The girl woke with a start in the dead of night with a terrible sinking feeling. The 'dream' that had been plaguing her nights all summer always left her feeling this way, with a cold sweat running down her brow, and the knowledge that she wouldn't find sleep again that night. After a quick glance at the clock above her desk, the girl groaned, it was still only four-o clock. That meant there was still four hours before she and her father Draco would be making their way to the quidditch event of the decade: the final of the quidditch World Cup. What made this event more exciting was that England was playing. After a very shaky start in the tournament, the seven English flyers had finally got their act together and though far from being a dead cert to win, they were capable of doing so.
Four hours, a long time for a very excitable twelve-year-old girl. Leshia, as was this girl's name, was more excited than most, and it wasn't the idea of watching this legendary quidditch match that had her in such spirits – though arguably it didn't hinder her mood – no, it was the prospect of meeting up with her best friends: Katie Potter and Rachel Weasley. All their summer plans to meet up had been dashed by illness; injury; sick relatives; surprise visits from friends and family and even at one point, a rogue hurricane. Not seeing her partners in crime had put a damper on Leshia's summer holiday, though they had not ruined it entirely. The reason for this being the quality time she was able to spend with her mother Hermione, who had only recently been rescued from a six-year capture.
Following their six year separation it would seem the mother and daughter had lots to catch up on and they relished in the weekends around Britain to look for fascinating Runes for Hermione's lessons – she was taking her new appointment as Runes teacher at Hogwarts the wizarding school very seriously, the day trips to Diagon Alley, redecorating their dilapidated London townhouse and especially their two week family holiday in China. Draco too took pleasure in most of these activities, though he flat out refused to go on any historical weekend trips and after witnessing their first day trip to Diagon Alley – filled with tea-drinking, clothes shopping, book toting madness – he decided to stay at home whenever they headed into town, unless he desperately needed something that he trusted neither of them to get.
Life at the Malfoy house was now back to normal, if not better, as each night every single member of this family would go to bed knowing how lucky they were to have one and other. And now, at four in the morning, Leshia was pondering this once more. Life with Draco had been great. She was a definite daddy's little girl despite her fast approaching teenagerhood, but growing up a motherless wretch had been difficult and the girl was amazed by the things she could talk to her mother about. She had always believed that she could talk to Draco about anything and everything, but after a few months back in the care of her mother she realised how wrong she was.
Her main concern was her distinct lack of growth, in any direction! She could eat and eat and eat and still not put on any weight, she remained a scrawny looking little thing. Height-wise she wasn't growing either, that was for sure, and now that the girl was a few months short of her thirteenth birthday, she was beginning to wonder when other developments would start appearing. Katie and Rachel had both been displaying signs of normal pubescent growth, but as yet, Leshia remained child-like.
"Someone put a curse on me when I was a baby didn't they?" she had demanded one particular rainy and miserable Saturday, when her trip into London to visit her friends had been cancelled due to Hagrid dropping by unannounced at the Potters and Rachel's little sister Hermia falling down a well. Her mother's reaction had been less than comforting, as Hermione uttered something reminiscent of a snigger. "They did didn't they? So I would stay a child forever!" Her mother's assurances that she too was a late bloomer had not been comforting, and yet, the thought that she could discuss such things with her mother at any time she wanted was exceedingly comforting. She certainly couldn't talk about woman's issues with her father. Draco had walked in on one of these discussions one day, and proceeded to blush a furious red and walk out again knocking over a whole row of books without even noticing.
And yet, for all that, they still continued to be impossibly close. A daddy's girl she remained, but now, she was also a mummy's girl, and the family couldn't have been happier. As Leshia looked over the clippings she'd been gathering of the England team's flops and triumphs, she couldn't believe her luck: to actually watch the final from a VIP box. Proclaiming these seats had been a joint effort by their good family friends Harry Potter and Arthur Weasley – who would be among the mass group of twenty-five Potters, Weasleys and Malfoys going on this trip. Arthur Weasley, Rachel and Katie's grandfather, was now a highly esteemed wizard in the ministry. Many had looked to him to take over before Crayik was elected, but Arthur didn't wish for such a life, when would he find time to tinker with his muggle toys?
England were going to be playing Bulgaria, a team that had been consistently good for decades. Their captain, the now venerable and highly esteemed Viktor Krum would be making his final international appearance and the thought of seeing this legendary player in the flesh had had Leshia and her friends on tenterhooks all summer. They were holding a Krum Countdown and even before Leshia had gone to bed she had crossed off the last box, as it had been after midnight when the girl finally nodded off to sleep. Outside the sun was rising and Leshia decided that there was no hope of sleep so she crawled from her bed and headed silently over to her door. There was silence in the house beyond, so after slipping into her slippers she pushed her door open and crept out along the creaky landing. Over their years of living in the townhouse Leshia had become an expert at avoiding all the major creaking patches on the landing and the worst offending stairs, so by the time she got downstairs she'd made the least amount of noise possible and was satisfied that she hadn't woken her parents.
As her feet touched the first of the slate tiles in the hallway she looked instinctively to the cracked one she had been seeing almost every night in her dreams. Everything, from the three major cracks snaking out from the now softened dent, to the strange star-like pattern the jar had made when it thudded into the tile were exactly as her dream had predicted. As she ran her fingers over the rugged cracks in the beautifully old tile the skin started to creep on the back of her neck.
"Leshia….no!" The spectre of her father's startled and anguished cry seemed to permeate from the walls and in surprise Leshia jumped back knocking into the console table, which in turn deposited its load onto the ground. The vase that now lay broken on the tiles had not been a precious item, but the sound it made reverberated round the lofty hall and up to the landing.
"What are you doing?" her father's amused voice came, but he did not appear at the top of the stairs, instead he appeared from the kitchen smiling tiredly.
"It was an accident," Leshia quickly exclaimed.
"You know," Draco said fondly, crouching down by the vase and pointing his wand at the broken shards. After a silent incantation on his part, the pieces flew back into their original shape and the vase was fixed. "You've been spending an unusual amount of time lurking around the hall this summer," he continued and he got back to his feet regarding his daughter with a half raised head and suspicion in his eyes. "Something the matter? Should we redecorate? Your mother's torn apart the rest of the house, I was hoping we could leave at least one room in tact."
"Well…" Leshia said and she looked from the cracked wall to the tile beneath the stairs. "It's looking a bit slummy," she continued with a shrug. "Like that crack, can't be repair that?" She gauged her father's reaction, but he merely looked over his shoulder and shrugged.
"It's never really bothered me, it's an old house," he countered. Leshia nodded vaguely. "Anyway, what are you doing up? You know, aside from demolishing your mother's conveniently placed feminine touches," he said with a smile and started ambling back to the kitchen. Leshia quickly followed and found that Draco had been working – something that had bothered Leshia a lot this summer was that the ministry, taking advantage of Draco's holiday, had been posting him top secret work that they could only use his help with and Draco was so eager for repentance that he hadn't refused it – as the dining table was buried under a trail of parchments and documents.
"I couldn't sleep," Leshia replied and she dropped down in the chair beside her father's, absent-mindedly looking over the strewn documents.
"Neither could I," Draco said with an excited smile. "I've been looking forward to this for months…well, not the part about having to share a tent with more Weasleys than I can handle." Leshia giggled and pictured him sharing a bunk bed with Ron, who happened to be snoring raucously driving everyone to distraction in Leshia's fantasy – though she had it on good authority from Rachel that sometimes Ron's snoring could get quite unbearable. "Look," Draco suddenly said and he sounded so serious that Leshia dragged herself out of her happy daydream and looked him in the eyes. He was looking concerned. "I'm sorry if I haven't really been around this summer, but I thought you and your mother…"
"Dad it's fine, what are you talking about?" Leshia asked worriedly, she didn't like it when her father faltered.
"I don't know," Draco sighed and he looked back to his work, fingering the corner of a document absent-mindedly. "I guess I've just missed you that's all…" Leshia frowned and instead of stating the obvious that she'd been there the whole time, she reached out and put her arm around his shoulder. She'd been feeling the same. It was wonderful to have Hermione back where she belonged, but the focus had rather been on her reintegration into the family, and Leshia and Draco's special bond had been relegated to the back seat for a while. "Listen to me," Draco suddenly chuckled brusquely, trying to cover up his emotions. "I sound like an old woman, just tired that's all sweetheart."
"Have you even gone to bed?" his daughter asked sounding concerned. Draco shrugged.
"It had to get done," he said meekly.
"No it didn't, you're such a swot dad, it's like asking for extra homework," Leshia complained and she pushed the documents away. "You're going to bed!" she said firmly and she jumped to her feet trying to drag him up by his elbow. Draco laughed genially and after casting the half-finished case-file a grim look he realised Leshia was right so he got to his feet and allowed his excitable young daughter to drag him back up the creaky stairs to his bedroom door, beyond which Hermione was still sleeping soundly.
"It's okay," he laughed when Leshia was all set on pushing him in. "I can manage from here. You should get some sleep too you know."
"I'll try," Leshia countered with a smile and she headed back across the landing to see she had everything packed. "Sweet dreams dad!"
Just under four hours later and Leshia was awoken from a dreamless sleep by a clattering in the hallway. Looking at her clock she realised it was nearly time for their scheduled departure on the portkey for their area and a sliver of panic ran through her. She leapt from her bed tripping over her bag as she went.
"Ow," she groaned as she lifted herself up from the ground, reaching to her cheek and rubbing it painfully where she had bitten it in her fall. The hot sensation of blood filling her mouth made her want to wretch. "Mum!" she called out sounding pained, but it would seem that Hermione was otherwise detained on the landing as the sound of her parents talking wafted in through the door. With a cringe Leshia swallowed the blood in her mouth and made her way over to the door, pulling it open to reveal Draco bent double in laughter and Hermione watching him with fond bemusement. "Dad," Leshia tried pathetically and both her parents instantly spun around and saw Leshia clasping her cheek with the makings of tears in her eyes.
"What happened?" Hermione asked sounding very concerned and she rushed over enveloping her daughter in her arms.
"I fell and bit my cheek," Leshia managed.
"Ooh," Draco exclaimed with a wince, having seen Leshia's bloodstained mouth when she spoke. He walked over too and crouched down in front of her. "Open you mouth," he ordered gently. Leshia complied as a tear trickled down her cheek.
"Lumos," Draco uttered and he pointed his wand light inside his daughter's mouth revealing four cuts on the inside of her right cheek. He bit his lip thoughtfully and then looked up at his wife. "Over to you," he then managed brusquely and he climbed to his feet moving out of Hermione's way. She gave him a fond look and took his place, taking out her own wand.
"Oh, sweetheart," she exclaimed when she saw the damage. "Don't worry, it's easily put right," she then added comfortingly and she gave her daughter a reassuring smile, while Draco crouched behind Leshia wrapping his arms around her. "Draco? Light?"
