I don't really know how I feel about this chapter. For the most part, I hate the idea of including certain canonical aspects of it, because everyone's already read those parts in the actual book. However, realistically, the fact that Daphne and Harry have now met wouldn't actually drastically alter the timeline this early on, so it makes sense that some things are going to be similar. At least I didn't go the cheap route by rewriting passages from the book word for word. I even read through that particular chapter of the book to make sure I wouldn't be copying any dialogue.

Just as a reminder; the poll on Sirius' fate in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries is still up. Once it is closed, however, its results won't be known until that part of the story actually arrives.

I had originally planned on writing out the rest of the trip to Diagon Alley, but you guys probably want to get to Hogwarts as quick as possible, right? It's not like their shopping trip is actually important to the story, anyways. So, behold; the next chapter, without its extraneous shopping adventures.

(If you have strong feelings on this chapter and/or story, please leave a review, even if those feelings are negative. Though, if you don't like the story, please tell me why, so I can make it better, rather than just saying it sucks.)

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Chapter 9: Starting the School Year

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January 28th, 2010

Neville Longbottom was at war with himself. Anger, sadness, and relief battled fiercely in a three-way struggle in his mind as he made eye contact with the green-eyed wizard at the center of the room before him.

That man had been the cause of so much pain and suffering; he was getting what he deserved, Neville tried to reason with himself.

But was he really the cause of it? Was he truly the cause of it all? Wouldn't he, Neville, have done the same things in Harry's shoes? A voice in the back of his mind whispered in response.

Not for the first time that day, Neville felt nearly fifty years older than he truly was. He had made an agreement; with Harry, with Daphne, and with his wife, that he would uphold the values that their original crusade had been built on. This had to be done.

While he was wrapped up in his internal skirmish, the dark-haired subject of his thoughts stood below, recalling the day that Daphne and Neville had finally met.

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September 1st, 1995

The first of September seemed to have swooped in quicker than expected, and before he knew it, Harry found himself boarding the Hogwarts Express alongside the Weasley children, Hermione, Astoria, and Daphne.

Platform 9 ¾ was its usual hubbub of activity; the din of excited shouts and tearful goodbyes, interspersed with the occasional squawk of indignant owls filled the air. Harry barely had time to wave goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Tonks, Moody, and Sirius (bounding happily in his animagus form), who had escorted them to the station before he was shoved forwards by excited students rushing to grab a free compartment.

Hermione and Ron, who had both received prefect badges the day prior, begged off in order to attend the prefect meeting which would be held at the front of the train. Daphne, who still had yet to make peace with the muggleborn witch, looked rather relieved at Hermione's departure. Fred and George also detached themselves from the group in favour of looking for their friend Lee Jordan.

With Ginny leading the way, the now four person party wove their way through the crowded train in search of a free compartment. As they picked their way through the train, coming across compartment after compartment that was already full, it seemed like their search would bear no fruit. It wasn't until they had nearly reached the end of the train that they finally found somewhere suitable.

"In here!" Ginny called, gesturing to a compartment that was vacant, aside from a lone occupant. Taking a seat across from the unknown individual, Harry took a moment to examine their appearance. The girl, who gave no sign that she noticed the arrival of the four newcomers, stared unblinkingly at a magazine the she held upside-down with pale blue eyes that by all appearances seemed to be held wide in a perpetual state of surprise.

It wasn't until Daphne took a seat beside Harry, with Astoria on her other side, that the strange girl acknowledged their presence.

"Hello, Astoria," she said, slowly looking away from her magazine in favour of casting her gaze on the younger Greengrass.

"Hi," Astoria replied meekly, as she moved in closer to her sister.

There was a pregnant silence before the bizarre girl turned to look at the people she now shared a compartment with, pausing briefly when her eyes met Harry's, before finally turning to look at Ginny, who had elected to seat on the same bench as her.

"Hello, Luna," Ginny said with a bright smile. "How was your summer?"

"It was very pleasant," she replied, "Daddy and I took a camping trip to Croatia to see if we could find any tiny-tongued toe-tappers."

Turning to Daphne, Harry mouthed, 'what are tiny-tongued toe-tappers?'

'No idea,' was her silent reply.

"Did you find any?" Ginny inquired.

