That night the girls went to bed worrying about the seemingly changing nature of their school and home. Even last year when Leshia had been stalked by her grandfather and bullied by Damian Allseyer and his gang of hooligans, she had not experienced the overwhelming ominous feeling she had experienced in the bathrooms; it had felt truly evil.
By morning they had all but forgotten about it as they rushed to get dressed into their uniforms and make their way down to breakfast fifteen minutes late. As a result they were relegated to the spaces at the end of the table right in front of the teachers table, which resulted in very subdued breakfast chatter while Leshia stole glances at her parents to find they were wrapped up in some conversation seemingly staring adoringly into one another's eyes.
"Uh, it's enough to make my stomach turn," she grumbled fondly, as she looked back to her friends with a wry grin, but she soon regretted her words when she noticed Rachel hang her head with pain creasing her pretty face. Feeling very insensitive to her best friend's current situation at home Leshia didn't need Katie's heel to dig into her toes for her to regret her words. "Ow," Leshia complained and she glared at the raven-haired girl. "I know I was an insensitive prat, you didn't have to break half my toes." To the girls' surprise Rachel snorted with laughter and the took this as a good sign and decided to leave it be. Evidently the state of Ron and Lavender's marriage was further deteriorating and without any idea why Leshia and Katie didn't have the heart to question Rachel on it and force the redhead to tell them the ins and outs of the problem. Rachel had always been the one to keep her emotions close to her chest, ever since they were in nappies, which could not contrast to her friends.
In their baby years Leshia had entertained herself with the endless desire to run away; indeed if Hermione and Draco turned their backs on the mischievous girl for one minute she would be gone. However, whenever her plans were interrupted (and she was retrieved from whatever hedge she had crawled into) the girl would let rip, resulting in her being a very loud baby. Katie was quite the opposite, she had always clung to Ginny as a baby, and should the then very young woman attempt to load the girl off on Harry, the infant would cry and cry and cry. She had been the whimpery sort, crying several times a day for no apparent reason. By the end of the first week Ginny had been ready to send her back. Rachel had been different; she had been the happiest of infants, always seeming an angel in the company of her loud friends. She had been the envy of poor frazzled Hermione and Ginny for many a year.
The flutter of dozens of wings filled the hall as the post owls swooped in to bring to their targets letters, parcels and unwanted howlers. The girls were not expecting anything, so were quite pleasantly surprised when a large tawny owl they all recognised swooped down between them carrying a large parcel wrapped in brown paper. Feeling exhausted and famished from carrying such a heavy load the bird known as Wallace (Rachel's family's shared owl) drank greedily from Rachel's goblet of orange juice before he swept back into the skies having been lightened of his load.
"Wow, dad was quick," Rachel said with a smile as she tore the paper of the parcel revealing two brand new copies of their Potions textbook Magical Drafts and Potions. Ron had indeed rushed straight out to get the books once he'd received word from his daughter of Snape's bullying of them on account of their shabby texts. And to make up for their punishment (which has been moved to the entire day of Saturday) he had also added to the parcel a whole box of sweets and a few new items his brothers were selling in Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. A letter too lay in and amongst the goodies and Rachel quickly took it out and read it with a big smile.
"Well at least we can't get in trouble with Snape now," Leshia said cheerfully, but Katie didn't share her mirth, as she was sure the blonde girl was more than capable of landing herself in trouble even with a new textbook.
Their first lesson of the day was Defence Against the Dark Arts and after joining their classmates outside the door Leshia fixed her sights on Damian Allseyer, sizing the boy up in order to work out his mood. Was he responsible for their situation in the bathrooms the other day or not? Ever since he had not crossed the girl's path, always managing to arrive at lessons later than her, and leaving before she had even been given the chance to rise from her seat. Leshia had never been more suspicious of anyone in her life.
"He's up to something," she whispered to her friends. "I mean look at that smug grin he's wearing."
"Leesh just drop it," Rachel warned. "That's just the way his face is. He was born smug."
"I'm not going to let him get away with it," Leshia was carrying on, barely having heeded her friend. For one terrifying moment it looked as though Leshia was about to march right over to the vile boy and give him a good talking too, but her tirade was pre-emptively hindered by the arrival of Julius Black. Walking past the girls, he came so close to Leshia that their arms grazed against one another, which proved enough of a distraction from Allseyer to head off her mood. Now all the girl's pent-up anger towards the Slytherins was focused solely on the attractive enigmatic young man.
"And that one," she added making sure that Julius could hear her. "He's equally as up to something, if not more so!"
"You're not even making sense any more," Katie chortled cheerfully, as up the corridor the long-loping strides signified the arrival of their teacher. As one the youngsters checked their shirts to see if they were tucked in and presentable, a routine that had become an automatic response to the impending arrival of Professor Malfoy. Predictably Draco was in a dangerously dichotic mood, as his eyes flashed warningly at the class and a small smile worked its way onto his handsome face.
"Good morning," he remarked causally as he pushed the door open with his foot. "In," was the mere command that followed, to which the class responded by filing past their teacher in the doorway. Everyone's eyes were instinctively drawn to the large object stood on top of Draco's desk. Covered by a sheet of red silk, the shape it concealed was strangely human-like and instantly the more imaginative members of the class began to get terribly excited. Leshia, being possibly the most imaginative of them all, had leaned so far forward on her desk that her nose was practically touching Ashley's hair, who was sat in front of the girl. Draco let the suspense draw out as he walked up to the front of the classroom and leaned back against the desk beside the strange shape.
"Red Caps," he told the class. "Last time we continued with our case study about the infestation of ninety-eight in Aberdeen. Can someone fill in those who were…otherwise detained…what entails a Red Cap and what happens when their numbers lurch out of control?" Several hands went into the air, while Rachel and Katie blushed under Draco's disapproving gaze. They were obviously 'those who were otherwise detained', and at this very moment they had never felt so bad for it. Even being locked in the bathrooms was less disconcerting than being the subject of that strange and calculating gaze. Leshia, well used to being stared at in such a manner by her father (after all, in trouble more often than not, she had encountered far worse), simply stared back at him with the smallest of cocky smiles on her pretty face.
"Mr Black?" All heads swivelled across the classroom to the enigma, except one, which stayed staring ahead forcefully.
"Red Caps are the genetic cousins of goblins. They're small, agile, dextrous and vicious. They love bloodshed, that's why they're called Red Caps, and they tend to corner their victims in large numbers and beat them into oblivion. They're pretty nasty buggers really." Draco was nodding while Katie desperately started making notes so as not to miss out on a second's learning to make up for their missed lesson and Rachel felt slightly repulsed by the notion of being beaten into oblivion. Only Leshia amongst the three of them did not react to the boy's words, feeling angry at the mere sound of his voice, she simply refused to learn from him.
"And the situation in Aberdeen?" Draco prompted.
"Just over ten years ago they bred out of control in this town in Scotland called Aberdeen," Julius continued. "They didn't really pose a threat to the wizarding population because we can quite easily repel them, which they know, so they stay away, but the Muggles…well they suffered. The muggle police blamed the multitude of attacks on something they call a serial killer; ninety eight people died, including fifteen children." At this Leshia raised her eyes to the boy's face with a brow heavily furrowed; Julius Black had sounded remorseful, as though the thought of all that violence had wounded his very soul. Why on earth did he have to be so strange? "It was a disaster for the muggles until the ministry of magic stepped in with the largest operation of pest control in the history of the ministry."
"Five points for Slytherin," Draco said simply and he pushed himself off his desk and wandered over to the windows, glancing out over the grounds. "Thanks to the cull of ninety-eight the Red Cap population in Northern Britain has been all but wiped out. There was wide spread panic amongst even the wizarding community, of a spread of the creatures and so everybody turned into Red Cap slayers. I believe that for a while ministers at the ministry considered placing them on the endangered species lists."
"Why didn't they sir?" Katie asked worriedly; the girl now felt sorry for the cruel little creatures. Draco smiled at her charmingly.
"Well they've been swept up into the propaganda haven't they?" he said amusedly. "More scared than most are ministers. They'd be more than happy to have the species wiped out altogether."
"And what do you think Professor?" Rodeo asked with a keen look of interest on his face. Draco grinned darkly and paced back to his desk, taking hold of the edge of the cloth, easing it gradually away from the object it concealed. The cruel and twisted face of a Red Cap sprang out at the children as the cloth was pulled away to reveal the dead creature suspended in some sort of artificial animation. Katie had to look away in disgust, while across the room one of the Slytherin girls let out a disgusted cry.
"Ugh, it's disgusting," Damian Allseyer announced, and for once Leshia agreed with him, though she would be loathe to admit it.
"I tend to agree that they're more nuisance than they're worth," Draco told the class simply and he admired the creature for a moment. "I don't think I'd condone a total cull of the entire species, but equally so I would not invite one to dinner if you understand my meaning."
"Where did you get that one?" Leshia asked with her head cocked to one side in curiosity. Draco grinned dashingly at his daughter, before looking over the expressions all the other youngsters were wearing.
"This one was loitering the grounds, I came across it in the forest."
"What were you doing in the forest?" This time Leshia bit her lip after the words had escaped her mouth, as every face in the room turned to stare at her. For a moment the girl had forgotten where she was, and even though Draco realised her error, he still was not impressed. Instead of saying anything though he carried on to the class.
"I am sure that Hagrid would be most unhappy with me were he to find out I had killed it, my fellow teacher sees only the good in all creatures. Now if you remember last year, you carried out projects with Widglings, trying to ascertain whether those nasty little cretins had any good in them that could be teased out through proper upbringing, or whether they were just wicked to the core?" The class nodded with a shudder, remembering that difficult project very well. "Can anybody tell me what we decided? Yes, Miss Weasley?"
