LL: Hey Guys! Can't believe its December already! Here is the next chapter - please enjoy!

Pure-bloods & Mudbloods

Astrid Graves

Astrid, Neville and Hermione were on their way to the dungeons for Potions with Professor Snape, one of the classes they also shared with the Slytherins. In her short time at Hogwarts Astrid had found that she didn't much like them. As they made their way along the corridor, the path was suddenly blocked by Draco Malfoy and his two sidekicks Crabbe and Goyle, Slytherins that were making a name for themselves as Hogwarts' bullies.

"Mudbloods shouldn't be allowed at Hogwarts," sneered Draco. "Pure-bloods are the superior wizards; the teachers shouldn't waste their time teaching you."

Neville was quiet, being too shy to say anything and Hermione didn't get a chance as Astrid started to defend them, she noticed a group of rats had come to see what the commotion was and before Astrid knew what she was doing, she order the rats to "get him". At once the rats started to run towards Draco and climbed up over his feet, he gave a shriek and turned to run away with Crabbe and Goyle hot on his heels. Neville and Hermione looked on in amazement at what Astrid had done.

"I can't believe you just set a pack of rats on Draco Malfoy!" said Neville. "His father is a really important member of the wizarding community; you don't want to cross him."

"I'm not going to let him get away with bullying other kids, just cause he thinks he's a so called Pure-blood he thinks he has the right!" calming down she started to make her way up the corridor towards the class with Neville and Hermione following behind.

It seemed that in her first few weeks at Hogwarts Astrid had made friends but also enemies. Her days had been filled with classes and her evenings with studying in the common room with Neville and occasionally Hermione. Since the Draco incident she had noticed him looking in her direction a lot more and whispering with his two goons, it had started to leave her feeling a little on edge.

On Friday afternoon Astrid, Neville and Hermione were making their way across the courtyard from the last class of the day, Care of Magical Creatures. Astrid had stayed behind to speak with Professor Grubbly Plank as this was fast becoming one of her favourite classes. The courtyard was empty as they crossed, and just before they reached the door, Draco, Crabbe and Goyle appeared to block their entry.

"Let us pass," said Astrid.

"I don't have to listen to a Mudblood like you!"

"How do you know I'm a Mudblood? I could be every bit a Pure-blood as you!" Draco laughed. "You? A Pure-blood? Don't make me laugh," he sneered. "Only Pure-bloods should be allowed into Hogwarts!" he took a step towards the three of them with Crabbe and Goyle backing him up, from behind them a voice shouted.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you!" Astrid turned in the direction of the voice to see Harry Potter coming towards them with Ron at his back; he took a step towards them.

"Well, well its Harry Potter, come to be the hero have we?"

"Why don't you just shut up and leave them alone!" Draco took a step towards him. "Listen here Potter, this is no concern of yours."

"These are my friends, and that means it definitely concerns me," replied Harry.

Draco started to move in on Harrys flank.

"You're every bit a Mudblood as those two!" he pointed over to Astrid and Hermione; Harry moved closer clutching his wand tightly in his hand.

"Come on Potter, let's see what you're made of."

Temperance Starfall

It had rained continuously over the next week, the sky rarely breaking for sunlight. Temperance stopped in the upper hallway looking out and smiled, closing her eyes. The soft sound of the water splashing against the building was almost comforting. She stood, enjoying the silence of the moment. All too soon the quiet was broken by voices in the courtyard below. She opened her eyes and looked down to see the group of first years hostilely walking towards each other. In one quick move she dropped down from the window and started walking towards them. As the group saw her approach they grew quiet – some avoided her gaze, simply looking at their feet while the others stood straight making direct eye contact.

"Mr Malfoy, Mr Potter," she said folding her arms. "Is there something you would like to discuss?" Harry shook his head 'no' while Draco continued to glare at her. Temperance ignored him and continued. "Well if there is nothing important you would like to discuss I suggest you head to your respective common rooms until dinner," her tone was light but with a severe edge.

"My father says mudbloods have no place teaching here!" Draco spat. Temperance looked down, clenching her jaw as she tried to mask the anger she felt at his words. "He says that Pure-blood wizards do not have to listen to…"

"Your father has no power here Mr Malfoy. Now I suggest you and your friends leave before you find yourselves in more trouble," her tone remained calm as Draco continued to stare. Crabbe and Goyle slowly started backing away, Draco glanced at them from behind before turning. "Oh and Mr Malfoy?" she called after him. Draco turned to look at her once more. "Report to Professor McGonagall for detention at seven tonight," she smiled inwardly to herself; Minerva had no love for Slytherins. She turned her attention back to Harry as Ron, Hermione, Neville and Astrid stepped closer. "Now Harry, do you want to tell me what that was about?"

