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Looking Beyond

Chapter Text

There was a flash of green and a cackle of high-pitched laughter that awoke Hope Potter from her nightmare, terrifying her so badly that she had to sit up in her small bed, breathing hard. The movement jarred her, and she had to bite down on her lip to resist making a noise as she swung her legs over the side of the bed, her feet brushing gently against the floor.

The pain had come from her left leg, the one that bore a deep and jagged pink scar across her shin with numerous lighter and less deep scars peppering the flesh from her knee up to her waist, the results of a car accident she had been in only a few months previously. It was her cousin Dudley's fault, the little idiot, he was the one who'd pushed her into the street a few seconds before the car came speeding by. He may have seemed a bit regretful at the start of it, but that had quickly diminished (Hope suspected that might have had something to do with her sarcastic and angry nature).

Her fingers fumbled for the light switch and she blinked harshly once she managed to turn it on.

Her wand teetered dangerously on the edge of her bedside table, but she didn't bother moving it; if it did roll under her bed by the time morning came around, she'd still find it in the end. Hope stood up, the movement only causing a small twinge as opposed to earlier, raking her hands through her hair and scowling at the face of the girl her mirror reflected.

She knew the dark red hair was far less common than the brighter ginger, and if she wanted to, she could've changed the colour of her hair to any colour on the rainbow. She liked the colour, but at the same time, she hated it. Every time she looked in the mirror, she saw what she always saw; the face of her dead mother. She could see it in the almond and shade of her eyes, in the colour of her hair. She hated how much she looked like her dead mother, and she knew that was all anyone would see when they looked at her. She lifted a hand to pull on the ends of her short hair, not regretting cutting it from how long it had been before.

Hope palmed her forehead with a soft groan. Two more days in this hellhole before she could finally leave, to go to a magical school in Scotland called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, because Hope Potter was, in every sense, a witch.

She had initially scoffed at the idea; who had ever heard of modern-day witches, anyway? But she had to admit it was strange how she could sometimes change her appearance when she got emotional, or that one time when she had made her science experiment turn red –when it was supposed to remain blue and calm– and explode like a volcano, or how snakes would find her and whisper things.

Well…maybe she had just been avoiding the signs. She was weird enough without all the magic throwing a curveball into her day.

Hope moved to lean her elbows on the windowpane, pressing her cheek against the glass to look outside and into the dark sky into which only a few stars were visible, most obscured by grey clouds. Hope scowled in front of her. If she squinted hard enough –even in the blackness– she could see a rosy shimmer, one that was characteristic of Blood Wards, according to one of the books she had read upon the discovery of her magical lineage. Though, she had to admit she had been far more interested in books on Ancient Runes than anything else, which was the only reason she'd recognized the Blood Wards.

Hope gave a mournful sigh, removing her eyes and face from the window to return to her bed and pull her heavy trunk towards her, feeling restless now and conceding that she probably wouldn't fall asleep for awhile. It may have looked like an average school trunk, but it had cost her a pretty penny and had been worth every galleon, as it came with an incredible extension charm. The trunk was almost full with her uniform (and casual wear), potion supplies, and second hand books that had once belonged to her mother—her aunt had apparently kept them out of sentiment, letting them gather dust in the attic—as well as a good dozen that she had either picked up from the family vault—the books being the only thing she could remove while being underage—or had bought at Flourish and Blotts.

Hope clicked the trunk open, pulling one compartment of it up, revealing a lengthy bookcase that was nowhere near being full of books but included a number that could send her off to sleep no problem, and that was what she was hoping for.

She frowned thoughtfully, considering the small amount of books for a moment before choosing at random and pulling out her Magical Drafts and Potions. She opened to the first page and began to read.


If there was one place that Hope knew for certain she could be alone at, it was the Surrey Zoo, in front of the now-empty Boa Constrictor case that had once held the snake that she had set free the last time she was in the zoo with the Dursleys. It had been taped off and in need of a new glass covering since Hope had made it disappear.

So, if there was nothing to look at, there was no reason for anyone to linger.

Hope pulled the strap from her shoulder, dropping her bag next to the short bench, resting her cane against the side as she withdrew a book and sketchbook into which she had begun to draw an assortment of runes, unaware of the attention she would soon garner.

Weasley family outings were rare, and even rarer were the ones that occurred in the Muggle World. So George was a bit surprised when their dad took them out to a local zoo—in Surrey, he believed—especially since they would be leaving for Hogwarts the next day. The exhibits were alright, but it was the girl sitting in the snake area that caught his attention, distracting him from the animals.

That wasn't too surprising, but he had never shown much of an interest in girls—though, he knew Fred was very much into their teammate and friend Angelina Johnson. But, he had to admit, she was definitely eye-catching.

Her hair was a dark red, probably closer in colour to rose petals, barely dusting her shoulders in tousled waves that he was sure Ginny would kill for—if her hair was long enough—and he could barely see a sliver of green that was her eyes, brighter than any green he'd seen in anyone's eyes. She was cute, he supposed, but small and pale, perhaps Ron's age, but he couldn't be sure. It almost looked as though she had been deprived of sunlight and proper nutrition. Her jeans were ratty and peppered with holes and she had bunched her shirt into a hair tie at the back, turning the tail inward so it fit her frame better. One of her legs was stuck outward in an odd black brace; it looked uncomfortable.

People just passed her by, almost as if they didn't notice her at all. That was strange to George, because he thought she should have garnered a bit more attention being the only one not looking at any of the exhibits, with her focus entirely on the paper and book open on her lap.

"What happened to the snake?" he asked out loud, referring to the empty tank in front of her, faintly aware of his family leaving him behind and of Fred's curious glance back.

Hope paused in her sketching, her pen stilling over the curve she had etched against the page. For a moment she did not move, far too stunned that someone had spoken to her than anything else, but then her head twisted upwards to pierce him with those bottle-green eyes. The orbs narrowed slightly, filling with suspicion as she looked him up and down.

His eyes were a bright, impossible blue, clashing with the ginger of his hair, and out of his trouser pocket she could clearly see the carved hilt of a wand, far more intricate than hers, but Hope didn't really mind; her wand suited her just fine.

Her eyes returned to her paper, adding a few final touches to the rune. "It might have escaped," she said evasively with a shrug, "in a burst of accidental magic."

Her voice had a strange lilt, George noticed, one he'd never heard before, like a cross between nobility and uncultured, but it wasn't unpleasant. And then he realized what she had said.

George's jaw unhinged as he stared at her. How did she know he was a wizard?

She arched a crimson eyebrow, before sighing and proceeding to stuff her things—several books that he now could see dealt mostly with magic, but looked too advanced for someone her age—into her bag. "Don't look so surprised; it's obvious." She rolled her eyes, even though it was only obvious if you were looking for the signs (such as wands sticking out of pockets, for instance).

"And what about you?" George asked curiously.

"What about me?" she asked, a little miffed, brushing her hair from her face as she stood, a beaded strand of her hair catching the light as she did so. "I'm just a witch."

Fred called his name in the distance and she smiled at him, glancing behind to see an identical boy. So he was a twin, was he? It was the first time Hope had smiled in awhile; it hurt her cheeks. "See you around, Wizard-boy," she winked and her green eyes shimmered an identical blue to his before returning to green in an instant as she disappeared through the throng of people with a fairly obvious limp, the brace making strange noises as it connected with stone and her cane clicking as she moved.

Only after she left did George realize she hadn't told him her name.


In retrospect, Hope should have asked Hagrid, the Keeper of Keys at Hogwarts who had been her guide into Diagon Alley (the first time), how on earth she got into Platform Nine and Three Quarters, but it had slipped her mind at the time.

Petunia and Vernon, her aunt and uncle on her mother's side, had been curiously happy to drop her off at King's Cross Station on the first of September. It all made sense when they drove off in laughter, leaving Hope with a train ticket to a platform that didn't exist.

Hope sat down in irritation on a bench just beyond Platform Nine, tapping her cane against the ground. She couldn't ask someone about the platform, because how was she to know if they were Muggle or Magical?

Hope gave a forlorn sigh as the minutes ticked by; she was going to miss her train…

"Come on, Ced! Hurry up!"

Hope looked up as a strangely dressed man strode past, his clothes slightly mismatched as though he was only wearing them to fit in, waving his hand towards a boy that could only be his son with similar brown hair and grey eyes like the woman following after him. He was pushing his cart and he had an owl.

Hope blinked once, and then again for good measure to remind herself that what she was seeing was indeed real. Since it was, this "Ced" had to be a wizard, why else would he have an owl in a cage like she did?

"Coming, Dad!" the boy called, his speed picking up as he passed his father, pushing his cart right into the dividing barrier between Platforms Nine and Ten.

A second later, Hope leaned forward in surprise, almost gaping; the boy had gone right through the wall! What the-?

And then his parents followed, doing the exact same thing, moments later.


But better to try than to not, Hope had to concede to herself, on the upside, she might make it to her train on time, on the downside, she might just collide with the wall.

Hope opted to try, pulling herself up into a standing position, dangling her cane from the bar as she pushed it towards the divider. She first pressed it lightly against the wall, but it went right through the wall, so she added a bit more force only to find herself on what must be the opposite side, Platform Nine and Three Quarters.

Steam was rising around the scarlet train and more people than Hope could count were clustered around it, ready to send students off for the year. It made Hope feel awkward, considering that she had come alone and had no one to care enough to miss her, but that wasn't all she had a problem with.

If there was one thing Hope could say that she honestly hated, it was crowds. She was not at all in her element, being pushed to and fro, each shove sending a flare of pain up her leg before she finally managed to get her trunk to the train door, but there was no way she was going to be able to heave the trunk into the train with her leg in its condition. And her upper body strength left much to be desired.

Hope gave another sigh, mentally cursing herself when a sudden voice behind her caught her off guard.

"Want a hand?"

Hope turned so swiftly on her heel, that she almost sprained the ankle of her already-messed-up leg in her startled surprise. It was the boy from the previous day, the curious blue-eyed boy that had actually paid attention to her (an equally strange occurrence). She could feel embarrassment blooming inside of her, but she tried not to let it show.

"Wizard-boy," she said, her voice coloured with the surprise she still felt.

"Mystery-girl," he mocked in return, his eyes glinting mischievously, an expression she suspected he was known for.

Confusion replaced the surprise and she eyed him strangely. Mystery-girl? Had she come off as mysterious before? How odd…she certainly hadn't tried to be. Hope wasn't known for being mysterious, snarky and sarcastic, sure, but mysterious? Doubtful.

His eyes flickered to her thick black brace over her leg and Hope couldn't resist shifting uncomfortably, but he offered her no scathing remarks or piteous looks that she often garnered, much to her aggravation.

"That looks serious," he said instead, his voice kind. "Does it hurt?"

"Oh!" She said, her surprise returning and evident in the raising of her eyebrows and the widening of her eyes. She looked down at her leg in surprise as though she had forgotten of her injury, but that was doubtful as it was hard to forget about. Though the pain did indeed bother her, she found that if she didn't think about it, it almost felt like it was nonexistent. "Not as much anymore, but, yeah, a little," she admitted.

"How'd you really know I was a wizard?" he asked this time, more curious, and kindly not questioning her more about her injury as many often did.

Well, wasn't he a query-filled wizard? Hope threw him a rather dry expression. "I could see the handle of your wand sticking out of your pocket, happy?"

"Exceptionally," he agreed with a wide grin, before repeating his earlier words, "Need a hand?"

"Yes, please," she said gratefully, her cheeks still flushing slightly from when her eyes had met his vibrant blue ones. She wasn't used to someone keeping her attention so completely without resisting the urge to smack someone (because Hope did have a bit of a violent streak).

"I'm George," he added, extending his hand to her, surprising her even more, his lips still set in a smile. "Since you ran off before."

"Hope," she said simply, the flush fading from her cheeks as she slid her hand into his. "I can assure you running is something that I am hardly capable of."

George's smile shifted into a smirk before he called over his shoulder. "Oi, Fred! C'mere and help!"

It was the twin she had spotted in the crowd the previous day, and he raced over to assist him. Hope was grateful for the help; it wasn't like she really had the muscles to lift the luggage, besides her…social skills…were a bit rusty.

A boy took either side, tucking it with ease into a spare overhead compartment.

"Thanks," Hope said as they dropped back to the ground, brushing the fringe out of her eyes with an action that drew their attention immediately.

"What's that?" the second one, Fred, asked her, making a blatant gesture towards the scar that rested on her forehead. It was in the shape of a lightning bolt and Hope had had it for as long as she could remember, only recently had she discovered that it was a product of a murder attempt by a man called Lord Voldemort, the very same man that had killed her parents.

A scowl marred Hope's lips at the thought of how she had gotten it.

"Blimey!" George said, his eye widening comically in realization. "Are you—?"

"She is," Fred said before directing his attention to Hope, "aren't you?"

"What?" Hope asked, flummoxed by their behaviour. It seemed to her that she was only hearing half of the conversation, they seemed to be having most of it in their heads.

"Hope Potter," they chorused in unison.

She arched an eyebrow at them in return, mild annoyance setting in. "Yes."

"Why didn't you say anything?" George demanded, struck dumb.

Hope shrugged her shoulders disinterestedly. She didn't think there were many 'Hope's, it wasn't as common a name as one would think, but she suspected this had more to do with the events of October 31, 1981, and Hope really didn't want to talk about that, especially about what little she remembered. "It's just a name, nothing special, trust me."

She shifted uncomfortably under their stares before attempting to stumble onto the train, and she probably wouldn't have made it on if George hadn't gripped her elbows and lifted her up. A faint flush dusted across her cheeks at the move and the warmth of his hands at her elbows. "Thanks."

His smile was nice enough as she shut the door, the pair disappearing once their mother called out their names. They turned back briefly, giving identical waves with smiles that lit their eyes. She waved back, feeling genuine for once.

And then she sat down on the cushion, glancing out the window towards where the two boys had run towards.

She blinked. That was a lot of gingers, but Hope couldn't really judge, considering her hair was a similar colour.

Their mother was standing with a little girl and a boy her age when her older sons approached and Hope could hear clearly from where she was sitting.

"Ron, you've got something on your nose," the mother said, and Hope assumed that 'Ron' was the youngest boy's name, rubbing at the end of his nose with a spare handkerchief, and it was clearly something the boy didn't approve of.

"Aaah, has ickle Ronnie got somefink on his nosie?" one of the twins asked as the other sniggered. Hope supposed that was what it was like to have siblings, but Dudley was kind of her sibling, though she'd never much liked him.

"Shut up," the youngest boy retorted.

"Where's Percy?" their mother asked, glancing around for what must have been another of her offspring. Hope arched an eyebrow; how many of them were there?

"He's coming now," one of the twins said (Hope couldn't tell which one at this distance), nodding to their left where an older boy with the same ginger hair as his siblings with horn-rimmed glasses perched on his nose. He seemed much stiffer and restrained than his siblings if Hope was to go off of looks alone.

"Can't stay long, Mother," he told the woman in a serious manner that hardly suited his age. "I'm up front, the prefects have got two compartments to themselves—"

"Oh," one of the twins gave a noise of surprise, as though this information had not been made aware to him, "are you a prefect, Percy? You should have said something, we had no idea."

"Hang on," the other side, giving the pretence of thinking very hard, "I think I remember him saying something about it. Once—"

"Or twice—" his twin added.

"A minute—"

"All summer—"

"Oh, shut up," Percy said in reply, his words holding a bit of fire as he bid his mother farewell, permitting his younger sister to hug him before he headed back towards the train.

"Now, you two—" the mother had turned to the twins who gave off the impression that they were innocent, though Hope doubted that very much. "—this year, you behave yourselves. If I get one more owl telling me you've-you've blown up a toilet or—"

"Blown up a toilet?" said the twin on the left, slightly incredulous. "We've never blown up a toilet."

"Great idea though," the twin on the right added with a wide grin, "thanks, Mum."

"It's not funny," their mother said with an all-suffering voice. "And look after Ron."

"Don't worry, ickle Ronniekins is safe with us." They gave identical impish grins.

"Shut up," their younger brother said, but he was ignored. Hope suspected this happened a lot.

"Hey, Mum, guess what?" one of the twins said, glancing towards his brother. "You know that girl we told you that George was talking to at the zoo yesterday?"

"Yes?" she said in confusion.

"Fred," the other said in warning, and Hope suspected that this was George.

"She's here, and you won't believe who she is!" Fred added, grinning widely towards George.

"Who?" she asked in confusion.

"Hope Potter!"

Several pairs of eyes turned towards where she was sitting and she scowled at the twins in particular, before leaning back in her seat so she couldn't be seen.

"Blimey," said Fred. "She doesn't look pleased."

George gave his twin a "You think?" expression.

Chapter Text

Ron knew all about that had happened at the zoo; George had fallen behind to talk to a girl. But the real question was why? George –according to Fred, at least, who hardly ever left his twin's side– had never shown an interest in a female, ever, so it had to take something special for him to strike up conversation with a girl he didn't even know.

Ron resolved to find out more, seeking out the compartment that she had glared out of earlier.

Up close, she was very different than he expected.

An intricately carved cane rested beside her, but he didn't give it much thought –only later coming to realize that it was carved to subtly appear like a snake did–, focusing more on the girl.

Her hair was dark red and in loose waves, despite it being so short (barely passing her shoulders, he had to wager)with a strand spun with green and blue beads, oddly enough. Her eyes were a bright and dark green that were focused downwards on a leather-bound book on her lap, but her gaze lifted when he opened the door.

He wasn't sure what he expected, to be honest. She didn't seem much like the heroine she was glorified to be. She looked remarkably ordinary, except for the strange brace that rested on her leg.

"D-Do you mind if I join you?" he asked her a bit nervously. "All the other compartments are packed." And Ron didn't want to be the awkward one intruding on others' conversations just because he couldn't find a seat.

"I don't mind," she said, closing the book softly, "who else is going to sit here, anyways?"

Ron took this as an invitation, so he shut the door behind him and sat stiffly across from her.

"I'm Ron, Weasley," he said, hastily tacking on his last name, "by the way."

"I'm Hope," she said, electing not to add her surname, shifting a little uncomfortably, a movement that caused the fringe on her forehead to part slightly so that the lightning bolt scar was obvious.

Any further conversation was halted when the door opened once more and two identical heads popped in.

The one on the left winked at Hope who scowled in return, while the other one tried to hide his snorts. That would make Fred the one on the left and George the one the right.

"Hey Ron," Fred said, grinning widely, "listen, we're going down the middle of the train –Lee's got a giant tarantula down there."

Ron fought to not shiver at his words. Spiders…urgh…disgusting creatures. "Right," he said, his voice low and quiet, almost not heard.

Hope leaned her cheek against her fist, giving off the vaguest impression of boredom. She arched an eyebrow at Fred as if she was expecting something from him while George clapped his hands to his mouth so that he wouldn't explode into laughter.

Fred coughed nervously as he turned towards her. "Er…sorry for talking about you behind your back, Hope."

Hope accepted this apology with stride and Ron got the feeling that a lot of people talked about her behind her back.

"I had a whole pub trying to shake my hand when I went with Hagrid to get my school things," Hope said in a dry manner. "Believe me, my name is hardly something to be in awe of, and neither is my scar."

Fred and George bid them farewell and George spared the Potter a roguish wink that Ron could have sworn made her cheeks pink.

"Are they always like that?" Hope asked Ron after a moment, blinking a few times as she stared at the compartment door that they had closed after them.

"Generally," Ron groaned, "but much worse."

"Something to look forward to," Hope said with a laugh, and that laugh made her seem far more approachable than before.

The first question that sprang from his lips but that he held back was concerning You-Know-Who and her parents, that night in October in 1981, but he remembered how his mum was every year on the anniversary of his uncles Gideon and Fabian Prewett's deaths. Sometimes it was best not to ask about the dead.

"So…your whole family is magical?" Hope guessed before he could think up something else to ask.

"Er, I'm pretty sure," Ron said, screwing his face up in thought for a moment. "I think Mum's got a second cousin who's a…stock broker, I think it's called, but we never talk about him."

Hope arched an eyebrow. "Oh…" She floundered, searching for another topic when Ron took initiative.

"I heard you live with Muggles now," Ron said, looking at her in fascination. "What was that like?"

Hope rolled her eyes in aggravation. "Well, I lived in a cupboard for ten years, until the letters started coming and then they moved me to the second bedroom."

"A cupboard?" Ron was agape.

"Under the stairs," Hope clarified.


"Well, Vernon, my uncle (and that was using the word mildly), every time he saw the letters he would burn them, so…" Hope explained how her aunt's family had taken her and had tried to physically outrun the letters and how it didn't end very well for any of them, especially Dudley who had ended up with a pig's tail. By the end of her tale, Hope was feeling very glad that Ron had a light-hearted personality as he stifled his laughter into chuckles with great difficulty.

"Running away from letters?" he guffawed. "I wonder what they told people about their leaving so suddenly?"

"Who knows?" Hope asked with a shrug before turning the conversation towards him. "How many siblings do you have?"

"One younger sister and five older brothers," he told her, "Ginny's not old enough to come to Hogwarts yet, then there's me, then the twins, Fred and George, then Percy, Charlie, and Bill. Bill and Charlie are the only ones out of school, though." He scowled slightly. "I'm the sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts. You could say I've got a lot to live up to. Bill was Head Boy and Charlie was Captain of Quidditch. Now Percy's a Prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really good marks and everyone thinks they're really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it's no big deal, because they did it first. You never get anything new, either, with five brothers. I've got Bill's old robes, Charlie's old wand, and Percy's old rat."

He showed her the rat, Scabbers, though it was quite fast asleep.

"I like old stuff," Hope told him, unconcerned by his lack of wealth, she hadn't even known that she had any money of her own until her birthday and it was still barely touched.

Ron stared at her. "You do?"

"Maybe I'm just weird," Hope considered briefly, "but I like things that my parents once had, like these." She lifted her hands to show him the two rings her fingers bore. One was so large that it had to be worn on the thumb until her fingers weren't quite as small, that one was set in gold bearing a black opal. The other rested on her ring finger like a silver snake twined around her finger with emerald eyes. "My dad left them for me."

"It must be strange that everyone knows you and your parents' names," he said instead, wanting to move away from how poor his family was.

"A bit, yeah," Hope had to admit, leaning down so that she could straighten her leg and Ron noticed how her brow creased slightly and her face contorted before smoothing out as she leaned back; he pretended not to have noticed.

"I was that girl that no one wanted to associate with," Hope told him, "Dudley, my cousin, was a menace to me for years with his gang of friends before he pushed me in front of a car and I got this." Hope tapped a finger to the black brace. "I was in the hospital for weeks…" Something flickered behind her eyes, but a second later it had gone and she released an embarrassed chuckle. "Sorry, that's kind of off track…" Ron didn't mind too much. "I don't much like being the centre of attention and all everyone's said to me is 'You look so much like your mother.'"

A scowl marred her lips as she said these words, but Ron couldn't figure out why.

Luckily, at this moment they were interrupted by the sudden arrival of the candy trolley and Hope caused a distraction by buying what appeared to be a little bit of everything (except for Drooble's Best Blowing Gum), including: Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, and Liquorice Wands.

Ron was more than happy to help her eat them, explaining what each sweet was, laughing as the two gagged their way through the Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans.

And Ron Weasley, who had been so worried that he wouldn't fit in or find a friend found one in Hope Potter who had feared much the same.

Hope and Ron were distracted from their good fun by a tear-faced boy with brown hair and eyes that Hope thought looked vaguely familiar.

"Sorry," he said after he opened the door following a polite knock, "but you haven't seen a toad, have you?"

"Sorry," Hope said as she and Ron shook their heads in unison.

"I've lost him!" the boy bemoaned, his voice rising to nearly a keen. "He keeps getting away from me!"

"I'm sure he isn't completely lost," Hope consoled the distraught boy. "I mean, there's only so far he could've gone."

"You're probably right," the boy said in a sombre tone, still upset over the loss of his pet. "Well, if you see him…" And then he left them on their own once more.

"Can't imagine why he'd want to keep it," Ron told Hope in an undertone as though being wary of the boy in case he was listening in. "If I'd brought a toad, I'd lose it as quick as I could. Mind you, I brought Scabbers, so I can't talk." He nodded to the rat that had still yet to show any signs of life from where it lay on Ron's lap. Hope thought it might be dead but that probably wasn't the best thing to say so she kept her mouth shut.

A second later it didn't matter.

"He might have died and you wouldn't know the difference," Ron said, glowering slightly at the rodent. "I tried to turn him yellow yesterday to make him more interesting, but the spell didn't work."

"Pity," Hope said with a grin. "Want to give it another go?"

"Might as well," Ron said, struggling to pull his wand free from his trunk where he had stashed it in the overhead compartment with difficulty when he had first come in, dropping to the ground with a far more worn wand than Hope had ever seen in her life, but then he had said earlier that he had inherited his brother's wand, so that made a bit of sense.

"Unicorn hair's nearly poking out," he grumbled as he sat back down with the rat in one hand and the wand in the other. "Anyways—"

He raised his wand, preparing to incant the spell when they were interrupted the fourth time. Hope hid her sigh of annoyance.

It was the boy from before, obviously still without his toad if the despondent expression was any indicator. But he was not alone, he was with a girl, first year as well, Hope assumed from the standard Hogwarts tie that all first years wore until they were 'sorted' into the four Houses. Though, Hope had to wonder why she had changed so early.

She had a similar slight build to Hope's, though lacking the underfed impression, with brown bushy curls.

"Has anyone seen a toad?" she asked, or rather demanded. "Neville's lost one."

Hope took Neville to be the name of the boy.

"We've already told him we haven't seen it," Ron said in annoyance, but this did not deter her, her eyes fastening onto his wand with a manic gleam that Hope wasn't sure was a good thing.

"Oh, are you doing magic?" she asked, her tone of voice brimming with excitement. "Let's see it, then."

Hope blinked, slightly startled when the girl, being incredibly forward, sat herself on the cushion beside Hope to watch, and clearly Ron was similarly minded.

"Er–alright," he said a bit awkwardly, swallowing before opening his mouth:

"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow,

Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow."

With an incantation like that, Hope wasn't surprised that it didn't work when he waved his wand.

"Are you sure that's a real spell?" the girl asked. "Well, it's not very good, is it?"

This was a bit of a rude assessment, Hope thought as Ron glanced towards her with an incredulous expression.

"I've tried a few simple spells just for practice and it's all worked for me," she continued, seeming to not notice the looks that were being passed between the two. "Nobody in my family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it's the very best school of witchcraft there is, I've heard –I've learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough– I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?"

Hope wasn't sure she'd heard anyone talk so fast without breathing, which was probably why her words were said so fast, so that she could breathe afterwards.

"I'm Ron Weasley," Ron told her.

"Hope," Hope said, before reluctantly adding her surname when Hermione's gaze did not waver from hers. "Potter."

"Are you really?" Hermione was beaming at her now and Hope wasn't quite sure why. "I know all about you, of course –I got a few extra books. for background reading, and you're in Modern Magical History and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century."

Hope blinked, startled by this information. "Really?" she said.

"Goodness, didn't you know?" Hermione asked. "I'd have found out everything I could if it was me." Hope was glad she'd only read one of the books Hermione had mentioned and it wasn't because she was in it.

"Do either of you know what House you'll be in?" Hermione continued. "I've been asking around, and I hope I'm in Gryffindor, it sounds by far the best; I hear Dumbledore himself was in it, but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn't be too bad...Anyways, we'd better go and look for Neville's toad. You two had better change, you know, I expect we'll be there soon."

She was barely out the door when Hope called out to them, making them pause.

"You might want to try the Prefects," Hope suggested, (she knew what a Prefect was and she assumed because they were older that they knew more spells), "maybe they know a spell that'll help you find your toad."

Hermione contemplated her for a moment as Neville went off in search of someone wearing a Prefect's badge.

"And I wouldn't believe everything you read," Hope added, making Hermione's lips twitch slightly before the red-head ducked her head back into the compartment, sliding the door shut and leaning back into her sear.

"Whatever House I'm in," Ron grumbled with a scowl on his face as he thrust the wand back in his trunk, sitting in a huff, "I hope she's not in it. Stupid spell –George gave it to me, bet he knew it was a dud."

"He does seem the type," Hope had to admit, having been subjected to several tales concerning Ron's prankster older twin brothers. "Do you know what House you'll be in?" Maybe it was different for those who had family for through the 'Sorting Ceremony' already.

"No idea," Ron told her, "you don't find out how they Sort you until you're in the Great Hall. I hope I'll be in Gryffindor, though."

"Why's that?" Hope asked.

"Well, the whole family's been in Gryffindor," Ron explained, biting the inside of his mouth. "Mum, Dad, all my brothers. I don't know what they'll say if I'm not. I don't suppose Ravenclaw would be too bad, but imagine if they put me in Slytherin."

Ron didn't notice how her hand tightened into a fist at the mention of Slytherin.

"What'd be wrong with Slytherin?" Hope asked as casually as she could manage.

"That's the House that You-Know-Who came out of," Ron said, saying the title in a hushed voice, "they say there wasn't a witch or wizard that went bad that wasn't in Slytherin."

Hope twisted her serpent ring uncomfortably on her finger as she looked outside, the sky growing darker as time passed on.

"What do your brothers do?" Hope asked suddenly in interest, as though the thought had just occurred to her, which was very likely. She hadn't really considered what you did once you completed seven years of schooling at Hogwarts, she always figured you'd just be a witch or a wizard, depending on your gender.

"Well, Charlie's in Romania at a Dragon Reserve," Ron explained. "And Bill's in Africa working as a Curse-breaker for Gringotts."

"Ah," Hope said, though she didn't really understand, though this didn't particularly matter as Ron had jumped to another topic.

"Did you hear about Gringotts?" he asked her and she shook her head. "It's been all over the Daily Prophet, but I don't suppose you get that with the Muggles –someone tried to rob a high security vault."

That sounded like a very foolish thing to do in Hope's opinion. The only lock she tried to pick was the one that Vernon and Petunia had always put on her cupboard, bank robbing was something else entirely.

"How much trouble did they get in?" Hope asked.

"That's the funny thing," Ron said, his blue eyes sparking, "they didn't get caught! My dad says it must've been a powerful Dark wizard to get round Gringotts, but they don't think they took anything, that's what's odd. 'Course, everyone gets scared when something like this happens in case You-Know-Who's behind it."

Hope arched an eyebrow, wondering how people could still be afraid of someone that was dead, but that wasn't her business.

Ron was halfway through explaining the game of Quidditch –which involved seven players on each team, riding broomsticks, four very distinct balls, and two bats– when they were interrupted once more.

Hope was starting to find it grating every time the compartment door slid open, but she couldn't resist her mouth opening slightly in surprise at who stood beyond.

There were three boys, two appearing as though they were much too stocky for their short height, but the third, a pale boy with blonde hair and cold grey eyes, Hope recognized very well. They had run into each other in Madam Malkin's robe shop and he had sneered at her leg and cane, hardly trying to hide disdain towards her even when he had been questioning her about her parentage.

He looked her up and down as though he couldn't believe that Hope Potter was a cripple (however, this gave Hope the opportunity to jab at people she didn't like with her cane and could get away with it).

"Is it true?" he asked, his lip curling slightly as he looked over her and Hope found she didn't like the look at all. "They're saying all down the train that Hope Potter's in this compartment. So it's you, is it?"

"It must be," Hope said sarcastically, rolling her eyes with a bit more exaggeration than was necessary towards Ron who hid his sniggers. "Since I'm the only girl in the compartment."

His lips curled into an expression that was halfway between a sneer at her attitude and a smirk that he'd found out that she was indeed Hope Potter (though, it wasn't as though Hope was trying hard to hide this fact).

"This is Crabbe," the boy said gesturing first to the boy on his left and then his right, "and this is Goyle. And my name's Malfoy, Draco Malfoy."

Ron hid another laugh and Hope could understand why. This boy hardly came off as frightening as a dragon –as 'draco' did mean dragon– that he was named for was meant to be.

However, Ron's actions in turn caused Draco Malfoy to turn on him with deep loathing.

"Think my name's funny, do you?" he sneered. "No need to ask who you are. My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford."

Ron's face and ears flamed a brilliant crimson and Hope felt angry on his behalf. Forget rude, this brat was crass with the intention to hurt. And then Draco Malfoy was focused on Hope once more and she schooled her expression carefully.

"You'll soon find out some Wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort," he said, his eyes flicking towards Ron. "I can help you there."

He held out a hand to Hope and it was only then that Hope glared.

"I'm actually sure that I won't have a problem with sorting out the good from the bad, especially when I'm looking at you," she told him coldly.

Malfoy was not impressed by her attitude, but, then again, very few were.

"I'd be careful if I were you, Potter," Malfoy warned. "Unless you're a bit politer you'll go the same way as your parents. They didn't know what was good for them, either. You hang around with riffraff like the Weasleys and that Hagrid, and it'll rub off on you."

Ron leapt to his feet in anger, but Hope did not.

"Ooh!" she said, grinning, "are you threatening me?"

"And if I was?" Malfoy retorted, though it was quite different threatening someone and having them be afraid than threatening someone and having them be humoured by the attempt.

"Well, who could really be afraid of you?" Hope asked, tilting her head slightly to the side as she pulled her cane free, shooting to forward so that it whacked against his head, sending him reeling out of the compartment before Scabbers caused a diversion by biting into Goyle's finger.

It sounded as though it was quite painful, and it took a good bit of effort before Scabbers' jaws released Goyle's finger, allowing all three boys to make a hasty getaway.

"Well," Hope said after a moment, "that was exciting."

Laughter bloomed from Ron's lips at her words.

Chapter Text

Hope almost fell flat on her face as she exited the train. This was yet another reason why Hope hated that girls were required to wear skirts, and being the self-conscious eleven year old witch that she was, none of the skin of her legs were visible due to tights that were so thick they could have passed for leggings (though, Hope really couldn't complain about this fact because the wind was a bit cool, even for September).

Almost being the operative word. An arm pulled her upright before she fell completely, placing her gently on the ground.

Hope looked up, not at all surprised to see a pair of blue eyes looking down at her, but entirely flustered.

"Watch your step, Mystery-girl," George Weasley said, grinning as Hope swallowed her embarrassment as best as she could.

She released a short laugh almost against her will, only slightly covering her humiliation. "Wizard-boy, keep your mouth to yourself."

George sniggered as his little brother followed Hope out of the train, and George raised his hands in defeat, though the grin on his lips ruined the image.

"Would I really mock Hope Potter?" he queried with an air of innocence that Hope didn't for one second believe.

Hope rolled her eyes as best as she could, but her lips were twitching upwards into a smile, and George would take what he could get. "Are you always this impossible?"

"Only when pretty girls are around!" he called over his shoulder, disappearing into the crowd of students that were above first years.

"Bloody bonkers," Ron said at Hope's side. "And I always thought George was the sane one."

"Who's really sane, anyways?" Hope had to ask and Ron had to wordlessly agree with her there, the pair settling into an anxious silence that had only been brought on by their arrival at the school, the school Hope had yet to see.

It seemed like Hope, Ron, and all the other first years were standing in relative darkness for a short while before a voice called out: "Firs' years! Firs' years over here!"

A lamp swinging from a giant hand as well as the voice and partially illuminated face revealed to Hope that it was Hagrid.

He grinned down at her. "Alright there, Hope?"

"Alright," Hope laughed as Ron gaped at the Keeper of Keys as though he had never seen a man so tall, which Hope thought was incredibly likely.

"C'mon, follow me," Hagrid called over their heads, his lamp swinging with every move that he made, somehow managing to miss any of the small heads attached to equally short bodies before him. "Any more firs' years? Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!"

And then he turned, lamp still swinging, heading down a path that the first years could barely see. Hope almost fell once more, her cane slipping in the mud, only managing to remain upright by fisting the robes at Ron's arm at the last moment.

If this annoyed him, he didn't mention it.

"Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec, jus' round this bend here," Hagrid told them, his voice belling out and echoing in the silence, causing several people trip at the sound, including Ron, and this time it was Hope that stopped him from falling over his feet.

"Ron, Ron!" Hope tugged on his arm, her eyes fastened on the magnificent structure beyond them. Hope had never seen anything so beautiful in her short eleven years of life.

It was a medieval castle of perfection, that was the best way to describe it. Several stories tall with spires branching off from the main structure. Hope had seen similar castles –though far less impressive– in history textbooks but they were worn by age and elements, and this castle was in prime condition.

The only thing that separated them from it was a lake that glittered like black glass.

"Bloody hell," Ron said beside her and Hope had to agree entirely as several others "Oooooh!"ed in appreciation. The sight was so distracting that the first years had to remember to start walking again.

Ron glanced at Hope and despite the darkness and the nervousness that they both felt, they grinned.

"No more'n four to a boat!" Hagrid called out, jerking them out of the awed trance that had been induced at the sight of the castle; several people started at his voice.

Ron and Hope got in the last boat with Hermione and Neville, but this might have had something to do with Hope not moving very fast with her blasted leg.

This day was turning Hope into a very clumsy person; Hope could not be blamed for this. And she couldn't blame Ron's older brother for everything, but she was going to blame him for the first time, and then the ground, and then the boat, in that order.

She was not going to think at all about when George had said "Only when pretty girls are around." No, she was definitely not thinking about that.

"Everyone in? Right then- FORWARD!"

Hope gripped the edge of the boat tightly, wary of falling into its depths, because she could swear she saw something moving down there. She recoiled quickly when she saw a pair of yellow eyes shimmer in the darkness before disappearing with a flutter of what looked to be green seaweed but Hope would one day learn it was in fact hair.

Hope breathed out slowly, quickly forgetting about the eyes as she looked on to the castle with its lanterns flickering in welcome.

Forget how nervous Hope had been before, because it had doubled, or even tripled, Hope wasn't quite sure as they waited in the antechamber as the witch in emerald robes from before had indicated.

The witch, Professor McGonagall, gave off a severe air that told Hope that she might want to tip-toe around her, especially if she went off wandering at night; who wouldn't with a castle this big (Hope seemed to have forgotten in her excitement that she couldn't move as much as others with her leg)?

Hope then had to wonder if the woman could hear her thoughts, because the calculating grey eyes flashed to meet her green ones.

The Potter recalled from the letter she had gotten from Hogwarts listing a woman named Minerva McGonagall as the Deputy Headmistress, so that had to be this woman. Minerva, Hope knew, being named after a Greek primordial being herself, was the Roman equivalent of Athena, goddess of wisdom, and Hope got the sense that she was aptly named.

Professor McGonagall held her gaze for only a moment and confusion marred Hope's face as she abruptly broke eye contact with her, as though it caused her pain to hold her eyes to Hope's.

"I shall return when we are ready for you," she told the gathering of first years. "Please wait quietly." And then she turned on her heel and exited the chamber, leaving the new students alone with two suits of armour and several lit brackets that cast an ominous glow on the walls and the suits of armour.

Both the suits of armour, Hope noticed, bore snakes on their shields which were held stiffly in front of them.

The other eleven and twelve year olds were conversing in low whispers when Hope noticed both bow themselves slightly in respect towards her. This resulted in Hope feeling much more flummoxed than before.

She opted to stare at the ground which held a strange swirling design, but looking at it made her dizzy, what with the swirls and the anxiety she was currently feeling.

"I think Fred said you have to do some sort of test so they can Sort you into your House," Ron hissed out of the corner of his mouth to her. "Fred said it hurt a lot…I'm sure he was joking, though," he added when her face went stark white.

Hope swallowed, trying to think of anything but leaving the antechamber. Surely Fred must have been lying. It would be cruel to subject them to something painful…so what would it be? Before she could even ponder that, Professor McGonagall had reappeared once more, causing all the murmurs to cease in an instant.

"Now, form a line, and follow me," was all she said as she led them through the doors.

Unsurprisingly Hope found herself behind everyone else, ignoring a few comments said in an undertone concerning her injury. If she hadn't been so focused, she might have turned her hair jet-black.

They left the antechamber to walk through the great magnificent oak doors and into the Great Hall, and Hope was awed by the hall beyond that. There were more candles than she could count dangling high up in the air without suspension, illuminating the four long tables and the Head Table at the front. Hope's eyes were drawn to the man at the centre whose long white beard was as clear as day. Even at this distance, she could see his eyes twinkling.

But his face was only one of so many faces bearing down on them, including those of the many ghosts hovering above.

Hope allowed her eyes to drift upwards, trailing upwards to the ghosts and then past them once she saw the ceiling, which could hardly be described as a ceiling, resembling the night sky.

She was so distracted by the sky being inside that she almost ran into the person in front of her, and she was sure that they wouldn't have been very pleased with her. This directed her attention towards a short stool upon which sat perhaps the most raggedy hat in existence.

Hope blinked furiously, barely managing not to gape in incomprehension when she heard the rustic singing, coming from a hat of all things! What kind of school was this, anyway, to have a hatthat could sing? An incredulous expression appeared briefly on her face at the sight of an old and patched once-pointed hat, singing from a rip in the material.

Its song was one of the strangest things she'd heard, giving fine descriptions of each House, the words regarding Slytherin ringing in her ears ("Or perhaps in Slytherin, You'll make your real friends, Those cunning folk use any means, To achieve their ends.").

Trying on a hat did seem to be less trying than whatever Hope and Ron had imagined as Professor McGonagall began to read off names from a roll of parchment, starting with "Abbott, Hannah!", "Bones, Susan!", and "Boot, Terry!" who went into Hufflepuff, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw respectively.

Professor McGonagall went through the names quickly, as the hat seemed to launch the House names out incredibly fast.

"Granger, Hermione!"

Ron groaned beside her as the bushy-haired first year was sorted into "GRYFFINDOR!"

"Greengrass, Daphne!"

A fair-skinned girl with pinned up blonde hair moved forward to barely sit on the chair, her blue eyes disappearing from view briefly as the hat called out "SLYTHERIN!"

"Longbottom, Neville!"

The last name of the boy who had lost his toad before on the train caught Hope's memory.

"I don't understand," she said, "the Dursleys weren't my parents' first choice for my guardians?" If that was true, then why was she living with them?

"No," the goblin behind the desk said, "that would be your godparents, Alice Longbottom and Sirius Black…unfortunately neither are in a condition to care for you."

Hope took this to mean that they were dead.

Neville must've been Alice's son. He was positively white in nervousness when he sat down on the stool and had the Sorting Hat dropped onto his head.

It took much longer than Hope would've thought for the hat to cry out, "GRYFFINDOR!"

But it wasn't long until "Malfoy, Draco!" came along and was immediately followed by a yell of "SLYTHERIN!"

It seemed like ages before "Potter, Hope!" was called, and by then Hope's heart was hammering in her chest. What if she was put somewhere she didn't belong? What if she wasn't Sorted at all? The butterflies in her stomach thickened into a swarm.

She leaned heavily on her cane as she walked through the now-small crowd of remaining first years, trying to ignore the whispers that had sprung forth at the merest mention of her name.

"Potter, did she say?"

"The Hope Potter?"

"Ooh! Look at that leg!"

She hoisted herself up onto the stool and permitted the hat to be dropped onto her head as well, the faces of those watching her disappearing as the brim flopped down over her eyes.

She had expected a sudden cry of one of the Houses to issue from the hat, but it did not happen as immediately as she had anticipated.

"Ah," it said in her mind, "a curious enigma, aren't you?"

Hope didn't really understand what he meant by this, just as she hadn't understood why George had called her "Mystery-girl".

"A remarkable mind," the hat continued and Hope had a feeling as though he was scanning through her memories, if that was possible –she hoped not, she didn't like people riffling around in her head. "Quite loyal too, with courage, such courage! And a thirst to prove yourself…but where shall I put you?"

She didn't offer any input, keeping her lips tightly sealed.

"What?" the hat's voice had grown amused; if it had had eyes, she was certain they would be twinkling. "No preference?"

"What's the point?" she thought back, her mental voice sounding as snarky as her physical one. "Aren't you supposed to choose?"

It chuckled at her response, still amused; Hope wondered if he'd ever Sorted someone who talked back to him. "Analyze yourself, Miss Potter, look beyond the shell and gaze within to who you truly are."

Hope nearly fell off the stool, and would have done so if she had not grabbed the edge of the stool, so surprised by his words. She had never had to analyze who she was before, what if she didn't do it right?

Hope closed her eyes and took a short calming breath. The four Houses each had certain traits: courage, ambition, loyalty, intelligence…

She was intelligent in some matters, she supposed, though she hadn't been allowed to score very high on her tests in the Muggle school she went to with Dudley, Vernon and Petunia wouldn't have been pleased. She was, in a way, street smart, as it was termed, as she wasn't really the studious type; trouble and her went hand in hand. Loyalty…she wasn't sure about that one. Ambitious…well, perhaps she was a little ambitious, but not overtly so; she wasn't the type to step over others to reach her goals. Brave…she wasn't afraid of standing up for what she believed in, so she supposed that counted.

A soft chuckle told her the hat must have been following her trail of thoughts. She could swear the hat was smirking when it spoke a few last words in her mind, before speaking her house aloud. "Very good, you really must come visit me…Your grandfather may not be pleased, Miss Potter, but I will be sending you to…GRYFFINDOR!"

Her face lit up at the loudest cheer yet filled the hall and she made her way towards the table, sliding into the area next to Hermione Granger, laughing aloud as Fred and George did a little victory dance, yelling "We got Potter! We got Potter!"

Hope smiled widely as the hat was removed from her head and she limped towards the loudest table by far, and just like that, she completely forgot about the hat's comment about her grandfather.

Moonlight was streaming in through the window as Hope lay awake that night, her eyes turning the same colour as the moonlight shining against her. Her bed was the one closest to the window, something that pleased her more than she'd be willing to admit, as she had a perfect view of the clear sky and all of its stars.

Hope Potter, as many would later discover, was a lover of stars. Indeed, star-gazing had gotten her into trouble more than one time or another, including when she had sketched a large –and misshaped– constellation on one of her tests, thus earning her a detention for her troubles.

But Hope was not currently thinking of the stars, she was instead attempting to use the moonlight as a light of sorts, not knowing any spells to produce it herself, her fingers pulling a worn bit of parchment from an equally worn envelope onto which her name had been etched with a careful hand.

Hope, it read.

If you are reading this then your mother and I can no longer care for you, as I have entrusted this letter to the goblin in charge of the Potter vaults and subsequent Head of Gringotts, Ragnok, to be given to you upon your entry into the Wizarding World.

So, Happy Birthday at least ten times over, Hope, and I am sorry that I could not have stayed longer in this world for you or your mother.

Voldemort is no closer to discovering our hiding place, to our relief, and I can rest easy knowing that you are in the safe care of either your godmother, Alice Longbottom, or your godfather, Sirius Black, my closest friend.

Your mother is probably irritated enough with me –as she always is– for writing this letter; she thinks I am too pessimistic. So I will offer you as much advice in as little words as I can manage.

I once made the mistake of judging a Hogwarts House by their reputation alone, so I ask that you learn from my mistakes. Slytherin blood runs in our veins, you and I, and there's no telling if it will shine more strongly in you than any other Potter.

We love you more than the stars in the sky,

Your father,


Hope slid it back into the envelope and placed it on her bedside table, not at all tired. When she'd first read it, she'd burst into tears –not that she would ever admit to it– and Ragnok, being quite out of his depth, had simply sat in his chair, waiting for her sobs to subside.

"More than the stars in the sky," Hope murmured to herself as she grabbed her cane lightly from its resting place before manoeuvring around slumbering girls to reach the door. She could do with gazing up at the stars, even if she didn't know her way around the castle at all.

What girl didn't like a good midnight adventure, after all?

Hope treaded carefully out of the portrait hole of the Fat Lady –the portrait that held the woman that hid the Gryffindor common room and dormitories from view.

The only sound that Hope made was the constant clicking of her cane meeting the floor (the brace having been removed before she had 'gone to bed') as she climbed staircase after staircase until she found herself at a fork of two that she couldn't decide between.

"Take the left," a smooth voice to her left mentioned and Hope twisted violently to cast her eyes upon a handsome young man twirling a wand between his thin fingers. His eyes were a green, though much paler than Hope's, and his dark hair hung in loose locks around his face.

He smiled. "Trust me."

Hope wondered if that was the best idea as she glanced between the two staircases, but when she looked back the boy had gone. How very strange…

But Hope conceded to him, taking the one on her left and climbing it up to another corridor at the end of which she found a door that led out into the open air.

It was cold, there was no denying that, but it also had by far the best view, far greater than even the window in the girl's dormitory could ever hope to compare to.

Hope could see Sirius, the dog star, and the constellation Aquila, and more stars than she could usually see were visible, not hidden as they usually were by clouds gliding across the sky.

She wasn't sure how long she stayed there, transfixed by the heavens, but definitely long enough that she nearly lost feeling in her feet, and it was only then that she reluctantly left the tower to limp down the hall towards the staircases she had taken up to the tower in the first place, trying to remember which ones exactly they were.

Luckily, no one bothered her until she was nearly back to the portrait hole, and she froze, her grip tightening on her cane as she saw something ghostly pass in the nearby hall, a flash of pale skin and a dark cloak. It made her think first of the curious lad from before who had vanished so effectively that he must have been a ghost, but also of the man at the staff table that had glared at her when she had looked up. Hope couldn't imagine why…she'd never met him before.

She sighed. Making enemies on her first day; first Draco Malfoy, then him.

But she was distracted by a chiding voice that spoke from the darkness, startling her and sending a chill down her spine.

"My, my," it said. "Already sneaking out after dark, Miss Potter?"

She blinked a few times, a frown marring her lips slightly as she tensed her spine.

"A girl after my own heart," a second voice added as two boys stepped into the light, their grins the most obvious thing in the darkness.

Hope relaxed her posture, causing a white-hot flare of pain to shoot up her injured leg, something she had quickly grown accustomed to. She leaned her arm against the wall, and the second one—George, it must have been—was instantly apologetic.

"Sorry, didn't mean to startle you."

"It's fine," Hope said through gritted teeth, releasing a tired sigh as the feeling faded. "You get used to it after awhile…" She scrutinized them with difficulty; their pockets seemed to be bulging with something that she couldn't quite tell what it was. "Causing trouble already?" she guessed, recalling Ron's words about his prankster brothers.

The identical smirks bore down on her as their answer and she chuckled under her breath.

"So," Fred began.

"What're you doing—" George continued.

"—out so late?" they both finished.

She stared, bemused. "Do you always finish each other's sentences like that?"

"Always," they chirped.

Her green eyes twinkled in amusement, but she didn't comment on it.

"You never answered our question," George reminded her, the pair becoming thoroughly confused and quite curious when a growing flush of embarrassment appeared on the girl's cheeks.

"I was star-gazing," she admitted, brushing past them and towards the Fat Lady, leaving the Weasley Twins rather puzzled as to why she was star-gazing.

Fred arched his eyebrows at his brother who gave a noncommittal shrug in return, watching her for a moment.

"Need some help, Potter?" he inquired to the night as Hope struggled to make it into the portrait hole.

He walked towards her and Fred winked at him, crossing his arms and watching the show as Hope's cheeks darkened even more.

"Erm…maybe just a little," she said at long last, taking the hand offered to her, allowing her to pull herself up.

"Thanks," she said, ignoring the grin that had graced his lips.

"No problem," he said, "always happy to sweep a girl off her feet."

Hope scowled at him but her bright cheeks ruined the image as she limped towards the girls' dormitories grumbling about troublesome gingers.

Fred followed his brother inside, impressed by how red his twin had turned the Potter, even if he didn't understand how fascinated he could have been with the small girl he'd seen at the zoo.

Chapter Text

Hope awoke early the next morning, surprisingly refreshed despite having fallen asleep past midnight, however, getting down to the Great Hall was a different matter entirely. She lost her way so many times that when she finally sat down at Gryffindor table –though mostly empty as it was still early– the muscles in her leg felt strained and she was breathing a little harder than before from the exercise.

She swallowed her pumpkin juice thickly as she spooned some eggs and sausage onto her plate.

"So, you like to stargaze?"

Hope choked on her eggs as a ginger-haired lad plopped himself onto the seat opposite her.

"Do you ever give up?" she managed after taking a hasty gulp of her drink to clear her throat.

"Sometimes," George said, swiping one of her sausages, earning him a glare. "You know what I said about pretty girls yesterday." He was grinning as the heat slowly rose in her cheeks.

"That would make more sense," Hope snorted, "if I was actually pretty."

George's eyes narrowed slightly. "I think you're cute," he admitted, a light flush adorning his cheeks.

"Really?" Hope asked, vaguely startled by this pronouncement. She had yet to meet someone who didn't view her looks as undesirable. Jane Collins with her blonde curls and bright blue eyes had always scorned Hope and her odd dark red hair and too-green eyes and had been subsequently horrified when Hope turned up at school every other week with a different hair and eye colour more appalling than the last. The mixture of disgust and horror on her face had pleased Hope greatly.

"Would I lie?" George asked, his eyes blinking innocently.

"You look like you would," Hope said, scrutinizing him intently.

His grin widened. "You're catching on, Potter!"

Hope couldn't even resist rolling her eyes at that.

"I like the stars," she said suddenly, catching him unawares.


She gave him a rather direct look. "The stars. You asked me about stargazing."

"Ah, I mean, yes, I did," George floundered and Hope's lips twitched. "I guess you'll like your Astronomy class, then."

"Astronomy?" Hope perked up at that. What girl didn't like star-gazing for school credit?

George expertly hid his sniggers behind his own goblet.

"You know you can ask him to leave if he's bothering you," a voice commented and both looked up as Ron dropped heavily into the seat beside his older brother.

Hope's eyes glowed with mirth. "He's…manageable."

"Manageable?" George squawked in indignation. "I am not manageable, thank you very much!"

"Oh?" Hope's tone turned sardonic as Fred made his appearance at the table as sneaky as ever, delighting, it seemed, in how his twin was being ganged up upon. "Is that what you think? I think he looks quite manageable, don't you?" She directed her question towards Ron who grinned in response.

"Definitely," Ron said.

"Must you wound me so?" George cried with an air of drama. "I shall never forgive you!"

Hope arched an eyebrow towards Fred who was now sniggering.

"I think you'd best apologize," Fred said, his voice filled with humour. "Unless you want to see George get really upset."

Hope dubiously looked back towards George who was putting a great amount of effort into making his eyes look wet.

She patted his hand with a sweet smile. "Try better next time," she told him.

"Is that a challenge?"

Hope stared at him. "Are you always this impossible?"

"Usually worse," Ron told her for his brother as Fred mimed something to his twin.

"See you around, Potter," George said, ruffling his younger brother's hair as he stood, moving to join Fred, causing a scowl to mar Ron's face as he glared, attempting to straighten his hair from the mess George had created. "Try not to get lost, little bro."

"Your brother is strange," Hope told Ron as he took George's vacated seat across from her.

"You don't even know the half of it," Ron said with a groan. "You're looking at their favourite prank victim…after Percy, I mean."

"I ran into them last night," Hope admitted, not in the slightest embarrassed to admit this to him. "They were probably up to no good when I was heading back to the common room."

Ron goggled at her, aghast at her words; Hope wondered if she'd said something wrong. "You snuck out of the tower?" he asked, stunned.

His reaction only served to amuse her further. "Is that so surprising?" she asked, her mouth twitching into a smile.

"A bit," he confessed, "you didn't really seem like the type…"

Hope snorted. "I'm what you would call a 'troubled child' who's greatest skill is lock-picking."

"Really?" Light glinted in his eyes as he gazed upon her, impressed. "Can you teach me?"

Hope blinked in surprise and then she smiled widely. "Sure…it might take me awhile to find my picks, though, they're somewhere in my trunk…I might have left them in the library portion…"

Now it was Ron's turn to stare at her. "You have a library in your trunk?" he asked her incredulously.

"Yup!" Hope said, beaming proudly. "What girl doesn't have a proper library in her trunk?"

Ron could only mouth wordlessly at her for a few seconds before spooning porridge into his mouth in an effort to cover his disbelief at his friend as Professor McGonagall came along the Gryffindor table to hand out schedules.

"And Miss Potter," the older woman added after she had given Ron and Hope theirs, "sometime this week please make time to see the Matron, Madam Pomfrey."

"Who's Madam Pomfrey?" Hope asked blankly after she'd gone.

"She's a Healer," Ron explained, "they fix people up, you know when they're injured? She's in charge of the Hospital Wing."

Hope sighed. She didn't even know where the Hospital Wing was!

The first few days of classes weren't so bad, in Hope's opinion. Charms and Transfiguration were demanding but not overly difficult –though Hope had accidentally turned her hair purple during Charms class, thus ensuing a discussion concerning Metamorphmagi (Hope hadn't even known there was a name for it)and having several of her year-mates asking her to do certain colours for her hair and eyes (that was very annoying)–, Astronomy was very fun, and Hope didn't mind staying up late for it, History of Magic was a bit of a bore, and Herbology wasn't too bad, and now Hope and Ron only had Potions class left.

Hope rather thought that the professor didn't much like her going off of the rather unsavoury expression he wore whenever she was in his presence.

Thus Hope's hair had darkened and shortened to a mess of black tousled curls and her eyes had turned hazel by the time the door slammed shut and the class began.

Up close, Hope thought he didn't look like much. His skin was sallow from potion fumes, his dark robes making it more obvious, and his lips curled into a permanent frown. His dark eyes flashed dangerously as they glanced over her in barely a second as he reached her name on the class roster, the immense dislike clearly perceivable and it confused Hope.

"Ah, yes," he said, his snide voice soft, almost dangerously so, but not quite, "Hope Potter. Our new—celebrity."

Hope's eyebrow twitched in annoyance, his lips drawing downwards slightly in a frown at his words. She felt slightly insulted by his words, and she carefully ignored the sniggers of the arrogant Purebloods that she had met on the train.

"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of Potion-making," Snape began after he had checked every name for attendance. "As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquid that creeps through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses…I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even stopper death—if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads that I usually have to teach." It was an enthralling speech, or at least, it would have been, had Hope been listening, but she was currently fascinated by the sheer number of potion bottles littering the room with varying colours and substances within.

"Potter!" He snapped out her name so suddenly that Hope very nearly jumped, making her eyes coming off a bit more wild than she had intended. "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"

Hope scowled at him, sulking briefly at how he was picking her out, ignoring how Hermione's irritating hand shot up off to the side of her and Ron. She wracked her brain briefly; she'd read something about that somewhere…she was sure of it…

"The Draught of Living Death…right?" she asked, half-expecting it to be wrong, but she was not, and he seemed surprised that she knew the answer, but it did not deter him from asking her more questions.

"And where would I find a bezoar?" Snape demanded, nearly snapping his fingers at her in an effort to make her respond faster.

"Inside the stomach of a goat," Hope recited, having read it in Antidotes to Common Poisons, being a bit startled that someone would actually want to swallow a stone from a goat's stomach; sounded right disgusting, if you asked her.

And why was he just picking on her?

"What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?"

Now, Hermione's hand was almost connecting with the ceiling as she had stood up. And Hope was stumped; she didn't remember those ingredients much…

"Oh, I don't know, Professor, perhaps you should ask Hermione instead," Hope replied with a touch of exasperation leaking into her voice. A few people laughed, and Seamus Finnigan winked at her; she gave him one in return, her lips twitching upwards slightly.

Snape wasn't too pleased, though, and proceeded to give them a lecture on where and what they properly were.

"A point will be taken from Gryffindor for your cheek, Potter."

The second he turned his back, Hope stuck out her tongue in blatant disrespect, earning her an annoyed noise from Hermione, which she ignored.

The lesson went downhill from there, and Hope found herself wishing that she didn't have him as her teacher because clearly he had some unresolved issues to work out.

Sadly, Hope didn't have a lot of restraint at eleven years old and this was made quite obvious later in the lesson when Neville melted his cauldron with the potion that he had been working on with Seamus, resulting in having to be taken to the Hospital Wing by Seamus.

This left Hope and Ron open for attack, as they'd been the pair working beside Neville.

"You –Potter–" He snapped to her and Hope couldn't say that she was entirely surprised. "–why didn't you tell him not to add the quills? Thought he'd make you look good if he got it wrong, did you? That's another point you've lost for Gryffindor."

Hope was so furious that she ignored Ron as he tried to keep her quiet. "Oh, I'm so sorry!" she said with a sarcastic flourish. "It's not like I should have been paying attention to my own potion!"

"Detention, Potter!"

Hope growled, clenching her fist so tightly that her knuckles shone white. Hope had never hated a teacher, but as she stormed out of Snape's class half an hour later, she was sure she would hate him.

Her bag swung violently on her shoulder as she walked, even with her limp, leaving Ron behind, climbing the moving staircases as she dug out a bit of parchment from her pocket that had been given to her by Professor McGonagall earlier that day. On it were instructions of how to reach the Hospital Wing using the Great Hall as a starting point.

Today may have been the first day that Hope and Ron didn't get lost on their way to their classes but that didn't mean that Hope knew where the Hospital Wing was. She lamented to not joining Neville when he had to be taken to the room in question.

She sighed, her anger abating somewhat as she walked more and more, taking the stairs up to the third floor, turning left down the first corridor. It was surprisingly difficult to find, even with Hope's directions she found that she walked past it twice (which was pretty sad, considering how large the double doors were), a numb feeling running through her leg with every step from the force of her storming out of the dungeons not ten minutes earlier.

Her leg paid for her anger, unfortunately.

Hope shoved the parchment into her pocket with her only free hand, the other tightening over the cane as she pushed one of the doors slowly to peer inside.

"Er…hello?" she called into the silence, stepping more completely into the room. It was quite large, she supposed, though the other classrooms were perhaps a similar size, if there was an absence of desks. A number of simple hospital beds with white sheets lay on either side of the room for students if and when they fell ill or were injured.

There was a small back office from which a woman appeared as if summoned by Hope's voice. This woman, Hope assumed, was the Matron, Madam Pomfrey.

"I was wondering when I'd be seeing you, Miss Potter," she said, and whatever Hope had been expecting, it wasn't this. The Matron was a stern-faced woman with crow's feet at the corner of her eyes from smiling and laughing and her hair was tied in a much less severe bun than Professor McGonagall's was, though all the hair gathered into the bun was grey.

"Er, hello," Hope repeated, swallowing slightly as she looked up and down the woman, "you're the…Matron?" It was still a strange term to Hope and she said it slowly, in case she was wrong, but she doubted that.

"I'm Madam Pomfrey," the woman said, inviting her forward, her eyes focused on the leg that had been giving Hope trouble for a long time. "I understand you were in an automobile accident?"

"Who told you that?" Hope asked in surprise, pressing more of her weight down on her cane.

Madam Pomfrey nearly laughed. "You might have told Hagrid, but he's not exactly well known for keeping his mouth shut."

"Oh," Hope said with a bit of embarrassment. Hagrid had been surprised by her leg brace and cane so Hope had had to explain as best as she could manage how she had attained such an injury. "Right…of course he did."

Hope tried hard not to sigh, but it wasn't as if no one wasn't aware by now that the Girl-Who-Lived was a cripple.

As if that was a bad thing.

Cripples had more fun because you underestimate them. Hope couldn't have put all those tacks on the seats because of her leg, she couldn't have turned three of her teachers hair different colours because of her leg…the list goes on.

"I was expecting you to come in earlier," Madam Pomfrey admitted.

"Well, I'm not really known for being on time," Hope said with a shrug, gesturing towards her leg.

"Your father never was either," Madam Pomfrey lamented.

Hope looked up. "You knew my dad?" she asked.

"Well, he was a Quidditch player," Madam Pomfrey said with a light chuckle, "they always manage to find themselves injured in some way."

A smile twisted onto her lips at the mention of her father.

"Would you lie on the bed, please?" Madam Pomfrey asked. "I'd like to run a diagnostic spell on you.

Hope spared the Matron a curious glance before relenting and moving to sit upon the mattress, stretching her legs out against it, one hidden under the bulky brace.

"This won't take more than a few seconds," Madam Pomfrey assured her, "and it won't hurt a bit."

"Great," Hope drawled out as the older witch pulled her wand, earning her a rather bemused smile in return. She did not need to speak a spell, but Hope's leg glowed blue, so one must have been cast. Hope supposed this was more advanced magic than first years were taught.

A moment later Madam Pomfrey leaned back, replacing her wand once more as straightened.

"I could use a spell to hasten your healing," Madam Pomfrey informed her, "but I think it would be better for you to recover on your own. Your leg is healing up nicely, and I'd rather not interfere with the healing process if it can be helped."

Hope had to say that honestly hadn't been expecting some miraculous cure, even given that she was now living in a world of magic.

"That's fine," she said as more of an afterthought, her mind drifting slightly.

"You won't be needing that brace anymore," Madam Pomfrey added.

"Really?" Hope asked in surprise, looking down at her leg.

"Yes, if you want to get the full use of your leg back," Madam Pomfrey said seriously.

Hope gave a mournful sigh. "Alright, then," she said, removing the annoying brace from her leg and handing it to the Matron who placed it on an empty bed.

"Of course, I'll want you to come back every so often so that I can check to see that your leg is healing the way it should be, if that's alright?" she inquired of the Potter.

"Fine," Hope muttered in an almost dejected manner, "I suppose that's better than having to be in here all the time."

"I suppose so," Madam Pomfrey said, her lips twitching just slightly. "I'll be seeing you again soon, Miss Potter."

"Yay," Hope said with as much enthusiasm as she could manage, but despite her attitude, she left the Hospital Wing in much higher spirits than she had entering, making her way down to the Library with difficulty to finish an essay. Something told her Ron was going to wait until the last minute to finish his, but that didn't mean that Hope had to do the same.

The Library was included in one of the few places that Hope actually knew how to find, though this meant a bit of backtracking since Hope hadn't really come up to this part of the castle before.

But, before long Hope found herself sitting at one of the worn tables, parchment before her, ink staining her fingers as she scrawled words across it, referencing two books on basic Transfiguration, trying her best to ignore the whispers that followed her everywhere she went in the castle. It was by far the most annoying thing about her year thus far.

The essay wasn't too difficult, considering the one that Snape had given them was probably going to take her all night, if she had to wager a guess.

She could tell that she was going to have an undying hatred for the subject as long as he taught it.

The essay took surprisingly little time, and soon Hope stoppered her inkwell and shut her books, replacing them back where they belonged. She glanced over to one of the tables, the one that was closer to the front than Hope's had been; she was still there.

The blonde hair gave her away, bound in a tight French braid that couldn't hide her face. Daphne Greengrass, Hope remembered her name was from the Sorting Ceremony, a Slytherin, but Hope didn't much care for disliking people based on their House (though many did not share the same sentiment, she knew well).

Daphne had come in the library around the same time as Hope, but now Hope could see that she hadn't had as much success as Hope had with finding a useful book for that Transfiguration, if the scowl marring her face was any indicator.

Hope looked at the book cradled against her side, then at the girl, then at the bookshelves. And then Hope made a decision that surprised many in the vicinity.

She took her book and walked slowly towards the table, dropping the book onto the table before the blonde, making her jump rather violently, startled blue eyes rising from the parchment to look at Hope.

Hope couldn't resist smiling, though it was halfway between apologetic at how she had startled her and amused at how she had responded to Hope dropping the book. "Sorry," she said, "just thought you'd want this for the Transfiguration essay."

Wide blue eyes stared up at her, stunned that Hope was even talking to her, before Daphne remembered her manners.

"Er…thanks," Daphne finally managed to say to the Gryffindor Metamorphmagi.

"No problem," Hope said in a slightly cheerful manner, pulling her bag a bit more up on her shoulders and gripping her cane under her hand, moving with a dignified limp –if that were even possible; Daphne suspected it might be– towards the entrance to the Library.

It hadn't occurred to either of them that that was the first instance of civility between a Gryffindor and a Slytherin in over a decade. And it certainly wouldn't be the last time the Gryffindor and the Slytherin conversed.

Hope was barely around the corner into a second hallway when she had to blink rather suddenly when her feet were lifted from the ground and she found herself with her arms around George Weasley's neck and her legs around his waist. Amusement and embarrassment warred on her features as she tried to gain the function of her tongue once more.

"Weasley, are you this sweet to all the new girls?" she asked in a would-be-light voice, winking to Fred who sniggered behind his hand at his twin's antics.

"Just the pretty ones!" George informed her in an equally light voice, making her cheeks burn as pink as they had the last time he'd said something similar.

"Mr. Weasley! Miss Potter! What in the name of Merlin are you doing?!"

Three heads twisted to the right to see a stunned Professor McGonagall who was eyeing them all suspiciously. Putting James Potter's daughter with two pranksters was never a good idea.

"We're going on an adventure!" Fred said, striking a dramatic pose. "And the fair maiden is not permitted to walk, so we have brought this mighty steed to whisk her away!"

"I know you didn't just compare me to a horse, Freddie!"

"Oh, I think I did, Georgie!"

Hope couldn't help but burst out into peals of laughter at the combined antics of the twins and the expression colouring Professor McGonagall's face.

Chapter Text

Professor McGonagall wasn't sure what she should have expected when she looked upon the three figures standing before her desk. Two were grinning shamelessly and one gave off an air of innocence that she doubted suited her.

Fred and George Weasley were covered in multicoloured paint, the same paint that had been smeared across Hope Potter's cheeks. It appeared that Hope had been the one to prank the pranksters and the boys had retaliated by taking some of the paint she had lobbed at them and smudged it across her face.

James would have been so proud of his daughter taking up the noble art of pranking, or so he had thought at the time.

Professor McGonagall's eyes narrowed as she scrutinized the trio.

"A prank war does not mean that you can cover a corridor with paint," she told them.

"In all fairness," Hope piped up, her face remarkably unrepentant under the paint, "it's not that much of the corridor."

Fred and George sniggered.

"Be that as it may, Miss Potter," Professor McGonagall said shrewdly, "you and your accomplices will still be cleaning it up until the corridor gleams."

"Accomplices?" Fred squawked. "We're innocent here, Professor! We were minding our own business—"

"A likely story, Mr. Weasley," Professor McGonagall remarked with an arched eyebrow. "As the saying goes, it takes two to tango."

Hope didn't bother hiding her snort. "Innocent?" she scoffed. "Doubtful."

"My dear Hope," George cried, raising a hand to his chest as though injured, "your words cut like knives!"

"I'm sure," Hope said dryly in return.

Professor McGonagall very nearly sighed at the antics of all three of her students. "Report to Mr. Filch's office. He will give you cleaning supplies." She took out her wand and siphoned off the paint they were currently wearing on their skin and clothing so that more paint wouldn't stain the floor as they cleaned up their mess.

Hope gave a jaunty wave as she left, limping after the two third years, and not ten minutes later the three could be found with mops and buckets and rags.

"Well done, Potter, didn't know you had it in you," Fred told her with an approving nod that made her laugh.

"Thank you so much for approving of my rebellious streak," she returned with a grin. "But you're lucky I didn't take a picture of the looks on your faces when all the paint landed on you two."

"Very devious," George complimented, "no wonder I liked you."

Hope turned away, stabbing the mop against a stubborn spot of paint in an effort to hide her blushing face.

George smirked at Fred who grinned in return. If only Hope knew that George was purposefully trying to make her blush fifty percent of the time they were together; it was kind of hilarious…though Fred would never admit that to the Potter heir, he doubted she would take kindly to it.

"Did you think I wasn't going to get even with you for last week?" Hope asked after a moment, once the stain had gone so that she could move to another spot in the empty hallway. "After that horrible shade of green that you turned my hair?" She gave them a rather baleful glare and both boys turned rather sheepish.

They had been trying to see if they could come up with something that couldn't be changed by a Metamorphmagus –unfortunately, they had not succeeded, and thus earned paint-bombs to their clothes and skin for their efforts.

"We were just testing out a new product," Fred said innocently.

"And now that we know it doesn't work on you," George continued.

"—it's back to the drawing board," they said together, causing Hope to slap her hand to her face so soundly that she left a red mark on her forehead.

"You're impossible!" she decided.

Both Weasleys gave cheery bows in return and all three glanced up from their work of cleaning at the sound of approaching feet to see Ron come around the corner.

He looked over his brothers for any trace of paint. "Did the paint not work?" he asked his friend, ignoring the offended looks his brothers gave him for apparently rooting for the other side, as it were.

"Oh, no, it worked," Hope said with a grin, "right up until Professor McGonagall found us chucking paint at each other."

Ron stared at her and then at his brothers, and then back to her. "I'm not sure I should even be surprised anymore," he said at long last.

"It's best not to be," Fred agreed.

"Though we do enjoy when we surprise you, dear little bro," George added with a grin.

"One day it's just going to be me and Ginny here," Ron told him sourly, "and then I won't have to put up with the pair of you."

"Oh, look, Georgie! I think Ronnie's getting annoyed with us," Fred said with a snigger.

"Nah, can't be," George disagreed, "we're too much fun…right, Hope?"

Three pairs of blue eyes fastened on Hope who had been dutifully staying out of the sibling conversation up to this point.

She raised her hands in surrender. "Don't you turn this on me! I've got nothing to do with this!"

Hope squeezed one of the rags over the bucket as she scrubbed at the last of the paint left behind by her sudden attack. Well, if there was one thing for certain that she could say it was that she had one-upped the Weasley Twins in the most glorious way. And she certainly held bragging rights for the rest of time for doing just that.

And then she stood, humming softly as she did, lifting the bucket off the ground as she clutched her cane, rolling her eyes at how the Weasleys were still conversing.


Angelina Johnson could honestly say she had never met someone like Hope Potter in her whole life. No one had ever managed to prank Fred and George and get away with it. Though Angelina suspected that it might have had something to do with the pair being fond of anyone with a rebellious streak, and that included Hope.

She spent every other day in detention, it seemed, with Snape, and from the rumours Angelina had heard, Hope and Snape didn't get along too well.

But Angelina could also see that she was the first girl that George had ever shown any interest in, and was subsequently the only girl who mocked him.

Their relationship was half-way between strange and cute. Angelina wasn't sure if they really counted as friends with how they talked to each other, it could almost be considered flirting.

"Hand it over, Weasley!" Hope demanded, her cheeks bright pink.

"Not on your life, Potter!" George said with a wide grin.

Angelina wondered if they knew about the betting pool Gryffindor House had started. She and Fred were jointly betting on Hope's third year; it was a general consensus to not date until you could actually leave the grounds (now if only she could convince him to take her out to the Three Broomsticks for a Butterbeer…). Lee Jordan thought she could hold out until fourth year, but Angelina doubted that. Hope would know when she was caught, that she was sure of. Even if Hope was remarkably resilient, Angelina had noticed how her smile often met her eyes whenever Fred and George (though, generally only George) cracked a joke.

Currently, the pair was making quite a scene by George holding her book over his head –and he was already quite a bit taller than her– and she used her cane to elevate her upwards, but it didn't seem to be working, only serving to annoy Hope further. Angelina knew better than to take the pair seriously; it was obvious they thought of it as a game, much to the disgust of Ron.

She secretly believed the youngest Weasley boy to be a bit envious of how casual she was with the twins, but he never said a word on the matter. Ron saw her more than the twins, anyways, since she and Ron were two years behind them.

"If you give it to me, I'll tell you how I pranked you," Hope coaxed, her smile on the sly side. The newest prank was a bit spectacular in that she had actually managed to prank them without them having any knowledge of it until after it happened. For the whole day, their robes had changed colour sporadically, and each colour was more outrageous than the last. Hope had told Angelina that it was a rather simple spell, if Fred and George bothered to look for it.

The book was in her hands within seconds.

"—Later," she finished, the smile widening when the twins gave identical groans.

Ron snorted at her words, but he still raised his hand so that they could high-five.

"How does it feel to be played, boys?" Hope said, resting her hands on her hips.

Fred's pout was more pronounced as Angelina laughed with them.

"You two," Angelina called over to the only first-years that weren't scared of getting pranked for hanging out with them, "Your flying lessons start today, don't they?"

The mention of flying had an instantaneous effect; Ron grinned and Hope grimaced. Angelina was slightly surprised by Hope's response, as she had once had to clean the trophy room for a detention in second year (why she was in detention when she was generally so mild mannered, no one would ever discover) and the name James Potter was on a plaque for Quidditch Players of Winning Teams.

"Worried?" Lee guessed from where he sat with his legs looped under the stone bench, on which his crossed arms supported his head. It was a strange way to sit, but no one commented on it.

Hope laughed uneasily, shifting her weight uncomfortably as she did so. "It's just that I don't like making a fool of myself," Hope had to admit, "especially in the air, and especially in front of Malfoy."

It hadn't been hard to pick up the resentment between her and the Malfoy scion. The pair practically threw insults at each other when they passed the other in the hall (that resulted in both being put in detention for a few days by Professor McGonagall who hadn't been very impressed).

"Not making a fool of myself in general would be nice," she concluded as an afterthought, looking strangely wane, as if she was used to making a fool out of herself.

"I'm sure you'll do fine," Alicia Spinnet assured her, closing her book on her Charms essay. "Better than Lee or Fred and George; they tripped over thin air, if I recall correctly." Her dark eyes glinted as she smirked at the three males who started at what she had revealed.

"Don't tell them that, Alicia!" The twins wailed, appalled, but Hope cracked a grin and Ron burst out into laughter.

"Well, here's to hoping we don't do serious damage to ourselves," she muttered under her breath. "We'd better go, Ron," she added in a louder tone, "wouldn't want to be late."

Once they were out of earshot, Ron asked the question that was bugging him.

"Did you really prank Fred and George again?"

Hope snorted. "Yes, is that surprising?"

"Very," Ron admitted, staring at her with something akin to awe. "People don't generally try, seeing as they would never get away with it, let alone do it twice."

That seemed to amuse her, because the smile she tossed his way was very light-hearted, even as they strode across the lawn to the area opposite of the Slytherins. Draco Malfoy was quickly becoming one of the most irritating creatures she had ever had the unfortunate opportunity to meet, such as the instance when she took up residence beside a free broom.

"Perfect Potter finally shows up for class," he said with a distinct sneer.

"Class hasn't started yet, moron," Hope said coolly, "but I guess your education didn't cover telling time, did it?"

Malfoy's cheeks turned pink and he opened his mouth to retort as a few of the Gryffindors sniggered at the insult when Madame Hooch, the flying instructor blew her whistle, signalling the start of class.

When Hope had first caught sight of her, she had likened her to a hawk, and she wasn't wrong. With her grey hair and yellow eyes she looked far more stern-faced than Professor McGonagall did.

"Well, what are you all waiting for?" she demanded, the irritation seeping into her voice as if they should have already known what to do even before she spoke. "Everyone stand by a broomstick, Come on, hurry up."

Hope's gaze shifted downward to her broom. It didn't look very impressive, and she was certain that she didn't want to ride something that looked like it had been roughly taken from a tree. Hope had had a front seat when Fred and George had complained about how handicapping the school brooms were. Riding something that was clearly unstable was not in her top ten things to do before she died, but Hope sighed, dropping her cane to the grass as she did as instructed.

"Stick out your right hand," Madam Hooch continued as if she hadn't seen the many uneasy glances between her students, "and say 'up!'."

A chorus of "UP!"s filled the air, and Hope was faintly startled when her broomstick shot into her hand instantly, but those that did were few in number. Some didn't even bother moving; maybe some people were just meant to keep their feet firmly on the ground.

She couldn't resist laughing, however, when Ron's smacked him in the face.

Once they'd all managed to get their brooms into their hands –some ended up just grabbing the broom from the ground once Madam Hooch turned her back–, their instructor began to teach them how to properly grip and mount the broom. She did allow herself a small amount of mirth when Malfoy was told he'd been flying incorrectly for years; karma's a bitch, isn't she?

"Now, when I blow my whistle, kick off the ground, hard," Madam Hooch ordered, glaring at them all. "Keep your brooms steady, rise a few feet and then come straight back down by leaning forward slightly. On my whistle–three–two–"

She didn't have time to blow her whistle when Neville accidentally pushed off the ground too soon. It was quite obvious that he was completely terrified, so Hope couldn't help but wonder if yelling at him was going to get him to comply.

Neville was shooting upwards much like a rock shot out of a volcano, at that height, Hope doubted he could hear anything but his own whimpers of fear.

"Come back, boy!" Madam Hooch yelled despite Hope's thoughts.

The yell, it seemed, could still penetrate his auditory cortex, because he gave a startled gasp and slipped from the broom to fall a good twenty feet to impact with the ground with a dull thud. Hope was sure she wasn't the only one that winced.

Their flying instructor was at his side in a moment as the Gryffindors watched anxiously and the Slytherins sniggered behind their hands. Hope listened intently for a few seconds, garnering that he'd broken his wrist a bit badly. That was never fun; Hope had that happen to her when she was nine, it made completing assignments a bit difficult.

"None of you is to move while I take this boy to the Hospital Wing!" Madam Hooch's glittering eyes surveyed them all as if trying to glare them into compliance. "You leave those brooms where they are or you'll be out of Hogwarts before you can say "Quidditch". Come on, dear."

Not two seconds after she and Neville were out of earshot did Draco Malfoy burst into laughter, cruel laughter, Hope thought with a frown. What kind of person laughs at another person's pain? But this was Malfoy she was talking about; every bone in his body was rude and ignorant.

"Did you see his face, the great lump?" He demanded through laughter as his fellows joined him. Slytherin really was a rather unpleasant lot, weren't they?

"Shut up, Malfoy," a voice snapped. Hope was almost surprised that it was Parvati Patil that had spoken; she had hardly heard her speak of anything that wasn't fashion-related.

Hope did her best to ignore the Slytherins, but she caught Daphne's eye and the girl rolled her eyes obviously to her. Clearly, she didn't approve of her classmates either. Hope's lips twitched in response.


This time, Hope did look, and instantly, her eyes narrowed into a glare; Malfoy was clutching Neville's Remembrall in his pale hand.

"It's that stupid thing Longbottom's gran sent him!" Malfoy jeered, lifting it up for all of them to see.

"Hand that over."

Hope's voice had taken on a quiet and a dangerous edge. The tone itself should have been a warning, but Malfoy it seemed was incapable of complying to warnings whether or not they were clear to see. It was times like these that Hope liked to fondly remember all those detentions she'd earned in Muggle school for her…explosive behaviour.

Maybe he hadn't heard her.

"I think I'll leave it somewhere up high," he decided with a nasty grin that didn't much suit the nice weather they were having today. "How about in a tree?"

"Hand it over!" she snarled, but Malfoy had already taken flight, hovering above a rather tall oak tree that Hope would have probably climbed if her leg hadn't been so badly damaged.

"Come and get it, Potter!"

The jibe was there, waiting–

"Or are you as slow in the air as you are on the ground?"

Hope schooled her usually expression-filled face into a calm mask as she threw her leg over the broom and pushed off from the ground with more force than she probably should have. She could feel the gust of wind hitting her face, rustling her hair, and swirling around her as she rose and instantly she knew flying would be one of her favourite pastimes; who didn't want to feel as if they were higher than the world?

"Hand it over," she repeated once again, her voice remarkably cool, "or I'll knock you to the ground and break your wrist while I'm at it."

"Oh, yeah?" Malfoy demanded, but his face was a little pale, because Hope was looking completely serious when she administered that threat to his well-being (though she was rather well-known for giving death threats and not going through with them). "Catch it, then, if you can!"

He really shouldn't have pressed his luck when Hope flew past him in the direction he had thrown the palm-sized ball. The ball was nearly invisible, but Hope could see the light glancing off it as it was flung through the air. She sped the broom between her legs forward, the noise around her blurring into nonsensical sounds. The world fell out around her as her focus sharpened; it was only her and that stupid clear ball of Neville's (he was going to owe her for this, she swore).

She ducked into a graceful dive, triumph colouring her face when she pulled up, the light orb clutched in her hand. That triumph faded rather abruptly, however, when she heard the yell of "HOPE POTTER!"

She opted for a single word response that she felt summed up the whole troublesome situation. "Shite."

The next day Hope was so tired that she and Ron almost didn't wake up at an adequate time due to the events of the previous night.

And it was all because of some botched midnight duel that she hadn't been much keen on to start with. By some miracle she'd managed to not be expelled for her actions the day before during the flying class–though she doubted one could really be expelled for a short fly– and even more miraculously had managed to land a spot on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. Fred, George, Angelina, and Alicia had been impressed when they had heard the story from Ron –whom had elaborated on several parts, she'd noticed but had been too lazy to bother correcting him.

The attention they had paid her made her cheeks pink. But today she could hardly keep her eyes open as she attempted to eat her breakfast, and ended up resting her head tiredly on Lee Jordan's shoulder.

"I am never doing that again," she decided resolutely in exhaustion, her voice low and quiet as she contemplated dumping the milk jug on Ron's head, since it was his ludicrous idea. "Worst idea you've ever come up with!"

"On the bright side," Ron continued over her, "you can't say Fred and George have ever done something like that before."

"What haven't we done?" a pair of nearly identical voices inquired of them, announcing the arrival of Ron's older brothers.

"Had a midnight rendezvous go south, so south, in fact, that you nearly get eaten by a three-headed dog," Hope said in a remarkable deadpan. Neville and Hermione had been with them at the time (not by their choice, of course) and seemed as though they never wanted to go out at night anytime soon; a wise course of action, Hope thought, given the first time they had done so, they had run into what appeared to be a Cerberus.

"Well, no," Fred admitted in agreement.

"But who would we have to meet in a midnight rendezvous?" George added, giving her another one of his winks.

She gave him, in return, one of her baleful stares. "One day, Weasley," she muttered under her breath, slapping both of her cheeks so she could wake up a bit more, "I am going to one-up you, just you wait."

"I look forward to it, Potter."

She smirked. "Oh, you do, do you?" Her smile was a bit on the sly side. "I would like to see you try."

"Don't say that!" Ron hissed, his voice halfway between humorous and annoyed. "Now he'll be even more insufferable!"

"Has anyone told you that your eyes are unbelievably beautiful?" George asked instead, ignoring their friends and smirking as her cheeks burned a bright red.

"I am going to kill you," she threatened mildly, standing up so that the height difference wasn't quite so pronounced. "And I bet your mother will agree with my reasoning."

"Oh, yeah?"


The pair was leaning so close together that they were practically nose to nose, but, of course, they didn't notice this.

"If you two are quite finished with your flirting," Alicia added, giggling when the pair jumped back like they'd been burned. "Hope, Ron, don't you have class?"

"Oh!" The first years made identical noises of surprise and scrambled to collect their things, bidding them a hasty farewell and racing –and limping– off to class, cursing themselves for not keeping track of time.

Chapter Text

Hope's bad day started on the thirty-first of October. She didn't much like Halloween for obvious reasons, since it was the day her parents were killed, but Ron made it worse with his big mouth.

"It's no wonder no one can stand her. She's a nightmare honestly."

Hope glared venomously at Ron who looked vaguely startled to be on the receiving end of such a look as Hermione barrelled past, tears pouring from her eyes.

"You have no tact whatsoever," Hope told him before moving as fast as she could with her limp after the bushy-haired brunette. This was rather difficult given that Hermione was rather fleet-footed even with a heavy bag of books.

"Hermione! Hermione, wait!" Hope called, almost losing her before finding her as she pushed her way into a lavatory.

Hope sighed as she followed after her rather belatedly. She peered cautiously inside, entering quietly at the sound of sobs coming from the only closed stall.

"Hermione?" she asked gently.

"G-go aw-aw-away!" a voice sobbed from beyond the door, but Hope didn't listen.

"I'm really sorry about what Ron said," Hope told her with an earnest tone that couldn't have been faked.

Hermione said nothing, the only sound that could be heard coming from her was her crying so Hope settled herself on the ground, waiting for Hermione to calm down. It wasn't as though Hope actually had anywhere to go; Charms had been their last class and there was another half an hour until the Halloween Feast.

"Are you still there?" Hermione asked in a small voice after a short while had commenced. Hope couldn't be sure if the feast had started yet or not.

"Still here," Hope said.

"W-Why?" Hermione hiccupped. "You don't even like me!"

Hope scowled in a bit of irritation. "I don't not like you, that would take too much work. I don't like Snape and Malfoy, they've got a category to themselves."

Hermione choked on a small laugh.

"I don't do well at having friends," Hope admitted, "I'm used to being alone, thinking about myself and all…having friends this year is a bit new to me and sometimes I don't really know how to deal with people."

Hermione said nothing, but Hope got the feeling that she was listening intently.

"You're so smart and clever that it's kind of intimidating," Hope told her.

"Sorry," Hermione said meekly.

Hope scoffed slightly. "Why apologize? There's nothing wrong with it, you just threw me through a loop, that's all."

"Oh." Hermione swallowed on the other side of the stall, slightly pleased at how Hope said there was nothing wrong with being so smart.

"I think I just fit in with boys better because I'm so troublesome," Hope said with a shrug, "girls are just crazy, especially the ones at my old school."

The ones at Hermione's school always made fun of her for her teeth and her smarts, always stealing her homework.

"I liked to freak them out by changing the colour of my hair every other day," Hope told her. Hermione could hear the grin in her voice. "They were all so scandalized."

A small giggle was released from Hermione's lips and following that was a short stint of silence.

"Did you want to go up to the feast?" Hope asked her.

"I-I think I just want to stay here," Hermione said, her words weak as she waited for Hope to get up and leave. She peered through the crack in the door, but Hope hadn't moved. "Aren't you going?" she asked.

Hope shrugged. "I don't really like celebrating the day my parents were killed," she said wryly.

It was almost easy to forget about Hope's parents when her name was so well-known to the general Wizarding public, but it was just as easy to remember who had to die in order for her to gain the title of Girl-Who-Lived.

"I'm sorry," Hermione said sincerely.

"It was a long time ago," Hope said with a sigh, leaning back so that she could feel the wall through her shirt, "I barely remember it…them…whatever…" Hope twisted the serpent ring on her finger. "So it looks like we're both going to be here for a bit…I could read you something, if you want."

Hermione blinked her eyes red from crying. She hadn't expected Hope to offer to read to her; it made her wonder what she would read.

"I guess," she said, listening to the sound of Hope rifling through her bag and the sound of parchment being flipping through.

"It began as an idea and slowly grew into something so much more," Hope read. "Broomstick travel is so tedious even to those of us that are in still in our youth. Morea, my love, prefers travel over earth than by air, as it is. Thus Flashing was born.

Flashing is a name for a new magick I have created which will be used in order to move from one place to another instantaneously. The act of moving from one destination to another will be so fast that it seems as though a flash of light has appeared."

Hermione rather thought what was being described was something similar to what the Muggles liked to call teleportation. Perhaps the book from which Hope was reading was describing the first attempt at such a magic.

"Morea fears I am spending too much time in my study working on this magic, however I believe it is well worth the effort, else I would not risk the wrath of my lovely wife," Hope read, amusement lighting her voice as she read the words on the page. "It, like many magicks is controlled by mere thought. To wish is to be. I can only hope I succeed when I test my theory on the morrow. It would be a shame for my wife to be told her foolish husband twisted himself into nothing before our first anniversary…"

Ron sat alone at the table, sulking as he picked at his chicken, hardly eating anything, his stomach roiling.

"You look like you're going to be sick," a voice commented to his left and Ron looked up as one of his brother's plopped himself into the seat beside him. It was George; he was the kinder of the two.

"Where's Hope?" he added. "Shouldn't she be sitting with you?"

Ron frowned. "I may have said something about Hermione," he admitted.

George arched an eyebrow. "Oh? Something not very nice?"

"Yes," Ron said sullenly.

"So Hope went to comfort her and left you alone," George guessed. "Sounds like a fair trade, if you ask me."

Ron scowled slightly at his brother, but it wasn't as though he could deny the truth.

"You know when Ginny gets upset when she doesn't get to fly with us," George said, "and you say she can't because she's a girl?"

Ron nodded.

"And then Mum makes you (and us) apologize for upsetting her?"

"What're you getting at?" Ron asked.

"I'm saying that it might be best to apologize to the girl," George told him with a rather significant look that Ron was sure he'd picked up from their father.

"I guess it was rather mean," Ron had to concede, making George grin as he ruffled his hair, much to Ron's eternal annoyance, standing to move back towards where Fred and their Quidditch teammates and friends were sitting.

Ron was about to stand to do just that when he was quite distracted by someone, as was the whole Hall.

The distraction came in the form of Professor Quirrell, their Defence Against the Dark Arts professor who barrelled into the hall, nearly out of breath with a face so white and the turban that he normally wore perfectly straight over his head was nearly loose and almost falling off as he skidded to a stop before the Head Table.

"Troll," he choked out, hysteria evident in his voice, "in the dungeons! Thought you ought to know." And then the professor's eyes rolled back into his head as he fell forward to collapse on the ground, unmoving.

Ron knew very well what a troll was, as most Wizarding children did, given that if you were compared to one it meant that you were thought to be large and stupid, not at all endearing. Surely trolls were too stupid to make it into the castle, though? Weren't there protections against that?

Fear swirled in his stomach as chaos erupted around him, the fear spreading like wildfire across the Hall from the Slytherin table to the Gryffindor table and it took a bit of effort by the Headmaster to regain a semblance of order.

"Prefects," Professor Dumbledore called out into the silence, "lead your Houses back to the dormitories immediately!"

Then there was a scramble to comply to his words, resulting in four different Houses trying to leave the Great Hall at the same time, and by the time Ron had forced his way out of the hall Percy's voice had grown distant as he led the first years along with the rest of the House up to the Gryffindor Tower.

And then a thought occurred to him. Professor Quirrell had said that the troll was in the dungeons, and his and Hope's last class of the day had been on the first floor and he'd watched Hope take the first staircase down to the dungeons when she was following after Hermione…

Ron wanted dearly to smack his own forehead with his hand. The two probably had no idea there was even a troll in the dungeons! Oh, what should he do? Ron contemplated briefly before making a sudden decision to follow the first Hufflepuff he saw –remembering what Fred and George had said about the Hufflepuffs common room being in the lower parts of the castle– following them down as far as he dared before ducking into the first empty and dark corridor he could find. He was almost caught by an older Hufflepuff, only managing to evade at the last second.

He knew his way around the castle more now, given that he'd been walking around in it for nearly two months now, and he was almost certain that the girls' lavatory was down the hallway and to the left so he rushed forward, making for the room in question when he was forced to hide behind a suit of armor at the sound of footsteps heading his way.

His first thought was a prefect, but it was Snape, and instead of staying in the dungeons he had taken the first flight up to the third floor, however, Ron didn't have much time to think on this, becoming thoroughly distracted by the horrible stench filling the air that didn't bode well for Hope or Hermione (or even himself).

And that was when he saw it and Ron nearly gagged at the sight of the monstrously tall misshapen grey-skinned creature with a large club held in his hands.

Ron had never seen a troll before, but he was sure that that was exactly how it was supposed to look.

He floundered on what he should do before he was spurned into action upon the realization that the room that the troll had just wandered into was the girls' bathroom.

And then he didn't really have time to think as he ran down the corridor towards the room from which a loud scream had pierced the air.

It didn't take much to guess that the owner of the voice was Hermione Granger.

Why, oh, why did it have to be a troll?

The first thing he noticed when he entered into the room was that the troll had done a lot of destruction in a short amount of time.

Hermione Granger was attempting to make herself as small as possible, looking as though she would keel over any second, her robes covered in dust and ripped by shards of porcelain from the shattered sinks. The troll, on the other hand, wasn't stalling in its lumbering movements towards her.

There was movement from under the broken wooden pile that could have only been from what used to be the bathroom stalls. With difficulty a head of dark hair –though, this didn't mean much as Hope had a habit of changing her hair colour more than the average witch was willing to, so Ron thought it was better to memorize her face and voice than anything else– appeared as Hope forced her way halfway out of the pile.

"Distract it!" Hope called over to Ron, fortunately causing the troll to stop, but unfortunately its attention then shifted to Hope who turned as white as a sheet once she realized she was in its gaze.

"Oi, pea-brain!" Ron yelled on the fly, clearly not coming up with a very witty insult as he threw a metal pipe at the troll's shoulder. The troll didn't seem to notice the pipe, though it did hear Ron's voice.

That distraction gave Hope just enough time to pull herself fully out of the rubble to struggle into a standing position and limp badly around the troll to half-drag Hermione from the corner, trying to head for the door, but she was very resistant, staring at the troll in open-mouthed horror. That didn't really help their situation much, if you asked Hope.

"Come on, run!" Hope commanded, tugging harshly on Hermione's arm.

The yells echoing off the tile wall seemed to drive the troll insane as it twisted its head violently, quickening towards Ron, until Hope did something similarly insane: she had released Hermione and done a stumbling run and by some miracle had managed to link her arms around his neck. The downside: she'd accidentally shoved her wand up his nose; she imagined this was rather painful going by how it yelled, moving its body and club in such a way that Hope was sure it was going to be the end of her short life when Ron did something that she later swore she'd kiss him for.

He raised his wand and said: "Wingardium Leviosa!"

The club lifted from the troll's grip to hover in the air above its head before smashing into the skull of its owner with an ominous and sickening crack. Its eyes rolled up and its whole body collapsed, sending Hope sprawling and coughing, her whole body aching.

It was hard to say who was the most stunned, but Hope was sure she was the most in pain as she struggled to stand. The carnage was a haze of colour, blurring together so that Hope had to lean against the wall to remain stable, feeling very much like she'd gone through the wringer.

"Is it-dead?" Hermione asked haltingly as Hope attempted to steady her heartbeat.

"Doubtful," Hope gasped, "more likely it's knocked out."

Ron pulled Hope's wand from its nose making a disgusted sound as he wiped the bogies on the troll's trousers before handing it back to his friend. "Are you alright?"

"Let me catch my breath," Hope said in exhaustion, sliding down until she was sitting on the floor, pressing a hand to her heart in an effort to manually slow the frantic beats under her palm –this did little good– and Hope hoped that these incursions into her life weren't going to be constant, she didn't think her heart could handle the stress.

The Fates weren't really working in their favour it seemed, but then, she supposed, they probably had been making quite a racket with their yells and screams (this was including the troll, mind you, who was quite obnoxious with its noise). Somehow, Hope was a bit surprised that the professors hadn't shown up before then. Those moving staircases must not have been very cooperative.

Hope blinked thickly a few times, her vision clearing enough to see that Professor McGonagall was the angriest she had ever seen her, but Hope wasn't too perturbed; they hadn't done anything wrong, really. Hermione and Hope had been minding their own business when the troll had wandered in and Ron was the unsung hero.

"What on earth were you thinking of?!" she demanded, the fury in her voice echoing in the silence so loudly that her tone was nearly a shriek. "You're lucky you weren't killed. Why aren't you in your dormitory?"

"I was thinking," Hope said suddenly as Hermione opened her mouth to speak, "that if Ron hadn't come looking for Hermione and me, we'd both probably be dead." Her tired eyes were focused rather blearily on the ground, and it was then that she noticed the rip of Snape's robes, barely exposing the obvious bite mark on his leg.

