Chapter 21 – What It Means To Be…
Penelope Clearwater stood with the other Ravenclaw prefects in front of their house. It was decided that due to the appearance of the 'Heir' that they needed to speak to their house as a unit.
It didn't take a Ravenclaw to see that people were going to be scared and could react poorly. Logically, it would be stranger if everyone just ignored the writing on the wall. The point was, everyone was going to react and not all reactions would be good ones. No, fear could not be controlled completely but together they could attempt to overcome it.
"Thank you all for being prompt," Penelope smiled. Despite being in sixth year, the seventh-year prefects had asked her to lead this meeting because she had a better relationship with most of the house than they did. "We thought it would be a good idea to get together and talk about the Heir of Slytherin and his warning to the student body."
Many of the students looked around with fear or concern on their faces. It was expected; everyone feared the unknown at least to an extent.
"We think it is important that we discuss everything logically and stand united as a house," Lucas Merriweather, one of the seventh-years added.
"Why can't we stand united as a school?" Harry Potter wondered. When he was given blank looks, he shrugged. "The message didn't just threaten students in this house, it threatened everyone here whether it specified that or not. Wouldn't it be better if Hogwarts as a whole decided that we were not going to allow this to hold us back from coming together?"
While most looked a bit lost, Penelope smiled. "Thank you, Harry." Satisfaction was clear in her voice as she continued. "Last year I talked to Hermione Granger and her friend Neville Longbottom about continuing to make connections outside your house. It can only strengthen this school if we all ignore the color of our ties and look at the people behind the clothes. Harry is correct, the message written on the walls did not discriminate by house it said that any who opposed the heir would die. He did not say what his mission was and while many assume he is trying to complete Slytherin's work of ridding the castle of muggleborns, there is no proof."
"It could be," Lucas interjected, "that he will do like the Dark Lord did and destroy everyone simply because they are in the way." Lucas's father had been an Auror before his death in the line of duty at the end of the last war. "The Dark Lord claimed to fight for purebloods but killed more old families than he saved. What is to stop the heir from claiming we are all blood traitors and coming after us too."
Penelope nodded, "We are Ravenclaws, which means we are smart. We like data and facts. There are no facts for us here so we have to look beyond books. The heir is new to us but the students here are not. We have gone to school with the people in our year groups since the first time we stepped into this castle. I would think that we know our peers better than some crazed lunatic calling for blood." She examined the students watching her and the other prefects, "Shouldn't we be smart enough to know who we can trust to have our backs?"
"I would think that we would be smart enough to realize that our house does not define us nearly as much as we like to pretend." Hermione said quietly after a moment of silence. "It was not just knowledge that allowed the professors to save us last year. Yes, they knew what to do, but they also had to be brave enough to act."
"It takes ambition, dedication and hard work to achieve a mastery in any subject," Harry agreed. "Our professors had the knowledge they needed to protect us all from Quirrell because they have masteries in their subjects."
"Perhaps," Luna spoke from her position between Harry and Hermione, "we as a school should stop looking at our houses for their differences but start considering what we admire about those differences. I am not particularly brave, but I would like to be, like Neville Longbottom."
Seeing the bravery it took for the small girl to talk was not lost of the prefects. "I wish I knew what I wanted to do," Lucas continued the theme. "If I did, perhaps I would have more ambition than getting some low-level ministry job next year while I figure that out."
"I am ashamed to say that I could get better grades if I actually put some effort into my work," Roger Davies sighed. "It's not that I get bad grades I just plan to play quidditch professionally so I often don't see the need to put in the effort that would give me an O instead of an E in the subjects I am less fond of."
"I want to be brave enough to ask the guy I like out," Penelope giggle, "that isn't particularly important in the grand scheme of things but it is still something I wish I had in me."
Harry smiled, "I really admire the Weasley twins. It's not really a specific house trait or anything I wish I had when I look at why I want to be more like them; honestly, it's the fact that Fred and George are always themselves, even when pretending to be each other. There is nothing that stops them from acting just the way they want." He shook his head. "I try so hard to the best version of me that sometimes I'm not completely myself, I'm who I think people want me to be. Sometimes I am afraid that people won't like me for who I really am. I wonder if they are only there to get to know the boy-who-lived instead of Harry." Hermione took his hand, "The sad thing is, I know that some people will never see Harry, some will only see the lightning bolt scar."