"Oh sorry." Leaning round Draco aimed his wand in the direction of Leshia's open mouth and Hermione went about silently fixing the cuts. This only took a matter of moments and soon the pain was gone and excitement had taken over.
"Come on dad, we have to hurry," Leshia suddenly exclaimed the moment the pain had gone and she rushed off to the bathroom to wash her mouth out. Draco stood up fully and looked at Hermione with a 'go on then' look. She smiled and rolled her eyes.
"Leshia?" she called after her daughter.
"Yeah?" came the gargling reply from the bathroom.
"How would you feel if I joined you and your father on your trip?" she asked. Hermione and Draco looked to one and other when no reply came, but when the sound of choked coughing filled their ears they realised why.
"See," Draco said as though this was all the proof they needed of his conviction that it was a very bad idea for Hermione to come along. Hermione gave him a fond sarcastic smile, before Leshia suddenly appeared on the landing again looking surprised and red in the face from her coughing bout.
"You want to come?" she asked wearily, knowing full well Hermione's opinions on Quidditch. At first the young woman had quite enjoyed it, but with some new rule regulations, it had grown decidedly more violent and ever since Draco was knocked cold for an entire week when he played for the ministry side back when Leshia was barely a toddler, she had turned decidedly prickly towards the sport. Hearing of Leshia's exploits in the game had not helped Hermione-quidditch relations much either. Ignoring the suspicious look on Leshia's face, and the smug smile on Draco's, Hermione smiled brightly.
"Yes, I do," she said firmly. Leshia glanced to Draco, silently asking him whether her mother was being serious. He grinned fondly at her and shrugged his shoulders.
"Why?" Leshia asked. Hermione made an exasperated sigh and indicated her watch.
"Look, you two can stand here and make fun of me all you want, but I'm coming, and if we don't set off now we'll miss the port-key," Hermione complained feeling a bit put out that Leshia had reacted exactly in the same way Draco had, though arguably, Draco had expressed more mirth than their daughter at the idea of Hermione wanting to watch a Quidditch match.
This seemed to bring Leshia back to her senses and she rushed to her room to grab her belongings. Hermione looked at Draco with a look that dared him to try to object, but he merely chuckled warmly and kissed his wife's forehead.
"I'm happy you're coming," he said lovingly and then rushed off to get his own bags. Soon the small family was rushing up the road with their bags in tow, heading for a house round the corner where another wizarding family had set up a port-key to the grounds in France. It didn't take them long to reach the grand townhouse and even before they had made their way up the path to the front door, it swung open revealing the jolly face of Michael Summers, a once-work associate of Draco's.
"Cutting it a bit fine aren't you Malfoy?" he laughed jovially and he helped the family through to the parlour where several other witches and wizards were waiting patiently for their arrival. Draco clapped his friend on the back heartily as the Malfoys joined the circle.
"Perfect timing Michael, there's a difference," Draco told him.
"It's just coming up to eight-o clock in ten seconds," Summers announced. " Everyone ready?" In a rush everyone reached forward and placed a finger on the small bowl standing in the middle of the circular console table. " See you all on the other side," he then cheered jovially as every single one of the travellers felt a hook like sensation behind their belly buttons and then the unpleasant sensation of swirling towards the centre of the bowl. After several unpleasant moments everyone reappeared in a wood, amongst several other bewildered looking travellers.
"Eight-o clock from Dock Street?" a man in a strange ministry uniform asked the party seconds after they appeared looking dishevelled and a little green. Summers stepped forward and nodded shakily.
"Yes, that's us," he told them and they were led away from the wood towards the camping grounds. Luckily for the ministry, a very rich landowner had married a witch ten years previously and then had an extremely unfortunate accident involving a self-cleaning cauldron, leaving her his entire estate. The late Monsieur Lemair's widow Adrienne was an awfully big fan of quidditch and had instantly offered her vast estate as a site for the world cup when she found out France had won the bid.
Her estate was ideally suited for building the vast stadium, as it contained acres of rolling fields, bordered by a very thick wood. Muggles had no place at the estate and it was already designed to ward them off with several enchantments. There weren't any settlements for miles around. Madam Lemair had easily convinced the ministry and the Internation Quidditch Federation and now her dreams were coming to fruition and she could ogle the young quidditch legends to her heart's content.
Three camping grounds had been designated and the Malfoys would be joining a veritable clan of Potters and Weasleys in camping ground A, where they had already spent a fun-filled night. Draco navigated their way through the myriad of strange tents and contraptions the wizarding folk of the world had descended upon the French countryside with, and soon could see a small gathering of red-haired people up ahead, intermittently divided by a jet-black head of hair.
"Rachel! Katie!" Leshia suddenly exploded when her eyes fell on her friends, and she started careening over to the two girls. They spotted Leshia before they heard her and instantly started running out to greet her. The three girls met in the middle in a messy heap of giggles and chatter. By the time their parents had ambled over and started greeting one and other they had separated and only now did they get a good look at one another.
"Katie?" Leshia asked uncertainly, when she realised that her friend was looking different.
"I know," Katie groaned and her shoulders drooped as she looked down at her new lanky appearance, still trying to adjust to the fact that the ground was further away now after her intense growth-spurt. Rachel started laughing at her side.
"She's like a beanpole isn't she?" Rachel crooned triumphantly. Leshia looked up at the towering height of her friend and felt a little putout.
"How did this happen?" Leshia asked uncertainly, causing both Katie and Rachel to burst out laughing.
"It's called growth you moron, someday it might happen to you too," Rachel teased fondly. Leshia, forgetting her momentary disappointment, burst into a smile and play punched her redheaded friend on the arm.
"Now now children, play nice," Ron's voice came as finally the parents had said all their hellos. The girls rolled their eyes in typical preteen fashion, before Rachel and Katie took Leshia by the arms and rushed her off towards the tent.
"Come and see what an awful tent we have," Katie exclaimed dramatically and soon they reached a small green ugly looking thing with an English flag propped up on a shaky looking flag in what could possibly be construed as a front garden (where had those potted plants come from?).
"Oh those," Rachel sighed in an embarrassed way when she saw Leshia looking at them grimly. "Mum." This ought to have been answer enough, but Leshia knew she was going to get a blow by blow account of how exactly Lavender had exerted her ghastly feminine touches when she was absent from this particular sojourn – having decided that spending the weekend knee-deep in mud and burly wizards and witches was not her cup of tea. It transpired that Lavender's protégé Hermia, Rachel's little sister by one year, had demanded that they be placed outside under Lavender's orders. The other girls' attempts to remove them had been in vein and in the end had begrudgingly accepted them.
"Come on, we've got our own room," Katie said eagerly and the girls disappeared behind the tent-flap emerging in a gloomy dingy looking apartment. Leshia wrinkled her nose at the musty smell – and the many snoozing girls taking up almost every square inch of living space.
"This way," Rachel instructed and she led them through to the only bedroom the tent held. It contained a double bed that currently had two sleeping bags strewn across it, it wasn't terribly large, but with the exception of Katie, the girls were quite small and would easily fit. Leshia dumped her stuff on the bed and then beamed at her friends.
"So who's here exactly?" Leshia asked with a frown, she had definitely seen Amy and Sarah amongst the sleeping bodies, but the other Weasleys were all too similar to tell apart. Katie and Rachel exchanged a glance and a heavy sigh.
"Well Hermia's here obviously," Rachel grumbled. "And what's worse is she's coming to Hogwarts this year! I just can't believe that…"
"Staying on topic," Katie laughed, she and Leshia had been hearing about the tragedy that was Hermia coming to Hogwarts all summer.
"Oh right," Rachel managed. "Emilia's here too," she explained naming one of her other little sisters, barely a year younger than Hermia.
"Sarah's little sister Annie's here," Katie added.
"Annie," Leshia repeated thinking hard. "She's the same age as Hermia right?" Both Rachel and Katie nodded.
"So is Tom's little sister Laura, she's here too," Rachel added. "Who else is here?" Both Katie and Rachel frowned, trying to think of the tenth girl in their tent.
"Oh Lara!" Katie suddenly exclaimed.
"Yeah Lara, how could I forget? She and Emilia are inseparable," Rachel grumbled. Leshia nodded slowly, trying to remember all the girls' names. She had grown up amongst the Weasleys, almost as one of them, but her best friends had so many cousins, it was difficult to remember everyone's names, particularly as in the last few years she hadn't been spending as much time with them and they had all grown and changed in this time.
"Is Michael here?" Leshia asked Katie, who rolled her eyes petulantly and nodded. Her brother had stepped up a notch irritating behaviour this summer in her opinion. His coming to Hogwarts in the new school year was equally as traumatic for her as Hermia's arrival was for Rachel.
"Hey," Rachel suddenly said gleefully, her eyes dancing mischievously. "Shall we wake the others up?" Katie and Leshia exchanged a sideways concerned glance.
"Yeah…" Leshia said slowly, thinking back to Rachel's alarm-clock-like tendencies. "We don't find that as amusing as you do."
"No, look what we got yesterday from a stall," Rachel exclaimed gleefully and she pulled out a loud horn.
"Hey yeah," Katie suddenly crowed happily. As the two cousins started scheming, wondering which of their relatives they should scare the most, Leshia sat back and watched them with a strange euphoric feeling inside. Even though she had enjoyed the summer immensely, there was nothing so fun as the sisterhood she shared with Katie and Rachel. Meeting up with them again was like coming home, and she couldn't wait for the school year to start so as they could get back to their old tricks again.
In the end, the girls decided that Hermia ought to get the full brunt of the horn abuse due to the terribleness of the plants she had forced on them all. They crept, giggling silently into their sleeves, through the sleeping redheads until they located Rachel's distinctly auburn little sister. Barely able to contain her mirth, Rachel reached out with the horn and then pressed it loudly. It was louder than they had anticipated, being magically enhanced, and the effect it had on Hermia wasn't as funny as they had imagined, as she jumped up screaming in agony.
"Uh oh," Rachel managed before half the parents came filing into the tent wondering what all the fuss was about and all the other girls, having jumped from their sleeping bags, now saw the cause of the racket and started loudly complaining about their rude awakening.
"Rachel!" Ron managed sounding shocked when he saw his second born child crying and holding her hands up to her ears. "What did you do to your sister?"
"I…uh…" The three best friends glanced to one and other with cringing expressions; this was not the best way to start their holiday together. By now Hermione and Draco had clambered into the packed chaotic apartment and neither one of them looked terribly impressed. Draco even had his arms crossed, and that could never be good Leshia had come to understand over her twelve years of trouble making.
"You three, outside," Ginny said forcefully to the girls and they were frogmarched out into the horrendous front garden of the tent and sat down side by side on one of the deck chairs, while inside Harry and Hermione – arguably the best at healing magic – tried to see if they could do anything about Hermia's evidently perforated eardrum. Their absence left Ginny, Ron and Draco to be the 'bad cop' parents, and they lined up in front of their daughters looking displeased – arguably…they looked as though they had varying measures of displeasure. Ginny was looking the most stern; Ron was looking slightly affronted with having to be the confrontational parent (this was usually Lavender's job); and Draco was looking slightly amused by the whole thing.
