Despite a bit of a rough night for poor Harry and having woken to comfort him several times when the nightmares took him, Hermione was awake early the following morning. She lay facing her husband, watching his gentle features and listening to his peaceful breathing as he slept. The clock ticked on and breakfast time drew nearer. Hermione could hardly bear the thought of waking Harry and seeing his face taut with angst once more.
A crest in the blankets caught Hermione’s attention out of the corner of her eye, and a sudden naughty idea came over her. She’d never tried it before, though Harry had pleased her more than once in such a manner. Hermione thought that it was perhaps long past time to reciprocate, and surely Harry’s morning would be off to a good start.
Hermione gulped nervously as she continued to consider her plan. Then, before she could change her mind, she burrowed under the covers head first.
Harry and Hermione were both yawning when they met Dora in the corridor on the way to breakfast. Dora was slightly puzzled, as the Potters seemed in much better spirits than she thought they might be if they’d been woken by Harry’s nightmares.
“Er... Did you two get enough sleep?” asked Dora sympathetically.
When Hermione turned slightly pink and Harry glanced away, Dora did her best to hide a little smirk, guessing that Hermione had thought of creative ways to comfort Harry.
At breakfast, Harry and Hermione ignored the letters which arrived by owl post. Many of the letters which had been arriving since the Witch Weekly article had been rather rude and nasty. Though quite a number of young women and even a few young men had sent exceedingly friendly letters along with very racy pictures of themselves - many of them nudes - which had made the Potters both blush furiously.
Still yawning, Hermione tried coffee for the first time in her life when Harry introduced her to it. Her face crinkled in disgust, not noticing when Seamus fished some of the unopened envelopes from across the table.
“Urgh... that’s revolting Harry. How do people drink this?” she asked.
“It’s an acquired taste... usually acquired due to necessity like now, when tea just isn’t strong enough to do the job,” Harry replied with a grin. “I had to make Uncle Vernon’s coffee every morning - he usually took it black. And yeah, it’s horrible like that.”
“You need sugar and cream, Hermione.” Harry added several heaping spoonfuls of sugar and a lot of cream. Hermione took another sip
“Oh, that’s much better... Thanks Harry.”
“Yeah, with enough sugar and cream, it’s alright. It’s a bit like chocolate in that way... cocoa is horrid until you add the sugar and milk.”
Hermione looked surprised. “Really? I didn’t know. I love chocolate. But I try not to eat too much because, you know... dentist parents!”
“You love MILK chocolate,” insisted Harry. “Have you ever tried a proper dark chocolate?”
Hermione shook her head.
“It’s very bitter without the milk...” he added.
Hermione’s ears pricked attentively; Lavender, Parvati and Neville also listened in while Harry told them about baking with cocoa and how to make it taste nice as they finished breakfast. Harry had never really talked much about cooking for the Dursleys before, and Hermione began to understand why Harry was so good at potions when people just left him alone. Ron and Seamus both looked across the table at Harry with great interest to hear him talk about making food.
“Yeah, I used to help Aunt Petunia make breakfast and dinner every day,” Harry told Ron when he asked. “I actually didn’t mind helping with that - it was better than washing Uncle Vernon’s car or washing his underwear and doing all their cleaning...”
It was pleasant being friendly with Ron again, and Care of Magical Creatures had been much better now that Draco Malfoy and Crabbe and Goyle were no longer taking it. Hagrid introduced the class to some fluffy black creatures with spade-like feet and long snouts which looked a bit like anteaters to Harry.
“Righ’ then,” said Hagrid, “These’re Nifflers - clever little creatures and jolly useful little treasure detectors they are. Yeh find ‘em down mines mostly. An’ watch out fer yer valuables - they like sparkly stuff...”
Sure enough, Pansy Parkinson gave a little shriek as one leapt and tried to gnaw her bracelet off her wrist. But she calmed down when she realised that it was more cuddly than dangerous. Ron’s interest was piqued when Hagrid went on.