"We decided that even though most of us had normal Widglings, meaning they were rotten and couldn't be changed, Leesh and Julius Black got a freak Widgling that actually turned out quite…bearable." Draco smiled at the girl.
"If by that you mean that we found out these previously misunderstood creatures could be tamed, then yes, you are quite right," he said to the class. "The lesson we learnt from that exercise is that often creatures are misunderstood. However, in the case of the Red Caps, you would be foolish to assume they had any other qualities than pure evil. They are vicious aggressive creatures and should you hear Hagrid complain about my culling of this chap, then you must remember those ninety eight muggles that died." Leshia frowned at the bitterness in her father's tone, and it stayed with her throughout the whole lesson; which actually turned out to be very interesting as they were allowed to go up to the creature and study it.
At the end of the lesson they were less delighted with their teacher when he told them they had to write an eight-foot essay on Red Cap physiology, complete with sketches if they wished to get top marks.
"Miss Malfoy remain behind," Draco said loudly as the bell went. Leshia kicked at her table leg in frustration while her friends and the rest of their classmates filed out leaving her alone with her father. She waited impatiently while her father covered the creature once more with the red material, before he turned around and leaned once more against his desk, looking at his daughter with a frown. "So…" He trailed off, evidently expecting the girl to say something.
"I didn't mean it," Leshia finally offered. "You have to cut me some slack dad, I sometimes forget we're in your classroom."
"I don't see why I should have to answer to you anyway," Draco retorted, his frown intensifying.
"I'm not expecting you to," Leshia countered grumpily, wondering why her father was behaving so strictly. Normally he would never have taken what she said to heart. "Dad you're being weird, and if you make me stick around any longer I'll be late for mum's lesson." Draco looked his daughter in the eye calculatingly, before eventually he smiled and nodded.
"Go on then," he sighed. "You'd better be good." There was a hint of warning in his tone and Leshia thought for one moment that she wouldn't dare disobey him. As she ran down the corridor to catch up with her friends she pondered her father's recent behaviour, hoping there was some explanation for his recent madness. Why on earth would he be patrolling the forest for secretive reasons of his own?
Leshia caught up with Rachel and Katie as the door to the Ancient Runes Classroom swung open revealing a group of fourth years spilling out into the corridor. Their lesson had dragged on and now they were late for their various next lessons.
"Hey shorty," came a voice Leshia barely recognised, before she fixed her eyes on the familiar grinning face of Owen Gabriel, the new Gryffindor Keeper, who was emerging from her mother's classroom with his friends. Leshia grinned back at him, remarking to herself how similar he seemed to her dear friend Ryan Lofting.
"Hi Owen." The boy gave the girl one last dashing smile before he and his friends made a dash for their Potions lesson.
"He seemed to like you," Katie remarked lightly as the girls filed into the classroom behind Julius Black and some other youngsters in their class they did not know so well. Leshia rolled her eyes.
"Oh don't start on that," she chuckled. "He was just being friendly. It is possible for boys and girls to be friends without there being any ulterior motives you know." By now the girls had taken some seats towards the back of the class without realising and now they looked to the front of the class to see that Hermione was beaming at them. Leshia couldn't help it, she had to smile back.
"Welcome back everyone, I'm happy to see we're all here today," Hermione gushed once the children had taken their seats. "Sorry about the wait, the fourth years and I were far too involved in our discussion to notice the time." Leshia grinned even more thinking it was most certainly her mother who had lost track of the time, not the fourth years, who had probably been counting the seconds they were held longer than they had to. "Last time we talked about the many different ways wizards and witches had scribed their thoughts over the years. We talked about methods, materials and most importantly purpose. Today, we're going to go right back to the beginning in order to examine the very roots of runes. Does anybody know what the Stone of Atharath is?" For a moment the whole class remained silent, until eventually a hand stuck into the air. Hermione beamed at the knowledgeable student and Leshia felt a pang of jealousy.
"It's a very old monolith covered in primitive runes that was found in the Middle East, people believe it to be the oldest form of wizarding Runes in the world," Julius Black explained while Leshia bristled. Why hadn't she swotted up on this subject? How was her mother going to feel when Julius Black was answering all the questions and she couldn't even manage one?
"Five points to Slytherin," Hermione said brightly. These five added to the five Draco had granted the boy amounted to ten points Julius Black had won for his house from her parents while Leshia had only served to get in trouble. Feeling more than jealous she shifted a little in her seat.
"Wonderful," the girl whispered under her breathe causing Rachel, who was sat beside her, to snigger. Hermione glanced over at them sharply.
"Girls," she admonished. "It is not polite to make a noise while other pupils are talking. Five points from Gryffindor." Leshia shut her eyes tightly and had to resist making an exasperated sound. Leshia's mood didn't improve throughout the lesson, as Julius Black and even Katie dominated the group discussions. The only time Leshia had dared to answer a question, she had got it wrong, which had only intensified her sulk. As the bell went Leshia was the first out of the classroom, leaving Hermione feeling very concerned about Leshia's attitude towards her lesson. She had waited over a year for the chance to teach her daughter, and had pinned so much hope on it being the most enjoying teaching experience of all, that now she felt deflated with the anticlimax. All this time she had not heeded her husband when he told her that Leshia could be temperamental in class: on good days she could be a delight to teach seaming to be the most intelligent child in the class, however, on bad days she was a nightmare, and Draco had admitted to wanting to throw her out on her ear the moment she turned belligerent.
Things didn't improve for Leshia, who by the end of the day had racked up yet another detention with Snape for talking back in their Potions lesson after break. She would now not only have to endure the whole day with the awful teacher, but also the entire night for however long he saw fit. A thundercloud would not have looked out of place above her head as she stalked inside the castle after a rainy PE lesson in which she had lost her team the game of rounders they had been playing.
"I hear you were a delight today," the voice of her father came as she and her friends rushed inside out of the rain. The blonde girl nodded to her soaked friends to go ahead to their dormitory while she stayed behind fixing her cantankerous gaze on her father.
"I don't know what you mean," she said lightly, adopting an air of superiority. Draco grinned dashingly at the girl.
"I mean you've been in a foul mood all week," Draco remarked. "Your mother told me about the way you behaved in her lesson, and Severus has been chewing my ear off all afternoon about the things you said to him in his lesson. So tell me Leshia, how would you describe your current demeanour?"
"Stop acting like you know everything when you don't!" Leshia groaned and she flung her hands up against her face, before leaning against the wall in a sulk. Draco remained silent for a moment while his face rearranged itself into a more concerned expression.
"If I asked you," he began comfortingly. "Would you tell me?" For a moment Leshia's chest rose and fell quickly as she fought the tears back. Where on earth were all these emotions coming from? What on earth was the matter with her? Eventually she pulled her hands away from her face and looked at her father with concern in her face.
"Maybe." Draco sighed heavily and walked over to his child wrapping his arms around her firmly. "I don't know what's wrong. I've never felt this way before, it's as if everything is getting on top of me and I just can't stop. I don't mean to be horrid, honest!" Draco chuckled, and for a moment Leshia felt indescribably comforted as the deep laughter reverberated round her own chest. For some reason it brought back to her the feelings of security her youth had offered. She could not remember the game she had played with her father when she was a very tiny girl, when she would lie on his chest and make him speak so as to feel the deep sounds rumble through her own tiny body. Draco had loved the way that game could make her giggle for hours.
"You're not being horrid," Draco consoled her and kissed the top of her head. "You just have to learn to control your temper little one."
"Don't call me that," Leshia complained weakly, but a smile pulled at the corners of her mouth. Draco laughed once more.
"Look I understand that you've grown a few inches shorty, but there's no need to get ahead of yourself is there? You're still a titch, and likely to remain one if you're anything like your mother." Leshia felt her temper rising again and she pulled back from her father with a deep frown. Draco recognised the warning signs. "Calm down," he told her slowly, with a hint of warning. This however, only served to fuel Leshia's anger and she stepped backwards.
"I am not small," she said slowly and angrily. "And I will not calm down."
"Don't start…" Draco began, but Leshia stormed past him and ran down the corridor ignoring her father's calls behind her. She ran all the way up to the seventh floor where she started pacing the corridor leading to Gryffindor Tower edgily.
"For goodness sake," she grumbled as she spun around on heel and stalked back up the corridor, fully intending on returning to her father and apologising for her behaviour, but then she felt better of it and spun around. "I just really wish I could relax. I wish I could find what I need." Angry with herself for losing control Leshia headed for Gryffindor tower once more, but then she stopped still in the middle of the corridor and stared at a small and insignificant door she had never noticed in her whole two years of pacing this corridor. Feeling drawn towards the door she pushed it open to find it was unlocked. For once this normally bustling corridor was empty and after peering around herself to see if anyone was watching and finding no one, the girl stepped inside and shut the door behind her.
The room she found herself in was impossibly large, with high vaulted ceilings and grand windows showing the dark and ominous rain clouds outside. Surely this room was far too large to fit beside the disused classroom where many of the older Gryffindors went to better get to know one another, and the staircase that lay on its other side. Where did those windows come out, and how on earth had Leshia managed to avoid coming across this room before? Feeling as though she really ought not be here Leshia turned to back away, but then her eyes became drawn to the object in the centre of the otherwise large and empty room. Black but for a hint of gold gilding around the edges, and incredibly large and foreboding, Leshia felt she recognised the cabinet that stood there in a shaft of sunlight creeping in from the otherwise stormy skies.