"No, but Daddy supposes they were all hiding from us. They must not care for camping," the odd girl replied, seeming rather excited at the notion. Ginny offered a shrug and a smile in response.

She turned away from Ginny, and once again, Harry found the girl's eyes peering at his own. "You know; you're Harry Potter," she stated.

"Er, yeah," Harry answered, unsure of how to respond.

"Wow; her skills of observation are almost as good as yours," Daphne guffawed, earning glare from Harry.

Sensing another impending awkward silence, Ginny butted in. "Everyone, this is Luna Lovegood; she's a Ravenclaw in my year. Luna, this is Harry Potter, and Daphne Greengrass. I'm guessing you know Daphne's younger sister, Astoria?"

Harry offered a polite "hello" in greeting, while Daphne gave a rather reserved nod of acknowledgement. Before anyone could say or do anything further, the door to the compartment slid open, revealing a rather pink-faced Neville Longbottom, pulling his luggage with one hand, while struggling to hold on to a wildly flailing Trevor in the other.

"Er, Hi Harry, Ginny," he said hesitantly, glancing between Daphne, Astoria, and Luna. "Mind if I join you? Everywhere else with someone I know is full."

To answer him, Ginny moved over, closer to Luna, and gestured to the empty space on the seat to her right. Murmuring his thanks, he allowed Harry to help him heft his trunk onto the overhead rack, before plopping down on his offered spot on the bench.

Upon taking his seat, Neville's eyes began to flicker between Luna, Daphne and Astoria. "I... uh..." he mumbled, as if struggling to find the right words to speak. "I don't think I've seen... well, I don't really know..." he continued rambling, "Well, what I'm trying to say is; who are you?"

At his rather straight-forward question, Daphne quirked an eyebrow at the nervous Gryffindor. "Daphne Greengrass. Pleasure," she replied in a mildly supercilious manner.

"Right," Neville said. "I've seen you in potions. You're a..."

"Slytherin?" she offered.

Looking slightly uncomfortable, Neville attempted to avoid eye contact with the blonde witch. "Well yeah. Er... Harry?" he questioned, looking for an explanation as to why she was sharing a compartment with him.

"She's... well, she's my girlfriend, Neville," He replied.

Seeing Neville's shocked reaction, Daphne quipped, "I used love potion. Concupiscentiam, to be exact. You see; it's much more effective than your average store-bought variety, but it leaves the drinker in far more control of their mental faculties than Amortentia."

Casting Daphne a warning glare, Harry turned to a now horrified Neville in an attempt to placate him. "She's kidding; I'm not on love potions," he said. At his assurance, Neville visibly relaxed, though he still cast the occasional suspicious glance at Daphne.

A silence developed in the compartment, during which, Daphne seemingly grew tired and dozed off, resting her head on Harry's shoulder. Harry very much suspected that it was an act to embarrass and/or annoy him, so he decided to not react to it. He knew Daphne would enjoy it very much if he did.

Soon after she seemingly dozed off, the door opened up.

"Oh," said a voice, sounding one part nervous, two parts surprised.

Harry swung his head to the doorway to see, framed by raven-black hair, a face that had featured in his nightmares for the past two months, standing there; her mouth hanging slightly open in shock.

"Cho!" harry choked out. His blood ran cold when he realized that Daphne was still asleep on his shoulder. "Er... hi..." he said weakly; his mind rushing to come up with an explanation as to why another could plausibly be using his shoulder as a pillow.

"Hi," She responded blankly. "I was just uh... I'll just go..."

Before he could call out to stop her, the Ravenclaw seeker ran away, closing the door behind her.

"Careful," Daphne whispered in a tone low enough that only Harry could hear, "As far as anyone's concerned, we're together. You wouldn't want anyone to think you're chasing after other girls, now would you?"

Harry gritted his teeth, craning his head to see that Daphne still held the outwards appearance of someone who was fast asleep. Beside her, Astoria had also drifted off, resting her head in her elder sister's lap.

Nearly an hour passed in relative silence, during which the snack trolley came and went. Luna continued reading, while Neville and Ginny continuously sent suspicious glances at the supposedly sleeping form of Daphne

"How was your summer, Neville?" Harry eventually asked, in an attempt to divert the other Gryffindor boy's attention away from the Slytherin.

