"...and then I said, only a Mudblood would!" Pansy's cackle was enough to cause a man to rip out his eardrums. Ever since third year, she has felt the need to be the loudest, most annoying girl in Hogwarts. Especially around me. Parkinson has made it her life's mission to become the next Mrs. Malfoy. Disgusting.
"So, what is that miserable oaf teaching today?" Zabini asked, jumping into the group. Crabbe and Goyle bristled at the sudden arrival, but continued to wobble to class when I waved them off. "How to feed a Weasley without losing your arm? It seems like the more we come here, the fewer of us leave without some injury." I shrugged, keeping my mouth shut. Since we came back for our sixth year, after I got this on my arm, I haven't found the excitement in this daily dribble we do. That snakey-faced bastard forced his little mark on me. I would have told the git to go back to Hell if he hadn't grabbed my mother by the throat. Join us, Draco, he said, or buy your life with hers. I had dropped to my knees without hesitation, like some bloody-heart Gryffindor.
"Malfoy!" Speak of the devil. I turned around to see the female Weasley walking up to us, with a murderous glint in her eyes. "What did you do to my brother?!" She came within an inch of me, poking me in the chest. "He's in the hospital wing right now with bunny ears and he's croaking like a damn frog! What did you do?!" Crabbe and Goyle moved to grab her, but I rose my hand to stop them. That earned me a suspicious glare from the Weaslette.
When I spoke, my voice sounded dead. "I don't know what you're talking about. Perhaps his wand once again backfired while he was trying to impress Granger. Your family is not known for their magical competence." She pulled her wand and pressed the tip into my windpipe. I threw out my arms to hold back my group. Zabini and Parkinson were silently in the back, while Crabbe and Goyle were practically foaming at the mouth.
"There is one Weasley known for her competence," she spat the word in my face, "and unfortunately for you, she has her wand in your throat." Heavy footsteps rushed up to us, and suddenly the Weaslette was airborne, a set of large fingers wrapped around her.
"Easy ther, Ginny. No need to get expelled o'er Malfoy her." The large oaf put her down behind him before turning back to us. "All of ye o'er ther. It's time te start class. Gryffindors on the left, and Slyth'rins on yer right." The red-head glared at us before joining her house. She was met by the Mudblood and Potter. The two women turned their backs to us, but Potter took a moment to give me a questioning look. He looked almost...confused. He turned back to his house when Hagrid moved to the front of the class. "A'right class, I got ye good news and bad news." I could feel the tension of the class skyrocket. His good news always made us miserable, so we only had to guess his bad news will kill us. "The good news is, ye don't have te be in class fer three days." A lot of Slyth'rins and Gryffindors sighed in relief. "The bad news is, ye not gonna be human fer it."
"Hagrid," Granger shrilled, "that was only a suggestion. I didn't say to actually do it!"
"I know, Hermione, but I liked the idea so I got the okay from Dumbl'dor and the teachers. As I wer saying, yer not gonna be human." He turned to a little workbench and picked up one of the many vials. "This right her is a potion te make ye change into any creature, magic or not. These potions are all the same, yer animal is based on ye. Could ye come up her, Miss Granger?" The Mudblood slowly walked up to the oaf. "A'right, now step into one of these stables." He moved over to a large, newly-built set of stables and opened one of the doors. Granger slowly stepped inside and took the vial from Hagrid. "Drink up, Miss Granger." She uncorked the vial and downed it in one gulp. Hagrid took the vial back, locked Granger in, and watched with the rest of the class as Granger shrunk and twisted to change into a large eagle owl. Her bright yellow eyes looked over the students before focusing on Hagrid. "A'right, Hermione, I forgot te ask, who is yer par'ner gonna be?" The owl hooted before flying off, passing the class and heading towards the castle. "Miss Granger!"
"Professor," Potter said, "She is probably going to the hospital wing. Ron wanted to be her partner if we actually did this."
"Very well, H'rry. Jus' let her know that she needs te be back. It's not fair te the others that she can fly. Flitwick will be by later to ward the doors, so yer par'ners can go in, but ye can't come out. Now let's do par'ners." He called off names and we groaned. It was a Slytherin and a Gryffindor in each pair. Parkinson demanded to know why Granger and Weasley could work together. The oaf covered his arse by explaining that there were more Gryffindors than Slytherins now, ever since the Dark Lord's return. My heart dropped when I heard my name being called. "Malfoy, yer being paired with Mis'er Longbottom. And H'rry? Yer working with Mis'er Crabbe ther." Groans broke out over all the students as they paired up. The tall, lanky Gryffindor with wings for ears came up to me, staring hard at his shoes.
"Do me a favor, Malfoy?" Longbottom mumbled. "If-if I t-turn into a mouse or something, could you not squish me? I promise no funny business on my end if you do the same." He looked up at me, but with his height, he still had his head down. "Alright?" I fought the urge to roll my eyes. Finally, a Gryffindork who looks like he's about to wet himself.