The girl approached the cabinet slowly, her wet shoes squeaking on the shiny polished tiles of the mysterious empty room. Whatever had led her to this room and to this cabinet had had a purpose she felt, and so surely she owed it to herself to find out why? Once she had reached the grand cabinet she paced around it, reaching out her fingers to touch the smooth wood. Several times she paced round the outside of the cabinet, her fingers trailing round it as she ascertained its purpose and why on earth it was here in this large empty room. After her tenth time round the youngster realised there was a limit to the amount of information she could glean from walking round the outside of the cabinet and so she stopped in front of it and placed her hands on the worn handles. A shiver of energy rippled down her spine and for a moment everything felt as though she had been guided here for all the right reasons: this was her purpose.
After a inhaling slowly Leshia wrenched the cabinet doors open expecting to find something momentous inside…no, scrap that, she had expected to find at least something inside and not the emptiness that lay there.
"What?" the girl exclaimed sounding confused and she peered into the gloom of the wardrobe. Why on earth was it empty? Feeling incredibly downhearted, Leshia turned to go, but at the very last minute she decided to place one foot inside the cabinet. Her one foot was soon followed by the other and after a few moments she found herself to be entirely within the cupboard and shutting the doors firmly behind herself. Absolutely nothing happened.
"Oh this is ridiculous, Leshia what are you doing?" the girl sighed, getting angry at herself for being strange. Feeling put out to say the least she leant back into the doors in order to climb out of the cupboard and make her way back to the common room for a well-deserved bath, but it would seem this bath was going to have to wait. "Oh my…" The girl whispered in shock as she looked out the doors of the cabinet onto a vaguely familiar study. Where she had seen this room before she could not say, but it was the fact that she was in an entirely different location to the one she had stepped in from that had the girl so entirely shocked and confused. She was no longer at Hogwarts (and judging by the glorious sunshine shining in through the window Leshia could guess she was nowhere near the castle either)! With a shaking hand she stepped down from the cabinet and looked around, trying her hardest to work out where she had seen this place before.
"Ginny, the Daltons have invited us round for drinks this evening, Archie's just flooed round to tell me," the voice of Katie's father sounded from beyond the study door. In an instant everything clicked into place and Leshia remembered where she had seen this room before: it was Harry Potter's study. In a flash she darted back into the cabinet (barely registering that it was the same one that Draco had shrunk in order to transfer it from her house to Katie's) and shut the doors firmly behind herself, counting to ten with her eyes squeezed shut until her head started to swim with dizziness.
Five minutes passed, in which Leshia's mind went into overdrive. She had found the magical transporting cabinet on the Hogwarts end, and this meant she had found the secret passage linking Katie's house to their school home, but what could she do with this information? Obviously she was going to have to talk this over with her friends, but for now, she just had to hope that when she opened the doors she would find herself safely at Hogwarts once more. A cabinet that transported someone purely to Harry Potter's study and not back again was after all, not much use to Leshia. Eventually, when she had built up the courage Leshia pushed back into the door and peered out briefly, hoping to find the large empty room she had found the cabinet in.
"Yes!" she cheered loudly when she saw that indeed she was where she had wanted to be. She spared no time in darting from the cupboard and then out into the corridor. The Fat Lady in the portrait seemed most shocked as Leshia barked the password at her allowing her entrance into Gryffindor Tower.
"Leesh, we need to talk about practice on Saturday, I hear you've got yourself a detention," the voice of Mila, the Gryffindor captain, came as Leshia walked in the door.
"Sorry, no time!" Leshia exclaimed before she sprinted up to her dormitory, bursting in to find Katie and Rachel had changed from their wet PE clothes and into warmer and dryer outfits.
"Where's the fire?" Rachel asked amusedly as Leshia burst in with a huge grin on her face.
"You will never guess where I've just been," the blonde girl gushed excitedly as she ran over to her friends and dropped down in the window box between their beds.
"Um Leesh? Calm down," Katie said gently.
"No I will not calm down something amazing has just happened!" Leshia complained with a huge grin on her deliriously happy face.
"Your dad's decided that we don't have to do that killer long essay for Monday?" Rachel suggested meekly, eliciting a shake of the head from the excited girl. "I don't know, your mum's decided that we don't have to do her ridiculously difficult subject and we're all going to get Os anyway?" Again a shake of the head.
"Oh come on Leshia, spit it out, we want to go to the library and research the Order," Katie complained.
"Okay okay," Leshia quickly conceded and after making sure that Ashley and Nicola were nowhere to be seen she looked from one friend to the other with a large smile. "Your parents are going for drinks at the Daltons tonight." Rachel wrinkled her nose in confusion while Katie stared simply at the blonde girl wondering if she was a little funny in the head.
"Excuse me?" she finally asked tiredly.
"I think what Katie means is, what the heck are you talking about?" Rachel added with a cocky smile.
"Charlie Dalton just flooed to your house and invited your parents round for drinks," Leshia explained calmly.
"Well how would you know that?"
"Because, I've just been to your dad's study and back."
"She's lost it," Rachel finally said once the girl's had lulled into silence. "You've totally and utterly lost it mate you know that right?"
"Oh my God," Katie suddenly gasped and Leshia grinned at her, seeing that the quick-thinking clever girl had figured it all out. "The cabinet, you found the one on this end?"
"Yes!" Leshia exploded excitedly.
"Hang on, hang on," Rachel interrupted when the other two started dancing round the common room in a hyperactive victory dance. "What cabinet? What the heck are you talking about?"
"Oh God Rachel you've got the memory capacity of a goldfish!" Katie complained happily. "Don't you remember the cabinet that Draco brought round my house last week? The one that transported my dad to Hogwarts?"
"The one we got in trouble for because we were spying," Leshia cut in with a severe look, amazed that Rachel couldn't remember.
"Oh yeah, but…" The girl trailed off and then slowly it dawned on her what Leshia had found. "Oh my God!" Once more the victory dance resumed as the girls revelled in this new amazing information, after which they dropped down on Katie's bed and Leshia told them everything about her discovery of the cabinet and the strange room wherein it lay. On command Leshia led her friends there instantly, but upon rounding the corner onto the corridor where she had found the new strange door, she found the wall to be empty where it had once lay.
"I don't understand," Leshia explained in confusion. "I swear this is where it was." Her friends seemed highly dubious of the girl to the point that Leshia got angry with them. "Oh I am not making this up. Write to your parents Katie and ask them, ask them if they're going to the Daltons for drinks tonight!" With this Leshia turned on heel and stormed off to have the bath she had so been craving, leaving Katie and Rachel feeling the very solid wall opposite the tapestry depicting Barnabas the Barmy trying to teach trolls how to dance the ballet.
Leshia's foul mood lasted the entire evening and into the next day, when it can only be said to have got much worse. Snape revelled in the fact that the girl was in a disgusting mood and actively tried to worsen her spirit by asking her to do all manner of despicable tasks. That night when Leshia finally got to bed at one in the morning her eyes had never seemed so dark, nor her brow so furrowed.
Come Sunday morning everything was about to change with the arrival of a letter, brought to the table by a snowy white owl that went by the name of Hedwig.
"They replied quickly," Rachel remarked as Katie opened the parcel from her parents. For a moment her eyes paused on the page until she looked up at Leshia in amazement.
"You were right Leesh, they did you for drinks at the Daltons…how did…"
"I told you," Leshia said triumphantly and a small smiled pulled at her face. "That room is real and inside is the cabinet." Katie and Rachel's faces morphed into apologetic expressions that Leshia shrugged off. "After quidditch practice we're going to have to sit down and figure out what made that door appear when it did and how we can get it to do the same again."
The rain that had so battered the girls during their PE lesson that Friday, had not ceased over the weekend. In fact, it would not be a lie to say that the weather had in fact worsened and now one would have to be very foolish to step outside into it. The Gryffindor team had not got to the top without being foolish however, and their delayed practice was going ahead full throttle, in spite of the weather.
"This is madness!" Leshia called over the rain to her nearest team mate during one of their short breaks, a team mate she believed to be Tom Weasley.
"I completely agree!" the voice of Owen Gabriel replied. Feeling a little embarrassed that she was whining to the soon-to-be professional quidditch player Leshia forced away her complaints and flew a little closer to the young man. "I don't see how we're meant to see the end of our broom sticks let alone a ball in this weather. Don't see how you manage it Malfoy."
"What do you mean?" Leshia asked and by now she had reached the tall boy's side; she had to admit, he looked entirely at home on his broom, as though he had been born riding one. Seeing him on the ground one might believe him to look out of place on a thin broom, but boy they would be wrong. Owen Gabriel had never looked so good as he did sat atop his vintage revamped Firebolt.
"Well it's the snitch isn't it? Size of a walnut they are," the young man remarked cheerfully and he regarded the young girl at his side with a grin. "You don't do things by half do you?" Leshia frowned.
"What do you mean?" For a moment the girl could have sworn Owen looked at her in admiration, but after admonishing herself for her own big-headedness the moment was gone, and she merely saw the grinning face of Owen Gabriel for what it was, an innocent friendly smile.
"Ah nothing," Owen said with a shrug. "Oh look, Mila wants us to jump through some more hoops." Leshia sniggered with laughter and grinned at the keeper.
"See you on the ground," she said cheerfully, before darting across the pitch to where the captain had been hailing her over. After a training session that would have tested even the athletes of Team England, Mila let her team trudge inside soaking wet and starving. They had trained right through lunch and now the afternoon was wearing thin and dinner was soon to be served up. Leshia walked alongside the tall keeper joking with him over Ryan Lofting. Loyal to her once captain Leshia defended him from the playful remarks Owen Gabriel was making over the once Gryffindor heartthrob.
