Once all the first years had been sorted (the four Weasleys ending up in Gryffindor amongst most of their kin – Rachel hid her secret pleasure at having her little sister Emelia join their house with exasperation) Dumbledore climbed to his feet to welcome the school back for another year. Leshia's gaze was distracted by the attractive man sitting to the left of her mother. He must have been about thirty-five years old, with dark wavy hair and hazel eyes visible even from Leshia's vantage point. Smile lines creased his face and his entire aura screamed: lovely.
"Who's he?" Leshia whispered to Rachel.
"I think we're about to find out."
"Pupils, as you know we have spent the summer trying to fill the Muggle Studies position we were left manning with supply staff at the end of last year. Finally, when we thought our hopes were lost Isaac Lewis came to our rescue and has agreed to be your new Muggle Studies professor." The headmaster indicated the man sat beside Hermione, before he elicited applause from the students by clapping his hands loudly. The children were eager to start the feast, so Dumbledore sped through the rest of his speech. By the time he'd sat down the food materialised in front of the gleeful students. For the first years the wondrous dishes lying before their eyes were a sight to behold.
"He looks like fun," Rachel said cheerfully indicating the new Muggle Studies professor. "Thank God, I thought they were going to get a dragon to replace Ramble."
"What, literally?" Leshia chuckled. "I wouldn't want to get detention with them!"
"Ha ha, very funny," Rachel chuckled and she shoved her friend.
"No seriously, you're on to something. Even I would behave in a lesson taught by a dragon."
"Did I just there the words 'you' and 'behave' in one sentence?" Rodeo piped up from the opposite side of Parys; he had been beaten to the coveted spot beside Leshia.
"No, smart arse," Leshia countered happily. "You heard the words 'I' and 'behave'!" Rodeo grinned adoringly at the girl just as Katie let out a disgusting sounding coughing noise. Aware that the girl was about to go as green as her peas with envy, Leshia turned her back on the boys and chatted happily with Rachel instead. Towards the end of dinner Mila Evanovitch, the sixth year newly named captain of the winning side that was the Gryffindor quidditch team made her way down the table telling her existing team mates (the Weasley boys and Leshia) that they would be holding team tryouts so soon as Wednesday evening. Leshia was excited at the prospect and yet still her face fell a little once Mila had moved back to her place near the top of the table.
"What's wrong?" Rachel asked gently. Leshia grinned and shook her head.
"Nothing, I'm just being stupid," she sighed. Rachel knew was what was wrong; she hadn't been Leshia's best friend since the days before they could even hold their heads up for nothing.
"You miss Ryan don't you?" Ryan Lofting had been Mila's predecessor. He had been like a big brother to Leshia, always looking out for her, throwing her around in rough and tumble games and just generally being adorably annoying. He was the closest thing to a sibling she had ever known (save Rachel and Katie of course, but the big brother camaraderie she had enjoyed with Ryan was entirely different), but the previous year had been Ryan Lofting's last at Hogwarts and now Leshia missed him like mad, so she nodded pathetically to Rachel's question. The redhead gave her a sympathetic half-hug.
"We wrote each other quite a lot this summer," Leshia explained. "He managed to tease me and wind me up even on paper!" Rachel laughed and nodded; she could definitely believe that that was true. "Him and Julia moved in together and now he's working at the ministry while trying to get into professional quidditch. Julia is doing really well, she's on the Auror training programme." Julia Walling had been Ryan's girlfriend since the pervious Halloween when Leshia's party had somehow managed to bring them together. "I bet Mila misses Luka," Rachel said as she looked up the table to the pretty sixth year. Luka, one of Ryan's two best friends and a star chaser, had been Mila's boyfriend for many a year. Drawn together over their common ancestry (both families having come from Eastern Europe) the pair had been a lovely couple. "I heard he plays for the Montrose Magpies."
"Yeah, he was snapped up, he always was pretty amazing," Leshia sighed, feeling slightly jealous.
"Oh get you, I bet as soon as you turn sixteen they'll want to snap you up for the national side," Rachel complained. Leshia stared at her in amazement, before she looked down at Rachel's pumpkin juice cup.
"Okay, who spiked Rach's drink?" she asked the table at large, to be met with a chorus of laughter.
"That girl doesn't need anything untoward to flip out a little bit," Parys said fondly.
"Ah! Such cheek!" Rachel cried out jovially, and she leaned past Leshia and started to tickle Parys. Unbelievably ticklish, the girls knew of Parys' weakness and often picked on him because of it. He was very entertaining to watch while he writhed and wriggled trying to contain his laughter.
"Stop, ceasefire!" he tried through his laughter. Everyone at the table had turned to watch in laughter and even those at the neighbouring table: Ravenclaw, were starting to stare with big smiles on their faces. Those girls in third year and below – and even some of those in the years above – swooned and envied Rachel greatly for being able to touch the young man. Parys and Rodeo you see, were rather the heartthrobs of third year.
"Okay fine," Parys managed and he wrapped his arms around Leshia who let out a little squeak of surprise, before she was pulled into a gentle headlock.
"You leave me alone and she goes free," Parys mocked with a big grin. Rachel considered the situation.
"Rach," Leshia laughed and she started wriggling her elbows into Parys' side, which did manage to cause him some amount of tickling agony. "I want to live!" Leshia joked and once more people laughed, only this time at the girl's theatrics.
"Hmmm," Rachel pondered. "I'm sorry, I don't negotiate with kidnappers."
"Oh come on…" Leshia began, before she became the subject of Rachel's extremely able tickling fingers. They could have carried on their game all night, but Leshia looked up at the right time to see that her father was practically on his feet, desperately wanting to intervene.
"Guys, cut it out," she told her friends seriously. "My dad's going to come down here and sort you out if you're not careful Parys." This sorted the young man out and he let Leshia go, quickly returning to his dinner; not daring to look up at the main table. Leshia however, did, and she met her father's eye and gave him a cocky smile. After rolling his eyes, Draco grinned back and returned to his own dinner, just about catching Hermione pointing in her direction. Her mother was talking to this Isaac Lewis and was presumably pointing out that that little troublemaker that had just been causing all the chaos was her daughter. This much was true, but what Leshia didn't know was with how much pride Hermione showed off that the loudest most troublesome girl in the school was her own.
After dinner the girls were far too stuffed to unpack and they changed into their pyjamas; for the first time ever Leshia didn't mind changing out in the dormitory rather than within the confines of her bed curtains. For the first time ever, she wasn't ashamed of her tiny body as finally, she was starting to look like the girl she was. After changing into the baggy pyjama trousers and a vest Leshia scampered across the chilly bedroom floor towards Rachel's bed, where she dropped down with Philly her cat in her arms.
"Katie?" Leshia tried tentatively and she looked over to the raven-haired girl who was lying on top of her sheets staring at the ceiling. "Katie don't be like this, please?" Slowly Katie turned her head and Leshia could have sworn she saw tears in the raven-haired girl's eyes.
"Be like what Leshia?" she asked pointedly. "Maybe I should be more like you, then maybe Rodeo would like me." Leshia held her tongue. "I used to think that you fancied Rodeo and I used to feel really bad about fancying him too, but now I realise that you're just like that with all the boys. Even Julius! You like all of them, you're just a tease!"
"Katie!" Rachel gasped, but Katie wasn't done just yet.
"She is," the girl exclaimed angrily. "And it's not fair, because they all fall for it, so when one of us comes along that only likes one – like Rodeo – then we can't get a look in because they're all madly in love with you!"
"Katie you're out of line," Leshia said calmly, though her expression was slightly frightening.
"Am I? Tell me Alecia, if you had to choose one of them, which one would you choose? Because seriously, enlighten me! Is it Rodeo, Parys, Julius…I don't know, even Luke and Tom? You seem to fancy every bloody boy in the school!" Leshia narrowed her eyes and turned her back on Katie feeling furious. "No please tell me, tell me so I can stay the hell away from him and go after the one I want."
"Um…guys…" Rachel began worriedly and she exchanged a concerned glance with the two girls they shared their dormitory with: Nicola White and Ashley Reed. The pair of slightly ditzy girls were looking at the redhead worriedly as though expecting her to sort it out.
"Katie they're not a bloody pair of shoes, or a damn top!" Leshia exploded. "It's not an automatic right, you can't just pick one and automatically he'll be your boyfriend. Get real!"
"I don't think that way!" Katie complained angrily.
"Well you're certainly acting like it. For your information, I don't like any of them, so you can throw yourself at all of them like you did today with Parys for all I care, but mark my words they won't like you back if you start acting so crazy desperate."
"Leesh!" Rachel implored.
"Desperate!" Katie squealed.
"Yes, desperate! It's really easy to blame the fact that Rodeo doesn't like you anymore on me isn't it? Well have you ever stopped to think that Rodeo might just not like you anymore full stop?" Tears were streaming down Katie's face, and after an extremely exasperated noise she rolled over in bed pulling her curtains tightly shut. Rachel was staring grimly at Leshia.
"Oh don't you start," Leshia groaned and she climbed back off Rachel's bed and made her way over to her own four-poster where she shut her curtains and climbed under the covers, pulling her cat close to her chest.
"I'm sorry," she mouthed in the dark as the tears spilled over onto her pillow.
The following morning Leshia woke to the sound of the others getting ready, so after stretching lazily and displacing a sleepy Philly, she rolled out of bed to find Katie emerging at the same time. Biting the bullet Leshia was all ready to be the first to apologise, but there was no need.
"I'm so sorry," Katie whispered and her eyes filled with tears. Leshia grinned and rushed across the gap between their beds, before she threw her arms around her friend's shoulders.
"No I'm so sorry! I didn't mean any of those things I said!" The two girls laughed as they hugged and then laughed even more when Rachel suddenly clung onto their side, not wanting to miss out on the embrace.
