Author's Notes: Sorry for the delay. I've been having some problems with IRL, and I probably have been gaming a little too much. Enjoy.


Chapter 38

Some things never changed.

"Hurry," Mother called as she paced forward through the crowd.

We arrived at King's Cross with just fifteen minutes to spare. It was an improvement, at least. In my previous life, we only had five. Still, there was no point in wasting time, so all of us pushed through the crowd until we got to Platforms Nine and Ten.

"Come on, Weasleys," Dad urged as we arrived at the entrance of the portal.

"Ginny, you first," Mother said as she took my sister's cart. Together, they both ran through the pillar and disappeared through the brick wall. Dad accompanied Percy soon afterwards, and the twins ran through as well.

I was about to follow when I heard someone call my name.

"Ron!"

I turned around, eyes widening slightly as I saw Violet and Granger rushing towards me. Why were they late, or not even using the Floo?

"Violet," I greeted, before turning to Granger. She watched me with narrowed eyes, but didn't say anything. I just gave her a nod in greeting, which she surprisingly returned.

"Running late, are we?" Violet asked, a teasing smile forming on her face.

"So are you," I countered with my own smile. I looked around for a moment. "Where's Lady Black?"

"She's doing some last minute things," she replied with a shrug. "Couldn't accompany us here. Where's your family?"

"Went ahead," I replied. "As should we, you know."

"Yeah, sorry," Violet said, shaking her head. "Actually, I'm glad to see you. I wanted to—"

"Can I go ahead?" Granger cut in, frowning. "I'd rather not be part of this conversation."

"Obviously," I muttered. She glared at me for a moment before huffing, pushing her cart through the wall and disappeared.

"Sorry about her," Violet said, sighing.

"Things still not working out?" I asked.

"They are," she replied with a far off look, a small smile on her lips. "Vacation has been rather enjoyable. Hermione had been visiting frequently ever since we connected her household with the Floo. The last few weeks, though, have been a bit rough."

"Why?"

"Because someone sent me a boring Rubik's Cube for my birthday?" she replied, grinning. "Don't get me wrong, I kinda like it, but I never get enough time to solve it. Bella keeps playing with it. Apparently, it had been a while since she saw a 'Magic Cube'."

"Maybe I'll buy one for her," I said noncommittally.

"Well if you are, get one for Hermione as well. If it wasn't in Bella's hands, it was in hers. She kept poring all over it, as if expecting it to, I don't know, explode or something."

I raised an eyebrow. "Paranoid, much?"

She sighed. "Ron… I know I said this last year, but I am sorry for what happened. We've had Hermione visit a mind healer, so she's improving a bit. However…"

"She still hates me," I guessed, nodding. "Well, as long as she understands that coming after me may risk you. It's okay if we don't get along, Violet. I just—"

Daphne suddenly burst out of the portal, looking around. When she saw me, she asked, "Ron, what are you doin—?" and stopped when she saw Violet. "Potter," she greeted.

"Morning, Greengrass," Violet greeted back.

Daphne walked to me. "Ron, the train is going to leave soon! Hurry up!"

"Ah, bugger," Violet muttered, her eyes widening. She pushed her cart forward, looking back at me. "Let's continue this conversation back at Hogwarts?"

I couldn't reply before she disappeared through the wall, but I still grinned. So far, Violet was still okay with me, and while Granger would need more time, it was a step forward. Even if I couldn't get them to trust me in the end, the neutrality option was still very much viable.

"What were you two talking about?" Daphne asked, crossing her arms.

"Don't think now's the time for that conversation," I commented.

"Oh, but you have plenty of time to talk to her, huh?"

I snorted before my composure failed, and I chuckled. "Jealousy doesn't suit you. Now come on. You can interrogate me all you want about the supposed quality time I spent with Violet once we're in the train."

"I will," she replied, huffing. Turning around, she made her way towards the portal, only to slam head-first into the wall.