“Anyway, I’ve buried a load o’ Leprechaun Gold an’ there’s a prize for the one whose niffler digs up the most coins. Don’ bother keepin’ the gold though, it’ll disappear after a bit...”
Ron ended up with an enormous bar of chocolate when his Niffler dug up the most gold coins. He was a bit disappointed that it was only Leprechaun Gold, but he happily shared his chocolate with Seamus and offered some to whoever else wanted a bit. Ron seemed relieved when Hermione gratefully ate a piece of the chocolate, as if her acceptance was the seal of approval for a somewhat repaired friendship with Harry.
Harry nearly spat his piece of chocolate out laughing when he spotted Seamus gawking at one of the steamy photos that had obviously come in one of the envelopes he’d nicked at breakfast. Ron peered over Seamus’s shoulder, his eyes boggling at the picture of the naked girl.
“Blimey - she’s a real looker, that one is,” Ron muttered.
“Ye got that right mate,” Seamus agreed.
Neville glanced at the photo quickly, then turned beet red and looked away. Hermione rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t help smirking a bit at Ron’s gormless expression. Seamus hurriedly shoved the picture back in his robes when Hagrid wandered over.
“What yeh got there Seamus?” asked Hagrid curiously
“Er... nuthin’...” Seamus mumbled, turning scarlet.
“It’s just a silly picture which came in the post,” said Hermione quickly to save Seamus from trouble. “At least it’s better than the horrible letters some people have been sending me and Harry since that stupid article Rita Skeeter wrote about our supposed ‘harem’ for Witch Weekly.”
“Aaah! Righ’...” said Hagrid sympathetically, “got some of ‘em letters meself after she wrote that one abou’ me an’ Lupin... Load a ruddy nutters. Yeh oughter just chuck the lot in the fire...”
“Well, we’re just ignoring them now,” Harry said with a grin.
“What I can’t work out is how that disgusting woman keeps getting onto the grounds to do interviews,” Hermione fumed. “She can’t be apparating into Hogwarts, and everyone’s being checked for polyjuice potion at the moment.”
“Maybe she’s a metamorphmagus,” suggested Ron. Hermione raised her eyebrows in surprise at his sensible idea. Harry turned a bit pink.
“They’re really rare though,” said Neville, “rarer than animagi.”
“Hmmm... animagus,” Hermione muttered, frowning pensively. “I wonder...”
“Well, we can think about it a bit more while we’re exercising Hermione...” Harry rubbed his forehead, looking slightly agitated. “We haven’t done any calisthenics for a couple of days, and I could use a run right now - especially as it’s nice outside again...”
Draco Malfoy seemed lost in his own little world, brooding as he strolled through the grounds with several of his friends. His father had seemed agitated for the last day or so, and had told him to keep a close eye on Crabbe and Goyle, and to report if they said anything odd. But his father hadn’t told him why yet, and Draco hated it when his father wouldn’t let him in on all the details of his plans straight away. The voice of one of Draco’s friends cut through his rumination.
“I overheard a Hufflepuff close to Diggory saying that Potter fought off a sea-serpent,” said Theodore Nott with a slight hint of awe in his voice. “D’you think that’s true Draco?”
“How the hell should I know, Theo?” snapped Draco, wishing that everyone would just shut up about bloody Potter and the Triwizard Tournament.
Even half of Slytherin seemed obsessed with Potter - especially many of the girls. Draco was beginning to wish that he and Pansy and Millicent hadn’t done that stupid interview with Rita Skeeter.
“I just thought... Your father - being friends with the Minister...” Nott trailed off nervously, seeing the look on Draco’s face.
It had been nearly a week since the Second Task, and Draco Malfoy still couldn’t get over the fact that Potter had survived yet again. Though Draco wasn’t privy to the details, he knew that his father and the Minister had planned something a bit extra for Potter alone to ensure his demise, but somehow Potter kept getting lucky. There was no other explanation.
