Bulls on Parade
*~* Bulls on Parade *~*
Harry entered Dumbledore's office nervously with McGonagall behind him. He was startled when he noticed Snape and Dawn already there. Harry knew he was probably in trouble for what he and Dawn had been caught almost doing. They were probably both in a lot of trouble. McGonagall had looked very pinched when she'd come to the Gryffindor common room to get him. He knew instantly that whatever it was, it was bad. It just figured that Snape had told. Sure Willow had been more upset-acting at first, but Harry doubted she wanted to get Dawn in trouble.
It was then that Harry noticed Dawn's face was rather splotchy, and she had been crying.
"Oh Harry!" She howled before running to him and throwing her arms about him.
Were they being expelled?
"Dawn, what's wrong?"
"It's... it's... Tara."
"Wh-what? What's Tara? What's wrong with Tara?" His stomach was officially getting to know his knees.
"There's bad, Harry. Bad things are coming, and Buffy's gonna be here soon."
"I am afraid, Harry..." Dumbledore began. "That once again you are going to find yourself in a set of unpleasant circumstances that are quite beyond your control."
Harry pulled back to look at everyone while still having his arms around Dawn. "I don't understand."
"We believe whatever is dwelling inside Professor Maclay that's causing her trouble knows Voldemort's next plans for trying to dispose of you."
Oh is that all. Old hat. Old dangerous hat, but still old hat. Harry was getting fairly tired of Voldemort trying to kill him though. It didn't frighten him anymore, so much as it irritated him now. "Oh."
"Potter, I don't think you should take this so lightly." McGonagall said in her grave voice.
"Who said I was?" Harry said in an overly calm tone. "Honestly, Professor McGonagall, what do you expect me to do? Run about screeching?"
"Potter." Snape hissed. "She is only concerned. Mind your tongue."
"There's a bit of a meeting tonight in the staffroom, Harry. As Miss Summers said her sister will be here. As what's happening will likely end up involving yourself and Dawn, we... I would like for both of you to be there."
"What about..." Harry started.
"Yes Ron and Hermione will be welcome as well."
"And..." Dawn said.
"Draco and Lily too."
"Headmaster..." Snape started.
"There now, Severus, you know as well as I do Draco and Lily could stand as idly by and not know as much as Hermione or Ron could." Dumbledore turned back to Harry and dawn. "You don't have long. I suggest the two of you get going."
Ginny jerked awake.
The night had gotten a bit long, and her History of Magic homework was putting her to sleep. She must have dozed off. Ginny looked around the common room. Ron and Hermione were sitting very close to one another near the fire. They were having a whispered conversation. Neville was doing his work at a table near Ginny's that also held Lavender, Seamus, Dean, and Parvati. Currently, Neville was staring at Lavender in a way that made Ginny think that if looks could hex, Lavender would be out on the floor.
Ginny felt uneasy for some reason. Like someone had ran their hands over her in her sleep or something. She couldn't explain it. All she knew was that she didn't feel very secure right now. That's when she noticed her hand was writing something, and Ginny looked down at her scroll. As she did that, she didn't feel secure at all. In fact, she was downright terrified.
Ron's head jerked up when Ginny went toppling out of her chair with a frightened cry.
He was over there fairly quick. Hermione was right behind him, and Neville got up none too slowly to join them.
Her wide eyes were locked on a piece of parchment. She was shaking, and she'd gone very pale. Ron wrapped an arm around her to help her up while Hermione lifted the paper. Her eyes widened.
"What?" Ron asked.
Hermione handed it to him. Ron's eyes bugged. It was your standard History of Magic lesson... on the top half. The bottom was covered with a name... Tom Marvolo Riddle. Ginny started shaking harder as her eyes landed on it again.
"Perhaps we should take her to Madam Pomfrey?"
Neville looked at the paper. "What does it mean?"
Ron and Hermione exchanged a look. It was clear between them. Did they involve Neville in this? Ron opened his mouth to say something, but Harry coming through the portrait entrance with McGonagall distracted him.
