Leshia Malfoy sighed heavily as she rested back against the crumbling brick wall behind Flourish and Blotts bookshop and lifted her feet up onto an old crate that had once delivered a shipment of Gilderoy Lockhart's Magical Me to the age-old bookshop, if the yellowing label on the side was anything to go by. Feeling tired from the morning's shelf-stacking, Leshia was happy that she finally had some time to herself to enjoy her sandwiches in peace and quiet, without some snivelling little child coming up to her with grubby hands and demanding to know where the new copy of Daisy Dunce was to be found. Daisy Dunce was a muggle, who went on incredibly exciting adventures. All wizard children seemed to adore the character and they had ensured that Daisy Dunce's creator Neville Longbottom was now a very rich man. He had just released the sixth book in the series and children everywhere were going mad just to get their hands on it.
The girl had spent her whole summer, give or take a few weeks of family holidaying in Italy with the Malfoys' closest friends, working at the bookshop to earn some extra pocket money. It had been her mother who had secured her the summer job. Hermione Granger-Malfoy was an avid reader and had been so for many years. The owners of the shop Regus Flourish and Tarquin Blott (direct descendents of the founders of the now renowned bookshop) were really rather fond of the clever witch, and were always happy when she was back in town and would regularly come to visit – often with odd requests.
On the first day of the holidays Hermione had rushed into town to see if she could put in an order for an Ancient Runes textbook that she would be using as a supplementary text in her third year lessons, and had found Regus in the process of placing a 'help wanted' sign in the window. Instantly Hermione had suggested her young daughter, as just the night before Leshia had been telling her parents that she was going to find a job for the summer.
However, when Hermione returned home in high spirits, after putting in her order and procuring a job for her only child, Leshia was not best pleased with the prospect of working and had tried to wheedle out of it, but Draco Malfoy, the girl's long-suffering father, had insisted that she keep to her word, and felt that maybe a little hard graft was exactly what the girl needed. He himself would be working hard all summer for the Ministry of Magic, who insisted on taking advantage of his desire to repent for all his wrongs and often sent him several owls a day with work in need of doing right. Hermione had spent most of the summer travelling to newly discovered Ancient Magical sites and had even been given the privilege of naming a primitive type of cauldron after she had discovered it. The young talented witch was in her element, despite having to spend more time away from her family than she would have liked.
With both her parents constantly occupied, it was fortunate that Leshia had enjoyed a distraction all summer. Flourish and Blotts had never been so organised, as the young girl had reorganised the sections, introduced a reading corner and given the dusty décor a revamp with the aid of her best friends Rachel Weasley and Katie Potter. Eager to avoid a repeat of the previous summer where the girls had spent barely three days together in the long seven-week holiday, the girls had managed to spend quite a lot of time together. Fun-filled weekends at the burrow, lavish and exciting weekends at Potter Manor in the north, and even several weeks of slumber parties, shopping trips and broom racing at the Malfoy townhouse in London. Realising that their friend wasn't able to take too much time off Rachel and Katie had descended on the Malfoys for whole weeks at a time, and much to Draco's horror, they had coincided their visits with periods of Hermione's absence. The girls had driven poor Draco up the wall with their endless giggling, their broomstick races in the hall and their endless tormenting of the houselves.
Giggling fondly as Leshia relived the latest of their antics, which involved driving poor Tally, the head houself of the Malfoy house, to distraction nearly resulting in her resignation, she began to eat her sandwiches alone in the alley behind the shop.
"Afternoon shorty." The girl looked up quickly and her eyes fell on Tobias Dredge: her summer crush. Unbelievably handsome, the twenty-something heartthrob had never found his true calling in life, and had therefore drifted from one job to the next. This particular summer he'd been working alongside Leshia as a courier, delivering books to witches and wizards unable to venture into the nation's capital. The girl had met him two days into her job, when she was on the verge of resigning in an angry tantrum. The moment she laid eyes on Tobias though, she promptly changed her mind, and had spent weeks ogling him, blushing furiously whenever he spoke to her. It would seem, that puberty, had finally smiled on Leshia Malfoy. No longer scrawny and shapeless, the girl still remained skinny, but there was a certain femininity to her tiny body. She had grown perhaps a few inches and was coming to terms with the fact that she was never going to be tall and striking like her friend Katie, and yet, it didn't bother her.
The boys too had started noticing her, much to Draco's bemusement. One particularly lazy Wednesday he'd abandoned his case notes and ambled into town, dead-set on taking his daughter out to lunch. However, as he had walked into the crowded bookshop he had found a gaggle of boys ogling her from behind a bookshelf, talking about certain parts of her body Draco would wish no man to speak about with no discretion. Those boys had left the shop in terror after he'd seen to them, but this certainly was not the end of the father's woes. His daughter was turning out to be a beautiful young lady, and every day he stepped out with her the boys stared.
"Hi Tobias," Leshia managed after quickly swallowing her mouthful of sandwich.
"You skiving or something?" the young man laughed genially as he dropped down opposite her onto another abandoned crate – one that he had no doubt delivered. Leshia swooned as his long ash blonde hair fell into his face.
"Shhh, don't tell," the girl managed with a cheeky grin. Tobias smiled back adoringly and motioned a cross across his chest.
"Cross my heart."
"Speaking of skiving, aren't you supposed to be in Germany?" the girl asked unsurely. All an act of course, she knew exactly where young Tobias Dredge had been every moment of the summer, but she couldn't let him know this.
"Well yeah, but Regus wrote to me last night, they've already run out of damn Daisy Dunce, and he needed another shipment." Leshia rolled her eyes exasperatedly, causing the young man to chuckle. "I bet the kids have been driving you up the wall."
"Leshia?" Both employees suddenly jumped to their feet, while Leshia stuffed her sandwich away and Tobias rushed to lift a crate down from his cart. By the time Tarquin had made it to the alleyway behind the shop, he found two perfectly presentable employees for all pretences actually working. "Oh here you are. Good girl, I was about to tell you to come help Tobias, but I see you've already found each other."
"Got the inner eye this one hasn't she?" Tobias said fondly and he ruffled Leshia's hair. Tarquin chuckled as the girl blushed bright red.
"So it would seem. Oh Leshia, when you're done with that, there's a young man waiting for you in the shop." With this Tarquin disappeared through the door once more leaving Leshia looking intrigued.
"Ooh, a young man eh?" Tobias teased. "Boyfriend?" Leshia continued to blush furiously and she play hit the young man's arm.
"Don't be stupid, I don't even know who it is!" she complained happily, but Tobias continued to tease her as they unloaded the crates into the stock room. Once they'd bid each other goodbye Leshia rushed into the shop and looked around eagerly for someone she recognised. No familiar faces jumped out at her however, so with a heavy heart she made her way to the front of the shop where she'd been putting up a display for the Daisy Dunce release. Perhaps whoever it was had left, fed up of waiting for the girl. Moments later however, Leshia discovered that this had not been the case.
"Guess who," a deep voice spoke aloud from behind the girl as two large hands dropped down over Leshia's eyes. After a pang of panic, Leshia suddenly recognised the voice.
"Parys? Is that you?" she laughed and spun around to see that indeed Parys was standing behind her, with Rodeo at his side grinning dashingly. Boy these two had grown. Parys and Rodeo were the heartthrobs of Leshia's year at school. They were in her house and had been very good friends of hers since first year. "What happened to your voice?" Parys grinned and shrugged his shoulders.
"More to the point, what happened to you?" Rodeo cut in sounding surprised and slightly humbled. Leshia turned to look at him with quizzical expression.
"What are you talking about? I haven't changed," she laughed, but to add to her discomfort Parys too stood back and cocked his head to the side as he looked her up and down, trying to figure out what Rodeo had noticed…there was something different about the girl: she looked…stunning. "Stop it," Leshia complained happily and she reached out and shoved Rodeo's arm. "What are you two doing here?"
"Got our booklists didn't we," Parys explained cheerfully as he brandished his Hogwarts letter before the girl. Leshia frowned.
"Funny, I didn't get mine."
"Maybe they've kicked you out, figured this way they might cut their detentions in half," Rodeo suggested with a wicked smile. Leshia laughed and shook her head, but then she stopped and looked alarmed.
"You think?" Both boys laughed.
