Chapter 10: The Golden Octo
The last one month at Hogwarts passed away like a swirl of wind, and many things happened within this time, a search took place for the Sorceror stone when the authorities found it missing the night when Harry and others were gone to the underworld, the prefects had decided to take a break from their duties and to have a secret party, that's why no one came to know that Harry, his friends and Malfoy were out of Hogwarts. There was no other reason as to why the authorities would suspect the young first years, they were mainly focusing on the dire criminals who had a bad record. Though there was one person who knew about what Harry and his friends were capable of and that person was of course Dumbledore, he had invited Harry to his office to have a talk with him, Harry too didn't hesitated in telling the truth to the old man. He narrated to the headmaster the part played by him and each of his friends including Percy and Annabeth, in destroying the Sorceror, he even told him about why they were forced to take Malfoy with them and he actually turned out to be of great help as he had saved Harry from falling down the cliff. Harry wasn't as kind as Hermione, yet had a heart big enough that though Malfoy was an enemy, Harry wasn't going to hide whatever helping role the blonde had played when they were having a hard time. Harry had so openly disclosed everything to Dumbledore as he knew that once the headmaster comes to know that the Sorceror was actually a Hocrux then he was going to appreciate what he and his friends did, and yes, Dumbledore did felt and had said that he was very proud of Harry and other children. Later the headmaster had called an official meeting of the Wizarding ministry, the authorities, and the professors at Hogwarts, there he informed them about what had happened to the Sorceror stone, the audience was very surprised after hearing the truth from Dumbledore, nonetheless they too, praised the children for their efforts and the great job they had done by destroying the first Hocrux, already. After this meeting the news got spread like wild fire, and the entire Wizarding world sang the praises of the bravery and heroism of the eight(Harry, Hermione, Alex, Annabeth, Percy, Malfoy, Justin and Emmy) children, they even gave them a special name, ''The Golden Octo'' or the incredible eight.
At present, Harry and Hermione were sitting at the Gryfindor table, while Alex was at the Slytherin table sneaking glances to them both every now and then. Wide smiles were plastered on the faces of the three kids, all eyes which bore the expression of respect and appreciation were concentrated on them and Malfoy. Since Dumbledore had been focusing on the main parts and hadn't gone into much detail while narrating how the kids destroyed the stone, the people were unaware that actually it was because of the circumstances that Malfoy was forced to be on Harry's side, thus it never seized to puzzle them as to why a bully like him could have worked for a good cause.
"Malfoy I still can't understand why didn't you let that potter fall and die?" asked Blaise,
"How many times will I have to repeat it Zabini that I did it for name and fame, can't you see I have become so famous overnight," said Malfoy, though he was doubtful of his own words but he somehow had to convince his friend, and himself.
"Though I hate it, that my name is now taken along with theirs, The Golden Octo, how so rubbish," Malfoy added, making a face,
"Yeah, I know how you must be feeling about your name getting embedded with those freaks, one of them is even a mudblood," said Blaise, sending a dirty look in Hermione's direction.
Malfoy loved fame irrespective of the fact whether he got it from doing good work or bad work, but he knew that he hadn't saved Harry just for becoming renowned. When he had extended his hand to save him he wasn't even thinking about getting any reward later, all that occupied his mind was to do a selfless service of protecting someone from dying, a strong emotion which he couldn't understand at all had compelled him to save even his worst enemy. All recognition that he was getting now for assisting Harry and his friends meant nothing for him because he knew whatever he had done, though unwillingly or due to some strange emotion, he was going to pay for it in the future, in ways so painful that he couldn't even imagine.
The continuous chatting in the hall died down when the students saw that Dumbledore had climbed the podium and was standing with his eyes scanning all the first years present in the hall, satisfied that he had the silence he wanted, the headmaster began,
"Another academic year '1992' has passed away, and I must say it was anything but usual. We are already in the February of the new year 1993 and we welcome it with warm hearts, I'll like to congratulate you all that inspite of the various hardships that occurred we are finally at the end of it in our best of health, now today is the time to celebrate, but before that I would like to distribute the house points and declare which house is going to be the winner."
