“Tea? With the groundskeeper? Why?” Pansy asked before taking a sip out of her own cup.
“To be honest, I don’t really know. I think it's some sort of bonding thing. He knew my parents, remember?”
“Yeah maybe.” Said Daphne quietly. Emmelia could barely hear the girl.
She leaned forward and attempted to make the girl speak louder, ”What? I can’t hear you, speak up.”
Daphne glared lightly at her before repeating what she’d said at a normal speaking volume.
“Are you going or no?”
Emmelia shrugged as gracefully as she could, “I don’t see why not. He’s a little intimidating, true, but he’s been nothing but nice to me. To be honest, after watching him while he’s at the staff table, I’d say he’s a bit of a gentle giant. Well, not exactly gentle per se, but he obviously isn’t trying to hurt anyone.”
“Actually, do you guys want to come with me? And Neville and Hermione too.” she looked over her shoulder towards the Gryffindor table,
Pansy scrunched up her nose at the idea of bringing the lions along. Or maybe it was just Hermione, Emmelia wasn’t sure. Though she mostly kept it to herself, it was obvious that Pansy didn’t feel comfortable around muggleborns. She seemed to be getting better about Hermione though, so maybe it wasn’t that.
Daphne smiled and said she’d go, and Pansy reluctantly agreed.
The brunette looked thoughtful for a moment, “Are you sure there isn’t another reason why you want to go?”
She leaned in closer to both the girls and whispered, “Also, I think he knows something about what was stolen from vault seven hundred and thirteen.”
Daphne put down the scene he was nibbling on and looked at her quizzically, “Why do you think that? I mean, no offense, but Hagrid doesn’t seem like he’s a strong enough wizard to break into Gringotts.”
Emmelia laughned, “I don’t mean that he tried to steal it, I mean that I think he knows what the person was trying to steal. Same with McGonagall, but I have a feeling that we’ll get more answers out of Hagrid. I mean, his reaction when he read the paper the other day said it all.”
“I thought you said that you were going to leave this alone?” Pansy pointed out.
“Yes, I know Pansy darling, but something in my head keeps telling me that I’m missing something. I might not be as invested as Hermione, but it's still suspicious. And also blackmail material against Dumbeldore if he happens to be hosting a dangerous object in a school full of children."
“Fine, we’ll go with you.” Pansy finally managed a laugh.
“Right, me too. I’m sure it’ll be fun. I hear that Hagrid had lots of creatures that he can show us.” Daphne said.
Emmelia smiled fondly at the shy girl, Daphne was always so sweet.
“I’ll write to him, we’ll go this Sunday.”
At five to three they left the castle and made their way across the grounds. Hagrid lived in a small wooden house on the edge of the forbidden forest. A crossbow and a pair of large boots were outside the front door.
When Emmelia knocked they heard a frantic scrabbling from inside and several booming barks. Then Hagrid's voice rang out, saying, "Back, Fang -- back."
Hagrid's big, hairy face appeared in the crack as he pulled the door open.
"Hang on," he said. "Back, Fang."
He let them in, struggling to keep a hold on the collar of an enormous black dog.
There was only one room inside. Hams and pheasants were hanging from the ceiling, a copper kettle was boiling on the open fire, and in the corner stood a massive bed with a patchwork quilt over it.
"Make yerselves at home," said Hagrid, letting go of Fang, who bounded straight at Daphne and started licking her ears. Like Hagrid, Fang was clearly not as fierce as he looked.
"This is Daphne Greengrass," Emmelia told Hagrid, who was pouring boiling water into a large teapot and putting rock cakes onto a plate, “And that’s Pansy Parkinson, and Hermione Granger. Neville is my friend too, but he couldn’t make it.”
"Nice to meet yeh all.” He looked uncomfortable, “Wasn’t sure you’d come, yeh know. What with being in Slytherin and all. Thought you might think me some filthy half breed. That’s why I waited so long to ask yeh.”
