Never Say Never


Kiera had always blended into Slytherin's background until she piques the interest of Cedric Diggory before the end of her 5th year. Upon returning to school, she deals with ongoing internal emotions and coping with a traumatic event that occurred over the summer. Distractions are best. At least, that's what she thought until she'd put her name in the Goblet of Fire, never intending that she might actually be selected.

Romance / Drama
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

“Did you hear about what happened at the World Cup?”

The Daily Prophet was sitting in her lap, sprawled with the words of the Dark Mark being performed and that Harry Potter had been caught at the scene with the wand that had performed it. Still, the writing didn’t reveal all the details and given how mad it must’ve been during the entire ordeal, simply being near the wand didn’t make one guilty.

“I did,” Kiera acknowledged, folding the newspaper over. She had been in America when everything had upended itself in England. Pandemonium had shook the foundation of the well planned World Cup. It would be the talk of the school until something else garnered the attention of the students. Sighing, she leaned back in the leather seat of the compartment and glanced across at Cassius. “What do you think about it? I doubt Potter could have cast the spell.”

Cassius frowned. He was tall, dark haired, and a bit ‘bruttish’ by description of many. Kiera thought this was a foul manner for most to describe his athleticism, but people did tend to hone in on qualities in a negative manner when you were in Slytherin. “Nah, I doubt it was well. Just find it funny that he’s always at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Serves Gryffindors for you. They have a knack for that, you know?” Adrian had glanced up from his own reading material.

“An uncanny one,” Kiera grumbled. Gryffindor had always been an annoyance, but in 1991 they had just been flies. Cue the entrance of Potter and his gang, Gryffindor became holier than thought and ushered in the instant decline of Slytherin’s reputation. She preferred to think that was in due part to Malfoy being an absolute idiot, but it didn’t help that Flint also had a talent for disturbing the small semblance of peace that had held the school together.

They had two years of relative decency before Potter had arrived.

“And from the rumors I hear, there’s going to be something going on this year,” Adrian continued, garnering the attention of his best friends. “I don’t think there will be Quidditch because of it.”

“Well spill the beans,” Cassius demanded.

“I can only say what I know. My father mentioned that we may have Durmstrang and Beaux Batons here for an event, but he wasn’t specific... Something about it being a surprise,” he rolled his eyes at the thought.

Before the conversation had the chance to continue, the door to their compartment slid open. “Again?” Marcus scowled, looking them over. “You know we have an entire area reserved for Slytherin.” His eyes moved primarily over to Kiera, who had opened her Herbology book.

“Too loud,” Cassius replied nonchalantly. “If we wanted a show, we’d just go bother Potter. Though I’m pretty certain Malfoy’s got that under control. Seems to find a new way to make a fool of himself and Slytherin every year.”

“Along with Pansy, Vin, and Greg,” Adrian added quickly.

Marcus was nonplussed by their reactions, specifically Kiera’s preference to ignore him altogether. “I was looking for you two-” he gestured toward the guys. “Draco said there’s to be the Triwizard Tournament this year, which means no Quidditch,” he elaborated, trying to see if they’d look astonished or disappointed.

“Ah, so that’s what it is,” Adrian nodded. “Well, still next year... Oh, wait... Not for you, huh Flint? Not unless you’re planning on staying back another year.”

Flint’s cheeks grew hot and red from the remark, but he postured anyways, again throwing a glance in Kiera’s direction.

“If you’ve got nothing else to say, why’re you hanging around? I bet so much is happening in the Slytherin compartment,” Cassius said offhandedly.

“You’re really not that upset about no Quidditch season?” Flint inquired.

“You really think we’d win the Cup this year? We’ve been serving hot trash on a plate for the past few,” Adrian pointed out.

“Right... Anyways, if you grow bored here you can still join us. There’s probably enough room for the three of you,” Flint drawled on.

None of them were interested in the invitation. With a snick, the door slid shut and Kiera finally glanced up from her book. “How many times?”

“Five glances,” Cassius reported.

“Ugh,” she hissed, snapping her book shut. “I swear, I’ll snog one of you in front of him so he gets it through his thick skull that I’m not interested.”

“Can I volunteer?” Cassius inquired.