"You probably left too early, we just got ours an hour ago," Parys suggested. With a resigned nod Leshia helped her friends search for the books they needed and then agreed to meet them at the ice cream parlour down the lane when she was done for the day. The rest of the afternoon went by painfully slowly, but finally the girl was given leave to go and she rushed down the road to find her friends buried under a mountain of parcels and packages. She greeted them fondly before getting herself a mint cone and dropping down beside them.
"So, how long have you been working over at Flourish and Blotts?" Rodeo asked cheerfully. Leshia rolled her eyes.
"The whole summer," she grumbled.
"What all summer?" Parys finally exclaimed sounding sympathetic.
"You poor thing!"
"Yeah tell me about it, my mum got me the job and then my dad made me do it because he thought it was…what did he say? Oh yeah…" The girl paused for dramatic effect. "Character building!" The boys laughed jubilantly, watching the girl adoringly. "What did you two slackers do all summer?"
"Well I've been staying with Rodes for three weeks, seeing how the other half live," Parys explained, before he grimaced and shook his head. "I wouldn't recommend it. Muggles have to do everything by hand!"
"Shut up you freeloader, you enjoyed yourself," Rodeo laughed and he punched his best friend's arm to silence him. "Especially the TV."
"You don't have a television?" Leshia asked in surprise. Parys grinned wryly and shook his head. "But I thought your dad was a muggle?"
"Yeah well he is, but mum is so against muggle contraptions that she never let him have one installed," the boy said with a sigh.
"God Parys, how do you manage?" Leshia laughed. "We have a muggle room in our house, dad doesn't really like to go in there, except when they're showing war films on TV, those he'll make an exception for."
"Yeah all right, no need to rub it in," Parys laughed. "So where are your little friends?"
"Charming," Rodeo interrupted with a grin, and Leshia felt herself feel indescribably irritated for a second or two. He was no doubt concerned over what Katie had been doing, and whether or not she was still going to be falling head over heels for him.
"Well it's true," the darker haired boy laughed. "They normally follow this one round like lap dogs."
"Parys!" Leshia laughed. "They're at home, where else would they be?"
"Hiding in your shadow?" Parys suggested cheerfully; he, unlike Rodeo, found Leshia's best friends to be trying. Rachel he liked to a certain extent, but found her to be a little too unpredictable. Katie however, was a different story, though perhaps his dislike for her came from her intense like for his best friend.
"Just shut up Parys," Rodeo complained, sounding on the verge of getting annoyed. The dark haired boy rolled his eyes and sighed, but soon another charming grin had wrangled its way onto his handsome face.
"Have you heard yet who's made quidditch captain?" Leshia shrugged her shoulders.
"No," she said simply. "It's definitely not going to be me for sure."
"Ah why not? You're a great little seeker," Rodeo countered.
"Yeah but I'm in third year that's why," Leshia complained, pulling a face at the boy for calling her little. It didn't help her case that now both boys had shot up like beanpoles, she was little in comparison. "It'll probably be Mila in sixth year, she's the most experienced. We have to replace three players you know, that's how many left at the end of last year. Where we're going to find them I don't know."
"Well there's us," Parys said cheerfully, and he slung his arm around Rodeo's shoulders while puffing out his chest proudly.
"No offence boys, but we need to find people who can actually play," Leshia countered with a big smile on her face. Her teasing was instantly rewarded by being dragged into the crook of Parys arm while Rodeo ruffled her hair with both his hands, so by the time they released the giggling girl, she looked like she'd climbed through a hedge backwards.
"Thank you very much, now I'm going to have to go home and spend the next ten hours straightening my hair," the girl said fondly, trying to calm down her wild curls with her hands. Rodeo and Parys weren't grinning anymore though; their eyes had drifted over Leshia's head towards the tall imposing figure that was stalking through the crowds towards them. As though a sensor had gone off in Draco's head notifying him that boys were touching his precious daughter, the tall blonde man had suddenly appeared on the scene wearing a dangerously pleasant expression. It was his slightly narrowed eyes that gave his protectiveness away, and without realising it, the two young men inched away from the girl they had just play-assaulted.
"What?" Leshia, who was yet to realise her father had arrived on the scene, asked the boys with a frown. "I don't smell!" Her friends didn't even smile, and only now did Leshia realise they were looking over her head, and after quickly peering over her shoulder she saw why. "Hi," she said to her father with a small frown, what was wrong with him?
"I've been sent to get you, we've been invited to the Potter's for a barbeque. Everyone's going to be there," her father told her simply. Leshia grinned triumphantly.
"Oh cool," she said cheerfully.
"Well come on then," Draco said obviously, though his expression softened. Leshia beamed at him, before she turned round to smile at her friends
"See you next week boys," she told them happily.
"Yeah, bye," the two youngsters managed uneasily, still watching the unpredictable Defence Against the Dark Arts professor anxiously, as though he were about to either set them a month's detention, or bite their heads off. With this Leshia jumped to her feet and joined her father's side, who was still looking at the young men through narrowed eyes.
"Dad!" Leshia complained.
"What?" Draco complained innocently, and he allowed himself to be dragged away from the two incredibly relieved boys. As father and daughter disappeared into the crowds the two best friends still sat at the table turned to one and other with wide eyes, both thinking the exact same thing; if they were ever lucky enough to make it to the 'more than friendship' stage with that girl, then they would have to fear for their lives.
"You can't go around glaring at all my friends dad, it's intimidating," Leshia complained fondly as her father escorted her through the busy afternoon crowds.
"But it's so entertaining," Draco chuckled and he grinned down at his thirteen-year-old daughter fondly. "Besides, I can't have them losing respect…"
"Fear," his daughter cut in warmly.
"…For me outside of school can I?" Leshia rolled her eyes and shrugged her shoulders, not wanting to get into a debate about the Professor Malfoy persona her father adopted during school hours. It would seem that during his teaching hours the young man took his personality characteristics and increased them tenfold to the point that most students adored and feared the teacher; his brusque and unpredictable nature even scared Leshia sometimes, as it reminded her of his manner when she'd been incredibly naughty. It was turning into a gloriously balmy summer evening, and both father and daughter were in exceptionally high spirits as they made the short walk from Diagon Alley to their beautifully homely townhouse in the centre of London.
Hermione was carefully arranging a vast platter of shrimp and various garlic sauces as Leshia and Draco walked in. Dressed in a pretty yellow linen summer dress that accentuated the tan she had recently built up from a dig site in the south of France, Hermione looked positively radiant, and her ethereal image caught the breath in Draco's chest.
"Seafood?" Leshia asked warily as the smell of the fresh shrimp met her nose. "Will there we anything else mum?" Her mother laughed warmly and nodded to her fussy daughter.
"Yes, don't you worry, we won't let you starve," she chuckled, before adding the finishing touches to her glorious platter. Once she had covered it with a large muslin cloth she walked through and planted a firm kiss on her husband's cheek. "Thank you darling," she told him adoringly; he had been very reluctant to walk all the way to Diagon Alley just to fetch their wayward daughter, who ought to have been home as soon as her shift finished.
"I had to trawl up and down that street ten times looking for her," he complained mockingly.
"No you didn't, you…" Leshia began with a frown, but her father quickly covered her mouth with his hand.
"Oh you poor thing," Hermione laughed lovingly, before she kissed her husband tenderly. At their side Leshia squirmed away from her father, casting her parents a highly disgruntled look.
"Do you have to do that in front of the minors?" she complained with a shudder, before rushing over to the stairs in order to escape and to plan her outfit. Ever since the young girl had started to feel pleased (rather than dismayed) by what she saw in the mirror, she had gone on a clothes-buying splurge. All the extra money she had been earning from the bookshop had definitely come in handy, and as such the young girl's wardrobe had never seemed so packed full of clothes. Leshia was quite adamant though (after her father had started teasing her) that she had not turned into a girly girl; she merely pointed out that it is in one's best interest to look as good as one can…without going overboard. The girl had flat-out refused to buy anything Katie had suggested on one of their many shopping trips. It would seem that Katie's fashion sense had taken an extreme turn towards the rather smaller variety of clothing available and most of the time Leshia and Rachel felt she was dressed rather like a tramp.