"Oh come on Malfoy," Owen laughed. "Lofting had a new girl going each week before that Julie girl tamed his heart."
"No he didn't," Leshia complained with a smile. "He was just…friendly that's all." Owen sniggered and shrugged his shoulders.
"Seriously though, out of anyone in this school, Ryan Lofting was the one I always wanted to be," the young man said softly, as though he were a little ashamed to admit it. Leshia grinned up at him in amazement.
"Ryan? You wanted to be Ryan? But you just said he was a womanising pretty-boy," she laughed. Owen grinned and shrugged.
"Don't we all want to be womanising pretty boys?" Leshia wrinkled her brow and was about to answer back that no, she had no desire to be a womanising pretty boy, when suddenly she fell into shadow. Without having to turn around she knew who stood behind her.
"Afternoon Professor Malfoy," Owen remarked cheerfully to the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, who alone out of all he had encountered this weekend, was tall enough to meet his eye line. Leshia felt like a child stood between the two tall men either side of her, and so she darted back, looking up at her father to see he was watching Owen Gabriel with an icy gaze.
"Hi dad," she said simply, as though reminding him of her presence and warning him to behave.
"I'll see you back at the common room," Owen told his smaller friend. "Well played today Malfoy." With this he slung his broom over his shoulder and waltzed off with the air and confidence that only a protégé of Ryan Lofting could carry off. Evidently Owen had been watching the young man for a long time to have so expertly mastered his mannerisms. Draco watched him go with narrowed eyes.
"Dad, don't," Leshia warned playfully. It was only for the fact that her mood sounded so improved upon since the last time that he saw his daughter, that Draco let the matter of that young man that was far too old for his daughter, drop. Granted, Owen Gabriel was only in fourth year (though he had already celebrated his fifteenth birthday within the first few days of the term) and therefore barely a year older than his little girl, and yes, he could see that their friendship was platonic and that the young man so far posed no threat to her innocence, but still, he didn't have to like it.
"You're mother wants you to come round for dinner this evening," Draco finally said as he turned to look his daughter in the eye. Leshia grinned and nodded.
"I'll be there." For a moment Draco beamed at her and nodded.
"Glad to hear it…I must say, I'm happy to hear you've cheered up since the last time we spoke."
"Yeah, I know. I'm really sorry about that. What can I say, hormones," Leshia said with a shrug, which turned into an involuntary shudder of cold. Her clothes were still drenched from the cruel rains that had accompanied their training session.
"Go on, go and change into something warm and dry. You're going to catch your death if you're not careful," Draco told the girl and he ruffled her soaking hair before disappearing down the corridor once more. Leshia rushed back to the dormitory and did just that, pulling on her cosiest and warmest clothes, before she ran down to the common room and curled up in the window box Rachel and Katie had been domineering with an exploding snap game.
"Mila push you hard did she?" Rachel remarked cheerfully as Leshia dropped down between the two friends, bringing her knees up to her chest.
"You have no idea, I swear she was a warden of Azkaban in a past life." Their conversation soon devolved into a discussion of Leshia's exact movements before she discovered the door they had not been able to encounter since. While Leshia was in practice Katie and Rachel had seemingly tried everything in order to make it appear."Maybe you just have to walk past it a few times," Leshia suggested. "I was pacing the corridor because I was in a mood."
"Nah, we tried that didn't we Katie?" Rachel countered.
"Well maybe you just have to be in a really bad mood," Katie suggested.
"Hey, I never said I was in a really bad mood, it was just a regular bad mood," Leshia countered defensively, though she was grinning at the raven-haired girl.
"Maybe you're the only one that can make it appear," Katie suggested and so the girls continued to speculate about the mysterious room and how they could make it appear. After an hour's speculation, and then a further hour's experimenting the girls had got incredibly bored of the magical disappearing room. It was now time for dinner and Leshia parted with her friends in order to join her parents in their chambers. Hermione had pulled out all the stops and her Sunday roast dinner was absolutely delicious. The family dynamic was entirely back to normal and Leshia regaled her parents with stories about her first days back.
"The other day, I found this room," Leshia suddenly said once the room had fallen into a comfortable silence. While using her fork to move an unwanted roast potato round her plate the girl felt a little awkward about asking her parents – after all, she didn't want them to know she had found the cabinet, and Draco was evidently aware of the room containing it as he had owned the matching Cabinet.
"Oh yeah, what sort of room?" Draco asked amusedly.
"Just this big room where I'm sure there didn't used to be one, and now we can't find it anymore," Leshia explained.
"Where was it?" Hermione inquired.
"Just round the corner from the Fat Lady." Leshia was aware of the look that passed between her parents and she decided to proceed with immense caution. She knew they could give her answers, but if she was too persistent then she would blow the whole thing and they might move the cabinet.
"What did this room look like?" Draco asked feigning innocent curiosity, concealing a steely determination to find out exactly what Leshia knew.
"Well, it was really big, with a huge vaulted ceiling and big windows. I didn't think it looked right, because it wouldn't have been able to fit in that tiny space between the stairs and the old classroom."
"And was there anything in it?" Draco persisted. Though at the time she hadn't known why she said it, afterwards Leshia thanked her lucky stars for the answer she gave in return to her father's insistent question,
"Just like, loads towels and stuff," she said with a shrug. It was instantly apparent that this was the answer her parents had been looking for and they both visibly relaxed.
"Were you thinking about being wet and cold as you walked past the door?" Hermione asked with a smile and Leshia nodded, her well-honed mind analysing what her mother had said: thoughts. It all depended on what you were thinking. So what had she been thinking as she walked past the door?
"It's just a laundry room the elves sometimes use," Draco told his daughter, giving Hermione a hard look as if warning her not to say any more. Leshia frowned at her father.
"A laundry room? That disappears?"
"Well there's no point in it always being around is there? The Elves can make it appear when they need it, you probably caught one in there when you found it." Leshia knew he was lying, and in a way Draco knew that the girl knew he was lying, but nothing could drag the truth about the Room of Requirement out of him. That room held the key to most shameful thing he had ever done and did not want his daughter opening the door onto all his past misdoings. He couldn't lose her.
"Okay," Leshia said simply, holding her father's gaze a little longer than normal, as if conveying to him that she would not look into the room if it upset him that much; a total lie of course, but after all, she was a Malfoy.
As soon as she stepped foot inside the dormitory to find Katie and Rachel working on their Defence Against the Dark Arts essays on their beds Leshia announced the secret to the mystery of the disappearing door. The girls were incredibly excited by her revelation and for the next ten minutes Leshia rubbed her temples as she tried to relive her furious pacing of the corridor. What had she been thinking?
"I remember!" she suddenly exclaimed triumphantly. "I was desperately trying to relax, and was wishing for something that would make me relax. Maybe that's why it appeared? Something about that cabinet is going to help me relax and get rid of all these stupid emotions that are whirring round my brain."
"Well what? Why will a transporting cabinet help?"
"More specifically, why will a cabinet that transports you to my house make your relax?" Katie reiterated. Leshia shrugged her shoulders and let her gaze drop onto Katie's nightstand, where a moving Wizard picture of the three girls when they were nine playing in the lake on the grounds at Potter Manor. They seemed to be having the most delightful fun in the most glorious of settings and instantly Leshia's brilliant idea came flooding back to her.
"We have to throw this year's Halloween party at your house!"
"What?" both cousins suddenly exclaimed: Rachel with glee and Katie in horror.
"Think about it, how the heck were we going to top last year's bash? It was fan-bloody-tastic, but if we could get everyone off the grounds, then maybe people wouldn't mind there not being any celebrities around."
"No Leshia, absolutely not," Katie said firmly as Rachel shuffled round to join Leshia's side and match her pleading expression.
"Where's the harm in it? We wouldn't be in the house, we'd just be down the end of the grounds. That lake is nowhere near your house."
"Yes, but I think my parents might notice hundreds of Hogwarts pupils traipsing through my dad's study in order to get out into the garden."
"Well we could move the cabinet," Rachel suggested.
"No," Katie insisted icily.
"Or we could make sure that they're not in?" Leshia suggested.
"Oh yeah, and how are we going to do that?" Katie demanded.
"I don't know, my parents could invite them to Hogwarts for dinner or something…" Leshia trailed off as the pieces of her brilliant plan slotted together. "Yes! That is exactly what we would do. I could put the idea in my parents' heads and they could have their own little party here with Rachel's dad and maybe some of your uncles and Grandma Weasley and your grandfather. That would be amazing, because then they'd certainly be distracted and we could keep popping back to make sure they were all still having a good time."
"Yeah! And when they started to leave we could stall them to make sure one of us had enough time to get everyone back through the cabinet." Katie remained in silence while Rachel and Leshia veritably bounced up and down on her bed in excitement. The pair of them were spinning out of control and if Katie was going to put a stop to this nonsense before they got out of control she was going to have to say something soon, but somehow, her tongue didn't want to start moving and she merely sat there and listened until eventually she merely nodded.
"If this room generates whatever you want, then surely it could generate the party supplies for us and we could bring them through the cabinet?" she suggested when Leshia and Rachel started planning the supplies and where they would find them. Both girls stopped jabbering and looked at their raven-haired friend with huge smiles.
"Yes!" they finally cheered and fell on the girl in a hug.
"Thank you Katie, you will not regret this!"
