And there she was.
Lit by the dim light coming from the splintered sliding glass door, a woman with dark brown hair lay on the floor without movement or color. Severus could only stare at her.
It was the second time within the decade Severus Snape had seen the dead body of someone he loved. The first time for a lover, this time for a friend.
Around Severus there was a bookcase on the ground surrounded by glass and a curtain torn into pieces near the window. The couch was out of place, upside down, and ripped. Shredded papers were strewn about and the light fixture had burst, sparking to give just enough light to the bloodstains leading down the hallway.
Dumbledore, who was standing beside Severus, took a step forward. “Andrew—”
“She’s dead,” came the firm voice of a man sitting next to the body. He was staring at the woman with a blue gaze that was full of plans and calculation. In fact, it looked as if the man was staring off into space.
“And the children?” Dumbledore asked.
“Alive,” Andrew said, “but as always they came with an unforeseeable advantage.”
“Who?” Severus demanded. It was an effort to keep his voice even as he remembered Adrianna—the dead woman in front of him—squaring off with the insanity that was Bellatrix Lestrange. The deranged witch had condemned this family that day, despite the lack of one at the time.
“Lestrange,” Andrew spoke. The confirmation made Severus grow tense. “Lestrange and that mutt, Greyback. I assume he came to get back at me.”
“Can you tell us what happened?” Dumbledore said, talking to the Ravenclaw like he was a student at Hogwarts again. Andrew sighed and staggered to his feet. From that movement alone, Severus could tell the bloodstains on the carpet just to the left of them belonged to the Ravenclaw in the room.
“Follow me,” he said, limping forward. “I will have to be brief. The Ministry will be on their way as soon as they notice the Dark Mark.” Severus scoffed as they followed him.
“The one you conjured, no doubt?” he spat bitterly. Greyback didn’t have the brains or the authority and to Bellatrix, this was personal. Andrew stopped closer to the Potions Master, gazing at him.
“I had to,” he told them as any Ravenclaw would tell a fact. “It was the only way to stop the Ministry from sticking their noses where they don’t belong. If they just think it is some stray Death Eater attack on a well-off magical family—"
“A lie,” Severus hissed. “Lestrange has been planning this for years. But I suppose you have some reason to let the wizarding world believe Adrianna was weaker than a few petty Death Eaters.”
“Come now, Severus—” Dumbledore attempted
But Severus refused to be placated. “You may have been a genius at school, but even you could hardly deny her wellbeing was not the only thing you concerned yourself with when you heard this might happen.”
“Why would I deny it?” Andrew asked, that familiar ferocious gaze the only indication of his irritation. Otherwise, this all seemed like a huge inconvenience and that was all. “I did not know her as long as you did nor did I marry her specifically for love, but what does that matter? Considering your choice of ‘friends,’ I would think you would at least understand the importance of family ties.” Severus glared at him. This Ravenclaw was pushing his patience. A lot.
“Andrew,” Dumbledore said without raising his voice even a bit. “Where are the children?” Andrew’s gaze broke from Severus’s and turned to the Headmaster.
Without a word he moved past both professors, limping into the other room. Severus followed him into a large bedroom decorated with green and silver. A bed was in the corner with dressers and other normal furniture. In the middle of the room, however, were four very different figures.
“I had to make them sleep; the shock would have done them more harm than good,” Andrew explained, shuffling over to their side.
Taking a closer look, Severus saw what they were. While a normal five year old lay sprawled out on the far right with blood smeared on her face, three creatures were beside her. A young white canine no larger than a normal-sized book was in the middle, while a gray foal on its side breathed next to the pup, taking up much of the space with its disproportionally long legs.
Finally he came to the third creature, a black snake. Whatever flames ate at him before turned to ice as he gazed upon the animal of his Hogwarts house. Imagining the young girl in her human form—the spitting image of her mother—he thought, Amanda.
Severus could still remember visiting Adrianna just once at St. Mungo’s, where she had been for a few weeks once it was known there was not one, not two, but three children ready to be born. With Adrianna being on the smaller side, Severus had heard the birth hadn’t gone well at all, but that was not the reason he had shown up. It was a letter delivered by owl to which asked him to witness the changing of inheritance from Elena, Adrianna’s oldest daughter, to her second oldest, Amanda. Severus had been ready to warn Adrianna for choosing so soon, but Andrew had stopped him in the hallway, explaining the form Amanda was to take when she grew. Severus had known at that point that Adrianna was not changing her mind.
Andrew knelt next to the foal, staring once again with those calculations and plans.
“They had a few years left at least for this to happen naturally, so I refrained from telling them about it. At such a young age, being in these forms for a year could alter their personalities and growth in ways even I can’t predict.”
“What, dare I ask, caused the curse to react with them so early?” Dumbledore asked. “And why has your youngest stayed the same?” Andrew sighed with fire dancing in his eyes. The man didn’t even have to speak to tell Severus he was thinking of the werewolf the Ravenclaw had so often fought during the war.
“Greyback attacked her,” the man said. “From what I could tell, her older sisters just answered their instinct. Greyback was unconscious the next thing I knew. Judging by the breed of snake Amanda is, she was the one that did it.”
Severus asked, “What of Bellatrix?”
“After I saw Greyback on the floor I searched for her, but she was gone. She got what she came for,” Andrew answered. As he continued staring at the foal, Severus caught a few emotions flitting behind the machine that was Andrew Coppin.
“What is it you called us for? They do not seem injured or in any immediate harm,” Dumbledore said, his grandfatherly tone sending irritation through Snape’s spine.
Andrew’s gaze raised before he replied, “I need you to keep them from the Notts.”
“What do you mean, my boy?” Dumbledore asked.
“I want them to go to Augusta Longbottom—she knows enough about Adrianna and I to take care of them,” the Ravenclaw explained. “If all goes well, she will even accept Jessica the way she is.” Severus’s eyes narrowed tightly as he set the pieces into place.
“You are a coward,” the potions master stated. “You plan to leave your children with a stranger rather than take care of them yourself.” Not that Severus was truly bothered about the other three, but Andrew was yet again trying to get away with avoiding true responsibility and Amanda needed to be with her relatives.
Andrew’s gaze didn’t falter.
“I cannot take care of these children, Severus. I have creatures to attend to, places to be, plans to figure out—”
“And a limited time to do so,” Severus stated coldly. Andrew’s anger showed full force at that—it looked as if he were ready to bare his teeth and charge at Severus.
“This is not as simple as giving normal children to a friend, Andrew,” Dumbledore reasoned, speaking before the Ravenclaw had a chance to. “Your children will never be the same as other magical children. If you had to leave them, would it not be more reasonable to give them to someone who knows them?”
“They will be normal enough when they become human again, and I can arrange payments for Wolfsbane for Severus,” Andrew growled back.
“Out of Adrianna’s vaults, no doubt,” Severus said.
“She was not the only one born into influential bloodlines, if you don’t remember,” Andrew said lowly. His eyes reminded Severus of an eagle’s. A very spineless, pathetic eagle.
“Is your hatred of the Nott family so significant that you would deny them their nieces?” Dumbledore asked. Andrew scoffed.
“If that family was not a bunch of Death Eaters, I wouldn’t even consider taking them to Augusta,” the Ravenclaw hissed. “I will not have Audrey or any of them raised like those murderers no matter what clever scheme you have set up for their future if they were to be raised there, especially so soon after the war.”
“What of Amanda?” Snape asked at last. “Adrianna wanted her to grow into the expectation of carrying on her Pureblood—”
“I know very well what she wanted,” Andrew interrupted. His voice had grown cold now. “However, I will not make exceptions. These three must stay together, no matter what Adrianna wished for. If you want Elena to stay there permanently, fine—she isn’t mine anyway. But you know what these three could do and why breaking them apart would be devastating to their potential.”
Severus scoffed, but Dumbledore stopped his retort.
“If it is your wish,” Dumbledore answered.
Severus, tense, asked, “Amanda would at least be allowed to visit the Notts and other Slytherin families, I assume?”
Andrew shrugged. “There isn’t much I can do about that. If you care enough to carry out Adrianna’s wishes in a round-about way, be my guest. I only want them grow up together in a house not infested with Death Eaters.”
“I will do what I must,” Severus answered.
“I appreciate that,” Andrew said stiffly, taking out his wand. He waved it, causing a long glass snake to come floating over. He gently lifted Amanda’s snake form and set her in his pocket. Then he took the flexible clear glass snake and set it on the other three, making sure they were touching it.
“Greyback is in the kitchen,” Andrew said.
He set a hand on the portkey and disappeared.
I don't think I have ever hated one of my own characters so much. Thankfully we don't have to see him for a little while. ;)
I apologize for all the 'A' names.
Also, I solemnly swear the following chapters will be longer. This just needed to end here before a tsunami of bad followed it.
The time had come for a hunt.
In a forest long deserted by wandering humans, there was a clearing that had been claimed by a large herd of deer. With the full moon giving them clarity in the night, they all grazed peacefully. All aside from one small doe whose leg was badly broken.
Behind the trees, something stumbled. Birds flew from their branches. The deer’s heads shot up.
A gray horse barely grown burst from the trees. It neighed and raced through the herd, a look of fear in her eyes. The deer paused, but two long howls had them racing after the horse.
The horse moved closer to the injured doe, who sprang on three legs, fighting to keep going. Behind them matching growls grew closer, so the herd hurried into the trees on the other side and split.
Deeper into the forest they went, listening to the snarling that drew closer. The injured doe stumbled, and the horse slowed, neighing. The doe struggled, but before it could stand a black snake struck its leg, and the doe fell again. It squealed, squirming to its feet just as a brown figure smashed straight into it. The brown wolf—a werewolf, judging by its shorter snout and tail—killed it swiftly with a bite to the neck, and in seconds, the injured doe was out of its misery.
A smaller white wolf bounced into view, barking with the rush of the chase in her veins. The werewolf growled, taking the first bite of its kill. The white wolf paid no attention to the fresh meat, however, and was instead following a neat scent that led away from the group. The snake found a rock to curl up on, and the gray horse grazed on the green undergrowth beneath the trees.
Hours later, when dawn came, the four creatures made it to the edge of the forest. The snake and white wolf shifted into their human forms in just a few smooth seconds before they watched the werewolf’s less elegant transformation. When she, too, was in human form, she fell like a sack of flour. The sisters caught their unconscious sister before she hit the muddy ground and hoisted her onto the back of the gray horse.
“Hey, don’t give me all the weight!” the one who was the snake, Amanda, exclaimed.
“I’m not!” the other cried back under the strain of their sister.
With both girls keeping the youngest on the horse, they walked on, trekking to the house in the distance. By the time the sun completely announced its presence, they had passed the wards and were at the front door of the house.
“We’re home!” Amanda announced as she burst through the door.
“Be quiet, Amanda!” hissed the other girl, Delilah, as she carefully slid their little sister off the horse. “Gran might be asleep! You know how she gets during the full moon!”
“Yeah, yeah,” Amanda said, waving her off. The horse transformed, brushing herself off before helping Delilah.
“She’s right,” Audrey—the one who had been the horse—said, using a quiet voice. Amanda rolled her eyes as she watched her sisters carry the werewolf into the house and onto the couch.
“Welcome back!” exclaimed one of the house elves as they trotted in. Down the hallway, a pudgy black haired boy that entered the room as quietly as a mouse. The house elf went on, “Did the full moon go well?”
Delilah’s eyes brightened. “Guess what I—!”
“It was boring,” Amanda sighed, crossing her arms as the two house elves appeared through the kitchen and checked on the unconscious girl on the couch. “I downed another doe. Easy. The rest of the night was just waiting around.”
“No scratches, no bruises!” exclaimed one of the house elves with a wide smile.
“See? It was a very uninteresting moon,” Amanda sighed.
One of the house elves gave a snap of her fingers and the werewolf rose from the couch, her head falling since she was still unconscious.
The two elves went through the hallway, disappearing into a room to which the door had a very large ‘Enter at your own risk’ sign on the door.
A black owl fluttered into the room, hooting.
“Er, Audrey,” Neville said, stepping forward, “Gran said to feed him extra because of how much he has had to fly lately.”
“I know, I know,” Audrey said with a dismissive gesture. “He can wait for a few hours—I need some sleep first.”
“I’m tired too,” Delilah admitted.
“Oh,” Neville said, lowering his head. “I-I was hoping one of you could help practice more before tomorrow. . .”
“How many times do I have to tell you that there is no magical test to get into Hogwarts?” Amanda asked. “It makes no sense!”
“You never know,” Delilah pointed out, her pale hazel eyes brightly looking to Amanda. “It never hurts to practice anyway.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not going to practice with you,” Amanda said, turning toward the staircase. “I’m too sleepy.”
“Me too,” Audrey agreed.
“Alright. . .” Neville sighed. “Could we maybe practice later then? When you wake up?”
“Of course, Neville!” Delilah exclaimed. “As soon as we get up!” He smiled at her.
“You can,” Amanda grumbled with a yawn. Delilah rolled her eyes before dashing past Audrey up the stairs.
By the time the three of them woke up, Gran ordered them to stay inside for whatever reason. After that, dinner was ready. Neville picked at his food, though Audrey and the rest of her sisters wolfed it down. Similar to every meal after the full moon, there was a lot of meat for them and the young werewolf, who ate her meal half asleep before staggering like a troll back to her bedroom.
After dinner, they managed to get only an hour of studying in (as ordered by Gran) before they were sent to bed.
So there, in the dark, after Delilah and Amanda had snuck in to Audrey’s room, they lay in the very large bed whispering about the upcoming train ride to Hogwarts. Jessica, of course, remained asleep, for even if she was going to Hogwarts that year, the full moon had taken too much from her for her to be awake at all.
“What was that one about?” asked Audrey. “I didn’t get the chance to go through that chapter.”
“Eh. I only read about a quarter of the way through it—too much theory for me,” Amanda said with a yawn.
“I’ll be the most ill-prepared witch there,” Audrey said, sighing.
“That’s ridiculous—I bet there are tons of first years that don’t read their textbooks before hand,” Amanda said firmly.
“That is true,” Delilah said through the darkness. “There are plenty of muggle-borns who hardly know what to do with their books and wand after they get it. At least, that’s what Elena told me.”
“But Malfoy said he already knew how to—”
“Are you really going to believe what he has to say?” Delilah asked. “He’s always lying about stuff.”
“Hey, that’s my future husband you’re talking about!” Amanda said as quietly as she could. Delilah rolled her eyes. Audrey could practically see the teasing grin on her face.
“Yeah, right,” the wolf girl said.
“Why else would he come over every single time we go to Uncle—?”
“Shh!” Audrey suddenly hissed. Amanda clamped her mouth shut as she heard the creaking of the floors. Barely breathing, the three of them waited for the footsteps to fade away, all staring at the door.
“We should be quieter,” Audrey spoke. “Gran won’t let us go if she finds us all in here.”
“Obviously,” Amanda muttered. “But what does she expect? We’re going to school tomorrow!”
“Be quiet, remember?” Audrey hissed.
“Okay, mother!” Amanda snapped back.
“I wonder what it will be like,” Delilah spoke with that dreamy tone, “You know, with classes and everything. I hope we get into the same house like the Weasley family—it would be so weird not being with you guys.”
“Well I’m going to be in Slytherin, and since none of you want to be in Slytherin, I doubt that’s going to happen,” Amanda pointed out.
“I never said I didn’t want to go into Slytherin—I actually think I belong in Slytherin,” Audrey protested. Amanda scoffed, opening her mouth, but their other sister interrupted them.
“I think I want to be in Gryffindor,” Delilah answered. “But who knows? Gran said you don’t always go where you want to go.”
“I wonder if anyone will be in Ravenclaw with Elena?” Audrey asked.
“I sure don’t want to be in there—that sounds like a lot of work,” Amanda said. “I mean really, who wants to—?”
“Shh!” hissed Audrey at once, hearing that creaking sound again. When she listened closer, however, she was almost certain the sound came from the house elves. It was much quieter.
The next morning was a blur for Audrey. Like any time they went somewhere, it was a mix of hair-brushing, rushing around, and a lot of shouting about because the person you needed was always at the opposite end of the house and there were always three people between you and where you needed to go. They hurried around going over lists out loud, remembering last minute things, and gathering their school supplies all while somehow finding a minute or two to eat breakfast.
Audrey had packed earlier, so her trunk was already in the living area by the time they were supposed to leave. Same with Delilah, though their wolf sister (the human one, not the werewolf) was constantly adding little things throughout the morning. Amanda was ready in terms of being packed, but as always she was still messing with her thin but silky nearly black hair.
“The entire school is going to have their eyes on me during the sorting,” she had said when Audrey had commented on it. “I have to look good.”
A few minutes late as always, Audrey glanced out the window whilst waiting for Neville and his Gran to show.
“Did your owl come back yet?” Amanda asked.
“No,” Audrey sighed.
“Oh well…Gran said she would send him over,” Delilah spoke. Audrey shook her head and strode back over to her trunk.
“What’s the point of having an owl if he’s never here?” Audrey said.
Neville came rushing through the hall with his trunk in tow. Gran came in right after the “Enter At Your Own Risk” sign went invisible on Jessica’s door. Audrey turned to pick up her trunk as her sisters did, wordlessly waiting for Gran to gather the floo powder from the cupboard.
“I trust you all remember what to say?” Gran asked, hobbling forward with her usual red handbag and her vulture hat. Audrey caught Delilah wrinkling her nose at it. “Do you all have your tickets?”
As if they would lose them. Audrey knew Delilah had been holding onto hers for a week. They all responded nevertheless, and Gran hurried Neville in first. Nervously, he said the word loud and clear albeit with a face of worry.
It took about ten minutes for them all to get to the main muggle walkway, and there were a lot of them. Muggles, that was. Audrey gripped her trolley hard, staying close to Gran and her sisters as she tried to block out all the noise of yelling, boots on concrete, and trains.
“Scared already?” Amanda teased. She pushed her own trolley with ease, always with that prideful spring in her step.
“I don’t like crowds,” Audrey muttered.
“I know that,” Amanda said with a roll of her eyes.
“We’re almost there!” Delilah announced with a skip as they maneuvered past station eight. “Aren’t you both excited?”
“Quiet down, now,” Gran said. “We mustn’t draw any attention to ourselves.”
Not that all of their luggage helped matters, nor the empty owl cage Audrey brought just in case her owl showed up before they got onto the train.
Finally, just as they saw an older boy walk through the wall with their parents, Audrey and her sisters made it to the platform. Audrey and Neville, of course, hesitated.
“Oh, come now, I told you how to get through weeks ago…”
Gran’s muttering was ignored as Amanda rushed toward the wall. Audrey held her breath, but her sister was gone. Delilah went on right after her, vanishing as soon as she hit the bricks.
“You next, Neville,” Gran ordered. His hands white as he gripped his trolley, Neville stared at the bricks only a second before speeding his way through, tripping just as he got to the wall. Audrey heard his grandmother sigh and she tried hard not to imagine the crash which surely happened on the other side.
“I better go see if he is alright,” Gran muttered, and stomped through.
Audrey’s stomach turned at the idea of walking into a wall despite the fact she had done many other logic defying things. Maybe it was instinct, but something within her bellowed at just how wrong running toward hard, solid brick was. No matter how many times she would argue with the knowledge that the brick wasn’t solid at all, that little voice would say otherwise.
So she bolted.
Audrey neither crashed nor tripped, making it smoothly just as Amanda turned around to greet her with impatient eyes.
“Come on,” her sister urged. “Theo and Draco are probably already on the train!”
“How can they be? We’re early!” Neville pointed out.
“We are?” Audrey asked.
“Has the world ended?” Amanda asked, pretending to look around scared. “Hold the owls, folks, the Coppin’s have arrived early! Call the Prophet! Bring in the Aurors! This is obviously the work of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!”
“Amanda!” Gran hissed. Amanda flinched and turned around as Gran went on yelling, “How dare you speak of such things in a place like this!”
“I was only joking,” Amanda pouted.
“I have told you once, and I will tell you again,” Gran said, taking a step forward. Audrey’s head lowered as she gazed at her sister. “Never joke about You-Know-Who, especially with other witches and wizards around!”
“Yes, Gran…” Amanda sulked.
“Now hurry along—we may be early, but you better find a seat while you can.” Gran said.
With Amanda’s mood officially ruined, they went forward into yet another crowd of people. As the elderly lady led them, Audrey fell behind to Amanda, who was scowling and staring at her hands as they walked, thoroughly ignoring Delilah.
“It’s just because of Neville’s parents, you know that,” Delilah was saying, giving her pouting sister a small smile.
“I thought that was really funny,” Audrey offered from the other side of Amanda. Her sister lifted her head.
“Was it?” Amanda asked.
Audrey opened her mouth to respond just as she heard a familiar boy call out, “Amanda! Over here!”
“Theo!” Amanda called. She set her gaze on Gran, who had stopped along with the rest of them. “Can I…?”
“Oh, go ahead,” she said. “Just make sure you and your things get on the train, or you will be joining Jessica next year instead.” Amanda nodded.
“Yes, Gran. Thank you, Gran!” Amanda exclaimed. She turned and gazed at Delilah and Audrey.
“I think I’ll get on the train over here,” Audrey said, not particularly wanting to be with Draco or Theo that day
“Me too,” Deliliah spoke. “We probably couldn’t all fit in a compartment anyway.” Amanda rolled her eyes.
“Sticks in the mud,” she teased, then turned and waved quickly, yelling over her shoulder, “See you at Hogwarts!”
Audrey really didn’t know how she, Neville, and Delilah managed to find a compartment. It was packed on the platform, as they were not quite early enough to avoid the unpredictable crowds. So they had headed straight for the train, letting the crew take their luggage while bidding Gran a quick good-bye before they were rushed into the train and forced to keep moving by incoming students.
They had picked the first empty compartment they saw, sitting down just five minutes before the train was set to leave. Thankfully, with the door closed, it was much quieter than outside the train.
“Finally, peace and quiet!” Audrey exclaimed, leaning back on the cozy chairs.
“Just a few more minutes!” Delilah exclaimed, grinning from ear to ear as she stared out the window. Having never ridden on a train, Audrey knew her sister was just as excited for the ride there as she was to go to Hogwarts, so she had let her sister take the window seat.
“Can you see Amanda or Theodore?” Audrey asked as she watched Neville peering out the window as best he could.
“No,” Delilah said. “I think I see the Weasleys, though; the twins are helping a boy onto the train. Muggle-born, it looks like.”
“Can you imagine what next year is going to be like, with those two and Jessica together at Hogwarts?” Audrey asked.
“It is going to be a very rough year for the teachers, I think,” Delilah giggled. Neville nodded in agreement.
The compartment door opened.
The three of them twisted around, finding a bushy haired girl with a proud stance staring at them intently.
“Hello,” she said. “Can I stay here? Everywhere else seems to be full.”
Delilah and Audrey looked at each other, thinking the same thing: Amanda wasn’t going to show up anytime soon, so why not?
“Sure,” they said together.
“Thank you!” the girl said, stepping in and taking a seat beside Neville. “I’m Hermione Granger.”
“I’m Audrey Coppin,” Audrey replied, relaxing as Hermione moved her attention onto Delilah, who said her name quickly.
“Are you two twins?” Hermione asked after Neville had told her his name. Audrey nodded.
“Well, actually, we’re triplets,” Audrey said, the second part of the sentence coming out with obvious practice. “Our sister Amanda is with our cousin.”
“Really? I don’t think I’ve ever met triplets before,” Hermione spoke, her eyes brightening up like a firework. “Are you identical? You two look an awful lot alike.” Audrey opened her mouth to reply, but the young witch continued on, saying, “I’ve met quite a few twins before, of course, but never identical. What’s it like to have triplet sisters? I bet you have loads of fun together.”
“It’s like having your best friend with you all the time, and no, we’re not identical. We just look a lot alike,” Audrey answered, cutting the witch off. She was afraid Hermione would start asking the other obvious questions like who was the oldest and how much older was each of them. For extra protection, the equine Coppin diverted, “Are you a muggle-born or a half-blood?”
“Muggle-born, as you say—it was a lovely surprise when I found out. I made sure to read all the course books, of course, and I even picked up a few others just in case. One of them was about the older magical families. I haven’t heard of the name Coppin before—”
“Our dad was raised by muggle-born parents,” Delilah said. “Our mother was the pureblood—her name was Arisio.” The bushy-haired girl seemed to turn her nose up.
“I heard that family was a rich Slytherin family,” she said. Not in a bratty way, but. . .well, when Audrey really thought of it, she had said it in a bratty way. “I wouldn’t go spreading that around—I read that the Slytherin house is notorious for raising dark witches and wizards, including the most recent one, You-Know-Who. Not a lot of people would like hearing that your family is Slytherin—”
“Our cousin’s family has Slytherin parents,” Audrey said, “and they’re decent people.”
“Oh, I’m not saying everyone from Slytherin turns dark, I have just been noticing that a lot of other people look down on the Slytherin house because of it. I would much rather be in a house like Gryffindor, where there are wizards like Albus Dumbledore.” Delilah gave Audrey a look that she saw from the corner of her eye. A look that Audrey took to mean, Just wait until Amanda hears this.
“Well, I think Gryffindors are loud and obnoxious,” Audrey said before she could stop herself.
“Do you have Gryffindors in your family too?” Hermione asked. She didn’t seem to notice Audrey’s sharp tone.
“No, our sister is friends with twins who belong to a Gryffindor family,” Delilah said. “We see them occasionally.”
“M-my mum and dad were from Gryffindor,” Neville put in at last like a mouse reaching for the cheese on the trap. “They worked for Dumbledore.”
“True,” Audrey agreed, having completely forgotten about that. She fidgeted, hoping Neville didn’t take her comment from before to heart.
“Do you think you will get into Gryffindor?” Delilah asked.
Hermione opened her mouth just as the train gave a small lurch, inching forward as it gained speed.
“We’re moving!” Delilah announced excitedly, gazing out the train with those bright green eyes. They sat in silence for a few moments as they watched the people waving from the platform.
“Do you know the history of the Hogwarts Express? I read about it in Hogwarts, A History just weeks ago. There was this Minister—you know, from the Ministry of Magic . .”
And so it went.
Audrey was extremely irritated by Hermione and prayed not every muggle-born was like her. Every time she, Delilah, or Neville would speak, she would have something to say in return that was either a correction or an explanation on what they either knew, or were probably going to learn within the school year.
By the time the train was nearly halfway to Hogwarts, Audrey had taken to reading and Neville had begun shuffling around for Trevor, the toad his uncle had gifted to him after his first bout of accidental magic that occurred a few months after they had moved in. This left Delilah gazing at Hermione with glazed eyes that pleaded “help me.”
“. . . didn’t you read our Herbology textbook? It clearly says on page eight that—”
“Oh no!” Neville exclaimed, causing the muggle-born to turn to him. Audrey stared into the box Neville had, not hearing the scuttles which usually came from it.
“What is it?” Hermione asked.
“Trevor’s gone! The box was open—it must have come open when I set down the bag!” Neville said quickly. He was becoming paler by the second.
“Calm down, he’s probably in the compartment,” Audrey said. They quickly went through the little space that they had to sit in, and after several minutes, Neville groaned and sat down.
“This is hopeless! He could be anywhere! That compartment door has been open for hours—”
“We haven’t been on the train for hours,” Hermione said with a sigh and roll of her eyes. Audrey was really, really wishing Amanda had come with them. Not only would their sister know what to say to send the girl away, but there wouldn’t have been enough room for Hermione in the first place.
The witch went on, “Well, he couldn’t have jumped from the train. Why don’t you just ask around? I doubt anyone would forget laying eyes on a toad if they saw one.” Neville nodded.
“Okay,” he said, standing up. Hermione stood up after him. Neville’s shoulders fell. “Oh, I can go by myself. It will be fine, really. There’s no need for you to go through the trouble.”
Hermione opened her mouth, but Audrey said to the muggle-born, “Let him—I bet it won’t take him long to find Trevor.” Hermione shrugged and sat down.
“It is strange how he keeps a toad,” Hermione said after Neville had left. “I heard they are a common pet among wizards, but there are so many more interesting ones. Do either of you have pets like him?” Delilah and Audrey looked to each other again. Her sister had her arms crossed, but quick as a snake, she snatched up the book Audrey had been hiding behind and began reading it.
It was her turn to deal with Hermione.
“I have an owl,” Audrey answered blandly.
For the next several minutes, they talked about owls and their various functions (and the lack thereof in the case of Audrey’s owl).
Finally, Hermione said, “Are you certain Neville knows what he’s doing? He’s been gone for a really long time.”
“It’s a long train,” Audrey reminded the muggle-born.
“I bet he just isn’t asking the right questions,” Hermione said, standing. “I’m going to help him.” Delilah stood up as the witch left. Audrey shot her another look and Delilah shrugged
“He has been gone a really long time,” her wolf sister said. “I want to at least make sure he hasn’t come across Draco on his own or any of those other older years.” Audrey shrugged, swiping her book off the seat next to her.
“Fine, but I’m staying here,” she said firmly.
“Alright, see you,” Delilah said quickly, and trotted after Hermione.
Audrey tried to read her book, but she kept getting distracted due to the regrets of not going. After all, what if something went wrong? She settled those thoughts by knowing she was here to keep anyone from stealing their compartment.
She still decided the book was too boring, so she watched countryside passing by. After a while, she set her book in her lap and watched the scenery, imagining herself in horse form racing alongside the train. She knew her speed wasn’t even close to that of the train, but she could still imagine it.
Someone put a hand on her shoulder. She flinched, shooting up as her eyes sprang open.
“It’s only me,” Delilah said. “We’re a few minutes away from Hogwarts.”
“Oh,” Audrey said as she felt her heart begin to slow. Thankfully, she already had her robes on. She glanced around, noticing Hermione and Neville were absent.
“They decided to continue looking for Trevor,” Delilah responded to her silent question. “I thought it was rude leaving you here all alone, so I came back.”
Audrey rose her eyebrows. “Or did you just want to get away from a Hermione?” she asked.
Delilah lowered her head.
“Well. . .”
“I would have done the same thing,” Audrey said with a wave of her hand. She felt the train get slower and slower until it stopped, and even though there was a crowd of people outside their compartment pushing to get it out, Audrey and Delilah stayed there, chatting.
“Oh, I forgot!” she exclaimed to Audrey, who was standing. “Guess who I found!”
“Er,” Audrey said, genuinely trying to think of the answer as they waited for the crowd to die down a little. “I don’t know, Elena?”
“No! Harry Potter!” Delilah exclaimed.
“What? Really?” Audrey asked. “So he’s here? In our year?” Delilah nodded. “Well? What does he look like?”
“He’s very small and he had cheap glasses on, but he had the scar, I saw it! He kind of smelled like grass, too,” Delilah explained.
“What did you—?” Audrey stopped, noticing the river of people outside their compartment was thinning.
“What was that?” Delilah asked.
“I’ll tell you outside,” Audrey said, and they went into the crowd.
Audrey’s excitement soared higher and higher as they neared the exit of the train. Harry Potter was in their year! The three of them had calculated as such of course, but they also knew Gran could have gotten Harry Potter’s birthday wrong, leaving him to be in Jessica’s year instead. With a grin she thought, Just wait until Jessica gets the news!
Audrey jumped off the train and had to restrain herself from literally galloping away (she had learned just a few years ago that’s not how normal people ran). Delilah jumped down behind her. Still, she quickly rushed to a spot with only a few other students, leaving Delilah to fend for herself in the insanity that was behind her.
Her gaze swirled around, flicking to as many faces as it could within a few seconds.
“Audrey, over here!”
Finally, she caught Amanda’s green eyes. Behind her was Theodore—Malfoy was nowhere to be seen. Her sister caught onto the unspoken question, and answered it swiftly.
“The prat made me look bad, so I told him that if he doesn’t want me telling his mum and dad what we did last summer with Mrs. Malfoy’s favorite necklace, he should leave.” Amanda said this all with a smirk.
Audrey began, “Where do we—?”
“But anyway I met Harry Potter on the train!” Amanda exclaimed.
“I did too!” Delilah shouted excitedly. “He was amazing, wasn’t he?” But Amanda’s smile had vanished, and a glare was settling in her eyes.
“Well I saw him first,” Amanda claimed crossing her arms. Delilah’s eyes narrowed.
“No, I think I—”
“Firs’ years, over here!” came a loud booming voice that made Audrey flinch. She spun around, seeing a giant of a man holding a lantern, calling them over.
“That’s Hagrid?” Audrey said aloud as she and her sisters stared. He was huge—much taller and wider than she expected.
“I thought Elena said he was only half giant!” Amanda said.
“We had better get going before we’re left behind,” Delilah pointed out. Still staring, the three of them walked beside one another as they came to the giant. Theodore followed behind them, quiet as always.
“I bet the muggle-borns are scared out of their wits,” came Draco’s snobbish voice from behind them. Crabbe and Goyle were with him, and Audrey found herself stiffening up as they followed Hagrid down dark a narrow path.
Audrey wasn’t necessarily afraid of or irritated with Draco, but whenever the three (or four, those few times Gran decided Jessica’s usual excuse “but the Weasley’s invited me over” didn’t matter) of them stayed at the Nott manor, Draco would come, and it would end up a competition of who could get Amanda’s attention. Usually the day ended with Draco, Theo, and Amanda doing something against the rules or just downright dangerous while Audrey and Delilah caught up with Elena, who was rather fun to be around if they were doing certain activities.
“Do you have memory loss?” Amanda asked, glancing over her shoulder. Audrey didn’t dare look back.
“Don’t talk to me like that here!” Draco snapped back as quietly as he could. “I could tell my father about this!”
“Or I could talk to him,” Amanda said. From her peripheral vision, Audrey saw her sister flash her smirk. “He likes me.”
“Amanda. . .” Theo sighed, more in warning than in anything.
“I don’t have to put up with this,” Draco sneered, and stormed past them to the front of the line, to which it was so dark Audrey couldn’t see. She bet Amanda could, and she knew Delilah could at least smell them.
“You aren’t letting Draco get away with anything today,” Audrey commented.
“If he wants to be a muttering idiot to show off his family’s power, fine by me, but I don’t want him to be a muttering idiot around me,” Amanda said, her chin high. “Especially not today.”
Delilah gave an excited skip, saying afterword, “I can’t believe it! We’re finally almost there!”
“Shh!” hissed a student in front of them.
“No one said we had to be quiet, you know,” Amanda spat back. It was true, though Audrey guessed that they—unlike she and her siblings—weren’t navigating the dark, winding path they were on very well, forcing them to focus on the path rather than the awesomeness they were no doubt headed toward.
It wasn’t fair, though, to say the three of them had heightened senses. They didn’t, really, but after being in their animal bodies for several months, they got accustomed to using certain senses far more than a normal human. For Delilah, it was mostly her scent. For Audrey, it was her hearing. For Amanda. . .well, it depended on her mood.
It was not long before the path opened up to a lake. Across it, so magnificent even Elena’s description couldn’t compare, was a glorious, glittering castle standing proudly upon a cliff, the structure far larger than anything Audrey had ever seen. Gazing at it with a feeling of humbleness, she heard Hagrid give the order to get into a boat. She followed her sisters, but continued to stare at the castle. Her new home.
Neville stumbled into a boat with the three of them. When the boats started moving, Amanda nudged her and pointed without looking at where she was pointing.