"Your true friends," Penelope looked at the famous boy with compassion, "no matter what house they hail from, will only see Harry."
"I am fairly certain Blaise could care less about the fame stuff as long as you continue to be his quidditch buddy," Hermione joked.
"Yeah," Roger shouted, "I don't care what you did when you were a baby as long as you continue to catch the snitch."
Harry sighed, "I wasn't looking for reassurance. I was trying to make a point that no one is perfect and we all want something we don't have."
"And that is why we appreciate you so much, Potter," Lucas shook his head. "For someone so young, you seem to understand what the rest of us miss. Hogwarts should not be four houses divided by fear and mistrust. Hogwarts should be one school that stands together to push back the darkness." He glanced at Roger, "Except on the pitch, then it's Ravenclaw or nothing!"
What the students did not see was the ghost standing in the corner. She glanced at the statue of her mother and smile. "It may have taken longer than you thought but there is finally a group that understands what you were hoping to teach them, mother."
"You need to stop associating with them, Susan!" Ernie MacMillan glared down at his redheaded classmate. "It is going to get you into trouble."
"How is continuing to work with my study group going to get me into trouble? The only reason I am currently getting an E in potions is because of that study group. If I want to follow my aunt into the DMLE one day then I need potions." She shook her head and went back to working on her potions essay. Harry, Hermione and Draco had each read through it and given her pointers on how to make it a better paper. She hadn't lied to her housemates; she really did need them to do well in potions.
Hannah reached across the table and pulled the parchment away from Susan. "You are studying with Slytherins, Sue."
"They are Slytherins!" Ernie all but shouted.
"The chamber was opened by someone," Hannah looked down at her friend. "It is obvious that they are going to fall in line with the Heir when they make themselves known. I don't want you to get hurt and associating with Slytherins is going to do that."
Susan bit down on her lip to keep the scream that was boiling in her from leaking out. "You are aware that Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom are in that group, aren't you?"
"So are Draco Malfoy, Daphne Greengrass and Blaise Zabini." Ernie all but sneered. "You do know that Malfoy's father only escaped Azkaban because he claimed Imperius, don't you? Malfoy is obviously a supporter of You Know Who, so one day he is going to come after you."
"You are aware, Ernie, that the Greengrass and Zabini families were not implicated in any Death Eater activity in the last war. The Zabini family stayed in Italy while the Greengrass remained staunchly neutral, despite the threats against them."
"Don't be naïve, Sue," Ernie leaned against the table, getting closer to the redhead. "Continuing this idiotic relationship is going to cause problems. If you won't take our warning to heart, then perhaps you aren't a real Hufflepuff."
"I thought being a Puff meant you stood for acceptance." Susan glared at the boy, her tone remaining as neutral as she was able due to her growing anger. "Refusing to speak to someone based on their house is the opposite. Perhaps it is you that doesn't belong here." She looked at her year mates and it saddened her that not one of them was taking her side. "I am ashamed to be your friend and year mate right now. Hufflepuff's are supposed to accept people for who they are. We aren't supposed to jump to conclusions based on fear. I was hoping that more of you would want to join our study group but it appears I will have to live with disappointment. Harry and Neville were the ones who started that study group. If there is anyone in our year who would have the right to fear this Chamber business it is those two but they trust their own observations.
"It was Daphne who defended Hermione when Pansy called her a Mudblood. It was Draco and Blaise who stopped Pansy so that she could be punished for bullying another student. The people in that group don't rally around their house at the expense of others; Harry and Hermione stood up their house to help a younger student." Susan shook her head, "I am not stupid; I am well aware that there are students here that still believe that Vol…Voldemort had it right." She had decided that if her aunt and Harry could say the name then so could she, even if it would take a bit of time to keep from stumbling over it. Fear of a name is ridiculous. "There are two camps in Slytherin house and that is even more apparent now. I know where my friends stand and I will not abandon them. Until you see just how wrong you are, I ask that you leave me alone."
Susan got up from the table and turned to leave, only for Hannah to block her path.
"It's either them or me, Sue."
"Excuse me?" the redhead all but shrieked. That was obviously too far for her to let slide.
