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Our Little Secret

Chapter Text

It was a still, silent night on Privet Drive in the small village of Little Whinging, Surrey. The residents slept in their beds, completely unaware of the streetlights extinguishing and the three foreign figures walking down their seemingly ordinary street, stopping at Number Four.

Dumbledore set Harry down on the porch, wiping away a small tear before anyone could notice. He looked back to Hagrid, who was taking another mass of blankets out of the sidecar. "An' here," he said, handing the bundle to McGonagall. "Is little Isabelle." McGonagall rocked the stirring baby gently, lulling her back to sleep. "You-Know-Who spared her as well?" Hagrid shook his head. "As far as I can tell, he wanted ter kill both of em. But he must've tried ter curse Harry firs' because Isabelle doesn' have anything but some scratches. The curse bounced back an' finished off You-Know-Who."

Dumbledore sighed heavily. "Well, thank Godric that both of them survived." McGonagall looked at Dumbledore worriedly, glancing at the house. "Albus, where is Isabelle going to go? We cannot possibly put both children in this horrid house!" Dumbledore stared at the house for a moment, his eyes lingering on the quiet bundle of blankets on the doorstep. After a moment, he took Isabelle gently from McGonagall, taking care to not wake her. "I know someone who will take her in without question."

---

"No!"

Snape glared venomously at Dumbledore, his face still soaked with tears. "Severus, please. There is nowhere else for the girl to go." Snape wiped at his eyes, sitting up straighter in the high-backed chair. "You allow her to die, and then thrust her daughter onto me? Are you truly that insensitive?" Snape spat at Dumbledore. Dumbledore stood from the desk and moved around Snape. "Come, Severus. There's something you need to see."

The two men walked through the empty corridors of Hogwarts swiftly, glowing pumpkins still floating here and there. It was amazing to Dumbledore that around them, hundreds of students slept peacefully, completely unaware that You-Know-Who had been defeated at last, and by a tiny baby boy.

Dumbledore pushed open the door of the hospital wing, and the sound of a baby's cries hit them. "I've tried every spell and song I can think of Professor, she just won't fall asleep. She wants her mother." Madame Pomfrey said sadly, trying to rock the fussy little girl. Dumbledore took Isabelle from Madame Pomfrey and murmured to her quietly, trying to calm her as well. "She has no one, Severus. Sirius Black has disappeared, and we do not dare leave her with her aunt and uncle. You could be her family." Snape stared at him, his mouth slightly open but no words came out. Dumbledore smiled and placed Isabelle in Snape's arms, who began to protest slightly, but shut up when he heard Isabelle's cries cease. Her tiny face that was previously screwed up in a wail became peaceful and she stared up at Snape, waving her small hands. Snape's breath caught in his throat when he saw her eyes - a bright, brilliant green, just like her mother. "I will take care of her." Snape said in a quiet, broken voice, holding Isabelle tightly. Dumbledore smiled and led Snape out of the hospital wing. "The house elves will watch her while you teach, and Minerva is already creating small nursery spaces in your home and your private quarters here at Hogwarts." Snape stared at Dumbledore, eyebrows raised. "A bit presumptuous of you, no? Assuming I would take her in before even asking me?" Dumbledore smiled softly, placing his hand on Snape's shoulder. "I knew you would. She carries Lily's blood in her veins." Snape looked down the small baby girl, whose eyes were starting to close as she drifted off to sleep in his arms. He knew without a doubt that he would protect this child, and her brother, until his dying breath.

Chapter Text

I held tightly to Dad's arm as our Portkey landed us semi-gracefully at the doors of Hogwarts. As we brushed ourselves off and entered the castle, I could feel the excitement building up inside of me. The huge stone walls were cold to the touch but the dozens of torches that lined the corridors made the whole place seem warm and welcoming. Suits of armor stood guard in the entrance, and I could have sworn they turned their heads to watch us as we passed by. As we came towards a giant staircase, I could smell delicious scents wafting from the Great Hall and my pace faltered as my stomach growled audibly. "Come along, Isabelle. There's things we need to attend to, then you can join your classmates at the feast." Dad said and I sighed, hurrying to catch up with him. The dulled chatter of students at the Start of Term Feast rang throughout the halls as Dad hurried me along. I had heard stories about the infamous Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for years, but I had never seen it. Dad had found some loophole in the Ministry of Magic's laws that enabled him to send me to Ilvermorny, the North American school. It never quite made sense to me, seeing as my father was the Potions master here at Hogwarts, but I hadn't ever questioned him about it. I figured he must have his reasons and I just went along with his decisions. But I had been thrilled when I came home after my second year at Ilvermorny to the news that I would be completing the remainder of my magical education at Hogwarts. "I'll have better peace of mind knowing you're close by instead of in America" Dad had told me when I asked why I was suddenly transferring schools. I was brought out of my reverie by the sound of Dad knocking on a heavy wooden door, which swung open almost immediately. I followed him into a small room - a teacher's office. At the desk in the back of the room sat an older woman, her spectacles reflecting the fire that illuminated her stern face. However, her expression seemed to soften when she saw my father and I enter the room. "Isabelle Potter. Ah, I've waited a long time to see you walk through that door." She said, standing and walking around her desk. "I am Professor McGonagall. I will be your Transfiguration teacher for the remainder of your time here at Hogwarts. Now, as a Hogwarts student, you must be sorted into a house - much like you were at Illvermorny. You were a Pukwudgie, yes?" McGonagall said, and I nodded. She gestured to a stool that sat in the corner, and atop it was perched an old hat, worn and weathered. "To sort you into your Hogwarts house, I shall place the hat on your head. It will judge you based on your character and then choose your house for you." I stared at the wrinkled leather of the hat apprehensively, almost like it was an angry dog snapping its jowls at me. Professor McGonagall beckoned towards the stool, giving me a reassuring smile. I sat carefully on the stool and felt the heavy hat being placed on my head. I saw Dad stare at me in anticipation, and I closed my eyes.

"Isabelle Alice...and your last name, oh my." I heard the hat say in a gravelly voice, making me gasp. "You are courage and fire, but I see much fear in you. Even now, you are scared. But your heart...such strength...better be, Gryffindor."

And with that, the hat fell silent. McGonagall removed the hat from my head, murmured her congratulations, and swept out of the room. I looked up at Dad ashamedly. "Are you terribly mad?" He knelt down in front of me, smoothing locks of my unruly, wavy hair out of my face. "My child, no. Why would I be mad?" I kept my head down when I spoke. "Because you were in Slytherin, and I'm a Gryffindor." Dad smiled at me. "You're quite mistaken, Isabelle. In fact, I have never been more proud of you than I am right now. Your mother was a Gryffindor; one of the best I knew. She would be so proud to see her daughter follow in her footsteps."

I smiled and hugged him, now reassured that being in Gryffindor was something to be proud of. We got up and left the small room, heading towards the Great Hall in comfortable silence. Once I saw the long tables filled with chattering students, my confidence began to waver. "Dad! Who should I sit with?" I turned to look at my father, but he was gone. I gulped and looked around at the imposing tables, finally locating the one for Gryffindors. I scanned the table for an empty spot and found one near the end of the table, next to a boy who looked to be about my age. I strode over and plopped down quickly onto the bench. The boy turned around and my mouth fell open a little. He was almost like an exact copy of me: messy black hair, green eyes, and the same surprised look on his face.

I smiled at him. "Hi, I'm Isabelle." He smiled back, collecting himself. "I'm Harry. Harry Potter. Are you, um, new this year?" I nodded. I recognized his name immediately and tried not to glance up at the lightning scar that I knew was hidden under his scruffy hair. "I was at Ilvermorny for the last two years, but my Dad decided I needed to be closer to home, so I've transferred here. I'll be starting my third year this year." Harry smiled at me. "And you're in Gryffindor?" I smiled proudly and nodded. "Yep! I just got sorted a moment ago!" Harry grinned. "Well, we're glad to have you here."

The rest of the meal passed quite pleasantly. I met some of the other Gryffindors in my year, and Harry introduced me to his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Harry and Ron talked rapidly throughout the feast, which left Hermione and me to make conversation. I was delighted to find out that Hermione also spoke French, so we spent the rest of the meal bantering back and forth "en Françis", discussing different topics ranging from potions to books.

Soon, the feast vanished and Professor Dumbledore stepped up to the podium, speaking to the hall. His speech, however, was drowned out by a whisper behind us. The four of us turned and saw a blonde boy sneering at us. Despite the look on his face, he was actually very attractive. "Potter, is it true you fainted? I mean, you actually fainted?" The boy said, holding back laughter. His friend pretended to pass out beside him and the table erupted in giggles. Ron scowled at the boy and said, "Shut up, Malfoy", turning Harry back towards the table. Hermione, Ron, and Harry started listening to Dumbledore's speech again, but I kept stealing glances at the blonde boy. And, a few times, I caught him looking at me as well.

After dinner, I followed Ron, Harry, and Hermione up to Gryffindor Tower with the rest of our house, and I cringed when I heard a loud woman singing quite off-key. "Who in the name of Merlin is that?" I asked Hermione, frowning when she rolled her eyes. "The Fat Lady. She's the resident of our portrait hole." Hermione said, both of us watching the boys attempt to reason with her to open the door. She finally relented and let us into the tower, grumbling as we passed through the hole. I smiled when we entered the common room, looking around at the warm colors and comfy chairs, and the crackling fire already roaring in the grate. Hermione grabbed my hand and started leading me towards the stairs, smiling. "C'mon, let's get you settled." We climbed the stairs quickly and I met some of the other girls in the 3rd year dorm - Pavarti Patil, Lavender Brown, Eloise Midgen, Fay Dunbar and Rosamund Wells. They all welcomed me to Gryffindor, quickly giving me a tour of the dormitory before they began to get ready for bed. Soon I was settled in my four-poster bed, staring at the ceiling and beginning to drift off into a happy sleep. I was so excited to begin my classes tomorrow, and for the first time, I truly felt like I belonged somewhere.

Chapter Text

I woke up the next day to the sun barely peeking over the trees of the Forbidden Forest, and the birds were beginning to chirp in the distance. I stretched my arms above my head, lying in bed for a few extra moments until something that looked like a tiny, fluffy tiger jumped onto my legs. "Merlin's beard!" I yelled, flailing a little. The ginger furball hopped off my bed, hissing slightly before slinking under Hermione's bed. Hermione sat up, looking over at me in alarm. "Isabelle? Are you okay?" I pointed under her bed, my voice unsure. "There's...some kind of ginger monster under your bed, Hermione." Hermione stared at me for a second then a look of realization dawned on her face, and she reached under her bed to pull the creature out. "This is Crookshanks, he's my cat!" She said, snuggling the wiry-haired cat close. "He's...adorable." I managed, getting out of bed and beginning to rifle through my trunk for my school robes. Slowly, the other girls in the dormitory began to wake up, beginning to get ready for the day as well. Once Hermione was fully dressed, we grabbed our bags and I followed her down the stairs and through the portrait hole.

We chatted idly about the first day of classes as we walked into the Great Hall, sitting down at the long Gryffindor table. I had just started to dig into some toast, eggs, and sausage when Harry and Ron plopped down across from us, greeting us quickly before starting to eat. I picked up my cup and reached for the jug of pumpkin juice, grabbing it at the same time as Harry. I let go of it, giggling at his flushed face. As he poured, I noticed that Harry and I were eating the exact same thing for breakfast. I brushed it off, taking the jug with a nod and pouring my own drink. I thought it was strange that Harry and I had nearly identical appearances, save for the fact that I was a girl and he was a boy. Part of me had believed that A stack of papers was floating down the table, a sheet landing in front of every student. I caught mine, examining it curiously as I ate. "Oh bloody hell, we have Transfiguration with the Slytherins this morning. And double Potions with them on Wednesdays!" Ron groaned, frowning at his paper. I smiled, excited that I had a double class with my dad. Ron looked at me, eyebrows raised. "You're excited about a double Potions class?" He said in disbelief, and I shrugged. "Why wouldn't I be excited? I'm pretty good at Potions, and I get a longer class with my Dad." Harry spit out his pumpkin juice and Hermione looked at me in shock. "Wait, Snape is your dad?" I looked at them all, suddenly unsure. I didn't know the kind of reputation that Dad had gotten himself at Hogwarts but from my friends' reactions, I could tell that it wasn't a good one. "Yes, he's my father." I said, trying to end the conversation. "We should really get going, we don't want to be late." I said, standing up and grabbing my bag. As I walked away, I heard footsteps come up behind me and felt Hermione link her arm with mine. "Come on, I'll show you the way. And don't worry about them, or me actually. We just never pictured Snape having children." She said, making me laugh.

We walked into the Transfiguration classroom, and I smiled when I saw McGonagall sitting at her desk in the front. She looked up, nodded at me with a small smile on her face, then returned to whatever she was writing. Hermione led me over to a pair of desks and we sat down, pulling out our materials for the class. Students began to file in, and after a few moments, I could feel someone's eyes on me. I looked up to see the same blonde boy from the Welcome Feast, but now I could see his house colors - he was a Slytherin. "Can I help you?" I said politely. He smirked, leaning against the desk across from me. "You might be able to. I'm Draco Malfoy, I don't believe we've had the pleasure of meeting." He said, extending his hand. I looked at it for a second before shaking it lightly. "I'm Isabelle. It's nice to meet you." Malfoy looked past me for a second and sneered at Hermione. "Why don't you come sit with my friends and I, Isabelle? You don't want to hang out with people like her. We'll be able to show you the right kinds of friends to have." I stared at Malfoy, my dislike for him growing fast. "I think I can tell right and wrong for myself, thanks though." I said, turning away from him and back towards. I heard Draco grumble and walk away, and Hermione gave me a small side hug. "Thanks, Isabelle." I smiled at her, shaking my head. "Anyone who says bad things about my friends is no friend of mine."

---

One night, a week or two into the school year, the four of us were sat at a table near the fire in the common room, muddling our way through homework. "Isabelle, is Snape really your father?" Hermione said suddenly, her face full of curiosity. I put down my quill and shrugged, frowning. "He's raised me, that much I know. I call him Dad, but I've always had a feeling that he isn't my biological father. He always talks about my mum, but I never knew her. She died when I was a baby, apparently." Harry stared at me, something like realization dawning in his eyes. "Isabelle, what's your last name?" I looked at him confusedly. "Potter. I never understood why it wasn't Snape, but I assumed it was my mother's name." Harry dropped his quill, staring at me aghast. "That's my last name!" I nodded slowly, sitting back in my chair. "Yes, and it's quite common, Harry." Ron leaned forward, his face uncertain. "Yeah, but you two have the same...everything. Eyes, face, nose, hair, every bit." I looked at Harry, and the longer I looked, the more of myself I saw in him. "It's not possible. Every single book says you're their only child. There's no mention of a sibling, much less" "A twin." Harry finished for me, staring right back at me. I sat there for a moment, stunned, then leaped up and strode towards the portrait hole. "Where are you going?" Hermione asked worriedly. "Dumbledore!" I shouted, and soon I heard a pair of feet pounding after me. "Mind if I join you?" I heard Harry say. I looked over and smiled, shaking my head. "Not at all." We walked through the halls with purpose, stopping in front of a huge doorway that housed a giant gargoyle in the shape of a griffin. We stepped inside, and I looked at Harry in confusion. "What happens now?" I said, and Harry stared blankly at the floor. "I'm...not sure. Every time I've been in here, there was a teacher with me. I know we need some kind of password and it's always been a type of candy." He said, and I started wracking my brain for what it could possibly be. Before I could try out any possible options, the stone beneath us began to separate into steps and rise up, lifting us higher and higher through the tower until we stopped in front of an imposing wooden door. All it took was a single knock for it to swing open, revealing the silver-bearded man who had spoken at the Start of Term feast - Dumbledore. "I had a feeling I would be seeing you two tonight."

Ten minutes later, Harry and I were sat in front of Dumbledore's desk as he paced behind it. "I knew this day would come, but I never knew it would be so early." I stared at him, and hurt welled up inside of me. "Why didn't anyone ever tell me I had a brother, much less a twin brother? Why didn't Dad say anything? Why did you separate us?" Dumbledore came around the front of the desk to stand before Harry and I. "We did not feel right leaving both of you with the Dursley family. So, we entrusted Harry to their care and implored Professor Snape to take you in, Isabelle. The Dursley's would never tell you that you had a sister, Harry - why would they want to encourage wizarding behavior by introducing you to your sister, who had been raised in the wizarding world? And Professor Snape...he didn't want you to go looking for Harry. He thought Harry's situation was dangerous and didn't want you around someone that the Dark Lord so desperately wanted dead."

I looked at Harry, and I could see his mouth hanging open slightly as he stared at Dumbledore. "I have a sister." He looked at me, and there were tears in his eyes. "I thought I didn't have any family left in the world." I let out a small sob and flung my arms around him, hugging him tightly. "I hated being an only child. And I hated not knowing a thing about my family." I said shakily. Harry pulled away to look at me, grinning tearfully. "I can't really say I missed you since I never knew about you, but I did." I giggled quietly and smiled at him. "I missed you too."

"Isabelle, with this new realization of a family comes a dangerous new reality." Dumbledore said, and I turned to see his face looking suddenly somber. "You now know the truth about who your parents are, and like every child who grew up in a magic family, you know Harry's story. That's your story now too." I turned to look at Harry, who was watching me uncertainly. I knew that he was afraid I would say that I didn't want to be known as his sister. "I'm not scared, Harry. I'm proud to be our parents' daughter, I'm not going to hide anymore. You're my brother no matter what - even You-Know-Who wanting us dead won't change that." I said, and Harry's expression changed to one of relief. A question crossed my mind at the thought of my real parents and I looked at Dumbledore, biting my lip nervously. "C-can I still call Professor Snape 'Dad'? I mean, I know now that he's not my biological father, but it would feel so odd to not call him Dad." I said, my voice unsteady. Dumbledore smiled kindly at me, taking my hand in his. "You may call Professor Snape whatever you please, Isabelle. While I advise that calling him Professor is a wise decision during class, it is completely up to you. I would think it very natural to continue referring to him as your father, as he did raise you." I nodded slowly, still a little unsure. Dumbledore looked at me seriously and said, "Sometimes a parent is the one who has given you love and guidance, not necessarily life. Lily and James will always be your mother and father, but Professor Snape will always have a special place in your heart."

After some more reassurance from Dumbledore that being known publicly as Harry's twin sister wouldn't be that hard to adjust to, we were both escorted from the office with a kind smile from Dumbledore and a parting "Good luck". Harry and I walked back to Gryffindor Tower in comfortable silence, both just taking in the knowledge that we were brother and sister - that we weren't alone. It made my heart break to think of Harry completely alone in the world, and then swell with happiness at the idea of having a brother who was just like me. "Did you ever imagine this? Having a sibling?" I said quietly, looking at Harry as we walked quietly through the corridors. Harry shook his head, looking straight ahead. "No, I never thought I had one. I...I just always imagined my parents - sorry, OUR parents, being alive." I was quiet for a moment, letting the awful truth sink in; that my mother and father were dead. I let out a small sob and covered my face, tears spilling from my eyes. I felt Harry wrap his arms around me, holding me tightly. We looked exactly the same, the only difference being that he was nearly a head taller than me. "It's okay." Harry murmured, stroking my hair. "T-they're d-dead! Mum and Dad!" I cried into his chest, holding onto his robes. The terrible realization that my mother and father were gone was hitting me all at once. I would never get to hold their hands, or hear their laughter, or tell them that I loved them. "I guess it's easier for me because I grew up knowing it. You're just finding out." Harry said softly, holding me close. I looked up at him, sniffing. "Why us? What did they do so wrong that You-Know-Who killed them?" Harry shook his head, his eyes revealing how broken he was. "They said no. They stood up to him." I laid my head on Harry's shoulder, closing my eyes. "They didn't deserve to die." I whispered. Harry didn't respond. He simply held me against him, laying his cheek on my head.

We walked back through the portrait hole and saw Hermione and Ron sitting up still, talking by the fire. They both looked up, and their eyes widened at the sight of us. "So?" Ron said expectantly. I looked at Harry and smiled, giving him a small side hug. "Twins." We said simultaneously, and Hermione squealed, rushing over to hug us. "This is wonderful! Oh Harry, you still have some family left in the world!" I giggled as I watched Hermione tackle Harry in a tight hug. Harry was lucky to have such wonderful friends. I saw Ron standing a few feet away, watching with his hands shoved in his pockets. "Ron," I said quietly, walking over. "I know you haven't really warmed up to me that much since we met, but it looks like I'm gonna be sticking around for a while, so could we maybe try being mates?" I said hopefully, looking up at Ron. Ron shrugged and smiled a little, sticking out his hand. "Welcome to the family." I looked at Ron's hand and then at his face, and laughed, hugging him tightly. "I've been told I'm a hugger." Ron snorted and returned my hug gently. I turned my head against Ron's shoulder to see Hermione talking animatedly to Harry by the fireplace, and he shot me a small smile when he caught my glance. I knew then, in the common room surrounded by new friends and my twin brother, that leaving Ilvermorny had been the best decision of my life. I was finally home.

---

"Did you really fly a car to school last year?" I said, giggling at Harry's embarrassed expression. Harry and I had been trying to learn as much about each other as we could over the past few days. He was surprised to learn that I spoke three other languages and he was shocked that Dad had often taken me to the beach as a child. I would have never guessed that his favorite subject was secretly charms, or that he was the youngest seeker in a century. He had had to calm me down when he told me about the way the Dursleys, our aunt and uncle, and cousin, had treated him his entire life. It made me want to cry thinking that the only family Harry had ever known had locked him away in the dark - a skeleton in their closet, in this case under the stairs. "It wasn't the smartest choice, looking back. But we had to get here somehow!" Harry said defensively as I laughed. "C'mon, we're gonna be late to Charms."

"So, Potter's got a sister?"

Harry and I turned to see Malfoy standing behind us, smirking. "As if it wasn't bad enough having one stinking Potter around here, now we have to deal with two." A few Slytherins that were standing off to the side giggled, and I rolled my eyes. "Go away, Malfoy." I groaned, hitching my bag over your shoulder. Most of the students at Hogwarts had gotten over the news that Harry and I were twins and had moved on with their lives, but for some reason, the slug-faced Slytherin that was Draco Malfoy couldn't seem to let it go. He had taken every opportunity he could find to torment me after I had rejected him in Transfiguration, but now that he knew I was a Potter, it was a hundred times worse. "Don't do that, Potter. It takes away from your pretty face. And it's not like there's much else to go on." I placed my hand on Harry's shoulder, seeing him ready to pounce beside me. I stepped forward so I was right in front of Malfoy, smiling sweetly at him. "You know, at least I've got good qualities besides my pretty face. Yours can barely make up for your horrid personality, slimeball." I said, watching as his face became flushed in anger. "Bugger off, Potter." He hissed, turning on his heel and stalking off down the corridor. My mouth fell open and I glared at his retreating figure, then started walking in the opposite direction with Harry. The entire way to class, though, I couldn't get those steely gray eyes out of my head.

Chapter Text

The first Hogsmeade trip of the year dawned bright and cold, the crisp fall air seeping through the walls of the castle and waking up its inhabitants pretty quickly. The older students hurried through breakfast, eager to head down to the famed wizarding village. "Which shop do you want to go to first?" Rosie asked me excitedly as we walked out of the Great Hall. I shrugged, linking my arm with hers. "I want to check out the bookshop, actually." Rosie groaned, laughing. "You're no fun!" I felt another arm link with mine and I looked over to see Elinor walking beside me, a little out of breath. "You alright there, El?" I said, snickering at her annoyed expression. "I slept through breakfast and thought I missed going to Hogsmeade!" Elinor said, groaning. Rosie laughed loudly and I shook my head as we followed the large crowd of people heading into the courtyard. Rosamund, or Rosie, and I had made our own little friend group with a Ravenclaw girl named Elinor, and the three of us had become quite close. I was obviously still close to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but they had already established themselves pretty well at Hogwarts as the Golden Trio, and I wanted a group of friends to call my own.

We handed our permission forms to Professor McGonagall, joining the students who were chattering away about what they planned to do in the village. I saw Harry standing at the edge of the crowd and I pushed the girls ahead of me, telling them I would catch up. I approached Harry slowly, not quite sure of what to say. It infuriated me that the Dursleys wouldn't sign Harry's form, but I understood why McGonagall wouldn't. "Harry, are you sure you don't want me to stay behind? I don't mind, really." Harry shook his head, smiling with sad eyes. "No, you go ahead. You deserve to get the full Hogwarts experience." I hesitated for a moment then hugged him, promising I'd bring him back something cool from the village before hurrying through the gate to catch up with the girls.