"Who's brilliant idea was this then?" Ginny asked sternly. The girls looked to one and other anxiously.
"All of ours," Leshia finally replied, ever the ringleader.
"Well then all of you can share in the punishment," Ron managed meekly. "Right?" he checked with his younger sister, but she was ignoring him.
"Why is it that whenever you three get together chaos shortly ensues?" Ginny asked sounding amazed by it all. "If you girls put that mastermind of yours to good use, instead of mischief, who knows what you could achieve." Despite their very best efforts not to laugh the girls all started smirking in an attempt to suppress their laughter at Ginny's reference to their joint 'mastermind', but they soon stopped sniggering when Ginny looked at them firmly.
"Why don't you go and collect the water," Ron suggested, once more glancing to Ginny for confirmation. She rolled her eyes at her brother, but nodded to the girls.
"Yes I think you'd better," she said and the girls didn't need telling twice. Within seconds they had jumped to their feet, collected the empty water canisters and ran off to the water pump whispering about 'boring grown-ups'. Once they'd disappeared between the crowds Ginny wheeled on the men at her side. "Thanks for the contribution boys," she said fondly. Draco grinned and shrugged his shoulders.
"You were doing such a good job Ginny," he said cheerfully. "And we all know how much you like to call the shots."
"What and you don't?" Ron sniggered. Draco grinned devilishly.
"Me? I just go with the flow…" he began charmingly.
"Oh give over Draco," Ginny chuckled. "Katie's told us all about your reign of terror at Hogwarts. You can punish with the best of them. That daughter of yours has you wrapped around your little finger." Draco grinned at his friend in a 'whatever you say' way; a look that coincidentally, drove Hermione up the wall whenever he deigned to cast it at her.
"That daughter of mine does as she's told, it's only when she's around those hoodlum children of yours that she gets big ideas," he flat out lied. Leshia was arguably the criminal mastermind of the trio, and she was no less so when she was at home. That girl had never liked authority; she was after all a Malfoy. Ron and Ginny started laughing so hard at Draco's ludicrous statement, that they had to excuse themselves: Ginny to check on the boys, and Ron to see whether Hermia had recovered yet. Hermia though, was the daughter Ron could connect with the least. The girl was the exact replica of her mother in looks and persona, and Ron had a hard enough time reading Lavender. Arguably, he would have to say Rachel and her little sister Ria, who was a middle girl aged eight, were his favourites, as he could relate to them better than their sisters.
"God, no one around here knows how to take a joke," Rachel grumbled as they waited in line for the water pump. Leshia and Katie exchanged a suppressed grin.
"We did like deafen your sister Rach, maybe we did deserved what we got," Leshia tried logically, with a thoughtful look on her face.
"Oh she had it coming," Rachel grumbled, but then her face lit up. "Hey, maybe she'll have to go home now! Wouldn't that be great?" Katie and Leshia laughed with their friend, but secretly hoped their trick hadn't cost the poor girl a chance to see this legendary match. Granted, just why the clothes mad, make-up loving, girlie girl had decided to come to a quidditch match was beyond them, but she didn't deserve to get sent home deaf. "After that Mistress Millie incident, she deserves to be stuffed down the gullet of the giant squid I tell you!" Katie burst out laughing, but Leshia remained confused.
"What's the Mistress Millie incident?" she asked sounding a little false and unsure; she hated it that she hadn't spent as much time with her friends as they had blatantly spent with one and other.
"Oh you didn't hear? It's hilarious!" Katie assured the smallest of the friends.
"Katie," Rachel hissed.
"What? It's just Leesh, she's going to find out sooner or later," Katie assured their redheaded friend, who had this moment was looking rather red skinned too. Leshia's brow became more furrowed as Katie's reference to her being 'just Leesh' stung a little.
"Okay fine," Rachel grumbled and Katie turned on Leshia with a big smile, ready to tell the story.
"Oh look, we're next," Leshia said falsely, not sure she even wanted to know anymore. Katie and Rachel both looked a little surprised and hurt by their ringleader's disinterest in their story and gave each other questioning glances as Leshia started to fill her canisters with water from the tap.
"Don't you want to know?" Rachel asked as she used the tap next to Leshia's. Leshia turned and smiled at her, before she shrugged and turned back to her canisters.
"Well do you know the Mistress Millie Don't I Dress Silly? section of the Prophet?" Rachel tried, deciding she would try anyway. Leshia nodded, still watching the water level in her canister rather than her friend. "Well Hermia wrote in with a picture of me from two Halloweens ago, you know, when I was wearing an umbrella as a hat and that ghastly Dementor costume? Well, they put me in the column. It was so embarrassing! I was the laughing stock of the entire nation for about three weeks!" Despite herself Leshia sniggered.
"People were even asking her for autographs," Katie tried tentatively. Leshia laughed even more, and finally she looked up at her friends gleefully.
"When was this?" she laughed.
"It was when you were in France with your family," Katie explained. "We did send you a copy of the Prophet."
"Yeah, but Tally probably burnt it," Leshia sighed as she stepped back from the tap with her two full canisters.
"Why?" the other two laughed.
"Because of the houself strike that went on in the summer," Leshia said glumly. "She couldn't bear to see such blasphemy, so she kept burning the papers before my dad got to read them. I swear, I've never seen him so close to kicking that elf out. One morning she just snatched it from his hand and threw it into the fire. I swear, he was hovering behind her with a whole pile of clothes, but she must have sensed it, because she ran off." The other two were in reams of laughter now.
"I'm surprised your mum hasn't let her go, she's still really against houselves right?" Katie asked seriously. Leshia grinned her lopsided grin.
"And you think Tally would listen to my mum?" she sniggered as the girls started back towards the tents. "She won't listen to my mum at all. Even though she offered the ungrateful little toad a salary and like five weeks paid holiday…" Leshia sighed and shook her head. "She's started a secret bank account at Gringots for the silly little fool, and one day when Tally's old and retired she's going to give her the key. Damn thing would probably give it all back."
The girls' return to the tents was not well met, as Molly and Arthur, who had been collecting breakfast at the time of the foghorn incident had come back to find the chaos the trio had left behind. Arthur had been secretly amused by it all once he found out Hermia would be fine, but Molly was livid, in true grandmother fashion.
"You three," she cried out indignantly when the girls arrived with the water canisters. She marched over with her finger held out; the girls stepped back slightly, fearing it had magic properties of its own, "Hello Leshia darling, it's very nice to see you," Molly suddenly exclaimed, but then she turned serious once more. "But what a return I tell you! There are to be no more tricks or pranks, do I make myself clear?"
"Yes Mrs Weasley." Came the muffled replies from the girls as they shuffled their feet and tried to avoid the fiery woman's gaze.
"Now," Molly carried on less angrily. "Let me take a look at you," Molly said turning on Leshia and reaching out to lift her chin. Tears welled up in her eyes, she wasn't accustomed to seeing Leshia very frequently. With no grandparents of her own, Molly had taken Leshia under her wing and for the longest time Leshia did in fact call her grandma along with the rest of the brood, but after Hermione's disappearance and visits became infrequent, this habit had unfortunately been lost. "Oh look how you've grown," Molly crooned and she pulled Leshia into a hug.
"Hardly," Rachel sniggered, and she quickly looked away as Molly threw her a silencing look.
"You're so pretty my darling," Molly continued and she pulled back again. "Have the boys started falling head over heals for you yet?" Leshia glowed bright red and she looked to the ground while her best friends tried very hard to suppress their laughter.
"Oh plenty," Katie managed and Molly beamed at her.
"I always knew they would, you're just…"
"Molly," Hermione suddenly called out and she wrapped an arm around the greying red-haired woman. "It's so good to see you." As Molly enveloped Hermione in an embrace the young woman grinned at her daughter over Molly's shoulder and then jerked her head indicating they were free to escape. Leshia beamed at her mother, but didn't need telling twice, so she escaped with Katie and Rachel in pursuit.
"Where are you girls going?" Draco asked them suspiciously. They skidded to a halt and turned around slowly, weary of his mannerisms as a teacher, and wondering whether he would be so unpredictable when he was off duty as it were. Draco was chewing on an apple with a carefree expression on his face, but underneath there was a small degree of suspicious interest.
"Just to explore," Leshia said innocently enough. For several moments Draco chewed on his mouthful of apple, watching them still with his stoical gaze, until eventually he nodded and swallowed.
"Well go on then," he said and only then did the girls visibly relax and dart away. Sitting outside the dads' tent was Ron, who shook his head in amazement.
"I wish I had that kind of power," he said enviously. Draco turned to him and grinned.
"Never going to happen Weasley," he said cheerfully and he threw the remains of his apple into the fire.
"Maybe I should become a teacher," the redhead was continuing. "Then maybe they'd be afraid of me too." Draco grinned darkly and turned to watch the girls running off, wondering about the thin line between fear and respect. He hoped his daughter and her friends didn't fear him…
The girls spent hours wandering around the grounds, watching the stadium from afar, wondering when they would be able to start filing in for the three-o clock start of the match and also wondering where the players were staying.
"Probably at the great house," Katie said thoughtfully and the girls all looked to the blip on the horizon that they believed to be this so called 'great house' that they had heard so much about.
"Do you think we could make it there and back before the game?" Rachel asked with a grin on her face.
"I don't think so," Leshia said cheerfully.
"Doesn't your mum know Krum?" Katie asked turning on Leshia with a curious look. Leshia shrugged her shoulders.
"Not anymore I don't think," she said. "I think he made a pass at her when she was pregnant with me, but she was with my dad so she turned him down and he went ape or something…I don't really know. My dad says he decked him…but my…"
"Rodeo! Parys!" Katie suddenly yelled. Leshia frowned and turned around along with Rachel to see that indeed their two friends from Gryffindor were running towards them and boy, had they grown! They had already been quite tall, but now, they were taller than even Katie.
"We've been looking all over for you guys," Rodeo exclaimed.
"Rodes…" Leshia said with a frown. "What happened to your voice?" Rodeo grinned at her and rolled her eyes.
"I'm becoming a man kid," he said happily and he punched his chest in an ape-like fashion, as though proving his point.
"You sound funny," Leshia concluded, but then she dove at both boys, hugging them roughly all at the same time. "It's so good to see you guys, where are you staying?"
"Just over there," Parys replied. "My older brother didn't want to go on his own, so he invited us along…"
"And my dad tagged along too because they're really curious about this quidditch game I've been telling them about. Come on, we've told them all about you guys, they're dying to meet you!" The boys dragged the girls along until they reached a very posh looking tent – it would seem that Parys' family were quite wealthy due to their muggle father's fortune in the hotel industry, so much so that they had afforded the best of everything, including wizarding tents.