“That’s him—the one with the glasses and messy hair,” Amanda said. Audrey peered over a few boats, first finding Ron Weasley before setting eyes on the boy next to him.
He was indeed small, but Audrey still felt her stomach clench as she stared at him. There he was, The-Boy-Who-Lived. Harry Potter. She wondered how many people would love to be where she was right now, just a few feet away from someone as famous as him.
“I see he’s made friends with Ron,” Audrey spoke, smiling.
“Just think about how much we’ll get to see him!” Amanda said, smirking. “Think he will get into Slytherin?”
“Oh, so you approve?” Audrey asked.
“Be quiet,” Amanda said back, though she was smiling.
“I always thought he would be in Gryffindor,” Neville said, staring at Harry. “You know, him defeating You-Know-Who and all.”
“Heads down!” Hagrid exclaimed. They all complied as the boats took them into a cave beneath the cliff. Audrey’s eyes opened wide with awe as she stared around at the beautiful rock and water.
They reached a sort of rocky shore within the cave and began clamoring out one by one. Amanda, with her agility, managed to make it out first with Delilah not far behind. Audrey was slower, choosing carefully where place her feet on the slippery stones to avoid falling.
“Oy, you there!”
Audrey turned around, wondering why she was being called out. Then the half-giant asked, “Is this your toad?” and she realized as Neville lurched forward, barely staying upright, that he had been speaking to Neville instead.
They followed Hagrid up and up, finally finding grass. Audrey’s shoulders relaxed, happy to see the castle in front of them. Though she stared at it, too, marveling at its size, counting just how many windows and doors she could see just before them.
“Come on, Audrey, stop falling in love with the castle and move,” Amanda ordered. Audrey followed her, but couldn’t help noticing that Delilah had also been counting the windows (though she counted everything, so that wasn’t surprising), and Amanda had been staring at the castle too.
Hagrid led them up a flight of stairs to oak doors three times taller than Audrey at least and knocked on them, sending an echoing boom from the other side.
Audrey couldn’t help but feel as if her stomach was disappearing as they waited in a small room. Everyone around her, aside from Malfoy and Amanda, were nervously moving about, fidgeting and whispering and doing everything they could to try to soothe their nerves. Audrey had begun to fiddle with a bit of her robe as her nerves came on as well.
An older woman wearing green robes had come to answer the knock on the doors. She introduced herself as Professor McGonagall, and Audrey made a mental note not to get into trouble around this professor as she brought them to the small room and explained why they were being sorted into different houses. Audrey listened, trying to find out anything new about the houses, but nothing the professor said was new.
Audrey was happy, at least, that Gran had explained the sorting for Neville, who had been scared out of his wits when Draco had lied and said they had to perform some complicating spell to be sorted. It meant she knew what was coming, and that was one less thing to be nervous about.
“Do you think people would look at me weird if I got sorted into Slytherin?” Audrey asked, gazing at Amanda, who looked as if she had done this a hundred times before.
Amanda rolled her eyes, answering, “You are not going to Slytherin.”
“How do you know?” Audrey asked. It was the only house she thought fit her. “I think I’m cunning and ambitious enough. . .” Amanda opened her mouth to say something. She was interrupted, however, by Delilah, who rushed closer to them while staring at Harry Potter.
“I want to go meet him again,” Delilah whispered, her eyes bright.
“I just want to meet him,” Audrey muttered, sour that she was the only one of them that hadn’t talked to the boy-who-lived.
“Then go meet him,” Amanda said simply. Audrey turned her gaze to her green-eyed sister.
“But that would be rude,” Audrey said. “I bet he has been asked a million times today whether or not he’s Harry Potter; there is no need for me to add to it.”
Amanda scoffed. “Scaredy-cat,” she said. Audrey narrowed her eyes, but before she could say something, she heard a bunch of gasps from behind them. She flinched and let out a fearful squeak simultaneously when she saw what the commotion was about.
“Elena didn’t mention ghosts,” Delilah said, staring at them with curious eyes.
“No, she didn’t!” Audrey shrieked quietly, taking a step back. Her eyes were wide. They were silver and friendly looking, but she didn’t trust them. She made sure to stay well away from them.
“Audrey, if they were harmful, you would be dead already,” Amanda said. Audrey relaxed, but not completely.
Soon after the ghosts arrived, Professor McGonagall came back, shooing off the ghosts and telling all of the first years to form a line. Amanda went in front of her sisters, of course, and Audrey followed with Delilah behind her.
And Audrey thought the Entrance Hall was huge. The Great Hall was gigantic—a dark blue sky was glittering from above along with thousands of floating candles. Audrey could have stared at that all day. She had always had an affinity for the sky.
There were four tables, of course. Audrey caught Amanda eying the one of green and silver, smiling at the students who stared back. The Gryffindor table was the loudest in the room from what she could tell, so she didn’t dwell on that one long. Audrey stopped when she got to the Ravenclaw table, where she saw their oldest sister staring back. Her thick, long blonde hair made her easily recognizable, but Audrey paid more attention to that lazy but beautiful smile on her face. As always, that smile made Audrey relax a little, which she needed. The number of eyes on her had spiked her nervousness.
Professor McGonagall soon brought out a stool and the notorious hat. Audrey grew worried, feeling her skin heat up as Amanda smiled at the Sorting Hat, leaning over to Audrey and whispering, “I dare it to not put me in Slytherin.”
But Audrey didn’t acknowledge she had spoken. She was too busy looking into the crowd, which greeted her with blank gazes.
The hat began to sing, which made Audrey turn her head. It was an aspect of the sorting Elena had failed to mention. The song was neat, nevertheless. It was a lively tune, and with the excitement and nervous rummaging about within her, she began to bounce along with it. Delilah caught on at the end and did the same.
Finally, Professor McGonagall came forward with parchment and said, “When I call your name, please put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted.”
“I hope I don’t trip. . .” Delilah said.
“That would be so embarrassing. . .” Audrey said automatically, her mind somewhere else. There were just so many people staring. . .
“Abbott, Hannah!” the professor called out. A short girl in very obvious pigtails went forward.
A moment later, the hat shouted out, “HUFFLEPUFF!”
A girl named Susan Bones was next, then Boot, and Bulstrode. . . Just how many people have a last name that starts with B? Audrey asked herself.
Her eyes wandered behind her, where the professors were, and they caught the gaze of Severus Snape. She turned around, snapping her attention back to the four tables hoping the potions master hadn’t seen her staring at him. Audrey had met the man many times. He seemed to be around about every other time they went to their aunt and uncle’s home, the Notts’. Suffice to say, Audrey made sure to read far enough ahead in her Potions textbook to be able to answer any questions he would ask on the first couple of days just in case he called on her.
“Coppin, Amanda!” Professor McGonagall shouted.
Just hearing her last name made Audrey startle. She calmed down a bit as Amanda strutted over to the stool and put the hat on her head.
She expected the hat’s answer, but still listened. There was silence in the hall for about twenty seconds before—
“SLYTHERIN!” it announced. The Slytherin house erupted in cheers, proudly approving of Amanda as she took off the hat and put on her best grin. She strolled down to the Slytherin house with enough confidence to leave Audrey to wonder how she was even related to her.
“Coppin, Audrey!” shouted McGonagall. Audrey’s throat tightened as her muscles seized. Just as the three of them had guessed, she heard curious whispering among the other whispers from students who could care less about the sorting. It wasn’t too obvious, but twins were still unique. It meant more eyes were on her, though. Oh, Merlin, did she not envy Delilah.
The walk up to the stool was in slow motion, and she quickly fixed her gaze on it, attempting to ignore everyone else in the hall. Then she sat down and put on the hat.
Interesting. . .very interesting. I see intelligence. A yearning to learn and experience the world. . .But there is loyalty too. Strong loyalty and an appreciation for hard work. Which one, which one? Hmm. . .I think encouraging your intellect will do more for you. Better be—
The table wearing Audrey’s favorite color erupted just like the Slytherins had done for Amanda. Audrey, who had listened to the hat with confusion, dazedly set the hat down on the stool and hurried over to the table beckoning her over.
“Congratulations!” called out one of the older students.
“Welcome,” said another as she passed.
Audrey wondered if the friendliness of everyone had to do with Elena, as she knew her older sister was at least known by name within the Ravenclaw house. Distantly she also wondered if it had to do with their father—if he had done anything special when he was in Ravenclaw. She threw that thought away as soon as it had come.
She muttered quick ‘thank you’s to as many people as she could and pushed herself through the crowd to Elena, who smiled excitedly.
“Great job. Welcome to Ravenclaw,” she said as Audrey sat down, trying to avoid the commotion while settling in.
“So is this one of those sisters you keep talking about?” asked a friend of Elena’s in the background.
The hall quieted just as Professor McGonagall shouted, “Coppin, Delilah!”
Yes, Audrey really didn’t envy Delilah.
Just with every large gathering, you couldn’t count on everyone to pay attention, but as soon as McGonagall said those words, almost everyone lifted their heads to see if what they had heard had been right. It happened just as Amanda, Delilah, and Audrey had talked about, dreaded, and partly hoped for as whispers grew steadily louder and questioning eyes flashed across the room to check just how alike the three sisters looked.
“Another Coppin?” she heard someone say.
“One of them has to be a cousin,” she heard another say.
“Are they triplets?” someone else asked.
Delilah nervously stepped forward, giving a very concentrated stare as she sat on the stool and put the hat on. One second. Two second. Three—
And people think we’re identical, Audrey thought as Delilah set the hat down gently and made her way to the Hufflepuff table. Delilah’s new house cheered more than Ravenclaw and Slytherin combined, it seemed, as if everyone truly did want to welcome their new member instead of it just being a formality like it seemed to be for most everyone else.
Several more people were called. Audrey had no need to pay attention just then—L was a long way from C. So, Audrey took to watching her sisters, frowning as she realized just how much they would be apart. They would no longer be just in the next bedroom. They would no longer be eating at the same table for meals. They would have different friends, be in different classes (for the most part). But she knew they would still find time for each other. They had promised as such last night right before Delilah had fallen asleep snoring.
“Longbottom, Neville!” came Professor McGonagall’s voice. Audrey’s attention snapped back to the sorting as Neville stumbled over to the stool. It took just a bit longer than Delilah’s sorting.
“GRYFFINDOR!” the hat shouted. Audrey blinked, taking a few seconds to process the information before she clapped. She had been expecting him to join Delilah or maybe surprise her and come to Ravenclaw with her, but she never considered Gryffindor. He was way too nervous all the time. Yet there he was, stumbling over to the Boy-Who-Lived. Audrey couldn’t help but feel a little jealous.
Draco’s name was called up next, and the entire Slytherin table seemed to be paying close attention to him as he swaggered over like he owned the place. In seconds, the hat had bellowed out the Slytherin house and Draco leisurely strolled over to Amanda.
It was Theo’s turn soon. Audrey was curious about where he would go, because although he had always said he would be in Slytherin, she had found that he wasn’t stuck up enough to be like Draco or prideful enough to be like Amanda.
Her cousin took forever. It might have been the anticipation, but after a long time, the hat shouted out, “SLYTHERIN!” Theodore’s concentrated frown flipped into a smile. He walked straight to Amanda, sitting on the other side of her.
“That’s odd,” Elena said.
“What is?” Audrey asked.
“His house. I always thought he was more of a Ravenclaw than a Slytherin,” her older sister said, without looking to her. Audrey watched Theodore too, a little more perplexed than before. Elena, after all, was usually never wrong when it came to personality and the fact that she lived with Theo’s family meant he was more of a brother to her than she was a sister to them. This made Audrey curious about the conversation the hat had had with the Nott.
So they went on watching. Audrey was surprised there was also a pair of twins in the mix, though she scowled when they too were separated into two different houses. There’s three of us that got into different houses, she thought waspishly.
“Potter, Harry!” McGonagall shouted.
Audrey focused then. Even though she had seen him in the boats, it had been dark. Now it was not. He was nervous, she could tell that much by his shaking hands. But she got a sense of strength when she stared at him. It was like the feeling she got when she stood next to Amanda, the feeling that she didn’t have anything to worry about.
“So he’s in your year after all,” Elena said.
“I know, isn’t it wonderful?” Audrey asked. “I’m going to have actual classes with him!”
The story of the Boy-Who-Lived had interested Audrey from a young age. Gran had told them about it when they were young, and they had asked to hear the story almost every night after that until they were old enough to no longer need bedtime stories.
“GRYFFINDOR!” the hat bellowed, and the house of lions roared. The Weasley twins—the only two Weasley’s she really knew—kept yelling that they had Potter, and louder than the cheers, Audrey heard the disappointed sighs and gestures around her own house.
“Too bad,” Elena commented as she looked to Audrey with eyes that were Ravenclaw blue. “Having Harry Potter in our house would have given Ravenclaw something to be proud of other than our marks.”
A few more went until Audrey caught the face of a boy she had recently seen in a short article in the Daily Prophet. “Smith, Zacharias!”
“He was declared the Hufflepuff Heir not too long ago, wasn’t he?” Audrey whispered to Elena. She
“Yes,” she said. “One of the only ones left, from what I read.”
It was no surprise that he went to Hufflepuff, though he looked about as happy about it as Gran was when she caught Jessica trying to lock pick the door to the forbidden room back home.
From there, Audrey didn’t know anyone who was left to be sorted. She knew of Ron Weasley (who ended up being a Gryffindor) but she had seen him only a couple of times and had only really spoken to him in passing when the family came over to pick up the twins once.
Finally, after Dumbledore spouted out a few truly mad words, food appeared on the table. Audrey put her favorites on her plate, amazed at how much there actually was. She was careful to only take the portions she saw others taking, however.
“So this is your sister?” asked a student on the other side of the table. He looked to be a third or fourth year, which made Audrey look at her plate as she ate. “Welcome to Ravenclaw!”
“Thank you,” Audrey said through bites, glancing over. Really, couldn’t everyone see she was eating?
“Did you think you were going here or did you consider some other house?” the student asked. Audrey shrugged, setting her fork down as she realized he wasn’t going away.
“I wouldn’t have minded Slytherin,” Audrey said a bit of the disappoint from earlier showing through. The student’s smile faltered as he sat up straighter. He gave a quick glance to Elena, as if looking to see if he had caught that, and by the look her big sister gave, Audrey knew that Elena had seen it and unconsciously stared him down for it. After all, no one wanted to be on the receiving end of one of Elena’s condescending gazes.
Audrey should have expected that reaction. Elena had told her before the summer ended that even the Ravenclaws, who were logical enough to see past biases for the most part, were still wary of all Slytherins despite how utterly ridiculous it was. Audrey doubted many students of her year, who had grown up hearing about the horrors of You-Know-Who, really wanted to go into Slytherin besides those with Slytherin parents. After growing up with Theo, Draco, and Amanda, though, Audrey didn’t really mind Slytherin at all.
To break the silence, the student retreated from the conversation by saying, “Well, if you’re anything like Elena, everyone in your year better watch out.”
Audrey laughed slightly. Great, she thought as Elena glanced at her. They have expectations.
See? Much longer than 1,500 words!
And yes, Gryffindor is not going to get represented by a sibling this year. Poor Gryffindor. I actually don't feel too terribly sorry for them because, well, Harry Potter, and it gives Neville more of a spotlight.
In the next few chapter I'll get more into all the different houses. For now just enjoy this little sneak peak into Ravenclaw.
Amanda was finally where she belonged. She was grinning as she listened, placing herself into conversation when needed but still paying attention to everyone else. There was talk of quidditch and rumors of outlandish tales—the normal chatting. It was as if they were all best friends. Through it all, however, she noticed several glances thrown at her and the other the first years.
Then the conversation finally turned to family.
“So, Draco Malfoy,” spoke an older student. The prefect, Amanda realized as she saw his badge. “You’re Lucius Malfoy’s son? I was wondering when a Malfoy would return to Hogwarts.”
“I bet he asked around about when Draco was born and marked this date on his calendar,” Amanda whispered to Theodore as Draco responded. Theo smiled.
“And you’re a Nott, right?” asked Blaise Zabini. “Pureblood?”
“That’s what I was told,” Theo answered dryly. Some of their fellow first years laughed along with them.
“I see you are good friends with this. . .Coppin, too,” the prefect went on. He was careful not to say the word too harshly, though. “But you mentioned Arisio during the Sorting. . .You wouldn’t happen to be related to Anthony Arisio and his daughter, Arianna?” Amanda nodded, pride filling her chest as she felt more eyes on her.
“Arianna was my grandmother—Adrianna was my mother,” Amanda answered.
“You can’t be serious,” came Pansy Parkinson. “That would make you an heir of Slytherin.” Amanda grinned wolfishly as she noticed others around the table turning in her direction. A lot of others.
“How did you guess?” she said, conveniently moving the hand which held the Arisio family ring. Those paying attention only risked a glance at the heirloom Amanda had found in a box of her mother’s things. She would have put it on just because it was pretty, even if Snape hadn’t explained what it was.
“Can you do it?” someone further down the table asked. “Speak to snakes?”
“Yes,” Amanda answered. Pansy gasped, but Millicent eyed her.
“Prove it,” she said.
“I can’t,” she answered, staring straight back.
“Why not?” asked the prefect.
“There isn’t a snake here to speak to,” she answered. “If I started talking parseltongue, I would just be speaking nonsense to you—it wouldn’t prove anything.” No one really had anything to say to that.
“I have a question,” a prefect said, making Amanda gaze at him. “You talked about your mother in past tense. Does that mean you were raised by a muggleborn?”
Alright, so they know the name Coppin from the war stories, then, Amanda figured. Snape hadn’t been wrong about the Slytherin ability to figure things like that out quickly.
“Of course not,” Amanda scoffed, trying her best to look somewhere between offended and exasperated. “My father left the day my mother died. I was raised by the Longbottom family, although I spend most of the time at Draco’s or Theo’s house.” Mostly a lie. Gran only let them go about once every two weeks unless holidays were involved, but neither Draco nor Theodore corrected her.
Blaise looked pleased as he said, “I’m a pureblood myself. Though not all of my family is from Britain. You see, my grandmother. . .”
And so began the contest of who had the strongest pureblood family. Amanda didn’t much pay attention, having gone over all the important family names a hundred times when she was over at Draco’s. Lucius had insisted she know them, and it seemed this was the reason why.
By the time dessert came, the conversation had gone on to what they would expect during classes. Unfortunately, Amanda wasn’t really interested in that either, so she watched her sisters instead. Audrey was talking with Elena, probably about some creative idea she had, while Delilah was eating her food, looking quite alone. Every once and a while Amanda would catch her speaking, but not often.
“Can your sisters speak to snakes too?” Blaise asked, following her gaze.
“No, only I can,” Amanda said. “Hence me being the only one in Slytherin.”
“Too bad,” said Pansy. “It would have been amazing to have triplets in our house. Especially triplets related to Slytherin.” The others listened for Amanda to correct her. When she didn’t, she answered the question: she was, in fact, a triplet.
It was an odd anomaly, them not being able to speak to snakes. Snape had written it off as something to do with their father’s curse and the fact their mother chose Amanda to inherit all there was to inherit from the Slytherin line. Amanda believed it had something to do with the fact both Delilah and Audrey didn’t even know they were related to one of the Founders of Hogwarts.
Albus Dumbledore stood up. He spoke of just the mundane things; when quidditch trials were to be held and the things Elena had warned them about—no magic in the halls, and no forbidden forest.
Then the Headmaster said, “And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death.”
Amanda glanced to Audrey, who had glanced at her. Don’t even think about it, Audrey was basically saying. Amanda smirked. I’m thinking about it.
And then there was the Hogwarts song. Amanda tried singing along just for the sake of doing what everyone else was doing, but it was truly hard to sing with everyone on a different note at a different time with a different tune. Suddenly, she was very much hating those music lessons Mrs. Nott had taught her.
Finally, after the Weasley twins made a show of being the very last two people singing, the Headmaster sent them off to bed, and boy was Amanda ready for it. She realized now why Gran had sent them to bed so early the night before.
Down to the dungeons they went. It was cold, sure, but the closer they got, the more Amanda felt at home. Especially as the got to the stone wall to which the prefect she had sat close to said the password. A passageway slid open and Amanda grinned.
“As a rule you should remember,” said the prefect, “you are to repeat that password to no one. All students from the other houses are banned from our Common Room. Only Slytherins are allowed here.”
Amanda’s eyes narrowed. A part of her had expected as much, but she still felt her shoulders fall as her hopes of being able to show off her sisters faded.
They went in. Amanda frown reversed itself as she saw the rounded green lanterns and the giant serpent portrait above the fireplace. Though the common room inhabitants were loud, she could still hear the swishing of waves where the Black Lake licked the land.
Her new home.
They went to the dormitory they were directed to, and Amanda found herself leading the way. Inside the square room, the four-poster beds (with an insane amount of very cozy looking blankets) bordered the two walls opposite the door in the corner. When she got to the bed where her stuff was, she was pleased she was in the center corner of the lines of beds.
It didn’t take long for her to pull on her pajamas and slip into the layers of blankets. She was warm, and as she closed her eyes, she expected to go to sleep immediately.
She didn’t. Perhaps it was because this wasn’t her bed and she was sleeping in a room full of strangers, but she tossed and turned for what seemed like hours despite the fact she felt tired.
Eventually, she went to sleep.
Amanda picked at her bacon the next morning, not feeling hungry at all as she watched Delilah and Audrey sit together at the Ravenclaw table. Amanda was aware that they both kept looking at her as a silent invitation, but she knew better. There were still too many eyes on her and too many judgements being made for her to slip away at that moment. At least, that’s what she thought.
“Miss Coppin, need I remind you that bacon is for eating?” said her Head of House as he strode up, a piece of paper in his hands. So he did notice I got sorted last night, she thought as she rose her head and gazed at him.
“I’m not that hungry,” she announced.
“So it seems,” he said, handing her the paper.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“An answer to your guardian’s inquiry,” Severus Snape answered. “Read it through and come to me with any questions.” Then he left.
“Why couldn’t he have just sent an owl?” asked Pansy as Amanda began to read through it.
“It’s too important for that,” Amanda said. She gave the girl a smirk. “Heir of Slytherin stuff, you know.”
Amanda quickly read over the words, careful to make sure no one else was reading along with her.
Dear Miss Amanda Coppin,
As you know, your guardian, Augusta Longbottom, wrote to me a few months ago regarding your unique ability passed down by a curse on your father’s family. If I remember correctly from the letter, you are used to having free reign with this ability. However, per request of your grandmother, I will have to ask that you refrain from using your ability while at Hogwarts. This has been decided to further protect your younger sister as it was also decided to keep her lycanthropy a secret.
However, as your guardian has told me, I understand using your abilities is sometimes relaxing and necessary under extreme pressure. For this reason, I am allowing you and your sisters to use your ability for a few hours when absolutely necessary under the supervision of a teacher. You will still be restricted to the Hogwarts grounds and are under no circumstances allowed in the Forbidden Forest.
Please also note that changes to these terms may be made when your youngest sister arrives at Hogwarts.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
Amanda frowned, glancing up to her sisters, who were reading the same letter. She crumpled it up and shoved it into her school bag before continuing to pick at her bacon. She had hoped that her form being a very small, albeit venomous snake would allow her to do whatever she liked, but it seemed the Headmaster was keeping things fair.
Her mood worsened throughout the week. The Gryffindors weren’t with the Slytherins at all except for Potions, which was scheduled for the end of the week. Meeting Harry Potter again would have to wait.
So, the first part of the week was just school and homework. Even though she shared a lot of classes with the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, she didn’t get to sit near her sisters because it seemed like Pansy and Millicent always managed to sit themselves next to her, and Theo and Draco were not far away. Amanda would normally just shoo them all off, but Theodore had warned her against it.
“You have to make friends, remember?” he had reminded her, repeating both Draco and his father’s not-so-subtle suggestion. Nevertheless, Amanda understood and just let the two Slytherin girls do as they liked for the time being.
Not that her sisters seemed to mind. Audrey had her nose in a book even at the Ravenclaw table, and Amanda only saw Delilah during classes, to which her wolf sister was almost always late.
Another thing that worsened her mood was the yellowed parchment note she kept in her pocket with her mother’s handwriting. Amanda had been itching to follow the directions on that note for years, but had absolutely no time to. Classes took up most of the day and homework took up the rest. Professor McGonagall, for example, seemed to think it necessary for them to start a pile of homework immediately.
The only two things to keep her going were the coming Potions class and her plan, which required Neville’s help. So when she walked past the library isles and found the Gryffindor with both her sisters, she floated over and sat down.
“Finally decided we’re worthy enough for you?” Audrey muttered as she took notes on a textbook she was reading from.
“Looks like you’re in a good mood,” Amanda commented.
“I’m stressed,” Audrey barked back. “And you would be too if you had to deal with being a Ravenclaw. Did you know Elena has finished all of her Hogwarts years in the top three of her year?”
“You Ravenclaws keep track of that?” Amanda asked.
“Every year has their own board next to the announcements that moves when something is graded,” Audrey muttered, “and it’s on full display for everyone to see.”
“Where are you?” Amanda asked curiously.
“Nothing has been graded yet, so it’s blank right now,” Audrey explained, “but I bet Elena will be at least near the top, which means everyone is expecting me to be too.”
“How have you been, Amanda?” Delilah asked out of courtesy.
“Busy,” Amanda answered. “Haven’t even got a class with Harry Potter yet.”
“I have!” Delilah exclaimed with a wide grin on her face. “He isn’t as smart as that other Gryffindor, Hermione Granger, and he keeps showing up a little late to some classes. . .”
“You’re one to talk,” Amanda said. “I don’t think you’ve shown up on time since classes began!” Delilah’s head lowered.
“Well, I’m not used to so many smells. I keep trying to just follow people, but I never end up in the right wing. . .” Delilah responded mournfully.
“I’m just teasing,” Amanda consoled her sister. Then she turned to Neville, who was doing some homework by the look of it.
“What about you? What’s it like being in the same house with Harry Potter?” Amanda asked. Neville looked up.
“Er, he doesn’t talk to me much,” Neville said. “He’s really normal. . .”
“Does he ever hang out in the common room? It would be nice if we could go to the Gryffindor common room and meet him,” Amanda went on.
“You’ve already met him,” Delilah pointed out.
“I meant officially, stupid—not with Draco stealing all my thunder with his attitude,” Amanda spoke. Then she went back to Neville.
“I think he does his homework in there sometimes,” Neville answered. He seemed hesitant since, for once, all of them had their attention on him.
“Perfect, what’s the password?” Amanda asked.
“You have passwords?” Delilah asked. “I just have to tap something like the bricks at Diagon Alley.”
“At least you don’t have to worry about knowing the answer to a ridiculous riddle,” Audrey muttered.
“Ravenclaw just keeps getting better and better,” Amanda said sarcastically.
“What’s your password?” Delilah asked.
Amanda sighed. “I’m not allowed to tell you,” she responded.
“Some of that Slytherin pride again?” Audrey drawled from her book.
“Anyone that’s not a Slytherin isn’t allowed in the common room,” she said. “Anyway, Neville, what’s your password?”
“Er, it’s supposed to change, but right now it’s ‘Caput Draconis’ but I don’t think you’re allowed unless a Gryffindor is with—”
“I’ll let you know in advance,” Amanda interrupted. Then she looked around. “Hey, is this the only time all of us are out of class together?”
“Seems like it,” Delilah answered.
“We should meet here, then,” Amanda said. “I’ve been lonely. And don’t say anything about me not going over to the Ravenclaw table,” Amanda snapped as she saw Audrey open her mouth.
“Whatever you say,” Audrey mumbled, still reading.
The rest of the hour they spent arguing over who had the worst schedule and course load, despite everyone having the same classes. Neville ended up having the worse time of it as Professor McGonagall had assigned him a bit of extra work after he somehow misremembered the transfiguration basic they were working on.
“Oh look at that,” Amanda said, glancing at the clock. “It’s time for potions.”
“I heard from Ron that Professor Snape hates Gryffindors,” Neville groaned.
“Yes, he does,” Amanda responded blithely, standing up.
That did not help Neville’s nervousness. He tripped several times on the way over there, contesting even Delilah’s clumsiness. Amanda tried to stand far enough away from him to look like she was just walking near him instead of with him.
The class itself started out weird. Amanda sat by Theodore as Draco was annoying her by staying next to Crabbe and Goyle that day. Neville had been less than pleased with her abandonment and sat by a Gryffindor boy who was called Seamus, as she found out during roll call.
And then Snape got to Harry’s name.
Amanda hadn’t expected much from Snape as she knew he wasn’t a very lively person, especially when it came to famous people, but right off he called Harry a celebrity, sneering at the Boy-Who-Lived like he would Amanda when she was being particularly troublesome and disorderly.
After the roll call, it got worse. Snape called on Harry and asked him for some ridiculous answer to a question Amanda barely knew. Hermione Granger’s hand shot straight up, however, and Harry Potter admitted he had no clue. This went on and on until Harry got smart.
“I don’t know, sir,” he said. “But I think Hermione does. Why don’t you try her?”
Not a good idea on Harry’s part. By the end of it, Snape had an awful scowl on his face and a point had been taken from Gryffindor.
Amanda could have let a simple incident like that go—Harry had spoken rudely, which was lesson number one when working with Snape. Then the other incident happened. Apparently Neville had added quills at the wrong time and caused the potion to explode. Snape blamed Harry for not telling Neville and had taken another point. That was unfair.
“You shouldn’t dwell on it,” Theodore told her as they packed up their things to leave an hour later. “He just picked his least favorite student.”
Amanda, of course, paid no heed to Theodore’s warning and stayed as the other students filed out. Before long, she was alone, lingering with her school bag in tow as Snape sat at his desk with papers, writing on them.
“Is there something you wanted, Miss Coppin?” Snape asked, not looking up from those papers. She either rethought her words or found something unpleasant in his voice because talking to him about why he hated Harry seemed like a really bad idea all of a sudden.
“No, I was just daydreaming, sir,” Amanda said, and turned around, but stopped dead as she heard her teacher’s voice.
“I never thought I would see the day Amanda Coppin held her tongue,” Professor Snape mused, still writing.
“It wasn’t that important,” she said, turning to face him again.
“And it wasn’t any your business,” Snape said. “Now get out. I have work to do.”
Amanda strode out of the room as she heard the scratching of a quill, believing as soon as she walked past the doorway that Severus Snape knew exactly why she had stayed after class.
Amanda decided after that conversation she needed a bit of fun that included discreetly breaking a few rules. It also included paying a visit to the Gryffindor Tower.
As soon as the Slytherin Heir started her way up the stairs, she made herself thank Merlin she was not a Gryffindor. There were seemingly a million steps to get there and she knew she would be sore the day after.
As Amanda went up the last few steps and strode toward the portrait of the Fat Lady just as Neville described, she was very glad it was late in the evening. At such a late hour, not many were traveling to or from the common room, so she had to pass a lot less people. Not that Amanda wasn’t prepared—she had at least three cover stories she had made up on her way there.
“Aren’t you a Slytherin?” asked the Fat Lady.
“I came to see a friend,” Amanda lied. “Neville Longbottom. Maybe you’ve seen him? He wanted help with his potions homework.” The Fat Lady stared at her with her nose up.
“Well do you know the password?” she asked, and Amanda recited it. “Hmm.” The portrait opened, revealing the passage way behind it.
She transformed within the passage way, finding herself in her scaly skin within seconds. Keeping to the darkness, Amanda managed to slither her way to the Common room, stopping where the darkness did.
And she thought the Slytherins liked to live lavishly. Everything about the Gryffindor common room—from the gold everywhere and the crimson curtains and the squishy arm chairs to the warm fire—looked rather inviting to her.
Amanda went forward once she saw no one was watching and went under some piece of furniture, coiling up tight to avoid detection. There were only a few people in the common room (she thanked Merlin once again), and it must have been her lucky day, for Harry and Ron were stumbling through their homework in an a few seats just feet away from her.
“. . .think they believe we don’t have any other classes. . .”
“Is the answer to put those bits in first or last?” asked Harry.
“I dunno, look it up. . .”
Amanda listened for quite some time. Ron was less than interesting, though occasionally he cracked a funny joke. Harry, however, was rather unique. From what he was talking about while he did his homework, he didn’t seem to know a whole lot about magic, but Amanda could tell there was a desire to learn. To prove himself.
Maybe you did belong in Slytherin, Amanda thought to herself. That would have been amusing, especially with how Snape acted with him. She wondered only for a second if that was why her mentor hated Harry—that he hadn’t gotten into Slytherin. That consideration was washed away quickly, though. She was rather certain the hatred had to do with something much deeper.
Light suddenly engulfed her. A yell erupted from Ron as Amanda glanced upward and saw a wide-eyed Gryffindor holding up the furniture she had been using as her hidey-hole.
“SNAKE!” Ron shouted. He and Harry and brought their legs up onto their chairs as the older student in the room took out her wand and pointed it at Amanda, who did the most logical thing in her situation.
She rose up and hissed as loudly as she could.
“Stop!” hissed Harry. Amanda’s eyes snapped to him.
That was Parseltongue, she thought.
“Let me take care of this,” muttered an older student. Amanda caught the movement out of the corner of her eye, and struck with as much venom as she could.
“Ouch!” hissed the student. Percy Weasley. Oh, Merlin, I am in so much trouble, she thought as the prefect slowly fell to the ground.
“Percy!” shouted Ron.
“Stop!” repeated Harry, keeping a hand over Ron to keep him from going to his brother. “Stop it!” Yep. Definitely Parseltongue.
“Can you understand me?” Amanda asked, letting herself settle into a defensive position rather than an offensive one.
“Y-yes, I think I can,” Harry answered, relaxing. He wasn’t as shocked as she thought he’d be. “A-and you understand me?”
“I do. You’re a Parselmouth.” Amanda said.
“What’s that?” Harry asked.
“Let me out and I will explain things,” Amanda told him, trying to act as snake-like as possible.
“Who let you in here?” Harry asked. She heard footsteps coming from where she assumed the dormitories were.
“Let me out, and I will find the other Parselmouth. She will explain it to you,” Amanda said, thinking quickly. “Please, let me out. I do not want to be here.”
“Okay,” Harry said.
“It’s a snake!” shouted a first year girl who had come down the stairs. More were coming as Harry rushed to the portrait and held it open. Amanda quickly slithered away, hoping and praying she was moving fast enough were the students would not be able to describe her perfectly.
“Thank you, human,” she said as she passed. Oh this was so much more fun than she had thought it would be. “The other one will speak to you tomorrow.”
Then she slithered away, coming up with a hundred different epic ways to introduce her new Parselmouth to the Chamber of Secrets.
Amanda had started a war.
The next morning, she went to the breakfast table with her head buzzing with excitement. Almost immediately, however, a fight between some older Slytherin and older Gryffindors had to be broken up. She knew what it was about as soon as she saw who the Gryffindors were: Fred and George Weasley.
Apparently, despite Percy being completely alright, the Gryffindors were enraged about the snake that had appeared in their common room the night before and accused the Slytherins for setting it loose. When she glanced over at the Professor’s table, she saw Snape glaring at her, and Dumbledore didn’t seem very pleased either.
Thankfully, neither of them made any attempts to talk to her or punish her right away, so she hurried up in eating her breakfast before leaving for her first class.
The tensions didn’t fade during her first class. Points were being taken all over the place for arguing and fighting, and whenever she passed a Gryffindor there was either whispering or muttering and the occasional outright accusation. It didn’t really bother her since it was true and it was hilarious to watch everyone else squabble.
