A/N: This is a revised version of the Prologue to Daphne Greengrass and the 6th Year From Hell. Daphne is mentioned only once in canon; in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the line from pp. 712-13 of the U.S. version:
"Hermione's name was called. Trembling, she left the chamber with Anthony Goldstein, Gregory Goyle, and Daphne Greengrass."
See my profile for my version's backstory, which is developed from my own real-life work.
I encourage readers to check out my one-shots set in the "From Hell" universe as well: the "A Second Thought" series. Hermione Granger: A Second Thought is the prequel to this work — showing how Hermione and Daphne met through Hermione's eyes.
I own nothing. These are all JKR's babies. I'm just borrowing them.
Listen closely to my song:
Though I am condemned to split you
Still I worry that it's wrong . . .
For our Hogwarts is in danger
From external, deadly foes
And we must unite inside her
Or we'll crumble from within
I have told you, I have warned you . . .
Let the Sorting now begin.
—The Sorting Hat, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (US pg. 206-07).
Prologue, Taking Place Shortly after Hog's Head in the Trio's 5th Year
"She's a bloody Slytherin, Hermione! I don't give a rat's arse if you say she kisses babies and flies around on a unicorn! The others were ready to bolt once she showed up!" Ron Weasley's finger jabbed the air violently as he stumbled out of the dank pub. Hermione Granger followed him, storming out of the dingy bar they used for their first meeting of Dumbledore's Army. Hell, even Zacharias Smith (the great prat!) made a big stink about the bint showing up.
"And I think you have an absolutely despicable attitude!" Hermione pursed her lips together, huffing in frustration at Ron's stubbornness. "I have plenty of reason to distrust her and the whole lot of them, with all those nasty things they say about me and you and Harry, but I think we should give her a chance!" Hermione turned away from Ron, collecting herself as much as possible so she wouldn't smack him soundly for being such a stubborn git.
Although he was generally disinterested in Daphne Greengrass during their classes together — he had no reason whatsoever to pay any attention to her—he had noticed when Harry had actually mentioned the Slytherin girl a couple of weeks into the term:
("I dunno," Harry said. "She says she supports me, and since I'm short on supporters these days . . .")
Ron had wondered at the time what Harry was on about.
And at the first DA meeting today? Harry had stood up for Daphne!
Well, sort of . . .
("Hermione might've vouched for her . . . a little . . . er, and, well, she doesn't seem as rotten as the rest of them," Harry had mumbled. "Don't know really about her myself, but I suppose Hermione's on a mission or something.")
Ron shook his head fiercely. Harry and Hermione had totally lost the plot!
Rule No. 1, they — meaning the Trio — did not trust Slytherins.
Rule No. 2 — follow Rule No. 1.
Rule No. 3 — kindly refer back to Rule No. 2, rinse and repeat as necessary.
There was no changing one of the great unalterable laws of wizarding kind: Slytherins are right slimy two-faced bastards!
Ron felt Hermione tug on his shoulder.
"Ron," she began, her breath heavy after each word, trying to emphasize her point. She let go of his shoulder, slightly comforted by the fact that he was at least looking at her, although his eyes looked like they were on fire and his nostrils flared dangerously.
"I've been studying with her." Hermione began, very deliberately and precisely, while she ignored Ron as he spluttered indignantly. "Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. Sometimes, we also work on Potions, maybe other classes at times if necessary. We've studied together now for one, maybe one and a half years. And," she added pointedly, "I never told you this, but she gave me a bit of help with notes during third year, when I wasn't talking to you or Harry." Hermione noted the abashed look on Ron's face.
"The first day we met this term," Hermione continued, "Daphne told me — uncomfortably, I might add — that she believed Harry's story about Cedric's death." Ron shoved his hands into the pockets of his coat, making a big show of looking past Hermione's head. She refrained from rolling her eyes and continued to speak. "She never brought it up with me again, Ron. And Harry had already mentioned to me that she had also spoken to him, quite awkwardly, about the same thing after our first Potions class with the Slytherins."
"And just like that," Ron snapped his fingers and spoke indignantly, "you're braiding each other's hair and doing other girly shite?" He snorted. Hermione raised her hands up to stop him.
"Ron, she's really not that bad." Hermione thought for a moment. "Okay, well, she's a bit rough around the edges. She talks very tough, swears an awful lot, and I had no idea that you actually create new swear words, but . . ." she spoke, gesturing to Ron, "after hanging around with your family, I shouldn't be surprised." Hermione looked just past him.
