Lavender and Parvati’s flat in the Forest Hill London neighborhood had a relatively large reception room, which was appropriate – and necessary – considering Lavender’s tendency to throw parties whenever it tickled her fancy. That was pretty often.

Tonight the reception room was fairly crowded. Lavender had charmed the lighting to cast a pinkish glow over the room. The room seemed to be vibrating slightly, a result, no doubt, of the loud music and the voices that were raised to make themselves heard over that music. There was obviously a soundproofing charm on the room because no neighbors had yet come banging on the door to demand that the volume be lowered.

The guests were mostly Gryffindors, though there were a nice number of Ravenclaws and a few Hufflepuffs as well. There were no Slytherins, a fact that Ginny was grateful for.

“They must have decided not to come,” she thought to herself with a sigh of relief.

“What are you looking so relieved about?” Ron called over the sound of the music.

Ginny shrugged, not wanting to mention the missing Slytherins to Ron and the friends who were standing with him. But Luna, not really noticing Ginny’s reluctance, said, “Probably because Malfoy didn’t show up.”

Ginny elbowed her with a sharp look.

Ron and Co. stared at Luna.

“I’m sorry,” called Hermione. “Could you repeat that? The music was too loud and I didn’t hear you.”

“Never mind,” Ginny replied a bit too quickly.

Harry looked at her carefully. “I thought she said that Malfoy no-showed. Why would Malfoy be here? He hasn’t shown his face in years. And the last place that he’d be likely to show it would be at Lavender’s party.”

“Yeah well,” Ginny said, throwing a resentful glare at Luna, “she invited his friend and him to come and they said they would. Never should have believed them; they are Slytherins after all. Not that I’m complaining – luck has favored us tonight by keeping them away.”

“Why would Lavender invite him? And where did she see him in the first place? He hasn’t been spotted in England since the end of the war!” Ron frowned.

“Who’s his friend?” Hermione wanted to know.

“Blaise Zabini,” Luna replied.

“Ah. Well, I suppose that explains it.”

“Explains what, Hermione?” Ron asked.

“Why she invited him; she is Lavender, after all.”

Harry looked confused. “What on earth are you talking about? What’s wrong with Lavender?”

Hermione exchanged an amused glance with Ginny and Luna.

“No one said there was anything wrong with her,” Luna answered. “All Hermione said was that she’s Lavender. By which, I presume, she meant that she’s a girl who can’t resist inviting any handsome men that she happens to meet to her parties.”

Ron looked disgusted. “Handsome? Zabini?”

“And Malfoy,” Luna added.

“And MALFOY?” Ron exclaimed, giving Luna a look that she’d received often at Hogwarts; it was the Luna-is-Loony look.

“Well, that’s what Lavender said, at least” Luna shrugged. “I haven’t seen them lately and can’t offer my opinion on the subject.”

“Why would it matter if they’re…handsome?” Harry asked with a frown. “They’re Slytherins – why would anyone want them at their party?

“You don’t know Lavender very well, do you Harry?” Ginny looked amused.

“Well it’s just as well for him that they didn’t show up,” Ron huffed. “I would have had them arrested if they did.”

“Ron,” Hermione said, looking uncomfortable to be defending the Slytherins. “You can’t arrest them. They were cleared of all charges. Blaise Zabini has been completely accepted and as for Malfoy,” she threw a nervous glance at Harry, “I’m not defending him, really, but you’re the one who testified for him!”

Harry was looking distinctly disgruntled, but he didn’t argue with Hermione.

“He’s also one of the richest businesswizards in Britain,” Hermione continued, “and arresting him could hurt a lot of people – think of all the people he employs! The ministry would not be happy with you if you did something like that.”

Ron gave Hermione a disgusted look. “I’m going to get some more punch,” he said, and he turned on his heel left in a huff.

“It’s spiked, isn’t it?” Luna asked conversationally.

“Yeah,” Harry replied, trading the concerned look on his face for a grin. “Good old Ogden’s Old.”

“Typical,” Ginny muttered, glaring over at the rowdy crowd that was obviously getting tipsier by the minute.

“Want some, Ginny?” Harry asked, grinning even more broadly.

“No thanks – ” she started, but was interrupted by a very loud doorbell chime.