She tossed a venomous glare in his direction, but he smirked nonetheless. The three of them had been fast friends since their first year. Kiera, disinterested in most of the pedantic bullshit going on, whereas Cassius tended to get himself dragged into nonsense. Adrian was another neutral party that tried to keep his hand out of the trouble stirred up by Slytherins like Malfoy and Flint.

“So, the Triwizard Tournament,” Adrian drawled, bringing forth the topic that Flint had left them with. It was probably the nicest gift he’d given them. “That hasn’t happened for years or am I mistaken?”

“Something to do with students dying in the competition,” Kiera told him, but she had little more information than that. “I think 1792 was the last official tournament.”

“Leave it to you to remind some asinine year,” Cassius leaned back in his seat, kicking his feet out, and glancing out the window that was beginning to darken as they rolled through Northern England.

“I have to pick up the slack between the two of you and Adrian isn’t much of the problem,” Kiera deadpanned. ”Anyways, do you think it’s odd at all?”

“Odd how?”

“The Dark Mark at the World Cup, followed by the resurrection of the Triwizard Tournament. I don’t know, it reeks to me. Something’s going to happen,” Kiera predicted sternly.

“Well...” Cassius drawled. “About the World Cup-”

“Don’t tell me your family was involved,” Kiera scowled.

“Oh don’t pretend like your brother wasn’t amongst them,” Cassius snapped irritably.

“If he was, he didn’t say shit to me.”

“That would be because he knows you’d flip,” Adrian pointed out.

“My brother is an absolute dick,” Kiera shrugged, trying not to dwell about Thorfinn. The brother she’d never gotten along with. It was due in part to the fact that he was 10 years her senior, but also because she thought he was a psychopath. Her summers home from Hogwarts had been torture if Thorfinn was there. Aside from trying to indoctrinate her, he concocted ‘little games’.

These games consisted of throwing the family crup into the well, intercepting all of her mail and sending letters not written by her back to Adrian and Cassius (usually so lewd that it was obvious it wasn’t her writing), turning random items in her room into snakes - just to name a few of the lesser crimes. There was one larger that Kiera refused to talk about, that neither Adrian or Cassius had any inkling of. It was better they didn’t know.

“I could care less what he does in his spare time. I can’t say I’m surprised he was there,” she continued, bringing her hazel eyes to gaze intently at them. “However, your family Cassius. Weren’t they renouncing the dark lord not too long ago? So what was this?”

“The Malfoys put it together,” Cassius hissed. “And the Goyles and Crabbes.”

“Of course they did, but most of the Sacred families follow in like lemmings. We’re never going to lose the stigma of being shady assholes if we keep being shady assholes.”

“She’s got a point,” Adrian agreed.

“It was just some fun. No one actually got hurt.”

Kiera picked up the paper again, running her finger down the lines of text. “Aha! ′A muggle family was tortured by the Imperius Curse during the ordeal. Said family was traumatized, but has since had their memories erased. The Ministry states that this could have-′ blah, blah, but you get the point. So torturing helpless muggles is your idea of fun?”

“Since when were you sympathetic to muggles?”

“I’m not! What’s the fun in hurting someone who can’t fight back?” Had Kiera not had her own experiences in trauma, perhaps she would have thought the lack of physical harm wasn’t a big deal, especially since it had happened to muggles.

“Ooh, Kiera the chauvinist. Look at your robes, they’re starting to turn yellow,” Cassius teased, tugging at his own tie.

“Maybe I should go find Diggory’s cabin for you. I think he’d accept you with open arms, especially after you gave him first aid after Flint knocked him off his broom last season,” Adrian jumped on the bandwagon to prod at her patience.

They were poking a hibernating bear. Kiera’s pale cheeks turned rosy at the reminder she had shown the Hufflepuff some empathy. “Because Flint did it to make me mad! I told you that I had bumped into Diggory and he helped me pick up my belongings in the hallway. Flint got this idea in his head that Diggory was hitting on me. What’s wrong if I felt responsibility for putting a target on his back?”

“I don’t know,” Cassius drawled, lips curling up like a wild fox. “Diggory has asked to borrow quills from you several times and you didn’t get mad when he forgot to return them. I remember the last time I asked you for a piece of parchment and you told me to go to the latrine and grab some toilet paper.”

“There’s nothing going on,” she insisted sternly. Deep down, she knew that wasn’t true. There was something about how nice Cedric was that attracted her. Perhaps it was because she was typically surrounded by cynical, sarcastic assholes that someone who was just a kind person was refreshing. He didn’t want anything in return either. Although, Kiera certainly didn’t believe that Cedric really saw her more than just a peer he could sometimes ask for school supplies from.

