"Did you hear? The Gryffindors are planning the most amazing party yet."
"Have you been given your time yet?"
"I wonder what bands they've invited this year."
"Nothing can top last year's bash, absolutely nothing!"
"I'm so excited."
"What are you wearing?"
Leshia, Katie and Rachel's ears were ringing with the excitable whispers flooding through the corridor like wildfire. It was Saturday morning and over night they had carried out immense covert operations to send the various common rooms times for different years to start showing up at various points around the school, where they would be collected by a representative of the party throwers and taken to the venue. Without actually revealing anything about the nature of the party, the girls were keeping absolutely silent over any details of their amazing party, to the point that even now they were walking with their heads held high, not heeding the curious looks everyone was shooting them. They had learnt from last year that revealing too much about their party alerted the teachers about five seconds later to their plans, and so now, to the eye of the casual observer, they appeared completely oblivious to their peers' gossiping.
The girls had in fact been working frantically to gather their preparations and work out an exact action plan for this evening's events. Katie's parents were due to arrive at Hogwarts at five, giving the girls half an hour to keep them pacified, before making it to the wardrobe for five-thirty. This would give them an hour and a half to ready the venue before the first of their contingents of guests arrived. After testing the room of requirement to its full, finding out that anything they wanted it to provide it would soon rise to the occasion, delivering vast amounts of decorations and food stuffs (even outdoing the elves and their fantastic work), the girls had stockpiled everything their needed into carefully arranged piles shrunken to an easily transportable size.
The only tricky part would be shrinking and transporting the wardrobe out to their chosen venue location. Katie was terrified they were going to short-circuit the magic controlling the transporting mechanism effectively stranding the girls at Katie's house, or even worse, evaporating one of them into smithereens when they tried to get through again. Leshia had volunteered time and time again to be the first one to go through their relocated wardrobe and yet the raven-haired girl remained extremely twitchy about the whole thing. In fact, it was safe to say, Katie remained extremely twitchy about the whole operation.
"What's going on?" Leshia suddenly uttered when she caught wind of the energised hubbub down the corridor in the entrance hall. Ice started to snake down the girl's spine when she worked out what could cause such a crowd to gather in front of the notice boards, and quite suddenly the girl stopped walking.
"Leesh what's wrong?" Rachel questioned with a wrinkled brow. "I'm starving, let's get to lunch before Rodeo and Parys finish the lot."
"Rach," Katie sighed imploringly, being much more 'with it' than her cousin, having already worked out what had Leshia spooked.
"Well it's true, they went for lunch like fifteen minutes ago, I'd be amazed if there's anything other than sprouts and spuds left."
"Leshia you're going to have to face it at some point, why not get it over with?" Katie tried tentatively.
"Because I can probably get away with hiding from it for a while," Leshia countered, starting a slow and steady back step down the corridor. After giving Rachel a significant look Katie took hold of the short girl's arm and started dragging her down the corridor, after a moment's hesitation Rachel joined in, still not sure what Leshia was running from now.
"I really think you should let me go," Leshia warned her friends through gritted teeth.
"You'd do the same for us Leesh," Katie said simply, an element of glee coating her tone; it wasn't often she got to boss Leshia around.
"Um, what are we doing?" Rachel asked after a moment's silence, her brow wrinkled in a dim look, eliciting a long-suffering sigh from her cousin.
"It's the squad list," the raven-haired girl finally explained obviously. Hearing the words spoken aloud reignited the sliver of terror in Leshia's spine and her feet stopped moving once more.
"I can't look."
"Fine, well if you won't look, then I will," Katie exclaimed exasperatedly, before she let go off Leshia's arm and started flouncing off down the corridor.
"No, Katie!" Leshia hissed after the girl. A few moments of silence followed in which Leshia stared after the girl incredulously, her nerves eating away at her insides, while Rachel too fought an inner battle: to remain at Leshia's side, or to quell her own curiosity and follow her cousin.
"Sorry Leesh," the redhead finally uttered before she bolted.
"Rach!" For several moments Leshia paced the corridor agitatedly, watching as her friends disappeared into the sea of excitable pupils crowding the quidditch notice boards. How on earth were they meant to understand? Never before had Leshia felt such pressure to perform as she did with this ISQT malarkey. Insecurity in her own performance and superiority was something no one would have expected from the girl, least of all herself, and yet here she stood, doing some peculiar nervous jig while her friends found out her fate.
"Malfoy?" Leshia spun around wide-eyed meeting the gaze of an amused Owen Gabriel.
"Owen," the girl replied in surprise, while the boy's eyes travelled past the girl before him to the hubbub up the corridor.
"Oh right, wicked," the tall youngster exclaimed happily. "You been to look yet?"
"Uh, not exactly."
"Come on then." With no further ado the boy strode past Leshia toward the notice boards. Helpless but to follow him, she had a reputation to protect after all (and secretly she felt she would follow Owen Gabriel to the ends of the earth), Leshia darted after him. Seeing the arrival of two of the most prestigious players approaching the crowd of pupils started to part, allowing the two Gryffindor legends passage. The blonde girl hung her head a little where Owen held his proud and tall, until finally they reached the notice board and Leshia looked up:
Hogwarts is proud to announce their 1st VII Quidditch team
Owen Gabriel, Gryffindor Alecia Malfoy, Gryffindor Nick Mills, Slytherin Will Mills, Slytherin Valerie Beckett, Ravenclaw James Flint, Slytherin Mila Evanovitch, Gryffindor
And their 2nd VII Quidditch team
Jacob Flint, Slytherin Martin Lahara, Ravenclaw Tom Weasley, Gryffindor Luke Weasley, Gryffindor Rodeo Holsson, Gryffindor Sienna Gabriel, Ravenclaw Nick Jones, Hufflepuff
All players report for first training TOMORROW at three-o clock sharp!
The young girl couldn't stop the smile that sprung onto her face by its own accord: she had made it! She was on the Hogwarts first seven!
"Nice one Malfoy," Owen said cheerfully. "Not that there was any danger there right?"
"Don't say stuff like that," Leshia laughed, her relief making her giddy. "You're going to give me a big head."
"Sounds like you could do with it," the tall boy replied amusedly and he turned a twinkling smile on the girl. "So, I will most certainly see you later. Seven past seven right?" Leshia's face morphed into a serenely confused look.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she said innocently, before the mood suddenly changed with the arrival of two very excited cousins.
"You made it!" Rachel crowed deliriously.
"See, there was nothing to worry about," Katie added. Leshia shot Owen a worried glance, but the boy was tactfully looking away, bowing out of the conversation.
"Easy," Leshia laughed and she struggled out of the throng of people, who had now had enough of making way for the local celebrities and were clambering to see the board again.
"I can't believe Rodeo made it into the seconds," Rachel called after Leshia, as she struggled past the crowds and landed at the blonde girl's side.
"Good for him," Leshia chirruped happily and the three girls headed for the doors to the great hall, which lay practically deserted. Up Gryffindor table Rodeo was receiving praise from his friends; none of them had ever imagined the boy would come from nothing to make it onto the reserve list for the Hogwarts team. Upon Leshia's arrival however, the attention suddenly shifted to her and the third year Gryffindors started applauding her.
"Make way for the Hogwarts seeker!" Rachel trumpeted to the group, who quickly shifted aside giggling to give room for a blushing, yet grinning Leshia.
"Rodes you did so well to get on to the seconds," Leshia told the boy the moment she sat down, eliciting a surprised beaming smile from the young man.
"Thanks. Not as good as you though, you swot," he chuckled.
"How can you be a swot with quidditch?" Leshia giggled.
"Yeah, isn't that just called talent?" Rachel added amusedly as she dropped down at Leshia's side, her elbow resting on her friend's shoulder.
"Yeah that, or dumb luck. Take your pick," Parys piped up charmingly, offering Leshia a dashing smile to show he was joking. The children continued to bask in the excitement of the morning's events, the secret underground party at Potter Manor being temporarily sidetracked from the populous' conscious. When the girls were stuffed full of good food (it turned out Parys and Rodeo hadn't quite devoured everything in sight) they bade their friends adieu and headed for the door. Before they'd crossed its threshold however, they were stopped in their tracks by the unpleasant and rather sudden appearance of Damian Allseyer.
"Hello bloodtraitor," the boy growled. "Having a nice day are we?"
"Very nice actually, thanks for asking," Leshia replied lightly, before she and her friends tried to make a prompt exit. They had long decided that should the vile Slytherins try and confront them on this day, then they wouldn't allow themselves to be lured in, they would remain aloof and ignore the frightful snakes until they could better get their own back. It was vital that they remain out of trouble with the teachers and also vital that they did not disclose any information about their party.
"You know why you're on the firsts don't you?" Allseyer was continuing bitterly – safe to say it hadn't escaped Leshia's notice that the boy had not even made it through to the seconds; he who prided himself so on his so-called quidditch talents.
"Because I'm better than the likes of you and your dim-witted friends?" Leshia remarked lightly, forgetting about the no-cavorting-with-the-enemy rule temporarily to stick it to the pointy-faced boy. Katie, who had her wits about her, stared hardly at Leshia, before she started drifting away, trying to lure her friends with her. There were enough potential problems about that night; Leshia getting a detention for fighting with Allseyer again would only further the nightmare that was to be their Halloween bash.
"You wish," Allseyer snapped furiously, a cruel smile on his face. "Seen daddy today have we?"
"What?" Leshia asked in a steely tone.
"Well, I'd imagine he'd be proud to show off his handiwork, getting his incompetent daughter onto the Hogwarts team must have taken quite some persuasive tactics, but he managed didn't he?"
"Shut your mouth Allseyer," Leshia hissed angrily, her temper flaring up out of nowhere. How dare this weasel suggest that Draco had somehow used heavy-handed tactics to get her onto the team! And yet, a tiny part of Leshia's innermost insecure psyche believed every word the unpleasant and jealous boy spat out.
