September 1, 1972

An eleven-year-old girl dragged her trunk toward the scarlet train. The throng closed around her as she struggled with the heavy trunk. Three boys watched her for a moment until the girl kicked her trunk and sat on the lid. One boy ran his hand through his light brown hair as several people walked around her and her trunk. She flipped her waist length brown hair over her shoulder as three Slytherins laughed. One of the dark haired boys glared at the Slytherins as the girl rummaged through the red bag slung over her shoulder. One of the Slytherins kicked her trunk as he passed it. The other dark haired boy growled low in his throat.

"She looks like she could use some help. Wait here." The brown haired boy walked over to the girl and knelt before her. "Remus Lupin at your service, miss." Remus extended his hand and pulled the girl to her feet.

"Thank you." The girl wiped the tears from her grey eyes. "I'm Veronica Croft."

"Where are your parents?" Remus looked around the crowd. "Are they parking their car?"

"They dropped me off." Veronica stared at her feet.

"They didn't want to see you off, did they?" Remus placed a hand on her shoulder as he pulled out a pale blue handkerchief and handed it to her.

Veronica took the handkerchief and wiped the tears from her cheeks. "They had better things to go and do."

"They are fools." Remus snarled low in his throat as he glared at the barrier to the Muggle train station. "Let me get my friends. We'll help you move this trunk." Remus turned to both dark haired boys and waved them over. "James, Sirius, come help me with her trunk."

"Sure, Remus." James Potter wove his way through the crowd. He took Veronica's hand and bowed over it. "James Potter luggage carrier."

Veronica giggled slightly. "Veronica Croft damsel in distress."

Sirius Black gave a bark of laughter. "I'm Sirius Black."

"Seriously, Sirius, it's nice to meet you." Veronica smiled slightly.

"You can let go of her hand, James." Sirius playfully punched James's shoulder.

Remus knelt to grip one of the handles on the trunk. "We'll miss the train if we don't hurry guys."

James and Sirius gripped the other handle while Veronica gripped the handle with Remus. Together they managed to carry the heavy trunk onto the train and into an empty compartment. Veronica sighed deeply as James and Remus lifted the trunk into the overhead compartment.

"Thank you, gentlemen. I didn't know how I was going to get that thing onto the train." Veronica dropped into one of the plush seats. "You're more than welcome to join me."

"We'd love to. Wouldn't we, guys?" Remus turned to James and Sirius.

"Let's go and get our trunks." Sirius smiled softly before he stepped into the corridor.

"We'll be right back." James followed Remus and Sirius out of the compartment.

Veronica leaned against the window and closed her eyes. A tall, pale, dark haired boy stepped into the compartment as Veronica folded her hands in her lap.

"Excuse me. Is this seat taken?" He watched as Veronica's grey eyes flew open.

She turned to the boy. "Well, um, yes, it is, I guess." She stared at the boy for a moment. "James, Remus, and Sirius went to get their trunks."

"Oh." The boy bowed slightly as he turned from Veronica. "Sorry to have disturbed you."

"You're more than welcome to join us. There's plenty of room." Veronica motioned to the seat across from her.

"Not for all the Galleons in the world." The boy started out the door as James, Remus, and Sirius lugged their trunks down the corridor.

"Snape." James narrowed his grey eyes at the boy.

"Potter." Severus Snape narrowed his dark eyes at James.

"What are you doing in there?" James watched as Veronica stuck her head out the door.

"I was hoping to find an empty seat with some enjoyable company." Severus glanced back at Veronica. "I guess I was wrong."

"I guess so." Sirius snarled low in his throat as James cracked his knuckles menacingly.

Severus sidled out of the compartment as Remus dragged his trunk to the door.

"What was he doing in here?" James turned to Veronica. "Was he bothering you?"

"I believe he just told you that he was hoping to find an empty seat with some enjoyable company." Veronica's grey eyes flashed violet as James and Sirius slammed their trunks into the overhead compartment.

"He's a Slytherin. You know as in one of the idiots that kicked your trunk out there on the platform." James flopped into the seat across from Veronica.

"That doesn't mean that you need to be cruel to him." Veronica continued to glare at James as the platform fell away from the window.

"Like he won't be cruel to you when it suits him." James mumbled under his breath as he turned to Sirius.