“I give it to the end of November,” Adrian pulled out a few silver sickles.

“Hm, I’ll wager after Christmas break,” Cassius offered some of his own pocket change.

“It won’t happen!” Kiera spat like an angry cat.

The ride continued into a roast session, the boys endearingly teasing Kiera until she threatened to go sit in the Slytherin common cabin. Seeing through her bluff, they relented just slightly enough that she could attempt to ignore them by reading her book.

Steam puffed up around the train as they filtered out with the rest of the students. First years were corralled by Hagrid, the others taking the forest path, waiting in line for carriages to wheel them up to the school. Kiera drew her robes in, listening to Cassius and Adrian devolve into an argument over who really should have won the World Cup.

Their words began to fall into the mist in front of her, just white noise. Above her, the sky was smattered with stars, winking down at her, the moon bright and full. A gentle breeze tugged at the hem of her cloak, ruffling her collar length chestnut curls. A calm feeling fell over her, a feeling she wished she could capture in a bottle and unleash whenever she was feeling anxious or depressed. Those emotions were resurfacing more and more as of late.


The peace was shattered into a million tiny pieces, just like the innumerable amount of stars in the sky. Too many to count and not enough time to focus on it.

Cedric Diggory trotted up, leaving behind a few of his friends to approach her. Perhaps he believed that bringing more Hufflepuffs amongst the Slytherins wasn’t a good idea, either way, him approaching with Adrian and Cassius nearby was only going to result in more roasting later.

His hair was ruffled from him running toward them, sauntering to a halt in front of her. “Sorry, I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” he asked, smiling at her companions.

"Oh no,” Adrian grinned widely, much too friendly for a Slytherin. “Quite the contrary. We were just-”

Kiera took a step back and stomped on Adrian’s foot, the back of her robes obscuring the attack.

“Do you mind if I speak to you for a moment?”

“Take her!” Cassius hooted.

Kiera threw a glare back at him, but nodded at Cedric, following him to the side slightly to see what he wanted. “Hey, I wanted to apologize for all those quills I stole from you last year,” he started, giving her a sheepish smile. “I got this for you-” he pulled a small box from out of his robes, a silky pink bow securing it. “It’s not much, but I felt obliged. I probably would have failed my O.W.L.s had you not given me a quill.”

Kiera accepted the package awkwardly, reading the box; Chocoballs. As if Cassius and Adrian didn’t have enough fuel for their bet as it was. She pursed her lips, glancing up at Cedric. “Look, it’s fine. I don’t need payment. Think of it as a favor and you owe me favors.”

“Ah,” he breathed, but recovered quickly. “How about I begin with your trunk?”

“Trunk?” she murmured, glancing back to where her best friends had been standing. They had loaded their belongings onto a carriage and were now riding away without waiting for her. Licking her lips, she bit the bottom and tried not to appear bitter as Cedric studied her. “That’ll work…” Cassius and Adrian would pay for this later.

Another horseless carriage pulled up in front of them and Cedric loaded their trunks onto it. She couldn’t help but cross her arms, slightly self conscious as a few 3rd year girls behind them murmured in envy. Diggory was one of the most popular students in the school, even amongst the Slytherins, no one denied that he was handsome. Kiera had always done her best to stay under the radar, to remain just a feature in the background while she worked ambitiously at her studies. Somehow, Cedric had picked her out amongst the crowd and she’d been stupid enough to show him momentary lapses of kindness. Kiera didn’t take pleasure in watching others suffer or make fools of themselves… not unless she hated them.

With just the two of them in the carriage, Kiera tried focusing her attention elsewhere. Perhaps the trees they passed, almost black in the darkness. The creaking noise the oil lanterns hanging from the carriage made as they prowled forward toward the school.

“How did you fare on your O.W.L.s?” Cedric began, breaking the silence that had created a small buffer between them.

“I did well on Transfiguration, Herbology, Potions, Charms, Astronomy, and Defence,” she admitted. Her preferred subjects were Transfiguration and Herbology, which she had gotten the highest marks, followed by Potions and Charms. Astronomy and Defence Against the Dark Arts she had skated by on her O.W.L.s, allowing for her to move onto N.E.W.T-level if she preferred. She didn’t know yet if she was going to bother with Astronomy.

