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Harry / Tonks ship

Ginny Weasley stood in the Entrance Hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  With being a redhead from a family of redheads, all of which had been Gryffindors for generations, she felt very out of place wearing a formal black robe with yellow trim.

Neville, with Hannah on his arm, came up the steps from the direction of the Hufflepuff common room.  Spotting her, the couple came over.

"I like the colors you're wearing," Hannah said with a grin.

"Hey, you're not defecting, are you?" Neville asked humorously.

Hannah turned to him.  "What's wrong with Hufflepuff?"

"Nothing, dear, but if she changes houses, we'll lose our seeker," he answered calmly.

Ginny laughed.  "Sorry, Hannah, I'm not changing houses.  This is part of my costume."  She looked at the outfits that the couple in front of her were wearing.  "Robin Hood and Maid Marian?"

Hannah smiled while Neville blushed.

"So who's Little John and who's the Sherriff of Nott-"

Hogwarts main entrance opened, drawing the eye of everyone in the Entrance Hall.

First to enter was Merlin.  He wore a plain gray robe, leaned on a walking staff that was capped with a brilliant sapphire, and had an owl perched upon his shoulder. 

Next in, head held high and stride purposeful, was Godric Gryffindor.  He wore scarlet robes with gold trim.  A sword swung at his hip.

Rowena Ravenclaw glided in, wearing midnight blue with bronze trim.  Her face bespoke calm and intelligence.

Lastly, Salazar Slytherin entered, wearing jade green robes with silver at the cuffs.  His only ornamentation was a highly detailed, snake-shaped brooch done in silver.

Godric, Salazar, and Merlin all drew wands and flicked them at Ginny.  As she was warned about this beforehand, she suppressed her initial impulse to dive to the side and pull out her own wand.  Within moments, she had seemingly grown several inches and her hair had grown out and turned black.

Godric bowed before her.  "Lady Hufflepuff, it would honor me to escort you to Hogwarts All Hallow's Eve Ball."

Suppressing the urge to giggle, Ginny curtseyed to him.  "It will be my honor, my Lord Gryffindor."

Arm in arm, Godric and Helga entered the Great Hall, followed closely by Salazar and Rowena.

Merlin turned a benign smile upon the dumbstruck students.  "What, have none of you ever heard of the Founders of Hogwarts?  Go on.  Shoo.  Go in there and enjoy the party."  Not getting any reaction aside from some stunned blinks, Merlin shrugged.  Leaning heavily upon his staff, he went toward the Great Hall and could be heard muttering to the owl on his shoulder, "What do you think, Archimedes?  Are those four kids worth keeping out of trouble?"


Five minutes earlier, in the Great Hall.

Albus Dumbledore was enjoying himself.

He wore a set of very dark blue robes that he'd added twinkling lights to.  He'd introduced himself to Professor Sinistra as "Night Sky".  At first, the astronomy professor snorted in amusement, but shortly she was studying his robes in fascination.

The house-elves were busy preparing a feast fit for a king.  As, indeed, there was more than one king in attendance.  Kings, queens, knights, Amazon warriors, historical figures, and current pop stars took the place of the former student body.  They were arranged around the room in tables that could seat ten.  A stage that would eventually hold the live band (he'd booked The High Jinx) stood in front of a dance floor.

The last few students were straggling in, so Dumbledore stood.  The Hall quieted as everyone turned to him.  "Good evening, everyone.  I would first like to thank Professors Flitwick and Hagrid for the marvelous decorations."  He led the students in a round of polite applause.  "Next, before we begin the feast that has been prepared for us, I would like to announce that there will be a costume contest.  Please see Professor McGonagall," he gestured to the stately witch dressed as a high Victorian lady, "to register your votes, beginning after the first dance.  Now, we -" 

He stopped, his attention totally caught by the four magicians entering the Great Hall.  They were clearly dressed as the Founders and, as a group, were radiating magic of all kinds.  It was nearly dazzling.  He blinked his eyes clear as a fifth, dressed as Merlin he presumed, joined them.

Dumbledore's reaction was spotted by everyone in the room.  Almost as one, the students turned and stared at the newcomers, ignoring the remaining students sneaking into the room from behind them.

Dumbledore cleared his throat.  "It seems we have a few guests.  May I inquire as to your names?"

Godric laughed a booming laugh.  "Headmaster, are not the Four Founders welcome in this, our school?"

Merlin harrumphed.

"Ah, yes.  And the surly curmudgeon, Merlin the Great, as well?" Godric added as an afterthought.

Merlin rapped his staff upon Godric's head.  "Insolent upstart."  Archimedes hooted as if scolding Godric as well.

"I . . .  Well, yes, of course," Dumbledore stammered, his usually unflappable countenance shattered.

