A/N: Contains scene with assault

'Could I bend your ear for a tick?'

James glanced at the rest of the team. 'Go on and get changed. I'll see you lot at dinner.' He shifted the silver trophy to his other hand. 'Who are you?' He asked the wizard, suspicion evident in his narrowed eyes.

'Right. Should have started with that.' The wizard held out a hand. 'Dougal Cameron. I'm a scout for Montrose.'

James wiped his sweaty palm down the side of his trousers, politely shook Dougal's hand. 'James Potter. And I don't want to play professionally.'

Dougal coughed. 'Shame. You could be an asset. Not for Montrose, but I know of a handful of teams what could use you. But I'm not here to talk about you.'

James frowned at Dougal. 'If you're not here to recruit me, then what do you want?'

Dougal's mouth twisted in a rueful grin. 'We need an intermediary. Your brother's not of age yet, and your parents are a bit, erm, infamous for ignoring entreaties from

Quidditch teams regarding Albus.'

James ran a rand through his hair, barely refraining from grinding his teeth. 'I could send an owl, but Al will be of age next month, and you can talk to him then to your heart's content.'

Dougal sighed, noticeably irritated. 'We like to maintain contact with the parents, especially if the player in question is still in school.'

James chewed his lip. 'I can't promise anything,' he muttered. 'But you ought to be prepared to wait until next June.'

'Next June's too late!' Dougal protested.

'Not my problem,' James said coldly. 'And how dare you?' he hissed. 'You should be talking to Madam Pimm or Professor Longbottom, if not Professor Shacklebolt. You shouldn't try to put me between my parents and my brother.' James glanced at the entrance to the changing room. Sophie, Alex, Nicky, Lily, Rose, and Al stood clustered just in the doorway. 'I'll send precisely one owl,' James said to Dougal. 'I suggest you speak with one of the teachers from now on,' he added. 'If you'll excuse me...' James strode into the changing room, without so much as a backward glance.


James closed his Arithmancy book with a sigh and massaged his temples. Exams were looming, and Rafa had started reviewing everything they'd ever learned, going back to third year. He couldn't stuff another equation into his head at this moment, or remember why it was necessary to add nine drops of armadillo bile to a Wit-Sharpening potion, as opposed to eight or ten. James walked to the urn in the corner and refilled his mug with tea. When he went back to the table, James pulled out a sheet of parchment and began to write, slowly, and with great deliberation, choosing each word with a level of care he ordinarily didn't use when writing to his parents. He attempted to keep his tone as neutral as possible. What resulted was a terse, spare note, giving his parents the bare details of his conversation with the Montrose scout. He sealed it with a tap of his wand, and slipped it in between the pages of his Arithmancy text, vowing to post it in the morning.


Rose blew an errant curl from her eyes and glanced at Brian from the corner of her eye. She inhaled deeply. Count to ten… she told herself. When it didn't work in English, she tried again in the rudimentary French she'd picked up from Victoire, Maddie, Alex, and Nicky. When that, too, failed to put a damper on her simmering temper, she tried in Ancient Runes. 'Let me make sure that I understand you,' she said in a low voice. 'You're saying women can't be good Keepers?'

'Women can be decent, I suppose. None of top teams have a woman as a keeper.'

Rose clenched her fists, digging her nails into her palms. 'Then how do you explain Holyhead?' Brian waved off Rose's assertion. 'They're not even in the running for the European Cup,' he told her. 'I'm aware,' Rose said stiffly. She stopped walking and waited for Brian to realize she wasn't beside him anymore. 'What's wrong?' he asked.

Rose drew herself up to her full height, nearly six feet tall, glaring at Brian. 'And what pray tell, does a penis have to do with stopping a Quaffle from going through a goalpost?' she asked icily.

Brian's jaw clenched. 'Why do you care so much?'

'You know I want to play professionally!' Rose hissed.

'And you know the odds of that are about the same as me becoming Minister of Magic!' Brian retorted.

Rose stilled, irate to the point where her hair trembled. 'Just because I haven't been contacted by Quidditch teams before my seventh year, it does not follow that nobody wants to have anything to do with me,' she growled.