“You always do study a lot, I figured you’d get high marks in the majority of the subjects,” Cedric nodded.

“How do you know that?” she narrowed her eyes at him.

“I see you in the library all the time,” Cedric pointed out, which should have been obvious. Kiera spent the entire second half of her day in the library doing classwork and reading ahead.

“What about you?” she turned the subject over to him, hoping he’d just talk about himself so she didn’t have to fill the air with conversation. Part of her felt incredibly awkward being alone with Cedric. No doubt Cassius and Adrian were snickering like doxies about the entire arrangement in the carriage ahead of them, too far to spot from their own vehicle.

“I’ll be moving on to N.E.W.T-level Charms, Transfiguration, Defence, Care of Magical Creatures, and Astronomy. So it seems we’ll be in a few classes together,” he grinned, as if the prospect were truly that engaging.

The more she thought about it, she realized that she was going to have more classes with Cedric than Adrian or Cassius.

“Suppose so,” she tried to remain uninterested, but Cedric was like a puppy.

“Have you put any thought into what you might pursue as an occupation?”

“Maybe work at Saint Mungos as a Mediwitch, I’m still not quite certain,” Kiera admitted. She loved Herbology, the solace working with plants brought her. Still, she didn’t think she could survive on growing plants alone. Her knack of Potions and Transfiguration meant that becoming a healer would be the path of least resistance and in line with her interests.

“I think that would suit you,” Cedric nodded thoughtfully. “You did heal my broken arm quite easily last year. Wow, another favor I owe you-”

“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it,” Kiera grumbled, having felt responsible for him getting hurt in the first place. Flint had been pissy about Cedric helping her pick up her books in the hallways and had purposely taken it out on the handsome Hufflepuff.

Technically, she shouldn’t have felt bad. It was a momentary lapse of weakness, as many others in her house might view it. Afterall, broken bones needed only a spell muttered by a competent witch, in which case Madam Pomfrey was nearly always at the Quidditch matches.

“Did you have anything in mind, yourself?” she asked, shifting the subject away from herself.

“My father seems to think I’m good enough to be on a professional Quidditch team, but I don’t know...” he drawled modestly.

“Aren’t you the team Captain?” Kiera pointed out. “I didn’t know that the worst player on the team was awarded the title.”

Cedric breathed a laugh. “I don’t know what I want to do yet. Probably not Quidditch.”

She observed that he seemed almost self conscious to admit that. Why wouldn’t the perfect Cedric Diggory know what he wanted to do in life? “We’ve still got our N.E.W.T.s, most people don’t even know what they want to do as a job,” she brushed the idea away nonchalantly. “Doesn’t your dad work for the Ministry?”

“Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures,” he nodded. “I’ve thought about it, but knowing how my father is, he’d chastise my ear off for not pursuing something more ‘befitting’.”

“It’s all your decision in the end, isn’t it?”

“I suppose. There’s always being an Auror, but the amount of studying I’d need to do...” he sighed, a hint of frustration creeping in. “You scored well in the appropriate O.W.L.s. Have you ever thought about becoming an Auror?”

She had. Not because she excelled at the classes, but because of her brother. Nothing would give her more satisfaction than putting him into Azkaban. However, she didn’t know if anyone would truly trust her, a pure-blood Slytherin, or if they’d let their prejudices get the better of them. “I don’t know if it’s for me,” she admitted.

“Oh come on now, why not?” Cedric prompted.

“Have you heard of any Slytherin becoming an Auror?”

“You shouldn’t let your House dictate what you do in life,” Cedric argued lightly. “You’re the nicest Slytherin I know.”

“Oh, thanks,” she drawled sarcastically. “You don’t really know me, though, do you?”

Cedric paused, considering his words before speaking. “I know that you’re a good person. But... you’re right, I don’t know you very well. I do want to get to know you.”

“I doubt it. You’re better off just going back to Hufflepuff after this.” Or else Flint might give Cedric something worse than a broken bone. She wondered if Flint would even try squaring up with the other Quidditch Captain, she’d always thought him too cowardly to try attacking someone face first.

“How about we study together? I could be a little more academic, especially if I’m thinking about becoming an Auror. Perhaps you’ll change your mind about a Slytherin not fitting in an Auror’s shoes,” Cedric prompted, offering her a hand to shake, as if there were some secret deal.

