12. Having Enough
A low sigh sounded through the otherwise silent room and was only reflected by the tall walls.
Saphira sat in one of her comfortable armchairs, her feet were neatly folded under her body, a warm, fluffy blanket was wrapped around her shoulders and a mug of steaming hot dark chocolate with a spoonful of cream was in her hands. She blew carefully into the mug between her fingers, waited until the hot vapour hit her face and then she took a small sip.
An appreciative smile crept over her features and with a content sigh Saphira leaned back further into her armchair. It caused her mind to spin just thinking about all the problems she had suffered through that very day. It had started with her daily torture that was the Lady Malfoy's etiquette lessons, was followed by the youngest Malfoy's unwelcome visit and his insensitive interrogation and finally there was the culmination of a horrible day in the form of a Death Eater meeting and her subsequent introduction to her father's followers. Saphira would have assumed that the day couldn't get any worse. She should have known better, Harry had been a fine example that one shouldn't tempt Fate. She could be vicious if correctly provoked.
She hadn't expected that she would be attacked in her father's presence in the very place she was slowly starting to call home. It had been a shock to her, just as it had been a shock to her father. Saphira didn't know why her father had reacted to Bellatrix's attack with such a strange and out of character behaviour. She could only assume that it had something to do with someone going against her father's direct order. The Dark Lord wasn't used to his followers doing as they pleased and disregarding his commands. There might be something more that had bothered her father but Saphira hadn't had the chance and the courage to question him about his actions and as such she could only speculate.
Her own shock had a different root. That one of her father's followers would go against his words didn't surprise her that much. As difficult as it had been for Harry to imagine those men and women were only human, too. They weren't machines that executed orders without thinking about the consequences. It might be uncommon and rare but acts of resistance and infringements should be expected even among the ranks of the Death Eaters.
There was a different root for her shameful and embarrassing reaction. It might sound witless and naïve but she hadn't expected to be attacked in Slytherin Manor. For the first time in what felt like eternity she had felt safe. She was protected by wards, spells, her father's blood, magic and power as well as Professor Snape's constant and helpful guiding. She had felt at home and safe and had let her guard down.
Only to pay the price almost instantly.
It hurt that she had been attacked by one of her father's followers, but it was almost too painful to bear that the place she had started to call home and had begun to associate with protection and care was tarnished by that needless attack. Bellatrix Lestrange had yet again destroyed her home.
Seeing the woman who was responsible or Sirius Black's death and as such had efficiently destroyed Harry's hopes for a loving and caring family of his own, had been a shock in itself. Saphira had known on an abstract and cognitive level that she would come across Bellatrix Lestrange in the near future. The deranged woman was one of her father's most devoted followers and would only leave her father's side when Death claimed her tainted soul. She had known that Bellatrix would be suspicious of her sudden and unexplainable appearance. The woman prided herself to know everything and anything that was to know about her beloved Master. She wouldn't just accept that he had a daughter all of a sudden. Saphira hadn't expected to be greeted with wide open and welcoming arms. She had assumed there would be suspicion but the possibility of Bellatrix trying to attack her had never once even crossed her mind.
It had been too much for her.
Saphira wasn't proud how she had reacted to the sudden threat. Instead of reaching for her wand and defending herself with a quick but efficient shielding charm, she had just stood there like a deer caught in the headlights and waited for the foul curse to hit her. If it wasn't for her father's quick reaction she would have been reduced to a convulsing and whimpering mass on the floor.
It was embarrassing, Harry would squirm and turn in his grave if he could. Years of fighting and battling had flown out of the window. Saphira was angry at herself, embarrassed and hurt but mostly angry that she had humiliated herself in front of her father and his followers in such a fashion. She was angry at herself and at the Lady Malfoy. What use was it to her to know how to walk and talk and sit and dance if she couldn't protect and defend herself properly? Her current lessons were thoroughly one-sided in regards to that matter and whereas it was helpful and necessary to know how to act as a true pureblood lady, Saphira felt that it was just as important that she could defend herself.