"Great!" he answered cheerfully. "My Great Uncle Algie went to Iraq to see the ruins of Nineveh. He brought me back this for my birthday!" He exclaimed, producing a rather unappealing bulbous, quivering plant of mottled grey.

"What... er... what is that?" Harry asked, trying to keep his disgust from showing through his voice.

"Mimulus Mimbletonia," Neville answered, sounding quite proud. "They're rare; especially in temperate climates, like the UK," he explained, "here, watch this!"

Placing a squirming Trevor in Harry's lap, Neville pulled a quill from his school bag, and proceeded to jab the plant with the tip of his quill. The plant rewarded him by spewing a thick, dark green ooze from every one of the many pustules that covered its surface, coating the interior of the compartment, and its occupants.

"Well; that was unpleasant," a now apparently awake Daphne stated, after spitting out a mouthful of the foul substance.

Before anyone could agree, the compartment door slid open. There was a moment's pause before laughter filled the air.

"This is brilliant!" a decidedly feminine voice trilled. As his glasses were still coated with the thick substance, Harry was unable to see the speaker.

"Well, if you're done having your laugh," Daphne said, casting a glare at the newcomers, "I think I'll get rid of all this." With that, she waved her wand, vanishing the goo.

His sight returned, Harry turned to get a look at the two individuals at the doorway. Both were female, as he could now tell, and were wearing matching Hogwarts uniforms, complete with silver and green ties. The one on the left, who was struggling to contain their laughter, had shoulder length brown, wavy hair, held back by a dark green hair band. He knew from the classes he had shared with Slytherins over his past four years at Hogwarts, that this girl was Tracey Davis.

The figure on the right seemed to adhere to much more proper decorum than Tracey, and held her posture much straighter. On the front of her robes was pinned a familiar silver badge, emblazoned with a bold 'P'. Harry stared in shock when he realized that he was looking at Pansy Parkinson.

"Tracey, Pansy," Daphne's voice called out, addressing her fellow Slytherins, "I'd like you to officially meet my boyfriend; Harry."

Tracey's face immediately split into a Cheshire cat grin at the announcement, directing her attention to the raven haired boy. Pansy however, looked as if she had been struck across the face. With as much dignity as she could muster, she swiftly turned and walked away from the compartment.

Letting out a sigh, Daphne stood up and made to follow Pansy. "I'd best go talk to her," she explained. As she was halfway through the doorway, she paused and turned to Tracey. "Behave," She said simply, before exiting.

Silence descended on the compartment at Daphne's departure. The silence didn't last long, as it was quickly broken by Tracey.

"So," she said, plopping herself down in the recently vacated spot beside Harry. "Have you and Daphne... you know...?" She asked, while forming a circle with her thumb and index finger on one hand, and repeatedly thrusting the index finger of the other hand through it. Harry groaned, earning a chuckle from Neville.

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"Pansy!" Daphne called, jogging to catch up with the other girl. "Pansy, wait."

The dark haired girl before her halted her hurried stride, before slowly turning to face Daphne. She made a gesture that clearly said, "go on," before crossing her arms over her chest.

"Not here," Daphne said, turning to look over her shoulder at a compartment door that had opened up. The faces of a few second years poked out around the corner, ascertaining the source of the yelling.

Grabbing Pansy by the elbow, Daphne led her into the now open compartment. "We need to borrow this compartment for a bit; prefect business. Clear out!" She commanded. The second year students within, looking rather nervously at Daphne, did so rather quickly.

Sliding the door shut, and erecting a privacy charm, Daphne turned to her companion.

"When you said in your letters over the summer that you were going to be announcing something big this year, I didn't realize it would be stupid as well," Pansy almost snarled. "Seriously? Potter? Are you daft? How are you... how am I going to explain this to Draco?"

Daphne shrugged. "By saying that I'm dating Harry. Simple, really. I don't rightly care what Draco or anyone else thinks of it," she replied

Pansy reached her hands up to rub her temples. "Merlin, this is a nightmare. You know the Dark Lord is on the hunt for Potter. Once this gets out, he'll be after you too. And Astoria. Did you think about her at all when you did this?"