“Well, you know where I study, so it’s not like I can avoid you,” she grumbled, staring at his open palm. “Very well, if you can pass my test, you can study with me.” She shook his hand, gripping it as firmly as she could. Her own palm was dwarfed in his.

“Test?” Cedric inquired.

“You must become an Animagus,” she nodded.

“Alright,” he smiled, her own smirk cracking at his confidence. “What do I have to do?”

“Uh-” she cleared her throat, having not expected that Cedric would agree to the terms. “Well, it’s rather complex, but I was able to accomplish it last year-” Kiera began divulging the details and steps to become Animagus.

“It seems like it’ll take a bit of time,” Cedric deduced. “A lot of it is dependent on the weather and moon cycle.”

“I will agree to the term that we can study with one another until you accomplish it. However, once you fail or give up, that’s it.”

“You said you’re an Animagus, what animal do you take the form of?”

From the trees, Hogwarts towered above, silhouetted against the twilight sky. The stars she had been staring at before the carriage ride were winking like flirtatious lovers and the moon basked the castle in a warm embrace like an affectionate mother. Each year Kiera came upon it, it felt like being reunited with a long lost sibling. The feeling that welled in the pit of her stomach moved her so much that she wanted to cry. Hogwarts was her home, more than the Rowle Manor had ever been. From the marble halls, to the dusty bookshelves and the smell of their pages, Kiera never felt the fear of having to constantly glance over her shoulder as she did at home.

Here, she could keep to the pages of her book without worry. She could hang amongst her few friends and make glib remarks and be herself. She could find solace in the beauty of the old architecture of the castle and the hidden alcoves it possessed. She could be free. This was not the gilded cage she suffered in each summer. Nor would she have to any longer. Kiera was 17. There was no reason for her to return back to the manor after her 6th year if she didn’t wish to. She had thought about finding a place in Hogsmeade to stay or maybe Diagon Alley.

Both of them had been awed into silence, Cedric also enjoying the beauty of Hogwarts on that evening. Finally, when she felt it was time to answer the question he’d asked, she turned back to him, her hazel eyes bright. “Can’t tell you, now can I? Where’s the fun in that?”

They disembarked, leaving their trunks for the house elves to transport to their dorms. Students coalesced, funneling into the entrance, bedecked in their robes sashed with varying emerald, topaz, ruby, and sapphire.

“So, I can find you after class, same place as usually?” Cedric brought up.

“No different than before,” Kiera shrugged. “You’d better get your hands on some Mandrake leaves too if you want to begin with the full moon in a few days.”

“Shouldn’t be an issue,” Cedric remarked, turning his head to see his own friends waving him over. He gave her a slight smile, a bit of chargin in it.

“Don’t worry, you can tell them how unpleasant the ride with the Slytherin was,” she told him wryly. “I’ve got to catch up with Pucey and Warrington.” Before they start telling all of Slytherin that I’m dating you, she added silently.

“It wasn’t half as bad as you think,” Cedric teased lightly. “I’ll see you later, Rowle.”

Kiera gave him a slight nod, trotting a bit quicker so that she could pick between the other slow moving students to catch back up with her best friends. They had trailed slowly, waiting for her to catch up before they took their seats in the Great Hall.

“Well, how was it?” Cassius inquired immediately, giving her an up and down look as if she might have changed during the short ride to the school.

“Fine,” she deadpanned, dragging them into the Great Hall with her so that she didn’t have to divulge the information in the hallway. “Move it, Malfoy. You and your trolls are blocking the path.”

Draco turned around, narrowing his eyes at her as she snapped at him. To be honest, she’d always been irritated with him. Like many of the Slytherins, he lived on the laurels of his parents and flaunted it. Kiera, too, was a product of ‘good wizard breeding’, but she’d never used it to prove she was a good witch. Neither had Pucey, which was why they’d gotten along since their 1st year. Cassius had become a later addition once Adrian started playing Quidditch with him.

“Not like we can move any faster, Rowle. Peeves was throwing water balloons-” he objected.

“Afraid of getting your hair wet?” she sneered, pushing past him, not in the mood to deal with any of the younger Slytherins.

Peeves floated up above, his arms beladden with balloons that he was pelting down on students. Her lip curled and she glared up at him. “PEEVES!” she shouted, drawing the poltergeist’s attention. “Who’s that behind you? It looks exactly like the Bloody Baron. Do you really think he’d be pleased with you causing such a mess?”

