Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, Hogwarts, Gringotts, the Leaky Cauldron or anything else in JKR's wonderful world. Except for the little pebble just to left of the front doors of Hogwarts. I put that there. I might own that. Maybe. But probably not.

To Touch the Stars

She sat at one of the more secluded tables in the library trying to concentrate on the Charms essay in front of her and not about the encounter she'd just suffered through as she'd left the Great Hall after dinner. It was hard however and she closed her eyes for a moment and meditated briefly to tighten her occlumency shields. It helped only marginally.


It's only a word, she thought as she pulled a reference book to her, a word can't hurt me, ignoring completely the very pain the word had caused her. Let them say what they want; I don't have to pay any attention to them.


It was easier to ignore that one. She knew it wasn't true, knew her bloodlines ten generations back. She found the reference she was looking for and tried to think how to reword it to show how she wanted to get her point across. It helped push aside the other thoughts for a few blessed moments.

Lower than a mudblood!

She'd rolled her eyes at Parkinson over that one: blood status had absolutely no interest for her. As far as she was concerned it was personality, not blood, which determined what she thought of people. She wrote her thoughts of her school work down on the parchment in a neat script.

Who shagged the giant, freak, your mother or your father?

Nott's snarled question had almost done her in. Insulting her was one thing, insulting her parents had caused a red haze to cloud her vision as anger almost made her forget just how outnumbered she was there in that hallway. Her best friend Tracy Davis had volunteered to help Professor Sprout in the green houses tonight and had left after finishing her dinner leaving her to her own devices. Seeing that, Draco Malfoy had gathered his group and departed as well, only to set his little ambush. She'd restrained her impulse to pull her wand and start hexing but just barely and the taunting laughter as she'd pushed her way through their line still rang in her ears.


Her vision blurred and her eyes stung from the unwanted tears as the word cut deep. It was hard to deny the pain it caused, especially when somebody else saying it only reinforced her own belief in it.

In a society where most men rarely reached six feet tall, a woman standing almost seven feet tall stood out, especially if the young woman in question was only a couple of months shy of her seventeenth birthday.

She had always been tall for her age and had stood 5 feet tall on her arrival at Hogwarts when she was 11. She had averaged a two inch a year growth rate for the next five years which left her taller than most of the children in her year group but still managing to blend in with the older population of the school.

Her problem had begun in April of her fifth year when she had started to experience a growth spurt. She'd grown an additional three inches in the last three months of that term and hadn't stopped all summer long. It had been a terrible time of aches and pains as muscles and sinews were stretched trying to keep up with the lengthening growth of her bones. As well, all of that growth had left her famished all the time as her growing body required the materials it needed to grow. Her father had teased her about eating like a horse all the time but even so upon her arrival at Hogwarts she had considered herself almost skeletally thin. But thankfully the growth spurt appeared to be over as she had only grown slightly less than an inch in the following two months and her new eating habits had put some meat back on her bones.

But her days of blending in were over. She now looked down on the males and towered over the females of the school and having to duck to get through most of the classroom doors in the castle only emphasized her height. In a repressed society such as the magical world where tolerance or trust of anything different was not really considered necessary and the products of interspecies breeding such as half giants and half goblins, or even veela, were actively looked down upon, she had become a target of the viler aspects of that society.

Most of what few friends she had had drifted away, either because of the discomfort they felt at being around her or because of the need to stop being targets of those who would disparage her. Only Tracy had stuck by her side and she had a few choice words for those who had failed to do so.

A pile of books dropping onto the table beside her broke into her reverie. "Anybody sitting here Greengrass?" A voice asked.

She most definitely did not want to be disturbed at this time and turned to tell the interloper that very thing when she saw who it was and froze.

Harry Potter. The Golden boy himself had sat down beside her as if the Slytherin and Gryffindor feud had never existed.

"What are you doing here Potter?" She snarled.

He glanced at her parchment. "Probably the same charms essay as you." He replied casually and totally disregarding her hostility. "Hermione says if I don't have it done by Saturday she's not going to let me go on the Hogsmeade weekend. I know for an absolute fact that she's being perfectly truthful and can enforce that declaration with a truly impressive repertoire of spells. So here I am."

"There are other tables where you can sit Potter and stop being so loud." She stated angrily. "I don't want Madam Pince tossing me out because of your noise."

He waved a finger around them. "Silencing charms and notice-me-nots. I could set off a cannon blast right now and she wouldn't hear it, nobody will see us and you are not sitting at any of the other tables."

That brought her up short. He had sought her out? Why? "What are you up to Potter?" She asked warily.

"You mean other than trying to think of a way to get into your knickers?" He answered cheekily with a large grin. "I just wanted to stop by and tell you you're not."

She stared at him in righteous indignation. How dare he? To actually admit it? To her face? Just what kind of girl did he think ... "Not what?" She leaned back in shocked surprise: that had not been what she had planned on saying.

Having noticed her expression he grinned some more. "A freak."

She straightened in her chair, all expression vanishing, staring down at him as her Ice Queen persona slammed down like a mask. "I don't know what you're talking about."

The grin turned into a sad little smile. "You know exactly what I'm talking about. I saw your little encounter with Malfoy and the rest of his brain dead little entourage outside the great Hall and I heard every single word that was said. And I'll say it again: you are not a freak."

She had to tighten her occlumency shields to prevent any sign of the embarrassment she felt that anyone had seen what had happened. "I suppose you know all about that sort of thing don't you?" She said tightly, sarcasm fairly dripping from her words.

He pulled a sharp knife out of his book bag and picked up his quill. "Well, if you consider the fact that for the first five years of my life after my parents were killed I thought that was my name, yeah, you could say I know something about it." He cut a new nib on the end of his quill as he spoke, not even looking at her. "Oh, let's not forget that parselmouth thing in second year either. I got called quite a few things over that little incident. Or cheater in fourth year." He glanced over at her before returning his attention to the quill nib. "Remember the Goblet?"

She was gob smacked at his declaration and evidently her face showed it. He finally looked up at her and smiled. "That's better. You look much prettier when you don't have that Ice Queen face on."

"You actually thought your name was 'freak'?" The disbelief in her voice was very noticeable.

He shrugged. "I lived with muggle relatives who absolutely hated magic." He explained. "Since they hated magic they hated me. He tried to beat the freakishness out of me every chance he got and she once laid me out with a frying pan to the back of the head." He looked at her with a totally serious look. "I don't like talking about my home life so I would appreciate if you didn't pass any of that around. The only other person who knows any of that is Hermione and she spent an awful long time digging those facts out of me."

She slumped back into her chair, not quite believing what she was hearing. "Then why tell me?"

"Because I want you to know where I'm coming from when I tell you that you absolutely are not a freak." He spoke earnestly as he looked at her. "You're a beautiful young woman who is a bit taller than everyone else, that's all."

She snorted with suppressed laughter at the droll way he had made that declaration. "A bit taller? That's like saying Professor Flitwick is a bit shorter than everyone else."

"Let me tell you a secret." He said as he leaned in towards her. She mirrored his move until their faces were an inch apart. "Everyone is the same height when they're lying down." He whispered.

She snapped back upright in her seat, gob smacked that he had done it again! "You're serious aren't you?"

"About what?" He asked, feigning innocence.

"About wanting to get into my knickers." She stated indignantly.

"Of course I'm serious." He laughed, grinning mischievously back at her. "I'm a 16-year-old boy with a raging case of hormones and you're a beautiful teenage girl who I've been fascinated with for several years and since the beginning of this year interested in and fascinated with."

Her left eyebrow rose in surprise. "Fascinated with? Me? Why?"