I felt bad leaving Harry alone at school, but I really did want to see Hogsmeade for the first time ever. My friends and I agreed to meet up at The Three Broomsticks in an hour, seeing as we all wanted to look at different things. I walked into a tiny bookstore that was tucked between shops, smiling at the clerk as I entered. I walked through the shelves, picking up a book full of the fairytales I used to read as a child. I smiled as I flicked through the familiar pages when someone spoke behind me. "Careful, you'll turn into Granger if you keep this up. That's almost as bad as being a Potter." I stifled a shriek, but my fear turned to irritation when I saw Malfoy standing behind me. "What do you want? I'm busy here." I said in a flat voice. Malfoy took a step closer to me and I stepped back, hitting the shelf. "I want to know what bloody spell you cast on me." Malfoy said through gritted teeth. I stared at him in confusion, not understanding what he was saying. Malfoy groaned and looked at me, his frustration clear. "You're on my mind all day, and it's infuriating. Whatever prank charm you cast on me, please undo it now." I stared at him for a second longer, my mouth open slightly, but then it hit me. I smiled and bit my lip, trying not to laugh as I looked at him. "There is no counter charm." I said simply, grinning. Malfoy looked absolutely horrified and I giggled. "You like me. There's no reversal charm for attraction." I said, leaning up to whisper in his ear. "You might want to come to grips with that, Malfoy."

I brushed past a sputtering Malfoy and walked out of the shop, waving goodbye to the clerk and making my way to the Three Broomsticks. I ducked inside, quickly spotting my friends at a table not far from the bar. "Where were you?" Elinor asked as I sat down, removing my hat and fixing my hair. "We were getting worried about you!" She said, and Rosamund nodded in agreement. I giggled and took off my coat, smiling at them. "Don't worry girls, I was at the bookstore. Now, what's good here?" I said, looking at the little place card on the table. Before I could pick a drink though, someone set a foaming mug of pale gold liquid on the table. I looked up and saw a lady who I could only assume was the famed barmaid, Madame Rosmerta. "A nice lad said to give this to you. He said, consider it a charm." She winked, heading back to the bar. I looked at the warm drink, biting my lip. Elinor and Rosamund started gushing excitedly, trying to figure out who had sent it to me, but I didn't have to wonder. I could feel those gray eyes staring at me from across the pub, and I tried to suppress the blush that threatened to cover my cheeks. Draco Malfoy was the worst kind of person, but I couldn't help the butterflies that sprang up in my stomach whenever he was around.

---

Malfoy continued to watch me the rest of that week, and the week after that. But not in the scathing, venomous way that he watched Harry or Hermione or Ron. He just stared. I could always feel his eyes burning into me, and as much as I hated to admit it, I caught myself staring at him sometimes too. He was so focused on me all the time; to an outsider, it would have bordered on obsessive. But truthfully, I didn't want him to stop. I wanted him to say something, to make a move. But the days went on and Malfoy continued to do nothing, I began to think that I had been wrong - it wasn't attraction, it was the same repulsion he felt towards my brother and my friends.

Thankfully, I had other things to distract me from Malfoy and his newfound interest in me. The workload in my classes was beginning to pick up, and the threat of Sirius Black was becoming all too real. One morning at breakfast, Seamus Finnegan ran to the Gryffindor, brandishing a copy of the Daily Prophet and screaming "He's been sighted! He's been sighted!" As everyone discussed Black's new whereabouts, I watched Harry's face worriedly. He had told me the warning Ron's father had given him about Sirius Black, and what he had heard McGonagall say in Hogsmeade. I didn't think it was true, but we compared the photos from Mom and Dad's wedding to the mugshots of Sirius Black, and they were a damn close match. Harry wanted him dead - he wanted to kill Black himself for betraying our parents, whereas I was just scared now. Were we really connected to a mass murderer? I found it impossible to believe that our parents would have ever been friends with someone like that. But if it was true, and if he really did betray our parents that night, was he coming back to do what Voldemort had failed to do? "Are you afraid?" I said quietly as Harry and I left the Great Hall to head down to Potions. Harry shook his head, his mouth set in a firm line. "No, I'm not. I hope he finds me, because when he does, I'm going to kill him." Harry said grimly, and my mouth dropped open at his words. "Harry, you're not serious!" I said in shock, but Harry said nothing and simply kept making his way down to the dungeons. "Harry, please. Can you listen to me? Harry!" I said, grabbing his arm forcefully and pulling him away from the throng of Gryffindors and Slytherins walking to the dungeons. "Harry, just listen to me for a minute." I said, and when Harry stayed silent I pressed on. "Sirius Black is dangerous. You've seen the reports, you've heard the stories about him. If he has no problem killing dozens of witches and wizards, what makes you think he'll give a second thought to killing you? And to make matters worse, you've told me that he broke out of Azkaban solely to find you, Harry. Please, be smart and let the Aurors and the Dementors take him. I just got you in my life, I can't lose you." I said desperately, and Harry's face softened considerably. "Promise me you will not go looking for Sirius Black, Harry. Promise me, now." Harry hesitated before nodding. "I promise." I sighed with relief and gave him a quick hug before we dashed down into the dungeons, slipping into the Potions room just as the bell rang. I wanted to believe that Harry would keep his promise and not go looking for trouble, but if the stories I'd heard about my brother were true, trouble seemed to find him more often than not. But I'd be damned if I let some crazed murderer take away what little family I had left in the world.

---

I was leaving the library one night, my mind swimming with thoughts of classes, the Grim in Harry's cup, and Sirius Black when suddenly I ran into a very solid and warm object. All of my books and papers scattered on the ground and I groaned loudly, dropping to the ground and scrambling to pick them up. When the other person didn't bend down to help, I looked up and bit my lip to hold back the curse that bubbled in my throat. Malfoy was standing over me, that ridiculous smirk on his lips. "I know the Malfoy family is lacking in class but was your upbringing so poor that your father didn't even teach you to help a lady?" I asked, irritated. Malfoy continued to smirk at me, not moving from his position above me. "Yes, but I don't see a lady. I see a Potter." I dropped my books and stood up, moving right in front of him and placing my hands on my hips. "What exactly is your problem, Malfoy? You flirt with me, then you hate me. You smile at me, then you make fun of me. I'm beginning to think I really did charm you because no boy has ever acted this stupid around me before. But wait, I forgot I'm talking to a Malfoy." I finished, my mood moving from irritated to angry. The anger was erased, however, when Malfoy grabbed my face and kissed me hard. I was so shocked that I couldn't even react or respond. When we broke apart, I stared at him, my mouth slightly open. "Wh...why did you do that?" I said shakily. "Because you bother me." He said simply, his voice quiet.

I kept staring, confused, and Malfoy sighed. "You're smart and charming, you're beautiful, you're funny, and you're nice. You're everything I want in a girl but you're a Potter and that should make me hate you but it doesn't. It makes you even more perfect. You bother me to no end and I'm tired of trying to ignore it." I threw my arms around Malfoy's neck and kissed him, smiling. He wrapped his arms around my waist, holding me tight as he kissed me back. "You're infuriating." I gasped when we separated. "You're handsome and intelligent and clever, and rude and cunning and biting. My brother hates you, and I should hate you. But I don't. It bothers me; you bother me." Malfoy smirked, making me roll my eyes "Don't let it go to your head, Malfoy." I said, laughing. "I don't want you to stop bothering me, though. I've started to like it." I said, biting my lip and smiling at him. "And I don't want you to bother anyone else." I added, suddenly unsure. "I'll bother you as long as you want. But you're going to hate me. I'm going to irritate you and make you want to scream. You'll want me out of your life almost as soon as you let me in it." Malfoy said softly, his grip on my waist belying his words. "And you're going to want to curse me into next week." I whispered, looking up into his hard gray eyes. "Malfoy..." "Don't call me that." He said suddenly. "Everyone calls me Malfoy. I want to hear my name for once." I smiled, placing my hand on his cheek. "Okay, Draco." I said softly, and his eyes melted from cold steel to the color of soft clouds on a rainy day. "Say it again." He said, his voice cracking a little. I smiled and leaned in close, feeling his heartbeat through his robes. "Draco." I whispered against his lips, barely brushing them with my own. Draco pressed his lips to mine and I sighed, melting into him.

"You need to get back to the Tower. It's dangerous at night now." Draco said, and I smiled and rolled my eyes. "I know. There are strange boys wandering the corridors and kissing unsuspecting girls." I giggled, pecking his cheek and bending down to pick up my nearly forgotten books and papers. "You're something else. Walking the halls at night, kissing Slytherins and laughing in the face of a murderer." Malfoy said in disbelief. I straightened myself up and stepped into his embrace again, smiling. "I know I'm safe at Hogwarts. And I don't care who you are; Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, or Gryffindor. I'd kiss you no matter your house colors." I said softly, my smile mirroring his. Draco looked down at his feet for a moment, and it looked like he was building up the courage to say something. "Isabellewillyougooutwithme?" I raised my eyebrows, trying not to laugh at his jumbled words. "Come again?" I asked. Draco sighed and looked at me, his face set but his eyes nervous. "Will you go out with me, Isabelle?" I felt my heart leap and I leaned up, kissing his cheek softly. "Yes." I said quietly, smiling and feeling my cheeks heat up.

I walked back to Gryffindor Tower quickly, hurrying up the stairs and getting ready for bed, brushing off Hermione and Rosie's questions about where I had been, and why I looked so flushed. I snuggled into my sheets, smiling to myself as I began to drift off to sleep. It was still and quiet, the only sounds in the air being the steady breathing of my housemates and Crookshanks purring. Calm and quiet.

Until we heard Ron screaming.

Chapter Text

The castle was in a state of constant unrest. Although you couldn't see it, you could absolutely feel it. After Ron was attacked in the dormitories every student, especially the ones in Gryffindor, were afraid to walk the halls of Hogwarts. Ron had gotten over the initial fear of the attack and was now milking his newfound notoriety for all it was worth, but even Ron's nonchalant attitude about all of this couldn't convince some students that there was nothing to worry about - especially Draco.

"How are you not afraid? He's a crazed mass murderer and he broke into Gryffindor Tower." Draco hissed through the bookshelves. I shrugged, flipping another page in my book and glancing up to meet his worried, gray eyes. We had decided to keep our relationship a secret for a while, not entirely sure how people would react to hearing that the Slytherin Prince was dating a Gryffindor, and not just any Gryffindor - Harry Potter's twin sister. So, our meetings or "dates" had to be reduced to this. Secret conversations in-between shelves of books and notes passed under classroom desks. I didn't know how long a relationship like ours could last, but so far, we had made it from the fall all the way to the end of the term. "I don't know. I just...I can't explain it. After everything that McGonagall said, I've got a feeling that he's not everything he seems to be. She said he was Harry's and my godfather, which means our parents must have trusted him. I don't feel like they would be friends with people who would betray their trust. I just don't." Draco looked around before walking into my aisle, standing in front of me. "You have a good heart, Isabelle. You trust way too easily." I stared up at him, a little confused. "So? That's a bad thing? Dad told me the best thing you can have in this world is a good heart." I said, and Draco chuckled. "For most people, yes it is. But in your situation, you need to be ruthless. You can't see how much danger you're actually in because you're convinced that there is something redeemable about this man." I shook my head, putting my book back on the shelf. "Everyone can be saved. Everyone can be redeemed. I refuse to believe otherwise." I leaned up and kissed Draco softly before he could speak again, catching him by surprise. "I'm not going to go looking for him, Draco. You don't have to worry about that." I whispered, and Draco looked visibly relieved. "I need to go, it's getting late. I'll see you tomorrow." I said, giving him a quick hug before heading towards the doors.

I left the library, deciding to ignore the warnings of Dumbledore about dementors once again and take a quick walk through the courtyard. The night air was chilly, even though it was the beginning of June, but it was just the thing I needed to clear my head. I was beginning to feel like I was barely treading water nowadays. A murderous madman was on the loose and looking for not only my brother but probably me as well, and he may or may not have had a hand in the murder of my mother and father. But for some reason, there was a tiny hint of doubt in the back of my mind that told me that he wasn't guilty. That my parents would never have been such close friends with someone that could have ever done such a thing. As crazy as it may have sounded, in my heart of hearts I knew that Sirius Black was not all he had been painted to be. The subtle flap of wings brought me back around to reality, and I looked around in confusion. The sound was louder than any bird I had ever heard, and for a fleeting second, I thought there was a dragon loose around the castle. In front of me, I saw Buckbeak land with a clatter on the smooth stone ground, and my heart stopped when I saw the person riding on his back - Sirius Black. He slid off and began to walk over to me, and even though my body was telling me to yell, to run, to do anything, I stayed rooted to the spot. "Isabelle..." He said in a broken whisper. That whisper snapped me back to reality. "You're Sirius Black. You're wanted for murder." He flinched a little but nodded and I continued on. "They say that you knew my parents. That...that you're my godfather. That you knew where they were the night that Voldemort killed them. You betrayed them. Is that true" I said, my voice shaking Sirius nodded again, his eyes broken. "It's not true. I loved them, Isabelle. Your dad was the brother I wished I had had instead of my own. Your mum was the sister I never got to have. But I never betrayed them. I could never. I would never put them in danger, or you and your brother. Please, believe me." He said pleadingly.

I looked into his face, studying it carefully. His sunken eyes, the thin line he had set his mouth into, the scars and grime from spending years locked in a prison for murders he said he had nothing to do with. Dad always told me that I was a good judge of character - that I could read people like a book. And now, standing in front of Sirius, I knew that he didn't reveal my mom and dad's location to Voldemort. I could see that Sirius had a good heart, despite what everyone was led to believe, and that he wouldn't hurt my family like that. I dropped my bag and rushed forward, wrapping my arms around his waist and hugging him. He seemed to be taken by surprise, but after a moment he hugged me back. "I'm sorry they did this to you. I'm sorry you had to pay for someone else's choices." I said, looking up at him. Sirius shook his head, his eyes sad. "No, I'm sorry. I should have been there that night, to help them..." I raised my eyebrows, smiling a little. "What were you gonna do, kill Voldemort yourself?" Sirius let out a laugh, tucking a piece of hair behind my ear. "If it meant that you and Harry could have grown up with your parents, I would have taken on him and his whole army." I heard an angry squawk from behind us and I pulled away to move towards Buckbeak, bowing before approaching him. "Where did you get Buckbeak? I thought they were going to execute him." I said, placing a hand gently on his face. Sirius smiled, shaking his head. "We have your brother to thank for that. He should be back in the hospital wing by now." He trailed off, looking towards the castle. I whipped my head towards him, panicking. "What!? Why is he in the hospital wing? What happened?" Sirius shook his head, walking towards Buckbeak. "He's fine, don't worry. Ron just had a little run-in with Professor Lupin." I stared at him in confusion, but let it go. Harry would be able to explain everything later.

I heard yells from the castle and looked back at Sirius, whose eyes were now panicked. "I need to go. So do you. If they find you here they'll know you were with me." I nodded and Sirius jumped onto Buckbeak's back, looking down at me sadly. "This isn't goodbye, Isabelle. We'll see each other again soon." I nodded, squeezing his hand with a small smile on my face. Sirius paused for a moment before going "Oh!" and reaching into his ragged pocket, pulling out a small pouch. "This belonged to your mother. She always talked about giving it to you one day, and I know I'm nothing compared to her, but I'm glad I can be able to give this to you." Sirius leaned down and kissed my head before nudging Buckbeak hard with his heel, urging him into a gallop before they took off into the night.

I stood there for a moment, watching him disappear into the wispy clouds, my heart light. I was right - he was innocent. He was a good man like my parents had always said. Angry yells from the castle brought me back around and I picked up my bag, running desperately back to the castle, sliding into the safety of the shadows just as the Minister of Magic, Dad, and Dumbledore came rushing outside. I watched as the Minister yelled in frustration, smirking slightly when I realized that Sirius had outrun them again - hopefully for good, now. I looked down at the small brown pouch in my hands and opened it, dumping the contents into my hand and gasping. There was a small crystal pendant laying in the palm of my hand - a tiny, sparkling diamond-shaped jewel hanging from a gold chain. I teared up a little, staring at the gorgeous piece of jewelry. I could imagine my dad giving this to my mom as a present, and her looking at it thinking that she would pass it down to her own daughter someday. I tucked it inside my bag, making sure it wouldn't fall out before dashing to the hospital wing. I opened the doors quickly, leaning against it to close it when I saw Harry, Hermione, and Ron all turn to look at me. "Tell me everything. Now." I said in a flat voice. Harry stared at me, a little guiltily, and I raised my eyebrows. "Harry James Potter, tell me the truth. What did you do tonight?" I said again, pushing myself off the door and walking towards him. "We were trying to save Sirius Black. He's innocent, Isabelle. And we did save him, but..." Harry faltered at the look on my face, which was probably pure ice. "So you didn't listen to me? I begged you not to go after him and you still went looking for a man that you knew was a convicted murderer that also wanted you dead?" I said, my voice rising with each word. "He's innocent, Isabelle!" Harry protested and I glared at him. "I know that, Harry! But that's not the point!" I yelled, and Harry stared at me in shock. "Wait, you know? How do you know?" He asked, more confused than suspicious. "He confronted me in the courtyard. I always had a feeling that he was more than the things people accused him of, and I was right. But that was just a feeling, Harry! I had no concrete proof until ten minutes ago, and neither did you! And I didn't go after him, YOU did! You could have died, Harry!" I yelled, tears filling my eyes. "I just got my brother back into my life, I can't lose you. Please, remember that you're not alone in the world, Harry. There are people who need you to come home at the end of the day." I choked out as Harry pulled me into a hug. He had learned quickly that the single best way to get me to calm down when I'm upset was to hold me and not let go. "I'm sorry. I should have listened. I'm sorry." Harry said, and I sniffed. "I've heard people say for ages how bloody thick in the head you are, I can't believe they were right." I mumbled, cracking a small smile when Harry chuckled at me.

---

"You'll write, yeah?" I said, looking at Harry sadly. He nodded, smiling. "Of course. But you're gonna come to stay at the Burrow this summer, right? Ron's dad might get tickets to the Quidditch World Cup, it sounds like it'll be amazing." I grinned, becoming more excited about the coming summer every time I thought about it. "Absolutely. I'll owl Ron and see what the plans are. Be safe, okay? Don't let our aunt and uncle get you down." I said, giving Harry a tight hug before waving goodbye to him and Ron and Hermione. I didn't take the train to or from Hogwarts, I just floo'd home with Dad. I walked back into the castle, waving to some of the stragglers that I recognized. I saw a familiar flash of platinum blonde and I smiled, stepping in time with him. "Hi, stranger." I murmured, and I saw Draco grin, immediately steering us down an abandoned corridor. "Well, you were right about Black." He said, and I smirked. "I'm always right, Draco. You need to get with the program." I teased, and he rolled his eyes. "Will you write me this summer?" I asked, my voice becoming more unsure. Draco pulled me into a hug, whispering "Yes" before kissing my cheek. I smiled softly, pulling back for a split second then kissing him. I thought that he was going to pull away, but he tightened his hold on my waist, kissing me slower and softer. When we finally broke apart, both of us were a little pink. "I won't be able to do that again until September, so it needed to be a good last kiss." Draco said quietly. I smiled, leaning up to peck his lips softly. "It was better than good." Draco hugged me one more time before grabbing his bag and heading out the front doors of the school. I watched him go and found myself reflecting on everything that had happened over the course of the year, and the more I thought, the more excited I got about all the things that are to come.

Chapter Text

After an eventful third year, Isabelle Potter returns to Hogwarts for her fourth year and is met with new obstacles: the Triwizard Tournament, strangers in her school, and familiar faces from her past. While juggling school and supporting her brother, she will have to navigate her secret relationship with her brother's worst enemy, Draco Malfoy, and nearly come face to face with the man who destroyed her world 13 years ago.

Chapter Text

The Burrow.

I had never gotten to see it before this summer, but I had heard endless stories about the infamous Weasley home. How it was falling apart in every possible way but still felt like the safest place on Earth. How you could be surrounded by people every moment you were there with no chance of peace and quiet, but you loved every second of it.

Except for now.

The air was heavy in the usually cheery home as we got our things together for school, still processing the events that had taken place at the Quidditch World Cup. The bodies, the screaming, the fires, and the giant skull and snake that someone had emblazoned in the night sky - a symbol I later learned was the Dark Mark. The symbol of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. "Are you okay?" I heard someone say from the doorway of Ginny's room and I jumped a little, turning to see Harry looking apologetic. I nodded, leaning against the dresser, looking at my half-packed trunk. "Yeah, for the most part. I just keep hearing the screams in my head." I said, twisting my fingers together nervously. Harry walked forward and hugged me gently, rubbing my back. "It's over. You don't have to think about it anymore. Let's just make this year a good one, yeah?" He said encouragingly, and I smiled. "Yeah, you're right. This year will be great."

I had no idea how wrong I was.

----

"Harry, wait up!" I laughed, running after my brother and giving him a one-armed hug as we hurried into the Great Hall. Tonight was the selection of the champions for the tournament, and the entire hall was buzzing. We took our seats quickly, eager to see who would be representing Hogwarts this time around. A tiny blonde pixie of a girl, Fleur Delacour, was named as the Beauxbatons champion, and the Bulgarian Quidditch hero Viktor Krum was chosen as the Durmstrang champion. Everyone waited with bated breath as the Goblet spat out the name of the Hogwarts' champion. Dumbledore caught the scrap of paper in the air and paused for a second before shouting "CEDRIC DIGGORY!" The Hufflepuff table burst into applause as Cedric made his way up to Dumbledore. Cedric and Dumbledore shook hands and Dumbledore clapped him hard on the shoulder before ushering him into a side hall. Dumbledore stepped forward and started to give his closing remarks, but fell silent when the Goblet began to start and sputter. The entire hall watched in confusion as it sparked bright red fire before spitting out another piece of parchment - another champion. Dumbledore grabbed it and read it carefully, before saying in disbelief, "Harry Potter." I gasped and looked at Harry, who was staring at Dumbledore. "HARRY POTTER!!!" Dumbledore roared, and Hermione pushed Harry to get up. "No way." Ron said, and I could hear the slightest trace of bitterness in his voice. I glanced at him and was shocked to see him staring at Harry with eyes full of anger. "Ron..." I said, reaching out to touch his arm but he got up quickly, joining the students who were beginning to exit the hall. Everywhere I looked, students were glancing over at me, whispering. I sighed, getting up and following the crowd, covertly stepping in time beside a certain blonde. "Hi, stranger." I murmured. Draco's hand slipped into mine and we quickly turned down an empty corridor, hiding in the shadows. "Did you know that was going to happen?" He said, his voice hard. I stared at him, a little taken aback. "No, of course not. I don't know how Harry even got his name in the Goblet - if he put it in there at all." Draco leaned back against the stone wall, shaking his head. "I've heard stories from my father about the tournament challenges. It's common for students to be maimed or killed in pursuit of the Triwizard Cup, which is why they only let the oldest students take part in it." I felt the color drain from my face as the reality of Harry's situation began to hit me. Draco saw this and quickly pulled me against him, his arms tight around me. "Just don't think about it, love. I'm sure Dumbledore will pull him out of the tournament. Diggory is the actual champion, anyway." I nodded absentmindedly, holding onto the front of his robes. It was hard to concentrate on what Draco was saying to me when he was holding me like this. Last year, he had had me in his arms just like this, dozens of times, but it had never made me feel like this. Warm and excited, like my skin was tingling wherever he set his hands. Strangely enough, I wanted his hands all over me, and the mere thought of it had my cheeks flushing deep pink. "Isabelle?" Draco said, snapping me out of my own thoughts. The way he said my name sparked something inside of me, and I bit my lip, the urge to have his lips on mine slowly overwhelming me. "Kiss me." I whispered, and Draco grinned, all too happy to oblige. Merlin, even his kisses felt different. Like all the air was being stolen from my lungs, but I never wanted him to stop. It burned in the best way possible. His lips moved fervently against mine and the world around us blurred for a moment. We were both a little breathless when we broke apart, and I stared at him, pleased to see that he was just as flustered and flushed as I felt. "Merlin...that was" "Wow." I finished for him, smiling shyly. "There's a Hogsmeade weekend coming up soon, fancy a walk down by the forest?" Draco asked, tracing small circles into my hips. I nodded, leaning up to kiss him softly, fighting back a smile. "I need to get to the Tower, gotta find Harry. I'll see you in class, Draco." I murmured, kissing his cheek before hurrying off towards Gryffindor Tower.

