Title: The Grass Is Always Greener…
Rating: PG-13, A/U, Drama, Romance, Mild Violence
Important Pairings: HP/DG
Summary: During the second term of Harry's sixth year, he ends up saving Daphne Greengrass from a fate worse than death. To repay him, she teaches him Occlumency and they get to know each other well enough to learn that labels are not always useful, and that treasures can be found in unusual places. Vaguely follows events found in book 6.

((A/N: For every author who writes enough stories, I think they should have a "Good boy falls for 'bad' girl" story. This is mine. I had wanted a longish one-shot, but the story grew. I could still make it a one-shot, but it would stretch the definition to the breaking point. :-) So you'll get 4 chapters. This story also contains mild Dumbledore bashing.

I want to give an big "THANKS!" to ReadingFreak2005 for beta'ing this story. He wanted to try beta'ing and has done a pretty good job with it. Any errors left are mine.

Note to those waiting on "Lily's Child". Real Life has not been kind to my beta team. Then about the time chapter 2 made it's way back to me, I lost the motivation to write for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, my desire to write is coming back, and proof is the release of this story. It's been sitting on my hard drive for a while and I finally decided to let someone else look at it and then release it into the wild.

Disclaimer for the obvious-impaired: This is fanfiction, and as such, the Harry Potter universe this story resides in is not mine, but belongs to someone commonly known as JKR. I am not her; I am not even the right gender to be her. Anything that looks like hers is, the rest is mine. No profit is being made on this, yada, yada, yada.

This is meant to be a fun read. I hope you enjoy it. -- Kevin))

The Grass Is Always Greener…

Chapter 1

Harry Potter put his Marauder's map away and pulled out his Invisibility Cloak, disappearing from sight a few seconds later. He was on his first reconnaissance mission after the Christmas break of his sixth year and his quarry was just down the hall in an unusual situation that he felt like he needed to check out. Fortunately, he had already cast a Silencing spell on his shoes, so he noiselessly crept up to the next hallway to see and hear what was going on.

He peeked around the corner to see his nemesis, Draco Malfoy, holding his wand on a regal looking girl he had spoken to maybe once in the last five and half years. That did not mean he did not know who she was, everyone knew who the Ice Queen was. He was curious to know why Draco, along with his ever present two goons, appeared to be ganging up on one of their own. Slytherins never fought each other, at least not in public.

"Leave me alone, Malfoy. You do not want to do this." The tall statuesque golden blonde, known as Daphne Greengrass, or the Ice Queen to many, told the white-blond boy in front of her in her typical cold tone. "You will be sorrier than you can ever imagine."

"But I think I do want this, Greengrass." Malfoy slowly and lightly trailed the tip of his wooden wand over her robes from just under her chin down to the middle of her body. "Besides, after I've finished -- experiencing you -- you need never even remember, so nothing will happen to me."

As Harry figured out what was going on, he was not sure if he was more sickened by the lustful sound of Malfoy's voice or the leering of his two followers. No matter, he could not let this happen, even if it was to a Slytherin. No girl deserved to be taken advantage of like this; the three on one numbers just made it worse.

Knowing he had to get Malfoy first, he carefully crept around the corner so he could get a good shot. He heard Greengrass continue her threat, and that was helpful as it kept everyone's attention away from him.

"Malfoy, even if you Obliviate me, I'll eventually figure out something has happened, and as you're the only one who won't leave me alone, I'll come after you just because." Her voice lowered even more as she finished her threat. "So help me, if you don't let me go right now, you may be the last Malfoy ever -- if I have my way."

Crabbe and Goyle gulped. Even Malfoy looked like he was having second thoughts for a few seconds. Then he laughed nervously. "Right, sure you will," he drawled. "I've got my wand out and you don't. So I don't think you're in any position to make any demands of me. I think I'll just..."

Harry was now in position and with Malfoy's declaration, Harry felt no remorse about sticking the barest tip of his holly wand through the crack of his Cloak and whispering, "Stupefy."

Malfoy had just started to crumple when Greengrass took a quick step to her left and swiftly brought her knee up into Crabbe's groin. Harry was so amazed he did not bother with Goyle, but watched the girl turn and kick her right foot out. Goyle also went down moaning and holding his crotch. Greengrass pulled her wand out and quickly fired off two Stunning spells to silence to two moaning boys.

Daphne dropped her wand hand to her side and spoke into the silence. "So who decided to help me?"

Harry decided he probably could escape this if he really wanted to, but he had not done anything wrong, so he answered, "That would be me."

She looked straight at him, though it was obvious by her expression that she could not see him. "Potter? Is that really you?"

Taking a deep breath and hoping for the best, he lowered the hood of his Cloak so his head was visible. "Yeah, uh, sorry, I didn't mean to interfere in your private business, but, uh, it just didn't seem right. I mean, you know, no girl should have to, uh, do something they didn't want to…" He knew he had to be blushing as he trailed off. He just could not say the word.

To his great surprise, the Ice Queen smiled at him and gave a small chuckle. "I never thought I'd be thanking a Gryffindor."

He had to smile too. "That's all right; I never thought I'd have to save a Slytherin." He looked down on the three unconscious boys. "I suppose I should go back to my dorm, but do you need any help with them before I leave?"

"What? You don't want to take advantage of me too, Potter?" she asked with a calculating smile. It was the sort of smile that spoke of plans one did not want any part of.

"Ah, no, no thanks. I've, uh, I've saved someone today and I think that's enough." He started inching backwards.

She gave him another chuckle and the slightly evil smile was replaced by one filled with humor. "Don't worry Potter, you're safe with me. I don't kill my savior. In fact, I'd prefer to reward him. Need a small favor?" Her wand came up as she lazily turned from him and looked up at the ceiling. She muttered a Sticking charm all over the ceiling above her.

"What are you doing?" His curiosity had to know before he left.

"Accio wands," she mumbled and caught the three wands that came to her. Those she placed at the base of the wall. Greengrass did a conjuring spell with a word he had not heard before. Suddenly, there were a number of little white bugs all over the wands. She looked up at him and answered his unspoken question, "Termites."

"Devious." He was impressed with that detail.


The spell hit Crabbe and lifted him up the ceiling, flipping him so he was face down. When she ended the spell, he stayed up there. She did the same thing with Goyle.

"I suppose that's one way to keep them out of your hair," he commented. "What about Malfoy? Does he get the same or something worse?"

"Oh, him?" Daphne casually flicked her wand and silently Vanished the Slytherin boy's robes. He was left in just his shoes, socks, and boxers.

