Chapter 1

In the times of the dark and powerful reign of Voldemort, it was often thought that the more connected you were, the safer you would be. By that logic, Draco Malfoy should have felt like one of the safest people in the world. After all, he was from one of the purest lineages that the Wizarding world had to offer. His family, the Malfoys, were a highly respectable one. Everyone knew who they were and no one tried to cross them. His family even held ranks within the inner circle of the Dark Lord himself. So why was it that Draco was now fearing for the life of everyone he held dearly?

Draco watched the cabinet eagerly. He had been working on it for months, just cleaning it up and trying to get it to work properly. His time was quickly ticking, like the grains of sand of an hourglass, falling at a rapid pace. He needed to make progress fast, or it would be too late for him and everyone else he cared about. He was in the Room of Hidden Things, as he found it was called. It was in an area that he was fairly certain none knew existed, so it made it all the better to use for his mission from the Dark Lord himself.

His aunt told him that it was a real privilege. That doing this would be good for the Malfoy name. The Dark Lord had told him that it would help him redeem his family's wrongdoings in the eyes of those who mattered. His mother, however, didn't say a thing. He knew that she was scared for him, but that it was not her place to say anything. So she kept her distance from her only son. Draco wasn't sure what to think. It was what he had wanted for as long as he could remember. Now he would be able to help rid the world of the old crack-bag of a Headmaster that Hogwarts possessed, while finally being able to please his family at the same time. He would finally have the respect of his father, a man he had been trying so long to please. So why did he feel so unsure and conflicted?

"Get a grip," he scolded himself. He was just feeling nervous because of his recent failure. He needed to keep working on this, so he could get it right.

He placed the tiny yellow bird into the dark depths of the cabinet, hoping for the small animal's sake, that it would work. He closed the doors and closed his eyes. He felt the seconds tick away, until several moments had passed. He opened the door gingerly, hoping that something had changed due to the several repairing spells he used since the last time he used the cabinet. He looked inside and felt his heart fluctuate upon seeing nothing inside the hallowed space. It had worked! The bird had vanished to the twin cabinet in Borgin and Burkes. He closed the door again, and waited for a few more minutes to pass. He loosened his tie nervously as he waited, hoping that for once he would be successful in the task he received over the summer. He once again opened the cabinet, only to find that the once lively yellow bird was now lying on its side at the bottom of the cabinet. The yellowness had paled considerably and all the life had been sucked out of the small creature.

"Damn it," he thought inwardly as he kicked the cabinet in front of him. Once again, he had failed to meet the task he had been given. He slid down against the wall behind him and buried his head between his hands. He felt like screaming with frustration. "Why is life always so unfair to me?" he thought bitterly as a few angry tears glistened, filling his pale green eyes.

It seemed sometimes that everyone else had it easier than he; people like Potter. Draco would never admit it to anyone else, but sometimes he felt jealous of the Boy-Who-Lived. Not because he wanted his life or the fame; Merlin knows that the Malfoys held enough prestige. But Potter had something that Draco knew he never once would have for himself. He had friends who were loyal to him. Potter had people by him to support him through everything he went through. Even if they were as lowly as a mudblood and a blood-traitor, they had still been there for him through the years.

He laughed mirthlessly. It was far more than what Draco could say for himself. Sure he had his minions Crabbe and Goyle, and he had the respect of his housemates, but it was different. Slytherins didn't make friends, they made alliances; ones that could easily be broken if a better match came along. There was no sense of loyalty or compassion amongst the cold hearted creatures of Slytherin.

It seemed that nothing had been going his way with the task he had received. He had no idea where he should start when he first received it. He had been scared out of his mind, and it didn't help that it felt like his forearm was about to burst from the stinging of the newly imprinted dark-mark. He started planning on one big plan, which involved the usage of the vanishing cabinets.

But once he realised that it would be a lot harder than he had initially thought, he began thinking of other schemes as well. Although, the first one had failed miserably, leading him on a downward spiral of failure and anger. First his plan with the cabinets kept causing him a new problem with each attempt, and then the plans he had schemed concerning Bell girl had just crumbled in front of his eyes, as she had touched the cursed necklace before giving it to Dumbledore. It seemed that every time he found some sort of solution to one of the problems with it, a new one arose. And each new problem was even worse than the prior one.

On top of that, it didn't help that Potter was getting highly suspicious of Draco. The half-blood had his eye on him from the moment they had arrived at Hogwarts. Draco was sure that Potter knew something, but was determined to make sure that he did not spoil everything. Draco's mission was hard enough as it was, and the last thing he needed now was for Potter to screw it up.

