Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Cage and Key

a Growl and a Woman

by faromir 0 reviews

chapt 8

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: G - Genres: Drama,Romance - Characters: Harry,Hermione,Ron - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2015-05-11 - 5100 words

Disclaimer: The Harry Potter Universe and all the characters belong to J.K. Rowling.
After their potion lessons they moved downstairs to the common room to sit at the fire, lounging in their chairs, only a few other Slytherins with them spread throughout the room. She herself was reading the Daily Prophet that had lain on a nearby table idly going through the pages and reading some articles. Tracey had the Witch Weekly, making the puzzles and quizzes on the back.
"Any interesting news?" Tracey asked, not looking up from her page.
"The usual; a few people are missing again and the ministry is spewing propaganda about how great everything is going." She answered, grabbing a random sweet from her bag and putting it into her mouth.
"Same old then." Tracey replied passively, seeing that nothing else could be said and that it was no joking material.
They continued to sit in a comfortable silence for a while, until multiple footsteps were heard through the otherwise silent common room, Malfoy came down from the stairs, without his cronies and crossed the common room in a straight line, without a word to anyone, nor the usual flaunting of his superior attitude.
He didn't seem to be in need of any worshipping as he kept quiet, his face had a look of deep thought, he probably didn't even see any of them, away in his own world.
Malfoy always took the time to bother other people, wanting them to know that he was 'running' the house. He had made a fair amount of connections this way throughout the years, connections that now seemed to either dwindle or continue in secret. She wasn't sure.
He had also bothered her multiple times in the past. She had mostly played along those times, so did Tracey, otherwise they would be hearing it for hours from him, talking nonsense about his glorious family line.
She had chosen the same as her parents; avoided giving clear statements and opinions about important subjects, it kept them within sight but inside the shadows. Tracey was in the same boat as her, rather pushed inside it as she was a Half-blood, being considered less important because of it.
Daphne didn't concern herself with Malfoy, and luckily he also didn't give her too much attention. He had Parkinson whenever he wanted some female company she thought; glad that she had a sweet in her mouth to prevent the vile taste from coming up.
They had been quick to notice his sudden change of behavior after starting their year, Malfoy had yet to show them his usual antics: giving his speech to the new first years, ridiculing Gryffindors with his gang, preach about the Dark Lord and moan about everything Potter did.
Not showing any of his usual boasting and blabbering self was strange. Surely Malfoy would have made a big deal out of their partnership with the Gryffindors, being paired with Neville Longbottom himself. Who was another target of his pestering should have made him go on for days, protesting and speaking shame of the whole ordeal, rallying the house to work against the Gryffindors as much as possible.
She had expected that she herself especially would have been in his spotlight; being Pure-Blood and from one of the Ancient Houses. Working with Potter in a friendly partnership should have been complete blasphemy to him.
But none of that happened, he had yet to say a word about it, he didn't even seem to look up at them during their lessons.
"Malfoy has changed a lot these days hasn't he." Tracey said with no particular sympathy after Malfoy had left the room, having been thinking along the same lines as her.
Tracey was right in more ways than one: his hair looked less slick, the normally absurd amount of time invested in it had lessened, making it look more natural; which actually looked strange on him. His eyes had slight bags underneath them, as if he was getting sleep shortage.
It reminded her a bit of Potter: his hair that didn't receive much effort and eyes that looked a bit tired. Giving signs of slight exhaustion, but he often shook it off when she tried to have a closer look at him and his behavior.
"He's been keeping a lot to himself, overly so. Even his cronies don't surrounds him at all times anymore." Tracey continued.
"It's sudden, yes." Daphne simply said.
"What do you reckon to be the cause?" Tracey asked, wondering.
"I don't know and don't care, I'm not interested in any business Malfoy deals with." Daphne said, simply glad that he wasn't bothering her or anyone else near her. "Maybe he finally grew a pair and started doing things on his own." Daphne answered bluntly after Tracey's silence.
"Nobody seems to have a clue as to where he does and what he does you know. He never returns on time either, seems to be gone the entire evening." Tracey pressed after her response.