Rowena frowned prettily at one of the large tables.  Taking her wand in hand, she waved it and muttered a few words before the table shrunk and five of the chairs disappeared.  Godric held a seat for Helga and then for Rowena.  Merlin dropped himself into a seat with no fanfare.  Salazar, after waving his wand around for a few seconds, slid into the remaining seat.  All five turned toward Dumbledore expectantly.

"Ah . . . yes.  Yes, tuck in!" Dumbledore belatedly said.

Food appeared on all the plates, but most of the attention of the Hall was still on the five sitting by themselves in the back.

Filius Flitwick, dressed as a court jester, handed McGonagall a sickle.  Her sparkling eyes matched his wide grin.

Albus Dumbledore suddenly wasn't enjoying himself anymore.


"Who are they?" a voice hissed in his ear.

With the dinner over and the band beginning to tune up, Albus looked over at his defense professor.  "I am uncertain, Severus.  Presumably Harry and his three friends.  I know that Miss Weasley was spotted earlier dressed in black and yellow, so I am confident that she is Lady Hufflepuff.  I will presume that Lady Ravenclaw is therefore Miss Tonks.  Mrs. Shacklebolt is possible, but less likely I believe.  I am uncertain as to the specific identities of the remaining three, but they must be Harry, Kingsley, and Remus."

"Potter is likely Gryffindor," Snape spat.  "His ego would absolutely demand it."

Dumbledore kept silent on the speculation.  He didn't dare admit Harry's lineage.  There was no telling Severus's reaction to that news.  "I have been unable to access any of their minds beyond Miss Weasley's, and she does not know their identities either.  She is certain that one of them is indeed Harry, but beyond that . . .  Are you able to determine which is which from here?"

Snape grudgingly shook his head.  "No.  Even their wands all look the same.  I've no idea who is which, and I would love to know how they managed it.  Potter was an abysmal student, so it can't be occlumency."  Snape stood and stalked straight through the room, heading toward the five in question.  When he got to within ten feet of the table, he stumbled and turned himself around, heading back toward the staff table.  He'd only gone one step when he stopped and spun in place with a snarl.

Recognizing the effects of a Stay Away Charm, Albus crossed the room to stand beside his upset professor.  Even the band had stopped what they were doing to watch.  Calling across the open space, Dumbledore said, "I am heartened that you decided to attend, Lord-Baron Potter."

They all ignored the headmaster.  Instead, they were watching the former potions professor silently fuming.

"Mr. Snape, you seem to have something on your chest," Merlin observed.

"So, please speak it," Godric invited.

"Potter, what'd you do to the point system?  My Slytherins are being unjustly punished!"

"Your Slytherins?" Salazar asked quietly.  "Funny, I was under the impression that they were MY Slytherins."

Snape's face contorted further.  "You imbecile, you know what I mean.  You aren't Lord Slytherin anymore than Potter there is Lord Gryffindor," he finished with a sneer and gesture at Godric.

"My, you are upset, aren't you?" Merlin asked with a smile.  "Perhaps you need some Blood-Pressure Reducing Potion?"

"A nice Calming Draught, perhaps," Helga suggested.

"Please, let us all act as adults," Dumbledore implored.

Godric looked at him in amusement.  "We are.  Is it our fault that Mr. Snape cannot control his anger?"

"A good laxative would do you wonders," Rowena said to Snape.

Snape gave a wordless scream of aggravation before fuming, glaring, and fingering his wand.

Godric sighed and raised his wand.  "Accio Sorting Hat."  The seven magicians were silent until the Sorting Hat flew into the room and landed his hand.  He placed it onto the table and said, "Greetings, Hogwarts Sorting Hat."

Alistair the Sorting Hat replied in a tone of grand amusement.  "Lord Gryffindor.  It has been quite some time since I've spoken with you or your companions.  How may I help you?"

"Professor Snape has accused one Harry Potter of manipulating the point system to work against Slytherin house," Salazar replied.  "I'm concerned that anyone may have biased the points against my house."

Merlin said, "As you're the most direct link we have to the magics of Hogwarts, we're hoping you could clear up this little mystery before Mr. Snape pops that pulsing vein in his forehead."

Alistair seemed to turn in place to address the angry professor.  "I assure you, Professor Snape, that the point system is totally fair and completely unbiased.  You are working under the same rules set that the other professors are."

"You're lying," Snape stated flatly.

Alistair seemed to sigh.  "Albus, we have warned you and warned you.  He's now refusing to see the truth that's laid before him.  You need to control him, for his own good."

Eyes flaring, Snape started to draw his wand before he suddenly froze in place.

Dumbledore sighed.  "Harry, please release him."

"Lord-Baron Potter," Alistair the Sorting Hat emphasized slightly, "did nothing.  Hogwarts herself is protecting me.  He's brought this upon himself, Albus."