“Oh nonsense, Hagrid, sir. All my friends and I are open minded.” She said in a sickeningly sweet voice. She saw Pansy fake a gag behind her, and shot her a look.
The rock cakes were shapeless lumps with raisins that almost broke their teeth, but Emmelia and Hermione pretended to be enjoying them (Daphne was discreetly feeding hers to the dog and Pansy wasn’t even touching hers) as they told Hagrid all about their first lessons.
Emmelia picked up a piece of paper that was lying on the table under the tea cozy. It was a cutting from the Daily Prophet:
GRINGOTTS BREAK-IN LATEST
Investigations continue into the break-in at Gringotts on 31 July, widely believed to be the work of Dark wizards or witches unknown.
Gringotts goblins today insisted that nothing had been taken. The vault that was searched had in fact been emptied the same day.
"But we're not telling you what was in there, so keep your noses out if you know what's good for you," said a Gringotts spokes goblin this afternoon.
Perfect, that was exactly the opening she needed.
"Hagrid!" said Emmelia, cutting in to the conversation, “What do you think about this Gringotts break-in? It happened on the day after my birthday, you know. When I was actually at Gringotts."
There was no doubt about it, Hagrid definitely didn't meet her eyes this time. He grunted and offered him another rock cake. Emmelia read the story again. The vault that was searched had in fact been emptied earlier that same day.
McGonagall had emptied vault seven hundred and thirteen, if you could call it emptying, taking out that grubby little package. Had that really been what the thieves were looking for?
“The break in, eh? Never heard anything like it before. Yeh know, if it weren’t for Professor McGonagall takin’ you out to get yer supplies, I would’ve been gettin’ that package from that vault.”
Ha! I knew it!
“Really? Do you know what it was? It must be pretty valuable for a thief to break into Gringotts for.”
“Oh no no, couldn’t tell yuh that. That’s between Professor Dumbledore and Mister Nicholas Flamel it is.” His eyes widened when he realized what he had just said, “Ohhhhh I should not have said that, I should not have said that. Now you’ll all go out there and try to find out who he is.”
I don’t need to, Emmelia thought to herself, I’ve definitely heard that name before. The only problem was that she didn’t know where she’d heard it from. She’d figure it out eventually though.
Daphne reached over and patted his arm comfortingly, “It’s alright sir, almost all of us are Slytherins, remember? We won’t go looking for whoever this Flamel guy is, we promise.”
“You really promise? Oh, Dumbledore is gonna be so mad at me for telling you that.”
Emmelia highly doubted that.
“He trusted me with that secret, and I’ve gone and messed it all up!” He moaned into his hands.
Emmelia felt like it was time to step in, “Really sir, it’s alright. It was just a little slip up. Everyone makes mistakes some of the time. Even Dumbledore himself.”
“Yeah, yeah ok. I guess yer right."
The rest of their time at Hagrid’s was spent counseling the large man and trying to change the subject. When the four finally left, it was nearly dark out.
“Well I think that was a big success.” Emmelia was grinning as they left the small, slightly run down hut.
“Nicholas Flamel, I recognize that name.” Said Pansy, looking annoyed that she couldn’t place it.
“Me too.” Hermione agreed, looking equally upset.
“So do I, though I don’t know how. Why don’t you two look up who he is in the library--"
"Wait, guys?" Said Daphne in a quiet voice.
"--and Daphne and I can work on who the bloody hell Professor Quirrell is.”
"Guys." She said slightly louder.
“What’s wrong with Professor Quirrell?” Asked Hermione.
“That’s for me and Daphne to find out.” With a cheeky smile.
The other startled and finally look at Daphne.
"What is it Daph?" Pansy asked, masking her concern.
"I know who Nicholas Flamel is."
Emmelia raised her eyebrows in surprise, "You do? Then why didn't you just say something?"
"Oh I'm sorry Daphne, we didn't hear you." Hermione flushed.
