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A series of drabbles for Term XXIV Hogsmeade Writer's Block challenge, some executed decently, some rather farther from the original prompt.

Prompts used: Narcissa, Andromeda, Black sisters reconciled

Narcissa stood in the street outside the house. A neat, cosy house, set back behind an ironwork fence. The front garden was tangled with brilliant displays of roses. Narcissa realized with a start that some of them had come from the old house---their house out in the country, the house that Aunt Walpurga and Uncle Orion would never visit because they were so incensed that they hadn't gotten it. She frowned. Their father had developed those only after their break; there was no way she had gotten those legally. Lucius had never mentioned it after they had inherited, and her parents would have never acquiesced.

Although, thinking back to her mother's sad face after the break, after her husband's death and Bella's growing intractability, she was not so sure. An old woman left to her own devices, family fallen apart, might rush to any proverbial port. And it had not been Druella who had wiped Andromeda off the tree.

The lights were on upstairs. She could see movement; a sturdy figure, flitting in and out of view. Narcissa slipped her hands into the pockets of her coat. It had been more than thirty years, and she was quite sure that Andromeda had charms around the house that would go caterwauling if any member of the family stepped through the gate. It was only prudent.

She removed her wand from her pocket, and did the only thing could think of: She sent songbirds singing to the window, the little fantails that she used to make battle in song with Andromeda's warblers. Behind them, she sent a dove.

The birds settled outside the window, singing incessantly. Narcissa waited, five minutes, ten minutes, twenty. The figure flitted in and out, left, came back, and left again.

Twenty-five minutes later, a warbler and a fantail came and sat on a rose bush, trilling and reeling and hopping from twig to twig. Narcissa disapparated feeling like the world had been lifted from her chest.

Prompts used: Neville, leaves, slice of life

Neville sat at the end of the Leaky's bar. He spun his mug between his palms, the coffee inside splashing a bit. It was too early for thinking, really, but that was what happened when you lived in London and commuted to Scotland every week.

"Hannah?" His wife turned from where she was poking her wand at the till, greasing the edges of the old wooden drawer.

"Neville?" she mimicked, a smile tugging at her lips.

"Do you mind if I put in some plants?"

"Neville, you've been putting plants in every month since I bought the place."

"I know---it's just that was just upstairs, in the rooms. Not here."

Her eyebrows went up. "You want to put plants in the bar? You know that the patrons are going to knock them over. Or set them on fire. Or try to eat them and die from poison."

"Or they'll be half hag and will be allergic to violets. Just---remember how I've been working on enchanted bonsai? I got some miniature maples going last week and they're doing really well. And, I mean, it's autumn and all. We could have all sorts of seasonal bonsai!"

Her eyebrows went back down as she thought. "Well." She poked her wand at the till one last time, and the drawer slid back in as if it was new. "Well, bring them home this weekend? We can see how they look."

"I can do it tonight. I'm supposed to be off patrol."

"Okay." Suddenly she grinned. "So you mean I have you to myself again tonight? No Minerva fire-calling at two in the morning?"

"No Minerva. Just me. And some bonsai."

"I guess I can stand the bonsai.

Prompts used: friendship moments for Hermione/Ginny, Hogwarts-era

Hermione spends most of her last year at Hogwarts frowning. It confuses the first years, who never met the Carrows and cannot really understand what a year on the run means; how can a war hero always seem so sad? They put it down to the stress of being Head Girl, and leave it at that.

The older students, of course, understand. Most nights, Dennis Creevey comes to sit in the chair next to her by the fire, late in the evening after the younger students have gone to bed. They sit quietly, staring at the flames, as if waiting for the forms of their families to come to them out of the flickering light.

On those nights, Ginny performs a tricky little spell that Dobby taught her the year before, which summons a house-elf to her. She had once used it to stock Gryffindor House with stolen dittany, Dobby and a small elf named Pips ferrying bottles into her dormitory. Now she calls Pips to bring tea and plain scones with cream. Since the war ended, Hermione has taken to very rich, but very plain foods; a sort of restrained decadence. Ginny is glad, in a way. She cannot do opulent Hogwarts food, not after the last year; somehow all she can stand is scones, and a simple roast with veg.

