Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter

Decided on an early update. Enjoy.

Chapter 11: A Grim Welcome

The character whose morning we will be describing now was less than pleased when he woke up to find the curtains drawn and several bottles of liquor scattered around the floor. Fortunately for him, he was alone in the bed with no lingering trace of anyone else having ever occupied the other side of it. He preferred it that way, but who knew what kind of schemes he could have come up with when under the effect of the alcohol? It felt like a qualification of sorts, being able to chunk down several litres of liquor without losing his wits, but recalling almost nothing of the previous day he knew it must've been particularly bad this time.

Lazily, he threw the covers over his head as to block the light from the window, muttering a few vulgar, few incoherent words about the world being full of – what would've been under ordinary circumstances – defined as simply manure. The effects of the bourbon he had been drinking the night before – which was evident by the labels on the majority of the bottles on the floor – were practically ripping his head to shreds.

The man, if anyone could call him that as his age barely grazed the age of eighteen – although he most certainly looked a few years older – didn't think that mornings were anything to celebrate, on the contrary beliefs of most hopeless optimists he had encountered during his stay in muggle London. In fact, he absolutely loathed the mornings, more so than he loathed his boss. Or, perhaps a little less.

Speaking of which, the knocking on his window that happened only minutes later didn't go unnoticed by him as much as he wished to. A minute passed since it first happened, then two, and then five. When he decided that he had finally had enough of listening to it, he threw the covers off him, shuddering as the cold temperature reached him, and threw his feet on the edge of the filthy bed. When the knocking didn't stop, he growled at the window where the sight of a barn owl could be seen. "I'll be there, alright?" the man growled at the window, which effectively shut the bird up. For a little while.

He was about to stand up, hangover be damned, something didn't quite feel right. It wasn't a feeling he hadn't experienced before, but rather something he didn't expect to feel so early. It was still a few days until the full moon, and though erratic behaviour several days prior wasn't unusual, he didn't expect this of all things.

Looking down at himself, he could visibly spot several new bloodied marks covering his shoulder, the kind that was sure to leave behind scars. Like he didn't have enough of those already. "Damn it," he muttered, drawing his fingers across his exposed shoulder. The blood had dried over the course of the night, and he could spot the vague crimson marks on top of the mattress.

There came another set of tapping from the window glass outside, prompting him to finally get up. "I get it!" he called exasperatedly as he made his way over there, opening the window as to let the feathered miscreant inside. The barn owl landed on the window frame with yet another newspaper in its beak. Just as the man was about to reach for it, the creature pecked him sharply on the finger, forcing him to withdraw with a bloodied hand. The owl let out an aggressive hiss, as did the man the moment his attention returned to the vicious bird.

"Son of a bitch," he growled, caressing his injured hand. There across the palm was now a visible and quite nasty-looking cut, but comparing it to all the other ones he had from the start would be like comparing a papercut to a wound inflicted by a knife. He had suffered both of those ordeals on several separate occasions, but for some reason, the bird's infliction was more bothersome than the rest. He suddenly felt like buying some chicken to eat later on in the day and the prospect of eating it in front of the bird whilst it watched was gratifying to his conscience, or lack thereof.

Drying the blood off on his trousers, the man knew that he would get nowhere with the feathered fiend unless he paid the damn thing. He reached over to his coat that hung on the chair next to the bed and fiddled inside the pocket before he pulled out five bronze knuts along with a pack of cigarettes. The former was for the feathered piece of garbage, the latter was for himself. As soon as he placed the payment into the little pouch attached to its leg and snatched the Daily Prophet, waving his free – uninjured – hand at the owl. "Now, get out of here!" he said, and apparently more than happy to oblige, the owl jumped from the frame and flew away.

As always, there was nothing unusual written in the newspapers. With the exception of the mysteries that still surrounded the break-in incident at Gringotts bank which happened several months earlier, there was very little that caught the man's attention other than the article that claimed that all alcoholic beverages would be at half-price at The White Wyvern for everyone above the age of eighteen during Christmas Eve. Knockturn Alley was a place he hadn't been in months, but he didn't think negatively off it and made sure to keep it in mind. Without anything else worth noting, he threw the newspaper into the dustbin next to the long-extinguished fireplace in the corner of the room.