"Harry." Hermione cried, sounding relieved. "What happened? Are you in trouble?"
"Not now, Miss Granger. Come along." McGonagall said.
Harry looked at Ron and Ginny. "What's wrong?"
Ron just handed him the paper. Harry recognized Ginny's neat scrawl.
"We don't know yet, mate."
"I... I was asleep. I wrote it in my sleep." Ginny whispered.
"I think Ginny better come with us too."
"Go with you where?" Neville asked.
Harry sighed. Dare he involved even more people in this? Why not? "Let's go. There's goings on in the staffroom."
"Potter..." McGonagall started.
She trailed off at the look Harry gave her though. She had always felt a bit bad that someone so young was having to take up the mantle of his destiny at such an age, but Harry Potter suddenly didn't seem like a little boy any longer... even though he was all of sixteen.
The group headed out the door. Ron and Neville were supporting a shaky Ginny between them.
Draco was on her almost the very second she stepped through the opening of the door.
"What happened? Have you been crying?" Then Draco noticed Snape behind her. "What's going on?"
"Malfoy, you and Rosenberg are to come with me. You as well, Angel."
"Why?" Lily asked.
Connor didn't have to ask why. He saw the signs. "Something's coming."
"Indeed, Mister Angel."
Draco just nodded. He knew eventually it would come to something. His parents were still out there. A great many Death Eaters were still out there. Like Peter Pettigrew. As well as Voldemort himself.
They were stepping through the door when a voice stopped them.
"And just where do all of you think you're going?"
Montague. Draco rolled his eyes. He was really beginning to get tired of that wanker. He had a scathing retort all ready, but Snape beat him to it.
He whipped his head around the column that was blocking him. "That would be none of your affair, Mister Montague."
"Thanks, Captain Obvious." Dawn muttered.
"I... I didn't see you."
"Obviously." Snape said smoothly.
No one said anything for what seemed like an eternity.
"Well run along, Mister Montague."
He took off. Draco shook his head. What did Lily see in that idiot?
The group had just turned a corner when Draco's eyes landed on Ginny. She was with Potter and his coming from the other direction.
"Ginny?" He said loudly as he was hurrying over. "What happened?"
Ginny pulled herself away from Ron and Neville and practically fell on Draco.
"Minerva?" Snape whispered lightly, while looking at Ginny Weasley.
"I think Poppy might need to have a look at her."
Ginny was shaking and holding onto Draco Malfoy and tight as she could. Her knees were knocking together horribly. She had not been this frightened since her first year at Hogwarts.
Lily had moved near Neville. She saw the way he was looking at Ginny. Lily gave his arm a reassuring pat. In the next second, Connor was standing so close to her that Lily could scarcely move without bumping some part of him.
"What are you doing?" Lily hissed at him through her teeth. "There's plenty of corridor, Connor. You've no need to stand so close."
He was standing very close to her. Neville's eyes went wide. Of course. Of course! He snickered. How could she be missing it? It was so obvious. Connor was glaring at him for snickering, so Neville straightened his spine and glared right back.
"Neville, stop looking at him like that."
Ron exchanged a look with Harry. It was about the same look as McGonagall was exchanging with Snape. It clearly said 'what in the hell was going on with Neville Longbottom?'.
It was followed closely by the silent conveying that they should get moving again. For though the castle had been checked for things or persons that should not be there, the darkness of the corridor was not helping any of them feel reassured. Harry wrapped an arm around Dawn's shoulders and started after Snape and McGonagall. Draco tried to walk Ginny, but she was still shaking, so he swung her up into his arms. Ron made a move towards them, his face twisted in slight anger. He stopped when Hermione grabbed his arm. The worried look she gave him made most of Ron's irritation melt away.
He realized the warning in her face was correct. Malfoy wasn't going to hurt Ginny. If he was, he certainly would have done so by now... right?
