Alecia Tristyn Malfoy
Draco Malfoy stared at the letter on the grand kitchen table with a resigned sigh. Time had snuck by faster than it should have been allowed, and now, it was too late: Leshia was off to Hogwarts. The young man sighed heavily once more, as he brought his hand up to his neatly shorn hair and rubbed the back of his head. If only Hermione could see him now, he thought to himself gravely, she would discombobulate him for letting their little girl grow up without her father's undivided attention and support. As much as he liked to pretend, Leshia was no longer the small girl he'd been abandoned with when Hermione tragically disappeared all those years ago. She had all but grown up, and though in stature she was still a titch, in mind she was just as mature and mischievous as her mother had been before her.
Another heavy sigh escaped the young man's lips as he reached out and twirled the heavy letter in his hands, allowing the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry emblem atop the wax seal to pass in and out of view. It had been too long since he'd visited the school he'd once left in such a disgrace. The last time he had stepped through the doors was to seek Albus Dumbledore's help when it first became apparent that Hermione was not coming back. Five years…it had been five years. The school held nothing but unpleasant memories for Draco, with the events of his last year contorting any happy memories that might have gone before. All was now well in the wizarding world with Albus Dumbledore's seemingly miraculous, though in actual fact all just part of a plan, recovery, and with the defeat of Voldemort at the hands of Draco and his once rival Harry Potter. Considered a hero almost, Draco still felt as though he had to atone for his many sins and had thrown himself into the ministry whole-heartedly. It hadn't left time for much else, including his young daughter.
A fourth sigh, the loudest of them all, made Draco's shoulders droop impossibly low, as he pondered the discussion he had held with Albus Dumbledore the night before. What had he agreed to? What on earth had possessed him to agree to become the new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor? He had no experience teaching children. He had no business teaching students! Yes, he had been a very talented Auror in his time, helping the ministry scourge most of the dark following Voldemort had managed to draw about himself during his reign following his demise. A large proportion of the dark characters within Azkaban had been caught by none other than Draco Malfoy, their once ally turned traitor.
Ignoring the fact that Draco had never so much as taken part in the training of new Aurors in the department and had never in his life experienced the joys of teaching, he was sure Leshia was going to be spitting furious when she found out that her father was going to be following her to Hogwarts. She had been so looking forward for it for two years, waiting every summer to see if they might send for her a few years early due. How would she feel now she had finally got her letter and she was having to share the magnificent adventure with her old dad?
But he hadn't been able to let go, not yet. He'd squandered the last five years they'd had to themselves by throwing himself into his work, entirely pushing aside the fact that his little girl was quite without a mother and in dire need of some attention, and now, it was time to atone for that, the very greatest of his sins. Albus Dumbledore, ever the wise and insightful wizard that he always was, had given him this chance, and now he was going to take it with both hands. How hard could teaching be anyway?
In a whirlwind of sudden energy the heavy doors in the drawing room suddenly flew open, giving way to the little blur of eleven-year-old that was Leshia Malfoy. Short, sinewy and with a permanent expression of precocious mischief on her pretty little face, one might think her to be sly and shifty before she had even opened her mouth. One would not be mistaken! The perfect design for her troublesome demeanour, Leshia Malfoy was a troublemaker like her father before her, but with the good and kind heart of her mother now gone. She was a joy to be around, except of course if you were the subject of her mischief making. Draco could not have been prouder of her.
"Has it come? Has it come?" the words came tumbling from her mouth, and only now did Draco see the worried frown on his daughter's face. Behind her in the hallway her two greatest friends and allies in the world had crept in: Katie Potter and Rachel Weasley. Cousins, one would not think it to look at them. One tall and dark with the beauty of her parents and the grace of angels, the other quite average in stature and yet with a feisty attractiveness accentuated by her flaming red hair and freckled face, Katie and Rachel could not have differed more. Clutched in their hands were two letters and instantly Draco realised what had his daughter so worried. They had evidently received their letters that morning at the burrow, where all three best friends had been staying for the past two weeks, with the notable absence of a letter for Leshia. The poor girl had been in a state wondering whether she wasn't good enough for Hogwarts after all. Was she to be a squib the rest of her life?
"What this?" Draco asked casually as he reached held up his hand, the letter still clasped between his finger and thumb. The relief that washed over Leshia was visible as clear as day on her face, and before Draco could stop her the girl had crossed the kitchen as quick as lightning and snatched the heavy letter from his hand, a ridiculously pleased expression on her face.
"I can't believe it! It's finally here," she sighed dreamily as she tore it open and stared at the carefully printed words. "I am going after all!" she then called to her friends in the hall, and without so much a nod to her father she sprinted out into the hallway to join her best friends in a tremendously silly victory dance.
"See, I told you there was nothing to worry about," came the voice of Ginny Potter. Wife to Harry and mother to their two children, Katie and Michael, Ginny had been helping her mother supervise the children at the Burrow these past two weeks. Quite frankly she was more than ready to hand over the two interlopers to their respective families. The trouble those three girls got themselves into when they got together was quite astounding really. With a small smile Draco climbed out of his seat gingerly, before he made his way out to the hallway where the girls were still celebrating.
"Ginny," Draco called to the young woman he now considered a friend. Carefully avoiding the flying elbows Draco manoeuvred round the children and dutifully embraced Ginny in welcome. "To what do I owe this pleasure? I thought I was supposed to come round later this evening to collect this one." The red-haired woman grinned wryly as her eyes twinkled up at Draco.
"I couldn't have handled her paranoid twittering all day Draco," she laughed genially. "She's been driving us all mad, haven't you Leesh? Over breakfast she was telling us about how she was going to make her life as a squib." Draco saw the fond teasing for what it was and chuckled. In the middle of the hall the girls had finally let one another go, which only led to Leshia throwing her arms round her father's chest nearly bowling him to the ground.
"Hi dad," she cheered in a gloriously good mood. "I missed you! We've had so much fun; you should have been there! Yesterday Grandpa Weasley took us up Glenmoore Hill and we raced all the way back to the burrow on our brooms. It was great! I won!"
"Only because you cheated," Rachel interrupted with a broad grin.
"No I didn't," Leshia retorted gleefully, as she released her father and turned around to grin at her friends. "You're just sore losers that's all. I won fair and square, didn't I Ginny?" The young woman held up her hands and glanced to Draco.
"I can't say girls," she laughed. "I wasn't even there."
"Can I get you a cup of tea or anything?" Draco offered loudly over the girls' loud, yet fond argument over who had rightfully won their race.
"A cup of tea would be lovely!"
Five minutes later and Draco and Ginny were sat at the kitchen table, she with a steaming cup of tea, while the girls had taken to dragging Leshia's bags from her stay at the burrow up to her room.
"You're not looking so good Draco," she told him frankly, yet with concern in her pretty face.
"Cheers," Draco chuckled, feigning an affronted expression, but there was truth in Ginny's words. His skin was pasty and his eyes dark, ringed by even darker and blotchy skin, but not only that, with time only for working, sleeping, washing and on occasion eating, the once fine figure of a man that was Draco Malfoy had withered a little bit. He was thinner, and with no time for exercise his muscles had suffered slight atrophy and had withered away to a certain extent. Nothing could detract from his dangerous good looks, but he did not hold the awe of women in the street as he once did.
"I'm just worried about you," Ginny sighed. "We all are. You haven't come to the burrow once this year, and the only time we managed to get you to the manor for a party you snuck out after ten minutes." Draco rolled his eyes fondly.
"I'm not exactly welcome at the burrow Ginny, and as for that party? I couldn't help it; I had an important deadline the next day. I did tell you I wouldn't be able to stay long."
"Draco you're always welcome at the Burrow, don't be stupid," Ginny admonished. Yes, Molly was still incredibly suspicious and mistrustful of Draco Malfoy, but he was the father of Hermione's child and had been her husband, so unfortunately, she could not turn him away in good faith.
"Actually there's something I wanted to tell you," Draco began, but he promptly shut his mouth when a clattering of feet on the stairs signified the eminent return of the girls. Ginny frowned at the young man as Leshia and her friends burst into the kitchen.
"We want to go into town now to get our things for school mum," Katie exclaimed with a big grin.
"Yeah, I bet my dad and uncle Harry are wondering what's happened to us," Rachel added cheerfully.
"Yes, we'll go in a minute girls," Ginny soothed. "Are you okay Leesh?" Draco looked up sharply at these words to find his daughter staring at the table with a deep frown set into her forehead. After a few moments she looked at him in complete confusion.
"Dad where's all your stuff?" she asked eventually.
"What stuff?" Draco asked fondly, trying to evade this conversation until he could talk to his daughter in private about his new post later on.
"You know, your work stuff," the young girl repeated. It was true that since he had accepted the position of teacher at Hogwarts the night before Draco had cleared away all his papers that had normally littered the kitchen table to his study. He hadn't realised what a dramatic difference it made. As though suddenly realising that yes, the kitchen looked entirely different Ginny abruptly sat up straight and looked around herself.
"My God, you're right!" she exclaimed. "I don't think I've seen the surface of this table in years."
"Don't exaggerate," Draco complained amusedly and he climbed to his feet, ruffling Leshia's hair as he went. "So we're going into town are we?"
"Yes!" all three girls cheered, quickly forgetting about the curious change in the kitchen. Fifteen minutes later and the five of them had made their way to the Leaky Cauldron, which was only a five-minute walk down the road. Here they met Harry and Ron, who had entertained themselves while they waited with a few pints of frostbeer. As a direct consequence of this, they were what you would call slightly squiffy.
"It's about time," Ron exclaimed loudly when he saw his sister lead the rest of the little party in. "We've been here ages!" Ginny's eyes roved over the four empty pint glasses and grinned.
"Yes I can see that." After kissing her husband, the young woman urged the men to their feet.
"Draco! You're out of the house!" Ron mock-gasped when he saw the young man bringing up the rear behind the excitable girls. Draco rolled his eyes.
"Very funny Weasley," he sighed in a droll voice.
"Seriously though mate, it's good to see you. You should join us more often, it's not fun being a recluse you know," Harry cut in with a grin.
"It's got it's benefits," Draco countered cheerfully, ducking under the low doorframe into the little yard at the back of the pub, where Ginny was already carefully tapping out the sequence needed to open the gateway into Diagon Alley. "I don't have to hang out with you losers for starters."
"He makes me feel so special inside," Ron announced tearfully, his hand over his heart while Harry sniggered at the theatrics.
"Where's Lavender?" Draco enquired.
"Looking after the brood," came the cheerful reply. "Well someone's got to." Indeed, Ron and Lavender Brown had acquired quite a substantial brood since they had wed so many years before; with six daughters and an infant son, the couple were constantly overrun with 'child' stuff, and with Rachel being the eldest and only just going off to school, they had a lot more such years to come.
"Should have stopped after two like any sensible man would," Harry teased fondly.
"Why have two when you can have one perfect child?" Draco added with a proud grin at his daughter, who at this moment was gearing herself up beside her friend; ready to sprint through the gateway into the street beyond the moment it opened. Harry and Ron exchanged grins, but said nothing of it; Draco's daughter was the one thing that they tried to avoid teasing him about, as they feared the repercussions. The word overprotective didn't do Draco justice. Needless to say, they were quite thankful that their daughters were relatively mild in comparison to the troublemaker that was Leshia Malfoy. Yes, when they got together they were all as bad as each other, but the brains of the operation was definitely the little blonde hellion that had been spawned by mixing a fantastically intelligent witch with a fantastically evil wizard.
Now girls, don't run off," Ginny was telling the children as the stones rearranged themselves to make way for the bustling street beyond. Her warning wasn't heeded though and within seconds the three girls had disappeared into the crowd. With her hands raised to the heavens Ginny spun around and looked at the men as though to say, 'they're you're responsibility now!'
"We'll meet you in Flourish and Blotts Gin, don't worry, we'll find them," Harry told his wife, and after an adoring grin the young witch was gone.
"Oh we will will we?" Ron asked amusedly.
"Come on, I know where they are," Draco told the men and led the way down the bustling street. As usual, his perceptiveness paid off and after he had led the way straight to Quality Quidditch Supplies they soon found their daughters with their faces pressed up against the window as they ogled the racing brooms on display there. "If you don't mind kids, we don't want to hang about all day."
"But dad…" Leshia began. However, she soon found herself dragged into the crook of her father's arm and frogmarched across the street to Madam Malkin's Robes for all occasions.
"First years aren't even allowed brooms," Draco told the girl amusedly when he noticed the disgruntled expression on her face.
"Doesn't mean I can't have one at home does it?"
"I just bought you a new broom at Christmas time."
"Yeah, but it's so old now," Leshia tried, but seeing her pleading wasn't going to get her anywhere and that she was finally in this shop to try on her Hogwarts robes (something she had longed for every time they walked past) she promptly shut up and grinned angelically at the woman that was approaching them.
"Well well, is it that time already?" the woman remarked curiously as her eyes roved over Draco's face then to his child's. "Hogwarts right?"
"If you wouldn't mind," Draco replied coolly.
"Follow me," Madam Malkin commanded and she waltzed into the depths of her shop just as Harry and Ron led their daughters inside. "I'll be with you shortly!" came the call. Leshia had already rushed after the shopkeeper leaving Draco to amble after her and by the time he reached the little measuring podiums he himself had stood upon twenty-odd years ago, the girl had already donned the quintessential black Hogwarts robes and Madam Malkin was making the suitable adjustments. The sight of his little girl in her robes made Draco's heart ache. Why did she have to grow up?
"How do I look dad?" the girl asked gleefully, her features so bright and excited they made Draco grin despite himself.
"Short," he chuckled when he saw how far the robes dangled below her ankles, when in truth it was meant to be a knee-length robe.
"Dad!" the girl complained with gleeful laughter. "Other than that, how do I look?"
"Like your mother." He hadn't intended to say it, but it had just slipped out. In truth, the girl was the spitting image of her mother at this very second in time, aside from the colour of her hair and eyes, which had come from Draco's side of the family. What was peculiar about the girl was though she had inherited many of Draco's fine features, and would obviously be a stunning young woman one day; they had been so arranged that she looked so very much like her mother could have done had Hermione tamed her wild hair and fixed her teeth at a much younger age. Yes Hermione had certainly been beautiful later in life, but it didn't half make Draco laugh when he remembered how she first appeared at Hogwarts twenty years ago.
Draco rarely liked to talk about Hermione, it was too painful still, but Leshia was different. Every scrap of information regarding her mother that she could get her hands on she devoured, and this little reference to Hermione made the girl indescribably proud, causing her to don a very silly grin.