There suddenly came a knock on the door – or more specifically – several rows of banging. The man, already fully aware of whom it might be, didn't mind wasting any time doing anything else for several minutes, including putting on his shirt and coat, which he didn't even bother to button up. When several more minutes passed and the knocking didn't cease, he let out a sigh and finally answered the old oak-door, revealing his current neighbour standing there on the other side with quite the incredulous expression on his face. If he knew that it would be this bothersome to live in the Muggle world, he might as well have stayed put in the Leaky Cauldron.

"Mr Walker," he said lackadaisically, not even bothering to hide the fact that he was less than interested in conversing with the American neighbour. The feelings seemed mutual, however, as the other man outside the door didn't appear to be any less moody than himself, though he did a better job at revealing it.

"How many times has it been now?" Mr Walker, his neighbour, asked, apparently struggling to contain himself with what little composure he had left. Having travelled from his home in Massachusetts after another fit with his madwoman of a wife and attempted to settle down a while in London, the American expected to find himself a good time and, best of all, away from his wife and the problems that she accommodated. Unfortunately, the raggedy young man he discovered lived next door at the inn didn't seem to prioritize his holiday at all. Not that he expected much from a stranger, but he always imagined that British people being the polite ones in the world, next to the Canadians, at least.

He, however, was the exact opposite of what one might've called British, much less polite. Had it not been for his accent, Mr Walker would never have imagined that he was from the UK at all.

He shrugged, leaned against the doorframe with his arms crossed. "I've lost count, Mr Walker," he said through a yawn. "Maybe sixth or seventh."

"Fifteenth!" Mr Walker shouted, holding up what seemed to be a feather in front of him. "If you can't stop getting those fucking birds to tap on your window every morning like this, Grimsson, I'll have the owner throw you out at once, you hear me?"

The man – who we now know was Grimsson – didn't react in the desired way that Mr Walker had assumed he would. If anything, he felt more drained now than ever, and it wasn't because of the hangover this time. It was ironic that whilst the American muggle accused him of being the loud one, his own shouting would inevitably become the wake-up alarm to the majority of the guests at the inn. Yawning yet again – whether it was genuine or not, we won't know for certain – Grimsson didn't object to display his unnaturally sharp teeth as he did so. In the case of muggle dentists, they would have simply shrugged it off as an unusual case but nothing unheard of, but had they been wizards or witches, they would've instantly known the cause behind it.

Fortunately for Grimsson, Mr Walker was no said person. He was a muggle, or No-Maj as members of the MACUSA would call him, which meant that he was just as powerless, just as mundane, just as oblivious to what Grimsson could do to him if he wished to like so many other muggles were. Now, in person, Grimsson didn't harbour the same kind of disdain or hostility towards muggles like so many other people from his world did, but that didn't mean he made exceptions towards whom he found annoying and otherwise. Mr Walker was put on that list the moment he stepped into the inn several weeks ago and had remained there ever since.

"Look," Grimsson said as he finished yawning, noting the American man's perplexed expression upon noticing the unusual shape of his teeth. He grinned slightly at this reaction. "I can't help the way birds do their magic, alright? They do whatever they want to do when they want to do it, and if you think I or anyone else can just easily change that, then you're welcome to try it for yourself. I'll bring the chips."

"The what?"

He rolled his eyes. Americans. "The fries."

Mr Walker shook his head. "I don't care how you do it, just make those stupid birds go away, or better yet, keep quiet. They only stop around at your place, not any of the others. I've seen it with my own eyes!"

Grimsson held his arms up. "Like I said, I don't control their behaviour."

"Well, you must have done something, for Christ's sake! Do you put food out on your window so that they get tempted or something?"

