Disclaimer: Twelve chapters, and it's still not mine? Grr...
A/N: OMG! I did it! LAST CHAPTER! (girly squeal)
No one has proof read this but me, so again, ignore my mistakes. My beta disappeared:(
"Hey, Dray! Hurry up, or we're going to be late for the feast!"
The aforementioned blonde scowled and put down his quill, subtlety tucking the letter to his parents out of sight. Blaise barged into the dorm without so much as knocking, and grinned at his annoyed friend.
"C'mon, Dray! We can't be late for our own victory party! Slytherin has won the house cup for the seventh year in a row!"
Draco scowled, "I thought I told you never to call me that."
"What?" He blinked innocently.
"You know exactly what."
"Oh, do you mean... DRAY!"
The next moment, Blaise ducked a flying textbook aimed for his head.
"Hey! You could have killed me with that!" he gasped in mock outrage, staring down at the battered copy of Hogwarts a History. That thing could have taken his head off!
"And that would be such a shame..." Draco muttered, before striding out of the dorm, Blaise right behind him.
As he walked with the boy out of the dungeons, they passed several of their housemates, all wearing triumphant expressions and smirking at random students. The entire house was reveling in the fact that Slytherin would be keeping the house cup for yet another year. Gryffindor had been in the running for a while, but they hadn't stood a chance thanks to the Golden Trio. Even the Weasley twins had never managed to lose that many points in one go!
However, despite the joyous atmosphere, Draco was the only person not caught up in the excitement. He was too preoccupied with the half-finished letter sitting up in his dorm. He had been writing his usual report to his father, who wanted to keep track of Dumbledore's activities. Draco had also hoped to get some answers.
The entire school was aware that the Sorcerer's Stone had been kept at Hogwarts, thanks to a few nosy Hufflepuffs, and that they were now short one Defense teacher. Quirrell had bypassed the stone's protections to try and steal it, but had been killed in the process. And all this was thanks to that blasted Potter.
Draco knew as much as anyone else about what had happened, but to him, something just didn't fit. He seemed to be the only one questioning it, but why would Quirrell, of all people, try to rob the castle, and not to mention Gringotts, at one point? Even if the man had been a fake from the start, he was still nowhere near powerful enough to take on someone like Dumbledore.
Being a Malfoy, it was suffice to say that his family was not the shining example of light that the half-wit minister thought they were. Lucius Malfoy had made quite a few dirty dealings in the past, and anyone who believed the Dark Lord would need to put him under the Imperius Curse was an idiot. The point, was that Draco's father was well acquainted with several practitioners of the Dark Arts, not to mention himself, so Draco knew what to look for in a powerful wizard. Quirrell may have carried traces of Dark magic, but he was not even close to having the kind of control needed to use it. People like him just didn't attempt stuff like that. At least, not without someone stronger to back them up...
Draco also kept in mind the other odd occurrences that year. Why would Dumbledore hide the stone in a school, for one thing? And why did Quirrell choose now to go after it? Also, he still hadn't forgotten the dead unicorn; who could? Quirrell must have been the one drinking its blood- and that was so not a mental picture he needed- but why? Unicorn blood was supposed to keep you alive, even if you were an inch from death, but had Quirrell been dying? For that matter, wasn't one of the stone's functions the elixir of life... It had to be for the Flamels to still be alive at over six hundred. Even wizards couldn't live that long.
It just didn't add up! Draco knew there was something Dumbledore had left out, he just didn't know what. He also had a feeling that his father might know something, but whether he would deem it necessary to inform Draco was another matter altogether.
And how in the world did Potter ever get involved? It was obvious that the Gryffindor had decided to involve himself, but why? Was it just his stupid idea of a game? Did the arrogant Boy-Who-Lived think he was invincible or something? How did he survive anyway? Even a pathetic wizard like Quirrell had to know more spells than a first year raised by Muggles. There was no way he would just give up the chance to finish the so-called embodiment of the light.
As Draco took a seat between Crabbe and Goyle in the Great Hall, he kept his expression blank, repressing the scowl that threatened to break out. It wouldn't do to stick out in the middle of his happy housemates. Inwardly sighing, Draco decided to continue his train of thought at another time. All of this was giving him a bloody headache.
Just then, the long-awaited Harry Potter walked into the hall, free at last from his isolation, and in seemingly perfect health. The boy paused inside the doors as the whole of the hall turned their gazes on him. Then a few of his Gryffindor cronies swarmed him, and pulled the grinning hero over to their table.
Draco knew not to expect his headache to go away any time soon. His body barely registered as he turned a burning glare in Potter's direction. It was just habit by now to spend each meal wishing he could walk over there and hex Potter's cheeky smile right off. To think, he still had six years to put up with the Golden Boy... Argh.