Draco stood up hastily as he made his way away from the cabinet. There was no use spending any more time on it today. He was already tired and while it wasn't past curfew, he didn't want to be caught doing anything deemed suspicious. The last thing he wanted was to get a detention from that Squib Filch.

As he walked with rapid strides, he wiped the marks of anger from his face. While Crabbe and Goyle were stupid enough to stand guard for him and not ask questions, it didn't mean the rest of his house was. The ones closest to him knew he had some sort of task, but weren't allowed to be let in on the specifics. But they would be one of the first people to say anything if they found tears on his face. As together as Slytherins could be, they were also extremely quick to tear each other down. If they thought there was a chance they could get higher up on the Dark Lord's graces while continuing to bring down the somewhat soiled name of the Malfoys, then they would.

He closed the door carefully, and walked away from the room, as if he never was coming from the place. He raised his head to show his usual pride and contempt, and made his way down to the dungeons.

Harry stormed out of the classroom. He was absolutely livid with the way that Snape had just belittled him.

"How dare he just throw the idea away like its bloody rubbish? Maybe I didn't have any concrete evidence against Malfoy, but that's not to say that he isn't guilty," Harry seethed.

They made their way over to the changing staircases and climbed up them quickly. They had long since learned that it was better not to take too long on them, especially after the incident in their first year.

"Harry, will you just give it a rest already?" Ron said exasperatedly as he hurried up the stairs behind his mate.

Harry stopped in his tracks, causing both Ron and Hermione to bump into him. He turned around and faced his friend furiously. "I thought you supported me on this!" he said accusingly.

Ron looked taken aback, and raised his arms in defence. "Mate, I never said I didn't. But you keep repeating the same things to some of the only people who do know where you're coming from. There really is no use in telling us over and over again that the Ferret is a Death Eater," he said hurriedly.

Harry sighed, as he turned and resumed his path to the Gryffindor tower. "Sorry," he muttered to his friend. It had been a long day, and he was at his wits end. Not only had he had to endure watching Ginny snog his roommate Dean Thomas at the Three Broomsticks and listen to Ron rant the entire time about how she shouldn't be doing such things in public. It wasn't like he cared about what Ginny wanted to do, but Ron wouldn't give it a rest. And on top of that he had also nearly lost a friend and teammate over the cursed necklace incident. On top of that, Katie Bell was being sent off to St. Mungos, so Harry would have to quickly find a replacement for her for the team. As it was, Quidditch was getting to be quite stressful, but now this had happened as well.

Even though his back was still turned to his friends, he was much aware of the fact that they were currently exchanging looks. He knew they were both just as worried as he was, but neither one had said much about it. Both of them had just sat there when he told them of his suspicions at first.

He had been so convinced that Draco Malfoy was a Death Eater. After all, the Malfoys were as bad as a family as there could have been. They thrived off putting those they deemed beneath them down. Malfoy rarely missed a chance to snub Hermione about her blood, or mock Ron from being from a family that did not have as much money as he did. And he was no better to Harry either. Since the day when Harry had turned down the offer of friendship, Malfoy had often found reasons to discredit him by any means necessary. So it didn't surprise him in the slightest when he saw Draco head into Knockturn Alley back in August. He knew that there was something big that Draco was working on, but he wasn't sure what it was.

The only problem was that very few people believed Harry. While it was highly suspicious that Katie Bell was just cursed by a necklace, the behaviour was far from rare in a time of war and danger. She simply could have been at the wrong place at the wrong time.

As the trio entered the Gryffindor Common Room, they noticed that it was several notches quieter than the usual rowdiness that the room often held. Harry guessed that most of them had heard about the incident with Katie and as the gossip began to spread, many had their own theories about the incident.

"I hear it was because she was in a secret relationship with Harry and Hermione got jealous."

"Are you daft? Hermione and Ron are obviously together."

"Yeah right, that's why the pair of them are barely seen speaking on civil terms."

"It's obviously because they're keeping it a secret."

"I think she was cursed by a Slytherin, because they wanted her off the team."

"Like they have the brains to pull it off."

"Are you saying the Ravenclaws are behind it?"

"I think they teamed up together."

"Why wouldn't they just go for Harry then?"

"Have you considered the fact that the wrong person may have just picked up the necklace?

And so it continued, with each student having a different theory about who would try and do off Katie Bell. Harry closed his eyes, trying to block it all out. They had sat down on a couch in front of the fireplace. Hermione was leaning on one arm of the couch, while Ron slung himself over the other. Harry sat in between the two of them. There was a slight tension among his friends and one again, Harry had no idea why.