"No," This was getting annoying, well beyond what he usually had to deal with on a daily. "Why don't you go back to that woman in your room and stop pestering me, alright, pal? I'll tell you now what I've told you fifteen times before: I can't control the birds. If they want to stop by, they do so. If not, then good for yo-"

"What did you just say?" Mr Walker face had suddenly turned almost completely white, almost equal to the tapestry in the corridor behind him. "About a woman in my room? What's that supposed to mean?" And in a matter of seconds, Mr Walker's face turned almost completely purple. The face of someone guilty of a serious crime, at least from the perspective of someone who had entered a serious relationship and were just now figuring out that their significant other was but a fraud.

Grimsson smirked at this and took a deep breath through his nose, noticing the different scent on the man. On the morning on the previous day, Mr Walker smelled like cigarettes and smoke, not to mention wine as well. He was a man of privileged tastes, Grimsson didn't doubt it when judging by his preference of fancy attire. However, now, he smelled of perfume and something he would rather not designate. Even from a mile away, Grimsson could easily catch that scent, not that he had a habit of doing so. Pissing people off, however, was something he regarded as a special talent of his. It sure came to use when he was in need of entertainment.

"Let me make a guess, then, Mr Walker," he said as he pulled out the pack of cigarettes and a lighter from his pocket, pulling it up to his mouth and lightning it. Putting the lighter and pack neatly back again, he took a deep breath and proceeded to release an air of smoke into the American muggle's face, causing the man to let out numerous coughs and hold his face. Holding it up to his face, Grimsson didn't break the eye-contact with the muggle as he said completely calmly, "You didn't waste time getting laid yesterday, did you?"

Mr Walker's face turned completely white again. "H-How…. What the fuck do you think you're talking about?" The man took a step forward as if to initiate a fight, but suddenly decided against it and with good reasons too. Even though he used to be fond of soccer during his youth, Mr Walker was far from as athletic as he wished. Had it not been for his money, he would not have gotten very far in his life. Second-glancing at the British man, he had second thoughts about making his disdain for him official. Grimsson was tall, standing well half a head taller than himself, and wasn't the kind of person you wished to pick a fight against unless you were planning suicide.

Grimsson didn't move, but the smile had vanished completely and been replaced with a nonchalant expression. He took another deep breath and let out the smoke into his neighbour's face, and that was all that was required. Mr Walker abruptly turned around and walked away, but not before casting him a fearful glance as he disappeared down the corridor to his own room. Grimsson took this as his cue and returned to his own room, shutting the door behind him.

"Fucking moron," he muttered and reached for the unfinished bottle of bourbon standing on his nightstand, but as he was about to grab a hold of it, another set of tapping had him pause with his hand outreached mid-air. He snapped his head to the window, yellow eyes eyeing the filthy glass, and spotted a recognizable Screech owl standing there, one that he hadn't seen in weeks. It didn't take him long to make it over to there, and once he spotted the letter in its beak, he understood right away who it was. The need for alcohol ceased to exist and he put the cigarette down on top of the window frame.

He let out a sigh and drew a hand over his face, understanding fully well who it was from and what it would say to open it and answer. After a minute or so of deliberate prolonging, he snatched the letter away from the hideous-looking bird and turned the letter around. "What does that bastard want now, then?" he rumbled. There was nothing written outside the letter, but the scent of soil and smoke lingered strongly on the parchment and he proceeded to rip it open. The note inside was written crudely and with little consideration towards the paper's duration, but the words were clear as the daylight outside.

As soon as he finished reading it, he clutched it in his grip, causing the paper to get crunched. His fingernails punctured several holes into the parchment as well, but he could care less about it. All he knew now, however, was that he needed to return. If he didn't…... Things wouldn't get much easier for him or anyone else. Knowing that said bastard knew his location only confirmed that. He threw the note away and reached for the bourbon bottle on top of his nightstand. As he clenched his fingers around it, before he could drink from it, it smashed to pieces in his grip.

Because – initially unbeknownst to us – what was written on that piece of parchment that Grimsson made sure to thoroughly dispose of later on, were words that would've made most people bemused if they had read it themselves without any prior knowledge towards the situation. To Grimsson, however, they were a warning he would do well to abide by if he wished to remain in one piece for a little while longer.