Not that the Lady Malfoy saw it her way. Saphira almost snorted. Why would she need to be able to defend herself when there would be people tasked to protect her? That revelation had been the highlight of Saphira's horrible day.
After they had left the throne room with the three Malfoys and Professor Snape trailing behind them, her father had led the way to their personal quarters. Under normal circumstances Saphira would have wondered whether all of her father's followers knew where their Master's personal quarters were located or whether this sensitive knowledge was only privy to the Malfoys and Professor Snape as Lord Malfoy and Professor Snape were considered to be her father's right-hand men. But she was too physically tired and too mentally exhausted to ponder such inconsequential thoughts.
When they had reached the portray protecting the door to her quarters, her father had turned around and dismissed Lord and Lady Malfoy with the instruction to resume their duties they next day as they would normally do. Both Malfoys had been shocked and affronted that they wouldn't be allowed to attend the personal meeting while their son was part of it, but there was nothing they could do. They swallowed their pride and hurt and tried to keep their faces aloof and pleasant as they bowed to her father and left for their Manor.
Had she been in her right state of mind, she would have experienced gratification at Malfoy Junior's betrayed expression when he watched his parents' retreating backs with wide, horrified eyes. But she was tired, so dead tired and with the shock slowly abating and leaving behind a giant black hole of fatigue and weariness, Saphira wanted nothing more than to crawl into her bed and not leave it for a whole week.
Once the Lord and Lady Malfoy had left, her father turned around and stated the password. The portray swung to the side to reveal the door leading to her quarters and without a back-glance her father entered her quarters wordlessly. Saphira followed behind her father and made her way towards the sitting area in her living room. She straightened her shoulders and took a seat on one of her armchairs.
The door fell shut behind Professor Snape who was the last to enter. Her father had taken a seat on the comfortable couch, whereas Malfoy had chosen to sit in the armchair furthest from her. The Professor approached them and raised an eyebrow in question when he realized that he would have to take a seat between his two former students or dare to sit next to her father on the couch. As appreciated as the Potions Master and his work was, Saphira felt her father would still curse him should he chose the couch.
For a few moments that felt like eternity they sat in silence. Malfoy's face was a pinched grimace of scared anticipation and morbid fascination. The Professor on the other hand looked calm and aloof as ever even though Saphira felt that she could detect the smallest sign of curiosity in his dark eyes. It was her father's face, however, that caught Saphira's attention. He was in deep thought, his forehead was furrowed and his eyebrows pinched. She blinked.
She had only ever seen her father with his Dark Lord mask and persona in his followers' presence or the strange mix between understanding, patience, caring and exasperation when he was dealing with her. She couldn't fault him; he wasn't the most social and affable person to begin with, it had been years that he had last been a father and their current situation was weird and strange at best. He was doing his best and whereas it was certain that he would never win the father-of-the-year award, it was enough for Saphira so far. He tried to be patient and understanding, it was so much more than Harry's relatives had ever tried.
To witness him in such deep thoughts that he didn't care that he was surrounded by followers was rather worrisome.
Finally her father returned to reality. He turned around so that his stern purple eyes were focused solely Malfoy and caused the young man to gulp in fear. "What happened today will never happen again." Her father stated; he was above being polite. Why ask, when he could demand for it? Demanding was so much more efficient. "Saphira has to be protected at all costs. She is too precious to fall victim to some assassination attempt."
Saphira blinked. Assassination wasn't what she had had in mind. She had thought along the line of kidnapping or torture by the light side. Her father's mind seemed to work in different ways, though. "If I could, I would protect her myself. However, there will be times when her presence near me would put her in even more danger."
Malfoy nodded dumbly, his grey eyes wide with fear and dread imagining what might be expected of him. Saphira meanwhile wanted to scoff. It would be hypocritical of her if she claimed that Bellatrix's attack hadn't shaken her. But that was a far cry from her father's current assumption about possible threats. Of course, there was the Order of the Phoenix and the light side whose dangerousness had only increased now that they were leaderless and without their saviour. But that didn't mean that she thought that assassination attempts on her life were to be expected. The number of people who knew of her existence was small at best and all of them were loyal to her father. There was no need to worry about threats and attempts on her life.