"Hey guys come out, we found them!" Rodeo called into the tent and soon two men appeared from the depths of the luxury tent. It was clear instantly which man belonged to which boy. Rodeo was the spitting image of his hockey-playing father, who despite having a slightly crooked nose from the amount of times his vocation had called for it to be broken, was dashingly handsome with long ash blonde hair held back in from his face by a pair of sunglasses. He was tall like his son with broad shoulders and a body honed by the sport that earned him a living. Parys' older brother, the only one of his siblings to go to Hogwarts ten years before him, was dark like his younger brother, but he had none of the boy's looks.
"Dad, this is Leshia, you met her last year in Diagon Alley," Rodeo said proudly presenting Leshia as though she were a trophy. The muggle man reached forward with his hand. "Leshia, this is my dad Luka."
"Nice to meet you again Leshia," he said in his strange pseudo-English accent. The girls knew he had grown up in Serbia for most of his life despite being half Swedish, and guessed his accent was a strange mix of the countries he had lived in. "Rodeo has told me all about you…" Rachel, feeling left out, cleared her throat loudly and Rodeo quickly remembered his manners.
"This is Rachel and Katie," he quickly managed offering them an apologetic smile.
"Guys this is my brother Oskar," Parys quickly added feeling left out of the loop. The girls greeted him too and soon they were sat on the warm grass drinking bottles of warm butterbeer under the midday sun, laughing about the antics they had been getting up to at Hogwarts.
"Oh man, you should have seen what we did to Rachel's little sister the second I got here," Leshia suddenly exclaimed when Rodeo was explaining to his father that whenever these girls got together, trouble soon followed.
"Oh, do we even want to hear this?" Parys asked wearily.
"Well," Leshia said with a shrug.
"We blew out her eardrum by accident," Rachel said with a wince. The guys were shocked, but after the girls quickly explained that Hermia was doing well, and that she had it coming due to her insistence of the terrible front garden flower parade, they were rolling around in mirth. Already they could see why the boys were so in awe of these girls: they were enchanting.
It was getting late, and whether by happenstance or purposeful snooping, it just so happened that Draco came across the group of idle chatters. It was the look on Rodeo's face that indicated something was amiss.
"What's wrong with you?" Rachel asked with a grin.
"Uh…it's Professor Malfoy," he exclaimed, pointing over their shoulders. The girls spun around and sure enough there stood Draco chatting with a man of unsavoury character beside his tent.
"Oh is that the guy you told…" Oskar began, but he promptly shut up when Parys delivered a blow to his ribs and indicated Leshia frantically with a nod of his head. Leshia frowned suspiciously, who was her father talking to? He seemed to be aware of her presence, because he was watching her coolly while still talking to the man. After a few moments he excused himself and wandered over.
"You should probably get back, we'll be heading off soon," he told the girls, and then glanced over the company his daughter was keeping. He nodded briefly to Rodeo and Parys before standing back with his hands deep in his pockets. The girls took a few moments to realise he wanted them to come back with him so they quickly jumped to their feet.
"Uh dad, this is Rodeo's dad, and Parys brother," Leshia said unsurely. Draco glanced at her and then reached out a hand for the men to shake. They climbed to their feet too and shook his hand firmly. Still Leshia watched her father's expression with a frown, something wasn't right and she couldn't put her finger on it. It took Leshia a few moments to realise that it wasn't Draco that had her feeling uneasy…it was something else. With a twitch of her head she turned round and looked at the unsavoury man Draco had been talking to. He was watching her surreptitiously and when he was spotted he retreated into his tent. Seeing her strange behaviour Draco looked down at her with an unreadable expression. They looked at one and other for a few moments, before Draco nodded upwards towards their campsite. Leshia got the message and she turned to smile at her friends, who were watching this exchange with mystified expressions on their faces. They had never understood the dynamic Leshia had with her father.
"See you guys around," she told them with a small smile. They nodded happily and the other two said goodbye, before they rushed to catch up with Draco, who had already started walking away. Once they reached him he took one hand from his pocket and draped it over Leshia's shoulder, turning to glance over his own at the group they had just left with a frown. Once they had disappeared from sight the two boys exhaled loudly.
"He's even scarier when we're not in school," Parys grumbled.
"I can see what you mean about that guy," Luka said softly and he sat down again to finish his beer. "He's too hard to read. I mean, what was all that about?"
"Like I said dad, Professor Malfoy's just…professor Malfoy," Rodeo said with a shake of his head, thinking the same thing of the girl he adored. She too could snap at any time, becoming impossible to read or understand.
"Dad who was that guy you were talking to?" Leshia asked curiously when they'd crossed over the border into their campsite. Draco sighed pensively before looking down at his daughter's curious face with a frown.
"Someone I would prefer you to avoid," he said, and then glanced to her friends. "That goes for all of you. He is not…what you would call a pleasant fellow." Leshia frowned and looked to the ground, fighting the urge to ask him how many of his old friends could be considered 'pleasant', but she bit her tongue. Draco sensed her feelings and looked up, inhaling slowly, as what he was about to say next would pain him. "That Rodeo boy, his father, he was all right…for a muggle." Leshia looked up quickly, a smile darting onto her face. Her father approved of a muggle? That was new.
"You liked him?" Leshia asked eagerly. "Really?" Draco shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, like and like, I don't really mean…well…" he trailed off, but Leshia still grinned, that was a good enough answer for her. She didn't know why approval of Rodeo and his family was important for her, but for some reason this cheered her up no end and by the time they reached their tent to find everyone getting ready to go down to the stadium, she was in extremely high spirits. The large party set off as soon as Draco returned with the girls, and soon they joined a steady throng of people heading towards the stadium. On their way they came across a peddler trying to sell on some last minute paraphernalia.
"Dad can I have some money? Please?" Leshia begged the moment her eyes fell on one of these peddlers. Draco grinned and rolled his eyes before looking over to Hermione with raised eyebrows.
"And? Does she deserve it?" he asked. Hermione laughed and play pushed him.
"Of course she does," she said firmly and she reached into her purse taking out a handful of galleons. "Can you get me a rosette sweetheart?" she asked eagerly. Leshia grinned and after hugging her mother roughly around the waste she and her friends darted off.
"Wow," the girls gasped as they took in the sights of the souvenirs. Most of the exciting ones were affiliated with Bulgaria – Rachel and Leshia had to severely deter Katie from splashing her pocket money on a miniature lion that sang the Bulgarian national anthem and called out the players' named.
"But he's so cute," Katie complained as her friends pulled her hands away from the adorable souvenirs.
"Yeah, but you'll be declaring your support for Bulgaria Katie!" Rachel complained.
"Ah," Leshia suddenly awed out loud, her eyes taking in the gleaming omnioculars, which completed the quidditch-going experience.
"Yeah, we got some yesterday," Katie explained. "You have to get some Leesh, it'll be hard to watch without them!" Leshia grumbled at the price – eleven galleons – as this would only allow her enough money to get the white rosette that squealed the names of the players for her mother and something small, like a model of one of the players, for herself.
"Cheer up Leesh," Katie tried as they headed back to the others, with Leshia poking her little model of Lukas Krosovitch, a young Bulgarian chaser Leshia had been following secretly the entire tournament, in the ribs, trying to make it move.
"Oh it's no use, I think its broken," she grumbled and she dropped it in her jeans pocket. "I really wanted to get an England jersey so I could wear it to quidditch practice," she sighed as they rejoined the parents. Leshia looked glum as she handed the rosette to her mother.
"What's wrong?" Hermione asked worriedly, but Leshia, not wanting to seem ungrateful, smiled at her brightly.
"Nothing," she said. "I got some omnioculars," she tried enthusiastically and then showed her mother the little model of the dashing young chaser. "Where's dad?" the girl then asked when she realised her father wasn't there pointing out the treachery of her idolising the Bulgarian chaser – as he usually did when he heard her gushing about the young man.
"He's just a big baby really, he went off with Ron and Harry to buy their own toys," Hermione explained fondly. "Look, there they are. Oh Goodness, how much did they buy?" Hermione's surprise was not unfounded as the men were carrying several bags bearing the official World Cup logo, stuffed to the brim with merchandise and souvenirs. Draco quickly fell into step beside his wife and cleared his throat as he flung a flat box in Leshia's direction. She frowned and tore off the lid revealing the England jersey and socks she had just been ogling at the stall.
"Dad!" she gasped and quickly shut the box. "Thank you!" she cheered gleefully and she lunged at his side, hugging him firmly. Never before had Leshia been so happy that her father seemed to have a penchant for reading her mind.
"Couldn't have you sulking could we?" Draco said fondly and he ruffled her hair. The journey down to the stadium was a slow, yet steady one. Though the children started to get restless, their parents tried to distract them with tales of the last world cup final they had attended together – tactfully leaving out the part with the death eaters. In no time they reached one of the many entrances and soon one of the Federation wizards was checking their veritable stack of tickets.
"Own private box eh?" the man said jovially. "Lucky you, just keep going all the way to the top and then follow the corridor around to the left, you'll find your box." The large party hurried up the stairs – the children increasingly speeding up so as they might get the best seats. By the time they'd reached their corridor, the children were full out running. Not surprisingly, the older children reached the box first, but Leshia, Katie and Rachel were not far behind. Their pace ensured they got one of the front row seats in the magnificently placed box, overlooking the entire arena.
"This is so unbelievably amazing," Rachel sighed contentedly. Leshia pulled out her omnioculars and started scouring the crowds on the other side of the stadium. The sound in the box was quite unbelievable as all eighteen children jabbered on about their excitement. Their long-suffering parents had dropped down in the elevated back row and were staring incredulously over their children and wondering how they could possibly be making such a racket. It came as a relief when the commentator finally made himself known stadium-wide. The children quietened down to listen, but were shocked to hear that they couldn't understand a word the man was saying.
"It's in French!" Rachel finally wailed and the exasperated children turned around and faced their parents with eighteen identical disappointed expressions. In turn the adults all looked to Hermione as one expectantly.
"Transfero nostras lingua conclave," Hermione muttered directing her wand to every corner of the room. For a moment the room glowed slightly at the edges, but then the light died down and slowly the commentary morphed into English.
"Thank you," came the appreciative chorus from most of the party and Hermione beamed, happy to be able to show off the spell she herself had designed for occasions such as this.
"Know-it-all," Draco uttered fondly under his breath, but before his wife could playfully object, he lunged forward and kissed her firmly.
"…the English mascots…" came the end of some announcement by the commentator. Everyone frowned to one and other, what had they missed? But in an explosion of colour on the field they suddenly looked to the grass far down below where several winged birds were performing a beautifully choreographed dance close to the ground. Their red tail feathers and the flames they drew through the air instantly revealed their identities as phoenixes. It was a beautiful display, one that was over too soon as the phoenixes took flight and landed along the rim of the stadium to watch the match curiously. The crowd burst into tumultuous applause.