"Starting with Hufflepuff, the house stands at fourth position with 257 points, next Ravenclaw stands at third position with 300 points, then Gryfindor stands at second with 350 points and finally Slytherin stands first with 360 points."
The moment Dumbledore announced the winner, the Slytherins burst into shouts and whistling, while the other three houses just watched them with jealous and hate ridden faces.
"Silence." Dumbledore shouted in his ever powering voice, and the noises stopped.
"I am not finished yet, I want to say that some amendments have been made in the distribution of house points considering the great works done by a few special students," said Dumbledore, the students began to exchange surprised glances though they knew what and about whom the headmaster was talking about.
"So, I would like to give 60 points to Mr. Harry Potter for his bravery and high spirits,"
Everyone began clapping, with Slytherin house doing it just for the sake of formality.
"50 points to Miss Hermione Granger for being the wisest witch who has always helped her friends with her vast knowledge of every kind of spell,"
Again roars of clapping filled the hall, Harry patted her back, Hermione couldn't stop smiling as she felt her heart bursting with happiness.
"We are now ahead of Slytherin," she whispered to Harry as Dumbledore went on further,
"50 points to Miss Alex Russo for always being there for her friends, she is obviously the support without which Harry and Hermione couldn't have achieved what they have."
Another huge round of applause followed,
Alex was taken aback as she wasn't expecting that she too would be given the honor of getting extra house points, she had her head already turned in the direction of Harry and Hermione, who were beaming and clapping happily for her, just like she had done when they were rewarded with extra points.
"It's actually hard to control others, but to control our own mind and going against our own beliefs is even harder. And thus I'll like to reward 50 points to Mr. Draco Malfoy who didn't went with his mind, but instead he listened to his heart and saved Harry," Dumbledore finished,
Along with Slytherin the other three houses also clapped for Malfoy with same intensity and respect which they had shown for Harry, Hermione and Alex. They felt no matter what a bully Malfoy was, he actually had done a noble thing for which he deserved to be praised.
Malfoy was completely surprised not because Dumbledore had given him extra points, he was expecting such a thing judging by the treatment that he was receiving from all people after he had become one of the hero of the sorceror stone adventure, but what actually bothered him was the 'reason' that Dumbledore had given as to why he had saved Harry. Malfoy hadn't considered before that what Dumbledore said could also be a reason, but now that the old man had mentioned it, Draco felt like this was the answer he was searching for, the proper ans, that he actually had a good side which was hidden from his own self but had showed up and made him to save Harry, this was the emotion he couldn't understand, the emotion of caring for others. The moment this realization hit him, Malfoy couldn't hate him less, he never wanted any trace of good in him, he felt terrible now, he wanted to shout, and bang his head into a wall, yet he tried his best to remain calm and composed as he was surrounded by students and teachers.
"That old coot thinks you saved Potter because you listened to your heart and not your mind, what a joke, he should know you did it for your benefit, after all, we Slytherins don't have any heart, still bro, congrats for the 50 points you have got," Blaise whispered into Malfoy's ear, Malfoy smiled at his friend managing well to hide the current emotions in him.
"So with current scores It will mean there's a tie between Slytherin and Gryfindor, also topper of the year is still left to be announced and I won't delay in telling that again there is a tie between two students from each of the winning houses, Miss Hermione Granger from Gryfindor stands first with perfect 'O'(O stands for outstanding) in all subjects, and same way Mr. Draco Malfoy from Slytherin stands at the same position with perfect 'O' in all subjects."
Loud clapping followed again,
"Pathetic, I can understand your genius Draco, you are a pure blood, but I don't know what world is this where mudbloods like that Granger manage to have such brains which can achieve the first position," Blaise was saying to Malfoy with complete disgust in his voice, Malfoy nodded at him showing that he fully agreed with Blaise.