----

"DRAGONS!?" I said, wincing when Harry shushed me harshly. We were standing in the library, hidden between the shelves. "The first challenge is dragons? Are you kidding me?" I said in disbelief, my eyes widening when Harry shook his head. "I saw them with my own eyes. Hagrid showed me. There's one for each of us. Apparently, they had to improvise after the Goblet spat out my name as well as the other three. I still don't have a strategy for how to take on this challenge." Harry said, and I grabbed his hand, squeezing reassuringly. "We can figure this out, don't worry." I said, picking up the books I was checking out and heading with Harry towards the exit. I was rummaging around in my bag for something, half listening to Harry, when I collided with something very solid and very warm. My books tumbled out of my arms and I cursed quietly, dropping to the ground to pick them up. The person I crashed into knelt down as well, mumbling apologies in an odd accent. I looked up to see who I had run into, and my heart stopped. Dark blue eyes fringed by sandy brown hair, and a sprinkling of freckles - a face I knew all too well. "Isabelle?" The boy said with an American accent, a Southern one. "Michael?" I whispered, almost unable to believe it. We stood up, and I was shocked to see that he was nearly a head and a half taller than me. The scrawny little boy I had secretly crushed on for two years at Ilvermorny was standing in front of me, more handsome than ever, and he was staring at me like I was made of gold. "Isabelle, who's this?" Harry said in an even voice, but I could tell that he was suspicious and annoyed. "Harry, this is Michael. We went to Ilvermorny together. W-Why are you here, exactly?" I said, looking up at him and trying to fight back that old fluttery feeling. "A little group of us are staying here as exchange students this year. It'll be nice having a familiar face around here." He said, handing me my book and smiling. "It was nice meeting you, Harry. I'll see you around, Isabelle." He said, winking at me. I nodded silently, staring after him as he left. The boy that I had practically lusted after for two whole years shows up right when I get into a happy, exclusive relationship - this year just got a whole lot more complicated.

Chapter Text

As the weeks wore on, having Michael and his Ilvermorny crew around Hogwarts proved to be even worse than I thought it would be. Although it was nice having a few old friends at my new school, it was putting a strain on an already unsteady relationship. Draco wasn't an idiot - he could see the way that Michael looked at me, the way he talked to me. He picked up on Michael's intentions very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that the first Hogsmeade weekend, Draco questioned me about it during our walk.

"So, I bet you're glad to have your old school friends here." Draco said casually as we strolled near the forest's edge, our hands intertwined. "I suppose so. Honestly, it's a bit odd, I didn't think I'd ever see them again after I left Ilvermorny." I said, shrugging. Draco nodded, appearing to give his next sentence some thought before he spoke. "That Michael bloke...he seems especially friendly." I stared at Draco, almost unable to believe my ears. "Draco, are you jealous?" I said, grinning. Draco scowled, staring straight ahead. "No, I'm not jealous. I'm just saying that he's getting overly close to a taken woman." I snickered, covering my mouth as I tried to hold back my laughs. "Look, Draco, do you want to know the truth?" Draco stopped walking and turned to look at me expectantly. "I had a thing for Michael when I was at Ilvermorny. I won't deny that. But it never went anywhere because he wasn't interested in me - he ignored all of my advances so I eventually gave up. I promise you, I have no interest in him now, mostly because I have a pretty amazing boyfriend." I said teasingly, wrapping my arms around Draco's neck. Draco grinned and looped his arms around my waist, smirking down at me. "Alright love, I believe you. And I trust you, don't doubt that for a second. It's that American idiot I don't trust." He grumbled. I rolled my eyes and leaned up, pressing my lips to his gently. "You have nothing to worry about. I don't want him. I want you." I saw something flicker in Draco's eyes when I said that and he kissed me again, but it was the same kiss he gave me the night of the Champion selection. One that made me crave him in a way I've never felt before. Before we could get too carried away, we heard the bells chiming up inside the castle, signaling that the Hogsmeade visit was nearing its end. "Time to go. I need to help Harry research that damn egg anyway." I said, kissing Draco one last time before heading back towards the village, and I saw Draco head back as well, but in a different direction. I sighed, trying to not look too downcast. It was hard not being able to show our affection in public, but I tried not to think about it - I had bigger problems to worry about. Harry had miraculously survived his encounter with the Hungarian Horntail in the First Task but now was left with a screeching golden egg and no clue as to what awaited him in the Second Task.

As I began to rejoin the groups of students traipsing back up towards the castle, I heard my friends calling out to me. Rosie and Elinor grabbed both of my arms, their faces excited. "Isabelle, where have you been? The most exciting thing happened!" Rosie said, and I raised my eyebrows. "I was doing some window shopping. What in the world are you talking about, though?" I said, glancing over at Elinor, who surprisingly looked just as flushed as Rosie. "That gorgeous exchange student from Ilvermorny, Michael, he found us and was asking about you! I think he's really taken a shine to you, Isa!" Rosie teased, and I blushed furiously, waving her off. I was groaning inside, but for some reason, my heart fluttered at the idea of Michael trying to seek me out and spend time with me. I shook my head, trying to rid myself of these thoughts. "He's old news, girls. I liked him at Ilvermorny but nothing ever happened. He just saw that this year I don't have frizzy hair and crooked teeth anymore." I laughed, dragging my friends back up to the castle, trying to shove the blue-eyed boy out of my mind.

----

Of course, all my efforts to stop thinking about Michael were pretty much in vain. He was in a good chunk of my classes, and even though we lived in a huge castle, I seemed to see him everywhere I went. His flirting grew more and more obvious as the weeks went on, especially after news of the upcoming Yule Ball was announced. Rosie and Elinor seemed convinced that he was going to ask me to the ball, but I brushed them off every time they mentioned it. I was trying desperately to push the idea of being Michael's date out of my mind because I shouldn't be thinking about it in the first place. I was with Malfoy, even though it was a total secret. Of course, thinking about Malfoy and the Yule Ball made me even more frustrated. I wanted nothing more than to walk into the party proudly on Malfoy's arm, but I couldn't. People already hated Harry for being in this tournament in the first place - what would they do if they found out his twin sister was a "traitor"? He would be ridiculed, and I didn't want to make his life any more stressful than it already was. But if Draco couldn't ask me, that left the field wide open for Michael to swoop in and invite me to the ball.

Thankfully, for whatever reason held him back, Michael was too late. After Transfiguration one afternoon, Neville caught up to me, his cheeks flushed. "Hey, Isabelle, I, um, I wanted to...to...to ask you something." He said, stuttering a little. I stopped and hitched my bag back over my shoulder, smiling warmly at Neville. "Sure, Nev. What's up?" I said, and Neville appeared to take a deep breath before speaking. "Would, ah, would you like to...y'know, go to the, um, ball with m-me?" He said shakily. I blinked in shock for a second before smiling widely and nodding. "Of course! I'd love to go with you, Neville." This clearly took him by surprise because his eyes went wide and he shook his head a little. "Wait, really?" I grinned, giggling a little. "Yes, really. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather go with. I have to get to the library, but I'll see you later, yeah?" I said, giving Neville a quick hug before heading off, smiling to myself. That was one problem solved, at least. I get to spend a whole night dancing with one of my friends, instead of a boy who could make my life incredibly complicated.

----

I slammed the book cover shut, sighing heavily and running a hand through my hair. "Something on your mind?" I heard a deep voice say. I looked up and felt my traitorous heart skip a beat when I saw Michael leaning against the shelf, looking down at me amusedly. I blushed lightly, shaking my head and replacing the book on its shelf. "No, I'm alright. Sorry if I was making a lot of noise." Michael chuckled, shaking his head. "You're fine, Isabelle. I saw how frustrated you looked and wanted to know if I could help with anything." I hesitated for a second before pulling him a little deeper into the shelves. "It's about the egg that everyone had to get in the first challenge. You've heard about it, right?" Michael cringed, and I knew he probably had heard the actual egg's sound from the look on his face. He had been inducted into Cedric Diggory's circle of friends, and they had apparently become quite the pair of buddies. It wouldn't surprise me if he had been privileged to hear the egg when Cedric opened it for the first time. "Exactly. Harry deafened the entire common room when he opened it for us. The clue for the next challenge has to be hidden in there, so I've been trying to find a way to make the screeching make sense. And of course, I've come up empty." I said with a final huff, crossing my arms. Michael was smiling down at me, and I raised my eyebrows. "Something funny, Michael?" He shook his head, and the look in his eyes made my cheeks turn pink. "No. I just didn't really believe the whole Potter loyalty thing until now. Everyone's told me that you and your brother are like peas in a pod, but I thought they were exaggerating. You really want to help him, don't you? Maybe I could try to help you too." I nodded, looking at him a little suspiciously. "I don't mean to sound rude, but you're practically best friends with the actual Hogwarts champion, and I'm related to the other champion so I'm technically your competition. Why are you talking to me about this?" Michael shook his head, looking down at me seriously. "They're both representing Hogwarts, and I'm supposed to root for the school that's hosting me and my friends. While it would be great for Cedric to win and be the Triwizard champion, it would be alright if Harry won. If either of them, Hogwarts wins." I hesitated for a second before handing him a book and taking him over to a deserted table that I had already left littered with various books. "Let's get started, then." I said, sitting down and opening yet another dusty, ancient book.

I closed what felt like the hundredth book I'd read and rubbed at my eyes, looking over at Michael, who was still immersed in his own book. "Michael, let's call it a day. I'm pretty sure we've missed dinner, and I still have homework to finish." Michael looked up from his book and over towards the window, his eyes widening in surprise when he saw the sunset beginning to fade from the sky. "Merlin, how long have we been in here? Time flies, I suppose. Have you found anything?" I shook my head, huffing in frustration. "It's impossible, I swear. Merlin, I just want to forget that my stupid brother got himself involved in this death trap tournament. I'd give anything to be at the oceanside right now." Michael smiled at me amusedly, leaning back in his chair and gazing at me. "You like the beach?" I nodded, smiling dreamily as thoughts of cool, salty water and warm sand filled my head. "Yeah, I escape there a few times every summer with some of my muggle friends. When they're not looking I cast a bubble head charm and swim around under the water. It's so peaceful, everything is muffled and...wait...that's it!!" I yelled excitedly, earning some glares from nearby students. Michael looked at me in alarm, jumping a little at my exclamation. "What?" He asked, and I pulled him forward excitedly, whispering. "Water muffles sound! I think if you listen to the egg underwater, you might be able to make some sense of the screeching!" I said excitedly, and a wide grin spread across Michael's face. "That's brilliant! You're brilliant, Isabelle!" I smiled, laughing a little in relief, then blushing when I realized how close our faces were. Michael realized this too and drew back, clearing his throat. "I, ah, I think I know the perfect way to do this. Do you...do you mind if I tell Cedric about this? He mentioned having a plan for the egg, but I just want to give him a backup option in case his idea doesn't work out." I nodded, smiling softly. "That's a great idea. I'm sure he'll appreciate the help as much as Harry."

I stood up and slung on my bag, stacking the books and carrying them back to the shelf, when I heard Michael call my name softly behind me. I turned to see him hurrying over, looking confident but his body language told me he was nervous. "Yes?" I said, putting up the last book and smiling at him. He took a breath, and he was visibly more relaxed. "I was wondering since we're 4th years if you'd agreed to go to the Yule Ball with anyone yet." He asked, his hands shoved in his pockets. I felt my heart begin to beat faster, and I wasn't sure if it was from nervousness or attraction. "Michael, I" "I just think we could have a really fun time together, and you won't regret it, I promise." He said, taking my hand in his. I stared at it for a moment, my heart beating erratically. If I hadn't met Draco last year, this would be going so differently. I would say yes without a second thought and spend hours picking out the perfect dress for my perfect date. But now, my heart belonged to someone else, even though the little voice in the back of my mind was screaming at me to take a chance on Michael. "Michael, I'm so flattered that you asked me. But I'm sorry, someone else already asked me to go with them. And I said yes." I said, looking up into Michael's face, watching his blue eyes become sad. "But I'll save you a dance, I promise." I said without thinking, and my mind screamed at me in disbelief. "That sounds great. I'll be waiting for that dance." Michael said, leaning down to kiss my cheek before making his way out of the library. I let my hand drift up to my cheek, feeling the spot his lips had touched. "What the hell is wrong with me?" I muttered, walking out of the library slowly as guilt and confusion washed over me. Suddenly, the Yule Ball wasn't all that fun.

Chapter Text

"Are you out of your mind? NEVILLE?"

I shushed Rosie, getting more annoyed by the second. We had followed a large group of girls down to Hogsmeade a few weekends before the ball to find dress robes to wear, and my friends had taken it as an opportunity to berate me about accepting Neville's invitation to the ball. "You really turned down Michael Shepard, the beautiful boy from America, for Neville Longbottom? Did you fall off your brother's broom or something?" Rosie said, holding up a black dress and studying it critically. I rolled my eyes, sitting down on a puffy stool. "Rosie, I don't want to go with Michael. I'd much rather have a fun night than a night where I have to worry about being perfect." I said, hoping I sounded convincing. "I've got to agree with Rosie this time, Isabelle. Neville is a really nice boy, but Michael is so...gods, yes." Elinor said, stepping out of the dressing room in a floor-length red dress. "Will you two just drop it? I'm going with Neville and that's that. Also, Ellie, you HAVE to get that one, it looks stunning!" I gushed, smiling at my gorgeous best friend. "Are you getting that blue one?" Rosie asked, examining her black dress in the mirror, earning claps from Elinor and me. "Yeah, I read somewhere that blue is good with black hair, so I'm getting that dress." I said, smiling as I looked at my dress hanging on the dressing room door. Soon, we all had outfits picked out, and when we paid for them, the shopkeeper said they would be in our dorms when we got back to the school, hemmed and fitted to perfection.

"Did you at least, I don't know, promise him a few dances or something?" Rosie said, exasperated as we parted ways with Elinor and climbed the stairs up to Gryffindor Tower. I sighed, keeping my gaze forward. "Yes, I promised him a dance. He's my friend, Rosie." I said, and I didn't have to look at my friend to know that she was smirking. "You like him..." She said in a sing-song voice, and she didn't let it go the rest of the night, much to my discomfort.

----

I stood in the mirror, tucking a long, silky lock of hair behind my ear, biting my lip. Hermione fastened the delicate golden chain of my mother's pendant around my neck and smiled at me, stepping back. "You look incredible, Isabelle. You have nothing to be nervous about." I smiled at her, taking a deep breath. "I know. I just don't want to trip and fall in front of all of Hogwarts. And Durmstrang. And Beauxbatons." I said, giggling with Hermione. She slipped on her shoes, standing up straight. "How do I look?" I grinned and strapped on my heels as well, nodding at her. "Bloody beautiful! Viktor is going to die when he sees you." I said, and Hermione blushed. "Well, let's hope that doesn't happen." I giggled and grabbed my wrap, standing up and walking towards the door. "You finish your makeup, and I'll meet you there, yeah?" Hermione nodded and I blew her a kiss, walking down the stairs to the Common Room.

I met Harry and Ron at the bottom of the stairs and had to hold back a laugh. Harry looked quite smart in his dress robes, but Ron looked like a molting bird. "Wow, Isabelle, you look fantastic!" Harry said, hugging me. I laughed and hugged him back, smiling. "Thanks, Harry. You don't look too bad yourself!" I pulled away and turned to Ron, giving him what I hoped was a sympathetic look. He was pulling at the cuffs and collar of his robes, which were frayed and slowly becoming worse. "Ron, please, stop." I said, pulling my wand from the sewn in pocket. I began to move it over his robes slowly, stitching it up and removing the slightly musty odor and yellow tinge. "You're a lifesaver, Isabelle." He said gratefully, brushing himself off and checking his reflection in a snowy window. "Just promise me you'll get a new set of dress robes one day." I laughed, turning back to Harry. "Your tie is crooked, love." I said, beginning to straighten it. "I'm sorry about Cho." I said softly. Harry shrugged, fixing a button on his shirt. "It happens. I'll have fun with Pavarti. And speaking of dates, don't let Neville try any funny stuff tonight." He said threateningly. I rolled my eyes, giggling and letting go of his bowtie. "Oh please. Neville is a gentleman. And I'm already late to meet him, so if you two will excuse me." I said, waving at Harry and Ron as I hurried through the portrait hole and out of Gryffindor Tower.

As I walked through the corridors towards the Great Hall humming to myself, I heard a hiss from an opposite corridor. I looked and saw a figure in black and green dress robes, and giggled. "My, I wonder who could be in here..." I trailed off, walking towards the sound. Draco stepped out of the shadows, grinning, but his smile disappeared when he saw me. "Merlin..." He said in a low voice, taking in my appearance. "No, Isabelle." I corrected him, giggling and pecking him lightly. Draco rolled his eyes and pulled me closer, running a hand through my hair. "You look beautiful." He said quietly, and I flushed. "You don't look too bad yourself." I murmured, holding onto the lapels of his robes. Draco smirked and kissed my forehead, looking down at me. "I need to send flowers to whoever made this dress." I giggled and stepped back, doing a little twirl for him. The midnight blue gown swept down to my feet, hugging my slender form but it went loose at my waist all the way to the floor and was held up by two sheer cap sleeves. I brushed a wavy lock of hair over my shoulder, smiling up at Draco. "You really like it?" Draco nodded, placing his hands on my hips. "I wish I was the one who gets to hold you like this all night instead of Longbottom." He grumbled. I rolled my eyes and played with Draco's bow tie. "Draco, we talked about this. I" But Draco cut me off and pulled me into the shadows as a few giggling students ran past us, almost catching us.

"That was close." I murmured as Draco held me against him in the darkness. He looked down at me, nodding, and I could feel his heart beating faster. "Yeah." He muttered, the tension in the air palpable. "I have a surprise for you after the ball," I said, thinking of the Christmas present I had arranged for Draco. "Meet me outside the main doors once the ball is over, okay?" Draco nodded and I smiled at him, adjusting his bowtie one last time. "C'mon, handsome. Pansy and Neville are waiting." I said, kissing Draco softly. Draco ran a hand through my hair, kissing me back lovingly before letting me go and pushing me along towards the hall.

I walked down the staircase, blushing slightly when I heard the small noises of awe as I descended. I spotted Neville and walked over, smiling brightly at him. "Hi, Nev! You look wonderful!" I said, leaning up to kiss his cheek. Neville blushed, stuttering a bit. "Y-You look g-great, Isabelle. B-Beautiful, I mean." I giggled and smiled up at him, taking his hand and walking into the Great Hall. "You're so sweet, Neville. I, oh wow!" I gasped, looking around in shock at the winter wonderland that the Great Hall had been transformed into. The entire room seemed to be literally made of ice, but enchanted so that we didn't slip and wipe out on the crystalline floor. Sparkling icicles hung from the ceiling, and tiny snowflakes drifted lazily down towards the crowd but evaporated into thin air before they touched us. Everything emitted a cool, icy blue glow that illuminated the entire hall - it was like you had been thrust into a dazzling kingdom of ice and snow. "It's so beautiful." I murmured, gazing at my surroundings.

We watched as the champions made their way in, and I tried not to giggle as Harry and Pavarti had their first dance. "D-Didn't you help him?" Neville whispered as we watched and I shook my head. "Tried to help. I did what I could, it was up to him to practice." I said, shrugging. Neville looked towards the floor and saw that other couples were beginning to make their way out to dance. He turned to me and, quite gallantly, offered his hand. "Would you like to dance?" He said in a surprisingly steady voice, and I smiled. "I'd love to." I said, and we made our way out onto the shining ice. As we began to step in time to the music, I was taken aback by Neville's smooth footwork. "I didn't know you could dance, Neville!" I said, pleasantly surprised. Neville shrugged, his cheeks flushing a little. "I've been practicing, took some pointers from other students." He said, a little embarrassed. "You're marvelous, Neville. And please, just relax. I'm having a great time with you." I said reassuringly, squeezing his hand a little. This seemed to calm him a little, and we began to dance more freely, laughing.

Towards the end of the night, another slow song came on. Neville and I were sitting at a table, taking a breather while the other students swayed along to the beat. I had successfully managed to avoid Michael the whole night, and for a moment, I thought that he might have forgotten about our promised dance - I thought wrong. "Isabelle?" My heart dropped at the familiar voice and I looked up, my throat tightening when I saw Michael standing there, looking devastatingly handsome. His hair had been combed back, and he wore black dress robes that looked a little more modern than what the other boys here wore. "I believe I have a dance saved for you?" He said, holding out his hand and smiling at me. I looked over and Neville and hesitated for a second before placing my hand over his. "I won't be gone long, okay?"

Michael led me out onto the dance floor, and I prayed to the gods that Draco wasn't watching. "You look incredible, Isabelle. Really, you do." Michael said, and I felt my cheeks go pink. "Thank you, Michael. You don't look so bad yourself. Did Cedric appreciate your help with the egg clue?" I asked, and Michael shook his head. "No, someone already helped him figure it out before I could talk to him. He wouldn't tell me who, though." Michael said shrugging, and before I could ask him anything he spun me out, making me gasp and squeal a little. "You're quite the dancer." I laughed, very aware of how close Michael had pulled me now. "I've had some practice. I've actually had practice with a lot of things." Michael murmured, staring at me intently. My breath caught in my throat and I found myself unable to speak, which Michael apparently took as his prime opportunity. He leaned down and captured my lips in a kiss, making my heart completely stop. It was a full five seconds before I pulled away, my eyes wide. "Michael, why did you" "I'm crazy about you, Isabelle." He said, and I let go of a breath I didn't know I was holding in. "You're what?" I said, my voice barely a whisper. "When I saw you in the library, I don't know, it just triggered something in me. I didn't see you clearly until this year. I really, really like you, Isabelle." Michael said, holding my face tenderly. My heart was hammering out of my damn chest. I could barely breathe, barely speak. "Michael...I...no." I said, surprising myself with the strength in my voice. "W-What?" Michael said, a little shocked. "You're too late, Michael. I'm sorry." I said, my mind battling back and forth between the urge to run the other way and the urge to kiss him in front of everyone. "You just...I can't. I'm...sorry, Michael." I said, hurrying back towards Neville, leaving Michael dazed and confused on the dance floor. I heard the clocktower begin to chime, and I knew that I needed to get to Draco's and my meeting spot soon. "Neville, I'm really tired. Would you mind if I cut out a little early?" I said when I made it back to our table. Neville nodded, his face a little concerned. "Sure, that's fine. Do you need me to walk you back?" I shook my head, smiling at him. "No, but you're sweet. I'll be fine, Nev. Thanks for everything, I had an amazing time." I said, leaning down to kiss his cheek before grabbing my black wrap and walking out of the Great Hall, eager to find Draco and put Michael out of my mind.

----

I pulled my black wrap tighter around me as the snow fell gently across the castle grounds. I looked at the large clock tower, suddenly nervous that Draco wasn't going to show.

"I thought I was going to have to kill that boy."

I turned and smiled at the handsome boy walking towards me. "Don't worry, Neville is a sweet thing, but he's not my type." I said, and my smile melted away when I saw that Draco's face was colder than the snow that surrounded us. His eyes, which were always a warm cloudy gray when he looked at me were their normal steely flint shade again, and I could see that he was clenching his jaw - he was really, really angry. "I'm not talking about Longbottom." Draco said, standing in front of me with his hands in his pockets, but I could tell that they were balled into fists. I sighed, closing my eyes. "Draco, I didn't ask for Michael to kiss me. He just did it. I swear, I told him it wasn't okay and he apologized. Please believe me." I said, a small shiver running through me. Draco face softened when he noticed how exposed I was and he immediately took off his long dress coat, placing it over my shoulders and pulling my body against his. "Love, you're shaking! Why were you waiting out here?" He said, kissing my forehead lightly. I blushed and gestured towards an empty patch of snow, smiling at Draco. "Consider it my Christmas present to you." He raised an eyebrow, his face confused. "Ah, love, I think you may have been outside a bit too long." I giggled and started pulling him over into the snow, smiling when we passed through the barrier. "Isa...what is this?" Draco said, gesturing to the small tent in front of us. "My present to you. Some extremely needed alone time." I murmured, playing with his shirt collar. Draco looked at the structure, his eyes skeptical. "Well, it's a tad small for the both of us, I think." I grinned and pulled him to the entrance, undoing the flap and guiding him inside. Draco's eyes widened when he saw the spacious room in front of him. "How...how in the name of Merlin..." Draco said, looking around the room in awe. I giggled and closed the flap, sealing out the cold. "Merry Christmas, Draco." I said softly, walking towards him, letting the heavy coat fall off my shoulders as I went. "We really have the entire night to ourselves?" He said, grinning and placing his hands on my hips.