Though she knew it was futile. Neither her father nor his most trusted followers would see it her way.
Her father's gaze was still focused on Malfoy. "During her lessons and the official meetings that Saphira will attend your parents and your godfather will keep an eye on her and will make sure that she is safe." Her father explained with sobriety. "They won't be able to be around her constantly, however."
Malfoy nodded slowly. It was clear what the Dark Lord meant. The Lord Malfoy and Professor both had steady jobs that took up some of their time. And then there were the missions and tasks provided by her father. The Lady Malfoy didn't have a steady job, but there were social tasks and events expected of a Lady of her standing. She wouldn't be able to keep Saphira constant company. Not that Saphira minded that fact all too much. She would rather be alone than having to spend time with the demanding Lady.
Her father, however, wouldn't want her to be on her own and without proper protection. A very bad feeling of foreboding crushed over Saphira all of a sudden and caused her to groan inwardly. She had an inkling why her father might bring this topic up with Malfoy Junior present, but by the gods, she honestly hoped that her father wouldn't do this. He had already told his followers that the three Malfoys and the Professor Snape would be her guardians one way or another. Then there was Nagini who was constantly lurking in the shadows and waiting for the right time to strike should anyone dare to approach her. It should be enough to keep her safe.
And then there was the fact that Saphira wasn't a weak and frail baby who couldn't take care of herself. She was seventeen years old and one of the best students in Defence Against the Dark Arts that Hogwarts had ever had. She knew how to fight and had more experience in defending and protecting herself than she cared to remember. She would be okay on her own. Honestly, it should be enough.
Her father wasn't privy to her inner train of thought. He levelled a stern glare at the Malfoy heir who began to sweat profoundly. "Therefore," Her father proclaimed ominously. "I have decided to assign her a personal bodyguard."
It took all of her will-power not to groan out loud for everyone to hear. She could see where this was going before her father even expressed his words. "You will keep her safe, Malfoy." Her father hissed dangerously low.
Malfoy's eyes were impossibly wide and filled with such fear and horror that Saphira experienced an inkling of compassion for her unfortunate former year-mate. But it was gone as soon as it had appeared. Malfoy nodded slowly, as if he wasn't sure whether the movement would be appreciated and gulped loudly for all of them to hear. Had he been of a lesser standing and born to a lesser family, Saphira was certain that he would have openly gaped at her father. Thankfully he didn't. Saphira wasn't sure whether her father would have tolerated such behaviour in their current situation.
Maybe it was because she was tired and had been through hell, maybe it was resentment born from Harry's memories of his interactions with Malfoy. It could be her bruised ego and smarting emotions created through Malfoy's former insensitive and derogatory attitude or something completely different. Whatever it was, it caused Saphira great gratification that Malfoy would be suffering as well. Malfoy valued his life and his family's reputation too much to go against her father's word.
Though that didn't mean that Malfoy was completely fine with her father's decision if the way he was openly staring at his Master with wide open and incredulous eyes was any indication. His Master's demand seemed to have caught him off guard. Whatever the Malfoy heir must have expected, a promotion to the Dark Lord's daughter's personal body guard couldn't have been it.
As nice as it was to have fun at Malfoy's expanse, Saphira felt as if the room around her was shrinking. It was too much. There was the Lady Malfoy with her constant harping and her disapproving and griping comments. The Lady alone would have been enough to ruin Saphira's day. There were her father and the Professor Snape, but both could only do so much to uplift her when the Lady Malfoy had yet again pulled the rug from under Saphira's feet. Now she could add Malfoy to the list of people who would try to make her life as difficult as possible.
She didn't know whether Malfoy had acted the way he had to cause her discomfort and second thoughts or whether this was just how he normally acted. And frankly, she didn't know what would have been worse. She knew, however, that she didn't need a macho bully around her who would constantly belittle her for failing as a woman. And for being a woman in the first place.