"I heard that." Veronica rolled her flashing violet eyes as she surged to her feet. "You are worse than he is in the way you treat people. You need to get it through your thick skulls that many people aren't as bad as you make them out to be." Veronica swayed as the train moved along the tracks. "Now if you'll excuse me, I think I need to take a walk."

Remus started to his feet as Veronica weaved past him and Sirius. "I'll go with you."

"Not necessary. I'd rather be alone right now." Veronica growled as she turned to Remus. "Perhaps you should stay here and teach your friends some manners." Veronica stalked out of the compartment.

James stared after her. "How much do you want to bet that she won't be in Gryffindor? I mean look at what she is sticking up for."

"I happen to think she will." Remus chuckled to himself as he settled back in his seat. "She seems to have a big heart and a quick mind. I mean she stood up to you."

James glared at Sirius as he let out a bark of laughter. "Not funny, Black."

"She's different from everyone else in First Year." Sirius leaned back in his seat. "She doesn't show a lot of confidence in herself and yet she'll stand up for a slimeball like Snape."

"She probably thinks that there is good in all people." Remus crossed his legs.

"I still say she needs her head examined." James crossed his arms and continued to silk in his seat.

Meanwhile, Verona stomped down the corridor and passed several full compartments. Severus stepped out the door of one of the compartments and started to follow her. Veronica flipped her soft brown hair over her shoulder. She turned and glanced out one of the windows. The scenery passed swiftly as Veronica heaved a deep sigh. Severus waved as she turned away from him. She slowly moved down the corridor. A loud crack filled the air as Severus watched a tall pale man appear in the middle of the corridor behind Veronica. She turned and glanced out another window. She gasped as she saw the reflection of a man with shoulder length silvery blonde hair and a pale pointed face. She watched the man as Severus quietly made his way down the corridor toward them. Finally Veronica turned and faced the man.

"What do you want?" Veronica watched as the man withdrew his wand from a pocket within his robes.

"The Dark Lord wants you." The man pointed his wand at Veronica.

"Look out!" Severus started to run toward them.

"Stupefy!" A beam of red light shot out of the end of the man's wand and hit Veronica in the chest.

"NOOOO!" Veronica's scream floated through the doorway of her compartment.

James, Remus, and Sirius dropped the Exploding Snap cards as they jumped to their feet. They rushed out into the corridor. Remus passed several compartments as the doors slid open. He skidded to a stop. James and Sirius slammed into his back as they also skidded to a halt behind him. On the floor less than five feet in front of them lay Veronica. She was deathly pale as the crowd gathered around her and the auburn haired girl kneeling next to her. James glanced around the gathering crowd and saw Severus pushing his way through from the opposite side. Remus shoved several people from Veronica's still form and knelt beside her. He carefully lifted her head onto his lap. He looked up at the auburn haired girl.

"What happened, Lily?" Remus moved a lock of Veronica's soft hair from her eyes.

"I'm not sure." Lily Evans glanced at the crowd around them. "She was already on the floor when I got here."

"Does anyone know what happened to her?" James glared at the crowd still gathering around them.

"Someone stunned her." Severus spoke over the din the crowd was making. "I watched as she tried to stop him but he got her first."

"YOU!" Sirius started toward Severus. "You did this because she's friends with us."

"Not likely." Severus pulled out his wand and pointed it at Sirius. "If I had wanted to hurt her, I would have done so in front of you." Severus glanced down at Veronica. "The person who did this Disapparated as soon as she screamed and fell."

"Why should we believe you?" Remus looked up from Veronica as Severus shoved several people to one side.

"Because I saw her walk by my compartment. I stepped out to talk to her and explain why I didn't want to stay with the 'Amazing Trio'. I tried to get her attention and that's when I saw a man with silvery blonde hair. She half-turned and looked out the window." Severus knelt beside Remus, Lily, and Veronica. "She saw him and turned to face him. I don't know what was said but that's when he stunned her. When she screamed was when he Disapparated. I tried to get to her first but the corridor was filling up by then. That's when you three came running down the corridor."

"I believe you." Remus gently scooped Veronica into his arms. "We need to get her to an adult. She needs help."

