Harry Potter and the Daemon Sidhe


Story Summary:
In the aftermath of the events of the Ministry, Harry is in dire need of help. That help arrives in the form of six mysterious people, along with his friends and even foes, who give him the strength and support he will need to defeat Voldemort. Written post-OotP but will take some factors of HBP into account.

Chapter 20 - 20

Chapter Summary:
It's the night of the party and Harry and Ginny dance a very delicate dance to get the true memory from Slughorn. Harry also buys something rather fun for him and Ron.

Chapter 20

Over the next two weeks, Harry cursed the Headmaster many times since in addition to his many classes and training sessions, he now had lessons in etiquette and what Awena liked to call Courtly Graces. The invitation to the Ministry's ball had arrived three days after the Headmaster had spoken to them and since it said 'Harry Potter and guest', Harry had immediately asked Ginny to accompany him. She had said yes which had made him feel better in two ways; first, simply because she'd said yes and second, because it meant he now had a companion in the mad scramble of extra lessons.

When the night of the Ball arrived, Harry was waiting in the Daemon Sidhe's common room in his new formal robes with all the male members of his court and the Daemon Sidhe. Sirius had insisted on buying the new robes for both of them and had dragged them down to Hogsmeade at the first opportunity. Harry's robes were black with scarlet and gold embroidered tracery in patterns of griffins, phoenixes and owls and they were worn over black trousers, black bowtie and a white shirt. Harry hadn't seen Ginny's new robes and she was currently tucked away in Asa's rooms along with Awena, Malini, Hermione and Luna.

"We're going to be late if she takes much longer," Harry muttered as he glanced at the clock on the wall and paced nervously.

"No, you won't," Remus said calmly and the others swallowed smiles.

"I really think this is a bad idea," Harry added. "I don't know anything about how these sort of events work and I still have no idea how I'm going to get that memory from Slughorn."

"Just be polite and be yourself," Gwydion advised. "You'll be fine. And if you don't know what to say, be noncommittal. We'll all be available if you need any help and we're just a thought away."

"As for the memory, lead up to the subject gently," Severus said. "Allow Slughorn to reminisce about your mother."

"In fact use Lily's name liberally," Sirius said from where he was lounging on one of the couches. "Old Sluggy adored her."

"And as much as you dislike it, use your status as the Boy-Who-Lived," Severus continued after a quick glare at Sirius. "That will impress Slughorn as much, if not more, than your parentage. You saw the memory, Slughorn can be easily flattered into doing what you wish."

Harry grimaced. "Yeah, I kind of gathered that. I'm just not sure I'm going to be any good at that sort of thing."

Harry's attention was drawn by movement from the direction of Asa's rooms and the little Healer bustled out into the room followed by the other women.

"Well, here she is," Asa said, beaming.

Ginny stepped out into the common room and Harry's jaw dropped. Ginny's robes were a delicate green colour that emphasised both her skin and her hair and they flowed with every move she made. Her hair had been arranged artfully on her head and several tendrils had been allowed to trail free down her neck. Harry was fairly sure she was wearing make-up though it wasn't obvious and she was also wearing an emerald necklace and earrings.

"Wow, Ginny," he breathed and Ginny blushed as she smiled at him.

There were hastily muffled snickers around the room but Harry didn't hear them.

"Uh, Harry," Remus said, giving the young man a light prod with one finger. "You're going to be late."

Harry gave a start and stared at Remus as he reengaged his brain. "Uh, yeah." He turned and held one arm out to Ginny. "My Queen?" he said with a smile.

Ginny laughed and took his arm. "Why, thank you, your Majesty. So how are we getting to this shindig?"

"Shindig?" Asa said with amused disapproval.

"Oh, alright," Ginny said with amusement. "How are we getting to this elegant soiree?"

Asa rolled her eyes as the others chuckled.

"Portkey," Remus said walking forward with a small brass statue of a lion in his hand which he offered to Harry. "Courtesy of the Headmaster. It'll take you to the atrium at the Ministry and there'll be people there to direct you to the party."

Harry offered the portkey to Ginny and she placed a finger on it.

"Just place your hands on the portkey and say the keyword when you want to come home," Remus said. "It'll bring you to the Entrance Hall. Ready to go?"

Both Harry and Ginny nodded and Remus said, "Leonine."