Ginny Potter, Katie's worried mother, evidently agreed with the girls and had started curbing Katie's buying habits, by stopping her pocket money and only buying clothes when she, or any other responsible adult (often Hermione) was present. So now the young girl stood before her massive wardrobe, deeply considering her options. Ten minutes later and she was dressed in a pair of cropped jeans and a little yellow T-shirt she hadn't been able to resist two days ago on the muggle high street, covered by a thin white cardigan. After pulling on some clunky sandals she picked up a book she'd promised to buy Katie (who was trying to get some pre-term reading in – much to the amusement of her less-conscientiously minded friends) and ran down to find her parents in the exact same position she had left them in.
"Ah hem," the girl cleared her voice loudly. "You know some of us have a barbeque to get to."
"Do we have to?" Draco asked. Hermione laughed lovingly at her husband, but eventually pulled free in order to take the freshly baked loaves of bread she had made out of the oven.
"Are you trying to pretend you're actually growing?" Draco asked, turning on their daughter and gently nudging her platform sandal with his foot. Leshia grinned and shrugged.
"If it works," she said cheerfully. "And besides, I have grown, you know I have!"
"Nope, sorry," Draco said lightly, a big smile on his face. In truth, he was refusing to accept that his once little girl was finally growing up into a lovely young woman. All he saw when he looked on her face was the mischievous smile he'd come to love (and fear, because it often meant trouble) over the years. She was his little girl, and that's all that mattered, whether she liked it or not.
"Really dad, if you want a baby, why don't you just have another one?" the girl grumbled fondly, before she rushed into the kitchen to help her mother with a veritable mountain of bread sticks and loaves, leaving her father chewing on the insides of his cheeks in the hall. This had been an issue he and Hermione had been discussing a lot recently. They were still young, only thirty-four years old; so there would be time to have another child…or two or three (if Hermione was to have her way). However, Draco seemed incredibly reluctant on the idea and he couldn't even explain it himself. In part he knew they'd been lucky with the way Leshia turned out. All throughout Hermione's pregnancy (the bit that he was witness too) and throughout most of Leshia's babyhood, the young man had feared greatly for his child. What if she turned out the way he had when he was a youngster? Could he bear to have a child like he had once been? He knew he didn't want to subject that on Hermione; he would never subject that on anyone he cared about.
Of course he knew that it was how you reared a child that greatly determined how they turned out, but you could never be sure. What if the Malfoy genes were just a rotten bunch? All in all Draco had been hugely relieved when it turned out that Leshia wasn't vindictive and cruel like he was as a boy. Yes she had inherited many Malfoy characteristics, and many of them weren't good, but she wasn't evil, as he believed he had once been. What if they didn't get so lucky a second time round?
"Draco come on, we're going, will you please get the cupboard?" Hermione's voice came, which was immediately followed by,
"Never you mind," Draco called out quickly, before his wife had a chance to reply, and he quickly went into his office, returning moments later with a small cabinet in his hands. As he entered the kitchen Leshia watched him curiously.
"That's barely a nightstand, it's not a cupboard," she complained, with a brow furrowed in thought.
"Do I have to fiddle with your brain, didn't you hear me? I said never you mind," Draco said firmly and he quickly grabbed a basket full of bread and a handful of floo powder and the next moment he was gone. Leshia frowned at Hermione for answers.
"It really is best if you don't ask questions," the young woman told her daughter. "Now take these and be careful not to drop them." After being handed a platter of shrimp, Leshia took her handful of floo powder and stepped into the grate.
"Potter Manor," she said clearly, before throwing her powder to the floor. After the uncomfortable sensation of travelling over the floo network Leshia appeared in the hallway of the grand house that was Potter Manor.
"Leshia!" the voices of Katie and Rachel came from the landing up above and after having her shrimp platter extricated from her arms by a jubilant Ginny, Leshia was suddenly overcome by her friends' exuberant embraces.
"Ughh, you smell like fish," Rachel complained and quickly darted back with a cheeky grin.
"It's not me you idiot, it is fish," she said pointing to the large platter, which was currently being taken away into the kitchen. "Anyway, there's more important matters at hand," the young girl said and dragged her friends over to the side of the hall. "Did you see my dad appear?"
"Yeah, just a few minutes ago," Rachel replied.
"Was he carrying a little cabinet thing?" Leshia asked intently, and once more she got an affirmative reply. "Where did he go with it?"
"Dad's study," Katie explained. "He and dad seemed in a hurry too, like they didn't want us to see it." After a few moments frowning Leshia smiled mischievously at her friends.
"Let's investigate." After deciding that it was probably wise to wait until their parents were less vigilant and enjoying the good food, the girls abandoned the cabinet quest and headed out into the glorious sunny evening, where the many offspring of the Weasleys were playing with Michael, Katie's younger brother. After agreeing that they were far too mature to join in the game, and too shy to go and interrupt the conversation the older youngsters were having down by the pond, the girls squeezed into the hanging bench swing together.
"You know, you've got the most amazing garden," Leshia said after a comfortable silence. Her words were possibly an understatement, as the Potter estate stretched for acres, encompassing a small wood and even a lake down towards the southern grounds. "This would be a great place to throw a party."
"My parents do," Katie exclaimed pointedly. "All the blimming time!"
"All right, keep your hair on," Leshia laughed. "I was just saying…"
"Yeah I know, I'm sorry, it's just the amount of parties they've had here over the years has driven me a little potty."
"Well we've been to loads," Rachel countered.
"Well no, your parents have, you two come to maybe one percent of the parties my parents throw, trust me." It would seem this was a sore spot for Katie, so Rachel quickly made a drastic u-turn in the conversation.
"We're going into town tomorrow to get our books," she said cheerfully. "Are you going to have any time off to see us?"
"Maybe, come round one, then I'll be on my lunch break. Oh yeah, Rodeo and Parys came round today, God they've grown. Parys even sounded so much like a man that I didn't even know it was him."
"Aww, did the ickle boy's voice break?" Rachel teased, trying to cover up for the dreamy look that had suddenly crossed Katie's face. She had hoped that her cousin's attraction for Rodeo would have diminished over the summer, but evidently, absence had made the heart grow fonder and Katie was as infatuated as ever. This was the most difficult of situations for the red-haired girl, having both of her best friends fancy the same boy. In truth she felt that Leshia had befriended him first and therefore ought to have first dibs, but Katie seemed to be more aware of her feelings, and perhaps was in a better position to act on them… All in all it was far too complicated to think about too often, as it made the girl's head hurt.
"He looked really good," Leshia said simply.
"And Rodeo?" Katie asked in a rather pitiful attempt at a carefree tone. Leshia turned slowly to look at the raven-haired girl and raised her eyebrows.
"Rodeo? He was the same as ever I guess," she replied. "I think Parys might be better looking than him now." An awkward silence filled the bench swing while the girls watched the children down the other end of the garden playing with the carefree bliss of the summer holidays.
"So have you two found out any more on the Order of the Phoenix?" Leshia asked curiously, forcing her petulance away and trying to act more mature now she was in third year. Her friends shook their heads glumly. Ever since Leshia had found out about the Order of Phoenix from her mad grandfather (and ever since she had told her friends the moment they had some privacy) the trio of mischievous girls had been trying to find out about this elusive group their parents were members of.
"I couldn't find anything at the Grand Library down Diagon Alley," Katie sighed. "I looked for four hours and found absolutely nothing! I could however, tell you the ins and outs of phoenix care, phoenix spotting and phoenix legends…"
"That's okay thanks," Leshia chuckled. "We'll pass."
"Thought as much," Katie sighed.
"I suppose because they're still operating they're trying to keep themselves secret," Leshia guessed with a shrug.
"But that sucks, because that means we can't find anything out about them!" Rachel grumbled.
"Well no, it just means we have to be smarter," Leshia countered with a shifty grin on her pretty face.
"Leshia! Do you have a plan?" Katie asked sounding surprised. The small blonde girl grinned and shook her head.
"No, not yet, but I'm working on one." A small look of doubt crossed the girl's face and she looked down to the ground. Katie and Rachel exchanged a worried glance; Leshia had been doing this all summer and it often coincided with discussions about the Order of the Phoenix. It was as though it had a connection unbeknownst to the two girls that had the uncanny ability to depress their friend.
Leshia had not told them the other half of the story. Her grandfather had not only told her about the Order, but he had done so in relation to some awful news about her father. Draco Malfoy had been a traitor; a traitor responsible for the deaths of many good wizards. The thought of it made Leshia feel sick to her stomach, so much so, that she hadn't even been able to confide in her friends. Most of her was still clinging to the hope that it was all a lie and that her grandfather had been trying to turn her against her father, but there was a niggling feeling at the back of her head that was telling her it was no lie.