"Ouch! Hey!"

Oh, you have got to be fucking kidding me. I rushed to the wall, pressing my hand against the surface. It was solid on contact. Daphne did the same, slapping the wall repeatedly.

"What happened?" she asked, confused.

"I don't know," I replied honestly. Why would this happen? Last time, it was because Dobby was trying to protect Harry and there was no point in that now considering I had the Diary. Was he here?

I expanded my senses, trying to see if I could sense any sort of house-elf magic, but couldn't find it through the strong magical energy of the portal. Not only was it bleeding all over the place, there were also complex runes that were used to distract the muggles any time someone went through the portal.

Shaking my head, I put that thought away and began scanning the crowd. I noted a few curious onlookers, but everyone else was passing us by, busy with their own lives. "Daphne, come here for a moment."

"What? Why?"

"No arguments, please," I insisted as I gently placed her into position. I checked my surroundings again and pushed my cart nearer the wall. Some onlookers lost interest, but there were still a few watching us, wondering what two kids were doing alone in the station. I waited for a moment before a large group of muggles began to rush by before touching the rune on my trunk, shrinking it. Quickly pocketing it, I grabbed Daphne's arm once more and mixed in with the crowd.

Anyone still looking would probably wonder where we went, and why we left my cart against the wall.

"Where are we going?" she asked softly, looking nervously at the muggles around us. "We're going to miss the train, Ron!"

"I know," I replied with a sigh. "Don't worry. We'll still get to Hogwarts. How do you feel about cars?"

"You mean, the—" and she motioned towards the people around us.

"Yeah."

"They're not bad," she replied.

"How about a flying one? My dad modified his so it could fly."

Her eyes widened. "You're not seriously—"

"Of course not, I'm not that stupid." Well, not anymore at least. As we passed by the benches, I scanned for anyone that didn't fit. We passed by a few muggles wearing suits, drinking from paper cups, before I stopped. I stared at a man wearing a long coat. He was alone, sipping tea from a porcelain cup, stirring the contents with a silver spoon. I pulled Daphne away from the crowd and approached him.

"Auror?" I asked quietly when I was in front of him.

The man's eyes widened as he looked at me. "How—?" He paused. "Students?"

"Yes," I replied as innocently as I could. "Dad told me you guys were around guarding the place. Something happened!"

"What's going on?" a familiar female voice asked behind us. I turned and immediately recognized her. Apparently, she remembered me too. "Ronald Weasley?" she asked.

"Good morning, Auror Lynn," I replied, smiling slightly.

"Shouldn't you be on the train, young man?" she asked.

"We wanted to, but the wall won't let us through!" Daphne replied.

Lynn looked at her for a moment, eyes widening in recognition. "Heiress Greengrass." She turned to the other Auror. "Jackson, come on. Let's see what's going on."

"Yes, ma'am," Jackson replied, standing up, his cup mysteriously disappearing.

"Heiress Greengrass, Ronald, accompany us please. We'll get to the bottom of this immediately."

"Will we miss the train?" Daphne asked.

"Probably, but we'll make sure to get you to Hogsmeade. We'll contact your parents and your teachers as well."

"Thank you," she replied in relief.

"Now come on," Lynn ordered gently. "Let's see if we can get the wall fixed."

As we walked back to the platform, I noted Daphne studying me. I inwardly sighed. While it should be completely obvious, it wasn't common knowledge about Auror guards patrolling the platform. I could practically hear the questions in her head.

How did I know about the Auror hiding—if somewhat poorly—in plain sight?

One day, she was going to realize I hadn't lied to her about my Auror or Unspeakable training. She was smart, devious, and potentially forceful enough to make me spill the complete story.

I had no idea if I was looking forward to that day or not.


"What took you two so long?" Tracey asked as she stood at the center of the compartment, arms across her chest as Daphne and I finally arrived. I noted Milly and Zabini sitting together, the latter looking a bit curious.