After badgering Neville for his schedule after her first class, Amanda found a break both she and Harry had. She decided it would best to meet sooner rather than later, so she wrote down a note that read:
Meet me here tomorrow afternoon, and I will explain what happened last night. If anyone asks questions, don’t tell them about me.
Then she hurried into the Owlery and searched for her sister’s owl. After about ten seconds, she gave up and found Hedwig.
“Bring this to Harry,” Amanda ordered, giving her the note.
She had a grin on her face the entirety of that day. There was another Parselmouth at the school. She wouldn’t have to keep the secret alone. She would have someone to share her inheritance with, someone who could help discover the surprises waiting for her in the Chamber her ancestor had left her.
This year was going to be so much more fun than she had thought.
The next day, Pansy had sat next to her during one of her classes as normal and asked if she was the culprit.
“Maybe,” Amanda said with a smirk.
“It only makes sense!” Pansy exclaimed. “You are the only one who would know a Gryffindor well enough to get the password, and all you had to do to get it in the common room was order it with your Parseltongue! You didn’t even have to be in the castle to do it!” Amanda wasn’t certain she liked the idea of it being that easy to figure out. The Slytherins weren’t too happy about being wrongly accused and would not be pleased if they found out who actually did it. Still, no one else came up to her about it, so she decided the rest of the Slytherin house was smart enough to know the consequences of accusing the Slytherin Heir or telling a teacher about it.
Other than those thoughts keeping her busy, Amanda was basically playing hide-and-run with Professor Snape, whom she somehow managed to avoid all day despite the fact he was looking for her.
Harry ended up being late. She paced next to the famous bathroom which, now that she had peeked in side it, didn’t look like an entrance to the Chamber of Secrets at all.
“Aren’t you the one that was with Malfoy?”
Amanda turned around, facing her new Parselmouth friend.
“Amanda Coppin, yes,” Amanda explained. “Sorry about the train—Draco likes the think he owns the place. Now, about last night. How’s Percy?” Harry blinked.
“Er, Ron told me he woke up yesterday evening,” Harry said. “What did that snake do to him?” Amanda shrugged.
“It was a paralytic venom, but I knew he wasn’t bit with enough to cause any lasting side effects,” Amanda told him.
“Because you’re a Parselmouth?” Harry asked. Amanda nodded.
“That, among other things,” she said. “You are too, apparently.” He seemed to pale at the thought.
“What is it? What does it mean?” Harry asked. He looked disgusted at the thought of it all.
Amanda sighed. “What did Ron tell you?”
“He told me only Slytherin and his heirs could do that, and it’s seen as a really bad sign,” Harry answered.
“Well, yeah, if you think all Slytherins are evil,” Amanda said.
“A lot of them are,” Harry argued. “I mean, it was you who let that snake loose in the Gryffindor Common room, wasn’t it?” Amanda smiled.
“Technically, that wasn’t my fault,” Amanda said. Harry narrowed his eyes in confusion.
“What? Then who did it?” Harry asked.
I was hoping to avoid this, but I don’t want to stand here all day.
She transformed. Harry jumped, his eyes a bit wide as she rose her head and stared at him with her reptilian eyes.
“I was just trying to see you, Harry—I was hoping to just see you and then leave, but that kid raised up the furniture and I reacted,” Amanda said. “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”
“What are you?” Harry asked. Amanda transformed back into her human form, brushing off her robes.
“It is a thing my father passed down to me,” Amanda said. “But no one can know about it, understand? If any of the teachers find out I’ve told you, they will expel me.”
“Am I going to be able to turn into one?” Harry asked. He seemed a bit terrified of this.
“Oh, no—my mother was the Slytherin Heir before me. My dad was just a really weird muggle-born,” Amanda explained. That wasn’t strictly true. Considering Adrianna would most likely never married anything but a pureblood and Snape had told her Andrew Coppin was not the first person with the curse, everyone was quite sure he was at least a halfblood. It was just easier with Jessica’s secret and lack of any birth certificate whatsoever to just say he was a muggleborn. “Now let’s get going! We don’t have all day, after all.” She went into the bathroom. Harry stayed where he was.
“What?” she asked.
“It’s a girl’s bathroom,” he said.
“So? No one’s used it for decades,” Amanda told him. “And there’s no one to see you in it anyway.” Harry glanced down the hallways before dashing into the room.
“Where are we going?” he asked as she led him to the sinks. She carefully looked over them all, finding the sink that the note described. She turned it on. Nothing came out.
“It’s somewhere that only Slytherin heirs can go,” she said. Then she stood up straight and pointed at the sink. “Speak to it.”
“How?” he asked. She shrugged.
“Just start speaking Parseltongue,” she said. He hesitated, and because she was impatient, she turned toward the sink and said in Parseltongue, “Open.”
The sink began to sink (pun intended) into the ground until eventually, there was no sink at all. Amanda walked forward, seeing the pipe large enough for both her and Harry to go down together.
“See?” she said.
“Are we going down there?” Harry asked. It was a little daunting, Amanda admitted, as she could not see the bottom. But her excitement overran her fear.
She hopped in.
It seemed to go on forever before her feet found solid ground. She darted out of the way, a grin spreading on her face as she glanced around the green-hued corridor.
“Amanda?” an echo reached out to her.
“I’m fine!” she called back up the pipe. “Come on! Are you a Gryffindor or not?!”
Seconds later, she heard yelling. Closer and closer it came until Harry stumbled out from the pipe, finding his feet at the last second and breathing.
“What is this place?” he asked after he stood up and took it all in. There were a few other pipes leading to other directions, but only one corridor, and it was cleaner than the pipes.
“It’s called the Chamber of Secrets,” Amanda said. She marched forward, having memorized the note in her pocket enough to know it was the corridor she had to go through.
“Why is it here? What is it used for?” Harry asked, following after her.
“Long story short, the founders of the houses pretty much hated each other, but Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff hated Slytherin the most. It was basically because he only wanted purebloods in the school, which made sense at the time. But anyway, he disappeared down here and built this chamber. No one but Slytherin Heirs know how to find it.”
There was a moment of just the echoing sound of their footsteps. Then Harry asked, “So I’m a descendent of Slytherin?”
“You must be—it’s the only way to be a Parselmouth,” she answered. He sighed.
“So I should have gotten into Slytherin, then,” he said, as if that answered all of life’s problems.
“Just because you’re related doesn’t mean you belong there,” Amanda pointed out. “Just look at my sisters. They’re technically related too but they aren’t in Slytherin.”
After opening another door with her Parseltongue, Amanda led Harry through the final corridor. She paused as she walked through, marveling at the huge statue at the opposite end. It felt like the Slytherin common room, but regal. And though the common room was her place at Hogwarts, this felt like her bedroom at home.
This was hers.
“Now what?” Harry asked. Amanda didn’t say anything. She just stared at the statue.
She knew what came next. She knew, but hesitated, because she had waited so long already. Ever since Gran gave her the box of her mother’s things. Ever since she had found the note. . .
“I have returned, King of Snakes!” she announced, just as the note had told her. The mouth of the statue before her opened, and out came a snake that could have eaten both Harry and Amanda whole. It slithered out with averted eyes, stopping just inches away from Amanda.
“An heir has returned,” it said. He said, sniffing.
“Two,” she corrected. It sniffed at Harry with closed eyes, who stood petrified as it came nearer to him.
“No, not two,” he said. “But you are unique. . .Speak to me, snake-speaker.”
“H-hello,” Harry said, more confidently than Amanda would have thought.
“Interesting. . .You may not have the blood of Slytherin, but you share so many qualities of an heir. . .”
“He’s not an heir?” Amanda asked, frowning.
“No,” he confirmed, raising his head.
“Does that mean he shouldn’t be here?” she asked softly. The basilisk sniffed at Harry again.
“He can speak to snakes,” he declared. “He can stay.”
“Brilliant!” Amanda declared, turning to Harry with a wide grin on her face. He still looked terrified.
“Why does he have his eyes closed?” Harry asked, still looking at it.
“If we look into his eyes, we die,” Amanda explained. “So don’t do that. Also, be wary of his teeth—basilisk venom is one of the worst venoms out there.” Harry’s eyes widened, finally looking to her.
“Does Dumbledore know about him?” Harry asked, using English. Amanda found it odd he only seemed to use Parseltongue while looking at a snake.
“Of course not—no one but Slytherin Heirs are supposed to know about this,” Amanda said, replying in English for Harry’s sake. “Slytherin himself made sure that he would never be found, and it’s now our duty to do the same.”
“Our duty? But he just said I’m not a Slytherin Heir.” Harry pointed out.
“You know about him, so now it’s your responsibility too,” Amanda responded unconsciously slipping into Parseltongue as she crossed her arms. “Not that anyone is really looking for him anymore…it has been centuries since he was used properly.” The mammoth snake shifted.
“Used?” he asked. “I have only ever been asked to carry out Salazar Slytherin’s wishes. Do you not wish to do the same?” Amanda turned to her basilisk, his eyes still closed.
“I don’t know,” Amanda said honestly. The snake gave a soft hiss, almost like a sigh.
“Young heir, you have yet to prove yourself,” it said, moving closer. “I remember your grandmother. Arianna’s confidence was unprecedented by all who came before her, but she was clever with it, and she proved herself quickly, unlike that other one—that Riddle. A riddle he was indeed, when he came to me. While I obeyed Arianna from her second year onward, it was not until Riddle’s fifth year that I decided he was worthy enough to be a Slytherin Heir.”
“How—how many Slytherin Heirs have been down here?” Harry asked from behind her. Amanda was too busy thinking to listen. She had never considered asking about her grandmother. When she went over to Theo’s house, she often was forced to listen to her grandfather—and therefore, Theo’s grandfather as well—about Arianna. Despite dying young, there were many stories to tell, it seemed. Most of them made Amanda either bored or uncomfortable. Adrianna, on the other hand. . .
“As many Slytherins have walked through the doors of this old castle,” the basilisk said.
“What about Adrianna, my mother?” Amanda asked. The snake hesitated in answering.
“She was as subtle of a being as you are, I remember. Just as prideful, too. But down here, where even my eyes couldn’t touch her, she showed a very strange amount of reverence for me. The only thing she asked of me was the wisdom I have gained over a thousand years of life.”
“When did she prove herself to you?” Amanda asked. Harry seemed to shift uncomfortably beside her, as if this conversation was too private for him.
“Perhaps I will tell you when I deem you worthy enough to know,” the basilisk answered, a chuckle escaping him.
Harry had his own questions after that, which was understandable. Apparently, he had lived with muggles before this, which was absolutely confusing to Amanda. Amanda had questions too, and before long, Amanda started to lose track of time.
“I believe,” said the basilisk after a while, “you should return to the school before you are noticed missing. It would not do good to draw attention to your whereabouts.”
“One more question,” Amanda said.
“If you must,” the basilisk said, giving that sighing hiss again.
“What’s your name?” Amanda asked. “You never said.”
“Fascinating,” the large snake spoke. His tone, on a human, would have come with a smile. “I have gone by many names, some forgotten in my old age. The Slytherin Heir traditionally chooses the most fitting name, and I must comply. Though, the tradition has been broken once before.”
“Then I want to break it a second time,” Amanda said, standing taller like she saw Mrs. Malfoy do in the company of higher status. “What is your name?”
The basilisk was quiet once again, and he was still. Even though Amanda couldn’t see his eyes, she knew there was contemplation behind them. She could feel it. A war within the mind. Merlin knew she had seen the expression behind Snape’s eyes more than once.
As you wish,” the basilisk said, and he dipped his head as he said, “I wish to be called Bozhidar.”
And so the plot of the Chamber Of Secrets explodes.
Delilah wished Hogwarts had a map that changed along with it, because although there seemed fifty different ways to get to a certain classroom, only one would work at any given time, and it was a guessing game as to which one. Not to mention she was used to finding things by scent, such as her sisters in another room. But the castle was much larger than the Longbottom house, and the scents were so jumbled and mixed up together Delilah couldn’t pick them out.
The hardest part was finding the Great Hall. She thought it would be easy the first day considering the smell of food was so strong. However, she kept finding herself near the kitchen and ended up having to skip breakfast because of it.
The second day, she had found an older boy about Elena’s age and had decided he knew where he was going. So Delilah had followed him from the Hufflepuff basement to the Great Hall.
Since then, Delilah had waited in the common room for the boy, staying a few seconds after he left to follow him to the Great Hall. If she got too far behind, his smell wasn’t very hard to follow, as it was the distinct smell of grass.
Usually, he was with at least two other boys of his year. He was very social, always loud enough to hear but never shouting. That was another easy way to find him.
Monday, however, the boy was alone, striding along slowly as if he were enjoying the morning air, only they were inside. She wished he would walk faster, though, because her first class started early, and her stomach was aching horribly for food.
He turned to face her.
With a look of neutrality, he said, “Is there a reason you keep following me, or should I be worried that I have a stalker?” Delilah ducked her head.
“I’m not stalking you, I just can’t find my way to the Great Hall on my own, and you know the way, so. . .” She tried to avert her eyes, but it was hard, especially when he grinned at her.
“You should have just said so,” he said. “I’m guessing you’re a first year?” Delilah nodded. “I remember my first year. This castle can be very confusing for the first couple of months. Do you want to walk with me?”
“I don’t have to,” she said. “You could just give me directions, if you want.” He shrugged.
“My friends are coming to breakfast later, and I don’t like walking alone,” the older student told her.
And so they went. Delilah didn’t know what specifically urged her to walk beside him, but she did.
“So what’s your name?” the boy asked as they walked.
“Delilah,” she answered. “Delilah Coppin.”
“Oh, that’s right! You are one of the Coppins,” the boy said, looking at her. “Are you triplets, or is one of you a cousin or something?”
“We’re triplets,” Delilah answered.
“Really? I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to meet triplets before,” the older student explained. “Are you identical?”
“No,” she said a bit too quickly, having expected the question.
“I figured as much, considering you all ended up in different houses,” he said. “That’s really neat. Oh, wait a minute, I forgot! I’m Cedric Diggory.” He gave a dip of his head.
Delilah opened her mouth to say something, but they had entered Great Hall and the overpowering smell of food cut her off. As usual there was little commotion inside because of how early it was and Delilah only spotted Audrey, who managed to figure out how to eat and read at the same time at the Ravenclaw table.
Delilah made the motion to just sit at the first spot available at the Hufflepuff table, but Cedric caught her eye and gave a warm smile.
“Want to sit with me?” he asked.
“You don’t mind?” Delilah asked.
He shrugged again. “Like I said, my friends are coming later.”
“Okay,” she said, and followed him down the table. The Great Hall was still rather empty as she started filling her plate. They sat practically alone on the Hufflepuff table aside from a few people down the way.
“So how has your first week been?”
“I keep getting lost,” Delilah told him, eating her food. “This castle is so confusing—I’ve been late for almost every class.”
“It was like that for me, too,” Cedric said, jumping into his own food. “All of the different wings of the castle and the changing staircases had me asking directions so many times that I swear the prefects waited where I always got lost to point me in the right direction. Don’t worry, though—soon you’ll know your way around this place like you know your way around your own house.”
“That’s good,” Delilah said.
“So are you not an English wizarding family?” Cedric asked.
“We are,” Delilah corrected looking at him. “Our mother was a pureblood, but our father was orphaned as a boy, so our last name isn’t common. He was raised by muggles, you see.”
“Really?” Cedric asked. She nodded.
“Yes,” Delilah answered. “Gran tells us that he was most likely a muggleborn.” She got tense. She didn’t hate her dad like Amanda did, or ignore him completely like Audrey did, but she didn’t really remember him, either. However, it had been a subject that usually resulted an awkward end to the conversation or a few harsh words.
“I only assumed because I don’t really recognize your last name, yet you seem too sure of yourself to be muggleborn.” Delilah couldn’t help but smile at that comment. Cedric opened his mouth to ask something else just as another student swung around and sat next to him. A second friend of his sat next to him soon after.
“Helping out firsties, Cedric?” asked one of them. He was lanky with curly brown hair that was closely cut, but still uncooperative from what Delilah could tell.
“She was lost,” Cedric said. “We were just talking about our families.”
“Oh, are you going Slytherin on us now?” teased his curly haired friend, shoving Cedric. He suddenly turned on Delilah. “Don’t worry—Hufflepuff is usually a “blood-status” free place. Not like those Slytherins.”
The other friend, this one being more filled out with lighter hair and blue eyes, tilted his head. “You’re one of those Coppins though, right? From the Sorting? So you must know all about blood-status—your sister looked like she was that Draco Malfoy’s sister.”
Delilah was a bit overwhelmed as she responded, “Since our grandfather is a Nott, we spend a lot of time with the Nott family, and Draco sometimes joins us.”
“Your cousin was hanging out with that Elena Nott, too,” the blue-eyed friend pointed out. “Are you all family?”
“That wasn’t her cousin,” Cedric corrected, almost as if he were a bit proud to know the answer. “She’s a triplet.”
“Really?” groaned the curly haired friend. Delilah nodded in reply.
“Pay up, my friend!” said the blue-eyed friend, holding out his hand as the other took out several sickles..
“We made a bet, you see,” the blue-eyed boy began, “because I insisted that you were a triplet while he believed the Ravenclaw one was a cousin.”
“I didn’t walk you to the Great Hall just to settle this, I’ll have you know,” Cedric said, giving her that warm smile that he had before. “I just wanted to talk to my stalker.” Delilah blushed a little.
“I wasn’t stalking you,” she insisted. She couldn’t help but glance over to Audrey. However, Audrey was gone.
“Of course you were—” one of the friends began.
“I have to go!” she exclaimed, remembering that she had a class with Audrey that started in just five minutes. Snatching up her bag, she stumbled out of the table. “Sorry—”
And she was off to chase down her sister.
In terms of not getting lost, following her sisters worked for the first half of the day, during which she had classes with either the Slytherins or the Ravenclaws. Her Charms class, however, was with the Gryffindors, and she couldn’t find Neville or any first year Gryffindor at all.
Delilah tried to follow Cedric’s advice, but the more she looked for a Ravenclaw or any older student, the more deserted each of the hallways seemed to be. The one she was currently walking through had absolutely no signs of life, and all the scents that had been there were faded and weak.
She heard it. A rustling of claws on floor. Large claws on floor. She also heard a bit of whining, as if there were a giant dog hidden somewhere. She dared to take a sniff, coughing as she smelled just what was making the noise.
Delilah went further through the corridor, following the sounds of the creature rather than the overpowering smell. Finally, she came to a door. She wiggled the door knob. It was locked.
Why would there be a big dog locked in a room? Delilah thought to herself. She took out her wand and pointed it at the lock, thinking of the charm she had heard the Weasley twins attempt on numerous occasions while trying to get into the forbidden room at Gran’s.
“Alohomora!” she said. Having only heard the spell a few times, Delilah smiled with pride as she turned the knob and heard the door click open. She pushed it ajar, poking her head through as soon as she was able. She gasped.
The dog was giant. It barely fit in the room. It also had three heads, which Delilah could not stop staring at.
They raised their heads with their teeth bared. Slowly, she knelt, keeping their eye contact. They continued their aggressiveness, so she transformed on instinct like she did when her werewolf sister would get too riled up during the full moon.
They stopped their snarling. Two of them tilted their heads, sniffing curiously at the little white wolf now lying down but still staring.
In a loud groan of the floors and walls, the three headed dog jumped up and landed in a play bow. Delilah heard its tail wagging on the wood. Curiously, she mimicked their move, initiating the play.
The thing barked, sending thunder through the room. Awkwardly and without much room, Delilah ran forward, dodging their heads as they playfully snapped at her.
It went on for about a half an hour, seeing as she had already missed her class running around trying to find it. Finally, however, she transformed back into a human and grinned at the now panting three-headed dog.
“I’ve got to go,” she told them. “I’ll be back soon, I promise.”
They whined as they laid down and gave her the cutest faces they ever could, ears down and everything. Her heart went out to them, as they were extremely lonely in this small little room.
“I’ll be back,” she promised again as she backed out of the room.
Once Delilah was out of it, she closed the door. She had no clue how to lock it back up, so she made a mental note to learn a locking spell before coming to play again as she strode to where she hoped the Great Hall was.
Delilah had no clue why something like that would be in a school full of children with the potential to get lost, but she knew they were not played with or given the attention they needed.
So she took it upon herself to do the job.
As much as Delilah would have liked to meet the three headed dog more, she did not manage to drop by until Wednesday due to all of the homework and school she was rushing to get done. Not to mention Cedric always seemed to be inviting her to sit with him at breakfast or volunteering to walk her to her next class if he happened by her in the halls. She didn’t mind, as she loved spending time with the third year, but she couldn’t very well sneak over to see the three headed dog while he was around.
And then, on top of all that, she had to worry herself with flying lessons.
It was a very strange thing to hear right before bed: flying lessons would begin the next morning. No one had ever said anything to her about flying lessons. Just the thought of it made her nervous. She had been on a broom before, obviously, but only once when they had gone over to Fred and George’s house for a bit and Amanda had tricked her onto one. It hadn’t gone well.
The next day, out of anxiety and nervousness, she told this to Cedric, who had once again invited her to sit with him during breakfast.
“Flying is easy,” Cedric reassured her, “and I’m not just saying that because I like it. As long as you follow the rules, you shouldn’t get hurt at all, and I bet you’ll be great at it anyway.”
“Really?” she asked. He gave her that same comforting grin.
“Really,” he responded.
“You really shouldn’t be one to talk,” said his curly haired friend, who she had learned was named Rory. “You’re going to be on the team, after all.” Cedric rolled his eyes.
“The tryouts haven’t even been held yet,” Cedric told them.
“I’ve seen your competition,” Rory added air quotes to the word. “In two weeks, your name will be up on the announcement board, just you wait.
“And then we can finally win the Quidditch Cup,” declared the blue-eyed friend, Evan. Gazing at Delilah, he said, “Hufflepuff hasn’t been the winner in decades—Charlie Weasley saw to that. Then he left, and the Slytherins upped their game. But at the end of last year the team swore that we would win it no matter what.”
“I don’t suppose you have the flying class with Slytherins?” Cedric asked.
“No, it’s with the Ravenclaws,” Delilah responded.
“Well, there is that, at least,” Cedric told her. “Ravenclaw hasn’t won the Quidditch Cup for longer than we have—it’s a running joke that they’re too busy strategizing to actually be able to sit down and play.”
Delilah had been happy to hear the lessons were with Ravenclaw too, but for a completely different reason. Whereas Audrey had never been on a broom in her life, Amanda always seemed to be sneaking around Gran to practice, and she was always on one when they were at the Notts or Malfoys. She was glad she wouldn’t be making a fool of herself in front of her more domineering sister.
Feeling much better about the lesson to come, Delilah managed to make it to her first class on time and patiently wait through it. Right after that was flying lessons.
The trek out to the field wasn’t too bad, and though they weren’t in the Quidditch pitch as Cedric said they would be, Delilah was glad to see the forest. Even if she couldn’t go in it, just being near it made her feel home.
The mix of yellow and blue shuffled around the twenty or so broomsticks on the ground. Audrey found her almost immediately.
“How was your first class? Transfiguration with Amanda, isn’t it?” Audrey asked.
“It was fine,” Delilah said.
Audrey spoke quickly, “My Charms class with the Gryffindors was alright. We still haven’t done anything substantial—just the basics. I wonder when we’ll get to some of the spells we were learning about, like the levitation one. Elena told me that was one of the first charms you use—”
“Are you nervous?” Delilah interrupted. Audrey’s shoulders fell, and her dark hair (which was shorter than Amanda’s) fell with them.
“A little,” she answered.
“Flying is easy,” Delilah promised with a smile. “Cedric told me himself.” Audrey narrowed her eyes.
“Is that the third year I always see you with?” Audrey questioned suspiciously. Delilah nodded.
“He’s been helping me memorize the castle,” Delilah explained.
“He’s also a third year,” Audrey spoke, her eyebrows raised. It made her angular face stand out.
“Why does that matter?” Delilah asked, tilting her head.
“He’s Elena’s age,” Audrey answered.
“What does that matter?” Delilah asked, genuinely confused.
Audrey opened her mouth to respond, but just before the words came out a woman Delilah could only assume was Madam Hooch stalked onto the field, her hawk eyes glancing around to each student.
“Well? Get next to a broom!” she barked at them. Delilah and Audrey, still next to each other, strode next to their brooms. “Now stick out your right arm and say up!”
“Up!” Delilah shouted, staring at the broom. The broom stayed as still as a stone. She frowned, glaring as she said, “Up! Up! Up!” No movement.
She went on, forcing more and more into her voice until she thought maybe that was why it wasn’t working. So she softened her voice, but still, the broom did not move.
“Great job, Audrey!” exclaimed a Ravenclaw. Delilah glanced to the side, seeing that her sister had taken hold of her broom.
So Delilah tried harder, practically bellowing it out before sighing with frustration as Madam Hooch strode over.
“You can’t force the broom—here, try this,” the teacher said, but none of her solutions worked and Delilah was the last one left.
Finally, after giving up, she gave one last “Up!” and the broom floated to her hand weakly.
“Good job,” Audrey said, giving her that ‘you finally did what normal people do’ smile.
Delilah scowled and paid attention to the teacher.
The flying lesson didn’t improve from there. After finally learning how to mount her broom (though Madam Hooch made sure to correct her several times), Madam Hooch blew a whistle and they were all meant to get into the air.
Delilah did not.
Many of the students pushed off the ground, some (like Zacharias) flew in a circle with obvious practice while others (such as Audrey) did exactly as told and shakily flew straight up and hovered for further commands. Delilah, meanwhile, was one of two people still on the ground, for she had kicked up, but the broom barely moved two inches before settling back down.
The teacher once again tried to help her with a voice full of annoyance, and that only added to the stress already piled up from not managing to get off the ground like everyone else.
So, as the other students leisurely flew back and forth on Madam Hooch’s command, Delilah just practiced getting off the ground.
She was behind, again.
For the rest of the day, Delilah huffed around angrily. She knew she was the only one who couldn’t fly, and by the time the Gryffindors and Slytherins went, she would be the worst one in their year. But it makes no sense! She found herself thinking often. After all, Audrey had been fine, and Delilah had understood everything Madam Hooch had taught her.
She did not sit with Cedric for the few minutes of lunch they had together. She didn’t even sit with her sisters during class. That is, until Amanda slid in beside her with an ice pack before transfiguration.
Momentarily distracted, Delilah asked, “What happened?” Distantly, she hoped Amanda had fallen.
“Neville,” Amanda muttered. Her eyes were half closed with pain. “He was nervous so he messed up the takeoff, flying up until he fell. And because I decided to be a hero, I now get to spend detention with Snape with a headache.” Delilah’s stomach twisted, worried for Neville but also worried for Amanda as she remembered her snake-like sister telling her that she got a few weeks detention for ‘letting a snake loose in the Gryffindor common room.’
“Is he okay?” Delilah asked. “And how’d you get hurt?”
“I had the stupid idea of trying to break his fall,” Amanda explained. “I was only trying to help. Anyway, he fell on me and broke his wrist. Thankfully I just got a bump, but we were still both sent to the Hospital Wing.”
“See? Your big head finally has some use,” Delilah teased. Amanda gave her a fake glare.
“Oh, shut up.”
“I bet you got to skip a few classes,” Delilah said.
“Not really, and that’s not the worst part,” Amanda hissed. Not angry, just annoyed. “Apparently Harry did this amazing thing against Draco, and I missed it because I decided to be the big sister for once. I was so stupid!”
“What did Harry do?” Delilah questioned. Amanda shrugged.
“I dunno—I think he caught Neville’s Remembrall or something heroic like that. All I know is that Draco is singing about Harry being expelled and I can’t even shut him up because I wasn’t there,” Amanda said. Delilah wanted to say more, but Professor McGonagall had walked into class, and if Delilah had learned anything in her first days at Hogwarts, it was to be quiet around the cat-smelling lady.
Soon, the news about Harry’s typically Gryffindor sacrifice had flooded the school, and Delilah got the entire story. Harry Potter had broken the rules when Draco decided take Neville’s Remembrall, to which Harry took back while flying. The last thing anyone saw of him before he returned to classes was McGonagall taking him away.
“Apparently Harry had never been on a broom before, which is stupid, I know,” Amanda had said. “and I didn’t even get the chance to fly. By the time I was told to go back to class, everyone was up in the air flying around. Even Hermione.”
While Delilah was glad Amanda and Neville were okay, she had one very selfish thought. Even Hermione could fly on a broom. Sure, Neville had fallen, but all of the Gryffindors and Slytherins of her year had at least left the ground.
So Delilah went through the rest of the day in a ruined mood, barely even speaking during dinner when Cedric had asked her how flying lessons went. He had tried to comfort her, but she wasn’t listening.
It lasted even when she had made it to bed. As Hannah, Susan, and the rest of the Hufflepuffs in her dormitory breathed in their patterned sleep, Delilah stared upward, fully awake. She told herself repeatedly that she needed to sleep, but to no result.
Delilah, fully aware of the consequences, got out of bed and stepped into the deserted common room. She snuck through. When she was out, she hurried down the corridor, following her own scent in the dark toward her three-headed friend.
She made sure to stop every so often and listen in case there was a teacher around. Or worse, Filch and his cat. The both of them were at least easy to smell.
The castle was frightening at night with all the portraits asleep and all the lights out. Yet Delilah wasn’t scared—she was used to finding her way through darkness. It was actually rather thrilling to her, to be sneaking away into forgotten corridor as if she were in a heroic novel like the ones Audrey liked to read.
Finally, Delilah made it, surprised at how cold her bare feet were. She quickly unlocked the door and slid in, closing it gently beside her before spinning and transforming in a swift movement.
Six eyes met her. She heard the banging thud of their tail and started to wag hers. Instead of playing with her as they usually did, the dogs tilted their heads and sniffed, giving soft, comforting whines. She strode over and snuggled next to their paw, and their gigantic heads laid down next to her.
They stayed that for what seemed like hours. She heard them snoring just slightly, and she, too, was drifting off to sleep, wondering if anyone in the Hufflepuff Common room would question her absence. . .
Delilah was to her paws, her eyes widening as she saw Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and finally Amanda pile into the room like their life depended on it. She transformed back in her human form as Neville turned around and stared at the three-headed dog with eyes that couldn’t widen anymore.
Delilah put a finger to her lips. Neville just stared.
“I think we’re safe now,” Harry said.
“You might want to turn around,” Amanda said. Her sister had faced her and, though she was very still, she showed only mild surprise.
Harry turned and then backed himself up against a wall.
“Be quiet!” Delilah shouted as quietly as she could. She could feel the three-headed dog towering behind her. “They won’t hurt you if you stay quiet and still.”
“Do you know where we are?” Hermione hissed to no one in particular. “This is the forbidden third corridor! If Filch finds us in here—!”
“It is?” Delilah asked, tilting her head.
“Of course it is! Why else would this door be locked?” the Gryffindor witch questioned.
“I just thought, you know, maybe they just kept him in a corridor no one really uses anymore. . .” Delilah spoke.
“How long have you been seeing this three-headed friend of yours?” Amanda asked. She didn’t seem phased at all, other than the fact her hand was shaking.
“About a week,” Delilah said, “but I was going to tell you—I swear. We were just so busy.”
“Alright,” Amanda managed to say, her voice higher than usual. Her poison green eyes did not leave the three-headed dog.
From there, it was quiet. Neville continued tremble and Ron looked ready to sprint back out the door at any sudden move. The dogs, however, stood still, tense and ready to pounce, but more out of protection than outright aggression.
“I think he left!” Hermione after carefully listening through the door. Neville, Ron, and Harry all hurried for the door with Hermione following them after a quick glance at the floor.
“We need to go,” Amanda said, and swiftly glided away. Delilah turned and put a hand on the three headed dog’s shoulder.
“I’ll make sure to see you soon,” she told them, and dashed out of the room.
She caught up to Amanda soon after she relocked the door, and they jogged from hallway to hallway, going downstairs and then upstairs, but then Amanda stopped. Delilah sniffed in, catching the unforgettable scent of garlic and fear.
“In here!” Delilah exclaimed, and pulled her sister into an empty classroom, closing the door as quietly as she could.
“Are you sure there aren’t any three-headed dogs in this room?”
“Be quiet,,” Delilah said lightly, though Amanda really did need to be quiet.
Amanda shrugged, but both of them watched carefully as the turban-wearing Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher stepped by their door. Delilah noticed that his fear scent was gone and that he wasn’t shaking, but dismissed it as soon as she saw Amanda wasn’t beside her.
“Amanda!” Delilah called out, her eyes having not yet adjusted to the dark.
“I’m over here, moron!” Amanda’s voice rang back. Quiet enough to only be heard by her, but loud enough to actually reach her. Delilah followed the voice and her scent, finally beginning to see clearer.
“Oh, Merlin, you’ve got to look at this!” Amanda exclaimed.
“What?” Delilah asked, finally seeing her sister. The Slytherin was in front of a mirror a few feet taller than her. It had an inscription, though it was in some language Delilah didn’t understand.
“I’m a dragon!” Amanda shouted. Delilah looked closely, and found that her sister was right. Where she stood, a very large black dragon stood proudly over what looked like the Hogwarts castle.
That’s really big, Delilah thought.
“I wonder if this mirror shows us our true animal?” Amanda asked out loud.
“Can I see?” Delilah asked, taking a step forward. Her sister ignored her. “Please?”
“Hold on, I’ve just got here—”
“But I want to see what animal I am!” Delilah exclaimed.
Amanda sighed, stepping aside as she said, “Fine, but I want to get a look after you.” Delilah grinned, quickly taking her sister’s place.
She didn’t see an animal.
She saw herself with her sisters at the table back at Gran’s, just talking. They were speaking mainly to her, she soon noticed.
“Well that’s boring,” Amanda commented. Delilah had to agree, but she still felt…home when she saw it. Her Slytherin sister took a step forward, saying, “Come on, let me see that dragon again.”
“Hold on,” Delilah said instinctively, staying still.
“Why, so you can stare at something you see everyday?” Amanda asked, but Delilah didn’t answer. Thankfully, Amanda seemed to be in a forgiving mood, and let her stare for a few more minutes.
Delilah couldn’t explain why, but she wanted to keep staring at that mirror. Amanda seemed to want the same because they kept fighting over who got to stand in front of the mirror, eventually settling on taking turns in five minute intervals. They only managed to leave three hours later when Delilah heard a teacher snooping around other classrooms.
“We’ll see it again tomorrow,” Amanda promised. However, when they returned to the disused classroom that afternoon, they found themselves disappointed.
The mirror was gone.
Yep. I'm going there. To be fair, Cedric Diggory is an amazing character to write and go into depth with, so I have no regrets.
Chapter 5: Screaming Creatures and Presents That Move
Audrey had noticed something was off about her sisters hours before they told her about their night in the forbidden corridor that next afternoon. She wasn’t jealous at all about not meeting the three-headed dog or running from Filch, but she wished that mirror hadn’t disappeared. She wondered what it would show her and why exactly it showed what it did in the first place.
They had decided, after a stressful few weeks, that it was time to be in their animal forms again. They went to classes as normal, but Audrey could hardly sit still. As with every time she was forced to stay human for long periods of time, she was itching to get out and just run for a few hours. Amanda and Delilah weren’t much better. Her Slytherin sister was uncharacteristically snappish when some of the Slytherins started talking to her at breakfast and Delilah was speaking very, very fast in class.