Over the following days the girls never got the chance to truly try out their theory on how to get the magical door opposite the tapestry to appear, it was the following Friday that they got the opportunity of an empty corridor. Leshia was the one selected to start pacing and wishing for the cupboard to appear and amazingly, it worked on the first try and the door appeared. The girls spared no time and darted inside, finding themselves inside the large room containing the cupboard, and now, containing many other fun looking items.
"Amazing," Katie gasped as she approached the cupboard. "So this will really take me to my dad's study?"
"Get in and try it," Leshia said with a grin while she peered through the items scattered around the room.
"What if my dad's in there?"
"Well just push the door open a little, he'll never notice," Leshia encouraged. Feeling a sudden rush of courage Katie stepped inside the cupboard and did as Leshia instructed, shutting the doors behind herself and waiting a few moments. When she was sure she had waited long enough she forced away the tremors running through her body and pushed the door open a fractional amount.
Harry Potter was sat in the armchair by the hearth speaking with someone's face in the fire Katie knew to be an old friend of her parents, a woman that went by the name of Tonks. The girls had always feared this woman for her metamorphosing capabilities, though they had been forced to get used to her due to her being married to their favoured 'uncle' Remus. Seemingly quite sensible with brown hair in a spiky cut and a reasonable sized nose, Tonks was looking pretty, though incredibly frazzled; her sons Henry and Horatio, aged nine and ten respectively, were driving her up the wall with their endless battling.
"Honestly Harry, I don't know what to do with them," Tonks groaned tiredly. "Horatio keeps metamorphosing into something frightening to terrify Henry, and their squabbling is driving me up the wall. Why couldn't they both have been born Metamorphmagi, then they could have terrorised one another and the little one wouldn't keep having to run to me for cover."
"Or neither," Harry suggested cheerfully.
"Too right mate, are you sure you don't want them? Just for the day?" Harry chuckled genially.
"Tonks I know I'm missing my kids, but even I wouldn't take on your two. They'd tear the house down." Katie felt a pang of emotion for her father as she heard him admitting to missing 'his kids'; not merely Michael, but 'his kids', which definitely included her as well.
"Well look, the reason I'm dropping by is to tell you I won't be able to make it to the meeting this evening. Remus will be round as usual, but the babysitter has cancelled again and it's my turn to stay and supervise the two Furies and make sure they don't kill each other."
"Okay Tonks," Harry laughed. "Well I'm sure Remus will keep you informed. I don't think there's too much to discuss. We don't have nay new information on Lucius' whereabouts, and even when we do get some new information Draco refuses to discuss it."
"What does Hermione see in that man," Tonks sighed heavily, with only a hint of amusement. Harry grinned wryly.
"Tonks," he warned. "You have to let it drop. Draco's on our side now, and he has been for a long time."
"There's still something about him that I don't trust. Why didn't he tell the Order that Lucius was still at large? He only spilled the beans when Leshia came under threat." Harry remained silent; he had no answers for these kinds of questions.
"The important thing is that he did tell us eventually, he's the one that called us all together again in the first place, and it's a good thing he did. The dark following is on the rise again Tonks, it's our duty to fight it off before he has a chance to rise again. Finding Lucius is of utmost…"
"Don't talk about it here Harry, you never know who might be listening," Tonks warned the bespectacled young man, who instantly fell silent, and as if on cue Harry looked around himself for anyone that may be listening in. Katie felt her heart stop as his eyes drifted over her position in the wardrobe, but he did not notice the door standing minutely ajar and returned his gaze to Tonks in the fireplace. Not needing to hear any more Katie pulled the door shut as gently and silently as she could before she rested her head against the back of he cabinet. There was too much to take in.
Finally she dared to push the door open again and she did so onto the bickering fight Rachel and Leshia were having inches away from the cabinet.
"There you are!" Rachel exclaimed, while Leshia donned an intensely relieved expression. "Leshia was about to burst in on you, but I was sure you'd probably get evaporated into smithereens if she tried to get in while you were in there." Leshia rolled her eyes and play-glared at the redhead before she noticed the look on Katie's face.
"Oh God, you didn't get caught did you?"
"No," Katie assured them and she stepped down from the cabinet. "My dad was in there though. He was talking to Tonks in the hearth."
"Ugh, not that woman," Leshia grumbled, feeling a prickle of anger towards the Metamorphmagus. She had never liked Tonks due to the prickly nature she assumed whenever her father was within the vicinity.
"She and my dad were talking, about the Order of the Phoenix," Katie explained with a shaky voice. Leshia and Rachel fell completely silent and watched her with wide eyes. "I know what they are, they're a secret group who fight the dark gathering of Voldemort. They said…they said that it's on the rise again, and that they have no idea where your grandfather is." Katie missed out the part about Tonks' distrust for Draco.
"They're a secret club?" Leshia asked with a frown. "Who fight Voldemort?" Katie nodded while Leshia's shoulders drooped. "Is that all?"
"What do you mean 'all'?" Rachel sniggered. "I think that's pretty gutsy."
"Yeah but…surely everyone back then was fighting Voldemort, and were he to rise again, wouldn't we all fight him this time?" Leshia said simply, feeling disappointed by the nature of the secret club her parents were part of.
"Well I think it's pretty cool," Rachel said cheerfully. "Imagine if we were part of a secret club, fighting…I don't know, Allseyer?" Rachel and Katie sniggered with laughter while Leshia's mind clicked onto an idea.
"That's not al that bad an idea," she finally mused aloud. "I mean think about it. All that weird stuff that happened last week with everyone being followed and sinister feelings of doom following us all about the place. Maybe we should form our own group, for the protection of Hogwarts and its pupils from the Slytherin scum and all who side with them?"
"Leesh! That's a brilliant idea!" Rachel gushed happily. "I bet you loads of people would join and…"
"But that's not the point," Katie interrupted with a small smile. "Is it Leshia?" Leshia nodded and grinned at the tall girl, who had read her mind like a book. "It's about an elite few who keep the masses safe without them knowing…just like our parents and the Order of the Phoenix." The girls trailed into silence while they each pondered the possibilities. As one they all broke into chatter about who they would invite and how they would meet, and arrange their meetings. The children were aware of the club their parents had founded during school, the so called 'Dumbledore's Army', and instantly they started pilfering ideas about secret contracts and coins that changed colour when their meetings were to be held. Leshia was defiant in copying their ideas, claiming they had to make up their own, Rachel and Katie were inclined to disagree and so the girls sat for several hours throwing their ideas around until their stomachs started to rumble and they realised dinner had started long ago.
"But wait a minute," Rachel told the others as they headed for the door. "What are we going to call ourselves?" The girls once more plunged into silence while they looked around themselves for inspiration. Leshia's eyes fell on the Hogwarts crest on Rachel's jumper, and she observed the Gryffindor Lion seemingly wrestling with the snake of Slytherin, beneath which the blue Eagle of Ravenclaw seemed to join the battle. Before, when they had been discussing members, their Ravenclaw friends' names had been prominent in a mainly Gryffindor cast and so the name that suddenly conjured up in Leshia's head seemed apt, almost like an amalgamation of the two strong houses.
"The Blue Lions," the girl announced. There was no argument, and so although the afternoon had been spent arguing the finer details of their new secret club for the protection of Hogwarts, the name that their club was to adopt was decided in a matter of seconds. The Blue Lions had crept into existence.
Draco stared grimly at the door that his wife had just slammed behind herself, before she had promptly started regurgitating her dinner in the toilet. She had been fine all day and the pair had been enjoying an intimate conversation in front of the fireplace in the living room of their family quarters, when suddenly she felt the sickness rise in her throat and she had raced from the room with a certain sense of urgency. The young man waited patiently, until eventually a rather green-faced Hermione reappeared.
"How are you feeling?" Draco asked sounding concerned, eliciting a shrug from his wife before she dropped down on the bed at his side, leaning her forehead on his shoulder.
"I'm sorry, it's nothing serious," she sighed.
"You should go and see Poppy, she'll fix you." Hermione laughed warmly.
"There's nothing wrong darling, it's probably just a tummy bug, half my fifth year class was off this afternoon with something, maybe I've caught that."
"But Poppy can cure tummy bugs," Draco countered with a wry smile, knowing his wife was too stubborn to seek out help.
"Darling I can fix tummy bugs, I'll just have an early night," the young woman said firmly as she shuffled up the bed and pulled the quilt over herself. "I'm sorry I won't be able to come with you to the meeting. You'd better get going or you'll be late."
"I'm not going without you," Draco said firmly, eliciting laughter from his wife. She knew he wasn't trying to be gallant, that he wasn't offering to stay behind for her sake. She knew it was because he didn't want to go to a meeting with those people, their friends, without her because they would gang up on in, which she was ashamed to say, they often did.
"You have to go," Hermione said with a sweet smile. "One of us has to be there."
"But…" Draco began pleadingly, cutting himself off when he saw the firm smile on Hermione's stubborn face; he was not going to win this one. Sure enough, ten minutes later he was throwing a handful of floo powder into the fire and reluctantly calling out the name of the meeting place of the Order of the Phoenix,
"Twelve Grimmauld Place." In a whir of green fire he was gone reappearing moments later in the kitchen of the refurbished house. Since the days of the second rise of Voldemort in the nineties, and ownership of the Black family residence had fallen to Harry, he had ensured that it be refurbished to it's former glory, with fewer dark undertones of course. Nobody lived there still, but it still served the purpose of 'safe house' and the most well guarded location for secret meetings.