"And why would you and Miss Granger even be here in the first place?" Snape asked snidely, his lip curling into a sneer.

Hope shifted her gaze upwards to glare at the man who had had it out for her since day one. Was he really going to blame this on her and Hermione? "I believe it would be something along the lines of recovering composure, sir." Her voice had grown as cold as it had when she was addressing Malfoy only two days previously. She wondered why Snape flinched at it, though, that was a bit curious by itself.

Ron looked vaguely uncomfortable and he murmured a quick and belated apology to the brunette, who, though still in a bit of shock, was grateful all the same.

Professor McGonagall seemed to have calmed down somewhat, though she appeared to still be heavily annoyed with them. Again, Hope felt the need to mentally point out that they really hadn't done anything wrong, not that their teachers could read her mind...or could they? That would be something interesting to look up. "Well, I still say you were lucky, but not many first-years could take on a full-grown mountain troll. You each win Gryffindor House five points. Professor Dumbledore will be informed of this. You may go."

Ron helped Hope into a standing position, and after a quick search found her cane, and the three set off towards the common room. No words were spoken between the three as they stood before the Fat Lady. The awkward silence settled down on them.

"So," Hope said quietly, "is this the part where we hug and make up?"

They both smiled as Hope gave the password and entered the room, following her after a second had passed. By then Hope had already been swept away by one of her Quidditch teammates, Angelina Johnson who was inspecting her face closely. "Ah, hell, what have been doing to yourself? George, keep an eye on her, I'm going to grab some things."

"I got it, Ang!"

Hope's cheeks filled with colour as she was suddenly lifted over the older boy's shoulder much like a fire-fighter. "Hey-hey-hey! What're you doing?! Put me down!"

Ron snickered at her predicament and even an amused smile spread across Hermione's face.

"George! Hey! You're not helping!"

Before Ron or Hermione even had time to blink, George had practically chained her to Angelina's vacated armchair.

"Alright, Ron?" Fred called from the couch, glancing quickly over the boy as if searching for injuries, but it seemed that Hope was the one most prone to injuries, and thus, while Ron and Hermione had escaped the troll attack unscathed, Hope looked much like she had gone face first through a window. The cuts to her face were quite extensive, Hermione couldn't help but wonder why she hadn't been sent to the hospital wing, but then, this wasHope she was talking about. The only times where she hadn't gone voluntarily to see Madam Pomfrey occurred when she was forcibly carried there by either of the twins –who were consequently the only ones strong enough to carry her and ignore the derogatory comments spewing from her mouth at the exact same time.

"Fine," Ron said, slumping tiredly into the empty seat beside him. "How does a troll get into Hogwarts, anyways?"

"Well," Hermione spoke, her voice quiet from her encounter with the troll, "there are supposed to be enchantments that protect the entire school, hiding it from prying eyes."

"It's protected by blood wards."

Three pairs of eyes stared her and Fred snorted. George was smushing her cheeks in his hands where she wasn't cut. He seemed to be trying his hardest to annoy her, if you asked Hermione.

"George..." Hope's eyebrow twitched slightly.

He grinned.

She pulled his hands from her face (Hermione noticed George didn't let her hands go, his grip a little tight; he must have been worried about her) and turned her attention on Ron. "Blood warding is one of the oldest forms of magic in the world, the protection they offer is...substantial," she explained as the stares turned on her, a pale, barely noticeable flush dusting her cheeks. "My house has blood wards around it, but they're a bit different. Blood wards are the highest protection you can get; it's why Curse-Breakers have such a hard time breaking into tombs. Only an exceptionally powerful wizard could rip a hole in that kind of barrier."

"So," Fred continued, surprisingly subdued, "someone inside the school let it in, that's what you're saying, isn't it?"

"It does seem very likely," Hope admitted, her eyes locking with Ron's for less than a second, and in that instant he was sure he'd read her mind.

The Gringotts break-in that had occurred on her birthday was a source of intrigue. Hope had said that the day Hagrid had taken her to Gringotts; he had removed something from a Vault 713, a small package. Whatever it was, it was worth something to someone if they went so far as to attempt to burglarize Gringotts. "Hogwarts business" was what she'd said he called it, so did that mean–? His eyes widened slightly and hers twinkled in return.

It took him a bit, but he was still a bit smarter than the average student. He noticed no one else had been able to theorize as far ahead as Hope, but then, no one had her inquisitive nature.


Angelina had caught her off guard as she pressed what must have been the magical equivalent of Hydrogen Peroxide against the cuts on her face. "Holy Hell!"

"Oh, stop whining!" Angelina admonished the girl, but grinning all the same. "Don't be such a baby!"

Hope couldn't help but pout, making Ron and Hermione laugh, and they weren't the only ones.

Chapter Text

The first thing that Hermione had learned about Hope Potter was that she was very easy-going. She was very amicable with her Quidditch mates, some on the level of how she spoke with her or Ron. Ron's brothers in particular, she'd noticed quite early on. The gentle teasing that occurred between her and Fred and George was a bit surprising; she hadn't thought they'd be people she would be friends with.

Hermione could tell when they were off on a prank, because Hope ran point, distracting Percy by picking his brain about the limitations of the metal a needle could transform into, or perhaps even why plants that were considered muggle weren't used in potions? They were really good questions (things that Hermione was curious about as well), and somehow the prefect didn't see through her misdirection because of how honest her face was.

The second thing that Hermione noticed was that Hope went up to the Hospital Wing every week to see Madam Pomfrey so that the older woman could make sure that her leg was healing up properly and that Hope wasn't overstressing the still-recovering muscle. Hermione hadn't noticed before how sometimes Hope would wince when she walked in a certain way.

But nothing got past Madam Pomfrey who seemed to know instantly when Hope had been walking around too much.

And this time Hermione joined Hope and Ron in the Hospital Wing, watching in slight apprehension as Madame Pomfrey tapped her new friend's leg in several places, the wand tip glowing slightly, illuminating her bare skin strangely. The scar on her leg was a bit on the obvious side, with a jagged dark pink line marring across the front of her shin, but when Hermione blinked, she thought it looked a bit smaller and less cringe-worthy. Madame Pomfrey winked surreptitiously to Hermione, noticing how she had seen what she had done, before falling into a focused mask.

"Alright, now I want you to stand on your leg for as long as possible," Madame Pomfrey said, wanting to see if there was a change since the last time Hope had come in, to the girl who wrinkled her nose in distaste, but stood all the same, balancing with difficulty on her damaged leg. Ron held onto her cloak –since it was made of a heavier material than her uniform– and bag for her, being surprisingly patient.

It seemed her initial assessment of the youngest Weasley wasn't quite correct, but that didn't surprise Hermione, as Ron had been friends with Hope since they shared a compartment on the Hogwarts Express on September first.

The seconds ticked by slowly as Hope's countenance faltered and exhaustion lined her fair face, clearly not much liking this exercise. Hermione hadn't even realized she was holding her breath until her chest began to hurt.

"I've got this," Hope grumbled to herself, probably not wanting Hermione or Ron to hear, so they pretended they hadn't, before pitching forward rather suddenly so that Hermione and Ron had to grab her elbows to keep her from face-planting into the floor. "Okay, maybe not," she admitted once they'd hoisted her back onto the infirmary bed, slightly breathless.

"Not quite, Miss Potter," Madame Pomfrey informed her with a curt voice that was similar to Professor McGonagall's in several ways, "but you are making much progress, faster than I could have ever imagined, perhaps by the end of next year you will be completely healed, if you're lucky."

"I can be very lucky," Hope said optimistically, her grin hopeful, her eyes bright.

Ron tried his best not to snort, but it came out strangled; Hope already had the worst luck than anyone he'd ever met. He doubted she would be lucky in this regard, but he wasn't going to say that to her face.

Though it didn't matter much, as Hope shot him a filthy look, interpreting the hidden snort accurately, looping her bag over her shoulder and stalking weakly out of the hospital doors to ram right into another body, sending her tumbling backwards gripped her face and groaning from the contact. "Aw, dammit, Weasley!"

Fred laughed from where he and George and Lee happened to have been passing on their way to class (or skipping, you could never really be sure with those three).

"It's not my fault you fall over yourself whenever I'm around," he replied with a grin that made his brother and friend snigger behind him.

"Oh, really?" Hope replied, arching an eyebrow, faintly amused at his antics, as she always was concerning the Pranksters of Hogwarts. "That's some delusion you're having, Fred."

"How'd you know I was Fred?" the twin asked in surprise; even their mother got it wrong sometimes, but Hope was on a roll, no slip ups yet.

Hope's eyes twinkled as she grinned up at him. "I solemnly swear I'm up to no good."

George gaped at her. "How d'you know about that?"

Now all three first years were staring at them oddly. "Know about what?" they all asked with varying degrees of scepticism and confusion.

"Oh, er, nothing!" Fred said quickly, waving his hands frantically.

"Gotta run!" George added just as feverishly.

"Forget about that," Lee added.

And then the two twins dragged Lee away and beat a hasty retreat, leaving three pairs of eyes blinking in confusion.

"Are they always that odd?" Hermione voiced after a few moments.

"Pretty much," Ron said tiredly, "though they seem to have taken Hope as a personal challenge."

She rolled her eyes at them. "Oh, don't worry, they just appreciate my tenacity for trouble."

"I don't think that's a good thing," Hermione said slowly, but Ron just laughed and shook his head.

"Just go with it. She's not going to change anytime soon," he advised. "Hey, Hope! Wait up!"

"Time and tide waits for no woman, er, or man!" Hope called over her shoulder. "And neither does our next class!" She added with a quick glance to her watch.

"Oh!" Hermione quickened her pace to catch up them, determined not to lose her friends so soon after gaining them.

"I think I'd prefer a staff."

"I'd still fancy a wand."

Professor Filius Flitwick had heard many a strange conversations during his tenure as Charms professor at Hogwarts, but this topic was one he was certain he had never come across; whether a staff was better to use for spellwork or a wand was.

And it was even stranger when one knew that this was a first year class and a conversation between Hope Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger.

"Merlin had a staff," Hermione offered helpfully.

"Yeah, but where're you going to stuff it when you're not using it?" Ron demanded, his forehead creasing slightly as he raised his wand, incanting the spell that they had been learning in class."Lumos!"

The tip of his wand lit briefly before the light stuttered and faded. Ron, predictably, scowled at the wand that had once belonged to his brother.

"You'd just shrink it and shove it in your pocket," Hope replied, rather unconcerned as she tried her hand at the spell, only to have her own light flicker out as her attention wavered and she caught sight of her short-statured professor. "Professor Flitwick! Can you help us?"

"Having trouble with your charm, Miss Potter?" Professor Flitwick asked, bouncing forward on his feet.

"We were wondering if it's better to use a magic staff or a magic wand," Hermione said, leaning around Hope to ask the question.

"Hm," the small professor hummed thoughtfully. "I can't quite be certain."

Ron and Hope groaned, clearly the two opposing sides of the argument, whilst Hermione seemed to be the voice of reason.

"It is true that staffs fell out of favour in the twelfth century," he continued, gaining their interest once more, "and there is some debate as to whether the wand is truly stronger than the staff, but I'm sure you'd find that it is the caster of spells that makes all the difference."

"Cool," Hope said, before her eyes drifted towards the wall and she raised a hand to her mouth in surprise. "Oops…"

Professor Flitwick turned around to stare. Hope hadn't quite been paying attention where her wand was pointing as he had explained this and had caused what appeared to be a poplar tree to sprout from the floor, its white branches spreading outwards.

The Charms professor turned back to Hope whose face had enflamed, turning her hair a bright ginger.

"Sorry," she said apologetically as Ron sniggered beside her and Hermione attempted to silence her own giggles.

"Perhaps it would be best to be wary of where you are pointing your wand, Miss Potter," Professor Flitwick suggested.

"Yes, sir," Hope said a bit meekly.

He turned away, causing the poplar tree to vanish with a wave of his wand, causing a chatter from his students.

"Back to your spells," he said, "anyone who doesn't manage to light their wand once will have to write a three foot easy on the benefits of such a spell."

There was a scramble by his students to light their wands before the end of class five minutes later.

"Alright, forget about the whole staff-wand thing," Hope said with a careless wave of her hand, a bright smile worming its way onto her lips as she grinned at her friends. "You won't believe what I found last night!"

"When you snuck out of the dormitory again?" Hermione asked, straightening her bag over her shoulders as they walked through the corridor, keeping their voices slightly low so others would have to try a bit harder to be heard.

"I regret nothing," Hope said, her nose high in the air before grinning once more, "don't you want to hear about what I found?"

"Is it a secret room?" Ron asked, screwing up his face slightly in thought.

"No," Hope told him, "it was a talking suit of armor!"

"But none of the suits of armor can talk!" Hermione said, aghast.

"This one can," Hope said, "and he can tell riddles! C'mon, I'll show you!" Hope grabbed Hermione's wrist and began dragging her through the left fork and Hermione grabbed Ron's elbow so he wouldn't be left behind (though the chances of that were rather low, especially when one considered how slow she was with that limp of hers).

They didn't travel very far before stopping in front of the first suit of armor that Hermione and Ron had seen in the hall.

"Sir Michael Richmond," Hope introduced, waving a hand towards the armor, "Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley."

"A pleasure," the words were spoken in a rustic tongue and both Ron and Hermione jumped.

"Bloody hell!" Ron said.

"Not quite," the armor said, clearly amused by his reaction, "if only you'd been in my presence during a full moon."

Hermione goggled and Ron took a step back. "You're a werewolf!"

"Was," Hope corrected, "you can't really transform without a body…isn't that right, Michael?"

"Indeed, Milady," the armor said. "Did you return for another bout of riddles?"

"Maybe," Hope wheedled.

"What comes once in a minute, twice in a moment, and never in a thousand years?"

"The letter M," Ron piped up, moving forward cautiously.

"What fastens two people, yet touches only one?"

"A wedding ring," Hermione said, knowing that one from a book she'd once read.

"When one does not know what it is, then it is something; but when one knows what it is, then it is nothing," the suit of armour said.

Hope frowned, opened her mouth briefly, but then shut it just as quickly. "I don't know this one."

"It is a riddle," the armor informed her.

"How typical," Hope said dryly, before turning back to her two friends. "Cool, huh? When can you actually have a conversation with a suit of armor?"

Ron and Hermione had to concede to her there, though Ron thought it was a little strange that the armor had called her 'milady' (even if she was the heir to a Noble and Most Ancient House). Perhaps he was familiar with her family?

But Ron didn't have the chance to ask her before they headed out towards Great Hall for dinner.

"I've got this, Oliver, thanks," Hope told the older boy with a bit of a dry tone.

Oliver Wood was the Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team as Hope had learned last week after she had been dragged away from flying lessons by Professor McGonagall. He was a fifth year and built more strongly than Hope could ever dream of being.

"Make sure you get some extra sleep tonight," he was warning her.

"Yeah, yeah," Hope said, barely managing to resist yawning in front of him as he disappeared up the stairs that led up to the boys' dormitory.

"He is such a worrywart!" she complained flopping back onto the couch, pulling her potions essay towards once more. She was halfway done, Hermione was nearly finished beside her, but Ron had barely started his and he was already dozing in the armchair.

"I suppose it's because it's your first game?" Hermione suggested; sports weren't really her forte.

Hope grumbled under her breath, releasing a short swear when a ginger head seemed to pop out of nowhere; Hermione glared at her.

"George!" she growled in near-aggravation as his antics had nearly upended her inkwell and would have consequently ruined the essay she had worked so hard on. "You complete and utter—"

"Handsome prat?" George offered with a wide grin.

"I dunno whatever gave you that delusion," Hope told him stoutly and Hermione hid her giggles behind her book. "I'm busy, you know, unless you know the best way to cut a sopophorous bean…"

"No, you're doing it wrong, you've got to crush it with the flat side of the blade."

"Eh?" Hope gaped at him, startled that he was actually offering some help. "But it says cut!" she said, stabbing a finger at her potions book before shoving it under his nose.

Hermione generally didn't pay attention much to the banter (though she would more closely relate it to flirting, but she opted to not say anything) that was common place between Hope Potter and George Weasley, but since this one was about a school subject, she listened in.

"Well, I'm telling you to crush it," George responded in amusement, propping his elbow on the back of the couch and leaning his cheek into his fist surveying the person that brought his cheekiness and joking nature to the surface in every conversation they held. "More juice comes out if you crush it."

"You're having me on," Hope decided.

"Would I lie?"

That comment earned him a rather unconvinced look in return. "Do you want an honest answer to that?" she drawled out.

George rolled his eyes. "You got your potions supplies?" he asked a brief second before riffling through her bag to pull out her silver blade and two sopophorous beans. "Alright, cutting..." He showed her a difficult time of cutting the bean which released only a small amount of juice, before crushing the second one, releasing a great deal more juice.

"Amazing!" Hermione breathed in surprise, scrawling it into the margin of her potion's revision (having completed the essay while Hope and George were talking).

"And you came up with this all by yourself, did you?" Hope asked the third-year dubiously, canting an eyebrow at him.

"Potter, must you wound me so?" George asked her in a dramatic manner. "You know I never do anything alone! I've got the other half of my soul!" Fred, who must have been half-listening to their conversation from where he was sitting across the common room with Lee, Angelina, and Alicia winked at her unamused stare.

"Of course you do," Hope sighed, rubbing at her eyes to keep the sleep at bay as she turned her eyes back to the paper before her. "You're not going to go away, are you?" she said after a moment.

"You're catching on, Potter," George said with a grin.

"Or maybe you're just predictable," Hope fired back.

Hermione just sat back and watched, brown eyes flicking from one to the other; it was like watching a tennis match. She didn't think she'd seen anyone act the way those two did, and she still wasn't quite sure what to make of it.

If you asked her, George had a bit of a crush on Hope who would've had the same on George if she wasn't in such a muddle of confusion about her feelings.

Hope did not sleep well that night, as it was on the eve of her first Quidditch match, and her worries were clinging to her heart with razor sharp claws and grip that could not be shaken free. What if she didn't catch the snitch? What if she disappointed her team? What if she disappointed Professor McGonagall? What if… What if… There were so many different fears fluttering inside of her.

And then there was something else entirely bothering her, and it had nothing to do with the Quidditch match that would soon be taking place.

"Look beyond."

Those words echoed in her ears like a dull bell that tolled for hours on end. She didn't understand them at all. She hated not understanding things.

"Analyze yourself, Miss Potter, look beyond the shell and gaze within to who you truly are." Those were the words of the Sorting Hat, but she had a feeling that they weren't his. She opened her eyes, moving so that she was flat on her back on the bed, staring above her with a blank expression, before twisting on the mattress as if searching for the perfect spot to lie, but there wasn't one.

Look beyond…did it mean to see past disguises? Or perhaps to not take things for granted? Even her speculations sounded weak and feeble in her mind, and what was that jibe about her grandfather, anyways?

"Your grandfather may not be pleased, Miss Potter, but I will be sending you to…GRYFFINDOR!"

Hope's cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk's, filled with air that she expelled silently in the quiet.

Finally, she couldn't stand it, and she threw her covers from her body and limped painfully down the stairs to the common room. She was a little surprised to find that it wasn't completely empty.

Neville Longbottom had found himself plagued by persisting nightmares, and, feeling trapped in his dorm, had made his way down the stairs to sit on the window seat. The peace and quiet seemed deafening; he couldn't stand it about as much as he couldn't stand his nightmares. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he jumped rather wildly when a soft voice said, "Do you mind if I sit?"

"Sorry," Hope apologized, when he twisted violently towards her, "I didn't mean to scare you." Her lips twitched slightly.

It was strange to see the Girl-Who-Lived out of the school uniform, that was the first thing he thought. Rather unlike him, her pyjamas were mismatched with loose blue chequered bottoms that were so long they dragged on the floor and ratty shirt that hung loosely on her frame. The moonlight crossed her face, painting her hair with stardust and her cheeks with a silver blush.

It was equally strange to see her alone, but this could hardly be surprising, considering how late it was. Still, it was rare to see her out of the company of Ron or Hermione (the trio was practically inseparable these days) or the Weasley Twins who had taken a keen interest in her soon after she had arrived. Neville had opted to stay out of the betting pool concerning her and George.

He wouldn't have imagined that she was the type of person that would be awake at odd hours of the night or even be someone that would talk to him.

"Er…it's fine," he said a bit breathlessly from his embarrassment, "yeah, sit…I mean, if you want to."

Her smile was a bit on the indulgent side, it reminded him a little of his Gran.

"Nightmare or can't sleep?" she inquired, brushing a lock of her hair behind her ear. The lightning bolt scar on her forehead seemed to gleam in the darkness, clear as day against her forehead.

"Nightmare," he admitted.

Hope nodded in understanding. "I am no stranger to those." Neville felt grateful that she didn't ask him what it was about.

"You're Frank and Alice Longbottom's son, aren't you?" she asked, feeling like she already knew the answer but she thought it was best to ask anyways.

Neville's whole body went cold and his heart dropped into his stomach as his head flashed up, his eyes meeting hers. Her eyes were dark and sombre.

She had never been in the situation he had, but she too had grown up without a parent's guiding hand, and he'd heard stories about the muggle family she'd been raised by –her mother's sister's family, he was sure–, like how her cousin had pushed her in front of a car (he didn't know what that was, but from Dean, he'd gathered that it was an object that could move at fast speeds) and caused her leg to be the way it was. He wasn't sure who between the two of them got the worst deal.

"I read about the Lestrange Trial in the Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts," Hope said quietly. "I'm sorry about what happened to your parents."

Neville had never heard someone sound so completely downtrodden concerning his parents.

"Alice was my godmother, did you know that?" she asked out of the blue. "I only just found out when I was at Gringotts a few months back, they told me what happened to her and her husband."

Neville didn't say anything to that. What could he?

"Do you visit them often?" she asked.

"Every Christmas," he said, equally as quietly.

"Would you…" her voice faded slightly as her indecision, before it faintly revived, "next time you see them, would you tell them that I say hi?"

Tears pricked Neville's eyes as she asked that question.


"Why not?" Hope asked unperturbed, making Neville stare at her. It was times like these that he had to remind himself that Hope had been raised by muggles and as such viewed the world a bit differently.

"They…" His throat closed up, and he couldn't seem to force the words from his mouth.

"They won't understand?" Hope guessed in a wane manner. "Maybe they do, maybe they don't, but it's the thought that counts, Neville. What if they can hear and can understand but just can't speak or move in the correct way? Wouldn't you like to tell them things, anyways?"

Neville bit the inside of his mouth, but she wasn't wrong. Maybe he would try talking more next time, they might like that.

"Goodnight, Neville."

"G-goodnight!" he called after her quickly, watching as she used the furniture to help her to the stairway that led to the girl's dorms. "Good luck tomorrow!"

She just waved a casual hand airily, disappearing upstairs and leaving Neville to his thoughts.

Chapter Text

The next morning Hope was a bundle of nerves and her hair was such a pale blonde that it was nearly white, almost matching the colour of her cheeks, while her green eyes had been leeched of most of their colour so that they were a pale fern shade.

In short, Ron thought, she looked like a mere gust of wind would blow her over, which sounded a bit appropriate description, given that she would be taking to the air soon.

"Hope," Hermione said gently, tapping a nail lightly against the wood table. "Have you eaten anything?" She knew that she hadn't, but she asked anyways, more to get Hope to talk than anything else.

"I don't want anything," Hope said, her fork pushing the eggs around on her plate.

"Just a bit of toast," Hermione suggested.

"I'm not hungry," Hope said, dropping her fork onto the plate with disinterest.

"You'd probably just puke it up on the pitch," Ron added, earning him a glare from Hermione. "What? It'll probably happen!"

His words did nothing to calm her nerves and Hope's grip on her new broom tightened. It was the newest model, a Nimbus Two-Thousand that had been given to her by Professor McGonagall upon her making the Gryffindor Quidditch Team, but Hope had never played on it during an actual match. What if she screwed up?

The beaded strand of her hair (today red and blue for some strange reason) swung back and forth like a pendulum.

It seemed like an age had passed before Fred said, "We should probably head out," and Hope, following her teammates, filed out of the room with Hope moving at a much more leisure pace than her companions.

The only thing she could hear was the blood rushing past her ears.

"Nervous?" an all-too-familiar voice asked and Hope didn't even need to glance up to know that it was George.

"No," she said automatically, to which he simply raised his eyebrow at her.

"Maybe a little," she conceded.

The other eyebrow arched.

"Fine, a lot," Hope sulked slightly at being caught out.

"Don't worry," he said bracingly, "everyone gets nervous."

Hope released a choked laugh. "Did you?"

"My first game? Definitely," George said, wrinkling his nose slightly. "I don't remember much of it."

"Why's that?" Hope asked with curiosity.

"I mistimed with my bat and completely missed the Bludger," George admitted, "got myself knocked out of the air and unconscious in seconds."

This did not help Hope in calming herself down.

"On the upside," he continued, "I never made that mistake again."

He winked at her and a faint flush appeared on her cheeks. "Just stay out of trouble and you'll be fine."

She threw him an unimpressed look. "Sorry, I've gone these past three months thinking whenever people talk about 'Trouble' they were talking about you."

"Touché," he said in reply as the three Chasers and one Beater in front of them tried very hard not to laugh so that they wouldn't give away that they were listening, but it didn't really work very for them and Hope settled on glaring daggers at their backs.

But they still sped up their walk until they were in the changing rooms of the Quidditch Pitch and Hope was very nearly left behind, much to Hope's irritation.

When they were all settled in the locker room, Oliver began his pep talk for the game, which Hope had been well aware of weeks in advance as her teammates had seen fit to inform her of it on several separate occasions as well as including the warning of "try not to fall asleep when he's in the middle of it, it really irritates him."

Hope wasn't the only one who looked tired, though. Katie Bell, the Chaser that was a year behind Angelina and Alicia was rubbing furiously at her eyes while the two other girls blinked dazedly and the Weasley twins looked on, staring slightly blankly.

Hope was almost certain they would come around once Oliver started talking or once they had to head out onto the field.

It seemed as though a certain length of time had passed before Oliver even began his speech and Hope swore that she almost fell asleep right there, only to snap to attention at the sound of his voice.

"Okay, men," he started.

"And women," Angelina felt the need to interject.

"And women," Oliver had to agree. "This is it."

"The big one," Fred added cheerfully.

"The one we've all been waiting for," George added in a similar manner.

"We know Oliver's speech by heart," Fred informed the green-eyed girl who tried hard to contain her sniggers but failed, so she opted to hide them behind her hand.

"Shut up, you two," Oliver said in a wane voice that clearly said he had spent far too much time trying to rein the twins in than doing anything else during Quidditch practices. "This is the best team Gryffindor's had in years. We're going to win. I know it."

The way he was glaring at them was enough to threaten bodily harm if they lost which Hope was almost certain he might do if such an occurrence came into play.

"Right," Oliver said, practically vibrating with excitement (about as much as her heart was throbbing in her chest). "It's time. Good luck, all of you." He gave Hope a rather significant look that did not help Hope as she dropped her cane to the ground and looped her broom over her shoulders, and expelling a long breath, a bit more of the blonde colour coming back to her hair so that it didn't look nearly as much like it was off-white.

And then she took a step out into the bright sunlight after Fred and George. At first, all she could hear was the sound of cheering that echoed around the pitch from all sides, but when Hope squinted her eyes, the world around her cleared and she could make everything out as her eyes adjusted to the brightness.

The fourteen players circled around Madam Hooch and Hope found herself opposite the Slytherin Seeker, Terence Higgs. Oliver had said that the Seeker was a pretty decent player –as opposed to the rest of his teammates–, typically playing by the rules more often than not, but he was also very good.

Both Seekers narrowed their eyes at each other, sizing one another up. Hope imagined she didn't look like much, but obviously smaller packages packed a bigger punch.

"Mount your brooms, please," Madam Hooch called out and the fourteen players did as asked and only after they had done so did she release a short and loud whistle that began the game as all the players kicked off of the ground and the balls were released.

The next few minutes passed in a blur to her, but this mostly had to do with the fact that Hope was feverishly searching for a golden ball the size of a walnut, the Golden Snitch.

Even so, she had to say that she liked the Potter for President sheet that was fluttering in the wind; she was going to have to thank Dean later for that; it was really a well-painted image of a lion, and Hermione's spell –it must have been– made it even better. The best part, she had to admit, though, was Lee's commentary. He never failed to make her laugh, much like his friends.

"Looks like Hope Potter doesn't have much to do but duck those nasty Bludgers! You lads be jealous –she winked at me this morning!" Laughter bubbled from her lips at that. She had almost been expecting this kind of behaviour after how he'd been buttering up to each of the Chasers since the game had begun.

"JORDAN!" Unfortunately, Professor McGonagall didn't seem to appreciate it as much as Hope or many of the other Houses who clearly thought the dark-skinned Gryffindor was hilarious, if the loud laughter was any indicator.

"Sorry, Professor," Lee apologized swiftly, not meaning it in the slightest, "just telling it like it is!"

Hope rolled her eyes in midair, before swiftly dodging a well-placed Bludger, luckily Fred was around to wing it in the opposite direction, aiming the furiously rocketing ball in the direction of Marcus Flint, though Hope wasn't sure if it made contact with the Slytherin.

"Alright there, Hope?" he called over the wind.

Hope opened her mouth to say something in reply when a Quaffle hit her hard in her chest. It wasn't hard enough to break bones or knock her out of the air, but enough that she noticeably had the wind knocked out of her and had to cling to the shaft of her broom in order to stay on.

"A cruel barrage of a Bludger and Quaffle nearly unseats the Gryffindor Seeker, but, wait, was that the Snitch?"

The Quaffle, though it had recently been thrown by Slytherin, was back in Slytherin's possession once more, only to be dropped at Lee's exclamation.

Hope's eyes quickly scanned the surrounding area, catching it in the corner of her eye. A beaming grin spread across her face as she directed her broom downwards, bumping her shoulders into Slytherin Seeker Terence Higgs in an aggressive movement. She probably could've –and would've– done more if the keeper hadn't blocked her, sending her spinning off course, forcing her to lay flat against her broom. After it had stabilized, she noticed –to her annoyance– that the Snitch had disappeared once more.

"Figures," she grumbled under her breath, adding in a few choice swear words that would've had Petunia washing out her mouth with lye, and would've earning her a glare from Hermione and a laugh from Ron.

"So-after that obvious and disgusting bit of cheating—"


"I mean after that open and revolting foul—"

"Jordan, I'm warning you—"

"Alright, alright," Lee conceded. "Flint nearly kills the Gryffindor Seeker, which could happen to anyone I'm sure –but don't be too surprised if he gets subjected to a public prank– so a penalty to Gryffindor, taken by Spinnet, who puts it away, no trouble, and we continue to play. Gryffindor still in possession—"

The next Bludger grazed the side of her head, burning over her hair and telling her just how close it came to hitting her by doing so. Once it had passed, though, she pointed the broom to the west, intending to start up her search for the Snitch there, when her broom gave a frightening lurch, moving against her will.

Her heart rate increased with terror –she was a hundred feet or so above the ground!– and her fingers went numb from how tightly she was holding onto the broomstick now. Every time she tried to turn it in any direction, it bucked more dangerously than the last, then it started to roll, jerking to the side in a last ditch effort that finally unseated her –causing her to release a short cry of alarm–, leaving her dangling from it with only her two hands.

The terror was truly gripping her now like an ice-cold fist around her heart as Fred and George flew close, trying to pull her onto their brooms, but the broom shot upwards every time they tried. The broom swung her to and fro when she tried to loop her leg over the side, forcing her back to where she was dangling precariously in midair.

Her fingers were slipping and had no way to get herself back onto the broom. What was she going to do?

Hope pried her eyes open to see Higgs racing after the Snitch that was steadily making its way towards her. What luck, just what she needed to make this day perfect.

"George?" Her voice was still shaking.

"Still here," the red-head said helpfully from where he was hovering, not completely below her, Fred having disappeared soon after to ward off some Bludgers from the Chasers, leaving Hope to his twin.

"I'm going to do something incredibly stupid," she said, her voice wavering in her fear, "will you catch me?"

Green eyes locked with blue. In that instant, he said one word that made Hope want to kiss him right in front of the whole school, something she would later deny fervently.

"Always." Her breath caught and her heart stuttered briefly and she swallowed hard.

Hope gritted her teeth, swinging precariously on her broom, gaining enough momentum to drop down from her broom to his and into his arms, missing Higgs as he flew past by inches. The raucous cheer that enveloped the stadium told her that she had succeeded. And then she choked.

"Hope?" George looked faintly alarmed as she hacked into her hand, until the alarm turned to shock once the tiny golden ball fell into her hand.

"A remarkable catch by Beater Weasley, and a remarkable catch of the Snitch by Seeker Potter! Gryffindor wins!"

"You are unbelievable," George informed her as he directed his broom down until she could jump lightly off it. "People'll be talking about that catch for years—"

He blinked in surprise when she leaned forward and upwards, standing on the tips of her toes to kiss his cheek suddenly, her cheeks pink.

"Yours was far more impressive," she informed him with a light laugh, before the crowd of gold and red swarmed around her, the cheering deafening her as Hermione and Ron pulled her into a very welcome hug. Despite their happiness, Hope could see that Ron's face was a bit pale –his freckles were standing out in contrast with the pallor– and Hermione had nail marks indented in her cheeks from clutching them in fear.

"Don't ever do that again!" Hermione told her feverishly, only serving to make Hope laugh.

She could see Professor Flitwick and Professor McGonagall in the distance, pulling her broom down from where it was still hovering a good hundred feet above the ground, but she didn't think too much of it as she was whisked away for a cup of tea with Hagrid as a congratulations for beating Slytherin.

Ron had to admit there was an obvious difference between the morning and now, since she had gone from pale and scared to bright-cheeked and beaming (her hair returned to its usual dark red) as she retold the tale to Hagrid from her point of view.

"Though," she added after she had finished her tale, "I wonder why my broom was acting like that...the only time I've had it out has been at practice and after that it was locked in my trunk..."

"That was Snape's fault," Ron explained to her befuddled look, gesturing to himself and Hermione, "we saw him. He was cursing your broom!"

"Rubbish," Hagrid refuted as Hope frowned thoughtfully, her eyes growing distant, "Why would he?"

"Dunno," Hope said slowly, glancing over at her friends, "but he did try to get past that three-headed dog on Halloween, so you have to wonder if he's plausibly sane—"

This subject had been discussed between the three at length when Ron had told the girls that he had seen the Potions Professor heading up to the third floor on Halloween and when Hope had told the other two about the wound he had sustained to his leg for his efforts that night. Needless to say, it didn't put the professor in a good light.

Hagrid made a racket dropping the teapot, smashing the ceramic and tea into the carpet as Hermione smiled and Ron sniggered at Hope's choice of words. "How do you know about Fluffy?"

"Fluffy?!" Three voices chorused with varying degrees of disbelief (Ron), shock (Hermione), and incredulity (Hope).

"Yeah, he's mine, from a Greek chappie," Hagrid said in a nonchalant manner. "I lent him to Dumbledore to guard the—"

"Oh?" Hope asked, arching her eyebrows, her voice filled with curiosity.

"That's top secret!" he growled at their eager faces.

"And if Snape steals it?" Hope prompted, her face placid as he glared.

"Rubbish! Snape's a Hogwarts teacher!"

"Then why was he spelling Hope's broom to toss her off; she could have died falling from that height!" Hermione cried.

"Whatever yer thinkin', it ain't that," Hagrid refuted with a scowl, "Snape wouldn't do anythin' teh Hope's broom, that was somethin' else. Forget about it, meddlin' in this stuff's dangerous. Forget about that dog and what it's guardin'! That's strictly between Professor Dumbledore an' Nicolas Flamel—"

"Nicolas Flamel?"

The trio beat a rather hasty retreat after Hagrid revealed that little piece of information, because it was hard to tell if he was angrier at them or himself.

"Who's Nicholas Flamel?" Ron asked when they were nearly back to the castle.

"I'm sure I've read it somewhere," Hope said, screwing up her face with thought, "I just can't remember where…"

"I've never heard of him," Hermione admitted, vaguely surprised that Hope knew something that she didn't.

Two pairs of eyes looked upon her in surprise. "Really?"

She gave them both a rather direct look that told them she wasn't amused by them in the slightest. "Well, I don't know everything," she sniffed.

"Just most things?" Ron asked innocently and Hermione glared while Hope burst into sniggers.

"Oh, shut up," she told him. "We should head up to the library and start researching."

Ron couldn't hide his groan. "The library?" he bemoaned, his words almost coming out as a whine. "Can't it wait? Gryffindor just won against the Slytherins for the first time in years! Can't we just take a day and celebrate?"

Hermione and Hope shared a look of amusement at how put-out their friend was at the idea of spending a prolonged amount of time in the library. It was safe to say that he didn't like it nearly as much as his friends did.

"I suppose it wouldn't hurt to wait a day," Hope decided with a faux-mournful sigh. "And I was so looking forward to picking up a new book on Ancient Magicks!"

"Blooming mental," Ron muttered under his breath as they moved off in the direction of the castle.

"Oh! I almost forgot!" Hermione pulled out the two rings that Hope had entrusted to her before the match and Hope blinked and looked down at her empty hands.

She had forgotten that she'd given Hermione her rings for safe keeping.

"Oh, right," Hope said as they walked through the stone courtyard, accepting her rings. "The things that slip your mind, huh?" She returned the black opal ring to her thumb and Hermione and Ron could've sworn that the snake ring tightened around her ring finger like the coils of a snake (which made a lot of sense, given what the ring was shaped like).

"So…did you really light Snape on fire?" Hope asked with mirth, causing Ron to laugh and Hermione to pale as she glanced around.

"Shh!" she insisted. "Don't say that so loud! I could be expelled!"

"And that's the worst that could happen," Ron snorted, "you know, after dying."

Hermione's cheeks flushed with heat as she glared at Ron. She'd said something similar the night Hope, Ron, Neville, and Hermione had gotten dragged into a midnight duel by Malfoy. "Oh, shut up!"

Hope sniggered as she watched her two friends argue back and forth; she would by lying if she said that it wasn't amusing.

But then she caught a pale green eye before it vanished into shadow and she paused searching for it.

"Hope, what's wrong?" Hermione asked.

"I thought I saw," Hope started to say, before saying, "never mind, it was probably nothing."

And she caught up with her friends, heading towards the Gryffindor common room, where, undoubtedly, a loud party was taking place.

Albus Dumbledore wasn't quite sure what to think of the only daughter of Lily and James Potter, and subsequently, the Heir to the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter. She was quite…enigmatic.

She was exceptionally minded, much like Lily in that aspect, and appearance-wise as well; the likeness was so uncanny, he could have sworn Lily Evans had survived that night in 1981 and de-aged herself. She excelled in Charms and Transfiguration, a perfect blend of her parents, though she lacked a bit in Potion. Despite that, she had a way to subtly insult people that usually ended with her serving several detentions a week with Severus for the witty tongue she had inherited from her mother.

He watched her interact with the Weasley Twins and their younger brother, Ronald, as well as the young brunette, Hermione Granger. He'd seen how the smile melted through her facade, how her eyes would light up and shift very much like young Nymphadora Tonks' would. George in particular paid close attention to her. It was much like watching James and Lily all over again, except that Hope did not despise George like Lily had James. Times like those brought a smile to his aged and worn face.

But Albus Dumbledore was also one for over-thinking situations and people, and even underestimating them, with Gellert Grindelwald and Lord Voldemort being the most prime examples. He had many regrets about how he handled those two situations.

And because of this thinking, Dumbledore could also view her as something akin to dangerous, for she reminded him of another student he had once had, though he had been in Slytherin, he had been as driven and as intelligently minded as she was, and that was worrisome.

When she had sat on the stool to be sorted, Dumbledore had been expecting her to be sorted immediately into Gryffindor as her parents had been and had been quite surprised when it had taken the Sorting Hat so long to decide where to put her. This made him think that she was wavering between two Houses, Gryffindor and Slytherin.

It made him wonder for a moment if she actually belonged in Gryffindor House, but only time would tell and soon he would see if she would be the girl he had hoped she would be when she arrived at Hogwarts.

Chapter Text

"There's something very wrong with Binns," Hope decided one day, scrutinizing the many ghosts that haunted Hogwarts.

It was the nicest day they'd had in weeks, since the Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Slytherin, despite it being already half-way through December, which was why a great deal of the Hogwarts occupants were curiously absent. Including the three Hope had dubbed the Laughing Gas (which was in reference to the Weasley Twins and Lee Jordan; they approved), who were off playing a less competitive form of Quidditch. Hope was envious, but she had refused apologetically when they had asked her to join them, opting to remain in the Great Hall and wait patiently for Hermione and Ron to finish their homework.

She was actually a bit astounded that Hermione of all people had fallen behind in school work, because even Hope, who had Quidditch practice three times a week, was ahead in her studies.

Currently, she was flipping through her muggle playing cards –the first thing she'd ever bought, if how worn and frayed they were was an indicator–, playing her fourth game of Patience. She wasn't very good at it, but her only opponent was herself and when she was younger, that had a lot of appeal. She flipped over the card on top of her "excess" deck; Three of Hearts. She moved it to the pile that ended with a Four of Spades. She had said those six words out of sheer boredom, but they were completely true.

"Yeah?" Ron grunted. His fingers were spattered with ink, smudging his essay a little. It was supposed to be on the uses of the levitation charm, but he was quickly running out of reasons (and Professor Flitwick had pulled him aside to say that he couldn't use knocking out a troll as one of them).

"All his lectures are portraying goblins as vicious creatures," Hope said in a voice that made it seem like Ron was agreeing with her, "which seems a bit biased, since I've never met a particularly vicious goblin?"

"Have you met a lot of goblins?" Hermione asked, glancing up from her Herbology paper to glance over at her friend. That thought made her lips twitch at the corners. Having friends was still a new concept for her, but she liked it, and it was never boring when you were best mates with Hope Potter and Ron Weasley.

"Well, no," Hope admitted, realizing her whole argument was a bit flimsy, with rather large gaping holes in it, "but Ragnok and Griphook weren't like that when I met them. Granted, they weren't technically pleasant, but-"

Ron was staring at her like he had never done before (though, Hermione was sure she'd seen that same slack jawed expression on George's face one time or another). "You're on speaking terms with goblins?"

Hope shrugged her shoulders, placing a King of Diamonds onto the empty space between two piles. "It wouldn't do to annoy the ones in charge of my vaults." Her lips twitched. "I think they were the first ones who ever gave me a choice in anything." Her relatives, and she used that term loosely, has never given her any options, and even Hagrid, whom she liked well enough had carted her off without taking her opinion into account.

Hermione's eyes grew sad at that; she couldn't imagine not having a choice with anything. Even Ron looked a bit disconcerted.

Hope's attention had shifted from her friends to land on the ghost of Ravenclaw House, the Grey Lady. Her dark hair –it must have been– fell past her translucent waist, and she was clothed in a medieval sort of garb. Hope supposed she was beautiful, but she could hardly look at her straight since she kept turning invisible whenever she looked in the ghost's direction. Hope got the feeling the spirit wasn't really looking at her though. She frowned, hardly noticing when her hair coloured black, set in bouncy curls.

Hope hissing slightly in pain as she banged her leg suddenly against the table. "Ah…"

Hermione and Ron had grown used to the brave face she put on when in pain. She never tried to draw attention to it, and that was what impressed Hermione the most about her, so Hermione followed her lead and didn't mention it.

She messed the cards with her hand, the distinct frown lining her face from what thought, Hermione couldn't be sure. It was times like these that Hermione had actually see why she liked George so much; he was the brightness that banished the shadows that lay behind her eyes.

She brightened quickly, and this time it was half-genuine. "Hey, we should go exploring after this!"

Hermione was a bit stunned by how quickly she'd changed, it was as if someone had flipped a switch inside her head, but Ron, who'd known her the longest, wasn't quite so surprised.

"Exploring?" he repeated, glancing down. "Won't that irritate your leg?"

The soft-eyed smile she gave him in return startled him, but only slightly. One of the great things about Ron was that he didn't walk on eggshells around her concerning her leg. Most people were careful about what they said, but he was a bit blunt. Fred and George took her mind off it, yes, but Ron accepted it. My best mate has a serious injury, but it's healing, seemed to be his mindset.

"I'll be fine," Hope scoffed, waving her hand in a careless manner, "a little exercise could do me good."

"Ah, Miss Potter!"

Hope blinked as the short-statured Charms professor came up to their area of his bench, holding Hope's Nimbus Two-Thousand in his wrinkled hands.

"Professor?" she asked, her voice coloured with confusion; she hadn't seen the broom since the Quidditch game when it had undergone several extensive tests to see if there weren't any more charms on it.

"We've checked it over a dozen times," he assured her as he handed it back to her, "but the most we could find was an Expulsion Charm, and it has been removed."

Hope couldn't come up with a response to that. She had been a bit apprehensive concerning her most recent possession.

"It's not going to throw me off again, is it?" she inquired slowly, scrutinizing the broom in such a way that the Ravenclaw Head was distantly reminded of her mother so many years ago, staring intently at a teacup that she was attempting to make tap dance.

"I am certain, Miss Potter," he assured her, smiling slightly as the lines on her face disappeared and she relaxed. Or had they? As Professor Flitwick walked away, he glanced back and saw the lines had returned. The worry on her face was almost palpable, but he had a feeling that come a few days she wouldn't have to worry much at all.

Contrary to Hope's belief, the Laughing Gas –as she had so aptly named them– was not playing an epic game of pick-up Quidditch (how could they play when the best Seeker was stuck inside?). It was the last Hogsmeade visit before Christmas break, so everyone –including the aforementioned students– was out finishing their Christmas shopping.

Coming up with a gift for Hope was turning out to be more of a trial than George had originally thought. Of course, he, Fred, and their friends had clubbed together to get her some reasonably mild Zonkos products, but he wanted to get something else...something that meant a bit more.

The only problem was, he didn't know what to get her. She liked to cook (or, at least, she was good enough at it), he knew that, but Hermione was getting her something that involved that. She was smart, so he could get her a nice book, but that would be more like something he would get Percy (gag). They were passing by Tomes and Scrolls when he caught sight of it. T&S always set out free books that didn't sell well outside on the last Hogsmeade visit before Christmas, and they didn't disappoint.

The book in particular that had caught his interest was the Tales of Beedle the Bard. It was a collection of children's stories that their mum always used to tell them when they were little, but Hope had grown up Muggle, and she certainly hadn't heard any children stories. He lifted it from the pile. It was still good as new, he noticed. He thumbed through the pages, noting that the art was a bit better than the one his mum had, so he pocketed it.

If Fred noticed, he didn't mention it, because, either way, George still had to come up with a really nice Christmas gift.

"Oi, Angie!" Fred called over to Angelina where she was talking to Alicia, having just exited the local jewellery store, holding a small bag. He tried not to notice that his heart began to race when she lifted her head and smiled brilliantly.


"Got some advice for George?" Fred queried, his lips still upturned, gesturing with his shoulder towards the boy who was doing a mental analysis of his friend-whom-he-liked-a-great-deal and what she could possibly want as a gift.

Angelina grinned, an oddly feral grin not unlike Hope's, now that he thought about it. "Oh, I've got the best thing…"

Taking both twins by the arm, she dragged them inside the nearest shop, directing George's attention to the object in the corner.

It was perfect.

Hermione found herself pulling apart the curtains that hid Hope's bed from view the very next day, paling at once at the sight within. Hope, who had been complaining only of mild tingling in her leg the day previously, now looked worse for wear. Her skin was nearly a sickly sheen of grey and shimmered from sweat and her forehead was scrunched up in pain.

"Hope? Hope!"

She shook the girl hopelessly, before all but fleeing to find Madam Pomfrey.

Unfortunately, Hope was awake and grumbling by the time the Matron arrived, being in a very bad mood.

"Argh...I hate stomach flu!"

Hope certainly didn't look as though she was enjoying her time being sick, but then, no one ever seemed to. Perhaps she wouldn't have felt quite so bad if her leg hadn't been acting up as well, but her friends thought it best not to comment; who knew how she would react?

Hope's arms were currently tightly wrapped around her middle, as if that would assuage the pain, but no such luck. Her face was pinched and pale, but not nearly as pale as the day before. And she looked less miserable, so that was something.

"Moving will only make it worse," the Matron warned from her office, "I'm afraid you will just have to wait for it to pass."

Hope muffled her frustration in her pillow. "And how long is that supposed to take?"

"It should be only a few minutes," Madam Pomfrey assured her, "but the effects might last for hours; you may feel a bit drained."

"Fantastic," she grumbled.

Hermione was still noticeably concerned for her friend, hovering close to her side. "Are you sure it's just flu?"

Madam Pomfrey's smile was a bit sad as she watched Hope stubbornly turn her head away, a frown set firmly on her face.

"It's not just the flu," she admitted, gazing intently at her patient who was doing a spot-on impression of James Potter that it was almost scary, almost, but not quite. "It's her leg as well."

Hermione looked closer and saw that the scar horizontally across her leg was angry and puckered, looking very infected.

"She's overstrained the muscles somehow," Madam Pomfrey explained.

"I am right here, you know," Hope said sourly, crossing her arms, looking extremely petulant.

"Hush!" The Matron admonished the girl as if she was an impertinent child interrupting an important conversation.

Hope's scowl deepened, but the healer wasn't perturbed. Hermione guessed that she had gotten so used to her attitude from having Hope as a patient for so long.

"The muscles need time to recover, so you'll have to be off your feet for awhile." This time, her words were directed towards the red-head who was still sulking. "This time, try to actually follow my instructions." The despairing voice she used was enough to earn a quirk of the lips from Hope, but nothing else.

"Keep an eye on her," Madam Pomfrey warned the brunette as she left, "you know how she is about following rules."

"Sadly," Hermione agreed with a sigh.

By some miracle, Hope had managed to get through a shower and pull on her clothes and hop down the stairs to the common room without using her leg, though, with her luck, she was beginning to suspect that she would over-strain the muscles in her good leg. And that would not do.

"I can't stand sitting still," she said in an aggrieved tone. "This sucks!"

The other Gryffindors who happened to be in the common room as she said this smirked and snickered.

"Maybe if you hadn't insisted that we go exploring, we wouldn't be in this mess," Hermione admonished from where she and Ron stood beside the armchair.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Hope grumbled, hardly under her breath.

"You're impossible," Ron said, almost in awe.

"I do try," she drawled in response, waving them off. They were going to the library to try to look up some information on Nicolas Flamel. "Have fun."

Ron rolled his eyes at her sarcasm. "See you in a few."

They shared a smile at her huff of annoyance, leaving her to her devices.

Hope pulled an aged book from her bag, which had been conveniently left where it was the previous night. The Origins of Blood Magick, that was what it was called. It was a pity that Britons were so narrow minded when it came to truly extraordinary branches of magic. They quickly outlawed any magic that they couldn't and wouldn't understand, and Blood Magick was one such thing.

Sometimes Hope didn't understand wizards at all.

Blood Magick is one of the two most ancient forms of magic known to wizard-kind. It came into favour in the early Dark Ages and has been used in several well-known branches of magic, such as: Wicca, Alchemy, Astrology, Necromancy, Sigil Magick, and Hoodoo. Blood Magick is the magic that resides in one's blood, impregnated with the blood on a cellular level. The most common way to activate the magic within the blood is through what is commonly known as Blood Warding which was highly popular amongst the Pharaohs of Egypt. The frequent use of it deterred grave robbers so much that legends spread that the tombs were cursed—

"All by your lonesome?"

Hope lifted her head to gaze at the Weasley Twins.

"Peace and quiet is very nice once in awhile," she said with a slight smile, splaying her hand over the page so the curious third-years wouldn't know that she was reading about a subject that had been banned from the country. She highly doubted that they would recognize its contents but there was still an off chance that they could. "Not that you would know," she added dryly.

"Silence is so boring, though!" Fred complained.

"Noise is a much better alternative," George agreed in the same light sort of voice.

She smiled.

"You two."

Ron and Hermione –who had only just left the library after a fruitless search– turned back suddenly, remarkably tense, to face the owner of the commanding voice. It was a young boy, maybe fifteen with tousled black hair falling into his pale eyes. He wore a black robe but no house symbol or a distinguishing tie to allude to his house.

He was holding out a rather thick tome towards them. "Give this to Elpis, would you?"

"Elpis?" Ron asked blankly in incomprehension. "We don't know an Elpis."

But Hermione frowned, understanding the allusion. "Isn't Elpis the name of the Goddess of Hope in Greek myths?"

The boy's smile twisted until it was condescending. "Aren't you a clever girl?" he mocked, smirking as her cheeks coloured. "I suppose Muggle-borns have gotten smarter since my day."

That was both a compliment and an insult. Hermione struggled to settle her face into a stoic mask like Hope did, but she was sure her eyes had flashed in irritation as he had dropped the weighty tome into her hands. She read the title curiously. "Ancient Magical Languages?"

"Elpis has a distinct fondness for ancient history. She is rather fascinated with Egypt and Greece, I gather, from her frequent trips to this library," he gestured to the one they had just exited after coming up with nothing on Nicholas Flamel.

Ron stared at him oddly, his eyes narrowed in suspicion at how he knew so much about his friend. "How do you know that?"

"That is hardly a matter to concern yourself with," he said with scorn, bearing a superior smile as he gazed down on them. "Tell Elpis it is a gift."

In the time it took them to blink, he had vanished, and they were befuddled, but they hurried back to the common room all the same, finding themselves unsurprised that Hope was being entertained by Ron's elder brothers.

She looked better than when they'd left, for now the pallor that had adorned her face had faded, leaving her with the light rosy hue that she had always had. She did look a bit tired, but that was normal, as Madam Pomfrey had said.

"How on earth did you manage to set off those Dungbombs while being surrounded by witnesses?" Hope was saying, tossing her friends a smile and a nod as they approached. "I didn't know there was such a thing as a spell that could delay the explosion time!"

They bore self-satisfied smirks.

"Ask us no questions—"

"And we'll tell you no lies."

She snorted, glancing over Ron and Hermione. "Find anything useful?" she queried, frowning at the thick tome in their hands.

"Not re-"

Hope was goggling at the title. "Where the ruddy hell did you find that?!"

She practically ripped the weighty book from Hermione's arms, gazing at it in awe.

"A boy said you'd like it, he said it was a gift for Elpis, you know, the Godde-" Hermione started to say.

"The Goddess of Hope, yes, I know." Hope nearly sighed. She knew all too well the tale of Elpis (or Spes, if you wanted to go with the Roman name)

Hope's eyes scrutinized the worn cover. "This has been touched by a spectre," she mused aloud, but more to herself.

Spectres had been something else she had been reading up on and you could always see when one had touched something because it left a pale shadow on the item.

"A ghost?" Fred asked in confusion, sharing a glance with his twin who was equally confused.

"Not quite." Hope was squinting at the surface of the book, holding it up to her face so she could look across it. "Spectres can maintain a solid form for a short amount of time, but they rarely stick around for centuries after their death like ghosts do; Spectres aren't afraid of death." She bit her lip looking thoughtful. "I wonder who it was…?"

She was speaking more to herself as she inspected the locked keyhole ("why would there be a keyhole on a book?" "If you don't know how am I supposed to?"). Hermione and Ron were surprised to note that it opened without an ounce of resistance, but they didn't see the small prick of blood collecting on Hope's thumb. Hope opened it slowly, flipping gingerly through the pages in complete awe.

There were so many symbols, so many runes…it must be Christmas.

"I think you killed her," George mentioned dryly as he waved a hand to and fro in front of her face, but she never let on that she could see it.

"This is…perfect," she said disjointedly in complete shock.

Three of the four watching her allowed themselves to be faintly amused by the jealous frown that had settled onto George's face.

Hope tried to smother her giggles the next day as she watched Fred and George carefully enchant a series of snowballs while standing behind a tree so that they would bounce against Professor Quirrel's turban as he walked past. Christmas break would start tomorrow and the Christmas spirit was heavy in the air. A large portion of the school was feverishly packing up their things for the break, but obviously the ones that weren't were staying behind.

Hope wasn't too choked up (in fact she wasn't choked up at all), not even after Malfoy's jibe about her not being wanted at home. Sadly, it was true, and if there was any chance that she could actually have fun on a holiday, she would take it.


George sounded out of breath as he sat down on the stone bench beside her, barely glancing at her broom which lay forgotten beside her. He grinned; she had probably come down to fly but had gotten distracted by their enchanted snowballs.

"Hey." Her lips twisted into a smile, bringing attention to her light blue eyes and now strawberry-blonde hair. "Having fun?"

"Always," he chortled.

It lifted his spirits when she laughed with him. Her heavily gloved hand dropped to squeeze his.


Her eyes pooled with anxiety, surprising George. She liked to fly quite a bit, though, now that he thought about it, she should be nervous about being on the broomstick that tried to send her off it if not for George's interference.

"Do you think I'm being stupid?" she asked him suddenly, her eyes imploring. "Being scared of a big, bad broomstick." Hope gave a shaky laugh.

"Not at all," George refuted. "I'd probably be scared if it had been me."

"Really?" She sounded surprised, but then Fred and George had never seemed like the sort of people that would or could be scared of something as trivial (possibly) as being tossed from a broom.

"Really," he said, sounding oddly serious. "I'll go up with you, if you want."

She seemed to be caught between two decisions, biting the inside of her cheek as she did so. Finally, she sighed and nodded as George pulled her into a standing position, settling himself over her broom and gesturing for her to do the same. Unlike him, her movements were not eager, more like they were resigned, but she replicated his moves and linked her arms around his stomach; George could feel how tense she was.

"But, if you kill me," she said in a surprisingly calm voice, "know that I will haunt you until the day you die."

George laughed, disregarding the comment, since he was rather used to the death threats she typically threw his way. They were generally coupled with a smile. "Duly noted."

Slowly, very slowly, he pushed off from the ground, pointing the broom upwards in a gentle manner, but he could feel Hope's arms digging painfully into his sides, even so.

"It's alright," he hummed in a contented voice that he usually adopted when speaking with Ginny after she woke up from a nightmare. "Look down."

Hope did as he requested and laughed aloud; they were barely a foot above the ground. He spun the shaft in a lazy figure eight. "Want to go higher?"


Trust was something she had always had an extraordinary amount of difficulty with, but here with George, with him being the only thing that kept her from falling downwards, she didn't find it so hard. She smiled into his back as the nervousness and the anxiety melted from her body, fading into the snow and frost that caked the castle like the icing on a gingerbread house.

"George?" she whispered.


"Don't let me fall."

He chuckled ahead of her, one hand squeezing hers where they were still locked around him. "Never."

Chapter Text

The cold had long since numbed Hope's toes where they were bared to the harsh winter wind as she gazed upwards at the stars. They were brighter tonight than they had been previously, or, at least that was how they seemed. She was a little chilled (really, what had she been thinking going up onto the Astronomy Tower in nothing but her bed clothes and bathrobe?), but that was to be expected. She doubted she'd been up there very long, but when one's feet begin to feel like icicles, the time would seem much longer. Finally, she sighed and shifted her gaze from the Pleiades, stumbling back inside, where it was only slightly warmer.

Hope kept to the shadows, wary of any prefect or professor out on patrol, when something startled her.

"You must be cold."

Hope tried very hard not to jump at the soft voice, far more startled that the Grey Lady had appeared before after looking so pained. Hope glanced down at her bare pale feet, almost having forget they were there since she had lost feeling in them (she was sure that wasn't a good thing).

"It's not so bad," she assured her, though it was a lie (but not an obvious one), her eyes still confused. "I thought you hated me."

The Ravenclaw ghost's smile lacked feeling. "My apologies. You simply reminded me a bit of myself."

Hope's mouth dropped open; whatever the reason could have been, that wasn't one she would have anticipated.

"I...I did?" She asked bleakly. Sometimes that was good, but sometimes that was bad; Hope was sure that this was the bad.

"Intelligent and seeking a way to prove oneself," the Grey Lady said with a voice filled with scorn, making Hope automatically flinch. "I have been watching you most closely, Hope Potter."

"You're being rather rude," Hope said equally coldly, her eyes turning a frigid grey. "You're more than Ravenclaw's ghost…you're Rowena's blood, aren't you?"

Now it was time for the ghost to flinch, but that only gave Hope a small amount of pleasure. She liked to put people down when they insulted her, but someone like the Grey Lady seemed more sad and angry than anything else. It would be cruel to insult a dead woman.

"Only Rowena didn't have any siblings, just a daughter, a daughter who vanished from all record." Hope wasn't trying to be mean, only direct. She'd looked up the Four Founders histories inHogwarts, A History and the most interesting, she had to admit, were the lives of Salazar Slytherin and Rowena Ravenclaw. "With all due respect, I'm not like you. I'm not as smart as you and I'm not as vain." Vain was just a guess, but Helena Ravenclaw did seem to be a bit in her opinion.

The Grey Lady seemed caught between the compliment and the insult, but then she smiled, but it was rueful, filled with so many different emotions that Hope quickly lost track. "You remind me of your grandfather; he often spoke of blunt truths when he was riled up."

"My grandfather?" Hope asked in confusion, her irritation dropping from her face. "What do you mean?"

"Aisle Four, First Row, A History of the Founders," she said as an answer, "I'm sure you'll find it most...enlightening." And without a single utterance, Helena Ravenclaw faded into a wisp of wind, breezing past her and towards the Ravenclaw common room.

Hope frowned in thought, but she did as she asked. Getting into the library was no easy feat, mind you, especially with her leg the way it was. She almost ran into Percy Weasley trying to avoid Professor Burbage (she was the professor for Muggle Studies, a class Hope swore she'd never take; it was pointless by how she was raised). With some luck she managed to slip past the library's doors with a barest squeak of hinges, but finding the book was more difficult than she had anticipated, since the binding was rather worn (she passed by it three times without noticing).

When she found it, she was sure she stopped breathing for a few seconds, and she had gone stock still as she gazed at the youthful face of Salazar Slytherin. He was just as Hope remembered the boy from September, the one who had told her which way to go that reach the Astronomy Tower; dark tousled hair, pale eyes, sharp features, and a cocky smile. She was far more surprised that he easily stood beside Godric Gryffindor, someone whom he had apparently hated –if the current rivalries were anything to go by–, smiling secretively, as if they knew something that no one else did.

"Your grandfather may not approve..." that was what the hat had said, and now she understood why. It must be quite scandalous for the descendant of Slytherin to be sorted into Gryffindor. Slytherin had a bad reputation, and she doubted she would earn any favours by being of his blood. Remaining silent of her relation to him would probably be a good idea for now; she wasn't quite sure how any of her friends would respond.

She shut the book with a snap and shoved it back into shelf, but when she glanced at her hands, she saw that she was still shaking.

The early afternoon wind was still quite cold, almost a scorching cold, but the students making for the Hogwarts Express still battled against the fierce wind.

Hope had accompanied some of her friends with her broom locked under her arm as she ignored the jeers of the Slytherins, but she caught Daphne Greengrass giving her a slight nod, and she gave one in return. Their relationship was…odd, to say the least. They weren't really friends, but they weren't really enemies, either. Acquaintances, perhaps? Yes, that was a good term to use.

Hope was pulled from her internal musing when Hermione hugged her tightly around the middle as Lee Jordan pushed her trunk into the train, securing it with his and Alicia and Angelina's, who would be riding back with her (Hermione confided to Hope that she was grateful for the company). "You have a good holiday, Hope, and Merry Christmas!"

Hope grinned, squeezing her affectionately as well. "You too." She was sure she was the only one who came out to say goodbye –no one else had wanted to brave the cold (though she was sure she could have used her puppy-dog eyes on George and he would have bent like wet paper)-, but she didn't mind, even if the wind tangled her hair with snowflakes and pinked her cheeks with cold.

Angelina, Lee, and Alicia each gave her respective hugs, wishing her a Happy Christmas as well as they boarded the train.

Lee, in particular, ducked his torso out of the window and winked conspiratorially. "Don't have too much fun without me, Potter!"

Hope couldn't silence the laughter that bubbled from her lips, leaking through her fingers. "I'll try, but no promises!" She blew him a jaunty kiss that made the girls laugh as they ('they' referring to Angelina and Alicia, since Hermione wasn't that forward) pulled him back into the compartment.

The train was starting to move and she hobbled alongside it, studiously ignoring the flare of pain at her shin and she waved after them, before stopping and just simply raising her hand in farewell. She wasn't sure how long she stood there, but it was only when the train had completely disappeared, the red vanishing in the white, that she mounted her broom and hightailed for Hogwarts. She only touched ground again once she'd reached the Great Hall (yes, she flew inside Hogwarts, don't everyone get surprised at once), loping gracelessly over to the Gryffindor table to sit opposite Ron.

"I'm starving!" she bemoaned, resting her broom beside her. "I can't believe I slept through breakfast!" As she said this, she began to pile steak and kidney pie onto her plate while spooning some split pea soup into a spare bowl.

"I can't imagine what that's like," said Ron who had never missed a meal in his life.

Hope rolled her eyes, slurping the soup in an unlady-like manner. "Just because you eat all your meals doesn't mean everyone does."

He snorted at that. Hope had a bad habit of getting so caught up in her reading that there would be some days where she skipped a meal, like last night. She had been so engrossed in her new book that Angelina had to coerce the twins into taking her to the kitchen to grab the girl some grub. Of course, they had had to add a preservation charm to make sure it was warm when she ate it, since she hadn't noticed it sitting beside her the first hour after its arrival.

"How late were you reading that book anyways?" he asked as she started in on her steak and kidney pie.

"Past midnight, I'm sure," Hope said, well aware of the soft grey shadows beneath her eyes, "I just couldn't put it down. There were Norse figures that I've never read before! It was so fascinating!"

"I'll take your word for it," Ron said dryly. "You really like this stuff?"

"A bit," she admitted with a flushed grin. "I probably wouldn't want to make a career out of it, but at the rate I'm going at, they'll have to name me Official Knowledge-keeper of Magic."

Ron burst out into laughter at the ridiculous title she had apparently come up with on the spot.

Hope stuck out her tongue, but she was grinning all the same, content to not even spare a thought to the lack of Christmas gifts she was sure would not be in her room the next day.

And so Hope awoke the morning of Christmas Day not particularly anticipating any presents, so she went about her business as usual, gathering her clothes and entering the showers, not giving much around her a glance until after she had left the loo. She raked a hand through her dampened hair, noticing that it had grown a little longer in the passing months. She fingered the ends of the strands in speculation; perhaps she would grow it out longer.

She walked past the bed to dump her dirty clothes in the hamper by her bed, only to backtrack once she caught sight of the pile of packages at the edge of her bed.

Her mouth dropped open. She hadn't been expecting anything really, but her face couldn't help but light up with childish wonder.

The first parcel was from Hagrid. It was a roughly whittled flute and Hope couldn't resist playing a few notes, her fingers dancing across the holes, the air escaping it sounded distinctly like an owl, reminding Hope of Hedwig.

The second was a rather lumpy parcel that confused Hope until she opened it and found a box of homemade fudge and a thick jumper made of emerald green. The note said it was from Ron and the Twins' mother, Molly Weasley. Hope couldn't help but wonder if her own mother would have done the same if she had still been alive.

Then Hope scrubbed furiously at her eyes, wiping the remnants of tears from her green eyes, resolutely focusing on what a nice gift it was and pulling it over her head.

The next two gifts were sweets from Ron and Hermione, with Hermione adding to hers a small booklet, a cookbook, with a book filled with recipes that she could cut out and add to the blank cookbook. It was a lovely gift, Hope had to admit as she thumbed through the pages of the recipe book, she'd never had her own cookbook before.

The Laughing Gas (and co.) had gotten her a box filled with more prank items than she could ever hope to use –at least, that's what she thought–, just glancing over, she recognized a few Dungbombs and Chinese Fortune Sticks. She couldn't help but smile as she set it aside and pulled one last package towards her.

The first item in the bag was a small book, proclaiming The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Was it children's stories? She placed it with her other gifts, removing the last one.

Convinced Angie to steal a couple of your pictures, hope you like it and don't mind.


She blinked; glancing to where her camera that she used a bit sparingly laid by her bedside, next to the box that contained all the pictures she'd taken at Hogwarts. So that was why she thought she'd been missing some photos…

She pulled the wrapping to reveal a leather bound scrapbook with 'Year One' embellished at the centre. Her smile brightened as she flipped through the pages; her camera was one of the most used items in Gryffindor House, so she wasn't surprised that there were pictures there that she didn't recall taking. There was a lot of her with Ron and Hermione…and there was a surprising amount of her being manhandled by either of the twins (her arched eyebrow twitched a bit at that), but in almost every one of them she was smiling, much like she was now.

This gift was perfection. It was a hundred times better than the book on magical languages, if she said so herself. Hope traced a thin finger over the images painted across the cover with a soft smile.

Only one parcel remained now.

She removed the slip of parchment from the brown wrappings.

Your father left this is my possession before he died.

It is time it was returned to you.

Use it well.

A Very Merry Christmas to you.

The ring set with the black stone warmed in her hand as she lifted the garment from its packaging. It was silvery-grey, feeling and looking almost like fluid, gleaming in the sunlight that pooled through the window. It was gorgeous. Hope pulled the cloak over her shoulders only to look down at herself, stunned. Where was her body?

A cloak of invisibility…was there such a thing? She marvelled silently at the gift, picking up the slip of parchment as if trying to will the writer's signature to the surface, but it was hopeless. And she was clueless.

"Ron! Ron!"

Ron, who had been unwrapping his own presents was surprised when a flurry of dark red assaulted his face. "Hope?"

Hope's eyes weren't quite as haunted as they had been yesterday; they were bright and filled with life as she shook something at Ron. "Ron, look at this!"

It was a cloak, and once she threw it over her shoulders, Ron's jaw dropped. Her body had completely disappeared!

"No way! If that's what I think it is, they're really rare and really valuable!" Ron said in astonishment, walking in a circle around Hope's disembodied head. "It's an invisibility cloak! How'd you get it?"

"The note said it belonged to my father," Hope explained as she pulled it off and folded it in her arms. "Did you open my present?"

As a matter of fact, he hadn't, but he wasted no time in ripping the wrapping paper form the square-like item.

"Wow! Hope, this is cool!"

It was a brand new chessboard.

Hope smiled. "I saw it when we were in Diagon Alley the first time around. I remembered you saying something about your old chessboard and thought you could use a new one."

He hefted it in his hand. It wasn't very light, but it wasn't very heavy either, so it couldn't have cost as much as he would have thought.


"No problem." She grinned devilishly. "I got the twins a prank book."

"Of course," Ron sniggered at the precise moment Fred and George bounded inside.

"Merry Christmas!" Fred chirped.

"Oh, look!" George noticed with a grin that had Hope blushing. "Hope's got a Weasley jumper, too!"

Fred and George were wearing ones much like the emerald green one she had pulled over her torso…though, if she was correct, they were wearing each other's. Her lips twitched in amusement.

"Hope's is better than ours, though," Fred added, a mock-thoughtful expression on his face as he rested his chin in his hand. "She obviously makes more of an effort if you're not family, or are a girl."

Hope tossed him a filthy glance, speaking with a dry voice, "Gee, Fred, thanks."

He tipped an invisible hat to her, earning (yet another) eye roll. Seriously, he could make a lot of money by betting how many she went through daily.

"Why aren't you wearing yours, Ron?" George was demanding of his youngest brother, diverting all attention to the first-year Weasley, giving Hope the opportunity to hide the cloak under her jumper; she wasn't sure if she wanted to share it with anyone else yet. "Come on, get it on, they're lovely and warm!"

Ron only looked half-annoyed as he pulled his over his head. "I hate maroon," he groaned.

"Ah, no letter," George observed. "I guess she thinks you won't forget your name, but we're not stupid; we know our names are Gred and Forge."

At that point, Hope lost it completely, clutching her stomach as she roared with laughter, so much laughter that she had tears falling from her eyes. George seemed very pleased by that as Fred elbowed him.

"What's all this noise?" a demanding voice came from the doorway. Percy Weasley didn't anticipate all the noise to be coming from Hope Potter who seemed to be at her wits end, hanging off of Ron's arm in an attempt to stay vertical. Before he could say anything further, Fred –it was Fred wasn't it? (he was assuming that the twin closest to Hope was George)– snatched the lumpy jumper from his hands.

Hope seemed to be recovering slowly as Ron thumped her back as if she had been choking on something. Fred took advantage of that distraction.

"P for Prefect!" Fred chortled, seeming strangely hyper. "Get it on, Percy, come on, we're all wearing ours, even Hope got one!"

Hope was indeed wearing a lovely dark green jumper over her shirt.

"I-don't-want—" Percy started to say, looking immensely annoyed as he did so, but it was too late. Grinning identically, Fred and George had pulled the thick sweater over his ginger head, messing up his hair and knocking his glasses to the side slightly.

"And you're not sitting with the prefects today," George added with a crazy grin, "Christmas is a time for family!"

Hope had to stifle another bout of giggles as they marched out of the dormitory with Percy sandwiched between them, his arms locked at his sides by the jumper.

"Is it sad that I'm getting used to their antics?" Hope asked Ron after they had left.

Ron groaned. "Very."

He swore he could hear her smirking, if that was even possible.

The wind whipped around Hope's head as she flew, yelping at the flash of crimson that chased her through the skies.

"Got you!"

She pouted when she saw that Ron's hand was tugging on her boot.

"You're it!"

A loud yell pierced her from the left where she could see two more patches of red; her grin turned oddly feral. She pointed her broom in their direction, shooting past Ron so fast, she was sure that he had yelled out as well. Their game of pick-up Quidditch had quickly devolved –seeing as there were only four of them– since they didn't have any access to the Quidditch balls, and they had ended up playing a game of "Tag" which the Weasley brothers hadn't really understood at first until Hope had explained it several times.

She did a few lazy loops to give them a head start, seeing as she had the fastest broom, before speeding towards the closest one –she couldn't really be sure which twin it was in this snowstorm-, reaching out a hand when the edge of the shaft hit into one of the stone structures in the courtyard. The movement dislodged the girl who let out a small scream as she was tossed into the side of one of the many stone arches.

She lay in a crumpled heap where she had been thrown, more stunned than in pain when three pairs of feet dropped down beside her.


She groaned in response. "Ow."

"I'm starting to wonder if there is something wrong with your broom," Ron added as he helped her up, noticing her wince. "Did you hit your back?"

"Just a little-"

"So a lot?" Fred and George said at the same time.

"Hospital Wing it is."

Hope groaned again, pressing a hand to her chilled face. "And I was having so much fun," she muttered mutinously as Fred linked her arms around his neck and George went off to find her broom.

Her mood went down the toilet as they hauled her up to the medical wing of the school, but Madam Pomfrey wasn't too surprised by her most frequent patient's appearance.

"Back again, Hope?" she sounded almost resigned as Fred deposited her onto one of the beds. "What is it this time?" she asked in a benign voice.

"This time it's not my fault!" Hope said suddenly.

Madam Pomfrey arched an eyebrow and Hope relented in a small voice, making the Weasley boys snigger, "Well…maybe a little."

"And where…"

"My back."

Hope's face settled into a sullen frown as Madam Pomfrey rolled back her shirt so she could see the injury. The skin betrayed no sight of damage, but then it typically took about a half hour for bruises to fester, so Madam Pomfrey wasn't surprised by the lack of evidence. She tapped her wand against the skin, blinking in surprise.

"What did you do? Run into a wall?"

Hope scratched her cheek, chuckling sheepishly. "Err…sort of…"

Madam Pomfrey made an annoyed sound in the back of her throat as she murmured a spell and unrolled her shirt where she had pulled it back.

"It's going to be a little stiff, but try to be more careful next time," she warned as Ron helped pull Hope into a standing position.

"I'm always careful, Poppy," she said with a wide grin, ignoring the eye twitch at her use of the Matron's first name, "you know me, always walking on eggshells."

Madam Pomfrey, it seemed, wasn't the only one that found that idea to be ludicrous, if the assortment of snorts and laughs were anything to go off of.

Hope just huffed in annoyance, her cheeks stained a pink that hadn't come from the cold. She was immeasurably relieved that the colour had faded by the time they had returned to the ground level, heading for the Great Hall.

Astonishment was the first emotion she felt when they sat down, because the sheer amount of food was completely insane. There was so much turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce, buttered peas and much more.

"Are Christmas dinners always like this?" she asked in awe as they settled into the open seats by Percy –who had stuck to his promise and was not sitting with the prefects.

"Typically, yeah, great, aren't they?" Fred said with a grin, holding out a cracker for her to pull apart with him.

Bemused, she gripped the opposite end and pulled, giving a yelp of surprise when it exploded and hid them in a blue cloud. The shocked expression was still on her face when it had cleared, revealing an admiral's hat…and some very alive white mice. Hope stared after the rodents as they scampered away, completely dumbfounded.

Ron had already dug into his food, but Hope was still in a bit of astonishment when something soft brushed against her cheek. She turned and smiled, grabbing the end of George's cracker, but jumping again when the loud noise erupted from it, this time covering them in a cloud of bright red. The gift in the centre was a band new chess set –much like the board that Hope had gotten for Ron. She grinned, setting it with the hat and finally tucking into her food.

Of course, everything was delicious, and even that was an understatement. Somehow, the food was even better than it generally was, but that was probably because it was Christmas. She laughed with them all as she carried her pile a new gifts (which now included a grow-your-own-warts kit and a few packs of non-explodable, luminous balloons) up to the common room.

"Ready for a snowball fight?" George grinned as she returned from the stairs to her dormitory, carrying her thick hat and gloves in one hand, the other using the railing for assistance on the way down.

"Oh, absolutely," she laughed. "Get ready to brained by my awesomeness!"

She ran off before he could respond to that, leaving him blinking in surprise, musing aloud. "How can she be so fast with that limp?"

Chapter Text

The snow was falling heavily and deep around the Granger's house, making it look remarkably like a gingerbread house that had been recently iced. All the houses on the street looked like that, though, so Hermione couldn't really complain as she unwrapped all of her presents giving the appropriate amount of joy for each gift. Hers were mostly book-related, true to her love of the written word. Once she had finished unwrapping all the packages, she pulled out a small pile of photos that Hope had given her to show to her parents.

"This is me, Hope, and Ron," Hermione was telling her parents, showing them a few pictures of her friends at Hogwarts. They were still in a bit of awe that the images could move.

"Hope, Ron, and I," her mother corrected automatically with a kindly smile as she took the pictures from her daughter. Her daughter's friends (oh, how she would never tire of using that word!) were both red-haired, but the girl's was far darker than the boy's. The girl was the one she automatically drew attention to, as she was the female of her daughter's friends. Her smile was tired, but happy all the same, leaning heavily on a cane with one leg set in a brace as her other arm looped over Hermione's shoulders. She had a fragile sort of appearance that many girls desired at her age (and thereafter), one that drew eyes, like the next picture.

"Who's this boy?" she asked, watching in fascination as a slightly older boy bent down to toss the red-haired girl over his shoulder despite her protests and embarrassment. He looked a little like the boy Hermione was friends with.

"Oh, that's probably George, Ron's older brother," Hermione supplied with an amused grin, "he's fascinated by Hope."

A crush, then, it was sweet, Mrs. Granger had to admit, smiling reflexively at Hope's wide smile.

"He's a bit of a troublemaker," Hermione added as an afterthought, "but then so is Hope. She doesn't like authority much."

Her father arched a brown eyebrow, glancing at the pictures his wife handed him. "Wouldn't have figured that you would befriend troublemakers," he said slowly, ignoring the look his wife shot towards him.

Hermione shrugged, a fond smile melting onto her lips. "Hope only causes trouble mostly when we're in Potions class, like with our potion's professor, he hates her. He picks on her every day and she just insults him to his face."

Both parents look startled at that, but Hermione only grinned, one hand still playing lazily over the cover of the book Hope had gotten her, The Magick of Wicca. The note enclosed had said:

I saw this and thought of you, her letter had said. Happy Holidays!

"I got her a cookbook, but only because she said she has trouble keeping recipes straight in her head," Hermione admitted, "what she really likes is discovering things, old and new."

Her father reached over to ruffle her bushy hair that was so like his. "She sounds lovely, they both do."

Hermione just grinned, knowing that they didn't really understand a bit about her life at Hogwarts but supporting her nonetheless.

"Take this!"

Fred yelled as a ball of icy-cold snow hit him in the face, knocking him back to the snow-covered ground.

Hope's laughter echoed on all sides before silencing rather suddenly as she pitched forward slightly by a blow to the back of the head.

"Ronald!" she yelled after the boy that had begun to race away soon after the ball had made contact with her face. The youngest Weasley boy ran as Hope hobbled after him packing snow into a compact ball. Fred was more impressed by how fast she was going with that limp of hers than the size of her orb.


"Oh!" Fred felt a bit sheepish as he went to unearth George from the pile of snow he had been encased under after the weighed-down branch above him had deposited it on him only moments before. "Sorry, Georgie!"

His twin hacked up a glob of white as he regained his breath, blinking around blearily, before his eyes shot wide and he ducked quickly to avoid a snowball that embedded in the tree behind him.

Fred wasn't so lucky, getting a shot to the stomach courtesy of Ron.

"Firsties versus Thirds!" Hope yelled, her thickly gloved hands clutching two impressive snowballs. "We're gonna cream you!"

"Bring it on, Potter!" they said, dodging quickly to avoid the barrage, ducking quickly behind an oak tree, making their white orbs in its safety.

She shrieked at the snowball that jarred her in the back. "You brats!" she yelled, scooping up the snow beside her as she leapt after the madly cackling twins. "I'm gonna get you!"

George yelped as she flung her body onto his back, shoving the ball of ice down the back of his shirt, making his body arch in an effort to make the cold ball not touch his skin. "MERLIN'S BALLS!"

Hope laughed loudly as he fell into the snow, thus adding more snow to his skin.

"Better luck next ti-ah!" Hope rolled off his back, dodging Fred's snowball aimed at her forehead. "Bring it on, you arse-hole!"

"Switching sides already?" he jeered back, only to yelp as she lobbed a new snowball at his big, fat mouth. "I'm gonna get you!"

"You can try!" she yelled back, dancing out of the way as George's snowball flew past her face by a few inches, a few scant inches at that. And then she fell over. Three ginger heads swivelled in her direction, but the funniest part is that none were more surprised than Hope herself. The stunned expression was priceless as she stared down at her now immobile leg.

She swore. Loudly.

The boys laughed. Louder.

"Unfair!" she complained as she struggled into an upright sitting position, bending the leg at the knee in an attempt to force the tense muscle to relax. "I've got-oh!"

She tried hard not to blush as she was swept up into George's arms, but she had lost that battle a long time ago.

"Hand it over, George!"

The twins were grinning ear to ear as they tossed Percy's prefect badge back and forth causing a general ruckus in the Gryffindor Tower with their older brother. Hope smiled through sleepy eyes, stuffed with the Christmas dinner they had just had. Ron had bypassed her completely, dozing in the armchair closest to the fire. Sometimes she wished she could fall asleep as easily as him, but that was far from her reach.


George lobbed the badge to his twin, ducking under Percy's arms, dancing out of reach. Hope chuckled softly, rubbing the sleep from her eyes as she did so in an effort to focus a bit more on the impromptu game. Fred and George were nothing if not persistent, at least that could be said of them.

She leaned back suddenly so it wouldn't bash her across the head as it passed, turning a baleful stare towards Fred, her face no longer amused.


She rolled her eyes as Percy took that brief lack of attention to steal his badge back from his brothers.

"That's enough!" he snapped, their antics grating on his last nerve.

"Boys," Hope said in a tired voice, "play nice." She turned her big green eyes on George. "Please? For me?"

"Sure!" George said with a wide grin, the tips of his ears a little pink, making his twin snort. "Yeah, we'll just head up to bed now—"

Fred winked at her as they ascended the stairs after their younger brother who quickly –and sleepily– bid his friend goodnight. Percy made to follow them when Hope stalled him with her words.

"Spare a moment, would you, Percy?"

Percy Weasley glanced over her, taking in her sleep-lined features, despite her lively green eyes which glowed strangely in firelight. She looked very exhausted, as if she hadn't slept well in a long time.

"I have an academic question," she added at his confusion (and concern). "I wanted to do an extra credit paper on Nicolas Flamel for Professor Binns, but I'm not quite sure what kind of book would have something about him."

"Nicolas Flamel?" Percy repeated. "The famous alchemist?"

Hope snapped her fingers, a grin touching her lips. "That's the one! So, do you know what kind of…?"

"Well, the man is over six-hundred years old," Percy admitted, "maybe the books you're looking in are too modern?"

Her surprise melted quickly. "Thanks, Percy!"

Percy smiled gently as she dug through her bag for her books. "No problem, just try not to stay up too late, alright, Hope?"

"You got it," she responded, her finger tracing down the page as she skimmed for the name. Percy got the feeling that she wasn't really listening to a word he said, but there was no use in responding, she probably wouldn't hear it either way. So, he muttered a hasty goodnight and ascended to his empty dormitory, leaving her in silence.

He was over six-hundred years old? That would explain why he wasn't in Great Wizards of the Twentieth Century, or Notable Magical Names of Our Time, or Important Modern Magical Discoveries, or even A Study of Recent Developments in Wizardry. Those books would all be to up-to-date for him to appear in.

Hope sighed a bit forlornly. She didn't feel like going upstairs to grab any of the ancient books in the library of her trunk, but as she sat there in deep thought, she decided she would to grab her new (and old) invisibility cloak.

Use it well, her note had said, and what else could she do with it but walk about the castle when most others were fast asleep? It was almost too hard to resist and five minutes later she was moving invisibly through the halls. She was mildly tempted to investigate the Restricted Section of the library, but as she already had the general idea of who Flamel was, there really was no point to, so she merely wandered about, simply gazing at the pictures she passed. She had never particularly noticed how beautiful some of them were.

Then, she had to stop, to scowl at the suit of armour that was staring right at her even with her invisibility cloak. Sir Michael Richmond was a strange suit of armour. Its visor creaked as if it was smiling underneath. Hope wasn't sure how long she stared at him in aggravation, before she stepped backwards, almost bumping into a professor but catching herself at the last possible second and teetering away from him suddenly.

It was Snape. She held her breath, her hand covering her mouth and nose effectively as he stared right at her. It was quite a bit like the way the suit of armour had, but his was unnerving, because she knew he couldn't see her, but she had the feeling that he knew she was there.

She backed away from him slowly, careful to make as little noise as she could, moving backwards until she was out of his sight and she could breathe again. She gulped the air greedily, resting her back against the door that she had hidden behind. Her lungs felt as though she had swallowed fire; exactly how long had she been holding her breath?

It was only when she opened her eyes that she realized she had no idea where she was.

The cloak fluttered to her feet as she stood, gazing inquisitively at the only item that lay in the room. It was tall, nearly reaching the ceiling and hidden behind a lengthy maroon sheet. Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion as she limped forward to grasp a bit of the material and yank it from whatever it was hiding. She gave the barest of tugs and the sheet fell, pooling at her feet, revealing what lay beneath.

It was a mirror. That stunned her, because why on earth would someone want to hide a mirror? It was beautiful too, she had to admit, standing on a pair of golden clawed feet that matched its intricate golden frame. Carved into the frame that was spread across the top were letters and words that made no sense to her: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi. They weren't from any language she'd ever read, not that she'd read many to begin with, so it must have been a code. A code written on a mirror… her eyes narrowed, her lips moving soundlessly as she read the letters backwards, as words often appeared in reverse when shown in a mirror: I show not your face but your heart's desire.

Heart's desire…that was a bit foreboding. Her breath shook as she breathed in and out slowly, her eyes closing before she could even look upon the reflection.

Theoretically, she could leave this room and pretend she'd never gone exploring, but at the same time, she wished to know what her greatest desire was. So, at long last, her eyes finally fluttered open to stare at her reflection.

At first it was simply her, standing there, twisting the black stone on her ring with a sorrowful expression. Hope knew that expression well. She stepped back suddenly, a startled gasp escaping her lips as two figures appeared beside her.

The one on the left she recognized easily, for it was the face she saw in the mirror, the face of Lily Potter. She was far more beautiful than she could have possibly imagined, Hope would have likened it to gazing upon an angel or a dryad of Greece who were notoriously fair.

"Mum?" she whispered faintly, her eyes glazing with tears as her mother's lips widened into a smile that she recognized as her own. It was only then that she shifted her eyes to the man who was her father. His hair was messy and black and his eyes were a bright hazel, framed by circular glasses. She had never seen a picture of James Potter before. When she was little, she would play a little game of pretend and guess where her looks came from, as it had been before she had found a picture of her mother that Petunia had kept. She imagined that she got her eyes from her Mum and her hair from her Dad. It made her a little sad that she didn't really have any of her father's physical traits.

His eyes grew soft as if he could read her mind and hear her thoughts, and the image of her parents morphed into her reflection, but the image of the eleven year old witch was growing before her very eyes until a young woman stood before her. Her dark red hair shimmered different colors in the sunlight as it caught her thick and loose braid, her eyes as bright as her smile. In her arms she contently held a small boy with red hair and green eyes and an impish smile, looking very much like his mother.

She stumbled backwards in shock and a spiteful voice inside her head whispered, There you go, Hope, what you really want is a family of your own.

Her sadness was mixed with happiness as her parents reappeared, their smiles sadder than before. She felt at a loss as she stumbled backwards and away, but it wasn't like she could change what she wanted to see, could she? Her eyes fell instead to the floor so she would not have to feel the obligation to stare upon the mirror's reflective surface once more, because she had felt the keen sting and ache that enveloped her heart, leaving a residual pain that lingered.

It was late at night when George slipped soundlessly down the stairs, shivering at the cold. He wasn't sure why it was that he was so cold, because Fred had been sleeping soundly in bed next to him. So he had left the dormitory to make his way down the stairs to sit before the fire.

"What are you doing?" a tired voice proclaimed from the couch.

George swore as he stumbled and fell on his face, twisting to stare at Hope.

Her eyes were closed, giving off the impression of sleep, though her lips twitched into a smile. She had a number of blankets wrapped around her and the Tales of Beedle of Bard and a small book had fallen open to the ground perhaps minutes or hours before.

"Er…nothing," George said quickly, feeling secretly pleased that she had been reading his book.

She opened one sleepy green eye, the fire dancing in the orb, making it appear as mystical as the moon outside, before closing it rather lazily. "What're you doing down here?"

"I was sleeping," she said in irritation, "you know, dreaming."

"About what?" He couldn't help but ask.

"Some inventive ways to shut you up, now go to sleep."

"Oh yeah?" George quirked his eyebrows in amusement. "Like how?"

"Go away!" she groaned, burying her face in her pillow that had been pushed against the arm of the couch.

"No, seriously, what are you doing down here?" he asked her.

She lifted her head, her eyes twinkled. "Sleeping, Weasley, now, off you go." Then she paused. "Wait…why are you down here?"

George shifted uncomfortably, garnering the green-eyed girl's unabashed interest. She didn't comment on how obviously cold he was, simply crooking a finger towards him, inviting him closer. As soon as he was near enough to touch, she cupped his cheeks with her warm hands, letting out a hiss of surprise.

"You're ice cold!"

She dragged him slightly closer, brushing the back of her hand against his forehead and cheek. "What have you been doing, Weasley?" she admonished him as she pulled one of the blankets from her back to don his like a majestic cloak. "Geez! Have you been sitting in an open window?" she demanded, her eyes sparking in the firelight.

George opened his mouth to refute, but his cheeks had flushed so suddenly with heat that he found himself at a loss of words. She looked so pretty when she was angry on his behalf (and at him, at the same time).

"That's very helpful," Hope added dryly, ignoring the blush on his cheeks as best as she could, though she couldn't help but wonder what had brought it on. "You're a menace, you know?"

"It's been said," George agreed, regaining the use of his tongue, and in doing so, his voice.

"I hope so," she said in return, ignoring the unintended pun on her name that she had used. "I didn't get to tell you earlier, but I really liked your present."

A pleased grin lit his face. Hope tried not to blush at the sight of it. "Really?"

"Yeah," she agreed, "but what are the Tales of Beedle the Bard?"

"Oh, they're a collection of children's stories," George informed her with a smile. "Mum used to tell them to us when we were kids. Did you like them?"

"I haven't had the chance to read it yet," Hope admitted, blinking harshly in the half light, rubbing her eyes and giving a wide yawn that reminded George a bit of how Ginny was when she was tired. "Are they any good?"

"Depends on what you like," George offered, "Everyone's got a favourite, I suppose, and everyone's got one that they'd rather hear first to get it over with."

Hope quirked a curious eyebrow, a soft smile lighting her lips, making her face seem more alive. "Oh? Why's that?"

George looked at her oddly. "Well don't you have a least favourite and favourite fairy-tale? Don't muggles have fairy-tales?"

The smile her face now bore was on the bitter side, but also filled with deep longing. "They do, but I never read or had any read to me, I preferred the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings a hundred times over to those unrealistic fairy-tales of theirs," she said, waving a dismissive hand.

"What's a hobbit?" George asked in confusion, having never heard the term before.

Hope's eyes lit up as she laughed. "It's a being that lives in the fantasy world of Middle-earth, and they're very short and walk barefoot. They don't approve of adventures but one of them always manages to go off on one…I wanted to be a hobbit when I was a little girl," she said stoutly.

George was staring at like he'd never quite seen anything like her (which was quite true, but never mind that). Short, he could see, barefoot, also, and seeking an adventure, that was a given. "I think you'd be a good hobbit."

She smirked. "Coming from someone who doesn't really know what a hobbit is?"

"Nope!" George said, popping the 'p'.

Amusement lifted her lips. "I could read it to you, if you like, The Hobbit."

His blue eyes watched her for a long moment, which would have been unnerving if she wasn't so used to looking into his eyes (they were such a pretty blue…and very hypnotic, but she would have rather clubbed herself over the head with a blunt axe than admit that). She wasn't sure what it was that he sought in her eyes, but she was certain whatever it was couldn't be found there.

"I'd like that."

She was so focused on his eyes, she'd almost missed his words. She blinked twice. "What?"

His lips twitched. "Storytelling, I'd like it."

Her beaming smile outshone his as she scooped the fragile looking book from where it lay atop a book on Egyptian Mythology. George noted that the spine was falling apart from how often she'd read it.

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit," Hope began, the bright smile still lighting her face as she read the long-familiar words. "Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

"Why does that mean comfort?" George found himself asking, much like a child interrupting their story-telling parent with needless questions.

"Because homes are filled with comfort, now hush!" Hope admonished with a grin. "It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats – the hobbit was fond of visitors."

Neither knew how long they sat listening or reading from that book, but Hope's gentle earth-enriched voice paired with the warmth of the fire lulled George to sleep in no time, the last words he heard and understood being: "Bilbo went to sleep with that in his ears, and it gave him very uncomfortable dreams. It was long after the break of day, when he woke up…"

Chapter Text

Hope worried Ron. It wasn't the normal worry either, as she typically worried him with that leg of hers and that clever tongue that got her into so many detentions with Snape. She worried him because she had an obsession with that old mirror.

Ron had seen it's strange, mysterious powers himself –him, Head Boy, Quidditch Captain!– but the way Hope was drawn to it couldn't be healthy. Her temper was rearing its ugly head too, so now Ron had to be extra careful about what he said to her. He could only hope that she'd snap out of it soon.

Hope, on the other hand, though Ron was being ridiculous. She was not obsessed! Hardly! She just couldn't help but be fascinated by a mirror that could show you what you wanted, whatever you wanted. What kind of magic was that, exactly? The mirror was certainly old, perhaps older than Hogwarts, and had carvings reminiscent to the Celtic Tree, which meant (at the most basic level) that everything was connected to each other. She'd seen the same carvings at the main level of Hogwarts –at its foundation, appropriately– only in stone.

And so, on the third night, she returned once more to marvel at the ceiling-high mirror. This time, though, she wasn't alone.

"You can come out, you know," she said, her voice tinged with annoyance, "I can hear you."

For one startled moment, Hope was almost certain that she had imagined it, but then a smooth voice answered her.

"Your eyes are keen, Elpis." The words echoed in the silence, hiding the speaker's location, until-

She twisted around to glare with angry red eyes at the speaker. "It's Hope, you arse-hat!"

The soft chuckle emanated from the space of the doorway as a young man walked through it, seemingly unaware of Hope's venomous stare as he moved forward to stand beside the first-year, gazing into the mirror as well. She wasn't too surprised by his appearance, considering she'd already seen a picture of the youthful Salazar Slytherin and she'd already seen him before, albeit months perviously.

"Quite a marvellous display of magic, no?" he inquired, his lips twitching slightly as he did so, glancing down slightly towards his many times great grand-daughter. "Took me a very long time to craft it, you know."

"You made it?" Hope was much too surprised to be angry this time. "I mean, I knew it was old…and the pattern is almost identical to the pattern on the bricks at the foundation of Hogwarts."

"Caught that did you?" He sounded a bit pleased that she had noticed. "Aye, I made it for your dear old grand-mum." He ran a hand along its surface, recalling when he had etched it by hand so very long ago, though, to him, it seemed like only short years as opposed to centuries.

"Oh?" Hope said, though her voice was soft. Salazar took note of it immediately as he glanced back at her, trying to gauge her reaction, but the dark –for her hair was now pin-straight and black– fringe hid her expressive eyes from view.

"Morea was a very difficult woman," the man said with a laugh that far more light-hearted than he was portrayed, "and she was set on being a powerful, unmarried witch at the time, she wasn't someone you could simply woo."

"No matter how hard you tried?" she asked dryly.

He chuckled nervously, rubbing his chin with one hand. "Well, she was a beauty and had such a fiery spirit. She turned me down a total of thirteen times."

"For marriage or just courting?"

"That was just to court her," he admitted, "took me seven tries to propose marriage, but anyways, back to the mirror. I was trying to show her that even she had something that she desired."

"Hm," was all Hope said to that. "You are a very strange man."

"And you're a thief," he retorted, though he didn't deny her words.

A laugh actually escaped her lips this time at his words. She hadn't been much of a thief to begin with. "Not anymore; I can't be a good thief if I can't run away as fast."

Her grandfather's eyes dropped to her leg that was in the thick wrap she wore while sleeping. His magic was weak as it was and his time in this realm was short; he could not heal her leg.

"I'm not asking you to."

He blinked his pale green eyes, meeting her still-red ones. Oh, he must have spoken aloud. The stony stare was one that he'd often been on the receiving end of, courtesy of Morea. He reached out a hand to steady her as she struggled into a standing position, but she ignored it, using her own strength to stand.

"I love a good challenge," she said with a smirk reminiscent of her father's, "and I don't need some century-old ancestor of mine keeping tabs on me. Go," her voice dropped, becoming soft, "be with your wife; she's waited long enough for you, don't you think?"