It's soon time, boy. If you know what's good for you, you will return. If not, well, those marks you have now will be nothing more than pretty papercuts in comparison to what will happen to you if I notice your absence. – F.G

"Fucking hell," he mumbled and pulled out the few pieces of glass stuck to his skin and glanced at the sky from the window. Throughout the day, he didn't do much but to think about how the situation would unfold once he returned. The night soon arrived, casting London in almost complete darkness.

He looked out of the window for the fifteenth time that night. Seeing it as it was late in the evening, he could easily spot the moon there, its shape being almost complete.

"I just simply love Christmas!" Parkinson threw her arms out and landed flat out on top of her bed, her half-finished suitcase sitting close by her bed. There was still a lot of packing to be done, and with less than three hours left until they had to board the Express, the other girls in the dormitory didn't exactly share the same carefree attitude with her as they were all occupied with packing down the necessary things they would need for the holidays. However, with Christmas only a few days away, it was inevitable for the other girls not to share their enthusiasm.

With Diana Greengrass' half-breed creature watching her sharply from the top of her beloved master's bed, Ophidia found it hard not to cast some kind of jinx over at it as to ensure its silence. But now that she was under complete supervision, in a way, it would be unwise to risk it. The last couple of weeks, the wretched creature didn't cease to watch her, but that didn't mean Ophidia couldn't act casual about it. As long as the owner remained in the dark and everything went according to plan, she didn't have to worry.

She, however, wasn't feeling particularly positive about her own condition over the holidays. Though she had been fortunate enough not to get any worse since when the symptoms first hit her, she was still far from recovering completely. Occasional coughs and sneezes were the majority of her condition, and though it was endurable, it was still painful and most of all, annoying.

"Is there anything you want for Christmas, Pansy?" Ophidia asked the Parkinson girl, pretending to be interested in the subject regarding the silly holiday in which children would bask in whatever gifts their parents or guardians would distribute them with. Of course, the Cascabel girl didn't harbour any affinity for the holidays like most people, especially children, did, primarily because she didn't do much else apart from what she usually did; study, read, and most important of all, continue to work.

She couldn't afford to be bothered with presents, or pudding, or whatever else the Malfoys would throw at their son and her for the sake of satisfying them. When she was younger, she did tend to look forward to the holidays, but as the years passed, the season itself turned dull due to the repeated pattern. Eventually, she made due with Tom's lectures instead. They were much more beneficial in comparison.

"My grandparents always send me boring stuff," Parkinson whined. "Only books and that sort of things. In all honesty, I don't really know if I want anything,"

That…. actually sounded quite decent coming from Parkinson, even Ophidia was incapable of concealing her surprise.

"But I really want something from Draco!"

And there it went.

"Ophidia, can't you ask him to buy me something? No! Ask him if he wants to buy me something!" The Parkinson girl sat straight up on top of the bed, eyeing Ophidia with eyes twice the size of what they usually were.

Having just finished packing her clothes into her suitcase, Ophidia smiled at the Parkinson girl, laughing benevolently. "Why don't you ask him yourself, Pansy? If there's one thing to know about Draco, it's that he doesn't find any interest in things that's not directly related to him. If you ask me to relay the message, he won't bother. You need to ask him yourself."

Parkinson frowned and seemed to turn white at the thought. "But what if he says no?"

"That answer won't change even if I ask him myself," Ophidia said, reaching over to the books on her desk. While she would let her schoolbooks remain in the castle, she decided that it would be wise to take the rest home. If she continued reading, then she probably would figure out a way to make the pelt work, and if she was lucky, about Nicolas Flamel as well. She turned to glance at Diana Greengrass in the corner of her eye with the said girl standing with her back turned to her and knew nothing of what was about to come. It was better that way, even if the half-breed stood in her way. The months she had spent making sure to learn as much as possible about Transfiguration in particular wouldn't go to waste.

