12. Setting Priorities
A low sigh echoed through the silent room, only being reflected by the tall walls.
Saphira sat in one of her armchairs, her feet neatly placed under her body, a thick blanket sneaked around her body and a mug of steaming hot coffee in her hands. Carefully she blew into the mug, waited until the hot damp met her face and then took a small sip.
An appreciative smile crept over her shoulders and with a content sigh, Saphira leaned back into her armchair. After all the trouble she had been through yesterday, she had earned herself a nice day off, starting with a relaxed breakfast tea.
After they had left the room, her father had turned around and sent the very surprised and a little hurt Malfoy parents away. Next to her, Malfoy had looked at her with incredulity and obvious surprise. But even though she felt the same, Saphira had just uncaringly shrugged and quietly followed her father to her rooms.
Without a back-glance and still wordlessly, her father had opened the doors to her quarters and let himself and his three companions in. Saphira took the lead and let herself sink down in one of her armchairs, Draco doing the same as the adults remained standing. On Severus' face, she could detect the smallest sign of curiosity, but frankly, he hid them well.
A long time, nothing happened. Voldemort just stood there, his head directed to one of the windows, his arms crossed over his chest and his mind deep in thought. It left the other three occupants of the room in utmost discomfort and uneasiness. It wasn't a normal thing for the Dark Lord to just space out and be lost to the world. Whatever it was that was troubling him, it sure would hold great influence on all of them.
With a sigh, Voldemort turned around, his stern eyes resting on Draco alone, causing the young man to gulp in fear.
"What happened today is to never happen again. Saphira has to be kept save at all costs. She is too precious to fall victim to some assassination attempt. If it would be possible, I would try to take this task myself. Sadly this won't be possible."
Saphira couldn't help but scoff. Of course, leave it to her father to become so freaked out due to this small little incident. The way he spoke about it one could mean she had nearly died or would have been left very badly incapacitated. Honestly, she was grown up, an adult. She really could take care of herself.
Not that anybody believed this anyways.
"During her lessons and some official meetings which Saphira will attend, your parents and your godfather will keep an eye on her and will make sure that she is save. Sadly, they won't be able to do this all the time. During their work schedules and while they fulfill their tasks for me, Saphira will be unprotected."
A very bad feeling of foreboding suddenly crushed over Saphira and caused her to groan inwardly. By the gods, hopefully her father wouldn't do this. It was bad enough that he had to tell his followers that she had three bodyguards to keep her safe, Nagini lurking in the shadows and waiting for the right time to strike and not to forget himself. Please, by the gods, it was enough!
"Therefore I decided to give her a personal bodyguard."
His daughter's pained groan went unnoticed by the rest of the occupants.
"You will keep her safe, Draco."
Hadn't Draco Malfoy been so scared, he surely would have gaped. But he didn't.
'Good boy,' Saphira though sarcastically. 'You surely value your life a lot.'
This way all he could do was stare at his Master with wide open, shocked eyes and gulp fearfully. Whatever the Malfoy heir seemed to have expected, this hadn't been it.
Next to him, Saphira's gaze soured. Great, really great. Now she didn't only have endure the two adult Malfoys and Snape, the ever present but never be seen Nagini and her overprotective father. No, now she had to bear the presence of the annoying Malfoy heir, too.
Saphira couldn't help the sigh that left her lips. Well, from there on the evening had become hell. Her father sadly couldn't help it. He not only shocked the living daylights out of Malfoy heir, but told him in no blunt words what he had to do. Should Saphira leave her personal quarters, Draco was to accompany her. Should something happen to her on the way, Draco's head would be rolling.
Poor, little Draco.
Hours later, Saphira sat in the darkness of her room, not moving and making no sound.
Gazing at the forest longingly, she sat on the windowsill, her legs drawn up to her chest, arms wrapped firmly around them, her chin resting on her knees. Directly in front of her window was the Quidditch pitch, the perfect, wide law on the side of the pitch surrounded by large trees, forming a direct protection against wind and curious stares.
Her heart ached painfully at seeing the pitch. The pitch was were Harry had lived. Well, maybe not his body, but his heart lived there. Harry lived for and thanks to Quidditch. The wind in his hair, the rush of excitement in his veins, the strongly pounding heartbeat, his hands on the broomstick, flying around in a breakneck speed.
It was during those rare moments that Harry had felt truly and absolutely happy.