Lavender skipped over to the door and flung it open. She gave a wicked smile to the two men and the woman standing in the doorway. “You’re late!” she said. “Come on in.”

“On second thought, Harry,” Ginny said in a quiet voice, “I think I would like some punch.”

Draco had lost count of the number of times that he’d told himself that he was Draco Malfoy, that he was better than everyone else, that he didn’t care what they said, and would not be intimidated by the simpletons of the universe. The pep-talks had been successful; Draco was now absolutely certain that he would not be able to stand a moment of the party because the participants were completely inferior to him.

Now as he, Blaise, and Pansy walked into the flat, Draco looked around contemptuously. It was not a very classy party, in his opinion. Not a whit of caviar in sight.

Blaise, on the other hand, was smiling broadly at the girl who’d opened the door as he apologized for coming late.

“Sorry – just got caught up in some things, you know how it is…”

“Of course,” the girl, who Draco knew must be the Lavender person Blaise had mentioned, said. “Come on in and help yourselves to some refreshments. I’m running off to get some refills; I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere!” She winked cheekily at Blaise before she turned and rushed away.

“What a flirt,” Pansy sniffed.

“You’re one to talk,” Draco thought to himself.

“Wonder which of these girls are the ones that Lavender told us about,” Blaise said to Draco as they walked into the room and he surveyed the crowd. “Wow; they don’t look too pleased to see us, do they?”

Draco glanced around. The guests were all standing still staring at them with varying degrees of surprise and shock on their faces. His lips curled into a sneer.

“I told you we shouldn’t have come,” he said to Blaise waspishly. His eyes fell on Potter and his friends. “Mark my words - they’ll start throwing hexes at us any moment now.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Blaise answered lightly. “They’re just startled. They’ll get over it.”

Sure enough, after a moment, the crowd hopped to life again, turning away from the new arrivals and back to the party.

Blaise’s eyes were looking at someone with a light of interest. “I’m going to mingle,” he said, and immediately walked in the direction of his gaze.

Draco turned to watch him, resisting a scowl.

“It was his idea to come and he just walks away, leaving me to deal with these freaks by myself,” he muttered.

“I’ll help you,” Pansy said brightly, taking his arm.

“Oh even better,” Draco groaned to himself. But, ever the gentleman, he let her hold onto his arm as they walked over to the side of the room, not far from where Blaise had gone.

Draco looked over at Blaise. He was saying something to a blonde girl with large blue eyes who even Draco had to admit was pretty. He couldn’t hear what Blaise was saying – the music was too loud – but he assumed that he was introducing himself. And flirting. Standing next to the blonde girl was a redheaded girl who was looking at Blaise with a clear expression of distrust.

“That must be a Weasley,” Draco thought to himself. Then he frowned. Weasleys were supposed to be recognizable from their red hair and their old ragged robes, and this woman’s robes were obviously new. Feeling annoyed at this, he shifted his focus to the middle of the room where some couples were dancing. They looked a bit inebriated. Draco looked toward the refreshment table, searching for the alcohol that was obviously affecting these people.

“Punch? Their drink of choice is punch?” he scoffed.

“Very low class,” Pansy sniffed. “Don’t you agree?”

Draco was distracted from answering as he noticed Blaise walking with the blonde girl over to the area where the couples were dancing and starting to dance with her. Draco didn’t blame him; she was pretty. But that didn’t mean that he approved; what if she was a mudblood? Didn’t Blaise care?

“Want to dance?” Pansy interrupted his thoughts.

“No thank you; I’d rather not risk coming into contact with any of these people.”

“We could dance next to Blaise,” she tried to wheedle.

“If you want to dance, go find yourself a different partner,” he said uncaringly. “I don’t feel like it.”

Pansy folded her arms, leaned against the wall, and glared at him. Draco ignored her, so she turned her glare to the dancing couples. This lasted for a minute, then she turned to him and snapped, “Fine! I’ll go do just that!” and she stalked off towards a crowd of guys that Draco didn’t recognize.

When the song ended, Blaise said something to the girl who nodded and headed back toward her friend while Blaise moved his head, looking for something. When his eyes fell on Draco, he grinned and hurried over to him as the music switched to a softer song that finally allowed them to talk in normal voices to be heard.