As usual, there was a hive of activity in the kitchen where innumerable redheads separated the many peculiar faces and fascinating members of the Order of the Phoenix. It was the best turnout since that very first meeting Draco had called to announce that one Death Eater still remained and there was a chance that Voldemort's second return was going to be sooner rather than later. They had always known that he would return, that the hidden and unknown eighth Horcrux would be responsible for unleashing the monstrous being that was Voldemort back on the world, but they had not truly expected it to be in their lifetimes. With no Death Eaters to aid him, the threat of Voldemort's return seemed a distant one, but Lucius' survival had thrown a spanner into the works and now it was of utmost importance to find him.
Upon arriving in the kitchen, Draco received very little attention and he was glad for it, managing to slink away to a quiet corner where he could watch the other members without receiving any unwanted attention in return. From the relatively quiet corner of the kitchen beside the pantry he watched in amazement as everybody chattered and caught up. How could these people make so much noise? And why weren't they getting on with it so that he could return to his poor sick wife?
"Alright there Malfoy?" The blonde man turned to see Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter had located him, and he managed a nod of recognition to them.
"Hermione not with you?" Harry asked with a frown of concern.
"No, she's feeling under the weather," Draco explained.
"Nothing serious I hope?" the dark-haired man enquired.
"Well you know what Hermione's like, even if it were, she'd insist it's nothing and suffer it out," Draco sighed and for the umpteenth time since his turning to the 'good' side as it were, Harry marvelled at the change in the young man. The genuine concern for his wife was clear as day on his handsome face; complete love and concern for another human being was not something Harry felt him capable of, and now Draco Malfoy would readily sacrifice himself for two people, his wife and his daughter. The change in him was remarkable.
"And how have the girls been?" Ron asked, wanting to see how his daughter was fairing, she had seemed so unlike herself this summer with the situation between himself and Lavender; it had hurt him greatly. Draco gave the men a wry look and rolled his eyes.
"Troublesome," he sighed.
"Nothing's changed then," Harry chuckled.
"You may laugh, but you're not the one that has to deal with their shenanigans on a daily basis," Draco complained only half-seriously. "I swear they're worse then you lot were. They're always on some damn crusade or other. Why can't they just leave it be?"
"Why, what are they after now?"
"I don't know, but Leshia found the Room of Requirement the other day."
"Did she find the…"
"No," Draco said quickly with a brusque shake of his head. "She was wet and cold, so it provided lots and lots of towels." Harry and Ron chuckled.
"Sounds about right," the red-haired man said with a grin. "I do miss Hogwarts."
"But if she found the room, then she might find the cabinet," Harry mused aloud. Draco looked to him with eyes narrowed in thought, before he nodded. "Maybe you should move it?"
"To where?" Draco sighed. "That room is the safest place in the whole school. A mere fraction of the student body know of its existence and even then you'd have to be requiring something that the cabinet could help with, and even then, what pupil would climb in the cabinet to see what it did?" Harry and Ron exchanged a look.
"Our daughters," they finally replied in unison.
"They won't find it." With this the conversation was over, and in time for Albus Dumbledore to call silence over the room and for everybody to take a seat, or a place along the wall. The three men stayed where they were and were soon joined by Ginny, who took her place beside Harry granting him a beaming smile as she did so.
Predictably, the meeting started out with any accounts of unusual activity pertaining to Voldemort of his Dark Following. A lot of dark activity had apparently been observed (hence the large turnout) and for the first two hours people heard about the glaringly obvious fact that the dark following of Voldemort was picking up speed again. No one in the room doubted it was due to Lucius Malfoy, after all at their annual meeting the year before, there had been barely anything to report, and now, everybody had a few things to say. By the end of the show-and-tell-like discussion, all eyes were fixed on Draco, who alone had not said a word, and nobody seemed impressed.
"Have you heard any news at all Draco?" Dumbledore enquired almost hopefully; he knew of Draco's nature and had long forgiven him for keeping everything close to his chest. Whenever Draco shared, it was always unexpected and almost always unpleasant; so in truth the ageing Headmaster had no idea whether Draco had new information to give or not. After a while Draco shook his head slowly.
"No, I haven't heard anything, none of my contacts have seen him," he said icily, feeling bemused by the amount of attention aimed at him.
"Nothing at all?" Molly Weasley asked in disbelief, her expression one of dislike; she had never been able to warm up to Draco Malfoy.
"No Molly, nothing at all." An unpleasant silence filled the room, which was only broken when Bill Weasley shook his head in the corner, muttering something under his breathe. Draco, well used to the group's mistrust of him, held his tongue, though he could feel his temper rising and desperately wished that Hermione were by his side. Bill's utterance however, seemed to spur the rest on.
"How can you not know anything? You're his son, surely you know where he'd go?" Molly demanded.
"I do not know where he is," Draco said slowly and deliberately.
"You must know something," Elphias Doge, an ageing member of the Order who had not been present at the last six meetings, but had encountered a rather unpleasant group of Goblins claiming to be the Dark Lord's servants and therefore felt he had to let everyone know what had happened.
"Why should we believe him?" Hestia Jones, another member of the Order who had risen in status since the last rise of Voldemort due to her single-handed defeat of three Death Eaters since his demise. "He lied to us before. You told us you'd killed Lucius the night of the Great Battle Malfoy, and instead you just transported him to the Andes."
"Oh why do we always have to come back to this?" Ron groaned. "Just leave him alone, he had his reasons."
"Yeah, it's not like the rest of you have never done something you later regret," Harry added and the two men stood beside Draco shoulder to shoulder, looking at everyone in a manner that simply dared them to continue this discussion.
"Yes," Molly said simply. "When I have a second helping of cake after tea I later regret it, but aside from my thighs, that isn't hurting anyone is it? What he did is unacceptable, and I don't see why he's still in the order." Snap.
"I've had enough of this," Draco said darkly and he pushed himself off from the counter he had been leaning against and made his way for the door.
"Draco, please do not leave," Albus tried to call after him, but the young man was gone, leaving the Order annoyed and also a little scared.
"Leshia wake up!" the call came moments before a weight landed squarely on Leshia's shins. Yelping, the blonde girl leapt from her bed to find that her assailant had been Rachel, who was looking rather pleased with herself.
"What's the matter with you? It's a Saturday!" Leshia complained angrily and she rubbed hr sore legs.
"I can't believe you're forgotten Leesh! Don't you remember what day it is?"
"The day I thump you for being an annoying so-and-so?"
"Hogsmeade Leshia! We're going to Hogsmeade!" The change in the blonde girl was instantaneous as she suddenly grinned fit to burst and did a silly victory dance round the room. Within the hour the girls were stood dressed, fed and watered waiting in line with the other pupils lucky enough to have had permission slips signed and handed in by the first Friday of term, while their names were ticked off on a list by the caretaker Filch. As the girls reached the peculiar Squib he cast them a foul look, before nodding them on.
"What was his problem?" Katie asked curiously as they set off down the wide drive heading towards the gates bearing the winged boar statues. Only once before had one of them traversed the lane from Hogwarts to Hogsmeade by foot, and this was Leshia, on the occasion where she had sprinted towards the train station to stop her father giving up his job and going to China in the first year. Now the occasion couldn't have been any more different, as the late summer sun basked them with warmth and a hundred other students or so joined their ranks on the march into town.
"Maybe he's still upset about his favourite bathroom door having to be unhinged," Leshia suggested cheerfully.
"But that wasn't our fault!"
"Katie this is Filch we're talking about, the man's insane, I think we've already established that," Leshia laughed.
"So how are we going to inaugurate the new members of the Blue Lions?" Katie asked cheerfully once a comfortable silence between the girls had lasted long enough for them to pass through the gates of the school ensuring a sliver of excitement ran through the girls; they so rarely got to leave the grounds.
"Inaurguwhat?" Rachel asked with a wrinkled nose. Katie fixed her cousin a superior smile while the redhead turned to Leshia with raised hands. The blonde girl was looking equally as puzzled however. "You two are useless," Katie laughed. "It means swear in, how are we going to swear in the new members? Shall we have another initiation?"
"Katie you dark horse," Leshia remarked amusedly. "I didn't think you liked the initiation ceremony we gave the first years last year?"
"Well it was rather funny to see them transfigured into chickens."
"I don't think we should do initiation with the club," Rachel said thoughtfully. "We want these people to join, not scare them off."
"True," Leshia mused. "But we do have to find some way of making them swear to keep what goes on in our club secret. And how on earth will we do that?"
"We could do what our parents did," Katie suggested and she quickly continued to explain her rationale when she saw the tetchy look cross Leshia's face, "I know how you feel about copying them, but Leesh, what your mum thought up was ingenious!"
"Yes, but what my mum did didn't prevent people from telling secrets did it? It just made sure that when they broke the rules and told on the group, then they'd have nasty great big pimples show up on their face, by which point our group's secrets will still be told."
"Do I sense a long and boring trip to the library coming on?" Rachel sighed heavily, and she lamented her suggestion when both Katie and Leshia seemed dead-set on just that. The girls pondered what books they might research in order to find a spell or jinx that would prevent people from spilling a certain secret they had been asked to keep, the rest of the trip down the lane towards the village.
As they reached it, thoughts of the Blue Lions and of their impending research trip to the library were knocked from their heads when their eyes fell on the picturesque village. Several of the older students were making their way into the Three Broomsticks, which was the first thatched building the lane encountered.
"I've heard about that place, Madam Rosmerta does a wicked butterbeer," Rachel told her friends and so they decided to pay the tavern a visit. They fought their way through the crowds to the bar and were soon served by the Lady of the Tavern herself.
"What can I get you loves?" she asked the girls, and as she glanced up at their faces she did a visible double take. "Bless my heart," she chuckled. "Is it that time already?"