"It's-It's fine. Anyway, Nicholas Flamel was an alchemist. Probably the most famous one in all of history. He created the--"
"Philosophers Stone! Of course!" Emmelia said in excitement, finally recognizing the name from those stupid books she used to read when she was younger.
She smiled gratefully at Daphne, "Thanks so much, Daph. It probably would've taken me forever to remember that."
A shy grin graced Daphne's pale features, "No problem Emmy."
Not yet satisfied with their victory, the three girls hurried bank to the abandoned classroom that they had rehabilitated as a secret base in order to discuss their thoughts more privately.
"So let me get this straight," Hermione said, surprisingly exasperated, "Dumbeldore, the supposed savior of the world, is hiding the Philosopher's Stone in a school. A school?! Why?"
"How about we don't question the reasonings of a madman?" Pansy suggested with a sweet smile.
"I second that." Emmelia said bitterly.
"Regardless, I think it's best if we leave that issue alone for now. You had your fun, Hermione. Your curiosity is stated and so is mine. Go ahead and research more about the stone, but please, for Merlin's sake, don't go after it."
Hermione snorted, "Honestly Emmy, I may be a Gryffindor, but I'm not an idiot. What am I going to do with the Philosopher's Stone. I don't want it or need it."
"I'm glad. Meeting adjourned for now? I'm surprisingly exhausted."
"Same." Said Hermione and Pansy at the same time, causing them both to state at each other until Daphne awkwardly coughed.
"Goodnight Hermione" was echoed by all of the Slytherins as they separated back to their own dorm rooms to sleep.
Bulstrode was snoring loudly, but Emmelia couldn't sleep. She tried to empty her mind and fall into some sort of meditation, but to no avail--she really needed sleep, especially with her first Quidditch match in a few hours -- but the undeniable anxiety feastering in her gut was impossible to ignore. With a sigh, she resigned herself to just stare up at the canopy of her bed until morning.
When she woke a few hours later (she really didn’t know when she’d fallen asleep) her face stung at the iciness of the day and her bones ached just thinking about the exertion that would be fired from them in just a couple hours.
The Great Hall was full of the delicious smell of fried sausages and the cheerful chatter of everyone looking forward to a good Quidditch match. Emmelia didn’t really understand why there were so few matches during the year, especially if all the students loved them so much.
"You've got to eat some breakfast." Insisted Daphne, worried by her friends lack of appetite.
"I don't want anything."
"Just a bit of toast,"
"I'm not hungry. It’s hard to eat when you’re stressed about something, darling. Really, don’t worry about it.
The blonde ignored her and shoved a piece of toast into her hand, “Eat.”
Reluctantly, Emmelia bit into it. She sighed, the nervousness of her stomach already reciting. Maybe she was just hungry. She needed to calm down, the dangers in school Quidditch were slim to none. And if you did break an arm, Madam Pomfrey could heal it in a day tops, though she’d probably keep you in for at least a week.
By eleven o'clock the whole school seemed to be out in the stands around the Quidditch pitch. Many students had binoculars. The seats might be raised high in the air, but it was still difficult to see what was going on sometimes.
Meanwhile, in the girl’s locker room, Emmelia and the rest of the team (though they were all boys) were changing into their emerald Quidditch robes. Flint cleared his throat for silence.
"Okay, men," he said.
"And me," Emmelia pointed out
"And Potter," Flint agreed.
“We need to stay in the lead. You know how good it’ll feel to have Emmelia Potter, famed Girl Who Lived, first year, completely kick all the Gryffindors asses? We’re counting on you kid. You’ve been great in practice, but we need to know that you can actually perform in a real match. And Higgs, this is your first time as chaser too, so we need to see if you can really blend with me and Puecy. Alright everyone, let’s get out there and kick some ass!”
The team calmly made their way onto the field when Lee Jordan, the announcer, called for the, to enter the pitch.
Madam Hooch was refereeing. So she stood in the middle of the field waiting for the two teams, her broom in her hand.