Hannah stood taller despite her friend's anger. "If you continue to spend time with those slimy snakes, then we can't be friends."
"Hey, now," Cedric Diggory stepped between the two girls. "That is enough Hannah." The fourth-year did not have his signature smile on his face. "What in the world is going on here?"
Susan raised her head in defiance of the glare she was receiving from the person she had considered her best friend. "Hannah and the rest of my year mates find my continued association with certain members of my study group distasteful. I was informed that they would no longer consider me a Hufflepuff if I continued speaking to my Slytherin friends."
Cedric's eyebrows rose almost to his hairline, "Is that true?"
Hannah nodded, "It is obvious that a Slytherin opened the Chamber and is going to start attacking muggleborns, like Justin. Everyone knows that Slytherins stick together so they will all side with the Heir. She is just going to get us all in trouble."
"I am ashamed to be a Hufflepuff if that is what you all think," Cedric shook his head. "It seems to me that Helga Hufflepuff stood for loyalty and justice. Justice isn't pointing your finger at a group of people simply because they are different from you. Loyalty is standing with your friends in good times and bad. Based on what I am hearing here, Susan is the true Hufflepuff among you."
"She is siding with the Snakes!" Ernie shouted.
"Enough!" Seventh year prefect Jessabelle Littlewood all but growled. "Second years, you will be meeting with Professor Sprout tomorrow to discuss your biased discrimination. It is unbecoming of a member of this house to turn on one of their own for showing bravery and loyalty. Susan Bones you are excused from this meeting as you have shown more sense than most. You will also receive five points for doing what is right."
Susan nodded, "Thank you Prefect Littlewood." She took a deep breath, "If it is alright with you, I would like to take a short walk to clear my head."
The seventh year nodded, "That is fine, but remember, curfew starts in just over half an hour, I expect you back on time or I will take those points away, plus a few extra for disappointing me." She whirled, looking at the rest of the house. "If I am going to be honest, there are very few of you that I respect right now. Why was it that Cedric was the only one to step forward? Why was it left to Susan Bones to say what we should all be thinking?"
Herbert Fleet, quidditch keeper, stepped forward. "When did Hufflepuff house become so insular? Why are we trying to drive away innocent kids just because they have a different mascot?"
"Shouldn't we be more concerned with someone who threatens death to anyone who opposes them? I don't know about any of you, but I don't remember the heir giving us any indication as to what their goals were." Tamsyn Appleby, one of the house chasers nodded next to Fleet. "He didn't say it was about blood status. What if he is going to start killing anyone who doesn't like the Chuddley Cannons? I am fairly certain only one student in this school would survive if that were the case."
"My cousin is in Slytherin," Littlewood added. "Should I stop talking to my eleven-year-old cousin because she was sorted into Slytherin like her father, who just happens to be an Auror?" That, finally, got Ernie to look slightly uncomfortable. "None of us know everything about everyone here, does that mean we should stop talking to people all together because they are different? Should we divide families because they are sorted into different houses?"
"It has been two weeks," Cedric added. "In that time has anything happened to make you think that one of your classmates was going to hex you for no reason?" He searched the faces around him, "Did you fear people a month ago just because they were Slytherin? Why do you fear them now?"
"We are all one school," Fleet nodded, "I may not like Wood when he is on the pitch but I can appreciate his skill and dedication. I respect the differences I have with the other keepers. Shouldn't we try to do that with everyone and make our head of house proud?"
Tamsyn nodded, "We are Hufflepuffs. We aren't known for being brave, cunning or clever but we are known for being accepting and hardworking. Perhaps we should work harder at being who we are supposed to be."
I the corner, the Friar could not help but smile. It seemed the students were not as stupid as the headmaster claimed they were. Nor were they as short sighted and gullible. True, some of his house was not living up to what they should be but all was not lost. It pleased him beyond measure that most were seeing the error of their fear. There was hope for the future after all.
"So, Neville," Seamus stood in front of Neville, Dean and Ron at his side. "When are you going to ditch the smiley snakes?"
The Longbottom heir looked up from his Herbology text with a raised eyebrow. "What makes you think I would stop talking to my Slytherin friends? Also, I would appreciate it if you did not call them that."
"What kind of Gryffindor are you?" Ron asked in obvious disgust.