"Or what?" Allseyer jeered amusedly, gleeful to see his teasing had riled Leshia up in record time.
"Yes Miss Malfoy, what will you do next?" Leshia and her friends spun around to find Professor Lewis standing behind them staring coolly at the children who were about to lock loggerheads together in battle. He'd been observing them for quite some time and understood the score: both were up to no good and needed separating.
"Um, go quietly back to our common room sir," Leshia replied in her most enchanting tone of voice. Lewis nodded slowly, and knowing full well how lightly they were getting off Leshia and her friends bolted, waiting till they'd got round the corner to let rip over how they hated Allseyer.
"Ignore everything that worm tries to tell you Leshia, he's just jealous," Katie told the blonde-girl firmly.
"Of what? What if it's true?"
"Yeah sure, Madam Hooch just let your dad intimidate her into letting you on the team. It's got nothing to do with the fact that you're the bloody best seeker in this school. Oh no, nothing to do with that at all," Rachel ranted sarcastically. Leshia stifled a grin.
"He's jealous that the Slytherins haven't been invited tonight," Katie explained, she too trying to suppress her grin at her cousin's theatrics. At this Leshia couldn't help but smile broadly.
"Oh yeah, none of the Slytherins are invited. What a shame." The three girls cackled loudly as they skipped arm in arm down the corridor; life was good. The girls spent the afternoon going over the finer points of their plans, setting up a makeshift office in their window box in the common room conferring with their lackeys who was doing what and whether they knew what they were doing. Five rolled by sooner than they would have liked and with it faze one of Operation Potter Party sprung into action.
"We're going to go do the meet and greet at my parents' place, you guys have to remember to be at the painting with the bands at quarter to seven," Leshia told Rodeo and Parys as they walked the girls to the door.
"Quarter to, got it," Rodeo relayed.
"And not a moment later," Leshia warned cheerfully. Both boys grinned adoringly at the girl and nodded once more to say that yes, they were more than capable of collecting the student bands the girls had signed up for the underground party and delivering them to the secret venue. With a quick wave and a hurried "Good luck," from the boys Leshia and the cousins were underway. They walked in silence, hoping beyond hope that the evening would go well and they wouldn't get caught; leading to almost inevitable punishment for the rest of their lives – after all, how many wizarding statutes, laws and Hogwarts rules were they breaking? Before they knew it they'd reached the painting of the newlyweds that concealed Leshia's parents door, and after a steadfast grin at her friends the youngster reached out and scratched the groom's foot, causing the painting to swing forward revealing the open doorway of Hermione and Draco's chambers. Inside all their parents had gathered and were currently in the opening throws of a promising night; Ginny and Hermione were sitting at the dining room table exchanging recently taken photographs, cocktails in hand (a non-alcoholic variety for Hermione) and the men were sat on the sofas slugging at their whiskeys, fondly mocking and jeering one another.
Upon the arrival of the girls the hubbub momentarily waned while Rachel and Katie greeted their parents, and Leshia suddenly became the centre of praise from hers. Hermione was teary-eyed and even Draco seemed unusually emotional about her success.
"We're so proud of you," Hermione gushed, as she flattened Leshia's unruly curls a little onto her head.
"And there was you skulking in a bathroom because…" Draco began amusedly, one arm wrapped round his daughter's shoulders.
"Yeah okay dad, we don't have to relive every embarrassing story about me when we have company do we?" Draco smiled adoringly at the girl and kissed her forehead.
"That's okay, I'm saving the best ones for your eighteenth birthday."
"Dad," Leshia laughed and she lunged her expert fingers into the groves between Draco's ribs – after years of rough and tumble, this girl had the art of tickling her father down to a tee; something her mother was yet to master.
"Okay okay," Draco quickly conceded and he squirmed away so as not to spill his drink. "You win." Leshia grinned triumphantly, before she dropped down next to her friends on one of the sofas. What ensued was half an hour of generic good times, in which the girls felt such a feeling of well-being it was almost easy to forget that one member of their ensemble was missing: Lavender, Rachel's mother. Of course it stung Rachel a little, but Ron was on it, and doted especially upon his oldest child in order to make her forget, if only temporarily that her mother and father's marriage was in tatters.
By the time the clock struck five thirty the girls were reluctant to tear themselves away, but they were going to need all the time they could get in order to make the preparations for their party.
"Well we're going to have to get going," Leshia announced after a comfortable silence.
"Oh yes, really, what could you possibly have to get to that is so important?" Draco inquired with an amused smile, yet cold eyes. Leshia stared at him warily, trying to keep her cool.
"They're having a little celebration in Gryffindor tower for all the Gryffindors that got onto the school teams," the girl replied her pre-rehearsed line.
"Shouldn't take longer than a few hours," Rachel added.
"I mean come on, there's like six of us on the teams, you have to grant us a little party for our troubles," Leshia continued, feeling empowered by their lies. For one moment it looked as though even Draco believed her, and after a few moments he nodded, giving leave for the girls to scurry out, promising that they would be back in a few hours. Draco stared at the door long after they'd gone.
"You shouldn't be such an old fart Malfoy," Ron chuckled happily, briefly attracting Draco's raised eyebrows in his direction.
"Excuse me?" the blonde man asked slowly.
"Why did you let them go if you're going to stare holes through the door waiting for them to come back?" Harry added amusedly.
"They're up to something," Draco announced eventually. "And until I know what it is, I'll let them carry on with it."
"So they're up to something," Ron countered. "It's Halloween, let them let their hair down for once." Once more Draco stared at the redheaded man with bemusement and warning in his handsome face.
"You're not the one who has to deal with them 'letting their hair down' on a daily basis Weasley."
"Draco," Hermione interrupted, seeing her husband's mood was balancing on a knife-edge. "Worry about the girls later, I'm sure they're not doing anything too bad. I mean we haven't caught wind of anything have we?"
"That's why I'm worried," Draco sighed; fearing that whatever the girls had planned and carried out was so bad, they'd worked their fingers to the bone trying to keep it secret from the teaching body. After a shake of his head, a smile worked its way onto Draco's face and he glanced up at Ron. "You really are crap at being the bad cop aren't you?"
"Wish me luck," Leshia told her friends with a nervous grin on her face as she inspected the insides of their relocated vanishing wardrobe. Stood beside the great lake on the Potter Estate on this thankfully clear evening, the wardrobe looked more menacing than ever; particularly as Leshia was putting her life in her own hands in order to test its efficacy now they had tried their own shrinking and enlarging magic on it. Yes it had survived Draco's tampering, he a wizened Wizard with more experience than these three put together, but would it have made it through the haphazard charms Katie had subjected it to.
"Leesh please don't," Katie begged quietly. Leshia rolled her eyes and grinned at her friends, before she pulled the door shut behind herself.
'I don't feel any different,' the girl pondered to herself while she waited the full minute she had allocated to the transporting process.
"Here goes nothing," the girl exhaled breathily and after shutting her eyes tightly she shoved the door firmly. "Yes!" she crowed when she found herself in and amongst the rubble they had gathered for their party. Without any further ado the girl reached out and crammed as much as she could fit into the wardrobe, before she pulled the door shut behind herself. Katie and Rachel had not moved from their positions beside the wardrobe; both and their hands clasped in hope and fear, which instantly flew apart and found their way round Leshia's neck the moment the girl appeared through the wardrobe once more.
"Katie you beauty," Leshia crowed happily and she hugged the raven-haired girl firmly. "You're bloody fantastic you know that?" Katie blushed bright crimson while Rachel started lugging the decorations out of the cupboard.
"Come on you two, we've got less than an hour to set up. The bands will be here in like forty minutes. Get a move on!" Rachel called to her friends and within no time the girls were heaving large tables around, setting up fairy lights and lanterns, propping up scary Halloween decorations, laying out vast platters of food and barrels of drink, spreading out cushions, blankets and chairs for their guests, lighting bonfires and setting up a small stage for their performers. The lakeside became transformed into a party heaven and as quarter to seven rolled by the girls were more than pleased with themselves.
"This is going to be better than we thought," Leshia sighed contentedly, giving a pile of thick woolly coats (should the guests get cold) beside the wardrobe an approving nod.
"Come on, let's go get the bands," Rachel said happily, grinning at Katie, who would be remaining behind to enchant the pumpkin lanterns to float above the venue – very tricky magic she had been studying for a very long time.
"Be good," Leshia called after the raven-haired girl as she and Rachel disappeared into the wardrobe leaving Katie chuckling; as if she was the one who needed that warning, there went the two most mischievous girls in the whole of England.
Once they had materialised in the room of requirement Leshia and Rachel bolted to the door and flung it open just as Rodeo and Parys had appeared with a dozen pupils in tow.
"Hey, where'd that door come from?" Parys asked curiously, before he was quite unceremoniously dragged in by the scruff of his neck.
"No time, come on," Leshia told the assortment of newcomers. "I'm sorry to rush everybody, but we can't be seen," she continued to tell the band members as they filed past her, looking curiously into the room they'd never seen before.
"Is this where you're holding the party?" Jake Thomas, a sixth year Hufflepuff who was the lead singer of the Rocking Harpie Appreciation Band a favoured Hogwarts performing party if there ever were one, asked disappointedly.
"No, it gets better than this," Leshia called to him from her position at the door.
"Come on everyone, right this way," Leshia urged and she started to lead the train of dawdling people toward the wardrobe. As the last of them entered the room Leshia pulled the door shut, only to be met by Rodeo's curious eyes inches from hers when she spun around to face the room.
"Rodes," Leshia exclaimed and she pushed the boy who had crept up on her. "Don't do that."
"Where are we Leshia?"
