Narrowing her navy blue eyes, Samantha Malfoy surveyed Platform 9 ¾. Further down the platform, her younger brother was lording over his two friends, who in turn were hanging on every word that Draco spoke. Shaking her head, she continued to observe the boarding of the train. Her own belongings were already safely stored on the train, in the compartment behind the conductor. She glanced down at her chest. Her new Head Girl badge was still shining brightly above the embroidered Slytherin patch. Smiling to herself, she started walking down the platform.

All around her were young faces, shining with excitement and nervousness. She smiled a little. She hadn't been nervous about leaving her home, but she had been very nervous about starting school. All of her life, she had been extremely sheltered. As the cherished only daughter of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, one of the most respected wizarding families in England, very few people had been allowed access to her. She had had private tutors in basic arithmetic and literature, as had her younger brother. At the age of eleven, when her Hogwarts letter had arrived, her father had excused her from her studies. She remembered feeling relieved after receiving her letter. For some reason, she had never felt as if she belonged.

It had all changed at Hogwarts. Suddenly, she felt accepted. True, she never knew if it was because people were scared of her family, but people seemed to like her. She had friends, she belonged to clubs, and even her teachers seemed to like her, surprisingly enough.

She impatiently checked her watch. Five minutes to noon. Time to make sure everyone was on board with all of their things. She tried not to stare as a few first years clung desperately to their parents before jumping aboard the train. Finally, the platform was empty. She waved at the conductor, and climbed aboard herself.

Sliding open the door of the compartment she had chosen, she found that another had joined her.

"Hello Percy," she said politely.

Percy Weasley turned with a disgruntled look on his arrogant face.

"Oh, hello Samantha. I didn't realize that you were Head Girl this year," he said.

Samantha raised a dark eyebrow. Didn't realize? How could he not? For the past six years they had been the two best students in the school.

"Yes, well, I guess it was a bit of a surprise," she said.

Percy nodded and turned back to his trunk. Samantha rolled her eyes and sat across from him.

"Do we have to meet with the prefects on the train?" she asked.

"Yes, of course," he said without turning to look at her.

Samantha heaved a sigh. This was worse than pulling teeth.

"Have you given them a time yet?"

"They'll be ready in an hour or so," he said, still not looking at her.

Samantha shook her head angrily and stood.

"I'm going for a walk. I'll see you in an hour," she said as she stormed out of the compartment.

As she stalked down the hallway, the laughter and shouts of students was nearly deafening. Several times she had to push her way through throngs of them in the corridor before she finally heard familiar voices. She pushed the door open and stuck her head in. Sure enough, her four roommates were sprawled on the benches in the compartment.

"Sam!" Carly yelled as she slipped inside.

Samantha smiled. The five seventh-year Slytherins had always been a close group. She hugged them all in turn and then sat on the floor under the window.

"Head Girl?" Jazz asked her, pretending to throw up.

"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. You'll be grateful when I get you out of detention," Samantha said with a smirk.

"Your parents must have been happy," Kit snorted.

"Please, Narcissa Malfoy happy about anything that didn't have to do with robes or jewels?"

Samantha laughed again and tossed her wavy dark hair. God, it felt good to laugh again. She had barely laughed at all this summer.

"No, Mother actually seemed happy. I mean it could have been because I grew another four inches and she had to take me shopping, but I like to think it was because of the badge."

Kristina's eyes grew wide.

"Another four inches? That makes you how tall?"

"About 5'9"."

Kris, who was barely 5'2", glared at her.

"What? It's not like I took Skele-Grow!"

The five girls laughed again.

"I saw Oliver down the hall," Jazz ventured.

Instantly Samantha stiffened.

"So?"

"He said to say hello to you."

"Well, I am not saying hello back. In fact, I wouldn't care if I never had to say hello to him again," Samantha said tightly.

The four other girls exchanged looks and quickly changed the subject.

"So who's Head Boy?" Kit asked.

"Who do you think? Percy Weasley, of course," Samantha replied as she stretched her long legs.

Jazz snorted.

"Good ol'Weasle, eh? I swear, I can't believe the git has a girlfriend."

"Who in their right mind would date the Weasle?" Carly wondered out loud.

"Penelope Clearwater, that Ravenclaw."

"I bet they get a lot of, ahem, studying done," Kristina said.

"Ew. Ew, ew, ew!" Samantha squealed. "I don't even want to think about that! Come on guys, I have to work with him all year long!"

Samantha sighed and checked her watch.