Pips brings them the tea on a simply but prettily carved wooden board. Hermione sometimes runs her fingers over the carvings, exulting in the care which some long-ago craftsman took in the board. Their conversation is always commonplace. Dennis sometimes asks them for advice in dealing with particularly difficult homework assignments; Ginny teases Hermione about Ron; Hermione teases Ginny about Harry, and Hermione vents her frustrations at the students she catches breaking the rules. Ginny can tell that when Hermione vents about a second year getting caught sneaking around after hours, what she is really saying is I am so relieved. Ron and Harry were shocked at the Carrows, but Hermione absorbed the information in a way that only Hermione could, letting it seep into her bones until she understood the situation from all angles, abstract and visceral.

After the scones are gone and the teapot is dry, and their talk has petered out into nothing, Dennis usually leaves for his dormitory, and then Ginny and Hermione sit. Sometimes they talk long into the night, worries and hopes and memories spilling out of their mouths. Sometimes they just sit companionably, Hermione asking the house elves cleaning the common room if they and their families are well, and to let her know if they have any problems or troubles that they need addressed. A very few times, a student has a night terror. Ginny feels her face go hard whenever it happens; she is so angry, so very angry that her students---because she will always feel responsible for the younger Gryffindors after last year---are still hurting. Hermione squeezes her shoulder when this happens, and places a gentle kiss on her hair; then she goes upstairs to sort it all out, because McGonagall has learned that Hermione knows when to find her and when to leave her out of it. One morning, Ginny finds that a first year girl whose mother had been murdered has come into their dormitory and is curled up in Hermione's bed, clutching her. Ginny wakes them up gently, sends the girl back to her own dorm before her classmates can wake up and tease her. They both give her a big hug before she leaves.

Every morning after the night terrors, Ginny makes sure that Hermione has a big cup of tea before then even make it down to the Great Hall, and Hermione makes sure that Ginny eats breakfast, and preferably more than a slice of toast.

They never say much about any of it, just the usual quiet polite thank yous that you say to someone who is kind to you, but they have developed a way of smiling that means I could not do this without you here, and it is the buttress to their confused year, to the year that is somehow both Hermione's seventh and eighth, and Ginny's sixth and seventh.

Prompt used: Slytherins in general

Theodore Nott, it turns out, can dance up a storm.

Not formal dancing---Pansy remembers Tracey complaining about how sore her toes were after the Yule Ball---but he dances to Muggle music as if he was an eel, his body twisting and gliding under the partially buttoned shirt and grey slacks. She can see his collarbones and the faint dusting of hair over his chest.

Pansy hates Muggles, and she wouldn't be much of a fan of modern Muggle music anyway---it just sounds off to her---but she would listen to Muggle music every day if it meant that she could watch Theodore like this every day.

"Attracted?" Blaise whispers in her ear as he returns with his drink. Pansy turns away, ostensibly to pick up her martini but really to hide blush that she can feel on her cheeks. Blaise knows it, of course. He's a smart man.

"I take it you're not so upset to be in a Muggle club right now," he continues.

It is difficult to tear her eyes away from Theodore; a Muggle girl, dressed in some sort of sparkly getup, has moved up to him and they are dancing in a way that would be beyond obscene in the wizarding world, but they are in the Muggle world right now and his hands are on her hips and it is hot, Pansy thinks. Still, she looks back at Blaise and sips from her martini.

"It's rather loud in here," she replies. It is---she can feel the boom of the bass in her chest. "It's nice to not have to talk to other people."

Blaise rolls his eyes at the blatant verbal finger she has offered him. "Pansy, just go and dance with the man. Stop offending the rest of us by undressing him with your eyes."

Pansy can't protest the comment, because that's what she's doing. "I can't dance to Muggle music."

"Merlin, Pansy, it's in 4/4 and you move your hips at each beat. And just, you know, kind of writhe on the other person. Just do it."

She glares at him.

"Nott!" he yells. Theodore looks up, hands leaving the Muggle girl.

"Blaise, what are you do-"

"Get Pansy on the floor! She's being a total wallflower!"

Theodore grins and holds out his hand toward her; she can't turn down an invitation to dance from a respectable pureblood, can she?

Prompts used: Dumbledore, sheep, crack

Dumbledore sits in the grass, locked in a starting contest with a sheep.

"You won't win," he mutters to the sheep.

The sheep somehow manages to give the impression that it has rolled his eyes while maintaining eye contact with him.

"You can't beat me."

The sheep snorts.

"You have no idea how strong a wizard I am. I can spend hours staring at something."

When Aberforth apparates on top of him, holding a burrito in one hand and cookies in the other, Dumbledore is forced forward into the grass. The sheep bleats in a way that just drips schadenfraude, and jumps up to steal a bite of Aberforth's burrito.