"If you would place her back on the floor, I'll revive her." A woman stepped from the crowd behind them as she pulled out her wand. "Ennervate."

Veronica gasped as the witch put her wand away. "Where's that man?"

"What man, my dear?" The witch placed a hand on Veronica's shoulder.

"The one that yelled Stupefy." Veronica gripped Remus' hand as he pulled her to her feet.

"Back to your compartments. All of you." The witch waved her hands. "Now the four of you boys had best be getting her back to her compartment and let her sit down."

"Yes, ma'am." Remus wrapped an arm around Veronica's waist. He turned to Lily. "Thanks for your help, Lily."

"You're welcome, Remus." Lily accepted James' hand to pull her to her feet.

Remus and Severus half carried Veronica back to the compartment. Veronica sank gratefully into her seat as Severus tried to slip between James and Sirius. Sirius pointed at one of the seats and Severus sank into it. Remus held Veronica's hand as the witch stepped into the compartment

"Is there anything that you need, my dear?" The witch leaned over Veronica.

"No, ma'am." Veronica closed her eyes as the witch motioned the boys over to the door.

"Good." The witch turned to the four boys. "I want the four of you to look after her for the rest of the trip."

The boys nodded as the witch left the compartment. They looked at each other and turned to look at Veronica.

"I'll be in my compartment if you need me." Severus turned and left the compartment.

"Why would anyone want to hurt me?" Veronica opened her eyes and stared at Remus, James, and Sirius. "What have I done to anyone?"

"We'll find out what's going on, Veronica." Remus sank into the seat beside Veronica and pulled her into his arms. "I promise."

James picked up a Chocolate Frog from the seat. "Here, eat this. It'll make you feel better."

Veronica opened the Chocolate Frog and took a bite. "This is pretty good."

"I'm glad you like it." Sirius watched as Veronica snuggled closer to Remus.

James and Sirius looked at each other as Veronica drifted off to sleep.

"Looks like someone will have a cute girlfriend before the end of the year." James dug into his container of Bettie Bott's Every Flavor Beans.

"Sod off, James." Remus blushed slightly as he laid Veronica's head onto his lap. "Sirius, could you get my cloak out?"

"Sure, Remus." Sirius quickly located Remus' cloak and laid it over Veronica's prone form as James moved her legs onto the seat.

"Let's play a game of chess, James." Remus adjusted the cloak over Veronica.

"I'll get the board." James rummaged through his trunk and pulled out a chessboard and chess pieces.

Half a dozen games and several hours later, Veronica opened her eyes and watched as James' knight was chased off the board by Sirius' queen.

"Check!" Sirius released a bark of laughter.

"We'll see." James concentrated on the board.

Veronica stifled a giggle as Sirius watched James make a mistake with his move. Remus felt Veronica's silent laughter shaking her body and looked down at her. He smiled as she glanced up at him. She placed a finger to her pink lips. They both turned back to the chess game as Sirius made his move.

"Checkmate!" Sirius jumped to his feet and began his victory dance. "I won! I got one up on you, James!"

"Being a sore winner?" Veronica sat up and stretched. "You should know better."

"How long have you been awake?" James watched as she handed Remus his cloak.

"Long enough to watch as Sirius trounced you into the dust." Veronica placed her feet onto the floor.

"I'm never going to live that down, am I?" James bowed his head.

"We'll see." Veronica climbed to her feet and opened her trunk. She pulled out her robes and let the lid drop back into place.

"Where are you going?" Sirius stopped laughing as Veronica picked up her red bag.

"To the loo." Veronica moved to the door. "I'm going to change into my robes of you don't mind."

"I'll go with you." James climbed to his feet and pulled his robes from his trunk.

Veronica rolled her eyes as James followed her out into the corridor. James extended his arm and Veronica wove hers through it.

"You don't have to do this." Veronica smiled as they passed several other students in the corridor.

"Yes, I do." James stopped before the girl's loo. "I'll be right back. I should be here by the time you get done."

"Okay." Veronica stepped into the girl's loo.

Several girls turned around as the door closed behind her. One of the girls stepped forward and extended her hand.

"Hi. I'm Lily Evans." Lily took Veronica's hand and pulled her over to the other girls. "This is Emma Radcliffe, Jessica Stone, and Patricia Bloom."