'Fine,' Brian allowed. 'But what if nobody wants you? What will you do?'

Rose reared back. 'Department of Magical Games and Sport,' she shot back.

'That's not very distinguished,' Brian scoffed.

Rose laughed contemptuously. 'Well. Then I suppose it's a good thing it's not your life, isn't it?' She turned on her heel and stalked back to the castle, jabbing her wand at her hair so the curls tightly wove themselves into her customary plait.


Hugo sat next to Logan, a stack of ordinary Muggle index cards spread out on the table in front of them. Hugo held one up. 'Confounding Concoction.'

'Too easy. Water, barbs from two jabberknoll feathers, and one to two leeches. Boil water, add barbs, boil for 30 minutes, add juice from one leech, and stir. Potion should thicken within five minutes. Previously, if it didn't thicken within ten, you were to start over, but if you add the juice of the second leech after five minutes, you can salvage the potion.' Logan took a sip of tea from his mug. 'Right?' Hugo grinned. 'Correct. Bonus points if you demonstrate the best way to juice a leech.' He tossed a Licorice Wand at Logan, who bit off enough to approximate the length of the average leech in a potions kit. Logan held up the licorice and intoned, 'Carefully squeeze from end to head, like so.' His thumb and forefinger lightly pinched the end of the sweet, and ran down to the other end. 'But not too hard. You don't want to pinch off the head, and have it splash into your potion.' He then rotated the licorice. 'Turn ninety degrees and repeat three more times.' Hugo nodded and Logan smiled smugly as he popped the licorice into his mouth.

Hugo shuffled the remaining index cards and set them down. 'I need a break.'

Logan exhaled in relief. 'Oh, thank Merlin. I need to do something that isn't studying for O.W.L.s'

Hugo stretched his arms over his head. 'And here I thought all Ravenclaws did was keep their noses in books,' he teased.

'Thinking homework is useless isn't exclusive to Gryffindors,' Logan shot back. 'Well, one Gryffindor.' He stood up and rolled his spine down, one vertebra at a time until his palms rested on the floor between his toes. 'Tell me something that isn't related to school,' he said.

Hugo spun on the bench and leaned his elbows on the table. 'My cousin Teddy is getting married in August.' Logan's head tilted to the side so he could see Hugo. 'I don't remember a Weasley or Potter named Teddy,' Logan said as he slowly straightened. Hugo's head bobbed once. 'Right. My uncle Harry is Teddy's godfather. Teddy's parents died when he was a baby, and Uncle Harry helped raise Teddy. He's a part of the family, so he's my cousin. Just as much as Lily is.' Hugo tugged on the end of Logan's tie. 'Would you like to come to the wedding?'

Logan's face brightened, then shadowed. 'Are you sure?'

Hugo beckoned to Logan, and when Logan leaned down, Hugo brushed his mouth over Logan's. 'It'll be nice to have a friend there.' He smiled widely. 'And I just kissed you in front of everyone in the Great Hall. So… by oh…' Hugo tilted his wrist to check his watch. 'Breakfast at the latest, everyone in Hogwarts will know, and I'm pretty sure I've just outed myself to everyone in the school. So, yeah, I'm sure.'

Logan placed his hands on the table on either side of Hugo, leaning down to kiss him. He rested his forehead against Hugo's. 'You don't do anything by half-measures, do you?'

Hugo returned the kiss. 'Only with the things that matter.'

They were suddenly attacked by a flock of twittering birds. Logan and Hugo looked around the Great Hall and saw Neville standing a few feet away, giving them a pointed glare. 'Sorry, Professor,' they mumbled in unison. Neville put away his wand. 'Find an empty classroom like everyone else,' he told them, with a resigned sigh. Logan plopped onto the bench next to Hugo. 'Yes, Professor,' Hugo said, laughter bubbling to the surface. He leaned against Logan and they both broke into uncontrollable giggles.

Rose glanced up at the sound of laughter from her place at the Gryffindor table. Scorpius followed her gaze, then studied Rose's face. Wistful envy drifted over her face. 'Knut for your thoughts?' Scorpius asked, keeping his focus on the open textbook in front of him.