"Ok, ok. I know it's suspicious Tracey.." Daphne said, exasperated.
"Malfoy must be plotting world domination.." Tracey concluded in a serious voice. Making Daphne reconsider the point of discussing these kind of matters with her. Tracey could be so stubborn when convinced of something.
"Don't think so, Malfoy is pretty useless without his father, he's probably just swallowing sadness." Daphne said as she took another candy.
"He's been away every evening since sixth year started Daphne, something's fishy." Tracey said, turning serious again.
"Maybe so but come on, what could he possibly do? We are in one of the most heavily guarded and enchanted places in the world." Daphne questioned, not really believing Malfoy to be a serious threat.
"I dunno..stuff." Tracey lamely answered, unable to think of anything. "But he is acting more slimy than Salazar's snake, and that says something!"
"Right." Daphne finished. Not wanting to indulge any further on Malfoy's business. Knowing that she had won this battle but not the war.
Their conversation went silent after this, Daphne was nearing the end of her paper and Tracey was currently rummaging in her bag before pulling a familiar book out of it.
"Here, I'm giving it back, I don't have the patience, nor the talent for learning it." Tracey said sourly as she held out the medium sized book to Daphne.
"Told you so." Said Daphne as she took the book from her hand.
"Well I can't say that I gave it my all, it was mostly out of curiosity." Tracey said, defending herself.
"Like I said before you began; Occlumency isn't something you learn for fun or out of interest, it's a necessity and solution." Daphne reasoned with her.
"Yeah I know, I know. Just wanted to try it anyway. Thought it would be pretty cool." Tracey said.
"Yes, I saw your enthusiasm droop after a few headaches." Daphne said, grinning knowingly.
"Please Don't remind me Daphne.." She moaned.
Daphne smiled a bit, Tracey always had these rushes of suddenly wanting to try something out, It didn't matter what it was, it just needed to catch her interest. Occlumency had always been on Tracey's to do list when she heard about it from Daphne.
She had lend Tracey the book when she came over during the summer, the book wasn't overly rare, and she herself knew the contents by now, however Occlumency and Legilimency were difficult branches of magic to learn, often asking for dedication and aptitude to learn either of them, not to mention a mentor to stimulate and guide said progress.
Her family line began learning the arts in their early rise, many generations ago, being a great help in their times of war. Passing it on from generation to generation with books and tutoring, becoming more of a family thing and tradition later on. It had been the main reason why her father had taught her.
She herself had more success in Legilimency with the help of her father, allowing her to practice on his barriers. Occlumency however was not her forte, she had tried but hadn't managed to build strong defenses, but maybe she needed to put more effort into it. The headaches simply weren't much to look forward to every lesson, she had dropped it after finding little reason to forge her shields into iron gates.
Legilimency was her talent, it also didn't give any prolonged headaches. That helped.
"Come on, let's go to the library. Get some information written down before it closes. We have essays to finish." Daphne said, standing up from her chair, already wanting to sink back in it.
"Uuuhh…yeah I guess you're right, we still have that extra long one for DADA waiting for us. Let me get my parchment and quill. " Tracey said, slowly rising from her chair.
"I have enough with me, we can go right away. Good thing I'm always prepared right?" Daphne said, grinning a bit, making sure that Tracey had no means of dragging things out, as she always did with these kind of tasks. They moved to the stairs, out of the common room and dungeons, Tracey reluctantly following her.
They traveled up the staircase out of the Slytherin Dungeon, through the Dungeon Corridor. Daphne walking with Tracey trudging alongside her. The long and gloomy corridor soon passing them along with the Potions Classroom.
Continuing upwards they soon came upon the more normal parts of the castle, leaving the chilly atmosphere of the Dungeons behind them. She wasn't particularly fond of it, she preferred something warmer looking instead of the bland and boney decorated Slytherin properties.
They had soon left most of the stairway work behind them now, this was another downside of being in the dungeons; you always traveled upwards.