Salazar's eyes softened, raising a hand to cup her cheek as he did so. "You remind me a good bit of her," he said quietly, smoothing his thumb over her cheekbone. "Spirited with fire in the heart…and curious, ever curious. She had the same kind of curiosity that drove my son mad."

Hope froze into an ice statue under his hand, but he feigned not noticing the effect his words had on her.

"He was a bright, fascinated creature, until he delved too deeply into the very arts you yourself are drawn to," he said quietly, his eyes shadowed and his face unreadable. "I pray that the same does not become of you, granddaughter."

"And if it does?" Hope whispered, her mouth dry.

His eyes glowed as he met hers, one last time. "It won't," he said with certainty, "because you have something that keeps you pure."

And then he faded from the world of the living completely, leaving Hope alone before that mirror of his.

Pure had many connotations, but she was pretty sure that he wasn't talking about virginity. When she thought of pure, she thought of a slate wiped clean, or the colour white. Pure…something that keeps you sane…was it stupid that she thought of George's insane smile?

"Back again, Hope?"

She screamed, loudly, twisting around wildly, her wand tangling with her sleeve as she pointed it aggressively at the speaker. Not really a good thing, as the person who had spoken was Headmaster Dumbledore.

"Don't do that!" she gasped, her heart still throbbing in her chest, too startled to realize how rude she was being. "I don't like to be-" She waved the hand that held her wand around for effect, giving her a chance to get a few gulps of air.

An amused smile settled on his lips and his eyes twinkled behind his crescent spectacles. Crazy old man… Her heart rate picked up for a moment when she thought that the headmaster had heard the words she had exchanged by arguably the most dangerous of the Founders of Hogwarts, but then she realized that he hadn't been standing there long, so he couldn't have. She relaxed slightly as that knowledge seeped through her, reminding herself that some things should be kept secret, for more than one reason.

"So," Dumbledore continued with that mild voice of his, "you, like hundred before you, have discovered the delights of the Mirror of Erised."

Green eyes drifted back to the reflective surface, almost involuntarily. Longing filled them as she watched her mother weave together a wreath of flowers which she placed like a tiara onto child-Hope's head, and as she father lifted her up and swung her around, making child-Hope giggle. She bit her lip, sucking it between her teeth to force it to stop trembling.

"Delights?" she grumbled under her breath. "Hardly." Delight was not a good word to describe this situation she found herself in. Taunting, perhaps, but not delightful in the slightest.

"I expect you've realized by now what it does?" Dumbledore continued, not having heard her grumble.

Hope twisted slightly to glance back to him. Was it her, or did he look a little sad? Perhaps he too saw something he had lost once. "It shows us what we want most in the world, even if it can't be granted to us."

The answer surprised and impressed Albus Dumbledore, who had thought she would need a bit of prodding to come up with it. Lily's daughter through and through; he shouldn't have expected any less.

"Yes," he said in agreement, "however, this mirror will give us neither knowledge nor truth. Men and women have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible." As he said this, her lips turned downwards, irritation settling onto her face.

Was that a jibe at her? She knew the difference between reality and illusion, thank you very much. "The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow, Hope, and I ask you not go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it, you will now be prepared. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, please remember that. Now, why don't you put that admirable cloak back on and get off to bed?"

"In the mirror," Hope said suddenly, before he could leave, "in the mirror, what do you see, if I may ask?"

She saw a flicker of that aged sadness before he gave her a kindly smile. "I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woollen socks."

The dubious stare Hope's face bore told tale of disbelief. Was that the best lie he could come up with?

"One can never have enough socks," Dumbledore said, giving her a conspirator wink. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People insist on giving me books." And with that being said, he left the Gryffindor to mouth wordlessly in his wake.

"Argh!" she burst aloud, slapping her cold cheeks feverishly with her hands until she was sure they were red from the movement. "Stupid-stupid-stupid girl! Should've listened to Ron in the first place! No good- foolish- rotten piece of sh-"


Hope swung around on the heel of her good leg, her hands still on her cheeks. She must have looked quite the picture. "Ron?" Her first friend wasn't too surprised of her situation (she could see his lips twitching at how she looked, though), though a little exasperated. "What're you doing here?"

"Trying to keep an eye on you," he said with no short measure of annoyance. "You and that mirror are a bad combination, you know."

She wrinkled her nose at that, resisting the urge to get one last look at the mirror. It had, after all, been a creation of Salazar Slytherin, and could –arguably- be as dangerous as he had been in life. She grimaced. "Well," she mumbled, punctuating her words with a tired yawn, "you aren't wrong there, mate."

"When was the last time you slept?" Ron demanded as she stumbled forward, pulling one of her arms over his shoulders as he did so, the other wrapping securely around her waist.

"Mm…dunno," Hope slurred in exhaustion as he pulled her through the door (bending down to grab her cloak because she'd probably kill him with he forgot it), down the corridor and up a few stairs. Her brain wasn't functioning as well as it should, because she asked: "How many hours are in three days?"

Ron crooked an eyebrow at her, almost tripping over a step. "You haven't slept in seventy-two hours?!"

"Wasn't really tired at the time," she murmured as they came to a stop in front of the portrait hole, taking but a second it get into it, "but I'm really sleepy now…weird…"

Ron rolled his eyes at his friend who had collapsed onto the couch –which had become her makeshift bed during the Christmas hols–, hoisting the thick blankets up around her small body and curling her arm over her pillow and under her head. He was more than slightly amused when she fell instantly to sleep.

No sleep for three days? Ron could only shake his head at that. You wouldn't catch him doing such a thing as foolish as spending hours upon hours staring into a mirror that showed you something you would never have (for her at least). He'd prefer sanity instead.

Hope slept through the whole next day, which was an impressive feat on its own, as Fred and George often forgot that she was slumbering away on the couch, unaware of all that transpired. Which was really lucky, because Fred had taken to concocting scenarios to how she would awaken; George kissing her awake was quite popular (George gave his twin a glare for that).

It was only the day after when she finally awoke, well rested. It was still dark out, but Hope hurried into the shower and into a fresh set of clothes before leaving the common room in a rush. It was a miracle none of the Weasley boys awoke from the noise she made, but she paid it no heed, limping down the stairs with her cane in hand, making for the viaduct bridge.

The sun had only just begun to paint oranges and pinks across the sky, luckily for Hope, who had long desired to see a winter sunrise (and sunset), yet never seemed to awaken early enough to see the former.

"Miss Potter?"

Professor McGonagall was surprised to find one of her favourite Transfiguration students leaning against a stone window of the viaduct. Her face was set in a surprisingly bright expression and her eyes –dark brown– were millions of miles away. She was positive she hadn't heard her. "Miss Potter?"

No response.

She reached out a gentle hand to rest it upon her thickly clad elbow when she jerked away suddenly, twisting violently, her eyes wild (turning bright hazel).

"Oh," she gasped, resting a hand against her chest. "Professor! You startled me!"

"I can see that," Professor McGonagall said dryly, "shouldn't you be sleeping Miss Potter?"

"Sleep—?" she started in confusion before staring out at the early morning sun. She waved a hand dismissively, laughing lightly. "Oh, I slept the whole day away; Zeus knows I don't need any more rest."

Her professor's face grew concerned, but she just laughed and waved it off. "Don't look so worried, Professor, my mind was too active for sleep."

Her eyes grew to the same colour of pink that was painted across the horizon as she leaned her elbows on the stone. She didn't know why, but she had an utter fascination with the sky, whether it be night or day, stars or not (though, preferably with stars).

"And why, may I ask, are you out so early in the morning?" McGonagall asked primly, glancing her over with a careful eye.

The grin she gave her in response reminded her of the girl's deceased father a bit too much. "Why, to see the sunrise of course." She could hear James' amused sort of mocking way of talking.

"Can I ask you something, Professor?" she asked suddenly.

"Of course," she said automatically, reminded distantly of a young Lily Evans asking her if it really mattered how she had inherited her magic.

"Do you ever not compare me to my parents?"

The tone of her voice was strangely blunt, not at all like her emotion-filled voice. It made McGonagall feel oddly guilty, as if she was the child that had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Honestly, she was startlingly like either of her parents that it was difficult to not view her as such, and she told her that (voicing it as delicately as she possibly could).

Hope's eyes turned an icy-blue and she gave a small huff of annoyance, muttering something unsavoury and French under her breath. She knew French? "I don't like when people compare me too much to my parents," she said finally, brushing her hair from her face, curling one strand around her finger as she did so. "They often forget that I am not them." Her eyes fastened on McGonagall as if to say "like certain professors, for instance."

McGonagall's smile was thin. "You have my sincerest apologies, if I have offended you." And she meant it.

"You haven't," Hope said with an air of amusement. "I was just going to see if you were going to admit it."

It was so utterly backhanded and Slytherin that McGonagall was impressed. She had enticed an apology out of her with very few words.

"I do not think your parents would have dared to do something like that," the older woman said dryly.

Hope laughed, her laughter bringing a new light to her eyes. "That is good to know." This whole situation was a bit odd, as students didn't typically have casual conversations with their teachers, unless it involved their grade or schoolwork in general.

"Then, would you mind if I asked you a question myself?" she asked, to which Hope gave a light inclination of the head, her eyes once again on the sky beyond.

"You're a metamorphmagus, so why is it that you don't change the colour of your hair and eyes as often?" She had only seen it a few times when it was not that dark crimson that she had inherited from her mother.

"I was told that it suited me," Hope said calmly, though her cheeks had flooded with colour, greatly amusing the professor. Like father, like daughter, she thought, being attracted to red-heads, and all.

"George Weasley is not wrong."

Her cheeks turned the colour of beets and she stared, stunned at McGonagall. "Now, wait a mo', I never said-!" Her words quickly faded into incoherent ramblings that she couldn't decipher, but at the same time, didn't need to.

McGonagall's lips spread in a slight smile as Hope turned up her collar against the wind and turned on her heel, still sputtering about professors and troublemaking red-heads. That was something she had often heard Lily Evans complaining of (though her thoughts involved "toe-rag" and "black-haired fool" more often than not), with slight variations, of course. But, now that she'd thought about it, she'd never heard George and Hope fight so vocally or rudely (or at all) as her parents had.

It seemed Hope really was a bit different than her parents.

Fred wasn't quite sure how he got roped into helping Hope make a snowman, but the fact remained that he had. One would have thought that she had confused him with his brother, but Hope didn't make such mistakes. As it just so happened, George hadn't finished his homework and had been forced by Percy to remain inside (with Ron as well, who had left his holiday homework to the last minute) and finish it. Hope had pouted and begged until finally Fred gave in (mostly so she would simply cease her behaviour) and was dragged out into the freezing wind.

Hope's intense eyes –because, make no mistake, they were intense; he didn't know how George could stare so easily into them every day– were narrowed in concentration as she knelt in the snow, packing the snow together into a large ball.

"Aren't you cold?" he asked her with a quirked eyebrow.

She laughed lightly. "Of course, but this snowman is going to be the best snowman in the world, so I must give a little to gain a lot," she said stoutly in an almost childish gesture that got him for about five seconds until he realized she was joking. "'Course I'm cold, you numpty! I just want to make a snowman, that's all."

Fred stopped where he was making the body (as Hope was making the base) of the snowman. "Have you ever made a snowman?" he asked cautiously, silently wishing he had George to deal with all this (she told George everything).

Hope's thickly gloved hands stilled over the snow. "Why do you ask?" she inquired, her voice strangely high, giving her away.

"I just do," Fred said bluntly. "So? Have you ever made a snowman?"

A sigh of visible fog left her lips as her eyes fluttered closed for a short moment. Fred wasn't quite sure why, but she seemed to be gathering herself, like whenever his dad got angry. "No," she said finally, "I've never made a snowman in all my life."

"Why not?" Fred asked, honestly curious.

Hope pursed her lips at the question. "Because Petunia didn't want me mixing with her son, or having any kind of fun, now that I think about it. She thinks I'm a bit unnatural, so does her husband." She grinned suddenly. "Hence why I've been a complete utter bitch for the last few years."

"You are unbelievable, you are," Fred said with a bit of awe, staring at her as if he had never quite looked at her properly.

"Thank you," she said, batting her eyelashes at him in a flirtatious gesture, "but I think George might get a little jealous if you keep talking like that, Weasley."

Fred snorted at her comment as she pulled a carrot missing its tip out of her pocket and stuffing into the centre of the head, using an assortment of coloured buttons as the eyes, mouth, and (obviously) the buttons that went down the front.

She grinned feverishly, clapping her hands together in happiness. "See, told you! He's perfect!"

Fred wasn't so sure with a bulging belly like that (he wasn't quite sure how exactly it had gotten so big, but here it was, oh well). "Are you sure? He looks a bit on the plump side…"

"What are you talking about?" Hope chortled. "He's beautiful! And I'm going to call him Bombur, just to be on the safe side."

Fred couldn't help but stare at her as if she had a second head as she hummed the lyrics to the song she had sung –embarrassingly– for George not several nights earlier whilst reading that first chapter of her beloved book:

"Chip the glasses and crack the plates!

Blunt the knives and bend the forks!

That's what Bilbo Baggins hates-

Smash the bottles and burn the corks!"

It finally made sense when George and Hope explained it a dinnertime, but at the same time, made no sense at all. And, thus, Hope became the not-so-official storyteller of Gryffindor House, reading the Hobbit late into the night until her three-boy audience had fallen asleep. She shook her head; Weasleys never changed, did they?

Chapter Text

The weather was downright terrible when Hope had gone down to practice for the up-coming Quidditch match, and it hadn't improved at all during the few hours that they'd practiced, in fact, it probably got worse. Hope could hardly see her hand in front of her, though Oliver's voice was loud and clear, his irritation leaking through at the twins pretending to fall off their brooms (which was a bit foolish, Hope had to agree).

"Will you stop messing around!" Oliver demanded, barely being heard over the dull roar of the storm around them. "Snape's refereeing this time, and he'll be looking for any excuse to knock points off Gryffindor!"

It was not a pleasant taste that mud had, just ask George Weasley who had fallen from his broom only moments previously, swallowing a bit of mud as he did so. He struggled to spit it out, howling, "Snape's refereeing?! When's he ever refereed a Quidditch match? He's not going to be fair if-argh!"

Five heads swivelled in the Weasley boy's direction, trying not to laugh, because Hope, who had just landed, hadn't been able to see very clearly in the dark and mud, and had tripped, falling onto his back, pressing his face into the mud again.

"Sorry," she groaned into his ear as she rolled off him into the mud as well. "It's kind of dark, you know…"

Angelina hid a smile –though Fred was roaring with laughter– as she helped the younger girl stand, but the smile soon slipped from her face. "What's wrong? You're really pale."

"Snape," she muttered simply, "the bane of my existence…why do the gods curse me so?"

Alicia Spinnet snickered behind her hand as Wood called out the end of practice. "Come on; let's get you changed, maybe that'll get you in better spirits."

"Doubtful," Hope grumbled, but complied all the same, limping in the direction of the changing room until Oliver had to run after her and tug her in the opposite direction, the real direction of the changing rooms. The girls ended up deciding to shower in Gryffindor Tower, because it was a much better prospect compared to the showers in the changing room, and so, not ten minutes later (because one could move very fast when a shower was near at hand) the Chasers and Seeker were washing the mud and grime and sweat from their bodies.

One thing everyone had to get used to in Hogwarts was the shared showers, meaning one didn't have much time to be self-conscious of their body. Of course, there were separate stalls, but with thin shower curtains. If you wanted to make sure your clothes didn't get wet, you usually had to strip before entering one of the stalls (something that Hermione wasn't a fan of).

Hermione wasn't really surprised to find her best friend and her teammates having yet another discussion as they showered; it happened more often than it didn't. Angelina Johnson was leaning on the tiled separator between her stall and Hope's, her chin propped on her arms.

"A bad feeling?" she asked dubiously. "About what?"

Hope shot her an annoyed glance, rinsing the shampoo from her hair. "You know what: Snape."

Hermione slipped into the stall beside Hope, flushing darkly when all the girls called out greetings to her.

Angelina arched an eyebrow at the younger girl. "What, you think he'll play dirty?"

The direction of this conversation was quite confusing to Hermione as she tossed a glance to Hope who in turn tossed a glance to Angelina that said "Snape always plays dirty."

"Snape's going to be the referee for the next Quidditch match," Hope supplied with an annoyed wrinkle of her nose. "And I have a bad feeling," she added as an afterthought.

"A bad feeling?" Hermione repeated Angelina's previous words. "Why?"

Hope's eyebrows creased in irritation, her eyes dark pits (it wasn't a look Hermione was fond of being on the receiving end of, though, thankfully, she rarely was). "Oh, I don't know," she said, her voice bitingly sarcastic, "maybe it's 'cause he's a cock."

The air was suddenly thick with coughs and gags and gasps, but Hope paid none of them any heed, seemingly more focused on her hair than anything else.

"What?" she demanded when the stares were turned on her. "Oh, come on! He's the biggest piece of—" she called Snape something that made Hermione say "Hope!"– "that ever lived! He doesn't teach us anything! The only thing I'm ever going to learn in his class is how restrain myself from taking my silver knife and shoving it—" She mimed the action, much to Alicia's amusement. "He has something against me, mark my words; he'll make the match a living hell."

Angelina couldn't help but arch an eyebrow. "Maybe he's just got something against Potters and Weasleys," she said, trying to sound reasonable, but not really hoping to change her mind about anything.

Hope gave her a baleful stare. "Or maybe he's got something against Gryffindors, the ruddy tosspot."

Katie sniggered quietly as Hope dressed in silence, still muttering obscenities under her breath, before bidding them all goodnight, leaving several pairs of round eyes staring after her.

"Do you…do you think she's alright?" Hermione asked quietly, still staring in the direction that her friend had left.

"Meh," Angelina said carelessly, with a wave of her hand, "don't worry, she's just been pushing herself really hard lately, and her leg's been bothering her; I wouldn't be surprised if she started hexing some people by the end of the week."

Hermione grimaced as the others left her in silence and solitude.

Angelina was right about one thing; Hope had been pushing herself very hard, harder than she should have. Hermione thought maybe something had happened over the holiday, but no one ever mentioned anything, so she assumed it was just her being irrational.

Hope had been so preoccupied before the holidays, it had almost seemed as if she was missing out on an assortment of things, but now she was lively, very lively indeed. Hermione had almost stayed at Hogwarts for the short vacation because she was worried about her friend, but Hope had convinced her that she was fine and didn't need any looking after.

She had been sure that there was something wrong with her leg, because she'd gone to her last few appointments without her or Ron, but she never said a word about it. However, when she had asked Madame Pomfrey about it, the woman had seemed surprised. She said that there was nothing of the sort wrong with her, more likely than not, it was the stress of the on-coming exams or the Quidditch match, or maybe she just wanted to be alone for a bit.

Hope had never worried about Quidditch matches before, though, but then those matches hadn't been conducted by the professor who hated you the most.

Maybe she was on to something with that bad feeling of hers.

The next few days didn't help Hope's mood, and she actually had to have both of the Weasley Twins restrain her from killing that blonde-haired ingrate whom shall never be named (cough, Malfoy, cough)

"Don't play," Hermione advised one night as Hope rested her cheek on her fist, her homework lying unfinished on her lap.

"Say you're ill," Ron added from the armchair, "you look the part, at least."

"Pretend to break your leg," Hermione offered.

"Really break your leg."

Hope rubbed a tired hand over her eyebrow, trying to ignore her low throbbing headache (or soothe it with the movement, she couldn't be sure which). "I can't," she refused simply. "Oliver'll kill me if I back out because of some unjust ruling, besides, if I did, we'd have to forfeit, because we don't have a reserve seeker."

"You're too nice!" Hermione moaned. "What if—" What if you're right? What if something bad happens? She didn't say anything, but she was sure the rest of her question showed on her face.

"I'll be fine," Hope assured her with that kind smile that suited a much older face. "You'll see-" Whatever else Hope had intended to say was cut short when Neville toppled into the room. The response: the whole common room erupted into loud laughter, annoying Hope as greatly as it had Hermione who had stood instantly, freeing his legs with the counter-curse.

Neville stumbled shakily over to the couch, on which Hope and Hermione had cleared a spot.

"Malfoy?" Hope asked sympathetically, sighing when he nodded mutely. "I tried to get me on my way out of the library earlier, but I knew the counter-curse."

"He got me there too!" Neville moaned into his hands. "He said he'd been looking for someone to practice it on."

"Go to Professor McGonagall!" Hermione said adamantly. "Report him!"

Hope tried to hide a snort; when did anyone take students seriously? She remembered how many times she complained to her Muggle teachers of Dudley, whether it be cheating or other forms of bullying, and how they never seemed to side with her, or at least always believed whatever lie Dudley put out. Like when he told everyone "She slipped", and that was how she got in the car accident; so she was a klutz on top of being an attention-seeking liar (now that had just been insulting; if Hope had been someone else, she was certain she would have been bawling). McGonagall may be nice, but at a certain point you had to stick up for yourself.

"You've got to stand up to him, Neville!" Ron was saying (had she zoned out? She must have). "He's used to walking all over people, but that's no reason to lie down in front of him and make it easier."

"Ron!" Hope warned.

"There's no need to tell me I'm not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy's already done that," Neville said in return, his voice becoming throaty and choked, as if he was holding back tears.

"That's not what Ron's saying," Hope disagreed, her eyes latching onto his, gazing into the brown orbs imploringly. "There are different kinds of courage and the Sorting Hat saw that in you. Ignore Malfoy, you're worth twelve of him, and he knows it," she said with finality to the round-faced boy, handing him a chocolate frog, "besides, he's an attention-seeking prat not worthy of yours." Sometimes when Hope spoke one had to take her words for granted, and this was one of those times.

"Thanks, Hope," he said, noticeably happier as he handed her the card that came with the chocolate before thanking Hermione as well and heading up for bed. Hope set the card on the small table beside the couch, staring into the fire once more.

Ron couldn't help but wonder what she saw in it, but Hope wasn't thinking about the fire at all.

She stared into the fiery depths, lost in thought. She hadn't told the other two that she had a rough idea about where they could read up on Nicholas Flamel, and she knew that she should have, but... Hope frowned slightly. The search for his identity had been put on hold after the whole Mirror of Erised incident, but now she really didn't have a reason not to look him up.

"Hope? Are you coming?" Hermione's voice could be heard in her periphery and Hope dragged her eyes away from the fire to look up at her friend.

"Yeah, I'm coming," Hope said automatically, grabbing her cane from the floor and standing with as much grace as she possessed –which, frankly, wasn't much–, following the bushy-haired brunette up the stairs to the first year dormitory.

She changed in silence and climbed in her bed, laying asleep there for what seemed like hours, waiting for her dorm-mates to drop off to sleep, which took a surprisingly long time.

And once they had done so, it was only then that Hope finally decided to look into Nicolas Flamel once more. She threw off the covers of her bed and grabbed her wand before climbing out of the bed to walk around it to where her trunk was located.

She fumbled with her trunk, using a very faint "Lumos!" so that she might see the contents within. Hope mouthed the titles that the spines of the books bore, before finding the one she wanted and withdrawing it, locking her trunk once more, and climbing back into bed.

Greatest Wizards of Ages Past was the book she had been searching for. It looked to be a bit of a bore, but the man who'd sold it to her had said it would be useful for History of Magic, and he wasn't wrong, there. And if it had something about ancient wizards, Nicholas Flamel would definitely have to count, since he was over six hundred years old.

Her illuminated wand tip was hidden behind the thick drapes so she wouldn't awaken her dorm mates, and tucked behind her ear as she skimmed the pages for one passage in particular.

A Short Synopsis of Alchemy:

The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the Philosopher's Stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers. The Stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the Elixir of Life, which will make the drinker immortal. An incorrect assumption was that the Stone could turn a base metal such as lead to gold or silver, when it can only turn metal to gold. The Philosopher's Stone has been a symbol of enlightenment or complete perfection, another reason for alchemists' to strive to create it.

There have been many reports of the Philosopher's Stone over the centuries, but the only Stone currently in existence belongs to Mr. Nicolas Flamel, the noted alchemist and opera-lover, who celebrated his six-hundred and sixty-fifth birthday last year, enjoys a quiet life in Devon with his wife, Perenelle (six-hundred and fifty-eight).

At last! Success!

A stone that could make one immortal, well, that would be something that a large number of people would desire. And there was the question of why Dumbledore would have it in Hogwarts; surely there were more secure holdings?

"Gringotts is the safest place in the world fer anything yeh want to keep safe- 'cept maybe Hogwarts." Wasn't that what Hagrid had said?

And then a vault had been broken into the day she'd gone with him to Diagon Alley, the same vault he'd emptied. If what he had removed from the vault was indeed the true Philosopher's Stone, then why hadn't the vault it was in been of a higher class? Or would that have attracted too much attention?

She frowned, tapping her chin thoughtfully, theorizing for a few minutes more –some theories possible, some not so much– before calling it a day and cancelling her light, replacing the book and wand beside her on the bedside table, closing her eyes and slipping into a deep slumber.

Hope leaned forward on her arms, the cool air brushing against her hair as she looked out upon the terrace. The weather was fair, not completely lovely, but then, it was only March, so she shouldn't have expected any less. Thick red gloves covered her palms and fingers so that her hands wouldn't freeze quite so much while clutching her broom. She frowned in annoyance at the soft noises her cane made with every movement.

Now Hope had a reason for why she hadn't told her friends of her recent breakthrough concerning Flamel, and that was mostly because she was feeling a bit more than slightly vindictive.

Bad feeling were real, they existed. Hope was more than a little annoyed that everyone thought she was being silly about the whole thing. Sure Snape was a douche, but there was something else that sent a shiver down her spine. Bad things seemed to follow her onto the Quidditch pitch. So, Hope walked silently out onto the field, trying to calm her racing heart as she disappeared into the changing room, returning just as morosely.


Her eyes shifted upwards to regard George's concerned blue ones. "Hm?" she mumbled quietly, her voice a little raw from trying to defend herself so much.

"Are you alright?" he couldn't help but ask her. She looked very anxious, more anxious than he'd ever seen her.

"Just fine," she murmured in the same quiet manner. He wasn't sure if she could raise her voice much higher than that.

"Did you get any sleep last night?" he prodded.

She gave him an odd look. Maybe she looked tired (which she was; tired of trying to explain herself over and over again) "I slept fine."

"Hope!" Oliver sounded relieved when he saw that his seeker was already there and in uniform. "Good you're here! I need to talk to you for a second."

She nodded mutely, rolling her stiff shoulders to follow her captain.

George shared a glance with his twin. "Did she look a bit…worried to you?"

Fred's face was marred in a frown. "Angie says she's been a bit anxious about this match, something about Snape, I think."

Well, George couldn't fault her there.

"Don't want to pressure you, Potter," Oliver was saying to Hope, "but if we ever need an early capture of the Snitch, it's now. Finish the game before Snape can favour Hufflepuff too much."

Hope gave a lazy salute, trying not to roll her eyes at him. "Yes, sir."

"Are you sure you're alright?" he pressed after a brief moment of assessing her, catching sight of her over-flushed cheeks and slightly glazed eyes.

She threw him an annoyed glance. "I'm fine, stop asking."

And Oliver relented after she gave him a firm glare.

"The whole school's out there!" Fred commented from the door. "Even-blimey– Dumbledore's come to watch!"


Fred turned towards Hope's voice and balked slightly. "What in the name of Merlin are you doing?"

Hope had bent over backwards so that her body was shaped like a lowercase n. She rolled her eyes –the most life he'd seen in her today– and scoffed. "It's called stretching, genius."

If Hope was already that annoyed this early in the morning then the day was already off to a bad start. George winced behind him.

Hope pulled herself into a standing position, her eyes a brown so dark that they were almost black. "I still have a bad feeling," she grumbled under her breath as she fell into line with the rest.

"Nothing's going to go wrong," Angelina said in exasperation –and a bit of annoyance. "Stop worrying!"

The dark glare that settled on her face pulled Angelina's words up short, but, luckily, there was little reason to talk –or argue–, as not several seconds later both teams marched onto the pitch. Hope couldn't but feel a little glad that Snape looked a bit angry, though she couldn't fathom why; it was a beautiful day. Her eyes shifted upwards slightly, or at least it was a clear day.

They said their pleasantries, which consisted of a tough handshake by both captains and an agreeable nod –since it was Hufflepuff–, and the whistle perched between Snape's lips began the game.

Apparently Hope had already begun to gain a bit of a reputation, because the first Bludger she saw was the one hurtling towards her collarbone. She rocketed her broom upwards, but she needn't have worried; George battered it away sending it –whether accidentally or on purpose, she couldn't be sure– towards Snape.

A penalty was awarded to Hufflepuff, but Hope thought it was worth it. She winked at the grinning Weasley as he flew past. He almost missed the next Bludger; Hope took full credit for that.

Hope circled the pitch, eyes trained on anything that was gold, but in this crowd, that could be anything. Catch the Snitch fast, he said, before Snape gives Hufflepuff too many penalties, he said.Fine. Her eyes flashed to something that small and golden fluttering by the Ravenclaw stands. She didn't dare glance to the Hufflepuff Seeker, Cedric Diggory, to see if he had seen it, already speeding towards it in a low dive that few ever dared to do (thus why she could hear, in the back of her mind, cheers and gasps), and even less at the speed she was going at.

Sharp dives were starting to become a signature of hers, something that both pleased and annoyed Oliver greatly (she suspected he was only annoyed because of the possibility of her getting ploughed). No one else minded as long as she made an attempt to worry about her own skin for once, which was rare.

She shot past Snape, hiding a smirk as she angled her elbow in such a way that it rammed into his side, but before he had the chance to call for a foul, Hope had pulled up, waving a clenched fist in triumph, inside which the silver wings of the Snitch fluttered weakly.

The roar was deafening; it had to be a record, someone catching the Snitch so soon after a match had starte-


Hope didn't see it coming when something hard and round slammed into the back of her head, sending her toppling off the broom and into a freefall. She was barely conscious enough to hear the screams, but her world faded into blackness once her body collided with the earth. She was conscious long enough to feel her bones crack and to feel the pain that resulted from them.

The whole school spilled out onto the field when the Gryffindor Seeker didn't move. Barely anyone had time to even think as Madam Pomfrey all but flew to her most frequent patient's side, her face pale with worry as her wand fluttered over the girl's body. If she had looked back, she would have seen the barricade the professors had to make to force the students back. If she had looked back, she would have seen how horrified both the Quidditch teams were. If she had looked back, she would have seen Hermione Granger in tears and Ron Weasley as white as a ghost. But, Madam Pomfrey had no time for such things, because, as it was, Hope Potter's life hung in the balance.

She needed to take her to St. Mungo's; this level of healing was out of her hands. She twisted the pearl ring on her pointer finger, cradling the back of Hope's neck so that the portkey wouldn't jar her head too much, before girl and Matron vanished from a sea of worry.

Chapter Text

"It's called flashing," Hope explained.

"Flashing? Why do you call it that?" Ron asked, canting his eyebrow slightly.

It was a few weeks after the troll incident –as it was now called, rather famously– and Hope had finally agreed to tell Fred and George how she could get around Hogwarts so fast. Ron and Hermione had opted to tag along, wondering just what exactly she was going to show them.

Hope's eyes rolled towards George who sniggered lightly. "'Cause one second you're there and the next you're gone," Hope said with a shrug, "like a flash; I guess it was the best name my granddad could come up with."

Hermione's mouth dropped. "Your grandfather invented that teleportation method?!" He was the owner of that little leather bound book that Hope had read from when they were in the lavatory during Halloween? He would have to be incredibly advanced–

"Yup!" Hope said, popping the 'p' loudly as she smiled at George. "So, Weasley, apple or orange?"

He blinked, not quite understanding, but he answered anyways, in a completely flummoxed way. "Apple…why?" But by the time he blinked, she'd disappeared.

Fred twisted around, glancing in every direction. "Okay…so—"

"Here you are." An apple was tossed lightly into George's open hands and four pairs of eyes looked at it as if it was some sort of alien creation or forbidden fruit...or something...

Then, Hope had the audacity to yawn as if disappearing and reappearing just as quickly was as common as breathing (which it most certainly was not). George looked down at the apple then back up at her with a bit of incomprehension.

"It's not poisoned," she said in amusement, "don't worry, Weasley, if I wanted to kill you, I would at least be more creative than that."

George felt awkward sitting beside Hope as she slumbered, but he had been volunteered, so he had little choice. It was a wonder McGonagall hadn't asked his younger brother or the Granger girl ("Her name is Hermione, George," Hope admonished) to sit by her bedside. She was on the mend, the whole school had been assured of, but would be out of commission for a few weeks while she recovered from the extensive injuries she had sustained.

Hermione and Ron were taking it the worst, being her best friends, but even Angelina was feeling a bit guilty for tossing her worries aside. She had been right; every Quidditch game she'd played this year had been quite dangerous, so why didn't anyone believe her when she said that she had a bad feeling?

George exhaled loudly, curling his fingers around her limp hand. She was so pale and so small, the purplish smudges under her eyes stood out against her skin. Her hair was a silvery-blonde, almost hiding the blue-wait, what blue?

He frowned, gently brushing her hair from her shoulder to see the bit of blue colouring. What on earth was that?

"Still here?" a kind voice asked, making George quickly remove his hand and twist around to see a young woman in a healer's uniform. Her smile was kind. "You should get some rest."

"I'm fine," George said, but his stomach gave a loud growl.

The healer smiled. "Come on, I'll show you to the floo-"

"What's the blue mark from?" George asked suddenly, gesturing to his slumbering friend.

She gave him a strange look. "What mark?" she asked, moving forward and pulling out her wand and hovering it over the area he had specified. "Oh," she said, relieved, "it's just a transfigured burn, nothing to worry about. Was she in a fire when she was younger?"

"I, I don't know," George admitted. "She barely talks about her childhood."

She said nothing to that, a slight smile brushing her lips as she glanced over the mark again. "The person who made it probably thought they were being clever."

"Huh?" George said in confusion. "What do you mean?"

"It's an iris," she explained, straightening up as she did so, "and its blue; that is symbolic of hope."

"Oh," he said dumbly, but neither said anything else on the matter. George frowned again, dropping his hand onto hers to squeeze it gently, and he could have sworn that for one moment, she squeezed back.

Hope shifted slightly in the bed, her shoulders tensing slightly as her brow furrowed.

"Is she…in pain?" he asked in concern.

"A bit," the healer admitted, "but that's expected, because we have to make sure everything's healing up properly; if we loaded her up with potions all the time, she wouldn't be able to know what was what."

"She would hate that," George agreed. "She hates when she gets sent to the hospital wing, always says the potions mess with her head."

She laughed lightly. "I know the type, so she's intelligent, then? Probably always has her nose stuck in a book?"

"Sometimes, but she's not much of a bookworm." This was very true. Where Hermione often spewed random dictionary definitions, Hope dumbed down or simplified her knowledge.

She winked after pulling the blankets more securely around her patient. "Don't worry, she'll be fine after she's rested a good bit, you'll see." And she left as swiftly as she had entered, leaving him in silence once more.

A soft sigh left Hope's lips as her tensed muscles relaxed and her fingers curled tightly around his, but she made no other movement.

George leaned down to lift a small spine-broken book from the pocket of his cloak, setting it down beside her. She would get bored with nothing to read if –when- she ever woke up, besides, it was her favourite.

He leaned down to whisper in her ear, "You better wake up soon, Hope Lily Potter, you hear me? Soon."

He didn't see the ghost of a smile on her lips as he left, her mind still a muddle of pain and potions, but his voice rang familiar to her, though she could not place it yet in her memory.

Madam Pomfrey peered intently over her patient, her face lined with worry as she looked over her charts. The bones were healing nicely –at a much slower rate so as not to damage her internal organs– held in place by the bandages that were wrapped around the majority of her body, spelled to keep the bones beneath the skin in their proper places, and only a few of her organs were still bruised.

"So she's doing much better, then?" Madam Pomfrey guessed to the healer in charge of the student, Healer Archer. The girl hadn't stirred for nearly two weeks.

Archer smiled, patting the older woman's hand kindly. "Much better, Madam Pomfrey," she assured her, "she's tougher than she looks."

Madam Pomfrey's smile was a bit wry. "Oh, I know."

She reached down to smooth a loose crimson lock from her face when her eyes fluttering open at long last. They were the palest shade of green she'd ever seen, but it was the first sign of life in her that she'd seen in weeks.

"Hope!" she said in rather obvious relief. "You're awake! Finally!"

Those green eyes which had been staring at a spot on the ceiling above her shifted sideways to meet hers.

"P-Poppy?" her voice croaked, weak and raspy. "Wha-what happened?"

Madam Pomfrey couldn't even be a little annoyed that she used her first name –so much like James often had–, too relieved that she was awake, before she became quickly appalled at her attempting to sit up. "Don't do that! You'll—"

Hope groaned loudly in aggravation, cutting her speech off as she raised a hand to inspect the thick bandages around her arms. "Do I look like a mummy?"

"Only a little bit, Miss Potter," Healer Archer said in amusement, stepping into the space beside her, opposite Madame Pomfrey. "I'm Healer Archer; I've been monitoring you since you arrived."

Hope blinked owlishly at her a few times, looking the young woman up and down. "Healer," she said slowly, "like..." Her mouth was still a little numb from the potions and the lack of moisture so she settled on pointing at Madam Pomfrey.

"That's correct," Healer Archer said as Hope descended into a brief coughing fit, handing her a cup of water that almost slipped from her hands due to how weak and badly shaking they were.

"Ah…" Hope said tiredly, her eyes staring vacantly around her as if trying to ascertain where she was.

"You're in St. Mungo's," she added, but Hope only stared blankly at her. "It's a magical hospital."

"Of course," Hope said bemused, glancing at the healer that was running her wand over her body. "What are you doing?"

"Hm?" Archer glanced up. "Oh, just checking your vitals, making sure everything's working correctly."

Hope's eyes didn't trust, but she made no other comment concerning the matter. "What happened exactly?"

"What do you remember?" Madam Pomfrey countered, instead.

Hope's eyebrows furrowed as she attempted to recall the events that led to her accident. "I had just caught the Snitch," she said slowly, curling her fingers inward until they made contact with her palm, as if still feeling the tingle of the cold metal. "And then something hard hit me in the back of the head and I fell off and fainted."

"Well," Madam Pomfrey began slowly, "the Hufflepuff Beater who hit the Bludger had actually been aiming in the opposite direction, so the ball was charmed to head towards you. He's been feeling rather guilty about the whole thing."

"I would assume so," Hope grunted over the growl of her stomach. "Damn, I'm starving!"

Archer chortled slightly and excused herself to bring the Girl-Who-Lived her long awaited food.

"Be honest with me, Miss Potter," Madam Pomfrey warned, reverting back to the girl's surname, "how do you feel?"

"Like lead," she said bluntly, lifting her arms experimentally with difficulty, "are they supposed to feel like that?"

"Lead is good," Madam Pomfrey said, pleased. "The bandages are a bit heavy, but the weighted feeling means that they're healing properly."

"So when can I get out of here?" Hope asked bluntly, collapsing back into her pillows with another low groan. "I hate hospitals."

"I had no idea," Madam Pomfrey said sarcastically, "though I suspect you will be leaving sooner rather than later, now that the healers can use undiluted potions-"

"That's…good," she said finally, "that's really good."

Hope seemed to be a bit lost in thought, sliding one of her two rings onto her finger where they had rested on the bedside table. It gleamed in the barely lit room.

"What's that?"

Her attention had been directed to a small pile of gifts at the foot of her bed. Their presence seemed to surprise her, making Madam Pomfrey smile. And then her gaze shifted sideways to the worn book that lay on the bedside table.

"Was George here?" she asked suddenly, straining the muscles of her arm so that she could reach the book and lift it with difficulty towards herself.

"Oh, yes," Madam Pomfrey agreed with a sly smile, "he was probably the most upset after your…fall."

Hope's cheeks darkened, muttering under her breath, "We're just friends."

She didn't notice the amused smile Madam Pomfrey cast her way, and she had no way of knowing that Madam Pomfrey was going to return to Hogwarts and inform her friends of her awakening and perhaps subtly (or not so subtly) suggest to the Weasley Twins a possibility of a truly spectacular welcome back gift.

The Fourth Floor was Spell Damage, and it was the floor that Hope's godmother and her husband had resided since that night in autumn all those years ago. It was quite late and she was certain most patients and healers were asleep, but Hope had a whacky sleep clock and a very awake mind. And the locks were really child's play, honestly, couldn't have they at least tried a little harder.

She twisted the knob of the door open slowly, entering the ward as quietly as one could with a leg like hers.

The Longbottoms weren't too difficult to find, but they were much harder to look at.

Alice Longbottom should have had a pixie-like look about her, but her cheeks were sunken and pale, far too pale, and her hair was white and wispy, nothing like the chestnut brown from the photo Hope had of her and her mother together. Frank was much like his wife, just as hollow-looking, and just as dead-looking.

Hope could feel the bile rising in her throat and the tears clinging desperately to her eyelashes as she dropped a shaking hand until it hovered over Alice's limp one, but she didn't touch her. Maybe it was because she was afraid, or maybe it was because she didn't want to wake her.

Hope slumped into the chair that was positioned beside the bed for visitors, rubbing at her eyes and erasing all traces of the tears that never fell. So this was what happened to you from overexposure to the world's worst torture curse. Her stomach churned and she felt sick.

It felt quiet, too quiet. The only sound was of Hope's rather audible sigh.

"You don't know me," she whispered finally, but it sounded louder, much louder than she had intended, echoing in the silent ward, "but my name's Hope, and…I-I'm you're goddaughter."

She cleared her throat with difficulty, giving a shaky laugh. "I don't even know why I'm here, or what I could possibly say. You don't know me and I don't know you; we're strangers on a train, I suppose."

She bit her lip, plagued with uncertainty, before deciding to finally speak. "My name's Hope, but I don't really like it, because it's like I've got so much to live up to, and I hate that. I love Mum and Dad, but they're not here to…" her throat caught once more and she had to pause. "I'm sure they would have been great…" She breathed in and out deeply, trying to keep her emotions carefully in check, and failing.

"Anyways, er, I live with my mother's sister and her family, but they're rubbish and terrible caretakers, if you ask me. I'm not even sure if they have a kind bone in their bodies. They like everything neat and orderly, you know? And me? I like some disorder and things that maybe don't shine like they've been scrubbed over and over again. I like old-fashioned things, I guess, or at least things that have an old-fashioned look. I'm…" she faltered again; she was rambling, but it mattered little. "I'm sentimental."

"I've got a terrible temper," she added as an afterthought, "I'm not sure if I got that from Mum or Dad, maybe both. I was a very angry little girl," she said after a moment, simply twisting the opal ring around her finger, "or, at least, that was what I appeared to be. I had a terrible reputation when I was younger, always getting into trouble, bad-mouthing teachers." Her lips twitched slightly as she glanced towards the sleeping insane woman. "You can imagine, I'm sure."

"I was pretty quiet, kept to myself mostly, unless Dudley got involved," she admitted, "him and his mates always managed to piss me off, and the teachers always took his views over mine…that always made me so explosive."

"It hardly came as surprising when they told everyone I was going to St. Agnes' Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Girls," she said with a despairing sigh. "I would've been a little insulted if I hadn't been so relieved to be leaving."

"Hogwarts is great and your son is a sweetheart." Hope glanced at the woman, as if hoping she could understand her or at least hear her, despite her sleep. "I've got these two great friends, Ron and Hermione, and there are these two prankster twins, Fred and George, that are always getting into trouble, causing mayhem, the like, and they really cheer me up when I'm in one of my moods…it's nice to have someone like that, I guess. I think Neville needs someone like that, someone that'll make him smile and laugh ridiculously."

She rubbed a hand absently against the scar across her leg. "Let me tell you about this one time in Potions…"

There was no one to greet Hope when she took the portkey Healer Archer gave her and was deposited out in the stone courtyard.

"You have been greatly missed, Milady."

Hope very nearly sighed at the sound of Sir Michael Richmond's voice, as she had now discovered why the talking suit of armour was always following her around (owing, no doubt, to Salazar Slytherin's last request) and she couldn't say she was impressed by how seriously he was taking it.

Hope opted to scowl at him instead, but the cool wind whipped her hair around, making it difficult to look at him without restraining it with her hands.

Hope was sure she would've preferred to Flash to the castle if she could've gotten away with it, but what could you do?

"I doubt that," she said calmly, "but you might want to be less obvious, Michael, people are going to notice when a suit of armour keeps following me around."

"I keep mostly to myself," a voice from within spoke defensively.

Hope arched her eyebrow again, dubious, but she settled on rolling her eyes at him instead. "To your post, Sir Knight."

He gave her a low bow and lumbered off, the sound of metal clashing together with every movement. He looked so utterly ridiculous, Hope could silence the small giggle that burst from her lips (she still blamed her grandfather for the whole thing; honestly, she didn't need to be watched like a child by someone who had been dead for at least a good thousand years).

She'd left the hospital despite them wanting her to remain for another few days, but Hope really hated hospitals. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with hospitals in general, or even doctors or healers, it was just that she didn't like being strapped to a bed. Not being able to move at all was possibly the most torturous thing she had ever endured; quite ironic considering her leg required her to not move for extended amounts of time.

She pulled her jacket a little tighter around her, hoping that it would shield her from the wind a bit more effectively, because, despite the fact that it was April, she was still in Scotland, and even they had cold weather. She glanced down at herself, noticing how muggle she looked and it made her smile.

The jacket was baggy on her, but she liked it too much to complain about the size (she'd grow into it), as usual, her legs were covered with thick tights, but her skirt was denim and worn, and her shirt depicted a band called the Weird Sisters (she had no way of knowing that it was actually a Wizarding band).

She looked perfectly muggle, which was good, because the Wizarding World was quite behind in what was considered fashionable, mind you, not that she cared much for fashion (Parvati was to blame for this, with what she and Lavender always talked about).

A harsh light danced in front of her eyes, making her step back (almost tripping; thankfully, she had her cane on her) and blink frantically.

It was a star. Well, not a real star, those massive balls of gas were light years away, but this was as close to a star as one could get. In awe, she tentatively reached a hand out to the floating light.

She had told them she liked to star-gaze…it could be no one else. She laughed out loud and swung her cane forward, heading inside and making for the Great Hall.

At first, no one noticed her –strange, to say the least–, but people began to notice that something was amiss when the reflection of the sky above them shifted suddenly to a night filled with stars and the moon painting a lovely picture.

She was almost too busy admiring the scenery to notice the red blur heading her way, only catching sight of the twin a fraction of a second before she was swept into his arms with a hearty laugh.

"George Fabian Weasley, you put me down right now!" she ordered, despite her smile, ignoring the rising noise behind them.

"You are so…" George struggled to find the right words.

"Me?" Hope offered with a grin. "Oh, I know." Her green eyes glanced upwards briefly. "I like the present; very impressive magic."

His eyes lit up, and so did his ears, but that was nothing compared to his cheeks when she kissed one of them. "You are far too sweet," she said amused. "Oi! Fred! Get over here, I know you helped!"

Fred's casual smile never slipped as he gave her a tight hug. "I figured you wanted some privacy to snog Prince Charming over there-OW!"

Hope shook her cane aggressively at him, her cheeks only slightly flushed. "I have a cane, mister," she warned, "and I am not afraid to use it."

Her attention was now drawn to the pair that she had missed the most (sorry, George!), the two that looked the most like Hell. Red rimmed eyes and light bruising under the eyes told her all she needed to know.

"So," she began slowly, "which of you morons do I hug first?"

At those words, Hermione burst into tears, only slightly alarming Hope (nerves of steel, that one) when she flung her arms around Hope and sobbed into the shoulder of her coat.

"Er…it's alright, see? Good as new. Well, I say new, but that's a relative concept. If I was as good as new then I wouldn't have any imperfections, which is impossible, since everyone's got those—"

"Shut up!" Hermione muffled into the material, before pulling back and quickly wiping her eyes. "You oaf!"

Hope held up a hand making a small space between her first finger and thumb as if to say "Just a smidgen."

"Miss me, Ron?" she grinned, her eyes glimmering blue when he gripped her into a hug as well.

Hugs all around, really. Hope lost track of how many people she actually hugged, in fact, she didn't remember much of that lunch until later when she had to empty it into a toilet after stuffing her face a bit too much (hospital food was nothing compared to the real thing). Being back in those walls gave her such comfort and relief, like coming home after being away for such a long time. She had missed it.

"Miss Potter."

Hope turned and grinned as her Head of House finally approached the table that she had been forced to sit at, squashed between her best friends. "Hey, Professor! Miss me while I was away?"

Her cheeky grin almost made the professor give a derisive snort, but her restraint was tremendous.

"Welcome back, Miss Potter," she said simply.

Hope's beaming grin widened and her eyes lightened to a hazel identical to her father's. "Thanks. It's great to be back."

And she wasn't lying.

Chapter Text

"What d'you mean you found out about that ages ago?!" Hermione wailed. "Why didn't you tell us?!"

It had hardly been several days since Hope's return to Hogwarts, and she was hard at work, trying to catch up in all of her subjects, something that was proving incredibly trying for her. So, here she sat with rectangular glasses perched on her nose to help her focus a bit more on the words before her and her wand tucked securely behind her ear. ("You look smart." "Shut up.")

"The incantation in which to alter the metallic nature of an object i-hm? Oh, that might have to do with the fact that you lot thought I was a bit bonkers, wouldn't it?"

Hope skimmed through the pages, biting gently on the corner of her mouth as she highlighted bits of the next passage with a pink marker. She was too busy to notice how embarrassed and uncomfortable that made her friends. She was good at that.

"What'cha talking about?" Fred asked in confusion, lifting his gaze from the small lock he was trying to open with Hope's lock-picks. ("Give me that!")

"Nothing," the trio said quickly, earning several suspicious stares.

"That's really quite a convincing act," Lee said dryly from beside her, where he was attempting to assist her in Transfiguration and utterly failing.

"I am the Queen of Convincing!" Hope said, affronted, twirling her quill in one hand and curling a lock around her finger with the other. "I can lie my way out of anything!"

"Liar," coughed Alicia under her breath, earning a pout from the girl.

However, Hermione's horrified expression was truly hilarious, if the laughter was anything to go off of. Secretly, though, she was pleased that Hope was so lively as opposed to her time in St. Mungo's. On the other hand, everyone was practically smothering her, and poor Hope wasn't quite sure how to deal with all the attention. Oliver Wood, in particular, was quite difficult, in fact, he had been practically in tears the day she came back and hadn't ceased being an overprotective mother hen since.

Hope's lips twitched slightly as she tried to restrain the smile, but it didn't last long. Her eyes drifted to the watch strapped to her wrist and she swore colourfully (adding in a few French words that no one in the vicinity understood but assumed to be curses). "Crap! I've got exams in five minutes!"

She stood up so fast that Ron would have been surprised if she hadn't gotten a head rush. Her eyes met his for only a second, but he could read that expression well enough. "When I get back, we're going to have a talk about whatever you haven't told me."

Sometimes he really hated how well she could read people.

Hope barely made it down to Professor McGonagall's classroom on time (conveniently forgetting about her ability to Flash at the time).

"Sorry, Professor!" she gasped, completely winded as she clutched the stitch in her side, attempting to regain her breathing.

Her Head of House seemed startled by her condition. "Did you run here, Miss Potter?"

She sounded faintly worried, or maybe that was just Hope.

"Yup!" Hope said with difficulty, restraining from wincing as a hot flare of pain shot up her leg (like usual), though not as painful as it had been months prior. "Don't worry, I'm fine," she added when Professor McGonagall's face grew more concerned. Seriously! Everyone around her was turning into overprotective mother hens!

She took the large pile of papers (almost moaning in horror) from her, astutely ignoring the look and limping towards a desk, taking out her quill and ink and beginning a very long afternoon.

Very soon there was no other sound in the room other than the repetitive scratch of the quill against parchment and the sound of exhaled air. Hope hardly stopped writing from the second she started her exams to when they ended, but her facial expressions were a source of entertainment to Professor McGonagall. The relieved looks told her she knew some of the questions, but then the creased forehead (she knew some of the question) and the irritated frown (she didn't know how to answer the question at all) soon followed.

The steady tapping of her foot never halted, something that had always caused her classmates a bit of ire during exams like the ones she was taking now. However, they soon grew used to it, because it was highly unlikely that she would ever stop.

Hope's lip curled back in disdain when she glanced down the Potions Exam that had been assigned to her. Honestly, these questions were too high up! She was almost certain that her year-mates didn't have the same question, but who was she to complain? It wasn't like Snape would get called out for it.

What are the ingredients of a Shrinking Solution and if brewed correctly, what colour should it be and if brewed incorrectly, what colour and state should it be?

She sucked on the edge of her quill, pondering that one. The Shrinking Solution wasn't even in the First Year Syllabus, but Hope actually liked Potions –it was just like cooking, if you ignored the instructor–, so naturally she would have looked ahead.

The known ingredients of the Shrinking Solution include: minced daisy roots, peeled Shrivelfig, sliced caterpillars, rat spleen, leech juice, cowbane, and wormwood. If brewed correctly, the potion turns a bright green colour. If brewed incorrectly, it turns orange and can be highly poisonous.

The questions that followed were remarkably similar, which was good, because Hope excelled at memorization, if nothing else.

It must have been at least three hours later when she finally put her quill down and turned in every –blasted– piece of parchment and bidding her professor goodbye and limping out of the room with a relieved smile.

The corridors were practically empty, which wasn't too surprising, as it had been a Hogsmeade weekend (though the Laughing Gas and Co had too much homework that they couldn't go, or so they said) and most of the upper years were gone.

So she had been very surprised when a voice called out "Potter?"

Almost involuntarily, she stiffened, only relaxing minutely to turn towards the owner of the voice –a voice she wasn't sure that she recognized. She turned swiftly on the heel of her good leg to scrutinize the speaker.

There were two of them, both boys, both wearing the black and yellow tie of Hufflepuff. The one who had spoken couldn't have been older than Fred or George. His eyes were a startling grey, and paired with the dark brown of his hair, she remembered him first as the boy who she had followed through to the train platform and then as the Hufflepuff Seeker. The second was rather plain in comparison with straw coloured hair and dark eyes.

"May I help you?" she asked in a clipped tone that she had copied –quite expertly– from Professor McGonagall. She didn't bother hiding the smirk when they both shifted uncomfortably.

The one with chiselled features spoke first, Cedric Diggory, as he had been the speaker to begin with, seeming incredibly nervous about something as Hope watched on a bit bemused. "Er…my name's Cedric Diggory, and this is Anthony Rickett…"

She blinked staring at them oddly.

"It was my Bludger!" The younger one, Anthony, burst out suddenly. "It's my fault you were in the hospital!" He sounded so beside himself that Hope wasn't quite sure how to respond.

At long last, she sighed, tightening her grip on the cane as she did so. Her eyes met Cedric's briefly. "Would mind giving us a few minutes?"

Curiosity coloured his pale eyes, but surprisingly not suspicion, which was something. Cedric had barely left when Hope spoke again, making the boy flinch. She wasn't that scary, was she?

"I would have thought the other professors would have told you by now," she said, speaking slowly with a distinct frown on her face. "That the bat you were holding was charmed so that any Bludger you hit would aim towards me." She remembered ducking the first one, with no time for the second.

"They did," he admitted, his cheeks such a deep beet red, "but…"

Her eyes softened minimally and a small smile lit her face. "You Hufflepuffs…too honourable."

His head shot up instantly, his mouth open to refute the insult, until he saw the look on her face.

She chuckled lightly. "Don't worry about it, it wasn't your fault."

And then she limped away from him, linking her arm around George Weasley's as he bounded up the stairs, free from a detention with Snape. Anthony could see his wild gestures from where he stood and hear her bright laughter.

Poor Hope had no way of knowing that Cedric later tracked down Fred (who was conveniently in charge of the Hope-George Betting Pool) to tell him "Five galleons on second year."

The foxy grin on his face was enough to earn him a wary glance from Hope, who subsequently treaded lightly around him for the next few weeks, for fear of a prank. The fact that one hadn't occurred caused her to be even more paranoid, much to his humour.

"What d'you mean Hagrid's got a dragon?!" Hope all but yelped before Hermione and Ron could shush her. Her appalled expression was perfect: mouth gaping, eyes so wide that it was almost comical. It would have been comical if she hadn't been so horrified. "When did this happen?"

"Er…" Her two friends shared uneasy glances. "Well, we just found out about it a few days ago."

"Wherever did he get it?" she demanded.

Ron took over from there. "Er…he said he won it off of a stranger in a game of cards."

"He's bloody mental," Hope decided, still thunderstruck. "Do you think he knows that dragons breathe fire and he lives in a wooden house?!"

"I don't think it's dawned on him yet," Hermione offered helpfully.

"Of course not," Hope grumbled crossing her arms. "What on earth is he thinking?"

This whole conversation was one of many concerning dragons and their foolish friend. Over the next few days, they theorized if it was indeed possible to raise a dragon in secrecy within a wooden house. The answer was rather obvious: No. It was a terrible idea, they all had to agree.

"I wonder what it's like living a peaceful life," Ron wondered mournfully not three days after their initial explanation to Hope.

"Probably very boring," Hope said with a yawn, her drooping eyes fastened on the text in her Charms book which she had propped up against the pumpkin juice jug. The amount of homework was unbelievable, but Hope still had make up what she missed (something everyone agreed was totally unfair), thus amounting to many sleepless nights. She had taken to sleeping most of her weekends away. "And I hate boring."

"You would have to," Ron mumbled under his breath, "to put up with Fred and George for so long."

Hermione giggled, but Hope –who had missed the mumble– looked confused, blinking furiously at him. "Did you say something?"

"Me? Nope," Ron disagreed quickly, earning a suspicious stare.

Hope opened her mouth to say something, probably a few choice crude words, but Ron was saved by Hedwig who swooped down to deliver a small note.

Her face fell as she read it before showing it to them, and the smiles slid from their faces at the two words scrawled hastily onto the parchment: It's hatching.

Now Hagrid was really going to be in trouble. How exactly did one go about sneaking a dragon off to a dragon reserve when it was out of its shell?

Ron, of course, was all for going down to see it as opposed to attending Herbology class, but neither Hope nor Hermione would hear of it. Hermione, for academic reasons, Hope for…

"If you don't show up to class and your best friends don't and you don't have a plausible excuse, then people will know you're up to something," Hope advised calmly.

"I suppose you would know," Ron admitted grudgingly.

"Of course," Hope said in faux-haughtiness. "I'm the thief, remember? Always have an exit plan."

"I keep forgetting that you used to steal!" Hermione burst out, a little louder than she had intended. "You had something with locks, right?"

Hope's eyebrows raised, her eyes shifting upwards to bring attention to the black pins in her hair (contrasting with the strand of green and blue beaded lock of hair). "Something like that. It's very bad for you; I'm trying to give it up."

"You say that like it's an addiction," Hermione said in a deadpan.

"I suppose it is," Hope mused aloud as they turned the corner. As she did so, her gaze shifted out of the corner of her eye, where she could see Malfoy lurking in the shadows. She frowned, instantly suspicious. "Let's talk about this later, alright?"

Once they heard the steely edge of her voice, they agreed instantly, but only after Hermione conceded to Ron to run down and visit Hagrid once lunch came around.

However, once Hope found herself opposite the large egg with deep an obvious cracks appearing on the shell and listening to the strange clicking noises from within, she was beginning to think that it wasn't such a good idea. It wasn't that she had something against dragons –they were incredibly fascinating creatures– only that this was one that was coming into a world surrounded by creatures that weren't dragons and didn't know the first thing about taking care of a baby dragon (Hagrid didn't count because his knowledge that he had obtained from the school library was minimal at best). What if it reacted violently? Hope couldn't help but worry.

She was distracted rather suddenly from her worries when a loud scraping noise came from inside the egg which then cracked open, revealing the baby dragon. Hope wasn't quite sure if she'd seen anything like it.

It was very ugly, was what she meant. (Meaning that it took an awful lot after Dudley, she couldn't help but think.) It was midnight black with the vague appearance of a crumpled umbrella that gave Hope the desire to straighten it out. Its eyes were orange and flickering about the cabin, with a long nose and tiny little horns protruding from its small head.

Its head reared back quite suddenly as it sneezed, dislodging a few orange sparks from its snout.

"Isn't he beautiful?" Hagrid said in a voice so affectionate that Hope couldn't help but stare. She opened her mouth to say something –she wasn't quite sure what– when Hagrid reached out a hand, intending –no doubt– to stroke the beast's head, but it only snapped at his fingers, probably thinking they were something to eat.

"Bless him," Hagrid chortled, "look, he knows his mommy!"

Hope caught Hermione's eye and was incredibly glad that she wasn't the only one who thought he sounded ridiculous.

"Hagrid," Hermione said, her voice a little strained, "how fast do Norwegian Ridgebacks grow, exactly?"

Hagrid opened his mouth to tell her, possibly, when his face suddenly turned the colour of sour milk, as he moved quickly to the window, seeing something the three students had missed.

"What is it?"

"Someone was lookin' through the gap in the curtains – it's a kid – he's runnin' back up ter the school."

Hope looked out the window as well, her eyes narrowing as she saw Draco Malfoy's light hair disappearing into the courtyard. Now they really were in trouble.

By the end of the week Hope was convinced they should get rid of it, but Hagrid wouldn't hear of it. It seemed he was beyond the point of reasoning as they visited him on a Friday. And it was then that Hope thought of something rather brilliant, if she said so herself. Ron's older brother Charlie worked with dragons on a dragon reserve. His superiors wouldn't think too much was amiss if a rare breed suddenly appeared in Romania, especially since it happened at times –if that small article they had found was to be believed. It only took them a few days to get Charlie's reply:

Dear Ron,

How are you? Thanks for the letter – I'd be glad to take the Norwegian Ridgeback, but it won't be easy getting him here. I think the best thing will be to send him over with some friends of mine who are coming to visit me next week. Trouble is, they mustn't be seen carrying an illegal dragon, though your friend is right about how some of the rare dragons come here.

Could you get the Ridgeback up the tallest tower at midnight on Saturday? They can meet you there and take him away while it's still dark.

Send me an answer as soon as possible.

Love, Charlie

The plan would have been prefect, if not for several kinks along the way, such as Ron's new injury. The youngest Weasley male had taken to visiting Hagrid, helping him with Norbert, as he had now named him. It was nice of him, if he hadn't been bitten by the dragon for his trouble ("When it bit me he told me off for frightening it! And when I left, he was singing it a lullaby!"). And the next day it had swollen and bloated, turning a shade of green and being so numb that he had to go to Madam Pomfrey.

Of course, she didn't believe him when he told her a dog bit him, but she didn't press the issue. Perhaps it was that she was far too used to students getting into trouble and then lying about it. And then Malfoy added more to the chaos by "borrowing" Ron's book which conveniently had Charlie's letter in it.

The plan was unravelling, so Hope had to use some drastic measures.

Her hand closed around George's wrist. "Fred, d'you mind if I borrow your twin for a moment? I've got something I need to talk with him about."

Both of the twins blinked at roughly the same time, staring at her for a few seconds, before Fred said, "Er…alrigh-" He hadn't even finished talking when Hope began to drag the third year away.

"I need your help," she said seriously when they were alone. "And it's highly illegal."

"How illegal?" George asked, furrowing his eyebrows together (gods, that was adorable; Hope wished she had a camera).

"Well," Hope said dryly, tugging on her beaded strand of hair, "it involves a dragon; use your imagination."

Eventually, the whole story came out, and Hope talked so much that her throat felt like sandpaper by the end of it.

"So, Hagrid has a dragon and you lot are trying to get rid of it by sending it off with some friends of Charlie's?" he asked finally, his voice strangely high pitched.

"That's the gist of it, yeah," Hope agreed, tapping her foot lightly on the ground, watching his reaction carefully. He seemed strangely closed off. "George? Are you alright?"

"Yeah, fine…it's just, first a troll, now a dragon? You don't ever take the easy road, do you, Potter?" He said with a shaky smile.

"Danger and trouble follow me constantly," Hope said with an amused grin, leaning forward with a devilish smile that made George worry. "Now, are you going to help me or not?"

George wasn't sure how, but somehow he had been convinced by a short, red-haired, stubborn, snarky, unyielding first year into illegal activities. Of course, George couldn't keep any secrets from Fred, so by the end of the night, he knew as well. And he had to be threatened within an inch of his life to keep his silence (Hope still had her cane to whack him with, and it was quite the weapon, if you will recall), which he did.

Hermione felt a little better about having one of the twins help, mostly because she was worried that it wouldn't work, which it would, Hope kept telling her.

So, Saturday night found Hope and George holding the crate that held Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback on opposite sides, mounted on their brooms and preparing to push off from the ground.

"Fred'll watch for anyone," he whispered to her, "just in case…you know."

Hope nodded, swallowing thickly. "I know. Ready?"

"When you are." He grinned as she rolled her eyes, pushing off gently from the ground, until they both hovered side by side with the crate making some suspicious ripping sounds (no doubt the dragon was dismembering the teddy bear that Hagrid had packed with it). "Up we go."

Getting up to the tower via broomstick was much easier than using the various staircases, Hope had to admit as she steadied her broom with careful precision. It had been Fred's idea, actually, who had said it completely as a joke, but somehow had been turned into this.

The tower was very high up, if one didn't know, and by the time they had actually touched down again, Hope's heart was still beating rather rapidly against her ribs and her arm felt like lead.

"Alright?" George asked as he watched her wring out her arm once they'd set the crate down.

"Fine," Hope muttered, "just pins and needles, that's all." She rolled her eyes at his half grin. "Oh, like you don't feel the same."

His grin spread, encompassing his face. "Oh I don't, I'm all brawn, you know." He gestured to his arms, making the slight muscle bulge and look far bigger than they were.

"And no brains, it seems," she said with a small giggle at the pout he gave her.

"Ah, but you're the brains of the operation," he said cheekily.

"And you're the flirt," she retorted, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear as it had flown up and into her eyes by the wind. "How on earth do you ever get anything done?"

"I have skills," he said in a lazy manner that made her bite her lip to keep from laughing aloud. "Oh, look, there they are."

Hope was a little surprised by how cheerful the small group was, considering that what they were doing was incredibly illegal. George knew one or two of them, but the rest were strangers.

"Thanks so much for doing this," Hope said gratefully once they'd buckled the crate into the harness they had made for it before hand. "I know it's not really…"

"It's no problem," the oldest one assured her, "trust me, this isn't the strangest request Charlie's given us." They all shared a private laugh, though George looked as if he wanted to find out what exactly was the strangest thing his brother had asked of his friends.

They gave one last goodbye as they all shook the pair's hands and went on their way.

"Interesting night," George commented mildly, looping his broom over his shoulder.

"That's a word for it," Hope muttered, pulling her invisibility cloak from out from under her shirt and beckoning him downwards. "Bend over, George, you're too tall."

"Too tall for what?" he asked, befuddled as she threw her cloak over them, making them disappear entirely. "What-?"

"I'm a woman of mystery," Hope said smugly, wishing she had her camera to take a picture of his complete and utter shock.

And that simple act was all that spared them from a fate of detention with Hope's irritating and annoying "rival", Draco Malfoy. But Hope wouldn't discover that until the next morning when the Malfoy scion glared at her as if hoping to vaporize her with his very eyes.

How unfortunate that Hope was a master of that look and unfazed by other's use of it.

Chapter Text

With Hagrid's crisis averted, Hope, Ron, and Hermione could turn their attention once more towards the Philosopher's Stone. Obviously, it was still under that trap door on the third floor, and still protected by enchantments (as Ron and Hermione had discovered from Hagrid during her brief coma). How long it would remain there, they couldn't be certain.

Either way, Hope wasn't too worried when she went to sleep days after the dragon removal (Ron was still roaring with laughter that they'd managed to not get caught while Draco had detention and a loss of points)…

The first thing she felt was the collision. The pain was ripping through her leg and through her torso as if she was being torn apart. The force of the hit threw her back, landing heavily on the pavement. Her vision shook as if she was moving feverishly back and forth, she couldn't get a clear focus on anything. She could distantly hear the sound of screeching tires and screams of people passing by, but they did nothing to help; the only sound she could be completely certain of was her heartbeat, fading and strengthening at different intervals. The ringing in her ears intensified as she lifted a hand with difficulty, feeling very much like her limbs had turned to stone.

It was covered in a red liquid.


Hope tried her best not to freak out, but how could you not when you were bleeding and in pain in the middle of the road?

The air was getting heavier, thicker, more difficult to breathe in…the world was getting blurrier, and that was before several blobs appeared beside her, lifting her up onto a stretcher, causing pain to jar through her. Then they tried to stanch the flow of her blood from her side, and Hope swore that everything turned white.

"Hope! Hope, stay with me!" The paramedic was trying to keep her awake, keep her alive, but it wasn't working. The lightheaded feeling was spreading from her toes up. "We're losing her!"

Giving up was much easier than she anticipated. There was no one who was going to mourn her death, either way.

And then she was floating, up and away from her body. Freedom…she had never tasted it before. She vanished from the living world, passing into the realm of the dead in barely a second.

When she opened her eyes she was in a foreign place, something that was strange and beautiful and eternity. She wouldn't mind being dead if it meant spending the rest of forever there. Two figures drew her attention from the world. Their faces weren't very definite but Hope could make out that the man had dark unruly hair and the woman looked very much like her.

She took one step forward, towards the pair that had to be her parents, but then the ground crumpled under her feet and she was screaming as she fell until her eyes flew open and all she felt was pain and all she heard was the sound of a steady beep until her world faded to blackness…



Remus Lupin wasn't sure exactly why Albus Dumbledore had asked him to go check out the local hospital in Surrey, but now he knew why. He felt the guilt, and it was justly deserved. If he had…

He looked pained as he stared through the glass wall that the slumbering Hope Potter (age ten, with a bit of stunted growth, it seemed) lay, unaware of the attention she had garnered.

"Are you her father?"

He looked up, startled by the sudden question, to stare at the young nurse whose face was lined with concern. "Oh," he said quietly, "no. I was an old friend of his, but no, I'm not her father."

The woman nodded in understanding. "Do you want to go and sit with her?"

The pained expression was back. "No, I don't think that would be a good idea; she doesn't even know I exist. It's better for me to be as far from her as possible."

"Then why are you here?" the nurse couldn't help but ask. Why say it was better to do things one way and do the opposite?

He didn't respond to that, standing with an aged sort of exhaustion that made her wonder just how old he was. "Would do me a favour?" he said instead. "When she wakes up, tell her Moony's watching over her, alright?"

What a strange request, the nurse had to think as he moved away, leaning heavily on his cane as he did so. And what a strange man…she never even got his name. Still, she did as he had asked and gave her the message upon her awakening, but it seemed to confuse her more than anything.

Hope Potter was in the hospital for an extended amount of time for someone who had only been in a car accident, but then her injuries were a bit extensive. Her leg in particular was heavily damaged. The doctor predicted that she would have walk with the use of a cane for several years at least.

The pain would fade, the doctor assured her, but she was going to need a therapist to help her along the way.

She hadn't been very impressed by that, answering "Only mental kids have therapists, you numpty."

The nurse was more impressed that the doctor had only given the barest of an eye twitch at that mild insult.



The flashes of light and of sounds echoed in her ears and shone like after images behind her closed eyelids which twitched with every image, though they were shaky and not even close to being solid. A blur of colour circled in her sound, mixed with a muddle of voices, words thrown together in ways that Hope couldn't understand. She could feel the pain vibrating through her, just as easily as she could feel the pain leaving her. The world of brightness and tranquillity left to be replaced with darkness.

Her eyes flickered open finally and she almost screamed.

What the ruddy hell was she doing in the forest when she was supposed to be asleep in her bed?! She looked around frantically; of course this would happen to her! In her bed clothes, in the Forbidden Forest, at Hades knows what time! Seriously, whose idea of a joke was this?!

She whirled around, fighting to make a sound other than branches cracking under her feet. In the quiet and in the blackness Hope could see why Dumbledore had warned students away from the forest. As she thought about it, she could still hear his words from the beginning of the year:

"First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils."

It wasn't a wonder why.

She twitched, twisting around at the sound of something moving in the dark. She gulped. Fred and George liked to sneak out here when they were first years, she knew, but why, she still wasn't sure; for all she knew, they could have undiagnosed schizophrenia. Of, course, they had never really run into anything remotely bad, mostly because they'd gotten chased away by Hagrid before they could do much damage.

Unfortunately, damage seemed to be something that Hope excelled at, much to her displeasure.

Well, there was no point in hanging around if she was only going to get attacked by creatures of the dark. And so, she began to take a number of cautious steps in the direction she thought led out of the forest. She had to focus her eyes on the ground rather than her surroundings not one minute later after she almost fell face first into the undergrowth, tripping over a big root that was sticking out the ground. Every so often a thread of moonlight would shine through the branches overhead, but she didn't pay much attention to it until it made contact with something that was a silvery-blue colour.

Ever curious, Hope moved cautiously forward until she was only a couple feet away, and it was then that she stopped dead. Was that some kind of magical animal's blood? She clamped a hand over her mouth, feeling bile rise in her throat.

And then there was the question of what actually bled that colour to begin with.

Hope mentally cursed her curious nature as she followed the nearly invisible trail of blood, barely standing out against the dark leaves that lay crumpled and strewn throughout the forest. She had a very bad feeling, much like before. The blood was now thicker and in larger amounts than before, dripping from jutting roots that Hope had to be very careful to avoid.

Hope jerked herself to a stop as she peered through the branches of an oak tree, gasping aloud at the sight before her.

It was a unicorn. The blood must have come from it as it attempted to escape whatever had attacked it. Hope wasn't sure if she'd seen anything quite so beautiful in all her life, so beautiful and at the same time, so sad. Its legs protruding out at odd angles as though they had broken, or at least tangled with each other as it had fell, with the silvery-white of its mane contrasting brightly with the dark leaves. Was it even alive? It wasn't moving, but maybe—

Hope took one step towards it when she froze rather suddenly. It was a sound that caused to her turn to statue, a sound of something slithering, like a snake, but bigger, much bigger. Oh please say there weren't massive snakes here!

But it wasn't a massive snake, as Hope had believed. The sound came towards a bush on the edge of the clearing that trembled and shook as if someone had stepped on it, and then, the creature came out. Hope held her breath, hoping it wouldn't see her as it crawled across the ground like some half-human, half-snake hybrid (Hades, she hoped there was no such thing). It didn't take long for it to finally reach the unicorn where it lay, and then it did something that made Hope choke on the breath she was holding; it had lowered its head and began to drink the blood pooling from the body.

She took one step back, wincing when her bare foot connected with a branch, making it crack under her weight.

The head jerked up suddenly, fixing her with a stare, even though she couldn't see its face. It was then that she realized that the moonlight had fallen over her, making her almost as obvious as unmoving unicorn. Shite!

It got to its feet (it had feet? Why was it crawling around earlier, then?) and began to move swiftly towards Hope who was rooted to the spot in a mix of horror and morbid curiosity (mostly horror, though).

Then pain exploded around her. It was as if her head had been split open and lit on fire at the same time. The pain was so great that as she stumbled backwards she fell harshly onto her back. The pain did not pass even as she heard the sound of hooves battering against the ground, only leaving her when eighty-three seconds had come and gone. She, exhaustively, proper her elbows into the ground, leaning forwards slightly so that her body was at about a one hundred seventy degree angle.

The hooves belonged to one person, and person was a relative term. He had four hooves that were connected to a horse body, only instead of a horse's neck and head, a human's body was connected to the front. It would have looked a bit like a twisted mix and match, if Hope hadn't been such a mythical nut.

Hope scrambled to come up with words, completely dumbstruck. "You're a-a-a-centaur!"

She hadn't even known they existed outside Greek myths! Oh, she was going to do a lot of reading over the summer…

"I am," the centaur agreed, seeming a little bemused by her reaction as he extended an arm to pull her up. "Are you alright?"

"Er-fine-yes, thank you," she stuttered quickly, "what was that?"

To that question, the centaur seemed to have no answer, instead he simply stared at her with his very pale blue eyes, the twin orbs lingering over her forehead where she was sure the scar stood out angry and red as if burned.

"You are the Potter girl," he said, looking her over, no doubt taking note of the twigs and leaves in her hair and the dirt clinging to her clothing. "You had better get back to the school. The forest is not safe at this time ("No arguments here," Hope muttered) – especially for you. Can you ride? It will be quicker this way." He bent his front legs forward into a sort of half-bow that was low enough for her to clamour on. "My name is Firenze."

"Are you sure?" she asked, slightly suspicious and slightly concerned. Were centaurs even supposed to give humans rides? Somehow, it seemed like a demeaning gesture.

"Completely," he assured her as she hoisted herself onto his back, but before anything else could be done, the sound of more hoofs filled the air and two more centaurs burst into the clearing. They must have been running (galloping, Hope mentally corrected herself) a good bit to be sweaty and out of breath as they were. The one on the right had the body of a chestnut coloured horse, with a tail and hair that was a reddish colour, while the one on the left was completely black –black hair and a black body, looking as though he was part of the darkness itself.

The one that was as black as night spoke first with a voice that echoed in the silence –previous silence. "Firenze! What are you doing? You have a human on your back! Have you no shame? Are you a common mule?"

So, Hope had been correct in guessing that it wasn't a good thing to offer yourself as a ride to a human. It was official; Firenze the Centaur was awesome.

"Do you realize who this is?" said Firenze, ignoring the centaur's crude words. "This is the Potter girl. The quicker she leaves this forest, the better."

Hope wrinkled her forehead in confusion, not quite understanding why it was such a problem for her to be in the forest, well, apart from the obvious, that is.

"What have you been telling her?" the dark one demanded lowly. "Remember, Firenze, we are sworn not to set ourselves against the heavens. Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets?"

His red-haired and red-tailed companion pawed the ground with one of his hooves, betraying his unease. "I'm sure Firenze thought he was acting for the best," he said, speaking in a solemn voice that wouldn't be out of place at a funeral. Depressing sort of bloke, wasn't he?

The dark one's legs lifted and slammed into the ground in anger. "For the best!" His voice echoed loudly, making Hope glance around nervously. "What is that to do with us? Centaurs are concerned with what has been foretold! It is not our business to run around like donkeys after stray humans in our forest!"

Hope frowned a little at that, but wisely kept her mouth shut, and not to seconds later she had to clutch at his shoulders to stay on his back when he reared back suddenly, kicking his front legs up like she'd seen a few horses do on the telly when she was skimming through channels when the Dursleys weren't around.

"Do you not see that unicorn?" Firenze demanded of the dark one. "Do you not understand why it was killed? Or have the planets not let you in on that secret? I set myself against what is lurking in this forest, Bane (So, his name was Bane, was it?), yes, with humans alongside me if I must."

His vehemence seemed to temporarily stun the other two who couldn't even find the words to speak as Firenze turned around and made off through the thicket of branches, only slowing to a walk after there was a good bit of distance between them and the other two.

This finally allowed Hope the opportunity to talk.

"What was it that you saved me from?" she queried, an eyebrow quirking as she ducked under a low hanging branch.

He did not answer that, only offering a different question in its stead. "Hope Potter, do you know what unicorn blood is used for?"

Hope pondered that for a moment. "I thought that using any part of a unicorn other than the tail or horn was strictly forbidden under the Potion Claus—" And she had only read about that because she had been completely bored in St. Mungo's.

"That is because it is a monstrous thing, to slay a unicorn," Firenze said in a solemn voice that quite similar to the one who was with Bane. "Only one who has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, would commit such a crime. The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something pure and defenceless to save yourself, and you will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips."

Oddly enough, it sounded very much like when people were put on life support in muggle hospitals. Technically speaking, they were alive, but at the same time, it was almost as if they were dead at the same time. During Hope's visits to the physical therapist (she always choked a little when she said 'therapist', gods, it was like she was messed up in the head!), she sometimes passed hospital rooms like that. She'd always thought how terrible it would be to decide whether or not your family member should live out their days on a respirator or die painlessly.

"Wouldn't death be better?" she asked. "Why be cursed when you can live however long without being cursed?"

"Death would be better," he agreed with her first words, "unless all you need is to stay alive long enough to drink something else – something that will bring you back to full strength and power – something that will mean you can never die. Miss Potter, do you know what is hidden in the school at this very moment?"

Hope's eyes became the size of dinner plates as realization rippled through her. "Oh! Of course, the Philosopher's Stone can make the Elixir of Life!"

"And can you think of nobody who has waited many years to return to power, who has clung to life, awaiting their chance?" he asked her in such a way that there was only one conclusion to be drawn.

She was reminded of the first time she had asked Hagrid about how her parents died, and, more specifically, who had been the cause of their deaths. "Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die."

The breath was strangled temporarily from her lungs. "You mean Voldemort," she whispered.

"Hope! Hope!"

Hope blinked in surprise as Hermione came vaulting down the path to come to a stop before her and Firenze. It was hard to tell which girl was more surprised.

"Hermione!" Hope said aghast. "What are you doing here?"

"I couldn't find you anywhere!" Hermione said pitifully. "I got worried—"

"And rightly so."

Hope winced at the sound of Professor McGonagall's crisp no-nonsense tone. Crap. She was in so much trouble, and none of it was her fault. Talk about bad luck; she was probably the most unlucky person in existence.

"I know what you're thinking, Professor," Hope said quickly, because that was the only way the strict professor was going to hear her case, "but I was minding my own business –sleeping mind you– and when I woke up, I was here and there are things in there that make weird noises!"

The look on McGonagall's face said that she didn't believe her for a second. Hope could practically feel the weight of the points she was going to lose.

"Accidental apparition…I've never heard of it happening during sleep," McGonagall said finally, making Hope's head jerk up.

The expression on her face was one of horror. She clapped her hands to her cheeks. "Oh, no! I was Flashing!"

"I thought you could only Flash to places you'd been, personally?" Hermione asked, befuddled.

"That's what I thought too," Hope agreed, the pair unaware of the confusion that Professor McGonagall felt, out of the loop of what they were talking. "I've never been anywhere near the Forbidden Forest except when we go visit Hagrid…I dunno how that works, really."

It was when she stopped to ponder this that she realized she was still on Firenze who spoke suddenly, as if to remind her of his presence. "This is where I leave you. You are safe now."

Hope jumped off his back with a movement that jarred her foot. "Thank you, again," she said sincerely, "you saved my life."

"It was no trouble," the centaur said in a rumbling voice that told her how grateful he was that she was grateful of him. "Good luck, Hope Potter. The planets have been read wrongly before now, even by centaurs. I hope this is one of those times."

Those words felt a little more than a bit ominous to Hope who tilted her head upwards to look up at the planets. Only one of them was bright red dot in the sky…Mars, probably, named after the Roman god of war.

"I really didn't mean to end up here, Professor," she swore as they trudged back up to the castle. "And I'm really sorry that you got woken up. Please, please don't take any points!"

She was trying to look as cute as possible, pressing her hands together in front of her lips and making her eyes look rather large.

"I will not take off points…this time," the transfiguration professor warned, "but do try to not make a repeat of tonight, Miss Potter; you have already caused me a large amount of stress."

"Thank you!" Hope cheered.

"However," Professor McGonagall continued, "I want you to write a short essay in the stead of detention."

"Aw!" Hope complained, pouting and making Hermione giggle, but that was just a façade. She was still thinking about what she had seen in the forest. The creature, Voldemort, drinking the unicorn's blood…the very memory of it made her gag. She couldn't imagine falling so low as to drink something like that.

It was much later when Hermione asked her, whispering so that they didn't wake up their dorm mates, "Did you see anything in the forest."

To which Hope had replied with utter surety: "Nothing human."

Chapter Text

The problem with exam week wasn't the exams themselves –gods knew Hope had spent too much time reviewing with Hermione and Ron–, but that it was so bloody hot! She was starting to think that was the point of having exams in June, so that it was too hot for anyone to even think straight. So, it was very much a relief when they left their last exam (History of Magic) to relax on the sunny grounds.

"That was far easier than I thought it would be," Hermione said as they plopped their bodies down onto the grass, soaking in the sun under the willow tree that overlooked the Black Lake. "I needn't have learned about the 1637 Werewolf Code of Conduct or the uprising of Elfric the Eager."

Hope did her best to ignore her friend, massaging her bruised brain. She had definitely over-studied, if that was possible, which it was. And then she had recently been getting a number of frequent stabbing pains in her forehead, making Parvati and Lavender think she had exam nerves since she wasn't sleeping, but it wasn't that. She was just having terrible nightmares that gave her little peace.

The Weasley Twins weren't far off, tickling the Giant Squid, making Hope smile before she frowned, rubbing her forehead, aggravated.

"Hope, go to Madam Pomfrey," Hermione suggested as she watched her friend rub at her forehead until it was bright red. "If it hurts that bad, then go."

"She'll be of no help," Hope said dismissively. "Scars aren't supposed to hurt. Besides…I think it's a warning or something, like danger's coming…"

However, Ron and Hermione didn't share her opinion there, much to her irritation.

"Hope, relax, Hermione's right, the Stone's safe as long as Dumbledore's around." Hope tried not to roll her eyes at how unconcerned Ron was about the stone that could both make you rich and live forever. "Anyways, we've never had any proof Snape found out how to get past Fluffy. He nearly had his leg ripped off once, he's not going to try it again in a hurry. And Neville will play Quidditch for England before Hagrid lets down Dumbledore."

Hope sighed, but conceded that some of that may be true. Then she tugged off her falling-apart converses and her socks, standing up.

"What're you doing now?" Ron asked warily.

Hope winked. "Relaxing." She limped over to where the Twins and Lee (plus the girls who waved at her from a couple meters away) were in the Black Lake. The water was soaking through the pant legs of their uniforms, but they didn't seem to mind.

"Hey, Potter!" George gave her an enthusiastic grin that her heart do cartwheels. "Come to join the fun?"

"I suppose, Weasley, if that's what you call fun," Hope said in a mock-disdainful voice.

"Oh, absolutely," he said with a saucy wink.

"Is the water cold?" Hope continued conversationally, glancing into the shallows.

"Just a little," he said, holding out a hand. "Want to meet the Giant Squid?"

"Is he nice?" she asked, taking his hand.

"Very nice," he assured her, "has a thing for red heads, too."

"Uh-huh," she said sarcastically, taking one cautious step into the water. "Not bad…a little coo-"

"What did you do to your head?"

Warm fingers cradled her forehead in his hands as he inspected the flesh. It was still red from where she had been rubbing it, but the scar was the colour of blood, as if it was still fresh. Irritated, she pulled her face from his hands.

"It's nothing," she insisted, "I'm fine."

The look he gave her told her that he didn't believe that for a second. However, she was spared from the words when someone called off to the side: "For the love of Merlin! Just snog already!"

Both red-heads turned the colour of cherries, but then a flat rock shot out to smack against Lee Jordan's forehead, courtesy of an angry Hope. The throw had enough force that it actually made him fall backwards into the water.

"You. CompleteUtterArse!" Hope seethed. "Get over here so I can kill you!"

Thrown through a loop, Hermione and Ron watched from the sidelines as a water battle ensued.

"Do you think they realize they walk right into those moments?" Hermione asked Ron, slightly amused as Hope tripped and got soaked in water all the way up to her waist.

"I don't think so," Ron said after a moment, "but I think Fred and George think it's hilarious how she reacts. Well, George thinks it's cute, I guess, Fred's the one who finds it the most funny."

Well, no one said they weren't good for comic relief, that was for sure. Alicia and Angelina joined in the fight to even the genders out, when Hope fell into the water, almost submerging her whole body as she shook her wet hair out of her eyes which then fell on Hagrid's Hut, the smoke rising out of the short chimney.

"Of course," she murmured before fighting her way towards Ron and Hermione with a dumbstruck expression on her face, soaked completely to the bone.

"What's wrong?" Hermione asked in confusion.

"I've just thought of something," she said with an insistent tone of voice, though her cheeks were a few shades off of the colour of snow. "We have to go see Hagrid. Right now!"

And then she was hobbling barefoot in the direction of Hagrid's cabin, much to the annoyance of her friends who had to race to catch up with her, which was sad by itself, seeing as she was notorious for being slow.

"Why are we going to see Hagrid?" Hermione gasped once they'd caught up.

"Isn't it just a tiny bit strange that what Hagrid wants more than anything in the world is a pet dragon and some stranger in a pub just happens to have one? I mean, they're a First Class Non-tradable Creature, how many people would go around carrying one in their pocket? A bit lucky, wasn't it that they happened across Hagrid, wasn't it? Why didn't I see it?"

"What are you going on about?" Ron demanded, but she didn't answer him, banging loudly on the door.

Hagrid answered it immediately with a bright grin. "Hullo. Finished yer exams? Got time fer a drink?"

"Ye-" Ron started to say, but Hope cut across him before he could much.

"We can't, we're in a bit of a hurry. Hagrid, you know the night you won Norbert? What did the stranger you were playing against look like?" Hope asked, slightly out of breath, her heart beating frantically in her chest.

"Dunno," Hagrid said with a shrug, "he wouldn't take his cloak off."

Hope was appalled and Ron and Hermione were stunned.

"It's not that unusual," he assured them as best as he could, "yeh get a lot o' funny folk at the Hog's Head – that's one of the pubs down in the village. Mighta bin a dragon dealer, mightn't he? I never saw his face, he kept his hood up."

Oh gods, he wasn't that gullible, was he?

"But when you talked," Hope pressed on, "did you mention Hogwarts at all?"

She watched as his forehead creased into a frown as he tried to recall what had actually been said. "Mighta come up," he admitted. "Yeah…he asked what I did, an' I told him I was gamekeeper here… He asked a bit about the sorta creatures I looked after… so I told him… an' I said what I always really wanted was a dragon… an' then… I can' remember too well, 'cause he kept buyin' me drinks… (Hope gave a quiet groan at that) Let's see…yeah, then he said he had the dragon egg an' we could play cards fer it if I wanted… but he had ter be sure I could handle it, he didn' want it to go ter any old home…So, I told him, after Fluffy, a dragon would be easy…"

"And, the man, was he interested in Fluffy?" Hope asked in a voice that was deathly calm.

"Well," Hagrid seemed a bit surprised by the line of questioning, "yeah – how many three-headed dogs d'yeh meet, even around Hogwarts? So I told him, Fluffy's a piece o' cake if yeh know how to calm him down, jus' play him a bit o' music an' he'll go straight off ter sleep – "

Oh, gods. He knew how to get in. The day had just gone from bad to worse.

It was a complete bloody miracle no one had suspected them of anything, because Hope was pretty sure the three of them looked pretty suspicious. With Dumbledore out of the school and with Snape knowing how to get past Fluffy, the Stone was up for grabs.

After Lee had finally meandered up to bed, Ron had nodded to Hope who then pulled her father's invisibility cloak from under her shirt.

"We'd better put it on here," she said barely higher than a whisper, tucking her wand behind her ear for safe keeping as she held the cloak out, "just in case it doesn't fit over us completely, we wouldn't want anyone to see three pairs of feet wandering about disembodied."

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing, Neville," Hope tried to assure him, but even though her face was convincing, Ron and Hermione's were quite guilty.

"You're sneaking out again," Neville guessed, his eyes turning a little frantic. "You can't go out again! You'll get caught and Gryffindor will be in so much trouble!"

"Neville," Hope said tiredly, "you don't underst-"

"I won't let you!" Neville said, seeming to gather his wits slightly. "I-I'll fight you!"

It would have been comical, if they weren't so pressed for time. Moving faster than Hermione would have dared to think Hope could, Hope had grabbed the heaviest book she could find closest to her and struck it against the base of his skull. Neville crumpled instantly to the floor, boneless.

Ron and Hermione gaped at her.

"What?" she demanded. "We're running low on time."

And they were, so, for once, they didn't complain as Hope threw the cloak over the three of them, making them vanish from visibility. The trek there was as terrifying as the enchantments they knew were ahead. Every step was laced with uncertainty and every breath was weighted with worry. It was almost miraculous when they finally made it to unscathed in their minds.

When they reached the corridor, the door was already open, and seeing it there made the danger they were facing more real.

"You can always go back if you want," she said quietly, "I'll understand if you don't want to-"

"Don't be thick," Ron said.

"Of course, we're coming," Hermione added.

Hope glanced at them, her smile touching her eyes. "You two really are the best mates a girl could have."

Even entering through the door caused noise and through some talented flute tunes, courtesy of Hermione, the beast began to slumber once more.

"I think we'll be able to pull the door open," Ron surmised, looking over Fluffy's back. "Want to go first Hermione?"

The thunderstruck expression on Hermione's face didn't need a translation. Hope and Ron pried the door open.

"It's too dark," Hope whispered, glancing at Ron, "can you see anything?"

"No," the Weasley boy admitted, "just blackness. I don't see a way of climbing down."

"We'll have to drop," Hope said. "I'll go first, shall I?"

Ron nodded mutely.

"If anything happens," Hope continued, trying to keep her voice calm, but Ron and Hermione could hear the tremor, "go to the Owlery and get to Dumbledore. Tell him what's happened."

"Alright," Ron agreed.

"See you in a minute…I hope."

And she scooted so that her legs hung over the side of the trapdoor and with one mighty push, she was freefalling into the shadow. It took only seconds, but Hope felt as though it was longer when she collided with the bottom landing against something that felt a combination of soft and firm. She was instantly suspicious of the softness, but she still called up to her friends that the landing was soft, and they soon followed.

Hope touched it lightly. It felt like a plant…was this one of the challenges? Probably Professor Sprout's, then. Hope could barely make out Hermione who was at least two feet from her, so she jumped when the girl spoke.

"We must be miles beneath the school…"

Hope looked back up to where the trapdoor was, a little surprised that it was so far away. Had they really fallen so far so fast?

"Lucky we had a plant to cushion us," Ron was saying as Hope began to struggle. What the—?!

"Lucky?" Hermione had shrieked. "Look!"

There were thick, snake-like vines already wrapping around Hope and Ron, but Hermione had actually made it to the safe side.

The tight grip on Hope's injured leg was cutting of the blood flow and she could feel her ribs and wrists starting to bruise from how tight the creepers had wound about her body. A tendril had snaked around her neck and her vision was beginning to waver.

"Stop struggling!" Hermione. "This is Devil's Snare! Devil's Snare, Devil's Snare… 'It's deadly fun, but will sulk in the sun!'"

"Then make a fire!" Hope gasped, clawing at her throat.

"But there's no firewood!" Hermione almost wailed.

"HAVE YOU GONE MAD?!" Ron roared, making Hope wince and jump at the sound. "ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?!"

Hermione didn't seem to be able to dignify that with a response and not three seconds later, Hope could feel the vines that had wrapped around her receding, giving her the opportunity to crawl weakly to the wall where Hermione was.

"Oh God!" Hermione said in horror. "Your neck."

Hope flinched as she reached out to touch the bruised flesh. She couldn't see it, but she could imagine how it looked.

"I-I'm fine," she croaked, massaging her throat a little. "We should get going, we've wasted a lot of time as it is."

There was no disagreeing with her there.

For a few moments as they walked down the passage, the only thing they could hear was the steady dripping of water, but then something else echoed in the quiet.

"Is that—?"

What Ron thought it was, Hope never found out, because Hermione had opened the door to the next trial (In the name of Zeus! This was turning into the Labours of Heracles, wasn't it?). The next chamber was a little smaller than the last, but then, it wasn't filled with a massive plant, so that was good. Instead of a plant it was filled small, jewel-encrusted…what a second—

"Are those keys?" Hope asked dumbstruck. "Keys with wings?"

"They can't be," Hermione disagreed, but she looked closer. "On my god, they are!"

"How can keys be winged?" Ron demanded, staring up at them as well.

"Enchanted, probably," Hope wagered, tilting her head as she looked to over to the door opposite them. "One of them must be the key to that door…we probably'll have to catch one."

"Look!" Hermione was pointing into the cloud of metal and wings. "One of the keys! It has a crumpled wing!"

Hope followed her hand, to the key it was pointing at. She was right; one of the keys was having difficulty remaining aloft with its injury and its weight.

"So, what's the plan?" Hermione asked Hope, but she looked back at her friend, she wasn't there. She whirled around in time to see Hope mount one of the broomsticks and launch into the air. If Hermione had been the swearing type, she probably would have uttered a few vulgar words. Why couldn't Hope just think before she acted?

Hope swerved dangerously, looping and turning as all the keys aimed at her as if she was the enemy, but she never lost sight of the blue-winged, silver-coloured key. It was rather quick for having a busted wing, but Hope was faster, and she cornered it against the wall, slamming all of her weight on it, cracking it onto the wall.

She would have felt a little sorry, if the thing was alive, but it wasn't.

"Next time," Hermione said, a little irritated as Hope turned the key in the hole, opening the door, "tell us the plan before hand."

"I'm a think-and-go kind of girl," Hope said with a wink as they entered the next chamber. "Oh, please tell me the next one's how to cross a darkened room without light, I'm really good at that."

Ron wasn't sure he wanted to know why she was good at seeing in the dark. He took one cautious step forward, and then they all had to blink quickly, the light catching them all by surprise.

"Oh…" Hope said a little weakly. "Er…guys, this really isn't my forte."

The light above had revealed a massive chessboard set with just as huge chess pieces.

"Lucky thing it's mine, then," Ron said from off to the side. "Do you think we have to play our way across?"

"Probably," Hermione said weakly, gesturing past the white pieces on the opposite side of the board, "there's the door."

It was short work for the three of them to find their own spots on the board. Ron was a knight, Hermione a castle, and Hope was a bishop. And then the game began.

Hope had never quite remembered playing a game of chess where the stakes were so high. It didn't really hit them that this game of chess was exactly like wizard's chess, until the white queen slashed her sword through the other black knight.

"Ron, not to question your skills or anything," Hope said shakily, looking over to her red haired friend who was now so pale that he almost looked like one of the white pieces, "but you do know what you're doing, right?"

"Y-yeah," Ron said weakly, "don't worry Hope. This is what I'm good at. Hermione, take the bishop."

Still, he seemed to get so into the game that three times he almost missed that Hope and Hermione were in striking distance. That was the thing that worried Hope the most, and one look at Hermione told her that she was just as terrified. This was one area Hope did not excel at, but even she could see that there were only a few moves left to make, and none without losing a piece, and there was only one that's loss would give them the win.

"I've got to be taken," Ron said in the same blunt manner that Hope sometimes adopted.

"NO!" cried Hermione.

"That's a bad idea," Hope agreed, conflicting emotions warring on her face.

"Some pieces have to be sacrificed!" Ron yelled back to them. "Once I make my move, that leaves you free to check the king, Hope!"