Hallie could barely keep to the slow pace that Madam Pomfrey had ordered when she left the hospital wing. She was just so happy to be out of there at last, that she couldn't help but want to take off running incase the nurse suddenly changed her mind.
Madam Pomfrey had been a complete nightmare since Hallie first woke up, and it had nothing to do with getting injured that set the woman off. She was more irritated to learn that Harry Potter was really a girl, and no one had told her. She hadn't exactly agreed with Dumbledore's reasons, either. While the old man was free to avoid the hospital wing until the mediwitch cooled off, Hallie had been forced to listen to all of her tirades, bedridden as she was.
For hours, she had lain there as Pomfrey completed her check up, hearing things like, "Can't believe the nerve of that man... didn't think it necessary to keep me informed of my own patients... could have easily learned the truth from a simple medical scan... completely preposterous... oh, no, it's not like I need to know these sort of things... it's only the students' lives that I'm put in charge of!"
It had gotten old fast. At least the nurse hadn't blamed Hallie for Dumbledore's plan. Instead, she had started in on Hallie later for doing something so dangerous as going after evil wizards. Before she let the girl go to the Leaving Feast, she had made her promise not to attempt any more foolish stunts that would land her back in the hospital wing. Hallie had agreed, but she doubted it would happen. After all, she may have missed the final Quidditch game, but next year, nothing was going to stop her from kicking Slytherin's arse.
Now Hallie was on her way to the Great Hall, looking toward the Leaving Feast with some anticipation. On the one hand, she was free of the hospital wing, Voldemort was gone, and her best friends finally knew her secret... On the other, school was over, and Hallie was heading back to another fun-filled summer with the Dursleys. Even in her head, the sarcasm in that statement was beyond obvious.
'Well,' Hallie sighed, 'might as well make the best of the time I have left...'
She finally reached the massive wooden doors, and paused to gather her bearings. From inside, she could hear the murmured din of the entire school already seated. Oh, why did she have to leave the infirmary so late?
Hallie took a deep breath, and shook out her arms as though preparing for battle. She also reached up to touch the familiar, and slightly comforting, chain of the necklace. Dumbledore had returned it to her a few hours ago, with a few modifications. It was repaired at last, although the scarlet gem still held a splintering crack down the middle. It couldn't be helped though, as Dumbledore said the jewels were hard to come by.
When the headmaster had returned it to her, he had been jolly as ever, and had happily informed her of the small tweak he had made in the spells on it. Where as before, Hallie couldn't remove the necklace for anything without unraveling the entire glamour, she could now do so freely. In other words, as she had demonstrated earlier in a mirror, by slipping the necklace over her head, Harry Potter would fade away, returning Hallie, and by putting it back on, the glamour would fade back in. The process was kind of strange to watch, but Hallie was glad for the change. It not only meant that she would be seeing a lot more of her old self, but it also eased some of her worries about the upcoming summer. After all, she couldn't imagine going back to the Dursleys as a boy. Vernon would start ranting about freaks, Petunia would faint, Dudley would laugh, and the neighbors would just be really confused. Okay, it might be funny, but it wasn't worth the time locked in her cupboard as punishment.
After handing her the repaired charm, Dumbledore had reminded her to wear it at all times in the wizarding world, and that it was still possible for it to break. As a parting comment, he had joked with her not to get in any more duels while wearing it.
Bracing herself, Hallie pushed open the heavy doors, glad for whatever magic it was that made that possible for someone her size. As soon as she stepped into the Great Hall, the first thing Hallie noticed were the silver and green banners decorating the walls, and she fought back a sneer. The second thing she noticed were the hundreds of students staring at her in absolute silence. It was uncomfortable, to say the least.
She was, thankfully, rescued a moment later, when several of her friends ran over, all loudly welcoming her back. The Weasley twins took the lead, parting the small crowd of Gryffindors, and leading her away as though they were bodyguards. Hallie laughed at their antics, and took her usual seat between Ron and Hermione, who both greeted her with a wink and a nod when they took in her masculine appearance. Both still seemed a little uncomfortable next to her, though, and tried not to show it in front of their peers. Ron flinched slightly when she bumped into him, and Hermione kicked him under the table.
The students were all seated now, and only waiting for Dumbledore's speech. Ron in particular was grumbling in sync with his stomach as he stared longingly at the empty dishes.
"Oh, Ron, give it a rest!" Hermione snapped when he sighed wistfully.
"I can't 'Mione!" he protested, clutching his abdomen. "I feel like I'm wasting away! I'm a growing boy, and I need to eat!"
"Oh, please, no boy could possibly consume as much as you do."
Ron snorted. "Yeah, well we know Harry's excuse now. He's not exactly like other guys," he pointed out, raising an eyebrow at his friend.