Draco kicked a rock and sent it skittering as he tried to mollify himself with the knowledge that his own practice with the Unforgivables was coming along nicely. If Potter managed to make it through this tournament alive despite all, Draco would simply have to get him and the Mudblood alone somehow and settle things once and for all himself.
“Oi, Draco... over there!” hissed Nott, “Look who it is.”
Draco’s eyes narrowed when he spied Greengrass sitting alone on the steps near the boathouse, a ball of fury burning in his gut. She had made him look bad in front of Potter and that French bitch.
It stung even more as he recalled how Daphne had turned down his generous offer to take her to the Yule Ball, saying that it would upset Pansy. But Draco was no longer so interested in Pansy, with that pug nose of hers; now that he was older, he knew he deserved a Pureblood as good-looking as himself. Draco had then tried to ask the French slag to the Ball, but she’d blown him off with a look that suggested she thought him lower than a sea-slug.
Glancing around the grounds, Draco assured himself that there were no witnesses this time - other than his henchmen, Crabbe and Goyle, and his friend Theo, who was always game for anything. People almost never came down to the boathouse during the week. It was time to teach Greengrass a lesson.
Wormtail was beside himself, giddy with glee, drunk on his newfound empowerment. For the first time in his life he felt truly respected. He could have gone anywhere after vanishing into the night when he’d escaped Snivellus’s greasy clutches, forged a new life for himself in another country if he’d wanted to.
But Wormtail was more certain than ever that his decision to seek out the Dark Lord and restore him to full strength was the best one he’d made since turning against his so-called friends and that old coot Dumbledore thirteen years ago.
The Professors at Hogwarts, especially McGonagall, had always made him feel inadequate. Just because Wormtail valued fun more than he valued homework didn’t mean that he was inept. He had always managed to pull out Acceptables and a few Exceeds Expectations at the last minute. It hadn’t been Wormtail’s fault that schoolwork was boring.
Padfoot had never really appreciated him; he was always mocking Wormtail’s hero worship of Prongs and treating him as an inferior. Wormtail had always suspected that Padfoot only tolerated him because he was James’s friend.
And Prongs, though he had always seemed happy to have Wormtail’s admiration, Wormtail wanted more than James's appreciation. He wanted what James had.
James had always seemed to be able to afford to buy the nicest things and the best snacks from the food trolley on the Hogwarts Express. Everything Wormtail owned was rubbish and all he had were mouldy homemade sandwiches; his parents could barely afford his schoolbooks and his wand.
And James was everything that Wormtail wanted to be. James had been famous for his natural abilities as a Quidditch Player, and he’d always been top of every class without seeming to even break a sweat. And James always got the girls - except for Lily Evans who thought James was an arrogant bullying prat for hexing that greasy swotter, Snivellus Snape, the one who always had his head buried in a book about potions or dark arts. Of course Evans was never around to see what Snape and his mates got up to. If she had only known.
Prongs and Padfoot had been notorious pranksters, beloved by all. Even the Professors had seemed to smile indulgently at those two while doling out the detentions; meanwhile shaking their heads sadly at Wormtail, as if he would amount to nothing.
Then somehow, in sixth year, Prongs had settled down and swallowed his pride. He was “turning over a new leaf.” Those had been Potter’s own words when he had angrily dressed Sirius down for his nearly deadly “pranking” of Snivellus Snape, and Lily Evans had overheard the shouting match between James and Sirius.
Wormtail flushed jealously again as he remembered how the girl he had always daydreamed of the most while wanking had quickly fallen for James after realising that James had grown up finally, saving Lily's once best friend from certain death.
Sirius had eventually calmed down after his fight with James, agreeing that he had stepped over a line which should never have been crossed. He had apologised profusely to James, and then also apologised even more abjectly to Snivellus. Sirius too, “turned over a new leaf” that year, and he had even apologised to Wormtail.
