The weeks slowly started to pass and life at Hogwarts returned to normal for most of the student body. The names Leshia Malfoy and Professor Malfoy no longer rang from every corner of the castle and most people soon forgot about the plight of the young girl and her father. It was only during Defence Against the Dark Arts, which was being covered by a placid woman sent by the ministry of magic, that many remembered their missing teacher and his turbulent daughter. The student body had divided themselves into three ranks, those who staunchly stuck by the Malfoys’ protestations of innocence (namely Gryffindor and most of the third, fourth and fifth years of the school), those who aggressively believed the Malfoys were guilty and should be hanged (namely the snake house) and those who either didn’t know what to believe or didn’t care.
Katie and Rachel had become shells of their former selves and ambled about the castle in a permanently sombre state. Laughter no longer rang out from their corner of the common room and everyone who saw the cousins could see they were grieving painfully for their missing companion. Neither had seen nor heard from their ringleader since this sorry business began. They had not yet been called as witnesses during the trial, which, if the newspapers were to be believed, was raging ahead spuriously and unpredictably. At first they had waited in the antechamber, fighting to catch a glimpse of their friend when the door opened leading into courtroom every time one of their fellow witnesses was called. After several days of missed schoolwork Professor McGonagall insisted they be allowed to return to school, to be sent for should they be needed to take to the stand.
So now the girls waited on tenterhooks, looking up every time someone opened the door to the room that held them. Both had long ago abandoned what their teachers told them and for the most part their teachers sympathised and allowed the pair to daydream into a happier past. Life was slowly ticking along to the march of time, though no joy was to be had from it.
Three weeks to the day since Leshia’s capture and Katie and Rachel filed into the Great Hall to take their place along Gryffindor table for breakfast. There was a peculiar atmosphere about the place. The members of the Lion’s house seemed subdued as they stared out at the curious happiness in their peers’ faces. Every now and then an awkward silence would break across the hall as too many people had been caught staring. The uniformed members of the champion Gryffindor quidditch side were casting about such furious glares at anyone caught staring, they were able to silence the whole hall with but a few choice glowers. Yes, it had come to the last game of the season and with it the new quidditch champions would be decided. Gryffindor were trailing behind Slytherin by a mere point, though they had a game in hand. Should they win then they would reclaim their title, should they lose and they would have to hand over the trophy that had stood proudly in Gryffindor tower for the past four years.
Mila Ivanovitch looked up from her toast to glance at the seeker who had been drafted in to replace Leshia. Wendy Bones was a good flyer and one of Mila’s closest friends. She had faith her friend could catch the snitch in good order, but the veteran Gryffindor player also knew the young woman was no match for the prodigy that was Alecia Malfoy. It just felt wrong, Mila thought with a sigh, to step onto the pitch in the absence of the young player who had thrown more into the team than even Mila herself. Leshia’s dedication to quidditch went beyond that of the others. She was sorely missed by her broken team, by none more so than Owen Gabriel.
Owen sat now, his blank eyes staring ahead at his plate. His once ever-present cheeky smile had become such a rarity now that there were those amongst his closest friends that felt they ought to have photographed it when they had the chance. The boy was a shadow of his former self and spent a lot of his time sat in silence with Katie and Rachel in the window box, their listless faces a portrait of heartbreak. Owen knew it was wrong to go out onto that pitch without their seeker at their side. He hadn’t wanted to do it, but had been cajoled into doing so by a suddenly determined Katie and Rachel. The pair had told him that Leshia would be spitting furious if he threw away their chance at glory. He had nearly believed them, but they all knew the score: Gryffindor would play, no matter the cost.
The tall fifth year watched as the rest of the team clambered to their feet, their faces grim and set in resolute expressions. With a sigh Owen joined them, his eyes seeking out the upturned faces of Katie and Leshia, who were watching him sadly. A nod of acknowledgement passed between them before Owen turned his broad shoulders on the girls and walked away with the eyes of the school following in his wake. Before too long the hall was emptying leaving Katie, Rachel, Parys and Rodeo behind staring at one another quietly.
“What do we do?” Parys finally broke the silence. “I mean, do we go…or not?”
Rodeo looked from his best friend to the faces of the girls to gauge their expressions. He dearly wanted to see the game, to know Gryffindor’s fate first hand, but he didn’t want to abandon the girls to their misery alone. The morning had been particularly difficult for them.
“I’m not going,” Rachel finally spoke softly, her eyes meeting Parys’ concerned gaze.
“Well then I’m not going either,” the boy insisted loyally, bringing a whisper of a smile to Rachel’s pretty face.
“You should go if you want to,” she countered. “And you do want to, both of you, don’t you?”
The boys exchanged a sidelong glance that spoke more than a thousand words. Katie now smiled and reached out a hand to push Rodeo’s shoulder away from her side.
“Go you idiots,” she told them fondly. “Let us mope in peace and quiet.”
It took a little while longer for the pair to slink off after the rest of the school, hoping they hadn’t missed the start of the game leaving Rachel and Katie sat in the empty great hall. After the silence started to become oppressive the pair stood up and made their way through to the entrance hall.
“Where shall we go?” Katie asked while they headed for the grand staircase. Rachel shrugged her shoulders.
“Well, everyone’s out there on the pitch, so we’ve got free run of the school I guess.” Katie’s eyes went wide.
“Really? Well then can we go to the library please?” the raven-haired girl asked hopefully. Rachel spun around and stared with a mortified expression at her cousin.
“You’re joking!” she accused, but when she saw the guilty expression on Katie’s face she quickly changed her tack, “Oh no Katie! I am not going to accompany you to the library when we could loaf around on the comfy settees in the common room without being kicked off by the upper years.”
“Fine,” Katie sighed. “You go to the common room and I’ll go to the library by myself. I’ve always wondered what it’s like in there when there’s no one around.”
“But you’re always in there by yourself,” Rachel complained, hiding the hurt that materialised in her face at Katie’s suggestion that they separate. She needed Katie to get her through. “I mean while the rest of the school spends their summers out in the grounds, you do have a habit of swotting up in the library.”
Katie was about to retort when the two girls suddenly became aware of the footsteps following in their wake. After glancing to one another they spun around, catching a tall youth off guard. Julius Black lifted his peculiar eyes onto the girls and then dropped his gaze to the floor once more.
“Where are you going?” Rachel asked him. She didn’t know what to make of the enigma, he had surprised them all that dreadful day Leshia had been taken.
“The library,” the boy responded quietly.