"Oh, ugh! I really didn't need to see that," Harry complained.

"My apologies, Potter. I didn't want to see that pitiful sight either, but it is part of my plan to make sure he learns that attacking me is a very bad idea." She cast a conjuring spell with another word that Harry had never heard before, but it was obvious what had happened. Malfoy's boxers were filled with something. If he did not know any better, he would have said the result was as if Malfoy had done an enlarging charm on himself, but he knew she had done a conjuring spell.

"Sorry if I seem a bit thick, but what did you just conjure?" He really had to know before he left.

The evil smile came back. "Catnip. Stupefy." She stunned Malfoy again for good measure.

"Catnip? Why?"

"You've never been around a cat before, have you?" She looked at him with curiosity.

"I've never had one. Hermione has a half-Kneazle. I think I did see him play with a ball that Hermione said had catnip on it once. He seemed to enjoy himself." She just looked at him and waited. After a few seconds it hit him. "Oh…" Then his eyes went wide as he mentally pictured the results. "OH!" Harry could not stop the cringing look as he understood what she intended.

Daphne laughed without reservation now. "Sorry for the visual, Potter, but I decided that since he wanted to 'play' with it, then he should get the chance -- just without me. Now, I just need to find Mrs Norris and send her this way."

"Right." Harry could not help but gulp at the thought of what might happen. For the first time, he almost felt sorry for Malfoy -- 'almost' being the operative word. "I guess I should go, but if I see Mrs Norris, I'll try to direct her this way."

Her charming smile came back. "Thanks! But before you go, you need to name your favor, your reward for helping me."

A blush came over him as he imaged several things he could ask for but never would. "I don't know that I need one. This memory is really nice." Then a thought came to him which caused him to frown."

"What?" she asked.

"I was just thinking what's going to happen. Eventually they'll be found and I know Snape will assume it was me. He'll start interrogating me and pull the memory from my mind." He kicked at the floor softly. "And I won't be able to stop him either."

"Because you don't know Occlumency you mean?" she queried.

Harry was not surprised she knew what Occlumency was. He would not have been surprised if all the Slytherins knew the mind skill and how to do it. "Snape was supposed to have taught me last year, but it never worked. I decided he wasn't really trying. I think he did just enough to say he was trying so he could make Dumbledore happy. Or maybe he agreed to give me 'lessons' so he could look into my mind and torture me with bad memories." He could not help looking down now; he did not want to face her after that admission of failure.

"Well, that would be a little bigger favor than what I was thinking of, but still, it wouldn't be that hard."

His head jerked up as he thought he understood her, but he dared not hope despite the smile on her face. "You mean, you would…" He could not finish it.

"Teach you Occlumency? Yes." Harry's eyes went wide. "Do understand that most of the work will be on your part. I do know it and so I can teach you. I will have a hard time testing you because I'm not a very good Legilimens, but I suspect that won't be much of a problem as my head of house will test you in class when he sees you. How about tomorrow night at eight in the empty classroom next to the Flitwick's classroom?"

"Yeah, sure," he quickly agreed. "But what about when Snape questions me about this?"

"Don't worry. I'll take care of that." With a smile, she cast a Coloring charm as if she was painting, and wrote "RAPIST" on Malfoy's bare chest. "There, I think that will cause them to look somewhere else. And since we had Defense today, you'll have two days after your lesson tomorrow night to practice before you have to see him up close again. I think that will give you motivation to practice." She chuckled as he gulped at that thought.

"Thanks, Greengrass. I better run, though."

"No, thank you, Potter. Until tomorrow." She turned and went the other direction that he needed to go. "Here, kitty-kitty," he heard her softly calling.

Harry laughed to himself as he pulled his Cloak back up and hurried towards his Tower. As he came to the Entrance Hall, he saw Filch's cat. With an evil grin, he pounced on an opportunity before it literally got away.

He quickly cast a Silencing spell on the cat and then levitated her before she could run away. It was a good thing he had silenced her first as she appeared to be really mad based on her silent hissing and scratching the air. Fortunately, no one was around to see the floating cat. As fast as he could without tripping, he ran back down into the dungeons and into the hallway he had recently left. With the biggest of smiles, he dropped the cat on Malfoy's stomach.

The cat turned to come after him, but suddenly stopped and started sniffing the air. Harry forgotten, the cat cautiously walked down the boy and sniffed again. With its right front paw, it playfully hit the cloth containing the catnip. Harry quietly backed away and then ran once he was around the corner. He decided that he did not want to witness whatever might come next.

By the time he got to the third floor, he was breathing hard. Seeing Hermione ahead as she was returning from the library, he pulled off his Cloak and put it away as he caught up to her.


She turned. "Harry, why do you sound so out of breath?" Her eyes narrowed slightly. "Have you been stalking Malfoy again?"

His friend was both right and wrong, but it was a known excuse and one he could handle. "You know he's up to something the way he's been sneaking around." She rolled her eyes at him. "Fine, we don't know what, but I will find proof."

She rolled her eyes at him again. "Harry, you're imagining things. Malfoy's a prat, that's a given, but he's not in some conspiracy trying to kill us all."

"That's your story, not mine. I think he's up to something given how unusual he's been this year." As they reached the bottom of the long stairs that led to the Gryffindor Tower, Dean and Ginny came out of a nearby hallway to head up as well. "Dean," he nodded at his roommate first, then the boy's date. "Ginny." He wanted to smile at her or something as he felt his stomach flutter at the sight of her, but she had a boyfriend and was unavailable. For the moment, she was just his best mate's sister.

"Harry," the couple said together.

"We have to hurry," Hermione admonished them, "curfew is almost here." She led them up the stairs, Harry following her while Dean and Ginny held hands and followed Harry.

In the common room, Harry saw a number of people studying or socializing. He had no homework due tomorrow and he really wanted to think about tonight, so he told the three friends next to him good-night and went up to his dorm room. He changed for bed and drew his curtains. He really needed to think carefully.

The evening replayed itself in his mind. It was a strange evening, too. Adventure, fighting, pranking ... and a little bit of flirting too, he finally decided. That floored him. Was she flirting with him, and was he really flirting with a Slytherin? Ron would have a coronary. But then he thought about that some more…

Why not? She had been really nice to him tonight. Of course, he had saved her from a fate worse than death, or so it seemed to him. She was also quite pretty too, a lovely face and wonderful long blonde hair. Even with the bulky school robes, it was obvious she was a girl. That made him blush as he wondered what she really looked like underneath.