Peeves snarled, a menacing smile curling up his lips. “Growly Rowley. Peeves is just having a little fun-”

“Oh Merlin, there he is!” she exclaimed, feigning fear of the ghost, pointing toward an empty wall.

Peeves disappeared, the balloons in his arms falling and splattering over more students. However, his disappearance allowed for the hesitant students to enter the Great Hall. “Merlin, I hate Peeves,” she muttered, glaring in Malfoy’s direction. It wasn’t as if every Slytherin didn’t know that Peeves was petrified of the Bloody Baron. Given that they were in Slytherin, their threats always spoke volumes louder than any of the other houses since the Baron was their house ghost.

Snapping her gaze away from the blond wizard, she sauntered into the Great Hall and took her seat at the Slytherin table. “Think you pissed Malfoy off,” Adrian muttered at the table as he sat beside her.

“Malfoy has the temper of a toddler. Just looking at him the wrong way makes him pissy,” Kiera grumbled, crossing her arms. The doors flung open again, the hall coming down to a hushed whisper as the first years began filing in.

“They’re so tiny,” Cassius whispered.

“We were that small once,” Kiera reminded him.

“No way. I swear they get smaller every year,” Cassius insisted.

Adrian and Kiera exchanged glances, a small bit of mischief between them as their gaze spoke volumes. They’d always sort of been that way. Outliers in Slytherin, quieter and more observant, less likely to go on fits of wrathful trapses. Nor were they so blinded by their ambition that they cheated. Neither felt the need to, as they were both competent in their own ways. Why make up for what they lacked when they were both confident in their abilities? Cassius, while their close friend, still tried to make up for his shortcomings as if he had something to prove.

“What?” Cassius pressed, having noticed their look.

“Nothing,” Kiera shrugged, knowing it would get into his head if they didn’t share their secret looks and thoughts with him.

McGonagall approached the plinth where the stool sat, placing the Sorting Hat on it. The first years were clustered just a step below, uncertain of what they had to look forward to. Their faces were a motley mix of fear, confusion, anxiety, and indifference. A crease on the hat cracked and it sprung to life, singing loudly, startling the closest first years. Kiera couldn’t help but snicker at them as the hat continued, explaining the difference between the houses and the traits each embodied.

Finally, when the Sorting Hat came to a crescendo and a grand finale, McGonagall took point once again and started calling names. Even if she was the Head of Gryffindor House, Professor McGonagall had always been one of Kiera’s favorite teachers. The no-funny-business strict attitude in tandem with her in depth descriptions of the complex subject that was Transfiguration had drawn her in. Kiera had more respect for the teachers who didn’t tolerate goofing off, including Professor Snape. McGonagall’s very presence demanded attention and she’d reprimand you if you slipped out of step.

It was McGonagall that had helped Kiera through her journey to become an Animagus after getting approval from Dumbledore. She had expressed interest to the professor about the process and given how exceptionally Kiera had done throughout her 5 years at Hogwarts, McGonagall had relented and agreed that it would be a worthy challenge for her. Though, McGonagall certainly wouldn’t approve of Kiera secretly guiding Cedric to become an Animagus.

Whatever, I doubt he’ll be able to accomplish it anyways, she thought as the last of the first years were Sorted. After they all had taken their seats, food blossomed on the tables. Serving ware was beladden with the magnificent feast, including favorites of Kiera’s. She’d never been fond of exceedingly heavy food (as most English food was) and opted for carrots roasted in honey, some white fish baked in a lemon sauce, and fresh steamed broccoli. Cassius piled loads of mashed garlic potato onto his plate, filling half of the circumference with the white mass.

“Rowle,” Pansy Parkinson drew her attention across the table, looking down her puggish nose with interest. “I heard you rode up to the castle with Diggory.”

“What of it?” Kiera asked, disinterestedly. She wasn’t one for gossip, but Pansy had made it obvious in her three years there that she loved to gather information on others so she could use it against them.

“Since when have the two of you been so chummy?”

“We haven’t. If Pucey and Warrington didn’t abandon me, I might have rode with them,” she retorted sternly.

“Diggory called her over, actually,” Cassius blathered.