But things had never been quite the same between any of them after that. Despite James’s claims of friendship and loyalty, Wormtail knew that James had sensed Wormtail’s desires for Lily and kept him at arm’s length after she had become his girlfriend, and later his wife. And Sirius and Remus had grown much closer to each other, though they were careful not to advertise their affections for one another and Sirius had continued to date girls on occasion.
Wormtail was the odd one out.
After Hogwarts, the Marauders had joined the battle against the Dark Lord’s reign of terror. But Wormtail had always known it was a futile endeavour. The Dark Lord was Superior in every conceivable way. Not even Dumbledore could stop him.
Nearly from the beginning, Wormtail had come to understand that he was on the wrong side. Under the Dark Lord’s rule, Wormtail would no longer have to put up with being the useless, pathetic sidekick. He could have all the gold and women he wanted - even Lily as the spoils of war if he so chose. Lily had been nothing... a Mudblood. She would beg to be one of Wormtail’s whores after James was dead, he had thought at the time; she was clearly long shot of Snivellus.
Wormtail had hoped, but he hadn’t been able to believe his luck when Padfoot had bought his offer to be Secret Keeper. Sirius had foolishly insisted to James that Peter should be the Potters’ Secret Keeper, and James had naively accepted. The Dark Lord had rewarded Wormtail handsomely for his services and made him a Death Eater when Wormtail had presented him with the opportunity to capture or kill the Potters.
That had been Wormtail’s chance to finally get the Glory, Women, and Gold that he so richly deserved. And if Lily were foolish enough to stand in the Dark Lord's way, what did it matter! There would be plenty of other mudblood slags who would beg to have Wormtail if they wanted access to wands under the Dark Lord’s Rule - and Wormtail could take any muggle girl he wanted at any time without fear of retribution from the Law.
Then everything had gone to hell when the Potter Brat had apparently killed the Dark Lord in some sort of outburst of Accidental Magic. Terrified that he would be caught at the scene, Wormtail had fled with his Master’s wand and hidden it before framing Padfoot as the Potters' betrayer.
Wormtail had then sought out a suitable home in which he could hide undiscovered as a Rat, and had come to find much food and solace in the House of Molly, as the pet of one of her many sons, Percy Weasley. For many years Wormtail grew fat, and reveled in his access to the comforts of Hogwarts, right under the unwitting nose of the Cat Mistress of Gryffindor - Minerva McGonagall. The irony was not lost on Wormtail. Ineptitude indeed; Wormtail had shown her the true meaning of the word.
But it was only when Wormtail had returned to Hogwarts as Ronald Bilius Weasley’s pet, that Wormtail had come to learn that the Dark Lord still lived on after a fashion.
It didn’t surprise Wormtail that the Potter Brat had chosen a Brainy Mudblood as his father had. She had many of Lily’s qualities, including an innocent, natural beauty - though she looked nothing like Lily. Wormtail had felt the stirrings of jealousy once again as he watched the Potter boy’s relationship with the girl unfold.
When the Potter scion and his own mudblood whore had helped Padfoot, Moony, and Snivellus uncover his true identity, Wormtail had decided to take it as a sign that the time was ripe to find his Master and return him to Power.
And now, it was all paying off. Wormtail grinned at himself in the mirror as he adjusted his robes. Tonight, with MacNair and Avery as his bodyguards, Wormtail would offer the Werewolf what he had wanted the last time around, a chance to be a Death Eater. And when Fenrir Greyback accepted, Wormtail, as the Dark Lord’s Second, would have a Lycan Pack at his disposal.
Daphne looked up, startled to see Draco Malfoy and his goon-squad approaching. She cursed inwardly and shivered, wondering why Draco and his father couldn’t let well enough alone.
“Go away Draco!” she snapped with as much courage as she could muster. “I want to be by myself, and I told you to stay away from me.”
“What’s the matter Daphne?” sneered Malfoy as he drew uncomfortably close, “Is that any way to treat your future husband?”