The portkey activated and Harry and Ginny were dragged along with it, coming to a stumbling halt in the Ministry atrium. Harry took a deep breath and tucked the statue in his robes before looking around. A man in elegant black robes was hurrying over to them and they waited for him to reach them.

"Mr Potter? And Miss Weasley?" the man said briskly but politely.

"Yes," Harry replied, handing the invitation over.

"Please come with me," the man said, gesturing towards the lifts.

The man led them over to the lifts and up to level one where he then led them to a large ballroom. He opened the doors for them and bowed them in. Just before they walked in, Ginny took Harry's arm and they both took deep breaths.

Here we go, Harry said to everyone.

You'll be fine, came the response from a number of people.

Harry and Ginny walked into the ballroom to find it about half full with people standing around in small groups as waiters and waitresses moved through the crowd with trays of drinks and canap├ęs. The walked forward into the crowd and were startled when a loud voice rang out.

"Mr Harry Potter. Miss Ginevra Weasley," the voice boomed into the room.

Several heads turned to stare at them and the susurration of conversation grew slightly for a moment before settling back into its previous level.

"I didn't know they did that," Ginny murmured to him as they wandered towards the grinning red-head who was waving at them.

"Neither did I," Harry replied.

"Hello, Harry, Ginny," Bill Weasley said cheerfully. "I didn't know you two were coming to this."

"It was kind of late notice," Harry said dryly.

"Let me introduce you to a few people," Bill said bringing them over to the group he'd been standing with and Harry saw that they were goblins. "Harry, Ginny, this is Ragnok Breakrock, Takk Silverstone, Griphook Tavakk and Yarakk Gringott. Harry Potter and my sister, Ginny."

The goblins gravely shook hands with Harry and Ginny.

"Pleased to meet you," Harry said to the four goblins, Ginny echoing his words. "Although I have met you before, Griphook. You took me down to my vault when I was eleven."

Griphook looked slightly surprised as did the other goblins. "You remember that, Mr Potter?" Griphook said in a curious tone.

Harry grinned. "Yes, it was fun. I like those carts."

The goblins laughed, the sound scratchy and rumbling.

"Not many wizards would agree with you," Griphook said with open amusement.

"I understand that you made an...interesting announcement the other night," Yarakk Gringott said before anyone else could say anything.

"Yes, I suppose I did," Harry replied with a small smile.

"It was true," Yarakk pressed. "All of it?"

"Yes," Harry said plainly.

The goblins exchanged speculative glances but before anything more could be said they were interrupted by the arrival of a tall, thin man in Healer's robes.

"Forgive me for interrupting," the man said apologetically. "Mr Potter, Miss Weasley, I am Healer Adain Taylor. Professor Dumbledore mentioned that you might be able to help me with something."

"He did?" Harry said with surprise. Know anything about this? he asked his court, quickly giving them the information.

No, but it would be like the Headmaster to wangle the meeting with Slughorn in this manner, Severus said dryly.

"Well, if would excuse us," Harry said with a polite bow to the goblins and Bill.

The goblins bowed back. "We must speak again, Mr Potter," Yarakk said with a significant look.

"Certainly," Harry replied then he allowed Healer Taylor to usher he and Ginny away.

"The Headmaster wanted me to introduce you to Horace Slughorn," the Healer said once they were out of earshot of Bill and the goblins. "I was a member of Professor Slughorn's Slug Club when I was a student."

"Slug Club?" Harry said curiously.

Adain Taylor gave a small, slightly self-conscious laugh. "Professor Slughorn liked to have little gatherings of some of the students he was particularly fond of. It got called the Slug Club at some point over the years he taught at Hogwarts and the name kind of stuck."

"What was he like as a teacher?" Ginny asked, her arm still tucked through Harry's.

"Oh, excellent," Adain said enthusiastically. "He was a stickler for doing things right but he was always on the lookout for good students to...well, shepherd if that's the way to put it."

By this time they had reached one of the corners of the room where they saw a man they easily recognised from the memory they had been shown as Horace Slughorn though he now looked much older.

"Professor Slughorn?" Adain said with a smile.

"Ah, Adain," Slughorn said benevolently. "How wonderful to see you again! I hear you're doing exceptionally well at St Mungo's."

Adain blushed a little. "Yes, thank you, sir. I must thank you for speaking to Healer MacIntyre on my behalf. It...really wasn't necessary."