“You mean you’re not out there with the rest of them?” the redhead persisted. Julius Black paused and glanced himself up and down, before he held out his arms at his side.
“So it would seem.”
“Yeah alright,” Rachel grumbled. “What I meant is why?”
“Rachel,” Katie complained. “Sorry Julius, we didn’t mean to bother you.”
With this the taller of the cousin’s dragged her fiery younger companion away from the Slytherin enigma to the staircase that ascended to the Gryffindor common room. Rachel was suppressing a stream of indignity at Katie’s words to Julius Black, but it would seem they would have to wait. There, in the distance, someone was clambering out of the Gryffindor portrait hole, someone who definitely ought not to have been there.
“You!” Rachel bellowed across the corridor, breaking into a run when the sly young man ahead of them darted at the sight of them. Rachel was quick and within moments she had caught up Damian Allseyer. It had helped that he was heavily weighed down by a sack full of things he had slung over his shoulder.
“You thief!” Rachel cried out furiously, snatching the sack from the boy before he could stop her. She peered inside incredulously, her face growing more horrified with every second until finally she looked up, more livid than she had ever felt. Furiously she snatched up her wand and came face to face with the wand of Leshia’s nemesis.
“You’re stealing Leshia’s things!” Rachel accused frantically. “Why? Why would you do that? Isn’t it enough that she’s rotting away in some cell? You filthy disgusting…”
The rest of Rachel’s angry outburst was silenced by the heavy footsteps of a pair of people on the stairs above them. Rachel looked up to see Katie emerge, her wand held into the small of Violet Pazz, Damian Allseyer’s accomplice in his dormitory raid.
“I found this one trying to sneak out as well,” Katie growled angrily, shoving Violet Pazz to stand beside Damian Allseyer.
“Look Katie, they were stealing Leshia’s stuff,” Rachel exclaimed passionately, handing the sack over to her disbelieving cousin. Katie glanced inside the bag, catching sight of a swathe of Leshia’s belongings. The sight of them made tears well in her eyes.
“You lowlife piece of…”
“Oh shut up,” Allseyer complained, waving his wand from one furious cousin’s face to the next. “It’s not like she’ll need those anymore anyway is it? Not where she’s going.”
“Shut up,” Rachel spat, her own wand trembling with the strength she was having to put into staving her tongue from uttering the words of a curse she would no doubt regret. Allseyer looked to the redhead with a snide leer.
“Having trouble adjusting to the truth are you Weasley?” he jeered. “My father’s on the Wizengamot and he’s told me all about your pitiful little friend’s trial. It’ll be over in a few days you know, they’ve already made up their mind.”
“I’m warning you,” Rachel hissed, her pretty face twisting into something quite unrecognisable as the hatred coursed through her. “If you don’t shut up I’m going to…”
Rachel stepped back with wide eyes as Damian Allseyer burst into a cackling laugh. The boy bent double and shook his head.
“You’re too much Weasley. As though I’d be scared of you? Who ever heard of a Weasley who ever actually amounted to anything? You’re pathetic, the lot of you. I bet the worst you could do with that is give me a slight headache. No wonder that blood-traitor friend of yours is headed for the gallows with friends like you…”
“You know you’re right,” Rachel seethed, glancing to her wand resignedly. “I can’t do much with this, but you forgot about this!”
Quite suddenly and without warning Rachel reached out and threw a ferocious fist into Damian Allseyer’s sharp nose. Blood exploded from his face while Violet Pazz screamed shrilly. Katie stared in shock at her cousin, who seemed rather surprised herself.
Hurried footsteps sounded before the billowing cloak of Professor Snape rounded the corner, preceding the man himself. The potions master cast the scene before him a bemused look, his eyes coming to rest on the Gryffindor girls.
“Professor,” Katie quickly garbled. “Damian Allseyer and Violet Pazz robbed our dormitory. Look sir, they were trying to steal her things. He wound Rachel up, he was telling us Leshia’s going to be hanged sir…”
Katie trailed off while a dumfounded Snape took the sack from Katie’s hand and peered in. His ashen face turned to stare incredulously at the bleeding young man.
“Is this true?” the professor asked, his tone steely and cold. Damian Allseyer cowered under the man’s probing gaze. “Get out of my sight!”
Katie and Rachel both fought to hide their smirks as Damian Allseyer skittered away from his enraged head of house. They soon regained their composure though when Snape turned his wild eyes on them. There lay compassion in his face that neither had seen before and for a few moments an awkward silence filled the stairwell.
“I’ve been sent to get you,” Snape finally spoke softly. “It’s time.”
Rachel and Katie reached out for one another’s hands as the tall professor strode from their sides. They didn’t glance to one another as they followed him to the once Malfoy family chambers to the only hearth linked to the floo network in the whole castle. They each uttered their commands as their dropped their floo powder in a state of shock and followed their teacher down to the courtroom without a word.
The antechamber was full of sober faces the children recognised, but before they could speak Katie was led forward by a ministerial official.
“Katherine Potter?” the feeble woman asked while Katie nodded numbly. Katie was led away leaving Rachel staring after her cousin as the girl disappeared through the corridor. Feeling deflated and jittery Rachel forced herself to sit down on a chintzy armchair. Professor Snape sat down nearby and once more the pair met one another’s gaze.
“Damian Allseyer,” Rachel spoke through a dry throat. “Well, he said the trial hasn’t been going well. He said sir…he said they’ve already made up their minds.”
Severus Snape watched the girl, his fingers touching at the tips and rising to meet his chin. He was wondering how much to divulge and Rachel knew as much.
“Please sir, don’t hide the truth from me. I need to know.”
The potions master exhaled steadily before he shook his head.
“He told you the truth,” he finally spoke gravely. “Things are not going well. We are losing the battle against fear.”
Rachel stifled the tears prickling in her eyes and she rubbed furiously at her tingling nose. Snape held her glassy gaze.
“So they’ll be hanged,” the girl managed weakly. “Leshia, they’re going to kill her aren’t they?”
Snape’s expression grew very drawn and the man dropped his gaze finally from the heartbreak in the youngster’s face.
“Eventually? Yes, they will have your friend killed. The minister’s fear has swept through the Wizengamot, he has poisoned them.”
“And Leshia’s going to pay the price? Professor! It’s not right! Can’t we do anything to save her?” Rachel exhaled passionately, sitting forward in the settee, her blue eyes alive with anger. “She’s done nothing wrong!”
People were turning to stare, their expressions tumultuous. Their sentiments all mirrored the girl’s, as did Snape’s, but what could be done had been done. Leshia and Draco’s fates were out of their hands.