As she reached over to grasp her potion's book, a note fell out of it and landed on the floor. She reached for it and read the same words she had read only months earlier. "Don't do anything you will regret". Ophidia had nearly forgotten about it and was still no inch closer to figuring out who had written it. Though it would make sense that either Herrington or Ledwell had been the ones to write it, it didn't sit. They hadn't met her when she received it and they were both still in the Hospital Wing being cured from the nasty adder bites that they had succumb to. According to Madam Pomfrey, when they woke up, they had no idea of what had happened, and in doing so, admitted themselves that they had placed the snakes outside of the Slytherin common room. At least they had been dealt with.

"Mistress," Ouroboros was coiled up on top of her bed. "What shall I do once you're gone?"

"Keep an eye around the castle, as well as the beast," she ordered, making sure to keep quiet as not to warrant the attention of the other girls as she put the note into the pocket of her robe. "If you find anything interesting, you will report it to me once I return."

He let out a hiss of displeasure.

She didn't let it go unnoticed. "You know," she said quietly and reached for him, holding him up to her face. "If you cease to be of use to me, I might just throw you out into the snow and let you freeze to death, or better yet, leave you alone in the owlery and see what remains of you once the owls are finished." Inflicting fear into someone was always an effective way of ensuring their obedience, she knew that better than most. For some reason, she found it hard to lie in front of snakes, like she stood akin with them. In some way, she supposed she was.

As soon as she said this, Ouroboros let out a sly hiss. "You might try, mistress, but we both know that I am still of use to you. Discarding me now would be, in your words, a nuisance."

"Perhaps," she said, dropping him carelessly on top of the bed. "But until then, consider this your warning. Do anything less than what I tell you to do and we'll see just how useful you are after the owls have finished their deed. I suppose we'll see."

"Suppose so," was the last thing the adder said before he turned and slithered away, vanishing from sight. Afterwards, Ophidia finished her packing and made sure to keep everything tidy. After that, the girls departed from their dormitory, bid farewell to their housemates, promised to send presents and whatnot, and finally departed from the castle to the express.

Once inside the compartment, Ophidia leaned against her seat and tried not to think about all the complications that would follow her if the pelt proved itself to have lasting consequences upon the metamorphmagus. In said case, however, the Malfoy family stood superior to the Greengrass family and could easily win against them with little effort if a feud ended up as the result. Though she would prefer it if the girl remained unscathed, Ophidia was well aware that what could go wrong most likely would, and if that happened, she would just have to do what she always did: pretend.

The words "Don't do anything you will regret" continued to echo in her head. What would she regret doing? In any case, was there anyone who knew of her true intentions? So far, she had blatantly tricked everyone and could easily make them lick her shoes if she asked them to. One of the few valuable attributes she had inherited from her mother would be her appearance. Without it, her situation would've been much more difficult. Now, it felt like she was being served everything with a teaspoon, and she couldn't have put it in better words.

The question still remained, though. Who had written that note?

"Anything of the trolley, dears?" asked the trolley lady as she stopped by their compartment. Feeling quite the sweet tooth for something sugary at the moment, Ophidia didn't waste time, neither did the other girls as well. Whereas the other girls were more reserved about eating too much sweets – the exception being Bulstrode, whose arms were by now packed with several things at once – as for herself, Ophidia settled with almost the same amount of Jelly Slugs, Chocolate frogs, Fudge Flies and the likes. She could tell that the other girls eyed her somewhat oddly but she paid it no mind.

Speaking of eyes, if Tom had any, he would've rolled his once again. "How on earth can you manage to consume that amount of sweets without feeling sick?"

Though she was against childish things, the one thing Ophidia couldn't resist was sweets. She made sure to regulate her intake as not to overdo it, but certain exceptions were allowed to be made. The girls said nothing of it and conversed like usual, making sure to cover every possible subject. It was tedious in the end, but an amusing way to make the time go faster. Finally, Ophidia turned to Diana Greengrass and smiled. "I hope I'll see you soon at the manor, alright? I can't wait to learn how to bake."

It was all blatant lies, of course. Baking wasn't a qualification she valued, much less considered useful at all, but as long as it meant that the Greengrass girl would come over. After all, they had established what most people would consider a close bond over the months, and being the silly girl, Diana Greengrass wouldn't say no to come over to see a friend.