"There we go love," Madam Malkin was saying as she helped the girl out of the robes in order for her to set her tools to task making the alterations. "Won't be long. If you come back in ten minutes they'll be ready for you."
"Can we go to the pet shop dad?" Leshia asked hopefully.
"We should maybe do that last Leesh," he replied, as Katie dashed past him (she was next in line) followed by her father. "Shall we all meet up in the bookshop? Saves us all waiting around." Harry thought it was a splendid idea, and so moments later Draco was leading Leshia up the street towards Olivander's. The girl's excitement had reached fever pitch and as Draco pushed the door open Leshia burst in ahead of him. The dreary dusty shop had not enjoyed a makeover when Olivander returned to his post after his period of hiding. In fact, it would be safe to say that it had fallen into disrepair over the years, and Draco had to fight the urge to sneeze the moment he walked in.
"Good morning," a quizzical voice came from the shadows between the vast mountains of wand cases. "I wasn't sure I'd ever see another Malfoy in here again." Draco felt his whole body go rigid when the old man's words reached them from his hiding place. Leshia had no knowledge of the disgrace he had become in his sixth year at school, and Draco would fight tooth and nail to keep her in the dark over his past evil misdoings. Luckily the girl was too awed by the shop and the mysterious disembodied voice that seemed to know who she was to care about what it was actually saying.
"Good morning," Leshia called back hopefully, hoping to lure the shopkeeper out.
"How curious," the old man's voice was continuing. "So like your mother. Hmmm…we shall have to try…ah, ten inches, vine wood with a unicorn hair. Try it." Without warning, what Leshia had presumed to be a shadow suddenly burst forth behind the desk and before she could stop herself, she had jumped back into her father. Mr Olivander had hardly changed since the day Draco walked into this very shop seeking his first wand. Still grey and wild looking, the old man was an enigma. Terrifying, and yet strangely, this didn't matter, you felt like you wanted to know everything about him. The old man was holding a wand out to Leshia.
"Leshia, go on," Draco encouraged his daughter as he nudged her in the back (mainly to remove her from his feet that she had accidentally jumped onto in her panic at Olivander's sudden arrival). Unsure of what her father wanted her to do the girl glanced up with wide eyes.
"Take the wand you silly girl," Draco laughed.
"Oh." As though a jolt of electricity had surged through her, Leshia's hand flew up in a jerky motion, her fingers reaching out to touch the wand. Where she had expected to feel something…anything at all…she was colossally disappointed not to.
"Give it a wave girl," Olivander prompted and on command Leshia waved the wand about jerkily setting off jets of white-hot energy that singed the ceiling, creating a little rainstorm of plaster chippings. "No, that won't do." With this the old man disappeared into his shelf maze muttering to himself while Leshia placed the wand back on the counter, after which she glanced back nervously to her father.
"I wouldn't worry about it little one," he told her softly with a small grin. "I broke the front window with one of my attempts." This restored the girl's confidence and she giggled, picturing the pandemonium.
"Try this one," Olivander's voice came from the gloom and once more he darted into the open behind the counter with a beautiful cream silken box. Very delicately he pulled the lid off and moved aside the felt cloth to reveal a highly polished mid-length wand.
"Eleven inches, chestnut wood complete with a dragon heartstring," Olivander explained quietly. His beady eyes narrowed as Leshia moved forward to take the wand from his hand, evidently his quick mind going into overdrive over something.
The moment Leshia's fingers closed around the wand Olivander held out to her, she felt her fingers tingle. A weightlessness spread through her body making her feel giddy, and without having to be guided she swished the wand eliciting a spray of glittering sparkles.
"Excellent," Olivander exclaimed slowly as he took the wand from the girl's hand and put it into its box. "A very fine wand Miss Malfoy. Temperamental as they come, but capable of great things." Leshia was given the beautiful box to hold while Draco paid and soon he was leading her outside.
"That was lucky," he told her cheerfully. "I heard about this boy who went through all the wands in the shop, and by the end of it they still hadn't found the right one for him, so he had to go home and couldn't go."
"Dad! You're lying," Leshia complained happily.
"Me? Would I ever lie to you my dearest?" Draco asked mocking an affronted expression. Leshia donned an adoring expression and clutched onto her father's arm.
"Can we get my pet now?"
"Not yet! We've got a dozen other things to get first." And so Draco led his daughter past the pet shop – with great difficulty, in fact, it would be more apt to say that he dragged his daughter past the pet shop – and into the Cauldron shop where Draco bought his daughter the pewter cauldron she needed for her years at school. The girl couldn't have been any less interested and she glumly followed her father through to the apothecary to collect the basic ingredients she would need and a set of scales. Following this they went to collect her robes to find them nicely completed and wrapped. Once more Draco paid. By now they were laden down with packages and Leshia's enthusiasm was waning.
"Come on, let's go find the others in the bookshop," Draco told his daughter brusquely, trying to shake her out of her mood. Within no time they'd located the others in Flourish and Blotts, and in the presence of the other girls Leshia's excitement grew anew. Draco was looking quite grim as he searched through the rows of books to find the one's on his daughter's list.
"You look like you're having fun," came the voice of Ginny, before she appeared moments later, equally as laden down with packaged objects. Draco grinned wryly.
"Leshia's getting impatient," he explained.
"And this trip to Diagon Alley is the longest time you've spent out in public in donkeys years isn't it?" the woman asked frankly. Draco narrowed his eyes and her and wanted very much to refute what she had said, but when he thought about it, she was right.
"Well so what if it is?" he demanded impatiently. "There's hoards of pushy people about, why would I want to throw myself into their midst's willingly?" Ginny smiled and then looked around to see the girls giggling over in the corner. She didn't push Draco; he was there and that was all that mattered.
"So what did you want to tell me earlier?" she asked curiously.
"Oh yeah," Draco said and he felt a sliver of worry run through him. It felt as though if he didn't tell anyone then it might not become a reality and as this exposure to crowds of people had made the agoraphobe inside of him very twitchy, he was wondering whether packing up shop and moving to teach hoards of unruly children at Hogwarts was such a good idea. "That…"
"It's something to do with work isn't it?" Ginny correctly guessed. Draco furrowed his brow at her. "Earlier, in the kitchen, you were trying to distract Leshia from asking too much about your work. What's happened Draco? I've never seen you sitting at an empty table in your own home before. It's always work, work, work. So spill." Draco glanced into his friend's eyes and he sighed heavily. Ginny was a good listener, and since Hermione's disappearance she had become a good friend. Perhaps it was that she was so like his dear lost wife that Draco trusted her, but either way, Ginny was the only one he'd ever talk to.
"I'm not going to be working for the ministry anymore," Draco said softly. Ginny's eyes went wide in shock and her lips parted slightly in surprise. What a turn up for the books!
"Why? What happened?" Draco shrugged and rubbed the back of his neck agitatedly.
"Albus," he said simply. "He brought Leshia's letter round last night, and…well…he sort of offered me a job."
"As a cleaner. What do you think?" Draco quipped, crueller than he had intended. After a small apologetic look he continued, "No as the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher Ginny. He wants me to be a teacher."
"And you said yes to be near Leshia," Ginny correctly guessed once more. Draco nodded, his head hanging.
"Do you think…do you think it was the wrong decision?" Ginny exhaled slowly as she pondered what Draco had told her.
"As much as the idea of you trying to teach a load of hyperactive eleven-year-olds makes me want to roll around laughing," she began with a big smile. "I have to admit; I can't imagine anything more suited to you."
"You think?" Draco asked sounding entirely unsure.
"Yes!" Ginny squeaked excitedly. "You're one of the greatest Aurors the ministry ever saw, and you grew up around this sort of stuff. I can't think of anyone better to teach the next generation about how to protect yourself from dark magic than you. The amount of experience you've got is phenomenal." A small smile wormed its way onto Draco's handsome face.
"So you think it's a good idea?"
"It's a brilliant idea! And besides, now you can keep an eye on our three, who you know are going to cause trouble from the second they step foot inside that castle to the second they're either expelled, or through some lucky chance actually graduate." Draco chuckled and looked across the shop to where the three girls had their heads bowed together –a mischief precursor if ever he saw one.
"Do you think she'll hate me for it?"
"Draco," Ginny laughed fondly. "That girl adores you. She completely and utterly idolises you, and it seems that the harder you've pushed her away…"
"Steady on," Draco complained, but in truth, he couldn't argue with Ginny on this one.
"No Draco, you have. And I know the two of you are extremely close and that you love Leshia, but that girl is desperate for your attention, and I feel that this is exactly what she needs."
"I hope you're right."
Leshia, Katie and Rachel slurped at their Milkshakes happily as their parents sat at the neighbouring table with all the packages being flat out ignored. Not that they minded, they were reliving old times, as they often did when they got together. The girls were watching all the youngsters walk past; trying to guess which ones would be in their year. Already they'd seen a nasty looking young man with fine pointy features, being followed about by his short and portly parents. He looked like trouble, and the glare he had cast Leshia had made her feel indignant with anger. What right did a stranger have to glare at her?
"Hey look at that boy," Leshia suddenly laughed and she pointed across the street to where a good-looking young boy was standing awkwardly studying the pets in the window of Magical Menagerie. At his side stood a young bohemian-looking man and a beautiful young woman. All three had an element of dumnfoundedness about them, as though everything they laid their eyes on was new and fascinating. What surprised Leshia was that the parents of this boy looked even younger than her own father, which she found most odd, as her father had been only nineteen when she was born, in a time when a mass baby boom took place, exactly nine months after the end of the War.
"Muggles," Rachel chuckled amusedly.
"It looks like he's going to be in our year," Leshia remarked interestedly. "He looks cool."
"He looks strange," Katie cut in with a wrinkled brow. "Look at his hair, it's all blonde and weird."
"What's wrong with blonde hair?" Leshia laughed and she tore her eyes away from the fun-looking boy to feign a glare at Katie.
"Nothing," the bespectacled girl quickly offered shrilly. "Your hair's lovely." Both Rachel and Leshia started laughing loudly and they didn't stop until their parents climbed to their feet deigning it time finally for the girls' most anticipated portion of the trip. Leshia, Rachel and Katie rushed ahead of their parents to the shop the muggle boy and his parents had gone into, and were now currently looking at rats in. They took the small shop by storm and within seconds of their having entered it it became awash with excited chatter and a flurry of activity. Leshia headed straight for the cages containing the little kittens, while Katie and Rachel had their hearts set on owls. It took Leshia a grand total of two seconds to choose her desired animal companion.
"Ah," the girl exclaimed in shock as something small scrambled up the side of one of the cages and leapt onto her. Dark and silver striped, the fluffy little kitten was absolutely adorable, but what had Leshia so taken with it, was its urge to cause mischief. They were a match made in heaven.
"Dad I want this one!" the words tumbled from her mouth as she rushed across the room to Draco, who had only just set foot inside the door having deposited all the other packages in the shop front outside.
"That one?" he exclaimed with a teasing frown on his face. Quite unceremoniously he lifted the squirming little kitten from his daughter's arms and raised it to his eyelevel.
"Yes," Leshia said patiently. "I want that one."
"This little titch?"
"Wouldn't you rather have a nice toad or something?" By now Leshia had lost patience with her father's game and she merely crossed her arms and started tapping her foot in sheer indignation. Draco saw he was pushing it too far and smiled adoringly at the girl, placing the kitten back in her arms. "Go on then, if you must." The change in the eleven-year-old was instantaneous as a huge smile sprung onto Leshia's pretty face.
"Thank you!" she cheered, before she charged over to the counter with her new cat. Draco followed entirely amused by his child to pay for the cat, his leather money pouch feeling much lighter than when he had taken it out earlier on. The muggle family that had walked in ahead of the girls were at the counter paying for a rat the boy had picked.
"Hi," Leshia said boldly to the young boy.
"Hi," he replied with equal vigour.
"Are you a muggle?" the girl asked curiously, managing to overlook the interesting accent the boy spoke with – had she known any better then she might have recognised a pseudo Scandinavian American twang to it.
"A what?" the boy asked with a furrowed brow answering Leshia's question straight away.
"Cool! I've never seen a muggle down Diagon Alley before! You're new at Hogwarts aren't you? So are we, my best friends and me. They're over there. They're buying owls. I tried to tell them not to, but they wouldn't listen. Oh you've got a rat? They're cool too. I definitely think rats and cats are the best, don't you?" For a moment the boy stood stunned, trying to keep up with everything this confidant girl had just spoken. At the counter the boy's father started chuckling very softly, while his mother tried to suppress her laughter. It wasn't often they saw their son silenced for words, even when he got his letter and they arrived in this strange street the boy kept cool and full of bravado, but the arrival of this charismatic youngster had thrown him off balance.
"Yeah," he merely managed with an embarrassed grin. "I'm Rodeo," he added soon after, trying to think of anything to say that might impress the girl.
"Leshia," she replied happily. "This is my dad," she quickly added when she realised her father was standing behind her and had been for quite some time. Rodeo glanced up at Draco and then instantly wished he hadn't, as he was being stared at quite darkly. "And this is my new cat," Leshia added. "I think I'm going to call him Phillius."
"Right," Rodeo managed. "Um, you're magic then are you?" Leshia frowned.
"What do you mean?"
"Well I mean, you grew up with magic right?"
"Yes," Draco spoke for the first time, quite firmly. So firmly in fact, that Rodeo's parents turned around and glanced at the man who had spoken so seriously to their son. Upon seeing the stoic expression upon Draco's face they tried to smile at him and nod, but he merely returned the nod before looking away.
"Come on Rhodes," the muggle man at the counter said cheerfully, with a very strange accent as well. "We've got to go get your, uh, wand." The man had spoken as though in complete disbelief of the words he was speaking. In fact, it would be quite a while before Rodeo Holsson's father adjusted to the fact that there was such a thing as Magic in the world and that his son was in fact, a wizard. He had rather hoped the boy would follow him into the sport of ice hockey for his profession.
"I'll see you at school," Leshia said happily. "Good luck with choosing your wand. I got mine on the second go, but my dad told me about this boy that went through all the wands in the shop, but he still didn't find one so he couldn't go to school!" Draco snorted with laughter despite himself at his daughter's mischief, which earned him a softer look from Rodeo's father. So, this other man was human, well that was nice to know.
"Oh, okay," Rodeo managed seemingly very worried now about choosing his wand.
"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll get one on your first go," Leshia assured the boy with a big grin. With this the muggle family left the shop, allowing Draco to pay for the kitten Leshia had chosen. Both Rachel and Katie had chosen owls and by now everyone was so laden down with packages that they had to call it a day, each flooing their own separate ways from the Leaky Cauldron.