“There is nothing else to be done,” the potions master spoke heavily and no more words passed between them. Tears trickled from Rachel’s livid eyes while she waited in the oppressive silence of the antechamber. The minutes ticked on until finally the door to the narrow corridor creaked open and in walked a pale-faced Katie. Her cheeks were tearstained and her expression spoke of the horror that lay within the courtroom. Rachel jumped to her feet and ran to Katie’s side.
“What happened?” Rachel demanded, but all Katie could do was shake her head and reach out to clasp Rachel’s hands.
“Rachel Weasley?” the feeble woman was now calling out, taking hold of Rachel’s shoulders and leading her away from Katie. The flame-haired girl tried to hold on to Katie’s hands, but she was pulled away and into the dim corridor. Up ahead a broad brightly lit space was looming and all of a sudden Rachel had no desire to see it. She tried to turn, but she was cajoled further and further until finally she reached a wooden box row of seats where she sat down under the probing eyes of the Wizengamot. Rachel’s wide eyes searched their cruel faces, until finally her gaze drifted down into the centre of the room.
A gasp escaped Rachel’s mouth and she pulled her hands up to cover her shock. There, chained, broken, starved and destroyed sat her childhood best friend. Leshia was barely recognisable, her usually glorious hair lay dank and unwashed on her shoulders, her dirty clothes draped off her bony form and her deathly pale face had sunken in and pulled tight over her bones. Nothing though could have prepared Rachel for the lifeless expression in Leshia’s face. The girl hadn’t even looked up as Rachel’s name had been announced to the courtroom.
At her side sat the girl’s father. He had fared even worse than his child and had Rachel not known his identity she would never have known it was Draco Malfoy. This skinny bearded man was not even a shadow of his former self. They had been tortured and the sight of it brought raw fury into Rachel’s heart.
“Leshia!” Rachel called out firmly.
“Miss Weasley, you will speak only when addressed by the defence and the prosecution,” a thin powerful woman spoke in a serene voice. Rachel ignored her.
“Leshia look up! Please! It’s me, Rachel!”
Down below the listless eyes of Alecia Malfoy glanced upwards only briefly. For a moment the expression in the prisoner’s face became twisted in a moment of pain before it was gone and the girl looked down to the floor once more.
“What have you done to her you monsters?” Rachel accused angrily. She stepped forward to the edge of the box to meet the faces of the Wizengamot.
“Silence,” a rasping voice rang out from below. The redhead squinted to make out the owner of that horrible tone. She knew the scarred face well and when she finally laid eyes on Silas Tripper, stood barely inches from her position in the witness stand the girl went against her good upbringing and spat viciously in the man’s face.
Uproar filled the chamber while Rachel was lifted away from the edge and towards the corridor once more by ministry officials who appeared as though from nowhere to drag the girl away.
“She’s innocent!” Rachel screamed as she went. “They’re done nothing wrong! Tripper’s a liar! He’s a dangerous monster! He’s always had it in for Leshia! Don’t trust him…”
The rest of Rachel enraged rant was blocked out as the girl was brought kicking and screaming into the antechamber. Within moments the potions master had reached the girl’s side. His terrifying expression he turned on the officials that still held her.
“Let the girl go now,” the terrifying man spoke forcefully. The burly men looked to one another before they nodded and pushed Rachel into the room before turning back into the corridor. The flame-haired youngster wheeled around and pelted the door with fists while at her side Katie ran forward to wrap her arms around her cousin’s shoulders.
“Rachel,” Katie pleaded. “Rachel please, calm down.”
“You saw her,” Rachel exclaimed in anguish, turning on her cousin with desperation in her pretty face. “You saw what they’ve done to her. She couldn’t even look up Katie. She couldn’t even recognise me! They’re destroyed her!”
“Miss Weasley,” Snape spoke quietly and he indicated the girls follow him. He led them out into the corridor beyond and led them a way they hadn’t used on their arrival.
“Where are we going?” Katie asked weakly.
“I am taking you back to the castle,” Snape replied.
“But sir, the castle’s that way,” the raven-haired girl countered. The potions master turned to look at her momentarily, before he turned his gaze back on a door guarded by two aurors. Rachel, who had not been watching the potion master’s wand gasped in surprise when the burly pair fell to the ground.
“Sir!” Katie exclaimed in surprise; she had been watching and had seen what the Potions Master had done. Snape ignored the girl and he reached past the unconscious men to pull open the heavy metal door. The gloomy courtroom loomed beyond a dark corridor.
“Go,” Snape commanded brusquely. “To say goodbye.”
Without needing to be told twice the cousins crept down the corridor, their hearts beating thunderously in their chests. The darkness surrounded them, dampening their hurried footsteps as there, up ahead Leshia’s slumped form neared. The pair broke into a run. Someone sounded the alarm. There was a flurry of activity. Katie was waylaid by a thin man at the end of the corridor, but Rachel broke free. She fell upon Leshia like a wave of emotion, wrapping her arms around the prisoner’s putrid form.
“Rachel,” a small sound escaped from beneath Rachel’s bear hug. The girl pulled back slightly to meet Leshia’s dark sunken eyes. Tears started to form in those grey orbs and for a moment Rachel stifled her sobs. Her poor chained friend was unable to do so. “Rachel!” Leshia sobbed.
“I’ll never let them get away with what they’ve done to you,” Rachel insisted passionately. Several hands had taken hold of her arms and legs and were trying to pull her away, but Rachel clung onto the bony form of her best friends. “I’ll never forget you Leshia! I’ll never forget what they’ve done to you. I swear!”
“Rachel,” Leshia sobbed once more. “Don’t go! Don’t leave me.”
The redhead had now been prized off the small prisoner and the girl’s met one another’s eye. Raw heartbreak screamed in their eyes as Rachel was pulled further and further away.
“Rachel!” Leshia called out once more, but her friend was gone, the lasting memory of her tormented twisted face ingrained on her battered mind.
Hermione stood outside the cell, her puffy eyes staring blindly ahead as the bolts were released. A month had passed and just as her husband and daughter had become mere shells of their former selves, so too had Hermione. She had not been granted access to her incarcerated family members nor had she been allowed to visit their trial. She herself was being suspected of all manner of foul deeds and had up until this point not been trusted to come within a hundred yards of her family members.
That is, until this evening. Everything was different now, all hope was lost and Hermione Granger-Malfoy was being granted this last chance to say goodbye to her firstborn daughter, who was to be charged with high treason, attempted murder, abduction and all manner of evil lesser charges in the morning alongside Hermione’s dear estranged husband.