"Of course I bloody well did!" Daphne snapped, "This is all for her. She's a half-blood, Pansy. In the world the Dark Lord wants to create, she'll never be free. Harry wants to oppose the Dark Lord, and I plan on helping in any way I can. Some of us aren't' cowards; some of us would rather fight for what we believe, rather than roll over and hope the Dark Lord doesn't attack us!"

"That's not fair!" Pansy growled.

"Isn't it though?" Daphne asked. "You've been throwing yourself all over Draco since the start of last year! 'oh, Draco' this, and 'oh, Draco' that! What's gotten into you? You've never liked him, and you certainly are no Death Eater!"

Pansy's limbs trembled, and she struggled to choke back tears as she slowly replied, "You're not the only one doing things for your loved ones. I'm doing it for my family. We're poor, Daphne; we're as poor as the Weasleys! My father's crippled; he can't fight, and he can't work! The Dark Lord doesn't have any use for nobodies like us."

Pausing to catch her breath, Pansy threw herself onto one of the benches that lined the walls. "If I can attract the attention of someone loyal to the Dark Lord; my family will have protection. Who else but Draco?" she explained. "Nott's a sadistic bastard, Zabini's not the kind to settle down, and Crabbe and Goyle are... well... Crabbe and Goyle," she laughed mirthlessly.

Daphne slowly lowered herself into the bench across from Pansy, using a finger to lift her chin up so they could look one another in the eye. "So that's why?" she asked. "You think your family will be safe if you can get a Death Eater to date you?" At pansy's sad nod, Daphne let out an exasperated sigh. "Let's say you do start dating Draco; what happens if Draco makes a mistake? What if he fails to complete a mission for the Dark Lord? The Dark Lord will punish Draco through you; that's how he operates. You're no safer from the Dark Lord at his side, than you are opposing him in battle."

"It's not that simple," Pansy whispered, whipping a tear that had managed to make its way out of the corner of one of her eyes.

"But it is; it really is," Daphne said. "What would you do if the Dark Lord ordered Draco to kill Tracey, or Astoria, or me?"

"I..." Pansy hesitated. Then, as if a damn broke, tears flowed freely from Pansy's eyes and she flung herself at Daphne, pulling the girl into an embrace. "M-m-merlin, Daphne; I-I," She stuttered between sobs, "I d-didn't think ab-bout... I don't want... I won't let it h-happen!"

Daphne, who was at the moment contemplating why it was that only recently she being exposed to so many tears, sat stiffly, allowing the other girl to cry until she was ready to speak. Eventually, the sobs subsided, punctuated by the occasional sniffle. "What am I supposed to do, Daphne?" she croaked.

"You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and stand tall," the blonde haired witch answered. "You stand tall; for yourself, your family, and your beliefs."

Rubbing the lingering tears from her eyes, Pansy nodded and stood. "Ok," she whispered.

"Good," said Daphne, "if you're ready, shall we return and introduce you properly to my boyfriend?"

"I... yeah..." Pansy acquiesced. She watched as Daphne dispelled the privacy charm on the door and slid it open. The hallway outside was empty; apparently the second years they had kicked out earlier had found a new compartment, possibly with other friends.

Returning to Daphne's original compartment, the first they saw upon entering was a madly blushing Harry, being watched in an almost predatory fashion by a grinning Tracey. Around them, Neville and Ron, who had returned along with Hermione during their absence, were fighting to contain their laughter. Hermione was looking rather indignant, while Luna continued to read her upside-down magazine as if nothing else was happening around her. Astoria was lightly giggling; a sight that brought a rare smile to Daphne's face.

"He'd better not have any emotional scarring from you, Tracey," Daphne chided humorously.

"Well... only a little," Tracey replied with mock bashfulness, before standing to allow Daphne to take her original seat back.

"Everyone; this is Pansy Parkinson. She's a friend of mine," Daphne stated sharply, seeing the glares that were being cast at the Slytherin prefect. "Pansy, I'm sure you know everyone here, at least by name."

At Pansy's terse nod, Daphne turned her gaze to examine the Gryffindors in the compartment. "Where did Ginevra go?"

"She left to go look for some of her other friends," Ron said, turning away from Pansy.

"She was uncomfortable with Tracey mentioning Harry's relationship with Daphne," said a rather dreamy voice. Everyone turned to look at Luna, who was peering over the top of her magazine. "She has a crush on you, you know," she said, addressing Harry.