Audrey wasn’t sure how she was getting to wherever the three of them were going to be able to play around, so she just started doing homework in the common room, hoping to be easily found. It was apparently the best call, because just after dark a prefect came strolling in with a note in her hand.
“Coppin! Come with me,” the perfect barked.
“Just let me put my bag away,” Audrey responded, and after a gesture of permission from the prefect, Audrey scooped up her stuff and tossed it next to her bed before rushing back to the common room.
They went a pretty roundabout way to the Headmaster’s office. Audrey wouldn’t have cared aside from the fact she had been trying to keep her energy contained all day, so her impatience was starting to wear thin. It took forever to finally meet up with Professor McGonagall in one of the many corridors near the Headmaster’s office.
After Professor McGonagall gave the prefect orders to go back to her duties, she led her to a room just off the corridor where Audrey already heard Amanda and Delilah rustling about.
“I will be your supervising teacher this evening,” Professor McGonagall said once she had gotten their attention.
Audrey was quite glad she did not have Professor McGonagall as the head of her house because she was much more stiff and strict than Professor Flitwick, who she felt she could talk to all day about charms or any subject worth learning about, really. McGonagall seemed more like the type of teacher who would help you learn a task completely and then quickly send you on your way rather than allow you to go off-topic into something you found interesting and engage in academic discussion. Professor Flitwick also tended to be lax on talking as he considered collaborative learning very productive, but McGonagall would stare down at Audrey even if she had only snuck one word to one of her sisters. It was why the Ravenclaw stayed quiet while they walked down the vaulted corridors, and Amanda and Delilah must have thought similarly, because there was no conversation as they followed the deputy headmistress. Not even a whisper.
Blue moonlight shone on the grass as Professor McGonagall led them out to a field just around the corner from the greenhouses. The moon wasn’t full, but Audrey still wanted to shift right then and there to bask in it and the sharp autumn air. She managed to keep ahold of herself, however, until she knew for sure they were allowed to play.
“Please remember that you are restricted to where I can see you and you are forbidden to enter the forest. I will let you know when it is time to return to your dorms,” Professor McGonagall told them. Audrey glanced over to Amanda, who gave a smirk and disappeared into the grass. Being as jittery as she was, Audrey leaped backward like a spooked horse into her animal from, trotting away while throwing her head.
Before she knew it, Delilah was bounding up to her with her blindingly white coat and her tongue out. Audrey stopped and pawed at the ground with a powerful hoof, remembering how good it felt to be on four long legs, strong enough to carry much more weight than she ever would when she was human. The breeze against her coat, the sounds of distant animals, the knowledge that she could clear this field within a few minutes and just about thirty strides was enough to send her bucking and tossing her head around some more
Delilah soon got her attention, though, and with just one look and a play bow, Audrey knew what her sister wanted. She sprang away at a trot, careful to stay within sight of McGonagall as Delilah raced after her with a menacing yet playful snarl.
They played the “no canter” game, as Delilah called it, for a long while. McGonagall had conjured a desk and seemed to be grading homework. Audrey wondered for only a little bit what it would be like to jump over said desk, but quickly erased the thought when she noticed Delilah catching up.
Audrey eventually felt a nip on her back leg, and she stopped, allowing herself to breathe as the white wolf dashed away, parting the grass with a sound that was somewhere between a bark and a howl. After Audrey felt that she had caught her breath, she trotted after the canine, zigzagging in an attempt to catch her.
A scream split the field and forced Delilah and Audrey to halt in their place. McGonagall didn’t move, so Audrey assumed only they could hear it clearly enough, but she still perked her ears toward the Forbidden Forest, trying to listen for it while stiffly watching the treeline.
Delilah recovered faster, making more noises to get her to play. Audrey didn’t move, however. Something kept her still, waiting for what she knew had to be—
It stabbed through the air again. Closer. More desperate. Audrey felt herself take a step toward the forest, but she kept herself from taking anymore. It’s probably just a bird, she told herself, but that didn’t help at all. Delilah was looking as well, whining as Professor McGonagall raised her gaze.
The third time, Audrey shifted and spun around to face Professor McGonagall.
“Professor, there’s something wrong in the forest!” Audrey exclaimed. The deputy headmistress gave her a sharp gaze.
“That forest is full of violent creatures,” the professor told her. “There is a reason it is forbidden.”
“But there’s something screaming loud enough for me to hear all the way out here!” Audrey reasoned.
“Is that what that is?” Delilah asked. Audrey turned to her sister.
“You can’t hear that?” Audrey questioned.
“I can, I just didn’t know what it—”
An owl hooted, flying overhead seemingly twice as fast as Audrey’s lackluster owl. A package dropped onto Professor McGonagall’s conjured desk. Audrey saw her pick up the package, reading the letter attached to it.
Without even opening the package, she brought out her wand, giving it a sharp flick before a silvery creature shot out and raced toward Hagrid’s hut.
“What’s wrong?” Delilah asked.
“Did someone die?” Amanda questioned coming out of the grass in her human form with a smirk on her face. Audrey didn’t give her a second glance, she was too busy waiting for an explanation.
The professor, who seemed focused on whatever was screaming now, strode over.
“Professor Snape will arrive shortly to take you back to your dormitories,” Professor McGonagall told them, hurrying forward.
“What’s wrong?” Audrey asked, repeating Delilah’s question.
“Nothing that concerns a first year,” the professor said quickly as she passed. “Everything will be taken care of, now stay here or expect to spend the rest of your Saturday afternoons in my office.”
Audrey bit her lip from saying anything further. It was torture having to sit there and wait while that screaming creature—
“What?” Delilah and Amanda asked at the same time.
“The screaming, it stopped,” Audrey breathed, staring at the forest.
“And?” Amanda asked carelessly.
“Hagrid saved it?” Delilah guessed.
“It’s dead,” Audrey responded.
Audrey’s composure was in shreds the next day. Professor Snape had arrived a few minutes later and drug them away before they could be given any news on what had died. Audrey didn’t have the nerve to ask either Professor Snape or Professor McGonagall about what had actually happened the next day, so that job was left to her imagination, which did a thorough recounting of every scenario that could have happened.
She constantly asked herself one question: why did she care so much? After all, she had watched Amanda and Jessica kill things almost every full moon. But the screaming of this particular animal kept ringing through her head like one of Delilah’s chilling howls.
Audrey had managed to get through her morning classes easily enough, but during her break she started thinking about the screaming some more. She decided to work on an essay that was due for Transfiguration to keep her mind busy, so she rushed up to the Ravenclaw tower, sat herself down on the first chair she could spot and started scribbling.
The essay, however, was mind-numbingly easy—she hardly had to think about it at all. Which, of course, meant the events of the night before kept coming to her head. Could she have done something? Would she have, with the threat of expulsion or at the very least the loss of points for her house? What even was that animal? She felt like it was important, something she needed to know more about. She also thought of McGonagall. Did the professor think less of her? Did she think Audrey was weak for worrying about such things? And what was the letter McGonagall had received? What had it said to make her so rushed all of a sudden?
Audrey blinked when she realized she was finished with the essay. She leaned back on her chair, setting her quill down. Having felt like she had just run a mile or two, she longed to go back to bed and just sleep the thoughts away.
“Hello, Audrey, catching up on homework after staying out last night?”
Audrey lifted her gaze, pleased that it was Elena and not a stranger who had noticed her leave last night.
“A bit,” Audrey responded with a sigh.
“Is something wrong?” Elena asked. Audrey stared down at the parchment she had been writing on. Her eldest sister sat in a comfy armchair a few feet away from her own seat, gazing at her not with sympathy, but a calming, actually quite apathetic stare. “What happened?”
“It. . .” Audrey began. She sat up straighter, careful to make sure all of her stuff didn’t slide down. She sighed, and with a much quieter voice, said, “Last night—we went out with Professor McGonagall, and everything was going fine, but there was this screaming from the forest. I don’t know what it was—definitely not human and not something we have encountered before. I tried to tell Professor McGonagall about it, but she said it was just what happened in the Forbidden Forest. But I can’t stop thinking about it . . .”
“From what little I know about the Forbidden Forest, it isn’t too uncommon to hear screaming coming from those trees,” Elena explained.
“But it sounded like it was being tortured, not just killed!” Audrey exclaimed. “And then Professor McGonagall got a letter—”
“What letter?” Elena questioned.
“I don’t know—it was just a letter, and it made her use some sort of silvery spell that went over to Hagrid’s hut, so it must have meant something important, right?” Her eldest sister didn’t say anything at first, but her eyes were narrowed like they were when she was working through those puzzles they had always seen her with when they went over to the Nott’s to visit.
“I don’t know why I keep thinking about this. I’ve seen Jessica slaughter her prey when she wasn’t in a good mood, but this. . .”
“Audrey,” Elena said. Her tone snapped Audrey to attention, but it did not leave Audrey offended. With that ‘don’t be stupid’ stare, she went on, “What is the worst that could have happened?”
“I don’t know,” Audrey said quickly. “That could have been a really important creature—that’s what that letter could have said. Or maybe the thing that killed it is really, really dangerous, and it could come to the castle.”
“If that creature was that dangerous, there would have been more protection around the school by now, and I’m certain we would know at least a little about it,” Elena told her, “and if that creature was really important, they wouldn’t have kept it in the Forbidden Forest.”
Audrey could feel the weight of the stress lifting off of her, if only a little. Still, her Ravenclaw self asked, “Then what was the letter for?”
Elena shrugged. “Perhaps the creature that killed it was dangerous enough to call attention to the attack, but still, if the teachers couldn’t handle it, we would know. So just don’t wander into the Forbidden Forest, and you will be fine.”
Audrey nodded, not sure what else to do. She felt loads better, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t still wondering about it all.
“Thank you,” she said, giving a quick smile to Elena. “You helped me.” Elena smiled a warmer smile at those last few words. Audrey noticed her eldest sister enjoyed being told that.
“You’re welcome,” she said. “So, other than that, how was running around Hogwarts for the first time?” Audrey grinned wider than she had in days, and proceeded to tell her sister all about how much fun it was.
October came quicker than Delilah would have liked. Homework seemed five piles high in her mind, and between Cedric’s private practices, meeting her sisters, and sneaking away at every chance she had to visit the three-headed dog, she seemed like she had no time.
Cedric’s birthday—October 2nd—came without notice for Delilah. She was busy with some last minute studying for a test when he had sat down next to her that morning with his friends bellowing out “Happy birthday to you.” Cedric had ignored them for the most part, but by the end of the song, most of the Hufflepuff’s and a handful of other people from the other houses were singing along (namely, Fred and George Weasley).
Delilah, who was now completely at home when sitting next to the older year, had barely gotten in a quick ‘happy birthday’ before she, Cedric, and his friends started talking about normal things: school, sisters, and Quidditch. He always had new questions about her and every so often she would learn something new about him, too.
Although she hadn’t gotten to talk to him long, for he was soon whisked away by his friends to further celebrate his birthday in between class time.
Before Delilah knew it, she was saying happy birthday to Elena—October 13th—and singing the song to her beside Audrey and Amanda, who had managed to sneak in a few words before going back to the Slytherin table.
They didn’t do much other than that for Elena’s birthday. After all, they had decided their Celebration Day would be October 20th.
Delilah got up actually rather late that morning, but because it was a Saturday, that didn’t matter as much. She had just gotten dressed and found Cedric dutifully waiting for her in the common room.
“Did you get enough sleep last night?” he inquired. Delilah nodded.
“I was tired,” she said.
“Not too tired for another flying lesson, I hope?” Cedric asked. She smiled.
“No,” she said, “I’m too close to being able to take off and do a fly around perfectly to skip that today.”
They went on talking about her improvement and Cedric’s own Quidditch practices, which had come to take up a lot of his time. Still, he had not once suggested that he stop giving her lessons, even the day she had suggested it when he had first been accepted onto the Quidditch team.
The tables were rather empty when they sat down to eat, so Delilah easily spotted Amanda and found that she didn’t have any gifts near her as she had expected. Delilah almost sighed with relief.
“It looks like one of your sisters has something to say to you,” Cedric commented. Sure enough, Audrey was coming over with a strained but happy expression.
“Elena made the reservation at one this afternoon,” Audrey explained. “Just make sure you’re there on time—you wouldn’t want to try to get through the Ravenclaw door on your own.”
“Has the mail come yet?” Delilah asked. Audrey shrugged.
“No, but I don’t think that matters,” she muttered, and with that, she turned around and walked back to the Ravenclaw table.
“What are you going to the Ravenclaw tower for?” Cedric asked curiously.
“To open presents,” Delilah asked, smiling.
“Wait, I thought Elena’s birthday was on the thirteenth?” Cedric asked. Just as he did, three owls—Audrey’s and two others—came in to the Great Hall each carrying a decent sized package.
The school owl gently set down the package next to Delilah’s breakfast plate and flew away. Delilah sighed, peeling off the letter attached to it before she moved on to opening the box.
“Aren’t you going to check who it’s from?” Cedric asked, picking up the discarded letter.
“It won’t say,” Delilah answered, picking up a cleanish knife to help her open the present.
“Why not?” Cedric asked. Because our dad likes being dramatic, Delilah remembered Audrey saying one year. Delilah herself didn’t answer, for she had finally opened up the box. The thing within it made her gasp.
Her dad had given her plenty of gifts before. He never missed their birthday or Christmas; it was like he was still trying to prove that he loved them. However, the gifts were trivial, thoughtless things—chocolate, necklaces from far off places, maybe some socks or some pictures of their mother or muggle grandparents.
That was not what was in the box. The thing was bronze, she decided as she carefully took it out of the package. A bronze statue bigger than her hand of a wolf standing upon a three inch high rectangular bronze box that had a gold plate. Nothing was etched into it, however.
“That looks real!” Cedric exclaimed. It was true—the wolf was as realistic as it could get. She carefully touched it, feeling all the ridges that brought forward the fur from the body.
The wolf moved.
Delilah brought her hand back as the wolf shook his coat and sat before staring up at her. She noticed words appearing on the gold plate, and read them:
“Is that everyone your family?” Cedric asked. Delilah nodded. The names ebbed away, and the gold plate was blank again. “What kind of magical item is this? I’ve never seen anything like it before. Do you know if it does anything else?”
Delilah picked up the letter. It was the first one she had read in years, but there was nothing different about it other than a short “For your first year at Hogwarts” line. She shrugged.
“He didn’t say anything about it here,” Delilah explained.
“He?” Cedric asked.
“My dad,” Delilah answered. Cedric dropped the question. Having heard Delilah speak about him before, he must have remembered she wasn’t comfortable talking about him.
“So, is this just a late ‘welcome to Hogwarts’ present, then?” he asked.
“No—it’s a birthday present,” Delilah answered. She still had not taken her eyes off the wolf, which was now scratching behind his ears making a ‘shink!’ sound with every scratch.
“Is that today? Why didn’t you tell me?” Cedric asked frantically. Delilah smiled and shook her head, breaking her stare and gazing at him.
“No, it’s on the twenty sixth,” she told him. “We just wanted to celebrate it on the twentieth this year because Elena’s birthday is so close to ours.”
“Oh!” Cedric exclaimed in sudden understanding. “That’s why you are going to the Ravenclaw tower.” Delilah nodded.
“Amanda didn’t want to be seen in the Hufflepuff common room, and we aren’t allowed in the Slytherin’s,” Delilah said, distinctly remembering that conversation (argument) about two weeks after term started. Cedric raised his eyebrows.
“Is she too good to be seen with us lowlifes?” he teased. Delilah smiled.
“No, she just wants to build a reputation or something like that.”
“Well, in any case, it looks like we will have to move our practice,” Cedric said. “Is three good for you?” Delilah nodded.
“Yes,” she said.
They went on talking a little more, once again about the same things: school, Quidditch, and sisters.
The Ravenclaw tower was not nearly as welcoming as the Hufflepuff basement, Delilah soon realized. Everything was perfectly clean without any indication anyone actually lived in it. The colors—blue and bronze—were cold even with the light coming in from the windows. She especially felt all this when she entered, for the Ravenclaws glanced up, saw her, and went back to what they were doing with a look of smug superiority. The only thing that was remotely pleasing to Delilah was that everything seemed to be in perfect symmetrical order.
“See what I mean about Ravenclaws and outsiders?” Audrey asked, striding up.
“And I thought Slytherins were prideful,” Amanda remarked as Audrey led them to their reserved spot next to the window. Delilah was still confused as to why there even was a reservation system, considering it was just a ‘first come, first served’ basis in the Hufflepuff common room and if you really needed the space you could just ask for it.
“They at least respect Slytherins to a certain extent,” Elena said as they came closer to her and the dozen or so presents on the table.
“Hey! Are these the leaderboards you were talking about?” Amanda asked, fixated on the blue and bronze plates resting on the wall just a few feet from their spot.
“Yes,” Audrey responded with disdain in her voice.
“They only show Ravenclaws? Really? You really are a prideful lot,” Amanda commented. Delilah, who was also curious, wandered over. From what she could see, Elena was third of her year of the Ravenclaws, and Audrey was fourth.
“Tap the first year board with your wand—it should show everyone in our year,” Elena explained, dividing the presents into four groups.
“Ha! I’m higher than you, Audrey!” Amanda exclaimed. That much was true. Amanda was just above Audrey, and Delilah was right below that.
“Professor Snape has yet to grade that last homework assignment,” Audrey commented. Amanda’s shoulder fell. Then they rose.
“That shouldn’t matter…I got nearly a perfect score on it,” she said firmly.
“I think we’re ready,” Elena smoothly interrupted through the banter. Amanda spun around and marched back to their sisters. Out of the corner of her eye, Delilah saw the board shift back to only showing the Ravenclaws of their year before she too joined her sisters.
“Audrey’s pile is right there, Amanda’s is left of that, and Delilah, yours is next to the window,” Elena explained, sitting down next to her own pile.
Delilah scooted into her chair just as Amanda said, “Hey, I wanted the window seat.”
“Too bad,” Audrey said, “moving things around this cubby is impossible and it would take ages.”
Eventually, they all managed to find themselves in their rightful seats around the table. Delilah was itching to open her presents—there was one box wrapped in bright orange that she was going to dive for as soon as Elena said the words.
“Okay, before we go,” Amanda said, turning to face Delilah, “what in Merlin’s name did dad get you? I couldn’t get a good look at it from the Slytherin table.” Delilah quickly dove into her bag with a grin on her face before carefully taking out the wolf statue, setting it on a clear spot on the table. It started moving as soon as the base was stable.
“A statue that moves,” Amanda said. “Well that’s no fun. He seemed to really screw up this year—none of this stuff is even useful.” Delilah’s smile faded.
“But it’s a wolf statue!” she said.
“So?” Amanda asked.
“It’s fun to look at—I’ve never had a statue that moves. . .” Delilah trailed off, hurt and uncertainty creeping in at having something she liked degraded.
“It’s fine if you like it, but seriously, he could have done better,” Amanda relented.
“What did you get?” Audrey asked. Amanda also dug into her bag, soon bring out a clear glass snake that was surprisingly nimble.
“A glass snake?” Delilah asked.
“Perhaps it needs to be activated? I hardly think something that can move so easily would just be a decoration,” Elena pointed out.
“Activated by what?” Amanda asked.
“Parseltongue?” Elena asked, her eyebrows raising.
“Oh.” Amanda hid her embarrassment admirably.
Delilah didn’t realize how simple that was until Elena had said it. What else would activate a snake like that?
Amanda opened her mouth to undoubtedly say something in parseltongue, but Audrey quickly said, “SHH! Slytherins may like it when you do it, but who knows how everyone else will react?”
“I was only going to whisper,” Amanda muttered, crossing her arms.
“These people have better hearing than me, I swear,” Audrey explained.
“Now who’s the prideful one?” their Slytherin sister said.
“What did you get?” Delilah asked, actually quite curious. Audrey stiffened up. She reached into her pocket and brought out a miniature reptilian creature—a red dragon, she realized—that didn’t move. It was delicately created for being only a few inches tall and made of some rubber-like material. It seemed like some cheap toy, aside from the fact its paint job was detailed down to each scale.
“Alright, see, I think ours got switched or something,” Amanda said, reaching for it. Audrey, however, snatched it up before she could.
“It isn’t yours,” Audrey commented.
“So? It’s not like it really matters,” Amanda said, sitting back.
“At least yours might do something. This just looks like a toy,” Audrey muttered, shoving it back into her pocket.
“Did you three really expect anything more from your dad?” Elena pointed out.
Delilah thought about the question. She didn’t enjoy thinking about her dad, but he had at least remembered to give them something they wanted, like sweets. These seemed more personal, yet rather confusing. Still, she enjoyed the gift, as she really liked watching the wolf go about his day.
“Well, hopefully I at least get that quill I’ve been asking for,” Amanda said, and started with her first present.
Being the very orderly family they were, they went clockwise around the table, each waiting for their turn to open their next present. Delilah was pleased with all the other gifts, and though Amanda complained about the color of some of her presents, she seemed quite happy when she got that quill that she had been bugging everyone about. Even Audrey’s mood was improved by a new novel in a series that seemed to have been going on forever about a unicorn and his boy.
They had thankfully gotten done at about one thirty (a quick time for them) so she had just enough time to visit the three-headed dog before her flying practice with Cedric. So, she took the first turn toward the Forbidden Corridor that she could and started off toward it.
Delilah had never noticed this, but the castle was actually rather quiet on the weekend. She was glad for that, because that meant she could think more clearly. It was also nice to just have the quiet after a stressful week of school.
Her visit with the three-headed dog had been fun. They had gobbled up their pieces of cake she had snuck over from the kitchens and then enjoyed her telling them about all the cool stuff she could for her birthday. They were particularly interested in the moving wolf statue.
At that moment, however, she was striding out of the forbidden corridor, making her way back to the Great Hall, which was the only place in the castle she could get to the Quidditch Pitch from.
Then she heard footsteps coming straight for her from the opposite direction. She stopped instinctively, watching the corner as a strong scent of garlic filled her nose, causing her to cough.
“W-who’s t-t-there?” quivered the familiar voice of Professor Squirrel—Quirrell. She could never get it right.
“It’s just me,” she said quickly, stepping forward into better light as she prayed she truly was out of the forbidden corridor.
“W-w-what are you d-d-doing so close t-to the forb-bidden c-corridor?” he asked.
“Sorry,” Delilah said, thinking quickly. She put on her ‘begging’ face and went on, saying, “I’m lost. My friend wanted to meet me somewhere near the upper-years’ charms rooms.”
“O-oh!” he said. “W-well, it isn’t th-that direc-ction. Why d-d-don’t you g-go b-back down s-s-stairs? Much s-s-safer there.” He gave a nervous chuckle that made Delilah’s stomach churn, so she gave a quick nod before racing away from the forbidden corridor and back down the stairs.
She not once considered what a scaredy-cat like him would be doing heading toward the forbidden corridor, or why his constant fear-scent was gone.
After all the birthdays and schoolwork, Delilah was ready for Christmas break, but of course it was only the end of October. Audrey, meanwhile, seemed to simply want Halloween to be over. She was more paranoid than usual and very snappy during normal conversation. That, and she glared at almost anyone who had the slightest hint of mischievousness about them.
It made sense as to why. For about a week, random scare pranks had been going on thanks to the Weasley twins and several other playful people who were looking for fun. Basically anyone who wasn’t paying attention was a clear target for people looking to frighten a friend, and considering Audrey’s tendency to spook at anything remotely out of place, it was no wonder the Ravenclaw had been in a perpetually bad mood since their birthday.
Amanda wasn’t being friendly either. For some reason she vanished during her breaks, and no one knew where she went, not even Theo. Delilah liked meeting her sisters after class, but not even Elena seemed to have the time. Their eldest sister was either doing schoolwork or in the library researching something for Audrey.
There was one good thing about the week, though, and that was learning how to make things fly. Ever since Elena had displayed this trick to them when they visited her once in her first year, Delilah had wanted to lift objects with magic, and finally, after weeks of preparation, Professor Flitwick finally told them they were going to be demonstrating their knowledge in class.
“Levitating? That’ll be easy for you. Just wait until you get to the fun stuff,” Cedric told her when she told him why she was jittery and excited.
“What, like those cheering charms? Those weren’t fun at all, and yet we still have to do homework on them,” Rory, Cedric’s loud friend, muttered as he ate his breakfast.
“I think these spells are only fun to Cedric because he’s so good at them,” his Even, the calmer friend, said with a teasing grin. Cedric just smiled back.
“I’m not Ravenclaw good at them or anything,” he said modestly.
“You’re close,” Rory said.
Just then, Delilah caught Professor S—Quirrell staring at her. He looked away quickly as if she’d frightened him.
“Is something wrong?” Cedric asked. She looked at him and shook her head.
“No, but Professor Quirrell keeps staring at me,” she explained. Cedric shrugged.
“Maybe you just interest him. He is a Ravenclaw, after all, and they do all sorts of things to study something,” Cedric told her. The thought of being studied didn’t really reassure her. What if he figured out their secret? Or Jessica’s? Delilah was sure not all of the teachers knew, and she understood it was crucial that it was kept that way. Still, if Cedric was convinced it was nothing, she had nothing to seriously worry about. After all, Professor Squirrel wasn’t that brave of a teacher.
Charms class was a success. Delilah wasn’t the first one to make the feather fly. That was Hermione, who had smugly lifted the feather with absolute perfection. Still, Delilah was pleased that she managed to get her feather to fly within ten minutes of the brilliant Gryffindor and after about six or so others levitated their feathers. She was even more excited when she heard there were several students, such as Ron Weasley, Seamus Finnigan, and even Neville, who didn’t get their feathers to move at all. It made her feel special.
And later that day came the Halloween Feast. It seemed like there was ten times as much food as there was at the first feast the day they arrived at Hogwarts, and the food was decorated completely to match the holiday. The rest of the Great Hall was too. Candles floated in the air ominously, the sky ceiling was a full moon, and there were even a few ghosts lurking about attempting to be scary. Those ghosts that didn’t hate Halloween and had bothered to show up, anyway.
The only thing that bothered her before she filled up her plate next to Cedric was the fact that Professor Squirrel was nowhere to be seen. She had been subconsciously keeping an eye on him ever since she noticed him staring, and she wondered curiously as to where he had gone. When she went to eat that curiosity floated away.
And as soon as she had taken a bite of food, the curiosity was answered.
An owl floated down through the hundreds of live bats flitting about and landed on the Hufflepuff table right in front of Delilah. With narrowed eyes she took the letter and read it as the school owl flied away.
“Who’s it from?” Cedric asked, but Delilah was too busy rereading it to respond to him. She glanced up to Professor McGonagall, whose name was on the letter, but the Deputy Headmistress was busy talking to Professor Flitwick.
“Delilah?” Cedric asked, this time without his smile.
“It says I have to go meet Professor Quirrell,” she explained. Cedric looked at the letter like it might transform into a little demon.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Cedric told her, “I wouldn’t trust it.”
“Why not?” she asked, more in confirmation rather than clarification.
“It might be a prank. It is Halloween, after all,” he answered.
“Who would want to prank me, though?” she asked, glancing up at him.
“The Weasleys?” he suggested. “They’re close to your little sister, aren’t they? Whoever it is, just don’t go. There’s no reason a teacher would want to see you during the feast, especially this late at night.” Oh you’d be surprised, Delilah thought, glancing up to meet her sister’s gaze.
They weren’t there.
Audrey wasn’t anywhere at the Ravenclaw table, and Amanda was missing from her spot in between Theo and Draco. She understood the letter completely.
“I have to go,” she said, standing up. Cedric narrowed his eyes in confusion.
“I’ll tell you later,” she lied, and hurried out of the hall.
As she walked, she tried going through all the reasons why she would need to see Professor Squirrel. She briefly considered that Jessica was in trouble. The full moon had been the night before, after all. She was certain the teachers would have come to her in person, though. That couldn’t have been it. Nothing could have been wrong with her sisters for the same reason. She wondered if her sisters needed to get out and run. Then she decided the teachers wouldn’t have allowed that the night of the Feast.
It occurred to her that maybe one of her sisters got into trouble with their abilities (probably Amanda). In that case, she was needed to go over the rules again. That was the most likely reason. It was something Professor Squirrel could do. That would mean the garlic-smelling teacher knew about them. Delilah knew that wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
Delilah was just about to turn around the corner toward the charms classes where Professor Squirrel wanted her to meet him. However, she heard sniffling through the bathroom door. Curiously, she walked into the girls bathroom. There was someone crying in one of the bathroom stalls. Hermione, she realized as her scent placed itself.
“Hermione?” she asked, her voice displaying every uncertainty she had about trying to comfort someone. “Are you okay?”
“Go away!” Hermione said, probably trying to sound menacing despite the fact her voice wavered.
“Why are you crying?” Delilah asked, stepping forward.
“Didn’t you hear Ron? Everyone else did,” Hermione hissed.
“No,” she responded. She wondered just what the biased Weasley could have said to make her so upset.
“Well it doesn’t matter anyway, so you can just go back to the feast,” Hermione bitterly. Delilah stood there awkwardly for a few moments. Just what was she supposed to do? Audrey was usually the best in these situations. She was waiting for her with Amanda and Professor Squirrel, though. Which she was late for now. She didn’t just want to leave Hermione. That felt…wrong.
“You really should go to the feast—the food there is delicious and the decorations make the start of term banquet look dull,” Delilah tried. Her imitation of Audrey didn’t work. Hermione just stayed in her bathroom stall.
Very distantly, Delilah heard Ron and Harry coming. Maybe they’re coming to apologize and get her to go to the feast, she thought. She looked to Hermione’s stall and decided it would be rude to leave the Gryffindor, so she resolved to waiting for Harry and Ron to come.
A strange smell wafted into her nose. Within minutes it became too strong to just be some odd scent. Then ground shook. She spun around, expecting to see Harry and Ron, or maybe a ghost, but not at all what she actually saw.
A troll. A twelve foot tall troll. A troll. In Hogwarts. A troll. She stayed still, hoping it wouldn’t notice her.
“Hermione,” she said, her voice hitting some invisible wall in her throat. “Hermione, there’s a—”
The Gryffindor girl screamed from behind Delilah. The troll gave a disapproving grunt and raised the long wooden club he was carrying. So Delilah did the first thing she could think of--she transformed. On four legs, she jumped in between the troll’s legs bit into his calf.
The taste was horrible. She quickly let go and ran toward the door. The troll stomped around, apparently thinking the shiny white wolf was a more attractive victim than the bushy haired girl. Delilah planned to lead it out of the bathroom and into the halls where a teacher would hopefully be. However, there was one problem with that.
The door was closed.
Her heart sped up, becoming stuck between the door and a troll raising his hand behind her. She tried desperately to think of what to do. The sinks were too low. The stalls would trap her between tile and wood that could splinter. Going back around would make Hermione a targ—
Delilah went flying across the room. Somewhere in the air she had changed back into her human form. Then she hit the wall. She felt the ‘thunk’ as the impact knocked out all of her breath and she knew as she collapsed on the ground something was bruised.
Despite the fact her lungs still caused her to cough and her muscles still strained against her movement as she tried to get up, just the fact she was alive made her certain that the troll had barely used any of its strength.
Her head was blurry at first and her eyes weren’t thinking properly. Or was it the other way around? She put a hand on her forehead and forced herself to sit. The pain in her head throbbed as if her body was telling her to stay still, but she knew she couldn’t. There was a troll in the bathroom.
When Delilah could finally see, she had to blink several times to figure out it was real. Harry was hanging onto the troll’s neck and Ron was flicking his wand at the wooden club. The club went into the air and hovered for a second before coming down and smacking the troll in the head.
Delilah shielded her eyes as it fell with a ground-shaking ‘ thunk.’ When she relaxed, she saw Harry and Ron standing over it, with Hermione in the corner obviously stunned by the whole experience.
“Is it dead?” Hermione asked shakily.
“I don’t think so,” Harry responded, “I think it’s just been knocked out.” As Delilah stepped forward to get a closer look, the boy who lived reached down and took his wand out of the troll’s nose.
“Delilah?” Ron asked as Harry wiped the boogers off. “What are you doing here?”
“I went to go meet Professor Quirrell—he sent a letter for me—and then I saw Hermione and I was trying to get her to go to the feast,” Delilah explained. Talking made her head hurt, so she brought a hand up to it in hopes of relieving some of the pain.
“Are you alright?” Harry asked, stepping forward.
“Yes,” Delilah answered. Then she froze, her mind finally clearing enough for her to hear and smell correctly. “The professors are coming.”
The three of them turned toward the door. Hermione stayed on the floor, still in shock as Professor McGonagall, Professor Snape, and Professor Sprout strode through the doorway. Delilah expected them to be shocked, but the Deputy Headmistress’s face twisted into anger instead, and Snape looked infinitely more sour than usual. Professor Sprout gave a little ‘oh!’ when she saw the troll, but then looked at Delilah with what she could only decipher as amazement.
When Professor McGonagall started yelling, Delilah watched Snape, who had bent over to look at the troll. He glanced at the bit marks only a few seconds before shifting his piercing gaze at her. She averted her eyes.
“Please, Professor McGonagall—they were looking for me,” Hermione said, having gotten to her feet and shuffled over.
“Miss Granger!” the Deputy Headmistress exclaimed.
“I went looking for the troll because I—I thought I could deal with it on my own—you know, because I’ve read all about them.”
Delilah blinked, having not expected that lie at all.
“If they hadn’t found me, I’d be dead now. Delilah got here first and distracted it from me. Harry stuck his wand up its nose and Ron knocked it out with its own club. They didn’t have time to go and fetch anyone. It was about to finish me off when they arrived.”
Delilah got distracted by Snape again as Professor McGonagall scolded Hermione. The potions master was pointing at the bite and whispering to the Hufflepuff head of house, who gave only a quick, worried glance to Delilah before looking back at the troll’s wound and whispering something back.
“. . .and Delilah, you will win five points for Hufflepuff as well.”
Delilah’s head spun around back to face Professor McGonagall after that. She had won points for Hufflepuff? At first her heart rose with pride, but then it fell. All she had done was get thrown into a wall.
“You may go,” Professor McGonagall said. Delilah breathed a sigh of relief and stepped forward.
“Not you, Miss Coppin,” came the cold voice of Snape creeping up her spine. Delilah froze, her hopes of getting out without the professors realizing her rule breaking vanishing entirely. Ron and Harry gave each other a sideways glance before hurrying out of the bathroom.
Delilah turned around to face the other professors, along with Professor McGonagall, who had moved to see what Professor Sprout had pointed at.
“You did that?” Professor McGonagall gasped. Delilah gave a small nod, mentally editing her story to match Hermione’s.
“I came by here after I got your letter and I saw Hermione go in—”
“My letter?” Professor McGonagall interrupted, her eyes narrowed. “I didn’t send you a letter.” The teachers all looked at her with varying degrees of suspicion that made her wish she could Apparate rather than turn into a wolf.
“Yes, er, look,” she said, and she brought up the crumpled letter she had stuffed in her robes before the troll incident. Professor McGonagall and Professor Snape both studied it. Despite his flawless scowl, Delilah scented some form of fear on Snape. He wasn’t scared. It was more like he was…concerned. Unfortunately Delilah wasn’t the best at deciphering emotions using even normal human expressions, let alone scent, so she wasn’t certain by any means.