Pushing those thoughts aside, he thought back to past experiences with her. They had shared Potions and Magical Creatures classes for the last five years, and yet, he could only recall one thing said between them. He and Ron had been standing in the hallway waiting for Potions class one day when she came by. She had politely said, "Excuse me," and then walked between them. Thinking back to his fourth year, he could not remember her wearing a "Potter Stinks" button. Nothing else came to mind in regards to her. When it came down to it, he realized he knew nothing about Daphne Greengrass.

The real kicker was he had no way of finding out much of anything about her. It did not matter who he might ask, if he asked anyone about her, there would be all kinds of gossip. He shook his head at the injustice and rolled over. He would just have to wait to see what she was like. He would give her the benefit of the doubt and not pre-judge her; it was the right thing to do.

Suddenly, two facts came together in his brain: Ice Queen and Occlumency. Now he knew how she always kept her cool, why she seemed so aloof, why she always seemed to be in total control of herself -- she probably was. Yes, this would be a good thing for him, he needed mental control too.

With that, he did his minimal clearing of the mind, hoping it did something useful, and went to sleep. For once, there was blonde hair in his dreams, not that he remembered that the next morning.

The next morning Harry was sitting at breakfast with his favorite two friends. When the meal was done and they started walking to class, Harry looked at them and whispered. "Hey, did you notice that Malfoy was not here for breakfast?" Ron looked very interested in that observation, while Hermione rolled her eyes at him again.

"Honestly, Harry. You really need to give the conspiracy theories up. He probably just overslept," his female friend theorized.

"Maybe, but when was the last time you saw Crabbe and Goyle together without Malfoy being present?"

"Second year when we replaced them for an hour," Ron replied quickly without hesitation.

Hermione opened her mouth to refute that, but then closed it. Harry smiled, his point made that it did not happen often.

"So what do we do?" Ron asked as they continued walking to their Defense class.

"Watch closely. I'm still tracking him on the map from time to time. He was in the hospital wing when I checked this morning." Harry smirked but did not say why he thought that was. The smirk was for the thought that he would have had to drop his boxers for the school nurse and who knew who else. He hoped Malfoy was thoroughly embarrassed by that. He really was not overly worried about Malfoy's health. Harry did not think a cat could do that much damage and magic could heal most problems.

That reminded Harry of Daphne and he suddenly had an idea on how to get some info on her -- maybe. "Say, Hermione? I know you're the top student in Gryffindor for our year, and Terry Boot and Lisa Turpin probably are in Ravenclaw." She nodded. "Who're the top students in Hufflepuff?" He was going to have to sneak this in.

"Who cares…" Ron commented.

"I'm just curious. Hermione?" Harry looked at her, knowing she would know this.

"Susan Bones and Ernie MacMillan, although Hannah Abbott does quite well too."

"Right, I can see that. They all seem to apply themselves. How about in Slytherin?" Harry asked, doing his best to be casual.

Ron looked disgusted. "Who really cares?!"

"Hey, I'm just trying to be fair and I'm curious who the brains in the school are. You know, who gives our Hermione competition." Ron looked mostly mollified by Harry's statement. Hermione looked like she did not believe him, but she answered anyway.

"Tracey Davis and Daphne Greengrass, although Blaise Zabini is rumored to be smart when he tries, sort of like you, Harry." She looked at him for a moment as they came to their classroom. "You know that you're barely third in Gryffindor and you could be second if you tried harder."

"Who's second?" Ron wondered as they took their seats. Slughorn was not there yet.

"Parvati. Dean is a close fourth. You really do need to work harder, Harry," she encouraged him.

Harry wondered how she knew all this, but he decided it did not matter. He had managed to get the information he needed without arousing suspicion. Daphne was intelligent and he decided that was good.

Pulling out the "Prince's" book, Harry found a few tips on today's potion, much to Hermione's displeasure. At the end, they both received an outstanding mark. Ron's potion was too dark and too thick, so he only received partial credit.

During class, Harry would occasionally look around when all he was doing was stirring. Daphne was on the other side of the room. She did not even look at him, which was not surprising. She had never done so before. By the end of class, he had decided that made sense. It would not do either of them any good to suddenly appear friendly towards one another.

On the way out of class, they almost bumped into each other. Daphne had the barest of smiles on her face as she looked at Harry, although she said nothing. Harry only waved his hand in an "after you" gesture, also saying nothing. Smiling to himself, he caught up to his friends and walked with them as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Back to the Tower they went for a free period before lunch.


The rest of the day seemed to drag for Harry, but finally dinner came and went. Grabbing his Cloak, he hurried out of the Tower after telling his friends he needed to go talk to Flitwick. He had left a few minutes early so he could do just that, in case anyone asked him if Harry had stopped by. After talking to the professor in his office about their homework assignment, he hurried on to his real meeting. Making sure no one was around, he ducked into the arranged room.

He closed the door and looked around, but he did not see her. Assuming he was the first, he started to make himself comfortable when her form shimmered into sight. She smirked at his gobsmacked look.

"You're not the only one who can go invisible," she informed him calmly.

He thought about it a moment before he asked, "Disillusionment?"

She nodded. "Not as good as your Cloak, as I can't move unseen that way, but good enough most of the time. Where did you get it anyway?"

"It was my dad's."

Daphne nodded. She turned slightly and shot a locking charm on the door and a Silencing spell on it too. "There, that should give us some privacy and at least some warning before anyone can barge in." She put her wand up and came over to sit in the chair next to his. Her long blonde hair flowed over her left shoulder and down her front to the top of her stomach. A very serious look came over her. "Now, tell me what your previous lessons were like."

Harry dropped his head, took a deep breath, and hoped this went well. "All Snape did was tell me to clear my mind, then he would cast Legilimens at me. When he rummaged through my mind for awhile, he would withdraw and yell at me to try harder, then start again. I was able to force him out a few times, once even throwing him physically back a few steps, but mostly he just did whatever he wanted to me. Afterwards, I always had a very bad headache and usually nightmares that night." He paused for a moment before he mumbled, "I guess I'm just no good at this." He figured she would think of him as a failure.

When Daphne said nothing for nearly a minute, he finally looked up at her. The reason she had not said anything was because she was struggling to contain her fury. It was very obvious that she was very angry based on her expression and red face. He hung his head again in shame. He did so well in Defense class and flying, he did not understand why he could not do this too; but he understood why she would be angry with him.