They finished the last staircase of sizeable length, glad that only a few small ones remained now, Tracey already seemed to cheer up from having the end of their journey in sight.
"Say Daphne, I suddenly got a good one during our walk." Tracey said from her right, her face eager to tell it.
"No Tracey, just don't." Daphne said, trying to save Tracey's humor from becoming any worse.
"What do you call an owl with a deep voice?" Tracey asked, grinning as they turned into another hallway.
"Potter." She said recognizing him and forgetting Tracey's 'joke'.
"A growl! Although I must say that you were pretty close." Tracey said, as she held her hand to her chin in thought.
"No, look over there you dimwit!" She hissed, pushing Tracey and herself close to the wall, their bodies mostly obscured by an old closet that was likely to be moved downstairs.
At the intersection ahead of them stood Potter, Granger and Weasley. This was nothing strange and normally she wouldn't have done this but they were talking animatedly to each other; mainly Granger and Potter, in some kind of disagreement. Weasley seemed to be the peacekeeper between them this time around, holding his hands up and looking between them, mainly trying to get Granger to drop her case, as he offered words between their discussion.
"It's the trio, so what? You completely ruined my joke Daphne!" Tracey hissed back. Her failed joke being the most important to her.
"Shut up Tracey, it was ruined from the start." Daphne cut in.
"Please remind me: why are we hiding again, Daphne?" Tracey grumbled.
Daphne merely gestured at her, indicating that she needed to be silent.
"Come…Harry…enough training.." A feminine voice said, the long hallway allowing echoing words to reach them. She listened attentively to the few words that reached them, her mind working to make sense out of it as she watched their body language and expressions change throughout every syllable.
Granger was holding a parchment; likely an essay, faintly gesturing to it and nudging her head towards the hall that lead to the library, her look turning a bit somber as he answered.
"Sorry…habit…I'll catch up…important…" A voice she recognized as Potter echoed to them, giving Granger a small smile, while looking apologetic. The distortion of the hollow echo making their voices sound different.
"Don't worry…next time…together…Hermione.." Weasley echoed, lightly pushing Granger towards the direction she had been indicating to before. Before giving Potter a lingering glance himself, giving him another chance to concede.
But potter didn't. Keeping the same look on his face as they left. Letting it slide from his features when they were gone from his line of sight; a more serious expression replacing it before he turned on his heel and walked away in the opposite direction, whisking out of sight as he rounded the corner.
"…You eavesdropped again Daphne." Accused Tracey after the trio had split up and left.
"We couldn't follow their conversation, therefore we only observed them, Tracey." Daphne shot back, referring to them both.
"I call it stalking." Tracey blandly filled in.
"Let's go." Daphne simply said, having decided on what to do, pointedly ignoring her comment and coming out from behind the closet and began to head towards the intersection the trio stood moments before, her next course of action clear.
Tracey, however suddenly grabbed her wrist, halting her march. "Look, Malfoy!" She exclaimed, making Daphne turn her head, just in time to see Malfoy disappear into a staircase in the opposite direction of the intersection where she was heading.
"Seriously now!? What are the fucking chances?." Daphne cursed in frustration. Why had both of them have to show up at the same time!
Tracey looked at her with a look of burning curiosity, her pigheadedness showing itself again as she wanted to know what Malfoy was doing. Proving to her that Daphne had indeed; merely won the battle but not the war. Tracey was sure of her case and wanted to have proof.
It was an expression she likely wore herself but for a completely different person. A person who had gone in the opposite direction.
"It doesn't matter Tracey, Malfoy isn't doing anything major!"
"Neither is Potter!" Tracey counted quickly.
Precious seconds went by as they silently tried to convince each other to follow their own point of interest, before they each decided on a conclusion as time was ticking.
"You follow Malfoy, and I'll go for Potter-"
"-You go for Potter and I'll tail Malfoy!"
They spoke at the same time, their words mingling into something incomprehensible. The message was clear to them anyway as each took off in opposite directions, smiling a bit at their moment and not wasting a moment longer.