"Please, ladies and gentlemen, beasts and unknowns," the commentator was continuing. "Allow me the great pleasure, of welcoming the Bulgarian team mascots."
"I wonder if they've brought…" Harry began at the back of the box, bending low to consult his friends. He needn't have finished his sentence because the seductive music that came wafting up to the box was answer enough for him and without thinking he plunged his fingers into his ears and shut his eyes. Beside him Ron followed suit as the Veela that had entranced them many a time before danced onto the grass. Hermione turned to watch Draco curiously to see how he was reacting to the beautifully entrancing women, but to her pleasant surprise he was merely sitting with his arms crossed, a vaguely amused look on his face.
"Why don't they affect you?" she asked fondly. He turned to look at her with a neutral expression.
"You really don't know?" he asked with a smile and he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "No spell they could cast, could stop me from loving you," he whispered in her ear, least any of the others hear him and think he was going soft. Hermione blushed crimson, before leaning up to her husband and kissing him softly. Down in the front row the girls were watching the Veela with disgruntled looks on their faces.
"How boring," Leshia grumbled. "They have so many cool animals in Bulgaria, couldn't they have brought some of them instead?"
"Yeah I don't think fire-breathing monsters, and blood curdling faeries are going to sway the crowd as much as these ladies will," Tom said in her ear. He'd been trying his very best not to watch the women down on the grass – Luke at his side was not so lucky and was teetering very close to the edge of his seat.
"It just feels like cheating," Leshia grumbled and she pulled out her omnioculars, looking down at the dancing women on the grass. They didn't seem attractive in the slightest to her, in fact, they were slightly scary. "I don't like them," she said firmly and as if on request, the Veela ended their song and danced to the side of the pitch where a stand had been erected for them.
The commentator proceeded to introduce the English National Quidditch side; Jones, Jackson, White, Mann, Cliff, Moore and their star player, seeker Joanne Tayler. Leshia and her friends screamed themselves hoarse for their side as the English team carried out a lap of victory around the pitch. Following their entrance the commentator then unveiled the Bulgarian team.
"Look it's Lukas! Look!" Leshia eagerly squealed to her friends as the young handsome chaser zoomed onto the pitch. She though, was the only one in the box to eagerly greet the team, and she followed Lukas around with her omnioculars until without her noticing, the game suddenly burst into action.
"Leesh stop ogling that Bulgarian guy and pay attention, it's started!" Rachel yelled in her friend's ear. Leshia pulled her omnioculars away and peered over the railing to see her red haired friend was right, though she didn't agree with her verdict of her ogling Lukas.
The match was certainly a highly exciting one as the two teams were equally matched. The scoreboard kept going up and up until two hours in the score lay stagnant at 930-920. The crowds were still eagerly applauding their corresponding teams, though with less vigour than before as people were sloping off to find refreshments.
"Hey Leesh," Katie whispered in Leshia's ear. Leshia looked to her tiredly. "Are you getting a little bored?" Leshia grinned lopsidedly and shrugged.
"I guess, I'm just hungry," she said, pawing over her omnioculars, looking once more to Lukas admiringly. It was at this moment that she saw the man…he was watching her with a pair of omnioculars identical to her own. Leshia frowned heavily and zoomed in on this man as far as she could manage. "It's him," she gasped.
"Are you still going on about that Lukas guy?" Rachel asked impatiently.
"No, that man! The one dad said not to go near…he's watching me…" Katie and Rachel exchanged a frowning glance before they crouched down near Leshia and fought to look through her omnioculars. Leshia pulled back and let them see.
"I don't see anyone…"
"There he is!" Katie said triumphantly. "But he's not looking this way Leesh, he's watching the game." Leshia frowned and quickly retook her omnioculars, looking once more for the man. Katie was right, he was no longer looking over.
"I could have sworn he was," she whispered to herself and turned round in her seat to see if Draco had sensed anything strange also, but she was slightly disgusted to see her parents slouched down in their chairs, barely watching the game at all. Instead their hands were entwined and they were engaged in a very intimate fond looking conversation.
"Yuck," she grumbled and turned back in her seat, before using her omnioculars to find Lukas again. She was content to watch him until suddenly something flashed past her vision and Lukas was turning curiously to see what was going on.
"Look it's Krum! He's seen the snitch!" Sarah bellowed and everyone jumped to attention, training their omnioculars on the seeker, who was diving down his arm outstretched.
"Pay attention Leesh, you could learn a thing or two," Luke called out to Leshia, who scoffed and shook her head.
"Shut up," she laughed, getting excited now that there was some action going on. "Come on Tayler," she whispered to herself, taking a moment to scour the pitch for the English seeker, but young Tayler was nowhere to be seen. All of a sudden the white clad woman appeared in front of Krum and they raced neck-a-neck towards the ground, fighting one and other for the right to grab the snitch. Their hair-razing race had the crowd stunned into silence, until finally the inevitable happened, one of them had to catch the snitch.
"It's Krum!" the commentator screamed out and a huge sigh of disappointment went round the box and everyone's shoulders drooped. "No wait…its Tayler! England win! Joanne Tayler has caught the snitch!" As one the occupants of the VIP box jumped up into a jubilant cheer and the delighted phoenixes took to the pitch singing a beautiful song and filling the sky with bright fire.
"You're still watching Lukas aren't you?" Rachel accused when she noticed Leshia was still looking through her omnioculars. Leshia dropped her hand and shook her head guiltily.
"No, of course not," she said quickly and she leaned back in her seat as an elf rushed around the room doling out refreshments.
"I can't believe we actually won!" Katie crowed happily and she embraced her friends roughly. The girls celebrated along with the rest of their party while the main stand became illuminated for the victory ceremony. Leshia cheered rather louder than most when the French minister of magic introduced the Bulgarian losing team, and this caused Rachel and Katie to snigger at her in amusement. They all joined in with the national anthem when England received the quidditch world cup and then, it was all over.
"Well," Arthur announced from the back row. "That was quite something wasn't it? I wonder, would anyone care to meet the team?" Though he sounded perfectly calm, his expression was boyishly ecstatic and it only grew more so when his family and friends leapt to their feet in complete agreement that that was possibly the most amazing suggestion they'd heard in years. "Very well, follow me. We can leave our belongings here, don't worry," he assured everyone. They were too excited to worry for their thins and quickly followed the secretive Mr Weasley out of the box and across to a large function hall that had been designed for a post-game event.
"Arthur," the Federation witch on the door greeted him fondly. "So good to see you, is this everyone?" she asked looking over the excited group and mentally counting their heads.
"Yes certainly," Arthur said cheerfully and they were soon granted access into the room where several other lucky people were milling around. The girls rushed off to one of the many refreshment stands where a few other children were gathered. They ate greedily, realising that their stomachs were grumbling.
"I wonder what Rodeo thought of his first quidditch world cup," Leshia thought aloud. She remembered her first professional quidditch match. Draco had taken her when she was only five years old, to see their home side play in the league final. They had lost, but Leshia remembered the experience as one of her favourite memories.
"Oh…my…God…" Rachel suddenly gasped and the other spun around in time to see the two teams filing in, harangued by lots of journalists by the looks of things. They seemed tired and Leshia felt sorry for them.
"They don't seem happy," she told her friends.
"They're probably tired," Katie exclaimed.
"Oh no…oh no," Rachel was gasping, clutching at the table for support. The reason for her shock was that the Bulgarian team was heading towards their refreshment table – it was the least crowded and it was surrounded by children, who would be the least likely of hassling them further. Leshia and her friends shrunk away slightly, moving towards the wall where they could watch the team, yet not get in their way. They were speaking to one and other in Bulgarian, seemingly disappointed with the way the game had turned in the last few minutes. The girls would have gone largely unnoticed had the most esteemed member of the side not looked over and spotted Leshia. Krum frowned in surprise as he took in all the familiar features of Hermione's daughter.
"Ermione?" he uttered softly, but not soft enough for Leshia too miss it. She caught his gaze and then quickly looked away. Krum's thoughts drifted back to the first and only woman he had ever really cared for and remembered the situation she was in when they last parted. She had been pregnant…could this girl?
"Uh Leesh, Viktor Krum is coming this way," Rachel said softly and Leshia tried more furiously to look in any other direction. Within no time the esteemed Bulgarian legend was stood before them and Leshia realised uneasily that flat out ignoring him would probably be a little rude, so she looked up worriedly.
"Ermione?" Krum repeated. Leshia opened her mouth to complain, but then shut it promptly. "Your mother?" Not knowing what else to do Leshia nodded quickly. Krum inhaled sharply, before he looked up and scoured the room for the only woman he had ever truly cared about. After a few moments he spotted her and his eyes narrowed in anger. She was hanging on the arm of that man, the man that had stolen from him her affections. The man that was undoubtedly the father of the child he had believed to be...
Had Leshia believed this situation couldn't get any less comfortable she was greatly mistaken as moments after Krum had located her parents and was looking very much as though he wanted to disembowel them, none other than Lukas Krosovitch started walking over. The girl blushed bright red and tried extremely hard to force herself through the solid wall she had already backed into.
"Leesh," Katie began, but by now Lukas had reached his captain and was uttering something to him in Bulgarian. The two men would have turned to go had Krum not turned around and bowed his head to Leshia.
"Please, say hello to your mother?" Drawing attention to the girl Lukas turned to see who his friend was talking to, and then he noticed the doll that was half-poking out of Leshia's jeans. He was so surprised that he started laughing, drawing everyone's attention. As he was still looking at the doll Leshia instantly realised what was going on and feeling the colour draining from her face she reached down and pushed the doll down, but Lukas was watching her with fond expression.
"Please," he said in a very good English accent holding out his hand. "Allow me to see?" Leshia quickly obliged and showed him the doll. He took it from her hand and turned it over in his large hands.
"I think it's broken," Leshia explained. Lukas looked up to her curiously. "I mean…it doesn't move or anything like the other ones."
"What is your name?" the young Bulgarian man asked kindly as he handed the doll back to the small girl.
"Leshia," she answered and was horrified when Lukas held out his hand for her to shake, which she did weakly.
"Do you play quidditch?" Lukas then asked and Leshia nodded numbly. Seeing their friend's powers over the English language temporarily magicked away, Rachel and Katie took it upon themselves to intervene.
"She's a seeker," Katie said proudly.
"Yeah, she made the house team last year, and we were only in first year," Rachel added equally as proudly. The two men smiled, even Krum couldn't help himself.
"She didn't lose once, she got it every time," Katie was carrying on, ignoring the incredulous look Leshia was giving her.
"Well done," Lukas said sounding sincere. "It is good to start young. You go to Hogwarts yes?" The girls nodded. "It is a fine school. Did you enjoy the game?" he asked them next and once more the girls nodded quickly. "I say you enjoyed it more than us no?" Leshia managed a meek smile while her friends giggled. She couldn't quite believe what on earth was going on…she was speaking to her idol. He was expressing an interest in her…what was the world coming to?