"What am I going to do with the pair of you eh?" the redhead laughed.
"Eradicating PMS would be a good start," Katie sighed as the three girls pulled apart. Leshia was staring at the tall girl with a wrinkled nose in confusion.
"PMS?" she asked with a frown. Katie and Rachel turned to stare at the girl in wonder.
"You don't know what PMS is?" Rachel asked in amazement. "Don't you get it? God I wish I had your body." Leshia thought fast for a moment, before she shrugged her shoulders.
"Well maybe I get it, what is it? I might know it by a different name." Rachel and Katie exchanged glances; they had always wondered. Both of them had received the unfortunate event of the earliest sign of womanhood before they went to school, but both were convinced Leshia had not yet joined their ranks. They knew the girl was defensive about her body, so they had never wanted to bring it up.
"It doesn't matter," Rachel said quickly and she tried to busy herself with pulling a cord on Katie's bed curtain.
"Guys, seriously," Leshia said firmly. "What is it?" she repeated slowly.
"Well it's when you get all stressy before…you know," Katie said gently.
"Well you know, the monthly girly thing…" Rachel tried. The realisation dawning on Leshia's face was like a light-bulb going on, and even though she donned an expression of knowing, the girls had noticed the panicked expression that had materialised on her face for the most fleeting of moments.
"Oooohhhhh, that," Leshia exclaimed obviously and she turned away from her friends. No more was said on the matter and as they walked down to breakfast each and every one of the girls felt incredibly awkward: Katie and Rachel for not being more tactful and for not being honest with Leshia from the start, and Leshia for not realising that of course she was the only one still lagging behind in the development stakes. No longer proud of her awful tiny body she wanted to hide it away in a big burlap sack. How could she have been so stupid to presume that she was normal and that her friends hadn't hit that milestone yet either. Yes it had been worrying her, but the knowledge that her friends weren't there yet either had always comforted her. Now…
"Good morning girls," Hermione's cheerful voice came and the three girls spun around to find Leshia's parents were right behind them, having appeared from a side corridor leading up from their chambers. Seeing this opportunity to still her mind Leshia darted from her friends' side to her mother.
"Mum, I need to talk to you," the girl exclaimed.
"Well okay," Hermione laughed. Leshia waved her friends on.
"I'll see you two down there!" Katie and Rachel smiled at their friend before they hurried off, hoping that when Leshia and Hermione were done talking they would have their old self-assured friend back. "Dad," Leshia began awkwardly when Draco showed no sign of going away.
"What?" her father asked with a frown, none the wiser.
"Girl talk darling, is what our daughter is trying to tell you," Hermione said sweetly with a big smile.
"I'm gone," Draco quickly replied and he started off down the corridor, but after merely three paces he was back, bending down so his eye level was at his daughters. "Next time some boy is being publicly indecent with my daughter I'm going to chop his hands off, is that clear? You might want to inform your little friends." Hermione rolled her eyes fondly, remember Draco's mood the night before, which he hadn't been able to snap out of all night. Leshia frowned in a put out way, but she nodded quickly all the same.
"Got it," she said affirmatively. Draco tilted his head back and regarded her with a calculating look, before he too nodded once in affirmation.
"Good." With this he straightened up and walked off. Hermione watched him go with fond eyes and Leshia had to nudge her arm to catch her attention.
"Sorry darling, your father can be quite a pain sometimes. I think that Parys boy is absolutely charming," Hermione said. Leshia wrinkled up her face.
"That's not what I wanted to talk about!" Leshia complained.
"I know," Hermione teased. "What's the matter sweetheart?" Leshia glowed bright red and dropped her head a little. Having no mother for most of her life had made her rather coy about feminine issues – rather like Draco in this respect.
"It's Rachel and Katie, they were talking about PMS this morning," the girl said awkwardly. Hermione instantly guessed the problem.
"Ooohhhh," she said and shook her head. "Say no more, I understand."
"Well what's wrong with me mum? I thought we were all in the same boat, but we're not. I'm just some underdeveloped misfit and as usual, everyone else in the world is way ahead of me." Hermione grinned at her daughter and shook her head.
"No, you most certainly aren't. I was fifteen sweetheart, fifteen years old. I know exactly how you feel." Leshia, as much as she didn't want to admit it, felt better by her mother's confession and she looked up with a smirk.
"So it's all your fault?" Hermione grinned too and nodded.
"I'm afraid so. Don't you worry about a thing, it's perfectly normal." With her mothers words still ringing in her ears Leshia made her way back to her friends at the main table and she dropped down beside them.
"Everything okay now?" Katie asked hopefully and Leshia grinned and nodded.
"Yeah, everything's okay."
"No it's not," Rachel groaned. "We've got Charms first! God I hate Charms!"
"I thought you loved Charms?" Katie countered with a frown.
"Yeah, Flitwick doesn't even care if we've got our shirts untucked or anything," Leshia said sounding confused. "I mean what's not to like?"
"It was my exam wasn't it," Rachel grumbled. "My worst result. Damn Flitwick marked me down."
"Yeah, because you exploded a pillow," Leshia sniggered.
"Hey sod off!" Rachel laughed and she flicked a piece of cereal at the blonde girl.
"Have we got anything new today?" Leshia asked as she studied the timetable at her side.
"Yeah, divination right before lunch," Rachel replied.
"Wicked, I'm really curious about that one," Leshia confessed. "Even though my mum says it's a load of nonsense. I bet it's not though, I mean the teacher, well she's been here for absolutely yonks hasn't she?" The other two nodded.
"Yeah I can't wait," Katie admitted.
"Me either, but I think I'm going to prefer the lessons with Firenze more than the ones with Professor Trelawney."
"He's the one that we see sometimes on the grounds isn't he? The centaur?" Katie asked excitedly.
"Yeah, his classroom is like the forest, it's got trees in it and everything. I once popped in there last year on the way to the ground floor toilets," Leshia explained. "It's totally wicked, though I bet you're going to be really scared of creepy crawlies Katie."
It turned out that Katie was very frightened of the creepy crawlies, but she wasn't the only one as all the girls except Leshia and Rachel squirmed a little once they had taken their seats on the moss awaiting their teacher. It turned out that the little F in the corner of their timetable boxes informing them that they had Divination at this time had in fact stood for Firenze. Professor Trelawney's lesson would be held on Thursday before break up in her lofty tower.
"I'm so excited, this is the most exciting lesson ever," Rachel whispered to her friends, who nodded thoroughly in return. Perhaps the excitement of this lesson was heightened by the fact that they had just come from Transfiguration (in which they revised last year's material until the children were practically passing out from boredom) and before that they had enjoyed the joys of History of Magic. The only saving grace of the morning thus far had been that the Gryffindors had shared their Charms and Transfiguration classes with the Ravenclaws and their History of Magic class with the Hufflepuffs, so as of yet, they had managed to avoid the dreadful Slytherins. This was about to change.
Allseyer followed by his posse of dreadful friends burst into the wooded classroom with the air of someone who was sure they were the most important person in the room. The very sight of him made Leshia's skin crawl and she looked the other way furiously.
"Well, well, well," Allseyer's drawl came and Leshia looked up to see the dreadful Slytherins had sat down near them on the moss. Damian Allseyer leaned back against a tree with a big cocky grin as he glared at Leshia. "Hello blood-traitor."
"You know, we don't have to exchange insults every time we meet," Leshia complained. "We could juts ignore each other and get on with our lives."
"Yeah you'd like that wouldn't you?" Allseyer jeered cruelly. "But I'm never going to leave you alone Malfoy. You're going to get it for…"
"My dad making you run away with your tail between your legs?" Leshia interrupted icily and her comrades laughed at the pink-faced Slytherin bully.
"Just you wait Malfoy, things are going to be different this year, you're not going to be smiling by the end of it." Leshia frowned at the boy, he evidently knew something she didn't and this bothered her.
"Whatever, as far as I can see, the last two years I'm apparently supposed to have got it coming to me, but so far, I'm in the clear," she said simply.
"You've been fortunate," Allseyer countered with a sly smile. "You won't be so lucky a third time." Leshia rolled her eyes, before she suddenly broke into a loud hissing sound. Rachel quickly followed her friend's lead and copied her example, hissing furiously at the boy while the Gryffindor's laughed at the panicked expression on Allseyer's face.
"Don't worry Damian, they're just little snakes, they can't hurt you," Katie said cheerfully.
"Oh sod off!" Allseyer snapped and he turned away from the Gryffindors defeated and furious. After a year of bullying Leshia when they were in second year, the girl had finally got her own back on him by locking him in the Chamber of Secrets surrounded by snakes. They were absolutely harmless and no harm had come to the boy, but he was still shaken up by the whole experience. Now there was the added problem of Leshia being able to taunt him with it whenever she so desired.
"Good morning children," a deep voice came from the gloom of the classroom forest beyond the point at which the children were sat. Everyone jumped and spun around to find a pair of strange blue eyes gleaming through the undergrowth. There was a mad scramble to climb to their feet and as they did so a tall hulking figure stepped out of the trees: Firenze. He was fascinating to look at, with the beautiful palomino body of a strong horse, and the strong upper body of a man he was a powerful being to behold; yet his white-blonde hair and blue eyes told of a sensitivity his otherwise statuesque figure seemed to conceal. The handsome face was smiling as Firenze looked over each and every child for a few moments.