"That my good friend, is none of your concern," the girl sang cheerfully, before she rushed from his side to the wardrobe where Rachel was trying, and failing, to lure the performers into the wardrobe. "Look guys," she called to them, drawing their attention onto herself. "This wardrobe will take us to where we're going, to where the party is being held. Everyone invited to tonight's party is going to have to use it at some point. You lucky lot get to be the first."
Rather than pacifying the rowdy teenagers, Leshia's little speech only fuelled their confusion and concern, so after a brief nod to Rachel the redhead girl shut the doors behind herself. While the teenagers continued to murmur about 'mad third years' Leshia waited patiently while she counted out three minutes, then on cue she opened the door to reveal the empty wardrobe. The murmuring promptly stopped.
"Now then, who's next?" As one the group surged forward and Leshia started supervising their passage through the wardrobe. With so many large young men it took a long time to get them all through, but finally Leshia found herself alone with Rodeo and Parys, who were watching her with nothing short of awe.
"I don't know how you pulled this off," Rodeo finally exclaimed breathily. "But you rock!" Leshia grinned proudly at her friends.
"Boys, you aint seen nothing yet!"
Laughter rang out from the chambers behind the painting of the newlywed couple. Laughter that simply oozed affection and joy. The parents were having a good time to say the least, as they had now enjoyed Hermione's delightful cooking and had moved onto the after dinner drinks. The good old days were being revisited via anecdotes, fond teasing and group remembering, and all of them were feeling a little giddy with the time that had passed (and the alcohol they had consumed).
Into this hive of woozy fun the girls reappeared, acting as though they hadn't just been at the party of the century where they hadn't been able to move without being praised down to the ground. In fact, it had taken their entire collective will power to drag themselves away from their more-than-successful Halloween bash, but needs must and all that.
"What's going on?" Leshia asked warily when she saw the drunken expressions on her parents faces – she could not know that Hermione's drunkenness was not actually so and she was merely sharing in the silliness of her friends' inebriation.
"We should be asking you that question," Draco told his daughter brusquely, before he reached out an arm to the girl. She dutifully approached his side, where she was wrenched down onto the sofa into the crook of his arm. "Have a good time did you at this Gryffindor party of yours?"
"A very good time actually," Leshia replied truthfully. "Best time of my life, which is why we're going to have to go back at some point."
"I thought you said it would only be a few hours?" Hermione enquired – fully on the ball, as she hadn't drunk a drop.
"That's what we thought," Katie explained confidently (impressing Leshia and Rachel no end). The success of the party and the praise they had received had empowered Katie to a new level of mischief making, so much so that now she had no qualms about lying to her parents about the raving party taking place at their lakeside.
"Turns out some of the seventh years have started conjuring butter beer and treats, so now everyone's in full-on party mode," Rachel explained, taking a seat beside her dad.
"Really?" Harry asked dubiously. "How very clever of them."
"Yeah that's what we thought," Katie replied in a very un-Katie like manner. Even Rachel and Leshia turned to stare at her in surprise as the cocky words escaped the bespectacled girl's mouth.
"Anyway," Leshia carried on breezily, trying to pretend that there wasn't a Katie doppelganger in the room. "I think everyone's making up for the fact that there's no ball this year." Draco stared the girl coolly in the eye.
"Right," he finally announced.
"Yeah, see, we're not the only ones who throw parties around here," Leshia said happily, before she reached out to the table where some fruit pies lay on a beautiful platter. Her friends gave her just about enough time to finish the small cake before they jumped to their feet with Leshia in pursuit.
"Off so soon?" Hermione asked suspiciously.
"Well we want to get back, it's a wicked party," Rachel lied effortlessly. Seeing their parents' expressions weren't going to change from suspicious to more accommodating, the girls made a quick escape and sprinted back through the corridors to the room of requirement. Everyone had by now adhered to their strict meeting times and had been chaperoned through to the venue. So by the time the girls got back to the party they found it positively heaving with music, chatter, dancing and fun.
"You guys are legends!" a seventh year Ravenclaw boy the girls had never met suddenly roared at them the moment they appeared.
"Uh, thanks," Leshia managed before she disentangled them from the young man's path toward the refreshments table where a gaggle of third years had assembled. Happy faces glistened under the fairy lights and for a moment the girls felt a true feeling of selfless joy: they had made these youngsters this happy…it was all worth it.
"Enjoying yourselves?" Katie announced loudly when they reached their friends' sides. Rodeo nodded enthusiastically, his bright adoring eyes meeting Katie's.
"I think this is your best one yet," the bohemian boy announced proudly.
"Yeah, and we didn't think anything could top last year's party," Parys added cheerfully. "But I mean think about it, we're not actually at school right now are we? It's so bloody brilliant I can't even express it in words."
"Okay Parys," Leshia chuckled and she slung her arm round him. "No more Butterbeers for you." The youngsters laughed heartily and took a moment to enjoy their youth and just being, before suddenly they found themselves being dragged toward the dance floor (area of lawn that had organically grown into a dance floor in front of the stage) by various other third years.
Leshia didn't think she could get any happier as she found herself sandwiched between Rachel, Parys and Rodeo, manically spinning around to some quick and quirky song being performed by the Rocking Harpie Appreciation Band. She, like her parents, was succumbing to the giddiness of the evening, and how could she not? When all around her appreciative youngsters many years older than herself were beaming at her in thanks. Life was good.
That is, until the upbeat music suddenly made way for the slow rhythm of a piano and a cello. Everyone looked up to see the seamless change had made way for the all-girl band Hoods and Capers who were now playing their slowest number, ensuring couples all over the dance floor were hooking up to dance the song out.
"Oh no," Leshia groaned amusingly, but her mirth was soon to change into horror when before her very eyes Katie marched right up to Rodeo and posed him the question,
"Will you dance with me?" Long after Rodeo had mumbled his yes and the pair and disappeared off into the gently swaying crowds Leshia, Rachel and Parys still stared dumbstruck at the spot where 'it' had happened.
"I have to go get a drink," Leshia suddenly exclaimed, a strange choking sound accompanying her voice.
"Want me to come with you?" Rachel quickly asked, but she didn't get a response, as Leshia had disappeared from their sides. Stumbling past the romantic movement of the dancers, Leshia finally managed to free herself from their grasp, falling upon the refreshments as though she hadn't seen a drink in years. Once the shuddering had subsided with the steady flow of a large tankard of pumpkin juice Leshia leant heavily against the table and stared out over the dancing youngsters. She couldn't help the heavy sigh that escaped her.
"You, of all people, should be on seventh heaven right now," the voice of Owen Gabriel came, before the tall young man appeared at Leshia's side, leaning back against the table beside her, his hand resting against hers on the table. Just his very touch caused a lightning bolt of sheer insanity to flood through Leshia's body, and despite herself, she twitched. "So tell me, why are you sulking over here in the loser section?"
"Owen," Leshia complained tiredly.
"No seriously, what could possibly be so bad?" the youth persisted, jostling Leshia's nerves with no restraint.
"I won't go away until you tell me."
"I bet you anything it's not so bad."
"Rodeo's dancing with Katie!" the girl blurted out sounding pained, before she flung her hands up to her face to conceal her mortification: it sounded so benign when spoken aloud. At her side though, Owen had gone a little quiet.
"So?" he finally asked with a frown. "Holsson's a fool if he picked Potter over you…"
"No Owen, it's not like that. I don't like Rodeo…"
"Sure Leshia," the tall boy sighed, before he managed to muster up a charming smile for the girl. "Thanks for inviting me, this is a great party." With one hand raised towards the girls face, as though he wanted to stroke her cheek, Owen suddenly thought better of it and flung the same hand to the back of his head, where he nervously rubbed his hair.
"You're welcome," Leshia replied sounding put out. Why on earth was Owen behaving peculiarly now? Without another word the boy strolled off, his usually held high head hanging in some sort of bad mood. Leshia stared after him incredulously. Why did she have such strange male friends? Feeling tired of confusing hormones and young men that didn't make sense Leshia suddenly pushed herself from the refreshments table and headed across the party to where Jaime and Eliot Wood, a set of twins in second year Leshia was quite friendly with, were commandeering a pile of cushions with their friends. The blonde haired party instigator was more than welcome at their gathering and so Leshia was soon set back to rights by their amusing shenanigans and anecdotes.
Katie's heart must have been going at a million beats a minute the raven-haired girl felt, as she and Rodeo ambled up the lawns towards the house, their hands loosely entwined in the divide between them. How she'd picked up the nerves to offer him a tour of her house she could only wonder at, but here she was, about to lead him into her entrance hall.
"Your house is absolutely huge," Rodeo awed sounding very impressed.
"Yeah, it's okay," Katie replied with a demure shrug. Rodeo turned his dashing smile on her.
"You don't have to be modest. It's okay to admit you've got a damn cool house all right?" The raven-haired girl grinned gleefully and nodded.
"Okay, my house is pretty damn cool." With one last worried glance over her shoulder at the party down at the lake, Katie pushed open the French doors into the hallway. Rodeo's whistling sound indicated he was now even more impressed than before. Slowly, Katie led him of a tour of the downstairs rooms, giggling whenever the young man seemed to show genuine glee or surprise at something so mundane as the enchanted grandfather clock made in the same fashion as the Weasleys' clock, or the knitting needles gently knitting away in the corner at an enormous scarf (a Christmas present for Hagrid – Ginny felt if she started now she might finish it by the time Christmas crawled by). Rodeo of course, was not used to wizarding households, and had only visited Parys' house once.