Hope opened her mouth to say something, but then Ron's eyes met hers, and the words were strangled from her lips. It was strange to think how alike Ron and George's eyes were and yet different at the same time. There was a pale fire burning in his eyes; determination.

She gave a jerky nod.

Hope had to throw up her arms when the queen struck her friend, sending him tumbling to the ground where he moved no more. Vaguely, she thought that this must have been what it was like for Ron and Hermione when that Bludger hit her in the Gryffindor-Hufflepuff game.

And then she made the final move. Three spaces to the left.

Hope tilted her head back to survey the white king. "Check mate," she intoned duly and the king dropped his crown from his temple to the space before her feet. And then Hope and Hermione were gone from their spaces and at Ron's side in seconds.

Hope moved Ron's head slightly away from her so she could survey the damage.

"Is it bad?" Hermione whimpered.

"There's no blood," Hope noticed, "it's just a nasty bruise. He'll be fine, but we have to get going. We'll come back for him."

Hermione looked as though she wanted to say something, but then she changed her mind, linking hands with Hope and entering the next door.

Luckily for them, that trial had already been taken care of, if the unconscious troll was anything to go by. However, the next one was not. As soon as they had stepped through the door, eerie purple flames had erupted behind them, ensuring that they were trapped in the room with a table holding a row of potions.

"Let's get this over with," Hope grumbled as they came up to stand before the table and read the contents of the parchment that lay beside the row.

Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,

Two of us will help you, whichever you would find,

One among us seven will let you move ahead,

Another will transport the drinker back instead,

Two among our number hold only nettle wine,

Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in a line.

Choose, unless you wish to stay here for evermore,

To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:

First, however slyly the poison tries to hide,

You will always find some on nettle wine's left side;

Second, different are those that stand at either end,

But if you would move onwards, neither is your friend;

Third, as you see clearly, all are different sizes,

Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;

Fourth, the second on the left and the second on the right,

Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.

"A riddle," Hope said in relief, "oh, I'm good at riddles. Shall we?"

Hermione nodded, looking a bit relieved at being able to use her cleverness in a logic puzzle.

"Okay," Hope said, cracking her knuckled. "So the second on the left and the second on the right can either be poison or nettle wine, right? But the second on the right is the 'giant' so it has to be nettle wine." She moved those two back, still in position, but behind the rest.

"And poison can be found on the wine's left side," Hermione added, "so…" She moved back the bottle furthest to the left and the green pyramid-shaped bottle.

"The blue one has to take you forward," Hope added, lifting the little light blue bottle into the air, inspecting its contents, "because its already been used."

"And the purple one on the right has to take you back," Hermione continued, lifting it up, impressed by their combined brilliance.

Hope glanced into the blue bottle. There wasn't much left, only enough for one person. So, being the reckless, noble git Hermione would later claim she was, she downed it in a gulp and rushed through the blazing fire even as she heard her friend cry out her name.

The last chamber was occupied by the person who had been her second suspect after Snape himself (honestly, he was in too many places at the wrong time and was too jittery…or maybe she was just being judgmental.

"So," she said remarkably coolly and calmly, "it was you after all."

The turban-wearing man turned from the mirror (wasn't that the Mirror of Erised? What was it doing here?), to face her. Quirrel no longer seemed to by the twitching mess he always was during school.

"Me," he said with scorn, "now, tell me, Miss Potter, what was it that gave me away?"

"You gave me a bad feeling," Hope said bluntly, "and you're terrible teacher."

His lips curled into a sneer, making Hope feel silently pleased that she still excelled at being an irritating bitch.

"You spelled my broom to throw me off," she continued frigidly, "and when that didn't work, you made sure that Bludger would hit its mark."

"It was a pity none of those killed you," Quirrel told her, "but it matters not, because I'm going to kill you tonight."

With a snap of his fingers, ropes appeared out of nowhere, tightly binding Hope where she stood. She strained against them, wincing as they pressed into her bruised skin. "I am trying very hard not to see this as kinky," she muttered to herself, flexing her wrists and grimacing.

"You're too nosy to live, Potter," Quirrel continued, as if he hadn't heard her comment, which he might not have. "Scurrying around the school at Halloween like that with your miserable little friends, for all I knew your friend Ron seen me coming to look at what was guarding the Stone."

"Us give me too much credit," Hope said snidely, her rings digging into her fingers.

"Or you don't give yourselves enough," Quirrell said absently, turning away from the bound first year to gaze upon the Mirror. "Now, wait quietly, Potter. I need to examine this interesting mirror."

Hope made an irritated huff that was ignored.

"This mirror is the key to finding the Stone," Quirrell murmured to himself, his fingers brushing over the arched frame, as if searching for some secret compartment. "Trust Dumbledore to come up with something like this…but he's in London…I'll be far away by the time he gets back…"

Hope frowned, peering intently at the back of his turban. Was it just her or was something moving under the cloth?

"I see the Stone…I'm presenting it to my master…but where is it?"

"First sign of insanity," Hope sang behind him, "talking to yourself."

"Can you be more annoying?" the man snapped, turning to glare at her, but she was unfazed.

"Oh, absolutely," Hope said, nodding seriously, "this is just the tip of the iceberg, I can bitch all night."

He made a derisive noise as he turned back to the mirror, missing Hope sticking her tongue out at him.

"You were my second choice," Hope said as he continued ignoring her, "after Snape."

"He does seem the type, doesn't he?" Quirrell sneered. "He's always hated you. He was at Hogwarts with your father, didn't you know? They loathed each other. But he never wanted you dead."

"Such a comforting thought," Hope said dryly, rolling her eyes as Quirrell cursed.

"I don't understand…is the Stone inside the mirror? Should I break it?"

"Well," Hope said contemplatively, even though he wasn't really talking to her, "if you do break it and it's not there, that's all on you."

"Will you shut up!" Quirrell commanded venomously. "What does this mirror do? How does it work? Help me, Master!"

Hope opened her mouth to add in something rather derogatory, but then her heart stopped completely when a voice came from within that wrapped turban.

"Use the girl…Use the girl…"

Hope was released from the ropes and dragged forward until she was before the mirror, her legs so numb that she almost fell over.

"Look in the mirror and tell me what you see."

Hope felt as though her tongue had been glued to the bottom of her mouth and her heart beat frantically against her chest.

It was the second image that she had seen when she had found the mirror the first time around. The little red-haired boy was smiling just as brightly as before, laughing without sound as his mother lifted him into the air, twirling him around. Hope lifted a hand to press against the surface of the glass as her older self turned to look at her, pressing a kiss to her son's forehead.

And then she held out a red stone to Hope with an amused grin, winking as she slipped it into her pocket. And Hope could feel it in her own pocket!

"Well?" Quirrell snapped with impatience. "What do you see?"

It was such an intensely private moment that Hope didn't feel fear at all when she turned and spat angrily. "Go fuck yourself."

She saw that slap coming a mile away, but that wasn't going to stop her, and she collided harshly with the ground.

"That was pathetic," she growled as she pushed herself up off of the ground, her cheek throbbing, "my cousin can hit harder than-"

His foot collided with her rib and she was pretty sure she felt it crack as pain blossomed through her side, leaving her choking on pain.

"Tell me!" he yelled. "What did you see?!"

The high voice from his turban spoke once more. "Let me speak to her…face-to-face…"

That idea seemed to make Quirrell very nervous. "Master, you are not strong enough!"

"I have strength enough…for this…"

Hope pushed herself off the ground again as Quirrell unwound the turban and turned so that his back was to her.

Hope's mouth opened in horror and she was certain that she would have screamed if she could have, but she was once again rendered incapable of speech. Where the back of the head should have been smooth, a face had risen out of the flesh. It was chalk white with red eyes that had her frozen in fear and instead of a nose, it had slits like a snake.

"Hope Potter…" the face rasped, sending a bad shiver down her spine. "See what I have become? Mere shadow and vapor…I have form only when I can share another's body…but there have always been those willing to let me into their hearts and minds…Unicorn blood has strengthened me, these past weeks…you saw faithful Quirrell drinking it for me in the forest…and once I have the Elixir of Life, I will be able to create a body of my own…Now…why don't you give me that Stone in your pocket?"

Hope's heart beat frantically, her blood surging in her veins as she pulled out her wand and pointed and made a quick jab, causing the stone floor a foot or two from Voldy-Quirrell to explode, giving Hope the opportunity to scramble to her feet and limp towards the flame door.


Hope screamed as Quirrell grabbed her from behind, tugging her back.

"Let me go!" she screamed, battering her fists against his hands, her pain amplified by his arms hitting against that damaged rib and her scar exploding in almost blinding agony. She raised a hand to strike at his face from behind her, and it was only then that he released her, and she fell, crumpling into a heap in a haze of pain, the world fading into blackness.

And then she knew no more.

Chapter Text

She could hear a steady thrum of voices that her head was too hazy to identify. Some were quiet, some were loud, but she really couldn't be bothered; she was just so tired and whatever she was sleeping on was just so soft…

But the sleep was fading on fast wings and finally her eyes fluttered open to see a pair of deep blue eyes.

"You are in big trouble, missie," George said as she gave him a sleepy smile.

"Whatever for?" she murmured in amusement, rolling back her shoulders.

"The Quidditch match against Ravenclaw's tomorrow," George grinned, "and Wood's beside himself."

She chuckled lightly. "That doesn't surprise me…how bad am I?"

"Now?" George helped her hold the cup of water that had been set beside her on the bedside table and take a long drink. "You're pretty much healed, but when you came in?" He screwed up his eyes, trying to recall the list of injuries Madam Pomfrey had given McGonagall and Dumbledore. "Cracked rib, bruised limbs, a couple scratches…not too bad, considering your track record."

"Cute," she said dryly, sitting up in the bed, running a hand through her loose hair, "your bedside manner is so wonderful, Georgie." She patted his cheek, amusing herself at how it flushed at the touch. "How are Ron and Hermione?"

"As right as rain," a different voice answered her as Angelina sat down beside her. "Their injuries weren't as…extensive…as yours, so they've been healed up for awhile. Fred's making sure they get some food." Angelina's careful eyes looked over her healed body. "I'm glad you're awake," she added with a grin, "you've had a lot of us worried."

"As usual," George coughed, earning a glare from Hope.

"Don't be such an arse, George Fabian Weasley," Hope said, rolling her eyes at him in disdain. "Saving the world is hard work."

She gaze shifted to the end of the bed and she goggled at the large pile of gifts and sweets that lay there. "Whoa. What's all this for?"

"Saving the world?" George mocked. "The rumour mill's been bursting since the three of you had your little adventure…I almost wanted to send a letter home to tell Mum what Ron's been up to just to see how much punishment he'd get."

"George," they both said reproachfully, chastising the boy.

"How did I get here?" Hope added, looking around the hospital wing, "the last thing I remember was falling in the…wherever I was."

"Oh, I heard some of the professors talking about that," Angelina said brightly, pleased that she had answer. "Apparently one of the suits of armor carried you out. They were surprised by the amount of devotion it paid you."

"So it was Michael," Hope mused to herself, smiling fondly, "that idiot won't leave me alone."

"Who's Michael?" George asked suspiciously, but Hope just waved off his concerns.

"Sir Michael Richmond was young in the tenth century, George," Hope admonished, "he was once allied with my great –gods knows how many– grandfather. He tries to keep an eye on me, keep me from causing too much trouble."

"Not very successful, is he?" Angelina said with a grin.

Hope shrugged her stiff shoulders. "Well, I have told him to not interfere with my life, so… I'm surprised he even came and got me from that chamber…or how he even got there."

She frowned at that, a little befuddled, until Madam Pomfrey came out of her office. "Poppy! Did you miss me?"

The Matron clicked her tongue in irritation as she had her patient lay back down so she could run another diagnostic spell over her. "Not particularly, Miss Potter, I was growing so used to having all the beds in my ward empty, but then, I should have expected this…you and trouble go hand in hand."

"You know, I always thought 'Trouble' was your nickname for this bloke," Hope said with a laugh, jutting her thumb towards George who blinked and rolled his eyes, remembering what she had told him about 'Trouble' before her first Quidditch match.

"Not quite," Madam Pomfrey said in amusement.

"Hm," Hope appraised George with her eyes, "you look highly troublesome, George; I can see why we're friends."

A pale flush rose on his cheeks and he looked to Madam Pomfrey, a bit at a loss of words.

Madam Pomfrey mouthed "That's the potions talking."


Hope twisted her head from side to side, making it crack. "Gods, I can't stand hospitals. When am I getting out of here?"

"Soon," Madam Pomfrey promised, "but your muscles are going to be a little sore either way."

"Well," Hope said dryly, "isn't that just lovely." One of the fingers of her hand tapped across the arm of the opposite one as she frowned thoughtfully. The last thing she remembered was Quirrell's screaming, clutching at the body parts her skin had touched (namely the face and hands). It was almost as if her touch had been like hydrochloric acid to him, but she'd touched other people loads of times, like when she hugged her friends or like when she just patted George's cheeks. Her touch hadn't affected them, and Quirrell had shied away from her hand the first time they met too, in Diagon Alley, when she'd offered her hand for a shake. So it must have only affected him…or Voldemort. But why wouldn't Voldemort be able to touch her? It was all a bit strange, if you asked her (and even if you didn't).

"Hope?" Madam Pomfrey was looking at her in concern. "Are you alright? You just zoned out a bit."

"Oh," Hope said quickly, "don't worry, I was just thinking."

"Maybe that is a worrying thought," Angelina teased, standing up. "I'd better go tell Ron and Hermione you're awake…and we only just forced them to get some breakfast too." She sighed mournfully as she left, ruffling Hope's hair in a sisterly fashion that made the younger girl smile.

"Am I going to be free by tomorrow?" Hope asked Madam Pomfrey as she replaced her wand in her pocket.

"Worried about disappointing your House?" she asked.

"Worried about disappointing Oliver Wood," Hope corrected, winking to George who grinned, "I'm afraid he might drown himself in his sorrows if I don't show up."

Madam Pomfrey actually cracked a smile at that, and Hope knew there was hope.

Oliver Wood looked caught between crying and kissing Hope when he saw her dressed in full Quidditch gear awaiting them in the Gryffindor changing rooms, complete with a bright smile.

"Oh, don't give me that look, Oliver," she admonished of the boy, looping her broom over her shoulder. "We haven't won the Cup yet." Her eyes sparked with life. "But don't worry, we will."

Hope's enthusiasm was infectious that the rest of the team couldn't help but feel optimistic.

For Hope, this would be the first time she was on a broom where something (or someone) wasn't going to try to get her killed. It was great! She couldn't wait to feel sun on her face and the wind whipping her hair with every move.

She looked up from struggling to tighten her arm guards to find George gazing at her fondly. Flushed, she tucked a lock of hair behind her eyes, making her new beads more obvious (she'd braided them red and gold for the occasion). "What?"

"I just don't think I've seen you smile so much before," he admitted.

Her grin widened. "Oh, I disagree…I must say I never smiled so much until I met you."

His smile became a tad roguish. "Now don't go getting sentimental on me, Potter, I had such high hopes for you."

"Shut up," she said, rolling her eyes in good humour, bouncing back and forth on the balls of her feet, jittery with excitement before they finally made their way out onto the field amidst raucous cheering. The sea of red and blue made her blink a few times before her attention was drawn to the Ravenclaw Seeker.

She had never played against Cho Chang, but Oliver had drilled it into her to "know your opponent". She knew that the girl had a fondness of tailing others as opposed to actually doing the seeking, but she was light enough that she could out-fly her opponents. Unfortunately for her, this was not her lucky day, because Hope had both the eyes for it and the speed. She didn't bother hiding the smirk; she hoped it unnerved her.

Cho was a second year, she believed. She was a pretty Asian girl who had to be at least a little smart to have been sorted into Ravenclaw, but other than that, Hope knew nothing about her. As sad as it was, other Houses rarely associated with those outside their own; cross-House relationships were much fewer than ones within the same House. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with it, it was just that those that were in the same House saw more of each other than they did of anyone else.

Besides, Cho had always come off as a smarter and Chinese version of Parvati or Lavender, being far too giggly. Gods, she hadn't ever thought there was such a thing.

The whistle blew and the fourteen players pushed off from the ground.

"And a warm welcome back to Hope Potter after her little adventure out of bounds!" Lee Jordan was saying from the microphone. "Hoping for a win for Gryffindor today, no offense to you ravens!"

But Hope wasn't too surprised that they took offense, really, Lee was such a charmer. He had thought he was being clever when he brought in flowers that had had letters on the side spelling out "S-N-O-G G-E-O-R-G-E", she'd given him a very nice slap for that.

Hope spun her broom backwards so she could avoid the Quaffle that had been thrown towards her head. Honestly, everyone loved aiming at her head, didn't they? Unluckily, the movement turned in the favour for Gryffindor as Katie caught the large red ball and went speeding towards the opposite end of the field, giving Hope the chance to circle the pitch, searching for that flash of gold, but it was nowhere to be seen.

She glanced back, her face tinged with annoyance at the girl who was following her closely.

Cho waved.

Hope rolled her eyes, attempting to increase her speed so that she would lose her, but the girl was wily.

"And the Seekers seem to have engaged in a flight version of tag…"

Hope shot downwards into a dive, a very steep dive, before pulling up just as abruptly, pleasing herself with seeing how much force Cho had to exert to right her broom before she could get ploughed. She sniggered, a pleased smirk plastered across her face.

"Yet another reason why tailing the Gryffindor Seeker is a bad idea for people who don't want to end up in the hospital…"

Professor McGonagall couldn't help but feel a bit nostalgic when she saw that smirk, the superior smirk that James Potter had always worn. Even though she and Hope had had that talk about not comparing her to her parents, she just couldn't help it, they were just so alike. But that wasn't to say that Hope was arrogant, maybe confident, but not overly so. She wasn't much of a flaunter unless it was in a joking manner.

Hope looped through the air, high-fiving Alicia in the air as she went back to circling the pitch, her eyes intent on any flash of gold.

She must have caught sight of it –and they were only about a half hour into the game; not as impressive as the last one where she had caught the Snitch in under five minutes, but still– because then she was hurtling in the opposite direction, Cho closely following her, frantically trying to keep up, but Hope had the upper ground (speaking figuratively). She was outstretching her hand towards something that Professor McGonagall could hardly see, and then she pulled up. A bright, beaming grin was spread across her face as she waved her closed fist in the air, the silver wings fluttering weakly.

To say the crowd went wild would be an understatement. It was the first time in several years that Slytherin hadn't won the Quidditch Cup, and that had it unbelievably amazing. The Ravenclaws were good sports because, even though they lost, the Cup went to someone that wasn't Slytherin, something the other three houses had been trying and failing at for years.

Hope wished she had a picture for when Angelina, Alicia, and Katie all hugged her –screaming with elation; her ears would never recover– and when Fred and George kissed one of her cheeks at the same time, and then when Oliver promptly burst into tears, almost collapsing on her. The Twins had to haul him off long enough for Oliver to hand over the Quidditch Cup (tearfully) to his Head of House.

Hope wasn't sure she she'd smiled so widely in a very long while.

"Should you really be balancing on that?"

Hope looked up from where she was sitting on one of the stone rails, the rail squarely between her with one of her legs dangling in the free air. She grinned. "I like a little danger in my life, Georgie, didn't you know?"

"I might have guessed," he joked, leaning against the stone. "What's wrong? You left the party rather early."

Hope stared out into the beautiful terrace that Hogwarts was a host of. There really was no place more beautiful, was there?

"I'm just…thinking about what happened down in those chambers," Hope said quietly, strumming her fingers against her arm, "and I don't want to leave here and go back to Number Four. Hogwarts is…home, I guess."

"Don't worry," George said with a grin, "I'm sure Ron'll convince Mum and Dad to let you spend some of the holiday at the Burrow."

"The Burrow?" Hope said, flummoxed. "What's the Burrow?"

"Oh, that's our house," George informed her, "don't people name houses these days?"

She rolled her eyes at his antics. "Not generally, no."

"Well, you should come anyways," he continued. "It'll be fun."

"If you say so," Hope responded easily, moving her body so that she was leaning against the rail as opposed to dangling precariously on it.

"Was there really a mirror down there?" George asked her suddenly, earning him an odd look. "Everyone's been talking about it, everything that went down in the chamber, and that was before you lot all got those points for your valour, or whatever it was… Was there really a mirror that could show you your heart's desire?"

A frozen smile appeared on her face.

"There was."

"Only one who wanted to find the Stone –find it, but not use it- would be able to get it, otherwise they'd just see themselves making gold or drinking the Elixir of Life. My brain surprises even me sometimes-"

"But how did you get the Stone inside of the mirror?" Hope persisted. "That mirror's at least as old as Hogwarts, you can't just put things inside of it."

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled, but he offered no explanation, irritating Hope in ways that she would never understand. She didn't like his eyes, there was something about them that always put her on edge…

"Would it be a bit… rude to ask what you saw?"

"A bit," Hope agreed, raking a hand through her hair, a soft smile lighting her face, making George wonder what it was that she saw, "but maybe one day I'll tell you."

"I'm going to hold you to that," George warned her.

"Can I ask you something?" Hope countered instead, and once he nodded, she continued: "What's it like having siblings?"

"Having siblings? But you live with your cousin, isn't that like living with a sibling?" George asked in confusion.

Hope scoffed, crossing her arms. "Dudley doesn't count…he's practically part whale."

George snickered.

"Besides, we've hated each other for as long as we've known each other, and understood what hate is," Hope said offhandedly. "Is it like that with your siblings?"

"Not really," George admitted, "I mean, sure, we get into fights now and then, but I don't think I could really imagine living without them."

"Especially Fred?" Hope grinned, bumping her shoulder against his.

"Life would be very boring without Fred," he agreed, grinning as well.

"Speaking of Fred," Hope continued, "I need a favour from the two of you."

"What kind of favour?" he asked as he was tugged none-too-gently back towards the castle.

"Nothing too strenuous," Hope laughed, "come on!"

If Hope, Fred, and George had anything to do with a number of Dungbombs dropped in the Great Hall as a last prank for the year, they would never admit it.

Fred and George weren't too hard to make out in the crowd, much to Molly Weasley's relief (those two always caused her such worry, not unlike how her elder brothers had been, barring Percy). And then she had to pause, because George was helping a girl get down off the train.

It didn't take her but a second to recognize the face of the deceased Lily Potter. The resemblance was uncanny. They hugged their various friends, waving goodbye. As she approached, she could hear Ron speaking to Hope and the brown-haired girl that must be Hermione, "You must come and stay this summer, both of you –I'll send you an owl."

"Sounds fun," Hope said with a grin, "anything to get me away from the Dursleys."

"Bye, Hope!" called Angelina and Alicia as they made their way to their folks.

"See you!" she called.

"See you, Potter!" Lee yelled over the noise, making her laugh and wave.

"Still famous?" Ron guessed with a grin.

"Maybe a little," Hope laughed, "but trust me, no one's going to know my name where I'm going."

Molly thought they looked very sweet, Hope smiling lightly, leaning not quite so heavily on her cane as she had before, her things already miniaturized and in her pocket as her other hand was linked with George's. George leaned down to whisper something into her ear, making her colour at the comment. She attempted to detach herself from Molly's son, but he caught her hand again, giving her a wink.

"You are such a flirt," Hope complained.

"I work very hard to be like this!" George retorted amidst the laughter of his twin.

"This way, Hope!" Hermione called, tugging her towards a muggle couple off to the side.

"I'm catching a ride with Hermione," Hope said, "so I'll see you later, alright? Stay out of trouble!"

She should have given that advice to herself, but then, if she had, she would have never followed it. For once, maybe the summer holidays wouldn't be too bad if she was counting down to the silver lining…

Chapter Text

Hope Potter's summer started going downhill the moment she stepped back inside Number Four Privet Drive, and she nearly blew her top completely when Vernon locked her trunk in the cupboard under the stairs and put a padlock on Hedwig's cage.

Hedwig, was not very impressed with this, if it wasn't obvious with the (owlish) scowl she had turned on the man and attempted to peck his hands through the bars of her cage as he slipped on the padlock.

It was almost July and Hope was bored out of her skull. She had, of course, picked the lock on the cupboard the day after her things had been locked away and removed her schoolbooks, parchment, quill and inkbottle, as well as her books on Blood Magick and the Ancient Arts and a journal into which she had made a number of notes into already concerning the Ancient Arts.

Hope was also annoyed by another matter, and that was that no one had wrote her any bloody letters! Not even one!

Okay, so maybe she had been hoping that George would write her at least one (she tried not to blush at the thought, but failed), but she was certain that Ron and Hermione would have sent her something, but no such luck. Hope had never felt so downtrodden in her whole life.

"I mean, I can understand Ron not sending letters," Hope complained to Hedwig –the only one who seemed to listen to her these days–, "but Hermione should've, at least."

Hedwig could offer no reply. She was probably still irritated by the padlock on her cage.

"Whatever," Hope grumbled, creasing the last of her Transfiguration homework and shoving it into her book before slamming the book shut on the parchment and opening her Blood Magick book again. "I don't care anymore," she decided, flipping through the pages with a flurry of fingers to look for the passage she had left off on.

Hope traced the Blood Sigil for 'healing' onto the last bit of empty space on the page of her journal before flipping to the next one as her eyes roved over the old book.

Gemstones are a useful medium for employing Blood Magick in that they are one of the few substances that can take in the blood of the user. The effect that the blood will depend both on the runes carved into it and the type of stone it is. Thus, if the stone known both as a Bloodstone and a Heliotrope is carved with a healing rune, its magick is amplified, as opposed to the rune being carved into a simple stone with the user's blood, as Bloodstone is a gem used for healing.

Hope's eyebrows arched in surprise at this new information, but she was forced to shut the book quickly at the sound of voices beyond the door. Hope lurched to her feet, shoving the books and parchment and quill under her bed as she flicked off the light and clamoured back into her bed, throwing the covers over herself and turning away from the door with only seconds to spare.

The door was creaked open as her mother's sister peered inside, her eyes falling on Hope's deeply-breathing form and then she retreated, leaving Hope alone.

Hope's eyes opened as soon as the door shut, though she did not move until the Dursleys had stopped moving around all the lights were shut off, bathing the house in darkness.

It was only then that Hope threw her covers aside, fishing out her torch and flicking the light on as she returned to her research yet again, because if there was one thing that hadn't yet failed her, it was magic.

Hope mutinously scowled out her window and into the night. Well, she wasn't going to wait for them to remember that she was their friend, nope, that was not Hope's style. If they wanted to talk to her, then they could do it themselves, because Hope had better things to do with her time! (She really didn't, but who was going to tell them that?)

Common gems used as a Blood-binding element include: Crystal, Onyx, Moonstone, Opal, and Turquoise. Many gemstones are considered far too fragile to act as a base for Blood Magick. Even the weakest Blood Sigils caused such gemstones to shatter from the magic imbued with the runes…

Hope couldn't remember how long she sat there on her bed with the torch in her mouth, its light shining down on the old parchment as she scrawled notes into her small journal, but before long she had to put the quill and ink aside and pick up her lock picks and stumble over to the window and throw it open before fixing the picks into Hedwig's padlock until it clicked open.

Hedwig was only so happy to leave her cage, even if she wasn't allowed to be gone very long, because being out for a short amount of time was at least better than not being out at all. Hope was sure that if Hedwig had to wait until the end of the summer to go flying, the owl would have been driven mad.

Luckily it never came to that, because of Hope's trusty lock picks (that were getting a bit rusty –figuratively speaking, of course– as Hope hadn't hardly used them except to unlock Hedwig's cage and unlock the cupboard door.

Hypothetically, Hope could have possibly Flashed the trunk to her room, but she was sure the Dursleys would notice if it was gone, and besides, Hope had never Flashed something that was heavier than her.

And she certainly wasn't going to test it out now.

Hedwig hooted dolefully as she hopped onto Hope's arm.

Hope sighed. "I know, Hedwig, I miss Hogwarts too." And then Hedwig launched herself out of the window to hunt.

If there was one thing that was terrible about summer, on top of going back to live with the Dursleys, it was finishing her required meetings with her therapist, Doctor Joanne Samuel. This was a requirement after being in a traumatic accident like she had, and Hope didn't approve in the slightest. They had been put on hold until the summer, as she had been at a boarding school in Scotland, but know that she was back, they had resumed once more.

And if there was one thing Hope really hated, it was therapy sessions that involved talking about yourself. She saw absolutely no point in going to these sessions, but who was she to criticize doctors with legitimate degrees in the healing arts (and she meant medicine, not healing, if you didn't pick up on that).

Hope lay flopped on the couch while the good doctor sat in the corner chair attempting to appear serene as she jotted notes into her notebook. Hope dearly hoped that she had put something in there about her now-violet spikes.

Hope stared at the ceiling, her hands interlocked on her stomach, one finger tapping incessantly against the back of her opposite hand. Her brow creased with irritation as she stared off into space, looking at nothing in particular. The colors of the room were too bright and obvious, and for younger children, yet another reason why she shouldn't have been there.

"Hope. Hope."

Rolling her eyes, Hope turned her attention to her therapist with an air of boredom that Hope pulled off perfectly. Personally, she didn't have anything against Doctor Samuel, but she didn't much like talking about herself, so they were at a bit of an impasse, and had been for probably as long as Hope had been sent to her. "What?"

"You need to talk some time," the doctor said kindly, though she was speaking with her most trying patient by far, "why don't you tell me about your new school?"

"Its fine," Hope said shortly, shifting her gaze back to the brightly coloured ceiling once more, "it's in Scotland and my parents used to go there. There isn't much to say about it, really."

"Did you make any friends?" Doctor Samuel asked, probing for a response that wasn't sarcastic, though that was a losing battle. "Without having your cousin around?"

"Yeah." Hope sighed, rubbing her eyes tiredly. "At least, I thought I had."

"What do you mean?" she asked, jotting down notes in her notebook, a habit that annoyed Hope greatly, but she tried not to show it (she was failing).

"Well, Ron –he's one of my best mates– said he was going to ow-write to me," Hope explained, wincing slightly when she almost said 'owl' before quickly smoothing it over, "and Hermione –she's my other best mate– only I haven't gotten anything from either of them, or from my other friends, and would've thought that at least George would write…"

"And who is George?" Samuel prompted.

It was quite amusing to see the flustered expression on Hope's face, even if it was only for a few seconds. "He's one of Ron's older brothers, he's a friend of mine." Or something more, the doctor thought, if her face was anything to go off of.

"And what have you done so far over the holiday?" she asked her, turning the subject away from her friends.

Hope shrugged her shoulders, bouncing her leg as she did so. "Nothing much."

"So, been at home a lot?" she asked.

Hope snorted humourlessly. "No, besides home would imply that I have an attachment to where I live, but I don't. Anything that keeps me out of the house is great."

So she still had a terrible relationship with her aunt and uncle. It wasn't too surprising. Hope could be very hard to handle, depending on who you were; she couldn't imagine dealing with her in a home setting.

"Hope," she said, leaning forward in her chair, trying to prompt the girl to look in her eyes, "you do know why I'm asking you all these questions, don't you?"

"I haven't the faintest idea," Hope said dryly, twirling a strand of purple hair between her fingers.

The doctor sighed, hating when her patient was purposefully obtuse. "Hope, you went through an incredibly traumatic experience—"

"It was just a car accident!" Hope complained. "That's hardly traumatic!"

"You were dead for sixty-seven seconds," she continued, Hope's face turning sour at the mention of that detail. "No one comes back from an accident like that without being a little changed."

Hope scowled fiercely at that. "I'm not afraid of death, dying doesn't frighten me."

"Then what does?" she asked gently. It wasn't too surprising that Hope thought that way; she did seem to be made of tougher stuff than any other twelve year old her knew.

For a long moment Hope didn't say anything, then she finally muttered, "I dunno."

"An honest answer, I'm impressed." Doctor Samuel couldn't help but use that tiny bit of sarcasm; one couldn't help it when dealing with such a difficult patient as Hope Potter had proven to be even on her first day.

Hope glared at her; it was very impressive for a girl who was just a few days shy of turning twelve years old.

Doctor Samuel tried hard not to react to the stare, it was quite unnerving. "And tell me about your grades in school."

"I passed everything."

Hope would have gotten The Most Blunt Person of the Year Award two times over, if there was such a thing. Really, it was like the girl didn't use emotion at all when she spoke, unless she was irritated or angry.

"Why don't you like talking to anyone about yourself?" she asked instead.

"Because I'm a private person," Hope responded in a voice that was both curt and sour, "I only talk about myself when I'm with my friends."

"And why is that?"

"Oh, I don't know," Hope said sarcastically, "maybe it's because I trust them."

"You don't strike me as someone who trusts easily. I can see that you have a certain distrust of authority…"

"That depends on the kind of authority," Hope said mildly, her eyes glancing at the clock. "Oh! Look at the time! Looks like our last little meeting has come to an end. How sad, but I've got to go—"

"Hope," the doctor interrupted her, "I can't force you to come to more meetings with me, but it might be a good thing if you talked more with your friends."

"Oh, I talk to them plenty," Hope said dryly as she stood up with the aid of her cane, limping ever so slightly towards the door. Or, at least she had before, but that time was gone and they clearly didn't want to talk to her.

These words were beginning to sound like Hope's new mantra, perhaps Hope thought if she repeated them enough she would believe them, but this had not occurred and deep down, Hope thought maybe she didn't want to believe that her friends really didn't want to write to her…

Hope was used to ignoring her relatives –that's all they seemed to do to each other; Hope ignored them and they ignored Hope–, or at least, to a certain point. Petunia still demanded chores of her daily, and Hope couldn't very well skip out of those, or it would be her head.

But once those were done, Hope was free to do whatever she wanted, well, within reason, Hope supposed. The Dursleys liked it best when she was out of the house and thus out of their hair, as Hope had a bit of an attitude towards them that most people didn't appreciate.

Hope couldn't understand why, but if they had thought she was going to tone down the sass and blatant sarcasm, then they were very much mistaken.

But who didn't like sass and sarcasm?

So, once she was free, she, in spur of sudden boredom, grabbed a cab to the centre of London, however, by the time she had paid the cabbie off, just outside of the Leaky Cauldron. Which was very lucky, since Gringotts was so close.

Hope expelled a breath, ruffling her now dark blue tousled curls with a single streak of black through her fringe (it was hard not change her hair and eyes to outright strange combinations when she was one of the few that could change them at will). It also helped a great deal when she wanted to be incognito.

She pulled open the door and strode inside, easily overlooked by her height and age, passing through the crowd of patrons to reach the rear of the pub, where a door opened to a blank brick wall. Hope remembered this to be the same wall that Hagrid had tapped with his umbrella when he had first taken her to Diagon Alley before first year.

It seemed so long ago now as Hope limped forward, one hand secure on her cane as she withdrew her wand to tap it against the stone.

Unfortunately, Hope had only been half paying attention at the time and it took her a total of seven times before she got the whole brick-tapping-thing right. A tick developed over her eye at her own inability to guess the bricks right.

But she got through eventually, and was unsurprised to see the street packed with shoppers, that made it easy to blend in with the crowd.

Getting into Gringotts was more troublesome than she had remembered, though this might've had something to do with her being with Hagrid –who people had often careened out of the way of– so Hope waited patiently in line for the number of witches and wizards to thin out until she could make her way to the podium.

The goblin that looked down at her could have been scowling, but Hope wasn't quite sure, as it was quite difficult to tell with faces like that. Hope grinned up at him, holding up a letter embossed with the Gringotts seal.

"Hello," Hope said in a tone that was very nearly cheerful, "I have a meeting with Ragnok in a few minutes."

Goblins held no titles, therefore it would have been insulting to call them 'Mr.' or 'Lord' or anything similar –or, at least, that was the way they viewed it, as it had been explained to Hope on her first day to Diagon Alley–, and goblins much preferred their given names, as long as they were not spoken with a condescending tongue.

The goblin took the letter from her, unfolding it and reading its contents before glancing her over one last time.

"Wait here," he said gruffly as he hopped down from his podium to move at a leisure pace to find the Head of Gringotts. Hope smirked at the sound of several groans from behind her where the lines continued, well, it couldn't be said that goblins didn't like drawing out the wait-time.

So Hope waited, smoothing her thumb over her cane where she gripped it until the goblin reappeared once more, motioning for her to follow, which she did so, limping slightly towards the double doors that held within the spacious office of Ragnok.

Unlike his brethren, Ragnok bore the title of 'Master' that befit his position, and he was the only one allowed such a title.

"Miss Potter," he said simply upon her entrance into the office. "How may I be of service?"

"Master Ragnok," Hope said in reply, inclining her head slightly, an action that earned her a glimmer of respect in his eyes. "I have only a few requests of you, actually, and I hope you won't find them too bothersome."

"That would depend on the requests," Ragnok replied, gesturing Hope forward and she took the seat gratefully.

Not half an hour later Hope left Gringotts with her money bag refilled and a package miniaturized in her pocket containing a few new books from her family vaults and several very valuable gems that had been taken from the Slytherin Family Vault. This vault had lain undisturbed for centuries due to family becoming extinct upon the male line, until Hope had claimed it today.

She didn't know if Voldemort had known about it before, but it didn't matter anymore because the vault and its contents now belonged solely to Hope and to her descendents.

It was the gems in particular that she cared more about, since she really wanted to try her hand at Blood Runes, but she still had to wait until she got home to even try that, so Hope wandered off in the direction of Flourish and Blotts.

There were a few people inside, but not that many, so Hope limped off in towards one of the older sections of the shop, tracing lightly over book spines as she mouthed the titles to herself.

"Looking for something in particular?" a voice asked, startling Hope terribly as she whipped around to look upon who had spoken.

Daphne Greengrass gave her a pearly smile. "Sorry," she apologized in a manner that was a bit unrepentant, reminding Hope of just the last year when it had been she who had startled Daphne.

"Oh, forget it," Hope said, blinking a few times before she stared at the Slytherin. "How'd you know it was me?"

Daphne arched a pale eyebrow towards Hope. "Oh, please, as if its really that hard," the girl scoffed, "you are the only one our age that walks around with the aid of a cane, you know."

Patches of pink appeared on Hope's cheekbones at her words. "Oh, right," she said, chuckling softly under her breath. "Of course I am."

"Are you looking for some books on the Ancient Arts?" Daphne asked her, smirking a little.

"I'd have more luck in the library I haul around in my trunk," Hope sighed mournfully. "But I guess that's to be expected."

Daphne hummed in agreement. "Since Ancient and Dark seem to get lumped together."

"A real tragedy," Hope said with a sigh, "but I guess you've got to have something to blame when it can't be a witch or wizard."

Daphne sniggered in a way that was distinctly unlady-like. "No truer words have been spoken…do your little lion friends know about your fascination?"

"I think a few of them can guess," Hope admitted, turning back to the shelf, "either that or they don't really know how frowned upon they are."

"Very few do," Daphne had to agree with her there as Hope withdrew an old text from the shelf. Hope frowned at the cover, blowing the dust from it so she could read it before opening it and flicking through the pages. It held some old remedies and enchantments that dealt with herbs as the basis of magic, for warding and healing were just two examples of its uses.

Hm…that sounded slightly interesting, not as interesting as Blood Magick, obviously, but interesting enough.

"Do they know that you're the last living descendant of Salazar Slytherin?"

Hope was so startled that she dropped the book, her heart rate skyrocketing at Daphne's words as her eyes flashed up to meet the blonde's.

"Relax," Daphne said with a careless wave of her hand as Hope glanced around to see if anyone had heard, but, luckily, they were so far into the shop that there was no one else there. "Your secret is safe with me."

Hope knelt to grab the book from the ground before rising to eye the Greengrass heir with suspicion.

"I'm from an old family," Daphne told her, "its not hard to find the family tree of the Slytherin family…though, it is very extensive."

"Should I take that as a compliment?" Hope asked wryly.

Daphne shrugged. "Just a fact…but it does explain that ring of yours."

Hope's hand tightened into a fist, the snake ring cutting into her hand as she did so.

Daphne grinned in an amused manner. "See you at school." And then she turned on her heel and left Hope to her own thoughts.

Chapter Text

The day Hope turned twelve wasn't a momentous occasion in the slightest, in fact, not one soul in Number Four Privet Drive celebrated it, including Hope. Hope was still angry over her friends not owling her at all, and then she tried to carve a Blood Rune into one of her gems only to have it backfire spectacularly in her face, leaving her with a few cuts on her hands that she didn't really care for, but there was little she could do about the matter.

Hope shut her room's door behind her and slouched down the stairs and into the kitchen, exhaling a tired breath. She almost headed right back up the stairs to her room when she heard voices, but then she paused to listen to exactly what Vernon was saying.

"Now, as we all know, today is a very important day," he began and Hope made a face behind his back.

It was also coincidentally her birthday, but he had never given a damn about those so it must have been that business dinner he wouldn't stop raving about. Personally, she'd rather not have a dinner with him; just looking at him made her sick, but, she supposed, that was all a matter of opinion, after all, Petunia had been the one that married him.

"This could well be the day I make the biggest deal of my career," he continued, oblivious of Hope's distaste towards both him and his business dinner. "I think we should run through the schedule one more time." Hope couldn't help but roll her eyes; they had a dinner schedule! Who does that? Who prepares what they're going to talk at during a dinner before the actual dinner? (And they thought Hope was the one that was strange in the family; they should have looked in the mirror) "We should all be in position by eight o'clock. Petunia, you will be—?"

"In the lounge," Hope's horse-faced aunt answered primly, as if that somehow made her more attractive, "waiting to welcome them graciously into our home." She waved her hands around in what she thought was a gracious manner, but Hope thought it was more reminiscent of a sideways windmill.

Hope looked around their 'home' in disgust. It was too clean, and she hated things that were immaculate and lacking sentiment. Nothing Petunia and her family owned meant anything to the three of them. The Dursleys were a family very ruled by public opinion, something Hope cared little for. That was one of the reasons Hope didn't get on well at all with her family; they were complete opposites. And opposites repelled each other.

They were too different.

Hope didn't know how Hermione made it work with her family, since her parents were Muggles, but she suspected that it was an awful lot of work and that both sides put an effort into making it work. But the Dursleys hated magic, which was only one of the many problems Hope had with them.

Hope wished for the thousandth time that month that she couldn't have just stayed with Hermione at her place, but no... so here she was, in her personal hell. But then Hope remembered that Hermione wasn't talking to her –just like the rest of those…tosspots– and this only served to sour her attitude further.

"Good, good. And Dudley?" Vernon said, snapping his fingers towards his son.

"I'll be waiting to open the door," Dudley said, his voice –like always– annoying Hope greatly as he used a simpering tone. "May I take your coats, Mr. and Mrs. Mason?"

"They'll love him!" Petunia cried, her voice lovingly sappy; Hope tried not to gag at Dudley and his mother's reaction to him.

"I certainly wouldn't," Hope muttered under her breath, ignoring the glare the three of them shot her.

"And you?" Vernon demanded coldly, as he often did when speaking to his niece.

Instead, Hope crossed her arms looking distinctly irritated. She wasn't going to stand there and repeat the words he'd told her several days previously, and those words were: "I'll be in my bedroom, making no noise and pretending I'm not there."

Pretending she didn't exist was more like it, if you asked Hope. As if she didn't do that enough already.

"We all know what we're supposed to do," she said in disdain. "What's the point of going over all this?"

"Hope Lillian Potter! You listen to your uncle!" Petunia barked, and Hope could feel the defiance spilling over inside of her at the use of 'Lillian' instead of 'Lily' as her middle name, as if her aunt couldn't bear to even say her dead sister's name. Hope didn't even try to stop the sneer from forming on her lips.

"It's Hope Lily Potter, Petunia," she said frigidly, "twelve years and you still haven't figured that out? I wonder what that says about your brain capacity?" And then she stormed violently towards the stairs, stomping up them with more force than was strictly necessary.

"There goes your dinner privileges!" Vernon roared after her.

"Good!" she yelled back, slamming one of her feet down aggressively for emphasis. "They weren't much to begin with!"

She slammed the door to her bedroom shut so hard that it rattled the hinges and then she sat down hard on the bed, dropping her cane to the floor and exhaling as she looked around the room.

Her room was surprisingly bare, or not so surprisingly. All the items that she cared about were locked away in her trunk which was locked in the cupboard under the stairs, her former living space, and Hope wasn't about to try to Flash the trunk up to her bedroom and back down to the cupboard every night, that would just be exhausting, besides, Flashing too much wouldn't be very good for her health.

She twisted the rings around on her fingers as she flopped onto her back, staring bleakly up at the ceiling and wishing that the summer holiday would be over sooner rather than later.

Hope still held onto that long-lost dream that one day a distant relation would come and rescue her from them this hellhole that only three could call home, just as long as they weren't Salazar Slytherin himself. She rubbed her head tiredly, recalling that little tidbit of her history. A Gryffindor being descended from Salazar Slytherin…that wouldn't gain her any friends; Slytherin had a rather bad reputation. Once she had discovered the fact, she had been too ashamed to tell her friends just who that spectre was; she was afraid of losing them because of all the bad Slytherin had done.

But, of course, Daphne Greengrass had figured her out. Though she was grateful that the Slytherin girl wouldn't share her secret with anyone.

She hated herself for fearing that she would lose her friends if she told them too, but she couldn't stop herself from imagining the possibility.

Not that it mattered anyways, seeing as none of them were willing to write to her. Hope withdrew her lock picks and fiddled with Hedwig's padlock until the bird door swung free and sighed mournfully as her beloved owl hooted softly, fluttering over to perch on her knee, permitting her mistress to stroke her feathers. Hope could let her out of her cage in her room, if she made sure no one was around (Vernon had been very adamant about her not being allowed to let out her owl and though he had had the gall to padlock her into her cage, Hope, unfortunately had a degree in Lock-picking, so that was easily rectified) to see her, and then she'd let her out for two hours at night when no one was awake, giving her some time to stretch her wings. She knew Hedwig wasn't pleased with the situation, but it could've been worse; she could have been padlocked inside that cage for the whole summer.

"I miss freedom, Hedwig," Hope said sullenly, "I wonder what it tastes like?"

Hedwig gave a sad, low hoot of agreement as Hope stroked her feathers gently and Hedwig nipped lightly at her fingers.

The first few days of summer had been fun, when Hope could stalk Dudley mercilessly, chanting nonsense words that made him grab his buttock and run for his Mummy, but it lost its appeal after Hope had to duck a swipe to the head with a frying pan. Now Hope was unbelievably lonely. It was like all the happiness had been sucked from the world, at least, her happiness; without all of her friends around, she had no one.

She missed Ron and Hermione, and Fred and George, and Lee and Angelina and Alicia, and Katie, and even the Quidditch-obsessed Oliver... she was beginning to get desperate –and slightly mental–, having barely seen anything, person or otherwise, from the magical world in nearly a month (not including her brief trip to Diagon Alley during which she saw none of her friends).

But, right now, she was too tired to even think about how miserable she was, having slept terribly the night before.

Hope scrubbed vigorously at her eyes before returning Hedwig to clutch her talons to the top of her cage as Hope fell back onto her bed, falling into a light doze, only to be awakened rather suddenly when the doorbell rang and Vernon's face appeared in her open door, but only a sliver of it, she noticed (or else she would have been worried that he had seen Hedwig sleeping above her cage, but the Fates were on her side tonight). "One word, girl, and I swear—" he hissed through the crack.

"Yeah, yeah," Hope waved a hand carelessly, rolling her eyes for good measure. "Whatever."

His face purpled, but he didn't seem capable of coming up with words, so he simply pulled the door shut as Hope sat up, groaning softly, rubbing at her eyes, as she searched under her bed for the owl treats that she had swiped a few nights ago. Hope muttered a soft swear under her breath as she finally pulled it free, and uttered a muffled complaint.

"Sorry, Hedwig," she told the owl, "it looks like we're almost out of owl treats…you'll only get half of treat if you want them to last."

Hedwig opened her eyes to give Hope a rather distinctly annoyed expression.

"Don't give me that look," Hope said shortly, breaking a treat in half and giving it to her owl. "It's not my fault that we're nearly out."

Hedwig gave her another look that clearly said that it was indeed Hope's fault that they were nearly out of her treats (seeing as Hope was the one that bought them, not Hedwig).

And then Hope's eyes flashed completely open, because she was not alone with Hedwig in her room, there was someone else there.

Even though she couldn't use it, Hope's holly and phoenix feather wand was in her hand in seconds. She didn't know why, but she always found its warm wood comforting against her hand, almost feeling as though it beat, like a heart, but that would be ridiculous talk. Wands didn't have hearts in the conventional sense.

"Who are you?" she asked suspiciously, her eyes narrowed into dangerous slits. How would you feel if something magically appeared in your bedroom? Something that wasn't anything like what she had even seen before.

It wasn't even close to being human and probably only went up to her knee. Its bat-like ears flapped in the air and its green eyes seemed almost too big for its head. Its limbs were painfully clear to see from its sharp elbows to its knobby knees. She would have thought it was wearing a miniature toga, if she hadn't thought it looked more like a ruined pillowcase.

"Hope Potter!" the creature squeaked in a high pitched voice that made Hope wince and glance nervously towards the door, in case Vernon came up to complain of the noise, which was very likely, given Hope's track record. "So long had Dobby wanted to meet you, miss…Such an honour it is!"

"Right, sure," Hope said exhaustively, lowering her wand after a moment of deliberating. "So your name is Dobby, then?" It sounded a little like a name, she supposed, in a weird way.

The thing –creature, whatever it was– nodded so fast that its ears flapped against its head from the movement. "Dobby the House-elf," it told her.

"Dobby the House-elf," she repeated faintly, blinking her eyes a few times, "right, of course. So, why are you exactly in my room?"

"Dobby has come to tell you, miss…it is difficult, miss…" Dobby seemed a bit nervous about whatever he had come to tell her –Hope felt she should have been the one more nervous, since he was the one in her room. "Dobby wonders where to begin…"

Suddenly Dobby grabbed her cane –which had been propped against the wall by the window– and began whacking himself in the head with its grip. Hope went past stunned to completely startled, but only for about two seconds, and then Hope had to wrestle the cane from his grasp, hissing, "What the ruddy hell do you think you're doing?!"

"Dobby should not speak or move against his family," the house-elf whimpered.

"There are more of you?" Hope asked dumbstruck.

"Oh, there are many house-elves," Dobby agreed, "but Dobby was referring to the wizard family Dobby serves-"

"You're a servant?" Hope asked in a horrified voice. She had never heard of servants in the Wizarding world, and she certainly had never expected them to look like this.

Dobby smiled weakly. "Yes, miss."

"Do they make you beat yourself up like that?" Hope demanded, disgusted, gesturing towards the bruises forming on his flesh.

"Sometimes they remind Dobby to do extra punishments," Dobby said sadly, his ears drooping slightly.

"That's barbaric!" Hope said, aghast. "Why don't you just leave?"

"A house-elf must be set free, miss," he told her simply. "And the family will never set Dobby free…Dobby will serve the family until he dies, miss."

"That's awful," Hope said in genuine revulsion. She had never heard of something so…sixteenth century (or was it further back than that? Hope couldn't really be sure). The idea of being with the same family, especially if it wasn't a good family, made Hope glad she was at least human.

"Tis the life of a house-elf," Dobby said gloomily, before brightening unexpectedly, "Dobby has long heard of Hope Potter's triumph over He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!"

"I was one year old!" Hope complained, keeping her voice low enough that it wouldn't be heard downstairs.

"Dobby has also heard," the house-elf continued, "that Hope Potter met the Dark Lord for a second time just weeks ago, and that Hope Potter escaped yet again!"

"I suppose that counts as an escape," Hope grumbled under her breath, smoothing a finger over her eyebrow as she remembered the events of the end of the previous year. They were rather vivid.

She should have just kept her mouth shut, because Dobby's face shone with joy.

"Hope Potter is valiant and bold! She has braved many danger already ("Now hold up," Hope complained, "'many dangers'? When have I braved many dangers?")! But Dobby has come to protect Hope Potter, to warn her, even if he does have to shut his ears in the oven door later ("Do you have to?" Hope asked with a wince)…Hope Potter must not go back to Hogwarts!"

One could have heard a pin drop with how quiet it had become as Hope stared at the house-elf in blatant surprise at the words he had just said.

"Excuse me?" she balked. "Not go back to Hogwarts? Are you mad? Hogwarts is my home! I don't belong anywhere but in the magical world!"

"No, no, no," Dobby was shaking his head frantically, trying to reason with her, "If Hope Potter goes back to Hogwarts, she will be in mortal danger!"

"What are you talking about?" she demanded, her eyes sparking an impossible blue.

"There is a plot, Hope Potter," Dobby whispered, looking about as if expecting to see ears listening in on their conversation. "A plot to make most terrible things happen at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year." He had begun to tremble something fierce. "Dobby has known it for months now, miss. Hope Potter must not put herself in danger, she is too important!"

"I'm not, trust me," Hope said dryly, aggravation seeping into her voice, "but what plot? Wait, don't answer that, you'll probably just give yourself a concussion."

"Does this have anything to do with Vol- He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?" she prompted instead.

The house-elf slowly shook his head and Hope sighed. "I'm not sure if that's good or bad. It doesn't matter either way, Dobby, because I'm going back, whether there's danger or not, I've got friends out there-"

"Friends who don't even write to Hope Potter?" Dobby asked, instantly making Hope simultaneously angry and suspicious.

"How," she said lowly, cold and dangerous, "did you know that they haven't been writing to me?"

"Dobby did it for the best-" the house-elf stuttered out.

"Have you been stopping my letters?!" she growled, her eyes shifting to an enraged red that now matched the colour of her hair.

He was holding a thick pile of envelopes, and that made her even angrier. She could see George's untidy scrawl, Hermione's carefully etched words, and Ron's nearly illegible script. And in the face of her anger, Dobby knew that he was treading on thin ice.

"Hope Potter will have them, miss, if she promises that she will not return to Hogwarts!"

"Give me those letters!" she demanded, lunging for him, but the elf was fast, quicker than she would have thought, and had darted through the door and down the stairs in the time it took her to turn on her heel and head in the same direction.

Her heart hammered. Oh no…

It was a mountainous pudding complete with sugared violets and cream, and it was floating in the air.

"Stop!" she hissed. "They'll murder me!"

"Hope Potter must say—"

"Dobby," Hope said in a voice that was deadly calm, "please…"


"I can't!"

"Then Dobby is sorry."

And the pudding fell with a crash, completely caking Hope in cream.

Hope had never felt so miserable that she was going to be punished for something that wasn't her fault and she hadn't even gotten her letters back in exchange for the injustice.

Her birthday officially sucked.

After that incident and then the owl that arrived from the ministry claiming that a Hover Charm was used (though it wasn't her that did it, damn it!) and resulted in Hope's mood reaching an all-time low. She was then locked in her room almost around the clock with only two opportunities to use the bathroom. To make matters worse, bars had been fitted onto her window (what? Did he think she was going to jump two floors to run away? Never mind, she probably would've if she could've) so Hedwig could no longer take her nightly flights, leaving her disgruntled.

Hope was so angry about the whole situation that she was becoming more prone to tears these days (she was one of those kinds of girls). The skin around her eyes had already been rubbed raw by her scrubbing the tears from her face for so long and she was just so sick of this house!

Hope leaned forward resting her elbows on her knees, her hands cupping her forehead, nursing yet another headache.

Why didn't she just Flash out? Because then she'd have to come back for all of her things, that's why, and her strength wasn't up to par and that trunk was far from silent.

A light shone across her bedroom floor.

She frowned, blinking harshly as she saw a pair of headlights coming over the row of houses to hover beside her bedroom window. She scrambled to the window, throwing it open to clutch at the bars, recognizing the person in the back seat. A blue-eyed, ginger-haired, freckled somebody.


"Hope!" her best friend grinned and then he frowned. "Have you been crying?"

Hope laughed softly, more happy to see him than she had ever been to see anyone else. "I'm a mess. What're you doing here?"

"Figured you were in trouble or something when you didn't answer any of our letters," Ron said gesturing between him and the two people in the front seat.

"Fred, George!" Hope breathed in relief, her eyes focusing more on George than Fred. "They've locked me up and—"

"Tell us on the way back," Ron advised, holding out a thick rope. "Wrap that tight, would you?"

Hope did as was requested of her. "I'm dead if—"

"Don't worry," Fred admonished, driving the car in the opposite direction, ripping the bars clean off, and dropping them (by complete miraculous accident that made Hope laugh) into Petunia's bed of flowers below.

"Get in," Ron said, holding out a hand when the car came close to her window again.

"But, all my things," Hope said, glancing nervously back as she handed Hedwig through the window.

"Where are they?"

"Locked in the cupboard under the stairs—"

"No problem," George assured her from the passenger seat. "Out of the way, Hope."

Hope moved back as the Weasley Twins crawled from their window through hers to pull out a hairpin and pick the lock. It wasn't as sophisticated as Hope's lock-picking art, but it would have to do. Hope found her eyes dropping lower, to ogle a bit at George.

"Really?" Ron hissed at her. "Do you have to do that now?"

Hope's cheeks ignited in embarrassment. "Sorry."

He just rolled his eyes. "Anything else you want from your room?"

Hope glanced about sullenly. "No, nothing."

Ron's eyes passed over her. "You look terrible." Her hair was a midnight black and limp, not at all like the full locks that he was used to seeing and the redness around her eyes made her green eyes more obvious.

"That's what every girl wants hear, Ron," Hope said dryly, sounding more like herself.

"I thought so," Ron agreed with a smirk.

Fred and George were faster than she remembered them ever being, or maybe that was just her mind playing tricks on her. But the trunk was still remarkably heavy, so heavy that all three of those who were in the room had to throw their weight against it to get it to slide into the boot of the car.

"Alrighty…" the twins climbed back into their seats, steadying the car as Ron held out his hand to his friend, accidentally knocking Hedwig's cage (with Hedwig herself still inside) to the ground, earning a loud squawk of indignation.


The locks undid faster than Hope had time to get out of the window, so Ron had to pull her bodily through the window at the second Vernon had grabbed her ankle.

"Let me go!" Hope yelled, kicking him in the face with her shoe.

"Step on it, Fred!" Ron yelled, keeping a firm grip on Hope's waist as her leg was finally pulled free and Vernon tumbled out of the window to land heavily on the ground.

"See you next summer!" she roared out the window, flipping him the bird as they shot off into the sky amidst laughter.

Chapter Text


"So, what?" Hope asked bemused, massaging her ankle where Vernon had grabbed her.

"Our letters!" Ron snapped his fingers under her nose, making her glare at him. "Why haven't you been answering them?"

"I didn't even know you lot had sent me letters until my birthday!" Hope complained in annoyance.

"What were you doing all summer, then?" Fred asked from behind the wheel.

"Wallowing in self-pity," Hope said gloomily, picking at her frayed sleeve.

"That's never a good thing," George said sagely, earning an eye roll.

"I might have figured that out for myself, thanks," she said with humour. "A house-elf named Dobby nicked them before they even got to me; he's the one that used the Hover Charm that I'm getting blamed for."

"Why?" Ron asked incredulous.

"Why'd he steal my stuff?" she clarified before shrugging her shoulders. "No bloody idea; he seemed to think that if I thought I didn't have any friends I wouldn't want to go to Hogwarts."

"Why would—" Fred began.

"—he even care?" George finished for his twin.

"Zeus only knows," Hope groaned, pinching the bridge of her nose, "something about a terrible plot occurring this year, I don't know…"

"Very fishy," Fred said after a pregnant pause.

"Definitely dodgy," George agreed, swivelling in his seat so that he could look his friend in the eye (he was pleased to note that her hair had gone back from the black it had been when they picked her up to the dark red tresses he was so fond of). "And he wouldn't even tell you who's supposed to be behind everything?"

Hope screwed up her face, trying to recall all that the house-elf had said. "No, he just said that it wasn't Voldemort—"

Ron gave a small whimper at the name, but Fred and George were largely unfazed.

"Oh, calm down, Ron! It's just a name for Zeus' sake!" She turned back to George before Ron could come up with a response. "Do you think he was lying, then?"

"Could be," Fred answered her instead, "I mean, house-elves are pretty powerful by themselves, but they usually can't use their magic without their master's permission. Maybe sending him out to you was someone's idea of joke."

"I could only think of one person arrogant enough," Hope said in annoyance, sharing a glance with Ron as they both said, "Draco Malfoy."

"Wasn't that the kid you were always complaining about?" George asked her, frowning slightly. "The one that kept trying to get you in trouble?"

"The very same," Hope agreed, poking out her tongue at the mention of her nemesis.

"He isn't Lucius Malfoy's son, is he?" Fred asked, glancing up at the rear-view mirror to look at her.

"Probably, why?"

"Dad talks about him –hates him really– he was a big supporter of You-Know-Who," George told her.

At this, Fred turned around to look at her and Hope was impressed that the car didn't swerve at all, but then, it was a flying car. "And when You-Know-Who disappeared Lucius Malfoy came back saying he'd never meant any of it—"

"If that isn't a load of dung, I don't know what is," Hope drawled out.

Fred grinned. "That's what Dad says, too."

"Then he's sane," Hope said with a laugh. "So, is the car your dad's, then?"

"Yup!" Ron responded cheerfully. "He has a bad habit of buying up muggle items, taking them apart and enchanting them, and then putting it back together."

"But wouldn't that erode at the internal workings of the items?" Hope asked confused.

Ron grinned. "You'll have to take that up with Dad; he'll be thrilled."

"Wonderful…Do any of you know if you can challenge Underage Magic Warnings?" Hope asked with a smile.

"Really don't like people assuming it was you doing that spell?" George asked fondly.

A fire ignited under Hope's cheeks, making them burn a pale pink. "Oh, shut up."

"Seriously? I don't know," Fred said, grinning slightly at her reaction. "But the Improper Use of Magic Office should be willing to listen to your claim, if you really want to go against it."

"That'll be fun," Hope muttered.

"Anyways," Ron said, squeezing her hand briefly, "I'm glad we came to get you. I thought it might have been Errol's fault—"

"Who's Errol?" Hope asked blankly as she undid the padlock on Hedwig's cage ("Sorry, Hedwig!" "HOOT!") and let the pure white owl spread her wings, flying beside them like a guide thought the night ahead.

"Our owl," Ron said morosely, "he's positively ancient. It wouldn't be the first time he's collapsed on a delivery."

Hope winced. "That's not good."


"Does your dad know you've got the car?" Hope asked, poking her head out of the window to look down, a smile spreading across her lips as she looked down at the world so far below.

"Er, no, not really," Ron said nervously, "he had to work tonight."

Hope appraised him with a grin. "Oh, my bad habits are rubbing off on you, Ronald."

He grinned. "Shut up, you."

The sun was beginning to peak over the trees, suddenly dawning on Hope that he'd been driving through the night. Fred dropped the car lower and lower, driving overhead the road, ("It's Ottery St. Catchpole, we're just outside of it.") landing with a slight jolt, coming to a stop on the lawn before what must have been Ron's home, the Burrow.

It was as far from Vernon and Petunia's house as one house could get. Disorder and mayhem, just the way Hope liked it. The structure of the house was far from straight, crooked to the point that it just had to be held up by magic. Though…why were there six chimneys perched on its warped roof?

"It's brilliant," Hope said in awe, gazing around fondly as they all got out of the car. "I've never seen a house like this before!"

"Okay," said Fred, "here's the plan—"

However, Hope never quite learned what exactly the plan was, because Fred stopped dead in his tracks and Ron had turned a sickly green colour. Confused, Hope turned in the direction the three Weasley brothers were gazing in horror.

It was Mrs. Weasley, and she was glaring something fierce. Hope was morbidly fascinated with the glare; maybe she could replicate it later on whenever any of her sons were acting out of line. She mentally sniggered; so George would be on the receiving end of it often, she predicted.

"Ah," Fred said weakly.

"Oh, dear," George choked out.

"So," Mrs. Weasley said, low and dangerous.

"Morning Mum," George said, taking the initiative, making Hope snort. He gave her a look, but she just smiled like she knew something he didn't.

The explosion that followed was one that had Hope theatrically rubbing her ears for hours on end. Clearly, Mrs. Weasley had been very worried about her sons. Hope was hard pressed to not laugh at their predicament, but somehow she managed it by clapping a hand to her mouth to hide her smile and strangle her laughter. It was only after Mrs. Weasley's fuse had burned out that she turned to Hope.

"I'm very pleased to see you, Hope, dear," she said with a kindly smile that only a mother could possess, "I'm so sorry for the scene—"

"Oh, don't mind," Hope said with laughter bubbling from her lips when three betrayed looks were thrown her way, "I find everything hilarious at their expense."

Mrs. Weasley laughed at that as well.

Hope Potter seemed to have grown a little since the last time she had seen her, her hair now falling to her shoulder blades, and it seemed she was an early bloomer, if the way she kept crossing her arms uncomfortably across her chest was anything to go by. Her face was thinner than she remembered, making her cheekbones seem more prominent, like her mother's. Her cane clicked with every movement, reminding Mrs. Weasley of that injury of hers; she'd almost forgotten about it.

Breakfast was wonderful, if one ignored how Mrs. Weasley kept tossing glares at the sons who had participated in the "Rescue Hope from the Muggles" escapades of the night, and Mrs. Weasley herself was amusing herself by how Hope and George bantered back and forth.

"Oh, I threw myself at you?" Hope said incredulously, lifting her gaze from her sausages to stare disbelieving at George. "If I recall correctly –and I do–, it was dark and I tripped…you ate mud, remember?"

Ron roared with laughter, but George just waved his hand carelessly. "Details, Hope, details."

"Right," she drawled out.

"And you want to know what else, Hope?" Fred asked with a bright grin, making his eyes twinkle like sapphires. "He spent the better end of last year staring at your bum!"

Both George and Hope turned bright red at that.

"And Hope was staring at George's back when you two were unlocking her door," Ron added.

"Ron!" Hope looked so horrified that George had to smirk. "Shut up," she grumbled, crossing her arms and glaring at nothing when a small squeal echoed in the kitchen before abruptly disappearing once more.

"What was that?" Hope asked blankly.

"Ginny," Ron whispered, so his mother wouldn't hear, "my sister. She's been talking about you all summer."

"Oh…" Whatever Hope was planning to say was cut off by the sound of the door opening.

"Morning Weasleys!" called a male voice and she looked up. Mr. Weasley had red hair like his wife and all of his children, but his was sparse, his head balding, and an askew pair of glasses was perched on the bridge of his nose, through which Hope could see eyes identical to the twins and Ron (Percy having his mother's eyes).

"Morning Dad!"

Hope was waiting for him to notice her, which he didn't until he was halfway through his breakfast. "Oh! Hello!"

She smiled. "Hello, Mr. Weasley, I'm Hope."

"Ah!" The man smiled congenially. "Yes, Ron's told us so much about you, so have Fred and George."

Hope eyed them all speculatively. "I hope nothing too terrible…"

Fred and George gave her mock salutes before everyone jumped at the sound of something running headlong into the window.

"Oh, dear…"

Mrs. Weasley rushed over to the windowsill as the owl righted itself and fluttered inside with a mournful hoot.

"I'm going to guess that's Errol?" Hope asked half-amused, half-surprised, directing her question to Ron.

"Yup." He swallowed some eggs thickly. "And you wonder why we thought it was all his fault you weren't answering our letters."

Hope grunted in agreement as Mrs. Weasley handed them all their Hogwarts letters ("Even me?" "Even you, dear.").

She glanced down the list. Most of the books were what you would expect for someone who was going into their second year at Hogwarts, but—

"Do we have seven books for Defence Against the Dark Arts?" she asked Ron incredulously. "What's the point of that?"

"Must be a fan of Lockhart's," Fred said around a mouthful of toast, earning a glare from his mother. "Probably a witch."

"But seven?" Hope demanded. "That's just overkill!"

Fred shrugged. "That's Hogwarts for you."

She snorted humourlessly, before turning to Mr. Weasley. "Mr. Weasley, could I ask you a favour?" She didn't even wait for his answer. "I need to go to the Improper Use of Magic Department; do you think you could tell me where it is?"

"Ah, this is about that Hover Charm, isn't it?" he queried, wiping his mouth on his napkin. "I can take you there after breakfast, if you like."

"Oh, thank you," Hope said appreciatively.

Hope clicked her nail against the metal armrest of the chair she was sitting in, an eternally bored expression pasted onto her face. It had been ten minutes since she requested to see Mafalda Hopkirk –the woman who had sent her the letter that gotten her the dungeon treatment (Hope was trying very hard not to be overly irritated that it was her fault that she had been locked up to begin with)– and Hope was starting to get very bored. The office was practically empty and there was no one else waiting, so what could they possibly doing? Surely they didn't make those letters all by hand, that would just be absur-

"Miss Potter? Madam Hopkirk will see you now."

A sigh was expelled from her lips as she stood using the aid of her cane to walk past the receptionist and into the room.

Hope felt as though she was in a dentist's office, and she hated the dentist (Sorry, Hermione!) almost as much as she hated the therapist.

Madam Hopkirk wasn't very impressive for someone who was the deputy of a ministry department. Her pinstriped suit and her brown hair tied back in a tight bun made her look very plain.

"Hello, Miss Potter," she greeted the girl kindly, offering her a hand to shake, which she did, internally debating whether she should try to squeeze it until she winced, but she shot down that idea quickly. "A pleasure."


"Please sit," the ministry worker offered as she bustled around. "Would you like some tea?"

Hope shook her head with a wan smile. "No thank you, I don't expect my business will take long."

It was times like this that Hope felt very strange. Kids her own age weren't typically in charge of their vaults, nor did they have the opportunity to advocate for themselves. She wasn't quite sure how she should've reacted, so she typically adopted a stoic façade that suited her fine.

"Of course," Madam Hopkirk said easily as she sat down once more in her chair. "How may I help you?"

Hope held out the letter that had dropped on Mrs. Mason's head less than a week ago. "It concerns the letter you sent to my… 'place of residence' earlier this week."

Madam Hopkirk perched her spectacles on the end of her nose as she read the contents on the letter. "Yes, what of it? Forgive me, but it's rather routine. You like all your classmates were warned not to use magic over the holiday."

"Only I didn't use the Hover Charm," Hope corrected, thrumming her fingers against her cane, "I noticed you didn't specify in your letter who cast it, though you automatically assumed it was me."

The woman chuckled as if Hope was acting ridiculous. Acting like a child. Hope's eyes narrowed minutely, betraying her irritation; did she think this was a joke? "Ah, forgive me, but you are saying that someone else was in your house performing magic?"

"Possibly," Hope said evasively. She wasn't sure if she wanted to mention Dobby just yet after what Fred had said about it maybe being a joke.

"Miss Potter," she said humorously, "I have heard better lies."

"I highly doubt that; I'm a great liar," Hope said coldly, "Believe me, I would have no reason to lie about not performing magic, especially when I can offer my wand to you to check yourself."

Madam Hopkirk blinked. Well, that was a first; never had someone offered their wand for her to check their magic activity. Finally, she merely held out her hand, into which Hope's wand was deposited.

She tapped its tip with her own, murmuring the spell that could recall past spells: "Prior Incantato."

The light spell shape that she had been anticipating did not appear; instead a bright red circle appeared, at least several weeks old. Madam Hopkirk's eyebrows rose to the creases of her forehead. "You used the Explosion Hex? But that's at least Third-year level!"

Hope frowned. "I just pointed and got angry, that's not a spell, that's pure emotion."

Madam Hopkirk had to wonder just who or what she was mad at.

"If you want, you can owl Professor Dumbledore," Hope added, "he'll tell you the same."

And then Hope stood once more, giving a slight nod. "Good day, madam." And then she left.

"So, how did it go?" Arthur asked he drove the blue Ford Anglia through Ottery St. Catchpole, having let Hope sit in relative silence almost the whole journey back.

"Well," Hope said slowly, "at first she thought I was lying about the whole thing, but then I convinced her to change her view."

Arthur Weasley glanced sideways at his passenger. She looked a bit tired, but lively at the same time; a strange combination. George had mentioned that she always wore a string of beads in her hair, but she must have thought that she'd grown out of them, because her hair was free of adornments apart from the single small braid to the side of her face, hiding a bit of her scar.

"The boys have told me all about you," he said, a phrase that was seemingly random after the previous short conversation they had just had, but it didn't seem as though Hope minded.

"Have they?" she asked mildly, leaning her forehead against the cool glass of the window as if she was overheated.

"George in particular has spoken quite fondly of you," he continued, sparing her a smile when he caught the rising flush of her cheeks and how her gaze shifted away.

"Has he?" she said quietly.

Mr. Weasley chuckled lightly. "Yes, he has. In fact, I can safely say that you're the only girl he's ever mentioned, much like Fred only talks about Angelina Johnson."

"Yeah, he's sweet on her," Hope agreed.

"And George is sweet on you," Mr. Weasley countered.

"Why are we having this conversation?" Hope asked, trying vainly to keep her cheeks from igniting again but failing.

Mr. Weasley smiled. "Oh, I was just trying to ascertain if you felt the same."

Hope had never been quite so astounded in all her life than in that moment. It was very clever of him, she had to admit to herself, outfoxing her like that. She'd raise a glass to Arthur Weasley in that department.

Sly and sneaky...maybe the twins took more after their father than they thought.

Trying to talk to Ginny was like pulling teeth, really, and Hope was very close to just grabbing the girl and rattling her senseless. There wasn't anything particularly wrong with her, not at all, well, other than how unbelievably painfully shy she was. The problem was that she couldn't seem to stand being in the same room as Hope for long, which made sleeping in the same room a bit awkward.

It was easy to forget about Ginny when she made herself practically nonexistent during the day and when Hope was usually off doing other things with her brothers.

"I feel kind of bad," she admitted to Mrs. Weasley as she helped her with dinner one night, quartering potatoes, "I mean, we share a room, and it's her room and all I do is go off with her brothers."

Mrs. Weasley smiled in understanding as she sliced the fat from the meat they were going to cook for dinner. "She's not usually like this, dear, she's just…star struck."

"Star struck?" Hope asked with a furrowed eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

"How do you think every Wizarding child knows the name 'Hope Potter'?" Mrs. Weasley asked rhetorically. "Hearing stories about how you vanquished You-Know-Who when you were a baby…it's just hard to equate that into someone like you."

"Someone like me?" Hope asked, quirking an eyebrow. "You make it out like I'm something bad."

"Oh, not at all," Mrs. Weasley assured her. "You're just…very normal."

Hope looked horrified at the prospect. "But that's terrible! Who'd want to be normal? That would take out all the fun in life!"

Mrs. Weasley chortled lightly. Hope and George were quite well suited with that mindset.

"What I mean," she tried to explain, "is that she is more used to you as an icon, not as a person. I don't think it's really dawned on her that you are just like other witches, just like her."

"That's…" Hope struggled to find an appropriate word for the situation, before settling on, "odd."

"Perhaps," Mrs. Weasley hummed in agreement, taking the bowl of cut potatoes from her companion, "but it is the life we live."

"It's a very judgmental life," Hope said with a sigh as she pulled the meat towards her, cutting very defined cuts into it. "If I expected everything to be the way I read it to be…well, then I'd probably be very blood prejudiced against Muggle-borns." She wrinkled her nose in disapproval. "You don't know how many books I read on that subject."

"Why bother reading them, then?" Mrs. Weasley queried as she handed the girl silverware to set on the table.

"It's always best to get the arguments from both sides," Hope said sagely. "If we didn't, the whole world would probably be in a state of anarchy."

"You are…very strange," Mrs. Weasley said to that, chuckling again, "not in a bad way of course. You're just different."

"I do try," Hope agreed with a wink. "I am a shade of grey in this hopelessly black and white world," she added in a faux-mournful voice that Mrs. Weasley was sure she'd heard her use before when she was talking with Ron.

"Call the boys in, would you?" she requested as she carried the food to the table. "They're probably—"

"OI!" came the roar from the door. "DINNER'S READY, YOU TOSSPOTS!"

Mrs. Weasley blinked and stared at Hope as if she had never quite seen her properly.

"They're coming," Hope said, a bit pointlessly, Mrs. Weasley thought, as probably everyone in a ten mile radius heard her voice. That girl had a pair of lungs on her!

"You're still calling us that?" a voice complained over her shoulder and the girl turned to be faced with a very sweaty George Weasley. Her tongue froze for a moment, before it started working again.

"Yes, I'm afraid it's quite the loveliest name to refer to you all by, don't you think?" Hope prompted.

"No," said three voices, making her pout.

"You lot ruin all my fun!" She complained, marching away with her nose in the air, ignoring their snorts of amusement.

This was turning into a very fun summer.

Chapter Text

In retrospect, Hope would have preferred Flashing to any other form of teleportation or a variation of it. But then, hardly anyone even knew what Flashing was, let alone enough for her to use it. And it is because of that mistrust that Hope got into her first predicament (or misadventure, depending on which Weasley sibling you talked to) of that summer. She should have just stuck to Flashing; it would have saved her a lot of trouble.

What was the cause of this incident, one might wonder?

A flower pot.

That's right, a simple flower pot, but this flower pot resided in a wizard's home, so it wasn't just any flower pot. It was a flower pot filled with Floo powder.

And it was being held out to Hope who looked completely bemused, staring at it with varying degrees of scepticism. It looked relatively harmless…just a simple faded orange pot with gray powder inside it, though one had to wonder why someone else would put powder of all things in a flower pot.

"Er…what is that, and what am I supposed to be doing with it?" she asked, stabbing a cautious finger at it.

"Oh, yeah!" Ron almost kicked himself for forgetting. "Hope's never travelled by Floo powder. Sorry, mate."

"And what, pray tell, is Floo powder, exactly?" Hope queried, her suspicious eyes locked on the pot as if waiting for it to spring legs and do a dance. That would be impressive. "Is it dangerous?"

"Not remotely," Mrs. Weasley said, glaring at Fred and George who were nodding feverishly with devilish grins on their faces. "But how did get to Diagon Alley last year to buy all your things?"

"Oh, Hagrid took me on the Underground and then I took a ca—" Hope started to say, but she was interrupted by Mr. Weasley.

"Really?" He said, his voice and face tinged with excitement. "Were there escapators? How exactly—"

"Not now, Arthur," Mrs. Weasley cut across her husband using the same tone she used to admonish her children. "Floo powder's a lot quicker, dear, but goodness me, if you've never used it before-"

"She'll be fine, Mum," Fred disagreed. "Hope, watch us first."

And so Hope did, watching carefully as the twin scooped up a bit of powder, tossing it into the fireplace, making the flames turn a bright acid green that rose to the top of the fireplace. Fred stepped right into the fames, and he didn't seem to be burned at all! How very strange…upon the shout of "Diagon Alley!" he promptly vanished!

Hope goggled even as George did the same. "What the—?"

"Cool, huh?" Ron asked with a grin, bumping his shoulder with hers.

"Surreal!" she said, gaping at the grate. "But Flashing's still better."

"You would say that," Ron complained.

"You can go after Arthur," Mrs. Weasley was saying as her husband disappeared into flame. "Now when you get in the fire, say where you're going."

"And keep your elbows tucked in," Ron added as she took a pinch of powder.

"And your eyes shut," Mrs. Weasley said, "the soot—"

"Don't fidget. Or you might well fall out of the wrong fireplace—"

"But don't panic and get out too early; wait until you see Fred and George."

The advice the two of them were giving her was echoing loudly in her ears giving her the distinct feeling that she was lightheaded. Really? Did they have to overwhelm her like that? She dropped the powder into the grate and winced as the rose and burned emerald. Stepping into the fire was much like one would expect; it was hot. The smoke was making her eyes water as she opened her mouth, choking on ash particles as she did so.

"D-Dia-gon Alley!" she choked out as she was sucked through the fireplace, not unlike the way a toilet was flushed. She was spinning, spinning faster than she would have liked. It was quite an uncomfortable experience that Hope wasn't planning on repeating the experience anytime soon. And then she was propelled forward and out of the fireplace, landing in a heap on someone's floor.

She sat up feeling stiff and bruised, blinking several times to clear her vision. The first thing she noticed was that she had no idea where she was, and the second thing she noticed was the shop was very…dark. She stood, glancing around for any sign of the owner. She could either hide, or she could explain her situation to him. She really wanted to go with hide.

There was a withered hand on a cushion with a card proclaiming 'Hand of Glory- Gives Light to Only the Beholder', and beside it was a pack bloodstained cards that seemed to be a likely murder weapon in a homicide and a glass eye that seemed to stare straight at her, unnerving her. That was by no means the mildest of the objects, because Hope could see an assortment of rusty (maybe bloodstained, but Hope couldn't really tell) weapons hanging from the ceiling, as well as a number of human bones on the counter and a lot of creepy masks on the wall.

This place gave her a made feeling, but she had to move fast as the front door opened and Hope hid inside the nearest available hiding place, a closet.

She had never met Draco Malfoy's father, but now she could see he bore a remarkable resemblance to him, in fact, he looked as much like a carbon copy of his father as Hope did her mother.

Hope glanced between the crack in the door to watch with open curiosity, smirking at how Malfoy was complaining like a child, "I thought you were going to buy me a present."

"I said I would buy you a racing broom," the man who must have been Lucius Malfoy as he awaited the man who owned the shop.

"What's the good of that if I don't make the house team?" Hope had never seen Malfoy act so…childish. "Hope Potter got a Nimbus Two-Thousand last year. Special permission from Dumbledore so she could play for Gryffindor. She's not even that good, it's just because she's famous…famous for having a stupid scar on her forehead…"

Hope glared at him from her hiding place, feeling a spike of anger, as she always did when dealing with Malfoy.

"…everyone thinks she's so smart, wonderful Potter with her scar and her broomstick—"

Hope stuck out her tongue at that comment, almost wishing that her enemy could see her doing it. Clearly, this wasn't the first time that Lucius Malfoy had heard the spiel, if his unimpressed response was anything to go by. But, she was far more interested in the father than the son, particularly of what he was speaking of. Apparently Malfoy Senior had some unsavoury items locked away in his manor (Manor? Really?).

It took a very long time for the Malfoys to leave, at least, long in Hope's mind. Draco came very close to discovering her, but he was called away before Hope could come up with a proper disguise (probably making herself look like a corpse, yeah, that sounded like a good idea).

It was only when Mr. Borgin, the man who owned the lovely little shop went into the back room that Hope left the safety of her cabinet.

The street beyond the store was darker, much darker than Diagon Alley. It seemed almost as though shadows themselves lived there, where it seemed only Dark Arts existed in this section of street (a glance at a mouldy wooden sign told her that it was called 'Knockturn Alley'…how suitable). The sheer accumulation of bones was astonishing, making Hope's skin crawl, and Hope had read up on Ancient Magicks.

Hope turned up her hood, so she wouldn't be recognized by any of the strange characters that meandered through the street looking for this or that. Hope could see a number of what looked like voodoo dolls, as well as a few jars of what looked like human blood. As she passed through the street she saw a number of poisoned candles (who on earth poisoned candles of all things?) and gigantic caged spiders at least the spread of two palms width.

She was feeling a bit overwhelmed when she finally saw someone she recognized.


Hope tried her hardest not to look too relieved to see the giant-sized man, but that was hard to do when you went one grate too far in the Floo Network. Hope threw back her hood as he looked in the direction that she had spoken from, running and throwing her arms around him, cane and all.

"Hope!" Hagrid grunted in surprise, lifting her by the scruff of her neck so that she was standing properly, making the back of her neck hurt a little at the grip. "What're yeh doing down here?"

"There was an accident, Floo powder," Hope said regretfully. "I got a bit lost."

"Well, come on, then," the Gamekeeper said, "Knockturn Alley's no place for Hogwarts students."

"Sorry!" Hope couldn't help but say as she followed his long strides back into the light and busy streets of Diagon Alley.


A mess of frizzy brown curls hit her face as the owner of said curls collided bodily with Hope who grunted with surprise, but somehow had managed to stay vertical only by the use of her cane.

"Hermione!" Hope hugged her friend tightly. "At last! Someone who's not ginger!"

Hermione laughed as she released her. "You're ginger, Hope!"

Hope screwed up her eyes, making her hair shorten to a short and spiky bubblegum pink. "Who's ginger now?"

Hermione giggled.

"I've missed you so much!" Hermione spoke fervently. "We knew something was wrong when you wouldn't answer any of our letters!"

"Yeah, a barmy house-elf was nicking my post," Hope said.

"A what?" Hermione gasped, but Hope shook her head, mouthing "Later." "Never mind. Are you going to Gringotts?"

"As soon as I find the Weasleys," Hope said, glancing around for the family of red-heads that stood out anywhere. She chuckled nervously. "You'd think they'd be easy to find with that bright hair of theirs…"

"Oh, there they are!" Hermione was pointing to where a small group was sprinting up the street, consisting of Ron, Fred, George, Percy, and Mr. Weasley, all of them looking quite relieved at her reappearance.

"Hope!" Mr. Weasley said in obvious relief. "We'd hoped you'd only gone one grate too far…Molly's frantic with worry –she's coming now."

"How'd you get in the wrong grate?" Percy couldn't help but ask.

"I swallowed some ash," Hope said dryly, red splotches appearing on her cheekbones.

"Where'd you come out?" Ron asked, curiosity piqued.

"A place called Knockturn Alley," Hope said with a distasteful expression on her face, but the three youngest Weasley boys were impressed.

"Wicked!" Fred and George said identically, ducking their heads around in an effort to see down the road Hope had just come from, but the view was hidden in shadow.

"We've never been allowed in," Ron bemoaned, envy colouring his voice. "What was it like?"

"Very creepy," Hope supplied with a grimace. "There were lots of bones and buckets of blood and enough poison and deadly weapons to make one consider a more peaceful way of living."

"You'd want a peaceful life?" Hermione asked incredulously.

"No, of course not," Hope disagreed, "what on earth gave you that idea?"

Hermione giggled and Ron shared a secret smile.

The last place that Hope would ever want to be was at Flourish and Blotts. It was a great bookshop, don't get her wrong, she'd gotten loads of books from there, but she had never been there during a book signing. She could sense that it was going to be a horrible experience. Hermione was quite excited about the whole matter, but Ron shared Hope's sentiment; it was too troublesome for words to express.

"What is the point of having seven books?" Hope bemoaned yet again as they entered the shop, with Hope's free arm looped around the crook of Ron's arm so she wouldn't trip or fall in the crowd. "I mean, Quirrel-Voldy was a bad teacher, but his book was amazing! So why in god's name do we need seven?"

Hermione gave her a sharp glare. "Hope, he's done a lot of amazing things—!"

"Doubtful," Hope said morbidly, "with terrible titles like these "Year with the Yeti", "Voyages with Vampires"…oh Hades, "Magical Me"?! The vanity…I thought it was bad when I read about Narcissus!"

"Who's Narcissus?" Ron asked in confusion as they were jostled to the side.

"Greek prince," Hope said, leaning back so they wouldn't be mauled by some overexcited witches, "he fell in love with his own reflection and withered away staring at it."

Ron blinked. "How is it that you know so much about Greek myths?"

"Childhood obsession," Hope admitted with a grin, but then she and Ron both swore, though not very loudly, as a short man with an annoyed expression on his face and a large camera clutched in his hands stepped on their feet in his haste to get a photo.

"Out of the way, there," he snapped to the pair of them, "this is for the Daily Prophet!"

"Big deal," said Ron, rubbing his toes, trying to get the feeling back into them.

"Who cares?" Hope said at the same time, earning her a glare.

Gilderoy Lockhart was not a very impressive man, and Hope thought she was quite right about his vanity. The way his hat was positioned made it so that his blonde hair was accented nicely and the blue of his robes matched his eyes. That blue wasn't quite the right shade, wasn't quite the real shade that Hope preferred. She wanted to gag at his appearance which was so obviously fake.

He had looked up suddenly at the two comments they'd made and his eyes automatically went to her forehead, annoying Hope greatly. His next words horrified her.

"It can't be Hope Potter?"

Before Hope had any time to react (and by react, she meant run), Lockhart had grabbed her tightly by the arm and had hauled her onto the stage. She was more stunned than anything else and was quickly losing feeling in her fingers as the man instructed her to smile at the camera (which she didn't). Each time she tugged on it, for him to release her, his grip tightened.

She was further horrified to learn that he was going to be teaching at Hogwarts, and it was only after then that he finally released her, upon doing so, she slammed the end of her cane into his toe with great pleasure.

"Arsehole," she grumbled with annoyance and embarrassment at being singled out as she lumbered back to the Weasleys, giving her books over to Ginny, as she had no use for them. She was still bullied into buying them later on, but told Mrs. Weasley she and Ron could share, earning a fond pat on the cheek. "Think I could sue him for assault?"

Ron sniggered.

"Bet you loved that didn't you?" a cold, drawling voice that could only belong to one person voice interrupted them. "Famous Hope Potter can't even go into a bookshop without making the front page."

"Oh, shove off, you twitchy git," Hope snarled, the expression on her face cold as ice. "Just because you have a need for attention doesn't mean that we all do."

As always, there was a palpable tension between the two of them. Hope really was so eloquent with her words, wasn't she?

Malfoy's cheeks burned a pale pink and he opened his mouth to speak, but at that moment Mr. Weasley and the twins had finally made their way over to where Hope, Ron, and Hermione stood.

"Ron! What're you doing? It's too crowded in here, let's go outside." The balding wizard tried to gesture his brood out the doors when he too was interrupted. Honestly, did no one know how to wait their turn?

"Well, well, well – Arthur Weasley."

Now, Lucius Malfoy was an impressive figure, though Hope loath to admit it. Power and prestige practically oozed off him, if his fine silk robes and immaculate blonde hair was anything to go by. However, he was also the sort of person that Hope distrusted immediately…there was a shadow that glimmered behind his eye that put her on edge.

"Lucius," Mr. Weasley said, his voice as frigid as Hope's had been when speaking to Malfoy Senior's son.

"Busy time at the Ministry, I hear," Mr. Malfoy said in an unfeeling voice that automatically made Hope hate him. "All those raids…I hope they're paying you overtime." Which they weren't.

As he said this, he reached into Ginny's cauldron to withdraw a worn down and reused transfiguration textbook.

"Obviously not," he said, his lips curling into an obvious sneer. "Dear me, what's the use of being a disgrace to the name of wizard if they don't even pay you well for it?"

"That's uncalled for, and quite rude, don't you think?"

His cold grey eyes swept over Hope, for it was she who had spoken. Her face was pale with anger, her eyes dark and glowing with heat. Her knuckles were white, clenched tight over the handle of her cane (it was a muggle design; she knew that he would notice right away).

She canted her head to the side, well aware that all the attention was on her, and that she was using her "dangerous" voice, as Fred had aptly named it. "Your opinion of Muggles is abysmal at best, Mister Malfoy, but I can assure you, that opinion is not shared, and as for sorry excuses of wizards…at least Mr. Weasley didn't switch sides as soon as the going got tough."

His eyes narrowed slightly at her blatant insult, but he could find no suitable words to respond to such a speech, and instead swept out of the shop with his son right behind him, glaring venomously at Hope's insolence.

The Weasleys, on the other hand, gave Hope a standing ovation, applauding her loudly and hooting with enthusiasm.

The smile Mr. Weasley gave her made her face brighten, as it had been him he had been insulting. Hermione looked faintly disapproving but smiled once she saw the relieved and amused expressions on her parents' faces. Percy was the only one who seemed to remain disapproving, because even Mrs. Weasley was smiling. Ron, on the other hand, was roaring with laughter, while Fred and George bowed to his best mate saying "We are not worthy!"

Hope had never felt so embarrassed and amused in all her life.

Sleep did not come easy to Hope the night before their departure to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. It was strange to be nervous about going back to Hogwarts, because she loved it there, and it was practically her home. But after spending this summer with the Weasleys, it almost felt as though she had a second home as well. She'd never had something like that before.

She pursed her lips lightly in annoyance, shifting onto her side, in irritated sigh left her lips as she did so.

"Are you still awake?" she said, speaking to the silent room, it seemed. A sharp intake of breath was all the answer she needed, telling her that her roommate was indeed awake.

"Nervous?" she continued, as if she often spoke to the mute red-haired girl that had hardly spoken two words to her all summer. She waited patiently for an answer, when finally Ginny whispered, "Yes."

"I was nervous, too," Hope admitted, making Ginny turn her head on her pillow to look over at her. "I didn't really have anyone to tell me how to do anything…I was a bit lost. My relatives just dropped me off at the station and left me."

"Your family left you there?" Ginny asked, stringing a sentence together for the first time in front of Hope all summer.

"Yup." Hope snorted, though mentally cheering at the accomplishment. "The Dursleys and I aren't really compatible…in fact, we hate each other's guts."

"Ron said," Ginny said slowly, gaining her confidence little by little, though she still had a deep flush gracing her cheeks, "that as soon as you're legal, you're going to move out."

"Yup," Hope said, popping the 'p' with her lips, "why torture myself further when I can be independent?"

When Hope heard the rather miniscule giggle, she knew there was hope.

Hope groaned, arching her back into the mattress. "What is with this bed? There's no nice spot at all!"

Then she sat up suddenly in bed, her expression clearing. "You know what we should do?"

"What?" Ginny asked fuzzily, rubbing at her eyes, wishing sleep would come sooner rather than later.

Green eyes met hers and the owner of said eyes grinned brightly. "We should go star-gazing."

"Star-gazing?" Ginny asked flummoxed.

Hope nodded her head, a movement Ginny could barely see in the dark. "Come on, it'll be fun!"

Ginny wasn't so sure; she couldn't see the appeal of staring up at stars for hours on end, but it was better than lying around trying to force herself to sleep.

"Alright," she sighed, throwing her legs over the bed and standing up. Hope grabbed her arm and in less time than it took her to blink, they were outside and Ginny was staring about owlishly.

However, Hope was far too busy gazing up at the stars with her head tilted back. Ginny could see why she liked to stare at them so much…there was a sort of calm beauty of the night sky that nothing could possibly compare to.

"That one's my favourite," she said, pointing up to the brightest star in the sky, "Sirius, the dog star."

"Why?" Ginny asked, her eyes following her hand and pinpointing the star with ease (none of the other stars shone as brightly as it did).

"I don't really know," Hope said, slightly amused, "but it always struck me as ironic."

"Why?" she asked again.

"No idea," Hope said with a shrug of her shoulders, a wide grin plastered onto her face as she flashed it to Ginny who flushed darkly again, embarrassed at making eye contact. "Maybe one day I'll figure it out."

The name Sirius Black was long forgotten to Hope, the letter in which he had been named lost in the depths of her trunk, and she would not realize the connection between herself and the mass murderer until the next year had come round.

Chapter Text

Chaotic was one word to describe the next morning at the Burrow. Later Hope would question how they got to the station before the train left, even if it was only by five minutes. The Weasleys apparently had a terrible organization problem, because as soon as they left the first time, George had to go back for his Filibuster Fireworks, and then they had to go back for Fred's broom, and then for Ginny's diary.

So by the time the Weasleys plus Hope wheeled their carts into the train station, they were running very behind and tempers were high.

"I'll take Ginny, you two come right after us," Mrs. Weasley told Ron and Hope as she rushed through the barrier with her daughter in hand.

Hope shrugged her shoulders as they disappeared. "Shall we?"

Ron nodded. "Together, then?"

And they wheeled their carts towards the junction between platforms Nine and Ten. Of the single thing Hope had predicted to occur, what truly did was an entirely different matter. The second their carts connected with the pillar—


The trolleys hit the pillar and bounced back, to Ron and Hope's complete and utter surprise. Trolley, students, and baggage went arse over teakettle from the force of the recoil that ended up with Hope trapped under her heavy trunk and Hedwig squawking angrily in her cage, drawing attention to them.

"What the blazes d'you think you're doing?" a guard yelled over to them as Ron picked up Hedwig and rushed to pull Hope out from under her luggage.

His yell made Hope's temper flare. "Lost control of the trolley, what're you doing?" she snapped back, helping Ron get their things back onto their carts, ignoring the purpling colour of the man's face at her comment.

Ron pressed his hands into the brick pillar. "It's completely solid!" He glanced at the clock. "Oh no! The train's leaving!"

The clock had struck eleven while they had been righting themselves.

"How are we going to get to Hogwarts now?" Ron bemoaned.

Hope pinched the bridge of nose…this could hardly be a coincidence. It had to be Dobby. She gritted her teeth in annoyance. What was it that he'd said to her? "Hope Potter must not go to Hogwarts." Well, it seemed he had succeeded, one way or another.


Hope blinked, looking at her friend, feeling as though she was completely missing something. "Sorry?"

Clearly, whatever it was, it obviously excited him. "You can Flash us to Hogwarts!" he said, his eyes and smile bright.

"What?" Hope said weakly. "Ron, I've never Flashed that far before! What if something goes wrong?"

"What if nothing does?" he countered. "Come on, Hope!"

Hope opened her mouth to refute his words when she glanced around quickly, taking note of the stares they were receiving. "Come on, we'd better get outside."

Hope thought this was a very bad idea, but unfortunately, it was also the best one, considering their current situation. So she and Ron wheeled their trolleys into an abandoned alley close to the station. At Ron's questioning look, she explained, "How do you think Muggles would react if they saw two kids disappear into thin air?"

Ron had to concede to that.

Hope moved the carts so that they were side by side, her fingers linking them together. "Okay, put your hands on mine, and don't let go."

No sooner than Ron had done so, the two of them had vanished, boy, girl, luggage, and all.

Meanwhile, six hours away from where Hope and Ron flashed from, Professor McGonagall was enjoying an early lunch, like many of her fellow colleagues (thank Merlin, though, Lockhart was still in his study), when they were suddenly interrupted by the sound of something crashing, something screeching, and then of a child swearing.

The transfiguration professor was the first one out of the Great Hall, and what she found stunned her.

Amidst a wreckage of trolley carts and school trunks and a bird cage, Ron Weasley and Hope Potter lay. Ron looked quite pale, and he was holding up his friend who was clutching her profusely bleeding arm, looking almost translucent.

"Ah, Professor," Hope said faintly, "so lovely to see you. I'm afraid I'm going to need a healer."

She wasn't wrong, but Madam Pomfrey had her fixed up in seconds and drinking a mild blood restorative potion with a look of disgust.

"Next time," she said seriously to Ron, "let's just take the flying car to Hogwarts."

Professor McGonagall wasn't quite sure if she was joking or not. She hoped she was or she'd have to have a few words with Arthur Weasley.

"Miss Potter, Mr. Weasley, perhaps one of you can enlighten me as to your sudden appearance at Hogwarts six hours ahead of schedule?" Professor Dumbledore inquired of his most curious student. Miss Hope Potter hadn't changed much since June. Her hair was now long enough to be tied in a low ponytail, which it was, her fringe hiding her scar from view. Her lips were set in a frown and her eyes were slightly narrowed, doing a spot on impression of Lily Evans.