Rose swallowed heavily, and her eyes dropped to her Transfigurations notes. She sniffed and scrubbed the back of her hand under her nose. 'I'm jealous of Hugo,' she admitted so quietly, Scorpius had to lean forward to hear her. 'It's so easy between them.'

Scorpius threw a look over his shoulder. Lily perched on a bench with a cluster of other fourth year students, arguing over the most effective way to Transfigure a turtle into a soup tureen. 'I know how you feel,' he muttered.

'No, you don't,' Rose scoffed. 'Lily actually respects you, and you respect her. You just haven't let on how you feel. ' She gestured with her quill toward Hugo. 'Is it too much to ask that you find someone who respects you?'

Scorpius exhaled and shook his head. 'No. It's not.'


James pulled Maya closer, cupping the back of her head. 'We should do that again sometime,' he murmured, tilting her chin up. He lightly kissed the corner of her mouth. 'Got days before the end of term.'

'Just a bit more than two weeks,' Maya said huskily.

'Think of all the trouble we can get ourselves into,' James told her, pressing his hips into Maya's.

'Think of the trouble we can get ourselves into if we had a proper bed,' Maya said mischievously.

'Can hardly think of anything else,' James said fervently.

'Good thing N.E.W.T.s are done, then. You'd fail every exam.'

James chuckled. 'Probably.' He bent to kiss Maya. 'As soon as we can possibly find a bed and a lot of privacy,' he promised.

Maya wound her arms around James' waist. 'I'll hold you to that.' She gave him a lingering kiss, parting with great reluctance. 'Better go up to your dormitory before you lose points for being out past curfew.'

'Yeah. Neville, erm, I mean Professor Longbottom, would probably write to my mum, and then she'd send a bloody Howler,' James glowered, the memory of Ginny almost walking in on him and Maya last summer still somewhat fresh in his mind.

'Can't have that,' Maya said seriously. 'Night, Jemmy.'

'Night,' James said. He sighed gustily and began to walk backwards. 'See you in the morning.' He turned and ambled in the direction of the staircase to Gryffindor.

Maya smiled dreamily and turned toward the Slytherin entrance. She paused to hastily use her fingers to restore some semblance of order to her hair. Humming lightly, Maya's fingers traced over her swollen lips. 'You slut,' hissed a voice from the shadows. Before Maya could do anything, a hand swung from the darkness and slammed into her face, making her eyes water. 'Did you let him fuck you?' the voice snarled. 'Bitch.'

Maya blinked through the tears in her eyes and Geoffery Greengrass' face swam into focus. Geoffery backhanded her across the face once more. Maya's head rocked back. Geoffery grasped her chin in one hand and slammed her head against the wall. Stunned, Maya slid abruptly to the floor, legs splayed apart. Geoffrey fumbled with his trousers as he straddled her. He used one hand to pin her hands over her head while his other gathered a handful of the gauzy fabric of her shirt, savagely ripping it down the front. Maya tried to pull her hands free, but Geoffery delivered a stinging slap to her face. The taste of blood spread over her tongue. 'No!' Maya screamed. 'Stop!' Geoffery backhanded her again, hard enough to make Maya see stars. Geoffery's hand plunged under her skirt, fingers grasping for her knickers. 'James!' Maya shouted, frantically kicking and squirming, trying to dislodge Geoffery. 'JAMES! JA-'

James pelted around the corner. One hand shot out and latched onto Geoffery's collar. He yanked the other boy to his feet and all but threw him across the corridor. He'd often read the expression "seeing red," but he'd never quite understood what it meant.

Until now.

The blood roared in his ears and his vision narrowed to the sight of Geoffery scrambling to his feet. James' right fist collided violently with Geoffery's jaw. His left fist landed a solid blow to Geoffery's nose, and the part of James that remained detached from it all, noted the gush of blood with grim satisfaction. James drew his fist back, ready to punch Geoffery through the wall. It bounced painfully off the Shield charm that had suddenly appeared between them.

