Author Topic: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)  (Read 1448 times)

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Offline Kitulean

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Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« on: July 06, 2014, 02:23:07 PM »
Description: When Harry Potter dies trying to save her life, Daphne Greengrass takes his place to prevent the wizarding world from collapsing into a panic at the return of Voldemort and the loss of the boy-who-lived. Can she keep her secret and pretend to be the hero the world needs long enough to find a way to bring the real thing back to life? Or will she eventually stop needing to pretend?

Chapter One

Daphne Greengrass was having a decidedly trying evening.

It had begun earlier that day, just after the History Of Magic exam that had finished out her first year of education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She wasn't certain whether it was very appropriate, or exceedingly not that they had closed out the year with the exam for a subject which she had learned the least about in the actual class itself. The point remained that Binns was a joke, but her parents had ensured almost from birth that their eldest offspring and heir was well tutored in all subjects long before her actual wizarding education had begun. That included an extensive and thorough knowledge of the history of the magical world.

The illustrious position of heir to the Ancient and Most Noble House of Greengrass came with a not insubstantial amount of benefits. She never lacked for any material wealth, and the purity of her blood meant that she was destined to be a very powerful witch. Her political reach was likely limited only by her ambition.

In short, she had the entire world ahead of her.

That being said, there were a few prices to pay for such enjoyable assets. First and foremost among those was that she was expected to maintain as near to perfect marks as humanly possible. It was a condition that her father, Adelbrecht Greengrass, had stressed repeatedly throughout the year.

Not that Daphne's marks were lacking. She had remained near the top of her class throughout the year.

That, in a nutshell, was the problem. She had been near the top, but had never quite reached it. There was one student in their grade that consistently beat her in every academic category.

Hermione. Granger. The name boiled through Daphne's mind whenever she thought it, because it was Granger's fault that her father had threatened to take away her promised trip to Rome this summer. He had said that if she couldn't even outscore a muggle-born who had been a part of their world for less than a year, then she clearly wasn't trying hard enough.

With effort, Daphne had finally convinced her father to allow her to go if she could simply match Granger's marks. That had been a month earlier, and she had spent the rest of the time since cramming as much knowledge into her head as she could. She did little else other than study, so desperate was she to take this trip. Rome was going to be glorious, and it was just the escape she needed after this year.

When she wasn't studying, Daphne was glaring. She scowled with all she was worth at Granger's back, only to have the girl remain utterly oblivious throughout.

That was the most infuriating part. Daphne considered Granger to be her primary nemesis, her archenemy, while Granger herself seemed barely aware of her existence.

Finally, all that studying had been put to the test. Daphne had been confident throughout, but there was one subject which she was still tentative on. Her Defense Against The Dark Arts exam had included several questions that she was not one hundred percent confident about. So, nervous as she was about the outcome, she had decided to go and pay a visit to Professor Quirrel to see if the sorry excuse for a teacher could at least tell her whether she'd been right or not on those questions.

When she had approached the professor's office, loud voices from within had stayed her hand before she would have knocked. Standing there outside the office door with her hand raised, Daphne had tried to listen to enough to know whether it was safe to interrupt or not.

Unfortunately, every word that she had heard had convinced her that not only should she not knock, but that turning and running the other way was absolutely the best option.

There were two voices, and they seemed at first to be arguing. After a few words however, Daphne realized that one voice, the one she recognized as Quirrel's (though he wasn't stuttering), wasn't so much arguing as frantically apologizing. The second voice, unfamiliar as it was, still sent a chill through her pure-blood veins.

After only a few sentences, she had been able to pick out that Quirrel and his mysterious guest were planning to steal some kind of stone that Professor Dumbledore and the rest of the faculty had been protecting. Apparently this stone, whatever it was, held some incredible power.

The Defense against the Dark Arts professor had groveled to the other voice, begging forgiveness for his repeated failures while promising to kill anyone in the school who got in his way this time.

Hearing that, Daphne had taken a quick step back while gasping softly.

It had apparently not been a quiet enough gasp, because both voices within halted immediately. Fearful now, Daphne had turned to run. Unfortunately, before she had taken more than three steps, the door behind her had opened. She heard a muttered curse just before the stunning spell slammed into her back and knocked her sprawling and senseless.

Now, after who knew how long, the Greengrass heir was found herself tugged back to consciousness by two voices.

"Well? What do you see?"

"I see myself shaking hands with Dumbledore. I-I've won the house cup for Gryffindor."

The first was the treacherous professor. The second, however, was very obviously not the voice she had heard before. Instead, the voice was that of another.

"Potter." Daphne managed to get the name out while opening her eyes to see what was going on. She still felt groggy, but the effects of the spell that had struck her were fading. "He's evil."

Apparently Quirrel or his mystery guest had simply carted Daphne down to... wherever they were now and dumped her into a corner. Her wand was missing when her hand went to its pocket, not that she thought much of her chances against the DADA professor, let alone his companion, whoever and wherever they were.

But with Dumbledore's golden boy, the eponymous boy-who-lived here, then maybe between the two of them they would have had a chance. If she'd still had her wand.

For his part, Potter was staring at her. "Where did you come from? How did you get down here, D... Debbie?"

Merlin's blood, was he serious? "Daphne." She all but spat. Clearly Dumbledore's protege, and they all knew that's what the boy was, hadn't bothered to get to know who any of the Slytherin students outside of Malfoy and his oafs were. He probably thought they were all just like the great blonde prat, no matter any evidence to the contrary. Especially with Weasley muttering in his ear. Potter had probably been told something patently ridiculous, like that rumor that every dark wizard came from Slytherin.

Sure, because courage without reason, intelligence without compassion, and loyalty without common sense had never led to anything bad.

Not that Daphne was going to claim to be some self-sacrificing embodiment of light and good. But she thought Draco was just as much of a prick as anyone else. Which was what Potter and his ilk didn't seem to get. Very few people liked Draco. But the Malfoy family was powerful, especially within Slytherin house, which meant they had to humor the boy or risk bringing the not-insubstantial wrath of his father upon their own families.

But clearly the intricacies of politics had never occurred to the vaunted Harry Potter. He probably mentally pasted Draco's face over every Slytherin robe he saw.

"The boy lies."

Daphne and Harry both jumped at the sound of the voice, which seemed to have come from Quirrel himself, though the man hadn't actually moved his lips. Great, was their DADA teacher evil and a schizophrenic ventriloquist? Fan-bloody-tastic. What next, Dumbledore the mime?

"Potter!" Quirrel definitely spoke that time. "Get back here! Tell the truth, what did you see?"

Before Harry could speak, and while Daphne herself was still utterly baffled about what was happening, that strange voice spoke again. It still seemed to be coming from Quirrel. "Let me speak to him... face-to-face..."

Quirrel protested that, whoever it was, wasn't strong enough yet, calling him Master. While they argued, Daphne snuck a look at Potter and mouthed, 'What the hell?'. The Gryffindor boy just shook his head and started to take another step backward, motioning for her do the same.

"Potter." The voice came, again, not from Quirrel's mouth. "You will see what you have caused, what I have become."

Rooted in place, Daphne stared along with Harry while the man reached up and began to unwind the turban from his head. It was, to be quite honest, one of the last things that Daphne had expected the crazy teacher to do.

But hell, this whole night was turning out to be utter insanity anyway.

At least, Daphne had thought that she understood the term insanity. At least she had until Quirrel finished unwrapping his turban to reveal his bald head and then turned around away from them.

She screamed. It was a short, sudden shriek that burst forth before she could stop it. Hand covering her mouth, Daphne stared with wide eyes at the face that seemed to push its way out of the back of Quirrel's head. The... face was terrible, and ugly, with eyes that were a harsh red, and slits for a nose like that of a snake.

Okay honestly, with that kind of image, no wonder people thought Slytherins were evil. They made snake-person faces come out of the back of someone's head!

Potter looked just as shaken, and the snake-face thing spoke again. This time they could actually see the thin lips move when the face-thing spoke, and quite truthfully, Daphne had preferred when she had to imagine where the voice was coming from.

"Harry Potter... You see what I have become? Mere shadow and vapor. I have form only when I can share another's body. There have always been those who were willing to let me into their hearts and minds. The unicorn blood has strengthened me. You have seen my faithful Quirrel drinking it in the forest to nourish me. Now, with the Elixir of Life, I will create a new body, a better body. So why don't you give me... the Stone... in your pocket?"

Wait, stone, Elixir of Life? What was going on? Who was this—Daphne's blood ran cold. Wait. Enemy of Harry Potter, needed a new body... could this be... A whimper escaped the girl. While she had not been alive long enough to remember any of the Dark Lord's previous reign, she had certainly heard and read enough about it.

"Potter!" She hissed out of the side of her mouth. "Give him the stone." When Harry shook his head and took another step back, she stared incredulously. "Hecate's Teeth, Potter, you really think you can stop him?! I know everyone thinks you're going to be the second coming of Merlin himself, but you're not even twelve yet!"

"If he gets it," Harry said softly, his hand pressed deep into his pocket. "He'll come to power again. He'll kill a lot more people."

Her eyes rolled. "Oh and I'm sure a pair of muggle jeans and a boy who barely knows how to cast an unlock spell is a real insurmountable roadblock in that endeavor. Just survive now and let the adults handle it later."

The... the face-thing, because to call it anything else would terrify her too much, spoke again. "Listen to the girl, Harry Potter. Maybe you can both survive this. After all, I would much rather come back to kill you at the height of my power, and it will take some time for the body created by the Elixir to become viable. Years, perhaps. You could even progress far enough in your training to be vaguely less pathetic of a threat. Yes, I think that would be best."

Quirrel turned back to the two students, and Daphne sincerely hoped that he stayed turned around. Just thinking about that weird face-thing made bile rise in the back of her throat.

"Now give me the stone, boy." Quirrel demanded, lunging forward to grab Potter's arm before he could pull away. "Give it here!"

The moment that the professor's hand closed around Potter's bare arm, both of them screamed as though in agony. Daphne could see hot steam rising from the point of connection, and Quirrel almost immediately released the boy. Blisters were rising on his hand as Quirrel stared in disbelief.

"The boy burns me, Master!" Quirrel wailed. "My hands, I cannot hold him!"

"The girl." That evil voice snarled. "Kill the girl if you do not get the stone."

Then that wand was pointed at Daphne, and she found herself staring in frozen terror. "M-me? W-w-wait, I barely know him. I'm not a good hostage. He doesn't like any Slytherins."

"Too bad." Quirrel shrugged one shoulder. "You might have been useful alive then." His mouth opened, but before he could speak, he was interrupted.

"Wait!" Potter had dug the stone out of his pocket. "Wait, wait. Don't hurt her."

Daphne had to stare at the boy in a mixture of shock and confusion. What the hell was he doing? He'd been willing to die himself before handing the stone, but one threat toward her, a girl he didn't even know, and he was ready to capitulate?

"Drop it on the ground, boy." Quirrel hissed, the voice behind his head muttering in a mixture of agreement and anticipation.

Giving Daphne a sad look, Potter held the stone out, seemed to wait a moment, then abruptly threw it hard at the man's face. Quirrel flinched, and then Potter turned away, yelling for Daphne to run.

She ran, straight back toward the door, only to see black flames covering the doorway. She slowed then, only to hear Potter right on her heels shout for her to keep going.

Terrified of the fire, but even more frightened of what lay behind, Daphne ran straight for the flames. Just before she reached them, a the heavy weight of the boy on her heels crashed into her. She screamed, but Potter's arms wrapped tightly around her from behind as he tackled her forward through the flames. The boy had wrapped himself as much as he could around her slightly smaller form, covering her with his own body as they passed through the fire.

The scream of agony was terrible, deafening Daphne just before they landed hard on the floor in the room beyond. Potter couldn't stop screaming, and she had to struggle to get out from under the thrashing boy. His cries of pain were so awful that they distracted her from the painful burning sensation of her own face. She had been caught by the flames somewhat, but nowhere near what Potter had suffered.

Whirling around, Daphne stared back at the black flames they had just come through. The shadowy, insubstantial outline of Quirrel appeared on the other side. She tensed, watching with wide, terrified eyes. If he came through, what could she possibly do about it?

Nothing. There was nothing she could do. But the figure on the other side of the flames simply stood motionless for several moments, then turned and began to walk away.

When the figure didn't reappear, Daphne turned to what remained of her fellow student. She felt even more bile rise in her throat at the sight before her. The black flames had destroyed Potter's skin. His glasses lay broken several feet away, his hair had mostly been burnt off, and the smell... Her hand covering her mouth did little to muffle the scream tore its way through her ragged throat.

His eyes were on her, and he was trying to speak. Quickly, Daphne moved to him. "I-I'll get the healer, Potter-Harry. I'll get Pomfrey." She stammered uncertainly.

His blackened, charred face turned to her, and Daphne felt tears of sympathetic agony rise up as she saw how much even that little motion cost him. His mouth opened, and he was clearly trying to speak. She had to lean closer, whimpering as she did so, to hear him.

"Please." Harry's words were so soft, so pain-filled, that she could barely understand. "Don't... let him... kill... everyone.

The boy's words, to say nothing of his actions, made no sense. He was in indescribable agony, and he was worried about other people.

What kind of boy could be like that? And more importantly, what kind of boy could be like that and still be dying?

"Just-just shut up." She told him. "Shut up so you don't die, Gryffindor idiot."

That was it, wasn't it? He was going to die. The boy-who-lived was going to die. He was going to be gone, and the last person to talk to him, the last person to see him alive, wasn't his family or friends. No, the last person to talk to him was someone whose name he hadn't even known.

And yet, in spite of not knowing her name, he had risked his life-no he had spent his life, to save her, to make sure that the flames didn't kill her. He had literally wrapped himself around Daphne to use his body as a shield against the flames.

There was something heartbreakingly unfair about that.

"Promise!" It was clearly as close to a shout as he could get, his burned hand grasping toward her. "Don't... don't..." He was clearly losing himself, fading so quickly that Daphne was certain he wouldn't speak again. He did, however. "Don't... let him... come back..."

She hesitated, staring down at his pleading gaze. She was just a kid! Pure-blood heir or not, she was a kid! How was she supposed to stop HIM from rising again? As soon as people found out that not only was they-knew-who coming back, but that the-boy-who-lived was dead, they would panic. Like blind, startled sheep they'd completely fall apart. She had barely turned twelve, and even she knew that the adults were utterly terrified of that creature.

The only thing that had even slightly held the Wizarding World together was the knowledge that they-knew-who was beaten and destroyed by a single young boy. Harry Potter. To find out that the Dark Lord had come back and finished the job, and that their savior was now gone forever?

The world would shut down. People who would have fought back would give up, would surrender just because Harry Potter was gone. There would be no stopping the Dark Lord from doing anything he wanted to, from killing everyone and taking over the world.

But Mordred's Bones, she was a Slytherin. She was supposed to focus on keeping herself alive, on gaining her own power and manipulating the world into being what she thought it ought to be. She wasn't a Gryffindor or a Hufflepuff. Courage and loyalty only went so far before cunning was needed to stop things from falling apart.

Cunning... The thought came to Daphne even as Harry's gaze began to droop. He was trying, desperately, to keep staring at her pleadingly. But the pain, the agony, was getting to be too much. His body was shutting down, and there was nothing that she could do about that.

Everyone in the wizarding world would surrender, would give up, when they found out that Harry Potter had died.

If they found out.

"I promise." She said before he lost himself completely. "Harry Potter, do you hear me? I promise. He won't win. People won't give up. I won't let them. Not after what you did. Hear me? Listen to me, do you hear what I'm saying? I won't let people give up. I know you don't know me, I know you don't trust Slytherins, but we're not all bad. We're not. And we're not all on you-know-who's side. That's-Harry, listen to me. Listen, I'm not going to let him win. I won't. Say you understand. Tell me you hear me. Harry? Harry?"

Daphne had no idea how much of that he had heard, if any. But he wasn't listening anymore. He couldn't listen. He would never listen to anything else again.

The-boy-who-lived... hadn't.

He was gone.

People would be coming. They would be there soon, and then everyone would know that Harry Potter was dead.

Which meant that she had to move quickly if this was going to have any chance of working. Cringing as she reached out toward the body, Daphne felt around what was left of his pockets and gingerly brought out the wand that she had seen Harry use.

Praying that she had time, Daphne felt around in her own pockets. Quirrel had taken her wand, but he'd left the little folding mirror that she used to do her makeup. Looking at herself in it, she winced. In spite of Harry's efforts to shield her, her face had still been fairly badly burned. She could feel the pain distantly, though with everything that was happening, it wasn't yet difficult to ignore. Her face was bright red, covered in blisters and almost unrecognizable.

Good. It meant no one would recognize her at first glance. And even when her skin was healed by Pomfrey, it would take days before it was back to normal. By the time her skin had fully healed, she would be away from Hogwarts.

Raising Harry's borrowed wand to her own head, Daphne used one of the first spells she had ever memorized. It was a hair styling spell. She usually used it just to make minute changes, but this time, she had a much more drastic difference in mind.

She rid her head of almost all of her hair, reducing it to an unhealthy mop on top of her head. The sight of her poor, once glorious hair, reduced so much made her want to weep.

But there were far worse things to weep about, and she still had to move quickly.

Before long her hair was styled, or rather, unstyled, as near to what Harry's had been like as possible. Another spell from her beautification repertoire turned her hair from blonde to Potter's black. The same color change spell switched her Slytherin robes to the Gryffindor colors.

Finally, Daphne picked up Harry's broken glasses. Breathing out, still questioning what she was doing but unwilling to back off now after the promise she had made, she tapped his wand against them and said, "Oculus Reparo."

Glasses fixed, Daphne sat next to the body of Harry Potter and stared for awhile. Tears, of confusion, fear, and worse, blinded her after a few moments.

He had saved her. He had lost his life to save hers, in spite of not knowing her. Even in spite of clearly thinking little of Slytherins as a whole. Still, he had died to save her.

So the least she could do, right now, was make sure that people didn't find out. They needed the-boy-who-lived far more than they needed Daphne Greengrass.

For as long as it took, she would pretend to be him. She would take Potter's place and let everyone think that she was the one who had died. Then they would still have Harry Potter, they would still believe there was a chance to beat the Dark Lord.

Meanwhile she would use anything she could to find that stone again. If it could bring she-knew-who back, then maybe it could do the same for Harry Potter.

She would pretend to be Harry, all while finding a way to bring the real thing back to life. After what he had done, what he had suffered to save her, it was the least she could do.

Because cunning didn't mean heartless.

But there was still one more thing she had to do, one more thing that made her feel heartless. Carefully, gingerly, she took the barely recognizable body of Harry Potter, and pushed him back into the flames.

For this to work, the body had to be completely unrecognizable. It had to be burned beyond any identification beyond her own word.

The smell did make her throw up finally. Turning away from it, eyes blinded by her own tears, Daphne emptied her stomach onto the floor, sobbing uncontrollably as she did so.

She could stop. She should stop. No one would blame her. No one would even know what she had tried to do, what she had thought she had to do.

No one except herself. And the only person that Daphne Greengrass had ever felt she had to answer to was herself.

Once she was sure there was nothing left to identify, she tugged the body back out of the flames and left it so that she could fold herself into a little ball and cry.

Curled up there on the floor with her knees drawn to her chest, Daphne almost didn't hear the approaching voices until they had reached the room. Finally glancing over her shoulder to see figures approaching the purple flames that filled the opposite doorway, she knew it was time to see if this was going to work at all.

With shaking fingers, she opened the glasses and slid them onto her own face.

Wow, Harry had been all but blind, hadn't he? She could barely see through the things.

"Harry? Harry, my boy." The voice of Professor Dumbledore was as shaken as she had ever heard it. "The wards told me someone had died. I-oh no. No, what has happened?"

"Professor..." Daphne began softly, not looking at the old man. She kept her glasses-blurred gaze on the body in front of her.

"It was Professor Quirrel." Her voice was hollow, empty. She didn't even have to try to make it sound different than her own. Even she barely recognized it. "He had... he had you-know-who... on the back of his head. He wanted the stone. He took the stone. I couldn't stop him."

She felt a hand, old but strong, pull her by the arm and turn her away from the ruined body. Then her face was pressed against Dumbledore's robe, and he held her there. "Who?" He asked, his own voice full of regret and sorrow.

Eyes closed as she pressed her burned face against the Headmaster's beard, she spoke softly. "Daphne, Professor... I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Daphne Greengrass, Professor Quirrel killed her. He killed her and he took the Stone."

Offline Kitulean

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Re: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2014, 02:23:50 PM »
Chapter Two

Things moved quickly after that. The Headmaster took Daphne away from the room and the body within. She was whisked straight to the medical wing and doted on by Madame Pomfrey for several minutes. Given a salve for the burn on her face, as well as potion that the healer claimed would put her to sleep without nightmares, 'Harry' was then ordered to lay down and get some rest.

There might have also been something about how the Weasley boy was going to be just fine, but Daphne wasn't listening by that point. All she wanted to do was sleep.

Yet she didn't dare. There were still things that she had to take care of, particularly while the medical witch and the rest of the staff thought 'he' was unconscious. So she applied the burn salve and pretended to drink the potion, only to spit the mouthful out into the space between the headboard and the wall once Pomfrey turned away. By Daphne's request, the medical witch had surrounded the bed with curtains lined with privacy charms, ostensibly so that 'he' could sleep undisturbed.

Once she was left alone for a minute, Daphne took her mirror out once more and studied herself. She was lucky in that her own eyes were already green like Potter's had been. So she didn't have to worry about that. Instead, she focused on her forehead. Carefully taking Harry's wand, she whispered, "Tergeo." before gingerly tracing the very tip of the wand down from her temple into the shape of the lightning bolt scar that Potter was famous for. The cleaning charm she was using would siphon away the burn ointment and any other medicine that had been included in it, strictly from that little spot. That way, as her burned face recovered, the spot she had marked in the shape of Potter's famous scar would remain burned and would hopefully look enough like the real scar to pass.

Honestly, the things she was sacrificing to make this work. If it had been anyone else, if Potter hadn't literally killed himself to save her life, Daphne wouldn't make this much of an effort. She almost couldn't believe she was anyway.

And yet, every time she considered calling the whole thing off, she remembered Harry's pleading look as he lay dying. No, she had to do this. Whatever it took, she had to pay that debt back to him. She had to keep the Wizarding World going long enough to bring the real Harry back. Then she could be rid of all this, could produce herself and maybe even tell the truth about what she had done and why.

So these sacrifices she was making were temporary. She would bear them until her debt to Potter was fulfilled. That thought helped to quell the annoyance her Slytherin side felt about all this self-sacrificing cack.

Once Daphne was satisfied that the mark on her forehead was good enough, she left the rest of the ointment on her skin to heal before turning her attention to her next order of business. Specifically, her wand.

Yes, she had Harry's wand, but it wasn't enough. Though she knew little of Potter's home life, she did know that he lived with muggles. Muggles who might just know Harry well enough to catch her in a mistake, which meant she needed the insurance of magic. And since muggle-raised students had detection spells set on both their homes and their wands, she needed a wand that had no such trace: her own. True, she didn't know any memory adjustment spells. That in itself would have made this so much easier. But there were other spells she could use to keep herself ahead of the muggles.

And in any case, she'd simply feel better with her own wand so that she could use magic without worrying about the Trace Office throwing a fit.

Of course, if Quirrel had taken the wand with him, she was out of luck. But there was still a strong chance that it was in his office. She just had to find a way to get to it before anyone else did.

Besides, if she took the advice of Pomfrey and tried to sleep, she'd be forced to actually think about what she had witnessed. She had seen Harry Potter die, had been right there with him. If she slowed down for even a moment, if she let herself remember that she was a twelve year old girl who had just witnessed someone burned to death, she was going to shut down.

So she didn't think about it. She kept busy. She kept planning, going over everything she had to do in order to make this work.

Harry was not the first person she had seen die, which helped a little. When Daphne had been several years younger, a gang of wizards who called themselves Cruor had abducted the then-eight year old girl while she was visiting a friend.

Cruor had been a group of muggle-born wizards utterly obsessed with removing any and all claims of pure-blood superiority. Their ideas of how to go about this were quite straightforward, if rather hubristic: eventually remove all pure-blood heirs from their families, attacking the most vulnerable children until there were none left to carry on the pure-blood line.

They had taken her to a dark building. For days, the eight year old Daphne had listened to the men argue over what to do with her. She had been a test run, to see if they could successfully abduct the heir to one of the vaunted Ancient and Noble Houses. Now that they had, the group was split on what to do.

Some had wanted to kill her straight off. There had been talk of stringing up the child so that the pure-blood families would know that they weren't untouchable. Others, who clearly considered themselves the 'good' members of the fanatical child-abducting terrorists, simply wanted to obliviate her memory and put her somewhere far away where she would never be found or known for who she actually was. They argued with their more bloodthirsty companions that it would be just as good as killing her, because her family would never know where she was or what had happened for certain. They would always live with that tiny amount of hope that would never, ever be repaid.

Finally, one day while the majority of the group was away, those who remained had argued so much they came to blows. In the aftermath of that fight, one of the men who had been pushing the most for her death came to drag her out of the small, empty room they had been keeping her in. Apparently he had grown tired of the arguments, so he was simply going to kill her and get it over with.

When the man shoved her up against the hard stone wall and pressed his wand to her nose before asking if she had any last words, Daphne had done the only thing she could. She'd brought both of her small hands up to the man's wand and gave it a sharp yank upward until it had snapped in half.

Furious when his wand was broken, the man had thrown her to the ground and kicked her so hard her arm had broken. He'd kicked her again, making it clear that he meant to stomp her to death if he couldn't curse her. Fortunately, before his third kick could land, the rest of the group had come around the corner to see what all the noise was about. One of them, upon seeing what his companion was doing, had killed the man with the death curse. Daphne, curled into a ball on the floor, had seen the man's lifeless eyes as he fell right next to her.

That had begun a free-for-all, with spells flying every which way. The eight year old Greengrass girl had been forced to hide under the only available cover, the dead man who had been trying to kill her.

Seconds later, there were several more bodies for her to see. As Daphne had crawled out from under the dead body she'd been using as a shield, she'd found herself standing in a hallway full of dead men. She'd had to begin picking her way carefully through the fallen bodies. Eight of the nine men who had stayed in the house were dead.

Only one of the men had survived to the end, and he had been thoroughly poisoned by a summoned snake. Daphne had thought he was dead as well, until his hand caught her foot. She had screamed shrilly, but the man, whose name she had never learned, simply whispered harshly for the girl to get out of the house and go home before the rest of the group got back. He'd said that she'd suffered enough, seen enough, and that she could go.

Before she'd reached the door, the dying man had given her one last piece of advice, one last hint to surviving in this world. He'd said that they had failed because they had no idea what they were going to do once they had her. They hadn't had a plan. Personally, Daphne had thought being batcrap crazy murderous lunatics had done them in more, but the advice had held. To succeed in the world, she should always have a plan.

Daphne had escaped, and eventually put that abduction behind her, for the most part. But that was advice she was taking to heart now, and the memory of walking through the dark corridor lined with the fallen bodies of her abductors helped her not collapse into a sobbing, broken wreck after seeing Harry's death.

Quietly slipping off the bed, Daphne tugged the privacy curtain away to peek out. Weasley was sleeping in the bed next to hers, and Granger was reading a book on one of the nearby chairs.

Carefully closing the curtain once more, she cursed under her breath. Of course. Granger was one of Harry's best friends. Which meant that, again Granger was making a nuisance of herself. And again, she clearly had no idea that she was.