"The kind who does the right thing." He turned his attention to Dean, "Do you agree with them, Dean? I thought you would agree with Harry, someone you have known a lot longer than Ron or Seamus."
Dean looked down at his feet, obviously uncomfortable with the situation. "I don't really know what to think, honestly. Everyone keeps saying that all the dark wizards came out of Slytherin so if dark times are coming that is who we have to fear."
Neville nodded, "I'm not going to lie to you, Dean, a lot of dark wizards were Slytherins, but not all of them. Peter Pettigrew, a Gryffindor, betrayed his friends and was the reason Harry Potter was an orphan. I also know of a Hufflepuff, he was the son of the head of the DMLE and he died in Azkaban for torturing people with an unforgivable curse. There are others but those are the first that come to mind." He looked at the three before him, "Knowing that is true, should we then start fearing our year mates? Should we suspect Susan Bones? Better yet, should we suspect Harry Potter or professor McGonagall?"
"Well said," George said from behind the trio, making eye contact with Neville. "All of us are Hogwarts students, not just us Gryffindors."
"Neville is right." Fred maneuvered his way around people so he was standing next to the lone lion. "I know George and I prank people but we don't do it based on house, we do it for a laugh. We don't target Slytherins because they wear green, and we are not going to start now."
"If we thought that people were bad just because of their house or family, then we should look at ourselves too." George looked at Ron, "Our grandmother was born a Black, and if there is a family with a bad reputation, it is the Black family."
"I think," Neville added, "it is more important to get to know someone and make choices based on their actions, not their family history or robe color."
"I have to say," Professor McGonagall said before anyone attempt to argue with one of her favorite lions, "that I have never been more proud or ashamed to be your head of house." Her gaze traveled over the students in the common room. Some had the decency to look ashamed, others seemed vindicated when they had no right to be. "I think what hurts most is that a member of the Weasley family, a family known for standing for the light, known for following their hearts to truth, is the instigator in this." Seeing Ronald Weasley's smirk falter was satisfying.
"Your house does not determine whether you are good or evil; your actions do. Mister Longbottom was correct in that. I am proud of him and the twins for seeing beyond color to the truth of the matter. Every student who sleeps within these walls deserves to make their choice and none of you have the right to determine their fate before they have decided their own path. We all fear the memory of a man we never knew. Salazar Slytherin could have been evil or he could be misunderstood. What many forget is that Merlin, a man we revere as much if not more than we fear the founder of Slytherin house was in fact a member of the house of Snakes." She gazed around the room, seeing some of her eldest house members nodding though most appeared shocked by this revelation. "My question for you all is, do you want to be remembered by your house at Hogwarts or by your actions? Will you be brave enough to look beyond the color of your tie? Will you be honorable?"
For most the answers were obvious. They were Gryffindor lions. Pride, honor, and bravery were what they all hoped to embody every day of their lives. For one second year he hoped he was already living that way. He wanted to make his parents proud, even if they didn't know what he looked like. For them, and for himself, he would take the path of the brave; paved with honor and integrity.
While the house of lions discussed their shame and hope to move past fear, Sir Nicholas smiled. He had been right about the lioness. She did protect her students and she was beginning to find her own claws. It was gratifying to see that her cubs were learning what theirs were for too. A school divided, was a school in danger of collapse.
"Can I have a moment of your time, Imogen?" Daphne asked the older girl.
Imogen looked up from her book, her snake draped over her shoulders, "Of course, Daphne." She straightened and indicated the seat next to her. "What can I do for you?"
Daphne looked around the Slytherin common room. It was late so most of the house was around the room. Seeing this Imogen pulled her wand from her sleeve and cast a quick spell to keep their conversation private.
"No one but me will hear you now."
"I am coming to you on behalf of a friend and ask that what we discuss is not shared with anyone." Daphne paused, waiting for an indication that her request would be met. Imogen nodded, her eyes taking on a serious glint. "I learned recently that one of my friends is a Parselmouth."
"Really," the older girl interrupted with some surprise. It was a rare gift.
Daphne nodded slightly. "He discovered it by accident while searching for a book and has been doing what he can to learn about his gift. The book indicated that the only real way for a Parselmouth to understand their gift was to converse with a snake the only problem is, he does not have one and we thought it would be unwise for him to sit around speaking with one of the few portraits that has a snake in it."