"I've always liked taller girls, I like long hair and you have to admit yours is long and a beautiful shade of silver blonde and I've always wanted to run my fingers through it." He stated. "I've always wondered what it would be like for you to be sitting on a chair as I stood behind you and combed it out for you."

That startled her. "You want to comb my hair?" She asked in surprise, her hand unconsciously going up to push her hair behind her ear.

His response was to smile gently. "There are a lot of things I'd like to do for you… and with you… and to you." He said quietly.

She could feel the heat rising in her face as she blushed. She'd had similar things said to her before, but never in such a calm, quiet, intimate way as that. Those times had seen the speakers hexed in ways they hadn't enjoyed. Despite her earlier indignation, this time it made her feel different in ways she had never felt before.

"You also have great legs, long and slender and despite your height you walk with such grace I sometimes imagine you're a high elf with your ears glamoured to look small and human." He returned the knife to his bag. "You're just graceful and elegant overall, no matter what you're doing. I could watch you moving for hours."

She smirked. "Boring way to spend a day."

He shook his head. "Not for me." He answered. "Like I said, you are a beautiful young woman, your lines and proportions are perfect and you move so fluidly and gracefully it's like watching water in a stream. You flow. You're just soothing to watch."

"I'm beginning to feel like a ballet dancer for your entertainment Potter." she stated wryly. "What are lines and proportions?"

"Proportions are just the ratio between your body parts: are they to long, to short, to little as compared to everything else. You know that fifth year 'Claw, McHenry?"

She thought for a moment before nodding. "Yeah, he looks like his legs stopped growing when he was twelve while everything else kept right on going."

He nodded acknowledgement. "Yeah, he does, but it's not that his legs are too short, it's that his waist is too long. Take a few inches out of the middle and his body will look much better proportioned. That's why I say your proportions are perfect: look at you in a picture with nothing close by for context and you don't look unusually tall at all."

Her eyes narrowed. "That sounds suspiciously like you've seen that very thing." She stated coolly. Why would he be taking her picture?

He shrugged. "Colin Creevey takes everyone's picture. I think he's got a couple of hundred of me. He's got a dozen or so of you but you were just a subject to shoot for one reason or another and there are others he has a lot more of."

Mollified, she leaned back in her chair. "That still doesn't explain what 'lines' are."

Harry chuckled. "Those are just the lines your body has, such as from your ankle up your leg to your waist, or from your hip to your throat. When I say they're perfect I mean they have no bumps or ridges, no crevices to mar the smooth flow of the line, such as a too tight belt that makes a bulge or overly large boobs or bum." He made a smooth, sinuous motion with his hand as an illustration.

"You're really hung up on grace and elegance and flow, aren't you Potter?"

He smiled lazily at her as he leaned back in his chair. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and each of us has our own criterion for what that is."

"So you like tall, skinny, long haired blondes with no boobs but good lines." Her wry smile matched the sarcasm.

The look he gave her this time was a reproving one. "You have breasts, Daphne, and quite nice ones that go very well with your body shape."

"How would you know that?" she asked suspiciously. After all, school uniforms and robes didn't lend themselves to revealing what was under them very well.

"Last Hogsmeade weekend you wore jeans and a very nice form fitting T-shirt." He smirked at her blush as she remembered what she had worn that day. "You also wore flats but I would dearly love to see you in high heels. And you are not skinny: you are slender. Elfin, remember?"

"So you're all about the looks." She stated.

He shrugged. "If you're going to fantasize about someone, especially someone you hardly know it might as well be about someone you think is pretty but looks aren't even at the top of the list. That would be intelligence and personality, in that order…maybe."

She chuckled. "Maybe?" she questioned.

"Okay," he sighed, "Pansy is good looking and intelligent but the troll in first year had a better personality and it comes back to that old joke of 'what's the difference between her and a crocodile?'"

"I've never heard that one."

"If I got drunk enough I might try to shag the crocodile." He explained deadpan.

She had to clap her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud at the unexpected joke as he sat there grinning at her. When she could finally control herself she asked, "So how do you know if I'm smart with the proper personality?"

"I know you're smart because Hermione says you're second behind her in Runes and Arithmancy, two very tough subjects, and I did train you and Davis in DADA last year. You consistently get good grades in Potions, though with Snape that could be favoritism…"

"It's not." She interjected.

He nodded. "…and as far as I can tell you're the only other one besides Hermione who stays awake in Binns' class." He suddenly looked thoughtful, or confused, it was hard to tell. "Or is that proof you're not? It's hard to tell and I know she is so who knows?" He looked at her and gave her a smile. "As I said earlier I find when the Ice Queen isn't around you're a very nice person."

She smiled back at him, pleased at what he was saying…and that brought her back to what she'd been thinking earlier. "Fat lot of good that does a social outcast." She proclaimed as she slumped in her seat.

She heard him sigh heavily in frustration. "Daphne, you are not a social outcast."

"Potter," she started to explain, "I'm almost seven feet tall! I stand out! People who stand out like that in the Magical world are ostracized, ridiculed, looked down upon. Look at Hagrid. People make fun of him because of his size and ancestry; they insult him because of it. Or Delacour in the Tournament. She was so beautiful it hurt but half the people who saw her called her 'creature'; and not just the jealous female half either. You can't know what it's like to be so different."

He scowled at her as he leaned forward and brushed his hair back from his forehead. "Did you forget about this Greengrass?" He demanded, displaying his scar. "Have you forgotten the past five years? Potter! You're our hero! Potter, you slimy git. Potter, you're our hero! Potter, you cheating, attention seeking git!" he leaned back in his chair again. "I'm what you think of as normal and it happens to me so tell me again I don't know what it's like to be ostracized and ridiculed."

She shrunk back guiltily from his accusation. He was right: she had forgotten the way he'd been alternately treated over the last five years depending on the situation. It was her second time doing it and he'd been right both times. "So what do you do about it?" she asked in a quiet tone, not meeting his eyes.

He leaned forward again, his green eyes boring into her own with an intensity that left her feeling overwhelmed and dominated…and something else. Her breath hitched in her throat and her chest tightened, as if someone were squeezing her lungs, making it hard to breathe. "You ignore them." He said forcefully. "You realize there are very few opinions that matter other than your own and the ones that do won't be agreeing with those that don't."

"How do I do that?" she demanded. "I'm not strong like you, magically or physically and ignoring people only helps so much. How do you do it?"

"Do you really want my help?"

"I wouldn't be asking if I didn't."

"Then repeat after me." He told her. "I am not a freak."

She didn't know how that would help but she did as he said. "I am not a freak."


"I am not a freak."

He scowled. "Not like that. Say it like you mean it, like you believe it because you have to believe it or it won't work."

She said it again and again he scowled at her. "Look, Greengrass. You have to believe what you're saying. If you don't believe it why should anyone else? It's like magic, it's all about intent and belief. If you don't intend for it to be true, if you don't believe it to be true, it won't be. Now, are you a freak?"

"No! I'm not a freak!" she said heatedly, finally getting what he was alluding to with the comparison to magic.

"You're tall enough to see over the obstacles in your way and see how to get around them."

"I'm tall enough to see over the obstacles in my way and see how to get around them."

"You're tall enough to touch the stars and to grasp your dreams from among them and make them true."

"I'm tall enough to touch the stars and to grasp my dreams from among them and make them true." She gazed into his emerald green eyes, seeing the sly smile he had and said the words, said them and believed them.

"Again." She said them again…and again…and again, feeling them, believing them and meaning them in a way she never had before.

"And no bunch of weak willed, magically challenged, bigoted, low-life Death Eater wannabe's are going to stop me." He finally added.

She giggled as she said it, knowing it was true because she was going to make it true. She was not going to let Malfoy stop her anymore, in this or any other endeavor upon which she embarked.