She didn't need someone like Malfoy to keep her constant company. She needed someone to boost her morals, someone who was understanding and who wouldn't judge her for her failures nor her decision. But someone like that seemed to be difficult to come by.
Saphira couldn't help the soft, almost inaudible sigh that left her lips. There wasn't much she could do. She sat in silence and watched with morbid fascination as her father explained to Malfoy in detail what was to be expected of him. Saphira couldn't remember word for word what her father had said. Concisely said the message was rather simple. Should something happen to Saphira, Malfoy's head would roll.
Poor, little Malfoy.
Sucks to be a man.
It was later that week when Saphira sat in the darkness of her room. She wasn't moving and didn't make any sound. She couldn't sleep.
Saphira was sitting on the windowsill of her living-room window and gazed out into the darkness. She could detect the silhouettes of the trees surrounding the Manor. Her knees were pulled up to her chest, her arms were wrapped firmly around her legs and her chin was resting on her knees. Directly in front of her window was the Quidditch pitch, the perfect, wide lawn surrounded by large trees that formed a direct line of protection against wind and curious stares.
Her heart ached painfully when she looked at the pitch. The Hogwarts pitch was were Harry truly had lived. Hogwarts had been Harry's home for the majority of his life as a wizard, but while his body had thought of Hogwarts Castle as home, Harry's soul had longed for the pitch. This was where Harry hadn't only existed, this was where he had lived. Harry's soul had survived so much thanks to Quidditch. If it wasn't for the sport, the thrill of searching for the snitch and the palpable freedom surrounding him when he sped through the air with the wind tousling his hair, his heart would have turned to stone and grown cold a long time ago. Harry had lived for and thanks to Quidditch. The wind in his hair, the excitement rushing through veins, his rapidly pounding heartbeat, his hands on the broomstick and flying around in breakneck speed – this was when Harry had felt alive.
It was during those rare moments that Harry had been truly and absolutely happy.
Saphira felt her eyes sting. When was the last time that she, Saphira, had been this happy? For Harry she could easily pinpoint it. It was during her sixth year when Professor Dumbledore had still been alive, when the threat of an approaching war, death and destruction had been looming over their heads but had still been far away enough that it could sometimes be forgotten. It was during his flights on his broom, together with his friends or in relaxed solitude, that Harry had last been truly happy.
But as Saphira? Had she ever been truly happy since she came to into this world? Saphira guessed that even after a lot of pondering she would have to negate this question. She was fine or at least as close to fine as possible. She was thankful that she had been granted the chance to live a new life. She had to call it 'new' life as 'her' life would have been a gross exaggeration. She was alive and well, she had a father who cared for her well-being and a Professor who took his task as guardian and mentor rather seriously. Her knowledge had expanded, her skills elaborated and her overall living conditions had improved. And still, she couldn't say that she was living her life. However, living a life was better than being dead and as such she was grateful.
But that was it.
Saphira felt that she may be grateful but that was all she had experienced in her life so far. She lacked excitement, true happiness or other overwhelming and mind-consuming emotions. She was alive but her soul and heart were decaying. She was just there, lived each day as she had lived the day before and as she was supposed to do. There wasn't a chance to break free from her strict daily routine, the Lady Malfoy had made sure of that.
Saphira had the obtruding suspicion that the Lady Malfoy was forging her into a certain person, even though Saphira didn't know who this person was supposed to be. The Lady Malfoy was rather strict in her expectations and her thoughts on what Saphira should do and what not. She wasn't allowed to experiment – her father owned swords and there was even a room equipped for sword-fight training. Why wasn't she allowed to try her hand at it?
Saphira couldn't properly put it into words, but she had the sinking suspicion that the Lady Malfoy had a hidden agenda. The Lady was supposed to teach her how to act as a lady, but Saphira didn't believe that her father had indicated how she had to behave in every single instance. There were several hobbies that were acceptable and respectable in pureblood society but only a small range was permitted to Saphira according to the Lady Malfoy.