"You know she's not normally this shy," Rachel was suddenly saying and Leshia turned to stare at her.
"She's just your biggest fan!" Katie added with an angelic smile. Oh God…the world was evidently coming to an end! Lukas laughed genially and even Krum managed a small chuckle and they both looked at Leshia, who was breathing rather quickly, looking too mortified to even move. It would seem though that salvation wasn't far behind as all of a sudden a tall figure stood beside Leshia. She looked up and couldn't remember a time when she'd been so happy to see her father, but Draco wasn't watching her, his eyes were locked on Krum darkly, who in turn was glaring menacingly at Draco.
"Dad?" Leshia asked worriedly, snapping out of her daze. Krum's eyes briefly darted to her as she confirmed his suspicion and his anger deepened. At his side Lukas turned on him with a concerned look and asked something in Bulgarian. Krum replied sounding angry and whatever he had said caused Lukas to look in surprise at Draco and then down at Leshia, who in turn realised she was being watched and looked up with an incredibly doleful expression.
"I'm surprised you've got the nerve to show your face around here Krum," Draco said softly, anger lacing his tone, the memory of their last encounter still making his blood boil.
"It is you who should be ashamed," Krum hissed angrily. Draco laughed coldly.
"You're even more delusional then you were back then Krum, to think, you once thought you stood a chance with her…"
"We were in love!" Krum growled angrily. Draco shook his head.
"She loved me, you knew that from the very beginning," he countered angrily. "All you could offer her was the security that I could not…"
"You were dangerous!"
"I was trying to protect them," Draco countered angrily and he clenched his fist. Leshia saw and she quickly reached out and wrapped her hands around her father's, trying to ease his anger.
"You stole her from me, she would have been safe with me!" Krum cried out forcefully.
"She was carrying my child when you met, what were you thinking? That I'd just disappear from the picture?" Draco demanded and he pulled his hand away from Leshia's worried grasp and instead wrapped his arm firmly around her shoulders pulling her tightly to his side. Krum looked down at the girl and felt renewed heartache when he saw Hermione's likeness in those large soulful eyes.
"Viktor," Lukas suddenly interjected and he placed his hand on his friend's shoulder, saying something in Bulgarian that seemed calming to Leshia and the other two girls, who were worriedly watching the unfolding events. Krum looked as though he very much wanted to stay, but whatever Lukas had told him caused him to drop his shoulders and turn to go.
"Don't ever come near my child again Krum, do you understand?" Draco warned in a deep threatening tone. Krum turned briefly and looked down at Leshia, who was still watching him with those heartbreaking eyes. For a moment he remembered the euphoria when for the briefest time, merely a few weeks, he had believed this girl to be his own child…then he turned and left, followed by a subdued Lukas. Amazed by everything she had heard, Leshia looked up at her father worriedly.
"Dad?" she asked worriedly and finally Draco looked down and met her gaze and shook his head, indicating that now was not the time for questions.
"It's okay sweetheart," was all he said and he squeezed her tightly to his side before walking off to find Hermione and make sure Krum didn't go for her next.
"Okay what the heck just happened?" Leshia finally spluttered, and she looked to the other two for support. They shrugged their shoulders dramatically, unable to process and make sense of the extremely strange turn of events that had just taken place. "I mean the way they were talking…Viktor Krum and my mum were…together…" Leshia trailed off and looked across the room to where her parents were engaging in a hushed conversation.
For the entire remainder of the post-game drinks the girls remained out of the way in their corner, trying to think of ways in which to make sense of what Draco and Krum had divulged. It was evident that when Hermione had been pregnant with Leshia Draco had not been in the picture, and instead Krum had wooed her mother. Had she known she was pregnant? More to the point, had Draco known? And if he did, why had he abandoned them?
As darkness fell the girls noticed that Tom, Luke, Sarah and Amy were heading for the door, and in an instant they ran after them.
"Where are you going?" Katie asked.
"The Cauldron Chicks are playing down in our campsite, we're going to check it out," Amy replied. "Do you guys want to come?" The girls nodded eagerly – Katie with more vigour than her friends, as she was a fan of the sickeningly girl-bandish group.
"We'll just go tell our parents," Leshia told the others and she and her friends rushed back to where their parents were enjoying an exuberant conversation with an ageing wizard dressed in very old quidditch robes. His protruding belly was straining the over-stretched material, but he seemed cheerful enough.
"Ludo," Rachel whispered to Leshia.
"Yeah, he's a friend of grandpa," Katie added.
"Ah there you are, we've been wondering where you lot had got to," Ginny suddenly exclaimed when the girls pushed into the animated circle.
"We're going back to the campsite with the others," Rachel informed the group.
"Yeah the Cauldron Chicks are playing," Katie added eagerly. From across the circle Draco groaned loudly.
"Oh they're not are they?" He had returned to his old self as soon as the Bulgarian team had sloped off, a mere twenty minutes after they had arrived.
"Can we go?" Leshia asked and Hermione smiled kindly at her and nodded.
"Of course you can," she said and after bidding their parents goodbye the girls rushed to catch up with the others. They chatted animatedly about the game while they made their way on the long walk from the stadium to their campsite, but finally, they arrived to find a throng of party goers bedecked in England paraphernalia milling about.
"This is excellent," Luke crowed when he spotted a conga line of drunken supporters dressed merely in toga-style anthem-singing English flags. Luke and Tom were soon afterwards pulled away by two girls from their year, and following that Sarah and Amy spotted two of their friends in the distance and soon scarpered to join them, leaving Leshia and her friends stood amidst the chaos gleefully wondering which way they should go.
"Look, there's a butterbeer stand, let's go get one," Leshia announced and they rushed off to buy themselves a drink. Feeling a lot more refreshed, and on Katie's pleading, they headed towards the brightly lit stage where the ghastly witches were performing a song that already had the raven haired girl bopping along with.
"How can you like this rubbish?" Leshia laughed as they pushed through the throngs of drunken partygoers to reach the front of the stage. Katie glanced to her friend in mock outrage and shook her head.
"Poor poor Leshia," she sighed. "How do you manage without taste?" Both Rachel and Leshia burst out laughing, this was a side to Katie they had never seen before.
"Where did that come from?" Leshia laughed and she tried very hard to reach up and put her arm around her friend's shoulders, but she had grown too tall. "Can't you get enough oxygen up there in the clouds?" The girls had now reached the front of the audience and looked up at the partly emaciated witches in their scantily clad outfits, doing some strange dance routine that the majority of the crowd knew and were dancing along too.
"This is…" Rachel began sounding amused, but Katie silenced her by waving her hand in front of the redhead's face.
"Shhh, this is my favourite song!" she cried out and danced along wildly. Leshia and Rachel exchanged a somewhat incredulous look, while Katie sang along to the lyrics.
"This is the chorus, join in!" she crowed gleefully. "I turned my boyfriend into a toad, he looked at her. She woke up one day, her hair was gone, her nose was long…"
"Uh, Rach, you wanna get out of here?" Leshia yelled in her friend's ear. Rachel was nodding slowly, still looking at Katie with a slightly scared look, but leave they did not, as it seemed impossible to drag Katie away and they didn't want to leave her there on her own. For two hours they listened to the terrible music and watched out for flailing elbows and limbs, while the increasingly intoxicated crowd got ever more rowdy. Finally, and not a moment too soon as far as Leshia was concerned, the lead singer of the band, a certain Miss Pansy Parkinson, stepped up to the edge of the stage.
"Thank you, you've been a super crowd!" she cried out happily and blew kisses to everyone in the audience.
"Yuck!" Leshia and Rachel exclaimed as they finally dragged Katie away towards their tents.
"They need to be lined up and cursed," Rachel muttered, and then winced because Katie had delivered an elbow to her ribs. "Ow," she grumbled and rubbed her side and she turned to retaliate, but Katie was staring off to the side with wide eyes. Her friends quickly followed her gaze and saw what had her so excited: Draco was talking to none other than Pansy Parkinson – and looking very much like he wanted to get away.
"Oh no," Leshia groaned as Katie started running towards them. Desperately wanting to avoid the dreadful woman, they knew they had no choice, so Rachel and Leshia begrudgingly followed. Draco looked beside himself at the arrival of the girls and quickly dived behind Leshia, placing his hands on his shoulder.
"Pansy, you've met my daughter Leshia," he said pointedly, putting a rather large amount of emphasis on the word 'daughter'. Pansy looked down her pointy nose at Leshia as though something nasty had been placed under her nose.
"She's small isn't she?" she finally managed in a haughty tone. Leshia opened her mouth to object, but the ghastly woman wasn't finished. "I guess that's Hermione's genes then, she looks nothing like you." At this point she lifted her magically enhanced eyelashes and fluttered them at Draco dreamily. He stepped backwards slightly and clung tighter to Leshia's shoulders. "You've only got better with age Draco," she continued in a sickly seductive tone. She started to approach, batting those alarmingly pointy looking eyelashes once more. Entirely unimpressed with the situation Leshia cleared her throat loudly.
"Where's mum dad?" she asked loudly.
"Back at the tent," Draco told her quickly, sounding strangely constricted. Pansy narrowed her eyes down at Leshia.
"Why don't you go and find her Leshia?" she asked, practically spitting out the girl's name.
"That's a good idea," Leshia said simply and she turned around, taking her father's arm. "Come on dad," she said and she pulled him away, but before she did so, she looked to Katie and then back at Pansy, who was scowling at her. "This is Katie by the way, she's one of your biggest fans." The change in the appalling woman was instantaneous as she turned on the unsure looking dark haired girl. Rachel remained behind as Leshia and Draco escaped, heading towards the tents.
"Thank you so much," Draco uttered sounding extremely relieved.
"What is it with you guys and ex-flames today?" Leshia asked purposefully, trying to drag the whole Krum story out of Draco.
"I only went out with her for a few weeks, and that was when I was seventeen!" he complained. "I would hardly call that a flame!"
"No…well what about mum and…"
"Don't Leshia, I mean it," Draco interrupted sounding very strict. Leshia frowned and looked at the ground grumpily. "It's an old story that is barely worth mentioning, so we're not going to go into it." Leshia chewed on her lower lip crossly, knowing that her father was lying to her. It had evidently been worth mentioning, as the pair of them had nearly laid into each other in front of a group of children. By now they'd reached their lots and found everyone relaxing on the deck chairs around a cosy bonfire. Everyone was in high spirits as the music rose around them, Leshia dropped down on a chair beside her mother, feeling indescribably out of sorts and she remained so the whole evening, even after Katie and Rachel returned in high spirits. As the sun started to rise on the horizon the children were ushered into their tents to try to get some sleep, and within no time Leshia, Katie and Rachel were curled up in their sleeping bags staring at the yellow stained ceiling of the tent.