She couldn't believe how good she felt about herself suddenly, how confident, how free and it was all because of the young man in front of her. "Thank you, Harry." She said, smiling at him.

"You're welcome, Daphne." He replied, smiling back. "It's all about you, you know. You can't let other people tell you what you are, or what you can be or what you can do. It's going to be hard, believe me I know, but you can do it. You can do or be anyone you want to be."

Her smile widened. "That did it." She couldn't believe…no, wait, she could believe what she was about to do!

"Did what?" he asked confusedly.

"Grab your things." She stated excitedly as she stood up and swept her own things into a pile and into her book bag before turning on him, grabbing him by the arm and pulling him towards the front of the library. Yes, she thought to herself. Grasping my dreams begins right now, and no one is going to stop me!


"Hah! I told you I'd think of a way to get into your knickers!"

She laughed from where she lay on the bed. "Take those off, you prat, before you stretch them all out of shape!"

"But they fit perfectly!" he stated, turning so she could see.

"I saw you use that enlarging charm on them." She told him gleefully. "And one part of your anatomy doesn't seem to fit."

He looked down to see the aforementioned bit of anatomy peeking out of the top of the white lace trimmed knickers he wore…by several inches. "Do you think this is why cod pieces were invented?" he asked with a lewd grin.

She laughed again. "No, you idiot! They were invented by men who weren't as well endowed as men like you so they could pretend to be that well endowed to all of the ladies."

"I'll bet there were an awful lot of disappointed and pissed off ladies." He said as he pushed the undergarment down to his feet, fully exposing himself to her once again.

And what an exposure! When she'd first seen it, it had scared her to death with its size. By the time Harry had finished his foreplay she hadn't cared how big it was!

"Now there is a very good display of lines!" he exclaimed as he crawled back onto the bed, a very large one per her wishes of the Room.

She was laying almost on her right side, resting on and hugging a rather large pillow to her chest and belly with her left knee crooked slightly, watching him as he approached her. She moved her head slightly to be able to watch him as he reached out with his right hand and placed his fingertips on the ball of her left foot.

"See how this starts here, then goes up and over and back to the roundness of the heel, which is just the right size to compliment the arc of the ankle, before starting its long slow rise along the back of your calf to the short, not so steep plunge to the back of your knee."

She smiled as she watched and listened to him, the light touch of his fingertips feeling electric as he traced the back of her leg. She might not see the beauty of 'lines' like he did, but she certainly didn't begrudge him his beliefs if it made her feel like this!

"From there it sweeps along the gentle curvature of the knee, up the back of the thigh to the ever so little indent at the bottom of your perfectly gorgeous bum." He stated softly as he leaned forward and laid an ever so gentle kiss to the top of said bum.

She smiled at the touch of his lips against her bare skin, then chewed her lower lip and shivered as the sliding fingertips moved up her back to her shoulder, sending a chill down her spine. It was like nothing she'd ever felt before but she liked it.

"And it stops right here." He stated, kissing her shoulder then along it to the base of her neck. From there he went up, kissing and nibbling the skin of her neck until he reached her jaw line which he followed up to her ear. She giggled when he licked her lobe then sucked it into his mouth and bit lightly.

She rolled under him till she was on her back before reaching up and grasping his head to direct his lips to her own. When she'd brought him here they'd snogged for a while and she'd discovered just how good he was. So good she hadn't noticed what he was doing till he had her half undressed. She'd been sitting on the bed she'd wanted the room to make and had to get up a little for her skirt and knickers to be removed.

He pulled back from the kiss and grinned down at her as his hand gently squeezed her breast, his thumb rubbing the nipple. "See?" he said. "You do have some; very nice ones as a matter of fact."

She giggled. "They're small."

"They're more than a handful." He bit the hard little nub gently, followed by a lick of his tongue. "That's plenty big enough."

Her back arched involuntarily at the bite/lick and she gasped with pleasure at the feeling. She looked into his eyes and smiled. "Thank you, Harry."

"For what?"

In reply she traced his lips with her fingertip. "You didn't have to, you know."

He gazed into her eyes as his tongue came out to lick her finger. "I figured most boys expect girls to do it for them, why shouldn't the girls expect the boys to return the favor? Besides, you taste good. Didn't you like it?"

Her smile widened. "I loved it." Two amazingly mind blowing times!

"Yeah, well, trying to rip my hair out afterwards didn't seem to show it."

She blushed and looked away for a moment before meeting his gaze once again. "I wanted…I needed you in me, taking me, making me yours." She said firmly, remembering fondly the heavenly feeling of him doing just that and the quiet, calm, soothing aftermath as he lay upon her and within her.

He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Why was that? If we've said more than ten words to each other in the past five years, total, before tonight I'd have to take a sock off to count them. And there would be toes left over." He shifted his body to lie alongside hers and she moved her leg over his. "Some people would call that…unladylike at the least. I find it hard to believe that you dragged me off to bed just because of something I said."

She raised her left hand towards the ceiling and made a grabbing motion. "I'm tall enough to touch the stars and to grasp my dreams from among them and make them true." She quoted gently, before looking at him once more. "You're one of my dreams, Harry, and you gave me the confidence to realize I could capture them. Capture them and make them true."

He dropped his forehead onto her shoulder and moaned. "Please don't tell me this is about that Boy-Who-Lived crap."

She chuckled at him. "Yes, in a way." She said as she ran her fingers through his hair at the back of his head. "Daddy used to tell me stories of the great Harry Potter and how he saved the wizarding world, of how he beat the bad people and saved the good people and I always imagined him as a strong, powerful wizard, kind and generous…and taller than me."

His head snapped up and she ached at the concern she saw in his eyes. "I was always taller than boys my age. Sometimes even those a year or two older. I was always made fun of, laughed at, ridiculed. I once begged him to shrink me so I'd only be as tall as the other girls." She caressed his cheek and gazed into his eyes. "I wanted Harry Potter to come and beat up the bullies, to make them stop and leave me alone. He'd be tall and handsome and he'd be my friend and we'd grow up and get married and have a family." She looked at him and smiled. "And then it was time to go to Hogwarts and I was finally going to get to see him…and he's a scrawny little runt who doesn't look powerful enough to hex his way out of the dorm, much less do all the things the stories said you did." She smiled to take the sting from her words.

"Gee, really sorry to disappoint you." He said sarcastically with a big grin, though he hugged her to him.

She giggled at him. "You did, Harry, you really did. I had my dreams all in my head about how we'd meet and I'd be you're girlfriend and you'd protect me and we'd fall in love and get married and I'd have your babies and we'd live happily ever after. But what do you do? Get sorted into Gryffindor…"

"I'd already met Malfoy." He told her with a wry grin. "Sorry about that."

"Oh, well I guess that's a good reason." She said with a little surprise and understanding.

"The hat wanted to put me in Slytherin. Said I could do great things." There was more than a bit of snark in his offhand comment.

She stared at him for a few seconds. "I'm going to kill the ferret." She replied in a matter of fact way that was still a little chilling.

He just smirked down at her.

She huffed at him before continuing. "Then you hook up with Weasley and Granger…" her eyes widened in sudden fear. "Harry, is this going to be a problem with her? I mean, I didn't even think about your relationship with her before I dragged you up here. I don't want to break you up, I just wanted you."

He chuckled. "It's not going to bother her at all." He answered as he traced the outside edge of her ear with a finger. "She's my best friend not my girlfriend. We're like brother and sister. We've saved each other's lives more time than I care to count." He leaned down and kissed her. "If anything she's more likely to be pissed I managed to bed you first." He grinned. "She thinks you're hot, too."