"Please, remain seated," he told them and as one the class dropped back onto the spongy moss, still staring up at the centaur in reverence. "Welcome to this, your first class in Divination. As you already know, I will be sharing you with Professor Trelawney. You will soon come to find that she and I practice very different forms of Divination, but that it is our intention to impart upon you a fair knowledge of both." The children nodded with wide eyes and Firenze couldn't help but smile at their youth. "Very well, before we begin children, I would like to ask you to tell me your name and then I would like you to inform me of just the slightest little insight you yourself have had into your own future. Anything at all you may tell me, but you must be certain that this is going to occur."
The children turned to one another with excited expressions as Firenze walked around the whole class and then found himself a position from which he could see the whole class. He looked then to the girl sat at his side: Laura Figreed in Hufflepuff. She giggled nervously to her friends, before she looked back up at the centaur.
"I'm Laura, and…" she paused nervously while letting out another anxious giggle. "I know that I'm going to have three children some day."
"It is a pleasure to meet you Laura," Firenze told the girl, before he looked to her neighbour and friend, Francesca Littlewood, who claimed she knew she was going to become a reporter for Witch Weekly magazine. And so Firenze went round the whole class, with each and every child spouting some sort of desire they wished for and claimed this was going to be their future. By the time it was Damian Allseyer's turn Leshia was a little bored of hearing her classmates idly dream about the future.
"My name is Damian Allseyer," the pointy-featured boy said drolly, and very slowly he looked over to Leshia. Desperately he wanted to spit out, 'And know that I am going to make you suffer,' but he managed to stop himself in time, instead opting for, "And I am going to be the most successful and wealthy wizard in the world." Leshia rolled her eyes and waited while Tamara Beckwaith, one of the Slytherin harpies (as Rachel would say) spouted that she was going to win the Miss Hogwarts beauty competition she and her friends were running on Valentine's day.
Next it was Leshia's turn, who had to be hailed from her horrified vision of this so-called Miss Hogwarts competition she had as of yet not heard about. After spinning around to face Firenze, still with eyes wide in horror, she was surprised to find him smiling at her.
"Your name please?"
"Oh, um, Leshia Malfoy," the girl managed. "And um…well…I'm probably going to get detention before week's out." Most of her classmates chuckled while Firenze smiled even more broadly at the girl. Rachel pledged that she was going to fail her Charms Owl and Katie was certain she was going to be made prefect in two years time. After three more pupils the class had all revealed their names and their secret hidden desires masked as prophecies.
"I believe that many of you found it very difficult to tell me something you feel is a certainty in your future," Firenze said slowly and he looked over all the classmates. "It is very difficult to disentangle our desires from true divination, as our wants and desires always seem to interfere with our objectivity. All but one of you informed me not of certainties in your futures, but instead informed me of dreams you wish to attain. It was a very unfair question of me to ask, as you have not been trained in these arts in any shape or form. However," the centaur paused and looked straight at Leshia. "Certain individuals possess a certain insight into the path their destiny is to take them on. Such people need not crystal balls, or the constellations to tell them of their path, they feel it deep within. Leshia Malfoy, I believe you might possess such gifts." The girl blushed bright red as everyone turned and stared at her. "Of course, we must always base our predictions of future events in part on our past behaviour and it might be with the aid of experience that you made your prediction." Leshia grinned wryly and shrugged; of course this was how she had done it. She was in detention almost every week, that didn't make her a seer all of a sudden did it? "You must not sell yourself short." After one last smile Firenze looked back up to the class.
"While trying to read the future we must remember not to stray too far into the distance, as this is where the facts become twisted and hazy. I impart upon you now a word of warning, it does not do well for the soul to take these matters I am to teach you too much to heart. It is very dangerous to wile away the present dreaming of fictitious futures we may never observe. You must not lose track of the present."
"That was the best lesson ever, he's so wise!" Rachel gushed as the girls filed down the corridor towards the Great Hall to have a quick lunch. Katie and Leshia exchanged grins; they hadn't enjoyed the class as much as Rachel had. Katie had found the subject too vague (case in point, they hadn't actually learnt anything in the hour-long lesson) and Leshia had hated the way Firenze had singled her out for too many examples. Both were hoping that Professor Trelawney's lessons would be more informative and less individualistic respectively.
"Just triple Defence Against the Dark Arts and then we're free," Leshia sighed heavily as she dropped down at the table.
"That should be fun," Rachel said grimly, matching her friend's tone with a big grin.
"Shut up!" Leshia complained fondly and she picked up a small bread roll, all set on throwing it at the redhead. "Better than burning incense and pretending to repeat some strange mantra."
"Is your dad still in a scary mood like he was at mine? Because in that case I think I've just felt a stomach ache coming on," Katie asked. Leshia grinned and shrugged her shoulders.
"I don't think so, he's being a bit weird over the boys, but…" The girl trailed off as at this moment Parys and Rodeo waltzed in full of boyish bravado. Seeing their friends they headed over to them and to Katie's delight Rodeo sat down beside her. Leshia felt a little pang of annoyance, but forced it away; what on earth was wrong with her? Maybe Katie was right; maybe she did like all of them. What a nuisance! Cursing her teenage hormones (the ones responsible for all these problems Leshia believed) she started to eat.
"I think being a teacher's daughter makes all other teachers fall in love with you," Parys said cheerfully while he constructed a sandwich out of a huge French bread roll and a veritable mountain of fillings – well, he was a growing boy after all. Leshia stuck her tongue out at him.
"Snape loves me now does he? Wow, he's been hiding that one really well," she remarked cheerfully.
"He's just playing hard to get," Rodeo added with a grin.
"Yuck! Don't be so disgusting!" Rachel grumbled. "I'm trying to eat here."
"Oh is that what you're doing?" Parys teased, and indeed Rachel had spilled half of her sandwich down her front and into her lap. "I was wondering." The youngsters burst into laughter while Rachel glowed bright red and tried her very best to clear herself up.
"Oh leave her alone," Leshia complained, bordering on anger.
"We're just joking," Parys apologised, seemingly losing his bravado the instant Leshia turned serious.
"So, first trip to Hogsmeade in two weeks time," Rodeo said happily.
"Really? Where did you hear that?" Katie exclaimed happily. Rodeo grinned proudly at the girl, happy to bring her news that made her so happy.
"Overheard some fifth years talking about it. They were also talking about that Professor Lewis guy, they really liked him. I mean fair enough, they were girls and they probably just fancy him, but he sounds like a pretty cool guy."
"When've we got Muggle Studies first?" Rachel asked eagerly.
"Tomorrow before break," Leshia replied excitedly. "I can't wait." The boys regarded the blonde girl worriedly; it sounded as though she already had a crush on this new teacher and they hadn't even had a single lesson with him yet.
For the remainder of lunch the boys continued their eternal mission of fondly teasing their female friends, and then managed to entice them outside for a game of muggle football with many of the other boys in the year. They all had a great time, but had strayed so far from the school that they didn't hear the first bell going signifying the end of break. They only became aware that they were in fact the only ones left out in the grounds when the second bell was ringing, signifying that they should be sitting in their classes now starting their lesson. As one the hoard of would-be football players swarmed inside, those about to enter the lion's den desperately trying to tuck their shirts in and appear presentable.
Their classmates were nowhere to be seen in the corridor, which meant that they had already filed inside. Leshia was thrust forward by her friends, involuntarily being picked to walk in first. The theory here being that Professor Malfoy would be less likely to eviscerate his own daughter for tardiness; they ought to have known better.
"Detention, all of you," Draco's stern tone came the moment Leshia gently pushed the door open and peaked her head round. The girl's shoulders drooped and she managed to make a slight apologetic look at her father before she rushed to find her usual seat. It was only after she had sat down and pulled out her new textbook - Atrum Bestia, (which Leshia could understand meant 'Dark Creatures', her grasp of the Latin language was improving year by year – it couldn't not, as they had to use it in so many different spells, potions instructions and in other various forms it just wasn't funny) by Genevieve Blackfoot – that she noticed with a sinking feeling in her stomach that she could no longer outrun the Slytherins as for the third year running they were sharing their class with the unpleasant bunch. Allseyer was smirking at her smugly, happy that the girl was in trouble.
"My office Wednesday afternoon," Draco told the five latecomers bemusedly as they took their seats. Leshia frowned and thought hard; something was happening on Wednesday, what was it? "Right, as I was saying…" Draco continued, but he suddenly paused when Leshia's hand shot into the air urgently with a desperate expression to match on her face. "Yes, what is it now?"
"Sir I can't make Wednesday, we've got quidditch tryouts and the captain asked me to be there so I can help," Leshia explained quickly. Draco stared at her calculatingly and he chewed the insides of his mouth.
"Fine," he grumbled eventually. "Make it Thursday after lessons, and let's hope the five of you will be able to make it to that on time or you will be spending the weekend sorting through that!" Leshia and her friends followed her father's hand towards the massive pile of shredded and messed up pages and books. They gasped in unison.
"Woah," Leshia even exclaimed; so that's why her father was in a foul mood. The girl looked to her father with a serious imploring look: what had happened? He merely shook his head ever so slightly, before he turned to the rest of the class.
"As I was saying, this term we are going to be focusing on Dark Creatures," he told the class. "In first year we covered the very basics when we tackled the ones everybody knows about: Vampires, werewolves, I'm sure you remember. This term we are going to tackle ten creatures I am sure you would rather wish to avoid and these are: boggarts, grindylows, kappas, red caps, hinkypunks, banshees, pogrebin, acromantula, basilisks and we will finish with trolls." The children turned to one another with big smiles; it all sounded very interesting. "With the milder species we will have the chance to examine a few specimens, but this will depend on how well you behave and respond in the theory based lessons." At this point he looked fiercely at Allseyer and almost equally so at his own daughter, as though daring them to start something. "Right then, we start today's lesson with red caps, open your text books to page two hundred and three."