"I would love to live here," the young man sighed contentedly, before he wandered over to a mantelpiece in the hall lined with wizarding pictures. He chuckled when he saw pictures of Katie as a little girl, and his adoration for her grew. However, before he could come to terms with his attachment to the girl, a picture threw him for six. There, in a cherished wooden frame stood a picture of Katie, with her two best friends Rachel and Leshia when they were eight years old. It had been taken down at the same lake dozens of students were now congregating by, in a summer that seemed an age away now. In this picture Rachel and Leshia were clowning around while Katie stood shyly in the corner of the picture. Leshia was simply divine and for a moment Rodeo's heart ached a little. His very actions were cutting off any chances he would ever have with that girl…
"Want to see upstairs?" Katie asked loudly, when she noticed Rodeo's gaze falling on the picture of the childhood friends. Rodeo's eyes spun guiltily onto Katie's and for a moment he wanted nothing more than to run back to the party and pretend nothing had happened, but something deep within him was forcing him forward on this path, was making him place his arms around Katie's shoulders, was urging him to lean forward and kiss her.
The sound of running footsteps broke the pair apart and they turned guiltily on the door just as it opened revealing Rachel's bemused face.
"Leesh's just come back from Hogwarts, the parents are on the move! We've got to get everyone out of here!" the girl cried out, eliciting sudden bursts of energy from both of the kissers, who followed Rachel back to the party where Leshia was already shepherding people through the wardrobe.
"We have to stall them!" Leshia exclaimed to her friends the moment they appeared at her side; she didn't even notice how guilty Katie looked, such was her concern that they were about to get caught.
"We'll go, Katie can stay here and clean up. She's the best at that sort of stuff anyway," Rachel said firmly.
"I agree," Leshia said and she glanced to Katie, only now noticing how red the girl was. "Are you alright?" she asked with a wrinkled brow of confusion. "You're like bright red."
"I'm fine. Get going for God's sake, before we end up getting locked in some tower somewhere for the rest of our lives." The girls didn't need warning twice and quite promptly they jumped the queue and caught the next wardrobe-load of people back to Hogwarts. The room of requirement was full of guests milling around, as they had been strictly told to wander out every five minutes in no more than fives, so as not to attract any unwanted attention. Once more Leshia and Rachel jumped the queue and they darted out heading straight for Leshia's parents quarters.
"What exactly are we going to do?" Rachel panted. "I mean how are we going to stall them? "We'll think of something," Leshia panted back. "If push comes to shove, the last resort is to say something that'll really get us in trouble, because seriously, any trouble is better than the trouble we'll be in if we get caught."
It would seem that for now salvation was going to play a tricky game with them, as upon rounding the last corner Leshia and Rachel bumped straight in none other than Professor Snape.
"What are you two doing out of bed? It's gone midnight," the shrewd old professor barked at the girls. Leshia, a fast thinker and also a sucker for punishment suddenly got an idea that would no doubt offer plenty of stalling time.
"What's it to you?" the girl asked simply, meeting the potion master's incredulous gaze with a cocky one of her own.
"Why I never," Snape gasped. "You are simply unbelievable Miss Malfoy…"
"Sorry, but I really don't have time for this," Leshia interrupted tiredly, and with one last apologetic look to Rachel she strode off towards her parents chambers. Rachel stared up at Snape with wide-eyes, finally having worked out Leshia's plan, but worried she had not the courage to follow.
"Not one step," the potions master began furiously, but Rachel had resigned herself to her fate now, and with a head held high, she waltzed after her friend. "You two, hold it right there!" But the girls didn't heed him and by now they'd reached the portrait, where Leshia reached out and opened the painting. It swung open to reveal Ron, coat on and hand stretched out to open the portrait.
"Rachel," he crowed cheerily, more than a little drunk by now. "I was just coming to find you." The smile was soon wiped off his face when the white furious expression of Severus Snape slid into view. "Professor Snape," Ron announced in alarm; still wary of the old professor, especially when he had an expression like that on his face.
"I'm glad that you're here," Snape hissed furiously. "So that we can discuss your daughter's behaviour and her future at this school." Rachel looked to Leshia with panicked eyes, who simply shook her head as if to say 'he's bluffing'. Hearing the potion master's displeasure Draco jostled his friends out the way to get to the doorway. Upon seeing the scene in front before him he felt he'd much rather have stayed behind to finish his bottle of whiskey, but fatherhood took no breaks, not when hellions like Leshia were your daughter.
"Nothing's happened," Leshia exclaimed angrily, acting for the sake of dragging this out to the fullest extent.
"I wasn't asking you," Draco countered.
"Snape's picking on us again, isn't he Rach?" Leshia urged, eliciting a minute nod from her redhead friend.
"Why I never!" the old man exploded. "Such cheek and such lies!"
"Enough," Draco raised his voice, drawing in the respect and reverence this tone demanded. "Leshia get inside, Severus I'll speak to you later."
"But I demand…"
"Later," Draco repeated darkly. With one last furious glare at the back of Leshia's head, accompanied by mouthed insults the old potions master would never dare utter aloud, especially within hearing range of the girl's unpredictable father, Severus Snape spun on heal and stormed down the corridor.
"I think we'd better go," Harry said tactfully, trying to sidestep around an astonished Ron. Now Leshia realised the error of her plan: why on earth would Katie's parents stay if she and Rachel were in trouble?
"See I told you," Leshia muttered to Rachel, spluttering out the first words that came to mind. Rachel looked to Leshia in surprise, what was the blonde girl on about?"
"Told her what?" Ginny asked.
"I knew we'd get in trouble for Katie, didn't I say? It's not fair!" Leshia grumbled and she stalked inside the chambers with everyone staring after her in complete and utter confusion. Only Draco remained cool with his wits about him: Leshia was up to something, he could feel it in his bones. With sufficient enough of a reason to stay and find out what Leshia was going on about, everyone traipsed back into the chambers to find Leshia had locked herself in the bathroom.
"Leshia?" Hermione called out worriedly, her hands stroking the door that separated her from her seemingly upset daughter. "Darling, please come out and explain, we won't be angry, I promise."
"No! You can't understand!" Leshia cried back.
"What happened?" Ginny was now questioning a completely blank-faced Rachel. "Is Katie okay?" Rachel gabbled for words, realising she was now dropped in right in the deep end. Leshia might have been winging it, trying everything she could think of to keep Harry and Ginny in the chambers, but Rachel had nothing to go on, she didn't know what to do.
"She's dropped Leshia right in it," the girl finally managed.
"Rach!" Leshia complained from inside her bathroom hideout. "Don't!"
"Why, what's she done?" Harry asked worriedly.
"It's about her and Rodeo…"
"Rachel!" This time Leshia sounded genuinely angry and after a click of the door the girl reappeared looking at her best friend with wide eyes as if to say 'what are you playing at?'
"Rodeo? Who's Rodeo?" Harry demanded.
"It's this boy Leshia and Katie both like."
"No, they should know," Rachel challenged Leshia, who shut her mouth and glared at the red-haired girl.
"Stop it, both of you," Draco's voice finally rang out over the confusion and everyone turned to stare at him. "What have you done, why is Severus furious with you and where is Katie?"
"No Leshia!" Draco yelled angrily, quite tired of all the lies and dramatics going on. He could see straight through the playacting the girls were putting on. He could quite clearly see that they were stalling for time and had no idea what they were talking about. And quite frankly, he was ticked off with them. "You have five seconds to tell me what you've done or so help me God I'll…"
"Draco," Hermione gasped, surprised at the anger in her husband's face. She had never seen him this way…or at least, it had been a long time since she had seen her husband truly loose it, and never before had she seen such fury targeted at their young daughter. Leshia, well accustomed to Draco's anger (she had pulled quite some stunts in her younger days) didn't feel troubled by her father's anger.
"Yeah Draco, leave our girls out of this," Ron complained, walking to stand beside Rachel to drape his arm round her shoulders. Hermione now turned to Ron with a severe look; what had that tone of voice meant? The way Ron had expressed his sentiments made it clear that he felt Leshia was the cause of all the problems.
"And what do you mean by that Ronald?"
"Well it's just…"
"Please tell me," Hermione pressed angrily.
"Hermione," Ginny complained tiredly, intervening when she saw her stammering brother unable to defend himself against Hermione's steely determination. "He didn't mean anything by it."
"Yes he did."
"Well its just Leshia isn't it," Harry now tried tactfully. "She does tend to lead the girls astray, which is perfectly understandable with…you know…all things considering…" Now he'd done it. The girls had wanted to stall their parents, well now they had their wish, though when they saw the fight that suddenly erupted before their very eyes they were quite certain this wasn't what they had had planned, nor what they wanted. Even Draco was dragged into the brawl, stooping to a level he normally stayed clear of: bickering. Old wounds were being dragged to the surface, and Leshia and the girls became bartering chips in old battles. Feeling quite uncomfortable with their parents' fighting Leshia and Rachel backed away to the door unnoticed, until finally they darted out into the corridor beyond.
"What was all that about?" Leshia asked worriedly. Rachel shook her head with wide eyes, before the two girls took off toward the room of requirement. They reached it within record time and after pacing the corridor they burst into the newly appeared door. The room lay bare apart from the wardrobe stood in the lone shaft of light and after a brief panic over whether or not Katie might be mid-transporting the cupboard the girls realised there was nothing for it, and they slammed the doors shut behind themselves.
"I'm sorry," Leshia uttered heartily, seemingly shaken by their parents' fight.
"I'm sorry too," Rachel replied quickly, and in the darkness the girls clasped their hands together and squeezed tightly; if they could make it through the night without getting in trouble it would be a small miracle.
Quite suddenly the doors to the wardrobe were wrenched open and with a chorus of screams all round the girls managed to regain themselves when they saw it was just Katie, who had since replaced the wardrobe to its rightful place and was in the process of returning to Hogwarts.
"Are they on their way back?" Katie asked worriedly, as she joined the girls in the wardrobe and pulled the door tightly behind herself, blanking out her father's study.
"Not really," Leshia replied awkwardly.
"Why, what happened?" In the darkness Rachel and Leshia hung their heads.
"It's not really important," Rachel explained.