Lily, Connor, and Neville brought up the end of the procession. Both boys glared a bit over the top of Lily's head. Neville wasn't a devious person by nature, but perhaps a little competition would get Connor to show his feelings... and get rid of that prat Montague. Merlin, Neville didn't like him for some reason. There had to be less annoying Slytherins for Lily to date. Too bad Malfoy was taken. He was turning out not so bad this term.
So why did he want to do this again? It's not as if he were truly interested in Lily as anything other than a friend. He didn't want to WIN.... he wanted her to. Neville was thinking on it and realized he didn't like any of the girls he knew. Not like that. Sure he liked them in a friendly way. Especially Hermione because she was always trying to help him in potions, but he didn't feel that... zing one was supposed to feel. At least he thought there ought to be a zing. His Gran had mentioned that his father had known the second he saw his mother that there was no one else.
Neville had never looked at anyone and known anything... well except with Harry Potter. The second he'd spoken to Harry, some part of Neville had realized things were going to change in the wizarding world.
Perhaps he was gay.
No. He didn't feel a zing for any boy he'd met either. Colin Creevey was sort of pretty for a bloke, but... they very thought of him naked was not an attractive thought. Neville shook his head to clear it. No, not gay. It was a possibility... just not a possibility for him. Even if he tried, Neville didn't think he could be attracted to a boy. Not even Harry, whom he adored. Not that it would have been so very wrong. Well, his Gran would have a fit, but there was nothing wrong with it. Love was love. You don't choose it. It chooses you. Professor Rosenberg was proof of that to him. She had been involved with a werewolf, the lovely Professor Maclay, and now greasy git Snape. No it just wasn't an option for Neville.
Maybe he was asexual.
No. That wasn't right either. He felt passing attraction for some of the girls in school, he certainly thought Professor Maclay was lovely enough, but nothing more than that, and certainly nothing that would ever move him to act on any of it. No one he knew had captured that much of his eye... yet.
Harry was astonished by the sheer number of people in the staffroom at Hogwarts. Every teacher and aid was there.
Buffy was there with a group of people... and demons... he'd never seen, save Xander.
Angel and his crew were there... with a few new additions.
All the Weasleys Harry new were there. Even Charlie, who was so supposed to be in Romania.
There was a wealth of wizards he didn't know as well. One of them was toking heavily on a pipe.
The biggest shock was the woman who looked like she'd had the hell beaten out of her sitting next to the pipe smoker. If Harry didn't know any better, he'd swear she was...
"Mother." Draco Malfoy whispered.
Draco's utterance caused all kinds of eyes to land on him... holding Ginny.
"Malfoy, what are you doing with my sister?" Percy Weasley snapped.
"Ease off, Perce." Ron said. "Don't start in on Ginny's boyfriend."
"Boyfriend?!" Molly Weasley shrieked, her eyebrows going up higher than eyebrows should be able to go up on a face.
"Is there something wrong with my son dating your daughter?" Narcissa snapped haughtily.
"Only that he's yours and Lucius Malfoy's son."
Narcissa rose shakily to her feet by leaning heavily on a cane.
Draco was still staring with the widest eyes. What in the hell was his mother doing here? And what had happened to her?
Buffy stalked into the center of the room with her hands out. "Whoa, hey, whoa. So don't have time for this. Stopping the bad now, petty bickering later. Anybody who has a problem with that can step outside with me. We'll duke it out, then still do it my way."
Willow snickered and shook her head. "I had forgotten how much I love watching Buffy work."
"Is she often like this? I know that I do not have much to go by, but she seems awfully bossy and full of herself." Severus whispered in her ear.
"She's like this when the 'resistance' needs a 'general'. Buffy's good at battle. She sucks at other things, but she's excellent at waging a little war. Yeah, she's bossy, but she's not full of herself. She's just very confident in her ability to kick a little ass."
"And... who are you?" Bill Weasley asked the little blonde.
"I'm Buffy." She smiled radiantly. "The vampire slayer... and you are..."
AN: The title of this part is a reference to the Rage song. It has very little to do with the actual meaning of the lyrics of said song but rather the tone of it implies a sense of gathering to arms that this part is meant to convey.