Scowls sent through privacy curtains apparently accomplished even less as far as penetrating Hermione's conscience than scowls sent across the Great Hall did. Daphne needed a new idea.

Sighing, she looked around at the small enclosed space she had to work with. She could wait for Hermione to fall asleep, but there was little guarantee that she'd be left alone for long after that. She had to find a way to get down to Quirrel's office while the staff was still focused on the room where the stone had been and... the body.

Besides the bed, there was a chair for a visitor inside the curtain. Dumbledore had collected something from the floor of the room he had found her in and left it on the chair before he left, but she hadn't been paying much attention. Now she did, just in case there was something that could help.

It was a cloak. Curious, Daphne picked it up off the chair. The cloak was fairly nice, all things considered. She'd had no idea that Harry owned something this extravagant.

When she draped the cloak over her arm, Daphne became quite glad for the privacy charms, because she yelped loudly as her arm vanished from sight. What kind of cloak was this?! Slowly, she grasped for where the cloak was and pulled it up, revealing her arm still in one piece.

It was an invisibility cloak. Potter had an invisibility cloak. And a good one from the looks of it, if she was any kind of judge. How had that happened? An invisibility cloak cost thousands of galleons, let alone a well made one like this. And that was on the rare occasion that one could be found. Daphne's father had been looking for a decent cloak for the past couple of years, but the only ones he had found were running low on enchantment so the invisibility kept slipping. Even then they had all cost more than a top of the line racing broom.

Well however Potter had come across this cloak, it just made things easier. Smiling gratefully, Daphne carefully slipped the cloak on and pulled the hood up and over her own head. Then she took a moment to admire her lack-of-self.

Opening the side of the curtains opposite from where Granger was sitting, Daphne took a breath and then stepped around and into the middle of the room. Hermione, as usual, paid no attention. This time, at least, Daphne was glad for it, though she almost couldn't resist flicking the back of the other girl's head.

Then she remembered that, though they didn't know it, both Granger and Weasley had lost their best friend that day. And because of her, they didn't even get to know. Her only consolation for not feeling like a complete monster was that she was planning on bringing him back, so that they wouldn't ever have to grieve.

It helped to think of it that way, but she still lowered her hand and walked on without bothering the other girl.

The door into the medical wing was closed, but it was only vaguely within Hermione's peripheral vision, and she seemed to be entirely absorbed in her book anyway. Daphne had the vague idea that she very well might have been able to escape the room even without the invisibility cloak. Still, she kept a close eye on the girl while slowly turning the knob and only opened the door enough to slip through the opening.

In the corridor outside of the medical wing, she looked both ways, pulled the cloak tighter around herself, and then ran toward Quirrel's classroom and office.

When she reached the open classroom door, Daphne peeked inside and found that there was good news and bad news. The good news was that she had indeed reached the room ahead of the teachers. The bad news was that the room wasn't empty. Draco Malfoy and his two thugs were inside, clustered around the door into Quirrel's office.

Frowning as she stood at the classroom doorway, Daphne wondered what they were doing there.

"Just watch the door, imbeciles." Draco hissed at the other two. "Let me know if anyone comes in. My father finally trusts me to contribute, and I'm not going to let you idiots ruin it for me."

While Daphne carefully walked into the room, mindful of any noise she might make, Crabbe raised his hand, as if they were in class. "But, uhh, what if a teacher comes? Like Quirrel."

"Quirrel isn't coming back." Draco's eyes rolled dramatically. "Father says that everything's going to change soon, and it's all because of Professor Quirrel. But he said that Quirrel had to leave before he could get something important out of his office, a book."

"What kind of book?" Goyle spoke up, sounding even more confused than Crabbe. "Your dad's got lots of books."

Poor Draco looked like he wanted to strangle both boys with their own ties. "It's a very special, very certain book. It's got Riddle written on the inside, and it's very, very important. So it's my job to get that book and give it to my father, and it's you two idiots job to make sure no one sees me take it. Especially Fumblebore. Now shut up."

Draco slipped into the office, while the other two boys took up positions side by side in front of the door. Silently thanking Harry's invisibility cloak once again, Daphne slipped up beside Goyle. Holding her breath, she crouched next to the boy and reached out to untie his shoelaces. She could have done the same using a spell with Potter's wand, but it would have meant saying the spell aloud, and she didn't want to risk either of them hearing.

After untying Crabbe's laces as well, she tied both of the boys shoelaces together so that Goyle's right shoe was tied to Crabbe's left. Then she stood and prepared hit Goyle. It was something she'd wanted to do for quite a long time, actually. The two boys were as annoying as they were stupid. But their families were pure-blood, and they were close personal friends of Draco. So anything she did would get reported back to her own father, which would just make everything worse.

Politics, even first year Slytherins had to understand and follow them. Not for the first time, Daphne wished she could be a Gryffindor just for a day so that she could experience the freedom of absolute certainty that her every first thought was the right one, rather than having to think three or four reactions into the future with everything she did.

Then she remembered that, for this moment, she was a Gryffindor, and let loose with her hand, smacking Goyle upside the back of his head. The boy howled in pain, jerking his head back reflexively, which made him hit the door with it and made him yelp even more. His arm lashed out, but Daphne had already danced away.

Crabbe had time to blurt out a demand about what was going on, before Goyle's staggering yanked the shoelaces tight and brought both boys crashing to the ground.

Being brave but shortsighted was so liberating she almost giggled.

The door into the office was yanked open once more, as Draco stormed out to glare at his struggling minions. "What are you squibs doing?" He hissed in frustration.

Taking the opening, Daphne slipped behind Draco and into the room while he argued with the other two. Casting her eyes around the office, she walked quickly to the desk and slid open a drawer. Nothing but quills and parchment.

Glancing up at the doorway, she hurriedly opened the next drawer down and found what she was looking for. Her wand lay on top of a pile of graded exams.

Unable to resist the temptation, she flipped through the exams until she found her name. "Only an E?" She hissed under her breath. "Now I know you're evil, jerk."

As she was straightening up, Daphne noticed another item in the drawer. It was a strange, leather bound book. It looked like a journal of some kind, only when she opened it up, there was no writing in the pages.

There was, however, a very faint inscription on the inside front page. T. M. Riddle. Frowning uncertainly, Daphne thought about what Draco had said. Apparently his father had something to do with Quirrel, and he wanted this book. That might mean that the book would give her a clue as to how to find Quirrel and the stone.

Tucking the diary away just as Draco entered the room once more, Daphne very carefully eased the drawer shut and stepped away from the desk.

Just as Draco was passing by, he stopped and turned to look right at her. Daphne's eyes widened, but she remained silent. Draco took a step toward her and leaned closer, seeming to stare directly into her eyes.

Then he stuck his tongue out, flicked a bit of his white-blonde hair back, and rubbed at a spot on his otherwise perfect teeth. He was mugging directly into her face like it was a... a... Daphne risked a glance behind herself. A mirror. Draco was taking time out of his breaking and entering to check himself out in the mirror. Daphne was offended on behalf of every other first year Slytherin that this ponce was considered the cream of their crop.

It wasn't hard to slip out past the two thugs once again, but she couldn't resist giving Crabbe his own smack before hustling out of the room as the two boys devolved into a shouting match once again.

After a quick side trip to her own room in the Slytherin dormitory to collect all of the money she had saved up, and a few other things that she thought she might need, Daphne made her way back to the hospital wing.

Now, she was finally ready to sleep. The next day was going to come very quickly, and she still had to convince Potter's friends that she was the boy himself.

v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~

Hours later, Daphne was awoken as Madame Pomfrey swept the privacy curtain out of the way and came to the bed to examine 'him'. Rolling over, still groggy, she mumbled a demand to be left alone.

Instead, the school nurse made 'Mr. Potter' sit up while she gave 'his' face a thorough examination. She frowned and straightened, shaking her head. "Your scar seems to have rejected the burn ointment."

"It does that." Daphne claimed. "It doesn't like medicine. Must be the residual effect of the curse." It sounded good enough to her, and more importantly, she knew that Pomfrey couldn't dispute it. After all, it wasn't like there was a wealth of people who had survived the killing curse to draw comparison data from.

Clicking her tongue distastefully, Pomfrey looked like she was considering some other solution. Before she could push too much, Daphne shook her head. "It feels better than it looks, really." What would a Lion say? What would a brave, self-sacrificing, moralizing lion say? "Don't worry about me. Please, can I see my friends?"

Reluctantly, Pomfrey nodded and stepped aside. Immediately, 'Harry' found 'himself' set upon by two fast moving blurs. Weasley and Granger both flung themselves at 'him', much to Pomfrey's consternation. They hugged 'Harry' tightly and both started babbling questions at him about what he had seen.

Finally, Ron spoke out ahead of Hermione. "Is it true, mate? Quirrel escaped with the stone and someone... someone died?"

Dropping her gaze, Daphne let out a long, low sigh. Her eyes closed and she consciously lowered her voice a little. She couldn't match Harry's voice exactly, but she hoped neither of them would notice. "Yeah. Daphne Greengrass."

"Oh..." Ron's own gaze dropped. Then the Weasley boy looked up again and offered, "At least it was a snake, not a lion?"

It was with open mouthed shock that Daphne stared at him, too stunned to react properly. Granger, however, reacted by smacking Ron upside the back of his head while hissing, "Ronald Weasley, you horrible git!"

"Ow!" Weasley covered his head and looked confused. "What? What'd I say?"

Feeling her own eyes fill with tears in spite of herself, Daphne slid out of bed. With a muttered excuse, she snatched the invisibility cloak and ran from the room while the other two were still arguing. Pomfrey looked startled and called out for 'Harry' to stop, but Daphne ignored the woman and went into the hall.

"Harry?" Professor Dumbledore stood in the corridor, watching 'him' with kindly eyes. "How are you feeling?"

Daphne's mouth opened, and she very nearly said, 'I'm not Harry, I'm Daphne'. Instead, she simply muttered, "What's going to happen to her body?"

The Headmaster winced, and laid a hand on 'his' shoulder. "Let's take a walk. These old bones become far too cramped and slow sitting around all year. I find myself needing to stretch my legs more and more if I'm not to simply become a great old gargoyle, hunched over my desk. Then you shall all have to move me out to replace the one in front of the office and find yourselves a new Headmaster."

As they walked down the hall, Dumbledore kept his hand on 'Harry's' shoulder. "I'm afraid there... isn't a lot left of Miss Greengrass. But what remains there are will be sent to her family for burial. An announcement will be made at breakfast today, and there will be a school wide memorial throughout the end of year feast tomorrow."

The headmaster's voice turned softer then. "Would you like to attend Miss Greengrass's funeral, Harry? I'm quite certain I can arrange that, if it would be of any help."

Quickly, Daphne shook her head. "No, sir. I don't think I should intrude. I barely knew her." She also wasn't certain of her ability to keep up this charade if she saw her grieving parents and little sister Astoria. Better to avoid the entire situation until this was finished.

Though he looked like he might dispute that, Dumbledore let it go after a moment. His hand squeezed her shoulder. "Would you tell me everything that happened in that room?"

Oh boy. This was going to be tricky. "I don't... really remember all of it." She said carefully, not looking at the man. "I don't know why, but... some of it is just a blur." Quickly, before the headmaster could suggest a pensieve or memory charm, she went on, "I remember... getting the stone from the big mirror..." That much she had been able to figure out, even if she had no idea how Harry had done that.

"The Mirror of Erised." Dumbledore nodded. "Only one who wanted to take the stone without using it could have found it. Very well done, Harry."

"Daphne was there..." She continued, picking out how to explain this. "And Quirrel unwrapped his head. There was... a face on the back of his head, Professor. I think it was-" She choked, unable to continue the thought.

"Voldemort. I see." Dumbledore didn't look so much surprised as he did resigned. "Please go on." He produced a small bag of Bertie Bott's Beans and offered it to her after taking a single bean himself and rolling it between his fingers. "Please, tell me everything you remember. Anything you can think of."

She told him a modified version of what had happened. In her version, 'he' and Daphne had both run for the exit, and Daphne had been the one to save him. Her eyes filled with real tears then, as she thought of what the real Harry had done. There was nothing fake about the emotion, even if she was bending the specifics slightly.

"I'm sorry, Professor." 'He' said in a miserable tone of voice. "I couldn't help hi-" She coughed. "Her."

Turning 'Harry' to face him, Dumbledore embraced 'him'. "It is not for you to save everyone, my boy."

His voice turned so soft that Daphne wasn't certain that she'd heard him right. "... Not yet."

v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~

The next couple of days went as Daphne has assumed they would. Slytherin House seemed to be in a state of shock at her 'death', and even most of the students from the other Houses stopped by her memorial in the Great Hall to pay their respects.

Weasley stopped by the memorial as well, looking properly chastised and regretful. He clearly hadn't thought whatsoever about what he had been saying, and he'd spent most of the last two days apologizing to 'Harry' for being insensitive.

Daphne had told him that 'he' needed the summer to think it over. Let the duffer stew for awhile. Maybe next time he'd put a single thought into what he said before simply blurting it out of his mouth. 'At least she wasn't a Lion' indeed.

At the feast for the final night, people were staring at 'Harry' when 'he' took 'his' place at the Gryffindor table. The older Weasley twins proudly sat down across from 'him' and began to talk about something Peeves had done while 'he' had been indisposed. On 'his' right hand side, Hermione tried to shush them, while Ron, on 'his' left side, continued to babble about something his favorite Quidditch player had done over the previous weekend.

All of the sound stopped when Professor Dumbledore rose, as their eyes turned to the Headmaster.

"My dear, dear friends." Dumbledore began, his sparkling blue eyes sweeping across the room as he held his arms wide as though to encompass everyone in it. "We here, at the end of this long year, find ourselves short one... precious student."

All eyes in the room turned toward the Slytherin table. Daphne thought she could hear Pansy sniffle. Part of her wished she could tell her friend the truth, but as much as she didn't want the other girl to hurt, she also didn't trust her to keep such a big secret. And she was certain that Pansy would try to talk her out of this insane plan.

Dumbledore went on. "We have all paid our respects and wishes to Miss Daphne Greengrass in the past day. But I for one would like to pay my own respect I my own way."

"Daphne Greengrass died because she exemplified the spirit of House Unity that we should all of us embrace. In her last moments, when most would have caved to fear, Daphne saved the life of another, at the cost of her own.

Now everyone was looking toward 'Harry', and Daphne found herself sinking slightly in her seat, uncomfortable.

The Headmaster continued after a moment. "I believe that Daphne's sacrifice, for a member of another House, should not be forgotten. To that end, I am immediately and permanently removing the House Cup as its system currently exists."

That caused an uproar among the students, which faltered and then died as Dumbledore looked each of them in the eye before moving on. "Our new House Cup system, one which, I believe, embraces the ideals of school unity, will be as follows."

The school was silent, waiting to hear what sort of change was being made to the beloved and long-lived House Cup system.

"From now on, there will be two separate point totals to be tallied at the end of the year. Houses will no longer compete with one another, but against a single static number. If their House Point total reaches this number at the end of the year, every member of the House will be rewarded with a trip into Hogsmeade on the last day, along with several other prizes."

"The second tally will be of every point from every House. Each House's total points will be added together. If this second tally reaches a certain level, then each and every student in every House will be given a very special award, of my own devising." Dumbledore winked at them mischievously. "Please do win, my dear students, I so wish to be creative next year."

The Weasley twins both raised their hands and spoke together when the Headmaster looked at them. "What about the Cup this year, Professor?"

"This?" Dumbledore extended his hand, and the House Cup floated to him. He held it up, and then a broad smile lit his face. "In this case, I believe everyone has earned the Cup, Misters Weasley. So, everyone shall have it."

In a single motion, the Headmaster tossed the House Cup out into the middle of the room. He drew his wand as it flew and pointed it at the spinning trophy. A light went off, everyone shielded their eyes, and then Daphne felt something land in her lap.

Looking down, she found the trophy lying there. To either side of her, Weasley and Granger were picking up their own versions. All the way up and down the table, and in the rest of the Great Hall, everyone else had their own trophies.

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled, and he lifted his own version of the trophy, taking a bite out of the top. "Mmmm." He announced with a smile while everyone stared. "Everyone could use a bit of chocolate at times."

Hesitantly, Daphne took a tiny nibble off the edge of the trophy. Sure enough, it was delicious, perfect sweet chocolate, for everyone.

"Never forget what Daphne Greengrass has taught us." Professor Dumbledore intoned, while everyone began to try their treats. "Whatever House you may belong to, we are all people. We all love, and we all experience loss. And anyone, anyone at all, from any House, may change things for the better."

Relative silence reigned for a few minutes as the students absorbed that. Then, as conversations slowly started up once again, Ron nudged 'Harry'. "You gonna be all right at your aunt and uncle's place? If they act up too much, send Hedwig. We'll talk mum into letting us come rescue you."

'Harry' just smiled slightly, shaking 'his' head. With the strange journal in her pocket, Daphne was barely thinking about the real Harry's muggle family. She had much, much more important things to focus on.

After all, how bad could one muggle family be?

Offline Kitulean

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Re: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2014, 06:10:35 AM »
Chapter Three

Standing alone in the train station at the end of the next day, Daphne adjusted her internal question from 'how bad could they be' to 'do they even exist?'. The train had arrived and let them off almost thirty minutes earlier, and her--or rather, Harry's friends had drifted off with their own families after transitioning from Platform Nine and Three Quarters to the muggle train station. A couple of halfhearted offers had been made to stick around until these 'Dursleys' showed up, but 'Harry' had waved them off.

She had thought that the delay would give her just enough time to check her face in the restroom. The burn ointment was doing its job well, and her skin would be back to normal, save for the scar she had made, within the next day. Already, people had commented that 'Harry's' skin seemed much healthier and softer than it had been. Thankfully, they were content to assume it was the burn cream's doing.

With any luck, Harry's muggle family wouldn't notice after not seeing him for nine months, and by the time she went back to school in the fall, people would accept that 'he' had simply changed in that time as well.

But now that this area of the station was empty save for a single muggle man with a broom, the nonflying variety, she assumed, sweeping up the trash in one corner.  Daphne was suddenly worried that Harry had been planning on getting home on his own. What if he was supposed to use one of the muggle transportations, like a bus? She knew about the Knight Bus, but had never actually seen it. Her family were strictly and proudly wizards, without any love for most of the muggle-inspired technologies. Her grandfather had even frowned at the idea of the Hogwarts Express rather than thestral-drawn carriages taking them the whole way. She did know that the second through seventh years rode thestral-drawn carriages from Hogsmeade to the castle itself, in recognition of that time before the train.

If Harry had had any other plans for how he was getting home other than 'wait on the Platform', Daphne was rather buggered.

While she waited and debated with herself, Daphne drummed her fingers along the top of Harry's owl's cage, itself attached to the top of the luggage. She had used her own non-traced wand to charm the owl to sleep through the trip, repeating it a couple of times rather than risk the animal causing a fuss every time it woke up. Clearly Hedwig knew that she wasn't really Harry Potter, and Daphne had not yet decided what she could do about that.

“You, boy!” The harsh voice brought Daphne's gaze up to see who was being shouted at. It took a moment for her brain to orient that she was the target. Right, 'boy'. Finally, she looked toward the voice.

A large, ruddy-faced man was stomping her way. Spittle flew from his mouth as Daphne watched in a mixture of fascination and disgust. “What the bloody hell do you think you're doing, boy?!” His meaty hand lashed out and caught hold of Daphne's arm so tightly that she gasped in pain, before he began to drag her back to the entrance. She was barely able to hold onto Harry's luggage and drag it behind in her other hand.

The whole way off the platform, the man was muttering to himself. “Stupid boy, ungrateful abnormal snot.” His hand squeezed even tighter, and Daphne was certain he was bruising her now. “Told you sixteen times, meet us outside the station. We didn't want to see any more of your freak types. Sixteen times we said it, sixteen! Meet us outside on the street. Is that too much to get through your thick skull, boy?”

Daphne was so confused and take aback by the treatment that she forgot to be indignant for a moment. “You're hurting me.” She pointed out, her matter-of-fact voice more a product of her own surprise than any real self-control.

“Hurting you?” The man turned his eyes to her and glared so hatefully that Daphne would have taken a step back if he hadn't been holding her arm so tightly. “You want to see hurt, you selfish boy? I'll show you hurt if you don't be quiet!”

By that point, they had reached the street. Daphne came up short, staring with wide eyes. There were loud muggle contraptions-cars she reminded herself, sort of like small versions of the 'bus'. Everywhere she looked there were cars, flashing lights and signs, and muggles of every shape and size wearing positively scandalous clothing.

She had known there were a lot of muggles, but had all of them chosen to be on this street at the same time for some national holiday?

Finding himself yanked off balance as 'Harry' abruptly stopped short and planted 'his' feet, the Dursley man turned back with a newly furious look. “Boy!” He hissed as though afraid of anyone overhearing. “I swear, if you don't come with me this instant and get in this car, you'll be scrubbing every inch of the house with your toothbrush. Inside and out!”

“With my wha--” Daphne reflexively began to ask, just before the man yanked her arm so hard it seemed to almost come out of its socket. Yanking open the rear door of the nearest muggle car, he shoved her inside and then slammed the door so quickly that he nearly caught her hand in it. Then he snatched up the luggage and moved to throw it into a compartment in the back, slumbering owl and all.

She wrinkled her nose a little at the strange smell inside the vehicle, using one hand to adjust the glasses that kept slipping on her face. She had already popped the lenses out and replaced them with regular glass that she had transfigured into the right shape and size so she could see properly through them, but she hadn't quite finished fixing the rims to fit right.

“Mummy!” The sudden shout startled Daphne so much that her hand flew to her pocket where her wand was, even as she whipped around to stare at the boy sitting to the right of her. She hadn't noticed him at first, though in hindsight it was hard to say how she'd missed him. He wasn't exactly small, and she was fairly certain the strange smell was coming from him. There was also a massive ice cream cone that the boy was clearly enjoying (that is, if any had reached his mouth rather than just being smeared across his face, hands, and shirt) clutched in one pudgy hand.

“Mummy! Harry's not wearing his seatbelt!”

Again, Daphne started to ask, “My wh--”

She was interrupted by a thin, vulture-faced woman turning around from the passenger seat in front of Daphne. Her eyes were not quite as furious as the man's had been, but they weren't kind either. They seemed more ashamed than angry, as though she was afraid of being seen in this place. “Put your seat belt on, now.” She hissed.

The other front door opened and then the large man all but hurled himself in before slamming the door. “The stupid boy was just standing there.” He began to complain as the engine of the vehicle started with a sudden roar that made Daphne jump. “Just standing there! Like he expected us to come get him! How many times did we tell him, Petunia?”

“Sixteen, dad!” The pudgy boy piped up unhelpfully. “And Harry still ain't put his seat belt on!” A dollop of the ice cream fell onto his leg. The boy shoved his thick fingers through it and then pushed them into his mouth with a triumphant look at her.

Both the man and the woman screeched demands that 'he' put on this seat belt, whatever it was, so Daphne turned her attention toward figuring out what they were talking about. A look toward the disgusting boy with the ice cream showed the strap across his lap, and she saw the big man in front pull a similar strap over himself, though that one crossed his chest as well as his lap.

Further investigation to her own side of the vehicle revealed the belt itself, which she pulled across her lap and dropped on the other side before frowning uncertainly when the belt failed to tighten or secure itself.

Those beady, angry eyes were staring at her in the mirror that hung in the front of the vehicle. “You, boy, have just bought yourself the weekend cleaning out the rain gutters. Now stop being a muppet and put your ruddy seat belt on!”

Looking at the ugly boy's belt once more, Daphne finally saw the other end of the belt, where it was apparently supposed to go. Finding the matching part of her own belt, she compared the two and then pushed them together until they clicked.

Finally satisfied, the Dursleys pulled away from the curb. The man, whose name she was still not certain of, ranting the whole way. “I told you, Petunia. I told you they'd spoil the good-for-nothing boy. Those freaks of his, those abnormals, they've already got him going around thinking he's better than good, decent people. Thinking he can ignore us, us! We took him in out of the goodness of our hearts, and what do we get in return? Spite. Hateful spite.”

“Well I'll not put up with it, boy!” The man's attention was on her again, so Daphne met his gaze. “I'll not have it, I tell you. I simply will not have it!” He bellowed, raising one hand to point at her while he kept the other on the wheel that apparently served to steer the vehicle. “I will have respect, I will have order, I will have--”

“Vernon, the road!” The vulture-woman cried out, as a very large muggle vehicle pulled across the road in front of them.

The big man, Vernon apparently, turned back around and gasped. The muggle carriage shrieked to a stop just before it would have hit the other vehicle, and Daphne was quite glad that she had worked out the so-called seat belt beforehand, as the momentum jerked it taut across her lap and she barely prevented her face from rebounding off the seat ahead of her.

No wonder Potter had been so at home in dangerous situations. Muggle vehicles were clearly utter death traps. If he had grown up with these things, the Forbidden Forest must have seemed positively tame.

As she recovered, Daphne saw the boy turn his ice cream cone over and let it go. Smirking at 'him', the boy whined. “Muuuuummy, I dropped my ice cream! It's Harry's fault, he made Dad almost crash and then I dropped it!”

The woman turned around in her seat, shot a hateful stare at 'Harry', and then focused on the boy. “Oh my poor ickle Diddykins! Don't worry, Mummy will get you a new, better ice cream. Vernon, stop by the store on the way home.”

“And Harry doesn't get one?” The boy asked with a pout, as though if Harry had gotten one, it would ruin the one that he himself had.

“Of course not, Diddykins.” The boy's mother soothed him reassuringly. “Ice cream is for brave, strong, smart boys.”

Diddykins, Daphne thought to herself. Diddykins Dursley. Muggles had such strange names.


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Throughout that evening, Daphne remained quiet and watchful. She said nothing when Diddykins positively glorified in shoving his ice cream close to her face and then licked it noisily. His ice cream that was. If he'd licked her face, she would have been sent straight to Azkaban for what she would've done to him.

Even when they returned to the Dursley... abode, and Daphne found herself unceremoniously shoved into what amounted to a broom closet under the stairs, with Harry's luggage tossed in after her, she still said nothing. She didn't rant and rage against the unfairness. Partly because Harry himself, saint that he clearly was, had apparently put up with it for so long. But mostly because that wasn't how she operated. Maybe real Gryffindors would attack a problem head-on, with lots of bluster and defiance. But she wasn't really a lion. She was a snake, and that was how she fought: sneakily and only when she knew she had the advantage.

Honestly, she had no idea how the real Harry Potter could stand these people. They were demanding, selfish, ignorant, and so utterly, pathetically mundane. They were rude and their precious Diddykins was worse than any of the boys at Hogwarts. Even Draco Malfoy, spoiled snot that he was, could at least do a few things himself. This particular fat, useless lump did less physical labor than pure-blood wizard students!

She worked through the evening in those cramped quarters, carefully preparing everything that she could for her-- and Harry's-- payback. Only in the middle of the night did she carefully emerge and quietly sneak through the house to find the kitchen. For the rest of her plan, she needed fire to cook with. An actual potions lab would be ideal, but she could work with what was available.

It was an adventure and a half figuring out how to use the muggle stove. There were so many knobs and buttons that Daphne finally just twisted all of them and waited until the surface was hot enough to put her prepared cauldron on. Then she worked out which knobs made that part of the surface hotter through trial and error. The rest were switched off.

She was just glad that the revenge that she had in mind didn't call for extremely specific temperatures. All she needed was a boil, and the muggle contraption could at least manage that much.