The class were exceptionally well behaved throughout the lesson, so much so that by the time the final bell rang signifying the end of the day Draco had calmed down slightly. He had been horrified that morning when he walked into his classroom ahead of his first class of the day – the frightened first years he had just terrified into tucking in their shirts. Managing to keep his cool in front of the children was very difficult indeed and he had ensured that their first lesson with him was one to remember (but not for any good reasons). They all vowed as they rushed from the classroom, that they would drop Defence Against the Dark Arts as soon as was humanly possible if Draco Malfoy was to remain their teacher. Over the course of the day he had slowly been calming down into a coldly calculating frame of mind; who had done this?
As soon as the bell went Draco let the class swarm out of the room and he wasn't surprised when one of them remained behind.
"Dad what happened?" Leshia demanded sounding angry – she too could see someone had purposefully caused the damage to hurt and anger her father.
"I don't know, I found it like this this morning," he explained as he wiped the day's chalk writing off the blackboard. "It wasn't like that last night." Leshia gave him a wounded expression laced with anger. "Yes I know, you don't have to tell me," Draco chuckled when he saw her.
"I'm sorry we were late, we were playing that muggle game Rodeo likes so much and lost track of the time," Leshia apologised. Draco's jaw muscle twitched at the sound of the boy's name, but he forced himself to nod anyway.
"Stay closer to the castle next time," he told her brusquely. "Everything sorted out with your mother?" Leshia frowned.
"What? Oh yeah!" she quickly said and blushed a little at the thought of discussing it with her father. "Oh my God dad!" the girl suddenly exclaimed. Draco couldn't help but grin at her dramatics. "The Slytherins are going to be running a Miss Hogwarts competition over Valentine's Day! Can you believe it?" To her utmost surprise Draco started to laugh heartily.
"A beauty competition? Here? Oh dear," he managed through his laughter.
"Dad! It's not funny, I bet you anything that I'm going to get dragged into it," the girl grumbled. Draco grinned at his daughter and slung his arm around her shoulder.
"I didn't realise you were so vein," he teased, earning a glare from his daughter.
"It's not vanity, it's bloody sods law!" she grumbled and started storming towards the door where turned around and grinned happily at her father. He smiled back at her with a heart-felt grin, and with this the girl was gone, running to catch up with her friends, who were bickering over the merits (or lack thereof) of their previous divination lesson on their way to their dormitory.
The following morning the girls could barely concentrate in their transfiguration class prior to their first muggle studies lesson with Professor Lewis. Unfortunately, this led to them performing very poorly (even Leshia and Katie, who prided themselves on excellent transfiguration skills) and loosing five housepoints between them for lack of effort. They couldn't care less!
The Gryffindor girls practically ran down the corridors towards their next classroom, each of them terrifically excited about seeing their new teacher up close. Evidently Leshia had not been the only one to notice the allure of Isaac Lewis and all the girls in the school were swooning over him; Draco Malfoy had finally been replaced as the hottest teacher in the school in the eyes of the student body. It wasn't so much that Isaac was dashingly good looking like the former; it was just his very karma that attracted the females. Taken at face value Draco would definitely come out the victor in the attractiveness stakes, but when met face-to-face, Isaac Lewis would be chosen every time.
"Oh look it's the centaur's pet," Allseyer's vile droll came as Leshia and her friends skidded to a halt in the corridor outside their classroom, but the girl's mood was too good to be broken by Damian Allseyer's pathetic taunting.
"Oh sod off Allseyer," Leshia laughed eliciting a round of excitable laughter from her friends. The girls remained unstoppably giggly until the relaxed ambling footsteps of Isaac Lewis brought the class to complete silence. With a big smile on his face Isaac greeted his class and led them inside the classroom. Not surprisingly, the girls fought for the benches at the front of the classroom while the boys ambled to the back of the class with disgruntled expressions on their faces. Once the last straggler – an incredibly putout looking Rodeo – had made his way into the classroom and pulled out his book Professor Lewis made his way to the blackboard.
"Welcome back third years," he told them gallantly and flashed his fabulous smile at the children. "I'll begin by introducing myself, my name is Isaac Lewis and years ago I came to Hogwarts…"
"How many years sir?" Ashley, who was sat directly beside Leshia on the cramped first row bench, asked with a dreamy expression.
"Too many dear girl," Professor Lewis chuckled and all the girls smiled at him adoringly, while at the back Rodeo mimed something rude to his friends, who all started to laugh.
"Something wrong lads?" Professor Lewis asked genially, though his dark eyes seemed to shoot them a look of warning.
"No sir," Rodeo replied with as much attitude as he dared so early on in the term. On queue, Leshia and Katie spun around and stared firmly at the boy; what was his problem? He promptly ignored them, and continued to watch the teacher with a look that screamed arrogance.
"Very well," Professor Lewis continued uneasily. "As I was saying. Many years ago I was sitting where you are now thinking I knew everything there was to know about being a muggle as I had been one for eleven years." Across the classroom Damian Allseyer scowled. "I took this class because I thought I would get the best marks for doing the least amount of work, but boy was I wrong. Muggles are curious things; most are blissfully unaware of how anything in their world works. They take it very much for granted for example that with the flick of a switch a light goes on, or that they can watch something on their televisions at the same time that it is occurring on the other side of the world. We are here to learn about all these things, now don't be alarmed, it will be fun!" The class didn't seem convinced; after all most of them had taken this subject as a doss-around course. "As a treat, early on in the second term we are to take a field trip for the day into a big Muggle city."
As one, everyone in the class suddenly seemed to come alive. A field trip?
"Which city sir?" Helen Carter from Hufflepuff piped up.
"Well that is yet to be decided, but it will probably be the great city of Manchester."
"Wicked," a few children in the class (the ones who evidently knew the city or lived in the area) cheered.
"You'd have to work hard to show me that a trip into the muggle world would be worthwhile," Professor Lewis continued with a big smile. "But I promise you, it will be worth it."
After a surprisingly interesting lesson about muggle Space Travel (this term's topic was Muggle Innovations) the children rushed off to join the steady throng of people moving outside into the grounds for break. The summer was still going strong and the pull of the sun was just too great to withstand. Leshia, Rachel and Katie dropped down under a tree near the lake with equally as dreamy expressions on their faces.
"He was great wasn't he?" Katie sighed.
"What was wrong with Rodeo?" Rachel suddenly asked, the dreamy expression leaving her face as she flopped back onto the grass, her arms splayed out above her head, as she basked in the glorious sunshine.
"I think he doesn't like it that all the girls think Professor Lewis is lovely," Katie explained.
"But that's just stupid," Leshia complained as she investigated a scab on her knee. "I mean Professor Lewis is old, he even said so himself. It's not like everybody's going to start asking him out to tea in Hogsmeade now is it?"
"He's not that old Leesh, I'll bet he was at school the same time as our parents," Katie countered eliciting a big grin from Leshia.
"Last time I checked, our parents were old."
"Well yes, I suppose in comparison to us, but not really. I mean they're only thirty-three. My mum's always told me that most people only really start to have children in their thirties." Leshia feigned a large yawn, which caused Rachel to crack up on the grass. After avoiding Katie's meagre attempt at clapping her about the back of her head, Leshia's expression suddenly turned a little more serious.
"So when are we going to investigate the Order of the Phoenix?"
"Tonight?" Rachel suggested. Both Leshia and Katie stared at the redhead in surprise. Was Rachel really voluntarily suggesting they spend their second proper evening back at Hogwarts in the library? "Well think about it, we've got potions after break and I bet old Snape is going to give us a ton of homework, so we may as well kill two birds with one stone."
"Oh," Katie exclaimed and she brought her clasped hands up to her chest. "Our little Rachel is growing up."
"Shut up!" the redhead complained gleefully, before she dove at her cousin and started rubbing grass in her face to the joyous sounds of Leshia laughing herself silly. Break seamed too pass extraordinarily quickly and so the girls trudged inside with the rest of the school in order to head down to the dungeons. As they rounded the corner they met their classmates waiting outside Snape's dungeon.
"Unbelievable," Leshia muttered under her breath when she caught sight of who they were. "This is the third year running we've got potions with them, don't they ever rotate the order in this place?"
"Maybe Snape likes to keep I this way, you know, so he can be completely vile to us and then completely wonderful to the Slytherins. Sort of like ultimate punishment you know?" Rachel suggested.
"Yeah well it's not funny either way," Leshia grumbled and they joined the back of the line, trying to keep their backs turned to the despicable bullies that made up the third year Slytherins. For once Allseyer and his cronies managed to leave them alone while they waited impatiently for their teacher to arrive.
"Maybe he's not coming?" Rachel suggested cheerfully. No such luck. Professor Severus Snape was in a foul mood as he stormed down the corridor towards his third year class. On his way back from break, the greying teacher had been accosted by Peeves, who felt it was his duty to prevent the potions master from getting to his lesson. The manner in which the pesky poltergeist had attempted this was by pelting Snape with handfuls of the gravel from the drive. The old tyrant was sure one of the student's had put him up to it, as the annoying poltergeist seemed unusually tenacious; even Snape's most cruel hexes couldn't scare the damn cretin off.