"That -- that -- bastard!" she finally spat out. His head snapped up and looked at her. "I can't believe he did that to you, Harry. No wonder you couldn't learn, he wasn't teaching you, he was … raping your mind. He was torturing you."

While he was happy that she was not angry at him, his worst fears were confirmed. There had been no reason for all of his pain with Snape. It was just like all the times in the greasy git's class, just more intensely. "I swear I'll kill him someday, no matter how much the Headmaster tells me he trusts him. I never will again."

"And I'll help you," she coldly told him. "I can't believe he would do that to anyone; it's against all the normal ethics of the practice." She stopped for a few seconds, closing her eyes in a very long blink and taking a slow deep breath before she continued. "All right, I'll have to start from the beginning. You need to do your best to forget everything he told you. Can you do that?"

"I think so," he told her.

Daphne closed her eyes again, took another very deep breath, and slowly released it. Her movements caught Harry's attention and he could not help but watch her chest rise and slowly fall. When he realized what he was doing, he felt flushed and closed his eyes, trying to clear his thoughts, lest he embarrass himself.

"Good," he heard her soft voice. "Keep your eyes closed and let your mind go still. You can't think of nothing for very long, therefore you must think of something. So I want you to find a memory, or really an image, of something that is very neutral, very same, very uniform, and preferably all encompassing. It can be an image of the sky, the water in the ocean if you've been there, a large table cloth that's a single color, or whatever you know and can easily pull up. Tell me when you have that."

Harry searched his memories. A school robe did not seem big enough. The sky seemed too impersonal. The lake at Hogwarts might do. Then he remembered something from his childhood -- lying in his cupboard. He would lay there with his eyes open and just experience the absolute darkness at night; he was not able to see his hand in front of his face most nights. He took that blackness and easily brought it to the front of his mind and let it sit there for a few seconds. It was easy to hold it. "OK," he finally told her.

"Very good." Her voice was still very soft. "Just think about that image, become one with it, make it you. Know it so well that anything else is wrong and you instantly know it. Anything else is a ripple, a light spot or a dark spot, it's an imperfection. Become the sameness."

Harry pulled the darkness to him letting it wash over and through him. He nodded slightly.

The voice came back from far away. "Now, I'm going to try something very gentle. When you feel the disturbance, let it push against your image so you know where it is and then wrap your image around it. Contain the imperfection in a pocket of your image and hold it here." The voice paused before it softly said, "Legilimens."

Suddenly, there was a tiny spark of light from the left side. Harry pushed the darkness towards the spot, then like a blanket, he let it wrap around the spark and the spark went away. He smiled to himself. Another spark came from his right, it was easily findable. He also wrapped it up and smothered it.

"Very good, Harry. Now come back to me, Harry. Come to my voice and open your eyes."

Slowly, the darkness faded and he felt like he was back in the room. Opening his eyes, he saw Daphne with a big smile on her face.

"Congratulations, Harry. You've successfully repelled a mental attack with Occlumency."

He hissed, "Yes!", and pumped his fist into the air. Daphne laughed. He looked at her all in smiles. "That was so much better than Snape I could hug you." As he realized what he said he turned red and looked away.

Daphne lightly laughed. "So much for the famed Gryffindor courage. Come here you big prat, I won't bite," she teased him and opened her arms.

Screwing up his courage, Harry leaned forward and gave her a light hug. He had no idea why she was doing this, but he accepted it anyway. "Thank you so much," he fiercely told her. As she patted his back a few times, he realized she was a combination of hard muscle and soft flesh. She felt very nice. Pulling away, he looked at her a little differently.

"What?" she asked.

"You're, uh, you've got a lot more muscle than I expected." He blushed again as he realized how forward that might sound.

She chuckled at him and her expression softened. "I do some exercises to stay in shape to more easily keep the boys in line. I'm not nearly as muscular as a boy, but I'm sure I'm more so than the average girl. If you really like muscles on a girl, you should get together with Millicent." She smiled wickedly at him.

He shook his head quickly. "No thanks!"

Daphne smiled. "You're something else, Potter. I suppose I didn't know what you were really like, what with all the rumors, but you're really a nice guy underneath all the hype."

"Thanks," he had trouble looking at her. "You're pretty nice too. I didn't know what to expect and I couldn't really find out much about you other than you're smart, or at least you make good grades. You seem so above everything, but I finally worked out that was just a side-effect from knowing Occlumency."

She acknowledged that with a nod. "Very good reasoning. It's a shame we never really got to know one another sooner, you're not bad Potter."

"Harry, all my friends call me Harry."

With a tilt of her head as if thinking it through, she finally smiled at him. "And I'm Daphne. Well, let call it a night. Before next time, I want you to practice drawing that image up to the front of your mind. The more you practice the faster you'll be able to do it. Eventually, you'll do it so fast it's like it's always there for you."

"All right. How about Saturday night?" he asked.

She smirked at him. "Are you trying to ask me out on a date, Harry?"

He raised both eyebrows in surprise. "Huh? What?"

"Oh," she lightly exclaimed. "Maybe it's different in Gryffindor. In Slytherin, Saturday nights are for dating. If a boy asks a girl out on a Saturday night, it's an invitation not just a matter of studying together."

Harry's eyes went wide at that. "Uh, no, we don't do that. If it's a date, we say so, otherwise we're just getting together as friends."

Daphne nodded. "Hmm, well, I don't think I can do the evening. I do have appearances to keep up, and good job in Potions class, by the way. How about in the afternoon an hour before dinner in the empty classroom next to McGonagall's classroom?"

He thought about that. "Yeah, that should work. We'll be done with Quidditch practice by three, so let's meet at four. But why the room change?"

"It's keeps people guessing. I don't want people knowing that I'm teaching you this as I don't want them to get ideas about you and me. You're a nice guy Harry, but neither of us deserves the rumors of a Slytherin and a Gryffindor doing something together. There are also political ramifications for me in my common room."

"I agree," he said, thinking about how negatively Ron would react if he found out. "I have enough rumors about me as it is." She smiled at him. "Say, do you know what happened to Malfoy?"

A deep throaty laugh came out of Daphne. "Yes I do. Let's just say that Mrs Norris found the jackpot and Malfoy had to bare all to try and get it fixed. As I heard, he probably will be able to have children, but everything 'down there' may not be quite as good as it was before. Serves the bastard right."

Harry grinned. "Do Legilimency on me again." She looked at him quizzically. "Just do it, I have a memory to show you." She shrugged and cast the spell on him. He pushed the memory of finding Mrs Norris and taking her to Draco. When it finished, Daphne started laughing and almost fell off her chair.

