Chapter 1 ~ The Sorting Ceremony Again

Muriel whispered with Marisa as the 1st years arrived for the Sorting ceremony. She had missed her dorm mates more than she had expected over the summer. Until the end of last year, she'd never really had girl friends her own age, and it was pleasant to be back in their company.

Jolina Avery was sorted into Slytherin, and Muriel clapped half-heartedly. She didn't really like her, but their parents were friends. She saw the girl's eyes narrow as they fell on the Ravenclaw table. Muriel stopped clapping abruptly, and turned back to Marisa.

"So, what did you do this summer?" the girl was asking.

"Well, it was about a month before I could stop taking that awful potion to counter the poison. I felt weak the whole time, so mostly I just sat around with Severus and played wizard chess and exploding snap. I finished all my homework then, too. When I felt better, Sev brought over a book of hexes and we went back into the woods to duel with them."

"But we aren't allowed to do magic outside of school!" One of the other girls exclaimed.

"In the trees behind our houses, Papa and Mr. Snape set up an area where the Ministry can't detect magic so that we could practice." The other girls looked horrified, so she offered an explanation. "Papa is an Auror, and he thinks I should know this stuff, in case someone tries to get at him by abducting me."

The girls looked at her with frightened eyes. This was not something many of them had ever thought about. All traces of their usual giggles were gone.

"Who would do that?" another girl asked.

"The Dark Lord, who else? You guys all have muggle parents. Don't tell me you haven't thought about what would happen if he ever came for them?" Muriel was surprised. She had thought that mud bloods would be more afraid of Riddle than she was, but it didn't seem like they'd thought about it at all. Maybe she shouldn't have worried them.

She watched as a shiver passed through each of the girls. No one met her eyes except Marisa. "I've thought of it," she whispered. "And I'm scared to death."

"Well don't be," Muriel said, suddenly supportive. "There are dozens of Aurors like my father who are standing up to him. And when we get out of school, there will be at least one from our dorm!"

A boy whose name they hadn't heard was sorted into Ravenclaw, then, and they forgot their conversation as they clapped and welcomed him to the table. Muriel turned to look for Severus, but he was chatting with Jolina, and didn't look up.

Muriel watched disinterestedly as the rest of the newcomers were sorted. Rosier and Wilkes became Slytherins, and Kyle's little brother was Sorted into Hufflepuff. She gave him a sympathetic glance. He didn't look very happy to be separated from Kyle. She understood that very well.

Muriel's fingers tapped impatiently as Dumbledore reminded them all that the forest was forbidden in addition to about 200 magical toys, the list of which they could find on Filch's door (several of which were sitting in her trunk upstairs). She was starving!