"Er... yeah, I figured," Harry replied, scratching the back of his neck uncomfortably, "I just thought, well, hoped, she would have moved on."

"Oh no," Luna replied with a faint smile. "She hides it, but it's still there," she stated, before retreating back behind the cover of her magazine.

"Well... I'd best be heading out," Pansy announced, noticing that the stares of the Gryffindors were returning back to her. "Prefect duty," She explained weakly as she stood, tapping her silver badge with her finger.

A few minutes passed until quiet conversation began. Tracey began to chat quietly with Astoria, while Ron and Neville began a game of exploding snaps. Hermione withdrew a book from her luggage and immersed herself within.

"Hey, Daphne," Harry whispered.

"Hmm?" she responded.

"I just realized; your father wants you and your sister back under his control, right?" he asked, "What happens when he figures out you're at Hogwarts? Won't he be able to pull you out of school?"

"Don't worry about that," she replied, "I have something to help me deal with that roadblock when it comes." Unconsciously, her fingers brushed against the folded piece of paper in her pocket.

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August 15th, 1995

The remainder of the trip to Diagon Alley had gone smoothly and without incident. Well, aside from Fred and George being kicked out of the Apothecary for starting an impromptu game of catch with one of the bezoars that were on display. Encumbered by books and various other school supplies, the group returned to Grimmauld Place at around 5:00 in the afternoon.

Begging off with the excuse of being tired, Daphne detached herself from the rest of the youths of the house and made her way to her room, where she would be able to examine the third and final item from her mother's vault in solitude. Her excuse was easily accepted by all, and she easily slipped away

"Hello, Daphne," a small voice greeted as Daphne entered her room. "Did you enjoy your trip to Diagon Alley?"

Daphne cast a smile at her younger sister before wrapping her in a hug. The smaller girl leaned into the embrace, finding a comfort in her sister's arms that she never could find anywhere else. When Daphne finally released the hug, she held Astoria at arm's length and gave the young witch a once-over.

The scar on her cheek from their father's knife still stood out, though through Madame Pomfrey's treatment, it had faded. Looking into her eyes, Daphne could see a light within her younger sister that had never been there. She seemed happier now than she had ever been.

"It was much fun," Daphne said in response to her sister's question. "Listen, I have something I need to look over for a while. Why don't you read that book on runes I gave you yesterday?"

With a faint smile and an obedient nod, Astoria picked up a tome from her bedside table and began reading. Seeing that her sister was indeed occupied, Daphne withdrew the final, unopened box from her mother's vault and spelled it back to regular size.

Opening the box revealed its contents to be various pieces of parchment of different sizes. Selecting one at random, she withdrew the sheet and began reading the writing that was scrawled on its surface.

Dear Narcissa,

I'm writing to let you know the good news; our daughter was finally born yesterday. We've decided to name her Daphne, after Cygnus' great aunt, though we wavered on the possibility of using 'Gemini'. The healers say she's perfectly healthy, and there were no complications with the birth.

We will be returning home later today, and it would mean so much to us if you could come over then and meet your god-daughter.

Love, Valdis Greengrass

Daphne froze, gripping the paper in her hands tightly. This was her mother's writing. Her mother had written about her! Franticly, she grabbed another paper, this time one from the back and began to read it.

Dear Alastor,

I request another meeting with you; it's urgent. I fear that Lucius is growing suspicious of my disappearances, and I'm running low on excuses. You swore an oath, that in exchange for my intel, you would help me protect my daughters from any backlash it could create.

Well, I'm calling in that oath. I will be alone with Daphne tonight in manor. Meet us there at 9:00.

-Valdis

Daphne growled upon reading the name of the addressee. Setting aside her dislike of the man, she continued reading, before doing a double take.

'You swore an oath, that in exchange for my intel, you would help me protect my daughters from any backlash it could create.' The letter clearly said 'daughters'; plural.

Deciding to dismiss it as a mistake on her mother's part, Daphne moved on, withdrawing a very official piece of parchment from the front.

'Herein lies an official copy of the last will and testament of Valdis Greengrass, nee Ehrensvärd, as recognized by the Ministry of Magic of Sweden.'