She lay there looking up at him, stunned at what she'd just heard. "Granger likes girls?!"

He laughed at her amazement. "She goes both ways. After last year's Gryffindor/Slytherin match there was a big party in the dorm and the twins managed to smuggle a few bottles of firewhiskey in to help celebrate. Being the manly man," he leaned back on his left arm and raised his right arm to flex his muscles. She laughed at his antics. "I snagged one for the two of us and we proceeded to get smashed in a dark little corner as we watched the party. We talked about just about everything when Katie Bell climbed up on a table and began to do a dance. She was just in her uniform, no robes, and had taken her shoes and socks off with four or five buttons undone on her shirt. I was staring at her because she looked sexy as hell and said something like "Wow! She's hot!" and out of the blue Hermione goes "I'd do her." before taking a slug from the bottle."

She gawked at him, not believing what she'd just heard. "Granger said that?" She found it incredible the bossy bookworm even knew what sex was except intellectually much less be interested in girl/girl sex.

He chuckled as he ran a fingertip over her shoulder. "Yeah, shocked me too except by that time I was so numb I just went "Really?" and she just says "Oh, hell yes. She's got a great set of boobs and a fine looking arse and just look at those legs and don't even get me started on how intelligent she is. I'd shag her rotten in a heartbeat if I ever got the chance."

She lay there stunned. "I never would have believed she was into girls like that. But how did it get to me?"

He shrugged. "I was a fifteen year old boy with raging hormones, remember? I was really enjoying thoughts of my best female friend getting it on with a beautiful girl so I just asked her who else she'd like to do."

She laughed. "You perv."

"Hey!" he replied defensively. "Perving about girls is a teenaged boy's main occupation so I'm really normal." He suddenly leered at her. "But if you're into that sort of thing, it turns out she's a bit kinky. Things like ropes and toys and helpless damsels in distress that she can ravish to her hearts content."

She gaped at him. "You're kidding!"

"Nope." He replied as he slid his hand down her side and over her hip. "She especially saw you as a challenge. Said she thought she could melt the Ice Queen into a shivering, shaking, begging puddle of needy goo if she warmed you up the right way." He bent his head down a little and gave her nipple a little lick.

Sighing with pleasure and feeling the warmth of her blush as she imagined being Granger's prisoner, she pushed his face onto her breast. "If she's as good as you I'm sure she could." She said softly. A thought occurred to her. "What did she do after she sobered up?"

He laughed and gave her a soft kiss. "She came down the next day, hit me square in the middle of my chest and told me in no uncertain terms if I ever repeated a single word of what she'd said the night before to anybody she would hex me so badly I, and the next three people behind me, would have to learn to walk very carefully lest I step on and trip over my manhood."

She laughed, heartily. The more she thought about it, the more she laughed. Most women would have threatened to cut or blow it off but only Hermione Granger could come up with the idea to make it so long it would drag behind them. Never mind the pain from it dragging on the ground he would be in, just the idea of him trying to go to the bathroom cracked her up.

Finally calming down, she wiped the tears from her eyes and asked, "What if she finds out you told me?"

His smile as he looked at her did little things in her belly. "Oh, I figure if anyone would keep a secret it would be the Ice Queen."

The emotional drop she felt hardly surprised her. "Please don't call me that."

The concern she saw in his face brightened her slightly and she gave him a weak smile as she laid her hand on his cheek. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you didn't like it."

"I hate it." She said. "I hate her."

"That's awful harsh to say since she's you."

Shaking her head she said, "She's not me, she's the opposite of me. She's cold and hard and domineering and she's just a mask I put on to…" she couldn't continue as her throat closed up as she admitted things she had never admitted before to anyone but Tracy.

Pulling her close he spoke softly. "To protect yourself? To hide behind so no one could see how you hurt at their words or their actions?"

"How did you know?"

His hand was rubbing up and down her back in a soothing manner as he answered. "I know a thing or two about masks."

"Like freak?"

"Yeah, like freak."

They lay like that for a little while, holding each other comfortingly, before she sighed deeply. "Harry, we need to be going. It's going to be curfew soon."

"We could spend the night here, you know. We could set an alarm so we'd have time to get back to our dorms in the morning."

She grinned. "You just want to try and get more sex."

"Teenage hormones, remember?" she laughed at his reply. "But I'll happily settle for just talking and cuddling and sleeping if that's what you want."

"Tracy will go out of her mind worrying about me." She explained.

"I can fix that." He said as he untangled himself from her and reached over to grab a sheet and pull it up over them. He sat up and making certain she was covered said, "Dobby!"

With a 'POP' a house elf appeared. Holding the sheet over her chest she sat up as well and stared at the excited little being as it bounced energetically on the balls of its feet.

"Greatest Master Wizard Harry Potter be calling on Dobby?"

Harry gave an exasperated sigh. "Dob, how many times have I told you it's just Harry or Harry Potter or if you really insist Mister Harry?"

"Oh, many, many times oh Greatest Master Wizard Harry Potter, sir!"

She giggled at the sight.

"Dobby, if you don't stop calling me that I'll have to give you a pay raise." Harry told the hyperactive little being.

The elf froze. A moment later he asked, "If Dobby be stopping calling him that will Greatest Master Wizard Harry Potter be giving Dobby less pay?"

She couldn't believe what she was witnessing: Harry actually paid a house elf? Who was now trying to negotiate for less pay? How had that happened?

Harry thought it over. "Okay. How much?"

"One galleon."

She watched them dicker back and forth until Harry finally said "Alright, you stop calling me Greatest Master Wizard Harry Potter and I'll only pay you a galleon and seven sickles. Deal?"

Dobby stuck his hand out. "Deal!"

Harry grasped the elf's hand and quite seriously shook it. "Good. Now I want you to go to Miss Greengrass' friend Tracy Davis and tell her Miss Greengrass is safe with someone she trusts and will see her in the morning and there's nothing to worry about. Then bring me the usual but double it."

"Oh yes Mostest Wonderfulest Wizard Mister Harry Potter sir!" the elf cried out before popping away.

Harry stared at the spot where he'd stood for a few moments then murmured "I think I've just been had."

She laughed and leaned against his shoulder. "Oh yes Mostest Wonderfulest Wizard Mister Harry Potter I think you have most certainly been had and by an expert." Harry cast a baleful eye at her. "Just what was that?" she inquired.

"That was Dobby. I tricked Lucius Malfoy into freeing him back at the end of second year and he's been like that ever since."

Her eyes widened. "Lucius Malfoy?" she asked in amazement. "I'll bet he didn't take that to well."

Harry laughed. "Yeah, and he really didn't like it when Dobby bounced him off a wall when he pulled his wand on me for doing it."

'POP' "Dobby be bringing the Mostest Wonderfulest Wizard Mister Harry Potter and his lady Missy Greenygrassy his usual and double!"

Harry had reached over the side of the bed to take a tray from the overwhelming elf, who popped out before Harry had a chance to say anything, and the aroma hit her before she saw what was on it. "What is that delicious smell?" she asked, trying to see around him as he straightened up and placed the tray on the bed before them. She saw the brownish round medallions covering the plate and gasped. "Are those…?"

"Yep. Warm chocolate chip biscuits, fresh from the oven." Was the chipper reply as he held the plate out to her.

She inhaled deeply as she picked up one of the morsels and brought it to her mouth. She took a small bite and tasted the sensual pleasure of melted chocolate on her tongue. "Ooohh! This is delicious!"

"Yeah, ole Dobby may be a real pain sometimes, but he sure knows how to cook." Setting the plate back down, he reached for the pitcher sitting on the tray and picked up one of the glasses sitting beside it. "And to go with them…" He tipped the pitcher and began to pour a snow white liquid into the glass.

