chapter one- A Secret Place
BEGINNING OF VOL. I “A Secret Place”
~BEGINNING OF THE FOURTH YEAR~
“You cheated on me with Diggory?” Draco’s back was pressed up against the leather sofa in the Slytherin common room.
Grey eyes struck Pansy as she reacted with a pointless scoff. She and Malfoy were hardly official. Whatever they had over the summer shouldn’t have meant anything. It wasn’t her fault that her father was forced to have Amos Diggory over for dinner one night and Cedric happened to be strung along.
Draco never took the time to visit her the entire summer. She assumed it meant a pause—a break.
But still, his jaw clenched and unclenched through the shadows of flickering flames that danced in the fireplace. Betrayal ran rampant through his apprehensive gaze.
“Diggory clearly has his sights on someone else,” she rested her hands on her hips, pacing in front of him, “so I assume it won’t be a problem?”
The blonde ran his tongue along the inside of his mouth, trying to find an urge to not yell so late at night. It was second until he was in front of her, his large frame towering over the girl who remained unfazed.
“If you think I’m ever going to be a second choice for the likes of you,” Draco sneered into her face, “you’ve never been more wrong.”
Her hand instantly came to his forearm, “Draco, you know that not how I—”
“I don’t need you anymore, Parkinson,” he shook his head, cocking it to the side as his finger hooked her chin up, “I can’t imagine how you felt watching Diggory parade around Morningstar today... what a pity."
Her mind instantly flashed back to the courtyard this afternoon. Magnolia Morningstar had been seen with Cedric’s arm slung over her shoulder as if he actually gave a fuck about her.
Her face came out of Draco’s hold as she sniffled away.
“I guess you know how it’s like to be the ‘second choice’ to everyone then,” her mouth quirked into a frown as he began to walk to his dorm. “Maybe now you will learn how to share.”
Draco spoke over his shoulder, the outline of his back casting a large shadow across the room. “We all know I don’t like to share, Parkinson.”
He left, leaving the devious girl to her thoughts that would gnaw on her brain for the remainder of the year.
As for Malfoy, he determined he hated being a romantic.
“So...” A kiss. “fucking...” Another. “good...” Another. “and all..” One more. “mine...”
“I still can’t believe Harry’s name came out of the Goblet!” Hermione exclaimed towards her roommates, “Who would do something like this? More importantly, how did they do it?”
She was fixing her pillowcase as she stood next to her bed. Two 4th years and a 3rd year shared a dormitory.
The girls were almost done getting ready for the day’s classes and were still perplexed by their best friend, Harry’s current situation.
“My bets on You-Know-Who,” Ginny added in, as she brushed the ends of her straight red hair.
“Voldemort can’t be behind this. No way,” Magnolia stated while she sat crossed-legged on her twin bed, organizing different sheets of parchment that had been assigned, “besides, the other schools wouldn’t dare to work for him while Dumbledore is here.”
“Quarrel did, Ron’s rat did, I did—” Ginny argued.
“He manipulated you. You didn’t mean to.” Hermione shot back, “Plus, this year, we have two other schools who could’ve—”
“What if it was Malfoy?” Magnolia interrupted.
A silence followed.
“You don’t seriously think a student could be behind this, do you, Lia?” Hermione took a seat at their small desk. The Weasley sister and Miss Granger stared at their roommate, whose bed lay in the middle.
“He’s such an obvious choice. Slytherin, pureblood, Hogwarts’ token bigot, and his father was even rumored to be a death eater! It makes sense,” Magnolia huffed before examining the reactions of her friends.
Draco Malfoy had been harassing Morningstar and her friends for as long as they could remember.
Harry had almost gotten into a fight with him at the Quidditch World Cup this past summer. It’s a good thing Ron was there to hold him back.
“Even if it was him, we can’t just go spitting out accusations. We need proof,” Hermione sighed.
The three of them pondered in silence for a couple of moments.
“I’m sure the topic of who put Harry’s name in the Goblet is hardly relevant to you, Lia, not after the Quidditch world cup...” Ginny trailed off, a sly smile upon her features.
Lia’s eyes widened, “You promised you wouldn’t mention it to anyone—”
“Cedric Diggory is another one of Hogwarts’ champions, I’m sure you’re thrilled,” Ginny rolled her eyes playfully, climbing into bed as blowing out her candle. “Has he said anything to you yet?”
Lia grasped onto the faint memory from this summer where she lay outside the Weasley’s tent, bottle in hand with Cedric right next to her.
It was a blur; for the most part, her memory was hazy by clouds of inebriation. But there were district situations she did remember: dancing around the room hand-in-hand with Hermione and Ginny, drowning in the firewhiskey that Fred had so generously and irresponsibly put into her hands, and a midnight kiss.
A kiss with Cedric Diggory was sneered onto her lips and mind since the way it happened.
They didn’t have much time to talk about it the next day as they watched the game in separate boxes. However, distant stares along with hidden smiles across the field were noted to both of them.
Then the Death Eaters attacked. He wrote her the rest of the summer.