"Ron," Hermione spoke softly and plainly, "she really doesn't have a lot of money." Ron shifted from one foot to another, his eyes planted firmly on the ground at Hermione's feet. "I don't think she has much in her life."
Hermione walked around him for a little bit, collecting her thoughts.
"I think, and of course this is just my opinion, but she's not a very happy person."
Ron cocked his eyebrow. His mouth dropped open, nearly crashing to the ground.
"The girl's in Slytherin!" he exclaimed, gesturing wildly and desperately with outstretched arms. "That's mental torture in and of itself!"
Hermione was not to be dissuaded from her mission; to Ron's dismay, she kept talking about Greengrass.
"She has no close friends in her house, no real relationships with anyone. I don't even remember her going to the Yule Ball last year—"
"What? Too busy staring up Vicky's large, hairy nose?"
"—When I started getting to know her!" Hermione glared at the redhead.
"Why the hell is that our problem? Why the hell does that mean she gets to be in the DA?"
"Ron, she said that watching the Triwizard Tournament and seeing Cedric's dead body was really hard for her. Her exact words were: 'I know I didn't know him, but it was still a dead body there! Potter was crying about Cedric. His father was crying.' Daphne said that it felt like something snapped in her seeing that."
Ron watched as Hermione's lower lip and chin trembled slightly. She shook her head to regain her poise.
"She was clearly affected by it, Ron, for whatever reason. And she couldn't understand why You-Know — I mean, V-voldemort killed him. Nor could she understand why Malfoy and his gang weren't even bothered by it." Hermione clasped her arms around her tightly, as if the air around her suddenly became colder. "Daphne said their reactions — she didn't go into details or anything like that — did it for her."
"Still don't get it, Hermione. Even if she means it now, she could still take it back if it means worming her way into Malfoy's good graces!"
Hermione looked at Ron and shook her head.
"She has her own reasons for despising Malfoy." Hermione stared at Ron, eyes focused on the redhead under half-lidded eyes. "Like I said, she doesn't have many friends in Slytherin. She's an outcast there, just like she's an outcast with everyone else at Hogwarts."
Ron didn't say anything, so Hermione went in for the kill.
"Harry's been talking to her a bit more too lately." She cringed at Ron's physical reaction.
"You're joking. Harry didn't tell me that!" Ron's nose wrinkled in disgust and Hermione shook her head for what must have been the upteenth time. She looked worriedly at him as she wrung her hands.
"It isn't a regular thing, Ron. She slipped him a note right before potions about a week into classes. Daphne asked if they could meet outside on the Hogwarts grounds. You'd have to ask Harry about whatever it was that they talked about."
Ron looked immensely offended, moving his mouth up and down, breaths coming out in big puffs of steam in the cold Scottish air. Hermione stood her ground, staring at Ron with the most serious expression she could conjure.
"Harry's not involved with Daphne, Ron, not to my knowledge at least. He's got this thing for Cho still." Hermione looked directly at him, her hands red from her constant rubbing. "But, I think Harry is someone that Daphne's opened up to. They seem to have a lot of things in common."
"Harry's got too much on his plate already! He can't be babysitting some crazy, snake-loving slag—"
"Well, he can't! No Slytherin's worth all this trouble—"
"Ron," Hermione inhaled deeply, pausing before she spoke to him. "I think we should give Daphne a chance with the DA. I," she spoke bit by bit, putting her hand to her chest to solemnize a promise between them, "swear that I'll take full responsibility if she betrays the DA or Harry or us."
She watched Ron as he paced back and forth. He struggled internally with this proposal.
(A Slytherin! A bloody Slytherin working with us? She's going to turn us all in, I know it. And yet, Harry and Hermione think that she can be trusted.)
Ron hung his head low, chin touching his chest. He felt himself shaking it slowly back and forth,
Back . . .
And forth . . .
And back . . . and forth . . .
Slowly, he lifted his head up and met Hermione's eyes.
He held up a hand to quiet her.
"When she messes up, and she will," Ron pointed back towards the Hog's Head, "she will take full responsibility. I'll probably say 'I told you so!' to both you and Harry, and I'll make sure to hex her into the middle of the next decade too."
Hermione's face broke into one of the biggest of grins he'd ever seen. He couldn't help returning it, feeling his own eyes light up and dance at the very sight of her.
"Just so you know," Ron waggled his index finger at Hermione, "our first meeting? I'm gonna throw everything at her that I know. She'll either put up or shut up!"