I sighed. "Longbottom, I just want to get this over with as much as you do. I tell you this: I promise not to squish you, but if you turn into a unicorn or something, I promise you some jokes will be made about it. Deal?" After making sure no one was looking, I stuck out my hand. He flinched before he took it. "And not a peep about this or Snape will use your eyeballs in his next potion, got it?" The Gryffindor went white as a sheet, but still shook his hand.
"Okay, I got it. Deal." They turned toward the class and made their way to the stables. Longbottom entered the stable and took a vial, keeping his pale color.
"Bottom's up!" The giant called. The first of the pairs drank their potions and began changing. They became all different kinds of creatures. Zabini turned into a fox, while Parkinson turned into a mermaid, the stable magically filling with water to accomodate her. I heard a shriek that I've only heard once before, right before my arm was shredded by a...In the stable where Potter was supposed to be, stood a large hippogriff. Crabbe watched his partner shriek and beat his massive wings with wide eyes. I've never seen the man so terrified in my life. A hiss was coming from Longbottom's stable. I turned back to my partner to find him hidden behind the gate, but a steady hiss came from the ground. A loud laugh burst from me before I could stop myself. On top of Longbottom's robes sat a turtle about the size of a quaffle. He narrowed his eyes to slits before retreating into his shell.
"Longbottom, off all the animals you could be!" Potter shrieked again. Crabbe was backing away with his hands raised.
"Calm down, Potter. You make a stupid beast! Why couldn't you be an owl like your Mudblood?" The hippogriff screeched before he tried to tear down the door. His claws tore through the wood. Hagrid rushed over to wave him off.
"Whoa, now! Easy ther, H'rry!" From the looks of things, Potter wasn't listening. The door to the stable splintered under the force of his blows. Students were running to the giant's hut. That large mutt of his was pulling on his chain, barking for his master. I ran over to Potter's stable before I could stop myself.
"It's Crabbe's fault!" I heard myself say. "He was insulting Potter because Potter wouldn't stop screeching at him. Crabbe pissed him off, and he doesn't know that hippogriffs are sensitive." Crabbe and Hagrid both stared at me as if I grew a second head. I couldn't blame them. I was suprised myself. Potter stopped trying to break down the door. Even with his beak and feathers, he still gave me the same look he had earlier.
The half-giant cleared his throat. "Well, er, then I guess that's ferty points from Slyth'rin fer bad judgement." He turned his back to us to address the rest of the class. "Ev'ryone come back after dinner te feed yer par'ners. Class dismissed!"
Dinner tonight was no different than any other night, except the majority of the Gryffindors were down in the stables. We were told to go down there to feed them after dinner. I caught it early by lying a bunch of grapes in front of Longbottom. Hagrid smiled when I took the time to cut them in half. Potter's massive head was craned over his stable door, watching me. His eyes followed me as I went back to the castle, with that same stupid look. As we ate dinner at the Slytherin table, Potter's eyes were staring at me still in my head. He keeps looking at me like he knows something. The mark on my arm tingled. A massive weight settled in the pit of my stomach. He couldn't know about that...could he?
The rest of the night passed by me in a blur. Before I knew it, I was in my bed at nine. Most of the older Slytherins don't go to bed until eleven, but my mind was reeling. Something about Potter's looks churned my stomach. What was he watching? I jumped when I heard a loud laugh outside of the door.
"Hell no, I am not feeding Potter!" I heard Goyle say. "The git had it coming when he tried to tear me apart!" I rolled my eyes. You're the git who insulted him, I thought. Everyone here knows that Potter has a temper. I turned my back to the door and forced my eyes shut. Eventually, I dozed off.
Snake-face was pacing in front of me, smiling. My mother and father was standing in the corner. Mother was crying, reaching out for me. Father held her back, his eyes stone cold. There was a body lying in front of me. His head was turned away from me, but the messy mop of dark hair told me exactly who it was. Tears were falling down my face. I tried with all my strength to stop, but I couldn't. This man lying in front of me was dead. I have no idea how I knew, but the thought caused my heart to rip to shreds. I realized I was talking. The words, "Kill me, too." "I can't live without him." WHAT?! I tried to get up, to run away from this insanity, but I couldn't. I stayed there on my knees, staring at the shell of Potter.
The Dark Lord knelt in front of me and grabbed my chin, bringing my eyes to his. "You have disappointed me, Draco. I understand that children like yourself are so easily swayed by love, but I thought your father taught you better." Love?! What is going on here?!
"Leave him alone! You got what you want!" Weasley was across the room, pinned to the floor by Greyback, Pettigrew, and Goyle's father. Granger was beside him. Bellatrix held her down, holding a knife to her throat. "Leave Draco out of this! He has nothing to do with us!" Greyback grabbed his throat and squeezed until all that Weasley could do was a high-pitched wheeze. Weasley defending me? Calling me by my first name?
