A/N: From now on I'll be deviating from canon in potions recipes and procedure when I need to, so pay no mind to how Potions like the Boil-cure are supposed to be made.

A/N2: There's no lore that mentions the twins' eye color, I don't think, but Ron has blue eyes, so that's what I'm going with.

A Pureblood Pretense

Chapter Seven:

The next morning, Rigel took the shortcut through the dueling knights tapestry on the fourth floor toward the Owlrey. She made her way carefully in the pitch blackness, noticing that the cloistered space made it hard to hear anything, but about five steps up the narrow stairway she was thrown off her feet by a solid body crashing into her.

"Woah!" a young, male voice cried out as they fell tumbling downwards, "Oi, Gred, there's someone else in here!" he added when he'd landed.

Rigel pushed the boy, who had knocked her back down to the small space between the back of the tapestry and the stairs, gently but firmly off of her lower legs so they didn't get crushed and bruised any more than they were.

"Lumos," a second voice came from about halfway up the steps. The light from the wand, held high above its owner's head, revealed her attackers to be none other than the Weasley Twins. She would recognize their hair, the same shade as Ron's, if not their unique mannerisms.

The one on the floor next to Rigel stood and offered a hand down to her, which she took. He hauled her up cheerfully, making a grand show of checking her shoulders and head for imaginary dirt, "Alright there?" he asked, "Can't tell if that's muck or just the color of your hair in this light."

"'Course she's not," the other one said bounding down the stairs to get a look at her in his wand light, "Terribly sorry, chap. Forge here has always been the clumsy one."

Rigel opened her mouth, but they cut across her with their lightning-fast responses.

"Don't listen to him, good fellow," 'Forge' said, "I'm not the clumsy one, Gred is the forgetful one. He forgot that I'm the pretty one, and he's the clumsy one, which is why I usually go first down these stairs and therefore I was the one who ran into you."

Rigel nodded in a way that conveyed more acceptance than understanding.

"Unfortunately, Forge is also the rude one," the other said, "I'm Fred, maybe."

"George, likewise."

"And we're the Weasley Twins," they chorused.

"Never heard of you," Rigel said absolutely deadpan.

Their faces split into identical grins.

"A kindred spirit!" George crowed.

"He jokes! An heir!" Fred laughed delightedly and ruffled her hair violently. It turned out there was dirt in it, and Rigel sneezed, causing them to laugh again.

"We must know the name of our prodigy," George declared.

"Indeed, who is it that possesses such a refined sense of bodily humor?" Fred asked.

"I'm Rigel," she said, a little unnerved at standing in a dark secret passageway she wasn't expecting anyone else to even know about with the two most infamous trouble makers in the school.

"Rigel, Rigel," Fred muttered, glancing questioningly at his twin, "Doesn't ring a bell."

"You sure that's your name?" George asked, "Don't feel too bad, I forget mine's Forge all the time."

"Silly, I'm Forge," Fred said, "I told you he was the forgetful one."

"Actually, it was your brother who told me that /you/ were the forgetful one," Rigel said, "Back when he was Forge instead of you."

"Ah, yes," Fred looked confused for a moment, "Well, I guess he was right, though of course if it was Fred that told you that it might as well have been me. I'm Fred most of the time."

Rigel didn't even try to make sense of that.

"Clever little thing; you a Ravenclaw, Rigel?" George asked. He peered at her robes and Rigel realized she hadn't put on her green and silver tie that morning. She had been planning on grabbing it before breakfast.

"I'm a Slytherin," she told them honestly. She expected them to recoil, as if they were the snakes, but if anything their grins got even wider, making them look manic in the dim wand light. Rigel thought she had good reason to be concerned.

"Now I know why your mud-colored hair looks familiar," George said, "You're Sirius Black's son, Arcturus."

"And we thought we had trouble with names," Fred shook his head sadly, "You've gone and given yourself a whole new one."

If only you knew.

"Rigel is my middle name," she said, "But yes, Sirius Black is my father."

"Is it true he once performed a Conditional Transfiguration on the Main Stair that turned it into a slide every time someone said the word 'homework' while standing on it?" Fred asked, grabbing her hands and swinging them like a five year old.