"All packed?" Draco asked his daughter as she came careening down the stairs and into the informal living room – or rather, the 'muggle room' as Draco liked to call it seeing as this was the only room in the house with a television (something Leshia had pleaded with him for) – where the take away food had been deposited by a lazy Draco. Leshia adored curries, something they discovered when Tally (the Malfoys' one and only Houself) had taken a bad fall and had been off work for a week meaning Draco had to provide dinner. Having no time to cook they'd experimented with the local muggle take away restaurants and it was thus that Leshia discovered her love for Indian food. Every now and then Draco would indulge her.
It was their last night at home before the Hogwarts Express would bear them both to the school, up north and as of yet Leshia was still unaware that she would not be taking the trip alone. Draco had bottled out every single evening this week until now, on the last possible day, he was going to have to tell his daughter his secret. He could tell she was a bit suspicious, as he had spent more time with her in the last few days than in the last half year combined, and Tally had started packing a trunk for Draco in plain view of Leshia. She was quite easily fooled by Draco explaining that Tally was going slightly senile and the stupid elf believed him to be going to school and not the girl, and yet still part of her suspected something was up.
"Oh I love this programme," Leshia said excitedly as one of those awful muggle cartoons came on the television about a dysfunctional family in America. Draco was entirely sure he shouldn't let his daughter watch such a dreadful muggle contraption, but it had proved so useful in the past whenever he had to work and had no time for her. Besides, up until now Leshia had been attending a muggle school to keep her occupied during the days when Draco worked, and she had argued that she had to appear to be normal to her muggle classmates, and keeping up to date with the latest television programmes was apparently central to this plan.
"Are you all packed?" Draco repeated when he hadn't had a word out of the girl. She nodded as she tucked into her naan bread. "Everything? You can't turn the train around if you find you forgot something you know." Leshia grinned.
"I know," she managed through a mouthful of food. "Hey dad?" she asked a few moments later.
"Were you worried about what house you were going to be sorted into when you went to school?" the girl asked curiously.
"No," he replied truthfully. "I knew I was going into Slytherin."
"I just did. Everyone in my family had always been in Slytherin." Leshia seemed incredibly downhearted about this. "What's wrong?"
"I don't want to be in Slytherin," the girl said softly. "But if everyone in your family always went into Slytherin, and if you did…then I will too."
"Your mother was in Gryffindor," Draco countered. "And besides, you're not like me when I was your age. I was horrid." Leshia giggled and ignored the truth that was in Draco's words.
"Actually," Draco said worriedly, and the tone of his voice caused Leshia to turn and face him; her father so rarely faltered. "There was something I wanted to talk to you about…something about school." Leshia stayed silent as her scheming eyes watched her father's face. Draco got the impression that she had known this would be coming. "See, your letter, well, it didn't come in the post, but Albus Dumbledore, your new headmaster dropped it off personally." Leshia still remained silent. "He did that, because he wanted to talk to me about something. He…" Draco trailed off and rubbed the ash blonde bristles on the back of his head anxiously.
"He what?" Leshia asked seriously when her father remained silent.
"He offered me a job Leshia, and I said yes." For a moment Leshia stared at her father, before very slowly she looked away in thought.
"So you're also going to school tomorrow?"
"Yeah, I'm afraid so." The sound of the dreadful family on television was all that filled the room while Leshia tried to deal with this surprising piece of information. Her father was going to be at Hogwarts. Part of her was mortified at the thought. No one else would have their father at the school. Would they think her to be some sort of baby that couldn't leave home without her father in tow? But these feelings were being smothered out by the overwhelming joy that was threatening to burst out at knowing that she didn't have to leave her dad after all. She would never have told him, but over the last few days the realisation that she was going to be leaving him had made her teary eyed every night she went to bed, and the thought of being so far away from him had made the breathe catch in her chest.
Since the disappearance of her mother, Leshia had become incredibly insecurely attached to her father, and quite clingy. In the beginning she couldn't even bear to be away from him for a mere few hours. School soon saw to that, but she had incredible separation anxiety. After this nights at Katie's or Rachel's became a hurdle, so much so that on most nights Draco would look up from his place at the kitchen table deeply buried in his work to find a sniffling little girl come shuffling in in her pyjamas accompanied by a tired looking Ginny, Harry or Ron. Over the years they managed to successfully work their way up to a few weeks at a time here and there at the burrow, or at Potter Manor and sometimes even at Rachel's house, but a whole three months away from Draco had been quite unthinkable and Leshia had been dreading it.
"What are you thinking?" her father asked eventually, when Leshia had remained in silence for quite some time. For a few moments longer she remained staring blankly at the TV, before all of a sudden she erupted into a hyperactive blur of joy. First she hugged Draco, then she danced about the room, before finally settling in another hug from her father. He couldn't even attempt to hide the joy that his daughter not only approved of his new position, but evidently was deliriously happy to have him near her.
"Can we go pack your trunk?" Leshia asked excitedly as she bounced up onto her feet again. Laughing Draco indulged her and followed her up to his room where she started throwing his clothes around willy-nilly, aiming for his trunk and inevitably always missing. He couldn't even muster the negative emotion to get cross with her.
The following morning the house was chaotic as Draco tried to get Leshia organised in order for them to catch their train. Tally had dutifully accepted to come with the father and daughter to Hogwarts in order to aid them in their duties. Draco hadn't actually asked her this favour, instead she had taken it upon herself, claiming that she could and would only ever serve the Malfoys. The little Houself had already apparated ahead to Hogsmeade in order to get Draco's quarters – consisting of the office beside his classroom and a bedroom adjoining that – homely for his arrival. Draco meanwhile stood at the bottom of the stairs with the two trunks and with Philly's (the name Phillius had in fact lasted a mere half an hour before the abridged name became standard practice) lead firmly clutched in his hand. Philly was a nightmare of a kitten, very much like his owner, he was constantly trying to get into mischief and so required a firm hold otherwise he'd be off in the flower pots, or trampling over the kitchen surfaces.
Leshia was nowhere to be seen and Draco had been calling up to her for the last half an hour.
"We won't be going anywhere unless you shift it," Draco called up the stairs amusedly.
"Dad calm down, I'm here," Leshia's voice came and she sounded closer. "It's not like we have far to go, it's just up the road," the girl said happily and she flounced down the stairs looking peculiarly unlike herself.
"What have you done to yourself?" Draco asked accusingly. Leshia frowned at him.
"Nothing," she finally replied and lifted her school satchel over her shoulder and took Philly's lead from her father's hand before trying to bustle out with the handle of her trunk in her other hand, but Draco was blocking her path.
"You're wearing make-up aren't you?" he finally exclaimed in surprise.
"I thought we were in a hurry dad! Come on!" Leshia complained. "And anyway, Katie told me to do it, she said people would think I was cool. It's only this blusher stuff."
"That's the last time you take advice from Katie Potter you understand? You're only eleven for goodness sake," Draco grumbled as he headed out with his trunk in hand too.
"Are we meeting Rachel and Katie at the station?" Leshia asked eagerly as they bustled up the road, though people of course turned to stare at the trunks and the fluffy silver tabby on the lead.
"Yes," Draco replied impatiently as he tried to hurry on. Leshia ran to keep up with him and soon they were walking into the packed station. They quickly found the barrier and charged through to find the train was luckily still there. Draco helped his daughter with her trunk and then dragged his own to the other end of the platform (he had seen the students peering at him, wondering why a parent was travelling with his daughter and he wished to save her some embarrassment). Leshia trailed up and down the aisle until finally she heard her name being yelled.
"Leesh!" Rachel's voice came and before Leshia realised what was going on she had been yanked inside a cabin that already housed Katie.
"Where have you been, we were scared you wouldn't make it," the raven-haired girl accused. Leshia frowned confusedly at the girl, before she shook her head as if to say they had bigger things on their mind.
"What? Look I have something huge to tell you!" she exclaimed magnanimously, before she lifted Philly onto a seat so he wouldn't be squashed while she lifted her trunk (with the help of her friends) onto the luggage rack.
"Well go on then, tell us," Rachel urged once they'd retaken their seats.
"My dad is going to be the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher," Leshia explained with a wrinkled brow. Since the night before she'd had time to truly digest her father's story and now, though still happy he was going to be there, she was concerned that all the plans they had made would be significantly more difficult with Draco about the place. He was legendary at catching her in the art of troublemaking. Katie and Rachel looked stunned.
"You're joking right?" Rachel demanded with a wrinkled nose. Leshia shook her head.
"You're serious?" Katie demanded.
"Cross my heart," Leshia insisted and the girls ebbed into silence.
"Wow, that's…weird," Rachel finally spoke, but then she smiled. "But still, good right? I mean, I bet you're happy." Leshia smiled fondly at her friend and nodded.
"Yeah I am, but still, part of me is worried." With this the conversation was disprupted by the train pulling out of the station and the girls waving like mad at Harry, Ginny, Ron and Lavender who had all turned out for the occasion. Afterwards it did not resume.
"We're going to be in Gryffindor for sure," Rachel suddenly exclaimed instead.
"With parents like ours, what could go wrong?" Katie said, but then suddenly thought better of it and glanced at Leshia. "I mean…" But Leshia was grinning.
"He's reformed isn't he?" she said cheerfully. "Besides, I'm practically a Weasley I've spent so much time at the Burrow!" The other two laughed and nodded. "And all Weasleys go into Gryffindor, they're thinking of renaming it Weasley, because in a few years, it's going to be crawling with redheads." The others laughed even more and they playfully reached out and play-hit their friend.
It was a joke however, that had the potential to become a reality, in that already four Weasleys, Luke and Tom the sons of Bill and Charlie, and Amy and Sarah, the daughters of Fred and George, had places in the Gryffindor house. Following in their wake came the many dozens of little siblings, which would threaten to turn the house red should they all find places in the house.
The girls continued to ponder what houses they might end up in occasionally being amused by kids that would walk past, and then do a double take when they recognised the children of some of the most famous witches and wizards around.
"I bet that's going to get real annoying," Leshia said after a while. The other two laughed but then all three looked to the door in shock. A tearful little girl had just opened the door.
"I've got a message from some kids up the aisle," she sniffed. The girls furrowed their brows before urging the girl to carry on. "They said that," the girl stuttered. "They said that if you set one foot in Hogwarts they'll kill you!" With that the girl squeaked again and rushed out bawling. The girls looked back at one and other in wonder.
"Oh this is ridiculous," Leshia finally exclaimed. "We can't have made enemies already! Let's go see who it is."
"No Leesh!" Katie exclaimed. "We can't get in trouble already, what would your dad say?"
"Yeah, well think what he would say if he heard people were threatening us before we'd even stepped foot inside the castle?" she retorted with one raised eyebrow.
"Well he'd tell them off," Katie said.
"Yeah, so why don't we tell him?" Rachel added. Leshia stared at her friends incredulously.
"Well I'm going to see who it is," she said simply and she got to her feet and waltzed out. Not wanting their ringleader to suffer alone the other two follower her in a scramble and were soon following her up the aisle as she stopped at every cabin and asked, " Okay, so who has a problem with us?" Finally they found the right cabin and a very sly boy got to his feet.
"I do you filthy traitor," he growled. Leshia wasn't intimidated by him in the slightest, and her friends too gained their strength on being threatened as such. Leshia narrowed her eyes at him, she'd met his sort before.
"Get over yourself," she said in a blasé sort of tone and then instantly regretted it as the boy sent a hex flying her way. She suddenly fell to the floor rigidly, unable to move as though her joints had frozen up.
"What is going on here?" a very angry sounding voice came and within moments a tall boy had arrived on the scene. He looked down at Leshia in surprise and quickly said the counter curse finally freeing her of her predicament.
"Couldn't leave them alone for five minutes could you Ashton, well that's detention for you and you'll miss the feast!" the boy barked.
"Hey they came looking for me," this Ashton boy retorted.
"Yeah only after you threatened us," Leshia bit back angrily.
"That's enough, go along girls unless you want to be in trouble too. Malfoy I'll be notifying your father immediately of your behavior." The girls didn't need telling twice and they rushed back to their cabin, where Rachel dropped down pulling Philly onto her lap – ever since she had started to play with Philly she had regretted her choice of Owl. The girls chatted about their excitement until the lunch cart came round. They quickly got everything, but barely had a chance to enjoy it as moments after digging in a handsome face peered round the door.
"Dad," Leshia complained weakly, knowing why he had come.
"Are you in trouble already?" he asked sounding amused.
"Nearly, but not quite, so it's okay," Leshia explained.
"Hi Draco!" the two girls chorused. Draco smiled fondly at them.
"Hi," he replied and he pulled back slightly. "Well as long as everything's okay," he said before heading up the train again.
"Your dad is so sweet," Katie said once the door had slid closed and they were digging into their food once more. Leshia shrugged. She knew she was loved and rarely complained about Draco, because he had always been a cool relaxed sort of father – well except for the obsessive protectiveness, but that side rarely surfaced.
"He's okay, you know," Leshia said with a shrug. "As far as dads go." Her friends chuckled and got back to their food – they knew how attached Leshia was to Draco. 'Daddy's girl' did not do her justice. And so they ate, as the train led them closer and closer to the school.
"It's getting dark, we should put our robes on," Katie told the other and they agreed. So making sure Philly stayed on the seats, they lifted down their heavy trunks and found their robes packed in varying shades of neatness ranging from pristine in Katie's case, to slovenly in Rachel's. They pulled them over their clothes and sat anxiously awaiting instruction as they pulled into a steamy station.
"Dad told me to leave him," Leshia sighed as she put a sleepy Philly back on his lead and tied him to her trunk. The kitten didn't seem to mind, but the girls felt very bad about leaving him.
"First years this way," a deep booming voice the children recognised was coming from the platform. With their worrying thoughts of Philly pushed away they raced out to see a tall figure looming over their fellow excited first years.
"Hagrid!" the three girls chorused and sprinted up to the half-giant, embracing him firmly.
"'Allo you lot," Hagrid greeted them cheerfully and he continued to probe them with questions of their respectful families as he led the startled first years to a series of boats. At this point he turned to the year group.
"Right, four per boat, hurry now," he told them and helped hold the nearest boat still while the girls clambered in. They were joined by another small girl who was beaming shyly at them. They grinned back and sat back as the boats sailed across the giant lake towards the great castle that loomed overhead.
"Wow," Rachel finally let out appreciably. "Dad wasn't wrong, this place is great!" The boats entered the underground network and soon stopped at a flight of stairs. The kids quickly swarmed out and were led to a waiting hall besides the great hall. They were all too awed to notice that the portraits waved cheerily as they walked past and that a suit of armour followed them curiously for a while before loosing interest and finding something better to do. Once they got inside the children broke into rushed whispers.