Imogen nodded, "The locations of those few paintings are unfortunate. Just outside Professor Snape's office, here in the common room or across from the headmaster's office. Even if this friend was a Slytherin, it would be ill advised to speak with any of those painted snakes. I take it he does not want someone to purchase a snake for him?"
"No," Daphne almost smiled, "he is considering finding a snake companion but thought it better for it to be a mutual decision between him and the snake."
The snake around the older girl's neck let out a small his as though agreeing with the assessment. "I see Shiva approves," Imogen couldn't help but smile. "And you suggested coming to me, with the thought that I would be willing to allow him conversing with my dear Shiva?"
Imogen turned her gaze to the cobra perched on her shoulders. They seemed to have a conversation without words before the young woman nodded. "We are agreed that we would be willing to speak with Harry Potter, with the stipulation that I am present at all times."
Daphne blinked, her Slytherin mask slipping upon hearing Harry's name.
"Don't be so surprised, little snake," she all but laughed. "While you are perhaps the most cunning of your year, you have a lot to learn if you want to surprise me. I have known you most of your life, Daphne, and I know there are very few you would do this for. Blaise, Harry and Neville are the only ones that are male and Shiva has hissed at both Blaise and Neville before; Harry is the only one she has not met."
"I see," Daphne was embarrassed that she was read so easily. "I suppose I should have anticipated you seeing though my evasiveness. He and I discussed what might be required of him should you agree and he is more than willing to allow you to be there with him. In fact, he expected it. Is there anything else that you would like from him?"
"Just for him to translate for me. I would love to know what my friend here is thinking. Though she might request something additional from him as she is my companion." Imogen ran a hand along the cobra's head. "To change topics, I am proud of you and your friends. With this chamber business most of the school is turning paranoid. It is rare to see students associating with someone of another house when things are normal; the fact that you continue during this confusing time is even more impressive."
Daphne nodded and looked around the room, "It has been strange. I don't think any of us even considered ending or altering our habits. Harry and Hermione grew up outside the wizarding world so never had that ingrown prejudice. Neville and Susan are both so honorable, both trying to live up to what their families stand for, that turning on a friend would be unthinkable. Little Luna is just so happy to have someone stand by her."
"Malfoy and Zabini?"
"Blaise could care less about house rivalries and would much rather talk quidditch with Harry than Draco or anyone else in our year for that matter. As for Draco, I think he is just so grateful for intelligent conversation that he is ignoring the other option; or it could be his mother's influence."
"And what is your reason?"
The young blond stared at the fire for a moment, wondering how much she should share. "I don't want to be stuck. You know my father has insisted on sharing details about the last war with me and I can't allow myself to be trapped with only His followers around me. No not all of our house follows His example, but not everyone outside these walls sees that. While I am a Slytherin, cunning and ambitious, that is not all I want to be. I want to be loyal, intelligent, hardworking and brave. If I were to leave Harry, Hermione, Susan, Neville and Luna now I would lose more than half of my closest friends. While I don't dislike all of the girls in my year here in Slytherin, I also don't really get along with any of them." She shook her head slightly, "I suppose what I am trying to say is that I have no desire to limit myself or to hurt those I care about. The right thing to do is to be who I am and stay with those who embrace that."
Imogen smiled, "You and your friends are the best of us, Daphne. Yes, there are certain things that pull us to one house over the others, but it is those who can learn from the strengths of others that achieve the most in life. Be cunning, loyal, intelligent and brave. Most of all, do what is right."
"Aldridge," shouted Flint. "It's time to have a house meeting."
With a flick of her wrist, the charm concealing their conversation dissipated. "And what gives you the right to decide that Marcus Flint? Last I checked, I was queen of this house and you were simply the quidditch captain."
The burly boy smirked, "You have been lax in your duties so I am stepping up."
Imogen tilted her head and studied the rest of her house. Some looked like they agreed but most looked confused or afraid. "I am not sure what you are talking about Marcus but the fear on the faces of the younger years makes me think I should have paid more attention to your idiocy." Her eyes flicked to the few individuals flanking her opponent. All were known supporters of the Dark Lord's dogma. "Am I correct in my assumption that you wish to speak about the Chamber and our stance as a result?"