Her eyes widened at the sight of it. "Merlin! Is that what I think it is?" she asked in disbelief and not a small amount of expectation.

He grinned at her. "Somebody needs to tell this castle that pumpkin juice just does not go with everything. The only kind of drink that goes with warm biscuits is ice cold milk."

She took the glass he handed her and sipped at it. "Ummm, I think I'm in heaven." Taking a bite of the biscuit she tasted the half melted chocolate as it lay on her tongue. Being warm the treat was still soft as she chewed before washing it down with a drink of milk. "I totally agree with you Harry: not even tea goes as well with warm biscuits as cold milk. I miss it so much here at the castle that the first thing I do when I get home is get a glass. I take it you do this often as you told Dobby to bring you the usual?"

"A couple times a week." He replied around a biscuit.

She was curious. "Do you share with Granger?"

"Sometimes, but usually it's only when she's stressing out about something." A drink of milk and he went on. "Her parents are dentists and she's careful about what she eats and how it will affect her teeth."

"She's a witch. Doesn't she know she'll probably have perfect teeth till the day she dies?"

He shrugged with a smile and finished another biscuit. "Habit. Her parents taught it to her from a young age."

She noticed him staring at her. "What?"

A lecherous grin was part of her answer. "I never thought how sexy a naked beautiful girl eating biscuits could be."

She blushed as she realized she'd let the sheet fall into her lap, but she didn't pull it back up. Instead she scooted back against her pillow and headboard, causing him to do the same, and bring the treats with him. With the good feelings she decided to ask him about something she'd been curious about for years. "Harry, what happened at the end of first year? I mean, we were all feeling pretty good about having won the house trophy and then all of sudden Dumbledore was giving the four of you points like he was pouring them out of a bucket."

He was still for so long she thought she'd offended him somehow and was about to apologize when he spoke. "We battled Voldemort." He said distantly, as if from another time and place. "His spirit had possessed Professor Quirrel and was attempting to steal something to use to get a body back. I killed Quirrel with a touch; the protection my mother had used to protect me from him was still active and he just disintegrated." She felt him shudder slightly. "Voldemort's spirit escaped from the castle."

Silent and wide eyed she'd sat and listened in horror to what he was saying.

"Second year, too." He stated, glancing at her. "In a different form in the Chamber of Secrets." He brought a biscuit to his mouth and took a bite, a far off look on his face. "He'd taken Ginny Weasley into the Chamber; he was going to use her life force to get a body." He was quiet a few moments. "I stopped him."

"Slytherin's monster?" she asked when he didn't move or speak again.

He looked at her as if he hadn't known she was there and then gave her an embarrassed grin before looking down. "A 60 foot basilisk." He replied before taking a drink. "The Headmasters' phoenix brought me Gryffindors' sword and blinded it so it couldn't use its look to kill me."

She couldn't help it: she gaped at him in astonished disbelief. "You fought a giant magical snake with a sword? A Basilisk? Why aren't you dead?"

He chuckled. "I almost was." Holding out his arm he showed her a particularly nasty looking scar on it. "It bit me when I stabbed it up through the roof of its mouth. Fawkes cried into the wound though and healed me." He looked at her again. "I can take you to see it sometime, if you want."

She was taken aback by the offer. If he was willing to show her both the Chamber and the dead basilisk then he had to be telling the truth. "Really?"

"Yeah, but it probably stinks pretty badly. That's an awful lot of rotting meat and it's been dead for over 4 years."

"Can I take my friend, Tracy?"

He smiled and shrugged. "Sure."

She sat thinking about the implications of that. If he wasn't just saying that, hoping she wouldn't want to see it because he had offered, then he was telling the truth and if he was telling the truth about the Chamber and basilisk then it was fair to think he was telling the truth about first year which meant … "So, everything you said after the tournament fourth year was the truth. He really was back, wasn't he?"

She didn't have to explain who 'he' was as Harry looked over at her. "Yeah, he was."

"Merlin." She whispered, almost forgetting the milk and biscuit in her hands.

"You didn't believe me?" He didn't sound disapproving, merely curious.

"I didn't want to believe you." She answered truthfully. "I didn't want him back."

Harry snorted. "Yeah, neither did I." was his reply. They sat and nibbled biscuits and sipped milk in silence for a few moments before he said "So, what do you want to do when you graduate?"

His question was a welcome change of subject. "I want to get a Mastery in potions." She told him. "There's good money in being a Potions Mistress."

He poured himself another glass of milk. "Going to make yourself financially independent, hmm?"

She glanced at him quickly then looked guiltily down at her drink as she tried to decide whether to tell him or not, then decided to. "I want to get it to help my family."

"I thought your family was a rich, noble house."

Giving him a tired smile she explained. "Not everyone who's a noble is rich like Lucius Malfoy. My grandfather liked to gamble, and party, or gamble while he partied. He practically bankrupted the family." Heaving a sigh she leaned back against the headboard. "Daddy tried to recoup our losses but he's not a very good business man. It wasn't till Mum stepped in and took control of everything that things started to turn around."

Harry finished a biscuit and took a drink before saying anything. "She's better at business then, I take it."

Nodding, she said, "Yeah, very much so. She's absolutely ruthless about money, knowing where every Knut is going, what's making a profit, what's taking a loss, what investments to look at or stay away from. It extended to the household budget as well, even to what I could have for spending money: school supplies first, then necessities, and finally what I could have for luxuries." Grinning, she looked at him. "I've become a very good bargain hunter."

He grinned back at her and she lost himself in his eyes. They really were a beautiful shade of green. She felt she could gaze into them forever. She certainly wanted to. So she made a decision. "Harry?"


"Can I be your girlfriend?" The question came out quietly, timidly, almost as if she were afraid to ask it.

His eyes widened for a moment before he turned away, slumping back against the headboard, his glass and a half eaten biscuit resting in his hands on the bed to either side of him. Her heart beating heavy in her chest she watched him with trepidation for long seconds waiting for him to say something, anything, but he didn't. He didn't even move and she realized why. Despondent and hurting, feeling dirty and used, she slouched down herself, pulling the sheet up over her chest. "I'm sorry, Harry. Forget I even asked." She felt hot tears beginning to form. For all of his talk he was just more subtle in his taunts. Why would he want to have anything to do with a freak like her other than what he'd already gotten?

Harry jerked his head around to her. "Huh? What?" he asked in confusion before noting her expression. "No! Oh Daphne, I'm sorry!" He dropped the remains of his biscuit into the glass and set that aside before reaching over and pulling her into a hug. "I'd love to have you for a girlfriend!" He exclaimed as he rubbed circles in the middle of her back. "You just took me by surprise and, well, I've got this effing homicidal maniac who wants to kill me and a bunch of his boot licking toadies who want to help him and some of them have kids here in school who would be more than willing to set me up for him but he wants to make me suffer first and killing my friends and their families would be one way to do that. I was just thinking of what could happen if we got involved. I don't want to see you hurt or worse."

"Granger is with you." She sniffed, hope and elation rising in her.

"Yeah, but he'd want to kill her for just being what she is, not to mention the fact she's showing up the Purebloods magically and intellectually in just about everything she does." He kissed her lightly on the forehead. "She's sort of stuck with me and we watch each other's backs."

She snuggled closer into him, her head resting on his upper chest, happiness chasing away the earlier despair. "I could help do that."

"What about your family?" he asked, and her feelings toward him increased. This was the Harry Potter of her younger years, of her dreams and fantasies: strong and thoughtful, caring, watchful and brave. Not the Boy-Who-Lived but Harry Potter, the young man who had to fight because of the forces arrayed against him, not because he wanted to.

