Matter of Convenience
25 August 1990
“Fred! George!” A formidable voice rang out above the noisy street. Ana looked up from her book. “I won’t warn you again! Stop teasing your brother!”
Ana watched with mild amusement as a pair of identical boys, no more than a year older herself, were dragged away by their ears from what was clearly their younger brother. Said mother and boys passed by Ana in a blur of red on their way to the bookshop.
“Imagine being in a family like that,” said a rather pretentious voice.
“I don’t know,” Ana replied thoughtfully. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a brother or a sister?”
“Why would I want one of them, when I have you?”
Ana looked to the boy sitting next to her for the first time since his arrival.
“I’m not sure if that was supposed to be a compliment, or an insult. If it’s the latter, then you really need to work on that, Draco.”
“And if it’s the former?” Draco asked.
“You need to work on that too. One should never confuse the two.” Ana grinned. “Where’s your mum?”
“Why must Mother be with me?” Draco asked, his eyes pinching in a sneer.
“Because you’re a Golden Boy, Draco. Narcissa would never let her precious Little Dr….”
“Don’t say it!” He quickly covered her mouth with his hand. “She’s in Flourish in Blotts.”
When Draco didn’t remove his hand from her mouth, Ana licked the inside of his palm. He pulled it away with a grimace.
“Eww! You’re disgusting.”
“Well next time, don’t put your hand on my face.”
The same family with the identical mischief makers passed by Ana and Draco again. Draco sneered as they passed.
“Why are there so many people out today?”
“Hogwarts starts in a week, Draco.”
“Oh. …Oh!” Draco turned to Ana with sudden interest. “So you got your letter then?”
“Of course I did! I got it weeks ago,” Ana said with lofty pride as she pulled the well-loved parchment from the bag beneath her feet.
Draco’s eyes roamed over the paper with vigor. “‘Course, I’ll be getting mine soon too.”
“Yeah… next summer.” Ana took back her acceptance letter and tucked it away for safe keeping.
“What house do you think you’ll be in?” Draco asked.
“No one really knows what house they’ll be in until they get there.”
“Well I know I’ll be in Slytherin; all of Mother’s and Father’s families were in Slytherin. Your dad was in Slytherin too, so you probably will be.”
“He’s not my dad.”
Draco rolled his eyes in dramatic fashion. “You know what I mean.”
“Does it really matter anyway? The lessons are the same.”
Draco stared back at Ana blankly. “Of course it matters, Ana. Your house says everything about you. Ravenclaws are all bookish… which, I suppose does fit you a bit.”
“I am not bookish.”
Draco dropped his eyes to the open book before Ana; she slammed it shut.
“It’s a beginner’s potions book. I could brew these in my sleep,” Ana said defensively. Draco simply smirked. “Shove off! What about the other two?”
“What other two?”
“Gryffindor and Hufflepuff.”
“Ana, no one wants to be in Hufflepuff. Why would they? Hufflepuffs are…they’re what’s left over when the other houses are full.”
Ana snorted, though she didn’t mean to.
“And Gryffindor… Ana, you simply cannot be in Gryffindor.”
“And why is that, Draco?”
“Because, once I was sorted into Slytherin then we couldn’t be friends anymore.”
“Really? You’d stop being my friend just because of what house we may or may not be in?”
“I’d have to. My Father says that Gryffindors are all a bunch of…”
“Oh! So I’m talking to Mr. Malfoy now?” Ana fired back. “When did you become your father’s duplicate?”
“You don’t understand, Ana. Just because you don’t have a father…”
Draco’s voice faded out and his eyes grew wide. He knew he had made a mistake the instant the words left his mouth. Instead of getting angry and yelling or calling him every foul name that had suddenly erupted in her head, though, Ana’s face simply became devoid of any emotion, like the shade coming down over a window.
“Wow. That’s cold, even for you, Draco. I think I see Sev leaving the apothecary.” Ana threw her new book in her bag and began to leave.
“Wait, Ana, I… I didn’t mean… I’m… It’s just that, you’re always saying how he’s not your father, and I…”
“Sev’s not my father!” Ana said fiercely. As she turned back around to face Draco, her braided hair swung like a whip he had to dodge.
“But he’s the closest I have to one,” she added softly. “And I don’t need you reminding me of that.”
“You’re right. I said I was sorry.”