“What made you believe a professor would send a note like this in the middle of the Halloween Feast?” Snape demanded, his voice continuing to seep through her skin.
“I saw that Audrey and Amanda were gone so I assumed it had something to do with our abilities, I thought that maybe Amanda had broken the rules again,” Delilah spoke quickly.
“It seems you have instead,” the potions master growled.
“Only to fight the troll! Hermione and I were both trapped in here with the troll and I couldn’t think of anything else to do but to bite it.” Delilah explained, praying they wouldn’t punish her. She would have more faith if Snape wasn’t in the room. “I did manage to distract it before it hit me, and after that I didn’t really do much…”
“It hit you?” said Professor Sprout, cutting through Delilah’s mumbling. She looked as alarmed as a feral cat when Delilah found one in wolf form.
“Only with its hand,” Delilah explained quickly as she saw Professor McGonagall’s worry. “And I think Harry and Ron had sidetracked it, so it didn’t hit too hard.”
Professor McGonagall gave her a hard look before she said, “Well, I suppose it was in self-defense.”
“She still let that girl see her,” Snape reminded them both.
“Hermione was still in the stall—she couldn’t see me,” Delilah lied. That’s right, Hermione had seen her. Silently she hoped with all her heart that the Gryffindor wasn’t going to tell anyone about what she had seen. She’d have to talk to her as soon as she could.
“Oh, for Merlin’s sake, just take away the five points she gained if you must punish her,” Professor Sprout told the other teachers as she went up to Delilah, “my student needs to get to the hospital wing.”
“Don’t let it happen again,” Professor McGonagall warned her as Professor Sprout hurried her into the corridor.
When they were out of earshot of the others, Professor Sprout said, “We must hurry. Your house was scared for you when they couldn’t find you.”
Delilah blinked in confusion. Someone in Hufflepuff noticed she was gone? She didn’t really know anyone in Hufflepuff, after all. She had been more concerned about her sisters and how worried they must have been.
“I would refrain from repeating this to anyone,” Delilah’s Head of House said, “but I’m proud of you.”
Delilah’s grin could have replaced the night sky.
The trip to the hospital wing had been quick. It turned out that Madam Pompfrey already knew about what Delilah and her sisters could do, for she asked if she had been it in her human form or her animal form. When Delilah had asked how she knew, she said she had fixed up their father on many occasions. With just a potion and some ice, Professor Sprout was leading her out of the hospital wing.
Professor Sprout sent Delilah to the common room on her own to finish the feast with the other Hufflepuffs when they came close to the basement. The wolf sister could hear the feasting from yards away, and by the time she had entered the common room she found that it was louder than any other night she had spent in the common room.
Delilah was embraced tightly before she could even register that it was Cedric who had spoken. It was also Cedric who had hugged her.
“I was so worried—I told a prefect and Professor Sprout that you had gone looking for Professor Quirrell and that you didn’t know about the troll.”
“I told him to stop fretting,” said Rory, walking up as Cedric released her. “You probably weren’t headed toward the dungeons, after all.”
“What’s the ice for?” asked Evan.
“Er, the troll, it—”
“You actually saw the troll?” asked Rory loudly just as Cedric asked, “The troll hurt you?”
Delilah blinked, trying to pick which question to answer. Finally, she explained, “O-only a little. Other students came around just in time to help, and then the teachers came.”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Rory went on. “You faced a troll and lived?” Delilah nodded, still feeling very uneasy. She had never had this much attention before.
“For a first year, that’s lucky,” the Evan stated smoothly.
“That’s amazing!” Cedric agreed.
“Well go on then,” Rory said. “Tell us how in Merlin’s name you survived a troll.”
“At least let her sit down to eat first,” Cedric said and then turned to her. “Come on, I saved you a seat.”
Once they were seated and eating, Delilah told them about what happened, avoiding the part where she turned into a wolf and bit it. By the time she was done with her story, it was time for bed, and just about when she laid her head on the pillow did she realize that despite everyone else’s plate being empty, Cedric hadn’t eaten a thing until she had arrived.
The next morning, Delilah’s first and only goal was to find Hermione Granger. It proved easier than she had anticipated. All she had to do was search through a few sections of the library before she found the bushy haired girl with her nose in a dauntingly large book.
“Er, Hermione?” Delilah asked as a way to announce her presence. The first year Gryffidnor slammed the book shut and stared at her intently as if she were trying to read the Hufflepuff’s mind. The title of the book displayed itself largely on the book: Animagi and How to Spot Them.
“You aren’t going to find anything in there,” Delilah promised the intelligent Gryffindor.
“I’ve looked in every book about shapeshifting, but this is the closest I can find to explain what you did,” Hermione told her. “How did you do it? Most wizards can’t master something so complex until they’re in their seventh year, and even then that’s rare. And who taught you? This is a third year subject, not a first year, though of course you would have learned this before coming to school—”
“Hermione,” Delilah whispered quickly, sitting down to be closer to her. “Stop being so loud, no one can know what I can do, not especially not Ron and Harry. And I’m not an animagus.”
“Then what are you?” Hermione demanded. There was a hunger in her eyes similar to what Elena looked like when she was fiddling with a spell or Audrey when she was researching something random for another one of her projects. Delilah sighed.
“It’s hard to explain,” she said, “but my father’s family was cursed and part of that curse makes it so I can transform into a wolf.” Hermione tilted her head.
“Can your sisters turn into wolves too?” she asked. Then she gasped and said much more quietly, “Are you werewolves?”
“No,” Delilah said, actually kind of impressed at how quick Hermione’s mind was. “No, the animal can be anything the curse chooses, that’s what makes us different from animagi. Our form doesn’t have anything to do with our personality. Well, that, and we don’t have any distinguishing marks like animagi do. And no, I’m the only one who inherited the curse. All my other sisters are normal.” She decided it would be better if Amanda and Audrey weren’t involved. She really, really didn’t want Amanda teasing her about being careless enough to let someone else see her form.
Hermione looked at her suspiciously. “Then why do you keep saying ‘we?’”
Delilah could have fainted. She swallowed hard, thinking quickly and saying equally as fast, “I was talking about my father’s side of the family, not my sisters.”
Thankfully, Hermione seemed to accept that answer.
“Do your sisters know?” Hermione asked. Delilah shook her head.
“‘Coppin’ is not the name the curse usually runs through, or at least it wasn’t up until now,” Delilah explained. “Even I don’t know that.”
“What is the curse? What does it do, other than change into a wolf? I would assume something worse—that doesn’t sound like much of a curse to me,” Hermione said. Delilah had to agree with that. Sure, she’d had to be a wolf for ten or so months, but that wasn’t hard or miserable, just a different way of life.
“I don’t know any of that, either,” she said. “My dad didn’t exactly explain anything before he left.”
“Oh,” she said, her shoulders falling a bit. Then her eyes scrunched in determination. “I think I might have read something about this during the beginning of the year. If I could just find that book again, I bet I can find out more.”
“Thank you, but I don’t really—”
Hermione stood. “Do you want to help me?”
“Er, I have a lot of homework and I have flying practice with Cedric along with classes…”
“I’ll let you know when I find something,” Hermione said before spinning around and rushing to the nearest place she thought she might find an answer. Delilah sighed with relief. The last thing she wanted was to help Hermione find answers to things she mostly already knew, and she could really care less about why the curse was put on their family in the first place.
Hermione was hardly seen in between her classes after that. Occasionally she would be with Ron and Harry, who had befriended her after Halloween, but there was always a book in her hand. A few, actually, with titles Delilah really wished she would hide so that her sisters didn’t figure out what she was up to and why.
A week into November, and the Gryffindor girl hadn’t talked to Delilah once, so the wolf Hufflepuff decided she had given up on finding out about the curse. But then Hermione found her in the halls and drug her to the library with just a quick “I think I found something.”
“I didn’t find much,” she said as they sat down in front of some gigantic book that was downright frightening to Delilah. “Apparently this curse isn’t used anymore and even less known. The only bit I found about it was in here, Familial Curses. All the curses in here last for the life of the victim and if it’s used right, it could extend to family members.”
“You found the curse?” Delilah asked, genuinely curious.
“Not exactly, but maybe. See,” she went on, flipping the books pages before stopping about mid book, “there’s this curse here, and even though no one knows the name of it, it is said that was used often about the time Hogwarts was made, and it forced the victim to transform into any creature the caster decided and they would be stuck in that form forever. There isn’t a counter curse to it, but it’s said here that one wizard did manage to break the curse and become human after decades of being in some beastly form that isn’t mentioned. They also said he could change back into that form whenever he wanted after that. ”
“What was his name?” Delilah asked, leaning over the book to see.
“That’s the thing—the name has been scratched out,” Hermione said. “Every time this wizard is mentioned, it’s just been taken out. Otherwise I would be checking some of the family lineages. I even tried to see what wizard cursed him, to see if I could find the story in another book, but that isn’t mentioned either.”
Hermione kept on talking as Delilah kept thinking. Could this wizard have been their ancestor? It made sense, even more so than it did to Hermione because she didn’t know they had to be in their forms for months before they randomly transformed back.
“…and of course I haven’t checked the restricted section, but I bet I could convince a teacher that I’m working on some research and—Oh, h-hello, Professor Quirrell.” Hermione blinked at a spot behind her, paling. Delilah stiffened. Professor Squirrel? The scent of garlic and fear confirmed it. She glanced nervously at the book, hoping the words were too small for him to read.
“L-l-look-king up c-c-curses, are w-we? N-not for an-n-nyth-thing d-dang-g-gerous, I-I-I hope?” said Professor S-Quirrell. A spark appeared in Hermione’s eyes.
“Professor, do you know anything about this man here? Why it’s scratched out, maybe?” the Gryffindor asked. No! Delilah shouted in her head and right through her eyes. Why did she bring attention to something so secret?
“Oh!” Professor Squirrel exclaimed, practically jumping back from the book. “Th-that n-n-name is c-c-cursed! It is-s a t-t-ab-boo t-t-to men-ntion it-t! A-alm-most-st l-l-like Y-you—”
“You-Know-Who, yes, but why? What happens when you do?” Hermione pressed.
“T-t-terrib-ble things, it has-s b-b-been s-said, t-terrib-ble th-things,” Professor Squirrell said nervously. “T-the f-f-famil-ly w-was d-des-stroyed-d d-dec-cades ag-go b-by an ev-vil force. B-best n-n-not l-look f-for it-t, if-f-f I w-were y-you.” He gave a nervous laugh and shuffled away to do whatever teachers did in the library.
“Something must have happened to your family,” Hermione decided once he was far enough away.
“My dad was raised by muggles,” she said.
“So you know he isn’t muggleborn?” Hermione asked, titling her head.
“Only that he was adopted and came with the curse,” Delilah answered. “But he could have been a half-blood..”
Hermione nodded. “That could be an explanation. Whatever happened to your family could have happened generations ago, which is why your dad didn’t say anything. He doesn’t know.”
Delilah wasn’t sure about that. After all the secrecy and mystery their father had, she was inclined to think he didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to. He didn’t even reply to the letters that they once tried to send him.
“I could try looking in the restricted section now that I know why that family’s name has been scratched out. I bet if I—”
“Hermione,” Delilah said quietly.. She stopped and looked at her. “You don’t have to do this. Honestly, thank you for finding out all of this, but you don’t need to.”
Hermione looked her straight in the eye and said, “I know, but you helped saved me from the troll, so I’m helping you find out more about your family in return.”
“You don’t have to,” Delilah repeated. “I don’t really want to know, to be honest. What you’ve found out already is enough.” Hermione tilted her head.
“Why?” she asked.
Delilah fidgeted as she, “Well, I don’t know. We haven’t seen our dad in years, maybe there’s a reason.”
“Oh,” Hermione said, deflating. “Okay. I just wanted to thank you, you know.”
“I didn’t even help defeat it, though,” Delilah pointed out.
“No, but you distracted it from me. And besides, the only reason you were there in the first place was to talk to me. No one else even tried to make me feel better.” Delilah couldn’t help the pride that welled up in her stomach.
“Well, you don’t need to do all this for me,” Delilah said one last time. “Seriously. It was good of you, but I don’t need to know.” Hermione nodded.
“If you ever do care to know, just find me and I would be happy to help,” Hermione said with a determined nod. Delilah smiled.
“Okay,” she agreed.
There was a bit of an awkward silence before Hermione asked, “Are you going to the Gryffindor Slytherin match tomorrow?”
Delilah nodded with a grin. “Cedric’s taking me. He wants to watch Harry play.”
“Well come sit by us, if you can. I think Ron and I would be happy to have extra people cheering on Harry.”
And so the conversation went from family curses to Quidditch games and classes.
Last Delilah chapter for a little while, I promise.
Lots of set up in this chapter, but I like the investigative mystery feel in it. Definitely something with a Harry Potter feel.
“ Draco has one thing right. It’s completely unfair. We’d probably both be able to have positions on the Slytherin team if Snape didn’t follow the rules, and I would bet everything in the Arisio vaults that he messes up tomorrow. He was raised by muggles after all. He’s only had a few months to learn how to fly and memorize the rules. I have been playing Quidditch for as long as I can remember, but nooo, Harry gets to be a—Bozhidar, are you even listening?”
Amanda was lying on a blanket she had laid out at the feet of the Slytherin statue, and she was gazing up at the ceiling. The basilisk, meanwhile, was curled up a few feet away, a towering pile of scales with his head peeking out in between the coils.
“ Of course, snake speaker,” Bozhidar mumbled back to her.
“You were asleep!” she exclaimed.
“Y ou are mistaken,” he told her. She sighed.
“If you aren’t even going to listen to me rant what do I come down here for?” she asked.
“To keep a lonely basilisk company,” he said, still mumbling sleepily.
“Except whenever I come down here you’re sleeping,” she pointed out.
“ When you are centuries old, you learn sleeping is as significant as everything else,” Bozhidar said.
“ I bet Delilah’s giant pet doesn’t just sleep when she’s around,” Amanda said with a smirk. She heard the giant snake shift.
“ I am no dog,” Bozhidar hissed. “ That pup is as friendly as it is stupid. If they really wanted to protect the stone, they would have used me.” Amanda grinned at his show of pride.
“ So this stone…” Amanda began.
“ You do not need to know,” Bozhidar told her, obviously having said it before. He had, but mostly because when he had first mentioned it a few months ago after Amanda had told him of her meeting with the giant three-headed dog, he had not failed to mention that was valuable and powerful, so of course she would keep asking. The answer was the same each time.
“ What about the mirror?” Amanda questioned.
“ I would tell you if I knew,” the basilisk replied. She had heard that answer as well. She asked only to see if she could catch him off guard because she didn’t believe he didn’t know anything. Hogwarts was his home, after all. “ Did you not have an appointment with your Severus Snape?”
Amanda groaned. “I don’t want to!” she whined. It had been a nice couple of months, not having to show up to extra pureblood lessons with Draco and Theo and go into all of the “extracurriculars” her Head of House decided she needed to know.
“Go, so I can have my sleep,” Bozhidar told her.
“ When I come back,” she said, standing and collecting her blanket, “I’m going to be so loud I’m going to give you a headache.” A low rumble came from the giant snake that she could only assume was a chuckle.
“ Slytherin Heirs have been annoying me for centuries,” he said. “I would like to see you try.”
Amanda left the Chamber with a smirk on her face. Challenge accepted.
Amanda was walking through one of the many corridors when she saw Theodore and Elena slowly striding along toward her. Elena looked like she was explaining something Theodore was extremely unhappy about.
“Did you get a T on an assignment or something?” Amanda asked when she was closer. They both halted to gaze at her.
“What do you mean?” Theodore asked, his blank face of confusion saying enough.
“I was just clarifying a theory for him,” Elena said. Amanda recognized her vagueness as secrecy. The Slytherin Heir really didn’t like it when her older sister hid things from her, mostly because those things were often incredibly interesting and important.
“Well then stop looking so angry, Theo,” Amanda told him, “otherwise Snape might start asking questions.”
That got his attention.
“Snape?” he questioned, twisting around to look behind him.
“Er, no, lessons start today,” Amanda said. “Aren’t you coming?”
Theodore gave a worried glance to Elena as if asking permission, but quickly turned his attention back to Amanda and replied, “I need to go write a letter to my father.” Amanda’s eyes narrowed.
“Can’t that wait?” she asked. He gave her a hardened stare that let loose a little pleading that basically told her, ‘no, it can’t.’ She sighed. “Well I suppose Draco and I will just have to endure Snape’s wrath together, then.”
“Yes, well, it isn’t like I’m behind on anything,” Theodore assured her.
“Amanda,” Elena said before the Slytherin sister could say anything. “Would you happen to know where Audrey is?”
“No, why?” Amanda asked.
“I think I may have overheard something she would want to know,” the Ravenclaw explained. Amanda narrowed her eyes. More vagueness. At least Amanda had a clue as to what it was Elena was talking about, and she knew she had to be quiet about it because Theodore did not know about the family ability.
“Check the library, or better yet, her dormitory. Audrey hardly goes anywhere but those two places and her classes,” Amanda said with a roll of her eyes.
“Alright,” Elena said. She ruffled Theodore’s hair with a playful smile. “See you later, Theo!” Amanda tried to hide a laugh as she tried to decide if Theodore was going red because of anger or embarrassment.
“I’ve got to go,” Amanda said, realizing she couldn’t keep her laughing a secret much longer. Theodore nodded and they parted ways.
Lessons with Snape weren’t horrible. They just went over more family histories (seriously, how many of them could there be if Purebloods were a ‘dying breed?’) and started on the basic theory of Occlumency. Amanda was irritated when Snape told them it would take them awhile to actually practice the skill. Snape made her go over the theories again after that, being extra sour because of an injury he had to his leg. Amanda guessed the wound was from the three headed dog, but didn’t say anything. If she had, Snape would really have a reason to be angry.
Sooner than she would have liked, the next day came and the Slytherin Gryffindor match was starting. Literally everyone made their way out to the Quidditch pitch. Amanda knew why as soon as she heard all the whispers about Harry Potter, and each time she heard ‘he must be brilliant!’ or ‘I bet he wins today!’ she wanted to gag. After all she highly doubted Harry was good enough to catch the snitch in his first game.
“What do you mean you’re going with Cedric?” Amanda asked with a whine as she, Delilah, Audrey, and Elena made their way to the Quidditch pitch.
Delilah was all smiles as she said, “He wants to see Harry play since he’s the Hufflepuff seeker. Apparently Harry is what they call a ‘wildcard.’ I don’t know. Oh! And I’m going to be next to Ron and Hermione.”
“Why, does helping them with a troll suddenly make you part of the Harry Potter group?” Amanda grumbled. She crossed her arms, still resentful about the fact her wolf sister got to do something so exciting while she was off with Bozhidar that Halloween. Audrey apparently hadn’t been there either, most likely studying in the Ravenclaw tower.
“Hermione was just being nice,” Delilah answered, completely missing the hint of irritation in Amanda’s voice. It made the Slytherin Heir’s frustration fade away. How could you be angry at someone who didn’t react to it?
“I’m curious about Harry too,” Elena said suddenly. Amanda knew that. Why else would her older, scientific sister come to a Quidditch game? “He must have shown potential if the professors allowed him on the team. Do you think he could be better than the Slytherin seeker?”
“No,” Amanda said quickly, standing up straighter to demonstrate her confidence. Yes, she thought. From what Amanda had seen of the Slytherin seeker, he wasn’t much. Not nearly as small as Harry with a broom model at least six years old.
“Why am I going to this game, again?” Audrey sighed.
“To help cheer on Slytherin,” Amanda reminded.
“Why?” Audrey asked. “I’m a Ravenclaw.”
“Yes, but I’m a Slytherin, so you should cheer on the team you’ve actually got family members in.”
“I still don’t see the point of watching the match,” Audrey said. “I don’t think the Ravenclaws care about winning the cup this year and I have homework to do.”
“We all have homework to do,” Elena said, rolling her eyes, “but you can take a break. No professor is going to give you a bad score because you went to a quidditch game.”
“I know, but I have this really long assignment—”
“Shh! If you talk about homework again, I’m going to go to the Ravenclaw tower and burn your homework. And don’t think I won’t.” Amanda threatened.
“Oh, I have no doubt you would, but I would love to see you stand in front of the door for an hour trying to figure out the riddle,” Audrey said, and gave Amanda a casual expression that had the Slytherin Heir ready with a retort on her tongue.
However, that’s right when Delilah sprang forward shouting, “Cedric’s already here!” After a short ‘see you later!’ the Hufflepuff was gone.
“Who would have thought that Delilah of all of us would have made friends with an older year first?” Amanda asked.
“I still think it’s weird,” Audrey said.
“Well, anyway , if you two are going to go sit by the Ravenclaws I’m going to go meet Theo and Draco in the Slytherin section. Bye!” And just like that Amanda was striding toward the stands.
By the time she found her cousin and friend, the game was just a few short minutes from starting. She glanced at Snape, who was sitting in the teachers’ section looking as angry as usual.
“I bet Potter won’t last five minutes on his broom,” Draco sneered.
He lasted that long when you threw the Remembrall , Amanda thought with a roll of her eyes. Draco could be stupid sometimes.
Theodore looked like he was going to respond, but that’s just when the players flew into the field.
Slytherin thundered around her, but they could not match Gryffindor’s triumphant roar. Harry came flying out like a pro, though he looked around like this was the most amount of attention he’d ever gotten in his life.
It played out like she thought: Harry flew up several feet away from the battling chasers and the bulldozing bludgers. He thought he’d seen the snitch once, but Flint was stupid enough to almost knock him off his broom and proceeded to get a foul.
And that’s when things started getting weird. Harry’s broom starting bucking and swerving. Harry had to hold on tight, but he wasn’t doing a good job at it.
Amanda knew it was dark magic. The Nimbus Two Thousand was a broom with twice the amount of protection as the model before it and triple the amount compared to any other brand. So she searched the crowd as they began pointing at Harry.
Her eyes finally caught Snape and she felt like her stomach had disappeared. He was completely focused on Harry, his lips moving but definitely not his eyes. Amanda knew the spells that called for that sort of focus were powerful. Powerful enough to take control of a Nimbus Two Thousand.
Amanda looked to her friends. Draco of course was grinning with glee as he watched his rival struggle, but Theo was looking from Snape to Harry, his ever present quizzical scowl on his face.
She turned back to Snape and asked the same question over and over in her head: why is Snape trying to make Harry fall? Amanda considered that it was just to make sure Slytherin would win, but she knew him better than that. Snape liked winning the House Cup, but he wouldn’t endanger Harry’s life for it, no matter what reason he had for making Harry’s life so terrible. Right?
Amanda wasn’t ignorant about Snape’s past as a Death Eater, but he had helped in the end and she was certain Snape wasn’t that cruel. Well, perhaps not certain. Draco had told her stories that she hardly believed, but Draco could be truthful when it suited him.
Snape caught on fire. Amanda blinked in surprise as everyone around her mentor started shouting even louder than those pointing at Harry. The Slytherin Heir swung her gaze to the Gryffindor seeker, finding him dazed but in control of his broom nonetheless.
The game began again in full force, with Harry searching for the snitch and all the other players no longer worried about the Boy-Who-Lived falling off his broom. Suddenly Harry headed straight for the ground, and Amanda saw it: a golden spec that was getting closer and closer—
Harry tumbled to the ground. As he staggered up, he spat out something into his hands. Amanda’s heart fell as the Gryffindors gave out the loudest roar of the day. It was the snitch. Gryffindor had won.
“Alright, that’s it,” Amanda said, not letting her eyes leave the Boy-Who-Lived. “Next year, we’re trying out for the Slytherin team because the current team is obviously in need of new talent.”
“They couldn’t even win with the distraction Potter gave! Pathetic!” Draco shouted, his eyes alight with fury as he, too, watched the Gryffindors celebrate.
“I’ll go as a chaser if you go as a seeker. Maybe Theo can go as a chaser. He’s fast enough,” Amanda said. Theodore shrugged.
“I don’t really want to be on the house team, to be honest,” he told her. Amanda turned her attention to him.
“What are you, a Ravenclaw?” Amanda asked offhandedly. Theodore didn’t respond, averting his eyes.
“Snape looks angry,” Draco pointed out. “Do you think we still have to go to our lessons tomorrow?”
Amanda sighed. “Unfortunately.”
She saw Ron and Hermione rushing up to Harry. Hermione had her wand out, and Amanda’s eyes narrowed. Of course the know-it-all had casted the flames. Well, there was no way she was going to let the three of them believe Snape was a murderer.
“I have to go do something. Meet you in the dungeons,” she said, and rushed through the stands through the quickest route to the three first years now being swarmed by every Gryffindor who could make into the Quidditch pitch.
Even with all the time wading through the witches and wizards shuffling out of the stands, Harry and his friends were still protected by a wall of over-excited Gryffindors. Eventually, Hagrid herded the Gryffindor trio toward his hut. Amanda waited until they were away from the Quidditch pitch and anyone else ready to eavesdrop before she approached them.
Harry was talking very quickly, saying, “. . .tried to get past that three headed dog on Halloween. It bit him. We think he’s trying to steal whatever it’s guarding.”
“How do you know about Fluffy?” Hagrid asked.
“ Fluffy ?” Ron said.
“Is that what his name is?” Delilah asked. Amanda narrowed her eyes. When had she showed up? “I’m happy he has a name. I was beginning to think someone had just left him in there and forgotten about him.”
“No, he’s guarding something for Dumbledore, isn’t he?”
Hermione pressured Hagrid, “And Snape is trying to steal it.”
“And what proof do you have of that?” Amanda asked, stepping forward. Harry steeled himself as if ready for a fight.
“I saw him; he got bitten by that three-headed dog,” Harry said confidently. Amanda paused, clenching her teeth as she tried to remember her own reasoning for what Snape would want with a three-headed dog.
“The teachers must be in charge of feeding him,” Delilah pointed out. “Perhaps Fluffy wasn’t in a good mood that day? Even sweet dogs like him are known to be aggressive in certain circumstances.” Everyone but Hagrid gazed at her with wary looks, probably thinking that ‘sweet dog’ was an antonym to what Fluffy actually was.
“Are they?” Hermione asked, turning to Hagrid.
“Eh, well, I don’ know exac’ly who’s suppos’ to feed him. He don’ like the food we give him sometimes, see, bu’ I know everyone tries,” Hagrid said quickly.
“Then why did Snape try to throw me off my broom today?” Harry demanded.
Once again, Delilah had the answer Amanda didn’t. “It wasn’t Snape. Professor Sq—er, Professor Quirrell wasn’t blinking and he was muttering, I saw it. Cedric said only dark magic is used like that.” Not completely true, Amanda thought.
“Quirrell was probably trying to save Harry,” Ron pointed out.
“Snape wasn’t trying to kill him,” Amanda snapped, getting their attention with her fierceness. “He may hate Harry, but he isn’t cruel and he isn’t a murderer.”
“He’s a Slytherin,” Ron spat, as if that explained every motive Snape might have had.
Amanda turned on him like a snake, saying, “Oh, does that mean I can say all Gryffindors are stupidly arrogant with no respect?”
“Amanda, tha’ was a li’le harsh—”
“Ron was harsh too,” Delilah pointed out, but Amanda was already talking.
“What’s harsh is you three accusing the head of my house without any proof just because he isn’t nice to you,” Amanda spat. “He may not be happy, he may not be kind, but he is not evil.” She looked straight at Harry, locking gazes with him to force him to see the sincerity in her eyes.
“ Don’t forget where the Sorting Hat almost put you,” she said in parseltongue, ignoring Ron’s gasp and Hermione’s confusion. It was a complete guess, but she could see him in silver and green as easily as gold and red. Judging by Harry’s reaction, she knew she had guessed correctly.
Amanda spun around and marched toward the castle. She knew she should be at least a little concerned with ‘I-can’t-keep-a-secret’ Ronald Weasley knowing about her parseltongue, but she knew that bit of information would get out to the rest of the school eventually. It wasn’t as if she was keeping it a secret anyway, but she knew if rumors came out the wrong way it could ruin what little she had built in her first few months at Hogwarts.
But she didn’t care. No one was going to assume those things about Snape, no matter the questions she had rattling around in her head. He had only ever been helpful to her, teaching her the way of the Purebloods so that she could survive her heritage.
And no matter her own doubts, she was certain he had his reasoning.
Snape was indeed in a horrible mood when classes began the day after. Throughout Potions he was particularly irritable, and later on that day when Amanda, Theo, and Draco had gathered in the otherwise empty classroom for extra lessons, Snape stormed in, going straight for his desk to search for something. There was a containment to him, though. He was still walking as silently as he always did, straight and proper yet rigidly so.
“Is something the matter, Professor?” Theodore asked in a tone that suggested he was saying the words out of politeness rather than actual interest.
“I am fine, Nott, and how nice of you to arrive today,” Snape said sharply, slamming a drawer shut. Theo flinched.
“I had something important—”
“I’m certain it was of the utmost significance,” the Potions Master interrupted coldly. “Shall we begin?”
“I have a question,” Amanda said, standing up after leaning on a desk. Snape’s eyes fell on her and she felt the weight of his anger push her down. For a second the words stuck in her throat as if the tiny, logical part of her was screaming that this was very much a bad idea.
“What did you do to Harry?” the Slytherin Heir asked at last. Theodore tensed and Draco looked from Amanda to Snape as he tried to figure out what she was talking about. Snape, meanwhile, let his anger seep out a little as she saw his body grow stiffer.
“Do you remember,” Snape said, his voice painstakingly restrained, “when I taught you subtlety?” Oh yeah, she was in for it. She chided herself for going along with this stupid plan but she knew she was impatient and needed to know the answer.
“Well?” Snape pressed on, more rage slipping into his voice.
“Yes, sir,” Amanda said, limiting herself from saying anything further in case that burst the balloon that was Snape’s current self-control.
“You obviously didn’t learn anything, so I suppose that is what we will be learning today,” Snape said, getting out his wand. Amanda paled. Subtlety meant control, and she had no doubt that he had many more creative ways to teach her that than before, when he didn’t look ready to hit her with a Cruciatus.
“Sir, we aren’t the only ones who saw you,” Theodore said suddenly. Amanda looked at him, her eyes wide with surprise at the unexpected defense. “Potter saw you too. He and his friends think you were trying to murder him.”
Snape gave him a hard, cold look. “This is not the first time a student has believed I’m a murderer, and you are a fool to think Potter could do anything with what he thinks he saw. He may be the Headmaster’s golden child but he is hardly persuasive.”
“What did you actually do, then?” Amanda asked. Quickly, she added, “Sir.”
“And why is knowing so important?” the Potions Master questioned. Amanda hesitated, trying to think of a response that would subtly explain her motives.
“Because I want to know whether to watch out for you or Professor Quirrell,” Amanda told him. Theo glanced at her, confused, as Snape’s jaw clenched.
“What’s Professor Quirrell got to do with anything?” Draco asked.
“Nothing, if you all want to continue attending this school,” Professor Snape said. His gaze had not left Amanda’s equally challenging stare. Snape did not back down, however, and against her better judgement, Amanda averted her eyes first. She knew her mentor enough to understand he was not going to budge on this subject.
Talking to him about it still reassured her about his innocence. After all, she knew there was no way he was going to admit to saving Harry Potter in front of Draco or Theo, but he was also refusing to talk about Quirrell, which could only mean the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was guilty.
And with that, subtlety lessons began.
Yeah...being a Slytherin Heir, gotta bring the bias up sometime, eh?
I really enjoyed this chapter because of it, though, and also I got to play with the Amanda/Snape relationship a lot more than usual. Fun pair.
Jessica was bored.
It wasn’t like she spent a lot time with her sisters normally, but if they were at the house at least she could prank them or perhaps terrorize them, maybe even play a game of Quidditch if she were truly out of things to do. Instead, they were at Hogwarts doing magic while she was picking the lock to the forbidden room with a bent hair clip from Amanda’s room wondering if Gran would recognize her existence today.
And if anyone caught her, her boredom would be her excuse. Not that it was ever going to work, but it was a nice thought as the door’s lock clicked. The door itself didn’t open, of course, despite being unlocked. There were probably a million magical locks on it. So to pass the time she imagined Fred and George trying the spells they knew would work, peeling the magical layers of locks off one by one before finally getting stuck like the three of them always would.
Thankfully, her sisters were coming to relieve her boredom. Fred and George wouldn’t be able to come, unfortunately, but her sisters were due home for Christmas break within the hour.
An owl hooted through her open window. Jessica stood from her spot on the floor and took the letter, reading it immediately. She smiled when she saw Fred’s very familiar handwriting telling her all about an enchantment they had found that could follow someone around throwing snowballs and that they were going to try it on Professor Quirrell specifically on Delilah’s request.
She wished she could be there with them. Next year, she told herself. Next year I will be in Gryffindor with Fred and George, and the year after that I will be on the team. Or maybe even in my first year—if Harry can, why can’t I?
“ WE’RE HOME!” bellowed Amanda through the doorway. Jessica strode through the house to the entry way, finding all three of her sisters plus Neville and Gran, who was glaring at the Slytherin of group.
“Honestly, Amanda! Some days I wish you had inherited your father’s annoying silences.” Gran said as she wobbled into the kitchen.
“Hey, Jessica, did my owl give you that?” Audrey asked, walking forward. Jessica glanced down at the letter in her hands and back up to the youngest triplet.
“Er, no,” she answered. Audrey groaned.
“So he hasn’t come back? I knew it! He’s always gone. I swear, the enchantment that keeps owls coming back to you must be broken with him.”
“He’ll be fine at the school anyway,” Amanda said dismissively, “Jessica, guess what I figured out last week!” Audrey gave a sharp glare at her sister before stomping her way upstairs.
“What’s got her so angry?” Jessica asked, perplexed.
Amanda looked after Audrey as Delilah came in and set her trunk down behind her. “I don’t know. Something’s been dying in the forest and not knowing why has been bugging her. Typical Ravenclaw. Anyway, look at this!”
Amanda brought out the glass snake she had written about. It was flawlessly cut and shiny, two things that obviously meant it was worth a lot. It made Jessica ponder how much it would go for.
“Alright, watch,” Amanda ordered. She took a small breath before saying something in parseltongue.
The glass snake came to life. It wriggled into an upright position and glanced around as if it were real. It said something back to Amanda, who grinned. Jessica had to admit to herself it was cool a glass snake was moving, but she wasn’t going to tell Amanda that.
“So it moves. Doesn’t Delilah’s statue do that too?” she asked, her arms crossed. Amanda frowned. Then she said something in parseltongue.
“ Delilah’s statue doesn’t translate parseltongue though, does it?” came Amanda’s voice out of the snake in English. Jessica’s eyes widened a little.
“Okay, that could come in handy,” Jessica admitted.
“I think it can do other things, but I haven’t figured it out yet,” Amanda told her, finishing with a word in parseltongue that made the glass snake go limp again.
“Just a week ago you said in your letter it was just a decoration,” Jessica pointed out.
“Well, Elena gave me the idea of using parseltongue but I didn’t figure out the words to make it wake up until two weeks ago. A week ago was when I tested it on Draco because I wondered if it could translate,” Amanda responded. Jessica raised her eyebrow.
“ Tested it on Draco, hmm?” the youngest Coppin prodded slyly. A smirk grew on Amanda’s face.
“It included a glass snake on his shoulder and a bit of screaming,” Amanda confessed happily.
“That’s cruel, Amanda,” Delilah said, walking past them.
