Chapter 7

After lunch was Potions, which went… well, disconcertingly. Sensei did the same thing that Madame Hooch had, only in the opposite direction and somewhat less subtly. Which explained why most of the other students, aside from the ones in my own House, disliked him.

Still, I could understand why he did it—likely in an attempt to get those of my own House to trust him more, as well as to 'balance out' the treatment by the majority of the teachers.

Not the Heads of House, for the most part. McGonagall was strict, true, but deliberately fair. Probably trying to lead by example, there, but the members of her House were too… straightforward to notice that subtle a hint. Flintwick was a lot less strict, but treated everyone the same, which was probably due to having dealt with prejudice in his youth, if not continued prejudice outside the school now. Sprout was fairly easygoing, so far, at any rate. She was a hair more strict with the Slytherins, but the feeling behind it was more pre-empting 'acting out' in class than actual dislike of the students from my House.

Sensei, though… the deliberately non-subtle favoring—and it was deliberate—of Slytherins was a subtle barb to Hooch and the other teachers like her, though most of those teachers were not readily encountered by First-Years save for during lunch, as those classes didn't become available until third year.

I could understand it, but I still didn't like it. I didn't like that he felt that was the only way to get his own students to trust him. I liked it even less that he very well might be right.

I suppressed a sigh and got to work on my Sleep-Aid potion, the instructions carefully laid out on the board. Soon enough, I was completely absorbed in the challenge of getting it just right.

xxxx

Defense came after Potions, which had ended with only one boiled-over potion, though how it had been managed was beyond me. A Gryffindor named Garwin Addicus had apparently added the right ingredient at the wrong time, sending his (less than 1/3 full) cauldron bubbling over. The mixture had scored the floor. Scary.

Still, Defense turned out to be quite interesting. We went over a few of the less-kind jinxes and their counters (no actual practice involved) and were given reading furthering that after being told the next lesson would be a practical.

Professor Lupin did tend to lean slightly towards the Gryffindors' side of arguments, but it was clear he wasn't doing it consciously—which actually might have made it worse. It showed just how ingrained it was in this society to be distrustful of anyone with Slytherin House associated with them that even children were persecuted.

How could children be seen as evil?

xxxx

That thought stuck with me the entire remainder of the day and I mused over it during dinner—which, once again, had been shared with Malfoy. Who did not harass the Gryffindors in my presence after a disapproving scowl when he started something.

I sighed slightly as I settled at the table next to the 'Prince of Slytherin'. "Draco…"

He looked in my direction questioningly.

"May I speak with you after dinner?"

Puzzled, he nodded, "Of course."

xxxx

I wasn't quite sure what I was going to say to him when 'after dinner' actually came. I glanced around the hall, seeing that the only people around were too far away to hear, and suppressed the urge to sigh. It had to be said, and no one else had the backbone to say it.

"Draco," I looked him square in the eye, "You are seen as the House… Paragon, more-or-less. The example of all that we are, all that we believe we should be. I do not know why this is so, only that it is."

He made a slight 'go on' gesture, though he was frowning.

"Because of this, when you are the one to initiate… disagreements, it reflects poorly on our House. I do not say this to offend, but to caution—you are far from the only one in the house that does such thing, and even further from the only one in the school. Nevertheless, because you are so well-known, it gives those teachers that are clearly prejudiced against Slytherin a sense of justification in their actions against us. Especially when the disagreements are with Harry Potter and his friends, as they are just as closely observed as you yourself are."

He looked about to protest, and I held up a hand to forestall him, surprised when it actually worked. "It does not matter how deserved some of that mockery might be. Not only that, but should they ever choose to ignore you rather than respond, it would make you look like a fool."

There was indignation in his eyes, but he controlled his temper with obvious effort, actually giving my words some thought.

"You could be right," he admitted grudgingly after several moments.

"All I ask is that you consider it," I smiled slightly, bowing, "Thank you for listening to me."

He gave a short nod, and I took that as dismissal, leaving him to his thoughts.

xxxx

That night, Sensei strode into the Common Room and called my name.

I blinked, glanced at Dane (who made a 'shoo' gesture), and stood, shutting my Defense book and tucking it into my backpack before slinging one of the straps over my shoulder.

"Come," he ordered.

I followed meekly, "Hai, Sensei."

"The Headmaster wishes to see you," Sensei informed.

I sighed, nodding. "I see."

"I have not informed him of your natural Legilemency," he added, "but it could be prudent to do so."

"Legilemency?" I asked, puzzled.

"The ability to project your thoughts is a branch of mind-magic, part of the skill known as Legilemency. Are you capable of reading minds?"

I blinked. "Ano… when I try? But I don't like to, and I have to actually try and I've only really done it once."

"Only once?" he glanced down at me, quirking an eyebrow.

"To see if I could," I clarified. "It never occurred to me until I realized you could."