Flint nodded with a smirk, "I think it is time we made our stance clear so people like the little Greengrass bitch know their place." Imogen saw the scowl that spread across Daphne's face at that. "We are Slytherin students so we stand with the Heir. Slytherin stands together so we need to stop associating with others."
She blinked slowly, surprised by the hatred in his voice. "And what if Harry Potter were to reveal that he was the Heir?" Before anyone could speak, she continued, "No one has stepped forward to claim ownership of this status. In all honesty, anyone in this school with a long bloodline could claim kinship to the house of Slytherin. Based entirely on longevity, Draco Malfoy has more chance of having a blood connection to Salazar Slytherin than anyone else here due to his mother's Black blood but he continues to converse with people outside this house." She turned to Draco, "Tell me, Malfoy, why do you continue to speak with muggleborns, half-bloods and purebloods from different houses?"
"Intelligent conversation," he answered in a bored tone, taking his que from Imogen. "Plus, if you hadn't noticed, I am making connections. Susan Bones Neville Longbottom and Harry Potter come from influential lines and are good contacts for my future. Hermione Granger is far smarter than anyone else in our year, though Harry does his best to keep her on her toes; I have a feeling she will do great things in the future. But ultimately, I stay because I actually like most of them." He examined his nails, "I suppose I could act like a coward and refuse to speak with them because someone claims to be the heir but I think it would be better for my own interests to continue as I am now until I have more information. That is what my mother would do."
"Turney," Imogen looked to a seventh-year standing near the door, "are you going to break up with your girlfriend?"
"I would rather not. She did agree to marry me and my mother loves her more than she loves me." Benedict Turney was engaged to a Ravenclaw in his year. "I have also known her my whole life so I am fairly certain I know she would never betray my trust. Personally, I think it is rather stupid and pathetic to judge someone based on where they sleep at night."
A truly evil smirk crossed Imogen's face then, "Perhaps we should ask Professor Snape his opinion. I wonder what he would think of his house deciding to treat the rest of the school as enemies."
"You know as well as I do that Snape thinks of his snakes first, last and always. He doesn't care about the other trash that walks through the halls."
What Marcus failed to see, but many others did, was that Professor Snape had entered early on in the discussion. He had been behind Marcus and his group before Imogen had even started to respond. "I find it surprising that a student would think to know my mind." Their head of house said in a dangerously quiet voice. "I would also like to remind you, Mr. Flint, that I went to the aid of your charms professor last year to save his house from your former defense professor. A defense professor who was possessed by the Dark Lord and who killed a member of this house later that day." The students around the room watched as the quidditch captain flinched, "Yes, my first thought is the health of my snakes but I also think of the other students. Were I not to think of their safety, I would be a poor teacher indeed." He sighed and walked toward the fireplace, "Perhaps it is time for a house meeting."
The students knew to gather around, allowing those of younger years to take the closest positions and the tallest in the back. No one said a word.
"We are the house of Slytherin. We are cunning and ambitious." Severus Snape looked at each student. "I fear that what defines this house has been altered by fear and misunderstanding. We should not seek our own glory by taking the dignity and hard work from others. Greatness is not achieved by cowardly means." As he spoke, he met the eyes of those he was most worried about. "I did not grow up in a rich household like many of you. I had to fight to achieve what I have. My family name meant nothing to anyone so no one was waiting to give me funds to pursue my mastery without large stipulations attached. I was not popular in school; I could count my true friends on one hand and the truest of them wore red and gold.
"I had hoped that the death of your housemate last year would have shown you that the Dark Lord does not think of you when he asks for your assistance. He does not look for your glory, he looks only for his own and he will sacrifice you to get it." There was fear now, outrage in very few. "Do not take my word for it. Do your research and see who destroyed more of the pureblood houses in the last war. If you look, I am sure you will find it was the Dark Lord and not those who opposed him.
"There is someone here claiming to be continuing Salazar Slytherin's dream by eradicating muggleborn students. He also claims that destroying those who question him is the right thing to do, but what right does this person really have? No one is born with the authority to decide who lives and dies, but he is claiming that is his job." Severus Snape continued, speaking quietly but knew he had all of his students' attention. "We are all different. Not all of us are pureblood and those of you who are do not have the same history of blood. Some are foreign, some can trace their lines back to the beginning of magical Britain and some are hiding that they are in fact half-bloods.