The half-kneazle on top of her owner's knees, however, said otherwise. The hiss didn't go unnoticed by either of the girls. "Hush, Arty," said the owner and stroke the creature soothingly over the fur, effectively calming it. She proceeded to look up at Ophidia again. "Of course, I can't wait either. Anything in particular you wish to make?"

Ophidia said the first thing that came to mind. "I really want to try making Toffee Cream Tarts and Yorkshire Pudding. They are so delicious." She could feel her cheeks hurting from all the smiling.

"That sounds good," the Greengrass girl said with a nod. "Alright, then it's settled."

They arrived at Platform nine and three-quarters a few hours later. The snow was dazzling down from the skies but, having already changed into her regular clothes, coat, and scar, Ophidia didn't fret for the cold like she usually would. With her luggage rolling behind her, she stepped out of the express with the other girls and waited for Draco to exit as well. As soon as he arrived with Crabbe and Goyle behind him, she walked towards him and joined him on their search for Mr and Mrs Malfoy somewhere in the crowd.

"Are you excited?" he asked her, looking more like the child he was supposed to be for his age rather than the arrogant pureblood people assumed him to be, which was true to a degree, but still nevertheless a childish exaggeration. He was a child, he was allowed to live like he wanted to, to which the opposite could be said for her.

Ophidia nodded. "Very. Can you see your parents here somewhere?"

He looked around, but none of them noticed any noticeable blondes standing out in the crowd. "No," he said and shook his head. "I can't see them from here."

"Draco! Ophidia!" A voice suddenly called. They both turned around to see Mrs Malfoy standing there, gracious as ever, though without the companionship of her husband. Mr Malfoy was nowhere in sight. Draco quickly abandoned his luggage and dove right into his mother, embracing her intimately. His mother was quick to return the embrace, tears were visibly running down her cheeks at the sensation of holding her little boy in her arms after so long.

Ophidia watched the scene with little interest as she held onto Draco's luggage for him. A mother and her child, finally reunited after having been apart for so long. The sensation wasn't one she was familiar with, hence why she wasn't moved in the slightest. Had it been different circumstances, and had her worthless parents still been alive, perhaps there would have been a different outcome. All she knew now, as she watched her cousin affectionately being hugged by his mother, was that any moment she wasted on something akin to genuine affection was a moment wasted.

She looked to the side in an attempt to find her fellow Slytherins, but some of them were either already gone or had found their own family as well. Parkinson and dived into her mother's embrace very similarly to the way Draco had. Mrs Parkinson was a thin and frail-looking woman with bags under her eyes for some reason whereas Mr Parkinson, albeit thicker, didn't stand much superior in comparison to his wife.

Daphne Greengrass and Diana Greengrass stood there together, having found their families as well by the looks of it. Ophidia recognized young Astoria Greengrass standing there, holding their mother by the hand, while the father had a comforting hand on top of his oldest daughter's shoulder. A little bit to the left, however, she noticed Diana Greengrass standing next to a woman who looked very much alike her, with navy-blue eyes and hair that was kept up in a bun. She smiled down at Diana Greengrass as they embraced. Next to Daphne Greengrass' father stood another man, one with similar physical attributes, though with distinctively sharper features and colder eyes. He didn't seem like the kind of parent who hugged his children as a habit, much less out of his own free will.

"Hey, there's Ophidia!" Astoria Greengrass suddenly called, causing the rest of the Greengrass family to turn around and look at her. Ophidia suddenly felt the urge to walk away but did instinctively the exact opposite and walked towards them, smile stretched to a painful angle. It had been some time since she last saw the Greengrass family, at least on Daphne and Astoria Greengrass' side, but it was the first time she had seen Diana Greengrass' family. According to her, their fathers were brothers, and the evidences were right there on their faces. They could have easily been mistaken for twins.

"It's nice to see you again, dear Ophidia," said Daphne Greengrass' mother, Thalia Greengrass, welcomingly.