"I'm sure they'd understand," she said quietly, "and our home is very well protected." Her grandfather may have nearly ruined the family financially but he'd made sure the defenses were the best money could buy.

He held her close. "I'll tell you what: we can keep it secret until I've taken care of Snakeface…"

"Snakeface?" she asked, sounding confused.

"It's what he looks like now."


"Once he's gone we can go public and if I lose no one will know we were together…"

"Don't even think that!" she exclaimed as she looked him in the eye. "You're going to beat him."

He smiled at her. "Thanks for the vote of confidence." He said. "Or you can think about it for a day or two, even owl you parents and ask their opinion, and decide if you want to go public now. And I mean really think about it because if …if…I lose and he knows you've been with me he will make your life hell if he doesn't kill you outright. Before he does that though he will probably make your family suffer and quite likely make you watch. It's what he did last time and I have no reason to think he won't do it again. It's what he does; what they do. I watched him use the torture curse on his own people the night he came back, he won't hesitate to do that and worse on others who oppose him."

She lay in his arms, thinking about what he had said. She knew he was right, she'd heard stories of the first war, of the atrocities committed by the Death Eaters in their campaign of terror. "I'll think about it."

He placed a kiss on her forehead. "Good." He ran the palm of his hand over her shoulder. "Ready to go to sleep?"

She curled a hand around his shoulder then lay back, pulling him into a position over her. "I'm ready for more sex." She told him saucily, grinning up at him.

He chuckled. "I thought that was supposed to be me?"

"Isn't it?"

"Good point." He conceded before he leaned down and kissed her.

"Mmmm, you were right." She told him as he lifted up afterwards.

He quirked an eyebrow upwards in question. "About what?"

"We really are the same height when we're lying down."

Laughing, he leaned down to kiss her again.


The next morning she and Tracy entered the Great Hall for breakfast. Despite Dobby's visit to her, her best friend had still worried about her. She'd nearly crushed her with her overjoyed hug upon her return with Dobby this morning. Then had begun the interrogation on where she'd been all night, doing what and with whom. Tracy's demented shriek of happiness at finding out she'd spent it with Harry Potter had nearly ruptured her eardrums and would have awakened the entire dorm if she'd not had the foresight to put up silencing charms around their room. The question and answer period that followed had to be cut short however, with a promise to continue at a later date, because she'd wanted to shower, change clothes and go to breakfast.

She stopped as they entered the Great Hall when she got a look at the Gryffindor table: Harry sat on one side of it with Granger to his left. On the other side of the table sat Weasley facing Harry with Neville Longbottom to his right facing her. To his right sat the Abbott girl, whom she believed was going with him. The twins sat to Harry's right but with a space between them.

"Daphne? You alright?"

She nodded. "Yes, Tracy, I'm fine. Why don't you go on over and sit? I think I'm going to sit someplace else today."

Davis turned to look where her friend was looking. "That's dangerous territory, Daph. You know Malfoy is going to go spare on you."

She smiled at her friend, thankful for her concern. "I'm through running from him and people like him, Trace. If I have to I'll smash him back under the rock from which he crawled."

Davis looked at her in surprise before she smiled. "Okay, I'll go sit down but I'm going to keep an eye on you."

She returned the smile, nodded and walked towards the Gryffindors. She saw Neville noticing her first as she approached. "Hi, Daphne. What brings you to these parts?" he asked, smiling. The rest of the group turned to look at her.

"I came over to say 'good morning' to my boyfriend." She answered as she leaned down and kissed Harry. It only took a moment for him to get over his surprise and return it. "Good morning, boyfriend."

He grinned back at her. "Good morning to you, too, girlfriend." He replied to the accompaniment of whistles and catcalls from the twins.

"Harry's got a girrrrlfriend! Wooo Hooo!"

Longbottom and Abbot were both smiling and Granger had an ear to ear grin, obviously happy for her best friend.

Harry's hand slipped into her own. "Since you're here do you want to sit and eat with us?"

She smiled. "I was hoping you'd ask." She sat down beside him.

Across the table Ron Weasley unfroze from his gobsmacked position and his face twisted in anger. "Harry! She's a snake! She can't be your girlfriend."

"She's a beautiful young woman." He corrected. "She most certainly can."

Weasley wasn't having it. "She's a slimy snake!" he persisted. "She just wants to get close to you so she can give you to Voldemort. She's evil, you can't trust her!"

Harry gave an exasperated sigh and turned to the red head. "She's my girlfriend, Ron, and if you insult her again I'll hex you." He said in a dangerous tone.

"Well, I'm not sitting near her." the boy declared. "Either she goes or I'm leaving."

"Goodbye, Ron."

The reply was immediate and sincere and if Weasley's facial expression was any indication, totally unexpected. "You're choosing a stinking snake over your best mate?" his voice was incredulous that such a thing could happen.

Harry's face turned hard and angry but before he could carry out his threat of hexing the loud mouthed prat a voice sounded from her right. "She's one of the hottest babes in this castle, Ronniekins, of course he's going to pick her over you." The twin sitting next her said to his younger brother. "Now do like you said and go away so Harry can have some face time with her. Go on! Shoo!"

Weasley glared for a second at his older brother then gave one short, savage look at Harry before he jumped up and stormed off down the table. "There you go, Harry." The twin declared cheerfully. "No more problems from obnoxious bumpkins to interfere with any romantic interactions you may wish to have with the lovely Miss Girlfriend."

"Look Theo, it's Potty and the Freak." The totally unwelcome voice of Draco Malfoy came from behind her. "Is he trying to climb up out of the cesspit of society or is she just realizing where she belongs?"

"Or not." the twin who had spoken earlier said dejectedly in reply to his own statement.

Harry hadn't turned to look at the ferret but Neville was scowling and Abbot had an unhappy expression. Hermione only had to turn her head slightly to look over her shoulder to see the intruders and her eyes had narrowed and her lips thinned in ill concealed hostility.

"What are you doing over here, Greengrass?" Malfoy asked. "You may be a freak but you're a Slytherin freak so get back to where you belong."

Inexplicably she felt herself grinning. It was much of the same things she'd heard in the past that had hurt so much but now she grinned and looked at the young man sitting beside her. His opinion meant something to her but those of the people behind her didn't and that realization changed how she felt about what was being said…and by whom. It might be annoying but it was no longer painful.

"Aren't you going to answer them?" asked Harry, looking back over her shoulder to where her tormentors stood.

"No." She smiled back at him. "I'm going to ignore them until Malfoy draws his wand forcing me to defend myself and then watch my head of house take points from you." She grinned widely at his look, amazed at she could actually joke about something so debilitating to her in the past.

Harry snorted in amusement as she stated how things normally happened in these situations as Hermione lamented the truth of her statement and Longbottom said "Gee, thanks Greengrass" in a laconic drawl.

"I've got the answer to Theo's question about which of your parents shagged the giant!" Parkinson laughed excitedly, loudly enough so everyone nearby could hear. "It was your mother…while your father sat and watched…and wanked while doing it!"

She snapped upright in her seat, her Ice Queen persona falling effortlessly into place hiding her rage. She felt Harry starting to stand to defend her and laid her hand on his forearm, stopping him. The others at the table were all silent, watching her. Somehow she knew they were ready to stand for her as well despite only just having met most of them and felt humbled, but it was her battle to fight and this time she was going to fight. No more would the taunts and insults go unanswered. Back straight she stood and turned to face her tormentors.

"Oooh, look!" Nott jeered. "I think we upset her." They all laughed, except for Millie who stood at the back of the group looking miserable.