"Really. The whole night." I said, my arms snaking around his neck. Draco hummed in appreciation and leaned down to kiss me, his hands caressing my sides. I sighed and kissed him back, playing with the hair at the nape of his neck. "Isabelle." Draco said when we broke apart. "We don't have to do anything tonight, I just want to make that clear. I'm happy to just fall asleep with you." I giggled at his sweet words, playing with his bow tie. "Draco?" He looked at me, his eyes betraying everything he had just said. "Yeah?" "Shut up." I whispered, pulling off his bow tie and kissing him hard.

----

The early morning light shone dimly through the fabric of the tent, making my eyes open sleepily. I tilted my head up and memories of the previous night rushed back to me when I saw Draco's peacefully sleeping face. I didn't want to move, but I knew that we had to get back to the castle soon. "Draco..." I murmured, brushing my fingers across his chest lightly. He stirred, but his eyes didn't open. I rolled my eyes and brushed my lips across his jaw, whispering in his ear. "Draco, we need to get up." Draco groaned, his arm tightening around my waist. "No, stay..." He mumbled and I giggled, getting up and slipping quickly into a spare set of clothes I had hidden in a chest, moving with haste because of the morning chill seeping into the tent. "You look bloody perfect." Draco said behind me, and I snorted. My hair was a mess, and I was hopping around in just an oversized jumper, panties, and kneesocks. "You're ridiculous." I laughed, tossing him a pile of clothes. "And you're gorgeous." He replied, dressing as quickly as I had when he realized how chilly it was outside of the bed. Once we were dressed I packed everything quickly and we exited the tent, Draco looking extremely impressed when I shrunk the tent down to the size of a tissue and stuffed it into my pocket. "Beautiful and brilliant, I hit the jackpot." Draco said, grinning at me. I laughed, coming over to hug him. "Last night was" He began but I cut him off with a kiss. "I know." I said softly, smiling at him. Draco was a man of his word; we hadn't done anything that I wasn't comfortable with. However, my limits didn't stop us from discovering where Draco and I liked to be touched - everywhere.

"The castle is going to be waking up soon, we need to get back to our dorms." I said, almost sounding like I was trying to convince myself to be torn away from Draco's hold and the kisses he kept pressing to my lips. "How can I let go of you now that I've finally gotten a taste of you?" He murmured, and I shivered but not from the snow falling around us. "And I, you. But really, Draco, if any of the professors see us out here, especially my father..." I trailed off, and that seemed to snap Draco back to reality. I almost giggled at how fast he dragged us back towards the castle. "I'll see you in class, yeah?" He said, giving me one last kiss before heading off towards the dungeons. I sighed, smiling dreamily and humming as I hurried back to Gryffindor Tower.

Chapter Text

"You're looking lovely today, Isabelle."

I rolled my eyes, eating a little more of my oatmeal in silence. "Come on Isabelle, you can't ignore me forever." Michael said, sitting next to me. "Shouldn't you be at the Ravenclaw table? They are your host house after all." I said sharply. "Last time I checked, this tournament was about inter-school unity and inter-house unity. So let's...unify." Michael said, and I didn't have to look at him to know he was smirking. I let out a groan, setting down my spoon and lifting my gaze up, and I felt my blood run cold when I saw Draco staring at Michael and me with a murderous look in his eyes. "Michael, look, we can't date. We just can't. I know you like me" "And you obviously like me so what is holding you back?" Michael interrupted, clearly getting frustrated. "Because..." I said, hesitating. His gaze held mine, and I felt my heart start to beat a little faster. "Stop that." I thought to myself, trying to find a reason why Michael and I shouldn't date since I obviously couldn't reveal my relationship with Draco. I looked towards the doors, and nearly jumped for joy when I saw Rosie and Ellie walking in. "Because my friend likes you, and I don't want to hurt her by going after you when I know how she feels about you." Michael followed my gaze, and he raised his eyebrows. "Which one of them likes me?" He said, and I sighed internally - it was working. "The blonde girl in the Gryffindor uniform. Her name is Rosamund but we call her Rosie. She's a total sweetheart, and really smart. Just talk to her, I know you'll like her." I said, smiling at Michael and hoping I sounded convincing. Michael hesitated for a second before nodding, getting up and meeting Rosie halfway from where I sat. She looked totally shocked for a split second, but I saw her turn on her trademark flirt almost immediately. I glanced over at the Slytherin table and smiled when I saw Draco looking at me, his gaze softer than before. I winked at him before turning to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione walking into the hall, all of them looking worried.

"What happened to you guys? You look like you've been stunned." I teased gently but I became concerned when I didn't get even a chuckle out of them. "Okay, you're scaring me, what's going on?" I asked, and Harry was the first to speak. "Crouch is out of the competition. He won't be judging the Third Task anymore." I raised my eyebrows, confused about why this was important news. Truthfully, after watching my brother and two of my best friends nearly drown in the Second Task, I wasn't too keen on this damn tournament anymore. I was tired of having to watch Harry nearly die, but according to Ron and Hermione, near-death experiences were the norm for Harry. "Why isn't he judging? Did he try to rig the competition or something?" Harry shook his head, and Hermione spoke up. "He stunned Krum." I whipped my head around to look at her, shocked. "He WHAT? Why?" Harry shrugged, shaking his head. "No one knows. They think he just snapped. Came out of the Forbidden Forest looking completely dazed, so I went to get Dumbledore to help him. When I came back Crouch had stunned Krum and left." I stared at Harry in disbelief, almost unable to believe it. "Has Krum come to? Does he remember anything before Crouch attacked him?" Harry shook his head again, and I bit my lip, taking his hand in mine. "Please, Harry, watch your back from now on. This tournament is dangerous enough without having people trying to take you down outside of the challenges." Harry nodded, giving me a small side hug. "I've lived through the past three years here, I don't plan on biting it yet." He said jokingly, and I tried to relax, but I was still on edge. I had a bad feeling about the Third Task...

----

The Third Task had started without a hitch, all four champions charging into the maze in search of the Triwizard Cup. But things had gone downhill quickly, and the champions had started dropping like flies. And there was no indication that anyone had found the cup yet, much less my brother. "Shouldn't they be back by now? At least one of them?" I said, looking at the entrance to the maze worriedly. "They're fine. They're probably just still trying to find the cup." Ron said confidently, and I frowned, looking at Krum and Fleur, who were both recovering with their classmates. They had both looked completely exhausted, dazed, and slightly traumatized when they were transported out of the maze, which only made me more worried about Harry. He and Cedric had been in the maze for an hour now, with no signs of a return. "It can't be long now, they went in quite a while ago." Hermione said, squeezing my hand reassuringly.

Suddenly, there was a loud pop and Harry and Cedric landed on the ground, the Triwizard Cup held tightly in Harry's hand. The entire crowd erupted in cheers, the Gryffindors screaming the loudest. But the screams began to die down, however, when the teachers began swarming around Harry and Cedric, trying to pull Harry off of him. I heard Harry's cries and I knew something was terribly, terribly wrong. "Keep everyone in their seats! A boy's just been killed." Fudge said to McGonagall, and everyone gasped in horror. Cedric had been killed in the maze. "He's back! He's back! Voldemort's back! He killed Cedric, I couldn't leave him!" Harry sobbed, and my blood turned to absolute ice. Ron and Hermione looked at me in alarm, and I held onto them tightly, almost afraid to move. Tears filled my eyes when Amos Diggory began to fight his way through the crowd to get to Cedric, wailing in anguish when he dropped to his knees in front of his son. The entire crowd, all three schools, were completely silent. No one knew what to say or what to do - we all just stood in silent sadness, most of us starting to cry as the realization washed over us that one of the Hogwarts champions was dead. I saw Mad-Eye dragging Harry away from the scene and I moved to follow him. I watched as Mad-Eye helped Harry up into the castle, and I stopped for a moment, confused. Mad-Eye was limping far less than usual - definitely not enough for someone who had a fake leg.

"Isabelle, there you are." I turned to see Dad and Dumbledore walking towards me, their faces solemn. "How are you doing, love?" Dad said, pulling me into a hug. "I'm okay, Dad. Really, I'm just worried about Harry. And..." I trailed off, looking at the castle. Dumbledore raised an eyebrow, gesturing for me to go on. "Mad-Eye looked...normal. I mean, he wasn't limping like usual and he kept looking around a lot like he was nervous. And he had Harry with him." Dad and Dumbledore exchanged a glance, and then Dumbledore set off towards the castle in a run. "Isabelle, find Granger and the Weasley boy. Don't follow us. I promise you, Harry will be okay." Dad kissed the top of my head before hurrying after Dumbledore, and I was more concerned and confused than ever. "Isabelle, come on. We're all...going back to the Tower." I turned to see Hermione walking up to me, sniffing and wiping at her eyes. I grabbed her hand as Ron came up and wrapped his arm around my shoulders, walking slowly back towards the school with them as students began to file out of the stadium in shocked silence. No one knew what to say, we only knew to try and comfort each other however we could.

----

"So you're not into him?" I said to Rosie as we walked into the courtyard. She shook her head, frowning. "I thought I was, but the more we talked, I realized that Michael and I have practically nothing in common. It's tragic, really." She said dramatically and I giggled, surprised at the sound. These past few weeks, what with Cedric's death and funeral, and finding out we had been taking Defense Against the Dark Arts classes from an imposter, there were few reasons to laugh. It felt good to be doing it again. The courtyard was filled with students from all three schools saying goodbye to each other, promising to keep in touch. Rosie left my side to say goodbye to a few girls from Beauxbatons and I hung back, watching the students bid their farewells. I felt someone grab my arm and I gasped as they pulled me into an empty alcove, hidden away from the prying eyes of students. I looked up and my mouth fell open when I saw Michael, a cheeky grin on his face. "I had to say goodbye, didn't I?" He said, and I smacked his chest. "Yeah, but you could have done it in the courtyard instead of scaring me half to death." I said, trying to fight the smile on my face. "I can't say this goodbye in front of everyone else." He said quietly, and before I could question him, his lips were on mine. I was frozen for a moment, completely shocked, but for some reason, my body didn't listen to the voice of reason in my head, and I began to kiss him back. His hands pulled me closer and I slid mine up into his hair as he deepened the kiss. When we broke apart, both out of breath, I stared at him and knew that this was it. The way Michael kissed me was nothing like when I kissed Draco. When Michael kissed me, it was exciting and wild and forbidden. When Draco kissed me, it was safe and warm and familiar - it was exactly what I needed. "I just needed" "To know what it felt like." I finished for him, nodding with a small smile on my face. "I know. I did too. And as wonderful as that was, there really is someone else in my life, Michael. And I love him." I said, and Michael gave me a sad smile. "He's a lucky guy to have you, Isabelle. I'll miss you. Take care of yourself." He said, and I hugged him gently, smiling when he pecked my forehead before heading towards the courtyard, joining his Ilvermorny friends. I leaned back against the stone, taking a deep breath before heading back out into the sea of students, smiling when I saw Harry. "Hey, you." I said, linking arms with him. Harry smiled down at me and we began to walk away from the noisy crowd. "You say goodbye to your friends?" He asked, and I blushed slightly. "Yeah, I did." Harry raised his eyebrows but didn't question my reaction. I watched the students as we walked, and something seemed different in the way they talked and acted around one another - like they were afraid. "Nothing's going to be the same anymore, is it?" I said quietly, and Harry wrapped an arm around my shoulders. "No, it isn't. But we're gonna be okay, you know that, right?" I smiled and nodded, seeing Hermione and Ron heading towards us. Things weren't going to be safe or easy from here on out, that much was perfectly obvious. But with Harry, Hermione, and Ron at my side, I knew that we would make it through whatever Voldemort could throw at us.

Chapter Text

Voldemort is back. The world refuses to believe it, but Isabelle Potter knows for certain that the evilest villain the Wizarding World has ever faced has returned. Returning to start her fifth year at Hogwarts, Isabelle is faced with a power-hungry professor, her deepening relationship with Draco Malfoy, and the enormous task of building an army to fight back against those who would try to destroy her world.

Chapter Text

I cast a Silencing Charm around my room, praying that my practice had paid off and that it worked this time. Once I was satisfied, I locked my door and sat on the bed, watching the tiny silver cup that sat in the center of my room. After a few moments it began to shake and glow slightly, and then Draco appeared, staggering a little before regaining his balance. "You're really here." I said, my voice barely above a breath as I stood. Draco grinned and came over, drawing me into his chest and hugging me tightly. "I told you it would work. You're too brilliant for it not to." I blushed, hiding my face in his jumper and hugging him tighter. "Happy Birthday, love." Draco murmured, and I looked up to see him gazing down at me, giving me a look that made my knees go all wobbly. "Isn't your dad home?" He said, glancing nervously towards the door and I giggled. "No, he's out. Something about an order? I don't really remember. Either way, we won't be interrupted tonight." I said, and Draco grinned.

"I got you a present." Draco said, pulling a small piece of paper out of his pocket. "I had to go talk to Muggles for this, so be proud of me." He joked as we sat on my bed. I laughed as I opened it, reading it carefully and feeling my eyes go wide. "You named a star after me?" I said in disbelief. Draco nodded, a proud smile on his face. "I did. I bet we could find it if we looked, it's a pretty clear sky tonight." I rushed over to the window, looking down at the little chart on the paper and then examining the inky black sky that was dotted with diamond-like stars. "Right...there." Draco said, coming up beside me and pointing to a tiny star next to a particularly bright one. "It's beautiful." I said in awe, and I felt Draco's arm encircle my waist. "Not as beautiful as you. Not even close." I turned in his arms, and I didn't think, I just went with instinct. "I love you." I said softly, and Draco's eyes went wide. "What?" I stopped for a second and then realized that this was the first time either of us had ever said the "L" word to each other. Sure, I had felt like this for a while and I had even confessed to Michael at the end of last year that I was in love with the man in my life, but I had never told this to Draco. Why? I couldn't tell you. Maybe out of fear of how he would react? Of him not returning my feelings and rejecting me?

"I love you too, Isabelle."

His words shook me to my core, and I couldn't stop the smile that spread across my face. "You do?" I said hopefully, and Draco smiled. "Yeah. I have for a while now. Just, y'know..." He trailed off. "Didn't know when to say it." I said, and he nodded. "I'm in love with you." I said softly, playing with the collar of his jumper and looking up at him shyly, blushing when his face lit up. "I am too. More than you'll ever know." Draco said, leaning down to kiss me. It was slow and gentle at first, but the longer we kissed, the more frantic and heated it became. We began to move away from the window, and when I felt my knees hit the back of my bed, I broke the kiss. "I want something else for my birthday." I said breathlessly, and Draco raised an eyebrow. "Oh? What's that?" I took a deep breath before responding, knowing that there was no going back after this, but that this was what I wanted. "You. I want you. All of you." Draco stared at me blankly for a few moments, and then it hit him quite suddenly. "Oh. OH! You want to" "Yes." I said, and a look of uncertainty crossed Draco's face. "Isabelle, don't take this the wrong way because I absolutely want to, but are you sure that you want this?" I nodded, running my hands down his chest and trying not to smirk when it got a visible reaction out of him. "I've never been surer of anything. I want you to be my first, Draco. Please." I said, and the slight begging tone to my voice was all it took to set him off. Draco kissed me hard and allowed his hands to wander for the first time. He paused when his hands slid over my backside, eliciting a moan from me when he grabbed it firmly. This edged him a little further towards the point of no return because he pushed me gently backward, making me fall on the bed with a giggle. I scooted myself up to the head of the bed, biting my lip when I saw Draco crawling over me, his eyes burning. "Isa, are you sure this is what you want? I don't want you to regret this later." Draco said, holding himself up with his forearms, and I could see a faint hint of biceps through the sleeves of his jumper. "I'm sure. I love you, Draco." I said, fisting my hands in the sides of his jumper. "Gods, I love you." Draco said, leaning down to kiss me again, trailing his lips down to my neck. "Gonna make this special. Gonna take my time." He said, and when he lifted up my shirt, I became very thankful for the Silencing Spells I had placed in my room.

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A few days had passed since my birthday, and my night with Draco. I knew I wouldn't be able to see him again until the school year started, but the memory of his birthday present to me was enough to get me through those last few weeks. I had heard my muggle girlfriends talk about their first times - conversations full of blushing, giggling, and innuendos about size. None of their wild, silly stories held a candle to my first time though. It was perfect. There had been a fair amount of fumbling and blushing, and it was nothing like the things you see in movies or read about in books, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Draco made all my insecurities vanish with the touch of his fingers, and sent full body shivers down my spine with a brush of his lips against mine. It was the most romantic night of my life, and I wanted nothing more than to do all of it again. And again, and again, and again...

Surprisingly, I didn't spend my last few weeks of the summer holidays at Dad's house. Mad-Eye, the real Mad-Eye, had come to our home to collect me, exchanging a few wary glances with Dad as I brought my trunk downstairs, still confused. "Everything is fine, don't worry, love. You're just going to spend the rest of the holidays with your brother. I have some things to attend to, but I'll see you at Hogwarts. Everything is okay." He said, hugging me before sending me on my way with Mad-Eye. "We'll be using a portkey, can't apparate too well with this leg." He said, pointing to an old tire behind the house. I eyed it warily, remembering the Triwizard Cup last year. Mad-Eye cleared his throat gruffly and I took a deep breath, grabbing onto the tire and waiting for the all-too-familiar jerk behind my navel that would signal the beginning of our wild journey.

As I suspected, the ride was all too unpleasant as we landed on a deserted street. "Where are we?" I said, straightening up and wincing a little - I had landed on my feet, but hard. "London. Grimmauld Place. Sirius lives here." I perked up at the mention of my godfather, looking at the very ordinary Muggle homes. "Really?" I said, examining the row of townhouses, skeptical that a wizard could blend in here, especially one like Sirius. Mad-Eye raised his wand and the homes began to move apart, but the Muggles didn't notice a thing. I gasped as another home began to expand from the middle, almost out of thin air. "How?" I said, staring at the house as we walked towards the front steps. Number 12, Grimmauld Place. We stepped inside, and almost immediately after Mad-Eye yelled "we're back", a blur of bushy brown hair crashed into me in a bone-breaking hug. "Hi, Hermione." I said laughing, hugging her back. "We thought for sure you'd beat Harry here! I've been wondering where you've been for days!" Hermione said quickly, helping me grab my trunk to bring upstairs. "Is he already here?" I asked as we set it down in a room with two beds, one already clearly occupied by Hermione. "Yes, they're in a room down the hall. Come on, I know Harry will be dying to see you." She said, leading me to an adjacent bedroom. We opened the door and saw Ron and Harry sitting on their beds, heads bent in conversation. They both looked up at the sound of the door, and their faces brightened when they saw me standing there. "Hey, you!" Harry said cheerfully, getting up to hug me. "We were wondering when you'd finally be along!" Ron said, hugging me once Harry released me. "I guess they were a little behind on the transportation. At least I'm here now!" I joked. I noticed Harry looking at me strangely, and I cocked an eyebrow at him. "What, is there something on my face?" I asked, and Harry shook his head. "No, you just look...different. I can't describe it." Harry said, and I tilted my head a little in confusion. "I noticed it too. You're almost glowing, Isabelle." Hermione chimed in, and I began to flush a little, remembering what my friends had said about the "glow". "I've just been spending more time outdoors, it's just a tan, guys." I said, brushing them off casually and starting to head downstairs, desperate to end the conversation.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione soon followed and we walked into the kitchen, and I was surprised to find it full of people. It seemed that the whole Weasley family was there, and some other adults as well, including Professor Lupin, Mad-Eye, and some who I didn't recognize at all. The most important man, however, was standing near the back, observing it all. "Sirius!" I gasped, running to him with a huge smile on my face. He laughed and pulled me into a hug, holding me tightly. "I missed you so much!" I said, clinging onto him a little. It had been so long since I had gotten to see him - his escape from Hogwarts was our last physical meeting. "It's good to have you here, Isabelle." He said, loosening his hold on me. We all sat down at the table as soon as Mrs. Weasley announced that dinner was ready, and the conversation soon shifted from the food to the latest news from Professor Lupin. "An army?" I said in disbelief. "Voldemort is building an army. For what?" Lupin looked at me seriously, and for a moment I felt like I was back in the DADA classroom. "To bring the Wizarding World as we know it back under his regime of fear. And The Daily Prophet refuses to believe it, no surprise there." He said bitterly, tossing a paper onto the table. Harry took it and I leaned in closer, my blood boiling when I read the title. There was a large photo of Harry from the Triwizard Tournament last year with the flashing title "THE BOY WHO LIES?" stamped across the top. I snatched it from Harry, folding it up and setting it on the table. "Don't pay it any mind. The Prophet has been trash lately, anyway." I said, and the table talk shifted back to Voldemort's army, and the Order of the Phoenix building their own army. "The Order? That thing our parents were in?" I said, looking at the adults. "Could you really take on Voldemort?" I said skeptically, and Sirius smirked. "We did it once, we'll do it again. And with Harry's help-" "He's just a boy!" Mrs. Weasley interrupted, coming over and snatching the Prophet away from Harry, who had picked it up again. "You say much more and you may as well induct him into the Order straight away." She chastised harshly, until Harry spoke up. "No! I want to join! If Voldemort's building an army, then I want to fight!" He said firmly, and I nodded in agreement. "Me too. I won't hide from him. I'm not scared of Voldemort." Sirius smiled softly at us, and I had a feeling that he had heard this all before, from two people who looked just like us.

-----

"Did you really mean all of that at dinner?"

Harry looked up at the sound of my voice, and he furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "Yeah, of course, I did. Why?" He asked, and I came over to sit on his bed. "It's just, I lied. I am afraid. Mom and Dad died fighting this battle. I want to honor them and be just as brave as they were, but I don't want to die, Harry." I said, my voice shaking a little. Harry pulled me into a hug, leaning his head on mine. "None of this is easy, or safe. But it's the right thing to do. We can't let Voldemort continue his reign of terror across the country, and even across the world. We owe it to our fellow witches and wizards to keep them safe if we can." Harry said, and I became more reassured with every word he said. "I just hope we're doing the right thing." I trailed off, staring out the window.

Chapter Text

I bounced up and down excitedly in my seat, staring out the window at the foggy green fields racing past us. The rolling hills seemed endless as we snaked through the countryside, speeding along towards Hogwarts. "Isabelle, calm down, you're going to go through the roof." Harry said for probably the fifth time. "Oh come on, let me be excited about all of this. It's my first time on the train!" It really was - I'd never ridden The Hogwarts Express before. I had always floo'd back and forth between home and school with Dad, so I'd never gotten to see the legendary scarlet steam engine. "You sound just like the first years." Ginny said teasingly, poking me in the side before getting up and leaving the compartment to find her friends. I glanced over at the door and the blonde girl sitting beside it - Luna Lovegood. I didn't know much about her, but she seemed nice. Odd, but nice. I glanced at the door, hoping Draco might walk by. It was too risky to try and find him on the train, but I was dying to see him. A whole month apart had felt like torture after being so close. "Isa?" I snapped out of my thoughts quickly, seeing Harry looking at me strangely. "Are you alright? You're on another planet." He joked, and I laughed half-heartedly. "Isn't it obvious? She's in love." Luna piped up without looking away from her barmy magazine. I whipped around to look at her, panic rising in me. "In love? What?" Harry said in confusion, looking back and forth at me and Luna. "Luna, you really are a bit loony." I joked, sitting back against the seat in what I hoped was a casual pose. "There's no one at this school that I'm even the least bit attracted to." I said, and Luna's round, curious eyes stared at me over the top of her large, colorful glasses. "When people lie, nargles come and take root in their brains." She said in a very plain voice before turning back to her magazine. I stared at Harry, who opened his mouth to speak but thankfully was interrupted by Ron and Hermione coming back in from their prefect rounds. "Ron, you can't be so lenient! You're a prefect, we have a certain level of authority to uphold!" Hermione said, her arms crossed in front of her. "Hermione, lay off, they were second years playing Exploding Snap. Lighten up, will you?" Ron grumbled, sitting down next to Harry. He and Harry started up a conversation before Hermione could reply, which made her look absolutely furious. Hermione sat down next to me, fishing a book out of her bag and hurriedly burying her nose in it, making me sigh - the year was off to a great start.