"We couldn't get through the barrier," Hope said rather bluntly, "so we Flashed here."

"Flashed?" Snape's lips curled into a sneer, but it was met with one of Hope's own.

"Yes, Flashed. It's a method of teleportation that is far superior to apparition, invented by Salazar Slytherin himself," Hope said snidely, "I wouldn't expect you to know about it because it's only referenced once in his only diary, and I'm the one who owns it."

"Miss Potter," Professor McGonagall warned, and Hope fell silent.

"I didn't think it was a good idea," Hope admitted, "but we were attracting too much attention, so here we are."

"You could have sent an owl," Professor McGonagall said dryly.

"Oh!" Hope and Ron's eyes widened almost comically. "Yeah, we probably could've done that."

Professor McGonagall had to resist the urge to snort at the pair –something she found she was constantly doing towards the daughter of one of the infamous pranksters of Hogwarts. Oh, it was going to be a trying year, she could just see it.

Hermione didn't see Hope until the next day, though she did see Ron at dinner, and he assured her that it was just a small stomach bug, nothing to be worried about. So she, Parvati Patil, and Lavender Brown were extra careful when they went up to their dorm, because her curtains were already drawn around her bed and a half-eaten plate of shepherd's pie lay on her bedside table next to her wand.

At breakfast Hope looked a little tired, but not as much as she had last year when she had to make up all that work from when she was in the hospital. And she seemed to be taking the whispers and stares rather well, considering.

"I can't believe you Flashed to Hogwarts!" Hermione was positively raving. "Couldn't you have done something more sensible?"

"This is us you're talking about, right?" Hope inquired, quirking an eyebrow. "Not someone else?"

Ron sniggered into his bacon.

"Oh, shut up," Hermione said, her cheeks pinking. "Are you feeling better?"

"Much," Hope admitted, frowning slightly, "it must have been a side-effect of Flashing so far…"

"Hey, sleeping beauty!"

"Prince Charming," Hope said in reply, her tone as dry as the Sahara Desert, "you must stop flirting with me; people will begin to talk…"

Both of the twins laughed at that.

Ron gagged. "Come on! Do you two have to do that when I'm eating?"

"Yes," Hope and George said with matching grins.

"Have you got Lockhart today?" Fred asked conversationally.

"This afternoon," Hope bemoaned. "I know I'm going to hate that class, I just know it! I'm going to die!"

"Better you than us," the twins chirped, ducking as bits of egg were tossed their way as they ran from the hall.

"Gits," Hope muttered, dismembering her sausages and sticking them in her mouth.

"We'd better get going," Hermione said, checking her watch, "we've got Herbology in ten minutes with the Hufflepuffs."

Herbology went surprisingly well, in Hope's opinion. She'd never really had a fondness towards the care and identification of magical plants, but the Mandrakes were a whole different matter. They were really weird, looking a great deal like fat little earth babies with a cry that could kill you. Even muffled, the sound was pretty bad. In this particular greenhouse, they were all paired in groups of four, in charge of repotting the Mandrakes, something Hope hoped she never had to do again. Hope, Ron, and Hermione were paired with a Hufflepuff boy by the name of Justin Finch-Fletchley; he was a chatter box, even with the earmuffs. One might say that he talked too much.

Herbology was a brief respite for the hellish lesson that was to come, and after lunch Hope, Ron, and Hermione found themselves in the stone courtyard, talking about their summers, family, and about nothing in particular, waiting for the bell to ring, signalling that they should begin heading to class.

Hope could tell the Hermione was a little upset that Ron had seen the most of her in the past few weeks, so she was trying to speak more to her than to Ron.

"I was in a terrible mood!" she laughed with Hermione, spreading out her hands as she spoke. "How else was I supposed to react to someone who's a complete and utter arse?"

"Maybe more tactfully," Hermione offered with a smile.

"But I don't think they know what that is!" Hope said with amusement. Hermione couldn't stop a laugh at that.

The hairs on the back of Hope's neck tingled, as if someone was watching her, and once she looked up she knew why. The person who was watching her must have been a new student. He was wearing the Gryffindor crest and had a bit of a mousy face and clutched in his hands was a camera. Cameras were quickly becoming a hated thing for Hope, not including the one that was shared between every member of Gryffindor House.

"Can I help you?" she asked mildly.

The fact that she was talking to him seemed to embarrass him greatly, because his face turned a bright red.

"H-Hi!" he breathed in excitement. "I'm –I'm Colin Creevey. I'm in Gryffindor too. D'you think –would it be alright if– can I have a picture?" he asked breathlessly.

"A picture?" Hope arched an eyebrow. "No. Why?"

His face fell and Hope felt a little bad, but she wasn't very much into being a subject of a photo that wasn't for her or her friends. "So I can prove that I've met you. I know all about you, everyone's told me. About how you survived when You-Know-Who tried to kill you and how he disappeared and everything and how you've still got a lightning bolt scar on your forehead and a boy in my dormitory said if I develop the film in the right potion, the pictures'll move." The excitement had returned to his voice and face. "It's amazing here, isn't it? I never knew all the odd stuff I could do was magic till I got the letter from Hogwarts. My dad's a milkman, he couldn't believe it either. So I'm taking loads of pictures to send home to him. And it'd be really good if I had one of you, and then, could you sign it?"

He seemed to have distinctly forgotten that Hope had quite fervently said "No." Her irritation about the whole matter grew in leaps and bounds once she heard a very familiar cold voice. "Signed photos? You're giving out signed photos, Potter?"

"You know, I rather think you would benefit from a trip to the hospital wing, Malfoy," Hope said in a surprisingly mild voice. "If she can't cure you of your delusions of superiority, then at least she can cure your deafness."

A multitude of snorts echoed through the courtyard and Malfoy opened his mouth angrily, but Hope waved whatever he was going to say off. "You might want to think about what you say next, Malfoy, because I'm sure you don't have the brains for it."

She was so going to get in trouble for this later, but at the moment, Hope was far too annoyed; restraint was something she would practice at a later date.

"Did someone mention signed photos?"

"Oh, gods!" Hope muttered as Gilderoy Lockhart flounced –yeah, that's right, flounced– into the courtyard, wearing turquoise robes that brought attention to his eyes. Hope gagged, in front of him, and he didn't even notice. Was he purposefully blind to the fact that she really didn't like him? He must have been.

He gave a beaming smile at the sight of her. "Shouldn't have asked! We meet again, Hope!"

Horror-struck, Hope found herself glued to his side and a subject of a photo that she hadn't wanted in the first place, and then she found herself being steered to her next class which was unfortunately his.

"A word to the wise, Hope," Lockhart was saying. "I covered up for you back there with young Creevey –if he was photographing me too, your schoolmates won't think you're setting yourself up so much…"

"And we wouldn't want that," Hope said with biting sarcasm, still attempting to wrestle herself from his grip, but it wasn't working so much in her favour. She could see a number of students laughing silently at her predicament; she glared at them.

"Let me just say that handing out signed photos at this stage in your career isn't sensible – looks a tad bigheaded, Hope, to be frank. There may well come a time when, like me, you'll need a stack handy wherever you go, but I don't think you're quite there yet."

Hope was so angry, embarrassed, and irritated that she couldn't come up with the proper words to voice how she felt, so instead, like in Flourish and Blotts, she slammed the end of her cane into his foot, and then swept it harshly between his legs, relishing in the squeak he made.

"Yeah," she snarled, "great advice, tosspot."

"I will kill him," Hope threatened, her fork carving a chip out of her plate that night at dinner, practically seething. "Unbelievable! How can someone be so arrogant and unintelligent at the same time? How has stayed alive for so long?"

"Sheer dumb luck," Ron offered.

Hermione gave the pair of them glares. "I think you two are being too harsh on him; he's a professor!"

"And what's he taught us?" Hope retorted. "How to successfully run out of a classroom? How to not give a wand to a pixie? Or maybe how to not unleash pixies on unsuspecting students?" She rubbed her eyes with a tired hand as the Laughing Gas plus their ladies came to sit beside her.

"So," Lee said without preamble, "how bad was Lockhart?"

Hope groaned loudly and the upperclassmen laughed.

"I have never met someone so…ooh!" Hope complained, flexing her fingers inwards every few seconds like claws. In fact, she looked vaguely feral-like all around, whether by intention or not. "I'm not going to last the year with him as a teacher…which is why he is going to find himself subjected to a prank in five minutes."

"A girl after my own heart," George said solemnly, pressing a hand to his chest directly over his heart, acting touched.

Hope rolled her eyes, now rubbing at her jaw where a bruise was forming from one of the pixie's attacks. "Don't make me hit you, Weasley, you know I will."

George laughed, the laughter soon joined by a majority of the hall as Gilderoy Lockhart expanded to the size of a small car.

"There," Hope said, sounding pleased, "now he's the proper size for his ego…or at least closer to the proper size…"

"You are amazing!" Angelina said fondly, making the red-haired girl flush with pleasure at the praise.

"I do try," she admitted. "It wasn't much."

But Hermione looked horrified. "You blew up a teacher!"

"Yup!" Hope said, popping the 'p'. "Come on, Hermione! Don't be that way! You saw how terrible he was today!"

"Hands on experience!" Hermione cried in their Defence Against the Dark Arts professor's defence, ignoring the other professors who were attempting –half-heartedly– to pull down the bloated egotistical man and reverse Hope's expansion charm.

"Of course," Hope said dryly, rolling her eyes.

But to Hermione's dismay, everyone seemed to appreciate the prank in the common room late that night, applauding the metamorphmagus who had turned five shades of red that she hadn't been sure existed. This was a sort of fame that Hope would gladly revel in, she knew, because it wasn't for something she didn't remember, or something that her parents had done, so she couldn't help but spare a fond smile to her friend as she excused herself from the crowd to make her way up to the dorm room for the second year girls of Gryffindor House.

Parvati Patil was already there, putting her clothes into the dresser by her bed, as she apparently hadn't the night before, sparing her a quick smile before going back to her diligent work. Hope's gaze landed on the green leather bound journal that lay on her bedside table, patterned with a serpent.

That was the journal that contained the personal thoughts of her grandfather. It had been among the books that Hope had removed from her vaults before the beginning of first year, but she had never begun to read it in earnest until that Christmas, after she'd met the man and bid him farewell at the same time. She had judged him harshly, she knew, but his opinion of those born Muggles or from Muggles with magic was even worse than Mr. Malfoy's. And at the same time, his past was so heartbreaking sad, especially concerning his wife, whom he had stated in his writing "had a beauty like no other, whether illuminated by sun or moon, she was a gift only gods could bequeath unto the earth."

She flipped through the pages of the book, suddenly frantic. The picture of her grandmother! It was gone!

Parvati turned away from the dresser to make her way over to her trunk once more, when she almost stepped on something that looked very old. She bent down to pick it up, her interest piqued.

Hope must have dropped it the night before, or maybe it fell out of one of her books, Parvati mused as she held up the flimsy parchment to the light. On it was a sketch of a truly beautiful young woman with a secretive smile and bright eyes, garbed in a medieval gown that wouldn't have looked out of place in a Renaissance fair. She could see a little of Hope in her, with that smile of hers.

"Hope? Are you looking for this?" she questioned the girl, holding out the portrait to the frantically searching girl who relaxed instantly when she caught sight of what the Indian witch was holding.

"Oh, thank gods," Hope murmured as she took the picture from Parvati –gingerly so as not to tear it– cradling it in her hands. "I'd worried I'd lost it…it's the only picture I've got of her."

"She's beautiful."

"Thank you," said Hope, pride in her voice.

"Who is she?" Parvati asked.

Hope smiled sadly. "She's my grandmother, of a sort; she has too many greats attached to her name for me to count."

Parvati watched as she trailed a finger over the woman's silhouette. "What was her name?"

"Morea," Hope said quietly, "Morea of the Earth."

"The Hamadryad?" Parvati said in surprise. It wasn't as uncommon for magical children to read about the Greek myths as one would think, and Parvati in particular had been fascinated as a child by the women who could be trees and enchant gods.

Hope laughed aloud. "Heavens, no. She was named after the dryad, but she was not the dryad…apparently she was aptly named." She was blinking furiously now. "Sorry, I'd just read the part about…how she died in my grandfather's diary yesterday, I'm not usually this emotional."

"I think you're just better at hiding your feelings," Parvati disagreed, watching her closely, before asking gently, "How did she die?"

"She was murdered." Hope swiped a few fingers over her eyes, ridding them of liquid. "Her son…Adrian…got in too deep with the Dark Arts, it drove him mad…have you read the tale of Hercules?" Parvati nodded in confusion. "You know where Hercules slaughtered his wife and three sons? That's what Adrian did…he lost control…"

She seemed lost in thought for a long moment, giving a weak chuckle. "Sometimes I forget that the tenth century was called the Dark Ages for a reason."

"The amount of Dark magic that was used would sometimes create a dark cloud that would hover in the air over where the magic was used."

Hope blinked in surprise. "How did you know about that?"

Parvati gave her a smile. "You think you're the only one who reads up on ancient history? Not by a long shot."

"I'm impressed," Hope said, placing the portrait back where she'd found it, between the creases of the pages of Salazar Slytherin's journal, tying the leather cord around it again and putting it back in her trunk. "You don't seem like a smarty-pants."

Parvati actually gave her a laugh at that. "I've never heard that one before. You didn't think Padma was the only one of us that inherited the brains of the family, did you?"

"One can never too sure with identical twins," Hope mused, her lips twitching upwards, "it's hard to tell with Fred and George, they're so similar, but you and Padma seem so different."

"We are," Parvati admitted, "we like being our own person, and we're not a tight as the Weasley twins, but that doesn't mean we don't love each other, or anything."

"I understand," Hope said, "I mean, I probably would better if I actually had siblings…but Hermione and I are practically related, I guess."

"Practically." Parvati grinned. "That prank of yours was brilliant, by the way."

"Thank you," Hope preened, "but you should seen him when I gave him the cane to his bits."

And then the dormitory was filled with peals of laughter.

Chapter Text

Hope had received a lot of strange things, even so, Hope was very surprised to find a letter addressed to her one morning, accentuated with a crescent moon.

You might want to read up on the Hogwarts regulations for Quidditch, I get the feeling tomorrow that you'll need it.

Though she was a bit curious of the message, Hope did as she asked, and the morning after, she was glad she did.

"Hope!" a voice hissed. "Wake up, sleepy-head!"

"Mmah?" Hope mumbled, throwing up an arm to shield her eyes as Angelina Johnson opened the curtains that surrounded her bed. "Wazzgoingon?"

"Quidditch practice," Angelina said duly. "Get dressed."

Hope moaned as she buried her face into her pillow, but she got up at Angelina's insistence.

If they had gone right into flying, maybe Hope would have been able to stay awake, but, as it was, Hope was deathly tired and the sun was barely peeking over the horizon, adding to her belief that they really shouldn't have even been up.

She fell asleep about half-way through Oliver's second board.

"So, is that clear? Any questions?" Oliver said, his voice jerking Hope suddenly awake.

"I've got a question, Oliver," George said, yawning widely and appearing as though he too had fallen asleep, which was highly likely, knowing him like she did, "why couldn't you have told us all this yesterday when we were awake?"

Hope coughed to hide a laugh.

That question didn't impress Oliver much, who glared at them all.

"Now listen here, you lot," he hissed, "we were lucky to even win the Cup last year…due to certain circumstances –so this year we're going to train harder, now let's put these theories to practice!"

Hope couldn't mirror his enthusiasm. As they trudged out onto the field, Hope caught sight of Ron and Hermione sitting in the stands, waiting for her to finish.

"Done yet?" Ron called as she jogged over to meet them, gratefully taking the napkin filled with grapes from Hermione ("I figured that it was the only thing that wouldn't spill or anything.").

"Haven't even started," Hope complained around her mouthful of grapes, earning a stern stare from Hermione. "And I fell asleep in the middle of Oliver's theories so I have no idea what we're supposed to be doing."

"Bad luck," Ron said.

She rolled her eyes, kicking off of the ground and flying over to where the rest were hovering in the air.

"Fancy a race, Potter?" George asked with a grin.

"Get ready to lose, Weasley!"

And then the three of them were speeding through the air, doing complicated spins and turns that one wouldn't have been able to do at all if they hadn't had prior training in the art of Quidditch.

Everything was wonderful until she heard that clicking noise that was more often than not accompanied with a camera. She groaned; really, what was with this kid? He took stalking to a whole different level.

"What's that?" Fred asked, swerving his broom as he looked around for the source of the noise. "Where's that noise coming from?"

"First year Gryffindor," Hope said in annoyance, "one who's got an obsession with taking photos."

Fred snorted, glancing back. That was an understatement.

"Look this way, Hope, this way!"

"How much trouble do you think I'd get in for killing him?" Hope asked him mutinously, her expression going downright scary.

"Maybe life in Azkaban," Fred contemplated thoughtfully.


"What's going on?" Oliver had skimmed the air until he hung in the air close to the three of them. "Why's that first year taking pictures? I don't like it. He could be a Slytherin spy, trying to find out about our new training program."

"He's a Gryffindor, Oliver," Hope said curtly, rolling her eyes again.

"Besides, the Slytherins don't need a spy," George said.

"What makes you say that?" Oliver asked in annoyance.

"Because they're here in person." The whole team followed his finger, where it pointed off into the distance, where a small group of green-clad boys were approaching the field.

"Unbelievable!" Oliver growled. "I booked the field today! We'll see about this!"

All the Gryffindors dismounted, with varying degrees of irritation and anger.

"Flint!" Oliver roared, stomping up to the burly and bulky Slytherin Captain, Marcus Flint, who seemed to be amused by the anger present on Oliver's face. "This is our practice time! We got up specially! You can clear off now!"

Unfortunately, that didn't deter the bigger team captain, who smirked. "Plenty of room for all of us, Wood."

Hope snorted. "Yeah, like that would happen. There is a point to having teams practice separately, you know."

Flint sneered at her. "What would you know of it, you lame—"

"Hey!" barked the whole team as one, and George pushed Hope behind him, much to her annoyance. "You shut up about her."

"Oh, were you talking to me?" Hope asked from around George. "I thought you were talking to yourself, because if you were, I quite agree with you."

So much sass could not be contained inside of Hope it seemed, because she was starting to sound an awful lot like she did when she was talking to Quirrell-Voldy.

"But I booked the field!" Oliver snapped, his cheeks bright red, bringing the two teams back to the task at hand. "I booked it!"

"Ah, but I've got a specially signed note here from Professor Snape. 'I, Professor S. Snape, give the Slytherin team permission to practice today on the Quidditch field owing to the need to train their new Seeker.'"

This news distracted Oliver briefly. "New Seeker? You've got a new Seeker? Who?"

Her stomach reeled as Draco Malfoy came out from behind the taller, more impressive boys of the Slytherin team, his smirk earning him an incredulous look. "Malfoy?"

"Aren't you Lucius Malfoy's son?" Fred and George were gazing at the younger boy with increasing dislike.

"Funny you should mention Draco's father. Let me show you the generous gift he's made to the Slytherin team."

Each member of the team was holding a brand new broom that was sleek and black with not a twig in disarray. Nimbus Two Thousand and One was inscribed on the handles of each one.

"You got your father to bribe the team to take you on?" Hope snorted. "You've got to be kidding me…"

Draco's lips curled into a sneer as Ron and Hermione made their way over to the group.

"What's going on?"

"I'm the new Seeker, Weasley. Everyone's just been admiring the brooms my father's bought for our team," Malfoy said with a superior smirk.

"Well, at least none of the Gryffindor players had to buy their way onto the team," Hermione said, feeling much braver than usual, channelling a bit of Hope. "They got in on pure talent."

Malfoy's expression darkened significantly at her words, and he snarled out, "No one asked for your opinion, you filthy little Mudblood."

Hope didn't know what that word meant, but it must have been bad, because the Gryffindors exploded in an angry gusto of the likes that she had never seen before. Fred and George in particular looked ready to rip out Malfoy's eyes and the girls were shrieking profanities at the boy. Everything came to a rather sudden stop at the sound similar to a cannon being fired, and everyone turned to see Hope holding her wand.

Like that time in the lower chamber with Quirrell-Voldy, she only came up with pure emotion, though this time, it was annoyance.

"Now that I have your attention," Hope said dryly, crossing her arms in irritation, "how about this, one player from each team goes and gets their Head of House and have them work out this issue, alright?"

Surprisingly, they all agreed (or at least didn't press the issue).

"What d'you thinks they're talking about?" George muttered to Hope from where she sat next him on the front row of the stands, her fist pressed into her face, looking very bored…and hungry.

"Probably trying to make a compromise about when each team gets to use the pitch," Hope said in a monotonous voice. "It's in the school rules that teams have to sign up for whichever days they want to practice, and no signature from a teacher is going to change that."

She looked up and around to find everyone staring at her. "What?"

"Nothing," they all said quickly.

She glared at them all. "A fellow student gave me a tip-off that this was going to happen today."

"A student gave you a tip-off?" Oliver said astounded, repeating her words.

"Yeah," she said in a voice that implied an 'and so?'. "Oh, look, they're done."

"Mr. Wood," Professor McGonagall said in a firm voice, "you and your teammates have the pitch until lunchtime comes around, and then it belongs to the Slytherins."

"Fine," Oliver said with a despairing sigh. "Come on, team, let's warm up."

"Miss Potter," Professor McGonagall's words stalled her as she stood, "a word please."

Hope squeezed Hermione's shoulder reassuringly as her eyes were a little red before loping gracelessly towards her favourite teacher. "Yes, professor?"

"Professor Dumbledore has asked me to inform you that 'Flashing' has been incorporated into the forms of teleportation that are not able to be used in the school," Professor McGonagall said seriously, "and I would advise you against using it."

"That's…fair, I suppose," Hope agreed, before wincing. "Er…about the day Ron and I got here…I might have lied a little."

Professor McGonagall arched a thin eyebrow, frankly surprised that she was admitting to such a thing. "About what exactly?"

"About Flashing," Hope admitted. "When I said that Flashing was superior to apparition. It was created before apparition, but there were a couple…defects, I suppose you could say."

"Miss Potter," her voice was filled with warning, "what is it that was defective about it?"

"Using Flashing is like being exposed to radiation for too long," Hope tried to explain in simpler terms than how her grandfather had worded it, "It kind of creates a poison in the veins the longer you use it." She held out her wrist, showing that the blue veins were now a colour closer to black. "Prolonged usage, Madam Pomfrey has told me, is fatal, so I'm stopping Flashing, for good, and I'll be back to full speed in a week or two once the poison's diluted in my blood."

"I see," Professor McGonagall said, sounding much calmer than Hope would have expected. "It seems Madam Pomfrey has you well looked after, Miss Potter."

Hope laughed lightly. "Always. See you, professor!"

Professor McGonagall watched her jog away, her bright hair flying out behind her like a crimson banner. Sometimes –and by sometimes, she meant always– she worried about that reckless nature of hers.

"You two go on ahead," Hope told her friends with a dismissive wave of her hand, "trust me, I'll be fine. Madam Pomfrey's just doing a check-up on me, that's all."

"For your leg?" Hermione persisted. "Or something else?"

Hermione really was the cleverest witch of her age, wasn't she? Hope gave an internal wince at her friend's ability to see through her.

"I'll be fine," she repeated.

Hermione huffed a little at that, but she allowed herself to be dragged away by Ron who promised to come find her as soon as dinner was out.

"You don't want to tell them," Madam Pomfrey noticed as Hope rolled up her sleeve a little for her to take her pulse.

"I don't want them to worry," Hope corrected, "there's a difference."

"If you say so," Madam Pomfrey said agreeably, pressing two fingers to Hope's wrist, over the pulse point. "Now breathe normally for me.

Hope breathed in, exhaling shortly after, and then repeated the process until Madam Pomfrey told her she was done.

"Your heart rate's faster than it was before, but it's still a little slow," Madam Pomfrey said, "I want you to come by again in a few days, alright? So I can be sure that the poison is leaving your system."

"Yes, ma'am," Hope said with a mock-salute, before asking her, "Madam Pomfrey, do you know what the word 'Mudblood' means?"

Madam Pomfrey dropped a vial of potion that she was putting away, whirling around to snap at Hope. "Don't ever say that word! You hear me? Ever!"

Surprised by her vehemence, Hope recoiled slightly and stared. "Why? What does it mean?"

The Matron of Hogwarts sighed tiredly. It wasn't really Hope's fault, it was clear she didn't know the connotations of the word. "Hope, you know how some people view Muggle-borns, don't you?"

"Yeah…" Hope said slowly. "Why?"

"Mudblood is a…derogatory name for someone who was born to non-magical parent," Madam Pomfrey said slowly. "Pure-bloods think of them as if they have dirty blood, the opposite of Pure-bloods."

Hope's face was strangely blank of emotion, before her eyes sparked with anger, turning a bright and angry red, much like her hair. "That's horrible."

"It is," Madam Pomfrey agreed. "But some people simply think like that…I take it that someone insulted Miss Granger today?"

"Don't worry, the whole team cheered her up before we started practicing," Hope said.

"Good," Madam Pomfrey replied. "Now you come straight back here if you start feeling sick, dizzy, light-headed, the like. Are you listening to me, Miss Potter?"

"Yeah, I heard you," Hope said in irritation, unrolling her sleeve and reaching forward to take back her cane when Madam Pomfrey grabbed it and moved it out of reach.

"I want you to start using your leg fully, Hope," the woman said seriously. "That's the only way it's going to heal completely, and you said you stopped having pain over the summer."

"Yeah," Hope admitted, her eyes dropping to her leg, as if she was capable of seeing through the fabric to where the jagged pink line marred the flesh of her shin. "I'm just…"

"I know," Madam Pomfrey said gently, "but it's your leg, you need to get used to using it."

"I suppose," Hope muttered through a sigh. She stood up slowly, experimentally putting her weight on the leg. It didn't give her a flare of pain as a warning, so that was good. She took a few tentative steps; same response.

She let out the breath she hadn't realized that she had been holding. "Okay, but if this doesn't work, I'll be back here before you know it."

"Oh, I know," Madam Pomfrey said with a slight grin, "now get going; there's a plate in the Great Hall waiting for you."

"Oh, I know," Hope said, repeating her words. "See you later, Poppy!"

"That's Madam Pomfrey to you, Miss Potter!"

Hope laughed lightly as she limped through the doors, making her way slowly down the stairs. It was remarkably quiet without all the students rushing about. Deadly quiet. Hope's own footsteps echoed in the silence, in an almost creepy way, she had to admit. The flickering flames of the torches that hung on the wall cast an odd glow, an odd shadow on the stone that made up the structure of the entire castle. Sometimes those shadows could be quite freaky.

She would have gladly continued on, oblivious to the monster that lay beneath the floors, that is, she would have, had she not heard something, something that was low and guttural, dangerous and cold. A voice that chilled her to the bone and froze her in her tracks.

"Come…come to me…Let me rip you…Let me tear you…Let me kill you…"

A murderous voice that echoed in her ears, making her heart stutter frantically as she whirled around, searching for the owner of the voice.

"Hello?" she called out faintly. "Is anyone there?"

But no one answered her.

"I know you're there!" she said, her voice stronger this time. "I can hear you!"

But still, there was only silence as an answer to her words. Hope frowned; she couldn't have imagined that voice, could she? She was pretty sure that she wasn't much into killing. Could the voice becoming from within—


The red-haired girl spun around to see her two friends running towards her, and she quickly removed her hand from the wall.

"I thought you two were still at dinner," Hope said in surprise.

"We finished and came looking for you," Ron gasped out, winded from the short run.

"We thought you might still be in the hospital wing," Hermione said logically, "but when we went to check, Madam Pomfrey said you'd already gone, so we figured that you would have taken the straightest route."

"Ah," Hope said helpfully, scratching her cheek, "am I that predictable?"

"Sometimes," they said at the same time, making them blush and Hope smirk with hidden amusement.

"You're really pale," Hermione noticed, "are you sure that you don't need to go back to Madam Pomfrey again?"

"Oh, no," Hope said, "I'm fine." She was still looking down the hall for something that couldn't be seen, though.

"What is it?" Ron asked, looking in that direction too, but seeing nothing.

"I thought…" Hope's voice faded away, her lips set in a confused frown. "It's nothing, forget about it."

"What is it?" Hermione prodded. "Come on, something's got you…befuddled."

Hope rolled her eyes at her. "It's just that…before you two turned up, I thought I heard a voice, only there's no one around."

She missed the worried looks that were exchanged behind her as she turned to look around once more. "It had to be real," she murmured to herself.

"Well," said Ron, chuckling nervously, "it can't have been someone invisible, because even they can make sounds."

"I know," Hope said annoyed, looking back at them. "Do you reckon I should tell someone? McGonagall or someone else?"

"No!" Hermione said quickly, "even hearing voices in the Wizarding world is a bad sign."

"You think I made it up?"

"No, but if what that house-elf told you is true," Hermione said slowly, sharing glances with both of them, "then maybe it has something to do with that plot that it was so scared of occurring."

"Maybe," Hope murmured, glancing back at the wall with growing suspicion.

The flames flickered in the fireplace, burning brands into the wood and releasing smoke and heat. It was late into the night by now, but Hope couldn't sleep, not with all the things that were on her mind, not with that voice plaguing her thoughts.

"…Let me kill…"


She jumped violently and swore loudly at the sudden voice.

"By the gods!" she gasped, clutching at her chest, within which her heart was racing, looking up into George's blue eyes. His eyes were crinkled up in the corners at her response, and she blushed, hard.

"Oh, shut up," she muttered, casting her eyes from him. "Anyone would react like that if you snuck up on them."

Truthfully, he hadn't really snuck up on her, but she must have been so lost in thought that it didn't matter anyways. "Sure," he said with a smirk, before looking her over, "what are you doing down here? Can't sleep already?"

"It's more of my mind is too active," Hope corrected him, her lips upturning slightly. "What're you doing up?"

"I'm mentally devising new pranks," George said in a snobbish tone, sticking up his nose like he was arrogant, or something. "I'm brilliant, as you know."

"Do I know?" Hope asked mildly. "I'm afraid I wasn't too aware of your acclaimed brilliance, are you sure you have it?"

"Oh, absolutely," George grinned.

Hope turned her gaze back to the fire.

"I'm starting to think you have an obsession with fire," George mentioned as he sat down beside her. "You spend an awful lot of time looking at it."

"I just think fire's fascinating," Hope said dismissively. "Muggles have learned how to change its colour, you know? Just like wizards can, only I think it involved something to do with salt…" She frowned for a moment, trying to recall what exactly had to be done for the colour change to occur, but then she just shook her head and gave up. "I thought that was the most insane thing I'd ever heard as a kid. Imagine a fire being green, or blue, or even purple!" Her eyes changed to every colour she named. "It must seem strange to you, but you grew up with fires turning different colours I guess…"

"Sometimes," George admitted, "though Mum and Dad weren't too keen on changing the colour of the fire, they were afraid we'd stick our pudgy hands into it."

Hope laughed lightly. "Well, I don't think they'd be wrong in that aspect, but I think seeing it a couple times would be cool."

George wasn't sure what to say to that, so he just sat quietly beside her, watching the fire in the fireplace.

"George, can I ask you something?" Hope said suddenly.

"Sure," he said in response, "what is it?"

"That day in the Surrey Zoo," she said, looking at him in the eyes –hers were still purple, he noticed–, "why did you go and talk to me?"

He stared at her. What a strange question to ask to him, but not one he wasn't capable of answering.

"I thought…" he said slowly, "'Merlin, what a gorgeous bird!'"

She hit him, hard, in the ribs, her face flaming red, almost the same colour as the fire. "You're terrible!" she complained. "Can't you be serious?"

He waggled his eyebrows at her. "What makes you think I wasn't?"


"Fine." He pouted briefly, but she was looking at him so imploringly that he couldn't help but open his mouth and speak once more. "I saw a girl sitting all by herself, forgotten by the world and alone in every possible way. I noticed you because you needed someone to notice you, to see you. I noticed you, because I looked beyond what you seemed and I found a beautiful, fun, sarcastic, smart, impertinent girl who has completely changed my life."

Her face had gone beet red. "Now you're just pulling my leg; I can't have possibly changed your life that much."

"Oh, really?" He quirked an eyebrow daringly.

"Yeah." She lifted one of her own.

He smirked. "Goodnight, Hope."

"Night," she called after him, "and if you tell Fred about this…I'll kill you."

George had to smother his laughter so that he wouldn't awaken anyone with it, but Hope was more focused on the words he had used before.

"I noticed you, because I looked beyond what you seemed…"

She smiled.

Chapter Text

It was a full moon tonight. Hope leaned her elbows on the stone railing that overlooked Hogwarts' vast land, staring up at bright star-filled sky. The stars always seemed to shine brighter when the full moon was out, but it was far easier to star-gaze when the moon wasn't out. She sighed longingly, flexing her stiff wrists. She assumed the stiffness had to do with the blood poisoning from flashing, but, even though Madam Pomfrey had told her to come back to her if she ever felt anything out of place, Hope didn't want to spend longer than she had to in that hospital ward.

Her leg tingled slightly as she twitched it, but like the whole day, she felt no pain, and that, all by itself, was liberating. The leg still had tremors every so often, but Hope had been assured that that was a passing thing.

And sleep was not coming easily to her this night, so she had opted to wander around in the night, knowing the patrols like she did (one could not wander around Hogwarts at night without knowing the patrols). It was not uncommon for her to do so, not to say that she was an insomniac, just someone who was fascinated by the castle. Wandering about at night or at day was something Hope Potter was becoming renowned for; earning the respect of the Weasley Twins who considered anything that involved breaking rules to be a plus.

The patrols were something wandering students always had to be on the lookout for, but Hope had once actually mapped out a timetable for when each patrol passed a certain sector, taking into account the possibility for being ahead of time or being behind. Single patrols were always teachers and double patrols were always prefects or the Head Boy and Girl. The next one wasn't due to pass by her for another ten minutes, so she was a little surprised when she heard the sound of patient footsteps. Patient single footsteps. This was remarkably strange as the next patrol that was due to pass was one that was made of students, not of teachers.

She didn't even have time to hide when the owner of the footsteps stepped into the corridor, and Hope couldn't help but be surprised by who they belonged to.

It was just a girl.

Her eyes were closed and her blonde straggly hair swung back and forth with every movement she made. Hope had thought that her gait was rather strange, but that was until she realized the girl was sleepwalking.

"Hey…" she nudged the girl, but she didn't respond until Hope gave her a sharp jab in the cheek, and then a pair of silvery-blue eyes fluttered open.

"Oh, hello," the girl said dreamily.

"Hello," Hope said, a little nonplussed. "You were sleepwalking."

"Was I?" she asked in bemusement. "I do that quite a lot. It's why I wear my shoes to bed, you see."

Hope looked down as the girl wiggled her toes in her bright red converses.

"Okay…" Hope looked at her oddly. "Do you need some help getting back to your common room?"

"Oh, yes, please," she said in a vague voice, "that would be lovely."

"What's your house?" Hope asked, her eyes taking in the bottle-cap necklace she was wearing over her dressing gown with curiosity.


"That's only a floor up," Hope mused, looking off into the distance. "The next patrol up there doesn't start for another fifteen minutes, so come on."

Luna Lovegood recognized Hope Potter as all did upon seeing the scar that marred the flesh of her forehead. She was surprised that the older girl was out late, but then, she apparently had a reputation for bending the rules. She walked with a slight limp, she noticed, and her housemates had said it was from a Muggle automobile accident that had required her to use a cane for assistance in walking until this year.

"What's your name?" the Gryffindor called back to her as they ascended a tight spiral staircase.

"Luna Lovegood," Luna said airily.

"Hope." She didn't mention her last name, Luna noticed.

Luna tilted her head, gazing at her. "Did you like my little warning?"

Hope's footsteps stuttered at her question and she glanced back to the blonde. "So it was you."

"Yes," Luna said dreamily. "I overheard some Slytherins talking about it and thought you might like to know."

"That's…" Hope struggled to find the right word before settling on "nice."

"It is, isn't it?" Luna said with a beaming smile as they came onto the landing before the Ravenclaw common room. "How do you know where the Ravenclaw common room is?" Most Houses hardly interacted with one another.

A smile twitched her lips slightly. "I know a few guys that are all about knowing shortcuts."

"Ah!" Luna said brightly, coming to a stop before the bronze knocker that was shaped like an eagle.

Upon their arrival, its mouth opened and it spouted a riddle, much to Hope's amusement and surprise.

"At night they come without being fetched. By day they are lost without being stolen. What are they?"

Luna thought hard for a few moments, but this one stumped her. "I don't know."

"The stars," Hope intoned dully beside her to her surprise.

"Well said," the knocker agreed, swinging open to reveal the common room.

"See you, Luna," Hope called lightly as she disappeared down the stairs.

Luna watched her until she had vanished completely in the shadows, before she skipped back into her common room once more.

Luna Lovegood was a strange one, Hope thought as she ducked behind a suit of armour so that the passing Percy Weasley and Penelope Clearwater wouldn't see her. She seemed to have a permanent expression of surprise on her face, accentuated by high arching eyebrows and wide eyes. Her company wasn't unpleasant, though, despite how short and to the point it was. It was refreshing for Hope to be around someone who wasn't like her friends from Gryffindor.

Still, Luna had her respect for that little stunt she pulled with the warning, whether it was needed or not.

The next few weeks passed slowly for Hope, much to her eternal annoyance. Lockhart was making her completely miserable, and had somehow managed to forget that she'd knocked him in the family jewels not too long ago. Hope had never been so close to killing anyone ever, not even Snape (very surprising, she had to admit, given their history), until this year.

Gilderoy Lockhart was a very trying individual, that was the least she could say about him. The most she could say was: trying, egotistical, self-centred, arrogant, narcissistic cock, and even that wasn't close to the number of adjectives she could use to describe him. Hope had taken to ducking into spare rooms, whether they were in use or not, just to hide from him. She had once popped into Professor McGonagall's fourth year class, surprisingly not being given detention or a loss of points afterwards, mostly because Professor McGonagall was much too humoured to give her a punishment for "looking out for your own well-being."

Lockhart wasn't the only thing that was making her miserable. The blood poisoning was proving quite difficult for her to manage that even Ron and Hermione had noticed the sheen of light gray that clung to her skin. She had headaches almost constantly and her wrists were much stiffer than they had been weeks ago.


Hope clapped her hands to her head, wincing in pain and eyeing Madam Pomfrey as though she was the enemy. "Do you have to jab so hard?"

"Perhaps I wouldn't if you had come in here the second you felt any pain," Madam Pomfrey in a surprisingly mild voice as a soft blue mist escaped the tip of her wand, surrounding Hope in a cloud of azure.

"Is she alright?" Hermione asked, heavily concerned for her friend, who was now literally on "Cloud Nine," if the loud sneeze inside it was anything to go off of.

"Hope has an abnormally high pain tolerance," Madam Pomfrey admitted, "but I can assure you, she is most certainly not alright."

The cloud cleared in a snap, leaving a very disgruntled Hope Potter behind in its wake. She crossed her arms in annoyance, her cheeks a faint pink in embarrassment.

"How did she get sick?" Ron asked curiously, ignoring how his friend huffed at them for talking about her right in front of as if she wasn't there, or at least couldn't understand them. It was how one might treat a child, and Hope was most certainly not a child, at least, in her mind.

Madam Pomfrey glanced over her patient minutely. Hope hadn't wanted to tell her friends in the first place why she was a "little" sick because she'd known that they would worry, but Madam Pomfrey wondered if she shouldn't just tell them anyways and save her the trouble.

"Hope has a bit of blood poisoning from her…'Flashing' as she calls it," Madam Pomfrey admitted as Hope glared darkly at her. "Prolonged usage would be inadvisable."

Ron blanched. It was, after all, his idea to Flash to Hogwarts. If he'd known, he wouldn't have even suggested it in the first place!

"Why didn't you say anything?" he demanded.

"I didn't know about at the time," Hope snapped in irritation. "I only just found out about it the night of the day we Flashed here."

Ron took a step back slightly; it was never a good thing when Hope got mad, her temper was phenomenal.

"Be nice," Madam Pomfrey chided as she held out a thin bottle filled with a purple liquid that earned her an apprehensive look from her patient. "The poison is building up in your body; this will cause it to thin out and relieve the pain and stiffness you are currently feeling.

"Yay!" Hope cheered without much emotion.

"And I think you should stay in here while it spreads through your body," Madam Pomfrey said, "I can send for some food to be sent up here if you like."

"But its Halloween!" Ron complained, however, Hermione's attention was on Hope's face which looked strangely put-out.

"Can we eat up here with Hope?" she asked suddenly, drawing three pairs of eyes to her instantly (she could feel the heat rising in her cheeks at the attention).

Ron looked like he was going to protest one minute, but then he changed his mind. "Yeah, Madam Pomfrey, can we?"

Madam Pomfrey looked between the three of their faces, taking in the pleading eyes of Hermione and Ron and the dumbfounded one of Hope. She sighed, honestly, the things she did for this troublesome group of second years.

"Only, and only, if Hope stays on that bed and the three of you try not to make much of a mess." She gave them a severe look that Hope had sometimes been on the receiving end of by Professor McGonagall. "Alright?"

"Yes!" the three second years promised quickly, and within minutes, they were tucking into a rather lavish dinner in the hospital wing. It was nice for them to be on their own for once, without everyone else making noise around them…sometimes some peace and quiet was very much desired.

The food, of course, was delicious as always, and their plates kept refilling themselves once they were cleaned. Hope hadn't eaten so much in days, due to her painfully throbbing head, but now she was happy to eat to her heart's content.

Hope and Hermione didn't have too much difficulty following Madam Pomfrey's instructions, but Ron had always been a little bit of a messy eater, so that caused a few problems, though not very many. A mild cleaning charm erased the small mess from existence once they had all finished and Madam Pomfrey had checked over Hope again to make sure the potion was working, which it was, and then she sent them all on their way.

"That was a nice of her, to let us eat up there with you," Hermione said as they descended the staircase.

Hope shrugged her shoulders. "That's Poppy for you." Her grin widened at the uncomfortable cough Hermione gave at her use of the woman's first name. Hope ran a finger over the wall as they walked; tracing over the rough ridges and gorges of the stone, and it was then that she heard the voice that had long plagued her thoughts.


Her feet firmly glued to the ground where she stood, quite unable to move. She pressed her hand more firmly into the wall, as if she would be able to feel the vibrations of the voice, and then she pressed her ear to the wall.

"Hope?" Ron was eyeing her curiously. "What're you—?"

"Shut up, Ron," she hissed, straining her ears so she might listen more closely, "the voice, I can hear it again, it's back."

Hermione and Ron exchanged looks that Hope couldn't see, but they clearly thought something was amiss, because they couldn't hear anything.

"…so hungry…for so long…"

Her ear was going to bruise by how hard she was pushing it into the wall, listening intently.

"…kill…time to kill…"

The voice was growing fainter with every word…heading up the stairs. Hope rushed after it, running through the Entrance Hall and then up to the First Floor, following it as fast as her weak legs could carry her.

"Hope, where are we going?" Hermione yelled from behind her as she and Ron raced after their friend.

Hope only made a shushing motion at them.

"…I smell blood…I SMELL BLOOD!"

The voice was quite loud now and was echoing in her ears, making her stomach roil as the soles of her shoes slapped against the floor. She didn't stop running until they'd reached a deserted corridor that Hope didn't recognize and then she froze up completely.

What was that…hanging from the torch bracket?

"What was that all about?" Ron complained between pants for breath, bracing his hands against his knees. "I can't believe you can run that fast…" He didn't seem to have noticed how strangely quiet Hope was being, until Hermione gasped beside him, pointing up at the wall.

"Look…oh my—"

The shining letters were illuminated by the ominous glow of the torchlight.



"What's that…is that Mrs. Norris?" Ron balked, gazing in horror at the cat that was hanging beneath the message like an immovable shadow. It was indeed Mrs. Norris, and she was staring ahead with unblinking, glazed eyes.

Hope could feel the bile rising in her throat as she stepped away, the water soaking through her shoes. She could feel Ron's hand on her elbow, keeping her upright as she stumbled over her own feet.

"Let's get out of here," Ron said tersely, glancing down the corridor but seeing no one.

"Why?" Hope asked blankly. "Shouldn't we do something?"

"No," Ron said seriously, "trust me; we don't want to be found here. We should leave."

But it was too late for that, the distant sounds of the rest of the school leaving the Great Hall could be heard echoing through the hall. If only Hope could have used her flashing…but then reality rained on her parade. The noise, however, abruptly faded at the sight of Hope, Ron, and Hermione standing in the middle of the hall and the sight of Mrs. Norris and the words she was lying under.

And then there was a shout, a shout that stirred anger within Hope. "Enemies of the heir, beware! You'll be next Mudbloods!"

Draco Malfoy seemed to take great pleasure at the sight of Mrs. Norris' body. Ron tightened his hand around her elbow in case she felt the need to sock the arrogant Pure-blood in the face, which, she had to admit, she was nursing the desire to do.

"I'm going to kill him," she hissed under her breath so that only Ron and Hermione could hear her.

"Not where there are witnesses."

Hope blinked and stared at Hermione as if she'd never quite seen her properly, and the girl gave her a barely perceptible wink. Apparently the word was still affecting her negatively, as it should.

Filch's voice could be heard coming through the crowd, and Hope gave a mental wince. Everyone in Hogwarts (meaning the professors, students and ghosts…just to name a few) knew of Filch's deep affection for his cat, and Hope could guess that he wouldn't take her condition well.

"My cat! My cat! What's happened to Mrs. Norris?" he screeched upon catching sight of Hope standing the nearest to the feline. "You! You! You've murdered my cat! You've killed her! I'll kill you! I'll—"

Hope opened her mouth, an affronted expression plastered onto her face, but she didn't have enough time to defend herself before a voice interrupted her.


It was Dumbledore. In a matter of seconds he had removed the cat.

Hope's heart beat against her ribs when Dumbledore spoke again. "Come with me, Argus. You too Miss Potter, Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger."

He couldn't possibly think that she was one that killed Mrs. Norris, did he? She, Ron, and Hermione were just in the wrong place at the wrong time! So, she and her friends followed the headmaster and a selective number of teachers into Lockhart's room, feeling as though all the eyes were on her as they moved through the crowd.

Hope sank into the nearest seat and Ron and Hermione followed suit. Hope tugged subconsciously on her earlobe as if believing that would cause the voice to leave her mind, but it hadn't. She sighed tiredly, tapping a finger against her left temple.

Dumbledore was inspecting the cat closely, his face bent so close that his crooked nose was probably being tickled by the long hairs of Mrs. Norris' fur. Hope couldn't help but wonder how a closer look was going to make a difference; Mrs. Norris was still going to be dead.

Filch was inconsolable, and Lockhart wasn't making it any better with his comments. "It was definitely a curse that killed her –probably the Transmogrifian Torture– I've seen it used I've seen it used many times, so unlucky that I wasn't there, I know the very countercurse that would have saved her…"

A very obvious snort came from Hope's general direction, but instead of being told off by Professor McGonagall, who had looked up at the noise, she gave her the barest of smiles.

What Hope really wanted was for Lockhart to shut up, but it didn't seem like that was going to happen any time soon. He really had no understanding of other people, did he? His orders were only making Filch sob worse.

"…I remember something very similar happening in Ouagadogao, a series of attacks, the full story's in my autobiography, I was able to provide the townsfolk with various amulets, which cleared the matter up at once…"

Hope rolled her eyes at Ron who was staring at their Defence Against the Dark Arts professor like he was out of the world, and not in a good way.

"She's not dead Argus," Dumbledore said finally straightening up from his examination.

"Not dead?" Filch's voice was high and shaking from his tears. "But why's she all –all stiff and frozen?"

"She has been petrified," said Dumbledore, making Hope frown. Petrification was rare, it had been more common in the sixteenth century than any other century of magical history, not counting the instances in Ancient Egypt and Greece that were only partially recorded (hello, fascinated with ancient Egypt and Greece). There were very few creatures that could petrify, as it was a "natural talent" and the closest anyone had ever gotten to replicating it with a spell was with the Petrificus Totalus spell. "But how, I cannot say…"

"Ask her!"

Hope blinked owlishly as all the attention was turned on her. She arched an eyebrow in incredulity.

"No second year could have done this," Dumbledore said with certainty, his eyes drifting over to where Hope sat. Her hands were folded together and her back was straight, perfect posture…he'd seen James Potter display that same posture only once, and that was the only time he and his best friend had been in serious trouble…it was an impressive replication for one who had never seen it in person.

"She did it! She did it! You saw what she wrote on that wall!" Filch shrieked, jabbing a finger at Hope who stood up angrily.

"I never go down that corridor and I'm not even close to being tall enough to write that message!" Hope snapped heatedly.

"If I might speak, Headmaster," Snape spoke with his silky voice, making Hope's eyebrow twitch (as it always did when he spoke in that voice that said he had no praises for her…which was all the time, now that she thought about it). "Potter and her friends may have may have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. But we do have a set of suspicious circumstances here. Why was she in the upstairs corridor at all? Why wasn't she at the Halloween feast?"

Hope's mouth snapped shut and a distinctly pissed off expression clouded her eyes. Hope was very private about her visits to the hospital wing; most times she didn't even tell Ron and Hermione when she was dropping by. Snape would have to rip out her tongue first before she admitted to being in the hospital wing.

Her fingers curled into balled up fists.

"Well?" he prompted with sneer.

Before Hope had the opportunity to advise him on a perfect place to shove his wand, Hermione and Ron had slapped their hands over her mouth, smothering the words.

"I suggest, Headmaster," Snape said slowly, taking in the hateful glare Hope was throwing his way, "that Potter is not being entirely truthful. It might be a good idea if she were deprived of certain privileges until she is ready to tell us the whole story. I personally feel she should be taken off the Gryffindor Quidditch team until she is ready to be honest."

"Ooo ud!" Hope said behind the two hands over her mouth.

"Really, Severus," Professor McGonagall interrupted swiftly, her eyebrows drawn together in irritation, "I see no reason to stop the girl from playing Quidditch. This cat wasn't hit over the head with a broomstick. There is no evidence at all that Potter has done anything wrong."

"And there won't be any," Hope added, finally wrestling Ron and Hermione's hands from her face. "Because I didn't do anything!"

"Innocent until proven guilty," Dumbledore said with a slight nod to McGonagall.

That didn't seem to please Snape or Filch, but there was little that could be done. Hope and her friends hadn't done anything wrong, and so Hope, Ron, and Hermione found themselves being escorted back to the common room by their Head of House. Ron and Hermione were quite silent about the whole thing and Hope was very tight-lipped. So Professor McGonagall held her back as the others entered the common room.

"Miss Potter, next time you are questioned, perhaps it would be best to just say you were in the hospital wing," Professor McGonagall said dryly.

Hope scoffed lightly, digging her hands into her pockets, looking particularly rebellious. "It's none of anyone's business what I do in my spare time."

"Potter!" Lily seethed. "It doesn't matter if I was with Sev, its none of your business what I do in my spare time!"

McGonagall almost smiled as Lily Evan's daughter clamoured into the portrait hole.

Chapter Text

The Chamber of Secrets was on everyone's mind for the weeks that followed the "Mrs. Norris Incident," as it had been dubbed, even Hope's, though she was more worried about it than anyone else, even if she didn't show it. The Chamber of Secrets was something Salazar Slytherin had made himself, a chamber that supposedly held a terrible monster, it was a rumour that Salazar had encouraged, though he never mentioned if there was any truth to it. Heir of Slytherin could easily refer to her, honestly, even though she hadn't petrified anyone or written on any walls. So, that left her two options. Either someone was trying to set her up, or they didn't know; she was going to go with the latter.

"Miss Potter? A moment of your time?"

Hope paused before exiting the Charms classroom, waving her hand at Ron and Hermione, telling them not to wait up as she turned to face Professor Flitwick.

The short-statured man was easily one of her most favourite teachers, right up there with Professor McGonagall. He seemed to find her sarcasm quite humorous and he didn't always point out her faults or compare her to her parents like many of her teachers did. That was the one of the things that made him so great in her eyes.

"Yes, Professor?" Hope said politely, adjusting the strap of her bag on her shoulder.

"Hope." She blinked at the use of her first name. "No one truly thinks you had anything to do with Mrs. Norris' attack, you needn't be so worried."

"I'm not afraid of a few judgmental arses, Professor, if you'll pardon my language," Hope said, her tongue tipped with annoyance. "I know I didn't have anything to do with it, and that's what matters."

Professor Flitwick gave her a fond smile. Well, no one said that Hope wasn't stubborn. "Look after yourself, Miss Potter."

Hope tipped an invisible hat to him. "Will do."

"What was that about?" Hermione asked as soon as she'd caught up to the two of them.

"Professor Flitwick just wanted to say that he knew I didn't have anything to do with Mrs. Norris," Hope said with a careless wave of her hand.

"Nice of him," Ron grunted, noticing several students around them becoming skittish at the sight of his best mate. He glared at them. It might not have been as impressive as Hope's but it fit the bill quite well.

If Hope noticed them, she didn't comment, but then Hope was always able to brush off things like that.

"I don't suppose we're going to properly see you for a complete day?" Hope called out after Hermione who was racing ahead of them in the direction of the library.

"No!" Hermione called back to them, giving them a brief wave as she jumped up the stairs two steps at a time.

"Do you think she's going to tell us what she's looking up in the library?" Ron asked her.

"Doubtful," Hope drawled.

"Do people always assume you're the bad guy?"

Hope glanced at him, surprised by the line of questioning, and then she smirked. "Usually, yeah," she admitted, "I've got the face of a troublemaker, didn't you know?"

Ron rolled his eyes at her. "By the way, why aren't you and George talking anymore?" Ron asked curiously. "Did you two have a fight or something?"

Her smirk froze on her face and then she was streaking in the opposite direction as soon as Ron's elder twin brothers rounded the corner. Ron cast a glance towards them before following his best mate's speeding away steps.

"Alright, spill it."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," George said in a vague voice, barely glancing at his twin, which was a first for him. Fred arched an eyebrow at his twin's inability to meet his eye.

"I'm talking about that." Fred was pointing a finger into the distance where Hope's rose-red hair could be seen flying in the wind as she moved in her haste to get away from George. It was strange that she was actually adverse to the Weasley twin; Fred would have never thought it possible, until he saw it today. "I've never seen her avoid you before!"

Angelina was glaring at George as well. "You did something," she accused. "You pissed her off."

George opened his mouth, floundering. George would have never thought that he would've found himself in this position with Hope. She was avoiding him, actually avoiding him! Every time he came even remotely close to approaching her, she went tearing in the opposite direction, and he didn't even know why.

He had resorted to using the Marauder's Map to try and catch her off guard, but she always seemed to have a place to run to, much to his annoyance.

"I don't even know what I said!" he complained, burrowing his hands into his hair.

"Well, I suggest you figure it out," Alicia warned, "because Hope doesn't look mighty pleased about whatever you did."

George gave her a sullen look, watching as his little brother raced after his friend.

"Hey, Hope!" When he finally caught up with her, she was sitting on a stone rail of the viaduct (typical of her…she had something with looking out into the distance) with a deep frown settled on her face.

"Never thought I'd see the day where you and George ever fought," Ron said in a pseudo-light voice that told Hope he was trying hard to make the conversation not quite so awkward, which was very hard to do considering the blatant flirting to two of them did in front of him practically every day. "What'd he do wrong?"

Ron never seemed to assume that it was Hope that had done anything wrong, that always meant a great deal to Hope.

"Nobody thinks that you're the great-great-granddaughter of Salazar Slytherin."

Hope's eyes narrowed into angry slits. "He just…" She sighed, raking a hand through her already wind-blown hair, making her locks look even wilder than before. "He said something that mad me mad." The way he'd said it made it sound like she couldn't possibly be related to Slytherin, and that was what really got her fired up.

"What kind of something?" Ron prompted, canting his head at her.

"A jibe at my family," Hope said darkly, "I doubt he realized what he'd said, and I have no love for that part of my history, but I'd prefer it if my friends didn't point it out."

Ron frowned thoughtfully. What could be so bad about her family that Hope now avoided his brother like the plague?

Hope jumped off the rail and stumbled as her feet came into contact with the floor. "We should get going; we've still got that Medieval Assembly of European Wizards to write."

Ron smacked a hand against his face, having completely forgotten about the essay, it was due in about an hour! "Why did you run out here in the completely opposite direction of the library?!"

Hope cracked a smile and her angry mask broke, which had been Ron's intent, and he was pleased that it had succeeded. Hope looped her arm around the crook of his elbow with a grin. "Lead on, shining knight."

Ron's ears turned a bright red, and she couldn't help but release a swift laugh that echoed in the silence as they made their way slowly back to the castle, up a large number of stairs, before finally reaching the library at long last.

However, finding the proper book from which to write the essay was increasingly difficult, as a large number of students were in the library writing the very same essay. At least, it was a difficult hunt for the proper book, until a thick tome was slid Hope's way.

She barely looked up in time to catch sight of a ponytail of blonde hair whip around the corner. The scrap of parchment inside the cover said: For last year. We're even.

So it must have been Daphne Greengrass, then. It was true that they weren't friends and that they hardly spoke to each other, but it seemed Daphne knew a little about debts, even small ones, such as being offered a book. It couldn't really even be considered a debt, more of a favour, but who was Hope to criticize?

Hermione seemed to have vanished, which was pretty impressive because you couldn't really vanish from inside a library. Hope had already finished her essay and was looking around for her when Ron began to mutter furiously under his breath.

"This essay's impossible!" he grumbled. "Hermione's already finished hers, and its four feet and seven inches!" He cast her a look. "And you know how small her handwriting is."

Hope's lips lifted into a smirk before she pulled his essay towards her, tracing a finger over the lines of Ron's scrawl, her eyes moving back and forth as she read it over. "Well, you listed everyone involved in the assembly, but you've forgotten to include the reason for the assembly in the first place."

"Ah!" Ron pulled his essay towards him and the book they had been sharing as well, rifling through the pages until he found what he was looking for. "Perfect! I bet this'll make it to three feet!"

It was at this time that Hermione finally reappeared.

Hope arched an eyebrow at the irritated expression splashed across her face. "What's up? You look like someone stole your favourite book when you weren't looking."

Ron hid his snort with a hacking cough that earned him a glare from Hermione and Madam Pince.

"Oh, shut up." Hermione pulled back the chair next to Hope and sat down hard, giving Ron the opportunity to turn half of his attention to his essay. "All the copies of Hogwarts, A History have been taken out and it'll be another two weeks before one is free. I wish I hadn't left mine at home, but there was no way I could fit it in my trunk with all the Lockhart books."

Hope cocked an eyebrow, giving off the appearance of confusion while in the worry set in and she swallowed nervously.

"And why do you want it?" she asked, keeping her tone deceivingly light.

"The same reason everyone else does," Hermione said in a "duh!" voice, "to read up on the Chamber of Secrets."

"Do you even know if the Chamber of Secrets is even mentioned in Hogwarts, A History?" Hope inquired, nervously tapping her fingers against the wood of the table.

"I must have read in there at some time," Hermione muttered to herself, for the most part ignoring Hope and Ron.

"Done!" Ron set down his quill in relief, leaning back in his chair before checking his watch. "And with ten minutes to spare! Excellent!"

Hermione glared at him again. "You should have finished last week like I did!"

"Why aren't you yelling at Hope, then?" Ron demanded as they left the library not too long after, heading towards their History of Magic class with Binns. "She didn't finish hers until a few minutes before me!"

"Hope's been sick," Hermione said with an airy wave of her hand, "what's your excuse?"

It was almost funny how they could talk about Hope like she wasn't there, and sometimes it annoyed Hope, but right now it didn't. She worried about the knowledge of the Chamber, she worried that people would find out of her relation to its creator, and that was a connection she hoped none would make, because she had no love for the Founder of Slytherin House; he had done far too much bad to outweigh the good.

She gave a silent sigh of relief when they finally made it to History of Magic, settling down into a boring lecture. Hope generally tuned Binns out (he wasn't much of a teacher, mind you, always droning on about goblin rebellions and neglecting other crucial parts of history, some of which Hope found very interesting), and today was no different. She pulled out her pink highlighter (she was going to need to get a replacement soon, it was running low on colour) and began to highlight the bits of the passages that would most likely appear on the test of the chapter.

However, she like the rest of the Gryffindors turned and stared when Hermione's arm shot up into the air, waving around impatiently.

Hope wasn't sure if anyone had ever interrupted the ghostly professor before, they must not have, going off of how Binns paused and stared at Hermione in surprise.

"Miss-er-?" His memory was really lacking for a dead guy, but then, Hope supposed, his brain was no longer capable to making the neural connections for long term memories, so he could get away with it. Though she wondered how he ever passed back papers without knowing their names.

"Granger, Professor," Hermione said, a little out of breath, "I was wondering if you could tell us anything about the Chamber of Secrets."

Hope's heart stuttered in her chest, and she glanced up and caught Binns meeting her eye nervously…did all the ghosts know of her relation to Salazar Slytherin? She remembered that the previous year, the Grey Lady had known instantly of her connection to the man, but could the same be said for all ghosts? Her heart fell into her stomach. It seemed so.

"My subject is History of Magic. I deal with facts, Miss Granger, not myths and legends," the apparition professor corrected in his croaky voice as he returned to the text, "Now, in September of that year, a subcommittee of Sardinian sorcerers—"

But Hermione's hand had shot up again, interrupting him for a second time.

"Miss Grant?" And he'd forgotten her name again.

"Please, sir," Hermione said imploringly, "don't legends always have a basis in fact?"

Hope pinched the bridge of her nose in irritation. Why on earth couldn't she just leave it alone?

"Well, yes," Binns admitted, "one could argue that, I suppose. However, the legend of which you speak is such a very sensational, even ludicrous tale—" He didn't seem remotely keen about telling them until he looked out at all the eager faces watching him and listening to every word he said.

"Oh, very well," he conceded. "Let me see…the Chamber of Secrets…

"You all know, of course, that Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago –the precise date is uncertain ("September 1, 993," Hope muttered under her breath, having only read one mention of it in Salazar Slytherin's journal before she had decided to stop reading the little book)– by the four greatest witches and wizards of the age. The four school Houses are named after them: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. They built the castle together far from prying Muggle eyes, for it was an age when magic was feared by common people, and witches and wizards suffered much persecution."

Ah, yes, the famed Witch Trials. The Muggles had barely caught any real witches or wizards, but it was enough to make them hide their magic when in public.

"For a few years, the founders worked in harmony together, seeking out youngsters who showed signs of magic and bringing them to the castle to be educated. But then disagreements sprang up between them. A rift began to grow between Slytherin and the others. Slytherin wished to be more selective about the students admitted into Hogwarts. He believed that magical learning should be kept within all-magic families. He disliked taking students of Muggle parentage, believing them to be untrustworthy. After a while, there was a serious argument on the subject between Slytherin and Gryffindor, and Slytherin left the school."

Hope frowned slightly. Godric and Salazar had started off as fairly good friends, she knew from his journal, but after that argument, they never reconciled and Salazar died alone, bitter with resentment. It was kind of sad how south his life went.

"Reliable historical sources tell us this much. But these honest facts have been obscured by the fanciful legend of the Chamber of Secrets. The story goes that Slytherin had built a hidden chamber in the castle, of which the other founders knew nothing. Slytherin, according to the legend," he added, "sealed the Chamber of Secrets so that none would be able to open it until his own true heir arrived at the school. The heir alone would be able to unseal the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the horror within, and use it to purge the school of all those who were unworthy to study magic."

"The whole thing is arrant nonsense, of course," he said, as the rest of the class waited for him to tell them more, but it was clear that he had nothing more to say. "Naturally, the school has been searched for evidence of such a chamber, many times, by the most learned witches and wizards. It does not exist. A tale told to frighten the gullible." And by gullible, it was clear that he meant all of them.

"Sir –" Hermione interrupted again (seriously, she was on a roll), "what exactly do you mean by the 'horror within' the Chamber?"

"That is believed to be some sort of monster, which the Heir of Slytherin alone can control," Binns said coolly.

In the wake of his words, many theories began to crop up, forcing the ghostly professor to stall his lecture in order to calm them down, and even that didn't occur until the bell rang signalling the end of class.

"You two go on ahead," Hope said to Ron and Hermione, "there's something I want to talk to Binns about."

They didn't question her, for which Hope was eternally grateful as they turned on their heels and exited the classroom, leaving her alone with the slightly transparent bluish ghost.

"I thought you might want a word," Binns grumbled, more to himself than to her.

"You know about me, don't you?" Hope guessed. "You know about…you know."

Binns surveyed her in an almost tired fashion, his pale opaque eyes fastening on hers. "Yes."

"Do all the ghosts know?" Hope asked weakly.

"Only a few," Binns conceded, "others are not quite so adept to seeing…his blood flows within you, and you share his witty tongue, to those who lived during that time, we can recognize the signs."

"Great," Hope mumbled under her breath, "this is exactly what I need today."

"We'll keep our silence, as we have with your father and grandfather before you," he continued. "The ghosts of Hogwarts are not dishonourable beings."

Hope's lips twitched upwards into the barest of smiles. "Thank you."

He gave a slight inclination of the head before collecting all the scrolls of parchment that was their homework and floating through the wall…Hope had to wonder how the parchment even went through when they were solid, but that was a mystery for a another day.

For the next few days, Hope had begun to notice increased watchful eyes towards her, earning the watchers a pair of stony eyes staring at them unnervingly until they looked away. It was obvious that everyone thought she was the Heir of Slytherin, which was only half true.

Yes, she was descended from him, but a "True Heir" was someone who shared the ideals of the Head of the family, and Hope wasn't anywhere close to that (for those too stupid to see that, please reference the put-down she gave Mr. Malfoy).

She was getting so sick of all the whispers that now followed her everywhere she went, as if waiting for her to slip up and announce "Yeah, I really am the Heir or Slytherin and I like to send out monsters after cats and Muggle-borns in my spare time," which was never going to happen, since Hope wasn't the one behind the attacks.

Hope had become quite irate in the presence of the stares and whispers, something all of her professors were all quick to note. Professors McGonagall and Flitwick were pretty understanding (and it was a plus that she liked them the best), Professor Sprout tried to be as calm as she could when dealing with Hope's sarcastic tongue, but Snape and Lockhart were the worst.

She was going to die in Potions and Defence Against the Dark Arts, she just knew it was going to happen.

Snape was, of course, as insufferable as he'd always been, so that wasn't surprising, but Lockhart had taken to reading out passages from his books instead of actually teaching them anything (the only thing Hope was learning was "How to spot a fraud") and most times he brought Hope to the front of the class to act out parts with him. Hope's face was so murderous that it was quickly becoming the most humorous class for the Gryffindor second years.

Hope liked to say that there were two sides to every coin, that everyone had a bit of good and a bit of bad in them. For Hope, those two sides sometimes intermingled, but even so, she wasn't a bad person. However, it was the opposite for Salazar Slytherin who had killed many people –wizard and Muggle, alike. Of course, she understood why he did what he did, even if she didn't like it.

He was born into a magical family, but several years after his birth, his parents and younger brother were killed by Muggles who burned them at the stake for witchcraft. He had only survived because he had been out playing in the field at the time and had hidden in the tall grass when they took them away.

He had a brief happiness with his marriage to Morea of the Earth, but darkness and death followed him, enchanting his son who then presumed to take the life of Morea, her daughter and her daughter's husband, leaving Salazar's only grandson unscathed because the man in turn killed him before he was given the opportunity to touch the baby.

He descended into madness and grief, emerging as a much more solemn man when he met Godric Gryffindor for a second time. He conceded to assist him in his endeavour to craft a school for those of magic where they could learn in peace and quiet and have no fear of prosecution. At the time, it was a revolutionary idea, and one that reaped benefits, because up until that point, young witches and wizards were taught in the solitude of their home.

But Salazar refused to teach those with "impure" blood running through their veins, because he held a deep mistrust and disgust towards Muggles and those borne of them, due to the tragedy of his family. And the rest, as they say, was history.

What happened to his family was awful, but ultimately it was he who chose to walk the path of darkness, and he had no one to blame but himself, and Hope had a feeling that that was why his spirit had remained on the physical plane for so long; it was because he knew of the damage he had done and he did blame himself, and he feared going to where all the dead went because of what he had done.

But Salazar Slytherin's chapter in this book was done and Hope would expect and accept no help from the dead.

She would never find herself in a situation where she used Dark Magic almost constantly, as if it was a compulsion; no, that would never happen.

It was the dawn of a new day, and maybe this one would be brighter than the one before.

Chapter Text

"I can't believe you're fighting with him!"

"Can we please not talk about this right now?" Hope griped through gritted teeth. "And we are not fighting, we're just not talking; there's a difference."

"Not much," Hermione muttered as they walked past the writing on the wall, pausing to look at the glistening words.

"Are those…scorch marks?" Hope asked suddenly, drawing their attention away from the wall and towards the floor at where there were indeed black marks etched into the stone. "Here…and here. Where did they come from?"

"No idea," Ron frowned, kneeling on the floor to scratch at the blackened area. "You ever read about something that could make scorch marks?"

Hope frowned. "I don't read up much on magical animals…but I don't think I've ever heard of anything like that."

"Hey, you guys," Hermione called over to them, "look at this. This is funny…"

She was standing over by the window which had been cracked open slightly, though which a rapid line of spiders were crawling out of, as if eager to get away from the castle.

"That's strange," Hope said, leaning her head in close, "have you ever seen spiders act like that?"

"Not at all," Hermione agreed, "what about you, Ron? Ron?"

Both girls turned to see their other friend as far from them as possible to be still in earshot, though his body was tensed as if ready to dash off in the opposite direction as soon as he possibly could.

"What's wrong with you?" Hope asked in bemusement.

"I-don't-like-spiders," Ron said in a disjointed manner that made Hope and Hermione exchange surprised looks.

"I never knew that," Hermione said, "you've used them in potions loads of times—"

"Yeah, well, I don't mind them dead," Ron snapped, avoiding looking at the little black arachnids crawling out of the window. "I just don't like the way they move."

Hermione couldn't stifle a giggle and Ron's ears burned an angry red and he opened his mouth—

"Alright," Hope said quickly, interjecting before a full-on war could start right in front of her, over spiders, no less, "ignoring Ron's arachnophobia…guys, wasn't there a lot of water on the floor?"

Hermione blinked, glancing towards the ground. "Yeah, didn't you slip in it?"

Hope nodded. "Where did it all come from?"

"It was level with this door," Ron said, eager to be off the subject of spiders, "but…that's a girl's toilet, we can't go in there."

Hope couldn't hide the snort. "Well, Ron, Hermione and I have to use the loo somehow, that would be quite difficult without using a girl's toilet."

Ron blushed bright red, amusing the girls further. "Oh, you know what I mean!"

"Let's go have a look around," Hope said, wrenching the door open, "oh, come on, Ron! It's just Moaning Myrtle's place!"


Hope had only been into this toilet once during school, and that was because she had really needed to use the loo, or else she wouldn't have bothered even coming into the bathroom in the first place. It was one bathroom that you wouldn't want to do your business in because it was by far the gloomiest, dampest, dreariest bathroom Hope had ever seen, and once you factored in the overly emotional ghost that haunted it, it was practically unapproachable.

The ghost in question was hanging in midair as if sitting on a floating, invisible seat, which was highly plausible, now that Hope thought about it.

"Hello, Myrtle," Hope said calmly; Myrtle didn't react very well to cheery tones.

"Hello," she said sullenly, her eyes falling on Ron's. "This is a girls' bathroom. He's not a girl."

"No," Hope agreed, speaking before Hermione could, because Hermione could be a little obtuse sometimes about others feelings and Hope knew better how to deal with the ghost. "He's here with me and Hermione. We wanted to ask you if you noticed anything on the night of Halloween. Did you?"

Myrtle took in a deep shaking breath and Hope waited for the waterworks, but surprisingly, they didn't come, instead Myrtle began to speak with a dramatic air, like the Drama Queen that she was. "I wasn't paying attention. Peeves upset me so much I came in here and tried to kill myself. Then, of course, I remembered that I'm – that I'm—"

"Already dead?" Ron finished for her, jumping when she gave a keening wail and dived into the OUT OF ORDER toilet, spraying water everywhere.

"You don't need to point it out," Hermione admonished her friend, "she's very sensitive."

"She's always like that?" Ron asked aghast.

"Typically, she's a lot worse," Hope said with an airy wave of her hand as they exited the room, "and that is why no one uses the bathroom."


All three of them jumped wildly at the loud yell, swivelling around to see Percy Weasley gaping at them.

"That's a girls' bathroom! What were you—?" he gasped, his voice raising an octave.

"Just having a look around," Ron said quickly, seeing where his older brother's mind was going, "for clues, you know—"

Percy swelled in a manner that looked remarkably like a blowfish (Hope was watching in fascination to see if he would expand anymore) as he strode over to them, ushering them away from the bathroom door. "Get-away-from-there- Don't you care what this looks like? Coming back here while everyone's at dinner—"

Hope's face had gone completely white with anger and she pushed herself away from the prefect and stalked away from him and down the very stairs that he had just come up.

"Great going, Percy," Ron snapped, "now she's in one of her moods again."

Percy opened his mouth to defend himself (to his own brother, no less) when Hermione said in disappointment, "I can't believe you just said that to her! Everyone's been saying that about her, but I never would have expected it from a Gryffindor, especially one who knows how she acts and doesn't act."

"We have to go find our innocent friend, Percy," Ron added, "and apologize for what you just said, so goodbye."

And then the two headed after their red-headed friend, leaving Percy gaping and feeling a twinge of remorse.

Calming Hope down was relatively easy when you knew her as well as Ron and Hermione did, but finding her first was an entirely different matter. She wasn't at the viaduct bridge like she usually was, or the Astronomy Tower, and they only found her by trudging up to the Owlery.

She was leaning against one of the walls, tracing her fingers lightly over her owl, Hedwig's, feathers, humming softly.

"Hope?" Hermione asked cautiously. "Are you alright?"

"Fine," she muttered, "absolutely bloody perfect, that's what I am."

She cast a glare towards Hermione, who, to her credit, did not flinch, despite the blood red colour that her formerly green eyes had taken on.

"Ignore Percy," Ron added, "he's always been a bit obsessed about appearances."

"You think he's the only one?" Hope snorted. "Please." The Dursleys were a great example, but she was also talking about probably about four-fifths of Hogwarts as well. "I'm starting to really hate this year."

"You and me both," Hermione mumbled. "Come on, you don't you come back down to the Great Hall with us?"

"I'm not hungry."

"You can still walk down with us, though, cant you?" Ron prodded with a slight smile. "Come on…"

Hope tried in vain to keep that frown on her face, but one end of her lips twitched upwards (Ron and Hermione gave a mental rejoice at its sight) and she finally agreed to leave her vigil by Hedwig's side and to make herself go down the steps.

"Anyways," Ron said, issuing a long exhalation of breath that turned to fog in the cool air, "I was saying that Malfoy could be the Heir of Slytherin."

Hope bit the inside of her mouth.

"And Hermione says she might have a way to prove it."

Hope arched an eyebrow at the brunette whose cheeks dusted pink. "Might have a way," she agreed. "Of course, it would be difficult, and dangerous, very dangerous. We'd be breaking about fifty school rules, I expect-"

Hope frowned thoughtfully. "Are you thinking about what I think you're thinking about?"

"Quite possibly," Hermione agreed.

"Sometime this year would be nice, you two," Ron drawled out in an uncanny resemblance to Draco Malfoy.

"What Hermione is suggesting is a way to transform ourselves into Slytherins and interrogate Malfoy without him knowing it's us," Hope explained in a dry tone, knowing that it was entirely pointless, there was no way in hell that Malfoy could possibly be related to her through that line; if he was, she'd eat her own shoe.

"But that's impossible," Ron complained.

"Not entirely," Hermione disagreed, "if we had a bit of Polyjuice Potion we could do it."

"What's that?" Ron asked flummoxed.

"It's a potion that can transform you into someone else," Hope explained. "Malfoy wouldn't know it was us if we were disguised as three Slytherins."

"But what happens if it goes wrong and we're stuck looking like a couple of Slytherins forever?"

"It wears off after awhile," Hermione said calmly. "But getting hold of the recipe will be very difficult. Snape said it was in a book called Moste Potente Potions, and it's bound to be in the Restricted Section of the library."

"Oh, you won't need to worry about that," Hope said suddenly, "I own it."

Ron and Hermione turned to stare at her. Hermione was gaping at her. "Where did you get that book?"

Hope crossed her arms uncomfortably. "It was in the pile of books that I grabbed from my vault and that has been sitting in the library in my trunk for the past year or so." They were still staring at her as they rounded up the stairs to the common room. "Hang on, I'll run off and grab it."

"Do you ever wonder why she has the strangest books?" Ron asked Hermione, still staring after the Potter as she ascended the stairs to the girls' dormitory.

"Honestly, I've given up wondering about Hope," Hermione said, rubbing a hand over her forehead, "it's best just to go with it."

That, Ron could agree on.

Hope descended the stairs not several seconds later, clutching in her hands a large weighty tome that looked as though it had mould growing on it.


"Shut up." Hope ran a finger down the index, finding the page in question that she was looking for and flipping to it slowly so as not to damage the other pages. "Here it is, the Polyjuice Potion…Hermione's right, it's incredibly difficult."

"I thought you knew all about it?" Ron asked in surprise, earning him an eye roll.

"I wasn't looking at the ingredients or the directions, genius," she said with the barest of humour. "I was more interested in the effects of the potion."

"Lacewing flies, leeches," Hermione was muttering, looking over the list of ingredients required, "fluxweed, and knotgrass. Well, they're easy enough, we can get them from the student's store-cupboard, but…powdered horn or a bicorn, shredded skin of a boomslang…and we'll have to cook it somewhere where it can't be seen."

Hope stood up suddenly. "I've got the best place. Come on, follow me!"

Ron and Hermione were doing an awful lot of chasing Hope around today. They leapt up stairs and raced down corridors until Hope finally came to a stop in an area of the castle they had never been to before.

"Where are we?"

"The fourth floor," Hope said, smoothing her foot over the stone floor, speaking clearly and saying, "Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth."

"You've read the Iliad?" Hermione asked, surprise colouring her voice and expression.

"It was actually my grandmother who came up with the password," Hope said generously, "these are her private quarters."


But then the stones of the wall had slid outward as if they were steps intended to be trodden on.

"Up we go," Hope said, placing one foot on it and then the next, pressing a hand against the trapdoor on the ceiling and opening it, hoisting herself into the hidden room. "Come on, you two!"

It took them a little bit of time to finally clamour up and onto the new landing.

"Whoa!" Ron said in bafflement, staring around in surprise and awe. The area was wide and spacious with only the edge closest to the window having a carpet thrown down over the hard stone floor, upon which a couch and two chairs had been placed on top of. With the roaring fire in the fireplace, it looked a little like the Gryffindor common room, but with very obvious differences. The rest of the room had a multitude of items, such as a bookshelf stacked to the ceiling with old tomes that looked as though they hadn't been read in centuries, and there was a shelf filled with rare potion ingredients.

"It looks like a potion's lab!" Hermione said, moving around a bit to gaze at it all. "Wherever did you find it?"

"I read about it in a book," Hope said modestly, glancing over to the lowest shelf of the bookshelf, where she had wedged Salazar Slytherin's journal not a few days prior. Salazar had listed where to find his wife's study and how to reach it, saying that it had been untouched since her tragic demise and that he had no intention to enter it. It was actually a complete replica, seeing as she had died before Hogwarts was built, after he had placed all of her things inside it, he had never entered it again. "Great, isn't it?"

"Fantastic!" Hermione breathed.

"All the potion ingredients have permanent Everlasting Charms on them," Hope added, nodding to the shelf with all the bottles, big and small, "shall we see if there are any that we need?"


Ron stood back as Hope and Hermione glanced over the list of ingredients and then the labels of the bottles, smiling fondly. He was often made fun of for being close friends with two girls, but no one else got Hope like he did, or even Hermione, even though they fought like cats and dogs some days. Hope made life fun, even if it was a little dangerous, but he'd take that life any day over a boring one.

"Stop worrying, Oliver," Hope admonished as the team sat down for their pep talk on Saturday before the match against Slytherin. "We'll be fine."

He didn't look so convinced, but then he steeled himself, no doubt putting on a brave face. "Alright, team. Slytherin has better brooms than us, there's no point in denying it. But we've got better people on our brooms. We've trained harder than they have, we've been flying in all weathers, and they're going to rue the day they let that bit of slime, Malfoy, buy his way onto their team."

"Hear, hear!" Hope called out, earning a few mild chuckles.

"Get that Snitch before Malfoy, or die trying, Hope," Oliver said seriously to the youngest member of his team (he was trying his hardest not to comment on how she and one of his Beaters weren't saying two words to each other when they usually flirted daily), "because we've got to win today, we've got to."

Hope gave a two fingered salute.

Fred winked at her. "But no pressure, Hope."

He got the one fingered salute.

The tension hung over the group like a cloud on a bright day, and George looked as though he was fighting the desire to pull Hope around to face him so that she would look him completely in the eye. Oliver coughed uncomfortably before leading them out and onto the pitch.

Adrenaline was pumping through Hope's veins as she positioned her broom under her, waiting for the kick-off whistle, which greeted her after the captains had shaken each other's hands (looking more like they were trying to break the other's fingers than having a show of camaraderie.

She kicked off of the ground faster than her teammates, whipping her head around searching for that little golden ball. Seeking was easily the hardest part of Quidditch, and anyone who said different was full of shite. The idea that Malfoy could even come close to Hope without that broom of his was ludicrous (he didn't have the eyes of a Seeker), but the fact remained that his broom could give him an edge over Hope's experience, as much as she loathed to admit it.

"Alright there, Scarhead?"

Malfoy had to come up with some better insults, because the ones towards the scar on her forehead were getting old, even though they gave her a twinge of annoyance every time she heard them used.

She opened her mouth to retort with a nice swearword, but she had to duck suddenly when a black Bludger came pelting towards her head in the vain hope that she would be spared of a braining (which, luckily, she was).

"Close one!"

George sped past her in the air, speaking almost subconsciously, because Fred and George typically talked to their teammates during games that to not do so would be regarded as strange, even though they weren't speaking to each other. He raised his bat to the Bludger, giving it a powerful strike that should have caused it to pelt towards Slytherin Chaser Adrian Pucey, but it only maintained that course for a few seconds before rocketing towards Hope's head again.

This time Hope really did swear, diving quickly and doing several evasive manoeuvres that would have unseated anyone who hadn't practiced them for so long (meaning Malfoy wouldn't be able to do it in ten thousand years if he tried), but the Bludger followed her as if it had some sort of magnetic attraction to her. She shot towards Fred who was raising his bat, which she ducked neatly under.

A loud crack told her that the bat had made contact with the Bludger and she could hear the happy yell of "Gotcha!" but unfortunately, the Bludger was only stalled in its pursuit of Hope which it continued to do so, much to the laughter and cheers of the Slytherin section of the stands.

The presence of the Bludger was really putting Hope off her game, and the Weasley twins were shadowing her at every turn, trying to keep the enchanted ball from breaking the head of the most valuable player of the team. On the plus side, Hope had yet to score a broken bone, on the downside, Slytherin was in the lead, the Gryffindor Chasers needed the coverage of the Beaters, and Hope couldn't look for the Snitch with them hovering around her as if she was the sun and they were orbiting planets.

And it had started to rain; perfect. This bloody day was going so well for her, couldn't you tell?

With difficulty, George had managed to call for a time-out and the group of soaking Gryffindors huddled together on the ground looking worse for wear.

"What's going on?" Oliver demanded of the twins. "Fred, George, where were you when that Bludger stopped Angelina from scoring?"

"We were twenty feet above her," George bit out angrily, his knuckles going white around his bat, "stopping the other Bludger from murdering Hope, Oliver. Someone's fixed it, and it won't leave her alone, she's been the only person it's gone after all game!"

"But the Bludgers have been locked in Madam Hooch's office since our last practice," Oliver said, his brow furrowed, "and there was nothing wrong with them then…"

Madam Hooch was beginning to walk towards them, so Hope blurted out, "Let me handle the Bludger."

"You're mental!" Fred snapped. "It'll take your head off!"

Hope glared at him, her green irises turning a dark colour. "Look, there's no way that I'm going to be able to see the Snitch with you two flying around me. Oliver, tell them to let me handle the rogue Bludger." She turned to gaze imploringly at their captain.

"Don't be thick!" George exclaimed. "You'll be out there undefended—"

"I don't need some protector!" Hope snapped out, giving him a furious glare.

"Oliver, this is insane," Alicia stepped in, "you can't let her deal with that Bludger all on her own! It'll knock her off her broom!"

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Hope interjected.

"Let's ask for an inquiry," Angelina added, ignoring Hope as Madam Hooch came closer.

"If we do that, we'll have to forfeit!" Hope complained. "Come on, Oliver; tell them to let me handle it!"

"This is all your fault," George said angrily to the Keeper, "'Get the Snitch or die trying' what a stupid thing to tell her—"

"Ready to resume?"

Madam Hooch had finally come to stand just outside their little circle.

"Oliver." Hope's face was quite determined, how could he say no?

"Alright," he found himself saying, "Fred, George, you heard her, let her handle it."

None of the members of the Gryffindor team seemed pleased with that decision, but there was little else they could do, and there was no way that Hope was going to change her mind concerning it.

Hope and the others rocketed into the air, Hope dodging every few seconds looking for that small glimmer of gold that would signify the movement of the Snitch, but that was rather difficult in the rain, even if Hope was up for the challenge.

"Training for the ballet, Potter?" Malfoy asked, roaring with laughter.

Hope glanced towards him, gritting her teeth, and it was then that she saw it.

The Golden Snitch.

It was flapping its silver wings too fast to be seen, bobbing in the air beside Malfoy's head, and he hadn't even noticed it yet!


Hope cried out as the Bludger slammed into her arm, feeling the bone break under her skin. The pain was numbing, but Hope had a car rip through her leg once before, and this, by comparison, was much more manageable. She turned her broom in the direction of Malfoy who ducked out of her way, not realizing that she was heading for the Snitch.

She pointed her broom downwards, going into a low dive, leaning close to the handle to give her an increase in speed as she came alongside the Snitch, her fingers closing around it as the Bludger came around to deal a blow to her back, sending her forward headfirst off of the broom.

Thankfully, the ground was remarkably close, even if it still jarred her broken arm.


She could faintly see the outlines of Ron and Hermione racing in front of a cloud of red and gold that must have been the Gryffindor supporters.

"Hey," she said weakly as they knelt beside her, "we won."

"You're an idiot," Hermione said fervently.

"There have never been truer words," Hope agreed, closing her eyes and opening them again, straining her eyes when she saw something white and glittering to her right. "Oh, not you," she complained, "go away!"

"Doesn't know what she's saying," Lockhart assured the crowd of Gryffindors who didn't believe him for a second. "Not to worry, Hope, I'm going to fix your arm."

"I'd prefer it broken over whatever you could do with a wand," Hope snapped, attempting to sit up with the assistance of her friends, earning her a few chuckles from her House-mates. "I'll take my chances at the hospital wing, thanks."

"She really should, Professor." Hope blinked, having not recognized Oliver until he had spoken, seeing as he was now covered in mud. How on earth had he managed that? "Great capture, Hope, probably your best yet—"

"Thanks," she muttered, realizing a second too late that Lockhart had taken that opportunity to aim his wand at her arm and say an incantation. "Oi!"

She looked at her arm, and the sight made her faint like a little girl; it didn't look remotely like an arm, being far too jiggly and rubbery.

When she awoke again, she was in the hospital wing and Madam Pomfrey was on the verge of an apoplectic fit.

"You should have brought her straight here!" she said angrily to Hermione and Ron who looked a little ashamed, even though it hadn't been their fault.

"You'll be able to won't you?" Hope asked, making them jump, surprised that she was awake. "I'd hate to do everything one-armed for the rest of my life."

Madam Pomfrey gave her a smile, but it was more of a grimace. "I will, but it will be painful and you'll have to stay the night."

Hope groaned, but she conceded; there was no point in arguing with the Matron.

"Now, the both of you, out!" Madam Pomfrey ordered. "This girl has thirty-three bones to regrow!"

"Could I have five minutes?"

Hermione and Ron glanced at the speaker and then at each other, before making themselves scarce.

Madam Pomfrey eyed the speaker before sighing tiredly. "Fine, but only five minutes."

And then she left Hope with George Weasley.

Chapter Text

George could see just how nervous she was by the way her fists clenched around the sheet until her knuckles shone white against her skin and how she bent her head slightly, her crimson fringe overshadowing her emerald eyes, but not hiding how she bit the corner of her lip.

She could feel her heart beating traitorously against her ribcage and she turned her head away from him, determined to ignore his presence for as long as possible, after all, she had done it quite successfully for several days now.

"You're going to have to talk to me sometime," George murmured, speaking in low tones so that Madam Pomfrey wouldn't overhear. His eyes fell to the silver ring on her finger of her good hand. It was one of the two rings that she hardly ever took off; a token from her parents, perhaps? It was silver and wrapped around her finger in the pattern of the coils of a snake, with tiny emeralds for eyes.

The facts were quite literally staring him in the face all this time. How could he have not seen it? She was as sly as Slytherins were stereotyped to be and she could outsmart people with just her words. She was witty and quirky and sarcastic, and it was her Slytherin traits that made her such a great friend; fun and exciting (which was the very best kind, mind you).

"Hey." He was hardly speaking above a whisper now. "Five minutes, Hope, that's all I'm asking. Please?"

Her eyebrows scrunched together and her lips pulled down into a frown. George recognized the expression easily, it was the I'm-thinking-hard-about-something expression. The look itself was adorable, but George had too much riding on her answer to notice.

"Fine," she said, staring at a spot directly in front of her so she wouldn't have to look at him. "You talk, I'll listen; no promises."

George breathed a sigh of relief; that was better than nothing. "I'm sorry about what I said, about you not being Slytherin's great granddaughter—"

"It wasn't that," Hope said shortly, cutting him off, "it was that I couldn't possibly be related to him that really made me mad."

George lifted his head slightly to find himself caught in eyes that were a stormy hazel.

"I like you, George," she said honestly, "I really do, but there are just some things that can really piss me off, and the relation to Salazar Slytherin isn't something I like to talk about, but I don't need it pointed out to me as if there was no way I could be of his bloodline, because I am, whether I like it or not."

"I'm sorry," George said a bit morosely. "I was just trying to cheer you up, and…"

Hope sighed, the air exhaling loudly from her lips. He was making it really hard to be mad at him. "I know. I was scared that if my friends knew about it, they'd…" She shifted uncomfortably.

George could guess what she was thinking. She thought that if she told them, they wouldn't want to be her friends anymore because of the terrible reputation Slytherin had. "Come here you worrisome girl."

Hope blinked as George gave her an awkward hug, being careful of her injured arm, her forehead making contact with his shoulder. She reached an arm around to squeeze his side. "I'm sorry I was mad at you," she said, her voice muffled by the cloth of his robes, "especially over something as stupid as that…I was just so mad—"

"I know."

He released her. "And for the record, you are definitely sly enough to be Slytherin's Heir."

She gave a light chuckle at that. "If you say so," she said. "But thanks anyways."

"I'm serious," he said with a grin.

"I'm Hope," she answered sarcastically, "nice to meet you."

George's lips spread into a wide smile at probably the most overused joke in the history of jokes, but it was the first joke or even the first use of sarcasm that he'd heard from her in about a week.

"That's was bad."

"Absolutely terrible," she agreed, "but it made you smile."

"A lot of the things you do make me smile," George returned easily. "Just like a lot of things I do make you smile."

She cast him an amused glance, her cheeks pinking at his words, and would have probably said more if Madam Pomfrey hadn't come over to tell them that their five minutes was up. So, regretfully, George left her to a restless night of sleep.

Hope awoke the next morning to find her arm a little stiff, but filled with thirty-three new bones, and she'd take that stiffness any day if it meant she had have all her bones in her arm.

Once she'd left the hospital wing, she almost collided with another body and had to step back suddenly so she wouldn't.

"Did she finally let you go, then?"

Hope blinked. "Oh, it's you."

George grinned in a roguish manner. "You weren't expecting some other dashing ginger-haired Gryffindor, were you?"

"I didn't know you were dashing," Hope said with a slight smirk, "do tell."

"Ah, Milady," he said solemnly, sounding a bit like Michael the Knight, "it is a rather lengthy tale that involves the outsmarting of pompous students and arrogant teachers."

"That's always fun," Hope said after a short laugh had erupted from her lips as he extended the crook of his arm to her, and she looped her arm around his and they descended the stairs together. "Ravenclaws and Snape and Lockhart?" she guessed.

"Oh, yes," George agreed. "Some Ravenclaws can be…"

"I can imagine," Hope said humoured as they stepped through the doorway and into the Great Hall. Ron and Hermione were nowhere to be seen, something that confused and disappointed Hope a bit. She would have thought they would be the first to come and find her…she wanted to talk to them about Dobby (who had visited her in the night) and the attack on Colin Creevey.

She had barely managed to get a bite of toast when Angelina drew her attention from the food.

"So you two aren't fighting anymore?" Angelina asked hopefully.

Hope curled a strand of her vibrant hair around her finger, looking a little awkward. She glanced at George, but he was smiling at her. Her cheeks flooded with heat. "Erm, yes," she muttered, "we've worked everything out."

"That's great!" Alicia said in relief. "Because your boy here was wallowing in self-pity."

"I was not wallowing—"

"He's not my—"

Angelina smiled sweetly, but there was something sly lurking in those dark brown depths. "You two are so adorable when you try to defend yourselves."

George mouthed wordlessly at the girl whom his twin was so enamoured with, while Hope gave her friend a shrewd glare.

"Angelina," she said, her voice filled with warning.

"Alright, alright," the dark-skinned girl conceded, drawing in her claws temporarily. "But, really, it's good that you two aren't fighting anymore…it's really weird when you don't talk."

Hope stuck out her tongue before taking a long swig of pumpkin juice. "Anyone seen Ron or Hermione?"

"Nope," was the consensus of the small group, leaving Hope frowning slightly.

"I'll catch you later?" she asked, "I'm going to find them."

She was cheerfully waved goodbye, exiting the Great Hall in search of her elusive friends, almost running into Percy in the process. Honestly, she was going to have to watch where she was going, if she kept almost running into people like this.

"Oh, hello, Hope," Percy said brightly, a beaming smile plastered to his lips…and was that a hint of lipstick? Hope smothered her grin; so Percy had a girlfriend, did he? "Excellent flying yesterday, really excellent. Gryffindor has just taken the lead for the House Cup –you earned fifty points!" This prospect seemed quite exciting to him.

"Thanks," she said, "You haven't seen Ron and Hermione around, have you? I thought they'd be at breakfast, but I guess not."

"No, I haven't. I hope Ron's not in another girls' toilet…"

Hope laughed lightly at Percy's words, but they gave her a different idea. And not five minutes later she could be found rushing along the fourth floor corridor, barking out a choice phrase and ascending the staircase that led to her grandmother's secret room.

They were both on edge as she hoisted herself through the trapdoor, only relaxing once they'd recognized her.

"Hope!" Hermione gasped out loud, raising a hand to her chest as if its presence would calm her frantically beating heart. "Don't do that!"

Hope rolled her eyes at her.

"How's your arm?" Ron added from where he was leaning on his elbows on the table upon which a pewter cauldron had been set up with a pale blue fire flickering underneath.

"A little stiff," Hope said with a shrug, "but Madam Pomfrey says that'll fade soon enough. Trust me, I'm fine," Hope added when they gave her dubious looks (she was a notorious liar, after all). "Seriously…Are you starting the potion, then?"

Hope leaned forward on the table so she could look within the black cauldron, wrinkling her nose at the putrid smell, and frowning at the beige colour it had turned. "Is it supposed to look like that?"

"We decided to start this morning," Hermione agreed, answering her friend's first question first, "after Professor McGonagall told us about Colin."

Hope frowned slightly, recalling how stiff the first-year had been when the staff had brought him into the hospital wing late the previous night, just like Mrs. Norris had been.

"It should look like this until we add the bicorn horn," she added.

"Looks disgusting," Hope said for good measure, earning her a sharp whack to the back of her head. "Dobby came to visit me last night," she told them.

Ron and Hermione looked up at her in surprise. "What? Why?"

Hope wrinkled her nose in irritation. "Apparently, he was the one that charmed that bloody Bludger, hoping that I would be so grievously injured that I would have to be sent home."

Ron's eyebrows creased together in a frown. "But that doesn't make any sense," he said, confusion obvious in his voice, "I mean, even last year when you got his with that Bludger, you just went to St. Mungo's and then came right back here when you were all healed up. Even if Dobby had gotten you seriously injured, you wouldn't be sent home. That never happens, especially with Muggle families."

"What do you mean 'especially with Muggle families'?" Hermione said, sounding a little insulted.

Ron backpedalled fast. "I don't mean it like that, I just mean that if they sent you home, for instance, then you'd be living with people who wouldn't know how to deal with a magical injury, that's all."

Hermione's eyes narrowed suspiciously, but she didn't say much else on the matter, much to Ron's relief.

Hope's day went downhill the second she uttered that word to the snake that Malfoy had conjured out of thin air.

That word was "Stop" but no one else heard it the way she did.

She could see the fear and the anger that flitted across their faces, as if she was the enemy, the abomination that should have never existed on the physical plain. Like she was a disease. Ron and Hermione had to drag her away from the converged group so they could speak without prying ears.

"You're a Parselmouth!" Ron exclaimed as soon as they were out of earshot. "Why didn't you tell us?"

"Parselmouth?" Hope said flummoxed. She had never heard of such a word before. "What's a Parselmouth?"

"Someone who can speak snake language," Ron said. "Didn't you know you were saying it? It's no wonder Justin freaked out; for all we know you could have been egging it on, or something…"

This revelation of Ron's stung Hope, who would have never thought that her own friend would believe her to be capable of setting a snake on a fellow student. She gritted her teeth and clenched her fists into tight shaking balls.

"The last known Parselmouth was Salazar Slytherin," Hermione added.

"And now the whole school's going to think you're his great-great-great-great-granddaughter or something—"

"So what?"

Ron and Hermione both blanched. Hope's voice had grown dangerous and cold; distant and frosty like a snowstorm was about to hit. She lifted her head and they saw that her green eyes had morphed to a midnight black, like dark, angry onyx spheres had been grafted into her eye sockets. Her voice trembled but it was hard to tell from what.

"So what if I'm Salazar's granddaughter," she snapped out like the crack of a whip, "so what? I'm not the one sending people into the hospital wing; I'm not the one in control of some sort of beast—!"