"Actually, that was James Potter," Rigel said, amazed that they had even heard of that prank. The Marauders had published a book of jokes and pranks a few years after Rigel and Archie were born, which had been a huge success at Zonko's Joke Shop, but as far as she knew that one wasn't in it, "My dad was the one who charmed the mirrors in the bathrooms on the first, third, and fifth floors to spit grape juice at anyone who tried to walk out without washing their hands."

The twins stared, their cobalt blue eyes as wide and bright as galleons.

"That was him? There's a mirror on the fifth floor that still does that!" Fred exclaimed.

"The Marauders are our heroes," George explained.

"Yeah," Fred bounced on his toes as he spoke, "The Marauder Line at Zonko's always has the best prank supplies. Our parents actually knew them when they were seventh years at Hogwarts and the Marauders were just really noisy firsties."

"Who'd have thought they'd go on to be legends?" George shook his head in apparent amazement.

"Imagine being raised by the four of them," Fred said, "Was it as wonderful as it sounds?"

"Only three, actually," Rigel said, used to having to explain this. The Marauder Line was labeled with MWP&P, and even though Peter wasn't around anymore, they left his moniker, Wormtail, on their line of products in tribute to the time of childish, care-free joy that had inspired them, "Peter Pettigrew, the fourth Marauder, doesn't associate with the other three anymore. He joined the Cow Movement and decided he couldn't afford such juvenile friends."

The twins nodded solemnly. The S.O.W. Movement- standing for Save Our World, but oh so affectionately dubbed the Cow Party by its opponents- was a radical political movement headed by Mr. Riddle that sought to "cleanse" the world of undesirables. It was this Party that pushed for Hogwarts to close its doors to muggleborns, citing security risks.

"It really was wonderful, though," Rigel went on, "If you like waking up with purple scales where your hair used to be every now and then."

"Wicked," they breathed as one.

"I guess," she said, "Now if you'll excuse me, I need to mail a letter before breakfast."

"Not to worry, little puppy," Fred declared, "We know the way, so we'll escort you. It's right through-" he faltered and glanced about the passage way, "Actually, the fastest way is up these stairs, so I'm guessing from your presence that you already knew that..." he trailed off sheepishly.

George elbowed him in the side, "As if the next-generation Marauder doesn't know his way around the castle. Our little pup was probably born with the sacred knowledge."

"Still, you couldn't ask for better company this fine morning," Fred said, taking one of her arms and looping it through his like a dandy.

George did the same one her other side, saying, "Too true, brother mine. And it would be oh so irresponsible of us as Gryffindors to allow a baby snake to wander the nest unattended."

"Quite so," George said, "Shall we?"

"We shall."

With that the two redheads began towing her up the stairs, skipping over the trick step automatically and lifting her over it like a child between them. They chatted all the way to the Owlrey, leaping from topic to topic with all the grace of a pair of fire dancers who had leapt over flames together all their lives.

"-and don't even get me started on Percy," Fred shuddered dramatically, "Ron's an alright sort, for a hot-headed git-"

"Though he might not be so hot-headed if we hadn't fed him so many pepper imps when he was little," George put in thoughtfully.

"-but our brother Percy is a rule-lover," Fred whispered the term like it was a reference to sacrilege.

"Is he a redheaded prefect?" Rigel asked.

"Oh, the shame," Fred sighed, "Trickster gods help him, he is."

"He helped me out on the train, I think" Rigel said, thinking fast, "And since he's your brother I feel that he deserves a proper thank you. Why don't you introduce me later?"

Fred and George turned their sharp eyes toward one another in a silent conference that only true soul mates could usually perform. Rigel knew they were looking for the trick, the turn, the moment the joke becomes apparent and effective; the punch line. She also knew they wouldn't find it, because they didn't have all the pieces of the puzzle.

"Sure, we'll introduce you," Fred said slowly.

"Though if you're planning to prank the poor sot we insist that no permanent harm be done to him. He is our brother, after all," George warned. He was smiling, but there was marble in the way his jaw firmed and his chin tilted. Rigel was suddenly glad she wasn't planning on crossing any of the other Weasleys. They had more protection than they probably realized.