Head high, back straight, feet shoulder width apart; she was literally looking down her nose at the much shorter girl. "Apologize." The very coldness in her voice stopped their laughter and drew the attention of others in the room.

Pansy tossed her head. "I'm not apologizing to you, you freak."

Voice level and even she repeated herself. "I demand a formal apology, Parkinson. Now!"

The Great Hall quieted as those who were there listened to the altercation.

"Not going to happen, bitch." The girl replied with a sneer as she stepped closer. "So what are you going to do about it?"

The backhand slap caught everyone by surprise, not the least of whom was Pansy who staggered back, hand to her cheek, eyes wide in shocked surprise at having actually been struck, and many jerked at the sharp crack.

"Pansy Sedilla, of House Parkinson, I, Daphne Ophelia of House Greengrass formally challenge you to a wizard's duel." There were gasps and startled cries from many of the listeners. "Do you accept?"

Before Pansy could answer another made his presence known. "Greengrass! Just what do you think you're doing?" Professor Snape roared as he came up to the cluster of students. He'd been the only professor at the head table when she'd come in earlier but as usual had made no attempt to stop any bullying. Until now.

Unbelievably it was Neville Longbottom who spoke up first. "Professor Snape, you do not want to interfere in what is going on here."

Still staring at Pansy she saw the man turn his head out of the corner of her eye. "Longbottom, when I want your input to any situation I'll give it to you." He sneered derisively.

But surprisingly Neville didn't back down. "Professor, you won't believe this but I'm actually trying to save you here." He told the older man. "Heiress Greengrass has issued a formal challenge to Miss Parkinson in front of witnesses in response to a vile and vulgar insult upon her parents and Family Honor. If you interfere in any way her father can take you in front of the Wizengamot and demand recompense in the form of a very large amount of money or even in the form of your enslavement if you don't have the amount he wants."

The professor's head whipped around to look at Draco Malfoy who stared back at him for a moment before giving one short, sharp nod of his head. He scowled, looking between the two girls before he said "Very well, continue." He didn't sound like he was very pleased at what he was saying.

Let your Potter baiting go a little too far this time, did you Professor? Daphne thought to herself, hiding a little smirk.

Pansy stood up straight. "I'm not going to duel you." She sniffed.

People's eyes widened in surprise as they saw something they had never seen before: the Ice Queen smiled. It wasn't a big smile; it certainly wasn't a nice or polite smile. It was the smile of a predator that had cornered its prey and it promised of Bad Things to come and they hoped it was never aimed at them.

"Heir Malfoy." She said formally, the smile widening slightly. Draco's scowling face snapped up to hers, eyes wide in surprise at being included in the proceedings. "You might wish to… disabuse your betrothed of that idea."

"Why would he want to do that?" Pansy asked, looking confused.

"Because if you don't fight her," the young man began explaining "it will be seen as cowardice in the face of the challenge. A man could get away with that with no further consequences other than being seen as a coward himself, but for a woman it reflects upon the entire family's honor. Your father would be forced to pay a large sum of money…"

"A very large sum." Daphne interrupted, her smile becoming more self satisfied as well as more predatory.

Draco glanced up at her before turning back to the other girl. "Or he could disinherit and disown you and offer you as chattel to her if he didn't want to pay to restore the family honor."

Pansy's eyes were wide in horror, her mouth gaping open in shock, as she looked first at Draco and then up at Daphne.

Greg Goyle suddenly spoke up. "What's chattel?" He asked.

"A slave, stupid." Draco snarled at him.


The brief interlude had given Pansy a moment to get her wits back together. She defiantly looked up at the taller blonde. "My father wouldn't do that. He'd pay."

Daphne thought to herself that she almost sounded like she believed it. Time to pop that little bubble.

"But what about your betrothal contract Pansy?" Her smile had gone to a full-blown smirk as she asked the question.

"What does that have to do with anything?" Pansy replied obviously confused by the question.

"Lucius Malfoy wrote it, didn't he?" She asked. "I don't think he's going to want his son to marry a girl who is an admitted coward in front of all these witnesses and since it would be your fault I would bet money I don't have that somewhere in there is a penalty clause for non-fulfillment of the contract without cause… with a very large monetary value as a penalty. I don't believe your father would be able to pay both of those sums." Her eyes narrowed and her lips went back to the predatory smile again. "So tell me Pansy, who do you think your father would rather not pay: my parents or Lucius Malfoy?"

There were whispers and murmurs from the people around them as Pansy once more looked at her, horror struck at the implications before looking at an equally ashen faced Draco. She finally looked back at Daphne, anger and a touch of fear evident in her face. "All right, fine! I'll duel you."

"What is going on here?" Unseen and unnoticed by most of the people, professors McGonagall and Flitwick had arrived for breakfast to come upon the gathering in the Great Hall.

Once again Neville Longbottom spoke up first, explaining everything that was going on to the deputy headmistress. When he had finished she turned a stormy expression towards the potion Master. "How could you let this happen, Severus?"

He scowled and looked up at Daphne. "The girl had issued the challenge before I could stop her."

She glared at him for a few seconds before turning back to everyone else. "Very well." She huffed. "Since there's no way to stop this, Filius would you be so kind as to prepare a dueling platform and set the wards?"

As the diminutive professor moved off to start moving tables out the way and conjuring the platform, Daphne looked over her shoulder at Harry. There was no way she was going to turn her back on the other Slytherin's. "Heir Potter." She stated, still in formal mode of language. "Would you do me the honor of being my second?"

Before he could say anything however Neville Longbottom once again spoke up. "Heiress Greengrass; I mean no disrespect towards you or your choice of second in Heir Potter nor to him but as he is muggle raised I rather doubt he has ever been instructed in the duties and responsibilities of that position. I however, am very well versed in those duties and am well aware of what is and is not allowed and the appropriate responses and would be honored if you would allow me to be your second."

She turned her attention to Harry who gave her a slight bow. "I fear I must agree with Heir Longbottom. I know nothing about that position and would hate to disgrace myself in your service, or worse, allow you to come to harm when I could have prevented it."

She nodded back at him conceding the point. "Very well; Heir Longbottom, I accept your offer, and thank you for your assistance." She turned back to Pansy and began taking off her robes. She didn't want the clothing restricting her movement and there were too many ways an opponent could use your own clothing against you.

Pansy saw what she was doing and began removing her own when she suddenly looked up. "I just remembered! As the one being challenged I get to set the conditions."

She handed her robes to Harry and began unbuttoning her blazer. "That's true. What are they?"

"Nothing dark and only to first blood."

"Agreed. Anything else?" She handed her blazer to Harry, removed her tie and undid the top button of her blouse.

Pansy was following her example. "No, that's it."

She bent over and with a smile gave Harry a peck on the lips. "Good." She started to step past the other girl on the way to the platform. "It never occurred to you that a piercing hex through the heart counts as first blood did it?" She said over her shoulder with a slight smirk. The other girl just stared back at her, gob smacked by the comment. That should shake up her concentration she thought to herself with great satisfaction.

Granger was at the foot of the steps as she started up. "Don't trust her." She said quietly glancing towards the other girl. Her look then shifted to the others. "Or them."

"Not as far as I can throw this Castle." She replied, continuing upwards, for the first time feeling a real affinity with the muggleborn girl.

She stood on the platform, calmly waiting as Pansy, not without some trepidation, climbed up to her end while professor Flitwick began setting the protection wards around it to stop any stray spells from hurting anyone in the audience. That audience had grown by quite a bit as people had come down for breakfast or had been called to come see the spectacle that was going on.