Daphne continued her way in a hurried pace, turning left where she had seen Potter disappear into, finding stairs that led to the next floor. She grumbled a bit; more stairs to climb, great.
She exited the stairs, coming out into the middle of a hallway and was met with the first choice for the evening, left or right.
She stopped for a moment; she had to think carefully now, each direction would lead her into a completely different part of the castle, taking the wrong one at the start would surely make her lose him completely.
Daphne racked her brain to remember the layout of the castle…right would mainly lead to back to the library again, left would bring her into a largely unused part of the castle, full with storage rooms and abandoned classrooms.
Potter had likely gone left, he hadn't come with Granger and Weasley to the direction of the library in the first place, but then again; maybe they hadn't been heading to the library in the first place and she had just understood it as such, and had he taken the right route for something else entirely.
To the left were the unused classrooms and storage rooms, they were either empty or filled with junk. Potter was likely in one of those classrooms; practicing magic as her best guess. He had said so himself in their Potions lessons just the day before, speaking only one word about it before striking over it with something else.
But she had noticed and remembered, and now, just moments before; she heard it again through the echoes of the conversation with his friends, giving her more confidence in her assumption as to why he would be in one of these classrooms.
But she wanted to see what it was on which he supposedly spend his evening on every day.
She turned left with that thought, looking through the key holes of every classroom she passed. Hoping to find him behind one of them.
She wasn't a stalker, shut up Tracey!
She wondered why; why was Harry Potter practicing spells? If that was what he truly was doing, and doing so a lot; judging by the reaction of his friends, trying to drag him with them.
Daphne hadn't seen him perform much magic but Potter didn't seem to be very bad in any area, being even the best in DADA, if scores were anything to go by from. Was he trying to become better in others then? Transfiguration? Charms? For what purpose?
She thought back to Tracey, feeling a bit uncomfortable with leaving her to chase Malfoy by herself. The ponce couldn't do much, but the thought didn't sit all that well with her. She felt a bit conflicted, on one side she wanted to leave and find Tracey again, but the other side told her she was close on finding something important, urging her on.
Tracey likely felt the same right now, however probably felt more nervous as she and Malfoy weren't on any particularly good terms. Just neutrality, unlike Daphne and Potter, who had a good partnership going.
She was at the end of the hallway, being given another choice in directions, however both decisions led to more classrooms, she could only trust her gut now.
Rows went by like this, she finished them before returning to her starting point, taking another route from there. She could see the outside sky through the windows; it was becoming dark and she would soon have to give up and return to the Dungeons.
She looked through a keyhole, already moving back up to look into the next one before the contents were actually processed by her brain.
She stopped for a moment, realized what she had seen and dived back to the keyhole.
Her eyes hadn't lied! Sure enough there stood Potter. Holding his wand out in front of him, turning and rolling it in his hand before his eyes; clearly inspecting it from what she could tell by looking at his movements, he seemed puzzled for some reason.
He decidedly deemed it unimportant as he pointed his wand at one of the pillars in front of him in the classroom, firing off a cardinal red spell.
She had expected a Reducto or a Diffindo; just something along those lines but immediately knew she was wrong when she saw the red colour, even more so when the entire pillar broke in two from the spell, snapping like a twig. No sound was made but she could feel the ground vibrate a bit when the chunks hit the floor.
She jumped a bit in surprise despite the events being completely silent through a Silencing Charm he had likely cast beforehand.
She leaned closer to the keyhole again, getting more field in her vision, Potter was inspecting his wand again, seemingly surprised himself with the outcome of his spell.
He then repaired the pillar using a Reparo after which he waved his wand again, letting small sounds leave the keyhole she was looking through as he had dispelled his Silencing Charm while beginning to grab his parchments from a nearby table, putting them in his bag.
She realized that Potter was preparing to leave and would soon be coming out of the classroom. She had to get out of here!
She quickly looked from left to right, seeing that either hallway was too long to cross unnoticed in the small of amount of time she had left. She would just have to pick one of the classrooms and hide until he passed her.