" Now lastly, I would like to thank few people who aren't present here but had made important contribution In destroying the Hocrux. As you all know two people are from Hogwarts itself, our remarkable head boy Justin Chatwin and head girl Emmy Rossum, who too will be rewarded with points when the celebrations of ending year would be held for the sixth years later this evening, and I would like to thank Demi gods- Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase, who again had played very important roles in the quest, but since they don't belong to Hogwarts it's unfortunate we can't do anything to return their favor, but their sincere efforts will forever be engraved in our minds and hearts, with this I will end my speech, happy holidays children!"
This time along with clapping, the students jumped out of their seats, they shouted, screamed and some even danced with joy, Alex quickly ran to Harry and Hermione, giving a hug to the brunette she congratulated her for her first position.
"I am so happy Hermione, I already knew you will top, my library freak," said Alex,
"I am no freak, how did you guys do?" asked Hermione, short giggles escaping her throat,
"Well I managed to get an 'S' (stands for satisfactory)," said Alex,
"Same here," said Harry.
Suddenly a shrill and loud rusty voice of a woman took away the attention of Harry, Alex and Hermione, as well as other students, they saw that Ron Weasely had his face twisted in utter horror, in front of him was a magical letter, floating in the air.
"Ronald Weasely, I got a letter from Dumbledore telling me that you have got a 'T'(stands for troll, meaning- fail) in most of the subjects, and that you will be giving re exams during your second year, what a shame it is! Come home and see what I do with you," the voice of Molly Weasely, Ron's mother, screeched out through the letter.
Ron's lips were trembling with fear and he sat frozen at his spot, his eyes bulging out which made him look even more ridiculous than he already was, while Navel Longbottom who was sitting beside him, fainted and fell down from his seat.
"What happened to Longbottom? The letter was addressed to Weasely, I suppose," Dean was whispering to Seamus.
"You know how Navel is, Mrs. Weasely's angry nasty voice must have scared him," whispered Seamus.
Everyone in the hall rolled their eyes and got back to their respective works.
Harry, Alex and Hermione were back to their conversation,
" I didn't expected the ferret would also get the first position," said Harry,
"No Harry, you do know that even in class Draco and I were the ones who always got the best grades, so it was obvious that he would top." said Hermione.
"Yeah, Yeah, Whatever," said Harry in a bored tone, and both girls laughed.
"What?" Harry snapped out,
"Someone's jealous," said Alex.
"I don't need to be jealous of a ferret," said Harry, his cheeks turning red.
"Oh Harry, you're adorable!" both girls exclaimed together as they burst into a fit of laughter.
But seeing that Harry wasn't finding it funny at all, they both did control themselves.
"Leave it Harry, we are just joking," said Hermione,
Harry's offended expression vanished quickly and he smiled at her,
"Let's not talk about Malfoy, that's going to spoil our mood on this fine occasion," he stated,
"To remind you, you were the one who brought him into conversation," said Alex,
"Yeah, right, after all, I fancy him so much, but let's talk about something else for now," Harry joked, Alex and Hermione broke out in giggles again.
"Seems you children are having a great time," a voice spoke from behind them, Harry, Hermione and Alex knew who it was, Dumbledore.
"Hey professor," the three kids turned and greeted the headmaster.
"Hello to you too students, sorry if I am disturbing you but can I have a talk with you three, you know it's important." said Dumbledore,
"Of course sir, why not, " said Harry,
"Having a conversation with you won't be a disturbance ever, sir," said Hermione and Alex nodded.
"What I wanted to tell you is that, you three were involved in destroying one of Voldemort's soul, with passage of 1992 and advent of 1993 another one year is complete, now some other soul of Voldemort would get revived, and it will get outrageous finding one of the Hocrux gone. So I advice you people to be very careful, if you sense anything amiss, inform me." said Dumbledore,
The kids nodded,
"And Miss Russo, just now you would be out for holidays but when you return for your second year, henceforth you'll be keeping a watch over Mr. Malfoy, I do think you three must have figured it out that somehow he is connected to Voldemort since he knew about the stone."