The comment had the affect of turning Hermione's attention away from him as she scrutinized Hallie. The other girl fidgeted nervously under the mothering glare.
"Yes, well, Harry has never eaten enough to satisfy a bird. No wonder you're so small," she tutted.
"Hermione!" Hallie blushed. So what if she didn't eat as much as everyone else? Blame her family. Food was scarce on Privet Drive with Dudley around to feed.
"So, Harry," Ron leaned forward, lowering his voice. "I guess you're wearing the... you know what?"
Hallie nodded, trying to ignore the way his eyes searched her for any trace of the necklace. "Dumbledore fixed it yesterday- Ron, give it up, you won't be able to see it."
"Oh," Hermione said in interest, "an invisibility spell? Fascinating! I wonder what kind of charm he used so it wouldn't interfere with the glamour spells...? I've read about this one-"
As Hermione rattled on about spells her less studious friends had never even heard of, Ron rolled his eyes and said, "Mental, that one."
"Do you think I could have a look at it some time?" Hermione asked eagerly.
"Sure, but you'll have to wait until no one's around. Maybe during the summer...?" she left the question hanging. Ron had already mentioned inviting her over for a few weeks, but she was unsure whether the offer still stood.
"Definitely, mate! I just have to talk to my parents, and then I'll send you an owl. You should come too, Hermione-"
"It would be nice, but it'll have to wait until I get back from France. My parents have decided to take a trip there, and I can't wait! I've read so many things about Wizarding society there. Did you know they even have a school? It's located somewhere off the coast of-"
"There she goes again," Ron muttered. "We have got to keep her away from the library next year."
"Maybe you're right," Hallie agreed, listening to Hermione go on and on. The girl didn't even notice her friends' wandering attention.
"-and then he claimed the palace in the name of France, and turned it into a sanctuary for magical children in the year- Hey! Are you two even listening to a word I've said?" Hermione asked indignantly.
Hallie and Ron froze guiltily, and shared identical looks of panic.
"Another year gone!" The Headmaster's cheerful voice rang out in the hall, saving them. Gradually, the noise in the Great Hall died away, and Dumbledore continued, arms spread wide in his joy, "Now, I'm afraid I must trouble you all with an old man's wheezing waffle before we sink our teeth into our delicious feast-"
"-What a year it has been! Hopefully, your heads are all a little more full than they were at the start of the term... and you have all of the summer to get them just as empty again!
"Now, as I understand it, the house cup needs awarding, and the points stand thus: In fourth place, Gryffindor, with three hundred and twelve points-"
The trio ducked their heads as several members of their house glowered in their direction.
"-in third, Hufflepuff, with three hundred and fifty-two; Ravenclaw had four hundred and twenty-six and Slytherin, four hundred and seventy-two."
The rest of his words were drowned out by a storm of cheering and clapping from the end of the hall. The Slytherins were already congratulating themselves, smirking at the sullen expressions of the other three houses.
Hallie was unfortunate enough to catch Draco Malfoy's eye right as another Slytherin- Zambini or something- nudged him. Seeing her stare, Malfoy joined in with the yelling, even going so far as to bang his goblet against the table. Hallie wanted to take him on right there. It was only Hermione's instinctive actions that forced her wand back into her pocket. She had already removed Ron's, which he soon realized when he reached into his robes. Luckily, no one could hear his cursing, or McGonagall would have surely taken more points.
"Yes, yes, well done, Slytherin," said Dumbledore. "However, recent events must be taken into account."
The entire student body froze. The Slytherins' smiles faded, while the other students grew a little hopeful.
"Ahem, I have a few last-minute points to dish out. Let me see..."
Hallie knew without a doubt that the old man was enjoying this. Everyone, including those up at the staff table, were on the edge of their seats with anticipation.
"First, to Mr. Ronald Weasley... for the best-played game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years, I award Gryffindor house fifty points."
Ron's jaw dropped. The Gryffindors broke out in cheers, and Ron's ears glowed as the twins thumped him on the back. Percy could be heard boasting down the table, "My brother, you know! My youngest brother! Got past McGonagall's giant chess set!"
Hallie started to wonder just how accurate the rumor mill was. How did they find out about that? She wouldn't put it past Dumbledore to say something...
As soon as the table calmed down, the headmaster spoke up, "Second, to Miss Hermione Granger... for the use of cool logic in the face of fire, I award Gryffindor house fifty points."
Hermione's face couldn't be seen past her bushy hair as she hid in her arms. Hallie was pretty sure the emotional bookworm had burst into tears. She edged away slightly, wary of the girl.
"Third, to Mr. Harry Potter..." said Dumbledore, his emphasis on the 'Mr.' going unheard by everyone but Hallie, who scowled at him.