'That's enough, James,' a sonorous voice intoned.

James whirled around barely noting the presence of Professor Williams. Maya huddled against the wall, blood trickling from the corner her mouth. She clutched the torn edges of her shirt together and tugged her skirt back over her knees. 'Maya,' he croaked. James crouched down next to her and gently touched her back. Maya flinched as if he'd struck her.

'Don't touch me!" she rasped.

James snatched his hand away. 'Okay…'

'We need to get you to the hospital wing,' Williams stated calmly.

'No!' Maya pushed herself up, using the wall as leverage. 'I'm all right,' she said shakily. She took precisely two steps from the wall, and then her knees crumpled, and she slid to the ground without so much as a whimper.

Williams waved his wand and a stretcher appeared under Maya. 'I believe she's merely fainted, Mr. Potter,' he said quietly, but firmly. He glanced up at the sounds of footsteps hurrying toward them. Neville and Gareth Shacklebolt stopped and took in the highly unusual scene before them. 'Headmaster,' he began, with a glance at Gareth. 'Miss Hytner needs to ago to the hospital wing." He studied Maya's battered face for a moment. 'Might be best to fetch Miss McIver,' he said with an air of decisiveness, figuring Maya could do with the sympathetic young Healer who had come to join Madam Pomfrey and take over the hospital wing when Madam Pomfrey retired at the end of the year. 'Neville, could you escort Mr. Potter to his dormitory while I see to Mr. Greengrass?'

'Come on, James,' Neville murmured.

'I'm staying with Maya,' James said stubbornly.

'James,' Williams rumbled in warning.

James' fists clenched and the pain arcing over his knuckles made him look down. The skin over his knuckles had split when he punched Geoffery, but he hadn't felt it. I'm staying with Maya,' he repeated.

'Let him be,' Gareth said quietly. 'We can talk to him in the hospital wing just as easily we could in my office.' He jabbed his wand at Maya and the stretcher floated away.

James trudged behind Neville and Gareth to the hospital wing. He stood numbly by the door while Miss McIver attended to Maya. 'What happened, James?' Neville asked.

'I don't know' James said dully. 'I walked Maya to the entrance of the Slytherin dungeon. I left to go up to Gryffindor, and then I heard her screaming and saw Greengrass holding her down…'

Neville nodded, and gestured to the door. 'Why don't you go to bed?' he said in a tone that said it was anything but a suggestion.

'No.' James pulled out his wand and conjured a straight-backed chair. 'I'll stay here.'

'James,' Gareth began, but James cut him off.

'What are you going to do? Expel me if I don't go to bed? I've finished my N.E.W.T.s,' James interrupted.

Williams slipped through the heavy doors of the hospital wing. 'Geoffery isn't cooperating,' he said.

'Dad has a Pensieve,' James blurted.

'I beg your pardon?' Gareth murmured.

'Dad has a Pensieve. Take my memory or Maya's. Take both. I can wait.' He dropped into the chair and stared at Maya's curtained-off bed. It was only then that he began to shake.

Williams conjured a blanket and tucked it around James' shoulders. 'He's going into shock,' he murmured.

Madam Pomfrey bustled over with a tray. She handed James a large mug of hot chocolate. 'Drink that and let me have a look at you,' she said briskly. James sipped the hot chocolate, shuddering as the soothing warmth spread through his body. Madam Pomfrey waved her wand over James. 'Left hand smarts a bit, does it?' James nodded, glancing down at his now grotesquely swollen hand. He hadn't felt it. Madam Pomfrey handed him a set of pajamas. 'Finish your chocolate and into bed with you'. She pointed to one of the beds. 'Long night for you I'm afraid.'

'But I'm fine,' James protested.

'More than half the bones in your hand are broken,' Madam Pomfrey sniffed. 'Repairing a smashed knuckle is a bit more complicated than a simple fracture of a finger. And you've got several smashed knuckles. Now. Into bed,' she said sternly. James drained the mug and lumbered to his feet. Madam Pomfrey jabbed her wand at a nearby bed and curtains surrounded it. 'Get yourself changed, and I'll come see to you in a moment.'