"Brilliant! Totally brilliant, Harry. Stand up." He looked at her. "Come on, stand up." When he did, she gave him a much better hug. "That deserved something a little nicer than just a 'thank you', even though I do thank you."

When she let him go, Harry was blushing -- again. She had felt really nice to hold, much better than Cho.

She laughed some more. "Wow, I didn't know it would be so easy to get to you, Harry. We may have to work on that too."

Harry looked down and did his best to ignore the thoughts of more hugs from the pretty blonde. "Uh, Daphne? Can I ask one other question before we both go?" She had been pretty friendly so far, so he hoped she would.

"Sure, I may not answer; it depends on what it is."

He nodded his agreement to the condition. "You're always so in control, so with it. How did Malfoy get the jump on you? Did he attack you from behind like the coward he is?"

All the smiles left the Slytherin. "He is a coward, but it was mostly because I wasn't paying attention. He should know to leave me alone, considering how many times I've bested him in our common room. But I had just received a letter from my mother with some bad news. I was so distraught with that, I wasn't paying attention and he took advantage of me and got his wand up before I realized what was happening."

Harry sighed. "The git, I'm going to take care of him one of these days too." He shook his head at the injustice of it all. "So, Daphne? Is there anything I can do to help you with your problem? I don't mean to pry, but if I can, just ask."

She gave him an amused smile. "You're very nice, Harry. No, there's nothing you can do. My family is trying to make arrangements for me and I'm not happy about that."

"Oh, do they want you to go to a different school or some special job after you finish here?" Not having parents, he had no idea what kind of arrangements his parents might have made for him, if they were still alive.

A slightly sad smile came over her. "No, Harry. You're very sweet in your naiveté, please don't ever change."

"What?" He felt very confused.

"Arrangement for marriage, to an older wizard on the continent whom I've never met," she told him, her sadness returning.

"That's not right!" He was outraged someone would do that to their child.

"It might not be fair to me, but it is a custom still done in my family. My older sister married a man she barely knew over the Christmas holidays to help our family. My parents are trying to make an arrangement for me that will be politically advantageous for our family."

"What, like for your father to become Minister for Magic or something?" This still did not make sense to him.

"No, nothing so grandiose, Harry." She sighed. "The idea is to align ourselves with a powerful family on the continent so we have a place to escape to and avoid the war. While some people may see the Greengrass family as Dark, we avoided the last war and plan to stay neutral in this one too. That means we may have to leave England and go into hiding if it goes badly. If we do, we have to have a place that will protect us. The best way to do that is through marriage." She studied him for a moment. "You've never heard of this sort of thing before, have you?"

"No, it's all new to me. You have to remember, that even though I'm a Potter, I was raised like a Muggleborn." He stopped there not wanting to reveal more.

"That sounds like a story I'd like to hear sometime. Look, thanks for letting me, uh, vent, but we really do have to get going. Did you bring your magical cloak?" He nodded. "Put it on and then leave after I do, and go a different way. I'll see you Saturday afternoon. Be sure to study hard. You definitely need to have at least minimal shields before your class with Snape day after tomorrow."

"Right," he agreed. "Say, who taught you Occlumency," he asked as he pulled out his Invisibility Cloak.

"My father. I'll see you Saturday." She took down the privacy spells and silently left. Her normal mask had returned and she looked every bit the Ice Queen he normally saw in class.

Harry left a minute later and made it back to the Tower without running into anyone else. He pulled his cloak off before he went into the common room deep in thought. Inside, his best friend motioned him over.

"How about a game of chess, Harry?"

He gave a friendly smile to soften the blow. "Thanks, Ron, but I have too much on my mind at the moment. You'd probably win in about six moves." Ron deflated. "Cheer up, Ron. You just need to find a better partner than me. I'm rubbish at the game. If you'll excuse me, I think I'll go sit down for a bit before I go to bed." Ron nodded in understanding before looking around the room to see who else he could get to play a game with him.

Harry found a chair in front of the fire and settled into it, but not before seeing Ginny and Dean on a couch sitting very close to one another. Doing his best to ignore them and feeling in his chest at the sight of the long red hair, he turned his attention to the fire and stared into in. After a few minutes, the thought came to him that the image of the flames might be a good one to use for Occlumency. Maybe he'd try that sometime. As he brought up his image of darkness, he noticed an image of a beautiful blonde haired girl, no woman he decided, imposed itself over the image of darkness. He wondered why that happened, but he did not dwell on that. It was more interesting to dwell on the blonde rather than the why.

Eventually, he realized he was one of the last ones up. Forcing himself up off the couch, he went towards his bed, still wondering why he, a Gryffindor, was thinking of a Slytherin girl. Then it hit him that he was thinking in terms of labels, which was something he hated when applied to him. Ignoring the label, he thought about Daphne as a person. Harry decided he rather liked her interesting personality and biting wit. As he crawled into bed, he decide that he did not care what house she was in, she was a wonderful person and that was all that mattered.

Harry had been diligently practicing his clearing of the mind every spare moment he had. He was proud of himself for a small break through he had had yesterday. He had finally figured out how to find the dark blanket, as he thought of it now, and still remain "normal". The result was something like a thin black haze across his vision and slightly reduced hearing. Still, now he knew he could have something of a shield up and still know what was going on around him, unlike being blind and almost deaf the first time he had done it with Daphne.

Of course, he thought as he walked into his Defense class, he should still try to avoid looking Snape in the eyes. There was no need to tempt fate; he had only just started on learning this skill. He took his usual seat near the back of the class, Ron joined him. Daphne come in a moment later and took a seat near the front. Harry took a moment to discretely admire her hair. It was really more of a honey blonde. He wondered if it felt as silky as it looked.

Snape slammed the door closed as he walked in. Harry picked up his quill and held it ready to take notes; he also concentrated on looking at the parchment in front of him.

"Today, we will learn how to fight Vampires," the professor drawled. "If you had had a competent teacher in your third year," Harry mentally bristled at that but otherwise kept his face blank, "you should have learned that a wooden stake through the heart is the normal way to kill one. There is a spell made just for this." He waved his wand in a double counter-clockwise loop that ended in a jab, as he spoke the incantation along with the jab, something like a thick wooden arrow came out of the end and embedded itself in a straw dummy standing on the side of the room.

"Suffice to say, to kill a real vampire takes a high level of cunning and skill, which most of you do not have." Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Snape glance at him. He continued taking notes, trying not to look up. "Therefore, you must learn to cast this non-verbally if you want to have any hope of success and not become a vampire yourself." Harry heard Ron gulp. Snape Vanished the stake he had cast.