That was the funny thing about the statute that restricted underage magic. In addition to not applying to students who lived only with other wizards (since the whole point was to stop kids from doing things that muggles would notice), it also didn't apply to potions. Or, more to the point, potions couldn't be restricted the way that spells could. So while Daphne couldn't openly use her magic inside the house (every muggle raised student's muggle house was monitored as well as their wand), she could use potions.

It was a loophole that she planned to take thorough advantage of.

Once the potion was ready, Daphne opened the nearest window to let it air out while she ladled it into the vial that she had prepared. Then she shut down the muggle stove and made her way back to the tiny cupboard masquerading as Harry's room.

The owl was awake when she opened the door, its cage crammed into one corner. When she saw who had come in, the bird made a sharp noise of anger and drew back, puffing up all of her feathers.

“Right.” Daphne sighed. “Okay, listen. Listen to me, bird.” Taking Harry's glasses off, she set them aside and then crouched in front of the owl's cage. “Listen, I am not trying to hurt you, or Harry. I'm--” The owl nipped at her finger when she put her hand near the cage, making her yelp and draw her hand back before hissing, “Knock it off, would you? Harry-- Harry's gone. He's gone, but I'm going to try to bring him back. That's why I'm doing this. That's why I can't let other people know he's dead. Because if they did, there might not be a wizarding world for him to come back to.”

Hedwig continued to gaze at her reproachfully, but this time she didn't peck at Daphne's fingers when they came back near the cage. “I'm going to take care of you until he comes back. I know I'm not him, but I have to pretend until I find a way to get the real thing back. But I can't do that if you go on acting like I'm a demon.” Carefully, she let her fingers enter the cage. “Can we get along until I get him back?”

The owl stared at her for another moment, then leaned in and gave her fingers a nudge with its beak. It wasn't quite a nuzzle, but it wasn't a bite either. Daphne was taking that for a win.

One problem down. And in the morning, she'd take care of the one labeled 'muggle blowhards'.

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A harsh banging on the low ceiling of the room that morning had alerted Daphne that it was time to set the the next part of her plan into motion. She had already been told the night before that breakfast would be her responsibility, which was exactly what she was now counting on.

Emerging from the cupboard, she was just in time to hear Diddykins whining about how hungry he was, while Vernon bellowed his own demands. The woman, Petunia, she had found at some point the day before, shoved a pan and a spatula into her hands and ordered 'Harry' to make bacon and eggs.

Right, bacon and eggs. Luckily, Daphne did actually know how to do that, unlike most witches her age, from a family like hers. In the years after she had escaped from her abductors, it had been very hard for her to sleep the whole night through. She had begun wandering through the large mansion in the middle of the night. Hungry and bored, her nine year old self had attempted to make her own breakfast.

The resulting mess had alerted the family house-elf, Lanky, who had quickly cleaned up the mess before preparing food for Daphne himself. Over the next few weeks, Daphne regularly made her way downstairs in the middle of the night and found Lanky ready to make whatever she wanted. Having little else to do, she had taken to watching the house-elf prepare the food, and eventually graduated to making it herself while Lanky looked anxiously on and occasionally smacked his head with the spatula while lamenting that he was being a bad elf by making Miss Greengrass work.

Still, it meant that she could make the food, and add her own special ingredient to one of the plates when no one was looking. Which was pretty much any time, since Vernon had his head buried in the muggle newspaper, while Petunia incessantly praised ickle Diddykins for... Daphne was going to guess existing, because he certainly hadn't done anything else unless gaseous bodily functions and whining were accolade-worthy achievements. Okay, to be fair, the sheer amount of said functions might have been commendable. Perhaps the fact that no one had yet killed the little snot was the source of the acclaim.

Once the breakfast was ready, she carefully set the plates out, giving Diddykins his first, then Vernon, then Petunia. When she went to set the fourth plate down, she found everyone staring at her.

“What do you think you're doing, boy?” Vernon tapped a thick finger impatiently against the table.

Was this a trick question? “Putting my food down?”

“Your food?!” The ugly, hateful muggle man thundered. “One year at that freak school and you think you can take food out of our mouths?”

The response came before she could stop it. “Well no, I wouldn't dare try to snatch food out of your mouths. I value my fingers attached where they are.”

Three identical looks of utter shock met that comment, and a second later the plate full of food that she was holding went flying as Vernon slapped it out of her hand. “Get back to your room!” He shouted, face reddening from his rage. “And don't ever talk back to me again, you ungrateful little brat!”

Diddykins, meanwhile, had begun shoveling food into his mouth with a rapidity that would have convinced Daphne that the boy had been starved for days or even weeks had she not borne witness to his frantic eating the night before.

Rather than flee back to the hole that they called Harry's room, she simply stood still and watched Vernon evenly.

“That is it.” The man threw down his napkin and stood from his chair so violently that it was flung back to the floor behind him. He reached for 'Harry', but a sudden shriek from Petunia interrupted him.

“VERNON! Look at my poor Diddykins! Look what he did to him!”

Where the fat boy had been sitting, there was now a squat brown pig that made a oink of distress before slipping off the chair and running to butt his head against his mother's leg. The sight made Daphne smile faintly. The potion she had laced the boy's breakfast with had done its job.

A second later, Daphne found herself lifted off the ground by both shoulders as Vernon hauled her up and shoved her against the wall with nearly enough force to take her breath away. “You little freak!” He shouted, showering her face with his angry spittle. “You will change my boy back this instant!”

Daphne looked back at him calmly, her answer a single word. “No.”

Again, he shoved her back against the wall, harder this time. “What did you say?!”

She didn't break his gaze. “I said no.” Her shoulders raised as much as they were able. “What are you going to do, exactly, if I don't? Let me run you through it. I do nothing, he's a pig. You hurt me, I continue to do nothing, he's a pig. If I never change him back, what can you do to fix him? Can your muggle medicine fix it?”

Vernon turned to look at where Petunia was hugging the pig to her chest and sobbing. Now that his initial rage had failed to gain the result he wanted, he seemed to be at a loss.

“I will change him back.” Daphne continued, drawing both adults attention back to her. “On my terms. First, put me down.”

The man glowered, and looked as if he might still break 'Harry' out of spite. Only a desperate plea from his wife made him relent and drop the 'boy'.

Rubbing her shoulders, Daphne nodded. “Now, I will change him back to normal... at the end of the summer.” That announcement was met with a wail from Petunia and a bellow from Vernon, but she simply held up her hand and continued. “IF you leave me alone until then. I will sleep here, in a real bedroom, I might add. And I will eat here. I will do no chores, nor will I prepare any more meals for any of you. That you can do yourself. I have things to do this summer that do not include impersonating a house elf for your amusement. If you leave me alone for the summer, and make no more nasty remarks about me, my school, or anything else involving my world, then I will change Diddykins back to normal.”

The impotent rage on the nasty man's face very nearly boiled over into physical violence, the man clenching his fists repeatedly. Finally, he spat a single word. “Why?”

“Why would I do this?” Daphne let her head tilt as she gave the man a look over the top of Harry's glasses. “Because you are a putrid, nasty, angry little man who deserves to find out that for all your bellowing and bluster, you are pathetic. You mean less than nothing to me, to be frank, I can't believe that Ha-- I put up with any of you for five minutes, let alone an entire childhood. Now feed your pig while I find a better place to store my belongings.”

She started to step away, only to hear Petunia whine, “What are we supposed to tell our friends about where our boy is?”

Daphne shrugged at that and kept walking. “Tell them he went on vacation, or a school trip. Tell them whatever you want, I don't particularly care. But give me a reason not to fix him, and you'll be making excuses for why he never came back, not why he left.”

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That night, after moving Harry's belongings into what she had found out was Diddykins second bedroom, Daphne let Hedwig out to stretch her wings and hunt, and began to explore the neighborhood that she was now living in for herself.

She had the Riddle journal that she'd taken out of Quirrel's office with her. She wanted to study the thing again. Not that there was much to see. There was no writing in the book, and she wasn't stupid enough to start writing in what could very well be a cursed object. For all she knew, the book had a twin and anything she wrote would end up in the other book. Or perhaps it would compel her to keep writing and never stop. Or even remove any knowledge that she wrote down from her head entirely.

With magic, one could never be too careful. Only idiots picked up strange objects and started messing with them without any idea of where they had come from or what they did.

Eventually, Daphne found her way to a muggle park. It was... boring compared to the parks she had grown up with. The swings were actually physically attached to the bars with a length of chain, for crying out loud.

Still, she was tired of walking, so she sat down on the swing. Bringing the journal out, she turned it over in her hands, studying it.

“Hello.”

The voice startled Daphne into a yelp, especially when she looked up to find herself face-to-upside down face with someone else. “What-- how--” She stood quickly, wondering how she could have missed someone so close and in plain sight.

It was another girl, who was hanging upside down from the top of the swing set by her knees. Her long, dirty blonde hair  nearly touched the ground below her, and she wore what looked like enormous orange and blue goggles that covered most of her face, along with a pair of overalls and thick work gloves.

“Where did you come from?” Daphne demanded, confused and apprehensive.

The girl continued to hang upside down, seeming to consider the question. When she answered, her voice was pure innocence, without a hint of sarcasm. There was also a vaguely distracted, airy tone to it, as though the girl was almost dreaming as she spoke. “One night when my father and my mother were celebrating another successful spell trial, they became entirely too--”

“Okay, okay.” Daphne interrupted quickly. “I don't mean how were you born. I mean how did you get right there? You weren't there when I sat down.”

In answer, the girl swung herself back and forth a few times, then heaved herself upwards. As soon as she cleared the top of the bar, she vanished from sight. As Daphne gaped, the girl reappeared, hanging upside down again. “It's okay.” She said, pointing with one gloved hand at the spot on the swing set next to her. “You can climb up. Nothing up here will bite you.” Her head tilted consideringly. “Unless  the Blibbering Humdingers show up.”

“The... the what?” Daphne asked in confusion. Curious, she reached a hand up and began to climb the side of the swing set until she could haul herself up. As soon as she was seated on the top bar, she felt a tingle flow through her from head to toe.

The other girl swung herself back up to sit next to her. Daphne estimated her age as perhaps ten. “Conditional disillusionment spell.” She announced while lifting the goggles off her face to reveal silvery-grey eyes that were rather wide, as if the other girl was as surprised by Daphne as the other way around.

“A what?” Daphne had never heard of such a thing.

“Conditional disillusionment spell.” The strange girl repeated. “My mother invented it. I can't cast it yet, because I don't have a wand. But my father can. It makes an object project an area effect of invisibility when you fulfill the condition. My father's condition in this case was to sit on top of it. The swing set.”

“Your mother invented a new type of invisibility spell?” Daphne stared at the girl. “That's amazing. She must be rich.”

The girl's head shook as she bunched the goggles up in her hands. “Oh no. My father and I never sell mother's spells. That wouldn't be right.”

“Huh?” Daphne frowned at that. “What about your mother? What does she have to say about it?”

She was met with a shrug and a vaguely dreamy look to accompany her drifting voice. “Nothing now. She died a couple of years ago.”

Well now Daphne felt like dung. “I'm sorry.” She said automatically.

“Me too.” The other girl looked down at the goggles in her lap. “But someday father and I will find them. Then it'll be okay.”

“You'll find... what?” Daphne was feeling rather as though she had been left behind in the conversational carriage ride, and was now jogging alongside to catch up.

“The creatures that my mother was looking for.” The girl responded. “She was fired from her job because her employer didn't believe they existed. That's why she had to make spells at home. It's why she didn't have all of the safety measures she would have at her job.”

“And that's how she died?” Daphne asked tentatively.

Nodding, the blonde girl turned those wide eyes to her. “That's why we have to find them. It's why we won't stop searching. We have to prove mother right.”

For a long moment, Daphne wasn't sure what to say to that. Finally, she settled on, “Who are you?”

“My name is Luna.” The girl answered promptly. “Luna Lovegood. And you're Harry Potter.”

“How did you know that?” Daphne asked carefully.

“Father thinks that the Humdingers will show up around very heroic people.” Luna explained. “That's what you are. A heroic person.”

That made Daphne's head shake. “No I'm not.”

“Okay.” Luna replied agreeably. “Right now you don't have to be.”

The two of them sat in silence for a moment, before Luna offered the goggles to 'him'. “Would you like to help look for the Blibbering Humdingers anyway? Maybe they haven't gotten the message that you're not a hero yet, so they'll still show up.”

Daphne remained quiet as she watched the other girl's earnest, open expression. Then she gave the faintest of smiles and took the offered goggles.

“Yeah, all right. Just for a minute.”


Offline Kitulean

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Re: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2014, 04:18:27 PM »
Chapter Four

The two of them sat up on the top of the swing set for an hour or so. Daphne couldn't really see any difference between looking around with the goggles on or off, but Luna insisted that wearing them was the only way to see the Blibbering Humdingers.

After the explanation that Luna had given for why she needed the clearly ridiculous creatures to be real, Daphne didn't have the heart to stomp out that particular belief. She wasn't a monster. So she played along and let the girl talk her ear off about the things. To be honest, she was only half listening, while most of her mind was focused on what else she had to do over the summer.

There were things that she needed to have ready by the time school began again. Daphne didn't really believe that she could get anywhere in her search for Quirrel and that magical stone over the summer. She was just too limited in what she could do. But there were ways that she could prepare for the upcoming year beyond laying around counting ceiling tiles.

While she was lost in her own planning, a hand abruptly tapped her on the small of her back as someone reached up from below. "Luna, my dear?"

The sudden and unexpected contact made Daphne yelp and she fell forward. Her hands grabbed for any kind of purchase, snagging onto the bag that Luna had draped across the bar with them. There was a brief sensation of rushing air and then she smacked into the ground with a groan while various papers and other supplies lay scattered from Luna's bag being yanked down with her.

A hand turned her over onto her back and the face of a middle aged wizard with long scraggly white hair stared down at her with eyes that didn't seem to both to focus on her at the same time. "Luna?" He asked before cupping her face. "My girl, did you manage the Face My Other Face spell already? And without a wand even! Oh my Luna is a genius!" He gathered the still stunned Daphne into a hug while she struggled to catch her breath.

Finally, she managed to get a hand up between them and gave him a shove. "Get off me! I'm not Luna!"

"Hi, daddy." The actual Luna chirped, having dropped to the ground. "This is Harry Potter. Harry Potter, this is my daddy."

"Xenophilius Lovegood." The man swept into a bow, and Daphne noticed a small necklace of an odd triangular-circle-stick design that caught her attention for a moment hanging from his neck. "At your service, Lord Potter."

"I'm not a Lord." Daphne pushed herself up a bit and hesitated as she took in the man's entire eclectic outfit. He wore lime green robes with random pink splotches, and in addition to the first necklace that she had noticed, there was another that appeared to consist entirely of butterbeer caps.

"Some would say you deserve the honorific more than any who hold the title currently." Xenophilius commented, his vaguely crossed eyes looking briefly intense, which was offset by the way his bottlecap necklace clanked a little.

Before she could try to react to that, Xenophilius pulled 'Harry' to 'his' feet and then began to help his daughter collect the objects that had fallen out of her bag. The two were chattering away about the sad lack of Humdingers, Blibbering or otherwise, and where they might search next.

Finally, Luna straightened and held her newly packed bag to her chest. "It was nice to meet you, Harry Potter. I'll be going to school in the fall, so I'll see you there."

Her father laid a hand on Luna's shoulder and gave his own enthusiastic wave. "Let us know if you find any of your toenail trimmings missing. It's a sure sign of Hundinger infestation."

"Um, yeah." Daphne slowly raised her hand to wave. "I'll... keep an eye out."

The two Lovegoods vanished as Xenophilius disapparated them away, and Daphne shook her head. That had been surreal. She hadn't expected to see any wizards out here in Harry's sleepy neighborhood full of utterly and painfully mundane people, let alone two that were quite that abnormal.

But now she really had to focus. First she'd take a look at the journal and- Daphne's thoughts faltered as she reached for her pocket where the book had been, only to find it empty. Quickly, she checked each of her pockets, then started to look around on the ground.

A dawning realization came, and Daphne's hand smacked against her forehead. The book must have dropped out of her pocket when she fell, and either Luna or her father had picked it up.

"No no no no." She repeated rapidly to herself. Taking out her traceless wand, she lit the end with a simple lumos spell and began to scour the ground more intently for the book, praying that she was wrong. "Please be here, please be here. Please, please." Finally, she had to give up. "Hecate's Teeth!" Daphne shouted, kicking at some of the gravel as she shoved her hands back through her recently shortened hair. "Stupid, stupid, stupid."

Okay, breathe, Daphne. She told herself. The Lovegoods probably had that book. She needed to get it back, which meant she had to communicate with them. So she needed an- "Owl." She said aloud before turning from the swingset to run all the way back to the Dursley house.

Petunia and Vernon were in the living room, the former staring listlessly out the window while clutching the pig to her chest while the latter puffed on a pipe and stared angrily at the loud muggle noise making contraption with all the moving pictures. They both started to speak, but Daphne ignored them as she thundered up the stairs.

Luckily, Potter's owl had returned when she stormed into the bedroom that she had commandeered. The bird gave a brief hoot of surprise and vague annoyance when Daphne slammed the door after herself, before she quickly crossed to the open cage where it was perched.

"I need you to deliver a letter." She began.

Hedwig made what sounded an awful lot like a derisive noise and turned her head.

"It's about Harry." Daphne insisted. "Okay, mostly about Harry. Look, I found this book that I think Quirrel had, he's the guy responsible for Harry being... being gone. This book was something of his, and I stole it. But now this other witch accidentally picked it up, and I need to send a message to her to give it back so I can use it to find a way to bring Harry back to- dear lords I'm talking to an owl."

Hedwig was looking at her again, and Daphne let out a breath. "You're the only... thing that I can talk to about this at all, aren't you?" Tentatively, she lifted her hand and gave the owl's feathers a gentle stroke. "I promise, this isn't just some selfish demand. I really do need that book. Can you take a letter to Luna Lovegood for me? Luna Lovegood."

Those piercing owl eyes stared at her for a long moment, before Hedwig finally left her cage and flew to the window, settling there to wait.

Daphne moved quickly before the owl changed her mind, writing out a brief explanatory note, describing the journal, and asking them to send it back. Then she attached it to the owl's leg and thanked her before watching the bird fly off.

Left alone with her thoughts, she began to pace rapidly while shoving her hands through her hair and groaning. "I can't believe I lost the book. The one maybe lead to fixing any of this and what do I do? I let some crazy girl run off with it. How stupid do I have to be?"

Finally, Daphne let her hands slide down her face and took several deep breaths. Sitting down on the floor in the middle of the room, she crossed her legs, closed her eyes, and then asked herself a single important question, one that had always served her well when she felt overwhelmed by any number of things.

"Is there anything else I can do about this right now?"

After a moment of thought, she answered herself. "No."

Finally, she completed her ritual with, "Then don't worry about it."

Noticeably calmer, Daphne opened her eyes and began to focus on what she could actually do. Tomorrow was going to be a very busy day. Even without that book, there were plenty of preparations to be made.

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And apparently, Daphne inwardly grumbled to herself while sitting at an out of the way table inside the Leaky Cauldron a little after noon the next day, there was plenty of waiting to do as well. She had convinced Vernon to give her a ride into London proper that morning. The foul man had originally refused, until Daphne pointed out that not only could she choose not to fix his son if he annoyed her too much, but also that if she was going to fix him at all, she needed supplies.

It was a lie, she had everything she needed, but the Dursleys didn't know that. Though he grumbled the entire time, the man had used the muggle car to drive her where she wanted to go, and agreed to pick her up that evening.

So for the past two and a half hours, she had been sitting here listening to various conversations throughout the pub, waiting to hear one particular conversation. Potter's invisibility cloak, which she wore the whole time, meant that she wasn't bothered and no one noticed when she paid attention to what they were saying.

There had, of course, been a couple of close calls as someone nearly sat on her. But Daphne managed to slip away just in time, save for once when she was jostled. Luckily, the person who had stumbled into her hadn't noticed in the crowd.

Just as she was about to lament finding anyone who was going where she needed them to, a crash from halfway across the room caught her attention.

"Sorry, sorry!" The purple haired witch who had apparently just dropped the plate she had been carrying flicked her wand out, levitated the half eaten sandwich and a few soggy chips up before repairing the plate, then floated all of it together up to her hand once more before giving a sheepish look toward the hunchback barman.

He, as though accustomed to this, waved off the apology and took the repaired plate from her. "Gotta get back to that Auror training, eh, Nympha-"

"Do not call me that." The witch countered quickly, in what appeared to be a practiced and reflexive response. "It's Tonks. Just Tonks."

Tom, the barman, simply saluted with a laugh before turning his attention back to other customers with a departing, "You're gonna be late again, Tonks. Mad-Eye ain't gonna like that."

"Circe spit!" Tonks started to bolt from the pub, pushing her way around other patrons while frantically muttering apologies.

Daphne, hidden beneath the invisibility cloak, followed with a mumbled, "About damn time." Her plan had always been to hang out at the pub until she heard that someone was going to the ministry, and then follow them in. She hadn't expected it to take all morning.

She almost missed the purple-haired witch as they both emerged onto the street, mostly because she was no longer the purple-haired witch at all. Tonks had turned her hair white and shortened it to nearly the length of Daphne's own Potterized hair. If she hadn't heard the older witch continue to curse about her own lateness, she might have lost track of her entirely.

"Metamorphmagus." Daphne all but groaned. "Great, I had to follow the one in a thousand." Still, she kept after the shapeshifting witch, praying that she didn't lose her again in the crowd of muggles going up and down the city street.

It was difficult, considering that any time that shock of white hair passed out of Daphne's sight, the next time she came into view, it could be long red hair, neon green chin length hair, or anything else. She had to stay closer than she really wanted to, and several times she nearly ran right into the other witch.

Finally, Tonks stopped in front of a red and glass booth with what Daphne at least recognized as a muggle telephone inside. The witch looked both ways, her eyes passing over Daphne, then she pulled the door open and stepped inside.

Taking a breath and holding it, Daphne quickly slipped inside the booth after her and pressed herself into a corner, not daring to make any noise.

As if she had felt the movement, Tonks blinked and looked around. Her eyes changed shape and color a couple of times, as though she was filtering through various types of vision. Then she simply shrugged and pulled the door of the booth shut.

It was a tight fit, especially considering that Daphne couldn't afford to let the older witch have the slightest idea that she was there. She pressed herself tighter against the corner, while Tonks began to hit several numbers on the front of the telephone.

A moment later, a voice filled up the booth, that of a pleasant woman. "Welcome to the Ministry of Magic. Please state your name and business."

"Tonks." The other witch replied. "Auror-in-training. Who should be allowed to use the normal bloody entrance, because that incident with the apricots was only one time. One time-"

The pleasant voice returned, though perhaps slightly more strained. "Please state your full name."

"Bugger that, Tricia. You know precisely who I am." The witch shot back. When this was met by silence, she finally sighed. "Fine, it's Nymphadora Tonks. I'm here for training. Again. Still. I just went to lunch, you bunch of wands up the-"

The floor beneath their feet shuddered, and then began to sink. Daphne let out some of the breath she had been holding. She had been afraid that the Ministry would be able to detect her, even while invisible. But the risk had been worthwhile.

After a minute or so of grinding downward, the booth stopped, and the door slid open once more. Tonks emerged, almost tripping over her own robes in her rush. Daphne quickly followed, gazing with wide eyes at the beautiful hall full of gilded fireplaces that dozens of wizards were using to floo in and out.

Daphne had been to the Ministry before, but not in several years, and certainly not since she was actually old enough to appreciate it. She was almost too caught up in gazing at the gorgeous dark wood floor, the blue ceiling with its rapidly shifting golden symbols, and the line of Ministry employees waiting to use the Floos to notice that Tonks had already hurried on.

Racing to catch up, Daphne passed by a large fountain with several golden statues. She knew what the Fountain of Magical Brethren was like, having tossed her own occasional knut into it during her few visits when she was younger. At the moment, she didn't have time to waste, but she was still tempted to throw a few coins inside while wishing for her own success in this insanity.

She finally caught up with Tonks as the other witch passed by a desk labeled SECURITY and into a hallway lined with golden lifts. It only took a moment for one of the lifts to arrive, but Tonks spent the entire time rapidly tapping her foot and murmuring about how late she was.

Secretly joining the older witch on the lift when the doors opened, Daphne again pressed herself into a corner and watched as several messaging paper airplanes, birds, and other origami fluttered in with them along with a couple of wizards who were conversing heatedly about a recent Quidditch match between the Toyohashi Tengu and the Kenmare Kestrels. Apparently a wager had been made and one of the wizards was debating the exact wording as far as when that wager had to be paid off.

Ignoring the pair as much as possible, Daphne listened to the female voice announce the floors. They passed the Department of Magical Games and Sports at Level Seven, where the two wizards got off and three more boarded. Then they passed the Department of Magical Transport, where two of the paper airplane messengers flew off. The Department of International Magical Cooperation, the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, and the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes all passed them by as the lift continued to descend.

By the time they reached Level Two, only she and Tonks remained. The voice announced their arrival at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and the doors opened. This time, the currently-electric blue haired witch left the lift, and Daphne followed. She had been lucky in that the person she had finally managed to follow into the Ministry was going to the same floor she'd wanted to begin with.

Now they were in a door-lined corridor, and Daphne began to walk slowly, examining the doors they were passing for what she needed.

The firm thunk of a staff hitting the floor ahead of them made both Daphne and Tonks come up short. A man stood in the hall, leaning heavily on his staff as he glared at the latter of them while growling out the words, "You're late."

Daphne had to stare at the man. While not overly tall, he was rather solidly set. He wore simple brown robes and leathers, and a belt of supplies hung around his waist. His long, gray hair was scraggly, and his face was lined and heavily scarred, with a not-insubstantial amount of his nose missing. Yet by far what stood out about the man the most was one of his eyes. While the left was a simple dark brown like any other, the man's right eye was larger than it should have been, with a vivid blue color that matched the current shade of Tonks's hair. That eye rapidly rolled around in the socket almost completely randomly. It spun to take in the entire room, including rolling backwards so that only the white could be seen. Watching it almost made Daphne dizzy.

"Sorry Alastor." Tonks replied, standing rather stiffly. "I was just having lunch and-"

"Shush." The man silenced her with a quick jab of his hand, frowning as his eye darted even more manically. "Did someone come down with you?" He asked sharply, sniffing the air.

"Uh, nope. Just me." The witch shook her head, frowning. "Why? You expecting someone?"

Rather than answer, the man took several long, limping steps toward them, a muffled thunk sounding each time his right leg came down. Though it was hidden beneath his robes, Daphne caught a glimpse of wood.

She backed up slowly, eyes wide as the man came closer. Breath held, barely moving, she shrank deeper into the invisibility cloak and prayed.

The man's crazy eye zoomed back and forth in the socket, almost quivering. Several times it almost seemed to fixate on her before continuing to search. Tonks remained silent, Daphne remained even silent-er, and the man continued to advance, beginning to swipe the air in front of him with his staff while Daphne tried to backpedal without tripping over her own feet and making as little sound as possible.

Finally, just as Daphne was pressed back against the wall next to the lift, with the man barely inches away from jabbing her with his staff, a new voice spoke up. "Auror Moody, have you taken your trainee to collect her new duel-training wand?"

A rather severe looking older witch stood at one of the doorways, observing them with carefully neutral eyes.

"Madame Bones." Tonks bowed her head quickly, her hair changing from blue to blonde and lengthening.