"Something happened," I replied as I looked around where to sit down. Daphne grabbed my arm and dragged me to sit beside her. I expected Zabini to stand, but Daphne just scuttled closer to me, giving Tracey enough space to sit down.

"Something?" Zabini asked, raising an eyebrow. "What an eloquent way to inform us why you two almost missed the train to Hogwarts, Weasley. I'm on the edge of my seat."

"Shut up," I replied, rolling my eyes. "The portal leading to the magical side of King's Cross closed on us."

"How?" Milly asked, eyes narrowing. "That shouldn't happen."

I just shrugged my shoulders. I wasn't a hundred percent sure yet.

"It's quite lucky that Ron found an Auror," Daphne said in an faux sweet tone, looking at me with a small smirk. "They worked on the wall a bit and got it working."

"Aurors?" Tracey asked, eyes wide.

"In King's Cross?" Zabini added, frowning.

"Mystified me as well," Daphne replied, squeezing my arm tighter. "In fact, he found them so quickly, it made me wonder how he knew of their presence."

"Auror training," I replied neutrally. I winced as I felt her pinch.

"Auror training?" Milly repeated.

"Don't encourage him," Daphne replied, voice returning back to normal, though with a bit of growl in the undertone. She let go of my arm and crossed hers. Was she actually pouting? "Apparently, Weasley likes making up stories instead of just telling the truth."

Everyone else looked at each other, before turning to me. I just gave them an innocent smile.

"Okay, seriously, Ron," Tracey said after a moment of silence. "How did you know about the Aurors?"

"Dad told me about them," I replied, shrugging. "Besides, I thought it was obvious. I mean, there's only one magical school in the United Kingdom. Only way we can get there is through King's Cross station. Also, quite a few of us are the Heirs and Heiresses to our families. Why wouldn't there be at least a few Aurors to guard the place?"

"Makes sense," Milly replied, nodding. Daphne sniffed, making Tracey and Zabini look at her.

"So," I said, taking the initiative to change the subject, "how were the hols?"

Before anyone could reply, Daphne spoke up. "Ron, what were you and Potter talking about?"

"Really?" I asked, looking at her. Her eyes narrowed before I relented. "We exchanged pleasantries. Nothing more."

"Why?" Tracey asked, looking confused. "I thought that after last term, we'd go our ways."

"Ron has some sort of grand plan to continue their association," Daphne replied with a small amount of disapproval in her tone.

Milly and Zabini looked at each other, the latter shaking his head. "Must be some sort of Weasley Insanity," he declared.

I rolled my eyes. "I'm just being practical. Rather not make any more enemies this year. So, how were the hols?"

Milly was about to say something when the door opened. I raised an eyebrow, wondering if that was going to be the theme of the day, only to smile when I saw Luna on the other side. Her eyes crinkled when she saw me, and launched herself at me.

"Ron!" she greeted with a hug.

"Hey, Luna," I greeted back, returning her hug.

"How was your trip?" she asked before continuing in rapid fire. "I heard you won! Congratulations! And the chocolates were very nice! I couldn't stop eating them! I gave some to my mom and dad, and they wanted to thank you for the other things you got them as well!"

"Whoa, whoa," I interjected, patting her head. "Slow down."

She responded by just giggling. Wow, the Luna of this world really was different. As she disengaged from the hug, she looked everyone with bright grin. "Hello!"

"Hey little one," Daphne greeted with a rare small smile. "Are you ready for Hogwarts?"

"Yes!" Luna replied excitedly. "I'm aiming for Slytherin, so I can be with all of you!"

Milly and Tracey looked a little happy at the announcement, while Zabini just nodded. They were probably going to be disappointed, but then again, life could flip me off again.