She skipped the first door; finding the classroom next to his uncomfortably close, she turned the handle of the next door; it was locked. Quickly moving to the next door she tried again; locked.
Daphne knew that he could be coming out any moment now, seeing her trying to open doors frantically; looking extremely suspicious as she had absolutely no reason to be in this hallway so close to his own. Standing In a part of the castle that was far away from the more busier and accessible routes having no sensible excuse besides 'practice' herself. Which wasn't even logical in the first place as she was a perfectly capable witch, thank you very much!
She tip toed as fast as she silently could to the next handle and felt instant relief when it turned in her hand; it hadn't been locked. She quickly jumped inside and closed it behind her, descending her swing of the door to a minimum at the last centimeters, closing it softly.
Daphne walked back from the door; feeling as though he would be bursting through it any second. She had no idea if Potter had seen or heard her, her palms were a bit sweaty from anxiety as she waited, each second and minute helping to relieve her mind.
She moved back to the door again, opening it slightly and peeking through the slit, finding that the hall was empty and no sounds were made, making her emerge from the classroom and head back to her own common room. Trying to make no sound again as she walked; still feeling the urge to be silent.
Why had she become so nervous anyway? Daphne felt as though she had seen something she shouldn't have; something important and secret. But it had just been Potter: her patient, attentive and polite partner. A guy who frowned at himself; disappointed when he made an error, and smiled slightly whenever he rightfully praised her, his green eyes dancing in amusement.
She realized that she felt a bit guilty by her actions, as if she had wronged him by invading his privacy and reading his dairy. But she didn't linger too long on it, her mind was whirling on the spell he had used.
She vaguely recognized the red spell Potter had used; her father had shown her the same red colour when she was young, explaining her the spell in a serious tone and expression. Daphne pondered as she walked, but quickly grew annoyed when she found herself unable to recall the spell. She knew it had been one of her father's no-nonsense spells, but that was all, it was on the tip of her tongue.
She took a detour, navigating through parts where Tracey had likely walked through after going in Malfoy's direction. However , only empty hallways greeted her; no sign of Tracey, or anyone for that matter, making her wonder how much time had gone by, it was dark outside by now.
Daphne moved to take out her wand, intending to cast the tempus Charm and find out how much time had passed. Yet was halted when a jovial voice spoke out from behind her.
"Daphne! Good girl, what are you doing out here this late?" the voice she recognized to be Slughorn said.
"I was in the library, Professor. Collecting information for essays." She lied as she turned around to face him, couldn't tell him she had been observing Potter for a prolonged amount of time now could she?
"A splendid attitude as expected! But tell me Daphne; where is your friend Tracey? Surely you would do those things together?" Slughorn inquired, noticing the absence of her friend.
"Tracey hates doing homework, she had opted to wait in the common room while I went to write some things down for us to use later." Daphne said, using some truth for explanations.
"Really now, until you were out after curfew by yourself then?" Slughorn seemed to ask her, looking a bit doubtful.
"Yes Professor, I simply forgot how much time had passed, could you let it slide this time?" Daphne lightly pleaded with him.
Slughorn smiled and seemed to comply to her request "Well since I'm in a rather good mood after managing to replace Potter's detention I—"
He suddenly stopped and Daphne thought for a moment that Slughorn knew about what she had actually been doing, but quickly dismissed it; nobody else had been with her in the abandoned hallway.
She watched as his facial expressions shifted from his usual cheerful face to one of sudden realization, to ecstatic before trying to cover it up with a bad impression of what should have been a stern and serious face, reminding her of Tracey's rather bad attempts at trying to remain sober after a joke.
"No, no. absolutely not Daphne, I am a Professor and therefore I should not show any favoritism to any students. Twenty Points reduction and a detention is the standard punishment in this case." He said as his face strained with the effort to remain stern looking.
Daphne fought down the urge to raise her eyebrows higher than the tallest Hogwarts tower as she heard him talk about not showing any favoritism, he would practically put her and Potter on a pedestal if he could. Not to mention that his sudden turnaround and gleeful mood was highly suspicious, especially when he was giving one of his favorite students detention during said mood.