"Hey Leesh!" The girls looked up to see Tom and Luke, cousins of one another and of Katie and Rachel (the Weasleys had grown to such proportions that now they could be called a clan). The pair of troublemakers were following in their uncle Fred and George's footsteps and were well known for being the troublemakers of the school. They were also similar to their predecessors in that they were the beaters on the Gryffindor quidditch team, of which Leshia was the seeker.
"Have you heard? Mila made captain!" Luke told the girl happily and he dropped down on top of the girls, squashing them quite thoroughly.
"Luke! Get off you great lump!" Rachel laughed wildly.
"Hey, that looks like fun!" Tom cheered and he quickly joined his cousin in squashing the girls. All five of them were laughing wildly and after a brief struggle in which the pair of fifteen-year-olds ticked them mercilessly, a creaking sound indicated the eminent crashing of the bench to the ground. The youngsters managed to scramble off just in time and then lined up, staring down at the broken bench with disgruntled expressions.
"Damn," Tom finally laughed and he slapped his best friend across the back of the head. "You're it!" With this he charged off with his cousin in pursuit.
"Come on, let's go tell dad we broke the bench," Katie told her friends with a grimace.
"It's easily fixed, he won't be mad," Leshia reassured the girl comfortingly, and the three girls traipsed inside. Their mothers were busy cooking in the kitchen along with the other women who had married into the Weasley family. Molly Weasley, or more commonly known as Grandma Weasley these days, seemed to be in charge and she was running a tight ship in her daughter's grand kitchen. The men of the family were enjoying the billiard room where a strange drinking billiards competition had started up. Draco, Ron and Harry were notably absent.
"Maybe they're still in my dad's study," Katie suggested and after a shrug the girls started off towards the large study Harry had fashioned at the end of the house.
"Wait," Leshia said quickly and she grinned sneakily at her friends. "Do you have the invisibility cloak Katie?" The dark haired girl frowned.
"Yes," she said warily, already guessing what her shorter friend was thinking. "Leesh really, you want to go snooping? What happened to wanting to have a calm year this time round? I don't think my heart could take any more adventure!" The other two sniggered in a most unladylike manner, before they headed for the stairs with Katie in pursuit.
"Okay, I'll get it for you," she called after them before they had the chance to go rooting through her things almost certainly disrupting the precious equilibrium of her room. She managed to beat her friends to her door and then insisted they wait outside with their muddy shoes while she fetched it.
"She's getting more and more neat-freaky every time we're here," Leshia whispered to Rachel with a big grin. The redhead rolled her eyes and sniggered.
"Tell me about it," she chuckled.
"I just did," the blonde girl countered cockily.
"Oh ha ha smart arse," Rachel giggled and she launched into a tickling attack on her best friend.
"All right you two, break if up," Katie admonished her friends fondly as she showed them the cloak. "Let's put it on now, our parents know what it looks like remember? They'll know what we're up to." The girls agreed and after checking the coast was clear, Katie flung the cloak around the three of them and they started to shuffle down the stairs towards Harry's study. It took them five minutes to get there, when it normally only would have taken one, but as they neared they realised the effort was worth it: their fathers were speaking in hushed secretive voices. The girls exchanged excited expressions under the cloak and then approached the door, which lay conveniently open – evidently the three men were convinced none of the children would be wandering around indoors on such a beautiful day.
Leshia gasped in surprise when she saw what had previously been a small cabinet now looming as a giant ancient cupboard. Her father had evidently placed a shrinking spell on the cupboard in order to transport it easily to the Potters'.
"And you're sure it's been completely fixed," Harry was saying to Draco while Ron walked around the cupboard in amazement. Draco looked tiredly to Harry.
"Yes Potter, I'm sure it's fixed," he repeated. "Besides, it wasn't this end that was the problem, it was fixing the spells on the Hogwarts end. After that…incident…McGonagall had it warped. They couldn't destroy it because of the magic surrounding it, but she did change the spellwork so it wouldn't transport so much as…obliterate."
"Ouch," Ron exclaimed with a wince. "That could be a nasty mix up." Draco nodded in agreement.
"It's all fine now though," he explained.
"You're absolutely sure?" Harry checked once more. Leshia could see her father was getting extremely exasperated with the two men. Even though now they were able to call one another 'friends', the young girl was well aware of the short tether Draco's patience inhabited when he was around these two best friends.
"Potter just get in there already," Draco complained and he opened the door shoving Harry inside.
"And hope that Malfoy's as capable as he lets on," Ron chuckled. Draco shot Ron an amused glare, before he grinned to Harry.
"Ready?" he asked cheerfully.
"Well…" Harry began, but before he could express his concerns Draco had shut the cupboard doors behind him. For a few moments Draco and Ron waited in silence – Draco's hands still clutching the door handles, his knuckles going slightly white (Leshia alone could see he was nervous and she hoped for a moment that he hadn't been lying when he told them the cupboard, whatever it did, had been fixed – memories of his earlier betrayal had cast doubts over his character…was he still working for the dark Lord? Was he still trying to kill everybody?) – until finally a muffled knocking sound could be heard and Draco opened the doors to welcome a flurry of black leather-winged activity.
"Bats!" Ron cried out as the hoard of disgruntled flying beasties swarmed around the room preceding Harry, who came stumbling out of the cupboard.
"It's Hogwarts all right! We've done it!" he cried triumphantly. "This will act as a perfect emergency entrance and exit should…"
All three men turned to stare in the direction of the door, which had moments earlier acted as an escape route for the hoard of bats that had evidently taken up residence in the cupboard on the 'Hogwarts end'. In time with their fathers, Rachel and Leshia turned to glare sternly at Katie, who had moments previously let out a scream as the bats collided with their hidden bulk. Within a few strides the men had closed in on their location, and Harry, well aware of the trick, reached out blindly until his fingers closed around the cloak. As he pulled it off the three surprised fathers met the angelic faces of their daughters, who were trying very desperately to appear entirely angelic.
"What are you doing?" Harry demanded, managing to sound angry through his surprise.
"Well…I…we…we…." Katie stammered, while Rachel hung her head and stared at her feet and Leshia met her father's eye guiltily.
"When are you three going to learn?" Harry continued. "Haven't you had enough adventures to last you a lifetime?" The girls didn't respond. "Katie go up to your room." The sternness in Harry's tone terrified Katie, who felt vulnerable enough about her relationship with her father without all this to make it worse. After a tearful glance to her friends she scarpered, dragging the cloak with her. Harry looked incredibly saddened and guilty, but he followed in her wake to go and tell Ginny what had happened and why Katie would not be joining them for dinner.
"Come on Rachel, you can help your grandma in the kitchen," Ron told his own daughter, failing severely in the 'stern' department, but managing to convey his disappointment nonetheless. Rachel felt tears welling up in her own eyes; she and Ron had been each other's support this summer, which saw more arguments between Ron and lavender, Rachel's mother (who was on the brink of walking out on her family), than ever. She hated upsetting him. The girl went peaceably without so much as a glance at Leshia who was still watching Draco worriedly. As Rachel and Ron disappeared down the corridor Draco seemed to consider what he was going to do. His expression wasn't quite mad, but it was definitely bemused.
"I'm beginning to think there's something wrong with your hearing," he finally told the girl darkly, as he reached behind himself and shut the door, blocking out the view of the cupboard that had caused all the grief.
"Dad I'm sorry!" Leshia quickly spluttered.
"You're always sorry Leshia," Draco complained, a hint of anger entering his voice. "Why can't you just behave yourself for once huh?" Leshia looked to the ground dejectedly and shrugged her shoulders.
"I don't know," she grumbled. "This is how you made me, you can't complain!"
"Yes," Draco countered firmly. "I can. I've raised you to respect me, and when I tell you not to interfere with something then you had damn well better listen." The pair lulled into silence while Leshia chewed on the insides of her mouth and seemingly studied her father's feet intently.
"I'm taking you home," Draco finally said, breaking the silence and he took hold of Leshia's arm and started leading her back to the hearth in the kitchen. In the corner Rachel was being told off sternly by her grandmother, with Ron standing by nodding every once in a while evidently not following his mother's rant. Lavender wasn't coming till late evening, and even then, he doubted she would care enough to punish the girl, so had gone for the fairest disciplinarian he had ever met: his mother. Ron himself was incapable of discipline.