Hermione held up her hands, signaling she had nothing further to add.
"Let's get back to the castle, Ron. I'm turning into an icicle!" She took Ron's elbow and together, they walked the long path back to Hogwarts.
"C'mon, Greengrass! Thought Slytherins were supposed to be cunning."
She was going to wipe that damn smug smile off that tall git of a redhead. Her fourth DA meeting, as the sole representative of Slytherin, and already she was learning to make friends and influence people, Slytherin-style.
Which meant, of course, that she wasn't, as the whole lot of them were prissy, arrogant, idiotic cockheads.
And "Weasley the Wanker", who insisted on being her partner for every blasted session, was managing to curse her.
Daphne stood back up off the cushions, wiped her sweaty brow, smirked, and pointed her wand.
(Hmm. . . I do remember somebody's boggart from third year.)
A great hairy spider, as big as a beagle, flew out of her wand, landing a mere foot from Ron.
He went deathly pale and froze.
"F-f-fuck! No . . ." Ron spat out. The only move he could make was swallowing in a great heavy gulp. "NO! S-s-t-top it! Stop it now, Greengrass!"
Daphne held her wand up, Finite Incantatem floating on the tip of her tongue, but halted. Her brows creased and set in a defiant line.
"GET RID OF IT!"
"No, Weasley. Do it yourself."
"FUCK YOU, GREENGRASS!"
"Do you think just yelling a bunch of vulgar swears at a Death Eater who's managed to throw something far worse at you than a spider will protect you any better? Just get rid of the damn thing yourself!"
Daphne wasn't sure if this was the smartest approach. Ron made no bones about his distrust of her. Shoving his greatest fear into his face probably wouldn't endear him to her anytime soon.
But Ron wasn't the boy she wanted. It was his sodding best friend — the one with the scar and the crazy hero complex that constantly placed him in danger's path.
So why'd she care if Ron liked her or not?
(I don't! So there!)
Now wasn't the time to think about stupid teenage crushes or best friends of said crushes who'd rather see her blown into tiny pieces rather than participate in their secret defense club.
With a small nod, Daphne turned her attention back to Ron. She'd never thought looks could kill, but his blue eyes burrowed into her with a ferocity that nearly shook the Slytherin out of her ratty shoes.
Ron's breathing quickened as he regarded the arachnid. He raised his wand hand, shaking so hard Daphne thought the wand would break from the vibrations. Swallowing, gathering his composure, he uttered . . .
The spider vanished.
Daphne watched as Ron relaxed, although his mouth was trembling, along with his hands. Small beads of sweat appeared on his freckled, but very pale, forehead. He looked at Daphne with stern eyes.
She watched as his face slowly relaxed, little by little. Daphne saw the tension he'd been holding in his cheeks and the lines creasing his forehead melt away. His wand hand loosened the tight, shaky grip on the wooden stick. He hadn't taken his eyes off her the whole time.
Ron opened his mouth to say something to her, but shut it abruptly. Suddenly, he turned and walked away to meet up with Hermione at the front of the Room of Requirement.
Silver mist . . .
Wait! Wait. . .
(Oh! More mist . . . )
"Hem, Hem!" Daphne snapped her neck to her right. Ron was smugly grinning at her, his stupid little Jack Russell Terrier stupidly barking and more stupidly trotting circles around him.
(Would Professor Snape give me detention if I stuck my wand up his stupid—)
"Can't do it, eh?" Weasley was now rocking gleefully on the balls of his feet. "Powerful bit of magic, Patronuses are!"
"Sod off, Ginger!"
His face furrowed in mock affrontedness.
"Oooh . . . such anger!"
Daphne looked around the room; it looked as if everyone was able to produce a full or close-to-full Patronus.
Everyone except for her and Longbottom.
(Oh, that's bloody disgraceful! As good as Longbottom! Wonderful!)
She took a deep breath to try to focus on a sufficiently happy thought.
(No. . . nuh-uh. . . . Still nothing!)
(And I'd already tried the first time me and Nott . . .)
"Don't you have any happy memories or thoughts at all?" Ron asked her.
It sounded like an actual, genuine question.
There was no sarcastic edge to his voice. This new, softer tone caused Daphne to blink; Ron wasn't smirking at her. His blue eyes regarded her with a furrowed brow and tilted head. He seemed genuinely surprised.
If not a little sad . . .
She waited for him to take the piss out of her, but he didn't. She waited for him to publicize her failure all over the room. But he didn't.