"Did you see that ghost?" one little girl was whispering to her new friend.
"And the pictures on the walls were all moving!" another boy was gasping. The trio, already used to the wizarding world as most were, simply stared around themselves appreciatively. They didn't have long to chat because soon a formidable looking woman walked in.
"Hello children," she said firmly. "I am Professor McGonagall. Shortly you will be taken into the great hall where the other students are seated, and you will be sorted into your houses. Everyone should take this opportunity to make themselves look presentable, as you only get one chance at a first impression." The children quickly struggled to straighten their robes and flatten their hair, before the stern looking woman threw open the doors and led the line of children through crowded great hall. Leshia found herself near the front beside the shell-shocked boy she had met the other day in town. He seemed much more relaxed now he had had a few days to come to grips with everything.
"Hi," Leshia whispered with a grin.
"Hey," he replied in his foreign accent. "You were right," he added in a whisper as they walked down the aisle.
"Got my wand first go!" Leshia grinned at the boy and then looked ahead to see her father sat beside a long-haired professor with a ghastly hooked nose. Leshia knew this to be Severus Snape, a very unpleasant man she had encountered but a few times. He disliked her, she was sure of it, but then again, Snape seemed to dislike everybody. Draco had told the girl once that he hated the adoration he got from the community, which he earned when he resurrected Dumbledore and his part in the big plan at the end of the wr was explained.
Draco was watching her and the boy with a stoical expression. Rodeo saw him at the same time as Leshia did and he froze a little bit with wide eyes.
"You didn't tell me he was a teacher."
"I didn't know till yesterday," Leshia replied apologetically, by which point they had reached the front of the hall and she had to keep quiet.
"Now, each of you will come forward as I call your name and the hat will sort you into your houses," McGonagall called out to them and from nowhere a scroll appeared and she started to read names. Despite herself, Leshia felt a little pang of glee when Holsson, Rodeo was sorted into Gryffindor. Finally McGonagall reached Leshia, and she was the first of the three to face the trial.
"Malfoy, Leshia," McGonagall read aloud. Leshia pushed away all the twittering that had started, ignored Cole Ashton and his cronies' glares and even managed to turn a blind eye to Draco's intent gaze as she sat down and the hat was lowered onto her head. For a moment there was nothing, but then…
"Ah, very interesting. I never thought I'd see another Malfoy enter this school after what happened to the last," a small voice came. Leshia couldn't help it, but she got defensive at what appeared to be a jab at her father. So he'd been a bully, so what? Of course, she couldn't know the hat's true meaning.
"Yeah well I'm here aren't I?" she bit back cockily.
"Definitely a Malfoy with all that cheek," the voice chuckled."I ought to put you in Slytherin where the Malfoys feel at home…"
"No, not Slytherin! I want to be in Gryffindor," Leshia countered quickly, trying to repent for her cheek.
"You certainly have qualities that would be best suited for Slytherin," the hat countered.
"I'm not one of them," Leshia thought fiercely.
"You have your mother's qualities too I see," the hat chuckled and Leshia felt a stab at this mention of Hermione. "And those qualities far outweigh your father's heritage. Very well, Gryffindor it is then."
"Gryffindor!" the hat called out and Leshia opened her eyes with a big smile as the Gryffindor table burst into cheers. Luke, Tom, Sarah and Amy, the Weasley clan already in Gryffindor cheered the loudest and as Leshia sat down she felt several hands pat her on the back.
"Well done," Sarah told jubilantly and they all fell silent again. Leshia looked up to the main table and saw that Draco was giving her a small proud smile that spoke more than a thousand words could. Dumbledore too was smiling happily at her. Leshia beamed back and waited until Katie and Rachel were also sorted into Gryffindor (to more cheering). Reed, Ashley and White, Nicola were also sorted into Gryffindor and the girls noted that the small girl who had joined their boat transpired to be Nicola White. Rodeo and his new pal Parys Jackson were both sitting opposite the girls and soon a conversations truck up as the food materialised on their plates.
"I'm muggle born," Rodeo explained to those not in the know – Leshia felt quite smug to have known this fact already. " My dad's a pro hockeyer and my mum's a model, so they're pretty relaxed most of the time anyhow."
"What's a hockeyer?" Leshia asked with a frown. Rodeo grinned.
"Ice hockey, it's a sport, I'll show it to you when the lake freezes over," he explained.
"Does it involve brooms?" Rachel asked conversationally. Rodeo's eyebrows raised so high they retreated above his dark ash blonde mop of hair.
"Brooms?" he finally managed and the girls filled him in on quidditch. Parys, who was a half-blood, seemed fascinated with the sport and told them he wanted to play for the team.
"My mum never played though when she was at school," he said with a shrug. "Not like you guys, it's in your blood." He was looking enviably at the trio of pure-bloods who had so much family history between them at this school they could write a massive book.
"Oh yeah, you guys from long standing wizarding families then?" Rodeo asked curiously.
"Well," Rachel began. "We're both part Weasleys, they're about as far back as you can go. Well along with the Malfoys, who Leshia's from. Katie's dad's Harry Potter, that should say it all really. My mum's from a long family and Leshia's mum was the best witch of her day but like you, muggle born," she explained. Leshia looked a little withdrawn.
"Don't say was like that," she finally said trying light-heartedness.
"I'm sorry?" Rodeo asked curiously.
"Well my mum she…" Leshia inhaled slowly. "She disappeared five years ago. I know she's not dead. So…just don't say was."
"Sorry Leesh," Rachel said sounding mortified with herself. Leshia shrugged.
"No harm done," she said and looked up at the table to see her dad in a merry conversation with Snape (if merry could possibly be the right word).
"So you really only found out yesterday that he's a teacher now?" Rodeo asked with a strange look.
"Yeah, he's going to be the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher," she replied and looked back at the muggle-born boy. Rodeo grinned.
"Right," he said and then frowned. "What's that?" The others laughed and they all got to know each other as the dinner went on. Soon they couldn't eat any more and the food disappeared from their plates. Dumbledore stood up to make his usual quirky speech. The girls were fascinated by the old man, until finally he came to introduce Draco.
"Now then, we come to new introductions. I would like everyone to give a very warm welcome to our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Draco Malfoy. He has kindly agreed to share his vast knowledge on the subject with you and I hope you will all make him feel most at home." The pupils in the school, started to applaud loudly and Leshia was mortified when she noticed girls all around the hall nudging one another.
"Uh," she remarked suddenly.
"What?" Katie asked curiously.
"They all fancy my dad," Leshia complained, causing her friends to look at the girls in the older years. Leshia was not mistaken.
"Ugh yuck!" the cousins agreed. The children remained in good spirits while they sang the school song and then finally they were given leave to go to their new common rooms. The Gryffindors filed after their house and up an intricate set of stairwells they were sure never to remember, until finally they reached a portrait of a very fat lady.
"Password?" she ordered.
"Goozeberry," the prefect who had led the way relayed and soon the painting swung away revealing the hole in the wall. Everyone crammed in and went 'left' or 'right' depending on which way they were being ordered and soon they found a door with 'First Years' printed on it. Leshia and the girls pushed forward and found themselves in a very comfortable dormitory. Their cases had been brought up, as had their pets and Leshia quickly rushed to her new bed to find Philly sleeping soundly, and empty bowl of cat milk at his side. The girls quickly changed into their pyjamas and then climbed into bed. Leshia pulled Philly into the crook of her arm and looked up at the draped ceiling of her bed.
"Goodnight guys," she barely managed before she fell asleep with a smile on her face.
Leshia woke the next day with a start as someone threw open her curtains and jumped on her bed.
"What the…" she uttered, blinking furiously in the bright light. Finally her eyes focused on some red hair. "Rachel!" she bellowed and pushed her friend off her bed. Across the room Katie was changing, tiredly rubbing her eyes.
"Got you too huh?" she mumbled tiredly. Leshia yawned and stretched before swinging her legs over her bed and changing into her uniform, over which she pulled her robes. She quickly brushed her hair up into a clip before pulling on her clunky sketchers over her bare feet.
"Ready?" Rachel beamed at her friends and she led them down to the crowded common room. Once there they were accosted by Luke and Tom, who ruffled their hair and tickled them until they escaped into the corridor and got away.
"Uh…anyone remember the way?" Leshia asked as they found themselves in an only vaguely familiar corridor.
"You want to take the third turn up there loves, then straight down and make a right at the end," a helpful painting suggested. The girls followed this advice and soon heard the hubbub of fellow students milling around, so the followed the sound and found the entrance hall.
"Well that was easy," Katie said happily and she and the others walked through and found empty places at the breakfast table. They quickly helped themselves to meagre breakfasts – still being full from the night before – and looked around themselves interestedly. Once they had caught the menacing glares of Cole Ashton and his cronies however, they turned back to their table. Leshia was the last to do so, but not after delivering a rude gesture she was sure half the hall saw. Luckily none of the teachers did and Leshia quickly glanced up to see not even her father had been watching. He was reading the Prophet with one hand and stirring his coffee with the other. It was a comforting sight to behold, he had done this every day for the last eleven and a half years as far as Leshia could remember. It was little things such as this that kept them going without the third part of their family present. Halfway through breakfast McGonagall flounced down the table giving out timetables.
"Oh look, we're got Defence Against the Dark Arts first thing," Rachel said cheerfully. Leshia looked at her own timetable quickly.
"Oh yeah," she said sounding less happy about this. Soon breakfast was over and they took the fifteen minute break before class to try and find the classroom they were supposed to be headed for. They reached the line of queuing Slytherins, whom they would be sharing this lesson with, just as Draco came striding up the corridor. Within the week of healthy eating and some healthy exercise, he had started to bulk out again to his former glory, while his skin seemed alive and vibrant once more. The usual morning stubble that had always adorned his face still remained and all in all, he had not looked so good in a long time. He was also blissfully unaware that almost the entire female student body had started pining for him – including some of the staff.
"No one enters this room until every shirt is tucked in," he said as he waited by the door. His tone was so powerful, and his face so alarmingly amused that no one knew what to make of him, but then checked their shirts – including Leshia, who had been instantly caught out by Draco's strange behaviour. Many Slytherins begrudgingly tucked in their shirts, but all the Gryffindors had been presentable already. As soon as the last Slytherin had complied (albeit slowly) he pushed the door open and walked in, leaving it open for the class, who filed in after him. Leshia took a seat half way from the front to the back and noticed the Slytherins were watching her carefully, to see how her father would react to her and whether they would be able to tease her even more. It felt strange to be sat in a classroom with nineteen other children while her father stood at the front writing something on her blackboard. When he was done he stepped back and everyone read the string of Latin that stood there. Everyone furrowed their brows.
"By the end of this term, you should all be able to read this," Draco told them and he leaned casually against his desk. "Those who cannot by this time will undoubtedly fail, so I suggest you get up to speed, or half of what I'll teach you will be pointless, and the other half will probably backfire…" he began, but then the small girl Nicola started laughing. Everyone stared at her in disbelief, but Draco smiled dashingly at her. "Good, I am glad to see at least one of you will pass this year." Leshia felt indescribably jealous and she turned to Leshia with a half ferocious, half questioning frown.
"It's a joke," Nicola whispered.
"Silence," Draco's bellow came and everyone froze in their seats with wide eyes, including Leshia. Draco turned around from the blackboard slowly and this time he looked serious with a dangerous smile. "Silence," he repeated softer this time. "I am the one who speaks, you speak when asked to, understood?" Nicola nodded quickly and Leshia felt bad for getting her in trouble.
"Sorry," she mouthed and Nicola shrugged – she was made of tough stuff.
"Silence also refers to non-verbal forms of communication Miss Malfoy, do not make me repeat myself," Draco said firmly and had to try very hard to suppress his smile when twenty shocked faces turned to stare at him. So he treated his daughter the same as everyone else? Leshia was the most shocked and she was so put out by her father's dismissal of her that she decided to be belligerent the whole lesson long.
"Right," Draco said, regaining control of the class, and noticing that Leshia was the only one not looking at him – she was staring furiously at the ground and the sight made him want to smile even more. "Who can tell me why it is important to learn about the dark arts?" Nineteen hands shot in the air.
"Miss Weasley," Draco said urging her with a wave of his hand.
"Well it's in the name isn't it," Rachel said cheerfully. "So we can recognise when wizards are about to use it and defend against it."
"An excellent answer," Draco said matter-of-factly. "Five points for Gryffindor." Rachel beamed at her friends, but Leshia barely managed a small smile back. "And what do you think I'll be teaching you on this course?" He continued to probe the class with questions, and was quite happy with the calibre of this group. Several Slytherins were haughty and sly, and he punished them more than their Gryffindor counterparts, but at least everyone in the class had answered a question by the end of the lesson. Everyone, except Leshia.
"Miss Malfoy?" Draco suddenly said and Leshia glared at him. "Everyone else has made a contribution to today's lesson, I was wondering if you might have something you would like to add?" Leshia waited for a whole minute in silence.
"No," she finally said in an unreadable tone and then added slightly petulantly, "Professor Malfoy." Draco fought once more to hide his smile; she was so adorable it was getting harder. He'd always been amused by Hermione when she was mad at him, she had been the exact same.
"Very well, maybe next time," he said and moved to the front of the class. "Before we next meet I want everyone to read up on the basic principles of curses and counter curses so as we might start practicing a few on Wednesday." The class grinned at each other. At this point the bell went and Draco was glad to see nobody moved, they had responded to his 'tough cop' regime and he instant respect. "You may go," he said with a wave of his hand and after the sound of scraping chairs had met his ears he watched as the class filed out – none quicker than Leshia, who darted ahead of the group and who's frustrated grumblings could be heard down the corridor. Once the classroom had cleared Draco cracked up and shook his head before going to greet his next class, who would be sufficiently harder to intimidate – a group of seventh years (and yet he would manage, and soon would become one of the most feared and yet one of the most favoured teachers at the school).
"I can't believe he put me down like that in front of everyone just for mouthing something," Leshia grumbled for the umpteenth time as they struggled to find their way to Potions. "It's not like I made a noise! He said silence! I was bloody silent!"
"He's actually doing you a favour," Rachel said bluntly, though she was smiling. Leshia wheeled on her with hot fury in her expression. "Don't look at me like that it's true. He's showing everyone he's not going to give you preferential treatment, that's what you wanted right?" Leshia fumed silently.