-----

Fifth year was an absolute disaster. Not only were we not learning any real defense methods in our DADA class, we were barely learning at all. That horrible Umbridge woman used class time to feed us Ministry-manufactured rubbish, and it made my blood boil. Harry, though, had reached his breaking point faster than I. And that's why I was still waiting up with Ron and Hermione after everyone else had gone to bed. Harry still wasn't back from his detention with Umbridge and we were all worried. It was nearly eleven when the door to the portrait hole swung open, and our heads snapped up to see Harry walking into the common room. "Harry!" I said, getting up and hurrying over. "Are you okay? Why were you there so long?" Harry shrugged, shaking his head. "Umbridge wanted me to clean her teacup collection. She has nearly a hundred, it's mad. I'm off to bed." He said, walking past us. "Harry, I know when you're lying to me." I said, grabbing Harry's hand but releasing it quickly when he let out a yell of pain. I stared at him for a second before taking his hand gently, turning it over and gasping. "I MUST NOT TELL LIES" looked like it had been carved into the back of his hand, still angry red and bleeding. "Harry..." I said in a shaky voice, prompting Hermione and Ron to come over. "Did that old bat do this?" Ron said, a little horrified. "She's torturing students for speaking up about...Voldemort!" Hermione said in a shrill voice, and I looked at her, a little shocked. She had never said Voldemort's name out loud before, so I knew that she had finally had it. "Umbridge is going to try to terrify us into silence, and if something really does happen, there's nothing we can do to protect ourselves." I said quietly, looking around at my friends. The reality seemed to sink in, as did the feeling of hopelessness. "Then we fight back." We all looked at Hermione, a little taken aback at her declaration. "We've got to learn to defend ourselves. And if Umbridge won't do it, someone else will." Slowly, we all looked at Harry, and even though he looked just as unsure as we did, I knew he was in.

-----

With the creation of Dumbledore's Army came new dangers. Umbridge knew that a secret group was meeting in the school, and had implemented her own twisted response - The Inquisitorial Squad. A roving band of bullies whose sole purpose was to root out people who tried to defy Umbridge and her Ministry policies - and, to top it all off, Draco was the head of the squad.

"That is without a doubt the ugliest thing you've ever worn in your life." I said without turning around, placing the large book back on the shelf, trying to keep my voice down in the hushed library space. "Beg your pardon?" I heard Draco say in confusion. I sighed and turned to face him, pointing to the shiny badge that graced his broad chest. "That. The Goon Squad badge." Draco sighed, looking down at me. He had gotten taller over the summer, and now the height difference between us was almost laughable. He was at least five or six inches taller than me now, with room to grow still. "There is an upside to it, you know. I can protect you now." I looked up at him, placing my hands on his sides. "You've always been able to do that, Draco." I said softly. "You need to be careful. Umbridge is making us take in anyone she believes is part of Dumbledore's Army, and submit them to her for questioning. I don't trust her." He whispered, holding my face in his hands gently. I leaned into his touch, smiling. "She doesn't scare me." I said, smirking up at him. Draco let out a quiet laugh, his smile sending butterflies floating through my stomach. "My little fighter. I know she doesn't scare you. She doesn't scare me either, but the idea of her doing something to you does." I shook my head, fisting my hands in his shirt sides and pulling him closer to me. "She can't hurt me. She can't hurt us. We're invincible, remember?" Draco grinned and pulled my face to his, kissing me soundly. Voices floated towards us from a nearby aisle, making us jump apart and become immersed in whatever book was closest.

As soon as the students passed, I dropped the book on the small counter, sighing. "Why is having two minutes alone with you so hard?" I asked sadly. Draco grinned and pulled me into him, his hands resting low on my back. "Another upside to being on Umbridge's Goon Squad - I do my own nightly patrols." He reached into his pants pocket and began fastening something around my neck. I looked down to see a small golden star resting on my chest, hanging on a delicate chain. Unlike the small metal ones I saw muggle girls in town wearing, this one glowed and sparkled like an actual star, as if Draco had plucked it from the sky for me. "Is..is this my star?" I said, a little shocked. Draco shook his head, chuckling. "No, I wish I was that good. It's just a replica." He said, and I grinned. "Draco, it's beautiful! I love it! But why are you giving me this?" I said, beaming up at him. "So we can have more than two minutes alone. It's enchanted. When I say a certain phrase, the star will become warm. That way, you'll know that it's safe to come meet me." I raised my eyebrows, a small smirk on my face. "Taking a page from Hermione's book, I see?" Draco frowned and smacked my arse lightly, making me jump. "Don't start something we can't finish." I growled, pressing myself against him. Draco smirked and kissed me, ignoring my comments. "Just out of curiosity, what is the phrase?" I asked, looking down at the star. "Find my love." I heard Draco say, and at his words, the star began to heat up, spreading a pleasant warmth through me. I looked up at his face and was suddenly drawn to him, the inexplicable urge to be close to him overwhelming me. "It's a summoning charm." I said simply. Draco grinned, shrugging. "A mild one, yeah." I laughed and kissed him hard, smiling. "It's perfect." I mumbled, shivering when I felt Draco's hands begin to wander. "Draco, we're in the library..." I whispered, biting my lip when I felt his hands tighten on my hips. "Then I guess we'll have to be extra quiet." He said, and the slight rasp in his voice made my knees weak. I felt the Galleon in my pocket grow hot and I groaned, cursing Hermione's timing. "You have a Goon Squad to attend to, and I have an army to train. You can investigate the color of my knickers later." I teased, giggling at Draco's groan. "I'll see you later. Love you." I said, kissing him one last time before hurrying out of the library towards the seventh floor, prepping myself for another DA meeting.

Chapter Text

As time wore on, the DA meetings became riskier and riskier. Umbridge and her Inquisitorial Squad roved the school, looking for people who violated her impossible-to-follow Educational Decrees. Plus, she was hell-bent on finding the DA in the act, which only added to my stress and anxiety. To top it off, all of Umbridge's measures made mine and Draco's little meetings more dangerous, especially after she established a new curfew. We kept seeing each like this despite the struggles, stealing moments in between empty shelves and deserted broom cupboards, but it was always either by chance or planned. As the weeks passed, I became more and more anxious for Draco to test out the necklace for real. I didn't have to wait much longer, though. After another DA meeting, Harry, Ron, Hermione and I were sat in the nearly empty Common Room. Hermione was reading and pointedly ignoring Ron's pleas for help, and the rest of us were scribbling down our Potions essays.

I threw my quill down triumphantly, smiling at my work. "Done!"

Harry and Ron stared at me incredulously. "How are you already done?" Ron said, staring at my pile of parchment. "It's easy!" I said, moving over to Ron's side of the table. "Look, all you have to do is explain the methods used in medieval potion making, and how they're still used today." I stated, eyeing Ron's essay. "Ron, did you even listen in class today?" Ron sighed, thunking his head down onto the table. I patted him on the back reassuringly. "You can do it, Ron. You're very smart." He smiled weakly at me. "Thanks, Isa." I nodded, then went over to join Hermione on the couch.

"You're still mad at him?" I said in a quiet voice.

Hermione sighed, but never looked up from her book. "No, of course not. But I'm not going to give that git the satisfaction of me giving in to him."

"Mione, you two are best friends." I said simply. "You can't stay mad at each other forever."

I felt the tiny star on my necklace grow warmer, and my eyes widened; he wanted to meet now? Even with the new curfews in place? "Oh bloody hell, I left my book in the library! I'll be right back, you guys." I said, hurrying through the portrait hole and ignoring their confused shouts.

The quiet was almost numbing. It pressed in on me from all sides, nearly suffocating me. As I passed a corridor, a pair of strong hands grabbed my waist and yanked me out of the main hallway. The person covered my mouth, muffling my shriek, and whispered in my ear. "Out after hours, Potter? I might have to report you."

I smiled at the words and placed my hand over the one that my attacker had gripping my hip. "You don't want to do that. Turn over a sweet thing like me to that evil witch, Umbridge?" My attacker chuckled and kissed my neck. "Never. She will never touch you as long as I'm here." I turned around and looked up into Draco's eyes. The hand that he had on my cheek moved to the back of my neck, cradling my head gently. He pressed his lips to mine softly, but urgently. I sighed, wrapping my arms around his neck and letting his kiss melt me.

"We don't have a lot of time." Draco said when we broke apart. I looked down at his Inquisitorial Squad badge, its glinting surface almost mocking me. "We never have enough time." I said quietly. Draco wrapped his arms around me, holding me close. "I want you to come and see me this summer." He said firmly. I looked up at him, my eyes wide. "Are you serious? What about your family?" I said in a nervous voice. Draco shook his head, smiling at me. "I don't care. All I care about is you, Isa. I love you." I grinned and kissed him enthusiastically, making us fall back against the wall. Draco clutched me to him, nipping at my bottom lip. I tugged on his hair, and he growled dangerously. "Isa..." He said, kissing and biting my neck. I groaned and he turned us around, picking me up and pinning me between him and the wall. I gasped when I felt him pressing into my core. Draco groaned and began grinding into me, making me moan and claw at the front of his robes. "Draco..." I whined, throwing my head back against the wall. Draco tore my shirt open, nipping and kissing my newly exposed skin.

"Are you going to take me out here, where anyone could see us? If someone walks by, all they would see is you pressing me against the wall, making me scream your name..." I said in a low, breathy voice. Draco growled and shoved my skirt up, practically ripping my knickers off of me and undoing his belt and zipper. I quickly cast a Contraception Charm, nearly shaking in anticipation.

When he pushed into me, I had to bite back a moan. Draco filled and stretched me in the most delicious way. He started to thrust in and out of me slowly, and I whined in protest; I didn't want slow and sweet. Tonight, I wanted fast and furious.

"C'mon, Draco. I know you can do better than that." I moaned in his ear.

Draco groaned and grabbed my ass with one hand, bracing himself against the wall with the other, and began pounding in and out of me. "Oh, gods! Draco, yes!" I whimpered, closing my eyes. "Is this what you wanted? Is this how you like it, Isabelle?" Draco said and I nodded, curses and praises falling out of my mouth left and right. Draco growled and set an unforgiving pace, making my words turn into incomprehensible blabber. "Oh, I'm gonna - oh yes, Draco!" I moaned, desperately trying to stay quiet as I got closer and closer to my end, teetering right on the brink. "C'mon Isabelle, come for me." His words sent me tumbling over the edge, and stars flashed in front of my eyes. Draco kissed me deeply, quieting my screams. I felt him coat my insides and I moaned, sucking on his lower lip.

When we were both finished, we slid to the floor in a heap, breathing hard. I opened my eyes and smiled lazily at him. "Hi." I whispered. Draco chuckled and brushed my hair out of my face. "Hi, beautiful." I kissed him softly, sighing. "I love you, Draco." He leaned his forehead against mine, his grey eyes soft. "More than you'll ever know, Isabelle." I hugged him tightly, not wanting to ever let go. "We need to go." Draco whispered in my ear, but he didn't let go of me. I looked at him, and sadness welled up in me. I knew I would see him tomorrow, but I would have to pretend again. He wouldn't be my boyfriend; he would be my sworn enemy and the boy that my brother and friends hate deeply. He would be a Slytherin named Malfoy, and I would be a Gryffindor named Potter.

We untangled ourselves from each other, but the second we were both standing, he pulled me against his chest, holding me tightly. "I love you, Isa. I love you so much." I kissed his cheek, burying my face in the crook of his neck. "I love you too, Draco. I'll see you tomorrow." Draco smiled at me and kissed me one last time before walking away. "Draco!" I called out quietly. He turned and I smirked at him. "Check your pocket." He looked at me, confused, and his eyes widened when he felt something. I giggled at his expression when he pulled my destroyed knickers out of his pocket, but when he looked up to say something, all he saw was my hips swaying as I hurried back to my dorm.

-----

During Potions the next day, Hermione poked me in my side. "Isa, there's something on your neck." I could see Draco smirking out of the corner of my eye as he walked past us, and I knew that he had heard Hermione. "It's probably just a mark from sleeping funny." I said, brushing her off and turning back to my potion.

There were yells and an unsettling bubbling noise from the other side of the room, and everyone whipped around to look. Laughs rang out when people realized that it was Draco; he had mixed his ingredients incorrectly, and now there was bright red sludge oozing out of his cauldron onto his desk. Dad walked over and vanished the potion with a wave of his wand, giving Draco a cold look. "Mr. Malfoy, perhaps your potion would have been successful if you had spent more time working instead of staring at Ms. Potter."

I flushed red and stared down at my cauldron to avoid the other students' eyes. When I looked up, Draco was giving me a dirty look. I raised my eyebrows and bit my lip. He glared at me and I giggled, turning my gaze away from him and back to my work. "Isabelle, are those teeth marks?" Hermione asked, staring at my neck in shock. Dad looked over at us suspiciously, and I laughed at her. "Hermione, you're seeing things. Come on, we need to work."

When the bell rang releasing us from class, Dad spoke up from the front of the room. "Ms. Potter, I need to speak with you for a moment." I told Hermione to head off without me and walked up to Dad's desk. "Yes, sir?" I said politely. Dad put down his quill and looked me dead in the eyes. "Stay away from Draco. He is trouble in ways you cannot even comprehend." I groaned and rolled my eyes, smiling. "Dad, I'm not even interested in Malfoy! He's just a stupid boy. Harry and practically the rest of Gryffindor hate him, so why would I ever think about getting involved with him?" Dad looked at me sternly, and my facade crumbled. "Please don't say anything, Daddy." I said in a small voice. Dad glared at me. "Draco! Get in here!" I heard someone stumble outside, and I sighed. Draco had been listening, waiting for me.

Draco stepped into the room, straightening his robes. "Yes, sir? Are you done speaking with Potter?" Dad raised his eyebrows, a scowl on his face. "What were you doing outside, Mr. Malfoy?" Draco glanced at me briefly, and it didn't go unnoticed by Dad. If anything, it ruined any chance of Draco successfully lying to him. "I needed to talk to you about the homework. See, I don't quite understand question five and" I held up my hand, cutting him off. "Draco, he knows." Draco looked at Dad, then moved next to me and wrapped his arm around me. "We're in love."

Dad glowered at Draco and stepped forward. "Let go of my daughter. Whatever you two have going on is over."

"Dad!" I said in protest, my mouth falling open. "Draco, I'll say it again; let go of her." Draco gave Dad a scathing look and turned to me, holding my waist tightly. "I love you." He said, kissing my forehead before stalking out of the room. I looked at my dad with tearful eyes. "You can't keep us apart, Dad." I said defiantly. Dad stood in front of me, and his towering stance made me shrink a little. "You might be a student here, but you are still my daughter. I forbid you from seeing him, and that is final." He said in a cold voice. The tears finally started to spill over and I let out a sob, dashing from the room. I ignored the questioning looks from other students, not caring who saw me crying. I knew exactly where he would be - the Astronomy Tower. More than one night, we would sneak up there to watch the stars, but I would always catch him watching me instead. As I climbed the stairs, I saw the Draco hadn't even made it through the door. He was sitting on the steps, his head in his hands. I sniffed and touched his shoulder, still crying quietly. Draco looked up, and when he saw my tear-soaked face, he pulled me into his lap and wrapped his arms around me, whispering to me soothingly.

"I don't care what he says. I love you. No one can change that, not even...Snape." I said. Referring to him as Snape instead of Dad when I wasn't talking about him as a professor felt so odd; so foreign. I'd known for so long now that he wasn't my biological father, but he had stopped acting like a father. James, my real Dad, would have loved Draco simply because I did. I knew he would have. Draco looked down at me and pressed his lips to mine gently. He didn't slip his tongue past my lips or let his hands wander. He simply held me against him, moving his lips on mine. I wrapped my arms around his neck, kissing him back. "There has to be somewhere. Somewhere we can go where no one cares who we are or questions why we love each other. I know there's somewhere." I said when we broke apart, my lower lip quivering. Draco kissed my forehead and looked me in the eye. "We'll find it one day. For now, knowing that we love each other makes this place bearable."

-----

I joined in with the other students' cheering as one of the DA's younger members successfully vanished a dummy Death Eater. We were all quickly becoming confident in our dueling abilities, the younger students especially so. I was so proud of Harry - seeing him take charge made me really believe that we could do this. We could be as brave as our parents before us, and no one could intimidate us - not even Umbridge and her Ministry of Idiots. These meetings were so much more than just dueling practice or a way to rally against injustice - the members of the DA had become like another family to me. Snape had flat out refused to speak to me outside of class and went out of his way to avoid calling on me in Potions. It hurt so bad knowing that the man who had raised me for practically my entire life no longer wanted to acknowledge my existence, but this wasn't something I was willing to compromise or concede on. I was in love with Draco, and if my father wasn't going to support us, then I didn't want him in my life.

Harry began to give his closing remarks for this evening's meeting when he was interrupted by a mysterious cracking noise from behind him. We all looked at the giant mirrored wall, getting closer for a better look at the rapidly appearing cracks. Suddenly, there was a small bang, and a tiny hole appeared. Harry was the closest, and he only looked at the hole for a second before he ran away, yelling for everyone to get down. Only a split second later, the wall exploded, and everyone was screaming and covering their heads and faces. When the dust cleared, we looked at the now destroyed entrance to the Room of Requirement, and horror filled me up. Umbridge and her Inquisitorial Squad were standing there, Draco at the front of the pack. Our eyes met, and he could see the question burning in mine - "Did you give us up?" He answered me silently when he pulled someone into our line of sight, and there was an audible gasp from everyone. Draco was gripping the shoulders of an extremely guilty-looking Cho Chang. Even though I was glad Draco hadn't given away our secret, rage coursed through me at the realization that the girl who had romanced my brother was the one who had destroyed everything we had worked so hard to build. "Get them!" Umbridge said in a shrill, strained voice.

-----

The DA detention was horrible. I refused to let that old hag see me cry, so I had bit down on my lip until I could taste blood, just so I wouldn't cry from the pain radiating through my cursed hand. It was even worse than Harry had described. After you wrote the phrase "I WILL NOT BREAK RULES" once and it was carved into the back of your hand, it simply burned like fire every time you had to re-write it. I looked around and saw that the pain had turned most of my friends into weeping wrecks, or they were trying their damnedest to choke back their sobs. Hermione was a mess, and I could see Ron unsuccessfully fighting back tears. Even Fred and George were starting to shake. At the end of the night, Umbridge released us, her sickly sweet smile a clear warning that she wouldn't hesitate to do this to us again if we dared to cross her. The members of the DA filed out of the hall silently, most of us shaking and fighting back the urge to cry out in pain. We could all see Cho standing on the stairs, obviously waiting for us to come out so she could redeem herself. Of course, no one listened to her. Some people physically shoved her out of the way. Cho hurried over to Harry, trying to explain but he brushed her off instantly, trudging towards Gryffindor Tower. When Cho spotted me, she came over, her face desperate. "Isabelle, please, I didn't do this. You have to believe me. Please, talk to Harry for me. Please?" She said, and I glared at her, cradling my still bleeding hand. "Not on your life, Chang." I said, my voice full of venom. I left her standing there on the stairs, heading towards the stairs when I saw my necklace begin to glow. I looked down at my hand and sighed, giving in to the magnetic pull of the star - I was already exhausted and bleeding, what more could the woman do to me now? I was surprised when I was led to a corridor directly beside the final staircase to Gryffindor Tower, but I still slipped behind the tapestry covering it. I saw Draco standing in a patch of moonlight, a small bag in his hand. "Hey." He said when he saw me, his face pained. I gave him a half smile, walking over slowly. "This isn't your fault." I said when I reached him, knowing what he was thinking. "You had to do it, you didn't have a choice. And you didn't give us away, that bitch Cho Chang did." I said bitterly, grimacing as my hand stung. Draco noticed this and took my hand gently, cursing when he saw it. "Merlin, she's sick." He said in a low, disgusted voice. "Put this salve on your cuts and keep it bandaged for a few days." Draco said, handing me the bag he had been holding. I looked at it curiously, glancing up at Draco. "Where did you get this?" I asked, and Draco smirked. "Your Dad's storeroom." My mouth dropped open a little and I grinned, tucking the bag under my robes. "You're a dangerous man." Draco chuckled, his hands settling on my hips. "A little danger every now and then is healthy. Exciting, even." He was quiet for a second before leaning down to kiss my forehead. "Be careful, Isabelle. Please. Umbridge is unhinged." He said, and I nodded. "I know. I'm going to be okay, Draco, I promise. I love you." I said, standing on tiptoe to kiss him softly, smiling at him before slipping back through the tapestry to the staircase, hurrying back to the Tower. I didn't know what the fate of the DA would be, but I knew that we would be more determined than ever to not back down from Umbridge's twisted, controlling regime. We weren't going to submit.

Chapter Text

I had heard whispers in Gryffindor Tower from the Weasley twins about some kind of grand escape, but I never thought that they would take the opportunity to bring the OWLs to a halt, enrage Umbridge, and practically destroy the Great Hall with fireworks in the process. I have never been so proud. We all stood in the courtyard watching and cheering, and I saluted them proudly as they flew off into the cloudy sky, their legacy forever cemented as the greatest tricksters to ever attend Hogwarts.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Harry begin to sway and I barely made it over to him before he collapsed on the ground. I grabbed Harry's hand and gasped as images flooded my mind. Sirius standing in a dimly lit room, and a snake-like man circling him. I knew immediately that it was Voldemort. "I need that prophecy." He said in a voice barely above a whisper. Sirius smirked, shaking his head. "You'll have to kill me." He said, and Voldemort gave him a cold, lipless smile. "Oh, I will. But first, you will fetch it for me." He hissed, raising his wand. "Crucio! Crucio!" He cried, making Sirius cry out in agony. The vision ended abruptly and I saw Hermione join Harry and me on the ground, her face concerned. "Sirius." We said at the same time, and Harry looked at me in confusion. "You saw it too?" I nodded, fearful. "I don't know how, but we don't have time to worry about that. If what we saw it true, he's got Sirius."

We quickly found Ron, following Harry as he hurried towards the only office with a working Floo system - Umbridge's. The fleeting thought of "she's the headmistress, you'll get expelled" crossed my mind, but it was quickly pushed out of sight when I thought about Sirius being at the mercy of Voldemort. "Alert the Order, if you can." Harry said, throwing a fistful of powder into the fireplace and it sprang to life in a roar of emerald green flames. "Are you mental? We're going with you!" Ron protested loudly. Harry shook his head firmly. "It's too dangerous." I stared at him in disbelief. "When have we ever been ones to run from danger?" I asked, and Hermione nodded in agreement. "When are you going to get it into your head? We're in this together." A crazed, shrilly voice resounded behind us, making all four of us freeze in fear. "That you are!" We turned to see Umbridge standing there, covered in soot from the fireworks, a manic smile on her face.

In almost no time, Umbridge had the leaders of Dumbledore's Army assembled in her office, all of us being held in place by members of the Inquisitorial Squad. Draco avoided my eyes, which were fixed on him in a hard glare. I knew this wasn't his fault, but it was hard to not be mad at him when he proudly wore that stupid silver badge and manhandled my friends, all under the command of the toad Headmistress Umbridge. Harry was sat on a chair in front of Umbridge's desk and she stood above him, her voice deadly calm when she spoke. "You were going to Dumbledore, weren't you?" Harry shook his head and tried to speak, but Umbridge slapped him hard. "LIAR!" She yelled. I fought against the Goon Squad member who was holding me, but his grip was too strong. Dad walked through the door and my eyes widened, hoping that he was here to set Umbridge straight. "You sent for me, Headmistress?" He said in a bored voice, killing my hope. "Snape, yes. The time has come for answers, whether they want to give them or not. Have you brought the Veritaserum?" Umbridge asked, staring at Harry smugly. "I'm afraid you used up all my stores, interrogating students. The last of it on Miss Chang. Unless you wish to poison him - and I assure you I would have the greatest sympathy if you did - I cannot help you." Dad said, and my heart dropped - Cho was telling the truth all along, and we had completely alienated her. Dad turned to leave, and I opened my mouth to beg him to help, but Harry beat me to it. "He's got Padfoot! He's got Padfoot at the place where it's hidden!" This made Dad stop, and I knew that he knew what Harry was talking about. His eyes met my pleading gaze, begging him to help us rescue Sirius. "Padfoot? What is Padfoot? Where what is hidden? What is he talking about Snape?" Umbridge asked, looking from Harry to Dad in annoyance. "No idea." Dad said, sweeping from the room without so much as a second glance at me, effectively killing any hope I had of him taking action against Umbridge and helping us. He was really going to abandon us. Umbridge stared into space for a second, almost like she was deciding something. "Very well. You give me no choice, Potter. As this is a matter of Ministry Security, you leave me with... no other alternative. The Cruiciatus Curse ought to loosen your tongue." Her words made everyone in the room tense up, and I began to struggle harder against my captor, desperate to fight her. "That's illegal." Hermione said, her voice steady but laced with frantic fear. "What Cornelius doesn't know won't hurt him." Umbridge said, putting her framed photo of the Minister face-down on her desk, raising her wand and preparing to curse Harry. She opened her mouth but was interrupted by Hermione screaming "Tell her, Harry!" Umbridge glanced over at Hermione, clearly annoyed at her interference. "Tell me what?" She said, and Hermione looked at Harry, nervous. "Well, if you won't tell her where it is, I will." Hermione said, and Umbridge looked like she was teetering on the edge of insanity now. "Where WHAT is?" Hermione paused before responding, and her words made Umbridge's toad-like face light up. "Dumbledore's secret weapon."