“I believe you meant ‘fun,’” Amanda said back.
“ Speaking of fun, did you hear that Remus is going to be here for the full moon?” Jessica asked. “ Finally I’ll have someone who can keep up with me!”
“Hey, I keep up with you!” Delilah exclaimed.
“Yes, but not like Remus,” Jessica said. “He may be old but he doesn’t look it when he’s a werewolf.”
“JESSICA!” Gran bellowed from the hallway.
Amanda gave her a mischievous look. “Trying to unlock the door again?” Just as she said that Gran stomped into the room red in the face.
“You were trying to get into the room again?! Just how many times do I have to remind you that it’s forbidden?”
“I’m just unlocking the door, I can’t do anything other than that, it’s harmless,” Jessica said with a shrug. Getting in trouble, after all, was nothing new.
“It is still forbidden!” Gran shouted.
What are you going to do, ground me? I’m already grounded, Jessica thought as Gran went on yelling. She must have been in a bad mood to get this angry.
It went on for awhile.
With her sisters back, Jessica was less bored. Delilah and Audrey were always playing in the yard, and Jessica found that a nice game of tag really woke her up in the afternoon, especially since neither of her sisters realized she had been practicing her human speed. Amanda, of course, kept claiming that it was far too cold to be anywhere but in front of the fire.
Her sisters’ normal bickering had also returned, and it was fun to fuel the fire when the arguments turned into fights. Just their activity in general was more pleasant than talking to house elves or just sleeping and reading in her room all day. Not to mention she had someone to prank, which was brilliant. She had received quite a few materials for her birthday last June after all, and she expected just as much for Christmas.
Speaking of which, Christmas was coming. Well, of course it was, but each day was going by faster than she would have liked. Before she knew it, the full moon was upon them.
Remus had arrived late that evening, only allowing for a short reunion before they traveled toward the same boring forest that Jessica had called home for so long. She was looking forward to running in the Forbidden Forest at Hogwarts next year.
“Are you ready?” Remus asked. They stood next to each other as the full moon got brighter and brighter. Just a few more minutes, she knew. She could feel her hunger sparking up her hunting instincts, and she wanted nothing more than to rip through that forest with her pack and kill something tasty.
“Yes,” she replied firmly, a grin of total wildness coming across her face. Beside her, Delilah looked ready to spring into action, and Audrey had her eyes closed like she was in some cliché photo as she felt the chilly forest breeze.
Jessica felt herself changing. She could have given a description of how unpleasant it was, but honestly she hardly noticed those aspects anymore.
She felt herself on all fours and howled. She spun around to face the elder wolf. He shook his lighter colored coat. His breath was as visible as the moon.
The snow crunched behind her. A horse walked past. The white wolf bounded up to her. She blended in with the blanket of white beneath them. The white wolf touched noses with Jessica, her tail wagging far too fast to see.
The elder wolf loped off. Jessica charged after him. She heard the snow crunch some more behind her. The others were following. Jessica sniffed the air. No prey sent. More traveling.
This hunt would not be a game. The snake stayed home. Tonight, they would scout and chase and kill. She would kill.
They ran as the moon rose. Jessica sniffed the air. Over and over, just the smell of horse and wolf came. Just the sound of owls, and wind, and paws were heard.
Wait. She stopped. She sniffed. Deer. She liked deer. Deer was tasty. Her chest filled with energy and her legs became weightless . The elder wolf and the white wolf sniffed the air. The white wolf’s tail wagged and the elder wolf straightened. She looked to the elder wolf as the horse’s ears perked forward.
The elder wolf started forward. She and the white wolf flanked him. The horse disappeared to her right. The hunt formation. Food was coming.
She trotted along as they separated. Her heart was louder than her paws. Louder than her breath.
She slowed when the meal came into view. Three deer. She stopped. Her ears went forward. Her muscles tensed as she crouched. The forest was quiet.
A horse’s screeching neigh pierced the air. Jessica charged toward the deer. The herd took off. They bounced the trees like rabbits. She tore through like a knife.
The smaller doe smelled weaker. Her legs were thin. They showed her age. That would be their meal.
The elder wolf and the white wolf closed in. Their prey was corralled. The herd went right. The horse would come. But there was no snow crunching. No labored breaths. No smell of horse. The deer sprang toward their freedom.
She snarled and asked her hind legs for all of their power. The herd veered back to the center. She lunged. The smaller doe leaped away from the buck and the other doe. She pushed herself further. Harder.
The elder wolf caught the doe’s splintery leg. Jessica surged and caught the throat in her jaws. The little thing was out of her misery in seconds.
The white wolf gave a loud howl and the elder wolf joined in. They panted with wagging tails. They celebrated while she ate.
The horse only crossed her mind once. That stupid mule. The elder wolf howled, though. The howl echoed through the trees. She kept on eating. The elder wolf didn’t seem too concerned.
Then he howled again. Louder. A call. She sat up. The elder wolf was concerned. Her ears went forward as she listened. Silence followed.
The white wolf whined, her tail lowered. The elder wolf trotted forward. The white wolf followed him through the forest back to where they had started the chase. Jessica growled with her ears pinned back. She had worked too hard for her kill to leave it.
The elder wolf stopped and growled, standing tall. An order. Then he continued on through the mist. The sound of crunching snow followed him. Growling under her breath, she went along his paw prints and caught up to him.
A sound bounced off the snow. A horse’s neighs of terror. The elder wolf took off at a sprint with Jessica and the white wolf not far behind. She howled. Hell was on its way.
She saw the horse. Her playmate. Her packmate. She crashed into whatever creature had its teeth into the young gray horse. Mid-air, she grabbed skin - fur - and threw the animal to the ground. She snapped at the creature. The smell of unfamiliar wolf filled her nose. A silver male smaller than any other werewolf they had come across struggled beneath her.
The beast snapped at her neck. She leapt away with bared teeth. The elder wolf rammed into him before he could get up. They growled and snapped at each other. She and the white wolf circled the battle. The fighting paused. The elder wolf bared his teeth and growled, snapping just once.
The male wolf showed his belly. He squirmed out of the elder wolf’s grip. He limped with his tail between his legs. He disappeared in the forest, taking the blood scent with him.
The white wolf shouted. Jessica swiveled around to see her the white wolf in human form, and the horse too. She took a step forward and sniffed the human horse. There was the smell of blood. The elder wolf was relaxed, though. There was no fear scent from the white wolf human either. The pack was okay. The pack was safe.
The fear scent from the horse human made her take a step back, though. The human was shaking. In shock. Then the white wolf human started talking. The white wolf human was not concerned. Neither was the elder wolf. The pack was still okay. The horse usually smelled of fear anyway.
A silvery vulture flew in front of them. She growled at it, stepping in front of her packmates. The elder wolf, however, walked calmly up to it. His wisdom was showing.
The creature talked. She growled at it again. Before she could try to kill the thing, she realized it was magic. It disappeared from their sight without even flying away.
The elder wolf turned toward the horse human. The horse human was standing with the help of the white wolf human.
The humans kept talking. Then they moved toward home. She glanced to the elder wolf. The elder wolf stayed put. So she did.
Once they were gone, she she led the elder wolf back to her kill. Even while she was finally eating what she fought for, she felt uncomfortable without her pack.
Delilah had returned to the forest after dropping Audrey back at the house. As it turned out, Audrey did not show up at the edge of the forest when Jessica turned back into a human. Gran was there, though, along with Amanda.
It seemed to be one of those rare full moons Jessica didn’t just simply pass out after transforming. Probably because the night had been boring after the little excitement with Audrey. So after becoming human (the horrible details of transforming spared), she just fell onto her knees catching her breath.
“Is Audrey alright?” Remus asked. He looked visibly weaker too, as he always did. Jessica found he didn’t recover as well or as fast as she did.
“Perfectly fine,” Amanda said, crossing her arms. “Perfectly annoying too.”
“Oh, hush now, Amanda, and help your sister,” Gran ordered. Her sharp gaze was sent at Remus next. “What happened? Audrey was hardly useful, blabbering about something Elena told her, and Delilah left before explaining.”
“A stray werewolf,” Remus explained.
“Without the Wolfsbane,” Jessica responded, hoping she sounded more coherent than she felt.
Remus’s attention went to Gran. “How did you know Audrey was in danger?”
Delilah lit up like fireworks. “My present! It warned everyone about Audrey!”
“By howling and howling and howling and howling…” Amanda muttered, helping Jessica stand with more gentleness than the young werewolf would have thought.
“I’m so happy it does something! Now I’ll always know if you guys are in danger or need help! And Gran will always know if something happens in the forest! It’s brilliant!” The Hufflepuff probably could have sprouted wings with the amount of happiness rolling off of her.
The sun was far too bright by the time they walked through the front door. Jessica was left to walk on her own, which she was fine with. Just as she saw Remus collapse on the couch, she staggered toward her bedroom, thanking Merlin it was the closest room to the front door.
She shut the door just as she heard Audrey shout from her room upstairs, “I AM GOING TO SELL THIS LAZY OWL AS SOON AS I GET BACK TO HOWGARTS!”
And then she collapsed into her bed and fell asleep.
Introducing Jessica! More on her next book, but until then, I thought I'd let her get some screen time.
I have a secret to tell you guys.
I'm American =3 (And so are like, thousands of other people in the Harry Potter fandom, I know, but I thought I'd make that more obvious than it probably already is)
I'm kind of aware British people do not call it "Christmas break" (correct me of I'm wrong) or at least it's said "Christmas Holiday" in the Harry Potter books but when I wrote that down it sounded like they were only coming back Christmas day because of the context and sentence structure around it SO I kept it the American way (or at least the way I say it).
But anyway if you British folk want to shed some light on things that I get wrong or just give me random tidbits of information, I'd love to hear it! Hearing about different cultures always intrigue me.
Chapter 9: Rules
Theodore Nott was very sick of gold and silver by the time Yule came to the Nott mansion. It wasn’t because of the silver and gold ribbons pinned to the walls with palatial perfection, or the silver table cloths impeccably embodied with complex gold trim. Nor was it because of the gold plates and silver knickknacks that came out just once year, or the silver baskets of apples charmed a golden color. It wasn’t even the freshly-cut silver tree with, you guessed it, golden ornaments randomly organized to make it seem homely, like the Notts themselves decorated instead of the house-elves.
Theo was tired of the colors instead because of what it meant: rules. Not the normal social, pureblood rules he had to conquer every day because of his last name, but the rules of the annual ‘which pureblood family can prove they’re the best pureblood’ event that would last well into the evening because, well, it was rude for a guest to leave early. And what made the whole thing worse that it was Theo’s family’s turn to host this annual party, meaning he had to follow even more rules than normal to uphold the Nott family name.
“Theodore, you mustn’t look so gloomy. Our guests could arrive any minute!” his mother said, fixing whatever invisible wrinkle was on his shoulder.
“Are the Bulstrodes coming?” he asked, trying to hide the disgust as he imagined Millicent sticking to him like glue the whole evening talking about her hairless, scarred cat.
“Of course! The Bulstrodes would never miss the Yule gatherings,” his mother said in forced cheery voice. Theo smirked back at her.
“Because of their tendency to borrow some items they find laying around?” Theo asked.
“You shouldn’t say such things on Yule day,” she said, but winked at him with an identical smirk.
It made him smile, remembering the story of a Bulstrode child getting caught with a one-of-a-kind statue one Yule. It had been harmless, yet the Bulstrodes were annoyingly apologetic, reasoning they needed to leave to get their child under control. A few days later, the hosts, the Greengrasses, announced some jewelry was missing and a family heirloom. No one could prove it, but there was one nearly unanimous fact: little four year-old Millicent Bulstrode was the only one seen wandering anywhere close to the rooms where the items were, and that was about when the other Bulstrode kid was caught.
Most of the other families just watched the Bulstrodes and brushed it off, but the Greengrasses and the Bulstrodes avoided each other at all costs at the Yule events.
“Your mother is right, Theodore,” came his father’s voice as he marched into the living room. Theo’s smile disappeared as he stood up straight and watched the sixty-year old man come closer. Despite his wrinkles and silver hair, he did not seem old. With his piercing blue eyes forever alert and his tall, imposing shoulders, people always believed he seemed younger than he was.
The head of the Nott family looked down at Theo and added, “Mention a word of that when the guests arrive, and, well, I believe you are clever enough to understand the consequences.”
Theo, tensing, replied obediently, “Yes, father.”
“And on the topic of your cleverness—”
“Honestly, if your next words are about his mistake from four years ago then you shouldn’t even need to say it. Theodore has been splendidly quiet during the Yule celebrations since then and I truly doubt Lucius Malfoy remembers anything about it.”
Theo held his breath as he watched as his father ready himself like a snake ready to strike, but at the last moment, he relaxed, settling to just stare at her with a sharp gaze.
He can’t do anything when the guests are about to arrive, Theo realized. When he looked at his mother, who glared straight back at her husband with all the ferocity of a young woman protecting her son, he discovered his mother knew this too.
His father broke his gaze and strode toward the door while muttering to the room, “The guests will arrive soon.”
True to his father’s word, the house was filled with people within the next half hour. Theo reintroduced himself as many times as he could, following it with “Yes, Hogwarts is splendid” and “I’m doing well in school, particularly in potions.” And when they asked about Amanda, Theo would smile like his mother spent so many hours teaching him and simply said, “I doubt she would like me to talk behind her back.”
Pansy Parkinson and Millicent said things, of course, gaining a group of adults that listened carefully at what they knew about the Slytherin Heir. What was said was hardly believed by members of a family that actually mattered, however, knowing Amanda was only really friends with Draco and Theo. Not that anyone here would listen to any negative thing said about Amanda anyway. The Slytherin Heir was promoted to be perfect, after all.
After the initial arrivals, Theo glided away into a corner, standing upright. He put on a smile and settled, letting his brain absorb the information he learned in a place where he wasn’t crowded by a whirlpool of noise.
The Parkinson’s younger boy was there, still whining at his mother for a piece of candy like every year. The Greengrass’s brought their youngest, Astoria, after saying so much about her. Theo also noticed that the ancient matriarch of the Flint family wasn’t there. Theo hadn’t heard any rumors about any passing family member, so perhaps she was ill?
“You stole my corner.”
Theo blinked out of that state of mind and noticed his Ravenclaw cousin standing beside him. Her smile told him she was joking.
“Sorry,” he said anyway.
“I see you noticed a missing Flint,” Elena mused, gazing at the family with a sleepy face that resembled a comfortable cat’s. “Did you see Astoria Greengrass?”
“Yes,” Theo said, instinctively being pulled back to the girl a year younger than Jessica. Her beauty kept his eyes there. With skin as smooth as cream and gray eyes full of innocence, yet the feeling she knew far beyond what she let on, it was hard not to stare at her.
“It’s no wonder they haven’t let her come until now,” Elena noted. It was true, Astoria was being kept from the public eye for the same reason Amanda was; she was the step to the Greengrass’s social ladder, being much prettier than her older sister Daphne. When presented, she needed to be perfect.
“Who do you think her parents are hoping for?” Theo asked, jumping back to the ‘guess the best possible match’ game they liked to play ever since Theo was old enough to understand. Elena tilted her head a little as Theo said, “Perhaps Draco? Lucius’s position at the school and influence in the Ministry would fix the lack of Greengrass influence.”
“It would be a stretch, if so,” Elena told him. “Everyone knows Lucius has been preparing Draco for Amanda, and the Greengrasses hardly need the immediate wealth. Considering your father’s shares and business ventures, I’d bet they’re aiming for you.” Theo swallowed and he shifted with unease in his stomach. It was as he always felt when he remembered important lineages applied to him.
“The cousin of the Slytherin Heir,” he reminded himself out loud. Then added, “Not that I would ever pass on anything of the Slytherin family.”
“No, but it isn’t always about literal power, is it?” Elena asked. Theo saw her Ravenclaw peek out, and he listened intently. “Slytherin and Arisio are powerful names with rights and titles, and so now Nott is a powerful name. No magical gifts, but the Greengrasses don’t care about that. They care about social climb and long lasting wealth, which the Notts have always had.” There it was, the intriguing philosophical thoughts that had made Ravenclaw so desirable to Theo.
He smiled, then asked like the gentleman he was supposed to be, “So how horrible has the party been so far for you?”
Elena gave a rather bored look. “I would much rather not be reminded in the slightest of ways that I’m the product of a rebellious accident.” she said. Then she gave him a look that had him very sure he wasn’t going to like what she said next, “I don’t think I remember you mentioning to your father about what the Hat actually told you.” Theo averted his eyes.
“You caught that, did you?” he said, meaning to sound unaffected but failing miserably.
“I don’t think Professor Dumbledore will hold that door open for long,” Elena pointed out. He felt her care wrap around him like a hug. He relaxed, but avoided his cousin’s eyes lest she see just how far he was willing to go to avoid that conversation.
“Theodore, look what Mother gave me!” Pansy shouted, striding over quickly, yet gracefully. She and Daphne surrounded him as if Elena didn’t even exist. His oldest cousin gave a quick, very unnoticeable roll of her eyes before using her cat-like stealth to disappear into another corner.
“I think it’s a real diamond!” Pansy exclaimed. In her hands was a golden chained necklace with a very expensive looking white gem in the middle.
Daphne scoffed. “If Amanda Arisio hasn’t even gotten a diamond, I highly doubt you have one.” Pansy glared at her friend.
“Amanda Arisio hasn’t got anything to do with me!” Pansy snapped.
“I think it’s expensive. Did she tell you where she got it?” Theo said, diverting their attention from Amanda. He realized, as Pansy started to put the necklace on, that even when talking to his friends he was doing exactly what his parents wanted. Obedient to the very letter.
Soon came part two of the pureblood etiquette rulebook: the feast. Sit up straight with a smile, eat as fast as those next to you, but never slower, for you should never look like something disgusts you. Engage in conversation only when spoken to, as was the rule that applied to those his age. And, the simplest rules even a five year old could understand, was to only speak when you had swallowed your food and to never chew with your mouth open.
The meal was delicious, but Theo was having to force himself to eat it because next to him, so aptly put, was Astoria Greengrass. A constant, physical reminder of why she was put there made him tense up and almost forget the “always smile” rule.
The families were taking turns reciting what was new for their family, not all of which was actually new thanks to gossip and obviousness. Pansy’s father made sure to say, “My daughter Pansy has settled in nicely to the Slytherin Dormitory” which was another way of saying ‘Not only is my daughter doing well in school and in Slytherin, she is doing it with the Slytherin Heir .’ Theodore forced himself to take a bite of food to hide his laughter.
The Flints announced that the eldest member of the family was in St. Mungo’s for “reasons we would rather not discuss” which either meant Elder Flint was dying, mentally ill or, if they really wanted to keep it a secret, already dead. They also mentioned Flint’s Quidditch victories, to which Lucius Malfoy drawled, “Amanda Arisio invited my son to join her to try out for the team next year, as my son told me,” which could have been seen as ‘the team is terrible,’ or a very subtle ‘your son is awful at being Captain of the team.’ In another way, it was definitely meant as “look at how important my son is, being invited to join the team by the Slytherin Heir.”
One of the Flint’s easily came back with, “Some people on the team do seem to lack certain talent, but I would really look into getting your son a new broom if he wants to be successful. The school brooms are truly awful.” Theo smirked. ‘Nice counter,’ he thought, remembering Draco's miserable performance against the Gryffindor Golden boy at the beginning of term.
“Excuse me!” came a surprisingly loud voice beside Theo. The table stopped. Beside him, nine year old Astoria looked up at him with her big eyes full of want.
“Er, yes?” he said. He tensed knowing everyone was assessing just how much they were going to scrutinize the little girl’s loudness.
“May I have the salt please?” she asked, this time as quiet and refined as she was supposed to be.
“Sure,” Theo said, giving her the little container.
Astoria didn’t use it, however, until her mother said, “You must excuse my daughter, this is her first time after all.” As the host, Theo’s mother was ready with some cookie cutter reply no one would remember. With that, the pureblood performance went on.
Theo, for once, was not listening. A gray eyed little girl who had piqued his knack for decryption held his attention instead. To anyone else in the room, Astoria had just messed up. But if that were the case, would she have asked for the salt so perfectly?
Astoria glanced up at him and smiled. Theo quickly acted like he was more focused on eating his food, but he knew he’d been caught.
After the initial introductions and explanations, people began talking to their neighbors rather than the whole table. This meant Theo was allowed to speak. So was Astoria, but neither of them even gave a look to each other.
“You look uncomfortable,” his mother finally said under her breath as a matter-of-fact. “Talk to Astoria.”
Theo swallowed, and finally allowed himself to look back at Astoria. She was in a different world. It was like Elena when she was lost in some spell formula she was working on, or Audrey when she was thinking about her stories. Yet rather than being really thoughtful, she looked like she was in an entirely different place.
His mother nudged him, and he said, as he had prepared, “It’s nice to finally meet you, Astoria.”
She blinked back to reality, but looked to her food, ignoring him. Knowing neither his mother or father would let him just leave it there no matter how much he wanted to, Theo came up with something else.
“You don’t have to worry about what happened, by the way, plenty of kids older than you have made worse mistakes,” he said reassuringly, trying to push away the memory of his own mishap. She shrugged, which made Theo instinctively look for anyone who may have watched that “rude” and “lazy” gesture. No one was even paying attention to them.
“You didn’t hear me when I said it before so I had to get your attention somehow,” she told him.
“It’s still rude to interrupt people,” Theo said, taking the words right out of his father’s mouth.
She gave a roll of her eyes, but once again, no one noticed. “No one was even talking, just going on about silly things.” Theo laughed nervously. There were a lot more serious messages behind those “silly things” than she realized.
“So how are you liking the party so far?” Theo asked.
“It’s boring, the people are dull, and this dress was more comfortable when there were needles poking out of it,” Astoria mumbled. Theo must have glanced at the people nearest to them, because then she sighed irritably and said, “No one can hear us, Nott, stop acting all jumpy.”
“How do you know?” Theo challenged. “All they would have to hear is a word or two.”
“I’m nine, you’re eleven, and all our parents care is that we get along. We’re invisible,” Astoria explained. Theo looked at her with a puzzled expression. How could this girl be so blunt? Didn’t she know how people spoke here?
“There are expectations,” he began. Her scoff interrupted him.
“They’re too busy talking about Ministry elections and what the weather’s going to be like for the next month to pay attention to someone who isn’t old enough to be married yet,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “But I suppose you know what they’re actually saying so it makes you feel smart, like you can teach a little girl like me to follow their rules.”
Theo could not utter a word.
“What you don’t know is my parents think I need to be proper in order to catch the attention of a family worth their time, so I have spent days learning what to say, how to say it, when to be quiet, when to leave, all of that. I don’t need an older boy telling me—” In a blink, she went from a slouching grump glaring at her food to a proper heiress sitting up straight with her gray eyes innocent and her smile gentle.
“Astoria,” said her mother moments later, gesturing to Theo’s mother, “Say hello to Noira Nott.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Astoria said.
“You too, dear,” Theo’s mother said from a few seats away. “How has your first Yule been?” Astoria let herself smile wider.
“It’s been wonderful! The food here is delicious,” Astoria said. Theo’s mother kept talking, but Theo could not stop staring at the youngest Greengrass. Everyone here became different at an event like this. Draco acted like a gentleman. Marcus Flint suddenly became smarter and nicer, for once talking about his team like teammates. Theo’s father actually seemed like the perfect husband, all loving and proud like he was supposed to be.
But no one dared to let themselves go. No one yelled just loud enough to get what they wanted, but proper enough for people to dismiss it as a mistake. No one openly admitted hating this event. That, after all, was against the rules.
And Astoria was bending those rules like Theo had never seen before.
Theo and Astoria avoided talking to each other for a long while after that. In fact, they were nearly done with their meal when Astoria suddenly asked, “What’s Amanda Arisio like?” He opened his mouth to recite his normal spiel, but she interrupted, “Be honest, please.” Theo looked, but no one was watching. He supposed a nine-year old couldn’t ruin Amanda’s reputation.
“A Slytherin Heir,” he said, having no clue what to else say. “Not really subtle. I suppose she’s smart, too, and it’s always entertaining when she and Draco aren’t getting along.”
“Is she like Daphne?” Astoria asked. Theo laughed.
“No, not at all,” he answered. “Amanda is far more opinionated. I think that’s why they hate each other. Really, the only Slytherins she hangs around is Draco and I. Otherwise she’s with her sisters or Harry Potter.” Astoria smiled.
“I want to be like her someday,” Astoria declared. Theo looked back at his plate, wondering what type of things she grew up hearing about Amanda. To her, Amanda probably seemed like an untouchable queen.
“Er, sorry about earlier,” he said after a few more bites. She shrugged.
“It’s fine,” she said.
He wasn’t sure what that meant at all, so he spent the rest of the evening socializing as quietly and normally as possible, stealing a glance at Astoria every so often to see her as perfect as could be among the other pureblood families.
Come the next day, Theo was ready and in the family area as soon as he heard that Elena was up and getting ready. It was late Christmas morning. Theo’s cousins would all be finishing up opening their presents at the Longbottom house, and then he and Elena would join them for the rest of the day.
“Excited?” Elena asked, a knowing smile on her face.
“I’m anxious to tell Amanda something,” Theo said quickly. Not entirely untrue, but he really did want to get out of this gold and silver infested house and have some Christmas fudge without having to worry about how he was sitting.
“I saw you talking to Astoria last night. Is she someone worth mentioning to Amanda?” Elena asked. Theo nodded. He thought so. Astoria already admired the Slytherin Heir. Perhaps Amanda could use that at some point.
“Going to see Amanda so soon?” came his mother’s voice. He turned around and smiled at her.
“It’s not against the rules again, is it?” Theo joked. His mother laughed.
“If it is I’ll tell your father you decided to meet Amanda at the Malfoy’s for the day,” she told him.
“The usual excuse?” he said.
“The usual excuse,” she responded, a mischievous smile on her face. There was a small silence. Elena, as if she knew what he was about to say, vanished into the other room with the floo powder.
“Mom, if I could tell you something…” he began.
“Of course,” she said.
“Well…” The words stuck in his throat and he had to focus on not looking away. If he was this nervous talking to his mother, how could he talk to his father about this? “I think you might already know this, but the Sorting Hat…It didn’t want me to be in Slytherin.” His mother nodded.
“You’re a Ravenclaw, this is true,” she said. She smiled proudly as she added, “The most clever of them all, in my opinion.” Theo blushed at that.
“I’m sorry I didn’t just agree with it. But if I went into Ravenclaw—”
“Your father would have a raging fit, yes, I know,” she said with a sigh. “He only sees your brilliance as a tool, that idiot.” Theo smiled. Something about the way she called his father names always made him extremely pleased.
“Well, obviously the Headmaster noticed that I asked the Sorting Hat to put me in Slytherin, and he told me that I could change. That I could go to Ravenclaw.” His mother’s eyes widened.
“Really? Is that true? That would be brilliant!” his mother exclaimed. Theo smiled awkwardly.
“The only thing is,” he said before his mother could get too happy, “I need my parents’ written permission.” She paused, thinking hard.
“Well then,” she said, “I’ll just have to convince him myself.” Theo stared with wide eyes. On the one hand, he was so relieved that he wasn’t going to be forced to have that conversation with his father. On the other hand, it was his mother who was going to endure his wrath.
“But what if—?”
“Theodore, I’ll forge the bloody signature if I have to,” she said, embracing him. “I don’t care what he says or does. As long as you’re happy, I’m happy.” He held onto that hug for a long time, feeling completely at ease in that one moment.
“Now get going before he comes downstairs. I daresay he isn’t in the best of moods today,” she said, releasing him. He gave her one last smile and sprang into the room after Elena.
Red and green welcomed him once he stepped into the Longbottom’s living room, along with Christmas lights randomly hanging from the staircase they could see. Some parts were longer than others, uneven and not perfectly done. That was the difference between the Yule gathering and the Christmas get-together: the feeling of home.
They walked in and heard Audrey ask, “So he bought you a hat?”
Delilah giggled as she held up the wolf statue. It sported a tiny Santa hat that seemed to be made specifically for it.
“I overheard him talking about it, so I got him a tiny broomstick that looks like his own broomstick. It even flies around like how my statue moves!”
“ Where did you even find a thing like—”
“Theo!” Amanda announced, racing to her feet and over to him. “I was wondering you were going to show up!”
“Had to listen to a lecture from dad, first,” Theo lied as he grinned.
“Hey did you get my letter?” Audrey asked, nearly running into Elena.
“Your letter? I don’t think so.” Elena said. Audrey sighed harshly. Amanda busted up laughing.
“Your owl is more useless than your birthday present!” she shouted in between laughs. She gained a glare from Audrey.
“Speaking of which,” Elena said over Amanda’s cackling, “do you think you could give me that present? Your dad’s, I mean? I was going to see if I couldn’t transfigure it into a necklace charm, if you want.” Audrey blinked.
“Wow, okay! Thank you, that sounds perfect!” the Ravenclaw Coppin seemed more relieved than anything. “Here, let me go get it before I forget.” And Audrey went up the stairs, the creaking of the wood following her.
“So, how was the Pureblood Christmas?” Amanda asked as Elena strode off to talk to Delilah and Jessica.
“The Flint’s have an elder at St. Mungo’s that isn’t doing well, I think Pansy Parkinson older sister got that job in the ministry, and I, er, met Daphne’s little sister,” Theo said. Amanda rolled her eyes.
“I meant the overall boringness,” she said.
“So, Daphne’s little sister? Is she as self-centered and bratty?” Amanda asked.
“No, actually,” he said, letting the surprise seep through his voice. “She followed the rules about as good as Jessica when the adults weren’t looking. I don’t think she likes me all that well.”
“Well I can only imagine why,” she said, smirking. It was his turn to roll his eyes.
“She admires you, you know,” Theo told her.
“She’s probably been hearing stories about me since she was five,” Amanda responded with a shrug. “I wonder what those are about since none of them have actually ever seen me.”
Ignoring that last part, he said, “I know admiring fans aren’t new for you, but maybe that means you should be careful around Daphne? Astoria is a good witch to have on your side, but if her sister comes home and tells her how awful you are—”
Amanda gave a deep laugh. “I think she already does.”
“But I mean something really horrible, Amanda,” Theo tried.
“Theo, I appreciate the effort, but I really doubt Astoria’s gonna change her mind in two years. And besides, once she gets to Hogwarts and sees what I’m really like, I think she won’t trust anything her sister has said or will say.”
Theo nodded, his shoulders falling. Couldn’t she see how important this was?
Just then a pounding came from upstairs. Audrey came flying down the stairs and around the corner.
The Ravenclaw ran into Jessica just as she turned toward the living room.
“Where’s the letter?” Audrey demanded. Being both panicked and angry, the words came out twice as fast and harsh as normal.
“What letter?” Jessica asked, alarmed but focused.
“The one that was on my desk! Where did you put it?”
“I didn’t go into your room, stupid, although now I kind of wish I had,” Jessica said. “Who was the letter for? Your boyfriend?”
Amanda put forth a smirk and a tone that proved she was being purposefully aggravating, and said, “So that’s where you’ve been going.”
Audrey gave them a glare and a groan/growl before rushing back upstairs.
For about a minute, everyone just started up after her.
“Does anyone know what that was about?”
“Not a clue,” Elena said.
“I really want to know what was in that letter,” Jessica said, her longing gaze fixed on the stairs.
“Agreed,” Amanda said. Theo would be lying if he said he wasn’t the least bit curious.
“Well anyway come see what the Malfoys got me!” Amanda shouted, and pulled him away. And so went the rest of Christmas. Playing with all of the new stuff Amanda got, a quick Quidditch game outside, and a very tasty feast with lots of laughing, teasing, and absolutely no rules
Chapter 10: Figuring It Out
Christmas holiday went by quickly after that. Amanda had spent only a little time outside considering the freezing weather, though she did start testing out her glass snake whenever she could. Then it was back to Hogwarts, which meant lessons, studying, homework, studying, and more lessons (not that Amanda did all of those things).
Amanda was…lonely. Audrey was in the library at an even more consistent basis than before, Delilah was not seen without Cedric unless she was in class, Theo decided now was the best time to start actually paying attention in class (which he didn’t really need to do, she knew), and Elena…well, it wasn’t the same as with Audrey or Delilah. And then there was Draco, who seemed more obsessed with Harry Potter than honored to be with her.
So it was nice to get together with her sisters again under moonlight and be their animal selves. Though it was still freezing, Amanda managed to find herself a warm rock to sleep on while her sisters frolicked about. She caught Audrey looking longingly at the forest and Delilah’s exploding excitement when her howls were replied to by something among the trees.
Amanda slithered through the grass to her siblings, transforming into her human form when she was next to them.
“Just think, next year Jessica will be here with us strolling into the Forbidden Forest every full moon,” Amanda said as a way to cheer up her sisters when they realized it was nearly time to leave. Both of them transformed alongside her, all staring at the daring forest before them.
“Do you really think it’s safe to go in there?” Audrey asked. Amanda rolled her eyes.
“Yes, scaredy cat. Otherwise Dumbledore wouldn’t have even hinted to letting us in there next year,” she explained.
“What if that was before something dangerous entered the forest?” the Ravenclaw questioned. “What if the rules are going to change?”
“What makes you think that?” Delilah asked with a cute tilt of her head. “Did one of those books you’ve been reading give you scary thoughts?” Audrey nodded. Amanda just realized the extremely worried face her Ravenclaw sister wore.
“I…” she drifted off, then she sighed. “Our dad gave me a list of books to read, and I think they’re just…not leaving me in a good way.”
“Wait,” Amanda said, “our dad actually wrote you?” Audrey shrugged.
“I accidentally sent him a letter. I didn’t expect him to reply,” Audrey responded. Then a flash of ferocity crossed her eyes. “And he didn’t even reply, really. Just gave me a list of books that may or may not help me.”
“Have they?” Delilah asked just as Amanda demanded, “Why in Merlin’s name did you send him a letter?”
“I told you, it was an accident, I didn’t actually want to give him that letter. I just ranted on a piece of parchment and accidentally gave it to my owl instead Elena’s letter,” Audrey explained.
“Oh so that’s why you were scared about Jessica finding it,” Amanda mused. “Good decision, I doubt she would have ever let you forget you wrote a worthless letter to our dad again.”
“Did any of those books help you?” Delilah repeated.
Audrey shrugged. “Maybe? I learned unicorns—which is what I’m pretty sure was dying in the forest—are pretty much unbeatable and that it would take extremely dark magic to catch them. I also learned unicorns have magic to keep people sort of alive, but no idea how. Oh, and let’s not forget the part about the terrifying kinds of creatures that can actually harm a unicorn.”
“Amazing, our dad isn’t useful,” Amanda said dryly. “Shocking, really.”
“It is useful, I just haven’t got all the information,” Audrey countered sharply. “I probably should have read them in order, but some of these books aren’t in the library so I have to ask Elena to help me find them because there’s no way on earth Gran would get them for me, given some of the titles they have.”
“Merlin, if you talk any faster I don’t even think the hummingbirds could keep up,” Amanda interrupted her. She was thanked with a very sharp glare.
“I bet you’ll find the answers soon,” Delilah comforted. “You’re always good at finding things out.” Audrey nodded.
“I just hope it isn’t something truly horrible,” she said, her voice wavering. Amanda had a feeling that no matter what her sister found it would scare her.