"Yes, just perfect." He said, more to himself than her before continuing. "Report to my office this Saturday At seven for detention. Now come with me Miss Greengrass, I'll escort you to the Dungeons." He said acting as though he had given her a delicious cake.
She mentally groaned and turned to follow his moustache twirling figure. "Yes, Professor."
Their walk was silent as she did her best to remember the spell Potter had used while Slughorn seemed to be lost in his own stride, looking quite pleased with himself.
An idea struck her as she turned to the potions Professor.
"Professor.. a few days ago Tracey and I discussed the allegiance of spell colours to their intention and purpose, green for example often inflicts curses and deteriorating effects, while blue is for defensive spells. Tracey and I however were wondering about the purpose of red coloured spells, could you elaborate sir?" Daphne said, making up a story about their ignorance, trusting Slughorn not too look too deeply into it in his upbeat mood.
"Really? Why you were right about the notion; colours often indicate the type and purpose of the spell, however effects will differentiate even within the same colour, red being a good example here, it mostly contains spells which are focused on the offensive aspect, the difference mostly lies in what way and damage."
Daphne nodded, acting as though it was all new to her before continuing. " What kind of spells could be primary examples Professor?"
Slughorn twirled his moustache once before answering. "The most noticeably examples that are passive in their damage would the Stupefy and Expelliarmus."
"And the Offensive spells? Ones that would be doing more damage?" Daphne asked airily.
"The Cruciatus Curse would be the most recognizable example here, others would be Curses that deal in the breaking and splintering of the opponent's bones, the Bone-Breaking being the most known for it, entering the area of the Dark arts along with its brother and sister variations. " Slughorn told her before launching into a story about some important person he met through someone else's brother, his own explanation making him remember.
Daphne however had stopped listening as soon as he mentioned the Bone-Breaking Curse; that was it! The Curse her father had shown and told her about. The cardinal coloured light that Potter had fired looked the same as she had seen years ago from her father. It hadn't been Crimson from the Expelliarmus nor the pale red from a stunner, their damage wasn't pillar shattering either, far from it.
Potter was practicing the Dark arts, nothing extreme but definitely using a spell from it. Daphne thought back to the beginning of her school year and what she had said to Tracey on the train; how the idea of the Gryffindor Golden Boy doing anything remotely Dark was laughable to her.
She now had to eat her words as she had been proven wrong by Potter himself; unknowingly but proven nonetheless.
Her mind wasn't relieved after her search for answers, Daphne had meant to get a few simple answers but many more had risen in return: why was he practicing them? Was he learning more? Did his friends know? Didn't he know the dangers of practicing them?
They had arrived at the entrance in the meantime, Slughorn reminding her one last time of her detention before walking away, she slugged through the entrance and up the dorms as she noticed Tracey's absence in the common room.
She felt relieved to see Tracey sitting on her own bed, having been waiting for her. The two of them being the only ones in their dorm.
"What took you so long Daphne!?"Tracey yelled in impatience and slight worry.
Daphne walked up to her bed and landed face first on it. Enough adventure for today…
"Things got dragged out a bit, shit happened." She said after she had turned her face out of her soft pillow.
"A bit? I've been waiting for two hours, how determined are you, woman? Did you search the entire castle or something?" Tracey asked incredulously. "I couldn't find again you after losing Malfoy, I was nearly going to get a teacher and look for you." Tracey continued.
"I'm fine, discovered nothing on Malfoy then? As expected of course." Daphne asked from her limp position.
"Only because I lost him between the hallways and stairs…but this isn't the last he'll be seeing of me, or rather the last I'll be seeing from him!" Tracey said determined.
"But what happened Daphne? What took you so long?" Tracey asked, coming back to her original question.
"Oh Slughorn found me afterwards which also dragged things out, got detention with Slughorn Saturday..he seemed oddly pleased with it though." Daphne said.
She pushed herself up into a sitting position across from Tracey, energy returning to her as she thought about everything she had seen. "But more importantly; listen up Tracey, you'll never guess what I saw.."
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