Ron stepped closer to Daphne. He spoke quietly; his focus remained squarely on her.
"I've pictured loads of things, usually about Harry and Hermione or my family." He stopped to see if she was listening. "The one I used today was from fourth year." Ron and Daphne's eyes met each other's; averting her eyes, Daphne silently nodded for him to continue. "Harry and I had finally made up after the First Task, and it was just me, Hermione, and him, in our common room, drinking chocolate and sitting by the fire. I was beating Harry at chess, but he was laughing at everything I was saying." He looked away briefly, his smile touching his eyes as he dwelled on the fond memory. "And Hermione was just barely leaning against me. With a book, of course. Sometimes, it's something so small that makes you feel like a million Galleons, y'know? Does that help at all?"
Daphne looked at him, unable to keep the surprise out of her eyes. She nodded slowly and turned to her left. Carefully, she closed her eyes, and a series of vibrant images of one happy moment floated into her brain. Daphne pushed her chosen memory to the forefront of her mind. Channeling its positive energy to her wand, she opened her eyes and spoke loud and firm:
The silver mist from her wand twisted and turned, forming a hulking blob. Charged by the improvement in her spell, Daphne poured even more emotion into the memory, focusing on the positive feelings surging through her.
The mist started solidifying more. Daphne and Ron's eyes grew large as they saw four feet with hooves planting themselves firmly to the ground, and large horns grew out of the creature's massive head. Its long tail swooped rapidly around its thick rear haunches. Despite the blurriness of the Patronus, its form became quite clear to Daphne and Ron, as the latter let out a great chortling snort and the smile that had been growing on Daphne's face turned into a disbelieving "O". She creased her brow in disgusted annoyance.
"It's . . . an ox!" Ron couldn't stop himself from falling over in laughter.
"A BLOODY COW? My Patronus is a FUCKING COW!" Daphne balled up her hands into fists and placed them squarely on her hips. "I don't believe this!"
"I-I . . ." Ron could barely talk for all his laughing. "It's just too brilliant for words!"
"I mean . . . it's so—" He started laughing again, holding his hands out to her Patronus; to Daphne's irritated surprise, her Patronus didn't falter. It didn't get stronger.
It was just lumbering there.
(Is it chewing grass?)
"It's so you, Daphne!"
"Oh hush!" It was a mild retort coming from her.
Daphne prayed desperately to Salazar Slytherin himself that the small smile spreading on her face would go unnoticed by Ron.
She looked around the room — there was a small smattering applause as the other members saw her nowhere-near-coporeal Patronus.
Potter gave her a huge grin, nodded and held his thumb up.
And she hoped, beyond all measure, that no one would ever discover that her happy thought was Ron talking to her about his.
Even though she was a Slytherin, Daphne couldn't contain her excitement to see the smile on Harry's face when she had revealed her little prank. One glance toward the Gryffindor's table showed her efforts had achieved success.
(Maybe Potter and his idiots are finally convinced I'm bloody well on his side!)
(Greengrass! You're pathetic!)
Daphne quelled her internal dialogue as she watched Harry pounding on the Gryffindor table in gales of uncontrollable laughter. Malfoy gave his crotch a mighty grab. The Gryffindor's eyes twinkled with pure mirth as he watched the bug-eyed Slytherin pull out the top of his newly transfigured green and silver sparkle-and-ruffle evening gown to gawk in horror at his newly formed boobs.
Malfoy, all ruffles, glitter and towering blonde beehive, bolted out of the Great Hall. Crabbe and Goyle, scantily clad in fishnets and red and blue bustier tops complete with matching thong knickers, tripped and fell on their stilettoed feet as they ran away, close on Malfoy's heels.
"GENDER BENDER BON-BONS! The most brilliant thing ever invented. Ever!" The entire Great Hall would certainly agree with Potter, the way they were applauding it; they were a right success. Daphne saw Harry hold up her note that accompanied her prank; she had charmed it to allow running commentary through the show:
"Potter — you must keep your eyes on these baby snakes…Something may be coming around the bend. . . ."
"Expect to see some changes around here, Potter — today at breakfast, when the owls get here, especially!"
"You'll notice Draco dressed in a fetching Wang knock-off, sure to put the spring in any tall, dark, and horny wizard's step! The ruffles bring out his eyes!"
"Bet you didn't know his kink for . . . SPARKLES!"