Clutched to her hip was Evie, who seemed unusually subdued. As though the baby knew the gravity of the situation, she had been quietly whimpering all day. Hermione had barely heeded her, spending her morning in a catatonic state while Ginny and Harry tearfully broke the latest news from the trial.
The door ahead of her fell forward revealing the dark cell that had entombed her oldest child these last four weeks. Hermione stepped inside, her eyes adjusting to the gloom. At first she couldn’t see her little girl. The cell appeared empty. The young woman was about to turn back, when suddenly Evie’s podgy little hand flew across the cell and her face lit up.
“Lih!” the baby cried. In the corner of the room a little lump that Hermione had assumed to be rags unfolded and became the horribly deformed shape of her daughter. Leshia’s face seemed disbelieving, as she looked her mother up and down. Since the day of Dumbledore’s visit no one had stepped over the threshold of the cell. There were many who had tried, but none had been granted access to the girl many feared to be the apprentice of the dark lord.
“Oh Leshia,” Hermione exhaled. Her emotions were threatening to overwhelm her, but the sight of her floundering little girl made Hermione stifle her own private agony to help soothe her child. “Come here.”
Gingerly the little shape in the corner climbed to its feet and started to cross the cell; slowly at first, but within no time the teenager and broken into a run. By the time she reached her mother she nearly bowled the short woman off her feet.
“Mum!” Leshia wailed into her mother’s shoulder. “You came!”
“Of course I came,” Hermione countered passionately. “I’ve been trying to see you since the day they put you in here. Oh my darling, look what they’ve done to you.”
Hermione tried to pry the girl off, but she clung on tighter still.
“I’m so sorry mum,” Leshia exclaimed. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry! I never meant to hurt you. Mum I’m so sorry.”
“Hey!” Hermione stated firmly and she prized Leshia’s weak arms off her shoulders and looked probingly into her daughter’s eyes. “I’m sorry. My poor darling, I’m the one who’s sorry.”
For a moment Leshia’s lower lip trembled, before finally the first giggle in four weeks passed over her lips, before she looked to the curious face of her little sister. The baby was the spitting image of the pictures Leshia had seen of herself at that age.
“I could have got to know you,” Leshia told the baby sadly and she reached out a pale hand to her sister. Evie quickly reached out her own podgy fingers and wrapped them around Leshia’s thumb. Leshia smiled and looked into her mother’s tortured face.
“Tell her about me,” she suddenly pleaded. “When she’s older. Tell her all about me! Won’t you mum? Please? I want her to be proud of me.”
Tears leaked over Hermione’s cheeks, but the mother nodded firmly.
“Every day and every night.”
Hermione dropped her forehead against Leshia’s clammy face and for a moment the sound of their sniffing tears filled the cell. The morbid quiet was broken by a cry in the distance. Leshia and Hermione pulled away from one another and looked with wide eyes to the corridor Hermione had taken.
“What was that?” Leshia gasped. Hermione dragged her elder daughter into the crook of her arm and clutched Evie close with her other.
“I don’t know.”
Screams were drifting down into the dark cells, accompanied by the pounding thuds of explosions. The floor beneath their feet shook. Leshia started trembling, but Hermione held firm and gripped the girl even tighter.
Heavy footsteps filled the corridor outside and without thinking Hermione started edging Leshia away from the door. Out in the corridor a scuffle rang out and muted cries wafted in. Spells lit up the air and quite suddenly as though from nowhere two men came bursting into the cell. Hermione and Leshia screamed while Evie started wailing in shock and panic. Hermione instinctively felt for her wand, but found it gone, confiscated as she entered the detention block of the ministry. The two men rolled on the floor; curses flew around, until finally a green flash of light ended the existence of one of the fighters. Hermione pulled back against the wall, her children clasped to her front while before them the gaunt wasted form of Silas Tripper straightened up. His eyes were deranged.
“You!” Hermione screamed. Quite suddenly the man lifted his wand and Leshia and her mother scattered. There wasn’t something quite right with the despicable man and he wasn’t quick enough to prevent Leshia from taking the fallen man’s wand from his hand.
“Corripio ingressus,” the foul man rasped and within moments Hermione found herself frozen, her terrified baby slipping from her grasp. Before her eyes the mother watched as Tripper turned his wand on her older child. Curses filled the room, lit up by the bright sinister sparks. Leshia was quick, but her rival was a seasoned auror and knew more than the fourth year schoolgirl. Leshia was losing the battle.
Leshia slumped to the ground while Hermione watched from her private cell within her mind. Her soul screamed and wailed while she remained frozen. The white light of the spell Leshia had released at the same time as the killing curse fizzled out leaving the darkness of the cell once more.
The vile beast that was Tripper straightened up from the lifeless form of the girl on the floor and turned on her frozen mother. A sneer filled the ugly man’s face before he hobbled over to the tortured mother. Easily he snatched the squirming crying baby from her arms, before he stooped to lift the motionless body of the girl onto his shoulder. While the tormented woman watched Tripper held his wand to the baby’s throat and uttered a soft incantation under his breath. Evie’s wails fell silent.
“Goodbye mudblood,” the foul man sneered, before he lifted a shimmering cloak from his deep pocket. With difficulty the murderer slung the invisibility cloak about his shoulders and with him went the daughters of Hermione and Draco Malfoy.
Draco sat in the shaft of light, letting the warmth of it dance over his face. He had enjoyed the window many dozen yards above his head over his month’s imprisonment in Azkaban. On some days he had been lucky enough to hear the birdsong as the innocent creatures nested high above his tomb. This stimulus had kept him going in his darkest moments.
No creature or soul had crossed his threshold in the four weeks he had been chained within the cramped dark cell. Draco Malfoy had been isolated within the misery of his broken heart and now the end had come he had no more tears to shed. In the darkness he had cried. He had cried for days and nights. He had cried for everything he had lost and all the pain his life had caused. He had wished he’d never been born.
Hermione. Thoughts of her he had treasured in the deepest recesses of his mind. He didn’t want to tarnish her with this place. He would die believing her to be better off for his passing. He never should have laboured her with his love. He never should have destroyed her life with his incipient evils.
As though he had conjured her Draco Malfoy looked up to the sound of his metal door being torn open and there suddenly his wife stood. Draco’s eyes narrowed at the state of her and at the men bustling in in her wake. What strength he had left dragged Draco to his feet and he faced the wife he hadn’t seen in over a month.