"That's great, Luna," I replied, nonetheless. "So, how was your ho—"

There was a knock on the door. Oh, you have got to be kidding me. I turned to face the doorway, only to blink once I saw Violet. She was carrying a large bundle of candies as well as a few bottles of that looked like pumpkin juice.

"There you are," she greeted with a wide grin.

"Potter," Daphne greeted, somewhat tightly. I noted the others looking a little apprehensive at Violet's presence. Only Luna didn't seem to care as she too greeted Violet with her still-present smile.

"Violet!"

"Hey, Luna!" Violet replied back just as enthusiastically. "Did you like those gemstones Hermione and I owled you?"

"They were really pretty, but I like Ron's chocolates more."

Violet raised an eyebrow and looked at me. "Chocolates? Wow. How come he never gave me some of those as well?" She looked back to Luna. "He only gave me a boring Rubik's Cube."

"Hey," I protested, trying to sound a little hurt, "I thought you liked it?"

"I'd rather have chocolates," Violet replied, grinning. "Every girl likes chocolates." She looked at the rest of my Slytherin friends. "Am I right?"

I almost chuckled when I saw them nodding stiffly.

"Someone extend the table for me?" Violet asked. "These things are pretty heavy."

"Uh," Tracey began, looking at the still standing Luna at the center.

"Little one," Daphne called, making the youngest girl look at her. "Would you like to sit with Millicent and Zabini for a moment?"

Luna turned to me for a moment before nodding. As she took her place, Tracey tapped on the wall, just below the window, and a table began to magically form in the center of the cabin.

"Thank you," Violet said as she began to place all the packages on the table, with the bottles in the center.

"Potter, what is all this?" Daphne asked.

"Gifts," Violet replied with a grin. "I got Bertie Botts, pumpkin juice, Chocolate Frogs, and all other kinds of stuff."

"No offense, Potter, but why?" Zabini asked. "Considering after what happened last year—"

"It's because of what happened that I'm doing this," she interjected, shaking her head. "Look, we didn't exactly part on good terms last time, and for good reasons. I regret that. I like all of you, honestly, and I hoped that we could start anew."

"Considering that you threatened us last time, forgive us if we aren't exactly… enthused," Zabini replied.

"Threatened?" Luna asked, looking confused.

All of us stared at her for a moment, but Violet recovered first. "We had a fight," she simply said, giving her a sad smile.

"About?"

"It's a little complicated, Luna," I answered.

"Oh," was all she said. She looked at Violet. "Can I?"

I almost readied to unsheathe my wand, just in case. However, Violet just beamed and said, "Go ahead."

Well, that was a good indication that none of these were poisoned. I felt a little bad thinking that. As Luna opened a packet of liquorice wands and uncorked a bottle, I looked back at Violet.

"Gesture of friendship?" I asked.

"More of an apology and reconciliation," she replied, shaking her head. "I already said sorry to you, Ron, but I never apologized to the rest of you. I just hope you understand that I was under pressure during that time." She faced the others. "I am really sorry for everything."

As Luna began biting through a liquorice wand, I chanced a look at everyone else. For some reason, they were staring at me, as if waiting for my response. I gave them an incredulous look. Why in the bloody hell were they looking for my lead? I turned back to Violet and realized that she looked… desperate.

"They aren't… tampered with," she said softly.

"Obviously," I replied easily, taking a chocolate frog. I didn't even give it a chance to make one hop before I tore off its head.

Thankfully, the rest of my friends followed my lead and began to go through Violet's gifts. Said girl-slash-woman looked relieved at our acceptance of her offering, even as reluctant as it was. Part of me wondered if that was one of Violet's quirks, considering Lady Black almost literally begged me to accept the broom a few months ago.

"I hope you don't think that we've forgiven you," Zabini said.

"Yeah," Tracey mumbled around a mouthful of chocolate frogs. I could see Daphne staring at her, probably disturbed by her lack of manners. Go pinch her, Daphne.

"I know, I know," Violet replied, grinning slightly. "That's why I wanted to propose we all hang out together. Get to know each other better."

