onto one sink and pushed the rest of it over the edge. Sighing in preparation, Harry breathed deeply and jumped into the hole, the mountain of rodent bones somewhat cushioning his fall. Brushing himself off, Harry wandered through the sewers until he found the blockade of rocks where the cave-in had occurred two years before. He drew his wand and carefully blasted away the rocks until he had created an opening without collapsing the entire tunnel.

A pathway made, Harry continued towards the Chamber of Secrets, opening the second doorway. His footsteps echoed against the polished stone floor, and he had to cover his face with his robes as he approached the decomposing carcass of the fearsome basilisk. Harry pulled the horcruxes out of his pockets and placed them on the floor. He drew his wand and cast a summoning charm, a large fang flying towards him. Harry quickly cancelled the charm before the deadly fang ran him through, and it clattered harmlessly on the floor, a droplet of corrosive venom pooling at its tip. Donning his dragonhide gloves, he carefully picked up the fang and quickly stabbed both horcruxes, destroying the artifacts, as well as the soul fragments contained within. Tossing aside the fang, Harry began to walk back to the opening in the bathroom and, after applying a mild sticking charm to the soles of his shoes, used the rope to climb out of the sewer. After he exited, he untied the rope, closed the sinks and cast a cleaning charm on himself to rid himself of the stench of sewage and rotting flesh. After sneaking back to the Gryffindor Common Room, Harry stripped himself down and plopped into bed, one thought on his mind:

I’m so glad tomorrow’s Saturday.

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While Harry’s friendship with Ron had been temporarily mended, there was a definite air of tension between the so-called “Golden Trio.” Harry almost never played chess with him anymore, and did not play Quidditch unless necessary, instead spending most of his time studying. While the redhead had not voiced his thoughts yet, his seething glares at Harry and Hermione all but confirmed his low opinions about Harry’s change. For his part, Harry simply shrugged it off; dying and coming back to life made him realize, among other things, that while chess and Quidditch were fun, they did not define his life, something that Ron did not yet seem to grasp.

On the other hand, his friendship with Hermione was growing closer than ever. Their increased study time together had allowed them to talk more than they had before. Slowly, Harry began learning little insignificant tidbits of Hermione’s life that he had no idea of in his past life. Things like her favorite color was periwinkle blue or that she had an uncle in France, which was why she often went there during her summer holidays. These little facts made Harry realize just how little he knew about his best friend.

However, not everything was well in the library. Harry saw that the Durmstrang champion, Viktor Krum was constantly lingering behind bookshelves, trying to look inconspicuous but failing. Harry vaguely wondered how long Krum had hovered like a stalker until he asked Hermione to the Yule Ball last time. Harry mentally shrugged it off and returned to his work.

That night, Harry initiated his plan to dispose of the Riddle bones. Transfiguring a stick into a shovel, he once again donned his invisibility cloak and snuck down to the edge of the anti-apparation wards, before disappearing with a crack. He reappeared in front of a familiar gravestone depicting the Angel of Death. Shaking away the memories of what had happened there before, Harry set to work unearthing the graves of Riddle senior.

Several long and dirty hours later, Harry had managed to uncover the casket containing his prize. He pried open the lid to see the pale corpse of Voldemort’s father.

“I’m really sorry about this sir,” Harry whispered to the corpse. Closing his eyes, Harry transfigured the corpse into a small rag doll. Taking the doll and closing the casket, Harry climbed out of the grave and banished the mound of dirt back where it belonged, Disapparating before the aurors found out about his actions. Once he returned to Hogwarts, Harry quickly cleaned himself up with a spell and hid the doll inside his trunk before collapsing into his bed. The next day, when no one was watching, Harry discreetly threw the doll into the fire, where it withered into ashes.

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A few weeks later, the Yule Ball was announced and as before, the girls became excited while the boys groaned loudly. For his part, Harry was not particularly concerned about it; he was already planning to ask Hermione to the dance. While he still found the part about Hermione being his soul mate a bit amazing, at least this way they would have a decent time together. So later that day, after classes, Harry approached his best friend.

“Umm, Hermione?” he asked nervously.

“Yes, Harry?” she asked, turning to him. Harry continued to shuffle around nervously.

“I was wondering if…” Harry trailed off hesitantly; three years and a resurrection later, and asking a girl to a ball was still as difficult as ever, especially since it was Hermione he was asking this time, “…if you would like to go to the Yule Ball with me?” Hermione seemed surprised by his question, as she did not immediately reply.

“Umm…sure, I guess,” she said, shocked. “Honestly, I’m a bit surprised you asked me, Harry,” she admitted, embarrassed.

“Well…” Harry trailed off, running his hand through his hair nervously, “I figured that since we’re friends, it’d probably be more fun if we went with each other, instead of going with a stranger. And besides…” Harry paused again as he lowered his head, blushing, “…I don’t know how to dance.” Hermione could not help but laugh at his embarrassed demeanor.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be laughing,” she said, regaining control of herself. “But really Harry,” she said before briefly pausing and checking to make sure that no one was eavesdropping before continuing in a whisper, “you had to dance the last time, right?” Harry shrugged lightly.

“It was three years ago, and I followed,” he said simply. Hermione sighed and nodded her head.

“Alright, I know a couple of simple dance moves that I could teach you,” she relented. Harry sighed in relief and pulled her into a hug.

“Thanks, Hermione, you’re a lifesaver,” Harry said, patting her on the back.

“And don’t you forget it,” she teased.

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A few of my readers have expressed interest in knowing the details of life at the Department of Death and Resurrection. Others have noted that my more recent chapters haven’t been quite as funny as they used to be. I intend to amend both of these by releasing a series of omakes detailing life at the DDR. Enjoy.

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OMAKE: Orientation Meeting

“Okay, boys and girls,” a tall, gruff man barked militarily to an assembly of men and women of various ages, from elderly folks to people barely out of their teens. “You’re here because it was your time to kick the bucket and move on to the next plane. Some of you youngsters may not like it, but them’s the breaks. When you got here, you thought that it’d be all sunshine and roses, and sitting on clouds humming for the rest of eternity, well guess what! You’re all wrong! You’ve gotta work! You’ve got to help to maintain order across the mortal and immortal plains, or else all hell’s gonna break loose, and you don’t want that.

“Now, you poor saps decided that you wanted to join the Department of Death and Resurrection. Well guess what, this ain’t going to be a picnic either. First, you’re gonna go through an internship! You’re going to tend to the Reapers, man the reception area, and deal with confused and irate people who’ve just snuffed it, just like you. Then once you become a Reaper yourself, you’re going to be saddled with half a million or so souls that you have to watch at all times, to make sure that they get from start to finish at their appointed times. Now, do you have any questions?” the man growled, leering at the group before him. At the back, a thin young man raised his hand.

“I have a question,” he said sheepishly.

“Well, out with it, man!” the first man snapped.

“Well…do we get any benefits for this?” the second man asked. The first man stared at him blankly for several moments before letting out a deep belly laugh.

“‘Benefits?!’” the man guffawed. “Newsflash, kid: You’re dead; you don’t need benefits.”

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Not the best piece in the world, I know, but I’ll try to get better.

Any suggestions for future omakes will be appreciated. Reviews are equally appreciated.

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