"Everyone rise," the teacher commanded and pointed to his right. "Stand on this side of the room and cast your spell into the straw dummy on the other side of the room across from you. As in real life, you are to remain silent when you cast. Except for the dunderheads in the room, this should not be hard as we covered silent casting earlier in the year." Snape looked around. "Well, what are you waiting for, move!"

Harry stood with everyone else and went to the proper side of the room. The first thing he did was to try the spell while softly saying the incantation. A thick arrow or maybe a thin stake came out of his wand and sailed across the room into the dummy across from him.

"Potter! What are you doing?!" the professor shouted.

"I just wanted to test the spell once since it is a new spell." He pulled the dark haze up in his mind.

"Ten points from Gryffindor for not following directions."

Instead of fuming at the injustice as he normally would have, Harry ignored the man and wrapped himself in the darkness, taking comfort from it. He pointed his wand at the dummy and did the spell, silently saying it in his mind, moving his lips, but not letting any sound come out. A very thin arrow came out and sailed across the room impacting the dummy across from him. Of the twenty-two dummies, one for each student, his was the only one with anything in it.

"Ten more points from Gryffindor," the man sneered. "To cast non-verbally also means to not move your lips. If your opponent can lip-read, then you are doomed, Potter."

Harry only nodded and continued on, now not moving his lips. The third cast produced a stake the thickness of the one he had cast verbally. He smiled to himself. Harry also realized that he had cast that while his dark haze was up, so maybe using Occlumency helped with spell casting. He would have to try that out later.

Suddenly, another thump was heard in the room as an arrow-like stake hit a dummy on the other end of the room. Harry looked down the row to see who it belonged to. Daphne Greengrass had a slight smile on her face. Harry was impressed; the Slytherin had done it before Hermione had.

Fifteen minutes later, class ended. The only other person who had succeeded was Hermione, and she had only done it once.

As everyone started to leave, Snape bellowed, "Potter, stay behind!"

Harry packed his things and went up to the front of the class. He was very careful to have his Occlumency barrier up. "Yes, sir," he said in almost a monotone.

"Potter, what do you know about the attack on Malfoy?"

This was it, the test, Harry realized. He decided that the best thing to do was to try and keep his barrier up while also thinking about the story Ron had told him that morning at breakfast. He hoped that would make it look like he was trying to keep the greasy git out, while also failing a little. "Nothing, sir. I've only heard the rumors like everyone else."

Snape stared at him and Harry could see the white spots appearing here and there all over his mental barrier, but the only memory he was aware of was the one he was providing of Ron. After nearly a minute of this, Snape finally waved him off. "Go to your next class."

Harry nodded and left, careful to keep the same mental state until he was outside the classroom. After he had shut the door and let out the breath he had been holding, he heard a soft female voice next to him. "How did it go?" He jumped slightly.

"Damn it! Don't do that to me!" he hissed back. A soft chuckle came from the non-corporeal voice. He slowly walked away; a distortion in the air followed him. "I'm reasonably sure he didn't get anything out of me. Thanks for helping me," he whispered.

"Tomorrow at four," she whispered back. The distortion stopped moving. Harry smiled and kept walking. This cloak and dagger stuff was kind of fun, he decided -- just like old times.

Harry finished the Quidditch practice and raced back to his dorm room. A fast shower washed all the sweat off him. He got dressed and threw on a school robe to cover his baggy Muggle clothes. Shoving his Invisibility Cloak into an inner pocket, he left the Gryffindor Tower. He passed Ron lazily coming in from practice. Harry assumed he had stopped to talk to someone.

"Hey, mate? Where are you going in such a hurry?"

"I wanted to go for a walk before dinner," Harry replied, trying to think fast. "I'll see you at dinner." He rushed out to avoid any more questions.

He stepped into a secret passageway a moment later and put on his Invisibility Cloak. That done, he made his way to his private lesson at a more leisurely pace. A few minutes later, he was in the pre-arranged classroom. A revealing spell showed no one there, so he took a chair to wait.

It only took a few minutes for her to come in; she was visible this time. He pulled his Cloak off and cast the privacy spells.

"I'm glad you're on time," she told him. "We have to be done in an hour. I'm never late for dinner and I must keep up that appearance." He nodded. She sat down near him. "It seems that you were correct. Snape got nothing out of you, because if he had, you wouldn't be sitting here right now."

He smirked. "Duh, tell me something I don't know. That git hates me."

She inclined her head slightly in acknowledgement. "Your success gives me hope that you will fully learn this skill. How much have you been practicing."

Harry shrugged. "Don't know. Maybe three or four times a day for half an hour each?"

"Very good. Other than needing more practice, do you have any questions at this point?"

He studied her serene look. Once more he was impressed with her. "Uh, yeah, I had one the other night. I have an image that seems to work well for me, but I was wondering if I had another image, would it work any better? I guess what I'm asking is, does it matter what image you use?"

"I'm not a master at this, but I don't think it does. The only difference I've been able to determine is that some images are easier for a person to bring up. So if an image is hard for you to visualize, then you should pick a different image. Is your present one difficult?" she asked in a concerned tone.

"No, not at all," he told her. "It's easy to bring up and to use when I have to do other things."

Daphne raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

"Well, when we started, the image sort of consumed me, it was all I could think about." She nodded. "But now, I can bring it up and do other things. When I do that, I see sort of a hazy ghost, I guess, of my image over whatever I'm looking at. It's like I'm seeing the world through my barrier."

She clapped. "Excellent, Harry. That was going to be our lesson for tonight, but since you can already do that, we'll go on. Let's practice. You defend as usual, and I'll try to find images of your common room. That should be innocent enough and yet easy for me to find since you should have a lot memories of it. Ready?" She pulled her wand and waited for him to nod. "Legilimens."

Harry watched Daphne concentrate as he defended. Sure enough, there were little white spots hitting the dark haze he was looking through, just like when he had been talking to Snape. He let that go for nearly a minute, never seeing any memories. Deciding to have some fun, he did to her what he had done to Snape, except this time he thought of his second year when he and Ron used Polyjuice Potion to visit the Slytherin common room.

A surprised look came over her face before she stopped the spell. "How do you know what the Slytherin common room looks like?"

"Yes, it worked," he said triumphantly.

"What worked?" Daphne's expression let him know he had better answer her.