"Time for what?" Leshia asked with a frown.
"Another generation," the proprietor of the tavern laughed genially. The girls seemed none the wiser. "I remember your parents, I've seen Hermione around, but never would have guessed that you lot were this age already. My how time flies."
"You remember our parents?" Katie asked with a frown and she was granted a big smile by the barwoman.
"Yes of course, you're Harry and Ginny's girl," the woman observed. "You're just like both of them. And you," she continued as she turned her gaze on Rachel. "Ronald Weasley, yes I remember him very well." In an instant Leshia remembered something her mother had teased her father on a very long time ago when they seemed to get along.
"My dad fancied you," the girl exclaimed in amazement, eliciting a hearty laughter from the busty barwoman.
"Yes, I believe he did, poor thing."
"You've seen my mum around, but what about my dad, don't you ever see him?" Leshia asked curiously, and was surprised by the dark look that sprung onto the woman's face.
"Don't see him," she said quietly, anger lacing her tone. "He's barred."
"What? Why?" Leshia asked in surprise, but her question was ignored as the proprietor of the Three Broomsticks forced a false smile onto her face.
"Well my dears, it's lovely to meet you all, what may I assume your names are?"
"I'm Rachel, this is Katie and that's Leshia."
"Very well, now then what can I get you Rachel, Katie and Leshia?" Moments later the girls were carrying their tankards of cool butterbeer to a free booth in the corner, where they dropped down and enjoyed the first few sips of the frothy drink in silence, relishing in the delightful taste.
"She seemed nice," Rachel said cheerfully.
"Did your dad really fancy her?" Leshia sniggered, earning herself a playful punch on the arm from the Weasley girl.
"You can't talk, your dad went out with that ghastly Pansy Parkinson woman." Not needing to be reminded of the appalling woman her father had once courted, and had consequently made plenty of passes at him the year before, and curious over her father's barring from the tavern she looked at Madam Rosmerta from across the tavern and frowned.
"I wonder why she hates my dad," she wondered aloud. Leshia and Rachel shrugged their shoulders."You've said yourself, a lot of people hate him," Rachel suggested.
"Well yeah, but why would she hate him? I mean she seemed genuinely afraid of him. I'll have to ask him." Contemplating what her father could have done to the barwoman Leshia quietened down while she watched the occupants of the tavern. There was certainly an abundance of colourful characters and she could have quite happily spent the afternoon wiling away watching them, but all of a sudden two familiar and beaming faces parted the crowds. Leshia's first instinct upon seeing them was to rejoice, but when she realised that one of them was directing his beaming smile at Katie she soon turned sour and wanted them to disappear.
"Morning ladies," Rodeo called to the girls cheerfully as he and Parys dropped down around the girls' table with their own tankards of butterbeer.
"This place is amazing, we're going to go to the sweetshop after this and stock up," Parys told the girls delightedly and his handsome face seemed almost childlike with the glee it was currently expressing. Leshia had never felt so fond of him as she did now, and it must have been clear in her face because all of a sudden she found herself to be the focus of a glare cast by Rodeo. Feeling indescribably put out Leshia dropped her gaze to the table and fiddled with her tankard while the boys explained in great detail all the places they had been waiting to explore for many a year. Katie was in her element as Rodeo evidently lavished attention on her and at times it was quite uncomfortable for the rest of them, but the raven-haired girl didn't seem to notice.
Rachel was particularly upset with Katie, as was Parys with Rodeo; couldn't they see what their blatant flirting was doing to Leshia? And how could they be so insensitive as to do it right under her nose? To Parys there wad the added confusion as to what on earth was wrong with Rodeo to pick Katie over Leshia? He was mad, the dark haired boy concluded, completely and utterly mad. Yes Rodeo had confided in him that he felt Leshia would never go out with him, but he was blind or stupid if he could not see that the girl had feelings for him. Parys only wished she would feel that way about him.
"Come on Rodes," Parys said loudly when he couldn't stand the pain on Leshia's face any longer. "Better get going before all the shops close." Rodeo grinned to his friend and jumped to his feet, grinning at the girls gallantly.
"See you later," he said cheerfully before making his way out of the tavern with Parys in pursuit. Before the dark-haired boy followed him however, he reached out and ruffled Leshia's hair and offered a big grin, before he followed his friend. Leshia felt indescribably cheered up by his gesture.
"I think you should go out with Parys," Katie said with a big grin. Leshia managed to keep the scowl off her face as she shook her head.
"We're just friends," she managed and even though Katie was blind to Leshia's feelings, Rachel wasn't, so she quickly headed off a collision of tempers by spilling her tankard all down herself, eliciting raucous laughter from her friends. In much better spirits Katie and Leshia finished their drinks and then they were off. Within the hour they had bought bags full of sweets, several new irresistible objects from the branch of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes that had opened in Hogsmeade several years ago, and also a few spare quills – Katie had insisted her two friends purchase some, after all, they never knew when they would run out. With their loot tucked under their arms in their satchels, the girls ambled to the edge of the village where they had been told by their older cousins lay the Shrieking Shack, the most haunted house in Britain.
"Doesn't look that scary," Leshia remarked as she leaned against the barbed wire fence that separated them from the grounds of the crooked house. Katie shuddered by her side.
"I think it's terrifying," she whispered.
"It's not that frightening Katie," Rachel piped up cheerfully. "Let's go for a closer look."
"No! Can we go please?"
"What?" both Leshia and Rachel exclaimed.
"Katie don't be such a wuss and let's go," Leshia complained, but she halted when she saw the strange look come over Rachel's face as well. "Oh not you as well. What's the matter with you? Two seconds ago you were well up for going up there."
"I don't know Leesh, I feel strange," Rachel said worriedly and she shivered despite the warmth of the waning sun making the temperature quite pleasant. As though she were a catalyst, Leshia too felt a shudder of cold run through her body and she finally cottoned on to the fear her friends were exhibiting. For some indescribable reason, she wanted to run; to get far away from this place.
"Yeah," she said bravely. "Maybe we should go." On cue, all three girls suddenly burst into a run, but before she had even managed to take a step Leshia was painfully wrenched backwards by her hair. "I'm stuck!" she yelped. "Help!" Her friends darted back to her side and pushed Leshia's head forward revealing her beautiful golden curls and somehow become terribly entangled in the barbed wire of the fence.
"Oh God," Rachel whispered as she shivered in the sunlight.
"Rachel don't just stand there, help!" Katie complained desperately, and the two girls set about trying to pry their friend's hair off the fence. The insurmountable feeling of fear was building within them, and each one was certain that their impending doom was near. Something sinister, something twisted, dark and evil was approaching them, and if they couldn't get Leshia freed then they would be done for.
"Hurry," Leshia cried out in a terrified tone as her friends hurt her poor head by wrenching her hair from the fence.
"What's that smell?" Katie asked suddenly and she stopped attacking Leshia's hair momentarily to step back and smell the air with eyes wide in terror.
"Katie!" Rachel complained, but at this moment she'd managed to free the last of Leshia's golden curls and the girls were away, not daring to look behind themselves for fear of what they might find. They didn't stop running until they reached the centre of town, where they headed for the first friendly faces they could find: Owen Gabriel and his friends. Needless to say the young man was surprised when Leshia threw her arms round his shoulders, trembling from head to toe.
"What's happened?" he asked sounding concerned. "Leshia?" he pressed when the girl ignored him.
"We were just at the shrieking shack," Leshia explained shakily as she pulled away from the boy, far too scared for shame and embarrassment. "When suddenly this really sinister horrible feeling came over us. There's something out there Owen, something that wanted to hurt us!" At this Owen's two friends sniggered, but they were quickly silenced by a hard look from the tall boy.
"Come on." He led the girls back to the Three Broomsticks where Madam Rosmerta served them all another round of Butterbeers (remarking, "Back so soon?" when she saw them). Owen led them to a booth and then assured them that he was going to go investigate. Within ten minutes he was back to find the girls hadn't touched their drinks and were still frozen to the spot in fear. His news was not encouraging.
"There was nothing there," he said with a frown as he dropped down at the table. "Whatever it was is long gone. You didn't get a look at it?"
"I was stuck to a fence," Leshia said very softly, before her face finally crumpled in embarrassment. "I'm so sorry Owen! I'm so embarrassed." The young man grinned at her dashingly and shook his head.
"Don't be, glad I could help," he said cheerfully, before he climbed back to his feet again. "I can never resist a damsel in distress." With this he nodded to the girls and went off to join his friends, they were heading back to the castle. For a further ten minutes the girls sat in silence while each managed to conjure up the strength to drink a little of their new tankards of butterbeer. Finally Leshia managed to speak,
"I have no idea what just happened," she concluded.
"Do you think it was real?" Rachel asked worriedly. Leshia and Katie frowned at her, before nodding firmly.
"Of course it was, we're not exactly going to manufacture feelings of pure evil out of nowhere are we?" Katie complained. "What has me worried was that strange smell, didn't you smell it?"
"It was the smell of death," Rachel whispered darkly, and after turning to look at her with two furrowed brows her friends started laughing for the first time since they had wandered over to the Shrieking Shack.
By evening the girls had shaken off the feeling of doom they had encountered in Hogsmeade, and Leshia had since profusely apologised to Owen Gabriel, who seemed perfectly fine with the fact that Leshia had used him as a human shield. He seemed quite flattered in fact. Starving now, the girls were very much looking forward to dinner, but it would seem that before they would get the chance to take their seats, they were going to have to overcome a hurdle.
