I unfortunately don't own the world of Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling does.

Thank you to my wonderful beta, Book. Freak112233 !

Just a quick thanks to AnImEfReAk4994, xXMizz Alec VolturiXx, Allen Pitt, TheEscapeFromReality, The Writer and Reader, ZeLuNatic22, Aleucard, translucent steeds, alaskanwoman25, Cereah, ptl4ever419, CellophaneCatastrophy, ruler of dragons, Snowfox98, shadowbella987, Bronzelove, cutie2boot4u, Ice-Snow Witch, and meandthedoctor.

Now on with the story! :)

Chapter 69:

Gratefully Concerning Friends

Ariella sat just outside the Slytherin locker rooms, completing part of her punishment. She was both grateful and relieved to Draco for not reporting her to Umbridge…or worse, his father.

Suddenly, a shadow fell across her, blocking the sun's rays. Gulping, she nervously looked up…only to see that is was simply Harry Potter standing over her.

"Hello Harry. How are you?" she asked calmly.

"I could ask you the same question," he replied.

"I – I'm fine," she answered, continuing to clean.

"Ariella, I'm sorry for whatever punishment you received. I didn't mean for you to get in trouble."

The girl finally looked up at her friend, sighing. "I don't blame you," she said. "And furthermore, I – the punishment isn't that bad. I can deal with it."

At this, Harry paled, having seen what she could "deal with." "What did he do?" Harry inquired, sitting down.

"He's having me clean his Potions and Quidditch equipment, as well as reorganizing his books. He – he didn't tell Umbridge."

Harry was shocked. "That – that's not bad at all!"

Ariella just nodded, continuing to clean, wincing every now and then when her bandaged, scarred hand moved the wrong way. Harry noticed this and his eyes widened. "What happened to your hand?"

Ariella paled, but she began unwrapping her injured hand nonetheless as she explained. "Every day during lunch, I have detention with Umbridge. Mr. Malfoy knows and approves, so she can't get in trouble."

Harry then let his gaze fall onto the words etched deep within her skin. He swallowed hard, sympathy clear in his emerald eyes. "I'm sorry," he said softy as she re–bandaged her hand. She gave him a small smile in response, knowing he sort–of understood.

"I'm sorry for getting you in trouble," he repeated, rising to his feet. "I have to go, but I'll see you later, yes?"

Ariella nodded again, whispering, "thank you," as he left. She could understand Harry's shock, for she still felt the same way. All the same, she should probably tread cautiously around him too, just to be sure.

"Draco told me I could find you here," another familiar voice said, and the witch looked up to see her only other friend looking down at her.

"He told me what happened. Why would you even risk it?" Theo asked.

"I need to know how to defend myself, even if I can't use my wand."

"If Umbridge or Lucius Malfoy had found out – don't you dare deny it, Ariella! I know he's hurting you!

Ariella shrunk back, fear taking over despite it only being Theo who was yelling at her. "I – I can't tell you," she whispered.

"I know. But that doesn't mean any suspicions are any less," he replied, still furious, but calming his tone.

"You're very lucky, you know. That he didn't – "

"Well, well, well; if it isn't Malfoy's little whore. Is he finally sharing?" a taunting voice interrupted.

The two friends stiffened and turned to see a group of boys approaching.

"Tell me Nott, how is she?" a different boy said.

Theodore moved in front of her and the boys caught this, laughing darkly.

"Now, now Nott; that's not fair," the first boy said.

Then, by some gesture she didn't see, the boys in the back rushed forward, grabbing Theo and pulling him to his knees, his hands behind his back, holding him down.

"Now – I don't know about you, but I think it's only fair that Draco share with us as well."

"Get away from her Avery!" Theo shouted, beginning to lose his temper, something which never happened. It took a lot for this to happen, but he would never let anything like this happen if he could help it. He may not be able to help her when it came to the Malfoys, but he would do anything to protect her if it was within his power. Not to mention Merlin only knew what would happen if the Malfoys were to find out what they did to her.

"Come now, we just want to play," Avery said, grabbing her arms, pulling her forward.

Theodore saw the utter fear in his friend's eyes as she struggled and he fought harder. Then Avery backhanded her across the face. "Sir – sir, please!"

Avery smirked. "That's better," he sneered, creeping closer.

Ariella suddenly felt another pair of arms surround her, coming to hold her, and she struggled again. However, it was in vain, for they were stronger, and more forceful than she.

Avery traced her jaw line slowly, and Ariella shuddered at his touch. His hand then moved lower, coming to her outer robe, causing her to shiver, though from the cold wind or the situation, no one was sure. In one swift movement, he had it open. Ariella's breathing quickened, her heart racing, her brown eyes wide.

"Don't – don't do this," she pleaded, causing Avery to smirk again. Quickly, he began on her school robes and Theo struggled even more.

"Yaxley, just hit him! He's causing too much trouble," Avery ordered, and Ariella gasped, straining against the other boy's arms as Theo was quickly knocked out.

"No! No, please!" she begged.

Getting tired of her antics, Avery began using his wand to cut away pieces of her school uniform, carelessly slashing at them every which way, waving his hand as a beetle carelessly flew too close.

Suddenly, he stopped, seeing bits of black through the rips of her uniform. Curious, he cut her sleeve his eyes widening as he took in her enslavement mark, seeing the Malfoy crest and name.

Ariella closed her eyes. She was going to be in so much trouble, not to mention everyone was going to find out now. They already looked down upon her. What would happen now?

Gulping, he lowered his hand. Transferring his wand to his left hand, he backhanded her once again, before dropping her, the man behind her doing the same. Apparently even he knew not to mess with the Malfoys.

As Ariella tried to regain her breath and lower her nerves, she realized she had never been more grateful to be the Malfoy's servant.

Happy New Year Everyone! :)

Thanks to all who are reading and enjoying this story. If you have any suggestions, (i.e. would like to see something happen, etc.) questions, or comments, please feel free to private message me. Thanks! ~ Leanora