The silence in the room was absolute.
"...for pure nerve and outstanding courage, I award Gryffindor house sixty points."
The noise that went up was deafening. Hallie wondered if her ears were bleeding yet from all the screaming. It wasn't only Gryffindor caught up in the excitement. All over, students were muttering. Gryffindor now had four hundred and seventy-two points- a tie with Slytherin. While this was cause for three-quarters of the hall to rejoice, the green and sliver table seemed less than enthusiastic. No way were they sharing the House Cup with a bunch of... Gryffindors.
'If only he had given them one less point...' was Malfoy's private thought.
'If only he had given us one more point...' came from Hallie.
Dumbledore raised his hand, and the students hushed.
"There are all kinds of courage," he began, "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends... I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom."
The Great Hall exploded; at least, that's what it felt like to the paintings hung just outside the double doors as they felt a tremor run through the castle walls.
A few third year girls burst out in tears, and a few fourth years boys in laughter. Benches scraped against the floor as people jumped up, cheering and hugging each other. The first year Gryffindors shouted the loudest. Hallie, Ron, and Hermione all stood up clapping. Several students looked toward Neville to shake his hand, but it was little too late. There was some confusion as his housemates searched for the pudgy boy. Oliver Wood finally discovered him passed out on the floor. The poor boy had fainted.
Grinning so hard that her face hurt, Hallie turned away from a whooping Ron to glance at a certain blonde. Malfoy had a look of outrage spread across his features, mirrored by most of his fellow Slytherins. Recalling the feast at the beginning of the year, Hallie waited until he had looked up to twitch her fingers in his directing, still smiling cheekily. His pale face gained twin splotches of an angry red. Hallie tried so hard not stick out her tongue childishly, and Malfoy looked a step away from just flipping her off. It was definitely the highlight of her first year at Hogwarts.
That night, Hallie collapsed on her bed, exhausted. She had thought the feast would never end! Once the House Cup was awarded, and the food appeared, things had gotten slightly uncomfortable. Hermione had seemed to be bursting with more questions, even though Hallie had explained everything she could in the hospital wing, and Ron just kept staring.
He had actually taken his focus away from dessert to observe her. Hallie had just shrugged off his curiosity as he marveled at how realistic her disguise was. He had begun poking her arm in awe and ruffling her already disastrous hair, keeping in mind what her natural appearance looked like. He was like a muggle seeing magic tricks for the first time, as he oo-ed and ahh-ed. It was when he finally went just a bit too far that Hallie snapped.
Ron had been searching for her necklace, and was a second away from groping her chest when she had growled warningly, "Touch me, and die." That had cause Hermione to choke on her pumpkin juice, and Parvati and Lavender to stop talking long enough to glance at her with wide eyes. Ron had gotten the hint and went back to his pudding with the air of a kicked puppy.
Hallie jumped when the dormitory door burst open, and the boys entered, still talking loudly about Gryffindor's triumph, and the riot that had nearly broken out at the Slytherin table. They were all protesting Dumbledore's favoritism, which was rather hypocritical of them, considering Snape gave them most of their own points, while taking away everyone else's.
"Did you see the look on Snape's face?"
"Like he had swallowed stinksap! He was sending McGonagall death glares all through dinner-"
"Yeah, well, she seemed right smug-"
Seamus and Dean guffawed as they dumped a weak-kneed Neville on his bed. The shy boy had woken up within ten minutes of fainting, only to be told that, no, it wasn't a dream, and he'd actually won points for Gryffindor. Neville was still recovering from his shock.
Ron came into the dormitory last, just in time to hear Dean's comment, and he added, "Yeah, it must have killed her to see Snape take the House Cup every year. She must be pretty relieved to have it back in her office. Think she'll go easy on us now?"
Seamus snorted as he walked over to his trunk, "Doubt it."
"Yeah, but Snape'll probably get worse!" Dean complained, and began to pull off his robes to change into a t-shirt.
Neville just shuddered from his bed. It was widely known how much he feared the Potions Master.
The boys began to change into their pajamas, although Hallie decided to wait ten minutes before she went into the bathroom to do so... at least until the room had stopped spinning. Throwing an arm over her eyes, Hallie sighed. She still wasn't completely healed, as Madam Pomfrey had tried to tell her.
Ron moved to undo his belt before he suddenly froze, his face flaming.
"Hey, what's up, mate?" Seamus asked, seeing the boy's hesitation.
"Er-" Ron's eyes flicked toward Hallie still lying on the bed. The disguised girl lifted her forearm from her face long enough to watch him stutter as he scrambled for an explanation. She snickered lightly at his expense. "I think I'm just gonna go change in the bathroom!" he finally squeaked.