"I just want to talk to him," Rigel said, "It's always nice to have an upperclassman to go to for advice, and he seems the type to enjoy giving it out."

"Too true, that," Fred said ruefully, "Well this is the Owlrey, so we'll leave you to your business."

"Look us up after last period and we'll introduce you to Perc," George added over his shoulder as they descended the steps once more, "We'll be down by the lake with Lee."

Rigel watched them go before reaching into her pockets and pulling out the letters she needed to send. The first one, to Draco's mother, was simple enough.

Dear Mrs. Malfoy,

Thank you for the gracious invitation to watch this year's first Quidditch game with your family. I would be honored to sit with you and your son, as well as your husband if he, too, is attending, as long as it is no inconvenience. I look forward to being formally introduced.

Yours Sincerely,

Arcturus Rigel Black

She rolled the letter carefully so that the Black family crest on the paper was visible, and tied it with a green ribbon to a young owl with gentle claws.

"Take this to Narcissa Malfoy," she said softly. The owl flew gracefully through the window, and Rigel turned to the second letter. This one was much less formal, but much more complicated. She couldn't risk the letter being read by someone else, so she'd had to write it in a sort of code.

Dear Harry,

How are you! I miss you so, so much and don't you dare roll your eyes at me- I know you secretly deep down miss me too. How are classes going? I was surprised to hear you were starting the Healing program, but I think you'll do great. Just don't let it affect your Potions studies, haha, as if anything could! So guess who I ran into today? Marcus Flint! You know, the guy who always sits with me and Dad at the Quidditch games. Oh, wait, I never told you about him, did I? Oops, well he's an old friend of mine, and I didn't expect to see him here at Hogwarts. We spent all yesterday catching up, and he remembers almost everything I've ever told him, isn't that something? I felt bad that I couldn't do the same, but you know how terrible my memory is. You're always having to remind me of things.

Anyway, classes are going well. I made a few friends, with Draco Malfoy of all people if you can believe it, and Pansy Parkinson, as well as a few Weasleys, and of course there's Marcus. You know, I think you would like Marcus. He's really laid back for an upperclassman, and definitely not the type to cause drama or trouble just because he can. I think he prefers to settle his problems under the table haha, and I know you always tell me I should be less dramatic and just deal with things. I think I'm getting better at that. Maybe I'll introduce you this summer and the two of you can write while we're at school. I worry about you all the way in America by yourself.

Anyway, I hope you're well.

Your cousin,


P.S. I'm not really going by Archie anymore. I think it's time I took a more mature name, so I've been using my middle name- what do you think? Maybe I'll go back to being Archie someday, but for now it's just Rigel.

There. She rolled the second letter and sent it off with a Screech Owl, another kind of code between the two of them. Sending a letter with a Screech Owl meant it was important, but still safe to read around others. A Barn Owl meant nothing important, just general news, and an Eagle Owl meant an emergency.

She was pleased with the letter, though if it hadn't been Archie she was sending it to it could have been a little more subtle. Still, she had warned him that Flint was here, that he recognized her as not Archie, but that he was making a deal instead of reporting them. She'd told him to write Flint himself and also to "remind" her of any other things she was supposed to "remember" about Archie's life. She'd also reminded him not to slack too much in Potions, which would be a give away to their parents when they saw grade reports, and warned him to refer to her as Rigel.

Seeing that the sun was already up and climbing, Rigel hurried down to breakfast. Draco and Pansy were talking about their Herbology assignment, which Rigel was planning on doing during lunch. She didn't think Draco or Pansy would appreciate her cutting it so close, so she stayed mostly out of the conversation, only giving her typical one or two word responses when required to. When the post came, she looked up automatically, but was actually quite surprised to see two owls swoop down onto her breakfast and thrust their legs at her.