“Stop it! Don’t touch me or I’ll scream...”
“Now, now!” said Draco unctuously, “You wouldn’t want Theo to hex you, would you?”
Daphne shivered again and gulped, seeing that Nott already had his wand out. “You... you wouldn’t dare...” she muttered nervously, her own hand twitching towards her wand.
“Just try it,” hissed Draco, stepping even closer and grabbing her wrist, “and I’ll make sure you’ll regret it. Don’t you see how nice I’m being? I just thought we should get to know each other a bit more... intimately before we get married...”
Tears rolled down Daphne’s cheeks when Draco’s other hand snaked around her waist and drew her right up against him. Crabbe and Goyle chortled as Nott leered at her.
“I... I’m n...never marrying you - you c...creep,” she whimpered through chattering teeth. “M...my dad said he t...turned down your father’s offer flat...”
“Don’t be like that Daphne! We could be so good together!” Draco whispered, pressing his lips against Daphne’s and slipping his hand under her skirt. “But if not, you can just have a bit of fun with the lot of us right now... and then I’ll leave you alone for good...”
Daphne sobbed and tried to pull away as Draco's hand slid further up her inner thigh.
“GET OFF HER MALFOY!”
Draco spun around with Daphne still tightly in his clutches, his pallid features hardening. Nott, Crabbe and Goyle whirled around to see who had caught them all out.
“Potter!” spat Draco, whipping out his wand. “You and your Mudblood Bitch should keep your noses out of what doesn’t concern you.”
Hermione trembled with rage, waiting for Malfoy to make the first move, her wand aiming right between his eyes. But Harry was livid. He was done playing games with Malfoy. Without a word or a second thought, a red bolt of magic flew from Harry’s wand and struck Malfoy in the chest.
Draco collapsed to the ground, out like a light. Nott, Crabbe, and Goyle turned around and ran for it, as fast their feet could carry them, terrified that they might be next. Daphne stood stock still, as frozen as a statue for a moment, before it sank in what had just occurred.
The Potters were both stunned when Daphne suddenly flung herself on Hermione, sobbing. Hermione held the weeping blonde girl, gently rubbing her back.
“It’s alright Daphne!” she murmured, “It's alright now!”
Dora finally reached the Potters, out of breath. She had been jogging at a distance behind them, keeping an eye peeled.
“I saw everything!” she gasped. “You lot alright?”
“Yeah!” growled Harry, “But I think Malfoy will have a bit of a headache when he wakes up...”
Dumbledore had no twinkles or sparkles in his eyes; just bags under them from worry and lack of sleep. The Order meeting last night had run late, and he couldn’t have slept even if he’d tried. He looked up when Professor Snape thundered into the Headmaster’s office in a swirl of robes.
Snape stumbled and nearly fell when he slipped on the sherbert-lemons strewn all over the floor. He caught himself and noticed in surprise that the chalice which usually held them lay shattered on the rug near the Headmaster’s desk.
“My apologies Severus. Please watch your step.”
Dumbledore waved his wand. The sherbert-lemons and broken crystal vanished. He motioned to the armchair in front of his desk.
“Please, be seated Severus. Now, perhaps you can tell me what has brought you here in such a state.”
Snape’s jaw clenched, and a vein his temple throbbed.
“Headmaster, one of my students... Daphne Greengrass has requested to be... resorted. She no longer wishes to remain in Slytherin House. And speaking quite frankly... I cannot blame her.”
“Are you willing to grant her request Severus?”
“I am. Though I fear she will be in danger no matter which House she ends up in. I know how... lasting House prejudices can be.” Snape flushed guiltily and Dumbledore peered sadly at him.
“Indeed!” the headmaster sighed. “Why don’t you tell me what brought this on!”
Professor Snape swallowed. The circumstances were well outside his zone of comfort for open discussion.