Inclining her own head in acknowledgment, Bones kept her gaze on Auror Moody. For his part, the man finally turned away from Daphne and grunted. "Heading there now, Madame. Come along, Tonks."

The two continued down the hall, and Madame Bones moved into the lift. Daphne let out a breath of relief, then flinched as the other witch's gaze flicked her way from inside the lift. She held her breath again, but Bones did nothing else as the doors closed.

Turning, Daphne hurried after the other pair, though she kept a healthy distance from Moody and his creepily good sense of paranoia. Though considering she really was there, could it be called paranoia?

"So what's this about a duel-training wand?" Tonks was asking. "And why do I just get it now? I've been here for a year. And why do I need another wand?"

Limping down the hall, every impact of his staff against the floor sending a dull thunk that was matched momentarily by the thunk of his wooden leg on the other side, Moody grunted a response, "Not a real wand. Wasn't time for your dueling training yet. You'll see."

It wasn't part of her original plan, as there was a different part of the Magical Law Enforcement offices she wanted to visit, but Daphne was sufficiently intrigued by that to follow. Eventually, they went through a door labeled 'Authorized DMLE Staff And Trainees Only'. This led to a twisting, confusing progression of corridors until Moody finally stopped at a door and nudged it open, nodding for Tonks to go in first. Then he looked around, frowned even more, and stumped his way into the room after her.

Slipping inside before the door could close, Daphne found that they had entered a room lined with mirrors on every wall. To one side there was a large, elaborately crafted wooden box, with designs of various wizards dueling etched into it.

Moody moved to this chest and used his staff to push it open. "Grab one." He nodded to the contents.

Daphne moved closer and saw dozens of what looked like wands, though these were of a silver color rather than wood, and each had what looked like a gold band about a third of the way up the length of it.

Tonks picked up one of the strange wands and turned it over in her head. "What's this?"

"Duel training wand." Moody answered, setting himself against the wall. "Simple enough concept. Looks and feels like a real wand to get the movements and speed down, but won't let you actually cast the spell. Move that band thing up and down the shaft, closer it gets to the end, the higher the difficulty. Set it to the bottom to start."

Once that was done and Tonks had locked the golden band to the bottom of the wand length, Moody continued. "Next you tell it Offense or Defense. We'll start with Offense. Then tell it the spell you're going to attack with. Call it Stupefy. Then tell it what the other side is gonna defend with. Call it Protego to keep things simple."

Still looking uncertain, Tonks nonetheless followed his instructions. "Offense, Stupefy, Protego." The gold band lit up, and she looked toward Moody.

"Go for it. Watch your form in the mirrors." The man instructed, leaning his weight back against the glass.

Shrugging, Tonks pointed the wand ahead of herself, at one of the mirrors. "Stupefy!" There was a muffled gong noise, and the light on the gold band dimmed.

"Too slow." Moody shook his head. "Gotta be faster than that. Wait for it to light up again, then do it."

Shaking her wrist out, Tonks hopped from one foot to the other as though warming up. Her eyes were on the golden band. When it lit up, her hand shot out much quicker. "Stupefy!"

That time, there was a crisp ding of a bell, and the light on the gold band pulsed a couple of times before going out.

"Again." Moody instructed. "Fifty more like that, then move the band up one slot. Then do another fifty. Do it until you lose ten times in a row, then stay on that slot until you win ten in a row. Then we'll do defense."

Surreptitiously, Daphne slipped near the chest of practice wands and watched Moody. Only when she saw his eye pointed a different direction did she take one of the wands and slide it carefully into her pocket underneath the cloak. That could come in handy.

For the next six hours, Daphne sat in the corner and watched as Moody instructed Tonks. When it was time for the auror-in-training to practice defense, much of the same things applied. The golden band would light up after a random interval and Tonks would have a very brief window to attempt to cast Protego before the band would either chime out her success, or make that dull gong noise of failure. The further up the band was positioned, the less time she had to use the defensive spell.

Unseen, safely hidden under the cloak, Daphne listened and learned while Moody instructed his real student. When he corrected Tonks's finger positions, Daphne took care to adjust her own. She followed his lead on the stance, the movement, and tried to follow everything else save for actually attempting to use the spells, though there were several that she made a mental note to practice later.

Finally, Tonks's training was done for the day, and the two left the room. Daphne followed after a moment, realizing that if she didn't get to the thing she'd actually come here for, she'd miss her ride back to the Dursley's.

Still, there was one stop that she had to make, her entire reason for coming here. As she walked down the seemingly endless corridors, Daphne kept an eye out for one specific sign. Finally, she found it. The door was labeled, 'Records'.

"About time." She muttered under her breath. Looking up and down the hall to ensure that she was alone, she used a quick unlock spell on the door and then slipped inside.

It was a massive room, much larger on the inside than it had appeared on the outside. Several quidditch games could have been played side by side in the space the room took up, and it was absolutely filled with row after row after row of filing cabinets.

"This could take awhile." Daphne muttered. She set to work with a sigh. Luckily, everything was filed alphabetically. Unluckily, it began with A, which meant that the Q's were clear down toward the other end. With a sigh, she started that way.

It took fifteen minutes for her to eventually reach and find the file for Quirinus Quirrell. The folder itself wasn't that thick. There were several inches of parchment on his birth and education, the fact that he had taken a job at Hogwarts originally as the Muggle Studies teacher and then in the previous year as the DADA instructor, and various other tidbits that she didn't have time to examine. There were also notes about his family members and previous places of note. Daphne simply took the whole folder.

Next, she looked for a file on Nicholas Flamel and his 'philosopher's stone', remembering both names from Granger's incessant ramblings on the subject in the last day and a half of her time at Hogwarts. This time, the file that she found was not merely a folder, but three entire filing cabinets.

"Umm, I can't carry all this out of here." Daphne decided, staring at the reams upon reams of information. Finally, she settled for skimming through it and taking the parts that seemed to correlate the most toward the actual stone itself.

Shoving those files under the cloak, she quickly made her way to the exit. It wasn't hard to wait for one of the other wizards to take the lift back to the lobby, then find an open floo and borrow a little powder to whisk herself away back to the Leaky Cauldron when no one was paying enough attention. Getting into the Ministry had been the tricky part. Getting out again was child's play.

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The rest of the summer passed that way. Daphne studied the files she had taken, and several days a week she would sneak back into the ministry behind Tonks and spend most of the day learning from Moody, even if he didn't know she was there. It wasn't nearly as good or informative as being his actual student where he could correct her mistakes, but simply sitting in on his training sessions with Tonks was a very useful experience.

At night she practiced with the duel-training wand out at the park, safely away from the Ministry's magic trace, and found that it was much harder than she initially assumed. For the first few nights, she used her real wand and yet she couldn't manage to make the stupefy spell work at all, let alone within the time limit of the training wand. Finally, after almost a week, she got it right and managed to make the red stunner lash out of her actual wand enough to move on to the timing part of the training.

Still, she failed repeatedly at even the lowest setting. Over and over again, for weeks, she failed to make the wand ding. Every single time, hour after hour, the training wand would simply give that dull gong of disapproval.

Making matters worse was the fact that she had received a reply back from Luna, indicating that they had not seen the journal, but would keep looking and let 'him' know.

So now the journal was missing completely, and Daphne couldn't manage to make the stupefy or protego spells work quickly enough to beat even the slowest, easiest setting on the training wand.

Which, she supposed, made sense. She was twelve. She wasn't even supposed to know either spell yet, let alone be able to cast them with enough speed to beat another duelist. Still, it annoyed her sense of competitiveness.

Over and over again, throughout the summer, Daphne practiced with the duel-training wand at night and sat in on Tonks's lessons with Moody during the day. Off and on she studied the files she had stolen from the Ministry, looking for any information about Quirrel or the stone that would help.

Harry's birthday came and went, and Daphne tried to respond to the letters that had come as best as she could. Some of the things mentioned within the letters she had no clue about, but she tried to talk her way around those subjects.

Finally, in mid-August, she managed to, for the first time, beat the training wand. As her hand lashed out and she called out the stunning spell, Daphne was almost shocked when the wand gave a pleasant ding rather than the gong she was so accustomed to.

For awhile, she only managed to make the wand ding successfully every fifth attempt. A few days later it was every fourth attempt. By the end of the next week, it was every third attempt. Then every other attempt. Eventually, by the time the end of August came, she was managing to make the spell go off first nearly (though not completely) every time. Granted, it was still on the lowest setting and if she moved the band up at all she ended up losing as fast as, well, a twelve year old facing actual duelists would. Still, she felt vastly improved from her pitiful showing at the beginning of the summer.

Then it was August 30th. The Hogwarts Express would be leaving the next day, and Daphne had spent most of the evening preparing the potion that would fix Diddykins. She wouldn't give it to them until the next day, preferring to make them sweat it out, but she wanted to be ready to leave.

Going upstairs to the room that had been hers all summer, Daphne stopped short at the brown bag sitting innocuously on the bed. She frowned, looking toward the owl in her cage. "Where did that come from?"

Hedwig just gave a hoot of disinterest, and Daphne approached the bag. Poking it with her wand, she slowly opened it up and found book and a note. The book was titled, 'Introduction To Magical Laws, Duels, And How To Survive Both.'

The note, meanwhile, was written in narrow, tight script.

Mr. Potter, I thought that since the summer was nearly over and thus our training time would be coming to an end, that you might appreciate a book in my stead. I've taken the liberty of returning your borrowed files to their proper place, but you can keep the training wand. Keep up the work, but next time you want to learn how to fight, just ask.

Alastor Moody.

PS: Just because someone can't see you doesn't mean they're stupid, boy.

All Daphne could do was gape.

Offline Kitulean

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Re: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2014, 04:25:20 AM »
Chapter Five

"Harry!" A fraction of a second after receiving that joyous-sounding warning, Daphne found herself stumbling backwards with a face full of of frizzy brown hair as Granger hugged 'him' so tightly she couldn't breathe.

Spitting out bits of hair and making a face at the taste, Daphne awkwardly returned the hug for a second or three before pushing the girl back. "Err, hey, Gran-" She coughed. "Great to see you, Hermione."

"Harry, you've changed into your school robes already." Hermione noted with a curious frown. "Why?"

Daphne had worn the robes onto the train for two reasons. The first was that it meant she wouldn't have to try to explain why she wouldn't change clothes in front of Ron, and the other was that she still wasn't quite comfortable playing a boy in front of people vaguely more observant than the Dursleys had been. Wearing the shapeless, unflattering robe, in spite of how much she had complained in her first year, was quite helpful in that regard now.

Instead of saying so, of course, she simply shrugged. "Eager to get to school I guess. How was your summer?"

She yawned while waiting for an answer. Daphne hadn't slept well the night before, which had been spent alternately going over everything she had done in order to try to figure out how Moody had figured out 'Harry' had been sneaking into the Ministry and watching his lessons, and panicking about what else he might have figured out. Even telling herself that if Moody had known the truth, he wouldn't have called her 'boy' didn't help.

Finally, she'd dozed off for a few hours before waking up with barely enough time to have Vernon drive her to the station. She'd given the huffing, grumbling, unhappy man the cure to Diddykins piglet problem, telling him to make the pig eat anything with the potion mixed into it, and then made a mad dash onto the platform, arriving just in time to squeeze her luggage into the right compartment, then hop onto the train before it pulled away.

And now she was facing one of Harry's best friends, without any layer of protection like a burned face or the business of packing to leave school between them. Of course it would have to be the smart one. She couldn't have warmed up with the Weasley brat.

"Interesting!" The brunette chirped. "I was quite busy with schoolwork, of course-"

Another voice complained, "How, that's what I'd like to know. How do you have schoolwork when there isn't any school?" Ron Weasley, speak of the devil, arrived and folded his arms while gazing quizzically at Granger. "Haven't you ever heard of vacation? It's this magical time when there isn't any school." He waggled his fingers at her.

"Sounds like a nightmare." Hermione replied rather dryly, waggling her own fingers right back at the boy. "But your appalling study habits aren't what we should be focusing on."

"Right." Ron turned to Daphne. "You're the one we need to talk to."

"You do?" Daphne had a bad feeling about this. How had they figured it out? What mistake had she made? Was there something in the letters? Had Moody talked to them? No, wait, that was ridiculous.

Before she could work out just what she should be getting defensive about, Hermione and Ron had each linked their arms through 'his' and began dragging 'him' into one of the train compartments. Daphne found herself rather firmly pushed down into a seat, while the other two sat next to each other across from her.

Weasley's head had tilted and he studied her with an uncertain look. "Blimey, Harry, you really changed over the summer."

Daphne tried not to look nervous. "Oh?" Nonchalant. She told herself. Nonchalant, be nonchalant. Be completely and utterly nonchalant. "Why do you say that? I mean, doesn't everyone change over the summer? What's so special about me? I don't think I've changed." Damn it, Daphne, you're totally chalanting!

Hermione, after giving 'Harry' an odd look, nodded. "It's mostly in your face. It seems... softer. You look kind of... pretty."

"Oy!" Ron shot a scandalized look at the Granger girl. "You don't call a bloke pretty, Hermione. You just don't."

"It was the best word I could think of for it!" Hermione defended herself, before shaking her head. "We're getting off subject anyway. We had something else to talk about with you, Harry."

"Right, mate, we wanted to talk about how you barely talked to us this summer." Ron began.

"I sent letters." Daphne protested rather weakly.

"Letter." Hermione held up a single finger. "You sent one letter to each of us, and that was for your birthday."

"Sorry." Daphne flinched and gave a little shrug. She was trying to come up with a logical excuse, since she couldn't very well say that she'd been sneaking into the Ministry to learn from one of their best aurors so that she could get the magic stone from Quirrel and bring the real Harry back to life.

"We know what's going on." Ron's voice was low, confidential.

Stiffening, Daphne looked from one of Potter's friends, then to the other. "You do?" She asked, carefully.

Both of their heads bobbed. It was Hermione who spoke. "Of course. You're upset about Daphne."

"I am?" Daphne blinked, then ducked her head to hide her expression.

"Anyone would be." The red haired boy sounded for a moment like he wasn't sure how to go on, after what he had said at the end of the school year. "I mean, anyone dying is a very bad thing, no matter what house they're from."

Hermione shot him an exasperated look. "Nice, Ron, did you read that off the back of your hand, or just memorize it?" Her hand came out to take 'Harry's', squeezing it with a worried look. "The point is, we think you've been obsessing over Daphne's death, thinking that it was all your fault, or that you could have done something different. We were afraid that you were cutting yourself off from everyone."

Weasley's head bobbed in agreement. "But you can't think that way. There's nothing else you could have done. Quirrel was a full grown wizard on his own, however he acted in class."

"And-" Hermione's voice lowered a little. "You-know-who was living inside the back of his head."

Daphne looked back and forth between the pair. "You two have rehearsed this, haven't you?"

Granger's arms flew up. "Well what else were we supposed to do?! You weren't sending letters. We wrote to you all the time but you only responded the once. We were even going to go to Diagon Alley and shop for our books together, but we had no idea when you were going to go. Oh but Harry, you'll never guess who we met while we were there. He even signed my books."

In truth, Daphne had gone for her- or rather, Harry's new books alone precisely so that no one would notice that she hadn't used the real Harry's vault. She'd had enough galleons saved up from her father's gifts over the previous year to take care of everything that she had to buy, though that had nearly wiped out her remaining savings. "I meant to write more." She sighed, resigned. "I really did. I just got busy."

"Busy with what, is what I'd like to know." Ron had gone from apologetic to vaguely offended. "What was so important over the summer that you couldn't write a letter to your best mate?" At Hermione's pointed look, he amended to add the plural, "Ssssss."

Daphne was saved from having to try to come up with a response when there was a quick knock at the compartment door before it was slid open. A small red-haired girl with a quite put-upon expression stepped inside and proceeded to kick Ron in the leg and announce, "Jerk."

Ron's hand dove to his leg and he cringed. "Ow! Ginny, what the hell was that for?"

"You left me at the front of the train!" The younger girl exclaimed, throwing both hands up. "You and Fred and George and Percy all ran off and left me behind!"

"That doesn't sound right." Ron objected. "Percy's far more responsible than that."

"He had to go to the prefect car." The girl, Ginny apparently, finally looked toward the other occupants. When her eyes found 'Harry', they widened dramatically.

"Oh, right." Ron gestured between them. "Harry, this is my sister, Ginny. Ginny, that's Harry Potter."

Daphne raised her hand in greeting. She had the feeling that she knew what the poor girl was going through. Ginny would be far from the only girl who had grown up hearing the stories of the boy-who-lived. Particularly for girls within two or three years of Harry's age, many of whom had grown up with dreams of marrying him the way that other little girls dreamed of marrying handsome knights. Harry Potter was a handsome knight, who had vanquished the most evil wizard who had ever lived. And he was their age. It didn't matter that they'd never met the boy. Who he actually was remained immaterial, because they knew his soul.

Or something.

Daft bints.

"Is she okay?" Hermione asked, leaning closer to Ginny. The girl's mouth had fallen open as if she was trying to speak, but no words were coming out. Finally, the red-head spun on her heel and fled from the compartment.

Ron, by that point, was gazing at Daphne with eyes that were almost as worshipful as Ginny's had been. "You have got to teach me how to do that. I can't make her go away for the life of me."

Daphne, however, was distracted by the sight through the still open doorway of someone else passing by. "Luna!" She came off her seat and sprang to the train aisle, ignoring the two gasps of surprise from Potter's friends.

Luna, for her part, simply stood there holding an empty cage in one hand and a rather large pickle in the other. Her wand had been stuck behind her ear rather than in a pocket. "Hello, Harry."

"The book." Daphne took the other girl's arm and squeezed it firmly. "Tell me you and your father found that book. I need it."

Luna's head shook then. "I'm sorry, Harry. Daddy is convinced that the nargles stole it, but we're not sure which tribe. Can you tell me when the author's birthday is? Oh, and his favorite flavor of ice cream. That should narrow it down enough for father to parley with the right chieftain."

"Harry?" Hermione had exited the compartment. "What's going on? Who's this?"

Oh sure, now bloody Granger was more interested in human interaction than burying her nose in some book. Where was this when Daphne was staying up until midnight six days a week trying to study herself into a coma just to get one single solitary mark higher than the half-blood witch?

"This is Luna." She managed not to snap, though it was a close thing. "We met over the summer, when she and her father..."

"We were looking for Blibbering Humdingers." Luna announced with absolutely no concept of the word shame.

"Those don't exist." Hermione stated with an imperious tone that made Daphne wish she wasn't right. "It says quite clearly in Newt Scamander's Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them that there is no such thing as a Humdinger, Blibbering or otherwise. They're a myth, invented by older wizards to scare those younger and less apt to look for the facts."

Knowing how Luna felt about the creatures that her mother had been obsessed with finding, Daphne interrupted quickly. "Luna, why don't you sit with us." She ignored the looks that Granger and Weasley were giving her. Having the Lovegood girl as a buffer would stop them from asking too many pointed questions.

And maybe, just maybe, she could find a way to rack Luna's brain and find a hint as to where the journal had gone.

"Well lookie here." A voice that Daphne had been hoping to avoid for a while all but crowed. Draco Malfoy sauntered down the aisle with his two cronies. "Ickle Harry Potter's already dressed for school. What's the matter, Potter, afraid if you don't wear the robes all the time, people'll realize what a complete fraud you are and not let you in?" Crabbe and Goyle each registered their approval with full throated laughter, bringing a proud smile to Draco's face.

Oh for the love of Merlin. She didn't care about Potter's little rivalry with the Malfoy scion. Daphne had far more important things to do than trade childish barbs in some stupid ego contest. The boy only wanted attention, and every time that Harry engaged him, he rewarded that behavior. "Sure, Draco." She said simply before turning her back to the boy to walk away without further comment.

It was apparently the wrong move, as far as Malfoy was concerned. "I'll teach you to walk away from me, Potter." He snarled. "Calva-"

That was as far as he got. The second she heard the boy start the jinx that would have made her hair fall out, Daphne spun. Her wand came up into her hand and pointed in the same twisting motion, the way she had practiced hundreds of times over the summer.

"Stupefy!" The jet of red light shot from her wand, caught Draco in mid-cast, and hurled him backwards several yards down the aisle, pitching him head over heels before he fell to the floor in an unconscious heap.

Crabbe and Goyle were caught motionless. Their eyes went wide, and they looked first at 'Harry', then at their fallen leader. Then the two scrambled to pick up Draco and cart him off, falling over themselves in their haste.

For a long moment, silence reigned. Then Ron's strangled voice came, full of shock and confusion. "Bloody hell, Harry. Where did you learn how to do that?"

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It took some rather fast talking for Daphne to avoid even more intense interrogation over her use of the stupefy spell. She told the others that 'he' had simply read the spell in a book and practiced without a wand, and that that had been the first time she actually managed to cast it. She acted just as surprised as they had been that it had worked so easily.

Granger was never going to object to the idea of learning something from a book, and Weasley was just insistent that 'Harry' teach him that spell so that he could 'shut Malfoy up any time'.

The rest of the train ride passed relatively uneventfully, for Daphne anyway. She told them that the Dursleys had kept 'him' awake all night and passed most of the time by curling up on one corner of the seat and napping.

"Harry?" Hermione was shaking 'his' shoulder. "Harry, wake up. We're almost there."

Daphne's eyes opened, and she straightened. The others had changed into their school robes, and Luna was gazing out the window at the lights of the approaching Hogsmeade Village.

"Harry," Ron had leaned in close to peer out the window as well. "Isn't that the train platform over there?" He pointed to the dark, unlit station where the train should have been stopping.

"Uh huh." Daphne remembered to answer, her brow furrowing.

"But if we're already passing it," Ron turned his head to look at her. "Wouldn't that mean that we're about to drive straight into the-"

The train gave a shriek of protest in the middle of Weasley's sentence. There was a series of terrifying bangs, followed by the echo of screaming that tore back through the various compartments, and then theirs gave a violent heave and Daphne found herself flung upward into the ceiling painfully. Sideways became up as the compartment tipped over, and then there was an explosion of glass as water began to fill the compartment and everything grew much darker.

Daphne found herself caught in the influx of water, its sudden coldness shocking the breath out of her, and swept out of the sideways compartment while Hermione screamed Harry's name.

Down through the train corridor Daphne was hurled, hitting a wall next to a window before that one shattered and more water joined the wave that had carried her. The rushing torrent caught hold of the hidden Slytherin and tossed her helplessly down toward the back of the train. She kept opening her mouth to scream, but every time she did, water choked off any of her cries.

All around her, Daphne could see other students either being tossed around by the water in the rapidly flooding train, or struggling to help those who were. Before long, the train had completely filled with water, and Daphne could barely see. She held her breath as the last bit of air disappeared, her fingers lashing out desperately, grabbing for something, anything that she could hold onto. Finally, she managed to grasp one of the doorjams near the rear of the train with one hand.

Perfect. Now all she had to do was get her other hand up so that she could pull herself into one of the air pockets, then get through one of the many broken windows and swim to the surface.

Before she could do that, unfortunately, Daphne caught sight of something large and fast coming her way. She looked up in time to see someone's spinning trunk just before it collided with her face. Harry's glasses were snapped, and her own vision went black. The force of the blow sent her backwards, through the badly mangled rearmost train car and into the lake itself.

Daphne drifted backwards and down, deeper into the lake. Her senses were rattled and it took a Herculean effort to blink her eyes open. All she wanted to do was sleep. She had been holding her breath for far too long, it was impossible to think straight. Her eyes drifted closed as the dim light from the surface grew fainter with each passing second. She sank further... further...

Strong arms caught her around the back, pulling her upright. Daphne's eyes opened blearily in time to see the most handsome, powerful face she had ever seen. The man who had caught her gave her a rather roguish wink, his head enveloped in a bubble charm. Then he touched his wand to her own face, and a similar bubble appeared around her own head.

The wizard pointed his wand at his mouth at the edge of the bubble and when he spoke, Daphne heard him. "Are you all right?"

All Daphne could do was nod rather dumbly at this man who had rescued her in mid-drowning, who had clearly saved her life. Who was he? Where had he come from?

"Time to swim." Her savior pointed upward, kept an arm around Daphne, and began to head for the surface. Daphne tried to help by kicking her legs, but she was still mostly disoriented.

When they broke through the water into open air, the wizard dispelled the bubble and Daphne sucked in fresh air. She turned slightly to see many more students already treading water, or swimming toward the shore.

The wizard who had rescued Daphne swam with her to the shore, keeping one arm around her shoulders to support her weight. He came up out of the water, lifting Daphne in his powerful arms easily as if she was a doll. The man carried her up to dry land, before carefully setting her down. "Are you sure you're all right?"

She tried to answer, but kept getting lost in staring at his blue eyes and his long, coppery hair. He'd saved her. He'd saved her life, like a hero. Like a real hero, the ones she'd read about and eventually dismissed as childish fantasies.

Yet he had literally carried her up and out of a lake before she could drown. And he was handsome. Just like a fantasy knight.

"Harry!" A distant voice interrupted her shock-induced daydreaming, and then Ron and Hermione came splashing up through the shallow water until they reached them. "Harry, you're all right!" Ron gasped in relief.

Daphne received another hug from Granger, who didn't seem to want to let go at first. She sniffled a little. "When the water took you from the compartment, I didn't think..."

"He'll be okay." The man who had saved her assured them. "I think he's just a bit stunned."

Ron turned his attention from 'Harry' to her savior. His own exclamation was almost as startling as the cold water had been. "Bill? What're you doing here?"

"Saving your friend, seems like." The man nodded down at Daphne. "You've seen Ginny, right?"

The other boy nodded distractedly at that. "Of course, she was the first thing I checked. She's over there somewhere with that Luna girl and some boy named Creevey that keeps moaning about his camera."

Satisfied that her friend was alive and well enough, Hermione had gotten back to her feet to point out at the lake. "What about others? Someone should search for anyone else that's trapped down there."

"Already taken care of." Bill assured her. "I checked while I was pulling Harry there up. He was the last one out. Everyone else should be just fine. Kind of a miracle, really. There's a lot of bruises and a few are going to have to see Madame Pomfrey, but overall, everyone seems to have come out in one piece."

"It's not a miracle." Hermione sniffed. "It's magic. The Hogwarts Express is enchanted to protect its passengers from outside harm like... an accident." She hesitated to call it such, looking at the lake.

Bill flicked his wand toward Daphne, and she found her water soaked robes turning immediately dry once more. "Can you stand up?"

Swallowing, Daphne slowly nodded before picking herself up. She rose, gazing out at the lake where the last remaining students were hauling themselves out. There was no sign of the train itself, which had sunk all the way to the bottom. She felt numb.

"Come on then." Bill ushered them toward a spot where Daphne could see the giant form of the gamekeeper Hagrid gathering all of the students. "Trust me, Dumbledore will be looking into this. All you have to worry about is getting up to the castle."

"But what are you doing here at Hogwarts?" Ron insisted. "I mean, thanks for saving Harry and all, but why? You're supposed to be out doing Curse-Breaker stuff for Gringotts."

Daphne gasped softly, looking at the ruggedly handsome man. "You're a curse-breaker?"

"He sure is." Ron sounded proud. "One of the best—err... Harry?" A quizzical look crossed the boy's features when he saw the expression on 'Harry's' face. "Are you sure you're all right? How hard did you hit your head?"

Flushing, Daphne looked down and tried to hide her reaction. Stupid, stupid. Harry Potter would not be crushing on Ron Weasley's oldest brother!