Something was wrong. They Lady Malfoy tried to shape her into someone and this someone wasn't what either her father or Saphira had had in mind when she had agreed to the deal, nor was this person something her father had approved of. It didn't make sense. Why would her father provide her with a complete new wardrobe filled with personally fitted clothes when the Lady Malfoy disapproved of half of them? It was one of many inconsistencies. If they were working towards the same goal, there shouldn't be that many discrepancies.
Sometimes Saphira wished that she was still Harry. Harry had had at least some moments of happiness.
Was it even sane to picture herself as two different people, as Harry and Saphira? It probably wasn't, Saphira assumed, and even if it wasn't sane it certainly wasn't helpful. As long as she thought of Harry as her former self, she couldn't close the door to her past and leave it all behind. Harry was always on her mind, what he would think of her and her actions.
It wasn't helpful nor healthy, but what was she supposed to do? Harry's memories, his life, his thoughts and feelings were still present in the back of her mind. She couldn't just forget what Harry had experienced even if she wanted to and she couldn't just erase his memories from her mind. Not that she wanted to. Harry's memories were all that she had at the moment. Losing them would be the final push.
Saphira knew that her father had successfully erased the knowledge that his daughter had been his arch nemesis from his mind. The abstract knowledge was still present – she had been born as a boy and had been blood-adopted – but that was it. To him it wasn't of significance that she had been Harry Potter for the last seventeen years of the life she remembered. She could understand her father's reasons. With Harry Potter gone, her father could focus on the war and how to proceed. And if she was completely honest with herself then she would consider herself lucky that her father was so successful in deleting that knowledge. Their interactions would be a lot stiffer and stranger if he constantly thought of her as Harry Potter.
Professor Snape on the other hand was in a moral conflict regarding her former and her current personality. On one had the Professor had abhorred Harry's father and the fact that Harry had looked like a spitting image of the man he hated most. On the other hand Harry had been the only living and remaining piece of Lily Evans, the woman he had loved more than his own life. With Harry gone, the Professor wasn't reminded of his arch nemesis anymore when he had to interact with Saphira. But it also meant that Lily was gone for good. Saphira could only try to imagine how difficult it had to be for the Professor. Though as much as the current situation had to torture him, he was always on his best behaviour around Saphira and put her needs and worries first.
And then there was the Lady Malfoy. It was truly sad that her social contacts were reduced to three people. She didn't count Malfoy Junior as he didn't interact with her, but merely followed her around like a lost puppy. Not that Saphira could fault him for that; her father's words had left quite the impression on the young man.
The Lady Malfoy, however, was a different story. She acted as if she didn't know that Saphira had once been born as a man. She even went so far as to completely disregard what she knew about the former boy who lived. It would have been flattering if Saphira thought that the Lady Malfoy acted this way to help her develop her own character and get used to her new self. But this wasn't what the Lady had in mind. She didn't treat Saphira that way to help her. She wanted Saphira to forget about Harry, to loose herself in her new identity and to completely delete who she had once been.
Whereas coming to terms with her new identity was sensible and helpful for her prospective development, Saphira didn't think that completely deleting any knowledge of her former identity could be regarded as healthier as or better than not being able to separate her current self from her former self.
She felt torn, didn't know who she was and who she wasn't anymore. She remembered that the Professor had warned her. Blood-adoption and gender-change weren't only considered dark for their use of blood in the potions. They were dangerous as well. He had warned her that a significant number of people who had been subjected to either or both of the potions had committed suicide. Harry hadn't believed the Professor and had dismissed his warning as gross exaggeration and Snape's last attempt to scare Harry.
But now she understood the Professor's warning. She could feel insanity lurking in the shadows of her mind. The Professor knew of the possible consequences. Creating a new identity with the knowledge of the former always left people prone to psychological problems. To create a whole new body with gender and parentage included was only worse. It put the identity crisis of pubescent youth to utter shame.
She knew that her father meant well or at least was doing his best. It wouldn't help her current situation if he constantly reminded her of her former self. His decision to delete her former self from his mind prevented further blood-shed and enabled them to form a passable parent-child-relationship. Saphira was thankful for his decision. She didn't know what she would have done if her father had treated her with hate and scorn.
