He could definitely hear sobbing.

His first thought had been 'Myrtle' but this didn't sound like Moaning Myrtle as whoever was crying was clearly trying to stifle the noise. Unable to sleep he was, yet again, wandering late at night through the darkened school. Quietly he headed down the dark hall towards the sound and was surprised to discover that it was coming from overhead. He slipped off his invisibility cloak and pocketed it. 'Who's there?' he whispered loudly.

'Greg . . . Gregory is that you?'

As the moon came out from behind a cloud he could see the outline of a young girl perched on the narrow ledge of one of the high windows. 'One of the first years' he thought. She was shaking visibly and as he watched she finally lost her grip or her balance and fell. There was no time to shout the words but Harry was a powerful wizard, his intention was clear and her fall slowed perceptibly. Even so she hit the stone floor hard. There was a grunt of pain followed by a sudden indrawing of breath followed by several more sharp breaths as the child tried not to cry. Harry dropped to his knees beside her. 'Are you ok?' He reached out toward the huddle of dark robes. At his touch she began to struggle to her feet. Harry helped her. 'Are you hurt?'

Eventually she regained some sort of control. 'M'fine' she muttered. 'Bloody, bloody Gryffindors.'

Harry froze. 'What happened?' he asked softly.

'My wand's . . . hic . . . in the opposite window.'

'Accio wand.' Harry held the wand out toward the shadowy mass beside him. A pale hand emerged and took it.

'What happened?' he asked again.

'I got lost and they found me.'

'But why?'

'As if they need a reason!' She wiped her face on her robe. 'I suppose they leave Ravenclaws alone.'

Harry didn't know how to deal with the first thing she'd said so he addressed the second. 'You think I'm a Ravenclaw?'

'More likely than a Hufflepuff to be out breaking rules. Hufflepuffs are ok, though. I wouldn't mind being in Hufflepuff.'

'Who were they?' he asked; anger growing coldly within him as the small Slytherin shivered beside him.

'Doesn't matter.'

'Of course it bloody matters.'

'Their word against mine,' she said tiredly.

'And mine,' said Harry.

'I can deal with it. Look they're Gryffindors. Make a fuss and somehow it'll end up as my fault and I've already got detentions queued up until the middle of the week after next. Leave it. Is there a way back to the Dungeon that doesn't involve those bloody moving stairs?'

'Yes,' said Harry, mentally tracing a route down through the castle's fixed staircases, 'but it's a bit of a long way round.'

'I've been on that third floor corridor five times today. Is it longer than that?'

'Ok,' said Harry evenly 'this way.' For a while they walked in silence through darkened corridors.

'You believe that?' demanded Harry. 'You think that because they're Gryffindors they'd just be allowed to get away with it?

'Yes.' Her voice was barely audible.

'What makes you think so?'

They had traversed a corridor and climbed a short set of stairs before she replied. 'Ok. The first year Harry Potter came to this school, Slytherin won the cup right?'

'I remember,' said Harry. In his memory the green and silver flags hanging in the Great Hall changed to scarlet and gold.

'And then Dumbledore gave them enough points for Gryffindor to win.'

'You don't think the points were deserved?'

'I didn't say that. Perhaps they were.' They walked again in silence until she continued. 'What I meant was that Slytherin didn't deserve that.'

'What didn't Slytherin deserve?'

'Mockery. We were allowed to believe that we had won and then it was taken away. A lot of people worked hard for that. What was the point if the Headmaster was just going to overturn the whole thing at the last minute? If people aren't allowed to win within the system why should they even try?'

'Last year,' said Harry, 'Umbridge gave Slytherin . . . '

'Same thing,' she broke in. 'That was wrong but a lot of people just thought it was our turn.'

'Stop!' whispered Harry and his companion froze. 'Someone's coming.' They took refuge behind a bench in an alcove and waited. It was Filch, fortunately without his cat. Harry considered slipping his cloak around them both but he suspected that that would have been the same as announcing his name and he wasn't sure how she'd react. Instead he crouched silently beside the little Slytherin until Filch was a safe distance away. He wondered who she'd thought he was. 'Who's Gregory?'

'Gregory Goyle. He's nice.' They scrambled out from behind the furniture.

Well that was news to Harry. 'Big kid?' he said neutrally.

'Yes.' Harry waited. 'Apparently fourth years are always assigned detention looking out for first years, only he could never remember if he had detention or not so he just got into the habit. At least that's what he says. I think he just likes doing it. He reads bedtime stories only he says they're far too horrible so he keeps changing them. He's really, really funny. And he always checks that everyone's back safe in Slytherin. So he's probably looking for me.'

'How long were you up in that window?' asked Harry.

'Since after supper. I'd left something in the library and went back to get it. We were warned to stick together but, unfortunately, I tend to get distracted in the library so they didn't wait for me.' They had come to a junction. 'Which way now?'

'This way. I'm Harry by the way.'

He heard something that sounded like "Letisha Fortinbras".

'Pardon?'

'Letisha Fortinbras or "Tish", and please don't say "Bless you" or I shall be forced to add you to my list.'

'List?'

'Of persons who will be subjected to Official Harassments when I'm Minister of Magic.'

Harry thought about that. 'Really?'

'No. Even though I can actually imagine things more boring and I'd enjoy disposing of Fudge: the patronising prat.'

'Oh?' murmured Harry. 'Precisely what had you in mind?

'Well,' he could hear the smile in her voice, 'a few years reconciling Auror Expenses should do the trick. Those forms are killer.'

In the darkness Harry grinned. 'How d'you know that?' he asked.

'My aunt's an Auror. Mehitabel Fortinbras. She's brilliant. I stay with her sometimes. My dad was an Auror too.'

'So much for evil Slytherins' thought Harry'Is that what you want to be?'

'No.' There was a pause and then she whispered 'Promise you won't laugh?'

'Course not.'

'Promise?'

'I promise.' They descended another flight of stairs.

'I want to be an Unspeakable. I want to find out why we can do magic and Squibs and Muggles can't.' She glanced sideways at him. 'You won't tell anyone?'

'I won't tell anyone,' promised Harry. Ahead he could see the lights of the entrance hall. She would have no problem from there.

'I'd like to find a way so that they could do magic too. Then we wouldn't have to hide.'

This wasn't a possibility that had ever occurred to Harry and for a few moments he was unable to formulate a reply. 'You can't have told your housemates that?' he said eventually.

'Actually I did. And then Professor Snape said that some families regard intelligence as a sign of poor breeding, so most of them thought it was a joke. If it's possible, it certainly won't be easy.'

'Ambition'said Harry as they emerged into the light of the Entrance Hall, 'the mark of the Slytherin.'

'And cunning. Oh, now I see where we are.' She turned towards him 'Thanks Ha . . . oh no . . .' She had clearly recognised the infamous Harry Potter.

'And cunning,' confirmed Harry smiling, 'although you might want to work on that.' He held out his hand. 'Goodnight Tish.'

After a moment her warm fingers touched his. 'Goodnight Harry.' A genuine if slightly rueful smile accompanied this before she slipped away though the doorway that lead down to the dungeons. Harry pulled the Marauder's Map from his pocket and watched as, in the Slytherin Common Room; "Laetitia Fortinbras" was briefly met by "Gregory Goyle" before heading for the Slytherin girls' dormitories.

'So gruesome Gregory Goyle reads little kids bedtime stories,' he thought 'without the nasty bits'. For some reason this both amused and saddened him. As he headed back toward Gryffindor Tower, he wondered if the hat might not be right.