After a bit of silence, Amanda asked, “Do any of you know how to get rid of an annoying prat who won’t shut up about ‘getting back at Potter?’” Audrey and Delilah laughed.
“They hate each other, don’t they?” the Hufflepuff asked.
Audrey gave a short laugh. “I don’t think they met on the best of terms.”
“Draco doesn’t meet anyone on the best of terms,” Amanda sighed, rolling her eyes.
“To be fair, Harry is just as much of a prat sometimes,” Audrey told them. “I’m always overhearing him and Ron making jabs at Draco.”
Amanda raised an eyebrow. “ Overhearing things, hmm?” She was given a playful shove in response.
“It isn’t like I can just ignore the fact I can hear so well,” Audrey pointed out. “And sometimes I find out useful things, like the fact Harry has an invisibility cloak.” Amanda’s gaze widened as it fixed on Audrey, who had her head held high with the pride of knowing something Amanda didn’t.
“An invisibility cloak?!” Amanda exclaimed incredulously. “I’ve wanted one for years! Since when did he get one?”
“He got it for Christmas, I think,” Audrey answered. “Oh! And I think he also may have encountered that mirror you and Delilah were going on about.”
“Really?” Amanda asked.
“What did he see?” said Delilah.
“His parents,” Audrey answered. “And Ron saw himself as Head Boy, and Quidditch Captain and a whole lot of other positions. I think I figured it out.”
“Oh please don’t go Ravenclaw on us,” Amanda whined.
But Audrey was already explaining. “It shows you what you desire most. Harry obviously wants to see his parents, Ron wants to be remembered as something other than ‘another Weasley,’ and Amanda, you want to be a dragon…”
“Obviously,” she scoffed.
“…and Delilah…well, I’m not sure what yours is all about, but there you go. I answered that question.”
“Not that either of us were really begging for an answer to begin with,” Amanda muttered with a smirk. Audrey rolled her eyes.
“Could you at least let me relish in my victory? Just a little?” she asked.
And so they went on talking about their ordinary days. Not long after that conversation was done, Professor McGonagall told them it was time to go back to their common rooms, and for once none of them complained.
Of course, Draco and Theo waited for her, both thinking she was taking extra lessons from Snape. Amanda just said a quick “goodnight,” however, before rushing up to her dorm. After all, she had other things to do than listen to Draco bet on how long Harry was going to last in the next Quidditch match. So instead she nested on her bed with her mother’s things, something she hadn’t done since September.
She held familiar note that was crumpled at the corners because of how much Amanda read it. Being that her mother was much too above writing a diary or journal, the note was the only written account of Adrianna Arisio’s life that the new Slytherin Heir actually had. It wasn’t long, and it seemed more like a letter. Though, if it was, there was no indication as to whom she was sending it.
It was just a small update on a pet she must have had called Salazar. Amanda had always wondered what the pet was. At first she had thought it was a snake when her mother wrote down about how she talked to her pet and how it was finding out the most interesting things for her, but then she started talking about very specific tasks it did, like telling other people things, so Amanda decided it was an owl. It didn’t make a lot of sense, but owls at least relayed information in English.
Then Amanda started to put together the pieces when she saw the sentence ‘he’s fragile, so of course I have to be careful.’ Fragile. Fragile like glass…Amanda glanced at the glass snake curled up on her nightstand.
She had always assumed she just meant that the animal itself wasn’t very strong, but now she wondered if that was true. So she said the only word which would wake her glass snake from his unanimated mode: “ Salazar.” It shifted, blinked, and swerved its head gracefully to her, waiting for a command.
Amanda froze. How in Merlin’s name did she miss this? Her mother had had this gift? Was it a Slytherin Heirloom? If it was, none of the history books mentioned it. And it could record. How? Amanda supposed she just had to ask it. But who could she test it on?
The idea struck her harder than the realization of its purpose. She grinned.
The next day, after pacing in her dormitory all morning while she plotted, she trekked out of the castle and across the grounds to the Quidditch pitch, soon reaching the Slytherin section as she watched the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs cheer for their teams.
Why was she at a Gryffindor/Hufflepuff match? Well, her plan for one thing, but she was going whether or not she had a plan. See, the House Cup currently teetered on this Quidditch match. If Gryffindor lost against Hufflepuff, Slytherin was in the lead by a lot. If Gryffindor won, Gryffindor would take the lead.
Suffice to say, it was important.
But, her plan was just as important. Without looking for anyone she knew, she took her seat, reached into her coat and whispered in parseltongue to Salazar, “ Go to Professor Quirrell and record him throughout the match. Then come back to me.”
Just after it slithered down into the bleachers out of sight, Amanda saw Professor Dumbledore in the stands with the other teachers. What was even more, Snape was apparently refereeing the match, which she probably would have known if she had listened to Draco earlier. She sighed. Well that was a waste. He isn’t going to prove he’s the murderer while both of them are here.
And then, once the game started, another realization: Draco wasn’t with her. He wouldn’t have missed the match, she knew that for certain, so she searched the stands, starting with the Gryffindor section.
There he was, taunting Neville and Ron. Merlin, he was annoying sometimes.
Ron attacked Malfoy, but the fight was drowned out by the crowd that erupted around them. Amanda looked up just in time to see Harry take a huge dive. Cedric sped toward him, but it was too late.
Harry had caught the snitch.
As the Gryffindors cheered, some of the other houses started shouting in awe. It was the quickest game in Hogwarts history. She was both impressed and disgusted. Just how could someone be that good with only a few months training?
In the end, she didn’t stay long. Draco had found her, and as he put pressure on a nasty looking bump on his cheek, he decided to complain about how awful it was no teacher believed him when he said Ronald Weasley had punched him. Suffice to say Amanda just went straight up to her dormitory as soon as she could.
And when she laid on her bed, pleased with Hogwarts for making sure no boy could enter a girls’ dormitory, she dozed off to sleep thinking about just what idiocy she had would have to deal with the next day with Gryffindor squarely in the lead for the House Cup, not even noticing that there was a weight in her pocket that was missing.
Audrey spent weeks going through the books her father had listed for her. The information she was getting from said books was interesting, such as the fact werewolves were too slow for unicorns. Unicorns had useful abilities too, the most relevant being that their blood’s healing powers could keep a creature from death. But what kind of creatures? And what did a “half-life” even mean?
That’s how a lot of the information ended up being—mixed and matched. Splotchy. Incredibly important facts without any connection to one another.
She sighed loudly and fell all the way back onto the couch. An older student walked by and whispered to her friend, “Can’t even handle the pressure her first year. Wonder what’s going to happen in her fifth?” They giggled and went on.
Audrey really hated being able to hear so well.
She glanced up at the standings, seeing her name second behind Terry Boot’s. ‘ Which means I’m about fourth, if Theo and Hermione have continued being brilliant. Which means I should be studying for that test I have tomorrow. And going over potions homework. And preparing what I’m going to say to Flitwick about that low grade…’
‘No stop thinking about that,’ she ordered herself and closed the book she had been reading on the magical qualities of different sorts of blood. She picked up her dad’s list again, sighing as she figured out she had read all of them that she could find in the library. The ones Elena had ordered wouldn’t arrive for a few days.
She reached into her bag, just to make sure, and brought out one final book. She knew it was there, knew she would avoid reading it, but looked at it anyway.
The Families Of the Founders. It was a completely random book, but it was the first one on her dad’s list with two little letters next to it: AA + AT. Whatever that meant. Audrey knew that the book would only be just another pedigree report on families supposedly linking back to the Founders of Hogwarts. She had read enough of them to know no one was really 100% certain any of the current families were related to the founders.
‘ I wonder if Zacharias Smith’s family is in here,’ she thought suddenly, remembering the newspapers from early in the school year. She started flipping through the pages, looking for his name.
When she passed a page with the letters AA beautifully drawn together, she paused, and skimmed over the first paragraph.
The Arisio family is, in the modern day, most well-known for their matriarchy and their tradition of gifting their children with names beginning and most times ending with A. However, their most significant legacy is definitely their direct relation to Salazar Slytherin, being the only family to completely retain a pure assortment of Salazar Slytherin’s abilities. Though most documents about them remain hidden, a few dating as far back as the Founding of Hogwarts proves this family could be as old as the school itself. Some famous members include—
Audrey stopped. Arisio. Wasn’t that the little nickname Theo and Malfoy had used for Amanda so many years ago? Her mind put it together. Arianna Nott. Adrianna Coppin. Amanda Coppin. That’s how it was in every lineage she had seen. ‘But were any of them written by a pureblood of Malfoy’s standards?’ Audrey thought. Bias. Patriarchal tradition. Everything that could get in the way of actual history.
Audrey flipped the page she was on to look at the family tree, finding the most recent generation: Anthony and Alanna Arisio along with their daughter, Arianna Arisio. Her heart must have been beating faster than it ever had before.
Arisio wasn’t a nickname. It was a surname. A family name, one that belonged to Salazar Slytherin. And if it was a matriarchal family…that meant Amanda, the oldest of the three, was the heir. The Slytherin Heir. And it meant Audrey, Delilah, and Jessica were also related to one of the founders of Hogwarts.
However…no, the family was matriarchal. Elena was the oldest of Adrianna Arisio’s children. Elena was the Slytherin Heir. And if they were the only family that kept all of Salazar Slytherin’s abilities, that meant their oldest sister had been keeping a very large secret for a very long time.
Audrey shut the book, simply staring at the cover for a long time. Her mind raced through the maze of information, trying to cut a straight path. Elena was a Slytherin Heir. Amanda was the pureblood’s Slytherin Heir. She was a Slytherin Heir. ‘ I probably can’t speak parseltongue because of our father’s family curse,’ she decided, concluding it to be the same with Delilah and Jessica. Even Amanda, though with her being a snake it made no difference.
Audrey quickly set the book back into her bag, telling herself to check it back into the library as soon as she could. But then she remembered she hadn’t gotten it from the library. It had been the only book her father had sent with the letter.
‘ He can’t have just sent it so I could learn my history, he must have sent it for a reason,’ she thought, but as her mind dove into the hundred of reasons he could have wanted her to know about their mother’s family, she decided she didn’t want to know. Not if there was a bigger surprise waiting within the answer.
So she decided she would leave it in the library anyway, just another book among thousands.
Still, she sat on that couch thinking about the fact she was related to Salazar Slytherin and the fact that Elena knew. So why would she want to keep it a secret?
Chapter 11: From Toy to Coin
“ I have returned,” came Salazar’s hushed voice, its glass head poking out carefully from underneath her nightstand. The dormitory was empty, but who knew when someone would walk in?
“ Did you record anything?” Elena asked in parsletongue, the words easily forming in her mouth.
“ Professor Quirrell talked with many of his students, Professor McGonagall, Argus Filch, and Severus Snape.”
Elena thought for a second, then asked, “Where was each conversation?”
“Students, in his Hogwarts classroom. Professor McGonagall, in the Hogwarts halls. Argus Filch, in the Hogwarts halls. Severus Snape, in the Forbidden Forest.”
“That conversation, Professor Snape’s,” Elena said. “ Replay—”
The dormitory door knob turned.
“ Sleep,” she ordered the glass snake. It curled up beneath the nightstand, unseen as Elena’s dormmate strode in, chattering with one of her friends.
Elena stood up and started gathering her things, being quiet about it as she gently grabbed the glass snake and put it into a small, very padded pocket of her bag.
“Where are you off to, Elena? It’s still lunchtime,” one of the girls said.
“The library,” Elena lied smoothly. “One of my sisters needs help with her potions homework.”
The other girl laughed. “Who doesn’t? Well, see you later.”
After saying her own goodbye, Elena grabbed her bag and made her way out the Ravenclaw common room and through the halls.
Just as she made it to the ground floor, a Hufflepuff third year saw her and brightened up. She left her friends for a moment and bounced over to Elena.
“I got an E! And Professor McGonagall even gave me 5 points for how unique it was! Thank you again for helping me! I wouldn’t have even gotten a P without you.”
“I wouldn’t say that. All I did was help you outline. The specific individuality was all your writing,” Elena said, smiling at her. The Hufflepuff girl just beamed brighter.
“Still, thank you. If you ever need anything, I owe you,” the Hufflepuff said, and then bounced back to her friends as they headed toward their common room.
Elena went on toward the Defense Against the Dark Arts classrooms, thinking about when she had agreed to help that third year. The girl had been in the library nearly in tears, and Elena had just been passing by. The only thing she knew about the girl was that she was somewhat of a prodigy with hexes, and yet Elena still managed to help her through her distressed state like she had Audrey so many times before.
Not that the Hufflepuff really needed anything other than a direction. Once Elena helped the third year outline, the Hufflepuff in her had taken over and she worked as hard as she could to finish it with dedication and without a single tear in her eye.
Elena glanced around the hallway as she passed the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom she knew Quirrell used in the next period.
Elena reached into her bag and said, “ Salazar .” As it blinked awake and unfurled, she said quietly, “ Follow him and record any conversation he has with Severus Snape and anyone who isn’t a student.”
The glass snake slithered into the classroom through the small crack of the slightly opened door. Elena went down through the hallway as if nothing had happened.
Most wizards would wonder if the snake needed more specific directions, but those wizards probably hadn’t gone through and searched through the spells put on it. Some were too deeply layered or obscure for Elena to really understand them, but she knew enough to realize the little glass snake knew as much as the person who unlocked him, yet still needed orders to perform certain tasks.
Audrey turned the corner, walking toward her. She stopped for a second when she saw Elena, her eyes wide, but then strode on, looking like she wanted to forget something.
“Audrey? Are you alright?” Elena asked.
“Yes, er, did those books I ordered come in yet?” Audrey deflected.
“Not yet,” Elena answered, figuring maybe one of the books on that list was making her anxious. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah, fine,” Audrey said quickly. “Gotta go to class.” Then she rushed away like she was late.
Well that was odd.
Still, it reminded her of what she was going to do to the little dragon present for Audrey. So later that day, when classes were over and everyone returned to their warm common rooms, Elena went to a vacant Transfiguration classroom that Professor McGonagall told her she could use so long as she was careful.
It was dark, but not enough to leave her unable to see. So she brought out the little dragon present Audrey had gotten for her birthday and simply examined it. As she expected, a normal knick knack.
But that wouldn’t make sense, considering Delilah’s gift warned her about danger and Amanda’s gift gave her the ability to record and translate. This gift was not normal, it just appeared that way.
So Elena picked up her wand and tried a few minor revealing spells. Nothing happened. So she tried more advanced spells. The little dragon shook on the desk, but settled. Sighing, she tried a very harsh spell, known to break more fragile objects.
The little dragon morphed into a beastly gargoyle about six inches tall for a split second before morphing back.
‘Dark magic?’ She thought to herself. She tried an obscure spell, one invented just a few years prior for ‘finicky finds.’ The spell did its work, unraveling just a layer of spells, unable to reveal the rest.
‘ Definitely dark magic,’ she decided, recognizing one of the spells that reacted to the revealing spell. She reached into her bag and brought out a book on protective spells she had checked out from the restricted section on the permission of Professor Flitwick, who encouraged her to learn more about protective charms seeing as she asked about them often.
Having already read the book, knowing this object would most likely lead her there, Elena flipped to the page her hunch led her. Sure enough, there was the first spell:
This spell is a protective spell under the ‘Dark Magic’ category usually used on an object and relatively invisible to most casual searches. It is a protective spell, and can be used along with other spells without any interference or dulling of the spell’s original power. Despite being a protective spell, it is considered a spell of Dark Magic because of how the spell enacts the protection of its bearer--that is to say, offensively.
Elena sighed. So it was designed to protect Audrey. Well, at least that spell was. Elena knew there were more enchantments, and the chances of them all being protective spells, dark or not, were very slim.
The Dark Magic didn’t bother her; if Audrey’s father was meaning to protect her, he wouldn’t purposefully hurt her with a nasty spell. What bothered her was what else the little dragon present could be hiding.
Elena went on with her original plan and began to Transfigure the little object. It was harder and it took much longer than it should have because of all the touchy spells on it, but eventually it morphed into a golden coin engraved with a dragon along with the letters A.T. Elena paused when she saw the letters, but ignored them so she could focus on making a small hole in the coin.
When that was done, she took out a golden chain and a small jump ring, clipped the coin to the ring, and finally completed the necklace. The coin wasn’t large, so overall it was rather light. She put it on herself out of curiosity. She didn’t feel any different. Still, she told herself she would wear it for a few days just to make sure there were no negative effects.
“I have returned,” came Salazar’s voice as the glass snake slithered on top of the desk. “I recorded one conversation. I now have two ready for listening.”
“Replay what you’ve recorded,” Elena ordered in parseltongue as she sat back in her chair.
“Playing the first recorded message from yesterday evening, in the Forbidden Forest, between Severus Snape and Professor Quirrell,” the glass snake announced.
“d-don’t know why you wanted t-t-o meet here of all p-places, Severus…” came Quirrell’s voice from glass snake, despite its immobile mouth.
“Oh, I thought we’d keep this private,” Snape’s voice followed. “Students aren’t supposed to know about the Sorcerer’s Stone, after all.”
‘The Sorcerer’s Stone,’ Elena thought to herself as Quirrell went on mumbling something. Her interest transformed into excitement as she thought of the famous stone and the alchemist who made it. ‘Does that mean it’s at Hogwarts?’ That thought made her wonder if she could find it. It would be an amazing thing to look at.
“Have you found out how to get passed that beast of Hagrid’s yet?” Snape demanded.
“B-b-but Severus, I—”
“I hope, for your sake, your plan does not include the girl,” Snape said coolly. Elena tensed, knowing full well where Delilah went when she was not with Cedric.
“I-I don’t know what you—” Quirrell stammered.
“You know perfectly well what I mean,” Snape said, still calm but obviously irritated. “I know what you attempted on Halloween.”
“B-but I d-d-don’t—”
“Very well. We’ll have another little chat soon, when you’ve had time to think things over and decided where your loyalties lie.”
The glass snake shifted and said in parseltongue, “That was all.”
Elena stared at the piece of parchment that had some homework on it. Right then it seemed absolutely worthless.
‘Professor Quirrell is trying to steal the Sorcerer’s Stone,’ Elena decided, once she’d pieced the information together. It was obvious, no matter how deceptive the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher attempted to be during that conversation. Severus Snape, after all, was one of the teachers that set up a guard for the stone, according to what little Elena had overheard earlier in the term, before she managed to snatch Salazar. If Snape wanted the stone, he would already have it.
‘Not to mention Delilah. That letter she got must have been Quirrell’s attempt to kidnap her and use her to get past Fluffy,’ Elena thought. Her thoughts jumped to the unicorns, which she knew must have played a part in what was going on with Quirrell judging by the books Audrey was looking at. The answer was close, right on the tip of her tongue.
There was a knock on the door.
Elena looked up, finding Flitwick in the doorway of the classroom.
“I’m sorry, professor, I know it’s late, I was just finishing up,” she said, gathering her things.
“Actually, Miss Arisio,” said Flitwick, the tone of his voice forcing her to look at him again. Pity. But what was he showing pity for? “You have been summoned to the Headmaster’s office.” Elena’s eyes narrowed.
“What’s wrong?” she asked. She was sure she hadn’t done anything wrong. Was something wrong with Delilah? Audrey? Amanda? Jessica? Theo? As the list of people went on in her head, Flitwick shook his head.
“It’s about your aunt. I am afraid…I am afraid she passed away.”
Elena stopped. Stopped thinking, stopped breathing, stopped seeing. What had happened? Who could have done it? Why? Her uncle was her first thought, but why now? Was Theo safe?
That thought knocked her out of her state of shock. With an expression rivaling that of a leopard with threatened cubs, she looked back to Flitwick and demanded, “Where is Theo?”
Chapter 12: A Baby Dragon and an Invisibility Cloak
Amanda was under a bookshelf.
In her snake form, of course. She was resting in a hidden spot only a few inches tall and, to the passing student, she was just a black shadow beneath shelves catering to books that no one really needed.
A distant part of her knew the last time she did something similar (namely, hiding under the ottoman in the Gryffindor common room) the only reason she wasn’t expelled was that no one could prove it and the Headmaster was being nice. Yet, after weeks of being in mourning over her aunt, Amanda decided not to listen to that distant part of her. She was hoping to just hide underneath the shelves to mope without being interrupted by an ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ or the ever so annoying ‘how are you doing?’
She also thought she could catch a bit of intriguing conversation that could take her mind off of all her troubles. So far, though, there had been nothing. Even Harry Potter, who had consistently had something amusing going on in his life, had nothing new to share. He and Ron and Hermione were just studying, being normal first years for once.
The ground beneath her vibrated and lurched. At first she wondered what an earthquake was doing at Hogwarts, but then she saw Hagrid lumbering forward, carrying a load of books heavier than Amanda in her human form.
The half giant paused by Harry’s table and started whispering to them. Amanda caught the words “Sorcerer’s Stone” followed by some very quick, jabbing whispers and something along the lines of “come by and we’ll talk” from Hagrid. Then Hagrid shuffled off. Seconds later, Ron vanished the way Hagrid had come.
Amanda was already formulating how she would skip her next class to follow them, just to find out what they knew or were going to find out from Hagrid. Then Ron came back with another huge pile of books, slamming them on the table and whispering far too loudly, “ Dragons !”
They went back to quiet voices after that, to which Amanda once again wished she had Audrey’s hearing abilities. Pushing that desire aside, she felt her little snake heart speed up quickly. Dragons! Amanda had always wanted to see one, but Gran had been adamant about keeping her away from them. Gran thought regular magical zoos were fine, but dragons? Absolutely not. Apparently, they were too dangerous, or at least that’s how Gran made it out to be.
But she was determined to see them anyway.
So about an hour later, when the three Gryffindors packed up their bags and left, Amanda slithered out from underneath the bookcase unnoticed, transformed and meandered through the library, into the halls, toward Hagrid’s house.
Once they were further from the castle and Amanda was certain no one would catch her with the Gryffindors, Amanda pranced right over beside Ron.
“So, what exactly is the Sorcerer’s Stone?” Amanda asked.
Like startled cats, they spooked, and stared wide-eyed at the grinning Slytherin.
“Come to spy on us, have you?” Ron spat out. Amanda shook her head.
“Stop being so single-minded, Weasley. Ravenclaws are excellent spies, too, and you can never trust a Hufflepuff. But anyhow, I just overheard you talking and decided I wanted to go to Hagrid’s too. The Sorcerer’s Stone sounds important.” Harry and Hermione continued giving wide-eyed looks.
Harry recovered first. “You expect us to simply lead you right into Hagrid’s? You don’t even know him.”
“So? You said dragons, and I hear he might have one,” Amanda said. “That’s all I really care about, anyway.” Then she spun around and started walking toward the wooden house.
The three of them dashed up to match her quick pace.
“You can’t just—”
“If you really want me to, I could just let the headmaster know about that midnight stroll you took to the third corridor,” Amanda said as they walked.
Hermione narrowed her eyes. “How do you plan to prove—?”
“Or I could tell Draco,” she said, giving Ron a wicked smile. “Your pick.”
They were quiet the rest of the way, save for their unnervingly loud glares that gave Amanda an extra spring in her skip and a widened grin.
They knocked on the door. “Who is it?” Hagrid called.
“Us,” Ron, Hermione, and Harry chorused, sounding like they were talking to the teacher that had just assigned them extra work.
The door opened, but when Hagrid spotted Amanda, his eyes narrowed.
“What’ya doin’ ‘ere?” the half giant demanded.
“I heard you had a dragon and I want to see it!” Amanda exclaimed with a grin. Hagrid continued staring at her as if he’d find the real reason she was there on her face. She sighed. “No, I’m not going to tell anyone. No, I’m not a spy. And no, I’m not the Dark--er--You-Know-Who. Can you let me in now?”
Hermione gave an exasperated roll of her eyes. “She knows about the Sorcerer’s Stone, Hagrid, just let her in.”
The half-giant gave her one last warning look before ushering them all inside and closing the door quickly.
Amanda felt cozy. The windows were shut, the curtains were covering the windows, and there was a fire going. She hadn’t felt this warm in ages, even with the summer days drawing near.
“Is this where the dragon is?” Amanda asked, and she strode over to the fire. Yep, that’s where it was. A huge black egg nuzzled into the fire.
“Where did you get it?” Ron asked, striding over. “It must have cost you a fortune.”
“Won it,” explained Hagrid. “Last night. I was down in the village havin’ a few drinks an’ got into a game o’ cards with a stranger. Think he was quite glad ter get rid of it, ter be honest.”
Amanada narrowed her eyes as she listened to Hagrid explain how in Merlin’s name he was going to keep a dragon in a wooden house. Amanda, however, found the whole thing suspicious. If the stranger was glad to be rid of it, and he was gambling away something illegal…could he have wanted something?
She was about to say something when Harry asked, “We were wondering if you could tell us what’s guarding the Sorcerer’s Stone aside from Fluffy.”
“I can’t,” Hagrid said.
Amanda rolled her eyes. Did they really think Dumbledore would entrust important information like that to Hagrid? Yes, the half giant was nice and sweet, but he was like Delilah. Secrecy was like a foreign language.
So while Harry continued asking pointless questions, Amanda stared at the egg and the soft flames around it. It was a lot bigger than she had imagined, and smoother, too. Completely entranced, she wondered what the little dragon would look like, how it would act.
“ Snape?” came Ron and Harry’s voices, splitting through her bliss. Amanda gave them a murderous look.
“Yeah—you’re still not on abou’ that, are yeh? Look, Snape helped protect the stone, he’s not about ter steal it,” Hagrid said defensively. Harry, Ron, and Hermione paled, and Amanda quickly put together what they were thinking.
She sighed irritably. “Honestly, you three think you’re such great detectives. As if Snape would need something so material. He only protected the stone because he was asked, not because he needs it.”
“The Sorcerer’s stone can turn anything to gold and prolong your life!” Ron exclaimed. “Who wouldn’t want that?” Amanda gave a laugh.
“Trust me, he does not want to live forever. He can barely stand life as it is,” Amanda said, a dash of sarcasm on her voice.
“So you still think it was Quirrell trying to kill me?” Harry shot at her.
“Well, you tell me. Actually, Hagrid, did Quirrell work on protecting the stone?” Amanda asked.
“Er, well, er, he may ‘ave gave some trolls...” Hagrid sputtered. Amana gestured at Hagrid with a grin.
“And we all know how difficult those are to defeat,” Amanda said pointedly, as if it explained everything. They didn’t say anything, but everything in their looks told her they didn’t believe her. She shrugged. “Just be warned, I’m not afraid to say ‘I told you so.’” Harry glared at her as he did with Draco. Unlike Draco, Amanda stared back just as fiercely.
“You’re the only one who knows how to get past Fluffy, right Hagrid?” Harry said, breaking the staring contest. Amanda was disappointed.
“Not a soul knows but me an’ Dumbledore,” Hagrid said proudly. Amanda rolled her eyes.
I wonder how long that will last, she thought derisively, and went back to watching the flames. Thankfully, for the rest of the conversation, no one mentioned Snape.
As the weeks passed, Amanda stopped by Hagrid’s often enough to quench her need to see the not-yet-hatched dragon, but not so much that the right people started asking the wrong questions. Draco noticed, though. Or rather, he noticed that Harry Potter was frequently over at Hagrid’s.
“I bet Potter and those Gryffindors are up to something,” he said nastily to her one day, a look of a pure loathing on his face as they waded through the river of students toward Transfiguaration.
“And what is it you hope to do when you find out what they’re doing? Tell on them?” Amanda asked, not even looking at him.
“If I can get Potter into trouble, everyone will see what an insufferably arrogant celebrity he’s being, because he obviously thinks he’s above the rules,” Draco muttered.
Amanda sighed, her face scrunching into a sharp glare. “You do remember that the last time you tried to get him expelled? The time I nearly got caught by Filch and eaten by a three-headed dog?” Draco glared at her.
“How was I to know you had gone off to warn Potter?” Draco hissed.
“Common sense? Don’t you remember any of those lessons with Snape? The ones about making the right friends in the right places?” Amanda snapped back.
“How is Potter the right friend?” Draco shouted back.
“He’s the Boy-Who-Lived, Draco,” Amanda said with a tone not too different from Snape’s when he couldn’t believe they weren’t catching on to a certain concept. “How could he not be the right friend? Besides, he is a celebrity—a rich celebrity, considering all of the Potter wealth he inherited—”
Draco stopped dead in his tracks, cutting her off just as she heard Hermione whisper sharply to Harry and Ron, “…and that’s nothing to the trouble Hagrid’s going to be in when someone finds out what he’s doing—”
“Shut up!” Harry hissed.
Amanda roughly grabbed Draco’s arm and pulled him forward.
“I was trying to list—”
“Harry noticed, he doesn’t need to wonder what you found out,” Amanda snapped back, cutting off his whining.
When they were a lot further away from that hallway, she drug him into a classroom that was dark, empty, and muggy. After shutting the door, she allowed herself to meet Draco’s beaming gaze.
“I told you he was up to something!” Draco exclaimed, standing with his chest puffed out.
She crossed her arms and raised her eyebrows. “Oh really? Up to what? And how do you intend to prove it?”
“I bet he’s going up to that oaf’s pitiful excuse for a house during the morning break,” Draco told her. “All I need to do is follow them.” Amanda sighed.
“I’ll do it,” she declared. He narrowed his eyes.
“Why?” he demanded, his volume increasing as it always did when he was angry.
‘Because I want to see a baby dragon.’
“Because you don’t know how to make the right friends in the right places,” she shot back. “And besides, after nearly dying with him, he trusts me more.”
“I wasn’t trying to kill you,” he said at her as he picked up his bag. It was sharp, but soft enough for her to know he wasn’t angry.
“Well you almost did,” Amanda shot back, leading him out of the room and into the river of students.
It had been settled without words: she would go.
So as soon as class was over, Draco gave her a look, and she was off. She made sure once again that no one was watching her before nearly sprinting over to Hagrid’s house, her bag clanking against her uncomfortably as she rushed.
Amanda made it to the door just as Hagrid was ushering Harry and the other two in. When the half-giant caught sight of Amanda, he looked at her suspiciously.
“I didn’ send you eh letter,” he said.
“I overheard Ron and Hermione talking,” Amanda said quickly. “Is it hatching?” She tried to look around him to see the egg, but Hagrid was far too large to do that.
When Hagrid hesitated, as he did every time she came over, she sighed irritably and said, “I’m not evil. I just want to see a real-life dragon, Hagrid. I’ve never gotten to see one before!” She could have sworn something changed in his expression, if only a little.
He stepped aside to let her in and she quickly rushed to the table, where the cracked black egg settled. She could hear a creaking and a scratching. Her heart sped up far faster and her eyes lit up like the fire in the Slytherin common room.
The egg wobbled, there was a loud cracking sound, and then the egg collapsed. A black dragon flopped out, shaky on his legs as he shook his head.
Amanda must have looked like a child at the window of a toy store as the beautiful black hatchling stretched out his long, spindly wings, his orange eyes bright. He sneezed, and sparks came out. Amanda giggled.
“He’s so cute!” she squealed, glancing at a bewildered Ron before saying. “I think it’s a Norwegian Ridgeback, look at its spine!”
“How do you know so much about dragons if you’ve never seen them?” Harry asked.
“I have every book about dragons known to wizard kind. Informational ones, non-fictions, fiction ones—I even got a lawbook one time about certain cases and laws regarding dragons. That one I only read once, though. It was dreadfully boring,” Amanda answered.
The dragon snapped at Hagrid’s fingers, which had Hagrid talking excitedly about how it knew it’s mother. But then it looked at Amanda and made a cute growling noise, tilting its head.
“ Aren’t you just the cutest thing?” Amanda giggled softly in parseltongue, just quiet enough for no one else to really hear her. She was sure the baby dragon had no clue what she was saying—dragons didn’t understand Parseltongue, of course—but it must have liked the sound of the language, because it squealed and flapped its wings at her as if it were excited.
“I think he likes me,” Amanda declared, carefully letting it sniff her hand. It tried to snap at her fingers too, but a very animalistic hiss made him shrink a little, and then let her pet him. He rubbed on her hand quite like a cat, and the noise it made while she scratched it was far too similar to a purr.
Just then Hagrid rushed to the window.
“What is it?” Harry asked.
“Someone was lookin’ through the gap in the curtains—it’s a kid—he’s runnin’ back up ter the school,” Hagrid answered.
Harry rushed to the door with Ron and Hermione on his heels.
“Malfoy!” Ron shouted, almost as if he were cursing. Amanda tensed as the red head whirled around and glared at her. “What did you tell him?”
“Well after you three loud mouths nearly blew it this morning, I convinced him to let me find out what you were all up to instead of him,” Amanda explained dryly. “You’re welcome.”
“You’re welcome?” Harry shouted, his green eyes lighting up beautifully with anger. “You were going to tell him all along, weren’t you? You just used your “love of dragons” as an excuse to be Malfoy’s spy!”
“I am no one’s spy!” Amanda hissed, narrowing her eyes. “Least of all Draco’s. And for the record all I was going to do was tell him I saw you go in, have some tea, and leave. It’s not my fault the idiot didn’t listen to me.”
“What do we do now?” Hermione asked. “If Malfoy goes to Snape or Dumbledore—”
“He won’t,” Amanda said, standing up.
“I suppose you are going to tell him not to?” Harry asked coldly.
“Well that,” Amanda said, grinning, “and I’m going to threaten him. You’d be surprised how scared he gets when I tell him I’m going to tell his father about what he’s been up to.”
Ron stood up like a dog squaring up for a fight. “As if his father talk you. You’re half-blood!”
Amanda gave him a wicked smile. “Come on, Ron, you heard me speaking Parseltongue right in front of you. Don’t you think that would be at least a little important to a mostly Slytherin population?”
Ron seemed to have the need to think about that one a little bit.
“Anyway, I’m going to catch that prat before he makes it to Snape. See you, baby dragon!”
After a wave to the newborn dragon, she skipped out of Hagrid’s hut and rushed across the grounds after Draco. Amanda knew he wouldn’t go straight to Snape—he was too Slytherin for that. But then again he had ignored her order, and that was very unlike him, so who knew what he would do?
Draco had conceded, eventually.
Amanda visited Hagrid’s hut even more after it was born. She met Harry, Ron, and Hermione there a few times as they discussed what to do, but she hardly listened. Norbert (the name Hagrid had given the dragon), after all, had taken to her, rubbing up against her hand whenever she came over before intently listening to her parseltongue. According to Harry, it was the only time the little baby was not snapping at someone or trying to set something on fire.
And then the shoe dropped: Harry had convinced Charlie Weasley to take her new friend away.
“You can’t!” she cried, startling Norbert.
“We have to,” Harry told her, standing firm. “Hagrid will get into trouble otherwise.”
“I’ve been training her!” Amanda tried. “She knows not to use fire and she hardly snaps at anyone anymore!” ‘Training’ was the wrong word. It was more like correction followed by coaxing followed by petting. And yes, Amanda knew it was a female dragon. She had told Harry, Ron, and Hermione as such but neither of them had decided to correct Hagrid.
“She’ll get bigger,” Hermione pointed out. “Sooner or later someone is going to notice.”
Amanda had continued to argue, of course, but she accepted it in the end. Better Norbert be taken to Romania than caught by the Ministry and killed, as she had heard was the fate of many unruly “monsters.”