"That would be nice!" Luna replied. She beamed at me. "Ron?"

"Our schedules may be a bit different, Luna," I replied gently. "But we'll see, okay?"

"Okay!"

"Still, all of us?" Milly asked, raising an eyebrow. She looked a little silly asking that, considering she was popping a few beans in her mouth. "Does that include Granger?"

Violet hesitated before nodding. "Yes, even Hermione."

"You must be joking," Zabini replied, frowning.

"Hear me out, please," Violet begged. "I want us to get to know each other better. And Hermione doesn't really hate any of you." I coughed, and she amended with, "Well, most of you. I just hope that if we hang out more, we can slowly forget last term's… unpleasantness."

"Unpleasantness," Daphne scoffed. "Living with Lady Black has done you some good, apparently."

Violet winced, but didn't seem deterred. "I know a place where we can go in secret. It's on the seventh floor, just in front of the Barnabas the Barmy. It's big enough that we can do anything, like practise dueling." She turned to me. "Ron can even teach us the things he learned, considering he's the Junior Champion."

I was thankful Violet was looking at me because the rest of my friends went pale and started looked at each other. I didn't need Violet questioning the fact that they knew of the Room of Requirement. That way led to a lot of uncomfortable questions.

"So, what do you guys think?" she asked.

I looked at all my friends, and they were all staring at me. I turned to Daphne, and she gave me a shrug. "You're the one with Auror training, Ron. Why don't you decide on this?" she asked with a sniff.

"Auror training?" Violet asked.

Well, what a time for that to bite me back in the arse. I laughed. "Nothing, Daphne's being silly." I turned to Violet. "Remember, we're Slytherins. We trade."

She rolled her eyes. "So I've been told repeatedly. What do you guys want?"

"Granger is the top of her class," I proposed. "Would she be open to help us with homework and studying?"

Milly grunted. I noted her giving me a flat stare, but I ignored it, turning back to Violet. She looked to be contemplating the idea.

"She might be." Then, she shook her head. "No, she will be. I promise. Yeah, I like that idea." She grinned. "So does that mean you're going to accept?"

"Let's do a trial run first," I replied, smiling slightly. "Show us the room, and we'll see."

"Will do." She nodded eagerly. "It'll work out, I promise."

"Guys?" I asked, turning to the rest of them. Luna was just smiling, chewing on her candy wand cutely. Zabini had taken a neutral expression, while Milly still looked like she wanted to strangle me, strangely enough.

I turned to Daphne and Tracey, the former copying Zabini while the latter looked like she was actually considering it.

"Well, extra help would be nice," she declared, shrugging. "I could use a boost in my grades for Defense."

"Well, mostly because the last teacher sucked," Violet replied. "It's not going to happen this year. We have someone solid this time."

"Who?" I asked, my eyes narrowing. Seeing Violet's smug expression, I became rather suspicious of the identity of our mysterious Professor.

"It's a secret," she said with a wink. "You'll find out later." She looked at everyone else. "Thank you, all of you. It'll work out, I promise. Anyway, I have to get back to Hermione. See you guys at Hogwarts later!"

With a wave of her hand, she promptly took off, a happy smile on her face.

Well, that was an odd confrontation, but a bit of a boon as well. This was another step towards building that trust with both of them, while also giving me a buffer of protection considering all my friends were going to be present to watch my back just in case there was something devious going on in the background.

A win in my book. Of course, not everyone agreed. Zabini was finally sporting a frown, while Daphne growled beside me, bottle of pumpkin juice in hand. Milly, though, looked almost sad.

"Ron, is our arrangement going to end?" she asked with a frown, arms across her chest.

"No," I replied honestly. "You don't need to accept Granger's help, but I recommend it. She's the top of our year for a reason."

"I don't trust her."