The others laughed as he dodged into the side door. Seamus called after him, "Don't tell us you're getting shy now, Ron! Harry's bad enough!"
Hallie buried her face in a pillow as the others laughed. She almost felt bad for Ron. If he kept up like that, they would never let him live it down. They were used to her changing in private, figuring she was just embarrassed. Dean and Seamus had teased her about it at first, but gave up when Hallie said it was only to save her from seeing them naked. She valued her eyesight very much.
Hallie's sympathy didn't last long when she saw the red-head poke his head out of the bathroom, and clear his throat awkwardly.
"Um, Neville, could you- I forgot my-"
"Oh!" Neville rolled out of bed in realization, and grabbed some clothes from Ron's trunk, passing them to him while the other two boys fell over laughing.
"Thanks!" Ron vanished back into the bathroom.
Hallie grinned and shook her head at her friend. She knew Ron was going to have a hard time accepting that she wasn't really a boy, but while things would be awkward at first, they were still best friends. Hopefully, he would get over it soon, as it didn't seem like Hallie would be a girl again any time in the near future.
In all the commotion with the Sorcerer's Stone, final exams had seemed like the last thing Hallie needed to worry about. After all, as she had told Ron at breakfast, stopping a Dark Lord had top priority over passing first year classes any day. Just after the words had left her mouth, their resident know-it-all ran over with their test scores in hand. Hallie considered herself lucky the other girl hadn't heard anything. She sometimes thought Hermione had a sixth sense when it came to homework and rules.
Once the letter was in her hand, Hallie worried at her lip and debated not opening it at all, just saying that she did. Maybe she would be better off not knowing her grades... As they say, ignorance is bliss. Ron seemed to be of the same mind as he tried to hide the envelope under his porridge bowl. Hermione finally forced them to compromise, and open their results together on three. Hallie had nodded jerkily, while Ron gulped. Hermione had taken a calming breath with her fingers poised to tear.
1... 2... 3...
By some miracle, all three passed. Hallie had no idea how it was possible, and Ron swore they must have gotten the wrong Mr. Weasley. Hermione had shaken her head and pointed out the initial letter 'R' before his name. Ron argued, saying it looked more like a 'P.'
Either way, they had all passed fairly well for people too preoccupied with imminent danger to study, although Hermione had still managed to get in a couple hours of 'light reading' before they went down the trapdoor.
It was to no one's surprise when she came out with the highest marks in their year... and still begged for a retake. Hallie had done pretty good herself, although, personally, she didn't count Potions or History of Magic. Snape was sure to have marked her test before even looking at it, and most students knew that Binns was forced to grade on a curve. Ron's scores hadn't been half bad. They were nowhere near good enough by Percy's standards, but they were enough to keep the twins from dieing of shame. Even clumsy Neville had passed, although his talent in Herbology was what really did it. As for the other houses, Draco Malfoy could be seen strutting around the school even more than usual thanks to coming in second in their year; but what he didn't know was that Hallie had seen him sulking on occasion, and she was sure it was due to a Muggleborn beating him. Crabbe and Goyle, unfortunately, weren't going to be kicked out of school for their stupidity, but as Ron had said, there was always next year.
It was time to go... as Hermione was repeating every five minutes, shouting up the boys' staircase for her best friend to hurry. The train was going to leave in fifteen minutes, and packing his things seemed to have completely slipped Ron's mind. It was kind of sad actually, seeing as summer vacation was all he had been able to talk about lately.
From beside the enraged girl, Hallie winced, covering her ears.
"IF YOU AREN'T DOWN HERE IN TWO MINUTES, WE ARE GOING TO LEAVE YOU TO WALK BACK TO ENGLAND!"
Exactly one minute and thirty-six seconds later, Ron dashed down the stairs, nearly tripping over his own feet as he dragged the heavy trunk, and tucked a squirming Scabbers down his shirt pocket. Hermione had already turned and walked out of the portrait hole, her belongings secured on the train ahead of time.
"OY!" Ron shouted, puffing as he caught up with them. "You said I had two minutes! I still have twenty-four seconds!"
Hallie raised an eyebrow in disbelief, "You were actually counting?"
"Um, no..." he protested weakly.
Hallie snorted, and waved her wand to make both their trunks levitate. Hermione was right when she said they had to hurry... even if Hallie wasn't exactly eager to go back to Surrey. Behind her trotted Sable, long forked tail held aloof in the air. The cat had refused to even acknowledge Hallie since her first morning back from the Hospital Wing. He seemed to blame her for leaving him behind, and nearly getting herself killed. It probably didn't help that he'd had to scrounge up his own food for the three days she was unconscious. At least Sable and Hedwig seemed to have come to some kind of agreement. The owl had been bringing him dead rats each night, and Sable had stopped trying to pounce on her for entertainment.
