Title: Veelas and Beasts

Author: Abacus

Chapter Three: Phantom of Hogwarts: Part 1

"You alright there, Malfoy?"

Hagrid held the lantern up and it swung and forth, creaking loudly through the silence of the night. The light fell over Malfoy's figure highlighting his skinny and angular frame. As the giant took in the boy's sickly and tired state, he felt a faint tugging of pity.

We will be at Hogwarts in no time, Draco realized. His stomach did a flip flop at the thought of it. He had not stepped a foot in Hogwarts in over two years.

Draco kept his face turned away from Hagrid and instead stared at his reflection in the lake. He saw himself, distorted, rippled with a thin face and tired, haunted eyes. "Is that really me?" he thought to himself. When exactly had he grown so old? An angry sort of emotion began bubbling inside Draco. At seventeen he would have the burden of being a murderer. At seventeen, he would have the guilt of going through what others never had to go through in their lifetimes. Before his thoughts went any further, Draco quickly buried it more deeper. Think about it later, he urged himself.

The crickets chirped- over and over and over, driving him almost mad. The wind blew whispering what Draco could have sworn was the words killer, killer, killer… It all made him feel sick and also an eerie sense of foreboding began to weld deep inside him. As the boat pushed forward through the darken water, a small voice in the back of his mind told him that this was a one way ride. He would reach Hogwarts yet he would never come back.

He was not sure whether or not he should trust his instincts. They were usually proven true. There was, however, a couple of occasions where they were false. He fervently hoped that this was one of those times.

Draco dipped his hand into the water and shivered- it was not because of the cold. "Hagrid," he asked, "Are we almost there yet?" Hagrid was still aware of Draco's melancholy demeanor but he decided to not make a show of it, he replied, "A couple of minutes we will be there."

As the minutes drew to a close they reached the shore. Together Draco and Hagrid made the familiar trek to the Hogwarts castle. They opened the castle doors and stepped inside.

_____

Draco had spent the remainder of his night at the infirmary while Madam Pomfrey checked for any injuries. He woke up around the afternoon and went to speak with Dumbledore. As it was night time again, Draco made his way to the Great Hall. He was starving.

The smell of pumpkin juice, turkey and the Hogwarts essentials wafted out at him, making his mouth water in anticipation. Back in the days when he was a student at Hogwarts, he had taken the evening meals for granted. After dining at Durmstrang for the past two years and being put on the strict Bulgarian diet, he had grown to appreciate Hogwart's feasts. His eyes took in the familiar scenery- the large velvet draperies, the four House tables and the starred ceiling- and he felt a small stab of sadness as he glanced over to the Slytherin table. The place where he, Pansy, Goyle and Crabbe previously sat was now occupied by several third years.

"Mr. Malfoy, welcome back to Hogwarts." A hand rested on his shoulder. When Draco turned his head back he saw Dumbledore behind him. The Headmaster's hand gave a comforting pat on his back. Draco did not look at him but instead stared at the floor. He always disliked the old man intensely but right now he could not help feeling a twinge of shame. Dumbledore really was a good man. Draco felt as if he was exploiting that. Feeling like an utter arse, Draco mumbled, "Thanks for taking me back."

Dumbledore's smile widened, "It's my pleasure."

With his hand still on Draco's shoulder Dumbledore steered him towards the Gryffindor table. With horror, Draco realized just whom the old man was leading him to. He saw a group of students chatting amiably with one another. Two of those students, he did not know. The other four he knew to be Seamus Finnigan, Hermione Granger, Dean Thomas and of course, Harry Potter. Vaguely, Draco wondered where the weasel went to. The trio looked slightly lopsided without the red head hovering about.

Seamus Finnigan was probably the one who changed the most. He adopted a green hue to his hair and now sported around various piercings on his face. Disgusted, Draco wrinkled his nose in distaste. How very plebian it looked.

Hermione had shorn her hair until it was only about an inch in length. It stuck like a wild dandelion around her head. She looked very much like the rabid feminist she probably was. She had matured well, Draco noted. However, he wouldn't touch her with a ten foot pole. It was no secret that Granger was the weasel's fiancé.

Aside from being bigger and taller, Harry Potter had, oddly enough, not changed at all. In fact, while everyone else, Draco himself included, had changed somewhat over the past two years, Potter remained as he looked the day Draco left. Draco frowned. The war was effecting everyone yet somehow Potter had managed to come out unscathed. Considering how Potter should have been the one most effected by this war, Draco could not help but find this a bit perplexing.

Strange.

As Dumbledore dragged Draco into the Gryffindor fold, all talk ceased. They all stared at him surprised. It was probably Seamus who voiced out what they all were thinking.

"Why the hell is Malfoy here?"

Dumbledore cast a disapproving glance at Seamus. Seamus sunk back into his chair, instantly regretting his outburst- at least in front of Dumbledore. "Mr. Malfoy here has come back to Hogwarts for the duration of the year. I assure you, as I am sure you all are thinking, that Draco here has never been a Death Eater so I hope you all would trust my word on it. Since many of his friends have already left Hogwarts, I would like you six to help get him adjusted again."

Dumbledore nodded at Draco and told him to, "Have a seat." Draco cautiously took as

chair beside Hermione winced at the belligerent tension in the air. Seamus shot him a heated glare and Harry had a sort of disgusted look on his face. Hermione, on the other hand, looked merely curious.