"You don't have to, but it's nice to have more options, Milly." I turned to the others. "There's a reason why I wanted to do a trial run. If it doesn't work out, that's fine. We can go our separate ways, and—" I glanced at Luna "—we can still use that room Violet talked about. And if it does work out, we can move the Heiress of the Most Ancient and Most Noble House of Blacks to our side."

"All we have to do is ignore the fact that Granger will be there," Zabini interjected, raising an eyebrow. "The same Granger that tried to—" he, too, glanced at Luna "—expel you from Hogwarts."

Expel. I inwardly snorted. Worse than being killed, according to Hermione.

"Expel?" Luna asked, eyes wide.

"Granger doesn't like me very much," I explained to her, as gently as I could. "We're trying to fix that."

"Oh," was all she said again. "Is it okay to be… friends with Hermione?"

"If you like her, sure," I replied. "It's only a problem that concerns me, Luna. Not anyone else."

Daphne coughed, making me roll my eyes.

"Besides, we could learn a lot of new things," I continued. "For example, did you know that Friendship Contracts are incomplete Betrothal Contracts?"

I was given the beautiful sight of Daphne choking on her drink. I gently patted her back, making her look at me, eyes and mouth wide.

"Yes," Zabini declared, frowning, looking at her. "Was there a reason for you to look that up?"

"Well," I replied with an easy smile, "after Daphne went on about Blood Contracts last term, I decided to do a little research on the other magical compacts. It was very enlightening."

Daphne tried to speak, but she only succeeded in moving her mouth inaudibly. I just gave her a nod and before subtly patting her knee with my hand. She sheepishly looked away.

"Well, I just hope our Defense teacher is better," Tracey declared, sipping on her own bottle. "Wonder who it is?"


"—please welcome our newest member of our staff," Dumbledore declared during our Welcoming Feast. "Professor Black!"

Well, my suspicions were right. Lady Black stood up, dressed quite professionally, and nodded to all the Houses. There were people applauding from the other three tables, the loudest coming from Violet. Granger seemed a bit subdued, which was a little odd. I also spotted Luna, clapping, though definitely looking disappointed in being sorted into Ravenclaw.

The Slytherins had the strangest reaction. While those from the influential families clapped enthusiastically, some, my friends included, looked worried and nervous. It was Draco that caught my attention, though, as he looked almost reluctant. However, when he caught me looking, he glared at me before becoming more enthusiastic with his welcome.

I felt Daphne nudge my side. Turning to her, she gave me a look before motioning towards Lady Black. "So, set up?" she asked quietly.

I nodded. "Yup."

Daphne glanced towards the Gryffindor table, then towards her friends. "Should we be worried about an attack?"

I shook my head. "Her invitation and her godmother's appearance will make it a little too obvious if she's going to attempt something against us. No, I think it's something else."

"Like?"

"I'm not sure," I replied, frowning. Generally speaking, having three people on a team can get lots of things done. Was bringing Lady Black closer to her something offensive or defensive by nature? Was Violet planning something, or was this a response of my presence, my interference in her plans?

The only thing I could think of was the Diary. While I had it, Violet was under the assumption that the Diary was stolen by Harry James. Was she afraid that Harry James sold it to someone, or that he fell under the influence of the horcrux? I knew I would be in her place. With that line of thinking, I would assume that there was either a young Tom Riddle running free, or Voldemort finally had someone willing to aid him.

I sighed. Stealing that Diary was slowly turning out to be a very bad idea. I didn't need Violet on the defensive, especially over nothing. Fear clouded judgement and skewed perspectives, and with life apparently trying to bend me over, all my plans to win their trust could potentially blow up explosively.

In my face, most likely.

"Ron?" Daphne asked, taking me out of my thoughts. "Something wrong?"

Lots of things, Daphne. I just shook my head, however. I needed more information before I started assuming things.

I really hoped that this trial run with Violet and Granger would fare well. If not, things would get even more complicated than they currently were.