One she recognized. It was Uncle Sirius' tawny owl. It had a permanently rumpled look that Rigel thought Sirius had chosen it for, and before she'd left home she and Archie had had to bribe the family owls for weeks to convince them to bring their letters to one another. Owls were really much cleverer than most people gave them credit for. She took that letter and waved the owl, Ruffles, graciously toward her bacon as she curiously took the other owl's letter. It looked like a common school owl, and when she peeked at the letter she understood why. It was from Flint.

That was fast she thought, stowing that one in her pocket to read later. She unfolded the first letter instead, the one from Sirius.


How are you? You sounded good in your letter, but then again I've never known you to not sound good, not that I could actually hear your letter as sound of course, I just meant that you write with a very strong voice-

Moony says I'm rambling, but what does he know? Anyway, glad things are going so well, son. I know you wanted to go to a school with a better Healing program, but your experience at Hogwarts will far out-weigh any head start on your adult career. Don't be in such a hurry to grow up!

So have you pranked anyone yet? That Defense Professor sounds like a perfect trial target, or maybe one of those snake roommates of yours- no, I'm not mad about your House, and I'm not just saying that because Moony is hitting me for making cracks at your new friends. Ouch, yeah he's got quite a swat, our Moony. Almost as good as Lily's. OUCH! Okay so I deserved that. Anyway, Arch, I should have known you'd be a Slytherin with all that ambition to be a Healer, of course that's honest ambition, not really Slytherin ambition, but the hat probably can't tell the difference.

But if you're going to be a Slytherin, you're gonna have to go all the way with it- no half-arsed Slytherins in our family! I've redecorated the entire house on green and silver and I expect you to try out for your House Quidditch Team, even if you don't like the game as much as Harri does. James says she doesn't think she'll have time to play for her school team, since she'll be doing boring stuff like studying instead- I know, what a waste of talent! I've checked with the Board of Governors (are you sure Malfoy's not evil?) and the rules have been recently changed in the interest of security, so that parents can't come watch the games anymore. It's apparently only students, staff, and Board of Governors members now, so I won't get to see you play, but you can still tell me all about it in loving detail. Moony wants to write now, so have fun, and don't work too hard.

Love, Dad.

Hey Archie, it's Remus, how's school? I hope you don't think your father is serious- no not that joke again!- when he says not to focus on your studies. Have fun, and trying out for Quidditch is a great idea, but learns lots too, so that you can achieve the ambition that got you into Slytherin House. We wouldn't want all this green and silver tinsel to go to waste. No, I'm afraid I'm not joking. There are dancing snakes in the front yard, too. Hurry home for Christmas Break and control your father!

Love, Uncle Remus.

Rigel smiled and tucked the letter into her book bag. She hoped Sirius and Remus never changed, because there weren't enough light-hearted people in the world as it was. Sirius seemed to be climbing back from the dark place he'd sunk to after the tragic death of his wife as well. He was designing jokes for Zonko again, and Rigel would try (as Archie) to convince him to start going to Wasp games again, too.

She, Pansy, and Draco finished breakfast and headed to Potions. They had the practical lesson today, and Rigel was vibrating with anticipation. After that speech yesterday, she really hoped Professor Snape meant to teach them something wonderful. As soon as the bell rang and class began, however, Snape just strode in and waved his wand at the blackboard, causing a recipe to appear there, along with a page number for where the Potion could be found in their textbook. Rigel recognized it easily as a Potion to cure boils. Her heart fell back into a normal rhythm as she realized they would be starting with Potions that were little more than herbal remedies. She only hoped they moved quickly onto the more fascinating concoctions. She had been waiting to try things like Polyjuice, Amortentia, and Wolfsbane, partially because the ingredients were so expensive and dangerous and mostly because the Potions were illegal to brew outside of a classroom without a license.

She flipped to the correct page in her textbook to make sure the Potion was transcribed correctly just to have something to do. She knew the Boil-cure Potion wouldn't take very long to make, so she wasn't in any hurry to get started like some of her more eager (or perhaps fearful) classmates. She went through the motions of putting her textbook back under the table and setting up her station fluidly, not even needing to go to the student cupboards for a Potion like this. All the ingredients were in their basic kits.