"All I want to do is get in bed and forget this night ever happened," Leshia groaned in the darkness.
"What, you didn't have a good night at the party?" Katie asked in surprise.
"It was alright. It's more what's happened tonight that's got me worried."
"Oh stop being such a worrywart Leshia," Katie laughed happily.
"Have you had a complete personality-transplant or something?" Rachel demanded.
"No! You two just have to stop freaking out; we threw a great party, we're on our way home and we're not going to get in trouble for it. What could go wrong?"
Draco watched his daughter dart from the room and felt personally insulted that she had left him in her purposely-made mess. She had wanted a distraction in order to get away with whatever she and her friends had concocted and he had taken the fall for it. Coolly he placed his glass down on the table and walked over to where Hermione was currently exclaiming,
"How dare you insinuate that because of Draco's past Leshia is somehow going to turn out dark."
"They're playing us," Draco announced simply. "I can't believe they're using us."
"What are you talking about?" Harry asked tetchily.
"They've waltzed in here, spun some bull to make us stall for time while they get away with whatever they've been running off to all night."
"Draco why do you have to read so much into every situation?" Ron demanded.
"Because Weasley I know my daughter, and she is just as calculating, sly and ruthless as you all think she is."
"Draco," Hermione cried out sounding hurt.
"I'm not saying that's all she is, but she is capable of those things. Come on, if we follow them then we'll find out what they're up to."
"Yes Potter, follow them." Draco was already half-out the door, and with nothing else for it, the others promptly darted after him. They didn't speak as Draco stealthily led the way on the girls' trail. Leshia and Rachel were too busy panicking about the carnage they had caused to think they might be followed and didn't realise they led their parents right to the room of requirement. Once they had shut the door behind themselves the adults promptly followed, pushing it open, hoping to catch the girls in the act with whatever mischief they had caused, but what they found was so much more disturbing.
"Oh no," Draco managed, completely shaken by the wardrobe standing in the middle of the large empty room.
"They found it," Hermione whispered at his side, reaching out to wrap her arms round his. This was bad.
"You know what this means," Harry said sadly.
"They've been at your place all night," Ron replied.
"I dread to think," Ginny added.
"What are we going to do?" Hermione asked dolefully, looking up at Draco with sorrowful eyes. It was only a matter of time before Leshia found out about what happened in their sixth year at school.
"We have to remain a united front," Harry told his friends, mistakenly taking Hermione's question to mean all of them.
"We have to punish them equally," Ginny added. Draco turned on the couple with such a dark expression that Ginny actually stumbled back a little, in order the get away from the fury that lay in the handsome man's grey eyes.
"I will punish my daughter how I see fit," he finally stated sharply. "You have all made it abundantly clear tonight that you think I'm a bad influence on your children, so I wouldn't imagine you'd want to subject your precious innocent daughters to the punishment Leshia is going to receive for deceiving us and then using us to cover up for whatever it is they've done."
"Draco we didn't mean any of that," Ginny tried gently, seeing now how much they'd hurt Draco and feeling very bad for it. The young man however, wasn't listening, and he turned his head so as not to look upon his friends who had wounded him so.
"What are you going to do?" Hermione asked meekly, feeling very saddened by the fact that Draco had seemingly forgotten that she was a part of Leshia's life too, and would also be entitled to have a say in the punishment of their daughter.
"What needs to be done," was all Draco responded, before he crossed his arms over his chest and stared darkly at the door of the wardrobe. A solemn mood swept over the five parents as they waited for their daughters to return, which, inevitably occurred sooner rather than later.
Muffled voices filled the room. The girls were back and if they strained their ears, the gathered parents could just about make out the words their children were speaking. Hearing Leshia's remorse at causing the problems back at Draco and Hermione's quarters may have softened her mother's anger, but Draco felt spurned on by it: if she had of thought it through then none of this would happen. Fie her and her reckless troublemaking. She had a brain, why didn't she use it?
Katie revealing what they had been up to all night as she told her friends was the icing on the cake,
"You two just have to stop freaking out; we threw a great party, we're on our way home and we're not going to get in trouble for it. What could go wrong?"
The looks on their faces might have been amusing if the circumstances weren't so grave, as the girls pushed the door open all set to waltz out into the room of requirement and head home for the night, but instead of finding the room deserted, they were instead met by their highly bemused parents.
"Oh damn," Leshia finally exclaimed, sounding resigned to the fact that she was now in more trouble than she could ever remember finding herself in. Katie, much less used to being glared at in such a manner tried to back step into the back of the wardrobe and Rachel seemed to have lost the power of speech altogether, staring instead with very wide eyes at her disappointed father.
Draco and Leshia locked eyes for a long time, while Harry started on Katie and Ron started mumbling incomprehensibly at Rachel. Hermione was helpless but to watch as with some unspoken understanding Draco turned on heal and started walking out with Leshia hot on his tail, her head hanging in shame. Only after the father and daughter had exited the room did Hermione turn on Ginny, who had watched the Malfoy interaction very closely.
"Sorry," Ginny mouthed at her best friend, tears glistening in her eyes with everything that had passed and the sympathy she felt for her friend. Hermione nodded, she too with the makings of tears.
"Me too." With this she followed her family out, seeing Draco paused some way down the dark corridor hanging his head back, seemingly about to explode, and Leshia hanging back, very wary to approach her father in this state.
"Draco," Hermione called to her husband, finally finding her voice and the authority she too had over their child. "Not now. We'll deal with it in the morning." In the distance Draco barely nodded his head, before he continued storming down the corridor. Hermione walked straight past Leshia without even looking at her.
"Go to bed Alecia," Hermione sighed. Tears automatically sprung from Leshia's eyes and she ran to catch up with her mother.
"It's too late, just go to bed."
"But I didn't mean to hurt you. I didn't want to hurt you!" The desperation in the girl's tone made Hermione's tears stream more freely and with a heartbreaking resolve she steamed on.
"I'll see you tomorrow, now do as you're told and go to bed!" Leshia stopped running and stared down at her feet in torment. "And no quidditch, not until we've decided what to do with you," Hermione called tearfully back over her shoulder, almost breaking into a run herself in order to get away from the heartbreak on Leshia's face.
"Mum…" the girl tried pathetically, but it was too late. Long after Hermione had faded from the corridor Leshia finally forced herself to retreat to Gryffindor tower where several of Leshia's peers were still milling about. Leshia's sudden appearance elicited a spontaneous and loud round of applause from the sleepy partygoers, but they promptly stopped when they saw Leshia's tears. Without a word to their worried expressions Leshia breezed through the room toward the staircase, her only goal being able to curl up in bed and drown away her sorrows with a Heaven Drop.
"Malfoy," Owen Gabriel finally spoke up, breaking the concerned silence. Leshia didn't turn around to heed him, but he still followed her undeterred. "Leshia wait, what happened?"
"For God's sake just leave me alone!" Leshia snapped before she was truly degraded to sobs. Owen watched her leave with a dark expression; who had done this to her? As if on queue running footsteps preceded the arrival of Rodeo and Parys, both of them looking up the girls' staircase in concern.
"Was that Leshia?" Rodeo asked worriedly. Owen very slowly turned to face the two boys, his hazel eyes seeming dark in his anger. The bohemian third year frowned at the taller boy. "What?"
"You tell me Holsson," Owen growled, approaching the younger boys. Rodeo back stepped slightly, shuffling out of the star-keeper's way. For a moment Owen stopped at Rodeo's level and stared darkly into his eyes. "You ought to watch your step." With this warning the older boy ascended the stairs in anger leaving Rodeo and Parys looking at one another in complete confusion.
Draco sat down heavily on the sofa, a full tumbler of whiskey in his hand and the half-empty bottle in his other. After downing the drink he filled it another two times and emptied them in much the same way before he settled on a more reasonable pace of consumption. By now Hermione had joined him, though she lingered by the doorway staring at Draco glumly.
"That's not the answer Draco," she told him eventually.
"Don't tell me what to do," the young man uttered darkly.
"I'm not trying to tell you what to do," Hermione complained passionately, before she crossed the room and snatched the glass and bottle away from her husband. "I just want you to remain conscious while we discuss this." Draco glared at his wife, but didn't attempt to retake his drink.
"What's there to discuss? She's out of control and it's all my fault…"
"Draco don't be like this. They didn't mean any of those things they said."
"Yes they did and secretly you agree with them. Face it! If I wasn't her father, if, if, if Krum was her dad then it would be a completely different story wouldn't it? She might actually listen if it weren't for her Goddamn Malfoy genes."
"Stop feeling sorry for yourself," Hermione snapped angrily, unwilling to allow Draco's emotions to rule the conversation. "We have a problem on our hands in that our daughter is running wild with absolutely no thought for anyone that gets in her way." Draco hung his head and his eyes drifted past the angry flames in the hearth.
"So what do you suggest professor? We can't make her care." Hermione sighed.
"She does care Draco, she cares a great deal, she just doesn't think."
"Oh don't tell me that girl cares, especially not if you're going to say she cares about us. She used us tonight; she used us in the worst possible way. Just like she used me to get what she wanted on this same night a year ago. Remember that? She just. Doesn't. Care." Hermione turned her wounded expression away from her husband, hoping that he didn't mean any of those words; surely he didn't feel their daughter was capable of such cruelty.
"Draco Leshia is only thirteen years old. She's young…she's foolish…don't give up on her, please…"
"I'm not giving up on her," Draco countered fervently. "Just because I could throttle her doesn't mean I'm casting her out to the wolves. She's our daughter and we're stuck with her." Hermione didn't rise to the bait as even she could hear the slight amusement in her husband's tone. "I don't know what to do with her Hermione…I'm frightened for her…what if it is my genes. What if she's like me?"
"And what's so bad about you?" Hermione demanded, her hand flying to her invisible bump. Draco hung his head and shook it slowly.