“He caught me during our afternoon block,” Lia let out a quick smile as she cradled a pillow to her chest and looked out the window, “I’m not going to say anything yet. Besides, if he really was interested, he will ask me to the ball... Have you two thought about dates?”
“I’ll take myself if I must,” Ginny grinned, blowing out her bedside candle as well. “The last thing I need is a man on my arm—”
“Lia and I will be your date,” Hermione’s brows bounced as she shut her eyes and rolled to the side. “I’m sure Harry and Ron can figure themselves out...”
Tension between Ron and Harry had brewed in the boy’s dormitories for the past few days leading up to the first task. The Weasley’s insecure and repugnant behavior was frowned upon in the past days.
“Goodnight, girls,” Lia’s hand shielded her flame before gusting a breath and smothering it. “Love you.”
“Love you too.”
They drifted into a slumber.
There were changes in the air this year. As they climbed further and further into adolescence, the issues of teenage hormones, romance, and drama would add on to the plate of another year of danger at Hogwarts.
“I heard Marcus Flint picked a fight with you in class today?” Lia walked next to Cedric, nudging him with her elbow blandly. “Fred might’ve mentioned it to me.”
Lia’s head tilted to the side as she turned to him, using all her energy to try not to be too bubbly.
“I might have to go see McGonagall for counseling,” he chuckled, crossing his hands over his chest, “It’s hardly the beginning of the year, and the Slytherins are starting a fight-”
“Slytherin prejudice I see,” her eyes widened with a sarcastic sigh of offense, “I could not see why you’d ever think that...”
“You know how they can be,” he groaned, putting his arm over her as he snatched her books from her hands, “Let me.”
He seemed like a perfect gentleman.
Cedric had been so kind to her ever since she got to Hogwarts in her first year while he was in his third. He helped her in her classes, covered for her to pass as a pureblood, helped hide her tracks when Ron, Harry, and Hermione were up to no good, and taught her how to stun in her third year.
He was so perfect in her eyes. He could do no wrong.
“Speaking of Slytherins...” she trailed off, noticing the pins that seemed to linger on the chest of every student, “I think the whole school is acting like them right now.”
His brows furrowed, “what is it?”
“Tell all your friends to cut it out with the ‘Potter Stinks’ pins,” she sighed and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, “Harry’s in my year. He’s two years younger and--”
“I have been telling them to, but-” Cedric announced in a defensive groan.
She narrowed her gaze at him, “I’m serious, Ced.”
Brave for her to talk to him in such a tone... Her chin was up; a proudly raised brow with an unamused glare accompanied it. It never struck her that he was significantly older, and a prefect at that. But she knew better than to have blind faith in her superiors.
He kept his gaze on her for a moment. Their stare unending until he broke the silence, “You should’ve been in Hufflepuff. You’re kind. Loyal.”
Flattery. How charming.
“So will you ask them to lay off?” her books returned into her tedious grasp; she could get back to her class by herself. “Don’t be an ass...”
He grimaced at her humorous tone, “Do you really think so low of me?”
She squinted her eyes at him before turning around, not saying another word before he pulled her back with a touch of her arm. She faced him, still unsatisfied with his indirect answer.
If this was her version of flirting, it was surely working.
“I’ll tell them to stop,” he nodded in understanding as he let her go, ”anything for you, Lia.”
It felt like the imprint of his warm hands were still upon her wrist. His doe eyes made her stomach churn as she noticed some of her peers begin to scurry off in every direction to get to class.
She held her books close to her chest as she tilted her head to the side and let out a bright smile, ”good.”
Pansy Parkinson stood with Milicent Bulstrode and Daphne Greengrass as if they were dark clouds looming to downpour on a sunny day. Pansy’s lips curled into a frown as she scolded herself for letting Cedric out of her sight during the World Cup.
“You’re going to start drooling, Parkinson,” Blaise tapped her shoulder as he cocked his brow. “Why don’t we get you a cup of tea and ditch Trelawny’s with me today? I imagine you’ll need a distraction soon...”
Daphne and Millicent exchanged a look with the girl then to Blaise, who wore a gallant expression. He always knew how to cheer a girl up.
“Shouldn’t you be parading around with Malfoy?” She crossed her arms as Cedric disappeared into a classroom behind them.
“That’s what Crabbe and Goyle are for,” he shrugged, “come on.”
Divination, then potions.
The class in itself was a headache. It took all of Magnolia’s energy just to be in the same room as Snape. Her interaction with Cedric was a reliable pick-me-up before her last class of the day. Now, she was back to her mundane agenda.
“So Hagrid told you the first task was dragons?” Magnolia whispered to Harry, who was sitting next to her, “Doesn’t Charlie work with them?”
Hermione’s eyes glanced across the room to meet an angsty, worth-while gaze. Why were the boys so dramatic?
Ronald Weasley was a touchy subject. All Lia and Hermione could ask for at this point were for the two boys to make up.
The red-head was convinced that Harry had put his name in the Goblet because he wanted more attention. No one said being the best friend of one of the most famous wizards was gonna be easy.
“There’s a Hungarian Horntail that I saw-”
"But those are-” Hermione was cut off.