Neville and Draco had taken their respective places at either end of the platform and professor Flitwick spoke up. "These are the rules for this duel: no dark hexes or spells; the duel will continue only until first blood or someone is unconscious. After I have called that no more spells are allowed or I will stop the perpetrator from doing it again." He turned a glare on first one then the other of the girls to let them know it would be a painful method of stopping. "You will leave the platform and descend the stairs once first blood has been called. Is that understood?" Both girls acknowledged they understood. "Very well, you may begin… now!"

Pansy's arm snapped up immediately. "Diffindo!"

Daphne didn't even move as the cutting hex flashed past her, merely bringing her wand up and aiming it at the platform between them. "Aguamenti!" She said. Water shot from the end of her wand and splashed onto the platform halfway down.

"Reducto! Bombarda!"

She leaned to her left as both of the spells passed her by, not even looking at the other girl as she continued hosing down the platform. She didn't need to…her aim was atrocious. It didn't matter if it was because she just had lousy aim or if she was shaken up by Daphne's statement about the piercing hex, but it let her do what she wanted to do.

"Diffindo! Diffindo! Diffindo!"

She noticed Pansy was getting more creative, or maybe more desperate, as she swept the three spells across the width of the platform. Her problem was she hadn't varied the height of them. Daphne simply crouched under them continuing to spray water. People began laughing at how easily the tall blonde was avoiding the shorter girl's spells.

"What's the matter Greengrass?" shouted Pansy angrily. "I thought you wanted to duel me. What are you going to do? Give me a cold by getting my feet wet?"

She stood back up seeing the water had flowed down the platform to her opponent's end and was where she wanted it. "Not exactly." She replied, giving the other girl a cool stare and pointed her wand. "Glacis!"

Pansy watched as the water on the platform froze into a slick sheet of ice. She looked up as Daphne said, "You really should have apologized, Pansy. It would have been humiliating but it would have saved you from this!" and jabbed her wand.

Pansy jumped sideways, too late realizing she'd been suckered as nothing left her opponent's wand. Her feet shot out from under her as she landed on the slick ice and she crashed down hard on her wand arm and hip, crying out in pain as she lost her wand.

People in the audience gasped in sympathy or laughed at the sight of her being brought down so easily, thinking the tall blonde was just playing with her opponent, but none of them realized the extent of Daphne's plan: there would be no evading her next spell, no jumping or ducking aside to avoid her fate.

Daphne moved her wand on an inward spiral with a jab and spoke: "Reducio!"

Pansy had no chance. With no way to evade the spell, or even raise a shield, it hit her squarely and in an instant her clothing had shrunk to half its size. Buttons popped off, seams split and cloth ripped, shredding her school uniform and exposing large areas of skin in the gaps. A large peal of laughter filled the hall at the sight…

…until her ear shattering shriek of agony silenced them all.

It wasn't until they saw her clawing at her feet that they realized the horrifying truth of what had happened: her shoes were considered clothing as well, but they were made of sterner stuff. Thick leather didn't rip or tear and much heavier thread held them together. When they had shrunk they had crushed her feet.

Daphne's expression was cold, hard and uncaring. Several people were seen to shiver as they looked at her looking at her victim. "I am the Ice Queen and my patience is at an end!" she intoned coldly as she started walking the length of the dueling platform, stepping as lightly on the ice Parkinson had had so much trouble staying upright on as easily as if walking on the stone floor of the Great Hall. Her voice wasn't loud but it carried clearly to every corner of the hall. "I will no longer tolerate the verbal, mental or physical abuse shown me in the past. Insult me at your own peril. Insult my parents or family and prepare to meet me here." Nobody doubted the sincerity of her statement or of what she was speaking about as she reached her destination. Crouching down by the crying, half naked girl she placed the tip of her wand against her cheek and made a short cut.

"Blood!" Professor Flitwick cried as both he and Madame Pomfrey rushed up the stairs to the injured girl, Flitwick vanishing the ice as they reached the top before the two of them dropped to their knees to begin working on her injuries.

Daphne stepped around them and down the stairs to be met by the group of Slytherins standing there. "Get out of my way, pygmies." Her growled statement was short and curt.

Whether they were still stunned at what had just happened or the unexpected command coming from her, both Malfoy and Nott jumped back away from her, clearing her path, only to realize what they'd done as laughter sounded around them. Reddening with embarrassment Draco growled out "You're dead Greengrass."

She whirled on him, her long arm leaving the tip of her wand only inches from his face. He paled, eyes wide in fear at what she might do. "What are you doing in my house Malfoy?" she snarled at him, her face a mask of rage. "How did you get into the house of the ambitious, the sly and cunning when your only ambition is to kiss the arse of a murdering madman who kills as many purebloods as he does muggleborn and you're so stupid you give away your plans to anybody who wants to hear them including your intended victims? As for sly and cunning you can't even keep your mouth shut! You want me dead? Challenge me! Meet me up there!" she pointed to the dueling platform. "But don't think it'll be to first blood, or second or even third. It'll only end when one of us is lying on that platform dead and I guarantee it won't be me." She leaned towards him, her voice going low and deadly. "I'm tall enough to touch the stars, Malfoy, to touch them and grasp my dreams from among them and make them true and one of those dreams is a world without you in it and I'm certainly tall enough to crush you under my feet! Challenge me!" She fairly roared the last at him.

He obviously had no intention of doing that as he slowly backed away from the clearly enraged young woman. It was then that Harry stepped up beside his girlfriend.

"You know, Draco, I really hate to ask you this…no, wait, I'm actually really looking forward to it," he grinned broadly, "but did you just piss yourself?"

Draco looked down and everyone who could see saw the slowly spreading darkening stain at the front of his trousers as it began moving down the front of his legs. "Damn you Potter!" he cried as he turned and hurried away, followed by laughter.

"Why do I always get blamed for everything?" Harry asked of nobody in particular to friendly laughter while shaking his head. He put his arm around her waist and pulled her close then looked up at her. "Remind me to never piss you off. That was one wicked duel and nobody can ever accuse you of using dark spells. Now, let's finish breakfast."

She smiled and put her arm around him. "Just a moment." She told him then turned her attention to another. "Millie! Would you like to join us?" she called.

The young woman in question turned and looked at her, an expression of disbelief on her face. Nott and Malfoy's two bookends did likewise, Nott scowling at both her and Bulstrode.

"I'll admit Granger is a bossy know-it-all…"

"Hey!" a female voice came from behind her. "I resemble that remark!"

She grinned at the laughter behind her as she continued, "…but she really does know it all and she's really good at runes and arithmancy." She turned her head to look at the brunette. "Millie wants to be an enchantress." She said by way explanation.

Hermione's eyes went to the Slytherin girl. "Really? General enchantments or do you want to specialize?"

Millie looked as if she was surprised at the question, or at the fact the question was even asked and by whom. "Uh, general to begin with." She said hesitantly.

"Well, come on over and tell me where you need help." She paused. "You do need help, right? That's why Daphne invited you isn't it?"

Almost as if her feet had a mind of their own she began walking towards them.

"Bulstrode!" Nott almost shouted. She stopped, looking fearful.

"Leave it, Nott!" she said quietly, cold menace underscoring her words. Millie now looked at her with a glint of hope in her eyes. "She can go where she wants and talk to who she wants. Anyone who thinks otherwise can talk to me."

Nott scowled at her before turning and leaving the hall. Millie walked past her and smiled. "Thanks."

"Stick with Tracy or I and be careful around the others." The other girl nodded.

A few minutes later they were all seated around the table, Millie and Hermione deep into a parchment covered in numbers and symbols, the rest of them talking and laughing about anything that came up. Harry's arm was still around her waist and she was leaning into him feeling good. She had dreamed about something like this happening for years, never quite believing it would ever come true. Then someone had shown her how to make it happen.

She had a lot of dreams.