I Fall(out) to Pieces
"Not just no," Nymphadora Tonks said. "Hell no."
The point of contention was the issue of sleeping arrangements.
Andromeda sighed at her daughter's reluctance. "I know it is strange, but we simply don't have enough secure rooms to go around," the woman explained. "We're not in complete control, but we still have to sleep and keep an eye out. And with the added people, we're dealing with more chaos than expected."
"So we're going along with the stupid assigned bed system because we wanted to save a few lives?" her daughter asked. Truth be told, Tonks and Hermione were not the only smugglers of people. There were, in fact a lot more involved in hauling people in. Most of them were poorer purebloods who weren't sure what to believe, but knew of safety with friends, or families of ministry officials, as well as a few overseas people. The core of the vault dwellers were still those with ties to the muggle world who received vault tickets. "You do realize what I'm upset about, right?"
"Yes, the four adult women to every adult male," Andromeda said. "It's a crappy ratio. But we're rearranging it a bit to make things work. Most rooms will be single sex for the meantime until we can get something worked out. You just got assigned a mixed sex room, not that this is a punishment for what you did."
"The 'male' you assigned to my room is Professor Snape!" Tonks exclaimed, her hair turning red with anger. "How is that not a punishment?"
"I'd say it was," Dean Thomas argued, sticking his head in the room.
"Hush you," Andromeda said, shooing him from the room.
"Yes, Ma'am," he said as he left. Andromeda turned back to her daughter.
"What else do you suggest for him? He has to sleep somewhere tonight," Andromeda said. "I'm not telling you to undress in front of him, or heaven's forbid, have sex with him," both had a shudder at the very thought, "I'm just saying that as the only actually trained Auror, even if you are young, you should be the one to keep an eye on the Death Eater."
"Why can't we just turn his greasy hair into a portkey and send him out of here?" Nymphadora demanded.
"Because if the wards react to the portkey like they do apparation, he might just end up splashed against the walls in liquid form, as satisfying as that might be," Andromeda explained, getting a confused look from her daughter. She sighed as she realized Nymphadora hadn't been part of the mob. "Crabbe was here earlier and got to be the test subject. He's shuffled off the mortal coil on his own recognizance."
Nymphadora whistled. "Wow, Charlie's brother does good work." She shook her head. "But still not seeing the bad side of that."
"It's not like you're going to be stuck with him forever," Andromeda argued. "Just until we can set up some dark corner for him to lurk where we can place plenty of warning signs to keep people away."
"You really don't like him, do you?"
Andromeda snorted. "Darling daughter, what gave you that idea?"
"It's just I rarely see that kind of reaction from people who weren't his students," Nymphadora explained. "Marauders excluded, of course."
"I was a prefect for Slytherin when he was a first year and second year," Andromeda explained. "He was a toerag then, he's a toerag now."
"Dumbledore trusts him," Nymphadora said, even as she couldn't believe she had been manipulated into defending the potions master.
"Then Dumbledore's a fool," her mother argued, re-crossing her arms and giving her daughter a kind look. "I trust you to keep the rest of us safe. That's why I'm asking you to do this, not anyone else."
"I'd feel safer with a team behind me," she argued. "Watching a dark wizard alone is pretty much suicide."
"I seriously doubt he'd kill you," Andromeda said. "Not when he's trapped in here with the rest of us. He might be a Death Eater, but he's not one of the faceless minions. He wants to live."
"Okay, I'll do it, but I'll do it my way," she said.
"Fine, just make sure we've got eyes on him at all times," Andromeda told her daughter.
"So, sleeping arrangements," Hermione said, looking at the large room. The room had three beds, each big enough for three people. Shelves along the walls and a window of some tropical beach on one wall. There was no door, no cabinets or lockers and only one bureau per bed.
"It shouldn't be that difficult to decide," Susan Bones argued. "Five to a room. You, me, Davis and the Greengrass girls. Hanna is staying with a few of the younger girls who are getting homesick."
"Are you sure?" Hermione asked, glancing at Tracey Davis, who rolled her eyes as she combed out Astoria Greengrass's long hair. "I mean, sharing beds?"
"What? Do you think I'm going to sleep with a boy in the room?" Susan asked.
"I'd sleep with you, Susan," Dean Thomas said, sticking his head in.
"What was that? You want me to hit you with my best hex?" Susan asked the Gryffindor boy, cupping her hand to her ear.
"Wow, look at the time," Dean commented, glancing at his watchless wrist, and slipping down the hall. Hermione sighed and rolled her eyes.