"In!" Snape hissed at the class as he threw the door open and stalked in. After exchanging looks of trepidation (even the Slytherins seemed unsure about proceeding into their usual favourite lesson) the wary third years made their way in to their usual benches. After calling the register, Snape launched straight into his first wave of attacks on the Gryffindors. "All of you," he spat, glaring the Gryffindors down. "Performed poorly in your examinations in June. I'm still unsure whether your performance was due to lack of effort, or ability, but either way, I expect more from you this year." Leshia bit the insides of her mouth to stop herself from lashing out at the foul teacher; how on earth could she have exceeded an O? And she knew for a fact that Katie too had scored the top mark in their Potions exam at the end of second year. Snape was continuing with his spiel, this time looking to the Slytherins in the classroom,
"As for you lot, I was pleased with your progress and you should feel proud, but should you let your standards drop…" the ageing wizard trailed off and shook his head grumpily. "Where are your books?" he suddenly barked at the class and they hurried to take out their Potions textbooks. It seemed that most of the class had replaced their books over the summer as they had become quite battered over the last two years. Rachel and Leshia were not amongst those with the momentary foresight to predict Snape's wrath, and sporting a colossal burn mark along with the green crinkled pages from when a potion spilled all over it, Rachel's book was looking worse for wear, which seemed rather mild in comparison with the hole burnt clean through Leshia's.
"What. Are. Those?" Snape demanded icily as he stalked the aisles between the benches until he came across the girls.
"Um, our books?' Leshia replied, sounding cockier than she had intended. Snape's upper lip curled as he glared furiously at the blonde girl.
"Do you think it funny Malfoy, to show up to class with a book in this condition?" the teacher demanded as he lifted the book and peered at the girl through the hole.
"Um…no?" she replied hopefully.
"Detention and ten points from Gryffindor for your cheek!" Snape snapped out furiously. "You may join Miss Malfoy tomorrow evening Weasley, yours is just as bad."
"Professor Snape?" Leshia asked tentatively, trying to repent for her cheek so as she might not worsen her situation.
"I suppose you are going to tell me you have some prior engagement you cannot possibly get out of?" Professor Snape growled.
"Um actually, yes, I was."
"Well tough, you will have to miss it." With this the teacher waltzed to the front of the classroom and started his lesson, which Leshia and Rachel tried very hard to ignore. How dare he tell them off so badly for a crime so minor? Fine then, if he was going to be a pillock, then they refused to learn anything.
By the time dinner time arrived Leshia and Rachel were in foul moods. As though Snape's mood had been contagious the pair of them sat in a stony silence, eating the bare minimum and staring icily ahead. Whereas her friends had had an awful day, Katie had excelled, earning for her house fifteen housepoints and getting enough praise to even fill her high standards. Now she sat chatting with Rodeo, enjoying every moment of this wonderful day.
"I'll get my dad to go into London and get us some new books," Rachel finally spoke, eliciting a nod from her blonde friend.
"And I'll go tell my parents what a dragon Snape was today and get them to wheedle us out of detention tomorrow night," Leshia added.
"Ha, good one," Rachel grumbled. "Unless your dad uses the Imperius curse then we're booked for tomorrow Leesh."
"Well you never know, he might have no qualms about using the Imperius curse," Leshia said with a shrug, and although Rachel took this as a joke and burst out into joyous laughter (no doubt picturing the rotten old teacher being forced to do something hilarious under the curse's powers), Leshia had been deadly serious. Her father using the unforgivable curses didn't seem so far fetched after the information she had received before the summer.
Leshia was true to her word, and after dinner she set out through the corridors until she reached the painting of the Newlyweds that concealed the entrance to her parents' chambers. Scratching the foot of the smiling groom caused the painting to swing forward revealing a grand oak door, which Leshia had never found locked. Without thinking the girl pushed it open to find her parents sat on the settee enjoying a glass of a wine and each other's fine company.
"Leshia," they both exclaimed in pleasant surprise.
"What are you doing here darling?" Hermione asked with a smile and she held out her arm to her daughter. Leshia grinned with a shrug and slowly ambled over, dropping down next to her mother.
"Well, I wanted to ask a favour actually," the girl said simply, not seeing any point in beating about the bush; her parents knew her well and could probably already guess why she had com – Leshia had long known that when a student had detention, all the other teachers automatically seemed to find out; this had resulted in Leshia getting in more trouble than was necessary when Hermione found out about various punishments she would rather have kept hidden.
"I've already had a word with Severus," Draco exclaimed before Leshia had had a chance to plead her case. "He was extremely reluctant, but I managed to wear him down in the end. He'll discuss your new punishment with you in your next lesson." Leshia furrowed her brow.
"Oh…thanks," she managed after a while.
"Well that is why you've come isn't it?" Draco enquired curiously with an amused smile on his face.
"Yes, but…" Leshia trailed off, why was she fighting this? She'd got what she wanted. And yet part of her was still a little angry. Surely her father had no right to go interfering in her private affairs without her say so?
"Leshia," Hermione laughed. "Leave it be. Now, other than getting detention so soon – which I am not happy about by the way – how have your first days been?"
"Great," the girl replied brightly. "But you know it's hardly my fault that old Snape gave me detention…"
"Professor Snape Leshia," Draco cut in.
"I mean yeah, my book's a little battered, but that doesn't warrant a detention does it?"
"A little battered? He told me there's a great big hole straight through it," Draco chuckled. Leshia stared at her father with a hard look and for a moment Draco frowned in confusion. The tension was so evident that Hermione actually shuddered. "What's the matter with you?" Draco asked sounding more and more like Professor Malfoy than the dad Leshia had always known.
"I'm tired," Leshia replied stiltedly and she climbed to her feet.
"Leshia darling, don't be like this, what's wrong?" Hermione pressed looking equally as confused as her husband.
"I'll see you tomorrow, I'm really looking forward to your lesson mum," the girl managed before she scarpered through the door leaving her parents staring at one another in complete confusion. Outside Leshia was chewing her lower lip seemingly distraught – what was the matter with her? It seemed every chance she got she was finding some excuse to be mad with her father, and when she wasn't mad at him, she was fearful and mistrustful of his intentions. Damn Lucius! Damn him for casting such doubt in her mind over the father she had always loved so dearly. Feeling entirely rotten she trudged back to the common room, trying to think of ways she could make it up to her father the next day. Perhaps she ought to tell him what she knew, tell him what her grandfather had told her, and then see if there was any truth to his poisonous words? Didn't her father at least deserve an explanation for her madness?
"But what if it's true?" Leshia whispered to herself outside the portrait of the Fat Lady.
"What if what's true?" the precocious madam in the painting demanded. Leshia stared at her in surprise.
"Either spit it out or run along, you're wasting my time here," the portrait chided.
"To be quite frank, it's none of your damn business," Leshia finally managed indignantly.
"Why I never…"
"Goldilocks," the girl said firmly cutting the Fat Lady off mid sentence and glaring fiercely at the nosy portrait. After returning Leshia's glare tenfold the portrait swung forward rather rapidly just barely missing Leshia's face by an inch. Not wanting to get into a fight she couldn't win (after all, how would one fight with a portrait) Leshia ignored the impertinence of the painting and darted inside wanting more than anything to curl up on one of the sofas and ignore everything. There was no chance she was going to the library tonight, as had been their plan. Yes, Snape had given them a four-foot essay to do on some obscure potion they had never heard of and would never find a use for, but she was in no mood to scour the shelves for any information on the Order of the Phoenix; the fact that they inevitably never found anything was too depressing for the girl. She was beginning to loathe secrets more than anything else in the world.
Walking into the common room Leshia suddenly stopped in her tracks, as there, sat squeezed up against one another on the settee in the corner (often dubbed the 'love seat' by the more mischievous youngsters in the tower) were Katie and Rodeo. Rachel was sat nearby, shooting them shifty glances every once in a while in order to see that they weren't doing anything that they shouldn't. Upon Leshia's entry however, the redhead's face went bright red and she jumped to her feet.
"Leesh!" she exclaimed loudly, and in the corner Katie too jumped to her feet, acting as though barely seconds before she hadn't been pressed up against the boy she and Leshia held so dear. "And?"
For a moment Leshia's chest rose and fell dramatically, as though she were trying to keep in either sob or a scream of frustration, before she managed to regain control of her senses and make her way over to the settee Rachel had just been commandeering – the girl had been enjoying herself immensely by stopping the first years (primarily her little sister Emelia) from taking a seat.
"He's already spoken to Snape, apparently we're going to hear about our new punishment in our next lesson," Leshia sighed heavily and she stared into the fire looking as though the entire weight of the world was resting on her shoulders.
"You don't seem happy about it," Rachel said with a frown and she peered over her shoulder to see Katie still stood beside Rodeo, staring at the back of Leshia's head with a strange pale look. "Look, if it's about those two, it doesn't mean anything, they're just…" Leshia started to laugh; a forced, cold and pained sounding laugh.
"It's not about them, really," she said firmly. "In fact, I couldn't care less what they do." Nobody who heard these words would later attest to Leshia meaning a jot of them, but at the time, nobody said anything.
"Well then what is it?" Rachel asked sounding concerned for her friend. Lifting her large grey eyes to her friend's kind face Leshia felt as though she could tell her everything.
"When Lucius…" she began, but at this moment Katie sat down delicately on her other side, perching on the edge of the sofa looking most uncomfortable. The moment was gone.
"When Lucius what?" Rachel pressed, but Leshia shook her head firmly.
"No, nothing, it doesn't matter. Look I'm going to go and read or something." With this the blonde girl climbed to her feet and headed up the stairs without another word to her friends.
"What?" Katie demanded when she noticed Rachel was glaring firmly at her. "I heard what she said as well as you did. She doesn't care Rachel! Something else was bothering her."
"Yes, but I could have found out what that something is if you hadn't of planted yourself down at that exact moment," Rachel grumbled, though a smile pulled at her lips to show she didn't really mean it.
"Whatever it is," Katie sighed and she leaned back beside her cousin. "It must be pretty big if it's to do with her grandfather."
By the following morning Leshia had cheered up considerably. Things always seemed worse at night she thought to herself, and with the breaking of another beautiful day, she hadn't the heart to feel worried about her father. Of course Lucius had made it up, her father was a good man and he would never have hurt her mother or Harry, Ron and all the others. She did feel awful about how she had treated her dad though, and she vowed that she would make it up to him.