“Actually, I don’t think you did.”
“Well, I… I meant to, but I… Malfoys don’t apologize.”
“That sounds more Like Mr. Malfoy speaking.”
Draco didn’t respond.
“You don’t have to be everything he tells you to be, Draco. You can be worth more than your money; you just have to choose to be so.”
“What does that even mean?” He asked with a sneer. Then he looked her over. Ana had always been taller than him, a feature she liked to hold over his head, but now something was different.
“Have you… Have you gotten…Taller?”
“How very observant of you, Draco,” Ana replied with an exasperated eye roll. “It’s a wonder we’re even friends.”
“A matter of convenience for us both.”
They stared one another down briefly before they each cracked a thin smile.
“I really do see Sev waiting now, and you know how he loathes waiting,” Ana said, dropping her voice to match the tone Sev’s so often took.
“Right… Well, I… I guess I’ll see you next year.”
Ana shrugged. “You might see me at Christmas again.”
“Write to me?”
“Like you’d read it.”
“…Unless I write in detail the Quidditch matches.”
“And that is the sole reason we are friends.”
Ana turned and began to hurry across the cobbled street. Suddenly one of those boys from earlier ran in front of her nearly bumping into her.
“Oi! Watch it, Red!”
“Sorry! I didn’t see you there.”
“If I had been a snake…”
“Well it’s a good thing you’re not one then, yeah?”
“Uh-oh! Gotta go. Bye!” The boy took off before the shop keep could spot him.
Ana continued on her way to where a rather severe looking man stood waiting. On her way she slowly straightened her back and raised her head, as though reaching for that extra inch. And when she met him, eye to eye, she offered him no apology.
“I know I’m late, but I had to set Malfoy straight again.”
“And did you?”
“Of course, Sev. Would you expect anything less?”
His lip twitched slightly. “Did you gather all you needed?”
“Yes, Sir. I’ve got all my books, my robes, my wand…” Ana smiled with excitement. “Of course I had my cauldron already, but I got a set of new phials. Did you get everything you needed?”
He sneered in true form. “They over hydrate their eye of newt. I will have to gather my own.”
“Will you show me how? A true Potions Master must know how to gather her own supplies.”
“Perhaps. If there is time.”
Ana smiled again before they both turned to leave.
“Sev, can I ask you something? … Besides that, obviously.”
Sev’s lip twitched again. “If you must.”
“I must,” Ana replied.
“Then by all means, proceed.”
“Well, it’s just that Draco and I were discussing Hogwarts, and more specifically, what houses we’d be in. He’s convinced that he’ll be in Slytherin because that’s where all his family was sorted. But I… I’m not as certain.
“He… He says we can’t be friends anymore if I get into Gryffindor. And I was wondering, would you still like me if I’m in Gryffindor?”
They came to an abrupt halt. Sev slowly looked sideways at Ana, but Ana stared straight ahead. She didn’t want Sev to see how frightened she was. Sev, however, didn’t need to look into her eyes to see into her mind.
“Mum was a Gryffindor. Wasn’t she?”
“Yes, but you won’t be,” Sev replied aloud.
“It’s possible though,” Ana said, turning to look at him.
“Hardly. You’re far too… ambitious to be a fool-hearty Gryffindor.”
“Ambitious? Well… I suppose I do want to prove to everyone why I’m the best.” Ana’s lips twitched this time.
“What about Hufflepuff?” Ana asked as they passed through a stone archway and into a back alley.
“Absolutely not,” Sev said as though Hufflepuff wasn’t even an option.
“Ravenclaw…” He sighed. “Ravenclaw would be…acceptable.”
“Acceptable, but not preferred?”
Ana nodded as they moved through the old Pub in silence. There were a few families here and there, and a few patrons of the pub scattered around. No one paid Ana and Sev any mind as they went straight for the floo. Ana reached for a handful of powder silently.
“Belladonna,” Sev called. Ana turned and gave him her full attention.
“I do not often give my approval for anything, but when I do, it is not given lightly. Likewise, it is not easily lost. You, Belladonna, have my approval, and shall continue to have it despite whichever house you are sorted into.”
Sev was a man of few words, but when he spoke them, he meant them. Ana knew this and she smiled.
“Thanks, Sev.” Then she stepped into the fireplace and threw down then powder. “170 Spinner’s End.” She vanished in a swirl of green flames.