Alex nodded at the professor, though from inside her mind was rebelling against such an idea.
"I think I am done here, so again happy holidays children, enjoy yourselves." Dumbledore wished and then he left with a wink of eye.
"How can that old man ask me to enjoy, when he just now has handed me with the most idiotic, infuriating task. Why me? Why do I have to keep a watch on that ferret, it's disgusting," Alex ranted.
"Calm down Alex, he asked it because you both are in the same house, so it will be the easiest for you to keep a watch on him." said Hermione.
"Yeah, and if he finds out that I was secretly spying on him it will be easiest for him to make my life the most difficult," said Alex, and then she left angrily. Harry and Hermione called out to her and tried to follow but she was so fast that they couldn't catch up and she got lost somewhere in the crowd.
"Oh Merlin, I haven't seen her so angry ever before." said Harry.
"Well, she is a little upset, but she isn't going to disobey Dumbledore, she just needs some time to calm down." sighed Hermione.
"But who can blame her for being upset, keeping a watch on the ferret of course isn't something anyone would fancy, I still can't understand why she was chosen to Slytherin anyway? Did you two find out the reason?" asked Harry.
Earlier also, Harry had questioned Hermione a few times about the same thing but she always used to change the topic or just said that they hadn't found out, this time too she preferred to give the same excuse.
"I told you Harry, I don't know." said Hermione,
"Then let's go and ask the speaking hat," suggested Harry,
Hermione paled at this,
"Why are you all of a sudden getting so concerned about it?" she asked,
"Of course I am curious, aren't you? We always are busy with our studies and Voldemort's issues, today we have time, so let's go and ask the hat." said Harry and he didn't wait for Hermione's response as he started to drag her along out of the hall, the brunette knew that now there wasn't a way out.
"Harry wait, I know," said Hermione,
"Know what?" asked Harry as he halted,
"I know why Alex got chosen to Slytherin, one day I had asked the hat about it," said Hermione,
"Then why did you lie to me?" asked Harry,
"Because you will freak out if you come to know the reason, besides she made me promise that it would remain a secret between her and me." said Hermione,
"Really? Now that has just enhanced my curiosity, what reason is it that will freak me out? What are you two hiding? And if you aren't going to tell me I will go and ask the hat myself," said Harry,
"I know Harry, that's why I am going to tell you, I hope Alex will understand," said Hermione,
Harry arched his eyebrow at her,
"Go on." he persisted,
"She got chosen to Slytherin because, well, she, she liked Malfoy, that's why she wanted to be in the house in which he was."
Harry was now gaping at the brunette,
"See I told you, that you will freak out," said Hermione,
"That can't be, she got among those Slytherins because she liked Malfoy?" he let out in a very surprised voice,
"Harry, though Draco may be an arrogant nasty Slytherin it doesn't change the fact that he actually has got gifted looks, so Alex just got carried away. Though she confessed to me that she doesn't like him anymore because of his high headedness, but now she can't do anything about being in Slytherin." said Hermione,
"Wait, did you just complimented Malfoy?" asked Harry,
"Oh C'mon Harry, it's not like I complimented him or something, Draco actually is very charming to look at, and don't think that I am saying this because I fancy him. I said this because it's the truth, you know I am a person who goes with facts rather than personal prejudices." said Hermione,
"I can't believe this, I don't see anything which can be termed as charming in that stupid ferret," Harry ranted,
"See, that's why I didn't wanted to tell you." said Hermione, with a huff.