They made it down to the boarding platform with only five minutes to spare. The Hogwarts Express chugged impatiently as the students pulled in any last-minute belongs, including the elusive Trevor, and slammed their compartment doors shut all along the train.
Hallie was delayed slightly by the appearance of Hagrid when he gave her a gift he had been putting together. She had only glanced inside the leather photo album, but what she had seen was enough to make her eyes tear up as she thanked the man profusely. She silently made a promise to herself to look at the pictures as soon as she had a moment alone. Maybe, if she was lucky, the Dursleys would ignore her for an hour or two. She'd need to smuggle a flashlight, though... the cupboard under the stairs was awfully dark.
Waving farewell, Hallie climbed into one of the compartments near the back of the train, and Ron shut the door after her. Unlike at the beginning of the year, no student limbs hung outside of the windows to say good-bye as they pulled out of Hogsmeade Station. Very few of them would actually miss their teachers, least of all Snape after he had sprung summer homework on them. Hermione would have been the only one waving tearfully if McGonagall hadn't already gone back to the castle with Dumbledore.
The trip back Kings Cross seemed to take no time at all. They were already speeding through familiar countryside when Hallie felt it had only been about fifteen minutes. To pass the time, the trio made meaningless small talk, mostly about their upcoming vacations. Hermione reminded them of her trip to France, and Ron mentioned that he would just be lazing about at home (Hermione was scandalized at the very thought) and playing Quidditch in the field behind his house. Hallie was dead serious when she told her friends that she expected her summer to be incredibly monotonous, if not highly unpleasant. She begged Ron to get her out of there as soon as possible, even if he had to kidnap her in the middle of the night to do it.
At one point, the witch pushing the food trolley arrived, and Hallie treated them all to Pumpkin Pasties. Hermione tried to protest, she wasn't one for sweets with her parents being dentists, but Ron said he would eagerly take it instead. Hermione grumbled something about him being a pig as she handed over her cake.
When they ran out of things to discuss, Ron tried to tempt Hallie into a game of chess. He had apparently gotten over his issues with the giant chess set. He claimed it wasn't so bad when the Queen was so small, and Ron now took a vindictive pleasure in decimating her fragile body while he played black.
Unfortunately, for him, Hallie had to decline. "Ron, just because I'm a girl doesn't mean I've gotten any better at that blasted game. Why do you even bother challenging me when you always win?"
"Well," Ron shrugged sheepishly, "that's the best part."
Hermione sniffed from behind her latest book.
After that, Hallie decided to go in search of the nearest bathroom and excused herself. She finally located the small side door, and stepped in, not realizing the door hadn't shut completely. She took care of her business quickly, not deeming it safe to leave her best friends alone for too long. The lull in their fights had only come with their worry for her, but now that she was better, they were bound to start up again soon.
As Hallie washed her hands in the sink, she had the urge to glance up in the mirror. She studied her reflection, bringing a hand up to her necklace uncertainly. Should she...? What if someone saw...? Her indecision only lasted a moment before Hallie impatiently tugged the chain over her neck. It became visible in her hands, and Hallie felt a tingle run through her as she she looked up.
A sigh of relief escaped her at the sight of the emerald-eyes girl in the mirror. It had only been a few days since the charms were down, but she hadn't had the chance to really check herself then. Now her eyes ran wonderingly over the small nose and smiling lips. She drank the sight in, not even able to wait until she returned to Privet Drive.
It was strange, but she looked different than she remembered. Her hair had grown a little more past her shoulders, but that wasn't it. Maybe it was the look in her eyes... The girl who hadn't known about magic or Hogwarts had always held a despairing expression on her face, resigned to a life with people who hated her. However, even with that sadness, there had been an innocence to her. Now Hallie's eyes held more knowledge. They knew what it was like to have real friends. They also knew what it was like to have enemies, and an evil creature who would stop at nothing to kill her, no matter what it took...
Hallie jumped, startled, when the bathroom door swung inward without the slightest resistance. Still caught up in thoughts of her own demise, for a moment, Hallie had the irrational thought that it was the Dark Lord come to kill her. When she caught her first glimpse of the intruder who had yet to notice her, she knew it was so much worse than old Voldy.
There was a flash of white-blonde hair, and Hallie had only a second's thought to choose a course of action. After all, here she was, the Boy-Who-Lived, dressed in Harry Potter's ratty old clothing, and gaping with the face of a young girl. Malfoy would be suspicious if he had enough time to really examine her. There just weren't that many girls in their year, and Hallie didn't look a thing like any of them.
'Oh, and let's not forget the bloody bullseye in the middle of my head! How many people can claim to have one of those?'