"We're not saying that!" Hermione said, frantically trying to calm her down because she had once seen Hope's temper crack stone.

"Then what?" Hope seethed. "Maybe I'll murder my whole family like his son did. Oh, wait, I don't need to they're already dead!" You knew it was bad when Hope brought up the death of her parents.

"We know you're not behind anything," Ron said, sounding a lot calmer than normal (as one had to be when dealing with Hope's few but damaging tantrums). "Hope." He put as much emphasis as he could on her name, hoping (pun unintended) that would snap her a little out of her anger.

The girl deflated a bit but still looked as though steam should have been pouring from her ears. Her clenched fists loosened and she released a heavy sigh, but much to Hermione's relief, the tension and anger seemed to have melted off of her.

That night, Hope went to bed early, feeling legitimately a little sick to her stomach. She hadn't meant to blow up like that towards Ron and Hermione, she knew very well of how…unfavourable Salazar was, but, like his brother, Ron had brought up her possible relation to the founder, and not in a good way.

She should take up meditation, or at least something less…oh, she didn't really know.

The next few days afterwards were remarkably tense, mostly because Hermione and Ron were trying to tread very cautiously around their friend, but also because the whispers about Hope had begun again and not in a good way. Hope didn't look as though it was affecting her, but Hermione and Ron could see the light bruising under her eyes from many sleepless nights. After the fourth night had passed, the tension between the three had finally eased past and they had all forgiven each other, like all children do, and the next day –a snow day–, Hope was in a much chipper mood and had actually smiled a few times, and that was a miracle.

So Hope skipped off to the library in search of a good book, happening upon the Invisibility Section. She pondered it for a second before skimming her fingers over the titles in search of one that might explain how something could roam the castle unseen…Invisibility for the Cowardly: A Guide to Hiding From Your Enemies…Travelling Unseen…that one looked promising. She lifted the book from the shelf, pausing when she heard low voices speaking close-by.

"So anyways," the voice of a young boy said, "I told Justin to hide up in our dormitory. I mean to say, if Potter's marked him down as her next victim, it's best if he keeps a low profile for a while. Of course, Justin's been waiting for something like this to happen ever since he let slip to Potter he was Muggle-born. Justin actually told her he'd been down for Eton. That's not the kind of thing you bandy about with Slytherin's heir on the loose, is it?"

Hope's hands clenched around her book and she turned on her heel, stalking up to Madam Pince to check the book out, pausing once again as she found herself close to the small group that must have been made entirely of Hufflepuffs.

"She always seems so nice, though," the girl who had spoken from before said with voice layered with anxiety, "and, well, she's the one who made You-Know-Who disappear, so she can't be all bad, can she?"

The first boy's next words drove an ice pick through Hope's heart. "No one knows how she survived that attack by You-Know-Who. I mean to say, she was only a baby when it happened. She should have been blasted to smithereens (Oh please, Hope thought angrily, the Killing Curse doesn't blow you up, it just kills you where you stand!). Only a really powerful Dark witch or wizard could have survived a curse like that. That's probably why You-Know-Who wanted to kill her in the first place. Didn't want a Dark witch competing with him. I wonder what other powers Potter's been hiding?"

"Do you just talk to hear yourself talk?" a new voice asked in irritation. "Because the last time I checked, surviving a killing curse doesn't automatically make you evil."

Hope glanced past the bookshelf to see George glaring at the small group.

"How would you know?" the first boy demanded, though Hope could hear the slight tremor of his voice; Fred and George could look very impressive when they wanted to, especially when they were irked or angry. "You and her haven't talked for weeks, probably because—"

"Because I said something stupid," George said, cutting across him, "I insulted her by accident and she took personally, which she should. We made up about a week ago, which you would have known if you weren't hiding away in your common room like frightened little rats." Hope felt her lips twitch slightly; oh, she really was a bad influence on the Weasleys…George had to have picked up that sarcastic tongue from her.

The Hufflepuffs had the decency to look ashamed as Hope stepped out into the light, and then they looked terrified, many going stark white.

"Hello, Hope," George said conversationally.

"Hello," she said quietly, much more quietly than she had intended, and she wished more than anything that they would stop looking at her like she was some monster under the bed. She eyed the boy who had insulted her the most with distaste. Ernie…wasn't it? McMillen, or something? MacMillan?

"I thought Hufflepuffs were supposed to be honourable," she said spitefully, holding her book tightly to her chest as if it was a shield of some sort. "But I guess the hat made a mistake there, didn't he?"

Ernie's face purpled at the insult. "Turning it back on me, how very Slytherin of you."

Hope's glare would have melted two holes where his eyes should have been, that is, if glares were capable of doing such, which Hope dearly wished they could.

"And I'll have you know," he said, puffing up slightly and sounding braver than he looked (anything could sound braver than he looked), "that you can trace my family back through nine generations of witches and warlocks and my blood's as pure as anyone's—"

"I don't give a damn about how pure your blood is," Hope seethed, "and I don't have anything against Muggle-borns!"

George reached to squeeze her fingers tightly.

"I've heard you hate those Muggles you live with."

Hope went stark white with suppressed anger. What did he know of her life? Nothing! So what gave him to right to judge her as if she was the villain? Like she was some sort of criminal?

"Yes, because decent folk put bars on their niece's window," George said coldly, gripping an arm around Hope's shoulders and steering her away before she exploded for the second time within the same week.

"Are you alright?" he asked quietly once they had left the library.

"I'm fine," Hope said without feeling.

George glanced her over. "I'm fine" was her go-to phrase which usually meant she was far from fine but didn't want to talk about it. She looked angry and sad and disheartened all at the same time.

"Ignore what that kid said," he advised, relaxing his grip on her shoulders which must have been uncomfortably tight he realized, slightly ashamed, "he doesn't know you like we do." He pressed a light kiss to her temple, making her cheeks burn a bright red.

"George…thanks," she said sincerely, tilting her head back slightly to look at him in the eye. "Thanks for everything."

"No problem," the ginger-haired boy said with a grin, pulling her back swiftly. "Whoa! Look out for Hagrid!"

Hope stuttered out an apology to the large man who just waved the comment aside (almost whacking Hope in the head in the process but she was willing to forget about that, as it was Hagrid). "'Lo you two, why aren't yeh in class?"

"Cancelled," Hope said shortly.

"Free period," George added, his time having completely slipped his mind while in the library…his time was almost up by now…damn.

"What about you?" Hope asked, her eyes dropping to what looked like- "Is that a dead chicken?"

Hagrid nodded almost solemnly. "It's the second one killed this term," he agreed. "It's either foxes or a Blood-Suckin' Bugbear, an' I need the Headmaster's permission to put a charm around the hen coop." He looked down at the pair of them, gazing intently at them with his black shining eyes from under his bristly eyebrows. "Is something wrong? You two look upset."

"It's nothing," Hope said quickly, Ernie's words still ringing in her ears like an ever-ringing echo. "We'll be seeing you around, Hagrid, bye!" And she dragged George away before he could contradict her.

They got about fifty feet before Hope went stock-still.

"Wha-?" George blinked and stared at his friend.

Hope seemed to have frozen over completely, almost as if she had been turned to stone, or ice, even. George followed her eyes to what looked like a fallen suit of armour.

Her hand clenched tight over his arm. "That's Michael," she whispered, her voice laced with worry and confusion, "why isn't he getting up?"

George remembered Hope mentioning the suit of armour that had carried her back from the chamber that had once held the Philosopher's Stone, but he had never given it much thought until now.


But she had already reached the side of the suit of armour, but not as close as George would have expected, and when he finally approached, he saw why. The armour…it was melting, as if it had been doused completely in acid, which could be quite possible. Before George could speak a few words of warning, Hope had darted forward to wrench the helmet from the now mangled ruin, holding the metal gingerly in her hands.

It was only when George looked beyond that he realized how bad the day had gone.


Chapter Text

Hope didn't see what George did because her attention was focused completely on the suit of armour sizzling before her. That was Aegean Metal, forged on the island Aeaea centuries ago, back when it was a Provence of splendour; it was said that nothing could melt that metal.

So why was Michael's armour eroding as if it was common iron? That was impossible!

"Michael?" She whispered his name. "Michael, can you—?"

She gulped; what could have done such a thing? She couldn't—

And then she looked up and she saw what had made George stutter to a stop.

It was Justin, the boy who had been hiding in the Hufflepuff common room in fear of her. He was stiff and cold, frozen on the stone floor and gazing uncomprehendingly at the ceiling. Hope glanced up, as if hoping to see what he had seen, but there was nothing there; had there even been at all?

Then she balked, leaning back slightly and into George's shoulder –a small comfort in the emptiness and the cold. "Is-Is that Nick?"

She was, of course, referring to Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor Ghost, who was now hanging suspended in the air looking not quite so transparent and more opaque than he usually was. She supposed that if he was alive that he would have been frozen like Justin had been.

She clutched the helmet to her chest as if hoping it would protect her from the scene before her, but she had no such luck when the sound of a rather loud crash echoed in her ears and she turned quickly to find Peeves the Poltergeist who roared out words upon seeing the figures that were frozen like statues.


Hope's mouth dropped open, recoiling slightly at his words. He was shifting the blame onto her once more! Really, she couldn't catch a break, could she? Her shoulders slumped obviously as every door in the vicinity was flung open and a multitude of students outpoured from within with Professor McGonagall rushing to the front of the crowd, attempting to force the students back into their classes, an endeavour that took some time as a number of them had begun to react rather violently to the bodies.

This had given Ernie MacMillan enough time to run to the corridor in which George and Hope now stood. He pointed his finger, stabbing it aggressively in Hope's direction, his eyes lit with a mad light.

"Caught in the act!"

Hope's eyes bled red and George found that he had to actually physically restrain her so that she wouldn't run over to the Hufflepuff and brain him with the helmet that was still in her hands, because that was entirely possible, knowing her.

"Nobody asked you, Faithless!" she snarled, jibing at a quality that was the opposite of what Hufflepuffs stood for. "Go tell it to someone who gives two sh—"

"Miss Potter!" Professor McGonagall snapped. "Mr. MacMillan! That is enough! One more word out of either of you and I will resort to taking points and issuing you each a detention!"

Ernie and Hope glared silently at each other instead until each were forced to go their separate ways.

"It wasn't me, Professor!" Hope said to her Head of House as soon as Ernie had gone, wafting Nick up the stairs with a large fan that looked a little heavy. "You know I wouldn't do something- something like this!"

She gazed imploringly at the Transfiguration Professor, but she only received a mournful stare in return. Surely Professor McGonagall didn't think she was capable of this?

"It's out of my hands, Miss Potter," she said, her voice betraying her exhaustion of the whole matter, "I don't really have a say in the matter."

And then she swept the pair of them forward with a light swish of her hands, down the corridor until they came before a gargoyle that was shaped very much like a griffin.

"Lemon drop." Professor McGonagall ushered them up the staircase, informing them that they should wait there.

"Ever been sent here?" George asked quietly by her side as they came out onto the landing. He'd been so quiet that she'd almost forgotten that he was actually there, and she jumped slightly at his voice. He gave her a tight smile when she glanced at him.

"No. You?"

"Oh, loads of times," he said with a slight grin, "you know, me and Fred are troublemakers and all."

Her lips twitched slightly and then it faded entirely as she looked down at the helmet that was still clutched in her arms.

"Maybe Dumbledore can fix him," George suggested quietly and cautiously.

"No," Hope said bluntly as she turned the helmet upside down glancing it into the inside of the metal, "whatever he was attacked with, it eroded the seal, see?"

George looked within but he couldn't see anything remotely close to looking like a seal. "No…"

"That's 'cause it's gone, you fool," she said in a lighter voice. "Once you've owned something for so long, worn it for so long, sometimes that object can gain an imprint of your personality. That's all Michael was, you know, an imprint. You don't usually hear of suits of armour talking, because they aren't supposed to. They're bound by enchantment to serve the school, but they're just chunks of metal sewn together, no thoughts, no feelings, just metal. But Michael could talk, could move on his own…" She gave a brief smile. "He told me a lot of riddles last year…I think he might have done that a lot when he was alive."

George shuffled his feet uncomfortably, as he had always been a little jealous –of a suit of armour!– but Michael seemed nice.

"He was a werewolf, you know," Hope continued, "one of the first documented ones."

George blinked at her in surprise. Werewolves were some of the most discriminated against beings known to the Wizarding world, for one to be so closely aligned with the family of one of the founders…

Hope sighed. "What's it matter anyways? He's been dead for over ten centuries…his being a werewolf doesn't change all of the good that he did."

She stepped forward slightly, stumbling backwards when she heard the aged voice that could only belong to the Sorting Hat.

"Bee in your bonnet, Miss Potter?"

She whirled around slightly, searching for where the voice originated before finding the patched hat perched high up on a shelf away from prying hands.

Hope frowned slightly. Sometimes she wondered if she made the right choice going into Gryffindor, but the Hat had said that she would have done well in any of the four Houses.

"It's nothing," she said, turning away from it, that frown still present on her mouth. "I'm fine."

"If you say so," the hat said agreeably before becoming silent.

"What was that all about?" George queried, eyeing her curiously.

"What was what all about?" Hope asked, attempting to dodge the question as she looked around the office curiously. She had never seen anything like it before in her life. There were shelves upon shelves of books that would quite possibly take her a lifetime to read, the walls were completely covered with portraits, and there was a surprising number of strangely shaped silver objects that either made soft whistling noises or emitted light puffs of smoke.

The hacking gigging sound drew her attention away from the walls instead to look upon what looked to be a dying bird. Half of its feathers were gone and it had a starved look about it.

Hope was sure that she'd gasped. "Oh my—" and then she gave a startled yelp as it suddenly burst into flames.

"Ohmigods!" She gaped at the pile of ash that had once been a bird in complete and utter shock. "Are birds supposed to do that?!"

"Er…" George said slowly when the door on the above landing opened and out strode the headmaster. It was times like these that Hope was struck by just how old Albus Dumbledore truly was.

"P-Professor!" Hope stumbled over her words, still stunned by the sudden death of the bird. "Your bird-it just-I didn't-fire—"

To George and Hope's utter astonishment, the older man smiled congenially. "About time, too," he said with a small lilt of relief, "He's been looking dreadful for days; I've been telling him to get a move on."

"But that's horrible!" Hope burst out. "Why would you want your bird to die?!"

George coughed lightly and Hope blushed a deep and bright red, realizing that she had just been chastising the headmaster. Talk about awkward…

"Fawkes is a phoenix, Hope," Dumbledore explained kindly, smiling despite the tone she had taken with him only seconds ago, "Phoenixes burst into flames when it is time for them to die and are reborn from the ashes. Watch him…"

So, Hope leaned in close to see a bit of the dark grey ash shift as a tiny little beak peeked out from under it, connected to a withered looking head. It didn't look very impressive, but who was she to criticize of the headmaster's taste?

"It's a shame you two had to see him on a Burning Day. He's really very handsome most of the time, wonderful red and gold plumage. Fascinating creatures, phoenixes. They can carry immensely heavy loads, their tears have healing powers, and they make highly faithful pets."

Could've fooled Hope.

She opened her mouth to say something when the door to the office was thrown open and Hagrid tumbled into view looking quite out of breath.

"It wasn' her!" Hagrid burst out. "I know everyone's sayin' it was, but I was talkin' to her and George seconds before that kid was found, she wouldn't've had time-"

"Should I be upset that I'm not getting blamed?" George whispered into Hope's ear, making her skin tingle slightly.

She rolled her eyes at him. "Oh, shut up."

He grinned, delighting in how a pale flush dusted across her cheeks as she caught sight of it.

"—it can't have bin her, I'll swear it in front o' the Ministry o' Magic if I have to!"

"Hagrid, I—" Dumbledore tried to interrupt the large man, but there was no stopping Hagrid once he got started.

"—yeh've got the wrong girl, sir, I know Hope never—"

"Hagrid!" Dumbledore had to near yell to speak over Hagrid. "I do not believe that Hope attacked those people."

Hope blinked owlishly in surprise, almost dropping Michael's helmet as she did so, only catching it on her fingertips at the last second.

Hagrid mumbled a quiet and a hasty apology and opted to await outside the door, leaving George and Hope alone with Dumbledore.

Dumbledore gazed at her with eyes that hid shadows. Hope Potter was a very guarded individual, that much had been obvious since her first year, but now he could see she was somewhere caught between fortifying and demolishing those walls. Her penchant for getting into trouble was getting worse as the years wore on and so was her temper.

There was a darkness that rested inside her, he knew, but he did not yet know of the depths of it.

Or perhaps what he mistook for darkness was a swell of several different emotions.

He had to give himself a mental shake when Hope placed the helmet she had been carrying around in his hands with a fierce stare that wouldn't have looked out of place on the face of Lily Evans.

"That's Sir Michael Richmond's helmet, you should give him a posthumous award for services to the school," she said seriously, "he's been guarding it since the tenth century."

Dumbledore's eyes crinkled slightly. "I will see to it."

"Good." Hope's shoulders relaxed slightly as if no longer holding onto the metal hat lifted the stress from her shoulders. "He deserves it."

Dumbledore couldn't help but feel a little bemused was he watched Hope being tugged towards the door, disappearing down the stairs, complaining after the ginger-haired boy in a way that made him smile.

"Hope, what in Merlin's name are you doing?"

It was Friday night and Hope looked up from her cocoon of parchment to stare at Ron and Hermione who had just come up the secret staircase to check on the Polyjuice Potion. Her eyes were a little cross-eyed from reading and writing for so long and her fingers were stained with ink.

As sad as it was, this was probably the most that they'd seen of her all week when they weren't in class.

"Research," Hope said bluntly, "what're you doing?"

Ron stooped down to look at her notes all scattered around her, noticing a number had been recently thrown into the fire. They were completely covered with her bubbly and slanted scrawls. The words were rather disjointed, though, much like her trains of thought. He picked up one paper:

Big or small? Invisibility charm or wall chameleon? Language specific? Affects dead and living.

"Hope…" Ron said slowly, "just how much research have you been doing?"

"Dunno, really," Hope said, barely stifling a yawn, "and then Angie's asked me to help her with werewolf research."

"Why?" Hermione asked from over by the simmering cauldron.

Hope shrugged, uncomprehendingly. "Angie says she wants to be a Healer and she wants to see if there might be some way to cure them, so she's asked me to help her find out everything on them."

"Ah," Hermione said, though she didn't really understand.

"You've been looking up ways to travel around invisible?" Ron guessed, lifting one of her books from the ground and flipping through it. "Find anything promising?"

"Some," Hope admitted, "but nothing that points to a creature that can use invisibility, that's why I have Ancient Magical Beasts, because if it must be very old if this has happened before, but maybe not in living memory…" Her lips creased into a thoughtful frown. "What d'you think?"

"I think you're assuming too much," Ron said carefully, looking over a few different pages at once. "What if this is the baby, or something, of that beast?"

"Hm…you could be right," Hope admitted, taking his hands and allowing herself to be hoisted into a standing position. "So, how's the potion coming?"

"Nearly done," Hermione said with a beaming smile, lowering the fire to a simmer. She helped her friend pile up her parchments accordingly before the three of them left together.

The good thing about the Christmas holiday was that hardly anyone was left in the school apart from Hope, Hermione, the Weasleys, Malfoy and his cronies. It was probably as close to having free reign as they could possibly get at Hogwarts.

The snow was coming down heavy and fast, caking the land and castle in the purest of whites. So, Hermione found herself dragged out into the whiteness, clad heavily in a coat, gloves, boots, and hat as a minor protection against the cold.

"A snowball fight!" Hope was saying as she dragged her down the stairs with Ron close behind. "Come on! It's practically a tradition!"

"But!" Hermione complained half-heartedly as she was pulled out of the castle and into the snowy turf. She'd never been in a snowball fight before; she'd never had the friends to play with. Just thinking about how much her life had changed in the past two years almost made her want to cry; she'd never been so happy.

"It'll be fun!" Hope insisted with a grin, her eyes a sparkling hazel. "Come on! We'll show Fred and George that small packages can pack a big punch!"

"Who're you calling small?" Ron asked in a pseudo-insulted voice. "I'll have you know that I am very tall!"

The identical dubious looks that were thrown his way by his two female friends, both of whom were still rather short, was almost comical.

"Sure you are, Ron," Hope said in a voice that said she was humouring him. "Maybe we should take him up to the hospital wing and get him checked out," she suggested to Hermione, "if he's having hallucinations about his height…"

Hermione schooled her face into a serious expression, looking Ron up and down as if looking for some symptoms to a serious disease. "Yes, I think we should. Who knows how serious this is? He might have done some serious damage to his—"

"Alright, alright," Ron grumbled mutinously, "I'm short; happy?"

"Immensely," Hope said with a wide grin, "I'm oozing happiness can't you tell?"

Hope was a lot more cheerful now that practically the whole school was gone, Hermione noticed. She didn't like being watched every second of her day, but it seemed as though she was managing her temper better, which was always a plus. Hope had admitted that Madam Pomfrey was the one who had been helping her in that aspect; she didn't think it was good for someone so young to be so angry. It was relieving to Hermione to know that she was learning to let go of all that anger; being angry wasn't very healthy.

Hope had been so moody lately that her smiles had become a rarity, but Hermione and Ron were secretly (or not-so-secretly, depending on how you looked at it) pleased at its presence, knowing that it would vanish as soon as Malfoy drifted into her path or when all the students came back from their brief vacation from class.

It wasn't something that any of the three were looking forward to.

"OI! You three hurry up!"

Three heads swivelled to stare at Fred and George. They both wore bright, beaming grins with cheeks pink from the cold and they were surrounded by little pure white balls.

"Oh, hell no!" Hope snapped, stabbing a double-gloved hand towards the identical pair. "Who said you could make ammo while we were getting ready?!"

"You snooze, you lose, sweetheart!"

Hope's whole face light up like the setting sun at the endearment and the next second she was racing after George shouting at him and throwing snow at him at every opening that she had.

"Do you think she knows that there's a betting pool going on between her and George?" Ron mused aloud, sniggering when Hope managed to stuff a bit of snow down the back of George's coat, earning him a yelp of surprise.

"I doubt it," Hermione said dryly, "if she had, you'd be short a brother or two."

"Probably," he agreed before giving his own yelp as a tightly packed ball of snow collided with his face, sending him reeling slightly, his face stinging with the cold. "FRED!"

His older brother was grinning like the cat that got the canary, tossing a ball of snow up and down in his hand. "Come on, li'l bro', you didn't think it was just going to be Hope against George, did you?"

Ron groaned before dodging wildly as the ball whisked by his head. He could hear Hermione squeal, so he must have hit her. Moving fast he scooped up a bit of snow in his hands, flinging it at Fred.

Fred stared, a bit bemused as the ball broke apart in the wind leaving him unharmed. He quirked an eyebrow at his brother as if to say: "Really, Ron? Is that the best you've got?"

Ron's ears turned red in embarrassment, but then he grinned widely as a clump of snow smacked into the side of Fred's head, knocking his head to the side slightly. Fred had just enough time to see Hermione bending down for a second ball before he went streaking in the direction that Hope and George were waging their snow war, because it did indeed seem to be war.

"Where d'you think you're going?" Ron called to him as he and Hermione raced after the ginger-haired fourth year. "We're not done yet!"

Fred's laughter was almost lost to the wind as he reached his twin, ducking behind him for protection.

"Oi!" George complained, before ducking swiftly to avoid another well aimed ball to his face. "Oi!" he said again. "The face!"

"Where's that famous Weasley Focus that I've heard so much about?" she shot back with a wild grin, before toppling to the ground from a blow to her chest with a small scream. "FRED!"

The Weasley twin grinned impishly until he saw the glint in her eye, and then he started to worry. He tried to run, but he didn't get very far, and Hope latched onto his back like a leech, shoving the snow down his shirt (it was starting to become a signature move for her).

He yelled at the feel of the ice against his skin, flinging her off as she gave a bout of triumphant laughter.

"I'll get you for that, Potter!" he swore, dancing around in an attempt to shake the dissolving snow out of his layer of clothes, but it didn't seem to be working much in his favour.

Hope grinned widely at his predicament, opening her mouth to say something more, when her feet slipped and Hope fell backwards, tumbling down, down, down until she finally came to a stop in a heap of limbs. She sat up, feeling a little dizzy and then she had to stare. She had never been to this part of Hogwarts before, it was generally avoided by most students, and now she knew why.

It was a willow tree. The willow tree everyone called the Whomping Willow. She had always thought it was a strange name to give a tree, but now it made perfect sense.

The willow did look like a normal willow, with flexible branch-like tendrils hanging in a low droop, but it also had thick, heavy, mace-like branches that looked as though they could crush you into dust if you got too close, and Hope had indeed gotten too close, because now the willow had begun to move.

"Hope! Get away from there!"

George's voice helped her regain her senses, but by that time, one of the club-like branches struck downwards, intent on flattening her to a pancake, which she had no doubt that it would have done, had she not rolled to the side and out of harm's way. But then she was attacked by the previously innocent looking hanging vines, slapping at her hard enough to give her whip-lash. Hope barely had enough time to roll out of the way of the next strike when the tree suddenly stilled.

"Where'd she go?" Ron demanded, staring open-mouthed at the tree.

The willow had stopped, but Hope was gone.

Chapter Text

Awareness came very slowly for Hope despite her mind insisting that she'd only been out for a few seconds. The last thing that she wanted to do was move, but she had to eventually.

The darkness faded very slowly, but surely for Hope.

Hope's head was throbbing, that was the first thing that she noticed. She groaned under her breath, rubbing her closed eyes with her hand. What had just happened? She stumbled to her feet, her hands scraping against the wall as she did so. She blinked and stared at one side, her fingers tracing against the scratches gored into the stone…like claws. She retracted her hand quickly wondering where on earth she had come out. And then she heard the voices.

"Where did she go?"

"She was just here!"

Hope limped in the direction of the voices, hoisting herself through a thicket of what looked like roots until her fingers brushed against cold snow. She gripped at it as though it was her life-line, coughing out in a voice that sounded a bit clogged, but maybe that was just her. "H-Here!"

In a matter of seconds, her hands had been gripped and she had been pulled up and out until the bright afternoon sky could be seen, not that it could compare to the precise colour of George's eyes…she blushed, what an embarrassing thought.

Fred and George dragged her back and out of reach of the Whomping Willow which had began to rouse once more.

"Where the ruddy hell'd you go?" the twins demanded identically, though she could hear from their voices that George was more concerned; that made her want to blush, again.

"I fell," she said, still a little confused, "there was some kind of hidey hole or something…and I hit my head—"

She didn't have time to say much else because she was already being forcefully dragged in the direction of the hospital wing with a rather bemused expression on her face. Hermione, Ron, and Fred aren't quite so restrained, and they laughed at the pair, as the crisis has now been averted.

"It's only a small bump," Madam Pomfrey said, once her chronic patient had returned via George Weasley, her fingers lightly probing at the back of her head, searching for the spot Hope had reluctantly indicated and finding it in a matter of seconds. "You fell, didn't you?"

Hope's cheeks dusting a faint pink and she screwed her lips together in the "I'm-not-telling-you-anything" look that Madam Pomfrey had grown so used to seeing. Its reappearance made her roll her eyes for good measure.

"The throbbing will subside in a few minutes," she told her dryly, "and the bump will be gone in a matter of hours."

Hope gestured mutely at Madam Pomfrey, directing her face towards George's with a very clear "You see?" look on her face.

George rolled his eyes at her. "Oh, don't say that you wouldn't be a tiny bit worried about me if I fell inside the Whomping Willow and got a bump on my head."

Hope stuck out her tongue. "I don't know, it doesn't sound like something you'd do…"

Madam Pomfrey waved them out of her hospital wing looking a little paler than usual, but the pair didn't seem to notice at all, bickering all the way down the stairs whether or not Hope would have cared if it had been George that had been injured. She felt an enormous amount of relief as their voices faded away, as they went off to meet their friends and siblings.

If Hope had gone a few steps too far in that secret passageway located under the Whomping Willow, then there would be an entirely different conversation taking place. She could only imagine if Hope discovered that the passageway led to the Shrieking Shack down in Hogsmeade…Hope had a talent for sticking her nose where it shouldn't be, and this was one of those cases.

Hope didn't even know who Remus Lupin was, let alone his condition, or even where he was led to transform. That wasn't necessarily a good thing; Hope deserved to know the friends her father had had, even with the knowledge of the bad ones, but Professor Dumbledore had forbade her from speaking of them to her patient. She did not understand why, the girl was certainly in need of some men in her life that fit the bill of "unrelated uncle" and Remus Lupin fit that to a 'T'. But Professor Dumbledore had cited that she should find out about her father's friends in due time, pushing so much in her face on top of all the stress that she had been undergoing since Argus Filch's cat had been attacked…she might not handle the knowledge too well.

But, Hope was very good under pressure, so she wondered what was really behind the headmaster's reasoning in that aspect, but she knew better than to question Albus Dumbledore.

She watched through the window as Hope and George rejoined Hermione, Ron, and Fred, starting up their game of snowball once more, though being careful enough to stay away from the Willow, much to her silent relief.

She couldn't help the small smile that wormed its way onto her lips as she noticed how George hung close to Hope's side –even though it earned him a startling number of snowballs to the face– it was an unbearably sweet gesture, but Hope didn't seem to take much note of that, only considering it far too annoying to have him watching her like a hawk.

That was so like her.

Madam Pomfrey's grin widened; it would be the end of this year, or the beginning of the next, that much she was sure.

Hope was beginning to regret the whole business with the Polyjuice Potion once she got a very good look at it. It looked like mud, and mud was the most unappealing thing Hope could ever want to drink.

"God, I hope that tastes better than it looks," Hope said, looking into the cauldron as the thick brown liquid bubbled malevolently. "It looks revolting."

Hermione tossed her a glare. "Oh, quite complaining!"

Hermione seemed to have planned everything out and had three folded Slytherin uniforms lying on the couch.

"Easy for you to say," Hope grouched, "you're not turning into a bloke."

Hermione tried to hide her snigger, but Hope heard it anyways.

"So where's your hair?" she asked like some people would ask "Where's your Transfiguration book?" or "Where's your potion's kit?"

Hermione held out a small stoppered bottle that held a small and thick hair. "Millicent Bulstrode left this on my robes after the disastrous Duelling Club incident. She's gone home for the holiday, so I'll have to tell the Slytherins that I've decided to come back."

"No one's going to believe that," Ron said.

"Besides," Hope added before Hermione could snap at them, "what happens when Millicent doesn't show up for the rest of the holiday? Wouldn't you be a tiny bit suspicious if you were a Slytherin?"

Hermione deflated at Hope's words. She had to admit, that she was probably right. That was the only part of the plan that she hadn't completely worked out. "Oh, fine," she grumbled, "what am I supposed to do, then? Just sit here and wait around for you two to come back?"

"Better than making the Slytherins more suspicious than they already are," Ron said sagely as Hermione poured the potion into a pair of tall glasses, having them insert their hair into their glass. Hope's, which contained Goyle's hair, turned a dullish sort of yellow-brown, while Crabbe's hairs turned Ron's to a brown that was almost the same colour as the original potion.

"I stand corrected," Hope said with a look of utter disgust as she swished the potion around in her glass, "this looks revolting." She scrunched up her nose for emphasis. "Exactly how long am I going to have to be a bloke?" she demanded of Hermione, making Ron snort slightly.

"Er…about an hour," Hermione said, grimacing slightly.

"Great," Hope drawled out. "Just, great. Fine…We should change before we drink," she said, directing her attention towards Ron, "or we might ruin our clothes."

"Merlin forbid."

She smacked him on the back of his head. "Easy for you to say, you're still going to be a bloke when this ends, but I'm a girl!"

She huffed in irritation, gathering up the mass of clothes that could only fit Goyle and taking her potion in hand, striding across the room and into the loo that had only two stalls. The clothes were rather difficult to get into because they were so big, but that was nothing compared to the potion itself.

As soon as the liquid trickled down Hope's throat she felt as though a dozen different somethings were pressing outwards from her stomach, making it feel as though it was on fire, and Hope was certain that it wasn't. Her skin was beginning to swell, her slim frame disappearing in a matter of seconds and the skin bubbling outwards adding to the largeness that was Goyle.

For a few seconds more, nothing happened, so Hope assumed that the transformation must be complete and moaned, "Gods, I feel like I'm gonna be sick!" And then she blinked, because the voice that had left her mouth was male.

She unhinged the door and looked into the mirror across from the stalls.

Goyle was shorter than her, but not by much, and his hair was short and brown cut close to his forehead. Hope glared at Hermione who was shaking with suppressed giggles. "If you tell anyone about this," she threatened in Goyle's low voice, "I'll kill you."

"I'll keep that in mind," she promised, but Hope could tell that she wasn't taking her very seriously, only to be reduced to giggles again when Ron stepped out of the second stall.

"You look absolutely gorgeous, Ronald!" Hope said sarcastically, though it didn't quite come out the way she'd intended in Goyle's voice as it did in her own; Hope's voice was made for sarcasm, and Goyle's certainly wasn't.

Ron ignored her, morbidly fascinated by his reflection, poking his/Crabbe's nose with a fat finger. "This is unbelievable. Unbelievable."

"We should get going," Hope said, glancing at the ancient grandfather clock as they left the safety of the bathroom, "we've got about fifty-seven minutes until this potion runs out…"

"Right," Ron agreed, as they descended the stairs with a bid of farewell from Hermione as the trapdoor closed, "so where exactly is the Slytherin common room?"

"In the dungeons," Hope said, screwing up Goyle's face slightly trying to recall everything she'd ever heard about where the Slytherins lived during the school year, and that was startlingly small, "but apart from that, no idea."

"Great," Ron grumbled as they descended down so many staircases that Hope had begun to lose count. "Now we have to find someone to fol—"

"What are you doing here?" he cut across himself suddenly at the sight of his older brother performing his prefect rounds, speaking before Hope had the chance to silence him, mentally slapping a hand to her face. Idiot!

Percy didn't appear to be very impressed by Ron/Crabbe's question, speaking in a stern voice that Hope had often seen him use towards his younger siblings. "That is none of your business. Its Crabbe, isn't it?"

Ron seemed to have momentarily forgotten that he wasn't actually himself and gave an affirmative.

"Well, get off to your dormitories," Percy said, "it's not safe to go wandering around dark corridors these days."

Hope stepped on Ron's foot a few seconds too late to stop his next words. "You are."

Percy seemed to puff out his chest slightly, a bit like a blowfish Hope noticed, to her silent amusement. "I am a prefect. Nothing's about to attack me."

Hope resisted arching an eyebrow at that statement; he didn't seriously think a badge was going to protect him from an invisible beast, did he?

Hope had half the mind to open her mouth and say just that when they were interrupted by the drawling voice of Draco Malfoy.

"There you are. Have you two been pigging out in the Great Hall all this time? I've been looking for you; I want to show you something really funny."

And then he saw who had stopped them and he gave Percy a glare that he might have thought was impressive, but Ron knew was nowhere close to being as scary as Hope's.

"What are you doing down here, Weasley?" he asked snidely.

Percy's ears burned red and his eyes sparked with anger. "You want to show a bit more respect to a school prefect!" he snapped. "I don't like you attitude!"

Hope had to catch herself from saying in a dry voice, "No one does."

Malfoy waved at the pair to follow them as if they were henchmen, or something of the like. Hope tried very hard to keep her face blissfully blank, but that was always difficult to do around Malfoy.

"What's the new password again?" he asked Hope, who had to scramble for a few seconds.

"Er…" she grunted, doing a spot-on impression of Goyle, before Malfoy remembered it on his own. "Oh, yeah– pure-blood!"

Hope frowned; who was in charge of setting the password every month? They had no imagination.

The wall in front of them slid open to reveal a hidden common room that had a strange sort of beauty that only Hope could appreciate. Maybe that was just the Slytherin in her blood talking, but the common room was really nice. The room seemed to have a greenish tinge that was added to by flickering lamps that were an acid emerald colour and the sofas and chairs were made of black and dark green leather.

In a word, the Slytherin common room was grand, grand and beautiful, but nothing like the warmth and safety that the Gryffindor common room held and she knew which one she liked better.

"Wait here," Malfoy said, "I'll go and get it, my father's just sent it to me—"

So, Hope and Ron had no choice but to slump into the black couch that was closest to the fire, waiting until Malfoy returned with the Daily Prophet, forcing the pair to read it.


Arthur Weasley, Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts was called into question earlier today in response to the number of Muggles finding themselves in possession of potentially dangerous items previously owned by witches and wizards.

Lucius Malfoy, a governor of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, who has been a staunch opposer since the bill was first written had much to say on the matter: "Weasley has brought the Ministry into disrepute, suggesting laws and bills that only serve to benefit the Muggles and not wizard-kind. If he does not provide a compromise between the two, then the Muggle Protection Act should be scrapped immediately."

Mr. Weasley was unavailable for comment, although his wife told reporters to clear off or she'd set the family ghoul on them.

Hope schooled her face appropriately, but she couldn't see how Malfoy really found it funny at any point in the paper, apart from the part where his father insulted Ron's and tried to make himself seem like a saint by contrast. He would find that funny, she thought in annoyance.

"Well? Don't you think it's funny?" Malfoy said as Hope handed the clipping back to the Slytherin boy.

Hope gave a few low grunts that could have easily been mistaken for laughter, since Goyle was such a quiet bloke and everything…

"Arthur Weasley loves Muggles so much he should just snap his wand in half and go and join them," Malfoy said with disgust, his lips drawing upwards into a scornful sneer. "You'd never know the Weasleys were pure-bloods, the way they behave."

He had taken a step too far and Hope glanced worriedly to Ron who had his hands clenched into shaking fists and his face was pinched, colouring with rage at Malfoy's blatant insults of his father.

"What's up with you, Crabbe?" Malfoy demanded, and Ron, thinking very fast it seemed, went with: "Stomach-ache."

"Well, go up to the hospital wing and give all those Mudbloods a kick from me."

Hope's jaw almost unhinged at that. What?!

"You know, I'm surprised the Daily Prophet hasn't reported all these attacks yet," he said in a pondering voice that sounded very fake, as though he had already figured everything out. "I suppose Dumbledore's trying to hush it all up. He'll be sacked if it doesn't stop soon. Father's always said old Dumbledore's the worst thing that ever happened to this place. He loves Muggle-borns. A decent headmaster would never've let slime like Creevey in…"

Hope was starting to find his voice entirely annoying, not that she hadn't always before, but it was more obvious now. She was actually finding herself zoning out, which wasn't necessarily a good thing, as they were trying to gather information here.

"…And people think she's Slytherin's heir!"

Hope felt a flash of irritation at that, doing her best to pay attention to Malfoy's next words, which proved to be a breakthrough. Apparently Malfoy wasn't the heir, which had been what Hope had been praying for –she didn't really want to be related to him– but he had some useful information. The Chamber of Secrets had been open before, at least fifty years prior, and during that time, a Muggle-born student had died, and the person who had done it had been expelled.

Unfortunately, they had no time to learn anything else, (apart from the secret stash of Dark items hidden under the drawing-room floor of his manor) because their potion had run out, and they had to practically run to make it out of the common room and down the hall before they reverted completely back to their true appearance.

At which time, Hope fell over her feet as her trousers loosened, almost falling completely before Hope gripped them and hoisted them up her body like some very fat clown suit.

Ron would have laughed if her face hadn't been so downright murderous.

"Shut those blinds before I kill you and dangle your corpse from the Astronomy Tower," a voice proclaimed in the early morning, making Percy jump from where he had drawn back the curtains to allow sun to filter into the common room.

His gaze drifted to over where Hope had claimed the couch closest to the fire and was so completely swathed in blankets, that the only skin that was visible was her head and arms, the arms being thrown over her eyes in an attempt to shield her eyes from the sunlight.

She'd caught a mild cold the day before and had proclaimed loudly with a sniffling voice that if anyone bothered her for the rest of the night, they'd wake up with a load of unmentionable poisons in the bed. Of course, the Weasleys knew her too well to take her seriously, well, except for Ginny who had gone stark white, and had to be assured several times that death threats were something Hope often gave out but never acted upon, so she didn't need to worry.


"Oh, right, sorry!" The oldest Weasley boy still in school stuttered, quickly shutting the curtains as the now-brunette struggled to sit up in her make-shift bed, scrubbing at her eyes and yawning widely. "Were you still sleeping?"

"Slightly," she grumbled, fumbling as she tried to remove herself from the blankets, before simply falling onto the ground in a tumble of limbs that looked painful. Percy winced slightly, but Hope was unperturbed.

"Doesn't that hurt?" he asked awkwardly.

Hope looked down at herself in surprise before straightening herself. "Nah," she said dismissively, "not anymore, I've fallen out of bed too many time."

"See you later, Percy," she drawled, pulling herself into a standing position, "tell the others I'm out on business."

And then she vanished up the stairs for a shower and fresh set of clothes, leaving Percy a bit befuddled.

Not twenty minutes later, Hope found herself exiting one of the Floo fireplaces located in the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic, stumbling forward so much that she almost fell. Luckily, she had regained her balance at the last second, her cheeks pooling with warmth.

Professor McGonagall had offered to come along with her, mostly because she didn't trust that Hope would be able to meander through the Ministry of Magic without getting lost or causing a fuss ("Come on, Professor!), but Hope had assured her that she could manage just fine, and would be back in a matter of hours. Still, her Head of House wasn't entirely comfortable with leaving the twelve-year-old heir of the Potter family to wander through the Ministry without instruction, but Hope had been invited.

There were a lot of people moving about, as it was still a bit early in the morning. Hope found herself staring at that ridiculous fountain as she had the first time she had come over the summer. It was a golden fountain with equally golden figures poised in the centre. Of the figures included a wizard, a witch, a centaur, a goblin, and a house-elf. The way the last three looked up to the witch and wizard with a sick sort of admiration was enough to show that the Ministry considered those who were non-human to be less than them; she knew that Ragnok wasn't pleased with how goblins were portrayed on that statue, from the time that she had mentioned it to him when she saw him at Gringotts over the summer. Inscribed onto a plaque read:


And that was the only reason that Hope dug a galleon or two out of her pocket, tossing them into the water, because she would have avoided the fountain altogether if nothing went towards the magical hospital that she had once stayed in last year.

Hope headed towards the golden gates that a majority of the employees were heading in, but she branched off from the rest of them, making towards a small black desk, behind which a balding wizard sat.

"'Oo you?" he asked in a tired sort of manner.

"Visiting," Hope said, dodging the question of her name.

"Step over here," he said sombrely, as if her very presence sapped the happiness from him…though, he hadn't been very enthusiastic to begin with, so it wasn't such of a change.

Hope did so, allowing him to take his long golden rod that reminded Hope of a Muggle metal detector and pass it up and down her, searching for what, Hope couldn't be sure.


Hope reluctantly handed over her wand. It was quite beautiful in her not so modest opinion. It was roughly carved, unlike many wands were, and the handle was made of a darker wood that twisted around the base, meeting the soft brown wood in an utterly perfect way. There weren't any embellishments on it to make it look pretty; her wand was completely natural.

"Eleven inches, phoenix-feather core, been in use one and a half years?"

"Yes," Hope said, and the wand was returned to her and she was pushed forward and into the crowd that was making for the lift. This was the part that annoyed her the most; the lack of personal space. Hope did not like being jammed into a lift with about twenty other people wondering what on earth a twelve year old was doing in the Ministry all on her own.

Hope hated prying eyes.

The lift always started on the Seventh Floor, which was the Department of Magical Games and sports, slowly moving down to the Sixth Floor (Department of Magical Transportation), the Fifth Floor (Department of International Magical Co-operation), the Fourth Floor (Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures), the Third Floor (Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes), before finally reaching the Second Floor, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, by which time Hope was the only person in the lift. When the doors opened, she caught sight of a very relieved Mr. Weasley.

"Hope!" he said with a smile. "Thank you so much for coming!"

He had only written her the letter the day before, requesting her assistance. A couple of Aurors had come across a locked box in an investigation and had taken it to the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts, because it was obviously enchanted, quite heavily enchanted, too, but the enchantments were such that the box could only be opened by Muggle means, and no one knew a Locksmith. Except for Mr. Weasley who remembered that Ron had mentioned that Hope was rather good at lock-picking.

He had promised to bring in someone who might be able to crack it, but that they shouldn't hold their breath, and, wanting to avoid interacting with the Muggle side (because who knew how many international incidents could occur if a Muggle saw what was inside a wizard's box), they had agreed.

"No problem," the girl said, her box of lock-picking utensils clutched tightly in her hand. "Just put me to work."

Chapter Text

"I thought you were in Egypt with Mrs. Weasley visiting Bill," Hope said as she followed him through the department, looking around at the surprising number of cubicles and earning a large number of curious looks in the process. She noticed a number of eyes jumping to her forehead where her scar was clearly visible.

"I was," Mr. Weasley admitted, "but this is a case that involves the use of a Muggle item, so I was pulled out."

"Sucks," Hope sympathized, before snapping on the large group, "What're you staring at?"

The Aurors meandering around on desk duty suddenly found themselves busy at work.

"So, what kind of box is it?" she asked him as they weaved around people and through the throng of workers.

"It's old, about sixteenth century, give or take a few decades."

Hope's head twisted around to look at the owner of that deep, reassuring voice. It was a sort of voice that was trusting, but new voices always put Hope on edge; she wasn't the trusting kind, in case that hadn't been obvious.

The owner of the voice was dressed rather unlike the other Aurors, all in their dark robes, looking dead depressing, wearing robes that were richly coloured and perhaps styled to be reminiscent of the robes that natives from Africa wore. A golden hoop dangled from one ear and his dark eyes were deep and dark, contrasting with the lighter brown of his skin.

"You must be the locksmith that Arthur's mentioned," the man said calmly, extending a hand for her to shake. "I'm Auror Shacklebolt; it's a pleasure to meet you. Are you certain you can handle the job?"

Hope might've been annoyed if someone else had asked her this question, but Auror Shacklebolt was in luck; Hope was in a good mood today.

"Hope Potter," she said, shaking his hand and smirking as his eyes widened slightly in surprise (she had to commend him for not glancing up to her forehead, though, he got points for that), "and I'm just a modest lock-picker, nothing special, but I'll give it a whirl."

Mr. Weasley chuckled lightly. "Yes, she's always like that," he said to the dark-skinned wizard who had arched his eyebrows at her response, glancing towards Mr. Weasley, "and you might want to show her the box before she loses interest."

"Right," Shacklebolt agreed, directing her and Mr. Weasley to a private office in the back of the department that only held two things, a young woman and a box.

The woman had bright pink hair and a stud in her ear and looked more like a punk rocker than any kind of Auror that Hope had just seen. She grinned, striding forward to grasp Hope's hand. "Wotcher, I'm Tonks." She winked and her eyes turned a sky blue.

"Hope," Hope said, blinking hard and turning hers a blood red.

Tonks' eyes almost popped out of her head. "Cor! You're a Metamorphmagus! I've never met another one!"

Hope shrugged carelessly. "I like my privacy…" She blushed slightly, "a friend of mine thought it was really nice when I had my Mum's hair and eyes, and I like consistency."

Tonks' eyes shone with suppressed laughter. "Oh," she giggled, "oh, I see."

Hope couldn't help but roll her eyes. "Is this the box I've heard so much about, then?" she asked, directing her attention to a large square-shaped cube sitting at the centre of the desk. Shacklebolt was right about one thing, it did look remarkably old, but Hope knew better than to judge without testing it out first.

"Yup!" Tonks popped the 'P' loudly.

"Is it safe to touch?" she asked, eyeing the box apprehensively.

"Completely," Shacklebolt assured her.

Hope lifted the box, bringing it close to her face, investigating the keyhole. It looked remarkably simple, but Hope knew better than to trust appearances…maybe a little old-fashioned, to match…the box's…age…

She flipped the box so that it was end up. "So…where exactly did you get this box?"

"Some British wizard smugglers tried to take the box on an illegal portkey, but it didn't go quite as planned. The Egyptian Ministry had just reported a theft of some ancient treasure they had removed from one of the pyramids," Shacklebolt explained, "so, obviously, we have to take special precautions, and when some men show up with a box and illegal portkey, well, we have a right to be suspicious. But the box is a British make, were not sure if it's capable of handling the weight of the gold—"

"The box is a fake," Hope said bluntly, tapping the bottom that she'd turned up with a finger, "see? It's brand new. Your thieves probably did it too quick and forgot to add that glamour charm to the bottom."

She found herself on the receiving end of three surprised stares. "What? Anyone could have recognized that, I just happen to read a lot…maybe too much," she amended, scratching one of her cheeks uncomfortably before pulling out her picks and setting to work, clicking the two picks into the hole and fiddling with them.

Mr. Weasley waited patiently as she worked, noticing the differences between then and the months previously. Her hair shadowed her face, hiding it for the most part, but he could see there was a slight bruising under her eyes from a lack of sleep; his sons had mentioned she was having a hard time at school. She seemed quicker to anger, if how she had reacted to the stares was anything to go on, and more sarcastic (not always a good thing, George had said).

She twisted the picks until the lock clicked and opened. "Ah!"

She handed it over to Shacklebolt who took it gratefully. "Thank you."

"No problem," Hope said, waving off his words with a casual fling of her hands, "I didn't have anything planned for today, anyways, and picking locks are always fun."

Tonks giggled slightly at her words.

Hope tipped an invisible hat. "It's been nice to meet you, Mr. Shacklebolt, Miss Tonks, but I have to get going…people tend to get rather worried if I'm gone for too long." She rolled her eyes slightly. "Honestly, you'd think I couldn't keep my nose out of trouble from the way they make it sound…"

Kingsley Shacklebolt watched her stride out of the office and towards the fireplace, Flooing back to Hogwarts once more with an eyebrow arched. It was hard to tell which she was more like: her mother or her father.

"Have I mentioned how much I hate homework?" Ron asked his friends as they lay in front of the fire. He had an old book open and was working diligently on an essay for Charms, while Hermione read through a book on Arithmancy and Hope skimmed through a book on Shielding Magic.

"Maybe once or twice," Hope said dryly, flipping through the pages with disinterest. "But it's February now, Ron, you've been doing homework for a month now."

"Doesn't mean I have to like it," he grumbled mutinously, jutting out his chin in defiance.

"No one likes homework," Hope said in a dry sort of voice, "well, maybe Hermione does," she amended.


The other two sniggered lightly at the glare their brunette friend tossed their way.

It was a Saturday morning and most of the students were down in the Great Hall for an early lunch, but Hope and Hermione were up in the common room, waiting for Ron to finish so they could head down; the promise of food was a surprisingly good incentive for Ron to finish his paper, and soon, if that obvious stomach-growl was any indicator.

"Are you sure you don't know of any Slytherin relatives?" Hermione asked again, for what felt like the hundredth time to Hope.

Hope's eyes rolled up to the ceiling and stayed there. "Yes, Hermione, I've checked a hundred times; there are no heirs to Slytherin attending Hogwarts apart from me."

"I was so sure that it was Malfoy," Ron complained as he slid the book shut and rolled up his parchment and headed out the portrait hole with Hope and Hermione by his side. "I guess that means we're back to square one."

"Not entirely," Hermione corrected. "We've still got the information that he gave us, and that's very helpful."

"But that's not much!" Ron complained. "All we know is that the attacks started about fifty years ago! Even if we could look at the student records from back then, we wouldn't have any idea where to start!"

"But the attacks stopped, didn't they?" Hope asked suddenly, having drifted off in thought momentarily.

"So?" Ron asked looking confused.

Hope snapped her fingers under his nose. "Think about it, Ron! Why would the attacks stop?"

Ron's ginger eyebrows creased together as he thought hard and then his eyes widened in realization. "You think the culprit was found, don't you?"

"And if the culprit was caught," Hermione continued on that line of thought, a beaming smile spreading across her face, "then the one who caught him was probably given an award to the school!"

Hope looked at them with fond eyes. "It's like we could be triplets."

Ron snorted and Hermione gave a small giggle.

"Oh, shi—"

Hope danced back suddenly, because at that moment, she had walked straight into a puddle of water. A puddle of water inside of Hogwarts…she hoped that didn't occur often. All three looked up, noticing that they'd accidentally made it down into the corridor where Mrs. Norris had been petrified, and the whole floor had been flooded.

"Moaning Myrtle," they all said as one.

Hope lifted up one dripped converse, swearing under her breath. "I really liked these shoes…"

"What d'you suppose's upset her this time?" Ron asked, wincing at the frequency of the ghost's wails which were made worse by the tiles that caused the noise to echo and amplify.

"No idea." Hermione peeked her head inside of Myrtle's bathroom, motioning for the other two to follow her in, which they did, despite Hope's complaints about her shoes (they were the only ones she owned!).

"Myrtle?" Hermione said gently, not wanting to freak out the quite obviously emotional ghost too much; no good ever came from that. "Are you alright?"

"Who's that?" she hiccupped between tremulous sobs that resounded loudly in the silence. "Come to throw something else at me?"

This time Hope frowned. "Someone threw something at you?" she asked. "Why?"

"DON'T ASK ME!" Myrtle bellowed, making the trio grip their ears quickly (Hope could swear there was blood coming out of hers, even when she was certain there wasn't). "Here I am, minding my own business, and someone thinks it's funny to throw a book at me!"

Ron's lips twitched slightly and he opened his mouth, no doubt to say something that could be construed as insensitive, but Hermione and Hope both elbowed him in the side, effectively silencing the boy.

"Who threw it at you?" Hermione asked, still using that gentle voice of hers.

"I don't know!" Myrtle sobbed morosely, looking far more piteous than Hope had ever seen her thus far. "I was just sitting in the U-bend, thinking about death, and it fell right through the top of my head." Her transparent lower lip wobbled dangerously as she pointed off to the side. "It's over there, it got washed out."

Ron grabbed both of their arms before either of the girls could reach down to grab it. "Don't touch it! What if it's dangerous?"

But Hope couldn't see how a little black book could be dangerous at all; look at it! It wasn't as though a bunch of knives were going to shoot out of it and stab the person that happened to open it. She lifted it up, feeling almost as though it was alive…for a second she felt as if it was hers and that she had merely forgotten it or lost it, but that was impossible, Hope didn't own a diary, let alone one that dull and drab.

"It was bought fifty years ago," she noticed, tapping the inscription on the inside of the cover, "…by a T.M. Riddle…reckon he's worth checking out?"

"Probably," Hermione reasoned, "it means something if someone was trying to flush it…is there anything in it?"

Hope flipped through the wet pages. "If there was, the toilet water's washed it away."

"Let me try something."

Hope handed over the small book to Hermione who pulled out her wand and tapped a random page with her wand, saying very clearly, "Aparecium!"

But nothing happened.

"It's probably just an empty diary," Ron said to Hermione, "we'd probably have better luck looking him up in the Trophy Room and see if he's the bloke we're looking for."

There was no point in refuting that fact, and the trio went and ate a hasty breakfast before making their way towards the Trophy Room.

Hope had never been inside this room, apart from the brief time the previous year when Malfoy had challenged her to a midnight duel that she hadn't been very keen on to start with, but she had never had the opportunity to admire it fully. It wasn't very impressive; she now realized in retrospect, it was almost as if a majority of the school forgot that there was a Trophy Room.

There were a large number of glass cases, all practically completely filled with awards, trophies, cups, plates, shields, statues, and an assortment of medals.

"So…" Hope said, goggling slightly at the sheer number of trophies, "divide and conquer?"

So they split up to cover more ground and Hope found herself before a case inside which a helmet had been placed on a purple cushion, the plaque in front of it reading: Sir Michael Richmond, service to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from 993-1992.

She couldn't help but smile at that.

"Found him!" Hermione said suddenly, waving them over to where she stood. "He's right here!"

"Medal for Magical Merit," Ron read aloud, "doesn't say what he got it for, though…"

"The headmaster probably didn't want anyone to draw attention to the incidents of that year," Hermione theorized, "it would be embarrassing to admit that the students under your protection had come under attack and you weren't able to do a thing about it."

Hope wondered if she was talking about the old headmaster or the present one.

"Valentine's Day?!" Hope seethed on the morning of the Fourteenth of February, already in a bit of a bad mood. "What kind of moron came up with Valentine's Day?!"

"Well—" Hermione opened her mouth to say which moron came up with it, but then she apparently changed her mind.

"Oh it's sickening!"

"Oh, there's nothing wrong with Valentine's Day," Angelina said dismissively, sliding into the seat next to Hermione, "it's what Lockhart's done that's really awful."

"I think it's cute!" Hermione said affronted as Alicia and Lee joined them, hand-in-hand.

"Everyone else thinks its revolting," Angelina added, "or at least a majority of the people here think that."

She wasn't wrong. A large number of people had frowns on their faces towards their Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, who seemed to be basking in the glow of the pink atmosphere. Hope scowled furiously, bemoaning of what she'd done to deserve this life. The poor Great Hall had been decorated so extravagantly, and, understandably, it would have annoyed any decent person. Up and down the walls could be seen a large number of obnoxious bright and dark pink flowers, and there was confetti, shaped like hearts, falling from the ceiling! Oh that poor ceiling…it probably hadn't felt so violated until today; Hope pitied it, she really did. And all the confetti was getting in the food…that would explain why Ron wasn't too happy. Imagine not being able to eat properly without accidentally chewing up paper as they did so.

"This has to be some sort of nightmare!" Hope said horrified as Hermione burst into giggles, gazing imploringly at Angelina. "Angie! Tell me this isn't real!"

"I'd like to say it wasn't," Angelina said, blowing the confetti from her plate before loading it with eggs and sausages, "but..." She shrugged. "There's only one thing to do in this kind of situation."

"And what's that?" Hope said glumly, poking at her confetti-encrusted bacon.

"Soldier on."

"I was hoping for something more…I don't know, proverbial," Ron said, resting his cheek on a fist, looking equally glum.

"Oh, cheer up!" Alicia giggled slightly; her cheeks still bright red from where Lee had kissed her not a minute ago. "It's only twenty-four hours! Then it'll be back to normal."

It took Hope about three more seconds before she gathered up her things upon seeing Ernie MacMillan enter the hall. She was studiously avoiding the Hufflepuff whenever it was possible, but he was going out of his way to always manage to be in her way and saying something rude about her 'darkness.'

"Nope, sorry, can't do it," she said, "I'll see you lot in class."

Lee watched her go, frowning slightly. "What's up her knickers?"


"What?" he said defensively. "It's an honest question!"

"We ran into Ernie MacMillan on the way here," Ron said thickly, swallowing a bit of confetti and gagging at the taste, "he wasn't too pleased to see Hope."

"Is he that Hufflepuff numpty George was complaining about?" Angelina asked with a frown. "The one that thought Hope was the next Dark Lady?"

"Something like that," Ron grumbled under his breath. "He makes these little snide comments every time he sees her, and Hope doesn't really respond to them well."

"I can imagine."

Over at the Hufflepuff table, Ernie MacMillan felt his ears burning.

Hope sat down in her seat in the empty charms classroom, waiting for the class to begin, even though it wouldn't for another good ten minutes or so. She inhaled deeply, breathing out just as deeply, carefully controlling that explosive temper of hers.

"Doesn't it get a bit boring?"

Hope jumped slightly at the sudden voice, looking up and into the bright yet dark blue eyes of George Weasley.

"Sometimes the quiet is calming," she said with a smile, "maybe you should try it sometime."

"Nah," George said, jumping slightly to situate himself on top of the desk table in front of Hope who raised an eyebrow. "That would be too boring."

"And heaven forbid being boring," Hope said with a grin, leaning back slightly, "it's not the worst fate in the world."

"Oh, I don't know," George said with a grin equal to hers, "sounds pretty bad."

She couldn't help the laughter that bubbled from her lips at that comment.

"Here," he added, "I got you something."

He was holding out a blue iris. Blue irises (well, irises in general) weren't shaped like flowers normally were, its petals contrasting with petals that drooped and petals that were raised upwards with lighter blue speckles patterning the deep blue of the flimsy petals.

The blue iris was her favourite flower, but she'd never told anyone that. No, it wasn't because of the transfigured burn on her shoulder blade, though that did add to it, she supposed. By itself, it was a rather beautiful flower, and it wasn't one of the overused flowers, that was why she liked it. Some people liked roses or lilies or tulips, but Hope Potter liked blue irises.

"How did you know?" she said, completely stunned, taking the delicate looking flower from him in surprise. "How did you know this was my favourite flower?"

"Is it?" George asked, his voice lilting in a mixture of amusement and surprise. "I'll remember that next time."

Hope could feel her cheeks heating up slightly, and covered quickly by inhaling the flower. So, there was going to be a next time...

"When you were in St. Mungo's I went to visit you—"

"I know," Hope said quickly, "I saw the Hobbit next to my bedside. I figured only you would read to a unconscious girl."

"Only if that unconscious girl was you," George said with a smirk, "anyways, I saw a bit of blue on your shoulder, and one of the Healers said that you had a transfigured burn of sorts, into a blue means hope, did you know that?"

Hope's eyes glowed with mirth. "Yes, I did. I know an awful lot about my name, you know."

"That's always good," George said agreeably, "though I have to wonder how many times your name's been used as a pun."

"Oh, I stopped counting after awhile," Hope said with a wink. "It gets rather repetitive, you know."

"Don't worry," George said with a grin that worried her, "it could be worse."

"What's worse than having 'hope' or 'hoping' for the best or being 'hopeless'?"

He sniggered. "Okay, that's pretty bad...but at least your name isn't 'Dick'."

There was a brief moment of silence and then Hope was roaring with laughter, her laughter echoing loudly in the silence.

"You are a horrible human being," she gasped out as the laughs subsided. "How does your mother deal with you and Fred? I'll never understand!"

"You don't need to understand," George said with a grin, "just sympathize. She raised two of the greatest pranksters in the history of Hogwarts."

"A bit cocky, aren't you?" she asked in amusement, bending the stalk of the iris so it wasn't quite so long and tucking it into her rosy strands, the blue contrasting with the red.

"Better to be cocky than to lose your nerve," George said wisely, "being cocky has led to some of the greatest pranks in Hogwarts history."

"Uh-huh," Hope said arching an incredulous eyebrow. "That's just the cocky talking, I'd wager."

"Possibly." He leaned down suddenly and faster than she had time to think, blink, or even speak, he had pressed a light kiss to the hollow of her cheek and had jumped off the desk, leaving her dumbfounded as he called behind him, "See you around, Potter!"

One day, she swore, one day she was going to kill him, and she was going to enjoy it.

Chapter Text

Hope would get no peace of mind once class had ended that very same day and she was getting ready for bed with the other three girls with whom she shared a dorm. Parvati and Lavender had been badgering her relentlessly and it was beginning to try on her nerves, as the subject of the matter involved her, George, and one blue iris that she had worn the whole day.

"That's so sweet!" Parvati and Lavender gushed as Hope finally relented told her dorm mates where the flower she had been wearing all day had come from.

"I wish a boy did that for me," Lavender moaned with longing, pulling her blankets up around her, "and the Weasley twins are so cute, too!"

Hope felt a flash of irritation at that comment that she didn't want to decipher. She narrowed her eyes ever so slightly at the giggly pair who gave her knowing looks. Hermione hid a smile behind her book at the expression on Hope's face and couldn't help but add, "He gave you a kiss, didn't he, Hope? Right on the cheek?"

Hope glared darkly at her friend for her betrayal, her cheeks inflaming at the memory of the action, making the two other girls burst into giggles once more and Hope had to draw her curtains around her bed in an effort to save herself from embarrassment, but it didn't work to well.

"Oh, go to bed, you idiots," she snapped from behind the curtains in a sniffy sort of voice. "And stop theorizing about my love life," she added, raising her voice slightly for emphasis.

She could hear the giggles that ensued following her words, but she chose to ignore them. She lay there, awake and in bed for quite some time, ever after the other three had dropped off to sleep. Hope just couldn't fall asleep; it was as though all the sleepiness had left her body and now all she felt was awake. Every time she felt herself drifting off, it was like her back found itself to be quite uncomfortable, and so, here she was, wide awake (and thoroughly irritated).

She gave a sigh of frustration after another ten minutes of wakefulness before finally throwing the blankets from her legs and thrusting open the curtains from her bed. Luckily, the movement didn't awaken her friends. She rubbed furiously at her face, annoyance tingeing her face.

"This is all George's fault," she grumbled to herself, glaring at the iris beside her bed, "I can't sleep because I keep thinking about that stupid git." Her cheeks flushed slightly at the words as she said them. It was strange how she could be so plagued by a simple kiss to the cheek.

Hope squashed a groan, rubbing at her eyes, her eyes falling on the little black book that belonged to T.M. Riddle. Her eyebrows creased together into an obvious frown. Sometimes she could swear she could hear a voice coming from within its pages, but that couldn't be, it was just a book.

Or was it?

She wrinkled her nose, finally making up her mind, grabbing it from the bedside table and making her way downstairs.

The common room had been empty for at least an hour by now. Books had been strewn carelessly about in the haste of last minute studying. The fire still burned in the fireplace, the embers glowing softly in the dark, tossing a dappled glow upon the little diary where Hope held it in her hand. It looked slightly malevolent, but when Hope blinked, it had gone and she was left wondering what exactly she had even seen. She glared at it suspiciously, as if it was playing some sort of mind game with her, but it was just a book…wasn't it?

Hope grabbed the quill and ink from a nearby table, taking it back to where she settled onto the floor before the fire, propping open the diary, poising her quill tip over the page, a single drop falling onto the page as Hope considered what she should write, because, she felt she should write at least something (she wasn't sure why, though), but then something decidedly strange happened.

The drop that fell onto the page was instantly absorbed into the page, as if the page was a sponge. She flipped the page back and forth, but the absorbed ink hadn't gone through the page, it had gone into the book! But it couldn't have!

Hope creased the spine, searching for the ink that had disappeared, but there was no trace of it.

How could something be sucked into a diary? It made no sense!

So, at long last, Hope touched the tip of her quill to the paper and began to write. My name is Hope Potter and I don't know why I'm writing in this diary.

Those words disappeared as well, but then something happened that Hope did not anticipate; words began to appear on the page in someone else's scrawl directed towards her.

Hello, Hope Potter. My name is Tom Riddle. How did you come by my diary?

You know you're in trouble when you start writing in a book that writes back to you. Maybe this was something that magical diaries could do? She frowned, well, if that was the case, then why had she never seen any diaries like that? Wouldn't something like that be something a lot of girls would be interested in owning?

She eyed it suspiciously once more, but she couldn't resist writing a response.

Someone chucked it into a toilet, must've been a terrible diary.

She had meant for the dairy to take offense, but what could it do? It was a diary, what was it going do? Slam shut? However, much to her ire, the diary seemed to skate right over her biting response.

Lucky that I recorded my memories in some more lasting way than ink. Hope frowned…recording memories? Was that something that could be done? Something she would have to look up later. But I always knew that there would be those who would not want this diary read.

And Hope felt an increase of suspicion at that comment. Something about this diary was very…off. It felt…dangerous, but unfortunately, Hope was very much attracted to danger and trouble (Number One Rule Breaker, you know), so she couldn't really stop herself from asking.

And why would that be? Hope's quill twitched as if she wanted to write more, but what else was there to write? Obviously, insulting it didn't lead anywhere.

I mean that this diary holds memories of terrible things. Things that were covered up. Things that happened at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Hope froze her quill where it was, unbridled shock completely encompassing her face. What were the chances of this? What were the chances of finding something that could possibly tell her just what she needed to know? This little diary might be able to tell her just what happened the first time the Chamber of Secrets opened! Excitement bubbled in her veins as she scrawled the next few words.

That sounds exactly like what's going on right now. Were you there the first time the Chamber of Secrets was open?

Of course I was, the diary responded, and Hope thought it sounded a trifle bit smug. I was the one who caught the person who'd opened the Chamber but until a student had been killed by the creature. I was warned against speaking the truth of that night and was given a nice medal for my silence, but the creature lived on.

Do you know who opened the Chamber last time? Hope wrote, feverish with the desire for the truth.


Hope was now giddy with excitement. Can you tell me?


Irritated, Hope cast a frown at the pages as she would have done so if it had been a real person she had disagreed with, but then five words appeared that made her change her mind about it.

But I can show you.

Now, what happened next wasn't something Hope could completely recall, because all she had felt was a feeling much like falling and then she had opened her eyes to find herself not in the Gryffindor common room at all, but Dumbledore's office, only it looked nothing like the way it did now, missing a great number of the curious trinkets that it had possessed when she had been taken there after Justin Finch-Fletchley's attack. She gazed around in a bit of wonderment, staring up at all the portraits when she tripped and fell backwards…right through the headmaster's desk.

Her eyes grew to the size of dinner plates as she sat up, struggling to her feet before pressing a hand against the hard wood of the desk, but it was no good; her hand sank right through!

"What the—?" Hope goggled slightly as she removed her hand and repeated the process over and over again, in a bit of shock.

"Okay, I'm not a ghost," she snapped out irritably, "there's no way that I should be able to go through…anything…" Hope froze. "Unless," she mused aloud, "none of this is real at all."

So that's what he'd meant by show…but how could a diary hold memories? This was turning into a very strange night, that was all Hope knew.

"Professor Flitwick?"

The aged Charms professor lifted his gaze from the parchments on his deck to give his full attention to possibly one of the most inquisitive students he had ever had the joy to teach. The same could be said for her two friends, only with varying degrees and with looks not quite as intense as Hope's.

"Yes, Miss Potter?" he asked kindly, earning a slight smile as he did so.

"I was wondering," she said in that pondering voice that he had heard on countless occasions, "if it was possible to implant memories into an object…say a diary?"

It was a curious question, Professor Flitwick had to admit, and he had to wonder what had inspired the question in the first place, but he conceded to answer it anyways.

"The only thing that is capable of holding memories, Miss Potter, is a Pensieve," he said, "a simple book does not have the magical capabilities of withholding the magic of memory."

"And a Pensieve is…" Hope asked, canting her head slightly to the side.

"They are shallow stone basins," he said, "very few in number and always carved with runes to keep the memories intact and to preserve them whilst they are in the basin."

Hope screwed up her face slightly (he doubted that she noticed her hair had lightened to a soft orange) but then she grinned. "Thanks, Professor!"

Professor Flitwick watched bemused as Hope raced back to her friends with barely a limp.

"So?" Hermione pressed as Hope caught up with them. "What did he say?"

"He says that a diary shouldn't be capable of holding memories," Hope said stoutly as they leapt up the stairs, making for the left hand staircase that would take them down to the Herbology Greenhouses. "So I want to know how it could."

"Could it be…you know," Ron glanced around to check if anyone was listening in on their conversation, "Dark magic?"

Both girls wore identical frowns at that, both considering the possibility.

"Well…" Hermione said, half-contemplative, half-nervous, "I suppose, there is a possibility…"

"I'm not quite sure," Hope said, "I mean, it's not like it tried to kill me or anything—"

"They don't have to kill you," Ron said, sounding surprisingly grim, "they only have to have you completely obsessed with them and you're as good as gone."

All three fell silent at that comment; Ron would know more about the subject, no doubt his father had dealt with countless items enchanted by Dark magic.

"Well," Hermione said once more, "how could a memory be bad?"

"Depends on whose memory it is," Hope mused before raising her voice slightly, "Oi! What're you two up to?"

She was of course speaking to Fred and George who could be seen huddled closely together, whispering feverishly back and forth. Hope was instantly suspicious, as she always was with them, but she never reprimanded them (because she always enjoyed the outcome of their pranks).

"Nothing!" the twins sang in unison, with identical innocent smiles on their faces that weren't actually innocent at all.

"Run along, underlings!" Fred added with a wink.

"I'd stay away from the pudding at dinner," George added with a wink as well, one Hope felt ashamed to admit that she thought had been directed at her alone.

"They're impossible!" Hermione bemoaned.

Hope gave a small shrug, an amused smile on her face as always with George. "I think they're brilliant."

"You would," Ron said glumly, resigned to the fact that his best mate and his brother were going to flirt shamelessly with each other until the day they died.

"Besides," Hope continued, ignoring Ron as she did so, "you can't really think that Hagrid's actually a killer?"

"No," Ron and Hermione said quickly, with Ron adding, "but you have to admit that he does have a fascination with dangerous creatures. It wouldn't be hard to imagine him having a creature like that under his wing."

"Yeah," Hermione couldn't help but agree, "but we're talking about a creature that killed someone, Ron! You can't think that Hagrid would keep something like that!"

"Er…maybe we should talk about something else?" Hope suggested a little meekly, attempting to keep another fight from breaking out between the two. "Like…what classes are you two wanting to take for next year?"

The change of subject evaporated the tension that had appeared between the ginger and brunette.

"Oh, I don't know!" Hermione cried. "They all look so interesting that I can't make up my mind on any two of them!"

Hope gave her a sheepish smile and a half shrug that told Hermione that she was in the same boat. "I can only settle on three. Ancient Runes, Care of Magical Creatures, and Divination." Obviously, Ancient Runes was at the top of her list, being one of the subjects that was quite a bit like the hieroglyphics she'd read about, but Divination and Care of Magical Creatures both sounded very interesting. She had considered Arithmancy briefly, but she hadn't been any good at math in the Muggle world, so why would she be here? And Muggle Studies sounded quite boring, especially to those who had grown up in the Muggle world, except for a select few, who, like Hermione, wanted to see the Wizarding point of view of Muggles.

"Just Care of Magical Creatures and Divination for me," Ron piped up as they rounded the corner.

"You only want to take those ones because they're blow-off classes," Hermione grumbled in disapproval as she pushed open the door to the greenhouse, putting her things in her cubby hole by the wall next to where Ron and Hope's things were designated to go.

Herbology classes were quickly becoming one of Hope's least favourite classes. They would have been your least favourite class if the other half of it (meaning the Hufflepuffs) were intent on avoiding you, insulting you, and glaring at you like you were some sort of villain who had killed the hero of the story. Professor Sprout tried to keep normalcy, but it was very awkward currently, and the Gryffindors weren't taking kindly to blatant rudeness displayed towards one of their own.

So, Hope shredded her Fluxweed in silence, like she always did nowadays, her lips pressed together in a tight line, even as her blade nicked her fingers slightly (it was little more than a paper cut, but sometimes even paper cuts hurt, not that you'd ever see her crying over a paper cut).

"Miss Potter? Class has ended."

Hope blinked, looking up startled and into the earthy brown orbs of Professor Sprout. "Huh?"

"The class, Miss Potter," the stout woman said gently, peeling the silver knife from Hope's grip as if she thought she might use it as some sort of weapon, "it has ended."

"Oh," Hope said, a bit on the quiet side, "sorry…guess I got lost in my thoughts."

Hope glanced past her shoulder to see where the Mandrakes were rummaging about in their dirt-filled pots. "How long until they're ready?"

Professor Sprout followed her gaze and smiled. "The moment they start trying to move into each other's pots, we'll know they're fully mature," she said brightly. "Then we'll be able to revive those poor people in the hospital wing." She patted her shoulder gently. "Don't you worry about a thing. Now run along."

"Yes, ma'am."

"You're starting to get really spacey," Ron said when she rejoined them for the second time that day, "you're starting to over think things."

"Heaven forbid," Hope sniped back, a frown creasing her forehead as Lavender raced up to her, out of breath, her golden-brown curls swinging with every movement.

"Hope!" she gasped once she had regained her breath. "You'd better come-the dorm- we don't know how it happened-"

"What are you talking about?" Hermione and Hope said as one.

"The dorm!" Lavender said, stabbing a finger in the direction of the Gryffindor dorms. "It's been ransacked!"


Ransacked was a surprisingly mild term to describe how utterly demolished the dorm was when Lavender, Hope, and Hermione finally raced up the stairs to meet a slightly shocked Parvati. Mattresses had been overturned, books thrown everywhere, clothes tossed from their dressers. Everyone's things were thrown about, but Hope's had taken the brunt of the ruin, and it took them a good while for the four of them to get the room into order once more.

"Who would do this?" Parvati asked as she held out a stack of Hope's rare books as she replaced them gingerly in the section of her trunk for the books.

"No idea," Hope said, keeping her head down as she mentally listed off everything she owned and everything she'd found. There was only one discrepancy.

"What is it?" Hermione whispered once Lavender and Parvati had gone.

"It's Tom Riddle's diary," she hissed back, "that's what they were looking for, and they found it."

Worry lined Hermione's face. "But," she said faintly, "it couldn't have been someone outside of Gryffindor, no one else knows our password."

Hope bit her lip, avoiding saying what she knew that they were both thinking about. It was time to entertain the possibility that the person who had caused the chaos was from Gryffindor House.

"Are you still awake?"


Hope leaned over the couch that she was sprawled on (having won the game of Rock-Paper-Scissors that allowed her to sleep on it) to look at Hermione. The four of them had reported the incident to Professor McGonagall, who had had the dorm thoroughly searched and checked for spells, but she had come up empty. Still, she had asked the girls to kip in the common room for the night just to be sure.

"Can't sleep?" Hermione murmured lightly so as not to awaken their companions.

"Something like that," Hope mumbled lightly. "Tomorrow's the Gryffindor-Hufflepuff game, you know."

"Yeah, I know." Only everyone knew that. Oliver Wood had been positively raving about for the past month or so. Obviously, he was very excited about it. "Pre-game jitters?"

"Playing Quidditch hasn't given me jitters since my first few games," Hope disagreed. "It's the Hufflepuffs."

Hermione sighed lightly. "You know, one day you and the MacMillan boy are going to have to make up."

Hope's eyes fastened on her and for a moment they looked so old, so very old. "I have a long memory." And then she winked and she was back to herself once more.

"Hope…" Hermione said quietly, "can I ask you something about your family?"

Shock coloured her eyes blue. "My family?" she said in surprise, having to lower her voice suddenly when Parvati twitched in her sleep several feet away. "What do you mean?"

"What do you remember about your parents?"

Hope hardly ever spoke about Lily or James, and when she had it was always in glowing terms; she was her parents' number one supporter which was why she hated Snape so absolutely. Hermione could tell she thought about them, though, because sometimes she would get that look in her eye, like she was thousands of miles away…and so very sad, just like her eyes had been a second ago.

"My mum was beautiful," she said after a moment of silence that had been so long that Hermione had almost thought that she'd fallen asleep, "everybody says I look just like her, but…" She exhaled loudly, "my mum was one of a kind, you know, and my dad…he had these bright hazel eyes that would light up when he smiled." She smiled herself, but then it faltered. "That was the most I remembered of them when I was a baby…the colour of my dad's eyes, and the colour of my mum's hair…and that flash of green that took them away."

Hermione caught Hope's hand. "I'm sorry," she said regretfully, "I shouldn't have asked."

"It's fine," Hope said a little thickly, "sometimes it's good to remember…" Her eyes were trained off in the distance once more. "Besides," she added swiftly, "a few memories is better than no memories at all."

Hermione could only nod mutely in response as Hope turned her back towards Hermione, the material of her sleep shirt pulled tight across her back, a pale blue outline bleeding through her shirt, illuminated by the firelight. She frowned slightly at it; it wasn't a tattoo was it.

"Go to sleep, Hermione," Hope proclaimed in a tired, muffled voice. "You've got a worse attitude than me when you don't sleep well the night before."

Hermione's cheeks attained a healthy bit of colour at that comment and she opened her mouth affronted to whisper heatedly, "I do not!"

The low chuckle she got in return was enough for her to know that she was forgiven for asking such a personal question, if she had even taken offense in the first place.

And that night, for the first time in a long time, Hope dreamed about glowing hazel eyes and a stream of red hair the colour of a rose's petals. And then, she smiled.

Chapter Text

"Must've had a nice rest, those shadows under your eyes aren't as noticeable today."

Hope smacked George aggressively on the back of the head, her face coloured with irritation.

"Idiot!" Angelina said in complete exasperation. "You don't tell a girl that!"

George stared at both of them a look of uncomprehending plastered to his face. "Huh? What d'you mean? I was being nice!"

Hope hung her head, barely resisting from smacking herself in the face, but Angelina did it herself, smacked her forehead in dismay. "You know, sometimes I wonder how you and Fred can function when you're half clever, half-dim."

"Oi!" Fred and George said, sounding very insulted. "We're not dim!"

"Could've fooled me," Angelina said sarcastically, glancing to Hope who was now hiding an amused smile. "Ignore them, Hope. You know how troublemakers are."

A short burst of laughter left Hope's lips at that comment and she bobbed her head in agreement. "Ah, but without troublemakers our days would be quite boring," she said solemnly, her expression more appropriate for someone at a funeral visitation, but it had the Weasley twins howling, earning a dark look from their Head of House for their behaviour. "See you at the pitch," she added before Angelina could begin to reprimand her friends.

Hermione and Ron followed her out, as usual.

"Will you be alright today?" Ron asked as they made their way down the staircase. "I mean, you are playing Hufflepuff…they aren't really a fan of you right now."

"Big surprise," Hope grunted. "Just because they're acting like a bunch of—" She called them something that made Ron snigger and Hermione look scandalized "—doesn't mean that I'm going to throw the match just to make them happ…" She words trailed off as she came to a stop, a blissfully blank expression on her face, as if it has been completely wiped clean of emotions.

"What is it?" Hermione asked in confusion only to be shushed frantically as Hope listened intently to that murderous voice that had been silent for so long, finally speaking for the first time that she had heard it in months.

"Kill this time…let me rip…tear…"

The voice still sent shivers down her spine as it had the first time she'd heard it.

"There it is!" she said. "The voice! Its back! Can't you hear it?"

But like the other times, Hermione and Ron were oblivious to it. Hope wasn't sure who was in a better position; her for hearing it or them being free to not.

And then a look of realization dawned on Hermione, her epiphany making her whole face seem brighter. "Hope! I think I know! I've got to go to the library! I'll meet you at the pitch!" She gave her friend a firm hug and raced up the stairs faster than Hope or Ron (who were both staring after her in complete confusion) could say "Wait!"

"One day," Ron grumbled, "she's going to have to tell us everything upfront."

Hope gave a light snort. "Yeah, like that'll happen." When pigs fly, as the old saying went. "What's she hoping to find in the library?"

"No idea," Ron said with a deep sigh. "But you know Hermione."

Hope hummed in agreement, balancing her broom on her shoulder as they finally made their way out onto the field with Ron branching off to save him and Hermione a good seat and Hope heading towards the Gryffindor changing rooms.

"Ready to kick some yellow-and-black butt?" Alicia asked with a grin as she entered, using her teeth to tighten the arm guards onto her arms as a substitute for her other hand.

Hope raised an eyebrow. "I suppose…do you need any help with that, Licie?"

"I got this," the older girl said around the leather string used to tie the guard to her arm. "No worries-been doing this for years."


Hope pulled her red and gold robes over her body, tying the assortment of ties, doing a much better job than Alicia, if the huff of annoyance was anything to go by. But all the girls made it out onto the field in record time, only to be met with Professor McGonagall's voice blaring out across the pitch.

"This match has been cancelled!"

"Can you cancel Quidditch matches?" Hope muttered to the other three.

"I don't think it's ever been done before," Katie admitted, "but there's a first time for everything, I suppose."

"All students are to make their way back to the House common rooms, where their Heads of Houses will give them further information. As quickly as you can, please!" Though it seemed that Professor McGonagall had tried to keep her voice calm, the last few of her words were slightly higher than the rest, betraying her worry.

"Potter, I think you'd better come with me," she said to the girl whose hands tightened over her broom, as if the feel of the smoothly carved wood under her palm could comfort her.

"I didn't do it!" she hissed angrily, the red of her hair turning absolutely fiery. "Whatever you think I did, it wasn't me!"

"What's going on?" Ron demanded as he came to a halt before the rest of the team and the professor.

"Where's Hermione?" were the first words out of Hope's mouth. Surely their brunette friend would have joined him by now? She hadn't been intending to take long, Hope knew that; she should have been back by now.

Professor McGonagall seemed to be a bit at a loss. "The pair of you better come with me."

"What? Why?" Hope's eyes were becoming frantic, glancing feverishly beyond McGonagall as if hoping to see her there. "Where is she? Where's Hermione?!"

"She's not—?" Ron asked, his voice choking slightly, his face pale. "She couldn't be…"

"Weasley, Potter," Professor McGonagall said firmly, "please come with me."

Hope and Ron followed her numbly, leaving behind her teammates in a flurry of worry. The trek up the stairs to the hospital wing felt much longer than it should have and Hope and Ron rushed ahead of the Transfiguration professor, skidding on the stone as he halted suddenly.

Hermione was stiff and frozen like Colin, Mrs. Norris, and Justin had been. One hand was lifted in front of her, curled slightly as if she had been holding something when she saw the creature. Hope walked shakily to her side, curling her hands over Hermione's, feeling how cold her skin was…it was almost like she was a dead body, but she wasn't dead, Hope knew she wasn't! Her eyes were like marbles, Hope noticed, blank and empty. They were so very different from how her eyes usually were that Hope could hardly bear to look at them.

She didn't even realize she was crying until she felt a wetness trailing down her cheeks.

"Follow the spiders? Tell me you're not thinking about doing this?!" Ron squeaked, his voice pitching a bit higher than he intended and fading out completely.

"Look," Hope snapped, tucking her cloak away in the corner by the fireplace, lifting the heavy wrought-iron lantern with one hand, "we need answers and now that Hagrid's gone, our best bet is following what he said. So yeah, following the spiders sounds like a great plan."

Ron whimpered softly, gripping his now Spell-o-Taped wand (as he'd lost his temper trying to work on his Transfiguration homework not several hours earlier and had slammed the wand down too hard, resulting in the tip breaking off and Ron's subsequent horror). "But-"

"Hermione saw something we missed," Hope bite out, "it's our job to figure out the last pieces of the puzzle. Now, are you going to help me or not?"

Ron glanced mournfully back towards the castle and safety itself, but his loyalty to his friends was something else, Hope had to admit as she watched him gather himself and nod resolutely. There was no point in going against Hope, either way; she was too headstrong to back down from whatever she put her mind to.

"Hold this." She thrust the lantern at him and withdrew her own wand, holding it aloft, training her eyes to the ground, finding what she was looking for in a matter of seconds. "There they are!"

The small spiders were scurrying towards the forest in a hurry, much like the ones that they had seen exiting the castle through the window by Moaning Myrtle's bathroom all those months ago. She could hear Ron's whimper at the sight of them, but she ignored that too, striding into the forest without looking back. The forest was as fearsome and terrifying as it had been the last time she had been in it, and she had hoped to not have a repeat of those events; however desperate times, or so the saying went.

The roots were as twisted as the trees, protruding from the earth as though they were diseased. The air was damp, much like the earth itself and Hope could feel her shoes sinking into the ground with every step, but a little mud wasn't going to stop her from her from finding out the truth.

The number of spiders was growing, all converging into a small tunnel that was just tall enough that Hope and Ron could make their way through it without having to bend down. Ron was now holding her hand painfully tight, but it wasn't like she was going to be able to shake him off.

You know that feeling like you've stepped into someone else's territory? When you get a shiver down your spine and the temperature seems to drop? That's what it felt like when Hope and Ron stepped out from the tunnel and into a clearing that would have been mistaken for being empty, if the scuttling sounds weren't quite so obvious.

"We're in so much trouble!" Ron gasped, but Hope shushed him, listening intently for the things that were making the noises. Hope cupped Ron's elbow, forcing him to lift the lantern higher, to spread out a fan of light over the forest floor, and that was when they saw it.

The spiders they had originally followed had been small in size, but these ones…she gulped. These ones were much bigger. Some were the size of small dogs, but some were larger, much larger. Ron was mouthing wordlessly by her side, his face a mask of horror.

"Aragog!" the spiders cried, clicking their pincers so the words sounded a bit like an applause, only much, much creepier. "Aragog!"

It must have been a name, and the next second, Hope and Ron stumbled backwards because out of the darkness a spider had appeared, dwarfing the largest spiders they'd seen yet by a great deal. Even Hope, who didn't have a fear of spiders, felt a bit of fear at its massive size.

"What is it?" the massive spider that must have been Aragog called to the spider that had spoken. It was then that Hope noticed his eyes. They were a milky white, gazing around unseeing. Hope had to fight a gasp when they landed on her before moving away once more.

She could understand now why Ron was so scared of them. Hope was impressed with her ability to not piss her pants at the sight of them.

"Men," the spider hissed. Hope couldn't help but scoff lightly at that comment; did she look male to it? Or perhaps it had never seen a female human before.

"Is it Hagrid?" the large spider rumbled.

"Strangers," a different spider hissed, making Ron jump and clutch Hope like a life line. At this point, she wasn't going to have any feeling left in the left side of her body…that might be a bit detrimental to her health…

"Kill them," Aragog said in a voice that made Hope wonder just how many times the spider had said those same words before. "I was sleeping…"

"Wait!" she yelled, attempting to get his attention and moving away from the other spiders at the same time. "Wait! We're friends of Hagrid's! He's the one who sent us in here to find you!"

This new information made the spider temporarily freeze in its tracks.

"Hagrid has never sent men into our hollow before," he said, his voice slow and ancient and Hope had to bite down the urge to correct him of her gender.

"Yeah, well, Hagrid didn't really have any other choice, now did he?" Hope said with a touch of sarcasm. She really couldn't help herself, could she?

A few of the closest spiders hissed at her lack of respect.

"What do you mean?" the spider queried.

"Hagrid's been taken away," she said, gaining confidence knowing that he was going to listen to her now, "they think that he's the one behind these attacks that have been happening at the school. They've taken him to a place called As-Azkaban."

This seemed to anger every spider in the clearing, including Aragog who clicked his pincers malevolently.

"But that was years ago," Aragog said, his tone now regretful, as though he knew what it was that they were looking for. "Years and years ago. I remember it well. That's why they made him leave the school. They believed that I was the monster that dwells in what they call the Chamber of Secrets. They thought Hagrid had opened the Chamber and set me free."

So, that meant he was out as the possible creature within the chamber…he would have had a hell of a time getting into the castle unseen with that large body of his, not to mention the blindness.

"The monster," she said slowly, "did you ever see it?"

"No." Was it just Hope, or did it sound like Aragog had a tremor in his voice? "It is an ancient creature we spiders fear above all others."

Ron was beginning to tug frantically on her arm, as if fighting the desire to run towards the exit. The spiders rustled around them, making Hope grip her wand so tightly that she was almost sure that the wood would break under her hand. Could spiders eat humans? Hope didn't really want to find out.

"Er, well, thank you," Hope said a bit more meekly than she intended, "so, er, we'll be leaving now…" She gulped slightly as they closed in slightly around them. "We'll just go and give this information to our headmaster…and he'll try to get Hagrid released."

And before Aragog could say anything else, Hope had yanked Ron back and through the thicket of trees, barely stopping once they'd reached Hagrid's hut to grab her invisibility cloak, before racing back to the castle with hardly a word being spoken, only stopping once they'd reached the common room and had become fairly out of breath.

"They were going to eat us!" Ron squeaked in between pants. "Hagrid sent us to be eaten, that's what he did!"

Hope rolled her eyes, her heart beating against her chest. "Oh, don't be dramatic, Ron, we got what we wanted, we know Hagrid's innocent."

"Innocent!" Ron scoffed. "Yeah, because someone who was innocent would send us to our deaths!"

Way to be overdramatic.

"I think I'm going to go and pass out in my bed," Ron said in a weak sort of voice as he stood shakily, "and if I see another spider again, it'll be too soon."

Hope gave him the barest of smiles. "Imagine if I hadn't thought up some sort of excuse for us to live."

Ron shivered. "Don't even get me started on that," he bemoaned, "I don't even want to think about it."

A smirk wormed its way onto Hope's lips. "Goodnight, Ron, don't let the spiders bite."

The glare he tossed her lacked any real fire, but she got the message well enough. "Alright, alright."

She waved him off, curling her body up by the fire, swathing her body in the blankets that were thrown over the couch.

"Do you ever sleep?"

Hope jumped strongly at the sudden new voice, twisting her head around so fast that she was sure her hair had given her whiplash.

"George!" she complained, placing a hand over her frantically beating heart. "Do you have to do that?"

"It brings me great joy to freak you out," the Weasley twin said dryly as he plopped down onto the seat beside her. "But seriously, how are you doing?"

The flames cast a soft glow onto her face, both hiding the fatigue with ease and making it more obvious. Her eyes seemed darker, almost black and the fire dappled shadows across her skin. For once, she looked rather vulnerable. It was rather strange for her to appear as such, because Hope was a very free-spirited individual and one whom had a very strong will.

Hope smiled tightly before hiding it behind her hand. "I'm fine," she said with a small trace of irritation, "I don't know why everyone keeps asking me—"

"Because we've barely heard you speak at all since Hermione…" George trailed off suddenly at the glare she gave him.

"She's my friend," Hope snapped, "of course I'm upset! Wouldn't you be?"

"Hope." The way he said her name sent a tingle down her spine and her hand felt warm where he reached over to squeeze it. She could feel a steady thrum in her stomach that had nothing to do with being sick. "It's alright."

Hope frowned, glancing up at him from underneath thick lashes before staring into the fire, not realizing that she had yet to release George's hand.

"I know it's stupid," she said, giving a watery smile, "but I just can't help thinking that Hermione's going to be pulling out her hair when she realizes how much school she's missed."

George cracked a smile at that comment. "Yeah, a bit mad about school, that one."

A small chuckle escaped her. "She'll kill me if I don't take proper notes."

"Don't worry," George consoled with a slight grin, "I'll save you."

The smile that she gave him actually reached her eyes that time, the irises barely glimmering with emotion. "I'll keep that in mind."

When Madam Pomfrey strode into the hospital wing one morning, she had to give a small cry of alarm because she now had six students in the wing instead of four.

Hope Potter had dragged one of the hospital chairs so that it was side by side with Hermione's in the night. Her pitch-black hair was a curtain hiding her face from view. She looked remarkably like a statue, she couldn't help but notice, with her pale wrists hanging in the free air as she was hunched forward with her elbows braced against her knees. Ron Weasley had commandeered a chair as well, only on Hermione's opposite side. His face was clear to see with his shoulders slumped slightly and his cheek resting on his hand, his lips barely ajar enough for a rather audible snore to sneak through. Madam Pomfrey's eyes softened slightly as she looked at the three of them.

It was like looking through a mirror and into the past. Hope had picked up a few friends that mirrored the relationship that her father had had when he was growing up.

Obviously Hope was James, the ring leader with his clever tongue that could sometimes get her out of trouble, given the right circumstances. Then there was Hermione, who was the Remus Lupin of the trio, mad about studying and always getting after her friends to do the same. And then there was Ron, who was (unfortunately) the Sirius Black of the crew, the one Hope was hardly seen without, the one who was lazy but loyal (at least, it had seemed he had been loyal…at the time). It put a frown on her face to know that there was no Peter Pettigrew, for she was certain she would prefer a squirrely friend in the place of one whom could possibly betray the others.

But she was getting too ahead of herself, and as Hope said, she was not her parents. She could understand why she got so irritated with everyone else for bringing it up; it must be aggravating.

Ron Weasley wasn't Sirius Black.

Hermione Granger wasn't Remus Lupin.

Hope Potter wasn't James Potter.

Hope was Hope. Hermione was Hermione. Ron was Ron. Madam Pomfrey couldn't help but admonish herself for looking for parallels when there were none. That was Professor Dumbledore's job.

Hope's black waterfall of ink coloured hair shifted slightly and Madam Pomfrey heard the tell-tale signs of someone breathing in rather deeply before one of the pale wrists shifted to cup the forehead under the hair.

"Miss Potter?"

Hope's head jerked up suddenly, glaring blearily at the person who had said her name. "Wha?" she said muzzily, rubbing at the side of her eye with the flared hem of her sleeve. "S'meone say m'name?"

Madam Pomfrey gave her a small but relieved smile. "It's just me, Hope," the Matron said in a comforting voice. "Perhaps you want to tell me what you and Mr. Weasley are doing here?"

Hope's eyebrow twitched as she gave her an expression that said, "You already know why, so why are you asking?"

But Madam Pomfrey wouldn't budge, so Hope finally sighed and said, "We came to visit Hermione, happy?"

"Immensely," Madam Pomfrey said dryly, "now wake up Mr. Weasley so I can get you back to your common room before Minerva comes to take you all to breakfast.

Hope tossed her a look of surprise; she had honestly been expected to be turned in, but, she supposed wryly, that Madam Pomfrey had a soft spot for her most frequent patient.

Ron complained a bit when he awoke, but Hope informed him that if he didn't want to wake up so early, then he shouldn't have snuck out with her in the first place, earning a glare.

Madam Pomfrey looked away when they both gripped Hermione's hands tightly, whispering words that she couldn't hear but could garner the general message: "Wake up soon."

Chapter Text

The tension was still thick in the air at breakfast that day and Hope and Ron ate in silence, much like the rest of the hall. The only sounds that could be heard were the scraping of plates and utensils and the quiet thrum of whispers. The whispers weren't that loud separately, but when you put together just how many people were whispering, it came off as rather loud, but none of the presiding professors mentioned it.


Hope raised her head slightly to indicate that she was listening, twisting her spoon back and forth in her porridge as Ron whispered to her across from the table.

"Do you think there are going to be any more attacks?"

Hope's lips curved downwards into a frown. "Without Dumbledore around? Probably. The teachers are worried, just look at them."

"And no one else knows anything about the Chamber of Secrets," Ron grumbled under his breath, before giving Hope his full attention, because her eyes had shifted to the wood of the table, her eyebrows creased together in deep thought. "What is it?"

"Alright, we know that the attacks first started and stopped about fifty years back," Hope said, reviewing all that they had learned, "that the attacks were caused by some sort of monster that can't be seen and causes spiders to fear, and we know that the monster killed a girl fifty years ago."

"Yeah?" Ron said, not quite following.

"What if she became a ghost after her death?" Hope asked, pushing her half-eaten food aside. "Because she died here? What if she was still young when she died?"

"You have got to be kidding me?" Ron breathed. "Moaning Myrtle? No way."

"But just talking to her would be a pain," Hope muttered to herself, "we need to find which beast it was that Hermione was looking for…she was in the Magical Beasts section of the library but that doesn't really narrow it down much…"

"Why am I sensing that we're going to have another midnight adventure to the library?" Ron asked dryly.

"Do you have a better plan?" Hope retorted, but, unfortunately, he did not, and so, after everyone had gone to sleep, Hope pulled out her invisibility cloak for the second time that week and they snuck out of the common room once more. The number of patrols had increased since Dumbledore's removal and since Hermione and Penelope Clearwater's (the girl who had been petrified along with their friend, one of the prefects of Ravenclaw) attack, and dodging around a number of professors proved to be quite difficult. Ron almost tripped in front of Professor Flitwick and Hope skidded slightly on the floor in front of the stern faced Professor Vector, the Professor of Arithmancy. Luckily, the noise they made was only a small amount, so they went unnoticed for the time being.