"Now, I want a nice fair game, all of you," she said, once they were all gathered around her. Emmelia noticed that she seemed to be speaking particularly to the Flint. Understandable.
"Mount your brooms, please."
Emmelia clambered onto her Nimbus Two Thousand. She’d bought it herself with mail order when she realized that she’d be needing a functioning broom in order to actually catch the snitch. Madam Hooch gave a loud blast on her silver whistle.
Fifteen brooms rose up, high, high into the air. They were off. "And the Quaffle is taken immediately by Angelina Johnson of Gryffindor -- what an excellent Chaser that girl is, and rather attractive, too --"
"And she's really belting along up there, a neat pass to Alicia Spinnet, a good find of Oliver Wood's, last year only a reserve- back to Johnson and- no, the Slytherins have taken the Quaffle, Slytherin's bastard of a Captain Marcus Flint gains the Quaffle and off he goes- Flint flyin like an eagle up there- he's going to sc- no, stopped by an excellent move by Gryffindor Keeper Wood and the Gryffindors take the Quaffle. way to go Lions! That's Chaser Katie Bell of Gryffindor there, nice dive around Flint, off up the field and- OUCH- that must have hurt, hit in the back of the head by a Bludger- Quaffle taken by the Slytherins- that's Adrian Pucey speeding off toward the goal posts, but he's blocked by a second Bludger- sent his way by Fred or George Weasley, can't tell which- nice play by the Gryffindor Beater, anyway, and Johnson back in possession of the Quaffle, a clear field ahead and off she goes- she's really flyin- dodges a speeding Bludger- the goal posts are ahead -- come on, now, Angelina- Keeper Bletchley dives- misses- GRYFFINDORS SCORE!"
Gryffindor cheers filled the cold air, with howls and moans from the Slytherins.
Way up above them, Emmelia was gliding over the game, squinting about for some sign of the Snitch.
When Angelina had scored, Emmelia had done a couple of loop-the-loops to let off her feelings of annoyance. The commentary was so biased it was hard to listen to. Why didn’t they have a Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff announce for Gryffindor versus Slytherin games?
Scratch that, it was probably because Dumbledore was a prejudiced pig.
"Slytherin in possession," Lee Jordan was saying, "Chaser Higgs ducks two Bludgers, two Weasleys, and Chaser Bell, and speeds toward the -- wait a moment -- was that the Snitch?"
A murmur ran through the crowd as Terence Higgs dropped the Quaffle, too busy looking over his shoulder at the flash of gold that had passed his left ear.
Emmelia saw it. In a great rush of excitement he dove downward after the streak of silver and green.
Gryffindor Seeker Cormac McLaggen had seen it, too. Neck and neck they hurtled toward the Snitch -all the Chasers seemed to have forgotten what they were supposed to be doing as they hung in midair to watch.
Emmelia was faster than McLaggen- she could see the little round ball, wings fluttering, darting up ahead- she put on an extra spurt of speed --
WHAM! A roar of rage echoed from the Slytherins (and even a few of shocked and angry Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws) below -- McLaggen had run into her on purpose, and Emmelia's broom spun off course, with her holding on for dear life.
"Foul!" screamed screamed Flint in outrage, despite the fact that he’d probably committed at least five worse acts during this game alone.
Madam Hooch spoke angrily to McLaggen and then ordered a free shot at the goal posts for Slytherin. But in all the confusion, of course, the Golden Snitch had disappeared from sight again.
Down in the stands, Slytherins were muttering angrily to themselves about how small she was compared to McLaggen and one he could’ve seriously hurt her. Even the students that didn’t like her so much were defending her. Some of the righteous Gryffindors grumpily agreeing with them.
"There needs to be a harsher punishment she can give than just a penalty shot. He could've knocked Emmelia outta the air." Hermione said, annoyed.
Pansy scoffed, “She’s not gonna give them anything else, I promise. We’re Slytherins, remember?”