"He embarrassed me on the first day!" she finally growled and stalked down the corridor to wait in line with the Ravenclaws. Katie and Rachel shook their heads fondly at each other before following suit. Potions turned out more disastrously than Defence Against the Dark Arts, as Snape seemed to hate Gryffindors and especially Katie and Rachel due to their parents. He accused Leshia of being a know-it-all like her mother when she answered a question to help Nicola who was struggling and once more fell silent and into belligerent mode. She lost her house ten points in that lesson and was glad it was time for break because she couldn't handle it any more. Her friends were having a great day however, and they couldn't stop chatting as they made their way out to the sunny grounds. They'd just sat down when an owl suddenly landed on Leshia's shoulder, it had a note tied to it's leg. Leshia grimly unfolded it and read:
Stop being such a baby, you told me you didn't want me to treat you differently to anyone else so that's what I did. Next time you'd better speak or I'm going to change tack and call you sweetheart while showing everyone the baby photos!
Love dad…oh sorry…I mean
From: Professor Malfoy
P.S. Meet me at my office after dinner, I don't seem to remember packing a pink T-shirt in my trunk, nor some tiny shorts – I tried them on they're definitely not mine – I can only assume Tally's going mad. Unless you want me to wear them on Wednesday, I'd come get them
"He's such an idiot," Leshia complained, but her heart wasn't in it and a smile was pulling at the corner of her mouth.
"Oh please keep quiet next time, I'd love to see those pictures!" Katie laughed.
"Yeah me too!" Rachel piped up. Now Leshia was truly grinning and she pushed them gently. Finally everything was back to normal.
Following break Charms and transfiguration went swimmingly and Leshia (now she was in a better mood) managed (with little effort) to demonstrate that she was her mother's daughter: just as gifted as Hermione had been. Lunch was a loud and merry affair and after a rather hair-razing Care of Magical Creatures lesson and a sleep inducing History of Magic lesson the girls were free to loll about the common room for a while. They quickly found out the pecking order when they were turfed from the cosy seats (though Philly was encouraged to stay) by some fourth years, who in turn were later scared away by some seventh years. In the end they settled by the window in the little window box and tried to make out the end of the lake.
"You won't find it," Luke's voice came and soon he joined their side.
"Yeah, last year a boy tried to swim out and find it, he never came back," Tom chimed in with a shake of his head.
"They're lying, don't believe them," Amy quickly reassured the girls. "How was your first day?" They all shrugged meekly.
"Leshia your dad went nuts in our lesson today, it was so cool!" Sarah suddenly exclaimed appearing at Amy's side.
"What do you mean?" Leshia asked worriedly.
"Well he walked over just as that wretch Cole Ashton was telling his mates how you were half m-word and that he was just waiting for his chance to get you," she said. Leshia raised her eyebrows.
"Really?" she asked sounding amused. "What did my dad do?"
"Demonstrated improper curse evasion on him," Amy replied gleefully.
"Had him dangling by his ankle spinning round the classroom," Sarah added with the same glee. "And when he finally put him down he said something along the lines of, 'talk like that about my daughter again you filthy maggot and it won't be your ankle I swing you round the room with'." Leshia's jaw dropped.
"He never!" she gasped. The girls cracked up.
"No, he didn't mention you, but that was the gist of it," Amy replied. Leshia sighed with relief and then grinned, maybe it wasn't all that bad having one of the most feared and respected teachers at the school fighting your battles for you, just as long as he didn't make a habit out of it.
"Come on, let's go for dinner," Tom said, who had been hovering nearby and together they all went down to the great hall and tucked in. Dinner was delicious and soon an over-stuffed Leshia was hobbling on her way to her dad's office, which was next to his classroom. She hesitated and after a few moments decided to knock, instead of bursting in.
"Come in," Draco's genial voice came and Leshia pushed the door open to find he wasn't alone. Snape was with him and they were having a drink, obviously reliving old times. Leshia went slightly white-faced seeing Snape and nearly glared at him.
"Leshia," Draco cheered genuinely. "What are you doing knocking, you don't have to knock!" Leshia shrugged and ambled over to them, walking round the side of the desk and leaning against her father still staring at the Potions Master.
"I got your note," she finally said when no one spoke and she looked at her father.
"Really? What did it say, I got some of my seventh years to write it," he said with all seriousness. Leshia grinned at him despite Snape's presence.
"Liar," she laughed. Draco shrugged and reached into a drawer retrieving some clothes that had obviously not belonged in his trunk. He indicated the small shorts on top of the pile.
"Now the less said on these the better," he said almost seriously. "Because if I see you wearing them in PE I shall have you locked in your dormitory and I won't let Minerva let you out for a month." Leshia felt her cheeks flush red with Snape's presence.
"They're not for PE," she grumbled and took the clothes hastily, before glancing to Snape who didn't show any inclination towards moving any time soon. She felt stung by this, she had wanted to catch up with Draco and tell him everything, but Snape made this difficult. "I'd better get to bed," she said softly and looked back to Draco. She saw his left eyebrow dip for a split second in concern, but then he smiled gently.
"Goodnight little one," he said softly and squeezed her neck comfortingly before she nodded to Snape.
"Goodnight Professor," she said coldly before rushing to the door. Once there she turned and saw both men watching her, so she quickly left and shut the door. She didn't stop hurrying until she reached her dormitory where she dumped her clothes in her open trunk and changed.
"You seem rattled," a sleepy Katie observed over an open copy of some quidditch book. Leshia shrugged.
"I don't like Snape," she said and she dropped down between her friends on Rachel's bed and pulled Philly towards her.
"Well who doesn't? But what's he got to do with rattles?" Rachel asked sleepily and she just about managed to open one eye as she asked.
"He was down there talking to dad," Leshia replied and she told her friends all about it.
"He's just being creepy," Katie said wisely. "Hey look, they're a new racing broom coming out in the Flash series!" This captured the other two's imagination and they soon were enveloped in quidditch stories. An hour later when everyone was sleepy once more everyone in the room screamed. The reason for their scream had been the flash of light and the loud crack and soon afterwards Tally appeared.
"Tally," Leshia panted. "My dad's houself," she told the others quickly. "What are you doing here?" she demanded wheeling on the now smartly dressed Tally.
"Tally's been sent by master to deliver Miss Malfoy something," Tally explained. Leshia looked Tally wearily up and down.
"Well what is it? I don't see anything," she said looking worried that the househelf was going mad. Suddenly Tally lunged at her and gave her a big kiss on the cheek. "Tally!" Leshia cried and wiped her cheek as her friends reeled with laughter.
"Tally has fulfilled her task," the househelf said formally before stepping back and disappearing again. Leshia blushed crimson and yet felt a little pleased, before she climbed into bed, Philly falling about her sleepily.
"Your dad is so sweet," Katie repeated herself and she rolled over too.
"Night guys," Leshia whispered and she fell asleep dreaming of quidditch glory.
The next morning Rachel repeated her worse-than-an-alarm-clock regime and this time earned herself a good pillow bashing from her friends. They all changed and flocked down to the great hall where they fell upon the food.
"I dreamt I heard a werewolf last night," Katie shuddered grimly. The other two looked up intrigued.
"Was a full moon," Leshia said helpfully.
"Yeah and the forbidden forest has got some pretty eerie occupants my dad says," Rachel added.
"Oh don't, you'll give me nightmares," Katie complained and she shuddered.
"What have we got first?" Leshia asked as she stretched lazily.
"Potions would you believe," Nicola replied from across the table. Leshia sighed heavily.
"Just what we all needed," she grumbled.
"Oh shut up, you'll ace potions now you're on form, we're still terminally hopeless," Rachel countered. Katie made a mock-insulted tone.
"Speak for yourself," she laughed.
"There's nothing fun about slaving away for a stone, it won't appreciate it anyhow," Leshia said philosophically. The other two smirked and then finally burst into sniggers.
"I think we should get a houself to kiss Leshia more often, look how funny she gets," Katie laughed.
"You kissed a houself?" Rodeo's gleeful tone came and Leshia spun around and play-glared at him.
"No, the houself kissed me stupid," she laughed and everyone suddenly turned to see the post arriving. Leshia wasn't holding out for much, because with Draco at school and her grandparent's dead, there wasn't anyone who would write to her, but to her utmost surprise a white owl landed at her plate with a letter attached. She took the letter and stared at it in confusion.
"Well aren't you going to open it?" Katie asked sounding amused.
"Love letter from Tally maybe?" Rachel added. Leshia grinned and flicked a pea at the latter, before turning over the letter and tearing it open. With a piece of toast in one hand and the letter in the other, she started to read:
I don't know what made me do it, but this morning I suddenly had the urge to write to you though I don't know why. I don't know you and you don't know me, and yet your name and Hogwarts keep setting off alarm bells so I thought I'd try. My name is also Leshia and I live in South America… I'm not sure what else to tell you… except that… somehow I know we have met before. If I could find out more about you, it would help. Perhaps you could tell me something about where you grew up.
It would help more than you know.
I have no recollection of where I grew up or where I'm from. I suffered severe amnesia… and yesterday this memory came to me. 'Leshia must be at Hogwarts'…I don't know what it means.
I'm sorry if I have frightened you.
Yours sincerely, Leshia Westcoast
"Who's Leshia Westcoast?" Rachel asked simply as she glanced at the letter. Leshia shrugged.
"Read it, it'll explain," she said and she watched as her friends poured over the letter. They both frowned in unison.
"Weird," they finally concluded. Leshia chewed on her toast a little too much and suddenly began to choke as it trickled down her windpipe. Everyone in the vicinity stared as she loudly spluttered and downed some water. As a moth to a flame, Draco was by her side. By now people weren't watching, so she didn't feel ashamed.
"Okay, I was pretty sure I taught you how to chew," he said with a grin and patted her back firmly.
"Dad I'm fine," Leshia spluttered and she rubbed her back. "There's no need to knock the stuffing out of me."
"Sorry," Draco chuckled. "So what was it, the thrill of Snape's potions lessons too much for you?" Leshia scowled at him.
"You may have loved potions dad, but I certainly do not!" she said snootily.
"It was this letter," Katie said, still holding it in her hand. Leshia gave her an urgent look and quickly snatched it back.
"A letter?" Draco asked sounding intrigued.
"From a boy, it's private," Leshia said quickly, as her eyes landed on Rodeo coming towards them – or rather his friends beside them. Draco's brow raised fractionally.
"A boy?" he repeated slowly.
"Dad you should know what a boy is, you were one once," Leshia said with a grin. Draco shook himself out of his thoughts and inhaled.
"Right, well I'd better go to, uh, papers to mark and such," he said and he wandered away rubbing the back of his head agitatedly.
"Sorry Leesh," Katie quickly squealed looking thoroughly ashamed. Leshia grinned.
"It's okay, I just don't think he'd take it so well and there's…" she trailed off unable to find the right words.
"Something interesting about her?" Rachel suggested. Leshia nodded slowly.
"But it's more than that, I can't explain it." And she certainly tried, all the way through Potions and through Charms, break, all the way up to lunch. When she gave up and sat down to formulate a reply.
Dear Ms Westcoast ("What the heck is a Ms anyway?" Leshia had demanded when Katie had forbidden her from writing Miss),
This is Leshia (" Well why shouldn't I put my surname she knows who I am!") Malfoy, you were right in guessing I'm at Hogwarts, I'm in my first year. We just started two days ago.
I grew up in London. My mum disappeared when I was six. I uh (" You can't write uh in a latter Leesh." " Well tough I'm keeping it in!") love brooms, quidditch, books and I want to be an auror when I grow up. My dad used to be one, but now he teaches her at Hogwarts.
(" Say what you look like it might help!") I'm ("Tall," Leshia had wanted to write. " Liar!") very short, skinny (" More scrawny I'd say." " Rachel!") and I have blonde hair. My dad says I look like my mum, but I say I look more like him. I would include a picture but that's just too weird.
Right, if you have better questions to ask then send them over.
Hope this helps.
"Well it's okay I guess," Katie said feeling a little miffed. Leshia had accepted none of her best proposals.
"It'll do," Leshia said and tucked the letter into her bag. "I'll write it out properly later."
"Come on, let's go outside, Rodeo's showing everyone what a football is," Rachel told the others.
"Ooh, do you think it's dangerous?" Katie asked eagerly as they hurried out. Needless to say they weren't impressed by the football and their disappointment lasted all for the rest of the day as during muggle studies they were bored by even more muggle inventions. Finally they were free and they ambled up to their common room to do an essay they had to write for Snape. They huddled over a shared copy of Beginners Potions and soon were entrenched in their essay. By dinner they'd hardly made any headway and they felt glum. Dinner cheered them up a little as Tom and Luke gave a running commentary of Amy eating. It made her so mad she threw a goblet straight at Tom, who transfigured it hastily before it hit him and turned it into a half rat half dove that made an awful racket. As dinner was drawing to a close Leshia felt something poke her leg. She looked under the table to see Tally grinning at her. Fearing more kisses Leshia pulled backwards and nearly toppled off the bench, but Tally, luckily, was only delivering a note this time. Leshia snatched it quickly and glanced at it:
I haven't got any visitors this evening if you feel like a chat,
"I'll see you guys up in the common room," she told her friends and got to her feet following a crowd of fourth years out. She quickly changed directions and headed over to her dad's study. This time she didn't bother knocking and walked in to find him relaxed on the sofa by the fire with a glass of wine in his hand and a pupil's essay in his other.
"Have you been setting work already?" Leshia asked as she dropped down beside him and leaned against him.
"Got to find some way of intimidating the seventh years haven't I?" Draco said cheerily and wrapped his arm around his daughter. "How are you getting with the homework I set you? I wasn't kidding, jinxes and curses tomorrow," he added in the same tone, as though setting children work and sending jinxes flying at his daughter were worthy of the same mirth. "So little one, tell me everything." Leshia beamed at him and told him all about the dormitory, the lessons, the teachers, her housemates, until she was running out of things to say and was slumped back on the sofa leaning her head on her father's arm, which was slung casually across the back of the sofa. His wine had been drunk, and his glass refilled twice since.
"And then we told Rodeo where he could go stuff his football, and he thought we were serious, but we were laughing, so he laughed too, but I don't think he got it and yeah…that's pretty much everything until I walked in this room," she said and let out a content sigh.
"They're not pushing you hard enough," Draco said happily. "You shouldn't have time for muggle games. Want me to have a word with your teachers?" Leshia laughed out loud, recognising the joke for what it was.
"No!" she exclaimed happily. "And we have been working, on Snape's awful essay," she added grimly. "Oh yeah dad," she said sitting up.
"Hmm?" Draco murmured looking at the time and seeing that it was past the pupil's curfew.
"No more sending Tally with bedtime kisses, that was gross," Leshia said with a small smirk. Draco grinned.