"Nonsense, my boy," Slughorn said with an expansive wave of his hand. "Least I could do for one of my best students. And you never know, I might need a Healer myself one of these days."

Adain blushed again then seemed to remember what he was there for. "Professor? I have a couple of people I think you'd like to meet. This is Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley. Mr Potter is the son of James Potter and Lily Evans and Miss Weasley is the youngest sister of Bill Weasley."

Horace Slughorn looked at them with undiluted pleasure. "My goodness! How wonderful to meet you both. I knew both your parents, Mr Potter. That father of yours was quite the rogue." His eyes twinkled madly with delight as Adain slipped away. "But that mother of yours seemed to tame him very handily. Ah, Lily was a wonderful young lady and quite exceptional at Charms. And you've been doing quite well yourself, haven't you?" Harry didn't get a chance to answer before Slughorn turned his attention to Ginny. "And Miss Weasley, how lovely to meet you as well. Your brother was quite the student and I have no doubts you are as well. If I remember correctly, his speciality was Charms. What about you?"

"I...well, yes, I am doing well in Charms," Ginny said, a little nonplussed.

"She's very good at the Bat-Bogey Hex," Harry said with a small smile.

"Really?" Slughorn said with delight. "Pity we're in the middle of a party. I wouldn't mind seeing that. What about you, Mr Potter? What's your speciality? Lily's was Charms while I believe James preferred Transfiguration. Is it one of those?"

"It's...Defence Against the Dark Arts, actually," Harry said firmly.

Slughorn looked surprised and a little impressed. "Well, I suppose that makes a certain amount of sense."

Should I try asking now or wait? Harry asked his court uncertainly.

Ask now but work up to it, Devante suggested. Let him know you don't think any worse of him that he let slip whatever it was he let slip. Let him believe you think Riddle took advantage of his good nature.

Riddle's very good at that, Ginny said with more than a little bitterness.

Harry hesitated slightly then gave Slughorn a serious look. "You must realise that my presence here isn't entirely...coincidence?" he said delicately.

Slughorn gave a start and a shamefaced look surfaced briefly. "Dumbledore sent you?"

"In a manner of speaking," Harry replied.

"I'm not sure what else I can tell him," Slughorn blustered.

Harry paused. "You...do know that you...wouldn't be the first person Tom Riddle has taken advantage of? He was and still is very good at that."

Ginny leaned forward and placed a hand on Slughorn's arm. "And with your obvious good nature, you'd have been an easy mark for him. You wouldn't have been expecting him to do something like that since you believed the best of him and therefore you wouldn't have been guarding against it."

"He was an excellent student," Slughorn said with a frown. "And a charming young man. I can't imagine why he's done what he's done."

"I'm not sure any of us can answer that question," Harry replied, shaking his head sadly. "But I do know he has to be stopped and it seems I must be the one who does that. Your memory of...that night could be valuable in helping me stop him." He paused and gave Slughorn a sympathetic look. "I can understand why you don't want us to see Tom Riddle making a fool of you but he's done that to people far more paranoid than you. Even Alastor Moody has been fooled by Riddle. Even I have. I, for one, won't think any worse of you."

"Nor would I," Ginny said, smiling warmly at Slughorn.

The double-pronged and very sympathetic attack was starting to have an effect. Slughorn looked concerned and a little confused. He also seemed to be on the verge of giving in.

Back off, came Severus' voice in both of their minds. You have him perfectly set up, now back off. Don't rush him. Underneath all the bluster, he is still a Slytherin. If you push further now, you'll lose him.

Harry gave a small, slightly self-conscious laugh and he ran a hand through his hair.

"Forgive me, Professor," he said a little sheepishly. "We're in the middle of a party and here I am bringing up things like this. This is hardly the time or place for this conversation."

Slughorn relaxed and beamed at Harry. "Not to worry, my dear boy."

"Let's talk about something more appropriate," Harry said with an eager grin. "You taught both of my parents and I...well, I never really knew them. Would you be willing to tell me a little bit about them? Especially my mother?"

"Of course!" Slughorn said, his smile broad and delighted.

He then launched into a series of highly complimentary and sometimes very funny stories about not only Lily but also James and the Marauders. Both Harry and Ginny enjoyed themselves immensely and when they were approached by others wishing to speak with the Boy-Who-Lived and his lovely companion, they parted from Slughorn with genuine regret.