Just then, Malfoy's blue eyes flickered toward her, and he froze in surprise, his mind still adjusting to the fact that he had walked in on a girl. Hallie took advantage of his shock, and did the last thing she wanted to do at a time like this.
Squealing in true female fashion, Hallie shrieked and shoved Malfoy back into the hall. "EEEEEEEK! GET OUT, YOU PERVERT!"
The door slammed shut in his stunned face, the sound echoing in the corridor, along with Hallie's previous yells. Malfoy remained on the floor where he had fallen, eyes wide and uncomprehending. As his brain finally caught up with him, Malfoy's face flushed brightly, and he muttered a pointless insult before hurrying back to his compartment, trying futilely to force away any trace of his embarrassment.
Back inside the bathroom, Hallie slid to the tiled flood as she leaned against the door. Her face was burning with mortification at what she had needed to do. Groaning quietly, Hallie pulled on the necklace that had lain forgotten on the edge of the sink.
"That was way too close..."
By the time they arrived at Platform 9 3/4, Hallie was almost eager to get away from her two friends, if only for her piece of mind. She had informed them both of her near confrontation in the bathroom, and their reactions weren't completely unexpected. Ron hadn't stopped howling with mirth, a real feat since he'd had almost half an hour to get it out of his system, and Hermione hadn't stopped scolding her. The girl was furious at Hallie's recklessness, explaining in great detail exactly why Draco Malfoy was the last person they needed to find out Hallie's secret after all the trouble she and the Headmaster had gone through to keep it. Hallie agreed wholeheartedly; Malfoy would blurt out her secret to everyone from his housemates to the Minister of Magic. However, just because she understood Hermione's ire, didn't mean she enjoyed getting her own stupidity rubbed in her face... repeatedly.
"Aww, c'mon, 'Mione! Give her- er, him a break!" Ron said, finally coming to his senses. "It's not like Malfoy even saw anything, so you don't need to give Harry such a hard time!"
"Well, excuse me for being worried, Ron," Hermione said acidly, "but Harry needs to learn to be more cautious!"
"Why the hell should she? It's not like that git can do anything even if he does find out she's a-"
"Ron!" Hallie hissed warningly as they waited in the queue to pass through the barrier. People were beginning to stare. It didn't help that Hallie kept receiving random shouts of farewell, regardless of whether she could remember ever meeting each person. One girl kept winking and blowing kisses before her mothers dragged her off the platform.
"See what you've nearly done!" Hermione scowled, dropping her luggage and placing her hands on her hips.
"Well, sorry!" Ron replied hotly. "It's not like I meant to-"
"Yes, well you should be more careful, too!"
"Who died and put you in charge?" Ron asked sarcastically.
"Uh, guys?" Hallie butt in, but they ignored her.
'Figures,' Hallie shook her head in frustration. 'I knew the peace couldn't last. Couldn't they have at least waited until next September?'
"Well, someone has to be! It's not like you can be trusted with the position!"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You know exactly what it means! You never think before you open your mouth-"
"I do too!"
"One of these days-"
"GUYS!" Hallie shouted, fed up.
"WHAT?" They both turned to her, expressions frozen in annoyance.
"Are you done yet? We're holding up the line," she gestured to the growing mass of families waiting to cross the barrier. Most of them had their eyes trained on the Boy-Who-Lived, while a select few were too enthralled with the bickering children.
Hallie rolled her eyes at the pair, before grabbing both by the arm and hauling them through the brick wall. She kept her head down to avoid catching any more eyes, and didn't release them until they were past the muggle ticket booths. She finally let them go when she heard a woman's voice calling after Ron. Hallie blushed when noticed the gaggle of red heads pursuing them. Right behind them were a brunette couple, looking slightly uncomfortable around the eccentric family.
Hermione smiled brilliantly and ran over to greet her parents. Ron, on the other hand, tried to hide behind Hallie.
Mrs. Weasley finally stood in front of her, watching with hidden amusement as Hallie tried to pull Ron back in front. The plump woman smiled at Hallie and said, "Hello, you must be Harry. We've heard all about you from the twins. Ronald-" she speared the boy with a glare "-however, doesn't bother to write to his poor mother! Instead, I have to hear about you fighting trolls and You-Know-Who from Professor McGonagall! Have I taught you nothing-"
"Aww, mum..." Ron groaned quietly as the woman continued.
"Could have gotten yourself killed... Wandering the school at night..."
"I guess I'll see you later, mate," Hallie tried not to laugh at him as she picked up her trolley and Sable's carrier.
Seeing Hallie turn to go, Hermione quickly excused herself from her parents. "Hold on, Harry! I'll walk you to your car! I'll be right back mum, dad!"