"You've been weird this evening Leshia," Rachel finally said simply, but had she been expecting an angry onslaught from her friend, she was surprised to find that Leshia merely nodded.
"Was it because we dropped you in it with that Lukas guy?" Katie asked worriedly.
"No," Leshia chuckled and then she rolled onto her side facing the other two. "But he was amazing in person wasn't he? He was so nice!" The other two sniggered and then rolled around laughing.
"Leshia fancies Lukas!" Rachel sang triumphantly, but shortly afterwards she was silenced by a pillow to the head.
"I do not fancy him," Leshia complained.
"Yeah, and I'm Cauldron Chicks' biggest fan," Rachel crowed gleefully.
"Hey!" Katie complained happily and she too started to beat her cousin with her pillow. After ten minutes of sporadic pillow bashing, the girls collapsed on the bed in a fit of giggles, happy that they were together again. Though they didn't get any sleep that night, their spirits remained in good shape, and the awkward events of the day were forgotten, if only for now.
The following day Leshia was collected early as their port-key was one of the earlier ones of the day. The girls didn't feel sad upon parting from one and other as later that day they would be meeting up once more in Diagon alley when they would be fetching their school supplies. Draco and Hermione were rather quiet, as they were suffering from aching heads and tired limbs. They contrasted so with their young daughter as she was overtired and incredibly hyperactive. Knowing she would undoubtedly crash out the moment they got home, her parents bore the brunt of her excitement. Right on cue, the moment they stepped in the front door Leshia swayed tiredly in the hall and without another word, retreated up to her room to get some sleep. Hermione and Draco exchanged a fond smile, and then followed her up the stairs to catch some sleep themselves.
" Miss Leshia run!" the familiar cry of the houself rang out before a blinding flash and a man's voice filled the kitchen of the old townhouse. Backing into the staircase Leshia looked on the hall of her house with seven-year-old eyes. Her frantic breathing was filled the dream with panic.
" Where are you?" the man's horrible cry came and soon a lumbering tall figure skidded into the hall. Leshia darted back stumbling on the steps. This man who had haunted her sleep all summer, stepped forward, his burning eyes narrowing at the sight of the girl. " There you are," the horrible man hissed and he raised his wand.
" No!" Leshia's child-like cry came. " I didn't do anything! No!" Bracing herself for the blow that never came Leshia dared to look up and saw the man had gone, though the sound of struggling from the next room revealed he was fighting with yet another houself that Leshia could not remember. Taking no chance she darted up the stairs as fast as her seven-year-old legs could take her. Once she reached the landing she pushed every door open before darting into her father's gloomy room. As she dropped to her knees and dragged herself under his bed she heard the hurried heavy footsteps of that horrid man in her wake.
" Where are you?" his mangled cry came. Leshia pushed herself further into the darkness, her tears spattering down onto the hardwood floor. " Where are you my precious? Why are you afraid of your own grandpa?" Leshia gasped, that is why she recognised his face. " Come here!" her grandfather hissed into the dark. He was approaching her position slowly, as though he knew where it was she was hiding. He would have found her had the sound of the door opening and closing below not caught his attention.
'Daddy!' Leshia thought desperately and she feared so terribly for what her grandfather would do to him. Too afraid of what he might do to her if she called out she watched as the feet stalked away. Once she heard him descending the steps and an angry muffled conversation ensuing she dragged herself out from under the bed and darted across the landing into the upstairs parlour where a dumbwaiter stood in the corner. She jumped into it and lowered it to the ground floor – a game she had played when she was little turning to necessity. On the ground floor she could hear the shocked argument her father was having with his father in turn and she hurried round the back corridors of the house into the kitchen.
" Tally," he young voice whispered in surprise when she found the elf paralysed on the ground. Her young eyes darted about the kitchen until she found a jar full of stones – the ones she had collected on their recent holiday to the beach. She took it from the counter amazed at how high it seemed to her younger self, and then set off to the door leading off from the hall. First her eyes took in her father with longer hair, and having just walked in from work, dressed still in his long coat. He was staring in shock at his father, who had his wand aimed at his son, a furious expression on his face. Without stopping to think Leshia took aim and threw the jar at her grandfather. She missed her target and the jar clattered to the ground cracking the slate tile it landed on.
" No!" Draco yelled out frantically as Lucius took aim at young Leshia. The spell Lucius cast never hit Leshia however, as Draco uttered a counter curse that caused Lucius' to miss and hit the wall causing a large crack to form. As Draco disarmed his father Leshia rushed to his side, clambering inside his coat and clasping onto his leg like a limpet, watching her grandfather from her now protected position.
" Now you listen father!" Draco cried out angrily.
"I am your father no longer you traitorous coward," Lucius' cry came.
"I am not a coward!" Draco bellowed back and the anger in his tone caused seven-year-old Leshia to start trembling, and she buried her face into her father's leg, trying to block everything out. "You are to leave this place sir and if you ever return I shall kill you myself!"
"Coward!" Lucius screamed out. "You don't have the courage to…"
"Leshia darling?" The girl sat straight up in bed, with wide terrified eyes, and soon she spotted Hermione's concerned face. "It was just a dream sweetheart, everything's all right," he mother assured her and stroked the damp hair from her forehead. "Look, your letter has arrived!" The terrible dream's hold on the girl weakened instantly at the sight of the Hogwarts letter and Leshia took it from her mother with a big smile, before tearing it open and reading down the list of books she would need.
Within no time the small family were ambling down London's streets towards the Leaky Cauldron where they would be meeting up with Katie and Rachel's families before they descended on Diagon Alley. Draco had his face buried in the same case file he had deserted before their trip to the quidditch game, but Hermione was trying her best to entertain their daughter. Occasionally the pair of them would have to guide Draco away from a looming lamppost, or a trip-inducing pot hole, but on the whole the young man had mastered walking while working, back in the days when work had consumed him and there weren't enough hours in the day for the work that demanded so much of him.
Soon they reached the Leaky Cauldron and met up with their tired-looking friends, who were trying to control their unruly children. Lavender had finally deigned to make an appearance at a get together, and she wasn't looking impressed with the behaviour of her unruly daughters. Hermia alone stood by her side, casting her siblings the same superior glare her mother was wearing.
"Okay we're all here, let's go!" Harry told the children when he saw the Malfoys walk in the door. Old barman Tom looked thrilled to see the unruly children heading for the back door.
"So Leesh, what do you think about Professor Tinreed packing it in?" Katie asked cheerfully. Leshia frowned.
"Didn't you read the prophet, apparently she's had a nervous breakdown," Rachel explained. Leshia raised her eyebrows happily.
"That's the best news I've had all day," she said cheerfully. "Who's taking her place?" Katie took out a newspaper from her satchel and showed Leshia a picture of a very attractive woman with curly hair that seemed to defy gravity and a smile that could have challenged Gilderoy Lockhart's for brightness.
"She's pretty," Leshia remarked simply. "What's her name?"
"Professor Ramble," both girls replied as they reached the wall behind the pub. Hermione stepped forward and touched all the right bricks and within no time Diagon Alley in all it's bustling glory materialised in front of them.
"Hey dad, can we go off on our own?" Leshia asked Draco eagerly.
"Well what about your books?" he asked.
"I can get them," Hermione cut in with a beaming smile. "You know that's where I'll end up anyway." Leshia beamed at her mother.
"Thanks mum!" she said happily and then after grinning at both her parents she rushed off with her friends. They headed straight for the Weasleys Wizarding Wheezles where they pooled what they had left of their pocket money and bought a term's worth of mischief making material. With their arms full of extendable ears, skiving snackboxes, fake wands and the like, they made their way up to the counter and emptied out their items. The spotty teenager behind the till looked to them in a bored fashion, before he started checking out the loot.
"That'll be four galleons and five sickles."
"What about our family discount?" Katie asked with a frown.
"Family discount?" the youth repeated drolly.
"Yeah, we're Weasleys, we get a family discount," Rachel said firmly. The youth sighed heavily before he lifted a binder from beneath the counter and flicked through the pages looking at the pictures that lay there. Sure enough Katie and Rachel's beaming faces were in the 'Discount' book.
"And her?" he asked nodding his head to Leshia.
"She's practically family, but anyway, we're paying!" Moments later they were skipping out of the shop with their precious loot. Following this they ambled along the lane occasionally diving into a shop when something fascinating caught their eye. They passed each one of their parents in turn; Harry and Ron in the Quidditch Supplies shop stocking up on broom handle wax and twig trimmers; Lavender heading into Madam Malkins with Hermia to get her robes; Ginny with Michael, buying him a pet for his new term; and Hermione laden down with packages emerging from the bookshop. Draco they came across last, and Leshia was disheartened to see him outside Cartara's Coffee and Cakes House, his brow furrowed, and his quill hovering above the case notes he still hadn't completed.
"Has he already set work?" Katie asked worriedly, wondering if she missed an owl bringing her pre-term homework. Leshia and Rachel sniggered at their friend's over-eagerness and shook their heads.
"He's been working for the ministry all summer," Leshia said sadly as they headed towards the sweet shop at the end of the lane.
"Well I guess that gave you time with your mum right?" Katie tried tentatively. Leshia shrugged.
"Yeah, but I missed him, I mean it's dad we're talking about, he…"
"Aw, does the precious little blood traitor miss her daddy?" a drawling voice interrupted her from behind. The girls spun around and came face to face with Damian Allseyer, a particularly vile Slytherin from their year. Two of his Cronies, Archie Dregon and Harry Stump, two boys possibly wider than they were tall, stood behind him. They too had enjoyed growth spurts this summer, but unfortunately for them, their increase in growth had made their already small heads look smaller.
"What do you want Allseyer?" Leshia asked tiredly.
"To teach you a lesson," Allseyer growled angrily. "Because of you, Cole isn't coming back this year, no one's heard from him since Easter! It's all your fault!" Leshia hid her concern (had she cost the boy his life?) behind a smug smile.
"Maybe he's in Azkaban where he belongs," she countered snidely. "One down and all that," she added with a roll of her hand.
"Why you…" Allseyer began and without warning he dove at Leshia, his fist connecting with her cheekbone. Leshia's surprise soon made way for anger and she fought back as best as she could, but as she could count the number of fistfights she'd been in on one hand, she was on the losing end of this particular scuffle. Dregon and Stump quickly jumped in front of Katie and Rachel to stop them from getting in the way, while all the other children milling down to the sweet shop gathered round chanting 'fight, fight'.
Just when Leshia was beginning to feel light headed from the abuse her body was enduring, suddenly the boy was lifted from her by a formidable looking beautiful woman.
"Professor Ramble?" she managed, but no one was heeding her as Allseyer wriggled from the woman's grasp and he and his cronies disappeared down Knockturn Alley. Katie and Rachel rushed forward and helped Leshia from the ground.
"Are you alright?" Ramble asked the girl worriedly. Leshia nodded and wiped a trickle of blood from her lip.