"I thought we'd got off lightly," Draco was continuing. "I thought your goodness had counteracted her inheritance from my side…but maybe I was wrong."
"Draco," Hermione moaned, feeling heartbroken by her husband's words.
"I should never have had children," Draco was continuing, though he stopped when a slight sob escaped Hermione's lips. "I don't regret having her for a moment, you understand that right?" he quickly added to cover up for the heartless words he'd just spoken. "You know that don't you? You know Leshia means more to me than…than anything!" Through her tears Hermione nodded, though she couldn't forget her husband's words, nor could she help but feel dismay at the growing life safe within her womb, another one of Draco's children he had no knowledge of yet. Her worst fears were being confirmed…Draco could never want another child.
"She's a teenager Draco," Hermione finally cried out crossly, her emotions differentiating into anger. "She's acting the way she is because she's thirteen, not because she's a Malfoy."
"No you don't! Now I know you've been thrown by her finding the wardrobe and at some point we're going to have to deal with the fact that she might find out what happened in sixth year, but at the moment out principle concern is figuring out a fair punishment for Leshia."
"Can we lock her in the east tower?" Draco tried with a small smile on his face. Hermione was right, now was not the time to dwell on the events that happened in sixth year, Leshia hadn't found out about them yet.
"That tower's been derelict for years," Hermione countered amusedly.
"Exactly." The young woman giggled through the remainder of her tears and edged towards her husband, sitting down on the sofa beside him. "I told her she couldn't play quidditch tomorrow, that's a start at least."
"Hermione, I'm impressed, but I hate to tell you, she won't listen." Hermione frowned and nodded fervently.
"Oh yes she will," the young woman countered ardently, eliciting a snort of mirth from her husband. "If she does go…"
"Then what will you do?" The mood was passing, and the now broad smile on Draco's face started to ease Hermione's stretched nerves and started to mend her heartache.
"Well…she'll not know the trouble she'll be in."
"Okay, let's make a bet," Draco said cheerfully and he wrapped his arm around his wife's shoulders. "We'll wait until after training tomorrow to approach her, and if she does as she's told and doesn't go, then we'll give her a light punishment for tonight's business."
"And if she does go?" Draco smiled darkly.
"Then she'll not know what's hit her."
Leshia woke earlier than her friends the next day, but felt she couldn't face the world yet, so she stayed in bed all morning with only Philly to keep her company. She didn't know that both Katie and Rachel were in similar states or that Nicole and Ashley, their dormitory-mates, had been excusing their absence to grateful well-wishers all morning. Lunchtime came and went leaving Leshia's stomach growling with a dilemma on her hands. It wasn't fair for her parents to ask her to sacrifice her place on the Hogwarts team. Yes they could punish her as much as they saw fit, she had behaved appallingly, but they weren't within their rights to stop her from playing quidditch surely? No other children at school were grounded when they misbehaved; the worst they ever got was a howler or two and then after some embarrassment they could get on with their daily lives. So surely it wasn't fair that Leshia had to suffer because her parents were teachers at the school?
Three was ticking nearer and nearer and with it Leshia's future on the Hogwarts team. The girl wondered for a moment what her parents would do if they heard she'd gone to the training after being told not to, but in all fairness the girl hadn't heard anything from her parents yet. How long was she going to have to wait for their verdict?
At ten to something snapped deep within Leshia; there was no way she was going to try so hard to get into the squad to only throw it away because of one night of naughty behaviour. Within moments the girl had dressed in the seemingly empty dormitory, but before she had reached the door with her broom slung over her shoulder a little voice called out to her,
"Leesh?" The girl stopped in the doorway and looked back into the room.
"Rach, is that you?" Quickly Leshia crossed the dormitory and peered round the closed drapes of Rachel's four-poster. Rachel looked quite pathetic, still dressed in her pyjamas and a gigantic Grandma Weasley knitted cardigan. Her face was blotchy from her tears and the sparkle was well and truly gone from her normally bright eyes. "Hi," Leshia managed comfortingly, and after depositing her broom on the floor the girl climbed onto the bed and pulled her best friend into the crook of her arm. "Have you been in here all day?" Rachel nodded pathetically.
"I haven't heard you leave either." Leshia grinned meekly and shrugged her shoulders.
"I don't want to be seen right now," the blonde girl sighed. "Where's Katie?"
"Here," another pathetic voice came from the bed beside Rachel's.
"Hi Katie," both Leshia and Rachel offered grimly.
"Are you guys in big trouble?" Katie's disembodied voice next asked.
"Like you wouldn't believe. I've never seen my dad like that before. I don't think he loves me anymore," Rachel uttered pitifully.
"Don't be an idiot, of course he does," Leshia admonished.
"My parents shouted until my dad's voice went hoarse. I'm going to be punished over Christmas," Katie explained sadly. "It's going to be horrible."
"What about your parents Leesh?" Leshia forced a small smile onto her face.
"They're ignoring me," she finally managed with a lump in her throat. Rachel's face morphed into concern for her blonde friend. "I don't know what they're going to do. They told me no quidditch, but I have to."
"Leesh don't make things worse for yourself," Katie said firmly. Leshia smiled and shrugged her small shoulders.
"Things couldn't get any worse than they are right now and this is something I am not giving up on!" Rachel nodded in understanding, but Katie still seemed concerned.
"I hope you know what you're doing."
Leshia ran to make it to the quidditch pitch on time, managing to get there barely a few minutes late. Madam Hooch had the players doing warm-up laps and after giving Leshia a stern look nodded to the heavens to tell her to a get a move on and join her team mates. The short girl grinned apologetically at the teacher, before she clambered onto her broom and took to the skies.
After several laps and a tiring warm-up the players were granted a few minutes to have a drink and stretch before the proper training session began, which they had been warned, would be a tough one. Leshia instantly found herself at the centre of much unwanted attention.
"What was with you yesterday?" Rodeo demanded the moment he touched down beside Leshia. The girl stared at him tiredly, until finally she forced a smile onto her face.
"No seriously, we heard you freak out in the corridor, something must have happened. And then we don't see you or any of the others all day? Seriously…"
"Rodeo for once can you just leave it?" Leshia complained.
"You heard the lady Holsson," the brusque voice of Owen Gabriel came moments before the tall boy strode up beside Leshia. The young girl glanced up at him tiredly, disbelieving of his protectiveness. Obviously the young man had some wires loose and that would explain his about-turn in personality.
"Owen! What are you doing?" Leshia complained.
"Is he bothering you again?" Owen demanded of the girl.
"What do you mean again?" Rodeo spluttered indignantly. "What the hell do you know about it anyway Gabriel? You don't even know Leshia!"
"You really are an idiot aren't you Holsson?" Owen countered angrily. "I mean I always thought you were a little slow, but to pick…"
"Owen stop it," Leshia interrupted sharply. "I don't need you to fight my battles and Rodeo, for once can you just stay out of my business, please?" After a highly exasperated glare at both boys Leshia stormed off to join Mila and the Weasley cousins, who immediately started lavishing praise on the young girl for the fantastic party she and her friends had pulled off the night before. Leshia allowed their words to drag her out of her mood a little, and so by the time Madam Hooch separated them into their various groups – seekers, keepers, beaters and chasers – in order to start skill based training she was in a much better mood for it. The seekers, she and Martin Lahara from Ravenclaw (a boy she had enjoyed a rivalry with in the past) were put to task outrunning each other catching training snitches, which was very tiring work due to the competitive rivalry that lay between the two top-class seekers. For half an hour the paid desperately to outdo the other and by the end of it Leshia was happy to say she had bested the boy who was much older than herself.
After this the seekers and beaters teamed up to discuss tactics and to practise certain set plays Madam Hooch was developing, followed by an intense period of mini-matches in groups of three in order to build up stamina. Leshia enjoyed this part of the training the most, as she got to be a pseudo-chaser and managed to score several goals; as a seeker she wasn't used to actively taking part in the game and as such she had a fantastically good time.
To round off the afternoon's grilling training session Madam Hooch set the two teams against one another in a full-scale game, which dragged on for a whole hour before Leshia finally sealed victory for her team by outplaying Martin Lahara to catch the snitch.
"Well done everyone," Madam Hooch called to her players as they gathered around her on the blustery pitch, sucking on water bottles greedily. "You've shown very promising progress today. I think for now we'll leave the teams as they are…"
"Um, miss?" Mila's hand was in the air.
"Yes Miss Evanovitch?"
"Are you saying you might change the teams round?" the young chaser asked worriedly. Madam Hooch smiled at her kindly.
"If I feel that I've put people in the wrong team, then yes, I might change them round a little." Leshia felt her chest tighten…so it wasn't certain that she was a Hogwarts first? "Now then, I'm happy to say that by and large everyone was punctual today. I expect this to continue throughout the term. We will hold training sessions three times a week. Two of the days may rotate, but I feel it's safe to say that this time will remain the same each week. Keep your eyes on the notice boards." With this the youngsters were excused; the firsts wandering off in a tight huddle the same as their counterparts in order to discuss this new turn of events. So, they were going to have to fight to keep their places in the squad?
On their way back to their respective common rooms Leshia's mind was far too involved in the discussion with her team to notice the two figures who had spent the last half and hour watching the training from the school walls. They had practically stumbled upon the two figures when Leshia finally realised who they were.
'Uh oh,' she gasped to herself when she saw the bemused expressions of her parents.
"I'll catch you guys up," Leshia told her friends Owen and Mila when they hung back to wait for the girl. After glancing worriedly at the girl's angry parents they nodded to their seeker and hurried off with the others back to the castle. Leshia watched them go with the most urgent feeling of wanting to run after them, before she crossed her arms across her chest and turned her defiant expression on her parents.
"I thought I told you 'no quidditch'?" Hermione finally broke the silence.