Hermione grunted but said nothing.
Lee Jordan continued, "So- after that little fight up in the air- really hope Emmelia is alright in all. I don’t think it’s safe to put a first year in a match- the game is on again!
A penalty to Slytherin, taken by Puecy, who puts it away, no trouble unfortunately, and we continue to play, Slytherin still in possession."
Emmelia dodged another Bludger, which went spinning dangerously past her head, when it happened. Her broom gave a sudden, frightening lurch. For a split second, she thought she was going to fall. She gripped the broom tightly with both her hands and knees. She'd never felt anything like that. Something was wrong.
It happened again. It was as though the broom was trying to buck her off. But Nimbus Two Thousands did not suddenly decide to buck their riders off. Emmelia tried to turn back toward the Slytherin goal-posts- she had half a mind to ask Flint to call time-out- but she then realized that her broom was completely out of her control. She couldn't turn it. Couldn't direct it at all. It was zigzagging through the air, every now and then making violent swishing movements that almost unseated her.
Lee was still commentating.
"Slytherin in possession- Flint with the Quaffle- passes Spinnet- passes Bell- hit hard in the face by a Bludger, hope it broke his nose- only joking, Professor- Slytherins score- Ano…”
The Slytherins were cheering. No one seemed to have noticed that Emmelia's broom was behaving strangely. It was carrying her slowly higher, away from the game, jerking and twitching as it went.
"I don’t know what Emmelia thinks she's doing," Pansy mumbled out loud. She narrowed her eyes through her binoculars. "I think- I think she’s lost control of her broom. But that’s- almost impossible I think. No student here could do it.”
Suddenly, people were pointing up at Emmelia all over the stands. Her broom had started to roll over and over, with her only just managing to hold on. Then the whole crowd gasped. Emmelia's broom had given a wild jerk and she swung off it. She was now dangling from it, holding on with only one hand.
She took a deep breath herself. Calm down Emmelia, it’s just like being on a bar, this is a competition and Aunt Petunia needs you to win that prize money, remember? Focus.
"Did something happen to it when that Seeker blocked him?" Hermione whispered, her hand over her mouth in shock.
"Nothing could’ve caused this," Daphne said, her voice shaking in fear, "it's almost impossible to interfere with a broomstick. The only exception is powerful Dark magic- no kid could do that to a Nimbus Two Thousand."
At Daphne’s words, Hermione seized Neville’s binoculars, but instead of looking up at Emmelia, she started looking frantically at the crowd.
"What are you doing?" moaned Neville, his face as white as a sheet.
"I knew it," Hermione gasped, "Snape- look."
Neville grabbed the binoculars. Snape was in the middle of the stands opposite them. He had his eyes fixed on Emmelia and was muttering nonstop under his breath.
"He's doing something -- jinxing the broom," said Hermione.
"What should we do?" Neville asked, worry thick in his voice.
"Leave it to me."
Before anyone could say another word, Hermione had disappeared. They all turned the binoculars back on Emmelia. Her broom was vibrating so hard, it was almost impossible for her to hang on much longer, even with her gymnastics training. The whole crowd was on its feet, watching, terrified, as the Slytherin team and the Weasley twins flew up to try and pull Emmelia safely onto one of their brooms, but it was no good -- every time they got near her, the broom would jump higher still. They dropped lower towards the other players circled beneath her, obviously hoping to catch her if she fell.
Hermione had fought her way across to the stand where Snape stood, and was now racing along the row behind him; she didn't even stop to say sorry as she knocked Professor Quirrell headfirst into the row in front. Reaching Snape, she crouched down, pulled out her wand, and whispered a few, well- chosen words. Bright blue flames shot from her wand onto the hem of Snape's robes.
It took perhaps thirty seconds for Snape to realize that he was on fire. A sudden yelp told her she had done her job. Scooping the fire off him into a little jar in her pocket, she scrambled back along the row -- Snape would never know what had happened.