Hermione had been listening in to what Ron told Molly and felt secretly dismayed that the evening was ruined, because surely Draco was going to be furious with Leshia. Her fears were confirmed when Draco walked in with Leshia by his side, his expression thunderous and Leshia with her head hanging.
"Draco?" Hermione questioned sounding concerned.
"I think we should send Leshia home for the evening," Draco told his wife in a 'please-don't-argue-with-me-on-this-one' expression and so Hermione nodded.
"Okay," she sighed, before looking down at Leshia with a disappointed face. "I'll come with you so that I can ask Tally to make you some tea." Leshia sighed and nodded, yet was secretly relieved when her father let her arm go. She knew he would never ever lay a finger on her, but she didn't like being frog marched around by her arm, it was so degrading and humiliating. Draco and Hermione exchanged an unreadable look, before he stalked from the room.
"Come on," Hermione sighed and she reached out for some floo powder and handed it to her daughter. "After you."
Once back home Leshia sat down at the kitchen table while Hermione hailed Tally and instructed her to make her daughter some dinner. Leshia felt entirely rotten; she had spoiled the evening for her parents. She knew that neither Hermione nor Draco would enjoy the barbeque terribly now. Finally, after an exasperating conversation with Tally (the elf didn't terribly like Hermione, because the young woman was constantly trying to force rights and benefits on the elf, which Tally took as an insult) Hermione returned to her daughter and after a moment's hesitation she sat down beside her and wrapped her arms around her young daughter.
"I know that it's not entirely your fault darling," she said gently. "We never should have shown you that damn thing, of course you were going to be curious." Leshia sighed and nodded. "But that doesn't mean that you were right to go spying on your father Leshia. You know how much he wants us to respect his privacy." The awful gut churning feeling Leshia had been ignoring all summer was back. She desperately wanted to tell her mother about what Lucius had told her, but she was terrified of breaking up her parents' gloriously perfect marriage. Hermione and Draco seemed so suited to one another Leshia was sure they must have consumed love potion at some stage in their relationship.
"I know," the girl sighed. "Do you think he'll forgive me?"
"Of course he will, don't be silly," Hermione chuckled. "I must ask you though Leshia, don't go snooping into this matter any more do you understand?" Her mother looked so serious and so disappointed that Leshia nodded quickly. "Good girl," Hermione said with a smile and she kissed her daughter's forehead. "I have to get back, I'm sorry you can't join us sweetheart."
"It's okay mum," Leshia said with a forced smile, that she managed to keep on he face until her mother had disappeared through the grate.
"Damn," Leshia grumbled and she climbed to her feet, rushing up the stairs two at a time until she had reached her room and dropped down at her desk. Without thinking she took out a pad of paper and a muggle pencil and started to sketch the cupboard as best as she could. After ten minutes she was satisfied that her drawing matched the real version, so she folded the paper carefully and stuffed it inside her diary; well, diary in the sense that that's what was emblazoned upon the front cover, and diary in the sense that Katie had given it to her as a gift from France a few summer's ago with the hope that Leshia would take to writing, but it wasn't a diary in any other sense. Occasionally she wrote down some thoughts in it, but in truth, Leshia wasn't the writing kind. It would however serve well to hide things in; surely her father wouldn't look through her diary?
"She's asleep," Hermione said softly as she walked back into the room she shared with her husband, where he was currently undressing for bed. Draco nodded once indicating he'd heard her, but that he didn't want to make a response. His silence upset Hermione, who turned her back on Draco in order to change.
"I know you think I'm overreacting," Draco said softly, finally deigning to share his feelings on this matter with his beloved wife. "But if Leshia looks into the cupboards and what they're capable of, then she might find out about…" He trailed off and gulped heavily. In an instant Hermione felt complete love, adoration and sympathy for her husband. How could she have been so short-sighted? He was afraid of his precious daughter finding out about the chaos and tragedy he had caused with those cupboards in their sixth year at school.
"She won't find out about that Draco, nobody knows about that," she assured him gently. Draco looked up at her with a worried frown.
"But what if she does? She's getting older now, and if she finds out about even half the things I got up to in school she's going to hate me." Hermione smiled and shook her head, sidling over to him and draping her arms around his strong bare shoulders.
"She couldn't hate you," she assured him and kissed him gently, reassuringly. After a few moments he returned her embrace and thanked his lucky stars for the umpteenth time that he had wooed this enchanting woman. She meant everything to him.
"She already has once, you forget," he said into her shoulder. Hermione frowned worriedly; yes, she had heard the story of Leshia's period of ignoring her father in her first year at Hogwarts, and in comparison to Draco's misdoings, that had been over something relatively mild. Would she hate her father if she found out how different he had been when they were younger? She was a Malfoy, and every now and then she displayed the worst of her father's family's genes. When she was a lot younger she had been a very unforgiving child; if somebody wronged her, she was very slow to grant forgiveness.
"Draco…" Hermione said softly as her husband kissed the line of her collarbone. "I've been thinking…" In an instant Draco had pulled away from her.
"Oh no," he groaned. "That can't be good."
"Hey," Hermione complained indignantly, though her eyes were smiling fondly at her husband. "You know how we were talking last week about…well, about…" Draco frowned worriedly.
"About having another baby. Well, have you had a chance to think about it?" Draco watched his wife's expression turn hopeful and he opened and shut his mouth several times in an attempt to respond, but no words escaped.
"I need more time," he managed eventually sounding apologetic. "I'm sorry," he added when he saw the disappointment fill Hermione's pretty face. "It's a big decision, not one that I can make my mind up over within a few weeks." Hermione sighed and nodded, donning a false smile.
"I know, I'm sorry I'm pushing you," she said softly, secretly screaming on the inside. It was different for Draco, he had been there throughout Leshia's entire childhood, but Hermione had missed out on six years of her daughter's life. She had missed the most important part of Leshia's life; when she started to flourish into her own little self, when she started to find out who she was… It was all too painful to bear when she thought of how much she had missed. Hermione so desperately wanted another child it actually hurt when she thought of her impending birthday. Thirty-four years old…the clock was ticking. If she was going to have two more children, as she desperately desired, then now was the time.
She couldn't possibly understand Draco's reluctance; he was so mortified at Leshia's growing up and turning into a young woman that surely having a new child to baby was the perfect solution? He so desperately wanted Leshia to stop growing up and preferably start turning into the little girl she used to be, that it was entirely confusing as to why he wouldn't want to try for another little girl, or the son Hermione had wanted her whole life.
The following morning Leshia woke early and changed into some jeans, a T-shirt and her muggle trainers, before she stuck her hair up into a ponytail and sprinted downstairs. Despite waking up ridiculously early, she was already late for work and for the umpteenth time she wondered why on earth she was still at this job, was it worth all this hassle?
"Morning!" she called out cheerfully as she came bursting into the kitchen to find both her parents already up and enjoying their respective morning papers; the Galleon Review for Draco, and the Magical Archaeologist for Hermione.
"Good morning darling, you're going to be late," Hermione said fondly as Leshia rushed over to the table and gulped down a glass of orange juice.
"Yeah I know, gotta go," she said simply, and after snatching up a piece of toast she headed for the front door. "Bye!" she called to her parents and then she was gone, leaving them exchanging a fond look. Leshia positively sprinted the five-minute journey to the Leaky Cauldron, where she burst in, knocking the drink out of an old Warlock's hands.
"I'm so sorry!" she spluttered, before she fished some coins out of her pocket and shoved it into the Warlock's hands. "Here you go! I'm so sorry!" This was all she had time for before she sprinted through the crowded pub to the back garden. Luckily the gateway into Diagon Alley had just been opened and she squirmed in before it had the chance to close on her.
"Leshia!" Tarquin called to the young girl as she came careening through the doors of Flourish and Blotts.
"I'm so sorry Mr Blott," she panted when she reached his side, finally allowing herself to catch her breath. Old Tarquin Blott chuckled fondly at the girl.
"That's quite all right Leshia, it's been quiet this morning anyway. Tobias has been filling in for you." Leshia looked up in surprise and found Tobias grinning at her from behind the counter. She grinned back while blushing bright red and wiped the crumbs of her toast-on-the-go from her chin. Leshia was about to make up some elaborate excuse for her tardiness when the chime of the door opening rang out.
