Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of J.K. Rowling. This story was written solely for the purposes of entertainment.

~~

I Alone

~~

We made an agreement before we marched into the Great Hall that day. No matter what happened - no matter what anyone said - we would not honor an enemy. It was a promise, albeit one made more readily by some than by others. When the time came we would not be counted with the likes of the hated Dumbledore and others who stood against our house. Slytherin pride was at stake, and more importantly, Slytherin solidarity.

I could see Hannah and Ernie crying into each other's shoulders as I took my seat. They were not exactly friends, but we had Arithmancy together and they had always been nice to me. So had Cedric Diggory, for that matter.

Pansy gave me a look that was more warning than anything else. No sympathy. No remorse. My heart hurt, but I told myself it was just the sight of so much grief. Slytherin solidarity. We all had to stand together.

Dumbledore made a speech. I didn't want to listen. I didn't want to hear him eulogize Cedric. But I couldn't shut out the words and I couldn't keep tears from stinging my eyes. No matter how much I told myself to be strong, I knew what I was feeling wasn't just vague sadness. I mourned, and in doing so I shamed my house.

And then the announcement came that shattered my world.

"Cedric Diggory was murdered by Lord Voldemort."

I barely heard the anxious, horrified murmurs flying across the Great Hall. My eyes were locked on Pansy, who stared up at the headmaster with a sort of giddy terror. I could see it in her expression. She was frightened, but she was also happy. For a long moment I could only hope that I had heard Dumbledore wrong, not only because of whom he had fingered as Cedric's murderer, but also because I didn't want my friend to be smiling.

I grabbed Pansy's arm. "What's wrong with you? He's talking about You-Know-Who!" My voice was a croaking whisper from a desert-dry throat.

She stared at me as if she had never seen me before. The condescension in her eyes hurt, but not as much as the strange, gleeful light glittering in the darkest depths.

I looked frantically around my house's table, seeking anyone else who shared my terror. Blaise looked nauseated and a few of the first years were pale, but the others all had Pansy's expression. I couldn't keep my eyes on Draco for very long. The look on his face - shock and apprehension and joy all blended together - made my stomach heave. What was wrong with everyone?

From across the Great Hall I saw Potter's red-rimmed eyes fall on my house's table. Something unreadable flickered across his face. Disappointment, maybe. Disgust. I knew that Draco would say he wanted more attention and more recognition.

Could I have sat there so quietly if I had seen another die?

I stood up and raised my goblet - to Cedric, to Potter, to everyone who had suffered as they had and everything that their side stood for.

I alone.

Then Blaise followed my lead. Terence Higgs. Graham Pritchard. Adrian Pucey. The hatred searing in my housemates' eyes was a tangible thing, one that would burn us alive if it could. I knew that I had condemned myself to years of veritable hell. When Lord Voldemort descended on Hogwarts - and I knew in my heart that he would - I would be cast to the wolves. I was a traitor to Salazar Slytherin, to my house, to everything that the green and silver stood for.

And I realized that not all of that was true. There was a reason why I was Sorted into this pit of evil and ambition. Like Pansy and Draco and all the others, I would do whatever it took to achieve my ends. If those ends happened to be the same as Dumbledore's and Potter's, so be it.

I was standing and I was being counted - not with my house, but with the side I knew to be good and true. For that moment I wasn't a Slytherin. I was simply Theresa Nott.

And the tears I cried were real.