Reading through the document, Daphne found herself browsing through sections that explained exactly was to happen during several unlikely events. It was tedious, and Daphne rolled her eyes at some of the more ludicrous situations outlined in the will. But Daphne couldn't fault her mother on being thorough.

It was after reading a rather detailed passage that described what should happen in the event that her mother was turned into a vampire before her death that her eyes halted on one particular section that captured her interest.

'Article XVII

After the event of my death, should my daughter, Daphne Greegrass, or her yet unborn sister, find themselves disinherited from the Greengrass line, the Ehrensvärd emancipation clause will be invoked. This allows them to be recognized by law as adults.'

Daphne's eyes widened as she read and reread the passage over again. There was no mistake; her mother had left a loophole for her to dodge through. She could go to Hogwarts without worrying about her father.

'or her yet unborn sister'

The words stuck in Daphne's mind. Had her mother been expecting when she had died? Astoria had been born nearly a year afterwards, so there was no way it could have been her.

Then, something dawned on Daphne; her father had never let the public know that Astoria was in fact a half-blood. It shamed him to think that he had soiled himself by touching Astoria's birth mother. Perhaps, as far as the rest of the world knew, Astoria was Daphne's full-blooded sister.

Across the room, Astoria hummed a melodious tune as she flipped through her book, unaware of the thoughts running through her sister's mind.

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September 1st, 1995

It wasn't long until the Hogwarts express rolled to a stop at Hogsmeade station. The four Gryffindors, alongside their two Slytherin and two Ravenclaw companions filed out of the train and began searching for an available carriage.

"Why do you reckon they have those creatures pulling the carriages?" Harry asked Daphne, "They didn't have them last year, or the year before."

Daphne followed Harry's line of sight to the empty tongues at the front of the carriages that, as they had been for the past three years, empty. "Are you having a laugh?" she asked incredulously, "There's nothing there."

"Right there," Harry replied in frustration, pointing to the vacant area in front of the nearest wagon.

Daphne placed a hand on his forehead. "No... no fever," she murmured, "I guess the Prophet's got it right; you have gone barmy."

Harry huffed in frustration and gave her a glare. "I actually see something. I don't know what it is; but it looks like a demon horse with wings."

"A demon horse with wings?" Daphne asked with a smirk, "An evil Pegasus?"

Harry rolled his eyes and waved her off. Deciding he wasn't going to change her mind, he made his way over to the carriage his friends were climbing into, when a tug on his robes stopped him.

Turning around, he saw Astoria, pulling on his sleeve. "I see them too," she whispered, before releasing his sleeve.

Daphne, who had followed closely behind Harry, let out a sigh. "Right, so maybe I'm the one who's gone mad," she muttered to herself before piling into the carriage after her sister.

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The sorting ceremony came and went, followed by the always enjoyable opening feast. Daphne sighed contentedly, while beside her Tracey groaned in discomfort. "Ugh! I ate way too many mince meat pies. I feel like I'm gonna burst," she moaned.

"You did that to yourself," Daphne scoffed at her friend.

Tracey let out a grunt before leaning her head on the recently cleared table.

Behind them, Dumbledore rose to begin his star of term speech. Daphne chose not to pay attention to the speech, in favour of scanning the Slytherin table. A few places down sat Draco Malfoy, quietly conversing with Theodore Nott and Blaise Zabini. She strained to hear what was being said, but had no luck discerning anything.

Across from him, Crabbe and Goyle appeared to be playing some sort of game that involved rapping each other on the knuckles. Beside them, Millicent Bullstrode was looking over her shoulder, looking at the headmaster and very poorly feigning interest in his speech.

"Bloody hell; that's the Undersecretary to Fudge!" hissed Pansy, snapping Daphne from her examination of her housemates. Turning to where Pansy was looking, Daphne saw a rather squat, lumpy woman, that somewhat resembled a toad standing at the head table, addressing the students.

Casting her eyes about the Great Hall, she noted that most of the students had incredulous looks on their faces as they watched the plump woman talk. When she reached the Gryffindor table, her eyes immediately sought out Harry. Spotting him, she noticed the intense look of disgust on his face, as he stared at the woman with an expression that said that he'd like nothing better than to march to the front and strangle her.

Internally, Daphne began to laugh. 'Dolores Umbridge', she thought, 'you're going to make things almost too easy.'

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