“Miss Greengrass - she was reluctant to speak of it. But from my own... gleaning, I have determined that she was the victim of an assault by Draco Malfoy - an assault with... sexual overtones. He was accompanied by several other Slytherin students in his year. Nymphadora Tonks also reported the incident to me, but unfortunately she was not close enough to the scene to provide any details beyond harassment.”
Snape raised his eyebrows as he continued. “Potter... he put an end to it, apparently with a rather strong Stunning Spell. Pomfrey told me that Draco showed up with a headache, asking for a pain potion.”
“I see!” Dumbledore’s forehead wrinkled and he sighed again, counting his fortunes; despite having eliminated another horcrux and gaining an unexpected ally within the last forty eight hours, the balance appeared to be weighing in the negative. “Am I to take it then, Severus, that Miss Greengrass’s absence from my office means that she is unwilling to press charges?”
“Yes!” The vein throbbed painfully again in Snape’s forehead. “I have reason to believe that she is too afraid to, given the current... political climate.”
The Headmaster sighed once more, his eyes catching the letter which he had received that morning on his desk. Dumbledore understood the political climate all too well, as he had just been given notice that he had been relieved of his position as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. The new Minister was fast gaining allies, and the damage done by Skeeter’s articles had finally taken its toll. Dumbledore had hoped to contain the fallout at Hogwarts. But it appeared that things were escalating rapidly.
“Very well! Without any official charges I am forced to leave things in your hands Severus. I would hope that you can see fit to dole out appropriate punishments. Sexual Assault cannot stand at Hogwarts. Detentions and loss of House Points are hardly effective measures fitting to such crimes. If it were up to me, the culprits would be expelled immediately and placed in the custody of the DMLE.”
Professor Snape nodded curtly as Dumbledore continued.
“You may inform Miss Greengrass that she has my permission to leave Slytherin. Unfortunately, once the Sorting Hat has made a decision, it cannot be undone. The magic which gives it life will not permit it. Miss Greengrass will be unaffiliated. Therefore I have no choice but to give her private lodgings next door to the Potters. Do you believe that this will be acceptable to Miss Greengrass?”
“Yes,” said Snape, nodding. “But I believe that she is too afraid to go back to Slytherin for her things. She is currently in my office awaiting my return.”
“Some house-elves will be dispatched to retrieve her belongings, and I shall send Minerva to direct Miss Greengrass to her new quarters. If you would please bear with me a moment Severus...” Dumbledore turned to Fawkes and nodded.
The scarlet and gold phoenix appeared to understand, and vanished in a brilliant flare of light. Then the headmaster returned his attention to Snape.
“Now, regarding my earlier comments about appropriate punishment. No doubt the culprits belong in Azkaban, and I am sure that Filch would be delighted to offer you his services, but please try to remember that this is an institute of education, not a Penal Colony. Until such time as I have the authority to remove these students. You will have to find some suitable measures of discipline beyond points loss and detention.”
Snape groaned inwardly as he departed the Headmaster’s office. If it were up to him, Filch would be a Very Happy Squib right now. He met Professor McGonagall coming up the spiral staircase when he was halfway down and he paused.
“Severus?” she began questioningly.
Snape peered inscrutably at McGonagall.
“The headmaster will explain...” he said, then continued on his way.
Snape stared coldly at the four students sitting in front of his desk. They had all been sitting there in silence under his stony gaze boring into their souls for half an hour. Professor Snape felt physically ill at what he saw inside them.
Finally, in an icy, even tone, Snape spoke.
“Draco, Nott, Crabbe, Goyle: your wands are hereby confiscated...”
“But sir...” Draco gasped in shock; it had been bad enough for his wand usage to be restricted, but this was beyond the pale. The others just looked confounded.
“SILENCE!” Snape bellowed. “You will keep your mouths shut until I have finished. The headmaster has long put up with the schoolyard taunts and the occasional playground scuffle, but sexual assault is not tolerated at Hogwarts...”
“What?... I never...” Draco tried again, stunned at the unfair accusation.