"I'm Veronica Croft." Veronica shook their hands. "Is it okay if I change in here?"

"Sure." Lily turned as two other girls stepped into the loo.

"Well." One of the girls crossed her arms. "We can't use this one, Bellatrix. It's full of Mudbloods and blood traitors."

Bellatrix Black laughed as Lily and Veronica pulled out their wands. "Yes, Narcissa. We wouldn't want to contaminate ourselves."
"Get out, Narcissa, Bellatrix." Lily slowly raised her wand.

"Not to worry, Lily." Narcissa Black flipped her pale blonde hair over her shoulder. "Let's go, Bellatrix."

Narcissa and Bellatrix left the loo. Lily's hand shook as she lowered her wand. Emma and Patricia helped Lily to a bench as Veronica filled a glass with water and handed it to Lily.

"Are you okay?" Veronica knelt before Lily.

Lily sipped the water. "I'm fine. Narcissa and Bellatrix are sixth and seventh years. Thank God we only have to put up with them for no more than two years."

"Yeah." Emma pulled her robes over her head. "We just need to remember the up and coming Slytherins.

Veronica nodded as she climbed to her feet. She pulled her robes over her head as Lily pulled a brush through her auburn hair. Veronica rummaged through her red bag and pulled out a brush. Patricia took the brush from Veronica and pushed her onto the bench.

"Let me braid your hair." Patricia pulled the brush through her hair.

"That's not necessary. I prefer it down." Veronica watched as Patricia began to plait her hair.

"That must be really hot." Lily watched as Patricia rummaged for a hair ribbon.

"Not really. I get to do a lot with my hair that most people can't." Veronica shrugged her shoulders.

"There. I'm done." Patricia handed Veronica her brush. "A little mascara and lip-gloss would really help."

"I'll get it." Emma rummaged through her bag. "Here, Lily. You're hands are the steadiest."

Lily quickly applied the mascara and lip-gloss. "No boy will be able to resist you now. Especially Gryffindors."

"There's only one that I don't want to resist me." Veronica blushed slightly.

"Oh!" Lily sat next to Veronica. "Who?"

"Let us guess!" Emma sank to the floor. "Sirius Black?"

"Who would want him?" Patricia rolled her eyes. "I mean sure he's funny but no one can compare to James Potter."

"What girl wouldn't want to date Peter Pettigrew?" Jessica waved a hand in front of her face.

"Me." Veronica smiled slightly. "Besides you're all wrong. It isn't any of them."

"I know." Lily tapped her lips lightly. "It must be Remus Lupin."

The blush on Veronica's cheeks deepened slightly as she nodded. "That's the one."

"I knew it!" Lily smiled broadly. "Do you want me to find out how he feels about you?"

"No! Please don't tell him that I like him." Veronica jumped to her feet.

A knock sounded on the door. "Are you finished in there, Veronica?"

"Coming, James!" Veronica turned to Lily, Emma, Patricia, and Jessica. "Not a word to anyone?"

"We promise." Lily crossed her heart. "We'll see you at the Welcoming Feast. Hope you get into Gryffindor."

Veronica waved her hand over her shoulder as she stepped out of the loo. "Hey, James." Veronica sighed as giggles followed her out into the corridor. "Sorry I took so long."

James glanced at Veronica and did a double take. "Wow! What a difference!"

"You think so?" Veronica blushed slightly.

James nodded and quickly swallowed. "I wonder what Remus and Sirius are going to think."

"Nothing bad I hope." Veronica adjusted her robes.

James stepped into the compartment and Veronica followed him. Remus and Sirius barely glanced up from the chessboard until the male pieces bowed low when they saw Veronica.

"What's with these pieces, James?" Sirius growled as he tried to get his knight to move. "Have you got them bewitched to do something silly every time you enter the room?"

"They only do that when they see a lady enter the room." James sank into his seat.

"A lady? Ha!" Sirius prodded his knight into action. "There's no lady in this room."

Remus glanced over at Veronica standing in the doorway and did a double take. "Try again." He climbed to his feet and bowed before Veronica. He tried to hit Sirius. "Get up, Sirius."

Sirius got the idea and looked up at Veronica. "Wow! Who's the babe!"

"Men!" Veronica flounced past Sirius and sat in her seat.