Dumbledore looked old and tired by this point.  "If he promises to leave you in peace, will he be released?"

Snape snapped back into motion.  Glaring malevolently at Godric and Alistair, he turned around and stalked away.

Dumbledore looked sadly at his departing professor.  He turned and looked toward Godric.  "Lord-Baron, may I speak with you privately?"

Without warning, Godric had a powerful and blatant version of the Trust Me Charm radiating out from him.  He made no effort to hide what he'd done as the magic caused ripples of reaction in the sea of silently watching students.  "Lord-Baron Potter only wishes to enjoy a Halloween Ball this evening, Headmaster," Godric said with a level stare, challenging Dumbledore to accuse him of using a spell that Dumbledore himself always had active.

Albus Dumbledore bowed his head in acknowledgement of all the points that had been made.  He turned and left without a word.

Godric let the charm evaporate.  After a few moments, the students turned back to their own tables, now chattering excitedly.  After a few more moments, the band resumed their setup.

"Well, this has been fun," Helga said ironically.

"Indeed," Alistair said.  "Incidentally, Lord Gryffindor, you should be informed that Professor Snape has resorted to using detentions in place of points.  As there are no checks against him doing so . . ."

Rowena shook her head.  "Why doesn't that surprise me?  How petty can he get?"

"Never ask a question that you do not wish to hear the answer to," Alistair wisely said.

"I think we already know the answer to the question anyway," Merlin noted dryly.  "As to the detentions, I predict that THAT little loophole will be closed shortly."

Rowena looked at him in amusement.  "Merlin the Great Seer has spoken?"

Merlin looked highly affronted.  "Respect your elders, young lady.  I can still put you over my knee if I need to."

Alistair and Helga just laughed.


As the applause after the last dance died away, Professor McGonagall stepped onto the stage.  "I have here the results of the costume contest."  A rustling of robes was heard as everyone turned to look at her.  Her eyes sparkled in mirth.  "Unfortunately, the first two places were won by non-students.  Namely Godric Gryffindor and Merlin."  She nodded toward the back table, still holding the unapproachable quintet.

Godric and Merlin smiled.  Rowena looked very put out that she hadn't won.  Helga and Salazar merely looked amused.  Snape's teeth were grinding audibly.

"Therefore," McGonagall went on, "the award goes to Ginny Weasley and companions."

The four sitting with her broke into applause, joined immediately by most of the students.

As Ginny / Helga walked toward McGonagall, Merlin passed a knut to Salazar.

After Ginny accepted a small trophy with a harlequin mask on it, she smiled out at the sea of applauding students with visible embarrassment.  Once the clapping had died down, she said, "In the spirit of our esteemed headmaster, I have only a few words: nitwit, blubber, oddment, tweak."

At the last word, every male in the room, minus Salazar, Godric, and Merlin, abruptly transformed into an animal.

After one stunned moment, Godric stood and said in a Sonorus Charm enhanced voice, "That, I believe, is our cue to leave.  Fear not, my fine fellows.  The transformations will fade in five minutes."  Godric led the other three out the door.

They heard Ginny trying to explain to McGonagall that she honestly HADN'T know about the prank beforehand as the four exited the castle.

The sound of feminine laughter from within the castle carried much further than that.


Back in Gryffindor Keep and dressed in casual clothes, the four pranksters were describing the end of the evening to the remaining two adults.

"Dumbledore turned into a giant albino bug of some kind."

"A bumblebee, of course!"

Laughter.  "I should've expected that!"

"Did you see Snape?  He was a BAT."

"Probably a vampire bat."

Laughter.

"Let's see, I think Ron was a weasel, Draco became a hippogriff, Seamus was a zebra, and Filch was a mutt dog.  Who else?"

"Flitwick became a lion of all things.  Hagrid was a manticore."

"Must've made him happy."

"Probably.  I think I saw Zack Smith become a baboon."

"Slughorn became, unsurprisingly, a giant slug with a horn."

"I also saw an ostrich, an elephant, a giraffe, and least three bunny rabbits in that mélange."

"Regular zoo, wasn't it?"

"Wish I coulda been there to see it!"

"Great job on the occlumency potion, by the way."

"I'm so envious of YOU, especially."

"Well, not all of us could be Lord Gryffindor."

"Yes, it takes a special person to pull it off properly."

"Indubitably.  Style, panache -"

"Overblown ego . . ."

"Hey!"

Laughter.

"That transformation powder was great.  Remind me to write Fred and George tomorrow to tell them that they're geniuses."

"Remind me to never get on their bad side!"

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Author Notes:

Much thanks to Dale for helping me hammer this chapter into shape.

I'm curious to know everyone's guesses as to who's who at the Ball. I'll tell my own answers and reasoning when I post chapter 28.

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