-----

Umbridge left us in her office, guarded by the Goon Squad, while she let Hermione and Harry lead her to whatever rouse Hermione had concocted in her head and dubbed "Dumbledore's secret weapon". I looked around at my friends, and knew that we were all thinking the same thing - we have to get out of here. We have to get to the Ministry. Lots of desperate eye contact and covert mouthing-of-words ensued until Ron spoke up suddenly. "Look, mate, it's been a long bloody day, I haven't eaten, and I've got a bag of sweets in my pocket. You mind if I pop a few?" We stared at him, knowing full well it was a bag of prank sweets from Fred and George's private stores that he had knicked until it hit us. He was trying to trick the Goon Squad into eating the foul candy so we could escape. I looked over at Draco, begging him silently to play along. Draco stared at me for a split second before strolling over to Ron, smirking. "That's a fine idea, Weasley. What do you say, boys? Shall we have a few sweets?" He said, snatching the bag from Ron's pocket and passing it around to his mates. He looked over at me for a second and winked quickly, popping one of the little caramel candies into his mouth. It took less than 15 seconds before complete, utterly disgusting madness ensued. Every member of the Goon Squad became violently sick, holding their stomachs and wretching. We quickly broke away from them, dashing towards the door and running out of the castle. We met Hermione and Harry halfway across the bridge, both of them looking equal parts relieved and horrified. Once we all explained how we had escaped the wrath of the Goon Squad, we were left with the impossible question - how do we get to London? Luna was the one to answer, surprisingly. "We fly, of course."

-----

It was my very first visit to the Ministry of Magic, and if I had anything to say about it, it would be my very last. Running through the shelves of the Hall of Prophecy, firing spells left and right at masked figures that Harry explained frantically were known as Death Eaters, I was terrified. Harry clutched on tightly to the glass ball of swirling mist - his prophecy. Sirius wasn't where he had been in the vision, so we were on a desperate chase to find him and stay alive. At the end of the hall, we found a lone door, but it opened to nothing. Just a black, all-encompassing empty space that went on seemingly forever. But with the Death Eaters closing in, we had no choice - one after another, we jumped. I could hear my friends screams over my own as we fell, the air rushing rapidly around us as we descended into darkness. Abruptly and painfully, we were stopped by some invisible force field, suspended in mid-air a few inches above the ground until we were suddenly dropped onto the solid surface, groaning. We got up quickly, taking in our surroundings. It was a huge room, with a platform in the middle that held two stone columns with what looked like opaque, silver water floating between them in a sheet, but you could barely see to the other side - it was almost like a veil. I looked around for Harry, who was nowhere to be seen. Before I could find him, I was roughly grabbed by someone much bigger and stronger than me, and I screamed loudly, kicking and fighting back against their vice grip. We backed up against the wall and he grabbed the hair on top of my head, forcing me to tilt my head back as he pressed his wand into my neck, staying silent. I saw that my friends had encountered the same fate, all of them standing with their captors against the wall, terrified of the silent threat of a wand at their throats. A few moments later, Harry appeared on the platform, looking around and his eyes became wide when he saw the position his friends and his sister were in. A man with long blonde hair stepped forward from the shadows, and I couldn't help but notice he bore a frightening resemblance to Draco. "Did you actually believe, or were you truly naive enough to think that children stood a chance, against us? I'll make this simple for you, Potter. Give me the prophecy now, or watch your friends and your sister die." The man said, holding out his hand. "Don't give it to him, Harry!!" Neville shouted, and was quickly silenced by the woman holding him. I couldn't stop myself from trying to get to Harry when he began to hand the prophecy to the man, but I gasped with joy when I saw Sirius come onto the platform. "Get away from my godson." He said simply and punched the man in the face. The Death Eaters released us as they swarmed towards the platform, and we took the opportunity to begin to stun them, ready for the inevitable fight. I fought with more and more confidence as members of the Order began to apparate into the room, launching into battle. Our DA training was on full display as we fought alongside the Order, matching their skill spell for spell. The fighting ceased, however, when a yell from the platform made us all stop dead to look towards it. The crazed woman who had been holding Neville had jumped onto the platform, pushing the blonde man aside and pointing her wand at Sirius. "Avada Kedavra!!" She screeched, and the spell hit him dead on.

Everything moved in slow motion. Sirius staggered backward, the life beginning to drain from him. He looked at Harry once, a hint of a smile on his face, before he fell back into the shimmering veil, his body drifting away and disappearing into nothingness. I felt the scream leave my chest as I rushed forward, but I was caught and held back by Ron and Neville. Harry was grabbed by Professor Lupin before he could run after Sirius, and he was screaming and fighting against his human bonds just like me. I wept bitterly as the reality hit me over and over that my godfather, my last real link to the family that had been taken from me 14 years ago, was gone. He had been murdered. I saw Harry break away from Lupin and run after the woman, who was slinking away from the scene and laughing madly, "I killed Sirius Black!". I heard Harry scream, "Crucio!" from the next room over and that snapped me out of my painful trance - Harry had just used an Unforgivable Curse. I looked around at the other Order members, who seemed just as shocked as I felt. For some reason, the Death Eaters had fled the scene and instead of feeling relieved, I felt even more nervous than before. I heard a voice in my head, the same raspy voice from the vision - Voldemort's voice. "You've got to mean it, Harry. She killed him. She deserves it. You know the spell, Harry." I followed the path that Harry had taken into the hall, despite the protests of the others, and peeked around the corner of the doorway. I immediately wished that I hadn't. Sheer, icy terror gripped my heart when I saw Voldemort standing behind my brother. Before I could open my mouth to warn him, Voldemort yelled: "DO IT!" Harry whipped around and was quickly disarmed by him, a sneer on Voldemort's face. "So weak!" He mocked, his wand pointed at Harry. He was interrupted, though, by a roar of green flames a few grates down from where Harry lay on the ground. Dumbledore emerged from the fire, his face stony. "It was foolish of you to come here tonight, Tom. The Aurors are on their way." Voldemort stepped away from Harry, his face twisting into a cruel smile. "By which time I shall be gone. And you... shall be dead." At his words, he fired a curse at Dumbledore, and the battle began. It was incredible and terrifying to watch, seeing the real headmaster of Hogwarts battle the most terrifying villain the Wizarding World has ever know. By now, the others had joined me in watching at the edge of the hall, not daring to help - we would surely be killed. The fight raged on, practically destroying the entire room until Voldemort seemed to have finally had enough and turned his attention towards Harry. He practically flew to him, disappearing once he reached Harry. I was confused for a moment, but when Harry's body began to contort slightly and his breathing and voice changed, I became horrified - Voldemort had possessed him. Dumbledore rushed over, dropping to his knees beside Harry. "You... you've lost, old man." Harry said, but in Voldemort's voice. "Harry." Dumbledore said in a hushed voice, astonished. Tears fell down my face as I realized the gravity of the situation - Voldemort was capable of entering my brother's body and controlling him. The tears fell faster as Harry tried to fight back, yells of pain echoing around the room. "Harry, it isn't how you are alike. It's how you are not!" Dumbledore said, trying to coax Harry back to reality, convincing him to be strong and fight back. We began to move closer towards them, and when Harry caught sight of us, his eyes began to flash back to green for a moment, instead of Voldemort's demonic shade of red. "...You're the weak one. And you'll never know love or friendship. And I feel sorry for you." Harry choked out, and we saw Voldemort physically expelled from Harry's body. Dumbledore was thrown backward, and Voldemort encased Harry and himself in a bubble, seemingly impenetrable to outsiders. Even if we wanted to move, there was no way we could have - everything around us froze the moment Voldemort trapped himself with Harry in the bubble. "You're a fool, Harry Potter. And you will lose everything." He said softly, standing over Harry menacingly. Before he could harm Harry, the Aurors and the Minister appeared in the hall. Voldemort's head snapped up, and he stayed long enough to let Minister Fudge get a good look at him before apparating away, the bubble disappearing nearly as fast as Voldemort had. "He's back." Fudge said in shock.

-----

"I'm really sorry, about Sirius." Draco said, rubbing my back as we stood in an old classroom, our trunks and rucksacks strewn around us. We always snuck off on the last day of term to say our goodbyes, never certain if we were going to see each other over the holidays. I held back my tears at the mention of my godfather, still grieving. "Thanks, Draco." I said, looking up at him. For a moment, I wanted to mention the blonde man I had seen at the Ministry, but I decided to let it lie. "Do you really want me to come and see you this summer? I mean, do you think it would be safe?" I said uncertainly, biting my lip. Draco nodded, smiling at me. "I really do, Isa. I want you to see where I live, everything." I thought it was a little suspicious that he didn't mention his family in that sentence, but my mind went blank when he pressed his lips to mine, my hands automatically sliding up his arms to twist into his hair. "I love you. Always." He murmured when we broke apart, and I smiled softly. "Forever." I agreed, wrapping my arms around his neck and hugging him tightly, burying my face in the crook of his neck. "Write to me, please." I said and Draco nodded, pressing a small kiss to my neck before letting me go. We shared one last, long kiss before leaving the classroom quickly, going our separate ways. I caught up to Harry and the gang quickly outside the castle, making our way down to the train. It had been arranged that I would arrive home before Dad, as he had a few things to tend to at school that would keep him here a few days after the end of the term. Honestly, I didn't mind - after his dismissal of Harry's pleas in Umbridge's office, I could care less if he came home at all.

"I've been thinking about something Dumbledore said to me." Harry said suddenly, and we all turned to look at him. "What's that?" Hermione said. "That even though we got a fight ahead of us, we've got one thing that Voldemort doesn't have." Harry said and Ron looked at him curiously. "Yeah?" He asked, and Harry smiled. "Something worth fighting for." I smiled and grabbed his free hand, squeezing it and looking around at my friends. We really did have something worth fighting for here, and I knew that with them by my side, I would fight to protect it with my dying breath. This love, this friendship, it was too precious to lose. It was something that Voldemort could never have, and that was enough for us.

Chapter Text

As her sixth year approaches, Isabelle Potter's world has become complicated and dark - the Wizarding World is gripped by terror as the truth of Voldemort's return emerges, and she and Harry have been thrust into a whirlwind of secrets and lies. And, Isabelle must grapple with Draco's dark secret, one that threatens to destroy their relationship and her entire world. All the while, dealing with the trials of being a teenager in a world teetering on the brink of war.

Chapter Text

I sighed and leaned my head against the window, hugging my knees to my chest and watching the raindrops chase each other across the window panes. I searched the cloudy skies for any sign of Apollo, Draco's owl, carrying the letter I so desperately wanted to receive. We were almost two weeks into the summer holiday, and I still hadn't heard from Draco. A part of me was worried that something had happened, what with the incident at the Ministry and his father being a Death Eater, but I doubted that Draco would be involved with that. He was too young and not as well-trained as an adult wizard. I fleetingly wondered why I had been told by Snape to not come downstairs today - not that I would have wanted to, anyway. I could hear indistinct female voices from the drawing room, but they had soon come and gone. I watched as two women, one with silvery blonde hair and the other with wild raven hair, pulled up their hoods and apparated away from our street quickly.

There was a quiet knock on the door, and a soft but firm voice floated through the room. "Isabelle?"

"Go away."

I heard Snape sigh and tap my door with his wand, unlocking it. "Dad!" I exclaimed angrily, turning to look at him as he walked into my room. "Isabelle, please, just listen. I know you think you love Draco but you shouldn't. He is more dangerous than you would believe." I turned away from him, closing my eyes. "You don't know anything, Dad. I love him more than anything in the world. And he loves me too. You just don't understand." He was silent and the next words that came out of my mouth were ones that I regretted instantly. "My real Dad would have loved him just as he is." The silence that followed was heavy, and one look at Snape's face showed how deeply I had hurt him. "Dad, I didn't mean that... I'm sorry..." I said, my voice quivering. Snape swept from the room and I buried my face in my arms, crying.

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I waited all summer for Draco to send for me to visit him, but no word came. No word came at all, for that matter. For the entire summer, every letter I owled him remained unanswered. I was mad but also worried that something had happened. After the incident at the Ministry and the public announcement that Voldemort was indeed back, things were tenser than ever. I had been in contact with the Order, and they promised that I would be protected, and I told them that I didn't want protection - I wanted to fight. If there was going to be a war, I didn't want to be sheltered in some secret hideaway. I wanted to be out there, fighting alongside my brother and the people that had supported my parents.

I smiled at my owl, Athena, who was hooting cheerfully at me from her perch on my windowsill. "You're such a trooper, lady." I said, tossing her an owl treat and returning to my latest letter to Draco. I paused, my quill raised over the paper as I let out a sigh. I never put my name on the envelopes or the letters - Draco knew my handwriting. Things were risky enough in the Wizarding World without someone knowing that Harry Potter's sister was in contact with Draco Malfoy. "I think about you every day. I think about the secrets we share in the library, the way you watch me in the halls, how you kiss me when it's been far too long. I miss you terribly, Draco. Living here with Snape is like living in a prison cell with the man who tried to murder your family. I want nothing to do with him, and he wants nothing to do with me, but there's a mutual hatred for each other. I'll have some kind of escape once September rolls around. I'll see you soon, my love." I finished, stuffing the paper into an envelope and simply writing "Draco" on the front. "You know where to go." I said to Athena, attaching the letter to her leg and stroking her cheek. She nipped my finger affectionately before taking off through the open window, flying high until she was a tiny, dark dot in the clear blue sky. I sat in the windowsill, sighing as I watched her go, jealous of her wings. What I wouldn't give to be able to fly far, far away from this place and never look back. This room that I had grown up in, spent hours upon hours playing with Snape in, learning basic spells and reading as many books as I could get my hands on. But now, the room held nothing but pain and resentment. I found myself imagining more and more as the days passed what life would have been like if my parents hadn't been killed by Voldemort - would my room still look like this? Would it be bigger? Would Harry and I have shared a room? Tears filled my eyes as the thoughts of what might have been raced through my mind and I tried to push them away, focusing instead on my impending escape back to school, back to my brother and my friends, and back to Draco.

When September rolled around, I was beyond nervous to come back to Hogwarts. I was excited to see Draco, but I wanted to know what had kept him from writing me all summer. The night we all returned to the school, we assembled as we always did in the Great Hall for the Start of Term feast. I kept glancing at the hall entrance, watching for Harry, who had stayed behind while the rest of us were exiting the train. And to my pleasant surprise, so did Ginny. I always knew she fancied him, but I had a good feeling about something finally happening between the two of them this year. "Will you stop eating? Your best friend is missing!" I turned my head at the sound of Hermione's shrill voice and caught the tail end of her hitting Ron with one of her books. "Oi! Turn around, you lunatic!" He said defensively, nodding towards the entrance. We all looked and saw Harry walking into the hall, trying not to draw attention to himself - kind of a hard feat to accomplish when you're Harry Potter, and even harder when your face is covered in a mixture of wet and dried blood. "He's covered in blood again...why is he always covered in blood..." Ginny murmured, and Ron whispered back, "Looks like it's his own this time." Harry sat down between Ginny and me, and Ginny immediately handed Harry a napkin to dab against his bleeding nose. I leaned in when Dumbledore stepped up to give his speech and whispered in Harry's ear. "What happened on the train?" Harry glanced at me and mouthed the word, "Draco" before turning back to watch Dumbledore. My eyes widened and I wanted to question him further but I knew I wouldn't be able to without raising suspicion. I glanced over at the Slytherin table, searching it quickly for the face that I hadn't seen in nearly three months and I was shocked when I did. Draco was slipping into a seat, also late, virtually unnoticed, but he didn't look like the Draco I knew. He looked like he had seen hell and lived to tell the tale. His face was cold and his eyes burned like ice. He looked like his father, but younger. Once the feast had ended, I caught up to Draco outside the Great Hall as he walked out, only a few stragglers left now. "Hey, Draco!" I said, my anger rising a little when I saw the dried blood on his shoes. Harry wasn't lying earlier - Draco did attack him on the train. Draco turned and I shrunk under the venomous glare he gave me. "What do you want?" He said in an icy voice. I stared at him for a moment and shook my head, moving closer. "Were you busy this summer?" I said casually, reaching for his hand. Draco stepped back, looking me up and down. "What's it to you?"

I couldn't understand why he was acting this way towards me - like we were enemies again. "Draco, what's gotten into you? Did I do something wrong?" I asked, confused. Draco rolled his eyes, glaring at me. "The only thing you're doing wrong is talking to me. I don't know why you kept sending me all those bloody letters over the holidays. The lack of response should have been enough for you." Draco's angry and annoyed tone shocked me, and I felt myself getting angry too. "I sent you all of those letters because I wanted to talk to you! I had no one in that prison I'm supposed to call home, and I thought you'd understand that. I love you, Draco!"

"Well, I don't love you. I never did."

His words were like a knife in my heart and a kick to my stomach. "You're lying." I said in a shaky voice. Draco stared at me, his eyes dark and empty, and shook his head. "How could I ever love a filthy Potter?" He said coldly. Tears spilled onto my face, and I started to walk away but turned back for a moment. "Hey, Malfoy," I said in a hateful voice. He looked up at me and I reached up, undoing the clasp on my beloved star necklace and throwing it at his feet. "Fuck you." I whispered loud enough for him to head, turning and hurrying away in the opposite direction, my body shaking with sobs.

Chapter Text

This wasn't the worst pain I'd ever endured. I'd felt Harry's pain whenever Voldemort was near or touched him. I'd screamed and fought against Neville and Ron when I had to watch as Sirius was killed and fell through the Veil. I'd even broken my arm once when I fell from a toy broomstick as a child. But on the list of painful times in my life, having Draco break my heart sat pretty high on it. Harry could tell that something was up, but I assured him that I was completely fine, that I was just having a hard time dealing with Sirius' death and with Snape. I went out of my way to avoid Draco for the first few weeks of school, mostly out of fear that I might burst into tears at the sight of him. After that, I simply learned to ignore him when we were in the same room, and the hurt faded into anger. I had given him everything. He knew every little thing about me, knew every scar and curve on my body, whispered secrets in the dead of night. All of these things I gave to him I considered precious, yet he threw me away like I was a piece of rubbish he stepped on.

For some reason, this seemed to be the year that boys began to see girls as something other than an annoyance. I got multiple offers for Hogsmeade trips and study dates all within the first two months of school, but I rejected them all. Even though Draco had broken my heart, I didn't want to go on a date with someone that wasn't him. One boy though was relentless in his pursuit of me - the Gryffindor pretty boy Cormac McLaggen. "C'mon, Isabelle, it'll be fun. Just the two of us, a few drinks at the Three Broomsticks, maybe a little walk around the lake?" I rolled my eyes as Cormac trailed beside me on the way to Herbology. I saw Draco sitting on a ledge outside as we exited the castle, and I stopped for a moment, pausing. "Cormac, do you really want to take me out?" I asked, twirling a piece of hair around my finger flirtily. Cormac grinned, moving forward a little. "I really, really do, Isa." I could see Draco's expression change from passive to pissed when Cormac used my nickname, and it annoyed me. How dare he get angry at other men giving me attention when he was the one who cast me aside? "Fine, then. I'm free Saturday, let's take a trip to Hogsmeade." I turned on my heel and made my way down to the greenhouses, biting my lip. I had half expected, or maybe half hoped, that Draco would have stepped in and done something when he saw Cormac asking me out in front of him. But he had just sat there, watching and fuming. I guess he really didn't give a damn.

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"Hold still!" Rosie said firmly, shoving me back down into the chair by my shoulders. "You'd be fidgeting too if you were going on a date with a total prat!" I said miserably. "Isabelle, in the three years I've known you, I have never seen you go on a date. And no, going to the Yule Ball with Neville Longbottom doesn't count. That was a friend thing. You need a real date." Rosie said as the braided my hair away from my face. Looking in the mirror, I had to admit that if I was actually excited for this date I would have been pleased with my appearance. Rosie had picked out my outfit, done my makeup, and was braiding my hair back into a long, sleek plait. But, I couldn't care less. I was only going on this date to piss off Draco, and it had completely backfired. "There, you're perfect." Rosie said, stepping back to admire her work. I glanced at the clock on the wall and sighed, getting up. "Cormac's probably waiting for me." I said, getting up and grabbing my coat and bag. "Isabelle, why are you so upset about this? I know Cormac doesn't have the best personality in the world, but I've never seen a girl get mad about going on a date." I smiled sadly, feeling my chest become tight. "He isn't the one I want to go on a date with." I gave her a quick hug and exited the dormitory before she could question me, walking down the stairs to see Cormac sitting by the fireplace. He stood up when he saw me, giving me something that looked like a mixture of a smile and a smirk, probably meant to be charming but it came off as absolutely creepy. "Ah, ready then?" He said, wrapping an arm around my shoulder. I was surprised at his forwardness but just nodded, walking through the portrait hole with him and down towards the castle entrance.

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I had anticipated the date being bad, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be this awful. It wasn't hard to figure out why Cormac wanted to take me to Hogsmeade - I figured out his motives pretty quickly from his conversation choices. He was trying out for the position of the keeper on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and while he was clearly a skilled player, the competition was stiff. Apparently, Cormac figured it was a brilliant idea to romance the Captain's twin sister in an effort to get in his good graces. I didn't have the heart to tell him that his plan had already backfired. Once I mentioned to Harry that Cormac was taking me on a date, he immediately thought a little less of him just on principle. Since I wasn't stopping him, he was really going for it. I sat through endless stories of his, all meant to impress me, but I just nodded along and mumbled in acknowledgment every now and then. To say I was bored to tears was an understatement.

"Isabelle? Are you listening to me?" I snapped back into focus, sighing when I saw Cormac looking at me expectantly. "I was telling you about my family's vacation home in Bulgaria and how the former Minister of Magic got horribly drunk on Firewhiskey there last summer." He said, chuckling. I sipped my butterbeer, shrugging. "Sorry, Cormac. There's a lot on my mind." Cormac scooted over a little so that he was sitting close to me, his face strangely sympathetic. "Well, what's on your pretty little mind then? I'd love to know." He said. I opened my mouth to speak, but my words caught in my throat when I saw Draco walk into the pub, but he wasn't alone. The Slytherin Skank, Pansy Parkinson, was hanging off of Draco's arm and making love faces at him. I couldn't tell if the feeling rising inside of me was betrayal, anger, or nausea. It felt like an awful combination of all three. They took a seat at a secluded table across the room that was conveniently in my line of sight. Draco caught my eye when we sat down, and even though his face was stony, his eyes were absolutely on fire. Fine, if he wanted to play this little game, I was gonna fucking win. "It's nothing, Cormac. Please, tell me more about you. You're just so fascinating." I said, batting my eyelashes and placing my hand over his. This obviously boosted Cormac's ego and he launched into a huge speech that sounded like it was his life story. I pretended to be overly interested, laughing at the littlest things and being very touchy. I glanced over every now and then at Draco and Pansy, who were getting closer together with every passing minute. I tried not to slip into passive boredom, no matter how cringe-worthy Cormac's personality was. The final straw for me was when I looked over at Pansy and Draco again and felt my heart stop. Draco had his hands in Pansy's hair and was kissing her the way he used to kiss me - like he was drowning and I was a breath of fresh air. Every part of my body screamed at me to look away, to stop the stabbing sensation in my heart, but I couldn't. It held me in a trance, seeing him snog Pansy like it was the last thing he'd ever do. "Isabelle? Are you alright? Why are you crying?" I heard Cormac say, and I reached up to touch my face, surprised to find it wet. For some reason, the realization that I was crying was the thing that broke me and I covered my mouth as the tears came faster. "I'm sorry Cormac, I...I have to go." I choked out, getting up and hurrying out of the pub. I didn't know which way I was going, but all I knew was that I had to get away from the Three Broomsticks. When I came to my senses, I found myself at the edge of the Forbidden Forest and I dropped to my knees, unable to go further. I put my face in my hands, trying to muffle the wails my body couldn't contain. The pain was literally killing me inside.

"Trying to run away? Giving up on the Wizarding World?"