"You were suppose to tell me why Alex got chosen to Slytherin, and not about how adorable Malfoy is." said Harry,
"Oh shut up Harry, I was just trying to give you reasons why Alex got attracted to Draco, so that you could understand her feelings and refrain from getting outrageous at her. I wanted you to realize that she didn't do it intentionally, she listened to her heart and it made her chose the wrong house." Hermione said,
Harry closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths,
"Then tell me hermione how do I look?" he asked,
"What?" Hermione asked, quite taken aback by Harry's sudden change of subject.
"Yes, I just want to know, that's all." said Harry,
Hermione felt herself blushing as she began to look away from him,
"Harry, if you really want to know, then obviously you look good." she said,
"Good, is that all?" asked Harry,
"Yeah," Hermione replied casually,
"Ok, then tell me who is better looking, me or Malfoy?"
"Harry, why are you even bothered?"
"Ans me Hermione," Harry pressed, not sounding angry but eager.
Hermione was getting frustrated nonetheless she answered him,
"What! you think that git looks better than me?" Harry yelled,
"You wanted the ans, I gave it, now end this rubbish conversation here."
"No no no, how could you say that?" Harry ranted,
"Harry, that's just my opinion, it's not like I am stating some fact, so don't get offended, there must be people who may find you more good looking than him."
"Says a hideous haired, know it all."
"Fine Harry, I really don't know why are we even discussing this pointless topic, you wanted to know why Alex got chosen to Slytherin, I told you, now if you are going to be like this, then it's better that I leave, thanks a lot for spoiling a perfect morning." said Hermione as she started to go.
Harry knew he had went too far, he shouldn't have called her all that he did, he quickly caught her by the arm,
"Ok, ok, I am sorry, really, really sorry Hermione, please don't go, I won't talk about it anymore, and whatever I said about you, I was just angry, so forget it, you know you are very pretty, now let's go and enjoy the party."
Hermione let out a sigh, and looked back at Harry, her anger gone.
"Sometimes I just want to ball your head out." she said with a sense of humor in her voice.
Harry bowed to her in a dramatic way and motioned his head forward, as if he was offering it to her,
"You are such a forgiving person Hermione, still if you want, you have all right to take my head off." he said.
"Harry, stop it," she said, letting out giggles,
They both walked back into the hall,
There they began to explore the food section,
"Are you sure, you won't like reconsidering whether I am better looking or Malfoy?" Harry whispered to her when Hermione was looking for her favorite dish.
"Harry!" she yelled angrily on him, for getting started again.
"Fine, fine, sorry." he said putting a finger on his lips.
It was then, when Alex showed up from somewhere,
"Oh, here you two are, I had been looking for you." she said,
"What! were you two arguing again? Leave you guys for few minutes and see what happens," she commented, seeing that Harry looked timid and Hermione was staring daggers at him.
"It's nothing, so tell me where have you been?" asked Hermione, turning her attention to Alex,
"Well, where do you think? In my room of course, I had been thinking and I am ready for what Dumbledore had asked me to do." said Alex,
"Told you that she would come around, sooner or later." Hermione said to Harry, and he gave a smile.
"Though I must say that old man with those over irritating twinkling eyes and more than needed, brain, does know how to ruin the best day." said Alex.
"Show some respect Alex, he is the headmaster," Hermione snapped,
"Typical Hermione" both Harry and Alex said together, and then they wasted no moment in running away.
"Run for your lives, a bushy haired monster is out to kill," they both were shouting as Hermione chased after them through the entire hall yelling,
"I am no bushy haired monster, you pillories!"
Evening had fell, the first years were ready with their luggage, to travel back to their homes for holidays.
Harry, Hermione and Alex had said their goodbyes to Hagrid and at present Harry and Hermione were in Gryfindor's common room. They were done with their packing, and were waiting for Alex who still hadn't showed up, as usual they both were involved in some heated argument.