“Deadly vicious. I know,” Harry finished as he dipped his quill in some more ink to give Snape the illusion they were working.
Her friends continued their hushed dialogue as she touched her neck, small flashbacks of her hazy dream resurfacing. She quickly snapped out of it.
“I still can’t wrap my head around Dumbledore allowing you to do this. It’s too dangerous,” Lia stopped as she heard her potions teacher’s footsteps from behind her.
“Five points from Gryffindor, Miss Morningstar,” Snape’s voice was unamused, “Next to... Crabbe, do you mind?”
Perhaps this was karma finding a way to bite her in the ass after her conversation with Cedric.
Snape cleared his throat.
Excuses bounced in the dense region of her mind. She could fake an illness or ask to go to the bathroom. Suddenly, a trip to Madame Pomfrey’s didn’t seem too bad.
She would do anything to distract her from the fact that she was about to be undoubtedly fucked by her peers, who hated her for being Harry’s friend.
She looked up at him, staring smugly at her before he raised his brows, expecting a response.
"Of course not, Professor,” she flashed a sarcastic smile.
Hermione and Harry shot each other a look of reluctance before Magnolia closed her book and stood up from her seat. The Slytherins whispered boisterously to each other as the lone Gryffindor took a seat between the large boy and Miss Parkinson. Out of anyone in their house, Pansy was the one person she couldn’t stand.
Crabbe’s chair squeaked as he shifted his weight a little further away from her.
“Don’t know why you’re friends with Granger, that filthy mudblood,” Draco spat, arrogance exuding off of every word he said. “Honestly, don’t know how you ended up in Gryffindor either, Morningstar, you’d do so much better in Slytherin.”
Lia’s jaw clenched. She could only hope Hermione couldn’t hear this.
Draco, along with everyone else at the table, was under the impression that Magnolia was a pureblood, the daughter of a family who worked for the ministry who came from a line of Slytherins who had died in the wizarding war. She was an orphan in their eyes. Little did he know, ‘Morningstar’ was the last name of her muggle father, but they didn’t need to know that.
She lived under a false and ignorant assumption, never confirming or denying the fact that she was not the baby who survived the fire that burned down her family home.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Draco, we all know she wouldn’t be able to handle it,” Pansy added as she put her hand on top of the young Malfoy’s.
Lia could hardly notice the visible tension between the two as Draco pulled his hand away.
The absence of his cold, ringed hands made Pansy’s rash insecurities rise to her cheeks. Her skin was hot as Draco realized what he’d done.
Pansy didn’t particularly enjoy Malfoy speaking to another girl-- Magnolia conveniently appeared to be the same person Cedric had left her for. A misfortune that would turn into a catastrophe.
“Cool it, Parkinson,” Blaise leaned back in his chair, relaxed from the rendezvous only a block earlier.
Magnolia knew responding to them was what would give them satisfaction. After a few years of going to school with them, she kept her mouth shut, but the sound of Pansy’s voice visibly irritated her.
She found comfort in Harry’s apologetic stare from a few tables away. He twitched the corner of his mouth as if to say sorry before returning to his work.
“I heard her father was a big supporter of You-Know-Who,” Goyle spoke up, referring to Lia. The rest of his speech was zoned out by her.
Their conversation was louder than Hermione and Harry a couple of minutes ago. Snape seemed unbothered, especially with his obvious bias towards his house.
How was she so ill-fated to have Malfoy and Snape in the same block?
They spoke about her as if she wasn’t there. When it came to their interactions with this friend group, Magnolia never spoke up. It was always Harry, Ron, or even Hermione to give him a reaction. Hermione punched him last year, but he could never seem to get a reaction out of the girl.
“I bet Potter won’t last five minutes in the tournament,” Draco knew if talking about Lia herself wasn’t enough to get a word out of her, talking about her friends would.
She rolled her eyes, “I wish you were in the tournament so you wouldn’t make it out--”
“Class dismissed,” Snape said from the back of the classroom, and students began to pack up.
Hastily, she brought her belongings close to her chest, a habit she had picked up if she was around their clique for too long.
“What the hell did you say, Morningstar?” his cocky attitude did him no favors.
"Nothing, Draco,” she tried to pick up her things, but Harry was already behind her, helping her carry her books.
“It’s Malfoy to you.”
“Leave her alone,” Harry had helped Lia up and was leading her out of the classroom as Draco shouted insults practically down the hallway, “don’t listen to that git.”
“Morningstar!” Pansy’s sweet voice didn’t correspond to her actions as she shoved Harry out of the way. “Don’t mind us, Potter. Just a little heart to heart between girlfriends...”
Lia’s eyes widened as her arm was intertwined with Pansy’s, both of them getting out of the classroom and going to the hall.
Harry stood with both their books in hand, Draco shoving the shorter boy out of the way with his shoulder.
“Word of advice,” Draco turned around, running his tongue across the front of his teeth with an amused bounce of his brows, “Parkinson’s is going to sic her if she hasn’t already.”
Draco’s mission to irritate his former fling had taken Lia in as a casualty of his petty war. But to care was above him-- not unless it was in his favor as well.