Ava smiled at the size difference as Keller walked her out into the crowd. She actually wasn’t the shortest person at Hogwarts, but standing next to Keller she definitely felt like it. ”I don’t have any paper, but I can make a verbal contract. I, Ava Collins, take on full responsibility of any bodily harm that shall come to my person whilst dancing with the Hogwarts Giant, a.k.a Keller Murphy.” She laughed at herself and turned to place one hand on Keller’s forearm—she couldn’t quite reach his shoulder—to begin their dance. “Satisfied?”
Hearing Ava’s verbal contract made Keller release a genuine laugh for the first time that night - spending time with Ava never failed to make him remember what it was like to be around family, especially when she was almost as short as his ten year old sister. “I’m holding you to those words,” he said, still holding onto her hand while he placed the other around her back, before staring to lead them in a dance that matched the pace of the others around them. “Just think — this might be the last time we get to do this,” he said, frowning. “Once I graduate, I probably won’t see you until you graduate-…” It made Keller hold her hand a little tighter as they swayed around the room slowly. “That’s two years-… a lot can happen in two years-…”
Hmmm… well I mean you are like a giant so maybe…. [Ava smiles laughs]. I’d love to dance with you, even with the risk of injury. Though I am fairly sure you won’t step on me. I have enough dance experience that I won’t get squished.
"Alright, I’ll take your word for it," Keller says with a smile and loosening the collar of his shirt with a finger. "Though maybe you should sign a contract before we get started just in case," he adds, laughing before offering his hand to Ava and waiting for her much smaller one to take it before leading them out into the crowd where people were already dancing slowly around in circles.
I’m actually fairly decent at dancing a waltz if anyone would like to dance. Just don’t tell my mother that those dancing lessons actually paid off.
I-… well, uhm-… yeah? I mean-… if you want to dance with me and want to take that risk-… I can’t promise that one or both of us won’t come out of this without injury, so-… accept at your own peril, Ava.
Keller only owned one suit: a black thing that had belonged to his grandfather, tailored by magic over the years to accommodate Keller’s growth spurts. It was the same suit he wore to every occasion - whether it was Nolan’s memorial or the last ball that Hogwarts hosted. Sighing as he pulled it on, he decided to change it up a little for tonight since it was a special occasion - using his wand, he transfigured the hue of the suit to a navy colour, then changed the skinny black tie he always wore into a neat blue bowtie, pulling it on over his head and glancing in the mirror. It wasn’t perfect, and anyone who truly took note of what he wore would know that it was the same suit, but it was the best he could do. Besides, he wasn’t sure he was concerned about Lowell’s opinion of him — better to present himself as weak than to be seen as an active threat against the new Minister.
Lee pursed his lips. “Yeah, I know that staying as informed as we’d like isn’t exactly possible right now. I just meant that we need to stay as informed as we possibly can.” He looked back at Keller and nodded. “I agree. Tensions have been tense lately, but I think working together will show to everyone that we all have the same goals.”
“Tensions have been tense," repeated Keller, laughing slightly despite the somber mood that had settled. "Well spoken, Lee. Well spoken indeed." Keller frowned again, thinking about how exactly they could all work together to get to a place where they would be ready to defend themselves — or defend their school. "Well we need a plan. We could start with the prefects like we did with the vampire information, and then work out? Prefects are a great way to mobilise people - natural leaders, and usually more ideas too," he said, shrugging, leaving room for Lee to add to or criticise the idea as he saw fit.
It was impossible to prevent or hid the flinch at the mention of another explosion rocking the castle. The wounds were still so fresh even after months of recovery and new scars to cover the old. The only thing that stopped her from plunging into the past was Keller standing in front of her with his hand extended towards her, the only sign that Fiona needed to close the physical gap between them. Linking their hands together, Fiona returned his small smile, but her eyes strayed towards the burning parchment and the words that were quickly consumed by the fire. It did not matter that the ink was gone as the name was permanently etched in her mind. Lowell. The once omniscient presence was now leading the wizarding world and Fiona had trouble believing Keller when he said they could find a way to carry this new burden. “But-…but how much do we actually know about him? How do we know that our experience can go up against his experience…his-…his forces? He terrifies me and-…and it also terrifies me that so many people don’t know how scared they should be. And they might not know until it’s too late…” Fiona unconsciously tightened her grip on Keller’s hand and shifted closer to him, wanting to believe that they were strong enough now to take on a man that seemed all powerful and fearing that they would never stand a chance.
The feeling of Fiona’s hand finding its way into his own made Keller smile at the familiarity: her small fingers held within his longer ones, and he gave her hand a squeeze. Though Fiona’s arguments were solid and logical - something that made Keller extremely proud - he couldn’t help but go with his gut instinct instead. “We don’t know anything about him,” he admitted, eyes staring at the flames licking the paper. “Only really what’s been in the Prophet, and that’s information anyone could get. As for his forces-… I don’t think we could even measure up to that either — what are a bunch of teenagers with wands against the full force of the Ministry at his disposal?” Keller realised that his words weren’t exactly positive or encouraging, and he squeezed Fiona’s hand again. “But,” he added, “if you think about it, people have taken on much bigger foes. Look at Harry Potter and Voldemort — not that Lowell is the next Dark Lord, but teenagers took him down, so why not us?” He glanced sideways to look at her properly. “If Lowell is the bad guy, then I know we won’t be alone. The aurors here are on our side — they don’t want him in either, nor do the professors. And if they don’t have any experience, then I’m a billywig floating in the breeze,” he said, a smile playing at his lips as he tried to lighten the mood.
Owen was rather out of touch with wizarding politics - he didn’t know much about muggle ones either, but what he did know was that the Ministry was slowly becoming a place of lies and secrets, and as Keller pointed out, that could only damage them in the end. “Talking about him in fear?” Owen repeated, eyebrows raised, feeling something drop in his stomach. “So he’s kind of more like a dictator than the leader of a democratic society…” There were shivers on Owen’s skin that even the flame from the newspaper burning couldn’t abate, “What are we going to do?” he asked quietly, looking to Keller worriedly. “Not only do we now have a Minister whose potentially a really bad man, but werewolves and vampires around the school… it feels hopeless,” he concluded.
Talking openly with Owen was a new experience for Keller, but surprisingly pleasant - he enjoyed being able to speak his mind and not hold back anymore, something that he hadn’t been able to do since the start of the year — or perhaps ever. “A dictator in the making,” Keller amended in a quiet voice. Owen’s despair and plea for help made Keller frown; it wasn’t like Owen to become dejected so easily, and he worried that things were truly getting to a point of no return in the wizarding world if people couldn’t see a way out. “To be honest, I don’t know,” Keller said, staring at the slow burning pages of the Prophet. “There’s no point trying to find out more information on Lowell — he’s in the most prominent position, so there’s that. We can really only try and defend ourselves and prepare for the worst,” he said, shrugging, looking down at his wand. “Make plans in case something happens, like the school is attacked that kind of thing.”