Bill paused, then shook his head. "Took a sabbatical. Turns out Professor Dumbledore needed a new teacher. And with... well, the you-know-what developments for you-know-who last spring, I guess he wanted reinforcements."

"My brother's a teacher at Hogwarts?!" Ron's face paled, as though this was somehow worse than the entire Hogwarts express driving into the lake. "That's worse than Percy being a prefect."

Daphne's eyes had grown progressively wider. This... the hero who had saved her life, who had carried her up out of the lake and made her heart beat so fast she couldn't believe no one could hear it, was a Weasley!?

"Bill!" Little Ginny Weasley had come splashing up through the shallow waves and threw herself at the man, letting herself be swept up into a hug. "Bill, you've got to come to school with us. Everyone else keeps leaving me behind!"

As he pulled his baby sister up into his arms, Bill used his wand to magic the girl dry as he had done for 'Harry'.

Ron, apparently feeling that his earlier outburst hadn't been taken seriously enough, exclaimed even louder, "My brother's a teacher?! Why didn't mum say anything?"

"I asked her to keep it secret." Bill replied as they reached the gathering group. "Didn't want you jumping off the train and transferring to Durmstrang or something."

Hagrid, giant that he was, waved both massive hands over his head. His voice bellowed, "Ev'ryone over here! All yeh students, form up here!" He called, giving Daphne and the others a quick wave and a relieved smile when he saw them. "Tha's righ'. It's all gonna be just fine."

Ron had paled by that point, as something else obviously occurred to him. "Bill! You can't teach Defense Against The Dark Arts. That job's cursed! Everyone knows the teachers don't last."

Bill shook his head, still carrying Ginny. "Not teaching that. Professor Dumbledore hired me to teach History."

"History of Magic?" Daphne frowned at that, finally finding her voice. "What about Binns?" Not that she minded losing the boring old ghost, especially if it meant that the very best Weasley of all was going to be teaching them.

"You'll have to ask Dumbledore for specifics." Bill said with a shrug. "All I know is Binns was no longer available, so they needed a replacement on rather short notice."

"Then who's teaching Defense?" Hermione wondered aloud.

"That, my dear lady, would be me." A rich, cultured voice announced. Daphne looked up to see a man with a dazzling, perfect smile, perfectly curled blonde hair, and robes as blue as the sky.

Daphne knew the face. It had graced many book covers and posters in her family's house. And even if she hadn't known it before, the book list she'd received before shopping in Diagon Alley had included half a dozen of his work. "Y-you... you're..."

"Mr. Lockheart?" Hermione exclaimed. "You didn't say that you were going to be teaching us this year when we got your autographs!"

The man gave that dazzling, blinding smile once again, holding up a finger. "Ah, that's Professor Lockheart, my dear..." He tilted his head a little in an attempt to read the name printed on the front of the book that she held to her chest. "... Hedgemony?"

"Hermione." The young witch corrected. "Hermione Granger, sir. We met in-"

"I'm sure it was an amazing experience for us all." Lockhart looked away and toward the lake, shaking his head regretfully as he made tutting noises. "It's too bad that I wasn't waiting here for the poor students. I would have been able to stop the train from going into the lake, had I but had the opportunity." He lamented with a sorrowful shake of his head before perking up. "Ah well, who wants a personalized copy of my autobiography, Magical Me?"

There was a clamor, mostly from the female students, before Bill cleared his throat. "Does anyone know why the train went off the tracks?"

Daphne, who had looked away, shook her head and pointed. "It didn't, see?" There were train tracks leading from the main track, all the way down and into the lake.

Bill set Ginny down and moved to the tracks, taking a knee to examine them. "How could this happen? The tracks for the Hogwarts Express are enchanted. Someone would have had to disrupt the enchantment, move the tracks all the way out here, and use an illusion to stop Hagrid or anyone else from noticing." He glanced up toward the castle that they could see across the lake. "And stop Dumbledore or any of the other staff from noticing. That'd take a lot of wizards."

"Or one really powerful and dangerous one." Daphne said pointedly.

Ron paled. "You think it was..."

Bill was frowning. "Why? What's the point?" He seemed to realize belatedly who he was talking to, and shook his head. "Never mind. Let's get everyone up to the castle." Flicking his wand out once more, he summoned a great, silvery stallion patronus. Daphne had only ever seen one corporal version, her mother's turtle. This one was beautiful, large and wild, whipping its mane back and forth. It stomped its hooves in a way that seemed like it should have actually kicked up dirt.

"Message to Dumbledore." Bill said to the stallion patronus. "Accident on the train. All students accounted for. Bringing them straight away." The stallion trotted in a circle around them, then galloped off across the lake and into the air toward the castle.

"Ah, don' think we should be goin' on the boats with the firs' years this time." Hagrid had managed to get everyone into one large group, though everyone looked cold, wet, and miserable.

"Professor Lockhart," Hermione tugged at the man's robe. "Couldn't you dry all the students off at once? Like that time you had to save the village of Porthet from freezing after that dark wizard summoned the flood."

"Ah, too right, dear Hedgemony." Lockhart nodded. "Too right indeed." He paused, seeming to adjust his wand before making a few flicking motions as though to warm up.

Bill cleared his throat. "Ah, I can give you a hand if you like."

"Nonsense." Lockhart gave a couple more practice swishes of his wand, and then set himself. "Now, let me see just how much I need to dry... what phase of the moon it is... ah, I don't suppose anyone here is allergic to milk? Anyone? Might interfere with the spell. Might just... nobody? Not a single person is allergic to milk here? Peanuts maybe? Don't be afraid to speak up. Wouldn't want anything bad to happen."

Getting no answer, the man cleared his throat, raised his wand... and then Daphne blinked. She'd been looking up at a cloud that had been passing in front of the moon, only now the cloud was past the moon by a couple of minutes. Everything seemed... off.

"There we are." Lockhart lowered his wand, every student's robes dry. "Just like new."

Bill was shaking his head, making a face as though trying to shake off some strange feeling. His wand was in his hand, and Daphne distinctly remembered him putting it away after sending the patronus messenger off.

She shook off the confusion to focus on the important question. Namely, who had expended all the power needed to divert the train full of students into the lake?

And why?
« Last Edit: July 18, 2014, 04:31:49 AM by Kitulean »

Offline Kitulean

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Re: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2014, 04:52:05 AM »
Chapter Six

Forcing herself to sit at the Gryffindor table was harder now that it had been at the end of last year. Back then, she had just been around the other Slytherins for the whole year, and her attention was taken up in those last two days by the very new concept of pretending to be someone else.

Now, while she still wasn't practiced at being Harry in front of other students, she had been away for the entire summer. For three months, she had been on her own. The truth was, she missed her friends. She missed being Daphne, and everything that came with that. She was the heiress to one of the last remaining Noble and Most Ancient Houses and, selfish as it might seem, she missed everything that had entailed.

Still, with only a slightly longing look toward the table where she had sat the year before, Daphne took the seat next to Weasley and glumly pushed Harry's glasses back up on her face. She had repaired them, again, but the fit was off once more. She was going to have to fiddle with them later, once they had gotten through the Sorting and the feast.

The ride up to the castle in the carriages had been crowded, with the first years squeezed in alongside everyone else, and noisy as everyone tried to talk at once. Some students had even attempted to hold conversations from one carriage to another, leaning out their windows and calling back and forth. Overall, the gist was clear, no one knew why the train had gone into the lake, and absolutely everybody had their own theory. Malfoy blamed Dumbledore, Luna claimed that it was a sure sign of something-or-other infestation, one of the older Ravenclaws believed that Peeves had finally gone too far in his pranks, Weasley blamed every Slytherin in existence, and one rather outspoken fourth year Hufflepuff firmly believed that this was only the first stage of a massive house-elf rebellion.

Even once they'd arrived at the castle things hadn't calmed down. Dumbledore had gone off with Bill Weasley and Hagrid to discuss what had happened, their faces looking pensive and drawn while the Headmaster had simply looked tired. While they were gone, and Professor McGonagall was out with the first years, getting them ready, the discussions had continued with just as much fervor and intensity.

All of the arguments and blind claims had been loud, long, and exhausting. Daphne had kept quiet throughout the ride and the subsequent table-to-table discussions, letting the words flow past her. She had learned to meditate years ago, discovering that the ability to let her thoughts drift and focus on nothing was essential to not losing her mind. She remained silent while others argued so that whenever she did speak up, people tended to listen.

Of course, that wasn't Potter's way, but it was a difficult habit to break.

When she saw the potions instructor up at the staff table, Daphne had actually lifted a hand to wave at her old head of house and smiled politely without thinking.

The man's response had been a suspicious and blatant glare, and Daphne had only belatedly remembered that the Slytherin head of house hated Harry Potter for some reason or another.

Resting her chin in one hand, she went back to staring at the seat she had always preferred at the Slytherin table. It was empty, with Tracy and Pansy on either side. It almost looked as though they were saving the seat for Daphne, which sent another pang through her and brought on a sigh.

"Harry?" Hermione had noticed the sigh, and the look. "Are you all right?" She followed 'his' line of sight and winced. It looked as though she had been about to say something, but in that moment, the doors of the Great Hall swung open at the back of the room, and Professor McGonagall began to lead the First Years (who had simply been receiving last minute instructions and greetings from the Deputy Headmistress in the corridor, since they hadn't had to cross the lake on the boats) into the room.

Turning slightly, grateful for the interruption, Daphne watched as the younger students, who looked much more nervous than she could remember being at that time (of course, the train sabotage made that completely understandable), filed past the tables and up toward the front of the room.

The Sorting Hat began its song, but Daphne wasn't listening. All of her attention was devoted once again toward her old seat. How easy would it be to simply stand up, announce the truth, and go back to her old life? She could be herself again, after a summer of being alone. She could be popular, rich, and respected. A snap of her fingers could grant her anything she wanted almost as easily as when a house-elf did it. She could be Daphne Adelaide Greengrass, and never have to worry about any of this again.

Except that she would worry about it. She could never live with herself if she didn't carry on with the job she had given herself. As tempting as it was to give all this up, Daphne couldn't do it. Whenever she thought about what Potter had done to save her, the thought of letting that sacrifice mean nothing made her want to vomit.

Once the Hat was done, the actual Sorting could begin. Colin Creevey, the boy who had apparently been bemoaning his ruined camera, was the first to come to Gryffindor. Daphne applauded absently, part of her wishing that the sorting could take place before school began so that they could get on with things instead of making such a big production out of it every year.

Eventually, a boy named Preston Harper grew so startled by the Hat's presence on his head that he tore it off and threw it out into the tables with a cry of surprise. Daphne had no idea what the hat could have said to the boy to startle him so much, but he looked thoroughly sheepish once the act was done. McGonagall retrieved the hat with a wave of her wand, and the boy submitted to its presence once more. Only a brief second was needed before the hat announced its decision, and Harper was sent to Slytherin.

More students were sent to their respective tables, including Luna, whom the hat immediately directed to Ravenclaw.

Then came time for Weasley, Ginny to be sorted. Ron nudged 'Harry'. "Budge over a bit, would you? I'm sure Gin'll complain if she doesn't get to sit right with us. Always going on about how we leave her behind. I'll tell you one thing, we're never gonna get a moment's peace with that-"

"SLYTHERIN!"

Ron was rising and applauding reflexively, turning his face up toward his sister on the stool. Only once he had taken in her stricken, confused look and seen everyone else at the Gryffindor table remaining seated and silent did he process what had been said. "Wait, what?"

Everyone else looked just as surprised. Everyone save for Bill Weasley, who stood from his chair and moved past Professor McGonagall to take a knee next to his baby sister. Plucking the hat off her head and handing it to the deputy headmistress, he whispered something into Ginny's ear and then pointed to the Slytherin table.

Then he rose and, quite deliberately, began to applaud. After a moment, Dumbledore joined him, followed by McGonagall, Flitwick, and then the rest of the staff. Even Ginny's new head of house joined in with a tiny smirk. The applause finally drifted out to the students, as Ginny, whose face was as red as her hair, moved to take her seat.

The embarrassing crush on the eldest Weasley boy that Daphne had been fighting against redoubled, and she had to violently suppress the urge to sigh dreamily.

Ron was still standing, staring as his sister took her seat at the Slytherin table. As Professor McGonagall began to call the last name, the boy literally cupped his hands to his mouth and called, "Do-over!"

Every eye in the room swiveled to the source of the noise, and Daphne tried to shrink down in her seat. On the other side of her, Hermione did the same. The Granger girl whispered out of the side of her mouth, "Is that invisibility cloak handy?"

"I wish." Daphne replied, closing her eyes and praying that Ron took the hint and sat down.

But he didn't. Instead, Ron actually moved away from the table, running right up to where McGonagall was. The two argued quietly, though not so quiet that Daphne failed to note the indignation on the older woman's face as Ron actually questioned the integrity of the hat. The boy was putting out all manner of conspiracy theories, mostly revolving Slytherins sabotaging the Sorting Hat for some kind of prank.

"Mr. Weasley," Professor McGonagall finally announced in loud exasperation. "If you do not sit down and refrain from questioning the Sorting Hat's prowess toward its one and only function, I may be forced to take your advice by having you re-sorted. Perhaps the Hat may be persuaded to add the merpeople of the Black Lake to its prospective groups."

Finally, mercifully, Ron returned to his seat. A glance toward the Slytherin table showed that Ginny was sitting as far from the other students as she could, her head resting on her folded arms. Her shoulders shook every once in awhile.

The sight made Daphne cringe. The idea of Slytherin house being the place for evil students was so ingrained in the Weasley family that not only did it make Ron jump up and make an utter arse of himself, but it had reduced Ginny herself to obvious tears.

No. She wouldn't let that happen. She may be pretending to be Gryffindor for the time being, but to Merlin's Grave if she was going to let a little girl, even a Weasley girl, go on being that upset over the House she had been sorted into. A House was one's identity for at the very least seven years, and most often carried on throughout their life. Ginny Weasley was not going to go on believing that her placement meant something bad about her. Daphne would not allow it.

She'd find a way to talk it out with the girl, somehow.

Once Ron sat down, he glared down the table at his older brothers. "Where the hell were you lot?" He demanded. "You should've been helping Ginny too."

Percy, his prefect badge shining from the repeated polishing he hadn't stopped giving it, gave no response other than to lower his head and groan weakly.

"Is that what you call it, dear brother?" Fred or... George, whichever, asked curiously. He tapped a finger against his chin. "It looked like something else to us."

"Yes," George or Fred agreed. "Now what did it look like? It starts with an H..."

"Hubristic?" Fred or George offered.

George or Fred considered that. "Hmm, no, we're thinking of something else. Horrifying?"

"Close." Fred or George gave a quick nod. "But not quite. No, there's one very specific word that encompasses what you just did."

"Humiliating." Hermione put in, her face livid as she stared at Ron. "Utterly humiliating."

"That's the one!" The two boys announced together. They both grinned, and George or Fred pointed at her. "Knew there was a reason we kept you around, moppet."

Fred or George nodded. "Though we also would have accepted B, for bellend. A big, blubbering bellend."

Ron's head shook violently. "What are you talking about? I was trying to save Ginny from-"

"From what?" Daphne finally spoke, 'his' voice like ice as 'he' stared at the boy. "Please, tell me what humiliating your sister, singling her out apart from every other student and making both her, and everyone else think that there's something wrong with her for being sorted into one of four possible houses accomplished, exactly. Because I can't wait to hear the clearly fascinating thought process that led to that display seeming to be a good idea."

Now everyone was staring at 'him', and Daphne realized belatedly that that had not really been anything like Harry Potter. Whoops.

"Sorry, Harry." Ron looked equal parts confused and indignant, settling into his seat with a long look at 'him'. "Maybe if you'd told us about your secret girlfriend last year, I could've gotten used to Slytherins being around."

"Ron!" Hermione gasped, shooting a violent look across the space between them.

Daphne, for her part, was confused. Harry had a secret Slytherin girlfriend? Was it someone she knew?

Granger turned back to her. "I'm sorry, Harry, I tried to stop them from gossiping, but... well, they're convinced that you and... it's just that you were so upset about her death, and the fact that she was there to begin with, and..."

"Daphne did sacrifice herself to save you." Ron finished with an awkward shrug. "It's not exactly a normal Slytherin thing."

It took her brain another moment to catch up with what they were implying. "Daphne!?" She exclaimed. "People think that I was Ha- hanging out with Daphne? They think she and I were..."

"It's ridiculous, Harry." Hermione said with a sniff. "As if a boy and a girl couldn't be friends without something like that. And we're far too young anyway. Honestly, some people-" She looked toward Ron deliberately. "-need to grow up."

"Does everyone think that she and I were like that?" Daphne looked up and down the table, receiving a chorus of nods, including one that confused her further. "Creevey, didn't you just get here?"

The younger boy pointed to the third year girl next to him. "She told me."

"You sat down seven minutes ago!" Daphne exclaimed in loud exasperation.

"Harry, it's okay." Hermione tried to calm 'him'. "It's all right if you were friends with her. I mean, I'd say I wish you didn't hide it, but considering the reaction you've gotten, I'm not surprised. I'm really sorry about what happened. You can talk about it whenever you want."

"But we weren't!" Daphne shook her head. "Harry-" She cleared her throat. "Harry and Daphne Greengrass never even spoke to each other outside of class before that night, I swear. Is it that inconceivable that she was just a good person who didn't want someone else to die?"

The question was met with blank, uncomfortable looks, making Daphne roll her eyes. "Oh for Mordred's sake, you people are impossible." She turned her attention solely to the front, in time to hear Dumbledore finish up his welcome speech by promising that the situation with the train was being investigated and that they were all perfectly safe while on Hogwarts grounds. Then he cautioned them to avoid the Forbidden Forest if they wished to maintain that safety, before inviting the students to dig in to the feast.

The food appeared, and Daphne had a moment to wonder why the Headmaster hadn't mentioned that she-knew-who was back. Or would be back soon. Daphne wasn't quite clear on that. Would it take the dark wizard weeks, months, or years to return to his full power using the stone? Could she put a stop to it if she could manage to get the stone itself away from Quirrel? Assuming she could track the old Defense teacher down to begin with.

Once she took a moment to think about it, Daphne realized that was likely the reason why Dumbledore hadn't brought it up, honestly. If he alarmed everyone now and she-knew-who took a year or more to return to his former self, no one would believe him. Their guards would lapse, and Dumbledore himself might even lose his credibility.

Honestly, were she the bad guy, that's how she'd do it. She'd make her return as quiet and as secret as possible so that Dumbledore's call to arms would be ignored until it was too late.

v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~

"Ginny, wait up!" Daphne had left Granger and the Weasley boy behind once the feast ended, ducking her way through the crowd in order to catch up with the red-head girl as she made her way quickly out of the room. Ginny hadn't even waited for her own House prefect to guide the group to the common room.

When she stopped and saw who was calling her, the girl's mouth fell open once more and she stood in rapt silence, staring.

"You went off without your housemates." Daphne said, frowning. "How are you going to find your common room?" When this was met with the same wide eyed silence, she sighed. "Okay, look." Tugging the other girl by the arm down a side corridor, she carefully took off the glasses and put them in her pocket. Then she brushed the bangs of her hair down to cover her forehead. She had been keeping the scar front and center, because it was the first thing people looked for and paid attention to when they saw 'Harry Potter'. As long as they could see that distinctive lightning bolt scar, they tended to overlook other inconsistencies. It was a simple ruse.

But now she wanted it covered and out of sight. Making sure her bangs hid it, she tugged the other girl to a bench and sat down next to her. "Look at me, Ginny. See, no boy-who-lived. I'm just somebody that's talking to you. So talk to me. Why'd you run out like that?"

After meeting 'his' eyes for just a second, Ginny looked away and down toward the floor. Her voice was full of self-loathing. "They put me in Slytherin. What's mum going to say?"

"If she's a good mum," Daphne answered with a shrug. "She'll say that she's so glad, so relieved that you weren't hurt when the train went in the lake. She'll tell you that her heart stopped when she heard about it, and didn't start again until she knew you were safe. And then if anyone, even you, bring up your House, she'll say that it doesn't matter. She'll say it doesn't change who you are or that you're her daughter and she loves you."

"Because it doesn't, Ginny. It doesn't change anything. Your mum loves you. It doesn't matter what House you get sorted into. All that matters is that you-" She poked the girl in the chest. "-are you. Her daughter. Her little girl. Her only girl. That's far more important than any House."

Ginny was quiet for a long moment before taking in a long breath. She risked a peek up at 'him'. "But everyone in my family's always been in Gryffindor. We're Gryffindors. My brothers, my mum, my dad, our grandparents, their grandparents, we've always gone to Gryffindor. And... it's Slytherin."

Daphne paused to consider her response. "Ginny, what exactly do you know about Slytherin?"

The other girl shrugged. "It's for bad people?"

Resisting the urge to roll her eyes and sigh again, Daphne shook her head. "Tell me something, is Headmaster Dumbledore an idiot?"

That made Ginny blink in confusion. "No? He's brilliant. He's the best wizard who ever lived. Everybody knows that."

"Okay." Nodding, Daphne raised an eyebrow. "So, if there was a single House where only bad people went, and all of the bad people always came from that House, would the most brilliant wizard who ever lived keep teaching them? If it was that easy, to literally put a hat on someone's head and know without a shadow of a doubt that if the hat said 'Slytherin', that they were going to be evil and that only they would be the evil ones, would he just keep them around and let them learn everything that everyone else learns?"

Ginny stared at 'him' for a long few seconds, her mouth opening and shutting a few times. Finally, all she could do was shake her head silently, a look of consideration passing over her young face.

"Let's do it this way," Daphne decided. "What type of people is Gryffindor for?"

"Brave people!" Ginny exclaimed immediately. "Gryffindors are the bravest, most courageous people there are."

Daphne shrugged at that. "Okay, Gryffindors are brave. What about Hufflepuffs?"

"Uhh, they're..." Ginny trailed off, thinking for a moment, brow furrowing in thought.

"Loyal." Daphne supplied. "Hufflepuffs are loyal. No matter what, they stick by their friends. If you pick on one Hufflepuff, you're picking on every single one of them. Their House doesn't really tend to attract the students that openly excel, but they make up for it by working together. Maybe it takes two or three Puffs to equal a single superstar Gryffindor, but they'll use nine or ten just to make the point. And they can, because Hufflepuffs stick together."

Having picked up the gist of where the conversation was going next, Ginny supplied, "Ravenclaws are smart?"

Daphne nodded. "Smart, clever, curious, take your pick. They like to find the answers to everything, and they are very, very good at finding those answers. Do you ever wonder why Granger isn't in Ravenclaw?"

The question made Ginny frown. "She's really smart. Really, really smart. Ron says she's so smart that-"

"Yeah, she's brilliant, whatever." Daphne tried to keep the jealousy out of her own tone. "My point is, why isn't she in Ravenclaw?"

The other girl shook her head, a confused expression on her face. "I don't know." She perked up then. "Did the Sorting Hat mess up with her too?"

Restraining a sigh, Daphne shook her head. "No. There was no mistake. A Ravenclaw is smart, but they're also curious. They're smart because they have to find out the answers to things, no matter what rule gets in the way. Hermione never met a rule she didn't want to follow."

"It's like this, Hermione is brilliant because she reads and memorizes books. She does the homework, is studious and is really good at doing exactly what the book tells her to do. But Ravenclaws read the books and then they want to know why it works that way. Hermione memorizes, Ravenclaws investigate. They'll break the rules, go around the books, talk to people, even try things that aren't in the books just to get the answers they want. Hermione memorizes the answers the book gives her. Ravenclaws come up with new questions and then go find the answers themselves."

After taking that in for a moment, Ginny hesitated. "So, what does that have to do with me and being in S-slytherin?" She stumbled over the name, blanching when she said it.

"Everything." Daphne answered. "Because being in Slytherin doesn't make you evil any more than being in Gryffindor made Hermione dumb. She is who she is, no matter what House she gets put in. And Slytherin itself isn't about being evil. Just like being in Gryffindor is about being brave, or being in Hufflepuff is about being loyal, or being in Ravenclaw is about being clever and curious, being in Slytherin is about being cunning."

Seeing the other girl consider that, Daphne continued. "Think of it like this, say there's a door that you need to get through. A Gryffindor will rear back and kick the door down, then charge right through. A Hufflepuff will wait for all of their friends, and break the door down together to get inside. A Ravenclaw will check the door itself and realize that it's not locked."

"A Slytherin, on the other hand, will figure out that the door is probably trapped or being watched. So they'll go around the other way, find a different entrance, and come up behind the person who was trying to ambush them on the other side of the door." She tapped her head. "Being a Slytherin is all about using your head, Ginny. It's about winning not because you're the smartest, the bravest, or because you have the best friends, but because you use your head and you find the way to beat people stronger than you. You find the way to survive, the way to take care of the people who matter to you even if they're facing something more powerful than you could ever dream of being. It's about fighting smart, not hard."

"It's about cheating?" The other girl asked hesitantly.

"Would you rather cheat, and beat someone more powerful than you, who would kill everyone you know once you're gone?" Daphne asked her. "Or would you rather lose?"

Ginny's voice was soft, almost a whisper. "I'm not evil for going to Slytherin?"

Daphne's head shook firmly. "No. You are not evil for going to Slytherin."

A sudden smile lit up the girl's face then, as the weight that had settled heavily on her shoulders ever since she had been sorted lifted a little bit. Then she paused and frowned. "What about Malfoy? Ron talks about him all the time. He doesn't sound very cunning."

"Are you kidding?" Daphne asked dryly. "If being a Slytherin is about finding the way to win every fight no matter how unfair, Draco is the perfect example. He solves every single disagreement with six words: 'when my father hears about this...'"

Ginny giggled at that, and Daphne felt like, for the first time, taking Potter's place had resulted in something good.

v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~

After taking Ginny to the Slytherin common room in the dungeons (ignoring the question of how she knew where it was), and delivering her to the fifth year prefect who was rather frantic about having lost one of his charges on the very first night, Daphne made her way up to where the Gryffindor dorms were. She found Ron and Hermione waiting outside to tell 'Harry' the new password, told the former rather shortly that 'he' had spoken to Ginny and that the girl would be all right, then yawned openly and excused herself for the night before going upstairs.

Weasley came in behind Daphne, hesitating before he spoke up. "Hey, thanks for uhh, for talking to Gin. I wouldn't have known what to say."

Mouthing, 'no kidding' as she faced away from the boy, Daphne finally turned around and shrugged. "Just don't write her off. And please don't be stupid enough to say anything about her being in the 'wrong' House again. You'll just make it worse."

Ron shook his head, still staring. "When did you become so buddy buddy with the snakes?"

Choosing not to dignify that with an answer, mostly because she couldn't think of one, Daphne instead turned back to the bed that had been Potter's, falling face first down on top of it before dragging the blanket back and sliding under it.

"Aren't you gonna change?" Ron asked from the direction of the other bed.

She made the mistake of turning her head to look that way as she started to respond, getting an eyeful of the Weasley boy in mid-change himself. Immediately squeezing her eyes tightly shut while her subconscious ran in circles screaming at the top of its lungs before dousing its head in a bucket of sanitary potion, Daphne took a moment to find her voice. "Too tired to worry about it now. Just need sleep."

She really was going to have to figure out how to handle this whole 'changing clothes' thing. It was a problem that had niggled at her brain over the entire summer, but other than avoiding the issue, spending her nights burrowed deep under covers and never, ever letting anyone actually see her in pajamas, Daphne had yet to figure out a perfect solution.

"Well, get some rest." Ron urged. "I heard that Oliver's gonna have the team out on the pitch first thing after classes tomorrow. Poor bloke's desperate to win the cup this year, after what happened at the end of last year. Err, not that that was your fault or anything."