She heated, then settled the flame under the cauldron and waited for the entire bottom to get hot before adding the first ingredients- the wet ones that would form the base. There were no tricks to this Potion; it was basic add and stir, with a few extra steps for filtering and re-heating, so she glanced around at the other students while she stirred slowly, counting first clockwise and then counterclockwise in her head. Crabbe was squinting hopelessly at the blackboard. Nott was enthusiastically, but barbarically, chopping his dandelion roots; his potion would be slightly too acidic to use on human skin judging by the way the violent motion of his knife was making the edges of the roots ragged. They would likely catch the frog spores and prevent them from dissolving like they should, and when the roots were strained out, the spores, needed to sooth the tincture, would be strained out too.

Rigel herself had a set of beautiful platinum knives that Remus, Lily, and Archie had all chipped in to get her for her tenth birthday. She normally used them for everything, as they were less reactive than silver and handled heat better than mercury, but she thought their quality would be wasted on a Boil-cure Potion, and so opted to use the basic silver-lined steel that came with the first-year kit. Rigel took a moment to appreciate her short hair. It made for much easier brewing. There was a girl in a Gryffindor tie who was dangling her hair in her cauldron, which wouldn't do much except make her hair smell like swamp gas, but it was bad sanitation practice all the same.

Rigel guessed she understood why Snape was starting with such a boring Potion if this is what he had to work with. It's not like the school let in muggle-born students, who would understandably have no idea what to do. These kids all had magical parents, so why we're they so clueless about basic brewing techniques? It's one of the only things you can teach a kid before they have a wand, after all, and most purebloods had tutors in History and such. She took her Potion off the fire before adding the porcupine quills (she had learned the hard way what happened if you switched those two steps, and the black mark where her cauldron had been still hadn't come out of her mother's rug. From then on she was only allowed to "experiment" in the basement.

With at least half an hour of their block period to spare, Rigel bottled her sample and cleared her space. She had taken her time with her Potion, so really most people should be finished by now, but only Draco and Goyle were finished. Though in Goyle's case it was less that he'd completed his Potion and more that his Potion was simply finished. It looked like black tar congealed in the bottom of his cauldron, but he was gamely scraping some out and into a vial, so that was something.

Draco was yawning dramatically beside his finished sample, which would probably work as a boil-cure, if whoever was using it didn't get so nauseous from inhaling the undercooked dillysprout fumes that they couldn't apply it properly. She supposed he may well gloat, since he had still done better than most. Pansy was glaring at her Potion, which was a cheerful yellow-colored soup when it was supposed to be a dark green paste. Rigel thought she'd probably skipped the step that told you to add the knotgrass entirely. Knotgrass was a thickening agent and green enough to be responsible for the final ideal color. Neville's Potion wasn't too bad, just off-color and emitting faint brown smoke. He'd probably just gotten nervous and lost count of his counterclockwise stirring. The smoke made her remember that the contacts she had in were gas-permeable, which meant any chemicals in the air would stick to them and be trapped in her eyes. She would have to wash them out thoroughly in the sink after class and see about asking Professor Snape to perform a protection spell on her eyes before each practical, or else getting a pair of goggles.

She and Draco packed up their station and took their samples to Professor Snape's desk. He had spent the lesson watching the students closely like a bird of prey, circling those students who seemed weak, but instead of death, it was salvation that was delivered to them when he swooped down. Oh, he wasn't nice about it, but he had stopped several explosions from occurring involving mishandled porcupine quills already. He nodded curtly as they left their samples on his desk, not even glancing at them. He was sitting now that the dangerous steps were out of the way, but his eyes still moved restlessly about the room. Rigel thought he looked rather disappointed with what he saw, and in that impulsive way she had sometimes she decided then and there that she would try and rekindle Professor Snape's optimism for his students. She would try her best, even on dinky little barely-Potions like this one, and show him that there was at least one student who wanted to learn what he had to teach.

"When you are finished you may get started on an eight-inch essay regarding the safety precautions one should take while working with such things as volatile ingredients, open flames, and sharp cutting implements," Snape barked loudly, "Due Monday."