“Draco,” Hermione wailed and she fell on her husband’s bony form. She wept openly into his dank shirt. “Draco! Leshia’s dead Draco! He killed her! Leshia’s dead!”
The life went out of the tall death-eater and for a moment Draco stumbled backwards. Hermione rushed to help him stand once more and met her husband’s dark soulless eyes.
“What?” the man mumbled.
“Tripper,” Hermione wept. “Tripper killed Leshia Draco and he’s taken Evie! He’s a traitor!”
Behind Hermione a frightened looking Crayik came into view beside the visibly shaken form of Albus Dumbledore. Draco’s cold eyes drifted from his wife to the face of the minister.
“I don’t believe you,” he finally whispered, his eyes seeking out Hermione’s once more.
“Draco,” the woman groaned. “I know what I saw…”
“Don’t you think I’d know if she were dead?” the man urged desperately, stealing Hermione’s voice from her throat. The despairing mother dropped her head into her hands and she trembled violently.
“Hermione,” Draco uttered quietly. “She’s not dead.”
The wail escaped his wife like a crack of thunder and quite suddenly the woman bolted from the room leaving Draco alone with the Minister of Magic and Albus Dumbledore. Draco’s murderous eyes met those of the man who would see him hanged. Crayik shivered.
“We believe Silas has been acting under the Imperius curse all along,” the minister spoke darkly, dropping his gaze from Draco Malfoy’s furious gaze. “He killed seven aurors before he killed your…” Crayik shuddered at the growl that emanated from deep within the man chained before him. “Before he abducted your daughters. We believe he has been working for Lucius Malfoy and that he has taken them to him now.”
“How Draco? How can I release you? After the trial…”
“Which you now know was a complete lie! Surely you must see now,” Draco shouted. “Surely you must see how he’s poisoned you. Let me find him! Please! I must find him.”
Crayik looked to Albus Dumbledore to see that he stood little chance. Even if he didn’t pardon Draco’s release, it would seem the venerable headmaster would release him of his own accord.
“How do I know you won’t just let him go again?” the minister demanded weakly. Draco’s head fell forward in astonishment.
“I am going to kill him,” the chained man stated with such conviction it made Crayik shudder slightly.
“Will you?” the minister demanded. “You couldn’t the last time. What makes you think you can this time?”
“He has my children!” Draco roared so loudly the feeble man in front of him took several paces back. “My wife is convinced one of them is dead. Do you really think I’d let him walk away?”
Tripper emerged in the dank dilapidated room of the boarded up London townhouse. He threw the cloak from his shoulders and dropped the deadweight on his shoulder onto the ground. The baby in his arms was squirming so wildly he had to clamp her down tightly.
“Stop struggling,” he sneered. “You’re with your old granddad now, there’s nothing to be scared of. You’re rid of that foul mudblood mother of yours for ever.”
The baby did stop struggling, but only to stare with wide eyes across the room at the straggly man sat cross-legged by the fireplace. The man was in a trance and as Tripper turned to look at the emaciated form of Lucius Malfoy his eyes rolled back in his head.
As though a string had been attached to the top of Lucius Malfoy’s head, the thin old man suddenly rose like a puppet while a terrified Silas Tripper skittered away from him. Tripper’s eyes roamed from the baby to the teenager he had dropped to the floor and then back once more to the baby.
“Reddo sonitus,” the frightened man uttered in a quiet voice and quite suddenly Evie found her voice. She looked to the scarred face of her abductor with a wisdom he ought not to have seen in eyes so young. Tripper looked away from the baby sharply, his guilt bringing tears to his eyes.
“Give her to me,” the sharp icy voice of Lucius Malfoy snaked across the room. Quite suddenly he was in front of Tripper, who was helpless but to hand the squirming fussing baby over to her grandfather. Lucius didn’t even cast his slave a second glance as his eyes instead fell on the frightened expression on his granddaughter’s face, leaving Tripper to skitter away into the corner and drop down against the wall, his eyes never leaving the motionless girl on the carpet.
“Cry all you want,” Lucius crowed to the crying baby. “It won’t save you. No one will hear you; especially not dear mummy and daddy. Oh no no no young Evie, you will never see them again.”
Evie wailed loudly while Lucius paced the creaking floorboards to stand over the lifeless form of the baby’s sister.
“Do you see what happens?” he sneered and he reached out a foot to press into the girl’s side. “Do you see what happens to those who stand in my way? Oh no, not you though, you’re too young to be so foolishly loyal to that treacherous son of mine. My mistake was trying to take her when she was too old to turn against him. You on the other hand…yes, you will do nicely.”
As though understanding his every word Evie was wailing so loudly her scream pierced Lucius’ mind and having quite had enough of the baby he turned to deposit her on the armchair before he turned on his slave, who lay slumped against the wall, his wide eyes never leaving the girl on the floor. He must have been mistaken…did he just see her twitch? What had that spell been that she had cast just before his curse collided with it? Had the killing curse truly struck the girl?
“You,” the cold voice of Lucius Malfoy cut through Silas Tripper’s memories like a knife. The snivelling man looked up frightenedly. “What ever do I do with you now? Oh yes, you have served me well, very well in fact, but now, I believe I have no use for you.”
Down on the carpet the seemingly lifeless girl opened her eyes groggily. Tripper’s own eyes went wide and quickly he rose to his feet, hoping to distract Lucius Malfoy’s attention long enough.
‘Long enough for what?’ the man thought wildly, while his mouth started talking, “You think it’s that easy do you?” Tripper cried out loudly, trying to raise his voice loud enough to rouse the girl on the carpet. “You think the ministry are going to let you get away with any of this? They’ll hunt you down and kill you!”
Down on the carpet Alecia Malfoy lifted her head. Her whole body ached from head to toe, but something pressing was fighting for her attention. Her mind wasn’t focusing very well, but very slowly she was becoming aware of her surroundings. The sound of men shouting filled her ears, as did a baby’s cries…no, not just any baby! Leshia knew those wails. Quite suddenly she was aware of the situation and silently Leshia looked up to see her sister placed on an armchair by the door while in the corner of the room her grandfather was pacing towards a man Leshia hated more than any.
For a wild moment Silas Tripper looked to Leshia and caught her eye. His mind screamed at her to take this chance and run and somehow, miraculously, Leshia understood him. The girl readied herself, waiting for the moment to escape. It came quite suddenly as spells filled the room and quite suddenly Leshia was on her feet, grabbing her sister from the armchair and darting out into the boarded corridor beyond. Leshia ran straight for the front door, but found it bolted and locked. From the living room the sounds of the men fighting were rising and without thinking Leshia ran up the stairs clutching Evie to her chest.
