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Between visiting a swiftly recovering Vera, mothering Josh, my continuing Occlumency lessons, teaching, evading Umbridge, and shagging Severus every night, one would not believe I had time to think, let alone plan a Halloween Dance.

Yet plan I did, and thoroughly. I addressed food issues, decorations, beverages, photographs (for friends and couples), music (actually, I wrote Tricia and Tessa to take care of the music for me), and preventing alcohol from being smuggled in by the students. For this last task I called upon Keene and Jesse. These two had smuggled so much alcohol so many different ways, I was confident it would take a genius to get past them, in which case they would have earned the alcohol.

On top of all this planning, I had to advertise, and buy myself and Josh costumes- after all, what was a Halloween Dance without costumes? I planned to go as Grania O'Malley, but I wasn't certain what Josh would want.

I nearly cried in relief the day Dumbledore told me I could have the Head Boy and Girl and all the prefects help me out. They were assigned decorations, food and photographs, which lifted my work load tremendously.

I think Severus was a little put out, actually, since I was so busy all the time. But whatever he felt about it during the day, he made up for at night. I won't go into detail, but my nights grew increasingly the highlight of my day.

Josh was not pleased with me.

We were shopping when he told me this. "I don't like Professor Snape!" he declared as we walked into a Halloween filled costume place.

I stopped, shocked. "What?"

"You don't spend as much time with me anymore," Josh grumbled. "You always used to spend more time with me."

I stared at Josh. "Sweetie, half the time you were at gramma's house because I was with Derek! If anything, we have more time together now!"

"But I never had to share you," Josh said moodily.

Oh. So that was it. I bent down and pulled Josh into my arms. "Oh, honey babe," I whispered, "I love you." I held him close for a minute then looked him in the eyes. "Josh, we've always lived day to day, from change to change. I know this is hard, I really do, but we have to try and bend with the flow of the current. It takes guts to be where we are, and it's going to take a lot of courage to live through these next few years. I need you to trust me, okay honey?"

Josh sighed. "I guesso,"

I hugged him again. "Now, let's go get costumes."

One would not think shopping with a ten year old could be so much fun. Josh didn't like many of the costumes, but eventually he decided on a ninja-y sort of costume that had all sorts of spy stuff. I myself got a hot, kick-ass biker chick suit. I knew it wouldn't necessarily be approved of but what the hell? I had planned the dance, so no one had a right to complain. I did all the work, and I'd be damned if I wasn't going to play a little.

As a special treat, I took Josh out for ice cream, and we talked about his lessons. Josh, apparently, had started naming the galaxies he could now reach with his sight. He had the "Zeus Galaxy," "Hera Galaxy," and "Juno Galaxy" so far. Soon, he hoped, he would be able to see as far out as the Hubble Space Telescope.

I couldn't help being astounded.

"Mom, why are you looking at me like that?"

I kissed his forehead. "I'm very proud of you, Josh," I said, "You don't know how proud."

Josh smiled and finished off his ice cream. We grabbed our bags and hiked back toward the castle.

When we got there, Umbridge was waiting. "Am I to understand that you have hired two of your friends to prevent the students from smuggling alcohol into the castle?" she asked.

"Not quite, I just asked them to help out." I said. "Why?"

"Well, naturally, they have not been cleared by the Ministry to interact with the students."

I blinked. "Sorry, what?"

"Any persons who are not cleared by the Ministry outside of the school staff are not allowed to interact with the students within the school," Umbridge said, as though it were the most natural thing in the world.

"Professor Umbridge," I said, "Keene and Jessie are the only two people I know that can keep our dances alcohol free. They did a lot of alcohol smuggling in their day, and it will take a miracle for a student to get past them. Not to mention, they won't actually be in the dance, just outside. And they'll leave the moment its over."

“I’m sorry, but I can’t let them inside the school without ministry clearance.”

I ground my teeth. She was doing this just to give me a hard time, and I knew it. “Very well,” I said, “Where should I send them so they have the clearance they need?”

I punched the numbers in furiously, pissed that I had to go all the way to London for a bloody phone booth.


“Don’t fuck this up for me, or I swear to Merlin I will murder you!” I hissed. “You have to go to the Ministry of Magic and get clearance to interact with the students.”

“What?” Keene asked in confusion.

I explained to him everything Umbridge had told me, and what he had to do, and where and how.

“Fuck, are you sure she isn’t just making it up?”