"I fed you the memory I wanted you to see, not what you were looking for. I did that to Snape yesterday too. I think that's why I didn't get into trouble. He could tell I was trying to block him, but I let just enough of the memory of Ron telling me about Malfoy leak out, that he thought I hadn't stopped him." Harry was all smiles.

"Impressive, I'm not sure I've ever done that. That is probably the best technique with Snape too, assuming you have another memory that's close to what to you're trying to fool him with." Her eyes narrowed slightly. "But you still did not answer my question. How do you know what the Slytherin common room looks like?"

What should he do, he asked himself. Perhaps a deal… "Do you promise that everything we share in our lessons stays between just us? You won't tell anyone what you see or I tell you, and I don't tell anyone what I see or you tell me?"

She shrugged. "Sure, that seems fair. In fact, it really needs to be that way anyway as we can slip and find out secrets." She sighed for a moment. "I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I thought I might find out some secret about you that could help me, but now that I've gotten to know you a little, I don't think I could do that." Daphne looked down as if ashamed to look at him. "You're too nice."

That confused him. It sounded like she was going to do something too him, maybe like Malfoy would have, but now she would not because she liked him or something. "What are you saying?"

Now she looked up at him. "I guess I'm saying that I respect you too much to betray your secrets. I'm sorry, Harry. I know what I said sounds bad and is not something you noble Gryffindors would do, but it is the Slytherin way. We find out information and dirt so we can use it to our advantage."

He still was not totally sure. "You really promise to keep my secrets?" Harry studied her carefully, looking for anything that seemed false; but he came up empty.

Daphne raised her right hand. "I promise." When he accepted her pledge, she got a grin on her face. "So, Harry, when did you see the Slytherin common room?"

"My second year," he finally answered. "We wanted to know who the Heir of Slytherin was and thought Malfoy might know. So Hermione brewed some Polyjuice Potion to allow Ron and I to become Crabbe and Goyle. We found Malfoy in the halls and followed him into your common room where we talked to him and found out he didn't really know anything."

Daphne looked aghast. "That's … that's so Slytherin! I'm impressed!"

Harry laughed. "You have no reason to have known, but the Sorting Hat wanted to put me into Slytherin."

"No, really?" She looked very surprised.

"Yeah. But I'd already met Malfoy and his sparkling personality made me want to be anywhere else but there. So I begged the Hat and it put me into Gryffindor." He shrugged like it was no big deal.

Daphne laughed, her aloofness completely forgotten. "That's priceless. That would be a fun secret to share, but I meant what I said, I'll keep your secrets, Harry."

"Thanks. By the way, I think you'll find things a lot easier if you'll drop the labels and think about the person."

"Huh?" She looked very confused.

"You've mentioned Gryffindor versus Slytherin several times today. Not all Gryffindors are alike and not all Slytherins are alike. Labeling people and then thinking of them that way is not fair to the person and might be wrong." He now grinned at her. "If I did that, I wouldn't be here with you now."

She chuckled. "Good point. I guess I've started to do that with you too, but I hadn't really thought it through. I'll try, but so you know, some of your friends, like Weasley, make it really hard. He sees things so … black and white."

Harry snorted. "Yeah, I know. He's a great friend once you get to know him, but he also doesn't really think things through, I've noticed."

"Enough talk. We don't have much time left. Let's practice a few times. Legilimens," she cast, trying to catch him off guard.

Only a couple small scenes of him with his friends leaked before he got his guard in place. She tired four more times, each pushing slightly harder, and never got anything else out of him. "Very good, Harry, I'm impressed. You're catching on very quickly."

He blushed at the praise. "It's because I have a good teacher. Are you trying your hardest yet?"

"No. I'm over half-way there, but I don't want to hurt you. Next time, I'll push harder still. How about next Tuesday at eight?" she suggested.

"Sorry, I have Quidditch practice until late. Wednesday?"

She thought about it. "All right, Wednesday at eight. Third floor corridor this time…"

"The one we couldn't go in our first year?" he asked with a grin.

"That one." She stood to leave.

"Daphne? If you don't mind me asking, what image do you use in your Occlumency?" He was curious about her.

She gave him an impish smile. "My family lives on a large estate where we have a large garden. So I imagine the field we have, you know, an unending expanse of …" She paused and waited for him.

Harry groaned a few seconds later. "Green grass?" he filled in.

Daphne laughed and nodded. "Practice, practice, practice, Harry." She left the room for the Great Hall.

Harry put his Cloak on and left too. They were getting along so well together, he decided he had made a new friend. Was he being presumptuous, he suddenly wondered? He would have to ask her how she felt about being friends the next time they met.

Life went on as normal until next Wednesday evening. Harry knew he should have seen this coming, but somehow, he had not. After dinner, he had hurried with an essay for his Charms class. Since the three friends had been studying together, when he finished and started putting his stuff up, Hermione stopped him.

"Harry? Where are you going? You can't be done with all of your homework yet?" Hermione gave him a small glare. Ron was giving him a curious look, as if wondering why he was being abandoned and left alone with Hermione.

"Well, I've got everything done for tomorrow and most of my work for Friday."

She looked shocked that he had that much done. "That's unlike you, Harry. You usually put things off."

Not knowing how to pass this off, he tried for a distraction. "Yeah, well, I guess I finally started paying attention to you. It is our NEWT classes," he finished with a sheepish grin.

Hermione snorted. "And you're acting differently too. It's like you're … more in control of yourself. You're not letting Professor Snape get to you as much."

His distraction had not worked. "I'm growing up?" he suggested.

"Harry, we're your friends. What are you up to?" She would not let it go.

He looked at his watch and noticed he did not have much extra time. He lowered his voice. "If you must know, I'm taking Occlumency lessons again and I think it's helping with my emotional control."

Hermione looked like she wanted to squeal with glee. "Harry!" He shushed her, so she lowered her voice too. "Harry, I'm so proud of you for putting your problems with Professor Snape behind you."

"I can't believe you're still studying with that bloody git," Ron told him to counter their friend's enthusiasm.

"Ron!" she complained.

"Who says I'm studying with Snape?" Harry asked casually, working hard to not laugh at her expression.

"Then who are you studying with?" she demanded.

"A far better teacher." Now he had to smile. "Sorry, I gotta go -- later." He quickly left a grinning Ron and a frowning Hermione as he went up to his dorm to put his bag up. He put his Cloak on and hurried off. If anyone noticed the portrait opening on its own, he did not hear about it.

A few minutes later, he was at the third floor corridor. He arrived just as Daphne did.

"Hi," they said together, then they laughed together.