"Oh a customer, off you go Leshia," Tarquin said jovially and he went off into the back room. Leshia turned around to see who she was going to help, only to find that the person she had least wanted to see was standing in the doorway looking around with an incredibly bemused expression.
"Oh no," she whispered to herself as across the shop Damian Allseyer, her arch enemy, locked eyes on her and matched her grim expression. Aware that Tarquin was watching her from the stock room, wondering why she hadn't rushed forward to help the customer, Leshia set her jaw firmly and walked forward. Behind the pointy-faced youngster stood his parents. The woman, Mrs Gemima Allseyer was a portly short ugly thing dressed in a shapeless dress accented by an ugly fur stole, and at her side stood an even shorter still gentleman, with an identical figure to that of his wife, dressed in a suit too tight across his bulging chest and with a filthy little moustache sitting on his upper lip. This was Alistair Allseyer, a coward who had never associated himself publicly with Voldemort, but now all other death eaters had been eradicated fancied himself rather the man about town. Last year Leshia had caught him berating her father on his teaching practice, as such, she hated the pathetic little man.
Allseyer was looking very pink from his summer in the sun, and yet it did nothing to soften his features. He wasn't unattractive, but due to the unpleasant expressions he always wore any appeal to his fine features wore off before you had the chance to form a positive opinion of his appearance. At this moment in time he was scowling at Leshia, wondering why she was approaching him in public while he was out with his parents. Surely she wasn't going to try anything?
"Can I help you?" Leshia asked hurriedly and in monotone, trying not to express any of the anger she felt at seeing Allseyer in her territory.
"What?" Damian demanded.
"Damian," the boy's mother complained. "Yes," she told the girl in a bemused way. "Here, we're after these." Leshia took the list, trying to ignore Damian Allseyer's glare.
"I'll get them right away, they'll be at the counter," she said hurriedly and rushed off with the book list she too had received: the third yearbooks they required. With a sigh of dismay she saw that Allseyer too was taking Divination and Muggle Studies, two of her subjects. It seemed the only place she would stand a chance of avoiding him was in Ancient Runes. After thanking her lucky stars that Hermione had guilt-tripped her into taking her subject Leshia went about collecting the books, noticing each time she glanced at the family, that Damian was speaking in rushed tones to his parents, constantly jerking his head in her direction.
"Damn," Leshia groaned as she collected the last book on the list and made her way to the counter were Tobias was counting up the bill.
"So," Damian said cheerfully as Leshia placed the books down on the counter for Tobias to count up; the girl blushed furiously, so, the wretched Slytherin was going to embarrass her in front of Tobias was he?
"I'm sorry, but I'm very busy," Leshia tried.
"Oh, so you don't want your tip?" Gemima scowled at the girl. Leshia felt torn: to receive the tip she had earned, or to run, giving Allseyer no chance to embarrass her in front of the most good looking man alive.
"Um…well yes thank you madam that would be very kind of you," Leshia forced and she stood rooted to the spot while Gemima Allseyer slowly rifled through her purse. This gave Damian Allseyer the chance to taunt the girl and he grinned broadly.
"Slaving after more deserving wizards are you?" he jeered. At the counter Tobias briefly stopped tapping in the prices to stare at the boy with a frown. "I'm surprised a prize establishment such as this one would hire a blood-traitor like you…" The cash register slammed shut and Leshia dared to glance up to find Tobias was glaring at the youngster.
"Pay attention man, we're in a hurry," Mr Allseyer admonished.
"Sorry sir," Tobias said through gritted teeth and he started the laborious task of counting up the prices again; not only had they purchased Damian's school books, but Leshia had also collected a round of first year books (presumably for Damian's younger brother Deacon who would be starting school this year) and Gemima had piled more books onto the counter than all the others combined.
"We might have to start visiting a new book shop, this place has gone decidedly downhill in recent months," Damian Allseyer continued and Leshia chewed the insides of her cheeks, still holding the vile boy's gaze while she waited for his mother to finish rifling. Either Gemima Allseyer had the largest handbag in the world, or she was purposefully stalling so as her son could have a good tease.
"Well if you have any complaints, you should take it up with the management," Leshia said simply, hoping Allseyer would take her up on her offer; there wasn't a doubt in her mind that Tarquin Blott and Regus Flourish would defend her, they were very fond of the young girl.
"Tell me Malfoy, I thought your family were supposed to be rich?" Allseyer remarked cheerfully. "I guess your dad's been spending too much on the good old whiskey huh?" Leshia's jaw dropped a little while behind the counter Tobias let out a strange noise. The smug look on Damian's face however, soon disappeared when he realised he'd fallen into shadow. There was someone tall standing behind him. He didn't turn around in time however, as by now his mother had finally located her purse. She opened it slowly while Leshia exchanged an apologetic look with Tobias (who in turn seemed incredibly distracted).
The frumpy woman took out a Galleon and examined it and for a moment Leshia felt confused; surely she wasn't going to be rewarded so generously by this despicable family. With a shake of her head a sickle was next removed from the purse; this was a usual tip and most people often left a couple of sickles for the hard working youngster. It would seem though that a sickle was too much in the eyes of Gemima Allseyer and after careful consideration she took out a measly tarnished, blunted Knut and held out her podgy hand containing the copper to Leshia. Leshia stared at it incredulously.
"Uh…" she began, but she didn't have time to say anything as suddenly a hand she recognised well reached out from behind the family and pushed the woman's hand away firmly.
"Don't insult the girl," the firm voice of Leshia's father came and he pushed Damian Allseyer out of the way purely by stepping out from behind the family and taking his place behind Leshia.
"Why I've never been so insulted in my life!" Gemima Allseyer exclaimed in fury, her double chins wobbling as she shook her head in amazement. "Such ingratitude! She should be grateful for the privilege of serving my family, as should you Malfoy!" Draco head fell forward slightly in surprise as behind the desk Tobias snorted in mirth.
"I don't serve your family Gemima," Draco said drolly. "Your son happens to attend my lessons, and if he wishes to remain on my register, then I would suggest you treat my child with respect and apologise for insulting her." The podgy woman's eyes went so wide she looked like frightened horse with all the whites showing round her irises, before she made an exasperated sound and stormed out of the shop. Draco next fixed his glare on the furious looking younger Allseyer, who quickly copied his mother example and stormed from the shop. By now Alistair Allseyer had paid for the books and after heaving the bag off the counter he stormed after his fleeing family without so much as a look over his shoulder.
"Nice try dad," Leshia said with a smirk. Draco smiled down at her and slung his arm round her shoulder. "What are you doing here anyway?" Draco looked at his watch and after squeezing Leshia tightly to his side he started towards the door.
"Meeting," he told the girl. "Don't be late for dinner." With this he was gone and Leshia turned slowly to see what Tobias had made of the whole thing.
"That one's a piece of work," he exclaimed sounding impressed that Leshia managed to keep her cool. "I don't know how you do it."
"Do what?" the girl asked bashfully, her heart thumping rapidly in her chest at these words of praise from her summer crush.
"Manage to stop yourself from knocking his block off every time he opens his mouth." Leshia giggled and shrugged her shoulders.
"Years of practice, besides, watching that fat woman go wobbling out of the shop was reward enough for me," she sighed gleefully. Tobias laughed warmly, a sound that made Leshia's cheeks blush even more furiously, when suddenly the bell chimed once more and Leshia spun around to find (in complete disbelief) that yet another unwanted face from school had walked in the door: Julius Black. Accompanied by a very beautiful woman with jet black hair and the strangest green eyes Leshia had ever seen, she could only presume this was Julius' mother. Mary Black (ne Crabbe) had been a very young bride; she had fallen for Horatio Black (the last of the Black's once poor Sirius had passed away) when she was sixteen years old and he thirty. It was a forbidden relationship and it was this that had made her love him initially. By the time she was seventeen she was pregnant with Julius and she bade goodbye to her Hogwarts days in favour of motherhood. She had no regrets.
Ahead of the beautiful mother and her oldest son ran the twins Leona and Magnus. Leshia had met these enchanting children last Christmas and she had to admit that had she not known they were Blacks and related to that awful and unpredictable Julius Black, then she would have liked them.
"Leshia!" the two eleven-year-olds yelled and they surged forward towards the girl, who froze on the spot. How did they remember her? She'd only met them for less than five minutes.