"Well, for now I have a meeting to attend to," Dumbledore beamed down at Draco and said, "I hope you all can put aside your differences and become well acquainted."

Chuckling, the Headmaster left the table and the Gryffindors and Malfoy watched him as he walked out the Great Hall and the closed the door with a click. All attention was

now focused on Malfoy. Instinctively, his face twisted into a sneer, "What are you looking at?"

Instantly, he regretted his words.

The group suddenly launched into an angry tirade. Seamus, with Dumbledore now gone, hissed, "Why the fuck are you here Malfoy?" Another boy replied, "Probably sent by Voldemort, after all, everyone is aware that he's one of the bastard's minions."

"Dumbledore actually wants us to associate with him?" said another not even bothering to cast Draco a glance. Draco winced. That boy acted as if Draco had some form of leprosy.

For some reason, Draco couldn't help being a little affronted by those words. Although they… were true. If Draco was not in the situation he was right now, he would have instantly flung a couple of curses their way and tell them to fuck off. However, right now Draco had a mission and it would not do well to get Potter's friend mad or suspicious.

Draco decided that now, was probably the best time to use that Veela charm of his. Truth be told, Draco never used it before. Not because he couldn't, but because the mere thought of having some veela blood in him, made him feel sick. Mudbloods were disgusting. Draco liked to forget he was one when he could.

Okay… concentrate. Clumsily attempting for the first time with the skill of a one year old child learning to walk, he tapped into his hidden veela magic. There, it should work now. Draco did not smile often, his father scorned it. So it felt odd when he twisted his lips into a smile and looked up at them with what he hoped to be kindness on his face.

"Sorry for being rude. Uh…force of habit." Draco now tried to look apologetic. For a person who usually had only three expressions on his face: anger, sneer and apathy, he had

difficulty forming his face into any other expression. He hoped he looked genuine.

No one answered him. He eyed the six Gryffindors trying to garner their reaction. Seamus and the other four boys of course looked at him with the same look of utter dislike, but a slightly dazed look flicked over their faces. Harry had a weird expression on his face and on Hermione's face, the faint look of interest began to bloom into something greater.

Hermione whispered something into Harry's ear. Harry said, "No, 'mione!" Seamus raised his eyebrow and asked, "What did she say?" Harry whispered into Seamus' ear and then a big grin broke into Seamus' face and instantly, he mumbled something back to Harry.

Draco could not stop from scowling. How irritating. They were whispering about him… with him, sitting right beside them. He strained to hear what they were saying but he could not make out anything more than low murmuring.

Suddenly, Harry look up at him and grinned, "If Dumbledore trusts you, I guess you're not half bad. Anyways, we want to invite you to our midnight meeting tonight."

"Midnight meeting?" Draco asked. Draco did not notice that Hermione had a confused expression on her face as well.

"Yeah, us seventh year Gryffindors do it all the time. It's a Gryffindor tradition. I guess a Slytherin can come too, if it's just for tonight."

"What do you do there?" Draco asked. He was genuinely curious. A Gryffindor tradition? Why hasn't he ever heard about it before?

"We play a game. You will see what I mean later tonight if you come."

"Oh. Okay." What could Draco do but accept? This time a genuine smile broke on Draco's face. Finally- operation get Harry Potter's trust was gaining some momentum. Draco decided to leave right now or else risk the chance of saying something stupid and blowing it again.

"Erm. I am going to go now." He yawned for an effect, "I should get some sleep before midnight comes else wise I don't think I will be able to stay up in the morning."

Harry raised his eyebrow, "You didn't even eat your food yet."

"I'm not all that hungry," Draco lied. He was actually famished but he guessed he could slip some food into his dorm later. Waving goodbye, Draco got up and left.

Unbeknownst to him, when Draco walked out of hearing distance, Hermione turned to Harry and punched him on his shoulder, "What 'midnight meeting'? How come I never heard of this before?"

---

As Draco made his way across the Great Hall to the exit a small Hufflepuff girl, evidently not paying much attention to where she was heading, walked right into Draco.

"Sorry," she yelled in horror as she accidentally spilled her pumpkin juice on the blond boy.

"Watch where you're going!" Draco snapped, giving her an annoyed shove. She toppled to the ground and fell on her butt with a loud, "Oof!". Draco didn't give her a second glance and merely swiped the juice off the shirt indignantly and continued to the exit- leaving behind a rather large puddle of pumpkin juice.

If Draco had bothered to look back to see if the girl was alright he probably would have notice two footprints appear in the center of the pumpkin juice. He probably would have noticed, as well, that a trail of pumpkin juice, in the shape of the footprints followed him from behind…

----

To be continued.

The really exciting stuff that was suppose to happen in this chapter was bumped to the next chapter. I decided to split "Phantom of Hogwarts" into two parts because it was just getting too long. With all the work I have right now I don't really have the time to make the chapter more longer then it already is without waiting until next week to publish it.

I said that I was going to have chapter three out by "next week" and gosh darnit, I always keep my word! :P

To make up for this "blech!" chapter, I promise chapter four will be super duper good!

And exciting to boot.

I will try to get it out by next week. :D

Special thanks to Immortal Memories, Allexandra Radcliffe, Relle, Emerald Tigriss, fghfddhgh and all those who reviewed so far!

Review!