Sighing, Harry decided to let it go for now. He stared into the fire, wondering when it was that his life had changed so much. This year had been easier in a sense. No one thought he was some sort of attention hogging child, but at the same time it had gotten increasingly difficult. After third year, Harry felt like he finally had a connection to his parents. Sirius and Remus made it easy for him to imagine what their lives were like and they gave him a sense of family. But when Bellatrix ripped Sirius away from him, Harry once again felt alone. He knew he had the Weasleys and Hermione there for him but losing his Godfather left him feeling empty.

He watched the embers of the fire dance before his eyes as he listened to the slow brewing argument stirring between his two friends.

Harry was halfway through his breakfast when the owl post of that day came in. On the front page of the Daily Prophet was an article featuring an attack on another muggle city.

Death Eaters Strike Again

Janine Dwiggle

Since the recent exposure of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named at the Ministry last summer, the rising Death Eater activity has been at its all-time high. Just several days ago, the muggle town of Wiltshire was hit in a raid. Several muggles were left dead, while almost twenty were injured in some way or the other.

These questions leave us wondering for our safety. If we do not know who around us is guilty, then how can we expect any sort of justice? We do not know who around us is involved in these activities, nor do we know the potential targets. It seems that it is not only muggleborns who are being targeted by such attacks, but few of other blood statuses as well. This leaves us wondering: who will be next?

Several members of the Wizengamot have asked for permission to reconsider a law almost passed near the first wizarding war. This entitles the wizarding society to carry identification cards with blood status labeled on them. These cards may be seen by any ministry member upon request. The court is still deciding on necessary actions and whether the law should be passed.

"I feel that it is necessary!" an angry shop owner in Diagon Alley says. "I should have the right to know the status of who I chose to hire in my stores. It's not that I have any prejudices towards those of muggleborn status, but I do have the safety of my family to consider. (For more Death Eater activity, turn to page 13)

Harry looked over to where Hermione was sitting. While he himself was a half-blood, he still feared for his friend's safety. He knew she would not be happy with this new law and knew that it worried her. He could see it in her eyes whenever she received any sort of mail. She always looked frightful, as if she was afraid that one of them would deliver news about the death of her parents.

Harry knew she didn't blame him for the constant worry, but he could help but feel partially responsible for her fears. Not only was she a muggleborn, but she was his friend. And that certainly didn't do her any help in the eyes of those who tried so hard to crush her repeatedly.

Her eyebrows were furrowed together worriedly, as she read the article on the front page of the paper. He knew she was angry by it, and it was to no surprise to him when she stood up suddenly.

"Harry, can I speak to you in private for a moment?" she asked him quietly.

Harry nodded at her request and stood up. He followed her out of the Great Hall and the two of them headed to a secluded area of the school. Once they reached an area where no one was, Hermione cast a few silencing spells. She must not want to be overheard.

"Harry, I think you're right about Draco," Hermione told him after a few moments of silence.

Harry raised an eyebrow, "So you believe me?" he asked, feeling a bit surprised.

"I'm not completely sure if he is a Death Eater, but I do think he's up to something. He seems paler, and at meal times he hardly touches his food. In our lessons, he doesn't copy any notes down, but looks like he's in deep thought about something else. There's something different about him Harry. When I saw him in the hallway the other day, he didn't even make a comment to me. He didn't make a single nasty remark or send a single curse my way. It's like he's gone," she said, in a rushed voice.

Harry looked at her, in shock. "Why have you noticed all of this Hermione?" he demanded suddenly. It worried him that she was paying so much attention to the boy who often made their lives miserable.

Her face reddened. "It is nothing like that Harry! I was trying to see if you could be correct with what you thought. And that was what I observed."

He relaxed slightly. "So what do you think we should do?" he asked his friend.

She looked a little undecided about how they should proceed. "To be honest, I'm not really sure. I think we should make sure that something is going on before we act upon it first, but at the same time, we should also be aware that he potentially could be working on some sort of plan around the school."

Harry nodded in agreement. "Alright," he confirmed before adding, "And Hermione?" he asked.

"Yes?" she asked, as they started walking back to the common room before their first class.

"What's going on between you and Ron?" he prodded, curious to know why it was that they were fighting so much. Ron and Hermione often did fight, but something had changed this year. It was more forced; as if they were finding reasons to fight with one another.

"Nothing," she said, her cheeks reddening for the second time today.

Harry chose to let it go, knowing that the two of them would tell him if anything ever did happen.

A/N: Hello readers, I'm back! I know I said I needed a while to plan this story, and I'm still in the midst of figuring a few of the details in the middle the first eleven chapters have been completely planned out, so I saw no point in waiting to post this. But once again, if you have any pairings or small details of things you would like to see happen, please let me know. I will be trying to post every Sunday or so, seeing that school is quite busy this year. Let me know what you think :)