The Professor was suffering himself and was just as torn as she was. She couldn't ask him for guiding when the Professor hadn't figured out his own emotional turmoil so far.
But the Lady Malfoy's actions were plain despicable.
Saphira didn't know what benefits the Lady expected from Saphira deleting any knowledge of her former life. Whatever it was, Saphira didn't want to be involved in the Lady's probably unsanctioned schemes. She tried to fight her manipulations and clung to Harry's memories as if they were her rescue rope. But the Lady Malfoy was persistent and relentless. And she was the person who Saphira spent most of her time with.
She tried to keep Harry's memories and his wishes and dreams for a future in her mind, but it was difficult. Her days were filled with etiquette lessons, having tea with the Lady Malfoy and revising what she had learned about pureblood society, its laws and customs. She woke up in the mornings feeling dread at the prospect of what she would have to experience during that day and she later returned to her quarters bone-tired and with just enough energy to have dinner, change and crawl into her bed.
She was losing her, Harry's, once self-assured and independent character bit by bit. With each day passing she turned more and more into the perfect pureblood daughter and there was nothing she could do against it.
Anger bubbled in her chest as Saphira reminded herself that she didn't even know for sure who she truly was anymore. She knew her former parents' genes, Harry's genes, had been vanished, had been destroyed and a part of them had been replaced, substituted by the blood-cleansed and as of then pureblood Dark Lord.
However, not even the Dark Lord was powerful enough to create life with just a single set of chromosomes. There had to be another set, someone else was in the picture. But so far her father hadn't shared the knowledge of her mother with her. And it was eating Saphira alive. Her mother might be alive, she might even be a regular visitor to Slytherin Manor – it was safe to assume that her father would have chosen a woman of pureblood standing with strong ties to the dark side and its leader. The thought that her mother might be alive and among her father's followers was almost unbearable.
She could cross her mother, could look her in the eyes and she wouldn't even know that the woman in front of her was her mother.
Did her mother know that she had a daughter? Had she been informed and had she consented to create a child with the Dark Lord? Was she dead and her father had chosen her genes as consent wouldn't be an issue and he wouldn't have to worry about her influence in his daughter's life? Or was she even married and the knowledge that her genes had been used to create a child with another man would both disgrace her mother as well as her husband?
Saphira didn't know and that ignorance was slowly driving her insane.
She would have to find out soon, Saphira told herself, she would have to gather her courage and ask her father for further information. She might even have to go so far as to demand it. But not this night.
She was too tired and too exhausted after the day's events. Her life had been completely uprooted and her mind ached for normalcy and quietness, while her body longed for sleep and relaxation.
Perhaps if she just sat there a little longer and continued to watch the wind blowing through the trees she would finally become tired enough to sleep fitfully once again.
"Oh, for the love of-" Lady Malfoy's exasperated voice sounded through the room. "Please, try to at least remember what I told you." The Lady huffed in annoyance and barely refrained from rolling her blue eyes.
It was early in the morning just after breakfast. The sun hadn't risen enough yet to shine with its whole force and the clouds covering the icy grey sky were hindering what few streams of light could enter through the windows. Fall was approaching with fast steps and soon the once bright and lively green leaves would turn to different shades of colourful yellow, orange and red. It would be a sight to behold.
However beautiful autumn at Slytherin Manor might be, Saphira had currently other and more pressing things on her mind.
With an aggravated sigh that rivalled the Lady Malfoy's exasperation Saphira closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. She was moments from hexing something or better someone. Ever since she had started her classes with her supposed to be instructor for all things ladylike and female, tension, anger and outright fury had grown in her chest. At first it had been a weak glow but it had festered over time and despair and had finally grown into a blazing hellfire.
Saphira barely refrained from shaking with anger and lashing out at the vicious woman with a curse that was deserving for such a foul woman. She felt drawn as bow. If there was just a little more pressure then she would break.