"Okay well next time I'll come and deliver it personally at dinner when everyone's watching," he said mock-seriously. Leshia grinned trying to weigh up the pros and cons of each scenario. They seemed equally embarrassing. "Well how about now, may I kiss you goodnight?" he asked. Leshia grinned and nodded.
"Okay," she said and felt him kiss her forehead.
"I think I'd better walk you back," he said looking at the time again. Leshia followed his gaze and her eyes went wide. "Come on," he said and he held out his hand. She took it and they walked through the corridors until they reached the fat lady.
"Goodnight dad," Leshia said happily and she threw her arms around his neck (a tall order for one so tiny) and hugged him firmly.
"Night little one," he said softly and Leshia turned to the portrait.
"Gooseberry," she said firmly. The fat lady smiled sleepily and opened allowing Leshia access to the Gryffindor common room. Leshia turned to see Draco was walking away and she rushed inside and up to her dormitory where everyone was still up and reading in bed.
"Get everything off your chest?" Katie asked good-naturedly. Leshia nodded as she changed.
"No more Tally kisses," she said cheerfully as she climbed in bed. Moments later a tiny silver striped object landed on the bed, and trotted up towards her. By the time Philly reached the crook of her arm she was asleep.
The following day Leshia just barely avoided Rachel's morning attack when she heard Katie and Rachel play wrestling. Rachel had evidently woken her cousin, who didn't feel too glad about it. Leshia quickly snuck out the other end of her bed and started changing behind the cover of the four-poster. Rachel, unaware of Leshia's escape came charging into the bed, but was very disappointed to find it empty.
"Leesh!" Rachel laughed and poked her head out the other side. "Spoil my fun," she added.
"Well it's about time you learned that we're not going to put up with that for the next seven years," she said cheerfully and started to do her hair up.
"I hope this essay's good enough," Katie's voice came from the other end of the dormitory.
"But just think, after today, no more potions!" Leshia cheered.
"Well yeah," Ashley countered with a tired smile as she appeared from her bed. "Until Monday."
"Who cares?" Leshia said jubilantly. "That's four days away from Snape."
"Just imagine the homework he's going to set us," Rachel said with a grumble and she headed towards the door fully dressed. Leshia and Katie quickly followed with their schoolbags. They continued to complain about the potions master all the way down to breakfast. As they reached the entrance hall though a cluster of children caught their eye. They were standing by the notice boards pouring over a notice saying 'quidditch tryouts'. The girls glanced at it seeing they would take place in two Sundays' time.
"I don't think I'm going to bother," Rachel said as they walked through and sat down at their usual spots.
"Why? You're one of the best beaters I've seen," Leshia said frowning.
"Yeah but Luke and Tom are the beaters aren't they?" Katie said.
"Yeah and Sarah's a chaser," Rachel added.
"The only position they haven't filled is seeker," Katie finished. Leshia shirked her mouth to the side and furrowed her brow.
"Good point, well then none of us can tryout," she said and started buttering some toast.
"You can, you play seeker really well!" Rachel said slightly petulantly. Leshia smiled and shook her head.
"I'm not nearly good enough," she said cheerfully. "But I may as well tryout I guess, nothing to loose after all. Hey Katie?"
"Why did you never try seeker, both your parents are amazing seekers?" Leshia asked. Katie shrugged.
"Too boring, I like being there in the thick of it," she said happily. Leshia shrugged with a smile.
"Fair enough." Her sentence was barely audible as suddenly the post owls flocked in to the great hall delivering parcels and letters. Seeing this reminded Leshia of the letter she was yet to post, and quickly on a whim she grabbed her neat copy and hailed the nearest owl. It landed obediently and she tied the letter to its leg.
"Can you bring this to Leshia Westcoast, she lives in South America," she said. The owl hooted several times and took a drink from Leshia's goblet, before flapping off again.
"What did you guys get?" she asked her friends, who were both reading letters, and clutching at sweets.
"Letter from dad, he's in Japan," Katie replied and she indicated the strange sweets. "He said if you take one of these your skin starts to change colour and wont stop until you take a bath!" Leshia and Rachel chortled and seriously considered taking one.
"My mum's just being mum," Rachel said and she showed them the stack of wizarding fashion and society magazines Lavender had sent. Leshia frowned momentarily when she saw the front page of the society magazine.
News from abroad with our correspondent Rina Millard
Rina takes on the Americas
"Mind if I look?" she asked Rachel, who looked like she didn't mind in the slightest. So Leshia took the magazine and poured over this Rina Millard's column. She was about to give up when her eye caught the caption of one of the moving pictures.
The Americas institute on the west coast of Mexico… headed by esteemed witch Leshia Westcoast…
"Look!" Leshia gasped and she showed her friends the caption.
"Is there no picture of her?" Katie asked curiously. Leshia shook her head and frowned.
"Weird," she muttered and got to her feet with the rest of the hall as the bell went. The girls headed out to the greenhouses where they would be having their first herbology lesson and couldn't help but wonder at this mysterious powerful witch. Herbology went by quickly as they were just learning the basics and then it was off to Defence Against the Dark Arts. They waited outside and quickly made sure their shirts were tucked in.
"I want to try the jelly legs jinx on Merta Zabini," Rachel said glaring at a Slytherin girl who had pushed her over the day before. As she said this the door opened quite suddenly and Nicola and Ashley who had been waiting at the front of the queue darted back. Draco appeared looking as dangerously confusing as ever and he stepped back dramatically allowing the children entrance. As they filed in they were surprised and excited to see the tables and chairs had been pushed back and a ring of soft mats had been laid out.
"Books away everyone, get your wands out," Draco called to the class as he closed the door after the last of the children. They quickly obliged and soon stood in a ring round the mats. "Right now would everyone get into pairs." Leshia and her friends looked at each other worriedly. How were they going to split into pairs.
"I'll go with you Leshia if that helps?" Rodeo suggested. Leshia smiled and nodded.
"Thanks," she said and she smiled at her friends before moving to stand beside Rodeo. Draco, as he scanned over the pairs nearly did a double take when he saw Leshia standing beside the good-looking young man. He quickly moved on and seeing everyone had managed that task he moved to stand on the edge of the ring between some Slytherins.
"Okay everyone lift their wands," Draco instructed and he lifted his own wand in demonstration. "To start with, I'm going to let you all practice jinxing me," he said. "You can all start with whatever jinx you like." The Slytherins looked at each other gleefully. " Right this is the proper stance…" He continued to explain the physical stance and the mental frame of mind and then moved to the centre of the ring. He motioned for Ashley to come forward. "Why don't you start us off Miss Reed?" She nervously stepped forward into the ring and assumed the correct stance and everyone watched interestedly as she pointed her wand at Draco and called out,
"Engorgio," she said quite firmly, but nothing happened. Draco smiled.
"Better luck next time," he said and he indicated the next child come forward. One by one they tried unsuccessfully to cast a spell. At one point in seemed a good looking Slytherin boy, one Julius Black, had succeeded because Draco started rolling on the ground shaking, but then he started laughing and he got to his feet saying, "I'm only kidding, nice try though." Something that had everybody laughing. Finally it was Leshia's go and she stepped forward a little anxiously.
"Okay Miss Malfoy, give it your best shot," Draco said with a charming smile.
"Rictusempra," his daughter said with a flick of her wrist. In an instant Draco countered.
"Protego," he said quickly and the charm bounced off. Everyone stared at Leshia impressed – even the Slytherins couldn't help themselves.
"Very good," Draco said and he couldn't help but sound proud. "Five points for Gryffindor." Leshia quickly retook her place in the ring and felt a rush of glee. No one else succeeded. Once everyone had gone again Draco looked around the class.
"Right, now I hope you've seen how hard it is to cast a successful spell," he said and he sat down on the mat cross-legged. The children quickly followed suit. "It's too early for me to start asking so much of you. Professor Flitwick will probably be most displeased with me, it will be he who teaches you the very basics of wand magic. Tomorrow we start work on Werewolves and Vampires, the very basic components of the dark arts. Following that we will look into Dementors, briefly cover Lord Voldemort and we will finish with Inferi. These topics will all be revisited later in your Hogwarts careers, so for now we will not go into too much detail. For the rest of today's lesson you can get in your pairs and try to paralyse the other. The only incantation I had better be hearing is petrificus totalis, or there will be immediate detention. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes Professor Malfoy," everyone, including Leshia, chorused.
"Good, well of you go," he said. "Make sure you're an arms reach from your neighbours." The kids quickly rushed to separate up. "Good luck Mr Holsson, I think you will need it," Draco said softly to Rodeo as he paired up with Leshia once more. Soon the room was filled with lots of wand waving and incantations. Every now and then Rodeo would fall to the ground and Draco would amble over and revive him. Rodeo started falling over so regularly that Draco taught the spell to his daughter and now she was reviving him. By the tenth time Draco walked over again.
"Maybe you should give him a break, I'm not sure it's entirely healthy to be binded so frequently," he said and he looked to see Katie and Rachel were still struggling. "Why don't you swap partners?" Katie and Rachel looked up anxiously. "So what's it going to be girls? Which one of you wants to go with Miss Malfoy?" In the end Rachel gave a great big sigh and stepped forward.
"I will," she said and play-glowered at her friend. Leshia then continued to bind Rachel every now and then, but finally at the end of the lesson Rachel got her own back, when by pure chance she got it right and Leshia fell to the ground.
"I did it!" Rachel cheered and she bent over Leshia. "Ha ha, revenge Malfoy!" Inside Leshia was laughing, but she still had the slightly shocked expression on her face. Draco quickly made his way over and released Leshia who quickly darted to her feet.
"Nice one Rach!" she cheered and clapped her friend on the back.
"All right I think that'll do," Draco called to the class and they quickly stopped and sat down again. "Tomorrow I would like you to read the first chapter in your text books on werewolves," he explained. "There will be a short quiz at the beginning of the lesson to see how much you understand." The children groaned, but Draco had to merely raise his eyebrows and they fell silent. "I happen to know a werewolf, so later in the term he has consented to come and give a speech."
"I bet that'll be Lupin," Rachel whispered.
"Miss Weasley," Draco suddenly barked and Rachel winced, forgetting the silence rule. "Five points from Gryffindor." At this the bell went and everyone stayed seated. " Don't forget to do your reading," Draco reminded them. "Off you go." The girls quickly got to their feet and collected their bags as they filed out last. Leshia turned around at the door to catch Draco's eye, but her was using his wand to restore the classroom.
"Five points is a little harsh for one whisper," Rachel grumbled a little.
"Hey, at least he didn't tell you off when you weren't even making a sound," Leshia countered fondly.
"That lesson was by the far the best one so far!" Katie exclaimed happily as they headed towards the grounds for break. Break went by too quickly as everyone was fearing going to potions, but soon they found themselves sat in the potions dungeon, their essay scrolls flying across the room into Snape's outstretched hand. He tut tutted at the top essay (Katie's).
"Little meagre isn't it Miss Potter?" he sneered. Katie went bright red. It was not meagre, she had gone several inches over the minimum required amount. She remained quiet though, but she and her friends felt very riled up. First chance they got they escaped their lesson and hurried on to muggle studies where the Slytherins were waiting.
"So Malfoy," the unpleasant boy that had glared at Leshia in Diagon Alley spoke as he stepped forward. Damian Allseyer was the new ringleader of the Slytherin unpleasant bunch and he was living it up. " How long had you and daddy been practising that little display in class?" Leshia glared at him.
"Just because you have the competence of a squib doesn't mean the rest of us are useless," she sneered back.
"I'd watch my words if I were you blood-traitor," Allseyer snapped. "A quarter of this school is gunning for your blood to be spilled, it isn't too long before somebody gets to you! And there's nothing daddy can do about it."
"So you think you're more powerful than Voldemort do you? Because last I checked my dad destroyed him, so I don't think you'd pose any threat to him death-eater…"
"That is enough!" Professor Tinreed's voice came and an angry face appeared round the corner of the door. "Miss Malfoy, you do not accuse anyone of such things! Detention. Be at my office at five-o clock!" Leshia raised her eyebrows in defence.
"Do not make it worse! Right, everybody in," the rattled professor said and the children rushed to their seats. Leshia didn't speak all the way through the lesson, even when she was asked a direct question on cars. She knew the answer, it was obvious, but she was angry with the injustice of it all. Her petulance doubled her detention and she couldn't have been happier to get out of that lesson. She remained deathly quiet all the way to the great hall and only spoke when they sat down.
"He is not going to get away with this," she finally said in a steely tone. "That boy…what's his name?"
"I think its Damian, Damian Allseyer," Katie replied.
"Right. Well, Damian Allseyer is not going to get away with this!"
"Leesh," Rachel said uneasily. "I know it isn't fair that you got punished and he didn't, but don't do anything stupid."
"I'm not," Leshia complained. "I just have to think of a plan, that's all." The remainder of the day went by much more easily and they had a very fun Care of Magical creatures lesson with Hagrid in which he let them stroke a unicorn. After lessons they trudged up to the common room and started work on reading for Draco's lesson the next day, and soon five rolled by.
"I'll see you guys at dinner," Leshia said with a sigh and she headed off. On her way to Professor Tinreed's office she ran into Draco who was walking with Snape.
"I'll catch up with you," Draco told Snape who walked on. "In trouble already?"
"It wasn't my fault," Leshia grumbled. "Not really anyway. That pig Allseyer started it!"
"Yes well you were stupid enough to get caught Leesh, so you had it coming," Draco said sounding amused. "You should watch who you call names around here. We're still in uncertain times, and you don't need to draw attention to yourself, especially when twenty-five percent of the school population would like to see something nasty happen to you." He sounded concerned and Leshia felt rotten.
"I know, but he was insulting you," she grumbled.
"Was he now?" Draco asked sounding intrigued.
"Dad don't say anything," Leshia suddenly implored. Draco grinned darkly.
"No I won't say anything," he said and he started to walk off. "Have fun at detention sweetheart."
"Dad," Leshia hissed, but he was walking away properly now. Thoroughly fearing what he was going to do she headed on until she reached the office where Professor Tinreed was waiting with a pile of Muggle Newspapers that needed sorting into piles and then into chronological order. Tinreed went about her own work and wasn't paying attention to Leshia. It was a boring task, but then everything took a more interesting change.
"Woman found washed up on beach," she murmured aloud as she read and amazingly for the second time that day her eyes scanned over the name Leshia Westcoast. The newspaper was an American one based in California. Without hesitation Leshia stuffed the newspaper down her jumper and continued to sort with a burning sensation in her mind: curiosity. The rest of her punishment went by so slowly that seven seemed to positively crawl by. Finally she was free to go and she rushed off to join her friends in the great hall.
"Hi," they greeted her cheerfully, but she already had the yellowed newspaper out and was scanning the page for the article.