Daphne groaned into the pillow. Quidditch. How could she have forgotten about bloody Quidditch? Potter was the team seeker, and she barely knew how to fly. There had to be a way out of it. Hell, maybe she could claim that seeing she-knew-who at the end of last year had put 'him' off flying for good?"

Of course, that could only work at all if Dumbledore had told anyone that the dark wizard himself had returned, that... he was back.

Frowning against the pillow then, Daphne rolled over and looked at the ceiling. She-Knew-Who. You-Knew-Who. So... why couldn't she remember who exactly, then?

"Ron?"

"Eh?" The boy had climbed into his own bed by that point.

"What's his name?" Daphne continued to frown at the ceiling.

"Who?"

"You-know-who." She supplied. "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I... can't remember what his name is."

This was really bad. Sure everyone used 'they-knew-who' and so forth, but his name, the name he went by, was permanently engrained into the collective consciousness of the entire society. Why couldn't she recall it?

Ron seemed equally puzzled. "Umm... Damn, it's on the tip of my tongue, I swear. Ahhh..."

Two of the other Gryffindor boys, Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan, came in then. Ron put the question to them, and neither could supply any answer.

Well this was just ridiculous. If it hadn't been so late, Daphne would have gone to ask a teacher. She would in the morning. For a moment, she sighed at the fact that she was going to have to talk to Professor McGonagall. Not only was fooling adults about who she was much harder, but she didn't have the close relationship with the woman that the real Potter had.

If only she could talk to her own, real Head of House. The man might be strict and rather unfair to non-Slytherins, even she could see and acknowledge that, but he had always been willing to answer any questions about the Dark Lord that his students had.

Maybe she'd still try to talk to him. After all, he might know more than McGonagall about what might have made her and the rest of the students forget who the Dark Lord actually was. And more to the point, he might say things about it that the deputy headmistress wouldn't.

Professor Tom Riddle was mercurial that way.

Note: I swear everything will be explained in time. No this is not some weird alternate reality where Tom Riddle isn't Voldemort. There are answers, related to Daphne and the others being unable to recall the name Voldemort itself. Also, I was going to play with Riddle showing up at the end of Daphne's talk with Ginny while still making it seem like it was Snape until the very end, but it was surprisingly difficult to include references to the man without making it obvious that the person assumed to be Snape was actually Riddle. There's only so many ways you can say 'potions professor' or 'old head-of-house. So that bit got dropped. I think it works better this way.

Offline Shenmue654

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Re: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2014, 02:33:38 AM »
And for that matter what exactly Ginny Weasley the Gryffindor is doing in Slytherin. Granted Daphne's defense of Ginny was sort of awesome, and reminded me vaguely of someone very close to me. :} Who behaves rather like Daphne and was pretty much born "Slytherin." XD <3

I'd guess I'd turn out either a Ravenclaw or a Hufflepuff, depending on which traits took precedence. Just checking in with this little fanfic and seeing where the alternate universe takes us. ;)

Offline Kitulean

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Re: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2014, 05:45:53 AM »
Yaaaaaaaay a response! :D ;)

Glad you liked Daphne's defense of Ginny, and explanation to her of how Slytherin works. I was never a fan of 'All of those guys are selfish, evil bastards'. One can be calculating and cunning without being evil. I rather like all of the Houses as explained this way, honestly. They all have their merits and their downsides, which is really supposed to be the point.

Chapter Seven

Far sooner than she wished it had, the alarm spell that Daphne had put on her pillow before falling asleep went off. The spell itself was silent, merely making the pillow it was used on gently vibrate at the assigned time until the counter spell was used.

Woken  by the pillow, whose vibrations would gradually increase all the way to shaking the bed it was on if she didn't stop it, Daphne sat up rather blearily and fumbled for her wand. She pointed it at the pillow and whispered the counter spell, getting it wrong twice before her brain woke up enough to get the spell right.

The pillow finally went still, and she was tempted to fall back down on it and get the extra hour of sleep that everyone else would be getting. But Daphne knew that she had to get up and take care of a few things before the rest of the students started filling the hallways.

First, she gathered clean clothes and fresh robes from Harry's trunk and made her way into the bathroom that the second year boys were expected to share. Locking the door behind her, and for good measure adding the simple lock spell that she had learned the previous year as part of an ongoing effort at keeping the more... reputation-worthy Slytherins from stealing her things, she proceeded to take care of her morning routine.

Honestly, she doubted that hiding her gender as far as baths and showers went was going to be that hard. It wasn't like the boys were going to be super eager to come in on each other bathing. Provided she made it obvious that the bathroom was occupied, prevented anyone from accidentally barging in, and didn't take forever while they were waiting (part of the reason for waking up early), it shouldn't be difficult to keep her hygiene up without being caught.

After cleaning herself thoroughly and habitually checking the burn scar to make certain that it still looked right, Daphne dressed herself and then took care of one more thing that needed to be done before classes started. The fact was that while she technically could use Potter's wand, it would never work quite as well as the one that had been matched to her. But if people saw her using a different wand, and teachers tended to notice that kind of thing, there would be questions that she couldn't answer.

Taking both her own and Harry's wand, Daphne set the two side by side. Hers was an inch shorter, and made of a darker wood. There wasn't a lot she could do about the length, considering transfiguring a wand would have been difficult for a seventh year, let alone a second. She could, however, use the same sort of color change charm that she had been renewing each day on her hair, on the wood. And she'd already managed to make that particular spell work with the real Potter's wand.

She took it up then, examining the wood carefully to be sure she had it right before casting the charm on her own wand. It took three tries, but she finally managed to match her wand's color to Harry's.

There, it still wasn't the right length, but considering how wizards held their wands, that was much harder to notice offhand. Slipping both wands away, the girl started out. Making certain the light was doused when she left the bathroom, she carefully opened the door and listened. All she heard was quiet snoring. The boys were still asleep.

Breathing out in relief, she took a moment to collect the invisibility cloak and the book that Moody had sent her, then pulled the cloak on before starting down to the common room. After slipping the invisibility cloak on and exiting into the corridor (leaving the poor fat lady in the painting confused after she had been startled awake by seemingly nothing), Daphne started to head for the library. There were things there that she wanted to learn about that were much more difficult to find under the watchful eye of the librarian, Madam Pince.

Using the invisibility cloak so much throughout the summer had made it almost second nature to be invisible. Daphne had found herself preferring the solitude and privacy of it more and more, sometimes even sitting under the cloak inside Harry's room when no one could see her anyway, or simply taking walks out on the street with the cloak on to avoid interacting with anyone. Not that many people had tried to talk to 'him' anyway, aside from that Figg woman with all the cats that kept staring from her windows whenever she thought that 'Harry' couldn't see her.

Once she was among the stacks, Daphne took a moment to listen carefully. No one else was in the library, not even Pince herself. Taking advantage of the privacy, she started back toward the restricted section and ducked under the rope to get in.

For the next half hour, she searched through the restricted books for anything related to the philosopher's stone that Quirrel had stolen. She wasn't going to bother with the regular books, since anything worthwhile would be in the books that the staff kept a much closer eye on, especially after last year.

Unfortunately, the fact that she couldn't ask the librarian for any kind of direction, or even use the card catalog that helped students find the regular books, meant that half an hour wasn't nearly enough time to find what she needed. She had no other choice but to carefully examine each and every book, trying to ignore the sounds that some of them made in their attempts to either scare her away or summon her nearer. She'd barely finished ruling out the books in one aisle before it was almost time to leave.

Looking at the rest of what she had to go through at some point to find what she needed, the girl sighed inwardly. Either Daphne was going to have to wake up earlier to get down into the restricted section with enough time to actually search thoroughly, or she needed a better way to narrow down where the book she wanted might be.

The trouble was, she had no way of knowing what kind of system Pince was using to organize these restricted volumes, and the search thus far hadn't done anything to answer that either. She had seen books about summoning minor demons right alongside detailed descriptions of memory adjustment potions and a couple of books whose presence utterly baffled Daphne considering how innocent they seemed. She was almost tempted to believe they had been misfiled, but Madam Pince was, if nothing else, obsessive about her books. There was no way that she would allow books to be put back on the wrong shelf.

All of which meant that even though Daphne had no clue why these seemingly innocuous children's books were set out of the way, there had to be a reason for it. Considering what that reason might be distracted her until the clock on the wall nearby indicated that it was almost time for the rest of the students to wake up. She had a few minutes to return to the common room so that she wouldn't be missed.

While she was about to slide the brightly colored book back into its spot, she heard a clearly annoyed voice hiss from the next aisle over. “Explain to me where it could be then? And please, do try not to tax my patience or your clearly limited vocabulary by using more than five words, you simpleton.”

Daphne turned in time to see a shadow pass by the lamp at the end of the aisle, even as a second, calmer voice answered, “I don't know. I swear.”

The angry, though cultured voice hissed a curse. “Perhaps I should motivate you further.”

“No, no.” The second voice pleaded. “If I knew where they put it, I'd tell you. I would. I don't need... motivation.”

Confused, worried, and intrigued all at once, Daphne tucked the book under the cloak so that it wouldn't be seen floating through the air, and then crept to the end of the aisle to get a better look. She was just in time to have to jump back as one of the books was flung through the air.

The book was caught in midair with a hovering charm just in front of her aisle. That dangerous voice whispered, “You try my patience, Abercrombie.” The book began to float back the other way. “But we mustn't leave evidence of our search.”

“We'll find it.” The calmer voice reassured whoever was so mad. “We will, just give us time.”

Carefully, Daphne poked her head back around the edge of the bookshelf once she didn't think that she'd end up taking a leather-bound projectile to the face. She couldn't see anyone at first, then noticed a shadow passing the librarian's desk and moving into the corridor.

She hurried to catch up, while trying to remain as quiet as possible. Being invisible would be pointless if she tripped over a chair and went sprawling. All of which meant that by the time she reached the doorway, all she could see was the remnant of a cloak swishing around the corner at the end of the corridor.

Daphne attempted to sprint without making noise, the obvious ridiculous sight of which (long, exaggerated leg strides followed by gingerly landing on her toes at the end of each step in a sort of side-ways fashion) made her even more grateful for the fact that no one could see her.

Throughout her pursuit of the arguing duo, Daphne remained far enough behind that all she could see was shadows and fading signs of movement. She trailed them all the way to the stairs and from there down from the fourth floor where the library was, to the second.

The voices echoed back toward her from around the next corner. The dangerous one seemed to be brooding, while the other, Abercrombie, apparently, kept muttering reassurances and promises that they would find whatever it was the two of them had been searching for.

Finally, the angry voice said with a tone of finality, “If we can't find it, I'll just release my little friend. If Dumbledore is busy trying to save his precious mudbloods, we can search more thoroughly.”

Daphne heard a door swing open and then shut, and quickly hurried around the corner and down the hall. She stopped at where she thought the pair had gone and looked up.

It was the girls' bathroom. The girls' bathroom that all the girls avoided because of Myrtle, the obnoxious, wailing ghost that haunted it. Frowning, Daphne pressed her ear to the door. She thought that she could hear something grinding inside, but couldn't be sure with all the other noises the castle made all the time.

Working up her nerve, the Slytherin-hidden-as-a-Gryffindor got her wand ready. Being invisible would give her a bit of an advantage, but she'd have to be sure to take care of angry voice first. Abercrombie would probably be easier to deal with once his leader or master or whatever he was went down.

Before she could tell herself how phenomenally bad this could end up, Daphne pushed the door open and raised her wand beneath the cloak, the stunning curse on her lips.

She found an empty bathroom, utterly devoid of potential stupefying targets. For a moment, she simply stood in place, letting the bathroom door swing shut in her face.

Shoving the door open once more, Daphne stepped inside and looked around. Nothing. No one. She looked in every stall, crouched to look behind and under the sinks, and still found no sign that anyone had been there.

Sweeping the cloak off, as she had started to feel claustrophobic in it while trailing the voices, the girl crouched to peer under the sinks one more time, completely at a loss. Could she have been mistaken? Maybe the voices went into some other room.

After a last glance around the clearly empty room, Daphne sighed and started to the door once more. By now, some people would be up and moving around to get ready for the day.

Barely had she stepped into the corridor, than a confused voice spoke up from just down the hall. “Harry?”

Making a face at the fact that she hadn't put the cloak back on, Daphne turned that way. It was the other Gryffindor second year, the one she hadn't met. Longbottom. What was his first name again? Sniffles? Snivvles? Nibbles? Norbert? Neb... Nev... “Neville? What are you doing here?”

Neville hesitated, and Daphne noticed that he looked exhausted.  “I was... taking a walk. I couldn't sleep.” The boy shifted from foot to foot, and the expression on his face was so broken that Daphne was afraid that someone else had died. Before she could find a way to ask about it, he said quickly, “Please don't hate me, Harry. Please, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I didn't know. I swear, Gran says there's nothing else I could've done, but I shouldn't have done what I did. If I didn't, then it wouldn't have happened. I don't know how to fix it, Harry. But please don't hate me. Please, just tell me what I can do.” He looked miserable.

Daphne was bewildered. Just what had this boy done to Harry Potter? “Neville...” 'He' began without thinking. “What are you so upset about?” If nothing else, she could just play off the apparent lack of knowledge as Harry's typical do-gooder, forgive everything personality.

“I...” Neville's eyes closed, and she thought he was about to cry. “She's dead, because of me.”

Blood running cold, Daphne swallowed. “Who?”

“Who?” Neville peeked up, his eyes red. “Greengrass. Daphne Greengrass.”

Well that just made Daphne even more confused. “What-- huh?”

“When I stopped you in the common room.” The boy all but wailed, tempting Daphne to tell him to lower his voice. “When I slowed you down and made you-- err-- Hermione petrify me. I made you wait, I made you slower. If I hadn't tried to stop you, then maybe you could have gotten there earlier, maybe you would have stopped him. Maybe Daphne would still be alive.” Neville's eyes closed, and he dropped his chin to his chest, honest tears falling then. “I'm sorry, Harry. It's my fault.”

“Merlin's Mercy...” Daphne breathed out, staring at the boy. “Have you been going around all summer thinking that?” When the boy nodded hesitantly, she couldn't help herself. She slapped his face. Apparently, her talk with the Weasley girl notwithstanding, Daphne was not ready to become an emotional counselor.

Neville had let out a yelp when he was slapped, holding a hand to his face. But he made no move to defend himself. “I know.” He said morosely. “I deserve worse than that. I want to see if Gran'll move me to another school, maybe--”

She slapped him again. “Stop it.” Daphne ordered, angry now. “Stop... just... stop. Shut up for a minute.” She shoved both of her hands back through her short hair, the habit that she had picked up from checking its new length so often. “Okay, look. Are you a dark wizard?”

The boy hesitated, then shook his head mutely.

“Did you kill Daphne?” She asked him flatly.

Neville's eyes widened, and he shook his head more quickly. “N-no.”

She continued then. “Did you tell Daphne to meet you down in the off limits room for some snogging?”

If possible, Neville's eyes would have leapt out of his head and scurried away. “No!” He blurted, red-faced. “I mean, I thought she was pretty, and... and... maybe sometimes I lost track of what Pro-professor McGonagal was saying because Tracey Davis would tickle Daphne's ear with the end of the quill and make her twitch and I thought it was cute, but I never ever said anything.”

Uh, wow. For a moment, all Daphne could do was stare, twitching a little bit. Tracey had loved to make her jump with that stupid quill, but she hadn't thought anyone else had noticed. Let alone a mousey little Gryffindor who seemed like he should have been tossed directly into Hufflepuff.

“Harry?” Neville asked, clearly worried again.

Shaking it off, Daphne took a breath. “Okay, look, the point is... you didn't kill her. You weren't the reason she was there, and you weren't the reason she died. Slowing H-Hermione, Ron, and me down, that didn't make Daphne die. Because Quirrel already had her when he-- when I got there. You understand that? Quirrel already had Daphne when I got there, so no matter how long I took, he still would have had her. He took her with him.”

“So it's Quirrel that's responsible. You understand that? You try to take any of that blame, and you're taking blame off of him. You try to do that again, you try to make that piece of filth seem even slightly less guilty, and I'll slap you into next week, if I don't just curse you to be green and stinky for a month. Because he's the one I owe. Got it? Not. Your. Fault.”

The boy's head bobbed up and down quickly, and Daphne turned to walk away. “It's too early for this. I need breakfast.” She was halfway down the hall when she noticed that the boy hadn't moved. “Are you coming?”

Neville seemed to shake himself, and quickly followed after 'him'.

v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~

“Everyone take your seats. Take your seats, please. We have much to go over today.” Professor Filius Flitwick walked from the back of the classroom, where the door was, to the front while waving both of his diminutive hands to go along with his instructions to sit.

Sandwiched between Granger and Weasley, as usual, Daphne took her seat and let her eyes drift toward the Hufflepuffs on the other side of the room. Most of them she didn't know, though two did stand out. The first was Ernie Macmillan, whose family's high status meant that the two of them had actually played together a bit as children. Daphne had liked when her mother arranged these outings, even if Ernie could be a bit pompous even as a child. It was at least more fun than when her mother insisted that they spend time with the Malfoys. Draco's idea of a fun time was to brag about how many muggles and blood traitors his father would 'put in their place'. It had been even less endearing coming from a six year old than it was now.

The other Hufflepuff that Daphne knew was the non-Weasley redhead Susan Bones, whose aunt had been the Madam Bones that she had seen in the Ministry. Susan herself had visited the ministry a couple of times over the summer while Daphne had been there. The other girl seemed to feel eyes on her, and looked up to see 'Harry' gazing that way. Looking to either side of herself, Susan then looked back at 'him' and mouthed, 'What?'.

Shaking 'his' head, Daphne looked away as Flitwick climbed up to stand on top of the chair in front of his desk to start the lesson.

“Now then,” The professor began. “Since you are all now capable of casting the basic charms from your first year, it's time that you begin to understand what magic is.” Casting his gaze around the room, the small man asked, “Well? Can anyone tell me what magic is?”

Naturally, Granger's hand was stretched so far into the air that Daphne was fairly certain that her arm was going to pop off and fly into the ceiling. When Flitwick nodded to her, Hermione recited, “Magic is the exercise of one's will and power over the environment toward a host of effects which sidestep what are thought of as ordinary or natural laws. Most uses of purposeful magic fall into one of two categories: charms or transfiguration. Charms tend to alter how an object behaves, adding or changing properties of that object, while transfiguration alters the object itself in a more fundamental manner.”

Flitwick was nodding, all but salivating over the know-it-all's rambling. “Yes, yes, quite good. That was a very good answer, Miss Granger. Five points toward Gryffindor, I believe.” Considering the way that the headmaster had altered the house points rules at the end of the previous year, this caused less annoyance from the Hufflepuff side of the room than it might have otherwise.

But Granger was still a stuffy, spoiled know-it-all.

At the front of the classroom, Professor Flitwick waved his wand, conjuring a long strip of thin green cloth. It hovered flat in the air in front of the students. “You may think of this...” His hand indicated the length of cloth. “... as reality. This cloth is the world we live in.”

A second gesture of the man's wand summoned a second strip of cloth. This one was silver. “This,” Flitwick explained while the second cloth lined up directly beneath the first. “is magic.”

The teacher hopped down from his chair, beginning to pace in front of the class while the two strips of cloth remained where they were. “What we call magic, is an invisible field which lies just beneath our own reality. That field is capable of reshaping our reality by reshaping itself.” Swishing his wand back toward the floating strips, Flitwick made the silver cloth representing magic rise up in one spot, which pushed the cloth representing reality upward in that same place.

“Most people, what we call muggles, are unable to affect or notice this invisible force. But a very special few have been born with the ability to manipulate that field through the force of their will. Those people are all of you, and myself. Wizards and witches.”

Hannah Abbott raised her hand from the Hufflepuff side of the room. “But professor, we don't just will things to happen. We use spells.”

Flitwick nodded. “Quite right indeed. You see, this field that we call magic is very difficult to manipulate in ways that it doesn't yet understand. If it helps, think of magic as a pet animal. What do you do when you wish to make your pet perform a certain action?”

This time, Parvati Patil raised her own hand from a couple seats down from where Daphne sat. “Train it?”

The professor beamed, nodding his head rapidly. “Exactly, Miss Patil. Five more points to Gryffindor. And how do you train a pet?”

It was another Hufflepuff boy who raised his hand then. It took Daphne a moment to place a name to him, Justin Finch-Fletchley. “You train an animal by associating the behavior you desire with a reward or treat of some kind. Specifically, through repetition and consistency. The animal must learn to connect what you want it to do, with being rewarded. This takes time and patience.”

“Oooh very good.” Flitwick was smiling broadly. “Absolutely right. Thank you, Mr. Finch-Fletchley. Thank you very much. Five points to Hufflepuff. Yes, we train a pet through repetition, which itself must be precise. If you are training a dog, you cannot simply say 'sit' one time and 'banana' another and expect the poor animal to do the same thing each time. You must take the time to repeatedly say 'sit' and put the animal into the position you desire. Eventually, all you will need to do is say 'sit' and the animal will act in the manner it has now been trained to.”

“The same can be said for magic. While it is technically possible to enact an effect through pure will, doing so takes a very long time, and can be very taxing. It is far more efficient to follow the training that has already been established. In this case, think of the field of magic as a pet who has lived for thousands of years, and who has been taught a great many tricks. But to convince it to perform those tricks, one must use the proper command. Those commands are what we know as spells. That is why the intonation and wand gestures must be so precise. Because just as you cannot order your pet dog to sit without the proper command, neither can you order magic itself to turn your apple pink without the proper spell.”

This time Daphne couldn't help but raise her hand. “Does that mean a wizard could invent a new spell, even today?”

Flitwick nodded at that. “Oh yes, Mr. Potter, of course. New spells are still occasionally invented,  though it normally takes years of effort. Decades for the more powerful ones. You see, to invent a new spell, a wizard must speak the new incantation and perform the appropriate wand gesture they wish to associate with the spell, and then force the effect through their own will. Even the most powerful wizards can only manage such an effect two, perhaps three times per day, and for a spell to 'take hold' within the magical field itself so that simply performing the associated gestures and vocal components will 'remind' the magic of what it is supposed to do requires hundreds or even thousands of repetitions.”

“By now, with all of the spells that have been invented and trained into the magical field, it is simply more efficient to use one of them than to take the time and effort to invent whole new ones.” He winked at the class then. “After all, one would have to be very devoted indeed to come up with a spell that has not already been well established. Most attempts at such 'inventions' these days are simply minor alterations to spells that have existed for quite some time.”

“Now then,” Flitwick continued. “With your new understanding of what a spell is, precisely, let us begin with our first spell of the year. Most call it the tickling charm. Please hold your wands upright like so...”

v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~

Once class was over, Daphne waited for the other students to leave before approaching the teacher. Ron and Hermione had originally insisted on staying, but she had convinced the pair to go on without her with the premise that the professor was less likely to usher them all to their next class if it was only 'him' that risked being late.

Actually, she was fairly sure that all she would have had to say was the word 'tardy' and Hermione would have left a smoke cloud and trail of flame on her way out the door.

“Professsor Flitwick?”  She spoke up as the professor pushed his chair back behind his desk.

He looked up quickly. “Ah, Mr. Potter, is there something I can help you with?”

Daphne hesitated. “Well, I was wondering... can you remember the name of you-know-who?”

Flitwick blinked twice at that, ****ing his head to the side as if he hadn't heard her properly. “I'm sorry?”

“His name, Professor.” She repeated. “I mean, I know we don't say it, but can you remember what it is?”

The small man's head bobbed. “Well of course I can. It's...” He trailed off, his easy smile turning to a frown. “Well that is, the name of he-who-must-not-be-named would be... I believe that...” A disconcerted look crossed his face then. “How very... odd.”

“Odd?” Daphne echoed. “I think not remembering the name of the most evil wizard who ever lived is a bit more than odd, Professor.”

Now Flitwick looked troubled. “Yes, you're quite right. Excuse me, Mr. Potter, I must go and speak with the Headmaster about this at once.”

Then he was gone, jogging out the door and leaving Daphne to trudge to her next class in a state of quiet contemplation. If even the teachers couldn't remember the name, could anyone? The Wizarding World's greatest enemy might very well reappear somewhere and leave them with no idea of who he really was.

Eventually, she found her way through the dungeons and stepped through the doorway into the potions classroom.

“Mr. Potter.” Professor Riddle himself stood at the front of the room, ramrod straight as always. The man had always been thin and tall, his features almost gangly, with long, wild dark hair that framed a face whose expression had always struck Daphne has a little wild and intense, belying his aristocratic stature.

Even when she had been one of his favored Slytherins, Daphne had thought the man favored his own house far too openly. He was thoroughly unfair toward the other houses, especially Gryffindor, and most especially Potter himself. It was as though Riddle held a special animosity toward the famously-scarred boy.

“Thank you for joining us.” Riddle all but drawled the words, the scorn in his voice palpable. “I do hope that our silly little class didn't interrupt your very busy schedule.”

Most of the Slytherins in the room, whom Gryffindor shared the class with, tittered so much that Daphne wondered if someone had been practicing Professor Flitwick's tickling charm on them. It hadn't been that funny. But then, when one was in Professor Riddle's house, one sucked up to him.

“Sorry, Professor.” 'He' said, trying not to give Riddle any reason to take his annoyance out on 'Harry' even more. “I was talking to Profe--”

Riddle's voice, cultured and powerful, boomed. “My mistake, class.” He took a few steps that way, raising one hand to indicate 'Harry'. “I'm afraid I rather stupidly believed that this was my classroom and that, by extension, I would be the one speaking now.” He made a bowing gesture, gesturing for 'Harry' to go on. “But it seems that Mr. Potter would rather have a conversation.”

“So let's a conversation then, shall we?” Riddle pretended to consider for a moment. “Let's say, ahhh, fifteen points away from...” He smiled thinly. “... every House.”

That caused a brief uproar from both sides, until Riddle shot a look toward the students that silenced them so quickly that Daphne very nearly thought he might have used a silent spell to manage it. “Since the Headmaster has altered the House Cup rules, I find myself needing to be slightly more creative when it comes to finding ways to silence Mr. Potter's cheek. To that end, the entire school will pay for his inability to shut his mouth and sit down.”

Without another word, even though she was seething inwardly, Daphne started toward the seat next to Weasley and ran herself through a calming exercise as she walked.

“Wait.” Professor Riddle was smiling when Daphne looked back that way. “I have a better idea.” He snapped his fingers and began to walk back to the front of the room. “With me, Potter.”

After a momentary hesitation, she followed him. When they reached the front of the room, Professor Riddle indicated the cauldron that sat bubbling away. “I have been preparing this particular potion before school began, in order to begin this year by showing everyone what sort of very special effects a suitably talented potions master may achieve with enough study. I believe that you can help with that.”

Daphne hesitated, frowning. “I can help? How?”

“Easily.” Riddle replied with a small smirk. “This is, thankfully, within even your questionable abilities, Potter. Merely pluck one of your own hairs, and add it to the cauldron.”

She blinked at that. “What? Why?”

Riddle's eyes narrowed and he reached out snake-fast. The next thing Daphne knew, there was a stinging sensation in her scalp and the man was tossing several of her hairs into the cauldron himself.  “This is a polyjuice potion, Mr. Potter. It will change whoever drinks it into a copy of whoever adds a bit of themselves to it.”

As Daphne's eyes widened in sudden panic, Riddle dipped a cup into the cauldron and then raised it. “Now then, who would like to turn into Mr. Potter?”