Harry put up the privacy charms. "Say Daphne?"


"Are we friends?" He watched her to see how she reacted. To his pleasure, she immediately smiled.

"Yes, I think so, or at least I think of you as a friend now. How about you?" Her Ice Queen personality had rapidly faded into her friendly personality.

Harry nodded. "Sure, but I wanted to ask to make sure you felt that way too." He conjured two chairs and they sat down.

"Why do you ask?" she calmly queried.

"I, I just wanted to know. I got to thinking about us, you know, studying together like this, and, well," he stumbled, "I decided I liked doing this with you and wanted to know if you did too."

Daphne looked very intently at him. "I know you said not to put labels on each other, Harry, but I must say that I never envisioned having someone in Gryffindor that I would consider a friend -- maybe even a good friend if you'd let me."

"A secret good friend?"

She chuckled, "Unfortunately, yes. I do wish we could be talk to one another during normal times, but I'm not ready for that."

He nodded. "I understand and feel the same way. Can I ask you something else?"

"Sure." She pulled her wand out and laid it on her lap.

"You're not the same with me here as you are in class. Why not?"

"You mean I don't act like the bitchy Ice Queen?" she asked casually? Harry was surprised and showed it. She laughed. "Yes, I've heard that label applied to me. I don't need to," she explained. "In here with you, I can be myself. Out there with the rest of the Slytherins, I have to be ready for anything, sort of like you do."

He considered that. "That's why Snape acts like that too, when he's not sneering…"

"Yes, he blocking and controlling. You'll be like that too one day," she told him.

Harry smiled. "Actually, I've already started, even though I didn't know it. Hermione told me I was starting to act more calmly…"

"Legilimens," she suddenly cast, her wand still in her lap, although now it was pointed at him.

He saw a brief image of Hermione flash in his mind, before the dark haze came up and wrapped itself around the bright spot. Pushing mentally, the haze acted like a large sheet wrapping itself around the intrusion before it flung the light out. Harry saw Daphne be physically pushed back in her chair, her arms going wide.

Daphne took a deep breath. "Wow! Good work, Harry. I wanted to see how fast you could react. I only received the shortest of a glimpse of Hermione. I assume you were thinking about her at the time?" He nodded. "And then you pushed me out, rather forcefully too," she grinned.

Blushing slightly, Harry apologized. "Sorry about that. I guess I sort of let instinct take over."

"No apologies needed, Harry. You did the correct thing. I've just never experienced that sort of power before. Even my father has never pushed that hard." She looked at him carefully. "I think you're one of the most powerful wizards I've ever met."

Harry shook his head, not really believing her. "If you say so. But that was really a good idea, trying to surprise me. Maybe we could do that for the rest of the time. You know, just talk and let you try to get past my barrier?"

"Sure, Harry. I think you've learned enough for that. So tell me about yourself. You mentioned that you thought of yourself as Muggleborn, even though I know you come from an old Wizarding Family. Why is that?"

Embarrassment gripped him and he looked away for a moment. He wondered if he really could share this with her. Finally, he decided he could share an abbreviated version. So he started telling her about being orphaned and sent to live with his Muggle relatives who did not care about him. He also told her a little about what it was like growing up.

She hit him with another Legilimens spell during that. One brief scene of his home escaped, but it was only a picture of his bedroom and lasted for less than a second. After he explained his childhood, he asked her about hers.

Daphne smiled at him and very pleasantly told him about growing up with her parents and older sister in a comparable life of luxury. The Greengrasses were not as rich as the Malfoys, but Daphne's family was still quite well off. She told him that she was not sure who had more money, her family or the Potter estate, but she suspect it would be close. Because of Harry's surprise, she asked him what he knew about his family, and she was surprised to find out that he knew very little. So she did her best to tell him what she knew of the Potters, of them being an old Wizarding family and fairly well off, as well as some of the more important things his family had done in the past. She also hit him with Legilimens twice during this time and he managed to not give anything away both times.

She looked at her watch and stood. "You're doing very well at this, Harry," she told him with a smile.

"It's because you're a good teacher. Say Daphne?"


"If I don't show up for one of our meetings, I want you to know that it's not because I've given up or don't want to be your friend any more. But, it's getting harder to hide these times from my friends. In fact, I had to tell them I was getting Occlumency lessons again, but that my teacher didn't want 'his' identity known." He looked down for a moment before looking back up at her. "I hope you understand, since you wanted this to remain between us."

Surprising him, she stepped forward and briefly hugged him. "I do understand and thank you, Harry."

Harry was happy about her understanding and her hug. Because of her hug, he decided to be brave and do something else, before he lost his courage. "I know that Valentine's Day is on Friday in a couple of weeks, but I was wanting to know if you'd like to have dinner with me on Saturday evening the fifteenth. Well, dinner and then maybe some time to talk afterwards. No studying or anything like that," he hastily added at the end. He was also having difficulty maintaining eye contact as he asked her, but he had managed -- barely.

To his good fortune, Daphne smiled. "You mean like on a date?" He nodded, unable to say anything at the moment as he held his breath while waiting on her answer. "I'm not opposed to it, but I also want to think about it. I'll tell you next time. How's that?"

He was not sure what to think about that, other than he was glad she had not said "no" yet. "OK. Fourth floor first door on the left, next to the Arithmancy classroom?"

"Until Saturday afternoon, Harry." She stood a little straighter and let the Ice Queen persona come back over her as she left.

Harry just sat back down in his chair for a few minutes. What had he done? That was so unlike him to ask a girl out, but it had felt right so he had just done it. Shaking his head at his Gryffindor impulsiveness, which he was sure would get him killed one day, he Vanished the chairs, pulled on his Cloak, and left for the Tower.

Back in Gryffindor Tower, Harry saw Ginny and Dean together over on a coach, and for the first time, he felt no monster, butterfly, or any other animal in his chest or stomach at the sight of them. In fact, he was happy for them, just like he was for any other couple that had found happiness.

It was late enough, he begged off spending more time with his friends and went to bed. Lying down, he thought about Daphne some more, trying to work out how he really felt about her. Her beauty could not be denied, but he really was not all that concerned with her looks -- they were a bonus. Just before he fell asleep, he decided that listening to his sub-conscious about Daphne had been a good thing. Even if she turned him down, he thought she would still be his friend.

((A/N: It seems that Daphne is only mentioned once in book 5, and only that she is a Slytherin fifth year. So I guess I can make her anyway I want. :-) I know a number of authors use an "Ice Queen" for a Slytherin girl; it's useful for me too.))