Gareth stared at the curtains that shielded Maya from their view. 'How is she?'

Madam Pomfrey glanced over her shoulder and exhaled slowly. 'She'll recover in a few days. Physically, at least,' she added. 'Can any of you tell me how James came to injure his hand?'

Williams coughed. 'Shield charm,' he muttered. 'He hit it pretty hard.' He ran a hand through his hair. 'I've got Geoffery confined in my office. James broke Geoffery's nose, but I've fixed it well enough.'

'Very well,' Madam Pomfrey said briskly. She took one step toward James' bed, then paused. 'If I may,' she began. 'Considering that Miss Hytner has finished her N.E.W.T.s, perhaps it wouldn't come amiss if her parents could come to take her home in a few days. She can stay here until then.'

Gareth rubbed a forefinger over his lips. 'Right. Excellent idea, Poppy,' he told her. 'I'll send them an owl shortly. As for James' suggestion…'

'I don't know the first thing about Pensieves,' Neville interjected. He glanced at Williams. 'You?'

'If it's not burbling in a cauldron, it's not my area of expertise,' Williams said with an expansive shrug.

Neville glanced at his watch. 'It's not too late. Harry ought to still be awake. I'll Firecall him.' He massaged the ache blooming over his right eye. 'Knowing Harry, he'll be here before you've sent the owl to Maya's parents.'


'Wait… what?' Harry asked Neville in bemusement.

Neville took a deep breath. 'James says you have a Pensieve.'


'How does it work?'

Harry picked at a hangnail. 'You take a memory from your head with your wand, tip it into the Pensieve, and you can examine it. You put your face in the Pensieve,' he added helpfully. 'You don't lose the memory, though. It's more like a copy. But it lets you look at your memory like it's happening to someone else.'

'That's handy,' Neville said with a grimace, trying to rearrange his knees on the hearth of Gareth's office. 'Listen, we need you to bring it up to Hogwarts. Now, if possible.'


Neville muttered a pungent expletive under his breath at the shooting pain that occurred when the arch of his left foot cramped violently. 'There's been an incident. James was involved. The two other students that were involved aren't talking right now; and the sooner we resolve what actually happened, the better for everyone.'

'Oh God,' Harry muttered. 'Apparition to the gates all right?'

Neville shook his head. 'Floo. Gareth set it up so you can Floo directly to his office. Hurry,' Neville urged.

'I'll be there in five minutes,' Harry promised, scrambling to his feet. He started for his office, but veered to the stairs. Ginny sat curled up in the armchair in their bedroom, reading a book. 'I've got to go to Hogwarts,' he told her, yanking open a bureau drawer and pulling out a jumper.

Ginny tucked a scrap of ribbon to mark her place and laid the book aside. 'Why?'

Harry crammed his feet into his trainers. 'Something with James. Neville didn't say.'

Ginny sat up. 'Is he all right?'

'Neville didn't say,' Harry repeated. 'I should be back before dawn,' he said, bending to kiss Ginny.

'Should I come along?' Ginny asked.

Harry paused, then nodded. 'Might be a good idea. Merlin only knows what he's gotten himself into. Meet me by the fireplace in two minutes.' He clattered down the stairs, nearly running into the office. Harry yanked open the cupboard that housed the Pensieve and tugged it out. He staggered a bit with its weight and deposited the Pensieve on his desk. He drew his wand from the pocket of his jeans and Summoned a carryall from the cupboard under the stairs. He enlarged the carryall, then carefully placed the Pensieve in the carryall. If he managed to exit the fireplace in the Headmaster's office without landing on his bum, it would be a minor miracle. The urgency in Neville's request meant it was imperative nothing untoward happened to the Pensieve. He grabbed the straps of the carryall and jogged to the fireplace. Ginny stood in front of it, holding a fist out to him. Harry held out his hand, and Ginny let the Floo powder she held clenched in her fist stream into his open palm.

'Where?' Ginny asked.

'Gareth's office.'