Katie and Rachel were very happy to see that their usually charismatic ringleader was back to normal when they awoke to find her grinning at them apologetically. No more was said on the matter and they dressed in an amiable silence before making their way down to breakfast.
"We've got Herbology first haven't we?" Rachel asked cheerfully as they sat down at their places and tucked into the usual feast that awaited them.
"Yep, let's hope we're going to do something decent this year," Leshia said happily.
"What, you didn't like Mandrakes?" Katie asked and after sniggering gleefully, Rachel and Leshia realised their raven-haired friend wasn't in fact joking.
"Katie, I'll pretend you didn't say that."
"Hey look at that, Allseyer seems pleased with himself," Leshia remarked sounding a little putout, and on queue Katie and Rachel looked across the Great Hall and saw that indeed, Damian Allseyer was grinning at his friends evidently extremely pleased with himself. "What's he got to grin about?"
"Maybe he finally figured out how to tie his shoelaces without any help?" Rachel suggested.
"He's probably expecting something exciting in the post," Katie countered. "Don't worry about him Leesh." Leshia nodded absent-mindedly, agreeing that Allseyer's moods were really none of her concern and that she really oughtn't care why he was deliriously happy by the looks of things, but there was a niggling doubt in the back of her mind that told her otherwise.
"Morning ladies," Rodeo's cheerful greeting came before he dropped down opposite them. Katie grinned brightly at him; a grin he returned tenfold. Leshia desperately wanted to roll her eyes, but she restrained herself and looked down at her breakfast. Her restraint lasted through till Herbology, when they took their places around the central planter in greenhouse two and Rodeo went to stand with Parys. The previous day they had started planting puffapods, which they carried on with. Herbology was always a favoured lesson as the children rarely had to work in silence (only on such occasions where Professor Sprout was having an uncharacteristic bad day) and the lessons always involved the bare minimum of note taking.
Herbology couldn't have contrasted more with the third year Gryffindors' next lesson: History of Magic. Professor Binns, the ghost responsible of imparting upon the pupils that passed through Hogwarts with knowledge of the eons of magical history that had gone before, was in a particularly dull mood on this occasion and by the time he had finished lecturing the dozy youngsters they burst out into the grounds in order to expel the energy they had built up during their brief naps during the boring lesson.
"I didn't think it was possible, but old Binns is even more boring this year!" Leshia complained as she and the girls dropped down underneath their usual tree. Rachel rolled her eyes with a grin.
"I wonder what your mum's class is going to be like," Katie pondered as she rolled onto her front and looked up the bank to where the boys were playing a football game.
"Hopefully she hasn't been taking teacher's lessons from Binns," Rachel exclaimed with wide eyes. "Can you imagine?"
"Hey!" Leshia laughed. "My mum is not as boring as old Binns, there's no way!"
"I wonder if she'll be as strict as your dad," Katie chimed in.
"Last year Amy and Sarah told me she was a really good teacher," Leshia complained defensively. "Besides, the best bit about her lesson is that there's no way we're going to come across that rat Allseyer." With this happy thought Leshia rolled onto the ground and followed Katie's dreamy gaze to the boys. "What do they see in that game?" Leshia pondered aloud.
"They're boys, who knows," Rachel sighed as she joined her friends on her front. Aware that they suddenly had an audience Rodeo and Parys took it upon themselves to entertain the young ladies. As a result the girls had to rush inside to the toilets from laughing themselves into desperately needing to go – the boys' attempts at showing off had been far too hilarious. The bell for their next lesson was ringing as they rushed in.
"Be quick, if we're late my dad'll go ballistic," Leshia informed her friends as they burst into three cubicles. Needless to say, the girls didn't need telling twice and within minutes they had met up once more and rushed towards the door. It didn't budge and the three girls bounced off it and onto the tiled floor.
"Yuck!" Katie exclaimed angrily and she leapt to her feet – she had been the only one to unfortunately land in a puddle. "What's wrong with the door?" The raven-haired girl pushed into it firmly as the other two climbed to their feet, but it wouldn't move.
"Someone locked us in," Rachel exclaimed in surprise. The three girls looked to one another with wide eyes as the bell rang signifying the start of their next lesson, which they were now consequently missing.
"Help!" they cried out simultaneously. For ten minutes they called out for help; a call that was not answered.
"What are we going to do?" Leshia demanded frantically. "We can't be late again! My dad'll think I hate him, especially after the way I behaved last night."
"How did you behave last night?" Rachel asked with a frown.
"I didn't even think you could lock these doors," Katie pondered with a frown, she hadn't been listening to the other two, as she was far too caught up in her own thoughts.
"Katie be quiet," Rachel admonished as the blonde girl shrunk away under Rachel's firm questioning gaze. "Leesh what is going on with you and your dad? You've been funny with him for ages."
"There's nothing going on," Leshia complained and she turned her wand on the door.
"I wouldn't, it won't work," Katie grumbled – feeling putout that Rachel had dismissed her.
"Alohamora," the blonde girl uttered, but the door didn't budge.
"As I was saying," Katie explained deliberately. "It won't work, because the door hasn't got a lock."
"Well then how…" Rachel began with a frown.
"Allseyer!" Leshia said triumphantly, a look of anger morphing onto her pretty face. "It's got to be, that's why he was so happy with himself." Rachel and Katie chose to ignore their friend, now wasn't the time to be pointing the finger; now was the time for trying to find a way out of their rather unpleasant prison.
"We could try blasting the door out," Rachel suggested thoughtfully, eliciting a very unladylike snigger out of Katie.
"After you," she sniggered.
"What? You don't think that I can do it?"
"Well, do you know any 'blasting out the way' spells?" Katie asked with a smug look. For a moment Rachel fumed, before she eventually realised her plan wouldn't work and she shook her head. "No, I'd say we're stuck until someone comes along and tries to get in," Katie sighed.
"But that could be ages, nobody ever uses these toilets," Leshia complained.
"Lunch at least," Rachel agreed. "I mean we only use it on our way in or out to the grounds don't we?" Feeling incredibly downhearted the girls sunk to the ground beside the door. Katie felt incredibly upset to be missing any lessons at all, but especially to be missing their first ever Ancient Runes lesson; now she wasn't going to know what the whole subject was about. Rachel felt mortified to know she was going to have to spend two or more hours in a lavatory; talk about mortifying! Leshia however, arguably felt the worst; not only was she horrified over what her father was thinking at that moment in time (she desperately didn't want him to think she hated him), but her mother was going to be terribly upset that she was missing her first lesson.
"So, if we do ever get out of here, should we go to the library and research the order?" Katie suggested.
"Can't," Leshia replied simply. "Got quidditch tryouts haven't I?"
"What, you're trying out again?" Rachel asked with a frown. Leshia grinned and shook her head.
"We could check in our free period after lunch though."
"That's if there is an after lunch," Rachel grumbled.
"Where shall we look?" Katie asked. "I mean, there's thousands of books in there, where on earth will we begin?"
"The index cards?" Leshia suggested.
"I doubt there's a book entitled 'All you ever wanted to know about the Order of the Phoenix' Leesh," Rachel sniggered.
"You know, I hate to admit that there's something the library can't help us with," Katie began slowly. "But I really think we should ask our parents on this one." Rachel nodded in agreement while Leshia's head sunk forward a little and her large eyes drooped to the ground. This movement did not go unnoticed by her friends.
"Leshia please," Rachel begged. "Tell us what's going on?" Silence filled the bathroom only broken sporadically by a leaky tap. The looks of hurt and concern on her friends' faces was too much for Leshia to bear and she finally decided it was time to explain what she knew.
"When my grandfather kidnapped me, he…he told me something…" she began shakily. "Something about my dad." The other two stayed absolutely silent as Leshia paused for a moment, staring off into space as her grandfather's words replayed themselves in her mind, 'His intention was to betray them.'
"What was it?" Rachel finally asked ever so gently when Leshia seemed to get stuck in the memories she had been running from for many months.
"He said that when my dad turned to the other side…turned to the good side and joined our parents against Voldemort, he was going to betray them." Katie and Rachel frowned; they knew very little about their parents' past, only that they had fought against Voldemort for many years until finally together they all had a hand in defeating him in the Battle of the Ages, with Harry and Draco doing the final deed of killing him. "My dad wasn't a good person," Leshia continued quietly. "I mean you know he was enemies with my mum and your dads right? Well he joined them because he wanted to betray them. He was feeding the enemy information on them. He must have been responsible for so many deaths! Maybe he was even planning on killing them!"
"Leesh…" Rachel began, but there were no words to express how confused she was feeling. Draco, the man she had always feared a little, but never felt was a real threat because he was…well…Draco. This man they had all grown up with was a traitor?
"He must be lying," Katie said firmly, though she seemed a little shaken. A flicker of hope crossed Leshia's face.
"That's what I was thinking," she said softly.
"He was juts trying to turn you against your family Leesh. You shouldn't think about it anymore!" Katie continued. "I mean this is your dad we're talking about. He helped kill Voldemort! Why on earth would he do that if he was working for him in secret?" Feeling renewed by Katie, ever-sensible Katie, Leshia nodded firmly this time.
"Did you tell him what Lucius said?" Rachel asked.
"Are you mad?" Leshia demanded amusedly. "Of course I didn't." A comfortable silence followed in which Leshia's trust and faith in her father gradually started to restore itself. Of course Lucius had been lying. Of course her father was a good, kind and honest man…okay, so he was a good and honest man.
"Want to play exploding snap?" Rachel eventually broke the silence.
"With what?" Leshia asked with a frown. "Our imaginations?"
"No you idiot, with these." With a triumphant smile Rachel pulled a pack of wizard cards from her satchel.