When had been the last time she had been happy like that? As Harry, she could easily pinpoint it. It was during her sixth year, while Dumbledore was still alive, the threat of approaching war, death and destruction looming, but still far away enough to be sometimes forgotten. It was during his flights on his broom, together with his friends or alone that Harry had last been truly happy.
But as Saphira? Had she been happy since she came into life? Saphira guessed that even after long pondering she would have to negate this question. She was fine, well, not exactly. She was thankful for getting a new chance to live. Saying she got a new chance to live her life would have been pure exaggeration, seeing as she wasn't allowed at all to do what she wanted. But, she figured, living a life was a lot better than living no life. Therefore she was grateful.
Besides than being grateful, Saphira had the feeling she wasn't much more. There was no excitement, no happiness, no overwhelming, mind-consuming feelings. She was just there, living each day as she was supposed to do. There was no breaking free from this daily routine, this much Narcissa and her father had made sure of. There would be no breaking free, no chance to explore and develop her character.
Sometimes she wished she was still Harry. At least he had had moments of happiness.
Was it even sane to picture yourself as two different people? Harry and Saphira? Probably not, Saphira guessed. 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 forget them even if she wanted to. Not that she did, no. Her memories were all she had at the moment. Loosing them would be the final push.
Saphira knew that her father just like Narcissa wanted her to forget Harry, to loose herself in her new identity, to forget who she had been once. It was understandable from their point of view.
They wanted to make sure she was fine, sparing her moral conflicts and the obviously insanity that was lurking in the shadows of her mind. They must have known the possible consequences: creating a new identity always left people prone to psychological problems. To create a whole new body, gender and parentage included, would only be worse.
And though she knew that both only meant well, Saphira couldn't help herself and scoff at their logic. The hell she would do and loose her last connection to her former self. It was bad enough what she was currently doing, obeying to the Dark Lord's wishes, learning dark magic and etiquette, loosing every bit of her once self-assured and independent character.
With each day passing, she turned more and more in the perfect pureblood daughter and there was nothing she could do against it.
Feeling anger bubble in her chest, Saphira remembered that she didn't even know for sure, who she really was. She knew her former parents' genes weren't there anymore. A part had been substituted by the Dark Lord.
However, not even the Dark Lord was powerful enough to create life with just a set of chromosomes. No, there had to be another set. However, until today her father hadn't cared for her to know who her mother was.
That wouldn't do.
She would find out soon, Saphira told herself. But not tonight. She was too tired and too exhausted after today's events. Having to face the Death Eaters, being introduced as the Dark Princess, being attacked by Bellatrix the vile person and having Draco bloody Malfoy be assigned as her bodyguard was just too much. Her mind ached for normalcy and quietness, while her body longed for sleep and relaxation.
Perhaps, if she just sat here a little longer, watching the wind blow through the trees, she would finally become tired enough to sleep fitfully once again.
"Oh, for the love of… please, try at least to remember what I told you." Narcissa's exasperated voice echoed through the room.
It was early in the morning, just after breakfast. The sun was 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 yellow, orange and red. It would be a sight to behold.
However, currently Saphira had other, more pressing things on her mind.
With an aggravated sigh that rivalled Narcissa's exasperation, Saphira closed her eyes and pinched her nose. She was moments from hexing something, or better, someone. Ever since she had had classes with her supposed to be teachers, tension, anger and outright fury had grown in her chest. At the moment she felt drawn bow: a little more pressure and she would brake.
Exhaling with forced calmness, Saphira opened her eyes and stared at Narcissa resolutely.
The Lady Malfoy wore an elegant dress, one a Lady would normally wear to a formal ball or an official gathering. The light blue, nearly silvery dress emphasized her great 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. She really looked like a noblewoman.
For a stranger, her appearance would have looked overdressed. However, Narcissa wasn't the only one present to look regal.
Saphira was clad in a deep purple dress. Like Narcissa, she wore an heart shaped corsage, two straps reaching behind her neck were 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, white rhinestones. Her black hair was done in an elegant topknot letting her hair fall down to her hips in strong, lively curls.
Unlike Narcissa, however, Saphira wore an hip-long, deep purple nearly black cape without sleeves and a stand-up collar. Right over her breasts, the cape was held together by a brooch. Another different was easily visible: while Narcissa's dress ended just above the floor, Saphira's had a long train.
Crossing her arms over her chest in an angry manner, Saphira raised her chin in defiance and all but glared at the Malfoy Mistress.