Ginny nodded shortly, flung the glittering powder into the flames and said firmly, 'Hogwarts Headmaster's office.' The flames roared, turning bright green. Ginny stepped into the flames and vanished. Harry took a deep breath and copied her actions.

The fireplaces of hundreds of wizarding families whizzed by, and Harry tightened his clutch on the carryall. Harry caught a glance of a wall in the Headmaster's office, lined with portraits of former Headmasters. He made to step out of the Floo, and stumbled as he left the fireplace. Gareth arrested Harry's inevitable somersault with a lazy swish of his wand. 'Thanks,' Harry breathed.

'James is in the hospital wing,' Gareth said. 'Where's the Pensieve?' Harry held up the carryall in reply.

'Why is James in the hospital wing?' Ginny asked as they descended the spiral staircase.

'It's a long story,' Gareth murmured. 'Which I shall explain in more detail later, but suffice to say, he got in the way of a rather strong Shield charm. Madam Pomfrey says he'll mend.' Gareth took the lead once they were in the corridor to the hospital wing. 'She's given him a bit of something for the pain, but we wanted him as alert as possible for when you got here.' Ginny's eyes widened and she exchanged a glance with Harry.

Gareth pushed open the door of the hospital wing. Two beds had been shielded by curtains. Gareth gestured to the bed on the right, closest to the door. Harry shifted the carryall to his other hand, wiping his sweaty palm down the side of his jeans, and peered around the edge of the curtain. James lay on his back, staring at the ceiling, unblinking. His left hand rested on his stomach, a heavy bandage wound around it. 'Oi,' Harry said softly.

James' head turned on the pillow. 'Dad.' He struggled to sit up. Ginny stepped around Harry to the side of the bed and helped ease James to a sitting position. 'Are you all right?' she asked, smoothing the hair from James' forehead.

'I'll mend,' James said shortly.

'I brought the Pensieve,' Harry said, carefully setting the carryall on the bedside table.

Madam Pomfrey bustled up to the bed. 'Now then,' she said, with her customary briskness. 'Let's get this done so my patient can rest.'

Harry nodded and conjured a chair for himself and Ginny. He eased the carryall away from the Pensieve, fingertips tracing over the runes carved into the rim. 'Got you wand?'

'In the drawer,' James replied gesturing with his chin to the bedside table. Harry opened the drawer and gave James the wand. He wrapped his hand around James' uninjured one, and guided the tip to James' temple. 'It won't hurt,' Harry promised. 'You won't forget it, either. You're not losing the memory, just making a copy,' he murmured in the same tone he used with trainees when they learned something difficult and complex. 'Close your eyes,' he instructed. 'Try to picture the event. What led to it. The aftermath…'' James ears reddened and sweat prickled along his hairline as the image of Geoffery kneeling between Maya's thighs rose in his mind. Nausea cramped his stomach. Harry saw the silver wisps of memory begin to collect at the tip of James' wand. 'That's it, son,' he said encouragingly. 'Now pull the wand away from your head, and tilt it toward the surface of the Pensieve, just like pouring something out of your wand.' James' mouth fell open as he watched the bright silver mist swirl from his wand into the Pensieve.

James stared at it, transfixed. 'Do I have to…?' He gestured to his face, then to the surface of the Pensieve.

Harry shook his head. 'No.' James's shoulders slumped in visible relief. Harry slid his hands around the Pensieve, and he lifted it in his arms. 'We'll get out of your way now,' he told Madam Pomfrey. 'And check in on James before we go?'

Madam Pomfrey produced a bottle of Skele-Gro from the pocket of her apron. 'I daresay young Mr. Potter might appreciate the distraction, as you should well remember,' she told Harry dryly. She poured a healthy dose into the glass on the bedside table. James blanched as smoke billowed over the rim of the glass.

Harry gave James a sympathetic smile. 'Just hold your nose and swallow quickly,' he advised, as he strode away from the bed. 'We'll come back in a mo.' He sniggered a little as he heard James gag and Madam Pomfrey exclaim in an exasperated tone, 'Well, what do you expect, lad? Pumpkin juice?'