"I don't believe it!" Sirius slapped his forehead. "Veronica, you look awesome! Absolutely fabulous!"

"Who was in the loo with you?" Remus kissed Veronica's hand.

"Lily Evans, Emma Radcliffe, Jessica Stone, and Patricia Bloom." Veronica lowered her head as she blushed slightly.

"Good going, Gryffindors!" James gave Sirius a high five.

A deep booming voice echoed through the train. "We will be arriving at the station in five minutes. Please leave your trunks on the train. They will be taken care of."

"Another year about to begin." Sirius yawned. "At least I'll be able to catch up on my sleep.

"What are the professors like?" Veronica opened her trunk and shoved her red bag in.

"Most of them are really nice." Remus tapped his cheek as Sirius stifled a laugh.

James stood up as the train began to slow down. "Come on. We need to start to the exit."

Veronica climbed to her feet as Remus made sure that the latches were closed on the trunks. Sirius stretched as he stood.

"May I escort you, my lady?" Sirius extended his arm to Veronica.

Veronica smiled softly as she wove her arm through Sirius' arm. Remus and James led the way into the crowded corridor. They quickly made their way off the train onto the darkened platform.

"Firs' years! Firs' years this way!" A deep gravely voice floated through the din the crowd of students was making.

Veronica stared at the owner of the voice. His long wiry black hair and beard terrified her. She shivered slightly as James, Sirius, and Remus led her over to the man.

"Sirius, do I have to go with him?" Veronica tightened her grip on Sirius' arm.

"You're not afraid of Hagrid, are you?" Sirius patted Veronica's hand as she nodded slightly. "He wouldn't hurt a fly."

"Hiya, James, Remus, Sirius." Hagrid clapped a ham-sized hand on James' shoulder and James nearly fell to the floor. Hagrid turned to Veronica. "This here must be Veronica Croft."

James nodded as Veronica tried to hide behind Sirius. "Hagrid will be taking you to the castle. We'll see you later."

"Don't leave me here." Veronica tightened her grip on Sirius.

"You'll be okay, Veronica." Hagrid placed a hand on Veronica's shoulder as James, Remus, and Sirius walked away from them.

"Come on, Veronica." Hagrid's ham-sized hand engulfed Veronica's petite one. He waved his lantern in his other hand. "Firs' years this way! Firs' years!"

The rest of the First Years gathered around Hagrid. He led them through a curtain of ivy and they climbed into the boats. Hagrid picked up Veronica and placed her in the lead boat. He climbed in behind her. The boats sailed across the vast lake. Veronica shivered slightly as a cold breeze whipped past her. Hagrid wrapped his moleskin coat around her as she leaned back against his chest. Together they watched as the castle came into view.

"Oh, Hagrid, it's so beautiful!" Veronica sighed deeply as she heard Hagrid chuckle low in his throat.

"More than you know." Hagrid climbed from the boat.

He helped Veronica from the boat as the other first years climbed from their boats. Hagrid led them up several flights of stairs as he held Veronica's hand and kept her close. They finally stood before an ancient oak door. As all the first years gathered around Hagrid, he knocked on the door. The door swung open to reveal a severe looking woman.

"Thank you, Hagrid." The woman ushered the students through the door and noticed that Veronica hadn't left Hagrid's side. "You must be Miss Croft." Veronica felt her head nod. "Good. Professor Dumbledore would like to speak to you after the feast." Veronica nodded as she took the woman's hand. The woman led her into the small chamber. "Before you are seated with the other students, you must first be sorted into one of the four Houses. The Houses are Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin." She moved to the door. "You will wait here for a moment." She stepped through the door.

Whispers filled the chamber as Veronica stared at her feet. Her head jerked up when she heard her name.

"Yeah. It's kind of strange that Croft is getting all the attention."

"First she was attacked. Then she gets to ride in the lead boat with that guy. Now that woman is being nice to her. I wonder what is going on."

Veronica stepped through the students to the complainers. "Look. I don't know who you are but I don't appreciate being talked about." Veronica's eyes flashed violet with anger. "So you think that I asked to be attacked?" One of the complainers started to nod but Veronica cut him off. "Well, think again. I didn't ask for the attack or the attention. The only reason I can see for it is that they don't want anything to happen to me or anyone else. Also that man that brought us across the lake is called Hagrid." Veronica glared at the complainers for another moment before she turned and walked back to the door.