"I know, but after carefully considering it I didn't feel it was a fair thing to ask of me," the girl replied coolly. Hermione uttered an incredulous noise while Draco smiled dangerously.
"That, as a disobedient daughter is not your call to make little one," he countered in a steely tone, before him his young daughter grinded her teeth together in frustration.
"Do you have any idea how hard I worked to get onto that team?" the girl finally demanded. "You have no right to tell me that I can't go to training. I'll get kicked off the team!"
"Well the point is moot really," Draco stated, raising his voice slightly to try and regain control of the situation. After stewing in her own misery all night, he would expect the girl to be a little more submissive, yet here before him stood the fiery monster that was teenaged-Leshia-empowered-by-testosterone. Letting her play quidditch right before confronting her had been an error on his part, he could see that now.
"What do you mean?" Leshia asked with a slight frown of confusion.
"After today you won't be playing quidditch anymore. Not for the school team, not for Gryffindor, not even as part of PE," Draco continued firmly. Leshia's jaw dropped and for a moment her eyes went as wide as dinner plates.
"You can't do that!"
"Oh yes we can, it's part of your punishment," Hermione added softly, to show that she and Draco posed a united front on this decision. It had come to this, the young woman secretly felt, they were alienating their daughter in the hope of taming her wild side…but surely no good could come of this? Draco had been adamant it was the only way to get her to calm down and behave, so Hermione had listened, though her heart screamed otherwise. Leshia would never forgive them for taking the joy out of her life.
"You know this is really rich," the girl finally managed, her small body shaking with pent up anger and upset.
"Oh yes, why is that?" Draco enquired coolly.
"Because if anyone deserves to be punished then it's you," the girl stated angrily, her eyes locking with her father's. Draco's brow lowered darkly, while Hermione's heart started thumping loudly; this was all wrong…no good could come of this.
"What did you just say?" the tall man demanded dangerously. A lesser man might have run, but Leshia wasn't afraid. She knew things, and she wasn't going to back down.
"And I don't just mean for what you did in the past either. I'm talking about what you're doing now," the girl continued furiously.
"Alecia I will not…"
"No!" the young girl finally exploded. "I will not!" Hermione hung her head so as to avoid seeing her young daughter's face contorted in hatred. How similar to her father she now seamed, and how terrifying…no good could come of this.
"Darling," Hermione tried soothingly, but her presence seemed completely irrelevant as neither husband nor daughter heeded her.
"You had better watch your tongue young lady," Draco growled darkly.
"No I won't! I'm not going to let you ruin my life when you're in over your head dad. I know what you've been doing. I know about you, so just get out of my life! From now on you're nothing to me. From now on both of you are nothing!" Anger and pain were fuelling the young girl's words, but that is all she had to go on at the moment. There was no room in her heart for compassion for Hermione's tears, nor concern for the fury on Draco's face…all she had left was anger at being treated this way.
An eerie silence swept over the family as even the winds shifted directions to avoid coming close to the heartbreaking scene. Without warning Leshia suddenly turned on heal and started marching off, ignoring with all her might the sounds of her mother crying in her wake. At the moment, she really couldn't care less. Yes she had nothing but pity for her mother, Hermione after all had no idea about Draco's past treachery, or his current sticky situation, but why had she let Draco call the shots? How could her mother, how could any mother, take from her child the one thing they held dearest of all? Yes Leshia had behaved badly and yes she agreed she ought to have been punished…but to take away quidditch…to fail to understand the importance of getting onto the Hogwarts team, well, it was unforgivable in the child's eyes.
"Damn it Draco I told you!" Hermione cried accusingly and she turned from her husband in anguish. "How could I have let you be so foolish…"
"I'm the one being foolish?" Draco demanded and he threw his hands into the air. "I give up!" he yelled into the darkening skies. "I can't deal with any of this. Leshia wants to disown us? That's fine with me!"
Long after the tempestuous young man had vacated the field the sorrowful mother stayed and wept.
For the second time within twenty-four hours Leshia burst into the common room with tears streaming down her cheeks. Anger this time however, radiated from every groove of her tightly scrunched up face and after yesterday's performance everyone gave her a very wide birth. No one blocked her path to the dormitory. Only once she had slammed the door behind herself did she have to answer for her actions.
"Leesh? What happened?" came Rachel's voice, as the redhead rolled out from behind her drapes with a look of concern on her face.
"Nothing," Leshia growled, before she made an extremely exasperated sound. "Ugh, everything! It's my stupid parents. They told me I couldn't play quidditch anymore." Rachel's eyes went wide, much as Leshia's had done at the announcement of such news.
"What?" she fumbled for words. "What did you do?"
"Well what could I do? I did what I had to, I disowned them," the girl explained obviously and she threw off her quidditch robes and started changing into something a little more comfortable. Rachel was stammering in shock.
"You what?" she finally managed.
"Like I said, I told them they meant nothing to me anymore."
"Well why the heck did you do that? You're just shooting yourself in the foot aren't you?" Leshia gave her best friend a hard look.
"They started this, not me," she finally complained, before a heavy sigh escaped her lips and she dropped down onto her trunk. "Rachel it's all so messed up. Nothing's going the way it should." Rachel furrowed her brow in concern and sat down beside her friend on the heavy trunk.
"It'll be okay, everything will work out in the end." Leshia snorted in disbelief, but nodded all the same.
"I don't know what's happening to me. It's like I can't control anything anymore, and I don't know how to stop it." Rachel grinned cockily at her friend and wrapped an arm about her shoulders in a chummy sort of way.
"That, my dear friend is the beauty of being a teenager."
And so it was that Leshia officially fell out with her parents. It was a subtle change only those who had contact with the girl and her parents noticed, but what a stark difference it made to lessons. Professor Malfoy seemed quite without his bravado, slowly sinking into a state of grim acceptance that for the second time in her life his daughter was flat-out ignoring him and pretending she was no relation of his. Professor Granger was less acclimatising to the new state of things and tried her very hardest to get Leshia to engage in her lessons, always met by complete indifference from the teenager. It was heartbreaking for the young woman, and despite Draco's assurances that eventually Leshia would come to her senses, the mother couldn't get over it in her over-emotional state.
Leshia herself was having a very bad week, which started when she read her tealeaves for their divination homework and all the signs pointed to Leshia having a dark cloud over her future, which apparently meant certain misery. Highly bemused by the whole thing Leshia had scrapped the ominous readings and instead made up some ridiculous improbable tale.
It was a week fraught with quidditch practices, with both Gryffindor team and the ISQT squad putting demands on Leshia's time. Gryffindor's first game versus Slytherin was coming up at the weekend and due to the excitement over the ISQT tryouts the team hadn't practised nearly as much as Mila would have liked – if Ryan could only see them now, he'd blow a gasket! Training with the old gang was a breathe of fresh air and even though Mila pushed them hard, Leshia enjoyed herself immensely, which was more than could be said for Wednesday's Hogwarts team practice. Leshia couldn't quite describe what had her so worked up, but every time she laid eyes on Owen she started to feel a little prickly. Why was he hanging around that Val girl so much? The training itself was difficult and Martin Lahara managed to best Leshia several times due to her lack of concentration.
"Try and make it hard for Hooch to swap you off the team won't you Leesh?" Mila told her seeker sternly when Leshia missed an easy opportunity to beat Lahara to the snitch.
"Oh just leave me alone," Leshia grumbled and she flew down to the ground to gulp greedily at her water, where she came across Val Beckett fixing a bent twig on her Firebolt 360.
"Hi," the beautiful Ravenclaw girl called to Leshia, eliciting a jerky nod from the youngster. "Awesome party at the weekend Leshia. Thanks so much for inviting us. My friends and I had a blast!" Once more Leshia nodded sharply, her slate eyes displaying a distinct lack of warmth. Val faltered in her extension of friendship. "Um, sorry to ask, but could you please pass me the trimmer, over there by my bag. I'd get it, but as you can see…" The girl trailed off and indicated her rather immobile position from under the broom she was trying to fix. Leshia glanced over to the bag and after a withering look she paced over to it, grabbed the trimmers and then marched over to Val. After considering flinging them at the beautiful young woman Leshia scolded herself for such a distasteful notion and held out the trimmers, which were soon taken from her hand.
"Thanks," Val offered, trying one last attempt at kindness before she closed the book on Alecia Malfoy for good. Val, though beautiful and lovely to those she deigned good enough for her graces, was one of those people who once scorned was lost for good. Without a word Leshia turned from her and mounted her broom, shooting back into the sky to take on Martin Lahara once more. Down on the ground Valerie Beckett scowled.
'Ruddy midget,' the beautiful girl thought to herself, before she went about lovingly trimming her Firebolt twigs.
Leshia's week didn't get any better, with Thursday delivering her a D in her Runes homework from a very disbelieving Hermione. When asked to remain behind to discuss the terrible grade Leshia merely shook her mother off saying,
"It's really none of you're concern Miss. You're my teacher, why do you care what I get?" That night when Draco had come home to find his wife in tears he'd felt the incredible urge to hunt down something small and blonde and shake some sense into the girl. He had enough on his plate trying to contain the risk that was threatening to expose his sordid past without his home life dissolving into shreds.
The weekend finally arrived without warning and Leshia found herself walking out onto the Quidditch pitch to the chorus of a few hundred hands beating together fervently in the rain. The most anticipated game of the season had arrived: the bloodbath between Gryffindor and Slytherin. And what a day for it! Black clouds circled the pitch like vultures circling a poor beast on its last legs, dousing the occupants of the pitch with an endless supply of freezing rain. Mila had offered her team an inspiring speech very much in the form of the ones Ryan Lofting used to deliver his champion team, and yet still Leshia couldn't muster the energy to feel excited about the match.