"It was nothing, he was just…"

"Draco Malfoy was trying to lure Harry into a fight!" Hermione jumped in. Ron and Harry both glared at her. Temperance watched them swap looks with one another for a moment.

"You are all bright students and I would hope that you know better than to go around fighting with other students." They nodded along. "I suggest you also return to your common room and think what the outcome will be if I hear anymore on this subject," she tried her most stern tone. "Are we clear?"

"Yes, Professor," they said in unison.

"Good. Now off you go," she watched them leave with a sigh; she was no good at discipline. She looked out over the courtyard, pulling her hood up and almost without realising she had begun walking. It took a few moments until she found the path at the bottom of the hill. Temperance followed it until she found a clearing near the lake where an old willow tree stood. The rain was still falling though not as hard as before. She pulled the hood down on her grey cloak, closing her eyes and facing up at the sky, letting the cool drops hit her face softly.

"You used to hate the rain. Doesn't it make your hair curly?" Temperance opened her eyes to see Albus smiling. She gave a small smile in return, with a hint of sadness.

"I don't know why but the rain…" she trailed off, looking down. Albus reached out and placed a warm hand, gently on her shoulder. She looked up, meeting his eyes.

"It reminds you of your mother," his smile was warm. Temperance could feel the tears collecting in her eyes, threatening to fall. She closed them tightly for a moment trying to drive them back. After a few minutes Temperance opened her eyes again and tried to give a convincing smile. Albus patted her on the shoulder and they started to walk along the water's edge. "How are you settling in?" he asked, breaking their silence.

"Okay, I guess. I forgot how hard it is for muggles in this world."

"This is your world, you are only…"

"Playing a part, I know," she suddenly felt exhausted. "I just feel like there's never going to be a time when I can just be me, instead that's the part I have to hide from everyone. Do you know how hard it is to maintain this façade all the time? Worrying that I might say or do something wrong!" she exclaimed.

"No," his voice was low. "I cannot imagine how hard it has been, my dear," he stopped, looking down at her before taking her hand in both of his. "I won't lie and tell you it gets easier, you know that to be false," she met his eyes. "But someday this will all be over and we can all live our lives free from fear. In the meantime," his smile returned as he gave a fleeting look behind her. "I hope that you will find someone you do not have to hide yourself from." She glanced up at his bright eyes as he turned her around to face the approaching colleague.

"Professor Snape!" Albus called, his voice had taken on a jovial tone. "What brings you to our little seclusion?"

"I was looking for Professor Starfall," he replied gazing down at Temperance as he neared.

"Well, I believe you have found her," Albus nudged her a little. "The rain stopped," he continued seemingly to himself. "It's almost dinner, watch your time," Albus finished walking off towards the castle. Temperance felt the ringlets begin to form in her hair now as she also turned to head up the path.

"Is there something I can help you with, Professor Snape?" she called back.

"You gave one of my students detention," he replied in his usual manner as he caught up to her. "But nothing to the Gryffindors that were with him. I must say I thought you would be above the favouritism that runs rampant in this school!" Temperance once again felt a small anger burning but did her best to remain calm.

"Why does he make me so mad!" she thought to herself before replying. "I did not give Mr Malfoy detention for his antics with the Gryffindors. I gave him detention for his conduct towards a member of staff," she continued averting his gaze.

"He was rude to you?" Severus' voice was almost incredulous.

"I believe the term Mudblood was used," she smirked feeling like she had one over on him.

"I'm afraid, Mr Malfoy left that part out," his voice was low, Temperance could tell he was angry, whether it was because of Draco's behaviour or because he felt like she had made a fool of him, she didn't know.

"I am not singling the boy out Severus, he is an impressionable child voicing only the opinions of those around him," she turned to look at him then. "After all, aren't we all a product of our environment?" she quipped. He gave her his usual look of derision, complete with raised eyebrow.

"Your ankle seems better," he swiftly changed the subject.

"Yes, you were right I only needed to rest it for a while," she kicked her foot out and moved it as though cementing her point.