Down below the sound of the fighting suddenly stopped and with her heart racing in her chest Leshia froze.
“No!” the wail of her grandfather roared. Quickly Leshia ran into a bedroom near the top of the dilapidated house where she found an old wardrobe. She reached down and dropped Evie into the pile of old curtains lying heaped in the bottom of the old cupboard.
“Please please please,” Leshia pleaded, carefully covering her baby sister in the curtains. Their eyes met. “Don’t make a sound.”
With this Leshia was gone, closing the door in her wake and sprinting out into the landing beyond. The sound of feet storming up the stairs sent a terrified lurch through Leshia’s body and just in time she managed to dart into a door that lay ajar. She needed a wand! How was she expected to fight him unarmed? Tripper! Leshia needed to get to tripper!
“Well well well,” came the sickly voice of her grandfather, who was hovering down the other end of the landing near to where Leshia had hidden her sister. Protective instincts unfamiliar to the teenager coursed through her and she wished more dearly than anything to lure the foul old man away from her innocent sister. “You are full of surprises Alecia. What spell did you cast? Hmm? Whatever it was save your life if it managed to rebound off the killing curse. Don’t worry though, I will find you and your little sister of course.”
Lucius stepped over the threshold into the room that hid Evie and despite her common sense Leshia darted from the room.
“I’d like to see you try!” she cried out tauntingly; anything to get Lucius away from that doorway. Spells filled the air, narrowly missing Leshia’s head as she sprinted down the stairwell and into a small chamber off the second floor landing.
“You’re only delaying the inevitable Alecia,” Lucius’ voice carried through the rickety house. Leshia tried her very hardest to ignore him while she searched the room for what she knew ought to be there if the design of this house was anything like the townhouse she called home. “Why fight me? Your life is over. They will sentence you to the gallows the moment you show your face. You and that dear murdering son of mine. Yes, yes, you will both get what’s coming to you.”
Leshia fought her pride and instead focused on a tall panel that was prying away from the wall. The girl frowned deeply and ran over to the wood, which she ripped from the wall in a quick movement. Beyond it lay a dark gaping hole with a rope dangling down the middle of the dark shaft.
Leshia cringed at the musty cobwebbed passage, but one thought of her defenceless younger sister and the girl threw herself into the darkness, using the rope to descend into the black unknown. After several moments her feet reached a rubbish strewn floor. Not wishing to find out what those crunching noises were under her feet Leshia reached out in the dark finding stone walls on three of the walls encasing her in the dark. The fourth wall however, was not made of stone. Leshia exhaled heavily before she started pushing at the rotting wood that had been used to seal off the dumb waiter shaft. For several minutes the thing didn’t budge, before finally it creaked away from the rotten wall. Leshia scrambled free out into the room beyond before she stealthily and silently made her way into the lounge where she found an immobilised bleeding Tripper barely conscious.
For a few minutes Leshia stood over the despicable man. Her hatred for him was so overpowering that for a moment she was unable to think of little else. Their eyes met and even though Leshia couldn’t understand what had happened, she felt a well of mercy move deep within her heart. Where she had wanted to stamp on the vile man’s face moment’s before, quote suddenly she found herself moving his broken body ever so slightly so that he might feel more comfortable. Her slender fingers found his blood soaked wand, which she pocketed instantly.
“Don’t be a fool girl,” the man hissed painfully. Leshia met his gaze coldly and rolled her eyes.
“Oh bugger off,” she grumbled. “I’m taking you with us.”
Uneasily, as the man was very tall and girl very small, Leshia helped Silas Tripper uneasily to his feet before she left him propped up against a settee while she ran out to find her sister once more.
“There you are!” a shrill voice sounded and without thinking Leshia dived to the floor, narrowly missing a curse that flew through the air. “And now, you are finished. Never again will you stand in the way of Lucius Malfoy.”
Leshia lifted her defiant face to meet her grandfather’s eyes.
“The great Lucius Malfoy?” the girl countered snidely. “You just don’t get it do you? You’re just this dried up crusty old man that no one cares about, that no one fears. Last year they made a bigger deal out of a spectre than they did out of you. You’re a nobody and you will always be a nobody. You think by stealing my little sister you’ll turn her against my parents? Well that will never happen! Because we have something you don’t know, we have something you’re mighty Voldemort never came close to. We have love! Evie will never betray them and neither will I!”
The image of little Evie hiding up above filled Leshia’s mind’s eye. She thought of the happiness the baby had given her mother. She thought of her mother and how it had felt to have her come home to them. She thought of the days she had been the apple of her father’s eye. Images and sounds of her cherished memories came flooding back inflating the teenager lying on the dusty ground. Slowly the girl rose, facing her grandfather’s perplexed gaze with fearlessness. She felt good.
“Expecto patronum,” the girl cried out, releasing from her wand a sparkling white mist that formed into a large nimble monkey. Fiercely the creature cast enough confusion in the hall to allow Leshia to escape. The girl ran up the stairs two at a time until finally she came across her sister.
Evie gargled slightly at the sight of Leshia, though obediently stayed silent while down below Lucius struggled to escape the pandemonium the bright patronus had caused down below. Leshia dropped down against the wall and thought quickly. How on earth could she get out of this situation alive?
“Ow,” the teenager suddenly complained and she released her sister’s hand from the choker around her neck. “Wait! That’s it!”
Quite suddenly Leshia grabbed the speech stealer and held it up against her mouth. She spoke quietly into it before she wrapped it around her sister’s neck. Down below the stairs were deathly silent. Leshia took no chances and took the rope in the dumb waiter shaft once more, emerging in the lounge with Evie clamped tightly to her chest. Once more spells filled the room sending Leshia diving for cover behind an overturned settee with Evie clasped tightly to her chest.
“Hide behind your sister would you?” Lucius sneered cruelly. “You’re as much of a coward as your father.”
“Shut up about my father!” Leshia cried out in a sob. “He’s dead! Can’t you just leave him alone!”
The girl’s tears filled the room while Lucius looked with a frown to Silas Tripper, who lay upon the settee in agony. Neither man had heard this news and they turned in unison once more to direction of the crying girl. Leshia seemed suddenly overcome by emotion and with a deep frown Lucius Malfoy approached the location of his granddaughters.