Prompt used: anything with Neville, cold weather

Neville loves autumn.

He supposes it's weird---he's an herbologist, after all, his plants are dying all around him in autumn---but he really, really loves autumn.

Everything smells like earth in the autumn. Some of the plants are dying, yeah, but others are withdrawing into themselves, preparing for the long Scottish winter, storing away all the energy they need to get them through the dark times. His plants are stalwarts. How can he not love that?

Besides, how can he not love the harvest? How can he not love hot cocoa, and scarves, and the golden moons of October?

How can he not love the leaves?

In the snatches of quiet that he finds throughout the day, when the students are out of the greenhouses, he dances down the aisles, avoiding the Venomous Tentacula and a particularly active specimen of Devil's Snare. At night, he apparates to the cosy apartment he and Hannah share over the Leaky; she has broken out the warm blanket made of some Muggle fabric she calls fleas, of all bizarre names, and he gets to curl up with her in front of the charmed fire.

This is definitely his favorite season.

Prompt used: Helena Ravenclaw, Aberforth's pet goat

Aberforth liked to live a quiet life. Him, his bar, his goats out in the backyard eating the slops of the bar. He used to take the unfinished beers and meals out as his customers fell asleep at the bar or tottered out, tripping over the threshold. Most of the goats preferred the meals, but the buck---named Paco by a ponytailed wizard who used to come by quite often---seemed to like the beer best. Particular fan of imperial ales. Not as much of a fan of human company; Aberforth was never sure what that wizard had taken such a shine to Paco as to name him.

Then again, you usually named the things that bothered you most.

Aberforth was therefore used to coming out back after closing up and seeing Paco with his nose stuck in a glass of beer, and then being forced to chase the goat away from the beer and into the shed. He was less used to coming out back and seeing Paco sitting back on his haunches, grunting and bleating in a far too intelligent way at a silvery ghost sitting on the milking stool.

"Wha?" he said. It was late---his eyes just must be bleary.

The goat glared at him, and then turned back to the ghost. The ghost. It was still there.

No, the Grey Lady was still there.

"Paco? What are you doing?" he asked the goat.

He rolled his eyes at him, as if to say, whaddaya think I'm doing, I'm chatting up a pretty lady!

"Get in the shed, Paco," he said sternly.

The goat seemed to plead with him. Aberforth could have sworn the damn thing was beating his eyelashes at him.


The goat sadly got off his haunches and went into the shed. Aberforth moved after him, past the Grey Lady, and barred the shed. He felt the door shake as Paco kicked it angrily.

"What are you doing here?" he asked the Grey Lady.

The ghost, however, had disappeared.

Prompt used: Hedwig, happy/funny (admittedly, the last paragraph of this sort of, er, mutated from the last prompt).

Hedwig liked to sit in a tree outside Hagrid's hut. During her first year, she had sat there quite a bit, at least until the dragon came around. She really didn't like dragons. Her second year, the place still stunk too much like dragon to be really pleasant. When the Hippogriffs were around, she came back; they smelled more birdlike, and it was nice. They used to have nice long conversations, too. Dangerous conversations, because Hedwig knew that they wouldn't be above taking a swipe at an owl if ferrets weren't forthcoming. Still, though, it was good to talk to someone who was concerned about something other than the post. That Buckbeak was a friendly one---he had told off Clewclaw when the other hippogriff threatened to eat her for breakfast.

Now that the Hippogriffs were gone, it wasn't quite as busy a place. The Beauxbatons horses were insufferable---wouldn't talk to a bird, just because they had hooves to go with their wings!---and no one ever tried to converse with the Blast-Ended Skrewts. Might as well have tried to converse with a rock. A large fire-exhaling rock. Still, at least they weren't betraying her, like Harry was with sending all those letters off with other birds. It hurt, that did. She knew she was recognizable, but it wasn't like she took chances with her letters, or got distracted hunting! She couldn't help snubbing him sometimes.

Still, she loved her human, and she always kept an eye out for him. When she saw Moody bring the cup into the maze, and whisper surreptitious things at it, she knew something was wrong. She flew from Hagrid, to Hooch, to McGonagall, and even tried Dumbledore---anyone who could do something! She hooted, and screeched, and was so agitated that when she returned from trying to break the window into Dumbledore's office that Hagrid tried to offer her an herbal soother.

She kept an eye out for him through the whole maze, flying high overhead where no one could see her. She was divebombing, screeching, when he reached for the cup with Cedric---and she nearly fell out of the air when he disappeared.


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