"Nice to see you too," Rachel said cheerfully, but then her eyes caught the same thing Leshia's had and she frowned. "What does it say? Read it aloud!" Leshia looked up impatiently, but did as she was told.
"Yesterday, in the early hours of the morning native Californian Tom Wilkers, aged thirty-five, found a woman washed up on the beach. She was unconscious and dressed in strange thick robes. Wilkers brought her straight to the emergency room where her injuries were treated and where she was revived. The only word the woman could utter was 'Leshia', which she kept repeating for over an hour. Her strange mantra earned her the name Leshia Westcoast – in honour of where she was found – as she cannot remember anything of her life prior to her rescue. She is now recovering in hospital. We cannot release picture, because of the strange injuries she sustained, the police believe her to be a victim of attempted murder, and it would be dangerous to release such information." Leshia finished and frowned, before looking at the date at the top of the newspaper. It was too withered to see (she had come across many as these while sorting).
"When's it from do you think?" Katie asked with a strange icy feeling in her gut.
"Date's rubbed out, it's not clear!" Leshia said sounding frustrated and she looked at the other things on the newspaper. They were all muggle news and useless for trying to place the date of this newspaper. Leshia sighed heavily and dropped the newspaper to the floor.
"Leesh," Katie said slowly. Leshia nodded as she served herself. "I don't…" Katie trailed off and she sounded forlorn. Leshia looked up curiously, Katie sounded very upset.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Well…don't you think it's a little coincidental?" Katie asked delicately.
"What do you mean?"
"Well…I know we don't know how old this paper is and everything, but… well your mum goes missing in America and now there's this witch who's got amnesia and only remembers your name. She then remembers you're here and then writes to you…isn't that strange?" Leshia went very pale and she inhaled slowly. The thought had never occurred to her, but now Katie did mention it, it was very coincidental.
"And your family certainly had enemies," Rachel suddenly said. Leshia's eyes went even wider and she looked back at the article.
"You think?" she gasped. "My mum?" The other two stayed silent, aware of what a powerful moment this must be for their friend. Finally a small smile pulled at her mouth. "You know what, I bet it is!" she suddenly seemed possessed with energy. "We have to find out!" With one last gleeful smile at her friends Leshia looked up to the main table where her father was enjoying a conversation with Professor Larkin, the rather attractive Runes teacher. Leshia could see he wasn't interested in her, but she was practically drooling over him. "We can't tell my dad, not until we're sure."
Over the following days, Leshia watched post owls religiously, waiting for any sign of Leshia's return letter. She considered writing another one, but she was certain this other Leshia would be sending her another. Saturday rolled by quick enough and the girls were happy to be able to relax and enjoy the withering summer days before autumn fell. Rachel let her friends sleep in and at around ten they managed to crawl from bed and change into their own clothes.
"We've got that Snape essay to write," Katie reminded the other two as they wandered down to breakfast.
"Yeah and that essay your dad set us," Rachel added.
"Not to mention all that reading for transfiguration," Leshia finished and they sighed heavily as they took their seats. They ate in a comfortable silence until the post owls flocked around them. Leshia looked up hopefully, but there was nothing for her, so she returned to her breakfast with the typical feeling of disappointment. Both Rachel and Katie had parcels of sweets and letters from home and Leshia couldn't help but feel a little stab of jealousy. After breakfast they headed out to the grounds and splayed out on the warm grass.
"Well well well, if it isn't the little blood-traitors," Cole Ashton's cruel voice came and the girls quickly leapt to their feet.
"What do you want Ashton?" Leshia demanded.
"I want to see you dead!" Ashton sneered. "Or even better, suffering under the cruciatus curse for the rest of your life."
"Well it's not going to happen, so you may as well just get lost," Rachel snapped.
"I'll come to you in a moment Weasley!" Ashton hissed.
"Somebody really should teach you some manners Ashton," a male voice came from behind the girls and they spun around to find all the Weasleys and several of their friends had joined them, by far outweighing the Slytherins. In the distance the on duty teachers were making their way over in case a fight should break out.
"You'd better watch yourself Malfoy," Ashton sneered. "Your big redhead friends won't always be around to protect you!" With that the Slytherins sloped off down the lakeshore.
"Are you lot all right?" Tom asked looking rattled.
"Thanks to you guys," Katie said gratefully.
"Yeah thanks," Leshia said softly. "I really hate those Slytherins." The group fell silent as Professors Flitwick and Sprout walked past them.
"Everything all right?" Sprout asked curiously.
"Yes Professor," the group chorused and they headed away from the lake.
"Come on, let's go and do our homework where the Slytherins can't find us," Katie said and the trio separated from the others.
"What, the library?" Rachel asked cheerily. The other two laughed and continued to mock the intellectual abilities of the Slytherins until they reached their common room. Most people were outside, so the girls quickly commandeered the comfy chairs and spread out their work.
As much as Leshia tried though, she couldn't get her mind to focus on the correct way to focus your mind for transfiguration and she ended up staring into the empty hearth. After a ten-minute daydream involving her mother's miraculous rescue Leshia was knocked back to her senses by a blow to the head.
"Ouch!" she exclaimed in pain and held her hand up to her throbbing head.
"Didn't you hear me yell heads?" a sixth year boy's voice came. "Oh crap I'm sorry, you're bleeding. You'd better get to the hospital wing, here I'll show you!" Leshia climbed gingerly to her feet and then swayed, her eyes clouding over dangerously. She would have fallen into the hearth had the boy who'd assaulted her in the first place not been there to catch her.
"Easy," he said and he lifted her easily from her feet. "You two coming?" he asked her friends and they were on their feet in seconds. The boy carried Leshia easily all the way to the hospital wing where Madam Pomfry was seeing to a boy covered in boils.
"Exploding chess accident," the boy told her sheepishly.
"Oh dear, well lie her down," she said and the boy lowered Leshia onto the bed. Leshia opened her cloudy eyes and winced at the pain in her throbbing head.
"Sorry about that," he said. "Name's Ryan Lofting, if there's anything I can do…"
"No I'm fine," Leshia croaked and she sat up. Ryan looked like he was fighting a battle, to stay and look after the little first year he'd injured (and a teacher's daughter at that!), or to go and finish his exciting and very competitive game with his friend. Leshia saw. " Thanks for bringing me, you should probably get out of her way," she said nodding to Madam Pomfry who was bustling over. Ryan grinned.
"Fair enough," he said and nodded to her. "Take care." With that he headed out feeling sufficiently guilty. Madam Pomfry pointed her wand at the wound and moments later Leshia felt a tingling sensation and the wound was gone. She was then examined for concussion and allowed to go.
" You'll be fine," Madam Pomfry said cheerfully, but then rushed off again as the boy with the boils had just made a large pop and was now covered in feathers. The girls contained their laughter as they rushed out and headed back to their common room. On their way though they were sidetracked by Professor McGonagall who looked at the blood on Leshia's T-shirt.
"What happened to you?" she asked sounding partly firm and also concerned at the same time.
"Little common room accident, Madam Pomfry fixed me right up," Leshia replied cheerfully. McGonagall smiled and nodded.
"Well be more careful the next time," she said and carried on her way down the corridor. Within no time the girls had returned to their common room and after receiving a round of applause from the sixth years Leshia escaped to change with bright red cheeks. Ten minutes later she was back doing her homework, only this time she stayed sat on the ground away from any exploding chess pieces. Concentrating was easier now and by lunchtime they'd finished at least one of their essays.
"I think I aced that one," Rachel was saying as they sat down.
"It was definitely easier than the one dad set," Leshia said as she reached out for the bread rolls. They were happily talking about Lupin and the time they'd seen him transform when Draco appeared behind them.
"You okay?" he asked, his wizened eyes taking in the faint pink line that was all that remained from Leshia's encounter with the chess piece. Leshia smiled and nodded.
"Never better," she said cheerfully. Draco nodded once and walked off, back on his patrolling rounds. From up the table Ryan winked to Leshia, she had evidently not 'told on him' and he respected that. She grinned and turned back to her friends.
"He's the Quidditch captain isn't he?" she asked the other two.
"Yep, looks like you might stand a chance after all, he likes you," Katie said. Leshia frowned.
"He told his friends that you were cool for a first year and nothing like he expected," Rachel enlightened her. Leshia grinned.
"Still doesn't mean anything," she said. "I mean just because he thinks I'm okay that doesn't mean he's going to ignore that everyone will be better than me."
"It would be so cool if you could play for them," Katie said.
"Only problem is I'd have to use a school broom," Leshia said with a sigh. "And they're crap my dad says." They finished lunch on a high note, discussing the new racing broom that was coming out and soon were making their way back to their common room to finish their homework.
The next day wasn't much different, except the girls got more time to relax as they had finished their homework. They soon discovered why Peeves was so hated after he dive bombed them with water balloons, and then up the corridor discovered why most people wanted to lynch Mrs Norris and her nutcase master Filch, when he punished them and set them scrubbing the corridors they had drenched on their way back to the common room to change. By evening they were most unimpressed and went to bed grumbling about poltergeists and squibs.
The next day they changed and made their way down to breakfast feeling a little groggy, but this atmosphere was soon to change with the arrival of the post owls. Leshia wasn't expecting anything. Having spent all weekend working out how long it would take an owl to get to Mexico and back, she'd rather given up hoping she'd get a letter any time soon. So it came as rather a surprise when an owl dropped down in front of her. She quickly undid the letter and read, while Katie and Rachel peered over her shoulder.
I'm sorry to hear about your mother, that must have been very hard to deal with, what was her name? I've been getting more and more memories lately, words keep resurfacing, faces and places… I think I'm getting my memory back and you're certainly helping. I think I must have known you and your father a long time ago, because I certainly remember the name Draco Malfoy, though I don't know why it instils fear and resentment in me.
I understand it is hard to spontaneously tell someone about your life. So I have formulated a few questions. When is your birthday? How old is your father? Did he too go to Hogwarts? Does he remember anyone to have gone missing in the last ten years? More to the point do you? It may sound strange…but do you remember the words 'All those fears will come to rest when all else flees to Neversted'. I don't know why, but I wake and dream with these words flying round my head. I can't shake them off.
You have been more helpful than you know Leshia. Thank you so very much.
Kind regards Leshia
Leshia stared at the paper, breathing so loudly that people were turning and staring. Her knuckles had gone white from gripping the page so hard and she looked white as a ghost.
"Leesh?" Katie asked worriedly and she shook Leshia's shoulder.
"Leshia are you okay?" Rachel chimed in. For a few more moments Leshia was transfixed by the letter, until she suddenly blinked and a tear fell from her eye.
"It's my mum," she whispered.
"What?" both Katie and Rachel gasped.
"How can you tell?" Leshia pointed to the sentence where the writer had written the rhyme.
"It's a poem she made up when I was a baby. She used to tell it to me every single night, I remember it so clearly," she managed and brushed angrily at her tears, ashamed to have let them fall. "It really is my mum!" The girls exchanged an amazed look and yet none of them managed to smile, the shock was so great. They had not expected it to really turn out to be Hermione. It had been wishful thinking at most, but now…
" Come on, we're going to be late!" Rachel said noticing most of the other students had left. The trio rushed through the corridors and when they rounded the Defence Against the Dark Arts corridor they found it empty.
"Damn!" they cursed in unison and rushed to the door, bursting in to find everyone was seated and Draco was writing something on the board about Werewolves.
"Fifteen points from Gryffindor," he said without turning around. "Essays on my desk please." The girls scrambled to unpack their parchments and quickly dropped them on the pile before taking their seats. Finally Draco turned around and for a moment his eyebrow dipped once more in suspicious concern; Leshia was looking as white as a ghost. Something had evidently shaken her. She alone avoided his eyes, her gaze instead drifting past him into some daydream only she could see. Throughout the whole lesson she was uncharacteristically quiet. There was no belligerence or anger in her face, she just continued to look shocked to bits. About half way through the lesson she started frantically scribbling something down on a piece of parchment.
"Miss Malfoy would you please stop that and pay attention?" Draco admonished her. Leshia however, did not heed him and continued to write as though possessed. "Miss Malfoy! Stop that!" Only now did Leshia look up and her face looked shadowy and possessed. " What are you writing? Bring it here?" She shook her head and clutched the parchment close to her chest. Katie and Rachel looked to her with scared expressions. "You will bring it here or you can get out and you will have detention all day on Saturday." Leshia took her choice immediately and instantly climbed to her feet, her chair scraping against the ground the only sound breaking the surprised silence in the room. She headed for the door while Draco watched her, chewing on the inside of his mouth impatiently. "You really won't show me?" Leshia paused at the door and shook her head boldly. "Out," he said angrily and returned to the class. Leshia didn't need telling twice and she ran up the corridor, straight to her common room. The sixth and seventh years on break looked surprised to see her, but she rushed up to the dormitory and continued to write.
I was born on the 16th of November, my father is 31 and I think you know he studied at Hogwarts. I think you also know that of course I remember those words, you sang them to me every single day for the first six and a half years of my life. Don't you know who you are? You're name is Hermione! You're my mum!
You have to remember! You have to come back!
Please respond as fast as you can!
P.S. If you don't believe me, then try this, I bet you showed up on (or around) the 15th of August five years ago didn't you?
With the letter firmly in her hand she walked over to the window and hung out. An owl instantly flew to her outstretched arm and Leshia tied the letter hastily to its leg.
"Bring this to Herm… Leshia Westcoast at the Americas Institute in Mexico," she said hastily. The owl hooted and took off, leaving two sharp pains in Leshia's arm where it's talons had dug in to take flight, but Leshia didn't care. Her mother was alive as she had always known, and now she was going to bring her home.
She certainly did care when later that evening over dinner she received a very ominous look from her father and a message appeared on her plate (obviously carefully placed by Tally) that read:
My office. After dinner
"He's so mad at me," she groaned and served herself some rice. "And that's not the worst, how on earth am I going to keep mum a secret! He was an auror, he scared death-eaters and werewolves into confessing about Voldemort…how can I compete with that?"
"Why would you?" Rachel asked.
"Yeah, why can't you just tell him?" Katie added. Leshia sighed.
"I don't want him to get his hopes up…I mean, it nearly killed him when she disappeared and I don't want him thinking she's coming home the same as she was, because I don't even know if she's going to get her memory back…ever!" Leshia explained.
"But maybe he could help?" Katie said. "I mean she was obviously obliterated wasn't she? Well maybe he could help undo the spell damage."
"Yeah him, or Dumbledore," Rachel suggested. Leshia sighed.
"She's remembering things already. I bet if we wait a while, she'll remember everything and want to come back and we'll be a family again," she said.