It hadn't been easy to convince the twins that a Slytherin needed their help to pull off a world-class prank on a world-class dickhead like Malfoy. In fact, it had taken approximately one-tenth of a one-hundred, twenty-five Galleon blackmailing scheme involving some very provocative photos of a couple of Slytherin seventh years taken in the Quidditch changing rooms.
(Pfft! A girl must find a way to make some money! And to rein in any unruly Slytherin boys!)
But oh! The end result had made it all worthwhile.
Daphne chanced glances over to the Gryffindor table, watching Potter's reaction as Malfoy and the rest of the Inquisitorial Squad swapped genders. There were even others in her house, Theodore Nott and Blaise Zabini in particular, who were desperately seeking books or other objects behind which they could hide their own amusement.
Ron and Hermione couldn't stop laughing either. Daphne looked at them, and saw Ron, laughing and grinning like a mad hatter. She smiled and shrugged her shoulders, watching as Ron smiled and shrugged his.
"Like hell you are!"
"You need as much help as you can get."
"No, Daphne," Harry shook his head vehemently. Daphne wasn't fussed by Harry's clearly growing impatience.
(Stupid wanker doesn't even know this is for his own bloody good!)
"You stay here. Same goes to you lot as well — Luna, Neville, and Ginny. . . ."
A loud chorus of protests followed.
"Let me tell you something." Daphne Greengrass stormed toward Ron and Harry. Hermione held out her hand, trying to appease the angry Slytherin.
"This entire year, I have worked my arse off trying to get you lot to trust me! And you still don't! Fine! Fuck you all! I'm bloody flying there on broom or hippogriff or whatever!" She shoved Harry and Ron squarely in their chests with all the strength she could muster in her too-skinny arms. "I'll bloody show you I'm just as good as you are!"
"Daphne! For the love of Godric, that's not why you're not coming with us." Harry's temper got the better of him, and he grabbed her by the shoulders to restrain her. "They aren't either." Harry gestured toward the other three DA members. "It's too dangerous—"
"But you'll drag them into it?" Daphne waved at Ron and Hermione. "Unbelievable! What the hell was the DA all about, eh? Just more Gryffindor grandstanding, Potter?"
(Huh? I am?)
Everyone looked at Neville Longbottom, who turned his head to Harry, Ron and Hermione. "This is what the DA was all about, Harry. Fighting him — You-Know-Who. We know it's real now. We want to stand by you." Neville squared his shoulders, head held high. "We'll be there, no matter what."
Daphne nodded her head once, as if the matter was settled. Harry violently shook his head; his patience had finally run out.
"Fine! We don't have time to argue. We need to get brooms—"
"So, everyone who can't fly," Ron started, "needs to stay put. Like you, Greengrass."
"Like you can kiss my arse, Weasley."
"That won't be necessary," Luna spoke calmly, halting their argument. Everyone turned to look at her. She was pointing her finger into the forest. Only Harry and Neville seemed to be able to see what she was pointing at. "Thestrals!" Harry exclaimed.
"We can't fly those barmy creatures!" Ron said in loud disbelief.
"Thestrals? How're we gonna stay on if we can't see the blasted things?" Daphne spoke up.
"We're going to have to make do!" shouted Harry. He must have swung up on one of them, because Daphne saw him sitting on air, as if he was floating on something.
Gulping profusely, Daphne let Luna guide Ron and her to one as Neville helped Hermione and Ginny.
"This is so weird," Daphne muttered to herself, looking down at the space between her legs.
"You know you need to slow down your spells." Ron leaned toward her after both of them were mounted on a Thestral.
"So you and Potter keep telling me."
"I'm just saying!" Ron rubbed his eyes with the pads of his thumbs. "You're too quick with your wand—"
"Something you know tons about, eh, Weasley?"
"And," Ron continued, glaring at her, "you just end up blowing up a bookshelf instead of your opponent! You've got to—"
"Slow down! I heard you the first time!"
Ron found himself desperately hoping that Daphne and the rest of the DA remembered Harry's lessons as they took flight toward the Department of Mysteries.
A/N: For clarification — Daphne will not hook up with any of the Trio in this "universe". This story does track much of HBP's plot, but there may be minor plot alterations where I take a liberty or two with the storyline. Thanks to my beta TinCat -- the originally posted prologue didn't really reflect her efforts at my lack of grammar skills. And thanks to Solstice Muse for helping me find a beta. And to all other Ron-friendly writers out there, who did inspire my characterization of Ron in this work.
Please let me know what you think in a review, and any tips for improving my writing will be greatly appreciated!