Offline Shenmue654

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Re: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2014, 03:48:08 PM »
Well, ****. One of three things has happened here:

(1). Voldemort somehow figured it out. Possibly for an obvious reason that Daphne can't duplicate--- She is not one of his Horcruxes and so does not feel ill (Nor cause him to feel odd) when too close in range of his soul. He also would've noticed if one of his insurance plans bought it, and there's pretty much nothing she can do about that either. Or because he's a fairly smart sociopath and twelve year old cleverness only goes so far.  ;)

(2). Voldemort hasn't figured it out, but he's picked up on something being off about Harry so he's playing a gambit to see what happens.

(3). Voldemort's got no clue at all and is just doing his job in a way that humiliates Harry Potter (Which totally works for him).

Either way this is not good at all, and she'll have to pull one hell of a fast one to get out of this mess. In my head, the "Tom Riddle" we see looks like an eerily charismatic Harry Potter still---- But older because the Philosopher's Stone has placed him back at his real age. Granted without aging any further, but still. That brings up an interesting question...

If no one can remember his name in this dimension, does that mean they don't remember his original face either? And where in the world is Snape? o.O

Also, kudos for a strange-yet-plausible magic explanation. :}



« Last Edit: September 15, 2014, 03:50:12 PM by Shenmue654 »

Offline Kitulean

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Re: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2014, 05:03:22 PM »
It's definitely one of those three explanations. I can tell you that much. ;)

And yes, people no longer remember what Voldemort looks like, sounds like, and they're not even fully confident that it's a 'he', to be honest.

Anyway, thanks! I wanted an explanation for magic that still worked within what Rowling actually said in the books themselves. Glad you enjoyed it. And here is the answer for how Daphne gets out of that little problem.

Disclaimer: If I could take fifteen steps to get from a great mansion made entirely of the cash that came from creating Harry Potter, to the second Harry Potter cash mansion, I would have tried to create a few more teachers for the upper classmen, to avoid trying to explain how to design a school schedule that allows twelve to fourteen teachers to teach five days of classes to seven years of students without math itself committing ritual suicide to escape the madness.

Chapter Eight

"The water in your moat looks like fire."

Susan Bones blinked at the observation from her friend and roommate, Hannah Abbott, and looked at the triangular lines she had drawn on the large strip of parchment that lay stretched out between the two of them.

"It's because they're too sharp." Hannah went on, using the feather of her quill to point in demonstration. "For waves you want more of a gentle, drifting line, like stretched out W's rather than upside down V's."

She was right, of course. Hannah was always right when it came to art. The other Hufflepuff was already a fantastic artist, even at twelve years old. She drew realistic looking people, while Susan and most of the rest of the people they knew were relegated to stick figures whose anatomy if translated into the living world probably would have looked like some ancient eldritch horror.

"It is fire." Susan decided to go with it. "A fire moat. Better than a water moat. Because it's fire."

The Hufflepuff second years, along with the Ravenclaws across the room, had been chatting amongst themselves for the past ten minutes. Professor McGonagall had been about to start class when Professor Flitwick had all but sprinted into the room and insisted on talking to the other teacher in the corridor.

Some of the students studied, others simply talked, while a few had taken out books to read or games to play with one another. Susan and Hannah were part of the latter group. The parchment they were drawing on wasn't exactly normal. It was enchanted similarly to the way that wizard portraits were, though much less so.

"A fire moat?" Hannah seemed to consider that, as she examined the crude castle that the other girl had drawn, along with the stick figure archers that lined the wall. Susan felt a little embarrassed at the difference between her amateurish attempts at drawing and the trio of figures that made up Hannah's work on the other side.

Unlike Susan's own blocky and uneven scribbling, Hannah's warriors looked powerful and imposing. Each of the three looked almost real enough to come off the page in spite of the short time that Hannah had spent sketching them out. They wore obviously gleaming metal armor, and were adorned with weaponry. The first carried a long broadsword that he was pointing toward the castle on the other side of the parchment with, along with a shield on his other arm. The second carried two shorter bladed axes, while the third was equipped with a bow and quiver of arrows that looked much more detailed than the ones that Susan had given her own defenders.

Yeah, she was jealous. Susan didn't mind admitting it to herself as she reached up and tugged one of her friend's blonde pigtails lightly. "Yup. Fire moat. Whoosh. Try to beat that, Arty Pants."

Balancing the quill on the back of two fingers, Hannah made a soft meeping noise as her pigtail was tugged. "Arty Pants?" Then a giggle escaped the girl as a broad smile crossed her face. "Oooh, okay." She took the quill in her hand and began to draw an addition to her three warriors.

While the other girl was working, Susan thought back to the previous class period. Why had Harry been staring at her like that? At first, she had assumed that he wanted to tell her something, but was waiting for class to end. Yet when the period was over, Harry had shown no sign of wanting her to wait. She had lagged behind when the class filed out, yet only Hermione and Ron had eventually emerged, saying that Harry was talking to Professor Flitwick.

So Susan had shrugged it away and gone on to Transfiguration with the rest of her housemates. But now Professor Flitwick had come to find Professor McGonagall, right after Harry Potter talked to him? What was going on?

"There." Hannah announced, laying her quill down.

Drawn out of her pondering, Susan looked at what the other girl had done, and stared. "Wings?" She blinked twice. "You gave them wings?"

"Yup!" The blonde Hufflepuff beamed at her red-haired friend. "Now they can fly over your fire moat."

"That... is... absolutely cheating." Susan proclaimed, receiving Hannah's stuck out tongue in response before both girls giggled.

Finally, Hannah considered the parchment. "I think that's all of our turns, isn't it?"

Susan nodded. "Uh huh. I drew the castle, then you drew your guys, then I drew the archers, then you drew their weapons, then I drew the moat, and now you drew their wings. That's three turns each."

Both girls touched their wands to the small control rune on either side of the parchment, and the tips began to glow as they interacted with the magics already placed on it through the rune. Before their eyes, the drawings on the paper began to react according to their will, sent through their wands and into the receiving magic of the parchment.

Hannah's winged warriors took flight, looking somehow majestic in spite of their two dimensional nature, while Susan's poor uneven stick figure archers took awkward aim and began to rain small ink-arrows down toward the attackers.

The battle, silly as it may have been, was joined then. Both girls alternately squealed or groaned as their sketched figures went to war, the ink moving on the parchment like it was alive.

Eventually, Susan was down to her last two archers, while Hannah had one winged warrior, the leader with the shield, remaining. Not that her technical numerical advantage meant much. She had begun with twelve of the stick figures, so it was unlikely that the remaining duo would be able to fend off the flying terror for long.

"Miss Bones." Professor McGonagall's crisp, no-nonsense voice interrupted from the doorway. She beckoned when the girl looked up. "Might I see you for a moment?"

Giving Hannah a shrug when her friend sent her a questioning look, Susan slid off her seat and started back to the door. She wondered what this was about, and if it had anything to do with Harry staring at her earlier.

Once she emerged into the hallway, Susan found that the two professors had been joined by another familiar figure. "Aunt Amelia?" Immediately, as soon as she saw the woman who was both her aunt and the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Susan's fears mounted. In the last war, both before Susan had been born, her grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousins had all been killed by Death Eaters.

"Did... did something happen to mum or dad?" Susan asked, a little afraid of the answer.

Clearly knowing where her niece's thoughts had gone, Aunt Amelia's expression softened. "Oh my dear, no. No, Lachlan and Freya are both just fine. We simply need someone to fetch a student from another class, and I know you won't dawdle, now will you?"

Susan shook her head quickly. "Of course not, Aunt Amelia. Um, who do you need to talk to?"

"Harry Potter." Her aunt answered. "He has brought something of grave importance to our attention. Please go and bring him here, will you, dear?"

Professor McGonagall gave her a note to give to Professor Riddle, and Susan started off. As she jogged down the corridor toward the stairs to the dungeons, not wanting to keep her professors and aunt waiting, the young Hufflepuff once again found herself wondering just what was going on with Harry already this year.

So lost in thought was she, that Susan nearly walked right past the potions classroom. Only hearing Professor Riddle's voice made her halt, moving back to the door and raising her hand to knock.

"Don't tell me no one is interested in turning into the vaunted, famous Harry Potter."

The silky voice from within stopped Susan, and she frowned in confusion before tentatively twisting the knob. Holding her breath, she eased the door open a very slight crack, just enough to peek inside to see what was going on.

Luckily for her, the door was completely out of the way. She found herself staring through the tiny crack at the back of Professor Riddle's head, his long dark hair a bit wild as he looked back and forth between the students at their tables. In his hand, the professor held a cup as though offering it to anyone who would take it.

"Mr. Malfoy." Professor Riddle focused on the boy with the white-blonde hair. "Surely you wouldn't mind showing the rest of the class how polyjuice potion works. You're not afraid of looking like Mr. Potter for the class period, are you?"

Polyjuice potion? Immediately, Susan felt a little sick inside. Her aunt had told her all about that stuff, and how bad it was when it was used without the subject's permission. From the look of near panic on Harry's face that she could make out even from back here, the famous boy clearly hadn't given that permission.

This was wrong and unfair. Professor Riddle shouldn't be teaching his students to use polyjuice against each other. Taking someone's form without their permission or acceptance, the idea made her queasy.

Should she go back and get her aunt? No, the damage would be done by then. Biting her lip, Susan carefully poked the very tip of her wand through the crack. Focusing on the cup, she whispered, "Wingardium Leviosa."

As soon as the cup floated out of the Professor's unsuspecting hand, she gave a slight twist with her wand to make it slip to the side and then let it fall and spill over the floor. Then Susan immediately let the door shut as quietly as she could, and counted to thirty while literally shaking with fear at the idea of being found out.

One thing was for certain, she couldn't tell anyone what she had just done. Not even Harry himself. This had to be her little secret.

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Moments earlier

"Mr. Malfoy. Surely you wouldn't mind showing the rest of the class how polyjuice potion works. You're not afraid of looking like Mr. Potter for the class period, are you?"

Daphne's Slytherin self was telling her not to panic. Sadly, its voice was drowned out by the rest of her, which was in full-on screaming hysterics. If anyone, let alone Malfoy, took that potion, her little secret was going to come out faster than she could say 'oops'.

Both Hermione and Ron had looked like they wanted to volunteer, but Daphne had shaken her head at them repeatedly. She didn't trust either to be able keep quiet about the particular changes the would experience. Besides, the potion would probably give them her natural blonde hair, not the black she had been spelling it to be.

She had to find some way to stop this from happening. Could she demand that the potion not be taken? Could she somehow destroy the cup and the cauldron with a stunning spell? But that would be completely obvious. Daphne wracked her brain, eyes widening as Draco began to raise his hand with an obvious smirk. He was going to take the potion!

Then, almost as though it had been listening to her desperate yet silent pleas, the cup in Professor Riddle's hand flew up, tipped over, and fell to the floor.

For a second, everyone, Daphne included, stared as the potion seeped into the floor.

Riddle was the first to recover. His eyes narrowed, and his head turned with snake-like suddenness to stare at 'Harry'. Seeing his intense gaze locked onto 'him', Daphne kept her hands held out to both sides so that he could easily see that 'he' had no wand and thus couldn't have done that.

Still glaring, Riddle gestured with his hand toward the cup, which flicked up off the floor and into his grasp before he turned back to the class. "SOMEONE..." He declared loudly, "thinks that they're funny. Someone in this class believes that they can waste valuable potion, and my time, by playing a little joke."

While the Professor began to threaten the class, Daphne focused on the remaining problem. Yes, someone, some glorious person, had just saved her. But she could worry about which of her classmates it was, and why exactly they had done that (did they know?) once the rest of the potion was dealt with.

Could she spill it too? Make it tip over somehow? No, there was no way to do that without making it obvious. Maybe she could add something to the potion to ruin it? Again, there was the problem of doing so without being seen.

Or maybe she could do it in plain sight, and still not get caught. Daphne paused to consider. Most potions, especially complicated ones like this one had to be, were very easily ruined. Everything from the tiniest measurement, to the exact number and direction of stirs, to the age of some of the ingredients had to be perfect.

Unseen beneath her robe, Daphne slipped the shoe off of her right foot. Edging a step closer to the professor's desk and to the fancy emerald carpet that he had laid out under it, she kept watching Professor Riddle while she began to rub her sock-covered foot rapidly against the carpet. Faster and faster she rubbed.

Finally, once she was relatively certain she was ready, Daphne lifted a hand to the teacher. "Don't worry, Professor. We can just use more." She reached toward the cauldron as though to demonstrate.

Riddle turned, just as Daphne's fingers neared the cauldron. The static charge she had built up reacted with the magic permeating the potion, and a spark of energy leapt between her fingers and the liquid within. It stung a little, and the potion immediately turned carrot orange before beginning to boil over.

Keeping the presence of mind to slip her foot back into her shoe, Daphne stumbled backwards from the ruined potion. She let her eyes widen while clamping down on the impulse to grin like an idiot. She had done it, she had destroyed the damn polyjuice before it could out her secret. All it had taken was a little bit of static energy, the same way she had learned to sting her little sister when Astoria was being extra-annoying at home.

"O-oh... whoops... I- I'm sorry, Professor." She made herself stammer, still staring at the cauldron as the disgusting concoction bubbled up over the edge of it.

"You're sorry?" Riddle seemed ready to boil over as much as the potion. "Do you have the slightest idea how much time and effort you've wasted now, you-"

There was a knock at the door, and then it opened before Susan Bones poked her head in. She looked a bit pale, and spoke quickly. "Professor Riddle, sir? Um, sorry to bother you, but it's Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick, and my aunt, sir. They want to talk to Harry."

The anger that had been on Riddle's face vanished as suddenly as though it had been wiped away by a spell. "Well then," he said simply and almost pleasantly. "I suppose you should go see what is so important to merit an audience with Madam Bones and our Deputy Headmistress, Mr. Potter."

After only a momentary hesitation, Daphne took the offered escape. She moved quickly to the door, glancing back once before going into the hall and letting out a breath of relief.

"Yeah..." Susan agreed. "He's scary sometimes, huh?"

"Who's scary?" A new voice interrupted.

Both girls jumped, but Daphne relaxed once she looked that way. "Oh, hey, Tonks." She replied without thinking.

The Auror-in-training, whose hair was shockingly bright pink at the moment, lifted a hand in greeting before pausing. "Hey, how did you know who I was?"

****e. Daphne had been distracted and had completely forgotten that 'he' wasn't supposed to know who the older girl was yet. "I-uh-" She thought quickly. "I saw you-" She coughed to buy precious seconds. "-in the Leaky Cauldron over the summer. I was talking to Tom and you ran off in a rush and he said something about Tonks always being late."

The older girl was blushing by that point, though the blush was a bright purple rather than the soft pink it should have been. Metamorphmagi were weird, though Daphne couldn't deny how useful an ability like that would be in her current situation.

"Right then." Tonks replied before gesturing. "C'mon, the big wigs sent me to see what the hold up was."

"You're training with Uncle Alastor, aren't you?" Susan piped up.

"Uncle Alastor?" Tonks shuddered.

The red-haired girl shrugged self consciously. "He's not really my uncle, but he visited Aunt Amelia a lot when I was younger and I just got used to calling him that."

"What's it like?" The older witch wondered. "To have Mad-Eye Moody hanging around for your birthdays and such?"

Susan's mouth twisted a little before she replied, "About half of the presents he gives me are books about avoiding traps and stuff."

"And the other half?" Daphne couldn't help but ask.

"They're traps." Susan gave a long, put upon sigh. "Uncle Alastor says they're to teach me never to let my guard down, even among family and friends. You know what he always says."

She and Tonks both intoned together, "CONSTANT VIGILANCE."

v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~

"What was that all about?" Hermione asked as Daphne sat down between her and Ron to eat lunch. "Why did Professor McGonagall and Susan's aunt want to talk to you? Who is Susan's aunt anyway?"

"Madam Bones." Daphne answered. "She runs the magical law enforcement department. They wanted to talk to me about what I said this morning at breakfast." She lowered her voice then. "You know, about not remember you-know-who's name."

Hermione's face twisted into a sulk. "I still can't figure out how he pulled something like that off. Even the teachers don't remember it?"

Daphne shook her head. "Not even Professor Dumbledore. He was there too by the end of it. They kept asking me when I noticed, what I was thinking about when I noticed it, what else I didn't remember, you know, stuff like that."

"It's a bloody bit of good magic." Ron put in. "Making everyone forget your name, I mean. Especially for someone who ain't even supposed to be, you know..." He made a twirling motion with his hand.

"Alive?" Daphne guessed though she had no idea what the gesture was supposed to mean. "Yeah, I can't figure that part out either. I thought it'd take him at least a year to get his strength back. But if he can pull off magic like this within a few months?" She shuddered at the idea of what... he would be capable of before long. No wonder everyone was terrified of him.

"Wait." Hermione looked up as something occurred to her. "Does that mean that the Aurors know about all of this?" She lowered her voice to a whisper. "I mean, they know about you-know-who?"

"Yeah, some of them. Dumbledore told Madam Bones." Daphne replied as she poked at her food distractedly. "I'm not sure who else she told, but they're keeping it quiet. She even sent her niece away before they'd talk about any of it."

"I don't see why he doesn't just tell everyone." Ron said after swallowing the large mouthful he had taken so that he could speak. "Isn't it pretty bad to keep a secret that big? Besides, if he just told everybody, we could get ready to stomp old whoever he is into the dirt like the Cannons stomped the Kestrels last year."

"He doesn't want to cause a panic." Hermione explained what Daphne had already worked out. "If it takes awhile for... for him to actually show himself, people will panic first and then move on to not believing the Headmaster or Harry. This way the Aurors can prepare without the public knowing what's going on yet."

"Besides," The bushy-haired witch continued. "Telling everyone what they know is a good way to let you-know-who know everything we know too."

Daphne blinked at that. It was a part of Dumbledore's reasoning that she hadn't considered, and she looked at Hermione with new consideration.

"Oy." Ron nudged 'Harry'. "You better eat more than that if you're gonna keep your energy up for the practice Wood's bound to put you through after a summer of slacking off."

Right, Quidditch. As if Daphne didn't have enough to worry about already. She needed to be dealing with some of these problems that were piling up, not fly around willy nilly on a broom.

As her eyes found the staff table where Madam Bones and Tonks had apparently both elected to stay long enough to eat with the faculty, Daphne paused. Maybe she could kill two birds with one stone.

"I'll be right back." She murmured to Harry's friends before getting up and walking to the front. There was no sign of Professor Riddle, but then, that wasn't surprising given his tendency to avoid spending much time around his fellow teachers. Daphne knew there wasn't much love lost between the heads of Slytherin and Gryffindor houses.

"Um, Madam Bones?" Daphne spoke up after stopping a couple feet away. Hopefully this plan wouldn't blow up in her face.

They all looked at 'him', and Daphne found herself blushing slightly at the expectant expressions. "Could I maybe talk to you about... umm... tutoring?"

The older woman raised an eyebrow archly. "Mr. Potter, I do believe that one should be more advanced than a second year before they volunteer to tutor." Her expression and tone made it hard to tell if she was kidding, though the wink that came a few seconds later helped.

Daphne shook her head. "No, I mean, I want to be tutored."

Professor McGonagall spoke up then, after gently dabbing her mouth with a napkin. "Potter, what on Earth do you wish to be tutored in? And why don't you speak with me about it?"

Rather than speak his own mind, Professor Dumbledore simply watched with an expression of curiosity.

"I- well- umm-" She had to think for a moment. "It's not that there's anything wrong with the classes here..." Daphne said carefully. "It's just that, well, we all know about the danger out there. And he's already strong enough to make everyone forget his name. I just think I need to work if I'm going to be safe."

"Oh don't you worry, my boy." Professor Lockhart, his perfectly coiffed hair gleaming. "I have every intention of showing you and the rest of the students precisely how you should have disarmed and captured that... fiend last year. It's all a part of my very special lesson plan entitled, A Battle Without Lockhart – How to Survive."

"The staff of Hogwarts will protect you, Mr. Potter." McGonagall spoke firmly and confidently though she couldn't help the doubtful look that she cast toward Lockheart.

"Yeah," Daphne nodded. "Except that they might not recognize the threat when it comes, remember? And you can't protect me all the time." She hesitated, waiting a moment before playing her trump card. "We found that out last year."

It was a low blow, and everyone around the table flinched. But it got the message across. McGonagall sighed and looked toward Dumbledore, who steepled his fingers and looked old and regretful for just a moment before he in turn looked toward the DMLE director.

Madam Bones, for her part, frowned uncertainly. "Mr. Potter, while I certainly appreciate your desire to better yourself, I am still not certain that this-"

"I want to feel safe." Daphne said bluntly. "I've been hiding a lot since the end of last year. I've been spending a lot of time alone, because I don't want anyone else to get hurt because of me." The easiest lies to tell were those that weren't lies at all. Because Daphne felt these things, even if she had to adjust them to fit Potter.

"I feel like any day, any minute, I'm going to have to fight again, and I'm going to fail... again. I feel like I can't protect any of my friends, and I know, I know it's your jobs, but you can't be there all the time. Please. Please, I'm not asking for special twelve year old Auror training. Just... a little help, from a tutor."

It was Bill Weasly who spoke then, forcing Daphne to step on her own foot to avoid sighing dreamily at the sound of his voice. "I know I'm new, but I don't see the problem. Harry's right, whoever you-know-who is, he's not going to just leave him alone. And he won't act when Harry's surrounded by teachers."

"Hogwarts students are safe here." Dumbledore declared, but he nodded as well. "Yet I have no objections if it will make Harry feel a little safer to know a few things." He looked to 'him' seriously then. "But do be careful, Harry. Of the great many things that we often waste, a childhood is one of the most tragic."

Madam Bones finally laid her fork down and regarded Harry. "All of this presumes, of course, that I have anyone available to tutor you to begin with."

Tonks raised a hand promptly. "I can do it." When all of the eyes swiveled to her, the witch's hair turned a soft white color and she shrank a little in her seat.

"Trainee Tonks," Madam Bones spoke crisply. "I hope that by asking you to accompany me today did not give you the false impression that you were ready to be appointed an Auror in full."

The other woman's head shook rapidly, her hair doing a full on sprint through the color spectrum from white to black, with every color represented for a split second. "No, Madam." She said quickly. "I didn't mean to say that I knew everything. But Harry doesn't need to know everything, does he? He said it himself, he just wants a few tips, a little tutoring. And since I'm not a full Auror yet, well, I'm not on the clock on the weekends. Which means I can come here on Saturdays and tutor Harry. I wouldn't mind. Plus, maybe teaching someone else could help me pick up things myself."

For a moment, Madam Bones simply tapped her fingers against the table thoughtfully, clearly considering what her trainee had said. Daphne held her breath until the older woman finally nodded. "Very well. But if I hear anything about you endangering the boy, or teaching him spells to get him in trouble or that he shouldn't be learning, you will be relegated to directing house-elf janitorial efforts in the most remote location I can dream of."

Gulping, Tonks nodded. "I understand, Madam Bones. It'll be simple things, I promise."

Then it was Professor McGonagall's turn. "Mr. Potter, if you will be learning from Miss Tonks on Saturdays, how will you attend Quidditch?"

Daphne had to force herself not to cackle with mad glee and look regretful. "I'm sorry, Professor. I just don't think I have it in me this year. Maybe I can come back to it later, but right now I just... I can't do it. What if I spend time on a game like that and something happens, something that I could have stopped if I spent my time learning?"

Professor Dumbledore cleared his throat gently. "Harry, please, it is not your place to spent your childhood preparing for what may come later. Quidditch is a fine sport, and not a game to be given up on a whim."

"Like I said," Daphne spoke softly, yet firmly. "I might come back to it. But I can't focus on that right now, professors. Please, I just can't. I wouldn't feel right, and it's not really living a childhood if I'm forced into it, is it? I'm not saying that I'm going to do nothing but study, but if I'm going to feel safe at all, I just want to feel like I'm being proactive about something. Please?"

The headmaster and deputy headmistress exchanged glances, before both finally nodded. Professor McGonagall put her hand on 'Harry's' arm. "I'll speak with Mr. Wood. He should... hear the news from me."

With that settled, and the promise to meet Tonks that Saturday for their first lesson, Daphne returned to her table just in time for everyone else to stand up and start to leave. The Not-Dreamy-Bill variety of Weasley was waiting along with Granger.

"What was that all about?" Ron asked, taking a bite of the apple he had kept for last.

"Tonks- the Auror trainee that Madam Bones brought with her- is going to tutor me in defense magic." Daphne explained. "I just wanted to be prepared in case something else happened."

"Why do you need her?" Hermione asked, blinking. "We have Professor Lockhart teaching us this year. He could teach anything..."

That was met by two pairs of rolled eyes. It was the very first time that Daphne could ever recall being completely in synch with the Weasley boy.

"No offense, Hermione," Ron put in. "But I'd take the extra lessons too if it didn't mean... uhh, extra lessons." He shuddered outright at the thought. "I dunno where you're gonna find the time to do all that this semester, mate. You've got classes, Quidditch, and now these lessons?"

"Umm..." How was she going to break this to him. She'd have to do it gently and carefully.

From across the Great Hall, the horrified shriek of a Quidditch captain receiving the very worst news he had ever considered swept through the room. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, HE QUIT?!"

Offline Shenmue654

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Re: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2014, 03:58:12 PM »
Quote
Disclaimer: If I could take fifteen steps to get from a great mansion made entirely of the cash that came from creating Harry Potter, to the second Harry Potter cash mansion, I would have tried to create a few more teachers for the upper classmen, to avoid trying to explain how to design a school schedule that allows twelve to fourteen teachers to teach five days of classes to seven years of students without math itself committing ritual suicide to escape the madness

XDD

As for Susan tipping over the Polyjuice Potion, that seems a bit like a deus ex machine (It keeps correcting it). But there may be a way to turn her existence to the story's advantage. As for Tonks of all people teaching Daphne...that oughta lead to suitably ridiculous results. Although Harry Potter, who loves Quidditch, quitting Quidditch is going to hurt her image. Even if playing it badly would hurt worse. XD

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Re: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2014, 12:11:04 PM »
Oh, Susan tipping over the potion was deliberately done in order to avoid making Daphne too perfect and able to deal with any situation.  She didn't have a solution, someone else had to help her.

And too bad for Daphne that Ron isn't giving up on 'Harry' playing Quidditch quite that easily. ;)

Disclaimer: If I could cup my hands and shout from the top of the exact replica of Hogwarts castle constructed entirely out of gold bricks due to any connection whatsoever to the ownership of Harry Potter, the thing I might shout is an answer to why the psuedo-horcrux in Harry wasn't destroyed when he was bitten by the Basilisk fang, one of the only things capable of destroying horcruxes (and most likely not something phoenix tears would have saved, considering how dark the horcruxes are).

Chapter Nine

By the end of the week, Ron still hadn't stopped complaining about 'Harry' leaving the Quidditch team. Daphne's rather pointed remark that resigning meant that there was an open space on the team that Ron could try out for if he was really that invested had been met with a blank look, followed by protests that Ron wasn't good at playing Seeker, that 'Harry' was and that he shouldn't throw that away.

It was an argument that she had tried to avoid as much as possible. Which just ended up making things worse, as the Weasley boy realized right away that Harry was avoiding him.

It would have been easier if Daphne could have completely blamed Ron. Unfortunately, it wasn't as simple as that. While the boy was being a bit of an arse about it, the fact was that she, as Harry, was acting different. The Harry that Ron knew most likely would not have quit the Quidditch team the way that she had. So his frustration and confusion was understandable.