“I’m sure she had Fudge do something of the sort to give me a hard time. But no matter, I’m going to get around that bitch one way or another. Just give me time and a bazooka, and I’ll be ready to take on the world.”

“You’re sexy when you talk world annihilation.”

“Shut the hell up,” I snarled. “You had better not fuck this up, Keene!”

Severus could see that I was furious the moment I slammed into the room and threw myself down on the bed, a scowl on my face. "What is it?" he asked.

"The toad," snarled, rolling over and glaring at the wall. "That bloody, puffed up, cat-obsessed, pink toad." I told him about the Ministry clearance shit Umbridge had given me, and saw him grow steadily angrier as I ranted and raved. At last, he seized me and kissed me. Hard. I sighed and melted against him. "How did you know?" I asked.

"Know what?"

"That I needed that?"

"You were about to start throwing books."

I looked and saw he was right; I had a death grip on my Latin dictionary. I sighed and let it drop to the floor, wrapping my arms around Severus and pulling him in for another kiss. We were making out on the bed when someone knocked on my door. I pulled back slightly. "Who is it?"

"It's Keene, Tabs. Gotta talk t'you."

"Shit," I hissed. I climbed off the bed (re-hooking my bra and pulling my shirt into place and slipped out the door, but not before Keene saw Severus.

He smirked at me. "And while the kid's awake? Shame on you, Tabitha Payton."

"Shut the fuck up and tell me if you and Jesse got clearance." I snapped.

"That's the thing," Keene said. "Jesse got clearance..."

"But you didn't."

Keene shook his head.

"Shit!" I hissed. "Goddammit, Jesse can't do it by himself!"

"That would be why Tessa and Tricia got clearance."

My mood brightened. "Really? Oh, thank Merlin! I'm sorry for you, Keene, but Oh! Thank GOD!"

"Hey, it's alright," Keene said. "Your dad did me the honor of free drinks at the club that night."


So. Halloween.

At seven o'clock I had managed to get Josh in costume, get into my costume, make-up and all, greet Jesse, Tessa and Tricia, and set everything up before the students showed up. I worked hard.

The students were at first confused to see my three friends checking them over before they entered the dance, but when the first few Slytherins and Gryffindors were busted for alcohol they understood. I was sitting at the stereo in my biker chick leathers blasting out some rock music, the lights dimmed and a freakin' strobe light! It was awesome.

Josh was hanging out with Jesse, all decked out in his spy gear and having a blast. It felt, for a moment, like I'd recreated Club R, only with British accents and chaperones instead of security guards, and prevent-or-s-of-alcohol rather than doormen. It was pretty sweet for a school dance, and had the added bonus of being the fruit of my labor.

I felt a hand on my back and Severus said "How can you hear yourself think?!"

"Eh?" I joked. "Darling, you turn the music up. Discourages talking, encourages eating, dancing, and making out. Increases your job."

"Oh, thank you." He said sarcastically.

"You know I do it for you," I teased, "Go on now, can't talk to me too long."

Severus disappeared into the crowd and I blew a kiss at Jesse, who flipped me the bird. I grinned and went back to the music. It was nice to have the music, but I really wanted to be on the dance floor. What good were my leathers if I was sitting behind the stereo? I waved Tessa over and shouted at her over the music. "Will you DJ for me?" I shouted. "I'm itching to dance!"

Tessa agreed to I hopped onto the dance floor, hot leather boots and all. I'd been dancing for a couple of songs when Severus caught my eye and waved me over. "Yeah?" I shouted over the music.

"Your Occlumency is sufficient," he said, "I think we can afford to be seen." With that he grabbed me and kissed me, longer than was necessary for the middle of a dance. Not that I minded, that is. I smiled when he pulled back. "You don't dance, do you?"

"Not unless you want to be scarred for life," he answered, clearly in a good mood after the prolonged kiss.

"Too bad," I said, kissing him. "You'll just have to watch then."

The students gaped as I danced around Severus, flirting openly as he smirked at everyone. By the end of the night I was all but worn out, Josh was thoroughly embarrassed, and Severus was ready to make the night last a little longer. Thankfully, the prefects would be taking everything down and cleaning up, so I took Josh back, tucked him in bed, then floo'ed down to Sev's rooms. He didn't seem that surprised when I acted like a wild animal that night, and later, as we lay together in his bed, I sat up.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

"Yeah," I said, "I'm worried about Umbridge."

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