"Hermione, what-" Hallie was confused when the girl grabbed her under the arm and started tugging her towards the parking lot.
"Wait for me!" Ron ducked out of his mother's grip. "I'll come, too!"
From behind him, the twins snickered. Mrs. Weasley let him go reluctantly. She seemed to agree that Hallie shouldn't be left by herself.
Ron grabbed Hallie's things, and followed Hermione's lead. Rather then head toward the parking lot, she first dragged them behind a pillar.
"Hallie, hurry up and take off the amulet!" she hissed, checking over her shoulder for anyone watching.
"Oh, yeah!" Hallie nearly smacked herself. How could she forget?
She yanked it over head while Ron stood watch, and shoved it into an oversized pocket. When Ron was sure there were enough people blocking them from his mother's sight, the trio ran outside the station, wanting to get out of there as soon as possible. It wouldn't do for another Hogwarts student to catch Harry Potter's best friends with some strange girl.
Hallie finally spotted her uncle's company car parked on the curb. Petunia and Dudley were there as well, Petunia tapping her foot impatiently, while Dudley hadn't even bothered to get out of the car. The Durselys had looked irritated just standing there, but when Hallie appeared, they seemed even more uneasy. It was obvious to Hallie that they were hoping to get home before anyone saw them and connected their perfect family with a scrawny delinquent.
Following Hallie's gaze toward the threesome, both Hermione and Ron blanched.
"Are those your- er, family?" Hermione asked, sounding awkward.
"Unfortunately," Hallie replied, her stomach sinking with every step closer to them.
"Good luck, mate," Ron said honestly.
Just then, something very good occurred to Hallie. Forget luck, she wouldn't need it!
Catching the grin blooming on her face, Ron looked confused, "What are you so happy about?"
"Oh, nothing... I just think this summer might actually be looking up."
Ron glanced back at the large, purplish man who glowered frightening at his best friend. "How do you reckon that?"
"Your relatives do seem rather unpleasant." Hermione grimaced when Dudley's piggy eyes landed on Hallie and narrowed menacingly. "They don't look the least bit happy to see you."
'Understatement of the century,' Hallie thought wryly.
"Yeah, more of a cross between furious and horrified." Ron added the last after seeing Petunia's pinched face pale. He realized why when Hallie started twirling her wand in plain sight.
"Exactly," Hallie said, feeling smug as the rest of her family noticed her 'little friend.'
Her friends exchanged glances over her head, as though worried for her sanity. Seeing this, Hallie added, "They can rant and rave all they like, but they won't dare come near me with this." Hallie flipped her wand over in the air, before catching it and tucking it through her belt loop. She smirked as Dudley ducked down under the car window.
"Har- Hallie! You know we can't use-" Hermione hissed furiously until Hallie slapped a hand over her mouth.
"Shh! Listen, 'Mione, I know that, and you know that... but they don't, and I intend to keep it that way!"
Hallie winked as they both caught on, and tipped her trunk off the trolley. Lifting up Sable's carrier, Hallie was glad she had let Hedwig fly home. Even with the threat of magic, she knew the Dursleys would not appreciate her new pets.
Waving good-bye to her friends, Hallie dumped her things in the trunk, ignoring the way her uncle loomed over her impatiently. She then hopped in the back, loving the way Dudley cowered and tried to put as much space between them as possible. It wasn't easy as he took up at least two-thirds of the seat. Petunia opened her mouth to complain when she saw Hallie place Sable in her lap. She quickly shut her mouth, though, when Sable's innocent appearance was banished by his flashing red eyes. How could Hallie have ever found that talent annoying? It was bloody brilliant!
As the car pulled into the midday traffic, Hallie leaned back in her seat and relaxed. For the first time she could remember, she was actually eager to get back to Privet Drive.
'This summer is going to be so much fun,' Hallie thought wickedly.
Just then, the wand at her side sparked, causing Vernon to jerk the wheel, Petunia to shriek, and Dudley to whimper.
REVIEW IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE SEQUEL!
Seriously, I want to know what you guys thought of this chapter. I meant to get it out before Monday, but I'm having some beta trouble. She's vanished. So, any takers for the temporary position? I'm already thinking of someone, but I have to ask them.
Anyway, I hope you guys liked this. It came out longer than I thought it would, like my chapters usually do, because I added in a little more humor. How many of you liked that thing with Malfoy in the bathroom? I came up with that at the last minute. I hope the end was okay too. I didn't want to leave you hanging, but I also didn't want it to just keep going on and on...
I'm so happy I finished this! I get to start the sequel now, and I already know what I'm going to do! If you have any ideas of what you want to see, though, I'm open to suggestions. Oh, and here's the next title, just to get you excited:
"Hallie Potter: Secrets Revealed"