„I do pay attention to your words, Mrs. Malfoy. To every single one!"
Narcissa only raised an eyebrow in question, before she shook her head slowly in dismay. "If that is what you call paying attention, than we still have a lot of work before us."
Colour rose to Saphira's cheeks and suddenly she felt extremely warm. And though she wanted nothing more than slap the offending woman senseless, Saphira bowed her head and grit her teeth. It wouldn't help her should she manhandle Narcissa Malfoy without real reason.
Well, for her having to bow to Mrs. Malfoy's every wish and order. There was nothing more offending than having to act like a snobbish and stuck up pureblood witch.
Harry would cry in dismay at what she had to do.
And though she felt like being stabbed and the knife in her chest twisted around in a horrible cruel and painful way, she knew for sure that neither Narcissa nor her father would understand her reason for attacking the woman. No, how could they?
Bringing her hand to her forehead, Narcissa shook her head in dismay. "It's not as if I asked for the impossible. I only want you to dance. Dance, Saphira! To let your partner lead you, guide you around the room. That is all I ask from you."
Saphira could hear the superiority and the incomprehension in Narcissa's voice, causing the ire in her to rise to dangerous levels. Who was this woman to judge her?
It wasn't as if Saphira had learned to dance from the cradle. No, Harry had spent the first fourteen years of his life without having ever set a foot in a dance floor. And even after his fourteenth year, Harry's dancing experience had been limited. He hadn't had more than ten dance lessons in total and only ever attended a single ball. How was he to learn and know to dance?
And, well, Saphira was a totally different matter.
Rising and squaring her chin, Saphira glared daggers at Narcissa. "Maybe you find it natural to dance. But I don't! I can't walk in high heels, much less dance in them. The dress in uncomfortable and causing me trouble to breath and thanks to the train it's impossible to dance in it. How can I dance, when every time I move I step down on it? Is it really impossible for you to explain it to me in an easy manner? I may now be a woman. But I wasn't born one! Can't you remember that?"
Saphira pinched the brink of her nose and forced herself to exhale through her nose. Her ire was burning brightly and her control over her nerves – normally fragile at best – was slowly but surely slipping. If she didn't take care, then she would attack Narcissa Malfoy bodily, her son and the consequences be damned.
She was the Dark Lord's daughter and though no genius, she wasn't stupid enough to believe her father would allow her to randomly attack and harm his followers.
Suddenly Saphira felt incredibly tired. What was she doing here? She was learning to dance. But why? What had happened to her life? She once was a lively, joyful young man, startling innocent and ingenuous to the way the wizarding world worked. Harry hadn't had any special talent – true, he was good at Quidditch and seemed to excel in Defence Against the Dark Arts, but aside from that he had been normal, refreshingly normal. He worried about homework and how to approach a girl, what would be there for lunch and dinner and what to do during the summer break.
Now Saphira constantly had to worry about how to dress, what to wear, how to stand, walk, move. When to be quiet, when to talk and how to keep a conversation going. She was spending more time taking care of her body, 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 she could do this, had thought she could arrange herself with what was demanded of her as heiress of Slytherin. It had sounded so easy back then. Be a girl – how difficult could that be?
But honestly, who was she kidding.
Saphira hung her head; she could already feel the tears prickling her eyes. She was so frustrated, so worn out. Narcissa may believe her instructions clear and easy, but Saphira struggled immensely with connecting the Malfoy Mistress' orders and the movement and coordination of her limbs. She needed time and practice, Saphira knew that for sure. It wasn't as if she was too dumb to follow the instructions. But Narcissa was granting her neither. She seemed hell-bent on teaching her what there was to know about dancing in as little time as possible.
Straightening her shoulders, Saphira gazed at Narcissa flatly. "I quit today's lesson. I have had enough."
She could hear the Malfoy Mistress' distress and affronted spluttering, but Saphira couldn't care less. For the last handful of hours she had been degraded, insulted and abused. Her feet hurt, as did her legs and shoulders, she was tired, worn out and hungry. Even if she wanted to, she couldn't learn anything anymore in this state.
Letting the door fall shut with a resounding bang, Saphira headed towards her chambers. Dressing into something comfortable and then falling face first into her soft, amazing bed was sound more and more pleasant.
Tomorrow she would talk to her father and try to explain herself. She would probably have to sooth ruffled feathers and appease Narcissa by acting overly sweet and girl. But it would be worth it. Now she only wanted to be alone.