I refused to look up at the familiar voice, wiping at my eyes. I would not under any circumstances let him see me cry. I would not let him see how much he had broken me. "What the fuck do you want, Malfoy?" I said, keeping my eyes on the ground. I saw his shoes in front of me and he squatted down, grabbing my chin and forcing me to look at him. "Why did you even pull that little stunt with McLaggen? Was it supposed to make me angry, Potter? Maybe make me want you back?" I said nothing, and he smirked. "Such a silly, stupid girl, living in a little fantasy world, believing I could ever love her." I pushed him away from me, getting up quickly and glaring at him with murderous eyes. "Why can't you just leave me alone, Malfoy? You got what you wanted, didn't you? You broke my heart and threw away a three-year relationship. Why do you insist on torturing me still? You're such a foul, evil little cockroach!" I said, my voice cracking. Draco glared at me, advancing on me and yelling angrily "How dare you talk to me like that?" but he stopped dead in his tracks when I pulled out my wand and pointed it at him. "You take one more step towards me and I'll hex you into the next millennia." I said, my voice shaking with anger and sadness. Draco smirked, shaking his head. "You don't have it in you." My temper flared and I pointed my wand at a huge boulder, screaming "DIFFINDO!!" Draco watched in mild horror as the massive rock exploded into dust. "Don't. Fucking. Touch. Me." I said, feeling the tears fall down my face as Draco stared at me. "Don't touch me. Don't look at me. Don't talk to me. For as long as I live, I never want you near me again." I said, and when Draco stayed silent, I turned away, hurrying back towards the castle and hoping no one would question why I had my arms wrapped around myself and tear-streaked cheeks. Once I reached the safety of the castle, I ran to Gryffindor Tower, ignoring the questioning yells of Rosie and Ginny who were both seated in the Common Room. I burst into the dormitory, throwing myself on the bed and sobbing into my pillow. My grief took over my body and made it ache, from the top of my head all the way down to my toes. I had to face the harsh, horrible truth no matter how much I wanted to believe otherwise - Draco truly hated me, and he had never loved me.

Chapter Text

"Miss Potter, please stay after class."

I closed my eyes at the sound of Snape's voice drifting from the front of the Potions classroom, pausing as I packed up my books. "I'll be fine. You go ahead." I mumbled to Rosie, who was looking at me with concern. She squeezed my upper arm before walking out of the room with the rest of the Gryffindors, leaving me alone in the room with my dad. He cleared his throat and I looked up from the stone floor, seeing him now standing in front of his desk and fixing a stern, fatherly gaze on me. "Don't say it." I muttered, looking away from him. Snape sighed, walking up through the desks towards me. "I tried to warn you, Isabelle. Draco is nothing but trouble. You could have saved yourself from all this pain if you had just listened to me, but you're too headstrong for your own good. Just like your mother." He said, reaching out to tuck a piece of hair behind my ear. "Don't talk about my mum." I hissed, recoiling from his touch. "You didn't marry her, you didn't sleep with her, you didn't help make me. Don't talk about her like you had some kind of special connection with her, like the one I had with Malfoy." I said, my voice beginning to waver. "What is so bad about Malfoy that I had to stay away from him? Why didn't you ever approve of him?" I asked quietly, meeting Snape's eyes and I was surprised to see that he didn't have a look of smug superiority on his face. He appeared almost apologetic like he wanted to tell me everything but there was something preventing him.

"Draco is involved in something much darker than you could ever dream, Isabelle. Something I tried to protect you from your entire life. You can hate me as much as you want, but I made a vow when you were just a child - that I would protect you with my dying breath. And that means that you don't get to know everything, even if you think you deserve to know." Snape said firmly and I stared at him in disbelief. "So I just have to accept that the boy I loved turned into a dark brooding monster in the span of just a few weeks?" I yelled, and Snape set his mouth in a thin line, obviously trying to keep his temper under control. "Not everyone is as innocent as they appear to be, Isabelle. You would do well to learn that early in life." He said in a warning tone and I scoffed, grabbing my bag from the desk. "What, so I can end up like you? No thanks." I spat, turning on my heel and walking out of the room, ignoring Snape's shouts of my name. I could see Rosie waiting for me at the exit of the dungeons, and I sighed, bracing myself for her inevitable onslaught of questions. Her face softened when I got closer and she gave me a small side hug before walking up the stairs with me. "I heard yelling. You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to, I wouldn't blame you if you didn't." She said gently and I smiled gratefully at her. Rosie had matured a lot in the last year, and it hadn't gone unnoticed. She was a lot less flouncy and ditzy, and a bit more grounded and down to earth. It made her a much better friend to confide in, especially now that my life was basically turned upside down.

"I can't believe Snape was right." I mumbled to myself as I sat in the library one night a few weeks later, writing my essay for Transfigurations. "He was just bad news all along, and I was dumb enough to fall for his bloody charms."

"May I sit here?"

I recognized the voice without even looking up from my books. I raised my wand and vanished all the chairs around me, giving him my silent answer. Draco sighed and knelt down next to me. "Please, Isabelle. We need to talk." I gave him a scathing look, and I knew he felt my anger. "What in the world do we have to talk about? Last time I checked you hate me as much as I hate you, and I'm pretty sure I told you to never speak to me again." Draco looked around nervously, and I sighed, getting up. I knew Draco; he wouldn't stop trying until he got his way.

I pulled him deeper into the library, concealing us among the shelves. I wasn't worried about other students discovering us since it was well past nightfall, and most of them were already up in their dormitories. This was my favorite time to use the library - when it was quiet and empty. "Well, what did you want to say?" I said, crossing my arms and leaning back against the shelf. Draco sighed. "I'm sorry." He said and I let out a snort, laughing at him coldly. He held up his hand and shook his head. "Listen to me. There are reasons for why I said what I said. But you have to know that all of it was a lie. I love you so much and nothing can change that. I will always love you, Isa." My heart leaped at his words, but I held myself back. I didn't think I could allow myself to believe him; to let him in again. "If you even mean that, then why did you tell me all those things? What reasons could you possibly have for saying those horrible things to me by the forest?" I said. Draco looked at me sadly. "They gave me a choice: help them, or they would hurt you." My eyes widened and I stared at him. "Who?" Draco rolled up his sleeve and I gasped.

The dark ink stood out against his pale skin, and the skull with its slithering snake stared up at me menacingly. "Draco..." I said quietly, holding his hand and tracing the mark gently. He looked at me, and I could see the fear in his eyes. "I had no choice." He said, and he almost sounded like he was begging me to believe him. When I saw the pain etched on his face, I cracked and hugged him tightly, laying my head on his chest. Draco held me close to him, his arms wrapped around me. "It's going to be okay. I swear, Draco, you're going to be okay." I felt Draco shaking, and I knew he was crying. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, Isabelle. I love you. I love you so much." He said in a broken voice. "I love you too." I said, sniffling. "Isa" he started, but I cut him off. "I know what you're going to say, and you're wrong. You don't have to stay away from me to keep me safe because I'm not scared. Anything that you have to face, I'm not gonna let you face it alone. The last two months have been hell, and I'm not letting you ditch me like that again."

Draco kissed me hard and I melted into him, wrapping my arms around his neck. I was breathless when we broke apart. "Are you sure you can do this?" He murmured, brushing my hair away from my face. "I told you when we were 13 that I didn't care what anyone thought about you. That I loved you for exactly who you are. Even if you're a...Death Eater." I whispered, the word burning my tongue like acid. "It's okay. You're all I want." I said softly, placing my hand on his cheek. "You're not getting rid of me that easy, Draco." Draco grinned and held me tightly, kissing my hair. I rested my head against his chest, hearing his heartbeat relax. I felt him place something metal around my neck and I looked down, smiling when I saw my sparkling star glowing brightly against my skin. "I'll always find my way back to you, no matter what happens." Draco grinned, kissing my forehead.

I looked up at Draco, studying his face for a moment. It felt a little odd to be in this position after all the things he had said and done to me over the last few weeks. And even though I was so happy to have him back in my life, I was still painfully reminded of the words he had flung in my face like curses. I felt Draco's hands begin to trace circles into my hips, and just that simple motion was like a shock to my system. "You know, I'm still angry with you." I said quietly, and Draco's eyes widened. "But love, I" I covered his mouth with my hand, determined to milk this for all it was worth. "You said all those awful things to me. You made me cry, Draco. And on top of all that, you decided to mess around with Pansy Parkinson of all people." Draco tried to defend himself, but I shook my head, walking us back until he was pressed against the bookshelf instead of me. "You kissed her, Draco. You kissed Pansy Parkinson. Tell me, did you like it? Did kissing her feel like kissing me?" Draco pulled my hand away from his mouth, shaking his head and pulling me closer to him. "Not even close, love." He said, leaning down to capture my lips in a hard kiss. I held onto his collar, trying to keep the upper hand in this situation. "You ever think about letting her do things to you? Things you've only ever done with me?" I said breathlessly when we broke apart. Draco shook his head and I smirked, scoffing at him. "You sure about that? You were staring at her in the Hog's Head like she was an entire meal for you to devour. I think you need a little reminder of who really knows how to satisfy you."

Before Draco could respond I had dropped to my knees in front of him and was fiddling with his belt, right in the middle of the library shelves. "Isabelle are you mad? We're in the library!" Draco said, grabbing my hands. I looked up at him, eyebrows raised, and I knew he saw the dangerous look in my eye. "Why should that matter? Slytherins like danger and dark things and Pansy is a Slytherin. I'm just doing what turns you on, baby." I said, finally freeing his semi-hard length from the confines of his trousers. "Isabelle, really, you're being - oh, Merlin!" Draco moaned. I had taken him down my throat, effectively shutting him up. I held onto his legs and began to suck gently, speeding up as I saw the tell-tale signs of his impending release - shaky legs, grabbing my head, swearing more and more under his breath. I pulled away suddenly, silencing his protests with firm strokes of my hand. "Is this what you imagined with Pansy? Pushing her under the table at the pub and telling her to suck you off for all she's worth? Just some cheap fuck to make you feel a little less guilty?" I growled, beginning to speed up my hand. "A dirty slut like that would let you finish anywhere you wanted. Me, though? I don't think I'll let you finish at all."

And that was when Draco snapped.

Draco grabbed my upper arms and yanked me to my feet, meeting my mouth in a greedy kiss. I felt his hand disappear under my skirt and I gasped when he literally tore my knickers from my skin. I broke away from him, ready to yell at him for destroying my underwear, but he grabbed the backs of my thighs and lifted me up, pinning me against the bookshelf. He had both hands under my arse and I had one gripping the shelf behind me, the other hooked around his neck as my legs instinctively wrapped around his waist. "I think you've had enough fun for one night, little girl. You need some punishment too." Draco said in a dark voice, and I had to bite my lip to hold back a scream when he plunged into me, a low grunt leaving his lips. "You think I didn't see the way you hung off of that stupid prat McLaggen's every word? Those bloody bedroom eyes you were giving him? Do you know how fucking crazy you made me?" Draco said, penetrating his words with deep, slow thrusts that made me pant with need. "You deserved worse." I said, glaring at Draco, refusing to give in. Draco growled, tightening his grips on my hips to the point of it being almost painful, and began pounding in and out of me. I held onto him, throwing my head back against the books and gasping in pleasure. There was nothing gentle about this. This was pure, raw fucking, full of pent-up anger and sexual frustration. I could feel warmth beginning to pool in my stomach and I knew that I wasn't going to last much longer. Draco felt this too and forced me to look at him, his hand trailing down to my clit and rubbing furiously. "You gonna come for me? Yeah?" He said, egging me on. I looked him dead in the eye and shook my head, trying desperately to hang on. "No!" I said in the strongest voice I could muster. I wanted to finish so badly, but I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of knowing he had won. "Yes. You. Are." Draco said, punctuating each word with a rough thrust. The last thrust hit right against that hidden spot that always made me come undone, and this time was no different. I cried out and bit down on Draco's shoulder, which only made him pound into me harder as he chased his own released and dragged out mine. He swore loudly as he emptied himself inside of me, his thrusts slowing as he came down from his high. He held onto me tightly, using my body and the bookshelf to support his weight.

We were silent for what felt like forever, feeling our hearts slow down to beat in time and our breathing become calm once again. When I felt him slip out of me, I looked up at Draco shyly and saw that the fire was gone from his eyes, replaced instead with smoldering smoke that I knew so very well. "I never wanted her. I could never want someone who wasn't you. I just..." Draco trailed off, unable to find words and I spoke for him. "You just wanted to make me jealous." Draco nodded, and I bit my lip. "That's the only reason I went out with Cormac. I don't feel anything for him, Draco. I just wanted you to hurt as badly as you hurt me." I said in a small voice. Draco pressed me tighter against the bookshelf his hand coming up to hold my face. "I'll never hurt you like that again, Isabelle. I swear. You're it for me, forever." He said, his lips pressing to mine gently. I kissed him back, my arms wrapping around his neck as I gave myself over to him, choosing to believe his words. I didn't know if I'd come to regret it later, but at that moment, I didn't care. The man I loved more than life was mine again and I couldn't ask for more than that.

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I walked back to Gryffindor Tower quickly, very aware of how late it was. I wished that Draco and I could have had more time together, but we had already been pushing it with our little library rendezvous. I slipped through the Portrait Hole, trying not to disturb anyone who could possibly still be awake at this hour.

"Isabelle."

I let out a shriek when someone said my name, and I turned to see Harry sitting up beside the fire. "Merlin, Harry! You scared me half to death! What are you still doing up?" I said, my hand on my chest. Harry's face was stony, and I began to get a little nervous. "I could ask you the same thing, except why you were doing it in the library with Draco Malfoy." He said, and my eyes bugged out of my head. How could he possibly have known what we were doing? "Excuse me?" I said, my voice high. Harry pulled out the Maurauder's Map and came over, showing me the library section of it. "You and Malfoy were right there. You were obviously talking for a while. What did the ferret say to you?" I raised my eyebrows, breathing an internal sigh of relief. Harry just thought that Draco and I had been having a conversation. "He had questions about Potions, Harry. I am number two in the class after you, you know. And even Malfoy isn't above a little help if it'll make him look good in the end. Why are you so concerned about this?" I said, and Harry looked around to make sure we were truly alone. "I think Malfoy is a Death Eater."

I stared at Harry for a second, trying to not let the intense fear I felt inside show on my face. "A what? Harry, why on earth would you think that? He's sixteen. There's no way Voldemort would make him a Death Eater." Harry shook his head vehemently, frowning. "No, that's why he's the perfect candidate for being a Death Eater, Isabelle. He's a sixteen-year-old Hogwarts student, no one would ever suspect him. And before you say I'm biased don't' even go there, because Hermione already did." I held my hands up in surrender, a little shocked at Harry's outburst. "Breathe, Harry. Look, if you're going to ask me if Malfoy is a Death Eater, I don't know. And I don't think he is one at all. Malfoy is a kid just like the rest of us, Harry. I think you're a little off the mark, here." I said, kissing his cheek before heading up the stairs to bed, shaking once I was in the safety of my dormitory. I knew my brother - once he was set on something, he pursued it like a hound pursues a fox. Fear filled my heart as I thought of Draco and his already precarious situation. He didn't need my brother on his case when he already had Voldemort and his entire army breathing down his neck. I quickly changed and climbed into bed, my head swimming with thoughts of Draco and Harry and Voldemort as I descended into a restless sleep.

Chapter Text

I leaned against the wall of the seventh-floor corridor, shrinking into my jumper a little to stay warm in the drafty castle. The winter holidays started tomorrow, and since Dad and I still weren't on complete speaking terms, we had come to a mostly civil agreement that I would spend Christmas at the Burrow with Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys. It seemed that even after I had finally managed to get my man back, the universe was going to try its damnedest to keep us apart still. Tonight, for example - I had thought that after dinner I was free to get ready to meet Draco before we separated for the holidays, but Harry cornered me to talk about another stupid Death Eater Draco theory. Once I managed to brush him off and scurry up to the Common Room, Rosie dragged me into a gift-giving party with her and Elinor that I had, unfortunately, forgot about, so I had to hide Draco's present behind my back while I gave my girls their gifts. After lots of squealing, thanking, and tearful "I'll miss you"s, I managed to duck out of Gryffindor Tower and head for the seventh floor, where I now found myself struggling to stay warm as I waited for Draco. I looked down at my outfit, cursing myself for trying to dress cute instead of practical - I had donned a small black velvet pleated skirt, a ruby red jumper, and red tights with black ballet flats. Fashionable and festive? Yes. Warm? No.

"Well, this is the best Christmas present I've ever gotten."

I looked down the corridor and smirked, blushing a little when I saw Draco sauntering towards me with one hand hidden behind his back and the other shoved in his pocket. "Do you say this to every girl you see in the halls?" I teased, placing my hand on my hip and raising an eyebrow. Draco grinned, pulling me into him and looking me up and down. "Only the ones who make me forget how to breathe properly." I really blushed at that remark, smiling shyly up at him. "Let's go inside." I said quickly, turning to face the blank expanse of stone wall. "We need to celebrate the holidays." I thought over and over, looking at the cold, grey stone. Almost immediately, a small wooden door materialized in the middle of the stone and I took Draco's hand, pushing it open. Once inside, we shut and latched the door tightly, taking in our surroundings with awe.

We were in a small living room. It didn't look like the living room of Snape's house, and I was almost certain that there was no room in Malfoy Manor that looked remotely like this. It was warm and cozy, with soft couches full of blankets and pillows and a stone fireplace with a fire already roaring in the grate. The entire room was decorated for Christmas, complete with a glowing tree and warm lights and garland strung everywhere. "What is this place?" Draco said, walking a little further into the room. "My creation. I just...imagined what a Christmas with you would be like. Away from all of the madness, just the two of us." I said, and when Draco turned to look at me, his face was positively glowing - maybe at the idea of us celebrating Christmas together one day, far away from here? "Merry Christmas, Draco." I said softly, walking over and placing my hands on his cheeks, standing on tiptoe to kiss him. "Merry Christmas, indeed." He said, smiling and kissing me back. When we broke apart, I could see in his eyes the question he didn't want to ask. "An hour. Then we have to be in our dorms to catch the train tomorrow." I said, and Draco nodded, a little resigned. I absolutely hated how we never had enough time together, and how it took such a toll on our relationship no matter how strong we tried to be.

"Do you want your present?" I said, trying to lighten the mood and from the change in Draco's expression, I knew I had succeeded. He grinned and nodded and we sat down on the couch. I pulled his present from the pocket on my skirt, a piece of parchment rolled up and wrapped with a bow. I handed it to him and he undid the bow, and it took all my willpower not to giggle at the expression on his face when he saw that his Christmas present was just a blank piece of parchment. "Is this a hint to take up drawing?" Draco joked, and I shook my head. "You said the Death Eaters are beginning to monitor everything, right? Well, I worked out a way that we can talk to each other with no one else knowing. The parchment is enchanted. Whatever you write on it will appear on an identical piece that's sitting in my trunk right now. And, whatever I write on that one will show up on yours. It disappears after a few minutes, and it's completely undetectable." I said, and Draco beamed at me with pride. "You're brilliant. I love it, Isabelle." He said, leaning forward to kiss my cheek. "So, where's my present?" I said jokingly, and Draco laughed. "Close your eyes and hold out your hand." I obeyed, biting my lip in excitement. I felt something small and cold being placed on my wrist, and I opened my eyes to see a small silver chain bracelet around it. I turned my hand over and my mouth fell open a little when I saw a small silver circle with something engraved on it - the Malfoy family crest. "Draco, only Malfoys are allowed to wear the crest, I'm a Potter and even I know that." I said, looking at him wide-eyed. Draco smiled, taking my hand in his. "I know." I looked at him for a second and then gasped. "Holy hippogriffs, Draco, are you proposing!?" I exclaimed, not sure whether to be overjoyed or horrified. "No! No, not at all, Isabelle! I mean, not that I wouldn't want to but we're only sixteen and it's just that" "DRACO." I said firmly, cutting him off. Draco took a deep breath, gathering his thoughts before speaking again. "It's not a proposal, Isabelle. But it's a promise. A promise that I fully intend to keep, because I want you to be Isabelle Malfoy one day."

I practically launched myself at Draco, throwing my arms around his neck and kissing him hard as tears sprang to my eyes. He wanted to marry me. He wanted us to get married and have a family and grow old together. Draco pulled me into his lap so I was straddling him, holding me there and kissing me back with fervor. I could have stayed like this forever - wrapped up in my lover's arms, doing what we do best, but both of us knew in the back of our minds that our time in this room was coming to a close and fast. We stayed like that for a few moments more, reveling in the quiet stillness of the room, save for the crackling fire, and the soft glow of the lights around us. "It's only for the holidays." Draco murmured, chuckling when I refused to let go of him when we stood up. "Three whole weeks without you." I grumbled, looking up at him with sad eyes. Draco leaned down, pecking me lightly as we walked towards the door. "Don't the muggles have some kind of saying that goes 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'?" He said, and I nodded. "Yeah, they do. It's hippogriff shit." Draco laughed loudly, and the sound brought a smile to my face. He had seemed so stressed lately that seeing him like this, relaxed and happy because of me, made me feel invincible. "We can try out that magic parchment of yours, yeah?" Draco said as we reached the door, both of us stalling our inevitable. I nodded, hesitating for a second before wrapping my arms around his neck and hugging him tightly, burying my face in the crook of his neck. "It's not forever, Isabelle. And just think, one day soon, we'll have forever all to ourselves." He said, rubbing my back soothingly. I smiled against his skin, thinking about the amazing future Draco and I had ahead of us and suddenly, three weeks didn't seem so awful after all.

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I was wrong. three weeks was absolutely awful. I made it all of three days before I packed a bag and left Snape's house, escaping through the Floo Network to the Burrow. I could hear him yelling from the drawing room when the roar of the emerald green flames echoed through the downstairs, but I had disappeared into the fire just as he walked into the kitchen. I landed hard in the Weasley's large fireplace, stumbling out of it onto the kitchen floor as I tried to find my balance. Coughing and brushing the soot off of me, I looked up to see a kindly-faced Mrs. Weasley standing in front of the sink, smiling at me. "If you can't handle the Floo Network, how are you going to handle apparition, dear?" She said, coming forward to brush some soot from my hair and face. I chuckled, giving her a hug. "You just missed dinner, but I can whip up something quickly if you'd like?" Mrs. Weasley offered, and I shook my head. "No, please, don't trouble yourself. The fact that you're letting me spend Christmas here means everything to me. Would you mind if I just settled in for the night?" I asked and Mrs. Weasley nodded, kissing my forehead before walking back to the sink to finish washing the dishes. I smiled sadly at her retreating figure, a bittersweet feeling filling my heart. Her love and attention had been a constant since the day I met her, and I was always treated like I was one of her own children but it made me feel sad - I couldn't help but imagine my own mother in her place, worrying about my studies or if I was getting enough to eat, arguing with me about how I styled my hair or giving me advice about boys.

As I walked into the living room, I raised my eyebrows when I saw Harry and Ginny sitting quite close to each other on the sofa, feeding each other Christmas sweets. "Hi, Isabelle!" Ron said cheerfully, walking up behind me and giving me a side hug before settling down between Harry and Ginny. I covered my mouth to stifle a laugh at the flush on Harry's cheeks and the annoyance on Ginny's face. "Come with me Isa, I'll help you get settled." Ginny said, throwing her brother a venomous glare before leading me up the stairs to her room. "You get the other bed this time, Hermione is on holiday with her parents so she won't be joining us." Ginny said and I set my bag down on the bed, smiling gratefully at her. "I really appreciate you guys letting me stay here. Christmas at Snape's house isn't really a jolly affair. And I know my brother appreciates you lot letting him be here as well." I said, winking at Ginny and laughing at the scarlet blush that covered her face. "I'm that obvious?" She said and I nodded, sitting on the bed and patting the space next to me, holding her hand as she sat down. "Yes, but he's not much better. Trust me, I know my brother well enough to know when he likes someone. It's taken him an entire millennium to open his eyes, but he likes you, Gin." I said, smiling warmly at her. Ginny squeezed my hand, returning my smile. "Thanks, Isa. Oh, is this a new bracelet?" She said, seeing the flash of silver under my jumper sleeve. My heart froze in horror as she pushed the sleeve up before I could stop her, and I knew from the look in her eye that she recognized the crest. "No." She said, staring at me in disbelief. "Ginny, please, let me explain." I begged but Ginny didn't listen and instead jumped up, bolting for the door.