He's very interesting, Harry said as he and Ginny spoke to Amelia Bones and some others from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

I like him, Ginny added.

He was always like that with those who met his standards, Severus said in a warning tone. He liked gathering the...gifted to him. And remembering them after they left.

What Severus is saying so obliquely is he's a social climber and a namedropper, Remus said dryly. He's not a bad man but just remember what he is.

We will, Harry said then both he and Ginny turned their full attention back to the conversation.

Finally everyone was called in for dinner and Harry and Ginny found themselves at the same table as Amelia Bones' group. They both relaxed a little at that and Harry took the opportunity to quiz Madam Bones about the Aurors Department, what it took to get in and what they generally did. Ginny ended up in a conversation with one of the Aurors and the dinner passed amiably enough. Afterwards the fundraising part of the evening began. This took the form of an auction of various items that had been donated to the hospital and the young couple watched with interest as the auctioneer, who turned out to be Slughorn at his cheerful best, encouraged bids for the various items.

"Well, wasn't that fun!" Slughorn said after a particularly spirited round of bidding. "Now, the next item is two tickets to the Puddlemere United versus Chudley Cannons match courtesy of Puddlemere United. The game is just before Christmas for those who want to know. Now who'll start the bidding? Do I hear five galleons?"

Harry stared at the portly man for a moment then he raised his hand. "Five galleons."

"Harry! What are you doing?" Ginny hissed.

"Come on, Chudley versus Puddlemere!" Harry protested. "Ron'd kill me if I didn't try and get those tickets."

Ginny shook her head with amusement and watched as Harry got into a bidding war with a diminutive Healer and a portly man from the Ministry. The amount reached two hundred galleons before the Healer dropped out and Harry finally won the prize at the cost of two hundred and eight galleons.

"Sold to Mr Harry Potter!" Slughorn announced in a voice full of enthusiastic merriment. "Enjoy the game!"

Harry leaned back in his seat with a grin as a young woman came scurrying over. She got his vault number from his and his signature to authorise the removal of the galleons then she handed over an envelope with quiet congratulations.

"And I suppose you're going to take Ron," Ginny whispered archly.

"You don't mind, do you?" Harry said anxiously.

Ginny laughed. "No! Ron's the Chudley fan in the family. I prefer the Holyhead Harpies. Us girls have got to stick together, you know."

"Well done, Harry," Amelia Bones said with an indulgent smile. "Susan tells me you're quite the Quidditch player yourself. Seeker, I believe?"

Harry nodded. "Yes and my friend Ron is a huge Chudley fan."

"Well, you two should enjoy yourselves," Amelia said. "Though I hope he's not expecting Chudley to win. Puddlemere are doing very well this year."

"I think it's more hope than expect," Harry laughed. "But he never gives up that hope."

Madam Bones laughed and they all turned their attention back to the auction. It took nearly two hours to get through the rest of the items and by the end the representatives from St Mungo's looked both gratified and very pleased. Once the auction was over, everyone stood as some people prepared to leave and others gathered in small groups to continue chatting.

"So do we wait or go?" Ginny said quietly.

Her question was answered when they were hailed by Bill again. The walked over and joined him and the goblins.

"You're indulging my brother's insane obsession with Chudley, aren't you?" Bill said with mock-exasperation. "How on earth are Charlie and I going to get him to support a decent team if you go around winning tickets to Chudley games?"

"Sorry," Harry said with an unrepentant grin. "But Ron's my best friend and what's the point of having a best friend if you can't indulge his insanity every now and then?"

"Darn. You're a lost cause as well, aren't you?" Bill said sadly though his eyes were twinkling. "He's converted you to Chudley."

"True, very true," Harry admitted.

Bill, Harry and Ginny laughed and the goblins chuckled politely.

"Mr Potter, I believe we have some interests in common," Yarakk Gringott said decisively after the levity subsided. "And you are surprisingly unlike the majority of the wizarding world. Bill told us that you were but we were unsure whether or not to believe him. Now we do. We are aware of what the Daemon Sidhe signifies and what that means for you. May I presume that this young lady is your Queen?"

"Yes, she is," Harry said, much to Bill's surprise.