Nobody dared to groan. Rigel took out a fresh roll of parchment and began her essay. She could see Draco glancing at her paper from the corner of his eyes, but she didn't look over. If he had a question he would ask. Sure enough, when she started a new paragraph he whispered, "Are you going to write the whole thing from memory?"

She nodded, mentally organizing her points as she worked. She thought it would be better to write the essay in the chronological order of the safety precautions one should take, instead of grouping them by the danger they prevented or combated.

Draco hummed disbelievingly, "Then what are you putting for dealing with the flames? It's not like you can just make them colder if you want the Potion to work," he said.

"You should start by tying back all loose articles of clothing. Sleeves should be rolled, hair tied back, etc. This way you won't catch on fire by accident. Then you should clear away unnecessary materials. None of the Potions ingredients are wrapped in paper for a reason. The glass jars are resistant to heat, but if your textbook is on the table by the flame and someone walks by and bumps your station it could easily go up in flames. That's why Professor Snape puts the recipe on the board even though it's also in the book. When the cauldron is on the fire, you don't want your book anywhere near it," she said all this while writing about the merits of using built-in fumigation spells when working with certain ingredients, "That enough to start?"

"Uh, yeah," Draco shook his head ruefully, "You really do know all this. I thought maybe you were making your Potion without the textbook to show off your memorization skills," he admitted, "I never would have guessed so much thought went into everything."

"Seventy percent of all serious magical accidents involve Potions, not including Flying accidents," Rigel said absently, "There's an entire specialized field in Potions that deals with improving safety in the lab and educating people about the dangers of certain ingredients and tools."

"You're like a Potions encyclopedia, Rigel," Pansy said quietly as she pulled up a chair. She had come over to their table to work on her essay after giving up on turning her Potion green somehow. Rigel just shrugged. When you liked something, you knew stuff about it.

"Yeah, Snape is sure to notice eventually," Draco said reassuringly, "He's just always really busy and distracted at the start of term. I used to never see him from August until October."

"If he doesn't, I'll just have to try harder," Rigel said.

"Or you could just... tell him what your ambitions are," Draco said, "He was serious in his speech on Monday. Snape takes really good care of his Slytherins. All you have to do is ask and he'll do almost anything for one of his snakes."

"Where's the fun in that?" she asked as she measured the inches she had written.

"I can't tell if he's serious," Pansy told Draco.

Uncle Sirius would be pleased to know that so many Slytherins were being mistaken for him, she thought wryly, but she wasn't serious, not really. Perhaps Snape might be willing to dance on a limb for any of the others, but for the son of his enemy? No, she would have to prove that she was worth his time and effort.

She double-checked that she had eight-and-three-quarter inches of medium-small writing. Not exactly eight, which would indicate she gave up the essay as soon as she could, but not long enough that it seemed she didn't respect his requirements.

The bell rang as she was brushing the drying sand off of her essay. She rolled it up and waved Draco and Pansy to go ahead of her. She watched the rest of the class file out, shoulders slumped dejectedly, and when it was clear that Snape had no pressing business after class, but was just tidying up the room, she approached him. He had his back to her, wiping the blackboard clean with his wand, when she coughed quietly (an actual cough, not one of those annoying 'hem' noises some people made).

He turned his head sharply, nostrils flared, and Rigel was struck with the idea that he was a man who had lived with danger over his shoulder if his immediate response to being surprised was to locate the source and supply oxygen to the brain for quick-thinking. His face assumed the blank expression she was coming to associate with herself, and he lowered his wand carefully, as if he had to think hard about leaving himself open to attack around her. She hoped now that her short hair and grey eyes didn't make her look too much like Sirius, though that had been her original intention.

"Mr. Black," he looked down his prominent nose at her, but kept his voice studiously neutral, "Do you have a question about the lesson or essay?"

"No, Sir," she said as politely and deferentially as she could. She kept her hands still and her eyes at a level just below his, "I've finished my essay, and I was wondering if you would be able to give me an additional assignment for the weekend."

She met his eyes for a moment but found only blank fathoms there.

"I would of course understand if you had no time to grade a second essay," she added, hoping she wasn't being too presumptuous with his time.