"A pleasure to see you again, Mrs Greengrass," Ophidia replied, courteously as ever.

Diana Greengrass' father, or the person she assumed was her father, turned to her with the same cynical look in his eyes that she first saw him with. "You must be the person Diana's told us so much about," he stretched out a hand to her, though there was no sight of any welcome in his features. "My name is Cepheus Greengrass."

"A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr Greengrass," Ophidia took his hand and shook it. Then, Diana Greengrass' mother proceeded to do the same thing, albeit with a kinder aura accompanying her as she stretched her hand out.

"And my name is Amalthea. Nice to meet you, Ophidia."

Ophidia took her hand as well and shook it. "Nice to meet you as well, Mrs Greengrass."

"Please, call me Thea." The woman said softly. So, this was where the metamorphmagus had her benevolent side from? It made sense, to some degree.

"I'll be going over to the Malfoys during the holidays," Diana Greengrass told her parents. "If that's alright with you, mother, father?"

Amalthea Greengrass smiled almost mournfully down at her daughter. "Of course, it's alright with us, sweetheart."

"But remember, Diana," said her father sternly, causing his wife's expression to turn even sadder for some reason. "Don't do anything unordinary while you are there."

"I- I won't!" she said hastily, but then her eyes fell to the ground. "Besides, she already knows," she whispered the last part as if she didn't wish for her father to hear it, but unfortunately, he did, and his reaction didn't end up being positive. If anything, it was exaggerated.

"She knows?" he all but shouted, grabbing a hold of his daughter's shoulders. "Are you absolutely imbecilic, Diana? What were you thinking? How does she know?" Her father all but demanded from his young daughter, who now seemed more or less terrified and on the verge of crying. Her cousins and uncle and aunt witnessed the situation, but didn't do anything to prevent it. Ophidia felt a little awkward standing there too, but it granted her a little bit of knowledge.

"S-She saw me in Diagon Alley during the summer," she whispered, successfully managing to stay as composed as possible despite the situation. "I didn't mean to…."

"I don't care! How many times have I told you! Stop doing that! How do you think people will react if they figure it out? Now that one of the Malfoys know of it, imagine the consequences!" The way a father spoke like that to his child was but exasperating to say the least. She knew that Mr Malfoy would never dare to speak like that to his son, and even if he did, Mrs Malfoy would never allow that to happen. In just the span of those few minutes, she was easily able to deduce what kind of people the Greengrass family on Diana Greengrass' side were like: Weak and pathetic.

Where had she heard that from?

"That's enough, Cepheus!" Amalthea shouted, and though her husband quit shouting, he didn't let go of his daughter's shoulders. It wasn't until his wife personally reached over and reached for her daughter that he finally let go. Perhaps not so weak after all.

Ophidia decided that it was time to interfere and try to ease the situation. "Mr Greengrass, please refrain from doing such a vile thing in public. It's humiliating to say the least."

The father snapped his head from his daughter and then to her, as if daring her to get involved. Ophidia didn't fret and she didn't allow any sort of fear to conquer her stance. Not that she could either way. "It's true. I'm quite aware of what Diana is able to do, but rest assured, I haven't told the Malfoys or anyone else for that matter and I don't intend on doing it either." She wasn't lying when she told them that, but her reasons for interfering was less altruistic than what it appeared to be. If she stood up to her dearest 'friend', then her trust in her would increase. Truth be told, she didn't care about how Cepheus Greengrass treated his daughter, nor would she get involved unless she saw use of such humane acts.

It was all about the situations and the circumstances.

At first, her father seemed torn between disapproval and outrageousness, but then he slowly returned to his superior stance, looking as if he had never been in a state of ludicrousness to begin with. The mother's shoulders lowered as she let out a sigh of relief and Diana Greengrass too seemed like she had just been pulled out of the water. "W-Well, then," said the father. "I suppose it's time for us to leave, wouldn't you agree, Nilus?" He turned to his brother for approval, to which the latter Greengrass husband nodded.