"Rachel! You genius!"
Hermione smiled broadly as she opened the door to welcome in her third-year class. They all seemed to bright-eyed and eager in comparison with the seventh years she had just taught.
"Welcome," she told them happily as they all took a seat in the small classroom lined with fascinating artefacts covered in runes. On each of desk stood a small slab of varying shapes and sized, each littered with runes of some sort or other. The children began studying the slabs interestedly as Hermione peered out into the corridor. Where were Leshia and her friends? After waiting longer than she should of for her daughter Hermione returned to the front of the class with a slightly fallen expression.
"I'm Professor Granger," she told the class with forced-brightness, telling them the name she had been going by to avoid confusion between herself and her husband. "Um…I don't suppose any of you know where Miss Malfoy, Miss Potter and Miss Weasley are?" she asked the class with a concerned frown. Only one youngster seemed to have any information on their whereabouts (or lack thereof).
"They weren't in our last lesson," Julius Black explained seriously, as though he himself was wondering where they were.
"Really?" Hermione asked worriedly, imagining her husband's reaction to their daughter missing his lesson.
"Rodeo Holsson and Parys Jackson said they'd been out on the grounds at break and went in right before the bell, but no one's seen them since." After a moment of silence in which Hermione felt incredibly downhearted, she forced a smile onto her face and shook her head.
"Never mind," she managed. "So, onto today's lesson. I suppose you're all wondering what these strange old pieces of rock are all about…"
The third years enjoyed Hermione's lesson immensely and as they left they were all chattering with big smiled over how this was their new favourite lesson. The young woman wished she could say their enthusiasm made up for the pain she felt at thinking Leshia had skived her first lesson, but it couldn't. With a heavy sigh she went about clearing away the slabs of rune-inscribed rock. In the distance she could hear the fast and long-loping strides of her husband coming to tell her no-doubt about their daughter's antics. She was not mistaken.
"Leshia missed my lesson," Draco's voice came moments before he appeared in the doorway. Hermione gave him a grim smile.
"Mine too." For a moment Draco inhaled and exhaled slowly as he grinded his teeth together with a most unpleasant expression. "I'm sure there's a logical explanation…" Hermione began calmly.
"Your damn right there is, that child is turning into a disrespectful little…"
"Draco!" Hermione admonished sternly. "Don't be ridiculous, she's not doing this to hurt us."
"Oh no? You saw her last night, she's angry with me for some reason."
"You're imagining things," Hermione countered firmly. "She's a teenager now darling, it's only natural for her to be moody. She wouldn't just miss our lessons for no reason, don't you remember? Last night she seemed excited about my lesson." Draco sighed heavily and leant against his wife's cluttered desk.
"So what do we do now?"
"Well, let's go to lunch and see if she's there, and if not, we'll have to look for her after lessons are through."
"But…" Draco began with an exasperated expression.
"Draco," Hermione chuckled. "We can't just forget that we have classes to teach." Draco sighed heavily, but he nodded all the same.
"That girl had better have a good excuse!"
The hours passed very slowly in the bathroom Leshia, Rachel and Katie had been holed up in. Their exploding snap game had lasted for the majority of the time, but as soon as the lunch bell went they leant back against the door calling out for help. Nobody came and as the last bell went signifying the start of afternoon lessons the girls couldn't help but feel incredibly upset and depressed.
"We're going to die in here aren't we?" Rachel moaned grimly.
"Don't be silly Rachel," Katie complained while Leshia sniggered, and the girls lapsed into silence, which was only broken when suddenly all three girls spun around and looked behind themselves at the wall they had been leaning against.
"You felt it too…" Rachel began, but she was silenced by a severe look from the other two. After a few moments of silence all three girls relaxed.
"Yes," Leshia finally replied.
"It was as if we were being watched," Katie said with a shudder. "It was really scary."
"I don't think…I don't think we're alone," Leshia said softly looking to her friends with vulnerable eyes. As one the three girls jumped to their feet and started screaming again,
"Help!" This time the girls did not stop shouting until they finally got a reply.
"Who's in there?" the voice of a girl they didn't recognise came.
"Hello?" Katie exclaimed jubilantly. "Is there someone there?"
"Yes. Why is the door locked?" the girl's voice came.
"We don't know, we can't get out! We've been locked in here since break!" Leshia cried out.
"Hang on, I'm going to get help." With this the sound of rushing footsteps could be hear moving away and the girls looked to one another with big smiles. The help the girl brought was the very unpleasant Argus Filch who pried the door off the hinges with a very large piece of metal. It seemed the bolt had fused against the wall. Looking like he very much wanted to punish the girls, Filch eventually stalked off realising that three third years couldn't possible have caused such damage.
"I have to go and see my parents!" Leshia told her friends urgently and she started racing off down the corridor.
"Leshia! They'll be in the middle of a lesson!" Katie called after the blonde girl, but she was gone. With a sigh Katie and Rachel started walking in the other direction in order to find Professor McGonagall and explain what had happened. Leshia sprinted as fast as she could to the closest of her parents' classrooms: the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom. She could hear her father voice inside and after realising that she was in fact terrified of what he was going to say, she knocked firmly on the door. After he had finished his sentence, her reply came,
"Come in," the firm and somewhat angry voice of her father came. Leshia winced, but pushed the door open nonetheless to meet her father's coolly angry face. The class, the same first years who had been terrified in their first lesson with Professor Malfoy when he had discovered the state of his notes and books on that first Monday, looked up with matching terrified expressions to see who had interrupted their frightening teacher's lecture.
"Um, can I speak to you?" Leshia managed worriedly. For a moment it looked as though Draco was going to ignore his daughter, as he looked to the class and paused for a few seconds.
"Excuse me," he finally told them and he started making his way over to the door. "Start reading chapter three." Leshia backed into the corridor as he shut the door behind himself and looked on Leshia with crossed arms and a highly unpleasant expression.
"I didn't skive your lesson dad!" Leshia quickly exclaimed.
"Oh no?" Draco interrupted and he uncrossed his arms and stared at the girl incredulously. "So I suppose I was imaging your empty seat then?"
"No, I know I wasn't there," Leshia replied desperately.
"Well then where were you? And more to the point, why did you have to hurt your mother by not showing up for her lesson either? How can you have been so heartless? Fine, you're angry with me for some strange secret reason, but why did you have to hurt your mother?" Leshia frowned.
"No you don't understand…"
"Well you're not exactly explaining it very well," Draco said angrily.
"You're not letting me get a word in edgeways!" Leshia complained, feeling a little angry herself. Draco went silent and stared at his daughter through narrowed eyes. Leshia winced and tried to make an apologetic face. "We were locked in the bathroom by the west door." Draco frowned.
"The bathrooms don't have locks on them," he finally said darkly.
"Yeah I know, but this one was fused shut. Mr Filch had to pry the door off. Honestly! You can ask him!"
"How and why did you fuse a door shut? What the hell were you trying to do?"
"We didn't do it! Someone else did while we were in there," Leshia countered defensively. "Look dad I'm really really sorry, but I didn't skive your lesson, or mum's. And I'm not angry with you at all, I'm really sorry about last night too, I was just in a bad mood." Silence filled the corridor while Leshia's grey eyes held her father's identical eyes with pleading in her expression, willing him to believe her and stop being hurt by her actions. Finally sighed heavily and his expression softened.
"You'd better go tell your mother," he said calmly. Leshia grinned broadly, her whole body visibly relaxing, before she threw her arms around her father's shoulders. "Yes okay," Draco grumbled, but he sounded amused. "Go on, I have a lesson to teach." Leshia pulled away with a beaming smile.
"You should go easy on them, they looks scared to death."
Hermione accepted Leshia's explanation much more readily and she felt very much relieved by Leshia's explanation of what had happened. Rachel and Katie had had a harder time convincing Professor McGonagall of their nightmarish experience in the bathroom and had eventually begged her to ask Filch over what had happened. He was more than willing to explain that some toe rags had damaged the door and after this Professor McGonagall was more willing to take the girls' words for it.
Leshia met up with them in the common room where Rodeo and Parys were questioning them over what had happened. This inquisition lasted until the final bell of the day rang and Leshia excused herself in order to get changed for Quidditch. Rachel and Katie were coming to watch, so as soon as the blonde girl reappeared dressed in her training clothes, they excused themselves and rushed off to the pitch where several hopefuls were already gathered around Mila.
Leshia slinked off to the side where Tom and Luke were poking fun at many of the youngsters trying out for the two chaser and keeper positions on the cup-winning team. Needless to say when Leshia reached them she instantly became the subject of their teasing and they questioned her on her experience in the bathrooms.
"How did you know?" Leshia asked with a frown.
"We know everything young Malfoy," Tom said cheerfully. Leshia frowned even more.
"You didn't…" she began worriedly, suspecting the cousins of foul play.
"Leshia! We're shocked and insulted," Luke exclaimed sounding pompous, though an amused smile pulled at his freckled face.
"We can't take credit for this one Leesh," Tom added with a shrug. "Besides, if we were going to do something so funny…"
"Tom!" Leshia complained.
"We wouldn't have picked you lot. Can't involve the family now can we?" Tom finished with a grin.
"Oh. My. God," Luke suddenly exclaimed sounding completely beside himself.
"What?" the other two questioned.
"Owen Gabriel is finally trying out for the team!"
"Who's Owen Gabriel?" Leshia asked curiously turning to look in the direction of the hopefuls. She had heard the name of the fourth year boy before, but had never found any reason to wonder who he was, it seemed that perhaps she should have. Tom was equally as excited as his cousin at the prospect of the young man trying out for the team.
"With him on side there's no way we can possibly lose!" Tom exclaimed gleefully.
"Who is he?"