“QUIET!” Snape shouted again. “Don’t bother lying to me Draco. I know the truth, and I know that each and every one of you were directly involved.”
“If Daphne Greengrass had openly come forward to press charges, you would no doubt be looking at a lengthy sentence in the Junior Wing of Azkaban. Consider yourselves... fortunate. Also, you are quite lucky that the Headmaster is not given to corporal punishment, or you would find yourselves in Mr Filch’s hands. And believe me, Filch’s ideas of punishment are very... Slytherin.”
Something wasn’t adding up to Draco. If Daphne hadn’t said anything, then how could Snape have enough proof of anything to punish them - and Draco had barely even touched Greengrass. How anyone could possibly construe that as sexual assault was ridiculous. Potter! It had to be! Potter had been spreading filthy lies! Draco just knew it!
Draco glared at Snape as the Potions Master continued his tirade.
“As I was saying before Draco so rudely interrupted, in lieu of the punishments you so richly deserve, your wands are hereby confiscated until the end of term. You will all be confined to Slytherin House for the duration of term - except for between classes - this means at mealtimes too... And when I say ‘end of term,’ I mean the end of the school-year. This also means that you are banned from all Hogsmeade visits.”
“Draco... you are permanently suspended from the Quidditch team. As long as I am Head of House, you will never again play for Slytherin. And if the rest of you have any ideas about joining the Quidditch team, you can just put aside that little fantasy. As for your brooms, they will all be confiscated until term ends as well.”
At this, Draco couldn’t help himself.
“But SIR, that’s not fair...” he uttered in dismay before his tongue locked up and he began gurgling incomprehensibly.
“To continue.... if I hear that you are harassing any of the other girls in Slytherin House, or any other female students between classes for that matter, I will do my utmost to convince the headmaster to hand you over to Filch. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?” Snape concluded with a roar, banging his hand loudly on his desk for emphasis.
The four Slytherins all glowered murderously at Snape, but one by one, they cast their eyes down and muttered, “Yes sir.”
She had been surprised but relieved that the headmaster had agreed so easily. She had understood why she couldn’t actually be resorted, and she was frankly glad that she wouldn’t have to endure the scorn that she would have likely received in any of the other Houses.
As Daphne began unloading her trunk into her new wardrobe and dresser in her new quarters, she hoped her sister Astoria would eventually understand why she couldn’t stay in Slytherin. But at least her sister was safe. It was clear to Daphne that despite her reticence to speak openly, that Professor Snape had more than an inkling of what had happened. He had promised Daphne that he would keep an eagle eye on Astoria.
Tears trickled down her cheeks as she put her little photo of Astoria on the bedside table next to her alarm clock. Daphne wished again that she was strong enough to openly accuse Draco - but she was terrified of Lucius Malfoy. She had heard the rumours that he was a Death Eater, and she knew that he was close to the Minister.
As far as Daphne knew, if she said anything, Mr Malfoy could murder her entire family and get away with it. She hadn’t even been able to bring herself to tell Astoria what Draco had threatened to do to Daphne along with his friends. Though Daphne wasn’t entirely certain why - it’s not like her sister would have gone around blabbing - the idea of talking about it just seemed too humiliating.
Daphne wished for the umpteenth time that Astoria had joined her, but her younger sister had balked at leaving her friends in Slytherin behind without a good explanation. Feeling miserable, and alone, Daphne flung herself on her new bed.
Just as the throes of misery began to set in, a knock on the heavy oak door of her chambers startled Daphne. Puzzled, she clambered off the bed and wiped her tears away on the sleeve of her robes. She slowly opened the door and gasped when she saw who was visiting.
Hermione Potter glanced at Daphne, giving her a nervous smile as Harry fidgeted beside her, also doing his best to smile warmly.
“Er... we thought you might be feeling lonely,” said Hermione. “Perhaps... erm... would you like to join us for dinner?”
Sign up to rate and review this story