He blinked hard, once, and lowered his chin to catch her eye directly, "Any extra work would be factored into your grade as if it were required, and do not make the mistake of believing that doing twice as much means you can work half as diligently on each."

"Of course, sir," she kept his gaze steadily, willing him to take a chance on her. He turned his head toward his desk until his eyes came to rest on the sample labeled "Black." Snape pursed his lips and frowned sharply at the innocuous vile of green paste.

"Give me the essay I have already assigned, and if I find that it is neither rushed and sloppy nor hopelessly inaccurate I will consider giving you an additional assignment," he held out his hand for her scroll, which she handed over, "Come to my office after dinner to either collect this essay for revision or receive more work."

"Yes, sir," she nodded shortly, "Thank you."

She walked quickly over to her table and grabbed her things, aware that he could not go to lunch until the classroom was emptied, and also aware that she had a Herbology assignment to complete in the next hour. If she had looked back she would have seen Snape checking the essay she'd handed him for prank jinxes, but as it was she headed obliviously for the gamekeeper's hut, filled with hope that Professor Snape would find merit with her work.

The gamekeeper, Hagrid, was very friendly. When she knocked on his door she was bowled over by a huge (to her) dog named Fang, who apparently thought she needed a second bath that day and generously slobbered all over her.

"Fang!" the large man growled, "Get off 'im."

"It's quite alright," she said, wiping her face on her sleeve, "I was wondering if it would be okay if I took a sample of soil from your garden, Mr. Hagrid, for my Herbology assignment."

"Just Hagrid," he smiled kindly down at her, "And take whatever ya need, just keep an eye ter the forest."

"Okay, thank you, Hagrid," she said, and headed over to his pumpkin patch. She took a sample from the soil and, spying a patch of knotgrass just inside the line of trees bordering the Forbidden Forest, she darted in to grab a sample from there as well, thinking it would be more interesting to compare them. Then she headed back to the castle with her samples to analyze them. They'd been shown a spell to separate the components of dirt in class, but she couldn't do it yet, so she went to the Great Hall to ask an older student to do it for her.

"Where have you been?" Pansy asked when Rigel sat down at the Slytherin table, "Professor Snape came in ten minutes ago."

"I was playing with dirt," she said. Pansy screwed up her face in confused distaste until Rigel pulled out her soil samples and set them on the bench next to her, safely away from anyone's food.

"Oh, our Herbology assignment," she frowned, "You haven't done it yet? It's due next period."

"That's why I'm doing it now," Rigel said, picking up a pea from the platter in front of her and lobbing it in a graceful arch toward Adrian Pucey. It bounced against his cheek bone and he whipped his head around toward them in bewildered offense.

"Draco," Rigel said reprovingly, "I asked you to get his attention, not throw your food at him!"

Draco's mouth fell open as Pucey looked from Rigel, to Draco, to Draco's plate, which did indeed have peas on it. Pucey frowned, obviously thinking it strange that Draco, a well-bred young scion, not to mention the son of Narcissa Malfoy née Black, would throw food at him, but just then Rigel turned 'the look' on him and he forgot all about the pea.

"Pucey, would you mind helping me with this spell? Professor Sprout showed it to us, but I couldn't see very well from the back of the class," she widened her eyes further, and saw his features soften into an indulgent smirk, "And I have to get this soil separated by next period."

Pucey moved down the bench and took out his wand, "No problem, Black, though you really shouldn't leave things until the last minute like this."

"I just wanted to try by myself first," she mumbled in a way that sounded embarrassed.

"That's good," the older boy nodded, "But next time ask for help earlier. Any Slytherin will lend a hand."

"For a price," Draco snorted, staring in a way that was both disgusted and grudgingly impressed.

"That's right!" Rigel said, sounding dismayed and apologetic, "I'll make it up to you, Pucey, I swear. Anytime you need help with Potions, just let me know," she nodded earnestly.