She said a good-bye to Norbert that day, and then refused to go and see her. Not even when Harry came up to her and asked, “Perhaps you could help take her up to the tower? She would follow you. It would certainly be easier than carrying her up.”
Not that she wasn’t interested, of course. Harry meant adventure. But she knew if she saw Norbert again she wouldn’t want to leave her, and the hurt in her heart would be twice as painful. Her decision not to go turned out to be a good thing, though, as Theo, who had barely spoken in weeks, told her one day after class, “Draco’s planning something that has to do with Potter. Whatever you do tonight, don’t be next to him.”
The day after Norbert’s supposed departure, completely depressed as she thought about the baby dragon being harnessed and carried through the night, she passed the hourglasses recording the points on her way to potions. She couldn’t help but stare when she saw 150 points were missing from Gryffindor. Just what had happened the night before?
There were also other facts that started flooding her mind. If they had been caught, which seemed the only reason 150 would be taken, that obviously meant they left the Invisibility Cloak somewhere, didn’t it? Springing like a fawn, Amanda retraced the planned route Harry had told her about, momentarily forgetting her loss.
For the longest while, she started to lose hope. There were so many stairs. She also considered that it could have been invisible, which meant she would never find it. But then, after sneaking in to the astronomy tower, she found it.
Amanda snatched it with glee, stuffed it in her bag, and hopped down the tower and back toward the dungeons.
She would be late for Potions, but did it really matter? Harry conveniently made it so no house other than Slytherin was even close to winning the House Cup, and now she had his invisibility cloak. What could possibly be better?
Draco was officially an idiot.
Amanda learned this after Potions class, at the beginning of her special lessons with Snape, when the potions master stared straight at Draco and asked, “Did you at least aim to do something intelligent last night or was being played a fool your sole intention?”
As the lecture commenced, Amanda realized Draco had ignored her warnings and threats again in an attempt to catch Harry in the wrong and instead was caught himself, costing Slytherin twenty points. The nerve of him! She got her revenge a few minutes later when Draco asked her to back him up on the fact Hagrid had been keeping a dragon. She promptly told Snape she had no idea what he was talking about.
The lessons were a lot easier because of Draco, though. Draco had problems with some of the more obscure lineages (he had an attention issue, particularly when he was embarrassed or angry), so when Snape specifically focused on that to punish Draco, she really didn’t have to pay attention at all.
Afterword, she skipped on down to the Chamber of Secrets, greeting Bozhidar with a smile before diving straight into the story of what had happened in the last few days.
“ I see,” Bozhidar said when she finished, his voice a pleasant hum. He was amused. “ You are proud, then, of avoiding punishment?”
Amanda nodded. “ 50 points taken and detention sounds absolutely horrible. I still wish the baby dragon wasn’t gone, but I guess it’s for the best.” She shrugged at the end of her sentence, kicking at a loose rock as she remembered how cute Norbert looked when she was curled up sleeping, her tail wrapping itself around her.
“ I am glad I am no longer being replaced by an unintelligent runt,” the basilisk told her, a hint of jealousy in his voice. She smirked.
“ Dragons are pretty intelligent,” she pointed out, if only to hear that shift of tensing muscles. A dark sound escaped him, telling her she’d hit her mark. Making things angry was so much fun.
“ Not at that age. And they are far too proud for what little they have to do just because they can breathe fire,” the giant snake sneered. “ I am a far more venerable beast. Humans can’t even look into my eyes without dying.”
She grinned at his irritation.
“But you can ride a dragon,” she pointed out.
“Hmph. And die in the process ?” he asked curtly. She shrugged again.
“I bet if you spend enough time with one they would let you,” Amanda told him. She remembered all the dragon books she had bought, been gifted, and read. She probably knew all there was to know about dragons from books.
The amused hum came from Bozhidar again. “You are quite attracted to them, aren’t you?” She nodded, absently rummaging through all of her memories of the books and all the figurines she had gotten for her birthday and Christmas.
“That’s what I want to be when I grow up,” she declared. “A dragon tamer.” She had wanted this for as long as she could remember. She remembered playing “Dragon Tamer” with her sisters, where Audrey and Delilah would shift into their forms and pretend to be dragons while she pretended to be a tamer and proceed to tame both of them (not to say she never played the dragon. Usually that was when the dragon won an important battle, though). She remembered one of her birthdays being a complete dragon tamer theme.
Not that there was such thing as a dragon tamer , of course. The closest thing was what Ron’s brother Charlie did: research and care. But she didn’t just want to care for them. She wanted to befriend them. Become equals, so she could learn from them. A species that old must have had amazing things to share. Plus, dragons.
The basilisk chuckled. “ Ironic.”
“ Why?” she asked, back in the land of reality. But he didn’t answer, and Amanda had long since realized arguing or trying to pull the information out was worthless. He would never budge.
“ So how does an ignorant half-giant come across a dragon as rare as that?” Bozhidar asked.
“ Hagrid was just down at the local pub, and some man put it out when they were playing cards,” she said, shrugging.
The basilisk shifted nervously as he asked, “ Is that not suspicious to you? Hagrid holds many secrets.”
“How would the stranger know that? All he would be able to glean from Hagrid’s love of dragons is his love for extremely dangerous pets—”
“ Fluffy,” was all she said, her shoulders falling. How had she not realized this before?
“ If an enemy were to know what they were looking for, getting the half-giant to speak would not have been hard,” Bozhidar confirmed. “ Even how to get past the three-headed mongrel.”
“ But if Quirrell or whoever wants the stone already knows how to get past Fluffy, then why doesn’t he already have the stone?” Amanda asked.
“ There are other tests the enemy may not know how to get past. There may be a certain teacher who is watching him and preventing him—the Headmaster, also. Though, I can’t help but remember just who, out of your little group, knew how to calm the three-headed dog first.”
“ Delilah,” she breathed, her eyes widening. She had nearly forgotten that her sister was seeing Fluffy on a daily basis. “ Do you think she’s in danger?”
“No, the professors are keeping a sharp eye on her,” Bozhidar told her.
“ They are?” she asked, but started going back through her memories. It was obvious. Everywhere she went there was a teacher close behind. Down the Charms hall, Flitwick followed her a few feet behind pretending to read as her sister walked. While she walked back to the common room with Cedric, Sprout was following with a plant in hand. She had even seen Snape glaring at her down the hallways, particularly when she was headed from Defense Against the Dark Arts.
So she asked, “ Do they know why she’s being targeted?”
“I cannot know for sure,” the basilisk told her, “ but I believe they were alerted when they saw the fake letter on Halloween.”
Amanda’s mind was spinning. Out of the three of them, Delilah had seemed like she was leading the most normal school year. But if this were all true and the enemy was being hindered by her, she was right in the line of fire.
“ Should I tell her ?” Amanda asked. Then she shook her head. “ No. That would worry her. And if she knows all that I know, she could be even more of a target.”
Bozhidar gave his amused hum. “You will become a grand Slytherin Queen one day, Arisio.”
Chapter 13: Blackmailed Into the Black Forest
Audrey glided down the corridor toward the owlery with several large books in her hand. Only one had to do with her father’s list. The others were library books--studying tools. Exams were coming up, after all, and she was still managing fourth behind Theo, Hermione and Terry Boot. Her goal: third place behind whoever wanted to be second and first.
Still, she was going to the owlery in a most likely futile attempt to get more information from her father. Audrey knew it would be worthless. At best, sending the list meant he was sparing her enough attention to test her, hence only giving her a list. At worst (and the more probable reason), he had sent the list to keep her from writing him back. She knew this, yet he seemed to be the only one willing to help her who knew anything about the dying unicorn considering the teachers refused to say a word. She was ready to try anything to get that information, even if she was just wasting her time.
She stopped dead when she heard a strong, arrogant version of Quirrell’s voice through one of the empty classroom doors.
“…I don’t know what you mean—”
“Unlikely. I have personally spoken to all of the professors. Severus seems convinced.” The voice was vaguely familiar. A teacher for one of the elective courses, probably. It was adult and male, for sure. Audrey made herself look as normal as possible as she slowed down and opened a book.
“Trusting Death Eaters now, are you?” Quirrell snapped.
“Stop pretending you aren’t one,” the other teacher growled with irritation thick in his voice. “Did you think I met with you to be lied to?”
“I think you came to play the hero,” Quirrell spat out. “To get credit for something you don’t deserve. But it won’t work this time . This is my place, my purpose, and nothing you say or do or threaten will change my mind.”
Audrey tensed. These two teachers had history. A very dark history.
“Oh? I know a few things about you, Quirrell, that could have you sent to trial in an instant.”
“None of which you could prove or I would have already been arrested,” Quirrell sneered. It sounded like Amanda when she was in her particularly irksome ‘I-will-make-everyone-around me-as-angry-as-I-am’ moods.
Speak of the devil. Audrey’s Slytherin sister swung in front of her with a smile of a pleasant surprise.
“Hello, Amanda.” Her voice sounded distant with all the thoughts storming in her head. She tried to listen on the teachers, but Amanda interrupted.
“Where are you headed?” her long-haired sister asked.
“Oh, er, the library. I was going to drop a letter to Gran off at the owlery, though,” Audrey answered. A part of her hated how easily she could slip a lie like that in, but the last thing she wanted was Amanda telling her how stupid her plan was. Though, at the same time, she was a bit proud of herself when Amanda didn’t recognize her fib.
“I’m going to the library too! Potions essays are impossible. Want to go together?” she asked. Audrey tilted her head. What had made her sister so happy?
“Sure,” Audrey spoke, and off they went.
As usual, Audrey’s owl was gone, so she had to use a school owl that looked quick and strong enough to handle the longer distances considering, for all Audrey knew, her father could have been on the other side of the world.
Then she followed Amanda to the library, where she instantly told her sister about what she had overheard. Amanda, however, didn’t seem concerned.
“We already know Quirrell’s trying to frame Snape for something. At least someone else realized he’s evil too.”
“But what about the other teacher? He sounded ready to murder Quirrell,” Audrey murmured.
“Good!” Amanda exclaimed. She sighed when Audrey stared at her. “What? It sounded like it was about getting the Defense Against the Dark Arts job. Which, good luck, by the way. Snape has been here much longer and deserves it much more.”
Audrey nodded. Perhaps it was just a heated argument. She did tend to let her imagination run away with her sometimes. She shook her head and shifted her books, trying to find the one that she needed to study with. Amanda rolled her eyes when she saw the book about unicorns.
“How many books are you going to have to read before you give up?” Amanda asked.
“As many as it takes for me to figure out what’s going on,” Audrey told her. “One of the books Elena helped me get mentioned something about their blood, but, it was not particularly clear on what the blood of a unicorn does.”
“Why don’t you just sneak into the forest?” Amanda asked, opening up her Potions book. “You could probably find out a lot more by actually poking around.”
“Like Harry? I’d rather not cost my house 150 points and serve detention while every student at Hogwarts is talking about me,” Audrey whispered heatedly. She wasn’t about to admit the more important reasons to avoid the Forbidden Forest: it was against the rules and scarier than any forest Audrey had been in. Who knew what was lurking beneath those trees?
“That’s it!” Amanda exclaimed, causing Audrey to jump, startled. Her poison green eyes were shimmering.
“What?” Audrey demanded as her sister beamed at her like she had just invented a new potion to cure all magical diseases.
“Harry and the rest of them have detention tonight in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid! You could sneak in with them and look for the unicorns!” Audrey swallowed. A teacher certainly made it seem safer…
She shook that thought out of her head. “Amanda, I can’t exactly sneak in. I think Hagrid would notice if he’s got an extra student with him.” Amanda grinned a mischievous grin that rivaled the Weasley twins’.
“Not if you use an Invisibility Cloak,” she declared. Audrey raised her eyebrows.
“And I suppose you have one?”
“Sure do! It’s under my bed at the moment,” Amanda told her. Audrey’s jaw dropped, forcing Amanda’s grin to widen. “When Harry was caught I knew he must have forgotten it. So, knowing where he was going, I just retracted his steps and decided to borrow it. You know, for safekeeping.” The look of prideful glee told Audrey it was definitely not for safekeeping.
“I am not using a stolen Invisibility Cloak to sneak into detention in the middle of the night to go into a very forbidden forest where I will most likely get eaten alive,” Audrey hissed, running out of air at the end.
“HA! I knew it!”
There was a flash of ginger, and suddenly they were face to face with a Weasley. A Ronald Weasley. Amanda’s face flipped to a sharp scowl as the redhead pointed his finger at her.
“Knew what, Weasley?” Amanda asked. She seemed more concerned with trying to make Ron explode through her glare than the actual answer.
“That you stole the Invisibility Cloak!” he shouted. He received a sharp “shh!” from a student a few tables down. Ron didn’t even spare the student a glance.
“Harry was the idiot who left it,” Amanda blithely pointed out.
Ron grew redder. “I’m going to tell him!”
“Alright. Let me know if you two come up with a way to steal it back.”
Amanda’s grin returned as Ron stood before her, his fury rendering him speechless. Audrey rolled her eyes. Amanda enjoyed pushing everyone’s buttons, particularly those biased against Slytherin. Audrey let it go on for a little while, then she sighed.
“Harry could go to Dumbledore!” Ron declared, cutting off Audrey’s warning.
Amanda gave a laugh as she said, “And tell him what? ‘I accidentally left my Invisibility Cloak up in the astronomy tower before I got detention?’ I don’t know if Dumbledore would really like Harry to have a way to continue sneaking around.”
“You were sneaking around too!” the Gryffindor sneered. “You could have kept them from getting detention!”
Amanda opened her mouth to defend herself right as the librarian rounded the corner like a bull, shouting under her breath, “Alright, out with you! I will have no shouting in my library!”
Amanda grinned with pride as the lady shooed Ron off. Then the librarian turned on her, and her smile disappeared.
“I heard you too!” the librarian hissed, and she pointed toward the door.
“But he was harassing me!” Amanda claimed with a fake tearfulness clinging to her voice.
“It sounded like a fight to me,” the librarian growled, and Amanda’s shoulders fell. As she got up to collect her things, Audrey followed suit. The librarian shook her head. “ You don’t have to leave, dear. I heard no words from you.” Audrey glanced at Amanda, who bore a rare, pleading look. The Ravenclaw sat back down, mouthing a quick ‘sorry’ to her sister. Amanda, rolled her eyes in frustration and stomped away, obviously irked.
Audrey felt bad for her. She really did want to spend the afternoon with Amanda. Yet, she needed to study if she was going to get third, and she needed to get third.
Later the next day, once again on her way to the library, she ran into another one of her problems: Elena. She had tried hard to ignore her discovery, but how could she? Elena had lied to all of them and, though it made no sense whatsoever, the younger Ravenclaw could not help but feel it was her older sister’s fault that Audrey had found out she was a Slytherin Heir.
A Slytherin Heir. Audrey could still only barely believe it. It was one thing to be a Slytherin. Audrey didn’t mind them unless they were being arrogant and antagonistic. But being a Slytherin Heir was a whole different category. He was a founder , and she was related to him.
Audrey, with great mental difficulty, pushed those thoughts aside as her oldest sister strode forward. Audrey was frozen. Usually, this was the moment where she found an excuse to be elsewhere, away from Elena. But something kept her rooted.
“Here,” her older sister said, handing her a golden chain with a gold, dragon coin attached. Audrey gasped, remembering she had given her sister the little dragon present over Christmas break.
“Wow, Elena, I forgot all about this!” Audrey exclaimed, examining the coin closer. There were intricate symbols and other objects carved into the metal, but it was the dragon that drew her attention. Instead of a poorly painted toy, it looked regal. Powerful, even.
Elena nodded. “I had it done a few months ago, but…”
Remembering what happened a few months ago, Audrey gave a weak, hopefully inspiring smile. It probably failed. She didn’t know what else to do, though. Their aunt—and Elena’s adoptive mother for the past several years—had died, and judging by Elena’s pale face and dark eyes, she was still not over it.
“I found some protective spells on it,” Elena told her, straightening herself as if in an attempt to look better than she did.
“Protective spells?” Audrey asked. Perhaps it wasn’t useless. She put it over her head, letting it rest around her neck. It was cold, and other than the weight of the coin on her chest, she didn’t feel any different. Elena shrugged when she caught her expression.
“See you later,” she said, her voice soft. She started to walk around her, down the hall.
“Wait!” Audrey said before her brain told her why she was telling Elena to wait. When it did, and Elena turned, she hesitated. Her older sister was already not in the best of moods. Audrey grew nervous as Elena gazed at her.
“Oh, er, nevermind, I forgot,” she lied quickly. Elena gave her a look that said ‘do I look that dumb to you?’
“What is it?” she asked. The tone she used made Audrey certain she wasn’t going to accept another lie. Not that she could come up with a good one anyway.
She took a few steps closer and said as quietly as she could, “Are you the Slytherin Heir?”
Elena tensed, and Audrey prepared herself for very harsh words. Yet, she only said, “No.” Then she spun around gracefully and started back down the corridor. Audrey stared. And stared. And stared.
She tried to sort through what she knew to try to make sense of the answer. Arisio was the name that was connected with Slytherin. Elena was an Arisio no matter who her father was.
Audrey’s shoulders fell as she realized what must have happened. No wonder Elena had answered so coldly.
“I knew there was something strange about your family!”
Audrey’s heart stopped. She turned, stiff as a board, to see none other than Ronald Weasley standing in front of her. There was a grin akin to Draco’s on his face.
“You’re all related to Slytherin! No wonder you’re always with them,” Ron said icily. Audrey was far too deep in her own thoughts to hear that comment. He knew. Ron Weasley knew about their relation to Slytherin, and he was sure to tell anyone who would listen.
“Ron, please don’t tell anyone,” Audrey said, finding her voice. It was weak, but she managed.
“Give me the Invisibility Cloak,” Ron told her. Audrey sighed. He chose now to blackmail like a Slytherin?
“I can’t get the cloak unless I say I’m going to the Forbidden Forest,” she said quietly, hoping the passing students didn’t hear her.
Ron blinked dumbly. “Aren’t you?”
“No, that’s against the rules,” Audrey said, her eyes narrowed in confusion. “Why? What was your plan?” He looked sheepish then.
“Well, er, I thought you were going to the Forbidden Forest, so I thought I would force you to let me go and then give me the cloak.”
“Why do you want to go into the forest?” Audrey asked, completely bewildered. Ron’s face changed from dumbfounded blankness to fierce determination that nearly knocked Audrey off her feet.
“I heard what you and Amanda were talking about. There’s something dangerous in that forest, isn’t there? And Harry and Hermione are going straight for it.”
“You want to protect them? Why not just warn them now?” Audrey asked, subconsciously applauding the Weasley on his eavesdropping skills.
Ron’s shoulders fell and he sighed. “I tried, but they won’t listen. They’re both still horribly upset about getting detention.” Audrey’s face relaxed as she nodded.
“So that’s why you’ve been sneaking around. Harry and Hermione don’t care about Snape anymore,” Audrey said. Ron narrowed his eyes.
“Amanda told you, didn’t she?” he said, the harsh edge creeping back into his voice.
Audrey held up her hands and told him, “I only know what happened at the Quidditch match. Amanda won’t to tell me anything about what got Harry and Hermione into trouble.” It was rather irritating, actually, that her Slytherin sister refused to even give her hints. Audrey supposed it was important and dangerous, and that was why Amanda didn’t tell her.
“I’ll tell everyone,” Ron said, though not nearly with as much conviction as before. “I’ll tell everyone about you being Slytherins if you don’t take me to the Forbidden Forest and give me the cloak.” Audrey gave her most pathetic look to the Gryffindor.
“Can’t I just give you the cloak and be done with it?” Audrey whined. She huffed right after, though. “ No, I can’t, because Amanda would see right through my lie and then force me to tell her everything.” She glared at Ron. “How come everyone who gets near you and Harry end up breaking the rules?” Ron gleamed, taking the question as a badge of pride.
“Come on, Audrey. Where’s your sense of adventure?” he said. “Let’s talk later about a plan.” Then he turned and nearly skipped away, his chest puffed out like the lion he was.
Truth was, there was a part of Audrey that really did want to go on this adventure. A small part, one that totally ignored the voice screaming in her head: “WARNING: BAD IDEA!” and then the million reasons why it was a bad idea. She was breaking the rules, there were scary monsters, she could get detention, she could get expelled, there could be a vampire or a boggart or snakes or flesh-eating trees…
She stood up, shaking those spiraling thoughts out of her head. She wouldn’t follow that voice. She was going to follow the voice that instead said, “Find out what is killing the unicorns!” It was only followed by all of the possibilities and strange ways the unicorns could thank her. That made her smile, and when she wandered back toward the library, she began daydreaming about magical things rather than scary things, for once.
That magical fantasizing lasted, perhaps, a day. Then the reality of what she had agreed to hit her: she was going to be breaking several major rules in one night, and she was doing it by choice.
It had happened too fast for her to back out, though. Amanda gave her the cloak during a class they had together, and it stayed in Audrey’s bag until she went back to her dormitory and hid it under her bed. Then, the next day, Ron found her and told her his plan. It was a weak plan, but a plan nonetheless.
And then, the day of, all Audrey could think about were each of the rules she’d be breaking, and every possible scenario Ron’s plan would fail. Before she knew it, it was time to sneak out of bed, grab the cloak, and tiptoe out of the dormitory, through the common room, and down the tower’s long winding steps.
Audrey was very thankful for her good hearing. She knew she was invisible, but her heart was still pounding and she twitched at every sound. Knowing how far away those sounds were helped her get down the towers to meet Ron, who was red with some mix of worry and anger.
“You’re late! They’re already over to Hagrid’s!” he shouted. He somehow managed to be quiet while he did it.
“Well, I’m being careful!” Audrey said to her defense.
“You have the invisibility cloak! Who could possibly catch you?” he told her, with infuriating logic.
“Oh, just come on before we lose them!” Audrey hissed.
As Ron got under the cloak with her, she played with the idea of going back to her dormitory. She knew it was possible. Ron could go into the forest and get himself killed and she would be in bed, sound asleep.
‘ Except,’ she thought, ‘I won’t, because I’ll be wondering about what would have happened if I’d gone, and I’d be very disappointed in missing an opportunity to study the unicorns.’ She sighed. There was no way of getting around this.
Unfortunately, by the time they were on the Hogwarts grounds, it was silent and still. Hagrid had apparently already lead them into the forest.
“Now what do we do?” Ron asked. Audrey ignored him and lead him to the edge of the forest. Her flight instincts were creeping into her mind, telling her going in would lead to certain death.
“Look!” Ron said, pointing at the ground. There was a shimmering splotch on the ground; silver liquid—definitely unicorn blood. She bent down, shoving the Invisibility Cloak off of her as she examined it.
“There’s a trail,” she noted, standing back up again. “It must be hurt. That must be what Hagrid has sent them after.”
“Why are unicorns so important?” Ron asked. Audrey narrowed her eyes, glancing at him.
“How do you know about the unicorns?” she asked.
“You said something about unicorn’s blood in the library,” he told her. She rolled her eyes. She would have to warn Amanda and Delilah to be more careful about where they spoke about Jessica’s condition.
“I heard one die one day, and none of the teachers are telling me what killed it even though I know they know,” Audrey answered. Ron seemed to contemplate this.
“Let’s follow it,” Ron said firmly, as if his words made it law.
“Do you even care that there are more than a hundred kinds of magical creatures in that forest waiting to eat us?” Audrey asked. As if to prove her point, a loud howl seeped through the air. Or was it the wind? She gave a glance up to the moon. It was half covered in clouds, but she could tell it wasn’t full, thank Merlin.
“Harry’s in there too,” Ron huffed. Audrey shook her head as she lifted the cloak over her head.
“Just try not to be a Gryffindor and get us killed, okay?” Audrey said. Ron looked genuinely confused.
“What d’you mean?” he asked. She ignored him again and casted Lumos. Then they went on walking.
They went in silence. Except, there wasn’t silence. Audrey could hear every snap of a twig, every shuffle of leaves, each whisper of the wind. It made her jump each time, much to Ron’s displeasure. The clouds also didn’t help when they creeped over the moon, plunging the forest further into darkness. The trees loomed over them like black, silhouetted hands waiting to snatch them up. Audrey tried to ignore it all.
There was one sound in particular that had her tense up every time she heard it. There were footsteps. Heavy footsteps. Hearing them made her cough as if the mist were putting pound after pound of pressure on her lungs.
“The trail,” Ron gasped, pointing down at the blood that sparkled under the light being emitted from Audrey’s wand. “It splits!”
“It must have been thrashing around,” Audrey explained.
“But it goes in two different ways! How do we know which one Harry and Hermione went down?” Ron asked. Audrey bent down again, seeing shoeprints. She had seen a few on the way over, but it was rather hard through all the mist and the mud to follow them.
Still, she saw what was unmistakably Hagrid’s big bootprint. Two smaller prints followed him, while the two others went the other way, followed by gigantic pawprints. Audrey hoped that meant Hagrid owned a dog.
“Hagrid and two of them went that way. Two others went that way,” Audrey told him, pointing to illustrate. She suddenly wished she had Delilah’s scenting abilities. She pointed to where Hagrid didn’t go. “I say we go that way. Knowing how scared Draco is of forests, he would demand to go with Hagrid. And knowing how much those two hate each other, Harry would go the other way.”
Ron nodded. “Harry would have been brave and volunteered to go without Hagrid.”
Audrey doubted anyone could be that brave in this cold, black forest, but she refrained from telling the ginger Gryffindor that.
“Come on,” was all she said before following the two tracks with the dog prints.
Audrey was very thankful for the full moons she had spent in the forest with her sisters. She was better able to navigate the dark roots sticking up out of the ground and the thorny vines that wove through the undergrowth like traps. It certainly made things faster, and she knew she was calmer considering she was able to decipher what was normal night-forest sounds and what was not.
And then she heard something that definitely did not belong in a normal, magic-free forest.
“Ron!” she hissed breathlessly, grabbing his wrist as she shook.
“What?” he asked irritably. “If we stop now we might not catch up with Harry and—”
She dove to the ground, pulling him down with her as something zipped over their head, sharp as a needle. The heavy footsteps surrounded them on one side, and there was the quick creature. The one she could only see out of the corner of her eye.
“ Kill the traitor! Kill the False Master!”
‘Not human!’ Audrey’s brain shouted at her. A million suggestions went through head on avoiding death: running, using a spell from her very limited knowledge, running, charging at it, running, or perhaps running—
“Grab the cloak and hold on,” Audrey said, shoving her wand in the pocket of her robes.
Red sparks flew into the sky. The creatures attacked. Audrey grabbed his arm and hauled him over her back. She stood, transforming in between the motion. Once she felt all four of her legs on the ground, she took off at a gallop, becoming nothing but a gray streak among the blackness of the forest.
Trees zoomed by in a blink. Rocks shifted beneath her, bramble blocked her way, and trees clustered together, but she still ran. Even when she realized Ron was shouting, she didn’t stop. She was putting as much distance as she could between those monsters and her.
Audrey’s depth perception failed her. She leaped and her hooves fell several feet further than she thought they would. She flailed, trying to find solid ground, and somewhere in her blind panic she realized she was falling. Audrey forced herself to shift. She landed on Ron with a thud. Thankfully, she was in human form.
Ron groaned. Audrey, thanks to the forced shift, felt like she had a sunburn all over her body. She sat up, her dark hair matted and tangled around her as a sharp pain shot through her shoulder. ‘Please don’t be broken. Please don’t be broken,’ she begged. The last thing she needed was to explain this nightmare to Madam Pomfrey.
“What,” said Ron, “was that?” His voice was raw and shaky. How loud had he yelled? What had heard him?
“Those things were going to kill us,” Audrey told him. It was easier than explaining it to him.
“But you—you turned into a horse!” Ron exclaimed. He looked at her like she was a stranger.
Audrey swallowed. She didn’t want to say anything. Her mind was still sorting through other things like how in Merlin’s name she was going to get out of the forest alive. Besides, if Ron told anyone—
“Don’t tell anyone!” she begged him. The familiarity of the situation dawned on her for only a second. “Please, Ron! No one can know I can do that, not even Harry and especially anyone else! This is a very important secret! Please, I’ll—I’ll do your potions homework for a year!”
“What is it that you even do?” Ron asked, the shock being replaced by curiosity and amazement. “Dad said turning into an animal is difficult magic!” Audrey nodded, the adrenaline keeping her thoughts muddled and her muscles from hurting. As each second went by, however, the fall’s damage became more and more apparent.
“It’s some rare family curse, I don’t know,” Audrey told him swiftly. “Listen Ron, you can’t tell anyone. Not the teachers—not even my sisters.”
“They’re normal?” Ron asked. Audrey nodded again.
“Yes,” Audrey said, thanking Merlin her lie worked on him. She didn’t even know why she was lying. Why didn’t she want her sisters to know that Ron knew? ‘Oh, that’s right,’ she thought, ‘Elena would be very disappointed and Amanda would never let me forget it.’ “It’s just me.”
Ron was quiet for a few moments. He seemed to have accepted it all. Then he said, “What did you mean by doing my potions homework?”
Audrey rolled her eyes and scrambled to her feet. She was muddy and covered in leaves, but other than a sore shoulder she seemed fine. Ron got up too, brushing himself off. He looked okay.
“Sorry for falling on you,” Audrey said. Ron shrugged. Then his eyes zeroed in on something behind her.
“Look! Unicorn blood!” he exclaimed, pointing. Audrey spun, seeing the shimmering substance pooled just a few feet away. It was fresher. Her eyes darted around, and she found a smear on a tree not far away.
She jogged forward, her wand now firmly in her hand as she followed the smeared undergrowth. Faintly, she started to hear labored breathing. Her heart sped up. They were getting close.
“Ron!” she gasped as she saw it. There it was. A pure white against the black, laying there. It gave a weak whinny, and Audrey sprinted over to its side.
The stallion was alive. She knelt beside him, resting her hands gently on his side. He was covered in his own blood, staining the pure white silver. Audrey heard how weak his breaths were and her heart fell. He had minutes at most.
The creature stirred, giving out a sharp cry when he saw her.
“Shh! Don’t move—I’m not going to hurt you, I promise!” she said, raising her hands in an attempt to calm the creature. Her gaze snapped to Ron. “Do you know any warming charms?” It was a stupid question. Not even she knew any.
“Er, no—Flitwick said those were second year spells,” Ron said quickly. He looked uncomfortable. She ignored him and went back to the unicorn, who was eying her.
“It’s okay,” she said in her most soothing voice. She let her hand rest on his shoulder again, petting him softly. Tears sprang to her eyes as she said, “I’ll stay with you. I’ll stay with you.”
The unicorn seemed to relax upon hearing those words. She spoke to him softly about how beautiful and handsome he was, all while stroking him as gently as she could.
Audrey didn’t know how long it was before she noticed the creature was no longer breathing. She sat up from her bent over position and stared down the still unicorn with heavy eyes.
“He was young, you know,” Audrey told Ron, her voice a mere whisper. "He had just turned white and his horn had just grown in.” As Ron remained quiet, she realized she had no idea how she knew that.
A few moments later the Gryffindor beside her said, “We need to look for Harry.” Audrey nodded and stood up, her eyes still on the lifeless creature.
There was a slithering sound, and Audrey gasped, spinning around as her eyes darted to find the source of it. Her panic was deceiving her—the slithering seemed to be coming from everywhere.
There was a flash of blackness. A cold hand clamped around her neck and shoved her back up against a tree. Audrey clawed at the hand, her vision slowly revealing what was pinning her.
Pure evil. Hooded, yes, but she could see the silver blood staining the cloak, and the dry, gray skin. She could see sharp eyes of hatred and hunger. The rest was concealed under the darkness of his hood, yet she knew she was facing what could only be described as death.
She heard a scream—Draco? The hooded figure dropped her, and as she gasped to regain the breath she lost, the monster glided swiftly to the other side of the clearing.
Audrey felt the Invisibility Cloak over her shoulders.
“Are you alright?” Ron asked quickly. Audrey couldn’t answer. She couldn’t think. She had just been inches from death.
Audrey was vaguely aware of a centaur and Harry’s voice from not too far away. She hardly remembered anything else, though. Flashes of Ron practically dragging her through the forest. Of meeting Hagrid, Hermione, and the others (under the Invisibility Cloak, of course). She recognized the Hogwarts halls and the corridors leading up to Ravenclaw Tower. She sort of heard Ron saying a quick goodbye after leading her up to the common room door.
Somehow, she managed to get into the common room and into her dormitory. She slept uneasily, and found herself wide awake far too early in the morning. For the longest time, she just stared upward, going through what she had seen. The forest, the unicorn’s death, the monster…
Finally, being the early bird Audrey was, she couldn’t take it. She got out of bed and went to the common room, sitting in front of the fire with her homework in her lap. Yet, even this act was futile. Her brain kept circling back to the unicorn, the monster, and the question she wished hadn’t been answered.
It was no surprise when Elena sat next to her.
“What’s wrong, Audrey?” She sounded so normal, like this was a casual question. Audrey gripped the book she was holding, reminding herself Elena didn’t know what she had seen in the forest.
“It’s…” Audrey had every intention of answering. Then she remembered just how far against the rules she’d been last night. She sighed, muttering, “Nothing.”
Elena’s expression went from contentment to concern. “It doesn’t look like nothing.” When Audrey gave no further indication she was going to respond, Elena went on to ask, “Did you find out something about the unicorns?”
Audrey couldn’t help but nod as she remembered the innocent creature slowly slipping away from underneath her hand. That feeling of hopelessness and emptiness wouldn’t leave her chest. Neither would the panic and the icy sensation of being strangled. Audrey’s hand went to her neck subconsciously as she remembered the experience.
Elena scooted just an inch closer. Audrey threw her book to the side and hugged her older sister. It was impulsive and childish, but she didn’t care. When Elena hugged her back after only a moment’s hesitation, she felt safe for the first time in hours. Safe, protected, and above all, understood.
“I went to the Forbidden Forest last night,” Audrey blurted. She didn’t make any move to take the words back, though.
“Did you find the unicorns?” Elena asked. There was no judgement in her voice, just a search for understanding. Audrey nodded.
“He…he was dying, and I stayed with him. I didn’t want him to die alone. But then that—that thing came.” Audrey’s voice caught in her throat.
“Do you know what it was?” Elena asked, her voice careful. Audrey was thankful for her consideration. It made her feel all the more safe.
“It was human, but it…wasn’t,” was all Audrey could say.
“Did one of your books tell you what unicorn blood does?” Elena asked. Audrey shook her head, letting her older sister go so she could look at her. “I found out only a few days ago: it curses anyone who drinks it.”
“So that was a…a cursed human?” Audrey asked. Elena nodded.
“It’s good you are okay. And you shouldn’t worry about it coming here,” Elena told her. “Hogwarts is protected, and the teachers here would never let something like that in the castle. Just don’t go wandering off into the forest again, okay?”
Audrey felt herself relax in her sister’s arms. She wasn’t perfect; she had a feeling that… human was going to cause her a lot of nightmares and worrying. Yet Elena made it better. Elena helped her see reason.
And for that, Audrey decided Elena’s status as the Slytherin Heir (or the not-Slytherin Heir, apparently) was unimportant. Elena was first and foremost her sister, and the only one aside from Amanda capable of calming her down. So the Slytherin Heir mess was strange, yes, but it didn’t matter. Elena mattered.
Audrey nodded to her older sister, saying with the utmost sincerity, “I don’t ever want to go into that forest ever again.”