The tension rippling between the two teams was electric as they walked out together. The Mills twins seemed less threatening than usual after Leshia had now played with them instead of against them, yet they still glared furiously at the girl when they caught her watching them longer than was considered acceptable. After glaring back at the tall young men Leshia looked up the line-up till her eyes fell on Tara Heeley the Slytherin seeker. Leshia didn't rate the other girl as a player and quite frankly, was anticipating a boring match that she couldn't wait to get to the end of. Madam Hooch gave the two teams a quick warning to play fair, before she blew her whistle and everyone rose to the skies.
Immediately the superiority of the Gryffindor team became evident, with Owen saving any attempt the Slytherins made on goal, and the team of fantastically fast chasers scoring goal after goal. Their training had paid off and now they were putting to good use some of Madam Hooch's tactics. Leshia's mind was wandering as she watched Owen making save after save. He really was a fantastic player. So why was she feeling so hostile towards the boy?
"Leesh watch it!" The warning preceded the wincing blow by a few mere moments and for at least ten seconds the world had turned into a hoard of glistening sparkles in a sea of black. Warm trickling down Leshia's temple revealed that the bludgers had broken her skin.
"Are you okay?" a far away echoing voice broke through the ringing in Leshia's ears. When the girl offered no reply Tom Weasley, one of Gryffindors unrelenting beaters, flew up to meet the girl and protect her from the persistent bludgers, which seemed dead set on disbrooming Leshia. "Wake up Leesh, you're daydreaming up here," the redhead cousin of Rachel and Katie told the small seeker, who seemed to be finally coming to from her encounter with the bludgers.
"Okay," the girl assured Tom before she looked up to see Tara Heeley was hovering up the other end of the pitch. Feeling insecure that she might not catch up should the snitch pop up at the other end of the pitch Leshia made a lightning quick charge over to hover above the Slytherin seeker.
Something was wrong, as Leshia soon discovered when the whole world lurched to the left and she had to grab her broom tightly to stop herself from falling off. From the stands people gasped when they saw the girl almost throw herself from her mount; what was wrong with her? She was hanging still mid-air and yet she looked as though she was trying to hold on to a bucking horse for dear life. With spinning vision that was swimming with white blotches Leshia just about managed to look up and see Tara Heeley was diving for something.
"Oh no!" the blonde girl uttered, before she threw herself into a dive. Spiralling for some strange reason Leshia was finding it hard to keep hold of her broom, and when she tried to counter the spiralling she found herself turning even more. What was going on? Tara Heeley by now was clumsily pursuing a lazy snitch, with an incapacitated Leshia far behind, unable to keep hold of her broom.
"What's wrong with Leesh?" Rachel demanded of Katie on the sidelines; both clutching their hands to their mouths in horror.
"I think that blow to her head's done something to her," Katie finally replied worriedly. "Oh come on Leshia! Get a grip, you can do it!" Her cries were lost on the cruel rainy winds and in the middle of the pitch Leshia seemed to have regained some sort of control over her senses and she looked up to see her competitor was down the other end of the pitch hand outstretched.
"No!" Leshia cried out, and after bending down low over her broom she set off into a daredevil sprint across the pitch, artfully swooping in and out of the players mid-field. People 'oohed' in appreciation of this show of skill and they temporarily forgot about the girl's spiralling out of control for no apparent reason.
"Just a little further," Leshia urged herself on as the corners of her vision started blurring due to the cracking pace she was flying and the blow to her head slowly staking its claim on her consciousness. Tara Heeley, still ineptly swooping about the end of the pitch trying to catch the snitch saw Leshia approaching and her heart skipped a beat, if she didn't catch the golden ball soon then the Gryffindor legend would snatch it from under her nose.
"Come on Leshia!" Rachel and Katie screamed loudly, their eyes on the scoreboard, which read 150-0 to Gryffindor.
"She's going to make it!" Parys crowed at their side in triumph.
"Come on Leesh!" Rodeo bellowed beside him. Not hearing their cries, yet knowing the school's eyes were on her, Leshia powered on. Her fingers started tentatively leaving her broom handle in order to reach out to grab the snitch from between Tara Heeley's flailing hands…
"Ouw…" Muffled voices penetrated the black dimness of Leshia's nightmare. Everything hurt, and when she tried to open her eyes she realised in horror that they already were open. "I can't see," she vaguely managed to splutter.
"Calm down Miss Malfoy," came the strangely disembodied voice of Madam Pomfry. "Just take a few moments to steady yourself, you've had a nasty accident."
"What?" Leshia stammered and she started to scramble in the dark, trying to sit up right, yet feeling many restraints on herself holding her down.
"In five seconds you'll feel right as rain, I promise," the healer assured the young girl who lay struggling in her bed. Leshia didn't heed her words of wisdom and still struggled until quite suddenly her vision cleared and she suddenly found herself jerking up in her bed, finally able to move. Many of her friends stood at the end of her bed, drenched from head to toe looking delighted that Leshia had come around. None of them could remember feeling more afraid than at that horrible moment when Leshia ploughed headfirst into the ground at her cracking pace. The girl had been buried under the earth she dug up in her descent and when the teachers unearthed her, she had been a bloody state.
"Did we win?" Leshia blurted out the moment she saw the gathered Gryffindors at the foot of the bed. Their faces fell and for a moment Leshia couldn't breathe. "I lost…I didn't catch it did I?"
"Well not exactly," Rachel tried tactfully. "But it doesn't matter!" she quickly added enthusiastically.
"Yeah we still drew," Mila assured the girl, hiding her disappointment well. Leshia threw her hands up to her face and her head dropped back.
"I'm so sorry," she finally moaned.
"Don't be an idiot Malfoy, we're just glad you're alive," Owen complained and Leshia looked through the slits between her fingers to see a concerned expression on the young man's face.
"Where are my mum and dad?" Leshia suddenly demanded, temporarily forgetting about her feud with them.
"Um, they just left actually when you started coming round. They didn't think you'd want them here," Katie explained gently. "Why, do you want us to get them?" With a jerk of her head Leshia suddenly remembered what had gone on a week ago and she quickly shook her head.
"No, it's okay, you're alright thanks."
Leshia recovered well in the hospital wing and after a few hours was given leave to go. Her best friends guided her back to the common room where she was met with supportive nods from the disappointed fans. Feeling quite rubbish Leshia retired to their dormitory in order to get on with her homework and keep a low profile.
Week two of operation 'ignore mum and dad' was more difficult than the first, as after nearly seeing their daughter top herself on the quidditch pitch had made Hermione and Draco more determined to make it up to the girl. She flat-out ignored their olive branches however, stepping up a notch her level of ignoring them. Just how long this was going to go on for she didn't know, but until she felt vindicated for them trying to ruin her life she was going to carry on ignoring them.
Katie and Rachel didn't intervene. They could see Leshia's dismissal of her parents was nowhere near the scale she had waged war on Draco in their first year. The girl still loved Draco and Hermione deeply, but she was too angry to get over her pride, and until she could do that, everyone would wait for her. Even Hermione was finding it easier to deal with Leshia's tantrums, perhaps even to see some amusement in the situation.
Wednesday brought the second ever meeting of the Blue Lions in which several muggle borns recited tales of their muggle born friends feeling fearful and followed and even of one Hufflepuff girl who had fallen into a bush of poisonous bushes in herbology claiming she had been pushed when there was no one else in the room with her. The mystery thickened and afterwards Rachel confided to Leshia that she was a little afraid.
With a week full of quidditch practices Leshia was happy that Saturday brought to her finally a match where she could simply be a spectator when Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw decked it out late in the afternoon. Leshia found herself sandwiched between her Gryffindor pals and was having a thoroughly good time enjoying the match, though every time the beautiful chaser Val would take hold of the quaffle the girl would boo, and every time a bludgers caught the girl off guard Leshia would cheer spitefully. This cruelty was surprising to her friends.
"Why are you being like that?" Rachel asked when Leshia cheered a Hufflepuff goal that had come about due to a Val-error.
"Like what?" Leshia shouted over the noise.
"You're being really weird. Why don't you like Valerie Beckett? She's really nice," Katie enquired.
"Yeah, and aren't you and her on the same team for Hogwarts?" Rachel added. "Shouldn't you like cheer her on or something?" Leshia rolled her eyes.
"Lighten up," the blonde-haired girl laughed and this was the only response Katie and Rachel would receive, though Leshia did tone down her open hostility toward Valerie Beckett. She couldn't have Rachel and Katie thinking her cruel and heartless, no matter how much Val irritated the young girl.
Sunday was dominated by even more quidditch with training for both Gryffindor and the Hogwarts teams jostling for space in the players' busy schedules. Leshia threw herself into practice, trying to show she wasn't useless after her disastrous fall the week before. Though training was far from ideal with the amount of time Owen and Val were spending together. Leshia felt invigorated and after the Hogwarts practice had long finished the girl requested to spend more time on the pitch to do some more laps and exercises. Madam Hooch was more than happy to oblige and so she left the girl to it.
For half an hour Leshia zoomed round the goalposts, pushing herself to exhaustion, trying to vent the negative emotions that had permeated her thoughts the last two weeks. It felt good to let herself go. Walking back to the castle Leshia was sure she might even forgive her parents should they wander up to her at this moment in time, but all this was about to change.
"No you stop it…" Leshia pricked her ears up as the giggling voice of Valerie Beckett bounced off the walls of the corridor round the corner from the Fat Lady.
'Who's she speaking to?' Leshia wondered to herself and she sped up to round the corner. Instantly she wished she hadn't when her eyes fell on Valerie Beckett and Owen Gabriel arms loosely wrapped around each other, a cosy intimacy bringing smiles to their faces intermittently interrupted by playful kisses. Leshia stopped still in her tracks and stared up the corridor in horror. She was not seen and long after she had run from the spot heading in any other direction than towards the two loved-up teenagers Owen Gabriel got the strangest feeling that he was being watched.