Gareth waited by the hospital wing doors. 'Muggle Studies classroom is nearest,' he said. Harry and Ginny followed, the silvery light from the Pensieve throwing odd shadows on their faces. Gareth opened a door that led into a bright, nearly incongruously cheery room that reminded Harry of his nursery school classroom. He set the Pensieve on a desk. Gareth eyed it dubiously. 'What do we do now?'

'Just put your face in it.' Harry paused. 'Would it be out of hand if I had a look at it?'

'That's a rather good idea,' Gareth said slowly. 'If what I think happened actually happened, I imagine MLE might get involved. You first.' Harry braced his hands on the desk and lowered his face into the Pensieve.


Al craned his head around Scorpius to check the entrance to the Great Hall for the fifth time in as many minutes. Scorpius punched Al in the shoulder. 'Stop dripping milk all over my trousers!'

'Huh?' Al glanced down. His spoon was suspended over Scorpius' knee, milk dribbling from the rim. He dropped the spoon into his bowl, muttering, 'Sorry.' He glanced at the door once more. 'Have you seen James this morning?'

Scorpius shook his head. 'Odd, innit? James is usually one of the first ones at the table.'

'Maybe he's having a lie-in,' interjected Lily. 'Not unheard of.' Her face brightened. 'There he is!' She waved wildly. 'James!'

Sophie glanced up from the Daily Prophet. 'Isn't that what he was wearing yesterday?' She lifted her head and gazed at the Slytherin table. 'Huh.'

'What?' Scorpius reached for a slice of toast.

'Maya's not at breakfast either, and I've never known her to sleep late,' Sophie replied quickly, burying her nose in her newspaper as James approached the table.

'Morning,' James said dully.

'You look awful,' Rose commented.

James gingerly flexed his fingers, curling them into a loose fist. 'Didn't sleep much,' he muttered, recalling the searing pain as the Skele-Gro burned its way down his throat, and the agonizing throb of his bones knitting themselves back together.

'Did you hear the news?' Alex asked, with a smirk.

'What news?' James asked dully.

Nicky leaned across the table. 'Headmaster expelled Greengrass.'

James' mouth fell open. 'What?'

'Greengrass is gone. Or will be by the end of the day,' Lily said around a mouthful of toast. 'Nobody knows why, though.'

'Where've you been?' Al asked James. 'I was up until after midnight revising, and you never came in.'

James ladled porridge into a bowl and dumped an unholy amount of brown sugar and milk into it. 'I spent the night in the hospital wing,' he admitted. 'Greengrass attacked Maya last night, and I punched him.'

Scorpius blurted, 'But that shouldn't have been enough to put you in hospital overnight!' At the same time, Lily squeaked, 'Attacked?'

'What hex did he use?' Hugo asked.

'He didn't use magic,' James sighed, stirring his porridge. He wasn't very hungry, but Madam Pomfrey only released him when he promised he'd eat breakfast in the Great Hall. 'He hit Maya and tried to rape her,' he said heavily, swallowing with great difficulty. 'I broke my hand punching the Shield charm Professor Williams put up between Greengrass and me,' he told Hugo. 'Skele-Gro tastes like ogre piss,' he grumbled.

'Had much experience with ogre piss, then?' Alex murmured. Nicky jabbed his elbow into Alex's ribs and muttered, 'Is now the time?'

Lily's eyes grew round. 'Oh no…' She glanced at Scorpius. 'It's all my fault…'

The spoon slipped from James' nerveless fingers, clattering against the rim of the bowl. 'Why is it your fault?'

Lily licked her dry lips. She felt a nudge against her ankle, and looked up to see Scorpius nodding encouragingly. 'Back in March, when we cancelled practice because of the weather, and I had to go back to the changing room because I'd left a textbook in there. Remember?'' she began, her words running together in her haste.

James squinted at her. 'Vaguely.'

'Anyway, Greengrass cornered me in the corridor. He trapped me in that little alcove where the corridor splits and goes to either Gryffindor or Ravenclaw.' James said nothing, but the tips of his ears turned pink. Lily took a gulp of orange juice. 'He tried to kiss me and I kneed him in his balls.'