“Good riddance,” Lucius Malfoy uttered darkly when he finally reached the end of the overturned settee, his wand drawn. “What…”
Quite suddenly the old man fell under the weight of the bookcase Leshia had brought down on him. Lucius’ surprise at finding baby Evie crying where he had only heard her sister had served as enough of a distraction for Leshia to launch her attack on the despicable man.
“Come on!” Leshia cried out and after scooping Evie up the girl ran to Tripper’s side. The bookcase was shuddering as Lucius fought to escape it. Tripper raised his arm to the girl as she reached his side. He met the eyes of Lucius Malfoy as the foul old man raised his wand towards them, as curse shimmering in the air between them mid-flight, before quite suddenly the scene faded from view to be replaced by the dark façade of the Leaky Cauldron. Silas Tripper had apparated them to safety.
The fresh air felt like magic on his face, but as Tripper looked down to the girl he had saved he found her face had gone blue. Her hands were clasped around her sealed throat. While people spilled out of the busy pub to find out what the noise was about Silas Tripper laid Leshia down on the pavement, retaking his wand from her hands. She turned desperate eyes on the man as he pointed his wand to her neck.
His silent magic performed Leshia suddenly inhaled deeply, while she sat up, her arms protectively wrapping around her sister who still wore the speech stealer. Leshia prized the choker off the baby while she met Tripper’s eyes.
“Thank you,” she managed stiltedly while all around them people gasped and pointed. Cries went up into the street and within moments several people apparated to their sides. One of these people was the person Leshia had been most anxious to see.
“Mum!” the girl cried out and she jumped to her feet, carrying Evie with her to their shocked mother. Hermione’s hands were clasped over her mouth as she stared at the daughter she had thought she had lost.
“Leshia,” the woman uttered tremulously, before she broke down into wail-like laughter. “You’re alive! You’re alive!”
The pair embraced, little Evie trapped between them. They all cried.
Leshia lay in the bed in St Mungos staring at the ceiling with a heavy mind. Thoughts whirred around her head. It had been several hours since her escape from Lucius and though Minister Crayik had assured her personally that the case against her had been dropped at Tripper’s testament that he had, while under the sway of the Imperius curse, been forced to frame both Leshia and Draco Malfoy. Lucius Malfoy’s revelations had been a lie in which to have both Draco and Leshia killed so that he might more easily abduct the youngest Malfoy child. Just what Lucius wanted the girl for Tripper couldn’t say, but he was very vehement that all charges be dropped.
Crayik had not known what to make of it, but he assured the girl she was free once more, as was her father. Leshia had refused to be taken to hospital until she saw her father was alive and well, but Draco was unreachable. So the girl had conceded, so now she lay, bandaged, rejuvenated and revitalised in the comfortable bed with her little sister tucked into the crook of her arm sleeping soundly and her mother dozing lightly in the bed beside her.
Heavy footsteps sounded down the corridor. Leshia’s eyes darted to the door and she smiled broadly when she saw who it was. Her smile was mirrored in her father’s face and after staring at the wonderful scene before him Draco walked into the room and sat down beside his daughters. He glanced from Evie to Leshia with a ridiculously happy expression on his gaunt face.
“How did this happen?” he enquired softly. Leshia smiled and shook her head.
“Well, she’s a Malfoy isn’t she?” the girl replied with a shrug. “He was trying to take her dad and it just made me feel so…angry! I mean, family’s family right?”
Draco chuckled heartily and he leaned down to rest his head next to Leshia’s on the pillow. They both stared at the ceiling.
“Where were you?” the teenager at his side asked softly. Draco closed his eyes for a moment before he turned his head to look at his wife. She was watching him with tears in her eyes. For a moment Draco felt his heart flutter, before finally Hermione’s broad smile reached her beautiful eyes. “Dad?” Leshia pushed and she manoeuvred herself onto her elbow to see her father’s face. The man was smiling now, his gaze on his wife. Their hands reached out to one another and clasped together.
“Yuck,” Leshia complained and she dropped back down into her soft pillows. Evie stirred with a grumble. “Damn right Evie, it’s disgusting isn’t it. Grown adults acting like teenagers indeed. They’ll be snogging next, just you wait.”
“Oy,” Draco complained and he reached out with his other hand to give his daughter a firm poke in the ribs. “Don’t you go teaching that one any of your cheek, do you hear me?” Leshia giggled and nodded, privately imagining herself doing just the opposite. She could have quite a little protégé on her hands.
“Did you find him?” Hermione now spoke, her voice serene and calm. Leshia turned her head slightly to look at the back of her father’s head. She couldn’t see the shame in his face.
“I was too late,” Draco replied gravely. “He was gone by the time I got there.”
Hermione sighed, but she nodded bravely. Gingerly, the young woman climbed from her bed and crawled onto the bed that held the rest of her family. The hospital cot groaned under the weight of the entire Malfoy family, but soon they were all aboard. Draco wrapped his arms around his wife, kissing her face lovingly while at their side Leshia pretended to make gagging noises.
And so they stayed until dawn broke with a hail of news headlines gripping the nation. Possibly the most repeated went along the lines of: Vindicated: Draco and Alecia Malfoy innocent and framed!
As the wizarding world mobilised themselves to deal with this surprising turn of events Draco had to leave his recovering family at the summons of the minister of magic. Everyone stared at the thin man as he made his way through the ministry. None hindered his passage. None offered to apologise for the public shaming he had received at the hands of the nation, but all felt a share of the guilt.
Minister Crayik seemed a frail thing as he sat behind his large desk in his bright office. Draco met the grizzly man’s eyes with cool determination, before he took the seat opposite Crayik at the table.
“Thank you for coming Draco,” Crayik spoke coldly. The tall death-eater nodded solemnly. “I have asked you to come before me so I can officially announce the charges against you have been dropped. You are a free man once more Malfoy.”
Draco nodded and leaned his chin on his hand, his probing eyes never leaving those of the minister.
“I will never be able to trust you again Draco,” the frail Minister of Magic announced darkly. “Not after everything that’s happened, after everything you hid from me, but I was wrong to…”
“To try and have my daughter and I hanged?” Draco cut in sharply. Crayik shifted uncomfortably in his seat, but he nodded.
“Yes, that was indeed very wrong.”
A silence ensued that suggested this was all the Minister wanted to say. Draco sighed heavily, wondering why it had been necessary to pry him away from his happy daily reunion to hear this message alone.