"I'm really starting to hate the no-doors situation," Hermione argued.
"You know, we could just sleep in the rooms tonight, but then use the beds from the magical tents you smuggled in," Trace suggested from the other side of the room. "It's not like we're going to hex you during the night."
"I certainly hope not," Harry said from the doorway. "Hermione, your parents wanted to see you. They're in the caff."
"Thanks, Harry," Hermione said as she got up to leave. Harry flashed her a smile as she ran down the hall.
"So, Harry Potter comes down to speak us mere mortals," Tracey snarked.
"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked, thoroughly confused by the statement. "And here I was hoping I'd left Malfoy behind."
Tracey's face flashed red. Susan's eyes flicked between Harry and Tracey before stepping backwards to a bed. No one said anything for a moment.
"She's talking about your reputation," Daphne Greengrass explained finally.
Tracey rolled her eyes and Astoria snorted lightly, sounding like a young Andromeda Tonks. Daphne took a deep breath and tossed the book to the side.
"You don't talk with anyone but Weasley and Granger," Daphne told him.
"That's not true," Harry protested. "I talk with lots of people."
"Bullshite," Tracey muttered, eliciting a giggle from Astoria.
"Potter, everyone sees you with the two of them like a prince and his favorite retainers, prancing about the school," Daphne continued, shooting a glare at her housemate even as she straightened her glasses. The tall blonde Tracey just rolled her eyes.
"They're my best friends, why shouldn't I spend time with them? I talk with Dean and Neville about stuff," Harry protested.
"Well, no one outside Gryffindor sees that," the eldest Greengrass girl explained. "When someone does try to talk you get confrontational and angry."
"That's not really true, Daphne," Susan said. "He only does that when it's Malfoy and his goon squad."
"There's not really any reason for me to be nice to someone who'd be quite willing to hex me the moment my back was turned," Harry argued. "And I'm not a prince, and they're not retainers. They're my friends."
"Then why as soon as Weasley's out of the picture do you find a replacement?" Daphne asked with just a touch of a sneer.
"What are you talking about?" Harry asked, clearly confused.
"Clearwater," Tracey said.
"She's just a friend," Harry said. "We just got to know each other this summer."
"It's no secret you're the Headmaster's favorite," Astoria said, speaking for the first time since he entered the room. "You get more points for doing the same things that other people do."
"And Snape takes away points for 'breathing too loud' or 'being a know-it-all' so don't say it's a points thing, because that's all screwed up," Harry countered. "And he doesn't take points or give detentions when one of his favorites gets in trouble."
"He does, he dresses them down in the common room in front of the whole house," Astoria replied in a contrite tone.
"Which no one outside of Slytherin ever got to see or even know about," Harry pointed out, using their same argument. "And I note these don't seem to impact house points."
"I'm with Harry on this one," Susan said. "It's not really a punishment if it's not clear across the board. That lets your house have an unfair advantage to the House Cup."
"And tell me, did Draco Malfoy ever get a dressing down for calling Hermione a mudblood? Did he ever get punished in second year for telling people that they were going to get murdered by Slytherin's Heir?" Harry asked pointedly. "You talk about my reputation, but Malfoy's actions basically say that Snape will let him get away with anything. Well, I for one am glad he isn't here right now."
"Why? So you can-"
"Davis, I don't really care what you think I want to do," Harry said, cutting her off. "I really don't. But it's clear that you have almost no idea who I am outside of my name and some made up reputation. And besides, if past history is any example, everyone's opinions will change one way or another."
"What does that mean?"
"Remember when everyone decided I was the heir of Slytherin? Or when they thought I put my name in the Goblet of Fire?" Harry demanded. "Or how about when I told everyone that Voldemort had returned?" He pointedly ignored the four yelps at the name. "Or how about when I was the Boy-Who-Lived or any of the other times people seemed to hang on my every word or giggle if my shadow hit them when I was walking down the hall? My reputation seems to change with the wind, so why should I care what you think right now? It'll be different tomorrow."
He set his jaw, spun on his heels and stalked out the door with an even stride. The four girls gaped in surprise for a moment. After a bit of nervous silence, Astoria raised her hand.
"I never thought he was the Heir of Slytherin," she admitted. "But Tracey, did you really have to snap at him like that?"
"What?" the older girl protested. "All I did was call it like I saw it."