Pucey gave her a look that clearly said he'd never be taking her up on her offer, because how often would he have a question a first-year could answer, but said, "I accept, thank you." He waved his wand over her samples and muttered a spell. The soils separated into layers within the sample jars so that she could clearly identity the components. On the bottom were the small rocks, then a layer of sand and dirt, followed by a thin layer of minerals, then any organic matter trapped in the sample, and on the top was a layer of water, magically prevented from re-absorbing into the sand and dirt. It was a matter of minutes for Rigel to write down all the parts in each, as well as what plants the textbook said would grow well there, and she was done before Pansy started her second cup of tea.

"Thanks, Pucey, this is perfect," she said, smiling just the tiniest bit up at him.

"Anytime," he said dazedly, stowing his wand once more.

"Oh, for the love of Salazar," Draco scowled and this time really did throw one of his peas at Pucey, "Are you a Slytherin or not, man? Can't you see he's playing you?"

"What?" Pucey said blankly, looking from Rigel to Draco, unable to make the connection.

"You-" Draco glanced at her and scowled, "Rigel, turn that face off right now."

Rigel adopted her more usual solemn expression and let her eyes go flat by bringing her lashes down a fraction. Pucey frowned at her, shaking his head perplexedly.

"Don't worry about it," Pansy told him patronizingly, "Rigel got Draco with that earlier and it took him several minutes to snap out of it."

"Only because no one helped me," Draco narrowed his eyes at her, "In fact, I vaguely recall you and Nott laughing. And you," he rounded on Rigel, "You can't just go around looking at people like that when you want something from them-"

"I'll try to avoid looking at people in the future."

"-it's completely unfair, not to mention creepy-" Draco ranted.

"But it gets me what I want."

"Rigel's got a point," Pansy said, "You two are the ones who weren't sly enough to see though him. You're only mad because it worked."

"Thanks Pansy," Rigel said sweetly, "You're the only one who gets me." She tilted her head so the light shone on her contacts and gave the blonde girl a tremulously grateful smile.

"Uh, yeah," Pansy stared, mouth slightly open, "You... Huh."

Draco and Pucey snickered as Rigel dropped "the look" and smiled quite evilly.

"Not so fun when it's turned on you, is it?" Draco poked Pansy in the arm, "Do you see why this weapon must be controlled?"

"You should probably not use that on any girls, Rigel," Pansy said slowly, "I'm your friend, but a couple of those looks could send the wrong impression to a girl, especially coming from the son of Sirius Black, no offense."

"I usually don't, because girls trust me implicitly without 'the look,' but I sort of wanted to watch you lose your brain for a minute," Rigel said earnestly.

"The point is," Draco said, "It's your own fault that you put off your assignment so late- and no I don't believe that crap about you wanting to do it yourself- and Pucey did you a real favor, which you can't get out of by just turning your face into a baby unicorn or something," he lectured, turning to include Pucey as well, "And you will take Rigel up on his offer to return the favor."

"But-" Pucey started.

"No buts," Draco said firmly, "Rigel can probably help you with any Potions problem you have, and if he can't, he'll go to the library and figure it out for you, won't he?" Draco glared pointedly at her.

"Well I wouldn't trust most of the library books on Potions, as generic Potions books often contradict one another," Rigel said, adding quickly as Draco frowned at her, "But, yes, feel free to ask and sorry I deceived you."

"If you're sure..." Pucey said, "Thanks, I guess."

"Same," Rigel said, packing away her Herbology assignment and grabbing a few bites to eat before lunch was over. Pansy shook her head at Draco's zealous behavior and Rigel's complete insincerity, but simply sipped her tea and let the wizards be foolish if they wanted to, as any good pureblooded witch would.

[end of chapter seven]

A/N: Just to clarify, 'the look' is in no way intended to make Rigel / Harriett look like a damsel in distress or something, which would completely defeat the point of her disguise. I imagine it more as a boy-chan style puppy-dog eyed look, like Honey from Ouran High School Host Club might display, which is cute and disarming, but not at all necessarily feminine. It was just intended to give Rigel a mischievous side. I imagine her like the main character from Nabari no Ou, who is cool on the surface but can easily act in different characters in order to get his way by pretending to be helpless or stupid and throw people off guard. No one ever suspects a person they think as stupider or weaker than themselves of deceiving them.