She forced herself to count to ten in her mind, then she exhaled slowly and with forced calmness, before she finally opened her eyes and stared at the offending woman resolutely.
The Lady Malfoy was wearing an elegant dress, one that a lady would normally wear to a formal ball or an official gathering. The light blue, nearly silvery dress emphasized her enviable figure perfectly. The strapless, heart-shaped corsage showed off her great bust size. From her hips downwards, the long skirt fell down to the floor in several layers of different length. Her blond hair was done in an elaborate updo and she wore elegant make-up. She looked like a true noblewoman.
For a stranger her appearance might have looked overdressed. However, the Lady Malfoy wasn't the only one present who looked regal.
Saphira was clad in a deep purple dress. Like Narcissa, she wore a heart-shaped bodice with two, thin straps reaching behind her neck where they were tied into an elegant bow. From her hips downwards the dress fell in wide layers of different lengths. The corsage just like the wide skirt were embroidered with small, silver rhinestones. Her black hair was done in an elegant topknot that allowed her hair to fall down to her hips in strong, lovely curls.
Unlike the Lady Malfoy, however, Saphira additionally wore a hip-long, deep purple bordering on black cape without sleeves and a stand-up collar. Directly over her breasts the cape was held together by a brooch. And there was another difference between the two ladies, small and insignificant as it may appear. The Lady Malfoy's dress was floor-length whereas Saphira's sported a court train.
Saphira angrily crossed her arms over her chest and if she looked a little like a small offended child then so be it, raised her chin in defiance and all but glared at the Malfoy Mistress.
"I do pay attention to your words, Lady Malfoy." It took all of Saphira's will-power to retain a semblance of politeness and calmness in her voice when all that she wanted to do was to scream at the unreasonable woman. "I pay attention to every single one."
The Lady Malfoy regarded her with unimpressed eyes, merely raised an eyebrow in mock question before she shook her head slowly in obvious dismay. "If that is what you call paying attention," She remarked snidely and why was she allowed to snark when Saphira wasn't? "Then we still have a lot of work before us."
Colour rose to Saphira's cheeks and all of a sudden she felt as I she was burning. The need to lash out against the woman who had made the last few weeks a living hell for Saphira became almost unbearable. But instead of slapping the offending woman senseless as she so dearly longed to, Saphira merely took a deep, calming breath, bowed her head and grit her teeth. It wouldn't help her should she manhandle the Lady Narcissa Malfoy without any real reason.
She needed to keep her cool and get over with it. It was degrading and offending that the Lady Malfoy expected her to bow to her every wish and order. Saphira was sure that the Lady was overstepping her liberties. She couldn't imagine that her father would approve of his daughter being treated as if she was a lowly pureblood girl in training. But so far he hadn't stepped in and as much as it pained her, she couldn't just attack the Lady without any proof of her wrong-doing. She had to continue her charade of a perfect pureblood heiress.
Harry would cry in dismay at what she was forced to do.
And even though Saphira felt as if she had been stabbed and someone was twisting the knife in her chest around in a horrible cruel and painful way, she knew that her current situation wouldn't warrant any actions against the Lady Malfoy.
Said lady brought her hand to her forehead and shook her head in dismay. "It is not as if I asked for the impossible." She lamented excessively and rolled her eyes in a dramatic way. "I only want you to dance. Dance, Saphira!" The Lady shook her head and placed her hands on her hips. "I want you to let your partner lead you and guide you around the room. That is all I ask from you."
Saphira could hear the superiority and the incomprehension in the Lady's voice. Her ears started to ring with supressed anger and the ire burning inside of her rose to dangerous levels. Who did this woman think she was to judge her?
It wasn't as if Saphira had learned to dance from the cradle, not as most pureblood witches and even most half-blood witches originating from old families had. Harry had spent the first fourteen years of his life without having ever set a foot on a dance floor. And even after his fourteenth year when he had been forced to participate in the blasted tournament and as such had to open the Yule Ball with Parvati, Harry's dancing experience had been grossly limited. He hadn't had more than ten dance lessons in total with his Transfiguration Professor – and wasn't that awkward and doomed to begin with? – and had only ever attended this one ball. How could have anyone expected that Harry might know how to dance?