"Except you practically ran back to your room, tell me how is that possible on a badly sprained ankle?" he had started his interrogation. Temperance felt herself sigh, wondering why every conversation felt like he was testing her.

"Okay, I lied," she said quickly. "I healed it myself before leaving your office."

"Without the use of your wand or potion?"

"I… used my wand," she felt slightly panicked.

"Interesting," he replied opening his cloak. "Which reminds me, you left this in my study." Temperance looked over and saw her wand in his hand.

"I wondered where that had got to!" she chuckled, reaching out to take it. Severus held it up, away from her grasp.

"Not so fast," he punctuated each word. "I was fascinated when I tried to examine it and found there to be nothing magical about it,"

"You're so weird Severus! Why would you examine someone else's wand? Don't you have your own?" Severus noted that her tone was slightly anxious.

"You know, I never saw you use it the other night."

"That's because I did it subtly, you know, without you knowing," she said sarcastically.

"I am aware of the definition of subtly, Professor," she heard an anger return to his voice.

"I'm glad. Maybe you could use that knowledge when you teach and I wouldn't have an abundance of upset students knocking on my door complaining of feeling humiliated," she said with an edge to her words.

"Do not begin to tell me how I should teach or punish students in my own classes," he stopped in front of her. She looked up into his dark, seething eyes. She closed the distance between them.

"Do not tell me how I should punish students, Professor Snape," she echoed his words as her sapphire eyes shone with her own anger. They stood motionless for a moment, looking at one another. A noise erupted from the castle as the students were making their way to dinner, they both looked towards it. Temperance took that opportunity to grab her wand and quicken her pace towards the castle. She turned back to Severus who was looking at her again and she noticed there was no anger in his eyes anymore. She felt herself soften in response before nodding towards the noise. "Come on, we better not be last in for dinner, don't want to start any rumours. That would make the students far too happy," she beamed, skipping ahead. Severus stood, feeling confused at the change in her countenance towards him. Temperance stopped and turned back to him. "Come on," she waved smiling warmly at him. He didn't know why but for some reason that smile bewitched him more than he cared to admit. Suddenly he was quickly catching up to her as they made their way to the Great Hall.

They arrived just in time as the last group of students took their seats. Dumbledore said a few words before the mountains of food appeared on the tables.

"I was beginning to think you and Temperance would never make it back," he chuckled playfully taking his seat beside Severus.

"Yes, well Professor Starfall takes great interest in her surroundings and stops unnecessarily," Severus replied in an unamused tone without looking at him.

"Yes, she's an interesting one," Dumbledore continued. "I've never met anyone like her. She tries desperately to find happiness in everything and goodness in everyone."

"Hmph," Severus replied. He glanced along the table to where Temperance sat with Minerva; she was smiling while telling a very animated story to her. "It is an annoying trait," he said ending their conversation.

Astrid Graves

That night Astrid lay in bed thinking of the earlier confrontation with Draco. It had been needless to say the least and had almost gotten them all in trouble. Harry had been so selfless, stepping in to defend them. She had thanked Harry after they had returned to Gryffindor Tower:

"Thank you for standing up for us today, Harry," Astrid offered.

"That's okay, someone needs to show Draco, that he's got no right to treat people the way he does," he replied.

"Yeah Malfoy's a total prat, someone needs to put him in his place," Ron agreed.

Before she fell asleep, Astrid vowed to stay out of Draco's way, she was determined that she was going to keep her head down and focus on doing good in her classes.

In the morning Astrid met Neville down in the common room.

"Morning Neville," she greeted him brightly.

"Morning Astrid, did you sleep well?"

"I didn't have a great sleep, was thinking about what happened yesterday."

"It was a little scary," agreed Neville.

"I've decided to try and keep out of anymore trouble, I want to work hard and learn as much as possible," Astrid told him.

"I didn't think I would get into any trouble at Hogwarts except for maybe not doing so well in class," stated Neville.

"That's my fault sorry, I bet you wish I had never shared a compartment with you," her voice was sad.

"Don't be silly" Neville reassured her. "I've never really had a friend before; it's nice to feel part of something." Astrid was very touched, "I've never had a friend before either, I'm really glad I've got you to help me through our time here."

The moment was broken by a stream of first years coming down from the dorms to make their way to breakfast.

"Let's go," said Neville. "I'm getting really hungry." Astrid smiled.

"Yeah, I'm starved too."

SS: Same time next week readers! Off to see Gambit now - Mr Darcy and Colonel Brandon in the same movie = awesome!