I grabbed my wand and pointed it at her bedroom door, casting "Colloportus!" and sealing the only exit from the room. Ginny quickly snatched her wand from the dresser but I was one step ahead of her, pointing mine at her and whisper-yelling, "Expelliarmus!". Ginny's wand flew into the air and I quickly caught it, earning me an incredulous and angry look from Ginny. "Isabelle, what the bloody hell are you doing?" She hissed, and I threw both our wands on the bed, holding my hands in front of me. "Please, Ginny, just hear me out. Please." Ginny crossed her arms over her chest and stared at me, nodding her head for me to go on. "You have one minute." She said simply and I took a deep breath, trying to collect myself. "I know what you're thinking. And you're right. This is the Malfoy crest, and I'm wearing it because I'm dating a Malfoy." Ginny's mouth dropped open but I rushed on, not allowing her to speak. "I've been dating Draco since our third year, and he's not a bad man, Ginny. He's not. He's nothing like the things that Harry is accusing him of and he's certainly not a Death Eater." I insisted, lying through my teeth. "He's a good man, he's kind, he loves and protects me, and he has a good heart, Ginny. He really does." Ginny frowned, looking at the door and looking at me. "You know, if Harry asks me about this-" She said but I raised a hand to cut her off. "I would never ask you to lie for me. But Harry doesn't suspect a thing. He's pretty damn thick in the head for someone who hangs around the brightest witch of our age. All I'm asking is that you don't rat me out and expose Draco and I because I'm a big girl, Ginny. I'm old enough to make my own decisions and get myself into trouble if I want. None of this has been smooth sailing but we've managed to stay together for over three years. I'm in love with him, Gin, and he loves me. I know that this is a terrible secret to keep but please don't reveal us before we're ready." Ginny bit her lip, taking all of this in and thinking for a few moments before speaking. "I won't say anything. But like you said, if Harry asks me, I'm not going to lie to him. I hope you know what you're doing, Isabelle." Ginny said, taking her wand from the dresser and casting the Alohamora charm on the door, walking back down to the raucous living room. I sat on the bed with a thump, a huge sigh leaving my body. I had spent three years dodging questions and tripping up and almost getting exposed to all our friends, but now I was placing the secrecy of Draco's and my relationship in the hands of a woman who I normally believed I could trust with anything, but now...maybe not. Looking out the window to the moonlight fields beyond the Burrow, I drew my knees up to my chest and rested my chin on them. "Two weeks and four days." I murmured to myself, my mind drifting off to a future Christmas spent far away from here, with snow and mistletoe and a certain silvery-blonde haired man.

Chapter Text

Our second term was surprisingly normal, at least compared to the last few years here. Harry, however, couldn't let this last and made it his personal mission to prove to everyone that Draco was a Death Eater. Of course, this was when he wasn't off with Dumbledore on their secret memory missions. Harry wouldn't tell me what was going on at his meetings with Dumbledore and to make things worse, Draco was keeping secrets from me now too.

I realized that Draco wasn't being entirely truthful with me a few weeks into the second term, and I found out from Harry of all people. We were sat in the Common Room doing school work, but Harry kept staring out the window. "Penny for your thoughts, Harry?" I said teasingly and he shook his head to clear it, looking at me. "What's on your mind?" I asked, laying my quill down and looking at Harry curiously. "It's Malfoy." He said simply and I groaned, turning back to my homework. "Oh god, not this again. Harry, I'm starting to think you're obsessed with Malfoy. What did you see him doing now, walking to Potions a few minutes late?" I said in exasperation. "It's not just Malfoy, Isabelle. It's Snape too." My head snapped up at the mention of my dad and I looked at Harry suspiciously. "What about Snape?" I asked and Harry looked around the Common Room to make sure no one was eavesdropping before leaning in to speak a little quieter. "Malfoy was caught trying to sneak into Slughorn's party, and Snape personally escorted him out. Something about the way they were looking at each other didn't seem right so I snuck after them and listened." I held my breath as Harry talked, terrified of what he was going to say next - did he hear something that he really shouldn't have? "Malfoy and Snape were arguing in the corridor. Malfoy was yelling something along the lines of 'I don't need anyone to help me' or 'You don't have to watch me' or whatever. But it's what Snape said that caught me off guard. He said he made an Unbreakable Vow, that he must help Malfoy. He sounded really on edge too, like his life depended on it."

My blood ran cold at Harry's words, and my eyes widened. "Are you sure you heard him correctly?" I said, my voice almost edging desperation. Harry nodded, his eyes confused. "Yeah, absolutely sure. But why would Snape make an Unbreakable Vow? What even is an Unbreakable Vow?" He asked, and I bit my lip. "It's a magical agreement between two people, a binding contract. You make a vow to the other person, and it's sealed in magic by a third person. The reason it's called an Unbreakable Vow is that if you break it...you die. That's why Snape was so insistent on Malfoy listening to him and following his orders. If Snape doesn't fulfill his end of the vow, he'll die." I said, my voice ending in a whisper as the gravity of the situation set in. I had never taken Snape seriously when he talked about how dangerous Draco was and how I had to stay away from him, but now his words in the Potion room came back to haunt me, clear as day; "Draco is involved in something much darker than you could ever dream. Not everyone is as innocent as they appear to be, Isabelle. You would do well to learn that early in life", he had told me. Suddenly I was struggling for air. "What do you think the vow was about, Isabelle? Do you remember anyone strange visiting Snape recently?" Harry asked, trying not to be a nudge but still acting like one anyway. The memories from the day where Wormtail had locked me in my room came back to me in a rush - the female voices in the drawing room, the fight with Snape after they had left. If I had been struggling for air before, now I was absolutely drowning. The world was closing in on me and I had nowhere to run. I looked down at my bag and saw my enchanted parchment tucked into the inside pocket. I grabbed it and quickly scribbled "Meet me in the Astronomy Tower now", shoving it back into my back before Harry could see what I had written. "I don't know. But if it's truly that important to you, I can ask Snape. It probably won't give you the answers you're looking for, but I'm willing to try for you." I said, and Harry squeezed my hand. "You're a great sister, Isabelle. Really, you are." He said sincerely, and I gave him a smile that didn't quite meet my eyes. "I'm going to take a walk around the castle, see if I can't find Snape skulking around somewhere. Don't wait up for me, yeah?" I said, shoving my things back into my bag and leaving it with Harry, walking as casually as I could through the Portrait Hole before hurrying towards the Astronomy Tower.

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I leaned against the balcony of the Astronomy Tower and watched as the clouds drifted lazily through the starry night sky, shivering a little in the breezy night. The conversation I had just had with Harry echoed in my head and I closed my eyes, trying to clear my mind. I hadn't fully accepted that Draco was a Death Eater because I didn't want to believe that he could be involved in something so sinister and so evil, whether it was his choice or not. I had always believed him when he said that it wasn't his choice, but knowing what I know now, I was starting to doubt that Draco was being honest with me about this. Or about anything, really. "Been a while since we met up here." I heard behind me and I turned to see Draco standing at the top of the stairs, smirking at me. "Craving another little midnight rendezvous under the stars, love?" He said suggestively, walking over to me but I moved away from his touch. "Isabelle, what's wrong?" Draco said, his brow furrowed in confusion at my reaction. "I just left Gryffindor Tower, after talking to Harry. He told me that he saw you and Snape after Slughorn's Christmas Party at the end of the last term. You were arguing about something. You told Snape you didn't need any help, that you could do this on your own and you didn't need anyone to protect you. Snape said he made an Unbreakable Vow." I said, looking up at Draco seriously. When he didn't say anything, I pressed on. "Last summer, two women came to my house. One of them was Bellatrix Lestrange. The other was a blonde woman, her's was the same shade of blonde as your hair. I know it was your mother, Draco." I said, and a flash of fear ran through Draco's eyes - I knew I had caught him. "Draco, just tell me the truth. What is going on?" I said, reaching out for him but he yanked his hand away, just like he had at the beginning of the year. "It's none of your concern." He said in a cold voice, and I narrowed my eyes at him. "It's absolutely my concern! My father and my boyfriend are involved in a horrible dark conspiracy and I'm not allowed to know anything about it? That's pure shit and you know it Draco." I spat and Draco turned his back to me, trying to shut me out. I wasn't having any of it.

"Just fucking talk to me, Draco! Why can't you tell me what's going on?" I said, huffing in irritation. Draco groaned loudly, his whole body on edge. "You just...I can't...no, Isa, okay? I just can't." He said, his frustration evident as he paced the Astronomy Tower. I crossed my arms, moving closer to him. "We agreed, no more secrets. You promised there would be nothing hidden between the two of us, and you're hiding something. What is going on that's so horrible you can't even tell me of all people?" I said, getting angry. "I have to kill Dumbledore!" Draco blurted out.

The world stopped around me. Neither of us moved. The only sound in the Tower was Draco's heavy breathing, his eyes wide as the adrenaline of confessing coursed through his veins. I was silent for a moment, staring at him in disbelief. I must have heard him wrong. He couldn't have said that he had to kill the Headmaster of Hogwarts, the man who had delivered Harry and me to the people that kept us safe for 10 years. The man who had acted as a guiding light to the both of us since we arrived at Hogwarts. There was absolutely no way Draco had said that he was going to murder Albus Dumbledore. "You're not serious." I said quietly, looking up at him. Draco sighed and shook his head, closing his eyes. "You-Know-Who's orders. It has to be me. No one would suspect a student. It's how I need to prove to them that I'm truly a Death Eater." My mouth fell open at the way he talked about it - like he was explaining the steps to fixing a broken sink. He spoke so casually and calmly about killing Dumbledore that, for the first time in our relationship, I was scared of Draco.

"Draco...you can't. You can't kill Dumbledore." I whispered, my voice shaking.

Draco shook his head, staring at the floor, out of the balcony towards the night sky, anywhere but at me. "Draco, listen to me. Look at me!" I said, standing in front of him and grabbing his arms. I brushed my fingers over the spot where the Dark Mark was inked into his skin, and he shuddered. "You said that this would prove to them that you're truly a Death Eater, but you're not one though, and you'll never be one." Draco stared at me, his grey eyes full of anger and fear. "Maybe I am." He said, wrenching his arms out of my grasp. "Maybe I am a Death Eater, Isabelle. Maybe this is what I was meant to be. I'm a Slytherin. My family lies down at Voldemort's feet like a pack of sniveling dogs when he wants them to and my father practically worships the bastard. Maybe I should join Voldemort's side; Merlin knows that's what everyone else wants."

Tears were pouring down my face at this point in Draco's little rant. I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around his middle, hugging him. "It's not what I want." I said, and I felt Draco soften a little. "You're not a Death Eater." I sniffed, pulling away to look at him. "You're Draco. You're a Slytherin but you have the heart of a Gryffindor. You're not your father, you're nothing like him. You're smart and resourceful and caring and loving. You're not like Voldemort. He destroys anything and everything that's good in this world, just because he can. And more than anything, Draco, Voldemort wants to kill my brother and I. You don't want me to die. Everyone else does, but you don't. I'm not like your family and their friends, Draco; I don't want you to be a Death Eater. I don't want to die at your hands." I finished, watching as Draco's eyes filled with tears. He clutched me to him, his chest shaking with frustrated sobs. "I know you'll do what's right, love." I whispered, rubbing his back soothingly. "You know in your heart what you have to do." I said as he clung to me, crying out his frustration. I ran my hands across his back and shoulder blades slowly, pressing kisses to his chest through his jumper. Soon, Draco's cries began to subside and he became calmer, still holding me against him but not like his life depended on it. "It's late, Draco. We need to get to the dormitories before we're caught." I said sadly, not wanting to leave him like this. "I know." Draco said in a rough voice, his hands still holding my body against his. We were both quiet and still for a moment, just standing there wrapped up in each other until Draco pulled away and pressed his lips against mine. I sighed and kissed him back, my eyes fluttering shut. "Come with me. Stay with me tonight." He murmured, his hands teasing the skin between my shirt and the waistband of my skirt. I hesitated for a moment before whispering, "Okay" and opening my eyes to see the grin on his face. I gave Draco one last kiss before casting an Invisibility Spell on myself, letting Draco lead the way down to the dungeons.

Draco and I made it through the dungeons and into the Slytherin common room with no problems. I had never seen the Slytherin house before and was surprised that it wasn't more dark and cold than it was. It had a very chilly air to it, and from the windows near the ceiling, I could tell from the green light filtering in that we were under the lake. All of the furniture was black leather, and there were emerald green accents everywhere. We had almost gotten into the dormitories when someone stepped in front of us, and I had to clap my hand over my mouth to keep myself from cursing. Pansy was looking at Draco and touching his chest, trying to be seductive but failing miserably. "Draco, love, how about you come to my bed tonight? You've looked so stressed lately." She said, batting her eyelashes and playing with his tie. Draco stepped away from her, moving towards the dormitories. "No, Pansy. For the hundredth time, no." I could feel my blood boiling as she continued to call out to Draco, even after we slipped through the door to his dormitory. I sat on his bed quickly, raising myself up on my knees. "Was that Pansy again?" I heard Knott say, coming into the room in his pajamas. "Yeah, bloody tart won't leave me alone." Draco grumbled, loosening his tie and tossing it onto the bedspread. He changed into his pajamas quickly, nodding and half-heartedly laughing at the comments from his friends about how desperate and easy Pansy was. I looked at the silver and green tie he had haphazardly thrown onto the sheets, and got a wicked idea. I ran my wand over my clothes, smiling as I felt a ripple underneath my uniform.

"Well lads, I'm turning in for the night. Not feeling so hot." Draco said, climbing into his bed and closing his curtains. He quickly cast a Disillusionment Charm and a Silencing Spell, and a nifty little charm that made his bed bigger without his mates noticing. I lifted my charm and looked at him, eyebrows raised. "How long has that slag been throwing herself all over you?" I said, crossing my arms. Draco groaned, reaching out to me but I scooted back against the headboard. "Isa, come on, she's nothing but some slag who won't take no for an answer. Seriously, it's a bit sad." He said, slipping off my shoes and tossing them aside and rubbing my feet through my knee highs. I bit my lip, refusing to give in so easily. "You know what's sad? The fact that I can't show that skank who you're really whipped for." I smirked, watching Draco laugh lightly. "That would be quite a show." He agreed and I placed my foot on Draco's chest, pushing him onto his back and straddling him. "I can think of a show you'd like even more." I said seductively, loosening my tie and dropping it on the bed. Draco's eyes widened as I began to undo the buttons of my shirt ever so slowly, purposefully dragging this out. I wanted him wild. When he saw the first glimpse of the satin emerald green and silver bra, he let out a low, appreciative moan. "It gets better." I whispered, slipping my shirt off and biting back a smile when Draco muttered a string of curse words under his breath. I undid the zipper on my skirt, letting it fall away from my body. If Draco had moaned at the sight of my Slytherin bra, he positively whimpered when he saw the matching thong. "You look so fucking good in green, baby." He said, sitting up and letting his hands go right to my arse. I gave him a wicked smile, reaching behind me to fiddle with my bra clasp and watching Draco's eyes go wide again. Time to give him a show he'll never forget.

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"Are the spells are still working?" I said, propping my chin on Draco's chest, smiling when I felt his hand running through my hair. "Isa, if they weren't, the lads would be asking what bird I had brought back to the dormitories. You're not exactly quiet." Draco said, chuckling. I frowned and smacked his chest lightly, blushing. "Never said it was a bad thing. I quite like hearing you scream for me." Draco said, hissing when I leaned up and bit his neck, and quickly kissed the angry red mark I left. "Little minx..." He growled, making me giggle and silencing me with a heavy kiss. I sighed when we broke apart, not wanting to speak the nagging words that floated around in my mind. "I need to get back."

I laid there with Draco for a few more moments, basking in the stillness that surrounded us before forcing myself to get dressed and cast an Invisibility Spell on myself, finally making my sneaky escape from the Slytherin dormitories. I kept the charm up as I walked through the halls, not sure if there were any teachers patrolling the halls tonight. I began climbing the stairs and almost reached the last one to Gryffindor Tower when I stopped dead in my tracks - Dumbledore was walking down the corridor, observing the paintings. I stayed completely still as he walked by, praying that he didn't notice me. I thought I was in the clear once he passed, but of course, Dumbledore was full of surprises. "I've never known a student to cast such a good Invisibility Spell on themselves. I daresay you inherited your mother's talent for charms." Dumbledore said casually, studying a painting of a sleeping unicorn. I froze, looking at him in shock. Could he really see me? "There's no need to worry, Isabelle. I won't report you to McGonagall, as long as you tell me why you're out of bed at such a late hour." Dumbledore said, turning to me. I sighed and let my charm down, and Dumbledore gave me a small smile. "How did you know I was there?" I asked, walking over to him. "You would be surprised the kind of things you're able to do at my age, Isabelle. Now, what were you doing out this late? I'm sure your father wouldn't be too pleased about this if he knew?" Dumbledore said and I looked at the floor pointedly. "We haven't been getting along lately." I said quietly, thinking about how little Dad and I had spoken over the past few months. "Could this perhaps be because of Mr. Malfoy?" Dumbledore asked, and I looked at him in fear. Did he know? How could Dumbledore possibly know about Draco and me? Dumbledore smiled again, looking at me now instead of the painting. "Draco is a good man at heart. But he is embroiled in a situation that you cannot possibly begin to understand. He is a dangerous person to love." Dumbledore said, and I shook my head. 'I...I know, sir. But I love him regardless. I know that he's my soulmate. Draco makes me feel safe in the middle of this chaos." I said sincerely, and Dumbledore nodded, his face thoughtful. "It is quite rare to find a love like the one you two share. Guard it well, Isabelle. Things are going to change forever, sooner than we think, but if you and Draco have each other I know you will make it through. Now, run along to your dormitory before you bump into another professor." Dumbledore said, patting my shoulder and pushing me along my way.

Dumbledore's words stayed with me, echoing in my mind as I made my way to Gryffindor Tower. While it was comforting to know that someone I valued so highly in my life approved of mine and Draco's relationship, his words also scared me. Things were going to change? Did he know about Draco's orders to kill him? As I walked into the Tower, I sighed when I saw Harry asleep on the couch beside the fire. I shook his shoulder gently to wake him up, jumping back a little when he started. "Huh? Oh, Isabelle, you're back. You were gone for a while, did you find Snape?" Harry asked, sitting up and yawning. I nodded, trying to look convincing. "Yeah, but I couldn't get anything out of him. I don't know, Harry, maybe you're just barking up the wrong tree? I'm going to bed, I'll see you in the morning." I said, heading up to the girls' dormitory. I changed into my pjs quickly and laid my head down in my own bed, more unsettled than I had been all night. If only I had known what was to come in the weeks ahead, this would have seemed like nothing.

Chapter Text

Standing in the crowded courtyard, everything seemed to move slowly. I felt myself moving towards the front of the crowd, standing in shocked silence when I saw Harry on his knees next to Dumbledore's lifeless body. Only hours earlier, I had seen Harry in the Common Room, wishing him good luck on whatever mission he had with Dumbledore that night, and urging him to be safe. The words echoed in my mind now as I stared numbly at the sight before me. I didn't realize I was crying until I felt the tears dripping onto my shirt. I felt someone link their arm with mine and I turned my head to see Rosie laying her head on my shoulder, in tears like me. To my left, I saw Ginny break away from the crowd to go to Harry, wrapping her arms around him as his body began to shake with the force of his sobs. This sight made me start to cry harder as the realization set in that Dumbledore was dead. He was truly gone. Harry's and my last protector was lying dead on the stone surface of the cold courtyard and through the heartbreaking sadness, one thought sat clear in my mind. "Did Draco really do it?" I whispered. The clouds parted and I looked up and saw the emerald green Dark Mark shining in the dark night sky, making my stomach turn. McGonagall seemed to notice it too and she raised her wand, and through her silent tears I could see her murmur "Lumos." The students slowly followed suit, raising their hands to lift their wands and illuminate the black sky. I watched as the light from our wands slowly dissolved the Dark Mark, letting Dumbledore's killers know that their evil wasn't welcome here - they couldn't hurt us.

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The sun was coming up, weak rays of light beginning to filter through the windows of the common room. I drew my knees up to my chest as I sunk against the back of the couch, watching the dying embers in the large fireplace smolder and smoke before sputtering out into nothing. As the students had been ushered away from the courtyard and back into their dormitories, the halls had been filled with sniffles, whimpers, sobs, and screams. Everyone was in a state of mourning and shock, and no one knew what to do. Of course, there were protocols in place for a situation like this, but no one wanted to believe the horrible truth that Dumbledore was dead. Our fearless leader was gone and had left us adrift in a sea of uncertainty and fear. The way he had died made everything hurt a little more. Dumbledore had died at the hands of evil, in such a violent and tragic way. It was hard to imagine a world without Albus Dumbledore, a man who had been a guiding light to so many of us, but it was happening. The nightmare was becoming a reality. I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up to see Harry standing behind me and I immediately got up, coming around the couch to hug him tightly. "I'm so sorry, Harry. I'm so sorry." I said, tears starting to fill my eyes again. Harry hugged me close, leaning his cheek on my head. I could feel the hurt radiating from his body and it killed me inside. "We're gonna be okay. I don't know how, but we will be." I said, trying to comfort him. Harry moved his head and I looked up at him, and his eyes were a mixture of hurt and shock. "I have to tell you something, Isabelle." I looked at Harry uncertainly and nodded my head, and he pressed on. "In the Astronomy Tower, Draco was there. He had his wand pointed at Dumbledore and he was saying he had to kill him, and showed him his Dark Mark. He's really a Death Eater, Isabelle." My eyes widened and my heart dropped at Harry's words, and my voice shook when I spoke. "S-so, Draco killed Dumbledore?" Harry shook his head, his eyes turning angry and sad. "No, he didn't. Snape did. The Half-Blood Prince." Harry said, venom in his voice. I stared at him blankly, his words not really registering. "W-What?" I whispered, and Harry nodded, his face stony. "I watched him kill Dumbledore, Isabelle. He cast the Killing Curse." I detached from Harry, shaking my head. "No, no, that's not possible. No. He wouldn't...Dad is a lot of things but he's...he's not a killer. He's not!" I yelled, almost begging Harry to believe me. Harry grabbed my shoulders roughly and shouted in my face, "HE KILLED HIM! SNAPE KILLED DUMBLEDORE, ISABELLE!". Harry's words stunned me and it took less than a second before the realization hit me and I broke down in hard, body-wracking sobs. I dropped to the floor and Harry pulled me into his lap, letting me cry on his shoulder. As angry as I was with Dad, he was the last adult that I felt like I could trust, and now that trust had been shattered. My dad was a killer - he had murdered the man who had worked tirelessly to protect Harry and me from Voldemort for 16 years. "I'm sorry, Isabelle. I'm sorry." Harry repeated over and over, holding me against him as he let me scream and cry until I had nothing left in me. I had never felt so broken before in my life. I hadn't felt a father-daughter bond with Snape for months, but that didn't mean I didn't still love him. I still thought of him as a father on some level, but now I didn't know what to think. If I couldn't trust my own family, then who could I trust?

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A few days later, after the funeral had ended and the guests had left the grounds, I wandered up to the Astronomy Tower, simply out of reflex. I wasn't sure if it was because I needed to see where Dumbledore had taken his last breath, or if I knew Draco would be there. I climbed the final step and saw Draco sitting on the floor, his head in his hands. I moved towards him, resting on my knees beside him. Draco looked at me, his face streaked with tears. "I didn't, Isabelle, I swear." I wiped the tears from his cheeks, trying not to cry at the sight of him. "I know. Snape killed him. You don't have it in you, Draco. You're not a killer, and I thank Merlin for that every single day." I said, trying to keep the shaking in my voice to a minimum. Draco held onto me, his forehead resting on my shoulder as the sobs shook his body. "They're going to kill me, Isabelle. They'll kill my mum and dad. I couldn't kill Dumbledore, so they're going to kill me." He said, his voice full of fear for the first time in forever. "You're not going to die, Draco. I won't let them kill you because then I'd have to die. I can't live without you." I said softly, running my hands through his hair. "Have faith, love. Things will be alright." I whispered, rubbing his back. Moments like these terrified me - moments when one of us let our walls down and became vulnerable around the other because it was a whole new level of intimacy for us to explore. These days, it seemed to be a little more one-sided, with Draco needing more emotional support than ever, which I was more than willing to give to him. I wasn't used to having to be the brave one in our relationship, but if Draco couldn't be strong, then I would be his strength.

Chapter Text

The Wizarding World is at war. Voldemort is back and stronger than ever, and his army is slowly expanding across Britain. Even Hogwarts has been compromised. With the Golden Trio on the hunt for Voldemort's horcruxes, it is up to Isabelle Potter and her friends to defend Hogwarts against those who would see it destroyed and to fight back against the Dark Forces. Isabelle has more to lose than ever, and never before has her world been in such danger - this is the end.