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Ascending Emerald

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Millicent Bulstrode is a child. She is a small child with a round face and heavy eyebrows that people say she got from her great-grandmother, Lady Bulstrode. She is a child when she discovers that her favorite thing to eat is the house-elf's cream pastries. It changes to mille-feuilles in a week, though. She is a child when she first does accidental magic and there is a party with the children from other pureblood families, children that she knows, children that she plays with. The adults sit at the big-people table and laugh when she turns Gregory Goyle's eyebrows pink.

Millicent is eleven. She's in Diagon Alley, buying her books. She's in Madame Malkin's, and Madame Malkin mutters distractedly that they're going to need extra fabric, pulling out more and more as Millicent is caught in between swathes of fabric. That's the first time she sees the twist of her mother's face, and she doesn't understand. She is eleven and eating ice-cream, and her mother snatches it before she is finished, saying, "That's enough now, Milly." She is eleven when she doesn't understand because her mother has never taken food away from her before.

She is on the Hogwarts Express when she meets Pansy Parkinson, who laughs when Milly says her name, but shares her cauldron cakes and sneers at the boy who remarks that Milly's stuffing her face. She is eleven, when she sits on the stool, pudgy legs barely reaching the ground, and places the Sorting Hat on her head. It discards Gryffindor and Ravenclaw easily, and she's not surprised – she's never been the first to volunteer for games with the other pureblood children and she's never cared much for books. But it does say Hufflepuff once and Millicent almost screams in horror and the Hat sighs. It says she's chosen a difficult path, but Milly doesn't care, Milly wants to make her mother proud. She's eleven when she sees some disappointed faces when she walks to her house table, and Pansy beams brightly at her. Draco nods - she's known him since she was a child – but is too focused on the Potter boy to say anything else. She is in first year when the Potter boy is sorted, and she wonders if no-one else notices that his eyes are Slytherin-green. It is clear that his mind has already been poisoned – he looks at Slytherins with distrust, like everyone else looks at them.

Millicent is in first year when she asks if she can play with two Ravenclaw girls - she loves Exploding Snap - and they sneer and tell her they don't trust her enough to not cheat. Milly wants to tell them that she doesn't cheat unless she really, really wants to win and it's only a game, but Pansy shows up at the right time, mocks the girls and hustles Milly back to the common room. She helps her knot her tie, gives her a green scrunchie to tie her hair (even though it's really too short) and says that they don't need other houses.

She is in first year when she has her first flying lesson and Madam Hooch says she might be a little too heavy for the broom, so she shouldn't try it right now, maybe just watch? So she watches as Draco, who hasn't gotten over Potter's rejection of his friendship, takes Longbottom's little toy and chaos ensues. As Draco goes higher, Pansy grips her arm, blunt nails digging into her skin, but still she doesn't allow Milly to try and help. If he wants it, he'll ask for it, she says and Milly slowly begins to learn.

She is in first-year when they win the House Cup, and then they don't, and she experiences joy then plummeting disappointment for the first time. All the other houses cheer, because it's Gryffindor, it's always Gryffindor and no-one seems to be able to stomach a Slytherin triumph. Milly is learning.