"Only the best quidditch player in the whole school!" Luke replied happily. "His mum's the legendary Lucy Gabriel…"
"The new England Goalie?" Leshia gasped.
"The very same, she's been training this one since he was in nappies. He's already been booked to play for the Wimbourne Wasps as soon as he turns seventeen," Tom explained.
"That's why he hasn't been playing for us, they've got some sort of deal that means he can't play at school, but I guess that's changed," Luke added.
"Which one is he?" Leshia asked curiously, eager to lay eyes on this supposedly magnificent quidditch player. None of the hopefuls seemed to stand out.
"Come on, we'll introduce you," Tom said cheerfully. "He's all right that Owen." Leshia followed the two redheads eagerly sizing up the hopefuls trying to guess which one was Owen Gabriel, until finally the cousins came to a halt in front of the most unlikely suspect. Tall and on the thin side, Owen Gabriel was as normal as anyone could have imagined. With nondescript dark brown hair cut in a short style and hazel eyes he didn't seem to have classic good looks, yet there was something about his cheeky smile as he greeted the cousins that Leshia found appealing.
"Owen mate, what are you doing here?" Luke asked happily.
"Trying out I suppose," Owen replied in a surprisingly deep voice.
"But what about your contract thing?" Tom pressed. Owen grinned and shrugged his shoulders.
"They changed their minds, figured I could do with the extra practice."
"Aw mate that's so unbelievably cool!" Luke crowed. "Oh yeah, this is Leshia by the way, she's our seeker." Leshia shot Luke a playful glare for introducing her as though she were an afterthought.
"Yeah I know," Owen said and he turned his playful eyes onto Leshia. Something about his look reminded the girl of her dearly missed ex-captain and practically older brother Ryan Lofting. "Nice to meet you."
"Yeah you too," she said. "So you're really Lucy Gabriel's son?" Owen chuckled.
"Are you really Draco Malfoy's daughter?" Leshia grinned and nodded; fair enough, it had been an annoying question that he probably got all the time. Ever since Lucy Gabriel had taken up the position as England Keeper in the summer she had been at the centre of the press' attention for being fantastically brilliant.
"I'll bet Mila won't make you try out, you should be a shoe-in," Luke exclaimed, already bored by Leshia's small talk with the prodigal keeper. Owen Gabriel chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck in an embarrassed way. Leshia likened this mannerism to Ryan Lofting and felt a little stab of pain when she thought of him not being around anymore. Her attention was soon caught by two youngsters she hadn't seen in a while arriving at the pitch.
It seemed it was the day for quidditch players' offspring to try out for the team, as Jaime and Eliot Wood, two second years who had just ambled onto the pitch, were the daughters of Oliver Wood, who played keeper for Scotland. Leshia excused herself from the young men and made her way over to them.
"Hi!" she called to them brightly. "I didn't know you two were trying out. What positions are you going for?"
"Hi," the girls replied happily and explained that their father had not let them leave the house to catch the train before they promised that they would try out this year for the team he had once captained many years ago. It transpired that Jaime was going for one of the chaser positions and Eliot had her hopes on Keeper; hopes that were dashed as soon as her eyes fell on the tall form of Owen Gabriel.
"Crap," the young girl exclaimed earning her a look of reprove from her sister. "I didn't know he was trying out." Leshia winced when she realised who Eliot had spotted.
"Who?" Jaime questioned and she peered in the direction of the group and soon saw what had her sister so concerned. "Ah."
"You should still try out," Leshia told the younger girl firmly, but Eliot turned on her with a grin.
"To be honest, this is sort of a good copout for me. Dad can't complain when he finds out Owen Gabriel's on the team."
"You sound like you didn't want to join," Leshia remarked with a smile.
"She didn't," Jaime said simply with a shrug. "But dad can't stand the thought of his only children not being quidditch enthusiasts." The three girls chatted about how overbearing fathers could be when they had their mind set on something until finally Mila called a start to the tryouts.
Leshia made herself useful by being sent after errant quaffles whenever hopeful chasers or keepers sent them flying awry. Most of the hopefuls were dire and Leshia was sure they had only come because they heard Owen Gabriel was going to be trying out and they either hoped they'd get lucky and get on the team or they just wanted to get the chance to try their luck at scoring against the boy. Jaime Wood was definitely one of the better ones and privately Leshia felt that the girl had performed well enough to secure a spot on the team.
By the time it was Owen Gabriel's turn to shine Leshia had made her way over to Rachel and Katie, who had been watching the poor standard of the players with suppressed giggles. Together they watched in amazement as the young man shined. He was staggering, making absolutely spectacular saves even when there were several people trying to score simultaneously. Not one ball passed through the golden hoops and as he flew back down to the ground everyone was cheering appreciatively. There wasn't a doubt in anyone's mind; Owen Gabriel was the new Gryffindor Keeper and with his expert help, they were going straight to the top.
Jaime Wood did make chaser (the other spot being filled by a fifth year by the name of Jocelyn Jones, who preferred to go by the much less obtrusive Joss and had for many a year been waiting for her chance to make it onto the team) and to celebrate the appointment of the three new quidditch players Tom and Luke had been down to the kitchens and collected a vast amount of food and drink for the house to enjoy.
Happy that for once they weren't the ones who had been volunteered for food and drink collection the girls enjoyed themselves immensely and got to bed far too late ensuring that throughout the following day they felt incredibly sorry for themselves. Their Potions lesson after lunch was particularly painful (especially considering it was followed by History of Magic) when Leshia and Rachel found out that their new punishment involved giving up their first Saturday back.
The fact that the girls, along with Rodeo and Parys, still had their detention with Draco to fulfil was at the back of their minds all-day and so feeling incredibly miserable the five Gryffindor third years made their way to Draco's study. Once more Leshia was volunteered by her friends as being the first one to knock and so she did. Draco opened to the door to them personally, seemingly suspicious that the five youngsters were on time.
"Classroom," he told them simply, and he led the way out into the corridor and through to his classroom where the tables and chairs had been cleared to the side. Five boxes lay labelled on the ground around the vast pile of destroyed and disarrayed papers and books.
"You said we wouldn't we sorting through this stuff," Leshia complained sounding upset. Draco stared at her firmly.
"Deal with it," he told her amusedly. In truth, he had had something else planned for the tardy youngsters, but in the time that had passed since he had doled out their detention he had made barely any progress on the vast pile of strewn papers. He needed help, and all his detentionees had so far been helping him. With an exasperated groan Leshia was the first to sit down on the ground next to the pile of paper. The others quickly rushed to join her while Draco explained the sorting system he had devised. Once the youngsters had grasped the system he left them to it, returning to his study to start marking the work he'd already set and had returned by some poor class or other.
"This is houself work," Parys grumbled in a whisper, aware that Draco was within hearing range. Leshia snorted amusedly and nodded.
"You said it," she agreed happily. The youngsters chatted in a subdued way as they sorted through the incredibly boring papers (how could a subject so full of inter4esting potential yield such boring books and papers the children wondered) until finally Rodeo found something of interest.
"Hey look," he said quietly as he held up some faded wizarding pictures. "Isn't that your mum?" Leshia peered over his shoulder and saw that indeed her mother's youthful seventeen-year-old face was smiling out of the picture in which she recognised several other people including Harry, Ron, Ginny, several other Weasley youths, Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, Remus Lupin and Grandma and Grandpa Weasley. Up in his study Leshia heard her father climb from his chair all set on sending the youngsters on their way, so she quickly snatched the pictures from Rodeo and stuffed them down her jumper just as Draco appeared in his study door.
"Go on then," he told them. "Off with you. Just don't be late again!" The children didn't need telling twice and within no time they had scarpered. Only once they were safely back inside their common room did Leshia pull out the pictures to show her friends.
"What could this mean?" Katie asked as she examined a picture showing their seventeen-year-old parents laughing in a strange mottled looking corridor. "Where is this place?"
"Do you think…" Leshia began excitedly as she looked at the picture of the large group of people including their parents. "Do you think this could be the Order of the Phoenix?"
Later that evening, after the girls had exhausted the possibility that the picture was showing them the possible meeting place and members of the Order of the Phoenix to the point that they were sick of the sight of the faded photographs, Emelia, Rachel's younger sister and new first year Gryffindor, approached the trio of best friends cautiously.
"Rachel, I need to talk to you," the small auburn-haired girl said worriedly. Rachel looked at her little sister with a frown.
"What do you want squirt?"
"I just wanted to see if something was…well, normal."
"Well spit it out." Emelia smiled awkwardly.
"All day my friends and I," the small girl began as she indicated over her shoulder at two small first years she had already become firm friends with. "Have felt like we've been followed."
"What do you mean followed?" Leshia asked curiously.
"Well we've been getting the shivers, like there's someone standing right behind us or something. It's really scary! We've got the creeps!" the small girl explained worriedly. Leshia, Rachel and Katie exchanged a significant look before Rachel turned back on her little sister.
"You're being silly," she admonished. "Bug off and stop fantasising about weird stuff." Emelia cast her older sister a tired look, before she turned on heal and stormed off.
"That was a bit mean," Katie said softly.
"Well this way she's going to be too mad at me to worry isn't she?" Rachel explained with a worried frown. Leshia grinned fondly at her friend; Rachel always liked to pretend she couldn't stand her younger sisters, but secretly she cared deeply for them and she would rather have Emelia furious with her than have the young girl worry about being followed by sinister entities. "Do you think they've sensed the same thing we did?" the redhead asked softly. Katie and Leshia's silence confirmed that yes; this is exactly what they thought. "Oh," Rachel groaned. Leshia looked very gravely from one friend to the next before she spoke grimly,
"Whatever it is, something's not right at Hogwarts this year."