"Well, well, well," the unpleasant voice of Damian Allseyer came, moments before the ghastly boy himself made an appearance, creeping out from behind a pillar in the entrance hall. Leshia glared at him firmly. For a moment the boy matched her glare, before suddenly he donned a terrified expression and pointed behind Leshia. "Oh no!" he exclaimed in fear, and still feeling edgy the girls spun around. "There's a shadow behind you!"
"Oh very funny," Leshia fumed as she spun around to find the Slytherins doubled over in laughter. How on earth had they found out?
"What's the matter Malfoy? Would you like me to fetch that incompetent bean pole Gabriel to make it all better?"
"You shut your mouth Allseyer, you have no idea what you're talking about." In a flash it happened, and later Leshia regretted letting her temper get the better of her, but at the time it had felt so satisfying to reach out and punch the unpleasant boy right in the mouth. Damian Allseyer bent over in pain, clutching his bloody mouth in surprise, while Leshia stared at her hand in amazement. What had she just done?
"Miss Malfoy!" the shocked voice of Professor Lewis came and Leshia spun around to find that her assault on the boy had been monitored by the new Muggle Studies teacher.
"I…" she began, unable to defend her action.
"Detention! My study after classes on Monday," Professor Lewis told the girl firmly. "You will not go around hitting other students."
"But she was provoked sir," Rachel tried.
"Rach don't," Leshia quickly told her friend, not wanting her to be dragged down with her.
"I shall be informing Professor McGonagall about this, for which I am sure she will want to take further action also." Leshia hung her head ashamedly while Professor Lewis placed his hand on Allseyer's arm. "Come along, I'll take you to the hospital wing." After the teacher had led away the injured boy his friends glared firmly at Leshia before walking off muttering about demands to have the girl expelled. Leshia felt indescribably low and over dinner she barely said a word, despite the enthusiastic conversations being thrown around about the day's Hogsmeade visit.
Once the pupils had enjoyed their fill and were making their way back to their respective common rooms Leshia darted from her friends' sides claiming she needed to let off steam. They knew where she was going and so left her to it while she made her way to the painting that concealed her parents' quarters.
"Hello?" the called out when she found the living room deserted. A muffled cry came from the bathroom and within moments Leshia had darted through the empty bedroom to find the bathroom door locked with the sounds of her mother being sick coming from beyond it. "Mum? Are you okay?" There was no reply, and for five minutes the girl waited on tenterhooks until finally her mother appeared looking very sick indeed. "Mum what's wrong?"
"Oh it's nothing darling," Hermione assured her daughter and she scooped the girl into a hug. "I'm just feeling a little under the weather." Leshia helped her mother through to the living room where she quickly made her a cup of tee and then curled up by her side. "Now then, I hear you've been going around hitting other students," Hermione remarked lightly, though a small smile pulled at her mouth.
"Not students plural mum, just one, and it was only once and I am sorry, I didn't mean to, he just provoked me," Leshia explained ashamedly; she knew how much her mother objected to physical violence.
"Leshia promise me this vendetta the two of you share isn't growing violent again? I could not bear to find you in pieces in the hospital wing again, I truly couldn't."
"I know. It won't come to that."
"You should apologise to him before he can turn his thoughts to revenge."
"I am not apologising to Allseyer!" Hermione sighed, before she smiled broadly.
"You really are just like your father aren't you? I'm happy you've forgiven him for whatever he did that so insulted you. It destroys him when you're unhappy with him." Leshia hung her head feeling rotten, why did she have to cause her parents such grief?
"About dad, well, we were in the Three Broomsticks earlier and the barwoman there, I think she's called Madam Rosmerta or something, well, she didn't like dad very much." A cold look crossed Hermione's pretty face, and it was one that didn't go unnoticed by Leshia. "I was wondering if you could tell me why?"
"He used to play pranks in that pub when we were in school," Hermione lied, telling her daughter the practiced line Draco had thought up when he realised Leshia would soon find out about Rosmerta's intense dislike of him. She had never been able to forgive him for putting her under the Imperius curse when he was in sixth year and had since barred him from stepping foot within the three Broomsticks. Fearing if Leshia found out why he was barred that she would then find out what else had happened during his last few years of school, Draco had begged the barwoman not to tell the girl anything. Begrudgingly, and only because there was a child involved, Rosmerta had agreed. However, not Hermione had to lie to her child, which was something she was loath to do.
"What sort of pranks?" Leshia asked with a frown.
"Oh you know the wicked things your father did," Hermione told her daughter firmly, trying to head her off. "I'd rather not talk about it darling, I don't like to remember him that way." This much was true and Leshia couldn't put her mother trough any pain, so she backed off. The girl seemed incredibly glum.
"Cheer up darling, please," Hermione said softly and she kissed the top of the girl's head. "Things are going to get better around here, just you wait."
"You know something don't you?" Leshia suddenly exclaimed with a frown. "What's happening?" Hermione's eyes twinkled and she shook her head.
"Now that would ruin the surprise."
"Be patient Leesh, I'm sure Albus is going to tell you all tomorrow."
"Tell us what?"
"My lips are sealed!"
All throughout the following day the girls contemplated what this surprise could be, while they attempted to do the piles of homework they had been set. Leshia was briefly excused from her work to attend a quidditch session in which she played very well and even managed to meet Owen Gabriel's eye. He didn't seem perturbed by her behaviour the day before and was actually amused by the whole thing, but this did not stop Leshia's cheeks from burning when she thought of the way she had thrown herself at him.
Dinner time finally dragged by and the girls ate very little as their conversation from earlier had spread to the rest of the table and now everyone in Gryffindor house knew that some sort of surprise was going to be revealed. Most of the girls in the house had their hopes pinned on a ball, though Leshia desperately hoped it would something adventurous and exciting. The thought of a Triwizard tournament taking place had briefly crossed her mind, though she was aware (from her mother's stories when she was younger) that since the death of Cedric Diggory the tournament had been scrapped; she lamented it's loss.
After dinner, the hall fell silent when Albus Dumbledore rose to his feet at the top table.
"Pupils," his voice rose above the curious silence. "I have the great pleasure of telling you that this year Hogwarts will be hosting a new competition. To be more precise: a quidditch competition." Leshia's eyes went so wide she nearly stopped breathing with excitement, both the words 'quidditch' and 'competition' filled her with immense excitement, so much so that she could barely contain it. "The organisers of the various International Wizarding sporting events have long decided that there is a great lack of friendly competition between the great wizarding schools of the world, and therefore they have designed a new competition to fill this void: the International Schools Quidditch Tournament, or rather, ISQT as it has now been dubbed."
Chatter broke out over the hall as the thought of their very own quidditch World Cup urged the pupils into spontaneous chatter.
"There shall be ten teams competing from around the world, each team consisting of eight players. We have been very fortunate in being selected as the first school to host this new tournament, and as such, we will be hosting the other nine schools. The pupils from these schools will require sleeping room, and as such we will be appealing to your national spirit and your generosity to open up your dormitories to the influx of new arrivals who will be staying for a week." Once more chatter broke out. "If you feel you would be willing to do this, you must discuss it with those who share your dormitory and must therefore also bare the brunt of a visitor, and then write your name on the sheet that will be affixed to the notice board in the entrance hall."
"We're up for that aren't we?" Leshia asked her friends, who nodded with big smiles.
"We'll do it after dinner," Ashley whispered from across the table.
"As to who will make up the eight players of the Hogwarts quidditch side, this will be decided by a series of trials. Everyone who so desires may try out, you need not be part of one of our house teams. Madam Hooch will be overseeing the preparations. If you feel you have what it takes then please, you must sign the form on the quidditch notice board in the entrance hall."
On the Gryffindor table, Leshia's friends turned to grin at her, as though assuming that she was shoe-in; she was after all the most talented seeker in the regular quidditch season at Hogwarts. Feeling incredibly aware of the attention on her Leshia shielded her face with her hand.
"Now then, we have two months, as the competition will be held the last week of term. I am sure we will all have an excellent time, and if I do say so myself, let us try and win this one eh?" With this the headmaster sat down once more to a cheer erupting from the children.
That evening, the girls huddled in the common room while everyone explained, mimed and acted out the way in which they were going to make the Hogwarts team and help them win the glory of the ISQT cup. Leshia kept out of the conversation, and when all eyes turned on her after Rodeo had proudly announced she would be the team's seeker, she called it a night and went to bed.
The following morning the girls rose early and dressed in record time, managing to get down to the great hall for breakfast along with the earliest of risers. On their way in their put their dormitory name on the sheet for hosting the international pupils and then Leshia placed her name on the quidditch sheet. Dozens of hopefuls had already done so, and seeing all their names made Leshia feel a little overwhelmed. Did she have what it takes?
Over breakfast the youngsters relived the discussions from last night, while up at the top table Draco was being questioned by his colleagues on Hermione's absence from the table.
"She's not feeling well," he told them, secretly adding, 'Again!' The young man had risen to the sound of his wife being sick once more and he was secretly very worried for her and wished that she would at least go and see Madam Pomfry in the hospital wing, but Hermione was as stubborn as he was, if not more so, and she flat-out refused. "Women," the young man grumbled fondly as he tucked into his breakfast. He was in a good mood, as he had put that business with the Order behind him and was feeling indescribably uplifted. In truth, he had to admit it was because he felt his daughter was going to get onto the Hogwarts team and then lead them to glory. He would feel such pride.
With the arrival of the post however, the world was about to come crashing down, as Draco Malfoy received a faded parchment marked by a single line of red script. The words made his heart freeze and the colour drain from his face:
I know what you are traitor