"I guess I should go do some work."

She rose and headed out of the compartment.

"I'll see you guys at the Sorting, okay?"

Samantha headed back to the front of the train. She rubbed her temples tiredly and slid open the door to the compartment she was sharing with Percy. He glanced up at her and her head was instantly filled with images of he and Penelope. She scrunched her nose and shook her head slightly to clear it. She dropped down onto the seat across from him and pulled her new Potions textbook from her bag. As she tried to concentrate on the complicated new potions, her mind began to wander and she slowly drifted to sleep.

She dreamed.

She hated to dream. Dreams only showed her things that had been, and would never be again. Dreams tormented her, and the things they showed her were better left in darkness. She had always relived the worst parts of her life in her dreams, and this was no exception.

Oliver was the Golden Boy of Hogwarts, handsome and popular and Quidditch captain to boot. He had swooped into her world during their third year and completely dazzled her with his brogue and charming smile. True, they had only been thirteen, but Samantha had fallen hard and fast for him. They had been classmates for two years, and she had always thought of him as a stupid jock, when she thought of him at all, and besides, he was a Gryffindor. Gryffindors and Slytherins did not mix. That's just the way that things were. At least, they had never mixed in the past.

She had been in the library, desperately searching for a book that she needed to finish an essay for History of Magic. She had asked Madam Pince and was told that the book had been checked out by another student; a Gryffindor. After discovering who had the book, she had set off in search of Oliver Wood.

He was where he always was, on the Quidditch pitch. It had been his first year on the team and he spent every free second he had practicing. Samantha had stood at the foot of the stands, with her head craned up to the sky. Finally, the Gryffindor team noticed her.

"Come to spy on us, have you?" one boy called out from the air.

Samantha shook her head incredulously.

"No. Why would you think that?"

He inclined his head towards the Slytherin patch on her robes.

"I'm not spying. I just wanted to speak with Oliver Wood."

Amidst catcalls from his teammates, the broad-shouldered boy had landed in front of her. Samantha took in his shiny light brown hair and his deep brown eyes. His cheeks glowed with the exertion of the two hours he had spent in the air.

"Yes?" he finally prompted her.

Samantha completely forgot why she was looking for him.

"Oh…I…umm…book! You have a book that I need," she stammered out.

"Really? And which book might that be?"

"Goblin Uprising in the Middle Ages."

Oliver pulled off his wrist guards and ran his hand through his unruly brown curls.

"Yeah. I might have that one. It's in my dormitory though. Can I give it to you after dinner?" he said with a crooked smile.

"Yes, of course," Samantha said, trying not to stare into his eyes again. For some reason they were deeply distracting.

"Alright then. It's a date," he said, winking at her as he mounted his broom.

Blushing ferociously, Samantha nodded and fled back to the castle.

Dinner that night had been an interesting affair. She hadn't confided in her roommates that she was meeting with Oliver after dinner, and she was so nervous that she couldn't eat a thing. Finally, people started to leave the Great Hall. She was still pushing a piece of chicken around on her plate when someone tapped her on the shoulder.

Oliver was standing behind her, looking thoroughly amused at the dirty looks he was receiving from the other Slytherins. He held up an ancient textbook.

"I've got the book," he said unnecessarily.

"Oh, thanks," Samantha said, as she reached for it. He held it out of her reach and she looked at him questioningly.

"But I still need it to do my essay. I figured we could work on them together, yeah?"

Hushed comments echoed down the Slytherin table. Had a Gryffindor just asked a Slytherin to work with him? And not just any Slytherin, but Samantha Malfoy? Surely she would decline and turn her back on him.

"That sounds lovely. Library in say, half an hour?" she said, her voice not shaking nearly as much as her knees were.

"Perfect. See you there," he said with another wink.

Samantha had ignored her roommates tugging on her sleeve and had drained the last of the pumpkin juice from her goblet, wondering what on earth she had just done.

A rough shake of her shoulder brought her back to the present. Angrily, she opened her eyes and looked into the arrogant face of Percy Weasley.

"Samantha, the prefects are ready for the meeting. Are you done with your nap?" he asked snidely.

"Yeah, Percy. I'm awake. Where are they?" she said as she rubbed sleep out of her eyes and pushed the dream out of her head.

"Next compartment down," he said as he left their compartment.

Samantha stuck her tongue out at his retreating back and straightened her robes. Using the compartment window as a mirror, she smoothed her dark hair away from her face. Satisfied that she looked fine, she followed him out into the hallway.