'Oh, Lily, no.' Sophie reached across the table and squeezed Lily's hand. 'It wasn't your fault. It definitely wasn't Maya's, either. Nobody deserves that.'

'But if I'd said something to someone,' Lily insisted.

Sophie made a slashing motion with her hand. 'Considering he didn't actually do anything to you, the most he would have received would have been a few detentions.' She softened at Lily's visible distress. 'It wouldn't have stopped this.' She glanced at James, who stared at his porridge in distaste. 'Where is Maya?'

'Hospital wing,' James said shortly. He poked a spoonful of porridge into his mouth, but it was like trying to chew sawdust. James abruptly stood up. 'I'm going back to bed. I'll see you at lunchtime.'

Sophie drained the tea in her mug. 'See you lot later,' she said, and strode off in the direction of the hospital wing. She shoved the door of the hospital wing open and approached Madam Pomfrey. 'I'd like to see Maya,' she stated.'

Madam Pomfrey pursed her lips. 'I don't think Miss Hytner is quite up to receiving visitors,' she murmured.

'But it will only be a moment,' Sophie protested.

Madam Pomfrey sighed. 'I'm getting too old for this,' she muttered. 'Wait here, and I'll ask Miss Hytner if she'd find seeing you agreeable.' She disappeared behind a curtain for several moments, then motioned for Sophie to join her. 'Five minutes, Miss Weasley,' she stated. 'Then you must go.' Sophie nodded and slipped around the edge of the curtain. Maya sat up in bed, head bowed. Sophie could just make out the discoloration of a fading bruise around one eye, and reddened skin at the corner of her mouth. Sophie stood at the foot of the bed, and let her hands rest on the iron railing. 'It wasn't your fault,' she said. 'And you're not the only one.'

Maya's head lifted, almost warily and she stole a glance at Sophie, before glaring down at her clenched hands. 'Oh?'

'Lily said he tried something a few months ago.'

Tears spilled from Maya's eyes and slid down her face, dripping from her chin to the collar of the hospital wing-issued pajamas. 'But she fought him off, didn't she?' she whispered. Sophie hesitated, rubbing a finger over a ridge in one of the rails. 'Yes.'

Maya's chin trembled and she clenched her fists into the bedding over her knees. 'That makes me weak,' she choked, her breaths shallow and rapid.

'No, it doesn't,' Sophie told her fiercely.

'Then why did I let this happen?' Maya said, her jaw clenched, the tendons of her neck standing out.

'You didn't "let" anything happen,' Sophie retorted sternly. 'He had no right to do anything to you.' Maya shook her head and her grip on the bedding tightened. Sophie reached out to touch one of Maya's feet, but stopped and quickly pulled her hand back. 'Can James come round later when he wakes up?'

'No!' Maya nearly shouted. 'He can't see me like this!' she said, hysteria rising in her voice.

Madam Pomfrey bustled from the office. 'Miss Weasley, you should go now,' she said in a low voice. She turned to Maya and waved her wand at her. Maya's face went slack, and she slumped into the pillows. With another wave of her wand, Madam Pomfrey rearranged Maya in the bed, so she lay on her back, the bedding neatly drawn to her shoulders.

'Madam Pomfrey -'


'Couldn't someone…?' Sophie pointed her finger at her temple. 'Modify her memory?'

'That would be up to Miss Hytner.'


'Miss Weasley,' Madam Pomfrey warned.

'All right, all right… I'm going.'

Sophie walked to the doors and opened one just enough so she could slip out and saw James trudging toward the hospital wing, his hands crammed into his pockets. 'I thought you were sleeping.' James shook his head. 'Couldn't settle down,' he told her. He pointed to the hospital wing door with his chin. 'What were you doing?'

'I saw Maya,' Sophie said gently.

'You did?' James reached around Sophie to open the door. 'D'you think Madam Pomfrey will let me see Maya?'

'She's in a right state, Jemmy,' Sophie said quietly.

'But can I see her?' James asked, his face tense.

Sophie shook her head. 'Not today.'

'When?' James demanded roughly.

Sophie shrugged helplessly. 'I don't know.'