"Uh…hi," she said as they reached her side.
"Guess what?" Leona squealed.
"We're going to Hogwarts!" Magnus exclaimed gleefully. "Finally!"
"Congratulations?" Leshia tried tentatively.
"Thank you!" the twins chorused happily, before they charged off with their lists to find their books. By now Julius had reached her with his own book list in his hand.
"Hello," Julius said with a darkly amused expression. "I just saw Allseyer, I see you two have caught up, how very gallant of you." Leshia rolled her eyes. She may have shown the patience of a saint with Allseyer, but this young man managed to drive her mad. She had to admit, he had improved over the summer. He had already been tall, but now he seemed taller still, with the stature of a boy bordering on manhood. His once black spiky hair had been cut and the shorter style suited his handsome face. Leshia looked up at him with a stubborn expression.
"That wretch deserves everything he gets," she said simply. "But for your information, it was my dad and not me that scared them off." Julius smiled, though his eyes remained the same.
"You know, I could do without the drama this year between the pair of you, do you think you could tone it down?" the young man enquired curiously. Leshia made an outraged little noise, but before she could defend her honour Mary Black, Julius' mother, had joined his side. The young woman smiled broadly at the girl.
"You must be Draco Malfoy's girl," she said in a tremendously deep and mysterious voice. Leshia frowned, how on earth had she known? Mary laughed and shook her head.
"I would love to say it's because of your uncanny resemblance to him, which I must say, is true, but in actual fact, Julius here has told me all about you," the young woman said kindly. Leshia frowned incredulously, before looking to the enigma that was Julius Black with a curious frown. He was trying his very best to hide his embarrassment.
"Oh," Leshia finally managed. What else could she say? "Can I help you find any books or anything?"
"Yes that would be darling," Mary said charmingly and she fished the letter from her tall son's hands and handed it to the girl. "If you would be so kind." Leshia smiled at the lovely woman and then rushed off with the list. Julius it would seem would be sharing her Ancient Runes class, but as far as the other courses went, he had picked Arithmancy and Care of Magical Creatures and would therefore not be joining her (unless Gryffindor and Slytherin were paired for any of the core subjects, which no doubt, they would be). After quickly collecting the books Leshia darted back to the counter and deposited them, being granted three shiny Sickles for her troubles.
What on earth had gone wrong with Julius Black? Everyone else in his family was completely and utterly charming. Perhaps the father was a tyrant Leshia pondered from her position behind Tobias, who was ringing up the price tags for the attractive Black family. Every now and then her gaze would flick to Julius, who, to her utmost irritation, was watching her coolly. She couldn't work him out, was he staring at her or being a jeering so and so?
"It was lovely meeting you Leshia," Mary told the girl with a big smile before she herded the hyper active twins out of the shop.
"See you at school Malfoy, try and stay out trouble." With this Julius was gone leaving Tobias laughing himself silly at the look of outrage on Leshia's face.
"Oh don't you start!' the girl grumbled.
By the time one-o clock arrived and Leshia was due to go on her lunch break an excitable Rachel and Katie walked in the door clutching their book lists.
"Leesh!" they exclaimed jubilantly and Leshia smiled when she saw them.
"Oh my God, this has been the most eventful day," the girl groaned and she rushed over them to help them find their books (she was going to collect hers before she left for the day). "Not only have I had a wonderfully pleasant visit from almost the entire Allseyer family, but Julius Black was in here earlier being a pillock as usual!"
"Well look at that," Rachel sighed cheerfully as she pulled down a Divination textbook (it went without saying that all three girls were doing the same subjects) from the shelf. "Your two favourite boys in one day, lucky you." Leshia giggled.
"My dad was here at the right time for once," she said cheerfully. "That awful Allseyer woman was trying to give me a Knut, which you know, is worse than nothing."
"Harpie," Rachel concluded with a grin.
"Rachel!" Katie admonished. "That's an awful thing to say."
"It's an awful thing to do!" Leshia complained with a grin, knowing Katie wasn't excusing Allseyer's actions. Katie grinned and nodded as though saying, 'continue'. "Well anyway, I didn't realise that dad was here, but just as Fatty Allseyer (Leshia ignored Katie's admonishing, "Leshia.") was handing over the measly Knut my dad's hand appears from nowhere and he shoves it right back at her telling her that she should apologise. It was wicked, you should have seen it! I swear ever inch of her was wobbling in outrage." Rachel laughed out loud and even Katie managed an unladylike snort of delight, before she adopted her responsible expression once more.
"What did Julius have to say?" she asked curiously. Leshia made an exasperated noise as she petulantly kicked at a display case causing it to tremble dangerously.
"The usual," she grumbled. "Being a smart-alecky know-it-all! Sometimes he comes across as the coolest boy alive and then other times he's just a Slytherin rat. It should be a good payday for Slytherin on Monday, both that God awful Deacon Allseyer and the Black twins will be joining their ranks."
"Maybe not," Katie said with a shrug as she examined an extra text for their Ancient Runes class. "Leona and Magnus are really sweet, they could end up in any of the houses. In fact, I would say they're least likely to end up in Slytherin."
"But they're Blacks!" Leshia complained. Rachel grinned.
"Yeah, but you're a Malfoy and you're in Gryffindor."
"I'm also a Granger you forget," Leshia corrected her friend. "Those two are pure Slytherin descent. Even though…well I have to say their mum is really really nice."
"Look at our family," Katie said simply. "Everyone thought the Weasleys would all end up in Gryffindor but look at last year Annie ended up in Ravenclaw, Jack went to Hufflepuff and poor Hermia ended up in Slytherin."
"Where she belongs the wretched little harpie," Rachel grumbled, referring to her younger by a year sister. Rachel was the oldest of too many little sisters and one baby brother, and even though she could put up with most of them Hermia was the bane of her existence.
"Stop saying that word," Katie complained while Leshia laughed.
"How many of the clan are coming to school this year?" she asked curiously.
"Too many," Rachel sighed.
"Only four," her raven-haired cousin corrected her. Leshia grinned.
"Oh only four," she repeated mockingly.
"Enough about school and relatives, let's pay for these so we can go and get an ice cream," Rachel said happily before she took off towards the cash register.
"No ice cream before lunch!" Katie called after her leaving Leshia rolling around in laughter; it was so good to be back with her friends, who were closer to her than anyone else in the world (save her parents of course).
The girls wiled half an hour of Leshia's lunch break by ambling through the shops until finally they reached the café shop where they had sandwiches. Following this they made their way to the ice cream parlour and sat outside watching the busy crowds go past.
"It's a Thursday, you know what that means?" Katie told her friends.
"Um…only three full days of freedom before school starts?" Rachel suggested. Katie grinned and shook her head.
"Well, true, but not what I'm thinking of."
"Oh," Leshia groaned. "I know. Its late night shopping isn't it?"
"Yep," Katie said triumphantly causing Rachel and Leshia to exchange a worried look. "I need to go shopping on the Muggle high street before we go back to school."
"Why? You've got about a hundred times the amount of clothes I do," Rachel complained.
"Yes well that's not saying very much considering I've seen you wearing this outfit the last ten times I've seen you," Katie chuckled. Rachel stuck her tongue out at her cousin.
"For your information, I happen to like this little combo," the redhead teased, imitating something Katie was well known for saying. Leshia sniggered with laughter, but then regained her senses.
"Actually, I kind of need to go too. I mean, we're going to be visiting Hogsmeade this year, we'll be needing more clothes I guess and besides, I've got all these summer earnings to spend."
"Oh," Rachel sighed sadly. "You're turning into a girl aren't you?" After laughing heartily Leshia suddenly remember what had happened the day before.
"So…what do you two think that cupboard did?" Katie and Rachel looked to one another before they met Leshia's gaze once more.
"We think it transported my dad to Hogwarts and back," Katie finally replied sounding a little afraid. Leshia thought for a moment before she nodded.
"Yeah, that's what I think it did too," she explained. Once more the three girls exchanged significant looks, as though wondering whether they ought to continue on this frame of mind or not.
"I've had an idea," Leshia explained quietly. "And I'm not sure if I should tell you…because it's just an idea and we don't even know if we can use these cupboards yet so…"
"Well are you going to tell us or do we have to guess?" Rachel chuckled.