"Most certainly. It's quite late and I suspect that the children are tired." On cue, Daphne and Astoria Greengrass nodded to their parents and soon enough, all of them were gone, but not before Diana Greengrass sent a smile in Ophidia's general direction. A promise, of sorts, that the favour would one day be repaid. Content with this, Ophidia turned around and found Draco and Mrs Malfoy standing there, waiting patiently for her to accompany them on the way back to the mansion.

Once inside her room, the first thing Ophidia noticed was how cold it was inside. Granted, she had specifically told the Malfoys to stay clear of there at all cost and had only allowed Dobby entrance, which was evident as it was spot on clean inside. After packing out everything she had with her, she didn't waste time. She placed the map and list on top of her desk and sat down next to it, eyeing it sharply. From the corner of her eye, she could see the fox pelt on top of her wardrobe door, hanging there almost majestically.

There was still work to be done before she called it a day. Ophidia leaned back into her seat and glanced out of the window. Seeing it as it was late in the evening, she could easily spot the moon hanging there, its shape being almost complete.

Her room felt colder than ever before as she returned home. Over the course of the months, Diana had grown accustomed to Hogwarts' dormitories even though she had the misfortune of sharing it with someone like Parkinson, but she supposed that beggars could not be choosers.

But now that she had returned to her original home, only then did she discover how unbearably cold it felt. Ever since the incident at the station, her father hadn't as much as glanced his daughter's way. Her mother, on the other hand, was enthusiastic about listening to what her daughter had gone through at school. Diana, being all too eager to share her experiences, deliberately left out the diffindo incident with Parkinson. As much as it would please her to watch the Parkinson girl face retribution, she wasn't cruel enough to be the executioner.

After packing everything out in her room, Diana let out a sigh and sat down on her bead. Artemis curled up on top of her lap, nuzzling her owner affectionately. Despite this, the room still felt as cold as ever, and the Greengrass girl could only hope that her grandfather would arrive soon. She missed him terribly and couldn't wait to tell him the same things she had told her mother, perhaps not even excluding the diffindo curse from him.

Suddenly, there came a sudden ploff and Storm, her family's house elf, appeared out of nowhere with a tray of tea and biscuits in hir hands. "Storm is happy to see missus Diana again," he said kindly, holding the tray up to her. "Storm thought that missus Diana would like something to eat. The missus must be hungry."

"How many times have I told you to just call me Diana, Storm?" The Greengrass girl said with a soft smile. Usually, she didn't condone eating sweets in the late evening, but exceptions were allowed to be made. She thanked the house elf for the tray and put it gently down beside her. "How have you been, Storm? I trust father hasn't been too strict with you?"

Cepheus Greengrass was far from as abusive to his house elves as most masters could be, but Diana wasn't unaware of how coldly he could be towards them if they didn't exceed his expectations. He never took it as far as to physically punish them or force them to do it themselves, but his words seemed as sharp as knives on few occasions. She knew that as well as the house elf.

"Master Greengrass hasn't been cruel to Storm, no, no, no," the house elf said whilst shaking his head repeatedly.

"I know that," said Diana. "He's not, but he can be mean sometimes."

"Storm is fine, missus. Missus Diana is so kind for caring for Storm's well-being," the house elf said, eyes threatening to shed tears by the look of things. Diana took the house elf's hand and smiled.

"Storm is a very nice house elf and a very good friend," she said. "And if my father or anyone for that matter ever hurt you, you tell me, alright?"

That was all it took before the house-elf started to cry until several teardrops fell to the floor. "M-Missus Diana is so c-considerate. S-S-Storm l-loves D-Diana very much."

Sighing softly, Diana handed a handkerchief to the house elf and stopped the crying. After telling the house elf about how the months at the school had been whilst eating biscuits and drinking tea with him, Diana grew tired and bid himgood night, to which the house elf bid good night as well and disapparated out of the room.

"Well, Artemis," she said and scratched her feline friend behind the ear. "Things look bright after all." Artemis let out a meow and settled down on her bed just as Diana changed into her nightwear. She looked out the window where could easily spot the moon, its shape being almost complete.