"Look around you, can you honestly say you could kill a member of this house because their parent was a muggle or a muggleborn? Could anyone in this room walk up to a first year Hufflepuff and kill them because their parents were dentists?" He paused letting his question sink in and a great deal of confusion. He ignored that, knowing that it wasn't important for them to know just what a dentist was. "This so-called heir states that he would. Are you alright with that? Hogwarts should be united. We should all hope to learn and grow so that we can survive life after school.
"It is time for you all to choose. Are you going to follow a murderer, or are you going to take the high road?"
The bloody Baron stood in the corner and bowed his head. He had once been what those angry students were. Misguided by anger and loneliness he had destroyed his love and his own life because of that rage. He wished that he'd had a teacher like the head of Slytherin that stood before the students now. The young teacher may have started out exceptionally rocky but he had proved himself with that speech. His sincerity and calm would lead most to a path they might not have considered had he not spoken when he did. Severus Snape would not save them all from their parents' bigotry but most would be changed by his words. Perhaps, Hogwarts could one day be united against the tyranny of distrust that seemed to run rampant through the world they lived in. The Baron was almost excited to see what would come of this generation of youths.
Susan Bones stood staring out the window on the fifth floor of the school. Her hands rested on either side of a picture of her and Hannah. It was a picture from their first day of school, before they got on the train for the first time. Back then, they had been so close; nothing could have torn them apart. Now it seemed their friendship was disintegrating.
She was not entirely sure how she had gotten to the fifth floor but the view of the moon reflecting off the lake was soothing. The redhead had always thought that being in Hufflepuff was a good thing. She thought it meant that those around her were more tolerant of differences; more accepting of observation instead of rumor or stereotype.
It broke her heart that one of her best friends believed the opposite.
"Give her time, Susan Bones," someone said behind her. "She will come around and see the error in her ways."
Susan turned to find Luna Lovegood behind her, a book wrapped in her arms. Luna was different. Sometimes she was just a little bit strange but Susan was beginning to see that the strangeness of the younger girl was what made her special. "I hope you are right, Luna."
"You are a good judge of character; you would not have made friends with her if she was that short sighted." Luna moved so that she stood directly beside the redhead and placed the book on the window sill, right next to the picture of Hannah and Susan.
"I think I needed to hear that," she smiled at the younger girl. It would do no good asking Luna how she knew about the fight Susan had with Hannah; Luna wouldn't answer in a way that anyone would understand. "What are you doing out this late?"
"I knew you needed me," for once Luna gave a simple answer, devoid of additions outside the norm. "I will always be there for my friends."
Susan wrapped an arm around the younger girl's shoulders, "Me too."
The too stood for a time, enjoying the silence and the company. Both jumped when they heard a strange noise.
Turning, with wand in hand, Susan could see nothing out of the ordinary. "What was that?"
"I do not know," Luna shook her head and turned back to the window. "I think maybe we should head back to our houses though. It is late and the Wrack Spurts are acting strangely."
Susan nodded, turning back to the window to grab her picture. Before turning around, she looked out the window one last time. Instead of seeing the moon reflected off the water she saw a pair of large yellow eyes.
As one, Susan and Luna fell to the ground eyes open but unseeing.
A young man stood behind them, a gleeful, malicious smile on his face. "That is what you get for siding with my enemies." He laughed at his luck. "All who oppose Lord Voldemort will fall, Mudblood, halfblood and blood traitor alike. Your allegiance was to Harry Potter, my enemy, so this was always your fate." He turned on his heel, headed back the way he came. "Come my pet, there are more enemies to punish."
Malicious laughter bounced off the stone corridor as the young man walked away from his victims. He did not look back.
The one who served him paused before following. Deep sorrow was prevalent in her large eyes. Internally she was at war. A voice laughed in just as much joy as the speaker she was forced to obey to a point. The rest of her was glad for the amount of control she did still have. If it not for certain orders of old, two innocent girls would be dead on the castle floor.
Sorry for the delay ladies and gentleman. More to come and hopefully soon. I do have quite a bit written for what will be the last two or three chapters but there is at least one or two chapters needed to get there.