“You are to return to your post at Hogwarts immediately,” Crayik told the tall man before him while Draco stood to his feet. “And your daughter as well, she is to return to school. Dumbledore has assured me he has briefed the student body with only the very vaguest of details of this whole sorry series of events, which no doubt means they already know more than most members of this department certainly.”
“Albus believes in honesty sir,” Draco stated simply. “He trusts the children with the truth.”
Draco walked towards the door, his steps suddenly feeling light and playful. He was a free man!
“Might I just ask sir,” the blond man asked when he reached the door and looked back to find Crayik on his feet. “What is to become of Tripper?”
“He is to remain at the school. He will return to duty in September.”
“You’re serious?” Draco’s cool voice cut through the room. Crayik nodded soberly. “Why?”
“Because you and that girl, who escaped a dark wizard for the third time virtually unscathed, are too powerful to be left unchecked Malfoy. I spoke of my mistrust in you, believe me when I say I trust your daughter much less so.”
Leshia and Draco stood behind the door to the Great Hall listening to the happy voices within. There was a renewed vigour about the castle as news of Leshia and Draco’s return swept through the student body. The pair had been mended as best they could, but both still bore the brunt of their ordeal in their gaunt faces and skinny bodies. Leshia was hopping up and down anxiously, waiting for their cue to walk in. They had arrived a few hours ago, but had been quite busy settling Hermione, Evie and Draco into their new home. The Malfoy Family chambers had been enlarged to include a nursery and a small nursery. Dumbledore had agreed it best that Hermione and Evie remain where they could be protected now Lucius Malfoy had revealed his dark intention to steal the Malfoy baby and there was no safer place than Hogwarts.
Leshia had sunk into her former happy relationship with her mother as thought the past year had been but a horrible nightmare. To her surprise Leshia found herself to adore Evie’s company. Already Leshia had come up with a plethora of fun games that had seen Hermione reaching for her camera on several occasions. It had been hard to tear themselves away from the rest of the family in order to greet the school with their heads held high, but as soon as they had stepped past the portrait of the newlyweds Leshia’s excitement had soared. She had missed her friends so dearly! Soon she would be back where she belonged.
“They’re going to treat me differently aren’t they?” Leshia mused quietly while the voices inside the hall dimmed. Dumbledore had evidently risen to his feet inside.
“Only if you let them sweetheart. Nothing has to change. Not if you don’t want them to.”
“Yeah right dad,” the girl laughed. “You know what they’re like around here. As if I ever had anything to do with public opinion of me in this school.”
Draco chuckled and his smile broadened when inside the Great Hall a huge wave of cheers, applause and catcalls deafened the pair waiting outside.
“Oh I don’t know,” the father spoke loudly over the din. The door started to creak open. “I feel as though you might be selling yourself short there.”
The doors to the Great Hall swung open revealing a sea of happy jubilant faces. Leshia and Draco received a hero’s welcome as they made their way through the hall to their respective places. At the top table Draco’s shoulders were embraced warmly by the staff that had come to adore the brooding unpredictable man while at Gryffindor table Leshia soon became buried by arms and bodies. The sea of movement swept her up the table to where her dearest friends had gathered. Their smiles were wet with tears and within moments Leshia was at their mercy. Hugs and kisses bombarded her and for a moment Leshia couldn’t remember a time she had been happier.
Life for Leshia returned to normal. Just how it managed to happen so quickly, the girl wasn’t sure, but it occurred to her one morning into her second week back that she felt as though she’d never been away. There were few who treated her differently; indeed, the student body were very good at hiding their reverence for the brave Gryffindor legend.
Only the news of Gryffindor’s defeat at the hands of the Ravenclaw team took a dent in Leshia’s happiness. She couldn’t deal with the guilt of missing the game and losing her team the quidditch cup. Mila had been inconsolable when it emerged she hadn’t led her team to victory at the time, but upon Leshia’s return she buried her private disappointment under a wave of appreciation for the hard work her team had put in during her brief stint as captain.
The weeks passed in a jubilant haze of enjoyment. Leshia particularly enjoyed being granted a special reprieve during exam week. While her closest friends struggled away in stuffy classrooms she took to loafing about in the grounds with those of her friends who didn’t have exams to get to and finally the last day of term approached. The summer was beckoning the sun kissed pupils.
As the train pulled out of the station at Hogsmeade Leshia cast the castle a longing gaze. She had been reunited with Hogwarts far too fleetingly and wished more than anything to stay another month or so to enjoy the freedom of her life. Leshia lay pushed up between Rachel and Parys, the sun dancing across her face while the train sped them home.
“So tomorrow we’ll meet up in the cauldron for some pumpkin juice?” Katie was instructing the group firmly. Rachel and Leshia exchanged a grin.
“Katie I’ve already told you, tomorrow’s Evie’s birthday. Mum’s planned this whole big party at my place. You’re all invited, which, by the way, I also told you.”
“Yeah,” Rodeo conceded. “But we’ve kind of been ignoring that one. I mean, a one-year-old’s birthday party? Doesn’t exactly sound like a hoot does it?”
“Like a what?” Rachel burst out laughing, but Leshia was stamping her foot down amusedly.
“Nice try Rodes, but you’re all coming. We can head out to the pub afterwards.”
“Is Owen coming tomorrow?” Rachel asked curiously, smiling devilishly when Leshia’s cheeks turned slightly pink.
“He said he might do, we’ll see.”
Katie and Rachel exchanged a conspiratorial smile that thankfully bypassed the boys’ attention. The train sped on through the British countryside.
“Are you going to be all boring and work in the bookshop again this summer? Oy shorty, I’m talking to you,” Parys managed through a yawn and he poked Leshia’s ear to let her know he had addressed her. Rolling her eyes Leshia pushed Parys away with a grin.
“Maybe, who knows? I don’t think I’ll be able to be as, well, you know, free this summer, what with…him and all that.”
The small group fell silent and they nodded.
“Well I for one can’t wait till next year,” Katie announced cheerily when the silence had become slightly awkward. No one had spoken much of the danger Lucius posed to Leshia herself, though conversations had been rampant behind her back.
“Why’s that?” Rachel asked cheerily.
“Because we’ll be in fifth year! Fifth years are chosen to be prefects! And we get to do OWLs! And we get to do much harder work…”
As one Katie’s friends all exchanged a node before they jumped to their feet and leapt on the raven-haired girl in a tickling frenzy that soon turned into an enormous pile up of laughing giggling teenagers. Yes, they were all looking forward to their fifth year at Hogwarts, though secretly they all rather hoped it could be just a little bit less eventful than the last few years had turned out to be. Just a little mind you.
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