Still, it took longer than anticipated for them to finally unlock the door into the library and make their way towards the Magical Beasts section. Hope opened the first book she could find which dealt with creatures of the water, including: Merpeople, Kelpies, Ramora, River Trolls, and Kappas. However, none of the creatures matched any of the information that they had.

"Maybe we should stick to creatures that can walk on land," Ron hissed to her, his voice echoing slightly in the silence. "It can't be something that would die without water."

Hope hummed in agreement, handing over the lit tip of her want to Ron once more as she replaced the book and grabbed another one. Serpentine Critters

"A snake?" Ron asked in surprise, "…wait that would make a lot of sense-"

"Shite!" Hope swore, glancing out of the window. The sun was beginning to peak over the horizon, painting a sliver of orange across the sky. "We're running out of time…" She feverishly flipped through the pages, but it was no use, the professors would be coming to get each of the houses soon. "We'll just have to slip away later."

Later just happened to be after Defence Against the Dark Arts had concluded. Lockhart had been growing increasingly arrogant as the lesson had worn on, and had been so for the past few days since Hagrid's arrest and Dumbledore's dismissal. Ron found his attitude draining and Hope found the man to be entirely too irritating; she was restraining herself from throttling him but not very well. But, luckily, the man was an idiot, so Hope and Ron used that to their advantage, making sure that they were the last ones to leave the class, moving at a much slower rate and slipping away once all of the other students and professor (and mind you, Hope was using that term lightly) had their attention focused entirely forwards.

Unfortunately, this was where Hope and Ron's plan went south. Though Hope had taken to carrying her invisibility cloak around, she hadn't had enough time to pull it out when they happened upon Professor McGonagall.

"Potter! Weasley!" she snapped, her voice sounding much more strained than usual, no doubt to the enormous amount of pressure that had been placed on her as Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts. "What are you doing?"

Ron stammered, but Professor McGonagall's eyes had gone to Hope, as she was every bit the leader of the group as her father had been with his group of friends. Both Hope's and Ron's eyes were red, whether it be from crying or lack of sleep, she did not know (she had no way of knowing that the pair hadn't slept in more than a day), giving them the most affected profile she'd seen of the friends of the students who had been petrified.

"We were—"

"—going to see Hermione," Hope blurted out, saying the first thing that had come to mind, her thoughts happening to rest on the morning the day before yesterday when they had spent the night in the hospital wing with Hermione. Hermione was one of the few things on her mind these days, and it just fuelled her determination towards finding out what had rendered her to such a state.

Ron's face would give away the lie if Hope didn't talk fast, so she steeled herself, trying to make her sound as convincing as possible.

"It's just," she started, "we wanted to give her the good news, tell her the Mandrakes were ready and everything…she hates not knowing about things, so…" she waved her hands helplessly by her sides. It wasn't really a lie, now that Hope thought about it; she did have a habit of talking to people when they weren't listening (being comatose or insane), and that helped it sound more believable.

Professor McGonagall's eyes shone like brown quartz, suppressed tears glinting in her eyes, surprising Hope slightly, but then she'd always thought the tough-but-fair woman had a soft spot for the three of them, just like she did with Fred and George (because, let's face it, no one else would be so lenient with their pranks).

"Of course," she choked out. "Of course, I realize this has all been hardest on the friends of those who have been…" She had to collect herself momentarily before speaking once more. "I quite understand. Yes, Potter, of course you may visit Miss Granger. I will inform Professor Binns where you've gone. Tell Madam Pomfrey I have given my permission."

By the time they sat down beside Hermione once more, Hope was regretting using her friend as their excuse. Just looking at how stiff and rigid her body was, how glassy her eyes were…it brewed a dark anger inside of her. And then there was the fact that they wouldn't be able to make it to the library unseen, even with Hope's invisibility cloak folded under her robes. And make no mistake, Madam Pomfrey would notice their absence.

"Maybe the monster's dead," Ron said hopefully across from her, "maybe the attacks have stopped because it did?"

"No…" Hope frowned slightly, "it's much too clever, think about it; the only attacks have occurred in places that are almost always unoccupied—"

"The library's unoccupied?" Ron asked sceptically.

"During a Quidditch match?" Hope asked rhetorically. "You bet. It targeted places that had two or less students in the vicinity…" Her eyes drifted slightly. "Or maybe that was just a coincidence? Maybe the monster didn't know that those places would be next to deserted?"

"Maybe," Ron shrugged, "but I guess we'll never know will we?"

Hope sighed again. "At least the Mandrake Draught will be administered soon…tomorrow, was it?"

"Yeah." Ron yawned widely, barely making an attempt to cover it with his fist. "Hard to believe we've been awake for two straight days."

"Yeah," Hope agreed, "but then, remember when I was obsessed with that mirror? I was awake for longer."

Ron and Hope grimaced identically. That mirror was more trouble than it was worth; as expected of a creation of Salazar Slytherin himself.

Hope exhaled audibly as she squeezed her hand tightly around Hermione's clenched one, and that was when she noticed it. Something flimsy and crumpled had brushed against her hand. She bent her head close to see what it was that Hermione had been holding when she was attacked.

"What is it?" Ron whispered, noticing the curiosity on her face.

"I think Hermione found something," Hope said lowly, mindful of Madam Pomfrey in her office, "let me try for a second…"

It would have been easier had Hermione not been gripping the paper quite so tightly, but it was also good that she hadn't dropped it before now. Hope leaned in much closer, peeling the parchment as gently as she could from Hermione's stone-like hand, unfolding it just as gingerly.

"What's it say?" Ron whispered lowly watching as Hope's mouth dropped open, betraying her shock. A Basilisk! Of course! A green serpent that could be fifty feet long once mature with venomous fangs and a stare that could kill you from looking it straight in the eye. Everything fit, except for…

Hermione's tidy scrawl clearly said Pipes.

"Pipes!" Ron said faintly. "No wonder you thought it could move through walls! It was using the plumbing!"

"And what if—" Hope continued. "What if the pipes started at-"

"Moaning Myrtle's bathroom," they both said.

"Now can we go find McGonagall?" Ron questioned.

Ron's face was pale in the firelight, and Hope couldn't bring herself to go over to him and make an attempt to comfort him.

Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever…no one ever wanted to hear that about their little sister.

"What should I do?" she asked aloud, not even sure who she was directing her question to when a large hand squeezed hers. She didn't have to look up to know that it was George, but she did anyways. His eyes were red, much like Ron's were, only Ron's red was closer to bloodshot than anything else.

He shook his head, looking far too miserable to be George Weasley, but Hope could offer no words just as he could not. She wanted to say something, something that could make him and his brothers feel better, but even those would be laced with shards of glass.

She couldn't give him hope when she didn't know the truth. Ginny could still be alive, but there was no certainty.

Ron's eyes met hers and Hope read what he was thinking in a matter of seconds. Tonight.

And so, Hope and Ron waited until each and every Gryffindor had slowly filtered out of the common room, finally leaving only Ron and Hope alone.

"Do you—" Ron's voice extinguished quickly before coming back a little strained, "could she be alive?"


"Just tell me!" Ron snarled.

"I don't know," Hope said quietly, calm despite how angry Ron was, "I don't know everything, Ron, and if Hermione was here, she'd say the same."

Ron's face fell slightly and he had the decency to look ashamed, but then his eyes sharpened.

"Then we should go talk to Lockhart," he said resolutely.

"Huh?" Hope said blankly, confused as to why he wanted to talk to someone who couldn't have possibly cured a werewolf of lycanthropy. "Why?"

"He's going to try and get into the Chamber, remember?" Ron asked, referring to the earlier conversation that they had overheard between the professors. "We can tell him where we think it is and tell him there's a basilisk in there."

Hope opened her mouth to disagree (anyone but Lockhart!), but Ron was already moving towards the portrait hole and she had no choice but to follow him. She had yet to see Lockhart do a spell that was remotely useful, but he was going to go down into the Chamber…she sighed, closely following her friend; this was turning into a truly terrible day.

Ron threw open the door of Lockhart's office with an echoing bang.

Lockhart seemed to be in a bit of a hurry. His walls were bare of portraits of himself, his illustrious books were being thrown haphazardly into his trunk, and his ostentatious robes were being shoved into a spare trunk.

"And where do you think you're going, Professor?" Hope said in a dark and cold voice. He was packing to leave when he said that he was going to go down and fight the basilisk…that didn't really paint a good picture.

Her voice seemed to startle him if how whirled around, his eyes wild. "Miss Potter – Mr. Weasley—"

Both Ron and Hope had their wands out and pointing at him in a matter of seconds.

"You're running away!" Ron said in startling realization, giving him an angry glower. "You coward! After all that stuff you did in your books!"

"Books can be misleading," Lockhart said in almost a squeak, quailing slightly before Ron's righteous anger.

"'Books can be misleading'?" Hope quoted with a snarl. "You wrote them, didn't you! Or have I been right about thinking you were a fraud all this time?"

She would have to go with the latter, going off of how Lockhart's face had grown pitiful. "My dear girl," he said in a condescending voice that rubbed Hope the wrong way, "do use your common sense. My books wouldn't have sold half as well if people didn't think I'd done all those things—"

"You make me sick," Hope said with a growl. "Stealing other people's work for profit! You're worse than I thought you were."

And then Lockhart whipped out his wand and pointed it at them. Ron took a step back, surprised that a teacher was actually going to curse them, but Hope's eyes narrowed.

"Terribly sorry," Lockhart said coolly, "but I'm going to have to put a Memory Charm on you now. Can't have you—"

"Expelliarmus!" Hope snapped, her anger spilling over so that Lockhart was actually thrown backwards, slamming into the wall and causing one of the bookshelves to collapse, dumping books over his head, even as Hope hauled him to his feet, keeping her wand and Ron keeping his trained on the professor.

"Now," she seethed, "we're going into the Chamber to find Ginny, and you're coming with us."

Lockhart could only glance between each of the angry faces glaring at him before he was forced out of the office and down to the first floor.

"Myrtle?" Hope called as they entered the lavatory, her wand still pointed at Lockhart's neck. "Are you here?"

"What do you want?" came Myrtle's sullen voice, her ghostly form shimmering on top of one of the stalls for the out-of-order toilets.

"I want to know about the day you died," Hope said bluntly.

The ghost goggled at her as though no one had ever asked her such a question which seemed highly likely, given her attitude. And then she looked pleased that Hope was asking her about it.

"Ooooh, it was dreadful," she said, her voice filling with zest and a smile splitting her face, "It happened right in here. I died in this very stall." She patted the stall on which she was "sitting". "I remember it so well. I'd hidden because Olive Hornby was teasing me about my glasses. The door was locked, and I was crying, and then I heard someone come in. They said something funny. A different language, I think it must have been." Myrtle had to reassert herself, going a bit off-topic. "Anyways, what really got me was that it was a boy speaking. So I unlocked the door to tell him to go and use his own toilet, and then—" Myrtle swelled with pride, her smile beaming. "Idied."

"Did you see anything?" Hope asked. "Like some sort of creature?"

"No," Myrtle said, sounding a bit lost in thought for a moment before her attention returned, "but I did see a pair of great, big yellow eyes."


"Over there," Myrtle said in a vague manner, gesturing to the sink. Hope had Ron take over guarding the fraud as she investigated the sink. Far away, it looked just like the other sinks, but this one was different, she could just feel it.

"Find anything?" Ron demanded.

"Hang on," Hope called back, crouching close to inspect the taps of the sink. Someone had scratched a hasty drawing of a snake into the side. "Yep, found it. It's got a snake on it."

"So that's the opening to the Chamber of Secrets?" Ron demanded.

"Possibly," Hope said, rubbing a thumb over the carving, twisting the tap, but it didn't work. "But how do we get in?"

"Parseltongue!" Ron blurted out, making Hope turn back to look at him. "Try Parseltongue, that's got to work."

"Maybe," she said agreeably, kneeling once more. "I've never really tried talking Parseltongue when there wasn't a snake around."

"Have a go," Ron said, adding, "please."

"I'll try," she said, "no promises."

Her green eyes were level with the tap, but then her silver ring caught the light, giving it the illusion that the thin silver snake wrapped around her ring finger was moving. "Open," she hissed in that tongue that no one else could understand, a tongue that was low and guttural and sounding much like a resounding hiss.

Instantly, a low clicking sound could be heard as the sink sank lower and lower until it had disappeared completely, a metal grate sliding over the top of it. Hope stepped forward slightly, without the sink, now a large pipe could be seen, big enough even for Hagrid to slide down.

She turned, aiming her wand at Lockhart. "You're going first, Fraud."

"I don't think –Think about this!" Lockhart tried to reason with them as Ron shoved him towards the opening. "What good will it do?"

"What good—?!" Ron took an angry step forward, but Hope held him at bay.

"There's an eleven year old girl down there," she said shortly, "she could be dying, so we think it'll do a lot of good, yeah." Then they pushed him, his body clanking against the pipe as he fell.

Ron held out a hand to Hope. "Together?"

"Always," Hope said with a wry smile, gripping his fingers as she jumped with him.

The pipe was dark and dark and slick and seemed to go on forever. The only thing she could be certain of was Ron's hand tightly clasped in hers (reminding her in times like these that there was no one more loyal than her best friends), a comfort in the darkness. It felt like minutes at least before the pipe levelled out, but she couldn't be sure before she and Ron tumbled arse over tea kettle onto the wet floor.

"We must be under the lake," Ron said, attempting to brush the grime that had accumulated on his robes on the way down –in vain, mind you– and glancing around them at the same time, taking note of the damp surroundings. He swallowed nervously.

"Alright, Ron?" Hope prodded, stumbling to her feet with a small cut on one of her legs that had ripped through the thick black material that she always wore over them.

"Yeah," he said with a grimace, "let's go."

She nodded as well. "Lumos!" The light emanating from the tip of her wand spread out, encompassing a large area. "Try to avoid the bones," she added, making Lockhart squeak like a mouse and Ron recoil slightly, but neither made any other comment.

Walking through the tunnel with nothing but silence made Hope very tense because she felt as though someone was watching her, even though no one else was around.

"Hope," Ron's voice directed her in the direction of where he was pointing, "look at that!"

Hope's heart stopped beating momentarily when she saw the acidic green scales…was this the basilisk? She held a finger to her lips, silently telling Ron to be silent as she approached slowly. And then she breathed again.

"It's alright," she called close to where the head should have been, "it's just the snake skin; the basilisk isn't here."

Ron sighed in relief, but Lockhart crumpled to the ground.

"What's wrong with him?" Hope demanded, picking up a few green scales and pocketing them for later.

"Dunno, I think he fainted," Ron said, kicking him slightly. "Oi! Wake up!"

"Look out!" Hope yelled, noticing what he was planning a split second too late as Lockhart lunged at Ron, wrestling his wand from his grip.

"Sadly," Lockhart said with wild eyes, "the adventure ends here. I shall take this bit of skin back up to the school, tell them I was too late to save the girl, and that you two tragically lost your minds at the sight of her mangled body. Now, say goodbye to your memories!"

He raised Ron's damaged wand. "Obliviate!"

Hope lurched away as the wand gave a loud explosion that rocked the tunnel and had her falling to the ground and keeping her arms protectively over her head as if they were a helmet. That didn't stop a heavy rock from jarring into her back hard enough to leave a bruise.

It was only when the tunnel had stopped shaking and the debris stopped falling that Hope finally sat up.

"My name is Hope Lily Potter," she reminded herself before grinning, "ha-ha! Still got my memories intact!" And then her face fell as she looked behind her. "Oh, shite." A wall of jagged stone cut her off from Ron.

"Ron!" she yelled. "Ron, are you there?!"

For one terrifying second she thought Lockhart had succeeded in wiping his memories, but then a cough followed by a muffled voice. "I'm here," Ron called through the wall, "I'm fine, but the git isn't –the wand blasted him."

Hope winced at the pitch of the shriek and assumed Ron had expended some of his anger towards the man.

"What do we do now?" Ron complained. "It'll take too long to move the rocks, and Ginny—!" His words were cut off by his anguish.

"I'll-I'll go on ahead!" Hope said, hoping her voice sounded more confident than she thought it did. "Why don't you just shift those rocks and come when you can, alright?"

"Alright," Ron said quickly, his voice strained slightly, "see you soon."


And then, gripping her wand, she turned away from the wall and towards danger, loping with difficulty around the massive snake-skin. The tunnel was longer than she thought at first glance and she considering moving faster, but with how uneven the ground was, she doubted that would end well for her. It wouldn't matter anymore, though, because the tunnel had finally ended.

She found herself standing before a circular door on which several carved snakes were positioned in curves, the onyx of their eyes glinting as Hope spoke that same Parseltongue word that she had uttered earlier, and a metal snake slithered out of the wall, forcing of the heads of the other snakes backwards until it disappeared into a hole in the wall at the top as the door swung open, admitting Hope.

She climbed down the short ladder before placing her feet on the ground once more.

It was a second chamber, only this one was lit with green flames held in serpentine torch brackets, illuminating the snake-like columns and the massive statue at the end of the chamber. He didn't look anything like the young albeit arrogant young man that she had met at Christmas the previous year, but this must have been when he had grown bitter and angry from all of the horrors that had occurred in his life.

And there…close to the statue was—

"Ginny!" Hope yelled, skidding across the ground as she ran to the body lying supine before the statue. "Ginny?"

She cupped the younger girl's pale cheeks, feeling how ice-cold her skin was. How long had she been lying down here? Hope elevated Ginny's head slightly, slapping her cheeks lightly. "Come on, Ginny," she whispered, "wake up!" but she didn't seem to even be aware of Hope's presence.

"She won't wake."

Hope twisted her head fast enough that it gave an audible crack as she turned to survey the person who had tried to convince her of Hagrid's guilt. Tom Riddle. His dark eyes were fastened to hers, as if her face was an interesting piece of art.

"You!" she snarled. "What did you do?!"

Riddle smiled in a way that set Hope on edge. "She's alive," he said in a voice that could have been taken as assuring, but Hope saw through it, "but only just."

Hope's eyes narrowed as she gently placed Ginny's head back on the ground and stood before him. "What are you?" she demanded. "You can't be a ghost, you don't have that blue aura that they do."

"I am a memory," he said in that quiet voice of his, "preserved in a diary for fifty years."

Hope's eyes narrowed further. She'd already asked Professor Flitwick and he'd told her that preserving a memory inside of an object that wasn't a Pensieve was impossible, so what exactly was he?

And he was holding a wand, a wand that looked strangely familiar... Her eyes widened comically as she checked her person.

"Give me my wand!" she said, her temper flaring. "I need that!"

"Oh, you won't," he said.

"Won't be—? What the ruddy hell are you talking about?!" Hope demanded.

He smiled at her, but it made her skin crawl at the lack of warmth it held. "I've waited a long time for this, Hope Potter. For the chance to see you. To meet you."

Why would he want to talk to her? Hope dropped a hand to Ginny's pulse-point at her wrist, sighing at hear the slow but steady thrum of her heart.

"Did you do this?" she asked quietly.

"You will find that young Ginny Weasley did this to herself."

Her head shot up to stare incredulously. "What do you mean she did this to herself?"

"I suppose it's because Ginny Weasley opened her heart and spilled all her secrets to an invisible stranger," Riddle said, taking in her thunderstruck expression. "Because, you see, little Ginny's been writing in my diary for months and months, telling me all her pitiful worries and woes –how her brothers tease her, how she had come to school with second-hand robes and books, and how—" his eyes had now attained a malevolent gleam that seemed more sinister in the lighting of the Chamber "—how she didn't think famous, good, great Hope Potter would ever like her."

Hope's scowl darkened as he continued to talk, his voice droning on and on, grating at her nerves and giving her the firm desire to bury her fist in his face. The longer he spoke, the angrier she got until her hands were balled up into shaking fists at her side, exercising as much control as she could to not strike him, not that it would matter, seeing as any attack she made would probably go straight through him.

"…For many months now, my new target has been you."

Hope's frown intensified.

"Imagine how angry I was when the next time my diary was opened, it was Ginny who was writing to me and not you," he said in a mild voice. "She saw you with the diary, you see, and panicked. What if you found out how to work it, and I repeated all her secrets to you? What if, even worse, I told you who had been strangling roosters? So the foolish little brat waited until your dormitory was deserted and stole it back. But I knew what I must do. It was clear to me that you were on the trail of Slytherin's heir. From everything Ginny had told me about you, I knew you would go to any lengths to solve the mystery –particularly if one of your best friends was attacked."

Hope could feel herself filling with white-hot rage. He had targeted dare he!

"And Ginny told me the whole school was buzzing because you could speak Parseltongue…" His eyes seemed eager now, happy at how angry he was making her. "So I made Ginny write her own farewell on the wall and come down here to wait. She struggled and cried and became very boring. But there wasn't much life left in her…She put too much into the diary, and into me."

"You piece of scum!" she seethed. "You're talking about her like she's some kind of tool!"

"I suppose she was," he said carelessly. "She's little more than a corpse now, but I have so many questions for you."

Hope glared furiously, but he was not deterred. "How is it that you –a skinny, weak, girl with no extraordinary magical talent– managed to defeat the greatest wizard of all time? How did you escape with nothing but a scar, while Lord Voldemort's powers were destroyed?"

"What's it matter?" Hope asked, more than slightly irritated when he slighted her for being female. "Voldemort—"

"Voldemort is my past, present, and future, Hope Potter."

Hope felt an awful sense of foreboding when, using her wand, he wrote out his full name in fiery letters that rearranged themselves into "I AM LORD VOLDEMORT."

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me," she muttered.

This arrogant, cruel-hearted boy was Voldemort? And then she laughed as he said "I had become the greatest sorcerer in the world!"

"What," he said coolly, "is so funny?"

"Oh, it's nothing," Hope said in between guffaws, "but how on earth can you claim to be the greatest wizard in the world when you're so bloody terrified of Dumbledore!" She probably would have bent at the waist in her laughter if her back didn't throb lightly with every movement. "You're scared stiff when it comes to going against him!"

A low growl left his lips at her insults and he opened his mouth to speak when the sound of music penetrated Hope's eardrums and a red-and-golden bird streaked through the air, dropping something old and ratty into her arms.

This time it was Riddle that laughed, his laugh high and cold and chilling to the bone. "So this is what Dumbledore sends his defender! A songbird and an old hat!"

And then Riddle turned away from Hope, speaking directly to the stone face of Slytherin.

"Speak to me, Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts Four!" The words came out as a hiss, but Hope understood them. And her grip tightened over the hat as Slytherin's mouth dropped down and down until an obvious hole was left and Hope took a step back not feeling brave at all when she caught a glimpse of the king of serpents within the hole, but then she shut her eyes quickly, fearing petrification if she did look upon him.

As soon as she heard Riddle's next words she was racing backwards: "Kill her."

But the tile floor was too slippery with slime and water and she tripped, tumbling to the ground ungracefully and giving herself a long scrape along her jaw as she did so. And then she heard it cry in pain, so she couldn't resist turning around opening her eyes to see Fawkes the Phoenix (the bird that had given her the hat, Dumbledore's bird) using its golden talons to slice up the poisonous eyes of the basilisk.

It had blinded the serpent.

"NO!" Hope didn't have to glance back to Riddle to see the pure fury on his face, because it was laced in his voice as well. "LEAVE THE BIRD! LEAVE THE BIRD! THE GIRL IS BEHIND YOU! YOU CAN STILL SMELL HER! KILL HER!"

Hope huffed lightly in annoyance. Talk about having an obsession.

She lifted the Sorting Hat carefully, only to blink in surprise, because the hat had gained a bit of weight since her fall. She looked into it and was surprised to see the hilt of a sword shimmering within the fabric.

She drew it and without thinking at all of the repercussions, drove the blade into the belly of the serpent.

As expected, the basilisk threw back its mighty head and screamed in a tongue that was universal; pain. Hope withdrew the sword from the snake and poised to strike again when the basilisk aimed its head downwards, aiming for her. Hope had barely a second to twist the sword upwards and into the roof of its mouth.

And then the pain exploded around her and she screamed and poison like fire coursed through her veins.

Chapter Text

Ron kicked savagely at the wall, anger and worry adding to his crazy bundle of emotions that he was currently feeling and doing him no good. He glanced viciously back at where Lockhart lay, knocked out from a rock. Yes, he would admit that it was him, using a rock. It was all his fault anyways. He deserved a good few knocks to the head.

He stopped cold when he heard the pain-filled scream that echoed through the chamber, and then he broke a hole large enough to slip through and he raced down the tunnel in the direction Hope must have gone, coming to a stop before the door.

He wrenched and pried at the metal snakes since there was no handle, but the door wouldn't budge.

"Come on!" he complained, kicking at it with an already aching foot. "Open up!"

He screwed his eyes shut and focused on trying to remember what Hope had said up at the top of the pipe, that word in Parseltongue. He gave it a shot, allowing a strangled hiss to leave his lips, sounding much like it had when Hope had said it. Still, he was a bit surprised when the door swung open and he almost vaulted through it.


Everything was hazy and fuzzy to Hope, the pain spreading outwards from her arm, the poison filtering through her body, strangling her from the inside out as she stumbled towards that blur of red and black that was Ginny.


"Ron?" She mumbled, her eyesight blurring as her friend came beside her, helping to guide her towards his sister, and once she was close enough, she collapsed onto the ground next to her, fumbling blindly for the little diary.

Ron was scowling at the boy who was standing next to his sister –who was still alive, he'd checked–, becoming more solid as the time wore on. And he was holding Hope's wand.

Hope gave a low hacking cough. It was getting harder to breathe; was the air getting heavier, or something? Her fingertips made contact with the flimsy leather cover and she gripped it.

"You're dead, Hope Potter," Riddle said with relish. "Dead. And I'm going to sit here and watch you die, and watch how your friend reacts." He smirked. "Take your time. I'm in no hurry."

Hope flipped the book open, ignoring him, pulling out the fang from her arm, crying out and making Ron pale. Was she really going to die? "Hope," he whispered, "you're not going to die."

She looked up and gave him a bright smile even though the color was fading from her cheeks and the light from her eyes. "Ronald Weasley," she said fondly, "I'm glad I met you." And then she raised the fang and punctured it into the open pages of the book.

"NO!" Riddle screamed as ink spilled from the puncture mark, and, stunned, Ron stared as the boy twisted in on himself before exploding into a flash of light, letting Hope's wand clatter to the ground.

"Good," Hope hissed through clenched teeth. "Now I can die in peace."

"Shut up!" Ron said furiously as a beautiful crimson and gold bird fluttered down to land beside them. "You're not dying!"

"You know I hate stating the obvious," Hope slurred, smiling at the bird, "'lo Fawkes."

The phoenix trilled a few low keening notes as Ginny began to stir.

"I'm so tired…" Hope said slowly, her eyes falling shut, feeling as though her blood had turned to sludge.

"Don't fall asleep!" Ron ordered, slapping her cheeks and making her head loll slightly. "You can't—" and then he stopped, his eyes falling to where the phoenix had bent its head over the spot of her arm, the spot where she had pulled that fang from. The spot was still covered in blood, but the wound had disappeared completely.

Hope groaned, bowing her head forward slightly. "Can we take a really long nap after this?"

Ron gave a noise that was somewhere between laughing and crying. "You can sleep all you like, I promise."


Ginny gave a similar groan as she finally awoke.

"Ginny!" Ron cried in relief as his little sister sat up, and he couldn't resist pulling her into his arms. Seeing her brother and having him hold her was enough to break the dam and a flood of tears and wails left her as she threw her arms around him.

Hope couldn't help but watch the pair in amusement, rubbing her eyes in an attempt to rid them of sleep. Fawkes hopped onto her knee and trilled a few notes to her that made the hammering in her skull and the ache of her back dull slightly. She gave him a drowsy smile, reaching out a hand to pet the feathers of his wings with the back of her hand.

She could see now what Dumbledore had meant about him being quite handsome.

"Thank you," she whispered to him, and he merely blinked his eyes at her, canting his head to side slightly as if he didn't understand. He fluttered up to her shoulder as she stood up, stumbling as she did so and almost falling again, but regaining her balance at the last second.

"Oh…yeah," Hope blinked and stared at the carcass of the basilisk. "The things that slip your mind," she murmured to herself with a weak chuckle.

"Alright, Ginny?" she asked in between a yawn as the girl's tears died down to sniffles. Ginny nodded sorrowfully.

"I'm going to be e-expelled!" she bemoaned.

"No," Hope said firmly, "somehow I think that's going to be the last thing that's going to happen. No one can blame you for all this, you didn't do this of your own will, and Professor McGonagall will understand."

Ginny didn't look like she agreed, the tears still streaming down her face with no sign of stopping.

"I suppose we should go find Lockhart and get out of here," Hope mused aloud.

These past two days had been too exhausting in Hope's honest opinion. Retelling everything that they'd done over the past year, excluding the Polyjuice, of course, to Dumbledore (who had returned from his dismissal by the governors) had been incredibly draining. Hope had been a bit reluctant to hand over Godric Gryffindor's sword, but what could you do? Ron and Hope had received awards to the school, but the two of them had insisted on Hermione receiving one as well, after all, if she hadn't been petrified, they would have figured out just what had caused the attacks weeks ago. The issue of Ginny's involvement had been resolved and Hope had managed to free Dobby the House-elf from his servitude to the Malfoy family.

All in a day's work for Hope Potter.

"Can you ever not get into trouble?"

Hope froze before shifting her eyes to the left where George Weasley was leaning against the wall in his pajamas. Hope's cheeks filled with heat as she realized that she was covered in dirt, grime, slime, and blood.

"I'm kind of attracted to trouble," she said cheekily, flouncing over to stand by his side, "it's why we're friends…or did you not get that memo?"

"Oi, cheeky," George said with a grin that lit up his face, "I may have to prank you for that."

"Oh, you wouldn't dare," Hope disagreed with an even brighter smile. Now that the basilisk was dead, everything seemed so much brighter and happier and funnier. It was funny to think of it like that, but it was absolutely true. "You've met your match, George Weasley."

He arched a crimson eyebrow towards the girl. "My match? You really think so?"

Hope gave a light laugh bouncing onto the balls of her feet and the tips of her toes. "Oh, absolutely," she said cheerfully, swinging herself in a circle, closing her eyes before skipping off in the direction of the Great Hall.

George stood still for a few seconds, his mouth gaping slightly as he stared after her. "Oi, wait!" he yelled, racing after her until he caught up with her just outside the Great Hall. "Merlin, woman, you can run!" he said in surprise as they walked in together, Hope earning a loud raucous applause from a good three-fourths of the room making Hope turn absolutely scarlet, ducking her head and moving to a free spot at the table and burying her face in her arms even as she received many thumps on her back. And then Ron entered and he received the same sort of welcome, and he handled it much like Hope had, turning the exact shade of cherries, but beaming as he came to sit at Gryffindor table.

Hope recovered enough to lift her face from the table, but she looked rather like she had a bad sunburn.

The party in the Great Hall lasted all night so Hope and Ron virtually forgot that they'd been awake for over two days and simply enjoyed the festivities.

"Hope!" George called from the opposite side of the table, grinning again and nodding towards the front of the hall. "Look who's here!"

Hope and Ron twisted to see a familiar head of bushy hair.

Hermione Granger beamed as her two friends stood up suddenly from the Gryffindor table to stare, and then she was running down the aisle, yelling in exuberance, "You solved it! You solved it!"

She threw her arms around Hope as the two laughed and cried, embracing each other firmly before dragging Ron into the mix, much to his embarrassment. And then a number of congratulations went around to Hermione.

It seemed to be a day of red faces.

"Next time," Hope said, wiping at her grimy face, "next time tell us what you're thinking when there's a monster on the loose, alright?"

"I promise," Hermione laughed as her friends piled food onto her plate.

Hope fell asleep halfway through desert after Hagrid's release from Azkaban and return to Hogwarts, despite all the excitement, only to wake up a day and a half later in the hospital wing.

"My illustrious patient returns," Madam Pomfrey said in a wry voice as Hope sat up in her bed, scrubbing at her eyes and groaning slightly. "I'm starting to miss our little chats."

Hope chuckled nervously. "Don't worry, Poppy, at least you'll probably still see me once a year."

"I'm overjoyed," she said dryly, ignoring how she casually used her first name, placing a tray of food on her lap. "Do try not to make a habit of staying up for days on end, Miss Potter, its rather detrimental to your health."

"I had no idea," Hope said sarcastically, spreading jam onto her toast and taking a rather vicious bite of it, "I mean, it's not like Ron and I didn't just find and kill a basilisk."

Madam Pomfrey pointed her wand offensively at her patient. "Don't make me spell you, Miss Potter, you know I will."

"But if you did that your life would become less fun," Hope wheedled with a grin, finishing her breakfast at an incredibly fast rate and setting the tray aside and swinging her legs over the side of the bed, allowing Madam Pomfrey to tap her wand along her formerly lame leg.

"You haven't been limping for a while now," she noticed, "are you having any pain?"

Hope gulped down the last of her pumpkin juice. "Nope, not for a few months, at least."

Madam Pomfrey smiled. "That's good, that's really good. The muscle atrophy has lessened since you've been using your leg again, but if you want to really get back up to speed, I would suggest some kind of exercise for your legs, running perhaps?"

Hope groaned, her shoulders slumping slightly. "I suppose I'll have to, wont I?"

Madam Pomfrey tried very hard to keep a straight face when faced with Hope's pout. Hope picked at the two rings that she always wore, smiling lightly.

"Thinking about your young man?"

Was it really possible for someone to blush that red? Madam Pomfrey couldn't help but smirk at how flustered she got.

"I do love how your mind jumped to Mr. Weasley right away," she said, humored.

Hope buried her face in her hands in an effort to hide embarrassment.

"The school year's almost over," she noted. "Are you going to say anything to him?"

Hope bit her lip slightly, a look of indecision gracing her face. "I'm brave, Poppy, but I'm not that brave."

And that time, she was being completely honest, and Madam Pomfrey had to exercise a bit of self-control to not mention the betting pool that had encompassed at least three-fourths of the school. So she simply settled for wishing Hope a good holiday, to which she had simply snorted.

She had forgotten that Hope hated summer holiday. So, she just watched as Hope left the hospital wing in much brighter spirits when she saw her friends waiting for her outside.

And for a second Hope forgot about having to return to the Dursleys and just basked in the warmth of being with her friends.

Chapter Text

Now, while Hope Potter hated summer holidays, George fervently loved them, as all Weasley children did. Summers meant freedom to them just as they meant solitude to her, but luckily, Hope received a number of letters that kept her from wallowing too much, a stark contrast from the previous summer.

Ron's letters weren't very frequent, but George's on the other hand...

"I don't think I've ever seen George so obsessed with a letter before," Bill mused to his other brothers as they all sat watching George unfold the letter that had just come in the mail for him, courtesy of a very lovely snowy owl that seemed quite affectionate towards him.

"That's because it's a letter from Hope," Fred sang, a pleased grin spreading across his face as he crowed, "Angie and I are definitely going to win the bet now!"

It was a miracle that George didn't look up at all the noise his twin was making, but he seemed very intent on the parchment in his hands.

Bill stared at his younger siblings in confusion and a bit of bemusement. It was Ron that gave him the answer.

"George kind of has this crush on Hope Potter," he said dryly, rolling his eyes, "and she kind of has a crush on him, too. They've been practically flirting for the past two years."

"Ah," he said slowly, "I see," even though he didn't.

George was fervently ignoring them, simply reading his letter.


Sounds like you're having a lot of fun with your family! Ron doesn't write as much and neither does Hermione, but I think Hedwig is liking the exercise of going back and forth between Egypt and here. Is it really hot? Is the desert all there is in Egypt? I wish I could go! Egypt is in my top two places I'd ever want to visit, Greece being the first, of course. The hieroglyphics must be really cool, well, maybe not for you, but for a crazy nut like me, paradise!

It's rather boring here, as you might expect. The Dursleys and I aren't talking (big surprise), with makes my life a hell of a lot easier. I've had to send Madam Pomfrey weekly reports of how my leg's doing, but she thinks it's almost completely healed now. Thank Zeus! On the plus side, Angie gave me my birthday present early! It's a communication mirror, so Fred better be jealous! And the both of you are going to be jealous about this: Lee, the girls, and I all went out for dinner at this Chinese restaurant that Angie and Licie are completely obsessed with, and I have to say the food was to die for!

We were thinking fondly of you two while eating our amazing food. (He could almost imagine her winking at him with a smirk)Next time you and Fred have to come!

I thought your cartouche necklace was really amazing! I forgot that Egyptians didn't use vowels, but if nothing else, at least I know what my initials are!

About that permission slip to go to Hogsmeade…I have a plan to con a signature out of Vernon…and it will be set in motion before the end of the day, and it will work, mark my words!

Anyways, have lots of fun with your brother!

Love, Hope

George's eyes widened slightly at the endearment at the end of the letter. He had never had her write 'love' as a salutation in a letter before, but then she'd never responded to any of the letters he'd sent last year because of that house-elf.

He grinned. Now he definitely couldn't wait to see her again. He creased the letter and stuffed it into his pocket, rejoining his siblings, and meanwhile, miles away, Hope Potter was following around her uncle and being a general annoyance (something that wasn't very hard to do).

Hope was not someone you wanted to cross, most people knew that quite well, but her family on the other hand, wasn't too intelligent in that aspect. So, she glared at Vernon as he shook her permission slip to get into Hogsmeade in front of her face.

"And why would I sign this bloody thing?" he demanded, spittle flying from his mouth as he scowled at her.

"Because if you don't," Hope said with a feral smile. "Then I'm not even going to try to behave when your sister comes around, and I know you'd hate that."

He glared at her but it wasn't as impressive on him as it was on her. And finally, he etched his signature onto the line and all but shoved it at her.

"One toe out of line, girl," he warned.

"Right, right," Hope said, waving a careless hand as she did so, "I'll keep that in mind."

And then she pulled open the door, and disappeared through it, tying her hair into a high ponytail and setting of at a brisk jog down the street.

The only good thing about Privet Drive was that it was private and no one liked to exercise at all. It probably wasn't a good thing for their health, but at this point, Hope really lacked the ability to care. She thought that she would find it incredibly awkward if she happened across anyone else out running, but no one ever seemed to feel the need to.

Hope exhaled loudly, breathing in and out harshly as her heart beat began to speed up. She actually found running to be pretty calming, and it gave her another one of those excuses to stay out of the house and come back stinking of sweat (she still remembered the revolted expression on Petunia's face the first time it happened; if only she had a camera to document it). And it helped that the more she ran, the more the muscles in her legs became stronger.

So Hope couldn't complain to Madam Pomfrey when she gave her her weekly report, there wasn't really any reason to, to begin with.

Still, running didn't balance out how utterly terrible her summer holidays were and she was counting down until school started once more.

George's frequent letters were perhaps some of the few things that kept her sane in her not-so-modest opinion. She had never had someone write to her so regularly. It made her a little flustered, but she would never admit to that to anyone.

Anyone would have thought that she was counting down the days until she could see George again, but, again, you would be hard-pressed to actually get her to admit to such a thing.

Marjorie Dursley was a demon, of that, Hope was entirely certain…or maybe it was the whole family (why oh why couldn't Hope just be seventeen, move out and get her own place?). Of course, "Aunt" Marge had never really liked Hope to begin with, why, Hope couldn't fathom, it wasn't as though she had done something wrong, or anything.

Or maybe the woman liked being cruel? She had once given her dog treats as some sort of present, much to Hope's disgust. Did she even look remotely like a dog?

She had something against how green her eyes were ("I mean, look at them! No normal person has eyes that colour!"), and Hope dearly wanted to say that she had inherited the colour from her mother, but she kept her mouth shut, and then she complained about her hair ("It's not even the proper ginger!"). Proper ginger, my arse, Hope thought angrily. Her hair was perfectly natural thank you very much, identical to her mother's!

And, of course, Hope was forced to make dinner for the entire week, and it was amazing thank you very much. Steak and Kidney Pie, Beef and Mustard Pie, and, on the last day, Sheppard's Pie (now that she thought about it, that was a lot of pie). Of course, Marge thanked Petunia for such a lovely dinner each night while Hope sulked, eating her small share of the food she'd made.

Hope cleared away her things and excused herself from the table once she was finished, doing her best to block out Marge's voice. And by "excusing herself" she meant standing up abruptly as going to the kitchen. She snuck a bit of the leftover Sheppard's Pie into her mouth when they weren't listening.

And then Hope froze when Marge began to talk about Hope as if she wasn't there.

"You mustn't blame yourself for the way the girl's turned out, Vernon," she said to her brother in a soothing voice. "If there's something rotten on the inside, there's nothing anyone can do about it."

Rotten? Hope seethed to herself. If you want rotten, go look in the mirror!

Oh, Hope could see where this was going…

"It's one of the basic rules of breeding," she continued, unaware of the lightning storm brewing inside of Hope at her callous words. "You see it all the time with dogs. If there's something wrong with the bitch, there'll be something wrong with the pup—"

Without meaning to, Hope caused her wineglass to shatter, caused hairline fractures on the windows, and made the plate she'd been holding cleave in two.

Did she just insinuate that there had been something wrong with her mother?!

She didn't turn around, but she could feel the glares burning into her back courtesy of Petunia and Vernon.

"Marge! Marge, are you alright?" Petunia asked.

Luckily, Marge was dismissive of her shattered glass. "Not to worry. Must have squeezed it too hard. Did the same thing at Colonel Fubster's the other day. No need to fuss, Petunia, I have a very firm grip…"

Hope gritted her teeth as she packaged the rest of the dinner, just like she was supposed to for a day of leftovers, accidentally spilling a bit of water in the process, forcing her to hike up the stairs and grab a spare towel from the closet.

She arrived back down the stairs in time to hear Marge complimenting her bulging "cousin" for being "proper-sized".

Hope resisted gagging. Proper-sized? Maybe she needed to get her eyes checked if she thought becoming obese was proper-sized and healthy-sized.

"Now this one," she said, jerking her head towards Hope with a look of disgust, "she's got runty, troublesome look about her. You get that with dogs."

Hope's eyebrow twitched. There she went again, comparing her to a dog again.

"It all comes down to the blood, as I was saying earlier. Bad blood will out. Now, I'm saying nothing against your family, Petunia, but your sister was a bad egg." The plate that had broken in two gained another crack. "They turn up in the best of families. Then she ran off with a wastrel and here's the result right in front of us."

Wastrel?! What gave her the right to call her father wasteful and good-for-nothing?! The nerve! Marge's words were stabbing into her like white-hot pokers.

"This Potter," she said, glancing slyly at Hope as if keen to see how long she was going to remain in control of her emotions, "you never told me what he did?"

The dinner small talk wasn't going in the direction that Petunia and Vernon had hoped, if the nervous looks on their faces were any indicator.

"He –didn't work," Vernon said after hesitating a half-second. "Unemployed."

Hope could feel her rage bubbling. Her parents were in hiding! Of course they couldn't work!

"As I expected!" Marge sounded almost positively gleeful that she had some grounds to insult Hope's parents now. "A no-account, good-for-nothing, lazy—"

"Why don't you keep your fat mouth shut?" she said finally in a low and dangerous voice.

"What did you just say to me?" Marge blustered.

Hope gripped the counter so hard that she was sure that she could feel her tendons popping, her eyes darkening rather noticeably.

"I said," she seethed, "keep your fat mouth shut about my parents. They're far better than you could ever hope to be and they're dead. There wasn't anything wrong with them, maybe there is just something wrong with you, you fat old bat!"

Marge mouthed wordlessly at Hope, apparently completely stunned at being spoken to the way she had, but then she started to expand, much to Hope's surprise, until she was a balloon-shaped thing (or was that generally how she looked?) that was floating up to the ceiling.

"MARGE!" Vernon screamed as Hope made her escape, darting upstairs.

Sirius Black couldn't really help himself. He couldn't resist making a detour to the muggle neighbourhood of Privet Drive. Just a glimpse of his goddaughter would be enough…or would it? And it seemed luck was on his side tonight.

A door slammed open with a loud crack and a small figure strode out of it, a bird cage tucked under her arm, dragging a heavy trunk behind her…and was that a woman shaped like a balloon?

Her face was shrouded by darkness until she came under the lamppost, intent on the park bench that was just a few feet in front of the bush behind which Sirius was hiding in, and then Sirius' heart began to beat rather rapidly, even as he was in his dog form.

Her face was Lily's face. The hair, the eyes, the cheekbones…that was all her mother, Sirius noted with a forlorn whine as she withdrew a small compact mirror, causing her head to shoot up and her hand to tense over her wand, but she didn't see him, so she relaxed.

"Angelina Johnson," she said clearly.

"Hey, Hope!" a female voice answered her before becoming a bit confused. "What's wrong?"

"It's nothing," Hope said quickly, "I just had a question about that bus you told me about…the Kn—"

"The Knight Bus," the second voice finished for her, "yeah, you just hold out your wand and it'll take you wherever you want to go." The voice grew suspicious. "You're not in any trouble are you?"

"No, I'm fine," Hope disagreed. "See you when term starts, Angie."

"Al—" but Hope had shut the compact and shoved it into her pants, raking a hand through her long hair.

"Okay, I know you're there," she called out into the darkness, "you can come out now."

Sirius balked slightly and then terror overwhelmed his senses. What should he do? Should he come out or stay hidden? But then he took a step slowly forward and came out of the shadow so that she could see him.

The dog made "drowned" seem like an understatement as it approached her, whining softly. Its ratty fur was pitch black and sticking up every which way and its eyes seemed to glow with an inner madness.

"C'mere," she crooned softly, holding out a gentle hand and wearing a smile. She scratched behind his ears, making him lean into her hand. Her eyes were drawn to his side and she winced at how obvious the ribs were protruding slightly under his coat.

She gave him a tight smile. "You must be very handsome when you have a bit of meat on your bones," she said, stroking the fur that covered his head.

Sirius wagged his tail and licked her hand, making her laugh aloud. She pressed a sound kiss to the top of his muzzle, but had to blink in surprise because the next second the dog had completely vanished. She scratched her cheek in slight confusion; there had been a dog there, hadn't there been? She was pretty sure… and then she saw why it had bolted.

Hope blinked owlishly at the purple double-decker bus that came to a stop right in front of her (she hadn't even realized she'd pointed her wand towards the road…oops). So this was the Knight Bus, was it? Not entirely what she was expecting.

A young man with enough pimples to make constellations on his face stepped down, speaking loudly to the night rather than to Hope.

"Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board, and we can take you anywhere you want to go. My name is Stan Shunpike, and I will be your conductor this evening!"

Hope raised an eyebrow as he finished, sounding very much like he'd swallowed a script. But that action made her scar shift upwards on her forehead, bringing a bit of it into the light and making Stan's eyes jump to it.

"Woss that on your 'ead?" he asked her.

Hope ran a hand over her fringe, making certain that her scar couldn't be seen. "It's nothing," she said quickly.

"Woss your name?" Stan asked suspiciously.

"Hermione Granger," Hope said, thinking of the first girl that came to mind, even though she could have possibly said Ginny Weasley and be taken seriously with that red hair of hers. "Can this bus go to London?"

"Fo' eleven sickles," Stan said, bobbing his head up and down, "but fo' firteen you get 'ot chocolate, and fo' fifteen you get an 'ot water bottle an' a toofbrush in the color o' your choice."

She tossed him a galleon. "Just to the Leaky Cauldron, keep the change."

Stan grinned toothily as the pair of them managed to haul her rather heavy trunk into the landing of the bus. It was a bit strange on the bus, Hope had to admit, mostly because she had never seen a bus with beds in the place of seats, but then, this was a Wizarding bus, so maybe it was different.

"You 'ave this one," he told her, shoving the trunk under the bed that was directly behind the driver. "This is our driver Ernie Prang."

Hope had the overwhelming feeling as though she was looking at some kind of insect, but then she realized that he was just wearing large and thick glasses that made his eyes seem larger than normal and bulbous.

"Take 'er away, Ern."

Hope yelped aloud as the bus accelerated suddenly, making her fall back onto her bed due the sharpness of the lurch in speed. She clamped her hands down on the bedposts to keep from flying off, and gazing out of the window in slight awe at how fast the streets and cars and people were passing them by, or was it the other way around?

Then she looked back to Stan, her attention drawn to the Daily Prophet he was reading. The figure photographed on the front of it was someone that she had seen before. She'd seen those same dark, endless eyes, that same thin, stretched face on the telly. An escaped convict or something, wasn't it? Was he a Muggle or a wizard, then, if he was on muggle television and on the wizard newspaper.

"That man," she said, nodding to the photo, "who is he?"

"'oo is 'e?" Stan asked, completely startled. "'oo is—? That's Sirius Black, that is. Don't tell me you've never been hearin' of any Sirius Black?"

"No, never," Hope said, eyeing the paper curiously, though, now that she did think about it, the name did sound slightly familiar, though from where Hope couldn't be certain.

"'E's a murderer," Stan said, gleeful to be the bringer of morbid news. "Got himself locked up in Azkaban for it."

"Azkaban?" Hope said in confusion. That name did sound familiar…was that the place Hagrid had been sent to, the one he was terrified of? "The prison? How did he escape the prison?"

Stan's eyes widened dramatically and Hope wondered if he was pulling her leg for all this. "That's the question, innit? He's the first one that done it!" His voice dropped. "He was a big supporter of You-Know-Who. I reckon you've 'eard of him."

Well, Hope couldn't disagree with him there.

Hope didn't trust Minister Fudge from the second she saw him last year from underneath her invisibility cloak with Ron, and she certainly didn't trust him this year. That pseudo-fatherly smile of hers seriously freaked her out, and she was seriously regretting agreeing to not stray back into Muggle London, because it was pretty awesome…though she supposed she could always raid Flourish and Blotts for new material.

Hope thumbed through the letter from Hogwarts that listed the new book requirements for the year as she walked down the street, only half paying attention to where she was going, at least until she heard someone calling her name. She looked up, twisting around slightly until she caught sight of the pale and dark face paired together.

"Dean, Seamus!"

She grinned as she skipped over to them, giving the pair a quick hug, because she was friends with them, even if they were just casual friends.

"Had a good summer?" Seamus asked with an impish grin, his Irish accent lilting his voice, as usual.

"Absolutely," Hope said with more than a touch of sarcasm. "What about you two? I guess you went between each other's houses?" You'd be hard pressed to find any other two friends tighter than Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan. The answering grins told her that her guess was true.

"Did you really blow up your aunt?" Seamus asked excitedly.

Hope's cheeks burned in embarrassment. "Has everyone heard about that?"

"Probably," Dean mused aloud, "you know, Rumour Grapevine and everything."

Hope groaned audibly. "Oh, Hades."

"So, anyways," Dean added as Hope attempted to hide her burning face in her hands, "you're going to get your books, right? We'll come with!"

"Er…okay," Hope said, a little flummoxed as they entered Flourish and Blotts.

Seamus and Dean were a little startled at the appearance of the Monster Book of Monsters, and Hope was eternally grateful that Hagrid had sent it to her as a birthday present (though why she had yet to understand).

"I need Rune Translation and Unfogging the Future," Hope said when the griping man finally managed to free two books from the cage. He grunted, bobbing his head as he lumbered off to find the two books she needed.

"You're taking Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, and Ancient Runes?" Seamus asked incredulously. "What is wrong with you?"

Hope's nose twitched with irritation. "I'm just fascinated with…stuff…" her words trailed off as her eyes fell to a different book, on which a great black dog was depicted. That very dog was identical to the one she had seen on Privet Drive.

Death Omens –What to Do When You Know the Worst Is Coming. Death omens? She couldn't help but swallow nervously…but death omens weren't real, were they?

Chapter Text

Okay, now Hope had just about convinced herself that death omens couldn't possibly real. People didn't just die for no reason, there was always a cause of death…wasn't there? She exhaled loudly in her silent room late that night. She didn't survive an attack from Voldemort himself, three times in a row (as she was counting him as Tom Riddle), and the venom of a basilisk to be scared to death by a black dog that could have been a stray and clearly needed a few good meals. That would just be stupid. Just because she saw a damned dog didn't mean that it was real…it was late and she had been running on adrenaline.

She groaned loudly, smacking her face in her hands before finally pulling herself from the bed and into the shower.

The bad thing about rooming at the Leaky Cauldron was that you got a lot of stares if you were Hope Lily Potter, and that wasn't necessarily a good thing. Every morning she'd eat her breakfast at the bar with her back firmly facing the opposite direction, though that didn't stop her from hearing the ever-present whispers that followed her everywhere she went. It was really quite annoying, but Hope couldn't stop them from doing it (and if she changed her looks too much then she'd get even more attention).

So she kept her head down as she pulled out her roughly carved wand and tapped the third brick on the left above the trash bin, stepping back as the barrier melted away to reveal Diagon Alley. The first time she'd seen it had been amazing and she'd been in complete awe, but every time she had done it since then, the awe had worn off and was now starting to become a bit boring.

She strolled down the street with her long hair plaited into a loose ponytail that was flung over one shoulder, her fringe long enough that it could hide the scar with ease. She tried to ignore the glistening beautiful broom mounted on a podium, but it was really distracting. Its shaft was shining and its tail bristles were sleek and unmarred by many gusts of wind. Hope had seen very few things as beautiful, and that was saying something.

She sighed forlornly as she passed it by, returning to Flourish and Blotts once more to skim the shelves for something good to read. She tapped her finger gently across each of the thick spines with varying heavy lettering, finally coming to a stop at a tome labelled: The Duelling Arts: Book One.

Duelling…hm, that could be potentially interesting, and she could probably get Ron and Hermione interested (Hermione for the bookish part and Ron for the action-y part). So, really, it was the perfect book, and it wasn't too expensive. She mentally debated for a few seconds before grabbing it and the book next to it, A History of Duelling.

Obviously she had her topic for the year picked out.

The owner was rather pleased by her return, but that was probably a mixture of making money and not having to remove one of those Monster Book of Monsters from that cage in the centre of the shop that shook and rattled violently, and he waved her off with a toothy grin as she swung the bag the books had been placed in on her wrist.

Hope paused outside of the door to the shop and pulled out the roughly tied ponytail, before hiking it high up on her head, allowing her scar to be more obvious. It was too nice for her to not wear her hair up for fear of recognition, it was pointless to hide now; she had a very distinctive face. Then she sighed and began making her way smoothly down the street, despite how packed it was.

She saw a number of her friends as she did so, including poor Neville who had lost his supply list and gave her a beyond grateful look when she gave him hers ("Just ignore the Ancient Runes books," she said), and Katie arguing with Oliver as they walked together, their hands interlocked (Katie had blushed when Hope winked at her), she gave a few waves to some of her casual friends as she made her way back into the Leaky Cauldron and up to her room, but there was someone waiting outside her room.

George Weasley hadn't been standing there long enough to lose his nerve, but enough to question it. However, none of his indecision showed on his face as he turned to see her.

Hope's lips curled upwards into a bright smile when she saw him, bolstering George's confidence enough to make him make up his mind.

He was taller than the last time she'd seen him, and his time in the Egyptian sun seemed to have made even more freckles appear on his skin. His eyes seemed brighter, or maybe that was just her, and his hair was longer. She could feel her heart beating faster at the sight of him, because he looked utterly gorgeous.

"George!" she said, her voice holding obvious surprise, but also obvious pleasure. "I wasn't sure if you and your family would be back yet!"

George grinned slightly, loping over to her, noticing how much she had grown. Her hair was longer and now tied in a high ponytail (he noticed that the scar was rather obvious now…or maybe that was an accident), her cheekbones were sharper and her face thinner, hollowed out slightly from the baby fat that had finally left her.

"Well," he said, realizing that he'd just been staring at her and not saying anything, "term does start tomorrow."

Hope, who had begun to smirk when he had silently been ogling her, rolled her eyes, placing her hands on her hips and canting her head slightly to the side, arching an eyebrow. It was the "Oh, really?" look that he was so very used to by now.

"I had no idea," she said in amusement.

"Then perhaps another trip to the hospital wing is in order," George said in a mild voice.

"Oh, shut up," she laughed, dropping her bag to the floor in order to throw her arms around his wide shoulders and hug him tightly. The feel of his arms around her back filled her stomach with butterflies, but she ignored them, pulling away from him enough that they were standing inches apart.

"But," Hope pondered, "I must be crazy to put up with you for so long, Weasley."

"Oh, you must be?" George asked amused, his fingers twitching to interlock with hers, but he restrained himself.

"Yes, I—"

However, Hope never finished her thought, because at that very moment the dam had burst and George had cupped her cheek and leaned down to press his lips against hers. She couldn't help the small sound of startled surprise that escaped her mouth, nor could she help the heavy flush to her cheeks and the increased beat of her heart.

Hope had never been kissed before, much less by one of the school's troublemakers. His lips were soft, but firm, moulding perfectly to her lips and making the butterflies that had already been in her stomach begin to flutter wildly as if attempting to escape. The kiss wasn't gentle, but at the same time, she didn't think she'd ever expected it to be. The kiss wasn't harsh, because it wasn't like having your lips pressed to a rock. It was the perfect in between that Hope couldn't quite describe. It made her feel…well, she couldn't quite describe that, either.

George could feel her lips curling under his as she reached up to rake her hands through his hair and finally kiss him back, filling him with so much relief that his shoulders actually sagged slightly, his lips breaking from hers, causing her blink owlishly at him, her lips tingling from the kiss.

"Well," she said dryly, her voice a few octaves higher than she intended before she cleared her throat, righting it once more, "it seems you have the perfect way to shut me up."

That made George grin widely, because he had been kind of worried about how she would respond to such a bold action. "On the plus side," he said, "you have a way to shut me up, too."

She sniggered, her hands dropping from his hair to hang from the sides of his jacket.

"So…Hogsmeade weekend?" George asked. "You and me?"

"Why, Mister Weasley," Hope said pseudo-coyly, "are you asking me on a date?"

"Why, Miss Potter," George said in a falsely solemn voice, "I do believe I am."

"I…er, think I'd like that," Hope said quietly, her deep blush returning as she tucked a bit of her longer fringe behind her ear, "I'd really like that."

He grinned brightly and kissed her soundly again, leaving her breathless and blushing like the setting sun.

"Oh, yeah," he said, suddenly remembering something, "Ron and Hermione went looking for you…"

"They did?" Hope's face brightened further at the mention of her best friends. "I'll go find them. See you at dinner!"

She pressed a chaste kiss to his cheek before bounding off towards the stairs and down into the busy street once more, searching for her friends, leaving a bemused George behind.

They weren't as hard to find as one would have thought, sitting at a table in front of Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour.

Hermione's face, brown from her time in France, brightened when she saw her, a beaming smile morphing onto her lips. "Hope!"

Hope gave the pair of them a jaunty wave. "Hello, nice summer?"

The three of them shared a laugh.

"We were out looking for you for awhile, but you weren't at Madam Malkin's, the Apothecary, Eeylops, or even Flourish and Blotts, we thought you'd at least be there."

"Sorry," Hope said, rubbing the back of her head slightly as heat flooded her cheeks, her head still on that mind blowing came that she had received only a few minutes previously.

"So, I'm guessing George snogged you," Ron said in blunt observation, "otherwise I couldn't imagine what would embarrass you so much."

Hermione gave a gasp and a smile, clapping her hands together. "Oh, did he?!"

"I didn't really think George would do it," Ron admitted, "it seems like more of Fred thing than a George thing, but maybe he thought you'd say no to a date."

Hope blinked, the blush still prevalent on her face. "Because it's not like we haven't been flirting for two years, or anything."

Ron shrugged his shoulders. "You know George; he's confident about everything until he's left time to brood about it." He eyes Hope speculatively. "Actually, that sounds a little like you too."

Hope gave him a scowl, making her two friends share a laugh at her expense before leaving to finish their business in Diagon Alley.

Hope liked Crookshanks, even if Ron didn't; the cat had a lot of personality. He wasn't very pretty, true, but he was very intelligent. Ron, however, was holding a personal grudge against him for attacking his rat, Scabbers, when he was trying to buy some rat tonic for him.

"He needs rest and relaxation!" Ron was complaining to Hermione who was fervently ignoring him as Hope scratched behind her cat's ear as they walked, earning her a purr of contentment. "How's he going to get it with that thing around?"

Crookshanks gave a cranky meow at his words, making Hermione and Hope grin.

"Oh, stop worrying," Hermione snapped, "Crookshanks will be in Hope and my dorm, and Scabbers will be in yours."

However, Hope couldn't help but think, that wouldn't stop the cat from leaving their dorm to go into Ron's in search of dinner, but she didn't say that; why poke the dragon in the eye when it was already awake?

"Poor Crookshanks," Hermione cooed, stroking the cat's ginger fur, "that witch said he'd been in there for ages; no one wanted him."

"Aw…" Hope said in sympathy at the same time Ron said "I wonder why" with heavy sarcasm, earning a glare from both girls as they re-entered the Leaky Cauldron. The pub and inn was pretty packed, as it should be because everyone was doing last minute shopping and they had to go through the Leaky Cauldron to get to Diagon Alley, but it seemed that Mr. Weasley had managed to snag an empty chair and was reading the Daily Prophet with surprising intensity.

And then he looked up and saw Ron and Hermione with the girl he was most concerned about. Hope seemed blissfully unaware of the worries that plagued his mind and the minds of every witch and wizard in Britain, and that ever present worry had a name: Sirius Black.

Hope had no way of knowing just what horrible things that her father's old friend had done, and he hoped it would stay that way. If she knew, Mr. Weasley was certain that she'd stop at nothing to hunt him down and demand the answers from the mass murderer herself, even if it meant throwing herself right in the way of death and danger. Stubborn to a fault was a way that George had described her, and he wasn't wrong, just as Ron had described her as the most loyal Gryffindor you could ever find (though Mr. Weasley was certain that Hope would claim the same of his son). To meet someone who was the complete opposite of what you were…Mr. Weasley was almost certain that it wouldn't end pretty, which was why she needed to be aware of what Black was capable of…just maybe not told all of the story.

He forced a smile onto his face as he met Hope's bright green eyes. "Hope! How are you?"

Surprise flitted across her face; perhaps his smile wasn't as much of a smile that he had been going for. "Fine," Hope said, her eyes shifting to the photo on the front page as she, Ron, and Hermione joined him at the table. "Have they not caught him yet? How long has he been out?"

"Three weeks," Mr. Weasley said solemnly, "and they still haven't caught him. They've pulled us off all our regular jobs at the Ministry to try and find him, but no luck so far."

"Well, that's not very smart," Hermione said, before blushing slightly when the attention was turned on her.

"I think Hermione means," Hope continued for her friend, "that how is someone like you, who disenchants muggle artefacts daily, not to be rude or anything, going to be expected to hunt down a killer, something you weren't trained to do?"

Hermione nodded in agreement. "Wouldn't that affect your salary, the salary of everyone working at the Ministry?"

"We are getting a bit of backlog," Mr. Weasley admitted, smiling at the pair, "but we are getting paid to at least try, so that's something, but most of us will be back to our normal jobs by the end of the week, so that'll be a relief."

"So, who's going to be in charge of catching Black, then?" Ron couldn't help but ask.

"The Azkaban guards, I don't doubt."

The four were interrupted rather suddenly by the appearance Mrs. Weasley, Fred and George, Percy, and Ginny. The amount of red hair always made Hope have to blink her eyes a few times to adjust and debate about changing her colour, but she liked the dark red too much.

"Hello, Hope, dear," Mrs. Weasley said kindly, giving her a tight hug. "How was your holiday?"

Hope struggled to not laugh, the exertion making patching of pink appear on her cheekbones as her eyes twinkled like the stars. "Er…it was alright."

Fred and George sniggered behind their mother's back, earning a light glare from the Potter.

"Hope," Percy said, his voice as serious as ever as he extended a courtly hand for a shake. "How nice to see you."

"Hello, Percy," Hope said, struggling now to not burst into laughter, only to have it leak out into her voice.

"I hope you are well?" Percy continued.

Hope would have thought that he was pulling for a laugh, but she knew how Percy could be, and serious (as well as pompous) was a great word to use to describe the recently named Head Boy. "Er…very well—"

"Hope!" Fred cried, pushing his older brother none-too-gently from the green-eyed girl and giving her a deep bow at the waist. Hope was impressed that he hadn't fallen over. "Simply splendid to see you old girl—"

"Marvellous!" George said, shaking Hope's hand fervently with a grin at the faintly amused look on her face. "Absolutely spiffing!"

She arched an eyebrow even as their mother said, "That's enough, now."

"Mum!" Fred cried, turning on his mother and, acting as though they hadn't spoken in months, wrung her hand. "How really corking to see you—"

Hope smacked a hand against her forehead and groaned. "You two are really too much." She gave a serious stare to Mrs. Weasley. "Mrs. Weasley I'm still not quite sure how you're still alive after living with them for so long."

The pair sniggered again, waggling their eyebrows suggestively.

"Don't make me kill you," she threatened them mildly.

George's eyes twinkled. "You won't kill me, I'm entirely too good a kisser."

Mrs. Weasley shared a look of surprise mixed with amusement with her husband, whose eyes glimmered and lips twitched. Hope's face turned a beet red. "Now who said anything about you being a good kisser?"

"Who indeed?" Fred mused to his brother. "It must have been when she agreed to that date?"

"And because I agree to a date that automatically makes him a good kisser?" Hope asked, crossing her arms as the rest watched them like Hope and the twins were some sort of live reality show.

"Well, yeah," they both said, "that's pretty much how it goes."

She rolled her eyes in disdain, her cheeks now only a faint pink. "I give up on you two."

"Probably the best bet," George agreed, looping an arm over her shoulders and kissing her cheek.

Hope glared, pink-cheeked as they all laughed.

"Hope? It's me, can I come in?"

Hope looked up from the duelling history book that she had been reading at Hermione's voice at the door. She marked her place and crossed the room to wrench the door open to find Hermione outside, already dressed in her pyjamas.

"I wasn't interrupting you, was I?" Hermione asked hopefully, noticing that her friend was wearing her pair of reading glasses perched on the bridge of her nose.

"No," Hope assured her, "I've already finished packing most of my things; I was just reading. Come on in."

Hermione stepped through the threshold to sit on the edge of Hope's bed before she had even shut the door. Hope sat down next to her, crisscrossing her lags on the mattress. "So, what did you want to talk about?"

"It's about the classes I'm taking—"

"Too many," Hope added, "I'll probably drop one by the end of the year, but I think you're trying to do too much."

Hermione's face fell slightly. "I just really want—"

"I know, but you might end up making yourself sick," Hope added. "If you want to take all the classes, that's fine, but I don't really think it's very healthy for you to take so many. Remember how hard I had to work first year to get up to date after that broom accident?"

Hermione winced slightly. The amount of work had resulted in Hope having several sleepless nights, but she had made it up eventually.

"I think," she said slowly, "that I'll make a decision at the end of the year, that way I'll know which classes I want to stay in and which I want to leave."

Hope shrugged. "If that's what you want."

Hermione smiled at how understanding Hope could be in regards to Hermione's studiousness.

"Thanks, Hope," she said in relief, "for listening."

"No problem," Hope said as they both winced at the yells coming from the room next door. "Why don't you go to bed, and I'll figure out what the bloody hell they're doing."

"Thanks," Hermione said in relief. She had been contemplating going to yell at them herself, but she was already in her bed clothes, and she was certain that she would feel awkward about them seeing her like that.

Hope scowled as she looked in on the room that had been torn apart by Ron and Percy, the latter who was still yelling at his youngest brother.

"What are the two of you going on about?" she demanded. "Some of us are trying to get some sleep around here!"

"My Head Boy badge is gone," Percy said, his blazing face turning to Hope who had to resist the urge to roll her eyes and sigh.

"So's Scabbers' rat tonic," Ron noticed, checking under the bed and in his trunk. "I think I might've left it in the bar—"

"You're not going anywhere until you've found my badge!" Percy snapped.

This time Hope really did sigh, and then the dam burst.

"Shut up!" she snarled, making both of their jaws snap shut. "If you want to argue, argue quietly! Ron, I'll check the bar for Scabbers' stuff, alright?" And without asking his opinion on the matter, she strode down the hall and made it down the stairs and halfway to the parlour when she heard a pair of voices arguing. It was Mrs. Weasley and Mr. Weasley. Now, Hope could eavesdrop when she wanted to, but when the parents of your friend were fighting, you tended to look the other way, however, the moment her name was spoken, the resolve to leave it alone vanished and she leaned in close.

"It makes no sense not to tell her," Mr. Weasley whispered testily, his voice only echoing slightly in the darkness. "Hope has the right to know. I've tried to tell Fudge, but he insists on treating Hope like a child. She's thirteen years old and—"

"Arthur, the truth would terrify her!" Mrs. Weasley hissed back, making Hope frown slightly. "Do you really want to send Hope back to school with that hanging over her? For heaven's sake, she's happy not knowing!"

"I don't want to make her miserable," Mr. Weasley refuted, "I want to put her on her guard! You know what sort of trouble those three get into! Hope's ended up in the Forbidden Forest twice already, and Ron once! But Hope mustn't do that this year! When I think what could have happened to her that night she ran away from home! If the Knight Bus hadn't picked her up, I'm prepared to bet that she would have been dead before the Ministry found her."

Hope swallowed thickly, breathing in sharply. This couldn't have anything to do with that escaped convict, could it?

"But she's not dead," Mrs. Weasley insisted, "she's fine, she's better than fine, so what's the point—"

"Molly." It sounded like Mr. Weasley was straining to remain calm with his wife. "They say Sirius Black's mad, and maybe he is, but he was clever enough to escape Azkaban, and that's supposed to be impossible. It's been three weeks, and no one's seen hide nor hair of him, and I don't care what Fudge keeps telling the Daily Prophet, we're no nearer catching Black than we are inventing self-spelling wands. The only thing we know for sure is what Black's after—"

"But Hope will be perfectly safe at Hogwarts."

Hope's heart fell straight down into her stomach. What?

"We thought Azkaban was perfectly safe," Mr. Weasley said bitterly. "If Black can break out of Azkaban, he can break into Hogwarts."

"But no one's really sure that Black's after Hope—"

Hope flinched back slightly both from the words and from the echoing sound of a fist colliding with wood.

"Molly," he said, his voice even more carefully controlled than before, "how many times do I have to tell you? They didn't report it in the press because Fudge wanted it kept quiet, but Fudge went out to Azkaban the night Black escaped. The guards told Fudge that Black's been talking in his sleep for awhile now. Always the same two words: 'At Hogwarts.' Black is deranged, Molly, and he wants Hope dead. If you ask me, he thinks murdering Hope will bring You-Know-Who back to power. Black lost everything the night Hope stopped You-Know-Who, and he's had twelve years alone in Azkaban to brood on that."

Hope took a step back, a hand clamped onto her mouth as she felt bile rising in her throat. Sirius Black wanted her dead? She gulped with difficulty as her heart beat frantically against her ribcage, quite different from the way it had when George had kissed her earlier that day.

Now those death omens were starting to make sense.

Chapter Text

"Black is deranged, Molly, and he wants Hope dead."

Those words rang in Hope's ears well into the night. Hope couldn't have imagined someone hating her so much that they would want her dead, well, if you excluded Voldemort, that is. But Voldemort was an entirely different matter, if you asked Hope; the only thing he seemed to want was her dead.

Hope slept restlessly that night and awoke far too early in her opinion, but she couldn't find a way to go back to sleep so she forced herself awake and into a refreshing shower to smooth the tension from her muscles. She rung her hair out with a bit more ferocity than she probably should have, ripping a few hairs from her head by mistake, much to her grumbled annoyance as she braided the dark red locks in a flurry of fingers.

Sirius Black…just who was he?

Unconsciously she raised a hand to brush against the upraised scar, feeling the roughness under her hand that she had long since memorized and then she sighed, picking up the small number of books that she had scattered about the room and wrenching open the lid of her trunk, earning her a squawk of indignation from where Hedwig was perching on top of her cage.

"Sorry, Hedwig," Hope apologized quickly, giving her owl the barest of smiles as she reached over to stroke her pure white feathers lightly, ignoring how Hedwig nipped lightly at her fingers. "I'm just…scatter-brained, I suppose."

Hedwig hooted in understanding, nudging the side of her face slightly into Hope's hand. Hope glanced out the window and frowned. Diagon Alley was still dark and the sun hadn't yet begun to rise. She sighed audibly.

"Great…I need to start waking up and going to bed like a normal person," she grumbled under her breath as she checked the expanded sections of her trunk, thanking the heavens for the thousandth time that she had a magical trunk as opposed to a normal one; she would have never fit all of her things inside if it was normal.

She almost closed the lid of her trunk when she caught sight of a familiar red binding. She rested her hand against it before pulling it out without a second thought, flipping it open to a random page. As sad as it was, Hope hadn't really looked much through the album Hagrid had given her. True she had never had any pictures of them, but sometimes looking at them made her sad. What would they have done different? Would they have liked how her life had gone, thus far? Or would they have reprimanded her?

She shook her head, a surprised laugh escaping her lips. From what she'd heard, James would congratulate her on getting into trouble so often while her mother would scold her. At least, that's how she thought it would it would be.

She gaze dropped to the first picture she saw. It was of four boys, all with beaming smiles and their arms thrown over each other's shoulders. She recognized her father, of course, the description left it impossible to be anyone else with that messy hair and that troublemaker smile. The boy on the right was equally as handsome with dark hair that fell to his shoulders and silver eyes; she couldn't help but notice that his smile was more on the roguish side than her father's. The boy to her father's left was obviously the Hermione of the group. She knew her father was intelligent, of course, but this boy actually looked the part. His book bag was strung on his shoulder, filled with heavy books if Hope was seeing that correctly, making his tired face make more sense, but not his scars or his greying hair. And the last boy, he seemed a bit far from the norm compared to them. He was chubby and had nowhere near their good looks.

She frowned slightly, he didn't fit at all. That wasn't to say that he couldn't have been friends with her father because of his appearance, only that it was clear that the other three boys were superior in some way. But maybe he had something that made up for it…oh, she wouldn't know.

She flipped to a few pages later, to her parents' wedding day. Lily's smile could have outshone the sun and James' eyes were alight with happiness. She lifted a finger to trace over curve of James' smile and the almond shape of her mother's eye. She couldn't help but wonder how long their happiness would last after this picture, before they had to go into hiding.

She sighed again, flipping the album closed and replacing it inside her trunk, along with Hedwig's empty cage.

"Do you want to go ahead and fly to Hogwarts?" she asked the snowy owl, who was highly intelligent, in case you forgot. "I think you'll prefer that to being stuck in your cage all day on the Hogwarts Express."

Hedwig hooted in agreement, nipping her fingers again in affection before soaring out of the open window.

The room felt a bit empty without her animal companion (as Hope refused to call her her pet, because Hedwig was too amazing for that), and so Hope decided at long last to simply drag her trunk down the stairs, as the sun had finally begun to rise on the new day.

"Some eggs and sausage for me, Tom," she called into the kitchen as she pulled her trunk up beside one of the tables and plunked down into one of the open seats.

"You've got it, Hope," the man called from within as she picked up a stray Daily Prophet from the table; it must have just come, seeing as it was that day's date in the corner. Sirius Black's face glared at her from the front page, just as it had since she had come to the Leaky Cauldron, but it may have been longer, he had been out for three weeks.

new leads…vanished without a trace…Muggles have been told that Black is carrying a gun…murdered thirteen people with a single curse…

They seemed to be rerunning the same article every day with very slight differences. She forced herself to not roll her eyes at the person in charge of the Daily Prophet, thanking Tom politely as he slid the food in front of her, taking the bit of silver that she forked over with a grin before returning to his duties of cleaning of tables and pulling chairs off from the top of those tables.

"Hope, what are you doing up so early?" She looked up and into Mr. Weasley's familiar blue eyes which were coloured in surprise.

Hope gave a noncommittal grunt, swallowing a bit of her eggs as she did so. Then she shrugged. "When I'm up, I'm up," she said without too much concern to the few hours that she could have slept in. "That's usually how it works, ask anyone in Gryffindor Tower." She stabbed a sausage and placed it in her mouth, chewing it ruthlessly before swallowing and looking up and at Mr. Weasley again. This time he had a look of contemplation instead. "Mr. Weasley, is something wrong?" Could he be thinking about telling her about what he and his wife had been yelling about the previous night?

"Hope," he said finally, "there is something I need to talk to you about." He glanced around to check and see if anyone was close enough to overhear them, but he didn't see anyone.

"Oh, it's alright, Mr. Weasley," Hope assured him as she pushed her empty plate aside. "I already know about it."

This information seemed to stun the man who gaped uncomprehending at her. "You know? How could you know?"

A bit brazenly, Hope admitted, "I heard you and Mrs. Weasley arguing about it last night." Then, adding as afterthought, she said, "Sorry."

He didn't seem as concerned about her overhearing his argument with his wife, more of how she had heard what he had said. "That's not the way I'd have chosen for you to find out," he said, his fingers twitching in nervousness.

"It's fine," Hope said, rolling her eyes. Honestly, why were adults so dead set against children knowing anything? It was really annoying. "Just think of it like this, this way I know what's going on and you haven't broken your word to Fudge."

"Hope," he said, a bit stunned by the lack of fear her green eyes held, but that was to be expected after all, this was Hope, "aren't you scared?"

"No," Hope said, arching an eyebrow slightly, "well, I do want to know why a madman would be after me and all, but really, when you think about it, Sirius Black can't be worse than Voldemort, can he?"

She waited patiently as he gave the typical flinch to the name of the Dark Lord responsible for so much death in the First Wizarding War. Come on, it was just a name!

"Hope," he said choosing his words carefully, "I knew you were made of stronger stuff than Fudge seems to think, and I'm obviously pleased that you're not scared…" he cut himself off looking more tired and older than Hope had ever seen him look.

Hope's lips curled downwards slightly. "Maybe I'm just ordinary," she said in disregard, "maybe I'm just foolish."

The smile he gave her told her that he didn't believe that for a second. And then it faded as quickly as it came. "Hope, I want you to give me your word—"

"That I won't get into trouble?" Hope asked incredulously. "Well, that's not going to happen if George and I keep hanging out." Her cheeks flushed slightly as she said the last part and she found herself looking everywhere but at the boy in question's father.

His lips twitched slightly at the mention of one of his sons that went hand in hand with trouble, but then he frowned seriously at her. "I want you to promise that you won't go looking for Black."

Hope goggled at him, her eyes flickering hazel for a second, making her look a bit more like a mesh of her parents than just taking after her mother. "Excuse me?" she asked, completely stunned. "Why would I go looking for him? You're the one who said he wants me dead!"

"Yes," Mr. Weasley agreed, wincing slightly; she must have heard the whole conversation, "but there are things you might hear-just—" But whatever else he had intended to say was cut off rather suddenly by the thundering of footsteps as the other occupants of the inn slowly awoke and made their way downstairs.

Hope's eyes were drawn back to the photo of Sirius Black and she found herself drinking in his appearance more than she should have. That ratty hair reminded her a bit of that great black dog that she'd seen in Surrey before she had come here, and those eyes…there were so haunted. But she shouldn't sympathize, she reminded herself, this was a man that had killed thirteen people with a single curse, a man that followed Voldemort. He deserved to be that way, she thought viciously.

George found her hand under the table as the rest of his family and Hermione spoke animatedly. She blushed at the contact, looking up from the newspaper and into his eyes.

"Are you alright?" he mouthed silently to her, concern furrowing his eyebrows.

Her smile didn't quite reach her eyes, but at least she didn't look quite as ready to kill something as she had a few moments previously.

She gave him a jerky nod and squeezed his fingers lightly before turning her attention once more to the newspaper as she opened it with difficulty, using only one hand, and continued to read with her fingers interlocked with his for the duration of the breakfast.

She still didn't agree with what Mr. Weasley had said about her. She wasn't made of tougher stuff, at least, that was what she thought.

Remus Lupin's consciousness wavered at the sound of the compartment door sliding open and the sound of three voices arguing slightly as they stowed their trunks.

"You could have gone and sat with George, you know," the first female voice said, "we wouldn't have minded."

"Nah," said the second female voice, scoffing lightly, much like James could be when he spoke, "I asked him if he would mind that I just spent the ride with you lot, he didn't, so here I am."

There was a third gagging noise to which Hope, it must have been Hope, snapped, "Oh, shut up Ron!"

Hope's eyes turned towards the slumbering older man that was hunched in the corner against the window. "Who's that?" she asked, taking in his greying brown hair and the scars across his face. Her eyes narrowed slightly.

"There was a man 'ere to see you," the nurse said as she tucked the covers in around the child who had barely awoken from her coma.

"A man?" Hope asked blankly. "Who?"

"Not quite sure," the woman said with a shrug, "'ad a few scars on 'is face, 'e was going prematurely gray." She waggled her eyebrows suggestively at the ten year old. "Not too bad on the eyes, though. Said 'is name was Moony, know 'im?"

Hope couldn't say that she had.

"We can look for a different compartment, if you want," Hermione offered, noticing the look of contemplation that her friend was wearing towards the man.

"Hm?" Hope asked startled, but then she realized that she had been staring a bit at the man and she blushed. "Oh, no, it's fine."

"Who is he anyways?" Ron asked, sitting down beside Hermione and giving the sleeping man a look over. "He's not a student, so he'd have to be—"

"Professor R.J. Lupin," Hermione recited for him, reading off of the suitcase.

"How do you know?" Ron said before giving Hope a meaningful glance that made her grin. "How is it that she knows everything?"

"It's on his suitcase, Ronald," Hermione said in a voice that was clipped with impatience.


Hope sniggered slightly before casting another look to the man. "Think he's really asleep?" she wondered aloud.

"I suppose so," Hermione mused, her eyebrows quirking at the question. "Why?"

"Because I've got to tell you something," Hope said, checking to make sure the door of the compartment was shut before opening her mouth and spilling all of what she had heard the previous night to her friends. She wasn't too surprised that they took the news worse than she did, but what was she supposed to expect? It wasn't like Ron or Hermione had a homicidal maniac after their blood every year.

"You'll have to be really, really careful, Hope!" Hermione said, worry colouring her voice. "Don't go looking for trouble!"

"I don't!" Hope said in a bit of irritation. "But Trouble is attracted to me, even if it is a one-sided relationship…"

Neither of them cracked a smile at her terrible joke.

"And how thick would Hope have to be to go looking for some bloke who wants to put her six feet under?" Ron demanded on Hermione, his voice shaking slightly.

"Guys," Hope said dryly, "I'm right here."

"Sorry," they both apologized quickly, making her roll her eyes.

"How does someone escape from Azkaban?" Hope asked Ron instead, seeing as he knew the most about Wizarding things as he was a Pure-blood.

"No idea," he said seriously, "no one's done it before, ever. And he was a top-security prisoner too; imagine how many of the Azkaban guards he had to pass to get out." He shivered.

Hope and Hermione shared a look of confusion at the mention of the guards of Azkaban, but they didn't bring it up again, instead moving to talk about something much less dreary than Azkaban: the village of Hogsmeade.

"What exactly is in Hogsmeade?" Hermione asked curiously. "The books I had didn't tell me much about it…"

"There's Honeydukes," Ron said dreamily, "it's this sweetshop where they've got everything… Pepper Imps –they make you smoke at the mouth– and great fat Chocoballs full of strawberry mousse and clotted cream, and really excellent sugar quills, which you can suck on in class and just look like you're thinking what to write next, and massive sherbert balls that make you levitate—"

It was clear that food and sweets were the only thing on Ron's mind.

"George has promised me some Butterbeer from the Three Broomsticks," Hope said with a shrug, though her cheeks pinked slightly as she mentioned him.

Hermione gave her an amused smile, but Ron had only fastened onto the part about 'Butterbeer'.

"Oh, Butterbeer," he practically moaned. "I heard that stuff is to die for! Way better than Pumpkin Juice."

"So basically it's like the soda of the Wizarding World," Hope drawled out to Hermione, rolling her eyes slightly making her friend giggle.

"What's soe-dah?" Ron asked in confusion, drawing out the word longer than he should have, sounding the word out slowly.

"Soda," Hope sighed, "my dear, sheltered friend, is one of the greatest inventions known to man-kind. Hermione, please explain to Mister Weasley what he is missing."

Hermione laughed lightly at the posh accent her friend had adopted for the purpose of sarcasm (which was also one of the greatest inventions known to man-kind, if you asked Hope).

"Alright, Ron," she said in a long-suffering voice, "soda is…"

Hope leaned back and watched as Hermione patiently explained the concept of soda to their wizard-raised friend who asked so many questions about the drink that she had to wonder if he was channelling Hermione (despite the fact that she was still alive and sitting beside him). She couldn't help but smile at how a faint flush dusted Hermione's cheeks at how much attention Ron was paying to her, but she couldn't for the life of her tell if Ron was aware of what he was doing or not.

Hope had almost been asleep when the train finally began to slow down, coming to a sudden halt, becoming stationary in the raging rainstorm that was outside the train.

"Great," Ron said in relief, "I'm starving!"

"But," Hermione checked her watch in confusion as Hope rubbed the sleep from her eyes, "we can't be there yet. It's another hour until we reach Hogwarts, at least."

"Then why're we stopping?" Hope asked in confusion, unable to stifle a yawn.

Hope stood up and unlocked the compartment door and sliding it open to look out into the corridor, along with a good number of heads. She saw a familiar brown-haired Hufflepuff.

"Oi, Diggory!" she called over to him, a few heads down.

He looked in her direction, searching for the person who had spoke before landing on her. "Yeah, Potter?" he called back.

"What gives?" she demanded.

"Dunno!" he yelled down to her. "Maybe we've broken down."

Hope groaned and withdrew her head, letting the compartment door slide shut again precisely two seconds before the lamps that lit the entire train flickered out.

"What now?" Ron complained, rubbing his sleeve against the window. "Hey, I think someone's outside…they're getting onto the train, I think…"

"Who is it?" Hermione demanded, leaning over to look out the window as well.

"I can't tell," Ron muttered, "I think they're wearing black cloaks, or something…"

"Ow!" Hope complained as the door slid open once more, disgorging someone who fell on her legs. "What-Neville!"

She reached out blindly for him before finding a limb that must have been his arm and tugging him into a standing position.

"Hope?" he groaned slightly which was nothing compared to how Hope's legs felt now. "What's going on?"

"How am I supposed to know?" Hope said sullenly before Neville was thrown into her by the entrance of a second person making Hope give a low grunt and Neville a stuttered apology.

"Who's that?" Hermione questioned to the shadow.

"Who's that?" a voice answered her.

"Ginny?" Hermione guessed.

"Hermione?" Ginny guessed.

"What're you doing here?"

"I was looking for my brothers, but I couldn't find anyone, so I figured Ron had to be somewhere close to the back—" Ginny started to explain.

"Guys," Ron said, cutting through all of the voices, "doesn't it feel a little…cold to you?"

All the voices ceased in a matter of seconds, finding that he was right. The windows hand begun to form ice and the bottle of water beside Professor Lupin had completely frozen over. Hope breathed out mist with every exhalation, her heart beating slightly faster than normal as she rubbed her hands over her arms in an effort to warm them.

She opened her mouth to speak, but she found the words quite strangled from her lips as a slimy, skeletal grey hand slid the door open (for who knows how many times that night). The hand did belong to a dark cloak, as Ron had mentioned before, but the most terrifying thing about it was that she couldn't see a face of any kind on it.

Neville gave a cry of fear beside her and she couldn't help but automatically shift her body slightly so it was positioned slightly before his. It was that movement that sealed her fate. The shadowy creature turned its head –it must have been– to her and she felt the fear grip her like nothing else had ever claimed her before.

It sucked in a deep breath that made the icy atmosphere increase by tenfold. Hope could feel the cold creeping inside of her into her very heart as the thing bent forward and down, closing the distance between her and it. She could feel its stale breath on her skin as it came even closer before her eyes rolled back and she fainted, falling to the floor in a dead faint. The last thing that she remembered was the scream of a woman, a woman begging for mercy.

A bright light flashed before her, shielding her, and then her eyes and ears were closed to the world, unaware of the voices of her friends above her. Or even of the man who had saved her, the man named Remus John Lupin, the man who always watched things unfold from the sidelines. The werewolf.

But she wouldn't know that.

Chapter Text

Her skin was cold to the touch and clammy, as if the warmth had left her flesh. She was as pale as death. For one terrifying second, Hermione thought she wasn't breathing, but then, to her silent relief, she inhaled, her chest rising as her lungs expanded.

Remus crouched down beside her, pressing two fingers against the side of her neck, ascertaining her pulse. His eyebrows furrowed slightly.

"What's wrong with her?!" Ron demanded, hovering close but not enough that he would bar Remus from assessing her.

"She'll be fine," Professor Lupin said, "she just faint—"

He was interrupted by someone opening the compartment door with a loud slam. The noise grated on Remus' heightened hearing which was even more sensitive because of the full moon the previous night. Still, he turned to see the figure illuminated in the doorway. He was older by a few years than any of the children in the compartment, but with the same bright ginger hair as two of them and wide blue eyes flooded with concern.

His face went completely white when he saw Hope's condition.

Boyfriend, Remus assumed with a light twinge. How old was she now? Thirteen? Her age was a far cry from the age that her parents had been when they had gone out on their first date.


At his voice the girl roused faintly, her eyelids squeezing shut slightly before fluttering open accompanied by a sigh. Remus tried to keep his flinch toned down at the exact colour of green that Hope shared with her mother that was Hope's eyes.

"She doesn't like people comparing her too much to her parents," Minerva had warned him, "but the similarities are there. Just be careful how you talk to her. She isn't fragile, but try not to bring up the likeness until she knows you better. She's very touchy about them."

Remus couldn't imagine why she wouldn't be.

She strained to sit up, using the new ginger-haired boy's assistance, groaning slightly and pressing a hand to her forehead. "George?" she mumbled, blinking her eyes a few times at him to clear the blur until she could see him plainly. "Weren't you with Fred?"

George, as that must have been his name, chuckled slightly, holding her gingerly in his arms as he pulled her up and onto a seat. "I thought you, being attracted to trouble and all, might be having some problems."

For the first time, Remus saw a smile crack her pale face. "What's the matter, Wizard-boy? Jealous?"

"Only of you, Mystery-girl," he said with a cocky smirk that reminded Remus slightly of his old friend. It was obviously an inside joke, going by how the other occupants of the compartment were sharing looks of bemusement at the pair.

Hope's smile faltered and she pressed a hand to her mouth.

"The nauseas feeling will pass," Remus assured her, which in turn caused her attention to focus on him. He held back a wince. She took in the pallor of his skin, the scars on his face, and the greying of his hair, all in a matter of seconds.

"Do I know you?" she asked suddenly, furrowing her eyebrows together as she frowned. "I could swear I've seen you somewhere before…"

His smile was just a little too tight. "I don't think so, Hope."

"Hm," was all she said, scrubbing a hand at her face. "What were those things? And who was screaming?"

"A dementor," Remus said, deciding to answer her first question. He wasn't even sure that he wanted to address his best friend's daughter's greatest fear at the moment; he might have an emotional overload. "One of the guards of Azkaban."

"Weren't doing much guarding," Hope muttered under her breath, before jumping with everyone else as Remus snapped a bar of chocolate into pieces and giving them each a bit.

"Eat," he told them all, though his eyes rested more on Hope's than anyone else's, "It'll help. I need to speak to the driver, excuse me…"

Hope frowned after him. "I'm really sure I've seen him somewhere before," she mused out loud.

"Never mind that," Hermione said, disregarding Hope's curiosity as she leaned forward, forcing Hope to meet her concerned brown eyes, "are you alright?"

Hope wrinkled her nose in annoyance at the question, and slight confusion. "What happened?"

George squeezed the fingers of her free hand, making her feel a bit warm, but a good sort of warm.

"Well," Hermione began jerkily, her voice ringing with nervousness, "that thing –the dementor– stood there and look around –and it sort of focused on you and Neville, and you kind of pushed him back and then…" she shivered slightly, allowing Ron to take over for her.

"I thought you were having a fit or something," Ron said, his face pale and tense. "You went sort of rigid and fell out of your seat and started twitching—"

Hope gritted her teeth behind her lips, looking very much like she had turned to a statue.

At this point, Hermione found her voice again. "And Professor Lupin stepped over you, and walked toward the dementor, and pulled out his wand, and he said, 'None of us is hiding Sirius Black under our cloaks. Go.' But the dementor didn't move, so Lupin muttered something, and a silvery thing shot out of his wand at it, and it turned around and sort of glided away…"

"Hope? Are you alright?"

Hope looked up, forcing her eyes back into focus as she locked gazes with George's concerned blue eyes, and then she sighed. "It's nothing," she said, hardly trying to assure him, "I'm just feeling a little light-headed, that's all."

She leaned her head against George's shoulder, her eyes closing slightly. The sick feeling she had right now was both having to do with the dementor, but also having to do with shame. Why was it that she was the only one that had collapsed? She opened her eyes a bit more as the compartment door slid open once more as Professor Lupin returned.

"I haven't poisoned that chocolate, you know," he said when he saw that none of them had eaten it.

Hope bit into it tentatively, and she was surprised at how some of the clamminess and nausea left her as the chocolate spread warmth from her mouth all the way down to her toes, but there was still some that remained, but maybe that was just because of her self-loathing.

"We'll be at Hogwarts in ten minutes," Professor Lupin informed them. "Are you alright, Hope?"

It was then that Hope realized that he already knew her name, but at this point, she was feeling too sick to comment. "I'll be fine," she mumbled into George's shoulder, "I'm just going to…rest my…eyes…" and then she fell straight asleep.

"Will she be alright?" Hermione asked the new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor.

"I'm sure she'll be fine," he tried to assure her, "she's just exhausted, it happens from time to time, she'll need to see Madam Pomfrey when we get to the school, though."

"Good luck with that," Ron said with a snort, making his younger sister and Neville (who had been silent until now) jump at the sound, "Hope hates hospital visits."

The older man's smile was a bit wry. It must have been a family trait.

Professor McGonagall had been worried to start with when Remus had sent an owl ahead informing her of the attack of a dementor on one of her favourite students, and her worries were reinforced when she saw George Weasley step out of one of the carriages with Hope's form braced in his arms.

"Oh, dear," she muttered as she approached one half of the Weasley Twins, "bring her with you, Mr. Weasley, and Miss Granger, you'd better come too."

Hermione had almost forgotten that she and Hope were to have a conversation with their Head of House concerning the Time-turner that Professor McGonagall had finally managed to procure for their studies. Poor Ron didn't have any idea.

"There's no need to look so worried, Weasley," she chastised the youngest ginger-haired son of Arthur and Molly, "I just want a word. Move along there, Weasley."

When they started up the stairs, Hope finally woke up again. "Wazzgoingon?" she slurred her words, wrapping her arms around George's neck in case she fell, which was very likely, seeing as Fred and George spent a majority of their time pranking others.

And then she saw the hospital wing door and her eyes went as wide as saucers. "Oh, no, I don't think so; I'm not going back in there until after term starts!" And she began to struggle in George's arms, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing, seeing as George was much bigger and much stronger than her.

"Oi!" she yelped as the boy switched her position so that she was dangling over one of his shoulders like she was a sack of potatoes.

"What do you think you're doing?!" she demanded, her face bright red.

Hermione stared at George, her mouth gaping, while Professor McGonagall quirked an eyebrow, her lips twitching slightly in amusement. George winked at Hermione.

"I swear, George—!" Hope hissed, embarrassment leaking into her voice. "I swear, I'll—"

"Oh, it's you, is it?" Madam Pomfrey queried as she leaned around so that she could be seen by her long-time patient. "I suppose you've been doing something dangerous again, have you. Put her on the bed," she added to the fifteen year old Gryffindor.

Hope gave another yelp as she was deposited on a spare hospital wing bed. She glared at both George (who was smirking) and Hermione (who was still giggling), before huffing and turning her face away from them.

"It was a dementor, Poppy," Professor McGonagall said as Hope wrinkled her nose at the Matron.

"Setting dementors around a school," she muttered, pressing the back of her hand to her forehead, feeling her temperate. She frowned, removing the hand to move to her potions cupboard, searching for a very particular remedy.

Hope stared at the small cup she had given her. "Er…this is liquid chocolate."

"Yes, it is," Madam Pomfrey said with an arched eyebrow, as if daring her to contradict her, but, thankfully, Hope conceded to gulping the small cup's contents in a few swallows.

"She won't be the last one who collapses," Madam Pomfrey added darkly to Professor McGonagall. "Its lucky she's only clammy. Terrible things, they are, and the effect they have one people who are already delicate—"

"Hey!" Hope snapped, affronted. "I am not delicate!"

"Of course you're not," Madam Pomfrey said in a way that said she was only saying it to please her incredibly resistant patient.

"What does she need?" Professor McGonagall asked as the adults ignored her as though she was in a different room entirely. "Bed rest? Should she spend tonight in the hospital wing?"

"I'm fine!" Hope snapped loud enough that both women turned to look at her with her face set in a frown and her arms crossed.

"Maybe she should have a bit more chocolate," Madam Pomfrey mused, "it's always much more potent in solid form."

"I've already had some," Hope said crossly, "Professor Lupin gave us all some on the train."

"Did he, now?" Madam Pomfrey asked, pleased. "So we've finally got a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher who knows his remedies?"


"Are you sure you feel alright, Potter?" Professor McGonagall asked Hope, making her shift her eyes from the Matron to her Head of House.

Hope rolled her eyes in irritation, and that was enough of an answer for the Transfiguration Professor.

"Very well. Mr. Weasley, kindly wait outside while I have a quick word with Miss Granger and Potter about their course schedule, then you may go down to the feast."

George tipped an invisible hat to her before sparing Hope a quick wink that made her cheeks ignite.

Professor McGonagall reached inside her emerald green robes to pull out something round on a golden chain. A closer glance told Hermione and Hope that it was the Time-turner that they had been waiting to receive.

"Your request has been approved," she said, handing the time travel device over to Hermione, being the more responsible of the two. "Though I must stress to the two of you to never use this unless to go to your classes, do you understand me?"

"Yes, Professor," Hermione and Hope chimed in agreement.

Hope's eyes narrowed slightly as Professor McGonagall spoke more to her than to Hermione. "Why, Professor," she said slyly, "one would think that you thought I was a troublemaker."

Hermione snorted slightly as she stuffed the chain down the front of her shirt.

George looked up when the door opened once more and Hope and Hermione exited. Hermione immediately headed downstairs, but Hope made her way over to George with a smile.

"You know, you could have gone down instead of waiting," she chided lightly as he threaded his fingers with hers and descended the stairs together.

"Ah, but remember, I am a noble knight," he said solemnly, "and I never leave a lady to walk alone."