"Harry stop being so stubborn, last time too you didn't want to come to my home, what's the big problem?" Hermione pouted,
"I told you Hermione, I am going to my uncle and aunt for the holidays and that's final." said Harry,
"Why? You yourself said that they are cruel and abusive, then why do you want to go to them?" she asked,
"Because Hermione, I can't turn to your parents every time, I don't want to cause trouble." said Harry,
"What trouble? You're not any trouble, Ok, I told you, you can always consider my home as your own, my parents would be so happy if you come over." she said, her eyes pleading,
"No." said Harry,
"Fine, then I won't go back, I'll stay here at Hogwarts." said Hermione, crossing her arms.
"Hermione, don't act so daft."
"If you can be stubborn so can I." she said,
Harry let out a tired breath,
"You win, you know how to convince me, I am coming. But if later your parents complain, about me eating too much, do not say I didn't warn you." he joked, and Hermione laughed giving him a quick hug.
"Since when did you started to eat so much Mr. Potter that it would bother others," said Hermione, playfully poking at Harry's cheek.
"Did I miss something," came Alex's voice as she entered the common room with her luggage.
"Harry is coming," Hermione spoke up happily,
"Oh, you got him to agree, that's good, so lets get going now." said Alex,
"Yeah right, don't want to get late for Hogwarts express, as I don't want to catch it on brooms again." said Hermione, she grabbed her luggage and started to walk away, Harry and Alex rolled their eyes as they began following her.
The three friends were in the corridors when the voices of Justin and Emmy made them stop,
"Leaving without saying goodbye to us?" said Justin, as he and Emmy approached them.
"C'mon Justin, now that we know you two live so nearby , it's not like we aren't going to meet during the holidays." said Hermione,
"Sense of humor Hermione." said Emmy.
"She can't take jokes." said Harry, Hermione punched him hard in the arm.
"Ouch!" he exclaimed, and everyone laughed.
"So guys, heard you people won and there was a draw between Gryfindors and Slytherins," said Justin,
"Right, I, Hermione, Alex and Malfoy were given extra house points." said Harry,
"Congratulations to you all, I wouldn't have appreciated it but since our little Alex is in Slytherin I am glad that the house won." said Emmy.
"Thanks Emmy, but even if the Slytherins wouldn't have won, I wouldn't have minded it, because I don't consider them as my house. Just because I am in Slytherin doesn't change it that I am a true Gryfindor." Alex said with pride.
"Yes Alex, you truly are a brave Gryfindor, we still can't understand why the hat put you in Slytherin when your traits are so different from those disgusting bullies and you yourself are so appreciative of Gryfindors," said Emmy giving a look to Justin, who returned an agreeing glance.
Harry choked at that, while Hermione quickly changed the topic,
"Yeah that's strange, but we will find out some time later, tell me what happened in your gathering?" she asked, the brunette felt guilty that she still hadn't told Alex that she had already disclosed to Harry her little secret.
" I and Emmy were given extra points and Gryfindor won." said Justin.
"That's great, congratulations." said Alex, followed by congratulations from Harry and Hermione.
"So when are you two leaving?" asked Harry,
"Tomorrow, as it is, today the Hogwarts express would be occupied with carrying the juniors." said Justin.
"Ok, so we got to leave now, don't want to miss our train." said Hermione.
"Fine, see you all later." said Emmy and Justin.
"Bye." the kids greeted.
"Bye." greeted back Emmy and Justin as they saw the three leaving,
"I had never thought we two would go on a crazy adventure with some crazy kids, to destroy a Hocrux, and then we all will be termed as ''The Golden Octo'" said Emmy,
"Why? You don't like it?" asked Justin,
"No I love it, "The Golden Octo", yet it's strange that this group of eight involves, not only wizards and witches but also demigods and even a young, yet potential enemy."
"Yeah that's truly strange." he said,
"Lets go and do our packing for tomorrow." said Emmy and they both left, leaving the corridor silent, for one month as the children were going to be away for holidays the entire Hogwarts was going to experience the same silence.
This is what till the end of first year, for the coming years I will be writing the sequels, till then bye!