The door swung open and the woman stepped back into the room. The whispering stopped as they followed her out of the room. Veronica glanced up at the ceiling. She stared at the cloudless night that was echoed on the ceiling. Veronica stood at the back of the group as they waited for their names to be called. A stool stood in the middle of the raised dais. On the stool sat an old frayed hat.

"You'll come forward as I call your name. You will then place the Sorting Hat on your head." The woman picked up the Hat. "Let us begin." She began to read her list. "Abernathy, Anthony."

A small blonde haired boy calmly walked to the stool and placed the Sorting Hat on his head. It fell past his ears and covered his eyes. A rip near the rim opened and formed a mouth.

"Slytherin!" The rip closed as Anthony took the Hat from his head and placed it back on the stool.

Anthony's eyes met Veronica's and she recognized one of the two complainers. Anthony smirked as he made his way to the Slytherin Table.

"Bones, Arnold."

"Hufflepuff!"

"Coulter, Brinkley."

"Gryffindor!"

"Croft, Veronica."

Veronica jumped slightly as she heard her name. She slowly made her way to the stool and the Sorting Hat. She picked up the hat and placed it on her head.

"Interesting. Very interesting. You don't wish to be a burden on the parents who created you but you have a thirst to prove yourself capable in all things. You stand up for what you believe in. You are terrified of failing but will help all others to succeed. Therefore you must go into… GRYFFINDOR!"

Veronica took the Hat from her head and placed it on the stool. She quickly walked to the Gryffindor Table and sat next to James. Remus shook her hand as Sirius clapped her on the shoulder. Veronica placed her head on her arms.

"Are you alright?" James placed a hand on her back.

"Just terrified is all." Veronica lifted her head from the table and glanced at James, Remus, and Sirius. She noticed a blonde haired boy sitting next to Sirius. "You guys will help me, won't you?"

"We'll all help. Oh yeah. Veronica, this is Peter Pettigrew." Sirius turned to Peter Pettigrew. "Peter, this is Veronica Croft. She'd the one we told you about."

"Good to meet you." Peter extended his hand. "Sorry about not being on the train but my mom wanted to visit Hogsmeade yesterday so we stayed the night at the Three Broomsticks."

"That's okay." Veronica turned to James and Remus. "Could either of you tell me about the ceiling?"

"Why couldn't I tell you?" Sirius frowned slightly.

"Because you make fun of everything." Veronica stuck out her tongue.

"How childish." Sirius rolled his eyes.

"Why thank you." Veronica turned to Remus. "Going to answer my question?"

"It's enchanted so that it is exactly like the sky outside." Remus leaned across James.

"Do you just want to switch seats, lover boy?" James rammed his elbow into Remus' ribs.

"Sure." Remus waited for James to stand up and scooted over. "We should be starting soon."

"Okay." Veronica turned to the Staff Table. She watched as an old man stood up. "Who's that?"

Remus turned toward the Staff Table. "Oh. He's Dumbledore."

"Please bear with me for a moment. I know that many of you are hungry but there are a few matters of importance that must be dealt with first." Albus Dumbledore watched as the students turned to face the Staff Table. "One of your fellow students was attacked on the train this evening. I'm sure many of you are wondering what is going on." He glanced around the room at the nodding heads of the students. "I cannot explain what is going on but I must tell you that you must be alert for anything strange." Dumbledore heaved a deep sigh. "Please let the teachers or myself know if you see anyone or anything unusual." Dumbledore sat in his seat. "Now let's eat."

Veronica glanced down at her golden plate. The plate filled with food and Veronica gasped. Everyone began reaching towards the platters of food. Slowly they began to reach the limits of their stomachs. The prefects began to lead the Houses to their common rooms.

"Coming, Veronica?" James stretched as he climbed to his feet.

"No. I need to speak to Dumbledore." Veronica slowly climbed to her feet. "I'll meet up with you later." She waved to James, Remus, Sirius, and Peter as they left the Great Hall.

Veronica started toward the Staff Table and stumbled slightly. A hand grabbed her waist. Veronica struggled against the hand.