It was enough. Up in the air, Emmelia was suddenly able to clamber back on to her broom.
"You can look now Neville." Daphne assured the terrified boy. He’d started to tremble nearly as much as Emmelia’s broom.
Suddenly, Emmelia shot off after something. Behind her, she could feel McLaggen gaining on her.
He was even closer now, but the snitch was right there! She could almost reach if! If only-- Slowly, she rose to stand on her broom and reached one arm out. McLaggen was neck and neck with her now. It was hard to move super fast when you were practically surfing on your broom.
With a triumphant shout, Emmelia jumped off her broom. Doing a flip through the air, she launched herself over Angelina Johnson. With her outstretched hand, she grabbed the fluttering golden ball and grabbed her broom with one hand before swinging herself back up onto it.
She held her fist into the sky, “I’ve got it! I’ve caught the Snitch!”
The crowd was silent for a few moments before Madam Hooch blew her whistle and the students erupted into cheers, with even some of the Gryffindors joining in.
She flew down to the ground and barely managed to gracefully jump off her broom before she was hoisted up onto the shoulders of her teammates.
Lee Jordan could be heard sadly announcing the results of the match, “Slytherin wins two hundred and ten to twenty. Well, better luck next time. Still, Potter’s catch was amazing, so you can’t be too mad about it.”
"It was Snape," Hermione was explaining, "I saw him in the crowd. He was cursing your broomstick, muttering, he wouldn't take his eye off of you.”
“Actually, it wasn’t.” Pansy butted into the conversation.
“What are you talking about? You saw him too!”
“I know, Hermione, but Snape was not cursing her, that was the counter curse. He was trying to save her.”
“No, he wasn’t! Who else would be cursing her?”
Daphne laughed, “Despite what you think, Hermione, Snape doesn’t actually hate Emmelia or any of the Slytherins. And Hermione, who was it that you knocked on his side on your way over to set our Professor on fire?”
Hermione blushed, “Uhh- um, Professor Quirrell I think? What does he have to do with any of this?”
“It was him, ‘Mione.”
“No it wasn’t! Quirrell wouldn’t- couldn’t- do something like that.”
Daphne smiled softly at her friends naivety, “It’s an act Hermione. His stuttering is fake. It’s all fake. He tried to kill Emmy.”
“The cursing only stopped when you knocked him over. It took at least thirty seconds for Snape to realize he was on fire, and Emmelia gained control of her broom long before that.”
“It really was him?” Hermione asked in a horrified whisper, “I just lit a Professor on fire when he was trying to save you?” She asked the girl who'd been silent for most of their conversation, absorbing all the information.
Emmelia smiled ruefully, “Its alright Hermione, you thought you were helping me. And there was no harm done."
“Anyway, see you later guys. I’m going down to the common room for the party.”
The party, it turned out, was not like any of the parties Emmelia had ever been to. Instead of snotty mothers sipping wine and comparing children, there were teenagers so drunk on Firewhisky that they couldn’t walk straight.
Instead of haughty laughter and cruel whispers, there were loud shouts of victory and success.
Within ten minutes, Emmelia found herself trapped between the mass of sweaty bodies with no way out. She felt like she was going to scream. There were so many people, so many bodies, and it was so loud. She couldn’t take it.
Fortunately or unfortunately, Adrian Pucey found her within the crowd and hoisted her up onto her shoulders with a loud cheer. Well, at least she wasn’t being crushed anymore.
It took her about thirty seconds for her to realize that he was drunk. Veeeery drunk. She patted his shoulder, “Why don’t you put me down? Over there?” She used her magic to push people out of the way and create a path for a Puecy to take her to the stairs that went down into the girl’s dormitory.
Slowly but surely, the chaser made his way down the parted sea of bodies and toward the dorms. Finally, Emmelia was able to hop down from his back and hurry down the stairs towards her bed.
She was asleep before her head even hit the pillow.