"Davis, if that's how you saw it, you need glasses," Susan commented. "Harry's not like that. Sure, I kind of jumped on the anti-Harry bandwagon last year, but after a while I knew it was a mistake. Cedric really took us to task for it and we realized it wasn't his fault." She paused, cracking her neck and rolling her shoulders. "And besides, he went out of his way to tell people they were in danger."
"We didn't get a letter from him," Astoria said haughtily.
"And I heard from Hermione that he didn't send any to people he knew had Death Eater ties," Susan argued. "Your family might not, but you can't deny that your family has a pretty dark reputation."
Both Greengrass girls had sour looks at that.
"I got one," Tracey admitted, suddenly feeling a tiny bit of shame. "Or rather, my brother did. Roger, in Ravenclaw three years ahead of us."
"Fleur's date?" Susan asked. "I thought he was Davies."
"Idiot healer wrote his name down wrong on the birth certificate," Tracey explained. "It would cost a fortune and a half to get the Ministry to fix it, so he was stuck."
"Why isn't he here, too?" Daphne asked.
"When Mum was told she needed to register us, Roger said he didn't want any part of the muggle world," Tracey explained. She sighed, pausing the comb mid-stroke. "Being Fleur's date humiliated him since he couldn't even resist her allure even when suppressed. He's been angry for a while now, since people kept ribbing him about it. He's determined to be the next Percy Weasley, since he managed to fly so high so quickly. 'Can't do that in a hole in the ground,' he said."
"And your folks let him get away with that?" Susan asked in confusion.
"Mum and Dad were not happy with his decision, but he's an adult," said Tracey with a shrug. "It was his decision."
"Sad," Susan said. "My aunt stayed behind too. Most of the others Auror Tonks smuggled in were in similar situations. Families stayed home, but sent us here to be safe."
"I'm just glad we're here and not going to Hogwarts," Daphne said. She smiled at Tracey. "I'm ever so grateful you smuggled us in."
"Oh, I'm even more grateful than her, Tracey," Astoria said with a bit of a smirk. Tracey matched her smirk and raised her a little tickle. Daphne rolled her eyes.
"What's mum doing?" Daphne asked.
"I think she was meeting with Mrs. Tonks, Mum, Dad and some of the other adults," Tracey said as she resumed combing Astoria's hair.
"What do you think is going to happen?" Susan asked. "I know a few other people here, but most seem to be strangers. I think I spotted two I recognize from Beauxbatons last year."
"We'll see," Daphne said. "We've only been here for a few hours, after all."
They looked up to see a familiar face leaning on the door frame.
"Zabini? What are you doing here?" Daphne asked in shock. He smirked and glanced about.
"Huh, badger in the snake pit," he said as his eyes landed on Susan.
"What of it?" Susan demanded, her hand slipping to her wand.
"Whoa, easy there," he said, holding up his empty hands. "See, no wand. I come in peace."
"I've got to admit, I'm surprised to see you," Tracey said. "Your mother mess up after your last step-father?"
"Ha. And Ha again. You should go into comedy, you've got a talent there," the dark skinned boy replied dryly.
"No, Mum keeps a close eye on both sides of the street. Her second husband was a muggleborn, so we were registered with the government, got the tickets and here we are," He said, motioning to the vault around them. "No trickery or anything. I'm staying next door with Longbottom, some Norwegian named Bear Valley, or something, Dean Thomas, and some blond French kid about nine years old who doesn't speak a lick of English or Italian."
"Ah, so you get to inflict your presence on us on a daily basis, I take it?" Daphne inquired.
"Awe, don't say it like that," he pleaded. "But yeah, looks like we're neighbors again. I'm actually surprised Potter isn't staying with us since he knows Longbottom and Thomas."
"Tracey here probably chased him off before he could find a bed," Daphne noted with a nod to her outraged friend. "She decided she needed to tell him how much she disliked him."
"I did not!"
"What else did you think that conversation would convey?" Susan asked.
"Oh," Blaise said with a dark chuckle. "You asked him about his 'reputation' I take it?"
"Yeah, why?" Tracey asked.
"Because it's a load of bull," Zabini explained. "You both forgot Snape's a Slytherin too. He's been at this game of cunning and manipulation longer than us. He kept telling us Potter was a spoiled little prince and most of Slytherin started to see him in that light. The facts on one side make Potter look like he thinks he's above everyone else, but then think about how everyone treated him? Of course he's not going to make friends with people who treat him like shite. With how Malfoy treats him, I'm surprised he was even civil enough to give us the time of day."
"How'd you see all this?" Astoria challenged.