"Now stop that." Veronica felt herself being placed on her feet.

She glanced behind her and saw Severus. "Oh. Hi."

"Hello. I never introduced myself on the train." Severus bowed slightly. "Severus Snape."

"Veronica Croft." Veronica smiled slightly. "I'd love to stay and chat but I really need to speak to Professor Dumbledore."

"Of course." Severus bowed again. "Be careful, okay?"

"Sure." Veronica made her way to the Staff Table.

Dumbledore motioned to the chair next to him. Veronica lifted the hem of her robes as she climbed the steps of the dais and sank into the chair.

"You wanted to speak to me, Professor." Veronica stared at her hands.

"Yes, Miss Croft." Dumbledore climbed to his feet. "I'll be just a moment." Veronica watched as he ushered the rest of the teachers from the Staff Table. He sat back in his chair. "How did you enjoy your meal?"

"It was fine, Professor." Veronica picked at her robes. "What did you want to speak to me about, sir?"

"Of course." Dumbledore folded his hands in his lap. "What can you tell me about the man on the train?"

"He was pale with silvery-blonde hair and a pointed face. I think his eyes were a steely grey but I'm not sure. He carried himself as if he were very cultured."

"Did he say anything?"

"Yes, sir. He said, 'The Dark Lord wants you.' Then I was hit with a jet of red light."

"Interesting."

"Do you know who he was, sir?"

Dumbledore heaved a deep sigh. "No, I don't know." He pressed the tips of his fingers together. "There is only one thing I do know."

"What is that, sir?"

"There was a reason for your attack." Dumbledore heaved another deep sigh. "There is a prophecy that tells of a girl who is to help a dark wizard by bringing him to full power." Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkled for a moment. "You, my dear, are the exact description of the girl. A quiet determined young lady who has grey eyes that change colors with her emotions. She will stand up for what she believes in. She will care for all things and people. She will only love one man for the rest of her life. Her true love."

"But who will I bring to power?"

"There is no description of the dark wizard." Dumbledore placed a hand over Veronica's hands. "The man who attacked you must have a master somewhere."

"But the man…"

"He failed when you screamed. Your scream alerted people to your attack." Dumbledore smiled slightly.

"Who is the man that the girl will fall in love with?"

"That also is not written."

"May I ask you another question?" She watched him nod his head. "When was the prophecy made?"

"It is actually an ancient prophecy that was brought to light only months before your birth. There is more contained within the prophecy."

"More, sir?"

"Yes, my dear. Not only will you have the power to bring him to full power but also you will be the one of the few who will be able to stop the dark wizard from destroying the Wizarding World." Dumbledore smiled softly as Veronica wrung her hands. "He will soon discover that he should never have tried to get you."

"What do you mean, sir?" Veronica looked up again.

"You will see. Now I suggest that you go on up to bed." Dumbledore helped Veronica to her feet and down the dais. "Professor McGonagall will take you to your common room." Dumbledore walked her to the doors of the Great Hall and opened them. "There you are, Minerva."

Veronica, Professor McGonagall, and Dumbledore walked through the corridors. Dumbledore turned away from Veronica and Professor McGonagall.

"Good night, Albus." Professor McGonagall placed a hand on Veronica's shoulder.

"Good night, sir."

"Good night, Minerva, Miss Croft." Dumbledore disappeared down the corridor.

"Come, Miss Croft. We have a few more flights of stairs."

"Yes, Professor McGonagall." Veronica followed Professor McGonagall up the stairs.

"I'm sure what Professor Dumbledore has told you is a bit of a shock." Professor McGonagall watched as Veronica nodded.

They stopped before a portrait of a fat lady in a pink silk dress.

"Password?" The Fat Lady turned to them.

"Fairy Lights." Professor McGonagall led Veronica into the common room. "I suggest you go on up to bed. You can tell Mr. Black, Mr. Lupin, Mr. Pettigrew, and Mr. Potter everything tomorrow."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Your dormitory is to the right. Look for the plague that says First Years."

"Thank you, Professor McGonagall." Veronica slowly climbed the stairs that led her to her dormitory. She quickly changed into her nightgown and climbed into her four-poster bed. Slowly she drifted into a fitful sleep that was wrought with nightmare of pale men and flashed of red light.