"Yeah, I'll be fine," she said softly, but then her face paled as a very familiar head was making it's way through the crowds towards her. "Oh no," she uttered as Draco finally parted the crowds and appeared in front of her.
"Leshia?" he exclaimed sounding surprised and he rushed forward looking over her injuries with a concerned frown. "Who did this to you?"
"I'm fine dad, just leave it," Leshia complained pleadingly, realising that many of her Hogwarts peered were gathered around them. Draco inhaled slowly, evidently displeased at being asked to let the matter drop, but he didn't want to jeopardise his daughter's reputation in front of half the school. Straightening up he turned around and locked eyes on Professor Ramble.
"Zahra?" he laughed aloud.
"Draco!" the woman returned happily and the two rushed forward and embraced one and other.
"I haven't seen you in years, what are you doing here?" Draco laughed as he pulled back from the woman and smiled jovially at her. Ramble beamed back at him.
"Saving your daughter for starters," she laughed. "So this is the infamous Leshia!" Both turned to look at the girl, who in turn was watching them with an unimpressed expression that wouldn't have looked out of place on Draco's face. "I heard about Hermione's return, I'm so happy for you Draco," Ramble continued and she looked back to the man she had once adored shamelessly.
"Yes," Draco said and he rubbed the back of his head. "So am I. So really, what are you doing in London, I thought you were going off to travel the world?"
"Oh, I travelled," Ramble laughed. "I travelled a lot, but I was starting to get tired, so when I was offered the post at Hogwarts I…"
"Hogwarts?" Draco interrupted. "You're a teacher now?" Ramble smiled.
"Yes, Muggle Studies."
"You're kidding, I teach Defence Against the Dark Arts," he said sounding delighted that his old friend was coming to the school.
"Really? When did you leave the ministry?" Ramble asked in surprise.
"Last year, I tagged along when Leshia went off to school," Draco explained.
"Couldn't bear to part from you could she?" Ramble chuckled.
"Actually," Leshia suddenly interrupted, having slowly made her way over to Draco's side. Neither one had noticed. "It was the other way round," she said coldly, narrowing her eyes up at the woman.
"Leshia," Draco laughed, though there was a warning tone to his voice.
"What? It's true," Leshia complained. "My mum works at the school too, she's the Runes Professor," she then continued to the blonde woman pointedly. For a moment a disappointed look crossed Ramble's face, which she soon masked behind another beaming smile.
"How lovely," Ramble exclaimed. "Where is Hermione?"
"Right here." The three of them turned around to see Hermione appear through the crowds, her arms crossed and a suspicious expression on her face, which soon morphed to surprised concern when she saw her daughter's face. "Darling what happened?"
"I'm fine," Leshia said quickly, not wanting her mother to change the topic of conversation. "Mum, this is Professor Ramble, she knows dad." Once more Draco gave his daughter a warning look and he placed his hand on his shoulder squeezing tightly, warning her to stop being so rude.
"Yes I know," Hermione told her brightly, and then looked up through narrowed eyes at the beautiful woman. "Isn't it funny Zahra, whenever Draco changes his job, you seem to consider the same career change," she laughed with a cold expression. Leshia suppressed a smirk, while Draco turned to stare at his wife in embarrassed wonder. What was wrong with the women in his life?
"Yes, it must seem rather stalkerish I must admit," Ramble laughed good-naturedly. "But I assure you it's all very innocent. I had no idea Draco was a teacher at the school." Hermione smiled sweetly and nodded.
"I'm sure," she said and then looked down to her daughter and her friends, still stood a few yards away. "Would you girls care for some ice cream?" she asked them brightly and they nodded gleefully.
"Yes please?" Katie and Rachel chorused and they rushed forward to join Leshia's side. Hermione smiled at them as she ushered them up the street towards the ice cream parlour and then looked up at her husband. "I'll see you in the Cauldron Draco." For all pretences she seemed light hearted and friendly, but Draco recognised the warning look in her eye and he frowned. Hermione though was walking away though, meeting up with the girls a little way up the lane. The fake smiled adorned her face for a few more moments, until the crowds parted herself and her bewildered husband.
"Oh," she suddenly exclaimed exasperatedly and the girls burst out laughing. "Your father is such a man! He can never tell when women are throwing themselves at him! It's so demeaning." Leshia smiled up at her mother.
"What did you mean when you said she follows him around?" she asked interestedly as they met up with Ginny at the ice cream parlour.
"Well exactly that," Hermione complained. "He first met her when he was an Auror…"
"Oh, is this Zahra?" Ginny interrupted as the girls sat down around her. Hermione nodded pointedly, ignoring the fond smile on her friend's face.
"She was head over heals in love with him I'm telling you," Hermione was carrying on. "And then I hear she followed him over to the research department after I disappeared, and now, isn't it so coincidental that the moment he becomes a teacher, she decides that it's the job for her. I mean come on, who is she kidding?" The others rolled about in laughter at Hermione's jealousy; this was a side they hadn't seen to her before. However, much later when they all returned to the Leaky Cauldron before heading home, Draco didn't find it so amusing. He was waiting for his wife and daughter by the front door, his arms crossed and his expression stony. Once Hermione and Leshia had bid goodbye to their friends they went to meet him and he turned away, not even offering to help them with all their packages.
"Is dad really angry with us?" Leshia asked worriedly, but Hermione smiled and shook her head, but as Draco didn't talk to them the entire journey home, and locked himself inside his study the moment they got home, Hermione started to wonder, but instead of making a big deal out of his bad mood, she went to start dinner while Leshia packed her trunk, ready for the train out to Hogwarts the next day. Once dinner was ready Leshia was called down, but she walked into the kitchen to find her parents kissing. It would seem Hermione was forgiven for her outburst in town, but this didn't ease Leshia's discomfort at seeing her parents being intimate, so with one hand firmly over her eyes, she made her way to the table for their last dinner at home before the new school year, and despite the rocky start to the day, it turned out to be a joyous occasion, as everyone was in high spirits.
The following morning though chaos quickly returned as the small family tried to get their things ready for the Hogwarts Express. Hermione kept having to return to the house because she had forgotten a vital book, Leshia couldn't find Philly (her now one-year-old troublesome cat) anywhere, and Draco kept getting harangued by ministry owls trying to deliver him some last minute paperwork that he couldn't possibly make time for. It was a miracle at all that they made the train before it departed in a cloud of steam, but make it they did and after carting their heavy trunks onto the train Leshia finally sat down in a cabin with her best friends.
"You Malfoys love leaving things to the last second don't you?" Katie remarked with a big smile. Leshia grinned and shrugged her shoulders.
"Always," she said cheerfully and she finally relaxed in her seat. "So, I was thinking last night, you know how we'll be getting a whole load of first years this year?"
"Well…why don't we throw them a welcoming party of sorts," Leshia suggested.
"What do you mean of sorts?" Rachel asked with a frown. Leshia grinned darkly as the train started to pull away from the station.
"You know…the initiation kind," she said lightly.
"Initiation?" the girls repeated eagerly.
"You mean, where we get to tell them what to do and they have to do it?" Rachel asked eagerly. Leshia grinned and nodded slowly.
"That's exactly what it means! Well what do you think? Gryffindor needs a tradition like that!"
"Oh my God, any chance to get at Hermia and I'm in," Rachel said gleefully.
"Are you sure that's a nice thing to do?" she asked worriedly.
"We could get the boys to do it to," Leshia sang innocently and Katie's eyes suddenly widened with excitement, get Michael too? Now that did sound appealing!
"Okay! Sounds good!" As the train pulled closer and closer to the castle, the girls ran their ideas by all the other Gryffindors that dropped by their compartment. All of them seemed to think it was a brilliant idea and soon they had pooled lots of fun ideas that would no doubt humiliate the first years, but offer plenty of entertainment for the rest of them. By the time night had fallen and the girls had changed into their robes, they were eagerly anticipating the evening to come.
The scheming continued as the children climbed in the horseless carriages that led them up to the school and didn't stop until they were seated at their table and the doors flung open revealing the new first years.
"They seem so small," Katie remarked.
"Not to some people," Rachel countered and she grinned at Leshia, who quickly pinched her leg under the table in retaliation. The new children did however look frightened and for a moment Leshia wondered whether it would be kind to subject them to the plans they had wrought, but as she laid eyes on Hermia, and remembered all the ghastly things the girl had done over the years, she nodded to herself with an evil smile. The girls watched as Daniels, Lucy and Michaels, Sally were sorted into Gryffindor, until Weasley. Annie was called forward.
"Here we go, get ready," Rachel said happily, getting ready to cheer on the first of the Weasleys to take to the stool.
"Ravenclaw!" the hat bellowed out. While cheers erupted from the table next to the Ravenclaw, all the Weasleys at the Gryffindor table stared at one and other in surprise.
"Uh…what just happened?" Katie finally managed as up front Weasley, Jack was called forward. Everyone fell silent as it tried to decide Jack's fate.
"Hufflepuff!" it concluded and the table on the other side of the Gryffindors burst out into applause as Jack ran off to join his new house.
"My brother in Hufflepuff?" Luke stammered in surprise, as Weasley, Hermia walked up to the stool.
"Slytherin!" the hat concluded and Rachel's jaw dropped.
"No way," she exclaimed slowly.
"The damn thing's broken," Leshia complained loudly. Weasley, Laura was next and everyone waited with baited breath, surely at least one of the Weasley brood must be sorted into Gryffindor?
"Gryffindor!" the sorting had bellowed and the Weasleys along with the rest of their house burst into cheers, relieved that at least one person in the family was in their house. The very last Weasley to take to the stool, young Michael, joined them moments later, but the cousins' confidence was shaken. They had been looking forward to dominating the house with their large extended family, but it would seem that the hat had other ideas.
"Well at least Hermia won't be able to annoy the hell out of you anymore," Leshia tried to console Rachel, who smiled falsely and nodded, as Wood, Eliot, was sorted into their house, followed moments later by her identical twin sister Wood, Jaime.
Once all the first years had been sorted into their respective houses, Dumbledore slowly climbed to his feet and smiled at the gathered students. After greeting them all and welcoming them back for a fun-filled year, he took the 'great pleasure' of introducing the new Muggle Studies professor. Every male in the room turned to ogle her and Leshia was surprised that she felt a pang of annoyance when she saw Rodeo blushing red as he looked at the voluptuous teacher. Hermione, up at the teacher's table, looked no less impressed and she looked away pointedly as Ramble smiled at the gathered students and waved to everyone. Once the old headmaster had sunk to his seat a delicious meal appeared on the table and everyone dug in.
Two hours later Leshia and her friends managed to drag themselves back to their dormitory, where their belongings had already been deposited, and they lay back on their beds, their stomachs bulging.
"Can you be bothered to initiate the first years anymore?" Rachel called to the others.
"Rach…" Leshia began disappointedly, but her sentence was broken by a loud foghorn being blown below in the common room.
"First years downstairs, on the double!"