But that didn't mean she was going to cater to it either. She had things to do, things to focus on that actually mattered more than a dumb sport. If those priorities bothered the Weasley boy, there was nothing Daphne could do about that other than bear through his repeated arguments.

Not that she did much during Ron's attempts to convince 'him' to rejoin the team other than sit quietly and let the boy talk. If there was one thing she could do better than anyone else she knew, it was be patient. Once in a while, Ron would pause in the midst of one great Quidditch story or another, and look at 'Harry' as though expecting 'him' to be in awe over the kind of life he could have just by joining the team again. Instead, he always found 'Harry' simply watching him without comment or apparent opinion.

That was simply the way that Daphne had come to deal with arguments in her own life as she grew up. Some people became argumentative at the drop of a hat, while others passively accepted everything rather than go against the grain. Either example either fell backward or pushed forward during such arguments, letting others walk over them, or bullheadedly shoving their own opinion.

Daphne, in contrast, simply stood in place. She let others argue, let them make their arguments. If she felt they were right, she would, naturally, be swayed. But when they were wrong, she didn't tend to openly argue that fact except in certain cases, such as her defense of Ginny Weasley's placement. The majority of the time, she simply outlasted people. She would let them debate, complain, demand, even threaten or cajole, all while she remained stoic, presenting as blank of an expression as possible. Most people would rant for awhile, see they were getting no reaction from her, and make a final comment before leaving.

In her opinion, it was a much better way of solving disputes than actually arguing back. In most cases, people weren't going to be convinced anyway, so she would quite literally be wasting her breath. Their words, even when they turned ugly, weren't going to hurt her.

That method of handling disagreements, presenting a blank expression and not outwardly reacting to any attempt at getting a rise out of her, had made the other students last year give Daphne the nickname of 'Ice Queen', as if she didn't care about anything or anyone, or that she thought she was better than they were. It wasn't true. She did care, and she did listen to what people said. She just didn't see the point of wasting her breath or energy when frustrating the other person into giving up because of her lack of reaction accomplished just as much as a drawn out argument would have.

That had worked especially well once she had gained the reputation as someone who didn't engage in such arguments, because most people stopped trying to drag her into them. Granted, there were still a few that tried to prod for a reaction, or who made a point of spreading nasty gossip, but she ignored the talk that went on behind her back even more easily than she ignored the talk that came to her face.

It wasn't as though she could explain why she had come to avoid open arguments and debates, after all. She couldn't tell people that she had seen firsthand what arguments could escalate into when the men who had abducted her years ago couldn't settle on what they wanted to do with her. Not only had her own childish arguments accomplished nothing, but the men had bickered back and forth over killing her or not killing her until violence erupted and they had all died in their own crossfire.

Unfortunately, all of that reputation meant nothing now that she wasn't being herself. As Harry Potter, he was expected to act a certain way. Most of all, in this case, he was expected to be giddy about Quidditch, and to be inseparable best friends with Ron Weasley. At the very least, 'Harry' probably should have gotten into a heated debate with the other boy or something.

Instead, 'Harry' was simply passively allowing Ron to make all the arguments he wanted, and then dismissing them without comment or debate. It had apparently frustrated the boy so much that he had taken to eating lunch with the remaining members of the Quidditch team as they continued to plot for how they could lure their Seeker back to the field.

Part of Daphne felt bad about that. She didn't want to damage the real Harry's relationship with his best friend. But there was no way around it. Ron was focused on the Quidditch thing, and her sole attempt to explain that he had to leave the team to focus on the clearly imminent return of they-should-know-who had been met with bewilderment. To Ron, the danger wasn't immediate and obvious, so they had time to do whatever they wanted to do.

Ron Weasley wasn't a bad person. He simply tended to focus completely on what was in front of him. A vague, possible threat, be it detention for breaking a rule or the end of the wizarding world due to the return of the most evil dark wizard they had ever known, was an uncertain future that he could ignore. Quidditch was in front of him, while the Dark Lord hadn't publicly shown himself. When an actual threat appeared, Daphne was certain that Ron would be just as brave as any Gryffindor, throwing himself at it while remaining (mostly) loyal to his convictions. But a threat that was simply possible, that lurked in the shadows rather than showing itself and giving him something to look at and react to, was a threat that Ron found easy to ignore and put aside.

Hermione, on the other hand, expressed nothing but admiration for 'Harry's' new-found studiousness. She had wanted to participate in the tutoring sessions with Tonks, but Daphne had told the girl that the professors most likely wouldn't allow it. Not at first, anyway. He had told Hermione to let things sit for a few weeks, and then he would bring up the possibility, once Professor Dumbledore and McGonagall saw that 'Harry' wasn't spontaneously combusting from all of the extra practice. Or, to be more accurate, wasn't making other people spontaneously combust.

The bushy-haired Gryffindor hadn't liked the idea of missing out, to put it mildly. But she had recognized the point of what 'Harry' had been saying, so she was willing to let it go, for the time being.

Night and day, Ron and Hermione were, night and day.

Not that Hermione had stopped making suggestions for what 'Harry' should ask Tonks, or requests about how long it would be before 'he' brought up the idea of her joining them, and so on and so forth.

Which meant that, as Daphne found her seat in History of Magic on Friday afternoon, she had Ron rambling on about how playing Quidditch enhanced reflexes and was therefore very good Dark Lord combat training (his latest tactic) in one ear, while Hermione babbled about which kind of capture spell would be best to learn from the trainee Auror in the other ear.

At least Binns wasn't still teaching the class. In that case, Hermione and Ron would have been free to continue going on and on throughout the period. Even better, the fact that their new teacher was Ron's older brother meant that the Weasley boy would have to behave himself even more than if it was a normal professor.

Or so she hoped. And she was studiously telling herself that the reprieve from the boy's constant attempts to change 'Harry's' mind about Quidditch was the only reason she was looking forward to this particular teacher.

Not that she was the only one who had been paying attention to the new History of Magic professor. Between him and Professor Lockhart, roughly half the school was spending their time sighing dreamily.

The class, a combination of Gryffindors and Ravenclaws, had been chatting for a few minutes by the time the door opened and Professor Weasley strode in, using his wand to float a literal pile of books along in front of him.

"Sorry I'm late. Bad first day of class, I know." He gave a flick of his wand, and the random mess of books rapidly flew into neatly sorted stacks along his desk.

Leaning against the desk, Professor Weasley plucked one of the books up into his hand before he began to speak again. "I'm going to guess that no one could have slept through the Headmaster's introduction speech, so you all probably know who I am. Or if you didn't, the sound of my little brother repeatedly hitting his head against the desk back there gave it away."

There were a few snickers, and glances toward where Ron was currently doing his best to melt into his chair.

"But just in case," the older Weasley continued. "My name's Bill Weasley. I'd tell you to just use my first name, but for school purposes, I've been told that you have to stick to Professor when we're in class. So Professor Bill it is."

"Now, believe it or not, but it wasn't that long ago that I was sitting on that side of the room. So I know exactly how this class used to go. Professor Binns would talk on and on and on, and you'd learn everything you actually needed to know from the books." He managed not to look directly at his brother while adding, "or by copying off of people who did learn from the books."

"But I'm afraid that you're not going to be able to nap anymore. I couldn't match the exact cadence of Professor Binss's speech anyway, so everyone who depended on that to lull them to sleep would be out of luck in any case."

Daphne glanced first one way, then the other to see how both of Harry's friends were taking this. Ron was so embarrassed it looked as though he was seriously considering bolting from the room. The color of his face nearly matched that of his hair.

By contrast, Hermione was positively beaming. The idea of having a teacher that might actually teach her something was almost enough to make the little bookworm bounce.

Daphne would have found that even more amusing, if she hadn't felt a bit like bouncing herself. Binns really had been a horrid teacher, as far as that went. It would be fantastic if Professor Weas- Professor Bill could actively teach them. She might find the school-obsessed girl a bit of an annoying know-it-all, but having a real History teacher was a good thing.

"So before we get started with handing out the books," the man was going on. "Does anyone have any questions?"

Every time it had happened in the last week, Hermione always looked positively astounded whenever 'Harry's' hand was up before hers. This time was no exception. She stared with her mouth open, looking as though she had forgotten that her own hand was halfway raised. On the other side of Daphne, Ron had snapped out of his apparent shame to gape as well.

"Harry?" Professor Bill nodded that way. "You have a question?"

Daphne nodded. "Yeah, where's Professor Binns?" She added after a moment, "For that matter, where's all the ghosts?" Over the past week, she had been all over the school. None of the ghosts were present. Binns was gone, as were all four House Ghosts, and even Peeves. There were no ghosts anywhere in the school. She hadn't even seen Moaning Myrtle any of the times she had futilely investigated the second floor bathroom where she was still certain the two men she had been following had disappeared.

People had been wondering the same thing, though up to that point no one that Daphne had seen had managed to get a straight answer out of a teacher. She had chosen to save up the question for the newest Professor (that seemed halfway competent).

Professor Bill cleared his throat while gazing around the room. "I take it Harry isn't the only one wondering that?" Receiving an assortment of agreement, he gave them a faint smile. "All right, well I'll tell you as much as I know. Honestly, it's not much. The fact is, we don't know where the ghosts are."

That started some confused murmuring, and Ron blurted out, "What'd they do, wander off?"

Shrugging, Professor Bill offered, "Probably not. But we don't know. Neither does Professor Dumbledore. All we know is that one day over the summer the ghosts just weren't here. No one knows what happened to them, why they disappeared, if it was their choice, or if something happened to them."

"Let me get this straight." Sophie Roper, one of the Gryffindor girls that shared a dormitory with Hermione, spoke up. "First a... a student dies last year and the professor responsible disappears. Then the ghosts all disappear without a trace over the summer. And when we arrive, our train drives itself into the lake and nearly drowns everyone. Why are we still here, exactly?"

Kevin Entwhistle, a Ravenclaw who sat across from Daphne, put in his own remark. "You wanna leave? Aren't Gryffindors supposed to be brave?"

"Brave doesn't mean blind." Sophie shot back. "If there's danger, we shouldn't sit here and wait for it to pick us off."

"No one's getting picked off." Professor Bill cut in. "Trust me, if it becomes too dangerous to be here, Professor Dumbledore will move everyone. But the fact is, being under the same roof as the headmaster is one of the safest places to be, no matter what else is going on."

"Tell that to Greengrass." Daphne heard someone mutter, and found more than one person staring at 'Harry'. It was almost enough to make her want to say that she wasn't really dead. But somehow she doubted that finding out that Dumbledore's personal favorite boy hero was the one who had died under his watch was going to reassure anyone.

v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~v~^~

Then it was Saturday, the first day for 'Harry's' tutoring from Tonks. Ron had made one last concentrated effort to change 'his' mind, all but pleading with 'Harry' to go back to the Quidditch team and move his tutoring to another time. He had decided to make what he called a compromise by saying that 'Harry' could just play in the morning and afternoon, then be tutored at night.

Thankfully, it had been Hermione who had pointed out that Quidditch was an exhausting sport, and that if 'Harry' threw 'himself' into it, he would be too exhausted to learn or practice any magic. And if 'he' took it easy in Quidditch in order to save 'his' strength, then what was the point?

Ron clearly still hadn't liked it, and he'd gazed pleadingly after 'Harry' the whole time Daphne was making her way out of the Great Hall after breakfast. Apparently the boy had put a lot of stock into his best friend being Seeker of the Quidditch team. Maybe losing that would be good for him. Riding the coattails of his friend for the next seven years rather than developing his own life and skills was bound to end up with a lot of misunderstandings and jealousy eventually.

'Harry' had been told by Professor McGonagall to meet 'his' new tutor in an unused classroom on the sixth floor. The Deputy Headmistress had given 'Harry' a bit of parchment with some handwritten directions and landmarks for him to pay attention to, and Daphne carefully followed them as she came off the stairs. The suit of armor with the pink feather had been on the opposite side of the stairwell from where it had been when McGonagall had written the directions, where she had described a painting of dancing hippos there was merely a blue and white tapestry.

Fortunately, other than those mostly cosmetic differences, the directions worked well enough, and Daphne soon found herself standing outside of a classroom in a clearly long-ignored corner of the castle.

As she reached up to knock on the door, Daphne paused when she noticed words engraved on the wood. The engraving read, 'The castle believes what others may doubt. The teachings within while the teacher without.'

The teachings within while the teacher without. Was that even a sentence? Daphne traced her fingers over the words in the wood, frowning thoughtfully. It was probably just rubbish, and yet she still wanted to know what it meant, if anything.

While she was still processing, the door swung open, and she was nearly bowled over before Tonks caught herself. "Oh hey, there you are." The older girl's hair was currently long, nearly reaching her ankles, and had been colored a different, vibrant shade every few couple of inches. "I was just coming to find out if you'd gotten lost."

"Nope." Daphne shook her head. "Right here." She reached past the other girl to touch the engraved words on the door. "What does this mean?"

Turning slightly to see what she was indicating, Tonks shrugged. "Dunno. Maybe just some nonsense phrase some kids made up whenever this classroom was actually used." She waggled her fingers at 'Harry'. "Or maybe it's a clue to reach the Chamber of Secrets."

"The Chamber of Whatsits?" Daphne inclined her head curiously, glancing at the phrase again.

Tonks winced, switching from wiggling her fingers to waving her hands quickly. "Nothing. Never mind. Forget I said anything. Come on, we've got learnings to do." Daphne found her arm seized and then she was hauled into the room.

It was obvious that someone had recently scrubbed the place. There was no dust anywhere, the wooden floor was squeaky clean and still slightly damp, and the desks that had been stacked on top of one another in one side of the room were all but sparkling.

Noticing 'Harry's' examination, Tonks gave another helpless shrug. "It was a mess this morning. Desks just tossed everywhere, dust on everything, mold that was about to develop the ability to talk. I asked one of the elves in the kitchen if they could clean up a little area that we could use. Two hours later I come back and find this."

"They like helping." Daphne said quietly, thinking briefly of her own family's house-elves. Lanky, the elf who had taught her how to cook, and Bripsy, the elf that had been in charge of cleaning the family's rooms and their clothes.

"How many house-elves have you met, Harry?" Tonks wondered. "I thought you grew up with muggles."

Merlin's blood. Daphne cursed inwardly and then made herself blink at the question. "Oh you know, I've seen them around the castle." She changed the subject before the other woman could pry further. "So you want me to drop the whole Chamber of Secrets thing, huh?"

Blanching, Tonks pointed at 'him'. "Don't say that where anyone can hear you. The teachers are really touchy about anyone bringing it up. If they find out I started another search..."

She was definitely interested in whatever that was about, but Daphne picked her battles. She could get something better out of Tonks than information on whatever this Chamber of Secrets was. Instead, she chose a different tact. "Okay, if I don't bring it up again, I want to ask about something else."

Tonks regarded 'him' for a moment, clearly considering her options before she waved a hand. "Okay, whatever. Let's hear the question."

"What do you know about the ghosts disappearing?" Daphne promptly asked. She was even more convinced after hearing from Professor Bill about the lack of explanation that it had to be related somehow to what was going on with he-whose-name-was-obscured. She just couldn't figure out how the two puzzle pieces fit.

Groaning, Tonks shot 'Harry' a dirty look. "Couldn't you ask something simple? Preferably something that doesn't involve passing on potentially classified information to a minor. Why do you want to know about that?"

In response, Daphne gave the older girl the most innocent, blank look she could muster. "I'm just curious?"

"Bollocks." Tonks continued to look at 'him' doubtfully. "You're trying to figure out if there's something you can do about it, when the best thing you can do is stay put and let the others deal with it."

"Look at it this way," Daphne pointed out. "If you don't tell me what you know, I'm just going to go looking for answers somewhere else. Somewhere I might get in trouble. I'd go wandering and find some nasty element to tell me what I want to know, maybe get myself-"

"Oh shut up." Rolling her eyes, Tonks poked 'him'. "Do not tell anyone that I'm talking about this, or we'll both be in the fire without a wand. But fine, the truth is, no one knows much. Dumbledore and Moody have both been all over this place from top to bottom, and there's no sign of any ghosts, and no indication of what made them disappear. They just poofed, gone."

Frowning at that, Daphne considered. "Is this the only place they've disappeared from?"

Tonks raised an eyebrow. "I think so. Why?"

"Because if there are still ghosts in other places, they might be able to come here and tell someone what happened to the other ghosts."

"Oh yeah, Dumbledore thought of that too." Tonks acknowledged. "But he's having trouble getting any ghost to agree to come check this place out. Ghosts are really superstitious, you know. They hear about bad things happening to one of them, and the rest turn chicken. Since no one knows exactly why the ghosts here disappeared, the rest of the ghosts are assuming the worst. They won't get within screaming distance of Hogwarts. But the last I heard, they were having better luck with the Headless Hunt."

"Headless Hunt?" Daphne echoed in confusion.

Nodding, Tonks explained. "It's a group of ghosts that lost their heads when they died. They go around playing games. It's fun to watch, if you don't mind morbid things. We saw them a couple times here at Hogwarts when they'd visit for their big party. Nearly Headless Nick's been trying to join them for decades, but they won't let him in since he's not technically headless. Hufflepuff's Fat Friar usually has to listen to Nick moaning about it every time they deny him."

"Anyway," she continued. "The Hunt's supposed to be really into dangerous, creepy things. Dumbledore thinks he can convince them to come to the castle and see if they sense anything. But it'll take awhile."

Frowning, Daphne let her thoughts drift briefly. Ghosts wouldn't come here just in case something bad had happened to the ones that had vanished. People couldn't remember the name of the most evil and infamous dark wizard in recent history, and the train had driven itself into the lake when they arrived.

How on earth was any of this connected to each other? She was racking her brain, trying to figure out if the loss of the ghosts could be connected to the stone that Quirrel had run off with. But surely that would have occurred to the Headmaster. There had to be another relation, something she hadn't thought of. Something that was eluding even Professor Dumbledore, since he clearly didn't know what was going on either if he had been reduced to sending for ghosts to maybe find things out.

"Oy." Tonks poked 'him' a little more firmly in the shoulder. "Focus. Let's see how much you think you know about defending yourself already, Mr. Boy-Who-Lived."

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Meanwhile

"Get it, boy!" Sophie Roper heaved the ball into the air, raised the beater bat that she had borrowed from the equipment shed, and sent the ball flying off into the distance. The ball arced up, soaring far off into the distance before dropping out of sight in the tall grass on the edge of the lake.

Instantly, Valefar leapt after the ball. The large dog went tearing across the field, his dark fur turning him into an almost ominous shadow as he wound his way through the tall grass.

"He's fast."

The idle voice came from behind, and Sophie turned to look over her shoulder. "Oh, hey, Professor Bill." She looked back to where Valefar was already on his way back, ball clutched tightly in his mouth. "Yeah, I guess." She took the slobber-covered ball away from the dog while he sniffed at Professor Bill's hands and pants.

The man let the animal sniff at his open hand while he looked at Sophie, who was turning the ball over in her hand as she avoided looking at him. "You practicing for the team?"

Her eyes rolled. "Beater for the Quidditch team? Not bloody likely. A certain pair of twins have those positions all locked up." She shrugged. "Besides, I'm still not sure I understand the rules. I just felt like hitting some balls for Valefar."

Bill nodded, chuckling slightly. "Fred and George won't be on the team forever. They have to graduate at some point. That or mum'll kill them if they don't, and you can take their positions anyway." He winked at the last, then went on. "So about yesterday..."

"I'm sorry, all right?" Sophie threw the ball up in the air and gave it a hard crack with the bat, sending it soaring once more. The dog bolted onto the chase. "Just give me detention for badmouthing the school or questioning Saint Dumbledore or whatever."

Professor Bill looked taken aback. "I'm sorry, what? Why would I give you detention, exactly?"

She shot a look at him over her shoulder. "Like I said, for saying a single word about how this place might not be safe. For being the Gryffindor who doesn't blindly trust precious, perfect Dumbledore." Sophie took the ball back from Valefar and threw it up once more. "For being the only person that seems to remember that Dumbledore was here when that girl died last year!" Her words, which had grown louder as she spoke, were punctuated at the end by the loud crack of the bat as she launched the ball once again.

Shaking his head, Professor Bill regarded her. "I'm not giving you detention for questioning your safety, Sophie. Or anyone else's."

The ball had carried further that time than before. Sophie watched the grass in the distance move as the dog searched for it before she responded. "You sure I shouldn't be kicked out of Gryffindor House for it?" That was what several of her house mates seemed to think, which was the reason she was out here by the lake by herself. Besides her dog, at least.

It would have been worse last year, before she'd had Valefar. If she hadn't found him, she'd really be alone.

The new History of Magic professor was quiet for a moment before he spoke again. "No, Sophie, asking questions, being worried, raising concerns, none of that is bad. Just as long as you don't let fear paralyze you."

"Do I look paralyzed?" She asked while taking the ball back from Valefar, who had finally returned. "I just think it's a stupid idea to decide, 'oh we have this super powerful wizard on our side, so we don't have to worry at all, la dee da...'"

"You sound awfully cynical for a twelve year old." Professor Bill remarked.

Sophie turned the ball over in her hand, looking back at the teacher. "Hey that's funny. I had no idea that in the wizarding world, 'realistic and not blinded by hero worship' meant the same thing as cynical. Learn something new every day."

The professor coughed, shaking his head as he looked away. "You don't mince words, do you?"

"I don't see the point to it." Sophie replied, crouching to scratch her dog's side and back. "People are too afraid to say what they mean. There'd be a lot less stupid miscommunication in the world if people would just be honest."

"Okay then, I'll be honest." Professor Bill reached out to scratch Valefar behind the ear. "Do you feel unsafe here, Sophie? Do you feel like you're in danger?"

She snorted at that, burying her face in the dog's fur briefly before responding. "Unsafe? I haven't felt completely safe since we found out that one of the people that was supposed to teach and protect us last year was a bad guy the whole time. A bad guy that killed one of us. And then got away. Do you guys get that? He killed one of our classmates and then escaped. How powerful could Dumbledore be if he let that happen?"

Professor Bill sighed a little, running a hand over Valefar's back as he considered his response. "I don't suppose saying that was part of the reason I was hired would make you feel any better?"

Sophie gave the man a doubtful look. "No offense, Professor Rugged, but what're you gonna do that Dumbledore couldn't?"

"Not much." The man answered truthfully. "Anything I can do, the Headmaster can do a thousand times better. But he can't be everywhere at once, and he needed more eyes that he knows he can trust to help out."

She was quiet for a few seconds after that, merely petting the dog while also checking for any bugs that might have gotten into his fur. "You're not just some history geek then? What are you, a dragon tamer?"

"Nah," Professor Bill drawled. "That's my brother." He winked when she looked at him. "I was working for Gringotts as a curse-breaker before Dumbledore asked for some help. And there are some other security measures he's put into place already that you're not seeing."

It took a moment before Sophie responded again, finally pushing herself to her feet. "You know how I found out I was a witch?" When the man shook his head, she continued. "I made my little brother disappear."

He frowned at that. "You turned your brother invisible?"

She shook her head, and rubbed the back of her hand at her eye briefly. "No. I mean he was annoying me. Lennon's two years younger than me, and he always wanted to go everywhere I went. He wanted to hang out with my friends, go to the mall when we went, see every movie we did. He wouldn't leave me alone."

She was turning the bat over in her hand agitatedly as she went on. "Finally I'd just had enough. I turned to him and I screamed at him. I said that I never wanted to see him again and that I wished he'd go away."

The bat came down hard into the dirt with a crack that made both man and dog jump. "BAM! Lennon was gone. Vanished completely. I made my brother disappear, and no one's found him yet. Some people from the Improper Use of Magic Office showed up. They're the ones who told me about being a witch, about magic being real and what I did. They went looking for Lennon, and I had to answer a bunch of questions. What I was thinking about, what time of day it was, which direction we were both facing, the exact words I used. But they couldn't find him. They still haven't. I was barely eleven years old, and I think I... I think he's gone forever."

Sophie was looking down at the ground now, while Valefar nudged up against her. Her arms went around the dog's neck while she sank to her knees.

"I'm sorry." Bill said quietly, his hand moving to her shoulder.

Her voice was hollow. "I was trying to make a point, not make you feel sorry for me. I want to be a witch, I want to learn magic, because maybe I can figure out a way to bring him back. A way to undo what I did."

"But if I die before that happens, then he really is gone forever. So they can call me the worst Gryffindor all they want. I'm not taking stupid chances, and I'm not going to start blindly worshipping Saint Dumbledore, when even he couldn't find a way to bring my brother back. No one could."

She stood once again, gripping the bat in her hand. "I don't get to go home. Not until I fix this. They told me, the people from the Ministry did, that they were going to have to adjust our parents memories so that they didn't know their son was gone, until he could be found. Something about the magical secret law or whatever."

Sophie looked toward him while she turned the ball over in her hand. "So I told them to erase me from their memories too. So now when Hogwarts closes, I go stay at this little home for unclaimed students in Diagon Alley."

Professor Bill looked stricken at that. "Why? Why would you do that?"

"It's not so bad there. I met Valefar hanging out in the backyard over the summer. And because..." Sophie bit her lip hard. "Partly because I didn't want to see them act normal about Lennon being gone. I didn't want to see them carrying on like he never existed. And partly because, if he doesn't get to exist, then I shouldn't exist either. I can't... just go back to normal and act like an only child."

His hand squeezed her shoulder. "You need your parents, Sophie. You can't just-"

"I can't!" She shouted, making the dog jump once again. "You're right, I can't! I can't let myself be an only child! Because that's what I was wishing for when I made Lennon disappear. I was wishing that I could be an only child, because I was so annoyed! But now, now he's gone and if I get to be an only child, if I get to be there with mum and dad and he's not there, it means the spell is complete. As long as I'm not their child, as long as we're both gone and they don't remember either of us, then I don't get my whole wish, the spell isn't complete, and I can still undo it!"

The man stared at Sophie, then reached for her. She jerked back away from him, turning away to throw the ball up into the air one more time before letting the bat smack into it loudly. The dog went galloping after it, while she muttered, "Like I said, I don't care if I am the worst Gryffindor who ever lived. I'm going to live long enough to find a way to bring my brother back. Then our whole family can be fixed."

This time, Bill didn't let her pull away. He took the girl's arm and turned her to him so that he could hug her. He felt her stiffen at first, then relax marginally. "You are not the worst Gryffindor." He told her quietly.

Her last strike had sent the ball further than it had gone before. The ball sailed all the way out into the lake. Heedless of the water's chill, the dog splashed in after it.

After all, the cold of the water was nothing compared to what the dog had experienced for more than a decade before that summer. The thought of those long years was enough to make Sirius Black shudder fearfully, before he caught the floating ball in his mouth and went rushing back to the girl who had let him get this far into Hogwarts.


Offline Shenmue654

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Re: Duplicitous Destiny (Harry Potter Fanfic)
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2014, 07:59:48 PM »
LOT going on here. Most fun points listed below. :3

*The bizarre mystery of just what the hell happened when Harry died gets weirder and weirder as it goes along. Now the ghosts are all gone...o.o

*I wonder if Ron and Hermione will ever catch on. Apparently the healed Daphne looks enough like Harry that she can get away with this this long, but she's not thinking ahead to what will happen when she ages. Then again, she's twelve. XD

*Sophia's side story is turning out to be pretty interesting. Especially since she's bringing Sirius along, who must have just come out of prison. But how did she convince the government to allow her to not go back to her parents? o.o;