And as Saphira her situation was a completely different matter.
Saphira straightened and squared her shoulders, then she lifted her chin and glared daggers at the Lady Malfoy. "It might be that you find it natural to dance." Saphira tried to concede. "But I do not. I can't walk properly in high heels and much less can I dance in them. The dress is uncomfortable, it causes me trouble with breathing and thanks to the train it is impossible to dance in it." Saphira took a deep calming breath and forced herself to stop her tirade of complains. She didn't want to sound like a child whining about not being allowed to have ice-cream for dinner. "How could I dance when with every step I take I step on the train? Is it really impossible for you to explain it to me in an easy manner?" Saphira asked and threw her arms in the air in exasperation. "My body may now be the one of a woman. But I wasn't born one. Can't you remember that?"
Saphira pinched the bridge of her nose and forced herself to exhale through her clenched teeth. Her hatred was burning brightly and her control over her nerves – normally fragile and slim at best – was slowly but surely slipping. If she didn't take care then she would attack the Lady Malfoy bodily, the consequences be damned.
She may be the Dark Lord's daughter but even though she may not be a genius, she wasn't stupid enough to delude herself into believing that her father would allow her to randomly attack and harm his followers.
All of a sudden Saphira felt incredibly tired. What was she doing here? The answer was simple, she was supposed to learn how to dance. But, why? What had happened to her life? She had once been a lively, joyful young man with a startling innocence and naivety to the way the wizarding world worked. Harry hadn't had any special talents – if she was honest, he had been rather good at Quidditch and seemed to have excelled in Defence Against the Dark Arts but aside from those two areas of magic he had been normal, refreshingly normal. He had worried about homework and how to approach the girl he liked, he had pondered what they would be having for lunch or dinner and what he was supposed to do during the summer break.
As Saphira she constantly had to worry about how to dress, what to wear, how to stand, walk and move. There were endless rules about when she had to be quiet, when she was allowed to talk and how she was supposed to keep a conversation going. She was spending more time taking care of her body and keeping it 'beautiful' on a daily basis than Harry had during a whole week.
What was she doing? What had become of her life?
She had thought that she could do this, she had thought that she could arrange herself with what was demanded of her as heiress of House of Slytherin. It had sounded so easy back then. Be a girl and act like a lady – how difficult could that be?
But honestly, who was she kidding?
Saphira hung her head; she could already feel the tears prickling in her eyes. She was so frustrated and so worn out. The Lady Malfoy may delude herself into believing that her instructions were clear and easy to understand and follow but Saphira struggled immensely with connecting the Malfoy Mistress' orders and the necessary movements and coordination of her limbs. She just needed time and practice. It wasn't as if she was too dumb to follow the instructions. But the Lady was granting her neither. She seemed hell-bent on teaching her what there was to know about dancing in as little time as possible.
This could only lead to failure.
Saphira closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She had made up her mind. She squared her shoulders and gazed at the Lady Malfoy with emotionless and empty eyes. "I am going quit today's lesson." She informed the Lady flatly. "I have had enough."
She spun around and walked towards the door in wide steps. Behind her she could hear the Lady Malfoy's distressed and affronted spluttering but Saphira couldn't care any less. For the last handful of hours she had been degraded, insulted and abused. Her feet hurt as did her legs and shoulders, she couldn't breathe properly and she was tired, worn out and hungry. Even if she had wanted to she couldn't have learned anything in her current state.
Letting the door fall shut with a resounding bang Saphira headed towards her personal quarters. Dressing into something comfortable and then falling face first into her soft and amazing bed sounded more and more like the perfect thing to do.
Next morning when she was rested again and her nerves were less frayed, she might come to regret her rash actions. She would probably have to smooth some ruffled feathers and appease the Lady Malfoy by acting overly sweet and girly. At the moment she felt that might be worth it.
Now she only wanted to be left alone.