"If Snape's in his office you'll want to be careful," Katie warned her. "My dad told me that he's really good at Legilimency, you know, where they can read your thoughts." Leshia furrowed her brow.
"He'd never…" But as she looked back to Draco she found he was still giving her an unreadable look and she began to worry. Dinner went surprisingly quickly and soon Leshia found herself unwillingly trudging the route to her father's office. She knocked softly and was surprised and worried when the door swung open and Draco stood with his arms crossed in the entrance, partly blocking the way. He didn't say anything and Leshia hung her head and pushed past him into the office. Thankfully it was empty and after a brief look into the bedroom just off from the office she found that empty too (should Snape be hiding in there ready to read her thoughts through the wall). Leshia sat down by the desk on one of the wooden chairs and waited, but Draco never came, he simply stood by the now closed door watching her, assuming the same stance as before.
"You're mad," Leshia said sounding faraway.
"Damn right I'm mad," Draco retorted, but he didn't sound mad, he sounded amused. Leshia furrowed her brow and shrugged.
"You wouldn't understand dad," she said after a while.
"And you're not going to tell me are you?" Draco replied. Leshia looked him in the eye dolefully and shook her head.
"Not yet anyway, not until I'm certain…" she trailed off and looked away again. Draco's expression turned even more amused and he finally sat down, but not at the desk, instead he dropped down on the sofa. Leshia remained frozen to her seat, but her posture relaxed. Draco wasn't really that mad, he had been annoyed in class when she flat out disobeyed him, but she was being punished for that. He knew it was pointless to continue to punish her and assumed she had a good reason for behaving so out of line.
"So what am I going to be doing on Saturday?" Leshia finally asked, sensing her father was back to normal.
"Whatever Severus wants you to do," he said with a twinkle in his eye. Leshia's jaw dropped dramatically.
"Snape?" she demanded.
"Professor Snape Leshia," Draco admonished. Leshia furrowed her brow.
"Why can't I have detention with you?" she asked sounding petulant.
"Because we both know that I'd be too soft on you," he said cheerfully. "I'm hardly the world's best disciplinarian!" This was certainly true, he was possibly the world's worst disciplinarian. Hermione had always dealt with that…
"Yeah but he hates me," Leshia grumbled. "He'll probably send me into the forbidden forest to collect mushrooms or something."
"He won't," Draco laughed genially. Leshia gave him a pointed look.
"He sent you!" she countered.
"I was with the others and with Hagrid and that great big dog of his, we were fine," he said. "What makes you think he hates you?"
"He called me a know-it-all like mum," she said sounding put out. Draco smiled fondly at her.
"She was a know-it-all," he chuckled. "He wouldn't dare hate you."
"Well he's not very nice," Leshia grumbled.
"Neither am I if you hadn't noticed," Draco countered and he finally got to his feet and walked over to his daughter, ruffling her hair on his way past to his desk chair. "You'd better get going, I have your essays to mark," he said as he pulled out the pile of parchments. Leshia's was still on top from earlier. The girl glanced nervously at it, suddenly fearing what her father would think of it, had she worked hard enough on it? Draco saw her looking and smiled charmingly at her.
"No going back now little one," he said cheerfully and took out a quill and some red ink. "Well go on then, I can't mark them with you hanging about." Leshia smiled meekly and got to her feet, before she headed towards the door.
"Hey, where's my goodnight kiss then?" Draco asked. "Or do you want me to go back on the Tally agreement?" Leshia quickly ran over to him and embraced him tighter than normal. Draco returned the hug feeling surprised. "Are you sure everything's okay?" he asked eventually sounding concerned. Leshia nodded into his shoulder.
"Yeah," she replied and straightened up again, kissing his cheek. "Goodnight dad." With this she left leaving Draco feeling curious, what was wrong with her?
The week crawled by and soon Saturday was upon them. Leshia woke before her friends, she 'd been summoned to Snape's office at 8AM and was told to wear old clothes. So she changed into some baggy jeans, an old polo shirt and some old boots, before tying her hair up in a ponytail and leaving as quietly as she could. The castle was empty, save for some over-zealous students heading for the library and the usual sleepless castle ghosts.
"You're up early Malfoy," Ryan's voice came from behind her just before she reached stairs going down into the dungeons. He was taking down the notice about tryouts to register the names on there.
"Detention," Leshia said with a shrug.
"Snape?" Ryan asked with a wince when he saw where she was heading. Leshia grinned and nodded.
"My dad's idea of a joke," she said with a shrug.
"So you coming tomorrow?" he asked glancing down the list. Leshia nodded with a shrug.
"Only problem is we have to use the school brooms," she said softly.
"Oh don't worry about it, you can borrow mine during tryouts. I told you I owed you one didn't I?" Leshia beamed at him.
"Thanks!" she said and then looked at the time. "I'll see you tomorrow then!"
"Good luck with Snape," Ryan chuckled as he headed back to the common room. Leshia hurried on and soon knocked on Snape's door.
"Enter," his creepy voice came. Leshia shuddered, but pushed it open. Snape's office was dreary and dingy.
"Ah Malfoy, late I see?" Snape sneered. Leshia furrowed her brow.
"Not by much," she complained and stayed half in, half out of the office.
"We shall we going out to the base of the forest where I shall instruct you on what you shall be collecting," he said and Leshia's jaw nearly dropped at her foresight in this occasion. It was a good thing they were still enjoying their Indian summer, because Leshia was not given the option of returning for her cloak. On their way out Snape picked up two buckets and led Leshia all the way out into the pleasant morning air. The journey to the edge of the forest was a long one and yet they didn't speak. Soon they reached the trees and walked a little way in to the gloom. Snape then continued to instruct her on what she ought to be picking and then left her to it saying he would send someone to empty the buckets every once in a while. Once he had retreated Leshia kicked one of the buckets angrily.
"Crappy Snape," she grumbled and dropped to her knees in the soil, picking through the undergrowth. "We should have a trouble strike and then the teachers would have to do their own dirty work!" She worked for hours until children started to come out to enjoy the weather. By about twelve Leshia's stomach was grumbling, so it was a good thing that Katie and Rachel came to find her bearing bread and cheese.
"What has he got you doing?" Rachel asked and she wrinkled her nose at the buckets (which had already been emptied three timed).
"Elf work," Leshia complained as she dug into her sandwich greedily.
"It's not really safe to be alone in the forest is it?" Katie asked anxiously looking into the gloom.
"You wouldn't think so, but hey," Leshia said with a shrug. Her friends didn't stay long as Snape came to check on her and told them she was to have no visitors and she was to get on with her job. By four in the afternoon Leshia was feeling venomous and every time someone was sent to get the buckets, she looked close to smacking them. It was at four that Draco ambled down the gardens and found her sitting on a fallen tree log trying to smash a husk open with her trowel. She had mud smears all over her face and her clothes were filthy.
"Easy," Draco laughed as he sat down beside her and took the husk from her. He pointed his wand at it, silently made an incantation causing it to split open and as he did so thousands of slivery silky seeds poured out. Leshia quickly collected them in a bucket full of such seeds and then sighed heavily.
"Dad I'm tired," she groaned. Draco smiled charmingly at her.
"I think you've done enough," he said kindly. "Come back with me, we'll have a word with him."
"I told you he'd have me in the forest picking mushrooms. Didn't I tell you?" Leshia exclaimed indignantly. "And now I'm behind on my homework, because I have tryouts tomorrow remember?" Draco smiled and nodded.
"Of course I remember, its all kids have been going on about all week," he said.
"You're not coming to watch are you?" Leshia asked and she leaned back against a branch sticking out of the stump. Draco shrugged.
"I might pop along for a minute…"
"You can't!" Leshia quickly said and she sat forward again scratching an itch on her cheek. "I'm nervous enough as it is."
"Okay, I won't come then," Draco chuckled and he quickly reached out and batted a caterpillar off Leshia's shoulder. "You need a bath." Leshia looked down at herself and nodded. "Come on, let's go tell Severus you're done for the day."
"What if he complains?" Leshia asked getting to her feet and taking one bucket while Draco took the other.
"I gave you detention, I can take it away," he said. "Besides, you've been at this all day, it's too much." They headed back to the castle in a tired silence and slowly made their way down to the dungeons. It was Draco that knocked on the door before pushing it open to find Snape pouring over some ancient text.
"I think she's had enough for the day," Draco said in a no-nonsense tone as he took Leshia's bucket and put them both down on the floor. Snape looked reluctant, but nodded all the same.
"Very well," he said.
"You go on," Draco told Leshia, who didn't need telling twice and quickly escaped the office. She went straight for the Gryffindor washrooms and had a long and gratifying shower. After changing into some cleaner clothes she made her way down to the common room and found Katie and Rachel were playing wizard chess.
"Hi Leesh," they greeted her happily.
"Did that loony finally let you go?" Rachel asked before making a pained expression as Katie took her queen.
"Yeah," Leshia sighed and she dropped down in the spare seat beside them. " I have to do those two essays for Flitwick and Tinreed if I'm going to have a free day tomorrow."
"Hadn't you better get started then?" Katie said distantly as she concentrated on the game. Leshia sighed again, but went to get her satchel anyway. Moments later she was back in the window box with her First Year Charms book open in front of her and her empty parchment stretching out across the ledge.
The following day Leshia woke up at dawn feeling incredibly nervous. She paced the room with Philly chasing a threat hanging from her trousers for almost an hour before the others woke from their slumber. They all changed in silence and headed down to breakfast. The last thing Leshia was expecting was an owl to drop down in front of her with a single envelope.
"Oh no, not today," Leshia gasped and she quickly took the letter and opened it. Only a few words jumped out at her.
Do you still look like me?
"That's it?" Leshia demanded feeling like she wanted to sob. "I open my heart to her and that's all she can write?" Her voice cracked and she shook her head angrily.
"Leesh turn it over!" Katie suddenly exclaimed in surprise. Leshia furrowed her brow and did as she was told. In an instant an old muggle photograph of herself jumped out at her. It was ragged and torn and looked like the colour had faded in lines by being stroked by delicate fingers over the years, but it was definitely a six-year-old Leshia, beaming at the camera as her muggle 'Aunt' took her picture.
"She kept it all these years," Rachel said and Leshia and Katie spun around and saw their normally bold friend was on the verge of tears. "It's so sweet!"
"Leesh we have to tell your dad, this is proof!" Katie said firmly. Leshia furrowed her brow and looked up to see Draco had not yet come down to breakfast. Now she felt afraid. How could she tell her father that his wife was still alive? It ought to have been the most easiest sentence in the world: 'Dad, mum's not dead, she's just been teaching at some institute in Mexico for the last five years unaware that she has a family, but now she remembers us.' But Leshia couldn't do that…she had to plan it more tactfully than that. She owed him that much.
As they headed onto the grand quidditch pitch Leshia felt her nerves pinching. Something in her heart was fluttering as she saw the older children who were trying out.
"You'll be fine Leesh," Katie said comfortingly as she and Rachel headed for the stands.
"Don't fall off," Rachel added cheerfully and this at least wrangled a smile from young Leshia.
"Morning Malfoy," Ryan said cheerfully and he handed out a broom to her. It was a Firebolt 350, a very able broom. Leshia grinned.
"Thanks," she said and watched anxiously as the current hopeful was warming up.
"Right now we're all here," Ryan called to the group. "Everyone will receive three trials at catching the snitch, this will be followed by an aerial obstacle course to ascertain your flying skills and then we'll see how fast you can go by racing against Gemma here. Okay, any questions?"
"Yeah," a burly fifth year boy said. "Surely we can't race fairly, some people have better brooms."
"You'll all be racing my broom at that point, as you'll see, Mila has the same model," he said. The fifth year nodded and looked satisfied.
"Good, let's begin," Ryan said and he looked to the first hopeful. "When you're ready Josalynn." With this he let the snitch go that he held in his hand and watched as Josalynn Jones took to the sky. They were timing her.
Josalynn did quite well, as did three others. Most of the others did appallingly in comparison and then finally it was Leshia's turn. She nodded and watched as the Snitch sped off. Soon she was in the air and doing what came naturally to her. She'd always been a very able flyer and had excellent eyesight, matched with quick reflexes. Within seconds she had spotted the snitch and she darted after it, dodging this way and that, honing in on it. Below people watched on impressed. Finally she did a clever move and she grabbed it out of the air. Katie and Rachel cheered insanely. Her following trials were just as spectacular and fast as her first. By the end Ryan didn't feel the need for further trials, but decided he ought to anyway. So they did the aerial competence and speed tests. Leshia aced them all to more cheers from below – quite a crowd had gathered now. As she touched down the others sloped off without confirmation of their fears. Ryan was grinning at Leshia and by now the rest of the team had assembled.
"Team, meet our new seeker," he said with a big grin.
Her triumph was short lived, as Leshia knew what lay ahead of her. Draco had kept to his word, but news travelled fast, and by the time Leshia came knocking at his door he was beaming at her.
"I heard, well done!" he said with a big grin. "What have you got there?" he asked pointing to the letters in Leshia's hand. Leshia sighed and sat down opposite him at the desk.
"Dad…I don't know how to tell you this…"
"Try me," Draco said sounding calm as though anything Leshia could throw at him would be more than fine. His assurance was slightly reassuring, but Leshia knew he never dreamed this would ever happen.
"Look at this," she said showing him the picture of herself that she had received that very morning. At first Draco smiled when he saw it, it brought back fond memories, but then something dawned on him.
"Where did you get this?" he asked in a hoarse whisper. He recognised the picture from Hermione's purse, she had always carried it round everywhere she went.
"Someone sent it to me," she replied truthfully.
"Who?" Her father seemed desperate, hungry for information and there was fear and suffering in his eyes too.
"Mum." It took a while for the anger to register on Draco's face, but materialise it did.
"Alecia Malfoy…" he began in a booming tone.
"Turn it over!" Leshia exclaimed passionately. Draco narrowed his eyes at Leshia, before tearing them away and looking down at the photograph's back. He instantly recognised the handwriting and the realisation caused a small agonised sound to escape his throat.
"Let me see those," he ordered and he held out his hand roughly for the letters. Leshia quickly handed them to him and watched as his eyes skimmed the pages, turning slightly glassy as he did so. " Hermione," he finally whispered.
"Dad?" Leshia uttered sounding frightened. Draco silently held out his arm to her his eyes not leaving the pages and she rushed round the desk and clung to his side. The young girl began to shake, so Draco quickly tightened his grip around her and kissed the side of her head.
"I have to go and find her," he finally said, sounding gentler now. Leshia closed her eyes seeming pained.
"I know," she managed sadly.
"You're going to have to stay here."
"I know that too…"