“Hey!” he greeted him happily.

Draco grunted.

“Aren’t you going to join the party? Come on – I’ll find you someone to dance with!”

“I most certainly will not,” Draco answered with a sniff. “I am not going to dance with someone I don’t know; at a party like this, they’re bound to be a mudblood or something. Besides, the girl you were dancing with is the only pretty one in the room.”

“She is, isn’t she?” he grinned. “But her friend is really pretty also; I’ll ask her to introduce her to you, alright?”

“Which friend?” Draco asked quickly, as he glanced over to where the blonde girl was standing a few feet away.

“The redhead,” Blaise answered. “Come on; you have to admit that she’s quite good looking.”

Draco looked at her for a moment and then said, “I’ll do nothing of the sort. She’s tolerable, but not nearly pretty enough to tempt me. Why isn’t anyone else dancing with her? I certainly won’t dance with the unwanted leftovers. And anyways,” he added with a sneer. “Isn’t she a Weasley?”

Blaise rolled his eyes and opened his mouth to scold Draco but Draco cut him off before he had a chance.

“You’re wasting your time trying to convince me; I’m not going to budge. In fact, I think I’m going to leave now.”

Blaise glared at him for a moment, and then sighed with a shrug. “Suit yourself, mate. Your loss.”

“Yeah right,” Draco snorted.

Ginny watched Luna dancing with Blaise with narrowed eyes. He seemed like a nice guy, and he was definitely hot, but she wasn’t sure if she trusted him. Luna seemed happy though, and Ginny wasn’t about to ruin her friend’s happiness, so when Luna made her way over to Ginny after the song ended, Ginny fixed a smile on her face.

“So,” she said. “How’d it go?”

Luna smiled happily, but before she had a chance to reply, they heard Blaise’s voice a few feet away from them.

“Hey!” his voice was a bit muffled by the noise in the room but there was a calmer song on now so they could make out what he was saying.

“Aren’t you going to join the party? Come on – I’ll find you someone to dance with!” He was talking to Draco.

Luna smiled. “Isn’t he nice?” she asked Ginny in a low voice.

Ginny shrugged but didn’t answer, waiting to hear Draco’s reply.

“I most certainly will not,” Draco answered. “I am not going to dance with someone I don’t know; at a party like this, they’re bound to be a mudblood or something. Besides, the girl you were dancing with is the only pretty one in the room.”

Luna flushed. Ginny gritted her teeth at the mudblood comment.

“She is, isn’t she?” Blaise answered in a cheerful voice, and Luna turned even more red, though it was hard to tell in the pink lighting. “But her friend is really pretty also,” he continued. “I’ll ask her to introduce her to you, alright?”

Suddenly self conscious, Ginny stared off across the room, pretending that she couldn’t hear a word.

“Which friend?” Draco asked.

“The redhead,” Blaise replied. “Come on; you have to admit that she’s quite good looking.”

“That’s the last thing he’ll ever do,” Ginny thought to herself.

“I’ll do nothing of the sort,” she heard Draco say. “She’s tolerable, but not nearly pretty enough to tempt me. Why isn’t anyone else dancing with her? I certainly won’t dance with the unwanted leftovers. And anyways, isn’t she a Weasley?”

Ginny had heard enough. Her face was burning, not as much with embarrassment as with anger.

“I’m going to get a drink,” she said quickly, before Luna had a chance to say anything. “I might leave afterwards – if you don’t see me, it’s because I’ve gone, so don’t wait for me.” And she marched away from a worried looking Luna.

“What a jerk!” she raged to herself as she reached the refreshment table and took a glass of punch. “Once a Slytherin, always a Slytherin. He may have been declared innocent, but he is still an absolutely revolting creature! I wouldn’t dance with him if he were the last wizard in the world!”

She finished her glass of punch quickly and took another. By the time she was finished with that one, she was feeling very dizzy. She looked around for Lavender to thank her for the party but, not seeing her, she stumbled over to the fireplace and threw some floo powder in. She didn’t feel like splinching tonight and she had no doubt that she would in her semi-drunk, completely-enraged state. She stepped into the fireplace and flooed back to her own flat.

A few more lines were Austen-inspired in this chapter. Can you spot them?

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