"Please," Zabini said with a roll of his eyes. "With my mother? And much more importantly, my ambitious little sister? I'm the eldest, so I really needed to pay attention or else I'd be the former eldest, considering how much my sister takes after my mother. I keep my eyes open. Potter lives with muggles. Haven't you ever seen him when he gets on or off the train? Those clothes he wears? I seriously doubt those are his choice."
"Aren't baggy clothes in fashion?" Susan asked. "In the muggle world, I mean."
"Not that I know of," he said. He looked at Tracey and shook his head. "Merlin, Davis. You might have really screwed the pooch on this one. That's worse than the time you-"
"Thank you for your opinion, Zabini," Tracey snapped, cutting him off.
"I suppose your troubles in Slytherin were because of ancestry," Zabini mused. "Not that I follow Malfoy's way of thinking, but enough in our house do, so it tainted your reputation."
"Oh, bugger off," Tracey growled with a flat look. "Why didn't you treat Potter differently?"
"And stand out as a blood traitor? In Slytherin?" Zabini asked holding his hand to his chest as he gasped in faux shock. "Hell no. I'm a Zabini, we're born and bred as hypocrites of the highest class. I've got to do my part to live up to expectations."
"Of course, none of these school divisions matter anymore," Susan put in as she pulled out a ball of yarn and some knitting needles. "We don't have houses, and I don't think we should. If anything this conversation and the one we had with Harry should tell us that."
"You might be onto something there, Bones," he agreed. "So who's your fifth?"
"Granger," Daphne replied. "She's a little scared of the big bad snakes."
"No, she isn't," Hermione said from behind Blaise. "She is, however, incredibly annoyed with the three who live in this room. And, quite frankly, you can't blame me, miss I-will-follow-Parkinson's-lead." She pushed her hair over one shoulder. "Forgive this mudblood for not wanting to spend time with people who expressed interest in my death."
"I never said that!" Daphne protested in shock.
"Actions speak louder than words, Greengrass," Hermione growled. "Every time you stood behind Pansy Parkinson, you were telling everyone you agreed with what she was saying. Merlin, if that's the way you Slytherins act, it's no wonder the whole wizarding world thinks you're all a bunch of dark wizards and witches just waiting to kiss Voldemort's robes."
Zabini smirked. "Lady's got a point."
"Did I really do that?" Daphne asked, looking to her sister and Tracey for confirmation.
"Yes, you did," Zabini said.
"I didn't ask you," Daphne hissed as she squinted at him with displeasure. She straightened her glasses and rolled her shoulders back.
"I don't know, I wasn't really part of it," Astoria admitted. Tracey shrugged. "Susan?"
"You did come off as a bit of a Parkinson groupie," Susan admitted as she knitted. "When your leader calls someone a mudblood, and you don't argue, it's like you're saying it too."
"You don't know what it's like in there!" Daphne protested, thinking back to all the times she had disagreed with something Parkinson or Malfoy had said, but never spoke up.
"And yet another reason why the house system was a bad idea," Zabini commented. "Splitting people up by personality types at eleven is as stupid as any other kind of group segregation. No other magical country does it. It's a wonder Britain has stood as long as it has."
"As much as a political discussion might be interesting, I'm a bit knackered," Hermione said. "So go fly back to your own little perch."
"It is a bit late, isn't it?" Zabini commented. "Night, ladies."
The moment he left, Hermione put up a privacy spell that filtered sound and turned the doorway opaque. She spun around and glare at Tracey.
"Let me make one thing clear," Hermione growled like a displeased lioness. Her hair seemed to almost frizzle about her in anger. "You talk like that to Harry again and I'll make you wish you were dancing in the radioactive rain."
"What?" Tracey asked, shocked by the sudden change in personality. "Granger!"
"Do you have any idea what it's like to be Harry Potter? Any damn clue?" she demanded. "No, you don't. So don't go spouting off about something you know nothing about. Harry kept me and Ron close because we were the only damn people to befriend him! Even Ron was a prat half the time! So if you think you're going to treat my friend like a sack of shite, you can go to hell."
She spun to the only non-Slytherin present aside from herself.
"Sorry, Susan, but I'm going to sleep in one of the magical tents I brought," Hermione said before marching out of the room, leaving the three Slytherins gaping after her.
"Ah, so Potter-"
"Davis, don't dig your hole any deeper," Susan chided. "Of course he told Hermione. She's his best friend. And you did treat him like shite. We're not at Hogwarts anymore. The old rules don't apply."
"I'm starting to think you're right," Astoria agreed.