"I see." He paused a moment, then gave a short nod, almost to himself, "Then it would indeed be prudent to inform the Headmaster of your ability."

"Hai. I will do so."

"Good," he stopped in front of a statue of a griffon, gave it a positively venomous glare, and said "Ice Mice."

I decided not to ask about the odd password—wasn't that a kind of Wizarding candy?—and followed Sensei up the staircase revealed as the griffon leapt aside.

The Headmaster greeted us, wearing blazingly purple robes covered in twinkling yellow stars—I suppressed a wince. That color combination… was he color-blind?

"Ah, Tsume, Severus. Have a seat, both of you," he gestured to two chairs that had obviously been waiting for us, "Lemon drop?"

"Tsume cannot have your lemon drops, Albus," Sensei stated, "The Calming Draught you had me infuse them with has a poor effect on her."

Whoa. /Thank you, Sensei./ Really did not want to repeat previous experiences with that one.

He nodded subtly and I returned my attention to the Headmaster as he looked rather crestfallen before putting the bowl of lemon drops back on his desk and seating himself in a chair across from us.

"Now, Tsume, from what I hear your familiars have caused minimal fuss, considering they are such a great distance away from you, but is there anything you want to talk about?"

Ah. So… plenty, but not too much that I safely could. "Hai. Snape-sensei has pointed out that my ability to both project and read thought is… unusual."

The Headmaster blinked, "You are a natural Legilemens?"

"She is," Sensei agreed.

"I will have to ask you not to read others' minds, child," Dumbledore said seriously.

"I will not read another's mind unless I perceive myself to be in danger."

Dumbledore looked at me searchingly, then nodded, "Thank you, child. Severus has brought to my attention the fact that you wish to get the statue outside your rooms to respond to a non-verbal passcode?"

I nodded, "I don't want it to be accessible to just anyone who manages to overhear the password."

"As I pointed out earlier, Albus," Sensei broke in, "That is a prudent precaution, considering her status and her House."

"Well, then," Dumbledore gave a twinkly-eyed smile, "Shall we take care of that now? Tsume, we could set the statue to respond to your Magical Signature."

I smiled slightly, "Thank you, Headmaster. Although it would be… wise to have at least Sensei and Madame Pomfrey also able to enter."

He nodded, still twinkling. Ugh. Eyes should not do that. Ever.

"Before we go, is there anything else?"

I considered. No, nothing I trusted him enough to speak of, not yet. Except the Transfiguration setup, but that was something I'd wait until I had my first class with the Fourth-Years to worry about.

"No, Headmaster."

He nodded and the three of us trooped down to the dungeons, gathering Madame Pomfrey along the way, and reset the statue. Then Madame Pomfrey promptly chased off both the Headmaster and Sensei and asked if she could come in.

I nodded, "Of course."

I suspected why she had asked.

"Severus asked me to speak with you," she stated without preamble, and my suspicions were instantly confirmed.

"Yes, I suppose he would have. Sensei did say he would find someone…"

"What's wrong, child?"

I sighed. I'd tried to put it out of my mind, having so much to do and think about, but even so… the image from the train ride haunted the back of my mind, never quite fading away. I didn't really know her, and I didn't want to break that horrible memory down into words. To do so would make it seem even more real.

"I'd thought… I was over this. As over as I ever would be, anyway," I amended. "But… the Dementors on the train…"

Her mild concern turned to a sharper worry.

"I had a brother, once…" and I told her, told her what I'd told countless therapists my parents had sent me to, careful not to reveal the others. The flash of Dracon lurked behind my words, ever so carefully avoided.

I let myself remember, good times and bad… even unto the last. And I spoke until I could speak no more, my throat tightening with grief and silent rage.

And I knew then that I would willingly give my life to keep others from feeling that same pain, from having their family and friends taken from them by this invasion, this alien force that did not and would never belong.

Yeerks have no place in my world. And I would do anything, anything to see to it that they learned that… the hard way.

Madame Pomfrey spoke words of comfort and solace—more convincingly than many had, but words that washed over me, untouching but for the fact that she truly meant them.

My true solace would be seeing an end to this. With magic added to my weapons… I would fight to secure this world. But first, I had to learn the magic… and what of allies? If the Yeerks had discovered the Wizarding World, surely our tiny rebellion would already have been put down.

"Try to get some sleep, child," Madame Pomfrey said gently, breaking through my thoughts.

I nodded and Madame Pomfrey frowned slightly, then nodded to herself. "I'll bring you a dose of Dreamless Sleep, dear. You look like you could use it."

Well. There go my plans for the night. But for one…

She left quietly, presumably to get the named potion, and I sat down at my desk, pulling out a sheet of parchment and my fountain pen and began to write in careful code.

Dear Marco,

I know this is going to sound like a joke, but I'm deadly serious…

xxxx

Hey, quick update. Inspiration's running high for this story, at the moment. Here you guys go.