The prefects were all squeezed into the compartment. Samantha stood behind Percy and listened to his pompous announcements about point deduction and detentions. She stifled a yawn as he finished his speech.

"Oh, Samantha? Did you want to say anything?" he asked.

"Yes, actually I do. Keep in mind that you have been given a certain amount of authority. Please do not abuse this privilege," she stated, her eyes on the prefects. "We'll be watching you and taking careful notice of how you handle yourselves. Remember, no favoritism towards your own House, and no penalizing someone simply because they happen to belong to a House that you might not like. Be fair and unbiased, and above all, be consistent."

"That's all, you may go," Percy announced.

The prefects left the compartment. Percy then turned to her.

"Be fair? Are you serious?" he asked her.

"Yes, I am."

"Are you fair and unbiased?"

"As a matter of fact, I am. I've never discriminated against anyone because of what House they're in."

He raised a red eyebrow over his horn-rimmed glasses.

"Oh, you think that because I'm a Malfoy that I'm genetically disposed to hate all non-Slytherins?" she said between clenched teeth.

Percy opened his mouth to answer but then thought better of it.

"That's what I thought. Remember, Percy, we have to work together all year. If you've got something that's bothering you, I suggest you get it out now. Otherwise, it's going to be a very unpleasant year."

Percy shook his head and his rigid posture softened slightly.

"I'm sorry Samantha. I shouldn't have judged you like that."

"Apology accepted, and that's alright. I'm quite used to it actually," she said with a small smile.

The tall redhead stuck his hand out to shake. Raising her dark brows in surprise, she shook his hand. As their hands touched, the train suddenly ground to a halt and was plunged into darkness.

Instantly Samantha's wand was in her hand.

"Lumos," she whispered as Percy did the same.

"What the hell is going on?" she hissed through clenched teeth. "Percy?"

She turned to him and saw that his face had grown deathly pale. His wand was shaking in his outstretched hand. A strange rattle echoed from the hallway and Samantha spun to face the door. It slid open and with a yelp, Samantha jumped back.

A looming figure draped in black hovered in the doorway. The dementor raised its scaly hand. Samantha flung her wand arm out and yelled,

"Expecto Patronum!"

A silvery fox shot out of her wand and soared towards the dementor. With one last rattle, it glided away from her.

She took a deep breath and turned back to Percy. He was seated on the bench, but he was shaking horribly.

"Are you alright?" she asked him.

"Yes," he said, his voice shaky. "That was a real dementor?"

Samantha nodded.

"I've never seen a real one. Have you?"

"No. That was the first time I've been able to use the Patronus charm."

"I couldn't even remember the incantation," Percy said, his face still pale. "You didn't have any trouble with it?"

"No, not at all."

"Samantha, didn't you see things? Terrible, awful things?"

Samantha bit her lower lip and shook her head.

"No, Percy I didn't. I didn't see anything."

Percy suddenly looked frightened.

"That's not normal Samantha. Everyone sees the worst parts of their memories when dementors are around."

"Most of my memories are unpleasant," she said, forcing Oliver out of her head. "Maybe that's why I didn't see anything."

"Maybe," Percy said, looking unconvinced.

"Never mind. I'm going to check on everyone else. Coming?" she asked.

"Right behind you," Percy said, still slightly pale.

As Samantha headed out of her compartment, she collided with something very solid.

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" the person said as he helped steady her.

"It's alright, I'm fine," she said, offering him a small smile.

He had to be a professor, but his robes were tattered and shabby. She gave him a quick once over and finally looked at his face. The warm smile he had quickly faded and his jaw dropped. His face grew pale and his hands dropped from her shoulders.

"You must be the new professor," Samantha said, trying to cover the awkward silence. "I'm Samantha Malfoy, Head Girl, and this is Percy Weasley; he's the Head Boy."

"Remus Lupin," the man said, shaking both their hands. "I believe I am sharing a compartment with your younger brother, Ron, and two of his friends."

"Oh yes, that would be Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. The three of them are rather inseparable."

"Ah. Well, if you'll excuse me, I must have a word with the driver. Nice to have met you both," he said, turning away from them quickly.

"He must be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, right?" Percy asked as they hurried down the corridor.

"Must be. There aren't any other positions open, are there?" she said.

"Still, he seems like a nice man."

Samantha nodded, agreeing. He did seem like a nice man. What she really wanted to know was what it was about her face that had made Professor Lupin look like he had seen a ghost.