"Please," Granger sobbed, "let him go."
"SILENCE!" Snake-face hissed. "I know how to see where Draco's allegiance truly lies...LEGILIMENS!" Images rushed through my mind. I saw myself getting the Mark, then going back to Hogwarts. It then rushed to Hagrid's class, then the tone changed. The memories had Potter shimmering. It was like the memories zeroed in on the Boy Wonder. The images changed. It showed me looking at Harry in different ways. First, it was mostly anger. Then it shifted into fondness, then it felt like I had to look at him as much as I could or he would vanish. The last image that fled through my mind was of him above me, kissing me...
A piercing shriek woke me up. I sprung up from bed. My heart sounded like it was beating in my head, but soon I realized that the rhythmic sound was an owl tapping on the window. A large eagle owl was perched outside the glass, staring straight at him. Its large yellow eyes had a look of scorn that was all too familiar. I wrenched open the window and she flew down to my bed, pausing over the sheets before retreating to the bedposts.
"Granger?" I asked. She hooted smugly. "Could you possibly tell me why you're here?" She ruffled her feathers before flying back outside. She hovered there, flapping her massive wings impatiently. "What do you want, Granger? It's late." She flapped her wings harder, as if to make a point. I groaned when the meaning was clear. "You want me to follow you?" She screeched gleefully. My head fell, staring at the ground. Being in the dungeons of Hogwarts, it would be a long walk uphill to reach the front of the school. I sighed and turned back to the owl. "You're worried about Potter, aren't you?" The owl shrieked again, flapping her wings harder. "Fine," I growled. She flew in dozens of loops while I climbed out of the window. I stepped down onto the frosty grass before making way to Hagrid's hut, the persistent bird soaring above me.
The closer I got, I could hear the hippogriff screeching and pounding his claws. Granger flew faster until she landed on Potter's stable door. They shared a look before Potter turned his large, eagle head to me. He was fidgeting in his stable. He tried to extend his wings, but they crashed into the sides of the small room before they were even half-opened. Potter whined through his beak. Granger hooted sympathetically. I watched her as her head spun on her body. Her eyes locked on something before she flew to the other side of the clearing. "So," I started. This was ridiculous. I've been talking to animals all night. Potter huffed, kicking the door with his talons. "I wager with those massive wings, knowing you, the only thing you want right now is to fly?" Potter shook his massive head, then faced Granger as she landed at my feet. "What now, Granger?" A string of cooked steaks hung from her beak. Her eyes went from me, to the meat, then to Potter. Potter's fidgeting grew more frantic as he stared at the steaks. He was almost hopping in place when I picked the meat up. "I'm warning you, Potter. If you make any move to cut me to shreds, I will hex you. Here." I tossed the string over the stable door. Potter caught the meat in his beak, but then tossed it back to me. Granger rolled her eyes before retreating to her stable.
Potter hit the lock of the door with his beak. The lock was covered in scratches and dents where Potter must have been trying to open it himself. His golden eyes stared hard at me, willing some thought to reach me. "Are you wanting out, bird-brain?" Potter reared back on his hind legs. He aimed his talons at the door's lock as he crashed down. His massive claws tore around the lock through the wood, but the door stayed locked.
"I can't believe I'm doing this," I sighed. "I had a dream about you, Potter. So if you kill me, you'll never hear it." The hippogriff froze for a moment, then backed away from the door. He bowed his massive head, waiting for me. My hands shook as I took the lock. The bolt slid out, then the door flew open as Potter raced out. The force sent me flying into Finnigan's stable, where a large bear was sleeping. Potter caught my sleeve with his beak, suspending me an inch away from Finnigan's jaw. He awkwardly walked to the other side of the clearing, dropping me at the roots of a tree.
"Thanks," I mumbled. Potter tilted his head to focus one eye on my face. It strangely reminded me of Moody's magic eye. It felt just as invasive. He cooed through his beak, bumping me in the chest. I groaned. There would be a large bruise tomorrow. Potter backed away from me like I was the one to hurt him. He collapsed to the ground, lying on his side submissively.
They 'ill have their basest instincts, I remember the giant saying. They know who ye are, but their thoughts are pure instincts. They show some ges'ure of submission, that mean yer in charge...
His eyes followed me as I went to grab his string of steaks and sat near his head. "Get off your arse, will ya?" Potter rolled onto his belly, now face-to-face with me. I almost had it in me to regret my words. I slid the first steak off the string. Struggling to hold it with as few fingers as possible, I held it under his beak. Surprise washed over me as he gingerly bit the farthest edge of the meat, pulling it out of my hand before tearing it apart. This continued as he ate every steak, twelve total. When the last chunk of meat was devoured, he rested his head on his talons, his eyes pleading.
"What, Potter? Need a bedtime story?" His feathers ruffled before he shrieked.