“Don’t talk with food in your mouth, it’s unattractive,” Kiera snapped, glaring at him. That’s just what she needed. Pansy Parkinson had brought unnecessary attention to her, especially when she would be hanging out with Cedric to study.

Pansy arched a brow. “Really? What for?”

“Nothing really. You know how Hufflepuffs are, always friendly and making certain you don’t think ill of them,” she replied easily.

“Last year Diggory kept borrowing quills from her,” Cassius told Pansy excitedly, having swallowed all of his food now, though a bit of mashed potatoes was still clinging stubbornly to his face. “I don’t think he really needed them. I think he has it for Rowle.”

“Or I was the nearest, well prepared peer. I don’t think he was going to ask you when you’re often sleeping on your parchment,” Kiera quipped.

“Rowle is probably right,” Pansy agreed, making Kiera relax if only too early. “Why would Diggory be interested in someone like her? No offense, Rowle, but you’re probably the most boring Slytherin I know.”

Kiera frowned, glancing down at her modest plate of mostly vegetables and fish. Boring? Her cheeks flushed at this and she glared at her food as if it’d been the one that insulted her. Kiera had done her best to blend into the background, but she wouldn’t consider herself boring. “You don’t know me,” her voice was barely above a whisper, a nasty sensation chasing away her appetite. She had done this to herself, estranging her from the rest of the house. Kiera liked to keep to herself. She had thought Pucey and Warrington were the only friends she really needed. Why did she feel so offended by Pansy’s words?

Because she thinks that Diggory could never be interested in me, Kiera realized, smug with the knowledge that the other Slytherins would be seeing her a lot more with him, even if it was only to study. With no appetite, Kiera lazily listened to conversation, gazing across the hall toward the Hufflepuff table. Part of her was jealous that everyone seemed so happy, chittering excitedly over what they had done during the summer.

Eventually, the feast came to a close and Dumbledore took the podium, drawing the attention of both student and faculty.

“Good evening, and welcome to Hogwarts of Witchcraft and Wizardry, for all new and returning students. This year, I would like to introduce our newest addition to our professors: Alastor Moody, who is our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” the man which Dumbledore gestured to was quite... strange. Many wizards were, but Moody was exceptionally odd. He had a magical eye swiveling around, secured by a leather strap around his head. His hair was wild and messy, a stump leg hidden beneath the table. Murmurs rose as a gentle wave amongst the students, discussing ’Mad-Eye’s history as an Auror. “As many, have no doubt begun hearing, this year will be a little different from usual. Hogwarts shall be hosting the Triwizard Tournament, a competition between wizarding schools. Competing against us is Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. A single candidate will be chosen from each school to participate in multiple events. It has been hundreds of years since the last tournament, due to the dangerous nature of the events.

“However, as a method to bring together very different witches and wizards, we have been working with the Ministry of Magic to take necessary precautions to continue the tournament. This being said, no one younger than seventeen can enter the competition. The winners will receive the prestige of the title of Champion of the Triwizard Tournament and 1,000 Galleons-” these words sparked like flint against stone. A gentle uproar against the age restriction vexed many of the students that had been considering entering. Dumbledore wrapped up after the commotion calmed down and went through the typical do’s and don’ts around the grounds.

First years were instructed to go with the Prefects and the other students to return to their house common rooms.

“Seventeen! You think that we’re going to have to enter soon?” Cassius asked frantically as they started down the hall.

“Probably within a month or so, I’d expect,” Adrian pointed out. “Kiera you’re turning 17 soon, aren’t you?”

“September 13th,,” she nodded. “Not that Cassius remembered. Last year his present to me was a set of old cuff links. He thought girls use cufflinks...”

“You’ll be able to enter then! Are you going to? You’re smart, you’d probably do well,” Cassius blathered excitedly, deflecting from her insult.

“Do I look like Champion material?” she inquired, arching a brow at him.

“Not with that attitude,” Cassius scowled. “You might as well enter, because you’ll be old enough. You’re probably the best bet all of the Slytherin has in getting a Champion. Who else could we rally behind... Flint?”

Adrian groaned at the thought.

“I’ll consider it... At the very least,” Kiera admitted, but she was more than considering it. After what Pansy had said, she was intending on entering her name in the competition... Even if her chances were slim to none in being elected. The most boring Slytherin? Just because she was quiet didn’t mean she was boring. She was an Animagus and one of the most talented students in her year! Why did it grind her gears so much?

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