"You know how it's going to be Halloween in a few months? And that the last two years we've thrown totally wicked parties and that no doubt people are expecting something even bigger than last year…"
"Bigger than last year?" Katie spluttered. "It's not possible!"
"Well, see that's what I thought, but what if we could hold a totally amazing party at a bigger venue…say with a lake, and some lawns, and…"
"No way!" Katie exclaimed suddenly. "Leshia no way! We can't hold a party at my house! My parents would go mad!"
"Well we'd have to think of a way to get them out of the way," Leshia began tentatively, but she trailed off when Katie glared at her. "Okay, well you think about it," Leshia said with an apologetic grin. After a fierce look Katie turned back to her ice cream missing the giant thumbs up and grin that Rachel gave Leshia. After a small smile Leshia returned to her own treat; the plan was as good as sold!
That evening Hermione had been easily convinced to go shopping and she managed to supervise Katie's spending, ensuring the young girl didn't buy too many outrageous outfits. Hermione was rather suspicious when the girls shopped for party outfits – knowing that the third years didn't have any formals this term, but she let it slide and just enjoyed the evening with the girls. Leshia spent almost all of her money and arrived home with more bags than she could carry up the stairs. Draco dutifully helped his daughter and then was sat down beside his wife on his bed while Leshia paraded all her new clothes around for them. That night Draco needed two glasses of whiskey just to settle the wretched feeling in his gut: his little girl was on the brink of womanhood and he couldn't stop her, he couldn't pull her back into childhood, he couldn't do anything and the feeling of being completely out of control was mortifying.
The weekend past in a flurry of packing and even so, on the morning of departure for the train station, Leshia was still stuffing things into her overstuffed trunk. Philly, Leshia's now two-year-old mischievous cat was quite lucky he hadn't been packed along with the socks. With ten minutes to spare the Malfoys arrived at the station and Draco helped Leshia on with her copious amounts of baggage, helping her get settled in a cabin, before he ruffled her hair.
"Be good," he warned the girl before he grinned dashingly at her and headed up the corridor towards the teachers' cabins where he had left Hermione struggling with their trunks. Leshia didn't have long to wait and she was soon joined by Rachel and Katie. For the duration of the journey to Hogwarts the girls were inundated with visitors coming to see how their summers were. Leshia, for the most part had already encountered most of their friends, but now she wasn't run off her feet it was nice to catch up properly. Finally, as they were nearing Hogwarts Rodeo and Parys dropped by.
"Knock knock," Rodeo's cheerful voice called out and he popped his head round the door to be greeted by two matching grins from Rachel and Leshia, yet a beaming adoring smile from Katie.
"Hi Rodeo!" she exclaimed breathily. Both Leshia and Rachel stared at their friend in complete surprise and amazement. Even Rodeo was surprised by the girl's behaviour and he chuckled uneasily.
"Oh hey Leesh, that T-shirt is really cool, I didn't know you were a Family Guy fan," Rodeo remarked jubilantly when he noticed Leshia's muddy green T-shirt with a big image of a character from this television show both Rodeo and Leshia were fans of.
"It's my favourite Muggle programme!" Leshia exclaimed happily. "I can't believe you know it! Everyone always stares at me blankly when I try to explain it."
"Really? No way, I love it! Me and my dad watch it all the time, my mum doesn't really like it, but she lets me watch it."
"Mine won't, if she catches me watching it she switches it onto something more 'educational'," Leshia giggled, but she was quickly silenced by Katie,
"Parys!" the girl cried out loudly as the tall boy walked in. "How wonderful to see you!" Without so much as a glance at Rodeo Katie jumped to her feet and threw her arms round a surprised Parys. "Wow, you look great," Katie was continuing into the boy's shoulder. Behind her Rodeo and Leshia were exchanging an awkward expression.
"Sorry," Leshia mouthed to the boy.
"Easy Katie, let the poor boy in," Rachel admonished her cousin, attempting jest, yet still coming out rather sternly.
"Um…I need the toilet," Katie mumbled suddenly and after letting poor Parys go she scarpered from the cabin down the corridor.
"That was weird," the dark haired boy said with a worried frown and he dropped down on the bench beside Leshia, twisting his body round so as his head leant back against her shoulder and his long legs rested on the wall of the cabin.
"My God Leshia was right, you sound completely different," Rachel remarked jubilantly. Leshia shot her a warning look.
"Rach!" she complained, but Parys was laughing, as too was Rodeo.
"I think I'm winning the bet man," Rodeo told his friend.
"What bet?" Leshia inquired. Rodeo turned his beautiful eyes onto the young girl and smiled adoringly at her, causing her heart to start beating a little faster.
"We've got this bet on, Parys doesn't think anyone going to notice his voice suddenly sounding like a different person…"
"I don't sound like a different person!" Parys interrupted amusedly. "But I do sound like a man." The way in which he dropped his voice and ruggedly pronounced man had all of them to burst out into raucous laughter. This was the scene Katie returned to, promptly causing the laughter to cease. She smiled falsely.
"What did I miss?" she asked worriedly.
"Oh not much," Parys replied with a shrug and he swung his legs back onto the ground, making his way to his feet. "Come on Rodes, we're getting close, we should go get changed." Rodeo looked anxiously from Leshia to Katie and then back again, before he smiled at them both and climbed to his feet following Parys out of the cabin.
"See you girls at the castle," he told them before he disappeared. After slamming the door shut Rachel spun on Katie.
"Stop being weird!" she complained. Katie seemed petulant.
"I'm not being weird," she snapped. "It's just its obvious now isn't it?" The tall girl spun on Leshia, who was looking up at Katie worriedly, why did she feel like she was about to receive the brunt of Katie's temper? "You win Leesh, you're the one he wants."
No matter how much Leshia complained that this wasn't the case, and even if it was, then she didn't care because she wasn't interested in Rodeo, Katie would not be pacified. She was still fuming as they walked into the Great Hall up at the castle and found their seats near the centre of the table. Rachel and Leshia sat opposite Katie who immediately immersed herself in a book.
"What's her problem?" Leshia mouthed to her best friend. Rachel rolled her eyes. Wasn't it obvious?
"She's jealous!" the redhead mouthed back.
"Of what?" Leshia demanded in surprise. Rachel rolled her eyes, but ignored the blonde girl; instead she focused her attention on studying everyone in the room to see how everyone had changed. She noticed that Julius Black was looking in their direction, but said nothing of it to Leshia; she didn't want both of her friends to be in a sulk on their first night back.
While they were sitting chatting amiably no one seemed to notice the main doors of the great hall swinging open to reveal McGonagall marching in with the twin lines of worried first years.
"Hey look!" Rachel suddenly exclaimed when McGonagall swooped past them. "They look tiny!"
"Nah, they're about Leesh's size look," Parys, who had taken a seat on Leshia's other side, chuckled, which earned him an elbow to the ribs. "For a small person you're surprisingly vicious!"
"Oh that's it!" Leshia laughed and she burst into a full attack on the boy. She only let him go when the Sorting Hat began it's annual changing song. As usual it was hilarious and poignant and by the end the whole school was cheering along happily. Now came the moment of truth; the sorting of the first years.
"Allseyer, Deacon," was the first to be called forward and everyone watched with mild interest as the spitting image of the Slytherin bully stepped forward and took his place on the seat. The hat had barely been lowered onto his head before it pronounced,
"Slytherin!" The furthest table from the Gryffindors burst into rapturous applause and Leshia glanced over to see Damian Allseyer grinning proudly as his little brother joined his side.
"Filthy pigs," she grumbled, eliciting laughter from her friends. The process was getting rather boring until Black, Leona took to the stool. Across the hall Julius Black looked up with interest resonating from every one of his handsome features. His adorable little sister was sat on the chair grinning fit to burst; so much so that many of the older girls in the school were 'awwwwing' to one another.
"What's the bet that she'll be in…" Leshia began.
"Gryffindor!" the hat proclaimed, cutting the blonde girl off mid-sentence.
"I was going to say Gryffindor, give me five Sickles," Rachel laughed to her friend over the noise of the applause going on around them. Leshia was completely shell-shocked and this process was about to be repeated when Black, Magnus was placed in their house next. After she had regained her senses Leshia looked up and across the hall to where Julius was watching his younger siblings. To Leshia's amazement, a small smile had pulled at his face and for the first time ever he allowed the genuine smile to warm his features, and for the first time ever Leshia felt something real.