Hope rolled her eyes at him for good nature (hadn't Hermione just left without an escort?) before standing on her tip toes to press a kiss to his cheek. "That's really sweet, Georgie."

George's ears burned a red that she had never seen before, and she couldn't help but smirk at it.

The first thing that Hope did when she saw Draco Malfoy the next day was trip him, and Professor Lupin just so happened to be passing by to see it happen.

Hope shifted her leg outward, causing the blond-haired Slytherin to trip over it and crumple to the ground before walking away as if nothing had happened; that was a Lily move, if Remus had ever seen one.

"What a wonderful impression of falling on your arse!" she called behind her, causing laughter to erupt around her.

"I'm not in for a detention, am I?" she asked Remus as she came to walk beside him.

"Detention?" the older man asked blankly.

She rolled her eyes, nodding back to where Malfoy was finally managing to get off of the floor.

"Ah," the man said in understanding, his lips twitching slightly, "I quite certain that I don't have any idea what you're talking about."

A smile split her face and she couldn't help but laugh as she skipped down the stairs.

"Is Malfoy still giving you trouble?" George asked as she slid into the seat next to him, reaching for some grapes.

Hope glanced up in time to see him do another fainting act, much to her annoyance. "A bit, don't worry, I made him fall on his arse a few minutes ago."

Fred snorted into his pumpkin juice while Ron choked on his toast and Hermione scowled at Hope.

"That little git," George said, his voice tipped with venom. "He wasn't so cocky last night when the dementors were down at our end of the train. Came running into our compartment, didn't he, Fred?"

"Nearly wet himself," Fred agreed with disdain.

"Really?" Hope said in surprise, a pleased smile worming its way onto her face.

"Yup," he said, "don't worry, you weren't the only one had a problem with the dementors."

"But I'm probably the only one that passed out," Hope muttered, swallowing a grape.

"Forget about it," George advised, squeezing her shoulder reassuringly. "Dad had to go out to Azkaban once, and he came back all weak and shaking…They suck the happiness out of a place, dementors. Most of the prisoners go mad in there."

Hope frowned slightly. As sad as it was, at least Muggles didn't drive prison inmates insane. But then, she supposed, the people who were sentenced to Azkaban probably did a lot of bad things, like murder, for instance.

"Where are you getting all that gold from?" she asked finally, taking note of the growing pile of money before the twins.

"Oh, the whole school had a betting pool going on for you and George," he said, without actually realizing what he'd said.

The temperature must have dropped a few degrees at that comment.

"What…did you just say?" Hope demanded dangerously, making the boy who was identical to the one who gave her heart some very serious problems freeze in his tracks.

"Now, wait a second," he said weakly, trying to backtrack what he had said, "what I meant was—" But Hope was already pulling out her wand to use on him, and that didn't bode well. "Later!" he yelled, fleeing out of the Great Hall faster than anyone could say "Screwed" with Hope running after him shouting obscenities that had Ron pretty impressed and Hermione gaping in shock.

Up at the staff table, Remus was still staring after the two red heads. "Does this happen often?" he asked a bit bemused.

"Sometimes," Professor Flitwick answered with a cheeky grin and shrug. "Hope can be very…amusing when she wants to be, she's much like, well, it's best not to say."

Remus smiled slightly as Hope's two friends grabbed her forgotten bag and made their way out of the hall. Hope joined them before they began to regret carrying her heavy bag, much to their relief.

Their first class, as it so happened, was Divination, but, unfortunately, none of them knew quite where the North Tower was located. Also unfortunately, they had acquired the help of a rather mad knight in a painting, and he was, as stated before, quite mad. In the end, Hope was starting to wonder if the class was even worth it if it was so high up in one of the spires, and Hermione and Ron couldn't help but agree with her there.

Professor Trelawney was an oddity, and that was putting it in simple terms.

Hope didn't like her mainly because she was sure she was allergic to the perfume that she had used to fill the room, making her sneeze violently at random intervals.

"Gods, that's revolting!" Hope gagged after she downed the tea, since they were reading tea leaves, and all. "This mud passes for tea?"

Ron couldn't help but agree with her there. "Best get it over with."

"They better be serving something really good at lunch, is all I'm saying," Hope said in disgust as they switched teacups, "I need something to wash down this filth."

Ron sniggered. "Right, what can you see in mine?"

"A load of brown junk that shouldn't be in teacups in the first place," Hope informed him solemnly, "you're sure this isn't poison?"

"No," Ron said, staring into her cup, "but if it's any consolation, if you die, I die."

"How romantic," Hope drawled.

"Broaden your minds, my dears, and allow your eyes to see past the mundane!" Trelawney cried with a dramatic air that was now serving to provide Hope with a great deal of annoyance.

Hope grumbled slightly before finally opening up her Unfogging the Future and staring dubiously between the cup and her book. "Okay, so you've got a tilting cross, and that means…you're going to have some 'trials of suffering', my sympathies, mate," Ron sniggered at her inserted commentary, "and you've got a sun here, so…'great happiness'…so you're going to suffer, but you should be very happy about it."

"Well, I think you need your Inner Eye checked," Ron said, trying to hide a snort before inspecting her cup. "There's a blob a bit like a bowler hat, so maybe you're going to work for the Ministry of Magic…but if you flip it, it looks like an acorn…and that's…'a windfall, unexpected gold.' Excellent, you can lend me some…" Hope smirked slightly. "…and there's a thing here that looks like an animal…maybe a hippo? No…a sheep?"

"Maybe you need your eyesight checked," Hope said, "if you can't tell the difference between a sheep and a hippo."

"Let me see that, my dear," Trelawney said, swooping over to their table like an overgrown bird and snatching Hope's cup from Ron's grip. "The falcon…my dear, you have a deadly enemy."

"But everyone knows that," Hermione scoffed, making Ron and Hope, and possibly everyone else in the room turn and stare at her. "Well, they do. Everyone knows about Hope and You-Know-Who."

"Hermione," Hope said in a whisper, "I need you to know that I kind fell a little in love with you because you said that to a teacher."

Hermione pulled a Hope and rolled her eyes at her friend, small patches of pink appearing on her cheeks as Trelawney continued with her reading of Hope's tea leaves. "The club…an attack. Dear, dear, this is not a happy cup…"

"That must have been the bowler hat," Ron hissed out of the corner of his mouth to Hermione and Hope.

"The skull," Trelawney continued as though she could not hear them having a whispered conversation in front of her, which was entirely possible, now that Hope thought about it, "danger in your path, my dear."

"Danger's always in my path," Hope grumbled, "you don't need tea leaves to tell me that."

Hermione cracked a smile at that comment, but was interrupted by Trelawney gasping and screaming.

"Oh, what's wrong, now?" Hope demanded, her good mood short circuiting.

"My dear girl…my poor, dear girl…no…it is kinder not to say…no…don't ask me…"

Right, because that was going to keep anyone from asking her, wasn't it? She was practically begging someone to ask her what she had read that was so awful in Hope's tea leaves. Well, Hope wasn't going to do it, so better get used to disappointment.

Unfortunately for her, it was Dean that instead asked, "What is it, Professor?" and then enough people crowded around Hope, Ron, and Hermione's desk that Hope swore she was suffering from claustrophobia.

"My dear," Trelawney said, the drama still obvious and in her voice, "you have the Grim."

This did not have the appropriate effect on her, unlike what Trelawney had hoped.

"What the bloody hell is a Grim?" she demanded, because a large number of the class had pressed their hands to their mouths in horror or had gone white; some had done both.

"The Grim, my dear, the Grim!" Trelawney cried, shaking her hands before her slightly as if hoping shaking them would cause her to understand. "The giant, spectral dog that haunts churchyards! My dear girl, it is an omen –the worst omen– of death!"

And miles away a great black dog raced, his forepaws and hind-paws smacking against the ground as he made for Hogwarts with only one thing on his mind; his goddaughter.

Chapter Text

Hope was more than a little eager to get out of the North Tower and make her way down to Transfiguration. Professor McGonagall was funnier than usual, though this was mostly due to her disapproval of Trelawney, but it still made Hope feel a bit better when she left Transfiguration for Ancient Runes with Hermione. This was one of the classes that she was really looking forward to, so she hoped that it wouldn't disappoint.

The classroom was a bit awing, that much Hope and Hermione could agree on. There was Egyptian hieroglyphics, Scandinavian Norse, and Ancient Greek as well as a number of other symbols that Hope couldn't even come close to understanding strewn throughout the room.

"This…" Hope said in amazement, "is so cool!"

"No kidding!"

Hope twisted around at the voice and grinned. "Hey, Parv– oh, sorry, I almost thought you were your sister!"

Padma Patil was identical to her twin sister, much like George was identical to Fred, but the differences were far more obvious with Padma and Parvati than they were with Fred and George. Padma was obviously in Ravenclaw House, so she wore blue instead of the red that Parvati wore. Padma's clothes were a bit loose on her and far more modest than her sister's uniform, and her hair was pulled back in a simple ponytail.

It was like looking at a Ravenclaw, Indian version of Hermione.

"That happens a lot," Padma assured her, before switching her books to her other hand and holding the free one out to shake. "I'm Padma."

"Hope," she said squeezing it with her own.

"Hermione," her friend added beside her when Padma extended her hand to her as well.

"It's nice to meet you," Padma said politely. "My sister's mentioned you two a few times."

Hope smirked. "Anything good?"

"That would depend on the day," Padma said with a slight smile.

"Find your seats!" a female voice called out into the room and Hope and Hermione quickly grabbed one of the seats closest to the front.

The woman who taught Ancient Runes was not a stern-faced woman, like Professor McGonagall was. Her hair was a light brown set in wild curls around her face and her cheeks dimpled as she smiled.

"Hello and welcome to the Study of Ancient Runes!" she called out with a bright grin. "My name is Bathsheda Babbling, we will begin with roll call!"

As soon as she had checked everyone's name down, she smiled warmly once more, sitting on her desk in a fashion that would have scandalized Professor McGonagall. "This is a class that delves into the mysteries of the past and unearths the languages that have been long forgotten," she told them, "the main focus of your first years in this subject will be translation and eventually we will touch on warding and barrier-erection that you might find in your future occupations. We will begin this semester with Egyptian hieroglyphics. Today you will be given a specific hieroglyph that I want you to research and find its meaning, an ancient text in which it is used, and what it represented to the Ancient Egyptians.

"Now if everyone would open to chapter one in their books we will begin with the first recorded history of the hieroglyphs…"

"I'm sure my hand will recover eventually," Hope said as she and Hermione left the class to meet Ron for lunch (as he had had a free period while they were in Ancient Runes and had mocked them a little about it).

Hermione rolled her eyes at the red-haired girl. "Oh, please, it wasn't that hard."

Hope gave her a dumbfounded expression. "Maybe you weren't in the same class as me, Hermione, but that woman can write and talk at the same time and she does them both pretty fast!"

"Like I said," Hermione continued, her voice tinged with amusement, "it wasn't that hard."

Hope mouthed wordlessly at her before shaking her limp hand at her friend. "Look at it! It's got permanent damage!"

"Have George give it a kiss to make it better!" Hermione fired back.

"What am I kissing?"

Both girls blushed at George's sudden voice.

"Nothing!" they said quickly and Hermione made a quick getaway before Hope could, with George's arm resting over her shoulders.

"Traitor!" she yelled after her friend. "I'll get you, Hermione! Just you wait!"

"Do I want to know what you two were talking about?" George asked in amusement, his arm dropping to wrap around her waist instead, before ducking his head to meet her lips with his, making her cheeks redden again even as he pulled back a second later.

"Probably better to not ask," she admitted, giving him a wink, "ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies, and all."

"Ooh, you troublemaker," he said with a smirk, "stealing my own words!"

Hope made a circle around her face. "Hello, have you met me? Reformed thief?"

"Reformed?" George laughed. "Who said anything about reformed? You pick-pocket from everyone!"

"You snooze, you lose," Hope refuted, grinning widely. "I can't help if people are practically begging to be stolen from!"

"Sure," George drawled out. "By the way, do you know why Ron looked like something was going to drop dead in front of him?"

"Dunno," Hope said with a frown, "unless he's still freaked out about that Grim thing."

George froze in place, dragging Hope to a stop as well. "What Grim thing?"

Hope glanced up to meet his eyes and was surprised at how uncharacteristically serious his face was. "George? What's wrong?"

"What Grim thing?" he repeated.

"It's just something that Trelawney saw in my teacup, that's all," she said, not quite understanding what the big deal was. "Why?"

A nervous laugh left his lips, startling Hope who had never heard such a sound from him before. "You do know what the Grim represents, don't you?"

"Trelawney said it was an omen of death," Hope said slowly.

"You haven't seen any recently, have you?" he asked her, searching her with his eyes as if looking for signs that she had. "Any great black dogs?"

"Yeah," Hope said, recalling the dog at Privet Drive, "I saw one the night I left the Dursleys'." Her eyes met his. "But it was probably my imagination," she said dismissively, but George didn't look so convinced.

"Our Uncle Bilius saw a Grim once," George said, still serious, "and he died twenty-four hours later."

Hope frowned. Was the Grim really that scary? "But I saw it weeks ago," she reminded him, "and I'm still alive, so don't worry. That one was probably a stray." She stood on her tip-toes to kiss his cheek.

"If you keep worrying about it," she called over her shoulder as she began to walk away, "then I'm not going to want to go on that date!"

She laughed when she heard him splutter.

By the time Hope, Ron, and Hermione made their way down to Hagrid's cabin, Ron and Hermione weren't speaking. From what Ron insinuated, she gathered that it had something to do with the Grim. It seemed that they had a similar conversation to the one that she and George had had. Only Hermione had disregarded Ron's concerns completely, which was a little rude, Hope had to think to herself. It was kind of like saying that his uncle died for no reason.

That was one thing you never wanted to say about anyone.

"C'mon, now, get a move on!" Hagrid called as they milled around the cabin. "Got a real treat for yeh today! Great lesson comin' up! Everyone here? Right follow me!"

"If we're going into the forest again, I'm skiving," Ron muttered in her ear, making Hope smile. They had had to go into the Forbidden Forest just last year to talk to the giant Acromantula by the name of Aragog concerning the Chamber of Secrets, and Hope had been hoping that they wouldn't have to go back quite so soon.

But, luckily, they only went by the edge of the forest (Hope swore she could see the shadow of a centaur within) to an empty paddock.

"Everyone gather 'round the fence here!" Hagrid called, clearly very excited about his first class. "That's it –make sure yeh can see– now, firs' thing yeh'll want ter do is open yer books—"

"How?" That disgusted drawl could belong to only one person; Hope's archenemy, Draco Malfoy. She was secretly hoping that he would have cooled his heels over the holiday, but that was turning into a vain dream.

"Eh?" Hagrid asked in confusion.

"How do we open our books?" Malfoy said in annoyance.

Hagrid glanced around to all of The Monster Book of Monsters that his students held, noticing how they had them bound in rope or Spellotape or a belt like Hope. "Hasn' –hasn' anyone bin able ter open their books?" he asked, to which he received a unison shake of the head. "Yeh've got ter stroke 'em! Look—"

Using Hermione's book as an example, he tore the Spellotape that bound it shut and ignored the book as it tried to bite him, running a finger down its spine.

Hope couldn't help but gape as the book shivered and fell open in his hand, seeming to have all the bite taken out of it.

"Oh, how silly we've all been!" Malfoy bit out, his lips curling into an unattractive sneer that instantly made Hope want to smack it off his face with her fist. "We should have stroked them! Why didn't we guess!"

"Shut your fat mouth, Malfoy," Hope snapped, "before I—"

"Before you what?" Malfoy smirked as the rest of the class fell silent, waiting on baited breath, wanting to see who came out on top, ignoring the sounds of Hagrid lumbering off to get the 'monster' they were going to study.

Hope's smirk was darker. "I'll let you use your imagination for that one, oh, wait, I forgot that you don't really have one of those!"

The Gryffindor side couldn't help but snigger at that.

"At least I don't faint at the sight of dementors!"

The Slytherins roared with laughter at that comment, but Hope was going to get the last word in.

"Oh yeah," she said in a mock-thoughtful voice, tapping her chin lightly with her finger, "I forgot that you got so scared that you ran into my boyfriend's compartment and nearly wet your pants 'cause you were so scared." She hadn't meant to use the word boyfriend, she wasn't quite sure what she and George were yet, but that mattered little.

For those who hadn't heard that, it was incredibly hilarious. Seamus and Dean in particular were rolling around in the grass laughing until tears came out of their eyes.

Hope's smirk widened at the pale flush that had crept up Malfoy's neck to cover his cheeks, but before he had a chance to give her a verbal retaliation, Lavender distracted them by crying "Oooooh!"

The creatures that Hagrid had chosen for his first lesson were beautiful in an incredibly bizarre and strange way. They had the bodies of horses, front legs, wings, and heads of eagles. Hope had never seen something like them before in her life.

She could tell that some of her classmates didn't agree, by the way they backed away slightly.

"Hippogriffs! Beau'iful, aren' they?" Hagrid said with a beaming smile, and Hope had to agree with him there.

"Now," he said, beginning his first lecture, "firs' thing yeh gotta know abou' hippogriffs is, they're proud. Easily offended, hippogriffs are. Don't never insult one, 'cause it may be the last thing yeh do." He gestured to the hippogriff with beautiful feathers as grey as storm clouds. "This here is Buckbeak, now who would like to say hello?"

Hope didn't notice how the whole class had taken a large step back, so when Hagrid smiled and said "Well done, Hope, well done!"

Hope gave Ron and Hermione a betrayed look before making her way forward, but very slowly.

"Easy, now, Hope," Hagrid warned once she'd gotten a little close to the hippogriff. "Yeh've got eye contact, now try not ter blink…Hippogriffs don' trust yeh if yeh blink too much…"

Great, Hope thought malevolently to herself, that's just great Hagrid, thanks for letting me know.

Buckbeak's eyes were a fierce and fiery orange and Hope accidentally turned her own eyes to the same colour, making the half-horse, half-eagle cant its head slightly at her, but it made no move to attack her, so that was good.

"Tha's it," Hagrid said, obviously pleased that she hadn't been attacked (oh, joy), "Tha's it, Hope…now, bow…"

That didn't seem like such a good idea, to Hope, but she did as he said, bending over slightly at the waist whilst still straining to not blink her orange eyes, which were growing more watery with every passing second.

For a moment nothing happened, and then Buckbeak sank into a bow as well.

"Well done! You can go and pat him now!"

Hope gave him a shaky smile, but she moved forward (though it was much more slowly than she had been originally approaching him). Only her affection for Hagrid would make her do this, she told herself, anyone else and she probably would have told them to screw off.

But she still outstretched her hand towards the hippogriff, taking one step at a time, ready to pull her hand back in case he thought it was his next treat, which it most certainly was not! After a few tentative clicks of his beak, he consented to allow her to press a hand to his face, under his large eye and next to his beak.

She sighed in relief, patting the feathers there gently as applause erupted behind her.

"I reckon he might let you ride him!"

"What?" Hope's face lost all of its colour as Hagrid hoisted her off of the ground. "Wait- hey- Hagrid! This is a bad-"

He dumped her onto Buckbeak's back and she barely had any time to right herself.

"Don't pull out any of his feathers," he warned, "'cause he won't thank you for that!" And then he smacked Buckbeak's hindquarters with one of his massive hands. Hope had to clutch violently at Buckbeak's neck as he rushed forward, flapping his wings under her as he rose into the air, going higher and higher until he was above. That was the point that Hope finally opened her eyes once more and actually looked around her. She had always thought the view from a broom was the best, but this, this definitely topped that.

She laughed out loud as the wind whistled past her body as they flew up and up; circling the spires of the castle before going into a few small dives that made giggles bubble from her lips. This sort of flying was something else entirely, even if it did feel a bit strange. Something about it seemed more…magical than riding a broomstick.

Any glimpse of Hope Sirius regarded as being worth something far more than gold. Sneaking onto the grounds was daring enough, but he just couldn't help himself. It was purely coincidental that she happened to be out at the same time.

She had her bag placed at the trunk of a tree while she rested on a low-hanging branch with her eyes closed and her head cushioned by her hands interlocked behind her head.

Sirius had seen James do the very same thing once in seventh year, even after Lily gave him a firm talking to about falling on his arse and doing damage to himself. "I like living on the edge!" he'd said, and it was clear that his daughter had inherited that desire.

He twisted his head slightly when a new presence made themselves known. It was a young boy, maybe fifteen, with bright red hair, and he was making his way slowly but surely to the true, a crooked smile on his lips.

"Don't people usually sleep in their beds?" he asked her mildly as he came to a stop under the branch.

"There is nothing wrong with taking a nap in the middle of the day when you've finally completed all of your homework," Hope said, smiling from her place on the branch.

"Oh, not at all," the boy agreed, his grin becoming reminiscent of a fox as he reached up and gave the branch a small shake. Hope's eyes shot open and she swore. "Son of—!" and then she yelped as she fell from the branch and into his waiting arms.

"I should hit you," she said with certainty, struggling to right himself in his arms.

Watching the two pained Sirius in his heart, because they reminded him of another couple, a couple that hadn't gotten their fairy tale ending.

"I'm holding you above ground," he reminded her, "Imagine if I…" he gave her a short drop in his arms earning him a glare.

"George Fabian Weasley," she warned him, "you seem to have conveniently forgotten of my terrible temper." So he was one of Arthur and Molly's boys, then? Sirius tried to recall any time the two ginger-haired pure-bloods had mentioned the names of their children, but that was a very long time ago, a very long time ago.

"Ah, but you look beautiful when you're angry," George said sagely.

Hope's cheeks burned a soft pink. "Oh, now I know you're having me on!"

"Would you feel better if I kissed you?" George asked her with a smirk, leaning down to pick her bag off of the ground.

"No," she said bluntly, "but you keep trying to con them off of me."

"Con what?" he asked.

"Kisses," Hope said, arching an eyebrow at him as she kept an arm securely around his neck before swinging down from his arms to interlock her fingers with his, drawing the strap of her bag over her shoulder. "Race you back!"

Sirius could only watch mournfully as she disappeared with her –he growled slightly; she was too young to have a boyfriend!– friend back towards the castle courtyard.

"Hey, look, it's the lovebirds!" Lee called as they approached. "Did you snog while you were out there?"

"C'mere Lee," Hope said sweetly, "so I can punch you."

Predictably, Lee hid behind his own girlfriend, Alicia, who couldn't help but roll her eyes.

She grinned at Hope. "I hear you two earned Fred quite a lot of gold."

Hope's face burned a bright red and she released George's hand to point a menacing finger at the girl. "Don't get me started on him and Angie! As soon as I see him—"

"Hey, guys!"

Hope's Fred-radar dinged and she focused on the ginger-haired twin in question who swore loudly when he saw her and started pelting in the opposite direction.

"I'd start praying to the god of your choice!" she roared as she raced after him, almost running into the passing Professor Lupin. "Sorry, Professor!" she called over her shoulder.

Remus stumbled slightly as he watched her go with a bit of a dumbfounded expression on his face.

"Yeah," Angelina answered his unasked question, an evil grin plastered on her face at how afraid her boyfriend was of his brother's girl (because Hope was George's girl, any way that you looked at it), "Hope can be that ridiculous. It's funnier when it's her and George, though; they're adorable."

"Oi!" George said in affront. "I am not adorable!"

"What if Hope called you adorable?" Alicia quipped with a sly smile, making him open and close his mouth wordlessly, a faint flush dusting his cheeks.

Remus raised his eyebrows slightly and then he chuckled. "Sorry," he apologized, "you just remind me of an old friend I had. He was convinced that he was going to marry his wife, even in first year."

"Did he?" Angelina asked curiously.

"Well, yes," Remus admitted, "after he managed to get her to stop hating him."

Lee laughed at that. "That doesn't sound much like Hope and George," he disagreed, "they've only ever fought once!"

"I got him!" a voice called as Hope rounded the corner looking a bit out of breath, her cheeks pink from the run, but a grin was gracing her lips as she tugged Fred forward with a yank to his ear.

"Ow, ow, ow!" He whined. "Woman, you're killing me!"

"This is the price you pay for meddling in people's love lives," Hope chided as she dragged him forward.

"Georgie, control your woman!"

"Yeah, Georgie!" Hope said with a smirk, turning on the twin. "Control your woman!"

George laughed uncomfortably. "Now, er, control might not be a good word to use…"

Hope arched an eyebrow, but she released his twin's ear, all the same. Fred gave an exaggerated moan of agony.

"He's usually less of an idiot," Hope explained to Remus, her eyes twinkling, "but then we put him and Angelina in the same room, and…"

"Hey!" the two in question said.

"Just speaking the truth," Hope said, raising her hands upwards slightly in surrender and then she jabbed her finger in Remus' direction. "And you!"

"Me?" the new professor said flummoxed.

"I know you!" she said fervently. "I know I've seen you from somewhere!"

"That would be hig-" Remus started to say.

"You're going to try to fool me!" Hope said, raising her voice over his. "But it's not going to happen! Just you wait; I'll figure it out sooner or later!" She danced over to George, kissed his cheek, before heading off in the direction of the library.

But then she came back to point at him. "I'm on to you, Mister Dementor-Repellent!" And then she left.

Remus stared at the empty space that she had once been standing in, his mouth gaping slightly.

"Mr. Dementor-Repellent?!" Lee howled with laughter. "Oh, that's pure genius!"

That, Remus had to think to himself, was Lily Evans' wit talking.

And he wasn't wrong.

Chapter Text

Malfoy was going to ruin her week, that much Hope was completely certain of. After her short little ride around the grounds, Malfoy had somehow managed to get Buckbeak to attack him (that twitchy little ferret was asking for it, in Hope's opinion, that that didn't really matter), and was apparently still complaining about the slice to his arm, which was a load of dung, if you asked Hope. It was only a small slice, it wasn't anything like Hope's leg had been when she first came to Hogwarts, but he still milked it like he was going to fall over dead any second.

"Can you believe that anyone so irritating was ever born?" Hope growled under her breath as they diced their caterpillars for their Shrinking Solution, not really caring how close Malfoy was to hearing her. In fact, she hoped he heard her; she was feeling a little bit more than vindictive. "I mean, seriously! It's his own fault he's injured!"

The blonde smirked at her over his cauldron and she flipped the bird at him in time for Snape to call out "Detention, Potter."

Hope turned her nose up at the man that was the bane of her existence (and had been officially probably since she had arrived at Hogwarts), making an ugly face at his back once he'd turned away.

Hermione gave her a look that said "You deserved that one." Ron bumped his fist with hers appreciatively, to Hermione's annoyance.

"Seen your pal Hagrid lately?" he asked them in above a whisper, to which Hope snapped snidely back, "Go bother someone else, ferret." She was pleased to see the pale flush appear on his cheeks at the insult. Considering Hope's insults, that one was pretty mild, but in her defence she had been eleven when she'd thought it up first.

"I'm afraid he won't be a teacher much longer," the Slytherin continued, his lips twisted upwards into an empty smile that put Hope on edge. "Father's not very happy about my injury—"

"How about I shove this knife—" Ron started to hiss before quieting instantly when Snape turned his attention towards their group again.

"—he's complained to the school governors," Malfoy continued with a gleeful trill, making Hermione grab Hope's elbow as she clenched her fingers tightly around her silver knife in an effort to stop her from gouging out his eyes. "And to the Ministry of Magic. Father's got a lot of influence, you know ("Father's got a lot of money to throw around," Hope corrected in a hiss). And a lasting injury like this…who know if my arm'll ever be the same again?"

"If the pain is so bad, go to St. Mungo's," Hope seethed, "only, the thing is they can tell the difference between liars and people who are seriously injured. So why don't you take your money and shove it up your arse Malfoy, because sooner or later, you're going to run out of it, and I'm going to laugh when you do."

"Better to have money than to be poor," he said, casting a sneer towards Ron who was twitching.

"Better to be poor with a great personality than to be rich and arrogant," Hope said back.

"Hey, Hope, can I borrow your scales?" Seamus cut through the tense atmosphere like a knife with a lopsided grin that Hope couldn't help but give a smile of extreme relief.

"Sure, Seamus." She lifted the scales from the table to hand them to the Irish boy.

"Did you read the Daily Prophet this morning?" he asked her.

"No, I was too busy, why?" she asked.

"They reckon Sirius Black has been sighted not too far from her," Seamus said, his eyes holding an excited gleam.

Ron glanced quickly to Hope as his dorm mate went back to his table, but Hope gave him a frown in return. She still wasn't quite sure about the whole 'Sirius Black is out to get you' vibe that was apparently encompassing all of the professors who were all being uncommonly wary around her (or any one of the students in general). Surely the dementors would be able to stop him if he ever came close to the grounds, wouldn't they? But then, she thought to herself, they had been so helpful before, hadn't they? If he could escape from creatures that didn't have any qualms about attacking unsuspecting third years, well, then the odds were already in his favour.

Hope wasn't much of a fan of the dementors, in case you couldn't tell.

She bit down slightly on her lip as she concentrated on giving her Infusion of Wormwood a good shake before stopping Ron from adding a drop too many of Leech Juice. She could feel Snape's eyes on her, waiting for her to slip up and somehow cause a massive explosion with a few too many mistakes.

Believe her, it had been done before, with spectacular results. Really. She thought the bright colours looked quite well on the walls of the dreary dungeon, if she did say so herself (which she did). In her defence, she had probably been channelling Fred and George (she typically blamed those two for anything prank-like in nature).

She sighed quietly to herself, counting down the minutes until the class ended. Was it really twenty more minutes in this hell hole? Hope groaned internally. The only consolation was that Defence Against the Dark Arts was next, and she was really looking forward to it.

Nineteen more minutes.

Hope liked Professor Lupin before he'd even done that spell on Peeves. Apart from his distant familiarity (and she still hadn't quite sorted that out yet, but she would), it was because he had a lot of personality. He faked blindness and deafness when pranks happened before his very eyes, and he was very fair about punishments. And to make him seem even better in her eyes, their first lesson was going to be a practical one.

Their lesson took them to the staffroom, in which –unfortunately- Snape was sitting comfortably in a low armchair. His eyes automatically drifted to Hope's, and the Potter couldn't help but scowl fiercely at him.

"Leave it open, Lupin," he directed to the much more shabbily dressed wizard. "I'd rather not witness this."

But his next words made Hope's anger spike, turning her eyes a deep blood red. "Possibly no one's warned you, Lupin, but this class contains Hope Potter and Neville Longbottom. Potter is incapable of following the simplest instructions, and I would advise you not to entrust Longbottom with anything difficult."

Ron and Hermione had to latch onto Hope's arms to prevent her from making her way over to the hook-nosed professor and getting herself into a bit more trouble.

Remus glanced between Hope and his old schoolmate. The animosity was practically palpable. He hid a wry grin; like father like daughter.

"I was hoping Neville would assist me with the first stage of the operation," he said calmly, a light smile gracing his scarred face, "and I am sure he will perform it admirably."

If it was possible to hear a smirk, Remus was certain that would be the case with Hope as he watched his colleague sweep out of the room before ushering the class closer to a wardrobe that trembled and shook as if something inside was dying to get out.

"Nothing to worry about," Professor Lupin assured them as Hope eyed the wardrobe curiously and cautiously. She hoped he wasn't going to pull a Lockhart and give them a bit of 'hands-on' experience without telling them anything like how to defend themselves against an attack. "There's a boggart in there."

Hope frowned slightly. "What's a boggart?" she queried out loud.

Professor Lupin spared her a smile, making her lips twitch reflexively. His smile made his face look years, maybe even a decade, younger. "That is the question, isn't it, Hope?"

Hope's cheeks flooded with heat and few people gave a few chuckles.


Of course Hermione had answer; Hermione always had the answers, Hope couldn't help but think fondly.

"It's a shape-shifter," she explained in her no-nonsense voice. "It can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us most." Now Hope and Ron eyed the wardrobe apprehensively.

"Quite right," Professor Lupin hummed in agreement. "So the boggart sitting in the darkness within has not yet assumed a form. He does not yet know what will frighten the person on the other side of the door. Nobody knows what a boggart looks like when he is alone, but when I let him out, he will immediately become whatever each of us fears the most. However, at this point, we have an advantage over it. Have you spotted it Hope?"

Hope sputtered slightly at the sudden question, earning her a few chuckles. "But I don't know anything about boggarts!" she said, making the chuckles transform into laughter.

The flustered expression was Lily's dead-on whenever James had tried to ask her out in the most ridiculous ways.

"Give it a go," he offered with a kind smile.

"Er…well," Hope said uncomfortably, glancing around the room as if doing so would help her come up with some sort of answer to the problem at hand, but luckily, this time it did, "there's a lot of us in the room, maybe it won't be able to tell what we all fear at the same time."

"Well put," Professor Lupin said, nodding his head. "When a boggart is faced with more than one person, he tends to get a bit confused. Which should he become, a headless corpse or a flesh-eating slug ("Makes you wonder who could be afraid of a slug," Ron muttered to Hope and Hermione who had to stifle their giggles)? I once saw a boggart make that very mistake and turned himself into half a slug ("Never mind being afraid of a slug," Hope whispered, "what about half a slug?"). Not remotely frightening."

Ron sniggered.

"The charm that repels a boggart is simple," Professor Lupin continued, his eyes twinkling slightly towards Hope and her friends, making her think that he'd heard their conversation quite clearly, "yet it requires for of mind. You see, the thing that really finishes a boggart is laughter. What you need to do is force it to assume a shape that you find amusing."

"That's it?" Dean called from the left.

Professor Lupin chuckled at the question. "Yes, Dean, just laughter. Now, the charm is Riddikulus. Repeat after me, Riddikulus!"

"Riddikulus," the class intoned in unison.

"Good." Remus beamed. "But that was the easy part, I'm afraid. You see, the word alone is not enough. And this is where you come in, Neville."

The brown-haired Gryffindor jumped violently as Seamus nudged him slightly forward. He looked so horrified that if it was anyone else, Hope was certain that she would have laughed.

"Now tell me, Neville," Professor Lupin continued in a jaunty way, "what frightens you?"

Neville mumbled a few words that the class could not hear until Lupin asked him to speak up and he uttered two words: "Professor Snape."

Of course laughter ensued at those words, and Neville couldn't help but smile as well.

"Frightens all," Professor Lupin agreed, "and I believe you live with your grandmother?"

"Yes," Neville said, tremors filling his voice slightly at the mention of the formidable woman that had raised him since his first year, "but I don't want the boggart to turn into her either."

Hope smirked slightly as more laughter echoed around them, but Professor Lupin was quick to dissuade his fears, assuring him that that wouldn't occur. His next instructions were whispered into Neville's ear so none of the other students knew what to expect when the wardrobe door flew open.

Boggart Severus Snape was just as darkly impressive as his counterpart and just seeing him increased the amount of annoyance that Hope felt towards the man. He moved forward with that perpetual scowl of his permanently curling his lips into a distasteful frown, and for a moment Hope had thought that Neville had lost his nerve, but then his voice rang out, clear as a bell: "Riddikulus!"

The effect had her and Ron roaring with laughter (Hermione didn't find it as funny as they did, but she had to admit that it was quite amusing).

Snape, in a green dress, with a fox-fur scarf, with a vulture-topped hat, and a red handbag swinging from his hand. Oh, this would have been perfect blackmail material!

"Excellent!" Professor Lupin cried. "Parvati! Forward!"

There was a scramble to get into line to face off against the boggart, but Hope had a larger concern on her mind; what was it that frightened her most? Honestly, she couldn't say. When she'd told Dr. Samuel about not fearing death, she had been telling the truth. She wasn't trying to be macho or anything, but she had experienced death before, even if it was only for an instant. People generally feared what they didn't understand, but Hope got death.

Her thoughts settled briefly on Voldemort. She had every right to be scared of him, after all, he had killed her parents and had tried to kill her two years in a row, but Voldemort was pushed aside. A chill came over her from the open window and she was reminded of the cold that had spread at the presence of the dementor on the train. She remembered how it had felt when it had drifted close to her, her body growing weaker with every passing breath…

And then she blinked and the memory faded, which was a good thing, because she had somehow made it to the front of the line and the boggart was twisting rapidly before her, searching for an appropriate fear and a second later the same cloaked dementor appeared. But within the next few seconds, Professor Lupin had moved in front of her, allowing the boggart to fix on his greatest fear instead.

Hope's eyes fixed on the full moon hanging in the air. A full moon?

The time it took her to blink, Professor Lupin had turned the moon into a balloon which expelled air rather violently as it flew around the room before returning to the inside of the wardrobe and having the door lock behind him, but Hope's eyes were still fixed on the space where the moon had occupied only moments before.

There wasn't anything particularly frightening about the full moon, Hope knew, unless…

Her eyes widened slightly. Unless you were a werewolf.

Oh, that explained it. Stress that the lycanthrope virus put on the body was enough that it caused the host to go prematurely grey. And the scars made more sense.

She couldn't help but stare at him as their class concluded; he didn't look or seem remotely like any kind of werewolf she'd read about, excluding Michael, of course, but Michael had been pretty amazing all by himself, so he didn't really count.

So she was left with a number of things to ponder as she follow her friends out of the door, casting one last look at the man who had his back to her as he fiddled with the lock on the wardrobe door. He looked much older from behind.

If you've ever had a detention with Severus Snape, then you would know that it was the number one worst detention to ever get. Hope had an awful lot of these detentions (you know her and her smart mouth), and she found them grating, which was her own fault, if you ever asked Hermione about it. At least Professor McGonagall let her work on her homework in complete silence (as all her detention students did; though, Hope didn't get many detentions with Professor McGonagall, she actually liked her). He'd make her scrub at the stains of ruined cauldrons for hours, even though the stains were practically permanent, all the while reading a number of her essays with scorn and pointing out supposed inconsistencies ("Shredded Moonstone doesn't glimmer in complete darkness; it's not a unicorn, Potter."). Hope just thought he was full of a lot of tripe.

By the end of the night, she was tired, hungry, and sore, but she would never let Snape see that as she left the dungeons the same way she entered them, in complete silence.

The first thing she did was find a spare bathroom to wash her hands, thoroughly ridding them of the grime that had accumulated there during the course of her detention, and the second thing she did was find a nice stone bench to rest, because her legs felt a little stiff from standing in the same position for so long.

"Fancy some dinner?"

Hope jumped suddenly at George's voice before smiling as he came to sit down beside her. The moonlight painted silver streaks into his hair and she could see the flames that flickered lowly in the brackets on the walls were reflected in his eyes.

"Dinner was hours ago, Georgie," she said, rolling her eyes slightly, even as he took her hands in his and pulled her, groaning, into a standing position.

"Ah, but there is a table with food waiting for us in the kitchens," George said sagely, pressing a kiss to the corner of her lips.

Her eyes sparkled. "Really?" Heat flooded her cheeks as her stomach made an audible and obvious growl as if voicing its desire for the food George had mentioned.

George barely muffled his laugh, barely. "Come on, it'll be fun!"

"More fun than Hogsmeade tomorrow?" Hope asked slyly.

"No, but it's still fun," he said, lifting her completely off her feet and into his arms without her giving much protest; she must have been really tired. "Now all we have to do is dodge a few patrols!"

He didn't have to see Hope's face to know that she had just rolled her eyes at him. "And you would know all about that, wouldn't you, Weasley?"

"As would you, Potter," he said with a conspirator wink. "Don't think Fred and I didn't catch you sneaking out after curfew."

Hope huffed lightly, looping her arm around his neck securely as they descended the stairs. "Star-gazing is not the same as causing trouble, George."

"Hm? What did you say? I'm afraid I wasn't listening."

Hope gave him a filthy look. "Keep talking like that and I might have to have words with your mother."

George gazed at her in complete unabashed horror. "You wouldn't!" he gasped out loud.

"Possibly," Hope said in slight amusement as he set her –groaning– onto the floor once more before a painting of a bowl of fruit. "So this leads to the kitchens?"

"Yup," George said, popping the 'p' with a loud smack, reaching out a finger to tickle the pear in the picture.

Hope stared at him in complete and utter bafflement. "What're yo—"

George pressed one finger to her lips, halting her speech and making her blush at the same time. "Has anyone ever told you you ask too many questions?"

"You've told me a number of times," Hope said in a dry manner around his finger.

"Maybe if I kissed you, you wouldn't have all these questions," he mused aloud.

"Right," Hope drawled, her cheeks pinking slightly, "well, you let me know how that goes, alright?"

"Ah, but you'd be the first to know," George said wisely, "you'd be the only person I would test it out on."

"Oh, I'm flattered that you wouldn't kiss another girl," Hope said, rolling her eyes slightly as his lips descended on hers, brushing a faint, chaste kiss to her lips.

Hope blinked dazedly as she was released, glaring lightly at him. "Now I know you're just doing that to mess with my head."

He winked. "But I love messing with your head!" The fire cast a soft glow across her face, making the green of her eyes stand out in the darkness and making the colour of her hair a much brighter, more vivid red.

"I should hit you," she decided, but she didn't as she followed him inside the room.

It was only much later that she remembered that Hope remembered that startling revelation she had had about Professor Lupin. At that time, however, she was barely awake long enough to change out of her clothes, so glancing through the photo album (where the answer to the question of where she had seen Professor Lupin before lay hidden within) was a high impossibility.

That night she dreamed of a shining full moon that was reflected on a pool of water, and she dreamt of inexplicable pain that one would only get from elongated limbs induced by the rays of the moon on that one night once a month. And for the first time in what seemed like a very long time, Hope Potter dreamed of Sir Michael Richmond, the werewolf the world forgot.

The pain faded on swift wings, leaving her only with the feeling of complete exhilaration, as if nothing could pull her down from the high that had been produced. But she would have to wake up sooner or later, and when she did, maybe then she might discover the truth of the relationship between her and the werewolf who taught.

Chapter Text

"Come on, hold still!"

"Ow! You just poked me in the eye!"

"I wouldn't have if you didn't keep squirming!"

Hope was glaring mutinously at Angelina, clenching her hands into fists on her bed as the older girl threatened her with dark eyeliner.

"I don't want—" Hope tried to say, but it was far too late for that, as Angelina was practically done.

"Oh, shut up, you look gorgeous," Angelina said dismissively as she steered the thirteen year old red-head to stand before the mirror. To Angelina's credit, the only make-up she was wearing was on her eyes, which was a relief, because Hope wasn't much a fan of cosmetics. The black only made the green of her eyes more prominent.

"I don't suppose you're going to kill me anymore?" Angelina asked in a light drawl.

Hope scowled fiercely. "Just this once you can live to see another day."

Angelina smirked, practically dancing out of the dorm and up the stairs to finish getting ready, leaving Hope in exasperation.

"There goes your future sister-in-law," Lavender said with a giggle, making Hope's cheeks burn a deep red, almost matching her hair as she stared at Lavender before giving her a grunt of annoyance and sitting back down on her bed to look through her album once more, firmly ignoring the three other girls that she roomed with as her eyes fell on one particular photo. It was obviously taken at her parents' wedding because her father was dressed to be the groom and had an arm thrown over the shoulders of a man who must have been one of the groomsmen. His eyes were a clear, light green, she could see a few grey streaks in his brown hair, and the scars were a bit obvious against his face.

She went stock still.


Hermione looked up from the book that was in her hands. "Yeah, Hope?"

"If George asks where I am, tell him I went to have a word with Professor Lupin."

Her brown eyes coloured in confusion. "Is something wrong?" she asked.

"No," Hope said, shutting the album and tucking it under her arm as she descended the stairs without a second glance back. The castle was still as much of a maze as it had been in her first year, but Hope had worked out a few safe routes, but that didn't stop her from almost walking into the very man she was looking for as he was about to enter his office.

"Professor! Sorry!" She said in quick apology, her cheeks pinking.

"No harm, no foul, Hope," Professor Lupin said with a calm smile (though she doubted she would have said that phrase to someone who had been raised by wizards, like, say Ron, because they just didn't understand those strange Muggle phrases). "Was it me you were planning on knocking over?"

His lips twitched as she rolled her eyes. "Well, I wasn't planning on knocking you over; I was planning on having a chat with you, if you don't mind?"

"I don't." Professor Lupin directed his attention to the door he was attempting to unlock (and doing a poor job of it, if Hope's smirk was anything to go off) "I would have thought you would be in Hogsmeade with George," he commented mildly.

Hope waved a hand dismissively, twisting his hand over the key and unlocking the door, stifling a few chuckles as he gave her an embarrassed grin. "Oh, we're going in a little bit, when it's closer to ten. The twins are going to show me, Ron, and Hermione around town before lunch."

He saw her tuck a crimson lock behind her ear in a manner similar to Lily's. He didn't think it was a good idea for Hope to be out in the open when Sirius was still on the loose, but given what he had heard of Hope's personality (having the Evans' temper, it seemed), he wasn't sure he would want to see the explosion that he was sure would ensue if he brought the matter up.

"Would you like a cup of tea?" he found himself asking.

"Oh," Hope said, her eyebrows drawing upwards in surprise, "sure."

She watched him move around the room, her eyes drifting to the cane that he could walk without, it seemed, but perhaps it was easier to balance one's weight on it than on two feet; she understood the feeling.

"I'm afraid that I've run out of tea leaves," he continued conversationally, "though I'd think you'd prefer teabags."

He glanced over to her, smiling at how her eye twitched slightly.

"Is that all you professors do?" she asked with barely perceptible annoyance. "Sit around and gossip?"

"When the occasion calls for it," Professor Lupin said, giving a short laugh at her words. "Professor McGonagall told me all about it. You're not worried about it, are you?"

"No," Hope said shortly, as if it was a sign of weakness, but something in her eyes gave her away as she sipped the tea silently.

"What was it that was worrying you?"

Hope frowned slightly, her lips pressing together into a firm line, something she must have adopted from Professor McGonagall. "Why didn't I get a go at the boggart?" she asked him. "Why did you push me out of the way?"

Professor Lupin arched an eyebrow at her. "I would have thought it would be obvious."

"Huh?" Hope said blankly, her mouth going slack. She had been waiting for him to deny the action and come up with some kind of excuse, but that was the opposite of this.

Professor Lupin restrained a smile at how surprised she was. "I assumed that if the boggart faced you, then it would assume the form of Lord Voldemort."

Hope blinked, staring at him. "I did, at first," she admitted, "but then, I thought about the dementor back on the train."

"Ah," Professor Lupin said in a pensive manner, "well, I'm impressed. That suggests that what you fear most of all is fear itself, this is very wise."

"Doesn't feel very wise," Hope muttered under her breath, blushing when he gave a small chuckle at her words (she thought she'd spoken them low enough to not be heard).

"I suppose you've been thinking that I didn't believe you were you capable of facing off with a dementor, haven't you?" he said perceptively.

Hope avoided his gaze, tugging uncomfortably on her hair as she did so. She opened her mouth to speak, but before she could say anything, a knock echoed from the door, silencing whatever she had been about to say.

"Come in."

Hope grimaced as her most hated professor stepped into the room, carrying a toxic looking goblet.

"Ah, Severus. Thanks very much. Could you leave it on the desk for me?"

Snape did so, but she could see his lip curling slightly at the sight of them together.

"What?" Hope snapped, feeling a bit vindictive after her detention.

"We were just talking about the lesson yesterday," Professor Lupin said smoothly.

Snape's scowl deepened, his thoughts, no doubt, drifting to Neville's boggart, which had been the laugh of the school (Snape! In a dress! Who wouldn't find that hilarious?) "You should drink that directly, Lupin."

"Yes, yes," Professor Lupin agreed, "I will."

"I made an entire cauldronful, if you need more." Hope wasn't sure if she should feel glad or irritated that they were both ignoring her.

Professor Lupin smiled slightly. "I should probably take some again tomorrow. Thanks very much, Severus," he said, his voice genuinely grateful.

"Not at all."

And he swept from the room much the same way he had entered; silently.

Hope glanced at the potion that bubbled ominously inside of the goblet. What was that potion that was supposed to help with werewolf transformations? Wolfsblain? Wolfsbane, that was it.

"Professor Snape has very kindly (that's likely, Hope thought) concocted a potion for me," he said when he caught her looking. "I have never been much of a potion-brewer and this one is particularly complex…pity sugar makes it useless."

"Cinnamon and Cocoa don't have sugar," Hope offered.

He looked up in surprise and smiled. "An intriguing thought I will have to look into."

Hope gave him a similar smile, but it faltered. "Professor," she said slowly, "there was something else I came down here to talk to you about."

"Hm?" Professor Lupin quickly downed the goblet, gagging at the taste before picking up his cup of tea once more, no doubt hoping to drown the potion's terrible taste with the tea.

And then she set her mug down and flipped open the book she had tucked under her arm, all but thrusting the page at him.

Remus felt his heart drop into his stomach at the picture she was showing him. It was one of the last pictures his mother had taken before her death. He still remembered the proud smile on her face when she saw him in his groomsmen robes; she couldn't resist taking a picture of him and James standing side by side.

"I thought I'd seen you somewhere," Hope said in triumph, "and you were trying to convince me that I didn't know you."

"Miss P—" Professor Lupin started to say.

"Hope," she interjected, "is my name, you said it about a minute ago, remember?"

He sighed softly, closing the album quickly, his emotions spiking at the glowing smile that one of his best friend's had worn that day. "Hope," he said slowly, "there are things about me that you are better off not knowing." There weren't many pro-lycanthropy witches or wizards in the world.

Hope pursed her lips in annoyance as she took a slow sip of her tea.

There was something soft about her eyes that reminded him of James when Lily was on his mind.

She tapped her fingers lightly against her mug of tea, speaking in quiet tones.

"It must have been painful," she said, looking him directly in the eye.

"What?" Remus asked a bit flummoxed.

"The monthly transformation."

Remus dropped his cup of tea and it shattered on the ground as he stared at her in a mixture of shock and horror, sputtering incoherently.

Hope's eyes danced, shimmering so many different colours at once.

"My friend Angelina wants to be a healer when she's older," she explained, "she had me help her look up lycanthropy and I recognized the symptoms. And your boggart was a full moon."

A muscle jumped in his jaw, but he couldn't seem to manage to formulate any words to properly say in this kind of situation. He was reminded distantly when James, Sirius, and Peter had cornered him, telling him that they knew about his 'furry little problem' as James had so eloquently put it.

"That," he said finally, "is not the way I would have wanted you to find out."

Hope rolled her eyes, her aggravation seeping through. "Would you have liked me to find out at all? No. I like my way better."

Hope thrust the album into his chest. "Let me know when you're done with that," she all but ordered, "I'm going to want it back."

Remus could only stare wordlessly after her as she tossed him a wave and disappeared through the door, off in search of her friends.

As it happened, Hope and George ended up touring the sights on their own. Fred and Angelina were heading off to do a bit of shopping ("Don't have too much fun while we're gone!" Fred had called out to them as he and Angie made a hasty getaway) and Ron and Hermione decided to leave her and George alone (Aw! Those two just wanted some alone time, didn't they?).

George squeezed their linked fingers, smiling down at her. He'd told her that she didn't need the make-up; she looked beautiful without it, but Hope had said –while blushing at his comment– that it had been Angelina's idea in the first place.

"Anywhere you like," she said with a smile, "since I don't really know my way around, or anything…"

"Well, first up you've got Dervish and Banges over there," he used their interlocked hands to point, "you'll find a lot of strange magical stuff in there, lots of odds and ends, but they also fix stuff too. And over there," he pointed on the opposite side, "is Gladrags Wizardwear, a clothes store, obviously. You want to start in there?"

"Nah," Hope said dismissively, "where's that sweetshop that Ron's been positively raving about?"

"Ah, a woman of class," George said with a smirk, earning him another eye roll, "follow me!"

She laughed as he dragged her through the village, dodging around a number of their classmates to reach Honeyduke's Sweetshop.

"Whoa!" Hope said as they entered. "That's a lot of sugar!"

"And now you know why Ron's such an addict," George said. "See anything you like?"

"You're not paying for everything for me!" Hope said aghast. "What if I decided I wanted to buy the whole store?"

"Then I would be very broke," George said with a smirk, before relenting at her scowl, "oh fine…but your lunch is on me."

"How kind of you," Hope said with a drawl before searching the store with her eyes for something that looked good to eat. The Sugar Quills looked really good, so did the Peppermint Toads, and, of course, the Chocolate Frogs. The Wizochoc would come in handy around the dementors, and the Pumpkin Pasties and Cauldron Cakes were really good.

Five minutes later Hope was whistling a tune as her free hand was weighed down with candy. Talk about a sweet tooth.

"Where's your favourite?" she asked him as they manoeuvred between the students.

"Do you have to ask?" he joked. "Zonko's Joke Shop!"

He made a big dramatic wave to the brightly show-cased store in front of them, making Hope giggle at his antics. Zonko's was the perfect store for him and Fred, she could see. There were enough prank items there to fulfil their wildest imaginations and to inspire some more.

The Nose-biting Teacups and Hiccough Sweets wouldn't be something that she would fancy anyone giving her, and the Frog Spawn looked a bit revolting, but she couldn't resist buying a few Dungbombs ("Oh, you rebel!" George said), but then George bought some too so he couldn't really say anything about it to her.

"Ah, we should probably head towards The Three Broomsticks," he said almost as an afterthought, glancing at his watch before giving her a foxy smirk. "And here I was having so much fun having you all to myself…"

Crimson pooled over her cheeks even before he bent downwards to kiss her. No matter how many times he kissed her, she knew she wouldn't ever get sick of it. Her eyes fluttered shut and reached up to curl her fingers into the fiery locks at the nape of his neck as George's arms held her to him by wrapping them around her waist. By the time he had released her, she was appropriately flushed and unsurprisingly breathless.

"Are you ever going to stop doing that?" she demanded in a weak sort of gasp, still trying to get the feeling back in her legs which were a bit wobbly from the kiss.

"Never!" George vowed, pressing another kiss to her lips, though this one was much shorter than the previous one, it still made her burn like the sun.

"Stop that!" she snapped, hitting him lightly on the arm. "If you keep this up we'll never meet the others on time!"

"Meh," George said with an uncaring air, "I don't think Fred and Angie would mind…I think their mouths would be a little busy…"

"George!" she complained.

"Oh, alright," he said in an all-suffering voice that earned him yet another eye roll, "I must abide to Milady's wishes, even though kissing her is terrible fun."

"Terrible fun?" Hope repeated a bit bemused as she linked her arm with his and allowed herself to be marched in the direction of the Three Broomsticks. "I'm not sure if you realize just how terrible you are."

"Oh, every day," he said with a wink, "it makes life very fun, didn't you know?"

"Oh, I had no idea," Hope said dryly, waving at Parvati and Lavender across the street who had either been asked by Seamus and Dean, or just so happened to bump into the two third years and were having an excellent time. Parvati and Lavender waved back, but Dean laughed as Seamus cat-called.

Hope took that moment to morph her face into Snape's and scowl at them, kind of freaking them out before returning it to the way she normally looked once more.

"Snape's face on your body," George shivered, "there's just some things you just can't un-see."

"How unfortunate," Hope said as he wrenched the door to The Three Broomsticks open bowing and waving a hand in the 'after you' gesture, "I suppose you'll have to live with that nightmare for the rest of your life."

"It does seem that way, doesn't it?" George said in mourning. "How will I ever be able to look at you without picturing Snape's head in the place of yours?"

"I might give you a bit of incentive," Hope said slyly, making him perk up instantly, but she never elaborated as she dragged him to their group of friends.

Some of those at the staff table were understandably tense. Professor McGonagall hadn't thought it was a good idea for Hope to even be allowed into Hogsmeade given that Sirius Black was still after her, but Hope had her permission slip signed, so there was little she could say on the matter without denying her something she had earned.

Remus' reasons were a bit more personal, as she was the daughter of one of his friends.

"She came to talk to me this morning," he was telling Professor McGonagall, "she'd apparently figured out what I was."

Professor McGonagall's lips twitched slightly. "That doesn't surprise me; Hope and Hermione are very well read, so you'll have to be careful if you don't want anyone else to take notice."

Remus sighed slightly, but he couldn't help but agree with her there as he relaxed in his seat as Hope re-entered the Great Hall with her friends and boyfriend, plopping down into one of the seats at the Gryffindor Table and helping herself to some dinner.

"Did you go by to see the Shrieking Shack?" Ron asked Hope. "Hermione and I did."

"Oh, no!" Hope bemoaned. That had been one of the things that she had been looking forward to, and it had completely slipped her mind. "I totally forgot about that! Damn George Weasley, distracting me!"

Hermione hid a giggle, but Ron openly sniggered at her.

"Was it as scary in person?" Hope asked.

"A little from the distance," Hermione had to admit, "but I suppose it depends on how you see it."

Hope grunted in agreement before spooning the last of her soup into her mouth and standing up. "I'm going to go drop off my stuff in the dormitory, I'll be back in a few."

So, she left everyone to jog up several flights of moving staircases until she came to a stop in front of the Fat Lady's portrait, behind which was the entrance into the Gryffindor Common Room.

"Ah, hello," the slightly tipsy portrait greeted her, raising a glass of perhaps fine wine (or maybe not so fine, you never knew with portraits), password?"

"Revocate animus," Hope said clearly, and the portrait swung open with an "And to you."

It was strange to see the common room and the dorms so empty, but there were a lot of students in Gryffindor House, so maybe it was just because she was so used to it being full, but the common room looked a little…big.

She shrugged the thought off, before taking the steps two at a time until she reached her year's dorm, before tossing her tricks and treats onto her bed a bit haphazardly and shutting the door with a snap as she bounded down the steps once more.

However, Hope first encountered a problem with the portrait which did not move at her touch like it did for all those students who wanted to leave the common room. Hope pressed against the portrait, but it was like it was jammed, only swinging free once Hope threw her shoulder against the frame, something that she was almost sure had fractured her shoulder in some way, but she didn't have time to dwell on it as she stepped out and onto the landing, surprise, caution, and worry all flashing through her mind at the sight.

Where the Fat Lady was supposed to be, where she had been only moments before, that could be certain, were three long distinct scratches like a dog or a wolf. A massive dog or wolf. Her mind instantly flashed to that huge black hound that she had seen over the summer, the supposed 'Grim.'

And then she saw it again, looking directly to the left.

The animal bared its teeth at her slightly before turning on its heel and leaping up the stairs.

Without even thinking at all, Hope raced after it, her wand clenched tightly in her hand. The dog was fast and slippery, taking a number of shortcuts and secret passages that she hadn't even known existed, and she was finding it difficult to keep up with him, but he never left her sight, no matter how far ahead he got.

At this point, Sirius was running into a few problems.

First, and foremost, the Fat Lady had refused to let him inside the common room, in which he was certain traitorous Peter lay. He'd admit that his temper got the best of him a little when he slashed up the painting, but it just in his mind. The second problem arose when his little goddaughter forced her way out of the common room and saw him (albeit in his animagus form). And his third problem, and most important problem, was that his goddaughter was now chasing him around the school.

Sirius would have to move fast or she would see him.

So, feeling incredibly guilty, Sirius wound around a corner very fast, transforming quickly back to a human and hiding deep in the shadows there as Hope came to a stop breathing hard, twisting two ways and frowning intently. When she looked in the direction that was opposite to him, he gave her a rough hit to the back of her head.

She crumpled instantly, her world fading into darkness.

Chapter Text

Sirius regretted it the instant he did it, catching her limp body mere inches from hitting the ground as he laid he down gently, but there was little he could do now. He grimaced slightly at how much she looked like her mother; he hadn't been so close to her since that night she'd run away from her aunt and uncle's house.

Quite unsure of just what to do, Sirius simply dropped a hand to the top of her head, giving a whispered apology before his body shifted and lengthened into that of a great black dog, lurching into the shadows with barely a glance back to where his goddaughter's body lay.

Unaware of their friend's predicament, Hermione and Ron were finally making their way out of the Great Hall and up onto the main staircase.

"I thought Hope would come back down once she'd finished putting her stuff away," Hermione said with a bit of concern, "she said she'd only be gone a few minutes…"

"You know Hope," Ron said, giving her an easy grin that made her feel warm, "she probably left out one of her books and got a little distracted by it."

It wouldn't have been the first time, that much could be certain. Hope could be very easily distracted just as she could be easily intently focused. They usually blamed George for getting her distracted, but it wasn't always the case.

"What's this?" Hermione questioned at the mass of Gryffindor students amassed around the portrait hole.

"Neville's probably forgotten the password again," Ron said sagely.

"Hey!" said Neville from behind them, sounding slightly insulted no matter the truth to his words.

"Oh, sorry," Ron quickly apologized as his brother made his way through the crowd.

"Let me through, please" Percy ordered. "What's the holdup here? You all can't have forgotten the password –excuse me, I'm Head Boy!"

"Real proud of that fact, isn't he?" Ron muttered to Hermione, making he give him a small smile, which made it all worth it in his mind.

"Get back all of you," Percy said suddenly, dropping the smiles from their faces in an instant. Ron had never heard Percy so serious in all his life, and that was including how he had spoken last year during the basilisk attacks. "No one is to enter this dormitory until it has been fully searched –Somebody get Professor Dumbledore. Quick!"

The person who was the furthest from the portrait just so happened to be Colin Creevey, so he turned and raced down the stairs in search of the headmaster. He must not have been very difficult to find because Colin returned in a matter of moments with the aged, silver-haired wizard trailing close behind him.

"What's going on?" Ginny asked, having just arrived and was now standing on her tip toes trying to see over the heads of the students that blocked her sight, but even that height difference didn't make her tall enough.

But Hermione and Ron couldn't offer her any answer because even they couldn't see through the throng of people, and when some of them finally shifted, Hermione gasped.

The Fat Lady was gone from her portrait, and the canvas that she had once resided upon was ripped as though with a claw.

Hermione didn't even realize that she was now holding onto Ron's hand tightly, and Ron felt no need to inform her of it. Hermione could feel her fear rising as Professors McGonagall, Snape, and Lupin rushed down the hall to Professor Dumbledore.

"Where's Hope?" she hissed to Ron, but she could his same fear reflected in.

"You'll be lucky," a very familiar excessively cheerful voice stated over the group, making a number of them jump in surprise (Ron and Hermione among them, having been engrossed in their worry, too much to notice his presence).

It had been awhile since the pair had seen Peeves the Poltergeist. They actively avoided him, like most students did. Hermione didn't fancy an inkwell emptied on top of her head and Ron didn't appreciate having rugs tugged from under his feet.

"What do you mean, Peeves?" Ron had to commend the headmaster for having such a cool head in the face of Peeves, but he probably had a lot of experience with dealing with the prankster ghost.

Peeves voice changed to an overly sweet tone when speaking to Dumbledore. "Ashamed, Your Headship, sir. Doesn't want to be seen. She's a horrible mess. Saw her running through the landscapes up on the fourth floor, sir, dodging between the trees. Crying something dreadful. Poor thing…" That last bit was the fakest Ron and Hermione had ever heard.

"Did she say who did it?" Dumbledore asked.

"Oh, yes, Professorhead," Peeves said in a gleeful manner. "He got very angry when she wouldn't let him in, you see. Nasty temper he's got, that Sirius Black."

Hermione could swear that the headmaster's eyes darkened slightly behind his half-moon spectacles.

"All students will make for the Great Hall," he ordered, and the students were quick to comply, except for two.

"Professor McGonagall!"

Hermione lurched forward, dragging Ron by their still-linked hands (and firmly ignoring the butterflies fluttering rapidly in her stomach as if for escape) to their Head of House.

"Miss Granger," Professor McGonagall said sternly, "please follow your—"

"Professor," Hermione said, interrupting her for the first (and last) time in her life, "Hope's missing."

Professor McGonagall went positively white, which was a first, Ron and Hermione had to admit.

"Go to the Great Hall," she continued in a would-be calm voice that betrayed her concern for the situation, "we'll find Hope, don't worry."

But Hermione and Ron couldn't help but exchange a look at that, because Professor McGonagall had done something that she had never done before.

She had said Hope's first name.

Now came the real challenge; evading George Weasley as long as possible.

Oh, that was going to be so difficult, Hermione just knew it was.

If there was one thing that Remus Lupin prided himself on, it was knowing Hogwarts for better than any professor.

So he was going to be the one who found James' missing daughter.

And it helped that the full moon was tomorrow, so his senses were heightened, and that meant that he could follow Hope's distinctive scent with ease. He traced it from the left of the Fat Lady's portrait, up a few stairs, through a hidden tapestry.


The thirteen year old witch was lying sprawled on the ground, her rose-colored hair fanning out around her, her wand still clenched in her fist.

As gently as it could possibly be done, Remus rolled her onto her back, propping her head up with his hand as he checked that she was still breathing, which, luckily, she was. He gave her face a light slap, repeating her name.

Hope's eyebrows scrunched together as she feebly stirred, her eyelids fluttering slightly before opening to reveal those soulful green eyes that had once belonged to Lily Evans.

Naturally the first thing out of her mouth was: "Oh please tell me you didn't give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation."

Remus was so startled that he laughed out loud. "I can assure you, Hope," he said with a twinkle in his eye, "the last person to have kissed you is George."

"I should hope so," said Hope (firmly ignoring the pun she made on herself, as she always did), giving him a wink, "I've got a thing for gingers."

"I hear it's hereditary," the werewolf said sagely, helping her sit up and moan slightly as she rubbed the spot where she was struck. "Are you alright?"

"What d'you mean?" Hope said, blinking her eyes a few times as if to focus her eyesight.

"You've been missing for about an hour," Remus informed her and she stared uncomprehendingly at him.

"Really?" she said in surprise. "It's been that long?"

"All the professors have been looking for you," Remus added.

"Even Snape?"

Remus almost wasn't surprised at the amount of contempt that her voice held towards the Head of Slytherin House. She was James' daughter after all, and there was some obvious tension between the two. Remus would have thought that Severus would have a bit of a better relationship with Hope because she had her mother's face than if she had been born a boy with her father's looks. But there was also the personality to consider.

Hope was a bit…renowned for her…street smarts as they say. Of course, Hermione Granger was most definitely the reigning champion grade-wise, Hope was still high up on the ladder. Remus knew that she was a lock-picker, both because of the tools that she wore tucked into her hair or on clothes at all times, but also because the Weasley Twins could often be seen pouring over spare locks using her picks, attempting to unlock them. The swears told him they had yet to succeed. And then there was the whole pick-pocketing thing. Remus wasn't sure where she'd even picked up that skill, and he wasn't sure that he wanted to know, but an awful lot of people pointed their fingers at her when their wands went mysteriously missing.

Remus hadn't wanted to view Ronald Weasley as the Peter Pettigrew of the group (as Hermione was clearly him and Hope was obviously James), and he was right to. Ron's performance in his classes were above average, even though (his colleagues reported) he had started out rather mediocre. The one thing that struck him the most was his steadfast loyalty to the two girls that were his best friends. He would take the laughs at being so close to two girls because there would be no one else who could possibly take his place. Another thing was that he was clever, as was evident in his papers. Maybe not in the way that Hermione was, but he had once mapped out the perfect way to capture a kappa when Hope and Hermione were stumped.

But he was getting off topic.

"Even Snape," he agreed before his concern shined through, "did you hit your head?"

His fingers gently probed the back of her skull for any injuries, feeling a small bump that made her wince.

"Ow!" she complained.

"Let's get you on your feet," he advised, "it might be best to let Madam Pomfrey look at your head."

"I'm fine," Hope said, nettled, "I don't want—"

"You're going," Remus said in a voice that brooked no argument. "How did you find this place anyways?" He kept a tight grip on her elbow when she tripped and almost fell, her movements much more sluggish than he hoped.

Hope screwed up her face in concentration, accidentally turning her hair violet, but it disappeared quick enough that Remus didn't comment on it. "I thought…I saw something, so I chased after it…I think?" she sounded more confused than certain, making Remus worry about that head wound of hers, no matter how small it was.

"You think?" he pressed, helping carefully down the stairs, even as she used the stone rail for assistance.

"It's all…kind of fuzzy," she said in an airy voice that sounded distinctly like one of his second year Ravenclaw student's, Luna Lovegood, if his memory served him. "I was chasing…it…and then I lost it and something hit me from behind."

Remus clenched his teeth together, almost grinding them. Of course, Black wouldn't want to look her in the face, besides, back-stabbing was his specialty…maybe he hadn't wanted to look at the face that was nearly identical to the one that Lily Evans had worn.

"M'Tired," she murmured. "Can we sleep now?"

"We're almost there," he said, steering her towards the hospital wing. "Madam Pomfrey?"

The Matron was at his side in a matter of moments, her eyes fastened on Hope. "Oh, Hope! You are bad for my heart!"

"That's probably what George thinks too," Hope agreed with a bit of a slur.

Madam Pomfrey didn't smile as she dragged the girl over to the nearest bed and forcefully pushing her down onto it, berating the girl loudly, honestly, some things never seemed to change.

"Miss Potter!"

Professor McGonagall was the picture of relief at the sight of one of her most troublesome students.

"Yo," Hope said, raising a hand in barely a wave as Professor Lupin left to continue the search for Sirius Black.

"What happened to her, Poppy?" Professor McGonagall demanded of the Hogwarts Matron.

"Only a mild concussion," Madam Pomfrey assured her fellow staff member, tapping the afflicted area with her wand.

"Ow!" Hope complained, swatting her wand away with an apprehensive look on her face. "Careful with that thing, you could poke someone's eye out!"

"I can assure you, Miss Potter," Madam Pomfrey said in a clipped voice, "if and only if I wanted to poke your eye out, would I do so."

"You never know," the red-head grumbled, massaging the back of her head as she did so, "even healers can have bad days."

She astutely ignored the filthy look that Madam Pomfrey tossed her way.

"Now, Miss Potter," Professor McGonagall began as Snape entered the room as well, "why don't you tell me what happened?"

Hope was a little more than disgruntled by the kind of questioning her professors had to put her through, and she was far less than keen to talk about it. Mostly because someone had gotten the drop on her and she had never seen their face. Oh they were going to get it, only with her fist to their face, that much Hope was certain.

"Look," she said, her eyes narrowed dangerously (not a good sign), and her arms tightly crossed that it was unlikely that she would tell them anything else, "I told you I was hit from behind, I didn't see whoever did it."

"It seems…curious," Snape said in an oily voice, "that you would be in Gryffindor Tower conveniently when Black demanded entry."

Hope canted her head at the greasy-haired man, arching an eyebrow and speaking with careful control (knowing her, it was probably causing her a lot of strain, considering who she was dealing with). "What are you insinuating? That I'm aiding a criminal? A criminal who apparently wants me dead? Yeah, that's likely," she snapped out the last bit, her irritation edging into her voice.

"Miss Potter," Professor McGonagall warned, but for once, Hope ignored her.

"I think I want to go see my friends now and go to sleep," Hope said in an official sort of voice, her rings bumping together as she fiddled with her hands. Professor McGonagall could almost swear that the snake ring moved.

"I think that's quite enough questioning for my student tonight," said Professor McGonagall to the small group that had gathered. "Miss Potter, if you would follow me…"

"Gladly," Hope muttered.

The walk down to the Great Hall was awkward and silent. Hope was irritated and Professor McGonagall was disapproving.


Hope was a little surprised by the relief in Percy's voice. The Head Boy strode towards her, his face tense, but his eyes broke the image. A couple of students in purple sleeping bags turned towards her at the noise, but her firm stare made them turn in the opposite direction, though she was sure they were still eavesdropping.

"There you are! Where've you been? The others have been worried sick!" Percy sounded a trifle bit exasperated.

Hope didn't have to guess who he meant by 'others'.

She stood on her tip-toes, searching the mass, but they all looked the same.

"Left side, toward the back," Percy informed her, "I can take you…are you sure you're alright?"

"I'm fine, Percy," Hope said with the barest hint of a smile, "really."

He didn't look convinced.

"Well," she wheedled, "I'm a little tired."

He believed that. Her eyelids were drooping slightly and her lips were twitching for a yawn. So he directed her towards his brothers and their combined friends, and he didn't ask many questions.

The look on George's face was enough.

His questions could wait.

Though Hope had claimed to be tired, that didn't stop her from staying awake well into the night, feigning sleep, because overprotective Percy (now channelling his mother's spirit it seemed, though she was certain Mrs. Weasley was still alive) kept coming back to check on her whenever he was free. But Hope kept her eyes firmly shut, her hand relaxed in George's light grip. She raised her eyes slightly to find that Ron and Hermione were doing the same thing.

Oh, she was such a bad influence on them!

They all had to quickly shut their eyes, though, because footsteps approached them.

"Any sign of him, Professor?" Percy's voice could be easily made out, even in a whisper.

"No," came Dumbledore's calm response. Hope kind of wanted to see him lose his temper; it would at least be interesting to watch. "All well here?"

"We have everything under control, sir," Percy assured him.

"Good," Dumbledore said with a miniscule undertone of relief. "There's no point in moving them all now. I've found a temporary guardian for the Gryffindor portrait hole. You'll be able to move them back in tomorrow."

A temporary guardian? That didn't sound good. What had happened to the Fat Lady? Professor McGonagall had never said.

Percy asked her question for her. "And the Fat Lady?"

"Hiding in a map of Argyllshire on the second floor. Apparently she refused to let Black in without the password, so he attacked. She's still very distressed, but once she's calmed down, I'll have Mr. Filch restore her."

"And what Hope said about the portrait jamming when she tried to get out?" Hope tried not to react to that. Clearly had had been speaking with Professor McGonagall (because she found it very hard to believe that Snape would have told him anything).

"Miss Potter should have been locked inside the tower," Dumbledore said in a thoughtful voice, "the fact that she was able to force her way out…is astounding to say the least. But it is a mystery to ponder another day."

Hogwarts will always answer to its heirs whose blood runs in veins through the entire structure.

Hope had remembered that small part in Salazar's little journal. It hadn't really made sense to her at the time, why would it? The way it was written, it was almost as if Salazar considered the castle to be alive, but then, she had to consider that the castle was made from Blood Magick. So, possibly, it could 'remember' the blood from which it had been forged, because, even though Hope's blood was rather diluted in comparison to her grandfather's, she was still a Slytherin.


Hope almost clenched her hand tightly around George's, but that would be too obvious. She took a calming breath.

Meditation, she thought to herself, is something I need to really look in to. Because, really, she was starting to get a little too mad at the sound of his voice. Though, in her defence, he had accused her of aiding and abetting a person that the Wizarding world practically considered a terrorist.

"The whole of the third floor has been searched. He's not there. And Filch has done the dungeons; nothing there either."

"What about the Astronomy Tower?" Dumbledore inquired. "Professor Trelawney's room? The Owlery?"

"All searched," came Snape's response.

"Very well, Severus," Dumbledore said, heaving a sigh that echoed in the silence, "I didn't really expect Black to linger."

"Have you any theory as to how he got in, Professor?" Snape asked of him.

Hermione and Ron had already told Hope of the theories circling through the students, including apparition (which couldn't be done on the grounds, though Hope had to say she was a bit dumbfounded that a Ravenclaw had suggested that one), disguise (that one was more likely; go Hufflepuff), or flying (which couldn't be done for the same reason as the first theory). It would be interesting to hear what the headmaster thought about the matter.

"Many, Severus, each of them as unlikely as the next," he said. So…a no go with the headmaster's though, then.

"You remember the conversation we had, Headmaster, just before –ah– the start of term?" he asked, making Hope squint barely in their direction. Oh…it seemed that Percy was still standing close-by, so the potion's professor was trying to block the Head Boy from the conversation.

"I do, Severus." Dumbledore was employing the same voice that Hope used when she was trying to say "I don't want to talk about it" in a fewer amount of words.

"It seems –almost impossible– that Black could have entered the school without inside help." Hope went stone cold. Was he insinuating that Professor Lupin-?! "I did express my concerns when you appointed—" Oh, he did think it was Professor Lupin. Another great reason for her to hate him; Professor Lupin was awesome, not including being friends with her dad, of course.

"I do not believe that a single person inside this castle would have helped Black enter it," Professor Dumbledore replied shortly.

At least Dumbledore wasn't a git. He could see something good just be looking at the man. Why couldn't anyone else see that about Remus Lupin?

Chapter Text

November continued, with the days growing colder and colder, but despite that, Hope found herself leaning against a stone rail of the viaduct. She always found that it was best to think in the open air, but maybe that wasn't always the best thing, especially in this kind of weather. She looked down, but the height didn't scare her (if it had, she would have been a fail as a Seeker).

She would have been sleeping, in fact, she should have been, but she couldn't. Her friends had been practically smothering her since the Halloween incident, and she could only handle so much. All she needed was to get away for awhile.

"Ah, I see you've found my old haunt."

Hope lifted her gaze from the frigid horizon to meet Remus Lupin's pale green eyes. "Hm?" she asked in confusion.

"My old haunt," Professor Lupin repeated, "whenever I needed to get some space, I'd come here." He smoothed a hand fondly over the stone.

Her lips twitched slightly. "From Dad?"

"Sometimes," Professor Lupin admitted. "My friends were a bit..." He struggled for the perfect word to describe them before giving up.

"Can't have gotten up to anything worse than the trouble Ron, Hermione, and I get into?" Hope asked in amusement.

Professor Lupin gave a slight wince. Tales of her adventures had reached his ears. Defeating Voldemort a second time and a third time, fighting a basilisk…yes, she had definitely surpassed James. "Well…maybe not as much trouble—"

She gave a short laugh as he said 'trouble'. "Sorry," she apologized with a grin, "it's just that Trouble is what we call George." A pale pink flush adorned her cheeks at the mention of her boyfriend (should she really call him that? They did kiss a couple of times, but they'd never actually talked about being girlfriend/boyfriend…). "My friends say I attract 'Trouble'."

"How clever of them."

"They seem to think so," she said with a shrug. She eyed his appearance; his robes were hanging loosely on his thin and wiry frame and he was leaning more on his cane and his scars were more prominent.

"Your time of the month is coming up, right?" she asked innocently.

"So eloquent with words," Professor Lupin said, skating over her question, because they both knew the answer to it, "you're very much like your mother in that aspect."

Hope sighed lightly. She had always hated being compared to her dead parents, that was all anyone saw…well, maybe not anyone. Now, she kind of got it. It was better to be James and Lily Potter's daughter than to be the Girl-Who-Lived any day. "Thank you," she said finally, "she must have been a sweet-talker."

Professor Lupin gave a light chuckle. "She could be," he admitted, "she was very good at lying."

Hope lifted her head sharply, an expression of complete and utter surprise splashed across her face. "Really?" she asked in a little bit of awe. "But I thought she was Head Girl."

"Oh, she was," Professor Lupin assured her, "but that didn't really stop her…she was much better at it than James was. That was something that always irritated him. He got into trouble a lot, and he could never really talk his way out of it."

"Sucks for him," Hope sang.

"Did you know that your father fell in love with your mother in first year and proceeded to chase her until seventh year?" Professor Lupin asked her.

"Really?" she said in surprise, her eyebrows drawing upwards. "I didn't know that."

"Lily thought that James was a bit of a toe-rag, too arrogant for her taste," Professor Lupin said, stroking his chin thoughtfully, "but he grew out of that arrogance, and she gave him a chance."

"I've never heard that one before," she said, leaning against the stone to look at him, canting her head slightly, her eyes glimmering a paler green (the colour of his eyes, he noticed) for a second.

"Here's something I want to know," she said in a faux-light voice that was always a bad sign, Professor Lupin winced slightly, "if you were really such good mates with my dad, then why didn't you ever come see me?" Her eyes were now frigid sapphires.

"Ah," Professor Lupin shifted uncomfortably, there was her infamous and sudden temper rearing its ugly head, "well—"

Hope crossed her arms, an unimpressed look on her face.

"I was told that it would be best if I didn't," Professor Lupin admitted.

"Told…right…" Hope turned her furious eyes away from him, her fingers curling into tight white fists. "And who said that?"

"Albus Dumbledore."

"Even better!" Hope snarled.

"I know you're mad at me, and you have every right to be," Professor Lupin said quickly, "but whatever distance I've kept from you was for your own safety."

"Safety? Are you kidding me?" she snapped. "I was ten when I was 'accidentally' pushed in front of a car! My family can't stand the very idea of me! Those so called blood wards are failing! I would be far better protected if I started carrying a Blood Stone around in my pocket!"

The bit about the Blood Stone caught his attention more than it should have. Blood Stones were incredibly rare and incredibly valuable in rune research. They were from a more obscure branch of magic that had come from Druidism. Now he saw what Filius had meant about her being more interested in old magicks.

"You wanted to live with someone else," Professor Lupin said quietly.

"Preferably someone who isn't anti-magic," Hope snipped, rolling her eyes slightly.

"I wouldn't have been able to take you in anyways," he said, trying to keep her as calm as it was possible to be, "I'm sure you're aware of the attitude the ministry has towards werewolves, they have laws that forbids them from caring for magical or muggle children."

"How kind of them," Hope grumbled, "I wouldn't have minded."

"Wouldn't have minded?" Professor Lupin asked a bit flummoxed. What, being a werewolf? Or living with one?

"I wouldn't have minded being raised by one."

Professor Lupin couldn't but feel a little lost…hadn't she just been mad at him? All he could do was shake his head.


It was late and the sky was unbelievably black with tiny pin-pricks of silver against the darkness. If Hope had had it her way, she would be out star-gazing, maybe even with George, but maybe she had bitten off more than she could chew with taking three electives.

She raked a hand through her loosely braided hair, exhaling a slow sigh and almost dislodging her wand from where it was tucked behind her ear, its tip being used to illuminate the parchment and the book she had lying open before her.

The Ankh was a symbol used commonly throughout Egypt, and it is a symbol well known in both the muggle and Wizarding worlds. It symbolizes life, but it is also associated with the Egyptian glyph for magical protection, sa. It is also said that the symbol is one of the sunrise-

Hope stilled her quill at the sound of something she couldn't decipher. She listened intently for a moment longer, and heard it again, the sound of something not unlike a pebble hitting glass. She replaced her quill and ink on the bedside table as she threw open the curtains that hid her bed from view, grinning and flushing with delight as she padded over to the window, opening in slightly.

George Weasley was hovering on his broomstick outside her dorm.

"What on earth are you doing?" she asked in awe, earning her a grin in return.

"Kidnapping you."

"You do understand the idea of kidnapping, don't you?" she asked in a dry voice. "You don't really tell the person you're kidnapping that you're kidnapping them."

"If I did that, you'd freeze to death," George said conversationally, before changing it to coaxing, "come on, Hope…stargazing…"

Her eyes lit with that manic light at the mention of one of her most favourite pastimes.

"I love you so much right now!" she whispered fervently so as not to wake up her dorm mates, leaning through the open window to give him a quick, firm kiss. "I'm going to get dressed, wait there."

George could only mouth wordlessly at the girl as she grabbed her clothes and disappeared into the bathroom to change out of her pyjamas. His brain was still trying to process that she had said "I love you" to him. Those were three words that the pair had never uttered, but that was a little understandable, they'd only just kissed on the last day of August, and their first date had technically been Halloween, and it was only November.

"Budge over, handsome."

George obediently slid back to accommodate her as she hoisted herself side-saddle onto the broomstick, wrapping an arm around his neck as they shot forward and into the night.

"You know, star-gazing always works better when it's not quite so cold," Hope mentioned in a light voice.

"Ah but I have an ulterior motive," George said, wrapping an arm gently but securely around her waist, pulling her closer to him and enjoying the flush that adorned her face.

"Oh?" she all but whispered.

"If you get cold you have me."

She laughed outright. "Oh my gods, you are completely terrible!"

"I get the feeling you've called me that before," he said in a musing voice.

"It's entirely possible," Hope agreed as he ducked his head to feather a kiss to her lips. Her fingers curled into the collar of his jacket as he took her breath away, only allowing her to breathe after a number of seconds had passed. "Maybe not the best thing to do on a broom, Georgie," she said lightly, her cheeks a dark red (oh, she hoped that he couldn't see it, but then, they were illuminated by moonlight and starlight).

"And why would that be?" His eyes were like two sapphires that had been planted in darkness as he swayed the broom slightly.

"Because I'll kill you," Hope threatened lightly as her grip on him tightened. "If you make me fall, I'll kill you."

George tilted his head back to laugh at her words. "Already forgotten what you said to me first year?"

Hope screwed up her face in thought as she tried to recall exactly what she had said to him, and then she remembered.

"George?" she whispered.


"Don't let me fall."

He chuckled ahead of her, one hand squeezing hers where they were still locked around him. "Never."

"Oh shut up!" she muttered, "that was a completely different situation, and you know it!"

"Maybe," George sang in an off key voice, before changing the subject a bit abruptly, "There was something that I wanted to ask you."

Hope leaned backwards slightly to look at him in the eye. He looked distinctly uncomfortable and embarrassed, not always a good combination. "What is it?" she asked, both curious and cautious.

She could feel him twisting his fingers.

"Will you be my girlfriend?"

Hope almost laughed, but that would have been mean. She had been expecting it to be something far more serious than asking her that.

"Oh, I don't know," Hope said with a wink, "I've met this really amazing guy."

"Amazing guy?" George repeated with a quirked eyebrow and a grin. "Anyone I know?"

"You might," Hope acquiesced, "see, he's got this pranking thing and he's much cleverer than he seems, sound like anyone you know?"

"Possibly," George said, "and what would you say to this amazing guy if he asked you to be his girlfriend?"

"Hm," Hope pondered lightly, "well, I would say that there would only be one man for the job."

It was only much later that Hope realized that they didn't get much around to star-gazing, but she wasn't too upset in the light of George's question.

The day officially sucked, that was Hope Potter's not so modest opinion. It was five in the bloody morning when she had awoken, the last thing she had wanted to do was be kept awake well into the morning when she could be sleeping, especially since today was the day of the Gryffindor-Hufflepuff match. Her temper was bad enough that it could probably boil over a kettle of tea.

First Malfoy claimed that his arm was still causing him trouble, when the truth was he didn't want to play in the weather that was raging outside…wimp (Madam Pomfrey, bless her soul, was threatening to file an inquiry with St. Mungo's if his pain progressed further than the next week; busted). Secondly, there was the whole waking up earlier than she should have (thus giving her time to complete all of the rest of her homework, but that didn't make Hope feel any better). And thirdly, there was the completely horrible weather outside, she hadn't even wanted to leave the comforts of her bed, but oh well.

Parvati had tied her dark crimson hair into a tightly braided bun so that the wind wouldn't whip it across her face too much, so that was one thing she wouldn't have to worry about, she thought to herself as she sat huddled with her Quidditch teammates. They were all so thickly padded down with clothes and the minimum protective gear allowed during games, that all of them could probably fall about fifty feet and still bounce back.

Oliver was the only one who seemed both very concerned, and very cheerful. Hope had to be commended for only threatening to kill him twice (she didn't want to tally up the threats to Hermione, Ron, Fred, or George, though George was probably holding the record).

"If he gives me any more hints I swear I'm going to take my wand-" Hope muttered under her breath to Angelina who burst into silent giggles as Katie made her lower her wand, for fear of her actually taking up her threat to her boyfriend.

"Calm, Hope, remember?" she asked mildly. "Weren't you practicing meditation, or something to help?"

"I was," Hope admitted, a bit as an afterthought. "I'm not very good at it."

"That's because you have to practice," Katie said bracingly, "deep breaths, alright? Keep the death threats to a minimum, yeah?"

Hope gave her an unlady-like grunt that wouldn't have been amiss with a couple of trolls. "I've only done two today!" she complained.

"And it's a great start," Alicia said, reaching over to pat Hope on the head like she was a child that had finally done something right. Hope whacked her hand away with a sneer.

"Oh, shut up," she snarled as the girls laughed at her. "You all think you're so clever."

"Very clever, yes," Angelina agreed.

Hope hefted a blunt butter knife at the dark-skinned girl. "I'm not afraid to use this on you, Johnson. I've got skills."

"With lock picks," Angelina jibed back, "don't worry, I think I'm safe."

Hope shook her head and mouthed wordlessly at her, completely dumbfounded.

"Wow," Ron said impressed, "I think that's the first time I've seen her at a loss for words."

"I must be imitating you, then," Hope said in irritation, regaining a bit of her inner (and outer) fire.

"Ra-ar!" Fred said, doing a bad imitation himself of a cat. "Wow! I didn't know you could be this…snappish."

"Snappish?" Hope said with a canted eyebrow. "My friend, it seems you are very confused, because this is the wonderful sarcasm that I enjoy employing on a daily basis."

"Do you really?" Fred asked in mock fascination. "I had no idea!"

"That could possibly stem from some serious memory loss that you should talk to Madam Pomfrey about," Hope said in a thoughtful voice, "or maybe if you pulled your lips off of Angie's for five seconds, you would know all this."

There was a collective "Oooh!" from those nearest as Fred's whole face burned brighter than his hair.

"Booyah," Hope said, pointing the butter knife at him know, "you cannot outsmart the master."

"I concede to one greater than I," Fred said solemnly as his twin –who had been surprisingly quiet throughout this whole exchange– sniggered beside Hope, an arm wrapped loosely around her waist. He had known something was different about them, but he didn't mention it. They were much more casual together than they had been before, and that was good. It was hard to imagine one without the other now, even more so than it had when they had first been considered 'a thing'.

It seemed a bit like a fairy-tale to Fred, the pauper getting the princess, but George didn't like her because she was rich, he liked her because she didn't try to change him or censor who he was, like their mother often did, often not knowing how much it hurt them.

"Hey, Pretty-boy," Hope laughed, drawing his attention away from his thoughts and to the black-and-yellow clothed Hufflepuff Seeker and Captain, Cedric Diggory, "ready to lose today?"

"Only if you are," the older boy said in a good naturedly way. "May the best man or woman win."

He held out his hand to her, which Oliver eyed suspiciously, but Hope didn't have the same reservations, grinning as she took it, shaking it once before bumping fists and wiggling her fingers.

"Wait a second," George said, a bit dumbfounded, "you have a handshake?"

"The Seekers do," Hope said with a shrug, "not including Malfoy of course. What? Doesn't anyone else have a handshake?"

"No," they all said.

"Hey, hey, Cho!" Hope yelled over to the Ravenclaw table, making the Chinese girl whom she had bested already on several occasions look up from her seat.


"Do the Seekers have a handshake?"

"Definitely," she said with a laugh.

Hope smirked at her boyfriend. "I guess you're not as cool as us, hot-stuff."

She was born ready for this match, and she knew she would have nailed it completely if Malfoy was playing, because she never lost to Malfoy, he was fair game, but Cedric on the other hand, he was going to require a bit more effort, but that didn't scare Hope.

She was used to giving her all during Quidditch matches, and she was going to show Professor McGonagall that she didn't need anybody to watch her be as good as she could be (because the woman had been downright scary, not wanting her to practice with the team if it limited Sirius Black's efforts to attack her; but Hope didn't care if he did attack her, because there was no way she was losing a Quidditch match).

She thought she would've enjoyed trouncing the opposing team more if it was Slytherin, as she was feeling particularly angry towards Snape who had subbed for Professor Lupin recently while the poor man was recovering from his night howling at the moon (speaking figuratively). Snape, being the oh so clever bastard that he thought he was, had assigned an essay on werewolves (she had turned white in anger at how he was trying to get the werewolf to lose his job). It was times like these that Hope really, really hated him.

But she didn't have time to think about that as the whistle blew, barely heard over the raging storm around, and the fourteen players lifted off.

Even with the goggles that repelled the water, Hope was having trouble seeing that glimmer of gold in the ungodly heavenly downpour. It was as if the sky was deciding that it really didn't want Hufflepuff and Gryffindor to play against each other today, and Hope was all for that.

She clenched her hands tightly around the shaft of her broom, attempting to increase her control of it, but even that was difficult.

"Come on!" she scolded herself as she finally caught sight of the tiny ball she had been searching for for almost the whole game (the rest of the game she'd been trying to avoid being hit by Bludgers). She looked up from her goal –something one should never do, especially not against Cedric Diggory– and that was when she saw him. The great black dog from Surrey. The Grim.

"I don't have time for you!" she yelled at him, turning back towards the Snitch, but the overwhelming sense of dread had returned completely from the time on the train and she had to resist the urge to scream at the sight of the amassed dementors under her.

She felt so cold, so very cold, like her insides were being ripped apart by it, and the screaming, the screaming was coming back in full once more.

"Not Hope, not Hope, please not Hope!"

"Stand aside, you silly girl…stand aside, now…"

"Not Hope, please no, take me, kill me instead—"

"Not Hope! Please…have mercy…have mercy…"

She couldn't breathe

Cedric was inches away from the Snitch when he looked back, something one should never do, especially not against Hope Potter, and what he saw drew him up short and scared the living shite out of him at the same time.

Hope would have caught the Snitch if not for those dementors that were close enough to form a tight ring around her, and then they drew closer and she slipped off the broom, falling towards the earth with no indication of slowing down.

Without giving the Snitch a second thought, Cedric dived after her, a hand outstretched for hers, but it was soaking and the clothes were slippery, it was like trying to grab a hold of an eel.

The ground was getting closer and closer, and Cedric was growing more desperate. A fall from that height could kill someone (ignoring the fact that Hope wasn't exactly ordinary), and if it didn't kill her, it would certainly incapacitate her for awhile.

At the last possible second, he snagged her wrist, barely managing to pull her up a little before they both tumbled to the ground. Cedric's injuries were nothing compared to Hope's though, something he had to repeat to Madam Pomfrey when she tried to look him over as Professor Dumbledore removed the Gryffindor Seeker on a stretcher, and from the distance, he couldn't for the life of him tell if she was dead or alive.

Chapter Text

It looked worse than it was, that much George was certain of. Bandages encircled her head like a flat sort of tiara, and a number of pillows had been propped up behind her so that her head was a bit more elevated than it was when she normally slept.

For a painstaking moment, George had thought that she was dead, but Madam Pomfrey assured him that the pallor of her skin was just an after-effect of the Dementors, which was a relief to say the least. It had been lucky that Diggory had caught her when he did, Madam Pomfrey had told him, or Hope's injuries might be a good deal worse.

Hope stirred faintly, turning her head towards him slightly, but she did not awaken, even when he reached over to cup her clammy cheek in his hand, smoothing his thumb over her flesh. He was a little worried that she wouldn't wake up, but it seemed he didn't have to wait long, even if it had only been about fifteen minutes since the game had concluded and ten since Diggory had left with his team with a fervent thank you from the Gryffindors gathered around Hope's bed.

"Lucky the ground was so soft," Angelina said in a hushed voice, leaning slightly into his twin.

"Lucky Diggory caught her," Fred corrected, "who knows how bad it could have been if he hadn't?"

George knew that Fred wasn't wrong there, but that didn't stop him from wishing that he had been the one that caught her.

"I thought she was dead for sure," Katie squeaked, completely white under the mud, probably not the best thing to say under the circumstances.

"At least she didn't break anything," Alicia said, trying to force her voice to remain calm, "her head's only bruised, so that's good."

Hope shifted again, and this time, her eyes opened fully, much to their relief. "Did anyone get the number of that bus that ran me over?" she said amidst a groan of pain. "What did I do to my head?"

"You just banged it up a little, don't you worry, Miss Potter," Madam Pomfrey said as she bustled over to her most frequent patient's side to tap her wand against the girl's head before removing the bruise paste and bandage that had been tied securely about her head. "It seems that your head is harder than it looks."

"Isn't it always?" Hope said with a wince as she was forced to down a particularly acrid tasting potion. "Gods, what is that? It's revolting!"

"Almost everything I've ever given you is revolting," the older woman said dryly, "you can leave in five minutes."

She strode away to deal with a few students who had gotten cold from the weather outside, allowing Hope the opportunity to get all the details from her friends (because Hermione had a tight grip on one arm and George had the other one in his hand without any sign of actually releasing her any time soon) and teammates.

"So, what happened?"

"Er…do you remember anything?" Angelina asked nervously.

"Yes," Hope said dryly, "a couple Dementors thinking of me as their next meal is something you don't typically forget."

All those gathered around her winced at the bite in her sarcasm; it was never a good sign.

"Well, er," Fred said uncomfortably, sharing a glance with his twin, "you sort of fell of your broom, about fifty feet; Cedric said the Dementors sort of swarmed in on you, he barely managed to catch you in time."

Hope's eyebrows furrowed together, but she must be dead to the world at that point.

"We thought you died," Alicia said, her voice laced with fear, making Hermione quiver and make a small noise as tears welled in her eyes once more.

Hope's mouth set in a firm line. How strange and how different it was now that she had people who actually cared if she lived or died…it was times like these that she wished that the school year never ended so that she wouldn't have to go back to the dreaded Dursleys.

"I'm fine," she said, trying to assuage their fears, "you heard Madam Pomfrey, I'll be out of here in no time…did we lose the match?" That was the thing she dreaded the most. She had never lost a match yet, but—

"Yeah," George admitted by her side, drawing her eyes to meet his. She couldn't help but notice just how pale he was that she could now see each and every freckle that was on his face; and she couldn't help but be flattered by his concern for her. "Madam Hooch decided to void the points of the Snitch since neither of you caught it before the Dementors got onto the field, so the points were whatever was left. We only lost by ten points, so that'll make it much easier."

"Yeah, Hope, it's not all bad," Fred agreed, squeezing her shoulder reassuringly, "if Hufflepuff loses to Ravenclaw and we beat Ravenclaw and Slytherin…"

"Hufflepuff'll have to lose by at least twenty points," George interjected.

"But if they beat Ravenclaw," Fred theorized.

"No way, Ravenclaw's too good…"

Hermione squeezed her hand and she looked up into her eyes. She and Ron had been strangely quiet throughout the whole exchange, and Ron seemed to be hiding something behind his back.

"Ron?" Hope's eyes fastened on what looked like an oddly clumped blanket. "What's that?"

Ron shared a distinctly uncomfortable look with his brothers, but they weren't going to help him with this one, he was on his own. "Er," he began, clearing his throat slightly, "well, it's about your Nimbus…"

"What about my Nimbus?" she demanded.

"Well," Hermione decided to help him with that seeing as the twins weren't going to, "when you fell off, it got blown away in the storm…and it, it hit the Whomping Willow."

Hope didn't know which was worse, that it had been utterly destroyed by the Whomping Willow, or that they had lost the match.

Hope's whole weekend was shot after that whole incident with her broom, she almost wanted to cry. She loved that broom! And now it was in bits and pieces, all because of that stupid willow tree that she wanted to have a go at with her fists, until Hermione pointed out that she would probably do more damage than good.

Sometimes Hope really hated Hermione-logic, but Hermione-logic had saved her life a couple of times, so she would bow before its omnipotence.

That being said, she was rather reluctant to go to Defence Against the Dark Arts on Monday, especially if Snape was going to be there. Apparently, the sentiment was shared with Ron –who had had to clean bedpans the last time they had met face to face (though it had been to defend Hermione, which was very sweet).

"If Snape's teaching Defe