Yarakk nodded approvingly. "Should you need the aid of the goblins of Gringotts, please do not hesitate to ask, Mr Potter. I cannot guarantee we will be able to help but if it is within our power, we will do what we can. Now, I am afraid we must take our leave."

The stocky goblin held out his hand and Harry shook it. The other goblins followed suit as did Bill though from the expression on the eldest Weasley's face, both Harry and Ginny would be hearing from him very soon. The Gringotts contingent then walked away and left the room. As soon as they had left, a young man sidled up to the two of them.

"Mr Potter? Miss Weasley?" he said diffidently. "Mr Slughorn has asked if you would join him for an aperitif."

"We'd be glad to," Harry said and the young man led them into a small side room where Slughorn was waiting.

The young man served them, presenting them with small glasses of a deep red wine as well as tea and an assortment of small cakes, biscuits and chocolates.

"That's a very good muscat," Slughorn said with good humour. "I know you're both underage but there's hardly enough in there to get a cat drunk, let alone two healthy young people like the two of you."

The three of them sat down and chatted for a few minutes about the auction as they drank the muscat. Finally Slughorn sobered and took a deep breath.

"I've been thinking about what you said earlier, Mr Potter," he said slowly.

"Please call me Harry, Professor," Harry said.

"Why, thank you, Harry," Slughorn said, looking pleased. "Though I'm not really a Professor anymore. Anyway, I've been thinking about what you said earlier and I've come to the conclusion that...well, perhaps I was wrong to mislead Albus in the way I have. I just..." His voice trailed off and he looked uncertain.

"Tom Riddle took advantage of you, Professor," Harry said earnestly, noticing that Slughorn did not protest the title. "You were doing your best for him, to help him with his schooling and his career after school, and he took shameless advantage of your good nature. Please don't be embarrassed about that."

"Yes, yes, you're quite right, Harry," Slughorn said, almost to himself then he straightened in his seat and gave Harry a decisive look. "I shall give you the full memory, Harry. I shall get it tomorrow and send it to you by owl at Hogwarts. I hope it will give you the help you need and that you can forgive me for my foolishness."

"Thank you, Professor," Harry said gratefully. "This means a great deal to me and I'm sure the memory will be a great help. I know Professor Dumbledore will be very grateful as well."

Well done, came Severus' voice, full of amusement and surprise. You took exactly the right note with him. I wouldn't have expected that kind of skill from a couple of Gryffindors.

Well, the Sorting Hat did want to put me in Slytherin, Harry replied, feeling the startled response from the Potions Master.

And I have six brothers, Ginny said with a mental laugh. You learn manipulation early in a family like mine if you're a girl.

Various reactions, ranging from surprise to amusement to indignation resonated down the link then the others went silent to allow Harry and Ginny to concentrate on what they were doing.

Slughorn made a small harrumphing noise then Ginny drew him into a discussion on Charms and her brother and they passed an oddly pleasant hour soothing the older man into accepting his decision. Finally they took their leave of Slughorn and headed for the atrium. As they got into the lift, Harry took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"Thank Merlin that's over," he said with relief.

"I'll agree with that," Ginny said wearily. "I can't believe how tiring it is being nice to someone."

"At least we got it," Harry said.

"We got more than just the memory, I think," Ginny mused.

"Yeah, I know," Harry said with a grin. "Quidditch tickets."

Ginny rolled her eyes and laughed. "I was talking about the goblins, Harry, not your ill-gotten gains."

"They weren't ill-gotten," Harry protested. "They were very well-gotten."

Ginny's eyes twinkled. "I'm not sure that's a word."

"Didn't you know? I'm the Boy-Who-Lived. I'm allowed to make up words," Harry said cheekily.

Ginny laughed and linked her arm in his as the doors of the lift opened and they walked out into the atrium.

"So there are some advantages then," she said.

"Of course," Harry replied. "And yes, I know we got something from goblins. Not entirely sure what it was but I guess we'll find out in time. I think we're going to get some very interesting letters from Bill though."

"I noticed," Ginny said as Harry pulled out the statue and she placed her finger on it. "Just as long as he doesn't tell Mum and Dad before we've had a chance to talk to him."

Harry looked a little alarmed. "Yeah, I hope so too," he said fervently. "Leonine."

With that word, the portkey activated and dragged them back to Hogwarts.